25 of the Best Vacation Spots for a U.S. Vacation

After two years of living through the pandemic, Americans are feeling burned out. A majority of people say they desperately need a vacation. However, U.S. workers left an average of 29% of their paid time off on the table last year. A new study from Destination Analysts reveals that people who plan out their vacation days take more days to travel to some of the best vacation spots, but one-quarter of American households don’t take this simple step.

Enter me, National Plan for Vacation Day said in parenthesis.

January 25th is National Plan For Vacation Day

After nearly two years of pandemic stress and fatigue, this holiday is an opportunity for Americans to look ahead and make plans for getaways or vacations. Even if you’re planning trips for the back half of the year, published research shows you’ll still get some immediate benefits. So whether you end up taking that trip this year or file it away for when you feel comfortable traveling, you can scratch your travel itch by planning your next vacation now.

If you don’t have a vision board full of places you want to visit this year, take a vacation planning shortcut and consider one of these 25 U.S. Destinations.

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Best Vacation Spots: Iconic American Destinations

new york city

71 % of Americans are prioritizing a change of scenery in 2022. Luckily, America has a wide range of destinations. Have you been to all the iconic American spots? With fewer business travelers it is a great time to finally explore New York City. If you live in the Midwest perhaps you’d like a change of scenery with a beach vacation? If you live in the Northeast a vacation out West might do the trick. Or perhaps a family vacation filled with thrills and laughter would be a welcome change of pace.

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1. Alaska

If you’re one of the millions of Americans looking for a chance of scenery, it doesn’t get more dramatic of a change from your daily life than a trip to Alaska. Untouched nature, snowy mountains, the northern lights, and eight U.S. National Parks await you.

“I lived in Alaska for over ten years, and it’s a lovely, fun, exciting, and nature-filled place to visit. There are so many wonderful things to do, sites to see, hikes and mountains and water activities, and sporting opportunities,” says Katelynn from Cross Culture Love. “Alaska is my number one travel recommendation, especially for people who are passionate about the outdoors.”

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2. Miami, Florida

Miami is not just a nightlife hotspot. It’s a destination full of diverse cultures, food, art, music, and some of the most beautiful beaches and unique ecosystems found in the world.

“Miami is the perfect U.S. destination fun in the Sunshine State. You can easily arrive at the Miami International Airport or drive this east-coast city in Florida on I-95,” says Mikkel from Sometimes Sailing.

“It’s filled with cultural neighborhoods, like Little Havana, and is an inspiration for creatives from Miami’s Wynwood Neighborhood (famous for its street murals) to Miami’s Art District (which is a great place to shop). South Beach is famous for its Art Deco buildings and nighttime club scene. There is also plenty of outdoor dining and beaches to enjoy there, whether you’re doing a land vacation only or a land and sea vacation if you’re taking a cruise that leaves from the Port of Miami, a major United States cruise port.”

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3. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

With 60 miles of beautiful coastline and 14 different communities, it’s no wonder that Myrtle Beach has been a favorite vacation spot for generations. But, while it’s known for its stunning Atlantic ocean sunrises, beautiful beaches, and top-resorts, did you know that it’s also a golf mecca?

With a warm climate and over 80 award-winning golf courses in the area, Myrtle Beach is a must-visit for any golfer, both beginner and seasoned,” says Jeff from Financial Pupil.

“Among the courses are Dunes Golf and Beach Club (a famous course that has hosted multiple pro events), Caledonia Golf and Fish Club (consistently ranked top 100 layouts in America), Tidewater Golf Club (the most scenic golf course in the area) and World Tour Golf Links (offering some of the toughest golf holes you’ll ever play),” he added.

Image Credit Pixabay. 

4. Maui, Hawaii

North Kihei aerial shot

According to a survey of Americans, Hawaii is the top domestic destination on people’s bucket lists. For 20 years, people have voted Maui “The Best Island in the U.S.”

“The island of Maui is one of the most popular Hawaiian islands, and for a good reason. You will find fantastic resorts all over the island, there are endless outdoor adventures to be had, and of course, the tropical sunshine and sandy beaches are why most people go to visit,” says Casandra from Karpiak Caravan.

“The Fairmont Kea Lani in Wailea is a fabulous resort in Maui and one that has everything you need if you don’t want to leave the resort.” You will find an epic waterslide for the kids, an adults-only pool for couples, and a private beach to soak up the sun. However you wish to spend your time in Maui, your options are endless on this gorgeous Hawaiian island,” she continued.

Image Credit: Hawaii Tourism Agency. 

