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Summer Bliss: A Detailed, Ultimate 21 Destinations Across the USA for Your Ultimate Adventure

Are you ready to hit the road and experience the best summer in the USA? Traveling in an RV opens up a world of possibilities, allowing you to explore stunning landscapes, iconic attractions, and hidden gems at your own pace. However, even if you’re not in an RV, you’ll find this list quite detailed with favorite places and definite “do not miss” destinations. Whether you’re seeking sandy beaches, mountain adventures, or cultural immersion, we’ve compiled a list of the top 21 places to visit in the USA during the summer. Get ready to make memories that will last a lifetime!

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming:

This was absolutely one of our very favorite places to visit.

Yellowstone National Park

Witness the geysers, hot springs, and wildlife that make Yellowstone a must-visit destination for nature lovers.

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming:

It is a great summer destination! Grand Teton National Park, in northwestern Wyoming, is a captivating wilderness sanctuary renowned for its towering mountain peaks, pristine alpine lakes, and abundant wildlife. Encompassing over 300,000 acres of rugged terrain, the park boasts the iconic Teton Range, which dominates the skyline with its jagged summits and dramatic vistas.

Visitors can explore many outdoor activities, including hiking, wildlife viewing, fishing, and scenic drives along the park’s picturesque roads. With its stunning landscapes and rich natural diversity, Grand Teton National Park offers an unforgettable escape into the heart of the Rocky Mountains.

Acadia National Park, Maine:

Spanning over 49,000 acres on Mount Desert Island and surrounding areas, this coastal gem is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Visitors can explore scenic trails that wind through lush woodlands, leading to panoramic viewpoints such as Cadillac Mountain, the highest peak on the East Coast. Dramatic cliffs and pristine beaches along the park’s coastline offer opportunities for leisurely strolls and breathtaking ocean views. With its rich biodiversity and stunning natural beauty, Acadia National Park promises an unforgettable adventure in the heart of New England. Here are some more amazing things to see in Maine!

Cape Cod, Massachusetts:

Here are our top 3 places you shouldn’t miss in Cape Cob:

  1. Cape Cod National Seashore: Stretching 40 miles of pristine coastline, Cape Cod National Seashore is a natural treasure, offering sandy beaches, rolling dunes, and picturesque lighthouses. Visitors can explore hiking trails, enjoy swimming and sunbathing, and marvel at the breathtaking vistas of the Atlantic Ocean. Don’t miss iconic spots like Race Point Beach, Marconi Beach, and the Highland Light.
  2. Provincetown: Known for its vibrant arts scene, eclectic atmosphere, and stunning natural beauty, Provincetown is a must-visit destination on Cape Cod. Stroll down Commercial Street, lined with art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants. Explore the historic Provincetown Museum and climb the Pilgrim Monument for panoramic views of the town and surrounding landscape. Enjoy whale-watching excursions and sunset cruises, or relax on the town’s beautiful beaches.
  3. Chatham: With its quaint downtown area, historic architecture, and picturesque harbor, Chatham is a charming seaside town that encapsulates the quintessential Cape Cod experience. Visit Chatham Lighthouse Beach for stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and the iconic lighthouse. Explore Chatham’s Main Street, which has boutique shops, art galleries, and seafood restaurants. Don’t miss the Chatham Fish Pier, where you can watch fishing boats come and go while enjoying fresh seafood straight from the ocean.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee & North Carolina:

Discover cascading waterfalls, scenic hiking trails, and historic homesteads in the Smokies. Definitely make plans to stay longer than one or two days, but there are our two favorite destinations if you only just have a day or two:

  1. Clingmans Dome: Standing 6,643 feet (2,025 meters), Clingmans Dome is the highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains and offers unparalleled panoramic views of the surrounding mountain ranges. Visitors can drive or hike to the summit, where a half-mile paved trail leads to an observation tower. From the tower, you can marvel at the vast expanse of forested mountains stretching as far as the eye can see. Clingmans Dome is particularly breathtaking at sunrise or sunset when the misty mountains are bathed in golden light.
  2. Cades Cove: Nestled in a picturesque valley surrounded by mountains, Cades Cove is a historic and scenic area within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Visitors can explore the cove via an 11-mile loop road, which offers opportunities for wildlife viewing, picnicking, hiking, and exploring historic homesteads and churches dating back to the 19th century. Cades Cove is renowned for its abundant wildlife, including white-tailed deer, black bears, turkeys, and various bird species. It’s also a popular spot for capturing stunning sunrise and sunset views against the backdrop of the Smokies.

