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America’s Best Cities of 2023

Data reveals how u.s. cities stack up in resonance’s annual list of the best in the country..

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The Best Cities in the United States

Thanks to the vibrancy of its boroughs and the return of Midtown, NYC retains its top spot in the 2023 Resonance ranking of America’s best cities.

Many of the factors that make the biggest cities in the United States great places to visit—like good weather, world-class museums, and quality restaurants—also make them great cities to live in. Resonance , a consultancy group in real estate, tourism, and economic development, considered these factors as well as user-generated data from social media to create a comprehensive ranking of the best cities in the United States for both travelers and residents.

Data is revealing how post-COVID trends like remote work are affecting cities. Some smaller cities, like Baltimore and Tampa, are seeing a huge boost as people yearn for cultural hubs paired with a nexus of diverse, young talent. As Chris Fair, Resonance president and CEO, notes, “some of the biggest winners” over the past two years “have been so-called ‘second-tier’ cities ... reflecting a shift in demand toward more accessible and affordable cities.”

However, demand remains high for large urban centers like New York City and Chicago, where entrepreneurship and collaboration come unparalleled—proving that it takes more than a pandemic to take down some Goliaths.

How the cities are ranked

To determine which cities would be considered for this list, Resonance looked at U.S. cities with populations of more than 500,000. Each city was ranked based on a combination of qualitative evaluations from locals and visitors, as well as core statistics, including median household income and crime rates. Those ranking metrics covered 25 areas grouped into six core categories: Place, People, Programming, Product, Prosperity, and Promotion.

Place: Metrics in the Place category include how walkable and bike friendly the city is; the number of outdoor spaces, sights, and landmarks, and how many come recommended by locals and visitors on TripAdvisor.

Product: The Product category is where the infrastructure of the city is considered, including its airport connectivity (the number of direct destinations served by the city’s airports), the size of its largest convention center, plus the number of attractions, museums, and major league sports teams. University rankings within each of these cities were factored into this category, too.

People: The People category takes into account the percentage of nonwhite citizens; the percentage of foreign-born residents; and the city’s population with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Prosperity: This category includes the number of Fortune 500 corporate headquarters located within each city; the number of “knowledge-based businesses” in professional, scientific, and technical services; cost-of-living adjusted earnings; and the poverty rate. While travelers typically don’t consider these things when deciding where to go, Resonance believes that a well-paid, economically secure population facilitates stewardship and innovation.

Programming: This is what you’d typically call the “things to do” category, which covers the number of performing arts and cultural experiences, restaurants, nightlife, and attractions recommended on TripAdvisor.

Promotion: The Promotion category essentially ranks how popular each city is online. Resonance quantified this by looking at the popularity of each city in Google Trends over the last 12 months, as well as the number of Instagram hashtags, Facebook check-ins, Google searches, and TripAdvisor reviews shared online about each city.

Here’s the best cities in the United States’ in 2023 to live in and visit.

New York City took first place again in 2022.

New York City took first place again in 2022.

Photo by Ryan DeBerardinis/Shutterstock

1. New York City

Highlighted rankings: Place (1), Prosperity (1)

Why we love it: New York City has (once again) taken the top spot in Resonance’s annual rankings. Make no mistake: Being at the top for the past few years is no easy feat. But the Big Apple has proved its staying power with renovated airports, new hotels and museums enticing people to see the city. Nowadays, there’s a lot to explore in NYC’s neighborhoods . Museums like the beloved Met and the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Queens have been undergoing renovations and expansions over the past year alongside the introduction of new destinations like the Bronx Children’s Museum and Museum of Broadway. Meanwhile, Central Park, the High Line, the Little Island —located on the Hudson near the Meatpacking District—and other outdoor spaces entice you to come outside to relax. Meanwhile, Midtown Manhattan has made a comeback with a revamped Tiffany’s, new hotels, and the opening of the Museum of Broadway.

Plan your next trip with AFAR’s Guide to New York.

Millennium Park is just one of Chicago’s many scenic outdoor spaces.

Millennium Park is just one of Chicago’s many scenic outdoor spaces.

Photo by Thomas Barrat/Shutterstock

2. Chicago, Illinois

Highlighted rankings: Product (2), Place (3)

Why we love it: There’s plenty to celebrate in Chicago and not only because of its fantastic nightlife. The city saw the return of its epic concerts and free summer festivals, Sundays on State (when portions of iconic State Street turn pedestrian only), even meetings and conventions, marking a newfound energy after some long, hard winters. Restaurants have also popped up in full force; some noteworthy ones include Venteux, a French brasserie from Michelin-starred chef Donald Young, and Bazaar Meat and Bar Mar under chef José Andrés.

We wouldn’t expect any less of a metamorphosis from a city that’s historically been able to thrive in the midst of adversity. More than 150 years ago, the Great Fire destroyed over 2,000 acres of central Chicago and left nearly 100,000 people without homes. But the city hasn’t let disaster define it—instead meeting obstacles with a resilience you need to see for yourself .

“Chicago sees itself, since the fire, as a city able to withstand whatever,” Shermann Dilla Thomas, an historian and lifelong resident who offers guided Chicago tours, told AFAR . “It also makes us a city that doesn’t believe in small plans. After you get a blank canvas, the sky’s the limit.”

Plan your next trip with AFAR’s Guide to Chicago.

Hollywood isn’t Los Angeles’s only tourism draw.

Hollywood isn’t Los Angeles’s only tourism draw.

Photo by Maks Urshov/Shutterstock

3. Los Angeles, California

Highlighted rankings: Programming (2), Promotion (2)

Why we love it: While Hollywood’s prowess is the most commonly associated aspect of Los Angeles (the iconic sign turns 100 this year), the city’s restaurant scene in all its richness and diversity is just as intertwined with L.A.'s identity. Vanguards like La Cha Cha Chá, Alma, and even LA Plaza Cocina (a museum and teaching kitchen that honors Mexico’s culinary heritage) are exemplifying the need for outstanding dining experiences as people come back to the city’s tables. Museums rank no. 2 only behind NYC, with the Broad, the Grand, and the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures cycling through big exhibits on Keith Haring, Basquiat, and a century of filmmaking, respectively.

When visitors come, L.A. wants them to explore the city in its entirety, with a $1.7-billion Regional Connector Transit Project—featuring a 1.9-mile underground light-rail system that tunnels across Los Angeles County—predicted to (finally!) open this month on June 16.

Plan your next trip with AFAR’s Guide to Los Angeles.

As AFAR’s original hometown, San Francisco is one of our favorite cities for obvious reasons.

As AFAR’s original hometown, San Francisco is one of our favorite cities for obvious reasons.

Photo by Sand Crain/Unsplash

4. San Francisco, California

Highlighted rankings: Place (2), People (2)

Why we love it: San Francisco has long drawn people and companies alike—AFAR included—to the West Coast. Thanks to the Bay Area’s world-renowned universities like Stanford and UC Berkeley, San Francisco has one of the most educated and prosperous populations. While the city’s lack of affordable housing cannot be ignored, the migration of big companies to lower-taxed havens like Texas and Florida has produced a silver lining in lower house prices and rents .

Still, “San Francisco’s rate of population decline was the worst among large U.S. counties between July 1, 2020, and July 2, 2022,” reports Resonance. “The city and its surrounding Bay Area counties saw a net population loss of more than 250,000 people in the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. Equally terrifying is the city ending 2022 with a 27 percent office vacancy rate, according to local numbers. Even the proudest locals wring their hands as companies leave for Austin and Florida. And then tweet about how you should, too. But life goes on for those who choose to stay and fight for ‘everyone’s favorite city.’”

For those opting to stay, the city emphasizes that you don’t have to leave San Francisco to get to greener pastures, with outdoor developments that include 464 miles of bikeways and the new Salesforce Park downtown. The city’s Great Highway is also of note; with a pandemic-born desire for socially distanced exercise, it now features a car-free, two-mile stretch along SF’s western shore on the weekends.

Plan your next trip with AFAR’s Guide to San Francisco.

In addition to its famous monuments, Washington, D.C.’s neighborhoods have become another major tourism draw for the capital.

In addition to its famous monuments, Washington, D.C.’s neighborhoods have become another major tourism draw for the capital.

Photo by Orhan Cam/Shutterstock

5. Washington, D.C.

Highlighted rankings: Prosperity (3), Promotion (3)

Why we love it: Unsurprisingly, the nation’s capital scores well for its many free museums, including the National Museum of African American History and Culture and other Smithsonian institutions like the National Air and Space Museum. In addition to all of its exhibitions, there are many neighborhoods worth exploring—Brookland, NoMa, Shaw, and the LGBTQ-friendly Logan Circle to name a few—that show the city isn’t relying on its history to attract locals and visitors. What makes D.C. a city worth visiting now are new developments—$9.6 billion of them, says Elliott Ferguson, president and CEO of Destination DC. “The city has added new hotels, museums, rooftops, Michelin-rated dining, and more for travelers to explore. A few upcoming highlights include… MLS All-Star Week in July, DC JazzFest over Labor Day Weekend and Theater Week this fall.”

Plan your next trip with AFAR’s Guide to Washington, D.C.

The beachside location of Miami is hard to resist.

The beachside location of Miami is hard to resist.

Photo by pisaphotography/Shutterstock

6. Miami, Florida

Highlighted rankings: Place (4), People (3)

Why we love it: Miami has historically been a meeting point for the Americas, making it a no-brainer that its foreign-born population ranked high on the list. But in this city, diversity goes beyond nationality; the city’s allure for the LGBTQ community and ex–Silicon Valley techies gives it a sense of welcome that many people, especially in the social media and cryptocurrency worlds, are embracing.

Last year, Miami moved into the top 10 for the first time, and it continues to rise in the ranks in 2023. It’s likely “a reflection of the migration of investment and talent to the area and its appeal as a destination for visitors relative to other U.S. cities over the last two years,” says Resonance President Chris Fair.

While Miami could rest on its open-minded reputation and beachside location to draw people, the city is also putting in the work to stay relevant. On Miami’s Upper East Side, a former industrial site of abandoned warehouses and factories is being transformed into a center for more than 60 restaurants, cafés, and shops known as Ironside. And it helps that Bon Appétit named Miami the 2023 Food City of the Year.

Plan your next trip with AFAR’s Guide to Miami.

Historical landmarks draw millions of tourists to Boston each year.

Historical landmarks draw millions of tourists to Boston each year.

Photo by f11photo/Shutterstock

7. Boston, Massachusetts

Highlighted rankings: Place (7), Product (4)

Why we love it: Boston is home to more than 75 institutions of higher learning—including Harvard and MIT—giving it the top spot in the University category and a high ranking in the Educational attainment category. But it’s not only students who come to Boston. As the oldest large city in America, it draws millions of tourists each year to see historical landmarks along the Freedom Trail , including the USS Constitution and the King’s Chapel .

The old city is getting some upgrades, including a 5,000-room increase in the next four years across planned hotels like the 1,055-room Omni Boston Hotel and Raffles Boston Back Bay Hotel. Things are also cooking in the entertainment realm, with Live Nation’s construction of MGM Music Hall at Fenway. This 5,000-seat concert hall, which opened in August 2022, extends the legendary ballpark to accommodate four new levels of event space.

Plan your next trip with AFAR’s Guide to Boston.

rooftop bar at the Thompson Seattle

The rooftop bar at the Thompson Seattle delivers some of the best views of Elliott Bay.

Thompson Seattle

8. Seattle, Washington

Highlighted rankings: Place (9), Prosperity (6)

Why we love it: Off in the far-most corner of the Pacific Northwest, the pine-scented idyll of Seattle is one of the country’s best-kept secrets, with a high quality of life that comes from continued investment from big tech and (literally) greener pastures. Amazon and Microsoft—two of the cities biggest employers—draw talent from around the globe; though recent layoffs hit the city, real estate prices have finally started to come down from the clouds, making it an interesting time to double down on Seattle.

Wondering what you’ll get when you arrive? Top-notch boating and hiking, food and drinks, theater and music. This year marks the return of Bumbershoot, the Labor Day weekend music and arts festival that has been on a pandemic hiatus for the last three years; it turns 50 in 2023.

Plan your next trip with AFAR’s Guide to Seattle.

Houston Heights&mdash;referred to by locals as the Heights&mdash;is one of the city's earliest planned communities and a neighborhood favored by artists. Characterized by quaint Victorian houses, loads of green space, and an abundance of bike paths, the Heights is a great place to just meander, or browse or buy antiques along 19th Street. The <a href="https://www.afar.com/places/first-saturday-arts-market-houston">First Saturday Arts Market</a> is another fun way to get to know the neighborhood.

Houston Heights—referred to by locals as the Heights—is one of the city’s earliest planned communities and a neighborhood favored by artists.

Photo courtesy of Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau

9. Houston, Texas

Highlighted rankings: Product (5), Programming (7)

Why we love it: “Houston today is one of America’s most ethnically diverse big cities,” reports Resonance, “with more than 145 languages spoken at home, according to the latest census—about even with New York. No wonder it ranks no. 7 for Culture and its prism of festivals, from international film festivals to some of the country’s biggest Juneteenth celebrations. Next year, the city welcomes America’s first Ismaili Center, commissioned by His Highness the Aga Khan as a place of dialogue between faith and the world, East and West, and humanity and nature.”

Dare we say it: The food in Houston is some of the best in the Lone Star state.

Plan your next trip with AFAR’s Guide to Houston.

San Jose is one of the most well-paid and well-educated cities in the country.

San Jose is one of the most well-paid and well-educated cities in the country.

Photo by Uladzik Kryhin/Shutterstock

10. San Jose, California

Highlighted rankings: People (1), Prosperity (2)

Why we love it: “It’s fascinating what a well-educated, well-paid, and diverse population can do for a city’s performance,” reports Resonance. “In the case of San Jose, the economic, cultural, and political capital of Silicon Valley and California’s oldest civilian Spanish settlement, it’s everything. The city’s talent has propelled it to another top 10 overall finish in 2023, even amid a battered tech sector and the crescendo in tech circles that ‘everyone is leaving the Valley.’

“San Jose still boasts the most educated citizenry in the country. It’s also home to the second-most foreign-born talent (trailing only Miami). The combo puts the city tops in the country in our People category yet again this year.”

Travelers can check out places like History Park , an open-air museum featuring local architecture that has been saved and relocated over the past few centuries, including a Chinese temple , an entire hotel , and a trolley barn .

The rest of the top 20 cities in the United States:

11. Las Vegas, Nevada

12. Atlanta, Georgia

13. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

14. Denver, Colorado

15. Dallas, Texas

16. San Diego, California

17. Orlando, Florida

18. Austin, Texas

19. Minneapolis, Minnesota (new to top 20 in 2023)

20. Portland, Oregon (new to top 20 in 2023)

To see the full list of the 100 best cities in the United States, visit bestcities.org.

This article was originally published in 2020 and was updated on June 2, 2023, to reflect new rankings.

>> Next: The World’s 25 Best Cities of 2023

Courtesy of Kessler Collection

Nomadic Matt: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Better

My 31 Favorite Places to Visit in the USA

The colorful rocks of the Grand Canyon during sunset

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

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

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

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

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

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

The restaurants of Memphis, Tennessee lit up at night

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

Austin, Texas skyline at dusk shining over the water

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

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

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

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

3. New Orleans

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

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

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

4. Asheville

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

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

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

5. The Pacific Coastal Drive

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

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

6. Redwood National Park

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

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

7. Glacier National Park

Calm waters and snow-capped mountains in Glacier National Park

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

The downtown Denver, Colorado skyline lit up at night

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

The famous bean sculpture in Chicago, Illinois shining at night

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

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

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

10. New York City

The iconic skyline of NYC on a bright summer day

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

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

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

11. Natchez

A bright orange sunset over the water near Natchez, Mississippi

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

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

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

12. Savannah

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

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

13. The Grand Canyon

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

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

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

14. Nashville

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

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

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

15. San Francisco

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

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

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

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

Wide and spacious beach on the coast of Miami, Florida

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

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

17. San Diego

A tall wooden pier on the San Diego beach during sunset

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

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

19. Lake Tahoe

A sweeping view of the forests around Lake Tahoe in California

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

20. Anywhere in Montana

A flat, sparse farmyard in rural Montana during the summer

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

21. Washington D.C.

The White House in Washington, D.C

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

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

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

22. Cape Cod

Waves crashing against a sunny beach in Cape Cod, Massachusetts

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

A historic statue surrounded by flowers in Boston, Massachusetts

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

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

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

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

24. Las Vegas

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

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

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

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

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

25. Portland

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

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

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

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

26. Seattle

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

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

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

27. Deadwood

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

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

28. Kansas City

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

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

29. Louisville

An old steamboat docked on the river in Louisville, USA

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

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

30. Charleston

A quiet sidestreet lined by trees in Charleston, USA

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

31. Franklin

Downtown in Franklin, Tennessee, USA

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hi, I’m Nomadic Matt, the New York Times best-selling author of How to Travel the World on $50 a Day and Ten Years a Nomad, as well as the founder of this website! And I’m here to help you save money on your next trip.

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

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

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The 10 best cities in the US to book for your next vacation, according to Travel + Leisure

Pack those bags! Vacation season just got boosted with the release of Travel + Leisure's 2023 World's Best Awards.

On July 11, Travel + Leisure published their annual World's Best Awards , a travel awards program made up of 122 category lists highlighting the best in travel — from cities in the U.S. and around the world to airlines, national parks and hotels.

The magazine’s results are based on data from readers who participated in a survey and ranked each characteristic by selecting excellent, above average, average, below average or poor. The final scores are averages of the participants' responses.

“This year’s awards reflect the ever-evolving landscape of travel, with new categories and new winners capturing the changing preferences of modern travelers," Travel + Leisure’s editor in chief Jacqui Gifford said in a press release. "We hope this list will inspire our audience to embrace the transformative power of travel.”

Here are some of the findings:

Top 10 U.S. cities 2023

Nashville Skyline at Sunset

1. Charleston, South Carolina

2. Santa Fe, New Mexico

3.  New Orleans, Louisiana

4.  Savannah, Georgia

5.  Chicago, Illinois

6.  Honolulu, Hawaii

7.   New York, New York

8.  Nashville, Tennessee

9.  Alexandria, Virginia

10. San Antonio, Texas

Top 10 world's best cities 2023

1.  Oaxaca, Mexico

2.  Udaipur, India

3.  Kyoto, Japan

4. Ubud, Indonesia

5.  San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

6.  Mexico City, Mexico

7.  Tokyo, Japan

8.  Istanbul, Turkey

9. Bangkok, Thailand

10. Mumbai, India

World's best city

Oaxaca, Mexico

World's best hotel

Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet

World's best hotel brand 

Capella Hotels & Resorts

World's best luxury villa rental company

Tuscany Now & More

World's best island

Great Barrier Reef Islands, Australia

World's best mega-ship ocean cruise line

Virgin Voyages

World's best large-ship ocean cruise line

World's best midsize-ship ocean cruise line.

Viking Cruises

World's best small-ship ocean cruise line

World's best intimate-ship ocean cruise line  .

Quasar Expeditions

World's best river cruise line

Aqua Expeditions

World's best international airline

La Compagnie

World's best domestic airline

Hawaiian Airlines

World's best international airport  

Singapore Changi Airport

World's best domestic airport

Manchester-Boston Regional Airport

World's best safari outfitter

Alluring Africa

World's best tour operator

World's best rental car company.

National Car Rental

World's best international destination spa

The Ranch Italy at Palazzo Fiuggi

World's best domestic destination spa

The Ranch Malibu

World's best U.S. National Park

Yellowstone National Park

World's best trains

Rocky Mountaineer, North America

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Our mission is to serve the 50+ traveler who's ready to cross a few items off their bucket list.

Our 16 Favorite Cities To Visit In The U.S.

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best travel us cities

It’s safe to say that the continent-spanning United States is home to an enormous variety of cities. From the dense metropolises of New England to the desert oases of the Southwest, there’s a city for every type of traveler in the U.S. However you choose to experience one — or all — of these cities, you won’t be disappointed.

1. Kansas City, Missouri (Winner)

This centrally located city is a favorite destination for Midwesterners. One popular area to explore is the Country Club Plaza , where you can find countless options for shopping, dining, and entertainment. Two of the best museums in town are the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the National WWI Museum and Memorial .

While the culture, architecture, and music of Kansas City are all worth a trip, the cuisine may be the best reason to visit, and you can’t mention food in KC without mentioning barbecue . Kansas City’s take on the American culinary classic is generally considered to be built around a sweeter, thicker sauce.

Fenway Park

2. Boston, Massachusetts

There’s probably no better destination for American history lovers than Boston. To make good use of your time, consider exploring the Freedom Trail , which will take you about 2.5 miles past 16 historical landmarks, like the Paul Revere House and the Old Corner Bookstore.

Whether you’re a baseball fan or not, catching a game at the iconic Fenway Park is not to be missed. You can also take a tour and learn about the oldest active park in the MLB. The Fenway-Kenmore neighborhood is also home to the Museum of Fine Arts and Symphony Hall.

3. Nashville, Tennessee

To kick off a visit to Nashville, set the tone by checking out the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. If you want to continue the music theme , you can also explore Honky Tonk Row for some live music. Then catch a show at the Grand Ole Opry — one of the most legendary country music venues in the U.S.

Between live shows and good eats, try to find these murals throughout the city. Not only will you take some stunning photos for social media, but you’ll also have an excuse to explore some key neighborhoods.

Brooklyn Bridge

4. New York, New York

No American city captures the heart, mind, and imagination quite like New York City. It’s home to countless landmarks: the Empire State Building, Central Park, Times Square, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Statue of Liberty – to name only a few. In addition to landmarks and sights, there’s also history around every corner.

The city is undeniably expensive, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time in New York on a budget . Walking through the city, attending street events, and visiting free museums will help you save some cash. This guide will show you where to find free underground art in the city.

If you do decide to spend some money, a food tour is a perfect way to experience the different cultures and neighborhoods of the Big Apple.

5. San Antonio, Texas

While Texas may be famous for its love affair with trucks, one of San Antonio’s biggest appeals is its River Walk, a miles-long network of pedestrian areas that provide people with shopping, dining, and entertainment options. You won’t want to miss out on any of the fantastic experiences along the walk.

While the most famous mission in San Antonio is the Alamo – which is a must-visit – there are several other missions in the city that are worth seeing.

