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68 Best Places to Visit in the USA in 2024 (Ultimate Bucket List)

Posted on Last updated: January 12, 2024

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Charlotte Bailey

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Working on your USA bucket list? Well, then you’ll love this list of the most mind-blowing places to visit in the USA!

Bustling cities, quaint towns, spectacular national parks, lively beaches, and out-of-this-world islands. America is a great country with incredible people and sights–that’s a fact.

While there are many popular places to travel in the US, there are a bunch of beautiful places equally impressive, but that doesn’t get as much of the bulk of the attention.

Well, that’s about to change. I’ve put together a list of the best places to visit in the USA in most states. How does that sound?

It was pretty challenging to keep a list of 68 places because the country is dotted with must-visit spots, and I wanted to make sure you were inspired about different types of destinations.

Still, I asked locals and travelers with personal experience who have spent years traveling to all corners of the United States. They told me below (some) of the best places to travel in the US, and I genuinely hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did (to be honest, I LOVED it!).

Also, I hope this article will sparkle your wanderlust and that you’ll add many of these places to your USA bucket list.

Table of Contents

How I Structured This USA Bucket List

To make it more organized, I divided this article into the best places to travel to in the US by category, so cities, towns, national parks, beaches, islands, and some other places and experiences. I hope you enjoy it!

Best Cities to Visit in the USA

Here are the best cities to travel to in the US in no particular order.

1. Austin, Texas

Exploring the city’s graffiti walls is one of the things to do on a weekend in Austin

Austin, Texas , lacks professional sports teams but boasts sunny weather and celebrates Eeyore’s birthday annually.

As the capital and fourth-most populous city in Texas, Austin is renowned as the state’s most progressive, earning the nickname “Hippie Haven.”

Notable features include the only nude beach in Texas , which is a short day trip from Downtown , old-fashioned moonlight towers, and the largest urban bat colony in North America at Congress Avenue Bridge during spring and summer evenings.

While staying in Austin , be sure to hit up the Cathedral of Junk, grab a tour of all the highlights, sip some local beer , and don’t pass up an opportunity to indulge in a local culinary favorite: breakfast tacos–a must in any Austin itinerary !

If you’re more into nature, there are many hiking trails in Austin worth checking out, both throughout the city but also in nearby state parks . This can honestly be a super romantic things to do with your significant other , but it can also be a fantastic activity for those visiting Austin with kids .

Austin, with its unique charm, is a must on any USA bucket list, and the Museum of the Weird is a fascinating attraction to explore.

Things to do in Austin

  • Check out the Congress Bridge Bats
  • Take a swim in Barton Springs
  • Stroll around Zilker Park
  • Enjoy Live Music

Where to stay in Austin

Here’s a handy article about excellent Vrbos and Airbnbs in Austin , including lofts and townhouses.

You might also like: 11 Festive Ways to Celebrate Christmas in Austin

2. Boston, Massachusetts

Dining at the top of the Hub is one of the romantic things to do in Boston

Boston, the capital of Massachusetts, is one of the oldest U.S. cities, dating back to 1630.

Rich in history, it played a pivotal role in Puritan settlement and the Revolutionary War.

Today, Boston is a top urban vacation spot, attracting around 19 million domestic and three million international tourists annually.

History enthusiasts can explore Faneuil Hall and other landmarks like The Paul Revere House, Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, Old South Meeting House, and Freedom Trail.

Beyond history, Boston is celebrated for its New England seafood and craft beers, making it an enjoyable destination for couples and visitors alike.

Things to do in Boston

  • Wander around Boston Common and the Public Garden
  • Catch a ball game at Fenway Park
  • Take in the beautiful Steward Gardner Museum
  • Walk the Freedom Trail

3. Seattle, Washington

Public Market Center in Seattle

Seattle, Washington, the urban heart of the Pacific Northwest, is a must for coffee lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, and seafood aficionados.

Nestled in an ecologically diverse region with stunning beaches and mountains, Seattle offers the unique experience of sunbathing in the morning and skiing or mountain biking in the afternoon.

Harbor cruise tours provide a serene alternative for nature appreciation. Key attractions include the Seattle Space Needle, Fremont Troll, Gum Wall, and the Museum of Flight, with Kerry Park offering a picture-perfect view of the skyline.

Just like Boston on the East Coast, Seattle boasts outstanding seafood, particularly delectable oysters.

Whether you have one or three days in Seattle , don’t miss the chance to savor a cup of coffee at the original Starbucks in Pike Place Market.

Just for fun: posting any pictures of the city on Instagram? Check out here my favorite quotes about Seattle so you can use them in your captions!

Things to do in Seattle

  • Shop and eat at Pike Place Market
  • Climb the iconic Space Needle
  • Be in awe at Chihuly Garden and Glass
  • Join a harbor cruise tour

Where to stay in Seattle

I wrote a handy guide on exactly where to stay in Seattle to make your trip planning experience less overwhelming. I hope it helps!

4. Houston, Texas

visiting Space Center Houston is one of the best things to do in Houston, Texas

Houston, Texas , the most populous city in the Southern United States and the country’s largest by area, is more than just a financial hub.

A weekend in Houston offers a taste of its vibrant and diverse atmosphere. The Houston Galleria, a four-story retail haven with 375 stores, is a must-visit, especially during Christmas .

For civic engineering enthusiasts, the seven-mile underground pedestrian tunnel links 95 blocks, 20 feet below the surface.

Nature enthusiasts can explore the city’s 337 parks with endless hiking trails , including the Houston Arboretum, and visit the Museum of Natural Science. There are also a bunch of pleasant state parks and beaches near Houston .

Popular tourist attractions include Old Market Square, Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark, and the Space Center, ideal for those visiting with kids . Houston’s thriving food scene caters to every palate, from vegan gourmet to down-home BBQ.

Chinatown and the Mahatma Gandhi District offer diverse Asian flavors, while local beer, Houston breweries , and rooftop bars add to the culinary experience.

For a romantic dining experience , Houston boasts numerous romantic and rooftop restaurants .

Good to know: the best times to visit Houston are between February through April and September through November, when the weather is best.

Things to do in Houston

  • Learn about the dark sky at Space Center Houston
  • Grab something to eat at Chinatown
  • Check out the Museum of Natural Science
  • Stroll around Buffalo Bayou Park

5. New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana is another winter vacation in the US not to miss

Known for its vibrant Mardi Gras celebrations, New Orleans offers year-round excitement, making it an ideal romantic getaway in the US .

Rooted in French and Spanish influences, the city boasts unique culinary, cultural, and musical traditions. The motto “Laissez les bon temps rouler” reflects its lively spirit.

Enjoying the French Quarter’s ambience with live jazz and buskers is a tradition, with numerous restaurants to explore.

Art and history enthusiasts can visit the National World War II Museum, New Orleans Museum of Art, and the Besthoff Sculpture Garden.

Don’t miss touring the oldest cathedral in the US, St. Louis Cathedral, built in 1718. Plan your weekend trip between December and May to avoid the sweltering hurricane season from June to November .

Things to do in New Orleans

  • Wander through the French Quarter
  • Go bar hopping on Bourbon Street
  • Take a Voodoo tour
  • Fill up with Creole food

Where to stay in New Orleans

Oh, New Orleans! This bustling and colorful city has so much to offer, right? I know there is a lot to see, and you might be wondering what area would be best to stay so you can be near all the attractions. That’s why I wrote this super useful guide on where to stay in New Orleans . It has a nice summary of my favorite hotels in the city. I hope it’s useful to you!|

Read next: 15 Ways to Celebrate Christmas in New Orleans

6. Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta, Georgia is one of the warm winter vacations in the US

Atlanta , the seventh-most visited city in the United States , is a modern metropolis rooted in the South, nestled at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.

As Georgia’s most populated region, it features three distinct skylines: downtown, midtown, and the upscale district of Buckhead, often referred to as the Beverly Hills of Atlanta.

Downtown is a bustling commercial and retail hub, while midtown combines residential areas with vibrant clubs and restaurants .

Atlanta’s appeal as a top U.S. destination lies in attractions like the world’s largest aquarium, the Georgia Aquarium, as well as Legoland, Six Flags Over Georgia, numerous museums, and parks.

The city’s thriving lounge and club scene caters to diverse tastes, from honky-tonk to hip-hop. Atlanta is also known for its festivals, offering a variety of options to coordinate with your weekend trip .

Things to do in Atlanta

  • Learn about ocean life at the Georgia Aquarium
  • Take in the beautiful flora at the Atlanta Botanical Garden
  • Check out Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site
  • Get curious at the World of Coca-Cola

Where to stay in Atlanta

I wrote this article with a short list of my favorite hotels in Atlanta, Georgia to help you plan a fantastic trip to the Big A. Still, if you’re visiting it with your S.O., you might want to read this other article about my favorite romantic getaways in the city .

7. Orlando, Florida

Orlando, Florida is one of the best spring break destinations in the US

Orlando, a top global tourism destination, offers attractions like Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, Legoland, Madame Tussauds, Universal Orlando, Fun Spot America, and the Kennedy Space Center.

With over 100 lakes offering recreational activities, Orlando is a diverse destination featuring family-friendly restaurants, golf courses, and outlet shopping malls.

The city’s vibrant theatre and live music scene, along with tourist-friendly nightlife, add to its appeal.

Visitors can easily find deals in Orlando and explore nearby beaches to experience the Sunshine State’s coastal beauty.

Things to do in Orlando

  • Drink butter beer at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
  • Have lots of fun at Universal’s Islands of Adventure
  • Be in awe at Discovery Cove
  • Have your dreams come true in the Magic Kingdom Park

8. San Francisco, California

San Francisco, California is one of the most romantic getaways in the United States

San Francisco, among the most expensive yet charming cities in the country, boasts famous landmarks like the Painted Ladies, Pier 39, Lombard Street, and the iconic Golden Gate, the most famous bridge in America .

Ideal for architecture enthusiasts and those fond of old-timey throwbacks like the city’s trolley system, San Francisco also offers diverse museums covering modern art, science, and selfies.

Families can explore the Walt Disney Family Museum and the Exploratorium, while true crime enthusiasts shouldn’t miss the Alcatraz tour . For couples, San Francisco provides a range of options for a fun date night , including wine bars , parks, and adventurous outings.

Despite California’s sunny reputation, San Francisco is cooler, with nighttime temperatures in June and July ranging between the mid-50s and mid-60s, so it’s wise to pack light sweaters.

Things to do in San Francisco

  • Go on an Alcatraz tour
  • Photograph the Golden Gate Bridge
  • Check out the historic cable cars
  • Say aww to the sea lions basking at Pier 39

9. San Diego, California

Visiting the Botanical Building is one of the things to do in one day in San Diego

San Diego, known as America’s Finest City, should be on every USA bucket list. Enjoying great weather year-round, the city offers beautiful beaches, surfable waves, and stunning sunsets, making it an ideal vacation destination, even for just a day in San Diego .

Explore Balboa Park for museums and galleries, and visit the historic district with buildings dating back to the 1700s.

Seagoing enthusiasts can discover notable vessels at the San Diego Maritime Museum, including the Star of India. The iconic San Diego Zoo, renowned for its cageless exhibits, is a major tourist attraction.

For foodies, the Gaslamp Quarter is the place to be, offering Mexican cuisine and seafood, while Little Italy provides delightful Italian fare, especially if you’re planning on going on a fun date in San Diego .

After dining, take a stroll through the Midway Museum or Seaport Village for a perfect end to your day in San Diego.

Things to do in San Diego

  • Check out the incredible equipment and airplanes at USS Midway Museum
  • Don’t miss the cuties at San Diego Zoo
  • Photograph the sea lions in La Jolla Cove
  • Stroll around the Balboa Park

10. Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois is one of the best spring break destinations in the US

Chicago, often called the Windy City, is situated along Lake Michigan and is a global attraction for its vibrant art scenes, distinctive architecture, cultural offerings, and excellent shopping.

Renowned as a focal point for 20th-century art and architecture, the city features works by Picasso, Chagall, and Frank Lloyd Wright.

Chicago is home to world-class museums like the Art Institute of Chicago, housing diverse artworks spanning thousands of years in various media, including sculpture, painting, decorative arts, architectural drawings, and impressionist and post-impressionist paintings.

For stunning views , visit Millennium Park in downtown Chicago, where the Cloud Gate sculpture reflects its surroundings and the nearby Crown Fountain projects images into flowing water, creating a unique visual experience.

Things to do in Chicago

  • See why the Art Institute of Chicago is the only museum in the world to be top-ranked by TripAdvisor four years in a row
  • Stroll around the Millennium Park
  • Take a selfie in front of the Cloud Gate, aka The Bean
  • Check out Chicago Architecture Center

11. Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada is one of the best spring break destinations in the US

For gambling enthusiasts, Las Vegas, Nevada, with its 30 flashy casinos on the main strip and numerous others on side streets, is the ultimate destination in the United States.

However, if gambling isn’t your preference, Las Vegas still offers a plethora of over-the-top experiences in the original “Sin City.”

From themed resorts like the Venetian to the French ambiance of Paris Las Vegas, the city is a glittering adult theme park.

Las Vegas is known for its extravagant options, with world-renowned chefs and opportunities for free food through deals and complimentary buffets.

The city also stands out with its never-ending entertainment choices and lively daytime pool parties, making it the perfect place for those ready to let loose and have fun.

Still, if you also want to enjoy the surroundings, consider going on a day trip to one of the many national parks near Las Vegas . You’ll be surprised at how many places you can visit near Las Vegas by car .

Things to do in Las Vegas

  • Watch the show at the Fountains of Bellagio
  • Hike at Red Rock Canyon
  • Be in awe at the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Garden
  • Be blinded by the lights at The Strip

12. Charlotte, North Carolina

Charlotte is one of the best places to visit in the US

Charlotte, North Carolina, once the fastest-growing city in the country in the aughts, has evolved into a world-class destination, making it a must-visit on any USA bucket list.

Home to the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, the city hosts major events like the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 and the Wells Fargo Golf Championship, with the NASCAR Hall of Fame catering to driving enthusiasts.

Cultural offerings include the renowned Charlotte Ballet, and for Renaissance festival enthusiasts, the Carolina Renaissance Festival operates in October and November.

Popular annual events like Taste of Charlotte, Moo and Brew Fest, and the Yiasou Greek Festival add to the vibrant scene.

Referred to as the Queen City, Charlotte boasts stellar restaurants, attracting foodies looking for a unique weekend getaway.

To avoid crowds, plan your visit between March and May or September and November, as summer tends to be the most crowded travel season in Charlotte.

Things to do in Charlotte

  • Learn more about Billy Graham and his message of God’s love at Billy Graham Library
  • Enjoy amazing artifacts, interactive exhibits, and simulator rides at NASCAR Hall of Fame
  • Have lots of fun Carowinds
  • Learn a bunch about science at Discovery Place Science

13. Washington, DC

Washington is one of the best places to visit in the US

Washington, DC, home to crucial buildings like the White House and Capitol, is a quintessential destination for Americans, attracting nearly 25 million tourists annually.

Allocate a day for exploring the monuments and consider educational double-decker city tours .

History enthusiasts can view the nation’s founding documents at the National Archives Museum. Notable annual events include the Cherry Blossom Festival in spring and July 4th celebrations in summer.

While Washington, DC, is beautiful year-round, it’s an excellent choice for winter and fall vacations in the US , offering a quieter experience without the crowds.

Things to do in Washington DC

  • Photograph Lincoln Memorial
  • Have an incredible and free experience at the National Gallery of Art
  • Learn about wildlife at Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
  • Take a tour at the Library of Congress

14. New York, New York

New York is one of the best places to visit in the US

New York City, famously known as “The Big Apple,” is a must on the USA bucket list, being arguably the most famous city globally.

Renowned for Broadway shows, it houses top museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Museum of Natural History, Guggenheim, MOMA, Whitney, and the Cloisters.

The city features iconic parks like Central Park, Prospect Park, and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Explore the diverse neighborhoods, each with its unique personality, from Harlem’s cultural roots to SoHo’s art enclave and the Upper West Side’s old-money stronghold.

New York offers a life-changing experience, and its incredible restaurants include the historic Lombardi’s in Little Italy, serving some of the best pizza.

With an impressive 38 eateries holding Michelin stars, New York promises a culinary delight. Bon appétit!

Things to do in New York City

  • Take a stroll around Central Park
  • Pay your respect at the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum
  • Climb the Empire States Building
  • Experience one of the best museums in the world, the Metropolitan Museum of Art

15. Miami, Florida

Miami is one of the best places to visit in the US

Miami, one of the best vacation cities in the United States, boasts aqua waters, eclectic architecture, and a vibrant party vibe. Its golden-sand beaches are stunning, attracting a stylish crowd.

The city is an art hub with galleries lining palm-lined streets, hosting major international exhibits and festivals like Biennale.

Notable museums include the Pérez Art Museum Miami and The Bass, with science enthusiasts recommended to visit The Philip at Patricia Frost Museum of Science.

Miami’s legendary nightlife beckons, so don comfortable dancing shoes. Before hitting the night scene, fuel up at one of the incredible restaurants in Little Havana.

Things to do in Miami

  • Hit the beach, I mean, it’s Miami baby
  • Take in the beauty of Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
  • Photograph the colorful Wynwood Walls
  • Eat and drink at Bayside Marketplace

16. Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia is one of the best spring break destinations in the US

Savannah, Georgia , stands out as one of the most beautiful places in the USA with cobblestone streets, manicured parks, and Victorian mansions.

A slightly more conservative cousin to New Orleans, Savannah shares a love for jazz, great food, and throwback architecture, offering a more buttoned-up and slower-paced atmosphere.

Situated on the Savannah River, the city was once a crucial port in early America, evident in landmarks like the oldest black church, First African Baptist (1777), and the third oldest synagogue, Mickve Israel (1735).

For incredible photos, explore Wormsloe Historic Site, Olde Pink House, Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, Owens-Thomas House, E Bryant Street (Rainbow Row), Forsyth Park, and the Historic District.

Savannah’s notable features include 22 squares, famous cemeteries, historic forts, and excellent shopping on Broughton and Bull Streets.

To experience the spookier side, take a Savannah Ghost Tour . Comfortable walking shoes are a must to explore the city’s stunning streets. Visiting in December? Savannah is a delightful place during Christmastime .

Things to do in Savannah

  • Wander through Savannah Historic District
  • Take in the gorgeous Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
  • Relax at Forsyth Park
  • Go on a Savannah Ghost Tour

Where to stay in Savannah

Savannah is easily among my favorite US cities! There are many hotels with exquisite architecture you can stay on, many of which are the perfect weekend getaway from Atlanta .

