Clear water of Lake Tahoe California in summer with snowcapped mountains in the background--one of the best places to visit in the USA bucket list

USA Bucket List: 50 Best Places to Visit in the US

From snowcapped mountains to tropical beaches, from some of the world’s most iconic cities to some of its most incredible deserts, from the east coast to the west, one thing is incredibly certain: there is absolutely no shortage of awe-inspiring, utterly diverse, and incredibly beautiful places to visit in the USA.

Our home country boasts one of the most incredible national park systems on the planet, along with a huge variety of cities, small towns, and other gorgeous places that ensure that a lifetime would not be long enough to see all of the best travel destinations in the USA.

… But that won’t stop us from trying to enjoy as many of the most amazing vacations in the United States as we can.

We teamed up with several other travel bloggers to put together this giant USA bucket list, and definitely added a few new spots to our personal list of places to see in the US in the process!

From coast to coast, city to countryside, here are the best places to visit in the USA.

Table of Contents

Best Cities to Visit in the USA

National parks + other beautiful places for a us vacation, beaches + islands for your usa bucket list, other beautiful places in the usa to visit.

antelope canyon in arizona with a beam of light streaming into the canyon

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New York, New York

From Disha of Disha Discovers

New York is one of the most iconic and beautiful cities in the United States and even the world.

It truly is a city that everyone should visit at least once in their lives even if it’s just for a quick weekend in NYC !

The tall buildings are mesmerizing and awe-inspiring, it’s home to some of the most exquisite museums and galleries in the world, and New York City is brimming with so much to explore and see.

Plus, NYC is a foodie’s heaven with cuisines from all over the world.

… And, these are only a few of the many reasons to visit this magnificent city.

kate storm standing at a magnifying glass on liberty island overlooking financial district manhattan

Some bucket-list-worthy things to do in New York City are to watch a play on Broadway, see the Statue of Liberty, hang out in Time Square, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, and take a stroll around Central Park.

A few museums to visit are the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met), the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, the Guggenheim, and the American Museum of Natural History.

Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, 5th Avenue, Empire State Building, and Chelsea Market are must-sees as well.

Whatever you decide to do in New York City , you’re in for a real treat!

This city will leave you feeling inspired and you’ll want to book another trip to come back!

kate storm spinning in front of manhattan bridge in brooklyn, a must see duing 4 days in nyc

Miami, Florida

From Veronika of Travel Geekery

Vibrant and colorful Miami is, without a doubt, one of the best places to visit in the US.

The downtown area merges into wonderfully diverse neighborhoods from Little Havana to Coral Gables.

However, most visitors to the vibrant yet laid-back city head to its beaches located on a long stretch of a barrier island.

South Beach especially is where the glamor’s at, topped by stylish Ocean Drive, which is lined with elegant Art Deco houses including Versace’s mansion, trendy restaurants, and nightclubs… the scene is pretty lively there.

Kate in a pink dress next to a blue Vespa on Ocean Avenue.

The beach itself features uniquely colored watchtowers spread around nice light sand. The waves are mostly mild. Pelicans like it here too and often float on the water near people.

Watching a sunrise on the beach belongs to one of the best experiences one can have in the area.

Miami City and its beaches can easily be visited  even without a car .

The public transport network and the ample ride/bike-sharing services make it an easy destination for any type of traveler.

Blue and yellor art deco lifeguard stand on South Beach in Miami, which is a must-see beach for your USA bucket list!

San Diego, California

From Maria of San Diego Explorer

San Diego is the perfect California beach city and a must on any USA bucket list.

Also known as America’s Finest City, San Diego has a lot to offer, whether you are looking for a beach getaway at one of the many beach resorts in San Diego , a fun time in the city, or a mix of both.

Here are some of the best things to do in San Diego!

In Downtown San Diego, there is something for everyone: from eating delicious Italian fare in Little Italy to visiting the Midway Museum to strolling through Seaport Village, and having a fun night out in the Gaslamp Quarter.

If you love the outdoors and animals, visit Balboa Park and the world-famous San Diego Zoo.  

cityscape of san diego california on a sunny day

And then, there are the beaches: San Diego has some of the best beaches in Southern California.

Some of the most popular ones are Mission Beach, Coronado, and the beaches in La Jolla.

You can relax on the sand, take surfing lessons, or ride your bike along the boardwalk for a fun day on the beach.  

San Diego has so much to offer and is simply a fun city, no matter what you are in the mood for. 

San Diego CA harbor with rows of sailboats in the foreground and the skyline in the back right of the photo

Austin, Texas

The Live Music Capital of the World and capital of the state of Texas is located in the heart of Texas Hill Country and offers a fantastic combination of excellent nightlife, plenty of outdoor activities and day trip opportunities, and truly phenomenal food.

Don’t leave without having at least one giant meal each worth of TexMex and barbecue!

While in Austin, be sure to visit trendy South Congress Avenue, watch the bats fly out from under the South Congress Bridge (if you’re visiting at the right time of year, that is), see a show, and go for a hike (or if it’s too hot, hit the lake!).

Want to get out of town?

Austin is within an easy day trip of natural swimming holes, Texas’ wine country, and adorable small towns.

Austin TX skyline with the South Congress Bridge in the foreground

New Orleans, Louisiana

Good food, good music, and good times: of all the best places to visit in the USA, NOLA definitely ranks toward the top of the list for places to go to simply have an amazing time.

There’s far more to New Orleans than Mardi Gras, Bourbon Street, and beignets, though.

With a dark and complex history heavily impacted by slavery and a constantly evolving modern culture, New Orleans deserves more than just partying during your visit–though there’s plenty of time for that, too.

While in New Orleans, be sure to listen to some jazz, learn a bit about the city’s history, visit the famous Jackson Square, head to the Garden District, check out the beautiful oak trees in City Park, and–this is very important–eat your heart out.

NOLA is indisputably home to some of the best food in the country–so good, in fact, that the food alone would be a good enough reason to add New Orleans to your USA bucket list.

For those interested in New Orleans’ spooky legends, a ghost tour through the French Quarter at night is also worth adding to your to-do list!

Street in NOLA French Quarter at night with neon lights from the bars lighting it up--don't miss a chance to experience the legendary New Orleans nightlife during your 3 days in NOLA itinerary!

Washington, DC

From Jordan of The Solo Life

One of the best travel destinations in the United States is the nation’s capital, Washington, DC.

With everything from museums to monuments to the White House and Capitol Building, DC has something for everyone .

In addition, DC’s public transportation and numerous free attractions make it a surprising destination for the budget-friendly traveler.

Kid-friendly options include the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and the National Air and Space Museum.

Art lovers will enjoy the National Gallery of Art or the Hirshhorn Museum for modern and contemporary art.

sunset on the national mall in washington dc facing the washington monument, one of the best places to visit on the east coast america

History buffs should check out the Library of Congress and the National Archives Museum.

Besides museums, the National Mall and Tidal Basin are must-visit locations to see the Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, and Lincoln Memorial, among others.

The best times to visit DC include early summer before it gets too hot or in the fall once summer break is over.

Although extremely crowded due to the Cherry Blossoms, springtime is also a gorgeous time to visit.

No matter what time of year, Washington, DC is one of the best destinations to visit in the US.

Washington Monument in Washington DC framed by cherry blossoms in the foreground. Washington DC is one of the best places to visit in the United States

San Francisco, California

The city of hills, ocean views, and the famous Golden Gate Bridge is at the top of many people’s lists of bucket lists for the United States.

And, with an endless list of things to do that cater to all interests, why not?

Be sure to pay a visit to the touristed highlights that most interest you–Fisherman’s Wharf (and its adorable sea lions!), Alcatraz, walking across the Golden Gate Bridge, visiting the Painted Ladies (of Full House fame), and checking out Lombard Street.

Once you cross those highlights off your list, though, make time for a few less-obvious attractions, like San Francisco’s Japanese Garden, the Land’s End Labyrinth, and Fort Point.

And, of course, you can’t forget to go for a walk in the woods while visiting San Francisco!

Visiting the Muir Woods is an unforgettable experience worthy of your time on any weekend trip to the area.

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco CA shot from above on a clear day

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia has been one of the coolest US cities to visit for centuries, and–like Boston–it features strong ties to the American Revolution.

This is where the Declaration of Independence and the Consitution were signed, touring Independence Hall and visiting the nearby Liberty Bell are among the best things to do in Philadelphia today as a result!

You can’t miss Philly’s food scene when visiting, either–from whoopie pies to Philly cheesesteaks, the city has a (literal) flavor all its own.

elfreths alley in philadelphia, one of the best places to vacation in usa

Start–but don’t finish–exploring Philadelphia’s food scene at the historic Reading Terminal Market.

Be sure to also make time to visit some of Philadelphia’s incredible museums during your visit, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of the American Revolution (we loved this one), and touring the dark but fascinating Eastern State Penitentiary.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is also home to another essential stop in this iconic East Coast City: the Rocky Steps.

And, if you’re willing to work up a sweat, definitely consider running up them yourself during your classic American vacation in Philadelphia!

independence hall in philadelphia on a sunny day with red and pink flowers in the foreground. attractions in usa things to do

Chicago, Illinois

From Wendy of The Nomadic Vegan

Chicago is the third-largest city in the US, and also one of the most ethnically diverse.

Its skyline reflecting off the waters of Lake Michigan is a sight to behold.

No matter what your interests are, whether it’s music, shopping, culture, art, or dining, you could spend months exploring all that Chicago has to offer.

On a shorter USA vacation, though, you can still see quite a few of the best sights in Chicago!

The city’s top museums include the Adler Planetarium, the Field Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Science and Industry, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Don’t forget to check out the many outdoor sculptures and other public works of art around the Loop, either.

View of Chicago IL skyline from willis tower skydeck, a must-see during a 3 day Chicago vacation

A walk along the Magnificent Mile will take you past upscale department stores and through Millennium Park, home of the famous sculpture known as The Bean.

A visit to Bronzeville, also known as “the Black Metropolis”, is a must to learn about the city’s rich African-American history.

Architecture buffs will be interested to know that this is where Frank Lloyd Wright established the Prairie School architectural style. You can find some of his earliest buildings here in Chicago.

You’ll work up an appetite walking the streets of this massive city. This is a good thing, because the restaurant scene here is amazing!

You can find pretty much any cuisine you could imagine, from stylish Japanese to homestyle soul food, and there are even lots of vegetarian and  vegan restaurants in Chicago .

Photo of Chicago train traveling on a bridge over car traffic--using Chicago's public transportation is the best way to get around on a Chicago weekend getaway!

Houston, Texas

From Thanh of The Traveling Asian

Houston, Texas is one of the coolest places to visit in the United States, and while an unexpected vacation option, certainly one that will impress.

After all, it is the 4th largest city in the USA and is often ranked as the most diverse city in the country!

Because of this size, you can expect there to be all kinds of things for you to see and do here in this city.

One of the most iconic places you must visit in the city is Space Center Houston.

There you can learn about NASA and space travel as well as take a tour around the famous mission control center. If you love space, then this place is for you.

sunset over houston texas skyline with pond in the foreground, one of the unexpected places for vacation in usa

Houston is also home to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo which is the biggest rodeo of its kind in the country.

There, you’ll be able to eat some delicious rodeo foods, pet some livestock, learn about animals, play at the amusement park, and even watch a concert by famous celebrities.

But aside from the attractions, Houston is known for its food. Since it is the most diverse city in the country, you can find just about everything available here in this city.

For instance, you can find Tex-Mex, Chinese, Ethiopian, Greek, and many other ethnic cuisines available all around the area.

So if you love food and all things fun, then Houston is definitely the place for you.

Skyline of Houston Texas as seen on a sunny day with a park in the foreground, Houston is one of the best weekend getaways in Texas

Las Vegas, Nevada

From Kimberley of Two Travelling Toques

If you’re looking for a cool place to visit in the USA, you can’t get much cooler than Las Vegas .

This well-known city has been depicted in numerous movies such as The Hangover and Ocean’s Thirteen as party central.

And if that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll definitely find it in Vegas.

Long known as both the wedding capital for a quick place to get married, or the perfect spot to hold a bachelor or bachelorette party, either way, it’s the spot to bring your friends, let loose, and have fun!

Gambling has been a big draw to Las Vegas since the early 1930s, and there is no shortage of showy and extravagant casinos to choose from.

view of venice st marks square in las vegas, one of the best attractions long weekend in vegas getaway

Nightlife also takes center stage here.

From world-class musicians to top-notch magical acts, to dependable artists like Wayne Newton who have had a residency here for years. 

During the day, you can grab a fancy drink and chill by the pool. Or hit up one of the pool parties and listen to the headlining DJ.

Either way, be sure to bring lots of money for the high-end shops, ever-flowing drinks, and dazzling casinos looking to draw you in. 

Welcome to Las Vegas sign, one of the most popular weekend getaways in the USA

Savannah, Georgia

Without a doubt, the small but stunning city of Savannah, Georgia is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the USA.

Featuring absolutely stunning architecture, 22 of its original 24 town squares, endless oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, and some of the best food in the country, spending a few days in Savannah is bound to be a delight.

While you’re there, be sure to meander down beautiful Jones Street, check out Forsyth Park, hear some of the city’s most enduring legends on a ghost tour, enjoy views from River Street, and take in some of Savannah’s complex history at its various house museums and houses of worship.

Don’t forget to set aside plenty of time to eat!

Kate Storm in a black dress in front of a brick home on Jones Street during a long weekend in Savannah GA

While there are dozens of incredible  restaurants in Savannah , favorites include The Olde Pink House and The Grey for special occasions, The Collins Quarter for their legendary lavender mocha latte, and Leopold’s Ice Cream for a scoop of their famous Tutti Frutti ice cream.

Have enough time for a quick  day trip ?

Tybee Island –also known as “Savannah’s Beach”–is less than a 30-minute drive away, and while you certainly won’t want to swim in the summer, strolling along the sand and climbing the lighthouse are a treat.

Jones Street in Savannh GA with a green house in the left foreground and an oak tree on the right. Jones Street is one of the best Savannah photo spots

Los Angeles, California

From Trijit of Budget Travel Buff

Looking for the coolest place to visit in the United States?

Visit Los Angeles; a unique combination of the entertainment industry, gorgeous beaches, great food, and vibrant nightlife.

It is certainly not the cheapest place in California , but for the right travelers, LA is definitely worth the price tag.

Los Angeles is a large city full of tourist attractions that won’t let you stay idle.

If you are a beach lover, LA won’t disappoint you with its stunning beaches that include Malibu, Santa Monica, Manhattan Beach, Venice Beach, Hermosa Beach, and so on.

There are several fantastic museums in LA. LACMA is the most popular one for its diverse art collections and special exhibits.

Skyline of Los Angeles CA with palm trees in the forground, one of the best places to visit in the US

Some other renowned museums are the Grammy Museum, Natural History Museum, and Museum of Broken Relationships.

While visiting LA, you will notice entertainment at every corner of the city. You can see a concert or enjoy a ride at the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park.

If you rent a car in Los Angeles, go for a scenic drive along the Pacific Coast Highway that carves through the mountains of Malibu.

Los Angeles has some of the best restaurants in the US.

Once you are done with LA sightseeing, have lunch at any of these food spots – Diakokuya for ramen, Langer’s for a pastrami sandwich, Guisados for tacos, or pizza at Mozza.

aerial view of santa monica beach near los angeles, one of the best places to vacation in the united states

Seattle, Washington

Set right on the water with the dramatic backdrop of Mount Rainier, it’s no wonder that busy and beautiful Seattle is one of the best USA travel destinations.

When visiting Seattle, be sure to eat your way through Pike Place Market, head to the top of the Space Needle, visit the famous Chihuly Museum, and check out the fun and interesting Museum of Pop Culture.

Looking for interesting neighborhoods?

Head to Fremont, where the self-proclaimed unofficial motto is “des libertas quirkas”, aka “the freedom to be quirky”.

Hoping to spend some time outside?

Nestled in the heart of the magnificent Pacific Northwest, endless waterfalls, trails, and mountains–even Mount Rainier itself–are located within day-tripping distance from Seattle.

Seattle Waterfront with space needle visible through the ferris wheel

Charleston, South Carolina

Located just a couple of hours north of Savannah, Charleston shares a lot of similarities with its neighbor to the south.

Fantastic Lowcountry food, Spanish moss dripping from the trees, beautiful architecture, and lots of history to uncover are wonderful to appreciate in both Charleston and Savannah –but Charleston absolutely has its own distinct personality as well.

On your Charleston vacation, be sure to visit the beautiful and photogenic Rainbow Row, check out the tea-making process at the Charleston Tea Garden, visit the gorgeous and interesting Angel Oak Tree, stroll through Waterfront Park and Battery Park, and check out City Market.

Photo of Rainbow Row in Charleston SC, a must see during a 3 day weekend in Charleston SC

If you’d like to do some shopping while in Charleston, King Street is the place to go.

Those interested in US military history will no doubt want to visit Patriots Point to tour the former US naval ships docked there and Fort Sumter for its history (and views).

Beach lovers, don’t miss the chance to check out nearby Folly Beach and/or Sullivan’s Island!

Kate Storm sitting in front of the pineapple fountain in Charleston SC--choosing whether to visit Savannah or Charleston is no easy task, but we wrote this guide to help!

Orlando, Florida

As the theme park capital of the world, Orlando is one of the most popular places to visit in the USA for both domestic and international visitors, mostly on behalf of one iconic mouse.

As home to Walt Disney World , Orlando is a must-see USA bucket list item for many families across the world, and with four amazing Disney parks packed with rides, experiences, and intense amounts of nostalgia, it’s no wonder why.

Disney isn’t the only theme park game in town, though!

Universal Studios Orlando, home to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, is also a fantastic theme park to visit, and big roller coaster fans may even want to take a day trip to Tampa Bay to experience Busch Gardens.

Though the parks are a big draw for people visiting Orlando with kids and kids at heart alike, theme parks aren’t the only places to visit in and around Orlando.

The Kennedy Space Center, plenty of beaches, and even cool swimming holes like Wekiva Springs are within day-trip distance of Orlando.

Lake Eola Park in Orlando Florida with swams in the water and a skyline visible in the background. Orlando belongs on a bucket list for the United States

Portland, Oregon

Much like Austin, Portland proudly embraces its weirdness, celebrating the eclectic and bizarre in all possible ways–and that makes it endlessly fun to visit!

Bookworms like me will immediately head to Powell’s City of Books–I still think it’s the biggest bookstore I’ve ever visited–while foodies will want to head directly to the local ice cream obsession, Salt & Straw. 

Voodoo Doughnuts, now with a few locations nationally, also originated here and remains popular with tourists (though depending on who you ask, not locals–for what it’s worth, we’d rate the doughnuts 7/10).

During your weekend trip to Portland, make time to visit the Japanese Garden and the International Rose Garden, especially if you visit when everything is in bloom.

Plenty of incredible parts of the Columbia River Gorge, including famous Multnomah Falls, are also within easy reach of Portland and deserve to feature on your USA bucket list!

Photo of steal sign stating "portland oregon" in front of a blue sky, a must-see during 3 days in portland or

Nashville, Tennessee

From Apryl of Southern Traveling Gal

No doubt about it, there’s something about Nashville, that casts a long-lasting spell on travelers.

For travelers visiting Nashville, it’s not unheard of to plan a return trip as soon as the current one is over!

Only in “The Music City” is it possible to catch the latest exhibit at the Frist Art Museum, see a replica of the Parthenon and enjoy live music at venues along the Honky Tonk Highway.

For first-timers, touring country music icons like the Ryman Auditorium and the Country Music Hall of Fame is a must-do.

Don’t overlook artist-specific museums such as the Johnny Cash Museum and Glen Campbell Museum that provides a closer look at these music giants, either.

Much of Nashville’s allure lies within its distinctive neighborhoods, like the Gulch, filled with shops and restaurants.

Skyline of Nashville Tennessee at sunset overlooking the river, one of the most romantic getaways in the United States

It isn’t unusual to spot a long line or two here, typically featuring either people waiting in line to take a photo with the “What Lifts You” mural or getting into Biscuit Love.

Save some room for some barbecue from Peg Leg Porker!

12thSouth offers locally-owned boutiques, stores, and eateries. Also found here is Draper James, the flagship store of Reese Witherspoon’s clothing line.

Be sure to take home some cookies from Christie’s Cookie Company and snap a photo with the “I Believe in Nashville” mural.

Across the Cumberland River is the eclectic East Nashville. Don’t miss out on the mini doughnuts at Donut Distillery.

Depending on time, consider visiting Cheekwood Estates and Gardens, a 55-acre botanical garden, as part of your Nashville getaway.

Of course, no trip to Nashville is complete without hot chicken from Prince’s Hot Chicken or biscuits from Loveless Cafe, located near the Natchez Trace Parkway.

country band playing banjois in nashville tennessee

Boston, Massachusetts

From Linn of Brainy Backpackers

Boston is such a cool city to visit in the USA, rich in history, architecture, and food.

Along the waterfront, you can walk the 43-mile-long Harbor Walk.

But there is so much more to add to see during your trip to Boston, like the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile-long path taking you to 16 significant places in American history.

It is well marked and technically be walked in as little as 90 minutes, though you can download the app and visit each place which will take at least a whole day to complete.

Boston is home to the oldest public park in the United States, Boston Common, which is situated next to Boston Public Garden.

boston public garden in the summer, one of the best things to do in boston ma

You can wander the parks and enjoy a ride in the Boston Public Garden’s historic paddleboats.

Nearby, you’ll find the Boston Public Library at Copley Square, which is an incredibly beautiful Renaissance Revival structure from 1895 that you should visit.

You’ll also find the beautiful neighborhood of Beacon Hill nearby, as well as the trendy neighborhood of Back Bay.

For the best views of the city during your Boston itinerary , visit the Skywalk Observatory.

2 Days in Boston Itinerary: Beacon Hill

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

From Melissa of Parenthood and Passports

Yellowstone National Park is the oldest national park in the United States and one of the best places to visit in the entire country.

Known for its geothermal activity, more than half of the earth’s geysers are located in the national park which straddles the borders of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. 

Old Faithful is one of the most popular things to see in Yellowstone National Park .

The active and predictable geyser erupts approximately 20 times each day.

Visitors to the park gather around to watch the geyser blast hot water and steam into the sky.

Although quite impressive, Old Faithful is just one of many must-see geothermal features found in the park.

View of Grand Prism in Yellowstone National Park, one of the best places to visit in USA

One of the largest hot springs in the world, the Grand Prismatic Spring, is another popular attraction in Yellowstone.

Visitors can get an up-close view of the spring or take a short hike for a stunning overview of Grand Prismatic’s vibrant colors.  

Beyond all of its geothermal features, Yellowstone National Park also boasts beautiful waterfalls, crystal-clear lakes, rivers, and more than 200 species of animals.

Bison, deer, moose, wolves, and even bears live in the park.

Because of all the wildlife in Yellowstone, visitors are strongly encouraged to use caution when hiking or camping and to carry bear spray to protect themselves in the event of an encounter.

herd of bison crossing the road and causing a traffic jam in yellowstone national park, one of the best places to vacation usa

Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho

From Allison of She Dreams of Alpine

Idaho is often overlooked when it comes to cool places to visit in the US, but the tiny town of Stanley serves as the gateway to an abundance of outdoor adventures in the stunning Sawtooth Mountain range and along the swift Salmon River.

Although it has a population of less than 100, Stanley is easily accessible in a 3-hour drive from the main airport in Boise or about a 1-hour drive if you’re coming from Sun Valley.

The best way to explore the Sawtooth Mountains is on one of the many hiking trails.

The hike to Alice Lake is a perfect introduction to the area, and you can either do a 12-mile day hike or backpack the longer Alice/Toxaway Loop over the course of a few days.

sawtooth mountains idaho on sunny day with lake in the foreground, one of the best places to vacation usa

Whichever option you choose, you’ll discover gorgeous views of Alice Lake framed by the “Dragon’s Back” peaks of the Sawtooth Mountains, including Idaho’s own “El Capitan.”

For fun on the water, you can go fishing along the Salmon River or swim in Redfish Lake.

When you need some rejuvenation after your adventures, you can reward yourself with great food and drinks at the Stanley Supper Club and take a dip in the hot springs at the Mountain Village Resort.

Once you head home, you’ll surely find yourself raving to your friends about this hidden gem of a mountain town – unless you want to keep the Sawtooth Mountains and Stanley a secret for yourself!

Sawtooth Mountains Idaho with a lake visible on the left of the photo and mountain peaks in the background. These mountains definitely belong on your USA bucket list!

Oregon Coast

From Kay of The Awkward Traveller

The Oregon Coast is one of the most underrated travel destinations in the USA, but for those who love moody, dramatic scenery, it is the best place to be.

Although the actual coast isn’t very long (338 or so miles, about a 7.5-hour drive without stopping), it makes for a great weekend or longer trip with added stops.

Starting at the north end, about 2 hours outside of Portland, the city of Astoria will serve as your jumping-off point with picturesque bridges and locations from The Goonies.

Heading south, take a pitstop at the cheese capital of the state  –  Tillamook , Oregon.

One car driving along the oregon coast as shot from above

Visit the Tillamook Cheese Factory and gorge yourself on all things dairy before continuing on to stunning Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area.

The highlight of the coast will be Yachats, Oregon, with incredible farm-to-table restaurants that are dedicated to sourcing local sustainable fish, meat, and produce providers.

On the southern end of the coast, you can find sand dunes in Florence, and natural rock arches among the cliffs in Brookings.

If your tolerance for rain is low, summer will be the best season to visit weather-wise, while winter and spring will have smaller crowds and lower prices.

Oregon Coast at sunset looking toward Haystack Rock, one of the prettiest places in Oregon

Acadia National Park, Maine

From Ale of Sea Salt & Fog

Acadia National Park is one of the most beautiful national parks in the eastern United States, perfectly showcasing the beauty of the Maine coast.

Acadia has miles of hiking and biking trails, as well as easy coastal access for kayaking and sailing. 

When visiting, plan to spend at least  2 days in Acadia National Park  so you can make the most of your time there.

One of the best things to do includes watching the sunrise at Cadillac Mountain, where you’ll get stunning views of the islands that dot the coast.

Things to Do in Acadia National Park

Drive Park Loop Road to enjoy some of the park’s most famous attractions, including Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, and Jordan Pond (don’t forget to stop for popovers at Jordan Pond House!).

For hiking, choose a paved Carriage Road to take you down to one of the many picturesque ponds and lakes in the park.

Plan your visit in the fall to see the famous New England fall foliage in full display, or in the summer to enjoy long, sunny days perfect for hiking.

If you love the outdoors, add Acadia to your list of places to visit in the US – you won’t be disappointed.

Things to Do in Acadia National Park

Joshua Tree National Park, California

From Monica of This Rare Earth

Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California is an incredible destination in the United States. 

This desert ecosystem became a national park as recently as 1994, and it’s easy to see why it was chosen!

The Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert meet in the middle of Joshua Tree National Park, which means that you will see two very different landscapes depending on which half of the park you are in.  

The Mojave Desert is home to the famous Joshua Tree – a tall and spindly yucca – as well as giant boulders popular with climbers and hikers. 

The majority of the park’s hiking trails are found in this region.

desert landscape at sunrise in joshua tree national park, an excellent part of several of the best west coast road trips usa

However,  while planning your Joshua Tree National Park itinerary , it would be a mistake to skip the Colorado Desert at the southern end of the park.  

The Colorado Desert is hotter, lower in elevation, and flatter, but holds gorgeous landscapes full of cacti and, at the right time of year, wildflowers. 

 In the summer months, avoid strenuous hikes or leave early in the morning as temperatures can reach over 100 degrees.

Joshua Tree National Park is a designated Dark Sky Park, perfect for stargazing and well outside the bright light of the city.  

Joshua Tree is roughly 2.5 hours outside of Los Angeles.

Joshua Tree NP in California with a Joshua tree on the right side of the photo

From Chris of Called to Wander

Alaska is known as the Last Frontier, evoking adventure for those looking to travel to a truly unique place.

Because the state is massive, at over twice the size of Texas, you could spend as much or as little time exploring it as you have.

Many people take cruises through the Inside Passage and make stops in places like Ketchikan, Haines, and Seward.

Others fly into the main cities of Anchorage or Fairbanks and then rent vehicles and head off on their own adventures.

By far the best way to make the most of an Alaska vacation (though it requires a steep time commitment) is by driving to Alaska and spending as much time as you’d like wandering from one place to the next.

glacier in glacier np in alaska with water in the foreground and a mountain in the background

You can drive to the Arctic Ocean along the Dalton Highway, view North America’s largest mountain (Mt. Denali), or observe wildlife like caribou, grizzly bear, and moose.

Or, catch a flight out to a handful of the most remote national parks, or drive up to and hike out to massive, ancient glaciers.

If you enjoy fishing, go after halibut in Homer or salmon in the famous Russian River.

Regardless of what kind of travel you prefer, Alaska offers adventure for everyone and should definitely be on your travel bucket list!

Train along an Alaska mountainside with wildflowers in the foreground and a mountain in the background. Alaska is one of the most beautiful places in the us

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

From Dan of Cabin Critic

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is the most popular national park in the US, hosting over 10 million annual visitors, and it definitely belongs on your bucket list for the USA.

Located in Tennessee and North Carolina, the park has diverse animal life, plants, and natural attractions. There are tons to do and see. 

If you are feeling adventurous you can go zoom down zip lines, go white water rafting, or go mountain biking. 

For a more relaxed trip, you can go on hikes, see beautiful waterfalls, or simply go for a scenic drive.

sunrise of great smoky mountains, one of the most beautiful national parks in the us

Cades Cove, for example, is a broad valley surrounded by mountains you can drive through that is well known for providing the best opportunities for seeing wildlife like white-tailed deer, black bears, coyotes, and more.

When you aren’t enjoying the outdoors there are numerous mountain towns to enjoy like Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, or Asheville .

Stay in  one of the cabins with a view  of the mountainsides and check out the local attractions like Dollywood in Pigeon Forge or the Biltmore Estate in Asheville . 

View of the Great Smoky Mountains during fall foliage season in the southern USA

Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

From Michele of Adventures Abound

Just a 2-hour drive from both Portland and Seattle rest the foothills of the towering volcano Mount Rainier.

Known to the Indigenous since time immemorial, Mount Tahoma is covered in unimaginable beauty and can be enjoyed year-round. 

Visit in the summertime for hiking through meadows strewn with wildflowers of every color, and in the fall for ripening berries and a better chance to catch the trails and lakes free of ice and snowmelt on a variety of great day hikes just outside of Seattle .

To extend your visit overnight, pitch a tent in an established campground, stay in a rustic lodge in the national park, or backpack along the Wonderland trail that circumvents the park.

Not feeling up to a lengthy hike?

hiker in a field of wildflowers in mount rainier np with mount rainier visible in the background

Just driving through Mount Rainier National Park will afford endless views of waterfalls, glaciers, lakes, and even the chance to spot wildlife. 

For those thrill-seekers looking for a more challenging adventure, apply for a permit to climb more than 8,000 feet to the summit, but be aware this is only for experienced mountaineers.

Mount Rainier National Park can also be enjoyed in the winter when the park sees an average of 55 feet of snowfall or more.

Head to the Crystal Mountain gondola to catch a great view of the peak while skiing and snowboarding down the slopes, or pick one of many great locations to snowshoe and backcountry ski along the mountain.

Whatever the choice for season and activity, Mount Rainier National Park is sure to be full of memories and adventure in one of the most beautiful destinations in the United States.

Snowcapped Mount Rainier with wildflowers in the foreground, one of the most beautiful places in usa

Arches National Park, Utah

Home to over 2,000 naturally-occurring sandstone arches, Arches National Park in Utah is one of the most uniquely beautiful places in the USA.

Whether you’re hiking to the incredible Delicate Arch (so iconic that it’s featured on Utah’s license plates), wandering through the Devil’s Garden, or taking one of the shorter hikes to visit some of the most impressive arches in the park, there’s no shortage of things to do.

Even one day in Arches National Park is well worth your time, but more would certainly be better.

Arches National Park is also home to internationally-recognized dark skies and some of the best stargazing in the United States–in order to see the best of the park, be sure to visit at least once after dark!

And, while Arches National Park is easily one of the best places to vacation in the US in its own right, the nearby town of Moab also makes an excellent launching pad to visit Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park.

Double Arch in Arches National Park Utah

Olympic National Park, Washington

From Sophie and Adam of We Dream of Travel

Not only does Olympic National Park cover nearly a million acres, but it is also the most biodiverse of all the US national parks.

It has it all, from glaciated mountains to breathtaking coastlines, crashing waterfalls, ancient rainforests, enchanting hot springs, and plentiful wildlife.

With such a treasure trove of natural landscapes, Olympic National Park is easily one of the best places to visit in the US.

Mountain lovers should budget plenty of time to hike the trails of Hurricane Ridge.

Here you will discover stunning views above the clouds, as well as an abundance of wildlife.

Rocky Beach in Olympic National Park washington at sunset, a fantastic view along a west coast usa road trip destination

A great way to explore the park is on foot, particularly as much of the park is roadless. There are numerous multi-day hikes to choose from and it’s popular with backpackers.

The 17.4 miles Hoh River Trail is one of the most impressive, taking you through a flourishing rainforest to the base of Mount Olympus.

For coastal visitors, Second Beach is one of the best Olympic Park photography  locations and a perfect spot for sunset. 

However, with 73 miles of wild coastline, there’s plenty to explore!

There are endless options for the waterfall, forest, and nature lovers too.

In Sol Duc forest you can watch crystal water plunge into the lush greenery.

