The United States is where you’ll find some of the world’s most famous landmarks and attractions. If you’re interested in history and culture or want to see a remarkable natural wonder, there’s undoubtedly a destination perfect for you here in the USA. These are the best vacations in the US.
We’ve compiled a list of the top destinations in the country, perfect for any traveler. You’ll find it all in America: from cozy coastal towns to rugged mountain ranges and bustling cities. We’ve made this list as varied as possible, with destinations to fit every travel style, budget, and interest.
Our picks for best places to visit in the US include everything from the most popular destinations to locations that are a bit off the beaten path. Now, let’s get into all the best spots to check out in our amazing country!
Show Table of Contents
- Our Favorite Vacations in the US by Category
- Best Vacation Spots in the United States
- 1. New York City, New York
- 2. Washington, DC
- 3. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
- 4. San Francisco, California
- 5. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
- 6. Maui, Hawaii
- 7. Miami, Florida
- 8. Chicago, Illinois
- 9. Big Island, Hawaii
- 10. Seattle, Washington
- 11. Atlanta, Georgia
- 12. Las Vegas, Nevada
- 13. Cape Cod, Massachusetts
- 14. Aspen, Colorado
- 15. Anchorage, Alaska
- 16. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
- 17. New Orleans, Louisiana
- 18. Charleston, South Carolina
- 19. Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
- 20. San Diego, California
- 21. Oahu, Hawaii
- 22. Yosemite National Park, California
- 23. Salt Lake City, Utah
- 24. Portland, Oregon
- 25. Sedona, Arizona
- 26. Nashville, Tennessee
- 27. Boston, Massachusetts
- 28. Denver, Colorado
- 29. Kauai, Hawaii
- 30. Houston, Texas
- 31. Acadia National Park, Maine
- 32. Death Valley National Park, California
- 33. Badlands National Park, South Dakota
- 34. Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
- 35. Glacier National Park, Montana
- 36. Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, California
- 37. Lake Tahoe, California & Nevada
- 38. Key West, Florida
- 39. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
- 40. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
- 41. Palm Springs, California
- 42. Savannah, Georgia
- 43. Joshua Tree National Park, California
- 43. Big Sur, California
- 45. Colorado Springs, Colorado
- 46. Zion National Park, Utah
- 47. Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
- 48. Arches National Park, Utah
- 49. Denali National Park, Alaska
- 50. Breckenridge, Colorado
- What are the best cities in the US to visit for a vacation?
- What are the most popular vacation spots in the US?
- What are some family-friendly vacation spots in the US?
Our Favorite Vacations in the US by Category
Here is a categorized list of our favorite vacations. Clicking any of the mentioned destinations will jump you to the location description.
|Best on the East Coast||Acadia National Park, Maine|
|Best on the West Coast||Palm Springs, California|
|Best Family Vacation||Maui, Hawaii|
|Best Outdoor Vacation||Jackson Hole, Wyoming|
|Best Beach Vacation||Kauai, Hawaii|
Best Vacation Spots in the United States
1. New York City, New York
There’s no place like New York City. From the bright lights of Times Square to the iconic Statue of Liberty, the Big Apple delights and dazzles all who visit. Stroll through the gorgeous Central Park or catch a Broadway show to maximize your time in the city.
My favorite place to take in the views of the city that never sleeps is SUMMIT One Vanderbilt. Plan your visit for the golden hour or sunset, when the city looks most magical.
For art lovers, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the largest museums in the world, with works of art spanning over 5,000 years. Modern art lovers need to visit the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
From iconic landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, and the Empire State Building to world-renowned museums and Broadway shows, there’s never a shortage of things to do in New York City.
See Related: Best Places to Stay in New York City
2. Washington, DC
The nation’s capital is home to some of America’s most iconic landmarks and attractions. The National Mall, Smithsonian, Supreme Court, Capitol Hill, and other historical and cultural attractions are must-sees while you explore the city.
And, of course, no trip to DC would be complete without a visit to the White House! Among the best things to do in Washington, DC, is to join the monument nighttime trolley tour. If you’re short on time, it’s an easy and fun way to see the city’s main attractions.
One of the most unique places to visit in DC is the International Spy Museum. The museum tells the history of espionage through artifacts, stories, and fascinating exhibitions.
The nation’s capital is an excellent family vacation spot, as you’ll get the chance to absorb American history, and many museums are completely free, making it lighter on the wallet.
See Related: Best Day Trips from Washington D.C. By Train
3. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
The Grand Canyon is one of America’s most unique and beautiful places, making it one of the most famous national parks in the United States. The park is located in northern Arizona, about 70 miles northwest of Flagstaff.
The most popular region of Grand Canyon National Park is the South Rim. Most tourists visit the Grand Canyon during the summer months and travel to the South Rim to enjoy views from various viewpoints. The South Rim is a great base for many Grand Canyon adventures, including Mohave Point, Bright Angel Point, and the Desert View Watchtower.
This tour includes admission into the park, lunch, and an experienced guide who can tell you about the area’s history and even show you some hidden gems.
