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50 Best Vacation Spots in the US To Explore in 2024

Updated: April 18, 2024

Written by

AAA Travel Editor, SMS

When it comes to choosing a vacation destination, there are many options in the United States to travel to. From white sand beaches and mountainous regions to big cities, there is a diversity top travel destinations for travelers of all preferences. 

Continue reading to discover the best vacation spots in the U.S. based on the type of trip you’re planning. 

Best Family Vacation Spots in the US

If you’re planning a trip for the whole family, check out these best family vacation spots that both adults and children alike will enjoy! 

1. Orlando, Florida

As the theme park capital of the world, it’s no surprise that Orlando is a top destination for families. In addition to Walt Disney World, the city boasts several other theme parks, including Universal Orlando Resort, Fun Spot America Orlando and LEGOLAND Florida. 

If you need a break from theme parks, consider an educational visit to the Kennedy Space Center to learn about NASA space exploration. Last but not least, spend a day relaxing on one of the white sandy beaches within an hour’s drive of Orlando. 

2. Anaheim, California

While Disneyland Park is the main draw of this California city, there are plenty of other exciting things to do in Anaheim, like visiting pristine beaches and attending sporting events. Knott’s Berry Farm is another local theme park that offers thrilling rides and entertaining shows. 

If you do want to visit Disneyland, look into the best time to visit based on your preferences. While some months bring fewer crowds, other times of the year bring better weather. 

3. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

With no shortage of activities, a visit to this coastal city makes for an unforgettable family trip. Things to do in Myrtle Beach include riding the towering SkyWheel, a game of mini golf and exciting water sports. The most popular attraction is WonderWorks—an educational amusement park with hands-on exhibits, ropes courses and laser tag. 

Make sure to spend a day relaxing on the beach and wind down with a nice family dinner at any of the waterfront restaurants in Murrells Inlet. 

4. Washington, D.C.

A visit to the nation’s capital makes for an enjoyable trip for kids and parents alike. With 19 free Smithsonian museums to choose from in addition to the National Zoological Park, you can rest assured that you won’t run out of budget-friendly things to do in Washington, D.C. The most kid-friendly of the museums are the National Museum of Natural History, National Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of Natural History. 

Other activities include catching a sporting event, visiting the memorials and relaxing in Georgetown Waterfront Park. Consider planning your trip to Washington, D.C. in late March or early April to catch a glimpse of the cherry blossoms in bloom. 

5. San Diego, California

San Diego is known for its amazing weather, stunning beaches and exciting attractions. While it’s no surprise that this is an amazing destination for adults, there are plenty of fun things to do with your entire family. 

Immerse yourselves in nature and spend time watching the sea lions at La Jolla Cove and riding bikes around Coronado Island. Or, drive 30 minutes to LEGOLAND to enjoy the rides and shows at the park. If you have little animal lovers, you won’t want to miss out on a visit to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. 

6. Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Gatlinburg is a perfect destination for those looking to breathe in fresh mountain air during their vacation. In addition to the hiking trails and breathtaking views, Gatlinburg also offers plenty of family-friendly places to go to keep the whole family entertained. 

Spend time at the museums, aquariums and water parks located in the mountain town. And don’t forget to take a day trip to nearby Pigeon Forge to visit the infamous Dollywood amusement park. 

7. Williamsburg, Virginia

Step back in time with a visit to historic Williamsburg. The city’s main draw is Colonial Williamsburg—the largest living history museum in the world. Here, your family can interact with actors that portray historical figures such as tradesmen, farmers and officers. Experiences include musket demonstrations, apothecary workshops and performances.

Williamsburg is also home to the world-class theme park Busch Gardens Williamsburg. The park is separated into areas based on regions in Europe, where you will find delicious food, thrilling rides and entertaining shows inspired by each country. Have a beer in the Oktoberfest area of the park, then head to the Fiesta Italia section to ride the Roman Rapids white-water rafting adventure. 

8. Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Dubbed the “Waterpark Capital of the World,” Wisconsin Dells is a fantastic vacation destination. With indoor and outdoor waterparks to choose from, you can splash and play during every season. Whether you spend your days floating in the lazy rivers or experiencing the thrills of the waterslides, you’re sure to have a blast with your whole family. 