Or, you can choose to explore the vibrant green mosses of the Hoh Rainforest.  

No matter which part of Olympic National Park you visit, you will not be disappointed.

Forested trail in Olympic National Park with a river flowing across the photo. Olympic National Park definitely belongs on your USA bucket list!

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Stretching over a mile deep, the Grand Canyon in northwest Arizona is one of the largest–and most impressive–canyons on the planet, and one of the most popular places to visit in the USA!

Come to Grand Canyon National Park to admire views from the rim, hike into the canyon , watch the sunrise and sunset, and perhaps even hike all the way down to the Colorado River.

If you do want to hike to the river, though, be warned: doing so is a 2-day commitment!

Anyone taking a southwest road trip in the USA should consider adding a visit to the majestic Grand Canyon to their list: it’s truly a sight that you’ll never forget.

View of the Grand Canyon from the south rim near sunset. The Grand Canyon is one of the best USA travel destinations

Death Valley National Park, California

From Michelle of The Wandering Queen

One of the best places to visit in California is Death Valley National Park .

This park is filled with bright white salt flats, mountains splashed with pastel colors, and eerie rocks that move on their own.

This park is such a strange yet unique environment which makes it perfect for avid photographers.

One of the best things to do is to watch the sunrise at Zabriskie Point. The views are glorious as the sun slowly sets on the unique colorful mountains.

Afterward, make sure to hike the Golden Canyon, Gower Gulch, and Badlands Loop Hike. The trailhead is right next to Zabriskie Point.

mesquite dunes in death valley national park during a pink sunrise

Another popular activity is visiting Badwater Basin. The basin stands at 282 feet below sea level and is filled with white salt.

This is a great spot to take pictures of the salt in contrast with the tall, dark mountains in the distance.

Nearby the salt flats, you can visit the devil’s golf course where spikey salt formations cover the ground.

The next outstanding area to visit is the Artists Drive. The mountain is sprinkled with pastel colors like yellow, pink, purple, and green.

It truly is a spectacular thing to see!

Rocky Mountain National Park

From Jyoti of Story At Every Corner

Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most gorgeous parks in the US.

It’s also easily reachable from Denver, Colorado, which has many flights from across the country, making it fairly simple to access and one of the most popular places to vacation in America!

The best place to stay is in Estes Park , a quaint little tourist town in the mountains.

There are many small towns all around the park and many choices for all price points. 

white and green shop in downtown estes park. shopping downtown is one of the best things to do in estes park colorado

The easiest way to visit RMNP park is by car.

You can then enjoy the park by making stops at each vista point and taking hikes from there.

Most stops have short and long hikes; easy and challenging hikes.

There is a hike for everyone, but there is also spectacular scenery right at the vista points, even without a hike.

Keep in mind that the popularity of Rocky Mountain National Park means that certain places, like Bear Lake Road, must be accessed via reservation.

Kate Storm standing in front of Emerald Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, one of the best places to visit in colorado

The most popular road that goes across the park is the scenic Trail Ridge Road.

If you don’t have time to visit anything else, I recommend driving Trail Ridge Road from Estes Park to the town of Grand Lake.

Other major attractions include Sprague Lake and Bear Lake, to the south of the trail ridge road.

They offer absolutely stunning views and many wildlife viewing opportunities along with the drives. 

There is so much to do around Denver that RMNP can be part of a week-long itinerary visiting Colorado  or a trip just for RMNP. 

jeremy storm in a gray backpack hiking in rocky mountain national park

Set in the Sierra Nevada Mountains along the border of California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is easily one of the most beautiful places in the US.

With crystal-clear water and plenty of activities in and out of the water, from hiking to SUP to swimming, there is no shortage of ways to appreciate the otherworldly beauty of Lake Tahoe .

To enjoy the views of the lake itself, summer is definitely the best time to visit–but winter has its charms, too, including plenty of skiing and incredible views of the lake framed by bright white snow.

From romantic couples’ retreats to fun getaways to Lake Tahoe with kids , all kinds of travelers will find something to love about Lake Tahoe.

Lake Tahoe from above during the summer, one of the best USA travel destinations

Havasu Falls, Arizona

Located on Havasupai tribal lands not far from the Grand Canyon, Havasu Falls is simultaneously one of the most famous waterfalls in the USA and one of the hardest to access.

In order to visit Havasu Falls, you’ll need to secure an extremely competitive permit (they sell out months in advance) and complete a 10-mile hike in each direction.

You’ll also need to spend the night nearby, as it’s one of the permit requirements set out by the Havasupai people.

If you manage to swing both the logistics and the hike, though, the rewards are pretty spectacular.

Havasu Falls in Arizona, one of the most beautiful places in USA. Turquoise waterfall with orange walls surrounding it

Zion National Park, Utah

Home to some of what are quite possibly the best hikes in the country, Utah’s most-visited national park is absolutely one of the best places to see in the US.

Test your fear of heights (if you have one, that is) by hiking the incredible Angel’s Landing, and be rewarded with stunning views of Zion Canyon.

Venture deep into the Virgin River by hiking The Narrows , a hike that takes place literally in the river!

Seek out incredible views along Observation Point, the Canyon Overlook Trail , and the Watchman Trail.

Try to score a permit to hike the Subway, but if you can’t get one, don’t worry: there’s more to see in Zion National Park than you can cover in one vacation.

No matter how you spend your days at Zion National Park, there’s no doubt that you’ll be experiencing something worthy of a bucket list!

Kate Storm at the viewpoint at the Canyon Overlook Trail in Zion National Park Utah

Texas Bluebonnet Trail

California’s magnificent wildflowers may be a bit better known outside of the country, but Texas’ phenomenal spread of bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes that decorate the countryside each spring absolutely belong on anyone’s USA bucket list.

Whether you choose to visit the official Texas Bluebonnet Trail near Ennis (not far from Dallas) or head to the Texas Hill Country , there is no shortage of places to admire bluebonnets in Texas.

Though the blooming times can of course vary a bit depending on the weather, late March and early April are generally the best times to experience the beauty of Texas’ bluebonnets.

Wooden cart parked in a Texas field surrounded by bluebonnets. Beautiful countryside like this close by many of the best weekend getaways in Texas!

Upper Peninsula, Michigan

From Emily of Em’s on the Road

If you’re looking for unforgettable outdoor experiences without the price tag of popular destinations out west, then the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is the place for you.

One reason the Upper Peninsula (or U.P.) is really unique is that it is an ideal place for adventure seekers all year long. 

In the warmer months, the U.P is a great beach destination in the Midwest thanks to its location with beachfront on Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and Lake Huron.

In the fall, pack your hiking boots and tackle rocky hiking trails for colorful views you’d never expect in the Midwest.

With an unobstructed panoramic view of Lake Superior, the hike up  Sugar Loaf mountain in Marquette, Michigan  is one of the most popular in the region.

Thanks to some serious snowfall, there’s so much to do in the U.P. in the winter months.

There are cross-country ski trails, snowmobiling trails, downhill skiing, dog sledding, ice climbing, and more. 

View of Lake Superior with a rainbow over it during fall foliage season on Sugarloaf Mountain in Michigan

Redwood National Forest

From Dhara of Roadtripping California

Most visitors to the Golden State put   California’s national parks at the top of their itineraries because they are just so spectacular.

Redwood National and State Parks, in the northern part of the state, offer you the chance to stroll among giant redwoods, some of the tallest and oldest trees on the planet.

A group of five parks, Redwood National and State Parks feature not just the towering redwoods, but also epic coastal views, beautiful prairies filled with wildflowers in season, and the chance to see birds and wildlife.

Enjoy some of the scenic drives in the parks: Howland Hill Drive, Coastal Drive, and the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway are all great choices.

Two people walking through a doorway in a fallen redwood tree in california usa

Do some of the trails through the redwood groves to see the giant trees up close: the Big Tree Wayside Walk, the Stout Memorial Grove Trail, and Lady Bird Johnson Grove are all super scenic and relatively easy walks.

Gaze up at the trees, and enjoy the ferns and rhododendrons in the understory.

You can also go biking in the parks, and camp if you plan to stay for a few days.

Redwood National and State Parks are about 5.5 hours north of San Francisco by road, and you can visit all year, although you will have the best weather in the summer.

Man standing in front of enormous Redwood trees with a sunflare in the top left corner of the photo

Apostle Islands, Wisconsin

From Jase of Roaming Vegans

A little-known gem in the north of Wisconsin is the Apostle Islands.

This island archipelago on Lake Superior looks like it belongs in Southeast Asia – not on the shoreline of a humble midwestern town.

However, its tucked-away location makes it all the more special for visitors.

While the lake freezes in winter, the islands come to life in summer with many activities like  sea kayaking , island hopping, and cliff jumping.

There is even an island home to one of the largest concentrations of bears in the Midwest–yes, bears!

The largest and most populated island is Madeline Island which makes for a great base to explore the nearby smaller islands.

sea caves as seen from the water at apostle islands, one of the best places to visit in the us

Maui, Hawaii

From Jessica of I’m Jess Traveling

Famed for her elegant beaches,  world-class resorts , and next-level surf, Maui attracts visitors from all over the world. 

It’s no surprise that Maui was named Condé Nast Traveler’s best island in the U.S. for 23 consecutive years. 

There are countless things to see and do in Maui depending on your travel style. 

For outdoor enthusiasts, hike through a majestic bamboo forest ending at a 400-foot waterfall.  

Ocean lovers can test their skills at surfing or set sail on a sunset cruise.

Bright blue water as seen along the Road to Hana in Maui, one of the best USA road trip itinerary ideas

There won’t be a shortage of exotic beaches to explore, no matter what your travel style is.

The adventure seekers have their pick among plunging the popular Road to Hana or watching the sunrise above the clouds at 10,000 feet inside Haleakala National Park. 

Whatever your draw, sunsets, beaches, luxury, or adventure, Maui has it all. 

Not only is Maui one of the best USA travel destinations but it’s one of the best places to take a tropical vacation in the world. 

Couple walking along Kaanapali Beach in Maui, shaded by a palm tree. Kaanapali Beach is one of the best beaches in America

Cape Cod, Massachusetts

For adorable beach towns, sandy beaches, and some of the best seafood you’ve ever eaten in your life, head to the classic New England summer getaway of Cape Cod.

While you’re in Cape Cod (or as New Englanders say, “on the Cape”), hit one of the beautiful trails, visit a lighthouse or two, stick your toes in the sand, and eat lots and lots of lobster.

While Cape Cod’s swimming season is much shorter than popular beach destinations elsewhere in the country, it’s still well worth visiting.

Just be sure to plan ahead, because rental houses for summer on the Cape tend to book up before winter even wraps up!

Provincetown Massachusetts on Cape Cod as seen from the water

Nā Pali Coast, Kauai

Towering cliffs covered in dense jungle, dramatic waterfalls, small valleys, and views of the Pacific Ocean far below: welcome to the Nā Pali   Coast.

Without a doubt, the Nā Pali   Coast on Kauai is one of the most beautiful travel destinations in the US.

Stretching 17 miles along the northwest portion of Kauai, the Nā Pali   Coast is best admired from air–usually via a helicopter tour–or from a boat on the sea.

Whichever option you choose, there’s no doubt that what is arguably the most beautiful corner of The Garden Island is bound to impress.

Na Pali Coast of Kauai Hawaii. Kauai is one of the best road trips in USA.

Florida Keys

For a taste of the Caribbean without leaving the USA, head to the Florida Keys!

Not only is the overseas drive from Miami to Key West one of the most scenic road trips in the USA, but the Keys themselves are also fantastic, home to beautiful beaches, colorful architecture, great food, and plenty of things to do.

While you’re there, be sure to hit the water via snorkeling or scuba diving, go for a swim, enjoy the famous Duval Street, tour the Ernest Hemingway House, and eat several slices of the region’s famous Key Lime pie!

Highway over the Caribbean Sea leading the to Floriday Keys as shot with a drone. The Florida Keys are one of the best places to visit in USA

Big Island, Hawaii

From Patricia of Travel Fam Life

The biggest of the Hawaiian Islands, Hawaii (also known as the Big Island) is a cool place to visit.

That starts with the weather: you’ll experience a lot of sunshine temperatures ranging from 85°- 90° in the summer months and 79°- 83 in the winter months, making it the perfect place to escape year-round. 

Hawaii is going to impress anyone that decides to visit.

The food is phenomenal and the choices are vast with plenty of history and cultural backgrounds.

The array of activities ranges from land to sea, from memorable ancient sites to beautiful folklore traditions. 

Some of the best things to do when taking a vacation to the Big Island include:

woman snorkeling in hawaii with orange fish in the foreground

Zip Lining over waterfalls is an activity that can be very exhilarating if you are an adrenaline junkie.

This can also be enjoyed as a family activity, some companies allow kids as young as 5 years old to participate.

Volcano National Park is a breathtaking experience with its majestic hikes, thrilling ride down to the Chain of Craters, and some spectacular scenery and photo opportunities.

Papakolea or Green Sand Beach is one of 4 green sand beaches in the world.

The hike to this remote beach is very worthwhile, and the backdrop of the Hawaiian blue ocean that keeps you company makes the whole experience priceless.

And the list goes on, you can check it out here .

Helicopter tour of Volcano National Park in Hawaii shot from inside the helicopter with lava visible through the windshield

Outer Banks, North Carolina

With sandy beaches framed by sand dunes and rolling waves, the Outer Banks of North Carolina may not boast the bright water of the Florida Keys or the tropical beauty of Hawaii, but they are stunning all the same, and absolutely one of the best places to visit in the USA.

Come for the small beach towns, the history of the Wright Brothers taking their first flight here, the southern food, the historic forts, and the beautiful lighthouses. 

Come for the sunken pirate ships, for the wild horses that live on some of the islands, for the great places to swim, and for the great day trip opportunities.

If you’re looking for a classic, all-American vacation, you can’t go wrong with a visit to the barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina that make up the magnificent Outer Banks.

2 wild horses on a beach in North Carolina. Both horses are brown and they are standing near sand dunes

Oahu, Hawaii

From Sydney of A World in Reach

While visitors sometimes think of Oahu as just being a stopping point before visiting Hawaii’s other islands, the island has so much to offer than overcrowded beaches and tourist attractions.

Oahu is home to delicious food, beautiful scenery, and captivating history and is one of the best travel destinations in the United States.

Most visitors to Oahu will base themselves in Honolulu, Hawaii’s capital and largest city.

Guidebooks often recommend spending little time in Honolulu; however, this city is a melting pot of culture and is home to some of the best food on the island.

Whether you’re looking for a traditional Hawaiian meal or some of the best Asian food in the United States, you can easily find a delicious meal in Honolulu.

Start your visit to Oahu off by exploring Honolulu, seeing the sights, and eating all of the delicious food.

oahu hawaii beach at sunset with palm trees in the foreground

Spend a day at Waikiki Beach – it might be touristy, but it’s still worth a visit.

Plan a visit to Pearl Harbor, where you can learn more about one of the darkest days in US History, and spend a morning hiking Diamond Head, one of the best hikes on Oahu .

Spend the rest of your time on the island exploring the North Shore, visiting the famous Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck, and indulging in shave ice from Matsumoto.

Visit the beaches along the North Shore, where you might see some surfers catching waves, and hike through a botanical garden to a beautiful waterfall at Waimea Valley.

Lanikai beach in Oahu Hawaii as seen from above. One of the best beaches in USA

Napa Valley, California

Northern California’s wine country is definitely among the most beautiful–and for wine lovers, tastiest, places to visit in the USA.

With beautiful small towns, great boutiques, and rolling hills filled with vineyards that almost feel like being in Tuscany, both Napa Valley and Sonoma County have plenty to offer those looking for a laid-back, wine-filled getaway.

Vineyard in Napa Valley CA with a wood barn visible in the background, one of the best honeymoon destinations in usa

Door County, Wisconsin

From Paulina of Paulina on the Road

Wisconsin often isn’t the first US state that people think of visiting, but from beautiful beaches to quirky attractions like House on the Rock , it has plenty to offer.

One of the most beautiful USA landmarks, Door Country, Wisconsin welcomes you on board with 300 miles of stretched shoreline and an awestruck sunset over the water, you could not leave without a witness. 

It allows your soul to breathe and relax. Wisconsin lets you explore aesthetic art galleries, and thousands of miles of stretched orchards, cherish the local brews and wines, paddle along the beautiful lakes, and devour the cheery pies.

winding road through fall foliage in door county wisconsin, one of the best hidden usa secret vacation spots

Moreover, Green Bay, the capital of the region, is an underrated city that eventually captivates its visitors.

Though it’s a small city, the vibrant culture offers amazing  things to do in Green Bay .

Green Bay entertains visitors with prominent wineries. They produce their wines right up there which adds up to be a vital part of their culture. The landscape and heritage inspire the artists.

Walleye fishermen have the best water. It’s clean and portrays immense beauty. The botanical gardens and zoological parks play their role in charming travelers. 

Green Bay is an enchanting place that charms visitors with its intriguing features. 

Lakeshore at golden hour in Door County Wisconsin with evergreen trees on the right side of the photo

Route 66 isn’t technically just one place, but as one of the most iconic travel destinations in the United States, I couldn’t bear to leave it off this USA bucket list!

Stretching from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California, Route 66 is America’s best-known road trip and the perfect place to find not-quite-forgotten slices of Americana, from quirky roadside attractions like Cadillac Ranch and the Catoosa Whale to beloved diners and 50s-era-inspired motels.

Route 66 passes through nine states in total (Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California), and is a fantastic way to experience some of the best of what traveling in the US has to offer, all in one large trip.

jeremy storm sitting on top of a car at cadillac ranch in amarillo

Big cities, small towns, incredibly diverse landscapes, and beloved national parks are all featured heavily on Route 66.

Though it’s not technically on the route, even the Grand Canyon is accessible as an incredible side journey when road-tripping Route 66.

Whether you want to find a quirky campsite in Oklahoma or go hiking in Arizona, there’s no doubt that Route 66 is a classic US travel destination.

Route 66 in California with Joshua trees on either side. Route 66 is one of the absolute best road trips in USA

Big Sur, California

From Lauren of Ready, Set, PTO

Big Sur is one of the most beautiful places in the US and should definitely be on your bucket list.

Cruising along the winding Pacific Coast Highway with sweeping views of the Pacific is a magical experience.

This rugged area is located in Central California, about 5 hours north of Los Angeles.

If you aren’t able to find available lodging within Big Sur, check out nearby towns of Carmel and Monterey for more options, or try car camping with an epic view!

mcway falls as seen on big sur from above, one of the best places to visit in california

There are plenty of amazing  things to do in Big Sur .

I definitely recommend checking out the iconic Bixby Bridge (as seen in HBO’s Big Little Lies), admiring McWay Falls, hiking in Andrew Molera State Park, and Limekiln State Park, having a drink with a view at Nepenthe and watching the sunset at Pfeiffer Beach!

There’s not much cell service in Big Sur, so be prepared for an off-the-grid weekend of relaxation and gorgeous views.

Pacific Coast Highway California shot from above, one of the best romantic vacations for couples in the United States

Page, Arizona

The small town of Page, Arizona may seem like no more than a small town worthy of a brief stop on a road trip at first blush–but this small, unassuming town is home to some of the most incredible sights in the entire southwest, and it definitely belongs on your USA bucket list!

Page is where you can find the famous Antelope Canyon, as well as Horseshoe Bend , the Instagram darling of the Colorado River (for very good reason).

Just outside of Page, you can also find the remarkable Glen Canyon Dam, one of the largest dams in the US, as well as Lake Powell–but to see the best of Lake Powell, you’ll actually need to cross into Utah!

That’s not hard to do, though: Page is located right next to the Arizona/Utah border.

With such an outsized list of fun attractions, there’s no doubt that Page is one of the coolest places to vacation in the USA.

2 photos of the USA, first from a train ride in Alaska and one from a geothermic spring in Yellow. Black and red text reads "50 bucket list usa travel destinations"

About Kate Storm

Image of the author, Kate Storm

In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.

3 thoughts on “USA Bucket List: 50 Best Places to Visit in the US”

Great info. I know its great because I have been to most of the beaches you mention!

Thank you – will also look at your Italian small towns to see which ones we should visit and maybe retire to.

Thank you so much, Laura!

Retiring to Italy–sounds like quite the dream! 🙂

Absolutely amazing article, just loved it.

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The top 12 places to visit in the USA in 2024

Bailey Freeman

Feb 23, 2024 • 6 min read

best places to visit the usa

New York City never gets old, not with so many exciting and dynamic neighborhoods to explore © LeoPatrizi / Getty

The best thing about visiting the USA can be summed up in one word: variety. This expansive country contains an incredible number of travel experiences that would take a lifetime to complete – try wandering through the redwoods, breathing in deep gulps of sea air on glimmering beaches, or immersing yourself in the underground art scenes in some of the world's most famous cities.

Whether you're a nature lover looking for wide open spaces and snow-covered peaks or a culture fiend who can't get enough of museums and galleries, the USA has something for you. To help stem the overwhelm of options, these are our 12 favorite places to visit in the USA in 2024.

1. New York, New York

Best place for art and architecture

A city that looms large in American lore, New York continues to live up to its hype. A global center for art, fashion, finance, music and food, the Big Apple will never leave you feeling bored. Sip sunset cocktails on luxurious rooftops, mosh at local punk shows, marvel at world-class art in famous museums, or indulge in the best food you've ever had at a hole-in-the-wall favorite.

Planning tip: New York has so much to offer, but resist the urge to see it all on your first trip. Break things down by neighborhood or borough , or perhaps even by interest.

2. San Francisco, CA

Best for counter-culture

San Francisco contains multitudes, offering an urban travel experience with a distinctly West Coast flavor: take in breathtaking bay views at Golden Gate Park , wander the alleyways of the country's largest and oldest Chinese neighborhood , pay homage to LGBTIQ+ heroes in the Castro, or dive into cutting-edge art at SFMOMA and a plethora of local galleries.

3. National Mall in Washington, DC

Best for national history

Washington DC's National Mall represents the center of American political life and distills its cultural history into a two-mile strip of iconic monuments and the country's most famous museums. The mall contains ten Smithsonian museums – the National Museum of Natural History , the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Museum of American History, among others – plus landmarks including the National Gallery of Art, the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol building.

A group of friends cooking seafood over a fire outdoors in Maine

4. New England

Best for forest drives

Want to meander on mountain roads beneath brilliant forest canopies and savor tasty lobster and coastal views all in the same trip? New England is the place to be. Explore the quaint villages and cranberry bogs of Cape Cod , snuggle into a cabin in the mountains of Vermont , or dive into all the seafood you can eat in Portland, Maine . And if you visit in autumn, prepare yourself for some of the most spectacular fall foliage in the country.

5. Pacific Coast Highway

Best for West Coast exploration

The Pacific Coast Highway – technically three highways linked together – connects sunny San Diego with moody Seattle , delivering epic West Coast experiences along the 1600-mile journey. Stay at kitschy motels in coastal towns, admire the cliffs of Big Sur , marvel at the tidepools in Oregon , and explore Washington's Olympic National Park .

Planning tip: Sections of the Pacific Coast Highway run along sea cliffs prone to rockslides. Always check road conditions before setting out in case of any unexpected closures.

6. New Orleans, Louisiana

Best for foodies and art lovers

There's no place in the world like New Orleans  – we promise. A vibrant cocktail of Indigenous, Caribbean, African, French and Spanish influences, this city possesses a unique magic that keeps people coming back for more. Dive into its legendary Creole cuisine, revel in its lively festivals, and immerse yourself in a world-class music scene – this is the birthplace of jazz, after all.

Planning tip: New Orleans's coastal location makes it susceptible to hurricanes from June through October, with the most active months being August and September.

7. Santa Fe, New Mexico

Best for Indigenous history and culture

Nicknamed the "City Different," Santa Fe is rooted in American history while still keeping up with the times. A cultural melange of Indigenous, Spanish and Mexican influences, this city is home to numerous historical sites – like the 400-year-old Plaza – and a cutting-edge art culture that features a strong contingent of independent artists and the original Meow Wolf , a game-changing immersive art installation.

Tourists admire iconic Cloud Gate at Millenium Park during early spring Rolf_52_Shutterstock.jpg

8. Chicago, Illinois

Best metropolis for midwestern charm

Chicago contains all the hallmarks of a great American city – excellent food, multicultural neighborhoods , top-tier museums – with a distinctly midwestern twist. Spend your days lounging next to the ocean-like Lake Michigan, catch a Cubs game at Wrigley Field , or have an evening of laughs at Second City , the launchpad for greats like Stephen Colbert and Tina Fey.

9. Rocky Mountains, Colorado

Best for big peaks and winter sports

If you want to see the quintessential mountains of the American West, the Rockies in Colorado should be your first stop. Rocky Mountains National Park is a logical starting point, but in truth, there are so many different ways to access this dynamic mountain range – hit the slopes in ski hubs like Vail , Aspen and Telluride, drive the scenic byways of the San Juan range, or pitch camp in one of the state's numerous national forests.

Planning tip: Unless you're from somewhere with similar elevation, you might feel the effects of altitude throughout the Rockies; stay extremely hydrated, take your time on hikes, and skip the alcohol.

10. Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina and Virginia

Best for east coast mountains

While the Rockies tend to get a lot of press – for good reason – the USA's oldest mountain range is a must-see. The Blue Ridge Mountains make up the southern third of the Appalachian mountain chain, and the lush forests wrapped around these rolling hills make for incredible blue-green vistas from the region's many ridges and balds. Dive into the numerous day hikes, cruise the Blue Ridge Parkway , or hike a section of the storied Appalachian Trail .

Man kayaking at a mangrove forest in the Everglades

11. The Everglades, Florida

Best for wildlife watchers

The importance of the Everglades can't be overstated – this sprawling wetland is an International Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a national park, thanks to the diverse profusion of flora and fauna that live here. Paddle through the coastal estuaries and camp among mangroves, or whiz through the numerous waterways via airboat. All the while, keep your eyes peeled for wading birds, manatees, and of course, alligators and crocodiles.

Planning tip: For the best experience, come prepared for the elements: sunscreen and bug spray are essentials.

12. Southwestern Utah

Best for geology lovers

If you want to visit one place in the US that sums up the grandiosity of its natural history, southwestern Utah is the place to go. Home to five of the country's most spectacular national parks, Red Rock Country puts the region's geological past on display with a dazzling amount of artistic flair. Hike the peaks and valleys of Zion and Bryce Canyon , or marvel at the crimson, ochre and amber palette in the cliffs and canyons of Capitol Reef and Canyonlands . And if you want a special treat, watch the sun rise over the sandstone masterpieces at Arches .

Planning tip: Large swaths of this region are extremely remote and sometimes lack cell service, both on the road and on the trail. Always share your plans with others and bring plenty of water in case of emergencies.

This article was first published May 2021 and updated February 2024

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Nomadic Matt's Travel Site

Travel Better, Cheaper, Longer

My 31 Favorite Places to Visit in the USA

The colorful rocks of the Grand Canyon during sunset

From sea to shining sea, the United States is home to a diverse landscape — both culturally and physically. Spending months traveling across it gave me a deep appreciation for all my country has to offer.

After traveling across the continental United States as part of multiple cross-country road trips (you never really realize how big Texas is until you drive through it. Damn that state is big!), I wanted to share some of my favorite places in the United States with you. I’ve already talked about my favorite restaurants and lessons learned , so it only seems proper to give you a list of the best places to visit in the USA when you come and travel here!

To help you get started, here’s a quick overview of some of the highlights:

Best destination for foodies: New Orleans Best destination for partying: Miami or Las Vegas Best destination for hiking/nature: Glacier National Park Best destination for history: Natchez Best destination for museums: Washington, D.C. or New York City Best destination for families: The Grand Canyon

In no particular order, here’s my detailed list of the best places to visit in the USA:

( Note: This list is based only on where I myself have been. There are a lot more incredibly breathtaking places I haven’t explored yet, which is why you don’t see them on this list!)  

The restaurants of Memphis, Tennessee lit up at night

WHERE TO STAY IN MEMPHIS : Hostel Memphis – A hip hostel in a century-old building with a fully-equipped kitchen and free Wi-Fi. The hostel is also a non-profit that donates 100% of its profit to social justice causes around the city.  

Austin, Texas skyline at dusk shining over the water

Thanks to everything from the growing food truck population to the flagship Whole Foods store with the incredible salad bar (grilled pineapple!), I eat — and eat well — nonstop. The Austin campus of the University of Texas provides a youthful vigor to the city, and its liberal attitude attracts a diverse and eclectic population. In short, you can’t skip Austin, because if you do, I’ll find you and drag you there.

WHERE TO STAY IN AUSTIN : Firehouse Hostel – This centrally-located hostel is located in an old firehall from 1885. They have fast Wi-Fi, plenty of chill common areas, and an amazing on-site bar that serves top-notch craft cocktails.

For more travel tips on Austin, check out these posts:

  • My Complete Guide to Austin
  • My Guide to Eating in Austin

3. New Orleans

The beautiful and historic buildings of New Orleans, USA at night

WHERE TO STAY IN NOLA : HI New Orleans – An award-winning hostel with spacious dorms, comfy beds, privacy curtains, and fast Wi-Fi. Everything a budget traveler needs!

For more travel tips on traveling New Orleans, check out my suggested itinerary on how to spend 4 days there !  

4. Asheville

A massive old mansion surrounded by visitors in Asheville, North Carolina

If you’ve ever seen Downton Abbey, that’s what the house is like! (And, if you haven’t, you should! The show is addicting!)

WHERE TO STAY IN ASHEVILLE : Bon Paul & Sharky’s – A laid-back hsotel with a spacious front and back porch for relaxing. There’s free parking, free Wi-Fi, and plenty of nearby restaurants and cafes.  

5. The Pacific Coastal Drive

A scenic view of the Pacific Ocean from the Pacific Coastal Drive

WHERE TO STAY ON THE PACFIC COAST HIGHWAY : Airbnb – Airbnb is your best bet here, unless you have camping gear and want to camp in one of the many parks. There are also lots of cheap motels along the highway too.  

6. Redwood National Park

Towering redwood trees in the Redwood National Park, California during the day

WHERE TO STAY IN REDWOOD NATIONAL PARK : View Crest Lodge – Located on the coast in Trinidad, this rustic budget-friendly lodge has basic amenities like free Wi-Fi and TV, and some of their rooms also have full kitchens. It’s a clean, comfy no-frills place to crash for a night.  

7. Glacier National Park

Calm waters and snow-capped mountains in Glacier National Park

WHERE TO STAY IN GLACIER NATIONAL PARK : Camping – Pack (or rent) a tent and cozy up for a few nights under the stars. You won’t be disappointed.  

The downtown Denver, Colorado skyline lit up at night

WHERE TO STAY IN DENVER : Ember Hostel – This boutique hostel is rated one of the best in the country, offering a swank interior, free jacuzzi, outdoor firepit, comfy beds with blackout curtains, free parking, and more.  

The famous bean sculpture in Chicago, Illinois shining at night

And once the winter deep freeze is over, Chicagoans burst out of their homes to enjoy the summer weather, so there’s a positive, happy vibe emanating through the city. Take advantage of it.

WHERE TO STAY IN CHICAGO : HI Chicago – A spacious, clean hostel with female-only dorms, free Wi-Fi, and a great location. The beds are comfy and the common area is huge so it’s easy to meet people.

For more travel tips on Chicago, check out this detailed planning guide !  

10. New York City

The iconic skyline of NYC on a bright summer day

WHERE TO STAY IN NYC : Jazz on the Park – Located near Central Park on the Upper West Side, this no-frills hostel is close to the train and is one of the more affordable places in the city. The dorms are basic and the beds aren’t winning any awards but it’s cheap (for NYC at least!).

For more travel tips on New York City, check out these posts:

  • The Complete Guide to New York City
  • The Best Walking Tours of New York City
  • 21 Delicious Places to Eat in NYC
  • How to Spend 4 Days in New York City

11. Natchez

A bright orange sunset over the water near Natchez, Mississippi

Now, they are historic monuments, and you can tour them while enjoying a view of the Mississippi River. It’s far off the beaten path — and my favorite discovery from my last road trip.

WHERE TO STAY IN NATCHEZ : The Guest House Historic Mansion – If you want to splash out, this 19th-century mansion includes free breakfast and spacious historic rooms as well as modern amenities like Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, and flatscreen TVs.

For more travel tips on Natchez,  check out this post on my visit there .  

12. Savannah

A black and white photo of an antebellum mansion in Savannah, Georgia

WHERE TO STAY IN SAVANNAH : Thunderbird Inn – This affordable three-star motel is just a short 5-minute walk from downtown. Boasting a retro vibe, there’s free coffee and juice every morning, as well as free donuts and popcorn available in the lobby.  

13. The Grand Canyon

A sweeping view from the top of the Grand Canyon on a sunny day in Arizona

WHERE TO STAY IN THE GRAND CANYON : Camp – Pack (or rent) a tent and cozy up for a few nights under the stars. You’ll need to reserve a spot early though as they disappear fast!

For more travel tips on the Grand Canyon, read this post on hiking the canyon .  

14. Nashville

A lively street of music bars in Nashville, Tennessee at night

There’s not a lot of “touristy stuff” to do here, but what makes this city one of my favorites are the music, the food, the wildly friendly and happy people, and the positive energy the city seems to exude. When you’re here, plan to spend a few hours at the Tennessee State Museum. It goes into great (though sometimes very one-sided) detail about the state’s history, but it’s more exciting than you might think.

WHERE TO STAY IN NASHVILLE : Red Roof Inn – While it’s not centrally located, this is one of the city’s few affordable two-star options. A quick 13-minute drive from the Grand Ole Opry, this budget-friendly joint boasts an outdoor pool, free Wi-Fi, and free coffee.  