San Francisco from the top of Lombard Street

6. San Francisco, California

One of the most vibrant neighborhoods to get started in San Francisco is the Mission District. You can explore the Spanish mission that gives the neighborhood its name, check out street art, sample a range of cuisines, and have a fun night on the town.

For an incredible outdoor experience in San Francisco, the Lands End Trail cannot be beaten. The trail rewards hikers with views of the marvelous Golden Gate Bridge, but there are plenty of interesting stops along the way. From history at the USS San Francisco Memorial to art at the Legion of Honor, there’s more than nature to be discovered here.

7. Washington, D.C.

Similar to other cities mentioned on this list, Washington, D.C. is absolutely steeped in history. D.C.’s most popular attractions have earned the respect they garner. The National Mall must be seen to be believed. The park is home to iconic memorials and landmarks like the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and more. Consider exploring the area by bike .

For an indoor exploration of history, look no further than the various Smithsonian institutions in D.C. Eleven are located in the National Mall, though there are a total of 17 in the city. While the National Air and Space Museum and the Museum of Natural History are probably the most popular, a full list can be found on the Washington D.C. website .

San Diego's Balboa Park

8. San Diego, California

With nearly perfect weather year-round, it’s hard to resist exploring San Diego on foot or by bike . The Embarcadero and Gaslamp Quarter are two favorites, but you can’t go wrong when the sun is shining.

For a balance of history, shopping, and art, spend a day (and night) at Liberty Station . The former naval training center turned into a sprawling business development and has something to offer people of all ages and interests.

Finally, Balboa Park is the perfect playground for discovering more art, culture, and entertainment. The Japanese Friendship Garden is particularly worth visiting for some quiet, peaceful reflection.

9. Colorado Springs, Colorado

There’s no shortage of breathtaking outdoor activities available in Colorado Springs. Garden of the Gods is a 1,300-acre public park with mindblowing rock features and rich ecological diversity. Explore the park on foot, bike, Segway, or horseback. Colorado Springs is also close to Cheyenne Mountain State Park , Seven Falls , and the Manitou Incline .

Don’t miss out on the wide variety of restaurants in Colorado Springs. You can try Colorado poutine at Cerberus Brewing Co. or sample bison bolognese at Walter’s Bistro.

USS Arizona Memorial

10. Honolulu, Hawaii

Just viewing one or two pictures of Hawaii removes all doubt that these islands are paradise on Earth. Climbing to Diamond Head National Monument will get your heart pumping and allow you to experience some of the best views in Hawaii. For a classic Hawaii beach experience, Waikiki Beach is hard to top.

Pearl Harbor National Memorial offers visitors an opportunity to pay homage to fallen sailors and learn about one of the most impactful events in American history. Visiting the memorial is a moving experience that you won’t soon forget.

11. New Orleans, Louisana

New Orleans is one of America’s most unique cities, so many visitors favor exploring it on foot to fully immerse themselves in the sights, sounds, and smells. These tours range from food and cocktails to ghost stories and history. NOLA Historic Tours offers “Salon Experiences” that combine performance, history, food, and cocktails based on your interests.

Other tours will take you through the Garden District, the French Quarter, and Magazine Street. One of the more popular tours on the list is the Killers And Thrillers Tour, which takes visitors through the darker side of New Orleans.

Indianapolis Cultural Trail

12. Indianapolis, Indiana

Indianapolis is a family-oriented city that is probably most famous for the Indianapolis 500. Visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for a tour of the track and learn about motorsports by viewing fascinating memorabilia and cars.

The Indianapolis Cultural Trail is an 8-mile multi-use trail that connects a variety of cultural attractions and works of art. Highlights include the Wholesale District, Fountain Square, and the sculpture Looking Through Windows by Michael Kuschnir.

For another cultural experience, visit the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art at White River State Park .

13. Seattle, Washington

From its humble beginnings as a timber town, Seattle has endured cycles of growth that have culminated in the city’s standing as a major tech, art, and music hub — not to mention its association with coffee . Pike Place Market is one of the top destinations in the city where visitors explore local foods, crafts, and coffee.

Chihuly Garden and Glass is home to some of Dale Chihuly’s most interesting works. For a slightly off-beat tour, explore Seattle’s literal underground with Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour . Some popular venues for live music include The Crocodile , the Paramount Theatre , and Neumos .

Lincoln Park

14. Chicago, Illinois

This Midwestern gem has enough to keep visitors busy for a lifetime. To start off with some free activities , explore the city’s gorgeous parks , especially Lincoln Park. You can also stroll along the river or through one of Chicago’s unique neighborhoods . The Art Institute is probably the most famous museum in the city, but the Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium give it a run for its money.

There’s plenty to do for sports fans regardless of the season. The Cubs, White Sox, Blackhawks, Bulls, and Bears all call Chicago home, so it’s easy to catch a game in the Windy City.

15. Austin, Texas

The capital of Texas is known as a quirky, weird place, so it’s no surprise that Austin is home to incredible art, music, culture, and event scenes. Festivals keep Austin bright and exciting year-round; a full list of events is available at Visit Austin . Don’t miss world-class events like the SXSW music, film, and comedy festival, the Austin Food + Wine Festival, and Fantastic Fest.

There are also plenty of outdoor activities available in Austin, with lovely highlights like Zilker Botanical Garden and Lady Bird Lake.

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

16. Albuquerque, New Mexico

Last but not least is Albuquerque , a southwestern city with an interesting history behind its name. One of the most unique ways to spend some time in Albuquerque is by exploring the history and culture of the area’s Indigenous people. The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center is a great introduction to the people and their culture, but you can also see history in a stunning natural environment at Petroglyph National Monument .

An event that draws in visitors year after year is the Festival Flamenco Alburquerque , which recently celebrated its 35th anniversary. Check out the festival in June to experience some of the best flamenco outside of Spain.

Image of Dan Happe

Dan Happe is an editor from Des Moines, Iowa. He loves that his work allows him to see the world from his desk, but he particularly enjoys articles that involve cycling, accessibility, and sustainability. When Dan isn’t reading or writing, he is repairing and riding bikes, cooking, and searching for the perfect cup of tea.

PlanetWare.com

24 Best Places to Visit in the United States

Written by Lana Law Updated May 3, 2023

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

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

Yosemite National Park

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

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

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

1. New York

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

New York

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

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

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

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

San Francisco

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

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

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

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

The Grand Canyon

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

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

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

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

Houston from Buffalo Bayou Park

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

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

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

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

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

Las Vegas

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

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

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

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

Waikiki

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

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

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

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

Washington, D.C.

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

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

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

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

Miami

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

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

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

Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Miami

Los Angeles

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

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

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

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

Jackson Square, New Orleans

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

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

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

New Orleans

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

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

Arches National Park

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

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

Zion National Park

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

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

Bryce Canyon National Park

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

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

Orlando/Kissimmee

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

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

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

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

Chicago

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

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

  • Read More: Top-Rated Attractions in Chicago

Phoenix

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

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

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

A family hiking in Papago Park, Phoenix

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

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

Savannah

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

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

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

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

Boston

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

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

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

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

Yosemite National Park

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

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

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

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

Rocky Mountains in Colorado

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

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

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

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

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

Seattle

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

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

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

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

Nags Head, Outer Banks

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

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

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

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

Read More: Best Coastal Towns in North Carolina

Santa Fe, New Mexico

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

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

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

Read More: Best Places to Visit in New Mexico

River Walk in San Antonio

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

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

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

Morning Glory Pool in Yellowstone National Park

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

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

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

Read More: Best Campgrounds in Yellowstone National Park

Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska

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

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

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

More Related Articles on PlanetWare.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Table of Contents

Best Cities to Visit in the USA

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

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

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New York, New York

From Disha of Disha Discovers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Miami, Florida

From Veronika of Travel Geekery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

San Diego, California

From Maria of San Diego Explorer

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

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

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

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

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

cityscape of san diego california on a sunny day

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

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

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

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

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

Austin, Texas

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

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

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

Want to get out of town?

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

Austin TX skyline with the South Congress Bridge in the foreground

New Orleans, Louisiana

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Washington, DC

From Jordan of The Solo Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

San Francisco, California

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chicago, Illinois

From Wendy of The Nomadic Vegan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Houston, Texas

From Thanh of The Traveling Asian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Las Vegas, Nevada

From Kimberley of Two Travelling Toques

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nightlife also takes center stage here.

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

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

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

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

Savannah, Georgia

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have enough time for a quick  day trip ?

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

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

Los Angeles, California

From Trijit of Budget Travel Buff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seattle, Washington

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

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

Looking for interesting neighborhoods?

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

Hoping to spend some time outside?

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

Seattle Waterfront with space needle visible through the ferris wheel

Charleston, South Carolina

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Orlando, Florida

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Portland, Oregon

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nashville, Tennessee

From Apryl of Southern Traveling Gal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Save some room for some barbecue from Peg Leg Porker!

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

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

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

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

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

country band playing banjois in nashville tennessee

Boston, Massachusetts

From Linn of Brainy Backpackers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Days in Boston Itinerary: Beacon Hill

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

From Melissa of Parenthood and Passports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho

From Allison of She Dreams of Alpine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oregon Coast

From Kay of The Awkward Traveller

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

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

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

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

One car driving along the oregon coast as shot from above

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

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

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

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

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

Acadia National Park, Maine

From Ale of Sea Salt & Fog

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

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

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

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

Things to Do in Acadia National Park

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

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

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

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

Things to Do in Acadia National Park

Joshua Tree National Park, California

From Monica of This Rare Earth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joshua Tree is roughly 2.5 hours outside of Los Angeles.

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

From Chris of Called to Wander

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

From Dan of Cabin Critic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

From Michele of Adventures Abound

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

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

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

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

Not feeling up to a lengthy hike?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arches National Park, Utah

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

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

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

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

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

Double Arch in Arches National Park Utah

Olympic National Park, Washington

From Sophie and Adam of We Dream of Travel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

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

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

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

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

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

Death Valley National Park, California

From Michelle of The Wandering Queen

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

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

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

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

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

mesquite dunes in death valley national park during a pink sunrise

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

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

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

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

It truly is a spectacular thing to see!

Rocky Mountain National Park

From Jyoti of Story At Every Corner

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

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

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

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

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

The easiest way to visit RMNP park is by car.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Havasu Falls, Arizona

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

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

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

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

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

Zion National Park, Utah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Texas Bluebonnet Trail

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

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

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

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

Upper Peninsula, Michigan

From Emily of Em’s on the Road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Redwood National Forest

From Dhara of Roadtripping California

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apostle Islands, Wisconsin

From Jase of Roaming Vegans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maui, Hawaii

From Jessica of I’m Jess Traveling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cape Cod, Massachusetts

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

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

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

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

Provincetown Massachusetts on Cape Cod as seen from the water

Nā Pali Coast, Kauai

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

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

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

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

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

Florida Keys

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

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

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

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

Big Island, Hawaii

From Patricia of Travel Fam Life

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

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

Hawaii is going to impress anyone that decides to visit.

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

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

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

woman snorkeling in hawaii with orange fish in the foreground

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Outer Banks, North Carolina

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

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

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

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

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

Oahu, Hawaii

From Sydney of A World in Reach

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

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

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

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

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

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

oahu hawaii beach at sunset with palm trees in the foreground

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

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

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

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

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

Napa Valley, California

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

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

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

Door County, Wisconsin

From Paulina of Paulina on the Road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Big Sur, California

From Lauren of Ready, Set, PTO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Page, Arizona

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Kate Storm

Image of the author, Kate Storm

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

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

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

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

Thank you so much, Laura!

Retiring to Italy–sounds like quite the dream! 🙂

Absolutely amazing article, just loved it.

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20 Best Cities To Visit In The USA (2024 Review)

Last Updated on January 11, 2024 by Nicole

The United States is filled to the brink with incredible and diverse cities. They range in size from millions of people to a few thousand and from an intense fast paced inner-city experience to a more gentle and slower pace with easy access to nature. Some offer year round warm sunny weather while others offer you the wonderment of all four seasons. Whether you are looking for access to amazing restaurants, world class museums, great beaches, or a launching spot for awe-inspiring day trips, you will find your heart’s desire in one of these 20 best cities to visit in the USA recommended by travel bloggers and industry experts.

This post may contain affiliate links. That means that I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you buy something through my site. This helps me run my website and produce the articles that I hope you find helpful.

Best US Destinations By Month

Many of us want to take a vacation, but then, have no idea where to go. As we all know, the United States is enormous. With its wide ranging geography, some places are better to visit during certain months while others are best avoided at all costs. In addition, most destinations offer amazing annual festivals and events that would be fantastic to see, but how do you plan to go when you have no idea what’s coming up?

For a list of the best places to visit in the US by month, including special events that you wouldn’t want to miss, please take a look at the following articles. The destinations include cities, towns, national and state parks.

  • 24 Best Places To Visit In The USA in January ;
  • 26 Best Places To Visit In USA In February ;
  • 26 Best Places To Visit In The USA In March ;
  • 20 Best Places To Visit In The USA In April ;
  • 25 Best Places To Visit In The USA In May ;
  • 21 Best Places To Visit In The USA In June ;
  • 23 Best Places To Visit In The USA in September ;
  • 22 Best Places To Visit In The USA In October
  • 20 Best Places To Visit In The USA In November ; and
  • 23 Best Places To Visit In The USA For Christmas .

If national parks and nature are your sole interest, consider reviewing:

  • Best Times To Visit The 25 Best National Parks In The USA ; and
  • 23 Best National Parks To Visit In The USA In June ;
  • 21 Best US National Parks To Visit In October ;
  • 15 Best Waterfalls To Visit In The USA ;
  • 10 Best Natural Hot Springs In Northern And Southern California .

If you are looking for a warm winter getaway in the United States, take a look at the 50 best US beaches in winter . If snow and winter sports are more your thing, please see  24 Best Snowy Winter Wonderlands In the USA .

For those who are trying to find a summer vacation with beautiful mild summer days, please take a look at 20 Best US Destinations To Escape The Sizzling Summer Heat .

For anyone who loves a beautiful sunset, check out 24 Best Places In USA For Most Beautiful Sunsets .

Best Cities To Visit In The USA

Here are 20 of the best cities to visit in the USA according to industry insiders and travel experts. They all offer fun or interesting attractions and are easily reached from all parts of the United States (and the world). Most provide an amazing foodie scene and straightforward access to beaches or nature. Included are the best times to go, when you might want to avoid, and a pro tip or two from those in the know.

best places to visit in the USA in April

Boston, Massachusetts

According to Samantha from Seeing Sam , Boston might seem like just another bustling city, famous for beans, baseball, and the legendary bar Cheers but the healthiest city in America (according to the Deutsche Bank) has so much more to offer.

Boston ‘s charm, history, and innovation make it one of the best cities to visit in the USA from its stunning architecture, historic parks and buildings, food markets, sports teams, and cultural museums.

A duck boat tour through downtown and Massachusetts bay is a great way to see the city. Catch a fly ball at iconic Fenway Park or enjoy $1 oysters at many delicious raw bars around town. For those history buffs, soak up some American history on the 2.5 mile Freedom Trail walk.

Boston is home to countless museums, and art galleries, one famous for the largest art heist in the world, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Boston also makes an excellent base for lots of day trips, including Cambridge, home to Harvard University, the famous Witch town of Salem, or the popular summer spot, Cape Cod.

There is so much to see and do in Boston; this beautiful historic city easily brings life to the term “something for everyone,” solidifying its place as one of the best cities to visit in the USA.

Approximately 700,000 people.

Best Time To Go

The fall is the greatest time to visit Boston, for its mild autumn weather perfect for walking around the varying neighborhoods. Boston offers beautiful views of fall foliage and plenty of fall activities for travelers, including the famous Boston Marathon, and the New England Christmas Festival beginning in early November.

Best Time To Avoid

Winters are harsh so summer and fall are best.

The city is very walkable, so stay near the center to avoid renting a car and overpaying for parking.

Boston’s international airport, Boston Logan International (BOS), makes Boston convenient to reach from all over the US.

Hotel Recommendation

The Newbury Boston is a new luxury hotel located in Boston’s Back Bay, the city’s premier shopping and dining neighborhood. Tourists and locals alike can be found perusing boutiques, fashion houses, art galleries, and cafes – all housed in elegant brick townhouses.

Copley Square, the 1800s landmark Trinity Church, the Boston Public Garden, and the Boston Public Library, are just a few of the famed destinations that can be found in the area.

best cities to visit in the USA

Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville, Kentucky is one of the best cities to visit in the United States because of its unique culture and attractions, accessibility and unmatched spirits and culinary scene. A visit to Louisville offers a chance to experience things you can’t do anywhere else in the world, like a walkable Bourbon distillery trail, underground ziplining, and a visit to the home of the longest annually held sporting event in the country.

Kentucky is home to 95% of the world’s Bourbon supply. One third of it is made right in Louisville. Along Louisville’s Main Street, there are five Bourbon distilleries within walking distance, with a handful of others just a short drive away. All of these distilleries offer tours for you to get a taste of America’s only native spirit.

While Louisville does have an amusement park, science museum and history museum, it also offers one of one-of-a-kind attractions that can’t be found anywhere else, such as the Muhammad Ali Center , Kentucky Derby Museum , Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory , and Louisville Mega Cavern – which offers the world’s only fully underground zip-lining adventure.

Approximately 620,000.

Spring & Fall – specifically April -May, September – October. These are the best times of year to visit from a temperature standpoint. In addition, Churchill Downs offers live horse racing during this time.

The summers are often extremely hot and humid (mostly humid).

Though it’s a bucket list item for many, the Kentucky Derby weekend is expensive and has extra crowds. Accordingly, avoid the first full weekend in May.

Get out into the neighborhoods. While downtown offers a majority of the cities’ museums and distilleries, many of the city’s best bar and restaurants can be found in neighborhoods adjacent to downtown.

Louisville’s East Market District or NuLu has an eclectic mix of boutique shops and restaurants. Old Louisville boasts the countries largest collection of Victorian-era mansions, which you can view on a historic walking or haunted ghost tour. 

Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport is just a short drive to downtown. In addition, Louisville is located within a day’s drive of over half the U.S. population, which makes it an ideal destination for weekend road trips as well.

best places to visit in the USA

Chicago, Illnois

Chicago  is the largest city in the Midwest (and the third largest city in the U.S.). It is home to 77 distinct cultural neighborhoods each with its own vibe and personality ensuring that no matter where your interests lie, there is something special for everyone.

Check out this  neighborhood map  to find the scene that best suits your mood, whether it’s the artsy vibe of Wicker Park/Bucktown, the historic appeal of the 19th century Pullman Historic District, or one of the many others. 

There is an overwhelming amount to do in Chicago . The Chicago Riverwalk stretches 1.25 miles from Lake Michigan to Lake Street. You will discover cafes, wineries and bars, public art installations, monuments, museums, and a boatload of excursions on the water.

Chicago, the birthplace of improv comedy via groups like The Second City, is also home to a thriving theater scene. This includes the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, whose all-star ensemble casts over the years have included the likes of John Malkovich and Gary Sinise.

The  Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s  year-round season features as many as 20 productions and 650 shows annually, including plays, musicals, premieres, and family programming, all inspired by (arguably) the world’s greatest playwright.

As for food, it is one of the reasons Chicago is one of the best cities to visit in the USA. Deep dish pizza, invented in the 1940s, is a legendary Chicago style, instantly recognizable for its bowl-like crust filled with cheese, sauce and toppings. However, Chicago is so much more than just the deep dish pizza. You could spend months eating your way through Chicago!

Approximately 2.7 million.

The best time of year to visit the city is considered by many to be the “shoulder seasons” of Spring (April-June) and Fall (September-October) when temperatures are mild and there are plenty of festivals and events.

Summer tends to be busy and the weather can get very hot.

Winters in Chicago are notoriously cold. On the upside, you are more likely to find cheaper accommodations and can use the winter season as an opportunity to explore Chicago’s indoor attractions, such as its world-famous museums and thriving theater scene! 

Avoid renting a car in Chicago. It has a fantastic mass transportation system and ride sharing. Parking is extremely expensive downtown.

Fly into Chicago via Chicago O’Hare International Airport or Midway International Airport. Downtown is easily accessible from both.

There are fantastic options within blocks of the Michigan Mile with amazing shopping and restaurants. For an upscale experience, consider Omni Chicago Hotel which offers suite style accommodation. For something more value driven, explore the Fairfield Inn And Suites .

If you would like to receive more travel tips to help you Travel Cheaper, Smarter and Easier, click HERE !

best cities to visit in the United States

St. Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine, Florida  is the oldest city in the U.S., founded by Spaniards in 1565. Set on the Atlantic Coast of Northeast Florida, the appeal of this small city is its incredible food scene, the inspiring artistic culture, its rich history, beautiful beaches, and more.

There are more than 60 historic sites and attractions for visitors to explore. Some of the most popular are the Castillo de San Marcos  National Monument, the oldest fortress in North America. Built between 1672 and 1695, the fort protected the city from British raids and pirate sackings.

The St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum celebrates the city’s rich maritime heritage through exhibits and displays, and guests can climb the 219 steps to the top of the tower for a spectacular view of the city.

Finally, tour the city’s historic area (144 sq. blocks on the National Register of Historic Places) aboard the Red Express Tour or one of the other many tours to learn about the history and people from the city’s storied past.

Take a food tour with one of the local walking tours to eat and drink your way through history, or take a boat tour to see the city from the water.

Approximately 14,500.

The year round temperate climate makes this a comfortable place to visit throughout the year and one of the reasons it is one of the best cities to visit in America.

From Mid-November through January, during  Nights of Lights , the City is lit up with millions of tiny white Lights to celebrate the Holiday season.

With the romance of Mediterranean-style architecture, old-world charm and dozens of elegant inns, February is the perfect time to come to celebrate Valentine’s Day.  

Spring time is filled with food, music and art festivals.

Summer and fall months are perfect for beach getaways (this is a coastal city), family fun and even more music and food.  

Late July and August it does get a bit warmer, but there are usually afternoon showers that cool things down. For those who want to avoid outside, there are plenty of museums and galleries from which to choose.

Weekday visits present better hotel deals and smaller crowds in the Historic district.

There are many major airlines offering non-stop air service to Jacksonville International Airport from larger hub cities like Atlanta, NY, Miami and Charlotte. Orlando International Airport (MCO) is just a 1.5 hour drive away.

Best cities to visit in the USA

San Fransisco, California

San Francisco is one of the best cities to visit in the USA. It is full of great neighborhoods, parks, history, beaches, museums, and fun things to do.

