The Best Vacation Spots in Every U.S. State from The Best Vacation Spot in Every U.S. State
The Best Vacation Spot in Every U.S. State
The Best Vacation Spots in Every U.S. State
The number of international travel for vacation purposes has dropped, and half of trips abroad are to Canada and Mexico. Part of the reason is that the U.S. is a big country with plenty to see. From possible solo trips to a beach, exciting couple’s getaways and week-long escapades with the entire family to a secluded island, the vacation spots on the following list were picked due to their recreational and adventurous potential. No two locations are the same.
Alabama—The Gulf Shores
This small coastal city is growing in popularity. The Alabama Gulf Coast offers something for everyone. Swimming, sunbathing, surfing, and skim boarding are equally enjoyable on the beaches. Fishing is big there, too. Charter fleets leave every day. The Gulf Shores has a lot of wildlife nature trails. Try a zip line course over the waters of Lake Shelby and get a break from those sugar-white clear sandy beaches. As for nightlife – there is a concert or another kind of music event happening almost every day. The zoo is great and putt-putt golf is always hit.
Anchorage is all about a combination of incredible adventures and metropolitan appeal. With national parks nearby and 60 glaciers a short drive away, it's a dream destination. It is one of the best places to experience the summer solstice. The city is also great because of its proximity to the incomparably beautiful six million acre Denali National Park. It is home to the tallest peak on the continent, incredible wildlife and some of the most stunning natural scenery anywhere. Climb Denali, formerly known as Mount McKinley, go dog sledding, hiking, and take advantage of the opportunity to see the spectacular Northern Lights.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a natural wonder revered by many. It is one of the most visited national parks in the country and for many good reasons. The colossal canyon has beckoned people to its cutaway gorges for hundreds of years. The almost two billion years of geological history is a landmark whose importance is evident at first sight. Hike the Bright Angel Trail, visit the Grand Canyon Village, raft the winding Colorado River, or take a bike tour—adventurers will not be disappointed. Visit in the spring for comfortable temperatures. Hiking, biking, overnight backpacking, and trips along the canyon rim are all available.
Arkansas—Hot Springs National Park
The “American Spa,” which has healing and soothing thermal waters, has more than 25 miles of trails boasting stunning wildlife and creeks. Go camping in this beautiful and unique national park before the summer brings hot temperatures and unbearable humidity. All camping at Gulpha Gorge Campground costs $30 per night, unless you have a special pass. All sites can accommodate tents or RVs. All sites, which are available on first come basis, have full hookups and water and sewer connections, according to NPS. No reservations.
Santa Barbara is often referred to as the “American Riviera.” The seaside city claims the perfect mixture of festive and laid-back settings, weather that is always just right, and educational cultural establishments. Nights are filled with partying and relaxation. You will find the crowds you’re looking for– from wild and rowdy to the more calm and sophisticated. Go to The Neighborhood for a typical Santa Barbara bar experience, including fun games and an easygoing atmosphere; visit The Velvet Jones or The James Joyce for some of the best live music and cocktails; and explore wine country with various tours.
Aspen is known as one of the absolute best places to ski in North America, but it is a perfect little mountain town for other seasons as well. Snuggled between the Rockies, this charming small mountain town is a favorite summer destination as well. Try skeet shooting or go on a thrilling river tour. With summits higher than 14,000 feet, there is always something to see and explore. Festivals showing off art, wine and music are scheduled year-round, many in the summer. Visit Maroon Bells, one of the most photographed peaks in the country, take your family summer camping in the wilderness, or go ballooning and paragliding.
For an authentic New England charm between New York and Boston consider visiting the relaxed but also fairly well-known vacation destination of Mystic Country. Mystic Seaport, the nation’s leading maritime museum, is a must-see. Explore American maritime history first-hand as you climb aboard historic tall ships, stroll through a re-created 19th-century coastal village or watch a working preservation shipyard in action. Visit the Mystic Arts Center, hike in the Bluff Point State Park, explore the 1,000-acre Barn Island Wildlife Management Area, and take a day trip to Mason’s Island for some swimming, fishing and lots of fun.
