Top Destinations

  • Food + Drink

Explore the best of the world. Access insider tips and hotel recommendations from our travel tastemakers

By proceeding, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use .

Hotels Trip Ideas outdoor sky water grass River reflection shore Lake Boat horizon cloud morning Sunset Sea dusk Nature evening dock dawn marina bay surrounded day

  • 1 Grafton, Vermont
  • 2 Sugar Hill, New Hampshire
  • 3 Stockbridge, Massachusetts
  • 4 Montpelier, Vermont
  • 5 Hudson, New York
  • 6 Frenchtown, New Jersey
  • 7 Bristol, Rhode Island
  • 8 Mystic, Connecticut
  • 9 Castine, Maine

Northeast Vacations: The 9 Cutest Towns For Your Trip

With lighthouse-scattered coasts, bucolic countryside, rich historical ties, and too many quaint villages to count, the Northeast radiates a relaxed energy no other region could hope to replicate. Here, 9 of the cutest towns to check out next time you’re in the neighborhood.

A Brooklyn-based writer and editor, Chelsea's work has appeared in Matador Network, The Huffington Post, the TripAdvisor blog, and more. When not planning her next trip, you'll usually find her drinking way too much iced coffee (always iced—she’s from New England) or bingeing a Netflix original series.

See recent posts by Chelsea Stuart

Food + Drink Outdoors + Adventure Trip Ideas Weekend Getaways tree outdoor sky house building residential area home neighbourhood estate season rural area cottage autumn suburb Forest sign

Grafton, Vermont

One look at Grafton’s historic covered bridges, romantic country inns, family-run farmsteads, and sheep-dotted pastures, and you’ll realize that the village is a representation of small town New England at its finest. Nestled in Vermont’s Green Mountains, the charming town is home to less than 600 year-round residents who regularly convene for Town Meetings (see Gilmore Girls’ Stars Hollow, for reference). Tuck your things away at Main Street’s circa-1801 Grafton Inn —right next door to the village’s iconic white steepled church—and make a beeline for Grafton Village Cheese Co. We'd argue that there's no better way to spend an afternoon than nibbling on naturally-aged, handmade variations (there’s more than 80) like truffle cheddar, 18-month emmentaler, and sheep gouda while you watch the company’s cheesemakers in action.

Trip Ideas grass sky outdoor Nature flower field grassland plant prairie flora meadow lavender grass family land plant lupin wildflower flowering plant english lavender woodland pond wetland lush

Sugar Hill, New Hampshire

Tucked away in New Hampshire’s rugged White Mountains, with stunning scenic views (especially come fall), hole-in-the-wall antique shops, and a population that hovers around just 560, Sugar Hill has all the trappings of a quintessential New England town. Swing by in June to catch the annual Celebration of Lupines , when the reborn blooms blanket Sugar Hill’s countryside in a brilliant display of blues, purples, pinks, and whites. From there, extend your outdoor time with an excursion in neighboring Franconia Notch State Park. Take a dip in Echo Lake , listen to the roaring waters of the Flume Gorge , or take a ride on an 80-person cable car at the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway. On a clear day, you can see straight across NH to Maine, Vermont, New York, and even Canada.

RELATED : Countdown to Summer: 8 Incredible Trips to Take This Summer

Romance Trip Ideas Weekend Getaways grass outdoor sky tree field green Nature grassy grassland meadow lawn plant lush hill estate rural area flower landscape Farm Garden autumn day

Stockbridge, Massachusetts

In recent years, the Massachusetts Berkshires have been luring more city slickers out of NYC and Boston than ever. Those in search of a picturesque bucolic escape look no further than Stockbridge, a resort town with relative name recognition thanks to famous resident Norman Rockwell. In fact, many visitors make the hike out to the western MA town just to glimpse the largest collection of the prolific artist's work and personal items at the Norman Rockwell Museum . Priceless art aside, it’s also worth spending some downtime at the Berkshire Botanical Garden and window-shopping the bric-a-brac-filled country stores on Historic Main Street. Once you work up an appetite, head 5 minutes down the road to No. Six Depot in West Stockbridge. The rustic small-batch coffee roaster/café/art gallery serves a mean panini (go for the porchetta with truffle aioli, hazelnut gremolata, and lemon-caper aioli) and—of course—the best caffeine fix in town.

Trip Ideas sky outdoor Town residential area neighbourhood City human settlement suburb house vacation estate cityscape Village aerial photography

Montpelier, Vermont

If you make the trip to Vermont—the maple syrup capital of the United States— and you don’t leave with a stash of the homemade treat, you’re doing something seriously wrong. To remedy this, start your Montpelier stay with a stop by Bragg Farm Sugar House , a family-run business that’s taught eight generations the secret to crafting perfect maple kettle corn, cookies, and candies. From there, it’s over to stylish creperie, The Skinny Pancake , to further indulge with sweet and savory options like the Pure and Simple, with Cabot butter, granulated sugar, local syrup, and the Sass-Squash, with butternut squash, VT chevre and apples, and organic spinach. Before you’re forced to leave the foothills of the Green Mountains, fit in one last food-fueled event. Swing by the Capital City Farmer’s Market so you can pick up farm-fresh produce that supports local growers.

Trip Ideas Nature rock outdoor water Waterfall rocky creek body of water stream wilderness watercourse River water feature rapid Forest wasserfall autumn woodland rainforest

Hudson, New York

Despite being just over two hours outside Manhattan, Hudson feels worlds away. As “Upstate’s Downtown,” the once sleepy, now trendy city is an amalgam of old-world architecture (Federal, Victorian, and Queen Anne), verdant countryside, and lively art and music scenes. If you’re visiting from the city, you have to make good on outdoor options with hikes through the hemlock-forested wilderness of Taconic State Park and Bash Bish Falls (just over the border in MA). When you need to refuel, mosey back into town for a meal in Wm Farmer & Sons ’ handsome, modern-meets-vintage dining room (akin to those you’d find in Brooklyn). Once you’ve stuffed your face with cast-iron burgers and smoked brisket on brioche, retire to Rivertown Lodge . Once a two-story movie theater, you’ll easily spot the stylish stay thanks to its enduring marquee. Inside, the aesthetic is just as pleasing as guest rooms are kitted out with custom-built furniture, white oak floors, brass bathroom faucets, and Americana-style accents.

RELATED : America’s 8 Cutest Airbnbs to Check Into This Spring

Trip Ideas sky outdoor tree water Nature habitat pond River cloud reflection body of water natural environment Lake loch landscape reservoir rural area wetland meteorological phenomenon waterway marsh surrounded traveling

Frenchtown, New Jersey

Just a 1.5-hour drive from both NYC and Philly, Frenchtown presents an easy weekend getaway that rivals trips to the Poconos and Hudson Valley. Given its size (tiny), the Delaware River gem is shockingly rife with worthwhile restaurants and boutique shops that run the gamut from home decor to fine jewelry. Since you can’t shop on an empty stomach, make a pit stop at the Lovin’ Oven , a farm-to-table eatery that calls a converted manufacturing warehouse home. On Wednesday’s, they serve a three-course “Welcome Home” dinner full of comfort foods (both traditional and modified) like fish and chips, Nashville fried chicken, and vegan sloppy joes. Post-meal, it's time to peruse eclectic titles at The Book Garden . The indie shop sets up its shelves inside a 19th-century Victorian home on Bridge Street. Pro-tip: if you're looking for a cookbook, head straight for the kitchen.

Trip Ideas floor indoor Living room property furniture window Fireplace living room estate ceiling home rug house interior design mansion real estate cottage dining room Suite area decorated cluttered

Bristol, Rhode Island

Bestowed with the nickname “America’s Most Patriotic Town,” colonial-era Bristol has been proudly hosting the oldest, continuous Fourth of July celebration in the US since they threw their first shindig in 1777. Today, the annual affair includes outdoor concerts, soapbox races, an elaborate parade down Hope Street , and more, but you’ll still find plenty to see and do should your visit fall outside of July. Historical sites are a dime a dozen in this neck of the woods. Spend an afternoon at the Blithewold Mansion, Gardens, and Arboretum a 45-room, heirloom-filled estate that sits on 33 garden-framed acres overlooking Narragansett Bay, and plan time for a visit to Linden Place , as well. If the historic house museum has you feeling some sort of déjà vu, it’s likely you saw its on-screen debut in Robert Redford and Mia Farrow’s The Great Gatsby .

RELATED : 7 U.S. Cities That Are Hipper Than You Think

Trip Ideas water Boat outdoor sky scene Harbor reflection marina dock vehicle Lake Sea boating River bay docked waterway shore several day tied

Mystic, Connecticut

This destination may no longer be under wraps, but the maritime village of Mystic is still a top-notch option for those looking to relax in the Northeast. Nearly equidistance between NYC and Boston, the quaint community is brimming with B&Bs, seaside restaurants, and a world-class aquarium. Drop your bags at Spicer Mansion , a romantic, clapboard inn with only eight lavish guest rooms (think: high ceilings, four-poster beds, and antique-inspired furnishings). From there, it’s time to explore the historic downtown for small mom-and-pop shops and a slice of surprisingly good pizza from the one and only Mystic Pizza (be prepared for lots of Julia Roberts kitsch).

Explore More: See hotel details | See all Mystic, CT hotels

Trip Ideas outdoor tree sky grass building tower château season rural area castle flower

Castine, Maine

In midcoast Maine, on a peninsula in Penobscot Bay, you’ll find one of the state’s oldest communities: Castine. Rich in seafaring tradition, the harbor town is home to the Maine Maritime Academy, and, perhaps, it’s most easily recognizable feature, the stone Dice Head Light. For classic Maine accommodations, the seaside Pentagoet Inn has you covered. The three-story, turreted Queen Anne Victorian is all about old-fashioned details: vintage lithographs, period antiques, clawfoot tubs, and intricately carved headboards—and its location is ideal, putting you within reach of countless art galleries, flea markets, seasonal fairs, and more. Just a minute down the block, MarKel’s Bakehouse is a must when it comes time to snack. Cinnamon buns, sweet breads, scones, and to-go sandwiches all vie for attention, but once you’ve picked something sweet, retreat back to the inn to relax on the wraparound porch where wicker rockers afford guests stunning views of the bay.

What to Wear in the Northeast

Women’s outfit to wear in the hamptons, shop the look.

northern us cities to visit

Longwear Foundation

northern us cities to visit

Canvas Wedge Espadrilles

Men’s picnic date outfit.

northern us cities to visit

Denim Shorts

northern us cities to visit

Polarized Aviators

northern us cities to visit


northern us cities to visit

Large Waterproof Picnic Blanket

Women’s classic shorts outfit to wear to florida.

northern us cities to visit

Air Ruched Blouse

northern us cities to visit

Belted City Shorts

northern us cities to visit

Iridescent Headband

northern us cities to visit

3 Chain Earrings

northern us cities to visit

Cozy Adventure in the US Outfit for Men

northern us cities to visit

Fleece Pullover

northern us cities to visit

Slim Fit Shorts

northern us cities to visit

Baseball Cap

northern us cities to visit

Skateboarding Shoes

Women’s swimsuit for international beaches in the fall.

northern us cities to visit

One-piece Swimsuit

northern us cities to visit

Babo Botanicals SPF 30 Clear Zinc Lotion

northern us cities to visit

Baltic Bracelet

northern us cities to visit

Heart Sarong

Men’s stylish swimming outfit to wear in florida.

northern us cities to visit

Swim Trunks

northern us cities to visit

Striped Shirt

northern us cities to visit

Leather Fanny Pack

northern us cities to visit

Women’s Chill Romper Outfit for a Getaway from DC

northern us cities to visit

Cutout Hoops

northern us cities to visit

Long Sleeve Romper

northern us cities to visit

Bandana Headband

northern us cities to visit

Chuck Taylor®

Men’s day outfit for the east coast.

northern us cities to visit

Elastic Shorts

northern us cities to visit

Swingarm Sunglasses

northern us cities to visit

Q Explorist Smartwatch

northern us cities to visit

  • 18 Stylish Women’s Sneakers for Travel
  • 8 Secluded Beaches You Can Escape To This Summer
  • The Best Weekender Bags Out There Now

All products are independently selected by our writers and editors. If you buy something through our links, Jetsetter may earn an affiliate commission.

Become a Jetsetter.

Use our insider connections to know where to go and what to do.

Thanks for Signing Up!

Related Tags

Explore more.

Aerial view of Jewel Grande Montego Bay

9 Affordable Last-Minute Spring Getaways

art festival festive fun glow halloween holiday lights night night lights parade pumpkins sculpture Trip Ideas outdoor lamp light darkness lighting jack o lantern pumpkin evening

America’s Coolest Pumpkin Festivals

Boutique Modern living room shelf chair

Providence Biltmore, Curio Collection by Hilton

15 Places you need to visit in the Northeast U.S.

By: The Outbound Collective + Save to a List

northern us cities to visit

Though it’s easy to become entranced by popular attractions, the Northeastern U.S. is much more than the bright lights of New York City, the historic streets of Boston, or the popular national parks in Maine. Don’t get us wrong– these spots are widely known for a reason and deserve to be seen and explored. But, it’s worth knowing there are so many lesser known places to fall in love with in this region.  

From quaint towns, breathtaking foliage, nature trails, waterfalls, mountains, and beautiful bodies of water, the terrain and features of the Northeast are diverse. Take note of this list when planning your Northeast adventure and don’t overlook places that are off the beaten path!


1.  frank knowles-little river reserve.

northern us cities to visit

This serene wetland adventure features a 200-foot-long suspension bridge, an old farmhouse, and plenty of wooden boardwalks. There’s roughly 9 miles of hiking trails to meander!

2.  Menemsha Hills

northern us cities to visit

You’ll be rewarded by stunning ocean views and the Elizabeth Islands in the distance on this vineyard hike. The seaside cliffs are breathtaking and you can take in this popular summer destination island from a whole new vantage point atop the hills.

3.  Nick’s Lake

northern us cities to visit

This family-friendly hike is located in the central Adirondacks by the town of Old Forge. On this relatively flat 6.2-mile trail, you’ll catch glimpses of the peaceful waters of Nick's Lake. A campground on the property offers a beach, bathrooms, and kayak rentals if you decide to stay the night or longer.

4.  Pillsbury Mountain

northern us cities to visit

This 3.3-mile up-and-back adventure leads to panoramic views of the surrounding mountain ranges and lakes from the top of a fire tower and a ranger station that is no longer in-use. If you're into fire towers, consider doing the Adirondack Fire Tower Hiking Challenge and checking this tower off your list!

5.  Carpenter and Angel Falls

northern us cities to visit

Take yourself to the middle of a serene natural oasis on this three-mile loop! Carpenter Falls is roughly 95-feet tall, making for an impressive and photo-worthy sight. The rocks can be slippery, so be extra careful and use the ropes to assist with climbing.


6.  chauncey peak.

northern us cities to visit

A 2.2-mile loop hike has endless views of the Giuffrida Park and town of Meridan below while at the top! Note that some of the trail markers aren’t very clear and there are a few unmarked trails. Be sure to be prepared with a trail map or proper gpx route. Download the Outbound App  to download offline maps to ensure you're on the right track!

7.  Sleeping Giant State Park

northern us cities to visit

This three-mile out-and-back hike features charming wooded areas, a stone tower, and sweeping vistas. When you reach the top, be sure to explore different overlooks. On clear days, you can see all the way to the Long Island Sound. Find a private spot and sit down to take a rest or enjoy lunch with friends. This is also a great place for bouldering.

8.  Moss Glen Falls

northern us cities to visit

This beautiful waterfall is located right along the scenic Route 100 - just .1 miles off the road. There’s a large parking area, making it super easy to take a quick pitstop to enjoy and photograph the falls. Go during Autumn to experience the beautiful foliage in the area!

New Hampshire

9.  mt. moosilauke.

northern us cities to visit

Explore Benton State Forest while admiring the magnificent forest and mountain scenery along the way during this 7.1-mile loop hike. During the spring and summer, there are beautiful wildflowers along the way. There are several river crossings with bridges, and you can take dips to cool off during the hot summer months.

Rhode Island

10.  beavertail state park.

northern us cities to visit

On the island of Jamestown, soak in true New England coastal beauty at Beavertail State Park. Explore the secluded cove beaches and stay for sunrise or sunset for an especially memorable experience. This park (and its short, dirt trails) is the perfect alternative to overcrowded beaches. There are plenty of nooks to discover and marvel in at this beautiful island state park. Don't be tempted to jump off the cliffs into the water below as it's full of jagged, dangerous rocks. Instead, follow the paths that lead down the cliffs to the beaches where you can swim without the dangers of diving.

11.  Borestone Mountain

northern us cities to visit

This scenic 3.6-mile out-and-back trail is at the base of the 100 Mile Wilderness, part of the Appalachian Trail. Breathe in the fresh air and take in impressive views overlooking the surrounding mountains and lakes at the top. Colorful treetops in the autumn seem to go on forever. Note: there is an entry fee collected at the visitor center located one mile into the hike. Make sure to bring cash!

12.  Rocky Pond

northern us cities to visit

Immerse yourself in the remote mountains of Northern Maine while avoiding large crowds on this one-mile out-and-back hike.The mountain views from Rocky Pond are breathtaking! Be on the lookout for moose along the shorelines - they like to eat and drink here!

13.  The Cranberry Bogs at Double Tree State Park

northern us cities to visit

Before entering Double Trouble Park, you’ll pass by Double Trouble Historic Village, which features old schoolhouses, general stores, sawmills, and cottages dating back to the 1700s to 1900s. Stretch your legs by heading to the park to walk a 1.9-mile nearly flat loop trail through cranberry bogs and forest. Locals harvest tart, sweet cranberries here every year and you can purchase cranberry goods at the village shops.


14.  mill creek falls.

northern us cities to visit

Visiting this easily accessible waterfall is the perfect way to get a quick nature fix and enjoy the natural beauty of this photo-worthy spot. After enjoying the falls, take a two-mile loop hike through the woods to admire glimpses of the Susquehanna River.

15.  Rose Valley Lake

northern us cities to visit

Anglers should explore this pristine area in all seasons! The man-made lake is perfect for bass, bluegill, and perch fishing. For those who like spotting wildlife, there are opportunities to view plenty of birds like ducks, gulls, swans, hawks, and herons. Using a boat or kayak is the best way to explore and take in the full beauty of this stunning body of water.

Cover Photo: Tate Yoder

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Do you love the outdoors?

