Planning to visit the US, but you don’t know exactly where to go? This USA travel guide will help you out! This is such a large country, and there are numerous top places to visit the US. It’s more like a continent than a country! What to do in the US? I listed in this post the best places to visit in the USA. Then I’ll share USA travel tips to visit the country!
Best places to visit in USA
Chicago, also called the windy city, is one of the most beautiful cities in the US. Marvel in front of the Michigan Lake while having a walk on Navy Pier. Relax at Millenial Park and take photos of the bean. Visit the famous museums of the city and admire the skyscrapers. You can get on top of two of them, the Willis Tower and 360 Chicago to admire the view. I wrote a detailed article of my visit to Chicago. Here’s where to stay in Chicago. Click here to find the best activities.
San Francisco is one of the best places to visit in the USA. Why? The architecture is different than anywhere else in the country, having a walk along the sea is enjoyable and there are cool festivals. You have to see the famous Golden Gate bridge and also Alcatraz! Take one of the cable cars of the city, have a walk at Fisherman’s Wharf and visit one of the numerous museums of San Francisco. I wrote a detailed article about my visit to San Francisco. Here’s where to stay in San Francisco. Click here to find the best activities.
New York City
There’s no need to introduce New York City, the city that never sleeps! It’s one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. Even spending a whole month there, you won’t see everything! Of course you’ll have to see the statue of Liberty! But there’s also Central Park, Times Square, the 9/11 memorial, Ellis Island, the 5th avenue… Let’s not forget all the districts to explore and the food to try! I wrote a detailed article about my visit to New York City. Here’s where to stay in New York. Click here to find the best activities.
We tend to forget it, but Washington DC is also one if the cities to visit in the US. Those who like museums won’t be disappointed. You have to see the Capitol, Lincoln Memorial and the Smithsonian museums. In Washington DC, there are historic buildings, malls and beautiful parks. In spring, the city is wonderful with the cherry blossom trees in full bloom. Click here to find your accommodation. Click here to find the best activities.
Few people think about Charleston in South Carolina. However it’s one of the best vacation spots in the US. Charleston is a compact city you can explore by foot. Have a walk at Waterfront Park along the sea. You can see Fort Sumter from there. This is where the Civil War started. There are many war cannons and memorials in the city’s parks. Take some time to admire the architecture and the pastel antebellum houses.
Charleston is also known for its delicious restaurants, the seafood, its bars and rooftops. But also for the local art and culture. You can feel a Southern charm with the cobblestone streets, oak trees, and horse-drawn carriages. Don’t miss the Farmer’s Market on Saturday from April to December at Marion Square. Here are the best things to do in Charleston. Click here to find your accommodation. Click here to find the best activities.
Savannah is in Georgia and is not far from Charleston. There’s also a relaxed Southern vibe. You have to see the Historic District and its 22 squares, Forsyth Park and its wildlife and the famous fountain, and admire the Savannah River while walking on River Street. Like in Charleston, you’ll find horse-drawn carriages, cobblestone streets, and antebellum architecture. Go to Tybee Island to enjoy the beach! Click here to find your accommodation. Click here to find the best activities.
Many people don’t like Los Angeles because it’s a megalopolis with nothing to do. However Los Angeles is a nice city. Go to Santa Monica and Venice Beach to relax along the beach, or go surfing at Malibu. Head to Hollywood Boulevard and the TCL Chinese Theatre to see the handprints of celebrities.
Are you into arts? Visit the Getty Museum. Wanna go shopping? Head to Rodeo Drive in the Beverly Hills area. And go to El Pueblo to eat in excellent Mexican restaurants. Click here to find your accommodation. Click here to find the best activities.
Seattle is known for its coffee culture and surrounding nature with Mount Rainier, Olympic National Park and the Cascade Mountains not far. Head to one of the 500 parks of the city especially Discovery Park, the largest park in Seattle. The park offers beautiful views of Puget Sound. There’s also the Museum of Pop Culture, the Space Needle, the world’s first Starbucks and Pioneer Square, an area you have to see! Click here to find your accommodation. Click here to find the best activities.
Honolulu is in Hawaii, on the tropical island of Oahu. If you’re looking for palm trees and white-sand beaches, head to Honolulu! Don’t miss Waikiki Beach! You can enjoy water activities: surfing, snorkeling, diving, kayaking, paddle-boarding, parasailing… Here’s the best snorkeling in Oahu. Visitors love climbing Diamond Head crater, and admire the 360-degree view. Visit the Honolulu Museum of Art and the Bishop Museum exhibiting a collection of Polynesian artifacts. Click here to find your accommodation. Click here to find the best activities.
Las Vegas is the place to be if you want to party! On weekdays, spending time there is not that expensive! You’ll inevitably see the Strip, the avenue with around 30 magnificent hotels line up on both sides. Speaking about hotels, some of them are iconic: I’m thinking about the Bellagio or the Venetian, which are attractions on their own. You already there are many casinos but also a replica of the Eiffel Tower and numerous shows year-round. You have to see Vegas! Click here to find your accommodation. Click here to find the best activities.