Delaware— Dewey Beach
This is where vacationers go for days filled with lots of sun, nice weather, thrilling water adventures along ocean beaches, and nights filled with partying. Boating, parasailing, wake boarding, water skiing, windsurfing, and dolphin watching are popular activities. You will find plenty of nightclubs with live music and lots of dancing. Don’t miss the serene experience of watching sunset views of the bay. Enjoy Monday Movie nights on the beach, grab a Jolly Trolley shuttle to Rehoboth Beach to stroll the boardwalk, and make the most of tax-free shopping at the Tanger Outlets, according to Visit Delaware.
Golf players are going to love this place and its more than 70 scenic courses. The sub-tropical climate won’t disappoint either. The island offers plenty of water activities if you want to get off the ground for a change. Boating, kayaking and water-skiing are very popular there. Fishing can be very entertaining – you may catch a fish you haven’t seen before. You may be surprised, but bird watching is popular there too because of the 230 kinds of birds inhabiting the area. Sanibel Island & Captiva provide the perfect vacation spot – 15 miles of beaches, 25 miles of bike paths, 250 kinds of shells and, most importantly, zero traffic lights.
The 5,700 acre island is stunning any time of year, but its charm is most striking in the spring and fall. Bikers will love it here. Jekyll Island features about 25 miles of paved trails along which you can explore beaches, forests, the Historic Landmark District, as well as campgrounds. The bike paths also wander past some of the showplace “cottages” that are remnants of the island’s aristocratic past. Explore the 10 miles of white sand beaches, 63 holes of golf, the Summer Waves Water Park, the fishing pier; go on dolphin and horseback riding tours; and visit nature centers.
The pristine sand beaches, lavish jungle-like rain forests and enormous green cloud-covered mountains with majestic waterfalls cascading down to the beaches below make the island one of the most beautiful places anywhere on Earth. The 22-mile-long (round trip) Kalalau Trail is gorgeous. It provides the only foot access to the spectacular Na Pali Coast and the hidden beaches along the way. Kauai is home to the breathtaking Hali’i Falls where you can actually swim. You can only get to the multifaceted waterfall by hiking through a bamboo forest, which is an adventure in itself.
Snuggled in the Rocky Mountains, beneath the shadow of the mighty Grand Teton, Idaho Falls is an adventurous place worth exploring during a vacation. People are known for their hospitality and the recreational opportunities are endless. A walk along the Snake River Greenbelt is a popular activity because of the stunning views of the falls, the river, LDS Temple, and the city. Take the kids to the zoo at Tautphaus Park. They will love it. Have a picnic and enjoy the park afterwards. Explore great paths in the midst of lava flow that is several thousand years old at the Hell’s Half Acre. The trails were (are?) nice, paved and well designed, according to reviews.
The Second City is an ideal destination for boaters. During the summer, residents have plenty of lakes to choose from, including the fifth largest in the world, Lake Michigan. The iconic Navy Pier is a must-see. The landmark is famous because it’s on the shoreline of Lake Michigan. Spring is the time to go to enjoy the annual flower and garden show, which lures more than 40,000 garden enthusiasts and newbies every year from across the Midwest. Chicago is one of the best places to celebrate the Fourth of July, it won’t break the bank if you go there for Labor Day, and it has some of the best bike paths in the country.
Indiana—Indiana Dunes State Park
Set on the shores of Lake Michigan, these 15 miles of state park coast are known as some of the best lakefront beaches in the country. If sun and sand aren’t for you, the park has more than 70 miles of hiking and biking trails which wind through dunes, forests, prairies, and marshes. The large sand dunes, located beyond the entire shoreline, have taken thousands of years to form, and tower nearly 200 feet above the lake. The park consists of 2,182 acres of primitive and unique Hoosier landscape. Vacationers’ favorite activities include fishing, picnicking, hiking, cross country skiing in the winter, bird watching, and camping.
