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50 Most Beautiful & Best Vacations in the US

50 Most Beautiful & Best Vacations in the US

The United States, a mosaic of cultures and experiences, offers some of the world’s most famous landmarks and attractions, catering to people from all walks of life seeking information, adventure, and relaxation. From the Grand Canyon’s majestic views to the spirited streets of New York City, these destinations promise unforgettable experiences and value for money.

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.

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.

Classic getaways in the US include New York City, Oahu, Orlando, and the beautiful national parks, but there’s so much more beyond that. Now, let’s get into all the best spots in this fantastic country.

What We Cover

Our Favorite Vacation Ideas by Region

Here is a categorized list of our favorite vacations. Clicking any of the mentioned destinations will jump you to the location description.

Category Location
East Coast Acadia National Park, Maine
West Coast Palm Springs, California
Family Vacation Maui, Hawaii
Outdoor Vacation Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Beach Vacation Kauai, Hawaii

Best Vacations in the United States

1. New York City, New York

View of Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan skyline - New York City downtown
oneinchpunch / Shutterstock

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.

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 sunrise.

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, Times Square, 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: Places to Stay in New York City

2. Washington, DC

Cherry Blossom in front of the Jefferson Memorial during cherry blossom / early spring season in Washington DC
f11photo / Adobe Stock

Washington, D.C., 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 essential places to visit.

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 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 with plenty of kid-friendly attractions, as you’ll get the chance to absorb American history, and many museums are completely free, making it lighter on the wallet.

See Related: Day Trips from Washington D.C. By Train

3. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
SeanPavonePhoto / Adobe Stock

The Grand Canyon, a natural wonder in Arizona, offers breathtaking views and hiking trails, appealing to enthusiasts and casual hikers. A short drive from cities like Flagstaff and Phoenix, it’s a bucket list destination for many.

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 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.

The Grand Canyon is over a mile deep and offers stunning views of the Colorado River. I highly recommend this guided tour on GetYourGuide if you don’t know where to begin.

This tour includes admission, lunch, and an experienced guide who can tell you about the area’s history and even show you some hidden gems. From here. you can also visit Arizona’s other iconic natural landmarks, such as Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon.

See Related: Things to Do in Cave Creek, Arizona

4. San Francisco, California

Aerial View of San Francisco Skyline
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

San Francisco, often known as the City by the Bay, is unlike any other, with its renowned Golden Gate Bridge, colorful Victorian houses, moody fog, and cable cars. It’s the perfect place to visit in California 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 include Alcatraz Island, Fisherman’s Wharf, Union Square, Lombard Street, and Ghirardelli Square.

Don’t forget to ride one of the 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.

See Related: Day Trips from San Francisco

5. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Lower Falls, Yellowstone National Park
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

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 springtime is brimming with brilliant shades of color, making it a great time to visit. 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 Yellowstone.

Beyond the historic geysers, Yellowstone has various wildlife, like bears, wolves, bison, and elk. Many activities include hiking, camping, fishing, and horseback riding. It also makes for a great cheap vacation idea, given the options for camping and lodging.

See Related: Things to Do in Wyoming

6. Maui, Hawaii

Beach Sunset, Maui, Hawaii
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Are you looking for a vacation that will make your friends jealous? Maui, Hawaii, a top U.S. vacation spot, offers a variety of activities, from serene beach getaways to thrilling hikes. Its coastline, adorned with picturesque spots, is perfect for romantic getaways or family fun.

Maui features plenty of things to do and is one of the most popular tropical vacations in the world. This is the second-largest Hawaiian Island, nicknamed “The Valley Isle” because its two large mountain ranges, the West Maui Mountains and Haleakala, 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 everything you’d want from a US vacation: 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 parks or spend a day at the Maui Ocean Center.

7. Miami, Florida

Downtown Miami architecture and skyline
Just dance / Shutterstock

Miami is the perfect sunny place to vacation. It is globally recognized for its irresistible white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and countless attractions, including the stunning South Beach, the Art Deco Historic District, and the nearby Everglades.

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 you’ll enjoy some of the best Latin American cuisine.

See Related: Day Trips From Tampa, Florida

8. Chicago, Illinois

Aerial View of Chicago Skyline in Summer
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

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 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 best places to visit here, as its collection features thousands of works of art from all over the globe. And for the 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: Attractions in Chicago

9. Big Island, Hawaii

A beautiful beach resort in Waikoloa, on the Big Island of Hawaii
youli / Adobe Stock

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 mountainous islands in the world.

I always recommend nighttime snorkeling with manta rays off the Kona Coast to friends planning to visit the Big Island. 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. Hawaii is truly such a unique place to visit; it’s no wonder it’s a bucket list destination for so many people.

See Related: Things to Do in Honolulu, Hawaii

10. Seattle, Washington

Panoramic view of Seattle cityscape at sunset
Sergii Figurnyi / Adobe Stock

Welcome to Seattle, Washington! This beautiful city is known for its coffee, rain, and spectacular scenery. Seattle, part of the lush Pacific Northwest, is not just about rain and coffee.

