America’s 12 Best Golf Vacations

Golf may have been invented in Scotland but Americans love the sport. The United States accounts for approximately 45 percent of the golf courses in the world. While golf used to be a “rich man’s” sport, today there are courses that fit every budget. With the emergence of players like Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam golf has become popular with people of all ages. Along with the growing popularity of golf, weekend trips and golfing vacations have also become more popular. Couples and groups of friends have found that a golfing vacation is the best way to play some of the best courses and also enjoy a great travel destination at the same time. We have come up with our list of the best golf destinations in America.

12. Palm Springs, California

Palm Springs is a resort destination in the desert. The area became popular around 1900 for its hot springs. In the early part of the 1920’s the Hollywood elite would go there to get away from the crowds, but soon hotels and spas began springing up to serve the clientele. Today Palm Springs is still a spa destination but also offers great golfing. Palm Springs has over 100 public and private courses in the area. Courses are available for all levels of players and budgets. One of the best golf packages is at Indian Wells Golf Resort which has 36 holes and is ranked in the top 20 of “courses you can play” in California by Golfweek magazine. When not golfing you can enjoy the hot springs, shopping, hiking, biking or horseback riding. Great for couples looking to go on a trip, or even just a group of friends.

Photo by: Prayitno via Flickr
Photo by: Prayitno via Flickr

11. San Antonio, Texas

Texas has over a thousand golf courses to choose from. San Antonio makes our list not only for the great courses but the surrounding activities. La Cantera Golf Resort is ranked #2 in “Top Resorts in North America” and among the “top 50 Golf Resorts in the US” by Conde Nast traveler. As the site of PGA events, the resort offers great dining, luxurious rooms and is a good home base for exploring the surrounding area. Sights like the famed San Antonio River Walk and of course, The Alamo are both destinations that need to be on your must see list. Located at the gateway to the Texas Hill Country, San Antonio is a great destination for couples, families or that buddy trip.

Photo by: La Cantera
Photo by: La Cantera

10. Savannah, Georgia

Established in 1733, Savannah is the oldest city in Georgia. Outdoor cafes, gourmet restaurants and River Street along the Savannah River offers visitors a unique experience. The famed 18-hole Savannah Harbor Golf Resort is a Robert Cupp and Sam Snead championship course and is ranked among the top 100 golf courses in the US by Conde Nast Traveler. The Westin offers golf packages from $109 and up. The Westin also has a complimentary water ferry to take you to River Street where you can check out the brew pubs, galleries and great restaurants after a day on the course.

Photo by: Keith Allison
Photo by: Keith Allison

9. Orlando, Florida

Mickey Mouse isn’t the only thing Orlando is known for. Besides the proximity to Disney World, Orlando offers world class golf courses and resorts. Resorts like the Villas of Grand Cypress are close to Disney World, SeaWorld and Universal Orlando. The resort offers exceptional golfing and has hosted such tournaments as the LPGA Tour Championship, World Cup of Golf and Greg Norman’s Shark Shoot-out. The club offers 45-holes of Jack Nicklaus Signature designed golf. With all the great nearby attractions, Orlando rates as a great golf destination for everyone.

Golf Course Florida (2)

8. Napa, California

Located in the Napa wine region, the Silverado Resort and Spa is also home to two championship courses designed by PGA Hall of Famer Johnny Miller. The resort offers several golf packages and also has Junior Golf Summer Camps. The resort also has a world class spa with wellness coaches and even a golf swing therapy session with massage and reflexology treatments.  With over 400 wineries in the region a day tour of wine tasting and sightseeing should be on your list of things to do. Host to the PGA Frys.com tournament, the luxury resort is a great getaway for couples looking to relax, golf and spend time in the wine country.

Silverado Resort and Spa, CA
Photo by: Silverado Resort and Spa

7. Hilton Head, South Carolina

Hilton Head Island off the coast of South Carolina is known for beautiful beaches, exceptional restaurants and world class golf. With over 50 courses to choose from on the island it is hard to make a choice, but one place stands out above the rest. The courses at Sea Pines Resort home to the Heron Point Course by Pete Dye, the Ocean Course and the Harbor Town Golf Links which is a favorite among PGA players has to be the best resort on the island. Located on 5,000 acres the resort hosts the annual PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage tournament. Accommodations range from elegant rooms at the Harbor Town Inn to homes and vacation villas. The resort has vacation packages to suit couples groups and families.

