Rounding up the best places to visit in the US has been on our list of things to do for years. We finally put it together with a little help from our team. The US is a beautiful and vast country. It has the most beautiful national parks, bustling cities, action-packed state parks, and more cultural attractions than you could see in a lifetime. A trip to the US is bound to be memorable.
Of course, you don’t need us to persuade you how great the US is to visit. Canadians especially love road tripping around the USA and we’ve taken our share of drives around the country. So to get your excited for your next vacation or great American road trip, we’re here to help you choose the best places to visit in the US. There’s a lot to narrow down, so we’ve created a complete guide to the best places to visit in the US. Sit back and browse; let’s find the best places for you.
Best Cities to Visit in the USA
Sure, there is something romantic about small beach towns in America. Just don’t miss out on the country’s incredible major cities. These cities are some of the best places to visit in the US. Iconic, exciting, and entertaining, these destinations all warrant a place on your US itinerary.
1. San Francisco
San Francisco is one of the most easily recognized cityscapes in the US. You’ll be familiar with the bright red Golden Gate Bridge, Union Square, and San Francisco’s cable cars. If you do nothing else, visiting Hawk Hill for a perfect picture of the Golden Gate Bridge and taking a cable car ride are must-do activities.
San Francisco is the fourth biggest city in the US and sits in the north of California. The city is full of culture and history, also home to Alcatraz Island. This notorious prison once held Al Capone. San Francisco makes a great city break for anyone wanting a taste of iconic destinations in the US. However, San Francisco is especially well-suited to those who enjoy cities with lots of historical backstories.
Read more about San Francisco
2. New York
New York. Where to start? New York is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the US. The city’s attractions are practically immortalized, and the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, and Central Park are all household names. New York has plenty of culture too, with attractions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Natural History Museum. And the food scene? Don’t get us started.
New York is the US’ largest city. It is best for visitors who love action-packed itineraries and fast-paced holidays. New York is known as the ‘city that never sleeps’ – perfect for those who want to take entertainment and sightseeing seriously. You can check out our five day New York itinerary, our guide on where to stay, and where to find the best skyline views.
3. Las Vegas
Las Vegas is one of the best cities in the US to let your hair down. Many describe Las Vegas as running on a hyper-reality, and the flashy, neon-filled city in the middle of the desert certainly runs at a hundred miles per hour.
Las Vegas is primarily a partying destination. Along The Strip, you’ll find more casinos than hot dinners and some of the rowdiest, indulgent nightclubs in the states. The city gets its Sin City nickname from how it turns a blind eye to behaviors and activities deemed immoral elsewhere. If you want to party, Las Vegas is the place.
Of course, Vegas isn’t too far from natural attractions either. Cross the Colorado River and the Arizona border, and you’ll have Grand Canyon National Park, Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, and mountains like Mt Tipton to explore. You can also read about things to do off The Strip in Las Vegas here.
4. Washington DC
Washington DC is the US capital and the heart of American politics. Washington has everything, from the State Capitol Building to the White House. If you love political history or keep up with current politics, stop by for a White House tour or at least a picture by its gates.
Washington DC is also where you’ll find the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. These commemorative monuments are located in the National Mall, a large green space home to special memorials. The National Mall is a beautiful, informative place to spend a sunny day.
5. New Orleans
New Orleans is another fast-paced addition to our list. New Orleans is known for creole food, live music, and nightlife – an incredible mix, in our opinion. If you want a flamboyant, outgoing city to visit in the US, you’ll have lots of fun in New Orleans.
Bourbon Street, the French Quarter, and Garden District are the city’s most famous areas. In short, Bourbon Street is where to party, the French Quarter is where to take pictures, and the Garden District is where to get a morning coffee. New Orleans is full of incredible, diverse districts, so allow yourself time to see them all.
If you are visiting the US in February or March, New Orleans is an even better choice as it hosts one of the world’s best Mardi Gras. The city’s partying is on par with Las Vegas, just more authentic and cultural than indulgent. New Orleans has lots to do and experience.
Read more about New Orleans
Miami is best known for its beaches and cityscape. Everywhere you look along the coast is photogenic. Miami is a place made famous by postcards, travel photographers, and social media influencers.
