From sea to shining sea, there are so many unique places to visit in the US. This includes everything from national and state parks to bustling cities and mountain resort towns. Whether you’re into snowy mountains or otherworldly deserts, the United States has got you covered with its beautiful and bucket list-worthy destinations.
Welcome to the United States of Awesome! From the misty forests of the Pacific Northwest to the sun-soaked beaches of Florida, the diversity of landscapes here will have you thinking you’ve stepped foot on an entirely different planet.
Beyond the natural wonders, the USA is also home to some of the most vibrant and unique cities on Earth. Lose yourself in the buzzing streets of New York City, where dreams are born and skyscrapers touch the clouds. Or experience the laid-back vibes of San Francisco, where the Golden Gate Bridge stands proud amid mystical fog.
For all these reasons, the US is a prime destination for road trips. And what better way to spend this winter, spring, summer, and fall? The best vacation spots in the US are all within driving distance of major airports.
Looking for unique vacations that will leave you in awe? Hoping to find places to travel in the US that will make you inspired? Let’s take a cross-country road trip from the West Coast to the East Coast. Here are the many cool places to visit in the US.
Quick tip on how to find cheap airfare to these cool places
Before diving into all the best places to travel in the US, I want to share a quick tip to save money on airfare.
For the past 3 years, I’ve used Scott’s Cheap Flights (now called Going) to find discounted flights. All you have to do is enter in your home airport and where you want to go. From there, they’ll send mistake fares and other cheap flight deals to your inbox. And the best part? It’s 100% FREE!
In 2022 alone, I saved THOUSANDS thanks to their email alerts. This includes most recently, a $175 roundtrip fare from Boston to San Diego!! On average, I save about $200 roundtrip on domestic flights. So I couldn’t recommend them more!
There’s a free and a premium version – the free one has pretty much everything you’ll need. Though if you travel a lot, it’s worth upgrading to the paid version for $49 per year. You’ll likely get your money back after buying just one airline ticket! I recommend signing up for the free trial (you can cancel at any time) to try it for yourself. And if you like it, use my coupon code JON20 to save 20% on your subscription!
55 cool places to visit in the US
Now, without further ado, here are the must-see places in the USA that you should add to your bucket list!
1. Olympic National Park, Washington
Looking for cool places to visit this year? Welcome to the enchanting realm of Olympic National Park, a place that will have you questioning whether you’ve stumbled into a storybook wonderland.
Brace yourself for a sensory overload of natural wonders that will leave you spellbound. Here, misty rainforests whisper ancient tales, snow-capped peaks tower above the clouds, and rugged coastlines blend with the crashing waves of the Pacific.
Immerse yourself in the Hoh Rainforest, where moss-draped trees create a magical canopy that filters ethereal light. Lace up your boots and hike through the jaw-dropping Hurricane Ridge, where panoramic vistas stretch as far as the eye can see. And don’t forget to explore the wild beaches that seem to stretch endlessly, where tide pools teem with vibrant marine life.
With its unparalleled diversity, Olympic National Park promises outdoor adventures, soul-stirring vistas, and a chance to reconnect with the wonders of the natural world. So, heed the call of the wild, and let Olympic National Park weave its spell upon you. It’s no wonder this is one of the top places to travel in the US in 2023.
2. Denali National Park, Alaska
For nature enthusiasts, Denali National Park is one of the top vacation spots in the US. It’s home to North America’s highest mountain, Mt. Denali (also known as Mount McKinley). You’ll also find untouched Alaskan wilderness at every turn, and lots of unique animal species to go with it. The park is home to grizzly bears, moose, wolves, caribou, among other exotic animals and plants.
Denali National Park is home to over 6 million acres of expansive forests, including many mountains and glaciers. It’s a popular place for camping, RV’ing, hiking, and so much more.
There’s no light pollution here, so stargazing is a must. During the winter months, you can also see the Northern Lights. Many other visitors come here to go dog-sledding through the arctic tundra landscapes. It’s truly otherworldly!
If you’re looking for a unique national park to add to your bucket list, Denali won’t let you down. It’s absolutely one of the most unique travel destinations in the United States.
3. Nā Pali Coast, Hawaii
Located on the island of Kauai, The Nāpali Coast is among the most beautiful places in the United States. It’s a sacred spot where you’ll find some of the world’s most iconic sea arches and waterfalls.
To see these majestic landscapes up close, consider doing a boat or helicopter tour. Also, consider going snorkeling and hiking while you’re here!
For a sightseeing experience like no other, add the Nāpali Coast to your bucket list. It’s truly one of those United States destinations that you’ll remember forever!
4. Redwood National and State Parks, California
Welcome to the realm of giants! Redwood National and State Parks is a place where ordinary humans can’t help but feel small in the presence of towering ancient behemoths. Prepare to be awe-struck as you wander through a fairytale forest of colossal redwoods, some of the tallest living beings on Earth. These gentle giants will transport you to a realm of wonder and tranquility.
Embark on hikes through lush groves, where dappled sunlight filters through the dense canopy above. Get lost in the ethereal silence and serenity, allowing the majesty of these ancient sentinels to fill your soul. Don’t forget to stroll along the scenic coastal trails, where misty cliffs and dramatic seascapes provide a captivating contrast to the forest’s embrace.
