From local gardens to urban parks to national parks, there is no lack of natural beauty to be explored and enjoyed as we head into Memorial Day weekend and the warm summer weather. Whether you’re planning a far-flung family trip or a “stay-cation” in your own backyard, you can lace up your tennis shoes and trek through these gorgeous pieces of nature, an inexpensive but memorable way to spend a day or two.
Glacier Bay National Park near Juneau, AK
Glacier Bay is part of a 25-million acre World Heritage Site, one of the world’s largest internationally protected areas. Dynamic blue glaciers, temperate rainforest, coastlines, mountains and deep fjords cover the 3.3 million acres that define the Glacier Bay National Park. You can observe this untouched wilderness from a cruise ship, or better yet, via an unforgettable air tour.
Shore Acre State Park – Coos Bay, OR
This park was once the estate of the timber baron Louis Simpson, and features beautiful gardens, including a Japanese-style garden and two rose gardens. Perched on sandstone cliffs above the ocean with spectacular ocean views, you may have the privilege of seeing gray whales during migration. A variety of events are hosted onsite throughout the year.
Forest Park includes over 5,100 wooded acres, and is considered to be the largest, forested natural area within city limits in the United States. The park includes natural areas, tours, biking trails, equestrian trails, and hiking trails – all amongst the great natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Open from 5 am until 10 pm, it’s worth breaking out the binoculars and scoping out a trail to view the more than 112 bird and 62 mammal species that call the park their home.
International Rose Test Gardens – Portland, OR
This garden serves as a testing ground for rose varieties, which have the opportunity to win one of the City of Portland Gold Medal Awards each year. The oldest public garden of its kind in the U.S., the International Rose Test Garden includes more than 10,000 plantings of over 500 varieties of roses. This garden is currently open from 7:30am to 9:00 pm daily.
Hot Springs Garvan Woodland Gardens – Hot Springs, AR
This botanic garden, maintained by the University of Arkansas, provides visitors with a lovely array of majestic botanical landscapes, set against the picturesque Ouachita Mountains. Hundreds of rare scrubs, trees, camellias, magnolias and azaleas have been carefully planted amongst the pine trees and creeks that characterize the area. There are also Japanese maples and tree peonies in the Japanese inspired Garden of the Pine Wind, in addition to rock gardens, bulbs, and perennials. This garden is sure to delight visitors any time of year.
Hot Springs National Park – Hot Springs, AR
Hot Springs National Park surrounds the north end of the city of Hot Springs. People were first attracted to the area when thermal springs were discovered after it was acquired in the Louisiana Purchase. In 1916 the National Park Service was established, and was designated as the eighteenth national park in 1921. Bath houses opened (Bathhouse Row) and attracted visitors seeking the healing of thermal waters in the area until through the 1960s, and were eventually revitalized, housing museums, shops, and more. Today, you can still enjoy the thermal waters of Hot Springs National Park, by either visiting one of two operating bathhouses, or collecting spring water to drink from faucets placed around the city.
Bull Shoals – White River State Park near Harrison, AR
Amidst the Ozark Mountains, you’ll find this state park, home of the largest lake in the state (45, 440 acres of water). The lake is full of lunker bass, catfish, crappie, and bream for the angler in the family, while the rest of the crew can enjoy boating and swimming. There are 102 campsites, several picnic areas, hiking trails, and an off-shore marina where you can rent kayaks, boats, and canoes. This lush, green state park is a popular choice for the residents of Arkansas and surrounding states.
Have a great Memorial Day Weekend!