Here are 60 awesome USA trip ideas and the best places to visit in the US that will get you really excited about exploring America.
From USA road trips, to the best city getaways, We have traveled to all 50 states and can wholeheartedly tell you there are some incredible destinations in the United States that absolutely deserve a spot on your USA bucket list.
If you are taking a trip to the USA, you’ll find that America is filled with majestic natural landscapes.
The most beautiful states in the US have incredible waterfalls, beaches, mountains, slot canyons, and more. There are terrific cities to explore too. So let’s get started with the best places to visit in the USA.
Our Favorite Resources to Plan a Trip to the USA
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- A USA road trip is even more fun when you rent an RV or Sprinter Van. We booked a trip with Outdoorsy to try out Van Life and loved that we could choose from so many amazing options. Use code Jen50 to get $50 off your first Outdoorsy rental
- I think we’ll all seen that trip insurance can come in really handy for things you would never expect to happen. We use SafetyWing to protect ourselves..
- For more in depth trip inspiration, check out these USA Destinations or our YouTube Channel that has tons of USA Trip videos.
15 Top USA Road Trip Ideas Worthy of Your Bucket List
Whether they are close to home or far away, road trips are awesome. It let’s you get up close and personal with a destination without being stuck in one place.
Road trips are great for traveling with your significant other, a family vacation, spending time with a parent, or a girlfriends getaway.
1. Pacific Coast Highway is the Ultimate Bucket List USA Road Trip (600 miles)
The quaint communities of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Monterey, and Santa Cruz are worth stops before arriving at the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. You’ll have plenty of exploring to do in San Francisco before you head home.
2. Northern California Wine Country (225 miles)
California wines are renowned worldwide. To get a proper taste of them, the California Wine Country road trip is the best option.
First, make your way through Napa Valley, its vineyards, historic landmarks, and the thriving luxury hotel scene. Spend a few days wine tasting and trying some of the best restaurants in the USA.
Catch a glimpse of Old Faithful Geyser in Calistoga before heading to Sonoma County and staying at a boutique hotel in the charming town of Healdsburg.
Continue towards Mendocino stopping at one of many tasting rooms like Navarro Vineyards & Winery before arriving at the windswept coast.
Redwood forests and beaches abound. Head back to San Francisco driving along the stunning Northern California coast route.
3. California Highway 395 and the Eastern Sierra (300+ miles)
This scenic road trip along US Route 395 will take you east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Start your adventure in Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe has so many fun things to do. Bring an inflatable kayak to use in Secret Cove and other lakes on this trip.
Head to the Mammoth Lakes area making sure to stop at otherworldly Mono Lake along the way. If you have enough time, you can visit
Yosemite National Park through the east entrance that is only open in summer. Mammoth has tons of summer activities like hiking, mountain biking, fishing and kayaking.
Visit the Hot Creek Geologic Site and take a soak in one of the natural hot springs. Alabama Hills is next up and the perfect place to stay overnight with a sprinter van or RV.
This much loved film location has hiking and beautiful vistas. Last but not least, drive another hour to reach Death Valley National Park.
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4. Southern California Deserts (285 miles)
Fly into Palm Spring Airport and start the road trip exploring the eclectic area of downtown Palm Springs and Palm Desert. Don’t miss the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway for birdseye views and a day trip to Joshua Tree National Park.
A 2 hour drive will get you to the vineyards and historic downtown of Temecula. It’s a great place for a hot air balloon ride if you plan ahead.
Continue to the beautiful Anza Borrego Desert State Park known for its natural wonders and cactus-studded hills.
Finally visit the Salton Sea, the biggest lake in California that was an accidentally created. Stop by the almost ghost town of artistic Bombay Beach and Salvation Mountain, a religious structure featured in the movie Into the Wild.
The Pacific Northwest Has Stunning USA Road Trips
5. Oregon Coast (340 miles)
Head straight up the Oregon coast for 350 miles of extraordinary amazing Oregon beaches. See the Natural Bridges at Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor.
Catch sunset at Face Rock State Park and stay overnight in Coos Bay to explore the area. Devil’s Punchbowl State Park has an incredible sea cave that you can see from above.
Go hiking at Cape Lookout State Park and take in the impossibly turquoise water nearby in Netarts Bay. Tour the Tillamook Factory for a fun outing.
Don’t miss the forest walk to Short Sand Beach where all the surfers hit the waves. Iconic Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach is a must-see. End your journey in Astoria on the Columbia River or continue on to the Washington coast.
6. Oregon Scenic Byways
Venture inland on one of the Oregon Scenic Byways and you’ll be completely blown away. Oregon is best in summer but fall is absolutely gorgeous.
See incredible foliage in Silver Falls State Park and fun harvest festivals in the Willamette Valley and Mt Hood/Columbia River Gorge Area. Winter skiing at Mt. Hood and Mt. Bachelor in Oregon is also amazing.
Travel through the McKenzie Pass to get to the gorgeous Tamolitch Blue Pool and Proxy Falls. From there, it’s a quick drive to Smith Rock State Park, a premier destination for rock climbers and hikers alike.
