Clear water of Lake Tahoe California in summer with snowcapped mountains in the background--one of the best places to visit in the USA bucket list

USA Bucket List: 50 Best Places to Visit in the US

From snowcapped mountains to tropical beaches, from some of the world’s most iconic cities to some of its most incredible deserts, from the east coast to the west, one thing is incredibly certain: there is absolutely no shortage of awe-inspiring, utterly diverse, and incredibly beautiful places to visit in the USA.

Our home country boasts one of the most incredible national park systems on the planet, along with a huge variety of cities, small towns, and other gorgeous places that ensure that a lifetime would not be long enough to see all of the best travel destinations in the USA.

… But that won’t stop us from trying to enjoy as many of the most amazing vacations in the United States as we can.

We teamed up with several other travel bloggers to put together this giant USA bucket list, and definitely added a few new spots to our personal list of places to see in the US in the process!

From coast to coast, city to countryside, here are the best places to visit in the USA.

Table of Contents

Best Cities to Visit in the USA

National parks + other beautiful places for a us vacation, beaches + islands for your usa bucket list, other beautiful places in the usa to visit.

antelope canyon in arizona with a beam of light streaming into the canyon

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New York, New York

From Disha of Disha Discovers

New York is one of the most iconic and beautiful cities in the United States and even the world.

It truly is a city that everyone should visit at least once in their lives even if it’s just for a quick weekend in NYC !

The tall buildings are mesmerizing and awe-inspiring, it’s home to some of the most exquisite museums and galleries in the world, and New York City is brimming with so much to explore and see.

Plus, NYC is a foodie’s heaven with cuisines from all over the world.

… And, these are only a few of the many reasons to visit this magnificent city.

kate storm standing at a magnifying glass on liberty island overlooking financial district manhattan

Some bucket-list-worthy things to do in New York City are to watch a play on Broadway, see the Statue of Liberty, hang out in Time Square, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, and take a stroll around Central Park.

A few museums to visit are the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met), the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, the Guggenheim, and the American Museum of Natural History.

Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, 5th Avenue, Empire State Building, and Chelsea Market are must-sees as well.

Whatever you decide to do in New York City , you’re in for a real treat!

This city will leave you feeling inspired and you’ll want to book another trip to come back!

kate storm spinning in front of manhattan bridge in brooklyn, a must see duing 4 days in nyc

Miami, Florida

From Veronika of Travel Geekery

Vibrant and colorful Miami is, without a doubt, one of the best places to visit in the US.

The downtown area merges into wonderfully diverse neighborhoods from Little Havana to Coral Gables.

However, most visitors to the vibrant yet laid-back city head to its beaches located on a long stretch of a barrier island.

South Beach especially is where the glamor’s at, topped by stylish Ocean Drive, which is lined with elegant Art Deco houses including Versace’s mansion, trendy restaurants, and nightclubs… the scene is pretty lively there.

Kate in a pink dress next to a blue Vespa on Ocean Avenue.

The beach itself features uniquely colored watchtowers spread around nice light sand. The waves are mostly mild. Pelicans like it here too and often float on the water near people.

Watching a sunrise on the beach belongs to one of the best experiences one can have in the area.

Miami City and its beaches can easily be visited  even without a car .

The public transport network and the ample ride/bike-sharing services make it an easy destination for any type of traveler.

Blue and yellor art deco lifeguard stand on South Beach in Miami, which is a must-see beach for your USA bucket list!

San Diego, California

From Maria of San Diego Explorer

San Diego is the perfect California beach city and a must on any USA bucket list.

Also known as America’s Finest City, San Diego has a lot to offer, whether you are looking for a beach getaway at one of the many beach resorts in San Diego , a fun time in the city, or a mix of both.

Here are some of the best things to do in San Diego!

In Downtown San Diego, there is something for everyone: from eating delicious Italian fare in Little Italy to visiting the Midway Museum to strolling through Seaport Village, and having a fun night out in the Gaslamp Quarter.

If you love the outdoors and animals, visit Balboa Park and the world-famous San Diego Zoo.  

cityscape of san diego california on a sunny day

And then, there are the beaches: San Diego has some of the best beaches in Southern California.

Some of the most popular ones are Mission Beach, Coronado, and the beaches in La Jolla.

You can relax on the sand, take surfing lessons, or ride your bike along the boardwalk for a fun day on the beach.  

San Diego has so much to offer and is simply a fun city, no matter what you are in the mood for. 

San Diego CA harbor with rows of sailboats in the foreground and the skyline in the back right of the photo

Austin, Texas

The Live Music Capital of the World and capital of the state of Texas is located in the heart of Texas Hill Country and offers a fantastic combination of excellent nightlife, plenty of outdoor activities and day trip opportunities, and truly phenomenal food.

Don’t leave without having at least one giant meal each worth of TexMex and barbecue!

While in Austin, be sure to visit trendy South Congress Avenue, watch the bats fly out from under the South Congress Bridge (if you’re visiting at the right time of year, that is), see a show, and go for a hike (or if it’s too hot, hit the lake!).

Want to get out of town?

Austin is within an easy day trip of natural swimming holes, Texas’ wine country, and adorable small towns.

Austin TX skyline with the South Congress Bridge in the foreground

New Orleans, Louisiana

Good food, good music, and good times: of all the best places to visit in the USA, NOLA definitely ranks toward the top of the list for places to go to simply have an amazing time.

There’s far more to New Orleans than Mardi Gras, Bourbon Street, and beignets, though.

With a dark and complex history heavily impacted by slavery and a constantly evolving modern culture, New Orleans deserves more than just partying during your visit–though there’s plenty of time for that, too.

While in New Orleans, be sure to listen to some jazz, learn a bit about the city’s history, visit the famous Jackson Square, head to the Garden District, check out the beautiful oak trees in City Park, and–this is very important–eat your heart out.

NOLA is indisputably home to some of the best food in the country–so good, in fact, that the food alone would be a good enough reason to add New Orleans to your USA bucket list.

For those interested in New Orleans’ spooky legends, a ghost tour through the French Quarter at night is also worth adding to your to-do list!

Street in NOLA French Quarter at night with neon lights from the bars lighting it up--don't miss a chance to experience the legendary New Orleans nightlife during your 3 days in NOLA itinerary!

Washington, DC

From Jordan of The Solo Life

One of the best travel destinations in the United States is the nation’s capital, Washington, DC.

With everything from museums to monuments to the White House and Capitol Building, DC has something for everyone .

In addition, DC’s public transportation and numerous free attractions make it a surprising destination for the budget-friendly traveler.

Kid-friendly options include the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and the National Air and Space Museum.

Art lovers will enjoy the National Gallery of Art or the Hirshhorn Museum for modern and contemporary art.

sunset on the national mall in washington dc facing the washington monument, one of the best places to visit on the east coast america

History buffs should check out the Library of Congress and the National Archives Museum.

Besides museums, the National Mall and Tidal Basin are must-visit locations to see the Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, and Lincoln Memorial, among others.

The best times to visit DC include early summer before it gets too hot or in the fall once summer break is over.

Although extremely crowded due to the Cherry Blossoms, springtime is also a gorgeous time to visit.

No matter what time of year, Washington, DC is one of the best destinations to visit in the US.

Washington Monument in Washington DC framed by cherry blossoms in the foreground. Washington DC is one of the best places to visit in the United States

San Francisco, California

The city of hills, ocean views, and the famous Golden Gate Bridge is at the top of many people’s lists of bucket lists for the United States.

And, with an endless list of things to do that cater to all interests, why not?

Be sure to pay a visit to the touristed highlights that most interest you–Fisherman’s Wharf (and its adorable sea lions!), Alcatraz, walking across the Golden Gate Bridge, visiting the Painted Ladies (of Full House fame), and checking out Lombard Street.

Once you cross those highlights off your list, though, make time for a few less-obvious attractions, like San Francisco’s Japanese Garden, the Land’s End Labyrinth, and Fort Point.

And, of course, you can’t forget to go for a walk in the woods while visiting San Francisco!

Visiting the Muir Woods is an unforgettable experience worthy of your time on any weekend trip to the area.

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco CA shot from above on a clear day

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia has been one of the coolest US cities to visit for centuries, and–like Boston–it features strong ties to the American Revolution.

This is where the Declaration of Independence and the Consitution were signed, touring Independence Hall and visiting the nearby Liberty Bell are among the best things to do in Philadelphia today as a result!

You can’t miss Philly’s food scene when visiting, either–from whoopie pies to Philly cheesesteaks, the city has a (literal) flavor all its own.

elfreths alley in philadelphia, one of the best places to vacation in usa

Start–but don’t finish–exploring Philadelphia’s food scene at the historic Reading Terminal Market.

Be sure to also make time to visit some of Philadelphia’s incredible museums during your visit, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of the American Revolution (we loved this one), and touring the dark but fascinating Eastern State Penitentiary.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is also home to another essential stop in this iconic East Coast City: the Rocky Steps.

And, if you’re willing to work up a sweat, definitely consider running up them yourself during your classic American vacation in Philadelphia!

independence hall in philadelphia on a sunny day with red and pink flowers in the foreground. attractions in usa things to do

Chicago, Illinois

From Wendy of The Nomadic Vegan

Chicago is the third-largest city in the US, and also one of the most ethnically diverse.

Its skyline reflecting off the waters of Lake Michigan is a sight to behold.

No matter what your interests are, whether it’s music, shopping, culture, art, or dining, you could spend months exploring all that Chicago has to offer.

On a shorter USA vacation, though, you can still see quite a few of the best sights in Chicago!

The city’s top museums include the Adler Planetarium, the Field Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Science and Industry, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Don’t forget to check out the many outdoor sculptures and other public works of art around the Loop, either.

View of Chicago IL skyline from willis tower skydeck, a must-see during a 3 day Chicago vacation

A walk along the Magnificent Mile will take you past upscale department stores and through Millennium Park, home of the famous sculpture known as The Bean.

A visit to Bronzeville, also known as “the Black Metropolis”, is a must to learn about the city’s rich African-American history.

Architecture buffs will be interested to know that this is where Frank Lloyd Wright established the Prairie School architectural style. You can find some of his earliest buildings here in Chicago.

You’ll work up an appetite walking the streets of this massive city. This is a good thing, because the restaurant scene here is amazing!

You can find pretty much any cuisine you could imagine, from stylish Japanese to homestyle soul food, and there are even lots of vegetarian and  vegan restaurants in Chicago .

Photo of Chicago train traveling on a bridge over car traffic--using Chicago's public transportation is the best way to get around on a Chicago weekend getaway!

Houston, Texas

From Thanh of The Traveling Asian

Houston, Texas is one of the coolest places to visit in the United States, and while an unexpected vacation option, certainly one that will impress.

After all, it is the 4th largest city in the USA and is often ranked as the most diverse city in the country!

Because of this size, you can expect there to be all kinds of things for you to see and do here in this city.

One of the most iconic places you must visit in the city is Space Center Houston.

There you can learn about NASA and space travel as well as take a tour around the famous mission control center. If you love space, then this place is for you.

sunset over houston texas skyline with pond in the foreground, one of the unexpected places for vacation in usa

Houston is also home to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo which is the biggest rodeo of its kind in the country.

There, you’ll be able to eat some delicious rodeo foods, pet some livestock, learn about animals, play at the amusement park, and even watch a concert by famous celebrities.

But aside from the attractions, Houston is known for its food. Since it is the most diverse city in the country, you can find just about everything available here in this city.

For instance, you can find Tex-Mex, Chinese, Ethiopian, Greek, and many other ethnic cuisines available all around the area.

So if you love food and all things fun, then Houston is definitely the place for you.

Skyline of Houston Texas as seen on a sunny day with a park in the foreground, Houston is one of the best weekend getaways in Texas

Las Vegas, Nevada

From Kimberley of Two Travelling Toques

If you’re looking for a cool place to visit in the USA, you can’t get much cooler than Las Vegas .

This well-known city has been depicted in numerous movies such as The Hangover and Ocean’s Thirteen as party central.

And if that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll definitely find it in Vegas.

Long known as both the wedding capital for a quick place to get married, or the perfect spot to hold a bachelor or bachelorette party, either way, it’s the spot to bring your friends, let loose, and have fun!

Gambling has been a big draw to Las Vegas since the early 1930s, and there is no shortage of showy and extravagant casinos to choose from.

view of venice st marks square in las vegas, one of the best attractions long weekend in vegas getaway

Nightlife also takes center stage here.

From world-class musicians to top-notch magical acts, to dependable artists like Wayne Newton who have had a residency here for years. 

During the day, you can grab a fancy drink and chill by the pool. Or hit up one of the pool parties and listen to the headlining DJ.

Either way, be sure to bring lots of money for the high-end shops, ever-flowing drinks, and dazzling casinos looking to draw you in. 

Welcome to Las Vegas sign, one of the most popular weekend getaways in the USA

Savannah, Georgia

Without a doubt, the small but stunning city of Savannah, Georgia is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the USA.

Featuring absolutely stunning architecture, 22 of its original 24 town squares, endless oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, and some of the best food in the country, spending a few days in Savannah is bound to be a delight.

While you’re there, be sure to meander down beautiful Jones Street, check out Forsyth Park, hear some of the city’s most enduring legends on a ghost tour, enjoy views from River Street, and take in some of Savannah’s complex history at its various house museums and houses of worship.

Don’t forget to set aside plenty of time to eat!

Kate Storm in a black dress in front of a brick home on Jones Street during a long weekend in Savannah GA

While there are dozens of incredible  restaurants in Savannah , favorites include The Olde Pink House and The Grey for special occasions, The Collins Quarter for their legendary lavender mocha latte, and Leopold’s Ice Cream for a scoop of their famous Tutti Frutti ice cream.

Have enough time for a quick  day trip ?

Tybee Island –also known as “Savannah’s Beach”–is less than a 30-minute drive away, and while you certainly won’t want to swim in the summer, strolling along the sand and climbing the lighthouse are a treat.

Jones Street in Savannh GA with a green house in the left foreground and an oak tree on the right. Jones Street is one of the best Savannah photo spots

Los Angeles, California

From Trijit of Budget Travel Buff

Looking for the coolest place to visit in the United States?

Visit Los Angeles; a unique combination of the entertainment industry, gorgeous beaches, great food, and vibrant nightlife.

It is certainly not the cheapest place in California , but for the right travelers, LA is definitely worth the price tag.

Los Angeles is a large city full of tourist attractions that won’t let you stay idle.

If you are a beach lover, LA won’t disappoint you with its stunning beaches that include Malibu, Santa Monica, Manhattan Beach, Venice Beach, Hermosa Beach, and so on.

There are several fantastic museums in LA. LACMA is the most popular one for its diverse art collections and special exhibits.

Skyline of Los Angeles CA with palm trees in the forground, one of the best places to visit in the US

Some other renowned museums are the Grammy Museum, Natural History Museum, and Museum of Broken Relationships.

While visiting LA, you will notice entertainment at every corner of the city. You can see a concert or enjoy a ride at the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park.

If you rent a car in Los Angeles, go for a scenic drive along the Pacific Coast Highway that carves through the mountains of Malibu.

Los Angeles has some of the best restaurants in the US.

Once you are done with LA sightseeing, have lunch at any of these food spots – Diakokuya for ramen, Langer’s for a pastrami sandwich, Guisados for tacos, or pizza at Mozza.

aerial view of santa monica beach near los angeles, one of the best places to vacation in the united states

Seattle, Washington

Set right on the water with the dramatic backdrop of Mount Rainier, it’s no wonder that busy and beautiful Seattle is one of the best USA travel destinations.

When visiting Seattle, be sure to eat your way through Pike Place Market, head to the top of the Space Needle, visit the famous Chihuly Museum, and check out the fun and interesting Museum of Pop Culture.

Looking for interesting neighborhoods?

Head to Fremont, where the self-proclaimed unofficial motto is “des libertas quirkas”, aka “the freedom to be quirky”.

Hoping to spend some time outside?

Nestled in the heart of the magnificent Pacific Northwest, endless waterfalls, trails, and mountains–even Mount Rainier itself–are located within day-tripping distance from Seattle.

Seattle Waterfront with space needle visible through the ferris wheel

Charleston, South Carolina

Located just a couple of hours north of Savannah, Charleston shares a lot of similarities with its neighbor to the south.

Fantastic Lowcountry food, Spanish moss dripping from the trees, beautiful architecture, and lots of history to uncover are wonderful to appreciate in both Charleston and Savannah –but Charleston absolutely has its own distinct personality as well.

On your Charleston vacation, be sure to visit the beautiful and photogenic Rainbow Row, check out the tea-making process at the Charleston Tea Garden, visit the gorgeous and interesting Angel Oak Tree, stroll through Waterfront Park and Battery Park, and check out City Market.

Photo of Rainbow Row in Charleston SC, a must see during a 3 day weekend in Charleston SC

If you’d like to do some shopping while in Charleston, King Street is the place to go.

Those interested in US military history will no doubt want to visit Patriots Point to tour the former US naval ships docked there and Fort Sumter for its history (and views).

Beach lovers, don’t miss the chance to check out nearby Folly Beach and/or Sullivan’s Island!

Kate Storm sitting in front of the pineapple fountain in Charleston SC--choosing whether to visit Savannah or Charleston is no easy task, but we wrote this guide to help!

Orlando, Florida

As the theme park capital of the world, Orlando is one of the most popular places to visit in the USA for both domestic and international visitors, mostly on behalf of one iconic mouse.

As home to Walt Disney World , Orlando is a must-see USA bucket list item for many families across the world, and with four amazing Disney parks packed with rides, experiences, and intense amounts of nostalgia, it’s no wonder why.

Disney isn’t the only theme park game in town, though!

Universal Studios Orlando, home to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, is also a fantastic theme park to visit, and big roller coaster fans may even want to take a day trip to Tampa Bay to experience Busch Gardens.

Though the parks are a big draw for people visiting Orlando with kids and kids at heart alike, theme parks aren’t the only places to visit in and around Orlando.

The Kennedy Space Center, plenty of beaches, and even cool swimming holes like Wekiva Springs are within day-trip distance of Orlando.

Lake Eola Park in Orlando Florida with swams in the water and a skyline visible in the background. Orlando belongs on a bucket list for the United States

Portland, Oregon

Much like Austin, Portland proudly embraces its weirdness, celebrating the eclectic and bizarre in all possible ways–and that makes it endlessly fun to visit!

Bookworms like me will immediately head to Powell’s City of Books–I still think it’s the biggest bookstore I’ve ever visited–while foodies will want to head directly to the local ice cream obsession, Salt & Straw. 

Voodoo Doughnuts, now with a few locations nationally, also originated here and remains popular with tourists (though depending on who you ask, not locals–for what it’s worth, we’d rate the doughnuts 7/10).

During your weekend trip to Portland, make time to visit the Japanese Garden and the International Rose Garden, especially if you visit when everything is in bloom.

Plenty of incredible parts of the Columbia River Gorge, including famous Multnomah Falls, are also within easy reach of Portland and deserve to feature on your USA bucket list!

Photo of steal sign stating "portland oregon" in front of a blue sky, a must-see during 3 days in portland or

Nashville, Tennessee

From Apryl of Southern Traveling Gal

No doubt about it, there’s something about Nashville, that casts a long-lasting spell on travelers.

For travelers visiting Nashville, it’s not unheard of to plan a return trip as soon as the current one is over!

Only in “The Music City” is it possible to catch the latest exhibit at the Frist Art Museum, see a replica of the Parthenon and enjoy live music at venues along the Honky Tonk Highway.

For first-timers, touring country music icons like the Ryman Auditorium and the Country Music Hall of Fame is a must-do.

Don’t overlook artist-specific museums such as the Johnny Cash Museum and Glen Campbell Museum that provides a closer look at these music giants, either.

Much of Nashville’s allure lies within its distinctive neighborhoods, like the Gulch, filled with shops and restaurants.

Skyline of Nashville Tennessee at sunset overlooking the river, one of the most romantic getaways in the United States

It isn’t unusual to spot a long line or two here, typically featuring either people waiting in line to take a photo with the “What Lifts You” mural or getting into Biscuit Love.

Save some room for some barbecue from Peg Leg Porker!

12thSouth offers locally-owned boutiques, stores, and eateries. Also found here is Draper James, the flagship store of Reese Witherspoon’s clothing line.

Be sure to take home some cookies from Christie’s Cookie Company and snap a photo with the “I Believe in Nashville” mural.

Across the Cumberland River is the eclectic East Nashville. Don’t miss out on the mini doughnuts at Donut Distillery.

Depending on time, consider visiting Cheekwood Estates and Gardens, a 55-acre botanical garden, as part of your Nashville getaway.

Of course, no trip to Nashville is complete without hot chicken from Prince’s Hot Chicken or biscuits from Loveless Cafe, located near the Natchez Trace Parkway.

country band playing banjois in nashville tennessee

Boston, Massachusetts

From Linn of Brainy Backpackers

Boston is such a cool city to visit in the USA, rich in history, architecture, and food.

Along the waterfront, you can walk the 43-mile-long Harbor Walk.

But there is so much more to add to see during your trip to Boston, like the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile-long path taking you to 16 significant places in American history.

It is well marked and technically be walked in as little as 90 minutes, though you can download the app and visit each place which will take at least a whole day to complete.

Boston is home to the oldest public park in the United States, Boston Common, which is situated next to Boston Public Garden.

boston public garden in the summer, one of the best things to do in boston ma

You can wander the parks and enjoy a ride in the Boston Public Garden’s historic paddleboats.

Nearby, you’ll find the Boston Public Library at Copley Square, which is an incredibly beautiful Renaissance Revival structure from 1895 that you should visit.

You’ll also find the beautiful neighborhood of Beacon Hill nearby, as well as the trendy neighborhood of Back Bay.

For the best views of the city during your Boston itinerary , visit the Skywalk Observatory.

2 Days in Boston Itinerary: Beacon Hill

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

From Melissa of Parenthood and Passports

Yellowstone National Park is the oldest national park in the United States and one of the best places to visit in the entire country.

Known for its geothermal activity, more than half of the earth’s geysers are located in the national park which straddles the borders of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. 

Old Faithful is one of the most popular things to see in Yellowstone National Park .

The active and predictable geyser erupts approximately 20 times each day.

Visitors to the park gather around to watch the geyser blast hot water and steam into the sky.

Although quite impressive, Old Faithful is just one of many must-see geothermal features found in the park.

View of Grand Prism in Yellowstone National Park, one of the best places to visit in USA

One of the largest hot springs in the world, the Grand Prismatic Spring, is another popular attraction in Yellowstone.

Visitors can get an up-close view of the spring or take a short hike for a stunning overview of Grand Prismatic’s vibrant colors.  

Beyond all of its geothermal features, Yellowstone National Park also boasts beautiful waterfalls, crystal-clear lakes, rivers, and more than 200 species of animals.

Bison, deer, moose, wolves, and even bears live in the park.

Because of all the wildlife in Yellowstone, visitors are strongly encouraged to use caution when hiking or camping and to carry bear spray to protect themselves in the event of an encounter.

herd of bison crossing the road and causing a traffic jam in yellowstone national park, one of the best places to vacation usa

Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho

From Allison of She Dreams of Alpine

Idaho is often overlooked when it comes to cool places to visit in the US, but the tiny town of Stanley serves as the gateway to an abundance of outdoor adventures in the stunning Sawtooth Mountain range and along the swift Salmon River.

Although it has a population of less than 100, Stanley is easily accessible in a 3-hour drive from the main airport in Boise or about a 1-hour drive if you’re coming from Sun Valley.

The best way to explore the Sawtooth Mountains is on one of the many hiking trails.

The hike to Alice Lake is a perfect introduction to the area, and you can either do a 12-mile day hike or backpack the longer Alice/Toxaway Loop over the course of a few days.

sawtooth mountains idaho on sunny day with lake in the foreground, one of the best places to vacation usa

Whichever option you choose, you’ll discover gorgeous views of Alice Lake framed by the “Dragon’s Back” peaks of the Sawtooth Mountains, including Idaho’s own “El Capitan.”

For fun on the water, you can go fishing along the Salmon River or swim in Redfish Lake.

When you need some rejuvenation after your adventures, you can reward yourself with great food and drinks at the Stanley Supper Club and take a dip in the hot springs at the Mountain Village Resort.

Once you head home, you’ll surely find yourself raving to your friends about this hidden gem of a mountain town – unless you want to keep the Sawtooth Mountains and Stanley a secret for yourself!

Sawtooth Mountains Idaho with a lake visible on the left of the photo and mountain peaks in the background. These mountains definitely belong on your USA bucket list!

Oregon Coast

From Kay of The Awkward Traveller

The Oregon Coast is one of the most underrated travel destinations in the USA, but for those who love moody, dramatic scenery, it is the best place to be.

Although the actual coast isn’t very long (338 or so miles, about a 7.5-hour drive without stopping), it makes for a great weekend or longer trip with added stops.

Starting at the north end, about 2 hours outside of Portland, the city of Astoria will serve as your jumping-off point with picturesque bridges and locations from The Goonies.

Heading south, take a pitstop at the cheese capital of the state  –  Tillamook , Oregon.

One car driving along the oregon coast as shot from above

Visit the Tillamook Cheese Factory and gorge yourself on all things dairy before continuing on to stunning Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area.

The highlight of the coast will be Yachats, Oregon, with incredible farm-to-table restaurants that are dedicated to sourcing local sustainable fish, meat, and produce providers.

On the southern end of the coast, you can find sand dunes in Florence, and natural rock arches among the cliffs in Brookings.

If your tolerance for rain is low, summer will be the best season to visit weather-wise, while winter and spring will have smaller crowds and lower prices.

Oregon Coast at sunset looking toward Haystack Rock, one of the prettiest places in Oregon

Acadia National Park, Maine

From Ale of Sea Salt & Fog

Acadia National Park is one of the most beautiful national parks in the eastern United States, perfectly showcasing the beauty of the Maine coast.

Acadia has miles of hiking and biking trails, as well as easy coastal access for kayaking and sailing. 

When visiting, plan to spend at least  2 days in Acadia National Park  so you can make the most of your time there.

One of the best things to do includes watching the sunrise at Cadillac Mountain, where you’ll get stunning views of the islands that dot the coast.

Things to Do in Acadia National Park

Drive Park Loop Road to enjoy some of the park’s most famous attractions, including Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, and Jordan Pond (don’t forget to stop for popovers at Jordan Pond House!).

For hiking, choose a paved Carriage Road to take you down to one of the many picturesque ponds and lakes in the park.

Plan your visit in the fall to see the famous New England fall foliage in full display, or in the summer to enjoy long, sunny days perfect for hiking.

If you love the outdoors, add Acadia to your list of places to visit in the US – you won’t be disappointed.

Things to Do in Acadia National Park

Joshua Tree National Park, California

From Monica of This Rare Earth

Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California is an incredible destination in the United States. 

This desert ecosystem became a national park as recently as 1994, and it’s easy to see why it was chosen!

The Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert meet in the middle of Joshua Tree National Park, which means that you will see two very different landscapes depending on which half of the park you are in.  

The Mojave Desert is home to the famous Joshua Tree – a tall and spindly yucca – as well as giant boulders popular with climbers and hikers. 

The majority of the park’s hiking trails are found in this region.

desert landscape at sunrise in joshua tree national park, an excellent part of several of the best west coast road trips usa

However,  while planning your Joshua Tree National Park itinerary , it would be a mistake to skip the Colorado Desert at the southern end of the park.  

The Colorado Desert is hotter, lower in elevation, and flatter, but holds gorgeous landscapes full of cacti and, at the right time of year, wildflowers. 

 In the summer months, avoid strenuous hikes or leave early in the morning as temperatures can reach over 100 degrees.

Joshua Tree National Park is a designated Dark Sky Park, perfect for stargazing and well outside the bright light of the city.  

Joshua Tree is roughly 2.5 hours outside of Los Angeles.

Joshua Tree NP in California with a Joshua tree on the right side of the photo

From Chris of Called to Wander

Alaska is known as the Last Frontier, evoking adventure for those looking to travel to a truly unique place.

Because the state is massive, at over twice the size of Texas, you could spend as much or as little time exploring it as you have.

Many people take cruises through the Inside Passage and make stops in places like Ketchikan, Haines, and Seward.

Others fly into the main cities of Anchorage or Fairbanks and then rent vehicles and head off on their own adventures.