15. San Francisco

Looking up at the Golden Gate Bridge from the San Francisco Beach in the summer

WHERE TO STAY IN SAN FRANCISCO : Green Tortoise – As one of the oldest in town, this hostel is an institution in San Francisco. It offers free breakfast, free dinners multiple times per week, and even a free sauna! It has a huge common room so it’s easy to meet people and has a very fun, social atmosphere.

For more travel tips on San Francisco, read these posts:

  • The Complete Guide to San Francisco
  • San Francisco Itinerary: Things to See & Do in 3 Days
  • The Best Hostels in San Francisco

Wide and spacious beach on the coast of Miami, Florida

WHERE TO STAY IN MIAMI : Generator Miami – This hostel has a pool, two restaurants, a bar, and is just minutes away from the beach. It’s massive (there are 8 floors), the beds are more comfortable than the cheap ones you’ll find at the party hostels.

For more travel tips on Miami, check out this detailed planning guide !  

17. San Diego

A tall wooden pier on the San Diego beach during sunset

The downtown Gaslamp area — as well as the famous Pacific Beach — is full of trendy seafood restaurants, bustling bars, and some seriously life-changing taco stalls. I love San Diego .

WHERE TO STAY IN SAN DIEGO : ITH Adventure Hostel – With a focus on sustainable travel (there’s a vegetable garden and backyard chickens), this chill hostel is very friendly and social. It’s clean, and the water pressure in the showers is decent, and the beds are comfy too.  

19. Lake Tahoe

A sweeping view of the forests around Lake Tahoe in California

WHERE TO STAY IN LAKE TAHOE : Camping – Pack (or rent) a tent and cozy up for a few nights under the stars. You won’t be disappointed.  

20. Anywhere in Montana

A flat, sparse farmyard in rural Montana during the summer

WHERE TO STAY IN MONTANA : Treasure State Hostel – Located in downtown Bozeman, this hotel is quiet, clean, and is home to friendly staff. They organize all kinds of events too, like pub crawls and movie nights, so it’s easy to hang out and meet people.  

21. Washington D.C.

The White House in Washington, D.C

WHERE TO STAY IN WASHINGTON : Highroad Hostel – Offering pod-style bunks, this cool hostel is located in an old Victorian mansion. The beds have memory foam mattresses, there’s a fully-equipped kitchen, and the common area has a fireplace.

For more travel tips on Washington D.C., here are some other articles I’ve written:

  • Travel guide to Washington D.C.
  • Free Things to do in Washington D.C. in 2019

22. Cape Cod

Waves crashing against a sunny beach in Cape Cod, Massachusetts

WHERE TO STAY IN CAPE COD : Cape Sands Inn – Just a short walk from the beach in West Yarmouth, this three-star property has all the standard amenities (TV, coffee/tea, free Wi-Fi), as well as free parking and a relaxing sauna and hot tub.  

A historic statue surrounded by flowers in Boston, Massachusetts

It’s home to a ton of activities, like the Freedom Trail and Faneuil Hall, the JFK Museum, and the Boston Commons and Public Garden, as well as some of the best Italian and seafood restaurants in the country. Be sure to eat at Zaftigs for the best brunch in the city! It’s wicked!

WHERE TO STAY IN BOSTON : HI Boston – This spacious and clean hostel is just a short walk from pretty much everything in the city. They have female-only dorms, free Wi-Fi, and several chill common areas where you can meet other travelers.

For more travel tips on Boston, check out these posts:

  • Travel guide to Boston
  • Boston Itinerary
  • Free Things to do in Boston

24. Las Vegas

The glamorous hotels and casinos of the Las Vegas strip lit up at night

Get off the Strip, explore the real Vegas (because technically the Strip is located in Paradise, NV, not Las Vegas), and see why people decide to live here.

WHERE TO STAY IN LAS VEGAS : Sin City Hostel – Just a short walk from the (in)famous Fremont Street, this is a social hostel that hosts all kinds of events (such as bar crawls, pasta & wine nights, BBQs, casino nights, and more). It’s a great place to connect with other travelers.

For more travel tips on Las Vegas, these articles can help:

  • Travel guide to Las Vegas
  • 12 Things to do in Vegas That Don’t Involve a Casino
  • How to be a High-Roller in Vegas on a Low-Roller Budget

25. Portland

A sunny public plaza in Portland, Oregon with people walking around

Portland is just an awesome city, especially in the summer when the weather is perfect and there are festivals and events galore, like the World Domination Summit and the Portland International Beerfest.

WHERE TO STAY IN PORTLAND : HI Portland – Northwest – Rated one of the best hostels in the world, this centrally-located HI hostel offers free breakfast, in-house made craft beer, an outdoor courtyard with a firepit, regular live music, and much more. It’s a lively, social, and fun place to stay!

For more travel tips on Portland, read this post on the city .  

26. Seattle

Neon Public Market sign lit up at night in Seattle, Washington

WHERE TO STAY IN SEATTLE : Green Tortoise – Located right across from the iconic Pike Place Market, this social hostel organizes all kinds of activities so it’s easy to meet people. They also offer free breakfast — a rare perk in the US!

For more travel tips on Seattle, read this detailed planning guide !  

27. Deadwood

The snowy main street of the historic town of Deadwood, South Dakota

WHERE TO STAY IN DEADWOOD : Gold Country Inn – This kitschy hotel is one of the cheapest places in town. Located right downtown, they have a mini gambling hall on-site, free Wi-Fi, and free parking. It’s nothing fancy but it won’t break the bank either.  

28. Kansas City

The exterior of Joe's BBQ in Kansas City, Missouri

WHERE TO STAY IN KANSAS CITY : Home2 Suites Downtown – With a fitness center, pool, and a decent breakfast spread, this three-star hotel in downtown KC is one of the more affordable places to crash in the city.  

29. Louisville

An old steamboat docked on the river in Louisville, USA

Louseiville has a laid-back, artsy vibe to it. It feels much more like an Austin or a Portland than your traditional southern/midwest city. In the past, it was considered a fly-over city and was skipped by most people. It’s definitely not now.

WHERE TO STAY IN LOUISVILLE : Microtel Inn – While it may be 20 minutes from downtown, this budget-friendly inn is affordable, includes free breakfast and free parking, and has free Wi-Fi. It’s a no-frills choice but clean and comfy.  

30. Charleston

A quiet sidestreet lined by trees in Charleston, USA

WHERE TO STAY IN CHARLESTON : Charlestons NotSo Hostel – Located in a historic neighborhood, this laid-back hostel includes free coffee/tea and oatmeal and free Wi-Fi. The rooms are small but the beds are perfectly comfy.  

31. Franklin

Downtown in Franklin, Tennessee, USA

WHERE TO STAY IN FRANKLIN : The Harpeth Hotel – This upscale property features a restaurant on-site, fitness center, bar, and terrace. If you don’t want to splash out, check for other options.

The United States is filled with too many “must-sees” places to visit to list in a single blog post. After all, the country is home to over 329 million people and covers 3.8 million square miles.

But for those looking for a starting point for where to go, what to see, and the places to visit, this list should point you in the right direction and fill your time!

Just be sure to turn off the highways, head to the small towns, and discover some favorites of your own. The best of the USA is always away from the major highways in the little no-name towns with little diners, quirky shops, and friendly people!

For more travel tips on traveling the USA, read these other blog posts:

  • How to Travel Across the USA on $50 A Day
  • 19 Amazing Restaurants from My Road-Trip Across the U.S.
  • 9 Things I Learned While Driving Across the U.S.
  • Detailed Travel Planning Guide on The United States

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner . It’s my favorite search engine because it searches websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is being left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation You can book your hostel with Hostelworld . If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

  • SafetyWing (best for everyone)
  • Insure My Trip (for those 70 and over)
  • Medjet (for additional evacuation coverage)

Want to Travel for Free? Travel credit cards allow you to earn points that can be redeemed for free flights and accommodation — all without any extra spending. Check out my guide to picking the right card and my current favorites to get started and see the latest best deals.

Need Help Finding Activities for Your Trip? Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace where you can find cool walking tours, fun excursions, skip-the-line tickets, private guides, and more.

Ready to Book Your Trip? Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.

Got a comment on this article? Join the conversation on Facebook , Instagram , or Twitter and share your thoughts!

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I recommend only products and companies I use and the income goes to keeping the site community supported and ad free.

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24 Best Places to Visit in the United States

Written by Lana Law Updated May 3, 2023

Author Lana Law has spent many years traveling to all corners of the United States.

With so much to see in this vast country, it can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to planning a trip in the United States. World-class cities , some known for history and others known for fun or glamour, give you a broad spectrum of places to choose from. The best places to visit in the United States may simply depend on your personal interests.

Yosemite National Park

Along the Eastern Seaboard , New York and Washington, D.C. offer two uniquely different city experiences. Along the West Coast , San Francisco and Los Angeles are both hot spots for tourists. In the Southwest , Las Vegas brings the desert to life, and the Grand Canyon shows off one of nature's greatest creations.

Beyond the mainland are the beaches of Waikiki and the tropical Hawaiian Islands , as well as Alaska. These are just a few key locations, but wonderful destinations for any type of traveler can be found all over the country.

Discover more of America with our list of the best places to visit in the United States.

1. New York

2. san francisco, 3. the grand canyon, 5. las vegas, 7. washington, d.c., 9. los angeles, 10. new orleans, 11. utah's national parks, 12. orlando/kissimmee, 13. chicago, 14. phoenix, 15. savannah, 17. yosemite national park, 18. colorado's rocky mountains, 19. seattle, 20. north carolina's outer banks, 21. santa fe, 22. san antonio, 23. yellowstone national park.

New York

New York City is like no other city in the world, and one that must be experienced to be fully appreciated.

For first-time visitors, walking the streets can be like walking through a movie set, with famous sites at every turn, from the Empire State Building , to Rockefeller Plaza , the Chrysler Building , Central Park , The High Line , Times Square , 5th Avenue , Broadway , and of course, the Statue of Liberty .

Sightsee by day, take in a Broadway show in the evening, work in time for shopping or a stroll, and relax and reminisce over a fantastic meal. This is New York. With too much to see and do in a day, a weekend, or even a week, this is a city worth visiting time and time again.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in New York City

San Francisco

This charming and picturesque West Coast city is the perfect getaway destination for couples, singles, or families. Famous sites, charming streets, beautiful views, and outdoor dining are all part of what makes San Francisco such a great place to visit.

Take a cruise on San Francisco Bay, tour Alcatraz , drive over the Golden Gate Bridge , wander around Fisherman's Wharf , hop on an historic street car, or try a do-it-yourself walking tour to explore the city sites.

Summer or fall is a wonderful time to visit, but the climate here is mild and any time of year is pleasant.

  • Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in San Francisco
  • Best Free Things to Do in San Francisco

The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is one of those must-see, bucket-list destinations that have been attracting visitors for generations. Gazing out over the canyon walls to an endless horizon and an unfathomable depth below is one of the highlights of any trip in the United States.

Visiting the Grand Canyon can easily be done on a day trip from Las Vegas or Phoenix , and from some smaller cities in the vicinity, including Sedona or Flagstaff . Another option is to incorporate a visit into a larger driving trip through Arizona and surrounding states. A train trip from Williams , AZ on the Grand Canyon Railway is another delightful way to experience the canyon.

The south rim of the Grand Canyon, which is the most popular and most visited section, is open all year, and visitors are welcome at any time of year. To avoid the crush of summer visitors, consider arriving in the spring or fall; the weather is good and the crowds smaller. The road to the north rim of the Grand Canyon is closed in winter due to snow.

  • Top Attractions & Things to See at the Grand Canyon
  • From Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon: Best Ways to Get There

Houston from Buffalo Bayou Park

Houston is the perfect city for a friends' getaway, a couples' retreat, or a family vacation. With direct flights from cities across the United States and Canada, you can easily fly in to see a sports game, wander through Houston's Museum District , lounge by a pool at one of the many luxury hotels, and spend your evenings enjoying incredible meals.

Houston has developed into a hot spot for dining in the United States and is now well known for extraordinary cuisine.

If you want a relaxed but outdoor urban experience, rent a bike and peddle your way through the miles of paved trails in the parks or on the downtown streets. Rent a kayak and paddle along Buffalo Bayou in Buffalo Bayou Park .

In less than an hour, you can be on the nearby beaches or exploring Galveston , and along the way, you can make a stop at Space Center Houston .

  • Read More: Top Attractions & Places to Visit in Houston

Las Vegas

This glittering city of lights in the desert holds a unique appeal, and one that has been attracting visitors for decades. Huge resort complexes, with all kinds of things to see and do at any time of year, have made this a destination that draws everyone, from want-to-be newlyweds who come here to say their vows, to families or singles who just want to hang out around a pool.

Entertainment options are extensive, with some of the music industry's top stars calling Las Vegas home and playing to packed audiences every night. Cirque du Soleil offers another unique experience, and of course, each resort has something to entertain guests, from dancing fountains to an erupting volcano.

When you've had your fill of the city, there is plenty to explore in the surrounding area , with the Grand Canyon , Hoover Dam , Death Valley National Park , and Valley of Fire State Park all within easy day-tripping distance. Las Vegas is ideal for a long weekend if you live in Los Angeles or Phoenix.

  • Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Las Vegas
  • Top-Rated Hiking Trails near Las Vegas, NV


Waikiki is one of America's top beaching destinations, with all the comforts of North America on a beautiful tropical island in the Pacific Ocean.

Located on the Hawaiian island of Oahu , Waikiki is a suburb of Honolulu known for the beautiful golden sand beach that stretches along the oceanfront, backed by hotels and retail establishments.

Rent a surfboard and test your skills in the waves, hit the shops when you're done with the beach, and enjoy great dining options in the evening. This is the perfect destination for everyone, from families to couples or singles.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things To Do in Waikiki

Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. is the US capitol and home to some of the most famous sites and national treasures in America, from the White House and the Capitol Building to the Smithsonian museums. This city should be on everyone's itinerary of the East Coast .

In the spring, the Cherry Blossom Festival is a beautiful time to visit, when the trees are in full bloom. Summer can be hot. You may want to hit one of the beaches near Washington for a bit of a cool off.

Fall is also a good time to visit, when the hot summer temperatures have cooled off enough to make walking around outside very comfortable and the rush of the busy summer season has passed. In winter, the crowds are definitely smaller, and the city is stunning after a fresh snowfall.

  • Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Washington, DC
  • Top-Rated Day Trips from Washington, D.C.


The hot spot of southern Florida, Miami is more than just a great beaching destination. Wonderful beaches can be found all over Florida , but Miami offers an atmosphere like no other city in the state.

The Cuban vibe along Calle Ocho in Little Havana , the Art Deco District in Miami Beach that calls to mind the 1930s era, the endless parade of sports cars cruising along Ocean Drive in the evenings, and the summertime beach scene of South Beach , are just some of the unique aspects that make Miami one of the best cities in the US.

For a unique experience take a day trip from Miami to Everglades National Park to see alligators, turtles, and an array of birds in this one-of-a-kind wetlands area.

Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Miami

Los Angeles

Southern California has a culture all of its own, and Los Angeles is the epicenter of this unique area. The city has always been associated with glamour, with the suburbs of Hollywood , Beverly Hills , and Bel Air dominating pop culture. Travelers will find all kinds of vacation possibilities in the Los Angeles area.

Hollywood is a must for movie lovers, families come to experience nearby Disneyland , and shoppers will definitely find what they're looking for in the Los Angeles area .

If you are looking for a little sand and surf, head to one of the many beaches around LA . For an interesting natural history experience, be sure to visit La Brea Tar Pits to see fossil remains of prehistoric animals that roamed this area 40,000 years ago.

  • Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Los Angeles
  • Best Free Things to Do in Los Angeles, CA

Jackson Square, New Orleans

New Orleans is like no other southern city. The mix of cultures, with strong French and Spanish influences, is more reminiscent of the Caribbean than the United States. Cajun and Creole cuisine, jazz music, and the architecture of the French Quarter set this city apart.

Combined with an assortment of luxury resorts and hotels, New Orleans makes a perfect destination for a long weekend getaway .

The highlight of New Orleans' calendar year is Mardi Gras , when elaborate costumes and outrageous floats light up the streets, music can be heard everywhere, and the celebrations seem never-ending. However, if crowds are not your thing, you may want to avoid this time of year.

New Orleans

The best time to visit New Orleans is from December to May, but other seasons offer different benefits. June to November is hotter and prone to storms and hurricanes but is a good time to find deals.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in New Orleans

Arches National Park

Southern Utah is home to a landscape like no other, with canyons, arches, natural amphitheaters, and oddly beautiful rock formations. Fortunately, Utah's parks offer access to the state's most incredible scenery.

Zion National Park is one of the most outstanding, and particularly of interest for its hiking trails . Soaring cliff walls, waterfalls, and the river running through the valley, making this one of the most visited parks in the United States .

Zion National Park

Arches National Park , near the town of Moab, is home to more than 2,000 sandstone arches, but is much more than the name suggests. Rock spires, petrified dunes, views to distant mountain peaks, and the numerous adventure opportunities in the area , make this a place you'll want to spend some time. It's also a top mountain biking destination in the United States .

Nearby, but completely different in character, is Canyonlands National Park . Some sections of this park are as enchanting as the Grand Canyon but not nearly as busy. Plan on at least a day to see two separate sections of the park, and more if you want to enjoy the hiking trails.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park offers a completely different scene, with a huge natural amphitheater providing the base for a forest of colorful rock pinnacles. The hiking trails in Bryce , which take you through this mystical landscape, are mostly easy to moderate and worth doing. And lastly, Capitol Reef National Park is a little out of the way but is worth a stop if you can work it into your itinerary.

  • Top-Rated National and State Parks in Utah
  • Best Campgrounds Near Capitol Reef National Park


Orlando, which for most tourists is synonymous with Kissimmee, is all about the theme parks; Walt Disney World Resort , Universal Studios , and SeaWorld are the big attractions . This is one of the best vacation spots in the US for families . Kids love it. But adults will also enjoy the parks, as well as the shopping, dining, golfing, and sunshine.

School holidays are the busiest time to visit. Christmas and summer holidays are particularly hectic. Fortunately, Orlando is primed for tourists, with all kinds of hotels and home rentals available in the area.

The city is located inland but within easy day-tripping distance of both coasts and the popular Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral on the Atlantic Coast

  • Read More: Top-Rated Beaches near Orlando, FL


Set on the shores of Lake Michigan, Chicago is a great summer destination, with parks and a beautiful waterfront with amazing beaches . But its arts and cultural attractions, as well as fantastic shopping, make it a popular year-round destination.

The Magnificent Mile , along Michigan Avenue, is the city's most famous area, with high-end luxury stores and galleries, along with famous buildings and outstanding architecture. Some of the tourist highlights include Millennium Park , the Art Institute of Chicago , Navy Pier , and the views from the Willis Tower SkyDeck .

  • Read More: Top-Rated Attractions in Chicago


In the heart of the Southwestern US , Phoenix is a huge, sprawling city that attracts large numbers of northerners during the winter months, who come here to escape the cold weather. Phoenix is a great destination for golfing, shopping, relaxing, and generally having a good time.

The greater Phoenix area has some of the finest resorts in the state. They range from giant family-friendly complexes with beaches and waterslides to small, intimate operations where your every whim is indulged.

You may want to pack your golf clubs. The city and surroundings, which include Scottsdale , Mesa , and several other townships, are known in particular for their world-class golf resorts, some of the most important stops on the men's and women's PGA Tour.

A family hiking in Papago Park, Phoenix

If you have extra room in your suitcase, maybe squeeze in your hiking boots, too. Natural areas that showcase the desert landscape can be found within the city and nearby, providing easy access for hiking , and mountain biking. Summer temperatures can be extremely high, but October to April is very pleasant, especially if you want to spend time outdoors.

  • Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Phoenix
  • Top-Rated Campground in the Phoenix Area


Savannah is the quintessential small southern city, with huge moss-covered trees in the beautiful parks, old southern mansions, and a lovely waterfront area with candy stores and other unique shops in historic buildings. The pace is slow, and the people are friendly.

It's easy to see that Savannah is a city where people live and enjoy life, rather than an area simply developed for tourism. The city center is small enough that you can walk everywhere. This is a city you can see in a day, but the kind of place where you will want to linger.

Nearby are some beautiful beaches at Tybee Island and Hilton Head Island , both of which can be reached by car in well under an hour.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Savannah


Located along the Eastern Seaboard, Boston is a city of history. The famous Freedom Trail leads past some of the city's most famous and historic sites, making sightseeing and navigating through the city extremely easy.

Picturesquely situated along the oceanfront, with ferries connecting the outer suburbs, Boston has a unique charm. Modern skyscrapers stand next to centuries-old buildings, and open public spaces , like Boston Common , give the city a quaint, small-town feel. The city also has a strong arts and cultural scene, and is home to the famous Boston Pops Orchestra .

Boston's winters are legendary. Nor'easters roar ashore every now and again, dumping copious quantities of snow. However, that doesn't stop these hardy residents from enjoying life. The list of things to do in winter is long, and this is still a great time of year for a visit.

  • Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Boston
  • Top-Rated Beaches in the Boston Area

Yosemite National Park

While the Grand Canyon is on most international travelers' itineraries, Yosemite is a national treasure that should not be missed. Yosemite Valley is home to some of America's most famous landscapes and iconic natural attractions, from the dramatic waterfalls to the soaring cliff walls of El Capitan and Half Dome .

The captivating photographs of Ansel Adams , the climbing community that has flocked here for decades, and the generations of families who have been coming to the park to enjoy the campgrounds , hike the spectacular trails , and soak up the scenery have all contributed to the park's history.

But long before this, the Miwok people inhabited the area. You can learn more about this at the Yosemite Museum and Indian Village of the Ahwahnee in the park.

Read More: Top Attractions & Things to Do in Yosemite National Park

Rocky Mountains in Colorado

The dramatic peaks of the Rocky Mountains can be appreciated in many areas of North America, but in Colorado, the climate and small mountain towns make this one of the best places to visit the Rockies. Waterfalls and snow-capped peaks, more than 50 of which reach a height of 14,000 feet or more, make this a beautiful area for sightseeing and appreciating mountain life.

In summer, hiking , mountain biking , and rafting are popular pastimes. Inn winter, the mountains become a playground for skiers and boarders. The ski resorts in Colorado are some of the best in North America.

Some of the best places to visit are the towns of Vail, Aspen , Telluride , and Durango . Scenic drives, like the San Juan Scenic Byway and the Million Dollar Highway , which leaves from Durango, will take you through breathtaking mountain scenery and old mining towns like Silverton and Ouray . Or, hop on the Silverton & Durango Narrow Gauge Railroad for a relaxing day trip through the Rockies.

On the edge of the Rocky Mountains in the southwest corner of Colorado, a little over an hour from Durango, is Mesa Verde National Park . This fantastic park is home to incredible Native American cliff dwellings, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Attractions & Places to Visit in Colorado, USA


In the northwest corner of the US is the lovely coastal city of Seattle. Surrounded by water and snow-capped mountains, the city is reminiscent of Vancouver, Canada, with an active, outdoor oriented population and countless things to see and do .

Key sights in the city include the impossible-to-miss Space Needle , the lively Pike Place Market , and the waterfront. Within easy day-tripping distance of the city are beautiful beaches , the Hoh Rain Forest , and mountain landscapes, all waiting to be explored.

Although the winter months see more rain than summer, the city has a mild climate and is a nice place to visit at any time of year. You'll find no shortage of things to do in Seattle in winter .

  • Best Museums in Seattle
  • Top-Rated Hikes near Seattle, WA

Nags Head, Outer Banks

North Carolina's Outer Banks are all about beaches. Miles and miles of spectacular beaches on narrow sand islands have been drawing people from across the United States since the 1830s.

Stretching for over 100 miles, these barrier islands have been the go-to place for families every summer for generations whether at campgrounds or wonderful resorts.

Off the beach, historical cities well worth visiting include Nags Head, Kitty Hawk (home to the Wright Brothers Memorial), Duck, Waves, and the towns on Hatteras Island. The Outer Banks are also home to some of America's most famous lighthouses, many of which are open for tours to the top.

Another popular pursuit is deep sea fishing . Many records have been broken by anglers in this offshore hot spot.

Read More: Best Coastal Towns in North Carolina

Santa Fe, New Mexico

A melting pot of Spanish, Native American, Mexican, and Anglo-Americans, Santa Fe has a unique vibe that, once experienced, tends to draw one back time and time again. This historical city's pleasant streets, lined by Spanish colonial churches, adobe homes, and towering trees, just beg to be photographed.

Be sure to visit the Plaza, the beating heart of all that's going on in town. Cute cafés, many with patios, line the square and make a perfect perch to do a bit of people watching. After you've had your fill of that, wander into any one of the eclectic and unusual shops nearby.

Santa Fe is ideally positioned close to the mountains, where you'll find some of the best skiing in New Mexico at resorts including Taos, Pajarito, and Siapu.

Read More: Best Places to Visit in New Mexico

River Walk in San Antonio

Although Dallas and Houston spring to mind first for many people when they think of Texas , those in the know, will always tell you that San Antonio is their favorite. The reasons for this are many: beautiful Spanish colonial churches and missions, the wonderful Riverwalk area, and, of course, The Alamo.

The city is relatively compact and easy to navigate. For a city of its size, it also has a number of excellent resorts and high-end hotels just waiting for you to check-in and be pampered. The city isn't all about history; it's also the home of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), and as a result is a hotbed of foodie delights. Be sure to wander over to the Pearl district to find some of the best places; your taste buds will thank you!

Read More: Top Attractions & Places to Visit in San Antonio

Morning Glory Pool in Yellowstone National Park

The thermal wonderland known as Yellowstone National Park has been drawing visitors since 1872. Bubbling mud pots, colorful boiling-hot water pools, and erupting geysers are sights that continue to amaze thousands of people every day.

Some of the must-sees when visiting the park include Old Faithful, whose eruptions blast scalding water up to 184 feet in the air; the Morning Glory Pool in the Upper Geyser Basin area; and the Minerva Terrace.

The park isn't all about thermal sights — the Lamar Valley is a wonderful area for hiking and seeing wildlife, including the park's signature bison herds.

Read More: Best Campgrounds in Yellowstone National Park

Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska

Off on its own in the far northwest, above Canada, lies one of the most fascinating states in the union. Snow-capped peaks, glaciers, wild rivers, and wide open spaces are all things that define Alaska .

A frontier attitude still prevails, and can be experienced in places like Anchorage , Fairbanks, and Juneau . This state is one of the most popular places to take a cruise along the Inside Passage where towering mountains reach right down to sea. Or, snuggle up to a roaring fireplace with your special someone at a luxury resort.

Pick your activity or sport; Alaska is a place for doing things outdoors, whether it's camping, mountaineering, canoeing, or fishing. In winter, head for Alaska's ski resorts or maybe catch a glimpse of the northern lights .

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Best Places to Visit in Winter: If you want to experience winter in all its glory, have a read through our article on the Best Winter Vacations in the United States . This isn't about beaches and warm weather getaways, it's for people thinking about snowmobiling, dog sledding, skiing, and drinking hot chocolate in a cozy cottage. And if you're looking to save a little money, see our list of the Best Cheap Ski Holidays in North America .


Getaways for Couples & Families: Trying to come up with somewhere for you and your partner to take a quick trip? See our list of Best Vacation Spots in the US for Couples to find a romantic destination for two. If you're looking for a destination where you can take the kids and have a good time, you'll enjoy our article on the Top Family Vacations in the US .

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The 50 Most Beautiful Places in the U.S.

From magical deserts to gorgeous beaches, these are the most beautiful places in each state.

Anne Olivia Bauso is a travel writer and hotel expert based in New York City. She has written hundreds of hotel reviews, from 5-star Ritz-Carlton properties to treehouse eco-resorts in the jungle.

best places to visit the usa

The U.S. has an abundance of natural beauty, with diverse landscapes ranging from desert mesas to wooded river valleys and whisper-thin barrier islands to lush and steamy tropics. The scenery along Florida's palm-studded coast is much different than you would see in California's rugged Sierra Nevadas or the fiery canyonlands of the Southwest.

The natural beauty found across the 50 states is so vast and staggering, it's practically impossible to make sense of — though you can't say we didn't try. Here, our totally subjective, state-by-state list of the most beautiful places in the U.S.

Alabama: Magnolia Springs

Mail is delivered by boat — the last year-round river mail delivery in the country — in this small coastal village along the Magnolia River. Dating to the late 1700s, the town is named for its natural assets: gushing springs and a shady canopy of magnolia trees.

Alaska: Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve

Few states seize the popular imagination like Alaska. And at 13 million acres, Wrangell-St. Elias, the largest national park in the U.S., encompasses the overwhelming beauty of the far north. Hiking here leads you through a boreal forest, along glittering glaciers (the Root Glacier Trail goes right on the icy mass; crampons recommended), and up to ridges for breathtaking mountain views — this park contains some of the highest peaks in the country.

Arizona: Grand Canyon National Park

Don Eim/Travel + Leisure

The most beautiful place in Arizona has to be the Grand Canyon. Though outrageous natural beauty is found in every corner of the state, from the enchanting Emerald Cove to the sacred Canyon de Chelly, nothing quite compares to the majesty of Arizona's flagship feature.

Within this natural wonder of the world, Havasu Falls (aka Havasupai Falls) contrasts the red rock with its seemingly impossibly turquoise water, while the circular arc of the Colorado River at Horseshoe Bend is not to be missed.

Arkansas: Ozark-St. Francis National Forests

Dominating northwestern Arkansas, the Ozark-St. Francis is an all-season haven rich in things to do. Its ferny oak-hickory woods are dotted with caverns (the tour-friendly Blanchard Springs Caverns has an underground river), grottoes, swimming beaches, campsites, and horseback and ATV trails. Whitaker Point and Sam's Throne are favorites with hikers and rock climbers.

California: Yosemite National Park

Vince Fergus/Travel + Leisure

The nation's third-oldest park has major status with the National Park System, UNESCO, and traveler wish lists around the world. The alpine wonderland draws millions of annual visitors to see its high-country Sierra Nevada beauty, marked by granite domes, towering sequoias, and sheer-drop waterfalls.

Hike or drive up to Glacier Point to behold Yosemite Valley from 7,000 feet; the million-dollar panorama includes Yosemite Falls and the famous Half Dome, which is staggeringly close and rises almost 4,800 feet from the valley floor at a practically vertical pitch.

Colorado: Garden of the Gods

Anyone with even a passing interest in geology or photography, or just knockout natural splendor in general, might find themselves speechless at the sight of Garden of the Gods. Two tips: aim to visit the lofty sandstone formations on a weekday morning to avoid the crowds, and take the Siamese Twins loop for a view of snowy Pikes Peak (inspiration for "America the Beautiful") set in a frame of red rocks.

Connecticut: Connecticut Shore

If you close your eyes and try to imagine the ideal seaside town in New England , your vision is probably not too far off from Old Lyme, Mystic, Old Saybrook, and other coastal Connecticut villages. The small towns strung along the Long Island Sound combine quiet coastal beauty and gobs of old-timey charm (think picture-perfect inns and cozy taverns).

Delaware: Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge

You don't have to be an avid birder to treasure this nature preserve. One of the largest surviving tidal salt marshes in the region, it's the boggy domain of bald eagles, snowy egrets, great blue herons, and other wildlife.

Florida: Everglades National Park

Stephanie Pollak/Travel + Leisure

A UNESCO World Heritage site and International Biosphere Reserve, this watery 1.5 million-acre wilderness is home to extraordinary flora and fauna, including American crocodiles, manatees, otters, and wading birds. To see it, join an airboat tour, paddle the mangroves in a canoe or kayak, bike the popular Shark Valley Tram Road, or set out on the flat Anhinga Trail through a seagrass marsh.

Georgia: Cumberland Island

It's hard to imagine a place better suited to peace seekers, bird-watchers, and even history fans than car-free Cumberland Island. Development on the Georgia barrier island is limited to the stately Greyfield Inn , and the rest of the some 36,000 acres are wild, including almost 10,000 acres of protected nature. When you're not strolling the driftwood-strewn beaches, you can kayak the quiet waterways and stop by the Gilded Age-era Dungeness ruins.

Hawaii: Nāpali Coast

The Earth's wrinkles are on spectacular display along Kauai's Nāpali Coast, where sheer, fluted sea cliffs (pali) plummet into the Pacific. The only land access is the strenuous 11-mile Kalalau Trail, which follows the jagged, jade-colored coast's gulches and valleys. The first two miles are a popular day hike; beyond that, a permit is required. This is considered one of the country's most dangerous treks, though helicopter tours are another way to see the exquisite terrain.

Idaho: Sawtooth National Forest

Four mountain ranges and four major rivers collide in Sawtooth National Forest, a 2.1 million-acre great-outdoors paradise whose landscape has remained virtually unchanged since Lewis and Clark explored it in 1805. The forest is home to dozens of 10,000-plus-foot peaks, hundreds of sparkling alpine lakes, and more than 3,000 miles of gushing streams, as well as grassy meadows, sagebrush flats, and pine and aspen woods. Manners of exploration are as vast as the land itself and include backpacking, rafting, skiing, and mountain climbing.

Illinois: Cache River State Natural Area

You might think you're deep in a Louisiana bayou in this bald cypress and tupelo swamp, the northernmost of its kind in the U.S. Explore acres of wetlands by kayak, canoe, or foot via the park's trails and boardwalks. Some of the cypresses you'll see are more than 1,000 years old, with flared bases that exceed 40 feet around.