It’s right near the active and fun city of Bend, Oregon. In addition to Mt Bachelor, you’ll find multiple lakes, the Deschutes River, Tumalo Falls, and tons of breweries.
RELATED POST: 10 BEST BOUTIQUE HOTELS IN BEND, OREGON
7. Olympic Peninsula in Washington (around 330 miles)
To enjoy nature and its beauty, take the Olympic Peninsula loop road trip. Start your adventure in the beautiful emerald city of Seattle.
Continue your way through the charming town of Port Townsend. Take a stroll through Sequim’s quaint streets – and its many lavender farms.
Enjoy Olympic National Park and the stunning lakes within it. Drive to Hurricane Ridge for jaw dropping views of the Olympic Mountains.
A must-see in the area is the Hoh Rainforest, one of Washington State’s natural wonders. Lastly, catch Neah Bay and the gorgeous Pacific Coast beaches before you end your trip.
8. Make Sure Alaska is on Your USA Bucket List – It’s Amazing!
A lot of people think of Alaska as a cruise destination but a 7 to 10 Day Alaskan Road Trip and spending time in Denali National Park is so much more exciting.
Kayak through iceberg lagoons, zipline through forests, see massive glaciers calve into the ocean, watch bears fishing for salmon, or flightsee around Denali, one of the tallest peaks in the world.
You may not think of Alaska as a year round destination. While Alaska is at it’s prime in summer, don’t overlook the fall colors mid September that coincide with the later end of the salmon run for those that want to fish.
Alaska is also a top spot for Northern Lights viewing between September and March.
9. A Southwest USA Road Trip Never Disappoints
There are so many variations of a Southwest road trip but most involve really cool USA National Parks like Zion, Bryce, Arches, Grand Canyon, or White Sands.
There are incredibly interesting Native American sites like Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley and Havasupai.
See slot canyons, waterfalls and more in Sedona Arizona, Utah, Nevada and New Mexico. The Southwest is visually stunning and full of fun activities.
Spring and Fall are ideal times for a Southwest road trip because it’s the best weather. In Spring, the waterfalls and wildflowers peak and you can catch some fall foliage around Taos, New Mexico and many parts of Utah.
10. Route 66 is a Quintessential USA Road Trip
The full Route 66 road trip is 2,137 miles, filled with natural wonders and offbeat sightseeing, between Chicago, the Grand Canyon and Los Angeles. Do the whole route (2 weeks) or just a portion like California and Arizona.
You can also take this route on a cross country trip and veer off course to Durango, Colorado like we did. Route 66 starts at the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles and works its way through 7 states to Lake Michigan.
11. Florida Keys Road Trip From Miami to Key West is A Unique USA Experience (160 miles)
This road trip traverses the oversees highway, where 43 of 1,700 islands are connected by bridges, to the southernmost tip of Florida. You can drive from Fort Lauderdale or Miami to Key West in 4 hours.
Make the trip over a few days and stop at the 16 best stops from Miami to Key West.
The north end of the Florida Keys has Biscayne National Park with crystal clear blue water and the world’s 3rd largest coral reef system with lots of outdoor activities.
The peak time to visit the Florida Keys is from November through February when the weather is perfect in the 70s-80s, but it’s also the busiest and most expensive.
Spring travel from March through May still has nice weather without the crowds Fall weather is lovely but it’s also hurricane season so make sure you have trip insurance in case you need to cancel.
12. The East Coast is Full of Great USA Trip Ideas for Summer or Fall
A favorite East Coast road trip is from Rhode Island up to Maine. It can be a romantic fall foliage trip or a great summer trip with kids.
Hit the beaches on Block Island, mansions in Newport, charming towns of Cape Cod, the Freedom Trail in Boston, lobstering in Maine or hiking in Acadia National Park. Check it all out on a New England Road Trip with Teens.
A Southern East Coast road trip will take you from the beaches of Florida to the historic towns of Savannah and Charleston with many historic sites and countless antique shops or markets.
Myrtle Beach is a draw for so many recreational things to do. There are so many places to explore on the Eastern seaboard.
13. Mid South Road Trips
We did a short version of this trip through Tennessee where you can see the sights and sounds of Nashville, whiskey tasting in Lynchburg and Chattanooga.
Add on the Blue Ridge Parkway through the Great Smoky Mountains for fall foliage and a trip to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.
Incorporate coastal cities like Charleston if you have time and beautiful beach areas like the Outer Banks.
14. Lake Michigan Circle Tour is Amazing for Road Trippin’ the USA
This trip will take you through Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and a bit of Indiana. It’s the prettiest summer trip that’s perfect for families and you can combine it with a Midwest college tour.
Chicago is such a cool city especially in summer. If you’ve never been to Wisconsin, get it on your list ASAP for a summer or fall trip with foliage and football.
Don’t miss Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Sleeping Bear Dunes at the top of Michigan for beautiful beaches and interesting landscape.
15. The Road to Hana is Definitely a Bucket List USA Trip
The famed Road to Hana in Maui is more of a long, scenic drive than a road trip. In 59 miles, you will want to stop at every waterfall, black sand beach or interesting view point.