See Related: Things to Do in Cave Creek, Arizona
4. San Francisco, California
San Francisco, often known as the City by the Bay, is a city unlike any other, with its renowned Golden Gate Bridge, colorful Victorian houses, moody fog, and cable cars. It’s the perfect place to visit if you want to wander around neighborhoods that each bring to life their own story.
If you want excellent views of the Golden Gate Bridge, go on a Golden Gate boat cruise, where you’ll also get an up-close look at this iconic modern marvel. Other top attractions in the city include Alcatraz Island, Fisherman’s Wharf, Union Square, Lombard Street, and Ghirardelli Square.
Don’t forget to ride one of the city’s famous cable cars. The most scenic line is the Powell-Hyde Line. After your ride, head to Pier Market Seafood Restaurant at Fisherman’s Wharf to enjoy some delicious clam chowder in (an arguably even more delicious) sourdough bread bowl.
Stop by Boudin Bakery’s SFO location before your flight home for a delicious souvenir of the city.
See Related: Best Day Trips from San Francisco, California
5. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Yellowstone includes some of the most incredible natural wonders in the world, including geysers, waterfalls, and natural hot springs. Grand Prismatic Spring is one of America’s most magnificent natural wonders.
The spring is enormous and brimming with brilliant shades of color in the heart of Yellowstone National Park. Likewise, the surrounding area is beautiful, with mountains and forests spanning for miles.
Don’t forget to check out Upper Geyser Basin, which features the legendary Old Faithful, the most famous geyser in the park.
Beyond the historic geysers, Yellowstone National Park has various wildlife, like bears, wolves, bison, and elk. The park has many activities, including hiking, camping, fishing, and horseback riding.
See Related: Things to Do in Wyoming
6. Maui, Hawaii
Looking for a vacation that will make your friends jealous? Maui is the place to go. Maui is the second-largest Hawaiian Island nicknamed “The Valley Isle” because of its two large mountain ranges, the West Maui Mountains and Haleakala, that divide the island.
With over 30 miles of beaches in Maui and tons of natural scenery to explore, you’ll never be bored. It also has majestic mountains, including Haleakala National Park, which features a dormant volcano that rises 10,000 feet above sea level and can be accessed by car, hiking, or biking.
Maui offers pretty much everything: adventurous travelers can climb volcanoes; couples can visit romantic restaurants (my favorite is Mama’s Fish House) or go on a whale-watching tour; families with kids can enjoy one of Maui’s many parks or spend a day at the Maui Ocean Center.
See Related: Things to Do in Maui, Hawaii
7. Miami, Florida
Miami is the perfect sunny place to vacation. The city is recognized for its irresistible white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and countless attractions, including the stunning South Beach, the Art Deco Historic District, and nearby Everglades National Park.
Among the best things to do in Miami is to experience a sightseeing speedboat tour and parasailing in Biscayne Bay. Also, take a walk or a bike ride down the famous Ocean Drive, enjoy the nightlife at one of Miami’s many nightclubs or bars, or relax on one of the many beautiful beaches.
Regarding food, Miami has a lot to offer as well. From flavorful Cuban cuisine to fresh seafood, you’ll find an array of cuisines to delight your taste buds. A walk through Little Havana will ensure that you’ll enjoy some of the city’s best Latin American cuisine.
See Related: Best Day Trips From Tampa, Florida
8. Chicago, Illinois
We love Chicago. We have two staff writers living in Chicago, our Editor-in-Chief called it home for years, and our Managing Editor named her dog after one of the city’s most iconic bands – so yes, we’re a little biased.
The Windy City, located right on the shores of Lake Michigan, offers everything from museums and art galleries to sports stadiums and world-class shopping.
Start your trip by exploring the city’s iconic architecture on a river cruise or an architectural walking tour. After that, sample some famous deep-dish pizzas found at Giordano’s on Van Buren Street and Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria in Lincoln Park.
The Art Institute of Chicago is among the city’s top destinations. Its collection features thousands of works of art from all over the globe.
And for the city’s best views, you have to head to the 360 Observation Deck at the Hancock Center. Enjoy spectacular views of Chicago’s skyline and Lake Michigan.
See Related: Best Attractions in Chicago
9. Big Island, Hawaii
Yes, you read that correctly, another Hawaiian Island. The Big Island of Hawaii is one of the best places in the world to get a glimpse of lava fields and breathtaking active volcanoes.
Visitors can explore the rugged Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Hawaii’s Big Island and see some of the tallest island mountains in the world.
One activity I always recommend to friends planning to visit the Big Island is a nighttime snorkel with manta rays off the Kona Coast. It’s a magical experience you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
If you want to get away from it all and experience nature at its finest, head up to Mauna Kea Volcano to look down into valleys filled with wildflowers that change color depending on seasonality or time of day. In the winter, you can often find snow at its peak.
See Related: Things to Do in Honolulu, Hawaii
10. Seattle, Washington
The downtown area is rife with shops, restaurants, bars, and major attractions like the Space Needle, Woodland Park Zoo, Discovery Park, and Pike Place Market. You can ride on an iconic Seattle streetcar or catch a game at T-Mobile Park.
