10 Best Summer Travel Destinations Across the US for 2024

10 Best Summer Travel Destinations Across the US for 2024

Whether you're hitting the road with the family or embarking on a solo adventure, summer is the peak season for travel in the United States. There are so many endlessly compelling sights to see and things to do throughout this country's millions of square miles, from picturesque national parks to sleepy mountain towns to breathtakingly beautiful beaches.

An expert panel selected their must-see places for a summer vacation, then readers voted for their favorites to determine the winners. Here are the 10 best summer travel destinations for 2024.


10. Space Coast, Florida

Situated on Florida’s Atlantic shore, the Space Coast area is recognized as the home of the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, where Apollo 11 lifted off for its moon landing mission. The region is also a hub of activities, including water sports, cruise excursions, fishing, and golfing. It's also a great spot for lazy beach days.

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Source: Space Coast Office of Tourism


9. Ocean City, Maryland

Ocean City, Maryland, is the quintessential beach town, offering laid-back vibes, old-fashioned boardwalk treats, and beautiful sandy beaches. Head over to a bustling arcade, get in line for a thrill at Trimper Rides, or simply sit back with a good book and dig your feet into the sand.

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Source: Ocean City, MD Tourism


8. San Juan Islands, Washington

While there are some 176 islands and reefs that make up the San Juan Islands, the main four — San Juan, Orcas, Lopez, and Shaw — are serviced by the state ferry system and offer accommodations for tourists. While these islands are diverse and offer different experiences, they all feature spectacular vistas of the Salish Sea, with plenty of water and land activities to keep everyone busy. Accommodations range from hotels and resorts to small inns, vacation rentals, and camping sites.

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Source: Katie Jones via San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau


7. Door County, Wisconsin

For an unexpected lakeside vacation spot, it’s hard to beat Wisconsin’s Door County, home to 300 miles of shoreline along Lake Michigan and every water sport you can imagine. Paddleboarding, kayaking, fishing, water skiing, and even scuba diving around shipwrecks are all among the aquatic activities available throughout this Midwestern destination. For those who prefer staying on land, there’s also a solid beer and wine scene, art galleries to explore, plus hiking, biking, and more at their five state parks. 

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Source: Dan Eggert/Destination Door County


6. Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama

Alabama's Gulf Coast offers 32 miles of pristine white sand beaches and cerulean blue waters, and it's home to an amazing restaurant scene. This spot is popular with families because of the many outdoor activities available for all ages. Whether you want to relax on the beach, head out on a kayaking expedition, or venture to an amusement park, you’ll find plenty to enjoy. 

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Source: Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism


5. Laurel Highlands, Pennsylvania

If you love the great outdoors, you’ll be smitten with Laurel Highlands, which sits in southwestern Pennsylvania. It’s approximately 3,000 square miles and includes three counties: Fayette, Somerset, and Westmoreland. Visit Fallingwater, which is recognized as a National Historic Landmark and one of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s most acclaimed works. For thrill-seekers, book a white-water rafting excursion in Ohiopyle State Park. The park also offers numerous challenging hikes where you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views.

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Source: Alex Byers


4. Cody, Wymoing

This rugged mountain town is the gateway to Yellowstone National Park, and it's known as the "Rodeo Capital of the World," offering you a glimpse into the Wild West. Named after Buffalo Bill Cody, Cody, Wyoming, features sweeping views, hearty and authentic cowboy fare, and many opportunities for outdoor adventures.

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Source: Cody Yellowstone


3. Catalina Island, California

Catalina Island, which stretches 22 miles, is an ideal coastal destination in California. Historically significant because it’s been the filming location for more than 500 films, TV shows, and commercials over the past 90 years, this family-friendly destination is also well-known for its pristine beaches, outdoor activities, and sumptuous seafood. 

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Source: Jasper Chamber/ iStock / Getty Images Plus


2. Ocean City, New Jersey

This family-friendly vacation spot on the Jersey Shore is known for its exciting boardwalk, with shops and eateries galore, views of the Atlantic, plus vintage amusement parks. Playland’s Castaway Cove is one such park, with go-karts, thrill rides including roller coasters, a fun house, and mini golf. And if parks aren’t your thing, there’s miles and miles of relaxing beaches on which to get in some sun and swimming.

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Source: Ocean City Chamber of Commerce 


1. Mackinac Island, Michigan

Between Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas, you’ll find Mackinac Island, where you’ll ride on horse-drawn carriages along car-free roads, observe fudge being made (and then sample it), and tour the historic Fort Mackinac. This Lake Huron-based continental island is also home to Mackinac Island State Park, where you can hike, bike, kayak, and take photos of the local natural beauty, including the stunning limestone Arch Rock.

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Source: Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau 


Source: 10 Best Travel Destinations Across the US for 2024 USA Today 10 Best (May 22, 2024)