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Ah, your 20s, good times; a decade where most of us are (read; were – *stares wistfully into the distance as a single, solitary tear rolls down the cheek and splashes on keyboard*) full of energy and a sense of invincibility (*weeping intensifies*).
The best thing to do with that newfound adulthood is to seek adventure, discover new places, sample new cultures, and broaden the mind. Traveling isn’t age-restricted, but traveling in your 20s has benefits. Young post-teen-twenty-somethings are more fearless than ever before!
At this point in their lives, most aren’t constrained by children or family obligations. Many crave to gain new perspectives on the world and themselves. Travel at this stage in life can combat severe anxiety (it certainly did for me) and even fears of career uncertainty.
Traveling in your 20s teaches you how to get through the unpredictable phases of your life and encourages you to make spontaneous, even outrageous, decisions that could have the potential to make your life a richer tapestry.
Traveling allows you to see places and meet new people who inspire you to become the best version of yourself. Travel really does broaden the mind, and the more we travel, the more we understand each other and the world we all share.
The long and short of it is that everyone should travel, and the best time to do that is after college and before you go over the hill at 30. If you’re looking for adventure and to experience a cross-section of people, there’s no better place than the United States of America.
Home to all sorts of fantastic folk, unique cultures, magnificent landmarks, every climate you can think of, and the pioneering can-do spirit that can make a vacation an adventure, the US to perhaps the best nation on Earth to travel in your 20s.
But what are the best places to travel in your 20s in the US? Well, dauntless young traveler, any place that taps into your adventurous soul and enlights excitement is a great place to start!
So, whether it’s the bright lights of New York City, the historical sites of Boston, the thirst-defying beers of Minneapolis, or the alluring beaches of Hawaii, here are some of the best places to travel in your 20s in the US!
Best Places to Travel in Your 20s in the US
The US has 50 states, five major unincorporated territories, a federal district, and 326 Indian reservations over 3.8 million square miles. It is the world’s third-largest country by total area. With such a vast amount of territory to cover, a person seeking to travel may now start to tremble at the idea of places to travel in their 20s in the US—no shame, I did, plenty.
America has so much to offer; planning a trip isn’t always straightforward. We understand this, so we’ve curated a list of destinations for twenty-somethings to visit in the US below.
Read on and gear up for the adventure of a lifetime because this list of places will have you raring to go!
New York City
The first on our list and for the right reasons. Aside from being full to the brim with attractions, landmarks, amazing food, and unique culture, New York City is one of the most important global cities on the planet and is one of the best vacation spots in the United States. The diversity, energy, and inspiration of the city are completely unmatched.
New York streets – for the first-time traveler – are like walking through a movie site with popular attractions at each turn and skyscrapers that seem to touch the heavens. There is excitement and fun wherever you go, from Central Park to the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Times Square, and Broadway.
If you’re seeking cultural diversity to broaden your horizon, know that 36% of New York residents are from abroad, and most of the city’s population is descended from immigrants. As such, you’ll come across as many as 800 languages.
Whether it’s a native, transplant, or immigrant, everyone has their unique New York story to tell that helps you gain perspective. If you have a lively personality, the energetic atmosphere of the city will likely draw you in. New York is vibrant and fast-paced, and you’ll come across creative people in every nook and cranny of the city.
Convenience is yet another thing that makes it stand out among the best places to travel to in your 20s. Whether you want to have a late-night manicure or a steak dinner at midnight, everything is within walking distance. The convenience of New York can be addictive and might spoil you in ways that it’ll be hard to forget about once you leave the city!
If you’re a thrill-seeker, New York is definitely a place to visit. The unmatched energy of the city can cast a spell on you, as it has countless millions, making it easier to overlook the cons (I’m just gonna say the smell) because of the pros that outweigh them a hundredfold.
See Related: Most Beautiful & Best Vacations in the US
Luxury restaurants, out-class hotel rooms, fine dining, unique shows, intriguing sites, and high-stakes gambling are what most people picture when they think about Las Vegas.
There is no wrong time to visit Vegas, as it’s a great place to travel year-round. When the temperature hits 104° Fahrenheit in summer, you can practice your swing at indoor mini-golf clubs and go hiking or camping. The winters are best for sightseeing.
While Vegas is constantly becoming more accommodating for families as a legitimate vacation destination for all ages, it’s called Sin City for a reason. It’s easy to go crazy in the casinos, so watch the wallet!
Being such a party town, there’s also a huge emphasis on drinking (and other *ahem* adult vices – have fun, but don’t go crazy! If you want to soak in the atmosphere of Las Vegas without being overwhelmed by the glittering landscape of The Strip, Fremont Street is the way to go. The five-block section of this street is covered with LED lights illuminating the sky.
