Are you looking for the best vacation spots in the US to relax and enjoy the sun? Well, you're in for a treat!
Traveling to the US for vacation has several attractions. It's a vast and incredibly diverse country where you can go from exploring a bustling metropolis to a tranquil national park or an idyllic coastal town in a single trip. From hiking in Arizona's deserts to sunbathing on the beaches of the Florida Keys to skiing at world-class resorts, the United States has something for everyone. It might be challenging for you to narrow down the great spots to visit in the USA because there are so many amazing places to see.
To help you decide, we've compiled a list of the 11 best vacation spots in the US. Whether your plans include a tropical getaway, a warm winter escape, or a fall trip to see lively foliage, this guide to the best vacation spots in the US has you covered.
So, without any further ado, let's delve right in!
1. New York City – New York
New York City is undeniably one of the best vacation spots in the United States. From world-renowned art galleries and Broadway performances to top-tier dining options, this diverse town has everything you could want.
NYC is a culinary melting pot with a diverse range of authentic ethnic cuisines. Explore Flushing in Queens for authentic Chinese cuisine, Urubamba Restaurant for classic Peruvian delights, and BuonItalia for the best Italian ingredients. From the Smithsonian Design Museum to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the city has a lot to offer art lovers.
In addition to the various Broadway performances, NYC also offers a plethora of affordable shows. Off-Broadway shows, for example, offer a high-quality Broadway experience at a lower cost. Well-known tourist attractions include the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Central Park, and One World Trade Center.
2. New Orleans – Louisiana
Located along the mighty Mississippi River, this must-see destination is known for its live music, world-class cuisine, and lively nightlife, all of which are infused with a distinct French and Spanish cultural influence.
New Orleans is well-known for its exuberant annual Mardi Gras festival, transforming the city into a massive costume carnival every February. Furthermore, as the birthplace of American jazz, you'll find live jazz performances at almost every bar in the city.
Moreover, you can savor the famous Creole and Cajun cuisines throughout the city. Gumbo, crawfish étouffée, jambalaya, beignets, and po' boys (a type of sandwich) are some of the famous dishes. Jackson Square, the buzzing Bourbon Street, and the historic French Quarter are some top tourist destinations.
3. Miami – Florida
Miami gained global recognition through the iconic TV show Miami Vice, which presented it as an American “gangster's paradise” known for its magnificent beaches, aspirational lifestyle, modern architectural marvels, and active nightlife. Today, it is a diverse hub of different races, cultures, and religions, standing as a top vacation spot in the US. Little Havana offers a taste of the colorful “Latino lifestyle,” with various delicious Cuban restaurants and galleries highlighting Latin American art.
If you're looking to immerse yourself in Miami's lively beach life, South Beach is a great spot with surfing, sunbathing, and leisure activities. Moreover, the Miami Seaquarium offers up-close encounters with diverse marine life like penguins, dolphins, seals, and beautiful fish species.
4. Yellowstone National Park – Wyoming
Yellowstone National Park is a renowned and iconic natural wonder extending into Montana and Idaho. Yellowstone is well-known for its geothermal features, including geysers, hot springs, mud pots, and fumaroles. Old Faithful, the world's most famous geyser, erupts regularly, offering a breathtaking natural display.
Yellowstone National Park is a sanctuary of wildlife and 300 bird species. It's one of the few areas in the US where you can see grizzly bears and wolves. Bison, elk, moose, deer, and other species also roam freely within the park's boundaries.
The park boasts beautiful landscapes, including large meadows, lush forests, deep canyons, and steep mountains. Yellowstone Lake is one of the biggest high-altitude lakes in North America. Moreover, the park offers various outdoor activities like hiking, camping, fishing, boating, and animal watching to visitors.
Moreover, Yellowstone also has several unique attractions, such as the Grand Prismatic Spring, which has bright hues due to thermophilic bacteria, and the Norris Geyser Basin, which is recognized for its dynamic and ever-changing geothermal activity.
5. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Grand Canyon National Park is undeniably one of the best family vacation spots in Arizona and one of the top holiday destinations in the US. With its breathtaking views, this canyon delivers amazing hiking trails and endless outdoor activities.
The Grand Canyon is famous for its beautiful sunsets with the changing colors of the canyon walls. The park is also known as Dark Sky Park, making it a wonderful spot for stargazing. Head to famous vantage points like Bright Angel Point and Walhalla Plateau at dusk for a spectacular night under the stars.
For photography lovers, the Grand Canyon has several designated viewpoints along the rim, including Mather Point, Yavapai Point, and Desert View, providing breathtaking canyon views. Moreover, the Grand Canyon is home to diverse wildlife, including mule deer, California condors, and a variety of bird species.
6. Orlando, Florida
Orlando is one of America's best vacation destinations in the US, especially for families and large groups of friends. Orlando is also recognized as the “Theme Park Capital of the World” because of its unparalleled collection of world-renowned theme parks. The most well-known parks are Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort (which includes Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure), LEGOLAND Florida, SeaWorld Orlando, and more.
Beyond the theme parks, Orlando has a variety of attractions and activities. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and Gatorland are all iconic attractions. The city also features exciting dinner shows, water parks, and interactive activities.
