After a year of being at home and not doing a whole lot of anything, 2021 is feeling much more optimistic. Since a lot of destinations overseas are still not open to the United States to travel to, many of us are exploring our very own backyards. From quick road trips to new cities nearby, to short flights to new destinations right in the US. While I’ve done my fair share of travel within the United States, a lot of it was just for work. Or visiting family or friends.
I suppose that’s one of the perks of the US being so big, is that you may have a friend in a city that you can make a trip out of. I’ve rarely really gone on a full on vacation within the US outside of a Miami beach trip or exploring more of the southeast. I really can’t even say I’ve created a true travel itinerary for somewhere within the 48 contiguous states.
United States Travel Bucket List
On my phone, I keep a travel bucket list. It’s my little reminder of places I want to visit. A way to put it out there into the universe I suppose. And a lot of those destinations are outside the US. From exploring the Amalfi Coast, a safari in South Africa, and drinking Irish whiskey in Ireland. All dream vacations. I’ve got a long list of dream destinations in Europe, Africa, Asia and beyond. But the US? I only have a handful. So it was time to start brainstorming.
My little list in my Notes app of the United States destinations I want to visit is kind of short. And one of them on this list I am finally checking off. And it’s up there. I’d say it was a top 3 contender of my ultimate US bucket list destination.
This state has been on my bucket list for a while. There’s so much to do and see from the red rocks in Sedona, to Scottsdale for a little relaxation. I went and visited with some friends and it was so much fun. It had me inspired to visit more of the United States instead of just always choosing Paris for a getaway. Guilty. I know. But it’s just amazing. There are so many great places to visit right here in North American in our own backyard. And it got me thinking, I should make a full list of everywhere I want to go in the US so I can start to check them off. So below is a full list of my own personal bucket list, plus the destinations I’ve visited that I think are worth the trip. They’re all perfect for a long weekend too.
My Personal United States Bucket List Travel Destinations
Pacific Coast Highway
One of my top choices for a United States destination is a drive down the PCH. Maybe start in San Francisco and end up in Huntington Beach. This just begs to be done in a convertible with lots of leisurely stops along the way. I’ve been dying to do this and it’s probably up in my top five.
A New England Adventure
One of my all time top ideal dream vacations is a drive along the New England coast. I want to eat all the lobster rolls I could find while taking in breathtaking coastal views. A visit to Nantucket, or Martha’s Vineyard, I’ve never been and have always wanted to go. It also seems like the type of place that requires a cute bike, which you know is my favorite!
Joshua Tree National Park
This coffee table book (and Instagram account) has me wanting to visit ASAP this national park. I’d love to rent a little Airbnb and just be out in the middle of nowhere for a couple of days. There are some great hiking trails to take too.
A Dude Ranch
Send me to Montana or Wyoming, I want to visit a Dude Ranch! Give me a cowboy hat, lots of outdoor exploring and good food. I feel like the views would be breathtaking and would be such a great escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
I think between Sex And The City and social media, I feel like I just have to go to the Hamptons. It looks like such a fun place to visit for the summer with celebrities and beautiful homes. And yes, seafood, give me all the things! I’d love to do a beach weekend here sooner than later!
Another dream summer getaway is Nantucket. I just want to ride a bike and take in all the beauty of the hydrangeas and the shingle style homes. I feel like this island is just picture perfect and oh so charming. It’s high on my list!
I’m thinking a trip to Carmel and Big Sur would be perfect for a long weekend. Enjoy the great outdoors and good local California food. This would be a great stop on the PCH trip!
I dream of a snowy cozy trip to Lake Tahoe. Or maybe one in the summer. Or just both. It seems like the ultimate destination for some adventures.
I can’t believe I’ve never been to Key West considering how easy it is to get to from Atlanta. But it’s on my list and I am destined to eat key lime pie in every form possible when I do.
I’ve visited LA for work before but never got to explore. So this is still on my bucket list. I think it would be so fun to visit Beverly Hills, hike Runyon Canyon and be my true basic self in lululemon, drinking smoothies and pretending to be healthy.
I’ve been to Seattle before when I lived in Portland as a kid. We would visit every so often but I was so young. I only remember Pikes Market and that’s it. I think I’d love to visit this city again as an adult and really explore all it has to offer. From Atlanta, it’s definitely a longer flight and probably the furthest on this entire list. But I think it might be worth it for an extra long weekend.
Santa Fe and Albuquerque
I’ve never been to New Mexico and think I’d absolutely love it. Santa Fe and Albuquerque are pretty close to one another, about an hour drive, so you can easily do both. These cities are packed with history and I love the desert so this is high up on the list for me.
