Top 12 Travel Destinations in the U.S.
As travel becomes cheaper and increases in connections, it’s easy to feel a bit lost about where to go next and what’s worth seeing. To help you find inspiration for those dream vacations, this list puts together the 12 most visited cities in the United States with some of the most popular attractions and things to do. While there are many more places worth visiting than what we’ve listed, this list can help give you an idea of places to visit and things to see.
New York City
Why You Should Visit: New York City, New York, is the most visited city in the United States. It’s most famous for its skyline, skyscrapers, and world-class museums and tours. If you’re looking for things to do or just want to see one of America’s most iconic cities, New York won’t disappoint. And, with 68 Michelin-stars, there’s always something good to eat.
Safety: New York City is the safest big city in the United States and is the 9th safest city in the world. There are areas you should still avoid (like Hunts Point and Mott Haven), but if you practice general precaution, you shouldn’t have any problems.
Yearly Visitors: 67 million (2019)
Top Attractions: What makes New York City so popular are its loads of attractions and historical/cultural icons. Some of the most popular things to do include checking out Central Park, snapping photos from the top of the Empire State Building, getting a tour of the Statue of Liberty, and walking the High Line.
Best Time to Visit: The best time to visit New York is in the fall or spring. Winters get cold in New York, and summers are incredibly busy. If you want to save money, January will be the cheapest time for flights and hotels. Also, with cold winters being the norm tourists can find a multitude of activities to do inside, away from the cold.
Average Trip Cost (7 days): $2,057 per individual, $3,694 per couple, and $6,926 per family of 4
Thinking about a trip or want to learn more about NYC? Check out other things to know about New York or our travel guide for solo female travelers.
Why You Should Visit: One of California’s top beach areas and Hollywood atmosphere, Los Angeles earns its spot as the city of entertainment. There is so much to do and so much to see (including A-list celebrities) that don’t disappoint. The Los Angeles area is also a great stop for those interested in Long Beach or Disneyland in Anaheim.
Safety: Los Angeles has a high risk of crime, even to travelers, and while visiting you should practice extra precaution and make sure to only visit tourist areas.
Yearly Visitors: 50 million (2018)
Top Attractions: Los Angeles’s most popular attractions include the Getty Center, Universal Studios, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and the Battleship USS Iowa Museum.
Best Time to Visit: September to November as well as March to May offer the best environment for visitors to tour the great city. The city’s air quality is higher during these off seasons and the number of visitors is much less than peak tourist seasons like summer.
Average Trip Cost (7 days): $1,984 per individual, $3,563 per couple, and $6,680 per family of 4
If you’re planning a trip to Disneyland, make sure to check out our Anaheim Travel Guide which gives you tips to make the most of your trip, save money, and find places to stay. If you want a bit more, you can also check out 5 Things to do in Venice Beach or our Los Angeles Travel Guide.
Why You Should Visit: San Francisco, California, is one of the more photogenic cities in the U.S. With tons of hills, mild weather, and eccentric holiday atmospheres as well as the Golden Gate Bridge and Lombard Street, San Francisco is perfect for travelers who want to experience diverse culture, friendly locals, great cuisine, and unique things to do and see.
Safety: While crime in San Francisco is higher than the national average, this crime rarely affects tourists. Still, be careful.
Yearly Visitors: 26 million (2019)
Top Attractions: Some of the best things to do and see in San Francisco are visiting Pier 39, Alcatraz Island, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Oracle Park, Chinatown, or the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Best Time to Visit: Like Los Angeles, September to November as well as March to May offer the most to visitors. Tourist numbers are down, and autumn usually carries cooler temperatures than summer. Spring can also be an enjoyable time to visit as there is less rain than other parts of California and milder temperatures.
Average Trip Cost (7 days): $2,348 per individual, $4,217 per couple, and $7,906 per family of 4
Make Sure to Check out our Top 10 Things To Do in San Francisco or our San Francisco Travel Guide for more travel inspiration and deals.
Why You Should Visit: Las Vegas, Nevada, and more particularly Paradise and the Strip, is one of the most vibrant cities in the world. With endless parties, nightlife, luxury hotels, shows and concerts, Las Vegas always has something to do. Paradise, unlike other cities, is built entirely around tourism which means a vacation here is one of the best vacations you can get.
Safety: Las Vegas has a high police presence and tourist-based main street, making it a safe city with overall minimal risk for tourists. Avoid poorly lit areas, deserted places, or unknown roads. Muggings, pickpockets, and transport/taxi risks do exist in Las Vegas.