Glacier National Park, Montana:

We spent the entire summer in Montana in 2018. What an incredible state. Drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road and soak in the breathtaking beauty of glaciers, mountains, and lakes. Make sure you do some research. The year we were there, this scenic drive didn’t even open until July 4th weekend.

Pacific Coast Highway, California:

I was born and raised just a minute outside of Malibu, and the PCH was something I took for granted until I was older. Embark on a coastal road trip, winding through rugged cliffs, sandy beaches, and charming coastal towns. I highly recommend the northern drive of PCH, but it’s all beautiful!

Lake Tahoe, California & Nevada:

Swim, hike, or simply relax by the crystal-clear waters of this stunning alpine lake. Here are our top 3 places to see near Lake Tahoe:

Sand Harbor State Park
  1. Emerald Bay State Park: Emerald Bay is one of the most photographed and iconic spots in Lake Tahoe, famed for its brilliant turquoise waters and stunning scenery. Visitors can hike the Rubicon Trail for panoramic views of the bay and surrounding mountains or explore the historic Vikingsholm Castle, a Scandinavian-style mansion nestled along the shoreline. For a truly unforgettable experience, take a kayak or paddleboard out onto the tranquil waters of Emerald Bay and soak in the beauty of this natural wonder.
  2. Heavenly Mountain Resort: Whether visiting in winter for world-class skiing and snowboarding or in summer for hiking and mountain biking, Heavenly Mountain Resort offers year-round adventure and breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe. Ride the Heavenly Gondola to the summit, where you’ll be treated to panoramic vistas of the lake and surrounding peaks. In winter, hit the slopes on over 97 trails spanning two states, while in summer, visitors can enjoy hiking, zip-lining, and mountain coaster rides.
  3. Sand Harbor State Park: Located on the northeastern shore of Lake Tahoe, Sand Harbor is renowned for its pristine sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and towering rock formations. Relax on the beach, swim in the cool waters, or explore the underwater world while snorkeling or scuba diving. The park also offers picnic areas, hiking trails, and paddleboarding, kayaking, and boating opportunities. Don’t miss the annual Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, held at Sand Harbor each summer, featuring outdoor theater performances against the backdrop of the lake.

Outer Banks, North Carolina:

Enjoy endless beaches, historic lighthouses, and fresh seafood on these barrier islands.

One favorite thing not to miss when visiting the Outer Banks, North Carolina, is witnessing the majestic wild horses that roam freely along the beaches and dunes of the area. These feral horses, known as the Corolla wild horses, are believed to be descendants of Spanish mustangs brought to the Outer Banks by early explorers in the 16th century. Seeing the wild horses of the Outer Banks is an unforgettable experience that captures the spirit of this coastal paradise and provides a glimpse into its rich natural heritage.

Cape Flattery, Washington:

We made a 15-minute decision to change our plans and head here with some friends. Best decision ever!

Cape Flattery, located in the northwesternmost corner of the contiguous United States in Washington State, is a rugged and enchanting promontory that offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. As the northwesternmost point of the Olympic Peninsula, Cape Flattery is renowned for its dramatic sea stacks, pristine coastal scenery, and abundant wildlife.

Visitors to Cape Flattery can follow a short, well-maintained trail that winds through lush coastal forest and emerges onto wooden boardwalks and viewing platforms overlooking the rugged coastline. Visitors can admire the crashing waves, towering sea stacks, and expansive ocean vistas that characterize this remote and wild landscape from these vantage points.

