The 20 best summer travel destinations in the US revealed from white sand beaches to rugged desert hikes – see if yours made the list

The 20 best summer travel destinations in the US revealed from white sand beaches to rugged desert hikes – see if yours made the list

As the summer travel season fast approaches, takes you through the shortlist for this year’s best summer escapes. 

Whether you’re planning to take a trip by land, air or sea, the U.S. has so much to offer. 

From white sand beaches, to horseback riding in the mountains or hiking through the desert, these are the top 20 destinations nominated for your summer getaway this year, according to responses compiled by USA Today

Bar Harbor, Maine 

Bar Harbor is a small town on Mount Desert Island on the edge of Acadia National Park. 

Old-fashioned colorful slatted houses, eateries and shops line Bar Harbor’s quaint downtown, while access to the park offers stunning views, hiking and swimming. 

Black Hills & Badlands, South Dakota 

For those captivated by geological wonders and who enjoy hiking through mountainous expanse, a trip to the Black Hills and Badlands is a must-see. 

Highlights include the iconic Mount Rushmore with the U.S. presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln carved into the granite rock. 

Capitol Reef Country, Utah 

Utah‘s Capitol Reef Country includes many varied desert treasures such as Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands and Arches national parks. 

Visiting these stunning geological features is best done as a road trip.

Catalina Island, California 

Catalina Island’s stunning coastline, sandy beaches and clear blue waters has made it famous as the backdrop for more than 500 films and TV shows in the last century. 

At just 22 miles long, this island is the perfect spot for a relaxed beach getaway. 

Cody, Wyoming 

For those with Yellowstone National Park on their bucket list, Cody could be the perfect place to stay. 

Known as the ‘Rodeo Capital of the World,’ the Wild West would be right on your doorstep with horseback riding, cowboy bars and breathtaking scenery. 

Door County, Wisconsin 

If you prefer boating and kayaking over lying on the beach, another alternative is Wisconsin’s Door County with its more than 300 miles of shoreline along Lake Michigan. 

The food and wine scene on land offers much for those that prefer to keep their feet dry. 

Finger Lakes, New York 

The 11 clustered lakes of the Finger Lakes region in Upstate New York also offer a lot for fishing and watersports enthusiasts. 

The area also has many acclaimed wineries, so be sure to book a tasting on your visit. 

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama 

The Gulf Coast of Alabama is lined with white sandy beaches and clear blue waters for the perfect relaxation getaway. 

Cultured Orange Beach offers culinary delights as well as amusement parks for the kids. 

Juneau, Alaska 

Juneau’s snowy mountain range offers endless opportunities for hiking on its 250 miles of trails. 

The area is rich in indigenous history and steeped in wildlife perfect for reconnecting with the great outdoors.

Laurel Highlands, Pennsylvania

The 3,000 miles of gorgeous scenery in southwestern Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands attracts families year after year who love activities such as white-water rafting and visiting historic landmarks such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece Fallingwater. 

Mackinac Island, Michigan 

Mackinac Island is situated between Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas. Its charm stems from its car-free roads, which make taking a horse-drawn carriage ride into town a nostalgic pleasure. 

Mackinac Island State Park offers off-the-beaten-track hiking, biking and kayaking.

Ocean City, New Jersey

This spot on the Jersey Shore boasts its famous boardwalk with plenty of eateries and seaside shops. 

There are plenty of amusement parks for children including the acclaimed Playland Castaway Cove that offers the thrill of go-karting and roller coasters as well as mini golf. 

Ocean City, Maryland

For a more laid back atmosphere, Maryland’s Ocean City is the quintessential East Coast beach town. 

With boardwalks and sandy beaches, Ocean City offers the perfect escape. 

San Juan Islands, Washington 

This cluster of 176 islands and reefs offers rugged coastline, lighthouses and windswept beaches. 

The four main islands, San Juan, Orcas, Lopez and Shaw, are all reachable by the Washington ferry system and have hotels available for tourists. 

Sandusky, Ohio

Sandusky is a fan-favorite for family holidays as the home to Cedar Point amusement park’s 150 rides and attractions. 

It also has plenty of cultural offerings including the Maritime Museum of Sandusky and the Sandusky State Theatre. 

Sevier County, Tennessee

Luscious Sevier County in Tennessee is known at the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains, one of the country’s most popular national parks. 

The are hosts the only ski resort in the state and in summer offers spectacular hiking and small town charm at the ideally located spots of Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.

South Rim, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona 

The South Rim offers the most iconic and best known view of the Grand Canyon. Nearby Grand Canyon Village offers a range of tourist attractions and options for visitors staying the night. 

If you’re less fond of hiking, the Canyon Railway Depot takes visitors on a scenic route through the Canyon and surrounding area.

Space Coast, Florida 

Home of the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Florida’s Atlantic shore is a must visit for the cosmically obsessed. 

See where Apollo 11 lifted off for its famous moon landing mission or simply enjoy the sandy beaches in the area. 

Swain County, North Carolina 

Also bordering the Great Smoke Mountains is Swain County in North Carolina. The area showcases beautiful waterfalls as well as white-water rafting for the more adventurous. 

Virginia Beach, Virginia 

Rich in maritime history Virginia Beach, Chesapeake Bay and Sandbridge Bay offers 35 miles of sandy beaches and boardwalks making it the world’s longest pleasure beach.  

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