Yearly Visitors: 42 million (2019)
Top Attractions: Las Vegas’s top attractions include the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, High Roller Observation Ferris Wheel, Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Garden, and Hoover Dam.
Top Casinos and Hotels in Las Vegas:
- The Venetian and The Palazzo
- Wynn Las Vegas
- Aria Resort and Casino
- The Mirage Casino
- Mandalay Bay
- The Bellagio
- Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa
- South Point Casino
- El Cortez Hotel and Casino
- The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
- Caesars Palace
- Circus Circus
- MGM Grand
Best Time to Visit: March to May and September to November are the best seasons to visit Sin City. While we can’t promise the tourist crowds will be few or that the prices will be that different–you can usually find year-round deals for travel to Vegas–we can assure you that the temperatures will be much cooler than the sweltering heat that comes with summer months.
Average Trip Cost (7 days): $1,504 per individual, $2,701 per couple, and $5,064 per family of 4
Check out our Las Vegas Travel Guide as well as the Top Things to do for Free in las Vegas
Why You Should Visit: A popular for family vacations, Boston offers attractions for all ages. It’s a fantastic place to learn about the history of the United States and it is ranked as one of the happiest places to live in the U.S.
Safety: Boston is moderately safe. There is gang presence which is why you should stay near tourist areas and attractions.
Yearly Visitors: 23 million (2019)
Top Attractions: Boston is loved by travelers and natives for its pedestrian friendly environment of sidewalk bookstores, cafes, and hobby shops that line the streets. Popular tourist attractions include Fenway Park, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston Commons, and the Freedom Trail.
Best Time to Visit: June to October–particularly early October–is the most recommended time of year to visit Boston, with temperatures dropping to cooler digits and summer tourist crowds shrinking (although June-August could result in summer swarms so take caution).
Average Trip Cost (7 days): $2,369 per individual, $4,255 per couple, and $7,976 per family of 4
For more travel tips, make sure to check out our Boston Travel Guide as well as our article about Things to Do in Boston.
Why You Should Visit: Orlando is the perfect location for solo travelers and families alike–activities range from touring museums, city tours, delicious seafood restaurants, and beach-going, and theme-parks.
Safety: Orlando is an extremely safe place to visit. Pickpocketing does occur, even in the Disney parks, so be aware of your belongings.
Yearly Visitors: 76 million (2019)
Top Attractions: While most Orlando’s visitors are visiting Disney World, Universal Parks like the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, or both, other top attractions for tourists include SeaWorld Orlando, Discovery Cove, Gatorland, Lake Eola Park, and ICON park.
Best Time to Visit: March to May tend to offer the mildest weather–with temperatures ranging from 50’s-80’s–and with the exception of school holidays and special weekend events, traveling is more affordable than in peak seasons.
Average Trip Cost (7 days): $2,273 per individual, $4,082 per couple, and $7,653 per family of 4
Why You Should Visit: The city of Chicago is almost two centuries old and boasts deep history and culture with astounding modernization. You can look forward to deep-dish pizza, Chicago-style hot dogs, jazz music, architecture, and the Chicago Cubs are some of the most well-known and well-loved aspects of the Windy City.
Safety: Despite the stigma, Chicago is quite safe. Yes, there are areas you’ll need to avoid, but those are distinct and with some planning, it won’t be an issue.
Yearly Visitors: 58 million (2019)
Top Attractions: Chicago is more than a business city with its beloved attractions like the Magnificent Mile, Navy Pier, Sears Tower, Millennium Park, The Art Institute of Chicago, and Cloud Gate (colloquially known as the Bean).
Best Time to Visit: April to May and September to October: the weather is still warm, the crowds are workable, and tourists who visit during this time can catch a variety of popular festivals and sports activities.
Average Trip Cost (7 days): $1,819 per individual, $3,267 per couple, and $6,125 per family of 4
For more information on safety and attractions, check out our Chicago Travel Guide.
Why You Should Visit: Honolulu, on Oahu Island in Hawaii is a favorite of all travelers. It’s not as remote as some of the other Hawaiian Islands which gives you better connections to other areas as well as better hotels and attractions.
Safety: When it comes to crime, risk is low, however, when it comes to nature-related injury, risk is high. Make sure to pack right and obey signs and laws.
Yearly Visitors: 10 million (2019)
Top Attractions: Known for its beautiful beaches and stunning views, Honolulu’s most popular tourist attractions include beaches and wildlife reserves: Diamond Head beach, Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, Pearl Harbor National Memorial, and Diamond Head State Monument.
