USA is a vast country with widely varied landscapes and cultures, home to the world's first national park (Yellowstone) and great national and state park infrastructure offering plenty to do and see.
The coastal cities are some of the most popular tourist destinations, but the middle of the country has both rural and urban destinations that are amazing as well. You will find a mix of natural wonders, amazing recreational areas, and enchanting cities representing the best of what the United States has to offer.
1. Florida Keys
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The Florida Keys is a chain of islands that stretch out into the Atlantic Ocean from the southern tip of Florida. The islands are known as a hotspot for water activities, such as fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, and boating. Those in search of nightlife flock to Key West, with its sunset celebration on Mallory Square each night and the large number of bars that line Duval Street. The islands were home to Ernest Hemingway, and visitors can see his home and museum. If you are after a low-key, laidback escape from the daily grind but don't want to get to far from mainland USA, the Florida Keys can be just the place for you. Things to Do in the Florida Keys
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Popularly known as the Mile-High City, Denver has much to offer visitors. The city is the perfect jumping-off point for exploring the Rocky Mountains, which are less than an hour away. You can truly have the best of both worlds as you spend some days enjoying the amenities and attractions of the city and other days venturing out into the beautiful mountains. Interesting attractions in the city include the Denver Zoo, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the Denver Botanic Gardens, the Great Sand Denver Art Museum, Water World, the Downtown Aquarium, and Elitch Gardens Theme Park. The city has a strong local music scene as well as a particularly large number of craft beer producers, so fans of music and beer will be very happy here. Things to Do in Denver
3. San Diego
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San Diego is a city set on the Pacific Ocean in Southern California and is best known for its beaches and cultural attractions. The massive Hotel del Coronado dating from 1888 majestically presides over Coronado Beach and is a popular site for tourists, many of whom aren't staying at the hotel. The ocean can be quite cold for most of the year, but relaxing on the beach is nice and there are several beach options in addition to Coronado. Other attractions include the world-famous San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld San Diego, Balboa Park and the USS Midway, which is a former active aircraft carrier that is now a public museum. Things to Do in San Diego
4. Arches National Park
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Arches National Park is located along the Colorado River near Moab, Utah. The park preserves more than 2,000 natural stone arches, some of the most famous including the Delicate Arch and the Landscape Arch. In addition to the numerous arches, there are a number of other interesting geological features, such as the so-called Balanced Rock, which make for interesting views. Most people who come drive along the park's 18-mile-long scenic road, which passes many of the most popular sites. Biking is also popular, but within the park you must stay on the road. There is a plethora of mountain biking opportunities outside of the park grounds. Other popular activities include hiking, horseback riding, camping, backpacking, rock climbing, stargazing, and canyoneering.
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5. Big Sur
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Big Sur is a rugged section of the central coast of California located in between San Simeon and Carmel. Flanked on one side by the Pacific Ocean and the other side by the Santa Lucia Mountains, the area offers stunning views at every turn. Visiting Big Sur means traveling the famous two-lane road, State Route 1, which is known for its views, winding turns, and cliffs. There are few towns in the area and it is a haven for outdoorsmen. You will find a number of state parks along the way and plenty of opportunities for hiking, spending time on the beach, and camping overnight. Things to Do in Big Sur
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Boston is the state capital of Massachusetts. It is one of the oldest cities in the country and was founded in 1630, long before the country itself was established. The city played a large role in the American Revolution and a highlight for many visitors are the various historical sights. Many of the most important sights are part of a 2.5-mile walking route through the city known as the Freedom Trail. Traveling the Freedom Trail and visiting the sights will give you a much better understanding of the country's founding. There are a number of sports teams based in the city, and catching a Red Sox game at Fenway Park is a memorable experience. Other attractions include a number of world-class museums, shopping centers, legendary restaurants, and much more. Things to Do in Boston
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Chicago is one of the country's largest cities and sits on Lake Michigan in Illinois. The city is famous for its architecture, with highlights being the massive skyscrapers such as the John Hancock Center, Tribune Tower and Willis Tower (which for many years was the tallest building in the world) and Trump Tower. The museums are top-notch, with favorites being the Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Museum, Adler Planetarium, the Children's Museum, and many others. As a cosmopolitan city, there is virtually no end to the cuisines that you can sample, but Chicago-style pizza is probably the most famous and is absolutely a must-try. Things to Do in Chicago
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Dallas> is the business and cultural center of the state of Texas as well as much of the region. A number of interesting attractions will make it hard to decide where to spend your time. To history buffs, visiting the site of President Kennedy's assassination at the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza is a highlight. Those interested in the arts will find several world-class art museums, such as Nasher Sculpture Center, the Dallas Museum of Art, and more. Family travelers will enjoy the Dallas World Aquarium as well as the even more kid-friendly Children's Aquarium at Fair Park. Other popular attractions include the Dallas Holocaust Museum, the George W. Bush Presidential Center, White Rock Lake, and the Dallas Heritage Village, but there are so many more than we could list. Things to Do in Dallas
9. Death Valley National Park
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Death Valley National Park sits on the border between Nevada and California with many interesting landscapes, including mountains, deserts, badlands, and more. Titus Canyon is one of the best-known parts of the park. The canyon is known for its stunningly rugged mountains, beautifully vibrant rock formations, petroglyphs, old western ghost town, rare plant life, and wildlife. Badwater Basin is another popular site in the park as it is famous for being the lowest point in North America. Other popular things to do include visiting Scotty's Castle, hiking, climbing, and camping on Dante's View, Golden Canyon, Telescope Peak, and other locations throughout the park.