You can walk the beach boardwalk, check out the Wynwood Walls street art, and enjoy the downtown nightlife and hospitality venues. Even just relaxing along Miami’s coastline is a heavenly way to pass your time. There are so many things to do that you could spend weeks in Miami.
The Miami coastline is easy to recognize. The skyscrapers stretch right up to the sand – luxurious, sunkissed, and perfect for a break in the sun. Miami gets 3,200 hours of sun a year, just in case you needed any more persuading.
7. Los Angeles
Los Angeles is a gem on the West Coast. It has Hollywood, stunning beaches, and delicious cuisine. Los Angeles is where the rich and famous flock and where the movie stars are best remembered – with some earning a spot on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Visiting Los Angeles, you have to see all the major Hollywood attractions. There is plenty to see and do, from the Hollywood sign to Universal Studios Hollywood. Los Angeles has hiking trails, theme parks, and museums galore. When you want downtime, you can head straight to the beach for a swim, surf, or sunbathe.
Los Angeles is a popular road trip stopover for those completing road trips in the US. Located in southern California, the city has excellent weather. It is also well-located to combine with cities like San Diego and San Francisco.
Read more about Los Angeles
Chicago is one of the northernmost destinations and is the third largest city in the US. Once known for 1920s gangsters and prohibition drinking, Chicago is now associated with cuisine, bold architecture, and lakeside living.
Chicago sits on the shores of Lake Michigan, the second largest of North America’s famous Five Lakes. It has a colorful and varied history – full of mischief, yet is now a safe tourist destination in the US. On a sunny day, Millennium Park is a stunning spot to relax. While on a rainy day, there are plenty of indoor things to do like visiting the Art Institute of Chicago.
If you want a city full of life and where the past clearly still influences the character of the present, Chicago is a fun choice.
Texas isn’t all small towns and deserts. Austin is the live music capital of the world and the beloved state capital of Texas.
Austin is famous for concerts and greenspace. Texas is home to country music, but Austin is also known for its blues and rock. Fans of these genres will especially love visiting Austin, and you should check for concerts in advance.
Zilker Metropolitan Park is arguably the best green space in Austin. The 351-acre park has multiple sections, including a botanical garden and a spring-fed pool for swimming. However, Austin is also surrounded by lakes like Lady Bird Lake. Austin’s lakes are prime fishing, boating, and swimming spots – great for those who want a laidback US city experience.
Austin is an excellent option if you want to experience the south and city culture outside of major destinations like New York and Vegas. It’s still fantastic for tourists, but the city focuses more on residential quality of life than attracting visitors. Austin is a little different, which we like.
10. San Diego
San Diego is another west coast hotspot. The Californian city is blessed with 70 miles of beaches and is an excellent alternative to visiting Los Angeles. San Diego is just above the Mexican border and has a warm climate all year round. Livable, warm, and full of tourist attractions, San Diego, is one of the best places to visit in the US.
The CBD is set around its harbor, and the city has a long naval history. You can discover more about San Diego’s naval heritage at the San Diego Maritime Museum. Alternatively, enjoy the sunshine at Balboa Park or Coronado Beach. The city has lots of green spaces and coastal areas to relax. You’ll have fun choosing where to stay in San Diego, as there are so many interesting neighborhoods.
San Diego has been a favored getaway for years, attracting historical figures like the Kennedys and Marilyn Munroe. If you want to experience California outside of Los Angeles, the city is a warm, fun, but laidback choice. Click here for more inspiration on things to do in San Diego.
Read more about San Diego
Best National Parks to Visit in the USA
It’s no secret that the US has some of the world’s top national parks. Whether you like hiking trails, mountain biking, or stunning natural attractions – we’ll find a match for you.
These are some of the best national parks to visit in the US. Let’s dive straight in.
11. Grand Canyon National Park
Visiting Grand Canyon National Park is a dream for most, and it is easily one of the best places to visit in the US. As you’ve probably guessed, the park contains the Grand Canyon, the most famous canyon in the world.
It’s known for its stunning views and the Great Unconformity phenomenon, a billion-year gap in fossil records visible by the sudden change in rock. However, there are also plenty of amazing things to do in and around the Grand Canyon. You can take one of the many hiking trails, visit its viewpoints, go whitewater rafting down the Colorado River, or take a scenic helicopter tour over the Grand Canyon.