Some amazing things to see and do in San Francisco includes exploring Fisherman’s Wharf. In addition to accessing the former terrifying maximum penitentiary Alcatraz , Fisherman’s Wharf features Ghirardelli Square (for some mouthwatering chocolate and ice cream desserts), the stores and restaurants at Pier 39 (along with a view of hundreds of sea lions lounging in the sun), and The Cartoon Art Museum.

You should definitely cross the Golden Gate Bridge, either on foot or by bike (rentals are easy to find). This incredible bridge is a work of engineering and a popular San Francisco landmark. You should visit the Visitor’s Center to learn about its history.

Approximately 875,000.

The best time to visit San Francisco is in the fall (September through November) when you’ll get the warmest weather and smaller crowds.

Summer is the time to avoid San Francisco because tourist season is at its peak. In addition, temperature hovers around the 60°F and fog consumes the city most afternoons and nights. 

Book your tickets to Alcatraz far in advance. You can only access it by boat and there are limited availability and times.

If you’re traveling internationally, San Francisco International Airport is the best option. If you’re traveling from another US state, Oakland International Airport (OAK) and San Jose International Airport (SJC) are great choices.

Another option is to fly to Los Angeles International Airport and take the Pacific Coast Highway route. Despite its length (442 miles), it is one of America’s most beautiful drives. You should give yourself a day to drive this route so you can enjoy the views along the way.

best cities in the USA to visit

Anchorage, Alaska

As part of the Last Frontier, Anchorage is in the heart of south central Alaska. It is the largest state in the United States, full of natural beauty, and one of the best cities to visit in America.

According to Tabitha from Travel Compositions , Anchorage is a special city surrounded by pristine mountains and large bodies of water. Moose roam the streets like it’s their own. At the height of summer, it gets 19 hours of daylight; in the winter, only 5 hours. 

Anchorage sits against the Chugach Range and has numerous hiking trails like Flattop Mountain, Rabbit Lake Trail, or Blueberry Loop. In the winter you can go skiing at Hilltop Ski Area.

The best pizza in the country is at Moose’s Tooth Pub & Pizzeria. There is always a wait for a table to get their perfectly baked pizzas, like Amazing Apricot (yes! Apricot pizza). They even have their own brews and serve rotating flavors and classic standards such as their signature, crisp Hard Apple Ale.

Day trips from Anchorage are also amazing. A drive down the Seward Hwy along Turnagain Arm will take your breath away. The road hugs the curves of the mountain range with the inlet following you all the way until you turn into the Kenai Peninsula. Keep your eyes open for mountain sheep up among the rocky cliffs or beluga whales swimming in the inlet. If you plan right, you can experience the bore tide and possibly watch surfers ride the wave.

Approximately 293,000.

Late May – early September is the best time to visit this great city. Daylight is at its max, the weather is temperate, you “shouldn’t” have any snow, and the foliage is full and colorful.

Try to avoid visiting during break-up (April-early May) when everything is muddy and slushy and the trees are brown, not yet bloomed.

The earlier you leave for the Seward Hwy along Turnagain Arm drive the better. It allows you to enjoy the view and not worry as much about the car in front of you. As the day progresses, you get more tourists and RVers on the road.

It is only a 3.5hr flight to Anchorage International Airport from Seattle, so it is a lot closer to the lower 48 than most people realize.

best cities to visit in the USA

Rochester, New York

Rochester, NY is located on the southern shore of Lake Ontario and one of the most underrated American cities.

Rochester offers world-class attractions like The Strong National Museum of Play , which houses the largest collection of toys, dolls and games in the world, and the George Eastman Museum , the world’s oldest photography museum.

In addition, you can find the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House, the national historic landmark home of the woman who devoted her entire life to voting rights for women.

Rochester supplies a wide-ranging culinary scene (where else can you dine on something called a “Garbage Plate” for lunch only to have dinner prepared by a Michelin-starred chef), and booming craft breweries and distilleries

More into wine? Rochester is home to two wineries, including Living Roots, the first urban winery in the Finger Lakes region. Beyond Rochester, there are more than 100 wineries spread throughout the region.

With more than 12,000 acres of parkland, and a number of different waterways (a Great Lake, the Erie Canal, a river, bay and the Finger Lakes), there is no limit to what you can do in the outdoors in Rochester. 

Rochester is underrated, friendly, easily accessible, affordable, and one of the best destinations to visit in the USA.

Approximately 206,000.

Weather is optimal from May – October with lots of festivals and events.

It is suitable all year round, but if you are not familiar with traveling and getting around in snow, winter is best avoided.

Be sure to check out High Falls, a 96-foot waterfall located in the heart of downtown Rochester. The Falls are best viewed from the Pont de Rennes pedestrian bridge or the rooftop deck of the Genesee Brew House, the oldest brewery in New York State.

Best airport to fly into is Greater Rochester International Airport.

best American cities in the USA

Charleston, South Carolina

According to Rachel from Means To Explore , Charleston, South Carolina is the perfect city: not too big and noisy, a thriving and diverse foodie scene, and gorgeous historic district with its own brand of Southern charm. Include the fact that you can easily access sandy beaches that can be used all year round thanks to the warm Southern climate, you can understand why it made the list for one of the best cities to visit in the USA.

Go kayaking at Shem’s Creek and meet the local dolphins that inhabit the harbor.

Explore the Charleston Historic District via a walking, carriage, or food tour.

Take a leisurely walk down the Battery, Charleston’s riverside promenade that was once a defensive bulwark. Across is Fort Sumter where the Civil War began.

Take some pictures at the Rainbow Row and make sure you pick a sweetgrass basket at the Charleston City Market. Or just get away for a beach day on Isle of Palms.

Approximately 135,000.

Plan your Charleston trip for spring, end of March to mid-April, when the azaleas burst into bloom and cover every inch of the city with vibrant pinks, purples, and whites. There isn’t a home in Charleston that doesn’t have azaleas!

For an unforgettable spring experience, visit Middleton Place Plantation or Magnolia Gardens & Plantation on the Ashley River. The gardens will blow you away with their spectacular colors.

The summer is hot and has lots of humidity.

Visit The Battery in late afternoon to see dolphins playing in the harbor during sunset.

Charleston International Airport is only 20 minutes north of downtown, but also only 20 minutes south of the Ashley River plantations if you want to check out a gorgeous plantation before you even check in to your hotel. 

best US cities to visit

Seattle, Washington

According to Megan from My Moments And Memories , there are many reasons to visit Seattle, one of the most beautiful and best cities to visit in the USA.

The city centre overlooks the stunning waters of Puget Sound and the mountains of Olympic National Park. You can easily explore island life, lush rain forests or wild beaches with one of the regular ferries from downtown Seattle.

If you don’t have time for that, head up to Smith Tower for an insight into Seattle’s past, and stunning 360 degree views of the city, and beyond.  This includes Mt Rainier, another Seattle icon. You can even enjoy a cocktail as you take it all in. 

There are an incredible range of hiking trails within an hour or two from Seattle. Mt Rainier National Park is one of them. For an easy hike only 30 minutes from Seattle, consider the spectacular Snoqualmie Falls.  

For city experiences, explore Pike Place Market. It opened in 1907 and it is one of the oldest continuously operated public Farmer’s Market in the USA. You can find fruits, vegetables, seafood and other fresh ingredients, as well as artisan crafts and delicious restaurants.

For something wild, fun and completely different, visit the interactive Museum of Pop Culture .

Approximately 725,000.

Summer when it rains the least.

Winter tends to be damp and gloomy with lots of rain. It rarely snows but when it does, the city shuts down.

If you are short on time, do a Float plane tour of the city (from Lake Union). It is the best way to see as much as you can.

Seatac-Tacoma International Airport is only a 20 minute drive to downtown Seattle.

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Virginia Beach is a legacy destination, known for wide open spaces, pristine beaches and family-friendly attractions.

For a seaside resort town, there is a surprising amount of hiking and biking opportunities. The destination is home to 293​ parks and park facilities and 29 miles of scenic waterways. Lake Lawson is surrounded with stunning trees which in the fall are engulfed in vibrant colors. The nature area also features several overlook platforms for fantastic photos. 

False Cape State Park is an oceanside preserve with 15 miles of trails. It is located at the edge of the Virginia-North Carolina border and offers a serene environment to experience nature. For a shot of adrenaline, take a zip-lining ride at the Adventure Park.

With more than  200 miles of trails , a perfect way to spend a day in Virginia Beach is from a bike seat. Rent a bike and take a self-guided  Bike, Brew and History Trail  tour, which traverses 30 miles of terrain in three hours and includes a salt marshland preserve and coastal dunes. 

Approximately 450,000.

Fall is an excellent time to visit Virginia Beach. The destination is blessed with an extended summer as it lingers into fall. You can see the leaves changing and you’ve got the beaches practically to yourself. 

In Virginia Beach, the summers are warm and muggy and the winters are very cold and windy.

Pack comfortable shoes and an appetite as there is a lot to explore outdoors. Because of the destination’s unique positioning, where the waters of the Chesapeake flow into the Atlantic Ocean, Virginia Beach is home to numerous fish species. As a result, it is one of the best cities to visit in the USA for seafood. But if that isn’t your thing, the destination has diverse culinary offerings as well.

Virginia Beach is conveniently located in the mid-Atlantic. Visitors can fly into Norfolk International Airport and then drive 30 minutes to Virginia Beach.

one of the best us cities to visit

Los Angeles, California

Why is Los Angeles one of the best cities in the USA to visit? Well, there’s a ton of reasons – but to start, the city exudes “main character energy” and quite honestly — it’s hard to deny the allure of Los Angeles. It’s flashy, in-your-face and a city for anyone who wants to live the golden fantasy. Frankly, it’s about time some of us got a glimpse of everything La La land has to offer.

Everyone’s visited Disneyland , The Grove, and Beverly Hills, but if you’re looking for hidden gems, here’s where you’ll need to go!

The Last Bookstore displays the art of preserving stories through fully-stocked bookshelves and custom-built book sculptures. So, If you love the smell of books and the vintage feel of printed material, that’s where you should be!

If you ever wanted to cross off trespassing across a “no Trespassing” sign from your bucket list, head over to Sunken City. After a landslide occurred in a San Pedro neighborhood, “Sunken City” formed. Today, it has become a very popular hiking trail that locals & tourists love.

Lastly but definitely not least, how can we forget Griffith Park? It’s where Mia & Sebastian fell in love in the Oscar-winning film, “La La Land”. Notable mentions include the Venice canal, The Museum of Death and the Hollywood sign.

Approximately 4 million.

March to May offers fewer crowds, comfortable temperatures and hotel prices that don’t kill your appetite for exploring the City of Angels.

Key events during these months include the Los Angeles Marathon, Fiesta Broadway, Jazz Reggae Festival & more!

Avoid June – August as it is peak tourist season, meaning higher prices & less peace.

While Los Angeles International Airport is the biggest, busiest airport in L.A., it is by no means the only option in the area. San Diego International Airport is only 2 hours away and can be a much better option depending on how much time you have and where you plan to spend most of your time in the LA area.

best US cities to visit

Columbus, Georgia

Columbus, Georgia , is one of the best places to visit in the USA as it oozes southern hospitality, culinary opportunities and adventure. You can enjoy an outdoor urban escape with geocaching, birding and biking and then, explore city pleasures like fine dining and cultural events.

For thrill seekers, take on the challenge of the rapids of the Chattahoochee River’s urban whitewater course which is the largest in the world of its kind. Alternatively, reach new heights on one of the country’s only interstate zip line system.

The urban core of Columbus offers big city amenities while its waterfront location keeps the outdoors at your fingertips. Souvenir shopping in the heart of the city provides something for everyone including boutiques, large national retailers, antiques and outdoor outfitters.

Culture is tangible through exhibits at the National Civil War Naval Museum at Port Columbus, the River Center for Performing Arts and the Springer Opera House. The Opera House is also a historic landmark built in 1871 in Columbus, GA, and stands as the state’s official theatre. 

Approximately 200,000.

The best time of year to go is September through June when the weather is relatively temperate.

July and August are very hot and humid, and best avoided.

The Lunchbox Museum is very unique and nostalgic. It pulls at your heartstrings when you find the lunchbox you used as a school-age child.

The National Infantry Museum adjacent to Fort Benning is Smithsonian quality. The public art in “Uptown Columbus” is worth a stroll.

The Scrambled Dog is definitely something to try at Dinglewood’s Pharmacy.

And, if you don’t go rafting, you have to at a minimum go walk along the RiverWalk with a stop at Waveshaper Island to watch the white water rafting…see who gets through the “cutbait” rapid without getting dumped out of the boat!

Columbus, Georgia is only an hour and a half south of Atlanta via I-85 and I-185 from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

best cities to visit in the United states

New York City, New York

New York City is known worldwide for a reason. It is unlikely that any list of the best cities to visit in the United States or the world wouldn’t include it.

There is something for everyone to do , and it is impossible to see it all whether you are there for a weekend or a month.

However, if you are only there for a few days, every traveller should visit Times square at least once. Whether you like it or not, it is probably one of the most iconic symbols of New York City with its towering billboards, chintzy souvenir stores, and thronging masses of people.

Another iconic symbol is the Empire State Building. Arguably one of the most famous skyscrapers in the world, you should head to the top for panoramic views of the city and to plan your next adventure.

New York Travel Tip -A standard ticket gets you to the 86th floor of the Empire State Building. Alternatively, you can pay almost 70% more and go 16 floors higher to the 102nd floor. However, it isn’t necessary. The views from the 86th floor are stunning and don’t really change going up 16 floors.

Lastly, try and go see the Statue of Liberty, designated a National Monument in 1924. It is situated in a park like setting and climbing the stairs to one of its platforms for breathtaking views is an incredible experience. In addition, you must take a ferry to reach the Statue of Liberty and it is a fantastic way to see NYC from a different perspective.

New York Travel Tip – You need to pre-purchase tickets to climb up the Statue of Liberty and these tickets sell out fast so buy as early as you can. In addition, you can get a view of the Statue of Liberty and the New York City skyline by ferry for free if you take the Staten Island Ferry.

For other incredible tips to make your trip to New York City the best, please see 50 Best New York City Tips For First Time Visitors .

Approximately 8.5 million.

You should visit between April and June or in September and October when the weather is warm and the crowds are more manageable.

July and August are best avoided. The days are hot and humid. The nights are barely any cooler. In addition, it gets cold in winter. While the snow is pretty when it falls, it turns into muddy slush quickly.

Take public transit. It is extensive and affordable. Do not rent a car as parking is a fortune and often difficult to find. There are lots of taxis and ride sharing opportunities, but be prepared for traffic.

Leave midtown and explore . Besides seeing Times Square and a Broadway show, there’s nothing to do there. Prices are higher than elsewhere in the city. If you need a meal in midtown, walk a few blocks east or west for a better and more affordable meal.

There are three international airports that service New York City: John F Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, and Newark Liberty International Airport. They each offer shuttle services, bus and ride shares to NYC. Newark offers a train to Penn station in downtown NY.

Nothing is quite as staggering as choosing a hotel in New York City. However, two great choices are  Hotel Kimpton Eventi  and  Knickerbocker Hotel . They are upscale, well located and good value for what they offer. They have easy access to popular subway lines.

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one of the best cities to visit in the usa

Cleveland, Mississippi

Cleveland, Mississippi is found right in the heart of the Delta, midway between Memphis and Vicksburg on historic Highway 61. They say this small place has big vibes. That’s a lot of praise in the Mississippi Delta, an area known for its legendary musical vibe. However, in Cleveland, the vibe isn’t just big, it’s one of a kind.

Cleveland is home to the  GRAMMY Museum®  Mississippi. This interactive experience celebrates music of all genres. It is 28,000-square-foot and includes multiple exhibits with films, memorabilia and more. Permanent and rotating exhibits cross all musical spectrums.

Cleveland’s music scene is notable. From the Deep Roots music spectacles to the Bologna Performing Arts Center, music and the arts are a central part of this small city making it one of the best American cities to travel to in the USA. 

Dockery Farms known as the “Birthplace of the Blues”, is a short drive away and a must-see for Blues enthusiasts. Art lovers will want to visit famed McCarty Ceramics in Merigold and Peter’s Pottery in Mound Bayou.

The heart of the city centers around the railroad. The popular Crosstie District in downtown is vibrant and welcoming. It is anchored by the Railroad Heritage Museum, home to an amazing “O” Gauge model train exhibit, which is one of the largest in the country.

Approximately 10,600.

Christmas here is especially charming. A Christmas tree with more than 100,000 lights presides over the town’s legendary  50 Nights of Lights  from mid-November until the beginning of January. More than 350 holiday displays, some as large as 65 feet, fill downtown. You can walk but it also drivable by car. 

Summer is best avoided as it is hot, often with 90% humidity.

Have a drink overlooking the colorful sparkle at  Bar Fontaine , its rooftop bar and restaurant at The Cotton House Hotel, and enjoy award-winning cuisine from James Beard Award nominated  Chef Cole Ellis .  

International travelers should fly into Cleveland via Memphis International Airport. It is about a 2 hour drive.

The  Lyric Hotel  brings Delta traditions and luxury together in Cleveland’s West End. The  Cotton House Cleveland  offers an impressive hotel experience like none other in the region. 

one of the best American cities to visit

San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio is one of the best US cities to visit for its rich colonial history and architecture.

One of the many highlights is The San Antonio River Walk which is made up of a network of paved paths and lush landscapes that gently wind through the city, offering views of the beautiful natural scenery and the city.

The path runs along the San Antonio River, which represents the heart and soul of the city, and gives access to several of San Antonio’s top attractions, restaurants, and other forms of entertainment.

Another is the  San Antonio’s five Spanish colonial missions which were designated a World Heritage site in 2015. (Only a handful of cultural properties in the United States are on UNESCO’s list.) You can visit one or all five of San Antonio’s well-preserved 18th century Franciscan missions. Four of them are still active and you can attend a service.

To get a feel for the multiple cultures that impact the culture of the city, take a food tour. The Moveable Feast Tour is a walking tour that takes you to the King William district to show you all of the early architectural influences. In addition, you tour the private portion of the riverwalk, rarely seen by tourists. 

Approximately 1.5 million

The best time to go is September – December, and March – June. This way you avoid the extreme temperatures and can enjoy the outdoors.

The best month to avoid is January as it can get very cold. 

Make sure you visit the San Fernando Cathedral laid in 1731. It is vastly different from the European Cathedrals and almost seems to spring up from the ground around it.

The best airports in which to fly would be Austin and drive 1 1/2 hours to San Antonio.

New Orleans, Louisiana

There is no other city like New Orleans in the United States. In certain parts, you feel like you have been dropped into a small European city . Its French-Creole culture is unique and the city is full of great cuisine, music, and architecture. It has something for everyone whether you are travelling with friends or family or hoping for a romantic getaway.

A visit to Nola wouldn’t be complete without spending at least one day and one night in the French Quarter. There are amazing restaurants, great shopping, and a lot of history in this beautiful part of New Orleans.

Make sure you go to Jackson Square, St. Louise Cathedral and of course, Bourbons Street to experience it all. At night, the streets come alive with party goers and music fills the street. At all times of the day, there are tons of exceptionally talented street performers around every corner.

You should also visit the  National WWII Museum . Even if you have no interest in World War II, this is an incredible museum. It is completely interactive as you explore America’s role in Asia and Europe during the war. Videos, lights, sounds, and visual imagery completely capture your attention.

For some fantastic day trips, take a swamp tour or explore Oak Alley Plantation . The swamp tour is a blast. You head out by boat onto the bayou and look for crocodiles, feral hogs and other wildlife.

Oak Alley Plantation is a more serious look at plantation life and includes many original buildings and furniture.

Fun Fact – In New Orleans, you can have your own parade, complete with police escort! You can hire the musicians directly, or a full-service company to handle of all the details. The police will even close the streets to traffic along your route.

For more unique New Orleans travel tips, please see 40 Best Travel Tips For First Time Visitors .

Fall is the best time to go when the temperatures are cooler or springtime for Jazz Fest .

It is best to avoid traveling to New Orleans in the summertime. It is quite hot and humid.

You may also want to avoid Mardi Gras which happens in February or March every year. Although it is a bucket list item for many people, the city becomes very busy and expensive.

Be aware that B&B’s require a minimum two-night stay. Consider the suburbs for more savings.

Skip the long line ups at Cafe Du Monde and instead head to  Cafe Beignet  to try one of these New Orleans treats. Beignets are a cross between a french pastry and a doughnut. They are served warm, a little soft and gooey and are absolutely delicious.

Fly into New Orleans International Airport (MSY) . It is only a 25 minute drive from the airport to the French Quarter.

Indianapolis, Indiana

Indy has undergone momentous growth in the past decade with more cool hotels, an incredible dining scene, and bike trail expansion.

As the home of the Cultural Trail , deemed by Project for Public Spaces as “the biggest and boldest step by any American city,” Indy is truly one of the best cities to visit in the United States from a bicycle seat.

Public art has been a huge focus for the city, including the new, massive Major Taylor mural downtown honoring the life of the country’s first Black sports super star and fastest bicycle rider.

As one of the most family-friendly destinations in the country, families can enjoy the world’s largest children’s museum, a Smithsonian-affiliated interactive history park , and 250-acres of urban green space with the Indian Central Canal flowing through it.

For those with a passion for cars and speed, go 185-mph+ in a real Indy Car on the most iconic racetrack in the world, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway .

Approximately 870,000.

Indy is best when it turns from summer to fall. You beat the humidity of the summer, but it’s not yet cold. Temperature is mild and you can start to see the foliage turning bright fall colors.

Unless you’re specifically coming to see the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” – the Indianapolis 500 – avoid dates in May as it is super busy with the 500 Festival . Room rates are on the higher side.

If you’re flying, no need to rent a car. The downtown is extremely walkable and transportation like the Red Line, ride shares, and bike rentals are readily available.

Fly into Indianapolis International Airport (ranked one of the world’s best). Downtown is only 18 miles away. However, Indianapolis is within a day’s drive to more than half of the United State’s population.

best us cities to visit

Tallahassee, Florida

Named as one of  Southern Living ’s top 10 cities in the South, Tallahassee’s charm and style is derived from the pretty and often unexpected features found in Florida’s Capital. 

