In referencing Dr. Seuss’s light-hearted children’s story, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!,” a meaningful message about the importance of seizing new opportunities, keeping an open-mind, and trying new things stands out. I’ve learned that life is certainly one huge adventure, jam-packed with unexpected twists and turns. The excitement, adventure and craziness of these experiences, however, make life special and create long lasting memories.

This underlying message about taking chances and pushing beyond your comfort zone has inspired me to take advantage of the country I live in by experiencing the United States’ unique culture and distinguishing geographical features. There’s so much waiting at your fingertips, so adventure beyond the borders of Michigan this summer and broaden your horizons. As college students, we’re young, full of energy and passion, and we possess a strong sense of adventure. Be responsible, make good choices, but most of all, have fun while you explore and discover the hidden gems in the Land of the Free.

Once you get behind the wheel or find your seat 14C on the airplane, the adventure begins. Whether you’re headed north, east, south or west, you’ll be exposed to new scenery, authentic cuisine and diverse lifestyles. To kick-start your tour of the United States, there a few destinations that should receive top priority on the travel list:

“I left my heart in San Francisco.” Get a taste of the laid-back West Coast atmosphere by visiting San Francisco, home of the Golden Gate Bridge and Fisherman’s Wharf. “San Fran” is a popular tourist destination filled with California sunshine, high spirits and wonderful adventure. Take a tour of Alcatraz and see the prison cells that the Anglin brothers and Frank Morris busted out of nearly 50 years ago. Spend some time at Pier 39 to see hundreds of enormous sea lions barking and lounging all day long. Walking along the Golden Gate Bridge — the ultimate symbol of the city — is a must. Take lots of pictures so you can look back on this experience ten years from now.

“It’s up to you, New York, New York.” If you’ve never been to the “city that never sleeps,” the glamorous lights of Broadway await you, so prepare to submerge yourself in a hectic city that bustles around the clock. From the monumental Statue of Liberty to the famous American Museum of Natural History, New York City is a magical place filled with plenty of energy and entertainment. There’s quite a lot of culture to explore in this chaotic yet one-of-a kind East Coast hot spot.

“Welcome To D.C.” Visiting our nation’s capital, though a less leisurely and more educational trip, will be a rewarding and enriching experience. Take a stroll through The National Mall and touch the Washington Monument, one of the classic symbols of American government. Spend hours at the Smithsonian museums where you can explore American history, wildlife or aeronautic exhibits. While you’re out and about sightseeing, be sure to snap photos by the White House, the U.S. Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial.

If you’re adventurous enough to think outside the box even further, experience America’s natural beauty by visiting the Grand Canyon or immerse yourself in American pop culture while dancing at a live country music “honky-tonk” in Nashville.

There really are no limits or boundaries. It’s important to take advantage of all the opportunities that allow us to experience things we wouldn’t normally be exposed to on a daily basis. Gaining a rich and diverse cultural understanding and appreciation of our country can go a long way, so these destinations across the United States mark the beginning of your traveling expeditions. An open mind can get you all the way to San Francisco.

Caroline Syms is an LSA sophomore.

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