Clear water of Lake Tahoe California in summer with snowcapped mountains in the background--one of the best places to visit in the USA bucket list

USA Bucket List: 50 Best Places to Visit in the US

From snowcapped mountains to tropical beaches, from some of the world’s most iconic cities to some of its most incredible deserts, from the east coast to the west, one thing is incredibly certain: there is absolutely no shortage of awe-inspiring, utterly diverse, and incredibly beautiful places to visit in the USA.

Our home country boasts one of the most incredible national park systems on the planet, along with a huge variety of cities, small towns, and other gorgeous places that ensure that a lifetime would not be long enough to see all of the best travel destinations in the USA.

… But that won’t stop us from trying to enjoy as many of the most amazing vacations in the United States as we can.

We teamed up with several other travel bloggers to put together this giant USA bucket list, and definitely added a few new spots to our personal list of places to see in the US in the process!

From coast to coast, city to countryside, here are the best places to visit in the USA.

Table of Contents

Best Cities to Visit in the USA

National parks + other beautiful places for a us vacation, beaches + islands for your usa bucket list, other beautiful places in the usa to visit.

antelope canyon in arizona with a beam of light streaming into the canyon

Some links in this post may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please see our disclosure policy for more detail.

New York, New York

From Disha of Disha Discovers

New York is one of the most iconic and beautiful cities in the United States and even the world.

It truly is a city that everyone should visit at least once in their lives even if it’s just for a quick weekend in NYC !

The tall buildings are mesmerizing and awe-inspiring, it’s home to some of the most exquisite museums and galleries in the world, and New York City is brimming with so much to explore and see.

Plus, NYC is a foodie’s heaven with cuisines from all over the world.

… And, these are only a few of the many reasons to visit this magnificent city.

kate storm standing at a magnifying glass on liberty island overlooking financial district manhattan

Some bucket-list-worthy things to do in New York City are to watch a play on Broadway, see the Statue of Liberty, hang out in Time Square, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, and take a stroll around Central Park.

A few museums to visit are the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met), the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, the Guggenheim, and the American Museum of Natural History.

Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, 5th Avenue, Empire State Building, and Chelsea Market are must-sees as well.

Whatever you decide to do in New York City , you’re in for a real treat!

This city will leave you feeling inspired and you’ll want to book another trip to come back!

kate storm spinning in front of manhattan bridge in brooklyn, a must see duing 4 days in nyc

Miami, Florida

From Veronika of Travel Geekery

Vibrant and colorful Miami is, without a doubt, one of the best places to visit in the US.

The downtown area merges into wonderfully diverse neighborhoods from Little Havana to Coral Gables.

However, most visitors to the vibrant yet laid-back city head to its beaches located on a long stretch of a barrier island.

South Beach especially is where the glamor’s at, topped by stylish Ocean Drive, which is lined with elegant Art Deco houses including Versace’s mansion, trendy restaurants, and nightclubs… the scene is pretty lively there.

Kate in a pink dress next to a blue Vespa on Ocean Avenue.

The beach itself features uniquely colored watchtowers spread around nice light sand. The waves are mostly mild. Pelicans like it here too and often float on the water near people.

Watching a sunrise on the beach belongs to one of the best experiences one can have in the area.

Miami City and its beaches can easily be visited  even without a car .

The public transport network and the ample ride/bike-sharing services make it an easy destination for any type of traveler.

Blue and yellor art deco lifeguard stand on South Beach in Miami, which is a must-see beach for your USA bucket list!

San Diego, California

From Maria of San Diego Explorer

San Diego is the perfect California beach city and a must on any USA bucket list.

Also known as America’s Finest City, San Diego has a lot to offer, whether you are looking for a beach getaway at one of the many beach resorts in San Diego , a fun time in the city, or a mix of both.

Here are some of the best things to do in San Diego!

In Downtown San Diego, there is something for everyone: from eating delicious Italian fare in Little Italy to visiting the Midway Museum to strolling through Seaport Village, and having a fun night out in the Gaslamp Quarter.

If you love the outdoors and animals, visit Balboa Park and the world-famous San Diego Zoo.  

cityscape of san diego california on a sunny day

And then, there are the beaches: San Diego has some of the best beaches in Southern California.

Some of the most popular ones are Mission Beach, Coronado, and the beaches in La Jolla.

You can relax on the sand, take surfing lessons, or ride your bike along the boardwalk for a fun day on the beach.  

San Diego has so much to offer and is simply a fun city, no matter what you are in the mood for. 

San Diego CA harbor with rows of sailboats in the foreground and the skyline in the back right of the photo

Austin, Texas

The Live Music Capital of the World and capital of the state of Texas is located in the heart of Texas Hill Country and offers a fantastic combination of excellent nightlife, plenty of outdoor activities and day trip opportunities, and truly phenomenal food.

Don’t leave without having at least one giant meal each worth of TexMex and barbecue!

While in Austin, be sure to visit trendy South Congress Avenue, watch the bats fly out from under the South Congress Bridge (if you’re visiting at the right time of year, that is), see a show, and go for a hike (or if it’s too hot, hit the lake!).

Want to get out of town?

Austin is within an easy day trip of natural swimming holes, Texas’ wine country, and adorable small towns.

Austin TX skyline with the South Congress Bridge in the foreground

New Orleans, Louisiana

Good food, good music, and good times: of all the best places to visit in the USA, NOLA definitely ranks toward the top of the list for places to go to simply have an amazing time.

There’s far more to New Orleans than Mardi Gras, Bourbon Street, and beignets, though.

With a dark and complex history heavily impacted by slavery and a constantly evolving modern culture, New Orleans deserves more than just partying during your visit–though there’s plenty of time for that, too.

While in New Orleans, be sure to listen to some jazz, learn a bit about the city’s history, visit the famous Jackson Square, head to the Garden District, check out the beautiful oak trees in City Park, and–this is very important–eat your heart out.

NOLA is indisputably home to some of the best food in the country–so good, in fact, that the food alone would be a good enough reason to add New Orleans to your USA bucket list.

For those interested in New Orleans’ spooky legends, a ghost tour through the French Quarter at night is also worth adding to your to-do list!

Street in NOLA French Quarter at night with neon lights from the bars lighting it up--don't miss a chance to experience the legendary New Orleans nightlife during your 3 days in NOLA itinerary!

Washington, DC

From Jordan of The Solo Life

One of the best travel destinations in the United States is the nation’s capital, Washington, DC.

With everything from museums to monuments to the White House and Capitol Building, DC has something for everyone .

In addition, DC’s public transportation and numerous free attractions make it a surprising destination for the budget-friendly traveler.

Kid-friendly options include the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and the National Air and Space Museum.

Art lovers will enjoy the National Gallery of Art or the Hirshhorn Museum for modern and contemporary art.

sunset on the national mall in washington dc facing the washington monument, one of the best places to visit on the east coast america

History buffs should check out the Library of Congress and the National Archives Museum.

Besides museums, the National Mall and Tidal Basin are must-visit locations to see the Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, and Lincoln Memorial, among others.

The best times to visit DC include early summer before it gets too hot or in the fall once summer break is over.

Although extremely crowded due to the Cherry Blossoms, springtime is also a gorgeous time to visit.

No matter what time of year, Washington, DC is one of the best destinations to visit in the US.

Washington Monument in Washington DC framed by cherry blossoms in the foreground. Washington DC is one of the best places to visit in the United States

San Francisco, California

The city of hills, ocean views, and the famous Golden Gate Bridge is at the top of many people’s lists of bucket lists for the United States.

And, with an endless list of things to do that cater to all interests, why not?

Be sure to pay a visit to the touristed highlights that most interest you–Fisherman’s Wharf (and its adorable sea lions!), Alcatraz, walking across the Golden Gate Bridge, visiting the Painted Ladies (of Full House fame), and checking out Lombard Street.

Once you cross those highlights off your list, though, make time for a few less-obvious attractions, like San Francisco’s Japanese Garden, the Land’s End Labyrinth, and Fort Point.

And, of course, you can’t forget to go for a walk in the woods while visiting San Francisco!

Visiting the Muir Woods is an unforgettable experience worthy of your time on any weekend trip to the area.

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco CA shot from above on a clear day

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia has been one of the coolest US cities to visit for centuries, and–like Boston–it features strong ties to the American Revolution.

This is where the Declaration of Independence and the Consitution were signed, touring Independence Hall and visiting the nearby Liberty Bell are among the best things to do in Philadelphia today as a result!

You can’t miss Philly’s food scene when visiting, either–from whoopie pies to Philly cheesesteaks, the city has a (literal) flavor all its own.

elfreths alley in philadelphia, one of the best places to vacation in usa

Start–but don’t finish–exploring Philadelphia’s food scene at the historic Reading Terminal Market.

Be sure to also make time to visit some of Philadelphia’s incredible museums during your visit, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of the American Revolution (we loved this one), and touring the dark but fascinating Eastern State Penitentiary.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is also home to another essential stop in this iconic East Coast City: the Rocky Steps.

And, if you’re willing to work up a sweat, definitely consider running up them yourself during your classic American vacation in Philadelphia!

independence hall in philadelphia on a sunny day with red and pink flowers in the foreground. attractions in usa things to do

Chicago, Illinois

From Wendy of The Nomadic Vegan

Chicago is the third-largest city in the US, and also one of the most ethnically diverse.

Its skyline reflecting off the waters of Lake Michigan is a sight to behold.

No matter what your interests are, whether it’s music, shopping, culture, art, or dining, you could spend months exploring all that Chicago has to offer.

On a shorter USA vacation, though, you can still see quite a few of the best sights in Chicago!

The city’s top museums include the Adler Planetarium, the Field Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Science and Industry, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Don’t forget to check out the many outdoor sculptures and other public works of art around the Loop, either.

View of Chicago IL skyline from willis tower skydeck, a must-see during a 3 day Chicago vacation

A walk along the Magnificent Mile will take you past upscale department stores and through Millennium Park, home of the famous sculpture known as The Bean.

A visit to Bronzeville, also known as “the Black Metropolis”, is a must to learn about the city’s rich African-American history.

Architecture buffs will be interested to know that this is where Frank Lloyd Wright established the Prairie School architectural style. You can find some of his earliest buildings here in Chicago.

You’ll work up an appetite walking the streets of this massive city. This is a good thing, because the restaurant scene here is amazing!

You can find pretty much any cuisine you could imagine, from stylish Japanese to homestyle soul food, and there are even lots of vegetarian and  vegan restaurants in Chicago .

Photo of Chicago train traveling on a bridge over car traffic--using Chicago's public transportation is the best way to get around on a Chicago weekend getaway!

Houston, Texas

From Thanh of The Traveling Asian

Houston, Texas is one of the coolest places to visit in the United States, and while an unexpected vacation option, certainly one that will impress.

After all, it is the 4th largest city in the USA and is often ranked as the most diverse city in the country!

Because of this size, you can expect there to be all kinds of things for you to see and do here in this city.

One of the most iconic places you must visit in the city is Space Center Houston.

There you can learn about NASA and space travel as well as take a tour around the famous mission control center. If you love space, then this place is for you.

sunset over houston texas skyline with pond in the foreground, one of the unexpected places for vacation in usa

Houston is also home to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo which is the biggest rodeo of its kind in the country.

There, you’ll be able to eat some delicious rodeo foods, pet some livestock, learn about animals, play at the amusement park, and even watch a concert by famous celebrities.

But aside from the attractions, Houston is known for its food. Since it is the most diverse city in the country, you can find just about everything available here in this city.

For instance, you can find Tex-Mex, Chinese, Ethiopian, Greek, and many other ethnic cuisines available all around the area.

So if you love food and all things fun, then Houston is definitely the place for you.

Skyline of Houston Texas as seen on a sunny day with a park in the foreground, Houston is one of the best weekend getaways in Texas

Las Vegas, Nevada

From Kimberley of Two Travelling Toques

If you’re looking for a cool place to visit in the USA, you can’t get much cooler than Las Vegas .

This well-known city has been depicted in numerous movies such as The Hangover and Ocean’s Thirteen as party central.

And if that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll definitely find it in Vegas.

Long known as both the wedding capital for a quick place to get married, or the perfect spot to hold a bachelor or bachelorette party, either way, it’s the spot to bring your friends, let loose, and have fun!

Gambling has been a big draw to Las Vegas since the early 1930s, and there is no shortage of showy and extravagant casinos to choose from.

view of venice st marks square in las vegas, one of the best attractions long weekend in vegas getaway

Nightlife also takes center stage here.

From world-class musicians to top-notch magical acts, to dependable artists like Wayne Newton who have had a residency here for years. 

During the day, you can grab a fancy drink and chill by the pool. Or hit up one of the pool parties and listen to the headlining DJ.

Either way, be sure to bring lots of money for the high-end shops, ever-flowing drinks, and dazzling casinos looking to draw you in. 

Welcome to Las Vegas sign, one of the most popular weekend getaways in the USA

Savannah, Georgia

Without a doubt, the small but stunning city of Savannah, Georgia is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the USA.

Featuring absolutely stunning architecture, 22 of its original 24 town squares, endless oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, and some of the best food in the country, spending a few days in Savannah is bound to be a delight.

While you’re there, be sure to meander down beautiful Jones Street, check out Forsyth Park, hear some of the city’s most enduring legends on a ghost tour, enjoy views from River Street, and take in some of Savannah’s complex history at its various house museums and houses of worship.

Don’t forget to set aside plenty of time to eat!

Kate Storm in a black dress in front of a brick home on Jones Street during a long weekend in Savannah GA

While there are dozens of incredible  restaurants in Savannah , favorites include The Olde Pink House and The Grey for special occasions, The Collins Quarter for their legendary lavender mocha latte, and Leopold’s Ice Cream for a scoop of their famous Tutti Frutti ice cream.

Have enough time for a quick  day trip ?

Tybee Island –also known as “Savannah’s Beach”–is less than a 30-minute drive away, and while you certainly won’t want to swim in the summer, strolling along the sand and climbing the lighthouse are a treat.

Jones Street in Savannh GA with a green house in the left foreground and an oak tree on the right. Jones Street is one of the best Savannah photo spots

Los Angeles, California

From Trijit of Budget Travel Buff

Looking for the coolest place to visit in the United States?

Visit Los Angeles; a unique combination of the entertainment industry, gorgeous beaches, great food, and vibrant nightlife.

It is certainly not the cheapest place in California , but for the right travelers, LA is definitely worth the price tag.

Los Angeles is a large city full of tourist attractions that won’t let you stay idle.

If you are a beach lover, LA won’t disappoint you with its stunning beaches that include Malibu, Santa Monica, Manhattan Beach, Venice Beach, Hermosa Beach, and so on.

There are several fantastic museums in LA. LACMA is the most popular one for its diverse art collections and special exhibits.

Skyline of Los Angeles CA with palm trees in the forground, one of the best places to visit in the US

Some other renowned museums are the Grammy Museum, Natural History Museum, and Museum of Broken Relationships.

While visiting LA, you will notice entertainment at every corner of the city. You can see a concert or enjoy a ride at the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park.

If you rent a car in Los Angeles, go for a scenic drive along the Pacific Coast Highway that carves through the mountains of Malibu.

Los Angeles has some of the best restaurants in the US.

Once you are done with LA sightseeing, have lunch at any of these food spots – Diakokuya for ramen, Langer’s for a pastrami sandwich, Guisados for tacos, or pizza at Mozza.

aerial view of santa monica beach near los angeles, one of the best places to vacation in the united states

Seattle, Washington

Set right on the water with the dramatic backdrop of Mount Rainier, it’s no wonder that busy and beautiful Seattle is one of the best USA travel destinations.

When visiting Seattle, be sure to eat your way through Pike Place Market, head to the top of the Space Needle, visit the famous Chihuly Museum, and check out the fun and interesting Museum of Pop Culture.

Looking for interesting neighborhoods?

Head to Fremont, where the self-proclaimed unofficial motto is “des libertas quirkas”, aka “the freedom to be quirky”.

Hoping to spend some time outside?

Nestled in the heart of the magnificent Pacific Northwest, endless waterfalls, trails, and mountains–even Mount Rainier itself–are located within day-tripping distance from Seattle.

Seattle Waterfront with space needle visible through the ferris wheel

Charleston, South Carolina

Located just a couple of hours north of Savannah, Charleston shares a lot of similarities with its neighbor to the south.

Fantastic Lowcountry food, Spanish moss dripping from the trees, beautiful architecture, and lots of history to uncover are wonderful to appreciate in both Charleston and Savannah –but Charleston absolutely has its own distinct personality as well.

On your Charleston vacation, be sure to visit the beautiful and photogenic Rainbow Row, check out the tea-making process at the Charleston Tea Garden, visit the gorgeous and interesting Angel Oak Tree, stroll through Waterfront Park and Battery Park, and check out City Market.

Photo of Rainbow Row in Charleston SC, a must see during a 3 day weekend in Charleston SC

If you’d like to do some shopping while in Charleston, King Street is the place to go.

Those interested in US military history will no doubt want to visit Patriots Point to tour the former US naval ships docked there and Fort Sumter for its history (and views).

Beach lovers, don’t miss the chance to check out nearby Folly Beach and/or Sullivan’s Island!

Kate Storm sitting in front of the pineapple fountain in Charleston SC--choosing whether to visit Savannah or Charleston is no easy task, but we wrote this guide to help!

Orlando, Florida

As the theme park capital of the world, Orlando is one of the most popular places to visit in the USA for both domestic and international visitors, mostly on behalf of one iconic mouse.

As home to Walt Disney World , Orlando is a must-see USA bucket list item for many families across the world, and with four amazing Disney parks packed with rides, experiences, and intense amounts of nostalgia, it’s no wonder why.

Disney isn’t the only theme park game in town, though!

Universal Studios Orlando, home to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, is also a fantastic theme park to visit, and big roller coaster fans may even want to take a day trip to Tampa Bay to experience Busch Gardens.

Though the parks are a big draw for people visiting Orlando with kids and kids at heart alike, theme parks aren’t the only places to visit in and around Orlando.

The Kennedy Space Center, plenty of beaches, and even cool swimming holes like Wekiva Springs are within day-trip distance of Orlando.

Lake Eola Park in Orlando Florida with swams in the water and a skyline visible in the background. Orlando belongs on a bucket list for the United States

Portland, Oregon

Much like Austin, Portland proudly embraces its weirdness, celebrating the eclectic and bizarre in all possible ways–and that makes it endlessly fun to visit!

Bookworms like me will immediately head to Powell’s City of Books–I still think it’s the biggest bookstore I’ve ever visited–while foodies will want to head directly to the local ice cream obsession, Salt & Straw. 

Voodoo Doughnuts, now with a few locations nationally, also originated here and remains popular with tourists (though depending on who you ask, not locals–for what it’s worth, we’d rate the doughnuts 7/10).

During your weekend trip to Portland, make time to visit the Japanese Garden and the International Rose Garden, especially if you visit when everything is in bloom.

Plenty of incredible parts of the Columbia River Gorge, including famous Multnomah Falls, are also within easy reach of Portland and deserve to feature on your USA bucket list!

Photo of steal sign stating "portland oregon" in front of a blue sky, a must-see during 3 days in portland or

Nashville, Tennessee

From Apryl of Southern Traveling Gal

No doubt about it, there’s something about Nashville, that casts a long-lasting spell on travelers.

For travelers visiting Nashville, it’s not unheard of to plan a return trip as soon as the current one is over!

Only in “The Music City” is it possible to catch the latest exhibit at the Frist Art Museum, see a replica of the Parthenon and enjoy live music at venues along the Honky Tonk Highway.

For first-timers, touring country music icons like the Ryman Auditorium and the Country Music Hall of Fame is a must-do.

Don’t overlook artist-specific museums such as the Johnny Cash Museum and Glen Campbell Museum that provides a closer look at these music giants, either.

Much of Nashville’s allure lies within its distinctive neighborhoods, like the Gulch, filled with shops and restaurants.

Skyline of Nashville Tennessee at sunset overlooking the river, one of the most romantic getaways in the United States

It isn’t unusual to spot a long line or two here, typically featuring either people waiting in line to take a photo with the “What Lifts You” mural or getting into Biscuit Love.

Save some room for some barbecue from Peg Leg Porker!

12thSouth offers locally-owned boutiques, stores, and eateries. Also found here is Draper James, the flagship store of Reese Witherspoon’s clothing line.

Be sure to take home some cookies from Christie’s Cookie Company and snap a photo with the “I Believe in Nashville” mural.

Across the Cumberland River is the eclectic East Nashville. Don’t miss out on the mini doughnuts at Donut Distillery.

Depending on time, consider visiting Cheekwood Estates and Gardens, a 55-acre botanical garden, as part of your Nashville getaway.

Of course, no trip to Nashville is complete without hot chicken from Prince’s Hot Chicken or biscuits from Loveless Cafe, located near the Natchez Trace Parkway.

country band playing banjois in nashville tennessee

Boston, Massachusetts

From Linn of Brainy Backpackers

Boston is such a cool city to visit in the USA, rich in history, architecture, and food.

Along the waterfront, you can walk the 43-mile-long Harbor Walk.

But there is so much more to add to see during your trip to Boston, like the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile-long path taking you to 16 significant places in American history.

It is well marked and technically be walked in as little as 90 minutes, though you can download the app and visit each place which will take at least a whole day to complete.

Boston is home to the oldest public park in the United States, Boston Common, which is situated next to Boston Public Garden.

boston public garden in the summer, one of the best things to do in boston ma

You can wander the parks and enjoy a ride in the Boston Public Garden’s historic paddleboats.

Nearby, you’ll find the Boston Public Library at Copley Square, which is an incredibly beautiful Renaissance Revival structure from 1895 that you should visit.

You’ll also find the beautiful neighborhood of Beacon Hill nearby, as well as the trendy neighborhood of Back Bay.

For the best views of the city during your Boston itinerary , visit the Skywalk Observatory.

2 Days in Boston Itinerary: Beacon Hill

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

From Melissa of Parenthood and Passports

Yellowstone National Park is the oldest national park in the United States and one of the best places to visit in the entire country.

Known for its geothermal activity, more than half of the earth’s geysers are located in the national park which straddles the borders of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. 

Old Faithful is one of the most popular things to see in Yellowstone National Park .

The active and predictable geyser erupts approximately 20 times each day.

Visitors to the park gather around to watch the geyser blast hot water and steam into the sky.

Although quite impressive, Old Faithful is just one of many must-see geothermal features found in the park.

View of Grand Prism in Yellowstone National Park, one of the best places to visit in USA

One of the largest hot springs in the world, the Grand Prismatic Spring, is another popular attraction in Yellowstone.

Visitors can get an up-close view of the spring or take a short hike for a stunning overview of Grand Prismatic’s vibrant colors.  

Beyond all of its geothermal features, Yellowstone National Park also boasts beautiful waterfalls, crystal-clear lakes, rivers, and more than 200 species of animals.

Bison, deer, moose, wolves, and even bears live in the park.

Because of all the wildlife in Yellowstone, visitors are strongly encouraged to use caution when hiking or camping and to carry bear spray to protect themselves in the event of an encounter.

herd of bison crossing the road and causing a traffic jam in yellowstone national park, one of the best places to vacation usa

Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho

From Allison of She Dreams of Alpine

Idaho is often overlooked when it comes to cool places to visit in the US, but the tiny town of Stanley serves as the gateway to an abundance of outdoor adventures in the stunning Sawtooth Mountain range and along the swift Salmon River.

Although it has a population of less than 100, Stanley is easily accessible in a 3-hour drive from the main airport in Boise or about a 1-hour drive if you’re coming from Sun Valley.

The best way to explore the Sawtooth Mountains is on one of the many hiking trails.

The hike to Alice Lake is a perfect introduction to the area, and you can either do a 12-mile day hike or backpack the longer Alice/Toxaway Loop over the course of a few days.

sawtooth mountains idaho on sunny day with lake in the foreground, one of the best places to vacation usa

Whichever option you choose, you’ll discover gorgeous views of Alice Lake framed by the “Dragon’s Back” peaks of the Sawtooth Mountains, including Idaho’s own “El Capitan.”

For fun on the water, you can go fishing along the Salmon River or swim in Redfish Lake.

When you need some rejuvenation after your adventures, you can reward yourself with great food and drinks at the Stanley Supper Club and take a dip in the hot springs at the Mountain Village Resort.

Once you head home, you’ll surely find yourself raving to your friends about this hidden gem of a mountain town – unless you want to keep the Sawtooth Mountains and Stanley a secret for yourself!

Sawtooth Mountains Idaho with a lake visible on the left of the photo and mountain peaks in the background. These mountains definitely belong on your USA bucket list!

Oregon Coast

From Kay of The Awkward Traveller

The Oregon Coast is one of the most underrated travel destinations in the USA, but for those who love moody, dramatic scenery, it is the best place to be.

Although the actual coast isn’t very long (338 or so miles, about a 7.5-hour drive without stopping), it makes for a great weekend or longer trip with added stops.

Starting at the north end, about 2 hours outside of Portland, the city of Astoria will serve as your jumping-off point with picturesque bridges and locations from The Goonies.