Tallahassee is situated in one of the most biologically diverse regions in the U.S. It is home to more than 700 miles of biking, hiking, paddling, equestrian and running trails — aptly earning the nickname “ Trailahassee ”. For outdoor enthusiasts, it is an ideal escape.

There is zip-lining through canopied trees and over a cypress swamp at the Tallahassee Museum. In addition, there are wildlife encounters while cruising along Wakulla Springs – the world’s deepest freshwater springs.

Lastly, Tallahassee has a vibrant arts, culture and deep-rooted history. They are on display in its murals, museums and performing arts.

Approximately 191,000.

The best time to visit is in the fall or spring. That is when you can enjoy its trails full of Florida fauna.

Summer weather is usually long and hot, and best avoided.

Download the destination mobile  app  for iPhone and Android users, which will allow anyone to view and save listings of places to stay, events to attend, sites to visit and where to eat and drink. Users can make custom itineraries based on their own unique interests, which can be shared with others.

Tallahassee is a great drivable escape for a handful of major cities such as Orlando, Atlanta, Tampa, Jacksonville, Birmingham. However, for those travelers who prefer to fly, the Tallahassee International Airport is only 15 minutes away from downtown.

best US cities to visit

Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix is the fifth-largest city in the United States and its southwest inspired dining options, innovative cocktail experiences and awe-inspiring museums make it one of the best US cities to visit in the USA. 

It is home to one of a kind experiences like  Century Grand , a turn-of-the-century inspired, cocktail-centric, immersive hospitality venue. Guests journey into an extraordinary world when ‘The West’ was won. Enjoy a cocktail experience filled with intriguing characters and tales of adventure.

Travelers can also experience the vibrant history and culture of the Native American community in Phoenix at the internationally-acclaimed  Heard Museum . 

The Phoenix Art Museum is always a favorite amongst locals and visitors. The  Phoenix Art Museum  opened in 1959 and is now the largest art museum in the southwestern United States providing access to visual arts and educational programs in Arizona. The museum is located in the Roosevelt Arts District, which is known as a hub for arts and culture.

There is also great hiking in Phoenix .

Approximately 1.65 million.

The best time to visit Phoenix is in the fall when it is still warm enough to relax by the pool during the day, but the nights are cool enough to enjoy the gorgeous Phoenix sunsets from a patio or rooftop bar. 

Phoenix has sun and clear skies year round, but for those looking to spend time outside in the desert, it is best to avoid the hot summer months.

For the full art and culture experience of Phoenix, come on the first Friday of any month. 

Phoenix First Fridays  start at the Phoenix Art Museum and through a self-guided tour, visitors get to experience Roosevelt Row when it is most alive.

This monthly event also offers live street performers, access to local galleries and Phoenix’s unofficial “ Mural Alley ”, and a fantastic bar and restaurant scene.

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is centrally located and welcomes travelers to Phoenix.

The  Arizona Biltmore Resort, A Waldorf Astoria  is an iconic Phoenix destination filled with glamour and magic. This resort is an oasis with 39 acres of luscious gardens, glistening swimming pools and awe-inspiring architecture influenced by the famed Frank Lloyd Wright. 

best US cities to visit

Concord, New Hampshire

Concord, New Hampshire is one of the smaller cities that made the list for one of the best American cities to visit. Whether you come to be a part of its fantastic arts community, the local food movement, or the array of outdoor recreation sites, you’ll be sure to find plenty to do. With a wide range of events hosted all year round, Concord is a lively New England city full of fun-filled opportunities.

With tax-free shopping and plenty of parking, the downtown offers wonderful opportunities for shoppers. In between exploring consignment galleries, cafés and boutiques, you will often find street music – whether it is on the public piano tucked away off Main Street, or the saxophone player often found outside Candle Tree Soy Candles shop.

Beyond local cuisine, local artisans thrive in Concord. The League of NH Craftsman is found in town, and hosts Concord’s annual Capital Arts Fest. The Capitol Center For The Arts hosts performance arts, including music and comedy. With more causal music venues like Dos Hermanos Lounge & Tequila Bar, you will be going day and night.

There are many choices for outdoor recreation right in town. Whether you are looking for hiking trails, family friendly parks, or cross-country skiing, Concord has plenty to offer.

For groomed cross-country ski trails, visit Carter Hill Orchard. In the summertime, you can also pick your own apples.

Approximately 43,000.

In summer, you’ll find a fantastic Farmer’s Market throughout Saturday mornings, hosting vendors from all over the state. In addition, there are many welcoming patio spaces sprinkled about town.

Concord, New Hampshire is an ideal year round destination.

Concord is only 60 miles from The White Mountains , an outdoor enthusiasts dream. You can use it as a home base for day trips or a stopover on your way there.

Concord, New Hampshire is 80 miles or 1 1/2 drives from Boston Logan International Airport.

The 20 best cities to visit in America offer excitement, fun, good food, and plenty of culture. There is something for everyone. The only problem now is deciding where to go first!

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TravelWanderGrow

The 27 Best US Cities to Visit

best travel us cities

The US is full of a diverse set of people, cultures, and landscapes. For this reason, it is possible to experience so much variety when visiting cities across the country. There is so much variety, where do you even begin? I can help with that!

This post provides a list of the best US cities to visit, and key points that you should know about each. Each city is listed under its corresponding US region (east to west) and includes details on the city’s characteristics, popular attractions, and, of course, the best food to try.

Table of Contents

New England

New England is the easternmost northern region in the US. This region has been known as New England since John Smith (yes, that John) named it so in 1616. Many of the earliest settlers to this region came from eastern Europe, which has given this region a distinct accent, architecture, and cuisine.

1 | Boston, MA

Boston is the largest city in New England, and one of the oldest in the US. Given the age of the city, it has a lot of really cool older buildings from the 17th century and onward and some cobblestone streets to match. Many of the literary greats that you learned about in school lived in or around the city, giving the nickname as the “intellectual capital of the United States”. There is also a great emphasis on the arts and music throughout the city as well.

Popular Attractions:

  • The Freedom Trail : Walking this trail will allow you to retrace the steps the US founding fathers took when starting the American Revolutionary War.
  • The New England Aquarium : Visit this aquarium to see over 800 different marine animals, including seals, penguins, and sharks.
  • Cambridge, Concord, and Lexington : Venture right outside the city to see famous sites from the Revolutionary War and the homes of famous literary greats, like Louisa May Alcott.

What to Eat:

Boston is known for having wonderful seafood, baked beans, and the wonderful Boston cream pie! There are also a lot of great vegan restaurants for those of your veggies out there.

A few restaurants to try include:

  • The Warren Tavern – Eat all the classic Bostonian foods at this eatery.
  • Panza : Italian food from the North End area, which is similar to Little Italy in NYC.

Boston city skyline

2 | Portland, Maine

One of the most underrated cities in the Northeast is Portland , Maine. With so many opportunities to explore the stunning coastline and incredible culinary scene, it has everything else you’d expect in an exciting city like museums, history and culture. 

Getting out onto the water is easy in Portland, and this is also one of the best ways to see the city from a unique perspective. There are lots of options for boat tours along Casco Bay that also give you a glimpse of Maine’s famous coastline. From cruises on tall ships to lobster boat tours, there’s a little something for everyone. 

Popular Attractions & Tours:

  • Old Port : To get a sense of the history of the city, one of the best neighborhoods to stroll through is Old Port. Sitting along the waterfront, you’ll find cobblestone streets, historic buildings and unique boutiques in this area. 
  • While in the area, consider the Old Port Culinary Walking Tour. This will help you explore the best local restaurants serving traditional fare.
  • Visit a Lighthouse : Portland is also home to one of Maine’s most iconic attractions, Portland Head Lighthouse . Located in South Portland, this is one of the best spots to take in the dramatic coastline views that the state is known for, without having to leave the city! Also nearby are two smaller, but equally as cool, lighthouses: Spring Point Ledge Light and Bug Light.

Portland Head Lighthouse

What to Eat: 

Portland is also regarded as one of the top foodie cities in the country, so during your visit, you’ll want to consider taking an expert-guided food tour to find all the best things to eat. Whether it’s a donut tour or lobster roll tour, this is the perfect way to get acquainted with the cuisine in the city.

  • Duckfat : This sandwich shop is best known for frying french fries in duck fat, and has received quite the reputation for delicious fries. In addition you find plenty of paninis, milkshakes, and salads to make a full and delicious meal. 
  • Chaval : This is a brasserie (informal French restaurant) that offers not only French but Spanish-inspired seasonal food. What’s cool about this restaurant is that the menu changes daily – you never know quite what you’ll get! 
  • Not only is the food scene here world-class, it’s also home to the most breweries per capita than any other city in the Northeast. So if you love to sample local brews, you won’t run out of options in Portland. A few of the best ones to consider are Bissel Brothers , Goodfire and Rising Tide . 

Mid-Atlantic

This region sits below New England, and above the southern US states. It is characterized by large urbanized areas, prestigious universities, and for being the most-affluent region of the country. There are 30 professional sport franchises in this region, and a wide variety of cultures and accents can be found throughout the states in this region.

3 | New York, NY

NYC has an energy that you can’t find anywhere else in the world. There is reason why its been called the “city that never sleeps” – you can find something to do at any time of the day, 24/7 and the pace never slows. It is the most populous city in the US, and likely the most diverse ethnically as well. The city has been denoted by some as the cultural capital of the world due to the emphasis you’ll find on the performing arts, music, cuisine.

While you are here, don’t just get stuck in Times Square. See world-famous skyscrapers, try the best pizza you’ll eat anywhere in the country, and get some quiet time in Central Park all in a matter of minutes while you are here. 

Brooklyn brownstones

  • New York One World Observatory : Visit the new World Trade Center building for sweeping view of the city, and visit the nearby memorial to 911.
  • The Statue of Liberty : This icon of America is rightfully one of the city’s most popular destinations. Visit the close by Ellis Island on the same ticket to get a better understanding of the life and experiences of early immigrants to the city.
  • The Met : See why the Metropolitan Museum of Art is world renowned for its fabulous art collection
  • Lombardi’s : AKA America’s first pizzeria has great pizza pies – simple, yet delicious
  • Molly’s Cupcakes : So not exactly a restaurant, per se, but this place as wonderful cupcakes. I try to stop here every time I come to the city.

4 | Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia has held on to a lot of its colonial charm, giving it a feel more similar to New England than others in the Mid-Atlantic. This city is full of history, as are many of the others listed here, mostly due to its role as the original capital of the US and the site where the Declaration of Independence was signed. The city has 67 historic landmarks, and 1 UNESCO World Heritage site, just for reference. The city is also home to the iconic steps from Rocky , which you can run up and down too, if so desired.

Rocky statue in Philadelphia

  • Founding Fathers Historical Walking Tour : See sites such as the Independence Mall, Ben Franklin’s home, the first home of the US Presidents, and more!
  • Eastern State Penitentiary : Tour what was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world.
  • Segway Mural Tour : If street art interests you, take this tour to see all of the cities best-known murals. They can be found everywhere and are really quite something to see!

Where to Eat:

  • Joe’s Steaks: Stop here to get the famous Philly Cheesesteak – No trip to Philly is complete without at least one!
  • Beiler’s Doughnuts : So, I’m not a huge doughnut person, but these are everything! Dense and cakey with a variety of toppings – these are just perfect.

5 | Washington, DC

Washington, DC is the city that I call home, and I love it here! Despite being best known for its political scene, the city is (thankfully) so much more than that. Full of great (and free!) museums, parks, and restaurants, this city is one full of heart. Although it is a big(ish) city, the low skyline keeps it having a smaller town feel than NYC or Boston, for example.

The city is home to a diverse population, like many urban areas on the east coast. Unlike many of the other cities, however, there really is no distinct accent here or specific food identified with the city. It’s really just a wonderful mix of everything :).

You could go the political route and focus on seeing sites like the White House and Congress, or get lost in the many free Smithsonian museums found along the National Mall.

The MLK Monument

  • Mt. Vernon : Head right outside the city to see George Washington’s estate and learn a lot about the lives of the slaves who kept it running.
  • DC Night Monuments Tour : I think that seeing the monuments at night is really the best way to do it (don’t worry, they are all well lit :)).
  • Capitol Hill Walking Tour : Really the best way to see the major sites and understand the history if you’re interested in learning about politics in the city, past and present.
  • Léziz Cafe & Restaurant : Get great Turkish/Mediterranean food here – tapas style!
  • Lincoln : If you’re looking for American, stop here for American-style tapas.
  • Georgetown Cupcakes : I mean, if you don’t stop here, did you even visit DC ?

The Midwest is known as “America’s Heartland”, as it is responsible for the majority of the country’s manufacturing and farming sectors. It is known for friendly locals, low-cost real estate, and a low-stress lifestyle (in general). The states covered in this region go as far north as North Dakota / Minnesota and as far south as Kansas and Missouri. This means the temperatures you’ll find here will vary widely. But some of the most brutal winters in the states happen in the more northern states in this region.

6 | Chicago, IL

Chicago is a beautiful city, which has a distinct look due to it positioning by Lake Michigan and around the Chicago River. Chicago is known for its massive skyscrapers, brutal windchill in winter, and deep dish pizzas. Chicago is a hugely popular tourist destination, and is the second most visited city in the US, after New York.

Woman at Willis Tower

  • Willis Tower : Visit what was once known as the Sears Tower, and the tallest building in the world for 25 years. Here you can stand on “The Ledge” and look down 100 stories at the streets beneath your feet.
  • Night River Cruise : Marvel at the architecture that has made the city famous while you travel through downtown on an evening river cruise.
  • Gangsters and Ghosts Walking Tour : Walk the Chicago Loop and learn the fascinating history of the gangsters who once ran the streets of the city and those who may now haunt the city too. (Nothing like a good ghost tour, right?)
  • Bartoli’s Pizza : Stop here to grab a bite of that deep dish pizza the city is so well-known. Unless you are a big eater, I recommend sharing these. These pizza’s are delicious, but that deep dish is DEEP. 
  • Lula Cafe : For locally-grown food cooked in an artisenal style, stop at this cafe. This restaurant features a vegetarian and vegan options too.

The definition of the south varies according to who you talk to, but for the intents of this post, we’ll say it starts as high up as Virginia and goes from the east coast to as far west as Mississippi. This area is characterized by its slow pace of life, sprawling cities, southern charm, and delicious fatty foods.

7 | Savannah, Georgia

If you’re looking for the perfect mix of a quaint city, historic sites, beautiful nature, and a quick drive to the beach, Savannah, Georgia is the place for you. Whether you’re visiting Savannah with kids , adults, or even by yourself, this city has something for everyone to enjoy.

When visiting Savannah, spend time exploring the city and enjoying each unique square along the way. Marvel at the beauty of the huge oak trees at Forsyth Park and walk along the historic River Street. To learn more about the city’s history, take a riverboat and trolley tour.  

Once you’re done checking out the historic downtown area, take a short drive to Tybee Island. Here, you’ll be able to take a break from the city and relax on the beach.

  • Savannah Riverboat Cruise & City Tour: This tour includes a guided walkthrough of the city via trolley and then a cruise down the Savannah River. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the history and culture of the city.
  • Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters : This historic home provides a pointed look at the life of the slaves and the proprietors who lived here in the early 1800s. 
  • When you’re ready for a bite to eat, grab lunch at Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room . But make sure to arrive early, as reservations cannot be made, and a line will start to form even before the restaurant opens for the day. Make friends with your neighbors while waiting in line because that’s who you’ll be sitting with at this family-style restaurant.
  • For a sweet treat, stop by Leopold’s for homemade ice cream. This ice cream shop has been around since 1919 and is a staple in the heart of Savannah.

8 | Orlando, FL

Orlando, known as “The City Beautiful”, is probably best known as pretty much the mecca for theme parks in the United States. With its very mild winters, it is great for a visit any time of the year. In addition to theme parks, you’ll find good outlet shopping and industrial and hi-tech centers.

best travel us cities

  • Kennedy Space Center : Learn about the history of the space program and what its like to be a real astronaut at KSC.
  • Walt Disney World : Visit the most visited them parks in the world! The parks include the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. (There are 2 water parks too!)
  • Universal Orlando : Ride the movies at Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and Universal Bay.
  • Rainforest Cafe : One of my favorite themed restaurants the rainforest has pretty decent food and provides a unique experience to those who dine there. There is one in the Disney Springs area in Orlando.
  • Tony’s Town Square Restaurant : Based on the classic movie “Lady and the Tramp”, this Italian spot is one of my favorite restaurants in Disney World. You’ll find this one right off of Main Street in the Magic Kingdom.

9 | Miami, FL

When you think of Miami, you likely think of hot weather, white sand, clear waters, parties, and latin-infused culture. Miami offers all of this, plus great food and beautiful views. Miami has the third tallest skyline in the US, and is a major center for finance, culture, commerce, and media/entertainment.

The Viscaya mansion in Miami

  • South Beach Food Tour : This tour provides a history of the city and takes you to check out the hottest Cuban, artisanal Peruvian, Italian and Jewish comfort foods.
  • Half-Day Double Decker Bus and Boat Tour of Miami : Hit all of the city’s major neighborhoods, such as South Beach, Downtown Miami, and Little Havana. Transition then to a boat tour through the lovely Biscayne Bay.
  • Everglades National Park Airboat Tour and Wildlife Show : If exploring nature interests you, you can spend some time in the everglades seeing the alligator and other wildlife native to the area.
  • Versailles : So much of the culture in Miami is influenced by the Cubans who made this city their home. It’s only appropriate that you try at least Cuban while you’re in town, and Versailles is one of the best.
  • My Cupcake World : If you have a sweet tooth, check out this place for some absolutely delicious cupcakes!

10 | Punta Gorda, Florida

Florida’s Gulf Coast is home to America’s best beaches so it makes perfect sense that we would include Punta Gorda on this list of the best US cities to visit. Why Punta Gorda, you may ask? Because it has it all and without the crowds that you’ll find at more popular tourist destinations in the sunshine state.

One of the best spots to play, stay and eat is located along the beautiful Charlotte Harbor. The idyllic Four Points by Sheraton Harborside is a centrally-located place to stay. After you check in, head over to the on-site restaurant. At TT’s Tiki Bar, you’ll witness stunning sunsets over the water while sipping mouth-watering cocktails accompanied by top-notch cuisine. If you’re traveling with athletic types or children, they can jump in on a game of beach volleyball while you relax in one of their colorful Adirondack chairs. 

best travel us cities

Punta Gorda offers more than beaches and margaritas so get ready to explore. Both the downtown Farmer’s Market and Fishermen’s Village are ideal places to shop for unique souvenirs. When you’re done shopping, hop on a sunset cruise to explore the Harbor by boat. Post-cruise, enjoy dinner at The Captain’s Table. Their Lobster Ravioli is truly decadent and a great way to end a day of sightseeing. 

Once you’re finished with your adventuring for the day, head back to TT’s Tiki Bar to enjoy Punta Gorda’s best lineup of live entertainment. There’s no need to worry about who is driving when you can sip your margarita mere steps from your hotel room. 

  • Another great spot to explore is the Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens , one of the largest botanical and sculpture gardens in the State of Florida. If you’re lucky, you might get to see a butterfly release ceremony. It’s a truly memorable experience! Follow up your tour with a visit to Alligator Bay Distillery for a rum tasting with a Hawaiian twist.
  • Punta Gorda History Par k: This park features four local historic homes, three of which are open to the public. You’ll also find a weekly Farmer’s Market here on Sundays as well. 

In addition to the recommendations above, here are some additional restaurants you may consider visiting:

  • Village Fish Market & Restaurant : A riverfront restaurant offering New England style seafood (and great views!)
  • Carmelo’s Italian Ristorante : Situated in a building that looks like home, this restaurant offers a variety of Tuscan-style fare. 

11 | New Orleans, LA

New Orleans is a great place to experience a very different culture than the rest of the US – its actually pretty similar to Miami in this aspect. You can really feel how this city was impacted by its French and Spanish settlers, and the African slaves who were able to keep more of their culture than others due to different slave laws there. Most iconic and historic is the French Quarter with its beautiful balconies and colorful buildings, and all the wonderful food!

  • French Quarter, Cemetery, and Voodoo Tour : Explore the most popular neighborhood in New Orleans, and the neighboring Tremé, and learn all about the history of the city and voodoo culture.
  • Ghost Tour : If you like being spooked, explore the city at night and learn all about the haunts that supposedly still roam the streets and buildings today.
  • Whitney Plantation Tour : Learn what life was really like for the slaves that lived in Louisiana back in the day.

Where to Eat :

  • Muriel’s Jackson Square : For an upscale dining experience you can make a reservation here to try classic New Orleans style food with a bit of a French influence.
  • Cafe Du Monde : Get those world-famous biengets here – they never disappoint!

New Orleans shotgun style home.

12 | Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston is probably best known for the colorful colonial architecture found in Rainbow Row. These cities once formed the commercial center of the colonial period – something that has been revived in recent years. What I found quite interesting about this city is that it was once a major slave port for the country. In fact, it is known as the Ellis Island for Black Americans as 80 percent of those in the US can trace an ancestor who arrived through this part. Both an interesting and sad fact about this town. 

Charleston, SC

Popular Attractions and Tours:

  • Charleston Historical Downtown Tour : See the most popular places in the city, such as Charleston Harbor, Rainbow Row, King Street, and Charleston Battery. All while riding in a traditional horse-drawn carriage. 
  • Aiken Rhett House : This house provides a very poignant look at the lives of slaves in the US. The former owner of this house was quite wealthy, so you just imagine how many lived here back in the day. I really enjoyed the tour here and felt that it was very informative.

Where to Eat: 

  • Sushi-Wa : A high-end sushi spot that offers creative takes on some classic sushi dishes. Definitely reserve in advance if you plan to eat here as it is very popular. 
  • Wild Olive : This restaurant offers many Italian classics, and a very robust menu. You are certain to find something that you like here – even if you are a picky eater. 

The Southwest

The southwest is characterized as having influences from both the southern states and the frontier west, and many states in this region have a relatively significant native American influence as well.

13 | Austin, Texas

Austin, the capital of Texas, is known for its vibrant music and arts scene, as well as its laid-back atmosphere and outdoor recreational opportunities. The city’s motto is “Keep Austin Weird,” which reflects its diverse and eccentric culture.

One of the main draws to Austin is its live music scene. The city is home to a number of music festivals, including South by Southwest (SXSW) and Austin City Limits, and there are numerous live music venues scattered throughout the city. Austin is also home to a thriving food scene, with a range of cuisines available. Some popular restaurants in the city include Franklin Barbecue, a renowned barbecue joint, and Uchi, a sushi restaurant.

