Best Summer Vacation Destinations in the US: Top Picks for 2023
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Summer vacation is a time to relax, unwind, and explore new destinations. With so many beautiful places to visit in the United States, it can be overwhelming to decide where to go. From national parks to beaches and cities, your choice will depend on the type of traveler you are and what you want to do on vacation.
When it comes to summer vacation destinations in the US, there are a few places that stand out. For those who love the great outdoors, national parks like Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and the Grand Canyon offer breathtaking scenery and endless opportunities for hiking, camping, and wildlife watching. Beach lovers can head to San Diego or Maui for sun, sand, and surf. Meanwhile, city lovers can explore the vibrant culture and nightlife of places like New York City, Los Angeles, or Chicago.
Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or a little bit of both, there is a summer vacation destination in the US that is perfect for you. With careful planning and research, you can find the ideal spot to make lasting memories with family and friends.
Cheap Outdoor Summer Destinations in the US
Summer is the perfect time to explore the great outdoors and enjoy the warm weather. The United States is home to a wide range of destinations that won’t kill your account. Beaches to national parks and lakes are all great options for a less expensive summer vacation destination.
The US has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and they are perfect for a summer vacation. A week at the beach is about the most relaxing summer vacation there is. Some of the best beaches in the US include:
- Hawaii: Hawaii is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The beaches on the islands of Maui and Kauai are particularly stunning.
- Florida: Florida is known for its white sandy beaches and warm weather. Some of the best beaches in the state include Clearwater Beach, South Beach, and Siesta Key. Here are some of the best beaches in Florida!
- California: California has some of the most iconic beaches in the US, including Santa Monica Beach, Venice Beach, and Laguna Beach.
- Cape Cod, Massachusetts: If you want the most beautiful beaches in the Northeast, Cape Cod has them. In addition to beautiful beaches they have some spectacular kettle ponds that make fore great swimming too.
For more information on the best beaches in California for families and the best beaches on the East Coast click the links!
National parks are a great way to experience the natural beauty of the US. They offer a variety of activities, including hiking, camping, and wildlife watching. Some of the best national parks to visit in the summer include:
- Yellowstone National Park: Yellowstone is one of the most popular national parks in the US. It is home to a variety of wildlife, including grizzly bears, wolves, and bison.
- Grand Canyon National Park: The Grand Canyon is one of the most iconic natural wonders in the world. The park offers a variety of activities, including hiking, rafting, and camping.
- Acadia National Park: Acadia National Park is the largest National Park on the East Coast and is worth a visit this summer. Endless hiking, lakes, and camping available.
- Glacier National Park: Glacier National Park is known for its stunning scenery, including glaciers, lakes, and mountains. It is a great place to go hiking and wildlife watching.
Lake Vacations in the US
Lakes are a great place to cool off during the summer months. They offer a variety of activities, including swimming, boating, and fishing. Some of the best lakes to visit in the US include:
- Lake Tahoe: Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful lakes in the US. It is located on the border of California and Nevada and offers a variety of activities, including hiking, swimming, and boating.
- Lake Michigan: Lake Michigan is one of the largest lakes in the US and offers a variety of activities, including fishing, boating, and swimming.
- Crater Lake: Crater Lake is located in Oregon and is known for its crystal-clear blue water. It is a great place to go hiking and wildlife watching.
Overall, the US has a wide range of destinations to choose from for a summer vacation. Whether you are looking for a beach vacation, a national park adventure, or a relaxing time by the lake, there is something for everyone.
The United States is home to numerous historic destinations that offer a glimpse into the country’s rich past. If you have school age kids these are great options as ways to help you kids learn to understand and love history.
From the East Coast to the West Coast, there are plenty of places to explore. Here are a few historic destinations that are worth visiting during the summer:
Massachusetts is a state that is steeped in history. The city of Salem, for example, is known for its infamous witch trials that took place in the late 1600s. Visitors can explore the Salem Witch Museum and the Witch House, which was once the home of Judge Jonathan Corwin, who presided over the trials.
Another must-visit destination in Massachusetts is Plymouth, which is where the Pilgrims first landed in 1620. Visitors can see Plymouth Rock, which is said to be the spot where the Pilgrims first stepped ashore. The Plimoth Plantation is also worth a visit, as it is a living history museum that recreates life in the 17th century.
Virginia is another state with a deep history and many must-visit destinations.
For example, the Jamestown Settlement in Williamsburg focuses on the first permanent English settlement in North America, which was established in 1607. The Yorktown Battlefield is also worth a visit – it’s where the final major battle of the Revolutionary War took place, leading to American independence from Great Britain.
