- Travel and Places
Top 50 US Travel Destinations of 2015
The Best Places to See in the USA, from Maine to California, Washington to Florida
When it comes to sightseeing in the USA, there's really no comparison to anywhere else. Where in the world besides the United States can you find 18 mile wide canyons, giant geothermal calderas, historic cities, and some of the most dramatic coastlines found anywhere? This page will review some of the best places to visit in the United States, including favorites like New York City, California, New England, the Southwest, Gulf Coast, Midwest, and the Pacific Northwest (continental U.S. only - the lower 48 states).
Intro photo of the Grand Canyon by Jim Trodel.
East Coast USA Destinations
Places you'll want to see from Maine to Florida
The East Coast contains not only a good percentage of the US population, but big cities like New York, the New England states, the middle Atlantic, and the southern states. A trip here is best planned using I-95 as your base. Read more about the attractions you'll see along the way here:
1. Starting in the northeast, New England is a beautiful, relatively small region covering six unique states.
2. While you're in New England, don't forget to check out the over 550 miles of coastline on scenic Cape Cod.
3. Everyone from the United States wants to see New York City. Times Square, Greenwich Village, the Brooklyn Bridge, the former WTC site, and Little Italy make it one of the most unique cities in the world.
4. The shore of Long Island is a New Yorker's weekend paradise, and has some of the best stretches of pristine sandy beaches on the east coast.
5. Washington DC is the paramount of free vacationing. With hundreds of museums, memorials, and gardens to see and experience, it ranks amongst the top destinations in the USA.
6. Great Smoky Mountain National Park on the North Carolina-Tennessee border affords outstanding mountain landscape views, with winding scenic backroads and the famous Blue Ridge Parkway.
7. The Hampton Roads region of Virginia contains the cities of Norfolk, Hampton, Chesapeake, and Virginia Beach. They are known for their beaches, giant naval station, and the seemingly endless Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.
8. South of Hampton Roads, you can find the Outer Banks of North Carolina. This area is a series of barrier islands and peninsulas guarding the coast of North Carolina. On the islands, you'll find lighthouses, blue skies, dunes, and unbelievable white, sandy beaches.
9. South Carolina's Myrtle Beach provides a welcome entrance to the coastline of the Palmetto State. Boardwalks, ocean piers, and palmetto lined beaches make it a great place to take the family.
10. The other prize coastal jewel of South Carolina is the historic city of Charleston. The city boasts cobblestone streets, open air markets, and the Civil War battleground, Fort Sumter. Directly south along the coast is Tybee Island in Georgia, as well as beautiful Savannah.
11. Back on I-95 you can head directly south to the city of Jacksonville, Florida. The city is the biggest in the Sunshine State, and the commercial gateway to the attractions of the rest of coastal Florida. It is also where you can pick up the I-10 highway, part of the Southern Route.
12. One of America's most beautiful pieces of coastline is the Atlantic Coast of Florida. Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and Key West make for an unforgettable experience.
The Gulf Coast
Incredible places to see and visit in Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Missisippi, and Texas
The Gulf Coast, which includes the states of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, has many unique attributes and influences that set it apart from the rest of the country.
13. One of the fastest growing cities in the United States is Tampa, known for its outstanding beaches, nightlife, and infinite water activities.
14. With an impressive collection of mangroves, waterways, and endangered species, seeing the threatened Everglades region of Southern Florida will inspire you to help take action to protect this beautiful landscape.
15. Museums, parks, and historical southern architecture are brimming over in the Gulf Coast's third largest city, Mobile.
16. 62 miles of scenic coastline and beaches of the Mississippi Coast are slowly but surely recovering from the devastating BP oil spill.
17. New Orleans is a city of comebacks, as the city has been fighting to restore itself beyond its pre-Katrina state, and is home to the 2010 Super Bowl Champions, the Saints.
18. Roughly 624 miles of coastline along the Gulf of Mexico are awaiting, ready to explore along the Texas Gulf Coast.
19. Home of the Alamo, the Riverwalk, and Sea World, the mid-Texas city of San Antonio is an unexpected treat right in the smack dab middle of the Lone Star state.