For some outdoor exploration, I highly recommend taking a guided tour of Olympic National Park. It’s a 90-minute ferry ride from Seattle, making it the perfect day trip out of the city.
Olympic National Park features some of the most stunning scenery of the Pacific Northwest, including areas like Lake Crescent and Marymere Falls.
See Related: Best Things to Do in West Seattle, Washington
11. Atlanta, Georgia
As the capital of Georgia, Atlanta is a bustling city known for its history and beautiful landscape, and the city is always buzzing with exciting events, including concerts and festivals. It’s a great escape for couples and groups of friends looking for a fun weekend out on the town.
Atlanta’s top attractions include the Georgia Aquarium, the World of Coca-Cola, the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park, and the CNN Center.
Travel lovers will go crazy for a stop at the Delta Flight Museum, which has its own Boeing 737-200 flight simulator. You can also explore and reach more attractions with this Atlanta segway tour.
You can find all sorts of delicious Southern dishes in Atlanta, from shrimp and grits to collard greens. The city is also a foodie paradise for all sorts of international cuisines. For a mouthwatering culinary experience, head to The Consulate to try their “Visa” menu, which changes every three months to feature new dishes worldwide.
See Related: Things to Do in Augusta, Georgia
12. Las Vegas, Nevada
Vegas, baby! A city that always seems to have something new and exciting, Las Vegas is a great place for nightlife and adventure. We all know what this city is famous for, but there’s much more to it.
Of course, enjoy the world-famous casinos, hotels, incredible live shows, and entertainment! You can admire Las Vegas’ beauty on a night tour if you have a free night.
Packing in all this crazy city has to offer can add up quickly. Still, this Las Vegas super-saver package combines three of the city’s most popular attractions into one affordable price. Visit Madame Tussauds, take a gondola ride through the Venetian Hotel, and enjoy a meal at the Hard Rock Cafe.
Speaking of food, this city has some of the best restaurants in the country, so you’re sure to find something to your taste.
Celebrity-owned restaurants are a big thing in Vegas, but if that doesn’t matter much to you, there are many places to satisfy your hunger. One of my go-to’s is Border Grill in Mandalay Bay.
See Related: Things to Do in Henderson, Nevada
13. Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Cape Cod is a peninsula in Massachusetts that’s been attracting summer vacationers for centuries. The Cape’s long sandy beaches, quaint coastal towns, and beautiful scenery make it an ideal place to unwind and enjoy the outdoors.
Visitors will also find many lighthouses dotting both sides of this long-extended piece of land — fourteen, to be exact. The best one to visit is the Highland Lighthouse in North Truro. It was Cape Cod’s first lighthouse and holds much historical significance.
A memorable experience for the whole family would be to take a boat tour through the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Part-time residents of the marine sanctuary include dolphins, whales, and migrating birds.
See Related: Things To Do in Salem, Massachusetts
14. Aspen, Colorado
Aspen is a great vacation spot for families and friends to go skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and mountain biking. The stunning Rocky Mountains surround the town and are incredible for enjoying the fresh air and the scenery.
Aspen attracts many celebrities and athletes from around the world who come here during their vacations, so it’s not uncommon to see them walking through the streets or shopping at local boutiques with their families.
Besides the world-class skiing and snowboarding, the town is known for its upscale hotels, luxury restaurants, and high-end boutiques, making it one of the best places to visit in the USA for a romantic getaway.
Buttermilk is the best ski area in Aspen for beginners, while Snowmass is popular for skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels.
Hiking and mountain biking are popular activities during the summer months when the town comes alive with festivals and concerts. The highlight of the summer is the Aspen Music Festival, which attracts some of the world’s best classical musicians.
See Related: Best Things to Do in Colorado & Places to Visit
15. Anchorage, Alaska
Anchorage is truly a sight whenever the sun’s rays reflect off the city’s many lakes and rivers. Situated in Southcentral Alaska, Anchorage is the state’s largest city and home to nearly 40 percent of Alaska’s population.
The city is a nature lover’s dream, with its magnificent backdrop and many outdoor activities, towering mountains, and gleaming glaciers. Besides its natural attractions, the city boasts a lively cultural scene with museums, art galleries, and festivals.
There’s an endless amount of activities to enjoy while visiting this Alaska town, but one of the best things to do here is to go on a wildlife excursion. This half-day tour will take you to the most beautiful nearby spots, including Chugach National Forest, Beluga Point, and Portage Glacier.
During the tour, you can spot incredible wildlife like brown bears, bison, and belugas. If you’re looking for something a bit more thrilling, this helicopter sightseeing tour will give you the most breathtaking vantage point, and you’ll even get to land on a glacier!
See Related: How Much Does an Alaska Trip Cost?
16. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Jackson Hole is paradise on Earth for those who thrive in winter weather. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort offers some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the area and features ski runs for all levels.
And for those who aren’t into sports, there are also numerous museums, art galleries, and parks like Grand Teton National Park to explore.