17. Portland, Oregon

Portland is one of the best places to visit in the US

“Keep Portland Weird” defines Oregon’s largest city, living up to its promise with quirky traditions like residents knitting for trees.

Nestled on the banks of the Willamette River and at the foothills of Mount Hood, Portland is a lush emerald city boasting 10,000 acres of public parks, including serene spots like the Japanese Garden and the International Rose Garden.

Explore Forest Park, one of the country’s most extensive urban forests, or visit landmarks like Old Town, Pioneer Square, and the iconic Portland Stag sign.

For outdoor enthusiasts, the surrounding area offers miles of hiking trails and camping grounds, with Multnomah Falls, Portland’s scenic highlight, just 40 minutes away.

Urban dwellers can enjoy the vibrant Pearl District, buzzing with restaurants, cafes, shops, galleries, and theaters.

Don’t leave without trying Portland’s culinary stars: ice cream at Salt & Straw and a doughnut from Voodoo.

Things to do in Portland

  • Smell the flowers at the International Rose Test Garden
  • Don’t miss Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
  • Walk the pathways at Portland Japanese Garden
  • Check out Pittock Mansion

18. San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio is one of the places to add to your  USA bucket list

San Antonio , my favorite city in the Lone Star State, is an ideal November destination. A weekend here involves romantic River Walk dining and exploring historical missions, a cherished activity in the Texas Hill Country .

While the infamous Alamo is a highlight, San Antonio boasts six historic missions collectively forming the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.

Mission San Jose stands out as the most crucial, offering an intact glimpse into the past with Native American living quarters, a church, workshops, and more.

My personal favorite, Mission Concepcion, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the oldest unrestored mission in the country, featuring a frozen-in-time chapel.

A visit to the iconic Alamo, with its pivotal role in Texas history and associations with figures like James Bowie, Davy Crockett, and William Travis, completes the mission experience.

Things to do in San Antonio

  • Savor Southern comfort food in a local restaurant
  • Sip Texan beer in one of the breweries in town
  • Enjoy warm days in a beach
  • Or go on a day trip to a state park and discover many hiking trails in the region
  • Stroll around a park in the city

Where to stay in San Antonio

The Alamo’s is located right downtown next to historic hotels and places to stay like The Menger and Crockett Hotel , or choose any of the many hotels on the River Walk . Like everywhere in Texas, you’ll need a car to get around because the missions are spread out across San Antonio.

Erin from Sol Salute

Read next: 16 Best National Park in Texas

19. Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles is one of the places to add to your USA bucket list

Los Angeles, the hub of the American film industry, is more than just wealth and glamour. Science enthusiasts can explore the La Brea Tar Pits, showcasing prehistoric fossils dating back 40,000 years.

For sun-seekers, Los Angeles offers beaches like Santa Monica, Malibu, Venice, Manhattan, and Hermosa—ideal for people-watching. The city boasts a wealth of museums, including the Grammy Museum, Natural History Museum, and the Museum of Broken Relationships.

Families can enjoy Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood, while those seeking a fun date can explore various options. For a glimpse into luxury living, Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive are must-visit destinations.

Keep an eye out for celebrities, but remember, approaching them for selfies may not be well-received.

Things to do in Los Angeles

  • Take in the LA from Griffith Observatory
  • Marvel at world-class art of the Getty Center
  • Get ready for lots of fun at Universal Studios Hollywood
  • Visit the iconic Battleship USS Iowa Museum

20. Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville is one of the best places to visit in the US

Known as “Music City,” Nashville, Tennessee , is to country music as Los Angeles is to motion pictures. 

It’s home to the Country Music Hall of Fame, Johnny Cash Museum, Glen Campbell Museum, and the legendary Ryman Auditorium.

The Grand Ole Opry — America’s cathedral to gospel, country, and bluegrass — is also a Nashville staple.

In the mood for a gorgeous stroll? Head to the city’s 55-acre botanical garden.

If you’d rather walk and shop, make a beeline for the Gulch and 12th South, both neighborhoods are filled with locally owned boutiques and restaurants .

Good to know: Understand that you cannot buy liquor on Sundays in Nashville — and ice tea is called sweet tea.

Things to do in Nashville

  • Tour the famous grand Ole Opry
  • Have drinks at Ole Smoky Distillery & Yee-Haw Brewery
  • Catch a concert at Ryman Auditorium
  • Check out Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Where to stay in Nashville

If you’re spending more than one day in the city, here’s a guide on where to stay in Nashville that will get your hotel search started.

Best Small Towns to Visit in the USA

Here are the best small towns to travel to in the US in no particular order.

21. Fredericksburg, Texas

Fredericksburg is one of the best places in the US

Fredericksburg, Texas , a charming German town with deep roots (and restaurants ), might not be on every USA bucket list, but it’s on mine for its unique history.

Founded in 1846 and named after Prince Frederick of Prussia, it was a stronghold of Texas German, a dialect favored by Bavarian immigrants.

The city is a geographical marvel with notable rock formations like Enchanted Rock, Balanced Rock, and Cross Mountain. Known as the Peach Capital of Texas, Fredericksburg is a peach lover’s paradise.

Adding to its appeal, Fredericksburg boasts world-class wineries , making it a great destination for wine enthusiasts.

While staying in Fredericksburg , stock up on peaches and consider a wine tour , but avoid traveling between June and August due to the intense heat.

Things to do in Fredericksburg

  • Sip Texan wine on a wine tour
  • Learn about the town’s German roots
  • Pay the National Museum of the Pacific War a visit
  • Climb the Enchanted Rock

Where to stay in Fredericksburg

Good to know: while there are a bunch of incredible Airbnbs in Fredericksburg to enjoy a laid-back getaway, you’ll want to stay in one of these romantic cabins if you’re traveling with your significant other.

22. Stanley, Idaho

Stanley is one of the places to visit in the US

Most people associate Idaho with potatoes, but Stanley ranks as one of the best USA travel destinations for people who enjoy the outdoors. 

Gateway to the Sawtooth Mountain range and Salmon River, Stanley is where you go to enjoy the fresh air and incredible mountain views.

The hike to Alice Lake is the area’s most popular. Don’t forget to make sure your phone is charged before leaving because you’ll want snapshots.

Oh, and only 63 people live in Stanley. So go for the nature — not the nightlife.

Things to do in Stanley

  • Go boating at Redfish Lake
  • Hike from Iron Creek to Sawtooth Lake
  • Check out Stanley Museum
  • Don’t miss the Yankee Fork Gold Dredge

23. Breckenridge, Colorado

Breckenridge is one of the best places to visit in the US

If you like to ski, add Breckenridge, Colorado, to your USA bucket list. The world-class resort and slopes attract visitors from around the world between November and April. So yeah, it’s a fantastic winter vacation in the US .

Summer in the region is also a good time, with hiking, fly-fishing, white-water rafting, and Lake Dillon boating on tap.

Fans of extreme sports should visit during the annual Winter Dew Tour, which draws a large crowd of XGame enthusiasts.

Also, remember that Colorado is a high-altitude region. If you have health conditions, consult with a doctor before booking a trip.

Things to do in Breckenridge

  • Stroll around the Main Street and take in its beauty
  • Hike to the Sapphire Point Overlook
  • Drive the Boreas Pass Road
  • Ski the slopes

24. Whitefish, Montana

Whitefish is one of the places to add to your USA bucket list

Known as “Montana’s Outdoor Recreation Playground,” Whitefish, Montana, is a prime destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

The area offers diverse activities such as fishing, boating, cycling, paddling, snowshoeing, skiing, hiking, llama trekking, and art classes capturing the state’s renowned “big sky.”

Downtown Whitefish features charming boutiques, and Glacier National Park provides stunning photo opportunities. Golfing and horseback riding are popular pastimes, weather permitting.

The optimal time to visit for sightseeing is between June and August, as fall and winter weather can be challenging.

Things to do in Whitefish

  • Watch a performance at Alpine Theatre Project
  • Grab a Espresso Martini at Spotted Bear Spirits
  • Check out Whitefish Depot
  • Hit the City Beach

25. Fairbanks, Alaska

Coldfoot, Alaska is one of the cool winter vacations in the US

Witnessing the Northern Lights in Alaska is a must on any traveler’s USA bucket list. While some places in the lower 48 may offer glimpses, Alaska, particularly Fairbanks, boasts the most brilliant and vibrant displays.

Fairbanks, often overlooked by visitors, provides stunning views of the Northern Lights in the entire state. Keep in mind that the Aurora Borealis is visible from late August to mid-April, with the summer months offering almost 24 hours of daylight.

For the best experience, consider Murphy Dome, a locals’ favorite about 20 miles outside Fairbanks.

Although there’s no guarantee of a nightly show, they tend to be more active in the late night and early morning hours.

Apart from this natural wonder, Fairbanks offers plenty of unique activities. Explore local history at Pioneer Park, hike Angel Rocks, or unwind in the natural hot springs at Chena Hot Springs, surrounded by nature.

Fairbanks is also a three-hour drive from Denali National Park, home to over six million acres of untamed Alaskan nature and wildlife.

Christina Ropp from Littles, Life, & Laughter

Things to do in Fairbanks

  • Watch the northern lights dancing in the sky
  • Learn natural history at the University of Alaska Museum of the North
  • Tour the Running Reindeer Ranch
  • Discover all facets of Alaskan culture at Morris Thompson Cultural & Visitors Center

26. Leavenworth, Washington

Leavenworth is one of the best places to visit in the US

Have you always wanted to visit a traditional Bavarian village? If so, vacation in Leavenworth, a quaint town in the shadow of the Cascade Mountains in west-central Washington State.

Leavenworth was modeled to resemble a German town. The structures are built in the old-fashioned Bavarian style, complete with wood balconies outside every window and towers galore.

Like many places in the Pacific Northwest, Leavenworth is known for its wealth of outdoor activities.

Horseback riding is big, as is hiking in the surrounding wild. There’s also a ski slope and cross-country trails for winter recreation.

Still, set aside an hour for the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum.

Things to do in Leavenworth

  • Interact with reindeers at Leavenworth Reindeer Farm
  • Breathe fresh air at Waterfront Park
  • Walk around Front Street Park
  • Sip some beer at Icicle Brewing Company

Where to stay in Leavenworth

Here are some hotels you’ll absolutely love, including some with Bavarian vibes.

27. Annapolis, Maryland

Annapolis is one of the best places to visit in the US

Annapolis, Maryland, the state’s capital on the Chesapeake Bay, is often overlooked, but I consider it one of the top places to visit in the United States.

Known for its sailing culture, pristine beauty, and charming downtown with red cobblestone streets, brick buildings, and gaslamp street lights, Annapolis offers a picturesque setting.

Rich in history, the city features landmarks like the Banneker-Douglass Museum, Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial, United States Naval Academy Museum, Hammond–Harwood House, St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, and Thurgood Marshall Monument.

Additionally, Annapolis is renowned for its incredible seafood, especially crab, making it a delightful culinary destination.

Things to do in Annapolis

  • Tour the U.S. Naval Academy
  • Check out eateries and shops at Annapolis Historic District
  • Learn more about history at Maryland State House
  • Tour the historic house at William Paca House & Garden

28. Chincoteague, Virginia

Chincoteague is one of the best places to visit in the US

Home of the Assateague horses, one of the few wild horse populations in the United States, Chincoteague offers a classic summer vacation vibe without the crushing crowds. In a word, Chincoteague is all about serenity.

During the summer, Chincoteague’s population swells somewhat as visitors flock in from across the country. But it’s never a massive crowd. 

People come for the beaches, ice cream parlors, miniature golf, cute restaurants, and a glimpse of the wild horses.

Beebe Ranch and the Museum of Chincoteague Island are also popular with tourists.

Things to do in Chincoteague

  • Photograph the wild ponies at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge
  • Check out the interactive exhibits at Museum of Chincoteague
  • Sip local beer at Black Narrows Brewing
  • Take a look at the oldest building on the island: Captain Timothy Hill House

29. Stowe, Vermont

Stowe is one of the best places to visit in the US

If you appreciate the pastoral beauty of New England, Stowe, Vermont, might make your list of best places to visit in the USA.

Dubbed the “Ski Capital of the East,” Stowe is a classic alpine town, showcasing a charming village and ranking among the most idyllic places in the country.

Even if skiing isn’t your interest, Stowe is incredibly picturesque in fall and spring, with more affordable rates during these seasons.

Key attractions include Stoweflake Mountain Resort and Spa, Stowe Mountain Resort, Trapp Family Lodge, the Stowe Recreation Path, and the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum.

With visitors from all over coming for the slopes, Stowe boasts excellent restaurants, and indulging in fresh oysters, sourced from Chincoteague’s waters, is a culinary highlight.

Things to do in Stowe

  • Go for a Stowe Recreation Path
  • Ride the gondola to Mount Mansfield
  • Photograph the Moss Glen Falls
  • Experience New England in Smugglers Notch State Park

30. Broken Bow, Oklahoma

Broken Bow is one of the best US destinations

Broken Bow, Oklahoma, serves as the gateway to Hochatown State Park, Beavers Bend Resort Park, and Cedar Creek Golf Course, featuring the picturesque Broken Bow Lake.

The area offers abundant outdoor activities, including fly fishing, canoeing, paddleboarding, horseback riding, and kayaking.

Families can enjoy mini-golf courses and go-karting tracks, while gambling enthusiasts can explore legal gaming options in Broken Bow.

Nature enthusiasts can visit the Forest Heritage Center Museum, and for those seeking a challenge, nearby Hochatown offers a 29,000-square-foot wooden maze along with puzzle and escape rooms.

Things to do in Broken Bow

  • Sip some wine in Girls Gone Wine
  • Go fishing at Broken Bow Lake
  • Relax at Beavers Bend Brewery
  • Check out a variety of animals at Hochatown Petting Zoo

31. Hatteras, North Carolina

Hatteras is one of the cool US destinations

Hatteras, North Carolina, located in the famed Outer Banks, is renowned for its natural beauty and historical significance.

Visitors can enjoy wildlife watching, windsurfing, and fishing in Pamlico Sound, along with snorkeling and scuba diving around the area’s shipwrecks. Additionally, beach lounging and mini-golf are popular pastimes.

It’s essential to note that Hurricane season in the Outer Banks spans from June to November, so travelers planning a visit during this period should consider obtaining travel insurance.

Things to do in Hatteras

  • Hit the beach at Cape Hatteras National Seashore
  • Climb the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
  • Check out the absurd amount of shells at Frisco Beach
  • Go on a turtle patrol program at Hatteras Island Ocean Center

32. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Bethlehem is one of the best places to visit in the US

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, a charming small town, deserves a spot on your USA bucket list with its exciting activities and attractions.

Often overshadowed by Philadelphia, Bethlehem offers plenty to explore, especially during Christmas, earning its title as the Christmas City.

The festive season brings highlights like Christmas markets. The town features attractions such as the Hoover Mason Trestle, National Museum of Industrial History, Musikfest, Apollo Grill, Fegley’s Brew Works, and 1741 on the Terrace.

Despite its history and the shift from its primary industry, Bethlehem thrives as a vibrant and appealing destination, catering to those seeking relaxation, outdoor fun, or a love for history.

Things to do in Bethlehem

  • Book a tour at the SteelStacks
  • Learn history at Hoover Mason Trestle
  • Hear about Bethlehem steel history at National Museum of Industrial History
  • Experience the town’s religious community at Moravian Museum

33. Newport, Rhode Island

Newport is one of the cool USA bucket list destinations

Newport, Rhode Island, stands out as a top travel destination in the USA, offering a plethora of activities. Whether you’re into historical and food tours or sailing and mansion tours , Newport has diverse options.

Situated by the sea, the city boasts a rich history, making it an ideal spot for history enthusiasts. Mansion tours and sailing adventures, including private yacht charters and romantic cruises, are must-tries.

With its abundance of history, Newport promises endless exploration, ensuring each visit brings something new to discover.

Things to do in Newport

  • Tour the Breakers
  • Hike the scenic 3.5-mile Cliff Walk
  • Learn about history at the Elms
  • Take in the dramatic views along Ocean Drive

34. Page, Arizona

Page is one of the places to add to your USA bucket list

Page, Arizona, though small, is a must-visit on your USA bucket list, boasting some of the Southwest’s most stunning sights. Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon are iconic attractions in the town.

From Page, enjoy breathtaking views of Lake Powell and the expansive Glen Canyon Dam, among the largest in the US.

Despite its size, Page offers numerous outdoor adventures, diverse dining experiences, and captivating landscapes, making it an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

Things to do in Page

  • Take a selfie at Horseshoe Bend
  • Go on a boat tour at Lake Powell
  • Discover the Antelope Canyon
  • Tour Glen Canyon Dam

Best National Parks to Visit in the USA

Here are the best national parks to travel to in the US in no particular order.

35. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park is one of the best places to visit in the US

Yellowstone National Park is a must on your USA bucket list! Established in 1872, it’s the oldest national park and offers something for everyone.

Wildlife enthusiasts can explore Lamar Valley for bison, grizzly bears, wolves, and more. Geology enthusiasts will appreciate fantastic formations and hot springs, including Old Faithful and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone .

Photographers shouldn’t miss the breathtaking Grand Prismatic Lake. Avoiding summer holidays is recommended to escape traffic jams and enhance wildlife sightings.

Things to do in Yellowstone

  • Take in the beauty of Grand Canyon
  • Be in awe at the colorful Grand Prismatic Spring
  • See wildlife at Lamar Valley
  • Watch as the Old Faithful Geyser erupts

Leona from Wandermust Family

36. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park is one of the places to visit in the US

The Grand Canyon is a top destination on many USA bucket lists, and hiking offers a superior experience compared to observation decks.

Trails allow hikers to explore around or descend into the canyon, offering unique and panoramic views. Research different hikes for varied views and difficulty levels, and plan during spring or fall for optimal weather.

Bring sufficient water and sun protection to prevent dehydration and overheating, common causes of hiking-related incidents.

Assess your fitness level, as descending is easier than ascending. With caution and preparation, your Grand Canyon hiking experience will be truly amazing.

Things to do in Grand Canyon

  • Hike the Bright Angel Trail
  • Discover the South Kaibab Trail
  • Take in the sweeping views from the South rim
  • Photograph the dramatic landscape at the north rim

Serena from Serenas’ Lenses

37. Death Valley National Park, California

Death Valley National Park is one of the places to visit in the US

Include Death Valley National Park in your Southwest road trip for a thrilling drive through the lowest point in North America.