By far the best way to make the most of an Alaska vacation (though it requires a steep time commitment) is by driving to Alaska and spending as much time as you’d like wandering from one place to the next.

glacier in glacier np in alaska with water in the foreground and a mountain in the background

You can drive to the Arctic Ocean along the Dalton Highway, view North America’s largest mountain (Mt. Denali), or observe wildlife like caribou, grizzly bear, and moose.

Or, catch a flight out to a handful of the most remote national parks, or drive up to and hike out to massive, ancient glaciers.

If you enjoy fishing, go after halibut in Homer or salmon in the famous Russian River.

Regardless of what kind of travel you prefer, Alaska offers adventure for everyone and should definitely be on your travel bucket list!

Train along an Alaska mountainside with wildflowers in the foreground and a mountain in the background. Alaska is one of the most beautiful places in the us

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

From Dan of Cabin Critic

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is the most popular national park in the US, hosting over 10 million annual visitors, and it definitely belongs on your bucket list for the USA.

Located in Tennessee and North Carolina, the park has diverse animal life, plants, and natural attractions. There are tons to do and see. 

If you are feeling adventurous you can go zoom down zip lines, go white water rafting, or go mountain biking. 

For a more relaxed trip, you can go on hikes, see beautiful waterfalls, or simply go for a scenic drive.

sunrise of great smoky mountains, one of the most beautiful national parks in the us

Cades Cove, for example, is a broad valley surrounded by mountains you can drive through that is well known for providing the best opportunities for seeing wildlife like white-tailed deer, black bears, coyotes, and more.

When you aren’t enjoying the outdoors there are numerous mountain towns to enjoy like Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, or Asheville .

Stay in  one of the cabins with a view  of the mountainsides and check out the local attractions like Dollywood in Pigeon Forge or the Biltmore Estate in Asheville . 

View of the Great Smoky Mountains during fall foliage season in the southern USA

Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

From Michele of Adventures Abound

Just a 2-hour drive from both Portland and Seattle rest the foothills of the towering volcano Mount Rainier.

Known to the Indigenous since time immemorial, Mount Tahoma is covered in unimaginable beauty and can be enjoyed year-round. 

Visit in the summertime for hiking through meadows strewn with wildflowers of every color, and in the fall for ripening berries and a better chance to catch the trails and lakes free of ice and snowmelt on a variety of great day hikes just outside of Seattle .

To extend your visit overnight, pitch a tent in an established campground, stay in a rustic lodge in the national park, or backpack along the Wonderland trail that circumvents the park.

Not feeling up to a lengthy hike?

hiker in a field of wildflowers in mount rainier np with mount rainier visible in the background

Just driving through Mount Rainier National Park will afford endless views of waterfalls, glaciers, lakes, and even the chance to spot wildlife. 

For those thrill-seekers looking for a more challenging adventure, apply for a permit to climb more than 8,000 feet to the summit, but be aware this is only for experienced mountaineers.

Mount Rainier National Park can also be enjoyed in the winter when the park sees an average of 55 feet of snowfall or more.

Head to the Crystal Mountain gondola to catch a great view of the peak while skiing and snowboarding down the slopes, or pick one of many great locations to snowshoe and backcountry ski along the mountain.

Whatever the choice for season and activity, Mount Rainier National Park is sure to be full of memories and adventure in one of the most beautiful destinations in the United States.

Snowcapped Mount Rainier with wildflowers in the foreground, one of the most beautiful places in usa

Arches National Park, Utah

Home to over 2,000 naturally-occurring sandstone arches, Arches National Park in Utah is one of the most uniquely beautiful places in the USA.

Whether you’re hiking to the incredible Delicate Arch (so iconic that it’s featured on Utah’s license plates), wandering through the Devil’s Garden, or taking one of the shorter hikes to visit some of the most impressive arches in the park, there’s no shortage of things to do.

Even one day in Arches National Park is well worth your time, but more would certainly be better.

Arches National Park is also home to internationally-recognized dark skies and some of the best stargazing in the United States–in order to see the best of the park, be sure to visit at least once after dark!

And, while Arches National Park is easily one of the best places to vacation in the US in its own right, the nearby town of Moab also makes an excellent launching pad to visit Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park.

Double Arch in Arches National Park Utah

Olympic National Park, Washington

From Sophie and Adam of We Dream of Travel

Not only does Olympic National Park cover nearly a million acres, but it is also the most biodiverse of all the US national parks.

It has it all, from glaciated mountains to breathtaking coastlines, crashing waterfalls, ancient rainforests, enchanting hot springs, and plentiful wildlife.

With such a treasure trove of natural landscapes, Olympic National Park is easily one of the best places to visit in the US.

Mountain lovers should budget plenty of time to hike the trails of Hurricane Ridge.

Here you will discover stunning views above the clouds, as well as an abundance of wildlife.

Rocky Beach in Olympic National Park washington at sunset, a fantastic view along a west coast usa road trip destination

A great way to explore the park is on foot, particularly as much of the park is roadless. There are numerous multi-day hikes to choose from and it’s popular with backpackers.

The 17.4 miles Hoh River Trail is one of the most impressive, taking you through a flourishing rainforest to the base of Mount Olympus.

For coastal visitors, Second Beach is one of the best Olympic Park photography  locations and a perfect spot for sunset. 

However, with 73 miles of wild coastline, there’s plenty to explore!

There are endless options for the waterfall, forest, and nature lovers too.

In Sol Duc forest you can watch crystal water plunge into the lush greenery.

Or, you can choose to explore the vibrant green mosses of the Hoh Rainforest.  

No matter which part of Olympic National Park you visit, you will not be disappointed.

Forested trail in Olympic National Park with a river flowing across the photo. Olympic National Park definitely belongs on your USA bucket list!

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Stretching over a mile deep, the Grand Canyon in northwest Arizona is one of the largest–and most impressive–canyons on the planet, and one of the most popular places to visit in the USA!

Come to Grand Canyon National Park to admire views from the rim, hike into the canyon , watch the sunrise and sunset, and perhaps even hike all the way down to the Colorado River.

If you do want to hike to the river, though, be warned: doing so is a 2-day commitment!

Anyone taking a southwest road trip in the USA should consider adding a visit to the majestic Grand Canyon to their list: it’s truly a sight that you’ll never forget.

View of the Grand Canyon from the south rim near sunset. The Grand Canyon is one of the best USA travel destinations

Death Valley National Park, California

From Michelle of The Wandering Queen

One of the best places to visit in California is Death Valley National Park .

This park is filled with bright white salt flats, mountains splashed with pastel colors, and eerie rocks that move on their own.

This park is such a strange yet unique environment which makes it perfect for avid photographers.

One of the best things to do is to watch the sunrise at Zabriskie Point. The views are glorious as the sun slowly sets on the unique colorful mountains.

Afterward, make sure to hike the Golden Canyon, Gower Gulch, and Badlands Loop Hike. The trailhead is right next to Zabriskie Point.

mesquite dunes in death valley national park during a pink sunrise

Another popular activity is visiting Badwater Basin. The basin stands at 282 feet below sea level and is filled with white salt.

This is a great spot to take pictures of the salt in contrast with the tall, dark mountains in the distance.

Nearby the salt flats, you can visit the devil’s golf course where spikey salt formations cover the ground.

The next outstanding area to visit is the Artists Drive. The mountain is sprinkled with pastel colors like yellow, pink, purple, and green.

It truly is a spectacular thing to see!

Rocky Mountain National Park

From Jyoti of Story At Every Corner

Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most gorgeous parks in the US.

It’s also easily reachable from Denver, Colorado, which has many flights from across the country, making it fairly simple to access and one of the most popular places to vacation in America!

The best place to stay is in Estes Park , a quaint little tourist town in the mountains.

There are many small towns all around the park and many choices for all price points. 

white and green shop in downtown estes park. shopping downtown is one of the best things to do in estes park colorado

The easiest way to visit RMNP park is by car.

You can then enjoy the park by making stops at each vista point and taking hikes from there.

Most stops have short and long hikes; easy and challenging hikes.

There is a hike for everyone, but there is also spectacular scenery right at the vista points, even without a hike.

Keep in mind that the popularity of Rocky Mountain National Park means that certain places, like Bear Lake Road, must be accessed via reservation.

Kate Storm standing in front of Emerald Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, one of the best places to visit in colorado

The most popular road that goes across the park is the scenic Trail Ridge Road.

If you don’t have time to visit anything else, I recommend driving Trail Ridge Road from Estes Park to the town of Grand Lake.

Other major attractions include Sprague Lake and Bear Lake, to the south of the trail ridge road.

They offer absolutely stunning views and many wildlife viewing opportunities along with the drives. 

There is so much to do around Denver that RMNP can be part of a week-long itinerary visiting Colorado  or a trip just for RMNP. 

jeremy storm in a gray backpack hiking in rocky mountain national park

Set in the Sierra Nevada Mountains along the border of California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is easily one of the most beautiful places in the US.

With crystal-clear water and plenty of activities in and out of the water, from hiking to SUP to swimming, there is no shortage of ways to appreciate the otherworldly beauty of Lake Tahoe .

To enjoy the views of the lake itself, summer is definitely the best time to visit–but winter has its charms, too, including plenty of skiing and incredible views of the lake framed by bright white snow.

From romantic couples’ retreats to fun getaways to Lake Tahoe with kids , all kinds of travelers will find something to love about Lake Tahoe.

Lake Tahoe from above during the summer, one of the best USA travel destinations

Havasu Falls, Arizona

Located on Havasupai tribal lands not far from the Grand Canyon, Havasu Falls is simultaneously one of the most famous waterfalls in the USA and one of the hardest to access.

In order to visit Havasu Falls, you’ll need to secure an extremely competitive permit (they sell out months in advance) and complete a 10-mile hike in each direction.

You’ll also need to spend the night nearby, as it’s one of the permit requirements set out by the Havasupai people.

If you manage to swing both the logistics and the hike, though, the rewards are pretty spectacular.

Havasu Falls in Arizona, one of the most beautiful places in USA. Turquoise waterfall with orange walls surrounding it

Zion National Park, Utah

Home to some of what are quite possibly the best hikes in the country, Utah’s most-visited national park is absolutely one of the best places to see in the US.

Test your fear of heights (if you have one, that is) by hiking the incredible Angel’s Landing, and be rewarded with stunning views of Zion Canyon.

Venture deep into the Virgin River by hiking The Narrows , a hike that takes place literally in the river!

Seek out incredible views along Observation Point, the Canyon Overlook Trail , and the Watchman Trail.

Try to score a permit to hike the Subway, but if you can’t get one, don’t worry: there’s more to see in Zion National Park than you can cover in one vacation.

No matter how you spend your days at Zion National Park, there’s no doubt that you’ll be experiencing something worthy of a bucket list!

Kate Storm at the viewpoint at the Canyon Overlook Trail in Zion National Park Utah

Texas Bluebonnet Trail

California’s magnificent wildflowers may be a bit better known outside of the country, but Texas’ phenomenal spread of bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes that decorate the countryside each spring absolutely belong on anyone’s USA bucket list.

Whether you choose to visit the official Texas Bluebonnet Trail near Ennis (not far from Dallas) or head to the Texas Hill Country , there is no shortage of places to admire bluebonnets in Texas.

Though the blooming times can of course vary a bit depending on the weather, late March and early April are generally the best times to experience the beauty of Texas’ bluebonnets.

Wooden cart parked in a Texas field surrounded by bluebonnets. Beautiful countryside like this close by many of the best weekend getaways in Texas!

Upper Peninsula, Michigan

From Emily of Em’s on the Road

If you’re looking for unforgettable outdoor experiences without the price tag of popular destinations out west, then the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is the place for you.

One reason the Upper Peninsula (or U.P.) is really unique is that it is an ideal place for adventure seekers all year long. 

In the warmer months, the U.P is a great beach destination in the Midwest thanks to its location with beachfront on Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and Lake Huron.

In the fall, pack your hiking boots and tackle rocky hiking trails for colorful views you’d never expect in the Midwest.

With an unobstructed panoramic view of Lake Superior, the hike up  Sugar Loaf mountain in Marquette, Michigan  is one of the most popular in the region.

Thanks to some serious snowfall, there’s so much to do in the U.P. in the winter months.

There are cross-country ski trails, snowmobiling trails, downhill skiing, dog sledding, ice climbing, and more. 

View of Lake Superior with a rainbow over it during fall foliage season on Sugarloaf Mountain in Michigan

Redwood National Forest

From Dhara of Roadtripping California

Most visitors to the Golden State put   California’s national parks at the top of their itineraries because they are just so spectacular.

Redwood National and State Parks, in the northern part of the state, offer you the chance to stroll among giant redwoods, some of the tallest and oldest trees on the planet.

A group of five parks, Redwood National and State Parks feature not just the towering redwoods, but also epic coastal views, beautiful prairies filled with wildflowers in season, and the chance to see birds and wildlife.

Enjoy some of the scenic drives in the parks: Howland Hill Drive, Coastal Drive, and the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway are all great choices.

Two people walking through a doorway in a fallen redwood tree in california usa

Do some of the trails through the redwood groves to see the giant trees up close: the Big Tree Wayside Walk, the Stout Memorial Grove Trail, and Lady Bird Johnson Grove are all super scenic and relatively easy walks.

Gaze up at the trees, and enjoy the ferns and rhododendrons in the understory.

You can also go biking in the parks, and camp if you plan to stay for a few days.

Redwood National and State Parks are about 5.5 hours north of San Francisco by road, and you can visit all year, although you will have the best weather in the summer.

Man standing in front of enormous Redwood trees with a sunflare in the top left corner of the photo

Apostle Islands, Wisconsin

From Jase of Roaming Vegans

A little-known gem in the north of Wisconsin is the Apostle Islands.

This island archipelago on Lake Superior looks like it belongs in Southeast Asia – not on the shoreline of a humble midwestern town.

However, its tucked-away location makes it all the more special for visitors.

While the lake freezes in winter, the islands come to life in summer with many activities like  sea kayaking , island hopping, and cliff jumping.

There is even an island home to one of the largest concentrations of bears in the Midwest–yes, bears!

The largest and most populated island is Madeline Island which makes for a great base to explore the nearby smaller islands.

sea caves as seen from the water at apostle islands, one of the best places to visit in the us

Maui, Hawaii

From Jessica of I’m Jess Traveling

Famed for her elegant beaches,  world-class resorts , and next-level surf, Maui attracts visitors from all over the world. 

It’s no surprise that Maui was named Condé Nast Traveler’s best island in the U.S. for 23 consecutive years. 

There are countless things to see and do in Maui depending on your travel style. 

For outdoor enthusiasts, hike through a majestic bamboo forest ending at a 400-foot waterfall.  

Ocean lovers can test their skills at surfing or set sail on a sunset cruise.

Bright blue water as seen along the Road to Hana in Maui, one of the best USA road trip itinerary ideas

There won’t be a shortage of exotic beaches to explore, no matter what your travel style is.

The adventure seekers have their pick among plunging the popular Road to Hana or watching the sunrise above the clouds at 10,000 feet inside Haleakala National Park. 

Whatever your draw, sunsets, beaches, luxury, or adventure, Maui has it all. 

Not only is Maui one of the best USA travel destinations but it’s one of the best places to take a tropical vacation in the world. 

Couple walking along Kaanapali Beach in Maui, shaded by a palm tree. Kaanapali Beach is one of the best beaches in America

Cape Cod, Massachusetts

For adorable beach towns, sandy beaches, and some of the best seafood you’ve ever eaten in your life, head to the classic New England summer getaway of Cape Cod.

While you’re in Cape Cod (or as New Englanders say, “on the Cape”), hit one of the beautiful trails, visit a lighthouse or two, stick your toes in the sand, and eat lots and lots of lobster.

While Cape Cod’s swimming season is much shorter than popular beach destinations elsewhere in the country, it’s still well worth visiting.

Just be sure to plan ahead, because rental houses for summer on the Cape tend to book up before winter even wraps up!

Provincetown Massachusetts on Cape Cod as seen from the water

Nā Pali Coast, Kauai

Towering cliffs covered in dense jungle, dramatic waterfalls, small valleys, and views of the Pacific Ocean far below: welcome to the Nā Pali   Coast.

Without a doubt, the Nā Pali   Coast on Kauai is one of the most beautiful travel destinations in the US.

Stretching 17 miles along the northwest portion of Kauai, the Nā Pali   Coast is best admired from air–usually via a helicopter tour–or from a boat on the sea.

Whichever option you choose, there’s no doubt that what is arguably the most beautiful corner of The Garden Island is bound to impress.

Na Pali Coast of Kauai Hawaii. Kauai is one of the best road trips in USA.

Florida Keys

For a taste of the Caribbean without leaving the USA, head to the Florida Keys!

Not only is the overseas drive from Miami to Key West one of the most scenic road trips in the USA, but the Keys themselves are also fantastic, home to beautiful beaches, colorful architecture, great food, and plenty of things to do.

While you’re there, be sure to hit the water via snorkeling or scuba diving, go for a swim, enjoy the famous Duval Street, tour the Ernest Hemingway House, and eat several slices of the region’s famous Key Lime pie!

Highway over the Caribbean Sea leading the to Floriday Keys as shot with a drone. The Florida Keys are one of the best places to visit in USA

Big Island, Hawaii

From Patricia of Travel Fam Life

The biggest of the Hawaiian Islands, Hawaii (also known as the Big Island) is a cool place to visit.

That starts with the weather: you’ll experience a lot of sunshine temperatures ranging from 85°- 90° in the summer months and 79°- 83 in the winter months, making it the perfect place to escape year-round. 

Hawaii is going to impress anyone that decides to visit.

The food is phenomenal and the choices are vast with plenty of history and cultural backgrounds.

The array of activities ranges from land to sea, from memorable ancient sites to beautiful folklore traditions. 

Some of the best things to do when taking a vacation to the Big Island include:

woman snorkeling in hawaii with orange fish in the foreground

Zip Lining over waterfalls is an activity that can be very exhilarating if you are an adrenaline junkie.

This can also be enjoyed as a family activity, some companies allow kids as young as 5 years old to participate.

Volcano National Park is a breathtaking experience with its majestic hikes, thrilling ride down to the Chain of Craters, and some spectacular scenery and photo opportunities.

Papakolea or Green Sand Beach is one of 4 green sand beaches in the world.

The hike to this remote beach is very worthwhile, and the backdrop of the Hawaiian blue ocean that keeps you company makes the whole experience priceless.

And the list goes on, you can check it out here .

Helicopter tour of Volcano National Park in Hawaii shot from inside the helicopter with lava visible through the windshield

Outer Banks, North Carolina

With sandy beaches framed by sand dunes and rolling waves, the Outer Banks of North Carolina may not boast the bright water of the Florida Keys or the tropical beauty of Hawaii, but they are stunning all the same, and absolutely one of the best places to visit in the USA.

Come for the small beach towns, the history of the Wright Brothers taking their first flight here, the southern food, the historic forts, and the beautiful lighthouses. 

Come for the sunken pirate ships, for the wild horses that live on some of the islands, for the great places to swim, and for the great day trip opportunities.

If you’re looking for a classic, all-American vacation, you can’t go wrong with a visit to the barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina that make up the magnificent Outer Banks.

2 wild horses on a beach in North Carolina. Both horses are brown and they are standing near sand dunes

Oahu, Hawaii

From Sydney of A World in Reach

While visitors sometimes think of Oahu as just being a stopping point before visiting Hawaii’s other islands, the island has so much to offer than overcrowded beaches and tourist attractions.

Oahu is home to delicious food, beautiful scenery, and captivating history and is one of the best travel destinations in the United States.

Most visitors to Oahu will base themselves in Honolulu, Hawaii’s capital and largest city.

Guidebooks often recommend spending little time in Honolulu; however, this city is a melting pot of culture and is home to some of the best food on the island.

Whether you’re looking for a traditional Hawaiian meal or some of the best Asian food in the United States, you can easily find a delicious meal in Honolulu.

Start your visit to Oahu off by exploring Honolulu, seeing the sights, and eating all of the delicious food.

oahu hawaii beach at sunset with palm trees in the foreground

Spend a day at Waikiki Beach – it might be touristy, but it’s still worth a visit.

Plan a visit to Pearl Harbor, where you can learn more about one of the darkest days in US History, and spend a morning hiking Diamond Head, one of the best hikes on Oahu .

Spend the rest of your time on the island exploring the North Shore, visiting the famous Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck, and indulging in shave ice from Matsumoto.

Visit the beaches along the North Shore, where you might see some surfers catching waves, and hike through a botanical garden to a beautiful waterfall at Waimea Valley.

Lanikai beach in Oahu Hawaii as seen from above. One of the best beaches in USA

Napa Valley, California

Northern California’s wine country is definitely among the most beautiful–and for wine lovers, tastiest, places to visit in the USA.

With beautiful small towns, great boutiques, and rolling hills filled with vineyards that almost feel like being in Tuscany, both Napa Valley and Sonoma County have plenty to offer those looking for a laid-back, wine-filled getaway.

Vineyard in Napa Valley CA with a wood barn visible in the background, one of the best honeymoon destinations in usa

Door County, Wisconsin

From Paulina of Paulina on the Road

Wisconsin often isn’t the first US state that people think of visiting, but from beautiful beaches to quirky attractions like House on the Rock , it has plenty to offer.

One of the most beautiful USA landmarks, Door Country, Wisconsin welcomes you on board with 300 miles of stretched shoreline and an awestruck sunset over the water, you could not leave without a witness. 

It allows your soul to breathe and relax. Wisconsin lets you explore aesthetic art galleries, and thousands of miles of stretched orchards, cherish the local brews and wines, paddle along the beautiful lakes, and devour the cheery pies.

winding road through fall foliage in door county wisconsin, one of the best hidden usa secret vacation spots

Moreover, Green Bay, the capital of the region, is an underrated city that eventually captivates its visitors.

Though it’s a small city, the vibrant culture offers amazing  things to do in Green Bay .

Green Bay entertains visitors with prominent wineries. They produce their wines right up there which adds up to be a vital part of their culture. The landscape and heritage inspire the artists.

Walleye fishermen have the best water. It’s clean and portrays immense beauty. The botanical gardens and zoological parks play their role in charming travelers. 

Green Bay is an enchanting place that charms visitors with its intriguing features. 

Lakeshore at golden hour in Door County Wisconsin with evergreen trees on the right side of the photo

Route 66 isn’t technically just one place, but as one of the most iconic travel destinations in the United States, I couldn’t bear to leave it off this USA bucket list!

Stretching from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California, Route 66 is America’s best-known road trip and the perfect place to find not-quite-forgotten slices of Americana, from quirky roadside attractions like Cadillac Ranch and the Catoosa Whale to beloved diners and 50s-era-inspired motels.

Route 66 passes through nine states in total (Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California), and is a fantastic way to experience some of the best of what traveling in the US has to offer, all in one large trip.

jeremy storm sitting on top of a car at cadillac ranch in amarillo

Big cities, small towns, incredibly diverse landscapes, and beloved national parks are all featured heavily on Route 66.

Though it’s not technically on the route, even the Grand Canyon is accessible as an incredible side journey when road-tripping Route 66.

Whether you want to find a quirky campsite in Oklahoma or go hiking in Arizona, there’s no doubt that Route 66 is a classic US travel destination.

Route 66 in California with Joshua trees on either side. Route 66 is one of the absolute best road trips in USA

Big Sur, California

From Lauren of Ready, Set, PTO

Big Sur is one of the most beautiful places in the US and should definitely be on your bucket list.

Cruising along the winding Pacific Coast Highway with sweeping views of the Pacific is a magical experience.

This rugged area is located in Central California, about 5 hours north of Los Angeles.

If you aren’t able to find available lodging within Big Sur, check out nearby towns of Carmel and Monterey for more options, or try car camping with an epic view!

mcway falls as seen on big sur from above, one of the best places to visit in california

There are plenty of amazing  things to do in Big Sur .

I definitely recommend checking out the iconic Bixby Bridge (as seen in HBO’s Big Little Lies), admiring McWay Falls, hiking in Andrew Molera State Park, and Limekiln State Park, having a drink with a view at Nepenthe and watching the sunset at Pfeiffer Beach!

There’s not much cell service in Big Sur, so be prepared for an off-the-grid weekend of relaxation and gorgeous views.

Pacific Coast Highway California shot from above, one of the best romantic vacations for couples in the United States

Page, Arizona

The small town of Page, Arizona may seem like no more than a small town worthy of a brief stop on a road trip at first blush–but this small, unassuming town is home to some of the most incredible sights in the entire southwest, and it definitely belongs on your USA bucket list!

Page is where you can find the famous Antelope Canyon, as well as Horseshoe Bend , the Instagram darling of the Colorado River (for very good reason).

Just outside of Page, you can also find the remarkable Glen Canyon Dam, one of the largest dams in the US, as well as Lake Powell–but to see the best of Lake Powell, you’ll actually need to cross into Utah!

That’s not hard to do, though: Page is located right next to the Arizona/Utah border.

With such an outsized list of fun attractions, there’s no doubt that Page is one of the coolest places to vacation in the USA.

2 photos of the USA, first from a train ride in Alaska and one from a geothermic spring in Yellow. Black and red text reads "50 bucket list usa travel destinations"

About Kate Storm

Image of the author, Kate Storm

In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.

3 thoughts on “USA Bucket List: 50 Best Places to Visit in the US”

Great info. I know its great because I have been to most of the beaches you mention!

Thank you – will also look at your Italian small towns to see which ones we should visit and maybe retire to.

Thank you so much, Laura!

Retiring to Italy–sounds like quite the dream! 🙂

Absolutely amazing article, just loved it.

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50 Places to Visit in the USA That Must Be on Your Bucket List

Love the beach? The desert? The mountains? Don't sweat it — we have you covered!

columbia river gorge

Trying to list all of the best places to vacation across the U.S. is a bit of a fool’s errand — there are just too many! What we can do, though, is compile the ultimate travel bucket list. Read on and mark down some of the top sites and cities across the country that you want to see at least once.

Key Largo — Florida

scenic view of sea against sky

Best for Oceanic Exploration

There are plenty of beach destinations to choose from in Florida, but Key Largo is the place for people looking to leave the sand and enjoy everything the ocean has to offer. With offerings like the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park , visitors are encouraged to throw on a mask and have an adventure below the surface.

Where to Stay: Playa Largo Resort & Spa

New Hope — Pennsylvania

new hope street

Best for Shopping Small

If your ideal escape involves spending a day popping in and out of shops along Main street, head to New Hope. The town has a ton of charming independently owned businesses and art galleries, so save some space in your luggage for some souvenirs. After you've picked up some gifts for yourself, grab a seat and a drink at The Pour House at The New Hope Winery or Great Barn Brewery .

Where to Stay: River House at Odette's

Grand Canyon National Park – Arizona

arizona grand canyon, best places to visit in the us

Best for Views

It's no wonder why the Grand Canyon has been topping bucket lists for travel junkies and families alike for so many years. Whether you're after a challenging hike or have more interest in some zen stargazing , there are several access points with varying levels of hiking intensity, so you (and every member of your travel group) can get the best views.

Where to Stay: South Rim , Phantom Ranch

Los Angeles — California

los angeles california, best places to visit in usa

Best for Laid-Back Luxury

Spend your days hanging loose on Venice Beach and your nights indulging in swanky nightlife spots on Hollywood Boulevard. From visiting Runyon Canyon or shopping on Rodeo Drive to finding your favorite actor's hand prints pressed into the historic Hollywood Walk of Fame , there are a variety of daytime activities to keep you busy.

Where to Stay: Four Seasons Hotel at Beverly Hills , Omni Los Angeles

Las Vegas — Nevada

las vegas, nevada, usa

Best for Nightlife

What happens in Vegas … well, you know the saying. Sure, you can get as naughty as you want in Sin City, but you just might be too busy seeing shows, such as Cirque du Soleil's O , dining in trendy restaurants , shopping in luxury arcades, gambling in casinos , and dancing in swanky clubs to do any permanent damage.

Where to Stay: Bellagio Las Vegas , Paris Las Vegas

Santa Fe — New Mexico

canyon road, santa fe  — new mexico

Best for Art Aficionados

Pull a Georgia O'Keeffe and lose yourself in Santa Fe's otherworldly landscapes. Check out local artists' work in the many galleries along Canyon Road , and see O'Keeffe's famous animal skull paintings at her eponymous museum — then ponder all of this artistic magnificence over margaritas and a big bowl of guac and chips.

