TODAY

TODAY   |  June 26, 2013

5 beautiful places every American should visit

Jeanenne Tornatore, a senior travel editor for Orbitz, shares some of the nation’s hidden gems to visit if you’re celebrating the Fourth of July holiday by traveling, including Durango, Co. and the San Juan Islands in Wa.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> all right. a lot of families are getting ready for summer vacations, so in the spirit of independence day coming up next week, we wanted it check out patriotic destinati destinations.

>> jeanine is orbitz senior travel editor and has the five must-see places that are a little off the beaten tracks.

>> everyone knows about d.c., get gettysburg. here's some places you may not have thought of that are still fantastic places to see in america.

>> and affordable too, right?

>> very affordable.

>> let's start with charlottesville, virginia.

>> founding father who went on to become thomas jefferson 's home is here.

>> first vineyard in america.

>> we know all the wineries around here. university of virginia is here, and weaved into the community the history here, lots of tours and educational things to do.

>> what's your hotel pick?

>> boar's head inn, set on 573 acres. it's beautiful and owned and operated by the university of virginia foundation.

>> great.

>>> next we go to houston, texas, for the johnson space center .

>> opened in 1961 , this is where the first astronauts were quarantined when they came back from the moon. there are a lot of great exhibits for the family. they have a film that puts you in the shoes of an astronaut from training, through the first mission. it's beautiful. there is a nasa tram tour that takes you through the old rocket park where a lot of the rockets are.

>> especially if kids are space minded.

>> let's go to st. louis, missouri, shall we?

>> a lot of the smaller midwest cities are often overlooked and st. louis is second only to washington, d.c. in terms of free attractions and museums. home to the gateway arch , the largest manmade monument. there is a 19th century paddle park refuge, twice the size of central park , and my hotel pick is the moon rise hotel. it's in the loop district, most rejuvenated shopping area, beautiful terrace.

>> all right.

>> nice one to stay at.

>> i love durango, colorado. this is where the old west survived and thrived. now it's a big mecca for mountain biking , outdoor activities. started in 1881 as a railroad town . mesa verde national park is nearby. it's known for the durango railroad.

>> you like the double tree there.

>> i do. it's set on a scenic river, $209 a night. you can walk to downtown or the railroad.

>> quickly, the san juan islands in the northeast.

>> might not know of it if you haven't been there. it's beautiful. there are over 450 islands. obama actually in march proclaimed it a national monument , so it helps protect some of the land, and you can take ferries. only accessible by ferry or sea plane . you can take ferries from downtown seattle in the summer, rent mopeds.

>> this is the time of year to go.

>> hotel, quickly.

>> sorrento hotel, $122 a night. everyone from the vanderbilts to bono has stayed there.