Despite being one of the hottest places globally, it offers diverse landscapes, historical sites, and natural wonders.

Witness bright salt deposits, colorful lava formations, and striated rock faces. The valley hosts traces of early pioneers, prospectors, and miners.

Don’t miss Zabriskie Point’s breathtaking views of the Badlands’ pastel-hued rock formations.

Ensure you have ample water, a paper map, and a full tank of fuel, as GPS signals may be unreliable. Keep the air-con off to prevent engine overheating.

Things to do in the Death Valley

  • Take in the view from Dante’s View
  • Watch the sunset from Zabriskie Point
  • Experience Badwater basin, the lowest point in North America
  • Hike tot he top of the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

Suzanne Jones at The Travelbunny

38. Acadia National Park, Maine

Bass Harbor Lighthouse at sunset in Acadia National Park, Maine USA

It would be best if you considered visiting Acadia National Park, located in Maine. It is among the most beautiful national parks in the eastern US, and it showcases the Maine Coast’s beauty perfectly. 

There are several miles of biking and hiking trails on Acadia , and if you prefer sailing and kayaking, there is easy coastal access.

There are many different ways to spend your time at the national park, but ensure you spend at least two days. This way, you get to fully enjoy everything that the park has to offer and take in its beauty. 

If you wanna catch a sunrise, you will enjoy watching the most breathtaking sunrise at Cadillac Mountain.

The view combined with the sunset is pretty stunning since you will see all the islands dotting the coast. 

If you would like to visit some of the most famous attractions in the park, such as Jordan Pond, Thunder Hole, and Sandy Beach, drive through the park loop road. This place is worth adding to your USA bucket list.

Things to do in Acadia

  • Hike to Cadillac Mountain’s summit
  • Road trip the Park Loop Road
  • Watch the sunset at Jordan Pond
  • Cool off at Sand Beach

Where to stay in Acadia

The Blackwoods is a an excellent camping spot with running water and toilets. On the downside, they don’t have showers on site, only down the road.

39. Arches National Park, Utah

Arches National Park is one of the best places to visit in the US

Explore the wonders of Arches National Park in Utah, a top-notch destination in the US. Hike through Devil’s Garden to witness impressive arches, including the iconic Delicate Arch.

Experience stargazing and dark skies by visiting the park after sunset. With over 2,000 sandstone arches, Arches offers diverse landscapes, including mountain peaks, petrified dunes, and rock spires.

Beyond hiking, it’s a prime spot for mountain biking. If you love the outdoors, make sure to include Arches National Park in your travel plans, and discover additional scenic spots across Utah after your exploration.

Things to do in Arches

  • Take a photo at the Delicate Arch
  • Hike to the Double Arch
  • Get to Fiery Furnace on a tour
  • Take in the sweeping views from the Windows

Read next: Utah National Parks Road Trip

40. Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park is one of the best places to visit in the US

Include Glacier National Park in your U.S. travel itinerary for a breathtaking experience. Marvel at glaciers, waterfalls, two mountain ranges, and over 700 lakes.

Hiking enthusiasts can choose from a variety of trails , ranging from challenging routes like Highline Trail and Grinnell Glacier to easy options like Rocky Point.

The park offers activities for all seasons, from fishing and canoeing in summer to snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in winter.

Wildlife sightings, including elk, bears, and moose, add to the park’s allure. Enjoy the picturesque landscapes while engaging in diverse activities, such as driving along Lake McDonald and spending time at its beach.

Things to do in Glacier

  • Drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road
  • Hike to the Grinnell Glacier
  • Relax at Lake McDonald
  • Enjoy the scenery at Logan Pass

41. Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Mount Rainier National Park is one of the best places to visit in the US

Just a two-hour drive from Seattle and Portland, Mount Rainier captivates visitors year-round with its natural beauty.

Summer offers vibrant meadows adorned with colorful wildflowers for hiking enthusiasts. In the fall, snow-free lakes and berry-laden trails provide a picturesque setting.

For those preferring a more leisurely experience, a scenic drive through the park reveals stunning views of lakes, glaciers, waterfalls, and the chance to spot wildlife.

Things to do in Mount Rainier

  • Take in the views of Mount Rainier
  • Challenge yourself at the Skyline Trail
  • Photograph the scenic Paradise Valley
  • Hike the Mt. Fremont Lookout Trail

42. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the best places to visit in the US

Add Rocky Mountain National Park to your USA bucket list for a breathtaking experience in Colorado .

A day trip from Denver provides easy access, with various small towns around for accommodation options based on your budget. Having a car is recommended for convenient exploration.

The park boasts numerous vista points, each offering hiking trails suitable for all levels. Whether you prefer challenging or easy, long or short hikes, there’s something for everyone.

If hiking isn’t your preference, the spectacular scenery at vista points, along with attractions like Bear Lake, Sprague Lake, and Grand Lake, ensures a memorable visit.

Things to do in Rocky Mountain

  • Road trip the Trail Ridge Road
  • Walk around Bear Lake
  • Hike the Emerald Lake Trail
  • Picnic at Sprague Lake

43. Sequoia National Park, California

Sequoia National Park is one of the USA bucket list destinations

Sequoia National Park , a must on any US bucket list, sits in California alongside Kings Canyon National Park, hosting the planet’s largest trees.

While redwoods claim height, sequoias reign in size, notably in the Giant Forest region. The Congress Trail offers an easy hike, featuring the colossal General Sherman Tree and other giants like the President Tree.

Round Meadow provides a scenic stroll amid notable sequoias, and at dusk, black bears often forage. Explore tunnel log for a unique walk and the Giant Forest Museum for insightful displays.

Summer is popular, so book campsites or lodges well in advance, and shuttle buses simplify travel.

Things to do in Sequoia

  • Pose next to General Sherman Tree, a 250-foot ancient tree
  • Walk up 400 steps to spectacular views at Moro Rock Trail
  • Visit Boyden Cavern
  • Hike the Congress Trail

James Ian from Parks Collecting

44. Joshua Tree National Park, California

Cholla Cactus Garden is one of the best hikes in Joshua Tree National Park

Explore Joshua Tree National Park , a captivating addition to your US bucket list. A two-day trip from LA, it offers unique desert landscapes and vibrant Joshua trees.

Hiking highlights include Lost Horse Mine, blending Joshua trees with gold mining history, and Lost Palms Oasis, home to distinctive fan palm trees.

For gentler walks, discover Cholla Cactus Garden, Jumbo Rocks, Hall of Horrors, and Hidden Valley. Plan ahead, as the park lacks shops or restaurants – bring ample water, food, and emergency supplies for a day of exploration.

Things to do in Joshua Tree

  • Trek the Lost Palm Oasis Trail
  • Photograph the Skull Rock
  • Check out Cholla Cactus Garden
  • Take in the wildflowers

Michael from Michael Turtle

45. Zion National Park, Utah

Zion National Park is one of the best places to add to your USA bucket listces to add to your USA bucket list

Explore the stunning Zion National Park in Utah, with a must-try adventure: hiking the challenging Angels Landing route .

Spanning 5 miles with a 1,488-foot elevation, it’s not for the faint-hearted. Best tackled in summer or fall, the park’s shuttle bus conveniently transports you to the trailhead.

While Scout Lookout offers fantastic views for those with a fear of heights, reaching the top requires courage due to sheer drops and a narrow pathway. The use of chains is advised.

Once at the summit, savor breathtaking views, making it a highlight of your USA travel experience.

Things to do in Zion

  • Challenge yourself at The Narrows
  • Venture out on Zion Canyon Scenic Drive
  • Take in the dramatic views at the end of Canyon Overlook Trail
  • Hike the demanding Angel’s Landing

Zoe from Together in Transit

Best Beaches to Visit in the USA

Here are the best beaches to travel to in the US in no particular order.

46. Key West, Florida

Key West, Florida is one of the winter vacations in the US

Discover the vibrant and free-spirited Key West, a top destination in the US. Enjoy unique culinary experiences, deep-sea fishing, and relaxing on local beaches.

It’s an ideal spot for a fantastic beach vacation and a favorite spring break destination .

Explore historical sites and traditional homes, and if you’re on a road trip, make a stop at Bahia Honda State Park for one of the world’s most incredible beaches.

Key West promises a delightful stay with numerous activities and attractions.

Things to do in Key West

  • Snorkel in turquoise waters
  • Visit Dry Tortugas National Park
  • Don’t miss the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
  • Check out butterflies at Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

47. Kailua Beach, Hawaii

Kailua Beach is one of the beautiful places to visit in the US

Out of all the beaches found in Big Island, Kailua ranks as the second most beautiful beach. 

If you are looking for incredible places to visit in the US and enjoy beach vacations, visiting Kailua should be on top of your list. This place has white and soft powder sand, and the water is turquoise blue.

Enjoying yourself at the beach does not get any better than being at Kailua, and other than the beautiful white sand and turquoise water, its stretch is two and a half miles long. 

The beach has three separate parking lots, the first one being for windsurfing sports and a launching spot for kites. The second connects to the main beach spot, and the third has a boat ramp.

You can take your family out on the beach since the park grounds have picnic tables, beach showers, and bathroom facilities.

This is pretty convenient, and it is also worth mentioning that they have a few lifeguards who ensure ocean safety and may answer any questions you have.

Things to do in Kailua Beach

  • Bask in the sun
  • Be adventurous and go windsurfing
  • Picnic with your family
  • Watch the sunset

Where to stay in Kailua

The Four Seasons Resort is my all-time fave because of the ocean views, wonderful pools, and many amenities. Thank me later!

Read next: Best Beaches in Hawaii

48. Folly Beach, South Carolina

Folly Beach is one of the beautiful places to visit in the US

Escape your routine and embrace the tranquility of Folly Beach, South Carolina—a laid-back, family-friendly haven near downtown Charleston.

Ideal for year-round enjoyment, it caters to those who appreciate a relaxed beach lifestyle, fishing enthusiasts, and surfing aficionados.

Indulge in diverse activities like paddleboarding, photography, sailing, and kayaking. Dive into the local scene with live music, a fantastic pier, and a variety of bars and restaurants.

Extend your getaway to bask in the soothing breeze and ocean waves for a few delightful days.

Things to do in Folly Beach

  • Have breakfast at Lost Dog Café
  • Take in the view of Morris Island Lighthouse
  • Rent a stand-up paddleboard
  • Lunch with oceanfront views at BLU Beach Bar

49. Sand Beach, Maine

Sand Beach is one of the US destinations not to miss

Include Sand Beach, Maine in your USA bucket list. It features unique shell fragments, accessible amenities, and a captivating view.

Explore the popular hiking trail for spectacular beach views and enjoy a leisurely stroll along the beautiful coast of Maine.

Located in Acadia National Park, Sand Beach sits in a small inlet between Mount Desert Island’s rocky shores and granite mountains.

Accessible via Park Loop Road, it is a must-visit point of interest on the Island.

Things to do in Sand Beach

  • Hike your way to the beach
  • Relax on the sand
  • Take a swim, but be careful as the water is very cold
  • Stargaze with your significant other

50. El Matador Beach, California

El Matador Beach is one of the best places to visit in the US

Explore El Matador Beach in California, one of the best places to visit in the USA.

Enjoy picturesque views from picnic tables overlooking the Pacific Ocean, especially popular for photographers capturing breathtaking sunsets and unique sea stacks.

Explore the north side with arches and caves (avoid during high tide) or head to the tranquil south side with stunning homes for a peaceful getaway and photo opportunities.

Things to do in El Matador Beach

  • Photograph the dramatic cliffs
  • Picnic on the sand
  • Stroll along the water
  • Snorkel and experience the colorful world under water

51. Shi Shi Beach, Washington

Shi Shi Beach is a beautiful US destination not to miss

Enjoy a variety of adventures on Washington’s Shi Shi Beach, featuring beach walking and rainforest hiking.

Ideal for backpacking or a one-day hike, you can extend your journey to the Hole in the Wall or the Ozette Loop Hike.

Check the tide chart for safety, especially if heading south past the arches where tides can be high.

The beach provides amenities like restrooms and parking, but be aware that night parking and day parking have separate lots, and there’s no RV parking available. 

Things to do in Shi Shi Beach

  • Camp at the beach
  • Photograph the majestic landscape
  • Take in the sunset

Where to stay in Shi Shi Beach

You can camp on the beach and wake up to the fantastic ocean view.

52. Cannon Beach, Oregon

Cannon Beach is one of the best places to visit in the US

Visit Cannon Beach in Oregon for a stunning escape. It’s one of the best travel destinations in the USA, featuring beautiful coastline views, dramatic rock formations, and luxurious beachfront lodgings .

Experience puffins nesting on Haystack Rock, elk grazing in coastal meadows, and colorful sea stars adorning the rocks.

Take in this beauty through hikes or relaxed moments on the sand. Recognized by National Geographic as one of the most beautiful places globally, Cannon Beach offers marine life sightings during low tides.

Explore local art galleries and try out restaurants to complete your visit.

Things to do in Cannon Beach

  • Sip brews at Pelican Brewery
  • See cute puffins at Haystack Rock
  • Go whale watching off the coast

53. Waikiki Beach, Oahu

Waikiki Beach is one of the places to add to your USA bucket list

Waikiki Beach is a must on your USA bucket list. Considered a top tourist destination, it boasts a long oceanfront stretch with golden sand, backed by hotels and retail establishments in Honolulu, on Oahu island.

Apart from the scenic view, enjoy activities like surfing, dining, and shopping.

Whether solo, with a partner, friends, or family, Waikiki offers all comforts amidst the Pacific Ocean on a tropical island, making it a worthwhile visit.

Things to do in Waikiki

  • Take surfing lessons
  • Take a swim in the calm waters
  • Bask in the sun while people watching
  • Dine with beach views at one of the restaurants or food stalls in the area

Best Islands to Visit in the USA

Here are the best islands to travel to in the US in no particular order.

54. Kauai, Hawaii

Kauai, Hawaii is one of the best spring break destinations in the US

Kauai in Hawaii is among the best places to visit in the United States, often referred to as the Garden Island.

It distinguishes itself through its natural beauty, with a rule limiting building height to the palm of a coconut to preserve the pristine beaches.

Inland, explore Wailua River State Park and Koke’e State Park. Overall, Kauai stands out as one of the most beautiful travel destinations in the United States.

Things to do in Kauai

  • Relax by the beach
  • Check out Opaekaa Falls
  • Hike in the Waimea Canyon State Park
  • Take a helicopter tour on Na Pali Coast

55. South Padre Island, Texas

Chilling at Isla Blanca is one of the best things to do on South Padre Island, TX

South Padre Island, Texas , is an ideal travel destination with endless activities and attractions.

Whether planning or spontaneous, enjoy live music, diverse restaurants, fishing, bird watching, and water sports.

Family-friendly, it’s renowned for white sandy beaches, clear Gulf waters, and calm weather, offering a perfect tropical vacation experience year-round.

Clean beaches and excellent weather make it a unique tropical paradise in Texas, catering to both laid-back and adventurous vacations.

Things to do in South Padre Island

  • Go bird watching
  • Try some fishing
  • Enjoy live music
  • Do absolutely nothing by the beach and just enjoy yourself 

56. Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Cape Cod is one of the best places to visit in the US

Cape Cod in Massachusetts is an excellent place to visit in the USA for tropical vacation enthusiasts. Enjoy the best seafood, sandy beaches, and charming beach towns.

Explore diverse activities like trying local cuisine, relaxing on sandy beaches, visiting lighthouses, or hiking scenic trails.

Customize your vacation based on preferences, but note the short swimming season and plan accordingly to make the most of your visit.

Things to do in Cape Cod

  • Have some delicious seafood
  • Visit the iconic lighthouse
  • Go hiking around the island
  • Weather-permitting, go swimming

57. Florida Keys, Florida

Florida Keys is one of the places to add to your USA bucket list

Experience a Caribbean vibe without leaving the U.S. by visiting the Florida Keys, a short drive from Key West and Miami.

Enjoy a scenic road trip with great food, vibrant architecture, and beautiful beaches.

Don’t miss trying the famous Key lime pie, visiting the Ernest Hemingway House, exploring Duval Street, and engaging in water activities like swimming, scuba diving, or snorkeling.

Savor a drink, soak in the stunning views, and capture memories with beautiful pictures during your visit to the Florida Keys.

Things to do in Florida Keys

58. big island, hawaii.

Big Island is one of the places to add to your USA bucket list

Dreaming of a trip to the USA? Consider adding a helicopter tour around Hawaii’s Big Island to your bucket list.

Experience breathtaking views, lush green landscapes, cascading waterfalls, and the unique opportunity to fly around an active volcano, witnessing flowing lava beneath you.

I’ve personally experienced it in the stunning Big Island and highly recommend this unforgettable two-hour tour for a once-in-a-lifetime experience during your visit to Hawaii.

Pro Tip: Wear dark-colored clothing to minimize window reflections.

Things to do on Big Island

  • Take a helicopter tour around Hawaii
  • Scuba dive in Kona to see the manta rays
  • Visit a coffee farm
  • Visit Volcanoes National Park

Claire from Curious Claire

59. Mount Desert Island, Maine

Mount Desert Island is one of the places to add to your USA bucket list

Mount Desert Island in Maine is renowned for being a summer feeding ground for whales, making it arguably the most beautiful spot in New England.

Accessible by flying or driving (though driving is challenging), the island offers the added bonus of proximity to other attractions like Acadia National Park.

Engage in outdoor activities such as hiking and watersports, creating an experience so immersive that returning to reality becomes a reluctant thought.

Things to do on Mount Desert

  • Discover Acadia National Park
  • Partake in watersports
  • Photograph Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse
  • Go shopping in Downtown Bar Harbor

60. Oahu, Hawaii

Oahu is one of the places to add to your USA bucket list

Oahu, Hawaii, stands out as one of the most beautiful places in the US, often overlooked for its rich offerings beyond tourist attractions and beaches.

In a 3-day visit , explore Honolulu’s diverse cuisine and immerse yourself in the local culture. From the best Asian dishes to traditional Hawaiian food, savor delicious meals.

Explore Honolulu further by visiting Pearl Harbor, hiking, or relaxing at Waikiki Beach. Venture beyond to discover the North Shore, Polynesian Cultural Center, Dole Plantation, and Kualoa Ranch.

For a tropical vacation experience, simply head to the beach, dip your feet in the sand, and enjoy the stunning view.

