Looking for the best cities to visit in the USA right now? Expect epic food, culture and history at these brilliant spots. 

Glance at any map and you’ll realise the USA is a sprawling country with dozens of major cities dotting North America’s rivers, prairies, and coastline. So planning which city to choose for your US city break may seem like a tough task.

Fear not. We’re going to take a jaunt around 16 of the best cities in the USA and you’d better believe I’ll include details about why you need to visit each and every one.

Let’s go! 

Best Cities to Visit in the USA 

San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge

Located between the Pacific Ocean and the SF Bay, San Francisco needs little introduction. 

This iconic city is studded with landmarks like the infamous island prison of Alcatraz and the bustling port and harbour of Fisherman’s Wharf (where you can buy Dungeness crab from the docks cooked or still pinching).

Diverse neighbourhoods define the city by the bay, and you can take a cultural tour through the art, cuisine, and artisanal crafts in more than a few of them.

Visit the Mission District for the murals near 24th Street and a burrito at La Taqueria (order dorado-style for a nice char on the tortilla) before tapping into the Beat Generation’s history at mainstays like City Lights Booksellers and Vesuvio Cafe.

Take in the views of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge from Baker Beach, a sandy stretch of The Presidio. This former military post dates back to Spanish Colonial rule and is now a gorgeous national park right within city limits.

Where to Stay: 1 Hotel 

Los Angeles

Venice Beach, Los Angeles

Los Angeles often gets a bad rap. Many people complain about the city’s sprawling nature and how busy it is. 

They’re all haters. If you look at LA in a different way, the endless collection of neighbourhoods and parks from the Pacific Ocean to the interior valleys makes it a unique and exciting place to visit.

Sure, there’s Hollywood and Beverly Hills – both popular for stargazing (the other kind) and shopping. But there are also so many hidden gems hiding in plain sight. One example? Teddy’s Red Tacos Venice (right next to the skateboard parks and Muscle Beach).

Urban hikes like Griffith Park & Observatory or heading up to the Hollywood Sign stretch your legs, and come with a side of unbeatable views. 

Alternatively, Santa Monica Pier and 3rd Street Promenade are perfect for shopping at boutiques, grabbing a quick meal, or taking a ride on the giant Ferris Wheel at the end of the pier, the Pacific Wheel.

Where to Stay: The Mondrian

New York

New York- View from Empire State Building

Bet you expected New York to be the very first city in this list of cities to visit in the USA, didn’t you? Well, it’s here now. 

Bright lights, non-stop action, and a rich history of numerous cultures arriving in the United States via Ellis Island all help make NYC one of the top US cities to visit.

Sure, it’s got sights galore, but the best way to explore NYC is through food. Here are a few tips.

Avoid dining in Times Square if possible (though a gyro from Adel’s Famous Halal Food is top-notch) and opt for a pastrami on rye at Katz’s on the Lower East Side, a plain slice of pizza at Joe’s on Carmine St., and BBQ pork buns at Golden Steamer.

Don’t miss a stroll through the massive open space known as Central Park or a view of Manhattan from the top of the Empire State Building.

Where to Stay: The Wallace Hotel

Washington DC

Washington DC

Another gem on the East Coast, Washington DC, offers so much to do for tourists. Much of what makes it one of the best cities to visit USA museums is its rich history as the nexus of politics and law since George Washington chose the location as the US Capitol.

The unique architecture and planning were the vision of Pierre L’Enfant, who worked with the founding fathers to uphold the constitutional laws of freedom and democracy with an approachable capitol filled with open spaces like the National Mall.

Visiting when the cherry blossoms bloom in the spring to see landmarks like Lincoln Memorial, the National Mall, and the Smithsonian creates a welcoming vibe in the beautiful (and often free) public spaces.

But if you’re looking for less well-known things to do, the church-turned-neon gallery Blind Whino and the large Ferris Wheel (Capital Wheel) at the National Harbor are two great stops in one of the top cities to visit in the US.

Where to Stay: The LINE Hotel DC

Las Vegas

Las Vegas Nevada

There’s no doubt when planning what US cities to visit, Las Vegas comes up time and again. 

Think bright neon lights, grand pools and fountains and a constant one-upmanship of hotels dotting the red rock desert commonly known as Sin City since the 1930s.