Heading south, take a pitstop at the cheese capital of the state  –  Tillamook , Oregon.

One car driving along the oregon coast as shot from above

Visit the Tillamook Cheese Factory and gorge yourself on all things dairy before continuing on to stunning Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area.

The highlight of the coast will be Yachats, Oregon, with incredible farm-to-table restaurants that are dedicated to sourcing local sustainable fish, meat, and produce providers.

On the southern end of the coast, you can find sand dunes in Florence, and natural rock arches among the cliffs in Brookings.

If your tolerance for rain is low, summer will be the best season to visit weather-wise, while winter and spring will have smaller crowds and lower prices.

Oregon Coast at sunset looking toward Haystack Rock, one of the prettiest places in Oregon

Acadia National Park, Maine

From Ale of Sea Salt & Fog

Acadia National Park is one of the most beautiful national parks in the eastern United States, perfectly showcasing the beauty of the Maine coast.

Acadia has miles of hiking and biking trails, as well as easy coastal access for kayaking and sailing. 

When visiting, plan to spend at least  2 days in Acadia National Park  so you can make the most of your time there.

One of the best things to do includes watching the sunrise at Cadillac Mountain, where you’ll get stunning views of the islands that dot the coast.

Things to Do in Acadia National Park

Drive Park Loop Road to enjoy some of the park’s most famous attractions, including Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, and Jordan Pond (don’t forget to stop for popovers at Jordan Pond House!).

For hiking, choose a paved Carriage Road to take you down to one of the many picturesque ponds and lakes in the park.

Plan your visit in the fall to see the famous New England fall foliage in full display, or in the summer to enjoy long, sunny days perfect for hiking.

If you love the outdoors, add Acadia to your list of places to visit in the US – you won’t be disappointed.

Things to Do in Acadia National Park

Joshua Tree National Park, California

From Monica of This Rare Earth

Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California is an incredible destination in the United States. 

This desert ecosystem became a national park as recently as 1994, and it’s easy to see why it was chosen!

The Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert meet in the middle of Joshua Tree National Park, which means that you will see two very different landscapes depending on which half of the park you are in.  

The Mojave Desert is home to the famous Joshua Tree – a tall and spindly yucca – as well as giant boulders popular with climbers and hikers. 

The majority of the park’s hiking trails are found in this region.

desert landscape at sunrise in joshua tree national park, an excellent part of several of the best west coast road trips usa

However,  while planning your Joshua Tree National Park itinerary , it would be a mistake to skip the Colorado Desert at the southern end of the park.  

The Colorado Desert is hotter, lower in elevation, and flatter, but holds gorgeous landscapes full of cacti and, at the right time of year, wildflowers. 

 In the summer months, avoid strenuous hikes or leave early in the morning as temperatures can reach over 100 degrees.

Joshua Tree National Park is a designated Dark Sky Park, perfect for stargazing and well outside the bright light of the city.  

Joshua Tree is roughly 2.5 hours outside of Los Angeles.

Joshua Tree NP in California with a Joshua tree on the right side of the photo

From Chris of Called to Wander

Alaska is known as the Last Frontier, evoking adventure for those looking to travel to a truly unique place.

Because the state is massive, at over twice the size of Texas, you could spend as much or as little time exploring it as you have.

Many people take cruises through the Inside Passage and make stops in places like Ketchikan, Haines, and Seward.

Others fly into the main cities of Anchorage or Fairbanks and then rent vehicles and head off on their own adventures.

By far the best way to make the most of an Alaska vacation (though it requires a steep time commitment) is by driving to Alaska and spending as much time as you’d like wandering from one place to the next.

glacier in glacier np in alaska with water in the foreground and a mountain in the background

You can drive to the Arctic Ocean along the Dalton Highway, view North America’s largest mountain (Mt. Denali), or observe wildlife like caribou, grizzly bear, and moose.

Or, catch a flight out to a handful of the most remote national parks, or drive up to and hike out to massive, ancient glaciers.

If you enjoy fishing, go after halibut in Homer or salmon in the famous Russian River.

Regardless of what kind of travel you prefer, Alaska offers adventure for everyone and should definitely be on your travel bucket list!

Train along an Alaska mountainside with wildflowers in the foreground and a mountain in the background. Alaska is one of the most beautiful places in the us

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

From Dan of Cabin Critic

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is the most popular national park in the US, hosting over 10 million annual visitors, and it definitely belongs on your bucket list for the USA.

Located in Tennessee and North Carolina, the park has diverse animal life, plants, and natural attractions. There are tons to do and see. 

If you are feeling adventurous you can go zoom down zip lines, go white water rafting, or go mountain biking. 

For a more relaxed trip, you can go on hikes, see beautiful waterfalls, or simply go for a scenic drive.

sunrise of great smoky mountains, one of the most beautiful national parks in the us

Cades Cove, for example, is a broad valley surrounded by mountains you can drive through that is well known for providing the best opportunities for seeing wildlife like white-tailed deer, black bears, coyotes, and more.

When you aren’t enjoying the outdoors there are numerous mountain towns to enjoy like Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, or Asheville .

Stay in  one of the cabins with a view  of the mountainsides and check out the local attractions like Dollywood in Pigeon Forge or the Biltmore Estate in Asheville . 

View of the Great Smoky Mountains during fall foliage season in the southern USA

Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

From Michele of Adventures Abound

Just a 2-hour drive from both Portland and Seattle rest the foothills of the towering volcano Mount Rainier.

Known to the Indigenous since time immemorial, Mount Tahoma is covered in unimaginable beauty and can be enjoyed year-round. 

Visit in the summertime for hiking through meadows strewn with wildflowers of every color, and in the fall for ripening berries and a better chance to catch the trails and lakes free of ice and snowmelt on a variety of great day hikes just outside of Seattle .

To extend your visit overnight, pitch a tent in an established campground, stay in a rustic lodge in the national park, or backpack along the Wonderland trail that circumvents the park.

Not feeling up to a lengthy hike?

hiker in a field of wildflowers in mount rainier np with mount rainier visible in the background

Just driving through Mount Rainier National Park will afford endless views of waterfalls, glaciers, lakes, and even the chance to spot wildlife. 

For those thrill-seekers looking for a more challenging adventure, apply for a permit to climb more than 8,000 feet to the summit, but be aware this is only for experienced mountaineers.

Mount Rainier National Park can also be enjoyed in the winter when the park sees an average of 55 feet of snowfall or more.

Head to the Crystal Mountain gondola to catch a great view of the peak while skiing and snowboarding down the slopes, or pick one of many great locations to snowshoe and backcountry ski along the mountain.

Whatever the choice for season and activity, Mount Rainier National Park is sure to be full of memories and adventure in one of the most beautiful destinations in the United States.

Snowcapped Mount Rainier with wildflowers in the foreground, one of the most beautiful places in usa

Arches National Park, Utah

Home to over 2,000 naturally-occurring sandstone arches, Arches National Park in Utah is one of the most uniquely beautiful places in the USA.

Whether you’re hiking to the incredible Delicate Arch (so iconic that it’s featured on Utah’s license plates), wandering through the Devil’s Garden, or taking one of the shorter hikes to visit some of the most impressive arches in the park, there’s no shortage of things to do.

Even one day in Arches National Park is well worth your time, but more would certainly be better.

Arches National Park is also home to internationally-recognized dark skies and some of the best stargazing in the United States–in order to see the best of the park, be sure to visit at least once after dark!

And, while Arches National Park is easily one of the best places to vacation in the US in its own right, the nearby town of Moab also makes an excellent launching pad to visit Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park.

Double Arch in Arches National Park Utah

Olympic National Park, Washington

From Sophie and Adam of We Dream of Travel

Not only does Olympic National Park cover nearly a million acres, but it is also the most biodiverse of all the US national parks.

It has it all, from glaciated mountains to breathtaking coastlines, crashing waterfalls, ancient rainforests, enchanting hot springs, and plentiful wildlife.

With such a treasure trove of natural landscapes, Olympic National Park is easily one of the best places to visit in the US.

Mountain lovers should budget plenty of time to hike the trails of Hurricane Ridge.

Here you will discover stunning views above the clouds, as well as an abundance of wildlife.

Rocky Beach in Olympic National Park washington at sunset, a fantastic view along a west coast usa road trip destination

A great way to explore the park is on foot, particularly as much of the park is roadless. There are numerous multi-day hikes to choose from and it’s popular with backpackers.

The 17.4 miles Hoh River Trail is one of the most impressive, taking you through a flourishing rainforest to the base of Mount Olympus.

For coastal visitors, Second Beach is one of the best Olympic Park photography  locations and a perfect spot for sunset. 

However, with 73 miles of wild coastline, there’s plenty to explore!

There are endless options for the waterfall, forest, and nature lovers too.

In Sol Duc forest you can watch crystal water plunge into the lush greenery.

Or, you can choose to explore the vibrant green mosses of the Hoh Rainforest.  

No matter which part of Olympic National Park you visit, you will not be disappointed.

Forested trail in Olympic National Park with a river flowing across the photo. Olympic National Park definitely belongs on your USA bucket list!

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Stretching over a mile deep, the Grand Canyon in northwest Arizona is one of the largest–and most impressive–canyons on the planet, and one of the most popular places to visit in the USA!

Come to Grand Canyon National Park to admire views from the rim, hike into the canyon , watch the sunrise and sunset, and perhaps even hike all the way down to the Colorado River.

If you do want to hike to the river, though, be warned: doing so is a 2-day commitment!

Anyone taking a southwest road trip in the USA should consider adding a visit to the majestic Grand Canyon to their list: it’s truly a sight that you’ll never forget.

View of the Grand Canyon from the south rim near sunset. The Grand Canyon is one of the best USA travel destinations

Death Valley National Park, California

From Michelle of The Wandering Queen

One of the best places to visit in California is Death Valley National Park .

This park is filled with bright white salt flats, mountains splashed with pastel colors, and eerie rocks that move on their own.

This park is such a strange yet unique environment which makes it perfect for avid photographers.

One of the best things to do is to watch the sunrise at Zabriskie Point. The views are glorious as the sun slowly sets on the unique colorful mountains.

Afterward, make sure to hike the Golden Canyon, Gower Gulch, and Badlands Loop Hike. The trailhead is right next to Zabriskie Point.

mesquite dunes in death valley national park during a pink sunrise

Another popular activity is visiting Badwater Basin. The basin stands at 282 feet below sea level and is filled with white salt.

This is a great spot to take pictures of the salt in contrast with the tall, dark mountains in the distance.

Nearby the salt flats, you can visit the devil’s golf course where spikey salt formations cover the ground.

The next outstanding area to visit is the Artists Drive. The mountain is sprinkled with pastel colors like yellow, pink, purple, and green.

It truly is a spectacular thing to see!

Rocky Mountain National Park

From Jyoti of Story At Every Corner

Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most gorgeous parks in the US.

It’s also easily reachable from Denver, Colorado, which has many flights from across the country, making it fairly simple to access and one of the most popular places to vacation in America!

The best place to stay is in Estes Park , a quaint little tourist town in the mountains.

There are many small towns all around the park and many choices for all price points. 

white and green shop in downtown estes park. shopping downtown is one of the best things to do in estes park colorado

The easiest way to visit RMNP park is by car.

You can then enjoy the park by making stops at each vista point and taking hikes from there.

Most stops have short and long hikes; easy and challenging hikes.

There is a hike for everyone, but there is also spectacular scenery right at the vista points, even without a hike.

Keep in mind that the popularity of Rocky Mountain National Park means that certain places, like Bear Lake Road, must be accessed via reservation.

Kate Storm standing in front of Emerald Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, one of the best places to visit in colorado

The most popular road that goes across the park is the scenic Trail Ridge Road.

If you don’t have time to visit anything else, I recommend driving Trail Ridge Road from Estes Park to the town of Grand Lake.

Other major attractions include Sprague Lake and Bear Lake, to the south of the trail ridge road.

They offer absolutely stunning views and many wildlife viewing opportunities along with the drives. 

There is so much to do around Denver that RMNP can be part of a week-long itinerary visiting Colorado  or a trip just for RMNP. 

jeremy storm in a gray backpack hiking in rocky mountain national park

Set in the Sierra Nevada Mountains along the border of California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is easily one of the most beautiful places in the US.

With crystal-clear water and plenty of activities in and out of the water, from hiking to SUP to swimming, there is no shortage of ways to appreciate the otherworldly beauty of Lake Tahoe .

To enjoy the views of the lake itself, summer is definitely the best time to visit–but winter has its charms, too, including plenty of skiing and incredible views of the lake framed by bright white snow.

From romantic couples’ retreats to fun getaways to Lake Tahoe with kids , all kinds of travelers will find something to love about Lake Tahoe.

Lake Tahoe from above during the summer, one of the best USA travel destinations

Havasu Falls, Arizona

Located on Havasupai tribal lands not far from the Grand Canyon, Havasu Falls is simultaneously one of the most famous waterfalls in the USA and one of the hardest to access.

In order to visit Havasu Falls, you’ll need to secure an extremely competitive permit (they sell out months in advance) and complete a 10-mile hike in each direction.

You’ll also need to spend the night nearby, as it’s one of the permit requirements set out by the Havasupai people.

If you manage to swing both the logistics and the hike, though, the rewards are pretty spectacular.

Havasu Falls in Arizona, one of the most beautiful places in USA. Turquoise waterfall with orange walls surrounding it

Zion National Park, Utah

Home to some of what are quite possibly the best hikes in the country, Utah’s most-visited national park is absolutely one of the best places to see in the US.

Test your fear of heights (if you have one, that is) by hiking the incredible Angel’s Landing, and be rewarded with stunning views of Zion Canyon.

Venture deep into the Virgin River by hiking The Narrows , a hike that takes place literally in the river!

Seek out incredible views along Observation Point, the Canyon Overlook Trail , and the Watchman Trail.

Try to score a permit to hike the Subway, but if you can’t get one, don’t worry: there’s more to see in Zion National Park than you can cover in one vacation.

No matter how you spend your days at Zion National Park, there’s no doubt that you’ll be experiencing something worthy of a bucket list!

Kate Storm at the viewpoint at the Canyon Overlook Trail in Zion National Park Utah

Texas Bluebonnet Trail

California’s magnificent wildflowers may be a bit better known outside of the country, but Texas’ phenomenal spread of bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes that decorate the countryside each spring absolutely belong on anyone’s USA bucket list.

Whether you choose to visit the official Texas Bluebonnet Trail near Ennis (not far from Dallas) or head to the Texas Hill Country , there is no shortage of places to admire bluebonnets in Texas.

Though the blooming times can of course vary a bit depending on the weather, late March and early April are generally the best times to experience the beauty of Texas’ bluebonnets.

Wooden cart parked in a Texas field surrounded by bluebonnets. Beautiful countryside like this close by many of the best weekend getaways in Texas!

Upper Peninsula, Michigan

From Emily of Em’s on the Road

If you’re looking for unforgettable outdoor experiences without the price tag of popular destinations out west, then the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is the place for you.

One reason the Upper Peninsula (or U.P.) is really unique is that it is an ideal place for adventure seekers all year long. 

In the warmer months, the U.P is a great beach destination in the Midwest thanks to its location with beachfront on Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and Lake Huron.

In the fall, pack your hiking boots and tackle rocky hiking trails for colorful views you’d never expect in the Midwest.

With an unobstructed panoramic view of Lake Superior, the hike up  Sugar Loaf mountain in Marquette, Michigan  is one of the most popular in the region.

Thanks to some serious snowfall, there’s so much to do in the U.P. in the winter months.

There are cross-country ski trails, snowmobiling trails, downhill skiing, dog sledding, ice climbing, and more. 

View of Lake Superior with a rainbow over it during fall foliage season on Sugarloaf Mountain in Michigan

Redwood National Forest

From Dhara of Roadtripping California

Most visitors to the Golden State put   California’s national parks at the top of their itineraries because they are just so spectacular.

Redwood National and State Parks, in the northern part of the state, offer you the chance to stroll among giant redwoods, some of the tallest and oldest trees on the planet.

A group of five parks, Redwood National and State Parks feature not just the towering redwoods, but also epic coastal views, beautiful prairies filled with wildflowers in season, and the chance to see birds and wildlife.

Enjoy some of the scenic drives in the parks: Howland Hill Drive, Coastal Drive, and the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway are all great choices.

Two people walking through a doorway in a fallen redwood tree in california usa

Do some of the trails through the redwood groves to see the giant trees up close: the Big Tree Wayside Walk, the Stout Memorial Grove Trail, and Lady Bird Johnson Grove are all super scenic and relatively easy walks.

Gaze up at the trees, and enjoy the ferns and rhododendrons in the understory.

You can also go biking in the parks, and camp if you plan to stay for a few days.

Redwood National and State Parks are about 5.5 hours north of San Francisco by road, and you can visit all year, although you will have the best weather in the summer.

Man standing in front of enormous Redwood trees with a sunflare in the top left corner of the photo

Apostle Islands, Wisconsin

From Jase of Roaming Vegans

A little-known gem in the north of Wisconsin is the Apostle Islands.

This island archipelago on Lake Superior looks like it belongs in Southeast Asia – not on the shoreline of a humble midwestern town.

However, its tucked-away location makes it all the more special for visitors.

While the lake freezes in winter, the islands come to life in summer with many activities like  sea kayaking , island hopping, and cliff jumping.

There is even an island home to one of the largest concentrations of bears in the Midwest–yes, bears!

The largest and most populated island is Madeline Island which makes for a great base to explore the nearby smaller islands.

sea caves as seen from the water at apostle islands, one of the best places to visit in the us

Maui, Hawaii

From Jessica of I’m Jess Traveling

Famed for her elegant beaches,  world-class resorts , and next-level surf, Maui attracts visitors from all over the world. 

It’s no surprise that Maui was named Condé Nast Traveler’s best island in the U.S. for 23 consecutive years. 

There are countless things to see and do in Maui depending on your travel style. 

For outdoor enthusiasts, hike through a majestic bamboo forest ending at a 400-foot waterfall.  

Ocean lovers can test their skills at surfing or set sail on a sunset cruise.

Bright blue water as seen along the Road to Hana in Maui, one of the best USA road trip itinerary ideas

There won’t be a shortage of exotic beaches to explore, no matter what your travel style is.

The adventure seekers have their pick among plunging the popular Road to Hana or watching the sunrise above the clouds at 10,000 feet inside Haleakala National Park. 

Whatever your draw, sunsets, beaches, luxury, or adventure, Maui has it all. 

Not only is Maui one of the best USA travel destinations but it’s one of the best places to take a tropical vacation in the world. 

Couple walking along Kaanapali Beach in Maui, shaded by a palm tree. Kaanapali Beach is one of the best beaches in America

Cape Cod, Massachusetts

For adorable beach towns, sandy beaches, and some of the best seafood you’ve ever eaten in your life, head to the classic New England summer getaway of Cape Cod.

While you’re in Cape Cod (or as New Englanders say, “on the Cape”), hit one of the beautiful trails, visit a lighthouse or two, stick your toes in the sand, and eat lots and lots of lobster.

While Cape Cod’s swimming season is much shorter than popular beach destinations elsewhere in the country, it’s still well worth visiting.

Just be sure to plan ahead, because rental houses for summer on the Cape tend to book up before winter even wraps up!

Provincetown Massachusetts on Cape Cod as seen from the water

Nā Pali Coast, Kauai

Towering cliffs covered in dense jungle, dramatic waterfalls, small valleys, and views of the Pacific Ocean far below: welcome to the Nā Pali   Coast.

Without a doubt, the Nā Pali   Coast on Kauai is one of the most beautiful travel destinations in the US.

Stretching 17 miles along the northwest portion of Kauai, the Nā Pali   Coast is best admired from air–usually via a helicopter tour–or from a boat on the sea.

Whichever option you choose, there’s no doubt that what is arguably the most beautiful corner of The Garden Island is bound to impress.

Na Pali Coast of Kauai Hawaii. Kauai is one of the best road trips in USA.

Florida Keys

For a taste of the Caribbean without leaving the USA, head to the Florida Keys!

Not only is the overseas drive from Miami to Key West one of the most scenic road trips in the USA, but the Keys themselves are also fantastic, home to beautiful beaches, colorful architecture, great food, and plenty of things to do.

While you’re there, be sure to hit the water via snorkeling or scuba diving, go for a swim, enjoy the famous Duval Street, tour the Ernest Hemingway House, and eat several slices of the region’s famous Key Lime pie!

Highway over the Caribbean Sea leading the to Floriday Keys as shot with a drone. The Florida Keys are one of the best places to visit in USA

Big Island, Hawaii

From Patricia of Travel Fam Life

The biggest of the Hawaiian Islands, Hawaii (also known as the Big Island) is a cool place to visit.

That starts with the weather: you’ll experience a lot of sunshine temperatures ranging from 85°- 90° in the summer months and 79°- 83 in the winter months, making it the perfect place to escape year-round. 

Hawaii is going to impress anyone that decides to visit.

The food is phenomenal and the choices are vast with plenty of history and cultural backgrounds.

The array of activities ranges from land to sea, from memorable ancient sites to beautiful folklore traditions. 

Some of the best things to do when taking a vacation to the Big Island include:

woman snorkeling in hawaii with orange fish in the foreground

Zip Lining over waterfalls is an activity that can be very exhilarating if you are an adrenaline junkie.

This can also be enjoyed as a family activity, some companies allow kids as young as 5 years old to participate.

Volcano National Park is a breathtaking experience with its majestic hikes, thrilling ride down to the Chain of Craters, and some spectacular scenery and photo opportunities.

Papakolea or Green Sand Beach is one of 4 green sand beaches in the world.

The hike to this remote beach is very worthwhile, and the backdrop of the Hawaiian blue ocean that keeps you company makes the whole experience priceless.

And the list goes on, you can check it out here .

Helicopter tour of Volcano National Park in Hawaii shot from inside the helicopter with lava visible through the windshield

Outer Banks, North Carolina

With sandy beaches framed by sand dunes and rolling waves, the Outer Banks of North Carolina may not boast the bright water of the Florida Keys or the tropical beauty of Hawaii, but they are stunning all the same, and absolutely one of the best places to visit in the USA.

Come for the small beach towns, the history of the Wright Brothers taking their first flight here, the southern food, the historic forts, and the beautiful lighthouses. 

Come for the sunken pirate ships, for the wild horses that live on some of the islands, for the great places to swim, and for the great day trip opportunities.

If you’re looking for a classic, all-American vacation, you can’t go wrong with a visit to the barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina that make up the magnificent Outer Banks.

2 wild horses on a beach in North Carolina. Both horses are brown and they are standing near sand dunes

Oahu, Hawaii

From Sydney of A World in Reach

While visitors sometimes think of Oahu as just being a stopping point before visiting Hawaii’s other islands, the island has so much to offer than overcrowded beaches and tourist attractions.

Oahu is home to delicious food, beautiful scenery, and captivating history and is one of the best travel destinations in the United States.

Most visitors to Oahu will base themselves in Honolulu, Hawaii’s capital and largest city.

Guidebooks often recommend spending little time in Honolulu; however, this city is a melting pot of culture and is home to some of the best food on the island.

Whether you’re looking for a traditional Hawaiian meal or some of the best Asian food in the United States, you can easily find a delicious meal in Honolulu.

Start your visit to Oahu off by exploring Honolulu, seeing the sights, and eating all of the delicious food.

oahu hawaii beach at sunset with palm trees in the foreground

Spend a day at Waikiki Beach – it might be touristy, but it’s still worth a visit.

Plan a visit to Pearl Harbor, where you can learn more about one of the darkest days in US History, and spend a morning hiking Diamond Head, one of the best hikes on Oahu .

Spend the rest of your time on the island exploring the North Shore, visiting the famous Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck, and indulging in shave ice from Matsumoto.

Visit the beaches along the North Shore, where you might see some surfers catching waves, and hike through a botanical garden to a beautiful waterfall at Waimea Valley.

Lanikai beach in Oahu Hawaii as seen from above. One of the best beaches in USA

Napa Valley, California

Northern California’s wine country is definitely among the most beautiful–and for wine lovers, tastiest, places to visit in the USA.

With beautiful small towns, great boutiques, and rolling hills filled with vineyards that almost feel like being in Tuscany, both Napa Valley and Sonoma County have plenty to offer those looking for a laid-back, wine-filled getaway.

Vineyard in Napa Valley CA with a wood barn visible in the background, one of the best honeymoon destinations in usa

Door County, Wisconsin

From Paulina of Paulina on the Road

Wisconsin often isn’t the first US state that people think of visiting, but from beautiful beaches to quirky attractions like House on the Rock , it has plenty to offer.

One of the most beautiful USA landmarks, Door Country, Wisconsin welcomes you on board with 300 miles of stretched shoreline and an awestruck sunset over the water, you could not leave without a witness. 