  • There are a number of tours available in Austin, including food tours , brewery tours , and guided tours of the city’s street art and murals . 
  • Another popular activity is a tour of the Texas State Capitol Building , which offers a glimpse into the history and politics of the state.
  • For outdoor enthusiasts, Austin offers a number of recreational opportunities, including hiking and biking trails at the Barton Creek Greenbelt and Lady Bird Lake , and swimming and stand-up paddle-boarding at Barton Springs Pool .

Austin, Texas

In addition to the restaurants listed above, here are some good dining options to explore: 

  • Con Todo : This food truck offers real Mexican tacos that come “con todo” or everything – that is cilantro, onions, and salsa. It won best food truck of the year in 2022.
  • Bufalina Due : This pizza joint offers delicious Neapolitan-style pies with recommendations on thoughtful wine pairings. 

Overall, Austin is a lively and eclectic city with a lot to offer visitors, including live music, delicious food, and ample opportunities for outdoor recreation. Visit Guide Your Travel for more travel guides. 

14 | Dallas, TX

Dallas is known for being the center of the art scene for northern Texas. There are many art museums around the city, including the Dallas Museum of Art and Nasher Sculpture city. It is also known for its wide variety of high-quality restaurants. Dallas residents eat out 4 times a week on average, which is only less than Houston and Austin within the state.

Dallas city skyline

  • Dallas Uptown Foodie Walk : Explore the uptown neighborhood of West Village and learn about the some of the city’s history while you eat delicious food from around the world.
  • Dallas and JFK Limousine Tour : Visit the city’s key monuments and landmarks and then learn all about the circumstances and places involved in JFK’s assassination.
  • Dallas CityPASS : Get a discounted ticket for entry to many of Dallas’s top attractions, including the Perot Museum of Nature and Science and the Dallas Zoo.
  • Velvet Tacos : This place has the best tacos you will ever eat. Period. Get tacos inspired by a variety of cuisine, like Nashville hot chicken, tikka masala, and more. I make a point to always stop here whenever I’m in the city.
  • Gabriella and Sofia’s Tex Mex : You can’t stop in Texas without tex-mex, and this place is legit.

15 | Houston, TX

Despite being part of the southwest, Houston features one of the most diverse city populations in the country – there are over 90 different languages spoken here! Houston has a lively music culture and a thriving theater scene. Houston is a huge city, both in size and population and spread. The sprawl is real here! In fact, the land area for greater Houston is similar to that of the STATE of Massachusetts!

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  • NASA Space Center Visit : Visit the Johnson Space Center and participate in a guided tram tour around the site. Experience the many interactive exhibits that could be enjoyed by kids and adults alike.
  • Houston City Tour (w/ Aquarium) : Explore the city of Houston by bus and stop at as many of the landmarks as you’d like. Get access to the city’s aquarium as well.
  • Houston City PASS : Save 47% on the city’s top attractions, including the Museum of Natural Science, the Houston Zoo, and the Kemah Boardwalk.
  • El Real Tex-Mex Cafe : Like Dallas, this city is well-known for its tex mex – this spot is one of the best in the city!
  • Gatlin’s BBQ : The city is also very popular for its BBQ, so be sure to check out a place like Gatlin’s before you wrap up your visit!

16 | San Antonio, Texas

The home of the famous Alamo and the River Walk, San Antonio is a historic city nestled in south-central Texas. With a population of over 1.4 million, San Antonio is the seventh-largest city in the United States, but it still maintains a small-town Southern charm.

San Antonio is filled with unique places to explore that allow you to delve further into its colonial, Mexican and western history. A trip to San Antonio isn’t complete without a visit to the Alamo. Located in the heart of downtown, this former Spanish mission and fort was the site of an 1836 battle for Texas independence and is now home to a memorial museum.

San Antonio

Visit River City for fantastic parks and outdoor recreational sites for all ages. Take a romantic stroll along the iconic River Walk, lined with bars, restaurants, and shops, and enjoy some of the best Tex-Mex cuisine in the city.

If you’re looking to take in the city’s rich cultural history, spring and fall are the best times to visit San Antonio. The weather is mild, and several special events throughout the year, such as the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo and the Fiesta San Antonio. Although much more crowded, summer is a great time to visit, with plenty of opportunities for swimming and other outdoor activities.

  • City Sightseeing San Antonio offers scenic San Antonio River Walk boat tours with knowledgeable narrations during which you can learn more about the city’s history and fun facts. During holidays such as Christmas, carolers also fill the air with cheerful songs to give you a truly magical experience!
  • San Antonio UNESCO World Heritage Missions Tour: Embark on a journey back in time, experiencing the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, home to five 18th-century Spanish colonial missions. Wander along Mission Trail and uncover America’s captivating history.Visit places such as Mission San José, San Francisco de Espada, and the Mission Riverwalk Hike and Bike Trail. 

Where to Eat:  

  • Domingo Restaurante : This cool open-air restaurant offers impressive views of the city below. The restaurant strives to “offer the flavors of South Texas”, so expect to try modern takes on classics from the area here. 
  • Brasao Brazilian Steakhouse : If you haven’t visited a Brazilian steakhouse before, you are in for a treat. Expect a wide variety of meat cuts cooked to perfection alongside delicious sides. 

17 | Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe, New Mexico is one of the best cities to visit in the US for history buffs, art lovers, foodies, margarita drinkers, chocoholics, and anyone who enjoys the sunshine.

As the oldest capital city in America, Santa Fe boasts many historical sites. The Santa Fe Plaza, a National Landmark, dates back to the 1600’s. The Palace of the Governors borders the plaza and is the oldest building in continuous use in the US. A few blocks away you’ll find the oldest church in the US, San Miguel Chapel, and a little further, the oldest house in New Mexico which is now a museum.

Santa Fe New Mexico

The historic plaza with its adobe architecture stands at the heart of Santa Fe. Southwest boutiques, art galleries, and eateries surround the grassy square at the center. The Georgia O’Keefe Museum, the New Mexico Museum of Art, and the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture all are worth a stop. 

Stay at La Fonda on the Plaza and you’ll enjoy being able to walk to most of Santa Fe’s best sights and restaurants. The hotel’s restaurant, La Plazuela offers a delightful mix of local flavors in traditional and inventive dishes.

  • Sante Fe Architectural Walking Tour & Wine Tasting : Learn about the traditional New Mexican Pueblo, Spanish Territorial, and Northern New Mexico building styles that are featured throughout the city and close out the day with a tasting at the Gruet Tasting Room.
  • Historic Downtown Self Guided Audio Walking Tour : Get to know more about the city’s history at your own pace and on your own device with this virtual tour option. 
  • Some of the best restaurants in Santa Fe are located on the plaza too. Many, like Tia Sophia’s and The Shed, serve delicious New Mexican food specialties. Don’t miss the sopaipillas! 
  • Santa Fe is the self-proclaimed Margarita Capital of the World so you know what to drink with your dinner or follow the city’s Margarita Trail to sample more. There’s also a trail for decadent chocolates made with local ingredients like chiles and prickly pear.

The Rocky Mountain Region

This region includes those states surrounding the great mountain region, towards the west of the US and north of the south western states. In terms of ethnicity, this region of the US is probably the least diverse, but that is slowly changing in cities like Denver, for example.

18 | Boulder, Colorado

Boulder, Colorado is home to the Flatiron mountains, eccentric locals, and Pearl Street, a walking mall full of varied shops. Located just an hour’s drive from Rocky Mountain National Park, you can visit the park while staying in Boulder. If you stay in a hotel near Pearl Street , you’ll be right in the center of the action for nightlife and the best restaurants.

During the warmer months you can explore the foothills, with hikes only a mile or so from the center of town. Winter is also a prime time to visit Boulder, where you can snowshoe in Rocky Mountain National Park or downhill ski at Eldora. Outdoor activities are also popular during the shoulder seasons, but prepare for muddy trails if you choose to hike near Boulder in March and April.  

best travel us cities

  • If you visit during the summer, spend some time relaxing at Boulder Creek , the small river that runs through Boulder. You can purchase an inner tube and float down the river on a hot day, so long as the water isn’t running too quickly.
  • Every Saturday is the Boulder Farmers Market , a lively affair with stalls from local farms, restaurants, and other vendors. 
  • Cycling enthusiasts may consider joining a tour with Boulder Bike Tours . They offer both a road cycling tour and a mountain biking tour for more serious visitors. Additionally, there is an e-bike tour that covers most of the city’s main areas of interest.
  • Have brunch at Lucile’s Creole Cafe , a local haunt with freshly baked southern biscuits, homemade strawberry rhubarb jam, and chicory coffee. 
  • For dinner, have a burger and a beer from Mountain Sun , a locally beloved brewery and restaurant. 
  • Afterwards, head to Peace, Love and Chocolate for handmade truffles in vibrant and unique flavors. 

19 | Denver, CO

Denver is the largest city in Colorado, and is noted for the beautiful mountains that surround the city. Denver has an active music scene and is known for being a very active/outdoorsy city. Denver has 300 days of sunshine a year, making it a great destination to visit all year.

Denver city skyline

  • Denver Like a Local : Get a private walking tour with a local guide who loves the city and hit up the spots that YOU want to see while you travel.
  • Rocky Mountain Explorer Trip from Denver : Head out the city to explore the mountains, including sites such as Bear Canyon Creek and Red Rocks Amphitheater – maybe find some dinosaur tracks along the way too!
  • Denver Mile High Culture Pass : Get access to the city’s best attractions for a low price. Visit sites such as the Denver Art Museum, the History Colorado Center, and the Molly Brown House Museum.
  • Spuntino : For Italian-inspired fare, stop here to be treated to a wonderful dinner.
  • Rioja : Grab dinner here for fresh, Mediterrean-inspired cuisine.

20 | Boise, Idaho

Known as the “City of Trees”, Boise is a vibrant urban oasis surrounded by mountains and outdoor recreation. It’s home to endless opportunities for adventure, from whitewater rafting on the Payette River to skiing in Bogus Basin.

Boise is a great spot for outdoor enthusiasts, with plenty of options for biking, hiking and camping. The city also has its own unique character, with an array of museums, art galleries, and cultural events to explore. Choosing the best places to stay in Boise Idaho is easy, with a variety of options from luxury resorts to budget-friendly motels.

Boise, Idaho

When it comes to leisure vacations, Boise offers the best of both worlds – a bustling urban center coupled with easy access to nature. The city is packed with delicious restaurants and eateries, from farm-to-table cuisine to local craft breweries. For a unique culinary experience, visit the Boise Farmers Market for fresh produce and artisanal goods. There are several great restaurants and cafes downtown, so finding a spot for breakfast or lunch is easy.

  • If you’re seeking an outdoor adventure, consider signing up for a Boise River Tour . The tour will take you downtown and along the river, giving you a unique perspective on the city’s history and culture. 
  • For a more leisurely day, take a stroll along the Boise Greenbelt for breathtaking views of the city skyline and surrounding foothills.
  • Modern Hotel and Bar : A popular option for modern dining in Boise, this restaurant offers a variety of American fare, with a menu that is constantly updated.
  • Kibrom’s Ethiopian & Eritrean Food : Ethiopian food is known for being wonderfully spiced and having options that cater to vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. 

The American West

The Western Region of the United States includes those states furthest west in the country. For the intents of this post, this covers the following states: California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona. It is noted for the Pacific Mountains that run through the area and a generally more relaxed vibe than the eastern US states.

21 | Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles brings to mind visions of the beach, celebrities, and probably a theme park or two. LA is the second largest city the US after NYC, but unfortunately it does not have the public transit system that NYC does. So traffic is a given. Don’t let that deter your visit though! LA offers a little bit of everything for those who choose to make a stop here for vacation.

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  • Disneyland : Now including the California Adventure park and Downtown Disney, it is worth making a stop here if you have kids or are just a big kid at heart (like me :)).
  • Universal Studios Hollywood : This park is special because it comes with a tour of many famous movie and TV sets, such as Psycho, Desperate Housewives, and King Kong.
  • Hollywood and Celebrity Homes Tour : See classic Hollywood sites like the Chinese Theater and hunt down the homes of your favorite stars from an open-top vehicle.
  • The Rose Venice : Get local Southern California cuisine with an international influence.
  • Mizlala : This restaurant features affordable, Middle Eastern small plates and flavors you won’t be able to get enough of.

For more ideas on what to do in Los Angeles, check out this 5-Day LA Itinerary !

22 | Monterey, California

One of the best cities in the United States to visit is Monterey, located on the coast of central California. Monterey offers small-town vibes with beautiful sunsets and stunning views.

When visiting Monterey, you can explore the famous Cannery Row area which is home to cute local boutique shops and the world-renown Monterey Bay Aquarium, which houses thousands of marine species in its vast exhibits.

Besides this oceanfront area, Fisherman’s Wharf is also a popular tourist spot. Here, you can take a whale-watching tour or explore the many seafood restaurants and shops that line the wharf. Ablonetti’s Bar and Grill is an Italian seafood restaurant that serves some of the best gnocchi and clam chowder.

McWay Falls

The county of Monterey is also home to a variety of parks and recreational areas located a short drive away in Big Sur . Whether it’s visiting Point Lobos State Reserve for a hike, picnicking at Pfeiffer Beach, or stopping at the photographic Bixby Bridge, you’ll find no end of nature scenes to explore.

Monterey also hosts a variety of events throughout the year, such as the Big Sur International Marathon, Monterey Jazz Festival, and the Carmel Art & Film Festival. There’s always something happening in this amazing California city that you won’t want to miss.

With its beautiful scenery, incredible food, and entertaining events, Monterey is a fabulous city to visit in the United States. Make sure to add Monterey to your travel bucket list to experience all that this vibrant coastal community has to offer!

  • Monterey Bay Whale Watching Tou r : Observe whales in one of the best places in the world to see whales daily. 
  • Big Sur Sightseeing Tour : Explore sites such as the Big Sur State Park, Big Sur Coast, and more on this trip through the area’s natural beauty.

In addition to the restaurants listed above, you may want to try out the following options:

  • Estéban Restaurant : This Spanish-style restaurant infuses Spanish fare with local food in the Northern Californian coast. 
  • Alvarado Street Brewery & Gril l: This brewery and grill that features delicious food options such as Quesabirria Tacos, Mac & Cheese, and Creamy Tomato Soup. 

23 | San Diego, California

San Diego is the perfect getaway for anyone looking for a sunny vacation. This Southern California city offers year-round beautiful weather, incredible coastline views and sunsets, and some of the most beautiful beaches in the US. 

There are plenty of outdoor activities to take advantage of such as biking, hiking, kayaking, or surfing – all surrounded by the stunning beauty of nature. From the illustrious Mt. Soledad memorial atop a hill to Coronado Island, and from Point Loma to so many other breathtaking places, you’ll find something new and exciting at every turn when visiting San Diego. 

Taking a guided tour of the city is highly recommended to ensure visitors don’t miss hidden gems and learn about the fascinating history behind these places.

  • One popular tour includes kayaking in the La Jolla Sea Caves to enjoy the coastal scenery up close, along with the chance to admire the local marine wildlife.
  • Another unforgettable tour is the San Diego Scenic Tour , where visitors will be able to cross off several San Diego bucket list items while immersing themselves in the city’s history.

Pacific Ocean San Diego

San Diego is also a foodie paradise, offering an exotic blend of culinary treats from around the world. Here you can experience mouthwatering Mexican food as well as exceptional seafood and pizza dishes.

  • Some of the more popular restaurants include George’s at the Cove in La Jolla for prime oceanfront dining and incredible seafood.
  • Another option is Tribute Pizza in the North Park neighborhood with fresh ingredients and creative pizza specials.

San Diego is a city like no other, and one of the best cities to visit in the US.

24 | San Francisco, CA

San Francisco is probably now best known for its proximity to Silicon Valley and the boom that has had on the tech industry there, and the resulting increases in the area’s cost of living. San Francisco does feature some of the weirdest weather in the US, with its cool summers and hot fall, but it is a really interesting place to visit.

  • Half-Day Golden Gate Catamaran Cruise and Alcatraz Visit : Visit the notorious Alcatraz prison, once home to Al Capone and sail by the city for impressive views of the skyline.
  • Chinatown Culinary Walking Tour : Explore the largest Chinatown outside of Asia to sample foods and learn the cooking methods used for generations.
  • Go San Francisco Explorere Pass : You can choose from a variety of attractions, such as Madame Tussauds, the Asian Art Museum, and the Aquarium of the Bay and visit them all for a low price!
  • Beretta : Eat delicious contemporary Italian food at this cute and cozy restaurant.
  • Nojo Ramen Tavern : No trip to SF is complete without a ramen stop, and I loved this one!

The Golden Gate bridge

25 | St. Helena, California

St. Helena, California is one of the beautiful towns that make up America’s premier wine region, Napa Valley. Located in the northern part of the valley, St. Helena is best known as being home to some of the best wineries in Napa Valley. The city has over 150 wineries to choose from with some fan favorites including Spring Mountain Vineyards, Hall Winey, and Pride Mountain Vineyards. 

This quaint town boasts a variety of lovely boutiques and specialty shops. From clothing stores to art galleries to antiques, St. Helena has something for everyone. Plus, many of the shops are located along the town’s historic Main Street, making it a great place to take a leisurely stroll and take in the sights.

St. Helena, Napa Valley

St. Helena’s location just 18 miles from the town of Napa at the south end of Napa Valley and eight miles from Calistoga and the north end of the valley makes it a great location for a home base when planning a wine tasting visit to the Napa Valley. 

  • Napa Valley: Wine Tasting Tour by Open Air Trolley & Lunch : From St. Helena, visit three wineries to taste and learn more about the wines in the regions, as well as a stop for lunch. 

While wine may be the focus for many visitors to St Helena, the area also has plenty of great food for visitors to choose from. 

  • Stop by Gotts Roadside for a low key roadside diner vibe and one of the best burgers you’ll ever taste. 
  • Looking for something a little more upscale? Check out the Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch . This elegant eatery serves up delicious, locally-sourced dishes in a stunningly beautiful setting. They also offer an extensive wine list featuring some of the best wines from the region

26 | Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas is truly one of the best cities to visit in the US and should be on everyone’s bucket list to visit at least once! Whether it’s the sun, entertainment, live shows, partying and gambling or even incredible day trips to nearby National Parks, you’ll find what you’re looking for here!

Las Vegas makes a great holiday destination year-round. It offers warm winters for those looking to escape the cold and explore the outdoors, and it has hot summers – where most people like to take advantage of the indoor and pool entertainment on offer!

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Las Vegas is internationally known for its nightlife, hotels and casinos on the Las Vegas Strip and that’s what primarily draws people here, but this city offers so much more! Even if you aren’t into gambling or partying, Las Vegas has a lot to offer. 

  • Visit the High Roller Observation Wheel , visit Madame Tussauds , visit the iconic Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas sign, or go on a gondola ride at The Venetian – the choice is yours!
  • Alternatively, head into Downtown to visit one of the many fascinating museums: the Mob Museum , the Neon Museum , the Children’s Museum or the Las Vegas National History Museum . You can even visit the L as Vegas Arts District : home to many boutique stores and art galleries. 
  • And whilst you’re in Las Vegas you must go on some tours – there are lots of incredible places nearby! Check out a helicopter tour of West Rim Grand Canyo n, visit The Hoover Dam , go on a tour of Red Rock Canyon , or do a day-trip to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon .
  • The Top Of The World Restaurant at STRAT Tower makes for a great place to have dinner with a view overlooking the iconic Las Vegas Strip!
  • Vanderpump Paris : This French restaurant inside the Cesar’s hotel offers a whimsical dining experience and delicious food. I visited here in the fall of 2022, and every penny spent here was worth it!

27 | Seattle, Washington

When you think of Seattle, the first things that come to mind are Starbucks, the Space Needle, and constant rainy weather, but there’s so much more to Seattle than that. Its’ proximity to the Pacific Ocean and some of the most stunning mountain ranges in the United States make it an amazing place for outdoor enthusiasts.

To get the most out of your visit, plan your vacation in the summer months when the weather is at its best. The perfect summer day in Seattle consists of grabbing coffee at a local café, spotting whales on a whale watching tour, followed by watching the sunset at the top of the Space Needle, and ending the day with a great meal & unique cocktails .  

  • Whale Watching Tour – From April through October you can spot whales as they migrate through the waterways near Seattle. Tours depart from Seattle, Port Angeles, or Port Townsend an Puget Sound Express guarantees that you’ll see whales or your next tour is free!
  • Seattle CityPASS – This pass is highly recommended for any first time visitors who are looking to see Seattle’s main attractions like the Space Needle, Seattle Aquarium, Museum of Pop Culture, Chihuly Garden & Glass, Woodland Park Zoo, or take a harbor cruise. 
  • Seattle Underground Tour – Learn the history of Seattle on this tour that takes you below street level and through the many underground tunnels in Seattle. 
  • The Pink Door – This popular Italian restaurant is located in Post Alley near Pike Place Market and is the perfect place for date night or dinner with friends. 
  • Deep Dive – If you’re looking for delicious craft cocktails, head over to Deep Dive which is located at the Amazon Spheres. 
  • Toulouse Petit – Serves up New Orleans-style dishes and is great for brunch or dinner. 

best travel us cities

In Summary | The Best Cities to Visit in the USA

That concludes my list for the best cities to visit in the US. I hope that you have a good idea for which ones are worth your visit! There are, of course, many more, and I’ll keep adding to this list! If you have a favorite city that I haven’t included on this list yet, let me know about it in the comments below!

Related US Travel Guides:

  • Historical Sites in New Orleans
  • NYC Travel Guide
  • New Orleans Travel Guide
  • Washington, DC Itinerary
  • Virtual Washington, DC Guide

best travel us cities

Christen Thomas is the founder of TravelWanderGrow, established in 2018. She has lived abroad and traveled extensively to over 30 countries. In addition, she is a certified Travel Advisor and is an expert in planning trips focused on city history and culture. As a frequent traveler, she also shares tips on how to prepare to travel well and how to save money while doing so.

These are great suggestions, Denver is one of my favorite places to visit so I totally agree! I haven’t been to like half these places though lol – adding them to the bucket list! 🙂

Haha….I’m always adding to my bucket list as well!

This is a really cool informative list of cities to visit. This is an excellent checklist. I need to hit the west cost asap to scratch some of these of the list.

