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The 25 Best Places to Visit in the USA.
With so many diverse destinations in the United States, it’s hard to choose which places deserve the title of the best in America. To determine the best places to visit in the USA, The USA Traveler considered a variety of factors, such as attractions, accommodations, and dining options, as well as votes from thousands of travelers. Cast your vote below to have a say in next year’s list! Use this list for your vacation planning. If you’re looking for a hotel, see the Best Hotels in the USA.
Grand Canyon #1 Best Places to Visit in the USA
Grand” doesn’t begin to do this canyon justice. Measuring approximately 277 river miles in length, up to 18 miles in width, and a mile deep, this massive chasm in northern Arizona is truly a natural wonder. For 6 million years, the Grand Canyon has expanded with the help of the mighty Colorado River, and for centuries, people from all over the globe have traveled to gaze out over its red and orange grandeur. The Grand Canyon is managed by the National Park Service and is officially designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Grand Canyon leaves its approximately 6 million visitors per year awestruck.
Yosemite #2 Best Places to Visit in the USA
The Yosemite National Park boasts nearly 1,200 square miles of sheer awe-inspiring beauty:
- Towering waterfalls
- Ancient sequoia trees
- Striking cliff faces
- Some of the most unusual rock formations in the United States
However, most of the tourist activity takes place in the 8-square-mile area of Yosemite Valley. You’ll find the park’s most famous landmarks – Half Dome and El Capitan – as well as great hiking trails through the natural monuments. Even inexperienced hikers can have a great time at Yosemite: local adventure outfitters offer guided tours and climbing lessons. But don’t expect to see it all on your own. Crowds are the biggest obstacle to an enjoyable Yosemite vacation – approximately 4 million tourists visit each year. If you go at the right time (and get up a little earlier than usual), Mother Nature’s wonders will reveal themselves to you peacefully and miraculously.
Yellowstone #3 Best Places in the USA
Yellowstone National Park is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise with dramatic peaks and pristine lakes. Aquamarine pools swirl around hot springs, verdant forests weave through expansive meadows, and steaming geysers spew water into the skies. When John Colter (a scout for Lewis and Clark) first described Yellowstone’s geothermal curiosities in 1807, everyone suspected he exaggerated. Today, there is no doubt that the park is indeed extraordinary. Its 3,000-plus square miles of mountains, canyons, geysers, and waterfalls attract permanent residents like buffalo, elk, and sometimes even grizzlies.
Yellowstone attracts over 4 million visitors each year, but unless you spend your entire trip at Old Faithful, you won’t see much of them. Yellowstone extends from Wyoming into Idaho and Montana, offering 2.2 million acres of untouched terrain for exploration. Don’t miss Yellowstone Lake and Mammoth Hot Springs. Don’t forget the lesser-known trails, like West Thumb Geyser Basin, Lewis River Channel, and Dogshead Loop. Though the sheer number of trails and wildlife-watching opportunities may seem overwhelming at first, remember: You can always return.
Maui #4 Best Places to Visit in the USA
Maui’s beaches and verdant parks offer ample opportunities for relaxation. You can cruise along the Road to Hana, fly above the Hawaiian island in a helicopter, or lounge on the black sands of Waianapanapa State Park here while admiring the scenery. Sign up for a snorkeling tour if you’d instead cool off than sunbathe. Previous visitors recommend catching a sunrise or sunset from Haleakala Observatory for an unforgettable experience. It would be best if you also tried Maui’s seafood, but don’t overlook other island delicacies like haupia, a creamy coconut custard.
Glacier National Park #5 Best Places to Visit in the USA
The Glaciers are the main attraction in this Montana national park, but its more than 700 lakes, two mountain ranges, and multiple waterfalls are equally impressive. The park’s easy hiking trails, such as Rocky Point, and challenging routes like Grinnell Glacier and the Highline Trail are the most popular pastimes for visitors. Additionally, the area is a prime spot for canoeing and fishing in the summer and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. The site is also home to wild animals like moose, bears, and elk.
New York City #6 Best Places to Visit in the USA
Known for its diverse cultural scene, the Big Apple has more things to do than many of its U.S. counterparts. Whether you spend the day exploring the Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibits, taking in a Broadway show, or trying the City’s famous pizza, you’re sure never to get bored. If you need a break from the City’s busy streets and soaring skyscrapers, visit scenic Central Park or the artsy High Line.
