Find out what the best destinations in the United States are as awarded by millions of real travelers.
New York City, New York
Here's what we tell friends who are visiting New York for the first time: See the Empire State Building, Times Square and the museums first. Go to at least one Broadway show. But then pick a neighborhood—any neighborhood—to explore in-depth. It's impossible to see all NYC has to offer in a single trip, but focusing on, say, African-American culture in Harlem or immigrant history on the Lower East Side can be quite rewarding.
San Francisco, California
Who cares about a little fog (okay, a lot of fog) when there’s so much to do in San Francisco? By day, explore Fisherman’s Wharf and the Aquarium of the Bay, ride a cable car, and stroll around the Presidio; by night, have a fabulous dinner (at a Michelin-starred restaurant or a tiny place in Chinatown), then hit some of the best clubs on the West Coast.
If you’re a history buff and a die-hard foodie, Chicago’s your kind of town. Take an architectural-history walking tour, then dine at Alinea (the most celebrated molecular-gastronomy restaurant in the U.S.). And don’t miss the Museum of Science and Industry, the biggest science museum in the Western Hemisphere.
Las Vegas, Nevada
In Las Vegas, you’ll find restaurants run by the world’s finest chefs, opulent spas, and sophisticated hotels… along with penny slots, Elvis impersonators, and indoor Venetian canals (complete with gondoliers). Why come here? Because there is simply no other place on the planet like Las Vegas. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Honolulu is a legendary surfing destination. But even if you don’t know a boogie board from a surfboard, you’ll find a beach here that appeals to you (and, if you want to learn the difference, you can find a great instructor to teach you). Swimming, kayaking, snorkeling, outrigger canoeing or just sunbathing… it’s all available in Honolulu.
Los Angeles, California
Hit the beach in Santa Monica or Venice, go celebrity-spotting at the Chateau Marmont, ride the roller coasters at Universal Studios Hollywood… there are almost too many options! History buffs will love a visit to Olvera Street, the city’s oldest and home to many stalls selling Mexican crafts. And for something you won’t see anywhere else, check out the bubbling (and, erm, uniquely fragrant) La Brea Tar Pits.
New Orleans, Louisiana
As a visitor in New Orleans, you can expect the locals to pull out all the stops to show you a good time. And it's way more than just a demonstration of Southern hospitality-- "laisser les bon temps rouler," or "let the good times roll" is the city's unofficial motto. So take a tour of the elegant Garden District, hit a jazz club, dine at the Commander's Palace, or join the crowds on Bourbon Street. The Big Easy has much to celebrate these days, now that it's had nearly five years to rebuild from Hurricane Katrina, and you'll be welcomed with open arms.
Seattle's petite downtown area and many attractions make it possible to pack a week’s experience into a weekend. Grab a latte and start at the world-famous Pike Place Market. Watch the fish fly and then head to the Space Needle for a dramatic view of the city and its surrounding waters. Return to earth and jump aboard a moonlit dinner cruise to Blake Island or canoe through the arboretum.
San Diego, California
Looking for a classic California beach experience, with a boardwalk, beach volleyball, even a classic amusement park? You can find it at Mission Beach in San Diego. After you’re done swimming and sunning, hit one of the many beachside restaurants and bars for some live music, dancing and a tropical drink.
Orlando’s theme parks are (obviously) a big draw. But there's much more to Orlando than thrill rides and costumed characters. How about a hot-air balloon ride? Indoor skydiving? Parasailing? You’ll find it all here. And whether you're in town for a romantic weekend or a budget family vacation, there's a hotel in Orlando to suit your taste and budget.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
You’ll wonder why you don’t live in Portland after you’ve visited this laid-back and friendly city. With a reputation for manicured parks, eclectic nightlife, fine micro-breweries and distilleries, and nature that cuts right into the city, Portland’s a Pacific Northwest must-visit. Don’t miss the famous Japanese Garden, one of the largest and most beautiful of its kind outside of Japan.
San Antonio, Texas
If you tried to imagine a place where the sights, sounds and flavors of Native America, Old Mexico and the Wild West blend effortlessly with the hustle and bustle of a modern city, it would probably look a lot like San Antonio. Visit the Alamo, of course, and explore adobe architecture at Casa Navarro State Park. Kids will love HemisFair Urban Park and SeaWorld.
