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10 Unforgettable US Vacations for 2024: Plan Your Perfect Getaway!

10 Unforgettable US Vacations for 2024: Plan Your Perfect Getaway!

If you want to see the world, start with the US. You can take your pick of tropical beaches, majestic mountains, incredible national parks, historic cities, and charming coastal towns that invite you to experience life at a slower pace. 

With diverse natural beauty across varying landscapes and thriving metropolitan areas packed with things to do and see, you can throw a dart at a map of the US and know you’ll land somewhere incredible. 

But if you’re looking for the best US vacations, a few places stand apart as the top destinations to visit in the nation. We’ll explore the best places to take a vacation in the US next! 

The 10 Best US Vacations You Can Take in 2024

The best US vacations will take you to cities, coasts, mountain ranges, and national parks across this expansive and diverse nation. Each one of these popular destinations holds something unique and memorable that make them perfect for a vacation.

Whether you’re traveling solo, with a partner or friend, or with the whole fam in tow, you’ll find that the United States is home to some truly remarkable places for a getaway.  Here’s a close-up look at the best places to vacation in the US. 

1. Maui, HI

View of Kahana Beach, Maui with red flowers in the foreground on a clear day to show Maui as one of the best US vacations

tomas del amo/Shutterstock

Head to Maui, the Valley Isle, where adventure is always on the itinerary and gorgeous scenery is guaranteed. If you enjoy spending time outdoors, visiting Maui will be like opening a tropical treasure chest.

Take in stunning views of the island from the volcanic Haleakalā National Park, visit the Maui Ocean Center aquarium, and marvel at the natural arches and lava tunnels at Wai’anapanapa State Park.

You can hike along Pipiwai Trail and Waihee Ridge Trail or drive the famous Road to Hana for an unforgettable road trip. Wind surf, snorkel, or swim at Ka’anapali Beach, Wailea Beach, and Napili Beach.

Along the way, you might go horseback riding down the beach or through the rainforest, visit sacred ancient sites, take a helicopter or ATV tour, and dine at restaurants from locally-run cafes off the beaten path to oceanfront fine-dining establishments.

A visit to Maui isn’t complete without a luau, where you can feast on Hawaiian fare as you watch traditional Hawaiian and Polynesian cultural dances, dangerous feats, and storytelling under the stars. 

An adventure-packed trip to Maui is one of the best US vacations you can take! With so many things to do in Maui, you’ll find options for everyone on your trip.

Plan on visiting between May and August, the best time to visit Maui, for great weather and plenty of activity options. 

2. New York City, NY

New York City view of Manhattan's Central Park in fall overlooking a lake on a nice day to show NYC as one of the best US vacations you can take

Songquan Deng/Shutterstock

New York City – the Big Apple, the city that never sleeps, the city so nice they named it twice – is an iconic US destination that every traveler should experience at least once.

This bustling city encompasses so much, from beloved landmarks, monuments, towering skyscrapers, incredible shopping and dining, to the lively energy that thumps like a heartbeat through all its boroughs. 

As the most populous city in the US, NYC feels exciting and vibrant from the moment you arrive. Plan on visiting the most iconic attractions, from the Empire State Building to the Statue of Liberty, while you’re here. 

Spend an afternoon strolling through the sudden green oasis of Central Park in Manhattan. Haggle with sellers and chow your way through lively Chinatown or peruse the luxury retail shops on Fifth Avenue. 

You have to check out Times Square – the real heart of New York City packed with people, hypnotizing lights and sounds, and the famous Broadway Theater District. 

Plan to visit New York City during the fall, from September to November, for the best trip with cool weather and smaller crowds.

3. Orlando, FL

Universal Studios entrance to Islands of Adventure with a lighthouse and roller coasters on a nice day during the summer as one of the best US spots for a vacation

Universal Studios city walk entrance to Islands of Adventure in April ’17/Mia2you/Shutterstock

If you’re bringing the whole family along, sunny Orlando, Florida is one of the best US vacations to consider.

