From the east coast to the west, America is a diverse landscape with gorgeous state parks, iconic attractions, memorable scenic drives and world-class museums. Each state is unique and offers travelers an experience filled with culture, natural beauty and delectable foods worth a spot on their Insta feeds.
If your USA bucket list goals include catching a Broadway show in a big city, experiencing all the outdoor activities our National Parks have to offer or searching out the best small-town breweries, there’s a destination on this list of top USA vacations for you!
1. Chicago, Illinois
Museums, architecture and pizza—Chicago has all of the makings of an eventful and delicious vacation destination! Head to the top of the 360 Chicago Observation Deck for a bird’s eye view of the city or set out on the famous Chicago river for a guided tour of the city’s breathtaking architecture from the water’s edge. Bringing the kids along? There are plenty of fun kid-friendly activities in the city, plus several free things to do to make a Chicago family vacation affordable.
When hunger strikes, you won’t have to look far because Chicago is brimming with amazing places to eat. Be sure to sample some of the area’s well-known and loved Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, and make room for a Chicago-style hot dog and an original recipe brownie while you’re there. Fun Fact: did you know the brownie was actually invented in Chicago in 1893? Reason enough to add it to your bucket list? I think so!
2. Mackinac Island, Michigan
Catch a ferry to this Lake Huron island and find yourself transported back in time. Once there you can view natural wonders like Arch Rock, shop small town stores or sample freshly made fudge from the many chocolate shops lining main street. The most important thing to know, however, is that the island is completely motor-vehicle free. This rule that you must ride on a carriage, bike, take a horse or walk is honestly my favorite part of the experience!
If you’re ready to splurge, book a stay at the Grand Hotel. This iconic American vacation spot dates all the way back to 1887 when it first opened its doors as a summer retreat for vacationers. Today, families flock to this luxury island resort to enjoy afternoon tea in the Parlor, croquet or bocce ball games on the lawn and one of the most unique golf courses in the country.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Want a closer look at the Mackinac Bridge? Book a Mighty Mac departure ticket (it’s the same price as a normal ticket!) from Shepler’s Ferry and take a ride under the bridge on your way to the island. It makes for an amazing photo opportunity!
3. Sandusky/Lake Erie Shore, Ohio
If you can’t decide between a beach vacation or a high-thrill adventure, book your ticket to the Lake Erie Shore! In Sandusky, Ohio you’ll find ‘The Roller Coaster Capital of the World’ Cedar Point, Kalahari Resorts Indoor Waterpark and Castaway Bay Indoor Waterpark. Beyond these wet and wild adventures, you can wander out to the shores of Lake Erie for some additional fun in the sun. Maybe even check a few lighthouses off your list.
Sandusky is also just a short drive away from Put-In-Bay, Ohio’s own island which is fondly called the “Key West of the North”. Known for its adult-friendly nightlife, stunning views of the water and historic sites, you’ll want to add Put-In-Bay as a day trip excursion while visiting the Lake Erie Shore.
Best places to stay near Sandusky, Ohio: Castaway Bay, Sawmill Creek by Cedar Point Resorts, Holiday Inn Express & Suites Port Clinton-Catawba Island
4. Orlando, Florida
Home to four major theme parks,
With warmer temperatures, Orlando is a great destination to visit year-round. You can find lots of vacation rentals with pools in the area and tons of amazing themed hotels. Wherever you go in Orlando, you’re sure to find some magic!
5. New York City, New York
NYC is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that caters to everyone. Sail around America’s most famous monument, the Statue of Liberty, and spend some time at Ellis Island Museum searching for fascinating facts to tell the story of your family’s history. Head over to explore one of the area’s world-renowned museums or take a leisurely stroll around Central Park.
In NYC, there are also plenty of opportunities to act like a foodie and taste new and unique flavors. As a melting-pot city, the area is full of various authentic ethnic foods. Some of our favorites to try are Carmine’s for mouth-watering Italian food family style, Junior’s for a creamy NYC cheesecake and Russ & Daughters for an authentic NYC bagel.
Even though it’s the city that never sleeps, after a full day of fun and adventure, you’re definitely going to want to. Here are a few of our favorite places to stay in NYC: Margaritaville Resort Times Square, The Westin New York at Times Square, The Roxy Hotel, Gansevoort Meatpacking NYC
6. Washington D.C.
As our country’s capital, Washington D.C. is a great place to visit for museums, monuments, and to discover the overall history of America. Because many of the attractions in Washington D.C. are free to the public, it can be a budget-friendly family getaway option.
While you’re in Washington D.C, make plans to walk along the National Mall, get your photo taken in front of the White House and participate in a wreath laying ceremony at Arlington Cemetery. While many of these attractions are within walking distance of each other, you can also choose to take a Segway sightseeing tour or grab tickets to the Big Bus unlimited access hop-on hop-off sightseeing tours instead.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Visit Washington D.C. during the early spring time of year and you have a good chance of seeing the city’s lovely cherry blossom trees in full bloom!