Photo by: Sea Pines Resort
Photo by: Sea Pines Resort

6. Monterey, California

Monterey, located on California’s rugged central coast, is the home of the Pebble Beach Golf Resort. Even people that don’t follow or play the sport have heard of Pebble Beach. Over the years the resort has attracted politicians such as Prime Minister Winston Churchill, President Teddy Roosevelt, golfers like Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Bobby Jones and celebrities the likes of Bill Murray, Bing Crosby and Clint Eastwood. With choices of three distinct accommodations, the Lodge, the Inn and a Mediterranean-styled estate, you can relax in style and also experience one of the best known courses in the world. Five courses to include the famed Pebble Beach Golf Links will test your skills and patience.

Pebble Beach Golf Resort, CA

5. White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia

Don’t be confused that this location is included on our list. White Sulphur Springs is home to The Greenbrier. Since 1778 The Greenbrier Resort has been welcoming guests from all over the world. Listed on the National Historic Register, The Greenbrier has hosted 26 of the nation’s Presidents and has been a favorite of royalty and celebrities. Befitting the status of the Greenbrier be prepared to dress accordingly. Collared shirts and slacks, no denim, are required on the course. With rates ranging from $300 per person and up, this is chance to experience great golf and stay at a historic resort. You never can tell who you might run into.

Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com
Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

4. Colorado Springs, Colorado

Situated at the base of Pikes Peak, Colorado Springs is also home to the US Air Force Academy. Colorado Springs offers visitors great outdoor activities, such as rock climbing, hiking, horseback riding, sightseeing and of course golf. The Broadmoor was founded in 1918 and at the time had the highest elevation golf course in the United States at 6,400 ft. The resort has three courses and package rates that include accommodations, course fees and meal credits. The resort also has over 20 restaurants and lounges on the property. If you ever decide to venture away from the resort, the nearby area surrounding Colorado Springs offers a lot of things to see and do.

Golf

3. Tucson, Arizona

Located in the Sonoran Desert, Tucson is also the home of the University of Arizona. Historic old Spanish Missions, Hot Air Balloon rides, horseback riding, handcrafted jewelry and souvenirs are all available. The reason we include this on our list is the Omni Tucson National Resort, a host course for the PGA Tucson Conquistadores Classic and past host of the Chrysler Classic. Ranked by PGA pros as one of the most challenging finishing holes on the tour this course will make for a memorable trip. The Catalina course has hosted over 30 PGA tournaments throughout the years while the Tom Lehman designed Sonoran Course features 2 lakes and over 60 bunkers. After spending time on the course exploring Tucson and all it has to offer makes for a great trip.

Photo by: Tucson Golf Estates
Photo by: Tucson Golf Estates

2. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

With close to 100 courses in the greater Myrtle Beach area there is no wonder why it is often called “the Golf Capital of the World”. Depending on the time of year a golf vacation package can cost as low as $60 per day which includes lodging and course fees. When you’re not on the golf course you can enjoy the beach, great shopping or book a fishing charter. Myrtle Beach is a great destination for couples, families or friends alike. With courses like TPC Myrtle beach, awarded five stars by Golf Digest and the Dunes, a Robert Trent Jones signature course; Myrtle Beach has to be on your list of destination.

Myrtle Beach Golf Course

1. Pinehurst, North Carolina

While Myrtle Beach is known as the “Golf Capital of the World” Pinehurst is known as the “Cradle of American Golf”. Pinehurst has a population of less than 15,000 and is home to nothing else but Pinehurst. Since the first cottages were built in 1895, Pinehurst has expanded and grown into one of the most recognized golf courses in the world. In the early 1900’s Donald Ross was commissioned to build the first four courses at Pinehurst. Since then it has grown to nine courses total and has hosted more championships than any other course in the United States. Pinehurst has to be on every avid golfer’s bucket list and is a great trip destination.

Pinehurst Golf Course

Things to See and Do in Colorado Springs

Curious and wondering what to do in the Colorado Springs area? The place offers no shortage of activities, with at least 55 attractions available for you to check out. Natural parks and wildlife areas, trains, museums, a zoo, and so much more come together to create a wide-ranging experience for tourists. The state is covered with majestic forests and mountains appealing to the outdoorsman, and a rich history that is yours to explore.
Keeping your family and kids entertained shouldn’t be a problem. Colorado Springs offers a wealth of educational and fun activities based around that same history. Colorado has a diverse array of activities available so that people from all walks of life and interests can enjoy themselves. Whether you’re the indoor type who likes to keep to museums, or the outdoorsy adventurous type who likes to camp and climb mountains. Here are 10 awesome things to see and do in Colorado Springs.

10. Pikes Peak

Everyone who visits Colorado Springs should go see and climb Pikes Peak. It is known as the largest summit in the United States. The peak is 14,115 feet tall and is located in the Pike Nation Forest. It is 12 miles southwest of Colorado Springs in El Paso County, Colorado. The peak has been designated as a National Historic Landmark, and is one of Colorado’s 53 ‘Fourteeners’, meaning it’s a mountain that rises above 14,000 feet. The first person to climb the peak was Edwin James. He was a young student who had just graduated Middlebury College in Vermont.