Yep, us too. That's why we send you the best local adventures, stories, and expert advice, right to your inbox.

northern us cities to visit

Cooking in the Southwest with the Gerber Gear ComplEAT Camp Cook Set

Tanner Price

northern us cities to visit

10 Things you need to do in Baja

wyld honeys

Ready for an unforgettable adventure in Baja, Mexico? We've rounded up the top 10 things you need to do while you're there. From visiting the famed boojum trees in Cataviña to exploring secluded waterfalls, there's something for everyone. by: wyld honeys

northern us cities to visit

Journey to Wyoming’s premier snowmobiling destination: Togwotee Mountain Lodge

Samuel Brockway

A couple of snowmobiling newbies hop aboard some steel horse sleds to explore the mountains of Wyoming.

northern us cities to visit

Hiking in comfort: a review of Danner Mountain 600 Evo boots

Meghan White

Picture this: a crisp morning in San Diego, the sun peeking over the horizon, casting a warm glow over Oak Canyon in Mission Trails Regional Park.

northern us cities to visit

A peek through God's window

Heather Arnold

There is something about the promise of a warm sunrise and the open road. I answer the call of the mountains. And find peace and calm. And a healthy dose of waffles and walks!

  • Local Adventures
  • Tours and trips
  • Camping Nearby
  • Outbound PRO Membership
  • Add your property

Mobile Apps

App Store

© 2024 The Outbound Collective - Terms of Use - Privacy Policy

Rocky Mountain Destinations

Warm-Weather Road Trip

The Longest Highway in the US

Car Rental Companies

Best Audio Books

Must-Have Emergency Supplies

Family Road Trip Toys and Games

Car Bike Racks

Getting Your Car Ready

Preparing for the Weather

8 Helpful Apps for a Road Trip

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Taking a Road Trip With Kids

Planning a Solo Road Trip

How to Plan a Camping Road Trip

Planning a Stargazing Road Trip

10 Helpful Budget Tips

Calculating the Cost of Gas

Budget for a 3-Day Road Trip

Best Road Trip Route By Interest

Mississippi River Road Trip

Atlantic Coast Road Trip

Southern US Road Trip

Northern US Road Trip

Pacific Coast Road Trip

US Route 12

Northeastern US Routes

10 Top Road Trip Routes in the Northeastern US

northern us cities to visit

The United States abounds with scenic routes and picturesque drives , but the beauty of the Northeast offers landscapes you can't see anywhere else in the country. Chasing rivers and scaling mountains, they wind through the country's most adorable small towns and along its most storied coastline. As the East Coast is famous for its fiery autumn colors, many of these trips are especially striking during the fall . However, each season offers something uniquely enjoyable and you can enjoy these drives at any time of the year.

Read on to find inspiration for your next Northeast road trip.

Upper Delaware River Valley

If you've seen those car commercials that show a slick vehicle navigating a wildly undulating mountain road, there's a good chance it was State Route 97 in the Upper Delaware River Valley of Upstate New York. This twisting highway traces the Delaware River, which forms a natural border between New York State and Pennsylvania. The most famous part is a section known as the Hawk's Nest, which covers the 70 miles from Point Jervis to Hancock. It takes about an hour and a half to complete the route, so even though it isn't the fastest way to travel between the cities, it's undoubtedly the prettiest.

Apart from the stomach-churning turns and breathtaking views, travelers should also stop at landmarks along the route including the Minisink Battleground Park , which hosted a skirmish during the Revolutionary War, and Roebling's Delaware Aqueduct , a canal bridge and engineering marvel built in 1848.

Letchworth State Park

Letchworth State Park in Upstate New York has been nicknamed the "Grand Canyon of the East" for its dramatic gorge that drops 600 feet into the Genesee River below. The best place to get into the park is at the southern entrance in the town of Portageville, which is just over an hour from either Rochester or Buffalo . You can drive the length of the entire park and come out at the north end, which isn't even 20 miles long. But factor in plenty of time for pulling over, taking pictures, and hiking around the gorge. You'll see plenty of waterfalls during your trip through Letchworth, but if they leave you wanting more, Niagara Falls is just an hour and a half away by car.

The Adirondacks

TripSavvy / Lauren Breedlove

In the remote northeastern part of New York's Adirondack Park , there are 46 rounded peaks that soar roughly 4,000 feet or more toward the sky, but you don't need to hike them for glorious views. This scenic drive starts in North Creek, New York—about an hour and a half north of Albany. From North Creek, drive on Route 28N as it loops around through the forest and mountains. Once you reach Blue Mountain Lake, Route 28N turns into Route 28S, but continue weaving through the many charming lakes until you reach Old Forge. The entire route is nearly 90 miles and has plenty of opportunities for stopping the car and enjoying nature.

Along the way, allow time for a scenic Gondola Skyride at Gore Mountain. And don't miss the splendid Adirondack Experience, The Museum on Blue Mountain Lake , a sprawling complex that brings to life the people who've explored, settled, and cherished this wilderness. It's one of the top things to do in New York State .

The Vermont Shore

Yes, Vermont has a coast: a freshwater one along Lake Champlain. And the town of Shelburne—just a few miles south of Burlington —is a picturesque spot to start a drive that affords fabulous views of the lake and its majestic backdrop, the Adirondack Mountains across the border in New York.

Start at ​ Shelburne Farms , a 1,400-acre working farm built on Lake Champlain as a model agricultural estate in the late 19th century. Pick up Route 7 South to Mount Philo State Park  in Charlotte, where you can drive to the summit for panoramic lake views. Continue on Route 7 South to Route 22A through Vergennes and out to Button Bay State Park . Once there, you can hike along a bluff overlooking Lake Champlain or even rent a boat and get out on the water. Not including time out of the car, the drive should take just about an hour.

The Mohawk Trail

Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism

A path blazed by five Native American tribes became New England's first official scenic route in 1914. Automobiles have come a long way since then, but the 63-mile Mohawk Trail—Route 2 between Williamstown and Athol in Western Massachusetts —still leads to bucolic scenes that seem little altered over the past century. Famous for its sharp Hairpin Turn, which looks out over the Hoosac Valley, it's a drive you'll particularly want to savor in the fall . Allow time to hike a portion of the Mahican-Mohawk Trail that runs through the Mohawk Trail State Forest in Charlemont. It follows the original footpath trod by New England's earliest inhabitants.

The Kancamagus Highway

New England's ultimate scenic route—especially in the fall—is the 34.5 miles of Route 112 between Conway and Lincoln, New Hampshire. Known by its Native American name, the Kancamagus Highway (pronounced kank-ah-MAU-gus but called "the Kanc" by locals) was completed in 1959, connecting these towns on the east and west sides of the 800,000-acre White Mountain National Forest . There are overlooks, hiking opportunities, historic sites, and campgrounds along this famed roadway, but even if you just motor through (be prepared to ride your brakes when fall traffic peaks), you'll be thrilled by the views of densely forested mountains and the boulder-strewn Swift River.

Connecticut's National Scenic Byway

Think of this as your "serenity now" route. Connecticut's first National Scenic Byway—Route 169 from North Woodstock to Lisbon—is a supreme leaf-peeping route that glides for 30 miles past farmlands, stone walls, and nearly 200 homes built before the Civil War. Worthy stops on your trip include Historic New England's Roseland Cottage in Woodstock, Mashamoquet Brook State Park in Pomfret for lore and hiking, and Martha's Herbary in Pomfret for aromatic gifts. Time your drive to coincide with the Brooklyn Fair , the oldest continuously-held agricultural fair in the U.S., which takes place in late August each year.

Narragansett Bay

Kim Knox Beckius

Set your GPS for 1460 Ocean Road, Narragansett, Rhode Island, and begin this road trip at one of New England's prettiest lighthouses: Point Judith Lighthouse . Although you can't venture inside, you can stroll the grounds of this still-active beacon built in 1857. From here, you'll follow Ocean Road north to Narragansett Town Beach , where surfers ride vigorous waves year-round. The Towers —all that remains of the Gilded Age Narragansett Pier Casino—provide an enchanting backdrop. Drive Route 1A North, and you'll pass Historic New England's Casey Farm , established in 1750 and still operating and open for tours.

From there, take Route 138 East across the Jamestown Bridge, exit onto Conanicut Island, and follow local roads south to Beavertail State Park on Beavertail Road. Here, you'll see the 1856 stone Beavertail Lighthouse and you can venture inside the museum in the assistant keeper's house. Look east, and you'll bring your lighthouse count up to three: Castle Hill Light is visible in the distance.

Massachusetts' Coastline

If you're a fan of fried clams, lobster, and fresh fish, this is the road trip for you. It starts in Gloucester, Massachusetts —the oldest seaport in the U.S.—and follows Route 127A to Route 127 along the coast north of Boston . It then turns inland toward Essex on Route 133 and north once again on Route 1 to Newburyport . Along the way, you'll see Gloucester's Good Harbor Beach, one of the prettiest in New England, and the petite fishing village of Rockport, where the art scene thrives.

You'll be distracted at practically every turn by seafood shacks, but you may want to save your appetite for Essex, where fried clams were invented by Chubby Woodman. His descendants still prepare them the same way at Woodman's of Essex , and some say the golden beauties at The Clam Box up the road in Ipswich are even better, so you'll want to try both. If you're still hungry when you reach Newburyport, finish with a scenic drive along Plum Island, stopping at the no-frills but delicious Bob Lobster on the way. The entire drive is about 45 miles.

Acadia's Park Loop Road Images

The 27-mile Park Loop Road through Maine's Acadia National Park is as exhilarating a drive as you'll find anywhere. Even though it's not a long route, expect to spend at least three to four hours driving, including stops to get out and enjoy the scenery (it can be even longer during the busy summer months due to traffic). The Atlantic waves crashing against the forests make for a truly dramatic landscape, made all the better by the towering Cadillac Mountain—and you can drive to the summit. This national park does charge an entrance fee, but your admission is good for seven days of visits, so make the most of your visit by staying nearby or even camping in the park.

The Mohawk Trail Association. "More Than a Trail... A Journey." Accessed September 11, 2022.

Best Fall Foliage Drives in the New England States

15 Epic Fall Foliage Drives With Kids

20 Best Things to Do in Vermont

The Best Places to See Fall Colors Near Boston

Acadia National Park: The Complete Guide

The Ultimate East Coast Beach Road Trip

Guide to an Atlantic Coast Road Trip

New York Fall Foliage Driving Tours

Glacier National Park: The Complete Guide

Top 5 Scenic New England Mountain Drives

Scenic California Drives: 7 Routes That Will Make You Swoon

The 28 Best Day Trips From Seattle

The 13 Best Day Trips from Boston

New Hampshire's Kancamagus Highway: The Complete Guide

Science Says This Is the Perfect U.S. Road Trip

15 Los Angeles-Area Road Trips and Getaways

Inspire Your Trip Logo

Inspire Your Trip

Top 10 Places to Visit in Northern USA

Niagara Falls

Northern USA is steeped in American history and the scenery is pretty sweet too.

Take an almighty sweep from ocean to ocean taking in the likes of that little city, we like to call New York, a rock face with past American presidents peering out at you, and some of the best national parks the USA has to offer.

We’ve collated our list of the 10 best places to visit in the northern states of America, perfect if you want to take an epic road trip!

1. Niagara Falls

One of the most spectacular sights the world, Niagara Falls borders both America and Canada and the falls together form the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world. Whilst on the American side of the falls make sure you grab your camera and head over to the Observation Tower and see the dramatic falls as close as possible, then take the elevator down to the base of the gorge and jump on the Maid of the Mist and prepare to get a little wet. This is one of the places not to miss in Canada or north eastern USA.

Ohio is home to one of the best amusement parks in the world, Cedar Point. Consisting of a whopping 364 acres, Cedar Point is full to the brim with fun and excitement. Whatever you do, make sure you take a ride on Millennium Force, the greatest roller coaster on the planet. Also known as the ‘buckeye state’, Ohio gives anyone who visits a taste of authentic America. Surrounded by beautiful lakes, you won’t be disappointed when you stop off in Ohio.

3. Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

The sculpture of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln is an iconic landmark, which you probably recognise from the 2004 film, Team America: World Police, which we have all seen and secretly love. But despite being the HQ for a bunch of puppets, Mount Rushmore offers something for everyone, from outdoor adventure, to American history and an array of beautiful wildlife.

northern us cities to visit

The ‘Windy City, as it is commonly known is bustling with activities all year round; ice-skating in Millennium Park’, sightseeing in Lincoln Park Zoo and for all the shopaholics out there, a spot of shopping along Magnificent Mile. Chicago is also home to some world class museums and if you’re hitting Route 66, this is the place to start. For amazing city views head on up to the Skydeck, located on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower (the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere) and soak in some unparalleled views of Chicago and four of its neighbouring states.


The home of the Space Needle has spent the last month celebrating their win in this year’s SuperBowl. Seattle is one of those cities that has it all, a thriving city on the edge of pristine wilderness and an array of different activities to suit any traveller. There are lots of fun things to do in Seattle , take a sip of coffee in the original Starbucks or head over to world’s tallest indoor climbing wall, whatever takes your fancy.

6. Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

The Badlands National Park is a geology lover’s paradise and attracts thousands of people from all over the world. Ancient mammals, such as the saber-toothed cat used to roam these parts, but now you will find that Badlands National Park is now home to bison, bighorn sheep and prairie dogs. Be sure to stop off at Wall-Drug, the famous drug store in a little town called Wall, it’s so big, it comes with a map.

7. Minnesota

Minnesota is home to some of the most stunning scenery in North America, from lush green forests to sparkling blue lakes. It is most famous for being the start of the Mississippi River, that makes its way through Minnesota, flowing south, down to the Gulf of Mexico. Legend has it that if you walk across the source of the Mississippi River you will be blessed with a long and happy life, that’s reason enough for us to hop off in “land of sky-tinted water”.

8. Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

A trek through Glacier National Park will leave you feeling both amazed and truly humbled. If you love to star-gaze then this is the place to be. Some Coast to Coast tours spends two days in this breath-taking National Park, giving you plenty of time to explore the alpine meadows and shimmering glacial lakes. Keep an eye out for some of the wildlife that make this National Park their home, from wolverines (not the superhero kind), to mountain goats that look weirdly like wise old men, once you spot one, you’ll know what I’m talking about, honest!

9. New York City

NYC skyline

New York, New York, so good that they named it twice. NYC is definitely one of the best places to visit if it is your first time in the USA , walk in the shadows of the Manhattan skyline, then cross the Brooklyn Bridge and explore the vibrant streets of Brooklyn. There is a reason that place is the world’s most photographed city (according to Google Maps), it’s simply awesome! View more tips for what to do in New York .

10. Yellowstone National Park

northern us cities to visit

One of the world’s most famous and spectacular National Parks, a melting pot of wildlife, from bison, to bears, to wolves, this place is incredible. Yellowstone National Park is left to grow wild and you get to see all this wonderful wildlife in the most natural of habitats. From colourful meadows, canyons and waterfalls to geothermal volcanic pools and glaciated rocky spires, you will almost feel like you have landed on another planet. This is one of the best national parks in the USA .

So, there you have it, northern USA sounds pretty awesome doesn’t it? Where are you most looking forward to visiting?

Share this:

  • Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
  • Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)
  • Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)
  • Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)
  • Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)
  • Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)
  • Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)

Recommended Articles

Solo travel myths

Backpacking Checklist: What Do You Need Before You Travel?

Best world adventures

50 Best Travel Adventures in the World!

Barcelona Gothic Quarter Square Tourists

5 Best Hotels in the Gothic Quarter Area of Barcelona

Privacy Policy

San Francisco as seen from Lombard Street on a California road trip

30 of the Best Cities in North America to Visit

North America is such a diverse continent, and there’s so much to see and do. What to explore first? We started with chasing waterfalls in North America , now we’re exploring the best cities in North America to visit. I’ve asked my fellow travel bloggers what their favorite cities in North America are, and they came up with a lot of beautiful cities worth your time. All these cities in Canada, the US, Mexico and Cuba deserve to be on your itinerary when you visit these countries. Cities are also perfect stops on road trips , and North America is the ultimate place for road trips.

Best Cities in North America

First we turn our attention to Canada, then Mexico, Cuba and at last the US.

Ottawa, Ontario

Parliament Hill at Ottawa, with people in front of it, admiring the building

Contributed by Cosette from KarsTravels.

The capital of Canada is a beautiful city. Which is in the North of Ontario, on the border with Québec. It’s at the beginning of a Toronto to Halifax Road Trip .

In the city center visit Parliament Hill, the Parliament’s library, Liberty Bell and the Notre-Dame Basilica. From the end of June till end of August you can witness the changing of the guards at Parliament Hill. The Notre-Dame is the oldest church in Ottawa, it was built in 1847. Each year in May the Tulip Festival is celebrated, since 1953. Tulips are all over the city for 2 weeks. Take a self-guided Ottawa walking tour to see all the beautiful things Ottawa has to offer.

Make your way to the Rideau Canal and the Rideau Falls. The Rideau Canal is 202 meters long, from lake Ontario to the Ottawa River. Admire the 8 locks from Plaza Bridge still mended by hand, it’s a sight to see. In January and February there’s an 8 kilometer long ice skating rink on the canal. The Rideau Falls are a bit closer to the Ottawa River than the locks and beautiful to see.

Toronto, Ontario

Toronto by Diary of a Detour. in front lit up fountains (small), behind the letters Toronto lit up. Behind some high rise buildings. In the evening

One of the best cities in North America is Toronto.  It is a vibrant, cosmopolitan place with so much to see and do there. 

Let’s start with the CN Tower, which is the tallest free-standing structure in the western hemisphere.  It can be seen from miles around and no trip to Toronto is complete without visiting the Lookout Level.  From there you get breath-taking 360-degree views of the city and beyond.

You can eat in the revolving restaurant and if you want the ultimate experience then test your nerves on the Edge Walk. You’re securely attached to the tower but get to lean right over the edge!  It’s worth it just for the photos alone, and the memory of doing something really unique and exhilarating.

Right next door to the CN Tower is Ripley’s Aquarium, home to some amazing sea creatures.  You can walk through a tunnel with sharks, rays and other fish swimming all around you.  It’s an amazing immersive experience and one of the top attractions in Toronto.

If you’re feeling peckish then take a walk to St Lawrence Market where you can choose from a vast array of fresh produce including meat, fruit, vegetables and sweet treats.

Summers can be incredibly warm, and winters biting cold.  There’s a network of underground tunnels in the downtown district with shops and restaurants, which link to the subway system.

If you’re a fan of street art then check out Graffiti Alley which is between the Fashion District and Chinatown.  It covers two or three blocks and features some great murals by some top international artists. Toronto is the perfect base for a memorable adventure, just a short hop from New York and close enough to Niagara to visit on a day trip.

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario

Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario by In Search of Sarah, with the Prince of Wales Hotel on a corner, a street in front of it

Contributed by Sarah from In Search of Sarah.

A visit to Niagara-on-the-Lake is like taking a trip back in time, with its Victorian-era architecture, flower-filled, tree-lined streets, horse drawn carriages, and bursts with small-town charm. 

Just 90 minutes from Toronto and only 20 from Niagara Falls and sitting at the mouth of the Niagara River, you’ll be trading high-rises and casinos for adorable BnBs, boutique shops, award-winning restaurants, and of course, wineries!

With close to 30 wineries right in Niagara-on-the-Lake, there’s no shortage of activities to partake in to enjoy them, whether it’s wine and cellar tours, food and wine pairings, bike tours, picnics in the vineyards, weddings, and much more! You can easily spend an entire weekend touring these diverse wineries, during any season!

