From the Atlantic to the Pacific, the vast size and diversity of the United States makes it one of the best places to travel. From metropolises buzzing with attractions and entertainment to biodiverse wilderness zones and everything in between, there’s something for everyone.
17 of the Best Places to Visit in the United States
We’ll show you the best the U.S. has to offer with a list of top-tier destinations that will amaze, delight, and engage you. See the 17 best places to visit in the United States along with our most helpful travel tips and things to consider as you make your way across the US of A!
1. New York City, New York
If you love the energy of a big city, New York City is the best place you can visit in the United States. It’s the biggest city in the country with over 8.8 million people living, working, and enjoying life in its 5 unique boroughs.
From Manhattan with its skyscrapers and famous landmarks (like the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty) to Brooklyn and its renowned bridge and Coney Island, you can easily spend a week or more exploring the streets and attractions in NYC.
This is one place where you’ll want to fully embody the tourist stereotype and hit all the best-known spots. Visit the hub of Times Square, the green oasis of Central Park, luxe shops on Fifth Avenue, Chinatown, the Met, Guggenheim, and gourmet restaurants to tasty street food.
You’ll spend most of your time exploring Manhattan, but Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens are where you’ll find cool restaurants, independent shops, excellent zoos, bustling markets, and more museums to tour.
You can come any time of year and enjoy New York City, but we think nothing beats a trip in the fall with mild-to-cool temperatures, colorful foliage, and perfect opportunities to visit NYC’s attractions, museums, shops, and eateries.
2. Chicago, Illinois
The riverfront city of Chicago is famous for deep dish pizza, “the Bean,” Wrigley Field, and poppy seed-packed Chicago dogs, but actually has a lot more to offer. This is an urban hotspot with a more relaxed vibe that makes it really fun to visit.
While you’re here, you can walk downtown along the 1.25-mile Riverwalk where the Chicago River meanders right through the city. There are great restaurants, river taxi and boat tours, and ample photo opportunities on the way.
The river also means there are lots of beautifully designed bridges in Chicago, and on a city walk, you can cross 18 movable bridges (like the famous Du Sable Bridge) in just 2 miles.
Head off to Millennium Park to see some of the famous architecture, gardens, and sculptures in the city, like the Cloudgate (bean), Lurie Garden, seasonal ice rink and decorated tree, Crown Fountain, and the Millennium Monument.
Spending time in museums is a favorite pastime in Chicago. From the Museum of Science and Industry to the Art Institute of Chicago, there are plenty of ways to engage and educate yourself on Chicago’s past and thriving artistic culture.
You can experience Chicago with a walking, bus, bike, or boat tour to get different perspectives of the history, architecture, and entertainment options this city has to offer.
3. Las Vegas, Nevada
Affectionately known as Sin City, Las Vegas is the United States hub of nighttime entertainment and gambling. Casinos, famous hotels, replicas of landmarks around the world, lively clubs and bars, and family-friendly amusement are all part of the charm of Vegas.
Most people stay at a hotel/casino in Vegas where all-in-one fun is included, but you’ll find endless opportunities to gamble, take thrilling rides, and shop on the Las Vegas Strip and Fremont Street no matter where you stay.
See a Vegas wedding chapel, explore the Strip’s endless attractions, zip line and dine on the pedestrian-only Fremont Street, watch amazing fountain and light shows at the Bellagio, and tour the Mob Museum while you’re here.
Where else can you feel like you’ve traveled the world’s most famous places? Here, you can see replicas of the Eiffel Tower, Venetian canals, Egyptian pyramids, the Statue of Liberty, Michelangelo’s David sculpture, and the Colosseum of Rome.
Gambling is a major part of the culture of Vegas, so plan to hit the slot machines, play table games, or place a few bets on sporting events while you’re here to join in the fun.
You might leave a few dollars poorer than you came (or get lucky!), but you know what they say: What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!
4. Orlando, Florida
Florida’s beaches draw millions of visitors each year, but none compare to Orlando — the #1 tourist destination in the United States with over 74 million visitors in the last year alone.