Another great Hawaiian drive on the big island of Hawaii from Hilo to Honokaa is Hamakua Coast Drive. Big wave season is from the end of October though March on the North Shore of Oahu.
We’ve been dying to see the 30-50 foot waves in person. Hawaii has year round amazing weather.
15 Best National Parks to Visit in the USA
We bought a National Park Pass and have been national park obsessed lately. There is nothing better than getting out in nature to have a true vacation and there are so many great national parks to visit in the US.
16. Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona
There’s no place like the Grand Canyon. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a first-time visitor, there’s no wrong way to experience this natural wonder.
For the truly adventurous, a hike to the bottom of the canyon is a must. The trailhead for the Bright Angel Trail is located near the visitor center, and hikers can choose between a day hike and an overnight camping trip.
There’s no better way to appreciate the scale of the canyon than by spending some time at its bottom.
For those who want to stay closer to the top, there are plenty of vantage points from which to take in the incredible views. Yavapai Point and Mather Point are two of the most popular first time viewpoints.
The Grand Canyon Skywalk is a see through cantilever bridge that takes you out over the edge of Grand Canyon west.
Combine the Grand Canyon with the best places to visit in Arizona like Sedona, Page and Monument Valley,
17. Arches National Park in Moab, Utah
Arches National Park is full of, well, arches! The most famous of these is Delicate Arch, which has been featured on everything from postcards to Utah license plates.
But there are plenty of other arches to explore in the park, including Double Arch (shown above) and Sand Dune Arch, among others.
Of course, you can also just enjoy the stunning natural scenery or stargaze in one of the darkest skies in the country.
For those that want to get closer to nature, there are plenty of hikes to explore, ranging from easy nature trails to challenging multi day treks.
Arches National Park definitely deserves a spot on your Utah Bucket List.
18. Canyonlands National Parks in Moab, Utah
A visit to Canyonlands National Park can be a series of scenic drives and mind-blowing views or filled with incredible hiking and off road adventures.
With over 400 miles of hiking trails, there is sure to be a route that appeals to everyone, from casual walkers to hardcore adventurers.
No visit to Canyonlands would be complete without a trip to one of its three major attractions: Mesa Arch, The Needles, or Dead Horse Point State Park.
You can stay in Moab to visit both Canyonlands and Arches National Parks. Without having an airport nearby, you will probably want to see other parks on your way there like Zion.
19. Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park is one of the most beautiful places on earth. With its red rock formations, hoodoos, and stunning views.
From above, the Bryce Amphitheater is a USA bucket list sight. There are multiple viewpoints to watch the sunset or enjoy a picnic lunch.
But the real treat is spending one Day in Bryce Canyon National Park and hiking down into the towering hoodoos.
The Navajo Loop Trail is one of the most popular trails, winding through some of the most beautiful parts of the canyon, including Wall Street. You will be surrounded by high walls of red rock and if you’re lucky, you might even see some wildlife.
20. Zion National Park
With over four million visitors each year, Zion National Park has some of the best sights in America. The park features sandstone cliffs, canyons, rivers and iconic views that you’ve probably seen in tons of photos.
There are many things to do in Zion National Park, starting with the scenic drive that will blow you away with its beauty.
Take advantage of the many bucket list USA adventures in Zion. Wade through the river on the Narrows hike with 1,500 foot canyon walls towering above you..
Or get your adrenaline fill on the Angels Landing hike that takes you to the top of a 1,488-foot tall rock formation along precarious paths and steep drop-offs.
Visiting Zion is only one of the completely awesome things to do in Kanab and Southwest Utah.
21. Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado
Rocky Mountain National Park is home to an incredible amount of natural beauty, including soaring mountains, pristine lakes, and lush forests.
And while there are countless ways to enjoy the park, one of the most popular activities is hiking. With more than 350 miles of trails, there’s a perfect hike for everyone.
Dream Lake and Emerald Lake are the best hiking spots for beginners. With shorter trails and lakes with beautiful reflections, these are highly popular.
A must-do hike for those that want a great workout is Sky Pond. Serious hikers head for Long’s Peak, the biggest challenge at 14,259 feet.
22. Yosemite National Park in California
Tucked away in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, Yosemite National Park is one of the world’s most incredible natural landscapes immortalized in Ansel Adams photographs.
With more than 1,200 square miles to explore, there are plenty of sights worth seeing in this national treasure.
Catch sunrise lighting up soaring granite cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome from Tunnel View. Then head to the thundering waterfalls of Yosemite Valley and picturesque hiking trails.
In February, catch the bucket list moment when Horsetail Falls lights up from the sunset to create the “firefall.”
Our 2 Days in Yosemite Itinerary will give you all the best things to do in the park along with where to stay and how to get around.
23. Death Valley National Park
Death Valley is a place of extremes. It is the hottest, driest, and lowest point in North America. But it is also one of the most beautiful places on earth. Here are some of the best things to do in Death Valley National Park.
One of the most popular things to do in Death Valley is visit the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. These massive dunes are a great place to hike, sled, or simply take in the majestic views.
For another dose of natural beauty, head to Zabriskie Point for a sunset that you won’t soon forget. Another must-see are the Salt Flats at Badwater Basin.