Things to do in Oahu

  • Take a tour at Dole Plantation
  • Learn about history at Pearl Harbor
  • Don’t miss the famous Lanikai Beach
  • Visit the iconic USS Arizona Memorial

Other Incredible Places to Visit in the USA

Here are the best places to travel to in the US in no particular order.

61. Havasu Falls, Arizona

Havasu Falls is one of the  places to visit in the US

Havasu Falls in Northern Arizona is a breathtaking paradise, accessible through a challenging 10-mile hike in a desolate desert canyon.

The 80-foot turquoise-blue waterfall flows through red sandstone walls, with a campground shaded by trees near the river.

Freshwater springs provide drinking water, and numerous pools and swimming holes create an oasis in the desert.

While Havasu Falls is the most famous, there are five waterfalls in total, including Mooney Falls reached through a steep cave, and the tiered Beaver Falls downstream.

Havasu Canyon continues to the Grand Canyon’s confluence with the Colorado River, making it my favorite among stunning US locations. If it’s not on your bucket list, it definitely should be!

Things to do in Havasu Falls

  • Swim in the turquoise waters
  • Take in the views while you’re grateful of such beauty
  • Be prepared to take lots of photos
  • Have a picnic there (remember to take all your trash back with you)

Where to stay near Havasu Falls

Havasu Canyon is owned and managed by the Havasupai Tribe, and camping reservations are limited to 300 people per day. You’ll need to plan well in advance if you want to visit this surreal location.

Camping permits for the entire year go on sale February 1st and sell out within a few hours. Lodge reservations go on sale in June of each year and similarly sell out almost immediately.

Nick from Wandering Wheatleys

62. Disney World, Florida

Disneyland is one of the places to add to your USA bucket list

Disney World in Florida is a must-visit on your USA bucket list. Although not a city, it’s a world-famous theme park and a favorite vacation spot for families.

When in Orlando, make sure to experience Disney World, where you can meet beloved characters, ride roller coasters, get autographs, and witness scenes from Disney movies.

Ideal for those who grew up with Disney or have young children, the park offers a plethora of activities and attractions, ensuring a fantastic time for all.

While Disney World is not exactly a city, it is still a must-see and experience place in the USA.

Things to do at Disney World

  • Ride the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Take an indoor cruise through the scenes of Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Enjoy the Enchanted Tiki Room, Country Bear Jamboree musical show
  • Walk the informative Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail and Maharajah Jungle Trek

63. Antelope Canyon, Arizona

Antelope Canyon is one  of the best places to visit in the US

Antelope Canyon in Arizona is among the best and uniquely beautiful places to visit in the USA.

This famous slot canyon, located just 15 minutes from Page, features red and orange rock formations that create stunning light beams due to its “V” shape.

To visit, sign up for a tour, pay a fee to the Navajo people, and explore the canyon for 1-1 1/2 hours. While popular and not secluded, witnessing the canyon’s beauty is worth it.

For a less crowded experience, consider visiting Lower Antelope Canyon, just 10 minutes away from the Upper Canyon.

Although lacking light beams, Lower Antelope Canyon is still picturesque, adventurous, and often less crowded, providing an enjoyable alternative.

Regardless, Antelope Canyon is a natural wonder and a must-see in the Southwest of the USA.

Things to do in Antelope Canyon

  • Take a walking tour in the antelope canyon
  • Take as many photos as possible
  • See the famous Horseshoe Bend
  • Take in the views of Lake Powell

Jessica from Unearth the Voyage

64. Big Sur, California

Big Sur is one of the places to visit in the US

Include a drive along the Big Sur Coast in your Northern California visit. Stretching over 60 miles between Carmel and Ragged Point, it offers some of the most scenic Pacific Coast Highway views.

Allocate several hours to explore highlights, starting from Carmel-by-the-Sea, known for boutiques and gourmet restaurants.

Visit Point Lobos State Reserve for stunning ocean views and ancient cypress trees on your California road trip . Continue to Garrapata State Park for wilderness trails and a sandy beach.

Don’t miss the iconic Bixby Creek Bridge and the picturesque McWay Falls. For the best views, drive from north to south along the water, enjoying the breathtaking coastline.

Things to do in Big Sur

  • Spot birds at Point Lobos State Reserve
  • Relax in a white-beach at Garrapata state Park
  • Photograph Bixby Creek Bridge
  • Hike the East Molera Trail

Dhara from It’s Not About the Miles

65. Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada

Lake Tahoe is one of the best places to visit in the US

Lake Tahoe, straddling Nevada and California near Yosemite National Park, stands out as one of the most breathtaking places to visit in the United States.

With crystal-clear water, the lake offers both water and land activities, including swimming, SUP, hiking, and serene moments to appreciate the surroundings.

Summer is ideal for a visit, but winter provides a stunning view framed by snow, perfect for skiing.

Whether seeking outdoor adventure or peaceful retreat, Lake Tahoe is an excellent choice year-round.

Things to do in Lake Tahoe

  • Tour the Hellman-Ehrman Mansion
  • Look for wildflowers in the summer
  • Take the aerial tram to High Camp
  • Hike the Shirley Canyon Trail

66. Route 66

Route 66 is one of the best US destinations

Driving Route 66 is a top experience for any USA bucket list. This iconic 2,448-mile route passes through nine diverse states, offering a unique perspective of America beyond typical tourist cities.

Along the way, explore quirky neon-filled towns, historical cities, abandoned ghost towns, and national parks like Petrified Forest and the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

Stay at smaller motels to connect with the locals and support the route. For a fulfilling road trip, take your time—three weeks is ideal for the entire journey.

Use guidebooks to navigate and avoid Interstates, as it can get complicated with a Sat Nav.

67. Napa Valley, California

Napa Valley is one of the best places to visit in the US

Include Napa Valley, California, on your USA bucket list, especially if you love wine.

This picturesque region, known as Northern California’s wine country, offers a relaxing getaway with delicious sips, vineyards set amidst rolling hills, charming boutiques, and small towns.

Stay in various accommodations and indulge in wine tasting and vineyard tours .

While Napa Valley offers diverse activities, sipping and relaxing amid the scenic surroundings should be your primary focus.

Things to do in Napa Valley

  • Take a train ride
  • Eat your through the Napa Valley
  • See the famous geyser
  • Visit wineries that offer more than wine

68. Bluebonnet Trail, Texas

Bluebonnet Trail is one of the places to add to your USA bucket list

Experience the beauty of the Bluebonnet Trail in Texas at least once, ideally during spring when Indian paintbrushes and bluebonnets adorn the Hill Country.

With over 40 miles of mapped driving trails near Ennis, you’ll enjoy a fantastic view. Blooming times vary, but early April is often ideal.

Plan ahead to ensure you don’t miss this mesmerizing experience. If you love the outdoors, add exploring the Bluebonnet Trail to your USA bucket list.

Wrapping Up on Your USA Bucket List

Creating a USA bucket list with fewer than 1,000 places and experiences was a rather challenging task. After all, America is filled with some of the most incredible cities, towns, and outdoor areas on the planet!

Still, I did a pretty good job of showing what each state has to offer. But don’t limit yourself—there’s much more to be seen and epic best places to visit in the USA.

What places would you add to this list? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you!

Did you enjoy this article about the most beautiful places in the USA? Then share it with a friend who might enjoy it too!

Best Places to Visit in the US, Pinterest Graphic

Dee Treloar

Tuesday 23rd of May 2023

I'm looking to see West Virginia and Kentucky to complete my USA bucket list. Can you help!

Thursday 6th of April 2023

No doubt all of these are the best places to explore in the USA. I will explore these places one by one. First of all, I will explore NYC through taking the cherry blossom in nyc.

Wednesday 1st of February 2023

Hi please update this list. Austin does have a sports team. Austin FC. It began playing in 2021. I know it's not one of the big 4 sports, but in Austin, we are very proud and have qualified for the CONCACAF champions league ahead of the biggest teams in the continent. We sold out all 36 games in our first season, the longest streak out of ANY other US team.

Monday 22nd of August 2022

I hope to visit one of this places in usa

Monday 16th of May 2022

This site was cooler than I thought.

Travel Restrictions to Prevent the Spread of Disease

Foreground has a blue bag with the words “Quarantine and Border Health Services” and yellow quarantine flags on it. Blurred in the background is a CDC Quarantine Public Health Officer assessing a sick traveler and companion at a US international airport.

Credit: David Snyder

Disease is just a flight away. To protect America’s health, CDC partners with the Department of Homeland Security to prevent the spread of serious contagious diseases during travel. CDC uses a Do Not Board list to prevent travelers from boarding commercial airplanes if they are known or suspected to have a contagious disease that poses a threat to the public’s health. Sick travelers are also placed on a Lookout list so they will be detected if they attempt to enter the United States by land or sea. These tools can be used for anyone who poses a threat to the public’s health.

Local and state public health officials can request CDC’s assistance if a person who poses a public health threat intends to travel. CDC helps ensure these people do not travel while contagious.

Placing people on the lists

The criteria for adding people to the Do Not Board and Lookout lists are

  • not  aware of diagnosis or not  following public health recommendations, or
  • Likely to travel on a commercial flight involving the United States or travel internationally by any means; or
  • Need to issue travel restriction to respond to a public health outbreak or to help enforce a public health order.

Criteria number one plus one of the three subsets must be met for a person to be placed on the Do Not Board and Lookout lists.

At the passport booth in an international airport, a Customs and Border Protection Officer works with two CDC Quarantine Public Health Officers to assess a sick traveler before allowing entry into the United States.

Credit: David Heaberlin

Once a person is placed on these lists, airlines will not issue a boarding pass to the person for any commercial flight within, arriving to, or departing from the United States.

The Do Not Board and Lookout lists have been used for people with suspected or confirmed infectious tuberculosis (TB), including multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), and measles. During 2020-2022, CDC used these authorities to restrict travel of people with COVID-19 and close contacts who were recommended to quarantine. These authorities were also used for mpox during 2022. Travel restrictions can also be used for other suspected or confirmed contagious diseases that could pose a public health threat during travel, including viral hemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola.

Preventing people with contagious diseases from traveling also helps to make sure they get or continue medical treatment, such as for infectious tuberculosis.

Taking people off the lists

Once public health authorities confirm a person is no longer contagious, the person is removed from the lists (typically within 24 hours). Also, CDC reviews the records of all persons on the lists every two weeks to determine whether they are eligible for removal.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Travel Restrictions to Prevent the Spread of Disease

  • Importation
  • Southern Border Health and Migration
  • Travelers' Health
  • Vessel Sanitation Program
  • Funding and Guidance for State and Local Health Departments
  • Emergency Preparedness and Response
  • Division of Global Migration Health

Exit Notification / Disclaimer Policy

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cannot attest to the accuracy of a non-federal website.
  • Linking to a non-federal website does not constitute an endorsement by CDC or any of its employees of the sponsors or the information and products presented on the website.
  • You will be subject to the destination website's privacy policy when you follow the link.
  • CDC is not responsible for Section 508 compliance (accessibility) on other federal or private website.

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travel list usa

Travel Resources

Emergency information & resources.

U.S. Citizen Travelers Please enroll in the  Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)  to receive alerts and be located in an emergency.

In Case of an Emergency Overseas Please call 1 (888) 407-4747 (U.S. and Canada) or 1 (202) 501-4444 (overseas) or contact the nearest  U.S. embassy or consulate .

Travel Advisories As a first step in planning any trip abroad, check the  Travel Advisories  for your intended destination.

Our highest priority is to protect the lives and interests of U.S. citizens overseas. We do this through routine and emergency services to Americans at our embassies and consulates around the world. Find more emergency resources for:


Passport Processing

We encourage all Americans to check their passport expiration date before making any definitive plans for international travel, and to  take action to renew their passport well in advance of international travel this year. 

Traveling Abroad: What You Need

Preparing for a trip abroad.

Advisories : As a first step in planning any trip abroad, check the Travel Advisories for your intended destination.

International Financial Scams : U.S. citizens can become victims of scams at home or abroad.

Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) : Subscribe to get up-to-date safety and security information and help us reach you in an emergency abroad.

Students Abroad : Exploring new destinations and experiencing other cultures is both rewarding and exciting, but it is also important to do so safely. 

Travel Tips for Everyone : Check out our Traveler’s Checklist to help you prepare for your trip.

Travel Tips for Older Americans : As an increasing number of older U.S. citizens are traveling abroad, we want you to be prepared so you can enjoy your trip. 

Passports & Documents

Where to Apply : Learn where you can apply for a passport.

Renew a Passport : Learn how to renew your passport.

What Form Should I Use? : The following passport wizard will prepare you to apply for a U.S. passport, whether it’s your first time applying, you need to renew, or you want to get a passport for your child. 

Application Status : You can check the status of your passport application online or by phone.

Report Your Passport Lost or Stolen : Report your physical U.S. passport lost or stolen immediately to protect yourself from identity theft. You can replace it now or later – it’s up to you! 

Frequently Asked Questions : Check to see your question has already been answered.

Authentication of Documents : Some documents require authentication before you can use them abroad.

Visa Policy and Procedure : Are you interested in immigrating to the United States or want to sponsor someone? The United States provides for immigrant visas based on family ties, employment, adoption, special immigrant categories, and the diversity visa. 

Business Visas : A foreign national traveling to the United States to conduct temporary business needs a visitor visa (B-1) unless qualifying for entry under the Visa Waiver Program.

Diversity Visa : Annual program making a limited number of visas available to persons who meet strict eligibility requirements from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States

Visa Bulletin : Provides information regarding the cut-off dates which govern visa availability in the numerically limited visa categories and other immigrant visa related information. 

Visa Waiver Program : Enables most citizens or nationals of participating countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa.

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DECEMBER 18, 2023 Return to Pre-Pandemic Passport Processing Times

U.S. Government Resources

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TRUSTED TRAVELER PROGRAMS  Use expedited lanes at U.S. airports and when crossing international borders.

travel list usa

CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION  Get health advice from CDC’s Travelers’ Health Branch.

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U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION  Learn what to expect about CBP’s screenings when entering the U.S.

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TRANSPORTATION SECURITY ADMINISTRATION  Discover what you can bring through airport security checkpoints.

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ANIMAL AND PLANT HEALTH INSPECTION SERVICE  Know about animal health requirements before traveling with your pets.

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FOREIGN CURRENCY EXCHANGE RATES  Find out how much local currency a dollar is worth.

More Travel Resources

Americans abroad.

Lost or Stolen Passport : What you need to do if your passport is lost or stolen while traveling abroad.

Victims of Crime : We support victims overseas and in the United States.

Medical Emergencies : The availability and quality of medical services available can vary greatly depending on your location; contact the nearest embassy or consulate for assistance.

Crisis Situations : Whether traveling or living outside of the United States, learn how to prepare yourself for a potential crisis.

Financial Assistance : U.S. citizens who need money for an emergency abroad should contact the nearest embassy or consulate.

Family Members

Death Abroad : We can help when a U.S. citizen dies abroad.

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Locating a Loved One : If you are worried that your loved one was affected by a crisis, there are various ways to try to get in touch – and stay in touch.

International Parent Child Abduction

Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP) : This program allows our Office of Children’s Issues to contact the enrolling parent(s) or legal guardians(s) to verify whether the  parental consent requirement  for minor passport issuance has been met when a child’s passport application is submitted.

Stopping an Abduction in Progress : If your child is being abducted by a parent, legal guardian, or someone acting on their behalf, contact us immediately.

Abducted Children : Learn how we can help if your child has been abducted by a parent, a guardian, or someone acting on their behalf and taken to another country.

U.S. Department of State

The lessons of 1989: freedom and our future.

Places the U.S. Government Warns Not to Travel Right Now

You may want to reconsider traveling to these countries right now.

Do Not Travel to These Countries

Man walking through an airport with his suitcase

(Getty Images)

Crime, civil unrest and terrorism are common risk factors for countries that end up on the State Department's "Do Not Travel" advisory list.

Global conflicts and climate crises , ranging from a series of coups across Africa to earthquakes and floods in catastrophe-prone countries, affected international travel patterns throughout 2023.

Still, international tourist arrivals reached 91% of pre-pandemic levels in the third quarter of 2023, according to estimates by the World Tourism Organization based on travel patterns through September. But some destinations warrant more caution than others.

On Oct. 19, 2023, following the outbreak of war between Israel and Gaza and flaring tensions in the region, the U.S. State Department issued a worldwide caution advisory due to “increased tensions in various locations around the world, the potential for terrorist attacks, demonstrations or violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests.” Prior to this update, the most recent worldwide caution advisory was issued in 2022 after a U.S. strike killed Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s successor as leader of Al Qaeda, causing “a higher potential for anti-American violence.” The worldwide caution advisory remains in effect.

The U.S. State Department also issues individual travel advisory levels for more than 200 countries globally, continually updating them based on a variety of risk indicators such as health, terrorism and civil unrest. Travel advisory levels range from Level 1, which means exercise normal precautions, to Level 4, which means do not travel there.

About 10% of countries – 21 total – have a Level 4: “Do Not Travel” advisory as of Dec. 27, 2023. In Level 4 countries, the U.S. government may have “very limited ability” to step in should travelers’ safety or security be at risk, according to the State Department. Crime, civil unrest, kidnapping and terrorism are common risk factors associated with Level 4 countries.

In the last two months of 2023, the State Department updated the Level 4 advisories for Afghanistan, the Republic of Yemen, Lebanon and Gaza.

Places With a Level 4 Travel Advisory

These are the primary areas the U.S. government says not to travel to right now, in alphabetical order:

Jump to Place: Afghanistan Belarus Burkina Faso Central African Republic Myanmar (formerly Burma) Gaza Haiti Iran Iraq Libya Mali Mexico Niger North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) Russia Somalia South Sudan Sudan Syria Ukraine Venezuela Yemen


The Central Asian country is wrestling with “terrorism, risk of wrongful detention, kidnapping and crime,” according to the State Department. U.S. citizens are specifically at risk for wrongful detention and kidnapping. In 2022, the government reinstituted public floggings and executions, and women’s rights are disappearing under Taliban control. The U.S. Embassy in Kabul halted operations in August 2021. Since the Taliban took control , many forms of international aid have been halted . Meanwhile, in October 2023, some of the year’s deadliest earthquakes killed more than 2,400 in Afghanistan while the country continues to face a years-long extreme drought.