20. Miles of unprotected borders along the Rio Grande, the massive St. Elena Canyon, and some of the least explored places in the country are all found at Big Bend National Park of Texas.
The Midwest and the Great Plains
The best places to see in the middle of the USA
21. Rural landscape has been reclaimed in Ohio's Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
22. Towering beachfront sand dunes hundreds of miles from any ocean? The strange but beautiful views found at Indiana Sand Dunes State Park will inspire many photographs and stories.
23. Over 200 preserved Native American effigy mounds comprise the massive, enigmatic Effigy Mounds National Monument area of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
24. Wisconsin Dells is made up exquisite golf courses, spas, riverfront cottages, and perhaps what they are best known for, water parks.
25. While by appearance it looks like the jagged northern coast of Maine, what you are actually looking at is the incredible Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
26. Chicago, aka the Windy City, aka The Second City, is home to not just deep dish pizza, but the Art Institute of Chicago, the gorgeous Lake Michigan waterfront, and some of the best restaurants in the entire country.
27. Visit South Dakota's unforgettable wide open space at Badlands National Park, containing sandstone buttes, the largest mixed grass prairie in the USA, and a view that extends for dozens of miles to the horizon.
28. The biggest sculpture in the world, Mount Rushmore, is best appreciated in person to view its full grandeur.
Recommended USA Travel Books - Books with excellent reviews from people who have read them
Places to see in the Rocky Mountain area of the USA
29. The proximity to Denver, the backwoods trails, and the conifer covered mountain peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park make it an incredible destination any time of year.
30. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is one of Colorado's true hidden treasures, and just around the corner from Grand Junction, CO.
31. In Yellowstone National Park, you can find the largest active geothermal area on the planet.
32. Grand Teton National Park is America's most beautiful mountain range of the west, and is adjacent to the pristine Yellowstone.
Stunning places to see in Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado
33. Of all of America's great places to see, the Grand Canyon tops them all.
34. Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico holds 117 known caves containing limestone formations.
35. The upward spires of Bryce Canyon National Park are truly stunning at the hours just before sunset and sunrise.
36. The pinks, oranges, browns, reds, and whites of Zion National Park continue to inspire photographers, hikers, and vacationers heading to Utah.
37. Around the corner from Arches is the enigmatic Colorado River carved Canyonlands National park.
38. Of all of the places in the world, Arches National Park contains the most natural sandstone arches, numbering at over 2000.
Western destinations from Washington to California
39. Las Vegas isn't just a city, it's the most visited man-made destination in the USA.
40. Rodeo Drive, the Griffith Observatory, Universal Studios, Hollywood, and Catalina Island are just a few of the best things to do in the metropolis of Los Angeles.
41. San Diego has some of the best beaches, zoos, restaurants, and views in the entire state of California.
42. The dry desert heat of Palm Springs can be refreshing, while its history, sightseeing, and nightlife will keep you well entertained.
43. California's most beautiful beats of rugged coastline is the massive stretch of Pacific Coast Highway at Big Sur.
44. While New York may be the best known city in the USA, San Francisco is by far the most scenic.
45. For awe inspiring rugged wilderness, Yosemite National Park is a must-see.
46. Redwoods National Park is home to the tallest trees on Earth. Is there anything else that needs to be said?
47. Napa Valley has become a world class wine producer, with wine so high in quality much of it never even leaves the state and is consumed by Californians.
48. A beautiful skyline, an abundance of local breweries, and plenty of vegetarian restaurants make Portland, Oregon an essential part of your trip to the Pacific Northwest.
49. Surrounded by mountain ranges, national parks, and the only temperate rainforest in the USA, you can't afford to miss all that Seattle has to offer.
50. Not too far from Seattle is the stunning Mount Rainier National Park. While the park is only open seasonally, the sights during the summer here are beyond breathtaking.
Why no Alaska or Hawaii? It would dominate much of this list, so I'm reserving those two for a future page. Suggestions welcome!