Glad you found the list helpful, Eric!

Great list! I would love to visit a lot on your list. My favorite in the South is either Charleston SC or Savannah GA. I just love the huge trees and historic areas.

Ohh Charleston and Savannah are two on my list that I need to make happen. Thanks for the recommendations!

I would say DONT BOTHER with LA but… People REALLY want to see it. It’s nothing special. I live here. It actually sucks – ha! No beauty at all.

Haha – I’d say there are lots of great things nearby, maybe not so much in downtown :).

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I've traveled to all 50 states. Here are 12 of the best US cities to visit.

  • Over the course of many years, I traveled to all 50 states and visited lots of amazing cities. 
  • Moab, Utah, and Honolulu, Hawaii, are both great spots for outdoor adventures.
  • I loved the art in Miami, Florida, and enjoyed seeing Mount Rushmore in Keystone, South Dakota.

In my late 20s, I embarked on a mission to go to every state.

best travel us cities

Exploring the United States as a solo, Latina traveler was both rewarding and terrifying. 

I grew up in a sheltered, working-class home, but when I had a tumultuous breakup in my late 20s, I decided to visit the 30 states I hadn't yet seen as a creative way to heal. 

It took me nine years to complete my list, and there were some definite highlights along the way.

I experienced freezing temperatures in Fairbanks, Alaska.

best travel us cities

I didn't know what cold really was until I visited Fairbanks in January 2020, with temperatures dipping to minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

Alaska was the 50th state on my list, and I chose to visit Fairbanks because it's considered one of the best places to see the Aurora Borealis.

It was disappointing not to catch a glimpse of the northern lights, but I warmed up at Chena Hot Springs, where the water reached 106 degrees Fahrenheit.

I also visited the North Pole, a small, nearby city known for its year-round Christmas decorations. And the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum was a cool place to see antique cars.

Portland, Oregon, is full of tourist attractions and great food.

best travel us cities

I visited several traditional tourist attractions like the Portland Art Museum, Powell's City of Books, the Oregon Historical Society, the Oregon Zoo, and the Jade District — where I celebrated the 2019 Lunar New Year.

I also took a delicious culinary tour throughout the city. My favorite bites were at the Thai street-food spot Pok Pok (which is no longer open), Cuban restaurant Palomar, and dessert shop Voodoo Doughnut. 

I went on outdoor adventures in Moab, Utah.

best travel us cities

I had traveled most of the country by the time I visited this ruby-red state in November 2018, but yet, I wasn't fully prepared for the six-hour round-trip hike to Delicate Arch, a freestanding rock formation near Moab.

Instead of wearing appropriate footwear, I had on dressy ankle-length boots and didn't bring hiking sticks. The terrain was rocky and uneven, and I almost fell three times.

But the serene and majestic view was worth it, as was the incredibly challenging journey. I learned that with persistence, I could overcome the hardest challenges.

I enjoyed the Latinx community in Omaha, Nebraska.

best travel us cities

When I traveled to the Cornhusker State in early 2017, I was pleasantly surprised to find a bustling Latinx community within Omaha, plus a museum that honored the heritage and contribution of Spanish-speaking immigrants in the Midwestern state .

In Ralston, Nebraska, I also found one of the best Cuban restaurants outside of my New Jersey hometown, the now-closed Gusto Cuban Café.

There are some great spots in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, for wellness and art.

best travel us cities

During the worst of my post-breakup gloom in 2011, I became a recluse, eschewing social media and forgoing in-person gatherings.

But my friend Amanda invited me to the Kripalu Center For Yoga and Health, a wellness center she was teaching at in Stockbridge.

Eating more wholesome foods, meditating , and practicing yoga helped with my depression.

Years later, I returned to visit the city's Norman Rockwell Museum, a must-see if you're a fan of the namesake artist's illustrations of everyday life in the 20th century.

Chimayó, New Mexico, is home to a religious-pilgrimage site.

best travel us cities

In July 2011, I visited El Santuario de Chimayó, a Catholic pilgrimage site.

Past tourists left behind mementos like crutches and photos as proof of miracles. Even though I was a bit skeptical, I prayed for a reprieve from my post-breakup depression.

I also enjoyed meeting pilgrims from Spain, Kentucky, and all other parts of the globe and country.

The sanctuary is worth a visit, even for non-Catholics. The small church is a national historic landmark  that dates back to the early 1800s.

Keystone, South Dakota, is home to a famous historical landmark.

best travel us cities

When I was briefly unemployed in 2012, I drove from New Jersey to Seattle .

Along the way, I made a pit stop to see Mount Rushmore and found that the presidents were much smaller than they seemed on television. I was more interested in the Avenue of Flags, a showcase of flags from all of the states, one district, three territories, and two commonwealths.

Also while in South Dakota, I was low on fuel and the only available lodging was a creepy-looking Bates Motel doppelgänger I'll never forget. 

New Orleans, Louisiana, has so much to do.

best travel us cities

My first solo, post-breakup journey was to New Orleans in March 2011, during Mardi Gras.

I wasn't keen on drinking, so I munched on muffulettas, a popular Italian sandwich loaded with meats and cheeses between Sicilian sesame bread.

I also found solace in the French Quarter at St. Louis Cathedral, one of the oldest cathedrals in North America that dates back to 1720.

During my four-day trip, I visited the city's above-ground cemeteries, listened to jazz at local restaurants and music venues, tried alligator for the first time, and enjoyed the nightlife on Bourbon Street.

Wynwood in Miami, Florida, is a great neighborhood to appreciate art and food.

best travel us cities

Before I could crawl or talk, my parents, grandmother, and I would spend most of the summer in Miami, as much of our extended Cuban-exile family lived there.

I thought I knew all about south Florida until my cousin suggested we have dinner in Wynwood, a neighborhood of Miami , in the summer of 2017.

Wynwood is known for its large-scale murals by some of the best-known street artists in the world.

The combination of cool craft breweries, art galleries, and stylish clothing boutiques makes Wynwood a must-see if you're visiting Miami-Dade County. 

Newport and Providence, Rhode Island, are tied for the third spot on my list.

best travel us cities

My best memories of Providence are walking around the Rhode Island School of Design campus, as well as heading to art museums, breweries, and seafood restaurants . 

I also enjoyed strolling through the cobblestone-lined Benefit Street.

But last year I visited Newport for the first time and discovered the beautiful views along Cliff Walk, the incredible Newport Mansions, the gentle waves of Easton's Beach, and the window shopping on Thames Street.

Honolulu, Hawaii, is full of nature and adventure.

best travel us cities

I went on my first submarine ride in Honolulu, 100 feet below the surface, and felt a sense of accomplishment for challenging my boundaries and facing my fears.

During my December 2019 Hawaii trip , I also went to a luau, hiked the summit of Diamond Head crater, visited Pearl Harbor, and enjoyed loco moco (a dish consisting of white rice topped with a hamburger, a fried egg, and brown gravy).

I had a lot of fun when I visited St. Louis, Missouri.

best travel us cities

I visited St. Louis in 2014 when it was celebrating its 250th birthday.

There were painted cake sculptures depicting the city's cultural icons, and I was on a quest to find as many as possible at spots like the Budweiser brewery or near the Gateway Arch.

Additionally, the Show Me State had the most delicious food. I particularly enjoyed the fried ravioli, St. Louis-style pizza (cut into squares with an unleavened, cracker-like crust and topped with Provel cheese), and gooey butter cake.

best travel us cities

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The best places to visit in the USA for every month of 2023

We've named the 12 best places to visit in the USA with one amazing destination for every month of the year

Scott Snowden

Whether you live in the US or on the other side of the world, you’ve got to admit that the US is an amazing place to travel. But the US is a huge, huge country, and an experience on one end is going to be incredibly different to another. Here, you’ve got glamorous resorts, hikes through national parks, wide open beaches and tightly packed cities (and much, much more). 

Plus, you’ve got the weather. A holiday in Alaska is going to be very different to Las Vegas, that’s for sure, so you might want to plan accordingly. In fact, our biggest tip is to choose where you’re going in the US based on a particular time of year - so we’ve made life easy for you. We’ve rounded up the best places to go in the US in 2023, for every month of the year. Now that is how you do a trip. Happy holidays!

RECOMMENDED: 🏞️ The best national parks in the US 🎢 The best amusement parks in the US 🏨 The best all-inclusive resorts in the US 🏖️ The best beaches in the US 😎 The best family vacations in the US

An email you’ll actually love

Best places to visit in the USA, by month

January: Colorado

1.  January: Colorado

It’s no secret that Colorado ski resorts are among the country’s best, but that's not all this state has to offer outdoor enthusiasts in the winter. Try your hand at heli-skiing (that's dropping from a helicopter rather than a ski lift) in the backcountry at Telluride , bask in natural hot springs after your ride down the mountain in Steamboat Springs , or embrace winter camping and dog sledding at the refurbished mine town of  Dunton Hot Springs,  where you'll find an Old West saloon, the opportunity to ice climb and, of course, more hot springs. 

February: Yellowstone National Park

2.  February: Yellowstone National Park

This world-famous Wyoming National Park  is always spectacular, and while it’s understandably mainly visited in warmer months, if you can get there in February you’ll be in for a real treat, with the whole place transformed into an other-worldly wintery wilderness. Animals are much easier to spot in the snow, with the most notable example being bison, complete with their shaggy winter coats, and the steam from the geysers is far more pronounced.

March: Hawaii

3.  March: Hawaii

Hawaii enjoys beautiful weather and comfortable temperatures year-round, with thermometers reliably staying above 79°F and below 88°F, but March and April are particularly pleasant times to visit, slipping in between the spring and summer vacation seasons. From the massive volcanoes on the Big Island (Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa and Kilauea), and the Na Pali cliffs of Kauai , to the pristine beaches of Oahu —every part of the state is stunning. But if you have to pick just one spot to see while you're there, we recommend heading to the very top of Maui, where the Haleakalā crater's huge caldera's landscape is otherworldly.

April: Washington DC

4.  April: Washington DC

Despite being such a historic city, Washington DC keeps evolving—even now, new museums are breaking ground. There's one more big reason to head to D.C. this spring, too: cherry blossom season. While Japan’s cherry blossom season seems to grab most of the world’s attention, Washington D.C. has a pretty good one too, which typically spans late March into early April. The best place to see it is the Tidal Basin, where over 3,000 trees are transformed with radiant blooms. And you can still get your obligatory selfie with the White House/Lincoln Memorial/National Mall while you're in town. 

May: The Mighty Five

5.  May: The Mighty Five

No idea what The Mighty Five is? We're talking about Utah 's wild landscape, which is connected by a series of five national parks— Zion , Bryce Canyon , Capitol Reef , Canyonlands , and Arches.  There's also the iconic  Monument Valley, which is located in the nearby Navajo nation; you've seen it on the silver screen in almost every John Wayne western and it hasn't changed an iota since. In all five destinations, notice massive sandstone formations, twisty slot canyons and dark skies bursting with stars that up the beauty ante. 

June: The West Coast

6.  June: The West Coast

Sound the road trip klaxon!  California  and the Pacific Northwest are calling. Head out in June to avoid the July 4th madness, when roads in the U.S. will be crammed with long weekenders on their way to family barbecues and baseball games, and take the whole month to discover the best of the West Coast. Whether you want to catch some rays in  San Diego , forest bathe in  Oregon , tour  Seattle ’s street art or simply make the most of  Vancouver 's least rainy month of the year, this slice of North America is as diverse as its days are long.

July: Alaska

7.  July: Alaska

July is a wonderful month to spot caribou, wolves and golden eagles in Denali National Park , as well as grizzly bears, who are busy hunting salmon in order to fatten up before hibernation. They also nibble on the season’s abundant berries—blueberries are particularly fat and juicy in Alaska—and you can taste them too on almost any hike and around the stunning Glacier Bay National Park .

August: Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island

8.  August: Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island

At the far reaches of the northeast coastline of America is Acadia National Park , which covers much of Mount Desert Island (beautiful Bar Harbor is here, too) and beyond. Crashing Atlantic Ocean waves hit rocky beaches, massive granite rock formations loom and quiet forests, lakes and ponds await you here. Once you've experienced this achingly lovely island sanctuary, there are plenty of Maine 's famed lobster roll stands waiting near town ready to feed you the state's delicious crustacean.

September: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

9.  September: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

America's most visited national park, the Great Smoky Mountains is a place where the easygoing rhythm of the South combines with an outdoor lover's heaven. Hike in to see lovely waterfalls and expansive views filled with mountains and forests, fish for trout in a quiet stream (you'll need a permit) and peep at a riot of colors during the autumn foliage change. You might run into someone hiking the Appalachian Trail, too. More than 70 miles of that 2,190-mile path run through the national park.

October: New Mexico

10.  October: New Mexico

There’s a lot more to New Mexico than desert and a certain Netflix show. Every October,   Albuquerque   hosts its eye-popping International Balloon Fiesta , where you can spot hundreds of technicolor hot air balloons as they make their spectacular ascent. With seemingly endless skies and epic sunrises, it’s become the world’s largest balloon festival and the most photographed event on Earth. Also make time to visit   Santa Fe , in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains for a mix of Spanish colonial architecture and earth-colored historic adobe neighborhoods, plus a comprehensive Georgia O'Keefe Museum dedicated to her artistic legacy and American modernism.

November: Las Vegas

11.  November: Las Vegas

As the names of artists now getting residencies in Las Vegas get bigger and more relevant (like Lady Gaga and Bruno Mars), so does Sin City’s credibility as an entertainment destination. So do catch a  show  while you’re there but, since temperatures are pleasantly cool at this time of year, now is also the perfect time for exploring off-strip. Want geological beauty? Head to rouge-tinted Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area . Street art? Go downtown. Mafia stuff? Don’t miss the Mob Museum  and its in-house distillery.

December: Miami

12.  December: Miami

The Magic City is perhaps not a place you'd associate with art and culture and yet, it frequently hosts works and exhibitions from established international artists. But you don’t have to be an industry insider or even uber-rich to get in on the action: Plenty of fringe events happen outside of the main convention center at Miami Beach at the same time. Check out the public sculpture, and the many pop-ups, gallery events and installations that have led this to be dubbed "Art Week" by locals. In between, hit up South Beach for tanning and our very own Time Out Market Miami for grubbing. Welcome to Miami.

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

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

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

USA Travel Bucket List

USA Travel Bucket List

Alaska Bucket List

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

Arizona Bucket List

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

Antelope Canyon is a must on any USA Travel Bucket List

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

Horseshoe Bend American Bucket List Challenge

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

Arkansas Bucket List

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

California Bucket List

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

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

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

Joshua Tree is one of top California bucket list destinations

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

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

Colorado Bucket List

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

Connecticut Bucket List

  • Visit the charming town of Mystic .

Florida Bucket List

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

Read: Florida Bucket List

Georgia Bucket List

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

Cheap Car Rentals

Hawaii Bucket List

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

the best things to do in Kauai

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

top things to do in Kauai

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

thenomadik.com

Idaho Bucket List

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

Illinois Bucket List

what to do in chicago

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

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

Indiana Bucket List

  • Visit the the capital city of Indianapolis.

Iowa Bucket List

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

Read :  Beautiful Sunflower Fields in Iowa That You Can Visit

Kansas Bucket List

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

Kentucky Bucket List

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

Louisiana Bucket List

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

Maine Bucket List

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

Maryland Bucket List

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

Massachusetts Bucket List

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

Michigan Bucket List

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

Read: Best Places to Visit in the Midwest

Minnesota Bucket List

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

Mississippi Bucket List

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

Missouri Bucket List

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

Montana Bucket List

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

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

Nebraska Bucket List

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

Read: 7 Cool Things to do in Nebraska

Nevada Bucket List

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

Valley of Fire USA travel bucketlist

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

New Jersey Bucket List

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

New Hampshire Bucket List

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

New Mexico Bucket List

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

best travel us cities

New York Bucket List

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

North Carolina Bucket List

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

North Dakota Bucket List

  • Visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park .

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

Ohio Bucket List

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

Oregon Bucket List

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

Multnomah Falls American travel bucket list destination

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

Crater Lake Pacific Northwest bucket list

Read: Bucket List Places to Visit in the West Coast

Pennsylvania Bucket List

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

Rhode Island Bucket List

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

South Carolina Bucket List

  • Visit the charming city of Charleston.

South Dakota Bucket List

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

Tennessee Bucket List

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

Texas Bucket List

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

Utah Bucket List

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

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

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

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

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

Vermont Bucket List

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

Virginia Bucket List

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

Washington State Bucket List

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

Washington, D.C. Bucket List

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

Read: Best Places to Visit in the East Coast

West Virginia Bucket List

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

Wisconsin Bucket List

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

Wyoming Bucket List

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

Grand Prismatic Spring is a US bucket list destination

  • Explore the Grand Tetons .

Grand Teton USA travel bucket list ideas

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

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

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

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

USA Travel Bucket List Places You Need to Visit

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savvyglobetrotter

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

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

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

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

This is such a great list! I don’t think you have missed out on anything at all. I didn’t even know many of these places and now I want to visit them.

Wow, this is an awesome list! So many great options and so fun to see the ones I’ve already seen, like Sedona and the Grand Canyon. There are so many more I want to visit, I’ll have to keep your list handy!

I love traveling and my life partner also loves traveling. Recently we got married and planning to visit all over USA. Your List will be more helpful for us and others also.

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Sea to shining sea: 11 of the best destinations to visit across the US

Summer Hull

What's a Fourth of July without big fireworks displays, parades of all sizes, a Capitol Fourth concert, busy beaches, packed pools and backyard barbecues? Well, we're about to find out.

You're not going to see a round-up of the best places to enjoy the Fourth of July here this year. Instead, we want to highlight some of our favorite places to visit across the U.S. -- even if now isn't the right time for us to load up the car or fly to visit each of these destinations because of the ongoing health crisis and travel restrictions .

But, as we look back on 244 years of being the United States of America, here are 11 of our favorite places across the country you can look forward to visiting when the time is right for you.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter .

Antelope Canyon in Arizona

(Photo courtesy of Brian Baril Photography/ Getty Images)

If you appreciate natural beauty that photographs just as well as it looks in person, put Antelope Canyon on your must-visit list. These two Upper and Lower slot canyons are located outside Page, Arizona, and rise 75 feet overhead to totally surround you in light, color and texture.

Related: Why Antelope Canyon is Grandpa Points' favorite destination

Of the two, the Upper Canyon is more navigable as it's essentially a flat walk in and out. It's also where you'll see the famous "light beams" and, for that reason (plus its ease of accessibility) it's more popular. The Lower Canyon is below ground and requires a descent to its winding floor, so it's more challenging to reach, but rewarding if you can pull it off.

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You need advance tour reservations to visit either canyon, and note that, right now, Antelope Canyon is closed, so you'll need to add this one to the future planning list. But when you do, know that Antelope Canyon is about five hours east of Las Vegas by car.

Related: Best road trips from Las Vegas

It's also within driving distance of the Grand Canyon , Zion National Park , Bryce National Park and Horseshoe Bend, all great destinations in their own right.

The Black Hills and Badlands in South Dakota

Early morning light on the Badlands.

When you think of tourism in South Dakota, Mount Rushmore probably rushes to mind. And, yes, there's that. But also, there's Badlands National Park , with 244,000 acres of what could be described as a mix of Death Valley, Grand Canyon, Red Rock Canyon and Valley of Fire State Park all in one, with magnificent native grasses that soften the rugged landscape.

Another way to take in the landscape of the area is on a vintage steam train that runs seasonally from Hill City to Keystone.

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But regardless of what exactly you decide to do and see, the entire area that includes the Black Hills, Badlands National Park and Custer State Park provides an incredible sense of openness and space -- along with a compelling story of the land, from prehistory to Standing Rock.

Related: 5 road trips to take this summer

Northern California

There's a long list of reasons that Northern California is so special.

Sequoia trees in Big Basin Redwoods State Park. (Photo by demerzel21/Getty Images)

There are the towering redwoods that stand over 370 feet, reaching toward the sky, as well as Yosemite National Park , Muir Woods, Lake Tahoe , the ghost town of Bodie and so much more.

Related: Destinations to add on to a trip to San Francisco

Sand Harbor State Park in Lake Tahoe (Photo by www.35mmNegative.com/Getty Images)

If that sounds like a whole lot to lump together, it is. You could spend weeks here exploring the area and still not see it all. That's why Northern California is a place you revisit time and again. You can get a taste and return later for an entirely different experience.

Related: Best beaches in California

Cape May in New Jersey

best travel us cities

Those who live in the New York City or Philadelphia areas and are craving a driveable getaway may be well-served by visiting Cape May, New Jersey.

best travel us cities

There you'll find quiet beaches here, plus great food, elegant Victorian homes, excellent bike paths and lovely estates, like Beach Plum Farm, which TPG editor-at-large, Zach Honig, visited during a trip last month . This farm provides produce to Cape May restaurants, residents and guests and is a must-visit spot.

Related: Best secret swimming holes in the U.S.

Hanalei Bay in Hawaii

(Summer Hull / The Points guy)

Out across the Pacific in Hawaii is the magical, mountainous island of Kauai. Sure, the island has a drier sunny side, too, but on the northern side, you can visit the serene shore of Hanalei Bay.

Related: Best things to do in Kauai with a family

(Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

Hawaii isn't ready for tourists quite yet , but when you make that trek to Hawaii, you'd be remiss to not block out at least a full day on Kauai's North Shore for some of the best shave ice you'll ever eat, fresh ahi and hours spent relaxing on the beach, watching the sunset over the golden sand of Hanalei Bay.

Related: Points and miles guide to visiting Hawaii

Rosemary Beach in Florida

Rosemary Beach (Photo by Mimi Wright/The Points Guy)

If you like sugar-white sand and a great atmosphere, Rosemary Beach in the panhandle of Florida may deserve a spot at the top of your future domestic destinations list.

Rosemary is the type of charming town people visit year after year. It's quieter than nearby Destin or Seaside but with similar white sand beaches, a local candy store that gets high marks and good restaurants just a short walk from the center of town.

Related: 13 of the best beaches in Florida

Shelter Island in New York

Shelter Island (Photo courtesy of regankellyphotography.com)

Nestled between the North Fork and South Fork of Long Island — on the map, it looks a bit like it's caught in the jaws of a crocodile — Shelter Island is a version of the nearby Hamptons without the glitz and, frankly, the hassle of New York's beach playground.