Nestled in the towering bluffs of the Mississippi River valley, the city is home to a variety of both challenging and leisurely biking opportunities, according to Travel Dubuque. The city and its surroundings are also home to several stunning parks filled with history, gorgeous scenery, and activities for everyone. Soar high through the breathtaking Mississippi River Valley on a guided tour at Sky Tours Zipline. The kids will love the indoor water park. The Grand Harbor Resort and Waterpark is 25,000 sq. ft. and has a lazy river, all kinds of tube riders and waterslides, as well as cannons and rope ladders.
Wichita is one of the best value destinations for 2017. The no longer quiet, small town is booming and modern. But it’s still a great place to visit if you want to see remnants of the Old West. Learn about it at the Old Cowtown Museum or explore the Museum of Ancient Treasures for a more unconventional experience. Marvel some of the best art by Plains Indian artists at the Indian Center Museum. See how the aviation industry has evolved through the years at the Kansas Aviation Museum. But history is not all there is in Wichita. There is plenty of wildlife to encounter at the zoo.
Kentucky—Cities along the Bourbon Trail
This unique road trip is strictly for old enough admirers and anyone who would like to know more about this unique American beverage. Explore the bourbon capital of the world – Kentucky. You can make this trip, a perfect guy’s getaway, as long as possible, depending on how many distilleries you visit. You will get an idea of the scientific process behind making this native to America spirit while also enjoying the stunning setting in the Bluegrass State. There are plenty of other bourbon experiences in Louisville, Lawrenceburg, Bardstown or Clermont. Some even offer classes on how to make your own bourbon.
You won’t make a mistake booking a trip there. As the Cajun French say, “Laissez les bons temps rouler”—let the good times roll. New Orleans is a destination unlike any other, steeped in history, famous fare and good times. Best known for Mardi Gras, the city has earned a wild reputation and Bourbon Street is always worth a stroll, but there’s more to the city than a stretch of bars. Visit the historic French Quarter, tour the Garden District and take one of the amazing ghost tours that winds through bars, alleyways, and cemeteries. There is plenty to do besides eating and drinking. The city has live music in almost every bar (and corner) at night.
One of the very best places to see incredible fall displays is quaint Bar Harbor. Located at the edge of the sea, Bar Harbor has the perfect combination of adventure or romance opportunities. It is also the artistic and food hub of Mount Desert Island. Another bonus is the easy access to one of the top ranked national parks in the country – Acadia. The city also has some of the best little-known beaches in the U.S. Hike the Compass Harbor Nature Trail on Route 3 to add extra excitement (or fear) to your trip. It was once a trail walked by George Dorr, who was also the park’s first superintendent. He died there when he was walking with his caretaker. It is he who supposedly continues to watch from behind the trees.
This is a great Spring Break, bachelor party and family-fun destination. Enjoy the live music, play mini golf, ride bikes, and try new watersports. The resort city has plenty to offer – boardwalk for awesome days at the beach and fun party nights. The shorelines stretch for about 10 miles along the state’s eastern coast. Get on some amazing amusement park rides by the water, parasail across the ocean, or just enjoy the powdery sand. Rent a boat for the day and go jet skiing on the ocean.
The hook-shaped peninsula is a popular summertime destination. Cape Cod National Seashore comprises 43,604 acres of shoreline and upland landscape features, including a 40-mile long stretch of pristine sandy beach, dozens of clear, deep, freshwater kettle ponds, and upland scenes that depict evidence of how people have used the land. Take a boat tour or ride a bike on one of the popular trails. Make time for the Coast Guard Beach, a prime swimming beach. Take the bicycle trail bridge where people can see shorebirds working the tidal flats in the warmer months, according to NPS. The outer beach, or “backside,” of Cape Cod has been the infamous graveyard for more than 3,000 ships since the 1600’s.