Of course, there is an abundance of activities aside from wineries to enjoy in this lovely town. With numerous waterfront parks, historic places of interest (including haunted Fort George ), art galleries, coffee shops, gelaterias and a performing arts theatre to enjoy, walking down these streets will soothe your soul. You can even go for High Tea at the famous Prince of Wales Hotel and relax at one of the many spas afterwards. 

Tip: Come and enjoy Niagara-on-the-Lake during the fall or winter, where you’ll be able to enjoy all this beautiful place has to offer without the crowds. 

Vancouver, British Columbia

Stanley Park seawall Vancouver by Groovy Mashed Potatoes, the sea, with in front some beach and rocks, on the left cliffs with trees

Contributed by Cecily from Groovy Mashed Potatoes.

Vancouver is a buzzing city on Canada’s west coast known for its stunning nature, fun outdoor activities and burgeoning food scene. What makes the cosmopolitan city so unique is its access to the wilderness. It’s surrounded by the North Shore Mountains and Pacific Ocean, making it one of Canada’s most beautiful cities. There are so many fun things to add to your  Vancouver itinerary . If it’s a sunny day, have a picnic at one of the city’s picturesque beaches. For quiet beaches, visit Jericho Beach or Locarno Beach. For lively beaches check out Kits Beach or English Bay. In the afternoon take a bike ride around the seawall of Stanley Park, Canada’s most famous park. It’s larger than Central Park in NYC. You will have scenic views of the Pacific Ocean, Siwash Rock and West Vancouver along the way. If it’s a rainy day, go boutique shopping in the historic Gastown neighbourhood or visit Granville Island, known for its markets, shops and breweries. For dinner, eat Pacific-Northwest cuisine at Blue Water or Botanist, both known for their seafood specialties. Afterwards, finish off your evening with cocktails at Reflections, a rooftop lounge located in the roaring 20s luxury hotel, Hotel Georgia.

Edmonton, Alberta

Space themed room Fantasyland Hotel at Edmonton by Fun World Facts, a hotel room in Space theme, with neds and a bunk bed, with a girl and boy on the beds

Contributed by Nick from Fun World Facts.

Edmonton, the provincial capital of Alberta, is a surprisingly rewarding destination in Western Canada, especially for visitors with kids. You may be surprised to see a suggestion for a mall here, but West Edmonton Mall is like no other.

Once the largest in the world, WEM houses a long list of awesome attractions: the largest indoor amusement park and waterpark in Canada, an ice skating palace, a lake with a replica of Christopher Columbus’ Santa Maria ship, an IMAX theatre, go-karts, mini golf, a whole lot of shops, a Chinatown, a European boulevard, and a New Orleans street with bars & restaurants. Last but not least, you can spend the night in the attached Fantasyland Hotel. The hotel’s quirkily themed rooms include an awesome Space Room that is really out of this world!

Just in case you don’t want to spend your entire holiday at the mall, Edmonton has some great outdoorsy sights as well. The city boasts the largest urban green space in North America, the Edmonton River Valley (according to this list of  facts about Edmonton , it is larger than all of Manhattan in New York!) Just outside of Edmonton, Elk Island National Park offers the chance to see plains bison, an animal that once almost went extinct; you’re practically guaranteed to see them.  

One final reason to visit Edmonton, particularly in summer, is to take in a few festivals that the city is famous for. These include the Edmonton International Fringe Festival (the largest one in the world after Edinburgh!), Edmonton Folk Music Festival, Heritage Days, and Cariwest, a Caribbean festival and parade.

Montréal, Québec

Montreal by Walk a While with Me, a skyline overview from a higher building

Contributed by Mia from Walk a While with Me.

While North America is filled with incredible cities, one of the best Canadian cities to visit is undoubtedly Montreal.

One of the most historically significant cities in Canada, it features charming architecture in Old Montreal, lively nightlife in downtown Montreal, and stunning views from Mount Royal. Needless to say, there are a lot of incredible things to do in Montreal!

Montreal is located between Ottawa and Quebec City, and sits on the Saint Lawrence River. A city with a vast history (in Canadian standards), Montreal was founded in 1642 and acted as a fur-trading center.

Today, you can admire Montreal’s history at the Notre-Dame Basilica, Old Port of Montreal, and Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal. With all of this gothic-inspired architecture, Montreal is a great way to experience some of Europe in North America!

But that’s not all there is to add to your itinerary. On top of everything listed before, you can also explore the Jean Talon Market, go museum-hopping, or take a self-guided Montreal walking tour. 

Overall, Montreal isn’t a city you should miss when visiting North America!

Québec City, Québec

Canons at Quebec City, several in a row, Paul behind the first one

The most European looking city in Canada should be on anyone’s itinerary, since it’s such a quaint city. It’s the capital of the province of Québec.

Old Québec is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s walkable and safe,  and best explored on foot. Stroll in the cobblestone streets in the only fortified city north of Mexico. It’s the perfect place to soak yourself in the French Canadian culture. The fortified walls are 400 years old, walk on them and visit the four gates. Old Québec has charming little streets and local shops. Don’t miss out on Rue du Petit-Champlain. This pedestrian street is charming with its fine bistros, art galleries, local shops and enchanting ambiance.

Admire the most photographed hotel in the world and Québec City’s most famous landmark: Château Frontenac. Visit the Citadelle de Québec. A British fortress, the largest in North America, on the famous Cap Diamant. There’s a military museum inside.

Close to Québec City are the Montmorency Falls, which are 30 meters higher than Niagara Falls.

Mexico City

Mexico City Anthropology-Museum by Travel Mexico Solo, behind scrubs and trees is an old building, the museum

Contributed by Shelley from Travel Mexico Solo.

As the largest city in North America, and one of the biggest in the world, those who love the excitement of a big city will love  Mexico City . There are so many amazing things to do you could spend a week or a month exploring and never run out of sites to see. If you love history, Mexico City has that. Within the city, there’s the Templo Mayor, which is an Aztec temple that’s actually buried underground — though it has been excavated, so you can visit. If you love ruins, the Teotihuacan Ruins, located about an hour outside of the city, are some of the best prehispanic ruins in Mexico. 

For lovers of museums, Mexico City has about 150 of them to choose from! In fact, it is one of the Top 10 cities for having the most museums. For art, there’s the Frida Kahlo Museum (AKA Casa Azul), and for history buffs, the Mexico City Anthropology Museum is world class.

Beyond all this — there’s also lots and lots of tacos! If you’re not someone who likes tacos, you still have plenty of options for amazing food in Mexico City, like tortas (sandwiches), tamales, chilaquiles, and churros.

Tulum, Quintana Roo

Tulum Ruins by Travel To Merida, the seato the right, with a ruin on top of rocks with grass on the left

Contributed by Shelley from Travel To Merida.

Tulum is one of the  best Yucatan beaches  in Mexico. Located right on the Caribbean Sea, Tulum has become one of the top Mexico travel destinations in the last decade or so — and for good reason!

There are so many things to do in the Mexican beach town of Tulum. While it is well known as a party town, and it certainly does have that side, there’s also plenty to do during the day.

For visitors who want to see Mayan ruins, the Tulum Ruins are located right in town on the beach in the Tulum Archaeological Zone. There’s also the Coba Ruins and Ek-Balam Ruins, both located about an hour from town. Besides its beautiful white-sand beaches and blue waters in the Caribbean Sea, Tulum has other amazing places to swim and soak up the sun. Located throughout the Yucatan Peninsula and Tulum, there are the cenotes, which are natural pools in the jungle, that make a nice alternative to the beach. There’s also Sian Ka’an, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, which is best explored by boat. On the water, you’ll likely see dolphins, as well as turtles, and many types of birds. Located within the biosphere, there’s also the off the beaten path Muyil Mayan Ruins. In short, Tulum has something for everyone — and you won’t want to miss this unique Mexico beach town.

San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas

Cascades El Chiflon by Zoe Goes Places, a waterfall in the middle of the picture thundering down between lush green forest. A path is visible on the down right towards a viewpoint

Contributed by Zoe from Zoe Goes Places.

San Cristobal de las Casas is a beautiful city in the mountains, located in Mexico’s southern state of Chiapas. The city is the playground of many outdoor types, with some of Mexico’s best natural attractions right on the doorstep of San Cristobal. On the outskirts of the city, there are a few eco-parks – such as El Arcotete and Grutas de Rancho Nuevo – with hiking trails, zip lines and caves to explore. The entrance to these parks is cheap and they’re easily reached by public transport. But, just outside of the city is where the real magic begins!

To the west of San Cristobal is the stunning Sumidero Canyon. This 8-mile long and up to 1000-metres deep canyon is surrounded by dense greenery. And, the canyon itself is home to a host of wildlife including a large group of crocodiles that are regularly seen on the river banks. Plus, to truly top off your visit, there are also 3 viewpoints along the top of the canyon’s walls to give you a bird’s eye view of this incredible landscape!

However, the top attraction near San Cristobal has got to be the  Cascadas El Chiflon waterfall park . With 5 main waterfalls along a 1200-metre stretch of river, as well as zip lines and a swimming area, there is plenty to do on a day trip to the park. But, the creme de la creme of El Chiflon has to be Cascada Velo de Novia, a 120-metre high waterfall, which has its own viewing platform for a simply spectacular experience. You can’t afford to miss out!

Cancún, Quintana Roo

Cancun by Venaugh, the ocean with a part of th beach and hotels on the beach

Contributed by Venaugh from Venaugh.

I’m sure we’ve all heard how beautiful the beaches in Mexico are and I thought it was just a hype but after having visited Cancun, I have fallen in love! The view from the hotel was all that I needed to happily sit and enjoy the tranquility.

On top of this, there are lots of activities around to do, albeit a bit of a drive away. Cancun is in the southeast of Mexico on the Yucatan peninsula and easily  one of the best cities in Mexico . There are some gorgeous islands off the mainland where you can take day trips to, such as Cozumel and Isla Holbox. During July to September there is also the whale shark migration where you can swim with the sharks which was an absolutely incredible experience, not to mention, no risk of being eaten since they only eat small fish, shrimp, and plankton. About an hour and a half away are the gorgeous cenotes which are breath taking. Cancun is definitely worth all the hype.

Havana, La Habana

Havana by Home to Havana, old buildings in different colors, in front a street with some cars, a riksja and people all around

Contributed by Carley from Home to Havana.

Unlike any other city in North America, Cuba’s capital city of Havana is a Spanish colonial gem filled with history and beauty more than enough to land a spot on any traveler’s bucket list. Plus, just a short ride away from some of the Caribbean’s most beautiful beaches, Havana has something to offer for every kind of traveler.

While Cuba used to be off limits to travelers from the United States, new regulations make it much easier to visit independently. However, make sure you don’t head to Cuba without booking  travel insurance for Cuba  first – it’s a requirement for all travelers, and can be difficult to find an insurance policy to cover you, especially if you’re from the United States or Canada.

Visitors will want to spend their time exploring the beautiful and historic neighborhood of Old Havana, filled with historic buildings from colonial times up through the early 20 th  century, and of course, the classic American cars that fill the streets. The sites most worth a visit surround the four historic plazas in Old Havana: Plaza Vieja, Plaza de San Francisco, Plaza de Armas, Plaza de la Catedral. Visitors can easily make a self-guided walking tour of Old Havana around and between these four plazas to see much of the beauty and history that Havana has to offer.   

San Diego, California

San Diego Harbor, in front small yachts, in the back houses against a hill

A sunny city in the South of California near the border with Mexico. It’s an important harbor and navy city in the USA. It was the end of our California Road Trip .

Famous sites to visit in San Diego are SeaWorld, San Diego Zoo and Balbao Park. SeaWorld is a theme park combined with an aquarium. San Diego Zoo is one of the largest in the world. In Balbao Park you’ll find the San Diego Zoo, but also several museums.

If you’re a history fan than don’t skip Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, San Diego Mormon Battalion Historic Site and the USS Midway Museum. In the Old Town former Mexican times come to life. The USS Midway Museum is a maritime museum on the Midway, an aircraft carrier, that was used for years. It’s at the Navy Pier. The historic site is situated in Old San Diego and tells all about the Mormon Battalion that joined the American army.

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Virginia Beach Oceanfront by Wander With Alex, most of the picture is beach, with ocean at the right and hotels on the left

Contributed by Alex from Wander With Alex.

Virginia Beach is in  Coastal Virginia  along the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay. Did you know that Virginia Beach holds the Guinness World Record for the longest pleasure beach in the world coming in at 35 miles?! But Virginia Beach isn’t just for beach lovers. From hiking and camping to adventure parks and art districts, Virginia Beach is a must-visit for solo travelers or the whole family.

If you’re visiting Virginia Beach for a beach vacation, you’ll want to come between May and September. You can spend the day on the sand, bike the boardwalk, fish off the pier, head over to the Atlantic Fun Park, or snap an Instagram worthy photo with King Neptune! You can take a charter boat out for a little fishing or dolphin watching too.

If you’re an art lover, you must check out the ViBE Creative District. This art district features paintings by local artists which can be found on buildings, curbs, and parking meters. The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) is another fabulous option and has free admission!

First Landing State Park is Virginia’s most visited state park. Head over to 64 th  street and go kayaking on the beautiful Chesapeake Bay.

When you’re done playing on the water, take the kids over to the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center and learn about the area’s marine life. While you’re there, don’t forget to check out the Adventure Park and go ziplining!

Of course you must have seafood! Native to the Chesapeake Bay, our blue crabs are plentiful and make for amazing soft shell crab sandwiches which can be found at many restaurants when in season. Local restaurants you’ll want to visit include Waterman’s Surfside Grill, Rudee’s Restaurant and Cabana Bar, and Chic’s Oyster Bar!

New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans, houses different colors

Contributed by Mary from Bucket List Places.

They say America is a melting pot, but the biggest melting pot in the USA is New Orleans, a bucket list place defined by the many cultures who influenced its history. This unique city is a must-visit for its Cajun-Creole food, jazz music, beautiful bayou environments, and historical sites of significance.

New Orleans is beautiful any time of year, but the city is known for the incredible Mardi Gras celebrations which transform the French Quarter into a giant parade, costume party, and bar crawl all rolled into one. Even outside of the Mardi Gras celebrations in February or March, Bourbon Street in the French Quarter is often bustling with activity, live music, and tourists.

For a bit more tranquility, head to 1,300 acre City Park, one of the largest urban parks in the country. Besides the slew of recreational activities, you can ogle oak trees which are over 800 years old, seek out over 280 bird species, and even visit the New Orleans Botanical Garden and New Orleans Museum of Art.

To learn more about New Orleans’ storied past and ecological intrigue, you can join a ghost tour or swamp tour – keep your eyes peeled for gators!

Even getting to the Big Easy is easy; the cheapest bus ticket from Baton Rouge is only $7.99, which leaves plenty of money for extra beignets at breakfast. When heading to North America, you simply cannot miss the chance to dance to jazz music and taste the gumbo which are so quintessentially New Orleans.

Denver, Colorado

Denver by Fox in the Forest, an overview form higher over Denver, you see the skyline and a lake in front of it with trees around it

Contributed by Meg from Fox in the Forest.

With over 300 days of sunshine a year, an excellent foodie scene, and lively art and music vibes all over the place, the Mile High City is one of the most amazing destinations in North America to visit. Like any big city, Denver’s neighborhoods each have a flavor of their own, so you’re guaranteed to feel right at home here regardless of your interests. For edgy vibes, head to South Broadway, for shopping & fabulous brunch spots, Lower Highlands will do just the trick, and for all things street art and warehouses, River North is your go-to!

Aside from its cultural and gastronomical offerings, another aspect that makes Denver such an incredible place to be is the fact that it’s the perfect base to explore some of the most  beautiful places in Colorado  A visit here means combining metropolitan vibes with nature escapades so incredibly easy that you’ll be able to get the best of both worlds in one go. Rocky Mountain National Park is just a stone’s throw away, and outdoorsy day trips to go hiking, climbing, skiing, and pretty much any outdoor adventure are right around the corner, which makes getting away from the bustle and hustle of the city and right into the heart of nature absolute breeze. 

Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Ft. Lauderdale by Explore the Road with Donnamarie, as seen from the water

Contributed by Donna from Explore the Road with Donnamarie .

I have lived in Ft. Lauderdale for almost thirty years, and I believe it is a must see travel destination. Why? There are miles upon miles of sandy beaches that you can enjoy all year round. If you enjoy an active lifestyle, there are plenty of activities available such as snorkeling, scuba diving, jet skiing, fishing, and surfing. There are numerous nature preserves where you can go paddleboarding and kayaking while spotting local flora and fauna. For a walk on the wild side, head to the Florida Everglades for an airboat ride through the slowest river in the world. Here you may spot gators, panthers, and other local creatures.

When you are ready for some culture, head downtown to see street art and go to the theater. For nightlife, there are numerous clubs on the strip or hit the shops on Las Olas. If you visit during hockey season, catch a Panther’s game. 

Ft. Lauderdale is also a great central location if you are staying for a while. We are located in between Miami and West Palm Beach. Both are easy day trips. Take a day trip north to the Japanese Gardens and to visit the home of railroad magnate Henry Flagler. Head south to Miami to be immersed in cultures from South and Central America. Experience the famous South Beach and see Vizcaya, an Italian mansion with beautiful gardens. 

The possibilities are endless. There is a lifetime of things to do and see.

Washington DC, District of Columbia

Jefferson Memorial at Washington DC by CS Ginger, as seen from behind, the round columm, with trees on both sides and a grass field in front

Contributed by Candice from CS Ginger.

Washington DC is one of the best cities in North America to visit because of its rich historical sites and ties to current events in the United States. The capital city of the United States is full of historical museums, landmarks as well fun downtown areas.

Most people visit Washington DC to visit the National Mall. It is the most visited national park in the United States and is home to many famous landmarks like the Jefferson Memorial, Washington Memorial, and Tidal Basin. Some of the best things to do on the National Mall in Washington DC are to tour the US Capitol Building, see the Declaration of Independence and Constitution in the National Archives, and walk through the Holocaust Museum.

Even though the National Mall is what the capital city is known for, there are lots of fun  things to do in Washington DC besides the National Mall . Ambar is a Balkan Cuisine restaurant that has one of the best brunches in town. Arlington National Cemetery is another historically significant area of town where you can watch the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Another fun part of town to explore is the Fish Market and the DC Wharf.

Another nice area to explore in Washington DC is Georgetown. It is one of DCs oldest neighborhoods. The Waterfront Park is a fun place to explore on electric scooters and be sure to visit one of the famous cupcake shops in town. 

New York City, New York

The Highline at NYC by The Nitty Gritty Travel OT, on the left Lenore is standing, behind are high rise buildings

Contributed by Lenore from The Nitty Gritty Travel OT .

