With over 50 cities filled with wide-ranging coastlines, beaches, tropical Islands, natural landscapes, national parks, mountains, forests, waterfalls, snow-covered peaks, deserts, skyscrapers, cityscapes, people, history, cultures, and scrumptious dishes, the United States of America has endless fascinating places to visit.
This US travel guide is divided in section. Check the table of content below if you’re looking for a specific information.
Best Places to Visit In USA
Here’s some of the best places in the United States that’s definitely worth your visit.
New York City
You may have heard the name a thousand times and it already felt like you have visited the place, but there’s more of New York than that.
Known by many as “the City that Never Sleeps,” New York offers some of the world’s famous iconic landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Times Square, Central Park, The Museum of Modern Art, and Grand Central Station.
Being one of the greatest cities in the world, New York City is full of tourists and locals enjoying the swift visit to some of its historical sites, world-class architectures, outstanding art galleries & museums, Broadway shows, endless food spots and shopping spree, huge public parks, bustling nightlife, and other types of entertainment any time of year.
Additionally if you’re a fan of visiting world-class universities, you can add New Your University & Columbia University to your bucket list.
Grand Canyon National Park
Located in Arizona, this National Park boasts an overwhelming size of breathtaking scenery and natural wonders carved by the Colorado River over a long period of time.
Attracting millions of visitors every year, the Grand Canyon National Park offers a massive expanse of canyons, ridges, rock formations & river tributaries.
From the air, land, and water, you can enjoy endless outdoor activities like helicopter tour, hiking & sightseeing tour, white water rafting, camping, hummer or jeep tour, bicycle tour, and so much more.
One of travelers’ favorite attractions in the area is the Grand Canyon Skywalk – a large, semi-circular bridge with a transparent glass floor, offering a chance to witness the beauty of the place from 4,000 feet above.
If you want to experience a splendid escape away from the bustling city, be sure to include Grand Canyon National Park on your bucket list.
Yellowstone National Park
Another popular attraction in the United States is the world’s first ever national park (1872) – the Yellowstone National Park.
With more than millions of tourists who want to marvel at the beautiful place, the Yellowstone National Park also offers untouched wildlife where visitors get to see Bison, Moose, Deer, Elk, Otters, Fox, Badger, Bear, Wolves, and so much more.
Visiting the Yellowstone National Park will give you an unforgettable journey as you explore beyond its geologic features, volcanoes, geysers, hot springs, glaciers, and beautiful plants depending on the season you’re visiting.
Some of the renowned attractions in Yellowstone National Park are the (1) Old Faithful, a geyser that never fails to erupt as high as 185 feet every 90 minute, (2) Grand Prismatic Spring, a multicolored spring and United States largest hot spring, and (3) Firehole Falls, one of the most stunning waterfalls in the park that is easy to reach.
Yosemite National Park
It’s no wonder why one of tourist favorite destinations to visit in the United States is the Yosemite National Park. It is by far one of the grandest places to experience nature.
Being surrounded with dramatic wildlife, mountains, rock formations, granite cliffs, sequoia grove, forest, waterfalls, lakes, rivers, and valleys, Yosemite National Park offers a fresh and relaxing experience unlike any other.
If you’re into thrilling outdoor activities, you can enjoy hiking, rock climbing, fishing, horseback riding, rafting, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoe hiking, RZR tour, and 4×4 tour depending on the weather that you’re visiting.
If you just want to relax and feel every bit of nature’s beauty, set a course to its countless trails where beautiful places like the Giant Sequoias and wildflowers are located.
One of the things that you will surely love about San Francisco is the weather. Even when roaming around this vibrant city, the temperature will remain pretty comfortable.
California’s pride, San Francisco is famous for numerous things luring millions of tourists across the world to experience its beauty.
With its diverse culture, shopping paradise, exciting attractions, and great foods to try, San Francisco can be your next favorite holiday getaway during your visit soon.
The Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf, Legion of Honor, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and bustling Chinatown are some of the best places to visit in the city.
If you’re into sunset & sunrise photography, the Golden Gate Bridge is your perfect spot.
If you’ve heard about the “Paradise of the Pacific,” you probably know that it is Hawaii, one of the most favorite holiday and honeymoon destinations in the world.
Although flying to Hawaii will take you at least 6 hours flight even from one of the closest cities which is the California, we assure you, it’s all worth it.
A tropical island surrounded with natural wonders, pristine beaches, crystal clear water, majestic waterfalls, wide ranging rainforests, towering palm trees, magnificent mountains and cliffs, world-class hotels and shopping sprees, and exciting activities.
It boasts some of the most spectacular islands in the world like Oahu, Hawaii Island, Kauai, Maui, Lanai, and Honolulu. The perfect spots to relax, unwind, and reconnect with nature.
