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 which vacation spots can be considered the best in the U.S. 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 »

  • Yellowstone
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    Yellowstone

    #1 in Best Places to Visit in the USA

    This national park provides plenty of attractions to excite nature lovers, from steaming geysers to bubbling hot springs to hiking trails that stretch for miles. Plus, animal fans will appreciate a visit to the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center to learn about local wildlife.

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  • Maui
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    Maui

    #2 in Best Places to Visit in the USA

    With idyllic beaches and verdant parks, Maui is escapism at its finest. Here, you can spend your days admiring the scenery as you cruise along the Road to Hana or lounge across the sands of Waianapanapa State Park. Sampling the island's seafood is also a must.

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  • Grand Canyon
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    Grand Canyon

    #3 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. Whether you choose to hike the Bright Angel Trail or raft the Colorado River, you're sure to feel small against the towering rock formations and picturesque vistas.

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  • Yosemite
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    Yosemite

    #4 in Best Places to Visit in the USA

    A vacation at Yosemite National Park is all about reconnecting with nature. Spend your visit checking out famous landmarks like Half Dome and Glacier Point or hiking Cathedral Lakes, Mist Trail and other popular paths. If you're not one for camping, opt for a daytrip from San Francisco, Sacramento or Lake Tahoe.

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  • New York City
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    New York City

    #5 in Best Places to Visit in the USA

    Known for its museums, theaters and restaurant scene, the sheer number of things to do in the Big Apple puts most of its U.S. peers to shame. When you need a respite from the city's busy street life and soaring skyscrapers, retreat to scenic Central Park or the artsy High Line.

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  • San Francisco
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    San Francisco

    #6 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 perceive the City by the Bay's character is to explore each neighborhood. From the Mission to the Castro, visitors appreciate each enclave's offerings.

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  • Washington, D.C.
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    Washington, D.C.

    #7 in Best Places to Visit in the USA

    The nation's capital has a lot going for it. Iconic landmarks, such as the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, allow you to sightsee for days. Just make sure to save some energy for an evening out – D.C. boasts a lively restaurant and bar scene.

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  • Honolulu - Oahu
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    Honolulu - Oahu

    #8 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 bad time to visit. Waikiki Beach promises to please, but be forewarned: There's a good chance you will be greeted by a barrage of tourists. For more elbow room, head to Kailua's Lanikai Beach.

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  • Boston
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    Boston

    #9 in Best Places to Visit in the USA

    Plan a trip to Boston for a glimpse at U.S. history, baseball and wicked smart universities. On warmer days, pack a picnic lunch to enjoy on the grounds of Boston Common or the Boston Public Garden after wandering the more than 2-mile-long Freedom Trail.

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  • Lake Tahoe
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    Lake Tahoe

    #10 in Best Places to Visit in the USA

    North America's largest mountain lake beckons to active travelers year-round. Winter draws skiers and snowboarders in droves to the slopes at Lake Tahoe's six resorts, while the warmer months are ideal for hiking, scenic drives and lake activities like kayaking and boating. For an active vacation with a twist, trek one of the region's two beer trails.

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  • San Diego
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    San Diego

    #11 in Best Places to Visit in the USA

    San Diego appeals to many different kinds of vacationers. While the beach is the marquee attraction, the city also boasts a variety of outdoor activities and a vibrant downtown dining scene. Meanwhile, the sprawling San Diego Zoo and the museum-filled Balboa Park offer good times for visitors of all ages.

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  • Chicago
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    Chicago

    #12 in Best Places to Visit in the USA

    The Windy City's architecture, cuisine and museums make this Midwest locale a great option for travelers with varying interests. When you're not stuffing your face with deep-dish pizza or snapping pics in front of Millennium Park's iconic "Bean," check out the Art Institute of Chicago's top-notch collections or go on an architecture river cruise.

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  • New Orleans
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    New Orleans

    #13 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. This vibrant city welcomes visitors with all of the gumbo, live jazz and partying they can handle.

