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Let’s be honest — you deserve a vacation.
But where to?
If you’re planning an upcoming vacation and have no clue where to go, you’re not alone. With so many options deemed the “best vacation spots in the US,” it can be hard to choose which one to add to your itinerary.
This article is here to make your life easier, whether you are searching for gorgeous beachfront resorts with thrilling outdoor activities or prefer to indulge in history, new foods and drinks, or the arts.
Find your next getaway below!
1. Gulf Shores, Alabama
Most people think of the West or East Coast when it comes to sandy beaches. But they’re entirely overlooking Gulf Shores, Alabama. This hidden gem offers luxurious white sand beaches, crystal clear waters to dive into, and some of the best seafood you’ll ever taste.
The main draw of Gulf Shores, Alabama, is the beautiful beaches—especially when temperatures rise to a perfect 85ºF.
But a swim in the picturesque waters isn’t the only thing awaiting you in Gulf Shores. You can enjoy kayaking, scuba diving, hiking trails, a zoo, and a wildlife refuge here.
Where to stay: The Lodge at Gulf Shores State Park, a Hilton Hotel
2. Denali National Park, Alaska
Adventure seekers and outdoor enthusiasts won’t want to miss a trip to Denali National Park, Alaska. This gorgeous location features Mount McKinley, the highest mountain in the entire country. Needless to say, a trip to this picturesque destination is a must-have for your bucket list.
Denali National Park is undeniably a hot spot for those who enjoy outdoor fun. You will find a long list of nature-focused activities, from white water rafting to off-roading.
When you’re ready to munch on some good grub, check out the Alaska-style dinner theater, which is as delicious as it is entertaining and educational.
Where to stay: McKinley Creekside Cabins and Cafe
3. Scottsdale, Arizona
Arizona offers many impressive sights, from the Grand Canyon to the Canyon de Chelly. But Scottsdale is a premier option to visit a more built-up spot. Scottsdale is a gorgeous little town named “The West’s Most Western Town” for a good reason.
Scottsdale, Arizona, has plenty to see and do. If you’re a history buff, you’ll appreciate the impressive historic sites scattered across the town. Some regular festivals and events bring history to life, too.
But if that doesn’t fit your fancy, consider one of the many outdoor activities—you can enjoy them year-round, thanks to idyllic temperatures 365 days a year.
Where to stay: Scottsdale Camelback Resort
4. Catalina Island, California
When it comes to vacation spots in California, there’s a seemingly endless list. It’s as if the entire state was designed for vacations!
Coming up with the number one destination in California was tricky, but Catalina Island took the top spot thanks to its upscale and ritzy attractions and paradise-like views.
Catalina Island offers many land and ocean tours, allowing guests to get acquainted with the area’s wildlife. Then, of course, you can dip into the ocean, try your luck at the casino, take a helicopter tour, or indulge in some delicious fare at the bistros or restaurants.
Where to stay: Bellanca Hotel
5. Telluride, Colorado
If you’re looking for a quaint, outdoorsy town to enjoy in Colorado, Telluride is it. This charming little town is filled with a fascinating history and is surrounded by breathtaking 14,000-foot peaks that will enchant you.
Although this town is small compared to other hot spots in Colorado, it boasts plenty to do. First, check out the many ski slopes and hiking trails. Then, head down to Main Street to enjoy Victorian-era buildings featuring cool shops and yummy restaurants.
Where to stay: Camel’s Garden Hotel and Condominiums
6. Hartford, Connecticut
Not everyone is looking for an outdoor adventure. If you prefer museums and centers for learning, Hartford, Connecticut, is a premium choice. Connecticut’s capital, Hartford, is a bustling city with plenty of wonderful attractions and enchanting views.
When it comes to Hartford, there is a seemingly endless supply of things to do. Enjoy a visit to the Mark Twain House or learn something new at the Connecticut Science Center.
Or engulf yourself in the arts at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, or get away from it all at Talcott Mountain State Park.
Where to stay: Capitol Hotel, Ascend Hotel Collection
7. Tampa, Florida
Florida is another hot spot for vacations, and Miami and Orlando come to mind first. But one city that shouldn’t be overlooked is Tampa. This bustling city sits along Florida’s Gulf Coast, offering sensational views of crystal clear waters, palm trees, and sunshine.
Visiting Tampa, Florida, is an excellent option for all vacationers. You’re sure to find an activity that suits your needs, whether it’s the iconic Florida Aquarium or Busch Gardens theme park.
