Looking for the best places to vacation in the United States? You're in luck! Here is an assorted list of the gorgeous places to visit in the US.
The United States encompasses several beautiful mountains, rivers, valleys, and awe-inspiring sights.
It is this diversity that makes America truly unique and beautiful.
There are several beautiful places to vacation in the USA that are famous for their iconic landmarks, natural wonders, and cultural diversity.
Although the United States has more than 200 major cities, they are all stunning and truly unique.
If you are planning a trip to the US, you may not be able to visit all 200 cities, but this list of the best places to visit in the US will help you find incredible destinations that you should add to your USA bucket list.
From the east coast to the west, here are the best places to vacation in the US.
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New York City is one of the best travel destinations in the US. It is the largest city in the US and a major hub for finance, fashion, arts, communication, and education.
The Big Apple gets constant traffic throughout the year, making it one of the richest cities in the US. It is also the rightful contender as the first city you should visit if you are in the US.
Attractions like Times Square, the Broadway Theater District, Wall Street, Manhattan's Chinatown, Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, etc. are some of the highly photographed attractions in the world and pull in millions of tourists every year.
Apart from these attractions, the city is a melting pot of cultures with a variety of art, performance, foods, and fashion.
Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in New York
San Francisco is a beautiful city with cliffs, forests, a large bay, iconic landmarks, Victorian architecture, great food and a near-perfect climate.
There is plenty to do for all age groups making San Francisco one of the best places to vacation in the US for family fun.
A stroll across the Golden Gate Bridge is a ‘must do’ for everyone, as is the daily walking tour organized by the Public Library – free of charge.
Street art is encouraged in San Francisco and amazing murals can be spotted throughout the city. Head for the Mission District to see the latest colorful pieces of art.
It is fun to ride in a cable car and walk along Lombard Street, the city’s famous crooked street. To admire the beautiful 19th-century Victorian architecture, take a stroll in the Pacific Heights, Alamo Square and Haight Asbury districts.
Enjoy a 60-minute cruise around San Francisco Bay, or you can rather take a boat trip out to the islands. Alcatraz is known for its old federal prison and is steeped in history, whilst on Angel Island; it is fun to walk up to the top of Mt Livermore for incredible views of the city.
With Napa Valley and Sonoma County just an hour’s drive away, there are plenty of good wines to sample during your stay in San Francisco.
With more than 3,000 restaurants, it is definitely easy to find something good to eat, ranging from hearty American favorites, Italian and Mexican, to Peruvian and Nepalese.
Chrysoula Manika | Travel Passionate
Also Read: Top 10 Tourist Attractions in San Francisco
One of the best vacation spots in the US with fantastic weather year-round would be Oahu in Hawaii.
Called the 'Gathering Place', Oahu does resemble that with a melting pot of cultures, foods and people moving to the island to live the paradise lifestyle that is slower, activity-driven and full of Aloha.
For visitors, basing yourself in Honolulu or the Waikiki neighborhood gives access to plenty of beach time, shopping fun, dining and drinking venues along with historic parts of the city you can explore, hike up to Diamond Head for amazing views of the city and coastlines or do some fun adventure activity like swimming, snorkeling or even take a surfing lesson on the soft sandy beaches at Waikiki.
You can easily walk to the major attractions around Waikiki or take public transportation or Uber to sites outside of the city.
Close by are wonderful museums, botanical gardens and waterfalls, fantastic little towns and iconic Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona, which are the most important historical monuments of the city.
Check out this post on the top things to do in Honolulu for more inspiration, images and wonderful places to visit in this exciting and fun city in Oahu.
Noel Morata | This Hawaii Life
Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Hawaii
Washington D.C. may be the political capital of the most powerful country in the world, but it is also one of the prettiest and historic cities in the world as well.
Historical Landmarks like the National Mall, Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the National World War II Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the National Archives, the Smithsonian, and of course, the White House; are just a fraction of the attractions in Washington DC.
The Smithsonian alone can take an entire year to explore and it is truly one of the marvels of the modern world.
The city is also a center for performing arts, with the JFK Center for Performing Arts being one of the most coveted performing venues for emerging artists.
Being one of the best places to vacation in the US, it is famous for its food joints with popular restaurants like Ben's Chili, Old Ebbitt Grill, the Occidental Grill, and Martin's Tavern being popular joints for locals and tourists.
Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Washington D.C.
Miami is beautiful! This gorgeous city is one of the most popular places to visit in the USA for its year-long summery weather, vast green spaces, charming streets, and hopping nightlife. The city is also a nodal center for arts, music, education, fashion, and much more.
Tourists to the city flock to the music festivals like the Calle Ocho Festival held at vast performing avenues like the Florida Grand Opera, the Gusman Center for Performing Arts, Jackie Gleason Theater, and Ring Theater.
The city has pristine beaches, thousands of museums like the Frost Art Museum, and a hopping nightlife dominated by Cuban, Colombian, French West Indies, and Brazilian musical influences.
Miami is also home to a unique fusion cuisine called the Floribbean style of cooking.
Also Read: Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Miami
Everyone knows about Las Vegas and its alluring attractions. The desert-based casino city has already been immortalized in print and TV media for its stunning casinos and associated attractions.
If not for anything else, Sin City is a must-visit for its live music and theater shows, fine dining, and some of the best nightclubs in the world.
And then there are all the bright lights that illuminate the Las Vegas Strip any and every night of the week, come rain or shine.
