Whenever my friends talk about their family trips, they always mention destinations like London, Paris or Venice. They discuss the architecture and culture of foreign places I have never set foot in, unless you can count the time I went to “England” at Epcot Center.
My vacations have always been on American soil. I may not have seen the Eiffel Tower or the canals of Venice, but I have seen the home of our nation’s government, the gorgeous glaciers of Alaska and the sparkling white beaches of Florida. I have sailed on a chain of lakes in Minnesota, witnessed the snow fall in Colorado and eaten dinner at Windows on the World, the restaurant that used to be on top of the World Trade Center, which provided a spectacular view of New York City. I have visited the Statue of Liberty, the United Nations headquarters and the French Quarter in New Orleans.
Even the seemingly mundane states have wonders of their own. For instance, South Dakota has Mount Rushmore, a stunning monument to four of our presidents. Oklahoma, which I would have once described as the most pointless state, has the stunning memorial to those affected by the Oklahoma City Bombing, a spot everyone should visit.
Most rarely travel in the United States, preferring to venture overseas. They are missing out on our melting pot of culture and traditions from countries all over the world. Few countries can claim such a multicultural society, yet most of my friends have not even visited five states, although they may have been to five European countries. It is a huge tragedy that we do not have the same interest in visiting places near us.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.