There’s something for all ages and lifestyles. Have a beer at one of the many craft breweries or enjoy an adrenaline-pumping zipline through the trees.
Where to stay: Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay Hotel
8. The Big Island, Hawaii
Hawaii has plenty of gorgeous islands to explore, but The Big Island is the biggest—unsurprisingly.
But its impressive size isn’t its only draw. It is home to six volcanoes, including the famous and active Kilauea, and the island features some of the bluest waters found worldwide.
From surfing to night snorkeling with manta rays to sauntering through the unique green sand at Papakōlea Green Sand Beach, a seemingly endless supply of activities awaits families and honeymooners.
Also, don’t forget to explore the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and learn something new about Hawaiian history at Pu’uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park.
Where to stay: Four Seasons Resort Hualalai
9. Craters of the Moon, Idaho
Are you looking for a unique experience? Then a trip to Craters of the Moon, Idaho, may be in order. This is a national monument and preserves in the Snake River Plain featuring a lava field with craters and cinder cones. The exquisite landscape draws travelers from near and far.
Backpacking through the Craters of the Moon Wilderness Trail is one of the best things to do in this quirky and exciting area. However, there are also several caves and other fun hikes awaiting visitors. It’s an outdoor person’s dream come true.
Where to stay: DK Motel
10. Des Moines, Iowa
If you’re thinking about a trip to the Midwest, set your sights on Des Moines, Iowa. Des Moines is not only the capital of Iowa but its largest city. It boasts a compelling collection of new and old, complete with bustling city nightlife and plenty of tree-dotted landscapes.
While visiting Des Moines, Iowa, you won’t want to miss a fascinating trip to the State Historical Museum or the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. Enjoy Blank Park Zoo and blast back to the past at the Living History Farms.
Finally, don’t skip the Iowa State Fair in August, an exciting fair that’s drawn hundreds of thousands of visitors since 1886.
Where to stay: Surety Hotel
11. Kansas City, Kansas
Another Midwest city that should be added to your Midwest bucket list? Kansas City, Kansas. Known for its art, history, barbecue, and jazz, it’s clear why this is a definite contender for your next intercontinental excursion.
There are endless opportunities for fun in Kansas City, Kansas. Appreciators of the arts should check out the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, while history buffs should head to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
Get your thrill on at Worlds of Fun, and don’t forget to devour some world-famous barbecue fare at fan-favorite restaurants.
Where to stay: The Raphael
12. New Orleans, Louisiana
Anyone looking to submerge themselves in the nightlife scene should add New Orleans, Louisiana, to their vacation itinerary. New Orleans, also called the “Big Easy,” is undeniably a lively and fabulous place that can easily be deemed an adult’s playground.
New Orleans, Louisiana, is well-known for its diverse party scene, but that’s not the only thing awaiting travelers. Visitors can also enjoy a slew of other fun activities, such as the beautiful City Park and intriguing French Quarter.
Additionally, you can ride on the Steamboat Natchez or enjoy jazz music at The Spotted Cat Music Club. Don’t forget to munch on spicy creole!
Where to stay: Bourbon Orleans Hotel
13. Nantucket, Massachusetts
Nantucket, Massachusetts, may be small at just 14 miles long and 3 1/2 miles wide, but it’s undeniably a popular summer vacation for plenty of people.
From the lighthouses to the foggy mornings, the pristine beaches to the upscale boutiques, it’s no wonder why Nantucket is a must-visit.
Riding bikes through town and cruising the harbor are must-dos when visiting Nantucket. Be sure to check out the Whaling Museum, which is one of the main draws to this area. Check out the local lighthouses, and if you’re in the mood for a beer, consider a brewery tour at Cisco.
Where to stay: The Wauwinet
14. Mackinac Island, Michigan
There are many lakes, beaches, and islands that are popular vacation destinations, but none are quite like Mackinac Island, Michigan.
This unique and history-riddled town was founded in 1780 and sits on Lake Huron. There are zero automobiles allowed, making it a one-of-a-kind experience.
A visit to Mackinac Island State Park is imperative. Here, you’ll find unique formations like the Arch Rock and Sugar Loaf.
From there, you can take a carriage ride into town to try making your own fudge. Explore the vast history of places like Colonial Michilimackinac and Fort Mackinac.