Without any doubt, it is one of the best places to vacation in the US that simply radiates an energy that is contagious. You might find that you do not want to leave.
Also Read: Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Las Vegas
Chicago is undoubtedly one of America’s best places to visit in any season. This northern city in the USA packs a massive punch when it comes to food and culture.
Firstly, Chicago is utterly beautiful with gorgeous art deco buildings featuring gilding and chandeliers around every corner. Frank Lloyd Wright’s ‘The Rookery’ is a great example of this style and the lobby is completely free to pop into and take a look.
Sports lovers will delight in all that Chicago has to offer, with the iconic Wrigley Field baseball ground located on the outskirts of the city and the United Centre (home of the Chicago Bulls and Chicago Blackhawks) featuring many great basketball and ice hockey matches throughout the year.
The food in Chicago is also hard to beat. Deep dish pizza is definitely a must-try, but also make sure you sample a roast beef sandwich dipped in drippings from Al’s Italian Beef and a Chicago-style hotdog from Portillos.
Millennium Park is one of the city’s most famous drawcards, where the bean shaped Cloud Gate sculpture is situated. This is one of Chicago’s most photographed sites, but it is definitely not the only thing to see in Millennium Park.
Once you’ve finished with Cloud Gate, wander down to the Crown Fountain, where two pillars sit at either end of a reflecting pool. On the pillars are projected the faces of socially and ethnically diverse Chicago locals.
Emma Caldwell | Emma Jane Explores
Accomodation: 10 Best Family-Friendly Hotels in Chicago
New Orleans is seeing a revival that has not been seen anywhere in the US since the early 2000s. The city was devastated by Hurricane Katrina but a ton of effort has managed to bring back the beautiful city to at least 50% of its original beauty.
The beautiful architecture of the city is a must-see and a quick visit to the Historic District Landmarks Commission will direct you to the right spots to stop and gawk.
Of course, New Orleans is the birthplace of Jazz and a visit to this beautiful place is incomplete without checking out the local nightlife, live music bands, antique shops, and ethnic food.
The French Quarter, in particular, is a must-visit for its unique atmosphere and magnificent architecture.
Also Read: Top 10 Tourist Attractions in New Orleans
Seattle, Washington is one of the most naturally stunning places to vacation in the US, tucked between two mountain ranges, the Olympics and the Cascades, and along the Puget Sound.
Seattle has several iconic attractions that are not to be missed during your visit. For example, Pike Place Market, founded in the early 1900s right along the Eliot Bay, is a bustling market full of unique coffee shops, vendors, peddling everything from spices to crystals, and even an infamous alleyway full of used chewing gum (lovingly known as the “Gum Wall”).
Another popular attraction is the Space Needle, Seattle’s most iconic building built in 1961 for the World’s Fair, which has a spectacular observation deck to provide panoramic views of the city and the surrounding mountains.
If you’re instead looking for a more active way to explore Seattle, consider renting a stand-up paddleboard or kayak at either Alki Beach or Lake Union for stunning views of the Seattle skyline and even a chance to spot a harbor seal or two!
After burning off all those calories, you probably need to carb up - consider visiting the Ballard neighborhood, which has a ton of breweries within walking distance to one another (in fact, over ten in one square mile!).
While the city itself is absolutely worth exploring, Seattle’s surrounding areas demand just as much attention- consider taking side trips to any of the three national parks within two and a half hours of city limits- Mount Rainier, Olympic, or Northern Cascades.
Regardless if you prefer having adventures in more urban or natural settings, Seattle is a beautiful city to explore!
Jessica Schmit | Uprooted Traveler
Accomodation: 10 Best Family-Friendly Hotels in Seattle
Sacramento is not only the capital city of California but also one of the best places to vacation in the USA that offers plenty of attractions, historical sights, natural beauty, and several cultural events.
Although you will find so many free things to do in Sacramento, but as a travel destination, it is not that popular like other California cities.
Founded in 1849, this old California city is located at the confluence of two impressive rivers. The thriving cultural scene, gorgeous architecture, and lush vegetation are the main highlights of Sacramento.
Start your city tour with the California State Capitol Museum, a perfect place for history and art lovers. This is an administrative building of the California State Government where you can see the best of California’s glorious past.
You can get a free guided tour to explore the assembly rooms and senate chambers. It is a fun and informative tour and doesn’t miss the documentary films at the basement theatre of the building.
Next, visit the Old Sacramento State Historic Park, a famous historic landmark of the city. The entire area is basically the 1850’s downtown district, where you get to see many historic buildings and Spanish architecture, including the Eagle Theater, B.F. Hastings Building, and the Big Four Building.
Discover the area and its popular museum, including Old Sacramento Schoolhouse Museum, California Automobile Museum, Sacramento History Museum, and many more.
There is also a beautiful bridge named Tower Bridge that connects west Sacrament to east. The bridge has a unique design and it is painted with a gold color, which looks majestic during sunset.
There is no shortage of festivals in Sacramento. Music fans will find music festivals and free concerts almost every weekend.
Trijit Mallick | BudgetTravelBuff
Also Read: Top 25 Tourist Attractions in Sacramento
Austin is the state capital of Texas and one of the coolest places to vacation in the United States. It offers over 300 parks, 18714 acres of green space and 227 miles of trails, including Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail and Zilker Metropolitan Park.