One of the highlights of a visit to Cape Flattery is the opportunity to see the Tatoosh Island lighthouse, perched on a rocky islet just offshore. Built in 1857, this historic lighthouse adds to the allure of the rugged coastline and reminds visitors of the area’s maritime heritage.

Cape Flattery is also a prime spot for wildlife viewing, with opportunities to spot sea birds, seals, and even whales offshore. The area is rich in Native American history and culture, with interpretive signs along the trail providing insights into the traditions and significance of the Makah Tribe, who have inhabited the region for thousands of years.

For those seeking adventure and natural beauty, Cape Flattery offers a truly immersive experience in the wild and untamed beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

Sedona, Arizona:

Watch the summer temps, but this is such a spiritual and beautiful place to visit! Immerse yourself in Sedona’s stunning red rock landscapes, vibrant arts scene, and spiritual energy.

Adirondack Mountains, New York:

Here are our top 3 must-see places:

  1. Adirondack High Peaks: The towering peaks of the Adirondack High Peaks offer some of the most breathtaking vistas in the region. Hiking to the summits of peaks like Mount Marcy, Algonquin Peak, and Cascade Mountain rewards visitors with sweeping panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, valleys, and shimmering lakes. The rugged beauty of the High Peaks Wilderness Area is truly awe-inspiring and provides ample opportunities for outdoor adventure and exploration.
  2. Mirror Lake: Nestled in the heart of the village of Lake Placid, Mirror Lake is a serene and picturesque body of water surrounded by verdant forests and the majestic Adirondack Mountains. The lake’s calm waters create a perfect mirror-like reflection of the surrounding scenery, making it a popular spot for photography, boating, and strolls along the scenic shoreline. Visitors can also enjoy swimming, paddleboarding, and kayaking in the crystal-clear waters of Mirror Lake, taking in the stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
  3. Adirondack Scenic Railroad: For a unique and memorable way to experience the beauty of the Adirondack Mountains, hop aboard the Adirondack Scenic Railroad. This historic railroad offers scenic train rides through the pristine wilderness of the Adirondacks, passing by sparkling lakes, dense forests, and charming mountain towns along the way. Whether you’re enjoying a leisurely ride on the open-air car or dining in style aboard the luxury dome car, the Adirondack Scenic Railroad provides an unforgettable journey through some of the most scenic landscapes in the region.

Door County, Wisconsin:

Experience the charm of this peninsula, with cherry orchards, lighthouses, and scenic shoreline. We highly recommend not missing these two places:

  1. Peninsula State Park: Covering over 3,700 acres of pristine wilderness along the shores of Green Bay, Peninsula State Park is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Visitors can explore miles of hiking and biking trails that wind through dense forests, along scenic bluffs, and past tranquil shoreline. The park also features a picturesque lighthouse, stunning viewpoints, and sandy beaches perfect for swimming and picnicking. Don’t miss the opportunity to catch a breathtaking sunset over the bay from the park’s Sunset Bike Trail or Eagle Tower.
  2. Fish Creek: Nestled along the shores of Green Bay, Fish Creek is a charming village known for its scenic beauty, historic buildings, and vibrant arts scene. Visitors can stroll along the town’s picturesque streets with quaint shops, art galleries, and cozy cafes. Don’t miss the chance to explore Fish Creek’s waterfront park, where you can enjoy stunning views of the bay, take a scenic boat tour, or relax on the sandy beach. Fish Creek is also home to the renowned Peninsula Players Theatre, one of the oldest professional resident summer theaters in the United States, offering top-notch performances in a stunning outdoor setting.

Columbia River Gorge, Oregon & Washington:

This is so far down on the list – but one of our favorite destinations when traveling in our RV. Discover waterfalls, hiking trails, and breathtaking views along the Columbia River.