The park is also brilliant for scenic swimming spots. Upper Navajo Falls is the best spot, and you can swim in the plunge pool, heading through to the cave behind the falls if you dare.
The Grand Canyon is located in Arizona, yet it is just a four-hour drive away from Las Vegas. It is well-combined with a visit to Sin City or Phoenix. The Grand Canyon is a worthy overnight stop-off point if you are taking a road trip. Either way though, the iconic park is a great US destination.
Read more about Grand Canyon
12. Yellowstone National Park
We’ll be visiting Yellowstone again later this year and we’ve been told that there have been plenty of cancellations. The wildfires are not affecting some parts of the park and it is open for business. Yellowstone is open and you can book accommodation easier than any other year right now. So, now is the time!
Yellowstone is another icon amongst US national parks. Yellowstone National Park is famous for its geothermal and volcanic activity. It is full of geysers, hot springs, and a supervolcano. Its dormant but powerful volcano last erupted 70,000 years ago.
Yellowstone is one of the best places to visit in the US and an exciting destination to experience the power of nature. You can watch the geysers explode, the most famous of which is Old Faithful. You can also hike to Yellowstone’s hot springs, including Grand Prismatic Spring which is popular because of its eye-catching colors.
Yellowstone is often described as a geothermal playground, and it’s the best place to experience geothermal activity in the US.
13. Zion National Park
If Yellowstone is known for its geothermal attractions, Zion National Park is known for its sandstone cliffs and rock formations. Zion is one of the best places to visit in the US for a desert experience and has incredible hiking trails with eye-catching natural attractions. The Great Arch, Kanarra Falls, and Angels Landing ridge are all fantastic spots to visit.
Zion also has some impressive canyons. The Narrows is the most famous section of Zion Canyon, and its hiking trail leads you through the bottom – which is just 20 to 30 feet wide. Pack water shoes and shorts as in some parts, you’ll be wading through the Virginia River.
The park is excellent for any outdoor activity lovers. Still, it has enough scenic viewpoints and things to do and see for reluctant hikers as well. You can read our detailed guides to the best hiking trails and where to stay in Zion National Park.
14. Glacier National Park
Fancy a contrast from desert landscapes? Glacier National Park is a stunning alpine area in Montana with over 1 million acres of hiking trails, wildlife ranges, mountain biking paths, and mountains to climb.
Glacier National Park is the US’ answer to Canada’s Banff National Park. It is the best place to visit for crystal clear alpine lakes framed by dramatic mountain ranges. The park has 25 glaciers to hike to and explore . And, if you are fortunate, you can even spot the Northern Lights.
You can spot lots of wildlife in the park – from mountain goats to wolves and grizzly bears. If you love nature and wild animals, it makes a great destination in Montana.
15. Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park might be best known for waterfalls, but the nearly 750,000-acre park has lots more things to do and see under its belt. Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Yosemite’s valleys create perfect viewpoints, such as Glacier Point, Tunnel View, and Taft Point. Yosemite is also brilliant for skiing – so head to a spot like Badger Pass if you want to learn or show off your skills.
Yosemite Falls are the postcard image of the park. The waterfall drops from granite cliffs, with lower and upper trails that you can walk up for a better view. Mist Trail, Nevada Fall, and Vernal Falls are other popular waterfalls to visit in the park.
Yosemite is conveniently located within a three-hour drive of San Francisco. Yosemite and San Francisco are a good match if you want to combine a city break with a national park.
16. Arches National Park
Arches National Park is one of our favorites. The park is heaven if you love natural beauty and geology, featuring over 2,000 natural stone arches. The park is a famous red color, with red sandstone giving the whole park an otherworldly, picturesque glow – especially at sunrise and sunset. Arches National Park is the one for your trip if you want somewhere with a wow factor.
The best places to visit in Arches National Park are Landscape Arch, Double O Arch, Lower Delicate Arch, and Balanced Rock. The park has more places to see than outdoor activities, so it’s best for those who want a natural sightseeing experience.
You can view our guide on the best hikes in Arches National Park for more inspiration.