Immerse yourself in the magic of this living time capsule, and you’ll discover that Redwood National and State Parks is more than just trees; it’s an invitation to connect with nature on a deeply profound level. So come, breathe in the crisp forest air, feel the hum of the earth beneath your feet, and let the Redwoods spark a sense of awe that will stay with you long after you leave.
It won’t be long until you see what makes the Redwoods one of the most fun places to go in the US.
5. Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska
Our journey begins north of the Lower-48, in Alaska’s Kenai Fjords National Park. This nippy national park in southern Alaska is home to 38 glaciers and numerous fjords.
It also harbors one of the largest icefields in the US—the Harding Icefield—named after former U.S. President Warren G. Harding who visited there in the 1920s.
Inside Kenai Fjords National Park, keep your eyes peeled for humpback whales, sea lions, and black bears.
6. Molokai, Hawaii
Cool places to visit in the US come in all shapes and sizes, and this one is incredibly unique. It’s also one of the world’s most breathtaking islands. Here’s why:
Molokai is a complete 180 from the rest of the Hawaiian islands. Though tropical and inviting, this rustic place has not garnered the crowds of the other islands. And that’s precisely what makes it so unique, special, and one of the best hidden gems in the US.
In Molokai, you won’t find any resorts or beach clubs (though there are plenty of beautiful beaches). You also won’t see any buildings taller than a palm tree. Instead, you’ll discover untouched nature, and an authentic culture that’s remarkably well preserved.
If you’d like to see what the rest of Hawaii looked like 100 years ago, look no further than the shores of Molokai. Consider staying at a unique vacation home on the beach for an authentic, immersive experience. This incredible hidden gem awaits you.
For a more touristy Hawaiian experience, consider a visit to O’ahu. Here’s what to do: 10 Things to do in Oahu, Hawaii
7. Big Sur, California
Just south of San Francisco, an epic road trip adventure awaits you on the Big Sur.
Driving along the Big Sur is an amazing experience. Traversing the windy, serpentine roads of Highway 1 can be daunting at times, but the staggering views certainly make up for it. This route lies along the Pacific Coast Highway, which extends from Southern California to Washington State. You definitely won’t want to miss this during a West Coast travel itinerary!
This rugged stretch of coastline extends from Carmel to San Simeon in Central California. During your road trip adventure along the Big Sur, you’ll encounter scenic cliffs, beautiful beaches, state parks, and bridges. As such, it’s considered one of the most beautiful, bucket list places in the US.
8. Mount Rainier, Washington
Mount Rainier is as enormous as it is beautiful.
It’s one of the tallest mountains in the Pacific Northwest, towering 14,410 feet (4,392 m) over the Washington landscape. This magnificent mountain provides an epic backdrop to the Seattle skyline and Puget Sound that coalesce nearby.
This iconic mountain is also an active volcano, which last erupted in 1894.
Mount Rainier’s volcanic cone is camouflaged by its glaciated peaks.
On a clear day, you can catch a glimpse of Mount Rainier from Victoria, British Columbia, over 114 miles away. With so much gorgeous scenery, it’s no wonder this is among the top places to visit in the US.
Does a cozy cabin near Mt. Rainier sound good to you? Read next: 12 coolest Airbnbs in Washington State!
9. Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada
Who needs the Alps when you have Lake Tahoe? Kidding of course, but you definitely need to check this place out.
Located in the Sierra Nevada region between California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in the US. It’s encircled by rocky mountains and lush forests, making it one of the most unique, year-round travel destinations in the USA. It’s also a popular spot for wellness retreats with all the beautiful scenery and perfect weather.
Lake Tahoe is a popular spot for swimming and water sports in the summer, and skiing during the winter. It’s also a popular day trip from Sacramento. Its versatility makes it one of the most beautiful and unique places to visit in the US.
Read next: Top Cabin Rentals on Lake Tahoe
10. The Palouse, Washington and Idaho
The Palouse is a cornucopia of gently rolling hills and prairies. Formed by wind-blown sediments, the Palouse is a unique spectacle that undulates through Washington and Idaho.
As there are no continual valleys or ridges, geologists can infer that these hills were formed by wind-blown silt rather than rivers or streams.
Its agricultural landscape is often likened to Tuscany, though you’ll find wheat fields here instead of vineyards.
11. Yosemite National Park, California
Located four hours east of San Francisco, Yosemite is a natural sanctuary teeming with deep valleys, gushing waterfalls, and diverse wildlife. Yosemite National Park is also well-known for its granite cliffs and giant sequoia trees.
The top sight in the park is Yosemite Valley, a giant glacial valley enclosed by granite summits. At its depths, you’ll find an array of pine trees and streams. I recently visited Yosemite as part of an organized tour with Globus, and would highly recommend it to anyone!
Read next: How to Spend 3 Days in Yosemite
12. Multnomah Falls, Oregon
Looking to chase waterfalls on a cool hiking trail in the Pacific Northwest? Just wait until you see Multnomah Falls.
Hydrated by underground springs and run-off from a nearby mountain, Multnomah Falls is a year-round waterfall with a 611-foot drop. It’s among the most unique sights and natural treasures in the US. Multnomah Falls is accessible by two hiking trails, which are adjoined by a pretty bridge.
This majestic waterfall is lodged in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge, only a 30-minute drive from Portland. Not only is it a top spot to check out in Oregon, it’s also one of the coolest places to visit in the US.
13. Sequoia National Park, California
Tree huggers will really appreciate this one.