Home to a staggering number of famous theme parks and convenient to nearby beaches, Orlando is the perfect destination to pack as much fun and sun into your itinerary as possible. 

While Disney World (4 theme parks and 2 water parks) might be the first to come to mind, Orlando is also home to Legoland, SeaWorld, and Universal Orlando. 

You can tailor your visit to the parks that appeal to your crew the most, ensuring an action-packed vacation that will have everyone ready to set out early in the morning to enjoy rides, tasty food, and fun with favorite characters all day long. 

You might head to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Universal), the enchanting Magic Kingdom (Disney), or nonstop thrills on waterslides and water coasters at Typhoon Lagoon (Disney) or Volcano Bay (Universal). 

At SeaWorld, your family can experience amazing animal encounters with dolphins, whales, sharks, otters, and sea lions. Then enjoy incredible coasters, vertical drops, and whitewater rides that make the trip memorable!

Daytona Beach, Vero Beach, and Cocoa Beach are all within an hour or two of Orlando if you’re itching for a beach day.

Plan your Orlando trip between March and May for the best weather, smaller crowds, and good prices that make your beach vacation that much more enjoyable.

4. Washington DC

Washington Monument and Thomas Jefferson Memorial reflecting in water on a cloudy day to indicate DC as one of the best US vacations you can plan

ESB Professional/Shutterstock

If you want to get a close-up look at our nation’s history with great dining and shopping opportunities along the way, a visit to Washington DC is one of the best US vacations to consider. 

History buffs will appreciate the preservation of the United States’ past in museums like the Smithsonian Institution (home to 21 museums and the National Zoo), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Walk by the president’s residence at the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue, tour the nation’s Capitol, Supreme Court, and Library of Congress, and explore the National Archives to lay eyes on the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights.

From the Lincoln Memorial and Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial to the Washington Monument and war memorials honoring veterans who gave their lives for freedom, the National Mall will be an impactful part of your visit to DC.

Once you’ve seen some of the incredible memorials and monuments marking important chapters of US history, head downtown to nosh on local favorites (half-smoke hotdogs are a must) and do some shopping.

While spring and summer can be excellent, fall is the best time to visit Washington DC and offers cooler temperatures that make sightseeing a little more enjoyable. 

5. Denali National Park, AK

A trip to Denali National Park in Alaska is one of the best US vacations, with mountain views and wilderness shown at sunset

Nathaniel gonzales/Shutterstock

Denali National Park in the interior of Alaska makes for an excellent vacation when you want to do something a little different. It’s one of the best places to visit in Alaska overall and offers thrills and great scenery for nature lovers. 

This national park and reserve spans over 6 million acres of forest, tundra, taiga, rivers, glaciers, and snow-capped mountains. The scenic views are a major draw, but that’s only the beginning of what Denali National Park has to offer.

Fill your days in the park with cross-country skiing, dog sledding, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing across the rugged country. Warm up with a hot beverage in front of a cozy fireplace in your rustic lodge at night. 

You’ll snap tons of photos in this breathtaking wilderness and might see bears, wolves, foxes, moose, elk, caribou, and sheep wandering through the park. 

Getting out and enjoying the scenery is a great way to spend your vacation with hikes, ranger-led tours, and backcountry camping if you’re up for it!

The most dedicated adventurers might consider the grueling trek up Mount McKinley, the tallest mountain in the US, to reach the Denali peak at 20,320 feet. 

Admire the views across Horseshoe Lake and Wonder Lake in the park. Spend time learning about the vast dog sledding history at the Husky Homestead within the park, where you can meet puppies in training for the famous Iditarod race. 

A restaurant (The Morino Grill) is located inside the park, but several other options are nearby at campgrounds, convenience stores near the entrance, and the Denali Bus Depot.

June through September is indisputably the best time to visit Denali National Park and it’s when you’ll enjoy the most pleasant weather with active wildlife. 