Where to stay: The Grand Hotel
15. St. Paul, Minnesota
Saint Paul is the capital of Minnesota and one of the oldest cities. It is also known for being one of the “Twin Cities,” sitting right next door to Minneapolis. The city is known for its historical importance and intense weather, so planning a trip during the right season is imperative.
There are lots of outstanding, family-friendly activities in St. Paul. See animals at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, or see a show at the Xcel Energy Theater. Immerse yourself in history at places like Fort Snelling, Victorian Houses on Summit Avenue, and the James J. Hill House.
Where to stay: The Saint Paul
16. Biloxi, Mississippi
Biloxi, Mississippi, is a famous city in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s widely known for its extensive maritime history. Nowadays, it’s also a top-notch vacation spot where you can enjoy delicious seafood and some of the best casinos in the world.
Casino enthusiasts will enjoy the extensive selection of top-notch casinos, from the Casino Biloxi to the Treasure Bay Casino and Hotel.
If casinos aren’t your thing, there’s still plenty to see and do. Relax on Biloxi Beach and gaze at the historical Biloxi Lighthouse. Go shrimping or enjoy some family fun at the Gulf Islands Waterpark.
Where to stay: Beau Rivage Resort & Casino
17. Billings, Montana
Billings is the largest city in Montana. This exciting city is situated along the Yellowstone River and boasts plenty of indoor and outdoor activities. It’s well-known for its stunning “Rimrocks,” or sandstone formations that you won’t find elsewhere.
Families will enjoy all of the outdoor activities to engage in, from kayaking to horseback riding. There are plenty of beautiful and exciting parks to explore, plus museums and zoos. Adults will enjoy the many breweries and wineries offering delicious beverages and impressive views.
Where to stay: The Northern Hotel
18. Lake Tahoe, Nevada
Lake Tahoe has drawn visitors from across the globe for hundreds of years. Tahoe is North America’s largest alpine lake and has no shortage of beautiful scenic views, especially the majestic deep blue casts in every direction.
Lake Tahoe is undeniably known for its immense skiing slopes and gorgeous beaches. Some must-do activities in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, include kayaking on Sand Harbor, skiing at Diamond Peak Ski Resort, and taking a dip at the clothing-optional Secret Cove Beach.
- The Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa, and Casino
19. Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire
Those seeking a shimmering shoreline for their getaway should consider Lake Winnipesaukee. This popular destination features 170 miles of shoreline, ensuring plenty of water and sunshine for outdoor enthusiasts.
Boat cruises and afternoon swims are two of the most popular activities at Lake Winnipesaukee. Heading on land, don’t forget to check out one of the many scrumptious restaurants and shopping areas like the Tanger Outlet Center.
Where to stay: The Wolfeboro Inn
20. Cape May, New Jersey
Cape May, New Jersey, is a popular vacation destination on the top of the peninsula. Visitors are drawn to its charm, with plenty of Victorian historical buildings and pristine, well-kept beaches.
The 1859 Cape May Lighthouse is a landmark everyone should visit. It offers historical exhibits as well as stunning and extensive ocean views. You can also enjoy carriage rides, an aviation museum, and the crab festival in May.
Where to stay: The Congress Hall
21. Taos, New Mexico
Known as the Soul of the Southwest, you can expect a city that’s beaming with plenty of art, rich history, and Southwestern architecture. It’s also the only spot where Native Americans have a World Heritage Site certified by UNESCO and a National Historic Landmark.
Taos, New Mexico, is a unique and exciting vacation spot. You can indulge in the bona fide Art Colonies or take on the slopes at the world-renowned Taos Ski Valley.
A trip to the World Heritage Site (Taos Pueblo) and St. Francisco de Asis church are also must-visits. Nature enthusiasts can check out the majestic landscape at the Rio Grande Gorge.
Where to stay: El Monte Sagrado
22. Niagara Falls, New York
Whether planning a family-friendly vacation or looking for a dreamy spot to get married and enjoy your honeymoon as a new couple, Niagara Falls, New York, is the ideal destination. This fan favorite is well-known for its roaring waterfalls that you won’t find elsewhere in the world.
Enjoy the waterfalls with the Maid of the Mist, offering an up close and personal look by boat ride. The Cave of the Winds walk is a must if you prefer to go on foot. Other great hikes await travelers, as well as a stellar aquarium and restaurants.