Sequoia National Park is known for its giant sequoia trees, canyons, and lakes. The park is home to the world’s largest tree, General Sherman Tree, which is 275 feet (83 m) tall. At its base, this tree is 36 feet (11 m) in diameter.
Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains within reach of San Francisco, Sequoia National Park has 14 campsites, which make for the ideal outdoor retreat. It’s also one of the most beautiful, bucket list-worthy places in the US.
14. Thor’s Well in Oregon is among the best places to visit in USA
Choose your beaches in Oregon wisely. Along its coastline, you’ll find a natural vortex that appears to swallow the sea. This is Thor’s Well, a sinkhole driven by the powerful ocean tides.
Just shy of a 2-hour drive from the city of Eugene, Thor’s Well is conveniently located in the Siuslaw National Forest. It’s one of the top things to do on Oregon’s coast, hands down.
Judging by the picture below, one would think that Thor’s Well is a bottomless pit leading to the center of the Earth. In reality, however, it’s projected to be only 20 feet (6.1 m) deep.
You may like: Coolest Vacation Homes on the Oregon Coast
15. Joshua Tree National Park, California
Craving adventure? Just wait until you see Joshua Tree, one of the best places to visit in the United States. This expansive nature area in Southern California is home to exotic desert terrain and unique rock formations that you won’t find anywhere else.
Take in the gorgeous trees and cacti that line the Colorado and Mojave Deserts. Go hiking through a grove of iconic Joshua trees and don’t forget to go stargazing at night. It won’t be hard to see why Joshua Tree National Park is among the must see attractions in USA.
You may also like: Coolest Things to See and Do in So Cal
16. Skagit Valley Tulip Fields, Washington
Looking to add some color to your US road trip itinerary? Check this out.
During the spring, millions of tulips bloom in Washington State’s Skagit Valley Tulip Fields. This valley is comprised of hundreds of acres of gardens spanning as far as the eye can see. Similarly, the tulips seem to come in pretty much every hue imaginable on the color spectrum.
Each April, the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is held, which is Washington’s largest festival. This event attracts upwards of a million visitors.
Read next: The Most Unique Airbnbs in Washington State
17. Valley of Fire, Nevada
Get off the beaten path and explore this otherworldly landscape.
Though just a short drive from Las Vegas, Valley of Fire State Park is one of America’s best hidden gems. It’s often overlooked for the national parks in Arizona and Utah, but it shouldn’t be.
As its name suggests, Valley of Fire boasts a fiery and seemingly Martian landscape. Seriously though, the red and orange sandstone sprawled around the park looks like it belongs on Mars.
Why Valley of Fire is one of the must see places in USA
Throughout the valley, there are also slot canyons, orange and pink rock formations, and ancient petroglyphs etched into sandstone. You’ll also see lots of bighorn sheep that call this state park their home.
Many visitors come here as a day trip from Las Vegas, but I think it merits at least a couple of days to see it all.
If you love hiking and camping in epic locations, add Valley of Fire to your USA bucket list.
18. Antelope Canyon, Arizona
Antelope Canyon is something else. This surreal natural wonder is located just outside of Page, a city in northern Arizona that feels like a small town.
Known for its mystical wavy rocks, Antelope Canyon was formed by water and wind erosion over millions of years. During the day as light beams illuminate the canyon walls, this sandstone slot canyon offers a spectacular photo opportunity. This makes it one of the most beautiful, bucket list places in the US.
Antelope Canyon is a sacred space in the heart of the Navajo Nation (a Native American territory in northeastern Arizona). As such, you will need to take a guided tour with a Navajo guide. I visited Lower Antelope Canyon with Ken’s Tours and loved it. For those looking for unique experiences, places to visit in United States don’t get any better than this!
19. Austin, Texas
I’d be remiss to put together a round-up of top United States destinations without mentioning Austin. As the capital of Texas, it’s one of the most popular places to live and visit these days, and it’s easy to see why.
With amazing food, spacious parks, and an unparalleled live music scene, Austin attracts a cool and quirky bunch. In fact, the local businesses have used the “Keep Austin Weird” promotional slogan to keep their uniquely weird reputation alive. Austin is also home to the biggest graffiti park in North America. If that doesn’t give you a taste of Austin’s unconventional nature, I don’t know what will!
In addition to the city’s culture, history, and art scene, the biggest draw to Austin is its people. Locals here are super warm (like the weather) and friendly. There are also lots of digital nomads and entrepreneurs who are drawn to the city’s pro-business and pro-environment culture. As such, it’s one of the most popular remote work program spots in the world.
Enjoy the year-round live music and endless sunshine. It won’t be long until you make this USA bucket list destination your home.
Read next: Coolest Lake Homes for Rent in Austin
20. Bryce Canyon, Utah – A Must See Place to Visit in the USA
Utah rocks, and Bryce is one of the reasons why.
Located in a remote area of southwestern Utah, Bryce Canyon is recognized for its orange pillar-shaped rock formations called hoodoos.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was Bryce Canyon. Its rocky amphitheaters were shaped by erosion over millions of years before the Colosseum.
To catch the most extraordinary views of these vibrant rocks, be sure to try a guided ATV tour or a helicopter ride. Bryce Canyon is a beautiful place to visit, with some of the most unique rock formations in the US. It’s certainly a must-see on any road trip through Utah!