6. Grand Canyon National Park, AZ

The Colorado River winds through the red rocks of Grand Canyon in the national park, listed as one of the top places for a US vacation

Beth Ruggiero-York/Shutterstock

Everyone’s seen pictures of the stunning Grand Canyon in Arizona, but if you haven’t visited this massive land feature yourself, it will take your breath away. No wonder it’s one of the best US vacations you can take! 

Miles and miles of desert sands dotted with cacti and towering rock forms open up into the cavernous red-rock rift a mile deep and 18 miles wide we know as the Grand Canyon in Arizona. 

Visiting the Grand Canyon National Park might sound a bit dull – after all, once you’ve seen the canyon, what else is there to do? – but you’ll find that this park is the perfect place to spend a vacation.

Spend a day hiking around the different areas of the park, ride the Grand Canyon Railway train into nearby Williams, AZ, or take a helicopter tour to see it all from above.

Mule rides down into the heart of the canyon are very much a thing – you’ve got to try it – and make it easy to experience the vastness and great views without the grueling hike.

You can raft the Colorado River, camp out or choose comfy lodging, and take in so many scenic views, you’ll feel changed by the experience. 

Grab a bite at a food truck, one of the restaurants in the park, or at the Canyon Village Market and General Store. Coffee shops and taverns are also convenient to fuel up or wind down! 

Head down between April and June – this is the best time to visit the Grand Canyon overall. If you plan on camping, September through November may be a little more comfortable. 

7. Santa Barbara, CA

Santa Barbara's Butterfly Beach on Channel Drive shown on a clear, sunny day to show one of the best US vacation spots to visit on the Pacific Coast

David M. Schrader/Shutterstock

Santa Barbara, California makes for a great vacation spot in the US when you’re looking for easy-going vibes, lots of warm sunshine, and a fresh ocean breeze. Santa Barbara is on the central California coast and is well-known for its roomy, wide beaches that never seem to feel crowded.

Dining and drinks are always special in the city, with a burgeoning wine industry here and tons (450+) of casual, fine dining, and cafe-style restaurants to check out offering seafood, tacos, fusion cuisine, and international dishes. 

The downtown area is gorgeous with white stucco buildings capped with terracotta-tile roofs that look distinctively Spanish in style. Head to East Beach – the best beach around – for amazing sunsets and activities from lazing in a beach chair to beach volleyball and bike rides along the shore.

Visit a local winery or shop around the unique boutiques and high-end shops on State Street. Spend time wandering through the Santa Barbara Museum of Art or MOXI, the Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation.

You’ll want to take in the beautiful gardens and Spanish Colonial architecture at Casa del Herrero just outside the city.

Here, you’ll be able to wander the historic house and museum filled with art, books, and intricate tile work. Late April to mid-June is the best time to visit Santa Barbara for warm weather and smaller crowds and there are tons of great places to stay convenient to downtown and beaches. 

8. Yellowstone National Park, WY

Yellowstone National Park's Grand Prismatic Spring shown from above on a sunny day in the park, listed as one of the best vacation spots in the US


Adventurers, nature lovers, and challenge-seekers will appreciate a vacation spent at Yellowstone National Park. World-famous for its gushing geysers and hiking trails with incredible views, this is a park worth visiting. 

Most people come to Yellowstone to see Old Faithful go off like clockwork every 1-2 hours, spouting boiling-hot water up over 180 feet in an awe-inspiring display. 

Yellowstone is most famous for Old Faithful, but there are over 500 geysers in the park (about half of all the world’s geysers). More than 10,000 hydrothermal features can be found within its bounds! 

Hiking the park’s trails will lead you to these amazing water features and geysers along with access to some truly stunning views. You’ll pass by more than 300 cascading waterfalls along the way. 

Wildlife abounds here, with species like grizzly bears, wolves, elk, and the well-known bison that confidently take up the roadways and wander peacefully throughout the park. 

If you’re not lucky enough to spot these animals by chance, you can see them at the park’s Discovery Center (kids love it, too). Come here to camp in the backcountry or stay at a lodge or cabin if you’re not into roughing it. 

