31 of the best things to do in the US


The United States’ sheer scale and variety is sufficient to awe any traveller, and the nation has a roster of big-ticket points of interest to match its titanic dimension. Here you may discover cities packed tight with world-famous landmarks — assume star-spangled Los Angeles or museum-packed DC — or strike right into a yard crammed with crimson rocks, rippling desert and ridges rising from the Great Plains.

Whether you’re most at house behind the wheel, getting misplaced in a concrete jungle or trekking the trails, these are the best things to do in the US.

Main photograph: New England in autumn (Getty Images)

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Cruising on a paddle steamer on the Mississippi, one of the best things to do in the US
A paddle steamer on the Mississippi (Alamy)

1. Drift down the Mississippi

Cruising down the Mississippi (ideally on a paddle wheel steamboat) is a quintessentially Southern expertise, however don’t be deceived by its languid look — you’ll pack a hell of so much into even a brief journey. Cruise itineraries have a tendency to be jam-packed, so that you’ll go to an enormous selection of sights: from historic landmarks to quaint and welcoming little cities. It additionally means there’s extra to see from the deck, as you drift previous ever-changing surroundings.

Vermont in the autumn - visiting New England in autumn is one of the best things to do in the US
Vermont (Getty Images)

2. Visit New England in the autumn

Whether it’s just a few bushes surrounding the white steeple of a clapboard church, or sweeping mountainsides ablaze with color, the autumn foliage of New England is all the time a showstopper. Join the leaf peepers on a pilgrimage to north-eastern US and also you’ll be dazzled by this fall firework show — and make certain to punctuate your highway journey with pit stops for maple creemees and apple cider donuts.

Cruising in Alaska, one of the best things to do in the US
Endicott, Alaska (Getty Images)

3. See the wildlife in Alaska

You merely can’t beat the wow issue of Alaska. From catching a glimpse of a brown bear to gliding previous intensely blue glaciers, the sights you’ll see crusing in Alaska will stick with you without end. For a extra various expertise, go for one of the smaller ships; they will entry the fjords and smaller ports that the bigger ones can’t.

If you’re in search of journey, e-book a cruise that provides excursions similar to kayaking or whale watching. But when you’d slightly watch the motion unfold from the ship, select an itinerary that features extra scenic crossings, for killer views from the consolation of your deck.

Cruising into New York at dawn is one of the best things to do in the US
Sunrise over the Empire State Building and the Hudson River (Getty Images)

4. Cruise into New York at daybreak

Sailing into New York on a transatlantic cruise is an impossibly romantic introduction to the metropolis. As you go beneath the Verrazzano Bridge at daybreak, the misty mild casts a rosy glow upon downtown Manhattan as the skyline stretches out earlier than you. Set your alarm and nab your house on the deck whereas it’s nonetheless darkish — the glimmering morning mild hitting the metropolis’s skyscrapers is a view you’ll always remember. And, when you disembark, points of interest similar to buzzing Times Square, the Statue of Liberty and Central Park await.

The Spotted Cat Music Club - visiting the jazz clubs of New Orleans is one of the best things to do in the US
The Spotted Cat Music Club in New Orleans (Getty Images)

5. Hit the jazz golf equipment in New Orleans

If there’s one factor that NOLA does nicely, it’s jazz. Skip the touristy bars of Bourbon Street and head to Frenchmen Street for a extra genuine flavour. There’s no cowl cost at the Spotted Cat Music Club, a teensy however vigorous joint, and also you’ll get style of all kinds at the Blue Nile. After an all-nighter, name into Café du Monde for a pile of heat, fluffy beignets — it’s open 24 hours a day.

Visiting the Walk of Fame in LA is one of the best things to do in the US
The Walk of Fame (Alamy)

6. Mingle with the stars on the Walk of Fame

Over 2,600 brass stars compete in your consideration alongside the Walk of Fame in Los Angeles. Some provides you with an perception into figures from American historical past — Stanley Kramer is the first star — whereas others similar to Dean Martin and Bing Crosby exhibit their reputation with three stars every.

Hiking in Yosemite Park, one of the best things to do in the US
Yosemite National Park (Alamy)

7. Go mountaineering in Yosemite

With towering sequoias, dramatic mountains and boulder-strewn lakes, Yosemite is a hiker’s dream. But you don’t want to trek for hours to get your cash’s price; some of the best trails are only a mile or two lengthy. Hike the brief loop at Mist Trail and also you’ll be met with beautiful waterfalls, or stroll to the attractive May Lake for a killer view of nonetheless blue waters, shrouded with mountains.