It allows your soul to breathe and relax. Wisconsin lets you explore aesthetic art galleries, and thousands of miles of stretched orchards, cherish the local brews and wines, paddle along the beautiful lakes, and devour the cheery pies.

winding road through fall foliage in door county wisconsin, one of the best hidden usa secret vacation spots

Moreover, Green Bay, the capital of the region, is an underrated city that eventually captivates its visitors.

Though it’s a small city, the vibrant culture offers amazing  things to do in Green Bay .

Green Bay entertains visitors with prominent wineries. They produce their wines right up there which adds up to be a vital part of their culture. The landscape and heritage inspire the artists.

Walleye fishermen have the best water. It’s clean and portrays immense beauty. The botanical gardens and zoological parks play their role in charming travelers. 

Green Bay is an enchanting place that charms visitors with its intriguing features. 

Lakeshore at golden hour in Door County Wisconsin with evergreen trees on the right side of the photo

Route 66 isn’t technically just one place, but as one of the most iconic travel destinations in the United States, I couldn’t bear to leave it off this USA bucket list!

Stretching from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California, Route 66 is America’s best-known road trip and the perfect place to find not-quite-forgotten slices of Americana, from quirky roadside attractions like Cadillac Ranch and the Catoosa Whale to beloved diners and 50s-era-inspired motels.

Route 66 passes through nine states in total (Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California), and is a fantastic way to experience some of the best of what traveling in the US has to offer, all in one large trip.

jeremy storm sitting on top of a car at cadillac ranch in amarillo

Big cities, small towns, incredibly diverse landscapes, and beloved national parks are all featured heavily on Route 66.

Though it’s not technically on the route, even the Grand Canyon is accessible as an incredible side journey when road-tripping Route 66.

Whether you want to find a quirky campsite in Oklahoma or go hiking in Arizona, there’s no doubt that Route 66 is a classic US travel destination.

Route 66 in California with Joshua trees on either side. Route 66 is one of the absolute best road trips in USA

Big Sur, California

From Lauren of Ready, Set, PTO

Big Sur is one of the most beautiful places in the US and should definitely be on your bucket list.

Cruising along the winding Pacific Coast Highway with sweeping views of the Pacific is a magical experience.

This rugged area is located in Central California, about 5 hours north of Los Angeles.

If you aren’t able to find available lodging within Big Sur, check out nearby towns of Carmel and Monterey for more options, or try car camping with an epic view!

mcway falls as seen on big sur from above, one of the best places to visit in california

There are plenty of amazing  things to do in Big Sur .

I definitely recommend checking out the iconic Bixby Bridge (as seen in HBO’s Big Little Lies), admiring McWay Falls, hiking in Andrew Molera State Park, and Limekiln State Park, having a drink with a view at Nepenthe and watching the sunset at Pfeiffer Beach!

There’s not much cell service in Big Sur, so be prepared for an off-the-grid weekend of relaxation and gorgeous views.

Pacific Coast Highway California shot from above, one of the best romantic vacations for couples in the United States

Page, Arizona

The small town of Page, Arizona may seem like no more than a small town worthy of a brief stop on a road trip at first blush–but this small, unassuming town is home to some of the most incredible sights in the entire southwest, and it definitely belongs on your USA bucket list!

Page is where you can find the famous Antelope Canyon, as well as Horseshoe Bend , the Instagram darling of the Colorado River (for very good reason).

Just outside of Page, you can also find the remarkable Glen Canyon Dam, one of the largest dams in the US, as well as Lake Powell–but to see the best of Lake Powell, you’ll actually need to cross into Utah!

That’s not hard to do, though: Page is located right next to the Arizona/Utah border.

With such an outsized list of fun attractions, there’s no doubt that Page is one of the coolest places to vacation in the USA.

2 photos of the USA, first from a train ride in Alaska and one from a geothermic spring in Yellow. Black and red text reads "50 bucket list usa travel destinations"

About Kate Storm

Image of the author, Kate Storm

In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.

3 thoughts on “USA Bucket List: 50 Best Places to Visit in the US”

Great info. I know its great because I have been to most of the beaches you mention!

Thank you – will also look at your Italian small towns to see which ones we should visit and maybe retire to.

Thank you so much, Laura!

Retiring to Italy–sounds like quite the dream! 🙂

Absolutely amazing article, just loved it.

Leave a Comment Cancel reply

Creative Travel Guide

10 Unusual places to visit in the US

By Author Katie

Posted on Last updated: December 29, 2023

10 Unusual places to visit in the US

These unusual places to visit in the US are unique, interesting destinations to discover, perfect for urban exploration and eerie experiences.

The United States has a wide range of interesting places to visit that should be on your USA Bucketlist . From beautiful landscapes to historically significant landmarks and the 7 Wonders of the United States.

However, some of the most unique, interesting destinations to explore, are these unusual places to visit in the US which even include some abandoned places in the US.

Love unique travel? We also share some of the best unique hotels in the USA , ideal for those looking for something a little different.

Things to know before you travel the USA

  • Do not forget your visa . Every traveler needs to know the requirements necessary to enter the United States because incorrect issuance of a tourist visa or appearance without the appropriate documents will lead to a refusal of entry.
  • Do not visit the USA without travel insurance .
  • Do not forget about the connection . To be able to use smartphones, buy a digital SIM for travel in USA and explore the undeniable advantages of having an eSIM card on your trip. 
  • Don’t forget that the USA has a tipping culture . Whether it is a restaurant, bar, taxi, or food delivery, there is an expectation that you leave a tip when being served by someone else. Most restaurants now print the percentages on the receipt or show the prices on a card machine when paying by card, just be aware of this when budgeting your trip and being served.
  • Prices are not what they seem. Prices listed in stores often don’t include the sales tax. This tax usually ranges from 6% to 10% and varies from state to state, as well as from city to city.
  • Understand the Public Transport . The larger cities in each state will offer some excellent transportation options, from subways to metros to extensive bus systems. Learn about the system in your destination but be aware, that smaller cities and towns do not offer fantastic or reliable public transportation options, so you may need to hire a car.

Unusual places to visit in the US

Gary, Indiana

Gary, Indiana

Many would agree that Gary, in Indiana, was once a bustling city. Once a thriving steel town, over the last few years, it has become infamous for its deserted structures and increased robbery. Yet, the city presents an interesting option for those who like taking photos of the ruins of old industrial plants. 

The Gary Union Station is considered one of the most famous among the abandoned buildings in Gary.

This huge train station was constructed in 1910 and was the terminal point for the trains that traveled from Chicago to Pittsburgh. The place is now deserted, its windows broken, and its walls plastered with graffiti.

Centralia, Pennsylvania

Centralia, Pennsylvania

The deserted city of Centralia, Pennsylvania, since the 1960s. At one time, Centralia had over 1,000 people living there and supported a coal mining industry. Despite that, a coal seam fire dating back to 1962 is still smoldering underground, and the town is now unfit for habitation.

People come here as well to see these abandoned streets and buildings, including the burnt ground on which they stand, but the old church has not moved.

Cairo, Illinois

Cairo, Illinois

The townsite of Cairo, Illinois, sits right at the point where the Ohio River flows into the Mississippi.

Established in 1837, Cairo has always been a busy port of transit as well as a trade outlet. Despite this, however, throughout the decades, there have been many issues that have beset the city, and it has not been managing enough people and wealth.

This is one of the greatest challenges faced by Cairo due to its location in a flood-risk zone. The city has suffered several massive floods in the past, for instance, the great flood of 2011, which destroyed many buildings.

You can now visit Cairo and appreciate the old-time archiecture that has been left to age with the surroudning nature.

Jackson, Wyoming

Jackson, Wyoming

Another intresting and unusual places to visit in the US is Jackon, Wyoming. The small but beautiful town lies deep in the mighty Rockies Mountain region.

Jackson, which is famous for its pristine environment, is a place that attracts international tourists.

Additionally, Jackson offers some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the world. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is the biggest in North America, with more than 2,500 acres of terrain and nearly 450 inches of average annual snowfall.

However, Jackson, being a famous holidaymaker, still retains its rural atmosphere and Western character.

Several events are held in this town during the year that promote cowboy culture like the Jackson Hole rodeo, and the elite antler auction dubbed as Elkfest, among others.

Bodie, California

Bodie, California

Bodie Town was founded during the California Gold Rush in 1859 and had more than ten thousand residents at one time. Nevertheless, throughout the years, the town’s prosperity waned down until, at the beginning of the 20th century, many people abandoned the place.

Currently, Bodie operates as a state historic park and is a popular tourist attraction. The town has many well-maintained buildings that visitors may tour, including homes, saloons, and even a jail. There are several restored shops located on the town’s main street.

Many of the buildings in Bodie have not lost their old fixtures and furnishings, which were here when the glory days began. One can find himself transported back in time through antiquated telephones and furniture for visitors who come here.

Savannah, Georgia 

Savannah, Georgia 

For more unusual places to visit in the USA, make sure to plan a trip to Savannah, Georgia . Savannah boasts year-round pleasant weather and an atmosphere reminiscent of a classic American film set in the South. It is, after all, the country of broad fields, afternoon cocktails, and peach trees.

A delightful blend of history, culture, and art can be found here, along with some of the most amiable people you’ll ever encounter. Here, time seems to slow down a bit, allowing you to fully appreciate the surroundings.

Savannah offers things to do, sights to see, and a social culture that needs to be on your USA Bucketlist . It also has plenty of amazing food in the best Mom and Pop Savannah restaurants so come with an empty stomach and taste all the local dishes.

Trinidad, California is one of the more Unusual Places in the USA

Trinidad, California

Another one of the more unusual places to visit in the USA is Trinidad in California. There are less than 400 individuals living in this little village. Despite its size, this Californian hamlet offers a wealth of amenities.

There is plenty to discover and take in in Trinidad, from stunning public beaches to the history and traditions of Native Americans. The stunning coastline of Trinidad, which has 10 public beaches and offshore rocks, is well known.

One of the most breathtaking and unspoiled parts of the California coast is the Trinidad region. It is now recognized as a California Coastal National Monument Gateway, providing the greatest opportunity from the coast to explore and observe offshore rocks, islands, and their residents.

One of the most varied seabird colonies in California, with over 100,000 breeding birds and twelve species, is sustained by rocks off the coast of Trinidad.

For seabirds, Green Rock and Flatiron Rock are the two most significant locations. Twenty-five percent of the most significant seabird colonies along the California coast are found on these two rocks alone.

Little Switzerland, North Carolina

Little Switzerland, North Carolina

Little Switzerland is another unusal palce to visit in the US.

It all began in 1910 when a justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court discovered the region and made the decision to build a vacation community.

These days, the little hamlet with Swiss influences is a great place to spend a long weekend, especially if you’re itching to travel abroad.

Just make sure to schedule your trip during the busiest months of the town, which are April through November, as many establishments and lodgings close from Thanksgiving until March.

Little Switzerland’s architecture, as the name implies, is influenced by Swiss styles, but the entire look was originally inspired by the region. This is a unique place to visit in the US but also one o the most romantic places to visit in the USA .

Silver City, New Mexico

Silver City, New Mexico

Silver City, located in the southwest corner of New Mexico, is not the type of city that just happens to exist and one of the more unusual places to visit in the USA. In the late 1800s, the town was sought after by silver miners, and more recently, outdoorsy and artistic types have been drawn to it by its Old West flair and high-desert setting.

Casual eateries in the historic center make effective use of the local green chilies. Silver City, outside of town, was named one of the healthiest retirement and living communities lately. 

The vibrant past began in 1870 with the discovery of silver above La Cienega (Marsh) de San Vicente. Stories from those early days feature the Hearst family, Judge Roy Bean, Billy the Kid, Geronimo, and “Dangerous” Dan Tucker.

Spokane, Washington

Spokane, Washington

One of the greatest cities in the Pacific Northwest is Spokane, where you can never get bored.There is plenty for everyone to do here, whether your goals are to explore the sites, spend time in the great outdoors, or take in the vibrant music scene.

Saunders Cheese Market is one of the interesting marketplaces to explore. You can also have coffee at a contemporary cafe. Spokane will not let you down, no matter what you decide to do.

Helpful Resources

Travel essentials:

  • We LOVE this camera for our travel photography .
  • For a cheap, easy, and compact camera, we use this to vlog and take photographs. 
  • We use this microphone for all our YouTube voiceovers.
  • We use this travel drone (but make sure to check drone laws in your chosen destination first). 
  • This is our favorite travel insurance because it covers so many activities and travel situations that could arise on longer trips but also offers year coverage.

What to pack

  • No matter where we travel, I always take these trusty hand sanitizers and a mini first aid kit.  
  • We love these toiletry bags (especially great for smaller bathrooms) and choose a laptop bag like this as our hand luggage. 
  • We keep our devices charged on long travel days with these lightweight battery packs  and bring these worldwide travel adaptors on all our trips. 
  • I still struggle not to overpack so stick to using an expandable suitcase like these and always take my trusty luggage scales to avoid being charged at the airport. 

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed .

Search Site

Travel Eat Blog

USA Bucket List – 20 Unique Things You Can Only Do in the US

Grand Canyon View From the South Rim USA Bucket List

There is so much to see in the United States that it can be hard to decide where to go next and what to choose. This USA bucket list has the most exciting and iconic places to visit and things to do in America. Whether this is your first trip to the US or if you are from the States, you will be able to experience the most amazing and unique things America has to offer. Some people say that the culture in the United States is very new and there are not as many unique things as there are in Europe, but it isn’t true. Each city has its history and culture and the best local cuisine that was formed by the people and the cultures immigrating to the region. Here are the top 20 things you must add to your American bucket list when you are planning your next vacation!

USA Bucket List – 20 Unique Places to Go and Things to Do in America

Watch a broadway show in new york city.

When in New York, you should go to see a Broadway show. You might not be able to get seats to the Hamilton, the new story of one of America’s founding fathers interpreted through hip-hop. (My dream!) However, there are still the classics and Broadway truly can’t be beaten. Some of my favorites – The Lion King, Les Miserables, and Wicked – the classics you shouldn’t miss on your trip to the Big Apple. For more information about available tickets, go here .

Feel the Mist of Niagara Falls

Feel The Mist of Niagara Falls

I didn’t understand what that means until I stood and watched the water hit the rocks with incredible might and strength at Niagara Falls. The force of the water is so energizing. Stand as close to the falls as you can (or take a ride on the Maid of the Mist) and feel the power, listen to the sound of the roaring water ( and paint with the colors of the wind )!

There are a lot of fun things to do in Niagara Falls, so planning ahead will help you ensure that you get to see everything on your list. You might want to consider the Niagara USA Discovery Pass  – you’ll get a discount on admission to popular park attractions. Niagara Falls has to be on your USA bucket list – more than six million feet of water cascading over a rocky crest is a view to remember!

Remember, it’s partially located in the United States and partially in Canada, so if you can, go to the Canadian part as well! This is a place you should experience at least once in your lifetime. But if you go once, you will probably come back again.

Gaze at the Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park , Wyoming

Discovered in 1870, the Old Faithful geyser was named for its frequent eruptions, which is more than a million since it became the world’s first national park. Thermal features change constantly and Old Faithful may stop erupting someday. Old Faithful erupts every 35 to 120 minutes for 1 1/2 to 5 minutes. Its maximum height ranges from 90 to 184 feet. While it is not the biggest or the most regular geyser in Yellowstone, it is the biggest regular geyser. The view of the Old Faithful is truly amazing and Yellowstone should be in the top 5 of your American bucket list!

Visit the Alamo in San Antonio

San Antonio is one of the oldest cities in the United States with rich and amazing history. No visit to San Antonio, Texas is complete without a tour of the Alamo, the site of the most important battle for the Republic of Texas. Visit Alamo to understand early Texas history and the battle for Texas independence as well as Spanish architecture and artifacts. After you are done there, check out the Riverwalk and eat at one of the many great restaurants.

Related: Cheap US Airline Review for Your Bucket List

Attend the mardi gras festival in new orleans.

New Orleans

Another city that has a very unique culture that you absolutely have to experience is New Orleans. The most exciting time to visit New Orleans is during the Carnival season and especially during the Mardi Gras Festival. But don’t worry if you go at another time, there’s always a party to be found in NOLA, from poky jazz bars to smoldering blues clubs. New Orleans is definitely a great place to add to your bucket list to get truly unique USA experiences. Read more about the oldest cities in the United States that have a unique history and shaped the US in my blog post . 

Catch the Cubs game at Wrigley Field while taking down a Chicago-style hot dog

Catch the Cubs game at Wrigley Field

If you are looking for uniquely American experiences, this is it. Even if you are not a baseball fan, at least once in your life you should experience this iconic place. It is synonymous with Chicago and a visit to the city would be incomplete, without a visit to Wrigley Field. Before the game, go see the reflection of the city in the Cloud Gate, or “the bean”. And after having a Chicago-style hot dog have a Chicago-style pizza! After you do, let me know which one you liked more in the comments below! (or send me a message on Instagram )

Planning a trip? See more unique things to do in Chicago !

Go skiing in Aspen Highlands, Colorado

Aspen Highlands features extreme Colorado steeps. Think you are really, really good? Then go where the locals go to get humbled – Aspen Highlands. Wide-open runs, breathtaking views, plenty of beginner and intermediate runs, and hike-accessible terrain that is some of the steepest in the state. If you love adventurous and exciting holidays, Colorado has everything you need!

Hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon

The Mules Ascending from the bottom of the Grand Canyon USA Bucket List

Hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon is an amazing experience that is worth any USA bucket list. It does, however, require a good amount of physical training beforehand. The views are even more amazing from the bottom than they are from the top, and if you would like, you could take the mules up or down. And plan ahead, people reserve their lodging (and mules) up to 6 months in advance.

Try some BBQ ribs in Kansas City, Missouri

When in Kansas City, you’ll be surrounded by some of the best barbecue joints in the country so why not try one.. Or two? Among my favorites – Jack Stack and Stack BBQ.

And if you are in Kansas City for the BBQ, check out their WWII museum – it is phenomenal.

Walk the Walk of Fame in LA

Los Angeles is a vibrant city, full of art, history, and nature. Of course, many people go to L.A. for the movie and television culture that the area is most famous for. If you are in L.A., don’t miss seeing the Hollywood sign, the Walk of Fame, Madame Tussaud’s Hollywood, and the Guinness World Records Museum.

Go Gambling in Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas Strip USA Bucket List

With a rich history of nearly a century of legalized gambling, Las Vegas is the mecca for casino players across the globe. The city contains more than 75 casinos, with most concentrated on Las Vegas Boulevard – more commonly known as the Strip. The Bellagio, the Caesars Palace, the Venetian – visit all of these when you are in Las Vegas. Maybe, you’ll bring some cash home!

Attend the Burning Man festival in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada

Have you heard of the Burning Man Festival? If you have always wanted to go, do it! There is nothing like that! Participants join in the effort to co-create Black Rock City, a temporary town in the middle of the desert dedicated to art and community. There you will find art installations, themed camps, music, and a giant burning man at the end of the festival! You know, that’s the reason everyone is there!

Watch the fish fly at Pike Place Market and leave your “mark” on the Gum Wall in Seattle

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Travel • Eat • Blog (@traveleatblog)

Pike Place Market is a public market overlooking the Elliott Bay waterfront in Seattle, Washington, United States. It is known for their tradition of fishmongers throwing fish that customers have purchased, before they are wrapped.

And, of course, see the gum wall (or touch?), it’s gross, but a must if you are in Seattle. And you can add to the art!

Spend a day wandering in NYC

Times Square in NYC USA Bucket List

Visit the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Central Park, and the Twin Towers Memorial. I actually did all of these in one day the last time I visited. Yes, that is a lot of walking but it is doable. And, it’s amazing! My favorite parts of NYC – the busy streets of Lower Manhattan , hearing different languages everywhere you go, and NY-style pizza. It almost doesn’t feel like you are in the US, so you must go. When you are there, spend at least a day shopping in some of the most famous shopping areas in the US!

Get lost among giant sequoia trees in the Redwood National Park, California

Travel to Northern California’s stunning Redwood National Park and see the tallest trees in the world. You will feel like a tiny fairy (or gnome) as you stroll in the shadows of these enormous trees and explore rocky undeveloped beaches, fern-studded canyons, open prairie, and oak woodlands. 

See “the Heads” in Mount Rushmore, South Dakota

See the Heads of Mt Rushmore USA Bucket List

South Dakota is home to the Badlands and the Needles of the Black Hills, but nothing “stands out” quite like Mount Rushmore National Memorial. This project was created as a way to attract tourists to the state and, it worked! Mount Rushmore is now visited by nearly 3 million people annually! And yes, I hope you can see how excited I was in the photo above!

Bike across the Golden Gate Bridge and see Alcatraz in San Francisco , California

Alcatraz San Francisco

Rent a bike and pedal your way over the world’s most famous bridges! The Golden Gate bridge is one of the most famous and beautiful bridges in the world because of its spectacular location, graceful lines, details, and bright color. With towers extending 746 feet into the sky and over 100 feet beneath the bay, the bridge is an engineering marvel. There are so many other beautiful locations in San Francisco and every single one of them is worth going to, read here about cool places and neighborhoods to see in San Francisco . 

Related: Travelling to San Francisco

Dive into Puerto Rico’s Bio-luminescent Bay

If there’s one thing you can’t miss during your vacation in Puerto Rico, it’s experiencing the glowing lagoon while kayaking or snorkeling. The bioluminescent bay in La Parguera is a natural phenomenon unlike any other. Sometimes called the ‘phosphorescent bay’, it is home to year-round luminescence and is one of only seven of its kind in the world.

Experience Saint Louis like a Local

Saint Louis Arch USA Bucket List

See a Cardinals baseball game, visit the Budweiser brewery and eat at Pappy’s Smokehouse in Saint Louis. Experience your day as recommended by a Saint Louis local and then go and take a picture with the Arch. (not so local, but worth it!) If you have more time, visit the Science Museum and the Zoo! (both are free!!)

Watch the Northern Lights in Alaska

Last but not least on the USA bucket list is the Northern Lights of Alaska. Northern Alaska is where many Americans head for the chance to see the northern lights. Spend some time above the Arctic Circle under the mysterious, eerie northern lights from mid-September to late April to witness the phenomenon of the aurora borealis.

More Ideas for your Bucket List:

  • Learn about American Government in Wahington DC
  • Hike the Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Explore the Ancient Homes at Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado
  • Hike the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Listen to Jazz, Try Creole Food and Stay at the French Quarter in New Orleans
  • Visit the Walt Disney World in Orlando
  • Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
  • See Someone Famous in Hollywood, California

Are you looking for more travel ideas in the United States, see the Oldest Cities to Visit in the US and the Best Summer Vacations in the US !

USA Bucket List - Unique Places to Visit in America

Tell Me: How many of these have you done already and what’s next on your USA bucket list?

  • Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)
  • Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
  • Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)
  • Click to email a link to a friend (Opens in new window)
  • Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)

' src=

You may also like

On the highest end of the Bear Lake to Fern Lake trail

Best USA Summer Vacations in 2024

September 2, 2022

Best Things to Do at the Yellowstone National Park

Best Things to Do at the Yellowstone National Park

May 26, 2020

unique places to visit usa

25 Unique Things to Do in Chicago (Tips From a Local)

September 1, 2019


' src=

I’m from Australia and haven’t been the US yet so this is a great list for me! Thanks

' src=

That’s so great! I hope you will find it useful when you come to visit!

' src=

These are all great places to travel and see. I would love to explore the majority of these places as well.

' src=

I’ve visited five of the locations on the list and completed only three of the items. However, this reminds me that there is still so much for me to do and see right here in America.

' src=

I think sometimes we get so caught up in international travel that we totally forget about the treasures that are here in America. When I went to San Francisco I was so amazed at this city that is right in my “backyard” per se that I had never thought to go to.

Lovely list! x


' src=

I moved to California from Europe, so many things on my bucket list. Most curious about New Orleans.

' src=

The only thing that I have done on this list is go to a Mardi Gras Festive because I live in New Orleans. There are a lot of places that I want to go visit, South Dakota is one of them.

' src=

I’ve done 3!!! I want to do them all, you’ve made a great list!

' src=

Great list! I have only done 2 of these and I live in the US! I could for sure add some fun things to this list, like ice skating outside in downtown Detroit. Or check out Mammoth Caves in Kentucky 🙂

Oh yes, I have been to the Mammoth Cave! It’s definitely worth adding to this list!

' src=

Seeing the Northern Lights in Alaska and skiing/snowboarding in Colorado are two things I am DESPERATE to do. Love the balance of well-known and hidden-treasure-esque things to do 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

' src=

So many good ideas! I have some of those on my bucket list. ❤️

' src=

Great list! I love the unique ideas. I have only accomplished wandering around NYC, even though I have been to 5 of these cities!! Pinned for later! 🙂

Kendra B.

' src=

I’ve done only four of these. Ohh gee! I have more to go 😀

' src=

Awesome list! I have done 11 in some form, I will have to get on to finishing the rest!

That’s a lot! You are almost done! Then, it’s time to go abroad and see more if you ask me!