If you are interested in more rugged outdoor appeal, you only have to drive west to reach the beautiful Hill Country. You can find the stunning Enchanted Rock, where you can climb the ancient pink granite dome for amazing Hill Country views.
Magical quaint little towns like Fredericksburg, with its wine country, and Luckenbach, are also available for even more adventure.
For fascinating lessons in history, you have easy access to two sites.
First, the Bob Bullock Museum, where you can learn all about the people, places and events that shaped Texas - from independence from Mexico, Civil War, the Great Depression, and more. Second is the short drive to the beautiful and fascinating San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.
At the end of a long day of exploring, Austin also offers you a lot of pleasures. Austin is home to an exciting live-music scene highlighting country, blues and rock and it is a foodie’s paradise with countless amazing restaurants.
It is considered to have one of the best nightlife scenes with over 60 bars alone on 6th Street.
Nicole Hunter | Go Far Grow Close
Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Austin
Colorado Springs is one of America's best places to visit due to its stunning backdrop of Pikes Peak mountain (14,115 feet) and Garden of the Gods. Clear blue skies and sunshine most days make it a great vacation destination and be active outdoors in all four seasons.
Top things to do here include exploring Garden of the Gods, driving up to the top of Pikes Peak, riding zip lines over Seven Falls, meeting giraffes, hippos, or penguins at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, mountain biking in Colorado Springs open spaces, or hopping on a hiking trail to a gorgeous waterfall or awesome view.
You also don’t want to miss the brand new United States Olympic and Paralympic Museum, interactive and inspiring for all ages!
Colorado Springs historical Broadmoor Resort sits at the base of Cheyenne Mountain and is fun for a stay, a dinner, or just to walk around the grounds and peruse the huge Western Art collection.
Nearby, you’ll find treasures, like the Pioneers Museum, delicious brewpubs like the Bristol inside the old Ivy Wild School, and more unique restaurants and coffee shops.
Nearby, Manitou Springs is home to the famous Incline - climb 2,000 feet in elevation in 2,768 steps. Don’t be surprised if an Olympian in training passes by.
For a day trip, the epic Royal Gorge is just an hour away, and whitewater rafting along the Arkansas River is worth the drive.
In addition to all the ways to enjoy fresh mountain air and sunshine year-round, Colorado Springs continues to improve or add new attractions.
With new boutique hotels like Kinship Landing, the new and improved Pikes Peak Cog Railway opening in late spring, the new Pikes Peak - America’s Mountain Summit Visitor Center opening summer 2021, as well as a new soccer complex and event venue coming downtown, there’s always a fresh new vibe to celebrate in this Rocky Mountain city.
Tanya Raedeke | Rad Family Travel
Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Colorado
The Grand Canyon is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the USA. It is recognized as one of the greatest seven natural wonders of the world because of its incredible scale, size and breathtaking landscape.
Stretching over 277 miles long and 4 to 18 miles wide, and with a maximum depth of 6,093, the Grand Canyon is truly a sight to behold.
The most popular area of the Grand Canyon is the South Rim. When visiting the Grand Canyon, most visitors spend a day driving the South Rim and enjoying the views from each lookout. The South Rim is a “do it yourself” location, with visitors able to stop and go along the viewing areas as they please.
Aside from driving the South Rim, there are day-long and multiple-day hikes, mule rides through the Grand Canyon, and more. Another way to enjoy the Grand Canyon is from above during a helicopter ride.
First-time visitors to the Grand Canyon should pre-plan the adventure to make the most of the visit. It is recommended to have at least one solid day to explore and additional time set aside to include some hiking.
Accommodations inside the National Park fill up extremely fast, so reserve well enough in advance. There are camping and RV options available, as well as lodging. Bright Angel Lodge & Cabins is a great place to stay, is a National Historic Landmark, and even its surrounding cabins have a cultural history.
Debbie Fettback | World Adventurists
Also Read: Most Beautiful Places in the USA
Lake Tahoe is a place of natural beauty and inspires even the most experienced traveler. It is genuinely picturesque, from dazzling expanses of crystal clear waters to the surrounding pine forest and the snow-topped mountains. This place has it all.
The vast freshwater lake is situated in the Serra Nevada mountains found on California and Nevada's border and is known for its prolific beaches and ski resorts. The lake is one of the world's purest and is the closest natural form of distilled water you can find. Lake Tahoe is one of the oldest lakes globally and is known to be over two million years old.
Lake Tahoe is one of the best vacation spots in the US. You can spend your days hiking the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Skiing down the slopes of Squaw Valley ski resort where you will find a bird's eye view of the Heavenly Gondola or explore the water activities of Emerald Bay.
Lake Tahoe is an all-year-round destination spot and draws in outdoor adventurers and nature lovers to the area. Throughout the summer months, popular activities include; nature walks, hiking, cycling, and watersports. Lake Tahoe truly becomes a spectacle through the winter months and allows for skiing, sledding, snowshoeing, and sleigh riding.
Guided tours of the Tallac Historic Site are available and focus on the local history, including the history of native Washoe people, and show the house's original features, such as the 1930's kitchen.
The area is full of natural beauty with broad and varied activities for everyone to enjoy.
Catalin Geangos | www.traveltrained.com
Also Read: Top 10 Things To Do In and Around Lake Tahoe
Nestled in the heart of the stunning San Juan Mountains, Telluride is probably the most beautiful mountain town in the entire United States.
