For those occasions when the beach or the ski slopes don't quite hit the mark, consider one of these alternative, but equally awesome, American-themed vacations.

highway on the coastline of California

The road trip

Hitting the open road in a convertible – a quintessential component of the American dream – should be on the to-do list of every intrepid traveler. The U.S. will spoil you with choices – from driving through the deep south, the Florida Keys or taking it coast to coast, the options are abundant.

The legendary Route 66 may not exist in its original form, but what remains of it can take you from Chicago to California and should be on the bucket list of every traveler. If you're searching for adventure with a more manageable distance, look no further than California's Highway 1. The epic, coast-hugging journey stretches from San Diego to San Francisco, dropping in and out of small towns and sprawling cities as it winds up and down the California coast. The exact length of your journey and the stop-offs included en route are entirely up to you.

Fly to San Francisco and San Diego on United Airlines.

Horses all huddled together on a dude ranch

Dude ranching

Around for decades but only made popular as a vacation option in recent years, dude ranches are perhaps the ultimate American experience. For the unenlightened, a dude ranch is a fully working ranch that accepts guests. You can finally live out your cowboy dreams by exploring the wilderness on horseback, rustling cattle with ropes and trading stories beneath the stars around a roaring fire.

The best dude ranch vacations offer a host of optional extras on top of the traditional experiences, including white-water rafting, fly-fishing, golf, spas and yoga classes. One option worth noting is Mountain Sky Guest Ranch, close to Emigrant, Montana, where you'll discover that, while it's authentic to sleep in a tent, sometimes a cowboy prefers a luxury wood cabin with a steady stream of exceptional food and world-class wines.

Fly to many dude ranch locations throughout the U.S. and Canada on United Airlines.

the putting green on a golf course

Golf trips

America didn't invent golf, but it did introduce golfers to the golf-resort trip. No nation on earth is better equipped for providing quality and quantity of greens for the traveling golfer. Coast to coast and at multiple points in between, you'll find golf resorts to suit every budget and handicap. Enjoy a top quality resort hotel to stay, a variety of world-class courses to play, and an abundance of options to keep you entertained when day turns to night.

With Bandon Dunes in Oregon, Greenbrier in West Virginia, Pinehurst in North Carolina and a thousand more in between, the biggest issue you'll face is whittling it down to just one. We can provide some help by narrowing it down to three of the best as your starting points: American Club at Destination Kohler (Wisconsin); Omni Barton Creek (Austin, Texas) and Streamsong (Florida) all tick every box.

Fly to Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Austin, Texas; and Tampa, Florida on United Airlines.

olive oil being drizzled on a pizza

Culinary vacations

If you're looking to pick up a new skill while on vacation, a culinary getaway may be the right fit for you. Cooking school vacations are a booming industry in 2016, with a growing number of super-skilled chefs opening their kitchens to hungry new students.

Learn to cook Cajun and Creole in New Orleans. Fine tune your skills to create the perfect pasta and pizza in New York and Chicago. Visit the Old North State to master the art of the pit-fire BBQ in North Carolina. The options are everywhere and suit every taste. Each course can thoroughly teach you the basics, or help you progress to the next level of epicurean excellence. On most vacations, you return home with an expanded stomach. On a culinary vacation, you'll expand both waistband and mind.

Fly to New Orleans, New York, Chicago and North Carolina on United Airlines.

A large lake surrounded by mountains and huge rocks

The bus trip beyond

There are a million and one ways to get back to nature all across the U.S. From the lakes and canyons to the tracks and trails within easy reach of any city, you can discover a world away from the hustle and the bustle of modern life. One of the best and most unique experiences involves flying north to Anchorage, then clambering aboard a remodeled school bus to drive along Alaska's lonely, but breathtaking, roads.

Human beings will be in short supply, replaced by a steady stream of bears and moose, caribou and wolves. The views and solitude of “The Last Frontier" are the star attraction of what can be a 9- or 12-day trip, but ice climbing, glacier walks, rafting, whale watching and scenic flights are thrown in for good measure, elevating this from a themed vacation into the adventure of a lifetime.

Fly to Anchorage, Alaska on United Airlines.