James and two other men climbed the peak in 2 days and found little difficulty along the way. He was the first person to describe the blue columbine, which is also Colorado’s state flower. After gold was discovered in Denver in 1858 newspapers referred to Pikes Peak as a cold mining area. This increased the habitation of the area and mining activities as well. Major gold was not discovered in the area until 1893. It was considered one of the last gold rushes in the lower 48 states.

Pikes Peak

9. Pikes Peak Cog Railway

You can either climb to Pikes Peak or you can take the railway. The Pikes Peak Cog Railway extends all the way to the peak of the mountain. The train ride is over 3 hours long. While on the train you’ll have a 360-degree view of the wild life and the local flora and fauna. There are cascading streams, mountains, forests, and a view of the City of Colorado Springs itself.

In 1880 Mr. Zalmon G. Simmons, after riding to the top of Pikes Peak on a donkey, was distressed by the trip. He decided that there should be a more comfortable way for people to make the trip to the top of the mountain summit. Despite the difficult task and weather the railway was completed on October 20th, 1890. The train was not ridden though until June the 30th 1891 due to that very same troubling weather. There were spring snows that froze the railways, the first passengers aboard the train were members of the Denver church choir. Steam engines were the first ones used when the railway first opened in the 1950s, but they were later traded in for the diesel-powered variety.

Sue Stokes / Shutterstock.com
Sue Stokes / Shutterstock.com

8. Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods Park is located in Colorado Springs as a registered national landmark. The parks land formations were created by a natural geological upheaval along the natural fault line millions of years ago. There is archaeological evidence that shows that prehistoric people lived in the area. The native peoples lived in cave like residences carved into the rocks. There are also many Native American tribes connected to the Garden of the Gods. The park has some amazing rock formations, and it was written once by Hellen Hunt Jackson that, “You wind among rocks of every conceivable and inconceivable shape and size… all bright red, all motionless and silent, with a strange look of having been just stopped and held back in the very climax of some supernatural catastrophe”.

The park attracts over 2 million visitors a year and is popular for rock climbing, hiking, biking and horseback riding. The Perkins Central Garden trail is handicapped accessible so the park is friendly to people of all types. The park has an educational information center that has 30 exhibits providing visitors with information about the park and its incredible rock formations.

Garden of the Gods

7. Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon is an open space city park consisting of 789 acres of land. The park sits next to Manitou Springs, close to the Colorado Springs area. It consists of parallel ridges called hogbacks; the park is a continuation of the Garden of the Gods. It was never originally reserved for conservation land as the park used to contain a number of industrial sites such as quarries, gold refining mills and a 53-acre landfill. The city of Colorado Springs adopted and repurposed the parks for use as a recreational area in 2003. The land was originally owned by John George Bock in the 20’s and 30’s. The only evidence of the park previously being used for industrial reasons is the Kenmuir Quarry, which scars the landscape.

The quarry’s remains are off limits to park visitors for safety reasons. The park does however contain several miles of trails and rock formations. The trails offer different levels of difficulty and wind guests through the rock formations making it popular amongst joggers and cyclist. Technical rock climbing is also allowed in the park as long as you have a rock climbing permit.

Red Rock Canyon

6.  Miramont Castle

The Miramont Castle is a very interesting place that is supposedly haunted. The visitors and staff of the museum have made several claims of seeing apparitions as well as strange unexplained occurrences. The castle was originally built in 1895 and was the private home of Father Jean Baptist Francolon. Mr. Francolon was a French born Catholic priest, and his residence was used by nuns and priests from the neighboring mental asylum for food preparations.

The Miramont Castle is now a museum in the Manitou Springs Historic District, and is on the National Register of Historical Places. It was restored by Philip Lawrence Hannum, and the restoration was funded by the Centennial-Bicentennial grant in 1976. It was completed meticulously with photos taken during the whole process. The house now is a Victorian-era Museum that is owned and operated by the Historical Society in Manitou Springs. It has 42 furnished rooms paired with beautiful gardens for visitors to see. The house has 9 styles of architecture and is filled with secret passageways. The museum also has a Victorian era tea house that serves Victorian era foods and also has a lovely gift shop.

Miramont Castle

5.  Manitou Springs, Colorado

Manitou Springs, Colorado is located in El Paso County; the place was founded back in 1872 by William Jackson Palmer and Dr. William Abraham Bell. They intended the town to be a scenic health resort. The small city might seem like it is part of Colorado Springs, but it’s actually not in the eyes of the city’s residents. Manitou Springs has its own industry that revolves around tourism. The small town’s main revenue circulates around a small horde of gift shops that carry almost everything you can think of. Pikes Peak, The Pikes Peak Cog Railway, The Miramont Castle Museum, and Red Rock canyon all inhabit the area. There are also many other educational historical museums in the city.