This charming mountain locale has everything you could ever dream of if you're into nature getaways. Some of the best activities in Telluride include astonishing waterfalls (Bridal Veils Falls is a must), alpine lakes that will make your jaw drop to the ground and some of the best hikes Colorado has to offer.
Nearby, you will also find the exhilarating Telluride Via Feratta, a hiking and climbing adventure high up on the mountains that use metal cables and requires a harness (it's not for the faint of heart, but it's definitely a bucket list experience if you're a fan of heart-pumping adventures!).
Moreover, you can also enjoy plenty of offroad driving, insane 14er hikes for every experience level and some of the best skiing Colorado has to offer during the winter months.
For a day spent relaxing after indulging in Telluride's activities, head to the historic Main Street to find quaint eateries (Esperanzas Tequila Restaurant and the Smuggler-Union Brewery are great choices) as well as unique shops or choose from one of the many cozy hot springs in and around the town!
Teeming with scenic mountains and dotted with beautiful lakes, Telluride is a worthy contender for one of the best places to vacation in America.
Meg Atteberry | Fox in the Forest
Boston is one of the best destinations to vacation in the US for many different reasons. Boston is a fantastic walking city - most of the historical sites, amazing restaurants, and cool shopping areas are just a few minutes away from each other along flat paths that take you through parks, along the waterfront or into exciting neighborhoods.
Boston is a foodie town. You could spend days walking and eating. If you prefer to explore with a guide while eating, opt for a food tour, like the Boston Secret Food Tour. You can explore Little Italy and other parts of Boston, learn about its history, and get to eat a lot of delicious food.
Another must-do activity is walking the Freedom Trail, which is a 2.5-mile easy walk through downtown Boston that connects 16 famous historical monuments and sites. You can do this on your own by downloading the free app or choosing one of the free walking tours.
A fun evening activity is to go to Improv Asylum and watch some improv. There are lots of showtimes, and the tickets are not that expensive.
Nicole Hunter | Go Far Grow Close
Big Bend National Park and the surrounding area known locally as “Big Bend Country”, offer some of the wildest, most remote places to visit in the continental USA--if you’re looking for an unforgettable trip, you’re bound to find one here!
Covering both mountainous and desert terrain, you’ll find a huge variety of sights in Big Bend Country.
Big Bend National Park is located on the southern edge of West Texas, sharing a border with Mexico next door--in fact, many of the most popular parts of Big Bend include views of Mexico!
Some of the best Big Bend hikes include the Santa Elena Canyon Trail along the Rio Grande, the Windows Trail leading to a waterfall pour-off, and the challenging Emory Peak, which rewards visitors with sweeping mountain views.
In addition to Big Bend National Park itself, some of the most popular places to visit in the area include Big Bend Ranch State Park (home to a gorgeous slot canyon, hoodoos, and the chance to swim in the Rio Grande), the quirky town of Marfa, the famous Texas ghost town of Terlingua, and other beloved small towns like Marathon, Alpine, and Fort Davis.
Given that this is West Texas, though, home of wide-open spaces and giant skies, “close” is relative--driving from Marfa to the trailhead for the popular Windows Trail, for example, will take 2.5 hours!
If you’re willing to log some hours in the car, though, you just may find yourself completely smitten with the rugged beauty of Big Bend Country.
Kate Storm | Lone Star Travel Guide
Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Texas
If you’ve ever been to Washington state, you probably saw a huge snow-peaked mountain that looks like the Paramount Pictures logo looming in the distance. That 14,411-foot peak is actually a volcano, and it’s the 5th tallest peak in the lower 48 states. You can see it up close by visiting Mount Rainier National Park, which was designated the USA’s 5th national park in 1899.
The park has more than 240,000 acres of forest, which makes it one of the best places to vacation in the US if you’re a nature lover. There are 5 main sections to explore: Longmire, Paradise, Ohanapecosh, Sunrise, and Carbon River/Mowich.
Paradise and Sunrise are the most popular areas. Both of these are about a 2.5 hour drive from Seattle, but they’re about a 1.5 hour drive between each other since they’re on opposite sides of the volcano.
May through October is the best time to visit so you can go on the best hikes at Mount Rainier National Park without snow. From Paradise, don’t miss the Skyline Trail. It’s a 5.5-mile loop offering breathtaking views of mountain peaks dotted with wildflowers in spring or bright oranges and reds in fall.
Another not-to-be-missed hike near Paradise is Bench & Snow Lakes. This 2.7-mile hike is surprisingly less-frequented and takes you to two gorgeous lakes with different scenery. Pro tip if it’s a sunny day: make a quick stop at Reflection Lakes right before you reach the Bench & Snow Lakes parking lot. You’ll get a crystal-clear reflection of the volcano in the water.
If you’re visiting the Sunrise area, make sure to take the Naches Peak Loop hike. It’s a relatively easy 3.2-mile loop that is beautiful in fall, thanks to fiery red plants dotting the hills. If you start early, you can do all of these hikes and rest during the drive between Paradise and Sunrise.
Adria Saracino | The Emerald Palate
Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Washington State
One of the top vacation destinations in the United States is Key West and it is easy to see why! At just eight square miles, this island is a tropical paradise for all ages! No matter what your interest, one can find plenty of attractions to experience, all while enjoying the beautiful weather.