People come to Orlando in Central Florida for its amazing array of amusement and theme parks, which is why it’s known as the Theme Park Capital of the World.
The most famous is Walt Disney World with its 6 parks (Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Typhoon Lagoon, and Blizzard Beach) filled with exhilarating themed rides, restaurants, games, and larger-than-life landmarks like the Cinderella Castle.
But Disney isn’t all you’ll find in sunny Orlando. Universal Studios and Universal Islands of Adventure, LEGOLAND, and SeaWorld are other reasons to come stay a week or two in Orlando for some quality family-friendly fun.
The Kennedy Space Center is less than an hour’s drive away, as are the popular Daytona Beach, Cocoa Beach, and New Smyrna Beach if you’re up for a day trip that takes you out of the hubbub of the parks.
5. Savannah, Georgia
Switching gears, a trip to Savannah, Georgia is one that’s meant for a slower pace and plenty of time to stroll, engage, eat, and drink as you take in the historic scenes of this Deep South city that’s still very much in touch with its roots.
The Spanish moss in Savannah is iconic and lends a slightly-spooky, old-South vibe to this storied city. With cobblestone streets downtown and tons of boutiques, local restaurants and bars, museums, and tour options, you’ll never be bored in Savannah.
Wander through historic mansions and homes turned into museums, take an educational walking tour or fun ghost tour through Savannah’s legendary haunted spots, and eat and drink your way down River Street downtown.
You’ll love wandering the squares of Savannah to grasp the culture and history of the town. Johnson Square is charming with fountains, statues, a sundial, and old buildings and churches with pillars and massive Old World doors.
There are 20 art and history museums around Savannah (like Telfair Museum), each one offering a new perspective of the city’s past and present. Browse Broughton Street shops and theaters for an afternoon of fun.
It’s far from the go-go-go vibes of New York City or other large metropolises, but if you want to slow down and enjoy a city that encourages you to wander, meander, and savor the trip, Savannah is the best place to go.
6. Washington D.C.
If you’re planning on visiting the Northeastern United States, you can’t miss the chance to come to the nation’s capital in Washington D.C. This place is an anchor for U.S. history and home to some of the most important institutions in the country.
This is where the White House, the president’s residence, proudly sits on a lawn filled with shade trees on Pennsylvania Avenue. Within walking distance are other amazing landmarks like the National Mall and towering Washington Monument obelisk.
On Capitol Hill, the famously-domed Capitol building sits with the Senate, House of Representatives, and Supreme Court — core institutions of the United States government that are open to the public for tours.
And the attractions just keep coming, like the Lincoln Memorial, 17 Smithsonian museums, the Vietnam War Memorial, Holocaust Memorial Museum, FBI Headquarters, and the National Archives Museum (where the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and Constitution are housed).
Head to Georgetown or 14th Street for boutique shopping and browse luxe goods, department stores, and famous brands in downtown D.C. The Eastern Market is fun to shop for fresh produce, crafts, antiques, and delicious treats on the weekends.
You’ll find tons of good things to eat and drink throughout the city, especially on Eighth Street (Barracks Row) and 23rd Street South (Restaurant Row) for fine dining, ethnic cuisine, bakeries, pizzerias, and fusion hotspots.
7. Honolulu, Hawaii
Looking for a beach spot to spend your time in the United States? Honolulu is one of the best tropical destinations in the country and while it’s outside of the contiguous U.S., you won’t need a passport to come if you’re a citizen or Permanent Resident.
Honolulu is the capital of Hawaii and sits on the island of Oahu’s south shore. This city is all about the Hawaiian spirit of Aloha, welcoming visitors with glimpses into the traditional Hawaiian culture and chances to explore and enjoy the local beaches, landmarks, and entertainment.
Honolulu is Hawaii’s biggest city and offers the best range of hotels, resorts, and things to do for tourists at any price point. And it’s home to the famous Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head volcanic crater, historic Iolani Palace, and Pearl Harbor National Memorial.