Belarus: Belarus, which shares a western border with Russia and a southern border with Ukraine, has been flagged for “Belarusian authorities’ continued facilitation of Russia’s war against Ukraine, the buildup of Russian military forces in Belarus, the arbitrary enforcement of local laws, the potential of civil unrest, the risk of detention, and the Embassy’s limited ability to assist U.S. citizens residing in or traveling to Belarus.” The U.S. Embassy in Minsk halted operations in February 2022.

Burkina Faso: Terrorism, crime and kidnapping are plaguing this West African nation. Terrorist attacks may target hotels, restaurants and schools with little to no warning, and the East and Sahel regions of the country are under a state of emergency. In late November hundreds died in clashes between state security forces and rebels near the country’s border with Mali. More than 2 million people in Burkina Faso are displaced due to “violence linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group.”

Central African Republic: While there have not been specific incidents of U.S. citizens targeted with violence or crime, violent crime and sudden closure of roads and borders is common. The advisory states that “Embassy Bangui’s limited capacity to provide support to U.S. citizens, crime, civil unrest, and kidnapping” is a factor in its assessment. Recent data from UNICEF suggests the country has the worst drinking water accessibility of all countries in 2022.

Myanmar (Formerly Burma): Armed conflict and civil unrest are the primary reasons to not travel to this Southeast Asian country, which experienced a military coup in early 2021. COVID-19 restrictions, limited health care resources, wrongful detentions and “areas with land mines and unexploded ordnance” are also listed as risk factors.

Gaza : Hamas, a foreign terrorist organization as designated by the State Department, controls much of the Gaza Strip, which shares borders with both Israel and Egypt. On Oct. 7, 2023, Hamas fighters broke across the border into Israel, killing hundreds of civilians and soldiers in a brazen attack that stunned Israelis. On Oct. 10, Israel hit the Gaza Strip with “the fiercest air strikes in its 75-year conflict” according to Reuters . The conflict has since escalated into war between Israel and Hamas, with regular Israeli airstrikes leading to extensive civilian casualties in Gaza. As of mid-December, nearly 85% of Gaza’s population were displaced from their homes, according to UN estimates . The region continues to face shortages of food , water, electricity and medical supplies , with conditions deemed “far beyond a humanitarian crisis.” The State Department warns of terrorism and armed conflict within Gaza’s borders.

Haiti: In July 2023, the Department of State ordered all non-emergency U.S. government personnel and family members to leave the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince in response to the increased risk of kidnapping and violent crime in the country , as well as armed conflict between gangs and police. The travel advisory states that cases of kidnapping “often involve ransom negotiations and U.S. citizen victims have been physically harmed during kidnappings.” The travel advisory also states that “U.S. citizens in Haiti should depart Haiti as soon as possible … in light of the current security situation and infrastructure challenges.” A series of gang attacks in late September caused thousands to flee their homes, and many aid groups have been forced to cut or suspend operations amid escalating violence in recent months.

Iran: Kidnapping and wrongful detentions are risk factors for all travelers to Iran, while U.S. citizens are specifically at risk for “arbitrary arrest and detention.” U.S.-Iranian nationals such as students, journalists and business travelers have been arrested on charges of espionage and threatening national security. Executions in Iran rose sharply between 2021 and 2022, bringing the country’s total to nearly 580 people over the year, according to a report by Amnesty International released in May 2023.

Iraq: The State Department cites “terrorism, kidnapping, armed conflict [and] civil unrest” as cause for the country’s Level 4 distinction. Iraq’s northern borders, and its border with Syria, are especially dangerous. Since the escalation of conflict in neighboring Israel in October, there has been an increase in attacks against Iraqi military bases, which host U.S. troops and other international forces. On Oct. 20, non-emergency U.S. government personnel and eligible family members were ordered to leave the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

Lebanon: Sitting on the Mediterranean Sea, Lebanon shares its northern border with Syria and its southern border with Israel, placing it in a region currently wrought with conflict . Following the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war in early October, family members of U.S. government personnel and non-emergency personnel were authorized to leave the country, and the U.S. State Department raised Lebanon’s travel advisory level from a Level 3 to a Level 4 level due to “the unpredictable security situation related to rocket, missile, and artillery exchanges” between Israel and Hezbollah or other militant groups. On Dec. 19, the U.S. Embassy in Beirut returned to normal staffing and presence, but the country remains at Level 4 due to “crime, terrorism, armed conflict, civil unrest, kidnapping, and Embassy Beirut’s limited capacity to provide support to U.S. citizens.” The country’s borders with Syria and with Israel, as well as refugee settlements within Lebanon, are specifically noted as Level 4 regions.

Libya: Following the end of its dictatorship over a decade ago, Libya has been wrought with internal conflict between armed groups in the East and West. Armed conflict, civil unrest, crime, kidnapping and terrorism are all risk factors. U.S. citizens have been targets of kidnapping for ransom, with terrorists targeting hotels and airports frequented by Westerners. The U.S. Embassy in Tripoli halted operations in 2014. In mid-September 2023, floods, which some say were intensified by climate change , killed thousands in eastern Libya. Clashes between armed factions escalated across the country in the latter half of 2023, including in the capital city of Tripoli and in Benghazi.

Mali: After experiencing military coups in 2020 and 2021, crime, terrorism and kidnapping are all prevalent threats in this West African landlocked nation. In July 2022, non-emergency U.S. government employees and their families were ordered to leave the country due to higher risk of terrorist activity. A U.N. report in August 2023 said that military groups in the country, including both Mali security forces and possibly Russian Wagner mercenaries, were spreading terror through the use of violence against women and human rights abuses. Democratic elections were supposed to occur in February 2024, but Mali’s military junta postponed the plans indefinitely. In December, the U.N. officially ended a decade-long peacekeeping presence in the country, which had been among the agency’s deadliest missions, with hundreds of the mission personnel killed since 2013.

Mexico: Each state in Mexico is assessed separately for travel advisory levels. Six of the 32 states in Mexico are designated as Level 4: Colima, Guerrero, Michoacan, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas and Zacatecas. Crime and kidnapping are listed as the primary risk factors throughout the country. Nearly 112,000 people were missing across the country as of October, a number the U.N. has called “alarming.”

Niger: In August 2023, the country’s travel advisory status was changed from Level 3 to Level 4 following an attempted coup, and the Department of State ordered all non-emergency U.S. government personnel and family members to leave the U.S. Embassy in Niamey. The month prior, soldiers deposed President Mohamed Bazoum and announced that they had taken control of the country. In response, the World Bank paused payments to Niger and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a regional bloc of 15 countries in West Africa, threatened military action and quickly imposed its own stringent sanctions on the country. In December, West African heads of state recognized Niger’s ruling junta, but kept in place economic sanctions and other measures aimed at restoring elections and civilian rule in the country. Under pressure from the military junta, the last French troops stationed in Niger left the country in December, but U.S. troops have remained, and in December the U.S. announced plans to resume its partnership with Niger if steps are taken to restore democracy in the country.

North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea): U.S. passports are not valid for travel “to, in, or through” this country, home to one of the world's longest-running dynastic dictatorships. The travel advisory states that the Level 4 distinction is due to “the continuing serious risk of arrest and long-term detention of U.S. nationals.” In July 2023, a U.S. soldier fled across the border into North Korea, where he is believed to be in North Korean custody, the first American detained in the North in nearly five years. He was returned to U.S. custody in September 2023.

Russia: The travel advisory for Russia cites its invasion of Ukraine , harassment of U.S. citizens by Russian government officials and arbitrary law enforcement as a few of the reasons for the Level 4 designation. Chechnya and Mount Elbrus are specifically listed as Level 4 regions. Terrorism, civil unrest, health, kidnapping and wrongful detention are all noted as risks.

Russia Invades Ukraine: A Timeline

TOPSHOT - Black smoke rises from a military airport in Chuguyev near Kharkiv  on February 24, 2022. - Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a military operation in Ukraine today with explosions heard soon after across the country and its foreign minister warning a "full-scale invasion" was underway. (Photo by Aris Messinis / AFP) (Photo by ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Somalia: A severe drought resulting from five failed rainy seasons in a row killed 43,000 people in 2022, and caused a famine amid conflict with Islamist insurgents . Violent crime is common throughout Somalia , pirates frequent its coast off the Horn of Africa, and medical facilities, where they exist, have limited capacity. Crime, terrorism, civil unrest, health and kidnapping are all risk factors. In September, the European Union announced that aid to the country, meant to help it mitigate widespread famine, would be halted after a U.N. probe found theft and misuse in the system. However, the country secured billions in debt relief from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in December 2023.

South Sudan: Crime, kidnapping and armed conflict are the primary risk factors for South Sudan, which separated from Sudan in 2011, making it the world’s newest country . Weapons are readily available, and travelers have been victims of sexual assault and armed robbery.

Sudan: The U.S. evacuated its embassy in Khartoum in April 2023, and the country closed its airspace due to the ongoing conflict in the country, only permitting humanitarian aid and evacuation efforts. Fighting has escalated in the region between two warring generals seeking to gain control after a military coup in 2021 ousted the country’s prime minister. Civil unrest is the primary risk factor for Africa’s third largest country by area. Crime, terrorism, kidnapping and armed conflict are also noted. The International Criminal Court is investigating alleged war crimes and violence against African ethnic groups in the country. Millions have fled their homes due to conflict, and the U.N. has said its efforts to provide aid have been hindered by a lack of support, safety and resources. As recently as December, the United Nations warned of catastrophic famine , with millions of children at-risk for malnutrition .

Syria: The advisory states that “No part of Syria is safe from violence,” with terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, armed conflict and risk of unjust detention all potential risk factors. U.S. citizens are often a target for kidnappings and detention. The U.S. Embassy in Damascus halted operations in 2012. Fighting in neighboring Israel has escalated since October, and the conflict has spilled over into Syria, where the U.S. has carried out air strikes following drone and rocket attacks against American troops in Syria and Iraq, triggered by the Israel-Hamas war.

Ukraine: Russian setbacks in their invasion of Ukraine buoyed hopes in Ukraine in 2023. However, Ukraine is a Level 4 country due to Russia’s invasion, with crime and civil unrest also noted as risk factors. The country’s forces shot down two Russian fighter jets on Christmas Eve 2023, in a move Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said “sets the right mood for the entire year ahead.”

Venezuela: Human rights abuses and lack of health care plague this South American nation, which has been in a political crisis since 2014. In 2019, diplomatic personnel were withdrawn from the U.S. Embassy in Caracas. Threats in the country include crime, civil unrest, kidnapping, wrongful detention and poor health infrastructure.

Yemen: Six of the nine risk factors defined by the State Department – terrorism, civil unrest, health risks, kidnapping, armed conflict and landmines – are all present in Yemen. Despite private companies offering tourist visits to the Yemeni island of Socotra, the U.S. government argues those arranging such visits “are putting tourists in danger.” Civil war and cholera are also both present throughout the country. The U.S. Embassy in Sanaa halted operations in 2015. The country has experienced a relative lull in the civil war fighting, but as peace negotiations have gotten traction, flare ups in the fighting have jeopardized progress.

Other Countries to Watch

Since November 2023, the State Department has updated travel advisories for 13 different countries as well as for the West Bank and Gaza, adding information about specific regions or risk factors, or simply renewing an existing advisory. Travel advisory levels can change based on several factors in a nation, such as increased civil unrest, policies that affect human rights or higher risks of unlawful detention.

The State Department has given about 20 countries an assessment of Level 3, meaning it recommends people “reconsider travel” to those destinations.

On Oct. 14, 2023, one week after the deadly Hamas attack on Israel, Israel and the West Bank were both moved from Level 2 to Level 3, while Gaza remains at Level 4. The region’s travel advisory was updated again on Nov. 24 to reflect travel restrictions for certain government employees who have not already left the area.

China became a Level 3 country in late 2020, with an update in December 2022 citing “the surge in COVID-19 cases, arbitrary enforcement of local laws, and COVID-19-related restrictions” as the reason for the advisory. In June 2023, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) was moved from the Level 3 to the Level 2 list, but travelers are still advised to be cautious in the area due to “arbitrary enforcement of local laws.” Meanwhile, Macau remains at Level 3.

Several Level 3 countries are among the worst countries for human trafficking, as designated by the State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report . Level 3 countries on this list include Papua New Guinea, Guinea Bissau, China and Chad. There are also nine Level 4 countries designated as among the worst for human trafficking: Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Russia, Syria, South Sudan and Venezuela.

Over 70 countries are currently at Level 2, meaning the State Department recommends travelers “exercise increased caution” when traveling to those destinations.

Sweden is designated a Level 2 country, with terrorism noted as the primary risk factor in the country. France, which saw nationwide protests throughout 2023, has civil unrest and terrorism noted as risk factors for its Level 2 status.

In September 2023, Gabon was added to the Level 2 list for civil unrest after having been Level 1. The month prior, a coup in Gabon ousted President Ali Bongo Ondimba, who had been in power since 2009, just minutes after it was announced he had been elected for another term. Within the week, the military junta swore in Gen. Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema – the former leader’s cousin and head of the republican guard – as the country’s head of state. The African Union suspended the country’s membership shortly after the coup, and the new head of state recently celebrated 100 days in power. The cities of Libreville and Port Gentil are specifically noted for risk of crime, and some areas have a nighttime curfew in effect.

In June 2023, Peru was newly designated Level 2 after having been Level 3. The Ambassador of Peru to the U.S. says the update “underscores the safe and stable reality we see on the ground in Peru.” Peru had been designated Level 3 while the country experienced a period of political unrest , following the impeachment and detention of a recently elected president in December 2022.

Bangladesh 's Level 2 travel advisory was updated in October 2023 to add a note about the country’s upcoming general election Jan. 7, 2024. The advisory states “demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence.”

In November 2023, several Level 2 travel advisories were updated with new cautionary information. The advisory for Ghana was updated in November 2023 to reflect threats against LGBTQI+ travelers specifically, noting “anti-LGBTQI+ rhetoric and violence have increased in recent years.” Meanwhile, the advisory for South Africa now notes that routes recommended by GPS may be unsafe with higher risk for crime.

The State Department asks travelers to pay attention to travel advisory levels and alerts , review country information pages for their destinations and read related country security reports before going abroad.

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USA Travel Bucket List: 50 Places to Visit Before You Die

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See recent posts by Megan Johnson

While we’re often daydreaming of beaches in the Maldives and vineyards in Tuscany, there are plenty of amazing destinations in our own backyard. To help you with your bucket list, we’ve rounded up 50 places you must visit in the United States before you die — in no particular order.

1. New York City

Central Park aerial view, Manhattan, New York; Park is surrounded

One of the most-visited places in the world, New York City has numerous attractions, a multicultural population, and something for all types of travelers. Tourists should be sure to fit in a trip to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, the Empire State Building or One World Trade Center, the Brooklyn Bridge, and Times Square. Central Park offers a respite from the crowds, museums are impressive, and a show on Broadway followed by a slice of pizza is an ideal night out.

2. Grand Canyon, Arizona

Majestic Vista of the Grand Canyon at Dusk

The second-most popular national park in the U.S., the Grand Canyon in Arizona wows with its Colorado River-formed canyon, which stretches 277 miles long and over a mile deep. Visitors can see the park from scenic lookout points, via a stunning helicopter ride , during whitewater rafting, while riding a mule, or by hiking down and back.

3. Disney World, Florida

Orlando, FL, USA - November 5 2022 : Magic Kingdom Park. The Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration.

One of the most magical places for people of all ages, the massive Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando has four fun theme parks. Magic Kingdom has the breathtaking Cinderella Castle and nightly fireworks shows, while Epcot allows park-goers to travel around the globe by showcasing 11 different countries — think a pagoda in Japan, a biergarten in Germany, and Eiffel Tower views in France.

 4. New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans Jackson square

Vibrant, historic, and downright fun, New Orleans is a popular city throughout the year. While most people know about the city’s rambunctious Mardi Gras celebrations, NOLA also offers world-class jazz music, delicious Creole and Cajun cuisines, art galleries, ghost tours, and notable buildings such as the 18th-century St. Louis Cathedral. The French Quarter is best explored with a coffee and beignet or a frozen cocktail in hand.

5. San Antonio Missions, Texas

The Alamo in San Antonio Texas during golden sunset. Historic Texas Mission and battle site in the Texas Revolution against Mexico

Sure, you probably know about The Alamo in San Antonio, but it’s actually one of five Spanish missions found across the city. The oldest is Mission Espada , which was built in 1690; original frescoes are still visible inside Mission Concepcion ; and the largest is Mission San José . Visitors can bike or drive between the missions, and park rangers provide free tours.

6. Niagara Falls, New York

Niagara Falls

While we’d argue that Niagara Falls is more impressive from the Canadian side , you can still witness the three stunning waterfalls without a passport. Head to Prospect Point in Niagara Falls State Park for a stellar vantage point, or consider a Maid of the Mist boat tour for a more up-close-and-personal view. Also worth a visit is Cave of the Winds , which is set behind Bridal Veil Falls and offers visitors a sensational view of the falls, often accompanied by a beautiful rainbow.

7. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

Golden Gate, San Francisco, California, USA.

Opened in 1937, the famous Golden Gate Bridge is an orange-colored suspension bridge that impresses with its main span of 4,200 feet and a total height of 746 feet. It connects San Francisco to Marin County, where the Golden Gate National Recreation Area has hiking, historical attractions, and lovely vistas of the bridge and San Francisco. After snapping a photo on land, travelers can bike or walk across the bridge for more picturesque views.

8. Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

Great Smoky Mountains, autumn sunrise Tennessee

Both a national park and UNESCO World Heritage site, the Great Smoky Mountains is the most frequented national park in America. The gorgeous park is located in both Tennessee and North Carolina, and it has tons of recreational opportunities, including hiking, fishing, horseback riding, and water tubing. Fall also offers striking foliage.

9. Washington, D.C.

The Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.

As the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., is a must-visit for anyone who wants to see where the government is run. From the White House to the Capitol to the Supreme Court Building, all three branches of government are found here, in addition to historical monuments such as the Lincoln Memorial , the Washington Monument , and World War II Memorial . Visitors can also spend hours touring the various Smithsonian museums within the National Mall .

10. Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park

a bison grazes near the steaming old faithful geyser in yellowstone national park

One of the most well-known geological features in the country, Old Faithful , is a cone geyser within Yellowstone National Park . It was discovered in 1870 and got its name from its frequent and generally predictable eruptions, which occur about every 60 to 110 minutes. An average eruption is 130 to 140 feet high, expelling 3,700 to 8,400 gallons of water (depending on the length of the eruption).