Whether you're a fan of Disney magic, thrilling rides, or just looking to enjoy quality time with loved ones, Orlando has it all.
7. San Diego, California
San Diego, in Southern California, is a charming coastal city known for its pleasant climate, beautiful beaches, and a variety of family-friendly attractions. Whether you're looking for surfing, sunbathing, or tidepool exploring, San Diego's beaches, including La Jolla, Pacific Beach, and Coronado, have something for everyone. Sunny Jim Cave, another famous destination, is home to sea lions and is the only West Coast ocean cave accessible by land.
Moreover, San Diego is home to several world-class family attractions. The San Diego Zoo, located in Balboa Park, is one of the most well-known zoos in the world, with a large collection of animals and rich botanical gardens. You can hike in Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, biking along the Mission Bay Bike Path, or take a sunset cruise on the harbor.
Whether you're looking for beach relaxation, wildlife encounters, outdoor adventures, or cultural exploration, San Diego has something for every traveler.
8. Acadia National Park, Maine
Located on Mount Desert Island in Maine just south of Bar Harbor, Acadia National Park is also known as the “Crown Jewel of the North Atlantic Coast.” It is famous for its stunning beaches, amazing hiking trails, and 50 miles of scenic roadways, making it one of the best vacation spots in the US. Visitors can also enjoy wildlife viewing and relax in lovely resort towns.
Begin your park adventure by driving the 27-mile Park Loop Road. This route takes you past some of the park's most beautiful viewpoints, such as Thunder Hole, Sand Beach, and Otter Cliff.
Cadillac Mountain, the highlight of Acadia, is famous for being the first place in the United States where the sun's rays touch land. Its peak, which is accessible by both hiking and driving, offers incredible panoramic views of the bay. It's an adventure well worth waking up early for!
9. Aspen, Colorado
Aspen, popularly known as the best ski destination in the United States, is a charming resort town. It is located in the remote stretch of the Rockies and Elk Mountains beside the Roaring Fork River.
Winter welcomes adventurers to conquer the slopes of Buttermilk and Snowmass, Aspen's largest ski resort, on skis and snowboards. Hiking, mountain biking, fly fishing, and white-water rafting are all popular activities during the warm months. The Maroon Bells, two iconic peaks near Aspen, offer some of the country's most beautiful hiking trails. Whether you're looking for a snowy winter wonderland or a summer adventure in the mountains, Aspen is a perfect year-round vacation spot.
Besides being a great spot for outdoor adventures, Aspen is a cultural hub. The town is home to the Aspen Music Festival and School, the Wheeler Opera House, and the Aspen Institute, all of which provide a diverse range of cultural events, lectures, and performances.
10. Phoenix, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona, sometimes known as the “Valley of the Sun,” has an abundance of sunshine all year, making it a popular destination for visitors looking for warm and dry weather.
Beautiful desert landscapes and mountain ranges surround the city. Camelback Mountain, South Mountain Park, and Papago Park are all great places to go hiking. The River Ranch Water Park in Phoenix offers aquatic activities with water slides, pools, spas, a lazy river, and cozy cabanas.
Moreover, Phoenix has a rich cultural scene. The Desert Botanical Garden highlights the region's diverse plant life, while the Heard Museum celebrates Native American art and culture. The Phoenix Art Museum houses a broad collection of works of art.
Phoenix is also a gateway to several natural wonders, including the Grand Canyon, the red rock formations of Sedona, and the Sonoran Desert. Many visitors choose Phoenix as a base to explore these great attractions.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas, renowned as the ultimate adult playground, provides an unforgettable experience filled with high-end nightclubs, casinos, fine dining, shopping, and non-stop entertainment. Undoubtedly, this dynamic resort city ranks among the best group vacation destinations in the US for friends to enjoy together.
The Big Apple Coaster on The Strip provides an exciting experience with a 180° “heartline” curve, a 203-foot drop, and speeds of up to 67 mph! Las Vegas is home to a wealth of tropical-themed resorts with swaying palm trees and inviting outdoor pools, such as the Desert Club Resort and Hilton Grand Vacations Suites.
Las Vegas is a gateway to outdoor adventures in the surrounding desert. For those looking for an exciting change, day trips to Red Rock Canyon, the Hoover Dam, and the Grand Canyon are popular options.
A trip to Sin City should undoubtedly be on the to-do list of anyone looking to immerse themselves in America's luxurious lifestyle. “Vegas Baby” is a phrase that everyone should say at least once in their lifetime!
Some Interesting Vacation Spots
I hope you found some interesting vacation spots among these top 11 places to vacation in the United States!
From the stunning landscapes of Yellowstone and Acadia National Parks to the vibrant nightlife of Las Vegas and the cultural diversity of New Orleans, there's something for everyone. So, whether you're planning a family vacation, a romantic getaway, or an adventure with friends, these 11 best vacation spots in the US offer a diverse selection of amazing experiences that will leave you with lasting memories. Happy Travels!
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I’m Steve. I’m an English Teacher, traveler, and an avid outdoorsman. If you’d like to comment, ask a question, or simply say hi, leave me a message here, on Twitter (@thefrugalexpat1). Many of my posts have been written to help those in their journey to financial independence. I am on my journey, and as I learn more I hope to share more. And as always, thanks for reading The Frugal Expat.