8. Drop into the honky tonks in Nashville

The neon strip of Nashville’s Lower Broadway comes to life at evening, with music spilling out of open doorways and locals capturing again cinnamon whiskey with vacationers. Nip between the completely different bars for a broad style of the nation music rainbow, whether or not you fancy stomping your boots or having fun with the tunes whereas sipping a beer. If you’re there throughout the day, don’t miss the Johnny Cash museum close by — it’s a ravishing tribute to the native legend.

Driving the Florida Keys is one of the best things to do in the US
Key West, Florida (Alamy)

9. Drive the Florida Keys

You can’t beat a basic American highway journey. And a drive down the size of the Florida Keys is a doozy — you’ll go over huge expanses of turquoise waters, previous mangroves and cute seafood shacks. Stopping off for a slice of key lime pie is all however necessary, as is a gaudy cocktail sipped at the water’s edge as the solar dips under the horizon (hold an eye fixed out for dolphins, too).

Visiting the Grand Canyon is one of the best things to do in the US
The Grand Canyon (Getty Images)

10. See the Grand Canyon

Whether you drive up to one of the lookouts, or land in its stomach through helicopter, the Grand Canyon won’t ever fail to cease you in your tracks. If the viewpoints are crowded, take a brief stroll on one of the trails for a singular (and quieter) perspective. Or, when you’ve got nerves of metal, stroll the Skywalk, a horseshoe-shaped glass walkway that juts 20m out over the edge of the canyon (with 1,200m between you and the backside).

Visiting Graceland is one of the best things to do in the US
The pool room in Elvis Presley’s Graceland Mansion (Alamy)

11. Go to Graceland

It’s the pilgrimage that each Elvis Presley fan was born to make. A stroll round the gaudy, deliciously bonkers house of the King is actually an expertise — you’ll see his kitchen, fabric-lined pool room and, of course, the Jungle Room. Don’t miss the exhibit of his customised personal planes, both — virtually each inch is bedecked with gold, from the seat belts to the sinks in the rest room.

Sculpture on the Enchanted Highway in North Dakota - seeing roadside attractions is one of the best things to do in the US
Sculpture on the Enchanted Highway in North Dakota (Alamy)

12. See strange roadside points of interest

There’s some gloriously kitsch Americana alongside the highways and byways of the US, and you would plan complete journeys round the nation’s roadside sights. Route 66 — the grand dame of American highway journeys — has her personal roster of points of interest. A spotlight is Cadillac Ranch, a sequence of basic vehicles brightly spray-painted and organized Stonehenge-style in the wilds of Amarillo, Texas. In North Dakota, you may drive the Enchanted Highway: steel sculptures, together with large pheasants and leaping deer, are lined up alongside 32 miles of highway.

13. See a comedy present in Chicago

It’s the birthplace of comedy, with stars similar to Robin Williams, Tina Fey and Bill Murray passing by Chicago — so sitting down to a comedy set is a should whenever you’re in the Windy City. There are a number of reveals each evening at the Second City, be it a headlining efficiency from the revue solid or a brief set of improv at midnight. Also price testing is the iO Theater, former house of Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers.

Hot air ballooning in Arizona is one of the best things to do in the US
Hot-air balloons in Monument Valley, Arizona (Alamy)

14. Fly in a hot-air balloon in Arizona

There’s a sure type of magic to the desert at daybreak and there’s no higher place to take all of it in than in a hot-air balloon, rising into the sky alongside the solar, as you drink in the glory of the Sonoran desert. As the sky brightens, swathes of land morph into vibrant shades of pink, orange and crimson in the sunshine (which is all however assured in this neck of the woods).

Priest Ranch wine-tasting room in Yountville - wine-tasting in Napa is one of the best things to do in the US
Priest Ranch wine-tasting room in Yountville (Alamy)

15. Go wine tasting in Napa

Somehow, a glass of wine all the time tastes higher whenever you’re on vacation. And it tastes higher once more whenever you drink it at the supply, amongst undulating vines and hills aglow with the California solar. Visit the vineyards of Napa and also you’re in for a deal with — each roadside is scattered with top-notch wineries, most of which fortunately present tastings.

16. Museum hop in Washington DC

The US capital has some of the best museums in the world. And the excellent news? Most of them are free to go to (which is one thing of a novelty in the States). The National Museum of African American History and Culture has secured its place as one of the most vital experiences in the nation. Other standouts are the National Air and Space Museum and the National Spy Museum. While you’re in Washington DC you can even peer at the Lincoln Memorial and take a free tour of the White House — however you’ll have to plan forward; requests want to be submitted at the least 21 days in advance.

17. Stargaze in Utah

Few sights are extra spectacular than the Milky Way on a transparent evening, and Utah’s jet-black skies are an ideal canvas. The stars placed on fairly a present right here; they swirl over the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park, and arch above the plains of Antelope Island, a stark peninsula jutting into the Great Salt Lake. In reality, from state parks to nationwide monuments, Utah has extra designated dark-sky spots than anyplace else in the world.