Where to Stay: La Fonda on the Plaza , Inn and Spa at Loretto

Nantucket — Massachusetts

nantucket, massachusetts, usa

Best for the Laid-Back Island Life

As soon as you step off the ferry, you'll start to decompress on this postcard-perfect island off the coast of Cape Cod . It ticks all the island getaway boxes: gorgeous beaches, sweet gray-shingled cottages, and historic lighthouses. Nantucket also has a super cool Whaling Museum , and plenty of places for a lobster roll.

Where to Stay: 21 Broad , The Nantucket Hotel

Sedona — Arizona

sedona, arizona, usa

Best for Desert Scenery

You'll never get over marveling at the beauty of the Red Rocks of Sedona — they're that awe-inspiring. Get up-close and personal with these rust-hued mesas and buttes via Jeep tour , then head to one of Sedona's vortexes to soak up some positive vibes. (Using healing crystals and getting an aura photo is optional.)

Where to Stay: Hilton Sedona Resort at Red Rock , L'Auberge de Sedona

More: Best 360 Cameras for Snapping Remarkable Sunsets

Chicago — Illinois

chicago, illinois, usa

Best for a Big City Getaway

Sure, it could always be New York — but don't dismiss the Second City . Incredible architecture (the skyscraper was born here), world-class museums (Did you know the famed American Gothic painting is in the Art Institute of Chicago ?), deep-dish pizza, and the Cubbies make Chi-Town one of the best places to visit in the USA.

Where to Stay: Ace Hotel Chicago , Hilton Chicago

Big Sur — California

big sur, california, usa

Best for a Scenic Drive

If you've seen HBO’s Big Little Lies , you've no doubt been blown away by the gorgeous cliff-hugging backdrops, especially around Bixby Bridge, the iconic 280-foot-high span on the Pacific Coast Highway. This jaw-dropping stretch from Carmel to the boho hangout of Big Sur is surely one of the world's greatest scenic drives .

Where to Stay: Portola Hotel & Spa , Comfort Inn Carmel-by-the-Sea

Kansas City — Missouri

kansas city style barbeque ribs with sweet potato fries

Best for Barbecue

Kansas City is world-famous for its finger-lickin'-good barbecue, and a few standouts include Gates Bar-B-Q , featuring mouthwatering beef brisket, Q39 , from national barbecue champ Rob Magee, and, just across the state line in Kansas, Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que , with ribs, pulled pork, and smoked chicken on the menu.

Where to Stay: Hotel Phillips Kansas City , Ambassador Hotel Kansas City

Jackson — Wyoming

jackson hole — wyoming

Best for Outdoor Adventures

This rugged destination in the Teton Mountains is all about being in the great outdoors. Summer brings hiking, horseback riding, and river rafting; come wintertime, there's world-class skiing at one of the country's top ski resorts . Plus, there are plenty of authentic Western-style bars where you just might mingle with real cowboys.

Where to Stay: The Wort Hotel , Hotel Terra Jackson Hole

Natchez - Mississippi

boat on the mississippi river

Best for Touring Antebellum Homes

The city of Natchez, a former trading post on the Mississippi River, is known for its many antebellum mansions, including Brandon Hall Plantation , now functioning as a charming inn with canopied beds, antique furnishings, and landscaped grounds. Other historic homes worth a visit include Longwood, Dunleith, and Auburn.

Where to Stay: Natchez Grand Hotel , Brandon Hall Plantation

Washington, D.C.

washington dc usa

Best for Free Museums

Can we talk about D.C. without getting political? Sure we can, especially when there's so much to say about its free Smithsonian museums.

See Dorothy's ruby slippers at the National Museum of American History , a space shuttle at the National Air & Space Museum , and Nat Turner's Bible at the National Museum of African American History & Culture .

Where to Stay: Kimpton Hotel Palomar , Marriott Marquis Washington, DC

Napa Valley — California

napa valley, california, usa

Best for Wine Lovers

There's a lot to love about Napa Valley. It's just an hour's drive from San Francisco , there are hundreds of world-class wineries to stop in for a tasting (A pinot noir on the deck overlooking vast vineyards? Yes, please!), and there are plenty of gourmet restaurants, including Thomas Keller's famed French Laundry .

Where to Stay: Marriott Napa Valley Hotel & Spa , The Westin Verasa Napa

Indianapolis — Indiana

indianapolis, indiana, usa

Best for the Whole Family

The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is one of the best kids' museums in the USA — just try to get them to stop talking about the massive dinosaur "attacking" the building's facade. Indy also has a great zoo and an IMAX theater, and each May, the Indy 500 takes place. Plus, there's a growing farm-to-table foodie scene.

Where to Stay: Hilton Indianapolis Hotel & Suites , Conrad Indianapolis

Austin – Texas

a distant view of people canoeing on lady bird lake in austin texas with the austin skyline in the background

Best for Fests

As if tasty barbecue and Tex-Mex food weren't enough of a draw, Austin hosts several major festivals throughout the year that are worth planning a trip for. Both South by Southwest (in March) and Austin City Limits (in October) make the city an ideal getaway for people who enjoy having a jam-packed itinerary when they travel.

If you can't make it those months, there are still plenty of ways to occupy your time while you're in town.

Where to Stay: Hotel Van Zandt , The Line Hotel

Read More: These Are the Most Beautiful Places in the World

hawaii punaluu beach

Best for Exotic Beaches

You can't mention the best places to visit in the USA and not show the Aloha State some love, especially its beaches. From the black sand of Punaluu, to the green (yes, green!) sand of Papakolea Beach (both on the Big Island), to the great snorkeling at Maui's Makua Beach, Hawaii lives up to its billing.

Where to Stay: Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa , Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort

Minneapolis — Minnesota

minneapolis usa weisman art museum the university of minnesota campus architect frank gehry

Best for Midwestern Museums

Minneapolis is full of fab museums, including the Walker Art Center , featuring works from Jasper Johns and Chuck Close, and the recently renovated Minneapolis Sculpture Garden , known for its famous "Spoonbridge and Cherry" sculpture. The Frank Gehry-designed Weisman Art Museum and the Mill City Museum are others to keep in mind, too.

Where to Stay: Hewing Hotel , The Westin Minneapolis

New York City — New York

new york times square

Best for Theater Lovers

Even if you can't get tickets to Hamilton , you won't be lacking for choice when it comes to top-notch theater in NYC . Catch Broadway shows like Tony Award winners Dear Evan Hansen and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child , and there are plenty of off-Broadway and off-off Broadway shows, plus, warm weather brings the Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park.

Where to Stay: Soho Grand Hotel , W New York - Times Square

Headshot of Adam Schubak

Jill is the former travel editor at, showing her expertise on everything from the Best Rooftop Bars in NYC to the 30 Most Beautiful Cities in the World;  the NYC native has previously worked at Travel & Leisure and has written articles for The New York Times , InStyle, Huffington Post , and Fodors . Recent trips have included the Bahamas and Natchez, and Patagonia and Vietnam are high on the bucket list. Though she’ll deny it, she is kind of obsessed with buying refrigerator magnets from the places she visits.

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The 50 Best Places to Travel in 2021

When the time comes to travel again, these destinations — all right in your own backyard — are the ones to visit next.

Since 1971, Travel + Leisure editors have followed one mission: to inform, inspire, and guide travelers to have deeper, more meaningful experiences. T+L's editors have traveled to countries all over the world, having flown, sailed, road tripped, and taken the train countless miles. They've visited small towns and big cities, hidden gems and popular destinations, beaches and mountains, and everything in between. With a breadth of knowledge about destinations around the globe, air travel, cruises, hotels, food and drinks, outdoor adventure, and more, they are able to take their real-world experience and provide readers with tried-and-tested trip ideas, in-depth intel, and inspiration at every point of a journey.

Even for the compulsive jetsetters among us, it's a simple truth that most travel stories are aspirational in the best of times. There are too many incredible places to see, not enough vacation days, and sometimes we all have to content ourselves with scrawling another spot on the bucket list and hoping the stars align.

But this year, as we all sat at home and watched the world come to a halt, "aspirational" took on new meaning. When restrictions relaxed this summer , the familiar wanderlust crept back in. With even the most straightforward international getaways ruled out, and many travelers still hesitant to hop on a plane, even simple trips — scenic drives , camping weekends , staycations across town — suddenly felt novel and luxurious.

Related : Guide to more travel ideas

With the first vaccines now rolling out, it seems the end of our long international nightmare is finally (finally!) in sight. In anticipation of that moment, we've once again compiled our annual list of the best places to travel in the coming year — with one twist. In honor of our revived appreciation for the discoveries to be made in our own backyards, this year's list features 50 dynamic, of-the-moment destinations — all right here in the United States.

Related : The Top 15 Cities in the United States

Some spots on the list ahead are newly blossoming thanks to hotel or infrastructure developments or revamped cultural attractions. Others caught on this summer, as social distancing made empty expanses of wilderness more compelling than ever and we all looked for new wells of charm in our own home states. What they all have in common is that singularity that makes a destination memorable — the sense that this place has something to offer that you won't find anywhere else in the world.

One day soon, we'll all get back to traveling the way we did before. We'll gripe about security lines and airplane meals , delight at hearing an unfamiliar language or staying in a new hotel , develop passionate loyalties for a particular food truck or coffee kiosk. Until then, we hope this list will serve as something to hold onto — to stoke your wanderlust and keep the tiny flame of optimism burning. Sure, it's a little bit aspirational. But that just means we're still willing to dream.

Related : The 50 Best Places to Travel in 2020

Ahead, Travel + Leisure 's 50 best places to travel in 2021, listed in alphabetical order.

1. Alaska's Coast

In the midst of the pandemic, Alaska's entire May to September cruise season was cancelled in 2020. That left some 1.3 million travelers unable to board ships to experience thunderously calving glaciers, frolicking humpback whales, lively gold rush towns, and fascinating Alaska Native arts scenes. Tourism providers missed serious income. Cruise lines and local officials express muted optimism about 2021, which may be the best year to see Alaska given that cruise ships are unlikely to sail full and coastal towns won't have their typical crowds even post-vaccine rollout. Or skip the civilization part: Vast national parks such as Glacier Bay, Misty Fjords, and Kenai Fjords are best reached by boat. Small ship soft-adventure lines such as UnCruise Adventures and Lindblad Expeditions — and ultra-luxurious Seabourn with its zodiac and kayak exploration program on the 450-passenger Seabourn Odyssey — have one-week itineraries that spend most of their time in the wild. For more privacy, rent the six-passenger, 78-foot Sea Mist for a luxury yachting experience in Prince William Sound, home to more active tidewater glaciers than anywhere else in the world. — Fran Golden

Listen to Travel + Leisure's "Let's Go Together" podcast for more inspiring stories and adventures celebrating inclusivity in travel!

2. Astoria, Oregon

Goonies never say die, and neither does the nostalgia of visiting Astoria, the northwestern Oregon town at the mouth of the Columbia River where the '80s cult classic film was shot. The oldest American settlement in the West, this charming seaside town evokes a simpler time with its colorful Victorian houses and treasure-filled antique shops. Around these parts, freshness matters only for fish and beer. A new mobile passport program by the North Coast Craft Beer Trail ensures drinkers find their way to both big names like Fort George Brewery — famous for its IPAs — and smaller spots like the 20-barrel Buoy Beer , built in a former fish cannery right on the river. It's one of many old cannery sites that have found new lives here, most notably the boutique Cannery Pier Hotel , where new ownership plans a February unveiling of renovations to its spa — famed for the Finnish sauna and water-view hot tub. Though the town made its name on tinned fish, Astoria now thrives on the direct connection to fresh seafood at places like South Bay Wild Fish House, from the family behind a fishing vessel of the same name. At their restaurant, sustainably caught Dungeness crab, Oregon pink shrimp, black cod, and more goes direct from boat to bánh mì. — Naomi Tomky

3. The Berkshires

City-dwellers have been visiting this region of gently rolling hills and charmingly sedate towns in Western Massachusetts since the 19th century, but a welcome boost of youthful energy arrived with the 2018 opening of the design-forward hotel Tourists in North Adams and, last year, the launch of Miraval Berkshires , the third location of the luxe wellness resort. While summer is still the most popular season, thanks in part to the beloved classical music venue Tanglewood and dance center Jacob's Pillow, there are still plenty of opportunities for social distancing, from the enormous exhibition spaces at the contemporary art museum Mass Moca , to the pastoral acres surrounding the Clark Art Institute (home to the Institute's first-ever outdoor exhibition, Ground/work, through October 2021), to a hike up Mount Greylock or Monument Mountain, to a meal at Cantina 229 , a restaurant set on a farm that offers outdoor seating in warmer months. Mooncloud, a new bar in Great Barrington, is riding out the pandemic with a slate of to-go meals and cocktail kits. Tuck in for the night at the peaceful but chic Inn at Kenmore Hall , a bed and breakfast in a classical Georgian estate. — Peter Terzian

4. Big Sky, Montana

Big Sky 's 5,800 acres of skiable terrain makes it a fan favorite for crowd-free skiing in the Rocky Mountains. But a multi-year, $150 million investment into Big Sky Resort aims to transform this region of Southwest Montana into America's Alps, meaning skiers may soon have to share their powder-perfect runs. Last year, The Wilson Hotel , a Residence Inn by Marriott, made headlines when it became the first and only major brand hotel to open in Big Sky's town center (don't miss the soon-to-open Tips Up, a vintage-inspired tavern across the street). Now, all eyes are on the $400 million ultra-luxury Montage Big Sky , which will open its doors for the 2021-22 ski season within Spanish Peaks Mountain Club , a 3,500-acre private golf and ski community. The 150-key resort features ski-in, ski-out access, an 11,000-square-foot spa, and a four-lane bowling alley. In warmer climes, guests can enjoy the development's 18-hole golf course, nearby fly-fishing rivers, and an extensive network of hiking and mountain biking trails. Two slope-side hotels, the Summit and the Huntley Lodge , have renovations in the works, and Moonlight Basin , another private development adjacent to the ski resort, has plans to build a luxury hotel (a One&Only if the rumors are true) on its 8,000-acre-property, which is also home to a thousand-acre high-elevation Jack Nicklaus signature golf course. New airlift is ushering travelers from Nashville, Fort Lauderdale, and Charlotte, N.C. to Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (less than an hour's drive from downtown Big Sky), while a new six-person high-speed chairlift will begin whizzing people up Lone Peak in record time starting next November. When the snow melts, Big Sky's 18-mile proximity to Yellowstone National Park adds even more appeal for nature lovers in search of epic adventures in the great outdoors. Just be sure to get there before everyone else does. — Nora Walsh

5. Birmingham, Alabama

The modern scene in The Magic City is a great example of what can happen when Alabama kids head off to the big city to hone their skills, then return home to do their thing — in a really high-quality way. Take Chef Adam Evans: the Muscle Shoals native worked in New Orleans and New York and opened The Optimist with Ford Fry in Atlanta before heading back to B-Ham to launch Automatic Seafood & Oysters . Moves like this — along with quirky java shops ( Red Cat Coffee House ), upscale cocktail bars ( Paper Doll ), a women-owned vegan food truck , and the Pizitz global food hall — have brought a vibrancy to the city, where contemporary charm and old Southern hospitality mingle on a big scale. The destination is catching up to demand for luxury lifestyle hotels with the Valley Hotel , opening in the historic, cool-again suburb Homewood in January with a new outpost of Edgar's Bakery and more restaurants to come. Railroad Park , a 19-acre green space, has transformed downtown over the last decade, with walking trails, food truck festivals, and an outdoor symphony. And look for Protective Stadium , a 47,000-seat facility and entertainment district, to open in 2021. —Kelsey Ogletree

6. The Black Hills of South Dakota

The great American road trip is the best example of the journey as the destination. As Americans took to the road in search of wide-open spaces this year , places that may have been overlooked for lack of airlift found a new audience. South Dakota's Black Hills have long been a mandatory road trip stop — its mountains are home to Mount Rushmore, the historic town of Deadwood, and several national monuments and parks — and now it's back on the map as a destination in its own right. The region first got a little more glamour two years ago, when glamping outfitter Under Canvas raised its tent poles among the pine and juniper trees just four miles from the presidential monument. And this year, intrepid travelers can see the area in a fresh way with the debut of Adventure Cycling's new Parks, Peaks, and Prairies cycling route, which pieces together trails winding from Yellowstone to Minneapolis. Over in historic Deadwood, a new year-round public space in the heart of town, Outlaw Square, is home to a slew of activities that sound luxurious after nearly a year in lockdown — movie nights, concerts — while in Rapid City, work is underway on the Monument, a massive civic center expansion that will bring bigger crowds to landmark events like the Black Hills Powwow , which marks its 35th anniversary next fall. — Scott Bay

7. Buffalo, New York

Sure, you've heard rumblings about Buffalo's restaurants, or maybe its brewery boom. But lately, the city is getting attention for its visual arts scene — and most notably, a game-changing new gallery that's Native American-owned and dedicated entirely to Indigenous art. Dave Kimelberg, a member of the Seneca Nation of Indians, founded K. Art — the only gallery of its kind in the U.S. — this year in an effort to showcase the diversity of Native nations and carve out a bigger space in the market for contemporary Native works. Elsewhere in the city, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery is undergoing a massive expansion, currently slated for completion in 2022; until then, visit the institution's Northland campus, or explore projects across the city from the AK Public Art Initiative . Still more developments are in the works: the $65 million Silo City restoration and reuse will bring arts, commercial, and exhibition space to a string of abandoned grain silos, and golf brand OnCore is launching a massive golf complex and hotel on the Buffalo River. — Scott Bay

8. Burlington, Vermont

Escaping to Vermont sounds like a way to get in touch with nature and spend some time on a farm, but Burlington has all the offerings of a much larger city — plus opportunities to get some much-needed fresh air. The city is home to an array of bars and restaurants slinging creative drinks: Deli 126 , The Archives , Misery Loves Co. , Peg & Ter's , and a collaboration between Orlando's Bar & Lounge and Grandma's Spanish Kitchen with Cuban and Peruvian influences. CO Cellars — located in the Soda Plant , a small business base camp with everything from custom lighting to pickles — sells local naturally fermented fruit wines from ZAFA Wines and Shacksbury Cider. And if that's not enough, Dedalus Wine Shop and Market will help you taste through an array of natural wines from around the world, paired with housemade charcuterie, cheeses, and Spanish-inspired bites from the kitchen. Enjoy a slice of private beach with stand-up paddleboarding, yoga, and windsurfing at Burlington Surf Club when the weather is warmer. When there's at least a few inches of snow on the ground, the adventurous can try winter sports: Hotel Vermont will equip you with gear to get you going, whether you want to go snowshoeing or Nordic skiing through the snowy streets or down Vermont hillsides, dare to try snowkiting, or prefer to ice skate on the frozen parts of Lake Champlain. To fuel up for — or warm up after — some time in the snow, try an array of pakoras at the newly-opened Elaichi , tacos and margs at Taco Gordo , dynamic Chinese fare at A Single Pebble 's brick-and-mortar restaurant or roving food truck, or the combo of Café Mamajuana 's Dominican fusion and Poppy Café & Market 's creative sandwiches in one shared space. Wherever you go, you'll get a combination of small-town hospitality and big-city amenities. — Alyse Whitney

9. Cape May, New Jersey

During the summer of 1852, Harriet Tubman worked as a cook and housekeeper in Cape May, the seaside resort town where the Delaware Bay rushes into the Atlantic Ocean at the knifepoint of New Jersey. That was her day job, anyway. Given that Cape May was a hive of abolitionist activity at the time, it's long been accepted that Tubman's real work was guiding enslaved men and women through this critically situated junction between the South and freedom in Philadelphia and points north. Opening on Juneteenth, the years-in-the-works Harriet Tubman Museum chronicles her time in Cape May while contextualizing the city's status as a critical (and critically overlooked) place in Black history. The museum occupies the former parson's house of the historic Macedonian Baptist Church, and the late Reverend Robert Davis's collection of artifacts (Bantu and Bakota masks, iron shackles used on enslaved peoples) ties the experience back to Africa and the transatlantic slave trade. A few blocks away, the Underground Railroad trolley tour departs to landmarks like abolitionist Stephen Smith's house and the Franklin Street School, the city's first segregated school (slated to become a cultural arts and community center). Renewed interest in Cape May has energized the staid hotel stock, with Philly's Lokal brand opening a crisp beach house with a saltwater pool and the famed Peter Shields Inn debuting Inn Town Suites , a pair of palm-patterned quarters above Willow & Stone , a handsome boutique stocked with waterproof ORI knapsacks and knit cashmere for the modern seafaring rake. For more privacy, the meticulously furnished, ag-fantasy Cottages at Bach Plum Farm are situated on the less developed north side of town betwixt blackberry brambles and heritage hog paddocks — and a leisurely walk to the Cape May Lighthouse , a beacon for safety seekers fleeing slavery and stormy seas since 1859. — Adam Erace

10. The Catskills

From the 1920s to the 60s the scenic mountain region about two hours north of Manhattan boomed as the Borscht Belt, full of sprawling resorts catering chiefly to summering Jewish families. Today, young urbanites are snapping up weekend houses in the area at an ever-increasing rate, and entrepreneurs are following their lead by opening small, design-y hotels all over the region. The 15-room Shandaken Inn , in the village of Shandaken, puts outdoor enthusiasts within 25 minutes of the popular zipline canopy tours on Hunter Mountain and 35 minutes of the hiking trail to Kaaterskill Falls, the tallest cascading waterfall in the state. Seven miles down the road is the third outpost from Urban Cowboy . This 28-room fully embraces its rural setting near the Big Indian Wilderness forest preserve with on-site pursuits that include swimming and fishing for trout in the Esopus Creek. About an hour and a half southwest of Big Indian, Kenoza Hall began as a boarding house in the early 1900s. Sims Foster and his wife, Kirsten Harlow Foster, who own the nearby DeBruce inn , have overhauled the building, marrying historic touches like the original hardwood floors with custom elements, including sleigh beds. The boomlet shows no signs of slowing in 2021. Homeware design duo Nolan McHugh and Trevor Briggs are set to enter the hospitality scene in March with Piaule Catskill , a 24-cabin landscape hotel located just outside the region's namesake town. (Expect minimalist structures with lots of glass accented by steel and cedar.) Then in April, Sant Singh Chatwal of the Dream Hotel Group will open Chatwal Lodge in Bethel. Making the most of its position on 60 forested acres of the Chapin Estate, the refuge looks out onto the Toronto Reservoir and takes inspiration from its natural surroundings for decor elements like hand-carved wood accents and massive stone fireplaces. Accommodations will consist of 10 suites, a treehouse, and a glamping tent, and the food and beverage options will include a farm-to-table restaurant that will source fish from the onsite trout stream and produce from its own kitchen garden. — Sarah Bruning

11. Cincinnati, Ohio

The first clues that the Queen City — a Rust Belt capital that was hard hit by the decline of American manufacturing — was poised for a comeback started a few years ago, when tech startups and small businesses moved into disused Over-the-Rhine warehouses, filmmakers flocked in to take advantage of tax breaks and early-20th-century architecture, and historic spaces like the city's Music Hall got a much-needed polish. Now, the urban revival is official — but sneak in a 2021 visit and you can still claim to be a trendsetter. Check into the Kinley , which opened its doors in downtown Cincy in October with a much-buzzed-about restaurant from chefs Kevin Ashworth and Edward Lee. While you're in town, dine at restaurant standouts Please and Goose & Elder , explore new outdoor installations at the Cincinnati Art Museum , and pay a visit the lauded Cincinnati Zoo , whose animal dispatches on social media are the only reasonable justification for keeping your Twitter account. —Lila Battis

12. Delaware

Over the past year, Delaware has been making headlines as the de facto HQ for No. 46 and his transition team, but there's plenty of reason for buzz beyond politics. Many of the recent developments that have drawn young professionals to the capital of Wilmington from nearby hubs like Philadelpha — creative businesses, a high-caliber culinary scene, fewer crowds — also appeal to travelers. Wilmington's marquee hotel, Hotel DuPont , recently underwent a multi-million dollar refurbishment that breathed new life into its iconic Green Room, which now houses the refined French restaurant Le Cavalier, and added De.CO , a casual food hall with six stalls and a bar. Sartorially inclined visitors would do well to check out wares from Town and Store Studio. (For the time being, designer Liv McClintock is selling her handmade leather goods and jewelry via pop-ups and trunk shows.) And though Torbert Street Social is temporarily closed to adhere to COVID restrictions, the recent addition to Wilmington's cocktail scene is worth a stop for such well-crafted originals as the LL Mule J, which pairs vodka with blood orange and kombucha. Come summer, it'll be hard to stay away from the revitalized Riverfront area, which encompasses a number of seafood joints and provides access to watersports and local walking trails. — Sarah Bruning

13. Denver's Lower Highlands

When you visit a city, you want to be based where the cool crowd is. In Denver, that means the hip, arty Lower Highlands neighborhood. LoHi, as it's known by locals, has long been the city's hub for creative cocktails, craft breweries, and cult restaurants, like Pan-Latin small plates spot Señor Bear and Israeli hit Ash'Kara . In the face of a pandemic, the hood has loyally supported exciting newcomers including Fifth String , a restaurant focused on family-style dishes and natural wines, and Room for Milly , a cocktail bar inspired by the roaring 20s. The recent addition of 17-room Life House Lower Highlands finally gives visitors an option beyond Airbnb if they want to be immersed in the LoFi action. Located in the heart of the Navajo Street Art District, the intimate stay transports guests to a Victorian-era pioneer homestead — but, y'know, cool — with furnishings upholstered in dusty florals, Wild West nods like cowhide detailing and vintage cowboy photos, and a sexy, saloon-inspired restaurant and bar. Through an exclusive partnership with conservation-minded land management group Ranchlands, guests can escape the city for a day and experience the frontier spirit firsthand at Chico Basin Ranch . For a jolt of 21st-century culture, downtown Denver is just a short walk away and will unveil a massive art installation from New Mexico-backed artist collective Meow Wolf later this year. — Jen Murphy

14. Florida's Middle Keys

The closest you can get to a Caribbean vacation without leaving the continental U.S., the laid-back islands between Key Largo and Key West took the brunt of Hurricane Irma in 2017 and are where you want to visit in 2021 to connect with one of the country's most fragile ecosystems, both above and below sea level: astronomer-led stargazing walks at the family-friendly Hawk's Cay on Duck Key; Grimal Grove , where community organizer-turned-tropical fruit farmer Patrick Garvey is raising five varieties of nutritious breadfruit to fight hunger insecurity; the Turtle Hospital on Marathon, whose recent 911s include caring for babies beached by Hurricane Eta and endangered Kemps-Ridleys cold-stunned (like hypothermia for turtles) in Cape Cod. While unseasonably chilly water spells trouble up north, warming seas and a still-unidentified infection has bleached up to 98 percent of the Keys' local reef — the largest in North America — but the young scientists at the MOTE Elizabeth Moore marine lab on Summerland Key are in the midst of a promising project to rejuvenate the crippled reef through lab reproduction (like IVF for coral). You can even participate in a hands-on underwater coral transplant through a new partnership with Captain Hook 's dive center on Big Pine. To balance good work with sybaritic indulgence, there's no beating the scalloped pool and impeccable residences at Marathon's recently reopened Marlin Bay Resort & Marina . The resort is walking distance to Keys Fisheries , the best place in the islands for stone crab, a sustainable specialty that goes for $3 a claw in season at the pleasingly disheveled upstairs bar. — Adam Erace

15. Fort Worth, Texas

A walloping dose of Texas heritage — with some luxe, modern updates — is drawing visitors to hit the city where the West begins. The historic Fort Worth Stockyards , once a resupply stop for cattle drovers, captures the celebrated legacy of Texas' bustling livestock industry with rodeos, a history museum, and the world's only twice-daily cattle drive. It's also home to an array of boutiques rich with Lone Star style: In Mule Alley, visit Lucchese for a pair of hand-stitched boots, and stop at Stetson for the obligatory cowboy hat. The forthcoming Hotel Drover , too, will pay homage to the cowboys of old. Set to open in early 2021, the property has a design sensibility that's Old West-meets-Spanish Colonial, with a sprinkling of Victorian smoking lounge moodiness. Embark on a tour of the city's booming creative scene with stops at Art Tooth and the recently renovated Amon Carter Museum of American Art , then cap off your evening with some of Texas's best grain-to-glass bourbon at Blackland Distilling . Stay overnight at the soon-to-open Hotel Dryce , a posh, locally owned boutique hotel and bar situated in Fort Worth's Cultural District. — Gabrielle Nicole Pharms