When talking about the greatest cities in North America to visit, New York City should be at the top of your list. I mean honestly, who hasn’t heard of the iconic NYC?! If you haven’t, you’re seriously living under a rock (just kidding). One of the many things that makes New York City so great is the culture. You can visit any block and have a plethora of food options varying from Caribbean, European, and Asian to name a few.

In addition to culture, as far as activities, there is something for everyone. Not sure of what to do once you arrive? How about visiting the museum, opera, bar, lounge, or a seasonal activity like ice skating at Rockefeller Center during Christmas or free movies in the park in the Summer? The city has you covered and the best part is you don’t need a car. Most places are easily accessible by train or bus and if you’re feeling adventurous how about walking to your destination (as someone who’s born and raised in NYC I can assure you I do this all the time). 

Do you know many famous movies and TV shows have taken place in NYC? If you’re lucky, you might even stumble upon a filming location for a show like “Law & Order”. If this doesn’t convince you to visit, I don’t know what will. I promise you, you will fall in love. I know I am and always return no matter where I go. Hope you enjoyed my thoughts on why you should visit NYC and will pay us a visit in the future! 

Seattle, Washington

Kerry park Seattle by She Saves She Travels, the needle is a bit to the left in the skyline of Seattle, trees in front

Contributed by Nikki from She Saves She Travels.

If you’re looking for the best cities in North America to visit, then Seattle, Washington must be on your list! This vibrant city in the Pacific Northwest has something to offer for everyone. Whether you’re staying for a week or have just  a day in Seattle , there’s a lot to see and do!

The iconic downtown scene cannot be missed! You absolutely need to see the famous Seattle Space Needle, world-known Pike Place Market and if you’re up for adventure, the Seattle Great Wheel. The Chihuly Garden and Glass is stunning and the best views in the city are at Kerry Park. On a clear day, you’ll even see Mount Rainier!

With a robust restaurant scene, you simply cannot go hungry in a city like Seattle. There’s a plethora of locally sourced seafood, so try the fish, crab, lobster, shrimp and more. 

If you have plenty of time to explore, the best day trips from Seattle include Mount Rainier National Park, Olympic National Park, Snoqualmie Falls, Whidbey Island and North Cascades National Park.

Chicago, Illinois

Contributed by Adriane from Put on Your Party Pants .

Chicago is an amazing city, full of beautiful architecture, culture, and things for families to enjoy together.  

It is home to two zoos, Brookfield and Lincoln Park. You can visit several iconic museums, including the Museum of Science and Industry, the Field Museum, and Kohl Children’s Museum. It also is home to the Shedd Aquarium, housed in a massive complex overlooking Lake Michigan. The Art Institute of Chicago features miniature rooms to appeal specifically to children.

Navy Pier is a gorgeous area overlooking the water with lots of restaurants, shops, and a ferris wheel.  The Chicago Children’s Museum is located inside.

Millennium Park and Maggie Daley Park are public parks with great play areas for kids.

For a great view of the city and surrounding areas, visit Skydeck Chicago in Willis Tower, the second tallest building in the country. For a bit of a thrill, check out Tilt in the John Hancock building. There, you can lean against the glass while it tips downward.

Savannah, Georgia

Forsyth park fountain Savannah by A World in Reach, you see a fountain, with water sprouting from different sides. In the back, in a park with green trees

Contributed by Sydney from A World in Reach.

Savannah, Georgia is a beautiful coastal city with a lot to offer. There are a ton of things to see and do in Savannah, putting the Southern city among the best cities to visit for a weekend trip in the United States .

When spending a few days in Savannah, plan your itinerary around exploring the beautiful Historic District. Covering over 5 square kilometers, the Savannah Historic District is one of the largest in the US. It’s dotted with 22 unique historic squares, each one commemorating important people or historic events. You’ll also find gorgeous homes, churches, and plenty of trees draped in Spanish Moss. At the southern end of the historic district is Forsyth Park, home to the beautiful (and frequently photographed) Forsyth Fountain.

Savannah is said to be one of the most haunted cities in the United States, and the locals have taken advantage of that claim by offering ghost tours of some of the city’s most haunted sights. Opt for a spooky bar crawl or hop in a hearse for a drive around some of the city’s scariest sights – exploring Savannah’s haunted history is one of the best things about visiting the city!

Traditional southern cuisine is abundant in Savannah. There are countless restaurants serving up staples like fried chicken, collard greens, seafood boils, and more. For a romantic dinner, make a reservation at The Olde Pink House, one of the city’s most famous restaurants. Don’t miss having a drink in the cellar tavern before your meal!

San Francisco, California

San Francisco by Tiny Trailblazers, the ladies, those houses are visible with in the back the skyline of San Francisco

Contributed by Sarah from Tiny Trailblazers.

Despite the wealth pouring in from Silicon Valley to the south, San Francisco has clung to its gritty, bohemian identity. It’s still a place for dreamers, artists and hustlers, with something for everybody.

I recommend exploring the city on foot. Trams crisscross the seven square miles, so there is always the option of hopping on a street car to spare tired feet. Start the day with a museum: San Francisco has the Exploratorium and the California Academy of Science for interactive exhibitions, or head to the Museum of Modern Art or the De Young for art. My favorite is the Asian Museum of Art, which blends technology and art to create stunning immersive experiences.

Next, pick a neighborhood to soak up some San Francisco vibes. Haight-Ashbury, right next to Golden Gate Park, retains its hippie credentials. If you miss independent record and bookstores, this is the perfect place to spend a few hours browsing for treasures. 

If you prefer hipster to hippie, head to Hayes Valley, where you will find boutiques and cafes centered around a sunny square, perfect for people watching. Grab a fresh juice and pastry from La Boulangerie or indulge in what is possibly the best ice cream in the world at Smitten.

You can’t visit San Francisco without riding the famous cable cars. It is one of the only places in the world where you can ride a national historic landmark. The Powell-Hyde line will take you to Fisherman’s Wharf, where you can warm up with a classic clam chowder sourdough bowl.

As the sun sets, head to Chrissy Field or Baker Beach for a Insta-perfect picture of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. And give yourself a high-five for a day well spent in San Francisco with kids .

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The city of brotherly love San Francisco by Leisurely Drives, the LOVE sign in red, with behind it high rise buildings

Contributed by Jan from Leisurely Drives .

Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love and Pennsylvania’s largest city, is the ideal city for history lovers, especially American history.

The historical center with the Independent Hall is a must-visit to live the times when George Washington was nominated as the chief of the army and Benjamin Franklin as the first Postmaster General. The Liberty center bell is another impressive place to visit and immerse in the history.

The historic district, lined by narrow cobblestone streets, trees and well-preserved ancient houses including the Elfreth’s alley is worth walking around. Museums of all kinds – especially arts and architecture are abound in this city.

Reading Terminal is the old but bustling farmer’s market in the center of Philadelphia – very popular with the residents. Fresh vegetables, seafood and meat and ready-to-eat yummy foods are displayed with enthusiasm here.

The city is also known for its street art and graffiti all over the city. Some of the art is truly 3-dimensional painted by talented artists.

The most popular specialty food of this city is the  Philly Cheesesteak  – a sandwich made with thinly sliced ribeye steak, caramelized onion and provolone cheese.

Philadelphia is a must-visit city for every visitor to North America.

Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City by Planning Away , a snow covered mountain, where you can ski

Contributed by Lisa from Planning Away.

One of the best cities in North America is Salt Lake City.  Salt Lake City is known to have the “best snow on earth”.  There is a reason the 2002 Olympics were held in this great city.  Winter time in Salt Lake is incredible.

Salt Lake City is located in a valley surrounded by mountains.  This means that you can easily drive to a ski resort in less than an hour.  If you love to ski, planning a  Salt Lake City ski trip  will not disappoint.  The best skiing in Salt Lake City is Alta Ski Resort.  It is located at the highest elevation which makes for great skiing.  Snowboarding, snowshoeing, and snow tubing are also popular things to do in winter. 

If you visit during the summer, some of the best activities to do are hiking and biking.  Downtown Salt Lake City is also a nice area to visit.  Temple Square offers free tours which includes one of the largest genealogical (Family Search Center) libraries in the world.  There are many museums and great places to eat throughout the Salt Lake Valley.

Salt Lake is a great place to visit!  

Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix desert by My Flying Leap, the desert with cacti, scrubs and a road running through it. There are several mountains

Contributed by Sam from My Flying Leap.

No list of the best cities in North America to visit would be complete without including Phoenix. The “Valley of the Sun” is not only the fifth-largest city in the US but also a top tourist spot.

Phoenix is great any time of the year, but when it really shines is during the winter months. When much of the rest of the country is blanketed in snow, Phoenix has incredible warm temperatures. Imagine sitting outdoors at restaurants or going swimming outside in December—you can in Phoenix!

Learn to fall in love with the subtle beauty of the desert by visiting the Desert Botanical Garden. You’ll find a lot of fun events throughout the year and during the holidays. Head to the Musical Instrument Museum for a fascinating perspective on music from around the world. 

Check out Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s unique summer home, or the Heard Museum for a celebration of location southwestern US Native American Art. Hike the many mountains in and around the city for some incredible views or lounge in the many resort spas all over town. 

Phoenix is also a foodies’ paradise. There are incredible restaurants with lots of different kinds of cuisine. Many have large windows that open to the outside to enjoy the incredible temperatures for much of the year.

Whether you come here to explore, play, or relax, you’ll find it all. There’s so much to do in Phoenix , and it’s a city not to miss!

St. Augustine, Florida

St Augustine historic downtown by DavidnBrace, people walking on a street in down town, restaurants and shops on both sides and palm trees

Contributed by David from DavidnBrace.

If you’re looking for a historic getaway in the US that still offers subtropical weather and white sand beaches, then there is no other place to look than St. Augustine Florida . The oldest city in America has an incredible line up of sights, activities and dining to suit any family’s expectations. Downtown St Augustine is built around the historic district. With hundreds of shops, dozens of art galleries, candy makers and coffee spots your family can spend more than a whole day just exploring downtown. We always make sure to spend at least a day wondering the historic roads and popping into shops or dinners. One of our kids’ favorite downtown activities is the Whetstone Chocolate Factory where you can get a peek inside the factory and learn how the chocolatiers hand make artisanal chocolates. If the fine white sand beaches aren’t the main draw for St Augustine, the amazing history is. The area was originally occupied by the Timucuan people who flourished and eventually led Ponce De Leon to the fabled Fountain of Youth, which you can still visit and even drink from! The very first church built in America also lies at the fountain of youth site. For our kids though, the most hauntingly awesome part of St Augustine’s history was taking the Dead Walk Ghost Tour. The tour walks you through some of the most haunted places in the city, including where the pirates were hung, the oldest hospital in the US and a few places of brutal murders. During the tour you get to play with K2 meters which show increases in EMF and the kids loved ‘ghost hunting’ with them.

Salem, Massachusetts

Salem by Book Retreats, Halloween decorations in a garden

Contributed by Bernadette from Book Retreats .

A New England town that is synonymous with witches is Salem, Massachusetts because of the witch trials that occurred there in 1692. Around 200 people were accused of practicing witchcraft and since then the town has been the topic of books, films, and folk tales. 

There is plenty to see, visit, and try in Salem any time of the year but the prime time to go is during October when the town ties in its history with Halloween. Each day has numerous events which lead to October 31st and almost everyone walks around in costumes. 

The town is quintessential Northeast with wood and stone buildings, the most famous of which is the House of Seven Gables. It is the oldest wooden mansion of New England and the setting of the book by Nathaniel Hawthorne. For those that like to see the changing of the leaves, you will see it everywhere you go and have photos filled with Fall colors. And, of course, a walking tour after the sun sets is a great way to learn about the history of the town, see historical sites, and hear all kinds of stories from locals. 

Salem is 45 minutes away from Boston and can be easily accessed by train. If you do happen to visit in October, book reservations well in advance and try to book a hotel in town because traffic can be really bad. It is small enough that you can walk and see everything witch-related by foot.

Portland, Maine

Bug Light in Portland Maine by Girl with the Passport, Kelly is standing on the left side of the picture, with a red skirt and a black top on. The lighthouse is on the right

Contributed by Kelly from Girl with the Passport.

Without a doubt Portland, Maine is easily one of the best cities in North America to visit. Not only is this gorgeous coastal city a short bus ride away from the international airport, but it has a fun and funky vibe about it that is unlike any other place in the US. Plus, even though it’s a major city, it still has a warm and welcoming, small town feel that is best exuded by the friendly people who live here. It was also recently named one of the safest cities in the US. 

However, the real highlight of any visit is enjoying some of the  best things to do in Portland, Maine . And no trip to Maine would ever be complete without admiring some of the state’s awe-inspiring lighthouses. So, start your visit off with a trip to the state’s most famous lighthouse, Portland Head Light. Afterward, head back into Portland proper and check out Bug Light and Spring Point Ledge Light too!

Once you’ve had your fill of lighthouses, explore the cobblestone streets and historic buildings of the Old Port area. While you’re here, be sure to take a scenic walk along the Eastern Promenade before hopping on a ferry to nearby Peaks Island or grabbing some fresh duck fat fries from Duckfat Friteshack. 

If you’re still hungry, be sure to snag a delicious lobster roll from The Highroller Lobster Co. before inhaling a decadent sea salt chocolate donut from Holy Donut. Next, go on an impromptu craft beer crawl since this city is loaded with independent breweries that serve up some of the best beers in the nation, like the ever awesome Urban Farm Fermentory. 

Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas by night, cars on the broad street, buildings with lots of lights on both sides. A Replica Statue of Liberty to the left

This crazy city is a world on its own and should not be missed. Whether you like gambling or not, it should be on your itinerary on a South western road trip.

Primarily famous for the casinos and extravagant hotels. In the middle of the Mohave desert is the largest gambling paradise of the USA. The center of the city consists of the Strip, which is one long street. Here you’ll find the famous hotels with casinos such as the MGM Grand, the Bellagio, the Mirage and the Luxor Hotel. To name only a few.

Walk up and down the whole Strip, walk inside the hotels and admire the grandiosity, enjoy the free shows, such as the fountains at the Bellagio. Next to that there are several shows of famous stars and groups in Las Vegas all year long. It calls itself the greatest arena on earth.

It’s also one of the best cities to visit in the USA !

Those are our 30 Best Cities in North America to visit

This concludes our list of cities in North America that deserve a place in your bucket list. Next up we’ll be exploring the Best Cities of Europe to Visit !

Like this? Pin it!

Pinterest Pin

Like it? Pin it!

Pinterest Pin

You May Also Like

To show the terrace of Salon de Roosekrans. Eat in Den Bosch

Where to eat in Den Bosch

To show a picture of the onofrio fountain from above.

30 of the Best Cities of Europe to Visit

To show the view on Dubrovnik from afar. day in Dubrovnik

A day in Dubrovnik


' src=

What a great guide! I can’t wait to return to North America to visit some of them…

' src=

Sarah McDonald

Great list! I can’t wait to explore some of these cities now the world has started to open back up.

' src=

Lenore | The Nitty Gritty Travel OT

These are all such great suggestions! I’ve been to a few mentioned on the list, and learned so much more about destinations I haven’t visited yet. Can’t wait to explore more.

' src=


Edmonton looks so nice. Is it worth spending 2 days there?

' src=

Elena Pappalardo

What a great round-up post. I’ve been to a few of the gems on this list, but I definitely need to catch up! Ontario looks especially beautiful.

' src=

You’ve picked some really nice Canadian cities to add to your list! I haven’t been to any in Mexico yet, but I’ve been to a couple in the states – so many more to see though!

' src=

Rachel - Rays of Adventure

This is a great list! I’ve been to lots of the USA cities, I really enjoyed Washington DC and New York. I haven’t been to Canada yet, I’d love to check out some of the cities on your list in Canada. Thanks for sharing!

' src=

So many great cities to visit – where to start?

' src=

Rob + Ann @TravelLatte

What a great collection of cities! Happy to say that we’ve been to all of the US cities, and a good number of the rest, but disappointed that none of our Texas cities are on the list! We have had Niagara on our list for way too long; I think that will be next for us!

' src=

Great list! I love how varied this continent can be – it is really reflected in the huge diversity in this list of cities. Plus you included my favourite, Vanxouver. 😉

' src=


I grew up in Canada, and there is still so much of that country that I need to visit. Hoping to get to the Eastern Islands next year.

' src=

So many great suggestions! Lots I still haven’t been to but want to, like Vancouver. And as a DC girl, I can confirm it belongs on this list 🙂

' src=

So many to choose from! If I had to pick a favourite form those I’ve seen so far it might have to be the minstral fill streets of Havana, but I’ve got my work cut out researching those I have yet to have the pleasure of meeting. I might have to start with Mexico City.

' src=

I live in Washington DC. I recommend visitors book a walking tour of a historic neighborhood on their day off arrival so they can learn about a local’s favorites for restaurants and museums to visit. I love writing about my city!

' src=

Your travel stories are always so captivating. I find myself daydreaming about my own adventures after reading your posts.

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed .

Places To Visit In Northern America

Best Time: September - November & March - May Read More

Budget: Very Expensive

Here are the top 24 destinations to visit in Northern America

1. washington.

northern us cities to visit

1 out of 24 Places To Visit in Northern America

The Capital of United States, Washington, DC is a legatee of neoclassic beauty. A city which is not only famous for its museums and monuments, but also for the cultural style it embosses with its nightlife, performing art venues and trendy shops.

2. US Virgin Islands

2 out of 24 Places To Visit in Northern America

The US Virgin Islands or USVI, are a group of islands in the Caribbean. The islands are geographically part of the Virgin Islands archipelago and are located in the Leeward Islands of the Lesser Antilles. The USVI consist of the main islands of Saint Croix, Saint John, and Saint Thomas, and many oth...

3. Charleston

3 out of 24 Places To Visit in Northern America

Cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages, and centuries-old mansions- Charleston owns all the props for a classic vintage picture. This port city's beauty shuffles different shades throughout the year, making Charleston a destination with a unique mesmerizing allure every time you visit here.

4. Yellowstone National Park

4 out of 24 Places To Visit in Northern America

Located across 3 states, the Yellowstone National Park is one of the most popular National Parks in North America and also the world. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is known mostly for it's several thousand geothermal features, stunning views and the vast array of flora and fauna which are found her...

5. Baltimore

5 out of 24 Places To Visit in Northern America

Maryland's Largest City Baltimore is the 30th most populous city in the US which is also the largest independent city. Earlier crowned as a city with high crime rates, Baltimore has now emerged as a city rich in history and culture. Lying just 40 miles away from Washington, there's a lot t...

6. Quebec City

6 out of 24 Places To Visit in Northern America

One of the more prominent francophonie areas worldwide, Qu_bec is rich and vibrant, in every sense. Culture, art, adventure, religion, natural beauty and luxury are all found in abundance in Qu_bec, and makes it one of the most versatile areas around the world, fit for any tourist.

7. Honolulu

7 out of 24 Places To Visit in Northern America

Hawaii's capital, Honolulu, is the most vibrant city of Oahu, with most of the population of the state living here. The city is a hub of historic landmarks, popular shopping centres, arts and cultures scenes. It's also a major hub for international business and military defence. Famou...