There are also several other historical sites throughout Virginia, including Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello estate and Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home.
If you visit Virginia you can also visit nearby Washington DC. and enjoy all the Smithsonian museums.
California is home to a number of historic sites that offer opportunities to explore the state’s past.
Mission San Juan Capistrano, for example, was founded by Spanish missionaries in 1776 and served as an important stop on El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro – a route connecting Mexico City and Santa Fe, New Mexico. There are also several other missions throughout California that are worth visiting, such as Mission Santa Inés and Mission San Luis Rey de Francia. For those interested in natural history, Yosemite National Park is a must-visit destination.
In Downtown Los Angles you can visit you can visit the oldest street in LA, Olvera Street. It was originally established in 1877 and has been the epicenter of LA’s Latino culture ever since.
Hiking and Wilderness
For those seeking an adventurous summer vacation, the US is home to some of the most breathtaking hiking trails in the world. From the rugged peaks of Glacier National Park to the geothermal wonders of Yellowstone National Park, there is no shortage of options for outdoor enthusiasts.
Glacier National Park
Located in Montana, Glacier National Park is a hiker’s paradise. With over 700 miles of trails, visitors can explore alpine meadows, crystal-clear lakes, and towering peaks. The park’s most famous trail is the Highline Trail, which offers stunning views of the Continental Divide. For a more challenging hike, visitors can tackle the Grinnell Glacier Trail, which rewards hikers with panoramic views of the park’s glaciers.
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is a must-visit destination for any hiking enthusiast. The park boasts over 1,000 miles of hiking trails, ranging from easy strolls to challenging multi-day treks. One of the most popular trails is the Upper Geyser Basin Trail, which takes visitors past some of the park’s most famous geysers, including Old Faithful. For a more secluded experience, visitors can explore the park’s backcountry trails, which offer stunning views of the park’s rugged wilderness.
Zion National Park
Located in Utah, Zion National Park is a hiker’s paradise. The park’s most famous trail is the Narrows, which takes hikers through a stunning slot canyon. For a more challenging hike, visitors can tackle the Angels Landing Trail, which offers panoramic views of the park’s red rock formations. The park also offers a variety of backcountry trails, which allow visitors to explore the park’s rugged wilderness.
The road trip from Salt Lake City to Zion National Park is one that will take you through all kinds of beautiful natural vistas so make sure to take your time on the way down to Zion
Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just starting out, the US has something to offer everyone. From the rugged peaks of Glacier National Park to the geothermal wonders of Yellowstone National Park, there is no shortage of options for outdoor enthusiasts. So grab your hiking boots and hit the trails!
Waterfalls and Scenery
The United States is home to some of the most stunning waterfalls and scenery in the world. From the Pacific Northwest to the Grand Canyon, there are countless destinations to explore. Here are a few must-see spots for those looking to experience the beauty of nature.
Oregon is known for its lush forests, rugged coastline, and stunning waterfalls. One of the most popular destinations is Multnomah Falls, which stands at an impressive 620 feet tall. Visitors can take a short hike to the top of the falls for a breathtaking view. Other notable waterfalls in the state include Silver Falls, Proxy Falls, and Toketee Falls.
Maine is a beautiful state with a rich history and stunning scenery. Visitors can explore Acadia National Park, which features rugged coastline, rocky beaches, and scenic hiking trails. One of the most popular spots is the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, which offers stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. Maine is also home to several beautiful waterfalls, including Moxie Falls, Angel Falls, and Screw Auger Falls.
The Grand Canyon is one of the most iconic natural wonders in the world. Visitors can take in the stunning views from the South Rim or venture down into the canyon for a more immersive experience. The park is home to several beautiful waterfalls, including Havasu Falls, which is known for its turquoise waters and stunning scenery.
Overall, the United States has no shortage of stunning waterfalls and scenery to explore. Whether you’re looking to hike through lush forests or take in the views from a scenic overlook, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
When it comes to outdoor activities, the US is a paradise for adventure seekers. From kayaking to biking and fishing, there are plenty of options for travelers looking to explore the great outdoors. The amazing thing is that you will see totally different scenery depending on where you are in the US.