Beyond the waterparks, you will also find plenty of family-friendly tours to explore the historic city, including a trolley tour and riding a Segway. 

9. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

A visit to Yellowstone National Park gives your family the unique opportunity to explore one of the country’s most renowned wilderness regions. Things to do in the park include witnessing the geysers erupt, hiking beautiful trails and exploring Yellowstone Lake. Not to mention, seeing wild bison, elk and goats in their natural habitats will help foster your children’s appreciation for wildlife. Your family is sure to treasure this visit for years to come. 

10. Branson, Missouri

Situated in the Ozark Mountains, Branson offers something for everyone. Most notably, the city offers a wide variety of live entertainment, including concerts, comedy shows, magic acts and performances geared specifically for children. Or, venture off the beaten path and go fishing at Table Rock Lake and zipline across the Ozarks for a thrilling adventure. 

Best Summer Vacation Spots in the U.S.

Planning your trip for the summertime? Consider visiting these destinations in June, July and August. 

11. Portland, Oregon

If you visit Portland during the summertime, you’ll see first-hand why it’s known as the "City of Roses." The International Rose Test Garden typically blooms from late spring to early fall, with over 10,000 rose bushes of various colors. 

If you’re looking for non-touristy things to do in Portland, consider checking out the city’s other beautiful parks, such as Forest Park, Lan Su Chinese Garden or Mount Tabor Park. Beyond the outdoor spaces, the city offers plenty of local shopping, festivals, restaurants and nightlife to keep you entertained throughout your trip. 

12. Seattle, Washington

Summer is the perfect time to vacation in Seattle. During this season, things to do in Seattle include relaxing at the beach, hiking mountain trails, whale watching and enjoying a picnic in the park. You’ll also find that the weather is warm without being too hot, and many days are sunny. This provides the best views of Mt. Rainier, which can often be hard to see beyond the fog. 

13. Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

Watch your worries sail away when you step foot on Martha’s Vineyard. This island comes to life in the summertime with its amazing weather, beautiful beaches and charming villages. From the gentle shores of Menemsha Public Beach to the roaring surf of Katama Beach, you’ll find your haven no matter what type of beachgoer you are. 

14. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon is truly a sight to behold. Here, you will find scenic hiking trails, interesting rock formations and stunning viewpoints. 

Just a stone’s throw from the canyon, you will find Lake Powell, the perfect place to cool off after a long day of exploring. If you prefer an active and outdoorsy summer vacation, a visit to Grand Canyon National Park will be right up your alley! 

15. Traverse City, Michigan

Situated along Lake Michigan, Traverse City is known for its scenic lakeshores where you can spend your days taking in the views from the sandy beach or partaking in watersports. Spend your afternoons at one of the award-winning vineyards in the area where you can taste test delicious wines. 

A fun fact about the area is that the town is nicknamed the "Cherry Capital of the World" due to the region producing almost half of the nation’s tart cherries. During your vacation, consider going cherry-picking and trying some delicious cherry pie. 

16. Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe provides visitors with natural landscapes and rich culture. You’ll find Pueblo-style homes, shopping markets, museums and historic sites. When you visit during the summertime, you’ll likely have the opportunity to attend one of the city’s many festivals and events. 

Sante Fe also serves as a great base for those wanting to explore the many hiking trails and canyons in the area. Thompson Peak is over 10,000 feet above sea level and provides picturesque landscape views.  

17. Olympic National Park, Washington

Olympic National Park is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes the United States offers. From breathtaking mountain peaks to dense rainforests, the ecosystems are truly a sight to behold. Other attractions in Olympic National Park include Sol Duc Hot Springs, Lake Crescent and Hurricane Ridge.  

18. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Situated off the coast of South Carolina, Hilton Head Island boasts 12 miles of white sand beach. Here, you can ride bikes along the shoreline or look for seashells in the sand. Make sure to spend a day on the water kayaking, fishing or going for a sunset cruise. 

The island is also known for its world-class golf courses. Most notably, Harbour Town Golf Links is a PGA TOUR course recognized by its iconic red and white striped lighthouse. 