We love Honolulu because of the diverse mix of things to do here. History buffs, beach bums, foodies, water sports enthusiasts, families with young children, and culture vultures can all get their fill in Honolulu!
Spend a few days soaking up the sun, surf, and sand on Waikiki Beach, Ala Moana Beach Park, Kapiolani Park, and Kuhio Beach. Hike into the heart of the Diamond Head crater and around the rim for stunning views.
Take a surfing lesson, snorkel, attend a luau, take a boat cruise, hike Manoa Falls trail to see the waterfall, visit the Honolulu Zoo, and walk around downtown to see the art museum and Kuan Yin Temple Buddhist temple.
Read Next: When to Visit Honolulu & Where to Stay in Honolulu in 2023
8. New Orleans, Louisiana
You can’t visit New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA) and not fall in love with the city. Known as the Big Easy, downtown New Orleans is far removed from the hustle and bustle of metropolitan life with a Southern feel and French, African, and Spanish influences.
It’s a big nightlife destination with tons of clubs, pubs, bars, and music venues around the city. Enjoy a locally-beloved drive-thru daiquiri (legal in the state through a closed container loophole) if you’d rather take your sips “to geaux.”
The main highlights of NOLA are the beautiful (if crowded) French Quarter and its famous Bourbon Street, lined with bars, shops, and neon lights that turn any night here into a party.
While you’re here, hang out on Jackson Square, walk the lovely Garden District, and catch live music on Frenchmen Street.
If you come during Mardi Gras in February or March, you’ll be immersed in the true celebration culture of this fun and vibrant city with parades, costumes, King cake, drinks, and huge parties.
New Orleans Museum of Art, National World War II Museum, and the Historic New Orleans Collection are all great places to spend a few hours wandering through the city’s history and national collections that tell tales of war, art, and national events.
9. San Francisco, California
Known for its steep hills, old-fashioned cable cars, foggy mornings, and Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco occupies a special spot among travel destinations in the U.S. and is one of our favorite West Coast cities to visit.
It’s a lively city that’s always busy, but it’s nothing like NYC or even Los Angeles to its south. San Fran is unique in its laid-back vibes, rich history, beautiful surroundings, and a mix of cultural influences.
The stunning Golden Gate Bridge and Golden Gate Park are must-visits in SF. Head down to Fisherman’s Wharf to see sea lions, dine on fresh-caught seafood, tour museums, or rent a bike to see more of the city while you pedal.
Baker Beach provides some of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge with a 1-mile stretch of sand and boulders. Hiking trails begin here to lead you along the craggy coast.
Dining and shopping are abundant on Market Street, while Chinatown (the largest outside of Asia) is excellent for food, souvenirs, treats, and bars. Union Square and Upper Fillmore Street have some of the city’s best shopping with big names and boutiques.
Head to Lombard Street to walk or drive down the curviest, “crookedest” road in the world. You can take the ferry out to Alcatraz Island, enjoy PIER 39, check out of the Palace of Fine Arts, and explore the Japanese Tea Garden while you’re here.
10. Moab, Utah
Moab, Utah is a hotspot for outdoor adventure, incredible mountain and canyon views, and top-tier food, music, and attractions. If you love spending time on hiking trails or taking in great desert and mountain scenery, you’ll love Moab.
There are three parks you’ve got to check out in and around Moab: Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Dead Horse Point State Park.
In the parks, you’ll find easy to challenging trails you can follow to panoramic mountain views. Come for the sandstone arches of Arches National Park, mesas, rock towers and canyons in Canyonlands, and high deserts of Dead Horse Point overlooking Canyonlands.
You’ll find tons of restaurants downtown that are perfect for getting some grub after a long day on the trails and exploring the parks. Or the Moab Food Truck Park makes a fun weekend stop for lunch or dinner!
Breweries and museums are great activities around Moab, letting you taste craft beer varieties created locally and learn more about the geology, history, and recreation of the area.