5. The Jersey Shore, New Jersey

New Jersey’s Beach towns, or The Shore, as residents call it, stretch across 90 miles of Atlantic Ocean coastline. Whether you’re looking for family-friendly towns, quiet communities, historic cities for a couples getaway, a vibrant boardwalk, casinos, or spots with bars and clubs, the New Jersey shore offers something for everyone.

“If you are looking for a fun place to vacation, the Jersey Shore’s beauty and diversity may surprise you.  There are tons of things to do besides sitting on the beach.   Each town has its vibe and different attractions,” says Lisa from Adapt Your Dollars.  “You can stay in one town to enjoy its beach and take a short drive to a different town for other entertainment or nightlife.  The Jersey Shore is the perfect place for a fun and memorable beach vacation!”

Image Credit: Monica Fish.

6. Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Located only 30 miles south of Cape May, New Jersey’s southernmost shore, Rehoboth Beach is another iconic American summer beach town.

“We plan to visit Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, in 2022. It’s a family-friendly beach with plenty of things to do. Rehoboth is popular, but it never feels too crowded,” says Prakash from Dividend Power. “Besides the beach and watersports, there is the boardwalk, miniature golf, a water park, an amusement park, and an arcade for everyone, as well as biking and hiking.

Image Credit: Wikimedia/Olivier-Aumage.

7. Las Vegas, Nevada

While everyone knows Las Vegas, they might not know all the things you could do outside of gambling in Las Vegas proper and the immediate surrounding areas.

“There are tons of amazing things to do in Las Vegas and a myriad of resort-style hotels where you can experience luxury for a fraction of the price of most destinations. In addition, there are hundreds of shows, concerts, and sporting events every month hosted in Vegas, as well as a few major annual events like the iHeart Radio Music Festival and the NBA Summer League,” says Tawnya from Money Saved is Money Earned. “Although you could spend (or lose) a small fortune on your Vegas trip with so many options, there are also many amazing free things to do in Las Vegas for those frugal travelers.”

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8. Disney World Florida

The most visited amusement park globally is having its moment in 2022. So feel like a kid again or make family memories by taking your family to celebrate Disney’s 50th anniversary this year.

“Orlando is always a great idea but 2022 is especially an exceptional time to visit with Disney’s 50th Anniversary celebration happening all year!” says Mia from Fidelity Real Estate.”There are special fireworks shows and attractions themed around the significant milestone, as well as exclusive 50th anniversary treats that are inspired by the original opening day offerings from 1971. One of the most notable and exciting features of the year-long event is the “EARidescent” makeover to Cinderella’s Castle at Magic Kingdom.”

Image Credit: Disney Parks. 

9. Legoland New York

Get a Sneak Peek of The World’s Largest Legoland Amusement Park

If you live in the northeast and don’t feel comfortable flying with your young kids yet, take a road trip to lower Hudson Valley to the largest and newest Legoland Amusement Park.

Everything IS Awesome at the newest Legoland Amusement Park”, says Monica from Planner at Heart and Legoland New York Season Pass Holder. My family went 7 times during the inaugural season and can’t wait to go back when the park opens again for the 2022 season in April. Whether you have a toddler, an older elementary-aged kid, or even a tween master builder, there is enough fun to go around for multiple visits. So if your summer plans are already full, consider visiting during the month of October to celebrate Halloween without scares at their Legoland Brick or Treat!”

Image Credit: Monica Fish.

10. South Padre Island, Texas

Off the southern tip of Texas, South Padre Island is a tropical paradise fishing, parasailing, hiking, and more!

“One of our favorite places to visit in the summer is South Padre Island in Texas. It’s one of the few islands in the U.S. that doesn’t require a flight to get to, and that’s a huge plus for larger families like ours,” says Karee from Our Woven Journey.

“It’s got beautiful, sandy beaches to play on, and while the temperature is plenty warm for swimming in the ocean, it isn’t as hot as the rest of the south gets in the summer. In addition, there’s so much to do on the island that we can easily fill our schedule with something for everyone. That makes it the perfect vacation spot for us,” she added.

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11. San Francisco, California

“San Francisco is a great place to vacation because you get a little bit of everything. First, head to Baker Beach for beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean and Golden Gate Bridge. Then, spend the day exploring Golden Gate Park,” says Annie from Savvy Honey.

“The Japanese Tea Garden is a must-see when you visit the park and is the oldest public Japanese garden in the USA. Next, check out and District for the best Mexican food in the city as well as unique shops. Finally, enjoy some chowder at Fisherman’s Wharf, and don’t forget about the sea lions!”

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12. Plan a Road Trip Out West

zion national park

Last year 72 percent of Americans planned to take a road trip, double the amount from 2020. So if you caught the road trip bug, consider a road trip out West for 2022.