Kayaking is a popular activity in many destinations across the US, and for good reason. Whether you’re looking to paddle through calm waters or tackle some rapids, there are plenty of options available. Some of the best places for kayaking include:
- Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska
- Lake Tahoe, California
- Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin
- Acadia National Park, Maine
- San Juan Islands, Washington
Biking is a great way to explore a new destination while getting some exercise at the same time. From scenic coastal routes to challenging mountain trails, there are biking options for all skill levels. Some of the best places for biking include:
- Moab, Utah
- Napa Valley, California
- Cape Cod, Massachusetts
- The Katy Trail, Missouri
- The Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania
Fishing is a relaxing and rewarding activity that can be enjoyed in many destinations across the US. Whether you’re looking to catch some trout in a mountain stream or reel in a big marlin in the ocean, there are plenty of options available. Some of the best places for fishing include:
- The Florida Keys, Florida
- Kenai River, Alaska
- Lake Champlain, Vermont
- Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
- Outer Banks, North Carolina
Overall, the US offers a wide range of outdoor activities for travelers looking to explore the great outdoors. Whether you’re into whitewater rafting, rock climbing, snowshoeing, or any other outdoor activity, there’s sure to be a destination that’s perfect for you.
Food and Drink
Do you live to travel or live to eat? Or live to eat while you travel? I love to try new food when I’m traveling and my family just got back from a trip to Vancouver. We picked Vancouver on the food alone! (Of course Vancouver is a beautiful city as well.)
When it comes to food and drink, the United States has a diverse range of options for travelers to indulge in. From seafood to Mexican cuisine and craft breweries, there is something to satisfy every palate.
For seafood lovers, the coastal regions of the United States offer a plethora of dining options. The Pacific Northwest is renowned for its fresh seafood, particularly salmon and Dungeness crab. The Chesapeake Bay area is famous for its blue crabs and oysters, while the Gulf Coast is known for its shrimp and crawfish.
Some of the best seafood destinations in the US include:
- Seattle, Washington
- Portland, Maine
- New Orleans, Louisiana
- San Francisco, California
Mexican cuisine has become increasingly popular in the United States, with many cities boasting authentic Mexican restaurants. From street tacos to mole, travelers can find a variety of dishes that showcase the flavors of Mexico.
Some of the best cities for Mexican cuisine in the US include:
- San Diego, California
- Austin, Texas
- Santa Fe, New Mexico
- Los Angeles, California
The southern United States is known for its BBQ, with styles varying by region. Some of the best cities for BBQ include
- Memphis, Tennessee
- Austin, Texas,
- Kansas City, Missouri.
Pizza might be Americas favorite food. Everywhere you go someone is claiming to have the best pizza, but here are the country’s best pizza spots.
- New York City is famous for its thin-crust pizza
- Chicago is known for its deep-dish pizza.
- New Haven, Connecticut is known tot have the best pizza in the country
- Other cities with great pizza scenes include Portland, Oregon and Providence, Rhode Island.
When planning a summer vacation with the family, finding destinations that cater to everyone’s interests is key. Luckily, the US has no shortage of family-friendly destinations to choose from. Here are some options that are sure to please kids and adults alike.
For families with thrill-seekers, theme parks are a must-visit destination. One of the most popular options is Disney World in Orlando, Florida. With four different parks to choose from, there’s something for everyone. Other notable theme parks include Universal Studios in Hollywood, California, and Six Flags in Arlington, Texas.
Zoos are another great option for families, offering the chance to see exotic animals up close. One of the most popular zoos in the US is the San Diego Zoo in California, which is home to over 3,500 animals across 650 species. Another great option is the Bronx Zoo in New York City, which is the largest metropolitan zoo in the US.
The National Zoo is another great pick allowing your kids to get up close to some of the only Pandas in North America.
Children’s museums are a great option for families with young children, offering interactive exhibits and hands-on activities. Some of the best children’s museums in the US include:
- The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis in Indiana
- The Boston Children’s Museum in Massachusetts
- The Children’s Museum of Houston in Texas
- The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania
- The Children’s Museum of Phoenix in Arizona
These museums offer a variety of exhibits and activities designed to engage children’s senses, encourage creativity, and promote learning. From science experiments to art projects to role-playing games, children’s museums provide a fun and educational experience for the whole family.
Aquariums are another great family-friendly destination, offering the chance to see a wide variety of marine life up close. Some of the best aquariums in the US include:
- The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia
- The Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California
- The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois
- The New England Aquarium in Boston, Massachusetts
- The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California
These aquariums feature exhibits with sharks, sea turtles, dolphins, and other sea creatures, as well as interactive experiences like touch tanks and behind-the-scenes tours. Visitors can also learn about marine conservation efforts and the importance of protecting our oceans.
For more information about the best Aquariums in the USA click here.
Summer is a great time to plan a romantic getaway for couples looking to spend quality time together. The United States is full of romantic destinations that offer beautiful scenery, great food, and plenty of activities to do. Here are a few of the best romantic getaways in the US.
