Deciding on where to go for your next summer vacation in the USA? With so many offered landscapes, it is hard to choose between the beach and the city, or even the lake. Here are the pros and cons of America's top 13 most popular summer destinations.
Located near Flagstaff, Arizona, Sedona is somewhat of an oasis surrounded by Red Rock buttes, steep canyon walls, and pine forests. World-famous for its 400+ miles of trails, you can hike or bike in Sedona for a week and not see the same scene twice. Visit the Devil's Bridge trail or ponder life from the 7 Vistas' lookout spots. Sedona also boasts some of the most beautiful and famous rock formations in the world. Don't miss an opportunity to visit one of the cities many art galleries. Take your next summer break in Sedona.
A tiny but vibrant city in between Maryland and Virginia and a popular destination for Americans and foreigners alike, Washington DC has plenty to do. Visit one or all of the many historical monuments the city has to offer. Get Patriotic at the Nation's Capital, or visit Capitol Hill. Soak up the history at The Lincoln Memorial or The National Mall. Or educate yourself at one of the many museums, like the National Air and Space Museum, The National Gallery of Art, or the Museum of Natural History. Visit the Library of Congress, boasting the title of the largest library in the world. Tour the FBI headquarters, or sit in on a Supreme Court Lecture. Take a walk down Embassy Row and see flags from nearly every country. Hop on the boat at the Georgetown waterfront, or stop in at a restaurant part of the newly famous food scene.
One of the nation's oldest towns, sitting happily on the Mississippi River and fondly referred to as the "Big Easy,"- The city of New Orleans is a one of a kind compilation of African, American, and French culture. Known for its nightlife, Mardi Gras celebrations, music scene, and unique spicy food- New Orleans is a place like nowhere else. Offering plenty of activities for visitors, you can explore Jacksons Square, cool down by the Mississippi river, try a beignet at Cafe Du Monde. Then shop at the French Market, get a drink at the famous Carousel Bar, then walk around town with it. Or stop by the Saint Louis Cathedral. Don't forget to visit the French Quarter and the New Orleans Museum of art.
Key West is one of the Nations's few island cities. Sitting only roughly 90 miles from Cuba, Key West is Florida's most southern point. Visit Key West, and have the experience of a Caribbean vacation without leaving the country. The island is known for its pastel-hued homes, and beach town feel. It is also known for its world-class snorkeling and scuba diving. Take a dive class or a snorkel cruise through key west, visit Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park for the clearest water in town and watch the sunset.
What started as a port down during the Northern California gold rush is now one of the world's tech hubs. Known as the Golden City, San Francisco has a wide array of entertainment for visitors. Drive, walk, or even bike over the Golden Gate Bridge, which is actually red and not gold at all. Ride an old-fashioned trolley call through the hills. Walk down to Fisherman's Wharf for a fresh crab sandwich or world-famous clam chowder out of a sourdough bread bowl. Ride the Ferry to Alcatraz and tour the prison that once held Al Capone captive. Drive North and spend a day in Sausalito, eating fresh seafood and watching the seals swim around. Relax at Golden Gate Park and watch the wild buffalo graze. Get authentic Dim Sum in one of the countries largest Chinatowns.
The Southernmost city along the California Coast, San Diego, is a huge beach city with plenty to do. Visit the world-famous San Diego Zoo, or sit and relax in Balboa Park. Eat lunch overlooking one of the many famous beaches, including Mission Beach, Coronado Beach, and Pacific Beach. Experience the nightlife of the Gaslamp Quarter, which is 16 blocks of Victorian Style houses filled with shops, bars, and art galleries. Or take an early morning hike through Torrey Pines, an oceanfront nature reserve sheltering California's rarest pine tree. Sit and watch seals at one of the many beach parks or take a Duffy ride through one of the Harbors.