17. Rocky Mountain National Park
Who doesn’t love the Rocky Mountains? Whether you want to go hiking, horseback riding, or camping, the Rocky Mountains are a dreamy destination. The limestone and shale cliff faces and mountains make a glorious backdrop to enjoy the great outdoors.
The national park stretches over 3,000 miles, covering states in both the US and Canada. In the US, the Rocky Mountains spread through Idaho, Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming. This is an advantage for those who want to combine visiting the Rocky Mountains with other destinations in the US, as you can pick the state that works best for you.
If you want more challenging hikes, this park is a great option. There are over sixty mountain peaks for you to tackle, so the real question is, how long have you got? To experience a ranch stay, the Rocky Mountains are also fantastic, and the area is renowned for horseback riding.
18. Mount Rainier National Park
Fancy the glacial landscape of Glacier National Park, but just want to base yourself in a different state to Montana? Mount Rainier National Park is one of the best places to visit in the US and is conveniently located in Washington State. You can still admire snow-capped mountains, alpine meadows, and glaciers – just within a two-hour drive from Seattle.
The park is a 263,000-acre area situated around Mount Rainier, a dormant supervolcano and Washington’s highest peak. Experienced climbers can tackle the mountain on guided climbs. However, there are plenty of entry-level hikes in the national park for those who lack the experience to tackle Mount Rainier. Trail of the Shadows, Rampart Ridge Trail, and Twin Firs Loop Trail are all popular hikes.
Mount Rainier National Park is the perfect place for climbers and hikers in the pacific northwest. If you want to experience an alpine, glacial landscape but stay in a major city, it is the best option for you.
19. Olympic National Park
If temperature rainforests and moss-covered trails sound intriguing, Olympic National Park is your match made in heaven. The national park is full of thick forests and fairytale-like trails. You’ll also find driftwood beaches and glacial lakes perfect for swimming, watersports, and fishing.
The park is easily reached from Seattle by car or ferry. You could grab breakfast at Pike Place Market and then be in Olympic National Park before lunch. Just plan an itinerary and what you’d like to see first, as the park is nearly 1 million acres in size.
There are plenty of things to do in the park, including multiple trails through the Hoh Rainforest. Olympic National Park is a beautiful introduction to the Pacific Northwest coast and Washington State. If you’ve never experienced rainforest, we recommend choosing this park as a US destination.
20. Death Valley National Park
As the hottest, driest, and lowest national park in the US, Death Valley National Park sure collects titles. The park stretches into Nevada and California, just west of Las Vegas. It is primarily desert, although it has several colorful mountain ranges and ridges.
If 1 million acres sounded big, try 3.4 million acres for size. Death Valley National Park is worthy of a multi-day trip. However, you can see lots of the park in a single day since its main attractions are relatively close. The best places to visit in Death Valley are Badwater Basin salt flats, Titus Canyon, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Zabriskie Point, and Ubehebe Crater.
Death Valley National Park is a great day trip from Las Vegas. You can reach the park in around two hours from Las Vegas. Those staying in Los Angeles can also visit Death Valley, although it’s a little longer. Allow three to four hours to drive to Death Valley from Los Angeles.
Best Beaches to Visit in the US
It goes without saying that the US isn’t all deserts and mountains. The country is revered for its beautiful beaches – with golden sands, marine life, and super surfing.
We’ve already covered the best beaches in the USA here, but this section will narrow it down to the top ten. These ten beaches are some of the best places to visit in the US.
21. Miami Beach, FL
Miami Beach is a coastal resort island connected to mainland Miami by a series of bridges. While Miami Beach has one long coastline, it is split into multiple beaches. Our favorite (and the most popular) is South Beach.
South Beach is the playground of the rich and beautiful, regularly frequented by models and celebrities. Even the beach facilities are beautiful, with art-deco lifeguard towers and day beds.
Once you’ve finished at the beach, you have restaurants, bars, and attractions to choose from along the promenade. A day out at South Beach combines wining, dining, shopping, and beach time.
22. Corolla Beach, NC
Horse lovers, this beach is the best for you. Corolla Beach is home to the only surviving herd of wild Spanish Mustangs in the world. As long as you stay a safe distance away, you can get amazing views of the herd who live on the beach and grassy dunes.
