Top Day Trips from Business Travel Destinations
There’s nothing like making the most of a business trip with a small ‘bleisure’ vacation.
Combining business and leisure while traveling isn’t a novel concept.
And if you’re going to be traveling to a particular destination anyway, why not make the most of it?
Well, in this post, you’re going to learn about some hidden gems that you can find in some of the most popular U.S. business travel destinations.
Some of these may sound familiar. But there are probably also a few you’ve never heard of.
It’s time to crank your ‘bleisure’ knob all the way up to maximum, and make the most of that business trip with a road trip on the side.
Table of Contents
1. Tony Knowles Coastal Trail: Near Anchorage, AK
2. Grand Canyon National Park: Near Phoenix, AZ
3. Zion National Park: Near Las Vegas, NV
4. Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve: Near Kansas City, KS
5. Scandinavian Heritage Park: Near Bismarck, ND
6. Niagara Falls: Near New York City, NY
7. Angel Island State Park: Near San Francisco, CA
8. Indiana Dunes National Park: Near Chicago, IL
9. Lake Mineral Wells State Park & Trailway: Near Dallas/Fort Worth, TX
10. Mount Rainier National Park: Near Seattle, WA
11. Mount Magazine State Park: Near Bentonville, Arkansas
12. Split Rock Lighthouse State Park: Near Minneapolis, MN
13. The George Washington Masonic National Memorial: Near Washington D.C.
13 Adventure Travel Trips From Business Destinations in the United States
Schedule that trip to the Amazon, Argentina, or the Himalayas later on.
If you’re down for an adventure, this is the list to help you chalk up some serious life experiences in your travel journal.
1. Tony Knowles Coastal Trail: Near Anchorage, Alaska
Distance from Anchorage: 9 minutes/4.5 miles.
According to statistics, an estimated 2.26 million visitors traveled to Alaska between May and September of 2019. Anchorage hosts 61 large scale business events per year, and of course suppliers, sales persons, and other business leaders travel there for business daily.
Business taking you to the breathtaking city of Anchorage?
The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail follows the shore of Cook Inlet all the way from downtown Anchorage to Kincaid Park. It’s one of the four “greenbelt trails” located in Anchorage.
It’s an excellent trail for biking, walking, wildlife viewing, and small group trekking excursions.
The trail provides incredible views of downtown Anchorage and the Chugach Mountains, Mt. McKinley, Mount Susitna, and Fire Island.
If you’re already in Anchorage, this is a must-visit adventure travel destination.
Plus, it’ll get you pretty close to “arctic” geography, which is awesome.
2. Grand Canyon National Park: Near Phoenix, Arizona
Distance from Phoenix: 3 hours 40 minutes/230 miles.
Who doesn’t want to experience the incredible wonders of the Grand Canyon?
Plus, with Phoenix quadrupling the number of local startups, and investing $5 billion in infrastructure over the past decade, they’ve become a seriously heavy-hitting business destination as well.
But let’s talk about the Grand Canyon.
This beautiful and breathtaking national treasure encompasses 277 miles of the Colorado River and connected uplands.
The canyon itself is a mile deep, 18 miles wide, and lined with layered bands of beautiful, colorful rock.
As far as natural wonders and sights go, it’s a tough national park to beat.
If you’re into adventure travel and plan to visit Arizona, this is a must-visit natural wonder.
Related: The Best Hotels in Phoenix When You’re Traveling for Business
3. Zion National Park: Near Las Vegas, Nevada
Distance from Las Vegas: 2 hours 35 minutes/159.8 miles.
Leading the nation in small-business growth from 1998 to 2003, Las Vegas has become a true, bustling business hub in the U.S.
And Zion National Park is a natural wonder in this area that’s just too good to miss.
Formed by ancient iterations of the Virginia River, Zion National Park is a fantastic place to hike, bike, or camp. You can even go canyoneering, climbing, backpacking, and horseback riding.
This park is so beautiful that you’ll wonder if you’ve been suddenly transported to Morocco or Patagonia!
Kayaking is available, but going through The Narrows at Zion is dangerous, and only expert paddlers should attempt it.
Want to go whitewater rafting instead?
First, you’ll need to pick up your free pass from the visitor center. (And don’t forget your personal flotation device!)
If you’re a little overwhelmed by what to do, consider signing up for one of their one-day group tours.
You can even join park rangers who are actual tour operators and go in-depth to learn more about the park itself.
4. Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve: Near Kansas City, Kansas
Distance from Kansas City: 2 hours/131.1 miles.
Business has been booming in KC over the past 5 years. In fact, 15 KC-area companies made it into Inc.’s 250 fastest-growing Midwest businesses list, and 7 were in the top 50!
Interested in experiencing the ecosystem that once covered 170 million acres of North America but is now mostly (all but 4%) farmland?
Then Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is the perfect wishlist item on your business downtime itinerary.