“If you are looking for an iconic adventure for your family, consider a road trip to the various National Parks out west,” says A Day In Our Shoes.  “We loved this trip so much. We’ve done it twice! Sure, everyone talks about going to the Grand Canyon. But, within a few hours’ drive, you can also visit Bryce Canyon, Zion, and Best Friends Animal Society which is a huge hit with kids.”

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13. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Grand Teton national park has over 310,000 acres of natural land and striking mountain scenery. So why not plan a trip to this stunning National Park for 2022.

“Your days will be spent enjoying one of its many lakes, hiking amongst its many trails, or biking its amazing bike path.  The adventurous might enjoy whitewater rafting down the Snake River,” says Kim from Traveling Swansons.

“Looking to escape the park for a little bit?  Neighboring city Jackson Hole offers many dining, shopping, and entertainment options. Grand Teton National Park is often overlooked by its bigger, more popular neighbor Yellowstone. It has so much to offer for a fun, adventurous, and relaxing vacation, not to mention fewer crowds.”

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14. Tulsa, Oklahoma

It doesn’t get more American than Baseball. So this year, why not plan a vacation to Tulsa, whose professional baseball history dates back to 1905, even before Oklahoma was a state. The Tulsa Drillers, the Minor League Baseball affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, were established in 1977. The Drillers play at ONEOK Field, which opened in 2010 at the heart of Tulsa’s historic downtown Greenwood District, which is also home to FC Tulsa, the city’s professional soccer team.

ONEOK Field’s central location is just a 5-minute walk from nearby restaurants, bars, coffee houses, and the new Greenwood Rising Black Wall Street History Center. After a downtown walk, you can score $2 Tuesday Deals ($2 tickets and concession items) and post-game fireworks nights. Sit behind home plate for front-row seats to Tulsa’s beautiful skyline, or choose a seat in the outfield to take in the rays of Tulsa sunsets.

Image Credit: Allasyn-Lieneck.

Best Vacations Spots: Small Towns

catskills

Did you know that there are over 19,000 in America? So while we all know the iconic American destinations, here are some ideas for a vacation off the beaten path.

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15. High Point, North Carolina

Known in the industry as “Home Furnishings Capital of the World,” High Point is one of the nation’s best-kept secrets for those looking to redo their home decor.

2022 is the perfect time to visit High Point as the city’s downtown is undergoing a $232M transformation, including Congdon Yards & High Point X Design. Shop til you drop at over 50 retail stores in High Point. For some family fun, don’t forget to visit Nido & Mariana Qubein Children’s Museum, one of the largest children museums in the nation with 75,000 square feet of exhibits to explore.

Image Credit: Visit High Point. 

16. Hope Mills, North Carolina

Outside of Fayetville, in between Charlotte and Wilmington, is the friendliest place in the state of North Carolina. Dirtbag Ales, a brewery with 20 brews on tap, live music, food trucks, and Stop Button Bar, which provides classic arcade games, themed cocktails, and craft beer, won this distinction in 2020.

Hope Mills also includes the Cypress Lakes Golf Course, a championship-style course that uniquely tests every caliber player at their own level. In addition, hope Mills Lake, which is open for swimming, fishing, and kayaking, allows visitors to enjoy the scenic views and seasonally warm weather.

Image Credit: Visit Hope Mills.

17. Topeka, Kansas

topeka kansas

Dinosaur fans of all ages will want to plan a spring trip to Topeka, Kansas. From February through May 2022, ‘Topeka Dino Days’ will include the largest Tyrannosaurus Rex specimen ever discovered, full-size robotic dinosaurs, a global collection of dinosaur eggs, and an Allosaurus skeleton downtown.

The Kansas Children’s Discovery Center will provide colorful hands-on, interactive exhibits that will include a collection of real preserved herbivorous and carnivorous dinosaur eggs from all over the globe. The display will feature touchable fossil replicas, scent stations, and a naturalistic soundscape, creating an immersive, multisensory experience.

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18. Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

If you’re looking to plan a luxury couple’s getaway where you can dine out, stroll the beautiful beach, shop, and more, look no further than Carmel-by-the-Sea.

“Carmel-by-the-Sea on the Monterey Peninsula in California is well known as a top luxury destination in the U.S. It is one of the most beautiful beach towns in California and one of the most romantic places in the country. Nature lovers, artistic souls, and couples who seek romance especially love Carmel,” says Milijana from World Travel Connector.

“Some of the top luxury boutique hotels, the coziest inns, the most romantic fine-dining restaurants, the funkiest shops, and the best wine-tasting rooms in the country are in Carmel. Beautiful Carmel is also a popular stop along the iconic road trip route from San Francisco to Los Angeles.”

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Best Vacation Spots: Small City Swaps

Whether you’re looking to avoid big-city hotel prices, crowds or prefer to vacation to lesser-known destinations, here are some sister city swaps to consider for your 2022 vacations.