16. Galena, Illinois

Hidden from the highway just a 30-minute drive from Dubuque, the town of Galena was once the largest riverboat port north of St. Louis. That may have made it one of the state's most influential cities in its 19th-century heyday, but today, history buffs are more likely to recognize it by name as home to nine former Civil War generals, most famously Ulysses S. Grant. And in an era when all of us are rediscovering regional treasures instead of heading further afield, the town has all the makings of the perfect afternoon: A main street just blocks from the Galena River that can be fully explored in a few hours, regional history museums , quirky boutiques, art galleries showcasing local talents , a bar on every corner, and a handful of restaurants. The magic begins not at the P.T. Murphy Magic Theatre , but on the journey into the downtown district: the quick and distinct shift from convenient fast food stops and gas stations to Late Victorian facades and cobblestones sets an oddly comforting tone, whether you're a repeat visitor or not. Galena's easygoing charm is enough to draw both domestic and international tourists, but taking a walk along what's locally known as the "Helluva Half Mile" will plant itself in your memory. If you're looking to extend your stay, book a room at the DeSoto House , the state's oldest operating hotel. —Erika Owen

17. Grand Staircase-Escalante, Utah

Glamping retreats gained new appeal in 2020 as travelers scrambled to safely scratch the vacation itch. And though the vaccine promises a slow return to normal in the months ahead, the taste for luxury in the wild is here to stay. That's good news for luxury glamping operator Under Canvas, which will round out its western offerings with the new Under Canvas Lake Powell-Grand Staircase next year. The property sits on a 220-acre expanse right on the edge of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument , and guests staying in one of its 50 tents can enjoy all the standard Under Canvas amenities — chic, modern furnishings, s'mores by the fire — along with the option to tack on visits to the brand's other area properties for a full Southwestern road trip experience. Just a few miles down the road in Canyon Point, Aman, too, is jumping on the tented-camp trend with Camp Sarika , a ten-suite Amangiri offshoot that has an away-from-it-all feel — along with heated plunge pools, fire pits, soaking tubs, and views of the sunset over the surrounding mesas. —Lila Battis

18. The Gulf Coast

Picture a white-sand beach, clear aquamarine water, gently swaying palms — the almost-too-perfect scene that looks for all the world like a Caribbean paradise or a remote cove in the Seychelles. Along the Gulf Coast, beauty like this is a given, and a road-trip is the best way to get your fill. Tampa is a great kickoff point; stay at the newly opened Hotel Haya , which nods to the city's Cuban roots. On the Florida Panhandle, the cluster of towns that make up the Emerald Coast offer charms to spare. Grab a vacation rental for a few days to explore tony Alys Beach, which feels for all the world like it was plucked from a Grecian isle — its private shoreline, miles of meandering bike paths, and see-and-be-seen pool-restaurant complex have made it a favorite among the ultrawealthy. Over in Sandestin, Hotel Effie opens this February, with 250 rooms and a restaurant from chef Hugh Acheson. Time your trip right and you can make it to the Emerald Coast Open , a tournament focused on spearing invasive lionfish. At the corresponding Restaurant Week, local chefs work delicious magic with a fish long written off as bad eating. End your trip in Alabama's twin Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, where repair efforts are underway after Hurricane Sally swept through this fall. Family-friendly Perdido's Beach Resort will reopen in March after a full renovation, and closed areas of Gulf State Park are expected to reopen next year. Luckily, some of the area's biggest highlights — its 32 miles of pristine powder beaches, the carnival of seafood delights at Fisher's — remain unchanged. —Lila Battis

19. Indianapolis, Indiana

Indianapolis may be famous for its annual Indy 500 motorsports race, but it's the state capital's arts and culture scene that's revving on all cylinders. Next year, the eight-mile Cultural Trail will undergo a two-mile extension, making it even easier to explore Circle City's attractions on two wheels, including the revamped Madam Walker Legacy Center and the new 12-acre Bottleworks District along Carrollton Ave. Here, a $300 million investment is giving new life to an Art Deco gem—a 1930s Coca-Cola bottling plant whose restored terracotta facade, original terrazzo floors and tilework, and vintage brass doors will be on full display at the 139-room Bottleworks Hotel debuting this month. An Asian-fusion restaurant, coffee bar, nail salon, and speakeasy are coming soon to the property, while old maintenance garages across the street are being converted into a 20-vendor food hall , a duckpin bowling bar and an independent movie theater. This spring, James Beard-nominated chef Abbi Merriss will open Kan-Kan , an arthouse cinema and brasserie in Windsor Park, while chef Craig Baker is using colorful shipping containers to repurpose a 40,000 square foot building in the 16 Tech neighborhood into a food lover's paradise with a European-style marketplace and dining venues. In June, THE LUME will permanently transform The Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields ' 30,000-square-foot fourth floor into a digital art space with an inaugural exhibit featuring 3,000 moving images of Vincent Van Gogh paintings set to a classical music score. — Nora Walsh

20. Kansas City, Missouri

The City of Fountains has so much more to offer than its (rightly praised) barbecue. The Crossroads Arts District, in particular, has seen notable growth since the Crossroads Hotel reopened inside the former Pabst bottling plant in 2018. Last February saw the arrival of Mean Mule Distilling Co.'s Agave Lounge, a tasting room dedicated to blue-agave–based spirits. James Beard finalist Michael Corvino's late-night burger (served at his fine-dining supper club) became so popular that, in September, he decided to launch a dedicated venture, Ravenous, inside food hall Parlor KC . Several new breweries have also established roots in the neighborhood, with Casual Animal , Border Brewing Co. , Double Shift , and Torn Label . Elsewhere in the city, female entrepreneurs have proven particularly resilient in the face of the pandemic. When actor Jackie Nguyen's touring production had to close, the first-gen Vietnamese-American started Cafe Cà Phê , a mobile coffee shop serving both the classic beverage and Nguyen's creative riffs. Yoli Tortilleria brought Sonoran-style tortillas to the city — first with its own retail shop, then through several local markets and restaurants. There's also cultural news of note for 2021: after almost three years, the long-awaited renovation of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum is finally complete, and the facility — with its new multimedia and interactive exhibits — will be ready to go once cultural institutions are allowed to reopen. And don't miss the chance to check into KC's latest arrival, the new Hotel Kansas City , which opened this fall in the 1920s building that once housed the Kansas City Club. — Sarah Bruning

21. Las Vegas

You don't go to Las Vegas seeking solitude — you go to indulge, to splash out, to revel in the nonstop energy of this shimmering, seductive oasis in the desert. A city defined by its hypnotic pool parties, around-the-clock gambling, epic nightlife scene, glitzy, over-the-top hotels, and next-level restaurants — each one trying to one up the other — just dreaming about a visit is enough to push your endorphins into overdrive. And after a year of staying still within our own four walls — the extreme antithesis of Sin City — getting back to Vegas and its many venues designed to bring crowds together will feel like the ultimate luxury. Throw in exciting new properties, like the Resorts World Las Vegas, a 3,500-room mega-resort and casino combining Hilton Hotels & Resorts , LXR , and the Conrad across 88 acres; the recently completed Circa Resort & Casino , the first adults-only casino resort with a pool amphitheater; and Virgin Hotels , set to replace the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, and well, you've hit the jackpot. — Alisha Prakash

22. Lexington, Kentucky

A handful of pilgrimage-worthy culinary and cultural developments will draw travelers to the Bluegrass State's second-largest city in 2021. It's not just The Queen's Gambit that has drummed up excitement around Lexington. After sitting empty for 20 years, Greyline Station has been newly reimagined as a 70-stall open market populated by dozens of local small businesses like North Lime Coffee and Donuts and Old North Bar, which will have a "sip and stroll'' license so visitors can enjoy a beverage while they browse. The anchor tenant — taking up just over a third of the 65,000 square feet — is Julietta Market , an open-air grocery in the vein of Seattle's Pike Place and Barcelona's La Boqueria. Elsewhere in the city will be the new Fresh Bourbon distillery from entrepreneur Sean Edwards, who grew up in Lexington and learned the craft from his grandfather and uncles. The 34,000-square-foot facility is set to be the largest Black-owned distillery in the state when it opens and will offer tours and guided tastings. Cultural sites are also furthering initiatives to tell a richer, more diverse history of Kentucky: Don't miss new walking tours of Lexington from the Faulkner Morgan Archive , an organization dedicated to preserving and chronicling the state's LGBTQ+ legacy. — Sarah Bruning

23. Lopez Island, Washington

Only the chilly saltwater splashing onto the rocky shores — and the occasional moo of the local farm animals — seem to disrupt the peaceful calm of Lopez Island. Idyllic nearly to the point of absurdity, the pace of life on these 30 acres in Puget Sound appeals to those who find serenity in the scenic route. For bicyclists, that comes in the form of the gentle, rolling roads that double as bike paths as they wind around the island. For food lovers, it means a feast of artisanal baked goods, heritage meats, and foraged foods from farm stands, markets, and restaurants. Midnight's Farm encapsulates the Lopez ethos, selling rotationally grazed grass-fed beef from little more than a cash box nailed to the side of a lean-to, hosting yoga classes in an on-site studio, and renting out the homey field house for farm stays. North Star Farms uses their own wheat to bake bagels and doughnuts from the kitchen at the Edenwild, a cozy boutique inn. And Barn Owl Bakery sells its wild sourdough alongside spreads from Ursa Minor , where chef Nick Coffey distilled the flavors of Lopez Island into world-class multi-course menus before swiftly transitioning to community-centric takeout during the pandemic. — Naomi Tomky

24. Los Angeles

Visit Los Angeles for the stress-relieving powers of sunshine and surf, stay to see two long-awaited museums finally open their doors. Renzo Piano has reimagined the 1930s May Company department store in Mid-Wilshire, where the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will unveil its centerpiece, the last-surviving full-scale shark model from Steven Spielberg's "Jaws," when it opens in April. Other collection highlights include Judy Garland's ruby slippers from "The Wizard of Oz," items from the late Debbie Reynolds' personal collection, and memorabilia from the Star Wars and Matrix films. If all that entertainment leaves you thirsty, 2021 will be the year a craft beer scene flourishes in South L.A.'s Florence neighborhood, thanks to the soon-to-open 13,000-square-foot South Los Angeles Beverage Company, a Black-owned brewery, tasting room, cidery, and coffee roastery. Meanwhile, a spate of new hotel openings is led by the Pendry West Hollywood , the brand's first L.A. property, opening in January at the former House of Blues on the iconic Sunset Strip. In Century City, the expansive Fairmont Century Plaza will have 400 rooms and 63 luxury residences, and in Downtown L.A., the latest Proper location will feature Kelly Wearstler's eclectic design combining work from California-based artists, plus restaurants, bars, and a rooftop pool sure to be a hit with the Staples Center crowd. — Nina Ruggiero

Miami continues to prove it's much more than its blockbuster beaches and hedonist party scene. Early next year, the initial phase of the Underline , a planned 10-mile linear park below Miami's Metrorail (from the same design studio as New York's High Line ), will debut as the "Brickell Backyard" on a half-mile stretch from the Miami River to Coral Way. Expect public art, free concerts, outdoor gathering spaces, fitness activities, and lush landscapes with butterfly gardens. Cap off a visit with a bite at one of Brickell City Centre 's various new dining concepts, like the Cuban-inflected Marabu . Meanwhile, the neighborhood of Allapattah has become a fledgling arts district home to billionaire Jorge Perez' year-old museum El Espacio 23 , the Rubell Museum , and the highly-anticipated 50,000-square-foot experiential art space, Superblue , launching with three large-scale installations this spring. Throughout 2021, an overhauled CocoWalk will bring retailers, eateries, and slick architecture to quaint Coconut Grove. And when it comes time to bed down, travelers have their pick of glossy new Miami Beach hotels flaunting Art Deco design, swoon-worthy pools and exceptional food and drink. Check out souped-up iterations of the W Hotel , Mondrian , the Ritz-Carlton ; recently opened Palihouse and Kimpton's Palomar; and upcoming sure-to-be-hot spots Moxy Miami , Citizen M Citizen MCitizen M and Goodtime Hotel , the brainchild of hospitality mogul David Grutman and singer Pharrell Williams. —Nora Walsh

26. Nantucket

The charm of Nantucket is that not much changes. Luckily, the historic cobblestone downtown, the tiny rose-covered S'conset cottages, the timeless beaches — they're all still here. But as locals mark the 200th anniversary of the sinking of the Nantucket whaling ship Essex and cannibalism on the high seas, it's a perfect time to remember that even on Nantucket, some changes can be okay. This year, the iconic Century House on Cliff Road left the ranks of Nantucket's bed and breakfast lodgings to join the new Life House Nantucket . It's just the latest of the new boutique hoteliers marrying tradition with luxury in the historic downtown — check out the Greydon House and their new Venetian-inspired small plates at Via Mare. From there, grab locally sourced provisions from Proprietors Bar and Table , Company of The Caldron , or Black-Eyed Susan's , or wander to Tap Room , recently restored to the cellar of the Jared Coffin House. Out of town, Cisco Brewers is upping its game, partnering with the Levitate Music and Arts Festival to bring a schedule of big-name bands to play their festive outdoor island flagship location. After 2020, couldn't we all use some outdoor tunes, craft beer, and a few cocktails? — Charles Graeber

27. Nashville

Nashville has been an "it" city for a while, we know. But if you look past Lower Broadway — and the hoards of bachelor and bachelorette parties that roam the stretch — there's a lot more to the city than honky-tonks and country. In January, the long-awaited National Museum of African American Music will open its doors, adding a permanent home to celebrate the work of Black musicians and the evolution of gospel, blues, jazz, and hip-hop, among others. The 346-room W hotel will bring new flavor to the upscale Gulch, while legacy brands like Conrad and Four Seasons continue building out a true luxury market in Music City. Assembly Food Hall , at nearly 100,000 square feet, will bring over 24 restaurant stalls and a new music venue space overlooking the historic Ryman Auditorium downtown. And we'll all be celebrating the Dolly Parton-funded vaccine at Graduate Hotel's Dolly Parton-themed rooftop bar, White Limozeen . —Tanner Saunders

28. New Orleans

New Orleans never goes out of style , though for a moment, with 2021's Mardi Gras parade season called off due to crowd concerns, it looked as if next year would be a low point for the city. But the top krewes rallied — drumming up virtual parades and scavenger hunts, making plans to deck out houses in lieu of floats , and charging forward with fundraising efforts to support their communities — reminding us all that this beloved city's spirit is irrepressible. And while Mardi Gras may not look the same in 2021, that doesn't mean there's nothing to look forward to. This fall saw the opening of The Chloe , a 14-room hotel on St. Charles with an interior that marries old-fashioned drama and playful, pastel-colored sweetness. Still to come: Four Seasons New Orleans , a $530 million conversion of the landmarked World Trade Center building, right on the banks of the Mississippi. — Lila Battis

29. New York City

It's often said that change is the only constant in New York — the very name serves as a reminder that new is indeed its hallmark. When the pandemic hit hard this spring, the city — resilient at its core — slowly reinvented itself: Restaurants eventually set up shop curbside, performances and museums went virtual, bars began peddling to-go cocktails from modest, makeshift windows, and hotels transformed rooms into remote offices. When the city cracks its door open to travel again, it will undoubtedly be another new New York. Its fresh look will include a slew of new hotels, like the Aman New York , with a three-story spa and sweeping Central Park views; the sophisticated yet laid-back Pendry , perched in Manhattan's Hudson Yards district; and the Ritz-Carlton NoMad , a 38-floor tower touting a public garden, rooftop bar, and striking city vistas. Meanwhile, luxury hospitality group Six Senses , known for its wellness resorts in places like Bali and the Maldives, will soon bring a dose of its signature tranquility to the high-octane urban landscape, with a standout spa and calming views of the High Line and Hudson River. Restaurants, shops, and museums are poised to make a comeback, too. The only missing ingredient? You. — Alisha Prakash

30. North Carolina's Triangle

For starters, let's get one thing straight: Raleigh-Durham is an airport, not a city. But, okay, it's handy to have a catchall term for this buzzy part of the Southeast, so go with local parlance: The Triangle, shorthand for the Research Triangle, a cluster in the North Carolina Piedmont anchored by the cities of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. Even as the area saw through-the-roof growth in recent decades, leisure travelers have overlooked the Triangle in favor of N.C. getaway spots like Asheville or the Outer Banks. That's finally changing as new hotel stock has made it more inviting to linger. Boutique properties like the 53-room Durham Hotel and the tiny, stylish Guest House Raleigh have opened in the past few years, raising the bar for local accommodations and kicking off a wave of new spots with a design-forward sensibility. January 2020 saw the opening of the Longleaf Hotel , a downtown Raleigh motor lodge revamped with a fittingly midcentury-inspired aesthetic, and the sleek Origin Hotel — the upstart brand's fourth location — made its debut this summer. While you're in town, make time to explore the trails of Duke Forest or Umstead Park , wander down Durham's Main Street or Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, and hit up the many incredible restaurants in the area. Much talked-about spots like Saltbox Seafood Joint , Brewery Bhavana , and Garland — not to mention chef Ashley Christensen's stable of restaurants — live up to the hype. But don't overlook the Triangle's longstanding gems: You can't go wrong with La Farm Bakery in Cary for artisan bread and a signature white chocolate baguette, Char-Grill for unfussy burgers, or Crook's Corner in Chapel Hill for the platonic ideal of shrimp and grits. Cap it off with a visit to the downtown Raleigh Krispy Kreme right when the HOT light goes on and you're practically a native. —Lila Battis

31. Northern Minnesota

The promise of starry skies awaits in Minnesota's northern reaches, where Voyageurs National Park recently joined Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness as a certified Dark Sky destination. Clear views of the cosmos — and even the Northern Lights, if you're lucky — are only part of the fun in this water-rich region. Adventurers flock to Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness' 1.1 million rugged acres to paddle 1,200 miles of canoe-portage routes and camp under the constellations. Meanwhile, more than a third of the neighboring 218,000-acre Voyageurs National Park is a watery wonderland, making motorized houseboats a novel way to stargaze and explore the park's five main lakes and boreal and deciduous forests. Both parks offer an abundance of wildlife from aquatic birds and beavers to timber wolves and black bear; miles of scenic nature trails; and opportunities to angle walleye, northern pike, and smallmouth bass. In winter, the firmament glitters even brighter, plus there's dog sledding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling (the latter is only offered in Voyageurs National Park). Call on local outfitters to help organize year-round itineraries and stock up on necessary gear.— Nora Walsh

32. Northwest Arkansas

With the opening early last year of the Momentary , a center for arts and culture housed in a former cheese factory, the formerly sleepy town of Bentonville in northwest Arkansas continued its transformation into a hub for creativity and outdoor experiences. Last October, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art , founded by Walmart heir Alice Walton, announced that it will augment its collection with an outdoor play space that promises to harmonize with the surrounding landscape. The 21c Museum Hotel offers further art adventures, as well as the Hive , one of the region's best restaurants. Venture beyond the town to Bella Vista, where you can hit the 39 miles of mountain biking paths at the recently expanded Little Sugar Trail System, or to Springdale, home of the new J.B. and Johnelle Hunt Family Ozark Highlands Nature Center , where families can explore exhibitions, nature trails, and an archery range. — Peter Terzian

33. Oahu, Hawaii

In October, America's 50th state once again welcomed visitors from the mainland after six months of pandemic lockdown. And while many travelers opt to use the capital and most populous city, Honolulu, as a stopover to Maui, Kauai, or the Big Island, there's good reason to stay put on Oahu this year. The hotel scene continues to expand — most recently with a complete overhaul of a Waikiki classic, Queen Kapi'olani , which debuted its new look in December. Inspired by vintage Hawaiiana and local art, the 315-room resort sits across the street from legendary Waikiki Beach, and is (fittingly) home to a new surf school and shop. Over is Kaimuki — a neighborhood that's become the center of Oahu's increasingly dynamic food world — chef Chris Kajioka followed up his wildly popular (and perennially packed) Arts District restaurant, Senia, with Miro , featuring a French-inspired menu using Japanese techniques and ingredients. And for a look at the island's contemporary art, fashion, and design, head to Kaka'ako, a warehouse-filled industrial area near downtown with an ever-expanding open-air commercial compound, SALT at Our Kaka'ako to check out local creations and a weekly Saturday morning farmers market. — John Wogan

34. Omaha, Nebraska

Nebraska's largest city is hitting its stride. Omaha 's patchwork of eclectic neighborhoods (one of which is home to billionaire Warren Buffett) blends old with new in exciting ways. A shining example: The just-opened Kimpton Cottonwood Hotel , a $75 million reinvention of the iconic Blackstone Hotel, which has played host to notable dignitaries like Eleanor Roosevelt, John and Jackie Kennedy, and Richard Nixon. Special attention was paid to preserving the 105-year-old grand dame's hand-carved terra cotta columns, marble staircase, hardwood floors, and grand ballroom's vaulted ceilings. The property's 21st-century updates include five contemporary dining venues, including a modernized Orleans Room (which, in its heyday, consistently ranked as one of the nation's best restaurants), a steakhouse, and reimagined speakeasy. A host of top-notch culinary purveyors and a 70-work art collection curated by artist Watie White highlights the best of Omaha's local talent. To experience the revival playing out in the surrounding Blackstone District (birthplace of the Reuben sandwich), guests can hop in the hotel's electric tuk-tuk to cruise streets chock full of ultra-hip eateries, craft-beer bars, and trendy boutiques. Be sure to grab front-row seats to Omaha's hot-ticket events in 2021 including the buzzy Omaha Fashion Week in March, where attendees can buy looks right off the runway; the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in June to see the nation's top athletes compete; and the annual Maha Festival , a high-caliber music and food festival happening late July. — Nora Walsh

35. Orlando

Remember roller coasters? Dole Whips? Carefree days when the most important thing was not getting vertigo on the Tower of Terror? Next year, there's no better place to live out your pent-up theme park fantasies than Walt Disney World Resort, which turns 50 in 2021. No details yet on the actual celebration, but we do know there's a huge transformation of Epcot underway, including new experiences like Remy's Ratatouille Adventure and a space-themed restaurant. Seeking an adrenaline rush (and who isn't, these days)? Hit the new Jurassic World VelociCoaster at Universal come summer, where you'll catapult upward at 70 miles per hour. Feel safe knowing Orlando was one of the first cities to develop a citywide health and safety program , with major parks going above CDC requirements. (Expect virtual kiosks and check-in at each.) And though its new south terminal won't be open until 2022, Orlando International Airport just introduced on-site COVID testing, one of the first airports in the country to do so. Helping to welcome visitors back, newcomers to Orlando's hotel scene include internationally inspired TRYP by Wyndham opened in November, Dockside Inn and Suites at Universal Orlando Resort in December, AC Hotel Orlando Downtown expected in January 2021, and the upscale Reserve tower at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort (with free shuttle service to Disney) in mid-2021. Fancy downtime away from the city? The tranquil Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes completes a $120 million transformation in February. —Kelsey Ogletree

36. Palm Springs, California

From the cocktails and pools to the starry night skies, the swath of desert east of L.A. never gets old. And now, a new crop of hotels, restaurants, bars, art and even sound bathing experiences are lending fresh energy to Palm Springs and its neighboring desert cities. Soak in mineral-rich waters at the just-opened Azure Palm Hot Springs , a 40-room resort and spa, in Desert Hot Springs. At the reimagined Casa Cody , rooms — 30 in total — feature fireplaces and patios, as well as colorful details such as Moroccan zellige tiles and otomi-embroidered pillows. And at year-old, 27-room Les Cactus , guests wake up to breakfast baskets with freshly baked croissants. Debuting its third installment this year, biennial art exhibition Desert X , which has quietly become a major art attraction, returns with new site-specific installations. Also opening in 2021, the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum is part 48,000-square foot museum and gardens, part bathhouse-cum-spa celebrating the history and culture of the Agua Caliente band of Cahuilla Indians. Come dinner, sample inventive rolls paired with scotch at Sandfish Sushi & Whiskey , helmed by chef Engin Onural. His latest venture is Tailor Shop, a cocktail bar drawing inspiration from faraway places including London, Norway and Hong Kong. For adventure of another kind, head to otherworldly Joshua Tree National Park nearby. The hiking, rock climbing, and stargazing do not disappoint. — Tanvi Chheda

37. Park City, Utah

With Sundance events going mostly virtual and many still wary of travel, Utah's greatest ski town is likely to take a tourism hit this winter. But once it's safe to do so, make a beeline for this outdoor paradise — before everyone else does. A series of big-deal developments in the works have Park City poised for major growth in the coming years. Mayflower Mountain Resort — a massive 6,800-acre, multi-hotel complex which creators claim would be the first new ski resort in the U.S. in 40 years — is in the works for a 2023 opening. If and when it finally debuts, it's expected to bring serious crowds, and a potential agreement with Deer Valley might mean some of the most exclusive slopes in the States (and famously, some of the last to ban snowboarding) get a little more traffic. Elsewhere in town, development for a new arts district is underway, and the forthcoming Pendry Park City is setting up shop in Canyons Village, with 152 guestrooms, a luxe spa, and the area's first rooftop pool. Until that all arrives, soak in the highlights that have made Park City so beloved: the small businesses on historic Main Street , the crowd-free powder at tony Deer Valley , and the year-round outdoor adventures to be found in the surrounding mountains. —Lila Battis

38. Rhode Island

Known for its Colonial seaside towns and Gilded Age mansions, Rhode Island is a destination steeped in history. But it's become a modern hot spot recently with the openings of several new properties. The Wayfinder Hotel in Newport, created by a group of locals, touts its anti-nautical design vibe — visit the on-site restaurant, Nomi Park, for traditional New England fare with a twist. And the past blends with the present at Providence's new hotel, the Beatrice , once the 1887 Exchange Building. Now, it's a 47-room boutique property within walking distance of the university city's buzzing downtown. And there are even options for outdoor enthusiasts thanks to the opening of the 3,500-acre Preserve Sporting Club & Residences in Richmond, from the team behind Ocean House . The one-of-a-kind wilderness retreat features an 18-hole golf course, zip line, mountain biking, rock climbing, kayaking, archery, and more. The pint-size state is having such a moment, luxury travel company Black Tomato even included a stop at the Vanderbilt in Newport on a New England road trip itinerary launched as part of its curated Take the Open Road with Auberge and Black Tomato collection. Of course, the classic experiences are just as appealing: You can't leave the Ocean State without making a pilgrimage to try the epic Sunday brunch at Castle Hill Inn , overlooking Narragansett Bay. — Jordi Lippe-McGraw

39. Richmond, Virginia

One of 2020's most indelible images, and the one that best captured the changing identity of Richmond, was that of Marcus-David Peters Circle on Monument Avenue: A statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee astride a horse, its stone plinth a kaleidoscope of tags in support of Black Lives Matter. Now, with the statue's removal in the works, Richmond is looking toward a new, more inclusive future. Virginia's governor announced a proposal to allot $10 million in state funding to redesign the site, along with the stretches of Monument Avenue that once held similar tributes to Confederate figures. Another $9 million is proposed to help improve Richmond's existing Slave Trail and establish a Slavery Heritage Site. Elsewhere in the city, look for public art created this year as part of Mending Walls RVA , a project spearheaded by muralist Hamilton Glass that brings together artists from disparate backgrounds to create murals around Richmond. Newly launched nonstop flights from Florida, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles will make visiting in 2021 a breeze, and Richmond's location — within easy reach of Charlottesville, Virginia Beach, and wine country — makes it an ideal home base for a lengthier exploration of the state. —Lila Battis

