Why go: With idyllic beaches and verdant mountains, Maui is escapism at its finest. Here, you can spend your days admiring the scenery as you cruise along the Road to Hana or lounge across the sands of Kaihalulu. Sampling the island’s seafood is also a must.
Why go: With steaming geysers, multicolored pools, bubbling hot springs and hiking trails that stretch for miles, there’s plenty to excite nature lovers in this national park. Plus, animal fans will appreciate a visit to the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center to learn about wildlife in the area.
Why go: San Francisco’s culture has been affected by diverse ethnic groups and many social movements. The best way to perceive the City by the Bay’s character is to explore each individual neighborhood. From the Mission to the Castro, visitors appreciate each enclave’s offerings.
Why go: In Yosemite, you can check out famous landmarks like Half Dome or get some exercise hiking the John Muir Trail. Come in spring, summer or fall to avoid winter’s wet weather conditions. And if you’re not one for camping, you can make this park a day trip from San Francisco, Sacramento or Lake Tahoe.
Why go: The nation’s capital has a lot going for it. Iconic landmarks like the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument allow you to sightsee for days. Just make sure to save some energy for an evening out — D.C. boasts a lively restaurant and bar scene.
Why go: Museum-strolling, theater-going, bar-hopping — the sheer number of things to do in the Big Apple puts most of its U.S. peers to shame. When you need a respite from the city’s busy street life and soaring skyscrapers, retreat to scenic Central Park.
Why go: Oahu features a nice balance of urban and beach environments. And with pleasant weather year-round, there really is no bad time to visit. Waikiki Beach promises to please, but be forewarned: There’s a good chance you will be greeted by a barrage of tourists.
Why go: San Diego appeals to many different kinds of vacationers. While the beach is the marquee attraction, the city also boasts a variety of outdoor activities and a vibrant downtown dining scene. Meanwhile, the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld offer good times for all ages.
Why go: A trip to Disney World is a rite of passage for little ones. And over the years, the “Imagineers” of Disney have gone to great lengths to enchant adults, too. More than ever before, Disney World offers a type of escapism you can’t find anywhere else.
Why go: Beautiful architecture, relaxing beaches and plenty of Southern charm are the defining elements of Charleston. Exploring historic sites and nearby museums is a great way to spend your afternoons. Plus, Charleston also offers mouthwatering Southern cuisine.
Why go: With its proximity to Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone, Jackson Hole appeals to outdoorsy types. Whether you’re skiing at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort or visiting the National Elk Refuge, you’ll be in awe of what this destination has to offer.
Why go: Chicago is known for its architecture — so much so that numerous companies offer tours devoted to the Windy City’s buildings. And at the foot of Chi-town’s iconic skyline lay a host of world-class museums, standout restaurants and eclectic neighborhoods.
Why go: While the Cape’s shoreline entices many visitors, the main draw here is the sense of tradition and laid-back atmosphere. Cape Cod hosts a loyal following of Northeasterners during the summer season; this can make house rentals and hotel rooms expensive, so book early.
Why go: Does any city in America have a culture more unique than the Big Easy? A melting pot of influences ranging from Caribbean to European, New Orleans has a distinct personality. This vibrant city welcomes visitors with all the gumbo, jazz and partying they can handle.
Why go: The Anchorage Museum and Alaska Native Heritage Center provide a perfect introduction to “The Last Frontier.” And you can break in your hiking boots along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail and in Kincaid Park. Just save some time for exploring the city’s shops and eateries.
Why Go: Majestic red landscapes, bizarre rock formations and stunning sunsets make Sedona unique. Outdoorsy types adore the rock climbing, off-roading and hiking opportunities while leisure-seekers love the boutique resorts, serene spas and tranquil ambiance.
Why go: Seattle may be known for its consistently soggy weather, but this Pacific Northwest city has plenty to offer. Seattle exudes a laid-back aura, where cafe and bar culture reign supreme. Spend your stay mingling with Seattleites at Pike Place Market or on the slopes of Mount Si.
Why Go: The City of Roses exudes a relaxed, down-to-earth style unlike any other American city. Some locals might say their mellow attitude derives from Portland’s delicious craft brews, but others credit the green spaces, like Washington Park.