Why you should go: Because you love unfettered Americana and natural beauty in equal measure. South Dakota is only a flyover state if you’re viewing it from 30,000 feet. On the ground, it's teeming with emerald-green hills, free-roaming buffalo, and Native American lore. Plus, there’s a thriving craft-beer and cocktail scene -- looking at you, Rapid City -- with enough gastro-pubs and breweries to provide ample pit-stops between all the nature-gazing you’ll do. For starters, get to Badlands National Park for a glimpse of Tatooine. The Pinnacles Overlook makes for particularly striking sunsets, especially when the coyotes come out to serenade the orange-to-purple sky. Or, if getting lost in boundless acreage of forest is more your speed, there’s Custer State Park, where you can expect to see bighorn sheep and bison up close.
Why you should go right now: After a seemingly endless winter to start the year, this is your mild, Americana-drenched summer road trip destination you’ll tell your grandchildren about one day. Yes, there’s Mount Rushmore, which is decidedly worth about 15 minutes of your time. To be frank, you’d be better off hiking Crazy Horse: The face of the legendary Oglala Lakota war chief is carved into a cliff some 6,000 feet above sea level, and unlike our dead presidents, you can gape at his big, imperious mug up close. There’s also the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, happening August 3-12, in which a stampede of Harleys descends on the Black Hills, unleashing clouds of exhaust mere minutes away from Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, and Custer State Park. -- Sam Blum