By Melissa Muth, Career Advancement Program Assistant

The Career Advancement Program at CCI Greenheart promotes not only professional development, but cultural immersion as well. It is our hope that our interns and trainees are able to explore the many great destinations the U.S. has to offer- from NYC’s Central Park to the world-famous L.A. Hollywood sign to Chicago’s Willis Tower. But let’s also not forget about the more “off the beaten path” destinations! Not sure where we’re going with this? No worries! The CAP team has some suggestions for you as you plan your travels throughout the U.S.:

Minneapolis, Minnesota

“One of my favorite (less frequented) cities in the U.S. is Minneapolis, MN. It is one of the ‘Twin Cities’ (along with St. Paul), but it has a very small town feel. I have never met nicer people, who love where they live more than the Minneapolitans. Among the many things to do, its national claim to fame is the behemoth that is The Mall of America. I remember I went into 3 stores and walked the entire thing- it took about 4 hours! It’s definitely a site to behold with its basement aquarium and indoor theme park. Outside of this massive structure, Minneapolis has a lot to offer.    I recommend trying the famous “Jucy Lucy”, a delicious burger with cheese inside the meat, but be careful ‘cause they’ll warn you about the cheese (it’s molten hot)! Minneapolis boasts being the most bike friendly city, the most beard friendly city, the most gay friendly city, the most hipster city, the healthiest city, and the number one golfing city. It has many local brews and small businesses with local artisans, and it was the first major city along the Mississippi River. I definitely recommend visiting this great Midwestern city, where I could definitely see myself living, if I didn’t love Chicago as much as I do! “  –Luis

New Orleans, Louisiana

Hands down, I recommend all visitors to the U.S. go to New Orleans! New Orleans, and in fact the whole state of Louisiana, is famous for huge Mardi Gras celebrations which include parades, colored beads, and traditional bands. It doesn’t matter what time of year you go, though, because that spirit infuses life year-round. “Let the Good Times Roll” is the motto of New Orleans. While there, take a stroll down Bourbon Street and tour the old French Quarter; listen to world-famous jazz music on Frenchmen Street; take a bike or walking tour to learn about the Creole culture; tour the beautiful Garden District; volunteer with Habitat for Humanity on hurricane relief efforts which have been ongoing since 2004; and, of course, eat famous foods like meat and seafood stew called “gumbo,” fresh oysters “on the half shell,” powdered doughnuts called “beignets,” and shrimp sandwiches called “Po’boys.” This city is like nowhere else in the world! –Lauren

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Dells is one of those lesser known tourist destinations to explore and enjoy. A popular vacation spot for Midwesterners, the Dells is the home to more water parks than any other area in the U.S. Additionally, the Dells is home to amusement parks, camping areas, canoeing opportunities, and great dining.  Not only is it a great summer vacation spot, but it’s also great for a winter getaway. Specifically, skiing and snowboarding are popular activities. If you’re looking for your next adventure, visit Wisconsin Dells with a few friends, rent a cabin, and explore all that this offbeat location has to offer!  –Cara

Palm Springs, California

While there’s much to love about the major cities of southern California, if you’re like me you enjoy taking a breather and removing yourself from the hustle and bustle. Just two hours from both L.A. and San Diego you’ll find yourself in one of the state’s finest nooks: Palm Springs. First and foremost, Palm Springs offers the beauty of the mountains, the warmth of the dry desert heat (perfect for those who dislike humidity), and an “island” feel brought by the palm trees. It has many attractions, including golf courses, art galleries, museums, and the famous Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, where you can ride up the Chino Canyon to go cross-country skiing and hiking, or simply enjoy lunch with a view. The city is even a place of holiday homes for old-time Hollywood stars like as Frank Sinatra and Lucille Ball! As you can see, Palm Springs is a lovely “off the beaten path” destination. –Melissa

What unique places have you encountered during your travels? For a chance to be featured on our blog email your favorite “off the beaten path” destinations to CAP(AT)ccigreenheart(DOT)org.