The Most Beautiful Cities in the United States You Won’t Want to Miss
The United States is a large country filled with incredible diversity. The cities of each region offer such remarkably different landscapes, from the coastal beach towns of Florida to the sprawling metropolis of New York City. The low desert of Phoenix to the European inspiration of San Francisco and the almost small-town feel of Milwaukee.
Each of these cities offers its own flavor and charm reflecting the diverse cultures, rich histories, and incredible scenery that makes this country so enjoyable to visit. Here are the most beautiful cities in the United States that you’ll want to add to your travel wish list.
Some links in this article may be affiliate links, which means that if you purchase through them, I receive a small commission. This will never cost you extra, and I appreciate your support!
The Valley of the Sun is a top destination in the southwestern United States. People visit Arizona from around the world to enjoy this thriving desert landscape and bustling city with moderate winter temperatures.
Phoenix is perfectly situated in a valley surrounded by mountains, so hiking a popular thing to do. It’s a resort town given the moderate temperatures during much of the year. There are a lot of high-end hotels with incredible restaurants and spas to soak your troubles away.
Check out the many incredible and unique museums like the Musical Instrument Museum and the Heard Museum, where you can learn about Native American art. Gain an appreciation of the beauty of the desert at the Desert Botanical Garden and the Boyce Arboretum. Go to the Big Surf waterpark or go tubing on the Salt River.
Or check out the Japanese Friendship Garden or the Farm at South Mountain if you want to do something a little different. Another great option is a day trip to the incredible red-rock town of Sedona. There are so many things to do in this area!
The best time of year to visit is basically any time except for the summer as temperatures soar to well over 105°F (40°C or more). You do need a car to get around but driving is easy in this grid-lined city. Stay in either downtown Phoenix or old town Scottsdale to be near the action and within walking distance of great restaurants. Phoenix is very much a foodie town!
Sam from My Flying Leap
Los Angeles, California
As a city best known for its iconic Hollywood and entertainment industry, LA is a Mecca for movie lovers. However, there’s so much more to Los Angeles than just Hollywood! LA is also one of the world’s most culturally diverse cities. Visitors are guaranteed to find food, music, and arts from every corner of the world. And with gorgeous sandy beaches only a few minutes’ drive away from the skyline, is there anything more a traveler could ask for?
Visiting the Universal Studios, Griffith Observatory, and the Walk of Fame are a must for any first-time visitor to Los Angeles. If you have time, visit the cultural districts of Little Tokyo, Olvera Street, and Koreatown to indulge in delicious Korean food? Santa Monica Pier is another great spot to visit, especially for animal lovers. Visitors have the chance to feed the local sea lions.
Thanks to its location in sunny southern California, Los Angeles is enjoyable any time of the year. It never gets too cold or too hot. There are also countless festivals across the city at any given time that visitors can enjoy. Some favorites are movie premieres and cultural or ethnic celebrations and conventions. Therefore, it’s a good idea to look up events in the city just as your travel date approaches.
Generally speaking the best way to get around Southern California is by car. Though, I recommend trying out public transportation when in Los Angeles to avoid long traffic jams and parking issues. The city’s iconic Union Station connects the downtown area with LAX airport and many other nearby cities. There is also a decent subway and bus network in the city.
It’s not a bad idea to book an affordable accommodation outside of the city and commute to downtown LA by train or bus.
Arabela from The Spicy Travel Girl
Sacramento, California is the capital of the state but still maintains a low-key and small-town type of vibe. It’s between Lake Tahoe and the San Francisco Bay Area, two of the top travel destinations in northern California.
Sacramento has an old historic town district that is right next to the Sacramento River. It has an old western and California look and feel with historic buildings, the railroad museum and station, and other popular attractions to explore.
Top attractions include the Capitol building, the impressive Crocker Art Museum, and historic Fort Sutter, where gold was initially brought in from the Sierra foothills. The Governor’s mansion, Leland Stanford Mansion are very popular. And, there are a variety of museums including the California Museum and Sacramento Museum.
Being a river city, there are so many outdoor activities. People enjoy the many hiking and biking trails, river park areas for activities like boating, kayaking, white water rafting, running, climbing, and trekking. There are many open and wild park areas close to the city.
The city is spread out, so having a car lets you do your own self-tour to see the most of the city. A few days or a weekend is enough time to explore the city. Stay around the old town or places closer to the capital building. There are many hotels central to the downtown area.
Although Sacramento is a year-round destination, the best time to visit is during the summer months. There are a lot of outdoor venues where you can enjoy being outside enjoying a great time in the city.
Noel from Visit California and Beyond
San Diego, California
San Diego is known as America’s Finest City for a number of reasons. World-class beaches and surfing and some of the best fish tacos you’ll eat. Also, the famous San Diego Zoo in the must-stop Balboa Park. These are just a taste of what you’ll experience in San Diego.
The city is a year-round destination. Though you’ll hear locals complaining about May Gray and June Gloom, a phenomenon that brings low-level clouds into San Diego in the mornings that burn off by the afternoon.
Those gloomy days are perfect for taking in some of the best hikes in and around the city. Torrey Pines State Reserve is perfect for treks overlooking the beach, with one trail even climbing down into the sand. Mission Trails Regional Park offers the easiest access from the city center, with trails of all levels.