San Francisco #7 Best Places to Visit in the USA
Many ethnic groups and social movements have influenced San Francisco’s culture. Explore the City by the Bay’s neighborhoods on foot or by cable car to get a sense of its character. From the Mission District to the Castro, you can find boutiques and restaurants serving nearly every kind of cuisine. Take a picnic at Mission Dolores Park or take a boat ride to Alcatraz Island to learn more about the City’s history. Prepare yourself for the steep hills by wearing sturdy walking shoes.
New Orleans #8 Best Places to Visit in the USA
The Big Easy’s culture is one of the most unique in America. New Orleans has a unique personality with influences from the Caribbean, Europe, and other places. There are a variety of music scenes in New Orleans, including jazz, blues, and rock ‘n’ roll. History buffs will enjoy attractions such as the National WWII Museum and the New Orleans African American Museum. Between sightseeing, foodies can feast on gumbo, beignets, and po’boys. After you’ve filled up on tasty food, check out Bourbon Street’s nightlife or take a ghost tour.
Zion National Park #9 Best Places to Visit in the USA
In Utah’s Zion National Park, you are surrounded by breathtaking views. Hikers recommend trekking the Angels Landing trail, which offers challenging switchbacks and thrilling heights. There is also the accessible Pa’rus Trail and the more challenging Narrows, which lead hikers through the narrowest section of Zion Canyon. Canyoneering, which combines rappelling, swimming, and hiking, is a must-do on any visit.
Honolulu – Oahu #10 Best Places to Visit in the USA
Oahu offers a nice mix of urban and beach environments. The weather in this Hawaiian paradise is pleasant year-round, so there is no wrong time to visit. If you visit Waikiki Beach, be prepared for a barrage of tourists. You’ll find more elbow room at secluded parks like Waimanalo Bay Beach Park and Kalama Park. Before leaving Honolulu, visit the Pearl Harbor National Memorial and the Battleship Missouri Memorial.
Kauai #11 Best Places to Visit in the USA
Kauai, nicknamed the Garden Island, stands out from the other Hawaiian Islands because of its breathtaking natural beauty. Kauai limits its buildings to no taller than a coconut palm, so locals and travelers can enjoy excellent views from the island’s pristine beaches. Those who venture inland will find lush areas like Koke’s State Park and Wailua River State Park. Kauai’s distance from the mainland and abundance of high-end hotels make it a costly destination, so book your flights and accommodations in advance.
Grand Teton National Park #12 Best Places to Visit in the USA
In Wyoming, the Grand Teton National Park is home to the snow-capped Teton Mountains, the Snake River, Jackson and Jenny lakes, wildflower fields, swamps, and more. The park’s natural beauty can be enjoyed by hiking to scenic spots such as Inspiration Point and Phelps Lake Overlook, or you can explore the area by boat or car. Keep a watchful eye on the horizon, though, as moose, elk, bears, and bison all roam the park.
Washington, D.C. #13 Best Places to Visit in the USA
The nation’s capital has a lot to offer. Spend your days visiting iconic landmarks like the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. On rainy or hot days, the City’s Smithsonian museums provide plenty of entertainment. Explore D.C.’s green spaces, including the Washington Arboretum and Rock Creek Park. An afternoon stroll along the Georgetown waterfront is also a relaxing way to spend the day. Don’t forget to check out the City’s lively restaurant and bar scene on U Street and H Street.
Lake Tahoe #14 Best Places to Visit in the USA
The largest alpine lake in North America attracts active travelers year-round with its clear water. The winter months draw skiers and snowboarders to Lake Tahoe’s many resorts, while summer brings hikers, scenic drives, and lake activities like kayaking and boating. Golfers looking to improve their game can also find many courses in the area. You can trek one of California and Nevada’s beer trails or enroll in an outdoor aerial fitness class for an active vacation with a twist.
Moab #15 Best Places to Visit in the USA
Moab is conveniently located in eastern Utah, allowing travelers to visit not just one but two national parks – Arches and Canyonlands. When you’re not admiring the parks’ otherworldly red rock formations, explore downtown Moab, which boasts a charming selection of cafes, shops, and food trucks. Or take a rafting trip down the Colorado River. In Moab, mountain biking, Jeep tours, cross-country skiing, and even snowshoeing are popular activities. Since the town experiences less than 10 inches of rainfall per year, it’s an ideal location for outdoor adventures.
Bar Harbor #16 Best Places to Visit in the USA
Maine’s Mount Desert Island town provides a great home base for exploring Acadia National Park. Along with its cozy bed-and-breakfast accommodations, Bar Harbor offers mouth-watering waterfront dining and locally-owned shops with unique Maine souvenirs. In summer, Mount Desert Island’s waters are a famous feeding ground for whales.