10. Grand Canyon National Park
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Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most famous national parks in the country. It is home to the massive Grand Canyon with its stunning layers of red rock, which provide evidence of a long history of geological development. Tourists flock to several popular viewpoints in the canyon, including Yavapai Observation Station, Mary Colter's Lookout Studio, Mather Point, Desert View Watchtower, and Lipan Point.
The Rim Trail is a popular way to walk along the rim of the canyon and see several stunning viewpoints. Other ways to enjoy the canyon include hiking or backpacking below the rim, South Rim mule trips, rafting trips through the canyon, and traveling on the Grand Canyon Railway.
11. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
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Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a gorgeous park that sits on the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. The park is known for its stunning landscapes, including year-round wildflowers, lush forests, rivers, waterfalls, and streams. Hiking is a popular pastime here, and the famous Appalachian Trail even passes through the park. The highest peak is Clingmans Dome, which is topped with an observation tower offering gorgeous views of the surrounding areas and the misty mountains. The towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge sit at the base of the park on the Tennessee side and offer seemingly endless opportunities for entertainment and fun.
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Kauai is one of the islands that make up Hawaii. It is known by the nickname "The Garden Isle" due to being mostly covered in tropical rainforest. The Na Pali Coast has a memorable appearance, with its dramatic sea cliffs and peaks that have even appeared in several blockbuster movies. Opportunities for hiking are plentiful and include Waimea Canyon, the Kalalau Trail, and the Nounou Trails. If you'd really like to see gardens on your visit to the Garden Isle, check out Na 'Aina Kai Botanical Gardens, which feature a number of bronze statues and a variety of different gardens. Beachfront resorts in Kauai
13. Las Vegas
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Las Vegas is a resort city set in the Mojave Desert, and is famous around the world for its raucous nightlife and 24-hour casinos. Many of the city's highlights are centered around The Strip, which is the main street in the city, along which are a range of flashy attractions and entertainment options. Themed hotels dominate the landscape and feature elaborate elements such as fountains choreographed to music and replicas of an Egyptian pyramid, the Eiffel Tower, and the Grand Canal in Venice. Plenty of tasty food options, both in the casinos and otherwise, will keep you happily fed as you explore the city and enjoy soaking in everything that Vegas has to offer. Things to Do in Las Vegas
14. Los Angeles
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Los Angeles is a massive city in Southern California that is perhaps best known as the epicenter of the country's film and television industry. Iconic film studios such as Universal, Paramount, and Warner Brothers are all located here, and celebrity sightings are relatively common. If you are heading to L.A. because you are "star-struck," head to the Walk of Fame, where you can see thousands of celebrities honored. You can also pick up a map from a street vendor, noting the location of various stars homes. However, Los Angeles is more than just Hollywood. Other attractions in this sprawling city include Disneyland, the Griffith Observatory, the Getty Center, the Santa Monica Pier, and much more. Things to Do in Los Angeles
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Miami is an international city located on the southwestern tip of the state of Florida and is famous for its rich Cuban influence and its beaches. Miami Beach's South Beach neighborhood, located on a stretch of barrier waters across Biscayne Bay from downtown, has a culture all its own and features brightly colored art deco buildings, white sandy beaches, and plenty of options for bars and clubs if you want to party late into the night. If you want to experience Cuban culture, you can find a number of cafes and cigar shops in Little Havana, especially along Calle Ocho. Things to Do in Miami
16. New Orleans
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New Orleans is a city sitting on the Mississippi River near the point where it opens up into the Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana. The city has been given the nickname the Big Easy due to its laidback vibes, relaxed culture, and 24/7 nightlife. The city is perhaps most famous as the host city for Mardi Gras, a late-winter festival that is characterized by wild costume parades, street parties, and non-stop partying. The city has an interesting cultural heritage with a variety of international influences, such French, American and African cultures. There's plenty to keep you busy and a plethora of restaurants offering tasty Cajun and Creole food when you need fuel for your exploring. Things to Do in New Orleans
17. New York City
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New York City is the country's largest city and home to many cultural, historical, and entertainment attractions. The city is made up of five boroughs, which each have a unique culture and atmosphere. In the city's center is Manhattan, which is the commercial hub of the city and, in many ways, the country. Some of the top attractions include iconic skyscrapers such as the Empire State Building and One World Trade Center. Other must-dos include taking a tour of the Statue of Liberty, strolling through Central Park, catching a Broadway show, and enjoying the rich culinary culture for which New York City is famous. Things to Do in NYC