Related: The 6 Best National Parks for Winter Wildlife Spotting

11. South Beach, Miami

Miami Florida USA

South Beach is Miami‘s trendy hot spot, home to one of the prettiest beaches in America, gorgeous Art Deco architecture, tasty Cuban fare, and popular nightlife spots. A Latin American influence pervades the city at large, and in South Beach, tourists can shop at fancy boutiques, eat cheap Cuban sandwiches, and lounge at posh beach clubs . A beachside boardwalk is great for strolling or biking and, of course, people-watching.

12. The Narrows, Zion National Park

Orange glow hits the canyon walls in The Narrows of Zion National Park

Within Utah’s Zion National Park , The Narrows is the narrowest section of Zion Canyon. It’s the park’s most popular hike due to its striking setting within a gorge, where the river acts as the trail. Hikers must wade in water that varies from ankle- to waist-deep. It’s particularly pleasant in the hot summer months, but visitors should stay on top of weather conditions, as it’s known for dangerous flash flooding.

13. Santa Fe, New Mexico

Cityscape view in Santa Fe, New Mexico mountains of road street through community neighborhood with green plants summer and adobe traditional houses

Surrounded by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Santa Fe is a charming artsy town with a strong Native American influence. Pueblo-style architecture, a central plaza where vendors sell various handicrafts, and historic sights such as Loretto Chapel give the city a unique feel, plus there’s plenty to keep busy throughout the year. The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and restaurants serving New Mexican cuisine are additional highlights.

14. Pacific Coast Highway, California

Bixby Creek Bridge Big Sur California

Whether you choose to drive the entire 659 miles of the Pacific Coast Highway or just a fraction thereof, you’ll be rewarded with sensational vistas. Certain routes can be done in a day, but we recommend taking your time by starting in San Francisco and slowly making your way to Orange County. The best views are arguably in Big Sur, where you’ll find rugged cliffs against the ocean on one side and redwood forests on the other.

15. Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Just outside of Washington, D.C., is Arlington National Cemetery , which spans 624 acres and houses the graves of 400,000 active duty service members, veterans, and their families. The graves of President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis are frequently visited, as is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which is a monument dedicated to deceased U.S. service members whose remains haven’t been identified. The moving Changing of the Guard can be witnessed every 30 or 60 minutes while the cemetery is open, depending on the time of year.

16. Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee, December 6, 2022: Broadway Street on a rainy night.

Even those who don’t love country music will likely be enamored with Nashville, Tennessee. Excellent restaurants and hip bars make for a thriving nightlife scene, and the live music — much of which is country — on Broadway is not to be missed. Top attractions include Centennial Park for its full-size replica of Greece’s Parthenon, the Grand Ole Opry concert hall, and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum .

17. Freedom Trail, Boston

Freedom Trail in Boston

Boston played a large part in America’s independence, and the city’s Freedom Trail passes through 16 historically significant locations. The two-and-a-half-mile trail takes visitors to Boston Common (America’s oldest public park), the site of the Boston Massacre, Paul Revere’s House , and the USS Constitution (the oldest commissioned ship that acts as a museum today).

18. Joshua Tree National Park, California

Purple sunset and rising moon in Joshua Tree National Park, USA

Located in southern California, east of Palm Springs, Joshua Tree National Park is a dreamy destination known for its distinctive-looking namesake trees, big boulders that are ideal for rock climbing, and stellar stargazing opportunities . Visitors can drive through, hike around, camp, or ride horseback through the desert landscape.

19. Road to Hana, Maui

Road to Hana: The Hana Highway turns to cross a one lane bridge beside a waterfall on the north coast of Maui.

The top attraction in Maui on TripAdvisor, the Road to Hana (Hana Highway) is a 64.4-mile drive that connects Kahului, where the airport is located, to the town of Hana on Maui’s more rugged east coast. The drive is not for the faint of heart, as it has over 600 switchbacks and 56 one-lane bridges, but the speed limit never surpasses 25 miles per hour. Travelers who hit the road are rewarded with spectacular lush greenery, stunning black-sand beaches, multiple waterfalls, and spots to buy banana bread.

20. Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre, Colorado

Red Rocks at sunrise, near Denver Colorado

Located about a 30-minute drive outside of Denver, the Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre is an open-air concert and entertainment venue. The entire theater, including the seating, was built into the red rocks, which make for a phenomenal acoustic experience. Tourists can run up and down the steps in the morning and see big-name acts at night. Past performers include The Beatles, U2, Coldplay, and John Denver.

Related: Maui vs. Kauai: Which Hawaiian Island Is Better for You?

21. Horseshoe Bend, Arizona

amazing sundown at horseshoe bend, arizona

Horseshoe Bend is where the Colorado River takes a horseshoe-shaped bend in Glen Canyon. Visitors to Horseshoe Bend have skyrocketed since it gained recognition through Instagram. It’s easily accessible, as travelers can hike a one-and-a-half-mile round-trip trail from a parking lot off the highway.

22. Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas, USA cityscape on the river and walkway.

The capital of Texas, Austin, is a hip, youthful city where low-frills barbecue joints and big-name tech corporations coexist. From stand-up paddleboarding on Lake Austin to topless sunbathing at Barton Springs Pool , there are a lot of ways to beat the daytime heat. Nights can be spent at upscale restaurants, Sixth Street bars with live music, or watching bats fly out from under the Congress Avenue Bridge. Buy a University of Texas T-shirt and some cowboy boots while you’re there.

23. Space Needle, Seattle

Amazing View of Seattle From Far Away with mountain tops on the horizon

An iconic landmark in Seattle, the Space Needle is an observation tower that was built for the 1962 World’s Fair. With its antenna, it rises 604 feet, allowing for panoramic views of Seattle and the surrounding water. A 100-million-dollar renovation included the creation of the Loupe, the world’s first and only rotating glass floor. A cafe and wine bar entice visitors to linger.

24. Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota

American flag waiving in front of Mount Rushmore

Located in South Dakota, this famous landmark depicts four American presidents carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore . Constructed between 1927 and 1941, the sculpture features the 60-foot heads of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.

25. Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, New Mexico

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Mass Ascension at Sunrise, Hot Air Balloons

Every year since 1972, Albuquerque hosts the International Balloon Fiesta, in which the sky is filled with colorful hot air balloons. For nine days in October, families and friends gather to watch the largest balloon festival in the world.

26. Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park

The Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park (the largest hot spring in the United States, and the third largest in the world)

Another top attraction (and the most-photographed) within Yellowstone National Park is the Grand Prismatic Spring, which is the largest hot spring in the United States, measuring 370 feet in diameter. It’s best viewed from above, as the spring has vibrant bands of rainbow colors.

27. Griffith Observatory, California

Los Angeles Griffith Observatory sunset

Situated on the southern slope of Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park, Griffith Observatory is a popular observatory with free admission. It has stellar views of the Hollywood Sign and Los Angeles, and visitors can use telescopes, the planetarium, various events, and a cafe.

28. Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier National Park

Biker on the Going-to-the-Sun Road with mountain background, Glacier National Park, Montana

Completed in 1932, Going-to-the-Sun Road is a two-lane highway that allows visitors to traverse the 50-mile width of Glacier National Park . Various scenic lookouts and noteworthy hikes can be found off the road, and it crosses the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. Due to weather conditions, it generally doesn’t open until late June or early July.

29. Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA Skyline

Whether for a bachelorette party, Celine Dion concert, or business conference, there’s a good chance you’ve at least thought about going to Las Vegas. Sin City is renowned for its world-class casinos, nightlife, and celebrity-chef-helmed restaurants, not to mention rowdy pool parties with famous DJs. It’s not all debauchery, though, and many kid-friendly activities dot the city.

30. Acadia National Park, Maine

Bass Harbor Head lighthouse at sunset. Bass Harbor Head Light is a lighthouse located within Acadia National Park, Maine, marking the entrance to Bass Harbor and Blue Hill Bay

Maine‘s beauty is undeniable, and that’s perhaps best displayed at Acadia National Park . Located near Bar Harbor, the 47,000-acre park sits along the coast and offers ample wildlife, such as moose and peregrine falcons, beaches, lush forests, and granite ridges formed by glaciers. While summer is a popular time to visit, the fall foliage makes for great autumn hiking.

Related: Top 9 Las Vegas Hotels on the Strip for Every Type of Traveler

31. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Girls on vacation hiking trip. Friends standing next to Thor's Hammer hoodoo on top of mountain looking at beautiful view. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, USA

Located a four-hour drive south of Salt Lake City, Bryce Canyon is a national park best known for having the largest concentration of hoodoos (irregular rock columns) in the world. The park was designated an International Dark Sky Park in 2019 due to the great nighttime visibility and many astronomy-related programs on offer.

32. Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, Philadelphia

Liberty Bell old symbol of American freedom in Philadelphia Pennsylvania

Often considered a symbol of America’s independence, the iconic Liberty Bell in Philadelphia was ordered by Pennsylvania Assembly in 1751. It was previously housed in Independence Hall, the building where both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were adopted. It has since been moved to the Liberty Bell Center within the Independence National Historical Park .

33. Charleston, South Carolina

Broad Street Panorama in Charleston, South Carolina, USA

The 1670-founded Charleston is South Carolina’s oldest city, Today, it offers a lovely mix of old-fashioned Southern charm and contemporary style. Cobblestone streets filled with horse-drawn carriages and striking mansions can be found in its well-preserved Historic District, while notable wartime places, like Fort Sumter and Patriots Point , sit nearby. Cute boutique shops and traditional Southern comfort food appeal to visitors, as does Folly Beach , located a 25-minute drive south of the city.

34. Hot Springs, Arkansas

Hot Springs National Park

Hot springs may conjure images of Iceland or Costa Rica, but the aptly named city of Hot Springs, Arkansas, offers U.S. travelers ample opportunities to soak in naturally heated springs. The town is located in the Ouachita Mountains, about one hour from Little Rock. Bathhouse Row has several bathhouse options, including places for coed or gender-segregated experiences. A few dispensers around the city let people obtain cold spring water straight from the mountain.

35. Redwood National and State Parks, California

Hiker in Sequoia National Park, California, USA

Roughly equidistant from Portland and San Francisco, the Redwood National and State Parks encompass 139,000 acres and three state parks. Visitors here will find stunning redwood trees, which are some of the largest, tallest, and oldest trees in the world. On average, redwoods live between 500 and 700 years, and a typical redwood here measures 300 feet tall and 16 to 20 feet in diameter.

36. Oahu, Hawaii

Beautiful day at world famous and popular snorkeling spot Hanauma bay in Honolulu on Oahu, Hawaii

The most popular of the Hawaiian islands, Oahu provides picture-perfect beaches, hiking opportunities, and the conveniences of a city — think budget-friendly hotels, chain restaurants, and an international eatery. Top attractions include Waikiki Beach in Honolulu , Diamond Head — a dormant volcano crater that can be hiked — and North Shore, a beach with huge waves that make it a frequent host of international surfing competitions in the winter. The Pearl Harbor National Memorial is also worth a visit.

Girl watching Aurora borealis in Fairbanks, Alaska

The 49th state of Alaska is stunning, with greenery-filled forests, tons of wildlife (think bears, humpback whales, and moose), and massive glaciers. However, it’s not the easiest place to explore, as even the capital of Juneau has no roads leading out of the city. Arguably the best way to see Alaska is on a cruise , stopping at ports like Ketchikan , which has a strong native culture and renowned salmon fishing.

38. Sonoma, California

Sunset at Sonoma California patchwork vineyard at harvest. Vista of Sonoma Valley wine country, with patches of yellow and green vines in autumn. Sunbeams shine on mountains and valleys.

While we love Napa Valley in California, Sonoma provides a slightly less touristy wine-country experience. Sonoma is set among beautiful rolling hills, and many of the over 400 wineries within Sonoma County have a laid-back atmosphere that will put visitors at ease. Like Napa, Sonoma has tons of top-notch restaurants, relaxing spas, bike rentals, and charming bed-and-breakfasts to choose from.

39. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Man on hilltop viewing Crater Lake with full moon

A four-hour drive south of Portland, Crater Lake National Park in Oregon is 183,224 acres and home to America’s deepest lake. Crater Lake, a caldera formed by the eruption of Mount Mazama volcano, is 1,943 feet deep at its deepest point and has a striking deep blue hue. Swimming and fishing are permitted, plus park-goers can hike, bike, ski, and stargaze.

40. Taos Pueblo, New Mexico

Taos Pueblo; Taos, New Mexico

Located 90 minutes north of Santa Fe, Taos Pueblo is a UNESCO World Heritage site. An active Native American community resides on Taos Pueblo lands, both within the Pueblo and in surrounding areas. The present buildings, which are made of adobe, are believed to have been constructed between 1000 and 1450 A.D. Guided tours are available of the site.

Related: Best Destinations for Adult-Only Vacations

41. Antelope Canyon, Arizona

Antelope canyon, Arizona

Another Instagram darling, Antelope Canyon , is a magnificent, awe-inspiring slot canyon near Horseshoe Bend in Arizona, formed by the erosion of Navajo Sandstone. It’s located on Navajo tribal lands, and the Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons can only be accessed with a guide licensed by the tribe.

42. Minnesota Lakes

Yellow canoe on shore of beautiful lake with island in northern Minnesota at dawn

Minnesota is considered the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” though it actually has nearly 12,000, and many are fantastic spots for a summer vacation. Whether you choose to dip your toes in the chilly Lake Superior — one of the Great Lakes — or go full-on swimming in Mille Lacs Lake (which is large but shallow), there’s a lake in Minnesota for you.

43. Arches National Park, Utah

Jubilation at Delicate Arch, Moab Utah

Just outside of Moab is Arches National Park , famous for its more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches — the largest concentration of them on Earth. The most photographed is the 52-foot-tall, freestanding Delicate Arch, plus the park has many other striking geological formations.

44. Kentucky Derby

LOUISVILLE, KY, USA - October 25, 2017: The exterior of Churchill Downs while it was closed to the public and under construction. A gift shop is open and tours of the inside are available.

Since 1865, the Kentucky Derby horse race has been taking place at Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky. Women wear elaborate hats, while gentlemen don seersucker suits in pastel hues. Visitors come to watch the 20 three-year-old Thoroughbred horses race 1.25 miles — often with a mint julep in hand.

45. Mackinac Island, Michigan

Mackinac Island view from Fort Mackinac in Michigan

Located in Michigan’s Lake Huron, Mackinac Island is a charming 1780-founded island with a population of just around 1,000 (though it sees many tourists during its peak season). A majority of the island is a state park, which has forests, wildlife, and hiking trails. The use of motor vehicles has been outlawed here since 1898, so expect to ride around on bikes or in horse-drawn carriages and buggies.

46. Santa Monica, California

View of Santa Monica beach and Pacific Coast highway in southern California.

Santa Monica sits due west of Los Angeles, and the town lures travelers with its postcard-worthy beach, pier with amusement park rides, and boulevard lined by shops and eateries. A 22-mile paved bike trail is a great way to see the city, plus the famous Muscle Beach , an outdoor gym dating back to the 1930s, is not to be missed.

47. Space Center, Houston

HOUSTON, TEXAS, USA - JUNE 9, 2018: The NASA Space Shuttle Independence and NASA 905 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft at Independence Plaza, Space Center Houston, Texas.

The Space Center in Houston is the official visitor center of NASA’s Johnson Space Center and home of NASA Mission Control and astronaut training. It allows visitors to view more than 400 space artifacts, as well as traveling and permanent exhibits related to space travel.

48. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Picture Lake Reflection of Mount Shuksan

About a 90-minute drive from Denver is Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park , which attracts millions of visitors each year with its 355 miles of hiking trails, scenic drives to more than 12,000 feet in elevation, and over 50 lakes and streams for fishing. Year-round activities abound, and travelers can either camp within the park or stay at a nearby hotel such as the Stanley Hotel (the inspiration for “The Shining”).

49. Fenway Park, Boston

Fenway Park - home of the Boston Red Sox - BOSTON , MASSACHUSETTS

Long considered America’s pastime, baseball is something every U.S. citizen and traveler should witness at least once. There are 30 Major League Baseball teams, and while Wrigley Field in Chicago, Yankee Stadium in New York, and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles are all suitable spots, we love Fenway Park in Boston for its easy-to-reach location. Plus, the many die-hard Red Sox fans make for a fun experience.

50. Alcatraz Island, San Francisco

Alcatraz Island Sail Boats San Francisco California

Located in San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz Island is a fascinating tourist attraction that was developed as a Civil War fortress, followed by a military prison and federal prison (until 1963). Ferries shuttle visitors to the island, where guided tours showcase the complex history of the site and its prison.

How many destinations can you check off the list? Find out down below:

USA Travel Bucket List Checklist

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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.

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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)

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 .

travel list usa

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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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.

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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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Ultimate USA Travel List

National Parks

  • Be awed by nature’s power at  Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
  • Feel humbled by geological giants at  Yosemite National Park, California
  • Drive through dreamy landscapes in  Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
  • Thrill at the might of lava at  Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, Hawai’i
  • Relish the mountain-themed amusements at  Dollywood, Tennessee
  • Immerse yourself in marine life at  Monterey Bay Aquarium, California
  • Feel the magic at  Walt Disney World, Florida
  • Soak up the nostalgic, kitschy charm of  Coney Island, New York

Museums & Galleries

  • Appreciate human creativity at the  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
  • Learn important lessons at the  National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, DC
  • Think of the victims at the  September 11 Memorial and Museum, New York
  • Find your inner rock god at the  Museum of Pop Culture, Washington
  • Enjoy the ups and downs of the  Going-to-the-Sun Road, Montana
  • Travel through US history on the  Colonial Parkway, Virginina
  • Snake past scenic peaks along the  Beartooth Highway, Montana
  • Gape at grand peaks on a  Continental Divide  drive,  Colorado

Eating & Drinking

  • Tuck into Seattle’s smorgasbord at  Pike Place Market, Washington
  • Graze gourmet treats at  LA’s Original Farmers Market, California
  • Imbibe Appalachian moonshine at  Sevier Distilling Company, Tennessee
  • Indulge your gourmet side at  Chelsea Market, New York


  • Tap into musical history at New Orleans’  House of Blues, Louisiana
  • Cheer for the Chicago Cubs at  Wrigley Field, Illinois
  • Dig the acoustics at  Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre, Colorado
  • Speed like a demon at  NASCAR Racing Experience, Florida

Plus many more!

