This is the 100 year anniversary of the National Park Service, and while you probably think of Yosemite or the Grand Canyon, National Parks are all around us. You can find National Parks in your state by going to the National Park Service home page and searching by state. You might be surprised at the parks nearby that you could enjoy during the last few weeks of summer.
Off the Mississippi Coast is the barrier islands, many of which belong to the Gulf Islands National Seashore. There are lots of activities for visitors including fishing, biking, swimming, snorkeling, and camping. We enjoy visiting these to see more wildlife and less people. Seasonally you can catch a ferry to West Ship Island, but you will need a private boat to access the remainder of the islands. The ferry is a great option at $29 for an adult round-trip ticket.
Here are some photos from my island trips to inspire you to seek out the beauty in your back yard!