Everyone needs to walk down the ~4-mile stretch of The Strip, with its shimmering exterior lights and casinos, destination restaurants, and world-class shows inside iconic resorts like the MGM Grand.

But I think staying Downtown on Fremont Street is a lot more fun. Storied dive bars like Atomic Liquors (the frequent Rat Pack haunt), the new and (incredible) pools and sports book at Circa Resort & Casino, and easy access to excellent restaurants like Esther’s Kitchen in the Arts District are all winners.

Where to Stay: Circa Resort & Casino



Miami makes a case as the very best city to travel in the USA. For starters, the beaches in this South Florida gem are epic, with the lavish South Beach in the heart of the city and laid-back Biscayne National Park in the Florida Keys a short drive away.

Then there’s the street art at Wynwood Walls, the amazing food at Little Havana (try Doce Provisions), and shopping at the outdoor mall, Bayside Marketplace. 

Be sure to add this great USA city to your travel plans if you have the chance.

Where to Stay: Kimpton South Beach 


Nashville has become a playground for music and nightlife in the American South over the last few decades. 

How? Iconic venues like the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium, and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum boast the biggest names in rock and roll and country.

But Nashville has a much longer story to tell, as what’s now one of the best cities to visit in the USA began taking form at the turn of the 19th century and when the Battle of Nashville began to secure victory for the Union over the Confederate Army.

See examples of Nashville’s history at President Andrew Jackson’s former plantation and home, Hermitage, Dixona (the home of Revolutionary War soldier Tilman Dixon), and the Downtown Presbyterian Church, with a history dating back to the Civil War.

If you want to try one of the famous local dishes, don’t miss a chance to try the spicy yet addictive hot chicken at Hattie B’s.

Where to Stay: Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center


Chicago, IL shutterstock_1823564576

With a long history as a centre of shipping and storing goods between the East and West Coasts, Chicago grew from a city of fewer than 5,000 people to over 100,000 in the mid-19th century.

 Now one of the largest cities to visit in the US, there’s no shortage of amazing food, culture, and sightseeing in the Windy City, much of which holds onto the blue-collar roots. 

Stroll along Navy Pier, Millennium Park, and the Riverwalk to take in the fantastic architecture, diversely populated neighbourhoods, and bustling vibe in the heart of the city.

But where should you grab a bite to eat in one of the best food cities to travel to in the US? 

Get a hotdog at Byron’s, an Italian Beef at Al’s, and a deep-dish pizza at Pequods (though I prefer the tavern-style at Pat’s). 

Where to Stay: Thompson Chicago

Santa Fe

Meow Wolf Santa Fe

Looking for cities to visit in US that may not be on your radar? Try Santa Fe.

This small city in New Mexico (USA’s oldest capital city) is teeming with things to do, from the amazing art scene to Native American history – you’ll have plenty of culture and cuisine to keep you busy in the “city different.” 

The tripped-out interactive art museum Meow Wolf and the more conservative but very cool New Mexico Museum of Art showcase the city’s commitment to the arts.

You’ll also want to visit the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA) for lessons on the history and artwork of the Native Americans who have lived near Santa Fe for over 2,000 years.

Where to Stay: Drury Plaza Hotel

New Orleans

New Orleans

New Orleans is alive and well nearly 20 years after the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina. Located near where the Mississippi River meets the Gulf of Mexico, you’ll find French, Spanish, and African influences throughout the Big Easy.

Head to the French Quarter for live music, non-stop parties, and literally some of the most delicious food of your life in one of the best cities in America to visit. 

Where to start? Grab a muffuletta any time of day at Verti Marte, gumbo and bloody mary at Stanley of New Orleans, and of course, beignets at Cafe du Monde if you’ve never been.

Jackson Square and New Orleans City Park are wonderful any time but head to Bourbon Street during Mardis Gras for one of the most epic parties you’ll find anywhere.

Where to Stay: The Mercantile Hotel



Another port city near the Gulf of Mexico (and one of the best cities to visit in the US) that might fly under holidaymakers’ radars, despite being the 4th most populated city. I’m talking about the larger-than-life Houston, Texas.

The multi-cultural neighbourhoods of H-Town spoil visitors with hidden gems like Peru Cafe Express, Pho Saigon, and the BBQ mainstay Hickory Hollow, showing the diverse population of this Southwest metropolis through delicious cuisine.