The Grand Haven Area is a year-round vacation spot, always offering fun things to do. Outstanding biking and hiking are available in the spring, while superb beaches lure people of all “outdoors” types all to celebrate summer. Fall demands a charter fishing excursion when the salmon run or an autumn climb on the daunting-yet-picturesque sand dunes; and winter is full of activity with snow sports of all sorts, from sled racing and downhill skiing to snowkiting, snowshoeing, and snowboarding, according to Visit Grand Haven.
Minnesota—Voyageurs National Park
The Voyageurs National Park is not the most famous place for camping because most campsites are quite remote. You will actually need a boat to reach them. So if you’re looking for peace of mind, isolated camping and a copious number of water activities, consider this park. If you don’t have your own vessel, go on a guided boat tour to see the natural beauty of the park. Backcountry camping is also permitted anywhere in the park.
Biloxi Shrimping Trip was voted No. 1 attraction in the state. Go on a shrimping expedition and learn everything you ever wanted to know about catching, cooking, and eating the tasty southern delicacy in authentic Mississippi Gulf Coast style. If you’re not big into casinos, explore the Ship Island. You’ll see the beautiful beach and swimming area with, perhaps, more dolphins than you think. And it’s just a quick boat ride away. There is also a Mardi Gras museum you’ll enjoy visiting, especially because of the elaborate costumes.
Outdoor fun, zip line rides, attractions like the Hollywood Wax Museum, live shows, amazing acrobats, and animals – Branson has it all. Nature lovers won’t be disappointed either. They have access to thrilling opportunities for hiking, biking, camping, canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding, trout and bass fishing, hunting, trap and skeet shooting, spelunking, and rock climbing. Branson also made the list of the most pet-friendly vacation destinations and the best trail running towns in the U.S.
Montana – Glacier National Park
Pristine forests, incredible mountains, stunning lakes, and spectacular hikes are just some of the many things you have to look forward to when on vacation in Glacier National Park. The park has over 700 miles of trails and is home to over 70 species of mammals and over 260 species of birds. Explore Glacier by road, trail or stream; go on a hike, bike around the park, go fishing, boating, and even take a trail ride. Make sure you experience The Going-to-the-Sun Road; it’s a scenic drive that takes you through the heart of the park over Logan Pass.
Nebraska – Lincoln
The capital of Nebraska, Lincoln, is home to the Sunken Gardens, a must-visit attraction. It features a floral display that consists of over 30,000 individual annual plants which are redesigned to a different theme each year. Other things to do there include taking a tour through the Memorial Stadium, wandering around the Lincoln Children’s Museum with the kids, attending a sporting event at the Pinnacle Bank Arena, and wandering around the beautiful Pioneer Park Nature Center.
Nevada – Las Vegas
Contrary to what many people believe, you don’t have to be a high-roller to vacation in Las Vegas. You can view magical gardens, hike spectacular trails, and watch live entertainment for free any day of the week. However, those of you who are looking for fancy casinos and thrilling adventures are in for the time of your lives. Las Vegas is full of adrenaline inducing attractions, some of which include the Skyjump, Big Shot, Insanity, and X-Scream rides – all located at the Stratosphere.
New Hampshire – Bretton Woods
Bretton Woods is New Hampshire’s largest ski area, but the fun doesn’t begin when snow falls. There’s an activity for everyone at this mountain. High-end lodging and top-tier food help make it a stand-out destination. Go on an amazing canopy tour descending over 1,000 feet of elevation. The 3-hour tour takes thrill-seekers across many tree-top zip lines high in the ancient hemlocks.
Gary C. Tognoni/Shutterstock.com
New Jersey – Ocean City
Home to one of the best beaches for surfing in North America, Ocean City is an awesome family vacation destination. Their boardwalk treats are delicious; there are plenty of amusement park rides and attractions to choose from; and they maintain some of the most beautiful vacation homes on the entire shore.
New Mexico – Albuquerque
This charming and thrilling city in New Mexico will fulfill all of your vacation desires. The mountain range is a stunning site, the sun shines almost year-round, and there are plenty of outdoor adventures to embark on – trail running, biking, hiking. But possibly the most popular reason to visit – the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Watch as hundreds of hot air balloons take flight, experience a laser light show, fireworks, and AIBF chainsaw carving demonstrations.