8 out of 24 Places To Visit in Northern America

Thriving in the arts and culture department, Dallas is the new hipster hub with its many arts districts and museums. The city has a bitter brush-in with history by being the city where John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 and the site is memorialized at the Dealey Plaza with the exact ...

9 out of 24 Places To Visit in Northern America

Polynesian heritage mixed with the modern American lifestyle is what makes Maui a beautiful Hawaiian island.  Maui, the second-largest of the Hawaiian islands is a popular tourist destination, mostly among North Americans. Its called the 'Valley Isle' as it sits between the east and the west vo...

10. Orlando

10 out of 24 Places To Visit in Northern America

Orlando welcomes more than 52 million visitors every year and that's enough to define its popularity all over the world. The star of Orlando is the famous Walt Disney World, which is situated 18 miles south in Lake Buena Vista. The County seat of Orange County, Orlando is known as 'the Theme Pa...

11. Montreal

11 out of 24 Places To Visit in Northern America

Montreal is the second largest city in Canada. A city rich in culture and history, Montreal never fails to impress its visitors. Beautiful architecture, festive spirit, interesting museums and delicious cuisine- you're sure to fall in love with this city full of life.

12. San Diego

12 out of 24 Places To Visit in Northern America

Home to serene white-sand beaches, San Diego is popularly called 'America's Finest City'. San Diego is the second-largest city in California, while it ranks no. 8 in the list of the largest cities in the United States. With incredible weather conditions throughout the year and over 60 beaches, the s...

13. Las Vegas

13 out of 24 Places To Visit in Northern America

Las Vegas - a place that brings neon signboards, iconic hotels and the legendary casinos to our minds. For the ultimate, no-limits entertainment trip, there is hardly any place in the world that comes close to Vegas. The city's bright skyline, the super luxury hotels and resorts, the world-famous ca...

14. Vancouver

14 out of 24 Places To Visit in Northern America

Surrounded by mountains and beautiful scenery, Vancouver is a city known for its natural beauty and diversity. A city of many mixtures, contrasts and cultures, Vancouver is a must visit for any tourist.

15. Seattle

15 out of 24 Places To Visit in Northern America

Seattle is the largest city in both the state of Washington and the Pacific Northwest region of North America. The city has thousands of acres worth of green spaces and parks, making the city a perfect mix of a concrete jungle and beautiful greenery. Seattle is the third-largest port in North Americ...

16. New York City

16 out of 24 Places To Visit in Northern America

An iconic global centre that has inspired the world with its brilliant architecture, movies, and art. Also known as the Big Apple, New York is well-known for its magnificent skyscrapers, Broadway shows and beautiful landmarks, making it the perfect destination for travellers from all over.

17 out of 24 Places To Visit in Northern America

Boston is the largest city in Massachusetts, the testifier of the American Revolution and an international hub for education. Boston takes pride in its rich history and is counted as one of the oldest cities in America. Popularly known as "Beantown", the name that's originated from Boston baked...

18. San Francisco

18 out of 24 Places To Visit in Northern America

San Francisco is one of the most important cities on the West Coast and all of the United States. It has been a major tourist destination since the 1960s, thanks to its wide array of attractions, the iconic Golden Gate Bridge fantastic views of the San Francisco Bay and brilliant summer weather...

19 out of 24 Places To Visit in Northern America

Miami is a seaport city famous for its beaches and nightlife. This vibrant town is also referred to as the 'Cruise Capital of the World' with cruise ships from all over docking at Port Miami. Many large companies and corporate houses have its headquarters in Miami making&nbs...

20. Victoria

20 out of 24 Places To Visit in Northern America

Victoria is one of the biggest attractions of Canada, for its mild climate, natural beauty and history, which is accessible throughout the year. Picturesquely present in the craggy regions of Canada, Victoria is the best place for the ones in search of history, relaxation, and beautiful scenery.

21. Toronto

21 out of 24 Places To Visit in Northern America

Toronto, the capital of Ontario, is the most populous city of Canada and the fifth largest city in North America, is the financial capital of the county and one of the most mutli culturally diverse cities of the word. Located on shore of the beautiful Lake Ontario, the city is know for its skyscrape...

22. Chicago

22 out of 24 Places To Visit in Northern America

Third largest city in the United States, Chicago is a metropolitan situated in the state Illinois. Beautified with the outlining freshwater Lake Michigan, the Windy City is known for its diverse and lively neighbourhoods.

23. Puerto Rico

23 out of 24 Places To Visit in Northern America

Puerto Rico is undoubtedly one of the most enchanting places with the beautiful Caribbean beaches, the amazing island landscapes, the underwater experiences, and the rich Caribbean culture. Though Puerto Rico is technically a territory of the United States, the atmosphere of the Caribbean is ab...

24. Los Angeles

24 out of 24 Places To Visit in Northern America

Los Angeles is the hub of all activities on the famous West Coast of the United States. It is the second-largest city in the country, and one of the US's prime tourist cities. Home to the world-famous Hollywood entertainment industry, Los Angeles has become a huge tourist destination. It is a great ...

Nearby Regions

Central America

Get the best offers on Travel Packages

Compare package quotes from top travel agents

Compare upto 3 quotes for free

  • India (+91)

*Final prices will be shared by our partner agents based on your requirements.

Log in to your account

Welcome to holidify.

Forget Password?

Share this page

  • Search Please fill out this field.
  • Manage Your Subscription
  • Give a Gift Subscription
  • Newsletters
  • Sweepstakes
  • Nature Travel

8 Places in the United States Where You May Spot the Northern Lights

Where can you see the northern lights in the U.S.? The answer might surprise you.

northern us cities to visit

You don't need a passport to catch one of the world's most awe-inspiring natural wonders. Normally, you'd have to head north to destinations like Norway, Finland, and Iceland in hopes of catching a glimpse of the northern lights , and while all of these destinations are well worth traveling to, there are a few less-expected spots right here in the United States where you can see the spectacular celestial show.

High solar activity is essential to seeing the lights, particularly in the U.S. When the sun emits superheated plasma, otherwise known as a coronal mass ejection (CME), it can trigger a massive "geomagnetic storm," which causes the Earth's auroras to ramp up. However, solar weather is hard to predict, so you'll need to be prepared (and have a little resiliency) for your best chance at an aurora light show. Use digital tools like NOAA's forecast tool and Night Sky Alerts to keep track of solar activity and be alerted to the best times to catch the northern lights in your area. 

Locations in higher latitudes (which are closer to what's known as the "Aurora Oval," or the area with the strongest geomagnetic activity) are ideal for spotting the aurora borealis, so the phenomenon can be seen in the northern United States if the conditions are right. Longer, darker nights (like around a new moon) and clear skies are best. You'll also want to be aware of when the equinoxes occur (in September and March) because solar activity tends to be high around these times due to the Earth's tilt in relation to the sun.

With that in mind, here are eight of the best places to spot the northern lights in the U.S.

When geomagnetic storms are big enough, the northern lights can be visible as far south as northern Idaho. Head to sites like Priest Lake and the Idaho Panhandle National Forest to maximize your chances of seeing the lights.

2. Minnesota

The northern lights can be seen in parts of the Midwest, like northern Minnesota, when the conditions are just right. Cook County is actually one of the best places to spot the phenomenon in the lower 48 states.

Not only will there need to be a massive solar storm, but you will also need to be in an area that is dark and free of light pollution. When a solar storm happens, make your way out of the city and into a dark area. Park yourself beneath the stars and wait for the show to (hopefully) begin.

3. Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has an advantage when it comes to northern lights viewing potential, as it is home to Cherry Springs State Park , a Dark Sky Reserve . There, visitors can stay overnight, join tours, and even take a photography class to improve their skills and possibly capture the aurora in action. Visit the Overnight Astronomy Observation Field for 360-degree views of the night sky — even if you don't spot the northern lights, you'll still enjoy some of the country's best stargazing .

4. Michigan

The northern lights can sometimes be spotted from Michigan's Upper Peninsula . Michigan is also home to a Dark Sky Park, the Headlands International Dark Sky Park . Although the park has ideal conditions for viewing the northern lights, they can be unpredictable. Keep your expectations low and you'll be pleasantly surprised if you catch a glimpse of the lights over these woodlands.

Because of its location within the auroral oval and dark skies, Alaska is one of the best places in the world to see the northern lights , and lucky for American travelers, you don't even need a passport to get there. Fairbanks, Utqiagvik, and Coldfoot are among the best places to visit for a chance to see the northern lights. Visitors can even opt for a guided tour for expert viewing advice. Head to an inland location during March for your best chances of seeing the phenomenon in the Last Frontier.

6. Wisconsin

Auroras have been known to appear in the skies over several of Wisconsin's natural landscapes. Head to the Apostle Islands or Washington Island in Door County for the chance of glimpsing the lights. The Great Lakes are another perfect backdrop for viewing the colorful phenomenon, and Wisconsin is situated on both Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, all the better for northern lights viewing when frozen over.

7. North Dakota

This northern state is the perfect place for night sky viewing if you're trying to see the northern lights. Scenic areas like Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Mystical Horizons in the Turtle Mountains near Bottineau are ideal for those clear skies you'll need to catch the auroras. North Dakota 's Martens Observatory has actually installed a pair of cameras that provide a public livestream of the night sky that will capture auroras when they appear overhead.

The mostly rural state offers plenty of stargazing opportunities. It's also home to the Dark Sky Sanctuary, the Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument , making Maine the best place east of the Mississippi to catch the northern lights. There's also an International Dark Sky Park in the Appalachian Mountain Club's Maine woods , as well as other remote, clear spots where the auroras might be spotted.

Elizabeth Rhodes is a special projects editor at Travel + Leisure , covering everything from luxury hotels to theme parks to must-pack travel products. Originally from South Carolina, Elizabeth moved to New York City from London, where she started her career as a travel blogger and writer.

northern us cities to visit

Related Articles

11 Destinations Way Up North In Minnesota That Are So Worth The Drive

northern us cities to visit

Betsy Rathburn

Betsy is a Minneapolis-based writer who's lived in Minnesota for 20 years. If you know of any amazing Minnesota restaurants, nature areas, or other attractions, feel free to let her know about them at [email protected] or on Twitter @betsyrathburn.

More by this Author

North to south, east to west, Minnesota is an astonishingly gorgeous place. We have just about every kind of landscape you can imagine: prairies, forests, rivers, and – of course – our famous lakes. While there is beauty in every region, there’s one particular part of Minnesota that has captured the hearts of many locals and out-of-towners alike. Northern Minnesota has endless that everyone should try to see at least once. Here are our 11 favorite destinations way up north in Minnesota that are so worth the drive.

northern us cities to visit

Related Stories

You’ll Fall In Love With The Breathtaking Waterfall Hiding Along This Short Minnesota Trail

You’ll Fall In Love With The Breathtaking Waterfall Hiding Along This Short Minnesota Trail

Get Away From It All At This Remote And Beautiful Campground In Minnesota

Get Away From It All At This Remote And Beautiful Campground In Minnesota

The Whole Family Could Spend An Entire Day Having A Blast At Centennial Lakes In Minnesota

The Whole Family Could Spend An Entire Day Having A Blast At Centennial Lakes In Minnesota

northern us cities to visit

What are your favorite places to visit in northern Minnesota? Let us know in the comments below!

OnlyInYourState may earn compensation through affiliate links in this article. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Want more Minnesota in your inbox?

Get the latest on things to see, do, and eat around Minnesota!

Thank you! You'll receive your first newsletter soon!

An error occured.

Related Articles

  • Enjoy A Sense Of Peace At This Incredible Waterfront Restaurant In Minnesota
  • A New Chef-Driven Eatery Has Opened In Minnesota And You'll Want To Visit Right Away
  • The Brewery In Minnesota That Features Magnificent Waterfront Views
  • Escape To The Countryside When You Stay At This Rural Airbnb In Minnesota
  • Places To Stay Near Caesars Superdome In New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Places To Stay Near Lucas Oil Stadium In Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Here Are Our 13 Favorite Eco-Friendly Travel Items To Celebrate Earth Day
  • Here Are The 14 Most Unique Beaches In The United States

Awesome, you're subscribed!

Thanks for subscribing! Look out for your first newsletter in your inbox soon!

The best things in life are free.

Sign up for our email to enjoy your city without spending a thing (as well as some options when you’re feeling flush).

Déjà vu! We already have this email. Try another?

By entering your email address you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and consent to receive emails from Time Out about news, events, offers and partner promotions.

Love the mag?

Our newsletter hand-delivers the best bits to your inbox. Sign up to unlock our digital magazines and also receive the latest news, events, offers and partner promotions.

  • Things to Do
  • Food & Drink
  • Time Out Market
  • Coca-Cola Foodmarks
  • Los Angeles

Get us in your inbox

🙌 Awesome, you're subscribed!

Northern Lights North Dakota

The best places to see the Northern Lights in the U.S.

The sky's breathtaking phenomenon of the Aurora Borealis is a sight to behold all around the U.S.

Erika Mailman

So many of us crave to see the Northern Lights that we’re willing to book a vacation to be closer to the north where they can be seen. The phenomenon, also called Aurora Borealis, is where dramatic ribbons of lime, rose and other colors can be seen moiling in the sky, rewarding us with a sense of awe and a closeness to the beauty of our universe. The experience can be moving and leave us with a sense of gratitude for our complex universe.

Also, have you met STEVE? He’s an atmospheric optical phenomenon, and his name is an acronym for “strong thermal emission velocity enhancement.” That means he is a purple and green light stripe or arc in the sky—what a life—named in 2016 by folks in Alberta, Canada, enjoying his lovely light. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland is studying the phenomenon using the fun acronym.

Now, brace yourself: the Northern Lights may appear less dramatic in real life than in photographs because cameras have more photoreceptors than our eyes—don’t be surprised if you see something more gray than neon. But many people feel that seeing them, even if they aren’t as brilliant as in a photograph , is impossible to describe or match. Just another drop in the bucket list! Make sure to check each destination for weather conditions and timing to give yourself the best chance of seeing them.

RECOMMENDED: The best places for stargazing in the U.S.

An email you’ll actually love

Best places to see the Northern Lights in the U.S.

Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, Maine

1.  Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, Maine

As our country’s most northern and eastern state, Maine provides excellent chances of seeing the Northern Lights, especially since it’s heavily forested with very low levels of light pollution. The Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument is an International Dark Sky Sanctuary—Mount Katahdin being an impressive mountain in Baxter State Park, the tallest in the state—and throughout Maine, stargazing events take place to celebrate the “Northern Lights enthusiast’s paradise,” according to the Natural Resources Council of Maine.

Fairbanks, Alaska

2.  Fairbanks, Alaska

The Northern Lights season here lasts a long time, from August 21 to April 21, and a handy tracker lets you know when your chances are best. Right now, in October, the chances are low. A few places known for spectacular viewing are Chena Lake Recreation Area, just outside the North Pole; the Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge (you must wonder how the birds feel about the Northern Lights!); and Cleary Summit. Most hotels in the area offer you a wake-up call when the Northern Lights appear so you can go to bed knowing you won’t miss anything.

Washington State

3.  Washington State

A Facebook page of 76,000 members tracks Aurora Borealis throughout the state. People post to let others know of current or about-to-happen auroral activity and to share photos. While the group rules concede that the Northern Lights aren’t standard in Washington like in Alaska, the moderators are excited for people to notify each other when it’s happening. Places that are known to be good for viewing include Cascade Pass inside North Cascades National Park, Carkeek Park in Seattle (far from downtown and its light pollution and with a nice view of the sky over Puget Sound), and Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park in Clallam County (although its day lodge was destroyed by fire this May).

Glacier National Park, Montana

4.  Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park includes many amazing places to settle in and watch the lights. You can see them reflected in the waters of Lake McDonald. You can stay in your tent at the Bowman & Kinta lakes to see them in the backcountry. Other spots include Looking Glass Road or the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park (where you can share viewing rights with a bison herd in their paddock). And if you’re more into drinking and merriment than quiet awe, try the Northern Lights Saloon & Cafe in Polebridge for live music and huckleberry pie as you watch together.

Cook County, Minnesota

5.  Cook County, Minnesota

At the Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center in Grand Marais, the All Sky Camera mounted on the museum’s roof captures a 360-degree sky photo every minute from 30 minutes before sunset and 30 minutes after sunrise. The results are unusual: a ball of color with the tips of evergreen trees around the edges; the photo above was taken by the All Sky Camera March 23, 2023 at 10pm. Roughly 40 minutes away, the Grand Portage State Park is also a great place to see the Northern Lights.

Throughout North Dakota

6.  Throughout North Dakota

Check out the North Dakota Dual Aurora Camera, consisting of a sky-facing cam and a north-facing one, at the state’s Martens Observatory. These provide a livestream of the sky, and get this: the cameras send out a tweet when they identify aurora. Installed in 2020, the cameras provided pandemic viewing for North Dakotans (and all of us via the web). Places in real life to see the Northern Lights? If they’re appearing in the state, they’re available everywhere in the state—but make sure to get outside of city limits to decrease light pollution.

Door County, Wisconsin

7.  Door County, Wisconsin

With miles of shoreline along Lake Michigan and a lack of big cities with light pollution, Door County positions itself as an excellent place to view the Aurora Borealis. Three recommended places? Rock Island State Park, Washington Island, and especially Newport State Park, named a dark-sky park in 2017. Also, join the Facebook group Great Lakes Aurora Hunters Alerts (38,000 members strong) to share information on where to find the Northern Lights.


8.  Michigan

Great spaces to park yourself for viewing include the Headlands International Dark Sky Park in Mackinaw City, Port Crescent State Park in Port Austin, and all along the south shoreline of Lake Superior’s Upper Peninsula. The viewing spot at the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse on Lake Superior’s Keweenaw Peninsula is a spectacular place to bask in the eerie skylights.


9.  Idaho

Check out Heyburn State Park on Chatcolet Lake in the town of Plummer, the oldest park in the Pacific Northwest, for wonderful vista points to watch the Aurora Borealis. The Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes bike path is a great place to bike and turn your helmet upwards, especially on the bridge over the Chatcolet Lake, St. Joe River, and Round Lake. Also recommended is Schweitzer, where you can hike mountains (or take the ski lift in summer) to get closer to the sky.

Denali National Park, Alaska

10.  Denali National Park, Alaska

There’s a reason a photo of the Northern Lights, as seen in Denali National Park, is featured on the National Park Services’ overview web page on the Aurora Borealis. This park has incredible views because it is so far north and light pollution is almost nil. The National Park Service is involved in studying the night sky. It suggests that visitors to Denali read first about traditional Athabaskan star knowledge and learn the Alaska Native Peoples’ names and stories for the constellations.

