1. Yellowstone, 2. Grand Canyon, 3. San Diego, 4. San Francisco, 5. Glacier National Park, 6. Grand Teton National Park, 7. Bar Harbor, 8. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 9. Hilton Head, 10. Chicago. Summer is the time to take advantage of your time off, whether your dream trip is to a large metropolis, a national park in the United States, a tranquil beach, or a stay in a small town. Toplist evaluated a number of variables, including cost, weather, range of activities, traveler and expert opinion, to determine the finest summer vacations in the USA.
- Grand Canyon
- San Diego
- San Francisco
- Glacier National Park
- Grand Teton National Park
- Bar Harbor
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- Hilton Head
Yellowstone National Park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts with its stunning peaks and clear lakes. Hot springs are surrounded by colorful pools, lush woods wind through wide-open meadows, and erratic geysers shoot streams of scorching water into the air.
It’s understandable why everyone thought John Colter, a scout for explorers Lewis and Clark, was exaggerated when he first described Yellowstone’s geothermal oddities in 1807. With so much unspoilt natural beauty. Today, there is no denying the park’s exceptionality. Be prepared to share the trails with year-round dwellers like buffalo, elk, and occasionally even grizzlies as you trek through its more than 3,000 square miles of mountains, canyons, geysers, and waterfalls.
Even though Yellowstone has more than 4 million people each year, you probably won’t see many of them unless you spend the entirety of your trip at Old Faithful. There is a lot of uncharted land to explore on Yellowstone’s 2.2 million acres, which extend from the northwest corner of Wyoming towards the borders of Idaho and Montana.
Set aside a day or two to enjoy the scenery at Mammoth Hot Springs and Yellowstone Lake. But set aside some time for the paths that lead through less well-known areas, such as the West Thumb Geyser Basin’s hot springs and the Lewis River Channel and Dogshead Loop’s untamed fauna. Even though the sheer quantity of routes and opportunities for animal viewing may initially appear overwhelming, keep in mind that you can always return.
- #1 in Best Summer Vacations in the USA
- #1 in Best Adventure Vacations in the U.S.
- #1 in Best Cheap Family Vacations
- #1 in Best Places to Visit in May
- #1 in Best Family Summer Vacations
- #2 in Best National Parks in the World
- #2 in Best Places to Visit in the USA
- #2 in Best U.S. National Parks
- #2 in Best Family Vacations in the USA
- #3 in Best Places to Hike in North America
- #4 in Best Fall Vacations
- #5 in Best Cheap Summer Vacations
- #9 in Best Spring Vacations
- #9 in Best Cheap Honeymoons in the U.S.
- #14 in Best Summer Vacations
- #26 in World’s Best Places to Visit
Grand is an inadequate description of this canyon. This enormous gap in northern Arizona, which is up to 18 miles wide and a mile deep, is definitely a natural wonder. It is around 277 river miles long. The Grand Canyon has grown with the assistance of the powerful Colorado River for 6 million years, and for ages, visitors from all over the world have come to take in its magnificent red and orange splendor. The Grand Canyon, which is under the management of the National Park Service and is a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site, astounds its roughly 6 million annual tourists.
However, if you’re looking for a remote getaway in Mother Nature, you should be ready: There can be a ton of people at the Grand Canyon. Visitors and hikers favor the South Rim, which is home to Grand Canyon Village and the well-traveled Bright Angel Trail. The majority of the amenities are on this side. Go to the North Rim to escape the crowds. Hardcore hiking and backcountry camping are available here. Take a helicopter tour for a once-in-a-lifetime look at the canyon.
- #1 in Best Places to Visit in the USA
- #1 in Best Cheap Vacations in the U.S.
- #1 in Best Places to Visit in Arizona
- #1 in Best Day Trips from Phoenix
- #1 in Best Places to Visit in September
- #2 in Best Summer Vacations in the USA
- #2 in Best Adventure Vacations in the U.S.
- #2 in Best Fall Vacations
- #3 in Best Spring Vacations
- #3 in Best Cheap Family Vacations
- #3 in Best Family Spring Break Destinations
- #3 in Best Family Summer Vacations
- #4 in Best National Parks in the World
- #4 in Best U.S. National Parks
- #4 in Best Cheap Summer Vacations
- #4 in Best Family Vacations in the USA
- #5 in Best Places to Hike in North America
- #6 in Best Cheap Honeymoons in the U.S.
