With so much to see in this vast country, it can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to planning a trip in the United States. World-class cities, some known for history and others known for fun or glamour, give visitors a broad spectrum of places to choose from. The best places to visit in the United States may simply depend on your personal interests.
Along the Eastern Seaboard, New York and Washington, D.C. offer two uniquely different city experiences. Along the West Coast, San Francisco and Los Angeles are both hot spots for tourists. In the Southwest, Las Vegas brings the desert to life, and the Grand Canyon shows off one of nature’s greatest creations. Beyond the mainland are the beaches of Waikiki and the tropical Hawaiian Islands. These are just a few key locations, but wonderful destinations for any type of traveler can be found all over the country.
Discover more of America with our list of the best places to visit in the United States.
Gourmet restaurants, famous tourist attractions, fabulous street art, and designer duds – New York has them all and so much more. Whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find it in the Big Apple, guaranteed. The only problem you’ll face is running out of time to do everything.
You’ll want to sightsee (hello Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, and Brooklyn Bridge), shop, see a show, and reward your palate with some of the world’s tastiest food (we’re salivating over Gramercy Tavern and Daniel). When you’re through with all of that, you’ll need to make time for the museums. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, MOMA, Guggenheim, and American Museum of Natural History all top the list.
Short on cash? There’s plenty to do that won’t dent your pocketbook. A few of our fave free activities include, watching the sunset from a rooftop patio, wandering the paths of Central Park, walking the High Line, window shopping in SOHO, and people-watching from a park bench in Union Square.
Our advice: plan your itinerary before leaving home. That way you won’t waste precious seconds standing on a street corner deciding where to go next. Plus, if you buy your tickets online (i.e. to Broadway shows or major attractions) you’ll find much better prices. With so many exciting things to do in New York, it’s not surprising that it’s been deemed one of the best places to visit on the East Coast.
One of the top tourist destinations in the U.S., Miami is a place to see and be seen. Its streets are lined with funky and high-end shops, Art Deco buildings, and beautiful people. People flock to this coastal Floridian town for a variety of reasons.
Miami Beach is the top draw. Its soft, white sand beckons bathing-suit clad bodies to sprawl out for a day spent frolicking in and out of the warm turquoise water.
The boardwalk, situated behind South Beach, is a source of entertainment in and of itself. From rollerblading grandfathers wearing speedos to stiletto-clad fashionistas carrying dogs in their purses, anything goes.
Next up is the South Beach neighborhood’s trendy Art Deco Historic District. This is a perfect place to spend time when you’re sick of feeling sand between your toes. It’s where you’ll find a ton of shops, restaurants, and a happening nighttime scene.
Best known for its role as the nation’s capital, Washington is packed with iconic monuments and memorials. The city’s top four tourist attractions include, the White House, Capitol Building, Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial. You haven’t really been to Washington if you haven’t seen these.
There are a ton of other visit-worthy attractions, especially for those in search of first-hand political history. The vast National Mall houses most of the city’s grandest icons, including the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Women’s Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, and American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial.
One of the city’s biggest draws, though, has less to do with the political climate. Its renowned museums and galleries are some of the best in the world. Don’t miss the National Air and Space Museum, National Gallery of Art, or the National Museum of Natural History.
Nicknamed “Charm City,” Baltimore may well be one of the friendliest places in the U.S. A port town featuring a good mix of the historic (like Fort McHenry, which inspired the National Anthem, The Star Spangled Banner) and trendy (like boutique hotels and eclectic shops), Baltimore is worth a visit at any time of the year.
Top attractions include Walters Art Gallery, the National Aquarium, and the American Visionary Art Museum. You’ll find most of the action in the Inner Harbor, which was updated in the late 70s. Today, the harbor bustles with visitors to its fun stores and impressive eateries. Most of the excitement, though, can be found outside. Street performers and musicians hosting open-air concerts are regulars at this hub.
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston exudes old-world Southern charm that’s so enjoyable you won’t want to leave. Imagine spending a day with your kindest, most beautiful friend who happens to be an excellent cook. That’s what it feels like to explore the quaint streets of this Southern belle. No wonder it’s been dubbed one of the best places to visit on the East Coast of America.
Every local you meet seems to wear a smile that extends from ear to ear, and they speak in a Southern drawl that’s utterly enticing. They’ll direct you through the town’s brick-laid streets to its most stellar attractions, like the harbor’s Waterfront Park, Middleton Place Plantation, and Magnolia Plantation & Gardens.
Hop on a carriage ride through the Historic District. With over 1,400 ancient structures to ogle, Charleston transports each visitor back in time to its tumultuous heyday during the 18th century.
Walking through Savannah’s tree-lined cobbled streets is akin to jumping out of a page in Gone with the Wind. Moss-laden oak trees usher you around the city’s main attractions, offering a comforting piece of shade in the numerous public squares and parks.
Historic Bull Street, home to City Hall, also houses Chippewa Square, which you might recognize from the film Forrest Gump.
Don’t miss Forsyth Park, a mid-19th-century marvel featuring a huge cast-iron fountain. You’ll also want to add the National Museum of the Mighty Eight Air Force and Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences to your “to-see” list.
While visiting a cemetery may not top your “things to do” list, Bonaventure Cemetery will change your mind. The stone monuments, obelisks, and lush blooms are so beautiful, you’ll forget that some believe this place is haunted.
Like Washington, D.C., Philadelphia (a.k.a. Philly) is best known for its role in US history (in particular during colonial and revolutionary times). It was here that the Declaration of Independence was signed (at Independence Hall). Eleven years later, the Constitution was created right here.
Today, you’ll find a wide mix of modern skyscrapers and bright art murals juxtaposed with historic redbrick terrace buildings and narrow cobblestone streets. The Liberty Bell Pavilion houses the liberty bell, a long-held symbol of freedom and independence. Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, an incredible immersive mixed media experience, features walls (and floors) covered in mosaics.
Hop in a horse and buggy and ride through Independence National Historical Park, or shop for local produce, Amish bread, clothes, and jewelry at the Reading Terminal Market. There are plenty of fun things to do in Philadelphia.