San Diego is best enjoyed with a car. The city does have a trolley system and network of buses, though public transportation likely won’t connect you everywhere you wish to go. Especially to some of the best hikes and beaches north of the city center.
As far as where to stay in San Diego, it depends on your priorities. Budget-savvy travelers should look for accommodations in Mission Valley. It’s not the most exciting part of town but is a quick drive to the beaches to the west, Balboa Park, and downtown at often half the cost. Beach bums will love the quintessential surf neighborhoods of Pacific Beach or Ocean Beach. Foodies should stay in the Little Italy neighborhood, one of the most delicious parts of town.
While you’re in Little Italy, try one of the offerings from celebrity chef Richard Blais. Juniper & Ivy is the fancier restaurant, serving up modern American cuisine and the not-so-secret “In-n-Haute” burger. The Crack Shack is his casual, playful eatery where fried chicken is the star. Don’t leave San Diego or The Crack Shack without trying the chicken oysters.
Agnes from Travel on the Reg
San Francisco, California
The Golden City of San Francisco is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in the US for its stunning nature, laid-back atmosphere, and the various cultural activities it offers. In fact, this city truly has something for everyone. It’s home to tons of beautiful parks, art galleries, and exquisite places to eat.
The obvious top thing to do in SF is to admire the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Better yet, rent a bike nearby and bike across the bridge, all the way to Sausalito. This is truly a fun way to experience the city!
Fans of art and culture should definitely stop by the scenic Palace Of Fine Art. It hosts various expos and theater performances throughout the year. Museum-lovers will love the amazing science exhibitions at the California Academy of Sciences inside the Golden Gate Park.
San Francisco is also home to lots of green spaces. Dolores Park in the Mission has a lovely laid-back atmosphere and is the perfect place for a picnic. There’s also a nice green space in front of the iconic Painted Ladies. This picturesque row of colorful houses should be on every SF itinerary.
For the best grub in town, stop by Hog Island Oyster Co. in Embarcadero. They offer delicious seafood and Sotto Mare if you’re a fan of Italian food.
There are also plenty of cool things to do near SF. Just a 2-hour drive away is Carmel Beach, one of the best white sand beaches in the US. You can also taste some fine wine in the nearby Napa Valley, and take a ferry to see the historic Alcatraz Island.
San Francisco is a very walkable city. Don’t rent a car because the local Muni buses and metros are very easy to navigate. Visit from September to November to catch the warmest weather. And, stay in the central Union Square area to get easy access to the rest of the city.
Jiayi of The Diary of a Nomad
Though it was once thought of as a sleepy cowtown, today the secret is out: Denver is seriously cool! The Mile High City has recently experienced massive growth, with scores of millennials choosing it as their adopted home over higher-priced coastal cities. This population influx has led to an explosion of hip restaurants, bars, breweries, and (of course) dispensaries.
The number one attraction in Denver is the incredible Red Rocks concert venue. Set on a mountainside amongst giant red rock formations, famous musicians from around the world visit just for the privilege of playing in this one-of-a-kind venue. Just be sure to book your tickets ahead of time, as shows do fill up quickly.
And be sure to check out the hip RiNo (or “River North”) neighborhood for some of the best food and drinks in town. If you’re a foodie, don’t miss the delicious bites served up inside a shipping container at Work & Class. And beer aficionados will love grabbing a craft brew at Our Mutual Friend.
If you’re looking to escape to the nearby mountains to shred some powder, you’ll of course want to visit Denver during winter. But for everyone else, the city is usually best in the warmer months of May through September, when its personality (and its patios) can really shine. With that said, Denver offers something year -round, so there’s never a bad time to check out one of the hippest cities in America!
Nate from Travel Lemming
Washington D.C is the capital of America with places like the White House and Congress. There are a lot of different neighborhoods, parks, museums, and galleries around town that you can visit. Start by checking out Georgetown with its eclectic selection of eateries. You’ll often find live music playing in the evening.
Washington DC is a city of many faces, and it’s one that constantly changes with the times. Besides all the famous attractions like the beautiful neoclassical government buildings, there are new hotels popping up left and right. You’ll also find lots of hip restaurants for your dining pleasure.
And if you’re looking for culture in Washington, head to Glenstone just across the Potomac River. They have both contemporary art exhibitions and natural history exhibits on display. Make plans for a day of exploring the many museums, especially the Smithsonian. Don’t forget the Holocaust Memorial Museum’s exhibits or the lovely artworks at our National Gallery.
Most of the major attractions such as monuments and historic buildings in the center of DC are within walking distance of one another. The easiest (and cheapest) way to get around is on foot. However, you can also use the Metrorail and Metrobus system if you’d prefer.
The best time of year to visit the capital is either in the spring or autumn when the flowers are in bloom or the leaves are changing to gold and red. Both of these times of year are great for photography (the colors look great against the white monuments). In the spring, you’ll be able to see DC’s beautiful cherry blossoms.
The Sheraton Pentagon City Hotel is a great place to stay in DC. You may have to use public transport to get into the city center, but it’s affordable. It’s also within walking distance of a nice little group of restaurants.
Recommended by Alice from Adventures of Alice
Key West, Florida
Key West, the last of the Florida Keys and the southernmost city in the United States, is for sure one of the most beautiful cities to visit in the United States. Especially if you love tropical beaches, nice locals, and a fun island-living atmosphere.