Apart from the horses, Corolla Beach is quiet and relatively untouched. There are limited facilities except for the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, a charity and conservation museum educating and fundraising for the local horses.
Corolla Beach is one of America’s best if you want an idyllic, peaceful beach experience.
23. Coronado Beach, CA
Coronado Beach in San Diego is commercial, but historically so. The beach is fronted by Hotel Del Coronado, one of the most famous hotels in the US.
In its prime, the hotel hosted guests like Marilyn Monroe and George W. Bush. The hotel gives Coronado Beach a cultural edge, and it’s fun to know that you are stepping in celebrity footsteps.
Coronado Beach is also a top destination in its own right. You can wander the sand sculptures, rent a deck chair, or go for a dip in the ocean. Coronado Beach has small waves suitable for beginner and intermediate surfers and confident swimmers. It is an excellent place to appreciate Californian beach culture.
Read more about San Diego
24. Siesta Beach, FL
Want that white sand beach type of beach day? The one where it feels like you are on your own tropical island? Siesta Beach is the spot for you.
Siesta Beach is on Siesta Key, a barrier island off the coast of Florida. The whiteness of the beach comes from its quartz sand – a feature that also keeps Siesta Beach much cooler underfoot. Quartz is a type of crystal that conducts and disperses heat quickly, meaning you don’t have to worry as much about burning your feet during the midday heat.
Beautiful and practical? Siesta Beach is one of the best places to visit in the US.
25. Clearwater Beach, FL
Clearwater Beach is fashionable, entertaining, and full of life. By day, you can parasail, jet ski, and strut your stuff down the fashion-forward promenade. By night, you can head to Pier 60, which is transformed into a nightly festival scene. You can unwind with a fresh tan, live music, and street performers as the sun sinks.
Clearwater Beach is fantastic if you want a beach that can keep you entertained at all hours. The beach itself is pretty. However, the quality Clearwater Beach experience comes mostly from all the activities and entertainment. Clearwater Beach is easily one of Florida’s best beaches.
Read more about Florida travel
26. Cannon Beach, OR
If Cannon Beach made National Geographic’s top 100 most beautiful beaches in the world, it definitely deserves a place in America’s top ten beaches. Cannon Beach in Oregon is stunning and one of the most photogenic beaches in the US.
The beach has distinct beach stacks, including Haystack Rock, the largest. At low tide, you can walk between stacks, explore rockpools and even climb the smallest if you feel brave. At sunset, the silhouettes of the rocks and glistening of wet sand create a beautiful shimmering effect. Don’t look much further if you want a pretty beach to visit.
27. Myrtle Beach, SC
Myrtle Beach treads the delicate line between nostalgic and cheesy. The beachfront is an old-school seaside resort with a Ferris wheel, a haunted house, and old souvenir shops. Myrtle Beach is fun for all ages if you want a lighthearted beach escape.
Myrtle Beach also stays quiet compared to other beaches, despite its resort-style facilities. The beach is big enough for you to bag a spot with nobody nearby, and it’s nice to walk the length of the sands.
Myrtle Beach has that Victorian seaside charm. If you are visiting South Carolina’s coast, consider paying it a visit.
28. Poipu Beach, HI
If you love turtles, Poipu Beach on Kauai is one of the best places to visit in the US. The beach is a favorite spot amongst local green sea turtles, and you can spot them both on the shores and in the water. Pack snorkels, and you’ll very likely swim with turtles.
Remember to keep a respectful distance from the turtles. Poipu Beach is an important breeding ground, and it’s essential that the turtles stay healthy and feel comfortable.
Animal lovers will also be excited to hear that monk seals frequent Poipu Beach. If you are lucky, you’ll tick off seeing turtles and seals on the same day. Poipu Beach is one of the best places to see wildlife in Hawaii.
29. Main Beach, CA
California reigns supreme with lots of America’s best beaches. But Main Beach in Laguna is one of its most relaxing.
Main Beach has a bohemian crowd and atmosphere. The waves are gentle, the crowds are friendly, and there is a scenic boardwalk instead of a busy promenade. Main Beach is a place where you can relax or socialize at ease. And, if you want to get active, there are volleyball and basketball courts.
Laguna Beach is a great suburb to experience the California pace of life. Main Beach is a friendly, laidback spot to do so – much quieter than commercial Coronado Beach.