ISBN: 9781838694586

Edition: 1st

Publication Date: September 2021  

Writers: Lonely Planet

320 pages, 320pp color | Dimensions: 237mm × 276mm

Next edition due: Not yet determined

USA Bucket List: BEST Places To Visit In The USA

If you are looking for the BEST in USA bucket list destinations, you have come to the right place. A lot of these destinations grace the top of travel bucket lists.

The United States is full of incredible destinations, activities, things to see, and food to eat. Since the United States covers 50 states, you can imagine there is no shortage of things to do when visiting. On my bucket list I had “visit all 50 states” so I did it over 35 years. It wasn’t easy, but I am glad I was able to do it. It allowed me to challenge myself in ways I never knew possible.

Here are some of the best USA bucket list picks I have selected as a “must do” when visiting.

For more bucket list inspiration you can follow us on Instagram ,  Facebook  and  Pinterest .

Arches National Park

USA Bucket List Destinations And Experiences Not To Miss!

1. grand canyon.

Probably one of the most iconic USA bucket list destinations is to visit the Grand Canyon out west. Located in Arizona, there are various ways to access the park. One of the most thrilling things to do is in Grand Canyon West Rim and that is the Skywalk . This clear glass bottom bridge goes out 70 feet and is over 4,000 feet to the bottom. It is not for the faint of heart but a real thrill, if you are into that sort of thing!

The Grand Canyon is a must to add to your Arizona bucket list .

Some of the other popular attractions at the Grand Canyon that you should add to your USA bucket list are:

  • Sunset hummer tour
  • Grand Canyon tour by air
  • South Rim tour

2. Northern Lights in Alaska

One of the most beautiful bucket list destinations in the USA is Alaska , but adding the Northern Lights is just an incredible bonus. You can see this absolute magic during the darkest nights of the year. For them to be visible, the sky needs to be absolutely dark. The Northern Lights start to show up around Mid September and end around April, but there is no guarantee on when you can actually see them.

One of the best places to see the Northern Lights in Alaska is in Fairbanks. You can take these incredible tours that cross the Arctic Circle and explore the untouched and unmissable wilderness that Alaska offers.

Some of the popular Northern Lights viewing options:

  • Murphy Dome Tour
  • Dog Sledding + Northern Lights Tour 
  • Northern Lights + Chena Hot Springs 

3. Route 66

Route 66 is one of the top USA bucket list checks for many. This road used to connect Chicago to Santa Monica, which is a large part of the US. It is known for its fun highway stops and quirky motels. This is a great road trip to take your dog on. You can cross of their dog bucket list adventures.

Some of the most iconic stops on Route 66:

  • The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri
  • Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas
  • Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona

4. Pearl Harbor

If you are in Hawaii on the island of Oahu, Pearl Harbor is a must visit. This is unlike a lot of other bucket list destinations because it holds a lot of history and was a tragic event in American history. It is a very somber experience of what happened there and the lives lost, but worth the visit and learning about.

Visiting Pearl Harbor is a top Oahu bucket list experience in Hawaii.

Don’t miss the Dole Pineapple Plantation for a sweet treat in the afternoon.

  • Skip the line Pearl Harbor Tour
  • Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona AND a city tour !

5. Arches National Park

Located in Utah and known for its famous “delicate arch” this National Park is a must.

Some of the best locations in the park:

  • Delicate Arch
  • Double Arch
  • Balanced Rock
  • Corona Arch
  • Devils Garden

6. Mardi Gras

If you love to party, Mardi Gras is for you! Each year, New Orleans has incredible parties, parades with lavish floats, king cake, and tons of beads are thrown. Whatever you have set in your mind about what Mardi Gras is, you are more than likely .. right.

Come prepared to have the best time of your life.

  • Mardi Gras World – Behind the scenes tour 

7. Glacier National Park

Located in Montana, and nearly 1,600 square miles of wilderness, Glacier National Park is a must visit in the USA!

Some of the top places to visit are:

  • Swiftcurrent Lake
  • Lake McDonald
  • Grinnell Glacier

Best Tours:

  • Scenic raft trip through Glacier National Park
  • White water rafting
  • West Glacier Moped rental

8. Mackinac Island

Michigan’s crown jewel, Mackinac Island is a small slice of paradise nestled between the upper and lower peninsulas of the state. What makes this island a top USA bucket list destination is how unique it is. No cars are allowed on the island and the only way to get there is by ferry or small plane.

One thing a lot of people flock to Mackinac for is the fudge and biking the island to see Arch Rock. Mackinac Island is located on Lake Huron and the crystal clear blue waters could trick you into thinking you are actually in the Caribbean!

Top picks for visiting Mackinac Island:

  • Stay at the Grand Hotel
  • Try fudge samples from all the vendors
  • Rent a bike and ride the 8 miles around the island
  • See the sunrise on the lawn of Mission Point Resort
  • Do a bar crawl
  • Eat whitefish anything!

9. Horseshoe Bend

Located in Page, Arizona, Horseshoe Bend is this stunning curvature of the Colorado River with incredible vistas.

You will have to walk to get there, as it is not a roadside attraction. The walk is about 3/4’s of a mile from the parking lot but well worth the view.

Ways to enjoy Horseshoe Bend:

  • Helicopter flight over Horseshoe Bend – BEST VIEWS
  • Raft trip – see Horseshoe Bend from the bottom
  • Floating in the lake

10. Salt Flats in Utah

When most people think of the salt flats they think of the iconic ones in Bolivia – but Utah has incredible ones too! The Bonneville Salt Flats have gained popularity the last couple years after going viral on Instagram

11. The White House

Located in Washington, D.C., this iconic household has been the living quarters for almost every American President. George Washington is the only President who did not live or work in the White House.

Visiting the White House is a top USA bucket list destination because some of the most powerful people in history have lived and worked here. However, you can’t just visit. You need to plan.

In order to get tickets , which are not guaranteed, you need to contact your local member of Congress. You can do this as far out as three months and no less than 21 days before your arrival. The sooner you apply, the better.

Your Washington DC bucket list must have this stop in it to complete your visit.

12. Burning Man

Attending Burning Man is not for everyone. The experience is about art, love, acceptance, and radical self reliance. You need to make friends with people who are also in attendance and bring everything you would need to survive for a week in the hot desert. But if you ask those who have attended, many are repeat guests and fondly love the experience.

Do you think you have what it takes to be a burner?

13. Highway 1

When it comes to road trips, Highway 1 in California is one of the best in the United States. If you want to do the entire trek, you can start and or end at either place, San Diego or San Francisco. The total drive is just over 580 miles and gorgeous.

There are so many amazing things you can add to your California bucket list when visiting.

Popular stops:

  • Bixby Bridge
  • Carmel by the Sea
  • Pfeiffer Beach

14. Statue of Liberty

Visiting the Statue of Liberty in New York is like having a true American moment. New York City is an iconic destination with a plethora of things to see and do that should not be missed.

15. Skyline Drive

Voted one of the best drives for fall foliage in the USA year after year and a top fall bucket list destination, you cannot miss this incredible stretch of 105 miles in Shenandoah National Park across the Blue Ridge Mountains. The best time to visit can be tricky. Sometimes the leaves start to change end of September and others, in October. The higher in elevation you are, the quicker they change.

Once the leaves do change color, expect to experience layers of yellows, oranges and red across the mountain vista. Skyline drive is not only a top Virginia bucket list activity but also a top USA bucket list destination.

16. Monument Valley

Remember that incredible scene in Forest Gump where he is running through Monument Valley and all you see is this stunning landscape in the back with a stretch of road? This is a top bucket list destination in the USA.

While the area is pretty isolated, it sits on the Arizona-Utah border and draws about 250,000 visitors annually.

  • Sunset tour of Monument Valley – 3 hours
  • Stargazing tour
  • Guided tour of Monument Valley 2.5 hours and includes Backcountry
  • Sunrise tour in Monument Valley – 3 hours 

17. Disney World

One simply doesn’t create a USA bucket list and not have Disney World on it. Disney movies and shows have been a household staple for decades and visiting a park that brings iconic shows and characters to life just makes sense.

But visiting Disney is an experience one should have. From the delectable food, fun rides, shows, characters, and overall sense of happiness – it really is a dream.

18. Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is a staple San Francisco bucket list item. Whether you walk below it, drive across it, float in a boat under it, or view it from a distance, It is a must!

  • Golden Gate Bay Cruise 
  • S unset cruise – you will see Alcatraz, Golden Gat Bridge, Angel Island, and more.

19. Havasu Falls

While Havasu Falls is a top bucket list destination in the USA, it won’t be easy! The hike is about 10 miles one way with about a 2,400 foot change in elevation. However, the reward is spectacular.

Even if you are up for the hike, you still need to get a permit, which are always in demand, because the falls are on private land and belong to the Havasupai Indian Tribe. Another thing to consider, because of the strenuous hike, the Tribe requires visitors to stay the night and camp in the canyon, making this hike not available for a one day adventure.

This is definitely something you want to add to your camping bucket list.

This is one of the best things to do in Arizona .

20. Outer Banks

The Outer Banks in North Carolina have long been a popular vacation destination for those on the East Coast. But since the show “Outer Banks” had such success, it has gained more popularity and people are adding this stretch of stunning homes and beaches to their bucket list.

Tours to consider:

  • Ghost walking tour 
  • Offshore sport fishing charter 

21. Mount Rushmore

Located in South Dakota, Mount Rushmor e is carved into Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills with former Presidents of the United States. The four Presidents whose faces you can see are: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.

  • Mount Rushmore AND Black Hills Tour 

22. Lake Tahoe

One of the most naturally beautiful places in the United States is Lake Tahoe. Located in California and Nevada, the lake is an unmissable location.

One of the most popular beaches in Lake Tahoe is in Nevada and called Sand Harbor. The crystal clear lake has shallow areas for swimming, a stretch of sand and giant boulders to climb on. From an aerial view, the boulders look incredible in the clear water.

Other popular attractions in Lake Tahoe:

  • Emerald Bay 
  • Paddleboarding

23. Yellowstone National Park

Visiting Yellowstone during the winter months can be equally as exciting as visiting during the rest of the year. Sure you may not see any bears but you can take a monster sized truck through the park. It’s a fair trade off.

The park is absolutely stunning and lush with water, animals and greenery. There is not really a wrong way to experience.

Best places to see in Yellowstone:

  • Grand Prismatic Spring
  • Old Faithful
  • Morning Glory Pool
  • Mammoth Hot Springs
  • From Jackson – Full day Yellowstone lower loop tour 
  • Yellowstone 2 day guided tour
  • Yellowstone self guided audio driving tour 
  • From Jackson – 2 day tour of Grand Tetons and Yellowstone

24. Las Vegas

The glitz and glam of the lights of Las Vegas are something to behold. There is no city like Las Vegas, which makes it a great USA bucket list destination. 24 hour gambling, dining and a whole ot of fun.

But if that isn’t your style, Las Vegas is so much more! World class shows, celebrity dining, arms reach from many National Parks, pools for days, and a lot of random crazy things like riding a roller coaster on top of a hotel!

Some of the top things to do in Las Vegas:

  • Ride the High Roller
  • Helicopter over the Las Vegas Strip
  • Open air night tour of the city
  • Eiffel Tower Viewing Deck
  • Grand Canyon West and Skywalk Tour
  • Hoover Dam and Lake Mead
  • Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend
  • Rock Star Pool Party!
  • The Neon Museum
  • 7 Magic Mountains Installation
  • Get a photo with the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign

25. Skiing in Colorado

Colorado has absolutely no shortage of ski resorts to offer its visitors. If you are planning an epic USA bucket list, then add this activity to your list!

Aspen may be one of the best places to hit the slopes, so add that to your Colorado bucket list !

Some of the best places to ski in Colorado:

  • Breckenridge

26. The Wave

This is another epic Arizona bucket list destination. It is also one of the hardest things to get tickets for. Only 10 permits are given per day and you can apply up to four months in advance, but with no guarantee.

Pro tip: if you are visiting with other people, everyone should apply with the number of people in your group. If one of you is selected, you will all get to go.

The hike isn’t terribly hard, but it is almost three miles each way without a direct path and a lot of it is in direct sunlight. You should also note, if you get injured, there is no one to rescue you. But, you will get to see one of the most incredible landscapes in the world.

27. Road to Hana

One of the most insane drives in the United States is the Road to Hana in Maui. At first thought, it doesn’t seem crazy. It is just about 64 miles. However, it can take up to five hours to get there! The road is thought to be one of the top five most dangerous drives in the world.

But what makes it dangerous? Once you are driving for awhile, the speed limit drops as low as 10 mile per hour with dizzying switchbacks, blind turns, 59 one way bridges, and it can be intense. However, if you can withstand the drive, there are great rewards.

In Hana you can find red and black sand beaches, a bamboo forest, hiking trails, and a stunning coastline.

  • 75 Minute Hana helicopter tour 

28. White Sands National Monument

White Sands is the 62nd National Park in the United States and most recent, only gaining title in December of 2019. This beautiful destination is just 275 square miles with five hiking opportunities and glittery white landscapes.

If you love wine, then visiting one of the best wine regions in the world should be on your USA bucket list!

Napa Valley is home to about 500 wineries, making it easy to visit the region several times over the course of your life and still never get to them all.

Visiting Napa is a popular day trip from San Francisco if you are short on time, but Napa can stand alone in its own trip. If you love wine and want to slow down and spend a week here, this will be one of the best trips you take.

  • Napa Valley – guided tour with picnic 
  • Aerial sightseeing tour of Napa 

30. Kentucky Derby

Grab your big hat or seersucker suit and a mint julep because the Kentucky Derby is one of the funnest and quickest events in the USA! The race itself only last a couple minutes but its the getting dressed up and mingling before and after that makes this such a fun bucket list event.

One of the best beach destinations in the United States is in Miami . With bout 35 miles of beach front access, Miami is one of America’s hot spots for spring break and year round partying.

Lush with luxury hotels on the coast, sensational food, arts, and clubs that will burn your legs from dancing all night, Miami is a top USA bucket list destination that should not be missed.

Some of the best things to do in Miami:

  • High speed adrenaline boating
  • Visit the Wynwood Walls – 1 hour tour by buggy 
  • Eat all the Cuban food
  • Take a cruise to Millionaires Row 
  • Everglades airboat tour 
  • Miami speedboat tour
  • Parasailing 
  • Museum of graffiti 

32. Hollywood Sign

One of the most iconic views in Los Angeles is the Hollywood sign. For decades its been a top USA bucket list destination and popular in California and the city. Getting one of the coveted shots of this massive sign is a top pick for many.

The Charlie Turner Trailhead offers one of the best views of the Hollywood Sign and is about a three mile hike. Alternatively, you could take a helicopter ride for the most insane view of the sign!

33. Big Sur

A popular stop on Highway 1 in California, Big Sur is a stretch of drive along the Pacific Coast and is known for its crazy turns and two lane highway. There are plenty of camping and hiking opportunities within the area for those looking for an amazing outdoor activity and not just the drive.

  • Self drive tour

34. Niagara Falls

Located on the Niagara River in New York, Niagara Falls is both in the USA and in Canada. Some would argue the Canadian side is better, but we think they are both great! Make sure to ride the Maid of the Mist for an up close and personal experience.

  • Jet adventure whirlpool boat tour
  • 1/2 day small group tour
  • Night illumination tour
  • Scenic helicopter flight over Niagara Falls
  • Niagara Adventure theater tickets

35. Badlands National Park

If you are planning a trip out west, make sure to stop in Interior, South Dakota, population 25, and see the expansive Badlands National Park. But be careful of those pesky prairie dogs and rattle snakes.

36. Antelope Canyon

Another gem from Arizona, Antelope Canyon took the internet by storm the last five years from travelers sharing their vivid imagery from inside. There are narrow crevices and rickety ladders to get down inside if you visit Lower Antelope Canyon, Upper Antelope Canyon is much easier with no ladder. If you can do that, you will be rewarded with an up close and personal view of the incredible Navajo Sandstone.

  • Guided tour to Upper, lower or Canyon X

37. Freedom Trail

Located in Boston, Massachusetts, the Freedom Trail is about a 2.5 mile stretch of history that tells the story of the American Revolution. If you are a history buff or just want to learn more about America, this should be at the top of your list. There is about 16 stops along the path ranging from parks, burying grounds and even a ship!

  • Walking tour Freedom Trail history
  • Self guided walking tour of Freedom Trail 
  • North End to the Freedom Trail walking food and history tour

38. San Antonio Riverwalk

Considered to be the number one bucket list destination in ALL of Texas, the San Antonio Riverwalk experience is for everyone! This 15 mile stretch of urban waterway is loaded with attractions, parks, restaurants, and shopping galore.

  • Hop on hop off riverboat cruise

39. Lake of the Ozarks

Before the popularity of the hit Netflix show “Ozark,” Lake of the Ozarks was always the premier lake destination for the Midwest. And it still is. You will find incredible things to do like golf, boating, shopping, dining, fishing, state parks, and beautiful waterfront accommodation options!

40. Joshua Tree

Some would argue that Joshua Tree National Park is known for its gorgeous landscape and others would say for its attachment to the Coachella Music Festival. Either way, the beauty of this National Park in California is undeniable.

Joshua Tree is a popular day trip from Palm Springs but also has some amazing Airbnb options if you want to stay.

  • Driving tour of Joshua Tree National Park 
  • Joshua Tree self guided audio driving tour

41. Wizarding World of Harry Potter

If you are a fan of Harry Potter at all, you will want to see both parks in Orlando!

Diagon Alley is located in Universal Orlando and Hogsmeade is in Islands of Adventure. The BEST way to see both parks is to purchase a park hopper pass and take The Hogwarts Express between the two.

It is quite exciting how both parks came to life. You can purchase things like butterbeer, wands, and so much more.

42. Get a photo with The Bean in Chicago

Looking for the best things to do in Chicago ? Do not miss this iconic photo opportunity!

  • Tour: Chicago history, culture and architecture

Editorial credit: f11photo /

43. See the gum wall in Seattle

Sure, it’s as gross as it sounds but this is a top Seattle attraction in the city. Once you look at it and take a few photos, you’ll be on your way, but it is memorable.

44. Canyonlands National Park

If you want to see the craziest thing in the USA, head to Canyonlands National Park and look out for Potash Pond. You can’t miss it! The layers of blue against the redish rocks, it is a sight to behold.

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A travel guide for visiting all 50 US states

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In the height of the coronavirus pandemic, our US banking editor Josh Franklin began a travel hobby that became an out-and-out goal. He wanted to see more of America, so he decided to visit all 50 states, from Alabama to Wyoming. He joins Lilah to tell us what he learned about the country, when he felt “this was worth it” and “this was a huge mistake”, what tips he has for our own road trips, and places in the US we might want to visit ourselves.