Hawaii is also known as one of the best places in the world where surfing experience will take you to another level.
When in Hawaii, be sure to have the best of your life and experience a surreal adventure.
You may know that there is a city in Georgia that offers a charming Southern escape that draws millions of tourists pre-pandemic. Let me tell you this, it’s Savannah, the state’s oldest city.
Home to the well-preserved architectures, stunning landscapes, old cobbled streets, horse-drawn carriages, old and modern arts, vibrant history, unique boutiques, moss-draped, and mouthwatering local cuisines, Savannah is also known as being one of the “world’s friendliest cities” by Condé Nast Traveler readers.
Some people say that Savannah’s history resonates into the present day, making locals feel that memories made in the city will always be alive.
Aside from popular attractions that the city offers, you can also enjoy numerous festivals in Savannah during the ber months.
Another thing that makes this city interesting is the ghost stories of The Ghost of Little Gracie, The Ghost Story of Alice RIley, and Disease and Dying in Savannah.
Although there’s another metropolis which takes pride for being the largest city in Nevada, Las Vegas is known for a lot of things too.
Considered as one of the fastest-growing cities luring millions of tourists to visit all year round.
Many people are surprised to learn that the city has a set of attractions and appeal such as The Strip, Stratosphere Tower, The Mirage, Fremont Street Experience, and The Venetian Las Vegas.
It is also known as the center of numerous entertainment, bustling nightlife, delightful cuisine, attracting visitors from all corners of the world.
It houses the well-known casinos: Caesar’s Palace, MGM Grand, and the Bellagio.
The city is also famous for its replica of the Eiffel tower and an Egyptian pyramid.
For all ages and interest, you will surely have a blast during your stay in Las Vegas.
As travelers would always say, there’s more than meets the eye.
Los Angeles, a well-off and vibrant city and one of the world’s entertainment capitals offers perfect weather to tourists who want to explore the area.
With countless attractions, activities, diverse culture, century old history, world-class entertainment, state of the art architectures, and renowned skyscrapers, Los Angeles will surely give you an ultramodern life worth living.
Some of the things that you shouldn’t miss when visiting the largest city of California by population are its top-notch casinos and bars, shopping malls, museums, theme parks, beaches, wineries & breweries, countless mansions, and exciting nightlife.
Of course, who would miss visiting the Hollywood sign that the world knows, right?
If you’re into relaxation and hearing soothing music while drinking bourbon whiskey (optional) just like what Niklaus and other characters from the famous American series ‘The Originals’ always used to do, New Orleans in Louisiana is your perfect destination.
It’s a lively city full of different things to do, celebrations to attend to, and different people to talk to.
When in New Orleans, you’ll get to enjoy lovely music (jazz, rock, pop, etc., numerous festivals, extraordinary attractions, friendly locals, and of course, its native dishes.
The city is also known as “the birthplace of jazz,” making it a favorite spot for musicians and anyone alike, even people who loved dancing.
With lots of influences from African, Caribbean, French, German, Irish, Spanish, and Sicilian, New Orleans is considered as one of the United States’ international cities.
How to Get Around
Ride a Bus
Inter city bus is one of the cheapest and fastest way to get around if you don’t mind slight inconvenience. It’s not so easy to find in rural area but they run around the clock in major highways. Note that most of the time there is no seat guarantee even if you already book before. The top operators are Megabus and Greyhound, although you can also book a ride using Flixbus.
Book a Flight
US is home to many budget airlines, some better than the other. SouthWest and JetBlue are the obvious top selections with tons of good reviews and ratings but if you see good deals on other airlines, by all means take them. A few things to note before you book your flight:
- Most discount tickets are non-refundable so be very sure of your schedule when you book
- To cut even more cost, you can opt to fly at night which usually offer lower fare.
- Pay attention to luggage policy when booking a discount flight, some of them might only allow hand luggage and will charge extra if you need baggage space.
Take the Train
Train in America is operated by Amtrak and by all means it is not the cheapest nor the fastest way to travel. However it would be a relaxing journey with beautiful scenery along the way, not to mention all the space you can have for yourself. Compare that to the cramped seats in bus or plane and you have a winner. Train line in the US connect all major cities and some rural areas.
Be warned that ‘not the cheapest’ mean sometime it even more expensive than a plane ticket so be very sure if you plan to ride one. Another thing to keep in mind is everyone need to have a seat so you need to reserve a seat even if you already booked. Be sure to reserve your seat way ahead, especially on major routes where seats can be scarce quickly.