Mackinac Island is a small island located in Lake Huron, Michigan. It is a popular destination for couples due to its beautiful scenery and historic charm. The island is car-free, which adds to its charm, and visitors can explore the island by horse-drawn carriage or bicycle.
Mackinac Island offers several romantic activities, such as watching the sunset from the shore, taking a boat tour around the island, and enjoying a picnic in one of the island’s many parks. The Grand Hotel, which is a historic hotel on the island, is a popular destination for couples due to its beautiful architecture and stunning views of the lake.
Kauai is an island in Hawaii that is known for its beautiful beaches, waterfalls, and lush greenery. It is a popular destination for couples due to its romantic atmosphere and stunning natural beauty.
Couples can enjoy a variety of activities on the island, such as hiking, kayaking, and snorkeling. The island also offers several romantic activities, such as watching the sunset from the beach, taking a helicopter tour of the island, and enjoying a romantic dinner at one of the island’s many restaurants.
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina, is a popular destination for couples due to its historic charm and beautiful architecture. The city offers several romantic activities, such as taking a horse-drawn carriage ride around the city and enjoying a romantic dinner at one of the city’s many restaurants.
Napa Valley, California, is another popular destination for couples due to its beautiful scenery and world-renowned wineries. Couples can enjoy a variety of activities on the valley, such as wine tasting, hot air balloon rides, and enjoying a romantic dinner at one of the valley’s many restaurants.
Overall, there are many romantic getaways in the US that offer beautiful scenery, great food, and plenty of activities to do. Couples can choose from a variety of destinations, such as Mackinac Island, Kauai, Charleston, and Napa Valley, to find the perfect romantic getaway.
Off the Beaten Path
For those looking for a unique summer vacation experience, there are plenty of off the beaten path destinations in the US that offer something different from the typical tourist hotspots. While the amenities might be fewer, the peace and solitude you will find here are worth it.
Here are a few options to consider:
Located in southeastern Utah, Moab is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The area is known for its stunning red rock formations, including Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. Visitors can go hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, or even take a scenic drive through the area. Moab also offers opportunities for river rafting and hot air balloon rides. For those seeking a more relaxed experience, there are plenty of spas and wellness centers in the area.
Located in northeastern Wisconsin, Door County is a charming destination with a small-town feel. The area is known for its scenic shoreline, with 300 miles of coastline along Lake Michigan and Green Bay. Visitors can go kayaking, fishing, or take a boat tour to see the area’s lighthouses and shipwrecks. Door County is also known for its cherry orchards, and visitors can pick their own cherries or try cherry wine at local wineries.
Block Island is a beautiful destination located off the coast of Rhode Island. The island is known for its stunning beaches, including Crescent Beach and Ballard’s Beach, which offer opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, and surfing. Visitors can also go hiking or biking on the island’s many trails, or take a scenic drive to see the island’s lighthouses and historic landmarks.
Block Island also has a thriving arts and culture scene, with galleries, museums, and live music performances throughout the year. For those seeking a more relaxed experience, there are plenty of spas and wellness centers on the island. Block Island is a great destination for those looking to escape the crowds and enjoy a peaceful and scenic vacation.
Located in Yellowstone National Park, Lamar Valley is a hidden gem for wildlife enthusiasts. The valley is home to a variety of animals, including bison, elk, wolves, and grizzly bears. Visitors can take a guided tour or go hiking to see the wildlife up close. The area is also known for its stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
Overall, these off the beaten path destinations offer something unique for those looking for a different kind of summer vacation. Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventure or a more relaxed experience, these destinations are worth considering.
Where Else is Great for Summer Vacation in the US
Here are some honorable mentions for great Summer Vacations in the US. These weren’t picked at first because they are either really busy or more beautiful at other times of the year.
- Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada: Located on the border of California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The area offers opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and water sports, as well as skiing and snowboarding in the winter.
- Outer Banks, North Carolina: The Outer Banks is a chain of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina. The area is known for its beautiful beaches, historic lighthouses, and seafood restaurants. Visitors can also go kayaking, fishing, or take a boat tour to see wild horses on the beach.
- Sedona, Arizona: Sedona is a beautiful destination known for its red rock formations and outdoor activities. Visitors can go hiking, mountain biking, or take a scenic drive through the area. Sedona also has a thriving arts and culture scene, with galleries and museums throughout the area.
- Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts: Martha’s Vineyard is a popular destination for those seeking a relaxed and upscale vacation experience. The island is known for its beautiful beaches, historic lighthouses, and quaint towns. Visitors can also go fishing, sailing, or take a bike tour of the island.
I hope this helps you find your perfect summer vacation! Let me know how it goes.
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