As our world becomes more and more technologically connected, we begin to lose touch with the natural beauty of our country. According to the National Park Service - a branch of the United States Department of the Interior - "over 418 areas covering more than 85 million acres in every state, DC, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands" are protected National Parks. Here is a list of sights - many of whom are national parks - or monuments that YOU must see before you retire.
1. The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is one of America's best wonders. Located in Northern Arizona this wonder is accessible Year Round and possess natural earthen beauty unlike anywhere else. Additionally, there are several opportunities to hike in and along the Grand Canyon as well as even ride a Donkey through the Canyon itself. I believe this is the #1 place one should visit before entering the workforce, as it truly shows you the raw power that nature holds. The Colorado River ran down from the Rocky Mountains and chiseled the Canyon over thousands of years, making it into what it is today. Finally, as evidenced in the picture above, it is extremely gorgeous at and after sunset.
2. Abraham Lincoln's Log House
Abe Lincoln's Log Farmhouse
Abraham Lincoln's Log house or Log Farmhouse - both located in my home state of Illinois - are attractions that one MUST see. To me, it symbolizes the true American Dream. It shows what individuals had to do back in the 19th Century just to survive. It symbolizes the hard work and perseverance that our past generations possessed and it shows us how we as a nation and as individuals need to work hard in order to become powerful, as opposed to wishing for the government to give it to us for free.
3. Redwood Forests
The Redwood Forests
The Redwood Forest is a place that can truly return us to our roots. It shows us the power and beauty of nature and allows us to witness some of the tallest tree's in both America and the World.
4. The World War Two Memorial
The World War Two Memorial
This - as well as the one that follows it - is by far is one of my favorite monuments to visit. I am an avid military guy and I loved learning about World War Two. When I visited Washington D.C a few years ago, the power and sheer awe of this monument truly highlight the titanic struggle and immense sacrifice that "The Greatest Generation" made for our great country.
5. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Like mentioned above, the Vietnam Memorial is another memorial that honors the service and sacrifice of our nations bravest soldiers. This monument is extremely powerful, yet it is the most simple of the war memorials in Washington D.C. This memorial consists of two long rows of black granite blocks conjoined in the middle. What makes it truly powerful, is that each and every name of all of the soldiers who passed away are inscribed on this memorial.
6. The Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty
Like it was to immigrants who were legally trying to enter into the United States throughout history, the Statue of Liberty is something that I would recommend everyone see. A short ferry ride off of the coast of New York City, one has the ability to climb up to the top of the statue and view the surrounding area around the statue: An amazing view of New York City and the Hudson Bay area.
7. The Washington Memorial
The Washington Monument
Although it certainly does not look like much, the Washington Monument - a concrete pillar that salutes the dedication to our nation given to us by George Washington - is one of my places I would recommend. Like the Statue of Liberty, one has the ability to climb up the stairs to the top and view out over the entire National Mall: Quite the scenic view.
8. The Lincoln Memorial
The Lincoln Memorial
Many say he is the greatest if not the second greatest president of our history - behind George Washington. However, the history and accomplishments of Lincoln truly come alive when you walk up the long set of stairs towards a giant statue of "Honest Abe".
9. Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park
I have actually never been here before. However, just like the Redwood Forests and the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park is a true symbol of the natural beauty of America. Additionally, there are several types of animals at the park that you can see as well as amazing geysers (like the one pictured above) that only add to the experience.