Best Places to Visit in the USA
From coastlines to big cities, the United States is made up of so many diverse destinations that it's hard to decide which places deserve the distinction of the best in America. That's why U.S. News considered a variety of factors, such as attractions, accommodations and dining options, as well as votes from thousands of travelers, to determine the best places to visit in the USA. Use this list for your vacation planning, and cast your vote below to have a say in next year's list. And if you're looking for lodging, see the Best Hotels in the USA » (Note: Some of the below destinations may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Check with the CDC and the U.S. Department of State before traveling.)
#1 in Best Places to Visit in the USA
To experience some of the most inspiring views America has to offer, plan a trip to Grand Canyon National Park. The Colorado River weaves its way through the 277-mile-long canyon, making it a top destination for whitewater rafting. The Arizona park is also a superb spot to hike, offering scenic paths like the Bright Angel and North Kaibab trails. Regardless of how you choose to spend your time in the Grand Canyon, you're sure to feel small against its towering rock formations and expansive vistas.
#2 in Best Places to Visit in the USA
A vacation at Yosemite National Park in California is all about reconnecting with nature. Spend your visit checking out famous landmarks like Half Dome and Glacier Point or hiking Cathedral Lakes, the Mist Trail and other popular paths. You'll also want to save time for admiring Yosemite's numerous waterfalls, including the towering Yosemite Falls, which is one of the tallest waterfalls in the world. If you're not one for camping, opt for a daytrip from San Francisco, Sacramento or Lake Tahoe.
#3 in Best Places to Visit in the USA
America's first national park provides plenty of attractions to excite nature lovers, from steaming geysers to bubbling hot springs to hiking trails that stretch more than 900 miles. Plus, animal fans will appreciate a visit to the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center to learn about local wildlife. If you'd rather look for wild critters inside the park, spend a few hours driving through the Hayden and Lamar valleys. Both areas are considered popular havens for Yellowstone National Park's resident bison, wolves and grizzly bears.
#4 in Best Places to Visit in the USA
With idyllic beaches and verdant parks, Maui offers ample opportunities to relax. Here, you can spend your days admiring the scenery as you cruise along the Road to Hana, fly above the island in a helicopter or lounge across the black sands of Waianapanapa State Park. If you'd rather cool off than sunbathe, sign up for a snorkeling tour. Sampling Maui's seafood is also a must, but don't overlook other island delicacies like haupia, a creamy coconut custard.
Glacier National Park
#5 in Best Places to Visit in the USA
Glaciers are the main draw of this national park, but its more than 700 lakes, two mountain ranges and multiple waterfalls are equally impressive. Hiking is the park's most popular pastime, though the area is also a prime spot for canoeing and fishing in the summer and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing during the winter. Plus, wild animals like moose, bears and elk are frequently spotted here.
New York City
#6 in Best Places to Visit in the USA
Known for its diverse cultural scene, the Big Apple boasts so many things to do that it puts most of its U.S. peers to shame. Whether you choose to spend the day perusing the Metropolitan Museum of Art's exhibits, catching a show on Broadway or trying the city's famous New York-style pizza, chances are you'll never find yourself feeling bored here. When you need some respite from the city's busy street life and soaring skyscrapers, retreat to scenic Central Park or the artsy High Line
#7 in Best Places to Visit in the USA
San Francisco's culture has been affected by diverse ethnic groups and many social movements. The best way to get a glimpse of the City by the Bay's character is to explore its neighborhoods on foot or by cable car. From the Mission to the Castro, visitors will find various boutiques and eateries serving authentic regional cuisine like Mexican, Italian or Chinese. Just be sure to come prepared with a sturdy pair of walking shoes and some sunscreen.
#8 in Best Places to Visit in the USA
Few American cities are home to cultures as unique as the Big Easy's. Offering a blend of influences from the Caribbean, Europe and other locales, New Orleans has a distinct personality. Music lovers flock here to immerse themselves in the city's rich jazz, blues and rock 'n' roll scenes. Meanwhile, foodies can feast on everything from gumbo to beignets to po'boys in between sightseeing. After filling up on tasty fare, check out Bourbon Street's nightlife or sign up for an evening ghost tour.
Honolulu - Oahu
#9 in Best Places to Visit in the USA
Oahu features a nice balance of urban and beach environments. And with pleasant weather year-round, there really is no wrong time to visit. Waikiki Beach promises to please, but be forewarned: There's a good chance a barrage of tourists will greet you. For more elbow room, head to Kailua's Lanikai Beach. Before leaving, carve out some time for visiting Honolulu naval sights like the Pearl Harbor National Memorial and the Battleship Missouri Memorial.
Zion National Park
#10 in Best Places to Visit in the USA
Awe-inspiring panoramas are available everywhere you turn in Zion National Park. This protected area in Utah features massive freestanding arches that appeal to hikers, bikers and climbers. Zion National Park is also a prime spot to try canyoneering, which combines rappelling with swimming and hiking. Those who prefer hiking will have a variety of trails to choose from, including traveler favorites like the easy Pa'rus Trail and the Narrows, a challenging trek through the narrowest section of Zion Canyon.
Grand Teton National Park
#11 in Best Places to Visit in the USA
In Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming's snow-topped Teton Mountains rub elbows with the Snake River, Jackson and Jenny lakes, wildflower fields, swamps and more. Climbing Grand Teton and trekking trails like Taggart Lake are two common ways to take in the park's natural beauty, but if you're looking to exert less energy, explore the region by car or boat. Don't focus too much on the horizon, though, as moose, elk, bears and bison all call the park home and occasionally wander near visitors.
#12 in Best Places to Visit in the USA
The nation's capital has a lot going for it. Iconic landmarks like the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument allow you to sightsee for days. Plus, the city's plethora of Smithsonian museums gives you plenty to do on rainy or hot days. When the weather cooperates, explore some of the District of Columbia's green spaces, such as the U.S. National Arboretum or Rock Creek Park. And no visit would be complete without checking out the city's lively restaurant and bar scene.