Mid-June to mid-September seems to be the best time to visit Yellowstone, especially if you’ll be camping. Make reservations early because this season is the most popular for a visit! 

9. Denver, CO

Denver, CO City Park in downtown with a fountain and skyline seen with the Rocky Mountains in the background to show one of the best US vacations to take

Andrew Zarivny/Shutterstock

Denver, Colorado sits at the base of the majestic Rocky Mountains and is the capital of Colorado. Known as the Mile High City, Denver makes an excellent place for a US vacation. 

This metropolitan city has it all – great views of the Rockies, tons of dining and drinks options, a wide variety of places to shop and explore, and a thriving local culture. 

Head to the heart of downtown at Denver Union Station (“Denver’s living room”), where you’ll find restaurants, bars, shops, and historic sites and hotels all within walking or biking distance. 

Shopping along Antique Row, Larimer Square, and Cherry Creek is filled with unique and upscale finds that make shopping trips feel a bit like a treasure hunt. 

Denver’s museums and art galleries are excellent places to spend a rainy day and learn something about the city’s culture and art scene. There are so many things to do in Denver – with or without the aid of legal cannabis. 

If you’re more of an outdoors type, Denver is perfect. Take your pick from any of the great ski resorts near Denver if you’ll be visiting during the colder parts of the year (October-April). 

Take in the scenery of the Mile High City and the Rocky Mountains by hiking in Denver along some of the best trails that open up to stunning views. March through May and June through August are the best time to visit Denver overall, but rest assured that you can enjoy this city anytime of the year. 

10. Cape Cod, MA

Cape Cod Race Point Lighthouse seen on a cloudy day with sand around it to indicate Cape Cod, MA as one of the best vacation spots in the US

Luis Enrique Torres/Shutterstock

Experience the best of New England with a Cape Cod vacation filled with time on the shore, great seafood, towering lighthouses, charming shops and cafes, and nonstop fun on the water. 

Cape Cod is a classic New England town on the coast of Massachusetts and it’s the perfect spot to spend a summer or fall vacation. Take guided lighthouse tours to learn about the history, spot whales and dolphins offshore, and stroll through town to check out cute shops and boutiques offering local goods with nautical vibes.

Cape Cod seafood should be high on your list of things to do and enjoy while you’re here. From lobster rolls and steamers (soft-shell clams) to clam chowder and scallops, the grub is insane on the Cape. 

It’s hard to imagine a better way to experience the vibe and serenity of Cape Cod than biking around the city on a nice day. Try sailing, kayaking, windsurfing, or waterskiing to enjoy the coast! 

There are lots of top-rated places to stay in Cape Cod, so take your pick from hotels, family-owned historic inns, Airbnbs, and boutique hotels offering special luxurious touches. 

If you can, come between April and June or September and October. Each of these periods will be the best time to visit without the huge crowds of summer and pleasant temperatures. 

Things to Consider

Waterfall in a bamboo forest on the Road to Hana in Maui, Hawaii, listed as one of the best US vacations to consider


When you’re planning on taking one of the best US vacations, there are tons of things going through your mind and landing on your to-do list. Here are a few things to keep in mind while you plan! 