21. Horseshoe Bend, Arizona
Located in Arizona, Horseshoe Bend is one of the best places to visit in USA for nature lovers.
As its name suggests, Horseshoe Bend is a rock incision shaped like a giant horseshoe. It lies along the Colorado River, an extensive waterway that runs through 7 US states and 11 national parks.
Often mistaken for the Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend is a few miles away from Grand Canyon National Park.
22. Zion National Park, Utah
Zion National Park in southwestern Utah is one of the most stunning and unique places to visit in the US.
It’s best known for its red and tan-colored sandstone cliffs, which wrap around a massive verdant canyon.
Inside Zion National Park, you’ll find countless hiking and biking trails with breathtaking panoramic views of the park.
23. Grand Canyon, Arizona
The Grand Canyon is probably the most iconic, best-known (and grandest) canyon in the world. As such, it’s definitely one of the cool places to travel in the US. This colossal canyon spans 277 miles (446 km) long, 18 miles (29 km) wide, and 1 mile (1.6 km) deep.
What makes the Grand Canyon one of the cool places to visit in the US
As you gaze down its imposing walls, you can see millions of years of Earth’s geological history embedded within the rock layers.
From mule rides to whitewater rafting, the Grand Canyon offers plenty of front row seats to observe Earth’s natural beauty.
Nothing beats catching the sunrise and sunset over the Colorado River from the Grand Canyon.
The Grand Canyon is a popular vacation spot in the southwest. Fly into Las Vegas or Phoenix, and spend a couple of weeks exploring Arizona, Nevada, and Utah.
24. The Wave, Arizona
As far as fun places in the US go, this has to be one of the best.
The Wave is a rock formation made out of smooth, precious sandstone. Its unusual shape was formed by water and wind erosion over millions of years.
Due to the ecological sensitivity associated with these rocks, only 20 people are allowed to visit each day. As such, you’ll need to obtain a permit several months in advance, or get lucky with their lottery system during the morning of your visit.
Read next: Top Cabins for Rent in Flagstaff, AZ
25. Monument Valley in Arizona is among the must see places in USA
Monument Valley is such a unique place to visit in the US.
Nestled along the Arizona-Utah border, Monument Valley contains a collection of exotic sandstone towers. Located inside the Navajo Nation Reservation, this valley is treasured for its red jagged rocks and panoramic views.
During the past several decades, Monument Valley has been a popular filming location; hence it’s a very recognizable spot that you’ve likely seen in movies.
26. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming and Montana
Straddling the border of Wyoming and Montana, Yellowstone National Park is one of America’s best known national parks. Inside this natural treasure, you’ll find everything from dense forests and deep canyons to hot springs and geysers.
Yellowstone National Park is also home to a wide range of wildlife, including grizzly bears, bison, and moose. With its diverse geological landscape and wildlife, it’s no wonder that Yellowstone was America’s first national park.
27. Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico
Carlsbad Caverns is not your typical tourist attraction in the southwest US. This national park in New Mexico has over 119 unique caves. Its limestone chambers are embedded beneath the rocky canyons and cacti of the Chihuahuan Desert.
The principal part of the cave is called the Big Room, which extends 4,000 feet (1,220 m) long and 625 feet (191 m) wide. With its expansive limestone walls, Carlsbad Caverns is one of the most unique places to visit in the US.
28. Moab, Utah
For more fun places to visit in the US, check out the red rock paradise of Moab, Utah! This desert oasis is a playground for adventurers and a haven for those seeking thrills and serenity in equal measure. Moab is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts, offering activities that will leave you breathless and yearning for more.
What makes Moab one of the unique vacations in USA
Saddle up and explore the otherworldly landscapes of Arches National Park, where gravity-defying sandstone formations emerge like works of art sculpted by the wind and time itself. Embark on exhilarating hikes and witness the fiery glow of the sunset casting its magical spell over the red rock wonderland.
For the adrenaline junkies, mountain biking through the slickrock trails of the famed Slickrock Bike Trail is an absolute must. Channel your inner daredevil as you navigate the undulating terrain, feeling the rush of wind and adrenaline coursing through your veins.
But it’s not just about the heart-pounding adventures in Moab; there’s a serene side too. Take a leisurely float down the Colorado River, where the tranquil waters mirror the towering cliffs above. Or simply bask in the ethereal beauty of Canyonlands National Park. This is where vast canyons stretch as far as the eye can see, showcasing nature’s grandeur.
Moab is one of the cool places in the US where dusty boots, starry skies, and unforgettable memories await. So, dive into the fiery embrace of this desert wonderland, let your spirit roam wild, and discover the magic that Moab holds. Adventure, tranquility, and a sense of wonder await you in this red rock paradise.
29. Glacier National Park, Montana
Located among Montana’s Rocky Mountains, Glacier National Park is well-known for its glaciated peaks and pristine lakes. Here, you’ll encounter extensive hiking trails that lead to breathtaking glaciers and mountain vistas.
Inside Glacier National Park, you will also find vast wildlife including grizzly bears, mountain goats, and over 1,000 plant species. As such, this park is considered one of the most beautiful places in the US.
30. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Looking to visit one of the coolest places in the US that doesn’t draw crazy crowds? Grand Teton National Park is definitely up there!
The Tetons are home to dramatic mountains, alpine lakes, and dense forests packed with wildlife. It’s a lesser known national park, especially when compared to nearby Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. And that’s what makes it so magical!