US Travel Destinations I’ve Loved That Make For A Great Long Weekend
If you don’t have time for a full PCH drive, San Francisco is a favorite US destination to visit. It has it all. Great food, shopping, history, architecture and adventure. It’s nestled between the water and wine country. Not too far from the mountains. It’s just the best. And there’s nothing more beautiful than seeing the Golden Gate bridge or better, driving on it to head to Sausalito or Napa. Great for a long weekend. Check out my San Francisco guide here.
Palm Springs is one of my most favorite places I’ve visited in the US. I went for Coachella and didn’t really get to explore the area much. I’d love to go back and see more of Palm Springs and do a day or two in Joshua Tree. Which gets us to our next destination.
I’d like to retire here and live out my best life in the sunshine by the ocean. I think this is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve been to. It’s expensive, but gosh it’s stunning. I still dream about this trip I took a few years ago for the blog. A highlight for so many reasons. Read about it here.
I visited Austin for the City Limits festival. I really just wanted to see the city as it was on my bucket list at the time and it was a good way to go with friends. We ate tacos for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Which was heaven. This city has great music, food, culture and outdoor activities to do. We did a nice easy. hike alongside the Colorado River. It’s beautiful, sunny and wonderful. Would go back in a heartbeat.
Another great spot for all the things. So many wonderful museums to visit, the Holocaust museum is really well done and heavy. I’m also eager to visit the African American History museum that I heard is stunning and impressive. Be sure to stop by the White House and wave to the President. And stroll through Georgetown and pop into the cute shops and see the charming homes. View my Washington DC guide here.
Hands down my absolute favorite southern city to visit. The best food, period. The most charming homes and streets. I just love this city so much. It holds a lot of memories for me and it’s one city I visit often. It feels like home. I have an extensive Charleston guide you can check out here that I update after every visit.
I always say if Chicago winters were 10 degrees warmer and one month shorter, I’d move there in a heartbeat. It feels like a cleaner New York. Great food, lots of walking, take a river tour and enjoy a Cubs game. This city is one of my favorites to visit.
If you’re into bourbon, this is your city. You may be wondering what on earth is in Louisville. When I’ve visited, that is truly what people have asked me. It’s a charming adorable city and has an incredible food scene. The downtown Louisville scene is perfect for exploring, walkable and tons to do. Check out all the distilleries and enjoy all the great food.
This is one I just recently checked off my list. I can’t believe I’ve never been to NOLA considering how close it is. I was super excited to explore all the incredible creole food, beignets and culture of the city. While I’m sure Mardi Gras is a super fun time to visit, the party scene isn’t for me. So I stuck to eating a lot, doing a bike tour to learn about the city and do some shopping. And don’t forget a cemetery tour. Sounds weird, but trust me, it’s truly fascinating. So much history in this city.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
If you need a true Caribbean getaway, this is it. San Juan is the perfect spot. It’s an easy flight from the east coast and love that it’s still the US. It’s wild honestly. But so great at the same time. You can check out my travel guide here. The food was incredible, the locals are the kindest people and there’s plenty of adventure or relaxation to choose from.
I visited a friend who was living here many years ago and we had such a great time. I went in the fall and the weather was perfect. Great food, good beer, and the weed is great too. We went on some hiking trails, visited Red Rocks Park. Bonus points if you can find a great concert to attend. But we did a hike from here and it was beautiful and a great way to get in a little adventure between all the beer.
New York City
A no brainer. The perfect weekend to eat all the great food, see some cool sights and take in the hustle and bustle of NYC. See the Statue of Liberty (afar, I wouldn’t recommend spending your time visiting it) do lots of shopping and consume as many bagels as possible. Check out my full New York City guide here.
If this city was a bit cheaper, I’d also move here in a heartbeat. It’s charming, has a good mix of old and new, is on the water (a favorite) and the food is insane. So much good seafood. And it’s also home to my favorite bakery in America I think, Tatte Bakery. Read my guide here.
The ultimate hiking destination. I was blown away by Sedona. I didn’t know what to expect as it’s been on my bucket list, but I jumped on a group trip last minute that was already planned. It was perfect. So much fun hiking, incredible views and great food. Read my guide here.
I’m a little biased when it comes to Las Vegas. My sister went to college here and worked on the strip in food and beverage for many years. We visited often and it feels so familiar to me. I love all the great shows, grandiose hotels and more. It’s insane really. But such a fun weekend. And it needs to be JUST a weekend. 72 hours is pushing it, to be honest. It’s just one of those cities that is draining in both your physical ability to stay awake and your bank account. But worth it.
I took a very random trip to Philly and honestly, loved it. It was a cheap flight and a city I’d never been to so we booked it. The city is super walkable and felt like a miniature NYC. Ate incredible food, did some shopping and visited lots of incredible American history. From the room where the constitution was written, to the oldest alley in the country. I can’t recommend this city enough for a long weekend. Read my guide here.
If you’re into skiing or snowboarding, this is a must visit. Park City is beautiful and the mountains are amazing. I loved exploring the downtown area and had such great food here too. Read my guide here.