The gorgeous mountain scenery of Grand Teton National Park is best enjoyed in the summertime. It makes the perfect vacation spot in the western United States for families who enjoy being out in nature.
See Related: Must-Know Vacation Tips
17. New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is a city rich in culture and history, and it’s a great place to vacation with your family or to party with your girls (or guys). There is so much to do and see here that it’s hard to decide where to begin. Plenty of historical museums, gardens, and aquariums exist for families with small children.
The French Quarter in New Orleans is a must-see, with its iconic wrought-iron balconies, colorful buildings, and lively atmosphere.
If you’re more into the nightlife scene, then Bourbon Street will meet your needs, and the famous bars, clubs, and restaurants with live music will take you on a journey throughout the city.
The city hosts several jazz festivals throughout the year, ensuring there is always something to do. If you want a bucket list idea, visit NOLA during Mardi Gras – a party you won’t forget (or maybe remember)!
See Related: Best Tours in New Orleans
18. Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is South Carolina’s second-most populous city on the state’s southern coast. This colorful city has long been a tourist magnet due to its historical structures, well-preserved architecture, and excellent seafood restaurants.
It’s also known for some of the best beaches in South Carolina, which makes it an excellent getaway destination for family and friends. Visitors may wander through the city’s lovely streets and explore Charleston’s historic area.
Don’t forget to experience a historic city highlights tour during your visit to Charleston. Make the most of your visit to South Carolina by stopping by the other top-tier beach towns in the state, such as Myrtle Beach in the north and Hilton Head Island in the south, each about a two-hour drive from historic Charleston.
See Related: Best East Coast Vacation Spots in the U.S.
19. Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Let’s be honest: no list of best places to visit in the USA would be complete without a nod to Walt Disney World. It’s (one of) the happiest places on earth for a reason! It offers non-stop fun for all ages and memories that will last a lifetime.
The resort comprises four theme parks, two water parks, and over 20 themed hotels. It’s one of the most impressive theme parks in the world, making it possibly the best (and most popular) family vacation spot.
In addition to the four main theme parks—Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom—you can visit two water parks, participate in seasonal events, and explore Downtown Disney.
See Related: Best Places to Visit in the U.S.
20. San Diego, California
Want a perfect vacation combination of beautiful weather, relaxation, and entertainment? San Diego is the place for you. This sun-kissed city is a favorite vacation destination for many Americans.
With its endless stretches of sandy beaches, mild weather, and abundant attractions, it’s no wonder that San Diego is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country.
San Diego is a fantastic place to get out and enjoy nature, with top attractions including Balboa Park, Torrey Pines State Reserve, La Jolla Cove Natural Park, and cruise around the harbor.
Foodies will also have a great time here. Take a food tour of San Diego’s iconic Little Italy or sample some authentic Mexican dishes in San Diego’s historic old town.
Wind down the day with a cocktail at The Whiskey Bar, a trendy bar and restaurant with more than 1,800 kinds of whiskey.
See Related: Best Things to Do in Point Loma
21. Oahu, Hawaii
Oahu, Hawaii, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States and is a must-visit beach vacation spot at least once in your lifetime. Honolulu, Hawaii’s capital city, is a great place to visit year-round, thanks to its near-perfect weather and stunning beaches.
Waikiki Beach is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Hawaii. The beach is known for its clear water and white sand beaches.
Besides Waikiki Beach, there are many other gorgeous locations to explore around the island, like Diamond Head, Hanauma Bay, and Lanikai Beach. And, of course, no trip to Oahu is complete without a circle island tour.
Other popular places include the Iolani Palace, Bishop Museum, and Pearl Harbor. Honolulu can also be surprisingly inexpensive, with hotel options in almost every price range.
Additionally, if you stay somewhere like Kapolei instead of Waikiki, you can find many better deals. This used to be a go-to Christmas vacation spot growing up to escape the snow and live the island life for a bit.
See Related: Best Holiday Destinations for Couples
22. Yosemite National Park, California
Yosemite National Park is home to some of America’s most famous natural wonders, including Half Dome and El Capitan, two of the world’s largest rock formations. The park is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its unique geological features.
If the mountains are calling, consider spending a few days hiking through Yosemite Valley on its over 750 miles worth of trails! You’ll get an up-close look at giant sequoia trees and waterfalls that spill into rivers below them.
With its outstanding natural beauty, hiking trails, and camping opportunities, Yosemite is the ideal spot to detach from technology and clear your mind. There are endless things to see and do here, so if you want an expert’s opinion, I highly suggest going on a guided hike. Your expert guide will take you to some of the best spots, including Half Dome, El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, and Bridalveil Falls.
See Related: Where To Stay In Napa Valley
23. Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake City is a place full of adventure. Nestled amid the Rocky Mountains, the city is a lovely sight with gorgeous scenery. Salt Lake City makes a great vacation spot for families and couples who enjoy the outdoors, from the world-famous ski resorts to the surrounding canyons and hiking trails.
The first thing on your list should be to visit Temple Square. This is the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and it’s a beautiful sight. A few museums nearby are worth a visit, including the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art and the Clark Planetarium.