Why are the Tetons among the cool places to visit in the US
At Grand Teton National Park, you’ll have lots of space for outdoor adventures. Hike one of the 47 hard trails in the Tetons, ranging from 5 miles to over 50 miles, or do something a bit easier with an equal pay off. Some of my favorite hikes include those to Taggart Lake and Delta Lake, the latter being around 10 miles roundtrip. Beautiful sunrise spots include Schwabacher Landing and Mormon Row. Whether you’re an experienced backpacker or a novice hiker, there’s truly something for everyone here.
During a visit to the Tetons, be sure to stay either in Jackson Hole or Teton Village in Wyoming. Both are absolutely stunning, and you’ll have a variety of cool restaurants and accommodations to choose from.
With a unique ecosystem, epic landscapes, and endless hiking trails, Grand Teton National Park is jam-packed with natural beauty. It’s no wonder this national park is among the most unique places to visit in the USA.
31. Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, Colorado
As far as the coolest places to visit in the US go, Colorado truly has it all. Within Colorado’s White River National Forest, you’ll discover the sublime beauty of Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness.
This scenic wilderness is home to over 100 miles of hiking trails and 6 peaks higher than 14,000 feet (4,267 m). You’ll also find several alpine lakes and meadows of wildflowers.
Just 12 miles from Aspen, Maroon Bells is one of the most photographed places in Colorado, and the country as a whole.
32. White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
Located in New Mexico just 70 miles north of El Paso, Texas, is the White Sands National Monument. Inside the park, you’ll uncover exotic white sand dunes that you’d expect to find in a beach rather than a remote desert.
Interestingly, the sand dunes get their white color and soft texture from gypsum crystals, which are a special sulfate mineral. The White Sands National Monument is the largest gypsum dune field in the world. It’s also one of the most amazing places to visit in the US.
33. Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Badlands National Park is known for its rugged rock formations and sharply sloping canyons. Its vibrant spires and pinnacles were formed by extreme wind and water erosion.
In addition to its intriguing geological formations, Badlands National Park is also a magnet for ancient fossils. Beneath the soil, paleontologists have unearthed the remains of rhinoceroses, camels, and saber-tooth cats.
Given its unconventional landscape and scientific significance, Badlands National Park is one of the most unique places to visit in the US.
34. Hamilton Pool Preserve, Texas is one of the best places in the USA
Just under two hours from San Antonio is an amazing oasis tucked in nature.
Hamilton Pool Preserve is a green natural pool that is fed by a 50-foot (15 m) waterfall. This pool was formerly an underground river, until the limestone ceiling collapsed thousands of years ago.
Just 30 miles (48 km) from Austin, the Hamilton Pool Preserve is a popular place for swimming during the summertime. Reservations are required to visit the pool between March and October.
Is the Hamilton Pool Preserve one of the coolest places in the US? Sure is!
Read next: Most Amazing Treehouse Rentals in TX
35. Chicago, Illinois
Looking for an inspiring city to visit? Consider spending some time in Chicago. It’s one of the top places to go in the US for food, architecture, art, and just about everything else.
Chicago is the birthplace of the Ferris Wheel, skyscraper, and house music. It’s also known for its many bridges and for having the “bluest waters in the US” outside of the Caribbean. The Chicago River is incredibly scenic, offering trendy restaurants and a riverfront patio where you can enjoy a glass of wine with a view. From here, you can also go kayaking and take an architecture boat tour around the city.
When visiting Chicago, you won’t want to miss out on the deep-dish pizza that the city is known for. If you’re planning to stay in Illinois, Chicago is truly an obligatory stop. Without doubt, it’s one of the best places to go on vacation in the US.
Read next: Unique Lake House Rentals in Illinois
36. Big Bend National Park, Texas
Big Bend National Park is a natural wonder that lies along the US-Mexico border. Known for its limestone cliffs and river rapids, Big Bend is a stunning spot for sightseeing, hiking, and rafting.
In Big Bend, you can embark on epic hikes through the Chisos Mountains, where ancient peaks and breathtaking vistas will leave you in awe. Discover hidden oases in the desert, where cool springs offer respite from the scorching sun. Don’t forget to witness the sun bidding farewell as it paints the cliffs in hues of gold and crimson during the magical sunset.
For the intrepid explorers, a journey along the Rio Grande will reveal a borderland brimming with life and history. Kayak through the canyon walls, feeling the pulse of the river beneath you and marveling at the sheer beauty that surrounds you.
And at night, when the world falls silent, gaze upward and be mesmerized by the dazzling display of stars that blanket the desert sky. The remoteness of Big Bend allows for some of the darkest and most awe-inspiring stargazing experiences.
The Rio Grande juts through the park, contributing to its diverse ecosystem. This park is home to over 1,200 plant species and 500 animal species.
37. Atchafalaya Basin, Louisiana
The Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana is the largest swamp in the US, with over 1.4 million acres of marshland. It’s even larger than Everglades National Park in Florida.
The Atchafalaya Basin spans 150 miles (241 km) from the Mississippi River Valley to the Gulf of Mexico. This wetland is home to diverse wildlife, including black bears, alligators, roseate spoonbills (resembling flamingos), and cypress trees.
38. Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin
Is this National Lakeshore one of the coolest places to visit in the US? Probably.
Tucked in northern Wisconsin, the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is the crown jewel of Lake Superior, America’s largest lake. It’s definitely one of the most unique sights in the US. Be sure to stay in a Wisconsin lake house rental for the quintessential experience!