[image] [title]

Discover Time Out original video

  • Press office
  • Investor relations
  • Work for Time Out
  • Editorial guidelines
  • Privacy notice
  • Do not sell my information
  • Cookie policy
  • Accessibility statement
  • Terms of use
  • Copyright agent
  • Modern slavery statement
  • Manage cookies
  • Advertising

Time Out products

  • Time Out Worldwide

Portsmouth, New Hampshire waterfront houses

  • 8 Best Small Towns To Visit In The Northern United States

The Northern United States are home to an abundance of small towns–each filled to the brim with beautiful natural resources, historical sights, and bustling downtown cores. From Maine to Ohio and everywhere in between, travelers are sure to find their ideal day or weekend trip destination in the North. 

Westerly, Rhode Island

Street view in Westerly, Rhode Island

Adventurers will find the charming town of Westerly, Rhode Island . Filled with sunny beaches, historic buildings, and a charming downtown core–it’s no surprise that Westerly attracts large groups of tourists each year. Spend some time visiting the Watch Hill Lighthouse which sits on a picturesque peninsula and features a museum and a surrounding beach. Those traveling with kids will enjoy an afternoon at Atlantic Beach Park where visitors can enjoy a surf bar, live entertainment, and the famous Herschell-Spillman Carousel which was first constructed back in 1915. While in town, don’t forget to take in a show at the Granite Theatre as well. 

Garretson, South Dakota

Palisades State Park is in South Dakota by Garretson

Camping and outdoor enthusiasts will find their perfect getaway in Garretson, South Dakota . Home to a handful of campgrounds, state parks, and stunning pink quartzite rocks, Garreston offers an abundance of natural beauty for visitors to admire. The town is also known for its ties to the famous outlaw, Jesse James. According to the town's website, James escaped the posse by jumping over Devil's Gulch on horseback. Curious travelers can visit Devil's Gulch where they’ll find beautiful pink rock formations, a charming footbridge, hiking trails, and a cascading waterfall. Next on the itinerary, head over to Palisades State Park where rock climbing, hiking, camping, bird watching, and fishing are all on offer. 

Keystone, South Dakota

Visitors to Mt Rushmore Memorial

Those who have a few days to spend in South Dakota will also want to visit the quaint town of Keystone. Here, travelers can visit historical monuments, explore mines from 1892, and let loose on a variety of amusement park rides. To start your Keystone adventure, head over to the Mount Rushmore National Memorial where visitors can enjoy views of the Black Hills and famous president rock carvings as they hike along The Blackberry Trail. Next, spend some time exploring the Big Thunder Gold Mine where activities like gold panning, mine tours, and history lessons are all available. Finally, plan an afternoon at Rush Mountain Adventure Park where those who are brave enough can enjoy roller coasters, zip lines, and cave tours.

Oglesby, Illinois

Starved Rock Lodge in Oglesby, Illinois

Tucked neatly along the shores of the Vermilion River and not far from the Illinois River, travelers will find the stunning town of Oglesby, Illinois . The quaint town is home to two state parks and is an ideal day trip destination for anyone looking to explore the great outdoors. Oglesby is also known to host several festivals throughout the year including the popular Summer Fun Fest and Harvest Fest in the fall. Spend a day here wandering through the well-known Starved Rock State Park which is home to gorgeous sandstone, hiking trails, and waterfalls. Looking for a longer stay? Consider spending a night or two at the Starved Rock Lodge which offers live shows, tours, and charming accommodations. Another area worth visiting is Matthiessen State Park where curious explorers can find Canyons, waterfalls, creeks, and interesting rock formations.

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Waterfront houses in Portsmouth, New Hampshire

History buffs will have a field day in Portsmouth ,–the only seaport and second oldest city in New Hampshire . A popular summer destination, Portsmouth is home to a handful of historic sights, museums, and a scenic downtown core that is perfect for window shopping. Visitors can spend their time here learning about black history on the Black Heritage Trail which offers self-guided walking tours, trolley and bus tours, and signature guided tours. Keep the history lessons going by visiting some local historic houses including the Moffatt-Ladd House and Garden and the Warner House. Next, head over to Albacore Park which is home to the famous USS Albacore. For something more laid back, take a stroll through Prescott Park and admire the well-kept gardens on site. 

Camden, Maine

Aerial view of Camden, Maine

Those who’ve had their fill of New Hampshire history can travel roughly 130 miles to the picturesque small town of Camden , Maine . Here, visitors will find no shortage of outdoor activities and calming views. Sit back, relax, and admire the sparkling oceanfront at Laite Memorial Beach which is considered a hidden gem by Camden locals. Or, lace up those boots and hit the trails at Camden Hills State Park where hikers will find trails and a scenic lookout point atop Mt. Battie. For an easy walk, head over to Merryspring Nature Center and enjoy trails, various gardens, wildlife, and plenty of scheduled activities. Perhaps one of the most relaxing things to do in Camden is to take a ride on the Camden Harbor Cruises which provide unbeatable views of the  Camden Harbor and Penobscot Bay.

Yellow Springs, Ohio

People shopping and browsing at a public street fair in Yellow Springs, Ohio

Far from the crab-filled shores of Maine, adventurers will find the unique town of Yellow Springs, Ohio . Yellow Springs was discovered in the 1800’s and became known for its local springs which were thought to have healing powers. Today, visitors can explore the town's natural beauty. Spend a few hours enjoying a mix of wooden boardwalks, waterfalls, and a stunning limestone gorge at Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve. Or take a stroll through the equally beautiful Glen Helen Nature Preserve where visitors can find over 15 miles of trails, native birds, and of course, the famous yellow springs the town is known for.

Chester, Connecticut

Chester, Connecticut: A tractor parade during a winter festival

Characterized by its whimsical main street, historic castle, and beautiful forests, Chester, Connecticut is an ideal day trip destination for nature lovers. Spend an afternoon exploring Gillette Castle State Park where visitors can tour the historic Gillette Castle, hike the trails, and enjoy a cozy picnic. Another Chester park worth checking out is the Cockaponset State Forest which offers hiking, views of the surrounding water, and seasonal activities such as horseback riding and cross-country skiing. Those who prefer window shopping will want to head to Main Street where shoppers can find everything from village stores filled with clothing and decor to art galleries and wine shops.

In Conclusion…

From lighthouses situated on sunny beach shores to historic homes and state parks, these northern states have a little something for everyone. With ample activities and places to stay, it’s easy to plan a perfect getaway in any of these charming small towns.

More in Places

Old Mill District in the tourist area of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Image credit littlenySTOCK via

The Best Small Towns in Tennessee for a Weekend Retreat

Central Street through Middleburg, Virginia. Image credit Nigel Jarvis via

10 Breathtaking Towns to Visit in Virginia

Blue hour after sunset in Madison Connecticut from East Wharf beach.

6 Most Scenic Small Towns in Connecticut

Street view in Tilba, New South Wales, via BBaron /

The Best Small Towns in New South Wales for a Weekend Retreat

Group of women by ocean in foggy morning in Deception Pass Bridge Park, Anacortes, Washington.

12 Best Places to Live in Washington in 2024

Newburyport, MA, US. Editorial credit: Heidi Besen /

7 Most Idyllic Small Towns in Massachusetts

The beach in Michigan City, Indiana, USA. Editorial credit: Lewis Photo Studio /

7 Coolest Towns in the Great Lakes for a Summer Vacation in 2024

Aerial view of Cedar City, Utah, USA.

8 Towns Perfect for Retirement in Utah

Best places to visit in Northern California in summer and early fall

Over the last few weeks, I’ve camped or visited with several fellow travelers who rave about the current conditions for traveling throughout northern California. Late-season snows, abundant rains and recent warm weather have made the state verdant, wrapped in bright green hues. Streams run strong, waterfalls tumble, and wildflowers pop out along many trails, all portending wonderful travel outings in the coming months.

From those friendly discussions, here are recommendations from my fellow traveling pals regarding the best destinations and times to visit some of these sparkling targets. With these suggestions, we’re trying to factor in the time of year, predicted temperatures, seasonal traveler impacts, and sightseeing appeal. Here are suggestions, month by month.

May:  Target the mid-Sierra, where snows have receded, and crowds have not yet reached summer levels. Check out gems like Twain Harte and Pinecrest Lake up Highway 108, Murphys and Calaveras Big Trees State Park on Highway 4, or the Crystal Basin area in the El Dorado National Forest, off Highway 50.

Pinecrest Lake has long been a favorite, offering a 3-mile hike around the lake and a side trail up Boulder Creek Canyon, where you’ll find a brisk stream and select waterfalls just off the lake. Murphys is a favorite historic Gold Rush town, and just above Calaveras, Big Trees would likely be a national park in any other state, with huge sequoias towering over 250 feet. 

To find the Crystal Basin area, take Highway 50 East, turn left on Ice House Road, pass Ice House Lake to Union Valley Reservoir, and find a variety of lovely campgrounds with fishing, hiking, and camping galore. If you are camping in the area, take your food in, for the Ice House Resort offers limited options for food or lodging in this wild country.

June: We recommend visiting Yosemite in early to mid-June, before the summer crowds get almost overwhelming. We also highly suggest visiting the Hetch Hetchy Valley and the Tuolumne Meadows portion of the park. Hetch Hetchy is the inspiring valley that John Muir fought so hard to preserve, losing that battle when O’Shaughnessy Dam was constructed in the late 1920s to impound a water supply for the city of San Francisco. 

Hetch Hetchy remains a stunning valley despite the reservoir, and a hike up the trail on the north side of the lake offers amazing vistas and waterfalls like Tueeulala and Wapama Falls, almost the rival of Yosemite Falls. Best of all, Hetch Hetchy, about 20 miles off the main road, gets only about 5% of Yosemite’s visitors, so you will often have that lakeside hike to yourselves.

July:  Target Lassen National Park, featuring Lassen Peak, which blew its top in a volcanic eruption in 1915 and 1916, flattening trees for miles to the northeast and throwing huge boulders three miles. Visit the Bumpass Hell area, a hissing, steaming hydrothermal area featuring fumaroles and bubbling mud pots to almost rival Yellowstone. Reserve a campsite in scenic Manzanita Lake Campground on the park’s northwest corner and consider the hike to the top of Lassen volcanic peak. Best, the park is only 200 miles from San Joaquin County.

August:  Redwoods State and National Parks are a fantastic destination, just six hours north up the coast, remaining relatively calm and enticing even during the hottest month of the year. Just off Highway 101, state parks and the national park preserve the remnants of the once-two million acres of old-growth redwood; today, only 5 percent remain. Tour the Avenue of the Giants, an awe-inspiring 30-mile tour of the Coast Redwood forest, the tallest trees in the world. Stop at the Thomas Kuchel Visitor Center south of Orick for the history of the preserves and insight into the majestic flora and fauna of the area. Nearby are Ferndale, Scotia, and the Samoa Cookhouse (stop for lunch at this former cookhouse of the Hammond Lumber Mill).

September : For an early fall visit, save the closer California north coast, from Bodega Bay to Mendocino. From Stockton, the coast is easy to reach (about three hours) and offers some of the most stunning waterfront vistas in the United States! 

This piece of California offers impressive vistas, spectacular food, great camping options, and wonderful places to stop for the night. Bodega (the town is different from Bodega Bay) is just off Hwy 116 and offers the old school where the 1963 Hitchcock classic 'The Birds' was filmed. 

Six miles north is Bodega Bay, home to various fine restaurants and several nearby beautiful campgrounds. Stop at the Tides Restaurant for great food, and check out many state parks for tenting or trailering options. A favorite is Wright's Beach State Park, right on the ocean!

Just north, cross the languid Russian River and the cute town of Jenner, where the Russian spills into the Pacific. Stop at River's End Restaurant for great food and stunning views. Beyond Jenner, find Ft. Ross, the old Russian outpost from the early 1800s, then pass through a host of cute coastal towns like Sea Ranch (stop at the Sea Ranch Lodge for breakfast or lunch), Gualala, and Point Arena (check out the Point Arena lighthouse, for riveting coastal views). Further north, one passes through Manchester, Elk, and Albion to reach Mendocino. Mendocino is the quintessential California seaside town, with trendy shops and several restaurants. This is a definite trip worthy of two or three days.

Contact Tim,  [email protected] . Happy travels in Nor Cal!


California road trips,; California’s North Coast,; Crystal Basin and El Dorado National Forest, ; Lassen Volcanic National Park, NPS /gov/lavo ; Pinecrest Lake area, and Yosemite, .

Northern Italy’s Enchanting Escapes: 12 Unmissable Vacation Destinations

Northern Italy is known for its mountain ranges, beautiful coastlines, rich cuisine, deep history, and gorgeous architecture. Northern Italy cities are simply breathtaking.

Each major region of Italy (northern, central , and southern ) is quite unique. Northern Italy is made up of 8 different sub-regions, which include Piedmont, Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy, Liguria, Aosta Vally, Veneto, Fruili-Venezia, and Trentina-Alto.

From hiking the Italian Alps and Lake Como boat tours to handmade pasta and vineyards, the northern region of Italy is a diverse vacation destination you shouldn’t miss! Check out our favorite places to visit in Northern Italy– with things to do!

[This article contains affiliate links to trusted partners.]

Cinque Terre, Liguria

Cinque Terre, Italy

Recommended by Pafoua of Her Wanderful World

Cinque Terre, meaning “Five Lands,” is a charming, must-see UNESCO destination located in Liguria’s capital city, La Spezia, off the Mediterranean coast in Northern Italy. Listed north to south, these beautiful coastal towns are Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.

Each town has its own unique beauty to explore, but all of them offer scenic views of colorful houses that line the hills. The ambiance, culture, and people in the Cinque Terre make a stop here unforgettable even though there aren’t traditional tourist sites such as churches or museums to visit.

Monterosso is the largest of the five and is known for its long stretch of sandy beach. Vernazza is the most beautiful of all the towns, with a smaller beach to swim in and a piazza to view the harbor below.

Sitting as the highest of all five villages, visitors will need to climb over 300 steps to reach the town center of Corniglia. Visit Gelateria Corniglia to find the best gelato. A popular activity in Manarola is sunbathing on the rocks or swimming in the sea since it doesn’t have a beach.

Riomaggiore is known for being the first town introduced to tourism, and nightlife is more lively. There is also delicious fried seafood found here.

A well-maintained train system connects the towns so visitors can easily travel between towns by hopping on and off. To take the scenic route, you can hike the trails and receive even more picturesque views, although keep in mind that some of the trails may be challenging.

Vehicles are discouraged in the Cinque Terre, so the easiest way to arrive is by train. Visitors can also arrive by boat, but schedules can change depending on the weather. The busiest times in the Cinque Terre are June and July, which also offer the sunniest, longest days.

To miss the crowds, visit during September or October to get cooler weather and still enjoy this beautiful area. Whenever you decide to visit the Cinque Terre and Northern Italy, you will not be disappointed!

Genoa, Liguria

Genoa Italy

Recommended by Sarah of A Social Nomad

Genoa, located in Northern Italy, is really easy to travel to – some buses and trains make it easy to reach this city on the Mediterranean, which is also a major cruise port, which means that a lot of visitors spend one day in Genoa . Genoa has one of the largest harbors in the Mediterranean, which means it sees a lot of yachting traffic too.

Genoa’s most famous son is Christopher Columbus, who spent much of his childhood here, and it is still possible to visit his home in the city. The maze of tiny, narrow streets makes the historic center of Genoa a delight to wander around in, safe from traffic, and the series of UNESCO World Heritage-listed palaces will delight all who visit.

Foodies, too, will love Genoa. The region is the birthplace of pesto and focaccia bread, and it’s also a city where street food is awesome – a paper cone of freshly fried seafood is absolutely not to be missed. To learn more, consider a Genoa food tour .

There are walking tours and open-topped Hop on Hop off bus tours to explore, but this is also a city where it’s easy to wander and discover hidden areas. Endless pavement cafes, bars, and restaurants suit all budgets and rest from the day’s heat. Genoa also caters well with accommodation options from five-star hotels to hostels and apartment rentals – all types and budgets of travelers are catered for.

Portofino, Liguria

Portofino, Italy

Recommended by Alex and Leah on Tour

Portofino is an absolutely beautiful village on the Italian Riviera coastline in northern Italy. It’s extremely popular with celebrities worldwide, and once you visit, you’ll know why!

The best way to get to Portofino is by taking the train from Genoa to Saint Magherita before hopping on a direct bus to the village. The bus trip is an experience; snaking along the cliffside, you’ll see magnificent views across the Tyrrhenian Sea. 

Despite being a small fishing village, there is much more to do than meets the eye. Firstly, if you have the budget or just fancy a nose, you definitely need to pop into all the designer shops that line the cobbled street.

We’d then recommend going for a wander around the harbor before settling down for an alcoholic beverage, coffee, or even some food. Whilst (obviously) expensive, the food is fantastic, and you MUST have an Aperol Spritz!

If you’re more of an adventurer, you definitely need to hike up to Castelletto or Faro di Portofino, as the views are unbelievable.

Don’t worry if that doesn’t appeal to you; you can always sit on the edge of the Marina di Portofino pier, look back at Portofino’s beautiful, multi-colored buildings, and watch the world go by.

Cortina d’Ampezzo, Veneto

Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy (1)

Recommended by Morgan of Crave the Planet

You don’t have to be a mountaineer and eat dried food to experience out-of-this-world hiking with breathtaking views– even with your kids or mobility-impaired friends and family. Everyone should travel to Italy to experience the magnificent cities, but it’s a hustle and touristic bustle that can leave you or your family well-fed but drained. Cortina d’Ampezzo, nestled high in the Dolomites in northern Italy, is a must-see for people who love nature with a dose of good food and wine.

Fortunately, it’s only a 2-hour drive or bus ride from the international airport in Venice to the stunning mountain village of Cortina d’Ampezzo, filled with history, great food, and luxury spas. The incredible thing about Cortina d’Ampezzo and the Italian Dolomites is the chance to walk easily at high elevations with minimal effort and no special training.

Gondolas and chair lifts run in summer for those not inclined to hike to the top so that everyone can experience some of the most spectacular views in the world, like the Cinque Torri Rock formation.

Directly on these trails sit mountain huts called “rifugios,” like Rifugio Lagazuoi. These huts serve delicious cuisine, great local wines, and views that make you think you’re on top of the world.

Best things to do: Rent bikes, people watch in the village center, do an exciting Via Ferrata, do a day hike around Lago di Braies, or do a hut-to-hut hike and feel like a mountaineer without having to rough it by staying in gorgeous huts each night.

Cortina merges Italian and outdoor culture like no other place. It’s a great winter and summer destination for skiing, hiking, or doing a spa on the top of a mountain. Stay at Cristallo’s luxury spa overlooking Cortina d’Ampezzo, which has no details left out. It’s pure luxury.

Venice, Veneto

Venice, Italy

Recommended by Angela of Where Angie Wanders

Venice is a must-visit destination in northern Italy; once you have experienced its history and beauty, you will want to return time and time again. Italy’s floating city is the only place in the world fully pedestrianized, and the only traffic jams you will find here are caused by boats.