Located in New England, Boston is one of the first cities in the USA. It’s a charming city full of history. Walk the Freedom Trail, it takes you through the historical landmarks of the city. Don’t miss Boston Common, the oldest public park in the USA. And you have to see Boston Public Square in Copley Square. It’s one of the most beautiful libraries of the country. Boston is also known for its excellent seafood restaurants. Click here to find your accommodation. Click here to find the best activities.
New Orleans is a unique city you have to visit. Of course you’ll feel the French influence, but there’s also Italian, Spanish, Irish and West African influences. New Orleans is charming: jazz, parties, beautiful houses, Creole… You can’t miss the French Quarter and the legendary Café du Monde to sample good beignets.
In the same area, there’s the famous Bourbon Street but also Royal Street, Frenchmen Street to listen to jazz and the impressive St Louis Cathedral. Have a walk in Garden District and admire the wonderful mansions there. Click here to find your accommodation. Click here to find the best activities.
Anchorage is in Alaska. A city you have to go to in the summer if you’re into outdoor activities. The Chugach mountains are not far bu above all Chugach State Park in the city. Over there, you can go hiking, skiing, camping, fishing, biking and see the wildlife. Spend some time at the Alaska Native Heritage Center to learn about Alaska’s Indigenous cultures. Click here to find your accommodation. Click here to find the best activities.
Portland (Oregon) is a charming city on the west coast. Nature lovers are going to enjoy Portland thanks to the numerous parks, gardens, waterfalls and hiking trails in the area. In Portland, you have to see Powell’s City of Books (the largest bookstore in the world), the international rose test garden, the Japanese garden and Pittock Mansion. Portland is also known for its donuts, its food trucks and the local beer. I wrote a detailed article about my visit to Portland. Click here to find your accommodation. Click here to find the best activities.
Austin is the only democrat city in Texas, and it’s very different from the rest of the state. Numerous startups are based there, and it’s the world capital of live music! Take a dip at Barton Springs, have a look at Graffiti Park, visit the Texas State Capitol and admire a wonderful sunset at Congress Avenue Bridge. I wrote a detailed article about my visit to Austin. Here’s where to stay in Austin. Click here to find the best activities.
These were the best places to visit in the USA! Now here are a few USA travel tips!
USA travel budget
- Accommodation in the US is as expensive as our Western standards. One night in a hostel dorm costs around $30-50. One night in a motel along the highway costs around $60. One night in a mid-range hotel costs about $100. Prices start at $200 per night to stay in a luxury hotel. Actually the prices vary a lot depending on where you are, it’s a huge country. Click here to book your accommodation.
- Food is also as expensive as our Western standards. A snack costs around $5, a fast food about $8-9. Eating Asian food (Thai, Chinese, Japanese) costs about $10. A pizza is about $12. A meal in a mid-range hotel costs around $20. Prices start at $50 for a meal in a high-end restaurant. A beer costs around $7.
- Regarding transportation, in most places you’ll need a car. In big cities there’s public transportation. Prices fluctuate a lot depending on where you are. A one-way ticket costs $2.75 in NYC, $1.25 in Austin, $2.50 in Portland and Chicago, etc.
- Regarding activities, once again the prices change depending on where you are and what you want to do.
Basically, if you’re traveling on a budget, you can get by with $75 per day. Otherwise you’ll spend about $150+ per day.
How to get around in the US
In big cities there’s public transportation (subway and bus), but also taxis and rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft. To get around in the country, you can take the bus with Megabus, Flixbus, Boltbus and Greyhound. Or the train with Amtrak. Since it’s a huge country, there are also domestic flights.
Best time to visit the US
Since it’s a vast country, there’s no best time to visit the US. In the south (from the east to the west), the weather is nice more or less year-round. On the east coast and the Midwest, winters are cold but summers are nice. Temperatures are more moderate on the west coast.
Visa policy of the US
If you’re not a US citizen, and if you’re not from Canada, you need to apply for the ESTA beforehand here. It’s $14. You can stay up to 90 days in the country. Otherwise you have all the details here.
Safety in the US
The US is not as dangerous as it seems. It’s actually a safe country for solo travelers, even solo female travelers. Actually it’s one of the best places to solo travel. Problems arise in areas with gangs and drug traffic. Otherwise there are little scams, like pickpockets in touristy areas, but it’s like in other countries. Mass shootings usually hit the headlines but the chances of it happening to you are very slim. Before traveling, don’t forget to get travel insurance. It will protect you against illness, injury, theft and cancellations. Click here to get one.
Packing list for the US
I’m not gonna list all the things to pack for the US. I don’t know how long you’re gonna stay there, where you’re going in the US, what you’re going to do and when you’ll visit. Take all the necessary clothes, toiletries, and also:
- hand sanitizer
- combination locks
- a money belt
- a security cable lock
- a travel plug adapter
- a stainless steel water bottle
- a lifestraw (a water bottle with a purifier)
- a menstrual cup (for the ladies)
Here’s a full list of travel accessories, which can be useful!
What to eat in the US
The US isn’t really known for its gastronomy… You’ll find steaks and other cuts of beef in the Midwest, the South and in Texas. Seafood is popular in Florida, Louisiana, the Carolinas and in Georgia. But also in New England. You have to try the dishes in Louisiana, the Cajun and Creole food. BBQ is very present in the south, especially in Tennessee. The food is the most healthy in California.
That’s it! You know everything to visit the United States now!
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