New York – Adirondacks
The best vacation destination in New York for outdoor enthusiasts, the Adirondacks, boasts opportunities that range from hiking and boating in Saranac Lake to skiing and snowboarding at Whiteface Mountain. Lake Placid is also a popular vacation destination; it’s a gorgeous mountain town, famous for its Olympic attractions – Empire State Winter Games and gorgeous resorts, one of which includes the famous lakeshore resort, the Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa.
North Carolina – Asheville
You will never get bored in this stunning mountain town. Asheville is home to famous historic attractions, delicious food and gorgeous gardens. It’s only a short drive away from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park where you can indulge in such activities as wine tasting, horseback riding, fly-fishing, zip-lining, and hiking the untouched mountains surrounding the city. You can also go on steam engine rides on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.
North Dakota – Fargo
This small town, one of the cleanest in the world, is mostly famous for a motion picture from 1996 that has the same name and for a similar TV drama series. There are plenty of things to do and see; visit the Red River Zoo, watch a sports game at the Newman Outdoor Field, and go shopping in the West Acres Shopping Center. Those of you who enjoy the outdoors will also be pleased to know that there is an abundance of hiking trails to choose from. Some of the best trails are located in Beaver Lake State Park, Cross Ranch State Park and Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park.
Ohio – Cleveland
Cleveland is full of museums, markets, historical sites, and beautiful architecture. Stay in this city for the chance to visit one of the country’s most famous national parks – Cuyahoga Valley National Park. While you are there view native plants and wildlife, go biking, explore over 125 miles of hiking trails, and go canoeing and golfing.
Oklahoma – Tulsa
The second largest city in Oklahoma, Tulsa, has some of the best and safest drinking water in America. It’s an incredible family vacation destination. Bring the kids to Big Splash Waterpark; go hiking in the Oxley Nature Center and explore more than 800 acres of natural preserves; view the gorgeous rose garden in the Tulsa Garden Center; and go for a run in the Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area.
Oregon – Astoria
Historic Astoria is home to stunning views, beautiful beaches, a variety of museums, and the Ecola State Park. Explore Indian beach, a little-known beach popular among beachgoers and surfers, famous for its tide pools and gorgeous scenery. Visitors will enjoy views of spectacular rock formations off Ecola Point to the south.
Pennsylvania – Skytop
Experience nature at its best, adventures like you may have never imagined and a peaceful haven at the Skytop Lodge. Nestled in the Pocono Mountains atop 500 acres, you and your family will have plenty of activities to choose from. Go boating, biking, cross-country skiing, dogsledding, fishing, hiking, and ice skating. A recent review on Trip Advisor said: “Beautiful classic charm. Great service, beautiful grounds and lodge. Everyone here makes your stay wonderful. Several different dining types are offered for whatever you are in the mood for. Always something to do.”
Rhode Island – Providence
This is the capital of Rhode Island and one of the oldest cities in the United States. It has lively dining, arts and theater scenes. Low-cost events and attractions are available throughout the city. For instance, the RISD Museum is free every third Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and admission to the Botanical Center at Roger Williams Park only costs $5 for adults and $2 for children.
South Carolina – Myrtle Beach
Myrtle Beach will be one of your most memorable family vacations. Have some fun at the beach, take the kids to the Brookgreen Zoo, explore the Ripley’s Aquarium, and walk through the WonderWorks museum. For some water fun, plan a day at the Myrtle Beach waterpark; after that, hop on the SkyWheel and capture views of Myrtle Beach in a completely different way. At night, take your family back in time to the Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament. Enjoy a night of jousting and cheering as your knight fights for victory.
South Dakota – Sioux Falls
Contrary to what many people believe, you can take a vacation without going broke. Head to Sioux Falls and watch free Moonlight Movies in Fawick Park on Saturday nights; go for an inexpensive bike ride along the Big Sioux River Greenway; head to McKennan Park for kid-friendly, free theater performances; and purchase an all-day pass — $1 per person — for the Sioux Falls Trolley.