- #7 in Best Cheap Spring Break Destinations
- #9 in Best Places to Visit in April
- #15 in World’s Best Places to Visit
- #21 in Best Summer Vacations
Along with the scrumptious Mexican cuisine, vibrant nightlife, and one of the nation’s favorite zoos, San Diego’s year-round sunny weather and 70 miles of spectacular coastline attract sunbathers and athletes both. The beaches are another option. Go surfing at Mission Beach, sunbathing at La Jolla, and taking a leisurely stroll along the coast at Coronado. Additionally, San Diego is the location of some of the top California tours, such as fishing charters, boat tours, and whale watching trips. Pockets of vibrant nightlife can be found all around the city when you’re ready to trade in your flip-flops and board shorts for more formal wear, particularly close to the historic Gaslamp Quarter.
San Diego is at its most pleasant between March and May and September and November. Compared to the summer high season, the low seasons offer some fantastic savings on travel costs. However, there is never truly a bad time to visit due to the pleasant climate, which has an average temperature of roughly 70 degrees all year. However, it doesn’t follow that there will also be plenty of sunny days. The locals refer to May and June as “May Gray” and “June Gloom” since there are so many cloudy days during those months. Additionally, San Diego experiences the most rains throughout the winter, making a day at the beach impossible (not to mention the ocean’s waters are too chilly for swimming).
- #1 in Best Family Spring Break Destinations
- #1 in Best Places to Visit in August
- #3 in Best Summer Vacations in the USA
- #3 in Best Places to Visit in California
- #4 in Best Spring Vacations
- #4 in Best Weekend Getaways
- #5 in Best Family Summer Vacations
- #6 in Best Summer Vacations
- #8 in Best Family Vacations in the USA
- #9 in Best Nightlife Cities in the U.S.
- #12 in Best Foodie Cities in the U.S.
- #12 in Best Cheap Family Vacations
- #15 in Best Places to Visit in the USA
San Francisco attracts individuals who are free-spirited and have an eye for edgy art, a taste for inventive cuisine, and a desire for adventure. It is a jumbled patchwork of vibrant districts and stunning views. The fact that songwriter Tony Bennett left his heart here is actually not surprising: There are numerous things to do in the city, including jaw-dropping sights, top-notch cuisine, comfortable cafes, and a thriving nightlife.
Spend an hour or two lounging by the bay with sea lions, gazing at the city from Twin Peaks, or taking a stroll around the Marina. Take a cable car ride or board a boat excursion for a cruise beneath the Golden Gate Bridge for the ultimate taste of San Francisco.
Cool and compact San Francisco takes the big-city buzz emanated by its southern counterpart and melds it with a sense of small-town charm. It is frequently referred to as the more sophisticated northern cousin of Los Angeles. You’ll find a patchwork of cultural flowering in San Francisco’s many dynamic neighborhoods here. In order to see the famed Golden Gate Bridge, follow the masses to the touristic Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood (which gives breathtaking views of Alcatraz).
But be sure to set aside some time to visit the Castro, the Haight, and the Mission District, so you can experience all the many San Francisco lifestyles. And when you’re ready for a break from the city, take a day excursion with one of San Francisco’s top wine tours.
- #1 in Best Foodie Cities in the U.S.
- #2 in Best Places to Visit in California
- #4 in Best Summer Vacations in the USA
- #6 in Best Nightlife Cities in the U.S.
- #9 in Best Places to Visit in September
- #10 in Best Weekend Getaways
- #11 in Best Places to Visit in the USA
- #16 in Best Fall Vacations
Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is situated on the border of Canada and Montana and is named for the ice age glaciers that still remain there. Because of the breathtaking variety of its natural beauty, it is frequently referred to as the “Crown of the Continent.” The park is a popular destination for hikers and offers a choice of trails for all abilities, from the simple Trail of the Cedars (which is lined with majestic cedar trees) to the difficult Grinnell Glacier (which offers sweeping views). Additionally, the park’s more than 1 million acres, more than 700 lakes, several waterfalls, and two mountain ranges provide as a haven for a diversity of wildlife.
In addition to its stunning geological characteristics, it has a significant quantity of history. The Going-to-the-Sun Road, a picturesque 50-mile journey across the park that is a National Historic Landmark and an engineering wonder, provides access to well-liked hiking routes as well as breathtaking views. In addition, the Great Northern Railway built several of the lodges, chalets, and hotels in the park in the early 20th century, and they are all listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Would you like to see a UNESCO World Heritage Site? The Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park is also located nearby.