The biggest city in the Midwest, located directly on Lake Michigan, Chicago is famous for its unique architecture. Visit the Skydeck and see the entire city and the massive lake, and if you are brave, get your picture sitting or standing on the glass floor lookout. Then make sure to visit Millenium Park and see the famous bean art installment. Walk the lake at the Lakefront Trail, or take a river walk through the city. Experience some of the world's most impressive flora at the Garfield Park Conservatory. Get a first-hand view of the building modeled after a champagne bottle, and see the speakeasies from the prohibition era. Don't forget to try some deep dish pizza or taste an Italian sandwich from one of Chicago's famed Italian delis.
Located in central Florida, Orlando is one of the most visited American cities. Explore over a dozen of the world's best theme parks in Orlando, Florida. Visit Walt Disney World, Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Universal Studios or The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Watch spaceships take off at the Kennedy Space Center, check out the art at the Orlando Museum of Art, or swim with dolphins at Discovery Cove. Orlando is a hub of excitement.
What happens in Las Vegas... goes into our guide! Located in the middle of the Nevada desert, Las Vegas is a city of 24-hour fun. Many people come for the casinos and gambling, and many more stay for the other attractions Las Vegas has to offer. Many of the world's best entertainers have residencies in Las Vegas, meaning you can see some of your favorite performers give shows 7 days a week. People also come for the world-class pools and the impressive food scene. Boasting cuisines from some of the best chefs in the world. Take a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas, as it is only a short ride away. Or watch a football game at the brand new state of the art Raiders arena.
Located in the middle of the pacific ocean, Oahu is part of the world's most isolated island chain. Oahu has plenty to offer the whole family. Take a surf lesson at Waikiki Beach, where surfing was invented. Or snorkel in one of the many protected coral reefs along the coast. Hike the Lanikai pillboxes at sunrise, or hike to a waterfall and swim in the middle of the day. Grab a Mai Tai in Honolulu, or take a Scuba Diving lesson near pearl harbor. Watch the professional surfers rip the waves on the Bonzai Pipeline on the North Shore. To learn more about Oahu check out our article "Oahu, Hawaii- A Complete Guide."
Located just 200 miles from Oahu, the island of Hawaii is the southernmost Island of the United States. It is also deemed the best place in the world for stargazing by Nasa. Home to the best telescopes in the world, the entire island has special low light pollution street lights and exterior lights, meaning on a clear night on the Big Island you can see the Milky Way by just looking at the sky. Taste exotic fruits at the Hilo Farmers Market. Hike through the crater of the active Kilauea Volcano. Swim at the base of one of the dozens of freshwater waterfalls. Watch the sunrise from the tallest mountain in the world when measured from the seafloor, Mauna Kea. You can even swim with dolphins in Waikoloa. The Island of Hawaii is both the youngest and the biggest island out of all of the Hawaiian Islands and easily has the most diverse landscape.
Coming in as the second most popular tourist destination in the country, we have Maui. Located in between The Big Island and Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands chain. If you're looking to hit the beach for your next summer vacation, look no further than the island of Maui. Loved by adventure seekers and relaxers alike, there is no shortage of activities on Maui. Hang out in Kaanapali and drink Pina Coladas at the beach. Or brave the nation's windiest road, The Road to Hana. Watch the sunrise from Haleakala Mountain or swim in one of Maui's many waterfalls. People love Maui for being a perfect balance of adventure and luxury.
Coming in at number 1, we have New York City. The United States most visited tourist destination.
Located on the east coast of the United States, we have the world-famous New York. Popular for its Broadway shows, bright lights, New York City is the number one tourist destination in the United States. The city that never sleeps attracts visitors from all over the world. Its late-night comedy cellars and dive bars for some. It is luxury shopping or live television for others. New York City is a city of dreams, diversity, and opportunity and should be on everyone's travel list. Take a stroll through the magical Central Park. See the whole city from the sky at "Top of The Rock" at Rockefeller Plaza. Grab a drink at Bryant Park. Visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Hop on a train at Grand Central Station. Take a boat tour of the Hudson River or boat by the Empire State Building. Explore the reinvented Chelsea Highline, and then hail a cab to Times Square. You could explore NYC every day for a year and still find new things, which is likely what keeps tourists coming back to the city.