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  • Glacier National Park
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    Glacier National Park

    #14 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. Plus, wild animals like moose, bears and elk are frequently spotted here.

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  • Grand Teton National Park
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    Grand Teton National Park

    #15 in Best Places to Visit in the USA

    In Grand Teton National Park, the snow-topped Teton Mountains rub elbows with lakes, wildflower fields and swamps. 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.

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  • Seattle
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    Seattle

    #16 in Best Places to Visit in the USA

    Seattle may be known for its consistently soggy weather, but this Pacific Northwest city has plenty to offer travel buffs. Seattle exudes a laid-back aura, where cafe and bar culture reign supreme. Spend your stay mingling with locals at Pike Place Market or on Mount Si's slopes.

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  • Miami
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    Miami

    #17 in Best Places to Visit in the USA

    Travel to this South Florida city to experience a melting pot of cultures. The vibrant food and nightlife scenes are worth the trip alone, but don't forget to visit some of the many museums that showcase the city's unique art, history and culture.

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  • Charleston
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    Charleston

    #18 in Best Places to Visit in the USA

    Beautiful architecture, relaxing beaches and plenty of Southern charm are the defining elements of Charleston. Checking out the city's historical sites and museums, and exploring its picturesque streets and waterways on foot or by boat are great ways to spend your afternoons. Plus, Charleston offers mouthwatering lowcountry cuisine.

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  • Sanibel Island
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    Sanibel Island

    #19 in Best Places to Visit in the USA

    This island situated off of Florida's west coast is a beach lover's paradise. Roughly 15 miles of shoreline are available to sink your toes into as you try the "Sanibel Stoop." For the best shells, visit Bowman's Beach or Blind Pass Beach on the west side of the island.

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  • Denver
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    Denver

    #20 in Best Places to Visit in the USA

    Part urban center, part gateway to the Rockies, the Mile High City is the place to enjoy an outdoor concert at the unique Red Rocks Amphitheatre and sample craft beers from local eateries. If you love sports, time your visit during football or baseball season so you can catch a game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High or Coors Field.

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  • Big Sur
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    Big Sur

    #21 in Best Places to Visit in the USA

    Although this California coastline isn't made for swimming, Big Sur is the place to go for Instagram-worthy photos. Some of the best views are found at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and Pfeiffer Beach, but those just looking to relax can head to Sand Dollar Beach.

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  • Savannah
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    Savannah

    #22 in Best Places to Visit in the USA

    Savannah is one of the best destinations the South has to offer thanks to its old-world charm, tasty cuisine and plethora of historical attractions. When you're not strolling beneath Forsyth Park's Spanish moss-draped oak trees, learn more about the city's past during a trolley or horse-drawn carriage tour.

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  • Monterey
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    Monterey

    #23 in Best Places to Visit in the USA

    Monterey offers the perfect mix of small-town character and big-city amenities. Overlooking Monterey Bay, this quaint California town boasts a highly regarded aquarium and a wharf with whale watching tours. Plus, visitors can check out the charming Cannery Row area, which features specialty shops, boutique hotels and seafood restaurants.

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  • Sedona
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    Sedona

    #24 in Best Places to Visit in the USA

    Outdoorsy types will love vacationing in Sedona. Home to towering red rock formations, ancient cliff dwellings and vortexes, Sedona features a multitude of postcard-worthy landmarks accessible by various hiking trails. After an active day outside, travelers can retreat to one of the city's award-winning spas.

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  • Zion National Park
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    Zion National Park

    #25 in Best Places to Visit in the USA

    Awe-inspiring panoramas are available everywhere you turn in Zion National Park. Featuring massive freestanding arches, this protected area appeals to hikers, bikers and climbers. You'll have 18 trails to choose from, including traveler favorites like the easy Pa'rus Trail and The Narrows, a challenging path through a gorge.

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