You'll need a ferry to get to the island; there's one from the north and the south, both taking mere minutes. But you'll feel like you're much farther away than that. With only a few hotels and Airbnbs , Shelter Island really doesn't aspire to be a big destination; its charm is all in its remoteness.

At the Nature Conservancy's Mashomack reserve, a haven for migrating ospreys, the only thing reminding you of the 21st century will be the jets overhead, arriving from Europe and descending into New York's JFK airport . Come winter, the island is half empty, and nothing short of magic. For New Yorkers in the know, this is shelter indeed.

Related: Most popular destinations for travelers right now

Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina

Cabin located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee, near the village of Gatlinburg.More images from the Great Smoky Mountains NP: Photo by MoreISO/Getty Images

It's no wonder Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most popular national park in the U.S. There's a ton to see and do -- and the area is just a reasonable drive away for millions and millions of Americans.

Many visitors come here to simply drive around and enjoy the view. For example, Cades Cove Loop Road is a scenic (and very popular) 11-mile loop that will give you a great introduction to what the Smokies have to offer.

Related: Guide to renting a cabin in the Smoky Mountains

Cades Cove Loop Road (Photo by Caitlin Riddell/The Points Guy)

But you don't need to stay in your car the whole time. Here, you can go tubing, hiking and exploring to your hearts' content. The Great Smoky Mountains are obvious fun in the summer, but make for an exquisite fall foliage destination, too. And, when the time is right for some theme park-style fun, Dollywood is right there in Pigeon Forge . If you do go to Dollywood, go hungry, and try the famous pull-apart cinnamon bread from the Grist Mill.

Related: Best things to do in Gatlinburg

Wolfeboro in New Hampshire

USA, New Hampshire, Lake Winnipesaukee Region (Walter Bibikow/Getty Images)

This city has a serious claim to domestic vacation fame, as it's considered the "oldest summer resort city in America" — Wolfeboro has roots dating back to the 1700s and is known not only for its shopping and dining, but also for Lake Winnepesaukee.

In addition to lazy days on the lake, visitors must try the Maine lobster, eat clams with butter and crumbs and lobster rolls. TPG credit cards editor Benet Wilson says the Wi-Fi in the region is often spotty at best, which really makes visiting that much better.

Related: Why this New Hampshire ski town is a great summer destination

Saratoga Springs and the Adirondacks in New York

Mount Whiteface, Adirondack Mountains (Photo by Ryan Lebel Photography/Getty Images)

Upstate New York is great in many ways — the picturesque towns, the mountains and the distance from the hustle of New York City. Saratoga Springs and the Adirondack region are favorites for many in the area, including TPG global news editor Emily McNutt, who is from the area and misses it while working across the pond with TPG UK .

Saratoga is about a 3-hour drive north of Manhattan and can also be reached by Amtrak on either the Adirondack or Ethan Allen Express lines. Alternatively, you could take the train to Albany or fly to Albany International Airport (ALB) and then make the short 40-minute drive to Saratoga. But once you get there, the city is most famous for its mineral springs — it's literally in the name — and horse racing, with a season that will start in mid-July, albeit without live spectators.

The culinary scene in Saratoga is a highlight as well. Try 15 Church Restaurant for fine dining, Max London's for brunch, Druthers for craft beer and delicious food or The Local for some of the best fish and chips outside the U.K.

Also don't miss the 21 public mineral springs around town, which are said to have healing effects. If you're ready to leave and head into nature, drive 30 minutes north to the Adirondack region. Lake George is a great starting point for your Adirondack journey, as it has a thriving village scene with arcades, live music, lakeside bars and restaurants and the opportunity to take a stroll through history.

Related: Best weekend getaways from NYC

Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park (Photo by Buddy Smith/The Points Guy)

Last, but far from least, who can resist cool, crisp Colorado air right now? Rocky Mountain National Park sits about 90 minutes northwest of Denver by car and is home to 147 lakes, dozens of different mammals (bear, moose and bighorn sheep among them), 355 miles of hiking trails and the Continental Divide.

(Photo by Buddy Smith/The Points Guy)

Whether you want a moderate hike around Bear Lake or Emerald Lake, or prefer to let the car do the work on a drive around Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountian National Park is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser for a domestic destination.

There's no bad time to visit, but while summer is also quite popular, fall is spectacular. In mid- to late-September, you can expect to see elk in abundance, aspen trees ablaze with yellow and gold foliage and maybe even spot some early season snow in the higher elevations of the park.

Related: Best Airbnb homes in Colorado

Bottom line

There are hundreds -- if not thousands -- of amazing places to visit across the country. This list is far from exhaustive, but it encompasses 11 well-loved popular amongst TPG staff. While we all look forward to the day that international trips are once again realistic for travelers , exploring the country one national park, charming town, gorgeous beach and deep, blue lake at a time could also keep us busy for years to come.

Additional reporting by Alberto Riva, Zach Honig, Benet Wilson, Mimi Wright, Emily McNutt and Buddy Smith.

All products and listings featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. If you purchase something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

10 Affordable Places to Travel in the US

By Jamie Spain

10 Affordable Places to Travel in the US

Whether you're planning a grand family vacation or are looking for a quick and breezy solo trip to switch up the scenery, finding affordable places to travel in the US can be difficult. There are so many different things to consider when planning a trip, from hotels and flights to food and activities, and it's safe to say that it can all get rather overwhelming. To help, we've compiled a list of 10 fun and affordable US cities perfect for all types of travelers. From Charlotte, North Carolina , to Albuquerque, New Mexico , these are some of the best budget-friendly cities in the country.

To ensure that our picks are all affordable, we've made selections using data from Priceline on the most affordable domestic flights and hotels in the US this summer (based on average round-trip airfare and average rate per night, respectively). We've also included a few quality hotel and vacation rental options, all under $300 a night, for each destination.

Read on for 10 affordable travel destinations in the US, so you can keep your budget in check while still enjoying your next great vacation.

This image may contain Resort Building Hotel Pool and Water

Hyatt Regency Orlando

Orlando, Florida

It's not the flights or the hotels in Orlando that will stretch your budget (both can be found at fairly reasonable prices if you plan in advance), but the activities. Since Orlando is home to Disney World , if you plan on attending any of the parks, you'll be designating a large chunk of your travel budget to tickets. But the theme parks aren't the only great thing to do in the city —from visiting some amazing museums to enjoying nature-filled parks, there are tons of other activities that are often overlooked. If you do plan to spend a day or two at Magic Kingdom or Universal Studios, you can rest easy knowing that the rest of your trip was budgeted accordingly.

Where to stay in Orlando:

  • For family-friendly fun: Hilton Orlando
  • For a great pool: Hyatt Regency Orlando
  • For a private home: Cozy three-bedroom near downtown Orlando

United States Pennsylvania Philadelphia Hotel Inn at Whitewing Farm

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philly is home to some amazing attractions, wonderful views, cool hotels , and of course, incredible history. In Philadelphia's Old Town, travelers can walk in the footsteps of America's Founding Fathers—meandering down the same streets and buildings they once did. There are plenty of great free and low-cost activities, including seeing the iconic Liberty Bell, walking past The President's House (the original “White House” before Washington, DC), and exploring Elfreth's Alley, the oldest continuously inhabited residential street in the US. If you find time to try a Philly cheesesteak while you're there, all the better.

Where to stay in Philadelphia:

  • For an escape from downtown: Inn at Whitewing Farm
  • For a micro-hotel experience: Pod Philly Hotel
  • For the University: The Study at University Circle

Image may contain Architecture Balcony Building Chair Furniture and Plant

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Booking an affordable beach vacation can be quite the feat, but Myrtle Beach is the perfect place to go when you want to balance beachy views with budget-friendly prices. Especially in comparison to other South Carolina vacation hotspots like Charleston and Hilton Head , Myrtle Beach is where you'll get the most bang for your buck. Spend most of your time enjoying the sun and sand on the free beaches, or walk the iconic boardwalk a couple (dozen) times.

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Where to stay in Myrtle Beach:

  • For direct beach access: Willow Bay Resort
  • For golf lovers: Marina Inn at Grand Dunes
  • For a balcony: Quaint condo with two double beds

NoMad Las Vegas

Nomad Las Vegas

Las Vegas, Nevada

While you may think of Las Vegas as a place meant solely for casinos and clubbing (not exactly high up there on the list of budget-friendly activities), there are tons of fun and affordable things to do in the city and plenty of great hotels and Airbnbs to stay in. Simply walking (and gawking at) The Strip is an activity of its own, or take a hike to the Red Rock Canyon and enjoy the natural scenery. There are some great museums and exhibits to stop into as well, and seeing the Bellagio fountains is well worth a trip. Don't forget to take a picture next to the iconic “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign.

Where to stay in Vegas:

  • For an off-the-strip experience: Golden Nugget
  • For old-world luxury on a budget: Nomad Las Vegas
  • For a themed resort: The Mirage Las Vegas

United States North Carolina Charlotte hotel Omni Charlotte Hotel

Omni Charlotte Hotel

Charlotte, North Carolina

From the incredible food to the family-friendly activities , there's plenty to do in Charlotte for travelers of all interests. Whether you're simply looking to enjoy the warm weather and eat all the Southern food your stomach can handle, or hoping to visit museums and the Botanical Gardens, you won't spend a single minute bored in this city . For great food and people-watching, head to 7th Street Public Market ; NASCAR fans will want to explore the Charlotte Motor Speedway (kids 12 and under enter most events for free) or the NASCAR Hall of Fame (tickets start at $20) .

Where to stay in Charlotte:

  • For history: The Dunhill Hotel
  • For a low-key place to rest your head: Charlotte Marriott City Center
  • For a central location: Omni Charlotte Hotel

The Rally Hotel

The Rally Hotel

Colorado Springs and Denver, Colorado

Just a little over an hour apart by car, Denver and Colorado Springs are both great options for families and friends looking for a mountain escape. If you're seeking something a bit more residential and not so hustle-and-bustle, Colorado Springs will be perfect, with its great hiking trails and gorgeous views. For those looking for a taste of city life, stay in downtown Denver, where you'll get all the benefits of the great outdoors alongside the liveliness of a big city. Cut costs by spending most of your time hiking, biking, and enjoying nature.

Where to stay in Colorado Springs and Denver:

  • For community in Colorado Springs: Kinship Landing
  • For sports fans in Denver: The Rally Hotel
  • For a hip scene in a great location in Denver: The Maven Hotel at the Dairy Block

Hotel Parq Central

Hotel Parq Central

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Albuquerque may not be on the top of your to-do list, but there are many reasons why this New Mexico city is worth a visit. It's a great destination for year-round travel thanks to its incredible hot-air balloon scene (it's home to the world's largest Hot Air Balloon Festival), Southwestern art, tasty food, and desert scenery. Head to the Albuquerque Museum (tickets start at $3) or the National Hispanic Cultural Center (free for guests 16 and under; $6 for adults) for some history and art in the city, or simply walk around the area and enjoy the desert views alongside the many art galleries, shops, and restaurants.

Where to stay in Albuquerque:

  • For good location: Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town
  • For retro charm: El Vado Motel
  • For a stay near Route 66: Hotel Parq Central

Image may contain Restaurant Furniture Chair Couch Interior Design Indoors Room Cafeteria Lobby and Pub

Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore is another city on this list that is steeped in history, but if you're not much of a history buff, there's still plenty to enjoy about the city. Known for its seafood and beautiful waterfront, (and, of course, for being the setting of the musical Hairspray), you'll certainly want to indulge in crab cakes, oysters, or crab dip, especially if you can do so along the water. There are also tons of budget-friendly activities, including walking through Fell's Point, a great neighborhood filled with restaurants, shops, and entertainment, touring some of the museums, taking a peak inside the Peabody Library, or walking alongside the harbor.

Where to stay in Baltimore:

  • For a pop of color: Ulysses
  • For a modern boutique property: Hotel Indigo Baltimore Downtown
  • For a private townhouse: Colorful two-bedroom in Federal Hill

Image may contain Landscape Outdoors Nature Scenery Aerial View Mountain Mountain Range Urban Panoramic and Plateau

Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort

Phoenix, Arizona

Head to hot, dry Phoenix , Arizona, the perfect destination for pool days, hiking and nature viewing, and museum visits. Phoenix is also just about two hours away from Sedona, making it a great home base for a day trip to see the red rock formations. The Desert Botanical Gardens (tickets start at $15) will be a hit amongst the whole family, while the Hole in the Rock hike (or the more challenging Camelback Mountain hike) offer a chance to take in gorgeous desert views.

Where to stay in Phoenix:

  • For retro-cool: Rise Uptown Hotel
  • For a desert oasis: Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass
  • For mountain views: Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort

Arlo Wynwood Miami

Arlo Wynwood Miami

Miami, Florida

Miami doesn't always scream affordable, but thanks to the city's large airport with many daily domestic flights and a surprising number of affordable hotel and Airbnb options, travelers can head to this incredible city without having to stretch their budget too far. Where your wallet may take a hit is the food and activities, so plan carefully before you arrive. To keep things affordable, spend most of your time enjoying the free beaches with a picnic you pack yourself, or walking around Miami Beach. You can also take yourself on a personal tour of Wynwood's outdoor murals or enjoy one of the free outdoor yoga classes .

Where to stay in Miami:

  • For a “luxury” hostel experience: The Freehand
  • For a unique boutique hotel: Esmé Miami Beach
  • For a Wynwood escape: Arlo Wynwood Miami

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best travel us cities

Best of summer 2024: Top things to do and places to visit

S ummer is a wonderful time to enjoy activities that celebrate getting outdoors — sometimes combined with taking in some entertainment. Some of the most popular things to do include going to a fireworks show, watching a double feature at a drive-in, going for a leisurely hike, learning about sea creatures at an aquarium, enjoying tunes at an outdoor concert series, setting out on a scenic train ride, and, of course, traveling for a summer vacation.

To find the best of these beloved pastimes, USA TODAY 10Best editors and a panel of experts nominated their favorites, then readers voted for their top picks — and the results are in.

Click on each category below to see the full winners list:

Best Aquarium: Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium in Springfield, Missouri

Founded by Johnny Morris, CEO of Bass Pro Shops, his Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium celebrates hunting, fishing, and stewardship of the land and water through over 1.5 miles of immersive galleries featuring 4D dioramas and a 1.5-million-gallon aquarium.

Some 35,000 animals representing over 800 species are on display, including zebra sharks, sea turtles, and freshwater sport fish. Unique to the aquarium is its collection of historic boats used by Ernest Hemingway and Zane Grey.

Full list of winners: Best Aquarium »

Best Drive-In Theater: Skyview Drive-In in Belleville, Illinois

Skyview Drive-In has been part of the Belleville, Illinois, community since 1949. The venue frequently hosts special events like film festivals, live music, and movie nights with Santa. They also have a concession stand on site with hot food like cheeseburgers, fries, hot dogs, nachos, and popcorn.

Full list of winners: Best Drive-In Theater »

Best Hiking Trail: Whispering Cave in Hocking Hills State Park

Whispering Cave is just one of the many hikes in Hocking Hills State Park, which stretches across 2,356 acres. This 5-mile loop is moderately challenging and offers hikers access to a fun swinging bridge, the second-largest cave in the region, and a picturesque seasonal waterfall.

Full list of winners: Best Hiking Trail »

Best Outdoor Concert Series: Hot Summer Nights in Vail, Colorado

The cool mountain town of Vail hosts free outdoor concerts throughout the summer at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater aka The Amp. Bring a picnic and some chairs or blankets and enjoy live bands against the alpine backdrop.

Full list of winners: Best Outdoor Concert Series »

Best Place to See Fireworks: Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois

One of Chicago's secret pleasures is that you can enjoy fireworks at the iconic Navy Pier almost any time of year, including shows twice a week during the summer and when welcoming in the new year with a blast every December 31. In addition to viewing from the pier itself, pyrotechnic lovers can watch the show from charter boats on Lake Michigan, hotel rooftops, Maggie Daley Park, or along Chicago's Lakefront Trail.

Full list of winners: Best Place to See Fireworks »

Best Scenic Train Ride: Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad in Durango, Colorado

The historic Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad once hauled silver and gold between these two Colorado towns. Today, visitors can hop aboard for this nine-hour round-trip journey through some of Colorado's most impressive scenery, with a stop in Silverton to explore the historic mining town.

Full list of winners: Best Scenic Train Ride »

Best Summer Travel Destination: Mackinac Island, Michigan

Between Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas, you’ll find Mackinac Island, where you’ll ride on horse-drawn carriages along car-free roads, observe fudge being made (and then sample it), and tour the historic Fort Mackinac. This Lake Huron-based continental island is also home to Mackinac Island State Park, where you can hike, bike, kayak, and take photos of the local natural beauty, including the stunning limestone Arch Rock.

Full list of winners: Best Summer Travel Destination »

Congratulations to all these winners! Remember to visit 10best.usatoday.com daily to vote in more Readers' Choice Awards.

This article originally appeared on 10Best.com: Best of summer 2024: Top things to do and places to visit

Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium wins Best Aquarium for fourth year in a row

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10 Best Places to Travel Solo as a Woman: U.S. Edition

And i even include women-owned lodging and safety tips.

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PureWow editors select every item that appears on this page, and the company may earn compensation through affiliate links within the story. All prices are accurate upon date of publish. You can learn more about the affiliate process here .

best solo travel female us

Female solo travel is on the upswing. According to an American Express Travel trends report for 2024, Gen-Z and millennials view solo trips as self-care. And it makes sense—after staying put through the early covid years, people are restless to explore, and who has time to line up schedules and itineraries? Solo travel means your trip, your terms. And no doubt, independent travel can feel scary. So opting for a domestic trip is a smart baby step before you take off for that round-the-worlder you're dreaming of.

But when it comes to solo travel as a female, there are few extra things to take into consideration, namely, safety. So, in curating this list, I made certain that the majority of these destinations are extremely safe for women traveling alone and those that are deemed less safe (NYC, Chicago, Seattle) can be navigated safely by following the tips below. Another factor I took into account was ease of getting around. Every city or town on this list is easy to explore by walking or some other readily available means of transit (bike or scooter share) or public transportation. Also, each destination offers a variety of options for every type of solo traveler—the foodie, bar hopper, spa seeker, shopper, art and culture buff and outdoorswoman. Lastly, each boasts a strong presence of women-owned businesses and women-centered lifestyle offerings. Ready? Get packin'.

The 14 Best Luggage Brads of 2024, Vetted & Tested

A woman traveling solo in NYC

1. New York, New York

  • Where to Stay:  The Lowell (woman-owned; from $950/night), The Library Hotel (from $400/night), Civilian Hotel (from $179/night).

With the subway operating at all hours, getting around one of the world’s largest and most famous cities is quick and easy. Sheep Meadow on the west side of Central Park is a popular place to people watch or read a book. For theater, TodayTix.com has deals on last-minute shows on and off Broadway. Although Times Square is mind-boggling (literally), explore the neighborhoods beyond midtown via The High Line , a former rail line rife with artwork, fresh foliage, lounge stops, ice cream stalls and views of the Hudson River. For the best views of Manhattan across the East River, take the 7 train to Long Island City. If you choose just one museum, hit the Museum of Modern Art . Swing by female-owned Talea Beer Co. for a pint, The Well for a soak or sauna or The Strand for your new favorite novel. Music buffs, check the concert calendar . As the City that Never Sleeps, live music is on tap everywhere.

A woman traveling solo in Newport Beach

2. Newport Beach, California

  •   Where to stay: The Pendry (from $395/night), Balboa Bay Resort (from $292/night), Doryman’s Oceanfront Inn (from $215/night).

This posh SoCal city delivers relaxation, adventure and shopping galore. Stroll or pedal the boardwalk on Balboa Peninsula, then ogle at the (9,000-plus) yachts in Newport Harbor via a Duffy Boat ride with mother-and-daughter-launched Sea Senorita . Maybe catch sight of the world’s largest animal (a blue whale) on a tour with Newport Coastal Adventure , explore the back bay on a SUP Glow tour with Pirate Coast Paddle Company or get rad on the waves at Newport Surf Camp . Hike the hilly coastline in Crystal Cove State Park after breakfast at the always poppin’ Beachcomber Café . Shoppers, Fashion Island is home to all your favorite brick and mortar stores, plus indy boutiques like woman-owned Talia and nearby, book cryotherapy or facial at Spa Pendry. For great eats, try Newport’s famous frozen banana from OG (1945) Sugar n’ Spice shack, the lobster roll and brunch cocktails at woman-owned Malibu Farm or the seafood tower at The Cannery .

A woman traveling solo in Breckenridge

3. Breckenridge, Colorado

  • Where to stay: The Carlin (from $107/night), The Breckenridge Boutique Hotel (from $204/night), Woodwinds Lodging and Property Management (woman-owned, from $120/night).

This picturesque, historic mining town offers endless options for outdoor exploration, plus a chill, friendly vibe. There’s plenty of mellow hiking options, plus a women-run adventure company, VNTRbirds , offering female-only (including female-identifying) mountain bike skills clinics and fun women at Colorado Adventure Guides for hiking, rock climbing, mountaineering and rafting excursions. Hit up Sarah Barclay at Breckenridge Outfitters for a fly fishing lesson and Clairvergence for self-care and wellness: reiki, sound baths, acudetox and tarot card readings. Find namaste vibe at women-run Meta Yoga , a frothy pint from brewer Suzanne Nance at Breckenridge Brewery , an authentic bowl of pho from the Vietnamese sisters and mom team at Peak of Asia or a cocktail by Billie Keithley, liquid chef at Breckenridge Distillery . Not into the bar scene? Join a landscape painting class, build a trinket from recycled plastic sleds, check out live music or a theater performance though Breck Create . Downtown is walkable, there’s a free bus and in the summer, an e-bike share .

Best places to travel solo Tampa

4. Tampa, Florida

  • Where to stay: JW Marriott Water Street (from $299/night), Charming 1 Bedroom Airbnb (woman owned, from $115/night), Eclectic Cottage Airbnb (woman-owned, from $159/night).

Oft-overlooked for "beachier" Floridian destinations, Tampa has miles of protected paved path skirting the bay, where a jog, bike or scooter ride might yield a dolphin sighting. Explore from downtown through the Water Street district and Ybor City on the free Streetcar . Appreciate the entire panorama from Tampa’s highest rooftop, The Beacon , over a cocktail and some apps. Treat yourself to an aromatherapy massage or hydrafacial at the women-run spa at JW Marriott. Sip a cold brew by female co-founded Made Coffee , indulge in a sweet treat at woman-owned Bake n’ Babes or Sweet Mama’s Ice Cream . Also, woman-owned Vela Italian makes an amazing Benedict for breakfast, plus salads and pizzas for lunch or dinner. Get your water fix, too; Urban Kai and WhatSUP rent paddleboards and kayaks and offer group paddle tours and yoga.