Moreover, a visual show with incredible music occurs every night. This place will excite you like anything if you have an adventurous soul. If you have limited time to roam around the city, you can visit the Grand Canyon to see the famous natural sites and landscapes.
The cool thing is that you can visit this place on a helicopter ride to get an aerial view. Nonetheless, you can take a car trip if you are low on budget. The unique restaurants, popular attractions, and unlimited entertainment make Las Vegas one of the best places to travel in your 20s in the US for shorter visits.
I say shorter for two reasons; First, it’s very easy to spend a lot of money very, very quickly in Vegas, especially for dear young things who are new to money management.
Second, with the amount of drinking and brightly lit casinos to wander in and out of, it’s super easy to lose track of everything, including whether or not it’s day or night.
My editor, who also loves Las Vegas, sums it up perfectly; it’s among the best 2-day vacations you’ll ever have, but with more than two days of Vegas-level partying, “you’ll be afraid you’ll die – after 4 days you’ll be afraid you won’t die!”
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One of America’s most popular and biggest cities, Washington D.C., is the capital of the United States and an incredibly intriguing and motivating place to visit in your 20s.
Yes, the number of hotels, monuments, and historical buildings can be overwhelming, and you might feel baffled about where to visit first. But once you have the top places on your list, it’ll be easy to tour around this historic city.
The National Mall is one of DC’s most famous places for tourists. It’s hallowed historic ground, where America’s past, present, and future unite. It has seen decades of inaugurations, rallies, and protests, all contributions to America’s history of being a nation of the people for the people.
Some memorials and monuments honor American heroes who died for their country. Monuments to those who fought for liberty from foreign tyranny and monuments to those who helped America live up to its ideals by ending slavery. There are also several art galleries, sculptures and statues, and cultural institutions. So, no matter what ignites your adventurous soul, the National Mall has it all.
The White House is yet another place to tour when you’re in Washington D.C. Known as the Peoples’ House, this grand white building, known worldwide, is home to the sitting US president and open to all.
The exciting thing is, the visit is free. However, one downside is that the tickets are limited (since many tourists visit daily), and you must book in advance.
If you want to show your appreciation for the military, you can also witness the changing of the Guard in the middle of Arlington Cemetery, which takes place several times during the day for a thrilling experience.
Overall, DC is a city of history, sports, and endless charms with breathtaking and rustic views. For anyone looking to broaden their horizons and learn what America is all about, DC is an essential visit.
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A wealth of attractions make Boston one of the best places to travel in your 20s in the US. From world-class educational institutions, thousands of great bars, top-tier sports teams, and the city’s fascinating history, Boston has it all.
Also known as the Cradle of Modern America, you can learn about the nation’s birth from the American Revolution in every city corner. If you want to dive into the history of Boston and the early days of the US, consider walking the Freedom Trail. Here, you’ll come across unique collection locations with a story in America’s creation.
Churches, burial grounds, museums, and even pubs along this trail state the story of the American Revolution and prove a handy way of seeing the best bits of Old Boston.
Did you know Boston Common is America’s first public park? It comprises a large grassy area with ball fields and Frog Pond, a popular pool for children in summer that is frozen and smooth as a skating rink in winter.
Further, the famous Fenway Park, the oldest baseball park in the US, is yet another place to go and certainly holy soil for any fan of America’s favorite pastime. What’s more, the neighborhood surrounding the Fenway is packed with charming restaurants to dine in and hotels for you to stay in. This charming city has a lot of hidden gems to explore and enjoy and is incredibly popular with young adults.
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The world-class beaches, pleasant weather, classy hotels, and incredible cuisine of Miami call out to the hearts of travel freaks in their 20s. If you’re into music, arts, and culture, destination museums like Instagram-famous Wynwood Walls and the Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) will pique your interest.
You can also visit the Lowe Art Museum, Freedom Tower, and the Wolfsonian to witness even more aesthetically pleasing art that’ll leave your soul richer for the experience.
If you’re an animal lover, then Miami Zoo is the place to go – it’s one of the biggest and best zoos in the country. With over 2000 species of animals, you can get the sensation of embarking on a real safari without leaving the US.
If you have limited time for your tour, keep swamplands at the Everglades National Park on your travel list. It’s just a short drive from Miami and covers 1.5 million acres of swamplands home to crocs, catfish, birds, alligators, and snakes – a nature lovers’ paradise.
You can walk on the trails, but to add more thrill to the trip, you can take a high-speed airboat tour like in Police Academy 5! If you’re a food lover, try Mandolin Aegean Bistro, Joe’s Stone Crab, Michael’s Genuine, and Mignonette Downtown, some of Miami’s most popular restaurants.
Apart from being a great place to enjoy nature, Miami is one of the best places to travel in your 20 in the US for beach bums wanting to soak in some sun.