The small town has many of the accommodations that other small tourist towns offer such as a plethora of hotels to stay in ranging from haunted and old-timey, to modern 4-star joints. There are quite a few culinary establishments, and the city also offers plenty of other great places to check out. The town of Manitou Springs has eleven natural mineral springs which are open to the public to enjoy.

Photo by: Visit Manitou Springs
Photo by: Visit Manitou Springs

4. Battlefield Colorado

This place may sound like some sort of historic museum or park but it’s actually a laser tag park. Battlefield Colorado is the area’s first and only outdoor laser tag adventure park and offers a brand new urban layout battlefield at the moment. The park is located in the downtown Colorado Springs area. It’s said to be similar to playing a real time video game because it gives you the kind of adrenaline rush you used to experience growing up. The laser tag games consist of two teams that participate in teamwork and team building exercises. The park has several different terrains and scenarios to choose from. They also have options for people who are newer to playing laser tag and consider themselves a beginner.

You do have to call to make reservations in order to play, but you’ll be glad you did because it’s a lot of fun. It’s designed in a way similar to paint ball fields but there’s no paint, pain or heavy duty gear necessary. Battlefield Colorado offers options for birthday parties, corporate team building events, and more. This is a great idea for physical activity, and is definitely enjoyable for the whole family.

Photo by: Battlefield Colorado
Photo by: Battlefield Colorado

3. Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum

This museum is actually the old county courthouse of El Paso County, Colorado. The courthouse was used in 1903 and displays the history and culture of the Pikes Peak region. There are exhibits emphasizing the unique character of downtown Colorado Springs too. The downtown area consists of several historic structures, with inviting green lawns. The museum itself offers colorful flowers, outdoor sculptures, and a granite foundation. The courthouse was turned into a museum in order to preserve all of that wonderful history. Several different exhibits are displayed in the courthouse at different times on an array of broad topics. The types of exhibits you can expect to see when you visit typically include Western art, the history of the era, antique quilts and many other kinds of artifacts that represent the local culture

The museum also has several murals which are often the center of attraction. The museum has over 60,000 objects in its collection, including items such as pottery and fine arts. There is an exhibit primarily dedicated to early Pikes Peak and the city’s attempts to make it a health resort once upon a time. There are many films, books, articles, and school projects on the city’s founder General William Jackson Palmer exhibited by the museum. There are many different family festivals offered during different times of the year as well.

Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum

2. The Western Museum of Mining and Industry

The Western Museum of Mining and Industry collects information about and interprets the history of Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak area. The Museum has more than 55,000 visitors a year. The main interest of the museum collection is mining artifacts as well as other pieces that circulate around the industrial uses of the area. The industrial uses of the area consisted of several different types of mining including gold mining. All of the key artifacts were contributed by Mr. Fredrick McMenemy Farrar and Mrs. Katherine Thatcher Farrar. Today there are over 4,000 artifacts on display.

In 1972 the name of the museum was changed in order to focus it on the primary collection of artifacts in the museum’s possession. The museum has a 27-acre exhibit area, which includes a ten-stamp ore mill, and many other multipurpose exhibit areas. There is a 5,000 volume research library in the museum, and it also houses a large theater. The museum complex is educational and fun at the same time. You could spend all day learning in the museum about Colorado’s history, mining, geology, the environment, industrial technology and many other topics.

Photo by: Western Museum of Mining and Industry
Photo by: Western Museum of Mining and Industry

1. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is America’s only mountainside zoo and is located in downtown Colorado Springs. The site is at an elevation of 6,500 feet above sea level. It consists of 40 acres and includes more than 750 animals representing 150 different species. More than 30 of the animals at the zoo are an endangered species. The location was found in 1926 by the philanthropist Spencer Penrose, and was part of his growing collection of exotic animals. The zoo is a nonprofit organization and belongs to the people of Colorado Springs. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has one of the largest giraffe herds in the Southwestern United States.

The exhibits offered include Rocky Mountain wild animals, African Rift Valley, My Big Backyard, Australia/Budgie Buddies, Wolf Woods, Encounter Africa, Aquatics Monkey Pavilion, Asian Highlands, and the Primate Worlds. One of the coolest parts of the zoo is that people can hand feed the giraffes romaine lettuce for a small fee. Even if you’re not at the zoo, you can watch the giraffes online via webcam. An advanced giraffe breeding program has been implemented by the zoo to ensure stabilization of the giraffe population. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is definitely the coolest place to visit in all of Colorado Springs.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo