50 Best Vacation Spots & Places To Visit In The World

By: Author Jerric Chong

Posted on Published: June 24, 2019  - Last updated: October 17, 2023

Best Vacation Spots

There’s no shortage of amazing, awe-inspiring, fascinating locations to visit in this world that we live in.

With 195 countries to choose from, each with their own rich cultures and special attractions, it can be tricky to decide which one to take a trip to.

The secret lies in simply picking one, then working your way through them all!

Table of Contents

1. The Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Great Barrier Reef, Australia

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The Great Barrier Reef is one of the undisputed best vacation spots for anyone who wants the opportunity to glimpse one of the most incredible marvels of nature.

The reef spans across 2,300 kilometers and is so huge that it can actually be spotted from outer space!

Tourists will be able to enjoy the amazing sights of unique marine animals and plants, interacting with each other in perfect harmony.

You can dive or snorkel in the area to really get up close and personal with the local flora and fauna.

2. Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

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The Plitvice Lakes can be found on Croatia’s Adriatic Sea coast, just lingering on the border between Zadar and the nation’s capital, Zagreb.

These lakes consist of 16 bodies of water that are all joined together by a variety of cascading waterfalls and fascinating bridges, flanked by age-old emerald forests that hold wildlife aplenty: birds, wolves, bears, and more!

Enjoy walks in one of the top travel destinations in the country across a variety of paths, both natural and man-made, and explore the wide expanse between the lowest altitude lakes of 280 meters and the highest 1,000 meters above it.

You can even take a ferry to travel between them!

3. Taj Mahal, India

Taj Mahal, India

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The Taj Mahal is one of the most famous vacation spots in the world, and with good reason!

It’s one of the world’s Seven Wonders and it serves as a symbol of true, never-ending love.

This mausoleum is, contrary to popular belief, not a palace – but the final resting place of Mumtaz Mahal, built by her husband for her.

This architectural success is a prime example of the finest in Mughal architecture, with four completely identical sides over its 240-foot height.

Its appearance shifts ever so slightly throughout the day with the sunlight, and you can see its reflection ripple in its huge pool beneath.

Plus, stroll through the large garden outside for even more beautiful magnificence!

4. Victoria Falls, Zambia/Zimbabwe

Victoria Falls

Lukas Bischoff Photograph / Shutterstock

Few people consider these African nations as among the best countries to visit, but those people are missing out!

Victoria Falls is one of the earth’s largest waterfalls, reaching a majestic 355 feet in height and spanning across an entire mile.

Its rush of falling water is the biggest of its kind, with the shocking speed of 550,000 cubic meters per minute.

On top of that, Victoria Falls is among the world’s Seven Natural Wonders, and its mist that shrouds the area can be seen from 50 kilometers away, creating a rainbow!

It is also responsible for the constant, non-stop rainfall experienced by the rainforest around River Zambezi.

5. Grand Canyon National Park, USA

Grand Canyon National Park

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If you like traveling at all, the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona is one of the best places to visit.

It is rich in history thanks to its layered red rock bands that are a testament to millions upon millions of years of change and development in its geology.

There are countless spots that offer breathtaking views of the park.

Lipan Point is arguably the most popular, with its stunning vista of the Colorado River and the canyon all in one, but the Yavapai Observation Station and Mather Point, among others, are just as worthy of a visit.

6. Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Bora Bora, French Polynesia

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Bora Bora is an island paradise isolated from much of the world, in the middle of the South Pacific ocean.

It is one of the world’s most famous go-to honeymoon locations. It hosts a dormant volcano, which is encircled by thick, gorgeous green.

This is the perfect spot to just kick it back and relax. It’s romantic and close to nature, yet is extravagant in its elegance.

You’ll want for nothing in this heaven-like spot.

7. Petra, Jordan

Petra, Jordan

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Petra is an awe-inspiring archaeological site that holds so much history and breathtaking majesty that it is easily one of the best vacation spots in the world.

This ancient city hails from the 5th century BC and is a world heritage site that boasts countless amazing structures made from cut rock.

Petra houses temples, altars, tombs, and all manners of buildings, and its location between the Red and Dead Seas makes it all the more mysterious.

Beautifully decorated sights wait to be seen!

8. Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Japan

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove of Kyoto, Japan

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The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is among the best places to travel in the already attraction-packed nation of Japan.

Located along Kyoto’s outskirts, this grove is packed with countless bamboo trees, all growing to amazing heights that have to be seen to be believed.

Plus, this grove is a treat for all your senses.

Not only is it a gorgeous sight to see, but it has also been named among the top 100 Soundscapes of Japan by the country’s Ministry of Environment.

This means you can bask in the melancholic rustling of leaves and creaking of wood, alongside just seeing the endless mass of bamboo.

9. Stonehenge, England

Stonehenge, England

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Stonehenge is such a mysterious location, which is why it is one of the best places to visit in the world.

Heavy rocks sit in a semi-organized pile in the middle of a valley, balanced on each other.

It’s unknown who exactly put them there, what they were for, or even how they all were brought to that spot and arranged.

A guided tour will show you around the area, and you’ll be impressed with how much beauty such a simple-looking landmark can hold.

If you’re there at the right time, you can even watch as the sunset casts a bittersweet glow over the pillars.

10. Amalfi Coast, Italy

Amalfi Coast, Italy

Oleg Voronische / Shutterstock

Amalfi Coast is a fantastic getaway for everyone.

Whether you’re looking for some calm relaxation, you’re itching for some fresh seafood, or you desire something more adventurous, Amalfi Coast is one of the best vacation spots you can hope for.

13 towns along the cliffside provide hiking trails and a sense of warm civilization, while beaches provide the white expanses of sand perfect for a picturesque lounge.

Look over from a luxury hotel and marvel at the view – wide cliffs, green trees, and the deep blue sea.

11. Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

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Machu Picchu may have been famous for a long time, but it’s one of the more recently discovered old archaeological ruins, and it’s definitely one of the top best places to travel in the world.

These Incan ruins are full of mystery and intrigue, making them a stunner for historians and those who study them.

The ruins contain plenty of interesting spots, including the famed Temple of the Sun, and the view from the peak of these ruins is more than worth the trip all on its own.

You can also take a hike along the trails left behind to witness even more of the stunning Incan heritage on display.

12. Niagara Falls, Canada/USA

Beautiful Niagara Falls

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The Niagara Falls , positioned on the border between America and Canada, is a once-in-a-lifetime type of trip that you won’t regret.

There are two ranges, each located on either side of the border, and both are equally cool places to check out.

The Falls have a natural whirlpool along the base, and a boat ride is available for those who want to even more fully explore the waterways.

If you go in the evening, you’ll be treated to a spectacle of the rushing water illuminated in vibrant hues.

Planning a visit to Toronto? Be sure to check out our list of things to do in Toronto !

13. Cappadocia, Turkey

Hot air balloon flying over Cappadocia

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Cappadocia is likely one of the most intriguing vacation spots in the world.

This is because of its fascinating, unique, and borderline bizarre natural structures known as fairy chimneys.

These are geological formations made from rock, shaped in cones, that form in a variety of sizes as volcanic ash solidifies.

On top of this interesting phenomenon, Cappadocia also hosts underground structures of all kinds that served as homes, stores, and cities all the way in the 4th century.

You can even spot some Byzantine art in monasteries.

14. Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

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You may feel like Neuschwanstein Castle looks familiar.

That’s because the famed Cinderella’s Castle building, located in Disney World, is heavily inspired by and modeled after this incredible, opulent palace.

This magnificent structure is built on top of a mountain, and its Bavarian construction is a wonder to behold.

It’s no wonder that it’s one of the top vacation spots in the country.

15. Marble Caves, Argentina/Chile

Marble Caves of Patagonia, Chile

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The Marble Caves are among the best places to visit if you are a fan of unreal sights that you can barely believe exist.

These caves are found on the border of Chile and Argentina, on the General Carrera Lake, and they are formed through tunnels and caverns that hold some of the most important and beautiful marble depositions the world has to offer.

You’ll be able to see the marble reflected in the vivid water beneath, changing in appearance with the tide and as the seasons turn.

There’s nothing quite like being there in person to witness the superb caves in motion.

16. Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland

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The Cliffs of Moher span 14 kilometers across County Clare, Ireland, and it’s a prime location for untamed, natural beauty.

They’re such an iconic location thanks to their roles in Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets and The Princess Bride, where they served as a fantastical location for the perfect scenes.

Whether you’re going for the novelty of visiting a famous movie set or to see the raw allure of the west coast of Ireland, you’re sure to find the Cliffs Moher to be one of the best places to vacation.

17. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia

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The Salar de Uyuni makes for an unusual trip, but it’s still one of the best vacations you might ever go on.

High up in the Andes mountains, this salt flat boasts a range of 4,086 square miles, which makes it the largest on the planet.

Standing on top of the sparkling salt that shines white in the sun, often providing a bright reflection that makes the expanse of land look like a giant mirror.

Plus, you can see all the strange and unique formations of rock there, and the islands around that sprout lots of cacti.

18. Blue Lagoon, Iceland

 Blue Lagoon geothermal spa

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If you’re a sucker for a good soak in a hot spring, the Blue Lagoon is one of the best places to travel.

It’s a one-of-a-kind geothermal spa that sits right in the middle of a rather intimidating lava field.

It might sound frightening, but when you see it, you’ll know why it’s such a great place to take a trip to.

It may be a man-made lagoon, but it is home to silent, still white waters, and a lava flow nearby leads to nice, warm water that makes for a wonderful treat for your body.

It’s full of minerals, silica, and other components that will enrich your body and even help some skin conditions.

19. Torres Del Paine National Park, Chile

Torres Del Paine National Park, Chile

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The Torres Del Paine National Park is located in the southernmost region of the Andes, and it is full of diverse natural sights to enjoy.

These sights range from wide rivers to emerald forests, from deep lakes to tall mountains, and from cobalt icebergs to golden pampas.

You can explore on foot with a good hike, or head to specific landmarks, such as the French Valley, the granite towers, or Los Cuernos, among others.

There’s so much to see and do, making this park one of the most fun places to go on vacation.

20. Socotra, Yemen

Socotra Island, Yemen

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Socotra is one of those unusual places that is more bizarre than normal, but that just makes it one of the best vacation spots for nature-lovers.

It is an archipelago that hosts countless towering dragon’s blood trees, which fan upwards like an umbrella or a giant, branch-filled mushroom.

There is a grand total of 825 rare species of flora on the island of Socotra, and a good third of them can only be seen in this small locale.

Once you’ve had your fill of oddities, you can head to the Shouab beach for some relaxation, too!

21. Okavango Delta, Botswana

Okavango Delta, Botswana

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The Okavango Delta is one of those travel destinations that have to be experienced at least once in a lifetime.

The river delta winds in and out of gorgeous greenery and spans a whopping 49 million acres.

On either side, you’ll be able to spot incredibly diverse wildlife, ranging from predators like cheetahs to herd mammals like elephants, zebras, rhinos, and buffalos.

The best time to visit is likely during Botswana’s winter, which is when the delta floods and leads to lower grasses and much more teeming wildlife.

22. The Colosseum, Rome

Colosseum in Rome, Italy

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The Colosseum is easily one of the world’s top travel destinations.

Known originally as the Flavian Amphitheatre, it originally served as an arena for entertainment through gladiator fights and other similar events.

Now, in modern times, actors continue to roam around the large structure, dressed in gladiator attire and ready for pictures.

Though some areas have become damaged over time, much of this glorious success in architecture remains standing strong, and there’s plenty of nooks and crannies to explore within.

23. Moraine Lake, Canada

Sunrise over Moraine Lake

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Moraine Lake is often referred to as the earth’s most stunning and picturesque lake.

It sits within the Banff National Park , where it is nestled in a valley between ten hill and mountain peaks.

The deep, bright turquoise waves gently lap across the rippling lake, and a mineral-rich content allows for a truly brilliant and vibrant hue.

Is that all you can do here? Of course not!

Head here to enjoy one of the best vacation spots in the world – over a hundred scenic hiking trails, countless lodges, and great canoeing opportunities await.

24. Avenue of the Baobabs, Madagascar

avenue of the baobabs in Madagascar

The Avenue of the Baobabs, like the name suggests, is home to incredible baobabs that reach up into the sky at 100-foot heights.

Each of these ancient trees appears surreal and almost alien-like in aesthetic as if they leaped right out of the pages of The Little Prince, where they are so whimsically featured.

The Avenue of the Baobabs sits on a rural island in Madagascar, which also hosts unique wildlife, including lemurs that stare at you with wide, big eyes, and some of the largest moth species on the planet.

You wouldn’t think Madagascar is one of the best countries to visit, but with unique traits like that, how can you resist?

25. Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Mount Kilimanjaro and clouds line at sunset

PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek / Shutterstock

Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest peak in all of Africa, and, amazingly, it isn’t connected to a mountain range of any kind.

It hits 19,000 feet in height and is surrounded by flat expanses, so it truly stands out and serves as a noticeable and breathtaking landmark.

This stratovolcano is among the best places to visit for mountain-climbing enthusiasts and nature-lovers alike.

Even if you’re new to mountain climbing and have never done so before, you can still scale this beauty – no technical skill is needed!

26. Raja Ampat Islands, Indonesia

Raja Ampat Islands, Indonesia

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The Raja Ampat Islands aren’t just a few specific places – they span 1,500 different small islands that take up 29,000 square miles of ocean, and each one is biodiverse and highly unique.

If you’re up for resplendent nature to feast your eyes on, these islands will be among the best vacations you’ll ever take.

Much of the land’s aesthetic is almost prehistoric, with palm trees growing out of cliffs, lava peaks surrounded and enrobed by delightful jungles, and misty canyons all ready to be explored.

27. Northern Lake Baikal, Russia

Northern Lake Baikal, Russia

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Northern Lake Baikal is an extremely large freshwater lake – the biggest on the planet!

If you visit when temperatures are at great lows, you’ll be in for an aesthetically pleasing treat.

Ice sheets form over the top of the water, glowing turquoise and seafoam in the light.

This lake is truly splendid in all its beauty, and it’s really not a surprise that it’s among the best vacation spots in the world.

If you like lakes and can’t resist some ethereal beauty, this is the place for you!

28. Reed Flute Caves, China

Reed Flute Caves in Guilin ,China

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China’s Reed Flute Caves are among the nation’s best places to travel.

The cave system runs for about 240 meters and it has been open for public viewing for more than a thousand years!

As such, it’s rich in history, intrigue, and fascination.

In modern times, pillars and other cave formations are highlighted by the installation and use of bright colorful lights, which fill the caves with exquisite beauty.

It’s the perfect meshing of worlds between the old and the new, and it’s sure to be a trip you won’t forget!

29. Geiranger Fjord, Norway

Geiranger Fjord, Norway

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We already know that Norway is easily in the top best places to visit in the world if you want to see grand, dazzling fjords of all kinds.

But of all those hundreds of fjords to visit, Geiranger Fjord is probably the most incredible.

It spans 15 kilometers in length and its coasts are completely inhabitable.

The fjord can be visited by ferry, through kayaking, or by passing through Trollstigen road.

Each option will reward you with a fantastic view of waterfalls and verticals mountains on all sides, leading up to steep cliffs that beg to be climbed on and ziplined off of.

30. Sossusvlei, Namibia

Sossusvlei, Namibia

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Sossusvlei is undeniably one of the best vacation spots in Nambia.

It is a clay and salt pan located within the Namib-Naukluft National Park.

It is characterized by red dunes that roll, rising and falling, across a wide expanse of land.

They form as a result of the rare rain that reaches the usually dry desert land.

Some flora and fauna linger around this area, having adapted to the rough conditions, but it’s when moisture seeps its way into the environment that it truly flourishes.

A lake forms in Sossusvlei, coaxing thousands of birds to the location in an impressive spectacle.

31. Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat in Cambodia

Sean Heatley / Shutterstock

If you love history and archaeology, Angkor Wat is one of the best places to travel in the world.

Across 400 square kilometers, this temple of the Hindu faith was built in the 12th century under the Khmer Empire and took a whopping 35 years to complete.

Today, Angkor Wat is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it doesn’t just host the staggering ancient wonders of the temple, but also other attractions for tourists, and plenty of jungle-trekking to get there.

Make sure you’re all geared up early and you just may catch the sunrise!

32. Darvaza gas crater, Turkmenistan

Darvaza (Derweze) gas crater

Matyas Rehak / Shutterstock

The Darvaza gas crater, popularly also termed as the Door to Hell, is one of those cool places that you just can’t miss.

Located in the Karakum Desert, it is thusly named because it is a giant pool of crimson lava that gives off huge waves of steamy heat.

Essentially, this crater was formed by the collapse of natural gas field into some caverns below, where it was then, remarkably, deliberately put on fire in order to keep its methane gas content from escaping to the outside.

33. Iguazu Falls, Argentina/Brazil

Iguazu falls

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The Iguazu Falls isn’t just one single waterfall – it’s a collection of multiple small ones spanning across 3 kilometers, each one cascading down onto the next with raw power and energy that is spectacular to behold.

This shocking spectacle alone easily makes this location rank among the top vacation spots in the world.

This marvelous modern natural wonder sits on the border between Argentina and Brazil, within a larger national park that holds plenty of majesty and whimsy on its own in its rainforests.

Enjoy the sensational magic of the Iguazu Falls and take a trip through the forest beneath after to spot some interesting wildlife!

34. Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal, Guatemala

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Tikal can be found within the thick rainforest of Tikal National Park , and it is a UNESCO world heritage site.

The ruins are archaeological wonders that speak of ancient Mayan culture, and it was once a teeming city occupied between the 6th century BC and the 10th century AD.

Within Tikal, you can find temples and shrines, residences, palaces, and fancy courts and plazas, making this site among the top vacation spots for history lovers.

It also contains six pyramids and numerous stone monuments numbering close to 200.

35. The Great Blue Hole, Belize

The Great Blue Hole in Belize

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The Great Blue Hole may be an odd name to find among the best places to visit, but this sinkhole isn’t just any old lake!

It measures 407 feet in depth and spans across 980 feet in width, and it’s so large that you can spot it beautifully from above.

Divers love to take a dip in this old submarine haunt, and its dark indigo and navy depths just beg to be explored.

If you love water getaways and have an adventurous streak, you’ll love checking out what lies beneath!

36. Zhangye Danxia, China

Zhangye Danxia, China

M. Scheja / Shutterstock

At first glance, Zhangye Danxia looks like it may be photoshopped.

But it’s all natural, and that’s why these Rainbow Mountains are one of the best places to vacation for unique and breathtaking sights.

These mountains make up a geopark and have multicolored stripes, showing off vibrant shades of yellow, red, green, and more.

Trace minerals, erosion, and years of weathering have led to this astonishing phenomenon, made up of mineral deposits and red sandstone that have sat here for over 20 million years.

The place looks like it came right out of a storybook!

37. Vatnajokull Ice Caves, Iceland

By Albert Russ

Albert Russ / Shutterstock

The Vatnajokull Ice Caves are deadly when the ice melts in the spring and summer, but come winter, it’s a tourist’s paradise.

A huge network of caverns, tunnels, and caves appear surreal and breathtaking, reflected in bright teal and cerulean thanks to air bubbles, icebergs, and other factors.

Plus, let’s not forget about the Vatnajokull glacier, which spans 5,500 square miles and is the biggest glacier that the country has to offer.

All in all, this spot is perfect for a wonderful, fantastic vacation full of truly glorious photo opportunities.

Unfortunately, global warming has caused many of these caves to become threatened, so a trip here would be one of the best vacations to plan quickly before it’s too late!

38. Antelope Canyon, USA

Antelope Canyon on a sunny day

canadastock / Shutterstock

This geological phenomenon is located on Navajo territory and it is a slot canyon that boasts the privilege of being the most photographed of its kind universally.

The upper canyon area is more popular and offers a fantastic view of the curving, wavy walls of sandstone, while the lower canyon area boasts a more up-close-and-personal interaction with the magnolias colors it boasts.

Antelope Canyon is easily one of the most beautiful places in the US thanks to the amazing appearance it offers.

It’s amazing to think that all these fascinating shades of sandstone, in orange, yellow, pink, and red, occurred naturally!

39. Lake Bled, Slovenia

Lake Bled, Slovenia

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Lake Bled looks like it came out of a medieval movie featuring brave knights and feisty dragons.

That’s what makes it so compelling among places to go on vacation.

The lake is a deep forest green with a small island nestled in its center, holding a tall ancient castle and an equally rustic church.

You can row around the peaceful, calm waters of the lake or explore its central island.

It’s a truly romantic and gorgeous place that seems to be lost in time.

40. Pyramids of Giza, Egypt

Nomad on camel near pyramids

givaga / Shutterstock

Most people would consider the world-famous Pyramids of Giza to be among the best vacation spots that the world has to offer.

Among them are the gigantic Pyramid of Cheops, the intriguing Pyramid of Chephren, and, of course, the towering Sphinx that gazes over the land with watchful eyes.

Experience the wonders of ancient Egypt within these pyramids, where you will see sarcophagi, passages, statues, and structures all worthy of exploration.

It’s no wonder that these iconic structures are so renowned!

41. Mount Fuji, Japan

Mount Fuji with cherry blossom

Aeypix / Shutterstock

For the mountaineers, Mount Fuji is one of the best places to travel in the world.

It scales 12,388 feet in height and its beauty is worthy of any storybook cover.

Hike at the right time, and you’ll be able to get the summit without the hassle of the overwhelming snow.

Better yet, the area also hosts Lake Kawaguchiko, which is flanked by cherry blossoms that send soft pink petals drifting to the ground magically.

It is also backed by the view of the incredible mountain in all its glory.

42. Kuang Si Falls, Laos

Kuang Si Falls, Laos

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The Kuang Si Falls is known to be among the top travel destinations for backpackers.

Located very close to bustling city Luang Prabang, these waterfalls rush downwards in amazingly clear azure streams, falling through three tiers.

You can jump right into the water beneath the falls or, if you prefer, hike around the area to uncover more serene nature-filled spots that are perfect for a little exploring.

43. The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China

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We can’t talk about the greatest vacation spots in the world without mentioning The Great Wall of China .

It covers thousands of miles and sits on top of a mountain, allowing tourists who walk along it to glimpse breathtaking views as far as the eye can see.

This man-made marvel is so extensively huge that it’s difficult to imagine how it could have been built.

Its rich history and incredible structure make it well worth the visit, even though it’s impossible to walk all the way across it in one trip!

44. Fiordland National Park, New Zealand

Fiordland National Park, New Zealand

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If you like nature and culture all in one, New Zealand is one of the best countries to visit.

Case in point: the Fiordland National Park .

This park holds 14 fjords that, according to Maori legends, were all carved by a giant stonemason with an adze.

It’s not too difficult to believe that myth when you take a look at the deep, dipping valleys, though most experts believe it’s more likely that the fjords were created by glaciers over a hundred thousand years.

Waterfalls cascade over fjords and down from giant mountains of granite, and some fauna species in this park are found only there and nowhere else.

45. Boracay, Philippines

Boracay, Philippines

R.M. Nunes / Shutterstock

Boracay is among the best places to visit for a relaxing beach trip and some fun in the sun.

It’s one of the world’s favorite vacation islands, and its beauty is stunning in its simplicity.

Plus, there’s lots of good food to enjoy, and the people are lovely and friendly.

It’s a little difficult to get to these islands today, as only a limited number of tourists are allowed inside on a daily basis due to overcrowding from how popular the island has gotten.

However, if you plan in advance , you’ll be able to enjoy a relaxing bask in the sun on sandy beaches and wet shores.

46. Ik Kil Cenote, Mexico

Ik Kil Cenote, Mexico

Fotos593 / Shutterstock

Ik Kil Cenote is a natural pit that formed when a cave collapsed back in ancient times.

Back then, it was used by Mayans for ritual practices and also for relaxation.

Today, it’s among the greatest places to travel thanks to its gorgeous sapphire water that is crystal clear down to its depths, making it one of the greatest natural pools that earth has to offer.

Across the limestone wall, a ladder allows for easy pool access, and it’s a fantastic spot for divers and swimmers alike.

When you’re done, you can continue looking around the area for even more great spots to visit.

Planning a vacation to Cancun, Mexico? Be sure to check out our list of things to do in Cancun !

47. The Pitons, St. Lucia

The Pitons, St. Lucia

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The Pitons are a pair of volcanic plugs that go by the names Petit Piton (the smaller one) and Gros Piton (the larger one).

Their peaks are striking in appearance and make for incredible landmarks.

You can hike up the mountains or simply enjoy the view by resting and relaxing in Sugar Beach, which offers prime viewing of one of the best vacation spots in the world.

Either way, the dramatic and distinguished mountain spires simply cannot be denied!

48. Neelum Valley, Pakistan

Neelum Valley, Pakistan

Nadeem Mushtaq Jass / Shutterstock

Neelum Valley is one of the best places to travel for a more peaceful, calming experience.

Its valley, shaped somewhat like a bow, can be found at a 2000-foot altitude in the country’s Azad Kashmir.

Within the gorgeous valley flows the sublime Neelum river, and above it, the dignified mountain peaks capped by snow.

Surrounding this valley are rolling, tumbling hills rich in greenery and waterfalls for even more exploration.

49. Batu Caves, Malaysia

Batu Caves, Malaysia

Photography by KO / Shutterstock

Malaysia isn’t always thought of when you consider the best places to visit in the world, but this old temple cave (alongside other attractions) makes it worth the journey.

In 1859, Batu Caves was first discovered on the top of a limestone hill.

Within its depths are a large number of smaller caves joined with three big ones.

Today, this cave serves as a Hindu temple and houses many shrines, and it can only be accessed by climbing 272 steps.

At its front, a giant, elegant golden statue of Lord Murugan stands, overseeing the area with a calm gaze.

50. Pamukkale Thermal Pools, Turkey

Pamukkale Thermal Pools

THANAN / Shutterstock

The Pamukkale Thermal Pools are undoubtedly one of the best vacation spots in the nation.

Completely natural in structure, these pools are layered over one another thanks to mineral formations and travertines.

True to its name, which translates to “cotton castle”, these pools look like regally floating clouds.

The waters of these 17 hot springs in the area are rich in minerals, allowing for relaxation and skin-healing properties.

It’s basically a large natural spa that looks like an ethereal masterpiece.

Start Planning Your Dream Vacation

The world is full of rich natural and man-made wonders, whether they are resplendent in history and culture, packed with dazzling nature, or mind-blowing in their uniqueness and splendor.

These 50 places all around the planet are just begging to be explored, so what are you waiting for?

World’s 30 Best Travel Destinations, Ranked

Best places to visit in the world.

Bali, one of the best travel destinations

The ultimate ranking of travel destinations aims to solve a serious problem: so many places to visit, so little time.

But even in a world with a trillion destinations, some manage to stand out and rise to the top. From the sleek skyscrapers of Dubai to the emerald-green waters of the Bora Bora lagoon, you’re sure to find at least one vacation that piques your interest (and likely several!).

These are the 30 best places to visit in the world. Which ones have you already been to? And which ones stoke your wanderlust most?

30. Argentine Patagonia

Traveler in Argentine Patagonia

In this region of the Andes, you’ll find glaciers, evergreen trees, deep blue lakes and clear skies everywhere you look. For a trip full of adventure and discovery, there are few better destinations on the planet.

No trip is complete without a visit to the craggy Mount Fitz Roy, the historic (and mysterious) Cave of the Hands, the Punta Tombo wildlife preserve, the Peninsula Valdes marine wildlife refuge and the impressive Perito Moreno Glacier. Be sure to bring your camera and your sense of wonder.

* Rankings are based on U.S. News & World Report's " World's Best Places to Visit ," traveler ratings as well as our own editorial input.

What to Know Before You Go to Argentine Patagonia

Argentine Patagonia Glacier National Park

Where to stay: Cyan Soho Neuquen Hotel

Hot tip: Since springtime occurs in the southern hemisphere in October and November, those months are your best bet when planning a trip.

Fun fact: The largest dinosaur fossils ever unearthed were found in Argentine Patagonia. They belong to the largest-known titanosaur, believed to have weighed about 83 tons. 

Note: We may earn money from affiliate partners if you buy through links on our site.

29. Amalfi Coast, Italy

Campania, Amalfi Coast

Set in the Sorrentina Peninsula, the Amalfi Coast has long been renowned for its natural beauty and idyllic coastal towns. During the golden age of Hollywood, it was a preferred vacation spot for glamorous movie stars.

Days here are spent eating Italian food, drinking wine and walking around colorful cobblestone streets. You can also expect to drink copious amounts of wine as you look out into the Mediterranean Sea.

The best way to see the coast is to rent a car and then drive to different towns each day.

What to Know Before You Go to the Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast road

Where to stay: Hotel Marina Riviera

Hot tip:  If you're planning on using a beach chair to work on your tan, make sure you wake up early, as they are usually first come, first served.

Fun fact:  The Amalfi Coast is featured in Sofia Loren's 1995 Film, "Scandal in Sorrento."

28. Cancun, Mexico

Beach sunset in Cancun

For years, Cancun has been the preferred getaway for East Coast Americans (particularly Floridians) who want an international getaway that's still close to home. But despite the droves of tourists, the area has managed to keep the charm that attracted people in the first place.

The city is known mostly for its luxury hotels, wild nightlife and warm beaches. Definitely indulge in all of these — as well as the Mexican food! — but also consider other activities like visiting Mayan ruins, swimming in cenotes and snorkeling. One thing is certain: You won't run out of things to do in Cancun .

What to Know Before You Go to Cancun

Cenote Zaci, Mexico

Where to stay: Hyatt Zilara Cancun

Hot tip:  While you're in Cancun, make a plan to visit one of Grupo Xcaret's six eco-tourism parks, with the best ones being Xcaret and Xelha. The Mexican-owned company is credited with starting the eco-tourism trend in the Yucatan Peninsula, and the parks offer incredible and varied local experiences.

Fun fact:  The Yucatan Peninsula, where Cancun is located, was the cultural, political and economic center of the Mayan civilization. Many locals have Mayan ancestry and Mayan continues to be widely spoken in the area.

27. San Francisco, California

Close up of Golden Gate Bridge

Everyone should visit San Francisco at least once in their lives. Though tech companies grab all the headlines these days, it remains down-to-earth, diverse and packed with things to do.

Where to start? No matter your style, you’ll want to check out the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge, see the sunbathing sea lions at Fisherman’s Wharf, take a tour of the historic prison Alcatraz and relax in one of the city’s many parks, especially Dolores Park for its epic people-watching on the weekends. 

For dinner, treat your tastebuds and make a reservation at one of the many Michelin-starred restaurants in the Bay Area .

What to Know Before You Go to San Francisco

San Francisco houses

Where to stay: The Westin St. Francis San Francisco on Union Square

Hot tip: Want similarly beautiful landscapes and rich cultural attractions, but at lower prices and with (slightly) fewer crowds? Head to Oakland just across the Bay Bridge, named one of the most exciting places on earth to travel by National Geographic. 

Fun fact: The fortune cookie was invented in San Francisco by a Japanese resident. Random!

26. Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls in autumn Canadian side

Niagara Falls is one of the largest waterfalls in the world . The power with which water storms down cliffs on the border between the United States and Canada has captivated the imagination of humans for centuries. 

This natural wonder is comprised of three awe-inspiring falls. One of the best ways to experience them is on a boat tour.

What to Know Before You Go to Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls boat tour

Where to stay: Sheraton Niagara Falls

Hot tip: There is some debate about which side of the falls is better, but the general verdict is that the Canadian side offers better views. This is because you can (ironically) get a better view of the American Falls as well as get up close to Horseshoe Falls. 

Fun fact:  Established in 1885, Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest state park in the U.S.

25. Yellowstone National Park

Bison at the Great Prismatic Spring

Located mostly in Wyoming as well as Montana and Idaho, Yellowstone is America’s first national park and remains one of the most popular in the country, welcoming more than around 3.3 million people in 2022. With unpredictable geysers, rainbow-colored hot springs, craggy peaks, shimmering lakes and tons of wildlife — from elk to boars to bison — it’s easy to see why so many people flock here. 

The park makes for an awesome family trip and is well-suited to budget travelers since it offers so many campsites ( over 2,000! ). 

What to Know Before You Go to Yellowstone

Old Faithful Geiser erupting, Yellowstone

Where to stay: Stage Coach Inn

Hot tip: You’ll never fully beat the crowds at this wildly popular park, but April, May, September and November are your best bets for finding some solitude.  

Fun fact: Yellowstone is larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined.  

24. Great Barrier Reef, Australia

snorkle Destinations: Great Barrier Reef, Australia

As the largest reef in the world, the Great Barrier Reef is home to thousands of marine species. This makes it a paradise for scuba diving or snorkeling. 

The reef system is truly gigantic, with over 600 islands and about 2,900 individual reefs. This is one of Australia's greatest prides, but it's also a planetary national treasure. Seeing it with your own two eyes is an experience that is incredible beyond words.

What to Know Before You Go to the Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef from above

Where to stay: Crystalbrook Flynn

Hot tip: Though going underwater to see the reef is a must, we also recommend booking a helicopter tour to experience the magic of it from above.

Fun fact:  Made of corals, which are animals that live in collectives, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest living structure on the planet.

23. Santorini, Greece

White washed houses in Santorini

With its picturesque blue-domed churches, whitewashed buildings and colorful beaches, the island of Santorini is a photographer’s paradise. If you want to snap photos to post to Instagram and make everyone back home jealous, this is the place to go. 

Also make sure to experience some of Santorini’s archaeologically significant sites, like Ancient Akrotiri (an ancient city preserved by volcanic ash) and Ancient Thera (where humans lived as early as the 9th century BC). And don’t forget to visit the smaller islands that surround it, including Thirassia, Nea Kameni and Palea Kameni. 

What to Know Before You Go to Santorini

Santorini houses

Where to stay: Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Santorini

Hot tip: To optimize your vacation, visit in September and October or April and May — when the weather is still warm, but there aren’t as many other tourists milling around.

Fun fact: While it’s difficult to prove, locals like to say there’s more wine than water on this island where it hardly rains (and vino abounds).

22. Florence, Italy

Florience center, Italy

For art and history buffs (and anyone who appreciates delicious Italian food), Florence is a must-visit city. 

As the birthplace of the Renaissance, it’s home to some of the most iconic artworks by the world’s premier artists throughout history — Michaelangelo, Brunelleschi and Donatello, just to name a few. In addition to art museums and architectural wonders, Florence is also home to chic shops, quaint cafes and spectacular gardens. 

What to Know Before You Go to Florence

Il Duomo, Florence

Where to stay:  NH Collection Firenze Porta Rossa

Hot tip: Keep Florence in mind if you want to spend your honeymoon in Europe without spending a fortune, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Fun fact: The city’s famed “El Duomo” cathedral took over 140 years to build .

21. Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite, one of the most-visited national parks in America with more than 4 million annual guests, encompasses 750,000 acres of wilderness just waiting to be explored.

It’s home to scenic waterfalls, like the 317-foot Vernal Fall and the 617-foot Bridalveil Fall, as well as iconic rock formations like El Capitan and Half Dome, two popular spots for the world’s best rock climbers to test their mettle.

Not surprisingly, the wildlife here also impresses. Dozens of species of butterflies, marmots, bobcats and mule deer are just some of the animals that call Yosemite home. And keep your eyes peeled for black bears; some 300 to 500 roam the park . 

What to Know Before You Go to Yosemite

Yosemite National Park

Where to stay:  The Ahwahnee

Hot tip: Summer can get really busy here, so if you want to camp, be sure to book a spot early. Want to beat Yosemite’s notoriously bad traffic? Ditch the car and take advantage of the park’s extensive free bus system.

Fun fact: This is one of the only places in the country where you can catch a moonbow — like a rainbow, but created by the light of the moon instead of the sun. 

20. St. Lucia

St. Lucia Les Pitons

Whether you’re visiting on a cruise ship or just relaxing at an all-inclusive resort or boutique hotel, stunning St. Lucia is a clear winner. This Caribbean island offers diverse terrain for vacationers, from its pristine beaches to its lush rainforests to its volcanic peaks, the Pitons, that loom over the landscape. 

Adrenaline-junkies love hiking, climbing and zip-lining, while newlyweds (and soon-to-be-married couples) enjoy the romantic mix of fine dining, adults-only resorts and exotic activities. 

What to Know Before You Go to St. Lucia

St. Lucia boats

Where to stay: Rabot Hotel From Hotel Chocolat

Hot tip: Visit when temperatures are moderate, which is typically in May and June.

Fun fact: St. Lucia is the only country named after a woman: Christian martyr Saint Lucia of Syracuse.

19. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dubai skyscrappers

Everything is bigger and better in Dubai, home to one of the world’s largest shopping malls, tallest towers, largest man-made marinas — and the list goes on. 

This Las Vegas-like urban center in the United Arab Emirates has an eclectic mix of activities for visitors to enjoy, including beaches, waterparks, tons of shopping and even an indoor ski resort. Outside the skyscraper-filled city, the vast desert awaits, best enjoyed via quad-biking or sandboarding.

What to Know Before You Go to Dubai

Dubai beach

Where to stay:  Five Palm Jumeirah Dubai

Hot tip: Though you’re likely to pay a pretty penny for a trip to Dubai no matter when you visit, you can save a little cash by visiting during the scalding-hot summer months and by booking your hotel room two to three months in advance.

Fun fact: Dubai’s man-made Palm Islands were constructed using enough imported sand to fill up 2.5 Empire State Buildings . 

18. Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

Many travelers describe their visit to Machu Picchu as life-changing. Why? It’s an archaeological wonder, the remains of an ancient Incan city dating back more than 600 years. No wonder this is one of the Seven Wonders of the World, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most-visited attraction in all of Peru. 

Be sure to visit significant sites like Funerary Rock, where it’s believed Incan nobility were mummified, and Temple of the Condor, a rock temple sculpted to look like the impressive bird in its name.  

What to Know Before You Go to Machu Picchu

Llamas in Machu Picchu

Where to stay: Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel

Hot tip: If you’re planning a trip, be sure to get your ticket in advance, as only 2,500 people can visit Machu Picchu each day. (And a lot of people have this destination on their bucket list.)

Fun fact: The site contains more than 100 separate flights of stairs . 

17. Sydney, Australia

Sydney Harbor with boats

With its iconic Opera House and lively Bondi Beach, Sydney is the perfect spot to vacation if you’re looking for a blend of culture, arts, nightlife and relaxation. 

Spend the day on the water at Darling Harbour, then head to the Royal Botanic garden for even more fresh air. Want to travel like a local? Get a ticket to a rugby match and order a Tim Tam, a popular chocolate-covered cookie that pairs well with coffee. 

What to Know Before You Go to Sydney

Sydney Opera House in the evening

Where to stay: Four Seasons Hotel Sydney

Hot tip: You can make your trip more affordable by visiting during Sydney’s shoulder seasons, which are typically September through November and March through May.

Fun fact: In 2007, Bondi Beach was the site of the largest ever swimsuit photoshoot ; 1,010 bikini-clad women participated, enough to earn it a spot in the Guinness World Records book.

16. Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon from observation point

The Grand Canyon is truly massive (277 river miles long and up to 18 miles wide!), which helps explain why so many people feel the urge to see it in person. 

In 2022, 4.7 million people visited, making the Grand Canyon the second-most popular national park in the country (behind Great Smoky Mountain Nationals Park). Established in 1919, the park offers activities for all ability levels, whether you want to do an intense hike down into the canyon and sleep under the stars (with a backcountry permit, of course) or simply want to saunter along the South Rim Trail, an easy walking path with views that wow.

What to Know Before You Go to the Grand Canyon

Family in the Grand Canyon

Where to stay:  The Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon

Hot tip: If you’ve wanted to visit the Grand Canyon for a while now, this is the year to do it. The park is celebrating its 100th birthday with musical performances, lectures, screenings and other special events.

Fun fact: The most remote community in the continental U.S. can be found in the Grand Canyon. At the base of the canyon, Supai Village — part of the Havasupi Indian Reservation — has a population of 208. It’s inaccessible by road, and mail is delivered by pack mule. Want to see it for yourself? The village houses a collection of campsites , accessible via a hiking trail.

15. Bali, Indonesia

Landmark Temple Gates in Bali

In recent years, Bali has become a popular expat destination, where groups of "digital nomads" work and play. 

But the island hasn't lost its original charm to this added tourism and continues to be an incredible destination. Divide your time between swimming in the beach, hiking active volcanoes, visiting temples and enjoying views of tiered rice terraces.

What to Know Before You Go to Bali

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan temple in Bali

Where to stay: Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach

Hot tip:  Though shoulder season (January to April and October to November) means fewer crowds and cheaper prices, it also means rain. Tons of it. We'd recommend avoiding the rainy season if possible.

Fun fact: On the Saka New Year, Balinese people celebrate Nyepi. This Hindu celebration is a day of silence when everything on the island shuts down and no noise is allowed.

14. New York, New York

New York City Manhattan

As the saying goes, New York City is “the city that never sleeps” — and you won’t want to either when you visit, lest you run out of time to take it all in. 

Be sure to check out newer attractions, like the High Line (an elevated park) and Hudson Yards (a mega-mall along the Hudson River), but also make time for some New York City classics, like catching a Broadway show or standing under the lights of Times Square. 

Foodies will have a hard time choosing where to eat (the city is home to almost 100 Michelin stars !), which is why an extended trip is always a good idea.

What to Know Before You Go to New York City

New York City Broadway

Where to stay: The Beekman, A Thompson Hotel

Hot tip: Yes, January and February get cold here, but this is also the best time to lock in relatively reasonable hotel rates. You can spend your time eating in the city’s restaurants, exploring its fabulous museums and catching its world-class theater shows without needing to spend much time in the chilly outdoors. 

Fun fact: There’s a birth in New York City about every 4.4 minutes — and a death every 9.1 minutes. 

13. Banff National Park, Canada

Banff Lake Louise

Some of the world’s most stunning mountain scenery and vistas are located in Banff, the tiny Canadian town located at 4,537 feet above sea level inside the national park by the same name. Banff is the highest town in Canada, and Banff National Park was Canada’s first, established in 1885.

Shred some powder at Banff’s three ski resorts in the winter, then come back in the summer for activities like hiking, biking, fishing and scrambling (scaling steep terrain using nothing but your hands).

What to Know Before You Go to Banff

Kayaking in Banff National Park

Where to stay: Fairmont Banff Springs

Hot tip: June to August and December to March are the best times to visit if you want to take advantage of summer and winter activities. 

Fun fact: Banff National Park has more than 1,000 glaciers.

12. Maldives

Sunset in the Maldives

You can look at picture after picture, but you still really need to visit the Maldives to believe its beauty. If rich sunsets, flour-like beaches and vibrant blue waters are your style, this is the destination for you. 

Though it’s somewhat difficult to get to this small island nation southwest of Sri Lanka, that also means it’s incredibly private and secluded, which makes it the perfect spot for a honeymoon or romantic beach getaway. 

And don’t worry about getting bored, either — explore the water by snorkeling or scuba diving, relax in the spa or wander around the bustling Male’ Fish Market.

What to Know Before You Go to Maldives

Maldives overwater bungalows

Where to stay: Velassaru Maldives

Hot tip: May to October is the island-nation’s rainy season — but that also means it’s the best time to go for fewer crowds and better rates.

Fun fact: In 1153 AD, the nation’s people converted to Islam. Today, the Maldives remains the most heavily Muslim country on earth.

11. Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Sagrada Familia

Soccer, architecture, shopping, nightlife, world-class food and wine, arts and culture — is there anything Barcelona doesn’t have? If there is, we honestly can't think what it would be. 

This cosmopolitan Spanish city is home to some awe-inspiring architecture, including several buildings designed by Antoni Gaudi, so be sure to book tours of his whimsical creations like Park Guell and the yet-to-be-finished Church of the Sacred Family (La Sagrada Familia). 

For nightlife and shopping, Las Ramblas is always bustling; for an enriching arts experience, follow the progression of famed artist Pablo Picasso at Museo Picasso.

What to Know Before You Go to Barcelona

Barcelona Park Guell

Where to stay:  Hotel Bagues

Hot tip: It can get really humid here, so it's best to plan your trip in May and June before things really heat up.

Fun fact: In preparation for its 1992 hosting of the Olympics, the city flew in sand from as far away as Egypt to make Barceloneta Beach a place where people would want to go. Though largely man-made, the beach remains a wonderful spot for seaside R&R. 

10. Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park in the winter

The crown jewel of beautiful Montana, Glacier National Park is every outdoors traveler's dream.

Of course, the most defining natural feature of the park are its glaciers, which provide spectacular views as well as a number of pristine lakes. There are hundreds of trails that will take you up peaks, down through valleys and across some of the most beautiful landscapes you'll ever see.

What to Know Before You Go to Glacier National Park

Mountain goats at Glacier National Park

Where to stay: Firebrand Hotel

Hot tip:  Plan to spend a day or two in the nearby town of Whitefish. This gateway to Glacier National Park is one of the best small towns in America and a destination in its own right. 

Fun fact: During your visit, you're very likely to run into mountain goats, which are the official symbols of the park.

9. Tokyo, Japan

Akihabara Tokyo

The Japanese capital is one of the most exciting cities on the entire planet. It is notoriously fast-paced, with neon lights illuminating the multitudes that are constantly rushing to their next destination. 

But Tokyo is also a city of temples, of taking time to picnic under the cherry blossoms and of making sure you enjoy the abundance of delicious food that can be found on basically every corner.

What to Know Before You Go to Tokyo

Sensoji temple , Tokyo

Where to stay: The Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho, a Luxury Collection Hotel

Hot tip: Visit between the months of March and April or September and November for more comfortable temperatures. Of course, spring is when the city's cherry blossoms are famously in full bloom.

Fun fact: Tokyo happens to be the largest metropolitan area in the world, with more than 40 million people calling the greater metro area home.

8. Phuket, Thailand

Phuket boats

If you’re looking for a vacation destination that feels luxurious but won’t break the bank, start searching for flights to Phuket now. 

This island in southern Thailand, which is just an hour flight from Bangkok, is surrounded by the Andaman Sea, so white sandy beaches abound. If a stunning sunset is what you’re after, head to Promthep Cape, the southernmost point on the island and a popular spot for photo-ops. For views of the island and beyond, climb to the top of the massive alabaster statue called Big Buddha.

You can even learn something during your vacation by visiting the Soi Dog Foundation, an innovative animal shelter that’s fighting the meat trade and taking care of the thousands of stray cats and dogs in the area.

What to Know Before You Go to Phuket

Phuket temple

Where to stay: InterContinental Phuket Resort

Hot tip: Visit between November and April for the best weather — and ideal conditions for beach activities like swimming and boating. 

Fun fact: The island is not pronounced in the rather colorful way it appears to be. The correct way to say it is “poo-ket” or “poo-get.”

7. Rome, Italy

Rome, Colosseum

Though Rome’s historic significance cannot be overstated, don’t assume that this Italian city is stuck in the past. On the contrary, you’ll find posh storefronts and luxurious hotels not far from iconic structures like the Pantheon (built in 120 AD) and the Colosseum (built in 80 AD).

And then, of course, there’s the city’s art. Stroll through Rome, and you’ll stumble upon some of the greatest treasures the world has ever seen — an astonishing collection of frescoes, paintings, ceilings and fountains created by icons like Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Raphael and Bernini.

After all that exploration, take advantage of ample opportunities to eat and drink, including at several Michelin-starred restaurants. City staples include suppli (deep-fried balls of risotto, mozzarella and ragu meat sauce) and cacio e pepe (a deceptively simple mix of al-dente pasta, pecorino romano and fresh black pepper). 

What to Know Before You Go to Rome

Rome Spanish Plaza at dawn

Where to stay: Radisson Blu Ghr Hotel

Hot tip: Tourists congregate here in the summer when temperatures are also sweltering. Go instead between October and April, when there are thinner crowds, better rates and cooler temps. Just make sure to bring a light jacket.

Fun fact: Each year, travelers throw about $1.7 million worth of coins into the Trevi Fountain. The money is donated to Caritas, a Catholic nonprofit that supports charities focused on health, disaster relief, poverty and migration.

6. London, England

Modern bridge London

English writer Samual Johnson once said, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” 

From live performances of Shakespeare to truly world-class (and free!) museums like the National Gallery, London will enrich your mind and enliven your senses. Of course, no visit would be complete without a stop at Buckingham Palace to see the famous stone-faced guards outside and the 19 lavish State Rooms inside (though, unfortunately, you can’t see the queen’s private quarters). Another must-see landmark is the Tower of London, the historic castle on the north side of the River Thames.

What to Know Before You Go to London

London in the spring

Where to stay: Vintry & Mercer

Hot tip: Many U.S. cities now offer direct flights to London, so set a price alert and act fast when you see fares drop.

Fun fact: London’s pubs are worth a visit for their names alone; fanciful monikers include The Case is Altered, The Pyrotechnists Arms, John the Unicorn and The Job Centre. 

5. Tahiti, French Polynesia

Tahiti, French Polynesia

Flavorful French cuisine, top-notch resorts, warm waters — need we say more? Though Tahiti can be pricey, travelers say it’s so worth it. 

The largest of the 118 French Polynesian islands, Tahiti is split into two main regions (connected by a land bridge). Tahiti Nui, the larger region, is home to the island’s capital Papeete and surfing hotspot Papenoo Beach, while Tahiti Iti, the smaller region, offers more seclusion and the bright white sands of La Plage de Maui.

What to Know Before You Go to Tahiti

Tahiti bungalows during sunset

Where to stay: Hilton Hotel Tahiti

Hot tip: Visit between May and October, Tahiti’s winter, when there are less humidity and rain. 

Fun fact: Overcrowding is not a concern here; Hawaii gets more visitors in 10 days than all of French Polynesia does in a year.

4. Maui, Hawaii

Rocky beach in Maui

If you’re short on time or you just can’t decide which Hawaiian island to visit, Maui is right in the sweet spot: not too big, not too small, but just right.

There are five regions to explore on Maui, including the popular West Maui and South Maui, home to some of the island’s best-known attractions and beaches (Wailea Beach is in South Maui, for example). But don’t overlook East Maui, where you can travel along the Road to Hana, or the Upcountry, where you can explore the world’s largest dormant volcano, Haleakala. 

What to Know Before You Go to Maui

Maui cave

Where to stay:  Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea

Hot tip: This is Hawaii we’re talking about, so your trip will be on the pricey side. Be sure to budget for add-ons if you need them (think gym access and WiFi at your hotel), and do some research on insurance before you head to the car-rental counter.

Fun fact: How’s this for a selling point? Maui has more beach than any other Hawaiian island — 60 miles of it, with red, white and black sand.

3. Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Bora Bora overwater bungalows

Don’t write off the French Polynesian island of Bora Bora just because of its size. Though it’s a little more than 2 miles wide and just 6 miles long, Bora Bora packs in an abundance of natural beauty. To start, you won’t be able to take your eyes off the island’s turquoise lagoon surrounded by lush jungle.

If you’re looking for more than relaxation on your trip, consider hiking or booking a 4X4 tour of Mount Otemanu, part of an extinct volcano that rises 2,400 feet above the lagoon. You can also snorkel among the coral reef of Coral Gardens, where you might catch a glimpse of reef sharks, eels and stingrays.

Because of its remoteness, flying into Bora Bora Airport will be quite a journey, no matter where you're departing from. But you'll forget everything as soon as you see this Polynesian paradise that is beautiful beyond words.

What to Know Before You Go to Bora Bora

Bora Bora Island

Where to stay: Conrad Bora Bora Nui

Hot tip: Though Bora Bora can be wildly expensive to visit, you can cut costs by visiting between December and March (though you should avoid the Christmas holiday) and by bringing your own alcohol and sunscreen with you.

Fun fact: Bora Bora is one of the countries that no longer exists . The Kingdom of Bora Bora was an independent state until it was forcefully overtaken and annexed by France in 1888.

2. Paris, France

Paris from the Arc de Triumph

Paris has it all — incredible cuisine, legendary landmarks and centuries of history. Those are just some of the reasons it’s the second-best place to visit in the world.

Though you’ll want to spend your time hitting up popular tourist spots like the Eiffel Tower and the Musee d’Orsay, you should also carve out time to explore other parts of Paris — the city’s 20 diverse neighborhoods, called arrondissements, for instance. Standouts include the 2nd arrondissement, which touts covered passages and some of the city’s hippest restaurants, and the romantic 18th arrondissement, with charming squares, cafes and bars, set apart from the city’s more tourist-packed areas.

What to Know Before You Go to Paris

Paris Montmartre at dawn

Where to stay: Grand Hotel Du Palais Royal

Hot tip: Yes, summer in Paris is busy, but the weather is also ideal — average highs are in the 70s.

Fun fact: Built for the 1889 World Fair, the Eiffel Tower was originally meant to be temporary , and was almost torn down in 1909. Luckily, local officials saw its value as a radiotelegraph station, preserving the future tourist icon for generations to come. 

1. South Island, New Zealand

Milford Sound

South Island, the larger but less populated of the two islands that make up New Zealand, earn this top-spot honor for its gorgeous scenery, adrenelin-pumping experiences and affordability.

The 33.5-mile hike on Milford Sound, which is limited to 90 people at a time, is considered one of the world’s best treks, with stops at Lake Te Anau, suspension bridges, a mountain pass and the tallest waterfall in the country, Sutherland Falls.

For a heart-pumping experience, you can jump out of a helicopter while flying over the Harris Mountains with skis on your feet. Still not satisfied? Roam Fiordland National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage area, and explore the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, two of the most accessible glaciers in the world.

What to Know Before You Go to New Zealand

South Island, New Zealand

Where to stay: QT Queenstown

Hot tip: Book your trip for the fall, when South Island is temperate, not overcrowded and offers great rates. Bonus: This is also when the island is at its most stunning.

Fun fact: New Zealand natives, called Kiwis, are among the most hospitable you’ll ever meet. The local saying “He aha te mea nui o te ao. He tangata, he tangata, he tangata” translates , appropriately, to “What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people.”

The Best Destinations in the World: The Gold List 2022

By CNT Editors

Goa India

There are three great lists annually in  Condé Nast Traveler,  all of which have changed due to the events of the last two years: the Readers’ Choice Awards , which you, our beloved audience, select; the Hot List , which compiles the new and notable of the previous year; and this one, which is ultimately about the places and experiences our editors carry in their hearts. This year, when we say  our editors,  we mean  CNT ’s entire global crew, working in locations from California to Beijing ; we’ve also expanded the parameters of the list to include not just the hotels and cruises you’ve seen in years past, but also the destinations we treasure. The Gold List is, more than ever, made by humans for other humans—something we need more than ever in this day and age. Here, our favorite destinations in the world.

Read the complete set of Gold List winners   here .

All listings featured in this story are independently selected by our editors. However, when you book something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Cholula Puebla Mexico

Puebla, Mexico

I love when I can feel familiar with a new place in 48 hours. In Puebla , Mexico’s historic, fourth-largest city, all the spots you want to hit are walking distance within its center, itself a tidy sprawl of bright pink and yellow villas and small plazas. That includes food markets for a crispy cemita (a schnitzel-­style sandwich with all the fixings); the gilded Capilla del Rosario and the city’s famed talavera, or ceramic houses; I stayed for close to an hour watching the row of artisans hand-paint and hand-fire their mugs, plates, and vases at Uriarte Talavera. Before the pandemic, tourism was just starting to happen here, and the city was in that sweet spot of supporting a new breed of traveler, like with the artisanal-inspired Cartesiano hotel, but without muting any of its essence for international business. I liked that I had to use my shoddy Spanish with barkeeps and store owners. And that sitting in those plazas meant a front-row seat to daily Poblano life: vendors selling sliced cucumber spices with cayenne, old-timers playing dominos. Puebla felt like a special somewhere on the verge of discovery in a country with pockets already turned over to the masses. My guess with all that’s happened this past year is that it still does. —Erin Florio

Rio de Janeiro Brazil

Rio de Janeiro

If you were to hook the city of Rio de Janeiro up to a cardiogram, the needle would swing off the page. The city thrums with live samba and bossa nova at all hours of the day; the bustling streets, bookended by the dramatic rise of granite monoliths on one end and the pounding waves of the Atlantic on the other, have a pulse all their own. It's easy to feel this when you're amid throngs of colorfully clad cariocas —I feel it most swaying to the live music at Pedra do Sal on Monday nights, or when, perched in the leafy hilltop neighborhood of Santa Teresa, I hear people in neighborhoods below lean out their windows to cheer when Flamengo scores a goal. It's a complicated city, with plenty of issues—insecurity, corruption, inequity, to name just a few—but there's a premium on joy and celebration that isn't reserved for Carnaval . There are few places in the world where you know you couldn't possibly be anywhere else, and whenever I hear the whole of Arpoador beach break into applause as the sun sets in summer, I'm reminded that Rio is one of them. —Megan Spurrell

Alentejo Vicente Coast

Alentejo, Portugal

I call the road to the sea through Portugal’s Alentejo region the place where the beatniks read Pessoa; you can imagine Kerouac breezing through its small hotels, surf camps, and villages scattered with craft shops, markets, and bohemian bars. For me it’s a place of happiness. There are boutique hotels like São Lourenço do Barrocal and Dá Licença and olive groves, cork oaks, and infinite horizons. The road ends at Vicentine Coast National Park, a wild, protected coastline in southern Europe. A paradise for surfers , it has electrifying sunsets, but the icy waters stop it from ever getting too crowded. —David Moralejo

Svalbard Norway

Svalbard, Norway

Arctic Svalbard —whose capital, Longyearbyen, is the world’s northernmost town—is like nowhere else I’ve been. On the one hand, it’s a deep-nature Scandi fantasy of snowmobiles, Northern Lights, ski-touring along glacial valleys, and surprisingly smart boutiques with stacked wine cellars. But there’s also a compelling strangeness to this international settlement, where no one is born and no one dies. There are the Soviet mining towns with their Lenin busts, whether abandoned or (even weirder) still working; the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which preempts a coming apocalypse; it’s advisable to leave Longyearbyen with a shotgun, in case of polar-bear attack. As much as a destination, it’s a journey into the heart of the climate crisis, with academics from across the world doing game-changing research here. I’m itching to go again—to escape but also to think and connect, which is what happens in all the best places. —Toby Skinner

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Goa India

My first trip to Goa as a college student was wrapped in dreams of homemade chorizo and reliving moments from the cult Bollywood coming-of-age film Dil Chahta Hai . Many trips and feni cocktails later, Goa remained a respite for my city-weary bones. The state straddles its multicultural past and present, trading up ’60s hippie markets for hipster boutiques while keeping its old-world Indian and Portuguese traditions intact. Simple fish-curry plates, aunties doing an impromptu jig to fado, old-timers squabbling over their favorite Goan soccer club, and the right freshness of bread coexist with edgy global menus, alt-music gigs, and all that is artisanal and arty. The ocean changes color from one season to the next, the multi-color sunsets never repeat, and like many travelers, I continue to return and find my salve in sunshine, sea, and susegad —the quintessential Goan idea of the slow, easy, and good life. —Diya Kohl

Plettenberg Bay South Africa

Plettenberg Bay, South Africa

Plettenberg Bay is South Africa's summer playground, and I, a Capetonian, would drive the 186-mile coastal path along the scenic Garden Route each year to join the fun. The bohemian seaside town sits atop a sheltered bay, where a jumble of hipster coffee shops, seafood restaurants, and kitsch boutiques tumble down onto fynbos-covered cliffs—where a slew of new hotels like The Robberg Beach Lodge sit beside grandes dames like The Plettenberg Hotel . Pretty young things like to celebrate the end of matric student exams, where hedonism sweeps across the bay, while dolphin and whale watches come during the languid, warm winter months. Venture just outside Plett to find the luxury Tsala Treetop Lodge , a manicured Gary Player golf course, indigenous Keurbooms River Nature Reserve, the Plett Polo Club on the Kurland Estate, and a host of animal sanctuaries to meet cheetahs, elephants, and monkeys. But above all, come for the glorious golden beaches. Central Beach—dotted with bars—surfy Lookout Beach, and the eerie, mist-covered sands of Robberg Nature Reserve. Search hard enough and you might stumble on a sand dollar—the symbol of Plettenberg Bay, thought to bring eternal luck. —Isabella Sullivan

Scottsdale Arizona

When I can’t take another minute of winter, I head to Scottsdale. As, historically, do the day-drinking spring breakers and the far less rowdy snowbirds. Recently, though, the Valley of the Sun has come into its own, claiming its stunning desert setting and Southwest culture in new ways. If I’m bringing the kids, the 1929 Frank Lloyd Wright–designed grande dame The Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort (on the border of Scottsdale and Phoenix), is my place. It has sprawling grounds and seven pools, one with a legitimate waterslide, and just underwent a much-needed facelift. Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort , terraced into the side of its namesake adobe-hued mountain, has my favorite spa in town. Its adults-only pool on weekends and easy access to sunrise hiking give me plenty of excuses to leave the kids at home. Solo or with family, I can always bank on sunshine, a great exhibit at Phoenix’s nearby Desert Botanical Garden, and excellent Sonoran-style Mexican food. —Rebecca Misner

Tuscany Val Graziosa

Val Graziosa, Italy

I am a frequent traveler to Val Graziosa, a valley near the Pisan mountains and a part of Tuscany relatively unknown and terribly beautiful. Here there is Monte Pisano—“ che i Pisan veder Lucca non ponno, ” the poet Dante said, a small group of mountains that hides Lucca from Pisa and makes it impossible for the Pisan locals to see the city of Lucca. There are olive trees everywhere, producing the best olive oil on Earth in a splendid countryside. I love to walk around the surroundings of Montemagno—please read the book Maledetti Toscani, by Curzio Malaparte, and you will understand a lot about Italians from this region. I love to go to the grocery store in Patrizia for a glass of wine (the one and only épicerie of the village) and then to Certosa di Calci, a 14th-century monastery, and one of the many secret beauties in my crazy country of Italy. —Maddalena Fosati

Chiang Mai Thailand

Chiang Mai, Thailand

When I first went to Chiang Mai, I intended to stay a couple of nights and ended up staying more than a week; for me, that trip is a reminder of travel at its most impulsive and impetuous: the freedom to move on when you feel like it. There’s no beach pressure here, and inland Thailand always feels more interesting than the obvious hits of the beachfront. And, away from the beaches, there's the sense of a modern Thai city where young creatives are carving out a contemporary aesthetic, with the energy that a large student population gives a city. —Rick Jordan

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The top 12 places to visit in the USA in 2024

Bailey Freeman

Feb 23, 2024 • 6 min read

3 travel spots

New York City never gets old, not with so many exciting and dynamic neighborhoods to explore © LeoPatrizi / Getty

The best thing about visiting the USA can be summed up in one word: variety. This expansive country contains an incredible number of travel experiences that would take a lifetime to complete – try wandering through the redwoods, breathing in deep gulps of sea air on glimmering beaches, or immersing yourself in the underground art scenes in some of the world's most famous cities.

Whether you're a nature lover looking for wide open spaces and snow-covered peaks or a culture fiend who can't get enough of museums and galleries, the USA has something for you. To help stem the overwhelm of options, these are our 12 favorite places to visit in the USA in 2024.

1. New York, New York

Best place for art and architecture

A city that looms large in American lore, New York continues to live up to its hype. A global center for art, fashion, finance, music and food, the Big Apple will never leave you feeling bored. Sip sunset cocktails on luxurious rooftops, mosh at local punk shows, marvel at world-class art in famous museums, or indulge in the best food you've ever had at a hole-in-the-wall favorite.

Planning tip: New York has so much to offer, but resist the urge to see it all on your first trip. Break things down by neighborhood or borough , or perhaps even by interest.

2. San Francisco, CA

Best for counter-culture

San Francisco contains multitudes, offering an urban travel experience with a distinctly West Coast flavor: take in breathtaking bay views at Golden Gate Park , wander the alleyways of the country's largest and oldest Chinese neighborhood , pay homage to LGBTIQ+ heroes in the Castro, or dive into cutting-edge art at SFMOMA and a plethora of local galleries.

3. National Mall in Washington, DC

Best for national history

Washington DC's National Mall represents the center of American political life and distills its cultural history into a two-mile strip of iconic monuments and the country's most famous museums. The mall contains ten Smithsonian museums – the National Museum of Natural History , the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Museum of American History, among others – plus landmarks including the National Gallery of Art, the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol building.

A group of friends cooking seafood over a fire outdoors in Maine

4. New England

Best for forest drives

Want to meander on mountain roads beneath brilliant forest canopies and savor tasty lobster and coastal views all in the same trip? New England is the place to be. Explore the quaint villages and cranberry bogs of Cape Cod , snuggle into a cabin in the mountains of Vermont , or dive into all the seafood you can eat in Portland, Maine . And if you visit in autumn, prepare yourself for some of the most spectacular fall foliage in the country.

5. Pacific Coast Highway

Best for West Coast exploration

The Pacific Coast Highway – technically three highways linked together – connects sunny San Diego with moody Seattle , delivering epic West Coast experiences along the 1600-mile journey. Stay at kitschy motels in coastal towns, admire the cliffs of Big Sur , marvel at the tidepools in Oregon , and explore Washington's Olympic National Park .

Planning tip: Sections of the Pacific Coast Highway run along sea cliffs prone to rockslides. Always check road conditions before setting out in case of any unexpected closures.

6. New Orleans, Louisiana

Best for foodies and art lovers

There's no place in the world like New Orleans  – we promise. A vibrant cocktail of Indigenous, Caribbean, African, French and Spanish influences, this city possesses a unique magic that keeps people coming back for more. Dive into its legendary Creole cuisine, revel in its lively festivals, and immerse yourself in a world-class music scene – this is the birthplace of jazz, after all.

Planning tip: New Orleans's coastal location makes it susceptible to hurricanes from June through October, with the most active months being August and September.

7. Santa Fe, New Mexico

Best for Indigenous history and culture

Nicknamed the "City Different," Santa Fe is rooted in American history while still keeping up with the times. A cultural melange of Indigenous, Spanish and Mexican influences, this city is home to numerous historical sites – like the 400-year-old Plaza – and a cutting-edge art culture that features a strong contingent of independent artists and the original Meow Wolf , a game-changing immersive art installation.

Tourists admire iconic Cloud Gate at Millenium Park during early spring Rolf_52_Shutterstock.jpg

8. Chicago, Illinois

Best metropolis for midwestern charm

Chicago contains all the hallmarks of a great American city – excellent food, multicultural neighborhoods , top-tier museums – with a distinctly midwestern twist. Spend your days lounging next to the ocean-like Lake Michigan, catch a Cubs game at Wrigley Field , or have an evening of laughs at Second City , the launchpad for greats like Stephen Colbert and Tina Fey.

9. Rocky Mountains, Colorado

Best for big peaks and winter sports

If you want to see the quintessential mountains of the American West, the Rockies in Colorado should be your first stop. Rocky Mountains National Park is a logical starting point, but in truth, there are so many different ways to access this dynamic mountain range – hit the slopes in ski hubs like Vail , Aspen and Telluride, drive the scenic byways of the San Juan range, or pitch camp in one of the state's numerous national forests.

Planning tip: Unless you're from somewhere with similar elevation, you might feel the effects of altitude throughout the Rockies; stay extremely hydrated, take your time on hikes, and skip the alcohol.

10. Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina and Virginia

Best for east coast mountains

While the Rockies tend to get a lot of press – for good reason – the USA's oldest mountain range is a must-see. The Blue Ridge Mountains make up the southern third of the Appalachian mountain chain, and the lush forests wrapped around these rolling hills make for incredible blue-green vistas from the region's many ridges and balds. Dive into the numerous day hikes, cruise the Blue Ridge Parkway , or hike a section of the storied Appalachian Trail .

Man kayaking at a mangrove forest in the Everglades

11. The Everglades, Florida

Best for wildlife watchers

The importance of the Everglades can't be overstated – this sprawling wetland is an International Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a national park, thanks to the diverse profusion of flora and fauna that live here. Paddle through the coastal estuaries and camp among mangroves, or whiz through the numerous waterways via airboat. All the while, keep your eyes peeled for wading birds, manatees, and of course, alligators and crocodiles.

Planning tip: For the best experience, come prepared for the elements: sunscreen and bug spray are essentials.

12. Southwestern Utah

Best for geology lovers

If you want to visit one place in the US that sums up the grandiosity of its natural history, southwestern Utah is the place to go. Home to five of the country's most spectacular national parks, Red Rock Country puts the region's geological past on display with a dazzling amount of artistic flair. Hike the peaks and valleys of Zion and Bryce Canyon , or marvel at the crimson, ochre and amber palette in the cliffs and canyons of Capitol Reef and Canyonlands . And if you want a special treat, watch the sun rise over the sandstone masterpieces at Arches .

Planning tip: Large swaths of this region are extremely remote and sometimes lack cell service, both on the road and on the trail. Always share your plans with others and bring plenty of water in case of emergencies.

This article was first published May 2021 and updated February 2024

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Top Destinations

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Fountain in a park at Savannah, GA

  • 1 Asheville, North Carolina
  • 2 Seattle, Washington
  • 3 Miami Beach, Florida
  • 4 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • 5 Austin, Texas
  • 6 Chicago, Illinois
  • 7 Boulder, Colorado
  • 8 New Orleans, Louisiana
  • 9 Savannah, Georgia
  • 10 San Diego, California
  • 11 Portland, Oregon
  • 12 Palm Springs, California
  • 13 Shelter Island, New York

America’s Best Long Weekend Getaways

Of course you want months off for vacation. Who doesn’t? But sometimes the best we can do is a restorative (or raucous) two-night weekend trip to somewhere fantastic. Here, the highlights from 13 of our favorite quick trips.

See recent posts by Kathryn O'Shea-Evans

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Asheville, North Carolina

For a low-key romantic weekend away, the art-centric mountain town of Asheville won’t do you wrong. Perhaps the crowning jewel of the trendy yet traditional city, the Biltmore Estate simply isn’t to be missed. The 250-room Gilded Age chateau sits on 8,000 acres of highly-curated gardens and meadow (all designed by the very guy behind NYC’s Central Park, Frederick Law Olmsted) with the Blue Ridge Mountains serving as a super casual backdrop. Peeling yourself away from the largest mansion in the U.S., you’ll get your night’s sleep at The Windsor Boutique Hotel , a homey 14-suite rustic stay right in the heart of downtown. End your mini-retreat with brunch at Cúrate , a buzzy tapas-inspired restaurant with crowd pleasers like honey-drizzled fried eggplant and traditional tortilla española.

Explore More: See hotel details | See all Asheville, NC hotels

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Seattle, Washington

Kimpton Hotels know how to turn on the quirk, and the historic Palladian is no exception. Guest rooms at the Belltown spot work screenprinted Mr. T and David Bowie pillows, vintage maps, and smart brass fixtures into an otherwise classic mix. Two blocks away, you’ll find the famous Pike Place Market , your go-to place for quick bites, while luxe sit-down meals are best at The Butcher’s Table , which delivers with a raw bar, inventive sides, and every cut of steak known to man. To walk it all off, head for exhibits at Chihuly Garden and Glass , an IG goldmine dripping in galleries of vibrant glass sculptures—the center of which is a suspended red, yellow, and amber floral piece that lives in the Glasshouse.

Explore More: See hotel details | See all Seattle, WA hotels

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Miami Beach, Florida

Bed down at the ultra-quirky Freehand Miami for a stay packed with vintage travel ephemera, mod furniture (making use of a ROYGBIV palette), and a social courtyard with a pool, bocce, yoga, and art classes. Dinner is to be had at Byblos , a design-savvy, family-style Eastern Mediterranean joint that serves up duck kibbeh, Persian fried chicken, and fattouche, in an impossibly bright (and chic) dining room. Art is all around in the Magic City, and to see the best of it, you don’t need a ticket or a proper tour—simply take yourself on a self-guided walk around Ocean Drive’s Art Deco and Art Nouveau buildings, making sure to stop for photos at favorites like Hotel Breakwater South Beach , the Leslie Hotel , the Essex House Hotel , and The Tides South Beach .

RELATED: Save BIG with these incredible deals on Florida hotels going on right now >>>

Explore More: See hotel details | See all Miami Beach, FL hotels

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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The boutique Palomar Philadelphia deftly spins an eccentric take on a classic American design scheme with neon presidential portraits, rainbow-hued busts, and plush velvet seating. Take an hour or so to hit Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens , a museum, outdoor art installation, and indoor gallery from mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar, which takes up half a block on the once-dilapidated (and now handsomely revitalized) South Street. Or swing by the Barnes Foundation  to see a stunning display of French impressionist and post-impressionist paintings. For some Philly history that isn’t the Liberty Bell, you can check out Eastern State Penitentiary —a massive, fortified prison that once held Al Capone—on an audio-guided tour narrated by the one and only Steve Buscemi. Afterwards, skip the over-hyped cheesesteaks at dueling shops Geno’s and Pat’s , and head instead for the Reading Terminal Market , where you can nom on pad thai, oyster sliders, and sweet dessert crepes all under one roof.

Explore More: See hotel details | See all Philadelphia, PA hotels

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Austin, Texas

A weekend is all you need to see the very best of Texas’s coolest city. Kick it off with a locals-only brunch at Elizabeth St. Cafe , a chic French-Vietnamese boulangerie where coconut water and preserved tangerine margaritas are served in Chinese takeout containers. Newer spots on our radar include the Southern-inspired Colleens Kitchen, Pool Burger (we love the Blue Hawaiian, topped with grilled pineapple slices, bacon, crumbled blue cheese, and Thousand Island dressing), and Aviary Wine & Kitchen. For some retail therapy, head to South Congress for an afternoon at the boutiques; United Apparel Liquidators is the place for designer couture (Balenciaga, Rag & Bone, Givenchy, to name a few) at bargain basement discounts. Don’t leave the city without going for a dip at Barton Springs Pool , the aquifer-fed swimming hole of choice where a young Robert Redford learned how to swim.

RELATED: How to Plan the Ultimate Girls’ Weekend Getaway in Austin

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Chicago, Illinois

You can’t go to Chi-town without stopping by the Art Institute of Chicago . We’d say the same about leafy Garfield Park Conservatory , built on nearly five acres in 1906 and often referred to as “landscape art under glass;” the Chicago architecture river cruise ; and, of course, Wrigley Field . (Yes, all of these are touristy, but so worth it.) You could spend an entire weekend eating your way through this city. Some of our favorite spots to hit up now include the Michelin-starred brewpub, Band of Bohemia; the wildly popular Korean-American restaurant, Parachute (book early!); and the British-inspired Owen and Engine , which serves one of the finest burgers in town. As for where to stay, we’re digging Hotel Zachary , with its stunning grand staircase and knockout views of Wrigley Field from almost every room.

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Boulder, Colorado

Just north of Denver, an outdoorsy paradise where locals are tanned, toned, and likely just back from a trail run awaits. Catch up with the best of them on the one-mile First Flatiron trail , which winds through Boulder’s iconic sandstone slab rock formations. Break for afternoon tea in an intricately carved wooden teahouse at Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse originally made in Tajikistan—it’s a highbrow prelude to an afternoon tour of Avery Brewing , home to the hoppy India Pale Ale. After a couple of brews, head back to your hotel (there’s the funky, low-key Basecamp and more upscale St. Julien Hotel and Spa ) for a quick nap before dinner at the ever-popular northeastern Italian-inspired restaurant Frasca Food and Wine run by Chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson.

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New Orleans, Louisiana

In the land of beignets, po’ boys and kicked-up cajun cuisine, a weekend in NOLA is all about EATING. Start the gluttony with the classic creole-inspired brunch (and 25 cent martinis!) at Commander’s Palace —the wild Louisiana white shrimp stuffed with spicy tasso ham, Crystal hot sauce, pickled okra, and pepper jelly is a must. And we can’t leave out classics like Cafe Du Monde’s famous deep-fried pastry, Bon Ton Cafe’s jambalaya, and Bevi Seafood Co.’s peacemaker po’ boy full of fried shrimp, swiss cheese, and roast beef gravy with a side of seafood gumbo. Newcomers worth checking out include Josephine Estelle , the Italian osteria at the Ace Hotel . Alternatively, skip all of that and go from breakfast to lunch to dinner at the Roch Market food hall. You’ll want to pack those fat pants.

Explore More: See hotel details | See all New Orleans, LA hotels

Fountain in a park at Savannah, GA

Savannah, Georgia

Warning: A trip to Savannah is highly caloric. But if you don’t indulge, you’re not doing it right. The line runs down the block for Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room , for very good reason: the fried chicken, candied yams, and macaroni and cheese are so good, you’ll want to get in line all over again for dinner. Explore the city’s art scene at the various galleries around City Market on your own or sign up for a tour on the second Saturday of every month. History buffs can learn about Savannah’s past at the 1868 Mercer Williams House , the former home of Jim Williams and the site of the killing of Danny Hansford in May of 1981 (remember, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil?). It’s also worth checking out the iconic Bonaventure Cemetery , dripping in Spanish moss and rumored to be full of ghosts—you can shake off the heebie-jeebies with a jalapeño margarita at the 18th century Olde Pink House .

RELATED:   8 Can’t-Miss Things to Do in Savannah

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San Diego, California

Of course, you’ll want to hit the beach in San Diego. La Jolla Cove is our personal favorite, with verdant grass that leads to craggy cliffs, but there’s so much more to do in this SoCal city. Wander the 15 (!) museums at the 1,200-acre Balboa Park , hike to the lagoon at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve , and feast on some of the best Mexican food north of the border at Lucha Libre Gourmet Taco Shop (we love the steak, shrimp, avocado and chipotle taco).

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Portland, Oregon

Portland has a reputation for being the Brooklyn of the West—which isn’t entirely unfounded, given its profusion of microbrews and macro-beards. Your first stop: Ned Ludd , where almost everything on the menu (local rabbit and roasted radishes, or chocolate chip cookies in a cast iron pan, for example) is cooked on a wood fire. Hike through the rainforest to feel the spray of the 627-foot waterfall at Multnomah Falls , just half an hour from downtown Portland. Leave time for a trip to peruse the two million-some volume at Powell’s City of Books , a local favorite on Burnside St.

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Palm Springs, California

Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Elizabeth Taylor — a who’s who of showbiz has long found solace in Palm Springs. Today this desert oasis is the perfect mix of modern and kitschy which attracts a hip L.A. crowd. Spend an afternoon wandering the Uptown Design District, where eye-catching boutiques (we love the Midcentury housewares at Christopher Anthony ) are joined by retro-chic restaurants and bars. Bootlegger Tiki , Palm Canyon Drive’s mixology-centered newcomer, has a 12–2 a.m. happy hour, kitschy luau-themed décor, and hangover-worthy cocktails (we love the cheekily-named Mango Unchained.) If live music is what you seek, check out Melvyn’s , the storied supper club-style hangout once frequented by Ol’ Blue Eyes himself.

RELATED: The Coolest Things to Do in Palm Springs

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Shelter Island, New York

The 12-square-mile atoll sits between the tony North Fork and the Hamptons but feels a hushed world away (more than a third of the area is fiercely protected by the Nature Conservancy). Here, it’s all about unwinding, from the golden-sand beaches and hiking paths to farm fresh produce and sunset cocktails. The island’s newest place to bed down is Chequit Inn , with 37 shabby-chic rooms, C.O. Bigelow toiletries, and complimentary breakfast. For dinner, don’t miss the Montauk pearl oysters and lobster pot pie at Vine Street Café (or pick up goodies to go at the food market out back).

Explore More: See hotel details | See all Shelter Island, NY hotels

What to Pack

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The Best Weekend Getaways to Take Right Now

Here's where to spend a few blissful days for that well-deserved break.

best weekend trips 2020

Every item on this page was chosen by a Town & Country editor. We may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.

Stowe, Vermont

best weekend trips 2020

Stowe may be a popular ski destination, but it's equally appealing in the fall with its abundance of outdoor pursuits. And, obviously, the foliage alone is reason enough to visit. The 68-room Topnotch Resort sits on an expansive 120 acres with views of Mount Mansfield. Hotel activities include horseback riding, ATV tours, biking, wagon rides, and, for something a little more relaxing, a lovely spa.

Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

best weekend trips 2020

Want to escape to a quaint New England seaside village? Look no further than Martha's Vineyard, with its miles of beaches and historic houses. Stay in Edgartown, a former whaling port, and you'll have access to shops, galleries, and restaurants galore. The Christopher is a chic boutique hotel with just 15 rooms that mix modern design with a classic New England aesthetic. For a seamless—and fast (read: no traffic)—trip from the New York area, book a flight on Tradewind Aviation.

Read Reviews The Christopher

Telluride, Colorado

best weekend trips 2020

It is a bit of a trek to get to this Colorado hideaway, but so worth it for its unlimited supply of fresh mountain air. The Madeline Hotel & Residences, an Auberge Resort , is surrounded on three sides by the majestic San Juan Mountains. Horseback ride through Colorado's backcountry, go fly fishing, cycle the mountains, or simply let the hotel set up a picnic feast for you in the middle of a scenic alpine meadow. However you choose to spend your days, you're guaranteed to return home refreshed.

Read Reviews Madeline Hotel & Residents, Auberge Resorts Collection

Washington, Connecticut

best weekend trips 2020

A quick two-hour drive from New York City, Washington, Connecticut has long been a retreat for a very discerning, moneyed crowd, because of its rolling hills, historic architecture, and proximity to the city. Soak that all in at the grand Mayflower Inn & Spa, an Auberge Resort , set on 58 acres of manicured gardens and woodland. There's plenty to do, including hiking, fly-fishing, archery, tennis, and croquet. In 2021, for its 100th anniversary, the hotel was refreshed by celebrated designer Celerie Kemble.

Read Reviews Mayflower Inn & Spa, Auberge Resorts Collection

Whitefish, Montana

lone mountain and big sky montana at night

For a more adventurous weekend getaway, the mountain town of Whitefish, Montana offers four seasons of activities—from skiing Whitefish Mountain to hiking through Glacier National Park. Book a stay at the Lodge at Whitefish Lake , a classic mountain lodge that offers suites in the main building as well as standalone luxury homes on the property.

Read Reviews Lodge at Whitefish Lake

Malibu, California

best weekend trips 2020

This 27-mile stretch of sparkling ocean and beach is the epitome of barefoot luxury, which is why so many Hollywood A-listers own homes here. Hotels are pretty scarce, all the more lending to Malibu's locals-only vibe. Stay at the 47-room Malibu Beach Inn , located right on the water on a strip of coastline nicknamed Billionaire's Beach for all of its famous homeowners, like Larry Ellison, who owns 10 properties. For a real splurge, book a room at the intimate 16-room Nobu Ryokan , an oasis like no other that marries serene Japanese minimalism with the iconic California coast.

Read Reviews Malibu Beach Inn

Read Reviews Nobu Ryokan Malibu

Annapolis, Maryland

annapolis, maryland

Just 45 minutes outside of Washington, D.C., Annapolis feels a world apart. Yes, it's home to the United States Naval Academy, but it's far more than a college town. Embrace its nautical legacy with a visit to the Annapolis Maritime Museum, followed by an afternoon out on the water. And then enjoy Maryland's famous crabs for dinner before retiring to 134 Prince , a luxury inn in a Dutch Colonial home.

Read Reviews 134 Prince

The Berkshires, Massachusetts

autumn colors

Massachusetts' Berkshires are a year-round destination full of scenic hikes, stellar art museums, like MASS MoCA and the Clark Art Institute, and fun seasonal programming, like the region's famous Tanglewood concert series. It's also a hotbed for wellness resorts, including Canyon Ranch Lenox , which is centered around a Gilded Age mansion, and Miraval Berkshires Resort & Spa , which is home to a 29,000-square-foot spa.

Read Review s Canyon Ranch Lenox

Read Reviews Miraval Berkshires Resort & Spa

best weekend trips from us 2020

For East Coasters, Bermuda makes for a perfect weekend getaway. It's just a two-hour flight from NYC and Washington, D.C., meaning it basically takes less time to get there than it does to drive out to the Hamptons. Once you're on the island, head to The Loren at Pink Beach if you're in the mood for a little solitude. The property's one- and three-bedroom villas have their own private pools, making them prime spots for lounging and sipping on Bermuda's famed rum swizzles.

Read Reviews The Loren at Pink Beach

Bar Harbor, Maine

bar harbor,acadia national park,maine

A gateway to Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor is everything you'd want from a coastal New England town, from stellar seafood restaurants to a bustling harbor from which you can easily hop on a boat for the day. The Primrose is a cottage-style inn built in 1878, but completely refreshed with new decor in 2020.

Read Reviews The Primrose

The North Fork, New York

mitchell park  marina greenport, new york

The South Fork of Long Island (aka the Hamptons and Montauk) may be buzzier, but for a more low-key, quiet, and down-to-earth alternative, head to the North Fork. Oysters at Little Creek Oyster Farm in Greenport are a must, as are the homemade pies at Briermere Farms in Riverhead. Then spend your afternoons visiting the area's many wineries, such as Bedell, Sparkling Pointe, and Kontokosta before retiring to the Sound View Greenport , a chic hotel where every room looks out onto the Long Island Sound and has direct access to the private beach.

Read Reviews Sound View Greenport

Asheville, North Carolina

asheville north carolina aerial view at sunset

Drive the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway on your way to Asheville—the fall foliage is particularly spectacular, though the views are majestic no matter the season. There, you'll want to spend plenty of time at the impressive Biltmore Estate, the largest private home in the country, built by George Vanderbilt at the end of the 19th century. While you can't stay in the home itself, you can stay on the property at the Inn on Biltmore Estate , which grants you access to the Biltmore gardens, Antler Hill Village, and the Biltmore Winery.

Read Reviews Inn on Biltmore Estate

Asbury Park, New Jersey

best weekend trips 2020

When the Asbury Hotel opened in 2016, it promised to bring about a much classier era to the oft-maligned Jersey Shore—and, in particular, the city of Asbury Park. It's just an hour away from New York City, but will feel like a proper vacation. Aside from the beach, which is a block away, the Asbury has plenty of al fresco spaces fit for play, including an expansive rooftop space that screens outdoor movies.

Read Reviews The Asbury Hotel

Texas Hill Country

texas bluebonnet field

Easily accessible from both Austin and San Antonio, Texas Hill Country is filled with quaint towns, wineries, and, in the spring, fields of blossoming bluebonnets. Treat yourself to a wellness weekend at the Sage Hill Inn & Spa , a 16-room luxury property set on 88 acres just 25 miles outside of Austin. Spend your days meandering the hiking trails, getting a massage at the spa, or playing a game of pickleball on the courts.

Read Reviews Sage Hill Inn & Spa

Golden Isles, Georgia

Wood, Property, Real estate, Outdoor furniture, Furniture, Interior design, Hardwood, Daylighting, Fixture, Balcony,

Located along Georgia's Atlantic coast between Savannah and Jacksonville, Florida, Jekyll Island is one of the barrier islands comprising the Golden Isles. Here, you can summer like the Vanderbilts, Morgans, Pultizers, and Rockefellers once did at the Jekyll Island Club Resort . There are loads of leisure activities, 20-plus miles of paved bicycle exploration, and two open-air restaurants. It's easy to see why some of the great American dynasties returned here year after year.

Read Reviews Jekyll Island Club Resor t

The Finger Lakes, New York

waterfall and bridge at watkins glen state park, new york

The West Coast might get the lion's share of attention when it comes to wine regions, but the Finger Lakes is perfect for a weekend away for East Coasters or Midwesterners. Explore the eleven lakes, the charming towns that surround them, and the scenic gorges. Make your home base Aurora on Cayuga Lake. It's home to the Inns of Aurora , a collection of five boutique hotels in historic buildings.

Read Reviews Inns of Aurora

Mackinac Island, Michigan

aerial view of mackinac island, michigan, usa

Retreat to Michigan's Mackinac Island for a leisurely weekend in what might feel like a bygone era. The island, located in between the state's Lower and Upper Peninsulas on Lake Huran, has banned cars, resulting in quite a peaceful atmosphere. Stay at the historic Grand Hotel , which bills its 660-foot-long porch as the world's longest.

Read Reviews Grand Hotel

Sedona, Arizona

cathedral rock near sedona

Sedona has the perfect blend of adventure and relaxation—the hiking is superb, as are the spa resorts. The 70-acre Enchantment Resort has the best of both worlds, with 50 hiking trails and an extraordinary destination spa called Mii Amo. (As of September 2022, the spa is closed for renovations, but will reopen in late 2022 or early 2023.) The property is also close to downtown Sedona, where you can get your fill of shopping between art galleries and funky boutiques.

Read Reviews Enchantment Resort

Lexington, Kentucky

horses grazing in pasture, elevated view

Kentucky has two major claims to fame: horse racing and bourbon. You'll find both in and around Lexington, between the city's famous Keeneland Race Course and the 15 distilleries within 45 miles of the city. While in town, stay at the ultra-modern 21c Museum Hotel Lexington , which also functions as a museum.

Read Reviews 21c Museum Hotel Lexington

Cape May, New Jersey

cape may beach ave

Cape May is perhaps the most charming of all of New Jersey's beach towns, thanks to the colorful Victorian-era houses that line its streets. Spend the day at the beach or peruse the shops of the Washington Street pedestrian mall, which is particularly festive in December. Congress Hall is the grande dame in this seaside resort town, and it's been hosting guests since 1816.

Read Reviews Congress Hall

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Leena Kim is an editor at Town & Country , where she covers travel, jewelry, education, weddings, and culture.

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Stefanie Waldek is a Brooklyn-based writer covering architecture, design, and travel. She's worked on staff at Architectural Digest, ARTnews, and Oyster.com, a TripAdvisor company, and has contributed to Condé Nast Traveler, The Washington Post, Design Milk, and Hunker, among others. When she's not dreaming about midcentury chairs, you can find her re-watching The X-Files,  likely in an airport lounge or on a plane.

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68 Best Places to Visit in the USA in 2024 (Ultimate Bucket List)

Posted on Last updated: January 12, 2024

Home » USA Travel Inspiration » 68 Best Places to Visit in the USA in 2024 (Ultimate Bucket List)

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Charlotte Bailey

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Working on your USA bucket list? Well, then you’ll love this list of the most mind-blowing places to visit in the USA!

Bustling cities, quaint towns, spectacular national parks, lively beaches, and out-of-this-world islands. America is a great country with incredible people and sights–that’s a fact.

While there are many popular places to travel in the US, there are a bunch of beautiful places equally impressive, but that doesn’t get as much of the bulk of the attention.

Well, that’s about to change. I’ve put together a list of the best places to visit in the USA in most states. How does that sound?

It was pretty challenging to keep a list of 68 places because the country is dotted with must-visit spots, and I wanted to make sure you were inspired about different types of destinations.

Still, I asked locals and travelers with personal experience who have spent years traveling to all corners of the United States. They told me below (some) of the best places to travel in the US, and I genuinely hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did (to be honest, I LOVED it!).

Also, I hope this article will sparkle your wanderlust and that you’ll add many of these places to your USA bucket list.

Table of Contents

How I Structured This USA Bucket List

To make it more organized, I divided this article into the best places to travel to in the US by category, so cities, towns, national parks, beaches, islands, and some other places and experiences. I hope you enjoy it!

Best Cities to Visit in the USA

Here are the best cities to travel to in the US in no particular order.

1. Austin, Texas

Exploring the city’s graffiti walls is one of the things to do on a weekend in Austin

Austin, Texas , lacks professional sports teams but boasts sunny weather and celebrates Eeyore’s birthday annually.

As the capital and fourth-most populous city in Texas, Austin is renowned as the state’s most progressive, earning the nickname “Hippie Haven.”

Notable features include the only nude beach in Texas , which is a short day trip from Downtown , old-fashioned moonlight towers, and the largest urban bat colony in North America at Congress Avenue Bridge during spring and summer evenings.

While staying in Austin , be sure to hit up the Cathedral of Junk, grab a tour of all the highlights, sip some local beer , and don’t pass up an opportunity to indulge in a local culinary favorite: breakfast tacos–a must in any Austin itinerary !

If you’re more into nature, there are many hiking trails in Austin worth checking out, both throughout the city but also in nearby state parks . This can honestly be a super romantic things to do with your significant other , but it can also be a fantastic activity for those visiting Austin with kids .

Austin, with its unique charm, is a must on any USA bucket list, and the Museum of the Weird is a fascinating attraction to explore.

Things to do in Austin

  • Check out the Congress Bridge Bats
  • Take a swim in Barton Springs
  • Stroll around Zilker Park
  • Enjoy Live Music

Where to stay in Austin

Here’s a handy article about excellent Vrbos and Airbnbs in Austin , including lofts and townhouses.

You might also like: 11 Festive Ways to Celebrate Christmas in Austin

2. Boston, Massachusetts

Dining at the top of the Hub is one of the romantic things to do in Boston

Boston, the capital of Massachusetts, is one of the oldest U.S. cities, dating back to 1630.

Rich in history, it played a pivotal role in Puritan settlement and the Revolutionary War.

Today, Boston is a top urban vacation spot, attracting around 19 million domestic and three million international tourists annually.

History enthusiasts can explore Faneuil Hall and other landmarks like The Paul Revere House, Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, Old South Meeting House, and Freedom Trail.

Beyond history, Boston is celebrated for its New England seafood and craft beers, making it an enjoyable destination for couples and visitors alike.

Things to do in Boston

  • Wander around Boston Common and the Public Garden
  • Catch a ball game at Fenway Park
  • Take in the beautiful Steward Gardner Museum
  • Walk the Freedom Trail

3. Seattle, Washington

Public Market Center in Seattle

Seattle, Washington, the urban heart of the Pacific Northwest, is a must for coffee lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, and seafood aficionados.

Nestled in an ecologically diverse region with stunning beaches and mountains, Seattle offers the unique experience of sunbathing in the morning and skiing or mountain biking in the afternoon.

Harbor cruise tours provide a serene alternative for nature appreciation. Key attractions include the Seattle Space Needle, Fremont Troll, Gum Wall, and the Museum of Flight, with Kerry Park offering a picture-perfect view of the skyline.

Just like Boston on the East Coast, Seattle boasts outstanding seafood, particularly delectable oysters.

Whether you have one or three days in Seattle , don’t miss the chance to savor a cup of coffee at the original Starbucks in Pike Place Market.

Just for fun: posting any pictures of the city on Instagram? Check out here my favorite quotes about Seattle so you can use them in your captions!

Things to do in Seattle

  • Shop and eat at Pike Place Market
  • Climb the iconic Space Needle
  • Be in awe at Chihuly Garden and Glass
  • Join a harbor cruise tour

Where to stay in Seattle

I wrote a handy guide on exactly where to stay in Seattle to make your trip planning experience less overwhelming. I hope it helps!

4. Houston, Texas

visiting Space Center Houston is one of the best things to do in Houston, Texas

Houston, Texas , the most populous city in the Southern United States and the country’s largest by area, is more than just a financial hub.

A weekend in Houston offers a taste of its vibrant and diverse atmosphere. The Houston Galleria, a four-story retail haven with 375 stores, is a must-visit, especially during Christmas .

For civic engineering enthusiasts, the seven-mile underground pedestrian tunnel links 95 blocks, 20 feet below the surface.

Nature enthusiasts can explore the city’s 337 parks with endless hiking trails , including the Houston Arboretum, and visit the Museum of Natural Science. There are also a bunch of pleasant state parks and beaches near Houston .

Popular tourist attractions include Old Market Square, Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark, and the Space Center, ideal for those visiting with kids . Houston’s thriving food scene caters to every palate, from vegan gourmet to down-home BBQ.

Chinatown and the Mahatma Gandhi District offer diverse Asian flavors, while local beer, Houston breweries , and rooftop bars add to the culinary experience.

For a romantic dining experience , Houston boasts numerous romantic and rooftop restaurants .

Good to know: the best times to visit Houston are between February through April and September through November, when the weather is best.

Things to do in Houston

  • Learn about the dark sky at Space Center Houston
  • Grab something to eat at Chinatown
  • Check out the Museum of Natural Science
  • Stroll around Buffalo Bayou Park

5. New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana is another winter vacation in the US not to miss

Known for its vibrant Mardi Gras celebrations, New Orleans offers year-round excitement, making it an ideal romantic getaway in the US .

Rooted in French and Spanish influences, the city boasts unique culinary, cultural, and musical traditions. The motto “Laissez les bon temps rouler” reflects its lively spirit.

Enjoying the French Quarter’s ambience with live jazz and buskers is a tradition, with numerous restaurants to explore.

Art and history enthusiasts can visit the National World War II Museum, New Orleans Museum of Art, and the Besthoff Sculpture Garden.

Don’t miss touring the oldest cathedral in the US, St. Louis Cathedral, built in 1718. Plan your weekend trip between December and May to avoid the sweltering hurricane season from June to November .

Things to do in New Orleans

  • Wander through the French Quarter
  • Go bar hopping on Bourbon Street
  • Take a Voodoo tour
  • Fill up with Creole food

Where to stay in New Orleans

Oh, New Orleans! This bustling and colorful city has so much to offer, right? I know there is a lot to see, and you might be wondering what area would be best to stay so you can be near all the attractions. That’s why I wrote this super useful guide on where to stay in New Orleans . It has a nice summary of my favorite hotels in the city. I hope it’s useful to you!|

Read next: 15 Ways to Celebrate Christmas in New Orleans

6. Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta, Georgia is one of the warm winter vacations in the US

Atlanta , the seventh-most visited city in the United States , is a modern metropolis rooted in the South, nestled at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.

As Georgia’s most populated region, it features three distinct skylines: downtown, midtown, and the upscale district of Buckhead, often referred to as the Beverly Hills of Atlanta.

Downtown is a bustling commercial and retail hub, while midtown combines residential areas with vibrant clubs and restaurants .

Atlanta’s appeal as a top U.S. destination lies in attractions like the world’s largest aquarium, the Georgia Aquarium, as well as Legoland, Six Flags Over Georgia, numerous museums, and parks.

The city’s thriving lounge and club scene caters to diverse tastes, from honky-tonk to hip-hop. Atlanta is also known for its festivals, offering a variety of options to coordinate with your weekend trip .

Things to do in Atlanta

  • Learn about ocean life at the Georgia Aquarium
  • Take in the beautiful flora at the Atlanta Botanical Garden
  • Check out Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site
  • Get curious at the World of Coca-Cola

Where to stay in Atlanta

I wrote this article with a short list of my favorite hotels in Atlanta, Georgia to help you plan a fantastic trip to the Big A. Still, if you’re visiting it with your S.O., you might want to read this other article about my favorite romantic getaways in the city .

7. Orlando, Florida

Orlando, Florida is one of the best spring break destinations in the US

Orlando, a top global tourism destination, offers attractions like Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, Legoland, Madame Tussauds, Universal Orlando, Fun Spot America, and the Kennedy Space Center.

With over 100 lakes offering recreational activities, Orlando is a diverse destination featuring family-friendly restaurants, golf courses, and outlet shopping malls.

The city’s vibrant theatre and live music scene, along with tourist-friendly nightlife, add to its appeal.

Visitors can easily find deals in Orlando and explore nearby beaches to experience the Sunshine State’s coastal beauty.

Things to do in Orlando

  • Drink butter beer at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
  • Have lots of fun at Universal’s Islands of Adventure
  • Be in awe at Discovery Cove
  • Have your dreams come true in the Magic Kingdom Park

8. San Francisco, California

San Francisco, California is one of the most romantic getaways in the United States

San Francisco, among the most expensive yet charming cities in the country, boasts famous landmarks like the Painted Ladies, Pier 39, Lombard Street, and the iconic Golden Gate, the most famous bridge in America .

Ideal for architecture enthusiasts and those fond of old-timey throwbacks like the city’s trolley system, San Francisco also offers diverse museums covering modern art, science, and selfies.

Families can explore the Walt Disney Family Museum and the Exploratorium, while true crime enthusiasts shouldn’t miss the Alcatraz tour . For couples, San Francisco provides a range of options for a fun date night , including wine bars , parks, and adventurous outings.

Despite California’s sunny reputation, San Francisco is cooler, with nighttime temperatures in June and July ranging between the mid-50s and mid-60s, so it’s wise to pack light sweaters.

Things to do in San Francisco

  • Go on an Alcatraz tour
  • Photograph the Golden Gate Bridge
  • Check out the historic cable cars
  • Say aww to the sea lions basking at Pier 39

9. San Diego, California

Visiting the Botanical Building is one of the things to do in one day in San Diego

San Diego, known as America’s Finest City, should be on every USA bucket list. Enjoying great weather year-round, the city offers beautiful beaches, surfable waves, and stunning sunsets, making it an ideal vacation destination, even for just a day in San Diego .

Explore Balboa Park for museums and galleries, and visit the historic district with buildings dating back to the 1700s.

Seagoing enthusiasts can discover notable vessels at the San Diego Maritime Museum, including the Star of India. The iconic San Diego Zoo, renowned for its cageless exhibits, is a major tourist attraction.

For foodies, the Gaslamp Quarter is the place to be, offering Mexican cuisine and seafood, while Little Italy provides delightful Italian fare, especially if you’re planning on going on a fun date in San Diego .

After dining, take a stroll through the Midway Museum or Seaport Village for a perfect end to your day in San Diego.

Things to do in San Diego

  • Check out the incredible equipment and airplanes at USS Midway Museum
  • Don’t miss the cuties at San Diego Zoo
  • Photograph the sea lions in La Jolla Cove
  • Stroll around the Balboa Park

10. Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois is one of the best spring break destinations in the US

Chicago, often called the Windy City, is situated along Lake Michigan and is a global attraction for its vibrant art scenes, distinctive architecture, cultural offerings, and excellent shopping.

Renowned as a focal point for 20th-century art and architecture, the city features works by Picasso, Chagall, and Frank Lloyd Wright.

Chicago is home to world-class museums like the Art Institute of Chicago, housing diverse artworks spanning thousands of years in various media, including sculpture, painting, decorative arts, architectural drawings, and impressionist and post-impressionist paintings.

For stunning views , visit Millennium Park in downtown Chicago, where the Cloud Gate sculpture reflects its surroundings and the nearby Crown Fountain projects images into flowing water, creating a unique visual experience.

Things to do in Chicago

  • See why the Art Institute of Chicago is the only museum in the world to be top-ranked by TripAdvisor four years in a row
  • Stroll around the Millennium Park
  • Take a selfie in front of the Cloud Gate, aka The Bean
  • Check out Chicago Architecture Center

11. Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada is one of the best spring break destinations in the US

For gambling enthusiasts, Las Vegas, Nevada, with its 30 flashy casinos on the main strip and numerous others on side streets, is the ultimate destination in the United States.

However, if gambling isn’t your preference, Las Vegas still offers a plethora of over-the-top experiences in the original “Sin City.”

From themed resorts like the Venetian to the French ambiance of Paris Las Vegas, the city is a glittering adult theme park.

Las Vegas is known for its extravagant options, with world-renowned chefs and opportunities for free food through deals and complimentary buffets.

The city also stands out with its never-ending entertainment choices and lively daytime pool parties, making it the perfect place for those ready to let loose and have fun.

Still, if you also want to enjoy the surroundings, consider going on a day trip to one of the many national parks near Las Vegas . You’ll be surprised at how many places you can visit near Las Vegas by car .

Things to do in Las Vegas

  • Watch the show at the Fountains of Bellagio
  • Hike at Red Rock Canyon
  • Be in awe at the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Garden
  • Be blinded by the lights at The Strip

12. Charlotte, North Carolina

Charlotte is one of the best places to visit in the US

Charlotte, North Carolina, once the fastest-growing city in the country in the aughts, has evolved into a world-class destination, making it a must-visit on any USA bucket list.

Home to the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, the city hosts major events like the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 and the Wells Fargo Golf Championship, with the NASCAR Hall of Fame catering to driving enthusiasts.

Cultural offerings include the renowned Charlotte Ballet, and for Renaissance festival enthusiasts, the Carolina Renaissance Festival operates in October and November.

Popular annual events like Taste of Charlotte, Moo and Brew Fest, and the Yiasou Greek Festival add to the vibrant scene.

Referred to as the Queen City, Charlotte boasts stellar restaurants, attracting foodies looking for a unique weekend getaway.

To avoid crowds, plan your visit between March and May or September and November, as summer tends to be the most crowded travel season in Charlotte.

Things to do in Charlotte

  • Learn more about Billy Graham and his message of God’s love at Billy Graham Library
  • Enjoy amazing artifacts, interactive exhibits, and simulator rides at NASCAR Hall of Fame
  • Have lots of fun Carowinds
  • Learn a bunch about science at Discovery Place Science

13. Washington, DC

Washington is one of the best places to visit in the US

Washington, DC, home to crucial buildings like the White House and Capitol, is a quintessential destination for Americans, attracting nearly 25 million tourists annually.

Allocate a day for exploring the monuments and consider educational double-decker city tours .

History enthusiasts can view the nation’s founding documents at the National Archives Museum. Notable annual events include the Cherry Blossom Festival in spring and July 4th celebrations in summer.

While Washington, DC, is beautiful year-round, it’s an excellent choice for winter and fall vacations in the US , offering a quieter experience without the crowds.

Things to do in Washington DC

  • Photograph Lincoln Memorial
  • Have an incredible and free experience at the National Gallery of Art
  • Learn about wildlife at Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
  • Take a tour at the Library of Congress

14. New York, New York

New York is one of the best places to visit in the US

New York City, famously known as “The Big Apple,” is a must on the USA bucket list, being arguably the most famous city globally.

Renowned for Broadway shows, it houses top museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Museum of Natural History, Guggenheim, MOMA, Whitney, and the Cloisters.

The city features iconic parks like Central Park, Prospect Park, and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Explore the diverse neighborhoods, each with its unique personality, from Harlem’s cultural roots to SoHo’s art enclave and the Upper West Side’s old-money stronghold.

New York offers a life-changing experience, and its incredible restaurants include the historic Lombardi’s in Little Italy, serving some of the best pizza.

With an impressive 38 eateries holding Michelin stars, New York promises a culinary delight. Bon appétit!

Things to do in New York City

  • Take a stroll around Central Park
  • Pay your respect at the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum
  • Climb the Empire States Building
  • Experience one of the best museums in the world, the Metropolitan Museum of Art

15. Miami, Florida

Miami is one of the best places to visit in the US

Miami, one of the best vacation cities in the United States, boasts aqua waters, eclectic architecture, and a vibrant party vibe. Its golden-sand beaches are stunning, attracting a stylish crowd.

The city is an art hub with galleries lining palm-lined streets, hosting major international exhibits and festivals like Biennale.

Notable museums include the Pérez Art Museum Miami and The Bass, with science enthusiasts recommended to visit The Philip at Patricia Frost Museum of Science.

Miami’s legendary nightlife beckons, so don comfortable dancing shoes. Before hitting the night scene, fuel up at one of the incredible restaurants in Little Havana.

Things to do in Miami

  • Hit the beach, I mean, it’s Miami baby
  • Take in the beauty of Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
  • Photograph the colorful Wynwood Walls
  • Eat and drink at Bayside Marketplace

16. Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia is one of the best spring break destinations in the US

Savannah, Georgia , stands out as one of the most beautiful places in the USA with cobblestone streets, manicured parks, and Victorian mansions.

A slightly more conservative cousin to New Orleans, Savannah shares a love for jazz, great food, and throwback architecture, offering a more buttoned-up and slower-paced atmosphere.

Situated on the Savannah River, the city was once a crucial port in early America, evident in landmarks like the oldest black church, First African Baptist (1777), and the third oldest synagogue, Mickve Israel (1735).

For incredible photos, explore Wormsloe Historic Site, Olde Pink House, Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, Owens-Thomas House, E Bryant Street (Rainbow Row), Forsyth Park, and the Historic District.

Savannah’s notable features include 22 squares, famous cemeteries, historic forts, and excellent shopping on Broughton and Bull Streets.

To experience the spookier side, take a Savannah Ghost Tour . Comfortable walking shoes are a must to explore the city’s stunning streets. Visiting in December? Savannah is a delightful place during Christmastime .

Things to do in Savannah

  • Wander through Savannah Historic District
  • Take in the gorgeous Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
  • Relax at Forsyth Park
  • Go on a Savannah Ghost Tour

Where to stay in Savannah

Savannah is easily among my favorite US cities! There are many hotels with exquisite architecture you can stay on, many of which are the perfect weekend getaway from Atlanta .

17. Portland, Oregon

Portland is one of the best places to visit in the US

“Keep Portland Weird” defines Oregon’s largest city, living up to its promise with quirky traditions like residents knitting for trees.

Nestled on the banks of the Willamette River and at the foothills of Mount Hood, Portland is a lush emerald city boasting 10,000 acres of public parks, including serene spots like the Japanese Garden and the International Rose Garden.

Explore Forest Park, one of the country’s most extensive urban forests, or visit landmarks like Old Town, Pioneer Square, and the iconic Portland Stag sign.

For outdoor enthusiasts, the surrounding area offers miles of hiking trails and camping grounds, with Multnomah Falls, Portland’s scenic highlight, just 40 minutes away.

Urban dwellers can enjoy the vibrant Pearl District, buzzing with restaurants, cafes, shops, galleries, and theaters.

Don’t leave without trying Portland’s culinary stars: ice cream at Salt & Straw and a doughnut from Voodoo.

Things to do in Portland

  • Smell the flowers at the International Rose Test Garden
  • Don’t miss Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
  • Walk the pathways at Portland Japanese Garden
  • Check out Pittock Mansion

18. San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio is one of the places to add to your  USA bucket list

San Antonio , my favorite city in the Lone Star State, is an ideal November destination. A weekend here involves romantic River Walk dining and exploring historical missions, a cherished activity in the Texas Hill Country .

While the infamous Alamo is a highlight, San Antonio boasts six historic missions collectively forming the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.

Mission San Jose stands out as the most crucial, offering an intact glimpse into the past with Native American living quarters, a church, workshops, and more.

My personal favorite, Mission Concepcion, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the oldest unrestored mission in the country, featuring a frozen-in-time chapel.

A visit to the iconic Alamo, with its pivotal role in Texas history and associations with figures like James Bowie, Davy Crockett, and William Travis, completes the mission experience.

Things to do in San Antonio

  • Savor Southern comfort food in a local restaurant
  • Sip Texan beer in one of the breweries in town
  • Enjoy warm days in a beach
  • Or go on a day trip to a state park and discover many hiking trails in the region
  • Stroll around a park in the city

Where to stay in San Antonio

The Alamo’s is located right downtown next to historic hotels and places to stay like The Menger and Crockett Hotel , or choose any of the many hotels on the River Walk . Like everywhere in Texas, you’ll need a car to get around because the missions are spread out across San Antonio.

Erin from Sol Salute

Read next: 16 Best National Park in Texas

19. Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles is one of the places to add to your USA bucket list

Los Angeles, the hub of the American film industry, is more than just wealth and glamour. Science enthusiasts can explore the La Brea Tar Pits, showcasing prehistoric fossils dating back 40,000 years.

For sun-seekers, Los Angeles offers beaches like Santa Monica, Malibu, Venice, Manhattan, and Hermosa—ideal for people-watching. The city boasts a wealth of museums, including the Grammy Museum, Natural History Museum, and the Museum of Broken Relationships.

Families can enjoy Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood, while those seeking a fun date can explore various options. For a glimpse into luxury living, Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive are must-visit destinations.

Keep an eye out for celebrities, but remember, approaching them for selfies may not be well-received.

Things to do in Los Angeles

  • Take in the LA from Griffith Observatory
  • Marvel at world-class art of the Getty Center
  • Get ready for lots of fun at Universal Studios Hollywood
  • Visit the iconic Battleship USS Iowa Museum

20. Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville is one of the best places to visit in the US

Known as “Music City,” Nashville, Tennessee , is to country music as Los Angeles is to motion pictures. 

It’s home to the Country Music Hall of Fame, Johnny Cash Museum, Glen Campbell Museum, and the legendary Ryman Auditorium.

The Grand Ole Opry — America’s cathedral to gospel, country, and bluegrass — is also a Nashville staple.

In the mood for a gorgeous stroll? Head to the city’s 55-acre botanical garden.

If you’d rather walk and shop, make a beeline for the Gulch and 12th South, both neighborhoods are filled with locally owned boutiques and restaurants .

Good to know: Understand that you cannot buy liquor on Sundays in Nashville — and ice tea is called sweet tea.

Things to do in Nashville

  • Tour the famous grand Ole Opry
  • Have drinks at Ole Smoky Distillery & Yee-Haw Brewery
  • Catch a concert at Ryman Auditorium
  • Check out Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Where to stay in Nashville

If you’re spending more than one day in the city, here’s a guide on where to stay in Nashville that will get your hotel search started.

Best Small Towns to Visit in the USA

Here are the best small towns to travel to in the US in no particular order.

21. Fredericksburg, Texas

Fredericksburg is one of the best places in the US

Fredericksburg, Texas , a charming German town with deep roots (and restaurants ), might not be on every USA bucket list, but it’s on mine for its unique history.

Founded in 1846 and named after Prince Frederick of Prussia, it was a stronghold of Texas German, a dialect favored by Bavarian immigrants.

The city is a geographical marvel with notable rock formations like Enchanted Rock, Balanced Rock, and Cross Mountain. Known as the Peach Capital of Texas, Fredericksburg is a peach lover’s paradise.

Adding to its appeal, Fredericksburg boasts world-class wineries , making it a great destination for wine enthusiasts.

While staying in Fredericksburg , stock up on peaches and consider a wine tour , but avoid traveling between June and August due to the intense heat.

Things to do in Fredericksburg

  • Sip Texan wine on a wine tour
  • Learn about the town’s German roots
  • Pay the National Museum of the Pacific War a visit
  • Climb the Enchanted Rock

Where to stay in Fredericksburg

Good to know: while there are a bunch of incredible Airbnbs in Fredericksburg to enjoy a laid-back getaway, you’ll want to stay in one of these romantic cabins if you’re traveling with your significant other.

22. Stanley, Idaho

Stanley is one of the places to visit in the US

Most people associate Idaho with potatoes, but Stanley ranks as one of the best USA travel destinations for people who enjoy the outdoors. 

Gateway to the Sawtooth Mountain range and Salmon River, Stanley is where you go to enjoy the fresh air and incredible mountain views.

The hike to Alice Lake is the area’s most popular. Don’t forget to make sure your phone is charged before leaving because you’ll want snapshots.

Oh, and only 63 people live in Stanley. So go for the nature — not the nightlife.

Things to do in Stanley

  • Go boating at Redfish Lake
  • Hike from Iron Creek to Sawtooth Lake
  • Check out Stanley Museum
  • Don’t miss the Yankee Fork Gold Dredge

23. Breckenridge, Colorado

Breckenridge is one of the best places to visit in the US

If you like to ski, add Breckenridge, Colorado, to your USA bucket list. The world-class resort and slopes attract visitors from around the world between November and April. So yeah, it’s a fantastic winter vacation in the US .

Summer in the region is also a good time, with hiking, fly-fishing, white-water rafting, and Lake Dillon boating on tap.

Fans of extreme sports should visit during the annual Winter Dew Tour, which draws a large crowd of XGame enthusiasts.

Also, remember that Colorado is a high-altitude region. If you have health conditions, consult with a doctor before booking a trip.

Things to do in Breckenridge

  • Stroll around the Main Street and take in its beauty
  • Hike to the Sapphire Point Overlook
  • Drive the Boreas Pass Road
  • Ski the slopes

24. Whitefish, Montana

Whitefish is one of the places to add to your USA bucket list

Known as “Montana’s Outdoor Recreation Playground,” Whitefish, Montana, is a prime destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

The area offers diverse activities such as fishing, boating, cycling, paddling, snowshoeing, skiing, hiking, llama trekking, and art classes capturing the state’s renowned “big sky.”

Downtown Whitefish features charming boutiques, and Glacier National Park provides stunning photo opportunities. Golfing and horseback riding are popular pastimes, weather permitting.

The optimal time to visit for sightseeing is between June and August, as fall and winter weather can be challenging.

Things to do in Whitefish

  • Watch a performance at Alpine Theatre Project
  • Grab a Espresso Martini at Spotted Bear Spirits
  • Check out Whitefish Depot
  • Hit the City Beach

25. Fairbanks, Alaska

Coldfoot, Alaska is one of the cool winter vacations in the US

Witnessing the Northern Lights in Alaska is a must on any traveler’s USA bucket list. While some places in the lower 48 may offer glimpses, Alaska, particularly Fairbanks, boasts the most brilliant and vibrant displays.

Fairbanks, often overlooked by visitors, provides stunning views of the Northern Lights in the entire state. Keep in mind that the Aurora Borealis is visible from late August to mid-April, with the summer months offering almost 24 hours of daylight.

For the best experience, consider Murphy Dome, a locals’ favorite about 20 miles outside Fairbanks.

Although there’s no guarantee of a nightly show, they tend to be more active in the late night and early morning hours.

Apart from this natural wonder, Fairbanks offers plenty of unique activities. Explore local history at Pioneer Park, hike Angel Rocks, or unwind in the natural hot springs at Chena Hot Springs, surrounded by nature.

Fairbanks is also a three-hour drive from Denali National Park, home to over six million acres of untamed Alaskan nature and wildlife.

Christina Ropp from Littles, Life, & Laughter

Things to do in Fairbanks

  • Watch the northern lights dancing in the sky
  • Learn natural history at the University of Alaska Museum of the North
  • Tour the Running Reindeer Ranch
  • Discover all facets of Alaskan culture at Morris Thompson Cultural & Visitors Center

26. Leavenworth, Washington

Leavenworth is one of the best places to visit in the US

Have you always wanted to visit a traditional Bavarian village? If so, vacation in Leavenworth, a quaint town in the shadow of the Cascade Mountains in west-central Washington State.

Leavenworth was modeled to resemble a German town. The structures are built in the old-fashioned Bavarian style, complete with wood balconies outside every window and towers galore.

Like many places in the Pacific Northwest, Leavenworth is known for its wealth of outdoor activities.

Horseback riding is big, as is hiking in the surrounding wild. There’s also a ski slope and cross-country trails for winter recreation.

Still, set aside an hour for the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum.

Things to do in Leavenworth

  • Interact with reindeers at Leavenworth Reindeer Farm
  • Breathe fresh air at Waterfront Park
  • Walk around Front Street Park
  • Sip some beer at Icicle Brewing Company

Where to stay in Leavenworth

Here are some hotels you’ll absolutely love, including some with Bavarian vibes.

27. Annapolis, Maryland

Annapolis is one of the best places to visit in the US

Annapolis, Maryland, the state’s capital on the Chesapeake Bay, is often overlooked, but I consider it one of the top places to visit in the United States.

Known for its sailing culture, pristine beauty, and charming downtown with red cobblestone streets, brick buildings, and gaslamp street lights, Annapolis offers a picturesque setting.

Rich in history, the city features landmarks like the Banneker-Douglass Museum, Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial, United States Naval Academy Museum, Hammond–Harwood House, St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, and Thurgood Marshall Monument.

Additionally, Annapolis is renowned for its incredible seafood, especially crab, making it a delightful culinary destination.

Things to do in Annapolis

  • Tour the U.S. Naval Academy
  • Check out eateries and shops at Annapolis Historic District
  • Learn more about history at Maryland State House
  • Tour the historic house at William Paca House & Garden

28. Chincoteague, Virginia

Chincoteague is one of the best places to visit in the US

Home of the Assateague horses, one of the few wild horse populations in the United States, Chincoteague offers a classic summer vacation vibe without the crushing crowds. In a word, Chincoteague is all about serenity.

During the summer, Chincoteague’s population swells somewhat as visitors flock in from across the country. But it’s never a massive crowd. 

People come for the beaches, ice cream parlors, miniature golf, cute restaurants, and a glimpse of the wild horses.

Beebe Ranch and the Museum of Chincoteague Island are also popular with tourists.

Things to do in Chincoteague

  • Photograph the wild ponies at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge
  • Check out the interactive exhibits at Museum of Chincoteague
  • Sip local beer at Black Narrows Brewing
  • Take a look at the oldest building on the island: Captain Timothy Hill House

29. Stowe, Vermont

Stowe is one of the best places to visit in the US

If you appreciate the pastoral beauty of New England, Stowe, Vermont, might make your list of best places to visit in the USA.

Dubbed the “Ski Capital of the East,” Stowe is a classic alpine town, showcasing a charming village and ranking among the most idyllic places in the country.

Even if skiing isn’t your interest, Stowe is incredibly picturesque in fall and spring, with more affordable rates during these seasons.

Key attractions include Stoweflake Mountain Resort and Spa, Stowe Mountain Resort, Trapp Family Lodge, the Stowe Recreation Path, and the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum.

With visitors from all over coming for the slopes, Stowe boasts excellent restaurants, and indulging in fresh oysters, sourced from Chincoteague’s waters, is a culinary highlight.

Things to do in Stowe

  • Go for a Stowe Recreation Path
  • Ride the gondola to Mount Mansfield
  • Photograph the Moss Glen Falls
  • Experience New England in Smugglers Notch State Park

30. Broken Bow, Oklahoma

Broken Bow is one of the best US destinations

Broken Bow, Oklahoma, serves as the gateway to Hochatown State Park, Beavers Bend Resort Park, and Cedar Creek Golf Course, featuring the picturesque Broken Bow Lake.

The area offers abundant outdoor activities, including fly fishing, canoeing, paddleboarding, horseback riding, and kayaking.

Families can enjoy mini-golf courses and go-karting tracks, while gambling enthusiasts can explore legal gaming options in Broken Bow.

Nature enthusiasts can visit the Forest Heritage Center Museum, and for those seeking a challenge, nearby Hochatown offers a 29,000-square-foot wooden maze along with puzzle and escape rooms.

Things to do in Broken Bow

  • Sip some wine in Girls Gone Wine
  • Go fishing at Broken Bow Lake
  • Relax at Beavers Bend Brewery
  • Check out a variety of animals at Hochatown Petting Zoo

31. Hatteras, North Carolina

Hatteras is one of the cool US destinations

Hatteras, North Carolina, located in the famed Outer Banks, is renowned for its natural beauty and historical significance.

Visitors can enjoy wildlife watching, windsurfing, and fishing in Pamlico Sound, along with snorkeling and scuba diving around the area’s shipwrecks. Additionally, beach lounging and mini-golf are popular pastimes.

It’s essential to note that Hurricane season in the Outer Banks spans from June to November, so travelers planning a visit during this period should consider obtaining travel insurance.

Things to do in Hatteras

  • Hit the beach at Cape Hatteras National Seashore
  • Climb the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
  • Check out the absurd amount of shells at Frisco Beach
  • Go on a turtle patrol program at Hatteras Island Ocean Center

32. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Bethlehem is one of the best places to visit in the US

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, a charming small town, deserves a spot on your USA bucket list with its exciting activities and attractions.

Often overshadowed by Philadelphia, Bethlehem offers plenty to explore, especially during Christmas, earning its title as the Christmas City.

The festive season brings highlights like Christmas markets. The town features attractions such as the Hoover Mason Trestle, National Museum of Industrial History, Musikfest, Apollo Grill, Fegley’s Brew Works, and 1741 on the Terrace.

Despite its history and the shift from its primary industry, Bethlehem thrives as a vibrant and appealing destination, catering to those seeking relaxation, outdoor fun, or a love for history.

Things to do in Bethlehem

  • Book a tour at the SteelStacks
  • Learn history at Hoover Mason Trestle
  • Hear about Bethlehem steel history at National Museum of Industrial History
  • Experience the town’s religious community at Moravian Museum

33. Newport, Rhode Island

Newport is one of the cool USA bucket list destinations

Newport, Rhode Island, stands out as a top travel destination in the USA, offering a plethora of activities. Whether you’re into historical and food tours or sailing and mansion tours , Newport has diverse options.

Situated by the sea, the city boasts a rich history, making it an ideal spot for history enthusiasts. Mansion tours and sailing adventures, including private yacht charters and romantic cruises, are must-tries.

With its abundance of history, Newport promises endless exploration, ensuring each visit brings something new to discover.

Things to do in Newport

  • Tour the Breakers
  • Hike the scenic 3.5-mile Cliff Walk
  • Learn about history at the Elms
  • Take in the dramatic views along Ocean Drive

34. Page, Arizona

Page is one of the places to add to your USA bucket list

Page, Arizona, though small, is a must-visit on your USA bucket list, boasting some of the Southwest’s most stunning sights. Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon are iconic attractions in the town.

From Page, enjoy breathtaking views of Lake Powell and the expansive Glen Canyon Dam, among the largest in the US.

Despite its size, Page offers numerous outdoor adventures, diverse dining experiences, and captivating landscapes, making it an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

Things to do in Page

  • Take a selfie at Horseshoe Bend
  • Go on a boat tour at Lake Powell
  • Discover the Antelope Canyon
  • Tour Glen Canyon Dam

Best National Parks to Visit in the USA

Here are the best national parks to travel to in the US in no particular order.

35. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park is one of the best places to visit in the US

Yellowstone National Park is a must on your USA bucket list! Established in 1872, it’s the oldest national park and offers something for everyone.

Wildlife enthusiasts can explore Lamar Valley for bison, grizzly bears, wolves, and more. Geology enthusiasts will appreciate fantastic formations and hot springs, including Old Faithful and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone .

Photographers shouldn’t miss the breathtaking Grand Prismatic Lake. Avoiding summer holidays is recommended to escape traffic jams and enhance wildlife sightings.

Things to do in Yellowstone

  • Take in the beauty of Grand Canyon
  • Be in awe at the colorful Grand Prismatic Spring
  • See wildlife at Lamar Valley
  • Watch as the Old Faithful Geyser erupts

Leona from Wandermust Family

36. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park is one of the places to visit in the US

The Grand Canyon is a top destination on many USA bucket lists, and hiking offers a superior experience compared to observation decks.

Trails allow hikers to explore around or descend into the canyon, offering unique and panoramic views. Research different hikes for varied views and difficulty levels, and plan during spring or fall for optimal weather.

Bring sufficient water and sun protection to prevent dehydration and overheating, common causes of hiking-related incidents.

Assess your fitness level, as descending is easier than ascending. With caution and preparation, your Grand Canyon hiking experience will be truly amazing.

Things to do in Grand Canyon

  • Hike the Bright Angel Trail
  • Discover the South Kaibab Trail
  • Take in the sweeping views from the South rim
  • Photograph the dramatic landscape at the north rim

Serena from Serenas’ Lenses

37. Death Valley National Park, California

Death Valley National Park is one of the places to visit in the US

Include Death Valley National Park in your Southwest road trip for a thrilling drive through the lowest point in North America.

Despite being one of the hottest places globally, it offers diverse landscapes, historical sites, and natural wonders.

Witness bright salt deposits, colorful lava formations, and striated rock faces. The valley hosts traces of early pioneers, prospectors, and miners.

Don’t miss Zabriskie Point’s breathtaking views of the Badlands’ pastel-hued rock formations.

Ensure you have ample water, a paper map, and a full tank of fuel, as GPS signals may be unreliable. Keep the air-con off to prevent engine overheating.

Things to do in the Death Valley

  • Take in the view from Dante’s View
  • Watch the sunset from Zabriskie Point
  • Experience Badwater basin, the lowest point in North America
  • Hike tot he top of the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

Suzanne Jones at The Travelbunny

38. Acadia National Park, Maine

Bass Harbor Lighthouse at sunset in Acadia National Park, Maine USA

It would be best if you considered visiting Acadia National Park, located in Maine. It is among the most beautiful national parks in the eastern US, and it showcases the Maine Coast’s beauty perfectly. 

There are several miles of biking and hiking trails on Acadia , and if you prefer sailing and kayaking, there is easy coastal access.

There are many different ways to spend your time at the national park, but ensure you spend at least two days. This way, you get to fully enjoy everything that the park has to offer and take in its beauty. 

If you wanna catch a sunrise, you will enjoy watching the most breathtaking sunrise at Cadillac Mountain.

The view combined with the sunset is pretty stunning since you will see all the islands dotting the coast. 

If you would like to visit some of the most famous attractions in the park, such as Jordan Pond, Thunder Hole, and Sandy Beach, drive through the park loop road. This place is worth adding to your USA bucket list.

Things to do in Acadia

  • Hike to Cadillac Mountain’s summit
  • Road trip the Park Loop Road
  • Watch the sunset at Jordan Pond
  • Cool off at Sand Beach

Where to stay in Acadia

The Blackwoods is a an excellent camping spot with running water and toilets. On the downside, they don’t have showers on site, only down the road.

39. Arches National Park, Utah

Arches National Park is one of the best places to visit in the US

Explore the wonders of Arches National Park in Utah, a top-notch destination in the US. Hike through Devil’s Garden to witness impressive arches, including the iconic Delicate Arch.

Experience stargazing and dark skies by visiting the park after sunset. With over 2,000 sandstone arches, Arches offers diverse landscapes, including mountain peaks, petrified dunes, and rock spires.

Beyond hiking, it’s a prime spot for mountain biking. If you love the outdoors, make sure to include Arches National Park in your travel plans, and discover additional scenic spots across Utah after your exploration.

Things to do in Arches

  • Take a photo at the Delicate Arch
  • Hike to the Double Arch
  • Get to Fiery Furnace on a tour
  • Take in the sweeping views from the Windows

Read next: Utah National Parks Road Trip

40. Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park is one of the best places to visit in the US

Include Glacier National Park in your U.S. travel itinerary for a breathtaking experience. Marvel at glaciers, waterfalls, two mountain ranges, and over 700 lakes.

Hiking enthusiasts can choose from a variety of trails , ranging from challenging routes like Highline Trail and Grinnell Glacier to easy options like Rocky Point.

The park offers activities for all seasons, from fishing and canoeing in summer to snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in winter.

Wildlife sightings, including elk, bears, and moose, add to the park’s allure. Enjoy the picturesque landscapes while engaging in diverse activities, such as driving along Lake McDonald and spending time at its beach.

Things to do in Glacier

  • Drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road
  • Hike to the Grinnell Glacier
  • Relax at Lake McDonald
  • Enjoy the scenery at Logan Pass

41. Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Mount Rainier National Park is one of the best places to visit in the US

Just a two-hour drive from Seattle and Portland, Mount Rainier captivates visitors year-round with its natural beauty.

Summer offers vibrant meadows adorned with colorful wildflowers for hiking enthusiasts. In the fall, snow-free lakes and berry-laden trails provide a picturesque setting.

For those preferring a more leisurely experience, a scenic drive through the park reveals stunning views of lakes, glaciers, waterfalls, and the chance to spot wildlife.

Things to do in Mount Rainier

  • Take in the views of Mount Rainier
  • Challenge yourself at the Skyline Trail
  • Photograph the scenic Paradise Valley
  • Hike the Mt. Fremont Lookout Trail

42. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the best places to visit in the US

Add Rocky Mountain National Park to your USA bucket list for a breathtaking experience in Colorado .

A day trip from Denver provides easy access, with various small towns around for accommodation options based on your budget. Having a car is recommended for convenient exploration.

The park boasts numerous vista points, each offering hiking trails suitable for all levels. Whether you prefer challenging or easy, long or short hikes, there’s something for everyone.

If hiking isn’t your preference, the spectacular scenery at vista points, along with attractions like Bear Lake, Sprague Lake, and Grand Lake, ensures a memorable visit.

Things to do in Rocky Mountain

  • Road trip the Trail Ridge Road
  • Walk around Bear Lake
  • Hike the Emerald Lake Trail
  • Picnic at Sprague Lake

43. Sequoia National Park, California

Sequoia National Park is one of the USA bucket list destinations

Sequoia National Park , a must on any US bucket list, sits in California alongside Kings Canyon National Park, hosting the planet’s largest trees.

While redwoods claim height, sequoias reign in size, notably in the Giant Forest region. The Congress Trail offers an easy hike, featuring the colossal General Sherman Tree and other giants like the President Tree.

Round Meadow provides a scenic stroll amid notable sequoias, and at dusk, black bears often forage. Explore tunnel log for a unique walk and the Giant Forest Museum for insightful displays.

Summer is popular, so book campsites or lodges well in advance, and shuttle buses simplify travel.

Things to do in Sequoia

  • Pose next to General Sherman Tree, a 250-foot ancient tree
  • Walk up 400 steps to spectacular views at Moro Rock Trail
  • Visit Boyden Cavern
  • Hike the Congress Trail

James Ian from Parks Collecting

44. Joshua Tree National Park, California

Cholla Cactus Garden is one of the best hikes in Joshua Tree National Park

Explore Joshua Tree National Park , a captivating addition to your US bucket list. A two-day trip from LA, it offers unique desert landscapes and vibrant Joshua trees.

Hiking highlights include Lost Horse Mine, blending Joshua trees with gold mining history, and Lost Palms Oasis, home to distinctive fan palm trees.

For gentler walks, discover Cholla Cactus Garden, Jumbo Rocks, Hall of Horrors, and Hidden Valley. Plan ahead, as the park lacks shops or restaurants – bring ample water, food, and emergency supplies for a day of exploration.

Things to do in Joshua Tree

  • Trek the Lost Palm Oasis Trail
  • Photograph the Skull Rock
  • Check out Cholla Cactus Garden
  • Take in the wildflowers

Michael from Michael Turtle

45. Zion National Park, Utah

Zion National Park is one of the best places to add to your USA bucket listces to add to your USA bucket list

Explore the stunning Zion National Park in Utah, with a must-try adventure: hiking the challenging Angels Landing route .

Spanning 5 miles with a 1,488-foot elevation, it’s not for the faint-hearted. Best tackled in summer or fall, the park’s shuttle bus conveniently transports you to the trailhead.

While Scout Lookout offers fantastic views for those with a fear of heights, reaching the top requires courage due to sheer drops and a narrow pathway. The use of chains is advised.

Once at the summit, savor breathtaking views, making it a highlight of your USA travel experience.

Things to do in Zion

  • Challenge yourself at The Narrows
  • Venture out on Zion Canyon Scenic Drive
  • Take in the dramatic views at the end of Canyon Overlook Trail
  • Hike the demanding Angel’s Landing

Zoe from Together in Transit

Best Beaches to Visit in the USA

Here are the best beaches to travel to in the US in no particular order.

46. Key West, Florida

Key West, Florida is one of the winter vacations in the US

Discover the vibrant and free-spirited Key West, a top destination in the US. Enjoy unique culinary experiences, deep-sea fishing, and relaxing on local beaches.

It’s an ideal spot for a fantastic beach vacation and a favorite spring break destination .

Explore historical sites and traditional homes, and if you’re on a road trip, make a stop at Bahia Honda State Park for one of the world’s most incredible beaches.

Key West promises a delightful stay with numerous activities and attractions.

Things to do in Key West

  • Snorkel in turquoise waters
  • Visit Dry Tortugas National Park
  • Don’t miss the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
  • Check out butterflies at Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

47. Kailua Beach, Hawaii

Kailua Beach is one of the beautiful places to visit in the US

Out of all the beaches found in Big Island, Kailua ranks as the second most beautiful beach. 

If you are looking for incredible places to visit in the US and enjoy beach vacations, visiting Kailua should be on top of your list. This place has white and soft powder sand, and the water is turquoise blue.

Enjoying yourself at the beach does not get any better than being at Kailua, and other than the beautiful white sand and turquoise water, its stretch is two and a half miles long. 

The beach has three separate parking lots, the first one being for windsurfing sports and a launching spot for kites. The second connects to the main beach spot, and the third has a boat ramp.

You can take your family out on the beach since the park grounds have picnic tables, beach showers, and bathroom facilities.

This is pretty convenient, and it is also worth mentioning that they have a few lifeguards who ensure ocean safety and may answer any questions you have.

Things to do in Kailua Beach

  • Bask in the sun
  • Be adventurous and go windsurfing
  • Picnic with your family
  • Watch the sunset

Where to stay in Kailua

The Four Seasons Resort is my all-time fave because of the ocean views, wonderful pools, and many amenities. Thank me later!

Read next: Best Beaches in Hawaii

48. Folly Beach, South Carolina

Folly Beach is one of the beautiful places to visit in the US

Escape your routine and embrace the tranquility of Folly Beach, South Carolina—a laid-back, family-friendly haven near downtown Charleston.

Ideal for year-round enjoyment, it caters to those who appreciate a relaxed beach lifestyle, fishing enthusiasts, and surfing aficionados.

Indulge in diverse activities like paddleboarding, photography, sailing, and kayaking. Dive into the local scene with live music, a fantastic pier, and a variety of bars and restaurants.

Extend your getaway to bask in the soothing breeze and ocean waves for a few delightful days.

Things to do in Folly Beach

  • Have breakfast at Lost Dog Café
  • Take in the view of Morris Island Lighthouse
  • Rent a stand-up paddleboard
  • Lunch with oceanfront views at BLU Beach Bar

49. Sand Beach, Maine

Sand Beach is one of the US destinations not to miss

Include Sand Beach, Maine in your USA bucket list. It features unique shell fragments, accessible amenities, and a captivating view.

Explore the popular hiking trail for spectacular beach views and enjoy a leisurely stroll along the beautiful coast of Maine.

Located in Acadia National Park, Sand Beach sits in a small inlet between Mount Desert Island’s rocky shores and granite mountains.

Accessible via Park Loop Road, it is a must-visit point of interest on the Island.

Things to do in Sand Beach

  • Hike your way to the beach
  • Relax on the sand
  • Take a swim, but be careful as the water is very cold
  • Stargaze with your significant other

50. El Matador Beach, California

El Matador Beach is one of the best places to visit in the US

Explore El Matador Beach in California, one of the best places to visit in the USA.

Enjoy picturesque views from picnic tables overlooking the Pacific Ocean, especially popular for photographers capturing breathtaking sunsets and unique sea stacks.

Explore the north side with arches and caves (avoid during high tide) or head to the tranquil south side with stunning homes for a peaceful getaway and photo opportunities.

Things to do in El Matador Beach

  • Photograph the dramatic cliffs
  • Picnic on the sand
  • Stroll along the water
  • Snorkel and experience the colorful world under water

51. Shi Shi Beach, Washington

Shi Shi Beach is a beautiful US destination not to miss

Enjoy a variety of adventures on Washington’s Shi Shi Beach, featuring beach walking and rainforest hiking.

Ideal for backpacking or a one-day hike, you can extend your journey to the Hole in the Wall or the Ozette Loop Hike.

Check the tide chart for safety, especially if heading south past the arches where tides can be high.

The beach provides amenities like restrooms and parking, but be aware that night parking and day parking have separate lots, and there’s no RV parking available. 

Things to do in Shi Shi Beach

  • Camp at the beach
  • Photograph the majestic landscape
  • Take in the sunset

Where to stay in Shi Shi Beach

You can camp on the beach and wake up to the fantastic ocean view.

52. Cannon Beach, Oregon

Cannon Beach is one of the best places to visit in the US

Visit Cannon Beach in Oregon for a stunning escape. It’s one of the best travel destinations in the USA, featuring beautiful coastline views, dramatic rock formations, and luxurious beachfront lodgings .

Experience puffins nesting on Haystack Rock, elk grazing in coastal meadows, and colorful sea stars adorning the rocks.

Take in this beauty through hikes or relaxed moments on the sand. Recognized by National Geographic as one of the most beautiful places globally, Cannon Beach offers marine life sightings during low tides.

Explore local art galleries and try out restaurants to complete your visit.

Things to do in Cannon Beach

  • Sip brews at Pelican Brewery
  • See cute puffins at Haystack Rock
  • Go whale watching off the coast

53. Waikiki Beach, Oahu

Waikiki Beach is one of the places to add to your USA bucket list

Waikiki Beach is a must on your USA bucket list. Considered a top tourist destination, it boasts a long oceanfront stretch with golden sand, backed by hotels and retail establishments in Honolulu, on Oahu island.

Apart from the scenic view, enjoy activities like surfing, dining, and shopping.

Whether solo, with a partner, friends, or family, Waikiki offers all comforts amidst the Pacific Ocean on a tropical island, making it a worthwhile visit.

Things to do in Waikiki

  • Take surfing lessons
  • Take a swim in the calm waters
  • Bask in the sun while people watching
  • Dine with beach views at one of the restaurants or food stalls in the area

Best Islands to Visit in the USA

Here are the best islands to travel to in the US in no particular order.

54. Kauai, Hawaii

Kauai, Hawaii is one of the best spring break destinations in the US

Kauai in Hawaii is among the best places to visit in the United States, often referred to as the Garden Island.

It distinguishes itself through its natural beauty, with a rule limiting building height to the palm of a coconut to preserve the pristine beaches.

Inland, explore Wailua River State Park and Koke’e State Park. Overall, Kauai stands out as one of the most beautiful travel destinations in the United States.

Things to do in Kauai

  • Relax by the beach
  • Check out Opaekaa Falls
  • Hike in the Waimea Canyon State Park
  • Take a helicopter tour on Na Pali Coast

55. South Padre Island, Texas

Chilling at Isla Blanca is one of the best things to do on South Padre Island, TX

South Padre Island, Texas , is an ideal travel destination with endless activities and attractions.

Whether planning or spontaneous, enjoy live music, diverse restaurants, fishing, bird watching, and water sports.

Family-friendly, it’s renowned for white sandy beaches, clear Gulf waters, and calm weather, offering a perfect tropical vacation experience year-round.

Clean beaches and excellent weather make it a unique tropical paradise in Texas, catering to both laid-back and adventurous vacations.

Things to do in South Padre Island

  • Go bird watching
  • Try some fishing
  • Enjoy live music
  • Do absolutely nothing by the beach and just enjoy yourself 

56. Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Cape Cod is one of the best places to visit in the US

Cape Cod in Massachusetts is an excellent place to visit in the USA for tropical vacation enthusiasts. Enjoy the best seafood, sandy beaches, and charming beach towns.

Explore diverse activities like trying local cuisine, relaxing on sandy beaches, visiting lighthouses, or hiking scenic trails.

Customize your vacation based on preferences, but note the short swimming season and plan accordingly to make the most of your visit.

Things to do in Cape Cod

  • Have some delicious seafood
  • Visit the iconic lighthouse
  • Go hiking around the island
  • Weather-permitting, go swimming

57. Florida Keys, Florida

Florida Keys is one of the places to add to your USA bucket list

Experience a Caribbean vibe without leaving the U.S. by visiting the Florida Keys, a short drive from Key West and Miami.

Enjoy a scenic road trip with great food, vibrant architecture, and beautiful beaches.

Don’t miss trying the famous Key lime pie, visiting the Ernest Hemingway House, exploring Duval Street, and engaging in water activities like swimming, scuba diving, or snorkeling.

Savor a drink, soak in the stunning views, and capture memories with beautiful pictures during your visit to the Florida Keys.

Things to do in Florida Keys

58. big island, hawaii.

Big Island is one of the places to add to your USA bucket list

Dreaming of a trip to the USA? Consider adding a helicopter tour around Hawaii’s Big Island to your bucket list.

Experience breathtaking views, lush green landscapes, cascading waterfalls, and the unique opportunity to fly around an active volcano, witnessing flowing lava beneath you.

I’ve personally experienced it in the stunning Big Island and highly recommend this unforgettable two-hour tour for a once-in-a-lifetime experience during your visit to Hawaii.

Pro Tip: Wear dark-colored clothing to minimize window reflections.

Things to do on Big Island

  • Take a helicopter tour around Hawaii
  • Scuba dive in Kona to see the manta rays
  • Visit a coffee farm
  • Visit Volcanoes National Park

Claire from Curious Claire

59. Mount Desert Island, Maine

Mount Desert Island is one of the places to add to your USA bucket list

Mount Desert Island in Maine is renowned for being a summer feeding ground for whales, making it arguably the most beautiful spot in New England.

Accessible by flying or driving (though driving is challenging), the island offers the added bonus of proximity to other attractions like Acadia National Park.

Engage in outdoor activities such as hiking and watersports, creating an experience so immersive that returning to reality becomes a reluctant thought.

Things to do on Mount Desert

  • Discover Acadia National Park
  • Partake in watersports
  • Photograph Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse
  • Go shopping in Downtown Bar Harbor

60. Oahu, Hawaii

Oahu is one of the places to add to your USA bucket list

Oahu, Hawaii, stands out as one of the most beautiful places in the US, often overlooked for its rich offerings beyond tourist attractions and beaches.

In a 3-day visit , explore Honolulu’s diverse cuisine and immerse yourself in the local culture. From the best Asian dishes to traditional Hawaiian food, savor delicious meals.

Explore Honolulu further by visiting Pearl Harbor, hiking, or relaxing at Waikiki Beach. Venture beyond to discover the North Shore, Polynesian Cultural Center, Dole Plantation, and Kualoa Ranch.

For a tropical vacation experience, simply head to the beach, dip your feet in the sand, and enjoy the stunning view.

Things to do in Oahu

  • Take a tour at Dole Plantation
  • Learn about history at Pearl Harbor
  • Don’t miss the famous Lanikai Beach
  • Visit the iconic USS Arizona Memorial

Other Incredible Places to Visit in the USA

Here are the best places to travel to in the US in no particular order.

61. Havasu Falls, Arizona

Havasu Falls is one of the  places to visit in the US

Havasu Falls in Northern Arizona is a breathtaking paradise, accessible through a challenging 10-mile hike in a desolate desert canyon.

The 80-foot turquoise-blue waterfall flows through red sandstone walls, with a campground shaded by trees near the river.

Freshwater springs provide drinking water, and numerous pools and swimming holes create an oasis in the desert.

While Havasu Falls is the most famous, there are five waterfalls in total, including Mooney Falls reached through a steep cave, and the tiered Beaver Falls downstream.

Havasu Canyon continues to the Grand Canyon’s confluence with the Colorado River, making it my favorite among stunning US locations. If it’s not on your bucket list, it definitely should be!

Things to do in Havasu Falls

  • Swim in the turquoise waters
  • Take in the views while you’re grateful of such beauty
  • Be prepared to take lots of photos
  • Have a picnic there (remember to take all your trash back with you)

Where to stay near Havasu Falls

Havasu Canyon is owned and managed by the Havasupai Tribe, and camping reservations are limited to 300 people per day. You’ll need to plan well in advance if you want to visit this surreal location.

Camping permits for the entire year go on sale February 1st and sell out within a few hours. Lodge reservations go on sale in June of each year and similarly sell out almost immediately.

Nick from Wandering Wheatleys

62. Disney World, Florida

Disneyland is one of the places to add to your USA bucket list

Disney World in Florida is a must-visit on your USA bucket list. Although not a city, it’s a world-famous theme park and a favorite vacation spot for families.

When in Orlando, make sure to experience Disney World, where you can meet beloved characters, ride roller coasters, get autographs, and witness scenes from Disney movies.

Ideal for those who grew up with Disney or have young children, the park offers a plethora of activities and attractions, ensuring a fantastic time for all.

While Disney World is not exactly a city, it is still a must-see and experience place in the USA.

Things to do at Disney World

  • Ride the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Take an indoor cruise through the scenes of Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Enjoy the Enchanted Tiki Room, Country Bear Jamboree musical show
  • Walk the informative Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail and Maharajah Jungle Trek

63. Antelope Canyon, Arizona

Antelope Canyon is one  of the best places to visit in the US

Antelope Canyon in Arizona is among the best and uniquely beautiful places to visit in the USA.

This famous slot canyon, located just 15 minutes from Page, features red and orange rock formations that create stunning light beams due to its “V” shape.

To visit, sign up for a tour, pay a fee to the Navajo people, and explore the canyon for 1-1 1/2 hours. While popular and not secluded, witnessing the canyon’s beauty is worth it.

For a less crowded experience, consider visiting Lower Antelope Canyon, just 10 minutes away from the Upper Canyon.

Although lacking light beams, Lower Antelope Canyon is still picturesque, adventurous, and often less crowded, providing an enjoyable alternative.

Regardless, Antelope Canyon is a natural wonder and a must-see in the Southwest of the USA.

Things to do in Antelope Canyon

  • Take a walking tour in the antelope canyon
  • Take as many photos as possible
  • See the famous Horseshoe Bend
  • Take in the views of Lake Powell

Jessica from Unearth the Voyage

64. Big Sur, California

Big Sur is one of the places to visit in the US

Include a drive along the Big Sur Coast in your Northern California visit. Stretching over 60 miles between Carmel and Ragged Point, it offers some of the most scenic Pacific Coast Highway views.

Allocate several hours to explore highlights, starting from Carmel-by-the-Sea, known for boutiques and gourmet restaurants.

Visit Point Lobos State Reserve for stunning ocean views and ancient cypress trees on your California road trip . Continue to Garrapata State Park for wilderness trails and a sandy beach.

Don’t miss the iconic Bixby Creek Bridge and the picturesque McWay Falls. For the best views, drive from north to south along the water, enjoying the breathtaking coastline.

Things to do in Big Sur

  • Spot birds at Point Lobos State Reserve
  • Relax in a white-beach at Garrapata state Park
  • Photograph Bixby Creek Bridge
  • Hike the East Molera Trail

Dhara from It’s Not About the Miles

65. Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada

Lake Tahoe is one of the best places to visit in the US

Lake Tahoe, straddling Nevada and California near Yosemite National Park, stands out as one of the most breathtaking places to visit in the United States.

With crystal-clear water, the lake offers both water and land activities, including swimming, SUP, hiking, and serene moments to appreciate the surroundings.

Summer is ideal for a visit, but winter provides a stunning view framed by snow, perfect for skiing.

Whether seeking outdoor adventure or peaceful retreat, Lake Tahoe is an excellent choice year-round.

Things to do in Lake Tahoe

  • Tour the Hellman-Ehrman Mansion
  • Look for wildflowers in the summer
  • Take the aerial tram to High Camp
  • Hike the Shirley Canyon Trail

66. Route 66

Route 66 is one of the best US destinations

Driving Route 66 is a top experience for any USA bucket list. This iconic 2,448-mile route passes through nine diverse states, offering a unique perspective of America beyond typical tourist cities.

Along the way, explore quirky neon-filled towns, historical cities, abandoned ghost towns, and national parks like Petrified Forest and the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

Stay at smaller motels to connect with the locals and support the route. For a fulfilling road trip, take your time—three weeks is ideal for the entire journey.

Use guidebooks to navigate and avoid Interstates, as it can get complicated with a Sat Nav.

67. Napa Valley, California

Napa Valley is one of the best places to visit in the US

Include Napa Valley, California, on your USA bucket list, especially if you love wine.

This picturesque region, known as Northern California’s wine country, offers a relaxing getaway with delicious sips, vineyards set amidst rolling hills, charming boutiques, and small towns.

Stay in various accommodations and indulge in wine tasting and vineyard tours .

While Napa Valley offers diverse activities, sipping and relaxing amid the scenic surroundings should be your primary focus.

Things to do in Napa Valley

  • Take a train ride
  • Eat your through the Napa Valley
  • See the famous geyser
  • Visit wineries that offer more than wine

68. Bluebonnet Trail, Texas

Bluebonnet Trail is one of the places to add to your USA bucket list

Experience the beauty of the Bluebonnet Trail in Texas at least once, ideally during spring when Indian paintbrushes and bluebonnets adorn the Hill Country.

With over 40 miles of mapped driving trails near Ennis, you’ll enjoy a fantastic view. Blooming times vary, but early April is often ideal.

Plan ahead to ensure you don’t miss this mesmerizing experience. If you love the outdoors, add exploring the Bluebonnet Trail to your USA bucket list.

Wrapping Up on Your USA Bucket List

Creating a USA bucket list with fewer than 1,000 places and experiences was a rather challenging task. After all, America is filled with some of the most incredible cities, towns, and outdoor areas on the planet!

Still, I did a pretty good job of showing what each state has to offer. But don’t limit yourself—there’s much more to be seen and epic best places to visit in the USA.

What places would you add to this list? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you!

Did you enjoy this article about the most beautiful places in the USA? Then share it with a friend who might enjoy it too!

Best Places to Visit in the US, Pinterest Graphic

Dee Treloar

Tuesday 23rd of May 2023

I'm looking to see West Virginia and Kentucky to complete my USA bucket list. Can you help!

Thursday 6th of April 2023

No doubt all of these are the best places to explore in the USA. I will explore these places one by one. First of all, I will explore NYC through taking the cherry blossom in nyc.

Wednesday 1st of February 2023

Hi please update this list. Austin does have a sports team. Austin FC. It began playing in 2021. I know it's not one of the big 4 sports, but in Austin, we are very proud and have qualified for the CONCACAF champions league ahead of the biggest teams in the continent. We sold out all 36 games in our first season, the longest streak out of ANY other US team.

Monday 22nd of August 2022

I hope to visit one of this places in usa

Monday 16th of May 2022

This site was cooler than I thought.

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Holiday planning made simple: The best vacation spots in the US

3 travel spots

There’s so much to see and do in the US. Whether you enjoy outdoor adventures, consider yourself more of a culture buff or are passionate about history. This article includes the best vacation spots in the US from north to south and east to west, as well as everywhere in between.

The best summer vacation spots in the US

Summer’s here , the weather’s heating up, and you want to take a much-needed break in the sun. We’ve rounded up the best places in the US to spend your summer days and nights.

Niagara Falls, NY: Best vacation spot in the US for solo travelers

A boat approaching the base of a raging and massive waterfall.

Niagara Falls is the 8th wonder of the world. It sits on the border of both the United States and Canada. Cross over the Rainbow Bridge by car to reach Niagara Falls, Canada, in less than 20 minutes.

This is a great destination for solo travelers who like to gamble because of its three casinos and its all-you-can-eat buffets. Families can take a Falls boat tour and visit the Aquarium of Niagara or the Castellani Art Museum at Niagara University.

Dallas, TX: Best vacation spots in the US for art enthusiasts

The cityscape dominated by a cluster of skyscrapers protruding into the scenic sky.

Dallas is one of the best vacation spots in the US for people passionate about art and culture. In particular, art lovers will enjoy spending time at the Dallas Museum of Art in the Art District. If you’re into theater or music, come to enjoy a concert at the Moody Performance Hall .

In addition to its burgeoning art district, it has numerous museums. History buffs can discover historical sites like the JFK Memorial, the Sixth Floor Museum , the Texas Theater , and the Conspiracy Museum.

Dallas is also home to the NFL Dallas Cowboys and the Dallas Mavericks of the NBA. You can drive to a game in your rental car .

Mackinac Island, MI: Best vacation spots in the US to break from modern stress

A white lighthouse emerges in the middle of a channel near a seaside village.

Mackinac Island, MI, is in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is packed with charm and history. From the island, you can enjoy breathtaking views of Lake Huron. There is plenty to do and see on the island during the day and night.

You can explore Mackinac’s sights with a carriage ride around the island, which does not allow motorized vehicles. If you have a sweet tooth, don’t leave without trying the famous local fudge. Fancy a round of golf? There are two golf courses to choose from on the island.

Note: You must take a plane or ferry to reach the island.

Lake Tahoe, CA: Best spot in the US for a lake vacation

A turquoise-watered lake with a snow-covered mountain range in the background.

Enjoy the splendor of nature with a summer vacation to beautiful Lake Tahoe. It is home to several state parks, biking, and hiking trails. The lake borders the states of California and Nevada, and there are several casinos in the area, making this among the best vacation spots in the US for those who enjoy gambling.

Visiting here, you’ll be a short drive from Carson City and Reno, NV, which is also known as the Biggest Little City in the World. Spend some time exploring these local cities – you’ll be less than an hour from Reno and Carson City , NV.

If you plan to drive around Lake Tahoe in the winter, be sure to have a 4WD or snow chains on your tires. My husband and I attempted to drive from Reno, NV to Lake Tahoe on Christmas Day. Because of a chain requirement, we had to turn around just miles before getting there. We were so disappointed.

Boston, MA: Best vacation spots in the US for sports lovers

White sailboats on a river overlooking the modern city skyline with towering skyscrapers.

Explore the historical city of Boston on your next vacation. This city is rich in history and has numerous sights and museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts. Located on Massachusetts Bay, it is among the best vacation spots in the US to enjoy seafood, especially lobster. Boston is a great vacation spot in the US for sports lovers too and is home to a professional baseball, basketball, and hockey team.

Man in a red shirt stands on a rocky river while gazing up to the steep and eroded walls of a canyon.

The best romantic vacations for couples

Celebrate your love or rekindle your relationship at one of these popular destinations in the US.

Napa Valley, CA: Best vacation spots in the US for wine lovers

A woman getting her wine glass filled in a vineyard.

Napa is an ideal place for wine lovers and foodies looking for a romantic getaway. It is easily one of the best vacation spots in the US for wine lovers; however, this region is home to some of the top spas in the US. You can get couple’s spa treatments like mud or mineral baths, take a hot spring dip, or learn floating meditation.

Consider visiting for one of the annual local events, such as the Napa Lighted Art Festival in January or Bottlerock Napa Valley , a three-day music festival in May .

Oahu, HI: Best exotic vacation spots in the US

A professional surfer finds himself perfectly pitted deep within a North Shore barrel

Explore the island of Oahu on a luxurious and exotic US vacation. You’ll indulge in delicious foods and can enjoy memorable experiences like taking an oceanfront horseback ride or swimming with the dolphins. Attend a luau and delve into Hawaiian culture.

The island also has many oceanfront bars for a sunset cocktail. It is among the best vacation spots in the US for couples on their honeymoon or looking to get some alone time.

Kirkham Hot Springs, ID: Best romantic vacation spot for outdoor enthusiasts

Small steaming waterfalls pour down hillside to feed Payette River on partly cloudy spring morning at Kirkham Hot Springs outside Lowman, Idaho

Are you looking for somewhere different to spend a romantic vacation? Kirkham is a great choice for couples who like to spend time outdoors enjoying nature. Come to bathe in the warmth of the hot springs. Go hiking or horseback riding on local trails. Other outdoor excursions include kayaking and whitewater rafting.

Gatlinburg, TN: Best romantic vacation spot in the smoky mountains

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Scenic Sunrise Landscape at Oconaluftee Overlook between Cherokee NC and Gatlinburg TN

Cozy up with your sweetie in one of Gatlinburg ‘s honeymoon cottages in front of the fireplace. Be sure to take your camera with you as there are many places to get pictures of the Smoky Mountains. Take a helicopter or chairlift ride to enjoy close-up views of the mountains.

Sedona, AZ: The Best romantic vacation spot in the US for hiking

Houses scattered on the flatland in lush evergreen vegetation against a red rock scenery backdrop.

Be romantic while enjoying the beautiful rock formations and the forests in Sedona. Get up early in the morning to watch the sunrise over Red Rock Country while sipping wine from a local vineyard. You can also go hiking, take an off-road adventure in a Jeep, or explore arts and culture with a visit to one of the many local art galleries. Sedona is a beautiful place to make memories.

The best beach vacations in the US

There’s a whole range of different beach vacations to choose from in the US, from those with a party atmosphere to quiet bays where you can enjoy your favorite book.

Miami, FL: The best beach vacation spot in the US for nightlife

Compact tall buildings form a long line between a tranquil river and the turquoise sea on a bright fine day.

Miami has an array of different beaches to visit. There is a beach for everyone, from families to solo travelers. Here are a few beach recommendations. South Beach is ideal if you’re looking for nightlife, as there are several waterfront bars where you can listen to live music and dance. Visit North Shore Beach if you want more peace and quiet, as well as smaller crowds.

Key Biscayne Beach is perfect for those traveling with children. Family-friendly activities here include bicycling, flying kites, swimming, and making sand castles. Other activities you can enjoy on a Miami beach include surfing, boating, sailing, and fishing.

Muskegon, MI: The best beach vacation spot for pets

A black dog and a girl jump together on the sand.

If you’re looking for a hidden gem, you’ve found it. This is also a great beach vacation spot if you travel with a pet. Pere Marquette Beach is on Lake Michigan, about an hour from Grand Rapids and two hours from Traverse City. It has over two miles of beach with a designated area for dogs.

The beach has a bar, volleyball court, and a walking path to the lighthouse. Drive 15 minutes to nearby Grand Haven City Beach for a different experience.

On the way to Pere Marquette Beach in Muskegon, I like to shop in the Lakeside neighborhood. They have a couple of art galleries and an old-fashioned candy store where you can buy salt water taffy and yummy fudge.

Martha’s Vineyard, MA: The best beach vacation spot in the US for surfing

A picturesque bay is embraced by a bustling marina filled with boats, accompanied by the charm of a nearby town and the tranquilly of wooded surroundings.

Martha’s Vineyard has many different public and private beaches. Some are great for sunbathing, while others are popular with surfers.  

You’ll find great fishing at Lobsterville Beach. East Beach and Aquinnah Beach are great places to enjoy a spectacular sunset. Squibnocket Beach is most popular with surfers.

After spending a day at the beach, you can shop at its quaint boutiques or visit the local museum to learn about the island’s history.

Hilton Head, SC: The best beach vacation spot in the US to spot sea turtles

Aerial view of modern and luxury beach houses on a forested island with a sandy shore surrounded by the tranquil blue sea.

Hilton Head has lovely beaches along the Atlantic Coast. It is a great place for a family vacation, as several beachfront resorts exist. Hilton Head Island has beautiful weather almost year-round. The family can enjoy bike riding on the boardwalk, kayaking or spotting sea turtles on the beach. Along with beach adventures, Hilton Head offers amazing golf for both the novice and the pro.

Ship Island, MS: The best beach vacation spot in the US for shelling

A girl covers the sandhill with seashells on the beach.

You can only get to Ship Island by boat. It will take you about an hour to get to the island from Gulfport, MS. Watch for dolphins on the ride. Some of the best beach activities here include swimming and shelling. There’s also a historic fort on the island with numerous exhibits.

Medium shot portrait of smiling father and daughters relaxing on swim float during family vacation in Caribbean Sea

The best family vacation spots in the US

Can’t quite stretch the budget to Disneyland? Check out these alternatives to avoid the crowds and save a little money.

Hersheypark in Hershey, PA: The best vacation spot in the US for chocolate lovers

A rollercoaster travelling on twisted tracks.

Hersheypark is a chocolate lover’s dream. It is located close to the city of Harrisburg. This is an ideal place for a family with children of different ages. There is something for everyone to enjoy, including a zoo, chocolate factory, and amusement park. Hersheypark has rides for all ages, including rollercoasters for thrill seekers.

Dollywood Theme Park, Pigeon Forge, TN: The best vacation spots in the US for country music lovers

A hand strums an electric guitar under blue lights.

Are you a fan of Dolly Parton and country music? If so, Dollywood Theme Park is the place for you. It has the modern thrills of an amusement park with old-world charm. Dollywood is in the Smoky Mountains and is close to Pigeon Forge resorts , which are great for family vacations. You’ll also be just minutes from a designer store outlet where you can enjoy lots of retail therapy.

Knott’s Berry Farm, Buena Park, CA: The best vacation spots in the US for large families

Portrait of a happy family of four with bright bokeh background.

Knott’s Berry Farm has something for the whole family. It is a popular amusement park just minutes from Anaheim, CA. Walking around the park, you’ll likely meet Snoopy, Charlie Brown, or one of the characters created by Charles Schultz.

Wisconsin Dells, WI: The best vacation spots in the US for families year-round

Joyful mom and child in colourful winter attire sitting next to skiers in the background.

You won’t hear the kids complain of boredom when in Wisconsin Dells. This city has so much to do and see for adults and children.  Wisconsin Dells is a great place to visit year-round. You can ski or go tubing during the winter and enjoy water fun in the summer. There’s also an amusement park and a wildlife park in the town. For the adults, there are many breweries, wineries, and distilleries to explore.

Sandusky, OH: The best vacation spot in the US with an amusement park

People on a roller coaster ride raise their hands.

Sandusky is home to Cedar Point , an amusement and waterpark, one of the best vacation spots in the US for families. It is the 2nd oldest amusement park in the US. The park boasts of having the first strata coaster over 400 feet tall. It sits on Lake Erie and has its own beach where parents can relax while the kids are being entertained in the park.

Tips for planning the perfect vacation

Start planning your perfect vacation by choosing a location along with travel dates. Remember, you can often save money by booking your flight during the off-season for your selected destination.

Now that you’ve decided where to go, make a list of things you want to do and see while you’re there. Packing wisely can prevent you from overfilling your suitcase and having to pay extra airline baggage fees if you’re flying.

Finally, you’ll want to find the ideal place to stay. Start by deciding what kind of accommodation you’d prefer. For example, do you want to stay in a resort , a small boutique hotel, or a spacious rental home big enough for the whole family? Be sure to choose a place that’s right for the kind of vacation you want to have – and whoever you plan to be enjoying it with.

How does KAYAK know what to put in this guide?

This guide is a combination of my passion for travel, personal experiences, tips from the KAYAK team and plenty of research! I’m an avid traveler who likes to see the world, especially the best vacation spots in the US, and I’m always looking for ways to save money without sacrificing comfort or enjoyment when traveling.

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24 Cheap 3 day weekend getaways

This blog post may contain affiliate links.  I may earn a small commission for any purchases made through these links. Click  here  for the disclosure statement.

All photos are original to the author unless otherwise noted. 

If you are looking for 3 day weekend destinations in the US, there are many exciting destinations to enjoy. The United States is full of variety, from bustling cities to small towns and everything in between. Here are 20 cheap weekend getaway destinations to add to your bucket list.

Weekend Getaways In the South And Southwest

New orleans, louisiana.

New Orleans is more than just a place to eat, drink, and party. For a unique 3-day weekend trip, skip the bars on Bourbon Street and visit a jazz club or watch street performers in the French Quarter. For some history, visit the Backstreet Cultural Museum to learn about the traditions of African Americans in New Orleans. And for a truly unique experience, take a swamp tour to see the gators!

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston is also home to the McLeod Plantation, one of the few plantations that tell the story of slavery through the lens of the enslaved population. One of the city’s main attractions is the City Market, which has been operating since the 17th century. The market features a variety of local vendors selling everything from produce to artisanal goods. The Ibu movement is a cloth and textile business that collaborates with women’s cooperatives all over the world to keep their skills and stories alive in fabric. And of course, no trip to Charleston would be complete without experiencing the city’s vibrant food scene. 

From fresh seafood to traditional southern food, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Plus, with its lively nightlife and charming cobblestone streets, Charleston is the perfect place to relax and unwind.

Jacksonville, Florida

Get the best of art and the outdoors at Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens , which has European-inspired gardens along the St. Johns River. The  MOSH  (Museum of Science and History) offers hands-on animal encounters and adventure tours. For beach leavers, endless sandy shores with beautiful views like Amelia Island park just 30 minutes north of the city. If you prefer more hiking, visit one of Jacksonville’s many  nature  centers such as the Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens. Americans in New Orleans. And for a truly unique experience, take a swamp tour to see the gators!

Phoenix, Arizona

A weekend trip to Phoenix is a great option for the whole family for a variety of reasons. Visit Taliesin West and marvel at one of the greatest architects of all time (and my personal favorite), Frank Lloyd Wright, or see Wrigley Mansion. For the nature lover, hike Camelback Mountain or visit the Desert Botanical Garden. If you’re looking for some culture, you can visit the Heard Museum to learn about American Indian history and art or see the galleries, live music, and theater in the Roosevelt Art District.

Marfa, Texas

Marfa is a small town in Texas with one of the most beautiful landscapes and unique communities. It’s home to many artists, which you can find on any given day selling their wares at their many art galleries . The Chinati Foundation features modern art by some of the world’s most famous painters and sculptors. There are also plenty of outdoor activities available such as kayaking on Lake Amistad or biking along the Trans-Pecos Trail System. Whatever you’re looking for, Marfa offers something for everyone!

Atlanta, Georgia

If you’re looking for a place that has history, culture, and plenty of Southern charm. Learn of Civil Rights struggles on the Civil Rights Trail with stops at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and Martin Luther King Jr. National Monument and more.

Atlanta also has a diverse range of culinary options, including everything from Southern classics like fried chicken or BBQ to international cuisines like Korean barbecue or Vietnamese pho soup noodles. One of the cultural and natural highlights in Atlanta is the Botanical Garden in Piedmont Park, which has a wide variety of plants and  flowers  and offers an impressive display of art meets nature.

 Charlottesville, Virginia

Charlottesville, Virginia is a beautiful city located in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley. The city is home to a variety of historical attractions, including the Charlottesville Historic Downtown Mall, Monticello, and the University of Virginia. There are also plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation, thanks to Shenandoah National Park and the many hiking trails in the area. Charlottesville is also known for its excellent restaurants and wineries, making it the perfect place to relax and enjoy a 3-day weekend.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Albuquerque is a great place to visit for a 3 day weekend. There are plenty of things to do and see, and the city has a relaxed, laid-back vibe. Bosque del apache is a must-see while you’re in town. The nature reserve is home to a variety of birds and animals, and it’s a great place to go for bird watching, a hike, or a picnic. 

Albuquerque is also just a short drive from Santa Fe, so you can easily include a day trip to the state capital in your itinerary. New Mexico is renowned for its scenic beauty, so you’re sure to have an enjoyable and memorable weekend in Albuquerque.

Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee is a vibrant city with tons of things to do and see. Explore the Grand Ole Opry in Music Valley or visit one of their many green spaces like Shelby Bottoms or Percy Warner Park. The blues, rockabilly, alternative country, and soul music scene has made Nashville one of the best “music meccas” in the country, so be sure to check out some live bands while you’re here.

Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville  offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation, including hiking in Great Smoky National Park, a scenic drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway, or whitewater rafting on the French Broad River. Asheville has been called the “New Food Capital” and is known for its vibrant foodie culture, nightlife, and music scene. The outstanding art galleries, local musicians, and street art in the River Arts District give this city joyful energy that makes spending time here a very special experience.

East Coast Long Weekend Getaways

Philadelphia, pennsylvania.

Philadelphia is perfect for history and outdoor lovers. The American Revolution Trail at Independence National Historic Park has stops at Philadelphia’s most historic landmarks. Sites include:

– Carpenters’ Hall- the site of the First Continental Congress

– The Liberty Bell

– The Declaration House – where Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence

You can also visit the famous LOVE statue or take a walk on the famous Rocky Steps. Or get outside and enjoy some scenery at  Delaware River  or the Schuylkill River, which takes you by historic buildings, the University of Pennsylvania, museums, and Boathouse Row.

New York City, New York

You’ll have plenty to see in New York City! Start your 3-day getaway at Central Park exploring winding trails, Shakespeare’s Garden, and the Central Park Zoo . Spend a day visiting museums such as the American Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Modern Art. Don’t miss out on Grand Central Terminal, which is near the most popular tourist attractions Times Square, Chrysler Building, and Empire State Building.

Boston, Massachusetts

Boston is a city steeped in history and culture, with the oldest university in the country, theater, museums, and world-class restaurants. It’s also one of the most walkable cities in the nation! A stroll through Boston Common or down Newbury Street will bring you past centuries-old homes, gorgeous gardens such as the Arnold Arboretum, historical sites like the USS Constitution Museum, trendy boutiques like Newbury Comics, and historic churches like King’s Chapel. The North Shore offers some of the best beaches in America; downtown Boston has plenty of shopping, dining, and nightlife; and the Boston Harbor Islands offer unspoiled natural beauty.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh is a city that has it all. From world-class museums to awe-inspiring nature preserves, there’s something for everyone in this Midwestern metropolis! A national aviary that houses many birds and incredible gardens such as Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Garden are perfect for nature those looking to explore nature. 

There 5 Frank Lloyd Wright homes within an hour’s drive, including his most famous Falling Water, which puts Pittsburgh at the top of my bucket list. If you’re looking for more industrial history or art, go see Rivers O’ Steel: Carrie Blast Furnaces National Historic Landmark where we can also join a metal casting workshop.

Washington D.C.

Washington D.C is one of those destinations where everyone will find themselves captivated by unique attractions from White House tours to the Smithsonian; this destination offers something for every type of traveler. The 19 Smithsonian Museums have exhibits on history, cultures, and art, including the development of photography as an art form.  Washington DC  is a city filled with historical landmarks, including some of the most famous in America: they include Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and Arlington National Cemetery. The nightlife is fantastic whether you’re looking for relaxing cocktails on rooftop bars or live music in the heart of funky neighborhoods.

Weekend Trip To The West Coast and Pacific Northwest

Los angeles, california.

Los Angeles will charm both entertainment and culture buffs alike. It’s an ethnically diverse city with great art, architecture, and food. LA is also home to Hollywood, the entertainment district of the world, which needs no introduction. Once you’ve gotten your fill of move and TV sightseeing, head over to Chinatown, Koreatown, or Little Tokyo for a little more culture.

San Francisco, California

San Francisco is a great option for those seeking to explore the outdoors or visit famous US landmarks. The Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz are a must-see for your itinerary. If you’re looking to get outside more, consider hiking through Muir Woods National Monument or visiting scenic wineries in Sonoma.

Denver, Colorado

Denver , Colorado is the perfect destination for a quick 3-day getaway. The Mile High City offers a wide variety of activities and attractions to keep visitors entertained throughout their stay. For those looking to explore the great outdoors, Denver is just a short drive from Rocky Mountain National Park. The park offers stunning scenery and plenty of opportunities for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.  

The city itself offers a wealth of attractions, including the museums, thriving entertainment districts, cultural foods, and craft breweries. With so much to see and do, Denver is the perfect place for a weekend getaway.

Seattle, Washington

From the glass sculptures at Chihuly’s Glass Art Museum to history and art on every corner –  Seattle  has it all! Visit one of the top-ranked coffee shops, such as The Starbucks Reserve Roastery for a premium coffee experience you won’t want to miss. Spend some time exploring Discovery Park’s lighthouse, or take in beautiful cityscape views at Kerry Park. Explore Pioneer Square and the International District for a unique and surprising history lesson.

Las Vegas is more than just gambling and casinos. It’s also home to some out-of-this-world shows like the famous Cirque du Soleil and The Blue Man Group. Head outdoors with hiking trails that lead through gorgeous red rocks where you can spot  wildlife  at Black Canyon Wildlife Preserve or venture down into Valley of The Fire for incredible views and trails through gorgeous red rocks. If hiking isn’t your thing, then there are  ghost towns  nearby or one-of-a-kind museums such as the Mob Museum.

Portland, Oregon

Portland’s food truck scene is unrivaled, with food trucks serving up everything from gourmet grilled cheese to Korean fusion tacos. The Columbia River Gorge is a short drive away and is home to some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the country. And of course, no visit to Portland would be complete without a trip to the Saturday Market, where you can find locally made arts and crafts, food, and more. Whether you’re looking for a foodie adventure or a nature escape, Portland has something for everyone.

Salt Lake City, Utah

Can you think of a more perfect place for the outdoor enthusiast than Salt Lake City? In just a three-day weekend, you can explore some of the most stunning and world-renowned national parks: Zion, Arches, Canyonlands, Capital Reef, and Bryce Canyon. And that’s not even including all of the other outdoor activities available in and around the city, like hiking, biking, skiing, and kayaking. Not to mention, the city itself is full of historic sites and interesting museums. Whether you’re looking for a weekend of adventure or simply want to enjoy some of the best that Utah has to offer, Salt Lake City is the perfect destination.

3 Day Weekends In The Midwest

Chicago, illinois.

Chicago’s  Shedd Aquarium is world famous with over 800 species on display including sharks and beluga whales. The Lincoln Park Zoo is an award-winning zoo that is dedicated to the education of visitors on animal biology. Entrance to the zoo is free and features over 1,000 animals. And finally, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Frederick C. Robie House, built in 1911, illustrates the principles that were central to Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture, open plan interiors, integration with the environment, and his innovative process.

This bustling metropolis is a cultural mecca with a world-class symphony and opera house. It also has over 50 art galleries with works from artists around the world. Cincinnati is known for its historic architecture dating back to the mid-1800s, giving this city a sense of pride that can’t be found anywhere else.

Other notable attractions in this city include the 150-year-old Fountain Square the Cincinnati Zoo which is one of the best zoos in the world, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, and the prohibition-era underground tunnels for alcohol production

St. Louis, Missouri

St. Louis, Missouri is a city with many attractions for both locals and visitors. It’s the home of the Gateway Arch, which was built to celebrate the westward expansion. You can also go to the City Museum, which has an eclectic collection of found objects turned into sculptures and other interactive exhibits, which you can crawl through. Union Station served as a stop on the Underground Railroad and has become a hub for various music performances, festivals, and other events.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee is a city with many types of attractions. The Milwaukee Art Museum, which features over 30,000 pieces from around the world and across history, is a great place to start. For those who enjoy sports, there are several professional teams in the area, including the Brewers (baseball), Bucks (basketball), and Admirals (hockey). The historic Third Ward is a revitalized neighborhood with shopping and dining opportunities. There are also plenty of outdoor activities available, such as kayaking on Lake Michigan or biking along the Oak Leaf Trail System.

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3 ‘not hot’ vacation destinations to avoid the crowds

The last thing you want to deal with on vacation is overcrowding, especially when you book in advance. If traveling more this year is on your to-do list, there are a few options that offer the ultimate escape without the crowds.

Intrepid Travel, an adventure travel company, has researched many places for adventure seekers who want to avoid hectic seasons and destinations with its “not hot” list.

“We release our annual ‘Not Hot’ list to help travelers looking to beat the crowds and to inspire them to seek out different and unique experiences around the world in communities that can truly benefit from visitors,” Matt Berna, president of the Americas at Intrepid Travel, said in a press release .

Here are three vacation “not hot” spots that make for a vacation without the crowds.

Corsica is the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean and a region of France. It is best known as the birthplace of historical icons Napoleon Bonaparte and Pasquale Paoli, and is an ideal vacation destination for those seeking history, architecture, quiet beaches and tamer crowds.

Panama has beautiful landscapes, rainforests, wildlife and beaches. This quiet gem is perfect for those who love history and have a sense for adventure.

“Historians and city-dwellers alike can find something to marvel at during their visit. Take part in Caribbean living in Bocas del Toro , absorb nature’s freshness in Cocle , or learn about pirates in Colon ,” Tourism Pana wrote.

Kefalonia, Greece

Greece has many islands with beautiful scenery and culture. Corfu, Santorini and Mykonos are the most well-known. If you want to experience the country without the crowds, check out Kefalonia , better known as Cephalonia.

With a short plane ride from Athens, the island offers plenty of tours, adventures and eateries paired with sandy beaches and a relaxing vibe.

Vacationing in lesser-known tourist areas can help save money, keep you closer to nature, give you a better, more in-depth experience with the local cuisine, and help you avoid crowds.

About the Author


Ebony Williams is a writer, indie producer and director, and journalist for a variety of magazine outlets. Her career has led her to create content for entertainment, sports, lifestyle, local breaking news and more.

Aerial photograph shows The Home Depot Cumberland Store near the Home Depot Headquarters, Thursday, March 28, 2024, in Smyrna. Home Depot, the home improvement giant, said Thursday it will buy SRS Distribution for $18.3 billion, the largest acquisition ever by the company, as the retailer pushes deeper into the market serving residential contractors. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)


Clayton County police are investigating a shooting Thursday afternoon.

Credit: News Chopper 2

Steve Sadow representing former President Donald Trump listen to the judge during a hearing on charges against Trump in the Georgia election interference case on Thursday, March 28, 2024 in Atlanta. Lawyers for Trump argued in a court filing that the charges against him in the Georgia election interference case seek to criminalize political speech and advocacy conduct that is protected by the First Amendment.(Dennis Byron/Hip Hop Enquirer via AP)

Credit: [email protected]

Katuri, who has been in the shelter since December 2022, enjoys playing outside with volunteers on Thursday, March 21, 2024, in one of the patios at the Dekalb County Animal Shelter. After being free for a court case, she has recently been adopted. Miguel Martinez /miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Photo illustration of a basketball goal.

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The 18 best weekend getaways from new york city.

From picturesque beaches to dreamy mountain retreats, these weekend getaways are the perfect change of scenery.

18 Best Weekend Getaways From NYC

Early morning clouds light up in pink and magenta against a blue sky at the Fire Island Lighthouse, Kismet, Long Island

Getty Images

Fire Island, a weekend getaway about a three-hour drive east of Manhattan, offers sailing, clamming, bird-watching and more.

New York City has been described in many ways, but "relaxing" isn't typically one of them. When you need a break from the hustle and bustle, relieve some stress by packing a bag and getting out of the city for a few days.

To help you pick the right destination for your much-needed escape, U.S. News evaluated expert and traveler opinion to find the best weekend getaways from New York City. Whether you're planning a romantic weekend trip , a fun-filled family escape or some time with friends , these getaways have everything you need for a memorable trip.

Best Weekend Getaways From New York City

About two hours or less:

The Poconos, Pennsylvania

Beacon, new york, philadelphia, north fork, new york.

About three hours or less:

Fire Island, New York

The hamptons, new york, the catskills, new york, cape may, new jersey, mystic, connecticut.

About four hours or less:

The Berkshires, Massachusetts

Shelter island, new york, newport, rhode island, lake george, new york.

About five hours or less:

Saranac Lake, New York

Washington, d.c., the finger lakes, new york.

A quick flight:

Niagara Falls, New York and Ontario

Two hours or less.

Sunset in the Appalachian Mountains over the small American town Jackson Township, Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, Poconos region

This stunning mountain range in northeastern Pennsylvania (about 100 miles northwest of New York City) has appealed to travelers for generations. Perfect for both families and couples, the Poconos offer everything from whitewater rafting tours to fascinating museums and manicured golf courses. If the kids are in tow, let them burn off their excess energy at a water park . Meanwhile, thrill-seekers will be right at home at one of the region's adventure parks, which feature aerial obstacle courses and an all-season tubing hill, and nature lovers will enjoy ample hiking and horseback riding opportunities. Plus, with several romantic restaurants and resorts , the Poconos area has distinguished itself as a premier honeymoon destination for lovebirds. Book your stay at The Lodge at Woodloch for a wellness-centered vacation complete with yoga and art classes, mindfulness experiences, and an adults-only spa.

[See more of the Poconos: Best Things to Do | Hotels ]

Bannerman's Castle on island in Hudson River in Fishkill, New York

Located in New York's Hudson Valley, around 60 miles north of Manhattan, Beacon has transformed in the past two decades from a sleepy industrial town to a thriving arts community, making it the getaway of choice for relaxation-seeking city dwellers. Here, visitors can spend weekends (or a daytrip) perusing vintage shops and flea markets, kayaking along the Hudson River, and exploring Beacon's scenic hiking trails.

The first stop on your itinerary should be Dia Beacon, a renowned contemporary art museum housed in a former Nabisco box-printing factory. One of the largest contemporary art galleries in the country, Dia's robust collection of work spans from the 1960s to the present. From here, take a stroll down Main Street. Lined with doughnut shops, cafes and art galleries, Beacon's main drag features hidden gems such as Hudson Beach Glass and the Towne Crier Cafe, a popular restaurant and live music venue. While there is plenty to do and see in Beacon, you can't leave without touring the ruins of Bannerman Castle. Situated on Pollepel Island and reachable by boat from late April to October, this Scottish-style castle was once a storage site for surplus military equipment and ammunition.

Not only is this quiet refuge less than two hours by car from Manhattan, but travelers can easily hop on the train to reach this destination as well: Take the Metro-North Railroad from New York City to Beacon for less than $50 round trip. There are also plenty of accommodation options to choose from, ranging from cozy bed-and-breakfasts to unique digs like The Roundhouse, an abandoned factory complex-turned-stylish boutique hotel.

Philadelphia buildings around Philadelphia City Hall

Ditch the Big Apple and head about 95 miles southwest to the City of Brotherly Love. Known best for being the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence, Philadelphia is an ideal weekend getaway for families and history buffs. Brush up on your founding fathers trivia on a walking tour of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell Center before strolling through Rittenhouse Square Park. From there, set your sights on the city's must-see museums: The Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Barnes Foundation and The Franklin Institute are all good places to explore.

Philadelphia is also notorious for its substantial culinary prowess . Sure, the cheesesteaks are a must-try – stop in a shop like Dalessandro's Steaks & Hoagies to see for yourself what all the hype is about – but this city has a diverse food scene. If you have time to spare, check out the lengthy list of vendors in Reading Terminal Market, where you can sample everything from Dutch to Thai to Cajun fare.

With limited parking available in the city, it's best to stick with public transportation. New York City travelers can ride the Amtrak from Moynihan Train Hall to the William H. Gray III 30th Street Station in less than two hours. Once here, opt for lodging in Center City, where you'll find an array of coffee shops, posh restaurants and historic sites within walking distance of your hotel . Travelers particularly favor The Rittenhouse for its elegant accommodations and first-rate service.

[See more of Philadelphia: Best Things to Do ]

Seascape with Orient Point Lighthouse in Long Island, New York

Long Island's northeastern peninsula, known as the North Fork, fits the bill for your next weekend trip if you like tranquil seaside villages and laid-back itineraries. Located about 80 miles east of Manhattan and directly north of the illustrious Hamptons, this quiet refuge is characterized by its wineries, beaches and friendly atmosphere. Not only is this short jaunt from the city an excellent place for a couples trips in New York state , but families will also find a plethora of exciting activities here as well.

To get here, catch the Long Island Rail Road commuter train from Penn Station to Greenport. When you arrive, make a beeline for the beach – Orient Beach State Park occupies a prime section of real estate along Gardiner's Bay and is a perfect place for kayaking, swimming and sunbathing. Meanwhile, wine aficionados can spend the afternoon at Macari Vineyards or Sparkling Pointe Vineyards and Winery while families hit up the Splish Splash water park. At the end of the day, unwind at the lovely Harborfront Inn at Greenport.

[Read: The Top Things to Do in Long Island .]

Three hours or less

Fire Island Lighthouse at sunset

This secluded barrier island off the southern shore of Long Island is about 65 miles east of Manhattan and a popular getaway for New Yorkers – for good reason. Travelers will find an unspoiled island free of high-rise buildings and the vexing sounds of traffic, all within a few hours of the city. In fact, Fire Island is a car-free environment, making it the ideal choice for city dwellers in need of a short weekend escape. Here, visitors can enjoy activities like sailing, biking, clamming and bird-watching. Just keep in mind that Memorial Day to Labor Day is considered the busy season, so schedule your vacation outside of these dates if you want to avoid crowds.

Because you can't drive onto the island, the best way to get here is by taking the Long Island Rail Road to Sayville, Patchogue or Bayshore. These destinations have marinas that offer ferry service to and from Fire Island for a fee. When it comes to lodging, Fire Island's options are mostly small inns and hotels, but they fill up quickly, so book in advance to ensure you'll have accommodations. If you'd rather rough it, campgrounds are available within the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness, at Smith Point County Park and at Watch Hill. Keep in mind, backcountry camping permits and daily campsite fees (typically starting at $25 per day) may be required for select areas.

East Hampton beach and lifeguard chair

Arriving in the Hamptons, it's easy to see why this seaside destination on eastern Long Island's South Fork has established such a name for itself. White sand beaches, untouched nature preserves and plenty of bars serving up frozen cocktails are just a few of the alluring images that may come to mind when you imagine an escape to the Hamptons. Luckily for New Yorkers, this little slice of heaven sits less than 100 miles east of Manhattan, making it easily accessible for weekend getaways and daytrips .

Lay down your towel on East Hampton's Main Beach or Southampton's Coopers Beach, then cast a fishing line from the shore of Montauk Point State Park. For a dose of culture, check out the Hamptons' illustrious art scene: The Parrish Art Museum and the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center (open seasonally) are two of the area's most prominent museums. When it's time to turn in for the night, save some coin by choosing a hotel in nearby Riverhead or by camping on the beach.

Kaaterskill Waterfall in upstate New York

For nature lovers, this mountain range in southeastern New York is the perfect place to reconnect with the great outdoors. Home of the famous 1969 Woodstock music festival, the Catskills have been inspiring travelers for decades. Spend the weekend hiking the region's popular trails (the Kaaterskill Falls trail features the tallest waterfall in New York state), or get out on Alder Lake in a kayak. In winter, head here to see Hunter Mountain blanketed in snow and to take advantage of top-notch skiing and tubing opportunities.

In addition to outdoor activities such as hiking, fly-fishing, biking and zip lining, the Catskills are a haven for artists. Follow the Hudson River School Art Trail to witness firsthand the vistas that inspired artists like Thomas Cole. Meanwhile, music lovers and history buffs won't want to miss a visit to The Museum at Bethel Woods, a museum showcasing artifacts and stories from Woodstock. Before calling it a night at one of the region's fabulous hotels or resorts , stop by a microbrewery for a flight.

[Read:  The Top New York Ski Resorts .]

Lighthouse at Cape May, New Jersey

Those looking for a relaxing weekend should consider Cape May, a top romantic getaway destination in New Jersey . Located roughly 160 miles south of New York City, this enchanting East Coast town is beloved for its beautiful beaches, striking Victorian homes and laid-back atmosphere. After soaking up some rays at the beach (the Cove Beach is a traveler favorite), hit up the retailers at Washington Street Mall. Filled with small boutiques, ice cream shops and bookstores, this outdoor mall spans three blocks and is perfect for easygoing strolls.

Other can't-miss activities in Cape May include climbing the Cape May Lighthouse, watching the sun go down at Sunset Beach, embarking on a sightseeing cruise and taking a guided tour of the Emlen Physick Estate – Cape May's only Victorian-era house museum. Cape May offers a plethora of lodging options for weekend trips ranging from quaint B&Bs to hotels set in ornate Victorian mansions. Book a room in historic Congress Hall or The Southern Mansion for charming guest rooms and convenient amenities.

Boats in Mystic, Connecticut

The quintessential New England town of Mystic is situated around 130 miles northeast of New York City and considered one of the top things to do in Connecticut . This seaside village has everything you'd want from a weekend getaway: museums, galleries, delicious eateries and historic landmarks. Head to Williams Beach Park for a quiet day by the water, then stroll through Mystic's historic downtown. Colonial-era sea captain's homes line the streets here, and there are countless places to dine and shop.

Families will also love the Mystic Aquarium for its educational exhibits and interactive habitats. Meanwhile, the Mystic Seaport Museum is a maritime museum that offers several activities for kids, including hands-on exhibits and a zoo garden. Just don't leave without snapping a photo of the iconic Mystic River Bascule Bridge, a 1922 drawbridge that connects the Groton and Stonington sides of Mystic. When you're ready to retire for the evening, Mystic Marriott Hotel & Spa receives rave reviews for its comfortable rooms and ample business amenities.

Four hours or less

Autumn foliage in the Berkshires region of Massachusetts

This rural region in western Massachusetts (about 150 miles north of Manhattan) has all the makings of a fairytale getaway with plenty of things to do . Picturesque mountain ranges, winding roads and idyllic towns are synonymous with the Berkshires, making this destination the perfect place to escape the hubbub of New York City. Bring your partner along to enjoy a romantic weekend filled with antique shopping, museum tours and scenic car rides through the region's lush countryside.

For breathtaking mountain panoramas, strap on your hiking boots and head to the summit of Mount Greylock, the highest point in Massachusetts. Meanwhile, culture hounds won't want to miss a chance to tour the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and The Clark Art Institute. In summer, catch a dance performance at the prestigious Jacob's Pillow or listen to live music on the lawn of Tanglewood, an extravagant music venue and summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Accommodations in the Berkshires run the gamut from B&Bs to luxurious hotels and resorts. Many past travelers say Canyon Ranch Lenox , while pricey, is worth the splurge for its wellness-focused amenities and indulgent spa treatments.

Sign at Shelter Island, New York

Only accessible by ferry, this hidden oasis between New York's North Fork and South Fork is perfect for a quick weekend escape from the city. You won't find rowdy nightlife or luxurious accommodations here, but that only adds to its appeal. In fact, nearly a third of the island is made up of the Mashomack Preserve, a protected habitat with 11 miles of coastline and more than 2,350 acres of tidal creeks, freshwater marshes, fields and woodlands. The preserve is also a major hub for bird-watching: More than 200 species of birds call this area home, although it is specifically known for its large population of nesting osprey.

Elsewhere on the island, visitors can lounge on Wades Beach, a family-friendly stretch of sand featuring lifeguards and a comfort station, or enjoy water sports at Shell Beach. Shelter Island is a premier spot for kayaking: The seasonally open Kayak Shelter Island offers single and double kayaks, along with paddleboard rentals. While the island has golf courses, boutique shopping and courts for petanque (a French game similar to bocce ball), undoubtedly the best thing to do here is nothing at all.

To get here, start by taking the Long Island Rail Road commuter train to Greenport, then board the North Ferry to Shelter Island. Alternatively, you can get here by driving to Sag Harbor and then loading your car onto the South Ferry. For lodging, Shelter Island offers a handful of small hotels, vacation rentals and B&Bs.

3 travel spots

Tips on Trips and Expert Picks

Travel tips, vacation ideas and more to make your next vacation stellar.

Lighthouse in front of bridge at sunset in Newport, Rhode Island

If sandy toes and lobster rolls are calling your name, look no further than Newport, Rhode Island – one of the best spots for a weekend getaway in New England . This port town, located on the southern tip of Aquidneck Island and about 180 miles northeast of New York, is famous for its miles of pristine shoreline, upscale boutiques and ornate Gilded Age mansions, which you can ogle on a trolley tour . It is also lauded as one of the world's premier sailing destinations.

While here, gain your sea legs aboard a boat tour of Newport Harbor, or get your steps in on part of the Cliff Walk, a scenic 3.5-mile pathway that runs along Newport's eastern shore. Then, engage in some well-deserved retail therapy along Thames Street, which is lined with a plethora of shops and restaurants. Of course, you can't leave without touring The Breakers, Newport's iconic Renaissance-style "summer cottage," which is one of the top things to do in Rhode Island . When it's time to bed down, check out one of Newport's many lavish accommodations, such as The Vanderbilt and The Chanler at Cliff Walk .

[See more of Newport: Best Things to Do | Hotels ]

Lake George in New York during sunset on a cool spring day

Situated in New York's Adirondacks region, roughly 200 miles north of Manhattan, Lake George is filled with fun activities the whole family can enjoy. Sink your toes in the sand at Lake George Beach, also known as the Million Dollar Beach: a kid-friendly stretch of sand complete with lifeguards and concession stands. Then, work up a sweat hiking Prospect Mountain and Shelving Rock Falls. For more of a thrill, check out Lake George's parasailing, whitewater rafting and zip lining courses.

If you're simply looking to kick your feet up on your weekend getaway, rent a pontoon boat and spend the day floating around Lake George. The region is also home to restaurants, the Adirondack Winery outpost in Lake George and several museums, including The Hyde Collection and the Fort William Henry Museum. After an eventful day of lake activities, head back to your plush accommodations at The Sagamore Resort to unwind.

[See more of the Adirondacks: Best Things to Do | Hotels ]

Five hours or less

Saranac Lake in New York

This quiet village in upstate New York (around 300 miles north of New York City) is less crowded than the popular Lake Placid, making Saranac Lake an excellent choice for a weekend getaway from the city. Take advantage of this stunning lake by getting out on the water in a canoe or kayak, then get your heart pumping on the 3.7-mile Bloomingdale Bog Trail. For an extra dose of history, the Saranac Laboratory Museum showcases Saranac's interesting past as a tuberculosis treatment destination. Downtown, you'll also find a variety of shops, restaurants and art galleries to keep you occupied for hours, plus little ones will enjoy the Adirondack Carousel, which runs Friday through Sunday.

Saranac Lake is also a popular winter destination thanks to its plethora of outdoor sports (think: snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and ice fishing) and traditional winter activities such as the annual Saranac Lake Winter Carnival, which takes place every February. The event also features a fireworks display and multiple parades. When it comes to lodging, visitors will mostly find cozy cabins and B&Bs here, but a handful of luxury hotels are available as well. For the ultimate in comfort, book your stay at Hotel Saranac, a historic property with modern amenities.

Pink skies over the Tidal Basin and Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., while the yoshino cherry trees are in full bloom

Famous for its slew of historic landmarks, monuments and museums (many of which are free to enter), Washington, D.C., has long appealed to historians and politicos. However, there's more to the nation's capital than meets the eye. With more than 20 neighborhoods to explore and innumerable things to do , Washington is a treasure chest waiting to be unlocked. Find killer nightlife and impeccable dining in the Shaw and U Street area, upscale shopping in Georgetown, charming 19th-century row houses in Dupont Circle, and a bevy of historic attractions on Capitol Hill.

If you're only visiting for the weekend, expect an action-packed schedule. Start by hitting up one of the city's first-rate museums: The National Museum of Natural History, National Museum of African American History and Culture, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the National Gallery of Art are a few traveler favorites. Then, take a stroll along the Tidal Basin (you can also get out on the water by renting a paddleboat) or relax on the lawn of the National Mall. Here, you'll have easy access to attractions like the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and its Reflecting Pool, the White House, and the U.S. Capitol. Note, though, that while many of D.C.'s attractions are free, some museums may require timed-entry passes to be reserved ahead of time, so plan as far in advance as possible.

Located roughly 225 miles southwest of NYC, Washington is an easy drive by car or bus. However, the best way to get here is by train. Take Amtrak's high-speed Acela or Northeast Regional train to Union Station and shed up to 90 minutes off your travel time. Plus, because Washington frequently plays host to celebrities, politicians and business tycoons, there are plenty of top-notch accommodations to choose from once you arrive. For a luxurious stay, book a room at The Jefferson , a sophisticated property with European flair plus a restaurant and a cocktail bar on-site. An added bonus? The Jefferson is located only a mile away from the National Mall, so you'll be right where the action is.

[Read: The Best Washington, D.C., Tours .]

Boston buildings in the evening

Bordering Boston Harbor and Massachusetts Bay, New England's largest city sits 215 miles northeast of New York City; travelers can opt to travel here by car, bus or train. Whether you're drawn here by the cobblestone streets, the historic landmarks or the city's strong baseball roots (a visit to Fenway Park for a game or behind-the-scenes tour can't be missed), Boston has all the ingredients you need for a memorable weekend getaway – just remember to pack your walking shoes .

After you've successfully trekked the 2.5-mile Freedom Trail (or hop-on, hop-off bus tour) to some of Boston's most famed attractions – including the Paul Revere House, Old North Church and Faneuil Hall Marketplace – find a shady spot to rest in Boston Common or the Boston Public Garden. For a dose of culture, check out the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, which features landscaped gardens and an extensive collection of European, Asian and American art. When you've tired yourself out from a day of sightseeing, hang up your coat in one of Boston's premier hotels . Four Seasons Hotel One Dalton Street, Boston and the Boston Harbor Hotel at Rowes Wharf are two of the city's top properties, both offering a lengthy list of amenities and plush accommodations.

[Read:  The Top Boston Harbor Cruises .]

Sunset over Canadice Lake in New York

New York's Finger Lakes – a collection of 11 lakes that includes the popular shorelines of Seneca Lake, Skaneateles Lake and Cayuga Lake – are revered for their spectacular water sports opportunities, scenic state parks and top-notch wine. As one of the chief wine regions in the country and the largest wine-producing area in the state of New York, the Finger Lakes region has earned its reputation as a top destination for romantic weekend getaways.

For short stays in the Finger Lakes, following the Seneca Lake Wine Trail is the best way to see a lot of local wineries in a little amount of time. With nearly 30 wineries and several restaurants set along the route, the trail is perfect for leisurely car rides in the countryside (just be sure to assign a designated driver ahead of time). Opt for a refreshing riesling, the region's signature wine, or expand your palate on a tasting tour.

Meanwhile, nature lovers should head to Robert H. Treman State Park or Watkins Glen State Park for a chance to see breathtaking waterfalls. If you're looking for a small-town atmosphere with local shops and museums, you can't go wrong with Skaneateles Lake. Here, you'll also find a variety of charming B&Bs and inns like the Mirbeau Inn & Spa , a traveler favorite. Other top lodging options in the Finger Lakes region include the Inns of Aurora and The Statler Hotel at Cornell University , both of which offer easy access to Cayuga Lake.

A quick flight

Niagara Falls in daylight

If you're willing to hop on a short flight (or take a bus tour), you can enjoy a weekend marveling at one of the most beautiful and impressive natural wonders of the world: Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls is less than a two-hour flight from New York City – and, while this powerful waterfall is sure to take your breath away, it isn't the only reason to plan a weekend getaway to the area. With beautiful botanical gardens, wineries and casinos, this famous tourist town has everything you need for a fun-filled weekend away. Take advantage of both the American and Canadian sides of the Niagara River by bringing your passport with you.

For a classic Niagara Falls experience, don a poncho and board the Maid of the Mist boat tour. This famed attraction is one of the best ways to see the falls up close, but it's impossible to guarantee you won't get wet. If you'd rather view the falls from a drier and less crowded vantage point, head to the observation deck of the Skylon Tower. Thrill-seekers can also experience the falls on Journey Behind the Falls, which takes participants directly behind the thunderous waterfall, or on an exhilarating jet boat tour. When it's time to turn in, visitors on the American side of the falls can book their stay at Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino , while Ontario-based guests spend a cozy night in the well-appointed Harbour House Hotel .

[See more of Niagara Falls: Best Things to Do | Hotels ]

You might also be interested in:

  • The Top Cheap Weekend Getaways in the U.S.
  • The Top Weekend Getaways From Washington, D.C.
  • The Top Things to Do in Maine
  • The Top Things to Do in New Hampshire
  • The Top Things to Do in Vermont

Tags: Travel , Weekend Getaways , Vacation Ideas , US Vacations

World's Best Places To Visit

  • # 1 South Island, New Zealand
  • # 4 Bora Bora

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25 Best Girls' Weekend Getaway Destinations to Visit With Your Besties

Boston, Seattle and Palm Springs are only a few destinations you all will find affordable and fun.

preview for Plan Your Next Girls Getaway at This Tiny House Village

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Quality time spent with your closest girlfriends is a necessity. Whether you all have the chance to catch up over drinks or plan a night in ordering takeout and watching your favorite rom-coms, the bonding experience of enjoying the company of your besties is always time well spent. It’s because of these unforgettable moments that planning the ultimate girls' weekend getaway should be at the top of your agenda this year.

All-inclusive resorts, cozy hotels and vacation home rentals help you make planning a bachelorette trip , birthday trip or reunion weekend stay in any location a total no brainer. All that’s left to do is to grab your girl squad and go. Happy travels!

Nantucket, Massachusetts

girls weekend getaway nantucket

If you need a mental reset, Nantucket is the place to go. Although the idyllic island is quiet, you won't find yourself bored. Enjoy morning runs along the beach, strolls through the historic cobblestone streets and drives on the sandy white beaches. Nantucket has a surprisingly sprawling food and drink scene. Cisco Brewers is a fun spot to grab a drink and Millie's serves up great margaritas and fish tacos. Don't leave without grabbing a cup of coffee from Handlebar Cafe —the cute shop was featured on an episode of HGTV's Island Life . Stay at Nantucket Hotel & Resort , which offer suites and cottages big enough for all your girl pals.

Napa Valley, California

girls weekend getaway napa

Home to more than 400 wineries, a trip to Napa is as close as you can get to wine country heaven. The valley is just a two-hour drive north of San Francisco, which makes it easy to get to while still offering the feel of a distant vacay. Perfectly landscaped rolling hills and bright green vineyards will greet you upon arrival. Recently renovated, The Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa is the ideal home base for your girls' weekend. Between wine tastings, dine at some of the valley's Michelin-starred restaurants, unwind during a spa treatment or partake in some retail therapy.


Savannah, Georgia

girls weekend getaway savannah

Craving some Southern hospitality? Head to Savannah, Georgia, to enjoy a slower and more meaningful pace of life. It's easy to walk around this historic city while taking in the beauty of the live oaks and magnolias. Because the city is known to be one of the most haunted in the United States, there are plenty of ghost tours worth taking if you dare. The vibe at the Thompson Savannah on the city's riverfront is 100 percent.


Austin, Texas

girls weekend getaway austin texas

Home to some of the best barbecue in the country, Austin has become an increasingly popular destination for bachelorette parties and weekend getaways. Visitors love venturing out to Rainey Street for a fun scene and craft cocktails. Plan to spend an afternoon walking along South Congress Avenue, where there's ample shopping, restaurants and music venues. Odd Duck is a popular dinner spot and Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew is loved by locals. The new EVEN Hotel Austin is budget-friendly, well-designed and fun!


St. Michaels, Maryland

girls weekend getaway maryland

Maryland's Eastern Shore is an overlooked travel destination—and it shouldn't be! While visiting, you can set sail on a sunset cruise or hire a captain to take you out on a yacht. If you're looking for a place to stay, consider the Inn at Perry Cabin , which served as the main filming location for Wedding Crashers. The luxury resort is set on the waterfront, offering guests sweeping views and easy access to boating activities. While staying at the resort, practice your tennis game, play a round of golf or relax by the pool.


New York City, New York

girls weekend getaway new york city

The Big Apple truly has something to offer every type of traveler — Broadway shows, strolls through Central Park and shopping on the Upper East Side. Bemelmans Bar is a special place to indulge in a cocktail and light bites — it's located inside The Carlyle Hotel and features murals by Ludwig Bemelmans, the creator of the classic Madeline children’s books. Brunch in the city is also a good vibe, but nothing is better than a traditional New York bagel.


Cape May, New Jersey

girls weekend getaway cape may

Just a few hours driving from Manhattan, Cape May is an easy place to escape the madness of city life. The seaside town is located at the southernmost tip of the Jersey Shore but the whimsical charm will make you feel like you're walking through the pages of a storybook. Stay at Beach Plum Farm for a cozy and unique experience. The 62-acre property has five cottages that you can choose to rent during your stay. Guests get their own personal golf carts to use throughout their trip and love the attention to detail provided by staff members, like having fresh doughnuts and coffee delivered to the porch each morning. Shop at the local boutiques, take a walk along the sandy beach, buy some chocolates from Louisa's , and enjoy dinner and a Cape May Mule at The Ebbitt Room .


Scottsdale, Arizona

girls weekend getaway scottsdale

Head to Scottsdale if you’re in the mood for a party scene. The old town area is packed with clubs and casual bars and the dining provides some of the best eats in the southwest. Toca Madera is a must-try—order guacamole for the table, which has pomegranate seeds mixed in it for a unique flavor. If you want to break a sweat without suffering through the Scottsdale heat, sign up for a FloatFit Fitness yoga class at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess . The workout class is held on a paddle board raft in the hotel’s pool.


Washington, D.C.

girls weekend getaway washington dc

Got a history buff in your group? D.C. will offer them their fix while catering to every type of traveler's needs. Beyond the basics of checking out the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, go undercover and explore the world of espionage at the International Spy Museum or tap into your creative side at the Smithsonian American Art Museum . (Keep in mind that many DC museums still require advance reservations.) The Georgetown area is an excellent place to stay and eat! Wolfgang Puck's CUT is located in the Rosewood Washington D.C. in Georgetown (which offers townhouses for a dreamy girls' weekend in the city). Brasserie Liberté serves up scrumptious French cuisine and cocktails while Bourbon Steak at the Four Seasons Hotel has cuts of beef that will melt in your mouth and a female executive chef to boot. Over in the Navy Yards area, where the Washington Nationals play, Osteria Morini wows with its brunch favorites, including mimosas in several flavors and divine ricotta pancakes.


Palm Springs, California

girls weekend getaway palm springs, california

For a winter or spring girls' getaway, Palm Springs shines. Book one of the many charming hotels with a pool so you and your girlfriends can lounge outside with mimosas in hand. With a large heated pool, 21 casitas and suites with massive California hand-painted flower murals and a guest-only speakeasy champagne rosé bar, the Fleur Noire Hotel fits the bill. As far as activities around town go, check out the shops in downtown, explore the city on a Jeep tour , or get sporty with a round of golf at a nearby course—there are more than 100 courses in the area.


Denver, Colorado

girls weekend getaway denver

Denver is a no-brainer if you're eager to travel somewhere that offers the perfect combination of city and nature. Hike at Red Rocks Park, attend a Rockies or Broncos game, check out art displays in the RiNo District , brunch downtown or kayak in Evergreen Lake, all within a 30-mile radius. Be sure to stop by Washington Park —which many refer to as Denver's Central Park — for a picnic. If downtown isn't really your scene, the Cherry Creek neighborhood boasts a variety of boutiques, bars and restaurants without the busy city feel. Stay at the Curtis Denver, a budget-minded pick which has fun themed rooms and suites for pop-culture buffs.


San Diego, California

girls weekend getaway san diego

If you're traveling to San Diego sans kids or conferences, zero in on the Gaslamp Quarter and Little Italy. These two neighborhoods near downtown are packed with restaurants, bars, shops and boutique hotels, like the Pendry San Diego. In Little Italy, the food and atmosphere at Kettner Exchange makes for the perfect girls-night-out vibe. Order the Dirty Verde, which is made with tequila, lime, cucumber, poblano chile liqueur and paprika oil — it's one of the best cocktails they serve.


Palm Beach, Florida

girls weekend getaway palm beach

Giving off major Lily Pulitzer vibes, Palm Beach is a classy and feminine place to spend a girls' weekend. Travelers rave about the rooms and overall vibe of The Colony Palm Beach . The property has a retro beachy feel that makes it super Instagrammable. Grab lunch at Honor Bar and plan a spa day or sign up for tennis lessons at The Breakers .


Woodstock, Vermont

girls weekend getaway woodstock vermont

Flock to Woodstock, Vermont, in the fall to catch sight of some stunning foliage. Colonial character meets New England countryside in this quaint town. The Woodstock Inn & Resort , which is set against the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Park, is a popular choice for travelers to call home while visiting. Perfectly manicured landscaping and authentic New England craftsmanship greets guests upon arrival. The onsite spa offers services like a Himalayan salt stone massage and an espresso mud body scrub, tempting guests to never check out. The hotel can also assist with registering you and your group for a cooking class.


RELATED: Stunning Places to See Fall Foliage in New England

Watch Hill, Rhode Island

girls weekend getaway rhode island

If Taylor Swift owns a house in Watch Hill then it must be a good girls' trip spot, right? Consider this one of the most picturesque destinations in the United States. Local businesses like cute coffee shops and boutiques add a special touch to this seafront town. Spend your days relaxing on the beach, biking along perfectly paved paths or reading poolside. Whether you stay at a hotel like Ocean House or a house rental, stream rom-coms at night to complete the vibe.


Chicago, Illinois

girls weekend getaway chicago

A trip to Chicago isn't complete without posing in front of the famous bean at Millennium Park or taking a boat tour through the Chicago River. Art and design fans will surely fall in love with the city's architecture and character. Fresh from a glow-up, the Hyatt Regency Chicago — right on the Chicago Riverwalk– is a convenient home base. Nearby, 360 Chicago is a trendy place to enjoy a craft cocktail while taking in the city's views from 1,000 feet up.


Boston, Massachusetts

girls weekend getaway boston

Luxury and history collide in the city of Boston. Walk the historic neighborhood of Beacon Hill, one of the most photographed areas in the city. Round up your girlfriends and shop around the cute local boutiques on Newbury Street, then grab a latte from one of the trendy cafes in the area. You can find some delicious cannolis in Boston's Little Italy, which locals refer to as North End— Mike's Pastry is a go-to. The Whitney, a boutique hotel in the Beacon Hood neighborhood, has two-bedroom suites so your whole girl squad can join the fun.


Lexington, Kentucky

girls weekend getaway lexington

Head to the horse capital of the world and you'll find yourself immersed in country beauty with the added benefit of Southern hospitality. For unique accommodations, stay just outside of Lexington at The Kentucky Castle , a 100-acre farm that has just 15 rooms. One must-do activity during your stay: Split the cost of a rental car with the rest of the gals in your group and take a drive through the rolling hills and whimsical country side.


Seattle, Washington

girls weekend getaway seattle

Seattle provides visitors with a home base for both city and island adventures. You heard that right—Bainbridge island, just a 45-minute ferry ride from the city, is a fun place to wine taste and explore while in Seattle. Plan to spend a day on the island and be camera-ready for the views of Seattle on your ferry ride back. The rooftop bar at the Thompson Seattle is a local hotspot. Another reason to stay at the hotel: It's a short walk to Pike's Place Market, chock full of interesting eats.


Montauk, New York

girls weekend getaway montauk

There's a reason New Yorkers love to flee to the Hamptons — it's the perfect place to unwind during a long weekend. The seashell-lined beaches are just as inviting as the bar scene. Frequent visitors rave about the luxe beachside accommodations at Gurney's Montauk , but even if you don't book a room there, make sure you swing by their Beach Club. It's a 2,000-foot long private beach that non-resort guests can also enjoy — rent a day bed or lounge sofa, or hang out by the bar.


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More From Forbes

The 23 best places to travel around the world in 2023, chosen by the experts.

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There’s no denying that travel is back in 2023, thanks to a pent-up demand for all those vacations that were put on hold during the pandemic. But what are the best international places to visit? What are the top travel destinations around the world?

Every year, I round up the best places to visit. This year, in honor of Women’s History Month in March, I tapped into leading women travel experts and influencers to find out their choices for the best international places to travel in 2023.

Want to stay closer to home? For ideas of where to travel in America, check out “The Best Places To Travel In The U.S. In 2023.”

Brazil-born, San Francisco-based Catarina Mello (@professionaltraveler) in Oman, one of the best ... [+] places to travel in 2023.

This year, the picks for where to go in 2023 span the gamut from European capitals to exotic beach escapes to sustainable rainforest retreats. Compare these choices to last year’s selections for the best places to travel around the world .

But keep in mind: With travel demand soaring and 31% of travelers saying they intend to spend more on international travel this year, costs on the rise and the airlines encountering record demand , don’t delay. Now is the time to book that bucket list trip of a lifetime.

Best High-Yield Savings Accounts Of September 2023

Best 5% interest savings accounts of september 2023, best places to travel in 2023: europe.

Castell Son Claret in Mallorca.

Where to Go: Mallorca

Chosen By: Heidi Mitchell is a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal , covering an array of topics from cybersecurity to the psychology of work, and is an award-winning travel writer for publications including Travel + Leisure, Town & Country and the Financial Times’ How To Spend It . She lives between Chicago and London, though she will always be a native New Yorker and a global nomad.

Why : With demand soaring, United Airlines has, for the second year, instituted direct flights from JFK to Palma de Mallorca starting again in April. Since the pandemic began, loads of Europeans and Americans have relocated to this Balearic island known for its wide beaches but which actually shines more brightly inland—where new arrivals are rediscovering the work newly-starred chefs like Santi Taura who makes every dish (literally–including the ceramics) by hand nightly at his tiny DINS restaurant , the pleasures of strolling the cobbled streets of Valldemossa in the interior, the expansive winery of José Ferrer in Binissalem and the challenging bike trails that are best enjoyed in spring and fall, when temperatures are deliciously cool. “I didn’t expect the town of Palma to have such a Moorish influence — that 13 th -century cathedral!—nor did I think I’d feel comfortable walking the streets of Palma at night on my own, but it’s so clean, magically illuminated at night, and buzzing with youthful couples strolling hand in hand,” says Mitchell.

In the un-kissed hours, even if you’ve been to Mallorca before, today you’ll find a renewed energy. Paul Skevington, a former executive headhunter, moved from London to open a premium cycling outfitter called Parietti in what he calls “the Mecca of European cycling,” an island roughly the size of Delaware. He also jokes that Mallorca has become “Founders’ Island,” a community where everyone starts his or her own business, be it a precious little gift shop ( Ca Na Toneta ) or an artisanal apothecary ( Arquinesia ).

If you’re looking to stay out of the hubbub of Palma, where most of the half-million residents reside, make Castell Son Claret your home base. Originally built as a 19th-century castle, the 43-room pile sits on 326 acres, populated mostly by sheep. “I loved waking early after nights of long dinners and bottles of wine to run it off on the property, veering between sheep and wild olive trees,” says Mitchell. The new garden suites deliver transporting floor-to-ceiling views of the UNESCO-protected Tramuntana mountain range, while the design is a nod to the glamour of the 1960s jet set, reimagined by Spanish design firm Decagano and Juncosa. Its restaurant, Sa Clastra, is run by native son Jordí Canto, who (word has it) has been tapped to receive his own Michelin star.

“Forget what you have heard about package tourists overrunning the beaches here,” says Mitchell. “In fact, forget the beaches, and pack your hiking shoes and an explorer’s mindset. Mallorca today is practically uncharted territory.”

Nneya Richards with ’N A Perfect World in Ragusa, Sicily.

Where to Go: Noto Valley, Sicily

Chosen By: Nneya Richards is a speaker and travel blogger at ’N A Perfect World , a curated intersection of travel, food, fashion and geopolitics inspired by the global-citizen lifestyle of the millennial. Richards aims to empower young people, especially those of color, to travel, as she believes it is through exploring the world that we will bridge cultural gaps and misunderstandings.

Why: “Film and television tourism has always been a thing. It’s arguably Italy’s best PR asset and there’s no doubt that this summer, the Sicilian town of Taormina will be jam-packed with The White Lotus fans,” says Nneya Richards.

Whether lunching at the Four Seasons San Domenico Palace —the actual hotel of the HBO show—or passing through the colorful streets that Valentina ( The White Lotus manager) strolled through on her way to work, Richards says that “you won’t be disappointed in this romantic and charming town.”

But if you’re up for a more in depth Sicilian tour, replete with beautiful architecture and baroque splendor that will take your breath away, fly into Catania and head south into the heart of Sicilian baroque architecture: the Noto Valley.

“In the southeast of Sicily, Val di Noto boasts eight UNESCO World Heritage sites,” says Richards. “This is where you see the true Kingdom of Sicily, even more so, the history of this area dating back to Magna Grecia.”

With the Ionaian sea and beautiful stretches of beaches sparkling during the day and the lit grandeur of the famed Noto Valley towns at night, there’s something for an entire family. “Chocolate fans? Head to the town of Modica,” says Richards. “Love ceramics? Head to an artisanal shop in Caltagirone. The Noto Valley is a can’t miss.”

Kinloch Lodge on the Isle of Skye, Scotland.

Where to Go: Isle of Skye, Scotland

Chosen By: Jane Anderson is a travel writer and magazine editor based in London. Currently travel editor at Prima magazine , the U.K.’s fifth best-selling monthly lifestyle title, and editor of Companion magazine , a tabloid-style title for guests of 25hours Hotels. She also freelances for the travel sections of The Telegraph and iNews . She is also the co-author of Slow Travel Family Breaks: Perfect Escapes in Britain’s Special Places , recently published by Bradt Guides.

Why: The Isle of Skye became famous as the place that Bonnie Prince Charlie escaped to after the Battle of Culloden, thanks to local hero Flora Macdonald. (It’s also home to “The Skye Boat Song,” composed by Sir Harold Edwin Boulton in 1870s and now beloved of Outlander fans.) Part of the Inner Hebrides, Skye is now a place to escape the pace of modern life and take a breath. “It was, and hopefully always will be, a sanctuary,” says Anderson. “My father was from Edinburgh, a place I love and know well, but it took me until my fifties to explore the West Coast of Scotland, a place he holidayed as a young man, and in particular Skye.”

This year sees the opening of The Bracken Hide Hotel , a one-of-a-kind pod hotel and Nordic sauna retreat with a wild swimming pond on the outskirts of the diminutive capital, Portree. Melding rustic charm with a touch of glamour, its luxury cabins reflect Skye’s wild landscape with views of the Cuillin Hills or the Isle of Raasay. The Hub has a restaurant, whisky bar and screening room.

If you prefer something altogether more old-school, head to Kinloch Lodge . Opened by Lord and Lady Macdonald in 1972, and previously their family home, it’s now run by their daughter Isabella Macdonald, who is related to the aforementioned Flora (whose portrait hangs in the wood-paneled restaurant). Along with head chef Jordan Webb, Isabella has brought the hotel’s ethos back to one of seasonality and sustainability with ingredients home-grown in Kinloch’s polytunnels or foraged from the loch shore and forests. Guests can learn these skills from the hotel’s ghillie, Mitchell Partridge or head out with local wildlife expert Stewart Dawber of Skye High Wildlife to spot deer, otters and Golden Eagle

“A highlight of my stay at Kinloch was a whisky tasting with manager Dan in the historic bar where the Macdonald clan discussed joining the battle of Culloden,” says Anderson. “You have to start with the two local distilleries: Talisker , established in 1830, and newbie Torabhaig , producing its first single malt 2021.” To celebrate the 200 th anniversary of the Excise Act (the so-called Year Zero for whisky), Kinloch Lodge has a new package dedicated to the water of life that includes a tour of Torabhaig distillery, a whisky tasting and a picnic lunch.

And finally, don’t miss a meal at Edinbane Lodge , a derelict hunting lodge until five years ago when chef-patron Calum Montgomery, born and raised on Skye, took it over with his family. Taking the title of Restaurant of the Year at the Scottish Excellence Awards in March, it also has four bedrooms to crash out in after you’ve feasted on hand-dived Isle of Rona scallops with smoked seaweed butter and the like.

A view of Nice from the Anantara Plaza Nice Hotel.

Where to Go: Nice, France

Chosen By: Laurie Woolever is a writer and editor who is the co-author (with Anthony Bourdain) of World Travel: An Irreverent Guide and author of The New York Times bestseller Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography .

Why: “Nice is at the forefront of a new era: A new city-wide tram system offers eco-friendly transportation throughout the city, many streets are now open only to pedestrians and its Old Town district is flourishing with new restaurants and boutiques,” says Laurie Woolever.

The arrival of Anantara Plaza Nice Hotel in a rejuvenated 19th century architectural jewel also marks a big moment for Nice and a triumphant return of one of the most storied hotels on the Côte d’Azur. The Belle Époque-era hotel blends old-world elegance with contemporary luxuries, featuring an elaborate spa and signature experiences like “In the Footsteps of Coco Chanel,” which includes a tour of Château de Crémat (the wine estate that inspired Chanel’s famous interlocking-C’s logo) and a tasting of a cuvee that is only available at the Anantara Plaza Nice Hotel.

There’s plenty of exciting food news in Nice, too. “For dining, I love Rouge , a natural wine bar featuring Mediterranean sharing plates founded by a protégé of Yves Camdeborde of Le Comptoir in Paris, and SEEN rooftop restaurant and bar at Anantara Plaza Nice Hotel for its elegant menu and spectacular city views,” says Woolever.

Also notable for 2023: The Monaco Grand Prix will be celebrating its 80th run this May, and this year also marks the 76th anniversary of the Cannes Film Festival. Nice is a great home base for both.

The coastal road along Lake Thun in Switzerland.

Where to Go: Interlaken, Switzerland

Chosen By: Susan Portnoy is a freelance photographer, travel writer, content creator and founder of The Insatiable Traveler . Her work has appeared in AFAR and Newsweek, with upcoming articles in Smithsonian, AARP, and Travel + Leisure.

Why: Interlaken, Switzerland has been called the Adventure Capital of the World and it has become an incredible home base for a vast array of year-round outdoor activities—from hiking and biking to paragliding, bungee jumping and mountain climbing.

“The more I travel, the more I want to savor a location instead of approaching my trips like a tasting menu and visiting multiple destinations—I want to experience a region in depth,” says Susan Portnoy. “Interlaken checks all my boxes. In the Bernese Highlands, the landscape’s natural beauty is a winner and so many activities—like hiking in Grindelwald or kayaking on Lake Thun—were either in town or less than an hour away by car or train.”

With responsible travel in mind, Switzerland is also renowned for its sustainability practices. “I’m in love with its train system. You can get almost anywhere by train with little hassle, and the passenger cars deserve extra points for always being nearly pristine,” says Portnoy. “A Swiss Travel Pass is a must. It enabled me to jump on public transportation and get discounts on excursions and entry into more than 500 museums, all with one QR code.”

Beside hiking, biking, skiing, or swimming, Interlaken offers more hair-raising options. “The most unusual for me was the Canyon Swing ,” says Portnoy. “Simply put (and sporting a harness), I stepped off a mountain, free-falling 300 feet at 120 mph. Just before I might have hit the boulders in the river below, I began swinging back and forth in a slot canyon.”

For something more low-key, Portnoy recommends a visit to the Funky Chocolate Factory (“to learn about the history of chocolate in Switzerland and create your own book-sized chocolate bars”), The Carlton-Europe Vintage Hotel (“it opened in 1898 and has wonderful vignettes filled with antiques from its past”), the Harderbahn funicular (“a must-stop for stunning views”) and Ristorante Sapori e Pizzeria (“with towering ceilings, arches and a gorgeous painted ceiling, it has the opulence of Versailles”).

Cycling to the Barbaria Lighthouse on the island of Formentera, Spain.

Where to Go: Formentera, Spain

Why: “In my twenties and thirties, the Balearics were all about partying on the famed White Ilse of Ibiza. And while I still love a dance, I hanker after the mellower vibes of little sister island Formentera,” says Anderson. “Beloved of hippies and creatives since the 1970s, this Green Isle has largely been kept under the radar.”

Resisting the pressure to build an airstrip, Formentera is only accessible via fast ferry from Ibiza or private yacht—if you’re so lucky—though be warned, the strict laws here protecting the seagrass mean that yachts cannot drop anchor. The precious seagrass gives the surrounding waters that iridescent turquoise hue—as vibrant as any Indian Ocean castaway isle.

“Thankfully plastic bags are banned,” says Anderson, “and all hotels must have a circularity plan encompassing aspects like water use and clean energies.” Vehicles are limited during high season to reduce congestion, pollution and maintain the balance between tourism and daily life for residents. There’s also a Sustainable Tourism Tax . And this year Formentera has committed to the Declaration in Defense of the Night Sky and Right to Starlight, the first steps toward UNESCO recognition as a Starlight Tourist Destination.

One of the biggest attractions of Formentera is its 32 ‘Rutas Verdes’ or ‘Green Routes’ that criss-crosses the island. With over 100km, they give the impression of a much larger landmass when you slow down the pace. All are bike-friendly, passing lighthouses, beaches and mighty defensive towers by the coast or swinging in land by dry-stone walls next to salt flats, windmills, vineyards and ancient archaeological sites, with bird watching and insta-worthy views at every turn. “I recommend an ebike tour with Formentera Ebikes Tours , run by local Bartolo Torres who will keep you fueled with aniseed-soaked figs grown on his family farm,” says Anderson.

“My top tip is to come in the shoulder seasons of May/June and September/October when it’s quieter and less expensive, and slightly cooler—the perfect climate for walking and cycling,” adds Anderson, “and stay at Hotel Casbah , a gorgeous rural boutique hotel with local baskets in the room for you to use during your stay.”

“You’ll find one-off souvenirs at the Pilar de la Mola hippie market, such as dresses made from vintage linen, lace tablecloths and old towels by Coser I Cantar or seagrass-inspired jewelry by Enric Majoral . And check out the forthcoming dates for Formentera Astronomica stargazing event if you’re into the solar system.”

Naousa village on the island of Paros in Greece.

Where to Go: Paros, Greece

Chosen By: Laura Begley Bloom, travel expert and author of this column.

Why: When it comes to Greek islands, Santorini and Mykonos usually get all the attention. But another spot in the Cyclades is fast becoming the hot destination for true insiders: Paros. You’ll get quintessential whitewashed villages, stunning white-sand beaches and clear-blue Aegean seas, minus the crowds and the high prices.

With its winding streets, the port town of Parikia (sometimes known as Paroikia) is the town most visitors first encounter. But in the northern part of the island, the soulful village of Naoussa is the go-to for the jet set. At night, tables spill out into the narrow cobblestone streets (don’t miss the well-regarded Yemeni ). Meanwhile, al-fresco restaurants like Tsachpinis Ouzeri Ton Naftikon transform the yacht-filled harbor into a buzzing open-air dinner party.

New to the Naoussa hotel scene is Cosme, a Luxury Collection Resort , set on the outskirts of town. This luxe escape has 40 suites designed with a crisp aesthetic, plus its own private beach club. Another appealing Paros address: Parīlio , a 33-suite retreat characterized by timeless simplicity and surrounded by pastoral landscapes.

Want to bring a piece of Paros home with you? Head to Anthologist , which has jewel-box boutiques at both Cosme and Parīlio, stocking limited-edition items and artisanal objects sourced by Anthologist founder Andria Mitsakos to reflect the authentic ambience of the Greek islands.

Best Places to Travel in 2023: Europe/Asia

Istanbul during sunset.

Where to Go: Istanbul, Turkey

Chosen By: Anya von Bremzen is a three-time James Beard Award–winning author and a contributing writer at AFAR magazine. Anya has published six acclaimed cookbooks and a memoir, Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking . Her new book National Dish will come out in June 2023. She lives between New York and Istanbul, where she owns an apartment.

Why: “With its layered history, magical waterways, and breathtaking vistas, Istanbul has always been known for romance. But this city that straddles Europe and Asia is also a kinetic modern metropolis revitalized recently by a string of ambitious new projects,” says Anya von Bremzen. “One is Galataport , a mixed-use development with a gorgeous waterfront promenade, acres of retail, a futuristic underground cruise port and dining hotspots like the seafood-centric Sait , trendy fusiony Roka and the Populist bar, which serves up local craft beers and incredible views. Also here: the about-to-open Renzo Piano-designed Istanbul Modern museum and the Peninsula Istanbul , which opened last month across several historic buildings, with stunning rooms overlooking the Bosporus.”

Istanbul’s grandest hotel is the Ciragan Palace Kempinski , which incorporates on its grounds a 19th century Ottoman palace. “It’s a local institution and an icon, and by summer it will unveil a super-opulent renovation of its guest rooms and public spaces overseen by designer du jour, Serdar Gulgun,” says von Bremzen.

For thrilling modern takes on Turkish cuisine, von Bremzen suggests the two-Michelin starred Turk , the new Avlu restaurant at the renovated Four Seasons Sultanahmet and classics like Mikla . “I also adore the city’s brilliant female chefs like Burcak Kazdal, who prepares amazing locavore food at her charming Apartiman ,” says von Bremzen.

Come summer, von Bremzen escapes to Bodrum on the Aegean coast. “There, I’ve fallen for a new hotel called Kaya Palazzo Le Chic , located on one of the loveliest stretches of beach in the area,” says von Bremzen. “Its private pier has a great restaurant, and the spa does amazing massages.”

Another reason to head to Istanbul in 2023? “Getting to Istanbul has never been easier,” says von Bremzen. “ Turkish Airlines , the classy award-winning national carrier recently expanded its U.S. getaways with Newark, Dallas and Seattle–Tacoma.” Hot tip: For travelers with lengthy transfer times in its Istanbul hub, the airline is offering the new Istanbul Stopover Program , which includes two complimentary nights at a four-star hotel for economy class passengers and three nights at a five-star hotel for business-class passengers. “Oh, and the airline’s Istanbul business lounge serves some of the tastiest Turkish food in the city,” says von Bremzen.

Best Places to Travel in 2023: Asia

Alyssa Ramos, founder of My Life’s a Movie, in Tokyo.

Where to Go: Japan

Chosen By: Alyssa Ramos, founder of My Life’s a Movie and a solo female travel blogger, content creator, entrepreneur and social media influencer who travels the world full-time and seeks to showcase unique destinations through her unique photography style and honest, detailed travel tips. Her motto is “Dreams Don't Work Unless You Do.”

Why: “With travel almost completely back to normal, it opens up a whole new contender list for best places to go in 2023,” says Alyssa Ramos. “Topping the list is my current location: Japan. After nearly three years of borders being closed for travel, the glorious country has finally re-opened, and it’s even better than ever.”

According to the Japan National Tourism Organization, tourism has been spiking since the country reopened in October. “Despite news of foreigners flocking here, or of it being overcrowded, I’m currently finding it quite spaced out and as always, organized—even during the first Sakura (Cherry Blossom) Festival Season since pre-pandemic,” says Ramos, who is excited about destinations like Tokyo, Kyoto and Okinawa.

Some of the big 2023 news in Tokyo includes the opening of Aman Residences, Tokyo —the brand’s first residence-only development—as well as the debut of Aman’s sister wellness-oriented brand at Janu Tokyo and Japan’s first Bulgari hotel . Another big opening: Tokyu Corporation’s new Tokyu Kabukicho Tower , which will be Japan’s largest multi-use hotel and entertainment complex. It will be home to two new hotels: The luxury Bellustar Tokyo (a Pan Pacific Hotel set on the 39th to 47th floors) and the lifestyle Hotel Groove Shinjuku on the 18th-38th floors

When it comes to entertainment, there’s a lot going on in Tokyo, including the soon-to-open Animate Ikebukuro (the world’s largest anime store), digital art collective teamLab’s new immersive production of the Puccini opera Turandot , a new Japanese Cultural and Innovation Center next to Haneda International Airport and Sunshine 60 Observatory in Ikebukuro (which is reopening as an indoor park). Want to see more of Tokyo? Follow Ramos’s guide to how to plan a city self tour by train .

In Kyoto, there’s a ton of news on the hospitality front, including the Ace Hotel (with an outpost of Piopiko from Michelin-starred chef Wes Avila), Marufukuro (in the former Nintendo headquarters) and the Park Hyatt Kyoto (located close to Kodai-ji Temple).

Another one of Ramos’s go-to spots: the islands of Okinawa. “It reminded me of French Polynesia but for a fraction of the cost,” she says. One place to stay is the new Hoshinoya Okinawa , a beachfront island resort in the coastal village of Yomitan. Ramos also recommends the Zamami Islands for the beautiful beaches.

Juliana Broste in Sri Lanka.

Where to Go: Sri Lanka

Chosen By: Juliana Broste is a 12x Heartland Emmy Award-winning travel filmmaker and host, showcasing adventures and fun things to do around the world. Come along for the adventure at @TravelingJules on Instagram or travelingjules.com .

Why : “It’s no secret, Sri Lanka has had a hard time,” says Juliana Broste. “Even with inflation, visitors will find Sri Lanka a spectacular, affordable destination worth the long haul. Loop around the island and you’ll see why this land will keep you guessing—from the hustle and bustle of capital city Colombo to beautiful beaches, rice fields, waterfalls, plains, and mountains.”

There’s a lot to see in a relatively short distance, so have your camera at the ready. “Spotting the wildlife in Sri Lanka is really special,” says Broste, who explored the country on a photo tour . “You can go on safari to an Elephant Sanctuary, go whale watching on the Indian ocean and spy on birds, lizards, jellyfish and monkeys in a mangrove.” On Broste’s bucket list for next time: spotting leopards at Yala National Park.

Sri Lanka has plenty of interesting cultural attractions to explore, including the ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Kandy . “Be sure to pack an all-white outfit that covers your shoulders and legs when visiting religious sites,” says Broste. “Catching a traditional Kandyan dance performance is a highlight, seeing men and women in traditional dress telling stories through dance.”

Tucked away in hill country, Nuwara Eliya, known as “Little England,” is a cool climate escape where a famous Sri Lankan export, ceylon tea, is produced. “Winding roads reveal rows and rows of tea bushes on the hillside—be sure to stop in for a cup of tea on your visit to a tea factory and plantation ,” says Broste. “Equally as fun: sampling a king coconut on the side of the road along your adventure.”

For an incredible view of Colombo, head to the top of the shimmering pink Lotus Tower for a bird’s eye view of the city. “It’s a symbol of the city and just a touch taller than the Eiffel Tower,” says Broste. “Another famous viewpoint worth the hike is the ancient city of Sigiriya known as Lion’s Rock, with the ruins of an ancient stronghold located atop a dramatic rock outcrop. It’s wild to think how an entire civilization lived here centuries ago.”

A junk boat crossing Hong Kong harbor.

Where to Go: Hong Kong

Chosen By : Currently exploring South East Asia, India-Jayne Trainor is a travel writer and photographer who has contributed to AFAR , Atlas Obscura and Reader’s Digest , among others. She shares her adventures and tips on Instagram @exploringwithindia .

Why : “Hong Kong’s slogan is ‘Asia’s world city,’ and this couldn’t be more accurate. Each time I visit, I wish I’d spent longer exploring—but with diverse cuisine, a burgeoning arts and culture scene and more than two hundred jungle- and beach-covered islands, you’re constantly discovering new things to see and do,” says India-Jayne Trainor.

There has never been a better time to discover Hong Kong: The city is giving away half a million flights this year. The region recently lifted its final Covid restrictions, and the past three years allowed for the development of new luxury hotels, such as The Regent , The Hari and Fullerton Ocean Park , which are also elevating Hong Kong’s foodie reputation to new heights.

Local teahouses and street food still dominate, but flavors from Asia, Europe and North America can be found in restaurants including Jade , Heimat and Mosu . “Mosu is in one of my favorite neighborhoods, the West Kowloon Cultural District. Home to the new M+ Museum and Hong Kong Palace Museum , it’s a constantly growing arts and culture hub, with theaters, performance spaces, cafes and stunning views of Hong Kong’s skyline,” says Trainor. Art can be found everywhere in Hong Kong, which just concluded Art Basel 2023—from the vibrant street murals in Sheung Wan to the new Tai Kwun buildings.

Although Hong Kong is widely assumed to be densely packed with skyscrapers, its hundreds of islands are just a short ferry ride away. Lamma Island and Cheung Chau have a laid-back feel, with golden beaches and waterfront cafes. For a little more adventure, hiking on Sharp Island or across Hong Kong Island to Repulse Bay offer mountainous views and rewarding beaches. “I love that you can go from bustling city to waterfalls and jungle in less than an hour,” says Trainor. “Despite this, whenever I visit I inevitably return to Hong Kong’s most famous attractions such as Happy Valley, Star Ferry and The Peak—catch the Peak Tram to the top for the best views in the city, ahead of the scenic walk down to Hong Kong Park.”

The Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur.

Where to Go: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Why : Pre-pandemic, Kuala Lumpur was the sixth-most-visited city in the world, and now after being closed for two and a half years, Malaysia’s capital is back and better than ever, with an historic influx of visitors and lots of news for 2023. “I have had plenty of layovers at Kuala Lumpur and always loved the fabulous airport with the mini rainforest complete with waterfall in the middle,” says Alyssa Ramos. “But Malaysia, and specifically Kuala Lumpur, is a destination I am guilty of highly underrating for many years.”

Ramos describes Kuala Lumpur as a “mini Singapore, but for a fraction of the price, with brand-new luxury high rises stretching towards the sky, many with stunning rooftop pools and direct views of the Petronas Towers.”

This year’s big opening is the Park Hyatt Kuala Lumpur , which will occupy the top 17 floors of a 118-floor tower overlooking Stadium Merdeka, the UNESCO heritage site where Malaysia declared independence in 1957.

“There are also fantastic restaurants with a wide array of cuisines from all over the world,” says Ramos. Some of the latest hotspots include Sushi Mew at The Westin KL, Jwala for fiery Northern Indian cuisine (the name of the restaurant mens “flame” in Sanskrit) and the Latin American Mano Restaurant .

On the outskirts of town, the Batu Caves are not to be missed. “Just a short ride with Grab (the local rideshare company) will get you to the famous Batu Caves with their hundreds of colorful steps leading up to cave temples,” says Ramos.

Ninh Binh, Vietnam.

Where to Go: Ninh Binh, Vietnam

Chosen By: Brazil-born, San Francisco-based Catarina Mello ( @professionaltraveler ) is an award-winning luxury travel content creator, photographer, entrepreneur and online educator. Since escaping the office and swapping her digital marketing career at Google for a life as a travel creator, Catarina has grown her audience to over 800k followers across platforms.

Why: “Ninh Binh has been named one of the most underrated destinations in Asia, and it’s often referred to as one of the most beautiful hidden gems on the Asian continent,” says Catarina Mello. “It’s rising in popularity on social media, so it won’t stay a hidden gem for too long. Go while it still offers a very authentic Northern Vietnam experience.”

A fun fact: The 2016 movie Kong: Skull Island was filmed in the province of Ninh Binh. What Mello loves about this area: “Only two hours away from the busy capital city, Hanoi, Ninh Binh is an authentic and fascinating place known for its giant limestone karst mountains, lush valleys, miles and miles of rice fields and winding rivers,” she says. “It’s so beautiful you’ll immediately fall in love with it.”

Travelers spend their days biking through rice fields, hiking limestone mountains for incredible views, visiting pagodas and cruising along the scenic countryside and through caves on a local rowing boat. “In Ninh Binh, the cliffs emerge from the valleys covered in rice fields and rivers—and for that reason, the province has the nickname of ‘Ha Long Bay on Land,’” says Mello. “It’s truly magical.”

Where to stay? “ Tam Coc Garden Resort is in an idyllic setting, surrounded by limestone peaks and lush rice fields,” says Mello. “The hotel gardens are beautiful, the swimming pool has magnificent views, and the rooms and villas are full of charm. Not to mention the outstanding service—there’s nothing they can’t arrange or do for guests.

Be sure not to miss Ninh Binh’s special cuisine: mountain goat meat. “The most famous dishes include goat soup, grilled goat meat with five spices and steamed goat meat with ginger,” says Mello.

India's Patrika Gate.

Where to Go: Rajasthan, India

Chosen By: Alyssa Ramos is the founder of My Life’s a Movie and a solo female travel blogger, content creator, entrepreneur and social media influencer who travels the world full-time and seeks to showcase unique destinations through her unique photography style and honest, detailed travel tips. Her motto is “Dreams Don’t Work Unless You Do.”

Why : “In two words, I would describe India as ‘beautiful chaos,’” says Alyssa Ramos. “I put India back on my travel to-go list this year after years of it being closed due to the pandemic, and after my recent trip, I was even more impressed than ever.”

As a solo female traveler, Ramos says she has never felt safer in India and loves visiting places like Delhi’s Kahn Market (“you can find upscale shops and a lot of cute restaurants and bars”) and the Andaman Island s (“one of my top secret gem locations”).

But for 2023, Rajasthan tops Ramos’s India list. “It has beautiful architecture, palaces, a huge fort, tons of market shopping and, of course, delicious food,” says Ramos. “Be sure to stop by The Tattoo Cafe & Lounge , where the most famous photo of the Wind Palace can be taken, and say ‘hi’ to the owners Juhi and Karan for me. Order something to support your cafe, or even better, get a tattoo—like I did.”

The big news in Rajasthan is Jaipur’s Villa Palladio . The colorful high-design hotel set on a gracious country estate is from the same folks behind the city’s legendary Caffé Palladio and Bar Palladio. Another exciting opening: Johri & Sons , a buzzing cocktail bar created in collaboration with gin brand Stranger & Sons and boutique hotel The Johri at Lal Haveli. On the outskirts of town is the newly opened 3,765-acre Amagarh Leopard Reserve , where you can spot 16 leopards, 250 species of birds, hyenas, foxes and more.

Ramos also loves the classic hotels like Udaipur’s Taj Lake Palace (“a former summer palace floating in the middle of a lake”) and Jodhpur’s Umaid Bhawan Palace (“the royal family of Jodhpur lives in a wing there”). “If you want to feel like royalty, you have to stay at one of these properties,” she says.

Best Places to Travel in 2023: Caribbean, Central and South America

Author Peggy Bree in Manizales, Colombia.

Where to Go: Manizales, Colombia

Chosen By: A digital nomad from Toronto, Peggy Bree lives in Colombia with her malti-poo, Chilli, and is growing her bespoke creative outlet, blank room . Follow her Instagram for her faith, digital nomad and brand/business life.

Why: Cartagena, Bogota and Medellin have had their moments in the spotlight. Now trending for 2023: Manizales, a quiet central Colombia town that is known as the “City of Open Doors,” thanks to its welcoming residents.

“Manizales is the place to go that is off the beaten track,” says Peggy Bree. “If I had to describe Manizales in one word, it would be ‘epic.’”

Surrounded by the massive volcanoes of Los Nevados National Park, Manizales is located in the Andes coffee-growing region. It’s got coffee plantations to visit, hot springs to soak in and a cloud forest to explore. “It’s a side of Colombia that is a bit more unique and wild,” says Bree. “I’ve never seen as much greenery—including large waterfalls surrounded by bamboo trees.”

The place to stay: Attraversiamo , a bamboo boutique hotel (see Bree’s video here ). “It was inspired by Bali, which the scenery in Manizales matched,” says Bree. “It’s the perfect place to read a book, study and journal.”

Nneya Richards, a speaker and travel blogger at ’N A Perfect World on Grenada's Grand Anse beach.

Where to Go: Grenada

Why: Grenada, known as the Spice Isle of the Caribbean, offers world-class beaches, picturesque waterfalls and plenty of news for 2023. “Grenadians have kept their beautiful green isle a hidden gem. But I understand—it’s paradise,” says Nneya Richards.

It’s now easier to get to Grenada than ever. “With Jet Blue offering more direct flights to Grenada, you can expand your Caribbean horizons,” says Richards.

This year’s hotel openings include Six Senses at La Sagesse , which will mark the brand’s debut resort in the Caribbean. With its dedication to sustainability, the resort will have a variety of indoor and outdoor restaurants and bars using fresh ingredients grown nearby and seafood from local fishermen. The soon-to-open Beach House by Silversands Grenada is a small luxury boutique hotel with one-bedroom villas and two-bedroom suites on the cliff or overlooking Portici Beach.

Richards is also excited about Sandals Grenada on exclusive Pink Gin Beach. “Think: pools in the sky and living rooms in swimming pools. Private plunge pools, cascading waterfalls and meandering river pools and butler service,” she says. “Speaking of waterfalls, a trip to the island is not complete without a waterfall hike.”

Grenada is also home to some of the best chocolate in the world. “When you go to a chocolate factory in Grenada, you can pick the cacao pod off the tree,” says Richards. “That’s just a tip of the iceberg with how well you’ll eat when you’re in Grenada.”

A Caribbean coastline in Costa Rica.

Where to Go : Caribbean Coast, Costa Rica

Why: The ultimate destination for the eco-traveler looking for a one-of-a-kind trip with a low environmental impact in 2023? Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast.

This less discovered coast is getting a lot of buzz, thanks to its mix of culture and wildlife—without the crowds. It’s the ultimate destination for travelers who are seeking a one-of-a-kind trip with a low environmental impact where eco-lodges, rainforest bungalows and boutique hotels are as easy to find as sloths.

Culture seekers will love the small beach town of Limon , which has become ground zero for travelers in search of snorkeling, surfing and Afro-Caribbean music. Or for a uniquely immersive experience, travelers can stay with the Bri Bri—Costa Rica’s largest indigenous community—in the Talamanca, and discover more about their history and traditions.

When it comes to beaches, must-visit spots include Playa Punta Uva, Puerto Viejo, Playa Cahuita, Playa Cocles and Manzanillo. The coast is also home to a number of national parks that showcase a commitment to conservation, including Tortuguero National Park (a nesting site for green turtles), Cahuita National Park (home to sloths and monkeys), Gandoca-Manzanillo Natural Wildlife Refuge (which is home to natural mangrove oyster beds) and Barra del Colorado Wildlife Refuge (the second largest rain forest preserve in the country).

Best Places to Travel in 2023: Canada

Kelsey Marie on the Talking Rocks Snowshoe Tour at Elk Island National Park.

Where to Go: Edmonton, Alberta

Chosen By: Kelsey Marie, content creator and writer at Travel Noire .

Why: Edmonton is a vibrant urban center in the heart of the wilderness—the largest northernmost metropolis and the capital of Alberta, Canada. Visitors can discover 18 hours of daylight during the summer and castles made of icicles during the winter. When it comes to Edmonton’s culinary scene, there is always something new to be discovered—from experiencing the cool and creative Chinese fusion at Fu’s Repair Shop to the finest prairie cuisine at RGE RD .

“I had one of the most amazing meals at RGE RD. From the decor to the plating, this place is phenomenal,” says Kelsey Marie. “Another must-try at RGE RD: the Road Trip. Your tastebuds will embark on a journey, and you won’t know what's coming next on this blind-tasting multi-course adventure.”

Edmonton’s craft beer scene has also been exploding. Visitors can explore the new unofficial brewery district, Happy Beer Street , which features seven craft breweries like The Monolith , offering mixed-fermentation beers that take a few years to brew. Happy Beer Street continues to grow with the eighth brewery, Ale Architect , opening April 2023.

Many Indigenous groups reside in Amiskwaciy Waskahikan, also known as Edmonton, and the history of the land is long and vibrant. Visitors can discover Indigenous experiences in and around the city, including art at Whiskeyjack Art House , Bearclaw Gallery and the Indigenous Peoples Experience at Fort Edmonton Park . And don’t miss Elk Island National Park. “On a snowshoe adventure with Talking Rock Tours , you’ll learn about indigenous culture and surrounding wildlife and have a chance to become one with nature,” says Marie.

The Victoria skyline at night.

Where to Go: Victoria, British Columbia

Chosen By: Corinne Whiting is a Seattle-based writer contributing to outlets like USA Today 10Best, Seattle Times, Seattle Refined and more.

Why: “One of the unexpected joys of living in the Pacific Northwest turned out to be frequent jaunts to charming Victoria,” says Corinne Whiting. “I love the ease of this compact, walkable city and each visit I seem to discover brand-new treasures.”

In 2023, sustainability and respecting and acknowledging local First Nations are at the forefront. Learn about the Songhees Nation at the Songhees Wellness Centre —where people and traditions come to meet—then venture out in a cultural canoe or walking tour departing from the Inner Harbour.

With its impressive natural landscapes, Victoria also takes “green” to another level as an international leader in environmental initiatives . Just recently, Greater Victoria achieved Biosphere certification , marking a major milestone for the destination. Travelers to Victoria can see additional sustainable efforts in action, whether it’s booking a stay at a carbon neutral hotel like Inn at Laurel Point or Parkside Hotel , dining at Big Wheel Burger (Canada’s first carbon-neutral fast-food restaurant) or seeing the iconic Orca Whales with a carbon neutral and ocean-friendly tour operator like Orca Spirit or Eagle Wing Tours .

In June 2023, Fairmont Empress will unveil a multi-million dollar transformation to its signature Fairmont Gold level (the brand’s exclusive lifestyle hotel experience). The renovated Fairmont Gold will feature the addition of 22 guest rooms and a newly renovated Fairmont Gold Lounge, complete with an expanded indoor lounge and outdoor terrace that provides sweeping water views.

For Whiting, other Victoria highlights include First Nations-led tours and kayaking excursions, as well as magical biking adventures peppered with delicious snacks and pints along the way. “And of course it doesn't hurt that Canadians are some of the nicest folks around, too,” she says.

Best Places to Travel in 2023: Africa and the Middle East

Climbing Sossusvlei dune in Namibia's Naukluft National Park.

Where to Go: Namibia

Chosen By: Melissa Klurman is a travel expert and contributor at Reader’s Digest , The Points Guy and Travel Awaits .

Why: “The rolling red sand dunes and remote Skeleton Coast landscapes of Namibia have long been on my Africa bucket list,” says Melissa Klurman, a travel writer and African travel expert who’s been covering the continent for two decades. “This is the year I finally was able to fully immerse in the wonders of Namibia, and it was well worth the wait,” she says.

What made 2023 the perfect time to visit? “ Natural Selection , a safari company that runs stellar, eco-friendly lodges such as the fabulous Shipwreck Lodge, added a flying safari to reach their camps for the first time,” says Klurman, adding, “this is a true game changer for visiting the visually stunning, and very isolated, desert regions of the country.”

While flying safaris are the norm, and quite necessary, in other safari areas of Africa, such as Botswana, in Namibia driving has been the most popular way of getting around. Being able to fly, instead of drive, says Klurman, made all the difference in her itinerary and makes the under-the-radar safari destination much more accessible for travelers. “I was able to visit Etosha Heights in the northern reaches of the country to see wildlife such as elephant, lion, and giraffe, and then fly to the wildly remote Skeleton Coast Shipwreck Lodge, where life seems all but impossible in the massive sand dunes,” says Klurman. “For the rest of the Natural Selection itinerary, a private pilot flew my group to what is now my new favorite lodge anywhere, Hoanib Valley, comprised of just six tents in what feels like another planet, and then on to the Dark Sky Reserve of Kwessi Dunes all the way in the southern NamibRand.”

An itinerary like this could take 13 days driving, but with help from the travel specialists at Audley Travel who helped Klurman plan her itinerary, “Flying, I was able to do the entire thing in half that time,” says Klurman.

Catarina Mello in Oman.

Where to Go: Oman

Why: “If I had to bet on a destination skyrocketing in popularity in the coming years, I’d pick Oman,” says Catarina Mello. “I’ve been to 57 countries, and to say that Oman is the most underrated country I've ever been to is an understatement. Oman is beautiful in every way. The landscapes are spectacular and so diverse: from pristine turquoise beaches with incredible underwater life to beautiful canyons, mountains, wadis that will take your breath away, a glowing orange desert with giant sand dunes and much more.”

There are castles straight out of a fairytale book, stunning mosques, charming mountain villages, souks and markets with local treasures. “Not to mention the rich culture, the cuisine and kindest and most welcoming people you'll ever meet traveling,” says Mello.

The best part? “It’s an extremely safe, welcoming, and relatively small country, making it easy to explore all its different landscapes by car,” says Mello. “It’s the perfect road trip destination.”

Oman has a lot to offer, but Mello’s favorite places include the Daymaniyat Islands right outside of Muscat, Wadi Shab, Bimmah Sinkhole, Sultan Qaabos Grand Mosque, Wahiba Sands desert, Nizwa Fort and Jabreen Castle.

Best Places to Travel in 2023: Oceania

Watching the locals from a bathroom at Tasmania's Kittawa Lodge.

Where to go: Tasmania

Chosen by: Chloe Sachdev is a freelance travel and lifestyle writer. She has lived all over the world—from Singapore and London to Hong Kong—and now calls Sydney’s Bondi Beach home. Her stories appear in print and online for a range of international publications such as Conde Nast Traveller, Travel + Leisure, The Telegraph, The Times and more.

Why: “Tasmania is wild and untouched with a landscape of wind-battered mountains that tumble into a frothy blue ocean, with a world-renowned food and drinks scene steered by this provenance,” says Chloe Sachdev.

A great example of Tasmania’s food scene is found in the heart of Hobart at Omotenashi . “It’s a set-menu experience, with just 12 seats, that riffs on the Japanese omakase experience but showcases Tasmania’s best produce,” says Sachdev. Another must-visit: Institut Polaire , a wine bar and kitchen dedicated to Tasmania’s cold climate biodynamic and natural wines with a seasonal food menu from local growers, fishers and farmers. “They’ve recently opened The Polaire Suite, a sleek one-bedroom short-stay apartment at Hobart’s waterfront precinct,” says Sachdev.

On the east coast in an old oyster hatch is the newly opened Waubs Harbour Distillery in Bicheno. “It’s the world's closest distillery to the ocean, producing a unique maritime Tasmanian single malt whisky,” says Sachdev. “If you can, time your visit during The Great Eastern Wine Week festival in September, a 10-day food and drinks festival showcasing the best of the best from the east coast region.”

Tasmania has always been known for its epic beauty, best explored by foot on a myriad of overland multi-day walks s uch as the Wukalina Walk , a four-day/three-night First-Nations owned and operated guided walk. “For something shorter but with the same Indigenous significance, there is also Blak-led tours , a tourism company based on Tasmanian Aboriginal stories through guided tours and story-telling projects across Tasmania,” says Sachdev.

Beyond the landscape, Tasmania has a thrilling creative scene, thanks to MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) in Hobart. “Although it opened a decade ago, it still pushes the boundaries; the effect can be seen in its Dark Mofo festival held annually in June for two weeks with bonkers public art, live music, performances, and nocturnal revelry around the city of Hobart,” says Sachdev.

There is no shortage of stays in Tasmania, from thoughtfully curated seaside shacks to shipping containers and luxury lodges . “A recent discovery of mine is Kittawa Lodge on King Island off the northwest coast of Tasmania,” says Sachdev. “It’s a chic boutique lodge on the edge of the wilderness. They’ve recently partnered with The Tasman hotel in Hobart, putting together an itinerary for guests to take in the cultural highlights of Hobart, before transferring to King Island.”

Uluru at sunset.

Where to Go: Northern Territory, Australia

Chosen By: Jen Rose Smith , a journalist who freelances for CNN, Virtuoso and National Geographic .

Why: With Australia’s borders open to international travelers since February, visitors have begun to flock back to the land Down Under. For those looking for an off-the-beaten-track outdoor adventure destination, there’s the Northern Territory. With its outback desert landscapes, hidden swimming holes, colorful outdoor markets, Aboriginal rock art, camel rides, traditional art galleries and spectacular Uluru in the red center, the Northern Territory is unlike any other place on earth.

“Visiting the Northern Territory overturned every idea I had about Australia—it’s a mind-expanding encounter with cultures dating back tens of thousands of years,” says Jen Rose Smith.

New for 2023, visitors can experience iconic Uluru in a new light with a state-of-the-art drone and laser light show that will illuminate the desert sky with over 1,000 drones dancing and weaving in a kaleidoscope of color. Called Wintjiri Wiru , the show tells the Mala story, which is sacred to the Anangu Community and traditional owners of Uluru. “Indigenous traditions and creativity are woven into every part of the landscape,” says Smith.

Additionally, world-renowned artist Bruce Munro is launching a new illuminated art piece called Light Towers at Kings Canyon Resort near Watarrka National Park.

Also new to the area: Finniss River Lodge , Australia’s latest experiential lodge near Darwin in the Northern Territory. The lodge has only six suites and offers activities like air boating, fishing and heli-guides, plus a restaurant with dishes made from local produce.

“Everything I encountered left me wanting more,” says Smith. “The landscape goes from red-rock desert to lush, tropical floodplains where I spotted crocodiles, wallabies, and dozens of bird species—it’s constantly changing. This is a place to really slow down, listen and take in some truly remarkable places.”

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12 Favorite Vacation Spots That Deserve a Spot on Your Bucket List

Posted: December 12, 2023 | Last updated: December 12, 2023

<p>The most beautiful places in the world are an absolute must-have on your travel bucket list. They make for unreal and incredible spots to explore new cultures while soaking in the lush beauty of nature well-preserved. If you’ve caught the travel bug and are having difficulty finding these destinations, a community of avid globetrotters recommends these getaway spots for the most memorable time.</p>

The most beautiful places in the world are an absolute must-have on your travel bucket list. They make for unreal and incredible spots to explore new cultures while soaking in the lush beauty of nature well-preserved. If you’ve caught the travel bug and are having difficulty finding these destinations, a community of avid globetrotters recommends these getaway spots for the most memorable time.

<p>Seychelles has some of the best beaches on the planet, some travelers insist. A frequent nomad of the East African country says there are so many secluded natural beaches that nowhere gives a better feel of exclusivity than Seychelles. Someone describes Seychelles as the perfect year-round holiday destination: “The country does not experience a rainy season, and the temperature never drops below 78°F (26°C).”</p>

1. Seychelles, Eastern Africa

Seychelles has some of the best beaches on the planet, some travelers insist. A frequent nomad of the East African country says there are so many secluded natural beaches that nowhere gives a better feel of exclusivity than Seychelles. Someone describes Seychelles as the perfect year-round holiday destination: “The country does not experience a rainy season, and the temperature never drops below 78°F (26°C).”

<p>Having fulfilled her dream of visiting Lapland last Christmas, one itinerant describes Lapland as “a priceless destination you can experience for a tenth of its worth. The Neon-bands of the Northern Lights during winter are just magic.” She adds. A second past visitor says the absence of nightfall in Lapland from mid-May to mid-August feels like an otherworldly experience. “It’s like I am out of this world,” he concludes.</p>

2. Lapland, Finland

Having fulfilled her dream of visiting Lapland last Christmas, one itinerant describes Lapland as “a priceless destination you can experience for a tenth of its worth. The Neon-bands of the Northern Lights during winter are just magic.” She adds. A second past visitor says the absence of nightfall in Lapland from mid-May to mid-August feels like an otherworldly experience. “It’s like I am out of this world,” he concludes.

<p>People consider Barcelona a vacation hotspot for a lot of reasons. One user thinks gazing at the scenic architecture and relaxing by the serene beaches “takes half of the world’s worries away.” For one regular visitor, the thrill of Barcelona is “the mouth-watering cuisines and music, especially Flamenco, which is an expression of the Spanish cultural heritage that speaks home to me.”</p>

3. Barcelona, Spain

People consider Barcelona a vacation hotspot for a lot of reasons. One user thinks gazing at the scenic architecture and relaxing by the serene beaches “takes half of the world’s worries away.” For one regular visitor, the thrill of Barcelona is “the mouth-watering cuisines and music, especially Flamenco, which is an expression of the Spanish cultural heritage that speaks home to me.”

<p>Journey west along Europe’s coastlines to Saturnia, which some voyagers claim has the world’s finest aquamarine hot springs. One holidaymaker notes that the natural warm water cascading into stone pools holds an invigorating effect he can’t explain. “Other than the atmosphere around Saturnia, the water is rumored to have healing properties, but I’ll assume that’s only a soothing fairytale,” he explains.</p>

4. Saturnia, Italy

Journey west along Europe’s coastlines to Saturnia, which some voyagers claim has the world’s finest aquamarine hot springs. One holidaymaker notes that the natural warm water cascading into stone pools holds an invigorating effect he can’t explain. “Other than the atmosphere around Saturnia, the water is rumored to have healing properties, but I’ll assume that’s only a soothing fairytale,” he explains.

<p>“My wife and I stay at a timeshare trade in Palm Desert for a week every February,” a travel aficionado tells other forum members. “From the appeasing walk in the Joshua Tree National Park to taking an aerial tram up Mount San Jacinto, Palm Springs gives a dose of calm that helps me and my wife start the year on a brilliant note.”</p>

5. Palm Springs, California

“My wife and I stay at a timeshare trade in Palm Desert for a week every February,” a travel aficionado tells other forum members. “From the appeasing walk in the Joshua Tree National Park to taking an aerial tram up Mount San Jacinto, Palm Springs gives a dose of calm that helps me and my wife start the year on a brilliant note.”

<p>On account of several sightseers, New Zealand has features befitting of an ideal getaway destination. “It’s the frigid lakes, glaciers, and fjord I can’t get over every time I visit South Island,” a backpacker expounds. “If you are a history buff and are into the culture thing, the North Island is your proper starting place,” one local adds.</p>

6. North and South Island, New Zealand

On account of several sightseers, New Zealand has features befitting of an ideal getaway destination. “It’s the frigid lakes, glaciers, and fjord I can’t get over every time I visit South Island,” a backpacker expounds. “If you are a history buff and are into the culture thing, the North Island is your proper starting place,” one local adds.

<p>“It’s hard to pinpoint what makes Valletta a delight,” according to a contributor on the thread. “The breathtaking views of the upper Barrakka Gardens and sunbathing on the sandy banks of the Mediterranean all add to the allure, but everything looks miraculously conjoined. It’s hard to tell what makes Valletta special even though it is.”</p>

7. Valletta, Malta

“It’s hard to pinpoint what makes Valletta a delight,” according to a contributor on the thread. “The breathtaking views of the upper Barrakka Gardens and sunbathing on the sandy banks of the Mediterranean all add to the allure, but everything looks miraculously conjoined. It’s hard to tell what makes Valletta special even though it is.”

<p>Hawaii is not the only place in the United States that promises an adventurous island vacation, declares a user who suggests he’ll pick ”San Juan ahead of Hawaii any day.” A travel blogger encourages vacationers to take a boat ride across the tranquil waters of the island, hike the mountains that line the island’s edges, participate in whale-watching, or try kayaking to understand why San Juan is an underrated paradise.</p>

8. San Juan Islands, Washington State

Hawaii is not the only place in the United States that promises an adventurous island vacation, declares a user who suggests he’ll pick ”San Juan ahead of Hawaii any day.” A travel blogger encourages vacationers to take a boat ride across the tranquil waters of the island, hike the mountains that line the island’s edges, participate in whale-watching, or try kayaking to understand why San Juan is an underrated paradise.

<p>One vocational explains why Prague is unique: “It is hard to surpass the charming cobblestone streets of Prague’s neighborhoods where tranquil baroque gardens serve as the backdrop of majestic gates and the soothing sounds of sonatas emanate from palace windows.” If you want a destination with your partner that you’re trying to impress, Prague rivals the romantic ambiance of Paris at a lower cost.</p>

9. Prague, Czech Republic

One vocational explains why Prague is unique: “It is hard to surpass the charming cobblestone streets of Prague’s neighborhoods where tranquil baroque gardens serve as the backdrop of majestic gates and the soothing sounds of sonatas emanate from palace windows.” If you want a destination with your partner that you’re trying to impress, Prague rivals the romantic ambiance of Paris at a lower cost.

<p>A Utahan says she enjoys driving over to Aspen from Utah to take a few days off from the strain of work. “Taking Gondola rides to see the mountains and Aspen’s beautiful scenery is therapeutic and helps me relieve stress,” she explains. A local, corroborating her claims, adds that rafting along the Colorado River and snowshoeing in the snowy mountains is a century-old family practice for bonding during the winter holidays.</p>

10. Aspen, Colorado

A Utahan says she enjoys driving over to Aspen from Utah to take a few days off from the strain of work. “Taking Gondola rides to see the mountains and Aspen’s beautiful scenery is therapeutic and helps me relieve stress,” she explains. A local, corroborating her claims, adds that rafting along the Colorado River and snowshoeing in the snowy mountains is a century-old family practice for bonding during the winter holidays.

<p>The views of the city you get once airborne are why Cappadocia is synonymous with flying hot air balloons. Cappadocia’s landscape fields astonishing rock formations, spectacular cave dwellings, and fairy chimneys that will keep you stunned to a fault, someone insists. “I remember the fairy chimneys,” someone adds. “They have cavities from which you can experience the unique charms of these prehistoric shelters.”</p>

11. Cappadocia, Turkey

The views of the city you get once airborne are why Cappadocia is synonymous with flying hot air balloons. Cappadocia’s landscape fields astonishing rock formations, spectacular cave dwellings, and fairy chimneys that will keep you stunned to a fault, someone insists. “I remember the fairy chimneys,” someone adds. “They have cavities from which you can experience the unique charms of these prehistoric shelters.”

<p>A globetrotter currently touring Europe feels Mykonos has a cosmopolitan atmosphere and palpable energy suited for any vacation spot. “The wild party scene merges seamlessly with the historic calm of Mykonos.” A second person says the island city offers the best Mediterranean cuisines, luxury shopping opportunities, and lively beaches in Greece. “If you do not mind the party scene, which draws many visitors all year round, Mykonos is an ideal spot for your leisurely adventure,” a third backpacker adds.</p><p>Source: <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/AskAnAmerican/comments/17dlo0p/where_do_you_go_on_vacation/">Reddit</a>.</p>

12. Mykonos, Greece

A globetrotter currently touring Europe feels Mykonos has a cosmopolitan atmosphere and palpable energy suited for any vacation spot. “The wild party scene merges seamlessly with the historic calm of Mykonos.” A second person says the island city offers the best Mediterranean cuisines, luxury shopping opportunities, and lively beaches in Greece. “If you do not mind the party scene, which draws many visitors all year round, Mykonos is an ideal spot for your leisurely adventure,” a third backpacker adds.

Source: Reddit .

<p>Picture this: a muscle car boldly embracing front-wheel drive! Yes, as astonishing as it sounds, the Toronado emerges as a rebellious outlier, challenging norms prevalent in the era of rear-wheel muscle dominance. Distinguished by its remarkable design, hidden headlights, and distinctive fastback roofline, the Toronado almost seems like an extraterrestrial visitor in the automotive landscape. Yet, despite its audacious foray into uncharted territories, this peculiar bird has regrettably faded into obscurity within the vast tapestry of automotive history. Its unique experiment remains an intriguing footnote in the evolving narrative of muscle car evolution.</p>

Generational Shift: 18 Classic Cars Loved by Boomers, Snubbed by Millennials

In the world of automobiles, some cars are timeless, forever etched in the minds and hearts of those who drove them. But generational shifts in taste and values can lead to once-beloved vehicles being relegated to the shadows. Let’s revisit 18 classic cars adored by Baby Boomers but often overlooked by Millennials.

<p><span>We’re embarking on a financial roller coaster ride through 18 states, and it ain’t the fun kind. We’re talking about states that are having to check under the mattress and behind the couch cushions for extra change. Yep, these states are trying to balance their budgets, but the numbers just aren’t adding up. Why are they skimming through their wallets like they lost a 20-dollar bill? Let’s find out!</span></p>

From Boom to Bust: 18 States on the Brink of Financial Ruin—What Went Wrong?

We’re embarking on a financial roller coaster ride through 18 states, and it isn’t the fun kind. We’re talking about states having to check under the mattress and behind the couch cushions for extra change. These states are trying to balance their budgets, but the numbers aren’t increasing. Why are they skimming through their wallets like they lost a 20-dollar bill? Let’s find out!

<p>As a millennial, I still proudly know the phone numbers of my best friends. However, this skill has been lost to an ever-evolving society since all the phone numbers we need are now permanently in our cell phone contacts list. I remember patting myself on the back as a teenager when I finally memorized my girlfriend’s phone number. Gen-Zers will never know what an accomplishment that was.</p>

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A wall surrounds a rectangle of raked gravel, with some rocks standing in various spots.

Gardens of Stone, Moss, Sand: 4 Moments of Zen in Kyoto

The city’s dry gardens seem timeless, but as these relatively new versions show, their design is still evolving. They offer spots for quiet contemplation in an increasingly overtouristed city.

Kyoto’s dry gardens forgo plants and flowers and instead use elements like gravel, rocks and moss to create contemplative environments. Credit... Andrew Faulk for The New York Times

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Paula Deitz

By Paula Deitz

  • March 26, 2024

Once, when the Buddha was asked to preach about a flower he was presented, he instead “gazed at it in silence,” according to the British garden designer Sophie Walker in her book “The Japanese Garden.” In this spiritual moment Zen Buddhism was born, inspiring the serene and eternal dry or rock gardens called karesansui.

Unlike a garden designed for strolling, which directs visitors along a defined path to take in scenic views and teahouses, a dry garden is viewed while seated on a veranda above, offering the heightened experience of traveling through it in the imagination, revealing its essence in meditation.

With rocks artfully placed along expanses of fine gravel raked by monks into ripples representing water, they are sources for contemplation, whether they refer to a specific landscape or are serenely abstract. Ryoan-ji, which dates to about 1500, is the supreme example of the latter among Kyoto temples, with its 15 low rocks in five clusters set in pools of moss within an enclosed rectangle of raked gravel. The puzzle is that only 14 are visible at any one time, no matter where you sit to view it.

People sit in a row underneath an overhanging roof. In front of them a corner of a rectangular space filled with gravel and isolated rocks can be seen.

Change in Kyoto, Japan’s major city of temple gardens, is a quiet evolution. But a tour of several dry gardens designed within the last century — and even within the last few years — demonstrates that the Zen tradition is timeless when it comes to landscape design, and that moments of contemplation are still possible, even as the crowds grow bigger.

Upon arrival at the Zen monastery complex Daitoku-ji, in northern Kyoto, I headed to Zuiho-in, one of its 22 subtemples. The temple was founded in 1319, and then in 1546, the powerful feudal lord Sorin Otomo dedicated it to his family. This was during the period of Spanish and Portuguese missionaries in Japan. Like others, Otomo converted to Christianity but remained inspired by Zen Buddhism.

I entered along angled walkways until I arrived at Zuiho-in’s temple veranda to view the main dry garden. Though the style may at first appear traditional, this garden was designed in the 1960s by Mirei Shigemori, a landscape architect whose training was in the Japanese cultural arts: conducting the tea ceremony, flower arranging, and landscape ink and wash painting. As the Western Modernist movement entered Japan, he adopted it in combination with traditional arts and became determined to revolutionize a garden aesthetic that had remained fixed for hundreds of years. He succeeded in designing more than 200 gardens in Japan and even worked with the Japanese American sculptor Isamu Noguchi on a UNESCO garden, collecting stones in Japan that Noguchi set in the garden at the organization’s Paris headquarters.

In the Zuiho-in garden, the gravel swirls are raked into high peaks as if far out at sea, with a chain of jagged pointed rocks like islands leading to a mossy peninsula crested by a massive stone representing Mount Horai, where, according to Taoist mythology, the heroes called the Eight Immortals, who fought for justice, reside. Referring to Otomo’s Christianity, rocks in a second garden define a cross, and three rows of squarish stones embedded in sand elsewhere in the garden could be seen as Shigemori’s Modernist signature.

Across town, in the Higashiyama district, the Philosopher’s Walk is a pedestrian path along the picturesque Lake Biwa Canal. First opened in 1890, it is believed to be named for a Kyoto University philosophy professor who strolled there while meditating. As you walk along it, depending on the season, the swift current below carries brilliant autumnal leaves or delicate cherry blossoms shed from trees lining the banks.

Honen-in, one of several Buddhist temples along the Philosopher’s Walk, is particularly popular in autumn, with its grand staircase and entry gate framed by vast canopies of fiery red Japanese maple trees. Two large, rectangular white-sand mounds along the central path are periodically raked by monks into new designs; last fall, a maple leaf was outlined on one and a ginkgo leaf on the other against backgrounds of ridges.

The high priest, Kajita Shinsho, who lives there with his family, had a private courtyard with a veranda that needed a garden, and last March he engaged Marc Peter Keane, an American landscape architect now living in Kyoto, to design it. A graduate of Cornell University, Mr. Keane has lived in Japan for almost 20 years and specializes in Japanese garden design. Like Shigemori, he has immersed himself in Japanese culture. His home and studio are now permanently in Kyoto.

Only three old, gnarled camellia trees remained on the rectangular site, with blossoms in season ranging from dark rose to pale pink and white. Mr. Keane’s idea was to represent the constant flux of nature, exemplified for him by the carbon cycle — the process by which carbon travels from the air into organisms and back into air. His garden, titled “Empty River,” creates what he described as “a physical expression of this invisible cycle through a river of pure carbon charcoal.”

He traced by foot a narrow serpentine “river” that winds around the roots and trunks of the camellias, and with the short charcoal sticks he placed in the long groove, it cuts a strong black line through a blend of fine brown and white gravel. There are no rocks, only small stones framing the courtyard and plantings, with Andromeda ferns in the corners. Its starkness is its beauty, softened only when camellia petals are strewed across the gravel in April.

Mr. Keane compares this distillation of design and materials to a haiku, the Japanese three-lined poem. But like the gardens of old, it also expresses the Buddhist concept of emptiness.

At Tofuku-ji , a temple, in the city’s southeastern district, Shigemori designed the garden of the Hojo, the Abbot’s Hall, as early as 1939, using materials found on site. His avant-garde vocabulary of straight lines and grids may have seemed sensational then, but it is beloved now for its harmonious vitality.

From the first veranda, you overlook the southern garden, with clusters of mostly jagged vertical rocks and ripples of raked gravel radiating out, terminating at the far end with five mossy mounds like sacred mountains in the sea. In the western garden, squarely trimmed azaleas alternate with square fields of white gravel, reflecting ancient land-division customs. Azaleas in Japan are closely clipped, so these bloom in gorgeous flat surfaces of deep pink.

Next, a vast checkerboard field of leftover square paving stones embedded in a carpet of moss seems to dwindle off to infinity in the northern garden. And finally, to the east, a pattern of stone pillar foundations recreates the Big Dipper constellation, with gravel raked in concentric circles around each pillar to emphasize its individuality.

Ukifune Garden

Mr. Keane’s 2022 Ukifune Garden (Drifting Boat Garden) is an allegorical interpretation of the chapter by the same name from “The Tale of Genji,” Murasaki Shikibu’s 11th-century novel about Prince Hikaru or “Shining” Genji, and his tempestuous romantic and political life at court.

Mr. Keane designed it as the Zen courtyard garden of the Genji Kyoto hotel, opened in April 2022, on the banks of the Kamo River, near where Genji builds his own grand estate and gardens in the book. Designed by the American architect Geoffrey P. Moussas, who also lives in Kyoto, the hotel’s plan incorporates the indoor-outdoor characteristics of Kyoto’s old merchant houses.

Mr. Keane was inspired by the “Genji” scene in which one of two powerful dignitaries vying for the favor of Ukifune, a woman of 22, travels through a snowstorm and absconds with her by boat on the Uji River. As they pass the Isle of Orange Trees, she recites a poem in which she likens herself to the drifting boat: “The enduring hue of the Isle of Orange Trees may well never change,/ yet there is no knowing now where the drifting boat is bound.”

Mr. Keane consulted with John Carpenter, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s curator of Japanese art, who told him of the late-16th-century “Genji” screen painting by Tosa Mitsuyoshi in the museum’s collection illustrating this famous scene. A copy of the panel now hangs in Kyoto next to the garden.

Mr. Keane installed a swerving “river” with gray river stones set ingeniously on edge rather than flat, giving the flow a greater sense of direction. The garden is set between two wings of the hotel, and the “water” appears to tumble down like a waterfall from one building into the next with a wide, flat steel bridge above, a viewing platform bringing the design to life. The banks on either side are densely planted with maple trees, lady palms, ferns and ground-cover moss. And a boat-shaped stone carries a large patch of moss, which Mr. Keane interprets as Earth drifting through the galaxy.

The gardens at Zuiho-in and the Tofuku-ji Abbot’s Hall garden require tickets. The entrance fee at both is 400 Japanese yen for adults (about $2.65) and 300 yen for children (about $2).

General admission to Honen-in is free, except for during the spring and fall opening weeks, which usually fall during the first week of April and the third week of November and cost 500 yen for spring and 800 yen for fall. The Empty River garden can be visited during those weeks.

The Genji Kyoto hotel garden is free to visit.

If you get hungry while touring gardens, Izusen , a restaurant in the Daiji-in subtemple of the Daitoku-ji monastery complex, offers multiple local specialties in set menus beautifully presented in mostly lacquered red bowls, which nest when empty. Open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. by reservation; 4,370 to 8,050 yen. It is near Zuiho-in.

Also by reservation, Yudofu Kisaki, a restaurant between the entrance to Honen-in and the Philosopher’s Walk, has vegetarian and tofu specialties. Open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., last order at 6 p.m.; 4,370 to 8,050 yen.

For a companionable book to read on your tour, the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Yasunari Kawabata’s post-World War II novel “The Rainbow” is newly available in English. Several chapters take place in Kyoto, and it can feel as though you are traveling together, often in the same gardens. Kawabata’s knowledge of plants was formidable, and the simplicity of his descriptions both natural and direct: “On the lawn in front of the gate, in the shadows of the pine trees, dandelions and lotuses were in bloom. A double-flowered camellia had blossomed in front of the bamboo fence.”

Follow New York Times Travel on Instagram and sign up for our weekly Travel Dispatch newsletter to get expert tips on traveling smarter and inspiration for your next vacation. Dreaming up a future getaway or just armchair traveling? Check out our 52 Places to Go in 2024 .

Open Up Your World

Considering a trip, or just some armchair traveling here are some ideas..

Italy :  Spend 36 hours in Florence , seeking out its lesser-known pockets.

Southern California :  Skip the freeways to explore the back roads between Los Angeles and Los Olivos , a 100-mile route that meanders through mountains, canyons and star-studded enclaves.

Mongolia : Some young people, searching for less curated travel experiences, are flocking to the open spaces of this East Asian nation .

Romania :  Timisoara  may be the most noteworthy city you’ve probably never heard of , offering just enough for visitors to fill two or three days.

India: A writer fulfilled a lifelong dream of visiting Darjeeling, in the Himalayan foothills , taking in the tea gardens and riding a train through the hills.

52 Places:  Why do we travel? For food, culture, adventure, natural beauty? Our 2024 list has all those elements, and more .


6 ways to travel smarter this summer using Google tools

Mar 27, 2024

Some of our new and existing tools from Search, Maps and Shopping will make summer travel a breeze.

  • General summary

Get ready for summer travel with Google tools! Discover new places with AI-powered trip ideas in Search, find curated recommendations in Google Maps, and customize your travel lists. Create your perfect travel wardrobe with personalized style recommendations. Translate on-screen text instantly with Circle to Search or use Lens to translate the world around you. Explore like a local with multisearch in Lens, getting AI-powered insights about what you see.

  • Bullet points
  • Get trip ideas with generative AI in Search : Explore new places with AI-powered itineraries that include attractions, restaurants, flights, and hotels.
  • Find lists of recommendations in Maps : Discover lists of places to go from publishers and locals, including trending, top, and hidden gem restaurant lists.
  • Create even more customized lists in Maps : Organize your travel plans or share your favorite spots with new customization tools.
  • Curate your travel wardrobe with Search : Get personalized style recommendations for apparel and accessories that complement your vacation wardrobe.
  • Translate your screen with Circle to Search : Instantly translate text on your screen, including PDFs and streaming app lyrics.
  • Shakespeare-ish

In summer's embrace, Google's tools inspire, With travel tips to fuel your wanderlust. AI's magic weaves trip plans, a desire, Unveiling hidden gems, a traveler's trust.

Maps reveal local secrets, lists galore, Curate your wardrobe, style at your command. Translate screens, explore without a bore, Lens guides your steps, a virtual helping hand.

AI overviews, knowledge at your side, Multisearch unveils the world's untold tales. Google's gifts, a traveler's joyful ride, Summer's adventures, where your spirit sails.

Summer's here, explore Google tools help plan your trip AI-powered guides

Discover new spots Maps lists show local gems Customize your plans

Style recommendations Curate your travel wardrobe Translate with ease

Lens translates text Multisearch gives AI insights Explore like a pro

Explore other styles:

Illustration showing photos of a t-shirt, mountains and a beach

Attention travelers: Summer is right around the corner — which means summer vacation is, too. So today we’re sharing six ways Google tools can help you prepare for and make the most of your next trip.

1. Get trip ideas with generative AI in Search

Exploring a new place is one of the best parts of traveling. But uncovering the best spots to visit (or stay, or eat) can be difficult or time-consuming. So just ahead of the summer travel season, we’re testing new, AI-powered capabilities in Search that can do some of the heavy lifting for you.

Now, if you’re opted into Search Generative Experience (SGE) and you ask something like “plan me a 3 day trip to Philadelphia that's all about history,” you’ll get a set of suggestions that includes attractions and restaurants, plus an overview of your flight and hotel options.

These itineraries will bring together a range of ideas from sites across the web, as well as information like reviews, photos and other Business Profile details that people have submitted to Google for more than 200 million places around the world.

With all of these links and resources organized in one place, it’s easy to dig deeper and learn more about your destination or compare different options. And when you’re ready, you can quickly export your trip ideas to Gmail, Docs or Maps to keep tweaking or share with your travel companions.

This capability is available in English in the U.S. — just enroll in Search Labs and enable SGE to try it out. As with everything in Search Labs, this functionality is experimental. So as you research these trip ideas, share your feedback with a quick thumbs up or down.

2. Find lists of recommendations in Maps

If you prefer to do a bit more hands-on research, we’re making it easier to discover lists of recommendations right in Google Maps — from sites you love and in-the-know locals.

Starting in select cities in the U.S. and Canada, if you search for a city in Maps, you’ll now see lists of recommendations for places to go from both publishers — like The Infatuation — as well as members of the Maps community. We’re also introducing trending, top and hidden gem restaurant lists created by Google Maps, based on what people are interested in or loving in that city.

3. Create even more customized lists in Maps

We’re also adding new tools to help you customize lists you create, so you can easily organize your travel plans or share your favorite spots.

When you create a list of places in Maps, you’ll be able to choose the order they appear. So you can organize them by top favorites or chronologically like an itinerary — tailoring your list based on whatever you need.

You’ll also be able to link to content from your social channels — like your review of the delicious meal you ate — for more context on why you saved that spot to your list.

Both of these updates are coming to Google Maps on Android and iOS globally later this month.

4. Curate your travel wardrobe with Search

Part of the fun of planning a trip is planning your outfits. Our new personalized style recommendations tool can help you easily discover more products you’ll like. When you search for apparel or accessories in the U.S. on mobile browsers or in the Google app — like “men’s polo shirts” — you’ll now see a section labeled “style recommendations.”

You can quickly rate options with a thumbs up or down (or a swipe left or right), and get instant results with items that complement your vacation wardrobe. Not quite ready to buy? We’ll remember your preferences for next time to help you narrow down your options much faster.

5. Translate your screen with Circle to Search, or what’s around you with Lens

If you’re traveling somewhere and don’t know the local language, deciphering even basic information can be challenging. Maybe you’ve found a great restaurant to check out, but you need to translate the PDF menu on their website. Or perhaps you’re getting acquainted with local musicians on your favorite streaming app and want to understand their lyrics. Google Translate can help, but copying the text or switching to another app can take you out of your flow.

Luckily, Circle to Search , available on select Android devices, will soon let you instantly translate whatever’s on your screen. Simply long press the home button or navigation bar and tap the translate icon.

Translations in Circle to Search will start rolling out in the coming weeks. Circle to Search is currently accessible on Pixel 7+ devices and the Samsung Galaxy S24 series , in all languages and locations where they’re available. And starting this week, we’re rolling out Circle to Search to more Android phones, including foldables, and tablets. 1

Meanwhile, if you need to translate something around you, like a street sign or poster, Google Lens can step in to help. Just tap the Lens icon in the Google app and select the translate filter. Lens will automatically detect the source language and blend the translated text over the original.

6. Use multisearch in Lens as your personal tour guide

Lens is also great for exploring the world around you, especially with the latest AI-powered upgrades to multisearch. Just point your camera, ask a question about what you see, and you’ll get helpful insights in an AI overview. Perhaps you’re at a museum and want to know more about a certain work of art. You can snap a photo, ask “why did the artist paint this?” and get a quick overview with the information you need, along with links to dive deeper. It’s almost like having a tour guide in your pocket.

Use Lens and multisearch to learn about paintings, like Monet’s Water Lilies at The Art Institute of Chicago.

AI overviews on multisearch results are available in English in the U.S. for everyone — no enrollment in Search Labs required. To get started, look for the Lens camera icon in the Google app for Android or iOS .

More Information

Circle to Search is available on Samsung Galaxy S24 series, Pixel 7, Pixel 7 Pro, Pixel 8, Pixel 8 Pro, and is currently rolling out to more Android devices including Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro, Pixel 6a, Pixel 7a and Samsung Galaxy S23 series, S23 FE, Z Fold5, Z Flip5 and Tab S9 series. Circle to Search is coming soon to more Android devices including Pixel Fold and Pixel Tablet.

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These Are the Most Popular Summer Travel Destinations, According to Google

Google shares a little peek into where people are looking to travel this summer.

3 travel spots

Circle Creative Studio/Getty Images

Travelers are just chuffed with London this summer, and are planning to head there in droves.

That’s according to Google, which named the city in the United Kingdom the most popular destination for summer 2024 . The list reflects searches in the United States on Google Flights for travel from June 1 to Aug. 31, the company shared with Travel + Leisure . 

London was followed by its neighbor to the south, Paris, which is always a good idea, of course. The European cities were then followed by Tokyo, which jumped up to the No. 3 spot on the list this year after placing just eighth in 2023. 

Trips to Rome and New York rounded out the top five spots on the list of popular summer destinations.

Cancun , typically a perennial favorite, dropped to No. 6 on the list this year after placing second in 2023.

Travelers are also searching for trips to the dreamy beaches of Bali, which came in as the top spot for solo travel, followed by searches for solo trips to Japan, Maine’s Acadia National Park, Turks and Caicos, and (T+L’s 2024 Destination of the Year ) Costa Rica.

In fact, solo travel has been so popular this year that searches reached an all-time high in January.

Travelers are also searching Google for specific activities, like the top things to do in Las Vegas for couples or the best things to do with kids in Orlando. But Google said Turks and Caicos is the most popular destination when it comes to both family travel and a couples trip.

Beyond making it easy to find flight options, Google Flights also helps travelers save money on dream getaways by telling customers when prices have specifically been lowest so they can better predict when they should purchase a flight. The search engine also offers flight tracking and alerts .


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