On Key West, “It’s five o’clock somewhere” is basically the unofficial motto and Duval Street is a popular and festive destination. Here, you can enjoy plenty of fruity drinks at the many waterfront bars to get that ultimate vacation feel.
Even with the party vibes, Key West is also a place beloved by history buffs. Being so close to Cuba and an island outpost since colonial times, this area has been a central part of history.
Famous landmarks include Fort Zachary Taylor, the Hemingway House and the Truman Little White House. One can even climb to the top of the Key West Lighthouse, which has been around since 1825!
Of course, natural beauty is what can’t be missed on a trip to Key West. A visit to Smathers Beach or the Key West Nature Preserves shows what a unique destination Key West truly is. With panoramic sunset views every day on the island, it is hard not to appreciate the majestic nature of the island.
Amy Gilbride | The Florida Travel Girl
Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Florida
One of the best US vacation spots is the charming island of Nantucket outside Cape Cod in Massachusetts. There are plenty of things to do, from shopping to visiting museums to learn about the island’s history.
Worth visiting are the Nantucket Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum, Nantucket Whaling Museum, and Museum of African American History.
While Downtown is packed with things to do, the rest of the island is a dream to explore by bike with long, white sanded beaches and lighthouses.
Make sure you visit Siasconset, where you find some of the oldest houses on the island and walk the stunning Sconset Bluff Walk along the cliffs overlooking the beach all the way to Sankatay Head Lighthouse.
This is a magical spot at sunset! Chill on the beach at Surfside or go for a walk in the lush green forest in Millbrook or the Gardener Farm walk. You are guaranteed calm forest trails with wildlife all around you.
Finally, make sure you head to Madaket for the beaches. There are plenty of great hotels to stay in Nantucket and you can travel by ferry from Hyannis or take a plane, as the island has its own airport.
Nantucket is without a doubt one of the best places to visit in New England whether you travel as a family, couple or solo.
Linn Haglund | Brainy Backpackers
The spectacular Oregon Coast should be high on anyone’s list of cool places to vacation in the US. The 363 mile stretch of rugged coastline is free and open to the public, making this area perfect for an Oregon road trip or scenic getaway.
US Highway 101 follows the coastline from historic Astoria in the north to Brookings Harbour in the south, just north of the California border. The scenery along this stretch will blow you away even if you drove straight through. But don’t even think about doing that; there’s far too much worth stopping for.
The Oregon Coast is dotted with quaint seaside towns, iconic lighthouses, impressive cliffs, acres of parkland, rolling sand dunes and of course, miles of unspoiled beaches. Needless to say, you will want to spend several days exploring this pride of Oregon.
There are many towns on the Oregon coast worth a stop, but some of the most popular are: Seaside with its glorious boardwalk promenade, Newport for the charming waterfront main street, Yachats for its typical small town charm, and Depoe Bay for whale watching right from town.
As for beaches, they’re endless. Cannon Beach has the iconic sea stacks you’ll see in most Oregon Coast brochures. The beach at Fort Stevens State Park has a shipwreck partially buried in the sand. Rockaway Beach offers golden sand that seems to go on forever, and then there’s the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area with miles of natural sand dunes.
Among the dozens of seaside towns and beautiful beaches to explore, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to shop, eat, drink, hike, view wildlife and take photos of the many lighthouses along the way.
Sarah | Discover the PNW
Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Oregon
Portland is known as a place where “weird is cool”, but there is a lot more to this city than its quirks. Oregon’s largest metropolis boasts close proximity to both the coast and the mountains, making it a great jumping-off point for exploring more of what the state has to offer. However, there are enough things to do in Portland to keep you busy for weeks!
For starters, Portland is near some excellent hiking, so lace up those shoes and get some fresh air. While we’re on the subject of nature, you’ll definitely want to pay a visit to some of the waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge, which is just a 40-minute drive from the city center. While in Portland itself, pay a visit to the iconic Pittock Mansion and the world’s largest independent bookstore, Powell’s.
When you begin to feel hungry, you’re in luck because the city has an excellent and varied food scene. Find everything from top-notch world cuisine to sinfully delicious vegan meals to food trucks that will make you forget you’re ordering dinner from a vehicle.
There is something in this city for every type of foodie to enjoy. After filling up on food, Portland is the perfect place to wash your meal down with a beverage of choice. Portland has one of the best craft beer scenes in the entire United States; plus, the nearby wine region is world-renowned for producing excellent pinot noirs.
Whether you're looking for quirky fun, excellent food, a lively nightlife scene, or epic outdoor adventures, Portland has it all!
Katie Diederichs | Two Wandering Soles
Idyllic Carmel-by-the-Sea on California's Monterey Peninsula is one of the most beautiful beach towns in the USA.
To call Carmel special would be an understatement. Heavenly Carmel on the Pacific coast is regularly rated one of America's top beach towns, one of the best places to vacation in the USA, and the pet-friendliest town in the US.
Absolutely charming Carmel is world-celebrated for its superb setting and artistic history. At the beginning of the 20th century, dreamy Carmel became an art colony that attracted writers, poets, painters, and other artists who produced in Carmel some of the finest examples of artworks in the US.
Later in the 20s, stunning Carmel became home to some of the greatest actors ever - the legendary Clint Eastwood and magnificent Doris Day, who still call Carmel their home.
