If you’re looking to travel in the states but aren’t sure exactly where to go, we’ve listed the 17 best places to travel in the U.S in 2020. These flashpacking destinations are perfect for weekend trips, 1-week vacations, or long-term travelers.
The US is a huge country with a big range of destinations featuring tons of cultural and landscape diversity. You can experience city life full of history and a buzzing tech environment, or head to more remote areas with hiking and incredible coastline views. There is a lot that America has to offer for every type of traveler.
Here are the Best Places to Travel in the USA:
New Orleans, Louisiana
There are more reasons to visit New Orleans than just Mardis Gras (which is a great reason to visit as well). New Orleans is a vibrant, soulful city, and you’ll feel the buzz as soon as you arrive. It’s the birthplace of jazz music so there are tons of live music festivals and gigs. There are a lot of opportunities for the digital nomad here as well since it’s a hub for a lot of global companies in the oil and energy, transportation, healthcare, finances, and defense sectors.
New Orleans is best for travelers seeking: history, big-city excitement, food, entertainment, architecture.
If you’re looking for a city that “has it all,” Austin is just that. It has everything from great weather, to biking and hiking trails, as well as live music bars and best of all, a ton of delicious restaurants and food trucks. It’s known as a “Foodie’s Paradise” for a reason. It can be quite eclectic, but that’s what gives it its unique vibe and character. Austin is also extremely progressive and has become a big tech hub, which is the ideal environment for the digital nomad. It also has a low cost of living, below the national average.
Austin is best for travelers seeking: affordability, long-term stay, solo travel, family fun, history, and culture.
Vail, Boulder, Denver are the best places to visit in Colorado. They are the perfect cities for those looking for the right combination of outdoors meets hipster, city life. There’s skiing and snowboarding, hiking trails just outside the cities in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. And lots of awesome coffee shops to work at for the digital nomad.
Boulder and Denver are also known as some of the best places to travel alone in the US.
Colorado is best for travelers seeking: long-term stay, music and entertainment, nature, outdoor activities.
The Pacific Coastal Drive
You will want to strap in tight for this exhilarating, breathtaking drive along the Pacific Coast. It’s known as one of the most scenic drives in the world and takes around five to ten hours (123-mile route) to complete if driving at a leisurely pace. Along the way, you’ll pass through Montery, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Big Sur, all the way to Cambria (with Moonstone Beach) and finish in Morro Bay, San Diego.
There are a few different itineraries you can follow, and if you’re traveling alone or with friends, you can decide on which places to stop at, if any. The views alone are well worth the drive.
The Pacific Coast drive is best for travelers seeking: solo travel, leisure, nature, beaches and family fun.
New York City
Everyone has got to go to the “Big Apple” at least once in their lifetime. Well, actually, twice would be the better recommendation, since New York tends to come alive in a more authentic way the second time around. While Times Square and the Empire State building are classic, must-see tourist attractions, the real heart of the city lies in its underground venues and off-the-beaten-track places to explore.
There is always something to do in New York, from broadway theater to live shows, to delicious restaurants and cheap eats, to speakeasy pubs and cocktail bars, there really is something for every type of traveler.
NYC is best for travelers seeking: big city excitement, night-life, food and music, history, skylines and family fun.
Once you explore Memphis, you’ll soon realize why it’s known as a hidden gem. Home to the King of music, Elvis, it has a vibrant music scene and rich, cultural history. If you’re a music-lover, you’ll need to visit the popular Beale Street, which is where the blues scene first began. Memphis is also quite affordable in terms of housing (if wanting to move there), services, food, and attractions. Other than blues music, Memphis is known for its barbecue food, often referred to as the “Barbecue Capital” of Tennessee. And it doesn’t disappoint.
Memphis is best for travelers seeking: long-term stay, culture, food and music, history and affordability.
Glacier National Park
Picture it: gorgeous, snow-topped mountains reflected in a clear, still lake — there’s nothing else quite like it. There is everything for the outdoor lover from cross-country skiing to fishing to snowshoeing to rock climbing. There is also the iconic “Garden Wall,” a spot where two glaciers once met and is now accessible by foot, horseback, car, or boat.
Glacier National Park is best for travelers seeking: nature/outdoor activities, beautiful views, history (tours) and family fun.
If there’s one major reason to go to Miami, it’s got to be the weather. The infamous Miami beaches are all white sand, there’s a happening nightlife scene, and the food (Cuban-style) is delicious. If the clubbing scene isn’t for you, there is still a whole city with lots of history and culture to explore. You’ll want to visit the famous neighborhood, Little Havana and the Art Deco District, along Miami Beach.