I’m such a waterfall nut, and the amount of waterfalls you can experience is just incredible. Here are just a few of my favorites:

  1. Multnomah Falls: Multnomah Falls is the most iconic waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge and one of the most famous waterfalls in the United States. Plunging a total of 620 feet in two major steps, Multnomah Falls is a sight to behold. The upper fall drops 542 feet and the lower fall cascades 69 feet, creating a breathtaking scene surrounded by lush greenery and basalt cliffs. Visitors can enjoy views of the falls from the viewing platform or hike to the Benson Bridge, which spans the lower falls and offers a closer look at the cascade.
  2. Latourell Falls: Latourell Falls is known for its unique and striking appearance, with a single plunge that drops 249 feet over a basalt cliff. What sets Latourell Falls apart is the surrounding landscape, characterized by vibrant yellow lichen-covered rocks that contrast beautifully with the rushing waters. Visitors can view the falls from a platform just a short walk from the parking area, making it easily accessible for all visitors.
  3. Bridal Veil Falls: (I swear every state has a Bridal Veil Falls Ha!) Bridal Veil Falls is another gem of the Columbia River Gorge, with a delicate cascade that resembles a bridal veil as it tumbles 120 feet down a moss-covered basalt cliff. The falls can be viewed from a platform along the Historic Columbia River Highway, offering a picturesque vantage point of the cascade framed by lush vegetation. Visitors can also hike to the base of the falls for a closer look and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere of the surrounding forest.

Mackinac Island, Michigan:

Step back in time on this car-free island, known for its Victorian architecture, fudge shops, and horse-drawn carriages. Here are two things you shouldn’t miss:

  1. Mackinac Island State Park: Covering over 80% of the island, Mackinac Island State Park is a natural playground offering stunning scenery, hiking trails, and historic landmarks. Visitors can explore miles of hiking and biking trails that wind through lush forests, along rugged coastline, and past scenic overlooks with panoramic views of Lake Huron. Don’t miss the chance to visit iconic sites within the park, such as Arch Rock, Sugar Loaf, and Fort Holmes, which offer glimpses into the island’s rich history and natural beauty.
  2. Historic Downtown Mackinac: Step back in time as you explore the charming streets and historic buildings of downtown Mackinac. Stroll along Main Street, lined with quaint shops, art galleries, and Victorian-era architecture. Don’t miss the chance to visit historic sites such as Fort Mackinac, a military outpost dating back to the American Revolution, and the Grand Hotel, a historic luxury resort known for its iconic porch and sweeping views of the Straits of Mackinac. Be sure to indulge in some fudge, a local delicacy, at one of the island’s famed fudge shops.

Mount Rainier National Park, Washington:

Hike among wildflowers, glaciers, and towering peaks in this iconic national park. Just have a couple days to explore? We highly recommend not missing these two places:

  1. Paradise: Paradise is perhaps the most iconic destination in Mount Rainier National Park, renowned for its breathtaking views of the mountain, wildflower meadows, and alpine landscapes. Visitors can explore a network of hiking trails that wind through subalpine forests and meadows, offering opportunities to spot wildlife and marvel at stunning vistas of Mount Rainier and the surrounding peaks. Don’t miss the Paradise Jackson Visitor Center, where you can learn about the park’s geology, flora, and fauna through exhibits and ranger-led programs. In the summer, Paradise is a popular spot for wildflower viewing, while winter visitors can enjoy snowshoeing and cross-country skiing amid snow-capped landscapes.
  2. Sunrise: Situated on the eastern side of Mount Rainier, Sunrise is the highest point accessible by car in the park and offers spectacular views of the mountain, meadows, and surrounding valleys. Visitors can take in panoramic vistas from the Sunrise Visitor Center, explore a variety of hiking trails ranging from easy strolls to challenging ascents, and enjoy the tranquility of this alpine wilderness. Don’t miss the chance to hike to Shadow Lake or Burroughs Mountain for stunning views of the Emmons Glacier and surrounding peaks. Sunrise is also a prime spot for sunrise and sunset photography, with the mountain glowing in shades of pink and orange against the backdrop of the Cascade Range.