San Diego #17 Best Places to Visit in the USA
San Diego appeals to a wide range of vacationers. Activities in the City range from hiking in Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve – located just north of the City – to surfing at Mission and Pacific beaches. Foodies won’t want to miss the City’s central Gaslamp Quarter, which features a variety of bars and restaurants serving fresh seafood, authentic Mexican cuisine, craft beer, and more. Other must-dos include:
- Wandering around museum-filled Balboa Park.
- Take a quick ferry ride to Coronado Island.
- Watching the sunset in La Jolla.
Jackson Hole #18 Best Places to Visit in the USA
The isolated location of Jackson Hole in western Wyoming attracts outdoorsy types in droves. Jackson Hole is a ski resort and hiking destination that Grand Teton National Park borders and national forests and fly-fishing, mountain biking, paragliding, and more. During the warmer months, Jackson Hole’s Town Square offers shops, art galleries, bars, and restaurants, as well as Wild West-themed reenactments on certain evenings.
Boston #19 Best Places to Visit in the USA
There is something for every type of traveler in the Massachusetts capital. As well as the Freedom Trail, which connects Boston Common and Bunker Hill Monument, Fenway Park is a must-see attraction for baseball fans. Boston is also home to numerous pubs, food markets, shopping opportunities, and top-notch universities are known for their charming architecture, picturesque green spaces, and wicked intelligent students.
Boston is featured in our recent article “11 Best Weekend Getaways in New England“! Don’t forget about the Best Things or the best hotels.
Chicago #20 Best Places to Visit in the USA
Travelers with various interests will enjoy the architecture, cuisine, and museums of Windy City. It would help if you stuffed your face at least once, whether with a Chicago-style hot dog (without ketchup), an Italian beef sandwich, or a slice of deep-dish pizza. Get your photo taken in front of Millennium Park’s iconic “Bean” sculpture, explore the Art Institute of Chicago’s outstanding collections, or go on an architecture river cruise. Pack your warmest clothes and head to Maggie Daley Park for ice skating if you are visiting in winter.
Big Sur #21 Best Places to Visit in the USA
This California coastline is not designed for swimming, but it’s a great place to take Instagram-worthy photos. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and Pfeiffer Beach offer some of the best views of the jagged rocks and turquoise water, but Sand Dollar Beach is the best place to relax. In addition, hikers can traverse the crisscross Andrew Molera State Park trails, spanning 4,800 acres. If you pass through Big Sur, you should stop by the historic Bixby Bridge for a quick photo.
Aspen #22 Best Places to Visit in the USA
The Colorado mountain town offers world-renowned ski slopes, high-end boutiques, and trendy restaurants, as well as an out-of-the-ordinary atmosphere. Additionally to the downhill slopes at Aspen Snowmass, there are plenty of Nordic trails in the area for cross-country skiers. The most popular activity for most visitors is skiing, but you can also spend your vacation hiking the Maroon Bells or biking the 20-mile Independence Pass. Enjoy panoramic mountain views from Aspen’s gondola before leaving.
Sedona #23 Best Places to Visit in the USA
Vacationers who love the outdoors will love Sedona. This Arizona town is famous for its red rock formations, ancient cliff dwellings, and supposed energy vortexes, which can be accessed via various hiking trails. Sedona’s trails also permit mountain biking, while the area’s red rocks attract climbers. Visitors can tap into Sedona’s spiritual side during treatments, yoga sessions, or healing rituals after an active day outside at the town’s award-winning spas.
Seattle #24 Best Places to Visit in the USA
This City in the Pacific Northwest may be known for its consistently rainy weather, but it has plenty to offer travel enthusiasts. Get a cup of coffee first. After getting your caffeine fix, enjoy the laid-back vibe of Seattle, the undisputed epicenter of this popular beverage. Spend your time at Pike Place Market, then hike Mount Si’s trails southeast of the city center. Peruse the Seattle Art Museum exhibits and the Olympic Sculpture Park for a taste of Seattle’s art scene.
Miami #25 Best Places to Visit in the USA
Visit this melting pot of cultures in South Florida. The vibrant food and nightlife scenes alone are worth the trip, so try a frita (a Cuban-style hamburger) in Little Havana before dancing the night away in one of the countless clubs. If you don’t enjoy dancing, Miami offers a variety of museums filled with art, history, and culture exhibits; some visitor favorites include the Perez Art Museum Miami and The Bass. Moreover, the City is close to the famous sands of Miami Beach.