' src=

I’ve love seeing Broadway shows!! Of course, I don’t live in New York, but there’s a theater where I live and I’ve seen The Lion King (AMAZING) and Wicked (So good!). I actually did see Cinderella on Broadway in New York though and it was awesome. I also just visited Niagara Falls a few months ago and it was beautiful. Going to Alaska to see the northern lights is something that has been on my bucketlist for forever. I can’t wait until I get to go and hopefully that will be soon! Great post!

Megan xx

Wow! I actually haven’t been to the Niagara Falls yet, but I can’t wait to go!

' src=

A lot of these are def. on my list. Thanks for the tips!

' src=

Great list. Will start working on bucket list destinations next year. Anxious to look at these from the lens of a baby boomer.

' src=

This is a great bucket list! I would love to visit a lot of these places!

' src=

Yosemite is one of my favourite places on earth! I also love Arches and Bryce Canyon national parks. My next trip I plan to visit Badlands and some of the other remote quieter NPs. I really love USA! I try to visit at least every two years, I love to stop in small towns in between driving the parks on road trips. Also Zion NP is absolutely stunning … would love to hike through it one day.

' src=

NYC is amazing, but can’t wait to go to Las Vegas

' src=

Thanks- for sharing the great post. The information is really noticeable especially info about Niagara Falls. I love to travel a lot, once again thanks a lot for sharing such a nice article, and please share another post very soon as I am waiting to read out another wonderful post so that I can update my travel list.

' src=

What a great list for people to use! Thanks for sharing:)

' src=

Love it!! So many awesome recommendations:)

' src=

There’s some great things on this list, I’ve been lucky to have checked off a few! Walking across the Golden Gate Bridge is amazing, but I got to run across it during a marathon! Wrigley Stadium is my favorite ballpark of all the ones I’ve visited, definitely the ultimate place to catch a game. Most visitors to the Grand Canyon get the high up view, but I agree that the best way to experience this natural landmark is from below!

' src=

These seem like such fun and beautiful places to visit! I think I’ll be adding a few to my bucket list travels.

' src=

Beautiful blog :).

' src=

I need to get busy with this list. I’ve only done five! And, unfortunately, they don’t let you dive into the biobay In Puerto Rico anymore for conservation purposes. My husband did as a kid, but I missed it. Very sad. Love this list.

' src=

Nice list! I like to say I’ve done a lot of the USA, but your list makes me realise I have a lot to go. I’ve only got 10/20!

' src=

As an American who has lived in many different cities, it’s embarrassing how few of these I have done! But some good inspiration for the New Year. Love the variety!

' src=

Such a great post! I’ve only done less than a handful of these things and I am a traveler myself! I’ve been to NYC 2x and have yet to see a Broadway show. I need to do that the next time I am there!

' src=

Love it! We have a see all 50 states bucket list that we’re more than 1/2 way through! It’s so fun!

' src=

Awesome site you have here but I was wondering if you knew of any forums that cover the same topics talked about here? I’d really like to be a part of community where I can get comments from other experienced individuals that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Cheers!

' src=

Yellowstone National Park is similar to the Great Geysir in southwestern Iceland. It was stunning! Would love to visit USA one day soon!

' src=

I live in the United States and still haven’t done eveything on this list. What a great synopsis of things to do!

' src=

I love your list. A lot of these were on my bucket list before, but a lot of them I will have to add

' src=

So many amazing places to visit in the US. Sadly I have yet to see any of these. Hopefully soon.

' src=

What a fantastic list! I think that you have captured so many amazing experiences in the USA. I’ve done a ton of them which is so interesting because being from Canada, I don’t really think of them as being such important experiences. But when I see them listed like you have done, they are amazing things to do in the USA.

' src=

Yay Chicago made the list!! Love your bucket list graphic and all your tips! Burning man is definitely on my list 🙂 great post! Keep it up <3

I love your bucket list, USA has so much to offer, personally, I’m really into the great canyon. It just looks so cool!

' src=

I’ve been to the U.S twice now and there’s always something new to discover. On my last visit, we stayed at Las Vegas but didnt get a chance to visit the Grand Canyon. Will need to return soon

' src=

This is the perfect bucket list for any tourist visiting the USA!

' src=

I’m saving this for my trip to America next year!

' src=

This is a great list!! I have only done 7 of them. I’ve never been to Alaska, Puerto Rico, or Washington, so I must add those to my list so that I can check off a bunch more of the bucket list items.

I love updating and adding on to my bucket list! The world is huge and there is so much to see!

' src=

Great ideas! Thanks!

' src=

I live in the US and haven’t done one thing on your list. Thanks for the inspiration!

' src=

Wow, Thanks for amazing post…….

' src=

Wow, I absolutely love your USA Bucket List! It’s such a comprehensive and inspiring guide for travelers like me who are looking to explore the gems of the United States. Your article showcases the diversity and beauty of this vast country, from iconic landmarks like the Grand Canyon to lesser-known treasures like Sedona. The vivid descriptions and stunning photos truly bring each destination to life, igniting my wanderlust even more. Thank you for sharing this incredible resource, it’s definitely going to be my go-to guide for planning my next USA adventure! CinemaHDV2

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of follow-up comments by email.

Notify me of new posts by email.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed .


  • Last Minute

25 Unique Vacations & Places to Visit in USA

Last Updated By VacationIdea Staff on January 24, 2024

Unique Vacations & Places to Visit in USA

  • 1. Jules' Undersea Lodge, Key Largo, Florida

Jules' Undersea Lodge, Key Largo, Florida

If you are looking for unusual vacations, you will not want to miss this incredible place. In addition to overnight stays in the underwater Lodge, Key Largo Undersea Park also offers scuba diving, pizza lunches in the lodge, and three-hour Mini-Adventures in the lagoon. (Phone: 305-451-2353). Jules' Undersea Lodge Map

  • 2. Heceta Head Lighthouse, Cape Cove, Oregon

Heceta Head Lighthouse, Cape Cove, Oregon

Heceta Head Lighthouse is situated in a wonderfully diverse area, with plenty of attractions and historical sites to explore. (Phone: 866-547-3696).

  • 3. Casa Gallina, Taos, New Mexico

Casa Gallina, Taos, New Mexico

Outdoor enthusiasts will delight in the wealth of activities and adventures, from hiking, mountain biking, and white water rafting to snowboarding and skiing. For those wanting less action, the town boasts excellent shopping, art galleries and many restaurants and cafés at which to sit and watch the world go by. ( Casa Gallina , Phone: 575-758-2306).

  • 4. Red Caboose Motel, Ronks, Pennsylvania

Red Caboose Motel, Ronks, Pennsylvania

The Red Caboose Motel is located within close proximity to a variety of attractions, such as the Pennsylvania Train Museum, the Sight and Sound Theater and Dutch Wonderland. The kids will delight in the on-site interactive petting zoo, with sheep, goats, chickens, and ponies. ( Red Caboose Motel , Phone: 717-687-5000).

  • 5. The Bivvi, Breckenridge, Colorado

The Bivvi, Breckenridge, Colorado

Relax in the hot tub or around the outdoor fire pit with new friends, and have a glass of wine or craft beer from the bar. A delicious complimentary breakfast is served each morning. The the town is just a short walk away and offers a range of restaurants and bars for evening dining. ( The Bivvi , Phone: 970-423-6553).

  • 6. Honor & Folly, Detroit, Michigan

Honor & Folly, Detroit, Michigan

Dine at Slows, downstairs from the apartment, or wander down the street where you will find an artisan coffee shop, which serves delicious breakfasts, and a craft cocktail bar packed with locals in the evenings. Charming, friendly and full of excellent restaurants, bars, and historical attractions, Corktown offers an array of things to see and do during your stay. Honor & Folly is a 15-minute walk from downtown Detroit. Honor & Folly

  • 7. The Shady Dell, Bisbee, Arizona

The Shady Dell, Bisbee, Arizona

Trailers sleep up to two people and are comfortably furnished with beds and linens, a small refrigerator, and a coffee percolator. The trailers do not provide cooking facilities for safety reasons. However, guests may use outdoor grills to barbecue. A few of the trailers have a toilet and sink, as well as bathroom and showers facilities just a few steps away. The Shady Dell welcomes guests over 15 years of age only (Phone: 520-432-3567, The Shady Dell ).

  • 8. The Crash Pad, Chattanooga, Tennessee

The Crash Pad, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Prepare your own meals in the full kitchen and relax in the homey living room, a popular gathering spot. There is also an outdoor terrace and fire pit, a complimentary ‘do-it-yourself’ breakfast and freshly roasted coffee. The hostel is within walking distance of a variety of restaurants and bars for evening entertainment. The Crash Pad

  • 9. Rolling Huts, Winthrop, Washington

Rolling Huts, Winthrop, Washington

The award-winning Rolling Huts in Washington's Methow Valley is a campsite like no other. Designed by Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig Architects, the unique huts have modern amenities and breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. Rolling Huts have sleeping platforms for two, comfortable living spaces with furniture that can be converted to sleep two more people, cozy fireplaces, small fridges, and microwaves. Huts are equipped with free Wi-Fi for convenience and have portable toilets adjacent to each cabin. Full bathroom facilities with hot showers are housed in a large barn just a short stroll away. Larger groups of up to eight people can be accommodated in a beautifully preserved turn-of-the-century farmhouse, which has warm wooden interiors, spacious living areas, and a fully equipped kitchen. (Phone: 509-996-4442, Rolling Huts ).

  • 10. Unique Vacations: Metro Hotel, Petaluma, California

Unique Vacations: Metro Hotel, Petaluma, California

The Metro Hotel is a small, self-service boutique hotel modeled after those in Paris, reflecting French charm and tranquility. Housed in a 140-year old building in Historic Downtown Petaluma, the hotel offers well-appointed standard rooms with queen beds and two luxury suites. Rooms and suites are ecclectically furnished with particular individual touches and have modern amenities, including flat screen televisions, and private bathrooms with glamorous ball and claw bath tubs and showers. Some rooms boast beautiful garden views. The Hotel’s in-house café serves an array of complimentary hand-baked pastries accompanied by freshly brewed coffee in the mornings with lunch and dinner for guests later in the day. There are a wide variety of activities and excursions available nearby ranging from wine-tasting at surrounding wineries, historic sojourns through the town’s oldest buildings, and sailing, kayaking and boat cruises on the Petaluma River. (Phone: 707-773-4900, Metro Hotel ).

  • 11. Hicksville Trailer Palace & Artist Retreat, Joshua Tree, California

Hicksville Trailer Palace & Artist Retreat, Joshua Tree, California

Home to an array of quirky themed trailers with just as quirky names, and surrounded by some of the most beautiful landscape in the country, Hicksville Trailer Palace and Artist Retreat in California’s renowned Joshua Tree provides a one-of-a-kind experience. Eleven individually designed and themed trailers offer guests a fun place to sleep, with themes such as a western cowboy theme (The Pioneer trailer), aliens and ghouls (the Integratrailor), and the 70’s disco shack of The Sweet. Trailers have comfortable beds, fresh linens, workstations, air-conditioning and heating and shared bathrooms. There is a range of facilities at the park to enjoy, including a solar-heated swimming pool, BBQ and bistro area for entertaining, a fire pit and a roof deck with a hot tub. There are games galore such as table tennis, archery, and mini golf, and even ‘Fort Dog’, especially designed for your canine traveling companions. Hicksville Trailer Palace & Artist Retreat

  • 12. Rancholoma, Talpa, Texas

Rancholoma, Talpa, Texas

Situated near Flat Rock Park and Hords Creek Lake in Texas, Rancho Loma is a beautifully renovated 1878 ranch house that serves as an award-winning restaurant able to accommodate up to 32 diners. Attached to the farm restaurant is Rest, a modern five-room boutique inn that provides guests with luxurious overnight accommodation as a perfect complement to their meal. Set on a scenic 300-acre ranch, well-appointed rooms in the modern, flat-roofed inn are spacious and light, with wooden floors, high ceilings, and large glass sliding doors that embrace beautiful views of the surrounding terrain. Amenities include Italian linens , in-room espresso service and free Wi-Fi. An upgraded room features a private outdoor shower and tub. Relax in the outdoor swimming pool as you soak up the views, or head to Flat Rock Park and Hords Creek Lake to explore. (Phone: 325-636-4556, Rancholoma ).

  • 13. Treehouse Cabins, Dora, Missouri

Treehouse Cabins, Dora, Missouri

The Treehouse Cabins are located along the North Fork River in Southern Missouri and offer the perfect location if you want to canoe, kayak, or fly fish. This nationally recognized adventure region provides many options for fun in the sun and is an ideal setting for a romantic getaway. You will get to stay in a comfortable modern cabin while feeling like you are escaping to your own private tree house. This location is perfect for those that want to explore the outdoors or have a wedding at the lodge. Accommodations include the Rainbow Springs Lodge that sleeps 8 comfortably, and one of 8 tree house cabins with amazing views of the river and stars. Have breakfast, lunch or dinner at the Falls onsite rustic restaurant. (Phone: 417-261-7777, Treehouse Cabins ).

  • 14. L'Banca Albergo, Lake Arthur, Louisiana

L'Banca Albergo, Lake Arthur, Louisiana

L'Banca Albergo, meaning The Bank Hotel in Italian, used to be the old Jeff Davis Bank in Lake Arthur, Louisiana. Inside you will find 8 luxury suites, with the three suites downstairs featuring king size beds and the five upstairs suites including two queen size ones. Some rooms still have features of the bank, such as the night deposit safe, teller window, and vault door, and there is a fully handicap-accessible room. L’Banca Albergo also features a store known as the Wine Vault where you will find a wide range of wines in addition to Classic Bayou Rum and Crown Royal. There are featured house wines as well, which guests can enjoy in their room, in the lobby, or on the balcony. (Phone: 337-774-7249, L'Banca Albergo ).

The 25 Unique Vacations & Places to Visit in USA & Fun things to do near me today:

More features.

25 Best Places to Visit in Southwestern USA

25 Best Southwest Weekend Getaways

25 Best Weekend Getaways in the USA

25 Best Weekend Getaways

Weekend Getaways from Phoenix, Arizona

20 Best Romantic Weekend Getaways from Phoenix, Arizona


  • About Us/Contact Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Service

The top 12 places to visit in the USA

Bailey Freeman

Aug 28, 2023 • 6 min read

unique places to visit usa

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

The best thing about visiting the US 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 – (figuratively) lose yourself among the redwoods, take deep breaths of sea air on glimmering beaches, or discover underground arts 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 wants to lose themselves in museums and galleries, we’ve created a list of the USA’s heavy hitters. Here are the best places to visit in 2023.

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 entrances with its diversity. 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 maybe 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 there are 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, it’s likely 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 US’ 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 palette of crimson, ochre and amber 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 August 2023

Explore related stories

Caucasian man walking on rocks near the lighthouse on San Juan Island, Washington

Destination Practicalities

Jan 30, 2024 • 8 min read

Escape the stress of modern life without leaving the USA. The San Juan Islands are a calm and beautiful respite that you'll never want to leave.

unique places to visit usa

Jan 27, 2024 • 15 min read

unique places to visit usa

Jan 26, 2024 • 6 min read

unique places to visit usa

Jan 25, 2024 • 10 min read

unique places to visit usa

Jan 22, 2024 • 12 min read

Young adult woman in black swimsuit walking into sea between rocks cliff in Croatia

Jan 17, 2024 • 8 min read

unique places to visit usa

Jan 17, 2024 • 5 min read

unique places to visit usa

Jan 11, 2024 • 4 min read


Jan 5, 2024 • 20 min read


Jan 3, 2024 • 4 min read

  • Search Please fill out this field.
  • Manage Your Subscription
  • Give a Gift Subscription
  • Sweepstakes

The 50 Most Beautiful Places in the U.S.

From magical deserts to gorgeous beaches, these are the most beautiful places in each state.

Anne Olivia Bauso is a travel writer and hotel expert based in New York City. She has written hundreds of hotel reviews, from 5-star Ritz-Carlton properties to treehouse eco-resorts in the jungle.

unique places to visit usa

Mother Nature wasn't modest with America, where her handiwork ranges from magical desert mesas to wooded river valleys to whisper-thin barrier islands. You might even say she was particularly heavy-handed when doling out American scenery.

The natural beauty found across the 50 states is so vast and staggering, it's practically impossible to make sense of — though you can't say we didn't try. Here, our totally subjective, state-by-state list of the most beautiful places in the U.S.

Alabama: Magnolia Springs

Mail is delivered by boat — the last year-round river mail delivery in the country — in this small coastal village along the Magnolia River. Dating to the late 1700s, the town is named for its natural assets: gushing springs and a shady canopy of magnolia trees.

Alaska: Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve

Few states seize the popular imagination like Alaska . And at 13 million acres, Wrangell-St. Elias (the largest national park in the U.S. ) encompasses the overwhelming beauty of the far north. Hiking here leads you through a boreal forest, along glittering glaciers (the Root Glacier trail goes right on the icy mass; crampons recommended), and up to ridges for wild mountain views — this park contains some of the highest peaks in the country.

Arizona: Grand Canyon National Park

Don Eim/Travel + Leisure

What can we say? The most beautiful place in Arizona is the Grand Canyon . Though outrageous natural beauty is found in every corner of the state, from enchanting Emerald Cove to sacred Canyon de Chelly, nothing quite compares to the majesty of Arizona's flagship feature.

Within this natural wonder of the world, Havasu Falls (or Supai Falls) contrasts the red rock with its seemingly impossibly turquoise water, while the circular arc of the Colorado River at Horseshoe Bend is not to be missed.

Arkansas: Ozark National Forest

Dominating northwestern Arkansas , Ozark National Forest is an all-season haven rich in things to do. Its ferny oak-hickory woods are dotted with caverns (the tour-friendly Blanchard Springs Caverns has an underground river), grottoes, swimming beaches, campsites, and horseback and ATV trails. Whitaker Point and Sam's Throne are favorites with hikers and rock climbers.

California: Yosemite National Park

Vince Fergus/Travel + Leisure

The nation's third-oldest park has major status with the National Park System, UNESCO, and traveler wish lists around the world. The alpine wonderland draws millions of annual visitors to see its high-country Sierra Nevada beauty, marked by granite domes, towering sequoias, and sheer-drop waterfalls.

Hike or drive up to Glacier Point to behold Yosemite Valley from 7,000 feet; the million-dollar panorama includes Yosemite Falls and famous Half Dome, staggeringly close and shooting 4,800 feet at a beyond-vertical pitch above the valley floor.

Colorado: Garden of the Gods

Anyone with even a passing interest in geology (or photography, or just knockout natural splendor in general) might find themselves at a loss for words at the sight of Garden of the Gods. Two tips: Aim to visit the lofty sandstone formations on a weekday morning to avoid the crowds, and take the Siamese Twins loop for a view of the snowy Pikes Peak (inspiration for "America the Beautiful") set in a frame of red rocks.

Connecticut: Connecticut Shore

If you close your eyes and try to imagine the ideal seaside town in New England , your vision is probably not too far off from Old Lyme, Mystic, Old Saybrook, and other coastal Connecticut villages. Strung along the Long Island Sound, the small towns combine quiet coastal beauty and gobs of old-timey charm (think white-painted inns and cozy taverns).

Delaware: Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge

You don't have to be an avid birder to treasure this nature preserve. It's one of the largest surviving tidal salt marshes in this part of the U.S., the boggy domain of bald eagles, snowy egrets, great blue herons, and other birds and animals.

Florida: Everglades National Park

Stephanie Pollak/Travel + Leisure

A UNESCO World Heritage site and International Biosphere Reserve, this watery 1.5 million-acre wilderness is home to extraordinary flora and fauna, including American crocodiles, manatees, otters, and wading birds. To see it, join an airboat tour, paddle the mangroves in a canoe or kayak, bike the popular Shark Valley Tram Road, or set out on the flat Anhinga Trail through a seagrass marsh.

Georgia: Cumberland Island

It's hard to imagine a place better suited to peace seekers, bird-watchers, and even history fans than car-free Cumberland Island. Development on the Georgia barrier island is limited to the stately Greyfield Inn , and the rest of the nearly 10,000 acres is congressionally protected nature. When you're not strolling the driftwood-strewn beaches, you can kayak the quiet waterways and stop by the Gilded Age-era Dungeness ruins.

Hawaii: Nāpali Coast

The Earth's wrinkles are on spectacular display along Kauai 's Nāpali Coast, where sheer, fluted sea cliffs (pali) plummet into the Pacific. The only land access is the strenuous 11-mile Kalalau Trail, which follows the jagged, jade-colored coast's gulches and valleys. The first two miles are a popular day hike; beyond that, a permit is required. This is considered one of the world's most dangerous treks, though helicopter tours are another way to see the exquisite terrain.

Idaho: Sawtooth National Forest

Four mountain ranges and four major rivers collide in Sawtooth National Forest , a 2.1 million-acre great-outdoors paradise whose landscape has remained virtually unchanged since Lewis and Clark explored it in 1805. The forest is home to dozens of 10,000-plus-foot peaks, hundreds of sparkling alpine lakes, and more than 3,000 miles of gushing streams, as well as grassy meadows, sagebrush flats, and pine and aspen woods. Manners of exploration are as vast as the land itself and include backpacking, rafting, skiing, and mountain climbing.

Illinois: Cache River State Natural Area

You might think you're deep in a Louisiana bayou in this bald cypress and tupelo swamp, the northernmost of its kind in the U.S. Explore the nearly 12,000 acres of wetlands by kayak, canoe, or foot via the park's trails and boardwalks. Some of the cypresses you'll see are more than 1,000 years old, with massive flared bases that exceed 40 feet around.

Indiana: Hemlock Cliffs

For the uninitiated, Indiana is full of surprises. It has the covered bridges and country lanes of Vermont, the sand dunes and lakeshore of Michigan, and fall foliage that could be taken for the Smokies. This box canyon within Hoosier National Forest is a terrific ravine- and waterfall-filled place that you probably wouldn't associate with the heartland.

Iowa: Maquoketa Caves State Park

Avid explorers will be in their element at Maquoketa Caves State Park, where bluffs, miles of trails, and more than a dozen limestone caves await investigation. Some of the caves, such as the 800-foot Dancehall, can be walked through upright, while others require serious spelunking. Either way, bring a headlamp.

Kansas: Castle Rock Badlands

This quirky site is off the beaten path — literally. Located on private ranch land accessed by 4WD-demanding dirt roads, Castle Rock is a relic of an inland sea that once covered this part of the continent. The fragile, fossil-rich limestone pinnacles provide a near-shocking change of scenery from their Kansas prairie home.

Kentucky: Mammoth Cave

The longest known cave system on the planet is found below the wild hills of south-central Kentucky. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a vast (as in still-being-mapped vast) limestone network of cool caverns, cathedral-like rotundas, and claustrophobic crawl spaces. Lest you think a Mammoth Cave adventure is all below ground, the lushly forested park above it offers hiking and horseback riding, plus canoeing and kayaking on its two rivers.

Louisiana: Wild Azalea Trail

Bar-crawling in Louisiana may come to mind before forest hiking. At 31 miles, the Wild Azalea Trail is the longest in the state — expect peaceful scenery of pine trees, clear creeks, gentle hills, and maybe even wild horses. Time your trek to March or April to see the namesake pale pink flowers blanketing the countryside.

Maine: Acadia National Park

With its rocky shores, crashing surf, and coastal mountain hiking trails, Acadia National Park has a special place on Maine 's most beautiful places list. Get there via Coastal Highway U.S. 1 and you'll incorporate one of our other contenders. Speaking of cars, drive to the Cadillac Mountain summit before dawn for the first glimpse of sunrise in the U.S. (most of the year, that is).

Maryland: Weverton Cliffs

Part of the famed Appalachian Trail, Weverton Cliffs is a switchback two-mile hike in South Mountain State Park. The reward for your effort? Views from 500 feet above the Potomac that include neighboring Virginia and West Virginia.

Massachusetts: Cape Cod National Seashore

This delicate chain of federally protected land is rich in natural appeal, including marshes, woodlands, wild cranberry bogs, windswept dunes, walking paths, and miles of sandy beaches. This is one of the last remaining blocks of Atlantic coastal pine barrens, a now-rare forest ecosystem teeming with animals and birdlife.

Michigan: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Out-of-staters might not equate Michigan with sandy beaches and striking sand dunes, but both are found along the state's largely coastal boundaries — most notably, on the 35 miles of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore . This carved-by-glaciers shoreline is home to a beech-maple forest, scenic hiking and driving, and the immense namesake dunes rising high above Lake Michigan.

Minnesota: North Shore Scenic Drive

The North Shore is a road-tripper's daydream . Many Minnesotans and Midwesterners drive this Lake Superior-adjacent route time and time again, hitting the four-tiered Gooseberry Falls, the precariously perched Split Rock Lighthouse, and the tallest waterfall in the state, High Falls (shared by the U.S. and Canada). And don't miss World's Best Donuts, a very important stop for cinnamon-sugar donuts and deep-fried "skizzles."