Join different budding astronomers on a “star social gathering” or images session: guides will level out constellations as you peer by your telescope, or provide help to snap that good night-time shot. And when the solar comes up, you may hit the mountaineering trails.

Las Vegas Strip - a visit to Las Vegas is one of the best things to do in the US
The lights of Las Vegas (Alamy)

18. Hit the Las Vegas Strip

Feeling fortunate? Make a beeline for the Strip, the most important artery of Las Vegas. It’s a neon-drenched drag of Las Vegas Boulevard, the place large motels, ritzy casinos, eating places and bars all jostle for house.

At the south finish, the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” signal marks the begin of the motion. Highlights embody Bellagio, a juggernaut of a resort with well-known dancing fountains and a conservatory crammed with floral shows. Farther north you’ll come to the Venetian, full with its personal bridge-studded Grand Canal and gondola rides. You’ll not go hungry, both — there’s all the things from steakhouses and swanky chef-led spots to buffets and fast-food joints.

Visiting Portland is one of the best things to do in the US
Food truck Portside Picnic in Portland’s Back Cove (Getty Images)

19. Get artful in Portland

Portland’s reputation is definitely defined: food-truck, doughnut, espresso and craft beer scenes thrive in America’s hippest (and maybe most laid-back) metropolis, accompanied by the longstanding Pine Street Market meals corridor. Epicureans can be part of themed excursions of the best spots. Elsewhere, the huge Japanese Gardens makes for a extra sedate outing, as does a day spent surmounting Mount Hood, the volcano that towers over the metropolis. Or you would simply go rummaging in artisan Pearl District boutiques.

A helicopter trip over San Francisco is one of the best things to do in the US
San Francisco at sundown, seen from a helicopter (Getty Images)

20. Soar over San Francisco

There’s lots to do on the floor in San Francisco, however rise up excessive and the metropolis actually shines. Various operators have helicopter excursions that sweep over the Golden Gate Bridge — its red-orange expanse is much more good-looking when part-swaddled by fog. Keep your eyes peeled for different huge hitters similar to Alcatraz Island and the putting Transamerica Pyramid.

Venice Beach boardwalk - visiting film locations is one of the best things to do in the US
Films together with Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet had been filmed at Venice Beach boardwalk (Getty Images)

21. Go set-jetting

Set-jetting — visiting memorable capturing places from beloved motion pictures or TV reveals — is all the rage proper now, and nowhere has extra choices than the US. In LA, Venice Beach’s brash boardwalk is a beacon for Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet and Barbie movie followers whereas New York’s streets have hosted all the things from Sex and the City to Netflix’s smash sequence The Watcher. Meanwhile, Louisiana’s swamps had been the scene of True Detective’s atmospheric first season and Breaking Bad was primarily filmed in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

22. Visit Yellowstone National Park in winter

America’s first nationwide park is stirring at any time of yr. But there’s an additional attraction about it in winter, when its wonders are certain up in an inevitable layer of snow. Even in the stomach of the chilly season, you may nonetheless drive proper down to Mammoth Hot Springs — its frost-bitten travertine terraces will look further particular. Other superstar sights, similar to Old Faithful geyser and the Grand Prismatic Spring, might be reached on guided excursions by snowmobile.

(*31*)National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel - following the Civil Rights Trail os one of the best things to do in the US

The National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel (Alamy)

23. Follow the US Civil Rights Trail

The US Civil Rights Trail wiggles by the American South, becoming a member of up websites linked to the struggle for social justice. Plan a highway journey that weaves between the museums, historic church buildings and monuments and study the pivotal moments that superior the civil rights motion.

The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee shouldn’t be to be missed. Its poignant reveals are situated at the Lorraine Motel, the place Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated. In Birmingham, Alabama you’ll discover the sixteenth Street Baptist Church: it was right here that 4 younger black women had been killed when the web site was bombed by white extremists.

Beyond that, Arkansas’ Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site remembers the Little Rock Nine: a gaggle of African-American college students whose enrolment right here turned a milestone in the motion.


24. Get your thrills at a theme park

When it comes to theme parks, the US doesn’t do things by halves. America’s Disney parks (in Anaheim, California and Orlando, Florida) are the titans, with larger-than-life firework shows, costumed characters and rides promising white knuckles. Also in California is Knott’s Berry Farm, a family-focused park that started life as a berry farm. It’s well-known for its home-style fried rooster and its mammoth wood rollercoaster. Then there’s Dollywood in East Tennessee’s Appalachian Mountains; count on music-filled reveals, head-spinning rides and a museum match to burst with Dolly Parton memorabilia.