30. Sandy Beach, HI
Are you an experienced surfer? Head to Sandy Beach on Oahu. This beach is a surfers-only spot with massive waves and no swimmers allowed in the water.
Many beaches on our list are good for surfing, but none are solely dedicated to surfers. A surfers-only beach is perfect for intermediate surfers. You aren’t worrying about dodging swimmers and other water traffic and can concentrate fully on developing your skills. Even experienced surfers will appreciate the chance to let their hair down.
Sandy Beach is also one of the most beautiful places to visit in the US. You’ll be surfing with Koko Crater as your backdrop, one of Hawaii’s most dramatic landscape features.
Best Islands to Visit in the US
When you think of the US, visiting an island isn’t what first comes to mind. Islands are preciously sprinkled across each state, so you’ll have to carefully decide which island works best for you.
The US has some beautiful island destinations. These are our top ten islands to visit in America.
31. Mount Desert Island, ME
Mount Desert Island is easily one of the best places to visit for an island experience. The approximately 70,000-acre island is situated off the coast of Maine and has a huge French influence. It is also classed as part of Acadia National Park.
Mount Desert Island has a rugged coastline, best explored by tour boat. You can catch a tour from Bar Harbor and spot lighthouses, whales, and many coastal bird species. This island is the place for you if you like birdwatching or want to explore more rugged beauty.
32. Jekyll Island, GE
Jekyll Island has more of a resort vibe than Mount Desert. You can play golf (or mini golf), go biking, play tennis, or visit the water park. Jekyll Island is the best place for those who want a commercial, fun island experience in the US.
Jekyll Island is also home to Georgia’s only turtle rehabilitation center. The Georgia Sea Turtle Center has been open for 15 years and aids in rehab, release, and public education on sea turtles. Visiting Jekyll Island is perfect for those who want to learn more about turtles, not just spend their time unwinding with commercial activities. It is easily one of the best places to visit in Georgia.
33. Sanibel Island, FL
Sanibel Island is another spot for wildlife lovers. The Florida barrier island is packed with reserves, including the most famous, J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Reserve. This reserve covers 6,000 acres and is home to manatees, alligators, and countless species of tropical birds.
Sanibel Island is small but mighty. There are miles of bike tracks and coastal walks if you like getting active. Sanibel Island is also known for its seashells, so you can spend blissful days browsing its beaches for the prettiest souvenir. It is said that there are over 250 types of shells on the island; you’ll have plenty of choices.
Sanibel Island is very much a natural haven. It is one of the best places to visit in Florida if you want to be surrounded by nature and animals. You could start your day spotting manatee amongst mangroves and end it watching dolphins from the beach at sunset.
34. South Padre Island, TX
Unlike Sanibel Island, South Padre Island is not small. The 34-mile-long barrier island is a tropical destination off the coast of Texas. A solid allrounder island destination, South Padre Island comes to life every spring break and summer, shaking off its off-season lull.
South Padre has a bit of everything. There is a turtle conservation center, Gravity Park theme park, and the largest outdoor sandcastle in the US – an impressive title, we think you’ll agree. In busy seasons, there are many activities, like horseback riding on the beach, jet skiing, and parasailing. The nightlife gets busier too, and it is a fun spot to meet other people on holiday.
South Padre Island isn’t a resort but has an unmistakable touristy feel. The island is a whole readymade package for a summer trip, with enough tourist infrastructure to minimize your planning time. It is one of the best places to visit if you want a fun island experience in the US.
35. Key West, FL
Key West is a beautiful island on the Florida Keys archipelago. It has a tropical climate and idyllic summers, only around 90 miles north of Cuba. Key West definitely feels more Caribbean than American.
For scuba divers and marine biology enthusiasts, Key West is the best choice of US islands. It is home to the third largest barrier reef in the world – behind Belize and Australia. PADI-certified visitors can hop on a dive cruise and explore the reef for themselves.
You can spot all types of marine animals, including turtles, manatees, whales, dolphins, sharks, eels, and many species of tropical fish. There are thirteen species of local whales around Key West alone.