Today fairytale-like Carmel is an upscale American destination famed for the romantic ambiance, historic Carmel Mission basilica, the gorgeous sandy Carmel beach, picturesque tree-shaded cobbled streets, majestic ocean vistas, elegant European-style houses, prestigious Maisons, picture book-like cottages, world-class art galleries, first-rate fine-dining restaurants, extravagant shops, romantic inns, and luxury boutique hotels.
If you would like to pamper yourself with a prestigious American gateway, romantic Carmel offers nature, luxury, relaxation, and pleasure.
Book your room at Clint Eastwood’s Mission Ranch Hotel in Carmel, relax, surf, and sunbath on the Carmel Beach, admire the fairytale cottages, inspect Carmel’s art galleries, shop in Carmel’s boutique shops, do some wine tasting in the exquisite wine rooms, visit Carmel Mission basilica, explore the trails of the nearby Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, and drive scenic 17-Mile Drive that starts in Carmel and ends in Pacific Grove. An unforgettable vacation in the US is granted!
Carmel is about 2 hours south of San Francisco and about 5 hours north of Los Angeles. Magical Carmel is an unmissable stop on the scenic route from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
Carmel is a year-round destination with moderate temperatures throughout the year. While summers on the Californian coast can be foggy, the clearest skies in Carmel are in spring and fall. September and October are the best time for visiting Carmel for the sunniest days.
Milijana Gabric | World Travel Connector
Spanning over 200,000 acres, Shenandoah National Park is calling with its beautiful waterfalls, incredible vistas, vast expanses and dense forests. Since it was established in 1935, it has protected the habitats of over 50 mammals, including black bears, white-tailed deer, bobcats and more.
Shenandoah National Park is a huge draw for locals and visitors alike as it has some of the best hikes in the United States. With over 500 miles of trails to explore, there is guaranteed to be a trail for you no matter your skill level.
Hikers can also tackle part of the famous Appalachian Trail, which runs through the park. If you want to tackle as many of these trails as possible, plan to camp at one of the seasonal campgrounds within the park or a free backcountry permit if you're a more experienced camper.
If you're short on time but still want to see some of Shenandoah National Park, be sure to enjoy the views from the lookouts along the famous Skyline Drive. It's a must for any Virginia road trip itinerary!
Some of the best lookouts include the Buckhollow, Rockytop and Turk Mountain Overlooks; however, you'll find breathtaking views at every single pullout. These views are just some of the reasons why so many people fall in love with Shenandoah!
Lindsay Davies | I've Been Bit
Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is one of America’s best places to visit for an adventure vacation. The town of Jackson is the heart of the valley and a great base for outdoor excursions.
Visitors can find many hotels, restaurants, and other amenities in Jackson, as well as a bustling town square with a plethora of local art galleries and souvenir shops.
Surrounding Jackson is ski resorts, scenery, and activities. Snake River runs through the area and is one of the most exciting rivers to raft down in the USA. The National Museum of Wildlife Art and Teton Village are also great to visit.
Perhaps the most famous attraction is Grand Tetons National Park.
The Grand Tetons are pointy, jagged mountains that draw people from all over the world with their beauty. Hikers, photographers, and outdoor enthusiasts all come to gaze upon the mountains and spend time around them.
One of the most noteworthy locations to enjoy the Tetons is Mormon Row, a historical settlement with photogenic barns and a backdrop of the Tetons. Other gorgeous views are found at Schwabacher Landing, Oxbow Bend, and Snake River Overlook.
Within the park, taking a hike is mandatory! Hidden Falls, near Jenny Lake, is one of the most popular trails, which leads through a vibrant forest to a roaring waterfall and on to stunning views of the lake and valley below. It can be reached via a quick boat trip for a fee or for free by hiking around the lake.
The lakes in the area are incredible—many have walkable shorelines and water reflecting the Tetons. String Lake, Leigh Lake, and the massive Jackson Lake offer recreational activities from boating to fishing to swimming.
No matter where visitors go in Jackson Hole and the Grand Tetons, they are sure to find breathtaking sights and unforgettable experiences!
McKenna Hurd | One More Step Travels
One of the most unique and best places to vacation in America is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Everglades National Park. The park is located south of Florida, and it is the largest designated sub-tropical wilderness reserve on the North America Territory.
The area is a vast and flat wetland, with rich coastal and marine ecosystems, making this place a sanctuary for a large number of birds and reptiles, manatee, the Florida panther, and the American crocodile.
You can explore the Everglades by foot, car, or boat, and every experience is unique. Adventure enthusiasts can discover the beauty of the Everglades by canoe or kayak and there are many options for guided tours, including the famous airboat tours.
Another unique place to visit in the area is the Ten Thousand Islands Wildlife Refuge, located at the northern edge of the Everglades National Park and just south of Marco Island.
The expanse of mangrove islands extends for miles and is a constantly changing natural wonder. A visit to these protected parks is both a journey back in time and an opportunity to explore a unique ecosystem that you can't see anywhere else in the US.
Both of these parks are quite remote but easily accessible. It is possible to explore these environments on a day trip from Miami or Naples. You can also add nearby attractions such as Marco Island and the Florida Keys to your Everglades National Park trip itinerary.
Paula Martinelli | Paula Pins the Planet
Glacier National Park is one of the top national parks and the most spectacular places to vacation in the United States, especially in summer.
Glacier’s gorgeous cascading waterfalls and hundreds of streams come roaring to life as snowmelt gives way to long summer days. Alpine lakes throughout the park offer solitude along the shore or on a paddleboard.