Go four-wheeling on rugged trails through the wilderness, rent mountain bikes, and set out to explore outdoor recreation areas that will leave you with a new appreciation for the deserts of Utah.
Read Next: The Best & Worst Times to Visit Moab
11. Outer Banks of North Carolina
North Carolina’s Outer Banks islands (OBX) boast 100+ miles of developed and wild shoreline on the open ocean off the coast. As one of the first sites settled in the New World, OBX has a rich history, great beaches, and family-friendly attractions.
It’s one of the best places to visit in the United States with 3 different islands, each offering their own “flavor.” The Northern Beaches stretch from Duck to Nags Head and are some of the most popular (and developed) places to visit in OBX.
The more-rugged Hatteras Island and the unspoiled Cape Hatteras National Seashore is home to seven beachfront villages that hold lots of history. This is the spot for a less-developed beach trip that focuses on natural beauty.
Then there’s Roanoke Island — the first settlement by England’s Sir Walter Raleigh back in 1585. The tiny island town of Manteo is on the island and has the informative Maritime Museum where you can learn about the history.
OBX has shipwrecks you can dive or kayak around and explore, along with excellent saltwater fishing. There are some excellent state parks and piers on the islands where you can fish, dine, see aquariums, and shop right on the Atlantic Ocean.
12. Portland, Oregon
Portland is a city like no other, filled with the buzz you’d expect in a metropolis, chances to explore the outdoors, and all things eclectic and unusual. From its location on the Willamette River in the shadow of Mount Hood to its plethora of coffee shops and bookstores, this is a place for exploration!
Foodies will love Portland, where you’ll find trendy eateries and locally-loved restaurants downtown, a diverse range of food trucks, and up-and-coming restaurants in the Williams/Vancouver, Hawthorne, and Mississippi neighborhoods.
Coffee shops are on a whole ‘nother level here. Do yourself a favor and do the Downtown Portland Coffee Crawl — especially to visit Stumptown Coffee Roasters. They roast and brew their own beans!
Walk through Tom McCall Waterfront Park to take in scenic river views. Plan a visit to the famous Oregon Zoo and check out Hoyt Arboretum on a sunny day.
The arts are big in Portland, so visit the Portland Art Museum to browse. There’s a planetarium and natural science exhibits at OMSI (The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry). For a taste of the creepy and kooky, visit Freakybuttrue Museum near Fremont Bridge.
Wind things up with trips to some of Portland’s unique bookstores, ranging from tiny hole-in-the-wall shops with cool collections of titles to the beloved Powell’s City of Books.
13. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Itching to get out and experience the great outdoors in one of the most beautiful areas of the United States? Yellowstone National Park may be calling your name. In the rugged mountains and canyons of Wyoming, this feature-packed park is worth a trip.
Waterfalls, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, amazing rock formations, a natural bridge, great fishing and wildlife viewing, and endless vista views from the high points make Yellowstone truly stunning.
You’ll come to see the geysers, like Old Faithful and Daisy, that predictably erupt every few hours, but there are over 10,000 geothermal features in the park to check out. Hot springs, steamy fumaroles, acidic mudpots, and more.
It’s one of the best spots to camp and hike in the United States, offering 250+ miles of trails that span 1,000 miles through the massive park and 12 “front country” campgrounds with countless places for backcountry camping.
Ski and snowshoe here in the winter, enjoy hiking, biking, horseback riding, and fish for trout or take a kayak or canoe out on Yellowstone Lake. There’s always something to get into in this gorgeous park!
14. Dallas, Texas
Don your cowboy hat and boots to head to Dallas for some southern food, endless entertainment, and attractions. Dallas has it all: Sports, skyscrapers, museums, thriving culinary and arts scenes, and a love for good times that makes it one of the best places to visit in the United States.
Everything’s bigger in Texas, and for Dallas, that applies. The 561-foot Reunion Tower and observation deck gives you amazing views of the whole city and Trinity River. You can go to a Dallas Cowboys, Mavericks, or Stars game if you’re a sports lover!