Some of the best things to do in the city include snorkeling with dolphins, going to the beach, and strolling through Duval Street. Or go on a day trip to the famous Dry Tortugas National Park.
The best time to visit would be the months between December and March. Even though it’s winter, the temperature and weather are absolutely perfect at that time of the year. In the summer, it gets way too hot!)
To get around the island, walking or riding a bike will do the trick. Some hotels offer free bikes, or you can rent them pretty much anywhere in town.
The best area to stay in Key West is on Duval Street or right by the beach. That way you will be within walking distance from all of Key West’s best attractions. Some great accommodation options are Ocean Key Resort & Spa, Orchid Key Inn, and Parrot Key Hotel & Villas.
Last but not least, make sure to enjoy everything the nightlife in Key West has to offer. You’ll find incredible fine dining restaurants and some of the most fun bars you will ever visit. Key West is a place that is really one of a kind and your visit will be unforgettable!
Camila from Travel Cami
Miami is inarguably one of the best places to visit in the US, especially if you like warm weather. The 7th largest city in the US located in Florida, the Sunshine State, is popular for its beaches.
The noodle-shaped Miami Beach is located on a barrier island protecting the city of Miami. You can enjoy a long stretch of lovely beaches with mild waves and colorful guard towers. Watching the sunrise from one of the beaches is an amazing experience. The southern part of Miami Beach is called South Beach. It provides an eclectic mix of fine restaurants, lively bars, party venues, shops, and beautiful architecture.
Pastel-colored houses line the main road, Ocean Drive, and are just the best backdrop to the unique vibe. No wonder Versace had his private mansion right there.
Downtown Miami belongs to businesses. Vacationers can still enjoy some great restaurants, admire a few large murals and cultural venues. Just north of downtown, you’ll come to the unique Wynwood Art District. It’s a place that has recently started gaining momentum, turned from a warehouse storage into a hip district complete with fun cafés, restaurants, shops, and creative spaces.
Greater Miami features a few more established neighborhoods that are well worth visiting. Little Havana has a Cuban heart and soul, Coconut Grove offers a sneak-peek into local history, and Coral Gables is a beautiful showcase of large mansions with a 1920’s Venetian pool.
It’s easy to get around Miami without a car. The public transport network is dense and works well. Plus in recent years, ridesharing has made it even easier to move around without your own set of wheels.
While you can easily go to Miami year-round. But to avoid the biggest heat and the hurricane season, visit in the spring – from March to May.
Veronika from Travel Geekery
When it comes to visiting some of America’s best cities, Orlando, Florida should be high on your list. It’s a great place for family fun or a romantic getaway. It’s more than just Disney properties, with a crazy amount of fun packed into its 125 square miles.
Orlando boasts countless attractions including water parks and museums. And that’s on top of the actual Disney World properties which include the Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Universal Orlando, and Islands of Adventure to name just a few.
To experience a taste of Disney World without going all in, Universal’s CityWalk is a great place to go. Besides the cost of parking, it’s free to walk around, shop, and dine. There’s always plenty of free entertainment and nightlife to enjoy.
Orlando also has a wealth of secluded natural spots close by that many Disney-goers never see. Lake Eola in downtown Orlando is a quiet oasis in the middle of the city surrounded by lush greenery and high-rise hotels. Or nearby Blue Springs State Park makes a perfect day trip from Orlando with the family. You can go swimming, boating, and looking for manatees and other Florida wildlife.
For a fabulous dining spot that elevates locally sourced restaurants to new heights, it’s hard to beat The Ravenous Pig. This upscale eatery has James-Beard nominated chefs so don’t let the name fool you.
The best time of year to visit Orlando is in the winter which has perfect temps. But, shoulder season and summer is the best time to go to avoid the heavy crowds.
Lori from Travelinmad
Atlanta, Georgia is one of the best cities to visit in the United States with top attractions and lovely hidden gems. The city has a little something for everyone with incredible restaurants to satisfy foodies, well-curated museums for history, science, and sports buffs. It also has lovely gardens if you’re in need of a little R&R.
Visit the Atlanta Botanical Gardens to see the epic topiary sculptures. These include a dragon, phoenix, and a mermaid. It also has some dedicated to Alice in Wonderland, a themed exhibit that’s been running for a few years.
Ponce City Market is a great shopping center and food hall with delicious Indian street food at Botiwalla. You can get 100 beers on tap at Tap on Ponce, and there’s an iconic popsicle stand that took Atlanta by storm called King of Pops. (You can even get a pupsicle for your furry friends).
Another fun thing to do is visit the Georgia Aquarium, one of the top-rated in the country. It has beautiful exhibits for various ecosystems, animal shows and demonstrations, and an aquarium tunnel to walk through.
The best time of year to visit Atlanta is in the spring and fall for mild climates and fewer crowds. You’ll likely want a car to get around, although you can take public transportation via busses and train called MARTA.
Atlanta has many neighborhoods with different personalities and price points. For a central location, stay in Midtown or downtown. The Marriot Marquis is a lovely hotel in the center of everything with an over-the-top interior you may recognize from the Hunger Games films.
Finally, be sure to check out Atlanta’s many music festivals including Music Midtown, Shaky Knees, and Shaky Beats. They bring artists like Kendrick Lamar, Post Malone, Panic! at the Disco, Queens of the Stone Age, and more!