Where to stay: Hilton Niagara Falls/Fallsview Hotel & Suites
23. Cleveland, Ohio
The City of Cleveland, Ohio, is one of the US’s best vacation spots. It’s well-known for its extensive sports scene but doesn’t shy away from rock ’n’ roll, award-winning culinary and brewery scenes, and impressive outdoor recreation.
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is a must-see for music fanatics, while the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is a fun adventure for the family. Get outside and active at the Cleveland Metroparks and Cleveland Botanical Garden.
Where to stay: The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland
24. Bend, Oregon
Calling all foodies! If you want to find an amazing spot to enjoy several cuisines and snacks, Bend, Oregon, is the ultimate place. This small town is known for its fantastic food and beverage scene, but there’s no shortage of thrilling outdoor activities.
Learn history at The High Desert Museum, then check out the impressive Newberry National Volcanic Monument. Head over to the Old Mill District for food and entertainment, and explore the gorgeous waterfalls at Tumalo Falls.
Alternatively, you can escape to the winter wonderland known as Mt. Bachelor when the temperatures drop.
Where to stay: The Oxford Hotel Bend
25. Hershey, Pennsylvania
Anyone with a major sweet tooth and a love of all things chocolate will want to plan a trip to Hershey, Pennsylvania. This is a super fun place to bring the little ones, but people of all ages will love to immerse themselves in “The Sweetest Place on Earth.”
The main draw of Hershey, Pennsylvania, is the fun (and entirely free) tour of Hershey’s Chocolate facility.
Also, right next door is Hershey Park, a one-of-a-kind theme park featuring chocolate-themed attractions, including the beloved Hershey Gardens, which features 23 acres of lush gardens.
Where to stay: The Hotel Hershey
26. Newport, Rhode Island
From its rich sailing history to the gorgeous yacht-filled harbors, it’s clear why Newport, Rhode Island, is a top vacation spot for all ages. This charming oceanside city is as breathtaking as it is whimsical, and you’ll surely have a grand time during your stay.
The Newport Mansion Tours are undeniably one of the most popular destinations in Newport, RI—especially The Breakers, an 1895 mansion designed after Renaissance palaces.
You can also explore the beautiful Newport Cliff Walk, indulge in a wine tasting at Newport Vineyards, or relish the seas on a sunset cruise from Bowen’s Wharf.
Where to stay: Castle Hill Inn
27. Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina, is an excellent vacation destination for couples and families alike. Founded in 1670, it boasts exquisitely preserved historical elements, including cobblestone streets and stunning antebellum architecture.
Unwind to the sound of water and views of the gardens at Riley Waterfront Park and Battery and White Point Gardens. Then, tap into American Civil War history at the Fort Sumter National Monument.
Sunbathe and swim at Folly Beach before enjoying a carriage ride and unforgettable Southern cuisine.
Where to stay: The Charleston Place
28. Rapid City, South Dakota
Rapid City, Dakota, known as the “City of Presidents,” has long been a hot vacation spot for many reasons. For one, it holds the life-sized sculptures of four former presidents. However, it’s also a cultural and culinary hub with a thrilling downtown scene awaiting visitors.
Take a day trip to the mesmerizing Mount Rushmore before enjoying one of the many laidback events at Main Street Square. Enjoy the Skyline Wilderness Area with over 150 acres and the notable “Dinosaur Park” featuring a massive brontosaurus.
Don’t forget an unforgettable drive through Bear Country, USA!
Where to stay: Hotel Alex Johnson Rapid City, Curio Collection by Hilton
29. Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is an outdoor lover’s ultimate paradise. Nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains, it’s a mountain village that will surpass your expectations in terms of relaxation, views, and endless outdoor activities.
From fishing to biking, ziplining to white water rafting, Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is the best place to enjoy the great outdoors.
While visiting the area, head over to the iconic Space Needle, a 407’ observation deck with majestic 360 views of the mountains. See something new at the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, and try freshly made moonshine at the Ole Smoky Whiskey Barrelhouse.
Where to stay: Margaritaville Resort Gatlinburg
30. San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio, Texas, is often referred to as the “cultural center” of Texas. The oldest city in Texas and one of the major cities of this state, San Antonio is known for its extensive colonial heritage, intriguing museums, and delicious restaurants.
A trip to the Alamo, a preserved 18th-century Spanish mission steeped in history, is necessary. From there, you can walk along the River Walk, a relaxing and delightful stretch along the San Antonio River.