Winter is a great time to visit SLC and head to one of the many ski resorts nearby, including the host site of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Park City, Utah. Utah is home to some of the most stunning natural sites in the country, and many of these can be done as day trips from Salt Lake City.
See Related: Best State and National Parks in Utah to Visit
24. Portland, Oregon
Portland is an eclectic mix of the arts, different cultures, and the great outdoors. The town’s motto, “Keep Portland Weird,” truly describes the city’s quirkiness that attracts visitors worldwide.
This Pacific Northwest destination includes emblematic attractions like Powell’s City Of Books, the Oregon Zoo, and the International Rose Test Garden. Visitors should also take day trips to Multnomah Falls or Mount Hood.
Foodies will also have a great time sampling Portland’s eats – from the intriguing flavors at Voodoo Doughnut to the gnarly cocktails at Raven’s Manor. One of the best ways to get to know Portland’s culinary scene is by going on a Portland Food Tour.
See Related: Things to Do in Seaside, Oregon
25. Sedona, Arizona
Nestled within central Arizona’s famous red rocks, Sedona is surrounded by stunning desert scenery, making for an incredible backdrop wherever you go. The town is just a quick jaunt over from Phoenix and makes for a wonderful vacation spot whether you’re looking to sip on poolside cocktails all day or do some serious hiking.
One of Sedona’s most popular hiking trails, Cathedral Rock, is a must-do. The trail is moderate in difficulty and takes one to two hours to complete. The best time to enjoy this hike is right before sunset — the sky explodes in colors and brings out the gorgeous hues of the landscape.
A jeep tour is perfect for you if you want to explore Sedona’s backcountry without all the effort. You’ll get to see some of the most beautiful scenery in the area, and your guide will be able to answer any questions you have about the rocks and plants.
Sedona is just as much about relaxation as enjoying the great outdoors. Spend your day poolside at the Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock, or do some sightseeing and shopping in Uptown Sedona.
See Related: Amazing Southwestern Vacation Destinations
26. Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville, affectionately known as Music City, is one of the best places to visit in the USA if you’re a big fan of live music. This city has much to offer tourists, including excellent restaurants, music venues, mural art in the Gulch, and live music on every corner.
Food lovers, take note: Nashville is the place to find some of the best restaurants in the country. Anyone visiting Music City for the first time has to sample some Nashville hot chicken — some of the best can be found at Hattie B’s Hot Chicken in Midtown. Finish it all off with their delicious banana pudding!
Music lovers will enjoy Nashville’s many live music venues. The city is known for its country music scene, but you can also find rock, pop, and blues musicians performing in the city’s clubs and bars. The city is also home to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the Grand Ole Opry, and its own Parthenon.
See Related: Things to Do in Knoxville, Tennessee
27. Boston, Massachusetts
Boston is steeped in history and culture, making it a great place for history buffs and families. This historical city features an excellent mix of world-renowned museums, stunning architecture, and lively nightlife. Boston is also great for enjoying the outdoors, with many green spaces and parks to explore.
The Freedom Trail, Fenway Park, and Beacon Hill are some of the city’s most well-known tourist attractions. Boston is also a foodie’s dream, with world-class restaurants and chefs waiting to delight your palate. Top-rated restaurants in Boston include Menton, Toro, and Neptune Oyster.
See Related: Best Things to Do in Boston
28. Denver, Colorado
Featuring a picturesque backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, Denver, known as the Mile High City, is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. For those who enjoy skiing and snowboarding, the city is surrounded by more than a dozen ski resorts within an hour’s drive.
The four closest resorts—Loveland Ski Area, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, Keystone Resort, and Breckenridge—make for a great weekend trip or complete holiday vacation if you’re up for it.
If skiing isn’t your thing, but you still crave outdoor adventures, the summertime features incredible hiking, white water rafting, fly fishing, and mountain biking opportunities.
Denver is also home to dozens of art galleries throughout the city, such as the highly-rated Denver Art Museum. Other historical sites, such as the State Capitol Building, offer tours daily during the summer (June-August). If you want a fun-filled vacation, explore one of the many neighborhoods, tour craft breweries, or go on a food tour.
29. Kauai, Hawaii
Kauai is nicknamed “The Garden Isle” because of its lush tropical landscape. The oldest of Hawaii’s main islands, Kauai, is known for its natural beauty—but it still feels under the radar from many tourists.
The island is home to tropical rainforests, waterfalls, beaches, and much more. Must-do activities include snorkeling around the Na Pali Coast and taking a helicopter tour of the island. Don’t forget to stop at Koke’e State Park and Waimea Canyon.
30. Houston, Texas
Houston, the fourth most populous city in Texas, is known for its energy production, aerospace, health care, and biomedical research industries. This major city continues to fly under the radar as one of the best vacation spots in the U.S. for families.
Another cool thing about Houston is its extensive underground tunnel below the downtown area. You can even take a guided tour of this fascinating system!
If you plan to visit Houston sans kiddos, there are several booze-themed activities to keep you busy, including a hip-hop party bike, the haunted Houston ghost and pub tour, and a private brewery tour.