Alanna from Periodic Adventures
The outstanding beauty and southern charm of Savannah put this coastal Georgian city among the most beautiful cities in the United States. A long weekend in Savannah will give you the perfect introduction to the city. You’ll want to come back to explore even more.
There are so many wonderful things to do in Savannah. You can easily spend a full day roaming around the Historic District, admiring the historic squares, mansions, and churches dotted around the district. Take a break in beautiful Forsyth Park, stopping to take photos.
In the evening, check out one of the many ghost tours of Savannah. The city is said to be one of the most haunted in the United States. There are haunted hearse tours, walking ghost tours, and even haunted bar crawls that will take you to Savannah’s spookiest spots.
Other fun things to do in Savannah include walking around the shops on River Street. Also, exploring the hauntingly beautiful Bonaventure Cemetery, or taking a trip out to Wormsloe Historic Site.
Savannah is a great year-round destination. For the best weather, opt to visit in the spring or fall. Summer is still a fun time to visit, but the humid Georgia heat can be a bit much. Not to mention the summer tourist crowds.
Staying in the Historic District is your best bet. Hotels are cheaper outside of the city, but the money you’d save on your room will be spent on Ubers to get to Savannah’s main attractions. Staying in the Historic District is convenient as the area is very walkable. No car needed here!
Sydney from A World in Reach
One of the most tropical cities to visit in the United States is Honolulu, Hawaii. It’s the biggest city on the island of Oahu and it’s the home of many of the top Oahu things to do.
The best time of year to visit Honolulu is during Hawaii’s shoulder season. It runs from mid-April to June in the spring and from September to mid-December in the fall.
The best area to stay in is right in Waikiki. This is a convenient location where visitors can walk to many Oahu attractions, beaches, restaurants, and shops. Plus, there’s the Waikiki Trolley that makes life so easy for visitors to not rent a car on Oahu.
When staying in Waikiki, it’s not necessary to rent a car for the entire trip. However, visitors might want to rent one for a few days to fully explore Oahu. When walking around Waikiki, be sure to stop in at Aloha Whip at the Queen Kapiolani Hotel to taste pineapple Dole Whip.
Head to the tiny Musubi Café to pick up pre-wrapped Japanese musubi and bento boxes to take to the beach. While in Honolulu, go shopping at Ala Moana Center, the world’s largest outdoor shopping center. It features top brands as well as Hawaii boutiques.
There’s also the historic Iolani Palace (the only royal palace in the United States). Or learn more about Hawaiian culture at the Bishop Museum. Plus, Waikiki Beach has awesome surfing lessons, a submarine ride, cool photo spots, and so much more.
Marcie Cheung from Hawaii Travel with Kids
Boise, Idaho has risen from obscurity to become the fastest-growing city in the US. It’s not hard to see why. Its sublime beauty, high quality of life, economic growth, and growing food scene make it a stand-out.
The best things to do in Boise are all about exploring its natural beauty. Rent a bike downtown and head to the Boise River Greenbelt. This 25-mile paved pathway follows along the Boise River and takes you to numerous city parks and Garden City, the revitalized “hipster” neighborhood full of coffee shops and interesting boutiques.
If it’s summertime, skip the bike ride and tube down the Boise River for a leisurely 2-hour ride. If you want to live like a local, stop by Payette Brewery first, where they have take-away coolers stocked with craft beer.
You’ll want to save time to explore the walkable downtown area. Check out Freak Alley, the largest outdoor gallery in the Northwest. Then head over to The Funky Taco for some of Boise’s most delicious and creative food.
When choosing where to lodge, you can’t beat downtown Boise for its location to everything. If you stay downtown, you can get by using an Uber or Lyft. However, you’ll need to rent a car if you want to take day trips or stay in the charming North End. It’s the neighborhood closest to downtown Boise.
While you can visit Boise year-round, the best weather will be in late spring and early fall. Its high desert location means summers can often top out at 100 degrees and more.
Christina from Live A Wilder Life
When it comes to US cities, Chicago shouldn’t be missed. Historically the second biggest city after New York and still in the top five today, Chicago is one of the most fascinating cities in the country.
Diversity, history, and culture are all things Chicago can boast. Each trip to this city can hold new experiences.
The best time to visit Chicago is in the summer. There are tons of different events and festivals going on. These include free concerts and movies at Millennium Park to a variety of food and music festivals. You’ll also find daily light shows at Buckingham Fountain, and weekly fireworks at Navy Pier over Lake Michigan.
Contrary to what many believe, the temperature can get really hot in the summer. However, the lake is always nearby for a swim. Chicago boasts several urban, sandy beaches where you can pretend you’re seaside, but with world-renowned skyscrapers gleaming behind you.
Additionally, the summertime is a great time for outdoor activities. You can kayak on the Chicago River, go to Lincoln Park Zoo, and take a sunset cruise on Lake Michigan.
Seasonal-independent activities include getting a bird’s eye view of the city from Chicago’s tallest buildings, enjoying the excellent dining and bar scene, and taking a walk along the lakeside path. The best rainy-day activity is visiting a museum, and Chicago boasts a lot!
If you plan to visit just the city, public transportation (CTA or buses) is the best way to get around. Parking can be very expensive. The Loop area is walkable and a great area to stay if you don’t have a car. If you’d like to explore the Chicagoland area, such as more secluded beaches north of the city or the Chicago Botanical Gardens, then you’re better off with a car.