Mississippi: Natchez Trace Parkway

Beauty and blacktop meet on the Natchez Trace, a 444-mile drive that crosses Mississippi like a pageant sash, following a Native American foot trail that goes back millennia. Instead of billboards and interstate exit signs, you'll cruise past cypress swamps and meadows edged by black-eyed Susans and log fences, with lots of pull-over opportunities for picnics and nature walks.

Missouri: Ozark National Scenic Riverways

The spring-fed Current and Jacks Fork rivers anchor this national park. Swim, canoe, and fish in its crystal-clear waters and explore the area's caves (more than 300 have been discovered so far, some only accessible by boat), trails, natural springs, and historic mills.

Montana: Going-to-the-Sun Road

Take the ride of your life on the white-knuckle Going-to-the-Sun Road, a 52-mile route that climbs above the clouds in Glacier National Park . Looking out the window takes a bit of bravery, but your prize is jaw-dropping views of alpine valleys, flowing rivers, and fields of wildflowers far below the surrounding peaks and ridgelines. The road crosses the Continental Divide at Logan Pass (elevation: 6,646 feet), where you can get out and hike Hidden Lake and Highline trails.

Nebraska: Toadstool Geologic Park and Oglala National Grassland

Nebraska's native prairie land is thrown into splendid relief at Toadstool, a tract of unusual wind- and water-carved rock formations and vast fossil beds. Some rock layers contain tracks of animals long vanished from this part of the world, like rhinos and camels.

Nevada: Red Rock Canyon

Just 30 minutes from the LED skyline of Las Vegas is Red Rock Canyon , named for its giant cliffs and craggy jumbles of yellow and red sandstone. The hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, and scenic driving on offer here are a pretty amazing contrast to the gaming, buffet visits, and pool parties that define a typical Sin City getaway.

New Hampshire: Kancamagus Highway

Kancamagus Scenic Byway ("the Kanc") may just be New England's prettiest drive . Connecting the small towns of Lincoln and Conway, it meanders by the rocky gorges, waterfalls, swimming holes, campgrounds, and trailheads of White Mountain National Forest. Fall is a lovely time to make the journey, when foliage colors and moose sightings are at their peak. Just be sure to pack snacks and fuel up — there are no gas stations or businesses for some 30 miles.

New Jersey: Cape May

Cape May's main claim to fame may be its late Victorian-era houses and hotels — some 600 structures in all — but this seaside resort town has non-architectural virtues as well. There are wineries, gardens, biodiverse wetlands, and, of course, end-of-a-peninsula beaches. Head to west-facing Sunset Beach at twilight for an amazing natural show over Delaware Bay.

New Mexico: Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness

Millions of years of erosion have created this sci-fi, fantasy-like display of pinnacles, spires, and other weirdly wonderful bodies of weathered rock. This high-desert wilderness (read: no marked trails) is essentially the geologic record of a prehistoric coastal swamp where dinosaurs once roamed.

New York: Finger Lakes

Glacial force shaped this beautiful upstate landscape , leaving behind 11 long, skinny, finger-like lakes in its wake. The region is heaven in the summer, when visitors can choose between waterfall hiking (Watkins Glen and She-Qua-Ga Falls are popular stops), endless lake activities, and more wineries , vineyards, and breweries than you can shake a stick at.

North Carolina: Outer Banks

This remote stretch of North Carolina coastline has drawn pirates, colonists, and early aviators. Now, it's the realm of beach lovers looking for peace, quiet, white sand, and salt air. Add in the barrier islands' wild dunes (including the East Coast's largest) and multiuse paths — it's actually possible to bike the entire 100-plus-mile length of the Outer Banks — and you've got an amazing region for quaint coastal exploration.

North Dakota: Maah Daah Hey Trail

Hike, bike, or hop on a horse and ride through the remote scenery for which North Dakota is known. This 144-mile system is made up of nine trails with various lengths, difficulty ratings, and backdrops, from grassy prairies to dizzying badlands buttes. It's a timeless American landscape, and the trail is aptly named for the Mandan phrase: "An area that will be around for a long time."

Ohio: Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

You can pretend you're in Victorian London in the Crystal Palace-evoking glass greenhouse that is the cornerstone of this botanical landmark. And its biomes and gardens might transport you to the desert, rain forest, and even the Himalayas.

Oklahoma: Tallgrass Prairie Preserve

Native grasslands, the ecosystem perhaps most powerfully entwined with our national identity, are on the decline. This protected preserve is the largest sweep of tallgrass prairie in the country, and the world. Here, you can see the American plains as they looked centuries ago, with herds of bison (about 2,500 of the shaggy-haired beasts roam freely) and swaths of purple prairie clover.

Oregon: Crater Lake

Crater Lake is evidence of the tectonic activity that's eternally shaping the planet. A long-ago eruption formed a giant caldera, which filled with rain and snow over time. The gradual result is a deep lake (the deepest in the country, in fact) with intense blue waters and fantastic clarity. Crater Lake's mountain setting atop the Cascade Range makes it even more hypnotic.

Pennsylvania: Appalachian National Scenic Trail at the Delaware Water Gap

The famous Delaware Water Gap area spans 70,000 acres (Pennsylvania and New Jersey), yet its namesake point is where the river carves through the rugged Kittatinny Mountain. See the Gap from Appalachian National Scenic Trail (AT, to in-the-know hikers), which offers a clear view from Mount Minsi.

Rhode Island: Block Island

Fieldstone walls hemming in emerald-green fields, Victorian buildings, and dramatic cliffs lashed by the Atlantic — you could be forgiven for thinking you've been dropped on a distant British shore. Mosey around the island by bike or moped, visit the two begging-to-be-photographed lighthouses, and pop into a classic New England eatery — we like Block Island Oyster Bar and Grill for lobster bisque and daily-harvested local oysters.

South Carolina: Hilton Head Island Bike Trails

Wide, natural beaches may be a big draw, but Hilton Head locals and vacationers alike praise the island's bike trail system for easy, breezy cruising (and for bypassing road traffic, which can be intense). The 85-mile, well-maintained network is easy to navigate and takes you to some of Hilton Head Island's favorite spots, like Sea Pines Forest Preserve. A bike ride is especially lovely in the late afternoon, as the sun begins to set over the marshes.

South Dakota: Badlands National Park

Steep buttes, crystal-lined caves, granite spires, prairies, and ponderosa pine forests — speculating the most beautiful South Dakota place is hopeless, but the fossil-packed landscape of Badlands National Park must come close. Here, meadows meet whimsically eroded canyons and vibrant, layered hills. Drive Badlands Loop Road (Highway 240) and the perimeter route around the South Unit. Bonus points if you time your visit to the south-facing Pinnacles Overlook for sunset.

Tennessee: Cherokee National Forest

Lovers of the outdoors have their work cut out for them in Tennessee, especially its eastern edge. The 650,000-acre Cherokee National Forest has something for adventurers of every sort, whether you're looking to tackle the Appalachian Trail or other backcountry treks, whitewater raft down Pigeon River, pitch a tent next to Watauga Lake, or witness the dazzling rhododendron summer bloom in the Roan Highlands.

Texas: Guadalupe Mountains

These mountains in windswept West Texas are the exposed tips of the 400-mile Capitan Reef, one of the best-preserved ancient reef systems in the world. Explore more than 80 miles of hiking trails, ranging from easy nature walks through the Chihuahuan Desert to hardcore hikes to the "Top of Texas" (a.k.a. Guadalupe Peak, the state's highest point).

Utah: Arches National Park

We'll confess to paralysis by indecision here, such is the vast choice on offer (see: Grand Staircase-Escalante, Monument Valley, Bryce and Big Cottonwood canyons). Yet surreal Arches National Park gets the nod. Its natural sandstone arches, tall cliffs, and honeycomb rocks are like a 65-million-year chronicle of our planet. The scenery will leave you breathless — as will a stamina-requiring Fiery Furnace hike (ranger guidance or individual permit required).

Vermont: Mad River Valley

In the 1950s, the snowy ski resorts of Mad River Valley pulled the likes of the Kennedys and Hollywood VIPs. Its creviced mountains and charming small towns still make it a prime destination for all manner of outdoor and simple-pleasure pursuits, like hiking, maple- and cheese-tasting, shopping for crafts, and seeking local swimming holes, to name a few. Even just cruising Route 100 is a delight.

Virginia: Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway's "America's Favorite Drive" tagline isn't just a stroke of marketing genius. The 469-mile drive (shared by Virginia and North Carolina) takes you through some of the most stunning scenery in the southeastern U.S. One example? Natural Bridge, a 215-foot-tall "overpass" spanning 90 feet to connect solid limestone cliffs. Don't forget good hiking shoes and your phone charger because there are hundreds of trails and photo opps.

Washington: Hurricane Ridge

This mountainous area within Olympic National Park packs the best features of Washington state into one enchantingly alpine package: snowy peaks, glassy lakes, grazing black-tailed deer in steep meadows, and thick evergreen forests.

West Virginia: New River Gorge National Park and Preserve

A highlight of West Virginia is the seemingly endless reserve of spectacular river ravines and mountain views. New River Gorge gets a special mention for its iconic bridge. With a 3,030-foot steel span that's nearly 90 stories high, it will make your heart skip a beat.

Wisconsin: Apostle Islands

There's so much to explore on the 20-plus islands that make up this archipelago. Hike through the wilderness, hop in a kayak, scuba dive to shipwrecks and underwater sea caves (Lake Superior really does look and feel more like an ocean), and check all eight lighthouses off your list.

Wyoming: Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Even in a state that's wall-to-wall with magnificent scenery, this site is a high point. The deep river gorge is a rumbling mass of natural beauty, with roaming wildlife (bison, elk, and even a grizzly crossing may make traffic come to a standstill), plunging waterfalls, and canyon walls made colorful by iron compounds.

By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.

Unusual Places

Usa archive.

Madison, Wisconsin, USA state capitol building at dusk.

So, you're visiting somewhere new and want to experience the best that destination has to offer? We've got you covered. Whether you prefer wacky sights, adrenaline-pumping thrills or one-of-a-kind adventures, these nine experiences – all in America – are sure to leave a lasting impression.

From Washington to Florida, some of the United States’ most memorable travel destinations are also the country’s strangest. Americans hit the road just to see roadside attractions like the world’s largest ball of twine in Kansas, drive through a giant redwood tree in California, discover The Thing in Arizona and take in the ornate Corn Palace in South Dakota. In the spirit of the offbeat American road trip, we’ve rounded up some of the most unique travel experiences between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, from the trolls of Alliance, Ohio, to a country music-blasting, beer-drinking monster truck tour of Nashville , Tennessee. Read on to get inspired – and don’t forget, it’s all bookable right here on Tripadvisor.

Visit the world’s largest troll doll collection in Ohio

Colorful painted bus outside of The Troll Hole Art Gallery

The Troll Hole Museum

Every surface of the Troll Hole Museum is covered with big-haired, round-bellied creatures, which draw troll-doll lovers from all across the US to Alliance, Ohio—a wholesome Midwestern town that’s also home to the equally odd Feline Historical Museum . Official guides at the Troll Hole Museum walk visitors through the history and lore of trolls, introduce guests to a tiny “troll grotto,” and share the highlights from the museum’s collection of more than 20,000 troll dolls.

Practice for the zombie apocalypse in Las Vegas

People in gear participating in Apocalypse Vegas

Apocalypse Vegas

Are you ready for an undead invasion? There’s only one way to find out. Led by a team of actual special-ops veterans, this Zombie Apocalypse Experience delivers a full education in actually battling zombies. You’ll get a military-style briefing, gear up with zombie-fighting weapons and then dive into a street battle with the undead, from house-to-house fighting to calling in airstrikes. For a city with so many great things to do, this is certainly one of the more memorable activities in Vegas.

Get Nashville-crazy in a monster truck

Jack'd Up Nashville monster truck

Jack'd Up Nashville

This supersized Nashville experience is straight from a country song: You fill a cooler with beer, climb into the back of a monster truck and hit the streets of Nashville for a day of exploring. Want to amp up the cool factor? Request a stop at the The Parthenon , Nashville’s full-scale concrete recreation of Europe’s ancient landmark, complete with a 42-foot-high (13-meter-high) statue of the goddess Athena. You’ll be taking in one of America’s most unique attractions all while making a monster(truck) statement to onlookers.

Learn to fly in Las Vegas

Two people on trapeze

Trapeze Las Vegas

If you’ve ever dreamt of running away with the circus, then test your skills at Trapeze Las Vegas , another thrilling thing to do in Sin City. You’ll learn the high-flying feats of real trapeze artists, and channel your inner daredevil as you try our own launch. Afterwards, you could head to a national park outside of town for even more adventure—or hightail it to the always-weird Area 51 Alien Travel Center .

Get a close-up in North America’s witchiest city

Rack of dress up clothes at Witch Pix

Salem’s got a split personality when it comes to witches. After you’re done touring the memorials to those tragic 17th-century witch trials, hit the Massachusetts town’s magic shops , wiggle your nose at the Bewitched Statue and don a pointy hat for a witch and wizard-themed photo session , complete with crystal balls, creepy backdrops, and miles of crushed velvet drapery.

Play with heavy machinery in Vegas

Heavy construction machinery outside

If your inner child dreams of days in a hardhat and reflective vest, head to Las Vegas, Nevada, for the ultimate adult sandbox experience at Dig This . Visitors to the giant construction site get to choose their own bulldozer or excavator, suit up in construction gear and go wild. Dig giant holes and make big mounds – and test your skills with games like “bulldozer teeter-totter” and “excavator basketball.” Afterwards, head to the gift shop for dirt-scented candles (if you’re into that type of thing.)

Discover Salt Lake City’s seedy past

Kid looking at outdoor rock sculpture

Gilgal Gardens

With crisp mountain air, healthy living and Salt Lake Temple presiding over the city center, Utah’s capital appears pretty innocent… maybe too innocent. Enter: A sunset bike tour of the city’s former red light districts and brothels . Your guide will regale you with tales of high times and debauchery while pointing out some of Salt Lake City’s top historic sites and most interesting tourist attractions, including the oddball sculptures at Gilgal Gardens .

Cruise the Vegas Strip with a celebrity impersonator

The Strip lit up at night

Las Vegas might be Sin City to some, but the neon-hued desert party town has an offbeat side that’s just plain goofy. If you’re looking for that kind of night, hop aboard a private party bus with a personal photographer and a tour guide dressed as a Hollywood legend such as Michael Jackson or Prince.

Enjoy a dog-powered scooter ride in Colorado

Kid on wheeled device being pulled by dogs

Pagosa Dogsled Adventures

Sure, the traditional Norweigan sport of dog joring may be more likely to be found in Canada or Finland – but you can also give it a try in Pagosa Springs , Colorado. While joring typically involves a dog towing a person on a bike, skis or a skateboard, you can head out on an exciting dog-powered scooter ride with Pagosa Dogsled Adventures . For dog lovers, this is one of the more exciting and unique travel experiences out there!

For more cool attractions and unique things to do across the United States, head to Tripadvisor !

More like this:

  • The quirky roadside stops that'll make your trip
  • 9 bucket-list winter activities in the U.S.—and where to do them
  • Gas stations, diners, and motels: our favorite American pit stops

50 Most Beautiful Places In The US To Visit In Your Lifetime

By: Author Jerric Chong

Posted on Published: June 16, 2019  - Last updated: October 15, 2023

unique places to visit usa

Looking for your next adventure or travel destination in the United States?

With so many states, countless different kinds of activities, and endless landmarks scattered throughout the land, it can be hard to pick between them.

But if what you’re looking for are beautiful locations that ensnare the senses, we may be able to help.

Here are the 50 most beautiful places to visit in the US.

Table of Contents

1. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is a breathtaking paradise for those who love the outdoors.

Spanning almost 3,500 square miles, this park is a trove of steep canyons, incredible mountains, gorgeous waterfalls, and fascinating geysers.

It is also populated with teeming wildlife, such as elk, grizzly bears, and buffalo.

On top of that, it is home to the rainbow-sheened Grand Prismatic Spring, which is deeper than 10 stories and the third largest spring on the planet.

Plus, despite its pull of over 4 million tourists on an annual basis, it’s such a large place that you’ll rarely run into anyone else.

So not only is it easily one of the most beautiful places in the US, but it’s also a great spot for quiet enjoyment.

2. Maroon Bells, Colorado

Sunrise at Maroon Bells, Colorado

Maroon Bells

Aspen, Colorado is home to the stunning and gorgeous Maroon Bells, which earn their name from the majestic appearance cast by two peaks of the Rocky Mountains.

Beneath that grand sight, you’ll be able to enjoy the crystal clear Maroon Lake, which is surrounded by lush fields full of colorful, vibrant wildflowers.

The Maroon Bells are easily in the top few most photographed attractions in the United States, and it’s easy to see why.

Everywhere you turn, you’ll feel like you’re in a postcard. It’s no wonder that this is one of the most beautiful places in the US.

3. Watkins Glen State Park, New York

Watkins Glen State Park in New York

Watkins Glen State Park

The Watkins Glen State Park is located in upstate New York, within the Finger Lakes area, and it is named after the nearest town.

It may be relatively small compared to many more famous parks at 778 acres, but it is home to a gorge that holds a grand total of 19 gorgeous waterfalls.

In addition, this park contains the Rainbow Bridge and Falls, which appear absolutely fantastical, as though ripped right out of a riveting fantasy tale.

There are also plenty of places to set up camp if desired.

4. Monument Valley, Arizona/Utah

Monument Valley, desert canyon

Monument Valley

Monument Valley is a minimalist attraction located along the border of Utah and Arizona.

In spite of its simplicity, this red-sand desert may just be one of the most beautiful places you will ever see!

A 17-mile Valley Drive leads into the area, and you can spot multiple sandstone buttes that make for amazing pictures.

This valley will make you feel like you are part of an Old Western movie, set in the Wild, Wild West.

John Ford’s Point is a great way to look over the scenery, allowing you to feast your eyes on the Mittens buttes.

5. Crater Lake, Oregon

Crater Lake National Park in Oregon, USA

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake is an arresting body of magnificent blue water that rests peacefully within Mount Mazama.

Spanning 53 square kilometers and 2000 feet deep, this incredible caldera was left behind after an explosion more than 7 millennia ago.

It is the deepest of all similar lakes in all of the USA.

Today, the lake provides awe-inspiring reflections of its surroundings, including the pristine, white cliffs topped with snow that flank it.

You can go scuba diving in its enticing, crystal clear depths, or simply enjoy the view.

6. Niagara Falls, New York

Niagara Falls, New York

Niagara Falls

New York is home to many amazing attractions, but Niagara Falls is arguably one of those that everyone will tell you not to miss.

It’s right on the border between the USA and Canada, and it’s a must-see attraction, for sure.

These falls earn over 30 million visitors on an annual basis, and it’s no surprise!

When you see all that water – six million cubic feet of it in total! – plummeting downwards at each minute of every day, you’ll be in awe, too.

7. Death Valley National Park, California

Death Valley National Park California

Death Valley National Park

You wouldn’t think that a basin called “ Death Valley ” would be one of the most beautiful places in the US.

After all, it is located below sea level, and it is easily the hottest and driest spot in all of America.

However, it is also home to Zabriskie Point, which is an incredible peak that provides an optimal viewing location to watch the sunset.

In addition, contrary to its name, Death Valley actually teems with life in many of its seasons.

Wildflowers sprout gorgeously after storms, snow frosts cliff tops in the winter, and small oases provide life.

It’s a surprisingly prepossessing place for one so morbidly named!

Planning a trip to California soon? Be sure to check out our list of things to do in California !

8. Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina/Virginia

Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a highway, which may surprise you, as most roads can’t be considered beautiful places.

But this highway spans 469 miles in length, over multiple countries throughout North Carolina and Virginia, and offers some of the most spectacular views in the country.

Driving down this highway will allow you to take in the stunning Appalachian mountains, including multiple valleys and peaks such as the Peaks of Otter and the famous Roanoke Mountain.

If you like, you can even get off the road and go down a hiking trail of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park or the Shenandoah National Park.

Planning a road trip around Virginia? Check out our list of things to do in Virginia !

9. Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia, USA at Forsyth Park Fountain

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah is an old city that is home to multiple fascinating sites.

Its streets are paved with cobblestones and flanked by old buildings like museums and churches that are simply stuffed with history.

Downtown, you’ll find one of the biggest National Historic Landmark districts in the US, which also connect to the riverfront and the coast.

If there are particular areas you would like to visit, look no further than Forsyth Park, built in the 1840s and fitted with a stupendous fountain, romantic benches, and plenty of iconic oaks covered in moss for an even more calming aesthetic.

Up for something more spooky? Take a trip to the Bonaventure Cemetery!

Planning a trip to Savannah soon? Be sure to check out our list detailing the best things to do in Savannah, GA !

10. Antelope Canyon, Arizona

Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon, known also as Corkscrew Canyon, is almost surreal in its beauty.

Located in Navajo territory very close by to Lake Powell, not too much hiking is required to reach this spot, which many consider the most beautiful and majestic canyon in America.

Sandstone walls and arches make up the canyon, glowing in vibrant hues of orange, red, and even pink under the streaming sunlight.

The wavy rock formations provide an otherworldly aesthetic that is sure to make you gasp in awe.

It’s no wonder that this is the state’s most photographed attraction; it’s one of the most beautiful places you’ll ever see!

11. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Grand Teton National Park

The Grand Teton National Park may just be home to the most beautiful mountain that the United States has to offer!

Located not far from Yellowstone in Wyoming , this park covers a whopping 310,000 acres of land and is named after the superb Teton mountain range, which is practically ancient, with areas reaching 9 million years of age.

Countless hiking trails allow you to explore this national park in all its glory.

Appreciate nature through unique wildlife, some of which is prehistoric, and gaze in awe and wonder over clear bodies of water, formed by glaciers over the years.

12. The Wave, Arizona/Utah

The Wave

Arizona is full of amazing sandstone rock formations, and one that easily ranks among beautiful places is the Wave.

Located in the Coyote Bluffs, found in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness bordering Utah, these rocks fall on Navajo territory and can be tricky to get to due to rough terrain.

If you do brave out the hard trails, you’ll be privy to the marvelous formations of sandstone forged way back in the Jurassic period.

It’s a rather exclusive trip, too – just 20 individuals are granted permission to travel to this scenic spot every day. If you’re lucky, you’ll be among them!

13. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Love history? Philadelphia is the place for you!

It may not be the typical idea of the most beautiful places, but it is the only city in all of America to be named a UNESCO World Heritage city.

Its rich cultural and colonial background overflows with intrigue.

Once the US capital, this city hosts famous must-see spots such as Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, the National Constitution Center, and more.

Of course, Philadelphia is also renowned for its delicious Philly cheese steaks, and there’s even more scrumptious food to be found in its markets.

This is also one of the best vacation destinations for those on a budget!

14. Turnip Rock, Michigan

Turnip Rock

Turnip Rock

Turnip Rock isn’t exactly the most famous of attractions in the United States, but that’s due to lack of knowledge, not lack of magnificence.

It’s a very small island that you can spot from Lake Huron’s shorelines in Port Austin, Michigan.

This island is appropriately named due to its slim lower portion that extends out of the water, gradually becoming thicker and wider as it rises into the sky – resembling the shape of a turnip!

It’s certainly an unusual geological sight, and well worth the visit via kayak.

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

15. Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park located in South Dakota may sound foreboding, but in reality, it’s one of the most beautiful places in the US.

It is famous for holding an extremely rich and diverse fossil bed that is definitely one of the best that earth has to offer.

On top of that, Badlands National Park is packed with incredible rock formations that look stunning at all times of the day with their differently shaded stripes.

There are also grasslands if you’re more for wildlife, where you can spot all the prairie dogs herding sheep for a calm, serene experience.

16. Multnomah Falls, Oregon

Multnomah Falls, Oregon

Multnomah Falls

Many people would consider Multnomah Falls as one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the nation.

It is part of the Columbia River Gorge in Portland and is just one of 50 alluring falls in the collection – but it stands out for good reason.

Reaching 611 feet in height, which makes it the tallest waterfall in the state, Multnomah Falls is double tiered and cascades beautifully down in front between two hiking trails.

You can watch it from the convenient viewing platform or go on a hike above it across a connecting bridge.

17. Willow City Bluebonnets, Texas

Willow City Bluebonnets, Texas

Willow City Bluebonnets

If you love wildflowers, head down to Texas Hill Country to feast your eyes upon the delightful expanses of bright Bluebonnets along Willow City Loop in Gillespie County.

They bloom in full force every April, and you can walk along a designated Bluebonnet trail to truly get the most out of this special floral occurrence.

Even the drive to the location can be incredibly scenic when you go at the right time.

It’s a lovely, laid-back type of trip that you can take if you’re looking for some relaxation.

Visting other parts of Texas? Be sure to check out our lists of things to do in Austin , things to do in Galveston & things to do in Houston !

18. Kauai, Hawaii

Kauai island on Hawaii

Kauai island

Kauai looks like a place right out of a fantasy book. It is an island paradise that is the oldest of all habited Hawaiian islands.