From West Glacier headed east, don’t miss Apgar Village and Lake McDonald before climbing the Going-to-the-Sun Road up to Logan Pass for a quick overlook hike to Hidden Lake.
From the top of the Continental Pass, continue east towards St. Mary and be sure to explore both nearby Many Glacier and Two Medicine. Consider yourself lucky if you snag a campsite at stunning Many Glacier.
Fabulous hikes include Avalanche Lake via Trail of Cedars, just after Lake McDonald but before Logan Pass. Or consider the High Line Trail or hike St. Mary and Virginia Falls Trail.
Many people only drive through Glacier or explore this park for a couple of days. Stay for a week and you’ll have time for all kinds of outdoor adventures like river rafting, kayaking, fishing, and more. Or drive up to Polebridge for huckleberry bear claws and a sweet time at Bowman Lake.
July and August are popular times to visit Glacier as the days are long and warm. Pro Tip: Avoid crowds on the trails by saving your hikes for later in the afternoon -- most folks will be heading out in search of dinner while you embark with a picnic dinner in your pack. If you can wait until early September, Glacier is still showing off until the first big snow closes Logan Pass.
Tanya Raedeke | Rad Family Travel
Moab is the adventure capital of the United States. For those interested in adventure activities and/ or national parks, then this is the place to be.
First up, Arches National Park is just five miles away and since there are only one campground and no lodges inside the park, almost all visitors stay in Moab. Visitors can easily spend several days exploring all of the arches, fins and other natural features by driving and hiking in the park.
Moab is also the main gateway city for Canyonlands National Park. The Island in the Sky section of the park is 32 miles/ 40 minutes away and the Needles section is 75 miles away.
There is a stunning scenic drive through the Island in the Sky and there are several epic hikes, including the famous Mesa Arch. Dead Horse Point State Park is also just 32 miles from Moab.
Moab has plenty of outfitters and operators who can organize a wide range of adventure activities. Adventurers can go rock climbing on nearby cliffs or canyoneering in several very different narrow slot canyons.
There are also some of the country’s most epic mountain bike trails, such as the Whole Enchilada and Porcupine Rim. For less experienced bikers who still want to give it a try, there are easier trails as well. For those who prefer to get wet, one-, two- and three-day white water rafting trips on the nearby Colorado River are available.
Moab is also a great place just to hang out. There are plenty of stores, nice restaurants and fun bars, along with a wide range of accommodations, from camping to resorts and everything in between.
No matter what you like to do, you will love visiting Moab.
James Ian | Parks Collecting
Also Read: Top 10 Things To Do in Moab, Utah
Santa Barbara is one of the most beautiful destinations along the Central California Coast, about 2 hours from Los Angeles.
Thanks to a combination of year-round sunshine and temperatures in the 60’s and 70’s, coupled with rich history and opportunities for the outdoors, Santa Barbara is a popular stop for many travelers who come to California.
If you plan a visit to Santa Barbara, it is recommended to spare at least three days for your trip. Begin with a stop at El Presidio De Santa Barbara State Historic Park, an open-air museum where you can learn the history of this place. From here, you can continue to explore downtown Santa Barbara where you can shop, dine and explore the city’s beautiful courthouse.
Another option is to stop at Old Mission Santa Barbara, one of the top historic landmarks in the area and one of many missions built in coastal areas of California by the Spanish.
Whether you are visiting Santa Barbara in summer, fall or even winter, make sure to hit the beach because the city boasts amazing beaches where you can surf, kayak and bike along the coast. If you have extra time, you can take a day trip to the nearby Channel Islands National Park - one of the most remote national parks in America that can only be reached by boat from Ventura.
For sunset, head to Stearns Wharf in the harbor of Santa Barbara - the oldest working wharf in California.
And if you like wine, spare a day for a trip to the nearby Santa Ynez Valley, and specifically the charming town of Los Olivia, where you can taste world-famous types of wine.
Daria Bachmann | The Discovery Nut
Lake Geneva is at a small distance and a short drive from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It is one of the best places to vacation in the US and a charming tourist destination.
It is a great place to visit because it offers various fun activities, shopping spots and crazy adventures all year round. With the combination of land and water, Lake Geneva has a list of activities for tourists to enjoy.
On the visit, you can start with getting scooter rentals and tours. It is one of the top things that people relish as they get to explore the corners of Lake Geneva. Get an easy guided tour and ride the scooter without trouble.
After that, you can go on trailing around the lake. The routes around the lake are among the most beautiful parts of the place and there's nothing better than trailing the 26-mile Lake Geneva Shore Path. It is for free. Walking through the trail offers the view on both sides of the lake and the houses alongside, too.
Staying in a historic mansion is one of a kind experience. While people cherish the view of luxurious and historic mansions, it is more reviving to stay in them. If wondering where to stay in Lake Geneva, it is best to prefer Baker House. It is a famous 1885-built lakefront mansion that offers a phenomenal stay.
You can give it a conclusion to the evening by visiting a local dive bar to enjoy delicious cocktails. Having drinks with a view is the best part about visiting Lake Geneva.
Paulina | Paulina On The Road
Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Wisconsin
Denver is a beautiful mountain city with a strong cultural vibe and great vegan food. The city of Denver offers many attractions, museums, concerts and restaurants for foodies.