Natalie from Voyage Scribe
New Orleans, Louisiana
When looking for the most beautiful cities to visit in the United States, it is impossible to exclude the wonderfully unique southern city of New Orleans. Home of jazz music and vibrant celebrations like Mardi Gras, this incredible city is unlike any other in the country.
New Orleans blends French influence with Creole flavors, all to the background of music that you can’t help but dance to. Visitors will want to stay around the French Quarter, the tourist heart of the city.
From here, you’re close to the almost tacky if they weren’t so fun tourist traps of Bourbon Street. You’re a short walk from the amazing music bars of Frenchmen Street and a streetcar away from the lush mansions of the Garden District.
NOLA, as it is affectionately known, is great to visit at any time of year. But, it’s definitely worth visiting around Mardi Gras time in the February – March months. This is a great time to experience the true culture and vibrance of the city. It’s easy to get around by foot or streetcar. Unless you’re looking to venture outside of the main city area, there’s no need to have a car to get around.
Outside of bar hopping and music, there’s still plenty to do in New Orleans. Carnival lovers will want to experience the warehouses of Mardi Gras World, an opportunity to go behind the scenes to learn how the festival’s amazing floats are created. History buffs might be interested in exploring Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 with its unique French-style above-ground graves.
Emma Jane from Emma Jane Explores
As one of the most historic cities in America, Boston offers a blend of old and new in a beautiful coastal location. Start your visit with a walk along the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile red brick path that passes by sixteen significant historic sites. Stop by the Boston Tea Party and Ships Museum which presents events of the American Revolution with interactive exhibits and costumed interpreters.
Art lovers can visit the Museum of Fine Arts or the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Sports fans can catch a Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park.
Consider taking a tour of the world-renowned Harvard University campus and stay in the area for lunch or dinner. There is a great selection of dining and shopping options in nearby Harvard Square.
Another fun dining option are the food halls. Try Boston Public Market or Bow Market for local vendors and regional producers. Eataly Boston offers Italian-inspired choices or go to the famous Quincy Market, which is historic if a bit touristy. For classic Boston lobster rolls and oysters, try Neptune Oyster in the North End.
Popular events in the city are the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration and the iconic Boston Marathon. The marathon welcomes 30,000 participants and their supporters every April. Book well in advance to secure accommodation during these times.
Recommended areas to stay in are Back Bay or Beacon Hill. Both are close to the main attractions and have ample dining, shopping and hotel choices. There is no need to rent a car in Boston as there is a well-connected public transport network with a subway system. Many of the main sights are within walking distance.
The best time to visit is late spring or early fall to enjoy warmer temperatures without the summer tourist crowds.
Contributed by Claire from Claire Pins Travel
As the largest city of Minnesota, there are plenty of things to do and see in Minneapolis. If you’re planning a weekend getaway or a quick city trip, then Minneapolis is a fantastic choice.
While it’s possible to navigate the city center by public transport, having a car is still advisable so you can reach places a little further out of town. This also depends on where you’re staying. So, if you have a hotel or Airbnb in Downtown Minneapolis, you might get by without one and won’t have to worry about finding parking spots.
Downtown is definitely the best place to go for sightseeing and nightlife and you can even walk to local restaurants and bars. Definitely make sure to visit the Minneapolis Institute of Art which has an incredible collection of different types of paintings. Or, visit the Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.
If museums are not for you, you might enjoy the M&M’s Mall of America which includes a theme park and of course plenty of shopping. For a more nature-based activity outside of town, head to Minnehaha Falls.
You can visit Minneapolis year-round, but the best time to go will be in summer from May to August. During this time the weather is warm and dry and you’ll get to enjoy many sunny days outdoors.
Victoria from Guide Your Travel
St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis is one of the best cities to visit in the United States, especially for history lovers. It has a variety of fun sites to see and tons of delicious barbeque places.
Although St. Louis is fun to visit anytime of the year, opt to visit in the summertime for the 4th of July or in the springtime before it gets too hot. St. Louis hosts a really cool celebration throughout the city for the 4th. If you choose to visit during the wintertime, keep in mind it will be snowy.
The best and most convenient area to stay in St. Louis is the downtown area. To save some money, you can opt to stay by the airport as it is still close to most of the sites. If you stay downtown, you will not need a car. Though, sometimes it is easier to drive around the city rather than take public transportation. The MetroLink line does run past most of the main areas.
When visiting St. Louis, a visit to Gateway Arch National Park is a must! This area includes the infamous Gateway Arch, a museum, the Old Courthouse where the Dread Scott decision was made, and a nice waterfront area. Nearby is also the City Garden Sculpture Park, a perfect place to wander around or have a picnic.
If it is baseball season, make sure to catch a Cardinals game at Busch Stadium. Other noteworthy sites include the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, the City Museum, Forest Park, the Missouri Botanical Gardens, and the Scott Joplin House. Food wise, make sure to grab some BBQ from Sugarfire Smokehouse and a frozen custard from Ted Drews.
No matter what, St. Louis has plenty to keep you busy for an entire weekend.
Francesca from Homeroom Travel
The state of Montana might not initially cross your mind, but Billings is one of the best cities to visit in the United States. Located on the ancestral land of the Apsáalooke (Crow) Tribe, Billings is the largest city in the state. It has some of the best access to nature in the country.