Indiana: Hemlock Cliffs

For the uninitiated, Indiana is full of surprises. It has the covered bridges and country lanes of Vermont, the sand dunes and lakeshore of Michigan, and fall foliage that could be taken for the Smokies. This box canyon within Hoosier National Forest is a terrific ravine- and waterfall-filled place that you probably wouldn't associate with the heartland.

Iowa: Maquoketa Caves State Park

Avid explorers will be in their element at Maquoketa Caves State Park, where bluffs, miles of trails, and more than a dozen limestone caves await investigation. Some of the caves, such as the 1,100-foot Dancehall, can be walked through upright, while others require serious spelunking. Either way, bring a headlamp.

Kansas: Castle Rock Badlands

This quirky site is off the beaten path — literally. Located on private ranchland accessed by four-wheel drive-demanding dirt roads, Castle Rock is a relic of an inland sea that once covered this part of the continent. The fragile, fossil-rich limestone pinnacles provide a near-shocking change of scenery from the prairie Kansas is known for.

Kentucky: Mammoth Cave

The longest known cave system on the planet is found below the wild hills of south-central Kentucky. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a vast (as in still-being-mapped vast) limestone network of cool caverns, cathedral-like rotundas, and tiny crawl spaces. Lest you think a Mammoth Cave adventure is all below ground, the lushly forested park above it offers hiking and horseback riding, plus canoeing and kayaking on its two rivers.

Louisiana: Wild Azalea Trail

Bar-crawling in Louisiana may come to mind before forest hiking, but the 31-mile-long Wild Azalea Trail showcases some of the state's best scenery: think pine trees, clear creeks, gentle hills, and maybe even wild horses. Time your trek to March or April to see the namesake pale pink flowers blanketing the countryside.

Maine: Acadia National Park

With its rocky shores, crashing surf, and coastal mountain hiking trails, Acadia National Park wins the top spot on Maine's most beautiful places list. Drive to the Cadillac Mountain summit before dawn for the first glimpse of sunrise in the U.S. (from October to March, that is).

Maryland: Weverton Cliffs

Along the famed Appalachian Trail, Weverton Cliffs is a roughly two-mile switchback hike in South Mountain State Park. The reward for your effort? Views from 500 feet above the Potomac that include neighboring Virginia and West Virginia.

Massachusetts: Cape Cod National Seashore

This delicate stretch of federally protected land is rich in natural appeal. It contains marshes, woodlands, wild cranberry bogs, windswept dunes, walking paths, and miles of sandy beaches. This is one of the last remaining blocks of Atlantic coastal pine barrens, a now-rare forest ecosystem teeming with animals and birdlife.

Michigan: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Out-of-staters might not equate Michigan with sandy beaches and striking sand dunes, but both are found along the state's largely coastal boundaries — most notably on the 35 miles of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. This carved-by-glaciers shoreline is home to a beech-maple forest, scenic hiking and driving, and the immense namesake dunes rising high above Lake Michigan.

Minnesota: North Shore Scenic Drive

The North Shore is a road-tripper's daydream. Many Minnesotans and Midwesterners drive the Lake Superior-adjacent route time and time again, hitting the four-tiered Gooseberry Falls, the precariously perched Split Rock Lighthouse, and the tallest waterfall in the state, High Falls (shared by the U.S. and Canada). And don't miss World's Best Donuts , a very important stop for cinnamon-sugar donuts and deep-fried "skizzles."

Mississippi: Natchez Trace Parkway

Beauty and blacktop meet on the Natchez Trace, a 444-mile drive that crosses Mississippi like a pageant sash, following a Native American foot trail that goes back millennia. Instead of billboards and interstate exit signs, you'll cruise past cypress swamps and meadows edged by black-eyed Susans and log fences, with lots of opportunities to pull over for picnics and nature walks.

Missouri: Ozark National Scenic Riverways

The spring-fed Current and Jacks Fork rivers anchor this protected pocket of the Ozarks. Swim, canoe, and fish in its crystal-clear waters and explore the area's caves (more than 300 have been discovered so far, some only accessible by boat), trails, natural springs, and historic mills.

Montana: Going-to-the-Sun Road

Take the ride of your life on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, a 50-mile route that climbs above the clouds in Glacier National Park. Looking out the window takes a bit of bravery because of the steep drops, but your prize is jaw-dropping views of alpine valleys, flowing rivers, and fields of wildflowers far below the surrounding peaks and ridgelines. The road crosses the Continental Divide at Logan Pass (elevation: 6,646 feet), where you can get out and hike the Hidden Lake and Highline trails.

Nebraska: Toadstool Geologic Park

Nebraska's native prairie is thrown into splendid relief at Toadstool, a tract of unusual wind- and water-carved rock formations and vast fossil beds in the Oglala National Grassland. Some rock layers contain tracks of animals long vanished from this part of the world, like rhinos and camels.

Nevada: Red Rock Canyon

Only about 30 minutes from the LED skyline of Las Vegas is Red Rock Canyon, named for its giant cliffs and craggy jumbles of yellow and red sandstone. The hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, and scenic driving on offer here are a pretty amazing contrast to the gaming, buffet feasts, and pool parties that define a typical Sin City getaway.

New Hampshire: Kancamagus Highway

Kancamagus Scenic Byway ("the Kanc") may just be New England's prettiest drive. Connecting the small towns of Lincoln and Conway, it meanders by the rocky gorges, waterfalls, swimming holes, campgrounds, and trailheads of White Mountain National Forest. Fall is a lovely time to make the journey, when the foliage colors and moose sightings are at their peak. Just be sure to pack snacks and fuel up — there are no gas stations or businesses for some 30 miles.

New Jersey: Cape May

Cape May's main claim to fame may be its late Victorian-era houses and hotels — some 600 structures in all — but this seaside resort town has non-architectural virtues as well. There are wineries, gardens, biodiverse wetlands, and, of course, end-of-peninsula beaches. Head to west-facing Sunset Beach at twilight for an amazing natural show over Delaware Bay.

New Mexico: Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness

Millions of years of erosion have created this sci-fi, fantasy-like display of pinnacles, spires, and other weirdly wonderful bodies of weathered rock. This high-desert wilderness (read: no marked trails) is essentially the geologic record of a prehistoric coastal swamp where dinosaurs once roamed.

New York: Finger Lakes

Glacial force shaped this beautiful upstate landscape, leaving behind 11 long, skinny, finger-like lakes in its wake. The region is heaven in the summer, when visitors can choose between waterfall hiking (Watkins Glen and Shequaga Falls are popular stops), endless lake activities, and more wineries, vineyards, and breweries than you can shake a stick at.

North Carolina: Outer Banks

This remote stretch of North Carolina coastline has drawn pirates, colonists, and early aviators. Now, it's the realm of beach lovers looking for peace, quiet, white sand, and salty air. Add in the barrier islands' wild dunes (including the East Coast's largest), incredible Outer Banks campgrounds , and multiuse paths — it's actually possible to bike the entire 100-plus-mile length of the region — and you've got a region set for quaint coastal exploration.

North Dakota: Maah Daah Hey Trail

Hike, bike, or hop on a horse and ride through the remote scenery for which North Dakota is known. This 144-mile system is made up of nine sections with various lengths, difficulty ratings, and backdrops, from grassy prairies to dizzying badland buttes. It's a timeless American landscape, and the trail is aptly named for the Mandan phrase: "an area that will be around for a long time."

Ohio: Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

You can pretend you're in Victorian London in the Crystal Palace-evoking glass greenhouse that is the cornerstone of this botanical landmark. Its biomes and gardens might transport you to the desert, rain forest, and even the Himalayas.

Oklahoma: Joseph H. Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve

Native grasslands, the ecosystem perhaps most powerfully entwined with our national identity, are on the decline. This protected preserve is the largest sweep of tallgrass prairie in the world. Here, you can see the American plains as they looked centuries ago, with herds of bison (about 2,200 of the shaggy-haired beasts roam freely) and swaths of purple prairie clover.

Oregon: Crater Lake

Crater Lake is evidence of the tectonic activity that's eternally shaping the planet. A long-ago eruption formed a giant caldera, which filled with rain and snow over time. The gradual result is a deep lake (the deepest in the country, in fact) with intense blue waters and fantastic clarity. Crater Lake's mountain setting atop the Cascade Range makes it even more hypnotic.

Pennsylvania: Appalachian National Scenic Trail at the Delaware Water Gap

The famous Delaware Water Gap area spans 70,000 acres of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, yet its namesake point is where the river carves through the rugged Kittatinny Mountain. See the Gap from Appalachian National Scenic Trail (the AT, to in-the-know hikers), which offers a clear view from Mount Minsi.

Rhode Island: Block Island

Fieldstone walls hemming in emerald-green fields, Victorian buildings, and dramatic cliffs lashed by the Atlantic define Block Island. You could be forgiven for thinking you've been dropped on a distant British shore. Mosey around the island by bike or moped, visit the two lighthouses, and pop into a classic New England eatery — we like Block Island Oyster Bar and Grill for lobster bisque and daily-harvested oysters.

South Carolina: Hilton Head Island Bike Trails

Wide beaches may be a big draw, but Hilton Head locals and vacationers alike praise the island's bike trail system for low-key cruising (and for bypassing road traffic, which can be intense). The 64-mile, well-maintained network is easy to navigate and takes you to some of Hilton Head Island's best spots, like Sea Pines Forest Preserve. A bike ride is especially lovely in the late afternoon, as the sun begins to set over the marshes.

South Dakota: Badlands National Park

Between the steep buttes, crystal-lined caves, granite spires, prairies, and ponderosa pine forests, speculating the most beautiful South Dakota place is hopeless. But the fossil-packed landscape of Badlands National Park must come close. Here, meadows meet whimsically eroded canyons and vibrant, layered hills. Drive Badlands Loop Road (Highway 240) and the perimeter route around the South Unit. Bonus points if you time your visit to the south-facing Pinnacles Overlook for sunset.

Tennessee: Cherokee National Forest

Lovers of the outdoors have their work cut out for them in Tennessee, especially its eastern edge. The 650,000-acre Cherokee National Forest has something for adventurers of every sort, whether you're looking to tackle a section of the Appalachian Trail or other backcountry treks, whitewater raft down Pigeon River, pitch a tent next to Watauga Lake, or witness the dazzling rhododendron summer bloom in the Roan Highlands.

Texas: Guadalupe Mountains

These mountains in windswept West Texas are the exposed tips of the 400-mile Capitan Reef, one of the best-preserved ancient reef systems in the world. Explore more than 80 miles of hiking trails, ranging from easy nature walks through the Chihuahuan Desert to hardcore hikes to the "top of Texas" (a.k.a. Guadalupe Peak, the state's highest point).

Utah: Arches National Park

We'll confess to paralysis by indecision here, such is the vast choice on offer (see: Grand Staircase-Escalante, Monument Valley, Bryce and Big Cottonwood canyons). Yet surreal Arches National Park gets the nod. Its natural sandstone arches, tall cliffs, and honeycomb rocks are like a 65-million-year chronicle of our planet. The scenery will leave you breathless — as will a stamina-requiring Fiery Furnace hike (ranger guidance or individual permit required).

Vermont: Mad River Valley

In the 1950s, the snowy ski resorts of Mad River Valley pulled the likes of the Kennedys and Hollywood VIPs. Its creviced mountains and charming small towns still make it a prime destination for all manner of outdoor and simple-pleasure pursuits, like hiking, maple syrup- and cheese-tasting, shopping for crafts, and seeking local swimming holes, to name a few. Even just cruising Route 100 is a delight.

Virginia: Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway's "America's Favorite Drive" tagline isn't just a stroke of marketing genius. The 469-mile drive (shared by Virginia and North Carolina) takes you through some of the most stunning scenery in the southeastern U.S. One example? Natural Bridge, a 215-foot-tall "overpass" spanning 90 feet to connect solid limestone cliffs. Don't forget good hiking shoes and your phone charger because there are hundreds of trails and photo ops.

Washington: Hurricane Ridge

This mountainous area within Olympic National Park packs the best features of Washington state into one enchantingly alpine package: snowy peaks, glassy lakes, grazing black-tailed deer in steep meadows, and thick evergreen forests.

West Virginia: New River Gorge National Park and Preserve

A highlight of West Virginia is the seemingly endless reserve of spectacular river ravines and mountain views. New River Gorge gets a special mention for its iconic bridge. With a 3,030-foot steel span that's nearly 90 stories high, it will make your heart skip a beat.

Wisconsin: Apostle Islands

There's so much to explore on the 20-plus islands that make up this archipelago. Hike through the wilderness, hop in a kayak, scuba dive to shipwrecks and underwater sea caves (Lake Superior really does look and feel more like an ocean), and explore the lighthouses.

Wyoming: Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Even in a state that's wall-to-wall with magnificent scenery, this site is a high point. The deep river gorge is a rumbling mass of natural beauty, with roaming wildlife (bison, elk, and even a grizzly crossing may make traffic come to a standstill), plunging waterfalls, and canyon walls made colorful by iron compounds.

Ultimate USA Travel Bucket List: 125+ Best Places to Visit in USA

The United States is a large country so even those of us that live here have many bucket list places in the US that we have yet to visit.  Whether you live in the US and want to explore more of this amazing country or visiting the US for the first time and need help planning your trip, I’ve created this epic guide containing more than 125 incredible things to see and do in the United States which are perfect for any USA Travel Bucket List .

Some of these must see places I have already visited and recommend and the rest are places that look so beautiful or sound so interesting that I have added them to my personal America travel bucket list. So read on if you are looking for inspiration and ideas for your own US travel bucket list.

USA Travel Bucket List

USA Travel Bucket List

Alaska Bucket List

  • Explore Denali National Park .
  • See Mendenhall Glacier , a 13-mile long glacier near Juneau.

Arizona Bucket List

  • Take photos at Antelope Canyon. This sandstone slot canyon is made up of two sections (Upper and Lower) and is one of the most instagrammable places in the United States. Antelope Canyon is located on Navajo protected land and is only accessible via guided tours. Click here for more information about tours.

Antelope Canyon is a must on any USA Travel Bucket List

  • See Horseshoe Bend , the beautiful natural horseshoe-shaped curve in the Colorado River.  This picture perfect view only requires an easy short 3/4 mile hike each way.

Horseshoe Bend American Bucket List Challenge

  • Visit the Grand Canyon National Park . The famous Grand Canyon is at the top of most American bucket lists. There are many ways to visit the Grand Canyon including hiking, bike tours, mule rides, by helicopter or by small plane .
  • Hike to the Wave. Getting a hiking permit is very difficult since only 20 people are allowed each day.  Find out more about how to get a permit and other logistics in this guide to Coyote Buttes North (home to the Wave) here .
  • See White Pocket. This lesser known remote natural wonder is a great alternative if you cannot get a permit to the Wave. You need a 4 wheel drive high clearance vehicle or else it is best to book a tour.
  • Visit the Arizona desert town of Sedona.
  • Visit the city of Flagstaff, surrounded by mountains, desert and pine forests. It is a gateway to the San Francisco Peaks which is  home to Arizona’s tallest mountain (Humphreys Peak).
  • Visit the Painted Desert , famous for its striking bands of colors.
  • Visit the Petrified Forest National Park.

Arkansas Bucket List

  • Hunt for diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park . This state park is one of the only places in the world where the public can search for real diamonds – anything you find is yours to keep!

California Bucket List

  • Explore San Francisco . Walking across the Golden Gate Bridge and visiting Alcatraz are at the top of my San Francisco bucket list. Read: 2 Days in San Francisco: The Perfect Itinerary (As Written By a Local!)

Golden Gate Bridge is one of the best places to visit in the USA

  • Go wine tasting at Napa Valley and Sonoma in Northern California.
  • Visit Los Angeles. There are a lot of bucket list things to do in and around LA including hiking to the Hollywood sign, shopping on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and visiting the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Sunset Boulevard, Griffith Observatory, Santa Monica and Venice Beach. Read: 3 Days in Los Angeles: The Perfect Itinerary
  • Have fun at Disneyland.
  • Explore Joshua Tree National Park.

Joshua Tree is one of top California bucket list destinations

  • Visit Palm Springs.
  • Enjoy sunny San Diego.
  • Explore Solvang, a charming historic Danish village.
  • Explore Yosemite National Park.
  • Visit The Sequoia & Kings Canyon national parks. These adjacent parks are home to the world’s largest trees.
  • See giant California redwoods at Redwood National Park .
  • Visit Lake Tahoe. Read:   2 Days in Lake Tahoe Summer Itinerary
  • Explore Death Valley National Park.
  • Take a Pacific Coast Highway road trip along the coast of California which is without a doubt one of the best road trips in the USA . In addition to San Francisco and Los Angeles, some of the best stops along the way include Big Sur, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz, San Simeon, Malibu, Santa Monica, Santa Barbara, Newport Beach and Laguna Beach.

Read: California Bucket List: 30 Best Places to Visit in California for more bucket list worthy places to visit in California

Colorado Bucket List

  • Visit Denver .
  • Explore Rocky Mountain National Park. You can visit on a day trip from Denver .
  • Visit the Garden of the Gods , a free park full of red rock formations with great hiking.
  • Drive to the top of Pikes Peak .
  • See Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park . Several scenic drives in the park offer great views with relatively easy access.
  • Visit the Maroon Bells, a reflective lake and two giant snow-striped mountaintops and most photographed place in Colorado.
  • See the highest sand dunes in North America at Great Sand Dunes National Park .
  • See Pueblo cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park .

Connecticut Bucket List

  • Visit the charming town of Mystic .

Florida Bucket List

  • Visit Miami. Highlights include Miami Beach, Wynwood Walls and the Little Havana neighborhood. One of the busiest time to visit other than spring break is during Art Basel in December.
  • See wildlife at Everglades National Park, the largest designated sub-tropical wilderness reserve on the North American continent.
  • Drive from Miami to the Florida Keys on the scenic Overseas Highway (one of the best American road trips ). Read: Weekend in Key West: The Perfect 3 Day Itinerary
  • Have fun at Walt Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando.
  • Swim with manatees in Crystal River. You can visit on a day trip from Orlando .
  • Visit St. Augustine, the oldest city in the United States.  Read: Weekend in St. Augustine: Perfect 2 or 3 Day Itinerary

Read: Florida Bucket List

Georgia Bucket List

  • Visit Atlanta.  Read: 48 Hours in Atlanta: The Perfect 2 Day Itinerary
  • Visit the beautiful historic city of Savannah.

Cheap Car Rentals

Hawaii Bucket List

  • Seeing the beautiful Na Pali Coast in Kauai is a must on any Hawaii bucket list. You cannot visit by car. The entire Kalalau Trail is 11 miles long but you can hike the first couple of miles in a day or half a day. If hiking is not your thing, you can also view the Napali coast from helicopter tour or boat tour.

the best things to do in Kauai

  • See the Waimea Canyon in Kauai, a large canyon known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. There are hiking trails but you can enjoy great views from two lookout points.

top things to do in Kauai

  • Hike to the top at Diamond Head State Monument in Oahu for great views of Honolulu. The 1.5-2 hours round trip hike is not too challenging but go as early as possible in the morning because it gets hot!
  • Visit the Pearl Harbor National Memorial in Honolulu which marks the Japanese attack on the U.S. in World War II.
  • Drive the Road to Hana in Maui.
  • See a beautiful sunrise or sunset from the top of Haleakala Crater , a dormant volcano and the highest point in Maui. Unless you are visiting on a tour, you will need to make reservations in advance to access the park at sunset. Read: The Perfect Maui Itinerary: How to Spend 5 Days in Maui (As Written By a Local)

Idaho Bucket List

  • See the beautiful Shoshone Falls (which are taller than Niagara Falls).
  • Soak in one of the many Idaho hot springs .

Illinois Bucket List

what to do in chicago

  • Explore Chicago . Maybe I’m biased because it is my hometown, but Chicago is one of the best cities to visit in the US. There are a lot of bucket list worthy things to do in Chicago : watch a baseball game at historic Wrigley Field, take a selfie in front of the Bean at Millennium Park, take in the amazing views from The Skydeck at Willis Tower and/or 360 CHICAGO, take an architecture cruise on the Chicago River and more! Read:  Best Things to Do in Chicago in the Summer and Most Instagrammable Places in Chicago
  • Visit Starved Rock State Park (one of the most popular attractions in Illinois) and the nearby Matthiessen State Park . Both parks have great hikes, stunning sandstone cliffs, canyons and beautiful waterfalls. You can even visit on a day trip from Chicago .

Read: Best Things to Do & Places to Visit in Illinois for more bucket list worthy places to visit in Illinois

Indiana Bucket List

  • Visit the the capital city of Indianapolis.

Iowa Bucket List

  • See the covered bridges of Madison County .
  • Visit the Iowa State Fair. The eleven day fair (August 12-22, 2021) has food, games, rides and competitions, livestock exhibitions, shows, concerts and more.
  • Recreate the famous American Gothic painting in front of the original house in Eldon depicted in the painting. Visitors to the American Gothic House are provided with costumes to wear while the staff takes photos in front of the house.

Read :  Beautiful Sunflower Fields in Iowa That You Can Visit

Kansas Bucket List

  • Eat BBQ at the famous Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que  in Kansas City.

Kentucky Bucket List

  • Visit Louisville during the Kentucky Derby.
  • Journey on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail .

Louisiana Bucket List

  • Explore New Orleans.  Visit NOLA during Mardi Gras is a bucket list worthy experience.

Maine Bucket List

  • Explore Acadia National Park, a great spot to see the fall foliage in New England.
  • Visit Portland, a charming coastal city.

Maryland Bucket List

  • Visit Baltimore. See the historic waterfront neighborhood of Fells Point and make sure to try Maryland’s famous crab cakes.

Massachusetts Bucket List

  • Visit Boston. Some Boston must dos include walking the Freedom Trail, watching a game at Fenway Park and celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.
  • Relax at Cape Cod.
  • Learn about the history of the witch trials at Salem.
  • Visit Martha’s Vineyard , a tiny island which is a popular summer vacation destination for wealthy East Coast residents.

Michigan Bucket List

  • Explore the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore .
  • Visit historic Mackinac Island. The entire Victorian-themed island is listed as a National Historic Landmark and is car-free so visitors can only explore by foot, bicycle or horse drawn carriage.

Read: Best Places to Visit in the Midwest

Minnesota Bucket List

  • Visit Minneapolis-St Paul. Don’t miss the Minnehaha Regional Park (and the stunning Minnehaha Falls).
  • Explore the beautiful North Shore of Lake Superior .

Mississippi Bucket List

  • Explore the Mississippi Blues Trail, nearly 200 trail markers throughout the state including cotton fields, train depots, cemeteries, clubs and churches that tell stories of famous blues artists and significant sites. You can even download an app to help you follow the trail.

Missouri Bucket List

  • Enjoy the view from the top of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.
  • Eat some of the best BBQ in the country and explore the underrated Kansas City. Read : Weekend in Kansas City: The Perfect Itinerary (According to a Local!)

Montana Bucket List

Glacier National Park one of the top 100 places to visit in usa

  • Explore the beautiful Glacier National Park. One of highlights of the park is driving the famous Going-To-The-Sun Road .

Nebraska Bucket List

  • Witness the Annual Sandhill Crane Migration in the spring.
  • See Carhedge . This quirky man made attraction built from 38 vintage American cars covered in gray spray paint is a replica of England’s famous Stonehenge.
  • Visit Toadstool Geologic Park (referred to as the “badlands of Nebraska”) to see unusual rock formations and fossils.

Read: 7 Cool Things to do in Nebraska

Nevada Bucket List

  • Gamble, party, eat and have fun in Las Vegas. Read : Weekend in Las Vegas: The Perfect Itinerary (According to a Local!)
  • Visit Hoover Dam, a concrete arch-gravity dam on the border between Arizona and Nevada.
  • Photograph the Seven Magic Mountains , a temporary art exhibition located in the desert outside of Las Vegas, featuring thirty to thirty-five-foot high day glow totems comprised of painted, locally-sourced boulders.
  • Explore the Valley of Fire State Park, full of red rock formations just an hour outside of Vegas. It is also home to the Fire Wave, a smaller version of the famous Wave in Utah/Arizona.

Valley of Fire USA travel bucketlist

  • Admire colorful rock formations at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area on several hiking trails or on a 13-mile scenic drive.

New Jersey Bucket List

  • Go gambling in Atlantic City, one of the most popular cities in the Jersey Shore.
  • Hang out at Liberty State Park and enjoy great views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.

New Hampshire Bucket List

  • Explore the stunning White Mountains, a mountain range with many hiking spots of all levels.
  • Drive Kancamagus Highway , a 34.5 mile scenic drive along Route 112 and one of the best New England drives for fall foliage.

New Mexico Bucket List

  • Visit Albuquerque during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta , the largest balloon festival in the world.
  • Explore Santa Fe.
  • Visit Taos.
  • Visit White Sands National Monument .

best places to visit the usa

New York Bucket List

  • Explore New York City. Read : Weekend In New York City Itinerary
  • See Niagara Falls from the US side.

North Carolina Bucket List

  • Visit Asheville. One of the highlights is a visit to the historic Biltmore Estate , the largest house in the United States.
  • Explore the Outer Banks islands.

North Dakota Bucket List

  • Visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park .

Read: 7 Reasons North Dakota Should Be On Your Bucket List

Ohio Bucket List

  • Visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame museum in Cleveland.
  • Explore Hocking Hills State Park and view the beautiful sandstone formations and waterfalls.

Oregon Bucket List

  • Visit Portland, a city that likes to keep it weird.
  • Explore the Columbia River Gorge.  Don’t miss the beautiful Multnomah Falls just a 30 minute drive outside of Portland.

Multnomah Falls American travel bucket list destination

  • See Crater Lake National Park .  The highlight is the vivid blue Crater Lake (America’s deepest lake).

Crater Lake Pacific Northwest bucket list

Read: Bucket List Places to Visit in the West Coast

Pennsylvania Bucket List

  • Visit Philadelphia. Visit Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, the Eastern State Penitentiary and have a Philly cheesesteak.

Rhode Island Bucket List

  • Explore Newport, a beach town known for its lavish mansions from the Gilded Age.

South Carolina Bucket List

  • Visit the charming city of Charleston.

South Dakota Bucket List

  • Explore Badlands National Park known for its spires and pinnacles.
  • See Mount Rushmore National Memorial . This sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore features the heads of four U.S. presidents.

Tennessee Bucket List

  • Visit Nashville.
  • Visit Memphis. Highlights include Graceland (home of Elvis Presley), Beale Street and the Duck March at the Peabody Hotel .
  • Explore Great Smoky Mountains National Park, America’s most visited national park and a UNESCO world heritage site which straddles the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. The Appalachian Trail passes through the Great Smoky Mountains for more than 71 miles.
  • Walk across Gatlinburg SkyBridge , the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the US for beautiful views of the Smoky Mountains.

Texas Bucket List

  • Visit Austin. It is especially popular during South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference & Festivals . Read : Best Things to Do in Austin in One Day
  • Visit San Antonio.  The Alamo and the River Walk are the top attractions.
  • See the bluebonnets in bloom every spring in Texas Hill Country .
  • Explore Big Bend National Park.
  • Visit the small quirky town of Marfa .
  • Stop at Cadillac Ranch , a public art installation of half-buried Cadillacs on Route 66.

Utah Bucket List

  • Visit Salt Lake City.
  • Explore Bryce Canyon National Park , known for crimson-colored hoodoos (spire-shaped rock formations).

Bryce Canyon is one of the top United States bucket list places

  • Explore Zion National Park .
  • Explore Arches National Park , home to the highest density of natural arches anywhere in the world.

Arches National Park is a must on any North America bucket list

  • Explore Canyonlands National Park .
  • Visit Monument Valley .
  • Explore Goblin Valley State Park.
  • Take fun perspective pictures at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Vermont Bucket List

  • Do a fall road trip in Vermont to see the beautiful fall foliage.
  • Visit the picturesque town of Stowe .

Virginia Bucket List

  • Visit Virginia Beach.
  • Drive through Shenandoah National Park. Read :  Complete Guide to Shenandoah National Park

Washington State Bucket List

  • Visit Seattle.
  • Explore Mount Rainier National Park.
  • Explore Olympic National Park.
  • Explore North Cascades National Park .

Washington, D.C. Bucket List

  • Exploring the capital of the United States of America is a must on any USA bucket list. Points of interest include Capitol Building, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and National Mall. The city is especially beautiful (but crowded) during the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival in the spring.

Read: Best Places to Visit in the East Coast

West Virginia Bucket List

  • See the New River Gorge Bridge. If you are feeling adventurous, you can sign up for bridge walk guided tour where you cross the catwalk under the bridge.

Wisconsin Bucket List

  • Visit Milwaukee.
  • Relax in Lake Geneva , a lakeside resort city popular with wealthy Chicagoans that built large historic mansions.
  • Explore beautiful Door County .
  • Explore the Apostle Islands and the sea caves on Lake Superior.

Wyoming Bucket List

  • Explore Yellowstone National Park . Full of mountains, waterfalls, hot springs, geysers and wildlife, it is America’s first national park and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Highlights include Grand Prismatic Spring (a large hot spring is known for its rainbow effect) and Old Faithful.

Grand Prismatic Spring is a US bucket list destination

  • Explore the Grand Tetons .

Grand Teton USA travel bucket list ideas

  • Visit Devils Tower National Monument , a 870-foot stone monument and the center of many Indian religious ceremonies.

So there you have it – the ultimate USA travel bucket list .  If there is an experience or place I should include let me know in the comments below!

Need more travel inspiration? Check out some of my other travel bucket lists below:

  • Europe Bucket List: 100+ Things to Do
  • Australian Bucket List: Best Places to Visit in Australia
  • Africa Bucket List: 50 Things to Do and Places to Visit
  • South America Bucket List: 50+ Things to Do and Places to Visit
  • Southeast Asia Bucket List: 100+ Things to Do in SE Asia
  • Travel Goals: 100 Things to Do Before You Die
  • 10 Hotels That Should Be on Your Bucket List!

USA Travel Bucket List Places You Need to Visit

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There are so many places in the USA that I have yet to visit. I love that you put together this list by state, it’s a very easy reference to have. It’s embarrassing that I have been to so many places around the world, but haven’t been to 2 of the 3 places in your Wisconsin list (it is the state I grew up in!).

I love ticking things off bucket lists. US is such a diverse country and going through the places you recommended I have realized I still have so much more to see in this amazing country. So far I checked some in California (L.A., Disneyland and a road trip along the Pacific Coast), Florida (Miami Beach, Florida Keys, Everglades), Louisiana (yes NOLA during Mardi Gras is madness, loved it!!), and New York City! You got me wanting to go again and check out so many other places!

This is a fabulous list! I don’t think we will be venturing too far out of North America and the Caribbean this year, so this post will be very helpful for planning some USA travels. Going to Chicago and Las Vegas later this year so will definitely refer back.

Absolutely shows how much there is in the US of A to explore. I love the national parks there and that all the states have something unique to offer. Love this list – and definitely will come back to it to check a few of those places.

This is such a great list! I don’t think you have missed out on anything at all. I didn’t even know many of these places and now I want to visit them.

Wow, this is an awesome list! So many great options and so fun to see the ones I’ve already seen, like Sedona and the Grand Canyon. There are so many more I want to visit, I’ll have to keep your list handy!

I love traveling and my life partner also loves traveling. Recently we got married and planning to visit all over USA. Your List will be more helpful for us and others also.

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The most beautiful cities in the U.S. to visit right now

The best cities to visit in the U.S. brim with charm, breathtaking architecture and so much to do.

Clara Hogan

You could spend a lifetime traveling America and not see all that's worth seeing, which makes coming up with the list of best cities in the USA a tough task. Every region is home to its own trip-worthy urban destinations that boast  natural wonders ,   impressive architecture , and  incredibly diverse restaurants.

From coast to coast, we've rounded the cities that top our list of recommendations when plotting out your USA travel bucket list.  New York ,  Los Angeles  and San Francisco are obvious for a reason—they stand as American icons and offer endless must-see attractions. If you're looking for something even sexier, head to  Las Vegas  for gambling and pool parties, or  Miami  for rooftop vibes and beaches packed with some of the fittest people you've ever seen. To experience a taste of the South, there's bustling and historic  New Orleans , filled with a celebration of culture and music every day of the week. At the same time, cities like Nashville offer Southern charm, live music and hearty fare that will make you feel right at home.

Whether you crave nightly live music to keep you dancing, are an art lover looking to explore galleries and museums, or are more interested in eating your way through town, our handpicked selection of the best cities to visit in the USA has you covered.

An email you’ll actually love

Most beautiful cities in the U.S.

Portland, OR

1.  Portland, OR

Portland is known for many things: its eccentric culture, its incredibly creative restaurants (that have only gotten more exciting post-pandemic), its theater and arts scene, and its outdoor beauty top the list of reasons to visit. The best things to do in Portland  are long, but some of our favorite activities include eating and more eating. Visit one of the area's best restaurants , opt to experience the zillions of  food trucks , indulge in a gourmet doughnut or stop by a brewery or two . When you want to get moving, hop on a bike to tour the town, hike through one of the many parks or take a stroll through an art museum.

Boston, MA

2.  Boston, MA

History and modernity are joined at the hip in Boston, one of America’s first big cities and still one of its best. It’s the place where federal architecture harkens back to the 1600s, juxtaposed with ultra-modern buildings by Frank Gehry, Walter Gropius and I.M. Pei. Speaking of architecture: be sure to see the Back Bay row houses, the usual Instagram fodder that is actually an eye-catching must-see. From chowder to lobster rolls, Boston also loves its seafood, so be sure to visit the city's best raw bars and lobster shacks while you're in town.