Asheville, North Carolina:

Explore the vibrant arts scene, craft breweries, and scenic beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Here are three of our top must see places while you’re there:

  1. Biltmore Estate: The Biltmore Estate is America’s largest privately-owned home and one of Asheville’s most iconic attractions. Built by George Vanderbilt in the late 19th century, this magnificent chateau-style mansion features 250 rooms, including a stunning banquet hall, library, and indoor swimming pool. Visitors can explore the meticulously landscaped gardens, stroll through the manicured grounds, and enjoy guided tours of the house and estate. Don’t miss the chance to sample award-winning wines at the Biltmore Winery, located on the estate grounds.
  2. Blue Ridge Parkway: The Blue Ridge Parkway is a scenic highway that winds through the Appalachian Mountains, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes, forests, and valleys. Visitors can drive along the parkway, stopping at scenic overlooks, hiking trails, and historical sites along the way. Don’t miss the chance to hike to waterfalls like Looking Glass Falls or take in panoramic vistas from spots like Craggy Gardens or Mount Pisgah. The Blue Ridge Parkway is also renowned for its fall foliage, with vibrant colors blanketing the mountainsides in autumn.
  3. Downtown Asheville: Downtown Asheville is a vibrant hub of art, culture, and culinary delights, with an eclectic mix of shops, galleries, restaurants, and breweries. Visitors can stroll along the streets lined with historic buildings, admire colorful murals and street art, and explore unique boutiques and artisanal shops. Don’t miss the chance to visit the Asheville Art Museum, which showcases contemporary and regional art, or take a guided walking tour to learn about the city’s history and architecture. Foodies will delight in Asheville’s diverse culinary scene, which features everything from farm-to-table restaurants to global cuisine and local craft breweries.

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado:

Awww Colorado! It has such a special place in our hearts. Of all the states we visited during our seven years of RV travel, Colorado was on the top of the list. Discover alpine meadows, sparkling lakes, and towering peaks in this Colorado gem.

  1. Trail Ridge Road: Trail Ridge Road is one of the most scenic drives in the United States, traversing the high alpine terrain of Rocky Mountain National Park. Stretching for 48 miles between Estes Park and Grand Lake, this scenic byway offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, valleys, and forests. Along the way, visitors can stop at overlooks, hiking trails, and visitor centers to take in the stunning vistas and learn about the park’s natural and cultural history.
  2. Bear Lake: Bear Lake is one of the most popular destinations in Rocky Mountain National Park, renowned for its crystal-clear waters, surrounding mountain peaks, and scenic hiking trails. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll around the lake on the Bear Lake Loop Trail, which offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape and opportunities for wildlife viewing. Don’t miss the chance to explore nearby trails like the Emerald Lake Trail or the Dream Lake Trail, which lead to other picturesque alpine lakes and waterfalls.
  3. Hiking to the Alpine Tundra: Rocky Mountain National Park is home to some of the most breathtaking alpine scenery in the United States, and hiking to the alpine tundra is a must-do activity for outdoor enthusiasts. Popular hikes include the Ute Trail, which offers sweeping views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, and the Flattop Mountain Trail, which leads to the summit of Flattop Mountain and offers panoramic vistas of the Continental Divide.
  4. Moraine Park: Moraine Park is a picturesque valley in the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park, known for its lush meadows, meandering streams, and abundant wildlife. Visitors can explore the valley on scenic drives or hiking trails, keeping an eye out for elk, deer, and other animals that frequent the area. Moraine Park is also a popular spot for picnicking, birdwatching, and photography, especially during the fall when the aspen trees turn brilliant shades of gold and orange.
  5. The Continental Divide: The Continental Divide runs through Rocky Mountain National Park, marking the line between the Atlantic and Pacific watersheds. Visitors can experience this iconic geological feature by hiking along trails like the Continental Divide Trail or driving to scenic overlooks like Milner Pass or the Alpine Visitor Center. From these vantage points, you can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys and marvel at the natural beauty of this pristine wilderness area.