Summer is the most comfortable season to visit, with clear weather and warmer temperatures. Summer also hosts the most seasonal festivals, such as the annual Strawberry Festival, the YAM Fair, and the Crow Powwow.
Having your own vehicle is strongly recommended as some parts of the city are spread out. It is especially useful if you plan to hit up some of the major nearby outdoor attractions such as Pictograph Cave State Park (15 minutes), Bighorn Mountain Loop (45 minutes), and Yellowstone National Park (2 hours).
If you choose to stay within the city, be sure to enjoy the local restaurants in between your exciting activities. Start off at the Sassy Biscuit Co for breakfast. Then head to the Moss Mansion to learn about the family who helped mold the city into what it is today. For a fast-casual lunch, Five on Black is one of the most popular Brazilian local spots. Or you can swing by the Burger Dive for a delicious burger that was even featured on The Travel Channel.
For indoor activities, the best batting cages are at D-BAT Billings, where even beginners can learn to hit like All-Stars. Or check out the Yellowstone Art Museum to browse works by local and regional artists. Be sure to check the Babcock Theater for showtimes as well!
Then, when you’re winding down from the day’s activities, end your night with dinner at the Fieldhouse. Here you can enjoy local brews and farm-to-table bites.
Kay from The Awkward Traveller
Las Vegas, Nevada
A fun city to visit in the United States is Las Vegas, Nevada! It’s extremely unique and packed full of things to see and do.
One of the best things to do is to ‘hotel hop’ along The Strip! Many of the hotels have a theme and different attractions. There’s definitely more to Las Vegas than just gambling!
Some hotels worth checking out are: New York New York, which has a huge New York City skyline and a giant roller coaster, and the Bellagio for the free water fountain display shows. Also check out the Venetian with both indoor and outdoor canals and gondola rides, and The Strat Hotel & SkyPod.
For thrill-seekers, check out the rides on the 108th floor of the SkyPod tower. If you want to go one step further, you can even jump off the top of the tower with SkyJump!
Away from The Strip, Fremont Street is worth checking out. Visit in the evening to enjoy the light show projected on the ceiling. There’s also a zip line that runs almost the full length of the street!
It’s best to avoid visiting Las Vegas in the height of summer, as daytime temperatures reach on average 104°F (40°C). A car isn’t necessarily needed to explore, however many of the hotels offer free parking. It’s easier to rely on public transport (buses or the monorail) or use a service such as Uber.
The main draw to Las Vegas is all the hotels, so there are more than enough options to choose from. The Strat Hotel is a good place to stay if you are looking for somewhere close to the Strip and in a slightly quieter area.
Before arriving, make a list of must-sees and group them together by location. It can often take longer than expected to get from A to B!
Kylie from Between England and Iowa
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albuquerque, New Mexico is an amazing Southwest city located in the Chihuahuan Desert on Route 66. Temperatures are mild throughout the year. Expect high 80’s and sunshine in the summer and mid 40’s in the winter.
If you are a fan of nostalgia, plan a summer visit during the Route 66 Summerfest. Wine lovers should visit in the spring for the New Mexico Wine Festival. The nearby ski slopes open in the winter months and fall brings chili roasting season and the State Fair. The bucket list-worthy Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is held the first two weeks of October and should be attended at least once.
In addition to the world’s largest balloon festival, Albuquerque has everything the American Southwest is known for. You will find desert landscapes, adobe architecture, Mariachi, ristras, pueblo communities, and turquoise jewelry.
The Hotel Albuquerque is a great place to stay within walking distance of the Old Town Plaza. Fans of the popular Breaking Bad tv series will want to take an organized tour of filming sights. Stop by The Candy Lady for a selfie with the blue “meth” candy filming prop.
Be sure to spend time outdoors on the Rio Grande and watch the mountains turn pink at sunset from the Hotel Parq Central rooftop bar. You will want to rent a car to visit the Turquoise Trail and tour Sky City at Acoma Pueblo.
If time allows, a day trip to Santa Fe or the Taos Pueblo is worth the drive. Be sure to eat tamales, Indian tacos, and sopapillas before you leave the city.
Sherianne from Out of Office blog
New York City, New York
If it’s not already, New York City, aka the Big Apple, should be on your travel bucket list. It’s home to many of the top cultural and historical sites in the United States, as well as being a premier shopping and food destination. Essentially, New York is perfect for any kind of traveler.
You can see some of the biggest attractions with just one day in New York City. First-time visitors should consider staying for about four days so they can take in more of the sites and culture.
Sites that should be on every first-timer’s itinerary include: the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, the Empire State Building, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Brooklyn Bridge. If you have time, add the High Line, Washington Square Park, and Grand Central Station.
Stay in Midtown Manhattan or thereabouts to be within walking distance of some of the attractions you’ll want to visit. And you’re close to many convenient subway stops. New York City can be quite hot in the summer and quite cold and snowy in the winter, so try to visit in the spring or fall if you can. Some travelers prefer visiting New York during the festive Christmas season despite the potential for bad weather.
The best (and cheapest) ways to get around New York are on foot or the subway. If you don’t prefer the subway—though you should at least try it—then you can flag down a taxi or use a ride-sharing service like Uber.
Darcy from Plan, Ready, Go
Raleigh, North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina is not exactly known as a tourist destination. But, if you take a closer look, you will find a fun and vibrant city full of fun things to do year-round.