It home to such beautiful wonders as the 6,175-acre Nā Pali Coast State Park, which is packed with hiking trails, emerald green mountains, and stunning views, and the 173-foot high Wailua Falls.

Along the Nā Pali coast, you will also find the cascading, remote Honopu Beach, Hawaii, which is easily the most attractive of all beaches in the US.

There’s little to dislike about a Hawaii island vacation!

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

19. Glacier National Park, Montana

Reynolds Mountain at Logan Pass, Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

The Glacier National Park located in Montana provides some of the most incredible views that you’ll be privy to in America.

It sits neatly on the border between Canada and the US, and it is exceedingly large in size, spanning more than 1 million acres in total.

This national park has no shortage of amazing things to see.

It is home to portions of mountain ranges as well as over a hundred named lakes, and it also serves as a habitat for hundreds of animal species and thousands of plant species.

As a cherry on top, this park is also much less crowded than many other famed ones!

20. White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

White Sands National Monument

This incredibly unique location can be found in the north of the Chihuahuan Desert.

The White Sands National Monument consists of a reaching, widespread expanse of white gypsum crystal sand dunes, backdropped by a picturesque blue sky.

Though the sight of white sand as far as the eye can see isn’t the most exciting trip for some, this tranquil environment is so individual and one-of-a-kind that it is easily one of the most beautiful places in the US.

Bask in the calm peace, feel the soft, warm sand beneath your toes, and marvel at the vastness of this monument.

Doing a road trip around New Mexico? You’ll love our lists detailing the best things to do in Santa Fe  & the best places to visit in New Mexico !

21. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

There are plenty of reasons to visit the gorgeous Great Smoky Mountains National Park , which sits on the Tennessee and North Carolina border.

It is packed with hiking routes ripe with emerald greenery, waterfalls and bodies of water, and pretty wildflowers ready for photos.

Plus, there are many great stops along the way, such as Clingmans Dome, which contains an observation tower resting on top of the area’s highest peak for breathtaking views.

There’s also Cades Cove, which is a quiet little valley that feels like a calm, quiet place lost in historical times.

Planning a trip to Tennessee soon? Check out our list of things to do in Tennessee !

22. Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is a freshwater lake that may just be the most famous of its kind in the country.

It is an alpine body of water located in the mountain range of Sierra Nevada. It is so transparently clear that you can see right down to its 70-foot depths!

There’s an air of regality about the lake – likely due to its age.

It is first believed to have formed during the ice ages, and most of its modern appearance has been around for two million years.

23. The Golden Gate Bridge, California

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge

It may be man-made, but there’s a reason that the Golden Gate Bridge is such an iconic landmark.

Towering over the world at almost 750 feet tall and connecting land across the Golden Gate strait with a 4,200 feet length, it is one of the Wonders of the Modern world and is constantly touched up by a staff of 38 painters who maintain its impressive color.

It’s safe to say that this bridge is imposing, but its behemoth size is just one of its attractions.

It is an absolute marvel of engineering and is truly an awe to behold.

Guided bike tours and cruises allow for up-close-and-personal glimpses of this monumental structure, and of course, you can simply drive across it!

Visiting San Francisco soon? You’ll love our list of things to do in San Francisco !

24. The Palouse, Idaho/Oregon/Washington

The Palouse

The Palouse

The Palouse is so large that it covers three states, and it was all formed naturally.

Appearing as rolling hills made from loess, which is a kind of sediment that forms from dust and silt that is blown by the wind over thousands and thousands of years.

In spring, barley and wheat are grown throughout this prairie, creating a whimsical and fantastical appearance of bright green.

It’s a great vacation spot for those seeking a little peace of mind and relaxation.

25. Mendenhall Glacier Caves, Alaska

Mendenhall Glacier Caves, Alaska

Mendenhall Glacier Caves

The Mendenhall Glacier Caves take a while to get to, but they are incredibly rewarding and very much worth the trip through 12 miles of caverns.

The overhead ceilings are tinted a glowing, luminescent blue thanks to the ice and the reflection from the water beneath. It’s something that has to be seen to be believed.

Unfortunately, due to climate change, these caves and the surrounding ice of its preceding caverns are beginning to melt.

As such, it’s the kind of trip that you’ll want to make sooner rather than later, before one of the most beautiful places in the US is lost to the world.

26. Haleakala National Park, Hawaii

Haleakala National Park, Hawaii

Haleakala National Park

There’s no shortage of beautiful places in Hawaii, and the Haleakala National Park is one of them.

It is situated on Maui , an island within the state, and its name literally translates to “House of the Sun”.

The park can easily be divided into two different types of trips. The first, and more renowned, is the Haleakala Volcano’s summit.

This dormant volcano is intimidating in its size, and an arduous upwards climb will lead you to its peak, where you can enjoy a staggering view, or rest in the observatory or visitor’s center.

The second portion of the park is the Kipahulu coast, which makes for a perfect beach getaway.

Going to Hawaii for a vacation? Don’t miss our awesome list of things to do in Hawaii !

27. Big Sur, California

Big Sur, California

If you’re a sucker for golden stretches of sand, basking sunsets and sunrises tinged orange and vermillion, and deep azure waters perfect for swimming, the Big Sur is a great place to go.

This coastal area is full of charming spots to explore and enjoy, ranging from the graceful architectural magnitude of the Bixby Bridge to the enchanting, picturesque McWay Falls.

There’s also the stunning, quaint Pfeiffer Beach, which is lesser known but no less delightful with soft sand and attractive rock formations to see.

28. Carlsbad Cavern, New Mexico

Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

In the Chihuahuan Desert lie more than 100 limestone caves, and one of them is none other than the Carlsbad Cavern .

Spikes hang from the ceiling in droves and clusters, and its winding rocky walls are perfect for spelunkers and adventurers.

The way you choose to go is up to you. You can go in through the beautiful, conventional entrance, or you can begin 750 feet underground.

Either way, you’re in for some enticing exploration!

Traveling to Albuquerque, NM soon? Check out our awesome list of things to do in Albuquerque !

29. Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is arguably one of the most beautiful places in California .

It spans 748,436 acres and contains plenty of disarming visions, ranging from green groves of imposing sequoias, rushing streams flowing from cascading waterfalls, cliffs shining with granite, and countless mountains stretching on the horizon.

There’s much to see in the area, including the glacial Yosemite Valley which is surrounded by viridescent pines.

It sinks up to 3,500 feet deep and measures 7.5 miles long. You can also spot Yosemite Falls nearby.

30. Thor’s Well, Oregon

Oregon's Thor's Well

Oregon’s Thor’s Well

Thor’s Well is located in Yachats, a small, remote town, and is situated very close to the popular Cape Perpetua.

Why is it one of the most beautiful places in the US?

Well, it has a hint of mystery to it due to its optical illusion.

Essentially, if you look straight into it, it appears to be bottomless, though it is actually quite shallow at just 20 feet in depth.

At high tide, Thor’s Well becomes more dangerous, but also all the more breathtaking.

You can easily and safely catch a glimpse of it in action through a viewing platform, but we recommend you wear water-resistant clothing!

While you’re there, you can also enjoy the coastal elegance of Cape Perpetua itself.

Planning a road trip to Oregon soon? Be sure to check out our list of things to do in Oregon !

31. Angel Oak, South Carolina

Angle Oak Tree in Johns Island, South Carolina

Angle Oak Tree

This is one of those beautiful places that is designated a must-visit location because of one single, incredible centerpiece: the Angel Oak .

It is a magnificent, grand oak tree aged between 400 and 500 years, and its thick, twisted branches and opulent leaves extend outwards to cover over 17,200 square feet!

The Angel Oak is located in Johns Island near Charleston in South Carolina – which is, notably, also a fantastic tourist destination.

It’s relaxing, full of beaches, packed with historical sites, and has an enjoyable mild climate.

So after a great picnic beneath the oak, you’ll have lots more to do!

Planning a trip to Charleston soon? Be sure to check out our list of things to do in Charleston, SC !

32. Arches National Park, Utah

Arches National Park in Utah

Arches National Park

The Arches National Park looks like a scene out of a movie.

Erosion from millions and millions of years has led to the creation of more than 2,000 arches, each fashioned naturally from sandstone.

It is worth noting that environmental change has caused 43 of these arches to fall to time, which means officials warn against getting too close.

Still, the sight of these bright, orange structures is well worth the extra caution, and you’ll want to plan your trip soon to catch as many of them as possible in full glory.

33. Monument Rocks, Kansas

Monument Rocks, Kansas

Monument Rocks / Seraph1888 [ CC BY-SA 4.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

These pale, craggy formations rise 70 feet into the air, and it is believed that they were formed in ancient times – nearly 80 million years in the past.

The Monument Rocks were the very first National Natural Landmark in all of the United States.

As such, if you’re a fan of visiting the most beautiful places, these rocks have to top your list.

34. Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park covers 49,075 acres of land and is often overlooked, but it’s a must-see location with plenty of gorgeous features.

Teeming with rare wildlife of all kinds, the park has its share of coastline shores and contains a wealth of historical significance thanks to Native American inhabitance.

While you’re here, you can make the arduous hike up to the summit of Cadillac Mountain and receive the reward of a picturesque scene that mixes the stunning seaboard with rugged, rocky terrain.

You can also take a trip to the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse for a truly exquisite view.

Planning a visit to Maine soon? Check out our awesome list of things to do in Maine  and things to do in Portland, Maine !

35. New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans

New Orleans is yet another gorgeous historical city that is full of heritage and culture.

Bask in delicious soul foods, sweet pastries, and suave, smooth blues and jazz.

Better yet, snoop around trinket stores and be fascinated with the charming but dark superstitious paraphernalia, and indulge.

You can also take a trip down Bourbon Street – and the rest of New Orleans’ incredible French Quarter.

It’s one of the kinds of beautiful places that will charm and entice you with its ancient architecture, rich teeming courtyards, and fascinating background.

Planning a trip to New Orleans? Be sure to check out our list of things to do in New Orleans !

36. Big Bend National Park, Texas

Big Bend National Park, Texas

Big Bend National Park

The Big Bend National Park in Rio Grande is an absolute wonder of untamed wildlife, spanning over much of the Chihuahuan Desert and all of the Chisos mountains.

Partially drawing near to the border of Mexico, this national park has so many different experiences to offer.

You can go on a road trip down the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, relax in the Langford Hot Springs, view the Sam Nail Ranch’s broken-down husk, and enjoy sights of limestone formations across the Rio Grande.

There’s so much to do that you may just need to come back again!

Looking for things to do in Texas ? Don’t miss out on our lists of things to do in San Antonio  & things to do in Dallas !

37. Old Man’s Cave, Ohio

Old Man's Cave, Ohio

Old Man’s Cave

Any location with such a mysterious name is sure to be one of those beautiful places you can’t ignore.

Old Man’s Cave provides some of the most panoramic hiking trails that you may ever see.

There are 5 main areas to choose from in the Hocking Hills State Park, which is where Old Man’s Cave lies in wait.

All of them offer countless waterfalls, gorges, and more glimpses into the beauty of nature.

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

38. Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida

Fort Jefferson Dry Tortugas

Dry Tortugas National Park

The Dry Tortugas National Park awaits in the Gulf of Mexico, less than 70 miles west to Florida’s famous Key West .

The park contains seven islands, with the main one holding the 19th century-built Fort Jefferson.

Throughout all the islands, you can scuba dive and snorkel (or just swim) around the deep blue waters.

As you go, you’ll be treated to many types of sea life and nearly growing coral reefs.

Do note that you can only get to this park via seaplane or boat!

Going to Florida soon? See the best places to visit in Florida !

39. Outer Banks, North Carolina

Outer Banks, North Carolina

Outer Banks

The Outer Banks are composed of a collection of barrier islands that string outwards from Virginia and North Carolina .

This area spans over 200 miles and has plenty of unique points, and it’s the perfect seaside getaway.

This picturesque landmark is also the site of the enchanting Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, which is made from brick and is the tallest of its kind across the USA.

Its white and black spiral aesthetic is sure to capture hearts. You can also view the sunset from the well-known, lovely Jockey’s Ridge.

40. Skagit Valley Tulip Fields, Washington

Skagit Valley Tulip Fields, Washington

Skagit Valley Tulip Fields

These farmlands are must-sees in the spring – namely in April, which is the absolute best time to take a trip to this Pacific Northwest locale.

That’s when all the bright, vibrant tulips are in full bloom, and when you can enjoy the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.

If you visit at the right time, you’ll get to see not just tulips in all sorts of pretty, warm colors, but also countless other flowers that add to the gorgeousness of the fields.

During the festival, you can taste wine, enjoy strolling through gardens, sample barbecues, and feast your eyes on art exhibits.

41. Oneonta Gorge, Oregon

Oneonta Gorge, Oregon

Oneonta Gorge

If you like your nature experiences to boast only the best greenery and fauna that the world has to offer, then look no further than Oneonta Gorge.

The trail may be short at just 2.7 miles through and around this gorge, but that only makes it all the more enticing for first-time hikers – or those who just want a less tiring trip.

Lush woodland fauna combines strikingly with aquatic greens in Oneonta Gorge, making it look like you leaped into a storybook.

It’s the perfect shortstop that’s impossible to forget.

42. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Bryce Canyon National Park

The Bryce Canyon National Park ’s name is rather deceiving.

Instead of containing a canyon, what it does have are stone pinnacles that were formed naturally over time due to erosion from the stream and weathering during winter’s frost.

Multiple points throughout this park offer a stupendous view, but your best bet is Bryce Point in the southern region.

From here, you’ll get prime viewing of all the amazing stone formations, known as hoodoos, scattered about the area.

43. Ladew Topiary Gardens, Maryland

Ladew Topiary Gardens, Maryland

Ladew Topiary Gardens / Mark Peters / flickr

The Ladew Topiary Gardens are, believe it or not, completely non-profit.

They feature expertly carved and crafted hedges, topiary, trees, and well-kept expanses of green garden space.

They’re open for visitors between April and October.

These gardens date back to the 1930s, originally set up by the fox-hunting Harvey S. Ladew.

This is why lots of topiaries showcase animal figures, particularly those related to hunting such as foxes, dogs, horses, and even their riders.

Visiting Maryland soon? See the fun things to do in Maryland before you go!

44. Hamilton Pool, Texas

Hamilton Pool, Texas

Hamilton Pool / Trey Perry [ CC BY 3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

It first came into being when an underground river’s dome caved in, and now, it waits for swimmers and divers behind a bit of forest.

This pool has a refreshing waterfall that still pours over into it from the leftover overhang, and within the pool, you can spot greenery all the way down to its crystal clear depths.

You’ll feel like you’ve been born anew after just one revitalizing dip in Hamilton Pool!

45. Zion National Park, Utah

Zion National Park, Utah

Zion National Park

The Zion National Park spans 146,597 acres and is packed with amazing sights and experiences, ranging from canyons to waterfalls, from rivers to trails, and from cliffs to monoliths and more.

The view from Angels Landing allows prime viewing over the Zion Canyon, as well as additional alluring views.

The Virgin River provides a picturesque and exciting trail for those who enjoy a good hike. The campgrounds offer a truly immersive wilderness experience.

There’s simply so much to do in this park!

46. Colorado River, Arizona

Horseshoe Bend, Colorado River

Horseshoe Bend

The Colorado River flows into Mexico from its start in the Rocky Mountains, and it is home to one of the most picture-perfect structures in the world: Horseshoe Bend.

The rest of the river is dreamy enough, but Horseshoe Bend truly takes the cake.

Situated near to several other gorgeous must-see spots in Arizona , Horseshoe Bend is a memorable landmark in Colorado River.

Apart from that, you can enjoy getting back to your roots with a nature-filled exploration across the beautiful area.

47. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park

The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve boast incredible sand dunes that are actually the highest in all of the north continent – most notably, the Star Dune, which towers above all.

You can explore the Sangre de Cristo mountains by driving along the Medano Pass Primitive Road.

Take a trip at the right time to be able to lounge at the Medano Creek and its beach, or simply hike across the trails to see the Medano Lake alongside other wonders: like different forests teeming with unique sights and special wetlands that are unlike any other.

Visiting Colorado soon? Don’t miss out on our list of things to do in Colorado !

48. Antelope Valley, California

Antelope Valley, California

Antelope Valley

Antelope Valley calls the Mojave Desert Grassland its home.

While you don’t often think of deserts as particularly fertile land, visit in the spring to have that idea turned on its head!

Over a whopping 1,780 acres, a giant poppy reserve makes up the valley.

In the right season, these poppies bloom with all their might, revealing bright, dashing orange visuals that take over the entire area in a fiery burst of spirited florals.

There’s no end in sight for fields and fields of poppies that will have you waxing poetic as you languish in their midst.

49. Kenai Fjords, Alaska

Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park

The Kenai Fjords are largely taken up by an impressive forty shining glaciers that easily swarf their surroundings.

They make for what might just be the most dazzling fjord in all of the United States – and it’s fitting that they would be in Alaska !

Apart from the glaciers, there’s lots of unique, regional wildlife that you can see.

Look to the skies to spot bald eagles and peregrine falcons, and out to the seas to spot seals and even humpback whales.

Plan your trip soon, though, as global warming is reducing many of the glaciers that make the Kenai Fjords so magnificent.

50. New York City, New York

Central Park in New York City

New York City

Sure, New York City is a little unconventional when you think of the most beautiful places in the US, but there’s a reason it’s on our list!

It’s a shopper’s paradise, and it’s home to the lush Central Park.

It spans 843 acres and is packed with gorgeous gardens and lawns, plus plenty of regularly updated paths and lochs!

Head down to New York City in the winter to see the incredible sights – blinding Christmas lights as far as the eye can see, a gargantuan Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center, and the stunning and heartwarming show, The Nutcracker, performed by the New York City Ballet.

Enjoy entertainment, sights, sounds, tastes, and shopping in this bustling metropolis.

Start Planning Your Bucket List

As you can see, there are plenty of stunning places to visit in the USA.

From breathtaking valleys to sunkissed lakes and magnificent canyons, you cannot go wrong to choose some of these beautiful places in the USA to your bucket list.

Sunday 5th of November 2023

These recommendations are amazing for visiting amazing places in the USA! I especially appreciate the content. With Many thanks.


10 Of The Most Unique Places To Visit In New Mexico

  • New Mexico offers remarkable diversity in exploring places, from vast white dunes to ancient Pueblo dwellings, creating a captivating blend of nature, culture, history, and imagination.
  • Some of the most unique places to visit in New Mexico include White Sands National Park, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, and Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, each providing breathtaking landscapes and intriguing histories.
  • Ghost Ranch, Bisti Badlands, and Shiprock offer otherworldly landscapes that are perfect for outdoor exploration and experiencing the mystical and surreal beauty of New Mexico. Additionally, attractions like Taos Pueblo, Meow Wolf, and Tinkertown Museum provide opportunities to engage with Native history, art, and quirky roadside attractions.

New Mexico is full of incredible landscapes, rich cultural history, and unique attractions, making it a must-visit destination in the American Southwest. From vast white dunes to intricate underground cave systems, ancient Pueblo dwellings, and eccentric roadside museums, New Mexico offers remarkable diversity in exploring places. Though famous cities like Santa Fe and Taos are obvious tourist spots, venturing off the beaten path reveals some of New Mexico's most fascinating hidden gems.

Whether visitors are history buffs, outdoor enthusiasts, art lovers, or enjoy immersing themselves in the peculiar and extraordinary, visitors will find plenty of intriguing spots to pique their curiosity in the Land of Enchantment. Home to some of the most scenic drives in the Southwest , along with stunning national parks and towns, here are some of the most unique places to visit in New Mexico that give people a taste of the state's captivating blend of nature, culture, history, and imagination.

Related: 10 Beautiful Places In New Mexico Where You Can See Fall Foliage

White Sands National Park

Rising from the heart of the Tularosa Basin is one of the world's most captivating natural wonders – the gleaming white dunes of White Sands National Park. Over 275 square miles of gypsum sand compose this otherworldly landscape, creating the largest gypsum dune field on the planet.

Walking along the soft, powdery dunes, the landscape looks like snow as far as the eye can see but with a distinctly sandy texture underfoot. The brilliant white color results from the ultra-fine gypsum crystals that make up the dunes, reflecting the sun's light and creating a dreamlike alien atmosphere.

One of the best ways to experience the white sands is by taking a scenic drive along Alamogordo, an 8-mile paved loop with numerous pullouts. Indeed, visitors can explore White Sands National Park and Alamogordo for a superb day trip; get out and stroll into the sea of white, where one will quickly lose sight of the road behind the rippling peaks. For a more immersive experience, take the 1.5-mile Alkali Flat Trail into the heart of the dunes – winding through white waves and soaking in spectacular views. As visitors hike further out, the silence becomes almost deafening without a glimpse of civilization.

For the ultimate White Sands adventure, consider backcountry camping and witness the dunes under billions of twinkling stars. No designated campsites exist, allowing visitors to sleep wherever they please in this emerald-white ocean. Watch the sunset create kaleidoscopes of color on the dunes before moonlight casts a ghostly pall over the otherworldly landscape.

  • Location : Alamogordo, NM
  • Top Attractions : White Sands , Alkali Flat Trail , Backcountry camping

For a stunning photo opportunity, arrive for sunset when the white sands glow pink and orange.

RELATED: Salinas Pueblo Missions In New Mexico Are 400 Years Old & Some Of The Oldest Buildings In The USA

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Deep below the Chihuahuan Desert lies a fascinating underground world – Carlsbad Caverns National Park, which is among the best places to visit in New Mexico for otherworldly subterranean wonders. A labyrinth of over 119 limestone caves winds through the darkness, adorned with intricate cave formations like glittering stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, and crystalline rock curtains. The park contains over 33 caves, but the main attraction is the Big Room – one of the largest cave chambers in North America.

Descending 750 feet underground, travelers can walk a 1.25-mile paved loop trail through the Big Room's colossal chambers filled with rock sculptures and formations over 300 feet tall. Gazing up at the vaulted ceilings dripping with thousands of cave formations is a jaw-dropping glimpse into the geological wonders beneath the New Mexico desert. For a more rugged adventure, take a ranger-guided tour into Slaughter Canyon Cave or the famously beautiful Lechuguilla Cave, which holds rare gypsum chandeliers and strontium needle crystals.

While the caves are the main highlight, Carlsbad Caverns also contains over 33,000 acres of Chihuahuan Desert wilderness to explore aboveground. Hike along desert trails through canyons and washes, watch for wildlife like golden eagles and mule deer, or stargaze from the park's Night Sky Amphitheater. From the desert highlands to the cavernous underworld below, Carlsbad Caverns reveals the natural diversity of Southeastern New Mexico.

  • Location : Carlsbad, NM
  • Top Attractions : The Big Room, Slaughter Canyon Cave , Lechuguilla Cave

Take the self-guided Natural Entrance route down into the cave to experience the 750-foot descent from the cave mouth.

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

To glimpse the lives of ancient Puebloan people, visit the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, which is one of the most unique destinations in Mexico to visit for history fans. Tucked high in the Mogollon Mountains, this remote site contains remarkable ruins of stone cliff dwellings that the Mogollon culture inhabited from the 1280s to early 1300s. The seven caves lie high on the cliffs, featuring original adobe walls and beams dramatically situated within the rock overhangs.

A 1-mile loop trail allows travelers to climb up and explore the interiors of the dwellings, getting a sense of the ingenious construction and compact living spaces inside. Visitors can peek inside storage rooms and living spaces with fire pits and see originals of grain storage pots and food bowls still within the dwellings. The show's stars are the House of Many Windows and Ledge House dwellings, containing multiple rooms and windows looking out over the Gila National Forest valley.

Beyond the dwellings, visitors can embark on scenic hikes through the Ponderosa pine forest along the West Fork Trail, keeping a lookout for wildlife like black bears and wild turkeys. The TJ Ruin archeological site also lets travelers see remnants of another small settlement with artifacts like metates and petroglyphs. Transport back 700 years at Gila Cliff Dwellings to glimpse the ancient history within these protected caves.

  • Location : Gila National Forest
  • Top Attractions : Cliff Dwellings , West Fork Trail , TJ Ruin

Visit in autumn when the surrounding maple, oak, and ash trees display vibrant fall foliage.

Ghost Ranch In New Mexico

With a name like Ghost Ranch, travelers know this unique place in New Mexico holds intriguing mysteries within its dusty slopes. Located in the northern region of the Piedra Lumbre Basin, Ghost Ranch's panoramic landscape of buttes, mesas, and cliffs has an unmistakably spiritual aura. The 21,000-acre ranch has drawn artists like Georgia O’Keefe and archeologists who uncovered dinosaur fossils dating back 200 million years.

Today, visitors come to hike the network of trails winding through otherworldly rock formations, canyons, and desert landscapes. Climb onto Chimney Rock for expansive views of the Piedra Lumbre Valley from atop this iconic mesa formation. The Box Canyon Trail carries travelers through a slot canyon lined with eroded sandstone walls in undulating shapes and textures. Take the four-mile Chimney Rock Trail for a more rugged adventure, summiting a mesa top with 360-degree vistas.