This lakeshore consists of 21 islands and 12 miles of coastline. The Apostle Islands were formed by glaciers that once covered this northern territory.
Along its scenic shores, you’ll find sandy beaches, sea caves, and old lighthouses. You may also stumble upon a variety of animal habitats. The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is home to whitetail deer, red fox, black bears, and woodchucks.
39. New River Gorge, West Virginia
Meet America’s newest national park, the New River Gorge. It’s located in West Virginia and is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the United States. The hiking, biking, whitewater rafting, and climbing is among the best you’ll find on the East Coast.
What makes the New River Gorge special is the history and geology. It’s home to one of the oldest rivers in the world and the largest intact temperate forest. There is also a 750-ft. drop off to the canyon floor, where you’ll encounter whitewater rapids.
With over 70,000 acres of scenic forests, the gorge is a must-see in the Appalachian Mountains. Between the dramatic, 3,000-ft steel arch bridge and the boundless plant and animal species, there is plenty to see and do here to justify a visit the Mountain State.
It’s no wonder, then, that The New River Gorge is among the best nature vacations in the USA.
Read next: Coziest Cabin Rentals in West Virginia
40. Smoky Mountains, Tennessee and North Carolina
Attracting 11 million visitors last year, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park. This nearly doubles the number of tourists who visited the Grand Canyon, America’s second most visited national park. It’s a must see place in the USA, especially when you’re in Tennessee!
Its name (“smoky”) was coined after the fog that frequently covers the mountain range, caused by chemical vapors from vegetation.
Perched in the mountains, this national park is a popular destination for hiking and camping. Surprisingly, the Smoky Mountains are a haven for 30 salamander species, and is widely considered the “Salamander Capital of the World.” Fun fact. Be sure to stay in either Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge, resort towns just outside of the park. Staying in this part of Tennessee is a must for nature lovers.
Is this one of the cool places to visit in the US? 100%!
Read next: Most Amazing Lake Houses in Tennessee
41. Turnip Rock, Michigan is among the coolest places in the US
Turnip Rock is a rock formation in Michigan that straddles the shores of Lake Huron. It’s definitely one of the most unique travel destinations in the USA.
Turnip Rock is bordered by private lakefront property; hence the rock is only accessible by kayak or boat. As you’d probably expect, it’s a very popular spot for kayaking and Instagramming, particularly during the summer. Be sure to stay in a cozy cabin or cottage in Michigan with such a mesmerizing view!
There are also sea caves nearby that offer a similarly satisfying photo opportunity.
As you can see below, the top of Turnip Rock is much larger than its base, due to erosion from the waves. With its unique appearance and serene setting, Turnip Rock merits a spot among the most beautiful places to visit in the US.
42. Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida
Located in the Gulf of Mexico, Dry Tortugas National Park is a cluster of 7 islands and protected coral reefs. Dry Tortugas is the westernmost part of the Florida Keys, and definitely one of the top places to visit in Southern Florida.
This archipelago is home to exotic fish, coral reefs, and shipwrecks. It is also home to Fort Jefferson, the largest brick structure in the US.
Given that the islands are only accessible by seaplane or boat, the park only attracts around 60,000 visitors each year. Together with the Florida Everglades, Dry Tortugas National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
If you’re planning to visit Miami, it’s definitely worth making the trek to the Florida Keys. The Overseas Highway offers stunning coastal views, and you can easily check off Dry Tortugas National Park in the same trip!
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43. Blue Ridge Mountains, Georgia + North Carolina
If there’s one part of the Blue Ridge Mountains that you need to see, it’s the Blue Ridge Parkway. This is the longest scenic parkway in the US, extending over 469 miles through North Carolina and Virginia. From here, you’ll be able to visit two national parks: Shenandoah National Park and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. An amazing home base is Asheville, a city known for its craft beer scene and impressive architecture.
The Blue Ridge Mountains are scenic during all times of the year, but fall is the best time to go. Be sure to pair your trip to the Blue Ridge with a visit to Maggie Valley, a top mountain resort town in the region. Leaf peeping along the Blue Ridge Parkway is a must, and you’ll quickly see why it’s among the coolest and most unique places to visit in the US!
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44. The Poconos, Pennsylvania
Nature lovers will love this fun place to visit in the US. Located in Pennsylvania, the Poconos is a beautiful nature area filled with mountains, lakes, and valleys. It’s a popular place for hiking in the summer, leaf peeping in the fall, and skiing in the winter.
Take in spectacular landscapes such as Bushkill Falls. Spend afternoons on the lake as you go fishing, canoeing, or parasailing. It’s easy to see why the Poconos are among these must see places to in USA.
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45. Deep Creek Lake, Maryland
Looking for a four-season destination on the East Coast? Deep Creek Lake in Maryland is one of the most beautiful places imaginable.
Set in the lush forests of Western Maryland, Deep Creek Lake is a popular spot for adventure lovers. It’s home to one mile of shoreline, ideal for swimming, boating, rafting, camping, hiking, fishing, and so much more. In the fall, the region comes alive with fall festivals and endless red, orange, and yellow leaves. And in the winter, you’re just a short drive to some amazing ski resorts in the area.
Deep Creek Lake is just a few hours from Washington DC and Baltimore, but it feels worlds apart with its endless outdoor adventures. If you’re keen on visiting Maryland, definitely add Deep Creek Lake to your USA wish list!