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If you’re a nature lover and a thalassophile (someone who loves the sea, my dear young thing), then Hawaii is hands down among the best places to travel in your 20s in the US.
There are six major islands to visit in that state of Hawaii: Maui, Lanai, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, and the namesake island of Hawaii. Each island offers a distinct vibe, cultural history, and tons of fun activities.
Snorkeling is perhaps one of the top activities in the gorgeous Hawaiian Islands. If the ocean appeals to you, you will love to explore marine life when snorkeling. Whale watching is another unique and unforgettable experience in Hawaii.
Around 10,000 humpback whales migrate to Hawaiian water every winter, starting in November and lasting through May. The majestic, gentle giants are a breathtaking sight to behold up close and perfectly complement the beauty of the Hawaiian Islands.
If you’re a golf enthusiast, here’s the good news: Golfing in Hawaii is heaven on Earth. Hawaii offers an incredible golfing experience with some of the best courses in the world, scenic views, and unparalleled tropical beauty.
Surfing, known as “he’e nalu,” in the Hawaiian language, is yet another awesome activity in Hawaii. Back in the day, native Hawaiians used to ride wood planks on the oceans to engage with the energy of their gods, which is how surfing became such a huge deal here. Hawaii is now one of Earth’s most popular surfing spots and is often regarded as the world’s surfing capital.
If you want to get exposure and experience diversity like no other, Hawaii is home to a fusion of Polynesian cultures, many of which haven’t touched the continental US, making Hawaii much more special. If you’re hungry to discover emerald valleys, glimmering ocean, and black sand beaches from the world’s most active volcanoes, there’s no place on Earth like Hawaii.
See Related: ViaTravelers Staff Picks: 10 Best Places For Travel
The vibrant city of Los Angeles has a lot in store for its visitors. The Hollywood lifestyle, perfect weather, and world-class attractions of LA draw millions of tourists from across the world every year.
Also known as the world’s entertainment capital, it has world-famous theme parks, exciting nightlife, celebrated movie studios, sunset strips straight out of postcards, and more than a few fun outdoor activities.
For anyone seeking to escape colder climes or grey skies, good news! Most days in LA are warm and sunny, with gentle breezes in the summer. It’s even warm in winter, although many LA residents may argue with that – gotta say it’s hilarious seeing LA folks wrap up in warm coats, scarves, and gloves in 60-degree weather!
If you’re into entertainment and comedy but aren’t looking to spend Hollywood money enjoying them, know that LA is home to hundreds of smaller stand-up shows and iconic theaters, where many of today’s comedy greats cut their teeth. Who knows, you might discover the next up-and-comer!
The Comedy Store and the Laugh Factory are well-known comic clubs in the city. However, if your budget is tight, you can visit affordable theatres like Sunset Boulevard or Franklin Village for hearty chuckles.
LA’s uniqueness isn’t limited to entertainment-based attractions and theaters. If you’re looking for fine dining, you won’t be disappointed with countless restaurants that offer scrumptious food. There’s everything from haute cuisine to the beloved In-N-Out Burger.
Last but not least, if you have an eye for aesthetics, there are many terrific art museums, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Getty Center, and Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, to please your eyes and enrich your lives.
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From great nightlife venues to vibrant shopping malls, Chicago, the capital of the Roaring ’20s, has something to offer everyone. If you’re into luxury labels and popular brands, the Magnificent Mile in North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, is the place to visit. Running from the Chicago River to Oak Street, the Magnificent Mile is the world’s renowned dining, retail, and culture center.
If you love art, get ready to step inside a digital Van Gogh painting in Chicago! The immersive Van Gogh tickets aren’t cheap but trust me. You haven’t seen anything like it before. The show is packed with impressive moments that’ll blow your young mind.
Further, if you’re an event enthusiast, Chicago is a place to hit some of the season’s finest events. From the Thanksgiving parade to the Halloween spectacle, there’s something for every visitor.
Apple picking is another event that allows you to explore the picturesque farms of Chicago. Lucky for you, the countryside surrounding the city is brimming with top-notch orchards where you can pick bushels of crisp apples.
What else is good? If you want to catch sight of your favorite superheroes, you can visit the Chicago Museum. Marvel superheroes inspire children and youngsters alike. The Chicago Museum has over 300 comic book-based artifacts, including contemporary and vintage comics, interactive displays, and heroes’ and villains’ costumes.
If you want to explore something a little calmer, need some green nature, and seek serenity away from the hustle and bustle of the city, consider visiting the Garfield Park Conservatory.
The conservatory is filled with ornamental blooms, alluring plants, and scented flowers that’ll bring the tranquility and peace you seek.
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- About the Author
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Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He’s a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he’d heard.
Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he’s learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.
He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time.