Beyond the spectacular hiking, Ghost Ranch offers interesting museums such as the Ruth Hall Museum of Paleontology, housing Triassic fossils and dinosaur bones unearthed here. The Museum of Anthropology contains artifacts from the ancient Pueblo tribes and Spanish settlers. With a vibrant history, geology, archaeology, and scenery, Ghost Ranch promises outdoor thrills and intriguing culture around every wind-carved bend.

  • Location : Abiquiu
  • Top Attractions : Museum of Anthropology , Ruth Hall Museum

Sign up for one of the ranch's paleontology tours to hunt for fossils and learn about excavations.

Bisti Badlands

In New Mexico's northwest region, the Bisti Badlands contain one of the most surreal landscapes in the Southwest. This remote 45,000-acre wilderness of alien rock formations and petrified wood creates a strange, almost unearthly atmosphere. The badlands formed after roughly 300 million years of geological activity eroded layers of shale to reveal these quintessential “bad lands” resistant to vegetation growth.

A lunar terrain of slickrock mounds eroded into wild shapes called hoodoos, rock spires, and mushroom caps remains. Strange ribbed and rippled rock textures cover the dusty earth in stripes of dark grays, beiges, and earthen reds. Scattered across the arid landscape, visitors will find thousands of petrified wood pieces in uncanny natural sculptures and designs. Like walking through an abstract art exhibit, the Bisti Badlands allow their imagination to run wild over how such an otherworldly landscape took shape.

With no established trails, Bisti offers full creative freedom to wander the open badlands how travelers wish. Trek a few miles out to immerse in the alien surroundings, where bizarre rock formations stretch in all directions. Come at sunrise or sunset when fading light casts a mystical glow over the multi-hued hoodoos. For an eerie night, camp under the stars and listen to coyotes howling as visitors ponder this surreal terrain. Of all New Mexico’s wonders, the Bisti Badlands truly deliver a landscape unlike any other.

  • Location : Farmington, NM
  • Top Attractions : Hoodoos , rock formations, petrified wood

Bring plenty of water and snacks since no facilities exist, as well as good shoes for scrambling over rough terrain.

Taos Pueblo

In the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains (famous for its 14ers) lies the ancient municipality of Taos Pueblo, continuously inhabited for over 1000 years. One of North America's oldest, always-occupied settlements, Taos Pueblo is among the most beautiful towns in New Mexico and provides unmatched insight into traditional Pueblo culture. The heart of the Pueblo is a multi-story adobe complex made from mud, straw, and water that houses people year-round.

Unlike typical tourist attractions in New Mexico, this is a vibrant community going about its daily life and traditions. Tours allow visitors to respectfully wander the exterior plaza and historic district, guided by a tribal member. They explain customs like the horno ovens, fetch water from the Red Willow Creek, and point out kivas – underground spiritual chambers where rituals take place. Nearby stands the historic San Geronimo Chapel, the oldest church structure in the US, with original adobe walls dating back to 1619.

Artists sell finely crafted micaceous pottery, turquoise and silver jewelry, and other traditional works throughout the Pueblo. Witness dancing ceremonies like the Corn Dances or January Pole Climb that outsiders rarely view. Staying overnight or dining at Pueblo’s guest housing gives travelers a deeply immersive impression of Puebloan heritage at one of its most authentic settlements. Taos Pueblo’s continuity through centuries makes it an unparalleled place to engage with Native history and culture.

  • Location : Taos, NM
  • Top Attractions : Adobe complex , San Geronimo Chapel , Micaceous pottery

Time their visit for one of the traditional feast days like San Geronimo Day or Taos Pueblo Pow-Wow.

RELATED: High Road To Taos: Experience The Views From 9,000 Feet Up

For a unique art experience unlike anything else, visit the fantastical exhibitions of Meow Wolf in Santa Fe. Meow Wolf is an arts collective that creates immersive multimedia installations based on science fiction and psychedelic environments. Their main campus is House of Eternal Return - an amalgamation of over 70 artists' works with a storyline about a mysterious Victorian house.

Upon entering, visitors find a two-story house filled with passageways and portals leading to wildly unique spaces like a forest, cave, control room, neon arcade, and alien worlds. Every room presents a barrage of sensory stimuli, from robotic sculptures to laser shows, music, and abstract video mapping. Unlike a typical museum, visitors can touch, play, and fully interact with the installations however they please.

Beyond the flagship house, Meow Wolf contains art studios, music venues, a cafe, and outdoor installations on its sprawling campus. Expanding the multimedia experience, they regularly host concerts, new exhibitions, artist talks, and workshops. Recent openings include The Goblin Garden, with immersive botanical jewels and Portals connecting to otherworldly realms. Meow Wolf offers complete imaginative escape through the power of creatively collaborated art forms and storytelling – a one-of-a-kind playground for minds of all ages.

  • Location : Santa Fe, NM
  • Top Attractions : House of Eternal Return exhibit , arts complex , music venues

Look for discount coupons online!

RELATED: This Is What Happened At Chaco Canyon (& Why It's Still Abandoned Today)

Visible from nearly 50 miles away, the imposing rocky structure of Shiprock abruptly emerges from New Mexico's remote northwest desert. Rising about 1,600 feet, Shiprock (or Tsé Bit’a’í in Navajo) is an arresting lone volcanic plug that has become a famous symbol of this Four Corners region. The sheer rock walls shoot straight up from the landscape, resembling a massive ship plowing through the desert sea.

For the Navajo people native to this region, Shiprock holds deep cultural and spiritual significance. Many myths and legends tell how this dramatic monolith came to be, featuring it prominently as a landmark. Navajo tradition tells of a great bird that carried the Navajo from the cold north to this southwestern land of promise. Exhausted from the long journey, the giant bird rested on the peak we now know as Shiprock.

While it's mostly off-limits for climbing, hikers can walk along the mesa at its base for closer views of the craggy volcanic rock walls. The rugged 17-mile loop BLM trail traces around Shiprock, rewarding with panoramic views of this geological marvel from all angles against the vivid high desert. For insights into Navajo heritage tied to this sacred peak, talk with a Navajo guide to hear stories passed down through generations about the origins of their cherished Shiprock.

  • Location : Shiprock, NM
  • Top Attractions : 17-mile loop BLM trail around Shiprock

For safe hiking, go with a Navajo guide who can shed light on cultural significance along the way.

Tinkertown Museum

Don’t miss Ross Ward’s Tinkertown Museum between Albuquerque and Santa Fe for a roadside attraction with incredible handcrafted charm. This 22-room eccentric place began in the 1960s as one man’s personal carved wooden dioramas, expanding over decades into a folk art extravaganza. Ross Ward spent over 40 years meticulously cutting around 50,000 figures to create entire Western scenes inside glass bottles, wooden boxes, and walls.

Visitors will find a Wild West saloon filled with cowboy figurines or a vintage sideshow stuffed with detailed carousel animals as visitors explore the various rooms. Other displays include a mini circus, Norman Rockwell-esque small-town scenes, and interactive penny arcade games. The bottle walls glitter with lit-up glass containing minute carvings. Surprises wait around every corner, from a carved fortune-teller machine to a wooden sailing ship.

Equally appealing is the museum’s quirky, nostalgic charm mixed with Ross’s quips and humor displayed throughout. Beyond the indoor curiosities, travelers will find a chapel, schoolhouse, jail, and Ross’s unique hand-built RV to explore. Tinkertown celebrates the power of one person’s imagination and diligence to create a magical handmade world for others to enjoy. Don’t miss this New Mexico original hidden gem.

  • Location : Sandia Park, NM
  • Top Attractions : Hand-carved dioramas at the Tintertown Museum

Chat with the friendly and quirky staff for amusing background stories on various pieces in the museum.

RELATED: Uncovering The Enigma Of The 'Center Of The Universe' In New Mexico: Myth Or Reality?

Loretto Chapel

In the heart of Santa Fe (a superb city with plenty to offer) stands the historic Loretto Chapel, home to one of New Mexico’s most intriguing curiosities. Built in the late 1800s, the chapel exhibits ornate Gothic Revival architecture with impressive buttresses, spires, and stained-glass windows. But the structure’s miraculous spiral staircase attracts most visitors’ attention and speculation.

Constructed with only wooden pegs and glue, the narrow staircase makes two complete spirals, stands 20 feet tall, and seems to defy physics and engineering. The Sisters of Loretto credit St. Joseph with miraculously answering their prayers for a solution after being told adding a normal staircase would disturb the chapel's walls. With no clear builder, the staircase's mystery perplexed architects and sparked legend.

Some records suggest it was carpentry master Francois-Jean "Frenchy" Rochas, though he worked without blueprints, nails, or center support. Others cite unidentified traveling carpenters. Skeptics suggest clever woodworking and physics created the illusion of impossibility. Regardless, the staircase has inspired wonder for over a century with its architectural curiosity.

Beyond the stairs, the chapel interior impresses with its ornate Gothic arches, columns, paintings, and glowing stained-glass telling biblical stories. While small in size, Loretto Chapel stands large in intrigue. Those intrigued by architectural mysteries and legends can decide if they believe in miracles while gazing at this gravity-defying wooden wonder.

  • Top Attractions : Miraculous staircase , Gothic Revival architecture

Try to visit on a weekday early in the day to avoid crowds and have a quiet moment with the mystical staircase.

10 Of The Most Unique Places To Visit In New Mexico

Road is Calling

places in the U.S.

6 Unique Places To Visit In The U.S. That Will Blow Your Mind

Last updated on August 23rd, 2023

Are you looking for some unique places to visit in the U.S.? There are tons of them for sure but I would love to share a few of my favorite ones.

Overall, when it comes to abundant spectacular nature, hospitable and kind people, outstanding service, diversity of cultures and foods, opportunities, and possibilities, the United States of America beats them all. If you think for a moment how vast this country is and how much beauty exists from one coast to another, you’ll get completely blown away. 

Even if you decide you want to stay in America for the rest of your life without crossing a border, I guarantee you will never get bored or question yourself what to see or do next. There are so many cool road trips and unique places to visit in the U.S. that will take your breath away.

Anything, absolutely anything that you may think of is possible to find here… deserts and mountains , canyons and valleys, oceans and rivers, clean lakes and lush forests , amazing national parks full of falls and bears. On any budget, taste, and style one can find what his heart desires.

America has been our home for many years and left a trace in our hearts forever ( why we left you can read here. )

We love this country for its nature, variety, and accessibility, for developed infrastructure, amazing road trips (like this one from Southern California to Utah ), and sympathetic people. If we get a chance to go back for a visit, without a need to return to a cubicle lifestyle, then we would love to experience the vastness all over again.

We believe everyone should visit the United States  at least once in his lifetime. However, to get a real feel of American natural beauty you guys need to hike up the mountains, swim the oceans, venture to the countryside , and go off the beaten path.

During eight years we have been extensively exploring different corners of the United States. We lived in 5 states and visited 46. And throughout this time we experienced so much wonder in the land of opportunities.

unique places to visit usa

From all our travels and explorations I would love to highlight special and truly unique places in the U.S. that you should visit. They will blow your mind for sure!

If you are a local, I hope these tips will help you rediscover your own country through a new prism. If you are a visitor, allow me to introduce you to the greatness and splendor of these almost magical destinations.

Side note:  To be able to get to all of these places, you need to have a car. We personally rented a few times from Discover Cars (not to put too many miles on our own vehicles.) 

During the time when we lived in America, we often rented cars from this company even though we had our own. The deals were amazing (like Chevrolet Sonic for three days in Los Angeles for $30 or Ford Focus for one day in Denver for $15) and we preferred to rent a car rather than put miles on our own vehicles on long-distance trips.

RELATED POST: Snowy Holiday Destinations in the United States to Visit Any Time of The Year

Here are a few truly unique places to visit in the U.S. that will blow your mind

1. umpqua national forest, south oregon.

Oregon is famous for so many things. Just some of them are vibrant and always green Portland , Mt. Hood, Columbia River Gorge scenic drive , green clear lakes, rivers, breathtaking waterfalls, hot springs, mountains, and much, much more. But not many travelers know about Umpqua National Forest   in Southern Oregon. This lesser-known destination probably has the biggest amount of peaceful ponds and thundering waters that you can visit.

And the best part is how quiet and untouched they are. It seems that visitors to the state prefer to go to nearby Crater Lake only, not delving into the forest and exploring its wonders. In some places, you may be the only visitor during the day.

Side note: the downside of this area is the number of mosquitoes and ticks during the warmer months. If you think they bite you more than others (ugh, those creatures drive me bananas) then don’t forget an insect repellent (just keep it safe and get a natural one .) 


STEAMBOAT INN – a gorgeous Inn & fine dining restaurant not far from the famous Crater Lake and right in the Umpqua National Forest. Staying here makes you experience luxury and helps to enjoy the beautiful location, outstanding service, and excellent food.

RUNNING Y RANCH RESORT – a beautiful resort with a fitness center, spa, pool, sauna, golf, tennis, hiking trails, horseback riding, excellent food, and clean cozy rooms. It suits families and couples. 

Unique places to visit in the U.S.

2. Lava Beds National Monument, California

Oh, California. Only this one state holds so much and offers so many activities to a traveler. Lava Beds National Monument is another unique place to visit in the U.S. that not many people know about. Visitors to California usually go to Pacific Coast Highway, Sequoia, Red Rocks, Yosemite, Death Valley and Joshua Tree national parks missing historically and geologically rich land in the North.

Lava Beds National Monument   should be definitely added to your list of places to visit in California. Because of the volcanic eruptions in this area years and years ago a rugged landscape with diverse volcanic features was created. There are so many caves to venture in, campsites, and even battlefields to visit!

We can only imagine how excited kids will be to explore some of the caves. Lava Beds National Monument  undoubtedly will amaze you with the surreal landscape!

Side note: The temperature in the caves stays low year-round. This is why you shouldn’t be deceived by the sun and heat on the surface. Take a hoodie or sweater to stay warm.

GUEST SUITE HOSTED BY DEL & JUDY – if you prefer staying on Airbnb and don’t mind renting a room in someone’s house, I highly recommend looking into this beautiful home. This is where we stayed at some point. The house is exactly the same as you see in the pictures and has mountain views. Here, you’ll experience wonderful hospitality, incredible views, and amazing amenities. 

RUNNING Y RANCH RESORT – is the same resort that I mention above. The hotel’s location is perfect for visiting Lava Beds National Monument and Umpqua National Forests during one trip.

GET INSPIRED: Awesome Weekend Getaways From Los Angeles to Make You Wonder

Unique places to visit in the U.S.

3. Rocky Mountains National Park, Colorado

Alright, this park is not really among the unique places to visit in the U.S. It is not less-visited among Americans. Quite on the contrary, they love it, know well and return again and again.

However, visitors from other countries often don’t add it to the list of national parks to see. Usually, they head out to national parks in California, Montana, and Utah. Not many of them think this park is worth the visit.

Rocky Mountains National park is huge and has almost unearthly beauty. Spending a day or two there definitely won’t be enough. Every season in this park is magical and will guarantee an array of colors.

Side note:  If you plan on walking in the snow, don’t forget proper shoes or snow grips . If visiting the area in the winter, you should add Rocky Mountain National Park to this bucket list ski road trip itinerary.

THE HISTORIC RAPIDS LODGE AND RESTAURANT – is more of a budget option, this lodge is located on the banks of the scenic river not far from Grand Lake and Shadow Mountain Lake. Here, you’ll find pet-friendly cabins, gourmet dining, old but clean and cozy rooms. The highlight is the view and the river. 

ASPEN WINDS ON FALL RIVER – a dream-like lodging right next to Rocky Mountain National Park. All condo suites and vacation rentals are facing the river with mind-blowing views on all sides. Clean, quiet accommodation with professional and caring staff. This hotel is great for couples getaways and romantic stays.

national parks in america

4. Eastern Sierra Nevada in California

As with Lava Beds National Monument, Eastern Sierra Nevada in California is a gem place in the U.S . that will blow your mind. Everyone praises Highway 1 along the coast but not everyone directs enough attention towards highway 395.

This area has an incredibly high amount of lakes ( Mammoth Lakes are the most popular ones), fairy-tale mountains, small cute towns, amazing hot springs , and even museums. Also, I am not sure if you knew that but a lot of movies representing the Wild West of America were filmed here too.

You can find the tallest mountain Mount Whitney and the highest slopes of California also in this part of the state. In winter the only way to get to Eastern Sierra would be from the south due to the road closure from the West. In the summertime, you can visit from the Bay Area.

Therefore, you have to come here at any time during the year and explore this truly hidden gem.

THE VILLAGE LODGE MAMMOTH – a beautiful hotel that offers luxury at a rather low price. Offseason rates are very reasonable. The property is perfectly located in Mammoth Lakes town with year-round entertainment. Rooms have kitchens, big bathtubs, the hotel has a pool, restaurant, and direct gondola access. 

MCGEE CREEK LODGE – Old California at its Best. Just 10 Minutes to Mammoth. The  lodge  offers 8 comfortable rooms and 2 cabins

Unique places to visit in the U.S.

5. Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota

I bet North Dakota is probably one of the last few states you plan to visit in America.

Overall, the state does not have as much to offer as some other states. Still, there is so much beauty this national park hides. We visited it on one of our mid-west road trips and this spot came as a total surprise!

Theodore Roosevelt National Park , which is on the western side of the state and not far from the border with Montana, is rich with wildlife, scenic drives, and stunning vista views. We spent there just a couple of hours in the evening, watching the sunset and observing the wildlife.

Honestly, we haven’t seen as many bison in our life as in this one park alone. Even Yellowstone NP has way fewer bisons due to the fact that it allows hunting within its boundaries which contributed to fluctuations in the bison population. But in Theodore National Park the bison population experiences natural growth.

So besides all sceneries, you’ll get a chance to observe the bison community and glimpse into the region’s past and present which is truly one of the most unique things to do in the US!

AMBLE INN – this Inn is a wonderful option for budget travelers who are traveling across the country and/or looking to stay next to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The rooms here are big, with comfortable beds, spacious bathrooms. The atmosphere feels like somewhere in the Wild West. 

ROUGH RIDERS HOTEL – a very nice historic hotel with good service, simple but cozy rooms after remodeling and an in-house restaurant. The food is delicious and at reasonable prices.

RELATED POST: 6 Most Magical Lakes in Vermont For Kayaking, Canoeing & Swimming

North Dakota national park

6. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Lake Superior, Michigan

Those who visit Lake Superior, have difficulty believing this formation is not a sea. 

Congress has recognized the landscape of Lake Superior as a national lakeshore in 1966, however, until this time it is not receiving even half the number of visitors that other national parks see.

I can say with confidence that pictures can’t do justice to the beauty of this place.

If you visit, you’ll see that Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore offers endless hiking trails, waterfalls, camping, backpacking, hunting, picnicking areas, miles of golden beautiful beaches, and much more. The pristine beauty of forests, cliffs, and rock formations will make you question why you haven’t visited before.

ROAM INN – a boutique-type lodging not far from Munising’s Lower Harbor. They offer a big variety of rooms from small studios to large suites and located next to restaurants and shopping. 

beautiful America

I’d love to hear what you think of this list. Did you guys go to any of these destinations? Would you add any of your own unique places to visit in the U.S.? If yes, share your thoughts! 

Also, if you like the article, would you share it on social media? 

6 Less Visited Places in the U.S. that will blow your mind

Anya is originally from Ukraine but in heart she is a citizen of the world. She is working online and that’s why has an opportunity to travel a lot and live in different countries. At present time, she is based in Spain while waiting for the war in Ukraine to be over to be able to return home. On this blog, her main goal is to inspire others to travel to under-the-radar places and discover the world while working remotely.

Similar Posts

6 Most Magical Lakes in Vermont For Kayaking, Canoeing & Swimming

6 Most Magical Lakes in Vermont For Kayaking, Canoeing & Swimming

Last updated on August 14th, 2023Lately, Vermont has been on my mind a lot. I was going through our old photos and found a bunch of pictures from those times when we went on…

Columbia River Gorge Drive – Gorgeous Places to Visit & Things to Do (!)

Columbia River Gorge Drive – Gorgeous Places to Visit & Things to Do (!)

Going on a Columbia River Gorge drive was one of my favorite things to do when I was based in Portland. Not only because it is a must-do road trip in Oregon but also…

Los Angeles to Salt Lake City Drive: 21 Best Stops to Make & Things to See

Los Angeles to Salt Lake City Drive: 21 Best Stops to Make & Things to See

Last updated on January 24th, 2024Going on Los Angeles to Salt Lake City drive can be one of the most adventurous road trips in the Western USA. Although not many people know about it….

Weekend in Portland, Oregon – My Perfect 2 to 4 Days in Portland Itinerary

Weekend in Portland, Oregon – My Perfect 2 to 4 Days in Portland Itinerary

Last updated on August 14th, 2023It took me almost two and a half years to write my version of the Portland itinerary. Not that I have been writing it for two years, no. But…

9 Incredible Weekend Getaways in Kentucky

9 Incredible Weekend Getaways in Kentucky

Last updated on January 23rd, 2024Are you looking for weekend getaways in Kentucky? Look no further! In my super detailed massive guide you’ll find trips to the best horse farms and distilleries, to the…

6 Amazingly Unique Weekend Getaways From Los Angeles to Make You Wonder

6 Amazingly Unique Weekend Getaways From Los Angeles to Make You Wonder

Last updated on May 23rd, 2023There is no shortage of things in Southern California you can do in your spare time. Much has been already said about various gorgeous hikes, road trips, and attractions….


Have been to California a bunch of times but never visited Lava Beds Park. I think I should add it to my list for the next time when there!

And you won’t regret Patrick! Just make sure you’ll arrive in the morning, there are lots of activities for the entire day! Oh, and Umpqua National Forest in Oregon is a short drive away 🙂

Great article!

And please add McArthur Burney Falls and Mt Lassen State Psrks. Two more of California’s wonders.

We loved Pictured Rocks and the surrounding area, in fact, the whole upper peninsula was fantastic. We also enjoyed T Roosevelt NP. We are headed west this summer to the PNW, so I’m happy to hear about these other spots!

…oh and we hit RMNP last summer and hope to go again. You’re spot on about it being just as scenic but less crowded because it’s not on the intl tourist list.

So excited for you! You’ll guys definitely have a great time, and will want to come back 🙂 We hope to revisit one day too!

I have been to RMNP many times. So beautiful and so much too see. I have also been to Picture Rocks in Michigan. We took the boat tour, which allowed for great photos and great information.

I had it heard of most of those. I will have to check them out next time I’m out West. Or maybe the one in Michigan much sooner

You should love them, Erin! Have a great time!

Try Spearfish Canyon in South Dakota, beautiful waterfalls, and the hike to the Devil’s Bathtub was amazing. Also try Medicine Bow in Wyoming. Picturesque lakes, surrounded by incredible mountain scenery. Or check out Sinks Canyon in Wyoming. It’s called Sinks Canyon because the river sinks into a canyon at a place called three Fall and disappears beneath the surface. Scientists have no idea where it goes, they’ve speculated; maybe it’s another dimension, another planet, some kind of underground hot spring, most think it just gets trapped behind limestone slowly squeezing through tiny cracks. All they know is that when it reappears 3 hours later at a place called the Rise it’s warmer. That’s especially unusual because usually when water disappears beneath the surface it would come back cooler. Nice views, cool geological features, and if you take the Popo Agie trail it leads to a waterfall, then a swimming hole with a natural waterslide.

Wow, Dan, all these places look so beautiful!! I’ve checked some pictures and now can’t wait to revisit Wyoming and get to South Dakota (this is one of a few states where we haven’t been yet.) Thank you for all your tips!

We loved Roosevelt National Park! It is quiet with lovely scenery and everywhere so many animals (including bison, prairie dog towns, and wild horses) up and personal. It was a huge treat after the crowds at Yellowstone. We highly recommend it! The Eastern Sierra is gorgeous and so overlooked. Thanks for the good article!

Thank you, Gail, for your lovely comment! Eastern Sierra is very overlooked, that’s true, and one visit is never enough. I am happy to hear you had a great time!

RMNP???? Seriously??? Less crowded??? Um, I’d really love to show the real secluded Colorado. RMNP is for people who need to pay to experience nature.

Based on the comment it seems you just scrolled through and read the captions without paying attention to what this post is all about. It clearly says that Americans know and love this park, and frequent it often. But international visitors tend to skip it thinking it’s not worth the visit. In any case, thanks for stopping by and all the best.

Thanks for mentioning North Dakota! It’s a forgotten state with truly a lot of beauty!!

We had a truly wonderful experience in North Dakota and can’t wait to return to explore more!

Your photos are absolutely gorgeous!! Definitely adding these to my must visit list!!

Thank you, Anna!

Where in the Eastern Sierra’s is that first pic? It’s beautiful.