Glacier National Park introduced a ticketed admission system through September 6, 2021 for several site entrances to reduce the number of visitors to the park. For more information, go to the website of the National Park Service.
- #1 in Best Places to Visit in June
- #1 in Best Places to Hike in North America
- #2 in Best Cheap Vacations in the U.S.
- #2 in Best Cheap Honeymoons in the U.S.
- #3 in Best National Parks in the World
- #3 in Best U.S. National Parks
- #5 in Best Places to Visit in the USA
- #5 in Best Summer Vacations in the USA
- #8 in Best Cheap Romantic Getaways
- #11 in Best Cheap Summer Vacations
- #13 in World’s Best Places to Visit
Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park is home to Wyoming’s spectacular Teton Mountains, which rise sharply above Jackson Hole Valley with snow-capped peaks. The photo opportunities are abundant, from the dazzling Jenny and Jackson lakes to the 13,770-foot Grand Teton, which reflects the mountains in its depths. But only mountaineers and photographers should visit the park.
In the height of summer, the region’s trails beckon hikers of all levels and provide treasures like undiscovered waterfalls and spectacular Tetons views. The Snake River, meanwhile, draws kayakers, rafters, and people who just like to float. History buffs who are interested in this section of the Western Frontier’s past in the 19th century are drawn to historic areas like Menors Ferry and Mormon Row.
In addition to a variety of species, the almost 500 square mile park is home to black bears, grizzlies, moose, antelope, and bison. Visitors may also see the park turn golden in the autumn. Travelers can drive the few miles north to Yellowstone, which is close to Grand Teton, if they wish to visit two national parks in one trip.
- #3 in Best Cheap Vacations in the U.S.
- #6 in Best Summer Vacations in the USA
- #6 in Best U.S. National Parks
- #8 in Best Places to Hike in North America
- #9 in Best Places to Visit in the USA
- #10 in Best National Parks in the World
- #20 in Best Cheap Family Vacations
Bar Harbor, Maine, is well-known for being the entrance to Acadia National Park and has a long-standing reputation as a picturesque retreat that encapsulates all the state’s best attributes. Its location along Frenchman Bay affords visitors a wealth of tranquil water vistas to their left and right, as well as rugged coasts that seem to have been plucked from a landscape painting. Additionally, it serves as the ideal starting place for some of Maine’s top whale watching excursions.
In addition, the community cultivates a unique charm that gives the impression that you have left reality and entered a storybook. However, the quantity of mouthwatering local lobster will undoubtedly bring you back to reality. This is the kind of location you go to to refresh and rediscover the simple pleasures: taking a leisurely stroll, admiring the water as the day wears off, and indulging in delectable local cuisine. All of that fits in perfectly with Bar Harbor.
- #1 in Best Cheap Summer Vacations
- #1 in Best Small Towns to Visit in the USA
- #2 in Best Mountain Towns to Visit in the USA
- #2 in Best Places to Visit in Maine
- #4 in Best Weekend Getaways in New England
- #5 in Best Cheap Vacations in the U.S.
- #7 in Best Summer Vacations in the USA
- #12 in Best Places to Visit in July
- #16 in Best Places to Visit in the USA
- #16 in Best Summer Vacations
- #19 in Best Family Vacations in the USA
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The 522,427-acre Great Smoky Mountains National Park is located in both Tennessee and North Carolina, with the state line running through its middle. From the Paleo Indians of prehistory to the European settlers of the 19th century, humans have inhabited the highlands for a very long time. As one of the few free national parks in America, the park is now visited by more than 10 million visitors annually who take part in outdoor activities including hiking, biking, and fishing as well as beautiful drives to Cades Cove and along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.
Bring a lunch if you plan to cycle the Cades Cove Loop on Wednesdays between May and September when the road is closed to traffic or go on one of the breathtaking treks to Abrams or Rainbow Falls. At the Cades Cove Visitor Center, check out the ancient gristmill and Cable Mill. At the Sugarlands Visitor Center, visit the wildlife exhibits, watch a documentary about the park, and buy one-of-a-kind gifts.
The summer months (June, July, and August) and the fall are the ideal periods to explore Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The busiest month during the summer is July, while the weekends in October are popular with people who want to see the fall foliage. No matter what time of year you visit, take clothes and a rain jacket because the park has a diverse landscape with heights ranging from 875 feet to more than 6,000 feet, and temperatures can change by up to 20 degrees from the peak to the base. In the summer, it gets very hot, with highs in the 80s in lower elevations and mid-60s in higher elevations.