Best Time to Visit: early April to June and September to mid-December; both month spans are considered the low season for travel which will ensure lower plane fare and higher hotel availability. While these “off-seasons” attract less tourists, these months offer plenty of festivals and warm weather. The weather during April to June averages in the low to mid 80’s and September through December stays in the higher 80’s.
Average Trip Cost: $2,306 per individual, $4,142 per couple, and $7,764 per family of 4
For more travel inspiration, you can check out our Honolulu Travel Guide here.
Why You Should Visit: If you want to see California’s best beaches, San Diego is it. The weather is perfect year-round. San Diego also has a perfect blend of nature and city that you won’t find anywhere else.
Safety: Risk in San Diego is medium. There are areas you’ll want to avoid, and the ocean can be dangerous, so make sure to plan properly.
Yearly Visitors: 35 million (2019)
Top Attractions: The best places to visit in San Diego are the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld San Diego, Balboa Park, Gaslamp Quarter, Seaport Village, and the San Diego Museum of Art.
Top Beaches: The most popular beaches in San Diego are Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, Coronado, and La Jolla.
Best Time to Visit: March to May and September to November; like Honolulu, these months are the low season for travel which will ensure lower plane fare and higher hotel availability. The weather during April to June averages in the high 60’s while September through November stay in the mid to low 70’s.
Average Trip Cost (7 days): $1,886 per individual, $3,387 per couple, and $6,350 per family of 4
Make sure to check out our San Diego Travel Guide for more parts to visit, where to stay, and things to do.
Why You Should Visit: One of the most LGBTQ friendly cities in the world, Seattle is big on giving visitors a great local experience. With amazing boutique stores and restaurants and lots of green, Seattle is truly the best place to go for a “chill” vacation.
Safety: Seattle is a moderately safe city to visit. Avoid sketchy areas and walking around at night, but otherwise you shouldn’t have any problems.
Yearly Visitors: 42 million (2019)
Top Attractions: While Seattle often has rain and cool weather, the city has many beloved tourist spots like Seattle Center and the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, Discovery Park, or hire a water taxi to bring you to Alki Beach Park.
Best Time to Visit: September to October. Like other big cities, Seattle’s peak season takes place during the summer months, meaning room availability is low and travel prices are high. The fall offers a nice break between winter and summer with small tourist amounts while avoiding the undesirable cold of winter.
Average Trip Cost: $1,858 per individual, $3,337 per couple, and $6,256 per family of 4
For about Seattle see our Seattle Travel Guide as well as Things To Do in Seattle.
Miami & Miami Beach
Why You Should Visit: Miami (and Miami Beach) most famous for its spring breaks, is the best place to visit for those who want nightlife, parties, music, and the ocean. There’s amazing food and 24/7 clubs and bars. There’s also amazing shopping and awesome zoos.
Safety: Miami and Miami Beach are safe to visit, though you should be careful about sun exposure where you swim.
Yearly Visitors: 24 million (2019)
Top Attractions: Having been around for over a century, the historic city of Miami has much to offer tourists and natives. The most popular places to visit include Wynwood Walls, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Zoo Miami, Dolphin Mall, and Hobie Island Beach Park.
Best Time to Visit: March to May: if you like weather in the 70-degree area with low tourist crowds, then the spring is the perfect time to visit Miami. Since most of the summer crowds have not arrived during this time of year, rates for travel are usually lower than peak season prices.
Average Trip Cost: $1,682 per individual, $3,021 per couple, and $5,663 per family of 4
For more info about things to do and places to stay, make sure to check out our Miami Travel Guide.
Why You Should Visit: Washington D.C., besides being the capital of the U.S., has awesome museums, zoos, monuments, and history sites. A trip to D.C. also offers you access to great theaters and restaurants.
Safety: Risk to travelers is low though you should still try to stick close to attractions and popular attractions.
Yearly Visitors: 25 million (2019)
Top Attractions: Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, National Museum of African American History and Culture, The U.S. Capitol, Lincoln Memorial, National Gallery of Art, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Library of Congress, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, National Mall
Best Time to Visit: March to May and September through November. Autumn is a popular time to visit Washington D.C. as the sweltering summer temperatures have cooled off and large crowds of tourists have dissipated. The leaves are also beginning to change, making a gorgeous backdrop for some of the nation’s best-known monuments.
Average Trip Cost: $1,716 per individual, $3,082 per couple, and $5,778 per family of 4
For more about getting the most of your trip, check out our Washington D.C. Travel Guide.