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19. Carolina Core Instead of Charlotte & Raleigh

The Carolina Core is a 120+ mile stretch of central North Carolina from west of Winston-Salem to Fayetteville that may not be on your vacation planning radar.

Foodies can indulge in the city’s diversity by enjoying a culinary journey with more than 500 restaurants.  Or immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant arts and cultural experiences with stops at the historic Old Salem, Arts District, Innovation Quarter, and Industry Hill. For family fun, stop by the Nido & Mariana Qubein Children’s Museum opening in March 2022, one of the largest children’s museums in the nation with 75,000 square feet of pure fun.

Image Credit: Carolina Core.

20. Cincinnati Ohio Instead of Chicago Illinois

courtesy visit cincinnati

One of the nation’s most robust art scenes has flown under the radar. Yet, Cincinnati, Ohio, has some of the oldest, wealthiest, and most noteworthy cultural institutions in the entire country. For a family vacation, check out the new Art Climb at one of the nation’s oldest art institutions. Stop by the Cincinnati Zoo, a top zoo, and also The Greenest Zoo in America. This first-ever kangaroo walkabout features the Kanga Klimb, an ADA-accessible ropes course, and the largest outdoor little blue penguin habitat.

Image Credit: Visit Cincinnati. 

21. Colorado Springs Instead of Denver

Every year people discover the beauty and allure of Colorado Springs and decide to make the town its new home. Colorado Springs is truly a nature lover’s city with the ability to get from the office door to the mountain trails in less than 20 minutes.

So if you’re thinking of a move in 2022, plan a vacation to Colorado Springs to check it out. From the stunning Pikes Peak Highway, COATI food hall, the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum, The Air Force Academy, and a place so beautiful it’s called The Garden of Gods, see for yourself all the town has to offer.

Image Credit: Visit Colorado Springs. 

22. Sugar Land Instead of Houston Texas

sugar land texas

Country music fans know Sugarland but may not know that this ‘Sweetest City in Texas’ of the same name serves up big-city amenities with small-town hospitality.

Sugar Land was voted the Best Suburb by readers of Best of Houston in 2021. Sugar Land is Houston’s beautifully landscaped and easily accessible sister city, just 20 miles southwest of downtown. Avoid wait times without compromising your dining options when it comes to food. There’s a food scene for every visitor in Sugar Land, from new fusion concepts to authentic international options. With 27 different parks, the city has miles of recreation and offers world-class entertainment like the Smart Financial Centre.

Image Credit: Visit Sugar Land. 

23. Fargo North Dakota Instead of Twin Cities Minnesota

fargo best vacation spots

Located just beyond the Minnesota border, Fargo, North Dakota, is brimming with nightlife and culture like what you’ll find in the Twin Cities but available at a fraction of the cost and commotion.

In addition, Fargo is known for being extremely dog-friendly. You can even bring your furry friend to the brand new Jasper Hotel. The modern design and architecture of Jasper Hotel complement its historic mission to celebrate the heritage and spirit of Fargo as a pioneer town. The Hotel Donaldson’s 17 unique artist-inspired rooms with luxurious furnishings offer complimentary wine and cheese tastings and a complimentary turndown truffle service daily.

Image Credit: Visit Fargo. 

24. St. Augustine Instead of Jacksonville Florida

best vacation spots

Founded in 1565 and known as The Ancient City, this picturesque destination straddles the Matanzas River and the Atlantic Ocean, offering scenic waterfront views and more than 40 miles of well-preserved coastline. Escape the city jungle and get a taste of The Ancient City’s old-world charm in the Historic Downtown, where you can shop, dine, and stroll along cobblestone streets where Spanish explorers first set foot hundreds of years ago.

Families will love visiting the local aquarium and zoological parks. If you’re looking for a different type of Florida vacation, take a closer look at St. Augustine.

Image Credit: Florida’s Historic Coast.

25. Wedge Overlook Utah Instead of The Grand Canyon

wedge overlook little grand canyon utah best vacation spots

“The Grand Canyon has long been a top tourist destination in America, but amidst the pandemic, you may be looking to avoid large crowds and sold-out accommodations. Fortunately, there’s a better option. The “Little Grand Canyon” (also called Wedge Overlook) in Utah gives similarly majestic canyon views, but without the hoards of tourists,” says Mitch from Project Untethered.

“If you’re brave enough, you can even camp right on the edge of the canyon ledge for free. We camped there in 2021, and we were the only souls for miles. There are some fun canyon hikes in the area, and you can even see a fossilized dinosaur footprint,” he added.

Image Credit: Bob Wick / Bureau of Land Management.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.