Although the lower elevations have a more temperate environment with winter temperatures in the 50s, winters in the higher elevations can see temperatures plummet into the mid-30s and result in road closures due to snow. The excellent time to go is in mid-September, when the summer crowds have dispersed and lodging costs are at their lowest. For crisp fall weekends in October, rates will be higher. January through March sees the majority of the yearly snowfall. There are also less tourists and cheaper hotel prices throughout the early spring (March to May). The park is open every day of the year, however certain visitor centers, campgrounds, and historic sites close in the winter.
- #2 in Best Places to Visit in the Carolinas
- #3 in Best Places to Visit in Tennessee
- #5 in Best Fall Vacations
- #8 in Best Summer Vacations in the USA
- #10 in Best U.S. National Parks
- #13 in Best Places to Visit in October
State: North Carolina and Tennessee
You’ll need to slow down if you want to blend in on Hilton Head. Although affluent visitors may frequent this 42 square mile barrier island, you don’t have to run to keep up with the Joneses. Follow the leisurely pace of the locals; they are a mix of East Coast mainlanders who make Hilton Head their second home and descendants of the Gullah, or the area’s freed slaves who established there.
The world-class fairways will draw white-haired retirees and young families as your vacation companions (thanks to the clean beaches). As a result, if you’re searching for a wild nightlife, this might not be the place for you. Not that there isn’t nightlife; there is, but it typically takes the shape of leisurely sunset meals and live music on the waterfront. In other words, you came to Hilton Head to unwind.
If you are familiar with the island, you are aware that it became known for its wealth through activities like tennis, golf, and “spa-ing.” However, you could go your entire holiday here without ever picking up a tennis racquet or golf club. The Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge and the Coastal Discovery Museum are only two of the island’s many natural beauties. There are also 12 miles of sandy beaches. Therefore, whether you come to practice your backhand, observe low country fauna up close, or just to unwind on the sand,
- #2 in Best South Carolina Beaches
- #5 in Best Places to Visit in the Carolinas
- #6 in Best Family Beach Vacations in the U.S.
- #9 in Best Summer Vacations in the USA
- #9 in Best Family Spring Break Destinations
- #12 in Best Places to Visit in April
- #15 in Best Weekend Getaways in the South
- #21 in Best Beaches in the U.S.
- #25 in Best Small Towns to Visit in the USA
State: South Carolina
In “Life on the Mississippi,” Mark Twain observed, “It is futile for the infrequent visitor to try to keep up with Chicago – she outgrows his prophesies faster than he can make them.” Even though Twain formed his opinion of Chicago before it celebrated its 50th anniversary, his impression of the city has stood the test of time. The third-largest city in America has been described in a wide variety of ways over the years.
Chicago was regarded as a city of industry when Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla fought it out for the right to utilize their respective types of electricity to illuminate the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition (also known as the Chicago World’s Fair). Famous mobsters like Al Capone turned Chicagoland into their own lethal playground when Prohibition came into effect. And during the 20th century, the Windy City experienced tremendous immigrant waves that brought a variety of new identities, including Greek, Polish, Italian, Irish, and Jewish.
Chicago is still incredibly varied today, with a bustling arts scene, numerous retail areas, and an abundance of restaurants. Newcomers to Chi-Town will undoubtedly spend at least a day or two looking up. Chicago’s skyscrapers and public artwork are unquestionably beautiful: You’ll find yourself gazing upward a lot if you go on a Chicago Architecture River Cruise or spend some time in Millennium Park.
Visit the Skydeck Chicago in the Willis Tower or the 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck at the John Hancock Center for a bird’s-eye view. After that, immerse yourself in everything the city has to offer, including its world-class museums, vibrant sports scene, and deep-dish pizza that redefines wonderful. If you want some assistance getting about Chi-Town, think about joining one of the top Chicago tours.
- #1 in Best Weekend Getaways in the Midwest
- #3 in Best Foodie Cities in the U.S.
- #7 in Best Weekend Getaways
- #7 in Best Nightlife Cities in the U.S.
- #10 in Best Summer Vacations in the USA
- #10 in Best Places to Visit in September
- #15 in Best Summer Vacations
- #19 in Best Places to Visit in the USA