This preserve protects the last significant remnant of the once vast American tallgrass prairie ecosystem.
This is a different type of prairie/grassland ecosystem than you’ll find in South Africa or Zambia. And it’s fascinating.
There’s fishing, a visitor center, and even a full-day hike if you set out for “marker 27” on the north end of the preserve.
You can see bison and take in the breathtaking tallgrass landscape on this adventure.
The hike is about 4 to 12 hours in length, so you’ll have plenty of time to see the sights.
Just don’t forget to bring some water, and pack a lunch!
5. Scandinavian Heritage Park: Near Bismarck, North Dakota
Distance from Bismarck: 1 hour 47 minutes/109.4 miles.
Not many people would consider North Dakota a business destination. But did you know that the ‘Roughrider State’ is not only the largest producer of grains in the U.S., but also the second largest producer of buckwheat?
Business travelers from the farming and manufacturing industries visit the destination regularly, and many would tell you not to miss Scandinavian Heritage Park.
The Scandinavian Heritage Park is globally known as the only outdoor museum with displays featuring all five Nordic countries.
Here, you’ll take in sights from Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland.
Some of the museum displays include a 240-year-old log house from Norway, a Gol Stave Church Museum, a Danish windmill, and more.
If you love Scandinavian heritage and want something “historical” to check out on your next trip to North Dakota, this could be a terrific option.
6. Niagara Falls: Near New York City, New York
Distance from New York City: 6 hours 29 minutes/408.4 miles.
Sitting right on the border between the United States and Canada, Niagara Falls is one of the most famous waterfalls in the world.
Also, a lot of people don’t know this, but being located in a strategic location between New York and Toronto, it’s also low-key a major hub for many different types of business in the U.S.
It’s also a geological wonder and has been a popular landmark and tourist attraction for over 200 years. Niagara Falls rests as a fixture of the Niagara River, which is a 36-mile channel that serves to connect Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.
The river and the waterfall here are so beautiful that you’ll start to wonder if you’ve stepped across some kind of “magical line” into the Andes or Nepal.
There are several ways to experience this natural wonder during a day-trip visit.
You can take a boat out to the base of the waterfall to experience the spray first-hand. You can also visit Old Fort Niagara or the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens. If you’re feeling brave, walk the “Hurricane Deck” to get within a few feet of the “Bridal Veil Falls” themselves!
7. Angel Island State Park: Near San Francisco, California
Distance from San Francisco: 12 Minutes/1 mile.
San Francisco is a hub for IT, life sciences, biotech, and international business. In fact, it’s a primary hub for international trade, and is a global focal point for the international economy in several sectors.
Angel Island State Park is on one of the many islands off the coast of San Francisco Bay.
But it’s still technically a road trip in our book. You’ll need to drive to the bay, where a 12-minute ferry ride will carry you the remaining one mile out to the island, allowing you to explore it at your leisure.
You can tour the U.S. Immigration Station on the island, but there are also 740 acres of beautiful parkland to explore.
There are gorgeous beaches, picnic areas, and hiking trails.
Depending on what trails you decide to hike, set aside a good three hours to cover all the notable areas.
From Angel Island’s beautiful beaches, you can find amazing views of not only the bay area itself but also Alcatraz, Oakland, and Berkeley.
There are even restaurants on the island, so you don’t have to pack your own lunch!
Related: The 7 Best Hotels in San Francisco for Business Travelers
8. Indiana Dunes National Park: Near Chicago, Illinois
Distance from Chicago: 44 minutes/34.7 miles.
Chicago is listed as one of the ‘top ten Global Financial Centres’ in the world, with some key sectors being infrastructure, industry, and telecommunications.
The Indiana Dunes National Park stretches along 15 miles of the shore of Lake Michigan.
It’s a beautiful beach along the great lakes, offering beach-going, swimming, and other outdoor activities.
Hiking, bird-watching, fishing, boating, geocaching, and horseback riding are just a few of the activities you can participate in while visiting the park.
The park gets its name from the beautiful sandy dunes that dot the landscape along the beach.
You can even hike the “Diana Dunes Dare,” a hiking challenge based on an old ghost story. The hike follows the story of Alice Mabel Gray, a.ka. Diana of the Dunes.
She lived on her own amidst the sandy countryside in a small shanty for over nine years back in the 1900s.
All things considered, the Indiana Dunes National Park is one of the most biologically diverse climates in the entire United States.
There are over 50 miles of trails, giving you access to a vast range of landscapes, including:
- River systems
- Oak savannas
See also: The Top 6 Hotels for Business in Chicago
9. Lake Mineral Wells State Park & Trailway: Near Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
Distance from Dallas: 1 hour 32 minutes/78 miles.
Dallas’ prominence as a modern business hub arose from it’s vital importance in the oil and cotton industries, coupled with the fact that it was connected to the rest of the country by numerous railway lines. Today, it’s a major high tech hub, and a destination for a great deal of business travel.