You will definitely want to consider renting a car to get around although Uber and Lyft are readily available. The city is very spread out but staying downtown is super fun. It will allow you to walk to some of the best restaurants in this budding foodie destination.
Need somewhere to eat that is quick and delicious? Check out Morgan Street Food Hall. For dinner, get a reservation at Brewery Bhavana – you will not regret it! While you are downtown, also be sure to check out the local street art, the amazing museums, stores, and historic sites.
Beyond downtown, there are endless opportunities for fun as well. Go hiking, biking, kayaking, and more in the city’s many outdoor parks and recreation areas. If you time it just right, catch a show, sporting event, or one of the area’s many free festivals.
Check out some of the fantastic shopping – we personally love the North Hills area and Village District! Finally, do not miss the NC Museum of Art, Pullen Park, and NC Farmer’s Market.
Whether you’re visiting Raleigh with kids, as a couple, or even solo, you are guaranteed to find a whole lot of fun!
Another North Carolina favorite is Asheville.
Julie from More than Main Street
The quirky city of Portland, Oregon is known for a few things including gourmet doughnuts and a fantastic microbrewery scene. But inarguably, the most famous is being weird.
If you want to get to know this charming city, consider hitting some of its most famous sites like Powell’s City of Books, the largest independent bookstore in the world. Or go to its more unique attractions like Mill Ends Park. It’s the smallest “park” in the world clocking in at 452-square inches and originally dedicated as a colony for leprechauns (i.e., the perfect example of Portland’s weirdness!).
If you’re looking for a more standard tourist attraction, go to the International Rose Test Garde in Washington Park. It has over 10,000 individual rose bushes to wander through and 610 different rose varieties. I’s also how Portland got the nickname the “City of Roses.”
And, it wouldn’t be a trip to Portland without snagging a bougie doughnut. Grab one at Doe Donuts, an all-vegan shop dishing up sweet treats with unique flavors like Banofee Pie or even savory Pierogi!
Finally, get outside the city a little bit to explore Oregon’s gorgeous landscapes. The seemingly endless waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge are only 25 miles east of the city limits.
Portland is best enjoyed in the summertime when the skies are clear and the temperature warm and perfect for moseying about. This is also a great time to explore the city on foot, bicycle, or the plentiful public transit. Unless you’re planning on taking day trips outside the city to explore Oregon’s forests or neighboring wine country, you can certainly get by without renting a car.
As for where to rest your head during your trip, check out the very walkable Mississippi neighborhood. It has more artisanal coffee shops, farm-to-table restaurants, and unique bars than your stomach will be able to handle!
Jessica from Uprooted Traveler
The city of Brotherly Love is overflowing with history. As the first capital of the United States, Philadelphia has a strong passion for sharing that history.
Admire the Liberty Bell, an iconic symbol of American Independence. Then, walk across the street to see where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were debated and signed. See where notorious criminals like Al Capone and Willie Sutton served time at the eerie but fascinating Eastern State Penitentiary.
For fans of the classic Rocky films, take a run up the famous Rocky Steps at the Philadelphia Art Museum with the theme song playing on your cell phone. The Benjamin Franklin Museum explores the life and legacy of Philadelphia’s most famous citizens. Elfreth’s Alley, a historic street dating back to 1703, teaches about the lives of early Philadelphians.
Philadelphia is largely walkable. However, for a stress-free way to get around the city, learn some history, and not miss any of the major landmarks and attractions, get a Philadelphia City Pass. A hop-on-hop-off bus tour is included.
Also, it is not a visit to Philadelphia without trying a mouth-watering Philly Cheesesteak! A few popular locations to try are Sonny’s, Pat’s King Of Steaks, and Gino’s Steaks. A Philly Cheesesteak is a big deal – everyone you ask for their favorite location will give you a different answer!
One of the best locations to stay in Philadelphia is in center city. It is a great location to be able to reach the main points of interest and can walk to almost any part of the city. DoubleTree by Hilton Philadelphia Center is a standard option that is comfortable and convenient.
The best time to visit Philadelphia is between March and May when you will have the most comfortable weather.
Debbie from World Adventurists
Charleston, South Carolina
One of the most beautiful cities in the United States is Charleston, South Carolina. This charming city is full of history, delicious food, and overall beautiful vibes. Whether you’re spending a weekend in Charleston or you’re staying longer, you’re in for a treat.
The best time to visit Charleston is during spring or fall because the weather is cooler. The summer months tend to get hot and humid. A lot of the best things to do in Charleston are outdoors so you definitely want to make sure you go when the weather is ideal.
The downtown area is walkable, but you’ll still need to rent a car in order to see everything that Charleston has to offer. Not everything is located in one area.
When it comes to accommodation options in Charleston, you’ll find plenty of hotels, bed and breakfasts, apartments, cottages, and more. The downtown area is the best area to stay in because you’ll be in the hustle and bustle of the city and within walking distance of restaurants and shops. Alternatively, South of Broad is another fun and lively area to stay in.
The most popular thing to do in Charleston is to explore the Battery. Here you’ll find lavish homes on one side and the Charleston Harbor on the other. Be sure to visit Rainbow Row to learn about these infamous colorful and historic houses. Next, take a selfie in front of the Pineapple Fountain. After that, visit Fort Sumter National Monument. Lastly, visit Angel Oak Tree. This beautiful tree is rumored to be 300-400 years old.