Barbecue is a must in this part of the South, and you’ll have plenty of chances to sample local favorites like smoked brisket and burnt ends, pulled pork sandwiches, and smoky chicken wings with heaps of starchy and cheesy sides.
History buffs should see the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza to learn about President John F. Kennedy’s life and legacy, while the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens make for a nice stroll on a sunny day.
There’s a great aquarium (Dallas World Aquarium), the Dallas Museum of Art downtown and picnic at Klyde Warren Park. Take a ride on old McKinney Avenue street cars to get around the city easily and in style.
15. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
In the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, you’ll be able to experience landmarks and places that tell the stories of America’s history along with modern restaurants, artistic public sculptures and museums, and — yes — those classic Philly cheesesteaks.
As the biggest city in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia has a vibrant energy and life-force that’s palpable. You’ll enjoy a walking tour of the city’s most important historic spots and museums, but even self-guided strolls are engaging.
Start with Independence National Historical Park, where you’ll be able to enter Independence Hall and walk in the place where the United States Constitution and Declaration of Independence were debated, drafted, and signed. The Liberty Bell is here and perfect for a photo op!
Down at JFK Plaza, known as LOVE Park, you’ll admire and pose with the LOVE sculpture, see street performers, eat a picnic, or carry on along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to reach museums and galleries nearby.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Franklin Institute, and Philadelphia Zoo can each take up a day of your trip, giving you time to browse historic and contemporary works of art, science exhibits, and animals and marine life that amaze and delight.
Reading Terminal Market, one of the oldest markets in the country, makes a great weekend stop for produce, treats, and cheeses. Stop to check out Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens to see incredible, huge mosaics on South Street before you leave.
16. Nashville, Tennessee
Get ready to honky tonk it up in downtown Nashville, Tennessee — Music City USA and the nation’s country music hub. Delicious Southern fare, famous bars and lounges, and countless music venues make it so much fun to visit.
People come to Nashville to cut loose (and maybe try some boot scootin’ boogie) and listen to live music at iconic spots like the Wild Horse Saloon, Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, and Whiskey Bent Saloon.
Learn a thing or two by visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame to see exhibits from some of the most famous country stars. You’ve got to see a show at the Ryman Auditorium, which now hosts the Grand Ole Opry.
It’s all cowboy boots and hats along Honky Tonk Highway on Lower Broadway, where you’ll hear famous musicians and amateur karaoke performers crooning country tunes all night long.
But there’s a more cultured side to Nashvegas, too. Art galleries and museums, like the constantly-growing collection and new exhibits at the Frist Art Museum, Zeitgeist Gallery, and David Lusk Gallery, are big in Nashville.
You can see a complete replica of the Greek Parthenon (and a gilded statue of Athena) in Centennial Park, which is a nice green space with walking paths and volleyball courts in West End.
Stick around for some great food, like classic Southern fried chicken and Nashville hot chicken at Prince’s or Hattie B’s. You’ll find trendy eateries around neighborhoods like The Gulch, Midtown, and East Nashville.
17. Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe is the heart of the Southwest and one of the best places to visit in the United States. With a rich, traditional feel from blended Spanish, Mexican, Native American, and European cultures, you’ll find great food, cool architecture, and lots to do here.
There’s some truly amazing architecture and monuments around Santa Fe that show its impressive age (it was founded in 1610). From cathedrals to stone obelisk monuments and adobe structures built by the first European and Spanish settlers.
You’ll want to visit the Santa Fe Plaza downtown where you’ll see the oldest church in the U.S. (The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi), the adobe Palace of the Governors, and a cool traditional hacienda-turned-restaurant, La Casa Sena.
Art is important around Santa Fe, which has more art galleries than any city except NYC and L.A. Visit the Georgia O’Keefe Museum and tour a chain of galleries along Canyon Road and the Railyard District.
The food here is something to write home about, featuring a spicy kick with green and red chiles in many cases. Traditional green chile stew, the ubiquitous Frito pie, warm posole, and tamales are must-haves during your trip.