Whether you’re looking for adventure or simply want to marvel at some of Mother Nature’s finest work, Death Valley National Park should be at the top of your list.
24. Joshua Tree National Park in California
Joshua Tree is the most low key, surprisingly wonderful national parks. It is named after the trees native to the region, and it consists of 760,000 acres.
More than 2,500 species live in this area making it one of the most biodiverse regions in North America.
We highly recommend doing a little slow travel here. You can go rock climbing, take hikes, see stars at night like you’ve never seen before or just take in the vibe at a cool Airbnb.
Check out the best things to do in Joshua Tree for a weekend getaway or as part of a California road trip.
25. Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming
Yellowstone National Park is home to some of the most stunning scenery in the country, including glaciers, mountains, waterfalls, hot springs and more than 200 species of animals.
On a 3 day Yellowstone itinerary, wildlife watching should be at the top of your list. Lamar Valley, full of bison, is so exciting that it creates a traffic jam in the park every day.
The park’s many geothermal areas are showstoppers including the world-famous Old Faithful geyser that erupts every 90 minutes. See the Grand Prismatic Spring, the largest hot spring in the US, at ground level or from above on a nearby hike.
If you’re looking for an active adventure, you can go whitewater rafting on the Yellowstone River or hike through Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon.
26. Grand Teton National Park
At next-door neighbor Grand Teton National National Park, you can boat, float, fish, hike and camp with the Teton mountain range and Snake River as your backdrop.
The 42 mile scenic drive will take you past some of the most stunning scenery in the park. Make sure to stop at Mormon Row, the historic district of well-preserved late 19th century homesteads.
Next, head to Jenny Lake for a peaceful canoe or kayak ride. This is a great way to take in the incredible views of the Tetons while getting some exercise.
If you’re feeling ambitious, hike up to Inspiration Point and Hidden Falls. This trail is moderate to strenuous, but it’s definitely worth it for the stunning views of Jenny Lake and the Tetons beyond.
There’s so much to see and do in Grand Teton National Park, you could easily spend days here and never get bored.
27. Glacier National Park in Montana
Glacier National Park has over 1 million acres of wilderness and some of the most jaw dropping scenery. It’s a hiker’s paradise but you’ll also find other adventures like whitewater rafting, photographing wildlife, kayaking, fishing and more.
Don’t miss the drive up Going-to-the-Sun Road, which bisects the park from east to west.
The road climbs over 6,000 feet (1829 m) in just 52 miles (84 km), providing motorists with spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains and Glacier National Park.
Visit 3 National Parks on One Trip to Glacier National Park, Yellowstone and Grand Tetons. They’re all driving distance from each other and each one offers something unique.
28. Acadia National Park
A trip up to Maine is so worth it for a chance to see Acadia National Park. It’s home to some of the best hiking trails in New England with plenty of scenic views and easy hikes.
Or if you’re feeling adventurous, try one of their more challenging trails like South Bubble Trail or Mt. Cadillac North Ridge Trail!
If you’re not up for a hike there is still plenty to do at Acadia National Park with many different activities including camping, biking, canoeing or kayaking on Echo Lake Lake, rock climbing, and bird watching.
Don’t miss the delicious popovers at the restaurant overlooking Jordan Pond!
29. Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska
Kenai Fjords National Park is one of the most beautiful and underrated places in Alaska.
Some of the best things to do in Seward & Kenai Fjords National Park include a hike to Exit Glacier, iceberg kayaking in Bear Glacier Lagoon and a whale watching trip to see incredible marine life along with massive calving glaciers.
Alaska has 8 National parks and each features magnificent landscapes and activities. No matter which you choose, you’re guaranteed an amazing Alaskan experience!
30. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii is home to 2 of the world’s most active volcanoes.
Take the Crater Rim Drive to the Jaggar Museum overlook, hike the Kīlauea Iki Trail and through the rain forest to the Thurston Lava Tube, and have a bucket list dinner overlooking the crater at The Rim at Volcano House.
10 Cities That Deserve a Spot on Your USA Bucket List
31. New York City, New York
New York is a city of endless possibilities. It’s the world capital of finance, fashion, media, and culture. Start your New York trip with a walk in Central Park, followed by a visit to the Met.
New York’s museums are world class and the Guggenheim is another of New York’s most iconic attractions.
Don’t miss a Broadway show in Times Square and the Empire State Building, if it’s your first trip to the the Big Apple.
Hit the latest restaurants in Greenwich Village, shop in Soho, get out on the water to visit Lady Liberty and time travel at the TWA hotel. If you visit in September, you can also see all the excitement of New York Fashion Week.
32. Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles is a great city for foodies with insanely good restaurants to see and be seen. And the scenic drives in LA are like movies in real life.
Spend your days at one of the latest museum exhibits or take your kids to a theme park. Wander around downtown LA checking out all the cool street art.
Shop for a great outfit or home decor that reflects cool California style. Just avoid the 15 biggest mistakes when visiting Los Angeles.