Hey Marc! it was taken on a trail around the Convict Lake 😉

Love your post!! My husband and I love hitting the places less visited also!! We currently live in Whitefish, Montana and before lived in Bend, OR. Living in both locations we seek out the places that no one visits!! In Oregon Umpqua National Forest is one our faves!! If you visit Oregon again make sure you visit the Oregon Outback/Desert. There are so truly unique places out there and you will most likely see no one ?. We also love the Eastern Sierra in California!! We will be spending a lot of time exploring and camping throughout the West this coming summer and will be starting a blog to share our adventures. Cheers to you and your Adventures!!!

Manda, thank you for your kind comment and for the tips! You live in such a beautiful place, it’s definitely time to start sharing about all places you go to on your blog! Just don’t postpone. I have been procrastinating with my blog and now regret I haven’t started it sooner. When you start one, please, get back and let me know. I love reading blogs of others and learning about hidden gems. And it would be great to connect. We do plan to go back to the U.S. and possibly make a base in Oregon (just not sure when exactly,) so adding Outback Desert to my list, never heard about it! Thanks again, so glad you stopped by and mentioned it!!

Nice article! I did notice that you mentioned Red Rocks as being in California. It’s in Colorado. Also, Mt. Whitney is not only the tallest mountain in California, it’s the tallest in the contiguous 48. Only Denali (formerly Mt. McKinley) in Alaska is higher in the U.S.

Hi Lori, thank you for dropping a comment! Red Rocks, which I mention in my post, is a State Park in California. Yes, there is one in Colorado too (I guess parks with the same name are all over the country) but the one I mention is in California. It’s around 2 hours away from Los Angeles towards Mammoth Lakes. For Mt. Whitney, it seems there are 10 other peaks (all of them are in Alaska) that are higher. At least this is what wikipedia says. But yes, this is one of the highest peaks in entire North America!

Several of the cities you name as great places to move to have very very expensive housing. Do you take this into consideration when you choose the places. Also someplace like Vermont has a very long, cold and dark winter. I guess it’s ok if you are a skier.

Hey Bonnie, yes, some cities have expensive housing indeed but salaries there are also at much higher level than in those cities where accommodation is cheaper.

I live in Riseburg, Oregon and have hiked to almost all of the waterfalls in the area. I have also hiked the North Umpqua River trail twice. It’s an amazing hike. 84ish miles of spectacular views, forests, and waterfalls. I highly encourage anyone coming to visit to hike some or all of the segments. You wont regret it.

I throughly enjoyed your post I’m always looking for the hidden gems. My husband and I are beyond blessed and have able to travel to many places. I would like to encourage you guys to check out Kootenai falls in Montana near the border. It’s also a least traveled area we just discovered it by accident on our trip trough the northern west coast. Stop at what seemed to be just a rest stop and read some of the sign and thought we’d check it out only to find a swinging bridge offering spectacular views and then The falls galore when we went in 2016 there was a drought and it was mid August and the falls were slower and walked in the middle and we’ve returned May 2019 only to find another look and feel of the place even more water and where we hike to the center of falls well that was all rushing over. This place has been featured in a movie. Also a bald eagle was spotted trying to take a closer look at my husbands drone.

Wow, Lolita, thank you so much for this tip! I’ve just looked through some photos on google maps and got inspired! We haven’t seen much of Montana yet but planning to return and discover more of this beautiful state. Hopefully, next year. I put a check mark on the map, thank you again!

There is a lot to see in North Dakota. Try a Google search….I spent a week there last summer, a few favorites in addition to TRNP are The Enchanted Highway (do spend the night in The Enchanted Castle!) In Regent, The International Peace Garden on the Canadian boarder, The National Buffalo Museum in Jamestown, and for the best flash back to the past, visit Bonanzaville in Fargo. North Dakota has many historical sites as well, we visited several restored forts and Lewis and Clark sites. And let’s not forget the geographical center of North America is located near Center, ND. Go back for another visit, you missed too much!

So many wonderful tips and places, thank you, Joan! We definitely plan to revisit and go on another adventure, thank you again!

What great pictures!

Thank you, Tas!

They may not be the most popular places to visit in the US, but these places are still travel goals, and we hope to see a lot of people travel to these destinations.

We visited Theodore Roosevelt NP just after July 4 2009. Had the place to ourself. Great park. Go see the place.

You’re right, Theodore Roosevelt National park is one of the most beautiful, underrated places on earth, but, you’re wrong in that there isn’t much else to offer in North Dakota. There are so many other beautiful places to see.

I guess we need to return and explore more of North Dakota then! Thank you, Mari, for stopping by!

I live in Upper Michigan and I was so happy to see Pictured Rocks on your list! It’s a beautiful place! If you ever come back, be sure to visit the Keweenaw Peninsula too. You won’t be disappointed!

Thank you, Lisa, for this tip! Adding Keweenaw Peninsula to my map, we will definitely return one day to explore more of Michigan! 🙂

What a wonderful blog post! We will definitely be checking out some of these spots as we explore more of our own country during this time. Thanks so much for sharing your advice on lodging too! Xx Sara

I am glad to hear you found it inspiring! Happy travels!

Very interesting and informative blog post! I would love to experience these places whenever I go to the U.S. Thanks for sharing this post. your way of blog writing is really amazing

Hello Anya What a wonderful collection of US destinations! Your post has inspired me to explore more of this stunning nation because I’ve always wanted to. I value your accurate and thorough explanations of each location as well as your helpful suggestions on what to do, how to get there, and what to expect. Your excellent writing style and enthusiasm for travel come through in everything you write.

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Protect Your Trip »

9 top all-inclusive resorts in costa rica for 2024.

These all-inclusive resorts will inspire you to book your trip to Costa Rica.

Top All-Inclusive Resorts in Costa Rica

Breakfast by the pool at Best Western Jacó Beach All Inclusive Resort.

Courtesy of Best Western Hotels & Resorts

Costa Rica is an exotic destination teeming with unique wildlife, exquisite spas, ecolodges and outdoor adventures. Staying at an all-inclusive resort or booking an all-inclusive package makes vacationing here that much easier, since you won't have to worry about where to get your next meal or how much extra it'll cost. Whether you're visiting the country for a family vacation , a girls getaway or a romantic retreat , there are plenty of all-inclusive options to choose from in this Central American oasis.

If you're ready to plan an all-inclusive vacation to Costa Rica , get started with this list of the top such resorts compiled by U.S. News.

  • Best Overall: The Westin Reserva Conchal, an All-Inclusive Golf Resort & Spa

Best Adults-Only: Secrets Papagayo Costa Rica

Best for families: andaz costa rica resort at peninsula papagayo, best beach location: dreams las mareas costa rica, best for surfing: best western jacó beach all inclusive resort, best value: fiesta resort all inclusive central pacific, best activities: hotel riu palace costa rica, best ecolodge: lapa rios lodge.

  • Best Boutique Hotel: Los Altos de Eros Boutique Hotel & Spa

Best Overall: The Westin Reserva Conchal, an All-Inclusive Golf Resort & Spa

Pool with hanging seats on the side at The Westin Reserva Conchal, an All-Inclusive Golf Resort & Spa.

Courtesy of The Westin Reserva Conchal, an All-Inclusive Golf Resort & Spa

Location: Playa Conchal, Guanacaste

Situated on the North Pacific Riviera of Costa Rica you'll find The Westin Reserva Conchal, a family-friendly destination. The 2,400-acre property boasts beautiful forests and beaches, plus a lagoon-style pool with a whirlpool and a kids pool, a fitness studio, a spa, and a championship golf course. Whether you're on a family vacation or a romantic escape, this resort provides an upscale all-inclusive experience.

The resort's all-inclusive package will get you meals at more than dozen bars and restaurants, alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks, an in-room minibar (stocked daily), 24-hour room service, access to the Westin Kids Club, nonmotorized water sports, use of tennis courts and nightly entertainment. Recent visitors commented that the staff was friendly and attentive, and that this resort is a great place to bring the kids.

Guest room with ocean view at Secrets Papagayo Costa Rica.

Courtesy of Hyatt

Location: Papagayo Peninsula, Guanacaste

The adults-only Secrets Papagayo is situated on the picturesque Papagayo Peninsula in the Guanacaste province, along Arenilla beach. Guests are treated to the resort's "Unlimited-Luxury" experience, which includes all-you-can-eat gourmet meals and limitless top-shelf drinks – alongside resort activities, 24-hour room service and best-in-class service. Recent visitors were continually impressed with the attentive staff, who went above and beyond.

The all-inclusive fee includes a variety of activities such as theme nights, live shows, cooking lessons, mountain biking and nonmotorized water sports. At an additional cost, you can partake in off-site nature excursions including rides on all-terrain vehicles, canopy tours, white-water rafting and horseback riding. Travelers can relax at one of the property's two pools or unwind at the world-class spa: A massage, hydrotherapy circuit or unique body treatment may await you at Secrets Papagayo.

Chairs with umbrellas besides the pool at sunset at Andaz Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagayo.

With luxury lodging complemented by a plethora of amenities, Andaz Costa Rica Resort has it all. Past guests say this resort offers excellent service, upscale accommodations and memorable culinary experiences. You can take advantage of three beaches, four distinct pools (including one specifically for kids and another that's adults-only), a wellness spa, a kids club, world-class golf and beachfront dining at this resort. The rooms, suites and villas come with modern amenities, private outdoor balconies or terraces, complimentary in-room snacks and beverages, and more.

Enjoy a meal at one of the four themed restaurants highlighting Latin American and global cuisine. While this isn't a traditional all-inclusive property, you can book the "Food & Drinks Package" with your stay for all-inclusive dining: You'll get three meals a day, minibar snacks, nonalcoholic drinks and alcoholic beverages. (Note that even with this plan, however, activities and spa services are not included.)

Aerial of Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica.

Location: Playa El Jobo, Guanacaste

This all-inclusive, family-friendly resort features ocean views, gourmet restaurants and a tranquil spa. Whether you want to lounge by the pool, spot monkeys, hike to a waterfall or take a walk on the beach, Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica has something for everyone. The "Unlimited-Luxury" experience includes limitless dining and drinks at roughly 20 restaurants and bars, 24-hour room service, entertainment, and wait service at the pool and beach.

Upgrade to the Preferred Club accommodations for access to an exclusive lounge, a suite upgrade, elevated personal concierge service and more. Previous guests praised the food and service and enjoyed seeing a variety of wildlife.

unique places to visit usa

Tips on Trips and Expert Picks

Travel tips, vacation ideas and more to make your next vacation stellar.

Aerial of Best Western Jacó Beach All Inclusive Resort.

Location: Jacó Beach, Puntarenas

On Pastor Díaz Avenue within walking distance of the beach, the Best Western Jacó Beach All Inclusive Resort's central location is ideal for exploring downtown Jacó or catching some waves. This kid-friendly property has a children's playground, a pool and splash pad, volleyball, and evening activities for adults. Guests enjoy unlimited access to dining and drinks at the resort's restaurant, lobby bar and snack bar. Recent lodgers appreciated staying here because of the budget-friendly pricing paired with proximity to the beach.

Location: Chacarita, Puntarenas

Situated roughly 50 miles from San José , Fiesta Resort is one of the top affordable all-inclusive properties in the area. This family-friendly resort boasts five pools, tropical gardens, a volcanic black sand beach and a spa. The all-inclusive package covers dining at the property's four restaurants and seven bars, as well as limitless alcoholic beverages, soft drinks and juices. Also included are various games and cultural activities, cocktail classes, clubs for kids and teens, mini-golf, tennis, and nightly entertainment. The Heliconia Spa offers an array of facials, massages and body treatments.

Previous guests appreciated the staff's hospitality and the value for the price, but some warn that the resort can be difficult to reach via phone or email.

Pool at Hotel RIU Palace Costa Rica.

Courtesy of RIU Hotels & Resorts

Location: Sardinal, Guanacaste

This all-inclusive resort is an ideal vacation option for active travelers. Located on the edge of the beach of Matapalo, Hotel RIU Palace Costa Rica grants opportunities to dance at the adults-only poolside RIU Party, take a dip in four pools (including one with a swim-up bar), sweat it out in the gym, go snorkeling or play volleyball. Resortgoers love the fact that there are so many activities to keep you entertained.

For relaxation, visit the Renova Spa for a variety of treatments. The all-inclusive experience also encompasses dining at the buffet or the resort's four themed restaurants. Travelers may even want to venture beyond the resort to explore volcanic areas, national parks and diving sites; on your excursions, try out windsurfing or tee up at the Four Seasons Golf Club amid splendid sea views.

Exterior of bungalow lodge at Lapa Ríos Lodge.

Courtesy of Lapa Ríos Lodge

Location: Osa Peninsula, Puntarenas

Lapa Rios Lodge is located on a 1,000-acre rainforest reserve – the perfect setting for adventure lovers. Situated within Central America's last remaining tropical lowland rainforest, the resort is committed to protecting its surroundings and ensuring sustainable tourism . Guests will be immersed in the rainforest wildlife with common sightings of monkeys, macaws, sloths, armadillos, geckos, butterflies and more. Select from three accommodation types for your stay: villas, suites or bungalows.

Interpretive hikes and tours with naturalist guides are included in the all-inclusive property's "Full Experience" concept, along with three daily a la carte meals, snacks and nonalcoholic beverages. Previous visitors enthuse about the beautiful setting at this ecotourism destination, given the spectacular views and immersion in wildlife.

Best Boutique: Los Altos de Eros Boutique Hotel & Spa

Location: Tamarindo, Guanacaste

Book a stay at Los Altos de Eros for an adults-only spa getaway in the jungle. This premium boutique hotel in the Guanacaste province – only about 10 miles from the surf town of Tamarindo – has a secluded setting on 22 acres of land overlooking the Pacific Ocean, not to mention an award-winning spa. This resort features an infinity pool, a fitness center, yoga, hiking trails and cooking classes. The six spacious rooms are decorated with upscale tropical furnishings and equipped with indoor/outdoor showers or Roman bathtubs, private balconies or terraces, and organic toiletries.

This hotel is not a typical all-inclusive, but you can select the all-inclusive option for your stay, which will cover all meals and unlimited beverages. The spa is an ultimate indulgence in relaxation with eight outdoor treatment rooms, a waterfall, a hydrotherapy pool, an infrared sauna and a Balinese soaking tub. Treatments range from facials and massages to body wraps and scrubs. Travelers praise Los Altos de Eros for the unique spa offerings and recommend a visit for anyone in need of some quality relaxation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes! Costa Rica has amazing all-inclusive resorts – many of which are highlighted above. Find family-friendly accommodations at The Westin Reserva Conchal complemented by kids activities and a kids pool, or opt for an adults-only resort like Secrets Papagayo to enjoy the nightly entertainment and serene spas.

Most of the top Costa Rica all-inclusives highlighted on this list are located in the coastal Guanacaste and Puntarenas provinces of Costa Rica, which draw many tourists with their natural beauty and the plethora of activities. Depending on where you stay, you'll find options to stay in the jungle or on the beach, partake in adventure outings like zip lining or ATVing, and encounter local wildlife.

Although tipping is optional, it is always appreciated. If a waiter, bartender, housekeeper or tour guide went above and beyond to make your stay extra special, tipping 10% to 20% is standard. Tipping policies may vary between all-inclusive resorts, so don't hesitate to contact the resort ahead of time to inquire if tipping is allowed.

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Sharael Kolberg is a U.S. News & World Report contributor who traveled to Costa Rica for the first time when she was 19. She has been lucky enough to visit various parts of the country and was most amazed by the large diversity of wildlife, outdoor adventure and scenic beauty. To curate this list of top Costa Rica all-inclusive resorts, she used her personal travel experience, as well as her research expertise.

You might also be interested in:

  • The Top All-Inclusive Family Resorts Around the World
  • All-Inclusive Resorts With the Best Food
  • The Top All-Inclusive Resorts in Florida
  • The Top Cancun All-Inclusive Family Resorts
  • The Top Overwater Bungalows

Top All-Inclusive Resorts in the U.S.

Aerial of Alila Ventana Big Sur.

Tags: Travel , All-Inclusive Vacations , Hotels and Resorts

World's Best Places To Visit

  • # 1 South Island, New Zealand
  • # 4 Bora Bora

If you make a purchase from our site, we may earn a commission. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.

You May Also Like

The best way to renew a passport.

Amanda Norcross Jan. 26, 2024

unique places to visit usa

The Trick to Finding Cheap Flights

Amanda Norcross Jan. 25, 2024

unique places to visit usa

Seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland

Timothy J. Forster Jan. 25, 2024

unique places to visit usa

How to See the Northern Lights in Alaska

Gwen Pratesi Jan. 23, 2024

unique places to visit usa

The Best Places for the Northern Lights

Gwen Pratesi and Timothy J. Forster Jan. 19, 2024

unique places to visit usa

The Best Paris Tours

Claire Lawton and Marisa Méndez Jan. 19, 2024

unique places to visit usa

Carry-on Luggage Sizes by Airline

Amanda Norcross Jan. 18, 2024

unique places to visit usa

The Top Alaska Cruise Lines

Gwen Pratesi Jan. 17, 2024

unique places to visit usa

The Best Vegas Shows

Rachael Hood Jan. 17, 2024

unique places to visit usa

Top All-Inclusive Family Resorts

Jan. 12, 2024

unique places to visit usa


  1. 55 Unique Places to Visit in the US

    unique places to visit usa

  2. 6 Unique Places To Visit in the U.S. That Will Blow Your Mind

    unique places to visit usa

  3. Top 5 Most Beautiful Places In USA To Visit

    unique places to visit usa

  4. 10 unique places to visit in North America

    unique places to visit usa

  5. 18 Exotic Places to Travel in the U.S. (with Photos)

    unique places to visit usa

  6. 40 Unique and Beautiful Places to Visit in the US

    unique places to visit usa


  1. Visiting Stuhr Museum, Museum in Grand Island, Nebraska, United States

  2. Unforgettable places in America

  3. places to visit in usa

  4. Visiting Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, Museum in Indianapolis, Indiana, Unit

  5. Unique Places to Visit in Hawaii

  6. Best Place To Visit USA In October


  1. 50+ Unique Places to Visit in the US

    The best vacation spots in the US are all within driving distance of major airports. Looking for unique vacations that will leave you in awe? Hoping to find places to travel in the US that will make you inspired? Let's take a cross-country road trip from the West Coast to the East Coast. Here are the many cool places to visit in the US.

  2. Top 30 Unusual Places to Visit in the USA

    Most people stick to the major, world-famous sites, such as the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, or Disneyland. However, if you want a truly unique experience, consider visiting a more unusual place. When your friends and family hear about your trip, they will be jealous as well as inspired to follow your lead.

  3. 18 Exotic Places to Travel Right in The U.S.

    Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado Best Places to Stay The most exotic hike in the United States can arguably be found in Colorado's Great Sand Dunes National Park. Reminiscent of the Gobi or the Sahara, it sits between the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the San Juan Mountains.

  4. 10,797 Cool and Unusual Things to Do in United States

    10,794 Cool and Unusual Things to Do in United States - Atlas Obscura Discover 10794 hidden attractions, cool sights, and unusual things to do in United States from Old City Hall Station to...

  5. 35 Unique & Unknown Places to Visit in the US

    Unique Places to Visit in the US 1. Ausable Chasm, New York Ausable Chasm is truly a hidden gem and one of the natural wonders in Western New York. Although New York City tends to hoard all of the state's glory, this spot is about five hours northwest.

  6. USA Bucket List: 50 Best Places to Visit in the US

    … But that won't stop us from trying to enjoy as many of the most amazing vacations in the United States as we can. We teamed up with several other travel bloggers to put together this giant USA bucket list, and definitely added a few new spots to our personal list of places to see in the US in the process!

  7. 68 Best Places to Visit in the USA in 2024 (Ultimate Bucket List)

    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

  8. 27 Best Hidden Vacation Spots in the US to Visit in 2024

    26. Leavenworth, Washington Bavarian folk culture is alive and well in Leavenworth, Washington. This mountain town is home to pastel colored buildings, authentic beer halls, and alpine accommodations that look like they belong in the Bavarian Alps rather than the Pacific Northwest. Leavenworth is as close as you can get to Germany in the USA.

  9. 10 Unusual places to visit in the US

    Centralia, Pennsylvania Cairo, Illinois Jackson, Wyoming Bodie, California Savannah, Georgia Trinidad, California Little Switzerland, North Carolina Silver City, New Mexico Spokane, Washington Helpful Resources Things to know before you travel the USA Do not forget your visa.

  10. 26 COOL Places to Visit in the US

    New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Diego are all popular cities, and places like Miami beach, Yellowstone National Park, or Yosemite are nature spots that are very popular as well. However there are so many more cool places to visit in the US that are unique in their own way.

  11. USA Bucket List

    Geysers at Yellowstone Watch on Discovered in 1870, the Old Faithful geyser was named for its frequent eruptions, which is more than a million since it became the world's first national park. Thermal features change constantly and Old Faithful may stop erupting someday. Old Faithful erupts every 35 to 120 minutes for 1 1/2 to 5 minutes.

  12. 25 Unique Vacations & Places to Visit in USA

    1. Jules' Undersea Lodge, Key Largo, Florida © Jules' Undersea Lodge Jules' Undersea Lodge is the world's first underwater hotel. Located at the bottom of the lagoon at Key Largo Undersea Park, Jules' offers overnight stays in the underwater abode, as well as scuba diving courses and underwater adventures.

  13. 50 U.S. Attractions to Cross Off Your Bucket List

    From lesser-known national parks with alpine lakes or desert scenery to postcard-worthy natural wonders such as Carmel-by-the-Sea's craggy seaside cliffs and Sedona's crimson rock formations,...

  14. 12 best places to visit in the USA

    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 entrances with its diversity.

  15. 35 most beautiful places to visit in the US

    Half Dome and El Capitan are two of the granite cliffs made famous by photographer Ansel Adams. Especially worth a visit are the 317-foot Vernal Fall, beautiful Mirror Lake, and Yosemite Falls, the fifth tallest waterfall in the world. The shops and restaurants of Yosemite Village are also popular. Where to stay.

  16. 30 BEST Places to Visit in the USA (inc Things to Do) in 2024!

    Located in Arizona, the Grand Canyon National Park is the most impressive natural landscape in all of the United States. The Colorado River weaves through red bedrock for over 277 miles carving unique landforms, amazing waterfalls, and offering picture-perfect backdrops.

  17. The 50 Most Beautiful Places in the U.S.

    With its rocky shores, crashing surf, and coastal mountain hiking trails, Acadia National Park has a special place on Maine's most beautiful places list. Get there via Coastal Highway U.S. 1 and ...

  18. Unusual Places in USA

    3 4 Next › Last » Discover the unique and off-the-beaten-path destinations in the USA with our guide to the most unusual places to visit. From natural wonders to man-made marvels, these hidden gems are worth exploring.

  19. Best Places to Visit in the USA for 2023-2024

    Honolulu - Oahu Yellowstone National Park Zion National Park Yosemite National Park Grand Teton National Park Olympic National Park Kaua'i Moab Lake Tahoe New York City San Francisco Washington,...

  20. 35+ Best Hidden Vacation Spots in the US to Visit in 2024

    These are just a few of the places in this guide, but they stand out for various reasons. 👨‍👨‍👦 One of the best hidden vacation gems for families: Broken Bow, Oklahoma. 🏝 One of the most underrated places to visit in USA for beaches: Jekyll Island, Georgia. 🌌 One of the best USA hidden gems for stargazing: Big Bend National ...

  21. 9 cool and unique things to do in the US

    From Washington to Florida, some of the United States' most memorable travel destinations are also the country's strangest. Americans hit the road just to see roadside attractions like the world's largest ball of twine in Kansas, drive through a giant redwood tree in California, discover The Thing in Arizona and take in the ornate Corn Palace in South Dakota.

  22. 50 Most Beautiful Places In The US To Visit In Your Lifetime

    Appreciate nature through unique wildlife, some of which is prehistoric, and gaze in awe and wonder over clear bodies of water, formed by glaciers over the years. 12. The Wave, Arizona/Utah. The Wave. Arizona is full of amazing sandstone rock formations, and one that easily ranks among beautiful places is the Wave.

  23. 10 Of The Most Unique Places To Visit In New Mexico

    Location: Carlsbad, NM. Top Attractions: The Big Room, Slaughter Canyon Cave, Lechuguilla Cave. Take the self-guided Natural Entrance route down into the cave to experience the 750-foot descent ...

  24. 6 Unique Places To Visit In The U.S. That Will Blow Your Mind

    Here are a few truly unique places to visit in the U.S. that will blow your mind. 1. Umpqua National Forest, South Oregon. Oregon is famous for so many things. Just some of them are vibrant and always green Portland, Mt. Hood, Columbia River Gorge scenic drive, green clear lakes, rivers, breathtaking waterfalls, hot springs, mountains, and much ...

  25. 9 Top All-Inclusive Resorts in Costa Rica for 2024

    By Sharael Kolberg. |. March 8, 2023, at 3:00 p.m. 12 Top Costa Rica All-Inclusive Resorts. (Courtesy of Lapa Ríos Lodge) Experience top all-inclusive amenities at resorts in lush rainforests or ...