There are a lot of great places to visit in the USA so deciding on where to go isn’t an easy task. There are charming small towns, exciting cities, numerous festivals in 50 states and more than 400 national parks. To help you with your itinerary for next year, we’ve put together a list of destinations that you simply don’t want to miss.
1. Leavenworth, Washington
Leavenworth presently offers visitors a little taste of Bavaria. So put on your optional lederhosen and enjoy beer, bratwurst, and pretzels. It’s reportedly one of the state’s most popular tourist stops. Here you will discover Bavarian-style architecture, bars, breweries, cideries, and local shops. It’s also a great place for outdoor activities too.
2. Gruene, Texas
The three-street town of Gruene was once a thriving cotton industry town, the center of town is the restored dance hall. There’ve been live music events there since 1878. Other highlights include Enchanted Rock, the Grapevine Winery, antique stores, and a general store with an honest to goodness soda and ice cream bar.
3. Raleigh, North Carolina
Raleigh is found in a forest complete with lakes, parks and (naturally) trees. A burst of growth graced this place with some modern, local bars, breweries, and nationally-recognized restaurants. Hot spots include the Laotian eatery, Bida Manda, Benchwarmer Bagels, and one of the most beautiful breweries in the world, Brewery Bhavana.
4. Savannah, Georgia
Savannah features Spanish moss-draped streets and squares, craft breweries, elegant homes, a quaint cobblestoned riverfront walk, local Southern fusion cuisine, and a dark haunted history. The small city simply oozes “Southern Charm” and homespun hospitality and was deemed “the world’s friendliest city.” It’s all about local art, culture, and mystery.
5. Boston, Massachusetts
The Boston experience is a lot different than that of L.A. or NYC. Still, it has a unique charm and significant history. Catch a Red Sox baseball game at Fenway Stadium.
Hit the popular Bleacher Bar and Little Italy too. Veteran visitors suggest the educational and humorous Boston Freedom Trail walking tour.
6. Franklin, Tennessee
Less than 30 minutes from Nashville, one highlight of Franklin is the live music nights at Puckett’s Grocery. You just never know what performer could show up for open mic night. It’s also reported to be “one of the best-preserved downtowns” on the continent. Enjoy boutique shopping on an Instagram-worthy Main street from the 1800s.
7. New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is a lively city. It has charm, culture, history, music, Mardi Gras and more. Stroll through the Garden District and French Quarter. Don’t forget to explore further out to take in the plantation homes, alligator country, and the bayous too. Foodies will love the Cajun, creole and French-influenced too.
8. Sedona, Arizona
Sedona Arizona has its own scenic identity thanks in part to the red rock formations bursting forth from the verdant valley. Climb the rock faces to take in the memorable views and visit the four main vortex sites, the spiritually-powered Sedona Vortexes. Sign on for the popular Broken Arrow Pink Jeep tour too.
9. Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada
Take an easy day trip from Las Vegas to see the popular Valley of Fire State Park. It’s a nice respite from Sin City and is small enough you can explore it all in one day. Take in the pink, red and white wavy rocks via the popular Fire Wave Trail.
10. Lake Lure, North Carolina
Located in the Hickory Nut Gorge, Lake Lure is surrounded by sheer granite cliffs and majestic mountain tops. One worthwhile stop here is Chimney Rock State Park. If you’re into the movie Dirty Dancing, you’ll want to visit during the yearly Dirty Dancing Festival. (The lake lift scene was shot here.)
11. Redfish Lake, Idaho
Don’t be surprised if you’ve not heard of this place. It’s a hidden gem that includes impressive views of the well-known Sawtooth range that frame the five-mile-long lake. Go swimming and kayaking. Take a guided tour and learn about the local flora and fauna. DIne at the Redfish Lodge too.
12. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah
The Grand Staircase-Escalante is an official national monument. (Why it’s not a national park is another article.) Highlights include hiking trails through raw, narrow slot canyons, hidden waterfalls, waves of unique colorful rocks, and rainbow-colored valleys and scenic drives. Check out Spooky and Peek-a-Boo Canyon too.
13. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Yellowstone is not too far from Grand Teton National Park. It features canyons, geysers that go off randomly, hot mud pits, the underground supervolcano, and sulfur holes. Hike to a hidden waterfall and relax in a multi-colored hot spring. This is the place that inspired Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park.
14. Smith Rock State Park, Oregon
Smith Rock State Park is less than 30 minutes north of Bend. This destination is world-famous as a rock-climbing destination. If you climb, you’ll enjoy the view from the top. If you don’t, you’ll marvel at watching the pros scaling such locations as the scary, steep Monkey Face outcropping.
15. Big Island of Hawaii
While the Big Island doesn’t have as many beautiful beaches as Oahu (the birthplace of yours truly), the Big Island has its own charms. It features Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, thundering waterfalls ensconced in the verdant jungle, and the opportunity to actually swim with manta rays at night.
16. Sand Hollow State Park, Utah
Sand Hollow is a relatively new state park. Veteran visitors praise the place for its “kaleidoscope colored scenery” and spirit of adventure. It’s already one of the top spots for ATV driving and quad biking across the miles of sand dunes here. The Sunset ATV adventure is good too.
17. Channel Islands National Park, California
Situated off the coastline of Ventura, about 70 miles north of Los Angeles, this is the least touristy national park in the state. Here you can explore five different islands including Anacapa, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, San Miguel, and Santa Rosa. See all the beaches, canyons, cliff faces, and sea lions.
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