Buffalo Bill's Irma Hotel & Restaurant in Cody, Wyoming - a trip to cowboy country is one of the best things to do in the US
Buffalo Bill’s Irma Hotel & Restaurant in Cody, Wyoming (Alamy)

25. Explore cowboy nation

The Wild West exists extra in spirit than as a pin on a map — however you’ll come as shut to it as doable on America’s Great Plains. You can think about gun-slinging cowboys in outdated gold-rush cities similar to South Dakota’s Deadwood, and peer at Nineteenth-century frontier buildings in Cody, Wyoming.

Then there are the landscapes: the rippling, colour-splashed Badlands, the wide-open plains, and the superior peaks and lakes of Montana’s Glacier National Park. Peering out from the Black Hills of South Dakota, close to Keystone, are the faces of 4 American presidents, too: the large profiles of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt are carved in rock in the Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

Tours led by native guides, from tribes together with the Blackfeet Nation, additionally present insights into indigenous cultures, as you discover mind-blowing slices of American wilderness.


26. Watch a sports activities sport

It doesn’t matter who’s competing, and even what sport they’re taking part in, an American sports activities sport is like no different, with T-shirt cannons, cheerleaders, mascots and a endless provide of sinfully gloopy meals. You’ll in all probability discover extra folks at the concession stands than in their seats, however that’s all half of the enjoyable. Grab a large foam finger, an ice-cold beer and cheer when everybody else does.


Exploring Boston's Freedom Trail is one of the best things to do in the US
Quincy Market on the Freedom Trail in Boston (Getty Images)

27. Discover a historical past path in Boston

Boston’s streets are ripe with historical past. It was right here that the Boston Tea Party protest befell, sowing the seed for the Revolutionary Wa; discover the Freedom Trail, which knits collectively websites relating to this portion of historical past. There’s additionally the Granary Burying Ground, the place Founding Fathers together with John Hancock are buried, and Faneuil Hall, which served as an vital assembly place for revolutionaries.

Boston’s Black Heritage Trail will get to the coronary heart of the metropolis’s Beacon Hill neighbourhood, whose North Slope was house to a free African-American group in the 18th and Nineteenth centuries. You’ll uncover sights together with the African Meeting House and the Lewis and Harriet Hayden House, as soon as house to distinguished African-American abolitionists.


White Sands National Park - touring New Mexico and its art scene is one of the best things to do in the US
White Sands National Park (Getty Images)

28. Tour New Mexico’s artwork scene

Whether it’s White Sands National Park’s haunting gypsum dunes or mud-brick Indian pueblos, there’s one thing undeniably picturesque about New Mexico. Perhaps that’s why the southern state has all the time had a prolific arts scene. Georgia O’Keeffe’s upbeat landscapes — lining a namesake Santa Fe museum — are the headline act, however there are additionally avant-garde collectives and 80 galleries in the inventive city of Taos. Other causes to head right here embody Billy the Kid’s grave, the Rio Grande gorge, Roswell’s UFO historical past and a meals scene fusing Native American, Mexican and Spanish concepts.


29. Cruise down Highway 1

America has no scarcity of unforgettable highway journeys, however this Golden State odyssey takes some beating. Skirting America’s west coast, between Los Angeles and San Francisco, the route serves up epic surroundings in spades: assume sheer cliffs, honey-coloured seashores and ridges lined in redwood forest.

Take your time, pulling up in little locations similar to Carmel-by-the-Sea — this small seashore metropolis is thought for its fairytale homes designed by Hugh Comstock. An 18th-century mission and a thriving meals scene are causes to cease by San Luis Obispo too.

Big Sur is the most talked-about stretch and, fortunately, this slice of the Central Coast lives up to the hype. Take benefit of the many viewpoints: most drivers cease for a photograph of Bixby Creek Bridge, a dizzying span hovering over a canyon.


The Aloha Tower in Honolulu, Hawaii - a visit to Hawaii is one of the best things to do in the US
The Aloha Tower in Honolulu, Hawaii (Getty Images)

30. Explore Hawaii

Want to see as a lot of Hawaii as doable, with out schlepping from one airplane to one other? A cruise is the good resolution. You’ll get to coast between the completely different islands, with out the problem of packing up each few days.

Depending on what you’re after, you can begin your cruise in Hawaii itself or set sail from California when you fancy just a few days at sea. Either manner, you’ll take in round 4 islands on the common itinerary, so you may get your fill of volcanoes, attractive seashores and surfers exhibiting off on the waves.


31. Watch the Masters golf

It’s the world’s most watched golf event. To be invited to play in the Masters, which takes place in the Georgia city of Augusta in April, is the excessive level of {many professional} golfers’ careers; to attend the occasion as a patron (for attendees are all the time patrons, by no means followers) is the spotlight of many a golf lover’s life.



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