We’ve named the 12 best places to visit in the USA —one amazing destination for every month of the year.
Sometimes, deciding where and when you’d like to travel is as important as deciding what time. Sure, some places are gorgeous month after month (we’re looking at you, Hawaii) but getting the timing right can make a good vacation great. From personal experience, we know how disappointing it can be to arrive at the destination you have been dreaming about only to discover that you missed some of the best events in the year.
We’re here to help with our picks for the best places to visit in the USA according to each of the twelve months of the year. And since the COVID pandemic is still throwing wrenches into our travel plans, we’ve included plenty of places where you can feel safe in the great, wide open. Each place in our guide is perfect for enjoying a wonderful vacation.
RECOMMENDED: 13 awesome and new things to do in the USA in 2022
Want more suggestions for where you should go in America in 2022? Try out our picks for the best cities in America, gorgeous national parks from Minnesota to Texas, and even some awe-inspiring craters, crevices and other natural wonders. Just consider this your guide to the beautiful ol’ US of A—from sea to shining sea, January to December.
Top places to visit in America
1. January: Colorado
It’s no secret that Colorado ski resorts are among the country’s best, but that’s not all this state has to offer outdoor enthusiasts in the winter. Try your hand at heli-skiing (that’s dropping from a helicopter rather than a ski lift) in the backcountry at Telluride, bask in natural hot springs after your ride down the mountain in Steam
boat Springs, or embrace winter camping (and dog sledding) at the refurbished mine town of Dunton Hot Springs, where you’ll find an Old West saloon, the opportunity to ice climb and (of course) more hot springs.
2. February, Yellowstone National Park
This world-famous Wyoming national park is always spectacular, and while it’s understandably mainly visited in warmer months, if you can get there in February you’ll be in for a real treat, with the whole place transformed into an other-worldly wintery wilderness. It’s much easier to find animals in snow. The most prominent example is the bison. They are complete with shaggy winter coats and steam coming from the geysers.
3. March, Hawaii
Hawaii enjoys beautiful weather and comfortable temperatures year-round, with thermometers reliably staying above 79F and below 88F, but March and April are a particularly pleasant time to visit, slipping in between the spring and summer vacation seasons. From the massive volcanoes on the Big Island (Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa and Kilauea), and the Na Pali cliffs of Kauai, to the pristine beaches of Oahu—every part of the state is stunning. But if you have to pick just one spot to see while you’re there, we recommend heading to the very top of Maui, where the Haleakalā crater’s huge caldera’s landscape is otherworldly.
4. April, Washington DC
Despite being such a historic city, Washington DC keeps evolving—even now, new museums are breaking ground. The cherry blossom season offers another great reason to visit D.C. While Japan’s cherry blossom season seems to grab most of the world’s attention, Washington D.C. has a pretty good one too, which typically spans late March into early April. It’s best to visit the Tidal basin, which has over 3,000 blossom-covered trees. You can also take your mandatory selfie at the White House/Lincoln Memorial/National Mall when you’re there.
5. May: The Mighty Five
You don’t know what The Mighty Five are? We’re talking about Utah’s wild landscape, which is connected by a series of five national parks—Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, and Arches. There’s also the iconic Monument Valley, which is located in the nearby Navajo nation; you’ve seen it on the silver screen in almost every John Wayne western and it hasn’t changed an iota since. There are five main attractions: massive sandstone structures, slot canyons that twist and deep skies filled with stars.
6. June: The West Coast
Sound the road trip klaxon! California and the Pacific Northwest are calling. You can avoid the July 4th chaos by heading out in June. This is when the roads will be jammed full of long weekenders who are on their way home from family barbecues and ball games. Instead, take the entire month and discover the West Coast. Whether you want to catch some rays in San Diego, forest bathe in Oregon, tour Seattle’s street art or simply make the most of Vancouver’s least rainy month of the year, this slice of North America is as diverse as its days are long.
7. July: Alaska
July is a wonderful month to spot caribou, wolves and golden eagles in Denali National Park, as well as grizzly bears, who are busy hunting salmon in order to fatten up before hibernation. They also nibble on the season’s abundant berries—blueberries are particularly fat and juicy in Alaska—and you can taste them too on almost any hike and around the stunning Glacier Bay National Park.
8. August: Acadia National Park, Mount Desert Island
At the far reaches of the northeast coastline of America is Acadia National Park, which covers much of Mount Desert Island (beautiful Bar Harbor is here, too) and beyond. You will find quiet forests, lakes, and ponds here as the Atlantic Ocean’s waves crash onto rocky beaches. Once you’ve experienced this achingly lovely island sanctuary, there are plenty of Maine’s famed lobster roll stands waiting near town ready to feed you the state’s delicious crustacean.
9. September: Great Smoky Mountains National Par
America’s most visited national park, the Great Smoky Mountains are a place where the easygoing rhythm of the South combines with an outdoor lover’s heaven. You can hike in for beautiful waterfalls, expansive views of mountains and forests. Fishing for trout in quiet streams is possible (you will need a permit), and you’ll be able to enjoy the riotous autumn colors. There is a chance you might meet someone on the Appalachian Trail. More than 70 miles of that 2,190-mile path run through the national park.
10. New Mexico, October
There’s a lot more to New Mexico than desert and a certain Netflix show. Every October, Albuquerque hosts its eye-popping International Balloon Fiesta, where you can spot hundreds of technicolor hot air balloons as they make their spectacular ascent. With seemingly endless skies and epic sunrises, it’s become the world’s largest balloon festival and the most photographed event on Earth. Also make time to visit Santa Fe, in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains for a mix of Spanish colonial architecture and earth-colored historic adobe neighborhoods, plus a comprehensive Georgia O’Keefe Museum dedicated to her artistic legacy and American modernism.
11. November: Las Vegas
As the names of artists now getting residencies in Las Vegas get bigger and more relevant (like Lady Gaga and Bruno Mars), so does Sin City’s credibility as an entertainment destination. So do catch a show while you’re there but, since temperatures are pleasantly cool at this time of year, now is also the perfect time for exploring off-strip. You are looking for geological beauty. Head to rouge-tinted Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Are you interested in street art? Go downtown. Mafia stuff? Don’t miss the Mob Museum and its in-house distillery.
12. Miami December
In December the Swiss-born contemporary art fair Art Basel arrives in Miami to exhibit and sell the work of established international artists. But you don’t have to be in the industry or uber-rich to get in on the action: Plenty of fringe events happen outside of the main convention center at Miami Beach that same week. Check out the public sculpture, and the many pop-ups, gallery events and installations that have led this to be dubbed ‘Art Week’ by locals. In between, hit up South Beach for tanning and our very own Time Out Market Miami for grubbing. Miami, welcome!