It’s a city where the charm of its streets and the view from the Space Needle captivate visitors. Its weather makes it an ideal vacation destination throughout the year. If you’re a fan of the outdoors, you’ll love spending time in the Emerald City.

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, and features some of the most stunning scenery of the Pacific Northwest, including areas like Lake Crescent and Marymere Falls.

See Related: Things to Do in West Seattle, Washington

11. Atlanta, Georgia

Panoramic View of Atlanta, Georgia Skyline
RodClementPhotography / Shutterstock

As the capital of Georgia, Atlanta is 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, 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. This 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

Las Vegas Strip
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Vegas, baby! This is a surreal place to visit that always seems to have something new and exciting. We all know what this city is famous for, but there’s much more to it. Vegas is a great place for nightlife and adventure.

Of course, enjoy the world-famous casinos, hotels, incredible live shows, and entertainment! If you have a free night, you can admire Las Vegas’ beauty on a night tour.

Packing in all this crazy place 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, Las Vegas 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, Provincetown, Massachussetts
lunamarina / Shutterstock

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 City Lights in front of Ski Resort
jdross75 / Shutterstock

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

15. Anchorage, Alaska

Moose in Front of the Anchorage Skyline
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Anchorage is truly a sight whenever the sun’s rays reflect off the 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.

This is a nature lover’s dream, with its magnificent backdrop and many outdoor activities, towering mountains, and gleaming glaciers. Besides its natural attractions, Anchorage boasts a lively cultural scene with museums, art galleries, and festivals.

There are endless activities to enjoy while visiting this Alaskan 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.

You can spot incredible wildlife like brown bears, bison, and belugas during the tour. 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 Teton Pass
Kim Magaraci / ViaTravelers

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.

After your day on the slopes, head to Jackson to enjoy delicious grub and iconic kitschy bars like the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. And for those who aren’t into sports, there are also numerous museums, art galleries, and the Grand Tetons to explore.

The gorgeous mountain scenery 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

French Quarter at Night, New Orleans, Louisiana
f11photo / Shutterstock

New Orleans is 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.

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 Old South Carriage Rainbow Row Experience
Sandy Allen /ViaTravelers

Charleston is South Carolina’s second-most populous city on the state’s southern coast. This colorful, historic place has long been a tourist magnet due to its historical structures, well-preserved architecture, and excellent seafood restaurants.

Given the Southern charm here, Charleston also tops the charts for romantic getaways. It’s also known for some of the best beaches in South Carolina, which makes it an excellent getaway destination for family and friends. You’ll love wandering the lovely streets and exploring 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: East Coast Vacation Spots in the U.S.

19. Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida

Walt Disney World, Castle in Florida
Shawn.ccf / Adobe Stock

Let’s be honest: no list of vacation getaways 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 and memories for all ages 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 places to visit 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: Places to Visit in the U.S.

20. San Diego, California

Downtown San Diego, California Cityscape
Dancestrokes / Shutterstock

Want a perfect vacation combination of beautiful weather, relaxation, and entertainment? San Diego is the place for you. This sun-kissed spot 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.

Plus, there are plenty of cool places for kids to enjoy their trip, so if you’re traveling as a family, stop at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, ride in an amphibious vehicle, or take a trip to LEGOLAND.

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: Things to Do in Point Loma

21. Oahu, Hawaii

Aerial viw of a beach in Oahu, Hawaii
Brittney Liu / ViaTravelers

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. Growing up, This was a go-to Christmas vacation spot to escape the snow and live the island life.

See Related: Romantic Getaways for Couples

22. Yosemite National Park, California

View of Half Dome from Washburn Point
Cait Kontalis / ViaTravelers

Yosemite National Park, located in California, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its unique geological features. This California 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.

If the mountains are calling, consider spending a few days hiking through Yosemite Valley on its over 750 miles worth of hiking 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 California national park 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

Downtown Salt Lake City from the Upper Avenues
Kim Magaraci / ViaTravelers

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: Parks in Utah to Visit

24. Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon Skyline with Mount Hood
Nadia Yong / Shutterstock

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

Welcome to Sedona, Arizona sign
JJAVA / Adobe Stock

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

Downtown Nashville, Tennessee skyline
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

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 Skyline along the Harbor
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

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 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.

Getting around Boston is easy, with a reliable public transportation system that includes the subway, buses, and taxis. You can also rent a car or bike to get around the city.

28. Denver, Colorado

Denver Skyline at Sunset
f11photo / Shutterstock

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

Aerial View of Kauai, Island
Alexander Demyanenko / Shutterstock

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.

Kauai makes the perfect tropical escape if you want a romantic getaway. Luxury resorts like 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay and the Sheraton Kauai Resort cultivate a tranquil and seclusive environment.

30. Houston, Texas

Sunset Over the Houston, Texas Skyline
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

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.

Fun and interactive attractions like the Space Center Houston, Houston Museum of Natural Science, Children’s Museum Houston, and the Houston Zoo are must-sees if you visit with children.