Cumberland Island, Georgia:

Camp on pristine beaches, hike through maritime forests and spot wild horses on this secluded barrier island. Our top must-see places are:

  1. Dungeness Ruins: The Dungeness Ruins are the remnants of a once-grand mansion built by Thomass Carnegie, brother of industrialist Andrew Carnegie, in the late 19th century. The mansion was destroyed by fire in 1959, but the ruins remain a haunting reminder of the island’s Gilded Age past. Visitors can explore the ruins, which are surrounded by lush maritime forests and overlook the Cumberland River and salt marshes. Don’t miss the chance to stroll along the trails near Dungeness Beach and spot wild horses grazing in the nearby fields.
  2. Cumberland Island Beaches: Cumberland Island is home to over 17 miles of pristine beaches, making it a paradise for beach lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Visitors can relax on the soft white sand, swim in the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean, and explore the shoreline for shells, driftwood, and other treasures. Some of the most popular beaches on Cumberland Island include Sea Camp Beach, which is accessible via ferry from the mainland, and Stafford Beach, which offers stunning views of the island’s dunes and maritime forests. Beachcombing, birdwatching, and wildlife viewing are popular activities on Cumberland Island’s beaches, where visitors can spot dolphins, shorebirds, and sea turtles in their natural habitat.

Newport, Rhode Island:

Tour historic mansions, stroll along the scenic Cliff Walk, and indulge in fresh seafood in this coastal New England town. One top place to see in Newport, Rhode Island, is the historic Newport Mansions, particularly The Breakers. The Breakers is a stunning Gilded Age mansion built by the Vanderbilt family in the late 19th century. This magnificent mansion features opulent architecture, lavish interiors, and breathtaking ocean views. Visitors can explore the grand rooms, manicured gardens, and grounds, gaining insight into the luxurious lifestyle of America’s wealthiest families during the turn of the century. The Breakers offers guided tours and self-guided audio tours, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the fascinating history and architectural splendor of this iconic Newport landmark.

Olympic National Park, Washington:

Explore rainforests, rugged coastlines, and alpine meadows in this diverse national park. It was hard to gather a list of favorites, but here are a few things that made our top list:

  1. Hurricane Ridge: Hurricane Ridge is one of the most popular destinations in Olympic National Park, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Visitors can drive or take a shuttle bus to the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, where they can enjoy panoramic vistas, hike scenic trails, and observe wildlife such as deer, marmots, and Olympic marmots. In winter, Hurricane Ridge is a popular spot for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and sledding.
  2. Hoh Rainforest: The Hoh Rainforest is one of the largest temperate rainforests in the United States and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can explore moss-draped trees, lush ferns, and cascading waterfalls along the Hoh River Trail, which offers a glimpse into this unique and pristine ecosystem. Don’t miss the Hall of Mosses Trail, a short loop trail that winds through ancient trees covered in vibrant green mosses and ferns.
  3. Ruby Beach: Ruby Beach is one of the most iconic and picturesque beaches in Olympic National Park, known for its rugged sea stacks, tide pools, and stunning sunsets. Visitors can explore tide pools teeming with marine life, stroll along the sandy shoreline, and marvel at the towering rock formations and sea stacks rising from the surf. Ruby Beach is also a popular spot for beachcombing, photography, and wildlife viewing, with opportunities to spot offshore seabirds, seals, and even whales.
  4. Lake Crescent: Lake Crescent is a stunning glacially carved lake known for its crystal-clear waters, scenic beauty, and outdoor recreation opportunities. Visitors can swim, kayak, paddleboard, or fish in the lake’s pristine waters, which are surrounded by lush forests and towering peaks. Don’t miss the chance to take a scenic drive along Highway 101, which winds along the shores of Lake Crescent and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.

Whew! If you’re still here – Thank you! With this detailed list of summer travel destinations, you’re all set to plan the ultimate summer adventure in the USA. Whether you’re chasing outdoor thrills, coastal bliss, or cultural experiences, these 21 places offer something for every traveler. So pack your bags, hit the road, and get ready to create memories that will last a lifetime. Happy travels!

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