Miami is best for travelers seeking: big city excitement, night-life, food, beaches, culture and history.
California is a huge and diverse state. The top places to visit while there? Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Yosemite National Park. LA is definitely a popular destination, with Hollywood, Venice Beach and Beverly Hills as the main attractions. We also love California as one of the best places to travel alone.
But if you want to get out of the big city, Yosemite in the Sierra Nevada Mountains is an outdoor lover’s paradise. There are cliffs, meadows, lakes, waterfalls, forests, and in the winter, you can ski and snowboard. Similarly, and also in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, is Lake Tahoe. Here, there are some of the top-rated ski resorts in the US and you can find camping, fishing and hiking trails during the summer months.
For the digital nomad, San Fran is a top-of-the-list destination. It’s a start-up/tech hub, and has a few national parks nearby too. It was also listed as the top vegan-friendly US cities if that influences your decision — meaning, there will be lots of delicious, healthy eats available.
California is best for travelers seeking: beaches, outdoor activities, food and music, technology and history.
Did you know Yellowstone is America’s first national park? Located between Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, Yellowstone gets (unsurprisingly) 4 million visitors a year. And yes, there is a reason for that. There are hot springs, forests, mountains, canyons, all in one park.
Yellowstone is best for travelers seeking: nature, outdoor activities, hiking, views, solo travel, family fun.
Asheville, North Carolina
This is another perfect solo vacationer’s trip, right in the heart of the mountains. Asheville has become another great city, home to craft breweries and trendy restaurants. Take a drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway, known as America's Favorite Scenic Drive. You also need to make sure the Biltmore Estate is on your list of to-dos while there; a beautiful French Renaissance castle full of historical artwork.
It is best for travelers seeking: solo travel, family fun, nature, outdoor activities, food, music and history.
Chicago certainly has a lot more going on than just their deep-dish pizza. Right on the shores of Lake Michigan, it has a beautiful waterfront and parks to enjoy in the summer and the culture and history of a big city that you can enjoy year-round. It is the ideal destination for travelers with a variety of interests and is great for long-term stays.
It is best for travelers seeking: big city excitement, night-life, food, solo travel, family fun, culture and history.
Portland is the kind of city you come to for a few days and end up wanting to move there long-term. It has a ton of cheap eats and farmer’s markets, craft beers, and lots of hiking and biking trails. Portland is home to over 70 different breweries and in the summer you can catch their International Beer Fest. It is also relatively affordable, with fine dining on the lower-scale compared to other major U.S. cities.
Portland is best for travelers seeking: food, music, solo travel, family fun, nature and outdoor activities.
Seattle is a tech and cultural hub. Ever heard of a coffee chain called Starbucks? There is a lot to do in the downtown, with museums, cool bars, and fresh seafood since it’s right on the water. It does tend to be on the rainier side, but it has such a laid-back vibe, it won’t impact your ability to enjoy your time there.
Seattle is best for travelers seeking: solo travel, culture, history, affordability, food and music.
The best way to experience the Mississippi River, one of the longest rivers in the world, is through the Great River Road. There are over 70 different history centers you can stop along on route to learn about the different backgrounds of each part of the river. The road takes you through ten different states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
The Mississippi River trip is best for travelers seeking: nature, outdoor activities, leisure, history and family fun.
Montana is one of the most stunning states to visit, with rolling hills and snowcapped mountaintops stretching for miles. Your main reason for visiting here should be its landscape. There is nothing quite like it, and at night, it gets even better. Known as “Big Sky Country,” and with little light pollution, it makes star-gazing pretty incredible. Glacier National Park is also in Montana and covers around 1 million acres. It’s open year-round and has hiking trails, chalets, lodges, waterfalls, and, of course, glaciers.
Montana is best for travelers seeking: nature, outdoor activities, hiking, views, history and family fun.
If you’re looking for something a little more quintessential and slower-paced, Savannah is the perfect city. It has beautiful mansions, Spanish moss-covered trees, and a waterfront with historic buildings. It’s got an old-world charm to it, but one that is also known to be slightly eerie due to its history. If you’re into the dark side of this Southern city, there are numerous ghost tours you can take at night.
Savannah is best for travelers seeking: culture, night-life, food and music, solo travel, family fun and affordability.
Best Places to Travel
Ultimately, your favorite place to travel in the USA will be based on what you’re hoping to get out of your experience. This guide is a tool to help with your selection, whether you’re a solo traveler, a digital nomad looking for your next long-term stay or a family looking for a few-week getaway.
If traveling to other continents, check out our Flashpacker Destinations to get inspired for your trip.