A top attraction in Denver is the Red Rock Amphitheater. If you’re able to visit during a performance, definitely get the tickets and make the most of the opportunity. One can spend a few hours or a full day exploring the park, the amphitheater and hiking in the park.
The naturally slanted red rocks look quite dramatic and form the perfect setup for one of the most famous natural outdoor amphitheaters in the US. It’s one of the most coveted stages for any artist to perform on.
Denver is one of the best places to vacation in the USA and a gateway to incredible adventures in the Rocky Mountains. If you have time in Colorado, here is a six-day itinerary of activities around Denver.
To the northwest of the city are activities in Boulder, Estes Park, Drake, and Rocky Mountain National Park. To the south are the great outdoors in Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak, Cheyenne Canyon and Painted Mines Interpretive Park.
Each of these can be day trips or weekend trips from Denver to some of the most incredible experiences. In winter, the mountains offer world-class skiing. Sports enthusiasts must check out the US Olympics training centers around Denver. You may even run into some great athletes exercising in the Red Rock Amphitheater.
Jyoti | Story at Every Corner
There are few places in the United States more scenic than Southern Utah. The southern portion of the Beehive State is home to both Bryce and Zion National Parks, as well as Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, the last area of the lower 48 states to be mapped officially.
With its unspoiled landscape and remote wide-open spaces, the region boasts some of the best hikes in the country. From the jaw-dropping canyons and cliffs at Zion National Park to the red rock hoodoos in Bryce Canyon, Southern Utah should be on every USA bucket list. Spend a day hiking Buckskin Gulch, the Narrows, or one of the other famous slot canyons in Utah.
For an even more adventurous hike, journey up the narrow, cliffside trail to Angel's Landing for panoramic views of Zion National Park, or give your lungs and legs a workout by hiking down a series of switchbacks from the ridge of Bryce Canyon to the floor of the valley where the beautiful rock spires known as hoodoos will tower above you.
Give yourself at least three or four days in southern Utah, and bring your hiking shoes! This area of the USA is best experienced one trailhead at a time.
Melissa | Parenthood and Passports
Savannah, GA, is one of the most popular destinations to visit in the United States, and for a good reason! Visitors love the city’s oak-lined streets, antebellum homes, and historic landmarks found throughout the downtown area.
When planning a trip, you’ll first need to decide the best time of year to visit Savannah. The city is beautiful year-round, and the temperate weather means there’s no “bad” time to visit. Some seasons are simply prettier than others!
If your budget allows, select accommodations in the Historic District, which is small and easily walkable. From there, you can explore some of Savannah’s most well-known streets, such as River Street, Broughton Street, and Jones Street – which is sometimes considered the prettiest street in America.
A few must-see landmarks include the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist, Bonaventure Cemetery, and Wormsloe Historic Site. If you prefer house tours, the Owens-Thomas House and Slave Quarters is a very educational tour, or you can see the stunningly decorated Mercer-Williams House, which was made famous by the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
Savannah is known for being a foodies town, and Southern-style restaurants top the list. A classic option to try is The Olde Pink House, which is located in a beautiful pink mansion built in 1771. Mrs. Wilke’s Dining Room is another popular spot for Southern-style food, as is Crystal Beer Parlor. For Southern dining with a unique twist, head to Treylor Park for options like their PB&J Wings.
Erin Clarkson | Savannah First Timer
If you’re trying to put together a US bucket list or work out a dream journey, you should make sure Acadia National Park is high up on that list - you won’t regret it.
In Maine and not far from Portland, you’ll find the Crown Jewel of the North Atlantic Coastline. Acadia is one of the more popular national parks in North America, and for a good reason. It’s a playground for adventure lovers and is a fantastic place for year-round nature appreciation, with coastal scenes, dense woodlands and rocky peaks.
Though the park is great for all outdoor pursuits, it’s the Acadia hiking trails most people come for. You’ll find a huge variety of marked trails, from beginner options with the family to day-long grueling epics that will suit more advanced hikers.
One of the biggest draws to the park is its year-round temptation. Come in summer and you can enjoy breathtaking coastal hiking trails under the rays; in winter, you’ll see epic frozen landscapes; spring is a beautiful time to watch the flowers blooming; autumn and you’ll get an absolute delight for leaf-peeping!
To visit the park, you’ll find a variety of campsites but also guesthouses and hostels closer to Blue Harbor.
Josh and Sarah | Veggie Vagabonds
The last on our list of the best places to vacation in the US is the city of Charleston in the state of South Carolina. Charleston is a very beautiful place with interesting architecture, a great culture, and overall a wonderful atmosphere.
There are lots of great things to do and see in the city. One of the best things to do in Charleston is visiting the colorful houses in the city. These are all throughout the historic French Quarter. Rainbow Row is one of the most beautiful examples of this. It is a street with houses that all have a different color.
Another great activity in Charleston is visiting Waterfront Park. This is a great place to relax and there is a beautiful fountain. A unique activity in Charleston is going on a carriage ride, which is a very historic activity where it's possible to see many areas of the city.
Besides that, going to the beach is great to do as well when visiting Charleston. The best place for this is Folly Beach, which is the closest beach to downtown Charleston.
Also, there are great things to do alone in Charleston. For example, there is a walking tour where it's possible to learn a lot about the history of Charleston or you can do a ghost tour at the USS Yorktown.
Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Charleston