Savannah is a classic Southern city—mannerly, to be sure, but with a rich and complex history. Stroll historic Savannah and visit places you may remember from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (especially Bonaventure Cemetery)… then enjoy a mint julep on your hotel’s verandah.
You've got to walk the Freedom Trail the first time you visit Boston. That's just a given. Make sure you step off the line on the pavement, though, and explore some of Boston's fine museums (try the Gardner—art masterpieces displayed in their collector's mansion) and old neighborhoods (like the North End, where you can get the best cannoli this side of Italy). You can't claim to have experienced real Boston culture, though, unless you've watched a Red Sox game from the bleachers.
It's called the Live Music Show Capital of the World-- on any given day, almost 90 music, magic and comedy shows run at 50+ theaters. You might catch into Tony Orlando, the Osmonds or Marty Stuart, all regulars. (Think Las Vegas without the casinos and people drinking margaritas-by-the-yard at 10 am.) Between shows, enjoy nature in the Ozarks-- you'll find great fishing, hiking, biking and water sports in the area.
From world-class restaurants and a myriad of cultural attractions to a hip nightlife and sporting events galore, Atlanta is cosmopolitan in every sense of the word. But Atlanta has also managed to maintain its historic character. Stop by the Atlanta History Center or visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Historical Site, a moving tribute to an American icon. Browse through the former home of famous author Margaret Mitchell or pop into the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum. Whether you choose modern urban endeavors or old southern pleasures, Atlanta will not disappoint.
Houston has become increasingly cosmopolitan, with an influx of diverse ethnic groups and a strong emphasis on the arts. The midday heat is easily escaped inside the numerous attractions and shopping areas, particularly in the pedestrian-friendly underground city. Since you're in the place that broadcast man's first step on the moon, you may want to pay a visit to Space Center Houston, where you'll be whisked into outer space through simulations and films. Once back on earth, you can hop on the tram to the complex's NASA/Johnson Space Center to watch astronauts and engineers at work and in training.
Anyplace can have an amazing pool and spa, but an amazing pool and spa in the middle of a gorgeous desert? That’s what you’ll find at Sedona’s resorts. If you do feel like taking a break from lounging poolside and sampling different kinds of massages, you'll find miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback tours. Afterward, of course, you'll need another massage. It's the good kind of vicious cycle.
Gold and silver may have been behind the hordes that flocked in the 1800s, but liquid gold - Chardonnays, Cabernet Sauvignons and Pinot Noirs - is behind the modern migration. This dream destination for wine lovers has an abundance of fine restaurants and inns. Horse posts have been replaced by bike racks, and pedal power is a great way to explore.
Lahaina, the former Hawaiian capital, was the center of the global whaling trade, and its Historic District is a National Historic Landmark. Traditional Hawaiian luaus, surf lessons and tours on horseback are fun, but let’s be realistic—you wouldn’t be in Hawaii if you didn’t want to go to the beach. Try Ka’anapali Beach, one of Maui’s best.
Visitors flock to South by Southwest (SXSW), the massive music, interactive and film festival held in Austin every March. (Attendance is basically mandatory for hipsters.) But although Austin has become undeniably cool over the past few years, it maintains its small-town charm. Chill out in one of the city’s beautiful parks or soak up some history at the Lyndon Johnson Presidential Library and Museum.
One of the most historic cities in America, Philadelphia is an ideal place to spend a weekend - preferably a long one. Be sure to see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, where the Constitution and Declaration of Independence were signed. Both are part of Independence National Historic Park. Philadelphia also boasts some outstanding art museums, including the Rodin Museum. The Franklin Institute Science Museum is one of many area attractions honoring the life and work of Benjamin Franklin, the city's most famous ambassador. After digesting all of that history, be sure you save room for a classic Philly cheese steak sandwich.
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is known for great food (you won’t find better grits on the planet) and colorful history. But why do travelers return year after year? We’ll blame the genuine Southern hospitality this city extends to each and every visitor.
The history of Kona-Kailua, on the Big Island of Hawaii, includes Hawaiian royalty, Christian missionaries and Captain James Cook. You’ll have your pick of stunning beaches – will it be white sand or black sand today? Don't forget the waterfalls, volcanoes, luaus, seahorse farm, whale and dolphin sightings, sea turtles and, of course, the Kona coffee.