40. The Rockies

Colorado's peaks have been all the more alluring in 2020 as outdoor activities became the default and the Great American Road Trip made its long-awaited comeback. But next year holds even more in store for visitors: Rocky Mountaineer , known for its impossibly scenic, glass-domed train rides through western Canada, will launch its first U.S. route in August, from the Rockies via Denver along the Colorado River to the Red Rocks in Moab, Utah. The two-day journey includes sparkling wine toasts and three-course meals served with views of canyons and cliffs, deserts and mountains. Before hopping on board, take time to visit Colorado's newest state park, Fishers Peak , opening its 30 square miles of land in phases. Marked by a 9,633-foot mountain, it's home to black bears, elk, mountain lions, and more wildlife to spot. For skiers, Aspen Snowmass will debut a high-speed chairlift, additional snowmaking for seamless shredding, and a new dining concept at High Alpine Marketplace , an offshoot of local favorite Gwyn's, serving warming dishes with fresh ingredients sourced sustainably from local farmers. At the Viceroy Snowmass , a COVID-era uptick in interest in backcountry skiing has prompted a new Uphill Thrills experience, where guests can book an excursion to Aspen's most isolated slopes and forego the lifts all together. —Nina Ruggiero

41. Santa Fe, New Mexico

A UNESCO City of Crafts and Folk Art as well as City of Design, Santa Fe is widely known as an arts mecca. Stalwart stays like the Inn at Five Graces and the Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi , celebrate that status with their adobe architecture and distinctive art. But sometimes it takes a new hotel to help us see a destination with fresh eyes. The reimagined Bishop's Lodge , Santa Fe's newest luxury hotel in nearly a decade, aims to showcase far more than the city's artistic side when it opens this spring. Set on 317 acres bordering Santa Fe National Forest, the 100-room Auberge Resorts Collection property will offer fly fishing, hiking, mountain biking, and wrangler-led trail rides from its on-site stables. A restaurant helmed by Dean Fearing, the godfather of Southwestern cuisine, and a healing arts studio with therapies such as turquoise gem therapy are respites from wilderness adventures. The lodge will serve as a base for new four- and six-day cycling trips from Trek Travel, as well a new road trip itinerary from Black Tomato. Meanwhile, Marcia Gordon, the New Mexico-born co-owner of African safari specialist Extraordinary Journeys, has cast her attention back home, with custom itineraries that might include hikes in Georgia O' Keeffe's beloved Ghost Ranch or Navajo-led walks through the ruins of Chaco Canyon. — Jen Murphy

42. The Sea Islands

Running along the southeastern coast of the U.S. are the Sea Islands, a chain of over 100 tidal and barrier islands spanning from Florida to North Carolina. The marshy region is also home to the Gullah Geechee Corridor , a 12,000-square-mile National Heritage Area — the cultural homeland of the Gullah Geechee people, descendants of enslaved Africans who have preserved their traditions and language for centuries. The Sea Islands have emerged as a compelling travel destination in recent years, beginning with President Obama's 2017 move to establish a Reconstruction Era National Monument in South Carolina's Beaufort County. In 2019, a redesignation expanded the corridor, and this year brought still more attention to the region, with the new Reconstruction Era National Historic Network incorporating several sites in the area. You'd need a lifetime to fully explore the islands, but start your trip in South Carolina: Johns Island is home to Moving Star Hall, the last remaining praise house in the region, along with the Angel Oak Tree, rumored to be one of the oldest of its kind east of the Mississippi River. Visit St. Helena to see the Penn Center , one of the first schools for free Black children in America and the site where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. composed his "I Have A Dream" speech. On Georgia's largely undeveloped Cumberland Island, undisturbed views more than make up for the bare-bones facilities, while further south in St. Augustine, Florida, Fort Mose Historic State Park offers opportunities to learn about the first legally recognized free Black settlement in America. Don't leave without a stop at Gullah Grub Restaurant on St. Helena for a taste of true Gullah Geechee cuisine, a seafood- and grain-rich culinary tradition similar to the soul food developed by enslaved Africans across the American South. —Danielle Dorsey

43. Sonoma, California

In the face of back-to-back years of wildfires, Sonoma County is forging ahead to achieve a more sustainable future. As of 2019, 99 percent of the region's vineyards were certified sustainable, earning Sonoma the accolade of world's most sustainable winegrowing region. And last year, area vineyards launched a pilot program aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. With that earth-conscious ethos, it's only fitting that nature is the star of Sonoma's newest experiences. Guests at the new Montage Healdsburg, which debuted this December, will literally feel like they're living amidst the vines. Nestled among 258 acres of rolling vineyards, the resort's 130 rooms each have spacious outdoor living areas, and guests can book experiences such as yoga classes and wine tastings amid rows of Petit Verdot and Sauvignon Blanc grapes. While Montage begs indulgence at its terroir-to-table restaurant, Hazel Hill, nearby New Tree Ranch , a 120-acre biodynamic farmstead that opened last November, caters to guests in need of a reboot with plant-based menus, sound journeys, and cold water therapies. Boutique operator Bohemian Highway has launched chef-led tours of Healdsburg farms and vineyards leading the way in organic and biodynamic practices. Any DIY wine tasting tour of Healdsburg should include stops at winemaker wunderkind Jess Katz's new sustainably-minded tasting room, Aperture Cellars, and the hip new al fresco venue from winemaker Noah Dorrance's new project, Blood Root Wines . Sonoma's restaurant scene is also heating up. Star chef Michael Mina debuted his first wine country project, Wit & Wisdom , in the town of Sonoma last fall, and later this year, acclaimed chef Douglas Keane will put sleepy Geyserville on the map when he unveils Cyrus 2.0, a reinvention of his two-Michelin-star restaurant previously in Healdsburg. —Jen Murphy

44. Texas Hill Country

Just outside the capital city of Austin is the idyllic region known as the Hill Country . Comprising over 20 towns — along with plenty of lush, loping countryside — the Hill Country has an inimitable charm that those outside of the state just seem to be catching onto. Experience the best in Texas terroir by visiting Driftwood-based wineries like the renowned Fall Creek Vineyards , run one of the founding families of the Texas wine industry, and acclaimed Duchman Family Winery , which makes exceptional wines (try their award-winning Aglianico) from Italian grape varieties. Stay the weekend in one of the rustic-chic Getaway cabins, which opened in early 2020 in the quaint town of Wimberley , and stop for a dram in Dripping Springs' Distillery District, which is home to more than 25 distilleries, such as Treaty Oak Distilling and Deep Eddy Vodka . Complete your weekend road trip with a stay at the luxurious Camp Lucy , situated on 289 acres on a bluff above the famous Onion Creek. — Gabrielle Nicole Pharms

45. Tucson, Arizona

Tucson has long lived in the shadow of its higher-profile Southwestern siblings like Phoenix, Santa Fe, and Las Vegas. But this undercover desert rose has come into its own recently, as more visitors discover the saguaro-dotted city that's been a magnet for wellness enthusiasts long before the term went mainstream. Lately, new, boutique hotels have popped up, joining established spa resorts like Miraval and Canyon Ranch. These include The Tuxon — a 112-room property that takes its whimsical design cues from the region's Mexican and Native American roots — and JTH Tucson , a five-suite earth-toned escape on the edge of Saguaro National Park. And architecture buffs will appreciate projects saved by the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation, like the Ball-Paylore House, an important mid-century modern residence designed by Arthur T. Brown which became available for overnight stays last year. Meanwhile, Tucson continues to cater to outdoorsy types, and anticipation is high for the forthcoming Bike Ranch, a sustainable, 20-acre resort adjacent to Saguaro National Park that's dedicated to all aspects of cycling and mountain biking. — John Wogan

46. Tulsa, Oklahoma

Big, open green spaces like the 100-acre Gathering Place and a high quality of life — especially as measured in microbreweries and trendy restaurants — brought new crowds to the Art Deco darling of Tulsa in recent years. But Tulsa's renaissance remained incomplete without a reconciliation and recognition of the city's dark past. As much of the U.S. learned only last year, through television depictions on Lovecraft Country and Watchmen , the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 wiped out the thriving and successful neighborhood of Greenwood, known as Black Wall Street. Approaching the 100th anniversary of the horrific attack, a new class of Black artists and entrepreneurs honors and explores that history, bringing residents and visitors to face the dark past through creative means. The Black Moon collective, Black Wall Street Gallery , and Fulton Street Books and Coffee each aim to heal and unify by centering the work and narratives of the Black community. Those narratives come in physical form in the sculptures at John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park , near the coming Greenwood Rising center dedicated to the legacy of Black Wall Street, and site of commemoration events planned leading up to a candlelight vigil marking the anniversary. —Naomi Tomky

47. The U.S. National Parks

The National Park Service saw another banner year in 2020 — even if it was for all the wrong reasons. As the pandemic spurred interest in outdoor pursuits, Yellowstone National Park recorded the busiest September in history . Other biggies, like Joshua Tree, were bracing for huge holiday-season crowds . It should come as no surprise: Travelers also swarmed parks and nature preserves during the 1918 pandemic, according to Quartz . But record visitation and crowding at iconic spots kind of defeats the point of exploring wide-open spaces, doesn't it? Enter TCS World Travel, a luxury outfitter that coordinates private jet trips. They've just launched a private itinerary — designed for quarantine pods of four to 12 guests — that hits many of the most in-demand national parks, including Bryce Canyon, Grand Teton, and Zion, by private Citation CJ3 or Hawker 800XP jet. These fully customizable trips will have adventurers tracking wolves in Yellowstone, hiking past hoodoos in Bryce Canyon, standup paddleboarding on Lake Powell, or whatever else your crew wants to do. And while TCS can't promise you won't see another soul along the way, they can get you into some of the most exclusive hotels in the American West, including Amangani, Amangiri, and Sage Lodge. —Paul Brady

48. Washington, D.C.

The push and pull between past and present is the great drama of Washington, D.C. Once you know to look, you'll see it everywhere. The newly renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza — its great yellow block letters both immediately recognizable and extremely photogenic — abuts Lafayette Square, in front of the White House, which once was an open-air slave market. The Smithsonian Institution marks its 175th anniversary with its first national Latino gallery on the National Mall : a new exhibition space to open inside the National Museum of American History. The new Kimpton Banneker Hotel , just north of Scott Circle, is named after the city's great polymath, Benjamin, the 18th-century free black writer and astronomer who surveyed the District's boundaries. And making his debut at the National Zoo is Xiao Qi Ji ("Little Miracle"), a panda cub whose presence can be traced back to Nixon's 1972 trip to China. But the pandemic-age inauguration of a new president in January will doubtless be the city's biggest milestone — unless this is the year D.C. finally becomes a state. —Molly McArdle

49. White Sands, New Mexico

Nothing is as it seems in White Sands , the 176,000-acre swath of New Mexico desert that was first established as a national monument in 1933. From afar, the gypsum dunes —the world's largest such expanse — look as sterile and sun-scorched as the surface of a distant planet. Up close, the luxuriously cool sand teems with life. Bleached earless lizards, Apache pocket mice, and sand wolf spiders — all mostly white, to blend in with their surroundings — skitter across the dunes. At first, there's no evidence of humankind, but investigate the right spot and you'll find fossilized footprints overlaid by mammoth and giant-sloth tracks. Last year's redesignation as a national park expanded the protected region's scope by 2,030 acres, and, more importantly, increased its visibility to travelers. Researchers estimate that the change in status could contribute $7 million in spending, and 100 jobs, to the local economy. — Kieran Dahl

50. Wyoming

No one could have dreamed up a better marketing plan for Wyoming than social distancing. The country's least-populated state has only six people per square mile, meaning it's not only easy, but natural to stay safely apart. Yellowstone and Grand Teton have both seen huge spikes in visitation (credit "Yellowstone" binges), but don't overlook Wyoming's 12 state parks . A new 4-mile section was recently added to the famous Continental Divide Trail, too. Not so good with a compass? Go deeper into the park (without getting lost) with new itineraries from ToursByLocals, including a full-day adventure in Grand Teton National park, or book the new winter experience with wolves from Scott Dunn. In Casper, College National Finals Rodeo (the Rose Bowl of the sport) resumes in June after a year off, and the world's largest outdoor rodeo, Cheyenne Frontier Days , celebrates its 125th anniversary in July 2021. Hit the pancake breakfast to feel like you really belong. In south central Wyoming, the Relais & Chateaux Magee Homestead reopens to leisure travelers and relaunches its popular culinary events. And in Jackson, the first hotel on the historic town square, the 100-room Cloudveil , opens in spring with a huge rooftop terrace overlooking Snow King Mountain. —Kelsey Ogletree

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Bucket list travel: the top 50 places in the world.

  • What's on your travel bucket list?
  • No matter how many places are on your bucket list, this ranking will get you dreaming of places near and far.
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According to a new survey, Bali is the top bucket list destination in the world.

What's on your travel bucket list? If you're like most people, the more you travel, the more places you add to your bucket list. So when the editors of the website Big 7 Travel announced the list of the world's top 50 bucket list destinations, we stopped in our tracks and started checking off the boxes.

The website surveyed its 1.5 million-strong social audience  in order to determine the best bucket list places around the world. According to Sarah Clayton-Lea, head of content with Big 7 Travel, this is the first time the site has assembled this list. "Bucket list travel was a trend that popped up again and again in previous surveys when asking our readers what sort of travel content they most enjoyed consuming," says Clayton-Lea. "So, our curiosity got the better of us and we wanted to know which destinations people are dreaming of for 2019/2020."

READ MORE: "Why You Should Skip Iceland And Go To These 9 Under-the-Radar Places"

The results of the world’s top 50 bucket list destinations include some of the most beautiful places on earth. "White sandy beaches are still a must-visit for many, with vibrant cities also making an appearance on a lot of people’s bucket lists," says Clayton-Lea. Countries with naturally beautiful scenery and world-famous landmarks came out on top: 22% of the destinations on the list have white sandy beaches, while 52% are iconic cities.

The famously colorful Bo Kaap neighborhood in Cape Town, South Africa.

In the study, Big 7 Travel found that people were also more likely to add a destination to their list if they had seen it on social media, and 33% of people research vacation destinations on their Instagram feed. "With over one-third of our readers saying they look to Instagram for travel inspiration, it makes sense that cities with colorful neighborhoods (such as Cape Town’s Bo Kaap) made the cut," says Clayton-Lea.

Bali topped the list of the 50 most popular bucket list destination on earth, but there were also some unexpected picks. "The top 10 list has a lot of the expected dream destinations, but there are a few surprises on the list: Paro Valley in Bhutan, for example, or Virunga National Park in the Congo," says Clayton-Lea. "I think this shows a great appetite for a need to get off the grid and can only assume that social media (and Netflix, in the case of Virunga!) is responsible for spreading the word of these amazing places."

An interesting factoid uncovered in the study: Most people have an average bucket list of just 11 places, with the hope of visiting seven of those locations during their lifetime. No matter how many places are on your bucket list, this ranking will get you dreaming of places near and far. Read on for the top 50 bucket list destinations in the world and what Big 7 Travel had to say about each one.

Overlooking the jungle on one of Bali's highly Instagrammed swings.

1. Bali, Indonesia:  "You’ll find beaches, volcanoes, Komodo dragons and jungles sheltering elephants, orangutans and tigers. Basically, it’s paradise. It’s likely you’ve seen an image of Bali on social media at least once in the past seven days, as it’s such a popular bucket list destination for 2019."

2. New Orleans: "The lively city known for its street music, festive vibe and a melting pot of French, African and American cultures is well worth the trip. NOLA is a city packed with adventures at every turn and should be on everyone’s must-visit list."

3. Kerry, Ireland: " All the way west in Ireland is one of the country’s most scenic counties. Kerry’s mountains, lakes and coasts are postcard-perfect, and that’s before you add in Killarney National Park. The unique small towns such as Dingle add to its charm."

El Badi Palace in the Marrakesh medina.

4. Marrakesh, Morocco:  "This ancient walled city is home to mosques, palaces and lush gardens. It’s known as The Red City thanks to the color of the brick walls surrounding the city. The medina is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre."

5. Sydney: "Sydney is known around the world as one of the greatest and most iconic cities on the planet. Amazing things to do aren’t hard to find; the city has gorgeous beaches, great cafes and world-class entertainment on offer wherever you look."

6. The Maldives: "This tropical nation in the Indian Ocean is made up of more than 1,000 coral islands. It’s home to some of the world’s most luxurious hotel resorts, with white sandy beaches, underwater villas and restaurants and bright blue waters."

Paris, France.

7. Paris, France: "One of the most iconic cities in the world, Paris tops many people’s bucket lists. You’ll see so many famous landmarks here: the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame cathedral—the list is never-ending."

8. Cape Town, South Africa: "Cape Town is a dream location to visit: endless natural beauty and clifftop views, pastel pink neighborhoods and turquoise waters."

9. Dubai, U.A.E.: "The high-flying city of the U.A.E, Dubai is one of the most glamorous destinations you’ll ever visit, and is particularly popular with Big 7 Travel readers."

Sunset In Bora Bora, French Polynesia.

10. Bora Bora, French Polynesia: "Bora Bora is Tahiti's most famous island. How do overwater bungalows and underwater adventures sound to you? To us, it’s everything we could want from a bucket list destination."

11. New York: "New York is one of America’s most exciting states. With charming upstate scenery, world-class cuisine and culture and more things to do than you could fit in one lifetime. The city’s five boroughs all have special features; it’s almost impossible to narrow it down"

12. Dubrovnik, Croatia: "As George Bernard Shaw once said, 'Those who seek paradise on Earth should come to Dubrovnik.' With its winding streets, cliffside beach bars and UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Old Town, it’s no wonder Dubrovnik is such a popular spot."

Carlton hill in Edinburgh, Scotland.

13. Edinburgh, Scotland: "With the historic Edinburgh castle looming over the city, culture in spades and wonderfully friendly locals, this is one of the world’s greatest city breaks."

14. Rome, Italy: "Whether it’s your first time in Rome or your 50th, the best thing about this city is that you’ll always discover something new each time you stroll the scenic streets."

15. Paro Valley, Bhutan:  Paro Valley is known for its monasteries, fortresses (or dzongs ) and dramatic landscapes. Tucked between China and India, Bhutan is a mysterious country that prides itself on sustainable tourism. You’ll find Paro Taktsang here, a Himalayan Buddhist sacred site."

At the Jal Mahal Palace at sunset in Jaipur, India.

16. Jaipur, India: "Jaipur is known as the ‘Pink City’ for its pale terracotta buildings. This was originally done to impress the visiting Prince Albert during his 1876 tour of India by order of the Maharaja (Sawai Ram Singh). Even today, it’s illegal to paint buildings any other color."

17. Waikato, New Zealand:  "Waikato, a region in New Zealand’s North Island, is home to massive underground caves, lush rainforest and the buzzy city of Hamilton. But the area’s main attraction? A Middle-earth adventure on the film set of  Lord of the Rings. Hobbiton Movie Set still has the original Hobbit holes from the making of the films."

18. Havana, Cuba:  "Cuba’s capital is almost 500 years old and a riot of color. Brightly painted buildings and vintage cars make Havana a photogenic dream."

A view of Tokyo Skytree and the city skyline from the Tobu Levant Hotel.

19. Tokyo, Japan: "Visiting Tokyo is like visiting the future—flashing neon lights, incredible technology—yet there’s still a rich sense of culture and history."

20. Antarctica:  "Earth’s southernmost continent, Antarctica is a once-in-a-lifetime destination. Nowhere else can compare with the extreme remoteness of this snowy place. It’s not an easy trip to make, but you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the white wilderness, icy sea kayaking and whale sightings."

21. Vancouver, Canada: "Vancouver is surrounded by water yet close to the mountains and has world-class art, restaurants and heaps of other attractions to keep you entertained."

22. Los Angeles: "In a city with year-round sunshine, glam bars, beaches and hikes, there are endless incredible experiences to enjoy in Los Angeles. It’s no wonder there are almost 5O million ‘LA’ hashtags on Insta."

In Kruger National Park, South Africa.

23. Kruger National Park, South Africa:  "The Kruger National Park is a vast space in northeastern South Africa that is home to a huge array of wildlife. The park has safari experiences of all kinds, allowing you the opportunity to escape busy city living and get back to nature."

24. Santorini, Greece: "Santorini is actually a group of islands; Thíra, Thirassiá, Asproníssi, Palea and Nea Kaméni. Beaches with volcanic black or red sand and clear blue waters make this an ideal holiday spot. With its famous Santorini sunsets, it’s no wonder that it’s one of the most popular bucket list destinations."

25. Moscow, Russia: "Russia’s cosmopolitan capital, Moscow is a beautiful destination to visit in any season. Colorful domes and bell chimes ring out from over 600 churches in the city, and the sense of history is immense. Culture lovers will be impressed with the museums and ballet."

26. Singapore : "Singapore is a small island city-state off southern Malaysia which punches way above its weight on a global level. It’s a modern city with colorful buildings, futuristic bridges and a cloud forest."

London's Westminster Bridge.

27. London, England: "Pretty pink restaurants, futuristic space-age toilets and jungle skyline views are just some of our favorite things about London. And of course, all the classics: Big Ben, red phone boxes and world-class museums and galleries."

28. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil:  "Rio de Janeiro has always been one of the most iconic cities in the world with instantly recognizable landscapes and landmarks."

29. Petra, Jordan: "The ancient Nabatean city of Petra in southern Jordan is surrounded by beautiful red rocks and steep gorges. The world wonder is without a doubt Jordan’s most valuable treasure and greatest tourist attraction."

30. Hong Kong:  "Famous for its skylines and vibrant food scene, what most people  don’t  know is that 70% of Hong Kong is mountains and lush parks. Colorful playgrounds and sci-fi apartment blocks give HK an enviable edge."

Beach and sea waves shot from above in Barbados.

31. Barbados: "Barbados is one of those magical holiday destinations that everybody dreams about visiting. Who  wouldn’t  put this on their bucket list? Nestled in the south of the Caribbean, it offers stunning beauty and wonderful local culture and is the perfect place to unwind."

32. Amsterdam: "Forget about cliched images of smoke shops and gaudy red lights. From floating flower markets to bohemian neighborhoods, this city has it all."

33. Santiago, Chile: "Santiago is a cosmopolitan city with the very best of Chilean culture; art galleries, design shops and handicraft markets, as well as lively Latino nightlife. You’ll stroll through historic neighborhoods with pretty winding streets and charming bars and cafes."

34. Cairo, Egypt: "Cairo is one of the most ancient cities in the world. Sitting on the Nile river with wonderful museums, vibrant culture and friendly locals, it makes for a great holiday."

Biking in Copenhagen.

35. Copenhagen, Denmark: "Copenhagen’s rustic fishing ports, modern graffiti and winding red brick streets are just some of what makes it such a beautiful bucket list destination. It oozes Scandi cool from every corner, with top-notch food, stylish design and an always hip atmosphere."

36. Seoul, Korea: "Seoul is a vibrant metropolis where old-meets-new, with pop culture (K-Pop!) alongside Buddhist temples.

37. Laucala Island Resort, Fiji:  "Laucala Island Resort is a private island in Fiji, in absolute paradise. It is one of three small islands off the northeast coast of Taveuni in Fiji. There are coconut trees, a sustainable farm and miles of beach, as well as coral reefs, postcard-perfect beaches and lush rainforest."

38. Providencia, Colombia: "The Colombian island of Providencia is the perfect combination of South America and the Caribbean. It’s best known for Crab Cay: an unspoiled little island where all there is to do is snorkel and lie on the beach."

Photographing Machu Picchu, Peru.

39. Machu Picchu, Peru: "The best way to get here? Arrive at Machu Picchu in style on the 360° Train that will bring you through the Peruvian countryside to the lost city. The wide, panoramic windows are perfect for soaking up the view, plus they serve Pisco Sours on board."

40. Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo: "Virunga National Park is one of the most biologically diverse areas on the planet and home to the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas. It’s full of lush rainforest and has received even more attention since the documentary  Virunga."

41. Lisbon, Portugal: "Lisbon, the hilly capital of Portugal, is postcard-perfect with its cobbled streets, pristine waters and local Atlantic beaches."

42. Hanoi, Vietnam: "Hanoi—the capital of Vietnam—is known for its rich history, busy street life and centuries of French, Asian and Chinese influences all blended into one bustling city. It’s a wonderful base from which to explore the North of Vietnam, including Halong Bay and Sapa, while also enjoying the comforts of a modern vibrant city."

A view of Honolulu's Magic Island And Waikiki Beach.

43. Hawaii: "From the hustle and bustle of Oahu to the romance of Maui and off-the-beaten-path adventures on Lanai and Molokai. The Hawaiian Islands are pure paradise. Explore colorful canyons and waterfalls and eat your body weight in fresh poke."

44. Ibiza, Spain: "While you’ll have your fair share of techno club experiences, Ibiza is also one of the most beautiful Spanish islands, with a pretty Old Town and scenic beaches. Spend the day on the beach and the nights in legendary clubs."

45. Beijing, China: "Beijing is China’s political, economic, and cultural center, with six Unesco World Heritage Sites in this city alone. Discover Forbidden City, street food dishes of Peking duck and of course, the Great Wall of China."

46. Budapest, Hungary: "The capital city of Hungary, Budapest is a fairytale city in Eastern Europe. The city itself is separated by the 19th-century Chain Bridge that connects the hilly Buda district with flat Pest—hence the name Budapest."

Photographing Vernazza in Cinque Terre.

47. Cinque Terre, Italy: "Is there anything prettier than this area of centuries-old seaside villages on the rugged Italian Riviera coastline? The five towns (Manarola, Riomaggiore, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare) are made  for bucket lists."

48. Buenos Aires, Argentina: "Bookstores set in palatial theatres, tango dancing in the streets and brightly painted neighborhoods. These are just some of what makes Buenos Aires so beautiful."

49. Las Vegas: "With the bright lights, party atmosphere and endless things to see and do, it’s no wonder that Las Vegas has become a glittering global tourism destination. Take a chance in the casinos until the early hours or see world-class entertainment."

50: Matterhorn, Switzerland: "The Matterhorn is one of the world’s most iconic peaks—the pyramid-shaped mountain, which is very difficult to climb, is said to be the most-photographed mountain in the world."

READ MORE: •  "Ranked: The 20 Most Dangerous Places to Live" •  "Bucket List Travel: The Top 50 Places In The World" •  "Why You Should Skip Iceland And Go To These 9 Under-the-Radar Places" •  "23 Surprising Things That Will Get You In Trouble In Italy"

• "Bucket List Travel: Top 10 Places In The World And Top 29 In The U.S."

Laura Begley Bloom

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Our mission is to serve the 50+ traveler who's ready to cross a few items off their bucket list.

19 Unique And Fabulous Experiences In Moscow

50 fun places to visit

  • Destinations

Thinking of visiting Russia? When visiting such a famous city, one must, of course, visit the iconic landmarks first. Moscow has plenty of those, most of them in the center of the city, which is very well-planned for tourists. Once you’ve seen the sights that are on most travelers’ lists, it’s time to branch out and visit some of the lesser-known sites, and there are some fascinating places to see and things to do.

I know this list is long, but I just couldn’t help myself. You probably won’t have the time to see them all. But that’s okay. Just scroll through the list and choose what sounds the most interesting to you. Where possible, make sure to book in advance, as things can get crowded, especially during high season.

Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, Russia

1. The Red Square, Kremlin, And Surroundings

Red Square (Krasnya Ploshad) is the heart and soul of Russia, and where much of the country’s history has unfolded. This is the most famous landmark in Moscow and indeed the whole country, it’s an absolute must-do! The square is always full of people and has a rather festive atmosphere!

Saint Basil’s Cathedral

This is the famous church with the rainbow-colored, onion-domed roof. The cathedral was commissioned in the 1500s by Ivan the Terrible and according to legend, the Tsar thought it was so beautiful, that he ordered that the architect’s eyes be cut out afterward, so he could never build anything more beautiful! He wasn’t called Ivan the Terrible for no reason!

Lenin’s Mausoleum

The “love-it-or-hate-it” of tourist attractions in Russia. A glass sarcophagus containing the embalmed body of Russian revolutionary, Vladimir Lenin. It may seem a bit bizarre to display the mummy of a person, but it has been there for almost half a century and the 2.5 million visitors who come each year, clearly feel the queuing and thorough body search are worth it, to be in Lenin’s presence.

Pro Tip: no photos and no loud talking are allowed inside the Mausoleum.

Eternal Flame

There is an Eternal Flame in honor of an unknown soldier on the left side of Red Square. The hourly changing of the guards is worth seeing.