If those aren’t your speed, you can visit the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, catch the Houston Astros in action at Minute Maid Park, or enjoy free live music at the Miller Outdoor Theatre.
See Related: Best Tourist Destinations in the World
31. Acadia National Park, Maine
Acadia National Park is a great place to enjoy the outdoors with cool temperatures and amazing wildlife. There are many different trails that you can hike, and you are sure to see some fantastic views. For the most stunning panoramic views, hike or drive up to Cadillac Mountain, the highest point in the park.
One of my favorite places to spend time in Acadia is at Sand Beach, a large cove surrounded by gorgeous green pine trees. It’s so peaceful and lovely!
32. Death Valley National Park, California
Death Valley National Park is one of the largest national parks in the country, covering over 3 million acres of land. The park has been protected since 1994 and is a habitat for many rare animals and plants.
Formally known as the Valley of Death, this national park is one of the world’s most unique habitats, featuring a fantastic land of contrast and extreme beauty. This national park is known for its extreme temperatures and dry conditions during summer when temperatures can reach up to 120°F.
Due to these extreme conditions, spring is the best time to visit Death Valley. Springtime is also a fantastic time to visit because you’ll be able to see the gorgeous wildflower blooms throughout the valley.
33. Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Badlands National Park is one of America’s most underrated national parks. Located in South Dakota, this national park is known for its geology and wildlife. It’s also a terrific place to go hiking, camping, and wildlife watching.
The park was first established as a national monument in 1929 and was later designated a national park in 1978. It includes the largest undisturbed mixed grass prairie in the United States and the world’s richest fossil beds from the Oligocene Epoch.
The White River and the Cheyenne River erosion forms the park’s badlands. Watch for wildlife, including bison, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, and elk. The world’s largest petrified wood collection can also be found here.
Badlands National Park is open year-round, although the best time to visit is between April and October when the weather is milder. We recommend a guided tour to learn more about the history of the park and its geological wonders.
See Related: Best Things to Do in South Dakota
34. Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
The Columbia River Gorge has many waterfalls, hiking trails, and biking paths in the lush Pacific Northwest. The gorge holds nationally significant ecosystems and is a popular recreational destination.
The area is primarily known for its more than 90 spectacular waterfalls, which attract photographers and tourists from around the world.
There are plenty of campgrounds and hotels in this region if you want to stay for a few days. Popular sights and hikes include Crown Point Vista, Latourell Falls, Multnomah Falls, and the Rowena Crest.
The Columbia River Gorge is between Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington, on Interstate 84. It’s easy to get there by car or bus, and a popular destination for tourists no matter the time of year. If you’re visiting Portland, this is a great destination to be paired with the city, as several day tours are available from the city.
See Related: Things to Do in Eugene, Oregon
35. Glacier National Park, Montana
Located in gorgeous northern Montana, Glacier National Park encompasses over 1 million acres of pure natural beauty and features more than 700 miles worth of nature and hiking trails.
It includes parts of two mountain ranges, over 130 named lakes, more than 1,000 different species of plants, and hundreds of species of animals, including grizzly bears, mountain lions, bighorn sheep, and elk.
Glacier National Park is best known as a hiker’s paradise — featuring acres of glacier-carved peaks, valleys, and lakes. Besides hiking and admiring wildlife, the national park is a popular destination for camping, fishing, and skiing.
One of the most fun and relaxing ways to admire the beauty of this amazing national park is by taking a scenic float down the Flathead River. If you plan to visit during the winter, snowshoeing through Flathead Valley is definitely the way to go.
See Related: Things to Do in Paradise Valley, Montana
36. Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, California
Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park cover over 400,000 acres of protected forests and mountains in California’s southern Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Just on the edge of Sequoia National Park lies Mount Whitney. At 14,505 feet, it is the highest point in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the contiguous United States.
While you can make your trip to these national parks as challenging as you’d like, there are also several opportunities to check out some of the world’s largest trees without much effort.
The General Grant Tree and the General Sherman Tree (two of the largest trees in the park) are easily accessible through short, well-maintained hikes.
Trek up the stone stairway to Moro Rock for incredible views of the San Joaquin Valley, though be warned it’s a moderate effort hike. Winter activities include skiing and snowshoeing, with designated snow-play areas for kids (and kids at heart) who want to sled or go tubing.
37. Lake Tahoe, California & Nevada
This is a large freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and one of North America’s largest and deepest lakes. Lake Tahoe is one of the most visited destinations in the United States, drawing millions of tourists each year to explore this incredible place, and it’s a relatively affordable place to visit.
Lake Tahoe is a popular spot for swimming, boating, and enjoying incredible views. Enjoy a relaxing bike ride around the lake or a paddle boarding adventure when the water warms up. Or, since you are in Northern California and on a lake, it’s only fitting to enjoy wine tasting on a boat.
There are many places to stay around Lake Tahoe, from camping in the wilderness to luxurious resorts. The Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe is a great option if you’re planning a romantic getaway for couples who enjoy the great outdoors but still want a bit of relaxation at the spa or fun at the casino.