33. Washington DC
Washington D.C. is a city that offers something for everyone. From the history and culture of the Smithsonian museums (there are 19 of them!) to the nightlife and restaurants of Georgetown, there’s plenty to do and see in this vibrant city.
Take a walk or bike ride through the National Mall to see the monuments and memorials, including the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
If you plan ahead and request a tour through your member of Congress, you might get lucky enough to tour the White House. Stay in a DC hotel with a rooftop pool for extra fun.
34. San Francisco, California
San Francisco is one of the most unique and best places to visit in the USA. Take a walk across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge to get a view of the San Francisco Bay.
We recommend getting a view from water level too. Follow it up with a trip to Alcatraz Island, probably the only time you’ll visit a prison as a tourist attraction.
Chinatown, one of the oldest and biggest in the US, is a great place to try Dim Sum. Of course you have to ride a cable car over one of the steep city streets.
Visit Coit Tower for another great viewpoint. Spend some time in the Marina at the Palace of Fine Arts, Crissy Field and the Presidio.
35. Chicago, Illinois
Chicago is a fantastic city to visit – especially in good weather. Millennium Park is home to the famous Cloud Gate sculpture, as well as a variety of gardens and performance venues.
The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the largest art museums in the world, and a must visit. Even though it’s super touristy, it’s fun to catch a cruise at Navy Pier to tour Chicago’s incredible architecture.
If baseball is in season, you should definitely catch a Cubs game at Wrigley Field. Hit Michigan Avenue lined for the best high-end shops.
Last but not least, while you’ll probably go to the famous long standing restaurants in Chicago, don’t miss one of the cutting edge restaurants in the city.
36. Boston, Massachusettes
Boston is a city of many firsts from the country’s oldest public park, Boston Common to Harvard, America’s oldest University. Many of Boston’s historical buildings can be seen by taking a stroll on the Freedom trail including Paul Revere’s house.
Faneuil Hall, the site of America’s first town meeting is a bustling marketplace today. Stop in Quincy market for a bite to eat and take in the vibrant energy of Boston.
Art enthusiasts will enjoy Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, the largest in North America. Sports lovers should catch a Red Rox game at Fenway. Finally, don’t forget to get a peek of the Charles River, where you might see some collegiate crews rowing.
Plan an extra day or two when you visit because there are plenty of great day trips from Boston too.
37. New Orleans, Louisiana
With major events like Mardi Gras, the Jazz Festival, and others, New Orleans is one of the best places to vacation in the United States.
Watch street performers at Jackson Square and admire their impressive skills. Hop on a streetcar and discover all the fun and wild parts of New Orleans, including St. Charles Avenue, the Garden District, and Uptown New Orleans.
Visit the French Quarter, packed with museums, art galleries, restaurants, and of course notorious bars. Since New Orleans is a foodie paradise, you have to try beignets from Cafe du Monde!
Other yummy favorites – the original Muffaletta from Central Grocery Deli, and hot dogs from Dat Dog. Don’t leave the Big Easy without meals at Commander’s Palace and Jacques-Imo’s.
Those who don’t mind venturing outside the city (approximately 1-hour drive) should discover some of the best southern plantation estates in the country, such as Laura Plantation, New Orleans Oak Alley Plantation, and San Francisco Plantation.
An airboat tour in the Bayou is another great day trip and one of the most memorable, super fun things we’ve done in Louisiana.
38. Miami, Florida
Dreaming of a beach getaway? Miami’s blend of different cultures creates the ultimate destination for entertainment. Loved for its spectacular beaches and vibrant art scene, the coastal metropolis has something to offer for everyone.
Stop by South Beach – the most iconic area in Miami. Wander through its beautiful Art Deco District to enjoy a sprinkle of 1930’s nostalgia.
Spend the day soaking up rays and cool beach vibes. Whenever hunger kicks in, stop by Bayside Market has a lively atmosphere while enjoy views of the bay.
To get your daily dose of culture, plan a visit to one of Miami’s greatest treasures – the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, which offers a little taste of Europe with its elegant furniture.
Other great Miami beaches include Surfside for postcard-worthy vistas and Sunny Isles Beach to be in the midst of all action. There is no doubt the coastal metropolis is one of the most fun USA places to explore.
39. Charleston, South Carolina
From charming cobblestone streets and antebellum architecture to world-class restaurants and lively nightlife – Charleston is surely one of the best US destinations.
Take a ghost tour in the oldest and most haunted city in America, with over 100 recognized otherworldly beings.
A trip to the Lowcountry would be incomplete without shopping for antiques and visiting high-end boutiques on King Street, which also has fantastic restaurants and bars.
Join the locals for seafood at Chubby Fish or rev up your taste buds with a delicious cheddar and jalapeno biscuit from Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit.
Stop by the Charleston Farmers Market, which is considered one of the best in the South. Not only will you get your hands on amazing produce, but you may even catch a live performance.
Sullivan’s Island beach should be on your itinerary too. Although it is the smallest of Charleston’s beaches, it is the most pristine.
40. Seattle, Washington
Consistently ranked among the ten best places to live in the United States, Seattle’s coffee culture, grunge music scene, and lush evergreen forests will charm you too.