The Kremlin is the official residence of the Russian president. You can see it from the outside, or you can take an excursion to one of the museums located inside. This is the biggest active fortress in Europe, and holds a week’s worth of attractions! Once behind the 7,332-feet of walls, there are five squares, four cathedrals, 20 towers, various museums, and the world’s largest bell and cannon to see. Worth a special mention is the Armory Chamber that houses a collection of the famous Faberge Eggs.

Pro Tip: You can only go inside the Kremlin if you are part of a tourist group.

Interior of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscos

2. Bolshoi Theatre

Bolshoi Theatre translates to “The Big Theatre” in Russian, and the building is home to both the Bolshoi Ballet and Bolshoi Opera — among the oldest and most famous ballet and opera companies in the world.

Pro Tip: It’s hard to get an inexpensive ticket, so if you’re reading well in advance of going to Moscow then try buying tickets on the official website . Last-minute tickets cost around $250 per person. If this is out of your budget, about an hour before a performance, you can try buying a ticket at the entrance from a reseller. Most can speak enough English to negotiate the price.

Tour the Bolshoi Theatre: You can take a group guided tour of the Bolshoi Theatre which focuses on the history and architecture of the theatre and behind the scenes. There’s an English language tour that lasts 2 hours and costs around $300 for a group of up to six.

GUM, a popular department store in Moscow

3. Luxury Shopping At GUM And TSUM

Russia’s main department store, GUM, has a stunning interior that is home to over 100 high-end boutiques, selling a variety of brands: from luxurious Dior to the more affordable Zara. Even if shopping is not on your Moscow to-do list GUM is still worth a visit; the glass-roofed arcade faces Red Square and offers a variety of classy eateries. TSUM, one of the biggest luxury malls in town, is right behind the Bolshoi and GUM. It’s an imposing building with lots of history, and worth a visit just for its design and its glass roof.

Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow

4. Christ The Savior Cathedral

This is one of Russia’s most visited cathedrals and is a newer addition to the gorgeous array of Muscovite cathedrals, but don’t let its young age fool you. After perestroika, in the early 90s, the revived Russian Orthodox Church was given permission to build a cathedral on this site. It did the location honors and built the largest temple of the Christian Orthodox Church. The façade is as grand as you’d expect, but it’s the inside that will mesmerize you, with its domes, gold, gorgeous paintings, and decor!

The cathedral is located just a few hundred feet away from the Kremlin and was the site of the infamous Pussy Riot protest against Putin back in 2012.

Pro Tip: Bring a shawl to cover your hair as is the local custom.

Gates at Gorky Park in Moscow

5. Gorky Park

Moscow’s premier green space, Gorky Park (Park Gor’kogo) is the city’s biggest and most famous park. There is entertainment on offer here for every taste, from outdoor dancing sessions to yoga classes, volleyball, ping-pong, rollerblading, and bike and boat rental in summer. In winter, half the park turns into a huge ice skating rink. Gorky Park is also home to an open-air movie theater and the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art. There is also Muzeon Art Park, a dynamic contemporary space with a unique collection of 700 sculptures. It is located right in front of Gorky Park.

6. Sparrow Hills Park

If you take a walk from Gorky Park, along the Moscow River embankment, you’ll end up in the city’s other legendary park, Sparrow Hills. Although the park doesn’t offer as many activities as its hip neighbor, it has a great panoramic view of the city

Pro Tip: You can take a free walking tour to all of the above attractions with an English-speaking guide.

River cruise in Moscow

7. River Cruising

One of the best ways to experience Moscow, and see all the famous landmarks, but from a different angle, is from the Moscow River. Take a river cruise. Avoid the tourist crowds. There are little nameless old boats that do the cruise, but if you are looking for a more luxurious experience take the Radisson Blu cruise and enjoy the sights with some good food and a glass of wine.

Moscow Metro station

8. Metro Hopping

Inaugurated in the 1930s, the Moscow Metro system is one of the oldest and most beautiful in the world. Started in Stalinist times, each station is a work of art in its own right. I’d recommend touring the stations between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. This way, you’ll be able to properly see it without the crowds. Ideally, I’d recommend taking a tour with a knowledgeable guide with GuruWalk, who will tell you stories of forgotten stations and how the history of the country is interconnected with the metro development. If going by yourself, then I definitely recommend checking out: Mayakovskaya, Ploschad Revolutsii, Kievskaya, Kropotkinskaya, Kurskaya, and Novoslobodskaya stations.

Visit the free Moscow Metro Museum: For real train enthusiasts, located in the southern vestibule of Sportivnaya station is a small free museum. Here you can take a peek into the driver’s cabin, see a collection of metro tokens from different cities, and see different models of a turnstile, traffic lights, escalator, and more.

Moscow State University at dusk

9. Moscow State University View

In his effort to create a grander Moscow, Stalin had seven skyscrapers built in different parts of town; they’re called the Seven Sisters. The largest of these buildings and the one with the best view is the main building of the Moscow State University. Although this is a little outside the city center, the view is more than worth it.

Izmailovsky Market in Moscow, Russia

10. Izmailovsky Market

Mostly known for the city’s largest flea market, the district of Izmaylovo is home to a maze of shops where you can get just about anything, from artisan crafts to traditional fur hats, handcrafted jewelry, fascinating Soviet memorabilia, and antiquities. It’s also one of Moscow’s largest green spaces. There are often no price tags, so be prepared to haggle a bit. Head to one of the market cafes for a warming mulled wine before continuing your shopping spree.

The History of Vodka Museum is found here, and the museum’s restaurant is the perfect place to sample various brands of the national drink.

Once you’ve covered the more touristy spots, Moscow still has plenty to offer, and the places below will also be full of locals! So for some local vibes, I would strongly recommend the spots below!

The skyscrapers of Moscow City

11. Moscow City

With a completely different vibe, Moscow City (also referred to as Moscow International Business Center) is like a mini Dubai, with lots of impressive tall glass buildings. Here is where you’ll find the best rooftops in towns, like Ruski Restaurant, the highest restaurant both in Moscow City and in Europe. Moscow City is great for crowd-free shopping and the best panoramic views of the city.

Art in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow

12. Tretyakov Gallery

Tretyakov Gallery started as the private collection of the Tretyakov brothers, who were 19th-century philanthropists. They gave their private collection to the government after their deaths. If there is just one museum you visit in Moscow, I recommend this one!

Tsaritsyno Museum Reserve, former residence of Catherine the Great

13. Tsaritsyno Museum-Reserve

Tsaritsyno was a residence of Catherine the Great more than two centuries ago. It became derelict during the Soviet era but has now been fully renovated. With its opulently decorated buildings, gardens, meadows, and forests, Tsaritsyno Park is the perfect place for a green respite in Moscow.

Kolomenskoye Museum-Reserve in Moscow

14. Kolomenskoye

A 10-minute metro ride from the city center is Kolomenskoe Museum-Reserve, where you can get an idea of what Russia looked like 200 years ago. You’ll find ancient churches (one dating back to the 16th century), the oldest garden in Moscow, and the wonderful fairytale wooden palace of Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich, father of Peter the Great.

Ostankino TV Tower in Moscow at night

15. Ostankino TV Tower

Built in 1967, Ostankino TV Tower was the tallest free-standing construction in the world at the time, it’s still the 8th tallest building in the world and the highest in Europe. It’s also the best observation deck, with a glass floor and 360-degree views. The speedy elevators take you 1,105 feet in next to no time.

Pro Tip: You need to book in advance; entrance is based on specific ticket times and the capacity is limited and only a certain number of tourists are allowed per day. Don’t forget your passport, you’ll need it to get through security.

The floating bridge of Zaryadye Park in Moscow

16. Zaryadye Park

Zaryadye is a newly opened, landscaped urban park so new you won’t find it in a lot of tour guides. The park is near Red Square and is divided into four climatic zones: forest, steppe, tundra, and floodplains, depicting the variety of climatic zones in Russia.

These last three suggestions are a little quirky, but all are really worth checking out.

17. Museum Of Soviet Arcade Games

Release your inner child playing on 66 arcade machines from the Soviet era! What a great way to spend a couple of hours when tired of visiting museums and palaces. The staff speaks excellent English and are happy to explain how the games work.

The rooftops of Moscow, Russia

18. Moscow Rooftop Tour

Take a 1-hour private Moscow rooftop tour with an experienced roofer. I can just about guarantee none of your friends will be able to say they’ve done it! For your comfort, I recommend wearing comfortable shoes. Take your camera, there are some amazing photo opportunities out there!

A pool at Sanduny Banya in Moscow

19. Sanduny Banya

This classical Russian bathhouse opened its doors in 1808 and is famous for combining traditional Russian banya services with luxurious interiors and service. If you enjoy spas and saunas, then you should experience a Russian bathhouse at least once in your life! Go with an open mind and hire a specialist to steam you as it’s meant to be done — by being beaten repeatedly with a besom (a leafy branch)! This is said to improve circulation, but is best done by a professional!

So there you have my list of things to do in Moscow. I could have gone on and on and on, but I didn’t want to try your patience! There are so many things to do in this vibrant city that you’ll definitely need to allocate several days for exploring.

Here are some other reasons to visit Moscow and Russia:

  • 7 Reasons To Put Moscow On Your Travel Bucket List
  • Russia 30 Years (And 30 Pounds) Ago
  • Massive Mysterious Craters Appearing Again In Siberia

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Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, before moving to Africa at the age of 21, Sarah Kingdom is a mountain climber and guide, traveler, yoga teacher, trail runner, and mother of two. When she is not climbing or traveling she lives on a cattle ranch in central Zambia. She guides and runs trips regularly in India, Nepal, Tibet, Russia, and Ethiopia, taking climbers up Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro numerous times a year.

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50 Must-See Attractions in Every U.S. State (and Close Seconds)

50 fun places to visit

Nov 29, 2017

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50 fun places to visit

Written by Amanda Norcross

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50 Fun Things To Do & Places To Visit In Virginia

By: Author Jerric Chong

Posted on Published: March 17, 2020  - Last updated: October 15, 2023

50 fun places to visit

Virginia, the Old Dominion, is known for being the state where presidents were born.

If you’re planning to visit the Mother of Presidents as well as one of the most beautiful places in the US , then you’ll likely want to know what the top vacation spots are.

It can be overwhelming without a travel guide to figure out what to see and what to do, so to help you out, here are 50 fun things to do and places to visit in Virginia.

Table of Contents

1. Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach

Main Focus Media / Shutterstock

Is it really a visit to Virginia if you don’t go to Virginia Beach ?

Three different beaches stretch across the span of 14 miles, providing sand, surf, and boardwalk galore.

You can rest in quieter areas or be right in the heat of the crowd.

Even if you’re not much of a fan of sand, the boardwalk offers plenty of space for fun through cycling, skating, and just walking to explore, with lots of shops, statues, and dining establishments to try out.

Of course, though we refer mainly to the beach area, Virginia Beach is about more than just that.

It’s a coastal resort city, after all, with plenty of exciting features, including boat tours, water sports, amusement rides, golfing areas, and nightlife.

So, while heading to the beach itself is among the best things to do in Virginia, don’t forget to check out the rest of the city while you’re here!

Address: Atlantic Avenue, Virginia Beach, VA 23451, United States

2. The Natural Bridge of Virginia

Natural Bridge of Virginia

Zack Frank / Shutterstock

The Natural Bridge of Virginia is a huge limestone arch, carved out over the span of multiple millennia by the flowing of the Cedar Creek.

A true wonder to behold, it’s one of the most stunning tourist attractions in the state, and its natural status adds even more to its value as a wonder of the world, and it’s North America’s largest natural bridge on land at 215 feet in length.

In 1750, George Washington came to the site and surveyed it as a young man and carved his initials into it.

Later, in 1774, Thomas Jefferson would purchase a large amount of land that included the Natural Bridge from King George III.

But before American colonists got their hands on it, the bridge was considered sacred by the Monocans, a tribe living in the area.

Now, though, and since 2016, the Natural Bridge is its own State Park.

On certain evenings, the Natural Bridge of Virginia has a light show put on known as The Drama of Creation.

It first began in 1920 and is America’s longest-running light show.

It’s Biblical in theme and can be a little odd, but if you’re seeking what to see, it’s something to add to your list!

Address: 6477 S Lee Hwy, Natural Bridge, VA 24578, United States

3. Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center

Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center

Sherry V Smith / Shutterstock

The Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center is one of the best ways to travel across the world without even leaving the state!

Over 700 different species of animals live in this vast establishment, with a total of more than 12,000 individual animals of all kinds living across various habitats and 800,000 gallons’ worth of exhibits!

One of the popular exhibits here is the Bay and Ocean Pavilion, which showcases bodies of water of the state and their journeys through it.

Other popular offerings are the Chesapeake Bay Aquarium (which has lots of animals local to that area), the Chesapeake Light Tower Aquarium, the Marsh Pavilion, the Red Sea, the Flores Island (of Indonesia), the Restless Planet, the Peat Swamp (of Malaysia), and more.

Visiting this spot is among the most fun things to do in Virginia, especially if you’re here with family.

An aviary of half an acre sits in the middle of the venue, an outdoor nature trail offers insight into even more animals, there are feedings of the very rare sea turtle to watch, and a small fee will let you swim with seals!

Address:  717 General Booth Blvd, Virginia Beach, VA 23451, United States

4. Luray Caverns

Luray Caverns

jgorzynik / Shutterstock

The Luray Caverns are among the most beautiful places in Virginia.

They were first stumbled upon by four men from Luray in 1878 and are now the biggest cave system of commercial variety in all of America.

The Luray Caverns are a National Natural Landmark, situated 164 feet underground with a huge size and gorgeous features that make it one of the best spots to stop by during your visit to the state.

The Luray Caverns are packed with natural wonders, including flowstones, draperies, stalagmites, stalactites, and mirror pools, and the entire system has a 54-degree Fahrenheit temperature all throughout the year.

But when it comes to what to do in the Luray Caverns, there’s something clear that you shouldn’t miss: the Great Stalacpipe Organ, the biggest musical instrument in the world, a lithophone that is all-natural and made from stone.

It is played by being struck and produces a sound not unlike a xylophone.

If you opt to take a tour through the extensive cave system, you’ll probably be walking for between 45 and 60 minutes over the course of the 1.5-mile journey.

One of the stops along the way is the Great Cavern, which is so huge that it has hosted weddings.

No wonder it’s among the best places to visit in Virginia!

Address:  101 Cave Hill Rd, Luray, VA 22835, United States

5. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Bill Dickinson / flickr

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts , or VFMA, is among the best places to visit in Virginia due to its commonly acknowledged caliber, making it one of the state’s greatest museums.

Before it even opened its doors, since the early 1900s, the state had received multiple art-related gifts, including ones from famous donors like Judge John Barton Payne.

These works would become viewable by the public when the VFMA opened in 1936.

Already quite a large building to begin with, and loved for its housing of famous works by great artists such as Picasso and a wide range of works from all around the world, the museum became even larger in 2010.

An expansion project burst the VFMA forward to 545,000 square feet.

Among the various galleries, you can view collections in varying genres, including American art as well as Art Nouveau and Art Deco from Lewis.

You can also head to the Sculpture Garden of Lora Robins, or perhaps visit the Library of Margaret R. and Robert M. Freeman.

If you need a break, you can eat at one of the VFMA’s two dining establishments or sit in a relaxing area outside.

Address:  200 N Arthur Ashe Blvd, Richmond, VA 23220, United States

6. Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery

Cvandyke / Shutterstock

It’s odd to consider a home of the dead as one of the most popular Virginia attractions, but the Arlington National Cemetery fits the bill perfectly.

It was first built on Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s wife’s estate – that is, the estate of Mary Anna Curtis Lee, the great-granddaughter of Martha Washington.

Arlington National Cemetery covers 624 acres of ground and has been the final resting place of many who lost their lives in national (and international) conflicts since the year 1864.

It’s a military cemetery where veterans, military staff, war heroes, and more have been laid to rest since the Civil War. Among them are George C. Marshall, President John F. Kennedy, and Admiral Grace Hopper.

There are a number of interesting spots to visit in the Virginia cemetery.

One of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers, which is the final resting place for soldiers whose identities are unknown that lost their lives during the Korean, Vietnam, and world wars.

It is guarded non-stop, 24/7.

Other places to stop by in this cemetery are:

  • The graves of Robert E. Lee’s Garden, which were laid there to prevent Lee from reclaiming that part of the land.
  • The Headstone-Eating Trees that are slowly but surely wrapping up and devouring certain headstones with their roots.
  • The James Parks Grave, belonging to the slave who dug the first graves on the property.

Address: Entrance at Arlington Memorial Bridge, Arlington, VA 22211, United States

7. Frontier Culture Museum

Frontier Culture Museum

Jon Marc Lyttle / Shutterstock

If you’re looking for a cool spot to head to in Virginia that is both interesting and historically rich, the Frontier Culture Museum is a good option for where to go.

It is essentially an outdoor adventure that allows visitors to explore the early life of various continents and regions as they walk around.

Exhibits give you a glimpse into the culture of American frontier through the contributions of the indigenous peoples, as well as African and European contributions, including those from Germany and England.

Essentially, the museum is a living one that tells a tale, weaving a story of those who arrived in America, their lives, and what happened next.

Staff, decked out in period attire, add to the scene.

Address:  1290 Richmond Ave, Staunton, VA 24401, United States

8. Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway

Anton Ermachkov / Shutterstock

The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most famous Virginia attractions, especially for sightseeing.

It is America’s longest linear park and spans 469 miles of road, meant to join the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Shenandoah National Park.

As part of the Appalachian Mountain chain, the Blue Ridge Parkway boasts Appalachian beauty worth seeing while you’re in Virginia.

With forested lands covered in relaxing trees, the route is filled with gorgeous panoramas and flora.

There’s something for everyone here, no matter what your idea of fun is.

If you go through the trail at Humpback Ridge, you’ll come across genuine, old farm buildings of the Appalachian age.

If you want to hike, trails leading up the Roanoke and Onion mountains are a sight for sore eyes.

If you’d rather get breathtaking views, you can climb Raven’s Roost.

If you’re into recreation, head to Sherando Lake to camp, swim, picnic, and relax.

9. Yorktown


William Silver / Shutterstock

Yorktown is one of three historical cities that make up the historical triangle of Virginia, making it one of the top 10 places you should visit while in the city, even if it’s just for the sights.

There are plenty of fun things to do here, whether you’re cycling through the TransAmerica Trail, walking and dining on the Riverwalk, visiting museums, checking out old houses like the Moore House and Nelson House, or learning more of the state’s history.

Much of the town’s architecture dates back to the 18th century, and it is here that an English army led by Lord Cornwallis surrendered to French and American troops, bringing the country a step closer to dreams of independence.

10. Historic Jamestowne

Historic Jamestowne

Yorktown was one of three cities in the historic triangle of Virginia.

Historic Jamestowne is another one.

The Jamestown Settlement was built 350 years after Jamestown itself was founded, meaning it opened in 1957.

It now is host to a large array of galleries and museums that showcase the history of the English colonization over the New World in some of the best ways.

Particularly famous places and spots of interest in Historic Jamestowne are the statue of Pocahontas, built in 1922 by William O Partridge, a triangular fort’s reconstruction that looks like it did when it was built by colonists, and sites that showcase cultural heritage.

More than 4,000 artifacts live in an archaearium museum, most of which were unearthed from James Fort over the course of 2 decades, some of which had been in the ground, buried, for more than 4 centuries.

You’ll feel like you’re back in the 17th century!

Address:  1368 Colonial Pkwy, Jamestown, VA 23081, United States

11. South Boundary Stone

South Boundary Stone

stockphotofan1 / Shutterstock

Did you know that the first federal monument in all of America is in Virginia?

It’s called the South Boundary Stone and was laid by Benjamin Banneker in 1791 as part of a project to survey and plan for the creation of Washington, DC .

This particular stone was meant to outline the District of Columbia, which had been newly created at the time.

The South Boundary Stone now sits at a sea wall that separates the Potomac River and Jones Point Park.

It doesn’t take much to find it – the trail from Jones Point Lighthouses is marked out and leads towards it, where it rests between the Potomac River fence and the steps of the lighthouse, protected under a covering of glass and bronze.

It’s a cool part of history that’s well worth the visit on its own, but there are other boundary stones to be found in the area, including a USGS marker.

40 boundary stones were used in Washington, DC’s plotting, and while most have been lost to time, those that remain are fascinating to see.

So why not head down this weekend?

Address: Jones Point Park, Alexandria, VA 22314, United States

12. Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens

James Kirkikis / Shutterstock

Busch Gardens is among the most famous places in Virginia, with an interesting southern Germany theme.

The European style can make you feel like you’re somewhere far away and not in the United States at all!

The spot is essentially a theme park, suited for all ages, ranging from activities for kids to roller coasters with 74-foot drops and multiple hills for adults.

Rides are themed on European cliches and famous locations, such as the Loch Ness Monster and the Alps.

Live entertainment, Bavarian bands, and dancers dressed in dirndl all make up the best features of Busch Gardens.

At the end of summer, Bier Fest is held here, where there are more than 200 kinds of craft beer to try.

In Halloween, events are held for kids and the gardens become decked out in spooky decor.

Address:  1 Busch Gardens Blvd, Williamsburg, VA 23185, United States

Planning to visit Williamsburg? Be sure to check out our list of things to do in Williamsburg, VA !

13. Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello

Thomas Jefferson's Monticello

N8Allen / Shutterstock

Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello is located in Charlottesville and offers a unique glimpse into the life of the US’ 3rd President, his Palladian-style grand mansion home that he himself designed, and his large, stunning plantation.

The Monticello is one of the most visited homes in America, not just in Virginia, and it’s for good reason.

Inspired by a villa in Italy, the home is full of eye-catching architecture, inventions made by Jefferson himself, a discovery room, a media center that plays interactive videos, exhibitions, and of course, the historic and much-loved gardens, also designed by the late former President himself.

At the visitor’s center, you can learn more information about Monticello and its current exhibits.

You can take a tour to learn even more, including about aspects of the grounds, the gardens, or the slavery that took place here.

Stop by the museum shop to buy souvenirs, if you like!

As a National Historic Landmark, visiting Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello is one of the best things to do in Virginia.

Address:  931 Thomas Jefferson Pkwy, Charlottesville, VA 22902, United States

14. Military Aviation Museum

Military Aviation Museum

JJM Photography / Shutterstock

There are plenty of aviation-focused museums in America – and even in Virginia! – and the Military Aviation Museum is one of those tourist places.

It focuses on displaying aircraft used by the military during World Wars I and II, and it has one of the world’s largest private historical aircraft collections.

The plans come from all over the world, including from Russia, Japan, Germany, and the UK.

Restorations and care have allowed the planes to be restored using either their genuine parts or impressive replicas, creating a hangar full of stunning displays that look as though they could take off flying at any moment – and some can!

During air shows in fall and spring, some plans are flown and showed off in an incredible spectacle, alongside other activities!

This Virginia museum’s collection is regularly growing, too, so you can visit again every year and find something new.

Address:  1341 Princess Anne Rd, Virginia Beach, VA 23457, United States

15. Norfolk Botanical Garden

Norfolk Botanical Garden

m01229 / flickr

The Norfolk Botanical Garden is one of the very best of Virginia attractions that you can find.

It is open throughout the year and showcases tons of different themes gardens, with varying locations that will appeal to all ages.

No matter who you visit Virginia with, you’ll find something to do.

An indoor exhibit, hosted in the Barker Hall Visitor Center, features art, painting, and photography exhibits that rotate throughout the year.

Outside, the gardens can be walked through, or you can join bike rides in the evenings, and there are lots of benches to sit down at.

If you don’t want to walk, you can take a tram, too, or perhaps ride the boat out onto Lake Whitehurst.

Different gardens include the rose garden, a desert garden, the butterfly area, the Annette Kagan Healing Garden, the children’s garden, and the Japanese garden, all stretched out along 12 miles of walking space.

There is also a picnic area and vending machines for snacks.

Address:  6700 Azalea Garden Rd, Norfolk, VA 23518, United States

16. Edith J. Carrier Arboretum

Edith J. Carrier Arboretum

Stephen Little / flickr

The Edith J. Carrier Arboretum is among the top things to do in Virginia.

It is located in Shenandoah Valley, Harrisonburg, on the campus of James Madison University, and is one of the few dog-friendly locations in Virginia that you can visit.

It is both a botanical garden and an arboretum.

Taking up 125 acres of land, the Edith J. Carrier Arboretums lined with a forest of Oak-Hickory, flowers, plants, and more.

Throughout the area, you can walk on paved paths, take in the cool, rustic atmosphere, admire statues, sit on well-crafted seats, and feed the ducks.

Fern Valley displays some relaxing New York fern, and the April Walk Daffodil Garden is perfect for those who can’t get enough of those fun plants.

There is also a planting area for experimentation that houses hybrid azaleas, an herb garden, and even a wetlands garden.

Address:  780 University Blvd, Harrisonburg, VA 22807, United States

17. Manassas National Battlefield Park

Manassas National Battlefield Park

Manassas National Battlefield Park was the site of two different American Civil War battles, so history buffs should add it to their list of things to see while in Virginia.

These battles are called the First and Second Battles of Bull Run but are also referred to aptly as the First and Second Battles of Manassas.

They took place on the 21st of July in 1861 and from the 28th to the 30th of August in 1862, respectively.

It is in this very field that the famous General Thomas J. Jackson earned his well-deserved nickname of “Stonewall”.

The site is impeccably preserved, and its historical significance documented well for visitors.

All information is easy to understand, and tours are fun and led by rangers to take you over the scene of Bull Run.

You’ll also get to watch an informative video on the subject.

Other than that, at this Virginia site, you can visit the hiking trails, check out the museum to view artifacts left behind from the battles, buy souvenirs at the gift shop, or even just go birdwatching, since over 160 species of birds flock to Manassas National Battlefield Park.

There is also the Stone Bridge, which still stands today, and was used when the Union Army retreated in both of their fights.

Address: 6511 Sudley Rd, Manassas, VA 20109, United States

18. The Mariner’s Museum and Park

The Mariners' Museum and Park

The Mariners’ Museum and Park

The Mariner’s Museum and Park is an impressive maritime museum that has a bit of everything.

From a stunning park for sightseeing to the largest library of a nautical theme in the western hemisphere, there’s something for everyone, and that makes visiting here one of the best and most fun things to do in Virginia.

The Mariner’s Museum and Park first opened its doors in the 1930s, when it was established by Homer L. Ferguson and Archer Milton Huntington.

It has artifacts that will take you on a trip from the European age of exploration all the way up to the work of the US Navy.

Over 32,000 objects, 210 of artifacts, and 1.75 million documents and materials live in this museum.

Some of the more famous spots in this Virginia museum are the USS Monitor Center, which showcases the world’s biggest conservation facility of marine archaeological metals in the Batten Conservation Complex.

There’s also the Explorers Theater, which features opportunities to watch 3D movies in HD that feature the ocean and the underwater world.

You can also stop by the International Small Craft Center to view watercraft collections.

Address:  100 Museum Dr, Newport News, VA 23606, United States

19. Assateague Island

Assateague Island

Assateague Island is only 37 miles long, so it’s perfect for a short trip, perhaps over this weekend!

It’s owned by three different conservation agencies, two different states, and, most strangely, two herds of feral ponies that are rounded up yearly to swim up to Virginia.

The island sits on the eastern coast of the peninsula of Delmarva and is considered a National Natural Landmark.

It’s not a place that humans live, but the feral ponies have thrived on Assateague Island for centuries.

They’re very self-sufficient, drinking from freshwater ponds and living off the grass.

Some believe they are not actually ponies originally, but horses who became shorter to adapt to the environment over the many, many years.

No one really knows where the ponies came from.

Some believe they are descended from escaped equines from a shipwreck, and there is the historically accurate tale of La Galga, a Spanish galleon that was wrecked nearby in 1750.

However, no one has been able to find the galleon yet – though some have reason to believe that the wreck is not buried in the sand of Assateague Island.

There aren’t many activities to do here, but it’s still fun to visit!

20. George Washington Birthplace National Monument

George Washington Birthplace National Monument

The George Washington Birthplace National Monument isn’t the former president’s home, as that was destroyed in 1779 in a fire.

But this spot in Virginia where the first American president was born back in 1732 has since been sufficiently recreated to mimic the style of his upper-class home, stuffed with interesting period furnishings.

Within the grounds, you can visit the Memorial House and the Kitchen House, both of which are staffed by reenactors dressed in period outfits to give you a taste of old Virginia.

