I think we’ve all sighed with relief when the restrictions were lifted and the possibility of going away during summer suddenly became more realistic. This year’s summer vacation is bound to be incredible.
While it might be tempting to go abroad and explore an entirely different culture, we aren’t quite out of the woods yet and the situation might change any time. So why not venture somewhere more local and see what more familiar sights have in store? Below we present top USA destinations that will guarantee you a stress-free vacation filled with joy and excitement. Whether you’re more of a beach person or crave adventure, this list will hopefully give you some inspiration.
Where to Go for a Summer Vacation in the US this Warm Season
Time to tick things off your USA Bucket List for a summer vacation.
- Orlando, Florida
After a tough couple of years, we all deserve to have fun away from all the problems and what’s a better way to do it than to unleash your inner child? Orlando is home to theme parks such as Disney’s Magic Kingdom or Legoland that can take you on a journey through your childhood memories and provide entertainment for the whole family. If you have more of an adventurous side, you should consider visiting Universal Studios which specialize in Hollywood-inspired attractions; from rides to meet and greets, the theme park has everything you can dream of and more.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is where the magic begins as you visit your favorite places from the movie you can feel a part of the most popular franchise in the world and finally go to Hogwarts. When you feel like your batteries have finally run out, consider unwinding by exploring the rich wildlife; roam around the Split Oak Forest on foot or take in the peaceful sights while horseback riding.
- Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas is synonymous with excitement as it provides some of the best entertainment in the world; be prepared to be stunned by magic shows, cabaret, comedy shows, circus performances and a lot more pretty much everywhere you go. This city never sleeps, and you won’t be either, at least for the first few nights until the novelty wears off. As cliché as it sounds, dreams really do come true in Las Vegas - try your luck in one of the casinos.
Read This Next: Digital Nomad Photo Shoot & Travel Tips in Sayulita, Mexico
But while the city has quite a reputation when it comes to its vibrant lifestyle, there’s more to it than just nighttime fun. When you finally recover from your nighttime endeavors, you can visit specialty museums, head to a theatre, and explore the impressive dining scene.
Is Las Vegas commercialized and overcrowded by tourists? For sure, but that’s what makes it a fun adventure for everyone regardless of age and interests. And when you get tired of the fast-paced environment and need a little break, consider booking a tour to visit the Grand Canyon, where you can take a deep breath and admire one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
- Miami, Florida
If you’re after spending lazy days surrounded by beautiful sights, visiting Miami should be the obvious choice. The premise doesn’t disappoint; the combination of white sand beaches and turquoise water is enough to want to book a flight there right here and now. However, you might be surprised that there’s a little more you can expect from this popular destination. For those who enjoy outdoor pursuits and keeping themselves active, the city is home to various water sports. Have a go at scuba diving and explore the coral reef or channel your adventurous side while jet skiing.
As the sun goes down, don’t head to the clubs just yet. If you stay on the beach a bit longer, you’ll witness one of the most stunning sunsets in the world; the mesmerizing vibrancy of colors is something quite unforgettable. And if you have extra money to spend, the shopping scene won’t disappoint you. Miami can take your shopping spree to another level with huge malls and designer boutiques around every corner.
Read This Next: 5 Incredible Places to Connect with Nature in the Caribbean
- Savannah, Georgia
Savannah is the city best described as a beautiful stillness. It’s a place where you can forget your everyday worries and fully focus on enjoying the present moment. While going back to the time Covid wasn’t a thing isn’t possible, you can still transport yourself back in time by visiting the Historic District and witnessing the charm Savannah is mainly known for. Take a stroll around the area and admire historic buildings, stunning gardens, and old churches, then catch your breath under a beautiful display of oaks in the Wormsloe Historic Site.
But don’t forget to take your camera – it’s one of the most photographed places in Georgia for a reason. And as a bonus, you can visit the bench which Forrest Gump sat on while waiting for a bus – whether you like the movie or not, it’s a nice spot to unwind and fully take in the city’s atmosphere. When you need some alone time (well, more or less), head to the Bonaventure Cemetery that spreads over more than a hundred acres or kayak to Little Tybee Island, also known as the deserted island. It might not be your usual Instagram-worthy summer vacation spot but it’s the definition of calm.
- Virgin Islands – St. John
While most travelers are attracted to the Virgin Islands because of their famous beaches, the true gem is the national park located on St. John Island which boasts pristine habitat reachable through hiking trails that are suitable for pros and inexperienced hikers. As you walk around the forest, you can expect to witness wildlife in its all glory. The park is home to over 400 species, such as iguanas, bats, and deer and if you’re lucky, you can meet some of them on the way.
Follow the Cinnamon and the Reef Bay trail to get to the spot from which you can admire the whole island and find your own bit of heaven: one of the white sand beaches that look straight out of postcards. Even if sunbathing isn’t your thing, visit Trunk Bay where you can try snorkeling and discover an equally rich life underwater – see beautiful coral reefs and meet leatherback turtles.