Finally, if you’re looking for an incredible meal, head to Poogan’s Porch where you can indulge in traditional Southern food and cocktails. You also can’t leave without trying these two local Charleston dishes — shrimp and grits and she-crab soup.
Disha from Disha Discovers
One of the best cities to visit in the United States is Nashville. It offers plenty of fun things to do and great places to eat. It’s also a city that you can visit at any time of the year; there is always some kind of festival going on!
If you’re a country music fan, you will love Nashville! The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum tells the history of the music genre and has a lot of cool historic artifacts, costumes, and musical instruments. If you want to experience live country music, head over to Broadway, the most popular street in downtown Nashville. Besides live music, you’ll also find plenty of bars and restaurants.
Speaking of food, when in Nashville you have to visit the famous Hattie B’s Hot Chicken. They have the best hot chicken in Nashville! If pancakes are your thing, stop in to The Pancake Pantry. This restaurant is an institution and has been serving made-from-scratch breakfasts since 1961.
Getting around Nashville is pretty easy, but it can be pricey as parking in downtown is very expensive. So, depending on where you’re staying, it might be cheaper to Uber in and out of the downtown area. Once you’re already downtown, it’s pretty walkable.
With that in mind, cost is another thing to consider when finding a place to stay for your visit. Hotels outside of downtown will be less expensive, but then you have to consider the cost of driving. If you don’t want to have to worry about transportation and you can afford it, a hotel in downtown might be a better option.
Vicky from Buddy The Traveling Monkey
Visitors to Seattle are in for a visual treat when vacationing in the area. On clear days, Mt. Rainer and the surrounding mountain ranges can be seen and the city borders several large lakes and the Puget Sound.
Summertime is beautiful in Seattle. Daytime temperatures range in the 70s and there’s a low chance of the rain that Washington State is so famous for. However, that’s high tourist season, so the best time to visit is in September and October when the weather is still great, but the crowds are lower.
Downtown Seattle has enough attractions to keep tourists busy for several days. It is also where you’ll find the best hotels in the area.
No visit to Seattle would be complete without spending some time at Pike Place Market, an open-air market known for its famous fishmongers. (What’s that you ask? They’re the workers at the fish market who throw freshly caught fish through the air before wrapping it for the customer who bought it. Their show can draw quite a crowd!)
The world-famous Space Needle is also located downtown. You can first take a tour of the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum located at the base of the Needle. If you time it right, you may catch an amazing sunset from the observation deck.
While having your own car to get around is nice, Seattle has enough public transportation to get you around downtown. If that doesn’t meet your needs, you can always use Uber.
There’s much to do outside of downtown Seattle you may want to consider, including the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival that takes place each April. Washington has several state and national parks that are definitely worth checking out. Seattle is definitely worth adding to your bucket list of the most beautiful cities in the United States to visit!
Karee from Our Woven Journey
Located in southeastern Wisconsin, Milwaukee has festivals, food, drinks, and music to create an ideal Midwest vacation. The best time to visit is from June to September as a series of festivals kicks off in June with the music festival Summerfest.
Milwaukee also has other cultural festivals such as Juneteenth, Bastille Days, Polish Fest, Mexican Fiesta, Irish Fest, Indian Summer, etc. For more activities, you can hang out at Bradford Beach on the Lakefront, ride the MKE Boat Line, or go to one of the many farmer’s markets.
Most people stay downtown and renting a car is best to see all of what Milwaukee has to offer. To eat downtown, head to the Milwaukee Public Market and enjoy a variety of food and drinks. They have something for everyone! On the east side, you can go beer tasting at Lakefront Brewery. Or, eat at one of the many restaurants around Brady Street such as the wine bar Bal-Zac or Maharaja for Indian cuisine.
On the north side, the Sherman Phoenix can also fill your food needs with Funky Fresh Spring Rolls, wings from Buffalo Boss, pizza from Sauce and Spice, or baked goods from Confectionately Yours. Riverwest can fulfill your burger and beer needs at Company Brewing or your Italian taste buds at Centro Café.
And head to Zocalo Food Park on the south side in the Walker’s Point for outdoor dining at Mazorca Tacos, Modern Maki sushi, Dairyland Hamburgers, Ruby’s Bagels, and Anytime Arepa. But a proper Milwaukee food tour is not complete without frozen custard from local favorites such as Kopp’s and Kitt’s.
Milwaukee thrives in the Spring and Summer! There is so much to do and eat in the city for a culturally rich experience. It will leave you full and satisfied.
Sojourner from Sojournies
The Most Beautiful Cities in the United States
There you have it! A lengthy list of many of the most beautiful cities in the United States. From some of the largest cities in the country to some smaller cities with a small-town feel. Cities steeped in history and cultural powerhouses, oceanside enclaves, and flashy masterpieces. These are the most beautiful cities in the United States to add to your bucket list.
You Might Also Like
- 25 Best Things to Do in Phoenix (from a Local!)
- The Ultimate 3-Day Las Vegas Itinerary
- What to Do in Chicago for a Weekend
- Fun Things to do in Miami You Won’t Want to Miss
- 11 Things to Do in Portland Oregon—The Fabulously Weird City
- A Local’s Guide to the Top 11 Things to Do in Orlando Besides Disney
- The Best 9 Things to Do in Charleston
- The Best 11 Things to Do in Savannah You Shouldn’t Miss
Like it? Pin it!