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It’s the all-American vacation: a trip to one of our national parks. And with the National Park Service marking its 100th anniversary this year, there’s no better time to explore the great outdoors. But after you’ve Instagrammed nature from every possible angle, what can you actually do? The big, open sky is the limit.

Take an art workshop at Yosemite National Park in California

When it comes to finding your muse, it doesn’t get much more inspiring than Yosemite’s giant sequoias, majestic waterfalls and tranquil streams. Channel your creativity with the help of art and photography classes offered each spring and fall at Yosemite Art Center. The cost is just $10 per student per day.

Yosemite National Park. Credit: FaunggsPhotos/Flickr.

Yosemite National Park. Credit: FaunggsPhotos/Flickr.

Try sled-dog mushing at Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska

Whether you book a guided trip with a team of dogs or BYOD, this snowy sport is one of the coolest ways (pun intended) to tour this park, which is home to the tallest peak in North America. On a clear day, the Huskies can cover up to 30 miles.

Denali National Park. Credit: Joseph/Flickr.

Denali National Park. Credit: Joseph/Flickr.

Ride a llama at Yellowstone National Park in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming

Dyed-in-the-wool nature lovers will want to explore the backcountry the old-fashioned way: by horse, or even llama. Guided excursions are available through several licensed tour companies. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife, from bald eagles to bison.

Yellowstone National Park. Credit: Always Shooting/Flickr.

Yellowstone National Park. Credit: Always Shooting/Flickr.

Go sand sledding at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado

Snow sledding is a hassle. By the time you’re bundled up, someone inevitably needs to use the bathroom. Get to the fun part faster when you try mild-weather sand sledding or sandboarding on the tallest dunes in North America. The equipment is designed especially for sand, makingfor a smooth ride.

Great Sand Dunes National Park. Credit: Flickr CC

Great Sand Dunes National Park. Credit: Flickr CC

Go snorkeling at Virgin Islands National Park in the Caribbean

More than half of the island of St. John is technically a national park? Works for us. Much of the parkis actually underwater, so you’ll want to explore the reefs, mangroves and seabeds with the help of a mask and flippers.

Virgin Islands National Park. Credit: Wikipedia.

Virgin Islands National Park. Credit: Wikipedia.

Take a jazz Pilates class at New Orleans Jazz National Park in Louisiana

Redwood forests and gulf stream waters are great. But if you’re not about that life, head to the old U.S. Mint building for a more cosmopolitan escape. The building is now a shrine to the musical genre, making it the perfect spot to catch a live performance, bring the kiddos for educational workshops or take a jazz Pilates class with Pilates instructor-slash-vocalist Stephanie Jordan, combining fitness, dance and of course, all that jazz.

New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park. Credit: NPS.gov.

New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park. Credit: NPS.gov.

Play 18 holes at Death Valley National Park in California

It’s no surprise that one of America’s toughest courses, as crowned by Golf Digest, is located at 214 feet below sea level. Furnace Creek Golf Course, located at a ranch in the desert park, is the world’s lowest elevation golf course. So even if you shoot well above the 70 par, you can brag that you played your lowest game ever.

Furnace Creek Golf Course at Death Valley National Park. Credit: Daveynin/Flickr.

Furnace Creek Golf Course at Death Valley National Park. Credit: Daveynin/Flickr.

Try spelunking at Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky

Our national parks are celebrated for their wide open spaces. This is not one of them. If you’re up for an adventure, try the Wild Cave Tour, a six-hour trek that’ll have you crawling, squeezing and hiking your way through 5 miles of caves.

Mammoth Cave National Park. Credit: Daniel Schwen/Flickr.

Mammoth Cave National Park. Credit: Daniel Schwen/Flickr.

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Tagged: Beach, California, Family, Tips & advice

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