For a look at Houston’s economy and institutions, visit Rice University, Museum District and Herrmann Park, and NASA’s Johnson Space Center to learn more about Houston’s rich culture of science and education.

Where to Stay: Hotel Zaza


What’s the best city to visit in the USA if you want to experience the history, food and culture of the American South? Head to Savannah, Georgia.

Savannah has a long history as a city, dating back to British rule, and you can see colonial influences in the architecture at buildings like the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist when walking around town.

And then there’s the food. Go to The Olde Pink House, where you’ll enjoy an upscale dining experience in a historic (and very pink) mansion on a tree-lined street in the heart of Savannah. Or try some fried chicken at Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room. 

Where to Stay: The DeSoto



Sports, museums, food – you can find it all in the City of Brotherly Love. Philly is where the founding fathers laid out the plans for forming what’s now the USA, so it’s a must when wanting to learn more about the history of the United States.

Be sure to see the Liberty Bell at the Independence Mall, one of the greatest symbols of freedom in the USA.

Philadelphia is also one of the top cities in the US to visit for culinary gifts to the sandwich world, like cheesesteaks from Pat’s King of Steaks and roasted pork with broccoli rabe at Marinucci’s.

And you can’t leave without a guided tour of where they filmed the boxing epic, Rocky, right?

Where to Stay: The Rittenhouse Hotel


Union Station Denver

One of my favourite American cities to visit, Denver surprised me the first time I landed. I knew about Rocky Mountain National Park and a bit about the Gold Rush history of the American West, but I had no idea how much the Mile High City has to offer right now.

The many murals in RiNo, urban markets like Denver Central Market and Union Station, and cool museums like the Molly Brown House and Denver Art Museum make it one of the best cities to explore in the US.

Where to Stay: The Ramble Hotel


South Mountain Park Preserve Phoenix, AZ

Keen to find the best cities to visit in the United States Southwest? Phoenix has so much to offer for visitors willing to explore the desert metropolis in the Valley of the Sun.

I was floored by the creative flavours at Valentine, views from hiking up Camelback Mountain outside downtown, and the gorgeous Orpheum Theatre, which proudly shows its history as a hub for the arts out west since the early 20th century.

It’s a city where you’ll need to drive to a lot of attractions, but hidden gems like the Bat Cave and Tovrea Castle at Carraro Heights are worth the effort.

Where to Stay: Arizona Biltmore A Waldorf Astoria Resort


Looking to visit cities in the USA with history, tradition, and gorgeous views of the Atlantic Ocean? Head to Boston Harbor, where Jonathan Winthrop helped over 700 English Puritans escape England to settle along the modern-day Massachusetts shores.

The beautiful port city is a perfect place to spend a few days experiencing a baseball game at Fenway, having a bowl of clam chowder at James Hook & Co, and a New England-style IPA at Trillium Brewing.

Head to Cambridge to walk along the historic campuses of MIT and Harvard, which is especially charming in the fall.

Where to Stay: The Revolution Hotel


Portland Maine

If craft cocktails, artisanal boutique shops, and a thriving food scene all sound like reasons to book a holiday, Portland, Oregon, is one of the best cities to visit in America.

It’s a very walkable city in the Pacific Northwest, with several pedestrian bridges connecting the various neighbourhoods separated by the Willamette River.

I loved Pearl District with gems like Khao San for Thai food, and Teardrop Lounge for cocktails. Alberta Arts District also has great shopping and dining, with cool boutiques like Frock and Tumbleweed. 

Be sure to visit the International Test Rose Garden, which is absolutely brilliant early in the summer when shades of pink, violet, and crimson brighten up the forest-green landscape.

Where to Stay: Hotel DeLuxe

Practical Tips for Exploring the Best US Cities to Visit

  • The USA is a massive country. As such, you’ll want to stick to 2-3 of the best cities in the USA for your holiday if you’re short on time.
  • Many of the best US cities have decent public transportation. Unless you’re planning a road trip, you’ll be fine without a car in most of these locations.
  • Check the forecast before you pack. Many USA cities have extreme temperature variations, depending on when you visit.
  • Bring your passport when drinking and dining throughout the US. ID policies are pretty strict for alcohol consumption in the USA.

US Cities to Visit: Map 

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