San Francisco, CA

3.  San Francisco, CA

San Francisco, a beautiful city built on massive hills and surrounded by water, is a place that marches to the beat of its own drum. Novices are always shocked at how chilly it is here, so pack a heavy sweater at any time of year, and use it while doing the classic tourist activities: riding a cable car, taking a day tour to Alcatraz Island , walking across the Golden Gate Bridge or laughing at the chubby sea lions at Fisherman’s Wharf . If you want to branch out and experience the city as a local would, we recommend visiting one of SF's hottest restaurants —from Michelin-starred establishments  to cheap eats —grabbing a drink on a rooftop bar or heading out for a hike in nature . 

Seattle, WA

4.  Seattle, WA

From its emerald parks to the endless views of Puget Sound, Seattle is the crowning jewel of the Pacific Northwest. You'll see it all from the top of the iconic Space Needle—a 360-degree rotating atrium with a glass floor—but don't stop there. Seattle is full of incredible restaurants and world-class museums like the Seattle Art Museum and the Museum of Pop Culture . It's also the home of famed glass artist Dale Chihuly's Garden and Glass . And while the grunge era that put the city on the map is long gone, there are still plenty of excellent music venues to check out including Neumos and the Showbox .

Charleston, SC

5.  Charleston, SC

Charleston is truly one of America’s great metropolises, steeped in the history of the nation while boasting a thoroughly modern attitude toward the arts, culture and cuisine—you just need one quick glance at our list of the best Charleston restaurants to see that. Since around 1670, the architecture—and particularly the churches on every corner—has been enough of a reason to head to South Carolina’s jewel, but recently the city has become a food and drink haven as well. Water views and hipsters abound at the Pavilion Bar ; City Market sells the city’s signature sweetgrass baskets; and dinner at  Husk is a transcendental experience.

New Orleans, LA

6.  New Orleans, LA

After 300 years of existence, New Orleans is in the midst of a renaissance—except for the streets, which are the bumpiest you've ever encountered in a major metropolis. They love to dress up and party here, so put on a wig and mask, and hit the French Quarter and the Marigny for fabulous food at the best New Orleans restaurants . Grab a to-go cup filled with craft cocktails from one of the city’s best bars , and indulge in the live music for which New Orleans is famous. Then dig deeper by visiting the Bywater neighborhood, home to an intoxicating mix of art and funk with incredible murals on every block, and stop at Bacchanal Wine for a munch, a sip, and a song (or two). One thing to remember while here: always keep an eye on the iconic architecture that defines this one-in-a-million, music-loving city.

Milwaukee, WI

7.  Milwaukee, WI

You probably didn’t know that Milwaukee holds the world’s largest music festival, Summerfest , over three consecutive weekends in June and July. When the massive festival goes down, the pretty city by Lake Michigan goes more than a little crazy. With 12 stages, over 600 artists and more than half a million fans rolling through, they're taking advantage of the warm weather in a big way. During the rest of the year, think cheese curds, beer breweries, cornhole tournaments and Packers fanatics, juxtaposed with a gorgeous art museum and the annual Sculpture Milwaukee outdoor showcase all over town (summer/fall). It’s a vibrant, friendly city that Harley-Davidson calls home—don’t miss their massive museum here.

Salt Lake City, UT

8.  Salt Lake City, UT

No matter where you are in Salt Lake City, the snowcapped Rocky Mountains are never out of sight. They tower over the uber-clean city, a stunning landscape fit for a painting. And while Salt Lake is well-known for its Mormon heritage, there's more to the scene here than meets the eye. Restaurants range from the fine-dining favorite Log Haven to a healthy variety of ethnic and international restaurants. And while alcohol isn't as readily available here as in some cities, it's much easier to find than you think, including at the White Horse  downtown. While there, don't forget to take in a little of the outdoors: hiking, swimming, and picnicking at the Great Salt Lake is a good place to start.

Chicago, IL

9.  Chicago, IL

Frank Lloyd Wright buildings, deep-dish pizza, and the Cubbies: just three of the wonderful things that put Chicago on the world’s radar. It’s a big city with a friendly vibe that’s got a whole street, Rush Street, devoted to drinking and dancing. You can party there until 4am, but save some strength for the festivals this city loves to put on, from  Taste of Chicago  in the summer and July's  Pitchfork Music Fest to the big daddy of them all, Lollapalooza . This oh-so-cold city hunkers down in the winter, unless the Bears are playing football, in which case shirtless guys will brave subzero temps to cheer on their boys at Soldier Field.

Los Angeles, CA

10.  Los Angeles, CA

Sun, sand, and movies (in which the city is often the star) make Los Angeles a place the world wants to see in real life. Start at the Hotel Erwin’s rooftop in Venice for an expansive view of the whole city, then explore everything from the ocean to the mountains as you crisscross L.A. County. Expect its famous traffic to slow you down as you head to Malibu for a surfing session; make a pit stop at the Getty Museum , then step in the stars’ footprints at TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood . Blow your shopping budget on Rodeo Drive , then head south to Anaheim to pilot the Millenium Falcon at Disneyland’s Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge universe.

Nashville, TN

11.  Nashville, TN

Honky-tonks and museums might not seem to go together, but their marriage in Nashville is a strong one indeed. For some drinking and dancing, head straight for Broadway, where Legend’s Corner , Nudie’s , and Tootsie’s have been serving up country, blues, and whiskey forever. You can start early (10am) and go late into the night (3am) in Music City—if you’ve got the fortitude, of course. Is day drinking not your idea of vacation fun? Start with the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum  and move on to the museums devoted to Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash ; all are right downtown and terrific. See Historic RCA Studio B , where Elvis made countless records, and drive out to the Bluebird Cafe and the Grand Ole Opry . Don’t forget that this is a party town so feel free to visit with a group, rent a barcycle (which is exactly what it sounds like), and roam among the best Nashville bars , singing as you go.

Washington, DC

12.  Washington, DC

One of America’s most beautiful cities, stately Washington, D.C. just keeps getting better. The National Mall is truly majestic, with the Capitol building glowing at one end, the Lincoln Memorial at the other, and various Smithsonian museums lining each side. See them all (take a look at our list of the best museums in D.C . for a start), but plan to spend extra time at the new(ish) National Museum of African American History & Culture . Beyond politics, monuments and museums, D.C. boats some cool, emerging neighborhoods like the Wharf (eat at Officina or Del Mar de Fabio Trabocchi ) and Southeast, where the Nationals play baseball and craft beer rules at Bluejacket nearby. Take a look at our guide to where to stay in Washington, D.C. if you’re planning a visit.

St. Louis, MO

13.  St. Louis, MO

For a small-town vibe in a big city, St. Louis is the place to be. Settled by Europeans in 1764, this 'Gateway to the West' has long been the center of America. A few musts while in town: a visit to the famous (and giant) Gateway Arch , a walk through the National Blues Museum , and a stop at BB’s Jazz Blues and Soups . Clearly, blues and barbecue go hand-in-hand here, with classic BBQ joints like Pappy’s Smokehouse and Sugarfire that slow-cook with style. Locals are so serious about the cuisine that the Q in the Lou cookoff is fall's hottest ticket.

Miami, FL

14.  Miami, FL

Things constantly sizzle in Miami, where Latin beats and eats swirl in an Art Deco dream. South Beach is the spot for sunning all day on the white sand and clubbing all night. For a really hot time, stop in at the World Erotic Art Museum . For true art lovers, Art Basel Miami in December offers up creative installations, parties and intellectualism. Your itinerary should also be packed full of trips to the city's  best restaurants  from classic Cuban mainstays to Michelin-starred Italian spots.

New York City, NY

15.  New York City, NY

Needless to say: there is no place like New York City. An incredible melting pot of cultures, neighborhoods , languages and personal styles, a stroll down any street in Manhattan is always a fascinating experience. Classic old buildings exist shoulder-to-shoulder with new ultra-modern architecture like those in Hudson Yards , constantly morphing the city’s identity into exciting new molds. When in town, indulge in more than one Broadway show , visit all the museums , stroll around Central Park , eat the best bagels in NYC (and any drool-worthy haute cuisine you can manage), drink at a speakeasy , catch a Yankee game, and start wondering why you haven’t moved here yet.

San Diego, CA

16.  San Diego, CA

It’s not a myth: San Diego boasts the very best weather across America, with 70-degree Fahrenheit temperatures, low humidity, and sunny skies all year round. Add in the beautiful bay and beaches, a famous zoo and the endearing madness of Comic-Con International, and it’ll become impossible not to love this quintessential California city. Foodies adore the seafood and Mexican cuisine done to perfection here; gamblers flock to Pechanga and Viejas , the two posh Native American casinos nearby; and kids dream of Legoland . San Diego has something for everyone. 

Las Vegas, NV

17.  Las Vegas, NV

Ah, Vegas. The place that every foreigner cannot wait to visit when seeing America. More lightbulbs in one place than anywhere, more ways to gamble than your wallet can bear, the glitter, glitz, and jangling slot machines are the city’s signature perks. But Vegas is more than just casinos rising out of the desert. Head off the famed Strip to downtown’s fascinating Mob Museum and find out who built this decadent mecca in the first place. Eat at a world-class chef’s world-renowned restaurant ( Joël Robuchon , anyone?), drive supercars at 200mph with Exotics Racing and zip out to Red Rock Canyon for a mind-bending desert experience. Whatever you want, Vegas always has it.

Orlando. FL

18.  Orlando. FL

With theme parks like Universal Studios Florida, Legoland  and Walt Disney World , Orlando has been the place for families for generations. And now, with the arrival of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World, there will be plenty of adults with no kids descending on Orlando as well. The city is ready, with an impressive range of restaurants anchored by DoveCote Brasserie and The Boheme  and an equally adult club scene that pays homage all sorts of tunes, from country and hip hip to rock and pop.

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USA Travel Bucket List: 50 Places to Visit Before You Die

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See recent posts by Megan Johnson

While we’re often daydreaming of beaches in the Maldives and vineyards in Tuscany, there are plenty of amazing destinations in our own backyard. To help you with your bucket list, we’ve rounded up 50 places you must visit in the United States before you die — in no particular order.

1. New York City

Central Park aerial view, Manhattan, New York; Park is surrounded

One of the most-visited places in the world, New York City has numerous attractions, a multicultural population, and something for all types of travelers. Tourists should be sure to fit in a trip to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, the Empire State Building or One World Trade Center, the Brooklyn Bridge, and Times Square. Central Park offers a respite from the crowds, museums are impressive, and a show on Broadway followed by a slice of pizza is an ideal night out.

2. Grand Canyon, Arizona

Majestic Vista of the Grand Canyon at Dusk

The second-most popular national park in the U.S., the Grand Canyon in Arizona wows with its Colorado River-formed canyon, which stretches 277 miles long and over a mile deep. Visitors can see the park from scenic lookout points, via a stunning helicopter ride , during whitewater rafting, while riding a mule, or by hiking down and back.

3. Disney World, Florida

Orlando, FL, USA - November 5 2022 : Magic Kingdom Park. The Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration.

One of the most magical places for people of all ages, the massive Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando has four fun theme parks. Magic Kingdom has the breathtaking Cinderella Castle and nightly fireworks shows, while Epcot allows park-goers to travel around the globe by showcasing 11 different countries — think a pagoda in Japan, a biergarten in Germany, and Eiffel Tower views in France.

 4. New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans Jackson square

Vibrant, historic, and downright fun, New Orleans is a popular city throughout the year. While most people know about the city’s rambunctious Mardi Gras celebrations, NOLA also offers world-class jazz music, delicious Creole and Cajun cuisines, art galleries, ghost tours, and notable buildings such as the 18th-century St. Louis Cathedral. The French Quarter is best explored with a coffee and beignet or a frozen cocktail in hand.

5. San Antonio Missions, Texas

The Alamo in San Antonio Texas during golden sunset. Historic Texas Mission and battle site in the Texas Revolution against Mexico

Sure, you probably know about The Alamo in San Antonio, but it’s actually one of five Spanish missions found across the city. The oldest is Mission Espada , which was built in 1690; original frescoes are still visible inside Mission Concepcion ; and the largest is Mission San José . Visitors can bike or drive between the missions, and park rangers provide free tours.

6. Niagara Falls, New York

Niagara Falls

While we’d argue that Niagara Falls is more impressive from the Canadian side , you can still witness the three stunning waterfalls without a passport. Head to Prospect Point in Niagara Falls State Park for a stellar vantage point, or consider a Maid of the Mist boat tour for a more up-close-and-personal view. Also worth a visit is Cave of the Winds , which is set behind Bridal Veil Falls and offers visitors a sensational view of the falls, often accompanied by a beautiful rainbow.

7. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

Golden Gate, San Francisco, California, USA.

Opened in 1937, the famous Golden Gate Bridge is an orange-colored suspension bridge that impresses with its main span of 4,200 feet and a total height of 746 feet. It connects San Francisco to Marin County, where the Golden Gate National Recreation Area has hiking, historical attractions, and lovely vistas of the bridge and San Francisco. After snapping a photo on land, travelers can bike or walk across the bridge for more picturesque views.

8. Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

Great Smoky Mountains, autumn sunrise Tennessee

Both a national park and UNESCO World Heritage site, the Great Smoky Mountains is the most frequented national park in America. The gorgeous park is located in both Tennessee and North Carolina, and it has tons of recreational opportunities, including hiking, fishing, horseback riding, and water tubing. Fall also offers striking foliage.

9. Washington, D.C.

The Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.

As the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., is a must-visit for anyone who wants to see where the government is run. From the White House to the Capitol to the Supreme Court Building, all three branches of government are found here, in addition to historical monuments such as the Lincoln Memorial , the Washington Monument , and World War II Memorial . Visitors can also spend hours touring the various Smithsonian museums within the National Mall .

10. Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park

a bison grazes near the steaming old faithful geyser in yellowstone national park

One of the most well-known geological features in the country, Old Faithful , is a cone geyser within Yellowstone National Park . It was discovered in 1870 and got its name from its frequent and generally predictable eruptions, which occur about every 60 to 110 minutes. An average eruption is 130 to 140 feet high, expelling 3,700 to 8,400 gallons of water (depending on the length of the eruption).

Related: The 6 Best National Parks for Winter Wildlife Spotting

11. South Beach, Miami

Miami Florida USA

South Beach is Miami‘s trendy hot spot, home to one of the prettiest beaches in America, gorgeous Art Deco architecture, tasty Cuban fare, and popular nightlife spots. A Latin American influence pervades the city at large, and in South Beach, tourists can shop at fancy boutiques, eat cheap Cuban sandwiches, and lounge at posh beach clubs . A beachside boardwalk is great for strolling or biking and, of course, people-watching.

12. The Narrows, Zion National Park

Orange glow hits the canyon walls in The Narrows of Zion National Park

Within Utah’s Zion National Park , The Narrows is the narrowest section of Zion Canyon. It’s the park’s most popular hike due to its striking setting within a gorge, where the river acts as the trail. Hikers must wade in water that varies from ankle- to waist-deep. It’s particularly pleasant in the hot summer months, but visitors should stay on top of weather conditions, as it’s known for dangerous flash flooding.

13. Santa Fe, New Mexico

Cityscape view in Santa Fe, New Mexico mountains of road street through community neighborhood with green plants summer and adobe traditional houses

Surrounded by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Santa Fe is a charming artsy town with a strong Native American influence. Pueblo-style architecture, a central plaza where vendors sell various handicrafts, and historic sights such as Loretto Chapel give the city a unique feel, plus there’s plenty to keep busy throughout the year. The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and restaurants serving New Mexican cuisine are additional highlights.

14. Pacific Coast Highway, California

Bixby Creek Bridge Big Sur California

Whether you choose to drive the entire 659 miles of the Pacific Coast Highway or just a fraction thereof, you’ll be rewarded with sensational vistas. Certain routes can be done in a day, but we recommend taking your time by starting in San Francisco and slowly making your way to Orange County. The best views are arguably in Big Sur, where you’ll find rugged cliffs against the ocean on one side and redwood forests on the other.

15. Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Just outside of Washington, D.C., is Arlington National Cemetery , which spans 624 acres and houses the graves of 400,000 active duty service members, veterans, and their families. The graves of President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis are frequently visited, as is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which is a monument dedicated to deceased U.S. service members whose remains haven’t been identified. The moving Changing of the Guard can be witnessed every 30 or 60 minutes while the cemetery is open, depending on the time of year.

16. Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee, December 6, 2022: Broadway Street on a rainy night.

Even those who don’t love country music will likely be enamored with Nashville, Tennessee. Excellent restaurants and hip bars make for a thriving nightlife scene, and the live music — much of which is country — on Broadway is not to be missed. Top attractions include Centennial Park for its full-size replica of Greece’s Parthenon, the Grand Ole Opry concert hall, and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum .

17. Freedom Trail, Boston

Freedom Trail in Boston

Boston played a large part in America’s independence, and the city’s Freedom Trail passes through 16 historically significant locations. The two-and-a-half-mile trail takes visitors to Boston Common (America’s oldest public park), the site of the Boston Massacre, Paul Revere’s House , and the USS Constitution (the oldest commissioned ship that acts as a museum today).

18. Joshua Tree National Park, California

Purple sunset and rising moon in Joshua Tree National Park, USA

Located in southern California, east of Palm Springs, Joshua Tree National Park is a dreamy destination known for its distinctive-looking namesake trees, big boulders that are ideal for rock climbing, and stellar stargazing opportunities . Visitors can drive through, hike around, camp, or ride horseback through the desert landscape.

19. Road to Hana, Maui

Road to Hana: The Hana Highway turns to cross a one lane bridge beside a waterfall on the north coast of Maui.

The top attraction in Maui on TripAdvisor, the Road to Hana (Hana Highway) is a 64.4-mile drive that connects Kahului, where the airport is located, to the town of Hana on Maui’s more rugged east coast. The drive is not for the faint of heart, as it has over 600 switchbacks and 56 one-lane bridges, but the speed limit never surpasses 25 miles per hour. Travelers who hit the road are rewarded with spectacular lush greenery, stunning black-sand beaches, multiple waterfalls, and spots to buy banana bread.

20. Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre, Colorado

Red Rocks at sunrise, near Denver Colorado

Located about a 30-minute drive outside of Denver, the Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre is an open-air concert and entertainment venue. The entire theater, including the seating, was built into the red rocks, which make for a phenomenal acoustic experience. Tourists can run up and down the steps in the morning and see big-name acts at night. Past performers include The Beatles, U2, Coldplay, and John Denver.

Related: Maui vs. Kauai: Which Hawaiian Island Is Better for You?

21. Horseshoe Bend, Arizona

amazing sundown at horseshoe bend, arizona

Horseshoe Bend is where the Colorado River takes a horseshoe-shaped bend in Glen Canyon. Visitors to Horseshoe Bend have skyrocketed since it gained recognition through Instagram. It’s easily accessible, as travelers can hike a one-and-a-half-mile round-trip trail from a parking lot off the highway.

22. Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas, USA cityscape on the river and walkway.

The capital of Texas, Austin, is a hip, youthful city where low-frills barbecue joints and big-name tech corporations coexist. From stand-up paddleboarding on Lake Austin to topless sunbathing at Barton Springs Pool , there are a lot of ways to beat the daytime heat. Nights can be spent at upscale restaurants, Sixth Street bars with live music, or watching bats fly out from under the Congress Avenue Bridge. Buy a University of Texas T-shirt and some cowboy boots while you’re there.

23. Space Needle, Seattle

Amazing View of Seattle From Far Away with mountain tops on the horizon

An iconic landmark in Seattle, the Space Needle is an observation tower that was built for the 1962 World’s Fair. With its antenna, it rises 604 feet, allowing for panoramic views of Seattle and the surrounding water. A 100-million-dollar renovation included the creation of the Loupe, the world’s first and only rotating glass floor. A cafe and wine bar entice visitors to linger.

24. Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota

American flag waiving in front of Mount Rushmore

Located in South Dakota, this famous landmark depicts four American presidents carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore . Constructed between 1927 and 1941, the sculpture features the 60-foot heads of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.

25. Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, New Mexico

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Mass Ascension at Sunrise, Hot Air Balloons

Every year since 1972, Albuquerque hosts the International Balloon Fiesta, in which the sky is filled with colorful hot air balloons. For nine days in October, families and friends gather to watch the largest balloon festival in the world.

26. Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park

The Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park (the largest hot spring in the United States, and the third largest in the world)

Another top attraction (and the most-photographed) within Yellowstone National Park is the Grand Prismatic Spring, which is the largest hot spring in the United States, measuring 370 feet in diameter. It’s best viewed from above, as the spring has vibrant bands of rainbow colors.

27. Griffith Observatory, California

Los Angeles Griffith Observatory sunset

Situated on the southern slope of Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park, Griffith Observatory is a popular observatory with free admission. It has stellar views of the Hollywood Sign and Los Angeles, and visitors can use telescopes, the planetarium, various events, and a cafe.

28. Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier National Park

Biker on the Going-to-the-Sun Road with mountain background, Glacier National Park, Montana

Completed in 1932, Going-to-the-Sun Road is a two-lane highway that allows visitors to traverse the 50-mile width of Glacier National Park . Various scenic lookouts and noteworthy hikes can be found off the road, and it crosses the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. Due to weather conditions, it generally doesn’t open until late June or early July.

29. Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA Skyline

Whether for a bachelorette party, Celine Dion concert, or business conference, there’s a good chance you’ve at least thought about going to Las Vegas. Sin City is renowned for its world-class casinos, nightlife, and celebrity-chef-helmed restaurants, not to mention rowdy pool parties with famous DJs. It’s not all debauchery, though, and many kid-friendly activities dot the city.

30. Acadia National Park, Maine

Bass Harbor Head lighthouse at sunset. Bass Harbor Head Light is a lighthouse located within Acadia National Park, Maine, marking the entrance to Bass Harbor and Blue Hill Bay

Maine‘s beauty is undeniable, and that’s perhaps best displayed at Acadia National Park . Located near Bar Harbor, the 47,000-acre park sits along the coast and offers ample wildlife, such as moose and peregrine falcons, beaches, lush forests, and granite ridges formed by glaciers. While summer is a popular time to visit, the fall foliage makes for great autumn hiking.

Related: Top 9 Las Vegas Hotels on the Strip for Every Type of Traveler

31. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Girls on vacation hiking trip. Friends standing next to Thor's Hammer hoodoo on top of mountain looking at beautiful view. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, USA

Located a four-hour drive south of Salt Lake City, Bryce Canyon is a national park best known for having the largest concentration of hoodoos (irregular rock columns) in the world. The park was designated an International Dark Sky Park in 2019 due to the great nighttime visibility and many astronomy-related programs on offer.

32. Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, Philadelphia

Liberty Bell old symbol of American freedom in Philadelphia Pennsylvania

Often considered a symbol of America’s independence, the iconic Liberty Bell in Philadelphia was ordered by Pennsylvania Assembly in 1751. It was previously housed in Independence Hall, the building where both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were adopted. It has since been moved to the Liberty Bell Center within the Independence National Historical Park .

33. Charleston, South Carolina

Broad Street Panorama in Charleston, South Carolina, USA

The 1670-founded Charleston is South Carolina’s oldest city, Today, it offers a lovely mix of old-fashioned Southern charm and contemporary style. Cobblestone streets filled with horse-drawn carriages and striking mansions can be found in its well-preserved Historic District, while notable wartime places, like Fort Sumter and Patriots Point , sit nearby. Cute boutique shops and traditional Southern comfort food appeal to visitors, as does Folly Beach , located a 25-minute drive south of the city.

34. Hot Springs, Arkansas

Hot Springs National Park

Hot springs may conjure images of Iceland or Costa Rica, but the aptly named city of Hot Springs, Arkansas, offers U.S. travelers ample opportunities to soak in naturally heated springs. The town is located in the Ouachita Mountains, about one hour from Little Rock. Bathhouse Row has several bathhouse options, including places for coed or gender-segregated experiences. A few dispensers around the city let people obtain cold spring water straight from the mountain.

35. Redwood National and State Parks, California

Hiker in Sequoia National Park, California, USA

Roughly equidistant from Portland and San Francisco, the Redwood National and State Parks encompass 139,000 acres and three state parks. Visitors here will find stunning redwood trees, which are some of the largest, tallest, and oldest trees in the world. On average, redwoods live between 500 and 700 years, and a typical redwood here measures 300 feet tall and 16 to 20 feet in diameter.

36. Oahu, Hawaii

Beautiful day at world famous and popular snorkeling spot Hanauma bay in Honolulu on Oahu, Hawaii

The most popular of the Hawaiian islands, Oahu provides picture-perfect beaches, hiking opportunities, and the conveniences of a city — think budget-friendly hotels, chain restaurants, and an international eatery. Top attractions include Waikiki Beach in Honolulu , Diamond Head — a dormant volcano crater that can be hiked — and North Shore, a beach with huge waves that make it a frequent host of international surfing competitions in the winter. The Pearl Harbor National Memorial is also worth a visit.

Girl watching Aurora borealis in Fairbanks, Alaska

The 49th state of Alaska is stunning, with greenery-filled forests, tons of wildlife (think bears, humpback whales, and moose), and massive glaciers. However, it’s not the easiest place to explore, as even the capital of Juneau has no roads leading out of the city. Arguably the best way to see Alaska is on a cruise , stopping at ports like Ketchikan , which has a strong native culture and renowned salmon fishing.

38. Sonoma, California

Sunset at Sonoma California patchwork vineyard at harvest. Vista of Sonoma Valley wine country, with patches of yellow and green vines in autumn. Sunbeams shine on mountains and valleys.

While we love Napa Valley in California, Sonoma provides a slightly less touristy wine-country experience. Sonoma is set among beautiful rolling hills, and many of the over 400 wineries within Sonoma County have a laid-back atmosphere that will put visitors at ease. Like Napa, Sonoma has tons of top-notch restaurants, relaxing spas, bike rentals, and charming bed-and-breakfasts to choose from.

39. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Man on hilltop viewing Crater Lake with full moon

A four-hour drive south of Portland, Crater Lake National Park in Oregon is 183,224 acres and home to America’s deepest lake. Crater Lake, a caldera formed by the eruption of Mount Mazama volcano, is 1,943 feet deep at its deepest point and has a striking deep blue hue. Swimming and fishing are permitted, plus park-goers can hike, bike, ski, and stargaze.

40. Taos Pueblo, New Mexico

Taos Pueblo; Taos, New Mexico

Located 90 minutes north of Santa Fe, Taos Pueblo is a UNESCO World Heritage site. An active Native American community resides on Taos Pueblo lands, both within the Pueblo and in surrounding areas. The present buildings, which are made of adobe, are believed to have been constructed between 1000 and 1450 A.D. Guided tours are available of the site.

Related: Best Destinations for Adult-Only Vacations

41. Antelope Canyon, Arizona

Antelope canyon, Arizona

Another Instagram darling, Antelope Canyon , is a magnificent, awe-inspiring slot canyon near Horseshoe Bend in Arizona, formed by the erosion of Navajo Sandstone. It’s located on Navajo tribal lands, and the Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons can only be accessed with a guide licensed by the tribe.

42. Minnesota Lakes

Yellow canoe on shore of beautiful lake with island in northern Minnesota at dawn

Minnesota is considered the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” though it actually has nearly 12,000, and many are fantastic spots for a summer vacation. Whether you choose to dip your toes in the chilly Lake Superior — one of the Great Lakes — or go full-on swimming in Mille Lacs Lake (which is large but shallow), there’s a lake in Minnesota for you.

43. Arches National Park, Utah

Jubilation at Delicate Arch, Moab Utah

Just outside of Moab is Arches National Park , famous for its more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches — the largest concentration of them on Earth. The most photographed is the 52-foot-tall, freestanding Delicate Arch, plus the park has many other striking geological formations.

44. Kentucky Derby

LOUISVILLE, KY, USA - October 25, 2017: The exterior of Churchill Downs while it was closed to the public and under construction. A gift shop is open and tours of the inside are available.

Since 1865, the Kentucky Derby horse race has been taking place at Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky. Women wear elaborate hats, while gentlemen don seersucker suits in pastel hues. Visitors come to watch the 20 three-year-old Thoroughbred horses race 1.25 miles — often with a mint julep in hand.

45. Mackinac Island, Michigan

Mackinac Island view from Fort Mackinac in Michigan

Located in Michigan’s Lake Huron, Mackinac Island is a charming 1780-founded island with a population of just around 1,000 (though it sees many tourists during its peak season). A majority of the island is a state park, which has forests, wildlife, and hiking trails. The use of motor vehicles has been outlawed here since 1898, so expect to ride around on bikes or in horse-drawn carriages and buggies.

46. Santa Monica, California

View of Santa Monica beach and Pacific Coast highway in southern California.

Santa Monica sits due west of Los Angeles, and the town lures travelers with its postcard-worthy beach, pier with amusement park rides, and boulevard lined by shops and eateries. A 22-mile paved bike trail is a great way to see the city, plus the famous Muscle Beach , an outdoor gym dating back to the 1930s, is not to be missed.

47. Space Center, Houston

HOUSTON, TEXAS, USA - JUNE 9, 2018: The NASA Space Shuttle Independence and NASA 905 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft at Independence Plaza, Space Center Houston, Texas.

The Space Center in Houston is the official visitor center of NASA’s Johnson Space Center and home of NASA Mission Control and astronaut training. It allows visitors to view more than 400 space artifacts, as well as traveling and permanent exhibits related to space travel.

48. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Picture Lake Reflection of Mount Shuksan

About a 90-minute drive from Denver is Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park , which attracts millions of visitors each year with its 355 miles of hiking trails, scenic drives to more than 12,000 feet in elevation, and over 50 lakes and streams for fishing. Year-round activities abound, and travelers can either camp within the park or stay at a nearby hotel such as the Stanley Hotel (the inspiration for “The Shining”).

49. Fenway Park, Boston

Fenway Park - home of the Boston Red Sox - BOSTON , MASSACHUSETTS

Long considered America’s pastime, baseball is something every U.S. citizen and traveler should witness at least once. There are 30 Major League Baseball teams, and while Wrigley Field in Chicago, Yankee Stadium in New York, and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles are all suitable spots, we love Fenway Park in Boston for its easy-to-reach location. Plus, the many die-hard Red Sox fans make for a fun experience.

50. Alcatraz Island, San Francisco

Alcatraz Island Sail Boats San Francisco California

Located in San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz Island is a fascinating tourist attraction that was developed as a Civil War fortress, followed by a military prison and federal prison (until 1963). Ferries shuttle visitors to the island, where guided tours showcase the complex history of the site and its prison.

How many destinations can you check off the list? Find out down below:

USA Travel Bucket List Checklist

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By Becky Griswold · Last updated on March 3, 2024

The USA is the cultural force of the modern era. A land built on immigration and pioneering, America is a bastion of modern-day pop culture, free thought and the relentless pursuit of the American Dream. Comprised of 50 states, the USA occupies an area that’s only just marginally smaller than Europe. It’s in this vast country that you will find an unbelievably diverse array of natural landscapes, cityscapes, people and cultures.

From the tropical islands of Hawaii to the desert landscape of the Grand Canyon, as well as mountains and forests, you’ll never be stuck for outdoor pursuits in America. Then there are its multicultural, global cities such as Chicago and NYC itself – the USA is an endlessly fascinating place to discover. Here are the best places to visit in the USA so you can get the most out of your big trip to The States.

25. Aspen [SEE MAP]


One of the most famous ski resorts in the world, Aspen lies in a remote part of the Rocky Mountains in the state of Colorado . Named after the abundance of aspen trees that dot the region, the former mining camp was turned into a popular tourist destination in the mid-twentieth century and has never looked back.

Set amid some stunning snow-covered scenery, the town has four ski slopes – Aspen Highlands, Ajax Mountain, Buttermilk and Snowmass further down the valley. All of them boast large areas where you can enjoy skiing, snowboarding, sledging, and snowmobiling.

Aspen exploded as a silver mining town in the late 19th century; something reflected in the architecture from this time. Examples include the grand Wheeler Opera House and the brick built Aspen Community Church, among others.

While it is known as a winter destination, Aspen is wonderful to visit at any time of year. Its mountainous landscapes lend themselves perfectly to all kinds of outdoor recreational activities.

24. Atlanta [SEE MAP]


The capital and largest city of the state of Georgia , Atlanta is a sprawling, modern city with three urban skylines rising up from the picturesque scenery of rolling hills, pine forest, magnificent old oak trees and charming magnolia and peach trees. Established as a railroad terminus in 1837, Atlanta was burned down by Union forces during the American Civil War only to recover and emerge as the leader of the New South as well as an important national center of commerce and home of the world’s busiest airport.

The busy districts of Downtown, Buckhead and Midtown make up Atlanta’s three dazzling cityscapes of skyscrapers, businesses, shopping, dining and nightlife. The city’s top attractions are the CNN Center, World of Coca-Cola and the Georgia Aquarium, which features the world’s largest indoor aquarium. Other major places of interest include the boyhood home, church and final resting place of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the home of “Gone With the Wind” author, Margaret Mitchell. A stroll or drive through historic neighborhoods offer Southern culture, cuisine and antebellum homes.

Atlanta boasts an impressive arts and culture scene with many distinguished museums highlighting the likes of Southern art, Civil War history, ancient civilizations as well as numerous theater, symphony and opera venues. For sports and recreation, the city has hundreds of beautiful public parks and gardens of which Centennial Olympic Park and Grant Park are the most popular. Just outside the city, the Chattahoochee River provides facilities for swimming, fishing, boating and tubing.