Things to Consider
Even with a complete list of the best places to visit in the United States, you’re no closer to settling on the perfect destinations for your itinerary without taking a few important things into consideration first.
- Mind your budget. There are some crazy-affordable places to go in the U.S. and there are some extravagantly expensive spots, too. Think about your total trip budget and look up average prices for hotels, flights, rental cars, meals, and attractions in the cities you’re interested in visiting to find one that’s a fit for your wallet.
- Think about your trip dates. Some places in the United States are best visited in a specific season, like the Outer Banks or Las Vegas (where you’ll enjoy spring and fall the most). With your planned travel dates in mind, research the best time to visit the top spots on your list to make sure it’s not overlapping with the most expensive, busiest, hottest, or rainiest part of the year!
- Consider your goals and likes. What do you like to do when you travel? You might love browsing museums, galleries, and seeing plays or hitting up food trucks, funky bars, and independent shops. Your travel goals will help you zero in on a U.S. destination that offers what you’re looking for.
- Plan for your crew. Who’s coming with you on your upcoming trip? If you’re bringing kids along, you might find that some spots are better than others. Keeping your travel crew’s goals and likes in mind for the trip will help you pad out your plans with stops and attractions that will keep everyone engaged and happy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that you’re familiar with 17 of the best places to visit in the United States, take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions from fellow travelers to learn more!
What is the best state to go to in winter?
To enjoy winter sports and snow, head into Wyoming's Yellowstone National Park (mind the road closures) for skiing and snowshoeing. You'll appreciate snowy scenes in the city in places like New York City and Chicago, Illinois during winter.
Colorado, Montana, Alaska, and Idaho are other great states to visit during the winter months to soak up the snow and ice with plenty of chances to try winter sports.
Where is the best warm place in USA in winter?
If you're looking to escape the chill, the best warm place in the USA in winter is between Honolulu, Hawaii and Orlando, Florida and its nearby beaches (Cocoa Beach and Daytona). Both offer warm temperatures and chances to swim, play, explore, and more.
We like these destinations in the US for their tropical and subtropical climates that make it easy to enjoy sunny, warm days in the heart of winter.
What states are pretty in the winter?
Lots of states in the U.S. are pretty in the winter, but areas that get the most snow to transform the landscape into a winter wonderland are Alaska, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, New York, and Colorado.
The prettiest states in winter tend to be in the north, northeast, and at high altitudes in the United States since these are the snowiest areas.
What is the #1 tourist spot in the US?
Most people think New York City is the #1 tourist spot in the US, but that honor actually goes to Orlando, Florida! With over 74 million tourists each year compared to NYC's 61 million or so each year.
People come to Orlando in droves to visit the numerous theme and amusement parks here, like Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando.
Where is the prettiest place to visit in the US?
It's hard to list all the prettiest places to visit in the US, but there's no doubt that Hawaii (especially Oahu, Maui, and Kauai) is one of the top choices. Honolulu, Hawaii is one of the prettiest places with waterfalls, volcanic craters, lush vegetation, and clear water.
But Florida's beaches are gorgeous, the Outer Banks of North Carolina are a bit less developed, and you'll find amazing scenery up in the mountains and high deserts in the midwest and western U.S.
So, What Are the Best Places to Visit in the United States?
When you try to consider the United States as a whole, pinpointing the best places to visit seems really tough — there’s just so much out there! But with this solid list of 17 amazing spots to see the different regions, cities, and national parks the U.S. has to offer, your choice becomes much easier.
Maybe you’re up for a big city trip to NYC or San Francisco with trendy restaurants, great shopping, and busy streets. You might be looking for a wilder getaway to Yellowstone or Moab where camping, hiking, and biking is on the menu.
Or perhaps an in-between visit is in order to one of the midsize, slower-paced cities packed with personality, like New Orleans or Savannah.
Whatever you’re hoping to do and see in this vast and diverse nation, hitting up one of the best places to visit in the United States is sure to be a memorable experience!