38. Key West, Florida
I never need an excuse to head down south to the Florida Keys. Key West is the most popular island vacation outside the Caribbean, known for its colorful pastel buildings, incredible nightlife, and exhilarating water sports.
The key to experiencing Key West is to do it in the winter when the weather is milder, and there are fewer tourists, though there may be a few snowbirds from up north.
There are many incredible beaches where you can bask in the sun while sipping cocktails and listening to live music. You can also enjoy great restaurants and shops along Duval Street.
Key West has some of the most extravagant hotels in the country— some of our favorites include the Hyatt Centric Key West Resort & Spa, Oceans Edge Key West, and Parrot Key Hotel & Villas. Visitors can also choose from an assortment of charming bed-and-breakfasts or private villas.
39. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Featuring awe-inspiring red rock canyons and incredible vistas, Bryce Canyon National Park offers visitors a place to take in some of the most stunning landscapes in the country. This national park actually has the highest concentration of canyons out of anywhere in the world.
While the entire state of Utah is filled with incredible natural beauty, Bryce Canyon National Park has to be one of the best places to experience it. Many parts of the park, including the Bryce Amphitheater, can be enjoyed year-round, making it one of the best places to visit in the USA at any time of year.
One of the easiest ways to enjoy the scenery of Bryce Canyon is by renting a car and taking the Southern Scenic Drive, which features nine scenic overlooks.
Don’t feel like renting a car? Consider taking a small-group guided tour of Bryce Canyon.
See Related: Best Things to Do in Utah
40. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Escape the hubbub of the city and head to Shenandoah National Park, located just 75 miles outside of Washington, DC. This stunning national park encompasses 200,000 acres of protected fields, waterfalls, and wooded forests. It’s a great vacation destination for birdwatching and wildlife photography.
Visit Big Meadows, a lush mountain-top meadow filled with striking wildflowers. It also makes a great base for your Shenandoah adventures, with several food stops and a campground.
If a lodge sounds better, the Skyland area has you covered. Another must-do activity in Shenandoah National Park includes hiking to Old Rag Mountain. There are several hiking trails to get to the top, so pick the one that fits best with your hiking level and experience.
If you’re looking to go on a longer vacation that involves road-tripping, perhaps in an RV, consider cruising down the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The scenic interstate stretches from Shenandoah National Park down to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, with many scenic overlooks.
See Related: Best Places to Live in Virginia
41. Palm Springs, California
Palm Springs is the perfect desert vacation destination if you’re looking for a quick escape on the West Coast. Its desert landscape, palm trees, and mid-century modern architecture attract visitors from all walks of life.
This desert oasis is known for attracting the rich and famous, so why not go on a Legends and Icons of Palm Springs tour? If that’s not up your alley, an architecture and history bike tour when you’re not chilling poolside might be the way to go.
Palm Springs is also known as a tranquil haven for the LGBTQ+ community, and I can’t think of a better place to have an iconic drag brunch.
The brunch and show occur at the famous Saguaro Hotel, including three courses, unlimited champagne, and bottomless mimosas, so you will have a good time.
42. Savannah, Georgia
Savannah, Georgia, is known for its historic architecture, food, music, and arts scene. It’s a great place to visit in the spring or fall when you can enjoy the beautiful weather without being overwhelmed by crowds of tourists.
Savannah has been called “The Most Haunted City in America” by some experts due to its abundance of haunted landmarks such as Bonaventure Cemetery and Colonial Park Cemetery.
If you’re interested in experiencing this side of Savannah’s history firsthand, I recommend visiting this ghosts and gravestones tour during your stay.
Other great things to do include taking a stroll through beautiful Forsyth Park, visiting the American Prohibition Museum, and enjoying the art, food, and live music at City Market.
43. Joshua Tree National Park, California
Joshua Tree National Park, named after its resident Joshua trees, is in Southern California. The park is recognized for its unique rock formations and twisted pines that provide excellent photo opportunities.
For those seeking more active pursuits beyond hiking, the park offers memorable experiences such as rappelling down its massive boulders or climbing the pines. Joshua Tree National Park also hosts a variety of wildlife, including bighorn sheep and mule deer.
See Related: Things to Do in Jekyll Island, Georgia
43. Big Sur, California
The Big Sur region of California is a stretch of coastline that runs through a portion of the state’s central coast. The area has scenic beauty, cliffs, sandy beaches, and rich history.
One of the most popular features in this part of California is Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, which includes miles of hiking trails throughout redwood forests and along coastal bluffs. It’s also arguably one of the most beautiful areas of Big Sur.
The area also attracts surfers from around the country because it offers some of the best surfing conditions on Earth. The most popular place to catch waves in Big Sur is Andrew Molera State Park. The swells are consistent here and don’t draw huge crowds like many other California surf spots.
45. Colorado Springs, Colorado
Colorado Springs is known for some of America’s most challenging climbing routes, public land for hiking and exploring, and a few fun restaurants that embody the West’s spirit. If you love hiking, fishing, camping, and geology, this is the place for you.