36. Nantucket, MA
Fancy an adventure? Nantucket is one of the tiniest islands on our list. It is completely isolated and located off the coast of Massachusetts. Nantucket has a long history of whaling and used to be America’s prime whaling hub – which is hard to believe given how tiny it is.
The island keeps that whaler character, and the island has cobbled streets with many historic buildings. Forget a historic district; Nantucket feels like one big museum. There’s lots of culture, and you can admire the lighthouses, visit the Nantucket Shipwreck and Life Saving Museum, and the Whaling Museum. Maritime remains close to the community’s heart.
Nantucket is just an hour from Hyannis by fast ferry. It is a grand island if you want an expeditionary, remote experience of the US.
37. Big Island, HI
Big Island is, in case you haven’t guessed, the biggest island in Hawaii. There is so much space to roam and experience the island’s natural beauty that you barely have to cross paths with other people if you don’t want to. Big Island is full of rainforest, volcanic landscapes, and stunning tropical beaches. There are some incredible places on Big Island, including Punalu’u Beach, a black sand beach home to sea turtles.
Big Island is tropical, not rugged like Nantucket and Mount Desert Island. The island is also central to recent history. It is on Big Island that Captain James Cook attempted to expand the British colony and met his death.
Big Island is the best island if you want endless choices of things to do and space to enjoy your holiday. The island ticks a lot of boxes, so it really is the best of all worlds. Read more: Where to stay in Hawaii: Best Places For You By Island
38. Kauai, HI
Kauai is another Hawaiian paradise. Chances are, you’ll recognize Na Pali Coast from multiple Hollywood films and travel magazines. The towering green cliffs have a crinkled effect from all the ridges, and the bright green is a stunning contrast to the bright blue waters.
It’s no surprise that Kauai has the nickname ‘the Garden Isle’. Kauai is a gorgeous option if you want to experience a lush, tropical island. Most people agree that it is the most beautiful island in Hawaii – which is saying something.
You can spend your days hiking and snapping photographs. We also recommend visiting Poipu Beach, which we mentioned earlier as one of the best beaches in the US. And, if you want to glimpse the cliffs along Na Pali Coast, head to the hiking trails around Koke’s State Park. Kauai is stunning. Just remember to leave no trace and keep your holiday as ethical and sustainable as possible.
39. Block Island, NE
Block Island is so small that it houses more birds than people. The island is located offshore of Rhode Island and only has around 1,000 permanent residents. If you want an untouched, natural getaway, Block Island is a dreamy choice. Its beaches get busy in summer when around 20,000 temporary residents swoop in to enjoy the island in its warmest season. However, off-season, you should nearly get Block Island’s pristine beaches to yourself. Even in summer. Block Island has a windswept, rugged, and wild feel – perfect for a romantic island escape.
Finding things to do comes naturally on Block Island, so let yourself be inquisitive and seek out the prettiest spots. Admiring the view from Mohegan Bluffs cliffs, walking Rodman’s Hollow, and visiting North Light lighthouse are all popular activities if you are stuck for choice, though. Block Island is a designated is full of greenery and coastal flora. The 19th century Block Island Southeast Light on Mohegan Bluffs was designated a National Historic Landmark.
40. Kiawah Island, SC
Kiawah Island is a mostly privatized barrier island off the coast of South Carolina. Just south of Charleston, the island is well combined with a city break or road trip.
While much of the island is owned by Kiawah Island Golf Resort, there are plenty of public areas to justify non-guests visiting. The resort is actually a massive benefit for the island as the expansive golf course has prevented further development and protected the island’s green space. Kiawah Island still has an untouched feel without too many facilities and infrastructure.
Visitors who aren’t guests can enjoy the signposted public areas. Kiawah Island has ten miles of coastline – so pick whichever spot takes your fancy and enjoy a beach day. Otherwise, go shopping, sample local cuisine, or fish off one of the many piers.
So, we’ve covered the top 40 best places to visit in the US. But what about our runners-up? These are great places to visit that almost made our top 40. From national parks to theme parks, let’s take a quick look.
41. Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park just missed out on our top ten best national parks to visit in the US. However, the 47,000-acre park definitely deserves an honorary mention.
Acadia National Park is home to wildlife like moose and bears, rugged coastline, and Atlantic flora. Acadia is a beautiful US destination if you want to experience natural beauty on the Northeast Atlantic coast.