Walk around to the Colonial Herb and Flower Garden to learn about plants from the era, or head to the Colonial Living Farm to check out traditional farming methods and meet a pair of Red Devon oxen directly descended from those owned by Washington himself.

Another one of the things to see in the George Washington Birthplace National Monument is the Visitor’s Center, which hosts artifacts from the original home and a 15-minute film that discusses the Washington family.

There’s also the cemetery outside, home to 32 graves of Washington’s family.

Address: 1732 Popes Creek Rd, Colonial Beach, VA 22443, United States

21. Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park

Vladimir Grablev / Shutterstock

Shenandoah National Park covers much of the famous mountains of Virginia, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and Piedmont, all in one.

The park itself was originally created in the 1920s.

The Shenandoah River winds through the park, its valleys and water rushing by as the Skyline Drive, spanning 105 miles, does the same throughout the park’s length with 75 lookout posts to stop at for the best views of one of the most loved natural Virginia attractions.

With 500 miles of hiking trails, 101 of which are a part of the Appalachian Trail, there is lots to enjoy in Shenandoah National Park.

Along the way, you’ll see waterfalls, spots of beauty, wildlife such as cougars, coyotes, black bears, beavers, and deer, and more than 200 bird species, including Carolina chickadees and tufted titmice.

Restaurants, camping spots, and lodges are scattered across the park for you to stop at.

Address: 17157 Skyline Dr, Front Royal, VA 22630, United States

22. Great Falls Park

Great Falls Park

Scott Alan Ritchie / Shutterstock

Great Falls Park is a National Park Service site, making it one of the smaller tourist attractions with this status in Virginia.

It sits on 800 acres of land and can be found in the north of Fairfax County, just along the Potomac River’s banks, close to some remains of America’s early canals, the Patowmack Canal.

Though it isn’t connected to the George Washington Memorial Parkway, it is considered a part of it.

Address:  9200 Old Dominion Dr, McLean, VA 22102, United States

23. National Firearms Museum

National Firearms Museum

The National Firearms Museum is situated in Fairfax, Virginia and is one of the most fascinating historical points of interest you can find in the state.

It has a collection of guns dating back up to 700 years, mapping out a timeline of the use of guns in America and the nation’s wild love and borderline obsession with the mechanical armament.

The National Firearms Museum is operated and owned by the National Rifle Association and seeks to showcase the importance of firearms in the country, as well as the innovation used in their technology.

The Virginia museum features 15 galleries, all divided into different eras, typically with titles that indicate the attitude and usage of the weapons displayed.

For example, the An Age of Elegance gallery focuses on Spanish-American War guns and firearms of Theodore Roosevelt.

The Ever Vigilant gallery showcases World War II weapons as well as modern ones.

The Ancient Firearms gallery has some firearms dating back to 1350.

The Hollywood Guns gallery has famous weapons like the .44 Magnum of Dirty Harry, the space revolver of Mal Reynolds, and the shot barrel shotgun of the Joker.

Address:  11250 Waples Mill Rd, Fairfax, VA 22030, United States

24. George Washington Masonic National Memorial

George Washington Masonic National Memorial

Rob Crandall / Shutterstock

The George Washington Masonic National Memorial is located in Alexandria, Virginia.

It was built by Freemasons to honor the late first president of the United States.

It sits on a hill, looking over Old Town Alexandria, celebrating George Washington’s life and Freemasonry in America while also being a stately building perfect for use as an event space and lodge.

If you’re looking for where to visit that has such a rich history, this is the place to be.

The building is tall with a 333-foot height, built to look just like the Lighthouse of Alexandria of old.

Nine stories are dedicated to a wide range of relevant topics.

Though plans for the project can be traced in 1852, it wasn’t until 1909 that the project began gathering funding, and it wasn’t until 1922 that construction actually began.

The memorial was completed and dedicated in 1932 and so many people attended that the House of Representatives closed for the day.

The architecture of the George Washington Masonic National Memorial is made with pure granite.

The interior halls would actually not be totally completed until the year 1972.

The first and second floors are open for public viewing, containing meeting rooms and halls.

You can, however, follow hourly tours explore the other floors and have fun.

This includes the fourth floor with the George Washington Museum, the Ark of the Covenant replica on the fifth floor, the Memorial Library on the sixth floor, the Temple of Solomon on the seventh floor, and a recreation of the throne room of King Solomon on the ninth floor.

Address:  101 Callahan Dr, Alexandria, VA 22301, United States

25. Edgar Allan Poe Museum

Edgar Allan Poe Museum

Baltimore Heritage / flickr

If you love Edgar Allan Poe and his works, then it goes without saying that the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Virginia is an absolute must-see. Literature lovers will appreciate the celebration of the grim, gothic author, his works, and his life.

His penchant for gambling and drinking means that this is one of the only establishments that honors him, as his reputation prevented the city of Richmond from honoring him wholeheartedly.

Letters, artifacts, trinkets, and manuscripts related to Poe color this museum, but it’s not just the literary that fills its walls – there is also a lock of Poe’s hair, his walking stick, and even his socks!

A scale model of Richmond, as it would have been in Poe’s time, is also set up at the museum, which has the world’s largest collection of items related to the author.

Apart from all the intricacies that make this one of the most fun things to do in Virginia, cat lovers will be delighted by Edgar and Pluto, two resident black cats on the property!

Address:  1914 E Main St, Richmond, VA 23223, United States

If you’re visiting Richmond, check out some incredible things to do in Richmond, VA !

26. Kiptopeke’s Concrete Fleet

Kiptopeke's Concrete Fleet

Virginia State Parks / flickr

Kiptopeke’s Concrete Fleet is a rather special and one-of-a-kind, fun spot among the tourist attractions of Virginia.

America has made very little concrete ships in its time, and nine of them make up this collection, slowly decaying in a poetic, whimsical, and somewhat eerie manner off a nondescript fishing pier.

At Kiptopeke State Park , the Concrete Fleet – also referred to as the Kiptopeke Breakwater – consists of 9 concrete ships that were made on contract during World War II for the US Maritime Commission.

24 of them were made, and they were brought here to protect the terminal from harsh weather at Kiptopeke Beach in 1948.

Eventually, the terminal and its ferry shut down in 1964, as the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel near to the area.

Still, the breakwater is crucial to marine life, providing a home for shellfish, coastal fish, and birds while protecting the pier.

Each ship is named after pioneers who worked in the development of concrete.

Address: Kiptopeke State Park, Cape Charles, VA 23310, United States

27. Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon

Orhan Cam / Shutterstock

Mount Vernon is one of the must-see spots in Virginia, especially if you seek historical points of interest.

It is a place that George Washington himself called his home for a whopping 45 years while he led a revolution army and supervised the construction of the home.

He oversaw and influenced all its aspects, from interior design to the grounds.

The iconic and much-loved landmark is one of the best ways to get a peek into the life and times of the Washington family.

Inside, you’ll find heirlooms, crests, portraits, furniture, and more, all reconstructed to mimic what they were like in 18th century Virginia.

The surrounding gardens are lush, well-cared-for, and reminiscent of their plantation days.

Don’t forget to check out the immersive programs and exhibits in the first US president’s name!

Address: 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Mount Vernon, VA 22121, United States

28. Chrysler Museum of Art

Chrysler Museum of Art

The Chrysler Museum of Art first opened its doors as the Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences in 1933.

Years later, in 1971, Walter P. Chrysler Jr. and his wife would make the huge donation of their private art collection to the museum in 1971.

The museum was promptly rebranded and is now one of the most influential and important art museums in the southeast of the nation.

Today, this museum in Virginia hosts more than 30,000 different objects from different points of history, some dating back 5,000 years.

American and European works, sculptures, and more make this one of the most interesting vacation spots for art-lovers.

Significant works include those by Salvator Rosa, Henri Matisse, and even Andy Warhol.

The Chrysler Museum of Art also offers events in this Glass Studio.

Daily demos for free, workshops, and classes are all held here, and there is an event that happens every third monthly Thursday that provides live performance art.

Address:  1 Memorial Pl, Norfolk, VA 23510, United States

29. U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial

U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial

Jakapong Paoprapat / Shutterstock

The U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial often referred to as the Iwo Jima Memorial is a national monument recognized as one of the most iconic points of interest not just in Virginia, but all over the world.

The memorial is dedicated to Marine Corps since 1775 who have passed away in service to the US.

It was designed by an architect named Horace W. Peaslee and a sculptor named Felix de Weldom, inspired by a picture from combat photographer’s Joe Rosenthal that showed six Marines on Mount Suribachi waving a flag during the Iwo Jima battle.

Visit this Virginia site to pay respects to those passed, or simply to bask in its historical relevance.

Address: Arlington Blvd. and Meade St, Arlington, VA 22211, United States

30. National Museum of the Marine Corps

National Museum of the Marine Corps

Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock

Similar to the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, the National Museum of the Marine Corps also honors the Marine Corps, and it’s one of the most popular places to see in Virginia and has been since its 2006 launching.

More than 500,000 visitors come by here annually, making it among Virginia’s most loved places for tourists.

Visiting and rotating exhibits make the rounds of the National Museum of the Marine Corps, but some exhibits are fixed, including the Making Marines, Legacy Walk, Defending A New Nation, World War I, World War II, Vietnam War, and Korean War exhibits.

As part of the 135-acre Marine Corps Heritage Center, it does its part in telling the long-known tale of the marine corps, their bravery, and their contributions.

Address:  18900 Jefferson Davis Hwy, Triangle, VA 22172, United States

31. Maymont Park

Maymont Park

Maymont Park was once a private estate, and it is now a public park spanning 100 acres that is the most visited among Virginia attractions in Richmond.

It is a Victorian estate that formerly belonged to Major James H. Dooley and his wife Sallie Dooley.

They donated it and its grounds to the public, and the rest is history.

On the grounds of the Virginia home, you’ll find a lot of things to do, ranging from the fun to the relaxing.

Japanese gardens and Italian gardens wind through the grounds.

There is a nature center, an arboretum, a museum housed in the building of the Maymont Mansion, and even a little zoo!

Some of the other best parts of Maymont Park are the carriage collection, the children’s farm, the wildlife exhibits, and the impeccable antiques all over the property.

Address:  1700 Hampton St, Richmond, VA 23220, United States

32. American Shakespeare Center

American Shakespeare Center

Living-Learning Programs / flickr

Looking for cool things to do while you’re in Virginia?

The American Shakespeare Center would be among the top spots that fit that description for literature lovers.

It is one of the world’s most respected theater companies and is a surefire must-see – but it didn’t start out that way!

Years and years ago, the center was merely a troupe from Shenandoah Valley, touring as they could.

Over time, they grew in fame, and now they live in the Blackfriars Playhouse, a theater with seats for 300 and countless Shakespeare productions (and other plays) performed all year round.

The playhouse building is designed to be a perfect replica of the Blackfriars Monastery in London, which is a theater built with the aid of Shakespeare himself.

Everything is historically accurate and well-done!

Address:  10 S Market St, Staunton, VA 24401, United States

33. Dinosaur Kingdom II

Dinosaur Kingdom II

Amy Meredith / flickr

Dinosaur Kingdom II is one of Virginia’s most unique places to visit – and probably the most fun!

It is a history park that reimagines history through a simple lens: what if the Union Army lost the War but to dinosaurs?

Yes, it’s as hilarious as it sounds!

In the woods, this science fiction park sets the stage for an alternate reality version of the Civil War.

The story is simple: in 1864, a group of paleontologists from the South was at the Lost Caverns, excavating fossils, when they chanced upon a shocking discovery – a valley, hidden, full of dinosaurs!

The Garrison Family studied the dinosaurs peacefully, but the Union Army wanted to turn them into weapons, and that’s where everything went wrong!

This silly, whimsical park brings you through a path that shows the Union Army’s demise to the huge dinosaurs, all in sometimes gruesome detail, set to thematic music.

It’s a great joy of a park to explore!

Address:  5781 S Lee Hwy, Natural Bridge, VA 24578, United States

34. Byrd Theatre

The Byrd Theatre

The Byrd Theatre & Foundation

The Byrd Theatre in Richmond, Virginia has been operating since 1928, with ticket prices of a mere 25 cents.

The top theater was opened at a time when film executives were still unsure of talking films, therefore fitting the Byrd with both a Mighty Wurlitzer organ for silent films and a sound synchronization system for talking ones.

On Saturdays, the organist of the theater plays the organ, too!

Much of the appearance of the building looks “dated” – in other words, it hasn’t changed much over the years, making it one of the historical places of interest in the state.

Still, modern improvements have, of course, been added over the years; the rustic vibe doesn’t prevent technological advancements!

For the most part, the Byrd shows second-run films, with occasional special throwbacks to old classics.

It’s just a fun place to head to if you want to watch a movie the way the generations before did, complete with that authentic, vintage vibe.

Address:  2908 W Cary St, Richmond, VA 23221, United States

35. Virginia’s Natural Tunnel

Natural Tunnel State Park

K e v i n / flickr

Virginia’s Natural Tunne l is located in the Appalachian Mountains, and many consider it one of the most beautiful places in Virginia.

It’s not an unearned title – the natural tunnel is 300 yards in length and a stream gently flows through it, running near railroad tracks that have seen more than a century of use.

The aforementioned railroad tracks are still being used to this day.

Trains cross the area quite often, and usually, you can only get close to the platform by riding the train and zooming by it.

But there’s one day a year where that changes.

It’s called Railroad Day.

This is when the train shuts down and visitors are allowed to trek through the cave, allowing them to walk right on the tracks.

The trail leading to the tunnel can be a little difficult to deal with, even though it’s a good, short one that only takes about 20 minutes to climb down on and 30 minutes to climb up on.

If you need accessibility, there’s a ski lift that can bring you up and down.

Address:  1420 Natural Tunnel Pkwy, Duffield, VA 24244, United States

36. Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg

Eric Foster Productions / Shutterstock

Colonial Williamsburg is the final piece of the historic triangle puzzle.

As far as Virginia destinations go, it’s among the greatest places to go to get a taste of the history of Virginia and the rest of the country.

The area spans 301 acres and is a direct representation of the 18th century capital of Britain, complete with restored buildings and items on display.

Most people go here to enter the Governor’s Palace, which is a large building that was home to two post-colonial governors and state Royal governors.

A tour of the “palace” shows off the sheer opulence and grandeur that came with pre-Revolution mansions.

The house is still decked out in elegant, old-fashioned furniture, and there are displays of weapons, a maze, and even tiered gardens to explore.

Plus, the Grand Ballroom still survives and is great for curious architects to check out!

Address:  101 Visitor Center Dr, Williamsburg, VA 23185, United States

37. Lee Chapel

Lee Chapel

Katherine Welles / Shutterstock

Lee Chapel is a rather controversial location.

Known as the shrine of the South, many would consider it among the top or at least the most interesting places to see while you’re visiting Virginia.

It is here that infamous Confederate General Robert E. Lee is buried.

Lee made a lot of tough decisions over the span of his life.

Perhaps it is this lack of fun that led to his exhausted death in October 1870.

When he passed away, his wife chose his final resting spot (which is the same as it is now!), and he was buried in the chapel basement within a wall of brick.

Address:  100 N Jefferson St, Lexington, VA 24450, United States

38. Abandoned Virginia Renaissance Faire

Abandoned Virginia Renaissance Faire

Jack Parrott / flickr

Fun things to do in VA often include exploring abandoned spaces, right?

Medieval nerds would be familiar with renaissance faires all across the country, and Virginia is no exception to the rule.

But just what happened to the ren-faire activities of the original Virginia Renaissance Faire ?

The travel time, climate, and swampy land, as it turned out, was not kind to this particular Faire.

Its owners had shut it down after two seasons of repeat losses and left the replicas to rot where they stand while the moved the rest of the props elsewhere.

These days, the Faire is carried out in a different location under the same name – but it’s worth paying the original location a visit, just to have a peek.

Be aware that it’s all built on private property, however, so it’s really something to be admired from a distance.

Address:  5621 Courthouse Rd, Spotsylvania Courthouse, VA 22551, United States

39. Hollywood Cemetery

Hollywood Cemetery

Atomazul / Shutterstock

What travel guide to Virginia would be complete without acknowledging its historical sites?

Designed in 1847 and opened two years later, Hollywood Cemetery would soon see plenty of residents welcome the arrival of the Civil War 12 years later.

A gorgeous location that captures rolling hills and the view of downtown Richmond area and the James River, this cemetery serves as the final resting place for 18,000 Confederate soldiers, two U.S. presidents, and several other generals.

Visitors can enjoy the garden-style 135 acres while taking a moment to appreciate the history that lays under their feet.

A 90-foot pyramid serves as a memorial for the lives that have been lost.

From here, brave, intrepid visitors can visit try to visit the mausoleum of W.W. Pool, which supposedly contains a vampire.

The nearby Church Hill Tunnel is a location that has its own dark history as well.

Address:  412 S Cherry St, Richmond, VA 23220, United States

40. Wolf Trap National Park

Wolf Trap National Park

Ron Cogswell / flickr

Not everyone enjoys being among trees for too long, especially young children – so this may be one of the best places to go for families with children.

Located in Vienna, Virginia, this is a national park with a difference – unlike most other parks, this one is completely dedicated to the performing arts.

Worried about the weather getting in the way?

Don’t worry, Wolf Trap National Park is one of the places to head to for both indoor and outdoor shows all year round.

Thanks to all the concession stands and restrooms, this is a place where you can easily spend a whole day in.

You can even book a supper in advance, should you want to watch any nighttime shows.

There are trolleys available for the disabled and elderly as well.

Either way, visitors will have plenty of fun here.

However, do bear in mind that the park gets very busy during the summer, so you’ll want to have things booked in advance before you go.

Address:  1551 Trap Rd, Vienna, VA 22182, United States

41. Nauticus


Wangkun Jia / Shutterstock

For those with love for all things nautical, this is a fun location that ought to top their list of Virginia destinations – a marine-themed science center-slash-museum located in Norfolk .

Also known as the National Maritime Centre, the Nauticus was established in 1994 and was dedicated to the commercial and military naval history in Virginia.

Drop down to see exhibits about ships that have sailed the seas here, and learn about the historical events that had unfolded in these harbors.

If you’re worried about being bored by just nothing but collections and exhibits, there are all sorts of events that are hosted here, many of them enticing and exciting.

Do check them out in advance, since some of them require that you book your place first.

All in all, this is a great place to visit if you want to spend an afternoon.

Address:  1 Waterside Dr, Norfolk, VA 23510, United States

42. President Heads

President Heads

Mobilus In Mobili / flickr

Need a fun thing to do this weekend?

Perhaps this funky little setup might catch your fancy.

Up till 2010, one could travel to Presidents Park in Williamsburg, Virginia, to visit 43 giant busts of U.S. presidents, all sculpted by David Adickes.

Unfortunately, they couldn’t stay there.

Despite being a top attraction, the Park soon closed down in 2010, and the busts had to move elsewhere.

Unwilling to destroy or be parted with them, the Houston-based artist moved them all to his own family farm.

The 20-foot-tall, 22,000-pound busts are scuffed and suffered some minor damage on the way to their new home, but are thankfully largely safe and sound.

Visitors can still visit the busts if they so choose, though access is limited since it is in a private property.

If you’re interested in finding these busts a permanent home, there’s a crowdfunding campaign that you can contribute to!

Address: Hankins Farm, Williamsburg, VA 23188, United States

43. Church Hill Tunnel

Church Hill Tunnel

Ronnie Pitman / flickr

If you’re a horror buff still asking about what to do in Virginia, then look no further than this historical location.

Located in Richmond, Virginia, Church Hill seems to be a quaint hillside – but it hides a relatively dark secret.

There was a train tunnel that once cut through the hill, but its construction and short life was plagued with deaths of all kind.

It all came to a head in 1925, where 190 feet of the tunnel collapsed, trapping a locomotive, its cargo, and the men repairing the tunnel deep under the earth.

After the rescuers failed to find all the bodies, railroad officials decided it was too costly and sealed the tunnel for good.

These days, it’s just a well-equipped park with a gorgeous view.

If you head over to Jefferson Park, you can find a memorial that marks the tunnel and the history that had unfolded there.

Address: 401 N 18th St, Richmond, Virginia, United States

44. Virginia Living Museum

Virginia Living Museum

C Watts / flickr

Established in 1966, the Virginia Living Museum originally started out as a planetarium and nature museum before swapping focus several times over the next few decades.

These days, it is one of the greatest tourist attractions in the state for living exhibits.

Spread across 5,500 square feet, the museum has an incredible exhibition full of indigenous species in their natural habitats, all arranged along a ¾ mile boardwalk.

There are also other exhibits and collections centered largely on the various environments the state has to offer.

And if you’re a kid who wants to have fun, there’s even a Touch Tank where you can touch rays and other sea creatures!

With just how much there is to see and do here, it’s a good idea to plan at least a full day expedition to this incredible museum – ideally two, so you and your family won’t feel rushed.

Address:  524 J Clyde Morris Blvd, Newport News, VA 23601, United States

45. Foamhenge


Ben Schumin / flickr

Planning your trip but can’t go all the way to the UK to visit the actual Stonehenge?

Think that the actual historical place is located is too far away, too expensive, and too cold?

Why not check out this full-sized Styrofoam replica right here in Centerville, Virginia?

This highly photogenic replica is a tourist destination that should be on your list of fun things to do in Virginia.

It’s creator, Mark Cline of Enchanted Castle Studio originally came up with the concept when he visited a company called Insulated Business Systems.

There, he found 16-foot-tall blocks and was immediately arrested by the idea.

These days, Foamhenge is located at Cox Farms in Centreville.

Because it is located on private property, access to it will be limited – so please make sure to check the opening times in advance.

You can access it via a shuttle from Corner Market during the specified hours.

Address:  4942 Lee Hwy, Natural Bridge, VA 24578, United States

46. Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens

Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens

Gr8t Shots / Shutterstock

You’ll find Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens sitting on the top of tourist places to visit in Virginia – and for a good reason.

Covering an incredible 50 acres, this garden sits on land that was once part of the Powhatan Indian hunting grounds.

So if you want to do some exploration on historic grounds, this should be your go-to!

Feel free to explore the grounds here, and check out the historical domed conservatory – a beautiful one-of-its-kind building in the entirety of the mid-Atlantic.

The gorgeous gardens themselves are all themed, with some of the more famous examples being Asian Valley, Children’s Garden, Rose Garden, and Cherry Tree Walk.

You might think that a garden is otherwise pretty boring, but the grounds are actually buzzing with all sorts of activities as well.

Drop on by to check out their events such as outdoor yoga, gardening classes, and even some unusual ones like PokéMondays!

Address:  1800 Lakeside Ave, Richmond, VA 23228, United States

47. Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge

Jay Yuan / Shutterstock

Nature nuts take note – Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is an amazing location for those who wish to see the Chincoteague ponies.

An endangered species unique to this barrier island, the feral ponies are largely stunted in size, thanks to their poor diet.

The Virginia half of Assateague Island has a lot more to offer than just endangered horses, however.

You can check out the shipwrecks scattered across the island’s shores via snorkeling, or go horseback riding if you rather not drive through in over-sand vehicles.

If you have a valid fishing license, then why not go fishing, clamming, and crabbing too?

Visitors dropping by this island to go site seeing will also find plenty of wildlife to spot.

The island is home to animals such as fox squirrels, red foxes, brown pelicans, merlins, and white-tailed dear.

Other endangered animals you may spot include the likes of the piping plover and sika deer as well!

Address:  8231 Beach Rd, Chincoteague, VA 23336, United States

48. The Light Of Truth Universal Shrine (LOTUS)

Light Of Truth Universal Shrine - LOTUS

Light Of Truth Universal Shrine – LOTUS

Are you the spiritual sort?

Do you seek out scenic places so that you may calm your soul and feel at peace with the world?

Perhaps this lotus-shaped temple in Yogaville is the place you seek, as one of the best places to visit in Virginia for spirituality.

Built near Buckingham in Shenandoah Valley, this graceful building is steeped in spirituality – from the land it is built, to the design philosophies dictating its walls.

While the temple largely takes its cues from Buddhism and Hinduism, its goal is more universal – to create interfaith understanding and create worldwide religious harmony.

Inside the temple, you’ll find neon lights highlighting all sorts of altars that honor the various faiths and beliefs of the world.

Feel free to stay here for the day to meditate, reflect, and recharge, before heading back out into the world again.

If you feel deeply touched by this spiritual space, however, then consider staying here for a longer stint at the ashram.

Address:  1 Lotus Shrine Ln, Buckingham, VA 23921, United States

49. Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

NYC Russ / Shutterstock

Need some fun stuff to do while you’re in Virginia?

Why not head on down to what may be the coolest museum in the county?

An aviation museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is dedicated to hosting an incredible collection of aircraft and spacecraft from all across history.

Some of their exhibits include the likes of the Discovery space shuttle and a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird.

Alternatively, pretend to be a traffic controller while watching the 360-degree livestream feed of the activities visible from the Donald D. Engen Observation Tower.

Or for the more engineering-minded, watch specialists at work in the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar restoring and reconstructing all sorts of rare artifacts.

If you need something more hands-on, participating in science demonstrations and Learning Lab programs may be just up your alley.

To wrap up your stay, give yourself a memorable experience with your very first flight experience in the museum’s jet simulator!

Address:  14390 Air and Space Museum Pkwy, Chantilly, VA 20151, United States

50. Water Country USA

Water Country USA

Inside the Magic / flickr

Is summer getting too hot?

Then clearly the solution is to add the largest water park in the state – and one of the best places to visit in Virginia – to your list of places to go!

Book a cabana and spend the whole day wet and cool at the wave pool, take a trip down a water slide, or hop onto a raft and go paddling around Water Country USA .

Whatever you need for a great day at a waterpark, they have it.

They even have outlets for lunch, so you’ll never be in want.

So if you’re looking for fun things to do in VA that’ll satisfy the whole family, then make sure to keep this location in mind!

Start Planning Your Trip To Virginia

Whether you’re heading to Virginia now, this weekend, or next month, it never hurts to plan your activities ahead so you can check out some great vacation spots !

We hope that this guide has helped you figure out where to go and allowed you to unearth the most exciting and cool parts of the great state of Virginia!

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Main Church of the Armed Forces in Park Patriot

25 Places to Visit in Moscow

Do you know what the most populous city in Europe is? Most people wouldn’t guess that it is actually Moscow. There are approximately 13 million people in the Moscow metro area, which amounts to approximately 1/10th of all Russians.

This former capitol of the Soviet Union is still the political and financial center of Russia. Just because it is a current business and government city, in no way means that it is boring and not worth a visit. Assuming the political tensions get solved, Moscow is a fascinating city you need to visit.

While lots of people can’t explain the nuances of Russian architecture, most can spot and appreciate it immediately. One of the best ways to see the historic sites is by taking a boat tour down the Moskva River that meanders through the city.

Overall, navigating the city isn’t difficult as there is phenomenal and cheap public transportation (roughly 30 rubles/35 cents per ride). You can also use a cheap Uber on the three ring roads that circle the city at various distances from the center.

Still wondering why you should visit this historic masterpiece of a city? Read on to see the top 25 things you need to see in Moscow.

The House with Animals

The animal house in Moscow Russia

This former church is famous for the terracotta reliefs of animals that adorn the front of the building. It is a favorite of locals, and famous around the world. It was built in approximately 1900.

Resurrection Gate or Iberian Gate and Chapel

The resurrection gate at the entrance to Red square.

The Resurrection Gate is now one of the most common ways to enter Red Square. This gate is also the only standing part of the wall that was the entrance to to Kitai-Gorod, or Moscow’s historic central business district.

Book your tour: Moscow Kremlin Armory Chamber Entrance Ticket

St. Basils Cathedral

Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow Russia.

Probably the most famous of the Red Square attractions is St. Basil’s Cathedral. I don’t know if the legend is true or not, but supposedly Tsar Ivan IV poked the eyes of the architect out after completing it so nothing as pretty could be made again. What an awful boss!

Book your tour: Moscow: Saint Basil’s Cathedral and Red Square Private Tour

Book your tour: St.Basil’s Cathedral and Red Square: Private Tour and Ticket

The State Historical Museum

State Historical museum on Red Square, Moscow.

If you are like me then you can’t help but find all the twists and turns of Russian history fascinating. The State Historical Museum at Red Square is a fantastic place to learn and study the Russian Relics.