Rent a Car
Driving is very much a part of American culture and it has been since the automobile revolution. Today with the vastness of the land and many different cultures and natures to visit, road trip is one way to experience the best America has to offer. You can rent a car pretty much everywhere and drop them conveniently at your destination. If you’re interested in this, pay attention to some points:
- You need to own an international driving permit. Additionally you need to already having a driving license for at least 1 year.
- You will need to pay for insurance and if you’re under 25 the cost will be higher.
- You need to own a credit card. This is not strictly as a way to pay but for them to check you out.
- You can rent a car at any major airport but renting in the city proper might be cheaper.
Some of the oldest and most popular car rental in the US are Hertz, Alamo, and Avis. Rather than coming and rent whatever available nearby, you can prepare by booking beforehand via DiscoverCars or RentalCars. These 2 sites will search all available cars for rent from multiple major car rental companies and display it in one page. This will make it easier for you to spot the best deal.
Adventuring on An RV
If you’re into the idea of a long road trip with multiple stops at beautiful places, consider to rent an RV (Recreational Vehicle, also known as camper or motorhome). An RV is a modified vehicle with sufficient amenities to support life on the road such as bed, kitchen, fridge, and so on. You then can take this mini moving house to many parts of the US. If you want to try the romantic “van life” at least once, this is the time.
There are several type of RV to choose, depending on the size, amenities, and how many people it can accommodate. Check RVShare to find an RV you can rent (similar to how AirBnb works). Otherwise if you choose to rent from a company check MotorHomeRepublic for vast selections of RVs you can rent (and drop) at different cities.
Either you opt for a car or an RV, pay attention to gas prices as they may vary between region. If you come from major European cities or Canada, you’ll be happy to see general gas prices in the US.
Join A Tour
If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of researching and planning, there is always option to leave it up to the professional. Book a 2-5 days tour that cover most (if not all) places you want to visit, then sit back and enjoy the experience. You might have to visit some places you’re not interested in, however you always have the option to not joining a certain day of the tour activities to wander on your own. Check out GetYourGuides and TourRadar for various options tailored to all kind of interests.
Another alternative is to visit the city or area you’re interested in and take a few hours to one day tour to get the best experience guided by a local. Check out GetYourGuides and TakeWalks for plenty of selections from walking in Antelope canyon, touring around the Capitol Hill, cruising in San Diego harbor, or watching city landscape from 86th floor observatory in Empire State Building.
Moving around in Urban Areas
When you’re within a city and did not opt to rent a car, there are several ways to get around:
- Taxi: taxi can be found anywhere in major cities, they’re convenient and fast but quite pricey.
- Ride sharing: the most popular ride sharing services in the US are Uber and Lyft. They’re generally cheaper than taxi and if you’re willing to share a ride with others you can push the cost even lower.
- Public transport: each city has their own version of public transport, including a variation of underground train (subway/metro/etc) and regular bus. Some provide pass you can use for a few days ride so check them out. Also check San Francisco for the experience of riding the archaic cable car that has been around since the 1890: the tram.
Best Time to Visit USA
The best time to visit depend highly on what you want to see and experience, and of course your budget.
Spring and Fall: Shoulder Season
Spring (late March – late June) and Fall (late September to late December) would generally be the best time for most people. The weather is okay, not scorching hot but not bone chilling either, perfect to visit one (or 10) of 400+ beautiful national parks the US has to offer. Temperature ranges between 11°C – 25°C in spring and 8°C – 22°C in fall, still a tshirt/thin jacket season for many people.
With a bit pour here and there (depending on where you are) you still can do outdoor activities with no problem. And most of all, you wont see crowds of tourists everywhere, which means no waiting in line and cheaper cost on both accommodation and transportation.
Summer: Peak Season
Summer in the US starts late June and last until late September. With summer holiday coming and kids are finally free from school, throngs of local tourists join the fray. This means lines everywhere and soaring prices in everything from hotel room to plane tickets. Beaches will be crowded and popular restaurants in favorite destinations will be jam-packed.
Temperature will be at its hottest around the year at 21°C – 29°C and everyone wants to be out doing something. The weather is nice, all attractions are open, and you can wear relaxing tshirt-shorts combo anywhere. If you’re visiting on July you can also watch the grand 4th July celebration held in pretty much every city.
Winter: Off Season
With fall ended around end of December, winter starts and will last until late March. As the temperature drops to a single digit, snowfalls start to become common sight. Expect temperature to range between 3°C – 15°C . Understandably, fewer tourists choose to visit during this season.
However, it is a great time to enjoy the Christmas celebration held everywhere: the trees, the decorations, the glittering multicolor lamps , and of course, the shopping. If you’re into skiing and general winter sports, various ski resorts around the country open their doors for unforgettable (although might be painful if you’re not careful) experiences.