19. Tybee Island, Georgia

A barrier island near Savannah, GA, Tybee Island is a great place to spend your summer vacation. In addition to lounging on the beach and partaking in water sports, you can also visit historical sites such as the Tybee Island Light Station and Museum and Fort Pulaski National Monument. 

20. Big Sur, California

Big Sur is a mountainous region of California’s coastline recognized by its stunning cliffs that overlook the Pacific Ocean. With a wide variety of recreational activities, the area stands out as a top vacation destination for those who enjoy the outdoors. Spend your days hiking through the redwood forests, exploring local waterfalls and visiting picturesque beaches. Make sure to stop by the must-see landmarks in the area, including the Bixby Creek Bridge and Point Sur Lighthouse.  

While Big Sur enjoys sunny weather most of the year, you’ll enjoy the warmest temperatures if you visit during the summer. 

Best Vacation Spots in the US for Couples

Planning a romantic getaway? Whether you’re embarking on your honeymoon or celebrating an anniversary, here are the top U.S. destinations where love is in the air!

21. Napa Valley, California

Napa Valley is known for its hundreds of renowned vineyards. Here, couples can enjoy wine tasting while gazing at immaculate views of the rolling hills. You and your loved one can dine in award-winning restaurants and relax in luxury spas. With pleasant weather most of the year, Napa Valley makes for an enjoyable retreat no matter the season. 

22. Charleston, South Carolina

Nicknamed "The Holy City," Charleston is recognized by its charming cobblestone streets, colorful homes and rich history. If you’re wondering what to do in Charleston during your couple’s getaway, consider taking a romantic stroll along Waterfront Park and planning a date night at one of the city’s award-winning restaurants. Make sure to stop at a sweets shop to try a praline—a delicious Southern dessert handmade in Charleston. 

Plan a day to relax at one of the nearby white sand beaches and enjoy time with your loved one among the beautiful Palmetto trees. 

23. Aspen, Colorado

While many think of Aspen as a ski resort town, it actually makes for a perfect getaway during all seasons. Hit the slopes with your loved one in the winter, or break out your hiking boots in the warmer months. Conclude your days cuddling by the fireplace or strolling in the picturesque downtown area. 

24. Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada

Located on the border of California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is known for its picture-perfect natural scenery and exciting activities. If you visit during the colder months, the area looks like a winter wonderland ideal for skiing and snowboarding. Meanwhile, the summer months provide ample opportunity to visit the stunning beaches and paddleboard on the crystal clear water. 

Set aside time to unwind and enjoy quality time with your partner. Date ideas include booking a couple’s massage, a sunset cruise or admiring the views from above in a helicopter. 

25. Savannah, Georgia

With live oak trees adorning the cobblestone streets, this Lowcountry city is an enchanting destination for couples. Tour the historic district and appreciate the exquisite architecture, quaint shops and educational museums. Don’t forget to indulge in some delicious Southern cooking before you head home. 

26. Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Lake Geneva is a picturesque town situated on a glistening lake in the Wisconsin countryside. From ziplining to romantic hot-air balloon rides, there’s no shortage of activities to partake in. Following your adventure, unwind at one of the luxurious day spas in the area. 

27. Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

Carmel-by-the-Sea is known for its charming cottages and stunning coastline. This scenery creates the perfect atmosphere for a romantic getaway. Engage in some rest and relaxation on the white sand beaches, then visit the village for a wine tasting or to explore an art gallery. With its amazing views and fairytale architecture, this small town is the perfect place to spend some quality time together. 

28. New Orleans, Louisiana

If you’re seeking a blend of rich culture and romance, look no further than New Orleans. Visit the vibrant French Quarter to listen to jazz music, try Creole cuisine and treat yourselves to some delicious beignets. 

For couples seeking adventure, consider going on a swamp excursion in the Bayous of Louisiana. Here, you’ll see alligators and other wildlife in their natural habitat. 

29. Key West, Florida

Key West, the southernmost point in the U.S., is one of the idyllic islands that make up the Florida Keys. The romantic backdrop of white sand beaches and turquoise blue waters sets the scene for a dreamy getaway. In addition to laying out on the beach, couples can stroll through Old Town, admiring the historic architecture and coastal charm. End your days enjoying fresh seafood and dancing to live music.  

30. Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Cape Cod, or "The Cape," as locals call it, is a peninsula that extends into the ocean from Massachusetts. The Cape comprises 15 villages that each have their own unique charm. Whether you spend a week here or take a short day trip from Boston, Cape Cod is a delightful place to connect with your loved one. 

Best Beach Vacation Spots in the US

If a vacation isn’t a vacation unless your toes hit the sand, here are some destinations to consider for your next getaway.

31. Hawaii

The ultimate vacation destination in the U.S., Hawaii is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The blue waves and powdery beaches will instantly make you feel at ease. While Oahu is the most popular, you can stay on any of the six islands open to visitors. With warm weather year-round, feel free to plan your trip for any season you choose. 

Note: O’ahu, the third-largest and most-visited Hawaiian island, is open for tourism, but check ahead for current conditions if traveling to Maui. At a press conference on Aug. 22, 2023, Gov. Josh Green and the Hawai’i Tourism Authority said West Maui is closed to the public, though visits to Kahului, Wailuku, Kīhei, Wailea, Mākena, Pāʻia and Hāna are welcome, as is travel to the other Hawaiian Islands — Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Lānaʻi, Molokaʻi and Hawaiʻi Island. For now, officials say to avoid Lahaina, Nāpili, Kāʻanapali and Kapalua due to the Aug. 8 wildfire; at least 114 people died and thousands have been displaced. To donate, AAA recommends supporting the following organizations:

32. Miami Beach, Florida

Known for its crystal blue waters and vibrant culture, a visit to Miami Beach makes for a fun-filled vacation. With warm weather year-round, you can spend your days basking in the sun and taking a dip in the water. Beyond the beach, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Miami Beach, including visiting the iconic Art Deco Historic District, enjoying the culinary scene and partaking in the energetic nightlife. 

33. Santa Monica, California

Santa Monica is a California city best known for its iconic pier that stretches above the Pacific Ocean. This beach town provides everything you need for a pleasant beach vacation. When you’re not tanning on the beach, spend time shopping, watching street performers and riding the postcard-perfect Ferris wheel. 

34. Outer Banks, North Carolina

A chain of barrier islands nestled off the coast of North Carolina, the Outer Banks offer an amazing beach escape. With over 100 miles of shoreline, you can sun tan, surf and watch the sunrise over the water. Popular towns to visit include Corolla, Duck and Kitty Hawk. From dining at delicious seafood restaurants to shopping at charming boutiques, you won’t run out of activities to enjoy in these seaside villages. 

35. Cannon Beach, Oregon

Home to the infamous Haystack Rock landmark, Cannon Beach is a perfect destination for those who want a picturesque backdrop to their coastal vacation. Beyond the sandy beach, you will find art galleries, breweries and surf shops in the quaint city. 

36. Destin, Florida

Situated on the Gulf of Mexico, Destin is a seaside city best known for its teal waters and white sand beaches. Here, there are a variety of activities to partake in, like snorkeling, paddleboarding, jet skiing and fishing. Stroll the Destin Harbor Boardwalk to enjoy live entertainment and dine at waterfront restaurants. 

37. Malibu, California

Malibu is a coastal California city with a relaxed yet upscale vibe. You can expect to find gorgeous scenery, luxurious homes and ideal surfing conditions—plus, you might even spot a celebrity!

38. Siesta Key, Florida

A barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico, Siesta Key is best known for its white quartz sand beaches and emerald green water. While you’ll spend most of your time soaking in the sun, the town also offers plenty of beach bars, shops and restaurants. 

39. Coronado Beach, California

With a backdrop of golden sand and the iconic Hotel del Coronado, this quaint island is a serene destination for a beach getaway. Spend your vacation crafting sandcastles, surfing or biking around the island. From its relaxing ambiance to its upscale amenities, this is an amazing destination to create lasting memories. 

40. Clearwater Beach, Florida

As the name suggests, Clearwater Beach is known for its crystal clear waters and soft sand. Activities to enjoy here include parasailing above the ocean, paddle boarding on the calm waters and swimming with dolphins. One of the best things to do with friends in Clearwater is rent a cabana on the beach to create your own oasis. 

Best Winter Vacation Spots in the US

If you’re planning your vacation for the winter, consider these destinations that transform into winter wonderlands in the colder months. 