We love hearing from you. Lilah is on Instagram @lilahrap . You can email her at [email protected].

Links (all FT links get you past the paywall):

– Josh’s piece about travelling to every US state:

– Josh’s four places: Ocean Springs, Mississippi; North OR South Dakota; the Upper Peninsula along the great lakes in Michigan; and Duluth, Minnesota

– Our travel team’s 43 holidays to take in 2024:

– Another great recent travel piece: ‘My weekend as a monk: a Scottish spiritual retreat’:

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International Edition

The 10 best travel experiences in the US, according to Lonely Planet

James Gabriel Martin

Oct 20, 2020 • 6 min read

A volcanic crater at Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone National Park topped the list of best US experiences © Joe Ybarra / EyeEm / Getty Images

The USA boasts countless incredible and unique experiences available to travelers today, from boundless national parks that are sure to thrill outdoor enthusiasts to cultural institutions that educate and inspire. These amazing places are celebrated in the newly released second edition of Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travel List , our bestseller that ranks the 500 most remarkable experiences around the world in order. Of that number, 29 are based in the US. Here’s the top 10 from the list.

1. Sniff out geysers and grizzlies at Yellowstone National Park

An ever popular destination for lovers of wildlife and nature, it’s no wonder that the incredible Yellowstone National Park came out as the top pick for US destinations on Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travel List . This wonderful, rugged site was the first national park in America to receive its designation back in 1872, and today it welcomes around 4 million visitors every year. From wildlife watching to spotting geysers, there’s no shortage of experiences available. Nearly 1000 miles of nature trails are open to hikers and walkers, while campgrounds cater to those wishing to sleep beneath the stars.

Taken at Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

2. Gaze into Earth’s mightiest abyss at Grand Canyon National Park

This astonishing red-rock abyss at Grand Canyon  is one of the most iconic sights in the US, famous the world over, and is a popular and common bucket-list item for many people. Spanning 227 miles in length and plunging to a depth of 1857m, the immensity of the two-billion-year-old chasm has to be admired in person. Most visitors access the canyon from the South Rim , north of Flagstaff, Arizona , with the view being most spectacular at sunrise and sunset. There’s also rafting along the Colorado River, and enticing, dusty trails.


3. Get high on granite peaks in Yosemite National Park 

With endless waterfalls flowing out of the mountains, giant sequoias and an abundance of wild bears, Yosemite is the beauty of raw nature on display. The rocks are the stars of the show however, with granite peaks and famous ridges like Half Dome and El Capitan that draw climbers, photographers and travelers from all over the world. A Unesco World Heritage site, the park also boasts the emerald-green Yosemite Valley, pristine pathways , winding rivers and lush forests. It's also home to hundreds of wildlife species and over 1000 plant species.

Red wood state park

4. Commune with towering trees in Redwood National and State Parks

A glance at Ultimate Travel List is proof that the world is still enthralled by USA’s national and state parks. At Redwood National and State Parks, visitors can stroll amongst some of the tallest, most ancient trees on the planet – Sequoia sempervirens (also known as coastal redwoods), which span beautiful parkland hidden away on California’s northwestern Pacific coast. Up to 115m tall, the 2000-year-old giants stretch through one national park and three companion state parks. Together the parks comprise an International Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site.

golden gate bridge

5. Peer through the fog at the towers of Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco ’s signature landmark is a proud, towering marvel of art deco design that stretches for nearly 2 miles over the strait below. Beloved by photographers who chase the chance to capture its frame set against the foggy backdrop of the city, the Golden Gate Bridge can be appreciated from a few different vantage points, including Fort Point National Historic Site. It’s possible to hike and bike the entire span of the bridge, while the nearby Golden Gate Park is well worth a visit on a fine day.

Monument Valley

6. Yeehaw! Pretend you’re in a classic Western movie in Monument Valley

Enter another world, one of sheer-walled mesas and gigantic buttes, all of which have been the stars of countless films and television series. For 50 million years wind and water eroded the land, chipping away at the surface of the plateau. The sandstone towers that make this site famous ascend to a height of 370m. Straddling the border of Arizona and Utah , this stunning 91,696 acre area has been home to the Navajo people for a very long time. A 15 mile dirt road loops through  Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park , with the formations being visible along the route.

Lava Ocean Entry, Kilauea, Hawaii

7. Rock into Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii isn’t exactly a hard sell, with pristine sun, sand, sea, and culture. Located on a hot spot on the Island of Hawai'i , Volcanoes National Park is a huge draw for people who love to get a first-hand glimpse at the power of nature. Visitors can follow hiking trails into thick primal land, past bubbling lava deserts, steaming craters and sulfurous black rocks, or get views of the summit of Mauna Loa, the world's largest volcano. Kilauea, the most active shield volcano on Earth has been erupting nonstop since 1983, and it’s always advised to check the conditions before visiting the park.

African American Museum

8. Hear untold stories at the National Museum of African American History & Culture

This Smithsonian museum  in Washington, DC , celebrates and spotlights the African American experience and how it shaped the United States of America. Inspired by a Yoruban crown, the bronze-tiered building is a work of art in and of itself. Inside, six main floors tell important stories with galleries featuring early accounts of slavery and segregation, a plantation slave cabin, Harriet Tubman’s hymn book, and a shotgun shell from the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Alabama. Interactive displays allow visitors to drive a car following the Green Book and learn how to dance in step. A welcome addition to the nation’s capital, the museum has proven extremely popular, with tickets often booking out.

Denali: the highest peak on the North American Continent

9. Emulate an elk on the soaring heights of Denali

Rivalling Mt Everest for the title of world’s most imposing mountain, Alaska’s Denali dominates the skyline of the national park. A five-hour ride north of Anchorage and two hours south of Fairbanks, this stunning site enables visitors to explore vast tundra fields and ridge lines as well as look out for the odd caribou, wolf, grizzly bear, or moose. It is also renowned for conserving wildlife, supporting scientific research and ecosystems. The park’s main season is from mid-June to early September, and over 1000 climbers venture here every year in the hopes of reaching incredible heights.

Pirate Alley in the French Quarter, New Orleans

10. Revel in jazz, history and voodoo in the French Quarter 

With picture-perfect pastel buildings, quaint cast iron balconies and beautiful patio gardens, the French Quarter has long been heralded as the beating heart of New Orleans . While today a bustling hotspot for tourists seeking Voodoo shop souvenirs, there is still a compelling magic to be found amidst the crowds at the storied jazz clubs, restaurants and art galleries, and a feeling of deep, rich history that connects the quarter with the city as a whole. 

You might also like:

The most colorful destinations in the US    Top US destinations with European style    The best BBQ joints in the United States   

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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.

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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This Is the Top Restaurant in the U.S. in 2024, According Yelp

We're hungry just looking at this list.

travel list usa

Courtesy of

Yelp is back with its Top 100 places to eat in the United States, and it’s naming a brand-new No. 1 pick. The company announced its 11th annual rankings, highlighting the best of the best eateries from coast to coast , which it determined after analyzing user submissions, highlighting restaurants by ratings, number of reviews, and volume of submissions. The data was then used by an expert panel of community managers who finalized the rankings. 

“From New York City to Houston, and Florida to California, Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat list celebrates the must-visit local restaurants across the United States,” Tara Lewis, Yelp’s trend expert, shared in a statement provided to Travel + Leisure . “This year’s list embraces the unique tastes of our users and spotlights the beloved hidden gems across local communities.” 

Without further ado, this year’s No. 1 spot is Tumerico , a vegetarian Mexican restaurant in Tucson, Arizona. 

Owned by James Beard Award semi-finalist chef Wendy Garcia, the restaurant boasts a 4.8-star rating out of more than 1,000 reviews, with Yelpers citing both the food and the inviting atmosphere as top-notch.

“I'm not vegan or vegetarian, but this place was awesome. The food was prepared perfectly, and it was delicious,” one reviewer wrote. "I came in with a large group, and the service was fast and friendly. The salsa was served warm which was new to me, but very good. The chips were fresh fried and crunchy with a bit of chewy on the inside. Definitely eat here vegan, vegetarian, or not. It's great food.”  

If you visit, expect Mexican fare like Al Pastor Tacos and burritos (vegetarian style, naturally). But don’t expect to eat the same thing twice, as the menu changes daily based on what’s in season. 

According to Yelp, this year’s list saw “overwhelming representation from Asian, Asian Fusion, and Southeast Asian restaurants, making up 25 percent of the list.” That includes the No. 2 choice, Menya Rui in St. Louis, a noodle shop serving more than 200 bowls a day. 

Joining these two spots in the top 10 is Sunny Side Kitchen, a Cali-inspired cafe in Escondido, California; GS Cafe and Ethiopian Cuisine in Covina, California; and Fratellino, an Italian eatery in Coral Gables, Florida in the No. 3 through No. 5 spots, respectively.

These are followed by Broken Mouth, a Korean-Hawaiian comfort food spot in Los Angeles; Adela’s Country Eatery, another noodle joint using local Hawaiian ingredients in Kaneohe, Oahu, Hawaii; Sierra Subs and Salads, a decadent sandwich shop in Three Rivers, California; Gino’s Deli Stop N Buy, one more sandwich-focused destination in San Antonio, Texas; and at No. 10, Uncle Af’s, yet another sandwich heaven in Agoura Hills, California. 

You may have noticed a trend in the above. California is mentioned a lot . 

“With 18 restaurants in the collection, California maintained its spot with the largest share of restaurants on the list,” Yelp added. “Florida followed with 13 restaurants, and Arizona and Texas both have eight spots across their respective states.” But thankfully, this list really is representative of the entire nation.

Check out if any of the top 100 spots are located near you at . 

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Discover the allure of open-air artistry at these 20 sculpture parks and gardens, nominated by an expert panel as the best across the United States. These captivating spaces blend the beauty of nature with the ingenuity of human creation, offering visitors a unique journey through large-scale masterpieces set against the backdrop of the American landscape. Which sculpture park would you most like to explore? Vote for your favorite once per day until polls close on Monday, February 19 at noon ET. The winning sculpture parks, as determined by your vote, will be announced on Friday, March 1. Read the official Readers' Choice rules .

Discover the allure of open-air artistry at these 20 sculpture parks and gardens, nominated by an expert panel as the best across the United States. These captivating spaces blend the beauty of nature with the ingenuity...   Read More

Best Sculpture Park Nominees

Benson Sculpture Garden

Benson Sculpture Garden Loveland, Colorado

Brookgreen Gardens

Brookgreen Gardens Murrells Inlet, South Carolina

deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum

deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum Lincoln, Massachusetts

di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art

di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art Napa, California

Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park

Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park Kansas City, Missouri

Dr. Evermor's Sculpture Park

Dr. Evermor's Sculpture Park North Freedom, Wisconsin

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park Grand Rapids, Michigan

Grounds For Sculpture

Grounds For Sculpture Hamilton, New Jersey

Laumeier Sculpture Park

Laumeier Sculpture Park St. Louis, Missouri

Lynden Sculpture Garden

Lynden Sculpture Garden Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Michigan Legacy Art Park

Michigan Legacy Art Park Thompsonville, Michigan

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden Minneapolis, Minnesota

Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park

Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park University Park, Illinois

National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden Washington, D.C.

Olympic Sculpture Park

Olympic Sculpture Park Seattle, Washington

Queen Califia's Magical Circle

Queen Califia's Magical Circle Escondido, California

Storm King Art Center

Storm King Art Center New Windsor, New York

Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden

Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden New Orleans, Louisiana

Tippet Rise Art Center

Tippet Rise Art Center Fishtail, Montana

The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park

The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park Indianapolis, Indiana

About 10best readers' choice awards.

Nominees are submitted by a panel of experts. 10Best editors narrow the field to select the final set of nominees for the Readers’ Choice Awards. Readers can vote once per category, per day. For any questions or comments, please read the FAQ or email USA TODAY 10Best .

The Experts

Allison tibaldi.

Allison Tibaldi

Allison Tibaldi is a travel and food writer based...   Read More

Allison Tibaldi is a travel and food writer based in New York City. She has lived in Rome, Tuscany, Melbourne Australia, Toronto and Los Angeles.  She studied early childhood development in graduate school and firmly believes that travel is the best education.  She writes for numerous publications including CNN, Travel Channel, HGTV, am New York, Emirates Open Skies, Family Traveller and Travel Weekly. 

Allison Tibaldi

Jacky Runice

Jacky Runice

Born in Bucktown when bulletproof was a home...   Read More

Born in Bucktown when bulletproof was a home safety choice and not a coffee order, Jacky Runice has been knocking around Chicago as a professional print, online and broadcast journalist and editor specializing in separating the riff from the raff in culture, entertainment, food, travel and pure unadulterated fun. Jacky is a member of the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA). In her best Chicagoese, Jacky asks, "Who has the time or money to blow on hotels, attractions, restaurants, exhibits and activities that blow?"

Jacky Runice

Jamie Davis Smith

Jamie Davis Smith

Jamie is a travel writer and recovering attorney....   Read More

Jamie is a travel writer and recovering attorney. She loves visiting everything from theme parks to ancient ruins, usually with her children. Jamie can be reached at [email protected]

Jamie Davis Smith

Meg St-Esprit

Meg St-Esprit

Meg St-Esprit is a journalist based in Pittsburgh...   Read More

Meg St-Esprit is a journalist based in Pittsburgh who covers family travel, lifestyle, education, and parenting. With their four kids in tow, she and her husband love to travel anywhere and everywhere — but have a soft spot for camping and outdoor adventures. In fact, her kids are well on their way to achieving their goal of visiting all 124 state parks in Pennsylvania. Meg believes travel doesn’t need to be luxurious or costly to be valuable, and aims to share that with her audience. Meg’s work has appeared in publications such as  The New York Times, Thrillist, The Washington Post, Fodor’s, Yahoo, Good Housekeeping, Romper , and more. Follow Meg on Instagram and Twitter at @megstesprit or check out her work on

Meg St-Esprit

Wendy O'Dea

Wendy O'Dea

Born and raised in western New York, Wendy O’Dea ...   Read More

Born and raised in western New York, Wendy O’Dea moved to L.A. to attend the USC graduate School of Journalism and stayed for the innovative and creative lifestyle the city offers. Other than the traffic and never-ending drought, there’s not much about California she doesn’t love. You can track her gallivanting ways on Instagram via @WendyTravels or at . 

Wendy O'Dea

10Best Editors

10Best Editors

USA TODAY 10Best provides users with original,...   Read More

USA TODAY 10Best provides users with original, unbiased and experiential travel coverage of top attractions, things to see and do, and restaurants for top destinations in the U.S. and around the world.

10Best Editors

Back to Readers' Choice

Caution October 19, 2023

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Ice storm hits parts of US ahead of expected major thaw

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Ten states from Arkansas to Pennsylvania are on alert for snow, freezing rain and sleet as the latest dangerous winter storm moves through the U.S.

Ice storm warnings are in effect for Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri. The warnings are expected to expire later in the day as the ice turns to rain.

On Monday afternoon, Texas is facing heavy rain while the region from St. Louis to Chicago deals with a coating of ice on the roads.

By Tuesday morning, the rain and snow will move into the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley.

By the morning, the ice will mostly turn to rain from Chicago to Detroit, but a slick morning commute is still expected.

On Tuesday afternoon and evening, the snow will stretch from Michigan to upstate New York to New England. A few inches of snow is possible.

After the ice storm is over, rounds of heavy rain are forecast to pummel the South this week, with some areas forecast to see more than 1 foot of rain. Flooding is possible from Texas to Georgia.

Meanwhile, heavy rain is heading to the West Coast.

Flood watches are in effect in Sacramento in Northern California and San Diego in Southern California. Rainfall rates could reach half an inch per hour in San Diego.

Winter storm warnings were issued for the Sierra Nevada mountain range, where more than 1 foot of snow is possible. Some areas around Lake Tahoe are also under an avalanche warning .

And temperatures are expected to rise later in the week for the Midwest, Northeast and Southeast.

Temperatures could surpass 50 degrees in New York City, 80 degrees in Tampa, Florida, and 60 degrees in Memphis, Tennessee.

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See list of stars performing at Universal Orlando’s 2024 Mardi Gras concerts

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Concert tickets are expensive these days, but Universal Orlando Resort guests can catch several big names without paying anything extra, as part of the resort’s annual Mardi Gras concert series.

The Florida resort unveiled 2024’s lineup to USA TODAY first on Thursday. 

This year’s headliners range from DJ Khaled and Luis Fonsi to Queen Latifah and Barenaked Ladies, who’ve performed there previously. 

In recent years, the concert series has drawn the likes of Maren Morris, Patti LaBelle , Diana Ross and Jason Derulo .

Here’s what fans should know about the 10 live shows and larger Universal Mardi Gras: International Flavors of Carnaval celebration, kicking off next month.

Who is performing at Mardi Gras 2024 at Universal?

  • Feb. 3: Walker Hayes
  • Feb. 10: The All-American Rejects
  • Feb. 17: Elle King
  • Feb. 18: KC and the Sunshine Band
  • Feb. 24: Barenaked Ladies
  • March 2: DJ Khaled
  • March 9: Ava Max
  • March 10: Queen Latifah
  • March 16: Luis Fonsi
  • March 17: Zedd

The concerts are held at Universal Studios Florida’s Music Plaza stage, near the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster toward the front of the park. Shows begin at 8:30 p.m.

What are the dates for Mardi Gras at Universal?

Universal Mardi Gras: International Flavors of Carnaval runs from Feb. 3 through April 7 at Universal Studios Florida.

Concerts are only held on select nights, but every day, guests can catch a festive Mardi Gras parade. This year’s parade is themed around elements like earth, wind and fire and includes six elaborate new floats.

Is Mardi Gras at Universal a separate ticket?

No. The seasonal event is included with the price of park admission , which starts at $119 per day for guests age 10 and up. Residents of the U.S., Canada and Latin America can get two free additional days with the purchase of a 2-Park, 2-Day ticket. 

Of course, guests who want to try event-exclusive snacks will have to pay for those. More than 60 menu items inspired by Carnaval celebrations around the world will be served up at kiosks through the park. Universal Orlando’s hotels will also offer limited-time Mardi Gras dishes. 

5 mistakes I made at Universal Orlando: How to save more money and time than me

Is Universal Mardi Gras kid friendly?

Yes. Universal Mardi Gras: International Flavors of Carnaval is a family-friendly event.


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