Visit the top of the Space Needle – an iconic part of Seattle’s skyline with 360 degree views. While in the area, have crispy pancakes at Paju or delicious ramen at Cafe Goldinblack.
Set aside some time to explore one of the country’s most famous public markets – Pike Place Market. Then, take the commuter ferry across Puget Sound to Bainbridge Island and discover the stunning city from a new perspective.
For culture freaks, paying a visit to the Museum of Pop Culture – MoPop – is a must. One of the most beautiful libraries in America can be found at the University of Washington’s Suzzalo Library, which feels exactly like Hogwarts.
With endless opportunities to have fun, there is no doubt Seattle is one of the coolest USA places to visit.
Vanlife, RVs, Camping or Glamping for USA Adventure Trips
The type of accommodations you choose for your trip can actually be part of the adventure all on it’s own. Rent a converted Sprinter van or RV to be your home AND transportation on a USA road trip.
Stay in a luxurious Glamping tent to add extra pizazz to your vacation. Or enjoy nature and pitch a tent. It’s more rustic but super fun with your friends and family.
41. USA Glamping Trips
Accommodations range from luxurious to rustic in permanent tent structures, cabins, teepees, chuck wagons, dome tents, yurts and tree houses. We LOVE glamping!!
Glamping in Big Sur under massive redwood trees in a king bed with an electric blanket and a push button campfire is right up my alley.
It’s just one of the coolest glamping destinations in California. There are a ton of options!
42. Tent Camping Trips in the USA
I was so nervous to do our first tent camping trip at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon but it was a blast.
We did it again on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land to watch Speed Week on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. That was even better because the ground was hard packed salt (basically no dirt).
If you’ve never been to Crater Lake or Bonneville Salt Flats, get them on your USA bucket list. They are both jaw droppingly cool! There are incredible places to tent camp all over the USA.
43. Backpacking Trips in the USA
Backpacking, as the name implies involves a hike to a remote area, where you carry everything you need on your back – like food, water and shelter.
Since you are carrying everything, you have to really conserve on the amount of weight. It’s also important to follow the leave no trace behind principles.
We planned our first backpacking trip to Havasupai and we can’t wait! That amazing blue water at Havasu Falls has been on our USA bucket list for years now.
In addition to Havasupai, the other beginner backpacking trips that are on our USA bucket list are the Lost Coast Trail and John Muir Trail in California, the Point of Arches Trail in Olympic National Park, Washington, and the Golden Cathedral in Escalante, Utah.
44. Rent a Converted Sprinter Van
Campervan photos on Instagram make everyone swoon. There’s something about the idea of opening up the door to an incredible view and living life completely free.
A sprinter van allows you to have a mini RV that goes anywhere and off the grid if there’s solar power.
We rented a sprinter van for a Utah road trip on Outdoorsy. Honestly it was so much more fun than we expected.
So…. we bought one and did our own sprinter van conversion that you can see in the photo above. Use JEN50 to get $50 off your first Outdoorsy rental.
If you decide to do a van or RV road trip, we made a list of 30 Campervan Gadgets and Accessories that would have greatly enhanced our experience.
45. RV for a USA Road Trip
I have a friend that goes RV camping and I’ll be honest, I thought it was 100% not for me but I’m starting to rethink my position.
There’s so much space and some of them are seriously luxurious. The obvious benefit to an RV is that it holds more people, so it’s better for a family trip than a campervan.
A good RV Resort has a cool location, full hook ups, activities available and restaurants too.
Twelvemile Beach Campground at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan sits on a gorgeous beach near lots of great things to do. Salmon River Campground in Stanley, Idaho is quite a scenic area too.
Active Trip Ideas in the USA
Having a chance to take an active trip really makes it feel like a true vacation. It can be such a departure from everyday life and a way to disconnect from all of our electronic devices.
Whether you love water sports, Yoga retreats, or exploring backcountry wilderness on foot, the USA has tons of active trips available.
46. Lake Vacations are Very Popular USA Summer Trips
Lake vacations are a great way to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Enjoy beautiful scenery, fresh air, and plenty of outdoor activities.
Some of the best lake vacations in the USA can be found in states such as California, Oregon, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Colorado.
Check out the 10 Best Southern California Lakes for a weekend gateway.
These states are home to some of America’s most picturesque lakes, which offer plenty of opportunities for swimming, fishing, boating, hiking and skiing.
47. USA Kayak Trips
If you like kayaking, you can find some amazing USA trip ideas in this post with the Best Kayaking and Canoe Trips in the USA.
A few of our favorites include iceberg kayaking in Alaska, lake kayaking and floating down the Deschutes River in Oregon, and kayaking along the bays of the Northern California Coast.
The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin features beautiful islands and cliffs, and is perfect for kayaking trips of all lengths.
True adventurers should try kayaking down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. This trip will test your skills as a kayaker, but it’s definitely worth the effort!
48. Canoe Trips
Canoe and kayak trips have a lot in common but since a canoe can carry more gear, canoe trips make great overnight adventures.
One of the best canoe trips in the US is the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota. This area is full of pristine lakes and rivers, and campgrounds to stay overnight.