While strolling along, don’t forget to indulge in one of the many renowned restaurants. And don’t forget a trip to Seaworld and Six Flags with the kids!
Where to stay: Omni La Mansion del Rio
31. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Anyone looking to bask in the glory of nature should consider a trip to Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. Often described as “otherworldly,” this gorgeous, sprawling reserve is most well-known for its crimson-colored hoodoos or rock formations with awe-worthy spire shapes.
Trek to the Bryce Amphitheater, the spot that showcases fascinating hoodoos. Hike scenic trails, such as the Queens Garden Trail. Get a glimpse of the glorious, star-studded sky with a hosted night hike.
If exploring during the winter season, tackle snowshoeing and cross-country skiing excursions you won’t soon forget.
Where to stay: The Lodge at Bryce Canyon
32. Burlington, Vermont
Beautiful, compact, and friendly, there’s a reason why Burlington, Vermont, continuously draws visitors during all four seasons. Sitting alongside Lake Champlain and riddled with museums, artwork, and universities, it’s a thriving area that should be on everyone’s itinerary.
Stroll down the four blocks of Church Street Marketplace, where you’ll be met with many historical sites, restaurants, and boutiques. Swim, sunbathe, and paddleboard along the scenic Lake Champlain.
Further, don’t forget to enjoy a one-of-a-kind, hands-on aquatic experience at ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain.
Where to stay: Hilton Burlington Lake Champlain
33. Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
Mount Rainier National Park, one of the US’s first national parks, was established in 1899. Since then, it has become a tremendously popular spot for those who want to ditch the busy city streets and revel in some of the most astonishing views of nature.
The centerpiece of this park is the enormous and famous Mount Rainier. While it’s essential to catch a glimpse of it, there are other notable things to enjoy, such as Myrtle Falls, Reflection Lake, Narada Falls, and many more. Have lunch at the historic Paradise Inn!
Where to stay: LOGE Alta Crystal
34. Cave of the Mounds, Wisconsin
Right outside Blue Mounds and a quick jaunt from Madison, the Cave of the Mounds is often called “North America’s Jewel Box of Caves.” This remarkable gem features natural limestone caves decorated with various mineral formations, otherwise known as speleothems.
The main draw of Cave of the Mounds, WI, is cave exploration. There are daily hosted tours to get the most out of your trip. However, other fun activities await at this destination, including gemstone and fossil mining, the Perennial Gardens, and Oak Valley Restoration.
Where to stay: Prevailing Winds Lodge
35. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
If there is one national park you add to your agenda, let it be Yellowstone National Park. This park is one of the most iconic national parks in the country, with 3,500 square miles of gorgeous wilderness, including alpine rivers, forests, hot springs, and plenty of wildlife viewing.
A visit to Yellowstone National Park means a magical time for the eyes. Explore the vast wilderness, ensuring not to miss renowned locations like the world-famous Old Faithful geyser. River raft or paddle your way through the forest.
Immerse yourself in cowboy history with an Old West gunfight. There’s something to suit everyone’s tastes here.
Where to stay: Old Faithful Inn
Your Unforgettable US Vacation is Calling Your Name!
Whether you’re looking to stick your feet into the sand and sunbathe all afternoon or want to experience some US history right before your eyes, you can find exactly what you’re looking for at one of these vacation spots in the US.
What are you waiting for? Choose one of these unforgettable vacation destinations and have the time of your life!
What Is the #1 Destination in the US?
The number one travel destination in the US continues to be New York City, New York. Otherwise known as “The Big Apple,” this hustling and bustling city is loaded with exciting and intriguing activities.
Whether you’re checking out the Statue of Liberty, exploring Little Italy and Chinatown, or want to get lost in Times Square, you can do all of that—and more—in New York City.
Where Is the Cheapest Warm Place to Vacation?
Outside the US, Cancun remains one of the cheapest, warmest, and best destinations for those looking to escape chillier temperatures.
Inside the US, there are many budget-friendly warm weather locations, including Palm Springs, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Miami, Florida.
What Is the Best Place to Go On Vacation?
That depends solely on what you’re looking for from your vacation. For instance, someone who wants to get outside and enjoy nature will enjoy a trip to Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, or Denali National Park, Alaska.
Those looking for impeccable cuisine should head to Bend, Oregon. History buffs will appreciate Scottsdale, Arizona; Charleston, South Carolina; and San Antonio, Texas.