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Philadelphia is the largest city in Pennsylvania. It is known for its significant historic sites, many of which relate to the American Revolution and the birth of the United States. Some of the hot spots include the site where both the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were signed, which is known as Independence Hall, as well as the Liberty Bell and a number of other historic locations. One of the other most popular sites to visit its the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In itself it is a fabulous art museum, but many come here to perform the "Rocky Run," made famous by actor Sylvester Stallone's celebratory run in the hit film Rocky, which was filmed here. Things to Do in Philadelphia
19. San Francisco
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San Francisco is a hilly city in Northern California surrounded on three sides by water with shorelines on both the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay. The Golden Gate Bridge is the most famous icon of the city and is a draw for many tourists. In addition, the city is known for the cable cars that travel the streets, colorful Victorian architecture, and Alcatraz Island, which is located in the bay nearby. Ocean-lovers will want to check out Fisherman's Wharf for crab stands, sea lion watching, and souvenir shopping. Pier 39 is another scenic spot that has plenty of activities and refreshments and is popular with visitors. Things to Do in San Francisco
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Seattle is a city set on the Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest, and is surrounded with beautiful nature including the water of the sound, the nearby mountains, and thick evergreen forests. There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy nature right in the city as well with several thousands of acres of parkland, right in town. Some of the most popular attractions in Seattle include the Pike Place Market which is an exciting and interesting place to stroll and shop, the iconic Space Needle, which sits prominently on the city's skyline, and Chihuly Garden and Glass, which is an indoor and outdoor exhibit of glass works by artist Dale Chihuly. Things to Do in Seattle
21. Washington, D.C.
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The nation's capital city, Washington, D.C. is a small, densely populated city with much to see and do. The city is most notable for its many monuments and memorial buildings as well as the famous working government buildings. Many attractions are situated on and around the National Mall, which is also the location of the Smithsonian Museums. The White House, which is home to the President of the United States, as well as the United States Capitol building are some of the most popular sites. Other important landmarks include the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the National Zoo, and a variety of war memorials including the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Things to Do in Washington, DC
22. Yellowstone National Park
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Yellowstone National Park is a massive recreational area sprawling over 3,500 square miles of wilderness. It is located mostly in the state of Wyoming, but there are portions of it located in Idaho and Montana as well. The park was the first national park in the world and it was created in 1872. Yellowstone is marked by dramatic canyon landscapes, alpine rivers with waterfalls, and volcanic features such as hot springs and geysers. The well-known geyser known as Old Faithful is one of the most famous sites in the park. There are many opportunities for viewing wildlife at Yellowstone, and it's possible that you will see bison, wolves, bear, antelope, and elk during your visit.
23. Yosemite National Park
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Yosemite National Park is a national park in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California and is best known for its massive sequoia trees. You'll definitely want to stop and take a picture of Tunnel View, which features famous views of the granite peaks Half Dome and El Capitan as well as Bridalveil Fall. Hiking, mountain climbing, camping, and viewing wildlife are all popular activities in the park. Camping is extremely popular, and while campsites may be difficult to obtain, it is a memorable experience. There are numerous campgrounds throughout the park, but you should certainly try to make reservations as early as possible.
24. Zion National Park
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Zion National Park preserves an area of natural beauty in southwestern Utah. The park is characterized by the steep cliffs of Zion Canyon, which are a distinct shade of red. One of the most popular ways to see the park is by traveling the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, which travels through the main section of the park and passes many scenic vistas. The park is rich in both flora and fauna as well as interesting history as both native people and pioneers occupied the area before it was a park. Popular activities include backpacking, hiking, bicycling, birding, camping, rock climbing, horseback riding, canyoneering, and boating on the Virgin River.
25. Acadia National Park
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Acadia National Park covers 47,000 acres along the coast of Maine, with much of the park property located on Mount Desert Island. The park has a variety of interesting landscapes, including forests, beaches, and granite mountain peaks like Cadillac Mountain. Hiking is a popular pastime and some of the favorite areas for hiking include Jordan Pond, Bar Island, and Cadillac Mountain. The beaches are rocky but have gorgeous views and are quite relaxing. The Bass Harbor Lighthouse dates from the 19th century and is perched on a photo-perfect location on a cliff. Other popular activities include sea kayaking, biking, watching wildlife, and camping.
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