23. Yosemite National Park [SEE MAP]

Yosemite National Park

One of the most visited national parks in the United States, Yosemite National Park is prized for its jaw-dropping beauty that comprises magnificent granite cliffs, mountains, waterfalls and glaciers. Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of central eastern California , the park is home to an abundance of diverse wildlife and groves of giant sequoia redwood trees, which are the world’s tallest and oldest living trees.

Yosemite is a massive park area-wise, and while it would be impossible to see all of it in one day, one of the must-see sites is Yosemite Valley. The most visited section of the national park, Yosemite Valley is famous for its extraordinary scenery and incredible granite formations such as Half Dome and El Capitan, a popular rock climbing spot. The valley is also known for its many impressive waterfalls that include Bridalveil Falls and Yosemite Falls, one of the world’s highest waterfalls. Other sites not to miss are the groves of giant sequoia trees that can be found at Merced Grove, Tuolumne Grove and Mariposa Grove.

Scenic drives such as Tioga Road, as well as others, offer overlooks like Glacier Point where visitors can awe over breathtaking vistas. Hiking and shuttle bus tours present opportunities to view wildlife like black bears, bobcats and numerous species of birds. Additionally, the Yosemite National Park features historic landmarks like the Leconte Memorial Bridge and Ahwahnee Hotel as well as visitor centers where visitors can learn more about the park and its natural attractions.

22. Portland [SEE MAP]


Straddling the Willamette River in the shadow of the majestic Mount Hood, Portland is the largest city in Oregon as well as the third largest city of the US Pacific Northwest region. While the city is known for its frequent rain drizzle, it is Portland’s climate that produces it with picturesque scenery, including a plethora of rose gardens, which give Portland the nickname, “City of Roses.” Besides its natural attractions , Portland is a popular destination for its relaxed atmosphere, outdoor activities and large number of microbreweries.

A popular central point for locals and tourists alike is Pioneer Square, a charming, laid-back courtyard with chess boards, a cascading water fountain and artistic sculptures. Surrounding the square is the downtown district, bustling with modern high-rise buildings, commercial businesses, museums and significant landmarks like the Portlandia statue and the White Stag sign. Just north of downtown is Portland’s Old Town, where tourists can see historical remnants of the city’s original settlement.

Outside the downtown district, trendy neighborhoods feature attractive architecture, the world’s largest independent bookstore and shopping, dining and nightlife options as well as beautiful gardens and urban parks like the Portland Japanese Garden, International Rose Test Garden and Tom McCall Waterfront Park.

Covering thousands of wooded acres within city limits, Forest Park is the nation’s largest city park with many hiking and biking trails. The Oregon Zoo and the Oaks Amusement Park both provide endless family fun, while the nearby Mount Hood Forest Recreation offers a great excursion to enjoy a wide variety of outdoor activities like climbing, hiking, horseback riding and skiing.

21. San Antonio [SEE MAP]

San Antonio

The jewel of Texas , San Antonio is a city steeped in both rich history and modern day appeal. Located in south-central Texas, the city is one of the largest in the United States and best known as home to the Alamo. The city’s top attraction, the Alamo is a historical mission in which famous American folk heroes, Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett, died while defending it during the 1836 Battle of the Alamo. In addition to the Alamo, The San Antonio Missions National Park preserves four more historic Spanish missions.

Another of San Antonio’s most visited attractions is the Riverwalk, a vibrant pedestrian scene of restaurants, shops, hotels and entertainment venues stretching along both sides of the San Antonio River right in the middle of the downtown area. A number of museums offer excellent glimpses into the city’s colorful history and culture that consists of Spanish, Mexican and the Western cowboy. Families can enjoy hours of fun at the San Antonio Zoo, one of the largest in the nation, as well as at theme parks like Six Flags Fiesta Texas.

A couple of exceptional experiences not to miss in San Antonio are helicopter rides and ghost hunting tours. Just outside San Antonio city limits, tourists can explore the fascinating underground features of the Cascade Caverns and the Natural Bridge Caverns.

20. Savannah [SEE MAP]


The quintessential Southern city, Savannah draws millions of tourists every year to its charming scenes of Victorian architecture, cobbled streets, moss-draped oaks and leisurely pace. Lying on the Atlantic Coast in eastern Georgia, Savannah is the state’s oldest city, rich in history, hospitality and natural beauty.

Because Savannah was spared during the American Civil War, the city’s large Historic District is the most popular attraction . A walk around the district’s cobbled streets allows views and tours of beautiful old mansions and historic sites such as the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low (creator of the Girl Scouts) as well as one of the nation’s oldest Jewish synagogues, one of the oldest African-American Baptist churches and the impressive Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.

Also among the city’s most noted features are its historic squares that sit amid settings of lovely parks, huge oak trees, Victorian homes, statues, fountains and important memorials. Another tourist magnet is Factor’s Walk, a row of restored, old warehouses leading down to the riverfront, which now house attractive shops, galleries and restaurants.

Outside the Historic District, tourists can explore Civil War forts, visit state-of-the-art cultural centers and museums like the Jepson Center for the Arts and the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences. A number of parks, including Forsyth Park, offer lovely scenery and recreational activities. Savannah is also well known for its numerous ghost tours and historic cemeteries. With short day trips to nearby islands like Tybee Island and the Oatland Island Wildlife Center, tourists can sunbathe on the beach, frolic in the ocean and encounter native wildlife species.

19. Philadelphia [SEE MAP]


Often regarded as the “Birthplace of America,” Philadelphia is known as the city in which the country’s founding fathers signed the 1776 Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. Commonly referred to by locals as “Philly,” Philadelphia is major US city in southeastern Pennsylvania and home to the iconic Liberty Bell and the Philly cheesesteak sandwich.

While Philadelphia is a modern city with a busy downtown of high office towers and a number of ethnic districts, it is the city’s colonial architecture and historic attractions that draw most tourists. One of the most visited sites is Independence Historic National Park, a concentration of important buildings and landmarks that include Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and Constitution Hall.

Other places of interest include the former homes of Betsy Ross and Edgar Allan Poe as well as the 300-year old Christ Church where George Washington and Benjamin Franklin once worshiped. Reputed to be haunted, the old Eastern State Penitentiary presents intriguing tours. The residential districts of Society Hill and Germantown are popular places to see the city’s colonial homes and architecture.

There’s a host of interesting art museums to visit in the city, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which is not only one of the largest in the world, but also famous for its long flight of steps which were featured in the 1976 film “Rocky”. Now that’s a claim to fame.

18. Sedona [SEE MAP]


Next to the Grand Canyon, Sedona is one of Arizona’s most sought after destinations . Located in the north-central part of the state, the town of Sedona is known for its vibrant art scene and spiritual retreats. However, Sedona’s most popular attraction is the breathtaking array of red sandstone formations that create a striking red and orange backdrop to the town. What’s more, this natural wonder also provides a wide variety of outdoor recreation as well as spiritual experiences for many.

Attracting artists, photographers, spiritual seekers and outdoor lovers alike, Sedona’s brilliant landscape offers much to see and do. Incredible natural landmarks like Coffeepot, Cathedral Rock, Thunder Mountain and Chimney Rock present excellent photograph and artistic opportunities. For an interesting slice of architecture, head to the Chapel of the Holy Cross; dating back to the 1950s, this Catholic church is actually built into one of the iconic buttes.

Sedona itself is a beautiful town, teeming in scores of golf courses, art galleries, gourmet restaurants and numerous boutiques specializing in everything from Native American arts and crafts to New Age healing crystals and alternative medicines.

17. San Diego [SEE MAP]

San Diego

Centered around a natural harbor, the coastal Californian city of San Diego is located on the border with Mexico . It’s rich in Mexican culture, outstanding family attractions and blessed with a year-round mild climate. As you’d expect, the city is a popular tourist destination.

See also: Where to Stay in San Diego

San Diego was established as California’s first Spanish mission in 1769, and visitors today can see some of the city’s preserved buildings in the Old Town historic district. The modern downtown pulses with shopping, dining and entertainment as well as points of interests like the San Diego Maritime Museum, which houses a collection of sailing ships including the world’s oldest active one, the Star of India. Other museums display the city’s natural history, art and relationship with the US Navy.

The most popular attraction in San Diego is America’s premier zoo, which is located in Balboa Park with flowering gardens and Spanish architecture. The city is home to other family attractions like SeaWorld San Diego and the Birch Aquarium. Another tourist magnet, San Diego’s stunning coastline, offers miles of fantastic beaches featuring an array of fun activities like surfing, sailing, whale-watching and seal-spotting. Some of the most popular beaches like La Jolla, Mission and Pacific Beaches have restaurants and shops, while Point Loma and Ocean Beach offer a more quiet setting.

16. Denali National Park [SEE MAP]

Denali National Park

Covering a massive expanse of mountainous land in Alaska , Denali National Park is the third largest national park in the United States. Home to Mt. McKinley, North America’s highest peak, this US national park is located in the Alaska Interior among the jagged mountains of the Alaska Range. The word “Denali” means “the high one” in the native Athabaskan language and refers to Mount McKinley. Scores of people come to Denali National Park every year to spot amazing wildlife, engage in a number of outdoor activities and awe over the breathtaking landscapes of majestic mountains, glaciers, rivers, lakes and tundras.

The park is enormous, and vast portions of it are only accessible by foot or dog sled. One single road, the Denali Park Road, winds several miles through the core of the park, connecting travelers to visitor centers, hiking trails and look-out points for wildlife and stunning panoramic views. Only the first few miles of the road are open to private vehicles. To go beyond, visitors must take park shuttle buses or arranged bus tours, of which many are narrated and informative.

Some of the amazing sights to see and photograph in the park include the magnificent Mt. McKinley, picturesque rivers and lakes like Savage River and Wonder Lake as well as outstanding wildlife species like grizzly bears, caribou and wolves. The park also presents thrilling outdoor activities and adventures like hiking, fishing, whitewater rafting and sled dog demonstrations.

Just outside of the Denali National Park entrance, visitors will find a number of hotels, restaurants, cafes, bars and souvenir shops, while within the park is a mercantile store selling camping supplies, groceries and other necessities.

15. New Orleans [SEE MAP]

New Orleans

Regarded as one of the most unique cities in the USA, New Orleans is widely known for its distinctive French Creole culture, cuisine, and architecture as well as jazz music and the annual Mardi Gras celebration. Situated in southeastern Louisiana , New Orleans is the state’s largest city and a major US seaport. Devastated by heavy flooding from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, New Orleans is now mostly recovered and remains one of the country’s top travel destinations.

Rich in history and diverse cultures, New Orleans is one of the oldest cities in the USA. The city’s historic architecture is one of its main draws, which is best seen in the popular French Quarter with its iron balconies and notable places like the French Market, St. Louis Cathedral, Jackson Square and the exhilarating Bourbon Street. Charming old neighborhoods also reflect the city’s roots with antebellum mansions and Creole cottages. Even the city’s historic cemeteries attract many with their elegant tombs, voodoo mystique and ghost tours.

Riverboat cruises, carriage rides and streetcars offer romantic and exciting ways to experience the splendor of New Orleans. Outside the bustling city, the moss-draped countryside and protected nature areas offer unforgettable experiences like boat rides through the swamps and tours of plantations and Civil War battlefields.

While New Orleans draws its biggest crowds during its famous Mardi Gras celebration, the city is known to always have a party going on at any time of the year with its plethora of bars, nightclubs and jazz clubs.

14. Niagara Falls [SEE MAP]

Niagara Falls

The world-famous Niagara Falls straddle Ontario in Canada and the American state of New York. Although it is often called the “Honeymoon Capital of the World,” Niagara Falls in recent years has also developed as a popular destination for family and adventure vacations. The magnificent beauty and enormous volume of Niagara Falls attracts millions every year from all over the world.

Located on the Niagara River, the falls are a culmination of the flow of water that gushes out of the Upper Great Lakes and are actually made up of three falls – Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls, and the Bridal Veil Falls. Six million cubic feet of water cascades over the ridge every second, making for an incredibly impressive site.

One of the best places to view the Niagara Falls on the Ontario side is from Queen Victoria Park where the Falls are illuminated and fireworks are displayed nightly during the summer.

There are several ways to experience Niagara Falls. One of the most popular is the Maid of the Mist boat tour that brings visitors close enough to feel the spray from the plunging cascades. Visitors can also walk along a boardwalk beside the rapids or enjoy a cable car ride overhead. For the adventurous, there are also jet boat and helicopter tours available.

13. Boston [SEE MAP]


One of the oldest cities in the USA, Boston is best known for its wealth of American history, architecture and academic institutions. The capital and largest city in Massachusetts as well as the largest city in the New England region, Boston is spectacular sight in spring and autumn with flowering trees and fall foliage.

As the setting of many historic events that led up to the American Revolution, including the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party, Boston is steeped in early American history. The city retains many historical landmarks from this time period such as Paul Revere’s house and the Old North Church, which sports the steeple that was used to signal a warning to the American patriots of the approaching British soldiers. Once the scene of the Boston Tea Party event, the Boston Harbor today is known for its lighthouses and festivals.

Just outside of Boston in the Cambridge neighborhood is the country’s oldest and most prestigious institute of higher learning, Harvard University. The city is also home to America’s oldest St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the country’s oldest public park as well as the famous pub from the television series, “Cheers.” The Charles River Esplanade and the Boston Harbor Islands State Park offer beautiful scenery and plenty of outdoor recreation.

12. Miami [SEE MAP]


One of the most vivacious cities in the USA, Miami is best known for its Latin culture and sizzling nightlife. Located in southeastern Florida off the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, Miami is also a major port city managing the world’s largest number of passenger cruise ships. Attracting tourists from all over the planet, Miami is a melting pot of ethnic cultures with a wide array of exciting attractions and activities .

One of Miami’s main draws is its sunny beaches that range from family resorts to party scenes and offer everything from water sports to shopping and entertainment. Across the bay from Miami on a barrier island is Miami Beach, known for its Art Deco architecture and glamorous South Beach. A visit to the beautiful Vizcaya Estate provides a glimpse into South Florida’s early 20th century history.

A must-do is visit the Everglades National Park to see one of the country’s most unique ecosystems that consists of swamps, sub-tropical jungles and flooded wetlands that are home to crocodiles, manatees and Florida panthers. A great way to experience the Everglades is by an airboat ride.

See also: Where to Stay in Miami

11. Seattle [SEE MAP]


Home to global giants like Boeing, Starbucks and Amazon, Seattle is the largest city of the USA’s Pacific Northwest region. Seattle is a coastal seaport city nicknamed the Emerald City due to its lush scenery resulting from a rainy climate. The skyline of Seattle is a thicket of towering skyscrapers. The crowning glory is the futuristic 605-foot (184-meter) tall Space Needle, built in 1962.

The city is known for its music scene – it gave the world Nirvana and other grunge bands like Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. You can read up on this – and more – at the city’s Museum of Pop Culture. It’s also famous for seafood, which you can try at the historic Pike Place Market. What’s more: the surrounding pine forests make for perfect hiking.

To learn about the city’s history, Pioneer Square and the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park offer historical buildings and artifacts. The Woodland Park Zoo and the Seattle Aquarium are outstanding places to encounter land and marine animals. At the Boeing Factory, tourists can watch airplanes being built. Urban parks and nature sanctuaries like Discovery Park and Green Lake offer hiking trails, outdoor adventure and wildlife. With close proximity to the mountains and ocean, Seattle tourists can enjoy hiking, skiing, sailing and kayaking.

10. Hawaii [SEE MAP]


Renowned around the world for its breathtaking beauty, Hawaii lies far off the coast of California in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Made up of 137 islands, the volcanic archipelago has long attracted tourists to its shores due to its stunning landscapes, beautiful beaches, and rich cultural heritage.

Hawaii really does boast a plethora of natural wonders. The rugged NaPali Coast, plunging Waimea Canyon, and idyllic Waikiki Beach count among its most famous sights. Due to all the magnificent scenery, it’s worth spending as much time as possible outdoors, either hiking among the volcanoes, surfing the surrounding waves, or snorkeling above its colorful coral reefs.

As it was the last state to join the US in 1959, the islands still retain much of their unique Hawaiian identity. Visitors can immerse themselves in Hawaii’s rich culture and heritage while staying at any one of the luxury resorts that dot the archipelago. Of its many islands, Oahu, Maui, and Kauai are the most popular due to their natural beauty and abundance of tourist attractions.

9. Orlando [SEE MAP]


Home to world famous theme parks like Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, Orlando is no doubt a favorite destination for family vacations. Located in central Florida, Orlando is a place where dreams and magic become reality. With several amusement parks, visitors to Orlando can meet their favorite storybook characters, reenact live famous movie scenes, ride thrilling roller coasters and watch dolphins and whales performing marvelous tricks.

However, there is much more to Orlando than just the theme parks. The downtown area features pedestrian streets lined with shops, restaurants, bars and comedy clubs. Botanic gardens and conservation parks showcase Florida’s amazing flora and fauna from orchids to alligators. What’s more, Orlando and its surrounding area is a paradise for sports lovers. Lakes and streams teeming in trophy fish are a sport fishing paradise, and golfers will be spoiled for choice among the numerous golf clubs and courses.

8. Washington DC [SEE MAP]

Washington DC

The capital of the United States and seat of the federal government, Washington is a city located on the country’s East Coast in the District of Columbia. A cosmopolitan city that is home to many diverse cultures, Washington is widely known by its many iconic landmarks like the White House, Capitol Building, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. Many of these monuments, along with others like the Vietnam War Memorial and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, are all located within the beautifully landscaped parkland known as the National Mall, one of the city’s most visited sites.

Washington boasts a large number of important museums, many of which are comprised within the Smithsonian Institute, the world’s largest research and museum compound. The National Zoo, historic churches and the colonial architecture of the Georgetown neighborhood are other popular things to see while visiting Washington. A good way to experience the main attractions of Washington is to take the hop-on hop-off trolley. A popular day trip from Washington is an excursion to the nearby Civil War battlefield of Gettysburg.

7. Los Angeles [SEE MAP]

Los Angeles

The second-largest city in the USA, Los Angeles is located in southern California surrounded by the Pacific Coast, mountains and valleys. Often regarded as the “Entertainment Capital of the World”, LA is awash with celebrity culture. You can see the handprints of film stars on Hollywood Boulevard or go on a tour to see stars’ homes in Beverly Hills.

See also: Where to Stay in Los Angeles

For laid back days there’s the bohemian neighborhood of Venice Beach, home to Muscle Beach and a rambling promenade that doubles as a stage for all sorts of quirky street performers. The seafront city of Santa Moncia also offers a more relaxed pace of life with its old pier and aquarium. LA is also home to the world’s first Disneyland – great news if you’re traveling with children!

Some of the city’s most popular attractions include the Getty Center, regarded as America’s finest art museum, the Kodak Theater, host of the Academy Awards, and Universal Studios Hollywood. The Grove Farmer’s Market is a pedestrian paradise of shopping and entertainment, while Griffith Park and Knott’s Berry Farm are both fantastic family attractions.

6. Chicago [SEE MAP]


Nicknamed the “Windy City” and best known for its towering skyscrapers, sports teams and unique style of hot dogs and pizzas, Chicago is the third-largest city in the USA. Located on Lake Michigan in the heart of the Midwest region in northeastern Illinois , Chicago is a major hub for finance, industry, and commerce. The city’s numerous sites range from the futuristic Millennium Park and the iconic Sears Tower to the Navy Pier with its parks, restaurants, and amusements. Numerous genres of music such as Jazz, Blues, and House music have roots in the live music venues around Chicago.

Chicago is a huge city with many ethnic neighborhoods and a buzzing downtown district that is quite walkable. A stroll downtown offers views of impressive skyscrapers, upscale malls, quaint shops, restaurants, bakeries and numerous hot dog stands selling the city’s distinctive beef frankfurter served on a poppy-seed bun with pickle relish, tomatoes, onion and yellow mustard.

Rich in American history, Chicago has many historic sites including Old St. Patrick’s Church, one of the buildings that survived the city’s Great Fire of 1871. Another historic site, the Cadillac Palace Theater, is worth a visit just for its exquisite interior. First opened in 1926, the theater still presents Broadway shows today.

Home to several major attractions, Grant Park is a huge, sprawling public park with beautiful gardens and recreational facilities as well as Buckingham Fountain, one of the largest fountains in the world.

5. Yellowstone [SEE MAP]


Yellowstone National Park was the world’s first national park, set aside in 1872 to preserve the vast number of geysers, hot springs, and other thermal areas, as well as to protect the incredible wildlife and rugged beauty of the area. Yellowstone lies on top of a gigantic hotspot where light, hot, molten mantle rock rises towards the surface. Subsequently, the park contains half of all the world’s known geothermal features, with more than 10,000 examples of geysers and hot springs.

The most famous geyser in the park is Old Faithful Geyser. It is one of the most predictable geographical features on earth erupting almost every 91 minutes. The largest hot spring in Yellowstone and the third largest in the world is the Grand Prismatic Spring. The vivid colors in the spring are the result of pigmented bacteria that grow around the edges of the mineral-rich water. The bacteria produce colors ranging from green to red. The center of the pool is sterile due to extreme heat.

In addition to all the geothermal features Yellowstone is also home to one of the finest megafauna wildlife habitats in North America. Black bears, grizzly bears, deer, elk, bison and wolves can all be found within the park borders.

4. Las Vegas [SEE MAP]

Las Vegas

You wouldn’t think a city in the middle of the desert in Nevada would be as popular as it is, but it’s thanks to the cavalcade of casinos here that Las Vegas is so famous. The most well-known casinos themselves are practically household names: Caesar’s Palace, MGM Grand, the Bellagio. In addition to gambling, show girls and lavish performances, Las Vegas offers plenty more to suit people of all ages and interests. On the main street called the Strip, there are the Bellagio’s impressive fountain shows, a replica of the Eiffel Tower and of an Egyptian pyramid, among other landmarks.

Golfers will be happy to know there are more than 55 golf courses in and around Las Vegas. Just outside the city are state parks offering rock climbing and hiking trails. Also nearby is Lake Mead, which provides a variety of water sports.

See also: Where to Stay in Las Vegas

3. San Francisco [SEE MAP]

San Francisco

Set on the tip of a peninsula, San Francisco is a beautiful city in northern California that is famous for a lot (and we really mean a lot) of things. Undoubtedly, the Golden Gate Bridge is the city’s number one attraction . Tourists can drive, bike ride or walk across this famous suspension bridge to admire and photograph stunning views. Another of the city’s most prominent landmarks are its historic cable cars, which present a memorable way to experience the steep inclines and main tourist attractions.

See also: Where to Stay in San Francisco

San Francisco is a city rich in history and culture known for its lovely Victorian homes and ethnic neighborhoods, of which Chinatown is the most famous with its colorful array of shops and markets. A popular waterfront district lined with souvenir shops and seafood restaurants, Fisherman’s Wharf is where tourists can take a ferry to Alcatraz Island to tour the notorious prison.

2. Grand Canyon [SEE MAP]

Grand Canyon

Attracting millions of visitors every year, the Grand Canyon is one of the great tourist attractions in the United States . Located in northern Arizona, this massive natural wonder was carved by the Colorado River over a period of several million years and now measures 277 miles (446 km) long, over a mile (1.6 km) deep and up to 18 miles (29 km) wide. It is not the deepest or the longest canyon in the world but the overwhelming size and colorful landscape offers visitor vistas that are hard to match.

Managed and protected by the Grand Canyon National Park , the Grand Canyon is contained within the national park as well as within the Hualapai and Havasupai Indian Reservations. Awe-inspiring landscapes, wildlife viewing, historic sites and adventurous activities are just a few of the reasons that make the Grand Canyon one of the world’s most famous natural wonders.

The Canyon is divided by two main sections, the popular South Rim and the remote North Rim. As the most accessible part for tourists, the South Rim features many historic sites such as the El Tovar Hotel, Grand Canyon Railway Depot and the Desert View Watchtower. Also in the South Rim is the Grand Canyon Village where many tourists can find ample lodging.

There are numerous well-marked trails to try out, including the South Kaibab Trail. If you want a really long hike, go for the Rim-to-Rim Trail but don’t forget to pack plenty of water, this is an unrelenting desert climate, after all.

One of the most popular attractions in the Canyon is Havasu Falls, a spectacular waterfall that plummets 120 feet (37 meters) into a natural swimming pool of turquoise water. Other sights and experiences opportunities in the Canyon include whitewater rafting, jeep tours, helicopter rides and the Skywalk, a glass sightseeing structure extending 4,000 feet (1,200 meters) over the rim of the Grand Canyon.

1. New York City [SEE MAP]

#1 of Best Places To Visit In Usa

The jewel in the crown of the USA when it comes to urban areas, New York is a megacity that is absolutely packed full of iconic places, areas, and buildings. World renowned for its concentration of skyscrapers and famous attractions , New York City is what many foreigners often visualize when they think of the USA. In fact, sometimes it feels like you’re walking through familiar territory, thanks to how often the city features in Hollywood films.

Even the “Five Boroughs” that make up NYC are famous (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, Staten Island). Then there’s the culture: Koreatown, multiple Chinatowns, the remnants of Little Italy, and communities from Jewish to African American make New York a true world city made rich by the people who’ve flocked here from all over the world.

Some of New York’s most notable landmarks that can be toured include the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and the Rockefeller Center. One of the city’s most important historical sites is Ellis Island, where millions of immigrants first arrived in America.

New York is also home to some of the most distinguished museums and art galleries in the world such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum and the American Museum of Natural History. Additionally, Manhattan’s Theater District is world known with its collection of Broadway theaters and other entertainment venues. Throbbing with flashing neon lights and glittering billboards, Times Square is the city’s dazzling entertainment district where tourists can catch a Broadway performance and shop for souvenirs.

For those who need to catch their breath from all the hustle and bustle of New York City, Central Park is the answer with its wide open green spaces, gardens, wooded paths and outdoor recreation.

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Reader interactions.

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June 1, 2017 at 7:02 am

Now I just want to go to visit New York City

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May 12, 2017 at 9:05 pm

@Lindy… how dare u downplay Atlanta and include a NO NAME place such as Lynchburg??? GOH.

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February 7, 2017 at 9:34 am

By all means, visit Lexington, KY. Come during the Keeneland spring or summer meets. You’ve never visited a more economical and beautiful racetrack. Lots of hotels in all price ranges. Visit a horse farm. Visit multiple distilleries on the Bourbon Trail. Don’t miss the home of Mary Todd Lincoln, right downtown; tours are economical and high quality. Ride out through the horse farms. Take a daytrip to lovely little Midway for shops and independently owned restaurants.

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January 25, 2017 at 1:44 pm

It really depends on what you are looking for but Santa Fe NM, Tuscon AZ and Austin TX are great places to visit. And how did Savannah get picked over Charleston SC? Almost any American would pick Charleston over Savannah. A couple of these places baffle me as to how they made this list. Atlanta? Denver? Denver is just a place to fly into to go somewhere else. Lynchburg VA and Lexington KY are beautiful, fun places, to name a few. I have been to 47 of the 50 states. I am very confident in my comment.

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January 3, 2017 at 12:52 pm

I think one of the most interesting cities in America is Memphis, TN. From Rendezvous Ribs to Beale Street and BB King, to the Peabody hotel and on to Elvis’s Grace Land, there is more to do in this city than most people realize.

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February 24, 2016 at 6:14 am

@Rigo, She didn’t mention Orlando? Keep your bias to yourself, she said New Orleans. There’s also a lot of stuff in Orlando you won’t get in LA. Less traffic, cleaner air, generally people are not as rude, hotter, Disney in Orlando may not be the ‘original’ but is far far superior to Disney in Cali as is Universal.

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November 20, 2014 at 10:21 pm

Don’t worry Jess you can visit Disneyland(the original), California Adventure(across from Disneyland, and part of it), Universal Studios Hollywood(also original) and even the original six flags magic mountain while in Los Angeles, even San Diego its just an hour and a half drive from Los Angeles you can’t get all that in Orlando. Las Vegas is a short 4hrs drive through the Mojave desert rent a car it might be cheaper and on the way there you can stop at calico ghost town. Good luck and welcome to California enjoy your stay 😉

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November 13, 2014 at 4:55 am

I totally agree with this list! Can’t believe I’ll be going to four cities in this list in about a year. Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco and New York City. Flying all the way from Malaysia. Feelin’ so blessed, but I’ll have to wait for the visa exemption first. Thinking of going to New Orleans if possible, but I’m short of cash. I’ve only got enough for the four cities; tough luck for me.

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May 20, 2014 at 7:52 am

i loved all these pictures, especially from Orlando

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The Planet D: Adventure Travel Blog

27 Best Places To Visit In Summer In The USA (2024 Vacation Ideas For Everyone)

Written By: ThePlanetD Team

United States

Updated On: April 5, 2024

The US is a great place to be when summer hits. You’ve got the hiking trails in national parks like Acadia National Park and Rocky Mountains National Park. There are the west coast beaches and major cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego. And that’s all without considering the delicious cuisine of New Orleans and the historic East Coast, with New York and Washington DC. Wherever you go in the US this summer, you will find a slightly different personality in each region.

Table of Contents

Best Summer Vacations in the USA

Best Summer Vacations in the USA

In this guide, we’ll introduce you to the best summer vacations in the USA. A summer vacation is often a highlight of your year. It’s the chance to explore a new national park, city, or road trip. Summer is about building memories and making new connections, enjoying the sunshine that has spread across most of the USA. Sure, these places might be busier in summer, but seeing them in their full glory makes the extra crowds worth dealing with.

There’s so much to do in the USA in summer; these top 27 places will help you create memories of a lifetime. With any of these amazing spots, you’ll have the ‘best summer ever.’

1. New York City

Places to visit in Summer in The USA New York city

People rave about visiting New York in the fall and winter when the city comes to life with Christmas markets and festivity. But when it comes to the ‘city that never sleeps’, you best believe it makes full use of all those extra daylight hours. New York is one of the most fun, activity-stuffed summer vacations. As a summer getaway, New York City has so much to offer. It has pop-up events like movie screenings in Bryant Park, and even things like visiting rooftop bars become more pleasant, with longer evenings and later sunsets.

Places to visit in Summer  NYC

New York is one of our favorite cities. We have endless resources you can scroll through, including a guide on the ultimate one-day itinerary and a guide on our all-time-favorite things to do. In summer, you should especially check out the city’s green spaces (Central Park becomes even more sought-after) as well as day-tripping to some of its nearby beaches.

New York is fantastic to visit in the summer months because of its late-night events, proximity to beaches, and spacious green spaces.

Insider Tip: Check out beaches like Coney Island and Brighton Beach.

Where to Stay: Here’s our thorough guide on where to stay in New York City , plus our favorite hotel, Park Hyatt New York.

2. Napa Valley

Places to visit in the Summer Napa Valley

Napa Valley is California’s wine country. And while this beautiful area of more than 475 vineyards and countryside towns is gorgeous all year round, summer is special. The Napa harvest season runs from August to October, meaning if you visit in August to early September you’ll visit at the height of the action. With warmer weather, you’ll have long, hot afternoons to look forward to. It’s a heavenly time to visit and indulge in wine tasting with cheese and olives.

Many vineyards are within walking distance of Napa Valley’s main towns, including Rutherford, Napa, Yountville, and Oakville. You can also enjoy activities like hot air ballooning , more reliable flights in better weather, and romantic excursions like horseback riding.

Insider Tip: If you want to dodge the main crowds, visit at the back end of summer in September or October.

Where to Stay: The Estate Yountville.

3. Las Vegas

Places for summer vacation in the USA Las Vegas

Bizarrely enough, summer is a quiet time for Las Vegas, which contradicts many of the other destinations we have highlighted. Most of the tourism is concentrated on the spring and fall seasons, with tourists avoiding the summer heat. As temperatures can reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in summer months, you can see why it can put some people off.

However, if you’re selective in your sightseeing , there’s no reason you can’t enjoy Las Vegas as one of the best summer vacations in the USA. The lack of crowds is already a great start. Since much of Vegas is seen at night when temperatures are cooler, the city is actually well-suited to a summer vacation. You can enjoy attractions like the Neon Museum and the Mob Museum. And you can still take day trips to Death Valley National Park or Emerald Cave – just do so as early as possible in the morning to beat those crazy midday temperatures.

Places to visit in Summer Death Valley National Park

Las Vegas doesn’t follow a rule book, so why should you? Just shake up the norms around sightseeing times and book accommodation with aircon and a pool; you’ll love Vegas in summer, especially if you are a sun lover. And, if you feel like you can skip flying to Europe, seeing the Eiffel Tower in Vegas is a fabulous compromise.

Insider Tip: Keep outdoor sightseeing to the earliest hours you can manage.

Where to Stay: Here’s our thorough guide on Where to Stay in Las Vegas: Best Places and Areas and our favorite hotel is The Bellagio .

4. Bryce Canyon National Park

Places to visit in the Summer USA Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon is gorgeous in summer. We actually listed the national park as one of the best places to visit in spring with a small caveat: you are an experienced hiker and driver in icy conditions. Bryce Canyon National Park is slow to warm up, so if you’d prefer easy access, waiting until summer is ideal. It has plenty of shaded trails that experience long, crisp mornings even in the height of summer. And there’s even a free shuttle service in the summer season.

If you are looking for somewhere where you can enjoy hiking trails and dramatic Utah rock formations, Bryce Canyon National Park is our top recommendation. You can breeze through the easy Sunset Point Trail or tackle the classic, and more difficult, Navajo Loop.