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

Great Head trail in Acadia National Park, Maine
Kim Magaraci / ViaTravelers

There’s something genuinely magical about Acadia National Park, located in Maine just south of Bar Harbor on Mount Desert Island.

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. Hike or drive to Cadillac Mountain, the highest point for stunning panoramic views.

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

The amazing view from Zabriskie Point in Death Valley National Park
NPS / nps.gov

Death Valley National Park is one of the largest in the country, covering over 3 million acres of land in California. This area has been protected since 1994 and is a habitat for many rare animals and plants.

Formally known as the Valley of Death, this 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 at Sunset

Located in South Dakota, Badlands National Park is one of America’s most underrated national parks. Known for its geology and wildlife, it’s also a terrific place for hiking, camping, and wildlife watching.

This 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 badlands. Watch for wildlife, including bison, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, and elk. The world’s largest petrified wood collection can also be found here.

The Badlands are 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 and its geological wonders.

See Related: Things to Do in South Dakota

34. Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

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 vacation destination for outdoor activities.

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 attractions for some epic hiking trails 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 an excellent vacation 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

Lake and Mountain Views at Glacier National Park

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, this is a popular destination for camping, fishing, and skiing.

One of the most fun and relaxing ways to admire the beauty 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

36. Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, California

Sunset Over the Sierra Nevada Mountains
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

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 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 (the two largest trees) 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

Mountains and Lake Tahoe

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

Key West Conch Republic
Sandy Allen / Via Travelers

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

Canyon Range in Bryce Canyon National Park

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 has the highest concentration of canyons out of anywhere in the world.

While Utah is filled with incredible natural beauty, Bryce Canyon has to be one of the best places to experience it. Many parts, 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 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: Things to Do in Utah

40. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Jones Run Falls in Shenandoah National Park
Kim Magaraci / ViaTravelers

Escape the hubbub of the city and head to Shenandoah National Park, located just 75 miles outside of Washington, DC, encompassing 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 down to the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina, with many scenic overlooks, and is one of our favorite road trips in the United States.

See Related: Best Places to Live in Virginia

41. Palm Springs, California

Welcome sign with palm trees and blue sky in the background in Palm Springs, California
Jason Busa / Adobe Stock

Palm Springs is the perfect desert vacation destination if you’re looking for a quick escape on the West Coast. Palm Springs in California is a gem that combines desert charm with luxury. Enjoy top attractions, relax in stylish resorts, or explore the city center’s galleries and streets, all within easy access.

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, and they include three courses, unlimited champagne, and bottomless mimosas, so you will have a good time.

42. Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia Cityscape at Sunset

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.

As for non-ghost-related activities, you can still learn much about the city’s rich history by going on a daytime trolley tour or unwinding during a riverboat sunset cruise. Other great things to do include visiting the American Prohibition Museum and enjoying the art, food, and live music at City Market.

43. Joshua Tree National Park, California

Joshua Trees at Joshua Tree National Park, California
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

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, this is one of the best places to visit since it offers memorable experiences such as rappelling down its massive boulders or climbing the pines. Joshua Tree 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

Coastline of 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

Garden Of The Gods

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: Places to Visit in Colorado in the Winter

46. Zion National Park, Utah

Aerial view of Zion Nationl Park
Jakub Škyta / Adobe Stock

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 destination in Utah, including canyoning, horseback riding, stargazing, and hiking.

One of the most popular parts of Zion 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.

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 difficult and features cliffs and steep elevation gains. At the end of the hike, you’ll be rewarded with the most incredible views arguably in the world.

See Related: Things to Know Before Going to Zion

47. Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Wildflowers at sunset in Mount Rainier National Park
Dene’ Miles / Adobe Stock

If you’re searching for a vacation spot in the US with spectacular scenery and fascinating wildlife, head to Mount Rainier, one of Washington’s most beautiful national parks.

It’s 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 to visit, 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, 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 from Seattle to Mount Rainier.

48. Arches National Park, Utah

Delicate Arch in Arches National Park at Sunset
Greg Meland / Adobe Stock

Arches National Park, located in eastern Utah near Moab and the Colorado border, is a marvelous pick for your next getaway. The park has more than 2,000+ natural stone arches than anywhere else.

The best time to visit Arches National Park is in the fall when temperatures are mild during the day and cool at night. Entry requires a timed entry ticket (good for all-day entry), and reservations must be made in advance.

Much can be viewed from your car while driving, but you’ll definitely want to hike to see some of the key highlights. The most famous arch is the Delicate Arch, which is 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 on a guided 4×4 tour.

49. Denali National Park, Alaska

Denali Highway, Alaska
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Located in the rugged wilderness of southern Alaska, Denali National Park encapsulates everything that makes The Last Frontier so unique. This colossal area covers over six million acres of wildland, making it the third-largest 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 Alaskan place to visit here 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.

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, take a scenic flightseeing tour.

See Related: Savage River Loop Trail

50. Breckenridge, Colorado

Alpine skiing at Peak 7, Breckenridge Ski Resort, Colorado
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

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 the Rocky Mountains.

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 terms of winter vacations, it doesn’t get much better than this. 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

FAQs

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 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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