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46. Niagara Falls, New York
Niagara Falls is a group of three massive, raging waterfalls that lie on the New York-Canada border. The most powerful of the three is Horseshoe Falls, which touches both countries.
Niagara Falls is one of the most beautiful and iconic in the world. The falls have the highest flow rate in North America, making it a reliable source of hydroelectric power.
To fully soak in these powerful falls, take a boat tour on the Maid of the Mist. It’s one of the top things to do in Upstate New York.
While you’re at it, I also recommend checking out Buffalo, NY, which is located on the Niagara Frontier. This hidden gem in Western New York will blow your mind! The Finger Lakes, which are also nearby, is worthy of a visit (particularly for wine lovers!)
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47. Lake Willoughby, Vermont
The Northeast Kingdom of Vermont is among the most unique vacation destinations in the US. The whole region is a highlight, but the star of the show is undoubtedly Lake Willoughby.
Located just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Canada, Lake Willoughby is a great place to visit anytime of year. The epic mountains surrounding the lake look like they belong in Norway; it’s truly a sight to behold.
Lake Willoughby is a popular spot for swimming, hiking, boating, and fishing during the summer, leaf peeping in the fall, and skiing in the winter. Hiking to the top of Mt. Pisgah offers some of the best views in all of New England. I love visiting here during the peak fall foliage season when you look out onto a sea of colorful leaves. It’s an unbeatable USA bucket list spot for sure!
Stay at a quintessential New England lake house with views of pristine waters and epic landscapes. Though it takes a while to get to from major cities in the Northeast, it’s 100% worth it for the breathtaking vistas.
As one of the most unique getaways in the USA, Lake Willoughby will truly blow your mind. It’s a must-see when you’re visiting Vermont.
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48. Central Park, New York City
Who else loves NY?
As one of the world’s largest urban parks, Central Park is a stark contrast from the concrete jungle of New York City, the largest city in the US. There are over 58 miles (93 km) of paths throughout the park, so don’t expect to cover its entirety in one visit.
In addition to its tree groves, Central Park also contains the Central Park Zoo and Belvedere Castle, two popular attractions in the city. Central Park offers some much needed breathing room from the bustling streets of Manhattan.
Whether you like scenic city views or spacious parks, you’ll find that Central Park is one of the most beautiful and unique places to visit in the US.
49. Helen, Georgia
Looking to combine nature with a unique cultural experience? Consider a visit to Helen, an alpine village in Northeastern Georgia. It resembles the charming towns of Bavaria with its vibrant architecture, fun festivals, and unique outdoor adventures.
This Bavarian-style town is set in the mountains with views of forests all over. It truly feels like you’ve been transported to Southern Germany with its cobblestone streets, half-timber homes, and authentic German food. It’s not far from the Blue Ridge Mountains, but it sure feels a lot like the Alps.
Take advantage of the incredible drink and dining scene that this town has to offer. Go ziplining and hiking in the mountains. Go tubing down the Chattahoochee River or horseback riding on the riverbank. Helen is definitely worthy of a visit alongside these best vacation spots in the US.
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50. The Berkshires, Massachusetts
Moreover, the Berkshires boasts a mouthwatering farm-to-table dining experience and an intriguing art scene. The Berkshires’ art and culture is on full-display in the Norman Rockwell Museum, Hancock Shaker Village, and Mass MOCA. Stay at a cozy cabin nearby to experience all of this beautiful region. Or, stay at a wellness resort like the Miraval, which offers a totally unique experience.
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51. Stowe, Vermont
Looking to visit one of the most beautiful states in New England? Look no further than Vermont. For the quintessential VT experience, you’ll want to check out Stowe, a small mountain town in the northern part of the state.
In Stowe, the fun continues year-round with skiing in the winter, hiking in the spring and summer, and chasing the fall colors in the autumn. It’s also a great place for apple picking in the fall!
In addition, you’ll want to experience the farm-to-table-dining scene, which is among the best in the country. It won’t be hard to find Austrian style restaurants (and lodging), as this was the town where the Von Trapp Family settled (any Sound of Music fans here?!).
With so much precious scenery and outdoor adventures, it’s no wonder this is among the best places to visit in USA. Definitely add it to your VT bucket list!
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52. Newport, Rhode Island
This coastal city is known for its Gilded Age mansions and miles of epic coastline. The Breakers Mansion is the most iconic landmark of all, but there are countless other estates that deserve a visit.
Newport also has the largest collection of colonial-era homes in the US. This place brims with seaside charm and historical treasures, so be sure to spend at least a weekend soaking in all of it.
53. Cape Cod, Massachusetts is among the must see places in the United States
The Cape is known for its beautiful beaches, quaint fishing towns, top-notch whale watching, and fresh seafood, among other cool things. It’s an immensely popular summer destination, but it’s also worth paying a visit to Cape Cod in the fall when the leaves change color and the crowds are gone. The winter time is also a great time to visit if you prefer less crowds and cheaper hotel prices!
I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Cape in September, and was blown away by the sheer number of fun outdoor activities you can do in the late summer and early fall. From nature walks and bike rides, to near-empty beaches and colorful cranberry bogs, there’s a whole lot you’ll want to see and do here. Cape Cod is big and small at the same time; a place you’ll want to salivate over slowly in order to fully experience the coastal charm. And don’t forget to try the clams, oysters, and lobster rolls, too! This is definitely one of the top places to visit in Massachusetts.