Tennessee – Spencer
Fall Creek Falls State Park, located in Spencer, is the largest and most visited state park in Tennessee. It offers visitors an abundance of outdoor recreation opportunities. The waterfall, which the park is named after, is one of the tallest in the eastern United States, standing at 256 feet. Hikers will enjoy more than 34 miles of trails. Other things to do there include exploring the interactive nature center and playing golf at the 18-hole golf course.
Texas – Austin
Austin is absolutely beautiful any time of year and a perfect vacation destination for people who love adventure. The city has warm weather nearly year-round, making recreational activities a favorite pastime for residents and visitors. On hot days you can cool off by kayaking on the river, go swimming, or take out a boat to a nearby lake. Austin also has a bustling nightlife, gorgeous sunrises, delicious food, and incredible festivals.
Utah – Salt Lake City
Between national parks, festivals, and plenty of winter fun, Salt Lake City makes for a perfect weekend getaway, especially if you’re on a budget. Traveling is cheap and easy; according to NUMBEO, a one-way ticket on local transport is only $2.50. Take public transportation to Liberty Park — Utah’s oldest public park; Visit Dimple Dell Nature Park — a nature preserve that offers free hiking opportunities; and explore tons of free museums, two of which include the Fort Douglass Military Museum and Pioneer Memorial Museum.
Vermont – Swanton
Since 1933, the Tyler Place Family Resort, located in Swanton, has been taking pride in their all-inclusive family vacations. Kids and adults have separate programs to choose from; there is a variety of programs for the entire family and even opportunities for romance. As a family you will have fun biking, kayaking, canoeing, and paddle boating. Parents will enjoy evening entertainment which includes live music, lakeside bonfires, and an adult bar and fireplace lounge.
Virginia – Virginia Beach
This resort city is the perfect family getaway. It is home to miles of beaches and hundreds of hotels. Take the kids to Ocean Breeze Waterpark and have fun on over 30 rides, slides, and attractions; head to the Virginia Aquarium and explore coastal habitats from around the world; then venture out to the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and journey through 8,000 acres of sand dunes, ponds, maritime forests, and fresh water marshes.
Washington – Seattle
Few cities are as tough to describe or as worthy of exploration as ever-changing Seattle. With each neighborhood carving out its own slice of culture, there is no shortage of things to do or see. Revel in the rich art and music scene, dine in incredible new restaurants, or check out nearby outdoor adventures and hike the North Cascades or paddle Puget Sound.
Flickr/ Randon Michelle/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
West Virginia – Berkeley Springs
Berkeley Spring is a gorgeous mountain town, especially in the summer. It’s famous for the abundance of bathhouses due to the many natural springs flowing through town. Berkeley Springs State Park, in the center of the historic spa town, is a unique natural playground that kids love. Adults can enjoy a healing and relaxing dip in the park’s heated Roman baths. The George Washington’s Bath Tub is a children’s favorite. There are picnic tables, green lawns, and free summer concerts every Saturday afternoon in July and August.
Wisconsin – Madison
Madison, the capital of Wisconsin, is one of the least stressed cities in the U.S. The locals are friendly, the culture is incredible, and the food is delicious. Head to downtown Madison and embark on a day hike to Picnic Point; spend the day relaxing by the lake. Also try Madison Log Rolling, hike the Ice Age National Scenic Trail and go kayaking, boating, and cycling.
Wyoming – Jackson Hole
If you are looking for a peaceful vacation, look no farther than Jackson Hole. Spring Creek Ranch is set in a wildlife refuge approximately 700 feet above Jackson Valley. It offers the most incredible jaw-dropping views of the Tetons. They have a relaxing spa, outdoor headed pool and a highly acclaimed restaurant with a gorgeous view. If winter sports are more your thing, head to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. It is home to the Corbet’s Couloir, an extremely popular expert ski run and one of the most famous ski resorts in the country.