Getting around Venice by water can seem complicated on a first visit; however, with waterbuses, water taxis, and gondolas, you can be sure to get around the city easily and quickly. Arriving in the city center from the airport by water taxi is a fantastic experience reminiscent of a James Bond movie! Looking for somewhere to stay? Click here for places to stay while in Venice .

St. Mark’s Square is the main tourist area in Venice, and visitors arrive to admire the centuries-old Venetian/Roman architecture of St. Mark’s Basilica. In the square, you will also find the Bell Tower and Doges Palace. This area is always busy, but walk away from it, and within 10 minutes, you will find yourself in quiet backstreets where you can wander freely without the crowds.

Finding good Italian cuisine should definitely be on your Venice itinerary . Don’t buy food and drink in St. Mark’s Square – the prices are extortionate – instead, find one of the numerous cafes that sell cicchetti. This is the traditional food of Venice – similar to tapas – and can be accompanied by local wine. It is a cheap and tasty way of eating in Venice, with dishes usually costing no more than €2 each. Here’s a

If you have time, make a day trip from Venice to Burano, the Italian island famous for its incredible rainbow-colored houses, freshly caught fish, and lace-making.

Alba, Piedmont

Alba, Italy

Recommended by Denise of Chef Denise

Alba in the Piemonte region should be on your must-visit list when traveling to northern Italy. Just an hour and a half south of Turin, you will find some of the best wines of Italy and, of course, their world-famous white truffles. This picturesque village is easily walkable in an hour or two. This is definitely a foodie town with quaint squares, a pink church, and many restaurants.

The traditional dishes in Alba are not usually marinara sauce based. Think mushrooms, truffles, olive oil, and cream. You should not leave Alba without ordering a mouthwatering truffle dish unless you are allergic.

If truffles make you swoon, visiting the International White Truffle Fair from mid-October to mid-November is like a trip to heaven. Special dinners and tastings of these culinary diamonds abound.

But even if you cannot make it to the festival, truffles will be on offer at any time of year. Make sure to purchase some truffle oil and truffle paste to take home. They make great souvenirs and gifts and will last longer than any you buy at home.

Also, try one of the most famous dishes of Alba and the Piemonte region, Brasato al Barolo—tender beef marinated in Barolo wine with vegetables and herbs. If you think the wine can’t be good if they’re cooking with it, think again!

Alba is a great hub for visiting local wineries and enotecas (wine bars or shops). Barolo is not just a wine varietal; it’s a village and a short drive from Alba. You can easily visit Barolo and Barbaresco, where Nebbiolo grapes are grown in one day. Enjoy a beautiful ride through rolling hills and vineyards. Enjoy sipping the local wine, then stroll through the charming villages.

Val di Susa, Piedmont

Sacra di San Michele in Val di Susa Italy

Recommended by Linda of

Being the symbol of the Piedmont region, you will have to visit the impressive Sacra di San Michele when traveling in northern Italy. It is also known as Saint Michael’s Abbey. Sound familiar? That is because author Umberto Eco was inspired by the powerful abbey for his bestselling book “The Name of the Rose.” 

Located only 40km from Piedmont’s capital, Turin, the massive Sacra di San Michele is high above Susa Valley. At 962 meters above sea level, it is not only rich in history but also offers fantastic views of the Italian, Swiss, and French Alps—and even Turin. 

Built between 983 and 987, the ancient abbey had its best years in the 13 th century. During that time, there were about 1000 monks living in it permanently, plus pilgrims from the north traveling to Rome. 

Via the QR code on the self-guided tour, you will get all the essential and interesting information on the abbey’s history directly to your cell phone. This will allow you to discover the gigantic building at your own pace. 

You will pass the “stairways of the dead” to reach the main church from the 12 th century. Several members of the Savoy, one of the oldest royal families in the world, are buried in it.  

The Sacra di San Michele area offers some fantastic hiking trails and a via Ferrata for climbers. You will have outstanding views of the abbey, the valley, and the Alps.  

Turin, Piedmont

Turin, Italy

Recommended by Teresa

The first capital of the Kingdom of Italy was built between 1861 and 1865. Today, Turin is a fantastic city. Turin, located in Northern Italy, is a combination of various European styles and modernity that must be added to your bucket list. In the past, Turin was famous as the house of the Italian monarchy; today, it is famous for industries such as FIAT and many others.

The Chapel of the Holy Shroud is a really important cathedral famous for housing the Holy Shroud. The Pope decides when to expose the Holy Shroud, and the expositions usually last 45 days.

The most critical and principal square of Turin is San Carlo Square. The square is very nice and elegant, with two twin churches at the end, the Equestrian monument wanted by the leader of the Savoy dynasty in the middle and beautiful arcades with historical and chic cafes all around.

If you are looking for a breathtaking view and a splendid church, visit the Basilica of Superga.

The Egyptian Museum houses the most extensive collection of Egyptian antiquities. It was founded in 1894 by King Carlo Felice di Savoia and has grown.

The symbol of Turin is the Mole Antoneliana. From the top, you can have a 360-degree view, and inside, there is a stunning and exciting museum of cinema.

The Reggia di Venaria, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a beautiful day trip not too far away from Turin. You can spend a whole day wandering through rooms and the palace’s beautiful gardens.

Like all of Italy, Turin is known for its delicious food. Find a traditional restaurant and try the Agnolotti or the Vitello Tonnato, all accompanied by wine.

Val Chisone, Piedmont

Val Chisone Italy

Recommended by Linda of

When traveling in northern Italy, you will see several fascinating medieval forts and castles, but none is as impressive as the Forte di Fenestrelle. 

Located in the middle of beautiful Val Chisone, 85km west of Piedmont’s capital, Turin, the powerful fort can be admired from afar. It is the largest Alpine fortress in Europe! 

The fortified complex, covering an area of about 1.3 million square meters, consists of three different forts. They are joined by a tunnel inside the massive fortress wall, which runs the longest covered staircase in Europe. You will have to climb 4000 steps, 3km from Fort San Carlo in the valley to Fort delle Valli at 1800 meters above sea level, and overcome a 635-meter height difference. 

The mighty fortification, which was built starting in 1728, took 122 years to complete. It was intended to defend against foreign invasions, but it was mainly used as a garrison and prison. 

Abandoned after the Second World War, that outstanding construction can be visited today. There are full-day guided tours (only in Italian) or a short self-guided option. To experience and appreciate the dimension of that stunning building, you should combine an inside tour with a fantastic hike to Usseaux , one of the most beautiful villages in Piedmont. 

Lake Como, Lombardy

Lake Como Italy

Recommended by Krisztina of

If you’re looking for the best places to visit in Northern Italy, don’t miss out on Lake Como! This beautiful destination is perfect for a romantic getaway or a family vacation. With its stunning scenery and lovely towns, Lake Como will surely please everyone.

It’s one of the biggest lakes in Italy, and since it’s located only a one-hour train ride away from Milan, it’s a great day trip opportunity. However, if you want to explore the area properly, it’s worth spending at least 2-3 days at Lake Como.

Bellagio is one of the most popular towns on Lake Como, and it’s easy to see why. With its beautiful buildings and stunning views, Bellagio is a must-see when you’re in the area, and it’s also one of the best places for first-timers to stay in Lake Como. Be sure to walk around the town center to admire the architecture, and don’t forget to take a boat ride on the lake for some truly breathtaking views.

If you’re looking for a more low-key town, Tremezzo might be the place for you. This town is known for its pretty gardens, and it’s a great place to relax and take in the scenery. There are also some great restaurants here if you want to try some local cuisines.

Milan, Lombardy

Milan Cathedral Italy

Recommended by Greta of Greta’s Travels

If you’re looking for the best places to visit in Northern Italy, add Milano. Milano is known as the City of Fashion; it’s the economic capital of Italy and the capital of the Lombardy region of Italy.

Milan is an iconic destination, both for its historical and cultural aspects and the modern pull of fashion and innovation. From the new trendy skyscrapers of Piazza Gae Aulenti to the cobbled streets of Brera, Milan has something to offer every type of traveler.

You could live in Milan and still not see it all. However, most travelers consider one day in Milan a good amount. In one day, you’ll be able to see all the highlights of the city, starting from Piazza del Duomo and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, going on to Brera neighborhood, Castello Sforzesco, Arco della Pace, and then ending your day with a Milanese aperitivo at Navigli.

The best time to visit Milan is in late spring or early summer when the weather is good, the days are long, and you can easily get around the city on foot. You can still visit at other times of the year, but in summer, it gets very hot, and the weather in winter won’t make for a fun experience.

You can’t miss visiting the rooftop of the Duomo Cathedral . From here, you will get stunning views over the Piazza del Duomo and the rooftops of Milan. Head there at sunset for the most gorgeous golden light!

Bologna, Emilia-Romagna

Bologna Italy

Recommended by Lori of Italy Foodies

Bologna, in northern Italy, is known for its well-preserved medieval buildings and the magnificent UNESCO porticoes stretching across the city. But for all that, Bologna is also known as the “culinary capital of Italy” for producing some of the country’s most unique foods, including prosciutto, parmigiano reggiano cheese, and balsamic vinegar, all found locally on every menu.

The city is not as flashy as its neighbors, Florence and Venice, and therefore is undoubtedly one of Italy’s most under-visited cities. But there’s plenty to keep you occupied for a week or more.

A favorite activity is strolling the Piazza Maggiore in the heart of Bologna. Centuries-old medieval buildings, including the main cathedral, Basilica di San Petronio, surround the huge piazza. Here, you’ll find coffee shops and outdoor cafes serving pastries, sandwiches, and, of course, excellent regional wines.

If you’re a foodie, next door to the Piazza Maggiore is the oldest market in Bologna, the Quadrilatero, where you can walk the narrow cobblestone streets and shop for local Italian bread , meats, and cheeses or dine at some of the city’s best eateries.

Bologna once boasted 125 medieval towers, but only about 25 remain. One of the tallest is the Asinelli Tower, the only one you can climb—and you should! The panoramic views over Bologna are worth the climb.

Bologna is also home to fast-performance cars; a day trip to the “Motor Valley” should be on your list. The world headquarters of Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Maserati are fascinating places to visit for car buffs or anyone looking for a true Bolognese experience.

Visiting Northern Italy

Cinque Terre Italy

When planning a trip to northern Italy, there are many different cities and attractions that you must not miss. Milan, of course, is at the top of the list, with its beautiful architecture and buzzing cultural scene. There are also many lovely small towns in this region to explore.

And just outside of Milan is Lake Como, one of the most breathtaking destinations in the region. With its deep blue waters and snow-capped mountains in the distance, it is truly a sight to behold. Whether looking for great food and wine or incredible natural beauty, northern Italy is truly amazing!

This article originally appeared on Wander With Alex .


Northern Italy's Enchanting Escapes: 12 Unmissable Vacation Destinations

Alexandrea Sumuel is a nationally syndicated travel writer and founder of the Wander With Alex travel blog. Her work has appeared on MSN, YAHOO!, Euronews, and FOX, ABC, and NBC affiliates across the United States. 

Alex travels to experience, eat, explore, and occasionally escape! She collaborates with destinations, vacation property management companies, and hospitality technology firms to provide her readers with exclusive insights and information.

A first-timer's guide to Saskatoon, Canada

James March

Apr 26, 2024 • 6 min read

northern us cities to visit

From timing your visit right to planning your activities, here's our first-timer's guide to Saskatoon © K. D. Kirchmeier / Getty Images

Surrounded by gentle wheat fields beneath a dome of great prairie skies, Saskatoon is the largest city in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan .

Straddling the South Saskatchewan River, it has been the province’s cultural and economic hub since its settlement in the late 19th century (but not its capital – that falls to Regina).

The Northern Plains Indigenous Peoples had been guardians of this land for over 6000 years when, in 1883, white Methodists founded the town as a temperance colony, naming it after the purple berry growing in the region. While the railroad eventually reached the fledgling town in 1890, Saskatoon still only had 113 inhabitants at the turn of the century. A boom period of new settlers and entrepreneurs soon followed, and Saskatoon grew into a thriving city, albeit isolated from big cities like Vancouver , Toronto and Montréal .

Today, the sometimes stark prairie landscapes around the city look like nowhere else in the country. Downtown, you’ll find street art tours, compelling museums, craft beer breweries, a variety of architecture and some fine riverside trails. And Saskatoon now proudly explains and celebrates the Indigenous Peoples who have been here for thousands of years, with the Wanuskewen complex a majestic and poignant monument to that past and present.

These top tips can help you plan a trip to Saskatoon.

The night sky glows behind some riverside buildings following sunset

When should I go to Saskatoon?

Though Saskatoon – one of the sunniest cities in Canada  – receives plenty of sunlight (2350.4 hours annually), winters are long and cold so plan to visit during the glorious summer months between June and August. This is the busiest time of year, but since Saskatoon is a little more under-the-radar than other Canadian cities, it’s not overwhelmed by tourists and offers much better value for money regarding accommodation and eating out. 

The city comes alive with music on those effulgent summer days with magnificent festivals across multiple genres including the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival , Rock the River and the Ness Creek Music Festival . And for those who do want to embrace Saskatchewan winter scenes, the Nutrien Wintershines Festival hosts ice sculptures, cook-offs, stargazing and more. 

How long should I spend in Saskatoon?

Allow two to three days to explore Saskatoon, but also leave time for attractions on the city’s outskirts that make use of the abundant prairie space. You’ll spend the majority of your time in downtown Saskatoon, on the river trails and the Broadway neighborhood, which is ideal for a weekend. More planning is needed for the excursions out of the city, so map out an extra day or two for those depending on time and budget. 

Is it easy to get in and around Saskatoon?

Saskatoon John G. Diefenbaker International Airport is 7km (4 miles) northwest of downtown Saskatoon, which is about 18 minutes by taxi, the most convenient form of travel to any downtown hotel. The number 11 bus also runs from the airport, and takes around 30 minutes to make the same journey (without factoring in walking to the hotel).

Though its streets are wide, Saskatoon’s downtown core is highly walkable and there are several bridges spanning the South Saskatchewan River that link to Broadway Ave’s bars, cafes and stores. Consider hiring a bike too, as the relatively flat landscape and serpentine river trails are ideal for cycling. Visitors to Wanuskewen will need to hire a car or take a taxi.

Traveling elsewhere in Canada? Here are our top tips on transportation

A flat path alongside a river

6 of the best things to do in Saskatoon

1. explore the meewasin valley trail.

Saskatoon’s huge prairie skies are evocative and entice you outside, so the best way to experience the great outdoors here is by following some of the Meewasin Valley Trail . Flanking the serpentine river, the 25km (15 mile) trails are a fine introduction to Saskatoon’s cityscape, and are best experienced on two wheels (look out for the motivational chalk murals and messages along the way).

2. See artworks in the Remai Modern

The river winds south to River Landing in downtown’s southern tip, and it’s here that the Tetris-like Remai Modern  museum rises up on a small bluff. Alongside a permanent collection featuring over 8000 works from Canadian and international artists, there’s also a quirky permanent exhibition of ceramics and linocuts by Pablo Picasso in this spacious museum bursting with natural light. 

3. Enjoy the buss of Broadway Avenue

A short walk across the Broadway Bridge brings cinematic city views followed by a stroll into arguably the most vibrant corner of Saskatoon. Airy breweries , buzzing bistros, kitsch vinyl stores and the iconic Broadway Theatre fringe Broadway Ave, which is a fine spot to spend a morning, afternoon or evening (perhaps even all three?). 

4. Take yourself on a tour of downtown's murals and architecture

Back in downtown, discover an art-splashed city on a self-guided street art tour passing by huge murals and multicolored installations spanning 20th and 23rd Street East. Even if you’re not staying there, the Delta Bessborough Hotel is something of a work of art itself. Completed in 1935, the Bessborough is a soaring Châteauesque turreted and gabled affair reminiscent of Bavarian castles that looks startlingly out of place.

5. See how Saskatoon was

Towards the edge of the city, the Western Development Museum’s compelling Boomtown exhibit is an indoor reconstruction of a typical Saskatchewan small-town main street from 1910, complete with a blacksmith, church and train station.

6. Taste local produce at the farmers market

And for a true experience of this land, it’s worth a visit to the Saskatoon Farmers Market  – an institution running since 1975 and stuffed with vendors selling everything from wild berries to handmade moccasins.

A large building set in a bucolic landscape with a goose strolling in the foreground

My favorite thing to do in Saskatoon

There’s a magical quality to watching the sun sink behind the widescreen horizon at Wanuskewin Heritage Park . Not like the picture-postcard sunsets you see on Caribbean beaches, it’s more of a calming, spiritual feeling as the sun’s soft glow fades across the marshy creeks and wooded ridges of the Opamihaw Valley. Shortly after, I watched the moon rise against a blue evening canvas. Known as nēhiyawēwin in Plains Cree, Wanuskewin roughly translates to "seeking peace of mind" and that name couldn’t be more apt. 

Around 20 minutes north of downtown Saskatoon, Wanuskewin tells the story of the Northern Plains Indigenous People’s spiritual relationship to this land and the living creatures they share it with, most notably the repopulated bison. You can explore panels, artwork, interactive classes, traditional food and much more, but most importantly that story – which is never sugarcoated – is told by Indigenous People themselves. Few experiences I’ve had in North America have felt deeper and more enlightening than this one.

How much money do I need for Saskatoon?

  • Hostel room: $79
  • Hotel room for two: $94
  • Public transport ticket: $3
  • Coffee: $3.60
  • Sandwich: $3
  • Dinner for two: $73
  • Beer/pint at a bar: $5.80

Budget for your time in Canada with out money-saving tips

A riverside city in winter with snow covering the roads and bridges

Should I visit in winter?

With an average temperature of -13°C (8°F) in January, winter in Saskatoon is only for the hardiest of souls. However, one bonus of a visit in this season – along with budget-friendly prices – is the chance of seeing the northern lights, with the aurora's stunning swirls sometimes visible if the stars align (no pun intended). Just remember to pack plenty of layers.

What language is spoken in Saskatoon?

Though English and French are official languages in Saskatchewan, English is by far the most spoken language in Saskatoon and you’ll need it for all of your interactions. 

Explore related stories

northern us cities to visit

Destination Practicalities

Apr 29, 2024 • 5 min read

From outdoor summer excursions to spring festivals to winter fun, Canada merits a visit in any season. Here’s your full guide.

northern us cities to visit

Apr 16, 2024 • 8 min read

northern us cities to visit

Apr 13, 2024 • 8 min read


Apr 12, 2024 • 7 min read


Apr 11, 2024 • 6 min read

northern us cities to visit

Apr 11, 2024 • 10 min read

Couple running through Dublin's Temple Bar.

Mar 30, 2024 • 4 min read

Couple kayaking together in mangrove river on Islamorada, Florida Keys

Mar 26, 2024 • 6 min read

northern us cities to visit

Mar 24, 2024 • 7 min read


Mar 19, 2024 • 6 min read

From York to New York: Witness an across-the-seas handshake renewed Sunday

northern us cities to visit

Who hasn't heard of the "special relationship" between America and Britain?

