With many US states easing lockdown restrictions, we can start to look internally and plan our next vacation within our own borders. To be fair, while we’d love to show you travel inspiration from Italy or Spain right now, the United States is one of the most beautifully diverse countries in the world, so there are worse places to be stuck in right now… So, let’s take a look at 20 of the best places to visit in USA this year.
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How to pick the best national park for you
1. The Grand Canyon
One of the world’s natural wonders, The Grand Canyon is a large, deep river valley in Northwest Arizona that dates back to approximately 5-6 million years ago.
This place is worth a visit not just because of its natural beauty, but also because of the many activities you can enjoy: lots of hiking opportunities, rafting, helicopter rides for a chance to see the canyon in all its glory, or maybe taking a bicycle ride on the South Rim.
COVID-19 update: Due to the current pandemic, a few restrictions and regulations have been put in place, which can be viewed on their official website.
2. Yosemite National Park
Residing in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, the Yosemite National Park is a popular tourist attraction due to its natural diversity, encompassing deep valleys, waterfalls, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, all there to be explored and enjoyed.
COVID-19 update: While the Yosemite National Park is typically open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, due to COVID-19 there are now a few restrictions in place.
On June 11 2020, the park reopened all its primary attractions, however if you are driving a vehicle, you will need one of the following:
- Day-use reservation
- Upper Pines Campground or Wawona Horse Camp reservation
- Yosemite Valley Lodge, Curry Village, or The Ahwahnee reservation
- Private lodging or vacation rental reservation in Wawona, Yosemite West, or Foresta
- Yosemite wilderness permit
- Yosemite Half Dome permit
- Commercial use authorization
For more up to date information, be sure to check out the Yosemite site.
3. New York City
Even if you’re a US resident, the attraction of The Big Apple is strong enough to make you pack a suitcase in the spur of a moment and book the first flight there. With early Gothic revival skyscrapers, cabaret shows, top of the notch cuisine, and more landmarks than you can fathom, this city is bound to impress even the most skeptical of travelers, which is what makes NYC one of the best places to visit in USA, EVER. If you need more inspiration, check out our helpful guide on how to spend 24 hours in New York.
4. Zion National Park
Zion National Park is one of Utah’s most popular attractions and for good reason. Its steep red cliffs and the Virgin River all contribute to a breathtaking view, but there are also a large number of activities that visitors can try here, such as:
- Horseback riding
If you’re planning a walk through its forest trails, we recommend scheduling your visit between the months of May and November, when the weather is more enjoyable and the park’s free shuttles are active.
COVID-19 update: Due to COVID-19, a few additional measures have been put in place in order to make sure that social distancing is observed. The full list of measures can be found here.
5. Washington, DC
Truth be told, you can’t really say you’re an American if you haven’t visited the White House at least once in your life, so if you haven’t ticked this off your bucket list yet, it’s time to put this on your radar.
Nevertheless, there’s more to Washington, DC than just the White House. If you’re looking for the ultimate American vacation, check out the United States Capitol, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, and the Tidal Basin. Wrap it all up with a city neighborhood tour and then catch a show at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
They say it always rains in Seattle (at least it did in the ‘93 Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks movie), but that shouldn’t deter you from visiting this spectacular, modernesque city.
Nested in the Pacific Northwest US, Seattle is surrounded by water and mountains, so it’s got plenty to offer in terms of hiking. On the other hand, its culture scene is incredibly vibrant, making way for countless museums, landmarks and neighborhoods to explore.
7. Las Vegas
Ah, we’ve finally arrived in Sin City! This exuberant area is the gambling capital of the world and home to pretty much any vice you could think of. But it’s not just cheap thrills that drive millions of tourists here each year.
The impressive buildings and museums are all part of what makes this city so great. Some of its main points of attraction are:
- The Mob Museum
- Nevada Supreme Court
- The Fashion Show Mall
- The Neon Museum
Extra: If you’re looking to make a culinary journey through Las Vegas, check out our guide on the 10 best Las Vegas buffets.
8. Los Angeles
Los Angeles is probably best associated with Hollywood and its glamorous artistic lifestyle, but it’s also home to incredible beaches, a thriving culinary scene, vibrant nightlife and many tourist attractions. Our top recommendations are:
- The Griffith Observatory
- Battleship Iowa Museum
- Los Angeles County Museum of Art
- The Nethercutt Collection (of antique, vintage, and classic cars)
9. Austin, Texas
Austin is the state capital of Texas and has a breadth of things to do and sights to explore at any given time, that’s what makes it one of the best places to travel in the US. It’s got world-class museums (Blanton Museum of Art and Bullock Texas State History Museum just to name a few), diverse entertainment districts, where you’ll find anything from shops, restaurants and music venues, as well as a vibrant local food scene.
10. Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is a 1,583-sq.-mi. wilderness area located in northwestern Montana and it’s actually one of those rare places from which you can actually see the aurora borealis (or the northern lights).
There are so many great activities that you can do in this area, but our favorites would be hiking the Trail of the Cedars, checking out Lake McDonald or visiting Many Glacier.
COVID-19 update: Starting from June 8th, the park started allowing visitors again on a limited basis. At the moment, the west side of the park is mostly open, however the east side starting from the Continental Divide to the park boundary is closed to all access. You can find the official guidance on this page.
11. New Orleans
New Orleans, this melting pot of African, French and American cultures, has got to be one of the most musical cities in the world. Its late-winter carnival Mardi Gras embodies this essence to perfection, however it’s not just the music and the party scene that are so attractive.
The city in itself is a joy to discover through its cosy neighborhoods and the myriad of sights to explore at any given time, making it one of the best places to visit in the US. Top recommendations:
- Check out Bourbon Street – the heart of the French Quarter
- Drop by Jackson Square, to see artists paint, draw and sell their work
- Visit the National WWII Museum
12. San Francisco
Widely known as the cultural, commercial and financial center of Northern California, San Francisco has also gained popularity through its great shopping districts, antique cable cars, Alcatraz, the Golden Bridge, as well as Fisherman’s Wharf.
If you don’t know where to start, check out our guide on how to spend 48 hours in San Francisco.
Known for its river canyons and snow-covered Rocky Mountains, Colorado is definitely one of those states that will win your heart from the get-go. Its unique mix of landscapes, historic monuments and downtown culture scene are the reasons why millions of tourists flock here every year. Top recommendations:
- If you’re looking for a bit of an adventure, we recommend exploring the Rocky Mountain National Park, which has numerous hiking trails and allows for hiking, biking, horseback riding and many more activities
- Mesa Verde National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the greatest archeological sites in the United States
- The Colorado Trail, which spans over 500 miles of the state of Colorado.
Nicknamed ‘The Capital of Latin America’, Miami is one of the most beloved cities in the US, boasting a pristine coastline, some of the best cuban dishes outside of Havana and an overall party experience like nowhere else, which is what makes this destination one of the best places to visit in USA. It’s also got some pretty cool Insta-friendly spots.
15. Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe is a large freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and one of the favorite swimming spots of many Americans.There are many different parts of Lake Tahoe that can be explored if you want to go for a nice swim, but the best beach in the Tahoe area is probably Sand Harbor, also great for snorkeling afficionados.
From hiking trails to historic landmarks and art galleries, Sedona boasts an impressive range of attractions for any type of demographic. Our top tips:
- Explore the Devil’s Bridge Trail
- Check out the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Palatki
- Go on a balloon expedition
17. Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
This massive sculpture carved into Mount Rushmore depicts the faces of four US presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln and it’s one of South Dakota’s main tourist attractions.
COVID-19 update: At the moment, there is a phased reopening of the park. The Nature Trail is open for visitors, however the Presidential Trail is closed, due to reopen on July 8th. For more up to date information, follow this page.
Boston is not only one of the most instagrammable places in the world, but also a city that is rich with American history, good food and an overall good learning experience.
If you’re a history buff, you’ll want to take a walk along the Freedom Trail and discover the 16 historic sites that relate to the Revolutionary War. Check out a Boston Red Sox game and then make a stop at one of the local bakeries for some chocolate macaroons and your day will be complete.
19. Monument Valley
This majestic valley impresses not just by its beauty, but also by its size. It’s got 91,696 acres over Utah & Arizona and it’s where many Hollywood movies were shot. Certain parts of it are only accessible through a guided tour (such as Mystery Valley and Hunts Mesa), but there is also a 17-mile dirt road where visitors can drive through after paying an access fee.
COVID-19 update: Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park and Four Corners are currently closed until further notice. Keep up to date with all the latest information by following this page.
20. Yellowstone National Park
No self-respecting list of the best places to visit in the US would leave out Yellowstone National Park. This large wilderness recreation area sitting atop a volcanic hot spot draws in millions of tourists each year, due to its dramatic canyons, vast forests, alpine rivers and countless animal species.
COVID-19 update: According to the official website, the Montana entrances to the park opened on June 1st. There have also been significant mitigation efforts to make sure there is no risk of infection and that social distancing is observed.