Where to Stay
Where you stay depends on your budget and whether you’re traveling solo or with companion.
Hostel is somehow the go-to-accommodation for backpacker but they’re not as popular in the US compared to, let’s say, Europe. Thus you might not be able to find them at every city. If you’re traveling alone and looking to save expense, hostel is a good choice. Check out HostelWorld for a selection of great hostels, some with thousands of reviews.
Rent a Whole Place (Apartment or House)
If you’re traveling in a group with friends or family, renting a whole place can be cheaper, fun, and offer unique experiences (especially if you normally do not live together). The selection ranges from small studio apartment to a whole house with 5 bedrooms and swimming pool, take the one that suits you! Browse Vrbo and AirBnb for lists of rental sorted by ratings and reviews from previous guests and find your best match!
Motel, Hotel, and Bed & Breakfast
Motel, Hotel, and B&B are kind of similar, they all offer a private room you can rent with a few selected amenities.
Motel is short for ‘motor hotel’ created to cater for motorist who’re looking for a cheap place to crash before continuing their trip on the next day. As it is, they’re usually close to main roads, have large parking space, and price comparable to cheap hotels. If you opt for an American experience and go for a road trip, dropping by a motel will complete the experience.
Hotels are usually part of a chain, they’re professionally managed, sterile and clean, with services you can more or less expect. If you want standard cleanliness, room service, breakfast buffet in the morning, and perhaps a fitness center, staying in a hotel would be perfect for you.
Find the best selections of motels and hotels in your destination at Booking.com
Bed & Breakfast (or B&B) is a small inn, usually around 10 rooms or less, and most of the time managed directly by the owner. This would give it personal touch you won’t find in a standardized hotel chain. As the name suggest, breakfast will always be prepared for you every morning. Many of the B&Bs buildings are old, well maintained, and beautiful. Check out B&B for unique accommodation experience seldom exist anywhere else.
Find a beautiful B&B at BnBFinder.
Travel Safety and Covid Policy
Staying safe while traveling these days means you need to protect yourself from deadly disease in addition of the usual awareness to avoid crime/accident.
General Safety Tips
As for the usual part, pay attention to some points:
- Gun violence and terrorist’s attacks cover news headlines many times in the last few years but the chance it happens to you is very slim to none.
- Pay attention to the news for natural disasters, commonly earthquakes and hurricanes. Hurricanes are more or less can be predicted way ahead before they actually hit so you have time to make alteration to your travel plan.
- If you rent a car or an RV, drive carefully especially on highways.
- Use common sense when traveling in a city. Keep your belonging on sight, don’t explore shady parts of the city, be sceptic if a stranger tries to offer you something.
- If you’re planning to visit national parks (which you definitely should) pay attention to guides about wildlife, especially bears.
Prepared as you are, there will be times when things don’t go as planned. It can be it losing your luggage, getting injured skiing, or needing medical attention for a specific illness. During these times, owning a dependable travel insurance can save you from headache of dealing with it on your own. Check out WorldNomads for a selections of protection plans so you can focus on the fun parts of your adventures.
The covid policy is fluid and keep changing as the situation improves or deteriorate. Read here to check a list of requirements needed for non US citizen to enter the country by air travel. Based on 10 November update, you are allowed to enter if you already fully vaccinated and able to show negative Covid-19 result upon arrival.
Read here to see what vaccine brands are accepted.
USA Trip Cost
Accommodation, transportation, and meal cost vary between cities in US and for sure some areas will be cheaper than the other. However considering that you as a tourist will visit more interesting places, the cost would be on the higher side. The following price ranges are made based on one of the larger cities you’d likely come to visit:
- Rent a room or small apartment: $80 – $150/night
- Rent an entire house with 2-3 bedrooms : $200-$300/night
- Motel: $90 – $120/night
- 3 stars hotel: $170 – $250/night
- Luxury (5 stars) hotel: $400 and above
- Fast food or food truck: $5 – $10/meal
- Decent restaurant: $15 – $35/meal
- Fine dining: $45 and above
- Taxi: starts around $3.50 then about $1.25 per km ($2 per mile)
- Ferry: $10 – $25 / trip
- Bus: $2.75 – $7
- Subway ticket: around $3/trip
- Subway pass: $33 for a week
- Rent a car, small sedan for 4 people: $125/day
- Rent a car, SUV for 5 people: $140/day
- Rent an RV, 2 person bed: $230 – $300/day
- Gas price: about $3.5/gallon ($0.95/ liter)
- National Parks: about $20 for a week if you’re on foot
- Zoo entry: $20
- Museum entry: $25
- Theme park entry: $100 – $150