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54. White Mountains, New Hampshire
Fun places to go in the United States come in all forms, and the White Mountains are among the best. This year-round destination in New Hampshire has it all: dramatic mountains, pristine lakes, and endless hiking trails. My favorite time to visit is during the fall when the mountains come alive with vibrant colors, but you can’t go wrong any time of year.
Looking for crazy things to do in the USA? Hike to the top of Mount Washington, known for having the world’s worst weather. The highest recorded wind speed was measured here in 1934 (231 mph). However, during mid-summer, you can enjoy scenic views from the top. Also, consider getting a drink at the Omni Mount Washington Resort, one of the coolest stays in New England. And don’t miss the hiking in Crawford Notch and shopping in North Conway.
For outdoor lovers, the White Mountains are among the most exotic places in the US. Definitely don’t miss a trip here during a New England road trip.
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55. Acadia National Park, Maine
Looking for a romantic getaway tucked in nature? Acadia National Park has got you covered.
It’s mounted on the rocky headlands of the East Coast, with views of unspoiled and seemingly unexplored landscapes.
Acadia is best known for its rugged coastline, granite-covered mountains, and dense woodlands. This majestic park is also home to vast species of birds, fish, and mammals.
In the summer, Acadia National Park is a prime place for camping, hiking, and watersports. During the wintertime, you can go cross-country skiing, ice fishing, and snowmobiling. There are many beautiful coastal towns nearby that you’ll want to explore, including Bar Harbor!
Submersed in natural serenity, Acadia is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and unique travel destinations to visit in the USA. Be sure to stay in a unique Maine cabin rental or lake house for an authentic nature experience!
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Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about cool places to visit in the US
Looking to feed your wanderlust and find more beautiful places in the USA? Here are some popular questions and answers about places to travel in the US.
Where is the most beautiful place in USA?
The United States is a treasure trove of stunning landscapes and breathtaking vistas, making it nearly impossible to crown just one place as the most beautiful. But here are a few unique destinations that will surely make your heart skip a beat.
Let’s start with the untamed beauty of Yosemite National Park. Picture this: colossal granite cliffs soaring into the heavens, waterfalls cascading down with a thunderous roar, and meadows painted in vibrant hues that seem straight out of an artist’s dream. Hiking through Yosemite Valley, surrounded by nature’s grandeur, you’ll understand why it’s often hailed as a piece of paradise on Earth.
If you crave a touch of otherworldly enchantment, set your sights on Bryce Canyon National Park. Here, the forces of nature have sculpted a fantastical realm of delicate arches and towering hoodoos. As the sun dips below the horizon, casting its golden glow upon the hoodoos, you’ll feel like you’ve stumbled upon a secret realm straight out of a fairy tale.
But wait, there’s more! Have you ever dreamed of diving into the crystal-clear turquoise waters of a place so picturesque it could rival any tropical paradise? Look no further than the Florida Keys, a string of stunning islands where time slows down, and worries melt away. It’s truly a slice of heaven on the doorstep of the mainland.
So pack your bags and unleash your adventurous spirit. The most beautiful place in the USA? It’s out there, waiting for you to discover it.
What is the #1 visited vacation spot in the US?
The reigning champion of American vacation spots, the undisputed heavyweight of wanderlust-inducing destinations is the city of Las Vegas. Over 40 million people flock to Las Vegas annually to indulge in its glitz, glamour, and one-of-a-kind experiences.
Cue the bright lights, the vibrant casinos, and the exhilarating energy that pulsates through the Strip. Las Vegas is a place where dreams become reality and inhibitions melt away faster than ice in the desert heat.
Whether you’re seeking a high-stakes poker game, world-class entertainment, or a wild night of revelry, Sin City has it all. Step into a world where time becomes a mere suggestion and where the possibilities are as endless as the desert horizon. Is this the most visited vacation spot in the US? You bet!
What is the most magical place in the US?
Nestled amidst the moss-draped trees of the Pacific Northwest lies a realm straight out of a fairy tale—Olympic National Park. This is easily one of the most magical places in the US, hands down. Here, mystical forests whisper secrets that have been guarded for centuries, and ethereal fog dances through ancient valleys.
Immerse yourself in the lush greenery of the Hoh Rainforest, where emerald ferns and towering trees create a cathedral-like ambiance that will transport you to another realm. Traverse the rugged coastline, where majestic sea stacks rise from the turbulent waves like ancient guardians of an enchanted realm. And as night falls, gaze upon the star-studded sky, free from the intrusion of city lights, and feel the magic of the universe unfold before your eyes. Olympic National Park is the epitome of wonder, where the line between reality and fantasy becomes blurred, and your spirit is set free to roam in the realm of the extraordinary.
Most Unique Places to Visit in the USA
America’s diverse topography makes it a treasure trove of unique and unusual places. From coast to coast, there are so many natural wonders to explore and appreciate.
I hope this list of beautiful places in the US gave you a glimpse of the unique landscapes and attractions throughout the country. Whether you’re interested in a weekend getaway or something much longer, there are countless hidden gems that you’ll need to explore, but this is a great place to start.
How many of these must see places in the USA have you visited so far? Are any of them new to you? I hope you get to visit each of these cool places in the US very soon!
Let me know your favorite spots in the comments below!
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