A woman traveling solo in Santa FE

5. Santa Fe, New Mexico

  • Where to stay: Hotel Santa Fe Hacienda & Spa (Native American-owned, from $300/night), Bishop’s Lodge (from $799/night), Cozy Cottage Airbnb (woman-owned, from $68/night).

Whether your heart yearns for art, spice or an outdoor fix, Santa Fe has it all. Dried chilis hang from downtown lampposts and Native American artists line the exterior of the Palace of the Governors with handmade jewelry and ornaments. The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum brings a fascinating glimpse into the life of the famous American painter, while Meow Wolf is its own trippy experience. Soak up health benefits at woman-founded Santa Fe Salt Cave or explore Bandelier National Monument with women-dominated Great Southwest Adventures . Grab a cocktail over a lawn game and live music at Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery , reserve dinner at the James Beard-winning Sazon , savor New Mexico’s famous green (or red, or “Christmas” combination) chili at woman-founded institutions Tia Sophia’s , Tomasita’s and Maria’s or go gluten-free at women-owned Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen . Whip up your own southwest cuisine at the mother-founded, daughter-run Santa Fe School of Cooking . 

A woman traveling solo in Tucson

6. Tucson, Arizona

  • Where to stay:  The Downtown Clifton (woman-owned, from $109/night), The Armory Park Inn (woman-owned, from $199/night), Casa Bonita Tiny Home Airbnb (woman-owned, from $65/night). 

Surrounded by four mountain ranges, the most striking characteristic of this peaceful Southwest city is the saguaro cacti, which only grows in the Sonoran Desert. Entire hillsides feature these statuesque, multi-limbed plants, resembling armies of still, twisted soldiers. Soak up the Saguaro sights hiking Catalina State Park , Sabino Canyon or Dove Mountain. Home to the University of Arizona campus, downtown Tucson is walkable, but to venture afield, renting a car is your best option. More like a zoo, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a must-visit and requires a drive through the jaw-dropping Saguaro National Park . Nosh on tacos by chef Maria Mazon at Bocas Tacos , the best-ever salsa and sangria at woman-founded La Hacienda or Coralie Satta’s grandmother’s scrumptious recipes at Ghini’s French Café .

A woman traveling solo in Seattle

7. Seattle, Washington

  • Where to stay: The Maxwell Hotel (from $143/night), Cecil Bacon Manor Bed & Breakfast (from $102/night), Upscale, Elegant Cottage Airbnb (woman-owned, from $191/night).

Seattle emanates a safe, small-town vibe in neighborhoods like Queen Anne and Fremont on the outskirts of downtown (though, like any large city has its own issues with crime and an unhoused population). A light rail runs from the airport to downtown and Seattle was one of the first cities to launch a bike share program; both Bird and Lime e-bike and e-scooters can be found around the city. A foodie haven, Pike Place Market is where vendors (more than 250 of them woman-owned businesses ) fling fresh fish and a delightful chaos abounds. A chef-guided tour is the place to start, then hit the women-owned and managed Kamp Social House , Communion Restaurant & Bar and (vegan) Plum Bistro . Learn the art of coffee while caffeinating to your heart’s content in a coffee (and bakery!) crawl . Immerse in the water and fresh foliage surrounding the city with a woman-guided half-day guided hike to Twin and Snoqualmie waterfalls .

A woman traveling solo in Asheville

8. Asheville, North Carolina

  • Where to stay: The Restoration Hotel (from $204/night), Cambria Downtown Asheville (from $152/night), Solo Traveler’s Dream Airbnb (woman-owned, from $47/night).

For suds connoisseurs, this pretty town in the Blue Ridge Mountains is especially appealing with more than 50 breweries. Burial Beer Co. and The River Arts District Brewery are among the best, but take a guided walking tour for samples of several and the potential to land a pint pal. With 22 miles of trails surrounding America’s largest home (8,000 acres), the Biltmore Estate , make a day of your visit. For real hiking, hit the Lunch Rocks Trail or take a group waterfall tour . Downtown Asheville is walkable and the ART bus system travels to nearby destinations. Get creative with a glass-blowing or painting class at the River Arts District, which also hosts live music and poetry slams. Grab a treat from woman-owned Stay Glazed Donuts & Café , have a (another) pint over amazing 12 Bones barbecue or zone out over pizza and a movie at Asheville Pizza & Brewing . 

A woman traveling solo in Chicago

9. Chicago, Illinois

  • Where to stay: The Gwen Hotel (from $239/night) The Langham (from $396/night), Wicker Park Inn (woman-owned, from $208/night).

There are plenty of safe areas to stay (River North, The Loop, Lincoln Park) in the Windy City, an easy-to-navigate mass transit system and so much to do, see…and eat. Start with a guided food tour , a sampler of Chicago’s famous delights (hot dogs, deep dish pizza, Italian beef sandwich, the original brownie) as well as a crash course in the city’s layout and history. Get a unique vantage point from the water of Lake Michigan via a SUP or Kayak tour . Tackle the gamut of museums —the Field Museum, Adler Planetarium and Shedd Aquarium—at The Museum Campus and explore the architectural masterpiece that is Millennium Park , home to a constant lineup of workout sessions, live music and festivals. Join the parade of shoppers on Michigan Avenue, or for concerts, theater and (along with Second City ) comedy, visit The Chicago Theatre . Getting back to the food, especially the internationally inspired, upscale, female-powered variety, reserve an Italian dinner at Alpana , French at Brindille , Cajun at CheSa’s Bistro , or grab some casual fresh seafood at Brown Bag Seafood .

A woman traveling solo in Salk Lake City

10. Salt Lake City, Utah

  • Where to stay: Evo Hotel (from $110/night), The 1887 Hansen House Bed & Breakfast (woman-owned, from $199/night), Downtown Room Airbnb (woman-run, from $60/night).

Framed stunningly by the Wasatch Mountains, downtown SLC is somewhat wide-spread with long city blocks, but getting around town (including from the airport) is manageable by light rail , or by using the Greenbike share program. Outdoor explorers can hit the trails on the Foothills Trail System Plan . With that giant lake nearby, visit Great Salt Lake Marina for paddlesport rentals or bond with a group via a two-hour pontoon boat and swimming excursion . The Granary District is where to find the Evo Hotel , home to its own indoor skate park and indoor bouldering gym, The Bouldering Project . Sample local F & B at Woodbine Food Hall and mouth-watering cookies at woman-owned RubySnap . For pampering, book a facial or nail session at woman-owned SpaDAY and land your next favorite dress or scarf at woman-owned Zenzee.  

Tips for Women Traveling Solo

  • Pack wisely. Use a packing list and stick to it. Limit items that take up a lot of space like shoes. Slogging around with a heavy bag will get old fast. Packing cubes are great for staying organized.
  • Opt for a cross-body bag or purse , which is comfortable for walking and which protects against theft.
  • Stick to well-lit, populated streets .When walking at night, avoid walking alone in places without crowds.
  • Make sure the nearest public transportation stop is within a 10-minute walk. Plan in advance and know where and how to get to places.
  • Join a group excursion. You just might find your soulmate or new bestie or even just a person to check in with on your wanderlust.

How to Travel with a Carry-On Only (Because It Can Be Done)

purewow author

Freelance PureWow Editor

Local Flavor: the best places to eat and drink in Kansas City

Lauren Keith

May 31, 2024 • 7 min read

Copy of LOCAL FLAVOR - Title

Taste the diverse flavors of Kansas City with this guide to the best places to eat and drink © Joe's BBQ

Kansas City is synonymous with barbecue, but if you’re visiting just for the burnt ends, you’re missing out on the ever-expanding, diverse menu of flavors that KC dishes up daily – so save room.

Kansas City has been my oyster – or whatever the landlocked Midwestern equivalent is – since I moved here in 2022. I grew up in Kansas, about 200 miles southwest of KC, and visited Kansas City several times a year as a kid. After college, I moved to Europe, spending a year in Germany and a decade in London. But now that I’m back, it feels like I’ve arrived just in time – Kansas City is certainly on the cusp of something big .

It’s important for visitors to know their place in Kansas City – after all, the city confusingly straddles two states: Missouri and Kansas. Downtown Kansas City is on the Missouri side (KCMO), unless of course you’re talking about downtown KCK (Kansas City, Kansas). Suburbs sprawl in every direction beyond the downtown core, and while Kansas City became the first US city to offer free public transportation in 2020, you’ll want a car to get around if you’re short on time or heading to the suburbs.

Ready to get your glutton on? These are my favorite places to eat and drink in Kansas City on both sides of the state line.

Seeded Lox bagels

Breakfast (and brunch)

I’m a natural early bird, which comes in handy for some breakfast spots in Kansas City that close early or shut up shop when they sell out. On Troost Ave, Blackhole Bakery is best known for its mochi donuts, which come in so many flavors – grapefruit rosemary, chili mango, birthday cake – that you’ll have to visit more than once to try them all. The smoked salmon on roasted garlic from Meshuggah Bagels on 39th St is fast becoming a weekend staple. Both of these spots are small, and Meshuggah has just a few seats (Blackhole is carry-out only), so get your order to go and head to a nearby park.

It’s dangerously easy for me to walk to Succotash from my apartment, which I often do on Friday mornings before the weekend crowds descend. If I’m feeling indulgent, I order the Burrito of Love: scrambled eggs, bacon and cheese wrapped burrito-style in a buttermilk pancake. Travis Kelce, tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs and Taylor Swift’s boyfriend, loves this place too – he says Succotash’s French toast is "magical."

The Midwest is the land of wheat and meat, and ordering biscuits and gravy is often a good way to judge a restaurant’s breakfast caliber. Happy Gillis in the Columbus Park neighborhood is a top contender for the city’s best. District Biskuits in North Kansas City also serves B&G, but its fluffy, crumbly biscuits truly shine in its sandwiches. The Cure, a large biscuit stuffed with soft scrambled eggs, American cheese and bacon jam, fixes everything.

L: Queue outside Blip Coffee. R: Assortment of creamy iced-coffees

I’m the WFH type, which means that by 1pm, I’m looking for a coffee shop where I can spend the rest of the afternoon for a change of scenery. On my regular rotation are Blip , a coffee roaster that also stocks motorcycle merch in a huge industrial space in the warehouse-filled West Bottoms district; Post Coffee Company , a cute-as-a-button spot on Broadway with pressed-tin ceilings and delightful drinks; and Rochester Brewing & Roasting Company , which, as a maker of both cold brews and beers, perfectly assists the transition from working hard to hardly working.

Some of KC’s best coffee shops show off the city’s multicultural side. Café Corazón in the Crossroads district pours flavors from Latin America, including yerba mate, horchata lattes and – my personal favorite – the Mocha Azteca, made with Oaxacan chocolate. Cafe Cà Phê is the city’s first Vietnamese coffee shop, and its inclusive ethos welcomes all. The Hella Good, with Vietnamese espresso, ube (purple yam) syrup and oat milk, is one of its signature drinks, and I loved the adorable latte art atop my Dirty Thai-Ger, which mixes espresso with Thai iced tea.

Still thinking about visiting Kansas City? Here are 14 reasons why you should go

L: Mezze plate. R: Meat sandwich with melted cheese

Sandwiches might not be the sexiest of lunches, but Kansas City has several spots that might just be the best thing since sliced bread. If you don’t think a sandwich can be life-changing, then you haven’t been to Bay Boy , near the Country Club Plaza , a shopping district built in the 1920s that modeled its architecture after Seville, Spain. The Bandit, a roast beef sandwich with raspberry jam, sounds wrong, but after one bite, you’ll taste just how right it is. Weekday-only M&M Bakery is close to downtown but off the beaten track, and its Hook ‘Em Up sandwich is a masterpiece of pepper beef and turkey ham piled high on an onion roll. 

Swap the rolls for pita bread at Baba’s Pantry , a Palestinian-American deli that Bon Appetit named as one of the best new restaurants in the entire country in 2022. Nowhere else in town does falafel and chicken shawarma as good as this. For a special treat, stop by on Fridays at 5pm for kunafa , a traditional Palestinian dessert of thinly shredded pastry, sweet cheese and sugar syrup.

Kansas City BBQ with mac and cheese, meat sandwiches and drinks

Unsurprisingly, the most commonly asked Kansas City food question is the best place to eat barbecue, but if you ask four Kansas City residents, you’ll get seven or eight answers – and none of them are wrong. KC owes much of its legendary barbecue status to Henry Perry, a Black pitmaster who opened a barbecue restaurant in town in the early 1900s. Although Perry’s restaurant no longer exists, he trained apprentice pitmasters who carried on his craft at the thriving institutions of Gates Bar-B-Q and Arthur Bryant’s .

Kansas City barbecue has deep roots but continues to evolve, with a new generation of pitmasters firing up the smokers for their own takes on tradition. The Z-Man sandwich (sliced brisket, smoked provolone cheese and onion rings on a Kaiser roll) from Joe’s Kansas City Barbecue holds legendary status, best devoured at its original location in a gas station. In KCK, Slap's BBQ , well, slaps. (Its name is actually an acronym that stands for "Squeal Like a Pig.") Burnt ends – the fatty charred ends of brisket, like smoked beef crackling – are a Kansas City invention and a must-order here.

Want to shop in Kanas City? Pick out a unique souvenir in one of these great, independent stores

L: Crispy pork ribs. R: Creamy ceviche

For a decadent dinner close to downtown, Corvino is my top choice. The darkened dining room is perfect for a date night or a celebratory meal with friends. The menu is always shifting slightly, but the seaweed donuts with trout roe and cream to start are essential. Reservations are recommended, though you might be able to slip in without one at slower times. If you have a group (or are dining solo with a big stomach), head to the Antler Room and order as many of the small plates as you can handle. Options rotate frequently but might include fresh pasta, potato gyoza or grilled octopus.

Even though it opened only in April, I’ve already been to Green Dirt on Oak twice. This restaurant takes farm-to-table food seriously, sourcing many of its supplies from its own herd and patch of land in Weston, Missouri, about 30 miles northwest of Kansas City. The charcuterie boards are works of art.

For a cheaper and no-reservations-required option, eat your way through KCK’s Taco Trail . You might not have time to visit all 60 of the taquerias in this part of town, so prioritize Carniceria y Tortilleria San Antonio , a taco bar inside a grocery store, and the al pastor tacos at El Camino Real .

Fully-stocked bar in Kansas City and a close-up shot of a negroni cocktail

In the early 1900s, Kansas City was nicknamed the "Paris of the Plains" for its wide boulevards, lavish public fountains and its "sinful" nightlife that didn’t even stop during Prohibition, thanks to Tom Pendergast, a corrupt political boss who controlled KC for more than a decade from 1925. You’ll notice his name pop up at many modern Kansas City drinking establishments, from Swordfish Tom’s , a cocktail bar (one of the best in the city) in a basement boiler room, to Tom's Town , where you can spy the copper distilling vats through the bar’s windows, both located in the Crossroads district.

Take a drink of history at J Rieger & Co in the East Bottoms, forced to close during Prohibition but resurrected nearly a century later when it was reestablished by the founder’s great-great-great-grandson. Rieger’s old fashioned is one of my favorite drinks in town, and of course, the bar also pours a cocktail called Pendergast, with whiskey, sweet vermouth, Benedictine herbal liqueur and Angostura bitters.

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  • Solo Travel

I've Traveled Alone to 65 Countries – Here Are My Top 5 Destinations for Flying Solo

Where to find adventure, group activities, affordable luxury hotels, and total relaxation as a solo traveler.

Katie Jackson/Travel + Leisure

Lewis may have needed Clark, but for most trips, I think it’s OK to be a party of one. In fact, my favorite style of travel, # solotravel , is now trending on TikTok and in real life. But if there’s anything I’ve learned from adventuring alone in 65 countries, it’s this: some countries cater to lone wolves better than others. Whether you’re looking to lay on the beach, climb a volcano, or explore the big city, here are my top five destinations for flying solo. 

Giacomo Augugliaro/Getty Images

Western Europe’s most affordable country, Portugal has been my second home since 2016. Whether in Alentejo or the Algarve, I can always find a €2 glass of wine and five-star hotels, including IHG’s new Vignette Collection properties in Porto and Lisbon , for under €200 per night. It’s the fifth safest country in Europe, according to the Institute for Economics & Peace 2023 Global Peace Index (for comparison, Spain ranked 23rd and France 34th) and is home to the world’s largest standing wave. Since surfing solo is dangerous, I go with Onda Pura . In Lisbon , visit the Oceanário , voted the world’s best aquarium . Alone, you can linger at exhibits for as long as you want. I’ve traveled the country by train and bus, but I recommend renting a car for as little as €25 per day. Pro tip: Learn how to drive manual first.

South Africa

Katie Jackson/Travel + Leisure

While it’s not the safest country on the Mother Continent, ranking 32nd in Sub-Saharan Africa in the Global Peace Index , South Africa is the easiest for Americans to visit. United Airlines offers nonstop service from multiple U.S. cities to Cape Town, English is widely spoken, and there are restaurants catering to every diet. I use Facebook to join group hikes and dinners and Airbnb to book guided, local experiences. I recommend doing the “From Prisoner to President Tour” hosted by Nelson Mandela’s former prison guard and friend, Christo Brand . To visit the wineries, take the Franschhoek Tram . I’ve also enjoyed solo safaris. Alone, you can choose your start time (I hate waking up at 5:30 a.m. for game drives), and you always have the best seat. During low season, some lodges waive the single supplement. Year-round, the new Loapi Tented Camp only charges solo travelers 62% of what it would charge a couple. For travel within the country, book a package with a company like Kensington Tours ; it includes all transfers.

Since I lived in Nicaragua, I have an impressive collection of passport stamps from Costa Rica . It’s the safest place in Central America , and it offers everything from volcano trekking to beach hopping on two incredible coastlines. I want to check out the new SP Corcovado Wilderness Lodge , which hosts wellness retreats and is part of the Red Sofia Program (designed to make travel safer for single women). Meanwhile, in Monteverde, solo travelers can’t go wrong at Hotel Belmar where you don’t have to venture off site for adventure (book the canopy immersion and coffee tasting). For an all-inclusive, I recommend Secrets Papagayo .  It’s not the place to stay if you don't want to be around couples, but it’s adults-only and hosts theme nights, beach games, and cocktail parties where singles can mingle.

FilippoBacci/Getty Images

Good news! You don’t need to be with a romantic partner to visit the Maldives . I solo-mooned there and had a blast falling back in love with me, myself, and I. Highlights include visiting Coco Palm Dhuni Kohlu’s turtle rescue center , reading by my plunge pool (“Eat, Pray, Love” is a must for solo travelers), and when I wanted company, hitting up the beach barbecues. You also don’t have to be a millionaire. The island of Maafushi caters to backpackers, and even at a resort, I stayed under $350 per day. Have a bigger budget? Consider booking the Gili Solo Experience . Boasting an underwater suite and restaurant, the Conrad Maldives is also on my list. For flights, try Emirates ; round-trip fares from New York's JFK to Malé start at $1,265.

Not having anyone to split expenses with, domestic travel is cheapest. I explore my backyard in Montana where I staycate at Lone Mountain Ranch . With its queen bed, the Meadowlark Cabin is ideal for one, and the group activities offer opportunities to socialize. For an urban escape, I prefer New York City , where I stay at NH Collection New York Madison Avenue . Its lobby has a community table, fireplaces, and live jazz most nights. Since there’s no shame in doing the Great White Way without a date, I went to see “ The Notebook ” in April. Finding one center orchestra seat is easier than finding seats together. For getting around, use the MTA’s new OMNY credit/debit card tap program ; it’s the best value.

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    1. Kansas City, Missouri (Winner) This centrally located city is a favorite destination for Midwesterners. One popular area to explore is the Country Club Plaza, where you can find countless options for shopping, dining, and entertainment. Two of the best museums in town are the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the National WWI Museum and Memorial.

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    7. Washington, D.C. Washington, D.C. Washington, D.C. is the US capitol and home to some of the most famous sites and national treasures in America, from the White House and the Capitol Building to the Smithsonian museums. This city should be on everyone's itinerary of the East Coast.. In the spring, the Cherry Blossom Festival is a beautiful time to visit, when the trees are in full bloom.

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    From Dan of Cabin Critic. The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is the most popular national park in the US, hosting over 10 million annual visitors, and it definitely belongs on your bucket list for the USA. Located in Tennessee and North Carolina, the park has diverse animal life, plants, and natural attractions.

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    Currier Museum of Art: This is the best art museum in Manchester. Livingston Park: Livingston Park has a great running trail, a fishing pond, and beautiful towering trees. The Mall of New Hampshire: The Mall of New Hampshire shopping mall is one of the biggest malls in the state. 13.

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    19 | Denver, CO. Denver is the largest city in Colorado, and is noted for the beautiful mountains that surround the city. Denver has an active music scene and is known for being a very active/outdoorsy city. Denver has 300 days of sunshine a year, making it a great destination to visit all year.

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    The largest city in the country and the inspiration for countless movies, poems, TV shows, books, and songs, New York City is hands down one of the best places to visit in the U.S., according to rankings from U.S. News & World Report. "New York has a certain kind of magic, and arguably more to see and do than any other U.S. city," Hudson says.

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    7. Denali National Park, Alaska. Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers. Denali National Park is where you see a "who's who" of North American wildlife, including wolves, grizzly bears, caribou, and whatever the plural of moose is. It's easily one of the best places to visit in Alaska.

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    The Black Hills and Badlands in South Dakota. (Photo by Eddie Brady/The Points Guy) When you think of tourism in South Dakota, Mount Rushmore probably rushes to mind. And, yes, there's that. But also, there's Badlands National Park, with 244,000 acres of what could be described as a mix of Death Valley, Grand Canyon, Red Rock Canyon and Valley ...

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    Where to Stay: The Lowell (woman-owned; from $950/night), The Library Hotel (from $400/night), Civilian Hotel (from $179/night). With the subway operating at all hours, getting around one of the world's largest and most famous cities is quick and easy. Sheep Meadow on the west side of Central Park is a popular place to people watch or read a book. For theater, TodayTix.com has deals on last ...

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