Alaska is the definition of wild but peaceful beauty with mountain towns that attract plenty of tourists each year. It might not be the typical holiday destination but if you search for the top sights in the state, you’ll understand what the fuss is about. One of the most breathtaking landscapes includes glacier mountains, river valleys and cinematic forests that will quite literally take your breath away.
Its Denali National Park is especially worth visiting as it’s home to more than 167 species including wolves and bears. If you want to do something more active, summer is a great time to challenge your stamina through kayaking, river rafting, or hiking. While Alaska might not be blessed with the warmest weather, its sights will make you gasp, and sightseeing will recharge your batteries just like lying on the beach would. You can also familiarize yourself with Alaska’s heritage and explore its history by visiting numerous museums. It’s the perfect destination for a relaxing but also an educational summer vacation with the kids.
Top towns to visit include during your summer vacation:
- Skagway, a historic city with a beautiful scenery
- Sitka known for stunning national parks and rich history
- Fairbanks where the sun sets as late as 12:47 am
- Homer where you can admire charming harbors
- North Bend, Washington
If you’re a Twin Peaks fan, you’ve probably heard of North Bend, located in Washington State because that’s where some of the scenes were filmed. Even if you haven’t seen the show, you’ll appreciate the town’s aesthetics; its peaceful atmosphere makes it a great holiday destination whether you travel alone or with your family.
Read This Next: Digital Nomad Photo Shoot & Travel Tips in Bali, Indonesia
Good news for those who relax best among nature as North Bend’s top sights include mountains with scenic views and hiking trails. Spots that deserve a special mention are Tenerife Falls – getting there quite a workout but you’ll be rewarded with a spectacular view, and the Rattlesnake Lake – don’t let the name put you off. It’s a cute picnic location that stays open until dusk.
- Portland, Maine
If you’re craving a laid-back atmosphere and charming scenery, consider visiting Portland. It’s in the top greenest cities in the USA so you can expect clear air every day of your stay. And if you agree that one of the best things about travelling is trying different cuisines, you’ll be delighted to know that the city is famous for food trucks that serve dishes from all over the world. In Portland, everything is pretty much within a walking distance, including the gorgeous Powell Butte Loop which is a dream come true for all hiking enthusiasts.
Do you enjoy shopping and want to support small businesses? After you’re done exploring nature, take a few minutes’ walk to downtown where you’ll find plenty of unique boutiques and stores to occupy your time with. If you want to stay there after dark, consider taking part in a spooky walking tour that introduces you to various haunted locations. But be aware, it’s not for faint-hearted.
- Chicago, Illinois
If you love spending your vacation in places with bustling streets and diverse architecture, you’ll have the time of your life in Chicago. The city is known for stunning skyscrapers and world-class museums. Some of the best destinations include The Field Museum where you can meet the largest tyrannosaurus rex in the world, the impressive Museum of Science and Industry or the National Museum of Mexican Art where you can learn more about Mexican, Latino, and Chicano culture.
If you prefer being out and about, there are a lot of parks to choose from, including Lincoln Park where you can visit a free zoo and a conservatory. What sets Chicago apart from other US cities is also locals’ friendly attitude; whether you’re asking for directions or need recommendations on where to go, they’ll be happy to help.
- Sequoia National Park, California
In case you aren’t convinced that the USA is home to many beautiful parks yet, have a look at the Sequoia National Park located in California's southern Sierra Nevada mountains. It’s worth visiting as it’s one of the very few places where you can see these giant trees up close, especially General Sherman which is the largest one in the world.
If you’ve ever wished you could roast marshmallows over a fire just like in movies in a national park, fulfilling this dream is very much possible there. Other things you can do include fishing, hiking, and swimming in lakes. While it might not be the most exciting summer vacation spot, you can be sure that being surrounded by nature will help you clear your mind and decrease your stress and that’s what a vacation is mostly about, isn’t it?
11. San Francisco, California
Home to one of the biggest US attractions, the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco is among the most popular holiday destinations in the world. You can expect to do there a bit of everything, from relaxing at the parks and lying on the beach to visiting museums and art galleries. The best way to move around is by riding cable cars that have been around since the 19th century, which allow you to explore the city in a historic manner and stop by iconic spots such as Fishermen’s Wharf, a tourist area where you can eat delicious food and meet a colony of sea lions.
For those who are fans of true crime, a unique attraction worth visiting is Alcatraz Island where you can see the infamous prison that hosted the most notorious serial killers. And let’s not forget that San Francisco is a melting pot of many cultures.
Another frequented tourist spot is Chinatown, the largest outside of Asia, lined with traditional buildings and eateries with authentic Chinese food.
About the Contributor
Joanna Cakala is a multilingual writer based in the UK. Combining a degree in Psychology and passion for writing, she started her freelance journey penning articles on mental health.
Shop our Blue Ocean Life clothing designs and help raise awareness for natural ways to improve physical & mental health.