Another great park for canoeing is Grand Teton National Park. The park has several beautiful rivers and lakes, and it’s also home to some of the most impressive mountain ranges in the country. Glacier National Park is another top spot.
49. Whitewater Rafting Trips
There are many great whitewater rafting trips in the USA. With a wide variety of rapids there are trips that will thrill both beginners and experienced rafters.
The Rocky Mountains in Colorado make for some of the most thrilling whitewater rafting in the country. California offers a wealth of options for whitewater rafting trips.
The American River is one of the most popular destinations and offers everything from mild Class II rapids to heart-stopping Class V rapids.
Oars is a great outfitter with so many rafting trip options on the Green river (shown above), the Colorado River, Salmon River, Rogue River, Snake River and more.
50. Winter Ski and Snowboard Trips
There are a plethora of awesome ski and snowboard destinations in the United States. The best quality snow can be found in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon and California.
Vail, Colorado is a world-class resort with stunning mountain scenery and plenty of slopes for all levels of skiers and snowboarders.
Another great destination is Aspen, which offers superb skiing on four mountains as well as luxurious accommodations and fine dining.
Utah is also a great place to ski, with five world-class resorts including Park City and Deer Valley.
The Sundance Film Festival in the end of January is one of Hollywood’s favorite USA trips in winter. Idaho’s Sun Valley and Wyoming’s Jackson Hole are also at the top of every skier’s list.
California has skiing up and down the state . Mammoth Mountain is one of the top rated family friendly resorts. Big Bear is a favorite in Southern California where you can surf and ski in the same day
51. Biking Trips to Add to Your USA Bucket List
Biking is a great way to see the sights while getting some exercise. And there are plenty of scenic biking trails all across the United States.
Whether you do a family biking trip with an outfitter like Backroads, or a longer distance ride, it will definitely be a memorable experience.
The Green Mountains in Vermont offer the Catamount Trail, a 300-mile long trail that traverses the length of the state, making it perfect for a multi-day biking trip.
For a bit of history along your ride, pedal along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park in Maryland. This 184.5-mile long trail follows an old canal towpath and passes through towns, forests, and along the Potomac River.
Some other must-do, incredible view rides include Pacific Coast Highway in Big Sur, the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park, the Flume Trail in Lake Tahoe, the Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville, NC, the McKenzie River Trail in Bend, and Trail 401 in Crested Butte, Colorado.
52. USA Bucket List for Birding
If you’re a bird lover, or you’ve seen The Big Year, you know that people definitely plan travel around birding. The USA is home to an incredible diversity of birdlife.
There are plenty of hotspots where you can see some truly spectacular feathered friends like the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail with over 370 species.
The Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival is one of the best birding events in the country, attracting tens of thousands of enthusiasts every year.
Brooklyn’s Prospect Park is another great spot for birdwatching, with over 200 species of birds recorded in the park.
The Biggest Week in American Birding Festival is held each year in Ohio, and it’s one of the biggest birding events in the world. Over 300 species make their way to the Great White North all the way from South America.
Other places that should be on your birding bucket list include Point Reyes National Seashore, Tuscon, Arizona, Everglades National Park, and Cape May, New Jersey,
Bucket List USA Photography Tours
Tourists flock to the USA in droves, eager to snap photos of iconic landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and the Golden Gate Bridge. But there’s so much more to this country than just those two things.
From the majestic mountains of Alaska to the red rocks of Arizona, the USA is a photographer’s paradise. Here are four of the best Photo Tours in the USA that should be on your bucket list.
53. Alaska Northern Lights
One of nature’s most spectacular displays, the Northern Lights are a must-see for any photographer. And what better place to see them than in Alaska, where they are at their brightest?
There are few things more breathtaking than watching the skies light up in a shifting display of colors.
Northern Lights tours typically take place during the winter months, when the nights are long and the air is clear. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to get that perfect photo, whether you’re using a DSLR camera or your phone.
Dress for temperatures that can dip below zero. But it will be worth it when you end up with some amazing photos that you’ll treasure for a lifetime.
54. Alaskan Bear Photo Tour
Alaska is well-known for its large population of bears, and a bear photo tour is the perfect way to get up close and personal with these majestic creatures.
One of the most unique photo tours you can do in the USA is to Arctic Alaska to get eye to eye with polar bears.
Plan on spending between 3-6 days, where you’ll take boat tour each day to capture the bears in their natural habitat while learning about their behavior and ecology.
During summer join a wildlife photographer for a brown bear photo tour in King Salmon. It’s a trip of a lifetime to be able to see the bears feeding during the salmon run and interacting in the wild.
55. Channel Your Inner Ansel Adams in Yosemite
For those who love to take photos, Yosemite National Park is a veritable paradise. From the grandeur of Half Dome and El Capitan to the majesty of Yosemite Falls, there are endless opportunities for breathtaking shots.
And with a little planning, it’s easy to make the most of your time in the park. The first step is to choose the right tour. There are many different companies that offer photo tours of Yosemite, so it’s important to do your research.
Once you’ve found a tour that suits your needs, it’s time to start planning your itinerary. Depending on the time of year, you’ll want to make sure to include shots of Tunnel View, the Valley floor, Glacier Point, and Tuolumne Meadows.
