16 Places that should be on your USA Bucket List (and aren’t LA or New York)

New York and Los Angeles: these are the big cities that people from all over the world consider when planning a trip to the United States.

While they are a lot of fun and have a lot to offer, our beautiful country has so many more unique places to visit.

Do you like big cities, but not the fast pace of NYC? Visit Chicago!

Want to see the West Coast but have to spend less time in traffic? San Diego is for you!

Need some more guidance? Keep reading below for my suggestions of places to visit, sorted for you by region:

West Coast:

San Diego – Just a two-hour car ride from Los Angeles, San Diego is one of the country’s happiest cities. With a zoo known for its pandas and the beautiful beach town of La Jolla, San Diego should be on every tourists list of things to see in the USA.

California Wine Country – Home to some of the best wine, the Sonoma and Napa Valley regions are a must see. A short drive from San Francisco, visitors can relax and marvel in the fine dining and great wine all at once!

Pacific Coastal Drive – I did this drive from Los Angeles to San Fransisco. Let me tell you, it is a long drive, but it is 100% worth it. The scenery is breathtaking. Stopping several times along the way to marvel in the beaches and forests, and observe the Elephant Seals, is a must!

Portland – Portland is definitely a foodie city, known for its food trucks, bars, and craft beers. It also houses Powell’s book stores, the world’s largest!  This book nerd has Portland on her USA travel bucket list just for its outdoor experiences; the Japanese garden is a must see, I hear.

Midwest:

Chicago– Well, obviously this is on my list. love Chicago. The city is a smaller, cleaner version of New York. Not only is Chicago home to so much history (The Great Chicago Fire, Al Capone), but it is also the location for many TV shows and movie sets (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Chicago Fire/PD/Med, Home Alone) and houses some of the USA’s most beautiful architecture. Not to mention, the tastiest food in the world. And it is absolutely beautiful during Christmas time.

Door County, WI –  Door County is a perfect getaway destination, four hours North of Chicago. This peninsula in Wisconsin is home to many beach times that remind me of the setting of a Nicholas Sparks novel. Activities in Door County include numerous water sports, boating, hiking, and cherry picking.

Nashville – Known as the Music City, there’s clearly a lot to experience in Nashville. Visiting a country bar is a must. Eating some southern comfort food and drinking Tennessee whiskey is also on my to-do list. One of Nashville’s biggest landmarks? The Country Music Hall of Fame.

Memphis – A bit run down and industrial, Memphis is home to a very vibrant blues scene. Not only is Elvis’s home, Graceland located here, but Memphis is also a city with great food! And not to mention, a big waterfront for walking!

East Coast:

Boston – This low-rise, big city feels like a large neighborhood with its brick buildings and cobblestone streets. What was once the nation’s biggest city, is now one of its most historic; it was where the American Revolution began! Quincy Market, clam chowder soup, and the Freedom Trails should all be included in your trip to Boston.

Charleston – Charleston has, what natives would describe as ‘happy’ weather. The city is alluringly historic, with its cobblestone streets and pre-civil war era houses. The city is quaint, giving you a feeling of a small town that has all of the possibilities of a large city!

Washington DC – The nation’s capitol had to have a place on this list. The National Mall, The White House, The Smithsonian, and Lincoln Memorial are just a few landmarks that have to be visited in DC. My favorite museum? The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

South:

New Orleans – A combination of French and Spanish influence makes New Orleans unlike any other US city. The Cajun and Creole cuisine is to die for; the beignets are out of this world. And if food isn’t enough to draw you in, this place has so much history!

Disney World – The one in Orlando, not California… (even though that one was the original) The numerous parks are unlike anything else in this world. And even though it is designed for children, there is something at Disney that is sure to make every single family member want to come back for more.

Arizona– A must see on my bucket list. Arizona is home, not only, to the Grand Canyon, but to Havasu Falls, which may be the most unusual waterfall I have ever seen images of.

The Other Two States (not the connected 48):

Hawaii –  This collection of islands is unlike any other state! The marvelous flora and fauna, volcanos, and beaches are all reasons to visit the islands. If that wasn’t enough, luxurious resorts and water sports are spread out through the islands. And for the history fanatics? Pearl Harbor is located here.

Alaska – Many will choose to visit this state during the summer months, particularly on a cruise. But the mountains of the region and possibility of seeing the Northern Lights make late winter (meaning March and April) a great time to visit Alaska! The many mountainous state and national parks are great for hiking and skiing; fishing is also a sport of choice in this region!


Let me know what you are thinking! Have you visited any of these places? Which is your favorite?

Did I miss a place that you think should be on this list? Let me know in the comments below!