7. Las Vegas, Nevada
Easily one of the most vibrant cities in the world, Las Vegas is filled with casinos, shopping, fine dining and never-ending entertainment at every corner. It’s a destination that draws in couples and groups of friends looking for adventure, but it’s also surprisingly family friendly too!
Book a ticket to see a live music Las Vegas show or head out on a Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon National Park excursion tour from the city. You can also experience the breathtaking sights of Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park on a day trip from Las Vegas.
8. Gatlinburg, Tennessee
With easy access to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a Gatlinburg vacation brings outdoor adventures together with kid-friendly attractions and small town fun like Hillbilly Mini Golf and hiking trails to Clingman’s Dome. Plenty of adventures await in the beloved mountain town!
Gatlinburg is also next door to Pigeon Forge and Dollywood, both full of attractions and entertainment for the whole family to love.
9. Savannah, Georgia
Savannah, the oldest city in Georgia, is a charming mix of southern hospitality, Spanish moss and haunted stories. You can start your day with a ride on the Savannah Riverboat tour, then head on over to Forsyth Park and the City Market to shop handmade art boutiques and eateries, and end your evening with a guided Ghosts and Graveyards tour.
Savannah also has a large share of award-winning restaurants, fine dining options, pubs and rooftop bars. Some of our favorites include The Fitzroy, Alligator Soul, Circa 1875 and Back in the Day Bakery.
10. Los Angeles, California
Discover the world’s entertainment capital, where you can casually drive by celebrities’ homes, take a tour of Warner Bros Studios and get your photo taken in front of the famous Hollywood sign. The fun continues at Santa Monica Pier, one of the most popular tourist attractions in Los Angeles! You can not only take a ride on a Ferris wheel and roller coaster, but can take in all of the beautiful views of the water.
For some in the sun, head to one of Los Angeles’ many sand beaches. Venice Beach, Santa Monica Beach, Malibu and Manhattan Beach are all great options for body surfing the waves or building sandcastles. As the sun sets, take in the starry night sights with a trip to Griffith Observatory. The outdoor observation decks here also provide one of the best views of Los Angeles from above.
11. Sedona, Arizona
If you want to catch a glimpse of the colorful, red rock formations known around the world, then Sedona is the best place to plan your visit! With over 400+ miles of trails in Sedona, hikers and mountain biking enthusiasts can take their pick of daring adventure. Looking for something a little more laid back? Sit back and relax at one of the area wineries or casually explore one of the local fine art galleries. Something different? Book a nighttime UFO and stargazing tour.
12. Yosemite National Park, California
Known for its giant Sequoia trees and crashing waterfalls, Yosemite National Park is one of the country’s most beautiful national parks! Attracting hikers, campers and adventurers from around the world, it easily tops our list as one of the best vacation spots in the USA for nature lovers.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Staying in San Francisco? Yosemite National Park is just a day road trip away! Book this small group guided tour so you don’t miss any of this park’s natural beauty or must-see locations.
13. Oahu, Hawaii
Hawaii is made up of six major islands – Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Hawaii Island, Molokai and Lanai. For first-time visitors to Hawaii, SheBuysTravel writer Mimi Slawoff usually recommends Oahu. Her reasoning is that it’s typically the easiest Hawaiian island to reach and the most affordable for family travel. Plus it offers everything from urban adventures to laid-back island vibes.
Oahu also tops our list of the best usa vacation spots because of its many beautiful beaches where you can go snorkeling, kayaking or sailing. It’s also home to Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, where you can meet Moana and enjoy a kid-friendly luau!
Don’t see what you want on this list? Here are a few more to add to your list of places to visit with your significant other in 2023.
14. Aspen, Colorado
Located within the Rocky Mountains, Aspen is perfect for travelers who love to hike, bike, ski or snowboard!
15. Asheville, North Carolina
The perfect blend of city and natural beauty! If you’re looking for an eclectic vibe, head to Asheville, North Carolina.
Home of the Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole is a great place to go for white water rafting or catching a glimpse of a moose or elk in the wild! FYI: Jackson Hole is also just a day trip away from Yellowstone National Park. You could experience two parks in one trip!
One of the most popular cities in Texas, San Antonio combines history with thrilling theme parks and natural beauty. Head below ground on a cavern tour or soar to new heights on a rollercoaster at the SeaWorld park.
18. Boston, Massachusetts
Wander the historic streets, throw tea into the harbor and submerge yourself into the birthplace of the American revolution with a getaway to Boston, Massachusetts.
19. Napa Valley, California
If you’re looking for the best place to go wine tasting with your girlfriends, Napa Valley is the spot! Book a wine tour and visit the top choices from hundreds of local vineyards.
20. New Orleans, Louisiana
If you’re looking for some adults-only energy, head to New Orleans for good food, music and an easy to walk city. Bringing the kids along? New Orleans has something for them too! Check out this list of fun, free things to do in New Orleans with kids.
21. Portland, Maine
Named Restaurant City of the Year by Bon Appetit magazine, Portland is a food-lovers paradise! You can even take a lobster boat tour to learn more about the art of lobstering. Is Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park also on your east coast bucket list? You can plan a day trip from Portland to also check them off.