Book your tour: Kremlin, Red Square, and Metro Tour with Pick-Up

Moscow River Cruise

Moscow river cruise

The Moskva River cuts directly through the heart of Moscow. Want to see it all but rest your feet? One of the best things to do in Moscow at night is float along on a dinner cruise . The lights of the city are so beautiful. Of course, dinner in included.

Book your tour: Night lights Moscow Cruise (with Dinner option)

Museum of Soviet Arcade Games

Machines in Museum of Soviet arcade machines

This is one of the most unique things to do in Moscow. If you know that many American video games paint the Russians as the bad guys, then it’s probably not surprising to learn that you can find an entirely different variety of video games in Russia. This isn’t a recent phenomenon; even historically the video games were different. If you are a video game buff then this stop is for you!

Main Church of the Armed Forces in Park Patriot near Kubinka

Main Church of the Armed Forces in Park Patriot

This church attempts to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ as well as Russian military leader. Yes, it’s an awkward amalgamation. It caused quite a controversy when there were plans to create murals of Vladimir Putin and Joseph Stalin to go along with the ones of Jesus Christ (those plans were scrapped).

Bunker 42 (Cold War Museum)

Meeting room in Bunker 42 Museum of the Cold War - military history museum.

Tunnel at Bunker-42, anti-nuclear underground facility built in 1956 as command post of strategic nuclear forces of Soviet Union.

Americans weren’t the only ones afraid during the Cold War! You can now discover the most secret and secure Bunker of the USSR, Bunker 42. Also known as the Cold War Museum . This former military communication center is now a museum. I recommend this tour that will take you on a private two hour visit of Bunker 42.

If you aren’t interested in a guided tour you can book your tickets in advance here.

Get your tickets: Bunker 42 Admission Ticket and Cold War Tour

Tank Excursion and Bazooka Shooting in Moscow

The main Soviet tank of the Second World War

For real – you can book this tour and actually ride in a tank and shoot off military grade weapons. While that’s not my cup of tea, I know tons of guys would absolutely love to shoot a bazooka!

Book your tour here .

Dormition Cathedral

Dormition Cathedral Moscow

This is another Russian Orthodox cathedral that is located inside the Moscow Kremlin. It is another famous landmark of Moscow. The inside is decorated with ancient frescoes.

The Cathedral of the icon of the Mother of God “Sign”

Cathedral of the Icon of the Mother of God of the Sign in the Moscow park Zaryadye

This cathedral is located in Zaryadye Park (adjacent to Red Square). It is also on the Moskva River. The Cathedral of the icon of the Mother of God “Sign” previously was a monastery.

Komsomolskaya Metro station 

Komsomolskaya Metro station in Moscow.

So many of the metro stations are breathtaking works of art. The idea was to create something beautiful that all the regular people could enjoy, or if you are more cynical you could say it was to attempt to show off how well they were doing.

Book your tour: Moscow: Small Group Metro Tour

The Round houses at Dovzhenko Stree t

The Round houses at Dovzhenko Street Moscow

The Round houses at Dovzhenko Street look super cool and futuristic, except like many communist projects didn’t actually work that well. They were supposed to be something new and different from the standard “Soviet Blocks.”

There are a number of problems with this design. Supposedly the acoustics are awful making the apartments perpetually noisy. The inner circle becomes a wind chamber even when it’s not that windy. My favorite weakness is that the trapezoid shape of apartments is hard to decorate and even harder to do maintenance on.

Izmailovo District and Izmailovo Kremlin

Izmailovo Kremlin In The Center Of

This area has to be one of the coolest places to visit in Moscow. It features a park in the middle of Moscow that is over 3x the size of New York City’s Central Park. The Kremlin in Izmailovo is a complex located in the Eastern Administrative District of Moscow that is known as the center of culture and entertainment. The wooden buildings are in Russian architecture of the XVI-XVII centuries (not original).

Izmailovo Kremlin on Google Maps .

Tretyakov Gallery

retyakov State Gallery In Moscow

For those that appreciate fine art this is where you have to go. The State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow Russia is the best collection of Russian fine art in the world. The museum previously hosted worldwide chess tournaments (I can’t help be think of the Queen’s Gambit).

Book your tickets in advance here. Tickets cost about $13 per person.

Kolomenskoe Estate

Kolomenskoe Estate in Moscow Russia

This reconstruction of a former royal estate is just a few miles southeast of the Moscow city center. Supposedly really detailed historical plans survived, so the reconstruction and current museum is incredibly authentic. It was completed in 2010.

Old buildings of Arbat

Old buildings of Arbat Moscow Russia

Arbat is an old street, and was previously the “nicest place to live in Moscow. Even though it fell into disrepair, it’s location, it’s historical buildings, and the fact that it is a pedestrian street are quickly making it a top place to live again.

The Melnikov House

Famous house of architect Melnikov on Arbat street in Moscow Russia

Located on Arbat street, the Famous house of architect Melnikov designed this house (and Lenin’s sarcophagus). Melnikov designed it at a time when private ownership was outlawed, but got around this restriction by saying it was an experimental design to maximize space. Even though others weren’t built, he was able to keep it.

The New Maiden Convent

The New Maiden Convent, built was built to resemble a mini-Kremlin. It stands out to me because this “convent” was the place where women who were no longer welcome in the royal court were banished to.

Monument to the Conquerors of Space at the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics in the Cosmopark

Monument to the Conquerors of Space at the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics in the Cosmopark.

The Americans may have made it to the moon first, but the Russian cosmonauts were first in a number of other achievements. This gigantic obelisk pays homage to their accomplishments.

Tsaritsyno Museum Reserve

50 fun places to visit

This royal estate was founded by Catherine the Great. She was Russia’s longest serving female leader. It is now a gorgeous museum!

Stalinist Skyscraper tour

Stalinist Skyscrapers called The Seven Sisters

This group of seven skyscrapers are called the Seven Sisters. They were all made in the Stalinist style, and one was previously the tallest building in Europe. If you want to tour them all while learning about their history book here .

Cathedral of Christ the Savior

The Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow

It’s ironic that a country that was so anti-religion for so long has so many great churches. The Cathedral for Christ the Savior was made to thank Jesus for saving Russia. If you are interested in visiting this and so many other cathedrals in Moscow I recommend this tour that will take you to The Cathedral of Christ the Savior many other popular churches in Moscow.

Cathedral of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God

Cathedral of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God  in Red Square Moscow

This church on Red Square is reconstruction of what was previously there but ordered to be destroy by Joseph Stalin. It is a travesty thinking of all the beautiful things that Stalin destroyed to attempt to implement his vision.

Zaryade Park

glass dome in Zaryadye Park in Moscow

Zaryadye Park is one of the main tourist attractions in Moscow. It is located directly next to the Kremlin, and offers truly amazing views. It is also famous for its “floating bridge” and the fact that there are so many unique features underneath it.

Church of Sign of Blessed Virgin in Dubrovitsy Znamenskaya

Church of Sign of Blessed Virgin in Dubrovitsy Znamenskaya church

The Church of the Theotokos of the Sign (Dubrovitsy), or The Church of the Holy Sign of the Mother of God is located in a village amed Dubrovitsy about 20 miles south of Moscow. It is another Russian Orthodox church, but what makes this one unique is that we aren’t 100% sure who made it, or why is has a style that is completely different than other churches of the time.

The Church of Nicholas The Wonderworker

The Church of Nicholas The Wonderworker on Bersenevka in Moscow.

I love the unique style of the Russian Orthodox churches in Moscow. The golden onion domes stand out across the globe. This church dates back to 1657, though it has been partially destroyed a few times since then.

Moscow University

Moscow University in Russia

Moscow University is one of the Seven Sisters that are the “Stalin Skyscrapers.” Previously it was the tallest building in Europe. Though it has lost that title, it is still the tallest “educational building” in the world.

So what do you think? Next trip to Moscow?

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50 fun places to visit

Moscow, Russia skyline: the 50 most iconic buildings and best views in Moscow

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50 fun places to visit

1 The Moscow Kremlin

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3 Bolshoi Theatre

4 gorky central park of culture and leisure, 5 krasnaya ploshchad'.

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6 St. Basil's Cathedral

7 the state tretyakov gallery, 8 cathedral of christ the saviour, 9 red square, 10 kolomenskoye, 11 museum of cosmonautics, 12 all-russian exhibition center, 13 the pushkin state museum of fine arts, 14 novodevichy convent, 15 state historical museum.

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26 Central Armed Forces Museum

27 afimall city, 28 winzavod, 29 mini hotel rest on paveletsky train station, 30 catherine palace, 31 st. peter and paul orthodox church, 32 mayakovskaya, 34 kuskovo estate museum.

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46 Grand Kremlin Palace

47 moscow art theatre, 48 moscow cathedral mosque, 49 zachatyevsky monastery, 50 house on the embankment, top searches in moscow, popular road trips from moscow, what's the weather like in moscow.

It depends on when you visit! We've compiled data from NASA on what the weather is like in Moscow for each month of the year: see the links below for more information.

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Explore nearby places

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Get inspired for your trip to Moscow with our curated itineraries that are jam-packed with popular attractions everyday! Check them out here:

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Best attractions in nearby cities

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Marvelous Midwest: 50+ Best Places to Visit in Nebraska

W elcome to Nebraska, the 16th largest state in the U.S., with a tagline of “ Honestly. It’s not for Everyone. ” But honestly, this Midwestern state offers something for everyone.

Raised in Iowa near the Nebraska border, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with the state. My dad was a fan of any-team-but-the-Cornhuskers college football, and if anyone knows football rivalry, well, you know where I’m coming from, right?

Yet since we lived on the Nebraska border in small-town Iowa, it was our almost weekly road trip for groceries and to visit our Nebraskan relatives. Mix in all the fun things to do in Omaha and all along the Interstate 80 corridor, thus my dilemma.

Now as an adult transplanted into Colorado, I’ve experienced all the crazy, fun, wildly different, and amazing things to do, from a University of Nebraska football game to tubing on Lake McConaughey (and many things in between), so I’m secretly in love with Nebraska — but don’t tell my dad!

Where in the World is Nebraska?

Nebraska is bordered by South Dakota in the north; Iowa and Missouri in the east; Kansas in the south; Colorado in the south and west, and Wyoming in the west. This prime location in the heart of the Midwest creates the perfect road trip destination!

Nebraska is a land of rolling hills, prairies, and forests. With more miles of rivers than any other state, it is also home to many lakes and rivers, including the Platte River, the Missouri River, and the Niobrara River. The state is a popular destination for outdoor recreation, including hiking, camping, fishing, and boating at Nebraska’s beautiful state parks .

Vast open prairies of the Great Plains, tumbling rivers, country roads worthy of road trips, towering dunes, staggering rock formations, cultural sites, small towns, farmlands, vibrant university towns, thriving music scenes, and unique tourist attractions. And rivers flow through this state, in fact, more miles of rivers than in any other state.

That’s not even to mention its impressive pioneer history including museums, memorials, Native American sites, and historic trails. To name a few: The Pony Express, The Oregon Trail, and the Lincoln Highway, the transcontinental U.S. Route 30.

Get ready, my friends, for an adventure like no other exploring all the places to visit in Nebraska.

Read More: 17 Fun Things To Do in Nebraska

Places to Visit in Nebraska

I grew up in western Iowa, near the Missouri River, and just across the “border” from Omaha, Nebraska.

Our weekly shopping trip was to Council Bluffs and over the bridge to Omaha, and often included a stop at our cousins or our paternal grandparents’ homes. And we loved crossing the mighty-to-us Missouri River, bordering the eastern edge between Iowa and Nebraska, into North Omaha — and to me as just a young thing, it was daunting.

While not technically a local, I did visit often and as an adult lived in Omaha for nearly three years. I also explored other areas of Nebraska as a resident and returned often to visit friends and family.

You might say, The Cornhusker State has a gravitational pull to this now-Colorado resident.

The gorilla exhibit at the Henry Doorly Zoo is one of its most popular attractions. Photo credit: Cathy Bennett Kopf

Things to Do in Omaha

A lot has changed since I lived here, but Omaha still remains the largest city in Nebraska, filled with things to do ranging from art galleries to museums, zoos to outdoor activities, and, yes, nightlife and great food too!

Family Fun in Omaha

  • You’ll need an entire day (and comfortable shoes!) to visit the 160-acre Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium , one of the top zoos in the U.S. and home to more than 17,000 animals from 962 species. With its long history, established in 1894, you’ll run out of time before you’ve seen all it offers including the largest cat complex in North America, largest indoor swamp and nocturnal exhibit, world’s largest indoor rainforest; and world’s largest indoor desert.

SheBuysTravel Tip : Purchase tickets in advance to avoid wait times at the gate.

  • Located in downtown, Omaha’s Children’s Museum  celebrates “science is magic,” featuring daily science, technology, engineering, art, and math experiences.
  • Train fans will want to visit The Durham Museum  in Union Station with its walk-through trains and model train display.
  • Take a short 30-minute drive for an outdoor adventure in Ashland at the Wildlife Safari Park , a four-mile wildlife drive-through experience. Stop first at the visitors center to see just how much there is to do. Take the hiking trail to an overlook to North American wildlife in their habitat: bears, wolves, elk, bison, and waterfowl. Inside the Eagle Aviary see for yourself, the bald Eagle, America’s national bird.
  • Also in Ashland, between Omaha and Lincoln, head on over to the more than 300,000 square foot Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum . Well known for its impressive array of aircraft. – See a variety of permanent and featured exhibits and special events throughout the year
  • Walk across Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, a 3,000 footbridge across the Missouri River, and stand in two states (Nebraska and Iowa) at one time. Kids will also enjoy the view of the river and the Omaha skyline.
  • Family-friendly Omaha events include the College World Series, Summer Art Festival, Omaha’s River City Rodeo, Outdoor Movies, Parades, and more.

Downtown Omaha. Photo credit:

Omaha’s History, Art, Culture & Cuisine

Creative describes this Midwestern city best, and you’ll see why with its public art displays and art galleries. Culture and history are celebrated in its theatre, museums, and cuisine.

  • Public art is a big deal in Omaha. Take a stroll, nearly everywhere, and you’ll see. Over 100 bronze pieces are spread out over six city blocks at the Spirit of Nebraska’s Wilderness and Pioneer Courage Parks. Downtown Omaha also features a variety of art.
  • Statues are scattered across the grounds of CHI Health Center, where you can also take in a concert.
  • Another big deal, at 32,500 square feet is Fertile Ground, one of the largest public murals in the U.S.
  • Glimpse its pioneer spirit by visiting its many historic museums including the Joslyn Art Museum , Great Plains Black History Museum , and the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, to name a few.
  • Looking for nightlife? Head to the cobblestone streets of the Old Market , and take your pick from shops, galleries, breweries, and restaurants!

More Coming to Omaha in 2023!

Opening in 2023, visitors will want to add Omaha’s Riverfront Project,  a revitalization and sustainability project embracing the Missouri River and its activities: hiking, biking, boating, and more. It will also include three riverfront parks for locals and visitors. This urban space will also offer gardens, event plazas, a promenade, sports courts, playgrounds, an urban beach, water features, dog parks, and event spaces.

Attending a University of Nebraska football game at Memorial Stadium is a football fan’s sports bucket list. Photo credit: Diana Rowe

Things to Do in Lincoln, Nebraska’s University Town

Lincoln, Nebraska  is a vibrant city with a rich history and culture. There are many things to see and do in Lincoln, whether you’re interested in history, art, nature, or sports.

Here are a few ideas for things to do in Lincoln:

  • The Nebraska State Capitol is a beautiful building that is open to the public for tours. The building features a domed tower with observation decks that offer stunning views of the city.
  • Explore the Sunken Gardens,  a beautiful park with themed gardens, sculptures, and lily ponds. The Sunken Gardens is a great place to relax and enjoy the outdoors.
  • The Lincoln Children’s Zoo  is a great place to see more than 400 animals from all over the world, featuring many hands-on experiences. The zoo also has a train ride, a carousel, and a playground.
  • Take a walk through the Haymarket District, a historic area that is now home to many shops, restaurants, and bars. The Haymarket District is a great place to wander around and soak up the atmosphere. This is one of those crazy fun, put-your-big-girl-party-panties-on kind of adventure.
  • My husband and I attended a University of Nebraska Cornhuskers football game  with friends — and I can tell you it was an amazing experience. The University of Nebraska Cornhuskers is one of the most popular college football teams in the country. If you’re a fan of college football, attending a Cornhuskers game is a must-do. Fans usually arrive early and start at the historic Haymarket District, within walking distance of The Memorial Stadium.
  • Visit the Sheldon Museum of Art,  a museum that houses a collection of American art and also features a sculpture garden.
  • Go for a hike at Pioneers Park Nature Center , a nature center offering hiking trails, a lake, and a variety of animals. Pioneers Park Nature Center is a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
  • Road trip? Halfway between Lincoln and Omaha discover Platte River State Park. Highlights of the fun things to do here include a waterfall trail (easy and fun for kids!), pool, hiking trails, two observation towers, paddle boats, and overnight accommodations.

These are just a few of the many things to do in Lincoln, Nebraska. If you’re looking for a city with a lot to offer, Lincoln is a great place to visit.

Read More: Fun (and FREE!) Things to do in Lincoln

Grand Island

Grand Island, Nebraska is a city with a rich history and culture and fun things to do for all ages. This was one of my family’s stops when road-tripping across Interstate 80.

  • Visit the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer.  This museum tells the story of the history of the Grand Island area through exhibits, live demonstrations, and special events.
  • Take a walk or bike ride on the Platte River Trail which runs along the Platte River and offers beautiful views of the river and the surrounding countryside.
  • Visit the Crane Trust Nature & Visitor Center  and learn about the sandhill cranes that migrate to the Platte River every year.
  • Enjoy a concert or show at the Heartland Events Center: This center hosts a variety of events, including concerts, shows, and sporting events.
  • Take a ride on the Stolley Park Railroad , offering rides on a historic train through Stolley Park.
  • Visit the Grand Island Little Theatre  featuring a variety of live performances, including plays, musicals, and concerts.

These are just a few of the many things to do in Grand Island, Nebraska. No matter what your interests are, you are sure to find something to enjoy in this city.

One of the most interesting roadside attractions in Nebraska is the Great Platte River Road Archway Monument, located in Kearney. Photo credit: Diana Rowe

Kearney, Nebraska is a city located in the central part of the state. It is a popular tourist destination due to its many historical sites and attractions. Here are some of the things you can do in Kearney:

  • Visit the Great Platte River Road Archway Monument,  located on Interstate 80 three miles east of Kearney. It is dedicated to the history of the Oregon Trail. It features a museum, a theater, and a variety of outdoor activities.
  • Take a ride on the Kearney Area Scenic Railroad.  This railroad offers a variety of scenic rides through the Kearney area.
  • The Kearney Area Children’s Museum i s dedicated to the education and entertainment of children. It features a variety of exhibits, interactive activities, and educational programs.
  • Go hiking or biking in the Platte River State Park.  This park offers a variety of hiking and biking trails. It is a great place to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise.

Honoring our U.S. Military at Fort McPherson National Cemetery, near North Platte, Nebraska

North Platte

Located on the Platte River, North Platte is a popular tourist destination due to its many historical sites and attractions.

Here are some of the places to visit in North Platte:

  • Visit the Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park and State Recreation Area . This park is dedicated to the life and career of William F. Cody, also known as Buffalo Bill. The park features a museum, a ranch, and a variety of outdoor activities.
  • Take a ride on the Union Pacific Railroad , one of the largest railroads in the United States. Visitors can take a ride on the train and experience the history of the railroad.
  • One of the best places to learn more about the area’s railroad history is the Golden Spike Tower . This tower offers stunning views of the Platte River and the surrounding area. It is also a great place to learn about the history of the railroad.
  • Go hiking or biking in the Platte Valley Recreation Area. This recreation area offers a variety of hiking and biking trails. It is a great place to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise.
  • Visit the North Platte Canteen  was a stop for soldiers during World War II. The museum features exhibits, artifacts, and a variety of programs.

Ancient Sandhill crane migration still stirs emotions at dawn. Photo courtesy Crane Trust

  • Visit the Iain Nicolson Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary , smack dab in the heart of the world’s largest Sandhill Crane Migration – an experience not to miss! Responsibly witness the migration of 600,000 + birds in Central Nebraska during a Sandhill Crane Festival!
  • Take time to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice with a visit to Nebraska’s oldest National Cemetery, Fort McPherson . Established on March 3, 1873, this national cemetery is the final resting place of war veterans.

These are just a few of the things you can do in North Platte. If you are looking for a city with a rich history and culture, North Platte is a great place to visit.

The views from Scotts Bluff National Monument, commemorating the Oregon Trail and the Mormon Trail, are stunning. Photo credit: Diana Rowe

Places to Visit in Scottsbluff

Located on the North Platte River, Scottsbluff is a city in Scotts Bluff County, Nebraska, United States. The city is the county seat of Scotts Bluff County and the largest city in the Nebraska Panhandle.

Here are some of the things you can do in Scottsbluff:

  • The Scotts Bluff County Historical Museum i s a museum located in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. The museum tells the story of the history of Scotts Bluff County, and it features a variety of exhibits, artifacts, and photographs.
  • Visit the Legacy of the Plains Museum  in Scottsbluff. The museum tells the story of the history of the Great Plains region, and it features a variety of exhibits, artifacts, and photographs.
  • Go for a hike or bike ride on the Monument Valley Pathway, a paved trail that runs along the North Platte River. The pathway is a great place to go for a hike or bike ride, and it offers stunning views of the surrounding area.
  • Visit the year-round Riverside Discovery Center  to see view majestic tigers, grizzly bears and bison, then hang out at the petting zoo and meet Bonnie the bobcat.
  • The Midwest Theater  is a historic movie theater located in Scottsbluff, built in 1927, and one of the few remaining movie theaters in Nebraska. The theater shows a variety of movies, and it is a great place to catch a movie.
  • Attend a concert or show at the Scottsbluff Performing Arts Center . The center hosts a variety of concerts, shows, and events. The center is a great place to enjoy a night out.

Road Trips from Scotts Bluff

  • A short 10-minute road trip away in Gering is the Scotts Bluff National Monument  and its over 3,000 acres of protected history, a stop along the Oregon Trail. This United States National Monument commemorates the Oregon Trail and the Mormon Trail, which passed through the area in the 19th century. The monument features a bluff that rises 800 feet above the North Platte River, and it offers stunning views of the surrounding area.
  • While in the area, continue 23 miles east of the Scotts Bluff National Monument to Chimney Rock National Historic Site . Rising nearly 500 feet above the North Platte River Valley, this is one of the most famous landmarks in the American West, as the pioneers and Native Americans used this as a guide as they explored the area.
  • In 2023, the Oregon National Historic Trail celebrates 180 years, and at the Chimney Rock Museum families can learn more with hands-on activities such as using the wagon simulator to “pack your wagon” with coffee, food, bedding, and other needed materials to survive the journey, or spinning the Oregon Trail wheel .
  • Visit the Lake Minatare Lighthouse, a 25-minute drive from Scotts Bluff. The lighthouse was built in 1922, and it is one of the few lighthouses in Nebraska. The lighthouse is open for tours, and it offers stunning views of the surrounding area.

Another quirky, only-in-Nebraska tourist attraction is Carhenge, a sculpture park in Stonehenge formation with vintage cars located in Alliance. Photo credit: D. Curran /

A Little Town with Fun Things to Do: Alliance, Nebraska

Just one hour from Scottsbluff, visit Alliance, this western Nebraska small town, and be surprised at how much it has to offer:

  • Located just outside of Alliance, visit Carhenge , a sculpture park made up of cars arranged in a Stonehenge-like formation and a popular tourist attraction.
  • Explore the Box Butte County Historical Museum , which tells the story of the history of Box Butte County. The museum features a variety of exhibits, artifacts, and photographs.
  • Dobby’s Frontier Town  is a living history museum that recreates a frontier town from the 1800s. The museum features a variety of exhibits, including buildings, shops, and a saloon.
  • A peaceful place to pay respect, the Nebraska Veterans Cemetery  is dedicated to the men and women who have served in the United States military.

Lake McConaughey is the perfect place for family fun and cooling off in the summer by tubing the lake. Photo credit: Diana Rowe

Lake McConaughey and Ogallala

My multigenerational family LOVES visiting Ogallala  and  Lake McConaughey , just 3 hours from Denver, and these are some of the best places to visit in Ogallala and Lake McConaughy.

  • Visit the Ogallala’s Front Street Steakhouse & Crystal Palace Saloon, a historic restaurant, and bar that has been in operation since 1885.
  • Visit the Ogallala Museum which tells the story of the history of Ogallala and the surrounding area. The museum features a variety of exhibits, artifacts, and photographs.
  • The Ogallala Art Center is an art center that features a variety of exhibits, including paintings, sculptures, and photography. The art center also offers a variety of art classes and workshops.
  • Lake McConaughy  is a large reservoir and a popular destination for boating, tubing, water skiing, sailing, fishing, and swimming. Visitors can take a boat ride on the lake and enjoy the views of the surrounding area.
  • Go for a hike or bike ride on the Lake McConaughy State Recreation Area, a state park that features a variety of hiking and biking trails. The park is a great place to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise.

Fun, relaxing, and crazy, a river float in a horse trough, tanking in one of Nebraska’s many rivers. Photo credit:

Experience the Different in Nebraska

While being different may not be for everyone, why not branch out and experience what makes Nebraska different? With so many backroads and Interstate 80 that runs through it, add these not-to-miss Nebraska small towns, festivals, state parks, quirky roadside attractions, and tourist attractions.

  • Central Nebraska is home to North America’s largest intact sand dunes , covering a quarter of this unexpected state. This is also where the annual Nebraska Star Party is held in a remote area near Valentine. The area has one of the biggest swatches of minimal light pollution in the US, in which about 80% of North America can’t see the milky way anymore.  
  • Floating on a river in a horse trough? Um yes, only in Nebraska, and tanking is a local-favorite  activity, particularly in this state.
  • The Niobrara River Valley  is a beautiful area of Nebraska that is home to many natural wonders, including the Niobrara River, the Niobrara State Park, and the Niobrara National Scenic River
  • The state has no shortage of historic trails for riding, hiking, or horseback riding! Spanning 321 miles from Norfolk (east) to Chadron (west), the Cowboy Trail  is the largest rails-to-trails project in the United States. Another option is the Pony Express National Historic Trail , which spans across southeastern to western Nebraska over Chimney Rock, Homestead National Historical Park, Gothenburg Pony Express Station , and The Oak Grove Pony Express Station
  • In northwestern Nebraska on the borders of Wyoming and South Dakota in the Oglala National Grassland discover the Toadstool Geologic Park . It is home to a variety of rock formations that resemble toadstools, hence the name, and features a badlands landscape. The park is also home to a variety of fossils, which makes it a great place for people who are interested in geology and paleontology.

Some of the Coolest, Smallest Towns are in Nebraska:

  • “America’s Most Famous Small Town” is Red Cloud, for its literary history and childhood home of author Willa Cather.
  • Monowi is the nation’s smallest town with a population of ONE where Elsie Eller pays herself taxes to serve as the town’s mayor, clerk, treasurer librarian, bartender, and community member.
  • Seward , dubbed “America’s Fourth of July City” and also happens to be home of the world’s largest time capsule with 5,000+ items.
  • Visit Indian Cave State Park,  located in southeast Nebraska, along the Missouri River near Shubert. Made up of natural sandstone formations, Native Americans used the cave as shelter. Learn more about its history in the park’s museum. Go hiking and biking on its over 22 miles of trails. Camp at over 100 campsites.
  • Nebraskans love to hold festivals for anything and everything. Four of our favorites are:
  • Junk Jaunt  – one of the biggest vintage item festivals in the country, spanning 500 miles
  • Testicle Festival  – celebrating Rocky Mountain Oysters
  • Wayne Chicken Show  – featuring a parade and cluck-off
  • Kool-Aid Days  – a weekend fair and parade at the birthplace of this beverage staple

The post Marvelous Midwest: 50+ Best Places to Visit in Nebraska appeared first on She Buys Travel .

Welcome to Nebraska, the 16th largest state in the U.S., with a tagline of “Honestly. It’s not for Everyone.” But honestly, this Midwestern state offers something for everyone. Raised in...


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