Colorado Springs’ most popular attraction, the Garden of the Gods, offers breathtaking views of red sandstone formations.
Nearby, Pikes Peak provides a stunning backdrop for hiking or driving. Just outside town is Seven Falls Canyon, where guests can enjoy a thrilling zipline course while enjoying the incredible views.
See Related: Best Places to Visit in Colorado in the Winter
46. Zion National Park, Utah
As Utah’s most visited national park, many Americans would agree that Zion National Park is one of the best places to visit in the USA. Various activities can be enjoyed in this stunning Utah park, including canyoning, horseback riding, stargazing, and hiking.
One of the most popular parts of Zion National Park to explore is The Narrows. Start your journey off on The Riverwalk, a one-mile paved (and wheelchair-accessible) path, one of the most popular hiking trails in the park.
From there, the path eventually turns into the Virgin River, which you’ll have to wade through to see the narrowest part of the canyon. For more experienced hikers, check out Angels Landing.
The 5.4-mile hike is somewhat difficult and features sheer cliffs and steep elevation gains. At the end of the hike, you’ll be rewarded with the most incredible views in the park.
See Related: Things to Know Before Going to Zion National Park
47. Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
If you’re searching for a vacation spot in the US with spectacular scenery and fascinating wildlife, head to Mount Rainier National Park, one of Washington’s most beautiful national parks.
The park is less than two hours south of Seattle and just 48 miles from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, making this a convenient vacation for out-of-towners or the perfect staycation location for Seattleites.
Summer is the busiest time in this national park, but you’ll enjoy incredible weather and minimal closures. Activities include hiking, biking, wildflower discovery, climbing, fishing, and wilderness camping.
There are over 150 hiking trails and 260 miles of maintained trails throughout the park, ranging from short 20-minute loop trails to multi-day hiking and camping experiences. Short on time? You can also take a guided day trip to Mount Rainier from Seattle.
48. Arches National Park, Utah
Arches National Park is a marvelous pick for your next getaway. The park has a whopping 2,000+ natural stone arches — more than anywhere else in the world. Arches National Park is located in eastern Utah near the town of Moab and not far from the Colorado border.
The best time to visit Arches National Park is in the fall when temperatures are mild during the day and cool at night. Entry to the park requires a timed entry ticket (good for all-day entry), and reservations must be made in advance.
Much of the park can be viewed from your car while driving, but you’ll definitely want to park and hike to see some of the key highlights.
The most famous arch in the park is the Delicate Arch, also the largest arch. Pull off at the Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint and walk in this amazing natural wonder.
If you want an even better view, there’s a short hike to the upper viewpoint. For an exhilarating experience, zip through the park on a guided 4×4 tour.
49. Denali National Park, Alaska
Located in the rugged wilderness of southern Alaska, Denali National Park encapsulates everything that makes The Last Frontier so unique.
This colossal park covers more than six million acres of wildland, making it the third-largest national park in the United States. This stunning paradise can be accessed by bus, train, or car from Fairbanks or Anchorage (Fairbanks is about 100 miles closer).
The main event in Denali National Park is its namesake, Mount Denali. Standing 20,310 feet tall, Mount Denali is the tallest peak in North America. Hiking and camping are the most popular activities to enjoy in the park.
It’s also the only national park home to a kennel of working sled dogs, so check out a ranger mushing demonstration in the summer or winter. For a thrilling sky-high perspective, be sure to take a scenic flight over the park.
See Related: Savage River Loop Trail
50. Breckenridge, Colorado
Whether you’re planning a summer or winter break vacation, Breckenridge offers a ton of fun for year-round enjoyment. Visitors can experience world-class ski resorts, rafting down the Colorado River, or a day trip to Rocky Mountain National Park.
Main Street is a great place to take a break from the more exciting activities this Colorado town offers. The old downtown area is full of great restaurants, cool bars, and fun little shops to find souvenirs. I recommend stopping by Mountain View Coffee Bar, Downstairs at Eric’s, and The Canteen Tap House & Tavern.
In the winter, visitors can enjoy top-tier winter sports centers like the Breckenridge Ski Resort and the Breckenridge Nordic Center. Skiing, ski biking, and fat-tire biking can all be enjoyed in Breckenridge. Summertime visitors can enjoy activities like rafting and touring a gold mine.
See Related: Best Restaurants in Breckenridge
What are the best cities in the US to visit for a vacation?
Some of the best cities to visit in the US include Seattle, Charleston, and New Orleans. Each town features large airports, translating into low-cost airfare, affordable accommodation, and a perfect blend of tourist attractions.
What are the most popular vacation spots in the US?
Classic vacation spots in the US include New York City, Oahu, Orlando, and our beautiful national parks.
What are some family-friendly vacation spots in the US?
Most destinations listed above are more than suitable for a family vacation. Our favorites include the Hawaiian Islands, Walt Disney World, Seattle, and Anchorage.
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- About the Author
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Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a seasoned traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers find their next adventure, whether it’s exploring new places or revisiting old favorites.
He’s a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wonderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). He loves listening to people’s stories from around the world as well as sharing his own 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.