56. Astrophotography in a Dark Sky Park
If you’re an amateur astronomer looking for the best place to snap some pictures of the night sky, you need a spot with no light pollution and the right atmospheric conditions.
There are a few places that tend to be ideal for astrophotography, such as Death Valley National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Mauna Kea in Hawaii, Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and Big Bend National Park in Texas.
Utah has incredible spots like Canyonlands and honestly plenty of spots if you just pull off the road somewhere desolate.
These locations offer dark skies and minimal light pollution, making them ideal for capturing clear images of the stars and planets. So if you’re planning a trip to see the night sky in all its glory, be sure to add these parks to your list!
Equipment to Take Magnificent Photos on Vacation:
- Splurge on a full format camera and learn how to use it with your professional photo tour guide. Get a super telephoto lens for wildlife photography or a 10 stop filter that costs almost nothing and makes stunning, smooth waterfall shots.
- Get a drone, learn how to fly it and capture cool photos and videos. It was our best purchase ever!
- A GoPro offers unlimited fun potential. Strap it onto your kid’s bike helmet, put it on a surfboard, or use it for great wide angle shots. Add an underwater dome and take super cool above and below water photos.
Best Places to Visit in the USA By Season
57. Fall US Trips for Autumn Fun, Foliage and Less Crowds
The obvious choice for an Autumn trip is to New England for fall foliage from mid September to the beginning of October. but you can find incredible fall colors and harvest festivals all over the country.
Check the Farmer’s Almanac for peak foliage dates by state. Notable states with vibrant color include Virginia, North Carolina, Michigan, Colorado, and Oregon.
Another great trip idea for fall are places that are way too busy in summer like Yellowstone, Great Smoky Mountains and the Utah Mighty 5.
New York City is perfection in fall from the excitement of Fashion Week to enjoying the delightful weather in Central Park. Albuquerque hosts Balloon Fiesta in October that is a colorful sight to see.
58. Winter Trips for Sun and Snow
If you’re dreaming of a winter getaway, there’s no shortage of destinations in the USA that offer the perfect combination of snow and fun.
New York, is hands down one of the best places to visit in December. You can experience all the excitement of the city that never sleeps, with the added bonus of the festive holiday season.
Take a stroll through Central Park, go ice skating at Rockefeller Center, and wrap up warm and enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride through the snow-covered streets.
From the world famous slopes of Aspen to the majestic mountains of Colorado, there’s no shortage of great places to hit the slopes. And while you could easily spend a fortune on a luxury ski trip, there are plenty of budget-friendly options as well.
If winter sun is your jam, Hawaii is the perfect place to relax and escape the cold. San Diego has great weather year round and plenty of fun activities.
With sandy beaches and turquoise water, there’s no question why snowbirds spend the winter in Florida. And don’t forget Arizona for golf,
59. Flowers and Celebrations Make the Best USA Trip ideas for Spring
If you want to see cherry blossoms, head to Washington DC. Tulips abound in Holland, Michigan and Skagit Valley, Washington.
California poppies, Texas bluebonnets and Azizona’s desert blooms will make your heart sing. When Spring has sprung, it can make the grumpiest person happy.
Spring break in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Texas at the beach is also highly popular!
60. Summer is a Great Time to Take your USA Road Trips North
Summer is a great time for road trips in America and it is also a common time for people to take off from work.
As a general rule of thumb, the northern states are at their best while the southern ones are drowning in heat and/or humidity.
The states that are the best to visit in summer are Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine, Hawaii and Alaska.
61. Staycations for the Best Places to Visit in the USA Near Home
A staycation is the cop out of vacation ideas unless you really do it right. Take the week off of work and look at your home town as a vacation destination. What do all the people do that are tourists in your area? Better yet, what are the coolest places in your area that tourists don’t know about. Pro Tips: Stay at a hotel and make an itinerary so you aren’t tempted to keep up with real life distractions.
5 Cool Things to do on a Staycation
- See museums, go to a play, or visit interesting cultural events. A staycation is the perfect time to support the arts.
- Do a day trip of an area 1-2 hours away that you’ve never been to or haven’t seen in years. Head to a lake near you and spend some time enjoying lake life.
- Eat out every night at restaurants you’re really wanted to try. Have breakfast at a cool restaurant way across town.
- Stay at the newest hotel in your area that’s the talk of the town. We live in Los Angeles so it’s really easy to feel like you’re going on vacation 30 miles away because it can take 2 hours to get there. Haha!! For us, staying in a hotel across town would open up a world of possibilities we never touch.
- Go hiking, take a long bike ride, or take advantage of an exercise class you’ve heard about. Take up a new sport you’ve wanted to try like rowing, stand up paddle boarding (SUP), surfing or a boot camp and kickstart your fitness regime.
Other Posts You Might Like:
- TRAVEL: The Best Places to Travel in March
- ARIZONA: Visiting Sedona for Hiking and the Sedona Vortex
- CALIFORNIA: Joshua Tree Weekend Getaway Guide
- ALASKA: Alaska Summer Road Trip Itinerary