  • Research the best time to visit. The time of year you visit a place will greatly affect the quality of your stay and what activities are available while you’re there. We’ve included general guidelines on the best time to visit for each of the best US vacation spots on the  list. Click the links for each destination above to see details on the best, cheapest, least busy, and worst time to visit each place! 
  • Figure out how you’ll get there. Some places are easy to get to – a quick road trip or plane ride is all it takes. For others, like Denali National Park in Alaska, you’ll have to take a plane ride followed by a train or bus ride to get into the park. Some places, like the Grand Canyon National Park and Yellowstone National Park, have multiple entrances that may be more or less convenient for your trip. It pays to do your research ahead of time! 
  • Consider camping. If you’ll be visiting one of the great national parks or heading to a beach, consider camping as a way to feel more connected to the place and save money on your trip. While it might be comfier to stay in a lodge, boutique hotel, or cabin, you may find that camping out is the most rewarding way to experience a new place and make memories. 
  • Always explore. No matter if you’re heading to a bustling metropolis, peaceful beach town, or expansive national park, one tip will always lead you to the neatest finds, views, and discoveries: Get off the beaten path and explore. Take a less-worn hiking trail, try a quiet restaurant on a side street, ask locals for great fishing or beach spots, and make your way out of the tourist areas to experience the true heart of a destination.
  • Mind the climate. While all the places on this list are US destinations, the climate and temperature ranges vary wildly. You’ll be packing much differently when you’re heading for Maui compared to New York City or Alaska! Look up the average temperature ranges and precipitation averages for the time of year you’ll be heading to a new place to ensure you’re packing properly and can stay comfortable. 

Frequently Asked Questions

View of Times Square in NYC at night with LED advertisements lighting up the roads as visitors walk around for a piece showing the 10 best US vacations you can take

Times Square, New York City in the evening January ’14/MACH Photos/Shutterstock

Domestic travel is always easier when you have a good idea of what to expect. Learn more about planning the best US vacations by taking a look at the FAQs below! 

What is the number 1 destination in the US?

New York City is ranked as the number 1 destination in the US by travelers. Over 10 million people visit NYC each year, more than any other city in the United States!

Maui doesn’t get as many visitors as New York City (around 3 million/year), but it’s regularly ranked as the number 1 vacation spot in the US. People enjoy the tropical scenery, beaches, Hawaiian culture, and laid-back vibes of Maui.

What is the best state to go on vacation?

Hawaii, California, Florida, Alaska, and Colorado are considered the best states in the US for a vacation. Each of these states has a major draw, like sandy beaches, rugged mountains, or amazing scenic views with abundant wildlife.

Consider your goals for the trip to determine what the best state to go on vacation will be for you. If you love warm sunshine, Hawaii, Florida, or California may be ideal. For great scenery and outdoor adventures, Hawaii, Florida, Alaska, or Colorado are perfect.

City exploration with lots of dining, shopping, and drinking is great in more metropolitan areas like New York City, Denver, and Washington DC.

What is the cheapest place to visit in the USA?

Nebraska and Minnesota boast the cheapest hotel rates in the USA, according to GOBankingRates. These are the cheapest places to visit in the country.

Small towns within any state will offer cheaper hotel and dining options if you’re sticking to a tight budget outside of the cheapest states.

What is the most expensive vacation spot in the US?

New York City, New York is the most expensive vacation spot in the US due to the higher hotel rates in the city. It beats out San Francisco, Boston, and Washington with an average nightly rate around $450.

It’s possible to find much cheaper rates than this on hotels in NYC - you might also consider staying outside of the city and traveling in daily to save money.

What is the #1 city in the US according to Travel and Leisure?

Travel + Leisure readers recently named Charleston, SC as the #1 city in the US. It’s been on the list of the World’s Best Cities in the US for 10 years straight.

It’s the coastal views and fun on the water, the charming downtown with great food and drinks, and amazingly historic and eclectic Charleston boutique hotels that make it a go-to vacation spot.

So, Which of the Best US Vacations Appeals to You?

Tropical sunshine and sand, cool coastal vibes with seafood and lighthouses galore, vast wilderness with incredible mountain views, or a bustling metropolis with nonstop activities and shops to check out – what’s your flavor? 

The best US vacations are always the ones that suit your travel goals and offer activities that are on par with your preferences and abilities. 

Whether that’s lazy days on a beach, go-go-go vibes in a big city, rewarding hikes and camping trips, or laid-back time spent in a peaceful coastal town or nestled in the mountains, this list is packed with great options for your next trip. 

It’s possible to enjoy a trip with flavors and sights from around the world without leaving the bounds of the good ol’ US.

Pick a place on this list that matches your preferences and enjoy an unforgettable vacation that might become your new home away from home!