The national park is split between Mount Desert Island and mainland Maine. There’s plenty to do, from adventurous cliff walks like Beehive Trail to boat tours to spot puffins.
42. Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls is bucket list worthy; there’s no doubt about it. There’s ongoing controversy over whether the falls are better from the US or Canadian side. But you can easily visit Niagara Falls from Buffalo or on a multi-day excursion from New York. You can find our guide on where to stay in Niagara Falls here.
Once you arrive at Niagara Falls, you can take a boat trip to get close to the cascades. Pack waterproofs, as the waterfall is so strong that you typically get drenched by the spray. On land, head to Prospect Point for the best views.
If you love bucket list attractions and ticking off world wonders, Niagara Falls is one of the most fantastic places to visit in the US. Who knows, you might also decide to cross the border and see the falls from the Canadian side. There are also amazing things to do around Niagara Falls, including this snowshoeing wine tasting tour.
Read more about Niagara Falls
43. Denali National Park
Denali National Park is one of the biggest in the US. While it narrowly missed out on being included in our top 40 best places, there is no way that we couldn’t have this park in our runners-up.
At 6 million acres, it’s safe to say that Denali National Park can keep you entertained for a while. The park is located in Alaska, way up in North America. The national park surrounds Mount McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America, and features beautiful glacial and forest landscapes. Denali National Park is an excellent US destination if you want somewhere to head off the beaten track.
Denali National Park is famed for its wildlife, with grizzlies, black bears, wolves, caribou, and moose to spot. You can try to spot wildlife by driving through the national park yourself or opt for a backcountry safari. If you are lucky, you may even see the Northern Lights at night.
For more inspiration on visiting Alaska, here are our guides on the best things to do in Alaska and most spectacular places to visit in Alaska.
44. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Great Smoky Mountains are a wonderful place to connect with nature and challenge yourself to outdoor activities. The park covers over 500,000 acres. You can camp, hike, fish, and climb for a day or two weeks – the Great Smoky Mountains are a versatile US destination to visit.
The best things to do in the mountains are to hike up Clingmans Dome (the highest peak), visit Sky Center, hike to Laurel Falls, and test your bravery at Smoky Mountains Ziplines. The mountain town of Gatlinburg is considered the gateway to the national park. It is a great spot to retreat to for the luxuries of civilization.
The mountain range runs along the Tennessee and North Carolina border. For those road tripping the states, consider stopping off to enjoy the mountains. Otherwise, you can always take a day trip from Knoxville, Atlanta, or Charlotte.
45. Walt Disney World
Disney World is a bit of a contrast to our other runners-up, but it is certainly one of the most memorable places to visit in the US. No matter your age, Disney World is a magical place to experience.
If you are rushed for time, prioritize Magic Kingdom Park, where you’ll find the Disney World palace and firework displays. Otherwise, slowly make your way around the six-themed lands – trying rides and meeting costumed characters along the way. Disney World is one of the most nostalgic, entertaining attractions in the world.
Disney World is located in Orlando, Florida, a hotspot for theme parks and water parks. You can read our complete guide to the best theme parks in Florida here.
46. Antelope Canyon
If you use social media, there is no chance that you haven’t seen Antelope Canyon before. You’ll recognize the slot canyon from its wave-like rock surfaces and red sandstone color. In the artiest shots, the photographer captures a single ray of light streaming from above and casting light on the shaded canyon floor. It’s a beautiful place, to say the least.
Antelope Canyon is located in Arizona and is on the Navajo tribal lands. You can easily book guided tours online,like this tour on Get Your Guide. Keep in mind that it’s not permitted to enter Antelope Canyon without a guide, and guides must be licensed by the Navajo tribe community.
Read more about other places to visit in the USA
There are so many ‘best places to visit in the US that you’ll definitely need to plan a return trip. The country is one of the greatest tourist destinations in the world – with tourist attractions, natural beauty, and outdoor activities galore.
Hopefully, you are leaving with a dream destination in mind now. Whether you are heading to the east coast or the west, mountains or the desert, you’ll have a fantastic time in the US. Still, stuck between choices? Take a vote or toss a coin.
Read more about other places to visit around the world