41. Mammoth Lakes, California

Situated in the Sierra Nevada mountains, Mammoth Lakes offers outstanding skiing and snowboarding opportunities. Beyond the winter sports, you can explore natural wonders like the Devils Postpile National Monument. 

In Mammoth Lakes, you will find award-winning dining, plenty of shopping and even a high-end bowling alley to keep you entertained throughout your trip. 

 

42. Vail, Colorado

As one of the most renowned winter sports towns, it should come as no surprise that Vail is among the best winter vacation spots in the U.S. With over 3,000 acres of diverse terrain and about 250 inches of snowfall per year, Vail is the perfect place to enjoy world-class skiing and snowboarding. Meanwhile, the town of Vail boasts European-style architecture that will make you feel like you’re in a Bavarian village instead of Colorado.  

43. Park City, Utah

Beginning in mid-November, winter sports enthusiasts flock to Park City and its world-class skiing and snowboarding resorts. You can also participate in other thrilling activities here, including snowshoeing, snowmobiling and bobsled rides at the Utah Olympic Park.

Downtown Park City is known for its vibrant après-ski scene on the historic Main Street lined with award-winning restaurants, bars and music venues. 

44. Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Nestled in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, Jackson Hole is known for its three world-class ski resorts—Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Snow King Mountain and Grand Targhee Resort. In the rustic town, visitors can stroll down the wooden boardwalks and stop at saloon-style bars and restaurants. 

45. Stowe, Vermont

The quaint, New England town of Stowe boasts some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the northeast. Composed of both Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak, Stowe Mountain Resort has over 100 nicely groomed trails for skiers and snowboarders. Beyond the slopes, other winter activities include a scenic gondola ride, ice skating and fat biking. 

In the charming town, you will find top attractions like the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum, Emily’s Bridge and Smugglers Notch. 

 

46. Whitefish, Montana

When you visit Whitefish in the wintertime, you will be greeted with snow-covered mountains and glacial valleys. Here, you can partake in skiing and snowboarding as well as local activities like snowshoeing and dog sledding. The town is also a stone’s throw from Glacier National Park, often referred to as the "Crown of the Continent" due to its immense natural beauty. 

47. North Conway, New Hampshire

North Conway is one of the best winter vacation spots in the U.S. thanks to its myriad of recreational activities, including skiing, snowboarding, mountain coasters, snow tubing and sleigh rides. Located in the White Mountains, the town boasts close proximity to Attitash Mountain Resort, Bretton Woods and Cranmore Mountain Resort, among others. Meanwhile, foodies and shopaholics alike will enjoy the town of North Conway with its countless boutiques, antique shops and eateries. 

48. Lake Placid, New York

Situated in the Adirondacks, Lake Placid is a quaint village most well-known as a venue of the Winter Olympics. Here, you can discover Olympic Legacy Sites across the area. Whether you ski down the infamous slopes of Whiteface Mountain or skate across the historic Oval, you’re sure to have an activity-filled winter vacation. Not to mention, the serene backdrop of Lake Placid creates a relaxing ambience sure to put you into vacation mode. 

49. Taos, New Mexico

Taos offers exceptional downhill skiing and snowboarding in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Taos Ski Valley Resort boasts over 100 trails and receives over 300 inches of snowfall annually. 

This town is also known for its historic adobe architecture and Native American culture. It is home to Taos Pueblo—an ancient Native American community and World Heritage Site. Another interesting landmark in the area is the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, which is among the highest bridges in the U.S. 

50. Sun Valley, Idaho

In the winter, Sun Valley transforms into a winter oasis that looks right out of a snowglobe. The town near both Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain, which offer pristine skiing conditions. 

The resort town is home to cozy bookstores, luxurious spas and local breweries. Before heading home, take time to relax in the area’s natural hot springs, which stay warm year-round. 

Plan Your Vacation With AAA

Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly beach trip or a romantic winter getaway, there are plenty of amazing destinations right here in the U.S. to choose from. Ready to book your vacation? Visit your local AAA travel office or book online with Trip Canvas. AAA members will receive discounted hotels, rental cars and more!

Written by

AAA Travel Editor, SMS

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