Lake Mineral Wells State Park & Trailway lies in the heart of cattle-country near Dallas, Texas.
It boasts some truly breathtaking scenery and rich natural history.
But you’ll also find:
- Rock climbing
- Miles of trails
If you’ll be near the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex for business, taking a day off to explore is a worthwhile way to spend some time. If you haven’t had a chance to explore the beautiful Texas backcountry yet — get ready for 12.8 miles of available trails!
10. Mount Rainier National Park: Near Seattle, Washington
Distance from Seattle: 1 hour 51 minutes/90.4 miles.
A lot of people don’t realize that Seattle is one of the nation’s leading locations for new tech startups. So it’s little wonder that it sees so much business travel on a yearly basis.
Mount Rainier National Park, adopted as a national park back in 1899, was the fifth national park to fall under the protection of the U.S. government.
It’s known as “the highest volcanic peak in the contiguous United States.”
From a distance, it stands tall — a magnificent, picturesque mountain peak that you can see from miles away. But it also boasts the world’s largest volcanic glacier cave system.
It’s truly a natural wonder and a sight that anyone who loves nature should consider visiting.
They offer short hikes, or you can challenge the Wonderland Trail, a massive 93-mile hike that encircles the entirety of Mount Rainier.
It’s a strenuous affair. It winds up and down through several elevation changes, taking you through lowland forests and valleys and then up into high alpine and subalpine areas.
National Geographic has extensively reviewed the park. It’s truly a wonder of the NorthWestern American wilderness.
Related: Top 10 Hotels for Business in Seattle
11. Mount Magazine State Park: Near Bentonville, Arkansas
Distance from Bentonville: 2 hours 11 minutes/127.6 miles.
Bentonville may not be another ‘silicon valley.’ But as the location for the original Walmart headquarters, built in 1971 by Sam Walton himself, this area’s economy has continued to boom and grow in recent years.
Mount Magazine State Park centers around Mount Magazine itself, Arkansas’s highest point — coming in at 2,752 feet.
The sweeping views of the beautiful Ozark countryside are what bring most visitors to this park. But it also offers a ton of other amenities.
It’s known as a place where you can relax, explore, hike, picnic, climb rocks, and study and observe nature. There’s backpacking, ATV riding, horseback riding, mountain biking, and even a local lodge with a restaurant.
This is also a location where you can enjoy the beauty and serenity of the Ozark-St. Francis National Forests.
This is definitely a “natural wonder” to check out if you’re down in the Arkansas region.
12. Split Rock Lighthouse State Park: Near Minneapolis, Minnesota
Distance from Minneapolis: 3 hours 14 minutes/201.1 miles.
Minneapolis is a strong economic performer in the U.S., despite not being a ‘tech cluster’ city. They have a diversified business portfolio, focused on corporate headquarters for retail chains, food brands, industrial manufacturers, energy companies, and more.
Situated on the north shore of Lake Superior, Split Rock Lighthouse State Park offers incredible lakeside opportunities for visitors desiring to experience the great lake in all its natural glory.
Besides the Split Rock Lighthouse, there’s a small historic fishing village called Little Two Harbors, a visitor center, a picnic site, and Pebble Beach!
This is one of the most visited and visually beautiful lighthouses in the world. You’ve most likely seen it featured in pictures because it’s been photographed countless times.
The lighthouse is operational, even to this day — though it’s no longer in active service.
Every year, they light the beacon on the 10th of November, in remembrance of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald back in 1975.
See also: 13 Best Business Hotels in Minneapolis
13. The George Washington Masonic National Memorial: Near Washington D.C.
Distance from Washington DC: 21 minutes/9.6 miles.
The capital of the United States has long been a business leader in the nation. It’s a massive business hub that boasts a range of community tech companies and startups in various assorted different sectors.
The George Washington Masonic National Memorial, located in Alexandria, Virginia, has been around since the 1920s. It’s an active, historic nine-story neoclassical Masonic temple built and maintained by the Freemasons of the United States in memory of the first U.S. president.
In 2015, the site was named a National Historic Landmark and today it serves the public as a research library, cultural space, and performing arts center.
The building itself is well known for its beautiful architecture, and caretakers keep the grounds in absolutely immaculate condition.
There are normally tours available, but check ahead of time for current covid procedures. This is an absolute must-visit location if you’re a history buff or a fan of studying the earliest days of the birth of the United States of America.
This extensive list of 13 business trip adventures within the U.S. should give you some incredible inspiration for exploration on your next travel day off.
In the meantime?
Get those plane tickets ready and pack your bags. There’s a lot of world to see and experience out there.
Let the adventure begin.
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Audrey Fairbrother is the Content and SEO Manager at Hotel Engine. She spends her days writing about all things business travel, researching topics that are important to Hotel Engine’s audience and cultivating the company’s brand voice. When she’s not working, Audrey enjoys spending time with her family, and hiking in the nearby Rockies with her dog, Albie.