Best Places for Summer Vacation. in the USA Bryce Canyon

Yes, Bryce Canyon is at its busiest in June, July, and August, but this is for good reason. You won’t be contending with ice and difficult accessibility. And if you are a solo hiker, these crowds can be preferable for safety in numbers. For the inexperienced and freshly solo, this national park wiggled its way onto our list as one of the best summer vacations. If you are in the area make sure to check out our guide to Utah National Parks: How to visit The Mighty 5 .

Insider Tip: Visit in September to October if you’d prefer fewer crowds.

Where to Stay: Brian Head Lodge .

5. Outer Banks

Places to visit in the Summer USA Outer Banks North Carolina

North Carolina’s Outer Banks are a timeless place to spend a summer vacation. The Outer Banks are a collection of barrier islands that start by the North Carolina-Virginia border and stretch all the way down to Ocracoke Island. They extend over 175 miles and are full of gorgeous beaches with deep blue waters.

In summer, you’ll see Cape Hatteras National Seashore at its absolute best, and you can enjoy leisurely strolls to both Cape Hatteras and Bodie Island Lighthouses. The Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge is also a haven for migratory and endangered birds. Keep your eyes peeled for warblers, sparrows, and waxwings if you’re lucky.

The Outer Banks are perfect for anyone who wants to experience beach-style summer vacations. It is also ideal for the more adventurous, especially those passionate about water-related activities and wildlife conservation. The Outer Banks are quiet and not overly developed, with just a few small towns along its length.

Insider Tip: Make sure to see the wild horses on the Outer Banks. You can take a guided tour or go it alone.

Where to Stay: Check out Island Motel OBX .

6. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains NAtional Park Summer Vacation Destinations in the USA

The Great Smoky Mountains stretch between Tennessee and North Carolina and are a region of legendary wilderness. The mountains clocked their name for their trademark low-lying mist, which typically cloaks the forested ridges in the early morning. The national park is home to over 1,500 black bears and more than 200 varieties of birds. And that’s before you even begin to think about the over 4,000 different types of plant varieties. Regarding conservation and natural beauty, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is in a league of its own.

You can tackle sections of the Appalachian Trail and enjoy warmer temperatures by cooling off in swimming holes like the Wye and Sinks. Summer brings many water-related activities, from white water rafting through dense forests and shaded trails to hidden waterfalls like Laurel Falls. While if wildlife sightseeing is your main draw, driving Cades Cove Loop Road is a great bet, and bears and deer are most active in summer.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the best summer vacations for nature lovers. The whole 500,000-plus acres spring into life in the summer, with wildlife more active and water activities more enjoyable.

Insider Tip: Drive Cades Cove Loop Road to spot black bears.

Where to Stay: Best Western Plus Apple Valley Lodge Pigeon Force.

Places to visit in Summer in The USA Chicago

Thanks to its scenic location along Lake Michigan, Chicago is a beautiful place to visit for a summer vacation. It has miles of sandy beaches along the lakefront and plentiful green spaces in the city, like Millenium Park. In warm weather, it’s one of the best summer vacation spots.

The city is rammed with things to do and tasty dishes to eat ; it’s famous for its Italian-influenced cuisine and killer pizzas, which you can enjoy al fresco in the sunshine. There’s also no better time to stroll the Chicago Riverwalk or take a boat tour. Chicago has a fast-paced personality, and if you don’t believe us, just check out the festivals coming up this summer.

Chicago Illinois Places to visit in Summer in The USA

Given its location on Lake Michigan, it would be a crime not to day trip to nearby towns and cities when staying in Chicago. Remember that Milwaukee has Summerfest , too. We love summers in Chicago because of its lakeside location and endless festivities.

Insider Tip: Make sure to snag tickets for Milwaukee’s Summerfest.

Where to Stay: Here’s our guide on where to stay . We’d particularly recommend Pendry Hotel.

8. Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

Best Places to visit in Summer Colonial Williamsburg Virginia USA

History buffs, this is your time to shine. Colonial Williamsburg is the USA’s largest-ever outdoor living museum and whisks visitors back to the 18th century. The museum spans 301 acres, with two separate art museums, historic taverns, and exhibits. It’s set in a historic district within Williamsburg, and you can walk around for free. Williamsburg was one of America’s first-ever ‘planned cities’ by British colonialists, so it’s a momentous place to visit and comprehend this part of the USA’s history.

In summer, the action at Colonial Williamsburg is in full flow. You’ll see all the actors out engaging with visitors, and you’ll enjoy warmer weather to walk the streets. We’d advise against walking around in the midday heat. Still, you can plan the walking aspects for the early morning and then spend midday to early afternoon in indoor attractions, like the art museums. You can also tour Colonial Williamsburg after dark too, with haunted tours.

Colonial Williamsburg has a unique history to embrace this summer. You’ll love the experience; an outdoor museum is the perfect way to enjoy the sunshine.

Insider Tip: Plan your timings and itinerary around the hottest parts of the day, especially when visiting with children.

Where to Stay: Club Wyndham Kingsgate.

Best Summer Vacation Ideas Boston Mass

Boston is another option for history-loving summer vacation seekers. It is full of beautiful Victorian-style buildings and is brimming with Revolution history. Boston also sits on the East Coast, and it’s another place that gets off to a slow start when it comes to warming up in spring. The Atlantic breeze keeps temperatures reasonably low, meaning waiting until summer to catch Boston in warmer temperatures is best.

Boston is massively walkable if you stay downtown, so much so that it’s been nicknamed ‘America’s Walking City’. Chinatown, Beacon Hill, and Back Bay are all within easy walking distance of the city’s downtown region. And in summer, the warm weather makes Boston’s walkability even more appealing, so grab your comfiest walking shoes.

Best Places to visit in the Summer USA Boston

You can enjoy plenty of outdoor activities in summer , like kayaking the Charles River or strolling James P. Kelleher Rose Garden. There are also scenic trails around the waterfront and history-themed attractions like the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum.

For us, Boston’s walkability is partly what makes it such an entertaining city. And there’s no doubt that summer is the best time to go strolling and experience Boston’s history.

Insider Tip: Don’t forget to walk the Harvard campus.

Where to Stay: The Newbury Boston .

10. Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest

Best Places to Visit in Summer Uinta Wasatch-Cache National Forest

If you want the best summer in the great outdoors, Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest is a beautiful choice for a summer vacation. The national forest is just outside of Salt Lake City in Utah and is an accessible choice for a summer trip combined with a city break. While previously the forest was a relatively unsung tourist destination, more and more people have clocked onto its beauty. It is a bit Banff-esque, with jutting peaks that keep their snow caps way into late spring and alpine lakes. And by summer, the wildlife is in full swing.

Little Deer Creek Falls is magnificent, as is the gorgeous Amethyst Lake. You can go horseback riding, cycling, or hiking. Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest has dozens of hidden waterfalls and alpine lakes, with more challenging mountain peaks for the more experienced hikers and climbers. Mount Timpanogos via Timpooneke Trail is particularly stunning in summer.

We’d suggest fully embracing the wilderness with a camping vacation in the forest. It’s a brilliant time to safely access an area of extreme natural beauty.

Insider Tip: Late summer is typically best for dodging inevitable mosquitos.

Where to Stay: The Lodge at Snowbird.

11. Galveston

Best Places to Visit in the Summer USA Galveston Texas

Galveston is beautifully situated on the Gulf Coast of Texas, and if you aren’t sold on Texas as a summer destination, prepare for that to change. Galveston is an island city on a barrier island blessed with miles of beaches and the gorgeous Galveston Island State Park with bird watching and boardwalks. Galveston is where to go for bird watching, fresh seafood, and pristine beaches.

In summer, you can experience Galveston’s beaches at their best. You could even enter the AIA Sandcastle Competition, which has been running for over 35 years. Regarding bird watching, it’s also an excellent time for frigatebirds, scissor-tailed flycatchers, and painted buntings. Head out with some binoculars to Galveston Island State Park and work on your tan while spotting some of the USA’s prettiest summer birds.

Galveston is, without a doubt, a brilliant beach destination for summer vacations, and it has the added bonus of fantastic bird watching. It’s a popular Texas getaway for anyone in the know.

Insider Tip: Bring binoculars and long-lens cameras so you don’t miss out on smaller or distant birds.

Where to Stay: Virginia Point INN.

Best Places to Visit in Summer USa Miami Beach

We cannot have a list of summer vacation spots and not feature Miami. Miami is a little bit ‘love it or hate it,’ but that’s all part of its spunky aesthetic. There’s nothing more classic than Miami’s South Beach, with its art deco beach infrastructure. And in summer, Miami is in full flow . You can enjoy all of its beach culture, surfing, and sunbathing. The weather is perfect for day-tripping to enjoy the nearby Key Biscayne and Biscayne National Park.

best places to visit the usa

Now, it is a well-known fact that summer spells hurricane season. However, July is the odd one out here, as the driest month of the year. With heat and record dry days, it’s a popular time to visit Miami, and one we’d also recommend if you want to experience the city in its summertime glory.

Insider Tip: Sign up for hurricane and weather alerts.

Where to Stay: Here’s our guide on where to stay in Miami , plus our favorite Bentley Beach Club .

13. Atlantic City

Best Places to Visit in Summertime Atlantic City

Atlantic City is a fun resort city on the New Jersey shore. It initially sprang up in the 19th century as a health resort – somewhere to head to the coast in summer for fresh air and sea. Now, Atlantic City has hit its rebellious years and instead offers a hotbed of nightclubs and casinos. It’s where to book a summer vacation if you want party culture in a less-trodden spot. Think of a quieter, coastal Vegas.

In summer, you get the most out of Atlantic City’s location, with the gorgeous boardwalk and beach access . And when it gets to midday heat, you can dash into the cooling shade of the Central Pier Arcade or cool off at Island Waterpark.

Atlantic City got our vote for its fun, party atmosphere. Plus, it is less than 2.5 hours away from New York City by car and is pretty accessible.

Insider Tip: Visit the bizarre building, Lucy the Elephant.

Where to Stay: Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City.

14. Lewes, Delaware

Fun Places to Visit in Summer Lewes Delaware

Lewes is tiny, a coastal blip on Delaware’s Atlantic coastline. It has a pretty big story behind it, though, as the site of the first European settlement in Delaware and a once-thriving Dutch trading post. The arrival of colonists was short-lived, though, when all settlers were killed in 1632. Despite its complex early days, the town offers far more than just colonial tales and maritime history. The town is surrounded by nature, including Cape Henlopen State Park and Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge.

The history of Lewes is best appreciated by walking the area and its surrounding nature, which is what scored it our vote as one of the best summer vacations. The warm weather helps you to spend more time outdoors and understand Lewes better. There are some cracking beaches nearby, too, like Savannah and Johnnie Walker Beach.

Insider Tip: Check out Lewes’ breweries.

Where to Stay: Home2Suites by Hilton Lewes Rehoboth Beach.

15. Olympic National Park

Best Places for a summer vacation Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park is stunning. Situated right by the Canada border, separated from Vancouver Island only by the Salish Sea, Olympic National Park is famed for its old-growth rainforests. You can walk through the magic Hall of Mosses , which only stretches less than a mile but has drooping ferns and dramatically hanging green moss from gnarled trees. It’s like something out of a fairy tale.

In summer, you can enjoy camping and hiking in Olympic National Park with warmer temperatures and lesser rainfall on your side. And if you still want some element of summer beach vacation, it also has the nearby La Push beaches with the famous Hole-In-The-Wall.

Best summer vacation ideas USA Olympic NP

Summer is the best time to experience Olympic National Park and embrace even more of its usual magic, with leaping salmon if you visit in September and more active wildlife across the season. It’s also warm enough to enjoy its beaches better.

Insider Tip: Take the ferry to Victoria from Port Angeles to sneak in a visit to Canada as well.

Where to Stay: Pacific Inn Motel.

16. Grand Teton National Park

Fun Places to Visit in Summer Grand Teton

Now, we will mention Yellowstone, but it would be totally amiss of us not to mention Grand Teton National Park as well. These two national parks are only a couple of hours apart. Yet, they both offer an entirely different experience and outdoor activities. Grand Teton National Park is glaciated rather than volcanic like Yellowstone.

Grand Teton is a fertile region of glaciated mountains with dramatic crags and sharp ridges from centuries-old ice shaping. Its pastures now feed thousands of moose, elk, and bison. In summer, tourists can drive the park’s scenic 42-mile loop and spot wildlife out their window. You can also easily enjoy water activities like kayaking on Jenny Lake and warm weather hikes.

Much of the park closes between late fall and spring, so summer is the best time to thoroughly access Grand Teton National Park. If you want ‘full access,’ we’d suggest visiting between June and early September.

Insider Tip: Extend your stay to combine both national parks in one visit.

Where to Stay: The Virginian Lodge.

17. Orlando

Best Family Places To visit in summer USA Orlando Florida

Orlando isn’t known for its breathtaking scenery in a natural sense. Instead, the Florida mega city is famous for its theme parks, including Magic Kingdom and its colossal Disney castle. You could easily spend a week exploring the different theme parks and rollercoasters , making it one of the best summer vacation spots for anyone wanting to let their hair down. It’s an ideal city choice if you love theme parks and the thrill of rollercoasters.

Undoubtedly, summers are a busy time for Orlando, especially given the school holidays and kids’ appeal. We’d suggest visiting in June if you want a quieter experience or in early September when most schools have returned.

You can also take some great day trips from Orlando, like to the Kennedy Space Center or Blue Springs State Park, to snorkel with a manatee. It’s an ideal summer vacation for anyone wanting to balance theme park fun with a few cool Florida experiences.

Insider Tip: Research passes and theme park discounts.

Where to Stay: Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Resort.

18. San Francisco

Places to visit in Summer San Francisco

San Francisco is a golden child of the West Coast. It is mainly known for its foggy conditions, with plenty of – slightly eerie – photos of the Golden Gate Bridge shrouded in mist. It has a bit of a microclimate, with different neighborhoods experiencing different weather simultaneously because of wind patterns from its Pacific Coast location. However, the summer weather transforms the city into one of the US’ best summer vacation spots.

Places to visit in summer USA San Fran

Fisherman’s Wharf becomes even more pleasant to walk around, as does Golden Gate Park. And there are festivals galore, from the Union Street Festival to the 4th of July celebrations. The outdoor Sundown Cinema also pops up in Dolores Park. At the same time, beach lovers can enjoy spectacular beaches like Baker Beach and Mile Rock Beach.

Like New York City, San Fran is a city that shakes itself into action over the summer, utilizing its precious green spaces and beaches. These are all the great things to do in San Francisco .

Insider Tip: Allow a few days in case of the ‘return of the fog’.

Where to Stay: Here’s where to stay in San Fran , plus its best hotel, the Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco.

19. Glacier National Park

Best Places to visit in the summer USa Glacier NAtional Park

Glacier National Park is gorgeous, with sloping mountain spikes cloaked in ice and acres of alpine meadows dotted with wildflowers. If outdoor adventures are your thing, Glacier National Park really comes into its own for summer vacations. There are over 700 miles of trails to hike . With the summer temperatures underway, these are all now accessible without ice and snow underfoot.

You can hike to Grinnell Glacier, complete the Trail of the Cedars, admire multi-colored rocks in Lake McDonald, and see 35-foot Saint Mary Falls.

Glacier National Park is a real gateway into Montana, with mountain goats, grizzlies, and moose. Summer is when all these residents are most active too, so you’ll have a whale of a time choosing this park as your summer vacation.

Insider Tip: Bring bear spray – enough said.

Where to Stay: Moss Mountain Inn.

20. Zion National Park

Best Places to take a summer vacation in the USa Zion Canyon

Zion National Park , we’ll admit that we are obsessed. Like many of the beautiful national parks in southern Utah, Zion National Park is a slow starter for thawing out after winter. Spring is a tricky time as there is still ice on trails (which is a pain for sketchier routes like Angels Landing). You get all the snow melt, which makes trails like the Narrows inadvisable full of all but the most experienced hikers.

All of these factors combine to make Zion perfect for your summer vacation. Summer travelers get an easier version of the park, and if you visit in early summer, like June, you’ll still dodge the worst of the crowds. It’s incredible what waiting those extra couple of months can do regarding trail accessibility in Zion. And that’s what makes it one of the best summer vacation spots.

You can hike Angels Landing with safer footing, wade happily through the now-lower Narrows, and make your way to the Emerald Pools. Zion is all about outdoor adventure, so you want to be able to enjoy it.

Insider Tip: If you want to hike the major trails like Angels Landing, research the lottery permits beforehand.

Where to Stay: Here’s where to stay in Zion National Park . Our top choice is Zion Villa .

21. The CA-1 Section of the Pacific Coast Highway

Best Places to visit in the summer PCH

Road trip, anyone? Some of the best summer vacations are road trips. While Route 66 is officially in its ‘too hot’ territory, the breezy CA-1 section of the Pacific Coast Highway is perfect. The highway stretches from just north of San Francisco to Capistrano Beach, covering roughly three-quarters of the Californian coastline. You pass Santa Cruz, with its die-hard surfer culture, and Monterey , with its sea lion kayaking experiences. There’s also McWay Falls – an 80-foot mammoth of a sight – and gorgeous beaches along Santa Barbara. And that’s all without mentioning the Pacific Coast Highway’s famed bridges.

Places for a summer vacation in the USA Pacific Coast Highway

If you tackle the entire stretch , we would allow around a week. It covers a whopping 600 miles. You want to be able to take your time driving and stop as much as you’d like without rushing to clock up your miles for the day, so lean towards more days.

Insider Tip: Definitely carve out time to go kayaking with sea lions in Monterey.

Where to Stay: Alila Ventana Big Sur.

22. San Diego

Top places to visit in summer San Diego

San Diego is beautiful in summer, with easy access to a long chain of beaches like Silver Strand and Imperial Beach. The city is fast rising in popularity because of its year-round good weather, and summer is no exception. It’s as close to Mexico as you can possibly get in terms of climate and summer sunbathing, located right near the border in Southern California.

You can make the most of the sunshine with beach days , relax shopping around Seaport Village in the San Diego harbor, and go sightseeing around Balboa Park. We love the amount of outdoor space, which makes San Diego one of the best summer vacations.

To seriously dodge the crowds, we suggest visiting San Diego in September, which is quieter. Otherwise, as a second city compared to glitzy LA, San Diego is always pleasant to visit in terms of fewer crowds.

Insider Tip: Make sure you day trip to a few different beaches.

Where to Stay: Here’s where to stay in San Diego and our top recommendation, Pantai Inn.

23. Grand Canyon National Park

Places to visit in Summer Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park is easily one of the most popular summer vacations in the USA and is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. The warmer weather means easier driving conditions – wave goodbye to gritted teeth and icy roads – and in May, the North Rim reopens to tourists after its seasonal closure. The incredible weather is perfect for hiking stunning trails like South Kaibab and South Rim Trail. You should still dodge most crowds if you get there early, in June rather than July or August.

Family Summer Vacation Ideas Grand Canyon

We’d also recommend summer hiking in Grand Canyon National Park because of the extended daylight hours. You have sunsets later, meaning more time to polish off your activities for the day and then head to a scenic lookout.

You’ll be able to enjoy the gorgeous North Rim, more daylight hours, and easier access. If you visit in June, you won’t have to compromise with crowd density and trail traffic.

Insider Tip: Be mindful of exposed trails in the midday heat and always abide by safety advice.

Where to Stay: Here’s where to stay near the Grand Canyon . We’d particularly recommend El Tovar Hotel .

24. Rocky Mountain National Park

Best Places to visit in Summer Rocky Mountains

Who doesn’t love the Rockies? Rocky Mountain National Park is famous for its protected mountain terrain and hiking trails like Bear Lake Trailhead . It is full of glassy lakes that reflect surrounding snow-capped mountains well into late spring, and the Rockies have some fabulous natural attractions like Lake Haiyaha. There’s no denying that it’s one of the best summer vacation spots, either; all of these attractions become suddenly more accessible in the summer season.

Everyone knows that the alpine tundra clings to its snow a little longer, and while experienced hikers and drivers may wish to skip the crowds and visit in early spring, waiting can be better. If you aren’t as confident or don’t have the right vehicle and equipment, Rocky Mountain National Park is easier to visit in summer. Be mindful of timings when embarking on trails – you can dodge most summer crowds just by being time-savvy.

Insider Tip: Pick early start times for hikes, especially on popular routes like Bear Lake.

Where to Stay: Blue Door Inn.

25. Yosemite National Park

Best Places to visit in the Summer USA Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is one of our top recommendations for the best summer vacation spots. As a national park famed for waterfalls, nothing quite suits a summer vacation better than a shaded hike through undergrowth to some of Yosemite’s best falls. While crowds and temperatures rise, you can always find a peaceful spot amongst the park’s dense redwoods.

Carbon Falls is a great place to visit in Yosemite in summer, as it’s swimmer-friendly. Mirror Lake is a pretty trail that is minimal effort in summer at just over 2 miles in length, while Four Mile Trail is a little more challenging with sweeping valley views. And, of course, you have to see the classic Yosemite Falls.

Visiting Yosemite in the Summer

Early summer (think June) is best for waterfalls in Yosemite National Park, as it is when the snowmelt runs off and creates more dramatic falls. You don’t want to wait until the back end of summer, like August and September, as even Yosemite Falls can look slightly pathetic in its fall power by this time of year. Some waterfalls dry completely in mid to late summer, so the early birds get the worm here.

Insider Tip: Visit on a weekday for fewer crowds.

Where to Stay: Here’s where to stay in Yosemite . Our favorite spot is Yosemite Valley Lodge.

26. Yellowstone National Park

Best Places to visit in the USa in Summer Yellowstone National Park a unesco world heritage site

Yellowstone National Park is famously sat on top of a dormant volcano, making it a hive of volcanic activity with exciting attractions like geysers and hot springs. It also has America’s largest herd of buffalo, grizzly bears, and wolves – which are more active in summer months. With the most daylight hours and accessible trails and roads, the summer season is the ideal time to experience all the intensity that Yellowstone National Park has to offer.

Places to visit in the Summer USa Lamar Valley Yellowstone

You can take a summer bus tour, get a permit to go fishing and experience the thrill of white water rafting. One of the best summer activities is horseback riding, heading through remote areas of natural beauty that a car just couldn’t get you to. And, of course, there are classic attractions like Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Spring , and the Morning Glory Pool.

Yellowstone National Park does get busy in summer, but the increase in activity feels electric. You’ll see more wildlife and just generally enjoy easier road conditions and being outdoors more in warm weather.

Insider Tip: Get organized with trip planning as things sell out quickly.

Where to Stay: Check out our full comprehensive guide on Where to Stay in Yellowstone National Park – Guide to the Best Hotels. Canyon Lodge Yellowstone is one of our favorites.

27. Acadia National Park

Cool places to visit in summer Acadia National Park

We won’t lie; Acadia National Park gets busy from June until early September, so if you are visiting on summer vacation, forget having trails to yourselves. However, despite this, Acadia National Park is still one of the best summer vacation spots in the USA. The mild weather makes hiking the plethora of trails heavenly, and you can enjoy things like kayaking, rock climbing, or mountain biking without the slippery, wet rocks and mud.

You can hike the short but tough Precipice Trail, which involves narrow ledges and metal ladder rungs nailed into rock faces. There’s also Ocean Path for views of the sea and the dramatic sight of Thunder Hole, where waves spray as high as 40 feet in the air.

Acadia National Park has some of the best trails to tackle, and it’s much more fun when they aren’t covered in a layer of slippery mud. We recommend wangling your summer trip for mid to late September, just after the summer rush but before the October fall foliage flurry of tourists.

Insider Tip: Plan ahead with parking reservations to overcome the summer crowds.

Where to Stay: Bar Harbor Manor.

Best Places to Visit in Summer: FAQs

Best Places to visit in the summer FAQ

When you are planning a summer getaway, the USA has tons to offer. In particular, you should make the most of outdoor activities and nature through water sports and hiking trails. Many national parks are inaccessible over winter and early spring if you don’t have expert equipment and 4WD vehicles. So summer is the perfect time to see many national parks in the USA.

Similarly, city breaks are also a great idea in summer, as cities are starting to embrace their outdoor spaces more, like movie nights in New York’s Bryant Park .

Before you go ahead and book your best summer yet, take heed of these quick FAQs. They may sway you if you are currently in between choices.

Which place is best to visit in summer?

The Utah National Parks are much easier to enjoy in June when the trails are more accessible. But if you’d prefer a beach-style vacation, we’d recommend the Outer Banks

Where is the best place for summer vacation?

The best places for a summer vacation in the USA are New York City, Chicago, San Diego, or San Francisco for a city break. Then, for a beach holiday, we’d recommend the Outer Banks.

What is the best country to visit in summer?

The USA is beautiful to visit in summer. The country has impressive nature, and summer is the best time to experience that, be it in the city center’s green spaces or remote national parks.

Where is the cheapest place to go in the summer?

Some of the cheapest states in the USA are West Virginia, Texas, and South Carolina. This means the Great Smoky Mountains and Galveston are some of the cheapest summer vacations on our list.

Why You Should Visit The USA in Summer

Why You should visit USa in Summer

As you can see, the USA is never short of summer vacation ideas. These 27 best summer vacation spots are guaranteed to keep you on your toes this July and August, yet they are just the tip of the iceberg. You’ll find hundreds more amazing destinations across the USA in summer; we just couldn’t quite fit them on the list. The country really comes into its own with the arrival of summer. It’s one of the best lights you can possibly see it in.

Looking for more inspiration? Check out our guides on the best road trips to take around the USA in 2024 and the best national parks. We’ve even got a guide on the best beaches in the USA. These 27 destinations are just the beginning; make sure to continue researching, as the USA is overflowing with amazing summer vacation ideas.

Plan Your Next Summer Vacation With These Resources

  • 27 Best Places to Visit in March USA
  • 28 Best Romantic Getaways in the USA
  • 50 Best Places to Visit in the USA
  • 27 Best National Parks in the USA To Visit
  • 28 Best Beaches in the USA
  • 21 Best All-inclusive Resorts in the USA

Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor

Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO . 

Travel Insurance: Don't leave home without it. Here is what we recommend:

  • Allianz - Occasional Travelers.
  • Medjet - Global air medical transport and travel security.

Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

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The 14 Best Beach Towns on the East Coast

By Alex Erdekian and Jamie Spain

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All products featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

From Maine to Florida , the East Coast is home to some beautiful stretches of coastline, amazing views, and of course, remarkable beach towns. Whether you're looking for a summer hotspot full of excitement and entertainment and brimming with crowds, or want to escape to a quieter small town this season, the shores on the East Coast have a little something for everyone. From charming, historic New England towns to tropical Southern getaways, there is so much to explore this summer.

There are 14 states that make up this stretch of the US, and each one has its own atmosphere, climate, and culture. From Cape Cod to the Florida Keys , the Atlantic Seaboard is home to a wide variety of vacation destinations. Here are 14 of the best East Coast beach towns in the US.

This article has been updated with new information since its original publish date.

Bar Harbor Maine

Bar Harbor, ME

Bar Harbor, Maine

Much of Maine's Mt. Desert Island is covered by Acadia National Park —home to climbs like Cadillac Mountain and a sophisticated system of carriage roads financed by John D. Rockefeller Jr. But on the island's northeast corner, charming Bar Harbor is a destination in its own right. Skirting Frenchmen Bay, Bar Harbor began drawing visitors as far back as the mid-19th century when some of the Hudson River School, a group of artists that included the likes of Thomas Cole and Frederic Edwin Church, were taken with Maine's Down East landscapes. Still picturesque, Bar Harbor is now a full-fledged tourist town with a bustling main street, whale-watching tours, and of course, easy access to Acadia.

Where to stay in Bar Harbor:

  • For a quirky stay: Queen Anne's Revenge Inn and Suites
  • For romance: West Street Hotel
  • For a private cottage: Beachy three-bedroom rental

Rockport Massachusetts

Rockport, MA

Rockport, Massachusetts

The North Shore, a group of towns in Greater Boston, is a culturally important swath of Massachusetts. The coastal region is known for its excellent seafood, beautiful beaches, and historic landmarks. Many a good film has been filmed here as well, such as Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island and Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester-by-the-Sea . There are many towns worth visiting, but Rockport is a favorite among travelers. Forty miles north of Boston, the town has a can't-miss natural gem in Halibut Point State Park, from which visitors can spot Maine in the distance 80 miles away. Rockport is also beloved by art history buffs: it is home to Motif Number 1, a fishing shack with the superlative “the most-often painted building in America.” It was built in 1840, and was a popular subject because it represented New England’s nautical character. (And it didn’t hurt that the light hit it just so.) A replica was built promptly following the historic Blizzard of 1978, which destroyed the original. Gray Malin photographed it for his recent project on Boston .

Where to stay in Rockport:

  • For cozy vibes: Coastal studio loft
  • For a seaside view: Waterfront apartment overlooking a private beach

Oak Bluffs Massachusetts

Oak Bluffs, MA

Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts

Ferries deliver day trippers to this little Martha’s Vineyard town daily and the colorful gingerbread houses for which Oak Bluffs is known are straight out of a storybook. Visitors walk straight off their boats into Ocean Park, a circular green overlooking the sea, encircled by said houses, with a frothy, delicate gazebo sitting in the center. Oak Bluffs has a long history of welcoming Black visitors, and today it is home to the annual African-American Film Festival .

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Where to stay in Oak Bluffs and Martha's Vineyard:

  • For a historic stay: Faraway Martha's Vineyard
  • For an eclectic experience: Four-bedroom Victorian beach house
  • For a camp-inspired spot: Summercamp

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Cape Cod, MA

Cape Cod, Massachusetts

This popular peninsula in Massachusetts is a vacation hotspot for good reason. While it really heats up during the summer, it's a beautiful destination year-round, and is brimming with history (head to nearby Plymouth to see where the Mayflower docked). Not only does it offer the best New England summer atmosphere, it's also home to exciting activities and small town summer charm. Here, you can spot wildlife, like whales ( Cape Cod is near their migration path) and seals, indulge in delicious seafood, and enjoy miles upon miles of sandy coastline. The Upper Cape is best for families, the Mid-Cape is perfect for escaping the crowds, and the Lower Cape is home to great luxury hotels .

Where to stay in Cape Cod:

  • For New England luxury: Chatham Bars Inn
  • For a historic stay: The Villages at Ocean Edge Resort & Golf Club
  • For seaside access: Cozy one-bedroom cottage

The Breakers Newport Rhode Island

Newport, RI

Newport, Rhode Island

Like Oak Bluffs, Newport is a beach town known for its houses, though a very different sort. Ten enormous, historic mansions—once the summer homes of the Vanderbilts, Nevada silver heiresses, and other Westerners of unimaginable wealth—remain standing along the famous cliff walk. Today however, they are museums. The most famous two are The Breakers and Rosecliff. The Newport mansions famously earned the ire of writer Joan Didion, who wrote in her essay The Seacoast of Despair, “To stand in the dining room of ‘The Breakers’ is to imagine fleeing it, pleading migraine.” Today, in lieu of the Great Gatsby -esque lawn parties of yore where swans roamed the grounds, Newport attracts visitors of all stripes for events such as the Newport Folk Festival.

Where to stay in Newport:

  • For Gilded Age fans: Gardiner House Newport
  • For grandeur: The Vanderbilt, Auberge Resorts Collection

Montauk Lighthouse New York

Montauk, NY

Montauk, New York

The final stop on the eastern tip of Long Island, Montauk is appropriately known as the End. Due to strong winds, rough surf, and ample preserved land, it really does feel like the edge of the world, here. (Although some residents of Long Island’s furthest out town argue that if you really think about it, it’s actually the Beginning.) Montauk feels more remote and low-key than its luxurious, sceney Hamptons counterparts. Every visit to Montauk should include a stop at the Montauk Point Light House, which was commissioned by President George Washington in 1796. It is still operating, and the panoramic views from the top are out of this world.

Where to stay in Montauk:

  • For barefoot luxury: Marram Montauk
  • For a private beach: Gurney's Montauk
  • For St. Tropez vibes: Solé East Resort

Cape May New Jersey

Cape May, NJ

Cape May, New Jersey

The site of pink triple-decker Victorian homes and a lively, festive promenade that exists as a beach town ideal in America's collective imagination, Cape May is the sort of dreamy summer destination one associates with trails of melted ice cream dotting the hot pavement and Fourth of July picnics. National Geographic also labeled Cape May as the World's Best Destination for Birding , writing, “The narrow peninsula at Cape May acts as a bird funnel, bringing in songbirds during their spring and fall migrations. At dawn on a good day, legendary Higbee Beach offers front-row seats to a feathered fashion show… With a little luck, you can see 20 species of warblers, each in its own colorful costume.” Sign us up.

Where to stay in Cape May:

  • For picturesque looks: One-bedroom cottage with a hot tub
  • For classic luxury: The Virginia Hotel

Chincoteague Ponies Virginia

Chincoteague, VA

Chincoteague, Virginia

You won't find bustling boardwalks, sleek hotels, or grids of cars with clunky bike racks trapped in traffic in Chincoteague. This coastal town is all about the wildlife—specifically its wild horses . Visitors flock to the island annually for the Pony Penning that has been held since 1925. The Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department holds the event, and it consists of a pony swim—in which the animals cross the Assateague Channel—and a pony auction. No one really knows how this population of horses came to be, though there are competing theories. Some say they are descendants of Spanish horses shipwrecked en route to Peru in the 17th century. Others claim they were left long ago by pirates. Still others say they are runaways from mainland farmers. The quaint beauty of Chincoteague includes trails for hiking, beaches, and a red and white lighthouse. For the best pony views, cross over on a bike to the Maryland side of Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.

Where to stay in Chincoteague:

  • For beachy decor: Three-bedroom with a balcony
  • For sunset views: Bay-facing cottage on the water

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Ocean City, MD

Ocean City, Maryland

There is no place quite like the Chesapeake Bay . Step foot here and breathe in the saltwater air, indulge in delicious seafood, and enjoy the gorgeous beaches. The seaside resort town of Ocean City offers fun for the whole family—stroll down the boardwalk and taste the saltwater taffy to start, then take your pick of activities for all ages: surfing, fishing, and kayaking included. If you're looking for something a little less busy, the nearby small town of Berlin (just a 15-minute drive away) is great for a quick trip or overnight stay to avoid the crowds, but will take you away from the gorgeous shoreline. A little farther away is the historic small town of St. Michaels , worth a visit just to explore the history and see the picturesque neighborhood on the water.

Where to stay in Ocean City:

  • For a view: Condo with bayside access
  • For a midtown stay: Condo near restaurants, bars, and entertainment

Nags Head Outer Banks North Carolina

Nags Head, NC

Nags Head, North Carolina

Nags Head is a beach town on the Outer Banks , a group of barrier islands and spits sandwiched between mainland North Carolina and the Atlantic Ocean. It's known for its sand dunes in Jockey Ridge State Park, which comprise the tallest true sand dune system on the East Coast. Hundreds of shipwrecks nearby—caused by the region's shifting sands and heavily trafficked waters—have given the surrounding waters the moniker “Graveyard of the Atlantic,” and the nearby USS Huron is a popular scuba dive site.

Where to stay in Nags Head and the Outer Banks:

  • For a beachfront retreat: Sanderling Resort
  • For a five-minute walk to the water: Coastal boho home
  • For panoramic ocean views: Triple-tiered vacation home

Pawley's Island South Carolina

Pawley's Island, SC

Pawleys Island, South Carolina

Pawleys Island is so small that its year-round population hovers around 100 people. It was first settled in the 1500s, making it one of the oldest beach towns in the US. With that amount of history, there is, of course, a ghost story to go with it: There have been sightings of the Gray Man, a ghost whose appearance is said to warn of hurricanes as he paces up and down the beach, dating to a 19th-century storm. Summer options on Pawleys Island that are not at all spooky—besides flopping around on the beach—include golf, fishing, walking sculpture-filled gardens, and feasting on Lowcountry cuisine like She Crab soup.

Where to stay in Pawleys Island:

  • For a beachy condo: Two-bedroom townhouse
  • For a breathtaking view: Marshfront property near the beach

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Myrtle Beach, SC

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

While it's not too far from the aforementioned Pawleys Island, Myrtle Beach will feel worlds away from the slow, small-town atmosphere of the other quaint town. This popular summer destination boasts bigger crowds than its neighbor, and has a wide assortment of entertainment, dining, nightlife, and activities available. Aside from the deliciously warm weather and miles of beaches to traverse, Myrtle Beach is also home to a great many golf courses, amusement parks, water parks, and an iconic boardwalk with a massive 187-foot-tall Ferris Wheel.

Where to stay in Myrtle Beach:

  • For golf lovers: Marina Inn at Grande Dunes
  • For seclusion: Island Vista Resort

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Tybee Island, GA

Tybee Island, Georgia

Just a short drive from Savannah , Georgia, this coastal community is in the perfect spot for a day trip . Even during the summer, some parts of it manage to maintain that small-town vibe and don't get unbearably crowded, boasting an assortment of adorable ice cream and coffee shops, long stretches of sandy beaches, and great waterfront access. There's a little something for everyone from families to couples— South Beach is better for those who want a little excitement in their atmosphere, whereas North Beach is a bit more quiet and contained. I've found it particularly great for families (having traveled here with a multigenerational group ages 1-68), and recommend the kitschy Original Crab Shack for a memorable meal.

Where to stay in Tybee Island:

  • For a private pool and hot tub: Three-bedroom bungalow
  • For couples: Historic cottage with complimentary golf cart, bikes, and kayaks

Siesta Key Florida

Siesta Key, FL

Siesta Key, Florida

While we love the beach towns listed above, the only part of the East Coast that has a true tropical climate is the lower half of Florida. Naturally, the beaches in this area are very beautiful. We want to laud Siesta Key in particular for its fine sand, which comes from the Appalachian Mountains and is made up almost entirely of cool and reflective quartz, its waterfront dining and drinking, and its excellence for water sports like parasailing. The three beaches to visit on Siesta Key are Siesta Beach, Crescent Beach, and Turtle Beach.

Where to stay in Siesta Key:

  • For a lush condo: Beachfront stay on Siesta Beach
  • For a private pool: Tropical three-bedroom home


Dawn Ranch: First In

Dawn Ranch: First In

The Georgian

The Georgian

North America Travel Guide

North America Travel Guide

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best places to visit the usa

The 10 best beaches in the US to visit right now

L aguna, La Jolla, Clearwater , Miami – there’s no doubt that the US does a sterling job in stellar beaches . But sometimes such over-subscribed destinations can make carving out your own slice of paradise without the crowds something of a challenge.

Thankfully, the US is home to over 95,000 miles of shoreline, with 30 states boasting a coast, meaning there are plenty of secret surf and sand spots, whether you’re looking for family beaches , supreme sunset viewing points , dramatic cliffs, or simply a place to connect with nature.

There are plenty of options to choose from, but we’ve narrowed it down to 10 of the best secluded, underrated beach locations in the United States .

From isolated sandy stretches in North Carolina to hidden spots on California ’s rugged coastline and the breathtaking sunsets across Hawaii ’s Polihale Beach sand dunes, each of these would make an unforgettable holiday that’s far from the madding crowd.

Read more on US travel :

  • The ultimate USA travel guide
  • Best USA holidays for the ultimate American experiences
  • Why Wynwood is the best day out in Miami

Cannon Beach, Oregon

While some beaches trade off their sunshine quota, Cannon Beach in the Pacific Northwest is unique by virtue of being a marvel to visit whatever the weather. This long sandy stretch of coastline is home to the dramatic Haystock Rock, a giant towering rock formation that’s accessible on-foot at low tide. Adjacent stone “needles”, tidalpools and flocks of seabirds combine to make this an atmospheric spot. While a summer stroll is always pleasant, visiting in winter, with crashing waves and brooding skies is an unforgettable experience. Don’t leave without checking out the many art galleries and specialist shops that populate the town.

Outer Banks, North Carolina

North Carolina’s Outer Banks are a 100-mile plus stretch of barrier islands separating the mainland through a series of sounds and inlets. Home to wild horses, lighthouses and blissfully isolated expanses of sand, it’s the ideal place to seek out a spot away from the crowds. Hit the surf at Cape Hatteras, go fishing at Rodanthe Pier, or scramble up Jockey’s Ridge, the tallest living sandy dune system on the east coast.

Avalon Beach, New Jersey

Don’t be put off by its association with reality TV show Jersey Shore : this Atlantic region is home to 127 miles of sublime coastline, with plenty to interest and inspire. Head to Avalon on the Seven Mile Beach for white-sand beaches perfect for swimming, boating or kayaking, while North Wildwood is home to gentler waters and completely free to visit. Commercial boardwalks with amusements, water parks, shops and restaurants make this an ideal destination for a family break.

Kauaʻi, Hawaii

Hawaii ’s beaches are renowned the world over for their soft, white sands and tropical waters, but KauaÊ»i is best known for its dramatic cliffs, canyons and lush rainforests. Known as the “Garden Isle” for its verdant interior, it’s an ideal destination for trekking and kayaking, as well as being home to some of Hawaii’s most beautiful beaches.

PoÊ»ipÅ« Beach Park is one of KauaÊ»i’s most popular beaches, with a wading pool for younger swimmers and the occasional Hawaiian monk seal appearance, but travellers who really want to escape the crowds should head to the remote Polihale Beach. Located at the end of a dirty road, it’s a whopping 17 miles long, making it the longest stretch of beach in the entire state of Hawaii. Expect giant sand dunes, desert cacti and jaw-dropping sunsets. Polihale is notorious for being a very dangerous beach for swimming, however, so swap the dip for a steady stroll along the sands.

Cape Charles, Virginia

On the National Register of Historic Places, Cape Charles has one of the largest concentrations of turn-of-the-century buildings on the east coast. This quaint Victorian-era town is home to award-winning golf courses, two nature preserves ripe for exploration, and watersports galore, including kayaking, paddleboarding and jet-skiing. Plus, Cape Charles’ soft, sand beach is free to access, with calm and shallow waters making it suitable for waterbabies.

Padre Island National Seashore, Texas

A 15-minute drive from downtown Corpus Christi is Padre Island, the world’s longest undeveloped barrier island. This conservation area, stretching around 66 miles, is a major migratory bird route and home to 350 different species, with nearly half of all north American migratory bird species passing through here at different times of the year. Explore this charming stretch of coastline by kayak or canoe, watch sea turtles being released, or simply walk along this untouched stretch of coastline. And if the prospect of returning to four walls doesn’t appeal, you can also camp here.

Seal Beach, California

California ’s not short of excellent beaches, but Seal Beach is an underrated gem. This laid-back town south of Los Angeles ’ Long Beach has soft white sand, incredible views from the second longest wooden pier in the state, and a 965-acre wildlife refuge you can visit. It’s also the start (or end) point of the San Gabriel River Trail, a 36-mile long cycle route that’s one of the best traffic-free spots in the valley for biking.

Dauphin Island, Alabama

Skip the crowds at Gulf Shores and Orange Beach and take the 40-minute ferry ride to the more secluded Dauphin Island. Known as the “sunset capital of Alabama”, this island is home to seven miles of white-sand beaches, great weather and crystal clear waters. Hike through the ancient maritime forest of Goat Tree Reserve, where you can spot birds including vireos, flycatchers and owls and sign up for a chartered fishing expedition, before feasting on crab and lobster at the acclaimed Skinner’s Seafood.

Wellfleet, Massachusetts

Cape Cod has long been a major draw for visitors on the east coast, but it’s also prone to overcrowding. Wellfleet, meanwhile, is a pretty, small and peaceful town surrounded by coast on both sides and centrally located, meaning it’s easy to travel around if you start to yearn for more action. It’s also famed for its excellent oysters, making it an dream destination for foodies. Head to Mac’s on the Pier for some of the best. And don’t leave without visiting the Wellfleet flea market, the biggest on Cape Cod.

Wildcat Beach, California

Fancy a challenge? Rewards don’t come easy at Wildcat, with visitors required to hike five miles to reach this remote California beach, but it’s more than worth the trek. Short on time? Mountain bike on the Stewart Trail, before cooling off in the Pacific. This peaceful spot is home to seals, striking cliff views and some incredible sunsets. And if you’d prefer to spread the hike over a few days, you can rest your bones at Wildcat Campground. For a more active trip, pack up and hike north up the coastline to discover more secret beaches.

Torn between skiing and surfing? Here’s how to hit both slopes and the waves on a California weekend

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Aurora borealis and young woman on mountain peak at night.

10 of the best places in the US to see the northern lights in 2024

Astronomers predict this year will be the best in the last decade to see the northern lights. We have the sun's current solar cycle to thank for the stronger aurora borealis in 2024. Scientists say the sun is hitting its "solar maximum," or the highest activity rate during its current solar cycle, meaning more frequent and brighter northern lights. The sun's energized particles hit Earth's upper atmosphere, which then scatter toward its north and south poles. The redirected particles are what we see as the dancing hues of green, yellow, and magenta across the sky.

There are a few things you should do to plan before your trip. Winter is typically the best season to view the northern lights because of its longer, darker nights. It's possible to take a solo trip to see the lights, but many people recommend going in a group or on a guided tour for safety, especially if you're in an unfamiliar place.

Before venturing out into the cold, dark night, be sure to check an aurora forecast to understand what will likely happen in the sky. You'll need to venture away from any strong sources of light pollution like cities. Finally, get comfortable and be patient! Sometimes the aurora is only visible for a few minutes; sometimes it'll go on for hours.

If seeing the northern lights has been on your bucket list, now could be the best time to make it happen. Though Norway, Finland, and Iceland are the usual suspects when chasing northern lights, you don't have to travel outside of the United States to do it. Many of the country's northernmost states have dark skies that give a good chance for seeing the aurora borealis.

Stacker used various sources to create this list of 10 of the best destinations in the United States to view the northern lights.

Aurora borealis over Fairbanks.

Fairbanks, Alaska

There are many reasons why Fairbanks, Alaska, is considered one of the best places in the world to view the northern lights. The most important reason is it's inside the "aurora oval," which sees a higher concentration of aurora lights. It also has many nights with clear skies.

Fairbanks is home to some of the world's best aurora forecasters at the Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska Fairbanks . The season for viewing the lights in Fairbanks is from Aug. 21 to April 21. During that time frame, late August through early September usually have the best chances for viewing the aurora borealis while enjoying summer activities.

Northern lights over a North Dakota field.

New Town, North Dakota

The nice thing about North Dakota is that if the aurora borealis is going to show up here, it will likely be visible across the entire state. The only things you'll need to ensure are clear skies and a low-light moon because sometimes a radiant moon can make the sky too bright to see the faint glow of the northern lights.

If you're looking for a nice vantage point to take in the night sky, Crow Flies High State Recreation Area near New Town, North Dakota, in the western part of the state, is an ideal place. The scenic stop overlooks Lake Sakakawea and gives an unobstructed view of the night sky. You could also chase the northern lights inside Theodore Roosevelt National Park near Medora, North Dakota.

Aurora borealis over Glacier National Park.

Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park in northwestern Montana's Rocky Mountains puts travelers just south of the U.S.-Canada border. It's a certified International Dark Sky Park, so light pollution won't get in the way of viewing the aurora. The national park has many ideal lookout locations, such as Lake McDonald, a popular destination for kayaking during the day. For those who prefer a less remote viewing party, The Northern Lights Saloon in nearby Polebridge, Montana, offers live music while you skywatch.

Northern lights in the sky in Bar Harbor in Maine.

Aroostook County, Maine

The earliest written account of seeing the northern lights in Maine dates back to 1719. It described the colorful display as both dreadful and indescribable. Today, the aurora borealis still leaves people breathless, but thankfully they seem to enjoy it more than those who viewed it more than 300 years ago.

Aroostook County, Maine's northernmost county bordered by Canada, is one of the best places on the U.S. east coast to try to catch the northern lights. It has some of the darkest skies east of the Mississippi. Visit in September or October to ensure the dark skies are clear of clouds. For those who like to gaze at other natural wonders, the Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge is also a great place to birdwatch and spot other wildlife.

The northern lights over a lake in Wisconsin.

Newport State Park, Wisconsin

Nearly two hours from Green Bay, Wisconsin, the state's only dark-sky park sits on the edge of the Door peninsula. Late December through early March bring the best chances to see the aurora borealis during high auroral activity. Being on the shore of Lake Michigan gives viewers a better, unobstructed view of the northern horizon, which is important in catching the northern lights from the lower 48. People can also use the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's aurora forecast tool to get a 30-minute heads-up on whether the northern lights will be visible near their position in northern Michigan.

Northern lights over Point Betsie Lighthouse in northern Michigan.

Upper Peninsula of Michigan

North of Wisconsin's Door peninsula is Michigan's Upper Peninsula, another ideal place to see the northern lights. The remote peninsula has hundreds of miles of shoreline along Lake Superior, making it easy to view the sky. If you find yourself in Michigan's Lower Peninsula instead, Port Crescent State Park and the Headlands International Dark Sky Park are good options. October, November, and April are the best months to see the aurora borealis in Michigan, although viewers have spotted it earlier in the fall and spring.

Northern lights over Lake Superior.

Duluth, Minnesota

It's safe to say spots all along Lake Superior are great for viewing the aurora in the lower 48 because Duluth, Minnesota, is another place that gives visitors a good chance to see the northern lights.

Duluth is to the west of Wisconsin's and Michigan's viewing areas but sits at roughly the same latitude, which means chances for seeing the northern lights go up when there's increased solar activity. Duluth has prime places to see the northern lights, including Hawk Ridge, White Sky Rock, and Little Stone Lake.

Northenr lights as seen in Idaho.

Idaho Panhandle National Forests

Go to the northernmost tip of Idaho for your best chance at capturing a glimpse of the aurora borealis. About 120 miles from Spokane, Washington, the Idaho Panhandle National Forests—which also cover small regions of eastern Washington and western Montana—are also a camper's and hiker's paradise. Check out Priest Lake for one of the best vantage points in the state. Add to the beauty of the lights by watching them both in the sky and their reflection on the lake.

If you'd prefer to stay a little further south, Heyburn State Park near Chatcolet Lake is also a great place for chasing the northern lights. Opt for a spot along the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes' bridge on the lake.

Purple and green northern lights over pine trees.

Utqiaġvik, Alaska

The northern lights are visible across most of Alaska. Still, those looking for a more adventurous journey may consider traveling to Utqiaġvik, the most northern community in the U.S. During the winter months, the sun sets on Utqiaġvik on Nov. 17. It doesn't rise again until Jan. 24, giving the small town 67 days of darkness, with only a little bit of sunlight shining on the horizon. That little bit of twilight means northern lights chasers will still need to wait for the night hours to see the celestial phenomenon. The aurora borealis typically isn't as strong in Utqiaġvik compared to Fairbanks since this small northern Alaska town is at the edge of the zone that tends to get visible lights.

Northern lights over Cypress Island.

San Juan Islands, Washington

The archipelago off the northwest coast of Washington State is known for many things: ferry rides, uncrowded beaches, and world-class whale watching. Stargazing may not be at the top of visitors' lists, but it should be, especially during the solar maximum. The islands have low light pollution and get more than 247 days of clear skies, giving it the perfect combination for viewing the northern lights. There's usually increased aurora activity in September and March, although there are several local reports of catching the northern lights year-round, including in midsummer.

Story editing by Carren Jao. Copy editing by Paris Close. Photo selection by Clarese Moller.

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best places to visit the usa

Top 100 Best Places to Live in the U.S.

At Livability, we’re experts on what makes cities of all sizes great places to live. For more than a decade, we’ve been curating our annual list of the Best Places To Live in America, helping you discover the most livable cities in the U.S.

If you’re looking to relocate, what’s on your wishlist? Want a shot at owning a home? To spend less time sitting in traffic? Or perhaps you dream of starting your own business in a tight-knit, supportive community?

Maybe a better quality of life is waiting for you in a place you haven’t considered — a place where you’re not just a number. Our Best Places list is chock-full of helpful information about living in each of our Top 100 cities to help you find your perfect place to live.

How we choose the Top 100 best cities

Livability commissions data on thousands of U.S. Cities. And then we sort through that data so you don’t have to. We partnered with Applied Geographic Solutions (AGS) to curate our Top 100 Best Places To Live in the U.S. based on nearly 100 data points and an algorithm that takes into account measures of a city’s economy, housing and cost of living, amenities, transportation, environment, safety, education and health. Check out our Best Places Methodology to learn more about our process for choosing the Top 100 cities. 

Size and affordability set Livability’s Best Places list apart

There are lots of best places lists out there, but ours is unique for several reasons.

First, we only consider small to mid-size cities with populations between 75,000 and 500,000. To us, that’s the sweet spot in size for getting plugged in, finding your people and feeling at home fast.

Second, we believe that affordability is one of the biggest benefits of living in a smaller city. With that sentiment in mind, we only consider cities with a median home value of $500,000 or less. We also analyze average rent and home prices relative to income in each city, as well as other factors that influence the cost of living. Ours is the only list truly centered around affordability. 

Our cities may be smaller, but what you can accomplish in them is BIG . 

Third, our Top 100 cities are not ranked from 1 to 100. Since there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the perfect place to live, we’ve created a  list that is  fully interactive, with tools to sort and filter according to the criteria that are most important to you. 

To see the unfiltered list in its entirety, just keep scrolling down the page. Or, experiment with the sorting and filtering features to curate your own personalized Best Places To Live list!

So whether you’re looking for a fresh start, want to get closer to your family or hope to take the next step in your career, the cities on our list are ready to welcome you. Now, let’s find your best place to live!

Explore Our Best Places to Live in the U.S.

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Carmel, IN is among the Top 100 Best Places To Live in the U.S.

LivScore: 875

Region: Midwest

Population: 100,691

Med. Home Value: $380,506

Cary, NC is among the Top 100 Best Places To Live in the U.S.

North Carolina

LivScore: 874

Region: Southeast

Population: 179,000

Med. Home Value: $434,151

Columbia, MD is among the Top 100 Best Places To Live in the U.S.

Region: Northeast

Population: 106,410

Med. Home Value: $467,495

Fishers, IN is among the Top 100 Best Places To Live in the U.S.

LivScore: 864

Population: 102,878

Med. Home Value: $332,418

Naperville, IL is among the Top 100 Best Places To Live in the U.S.

LivScore: 862

Population: 150,412

Med. Home Value: $433,840

Broomfield, CO is among the Top 100 Best Places To Live in the U.S.

LivScore: 853

Region: Southwest

Population: 76,538

Med. Home Value: $491,262

Overland Park, KS is among the Top 100 Best Places To Live in the U.S.

Overland Park

LivScore: 851

Population: 200,187

Med. Home Value: $354,977

Sugar Land, TX is among the Top 100 Best Places To Live in the U.S.

LivScore: 846

Population: 113,429

Med. Home Value: $359,460

Frisco, TX is among the Top 100 Best Places To Live in the U.S.

LivScore: 842

Population: 224,003

Med. Home Value: $470,968

Troy, MI is among the Top 100 Best Places To Live in the U.S.

LivScore: 839

Population: 85,685

Med. Home Value: $343,627

Beaverton, OR is among the Top 100 Best Places To Live in the U.S.

LivScore: 837

Region: Northwest

Population: 97,992

Med. Home Value: $491,129

Roswell, GA is among the Top 100 Best Places To Live in the U.S.

Population: 89,914

Med. Home Value: $413,215

Meridian, ID is among the Top 100 Best Places To Live in the U.S.

LivScore: 823

Population: 129,525

Med. Home Value: $462,253

Hillsboro, OR is among the Top 100 Best Places To Live in the U.S.

LivScore: 817

Population: 107,497

Med. Home Value: $464,840

Warwick, RI is among the Top 100 Best Places To Live in the U.S.

Rhode Island

LivScore: 813

Population: 83,726

Med. Home Value: $278,000

O'Fallon, MO is among the Top 100 Best Places To Live in the U.S.

LivScore: 812

Population: 92,969

Med. Home Value: $282,106

Boise, ID is among the Top 100 Best Places To Live in the U.S.

LivScore: 811

Population: 237,757

Med. Home Value: $473,902

Virginia Beach, VA is among the Top 100 Best Places To Live in the U.S.

Virginia Beach

Population: 458,089

Med. Home Value: $339,166

Fort Collins, CO is among the Top 100 Best Places To Live in the U.S.

Fort Collins

LivScore: 808

Population: 170,959

Med. Home Value: $488,892

Round Rock, TX is among the Top 100 Best Places To Live in the U.S.

LivScore: 807

Population: 119,977

Med. Home Value: $367,817

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These are the best places to stay in the world for 2024, according to tripadvisor.

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Choosing your next vacation isn’t just about where you visit, but where you stay.

To help travelers book the vacation possible, Tripadvisor , one of the biggest online travel agencies, revealed its  2024 Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best Awards  — including the list of the world’s best hotels .

The list ranks destinations that received a high volume of above-and-beyond reviews and opinions from the Tripadvisor community over the past year — out of 8 million listings, fewer than 1% achieved the milestone.

New York City is still one of the top tourist destinations in the world, so it’s no shock that three of the top stays in the US are right here in Manhattan: The Luma Hotel in Times Square, The Bryant Park Hotel and Casablanca Hotel by Library Hotel Collection, also in Times Square.

New York City may be the City That Never Sleeps. Still, as one of the top tourist destinations in the world, it's no shock that three of the top stays in the US are right here in Manhattan

But although many people agree NYC is the greatest city in the world, none of its hotels made the list for the best stays on a global scale.

The top hotel in the world is the Hotel Colline de France in Brazil, according to Tripadvisor.

Hotel Colline de France in Brazil

The luxurious stay was highly rated for its “sophistication and comfort” shown through its glamorous rooms and luscious spa.

The live piano music played at breakfast and complimentary sparkling wine were also nice touches.

“The hotel’s sensational design and warm atmosphere make it a unique choice for an elegant, yet cozy, getaway,” Tripadvisor said.

Best hotels in the world

  • Hotel Colline de France, Brazil
  • OBLU SELECT Lobigili, Maldives
  • La Siesta Hoi An Resort & Spa, Vietnam
  • Adiwana Suweta, Indonesia
  • Iberostar Grand Packard, Cuba
  • Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa, Maldives
  • La Siesta Classic Ma May, Vietnam
  • Secrets Akumal Riviera Maya, Mexico
  • Padma Resort Ubud, Indonesia
  • Sofitel Mexico City Reforma, Mexico

Oblu Select

The top hotel in the US is the Shore Hotel in Santa Monica, California, according to Tripadvisor.

The pet-friendly hotel stands out with its beautiful view of the ocean and eco-friendly but slick design — its proximity to the Santa Monica Pier also helps to attract guests.

Travelers also raved about the variety of food options, including the in-room breakfast options and the poolside bar.

“A stylish atmosphere and attention to detail ensure a fab stay for you and your furry friend,” Tripadvisor said.

Shore Hotel

Best in the US

  • Shore Hotel, Santa Monica, California
  • Luma Hotel Times Square, New York
  • FivePine Lodge & Spa, Oregon
  • The Bryant Park Hotel, New York
  • Hotel Emma, San Antonia, Texas
  • The Loutrel, South Carolina
  • Lotte Hotel Seattle, Washington
  • Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, Illinois
  • Ironworks Hotel Indy, Indiana
  • San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter on the River Walk, Texas
  • The Lodge at Woodloch, Pennsylvania
  • Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu, Autograph Collection, Hawaii
  • Casablanca Hotel by Library Hotel Collection, New York

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New York City may be the City That Never Sleeps. Still, as one of the top tourist destinations in the world, it's no shock that three of the top stays in the US are right here in Manhattan


I've visited 93 countries, 57 of them with kids. These 5 underrated spots are great places to enjoy with your family.

  • Karen Edwards has traveled to 93 countries, and 57 of them have been with her young children.
  • Edwards said that her family has had more fun exploring underrated spots than the popular ones.
  • Her favorites include Tanzania for its safari tours and Abu Dhabi for its vibrant festival scene.

Insider Today

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Karen Edwards , who blogs about her family's travels around the world. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

Since 2000, I've visited 93 countries and 57 of them have been with my four children who are all under the age of 10.

I am a nurse by background, but I have been blogging about traveling with my husband and kids since 2014. I cover a lot of off-the-beaten-track destinations and write itineraries for places I've been to, explaining how they work for families with children.

Many popular family destinations tend to be overcrowded. They're usually the ones that get a lot of media exposure or are shown in viral videos on social media. In America, it'd be places like Disneyland in California or Disney World in Florida, while for Europeans, it might be some of the Spanish resort areas.

Although my family and I have visited these places, we have always come away disappointed. They often lack educational experiences, feeling like pointless affairs.

I think traveling to underrated spots makes trips feel more exclusive and you can learn more about the cultures of the countries you visit — it also keeps you away from tourist traps.

We went on a safari tour in Tanzania

Our family visited Tanzania in 2019 in collaboration with a tourism brand. We were there for 12 days.

Our flights to the country were kind of expensive; we paid about $9,000 for our then-family of four, including a stop in Zanzibar at the end of the trip for a few days. However, overall, the entire trip didn't end up costing us that much.

We had some really unique experiences in Tanzania. We went to Mto Wa Mbu village , which is beneath a banana plantation, and we went on a safari tour in its Lake Manyara National Park .

Interestingly, Tanzania is one of the few places in the world where lions are known to climb trees. I remember seeing them sit in tall trees; it was quite unusual, but my kids really enjoyed how close they were to the animals.

Throughout our trip, we actually felt like we were experiencing life in Tanzania. Our campsite was on a river's edge in the depths of nature. It was nice not to feel surrounded by tourists.

My kids fell in love with Abu Dhabi's culture

Many people mistakenly believe that Dubai is a country, but in reality, it's a city in the United Arab Emirates, with Abu Dhabi being its capital.

My family and I moved to Abu Dhabi in 2021 and lived there for 18 months. The city does have a lot of similarities to glitzy and glam Dubai , but you get a more down-to-earth experience.

There are amazing festivals in Abu Dhabi where they display their culture in different formats, whether that be through local food or crafts. It does feel authentic because it's usually mainly locals participating and organizing them.

The city is also 1.5 hours away from Al Ain, which sits at the foot of  Jebel Hafeet , one of the tallest mountains in the region. Along the way up, you'll find many ancient artifacts, such as beehive huts, which have been there for thousands of years. At the top, you can watch incredible sunsets.

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The city also has the Al Ain Oasis , which uses an ancient irrigation system. It has these beautiful paved pathways that look like cobbled streets.

My kids loved Abu Dhabi and are constantly asking me to go back — they really liked all the cultural celebrations.

We love Sri Lanka so much, we're building a villa there

In 2022, my family and I moved to Sri Lanka from Abu Dhabi. We thought we'd have more family time here, and it was going to be an affordable place to live.

We're building a family-friendly villa here that should be completed by August. The area where we are building has a lot of nice cafes, bars, and restaurants nearby.

Overall, Sri Lanka is an amazing country that has so many diverse experiences. There are tea plantations, mountains, and beaches. As for wildlife, their national parks have loads of elephants and leopards.

On one occasion, we went on a safari boat tour to an isolated national park where we watched elephants swim across a lake and onto a tiny island. It was amazing.

The beaches in Sri Lanka are pristine. They have beautiful scenery with swaying coconut palm trees, clear water, and perfect waves. Our favorite is Kabalana Beach .

Because we're always on the beach, my children have learned how to surf. I think it's the most fun thing that we do on the weekends as a family.

The ski resorts and spas are amazing in Andorra

We visited Andorra in 2018 for about six days. It's a tiny country nestled in the Pyrenees between Spain. It's a two-hour drive from Barcelona and three hours from Toulouse, France.

The city has a unique fusion of cultures, though I think Catalonian is the strongest influence. During our trip, my family and I toured many ancient churches.

We also went to some amazing spas and resorts in Andorra. The hotel and ski system there is really family-friendly.

During our visit to the Grandvalira ski resort , my daughter learned how to ski and my husband got to snowboard — the resort has a kindergarten at the foot of its mountain, where kids can play or ski.

Andorra also has amazing spa facilities that are suitable for families and are sectioned off for different age groups.

Our trip was in collaboration with Andorra's tourism board, but I feel like it wasn't overly expensive in comparison to some other places around the world.

I was treated like family in Macedonia

Macedonia is a Balkan country just north of Greece. I haven't been there with children, but I wouldn't have any issues taking my kids there.

It has many beautiful small villages and it's great for skiing too.

The country is also home to one of the oldest and deepest lakes in Europe named Lake Orchid, which borders Albania. There's this beautiful, small village on the lake that has charming restaurant and a lovely atmosphere for relaxing and enjoying good food.

I visited the country in 2008, and then again in 2012 with my then-boyfriend and now-husband.

The first time I visited, I went with two girlfriends, and we were backpackers. We arrived in the middle of the night by bus and had no idea what we were doing. The bus driver just made a call, and a stranger came and picked us up in his car — I thought I was going to die.

The opposite happened. He took us back to his home with his family, and we stayed there with them for a few days. We ended up extending the trip because he and his family were so amazing.

They didn't speak a word of English, and we couldn't speak a word of their language either. We'd just gesture at each other, and they'd give us food and red wine.

I just totally fell in love with them and their country.

best places to visit the usa

  • Main content

The Lyrids are here: How and when to see the meteor shower peak in 2024

best places to visit the usa

Get ready for another show in the sky, space fans. This time it will be a shooting star show.

The Lyrid meteor shower will peak in 2024 starting late Sunday night on April 21 and last through dawn on Monday April 22 .

The Lyrids, one of the oldest known Metroid showers , began April 15 and runs through April 29 but the weekend will be the best time to get a glimpse of the show which NASA said can be seen by people across the world.

The first recorded sighting of a Lyrid meteor show, dates back to 687 BC by the Chinese , astronomers say.

Here's all you need to know about the phenomenon including what time to watch it and the best place to see it.

Lyrid meteor shower 2024: Visual guide to the celestial show

What are meteoroids? What are meteors? What is a meteorite?

Meteoroids  are small rocks that are still in space. When they enter the Earth's atmosphere, they burn up, and create a tail of debris as they disintegrate before hitting the ground. During that point, they are are called meteors.

Those that survive a trip through the atmosphere and hit the Earth's ground are called a meteorite. Some of the small pieces of an asteroid have been traced as far away ask the moon and Mars. 

Lyrids are known for their fast meteors, according to NASA, and can produce the occasional bright flash called a fireball.

Where is the best place to see the Lyrid meteor shower?

According to NASA, the best view in the Northern Hemisphere of the shower after moonset and before dawn.

Here are tips from the space agency:

  • Pick an area well away from city lights or street lights.
  • Bring a sleeping bag, blanket, or lawn chair.
  • Lie flat on your back with your feet facing east and look up.
  • Be patient. About 30 minutes in the dark your eyes should adapt and you should begin to see meteors.

Watch video: Meteor, fireball lights up sky in New Jersey, other east coast states

How many Lyrids will we see per hour?

Meteor showers are typically named after constellations, stars, and even asteroids.

If the sky is dark, and the moon is absent during this year's show, experts say, at peak viewers can expect to see 10 to 15 Lyrids each hour.

Natalie Neysa Alund is a senior reporter for USA TODAY. Reach her at [email protected] and follow her on X @nataliealund.


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