The relationship that helps us win wars, share covert intelligence, and see each other's "Downton Abbey" and "Columbo"?

But special as that relationship is, there's one that's even more so. That's the relationship between New York and Old York.

"In one respect they are kind of chalk and cheese, yet there are all kinds of similarities," said the Rev. Carl Turner, rector of Saint Thomas Anglican Church in New York.

That imposing cathedral on Fifth Avenue will be the setting for a pageant, Sunday, aimed at renewing ties between the sister cities.

One hundred years later

It's a bookend to another event, 100 years ago, when the city of York did the same for us. We presented them with a plaque on that occasion. This time, York has sent us one.


Ours, bestowed July 16, 1924 and still to be seen in the guildhall at the city of York, in Northern England, reads: "THIS TABLET IS AFFECTIONATELY INSCRIBED AS AN EXPRESSION OF FRIENDSHIP AND GOOD WILL FROM HER GODCHILD IN AMERICA, THE CITY OF NEW YORK."

At 4 p.m. Sunday, Godparent and Godchild will splice hands once again — in a ceremony celebrating the "twinning" of the two cities, that will include The Right Honourable, The Lord Mayor of York, Chris Cullwick, and New York City Mayor Eric Adams. "The Lord Mayor will be sitting next to the mayor," Turner said. "Chris Cullwick will be in his medieval robes, and Eric Adams will be sitting next to him. Probably without any robes."

Also present will be Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of New York, and Hannah Young, British Consul General to New York, who will read a message from His Majesty King Charles III. The Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys will sing hymns all native to Yorkshire's cathedral city.

You can see the event streamed here .

“York and New York City have had an enduring relationship over the past century," Young said. "These two cities have formed a unique bond."

Ties that bind

It's a bond that might seem surprising — given some major differences between the two burgs.

York has a population of 142,000. New York has a population of 8.3 million.

York, from the old Norse Jórvík — boar — was founded between 8000 and 7000 BC. New York only goes as far back as 1625. Technically, only to 1664, when the Dutch city of Nieuw Amsterdam was renamed New York in honor of The Duke of York (later James II of England).

In York, they eat pudding. In New York, we eat pizza.

Yet what we have in common may be greater still.

"Both are cultural hubs," said Turner, who grew up in nearby Kingston upon Hull.

"Even though [York] is a small place, it's a vibrant place where people have come from many cultures, many backgrounds, many ethnicities, many faiths," he said. "York has been a place, since medieval days, for the making of music and drama and art."

Both are theater towns. They, since the 1300s, have had the famous York Mystery Plays, performed on pageant wagons. We have "Wicked."

Both cities are a crossroads for immigrants. "Britain is the last destination for people trekking all across Europe who are fleeing war and poverty," Turner said. "They're risking their lives to cross from the channel to Britain. Which is very reminiscent of the way people came to New York. This is where they arrived to make their new lives."

And both cities are centers of finance. The Company of Merchant Adventurers, an English trading company founded in 1407, has a medieval guildhall in York.

"Those were the people who went out in medieval times to make money," Turner said. "We have some of the company of Merchant Adventurers coming to New York, and there will be people who work in Wall Street who will be sitting next to them. These are people who represent the origins of venture capitalism. Which of course has really taken off in New York, one of the financial capitals of the world."

What the times demand

Ceremonies like this one, Sunday, are needed now more than ever, Turner said. "This is celebrating all we have in common, this friendship across the miles, and those bonds of affection we need to strengthen, at a time when there is so much that is negative and violent in the world."

Just how enduring is the bond between York and New York? So enduring that even Adolf Hitler couldn't destroy it.

In 1942, when Hitler began his so-called "Baedeker raids," a campaign of bombing British historic landmarks (it was revenge for the RAF's bombing of Lübeck), York with its famous cathedral was one of the targeted towns. The historic guildhall was a casualty. "The guildhall was actually burned to the ground," Turner said.

One of the few features that was spared: New York's 1924 friendship plaque.

"The walls survived, but all those ancient wood pillars that were 100 years old were all destroyed," he said. "The thing that wasn't destroyed was the bronze plaque.”

  • International edition
  • Australia edition
  • Europe edition

Young people outside brightly paited doors

A trail of two cities: an alternative guide to Salford and Manchester

Sunday’s Sounds from the Other City festival is a joyful celebration of Greater Manchester’s leftfield culture

O n the first Sunday of May every year, Chapel Street, where central Manchester and Salford meet, comes alive with DIY art, music and spectacle at the Sounds from the Other City festival. It is a vibrant public celebration of the “community spirit and collaborative working” which co-director Emma Thompson says sustains much alternative culture in the region.

“Collaboration is core to what we do, to Greater Manchester as a city,” Thompson says. “People come together, and it crosses genres and art forms. Sounds from the Other City wouldn’t be turning 20 next year if it wasn’t for that. The fees we offer aren’t huge but people really get behind it, do it for the love of it.”

Thompson is forthright about the challenges facing those making experimental art: “It’s precarious. It feels unstable.” Costs are high, affordable space is scarce, funding is “very competitive”. Such forces are reshaping the creative landscape, literally. Manchester’s Northern Quarter still has its quirkier, arty hangouts, but generic bars and restaurants dominate. Leftfield culture is migrating to the city’s edges – or into Salford.

For the past 18 months, the band WH Lung have been based at Salford’s Islington Mill, a complex of artist-maker studios. Keyboard player Tom Sharkett says that a time when, in many ways, you’d “have to be mad” to pursue a life in music and art, it is inspirational to be surrounded by people “doing cool stuff for the right reasons”.

Opened in 2000, Islington Mill has latterly expanded into new buildings, including an adjacent trading estate. “The Mill feels like it’s taken on a new life. It feels strong,” says Sharkett. That’s also true of wider Manchester and Salford’s creative vigour. The obstacles are many, but the urge to make great art endures.

Music and nightlife

DJs and purple lighting

Arguably, Manchester music is as vibrant right now as at any point post-punk – from Anz to Space Afrika, Blackhaine to Sockethead, Mandy, Indiana to Michael J Blood. Much of that is down to the nurturing influence of The White Hotel , a former garage near Strangeways prison. In contrast with the bland gentrification of modern Manchester, this singular entity (grimy location, great sound, art school ethos, all-night-rave energy) has created space for new music to grow. “It’s a really important space,” says Thompson.

In the Northern Quarter, but in similar creative territory, club and gig venue Soup proves that all you need is a basement, a red light and, as well as a feeling, a programme that challenges its audience.

Other city-centre venues that defy convention include punk and indie haven the Star & Garter , Aatma , the Peer Hat and Peste (see Drink section below). But interesting things increasingly happen just outside the centre, often in unexpected places.

Two of Manchester’s vital grassroots venues – the Old Abbey Taphouse , on a science park in Hulme, south of the city centre; and DBA on Cheetham Hill to the north – are historic pubs that now double as club and music venues. “Stood outside the DBA,” says Sharkett, of this traditional Victorian boozer, “you wouldn’t have a clue what’s going on in there.” He once took veteran Glaswegian DJs Optimo in: “They’ve seen it all, but loved it.”

In these relatively obscure corners, music is encouraged to get weird: at warehouse venue Hidden ; Salford’s Eagle Inn ; the musically out-there N/OM ; the Yard ; and Partisan at Islington Mill. Affordable, inclusive and home to “a huge array” of LGBTQ+ events, the Partisan collective is one of the city’s most exciting venues, according to Thompson. “It’s a glorious place.”

Arts and culture

Queer Lit bookshop exterior

At 24 years young, Salford’s Islington Mill remains an essential creative hub. Its public events are led by Partisan, which hosts club nights, exhibitions, discussion groups and creative workshops, and “radioactive queer bar” Mirage . This bar-gallery-event space is home to genre-fluid evenings of art, performance and experimental music, from outfits including Kunstlicker and Short Supply .

Also in Salford, artists’ studio space Paradise Works regularly hosts exhibitions (entry by appointment), as does Oceans Apart , a contemporary painting gallery at OA Studios (by appointment, mainly weekends).

In central Manchester, visitors might spot pop-up exhibitions in multi-use spaces such as Studio Bee . HappeningInMCR curates a “micro-gallery” at alternative shopping emporium Affleck’s Palace , and the foyer of the Great Northern Warehouse leisure complex (already home to a collection of artist Stanley Chow’s illustrations) will soon feature work from 30 creatives based on site at GRIT Studios MCR ’s new space.

For more established contemporary art there is Castlefield Gallery , currently celebrating its 40th anniversary, and ESEA Contemporary , which showcases work of east and south-east Asian heritage. Jane Jin Kaisen ’s current Halmang exhibition explores themes provoked by the female seafood divers of South Korea’s Jeju island.

Book lovers in the Northern Quarter can explore LGBTQ+ bookshop Queer Lit , or Anywhere Out Of the World , which focuses on philosophy and poetry – and hosts similarly thought-provoking music events on its upper floor. Nearby, Village Books is a feast of pop-cultural periodicals and ’zines and houses a neat basement exhibition space.

Gulliver’s pub exterior at night

Eager to drink different? You are in the right cities. There are exceptional cocktails at Schofield’s (currently number one on the UK Top 50 Cocktails Bars list); natural wine at KERB and Flawd ; and incredible beer at Port Street Beer House , the Marble Arch or Smithfield Market Tavern . Further off-piste, the trading estate behind Manchester’s Piccadilly Station (dubbed the Beermuda Triangle by resident brewery Sureshot ) is home to tap rooms from Track , Cloudwater and funky, mixed fermentation explorers Balance Brewing & Blending .

Want some cultural stimulation with your pint? In Salford, the Kings Arms is a real ale pub and theatre; YES is a student-friendly complex of bars, gig venues, DJs and pizza; and there is storied underground record shop, Eastern Bloc . By night, the latter morphs into a late bar for techno larks. Prefer guitars? Head to Oldham Street pub and music venues Gullivers , the Castle Hotel and cafe-bar Night & Day , which recently resolved its noise complaint issues with Manchester city council.

Newer venues include the Peer Hat , a brilliantly ramshackle boho pub and basement venue geared to marginal scenes. It is an all-ages refuge from the shinier, more commercial aspects of the Northern Quarter – somewhere, says Thompson, that promoters can put on weird, noisy stuff. “It’s intimate enough you can have 20 people in and it feels great. You can experiment. You need that.”

A little way north on the edge of Ancoats, White Hotel spin-off O! Peste Destroyed is a handsomely styled (ecclesiastical chic) bar, record and bookshop devoted to head-stretching work, with exhibitions and art installations in its basement. On Fridays, DJ Conor Thomas leads drinkers on ear-opening excursions into downtempo electronics, frazzled pop-edits and all points in between. A1 cocktails served by friendly bar staff complete this gem of a bar.

Pollen bakery exterior

Manchester’s food scene is growing at astonishing speed, with distinctive independents frequently setting the pace. A medium wrap from Go Falafel is still the best way to spend £5.50 in the Northern Quarter. The meat-free half of the menu at nearby Asmara Bella , a cosy, laid-back Eritrean and Ethiopian bistro, is a similar flavour-packed boon for vegans and vegetarians, as is Piccadilly’s Bundobust , with its Gujarati sharing plates.

Idle Hands has you covered for coffee and brunch. Pollen bakery-cafes are also good. Across town, Grub , hidden in an old light-industrial unit, is a bar and creative events space (home, for example, to Cultplex cinema and classes from Floating Art ) and hosts street-food traders in its quirky, upcycled beer garden.

For something more refined, Another Hand on Deansgate Mews offers stellar plates of roasted cabbage in cider, smoked mussel and pancetta cream, or butter bean cacio e pepe . At nearby Exhibition , there is food from three different kitchens, including Baratxuri, a compelling homage to the Basque Country.

Higher Ground is arguably Manchester’s most singular dining experience. Using heritage and rare-breed ingredients from small producers (including Higher Ground’s partner, Cheshire market garden Cinderwood), chef Joe Otway creates dishes – coal-roasted pork, yellow peas and sprouting cabbage, or leek with smoked cod’s roe and thyme – which, although simple in outline, are generous, surprising and flavour intense.

An apartment at Native Manchester

Set around an impressive, five-floor atrium within Ducie Street Warehouse , Native Manchester ’s 162 aparthotel rooms are modish, comfortable spaces. The keen aesthetic (post-industrial via Copenhagen) continues into the buzzy, ground-floor public areas. DJs soundtrack the weekend and spaces host events ranging from film screenings to pop-up vintage sales. Doubles from £100 B&B.

Also convenient for the Northern Quarter, Cow Hollow is a stylish, 16-bed boutique bolthole. Clever use is made of the building’s 19th-century industrial heritage, with ironworks and winding gears incorporated as features. Its small, glamorous bar evokes Rimini or Ibiza Town. Doubles from £99 B&B.

Sounds From The Other City is on 5 May , tickets £40 plus booking fee

  • Manchester holidays
  • City breaks
  • England holidays
  • Cultural trips
  • Food and drink
  • Short breaks
  • Weekend breaks

Most viewed

northern us cities to visit

Best places to see the Northern Lights around the world – and when to visit

O ne of the world’s most famous natural sights, the Northern Lights attract people to areas around the Arctic in hopes of seeing the rare display.

Caused by the redirection of particles from the sun that hit the Earth’s atmosphere, the stunning atmospheric phenomenon is seen as the Holy Grail of skywatching and mostly occurs in areas around Norway , Finland , Sweden and Greenland.

The lights can be seen in other parts of the world; the UK has even had sightings in Scotland, Merseyside and Wales this winter during a period of heightened geomagnetic activity.

Unfortunately, such sightings are rare and most people wanting to see the aurora borealis (the scientific name for the phenomenon, coined by Galileo Galilei) will have to travel further north.

To help you in your quest to see the spectacular light show, we’ve put together a list of the best places for seeing the Northern Lights and when to go to maximise your chances.

Read more on travel inspiration :

  • Ghostbusters is turning 40 – so I explored the streets of New York like one
  • Where’s hot in June? Best destinations for summer sun to escape the crowds
  • Barcelona for Valencia and other holiday swaps to make to avoid the crowds

Tromso, Norway

Tromso sits at the centre of the Northern Lights’ oval, meaning that the lights can be visible even when activity is low. According to the tourism website, Tromso is “one of the places in the world with the highest probability of seeing the lights”, and there is “always a good chance of seeing” them between September and April.

Temperatures are moderated by the Norwegian Sea and westerly winds, meaning that they are much milder than usual for the latitude, with averages of between 2C and -1C during peak viewing times (compared to Svalbard, where the average January high is -13C).

When to visit Tromso

Your best chance of seeing the lights in Tromso is between September and April, when the skies are dark enough for them to be visible.

Svalbard, Norway

This Norwegian archipelago is home to more polar bears than people and experiences harsh winters, with the sun not properly rising over the horizon between mid-November and mid-January.

While the islands do not experience total darkness (and therefore you aren’t guaranteed to see the lights), the main island, Spitsbergen, hosts several different types of expedition to give you the best chance of catching the phenomenon. If you’re lucky, you may even see some polar wildlife such as reindeer, Arctic foxes and walruses too.

When to visit Svalbard

The lights season here is slightly shorter than in Tromso, running from September until the middle of March. The best time of day to try and see the lights is between 6pm and midnight.

Rovaniemi, Finland

Located in Finnish Lapland, Rovaniemi markets itself as the ‘Official Home of Santa Claus’ and contains a Santa Claus Village and Santa Park. The Northern Lights are visible here on “around 150 nights a year” from August, and the tourism websites provides ideas for nearby locations to view them.

Among its suggestions are the Arctic Garden (a 10-minute walk away) and the top of Ounasvaara fell (a longer, 45-minute walk from the town). Among other snow-based activities – such as sledding – you can join snowmobile trips and ice floating tours as special ways to enjoy the lights.

When to visit Rovaniemi

Rovaniemi is one destination where the lights season is exceptionally long, running from late August to early April. However, the best time to visit is during the Polar Night period, from mid-November to mid-January.

Reykjavik, Iceland

Iceland is located roughly 65 degrees north, making the country an excellent option for those trying to see the Northern Lights. They can be viewed in several locations, such as Thingvellir National Park or Kirkjufell Mountain, but the best place to stay when visiting has to be Reykjavik . The Icelandic capital is a typical Nordic city in style and acts as an excellent base for seeing the natural sights of the country in the day before going on a guided trip to see the lights by night.

When to visit Reykjavik

Iceland has a fairly typical length to its lights season, running from September to April.

Abisko, Sweden

Situated in Swedish Lapland, right at the heart of the aurora oval, Abisko National Park receives no light pollution and has one of the lowest rainfall climates in the Nordic area. With many surrounding mountains to keep the skies clear, Abisko also offers the chance to try out several activities such as snowmobiling, fishing and hiking.

The Aurora Sky Station markets itself as “the best place on Earth to experience Northern Lights”, but it seems that this confidence isn’t unfounded: if you were to stay for three nights in Abisko, you’d have an 88 per cent chance of seeing the lights, while the government website also claims that the area sometimes receives “more than two weeks of consecutive northern lights nights”.

When to visit Abisko

Maximise your chances of catching the lights by visiting between mid-September and early March.

Yukon, Canada

With a land area of 483,450sqkm, the Yukon is a vast region which is almost as large as the entirety of Spain. Roughly 80 per cent of the territory is wilderness; it’s home to the longest river in Canada , the second tallest peak in North America (Mount Logan, at 5,959m high), the smallest desert in the world (Carcross, at 1.6sqkm) and dozens of animal species, from moose to brown bears.

With this in mind, while exploring on your own may be tempting, when it comes to viewing the lights you’re best off booking a tour. It’s a good idea to base yourself in Whitehorse (the capital, with a population of just over 28,000), where guided tours will take you to nearby spots to give you the best chance of seeing the light show.

When to visit Yukon

Another place with a lights season lasting nearly eight months, Yukon’s most active time for light displays is between October and mid-November.

Ilulissat, Greenland

The most sparsely populated country in the world, Greenland offers the chance to see the lights with uninterrupted calm and tranquility. With a population of just under 5,000 people, Ilulissat is “rich in Inuit history” and is home to “millions of icebergs”. Low levels of light pollution and many clear nights will offer a good chance of seeing the lights during your stay.

With a population of just over 500, locations such as Kangerlussuaq also offer good opportunities to see the lights but may be too remote for some.

With three new airports coming to the island , access will soon be easier than ever.

When to visit Ilulissat

Along with the rest of Greenland, Ilulissat has a fairly typical season, lasting from September to March.

Outer Hebrides, Scotland

Home to “some of the darkest skies in the UK”, some of the islands in the Outer Hebrides sit on the same latitude as parts of Norway and Alaska . The aurora has been seen as far south as Edinburgh , but the islands of Lewis, Harris, Uist and Barra are your best chance for seeing the lights in the UK .

More accessible than most of the other locations on this list, the islands are also generally an excellent spot for seeing different astronomical sights, such as the Orion Nebula, the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy.

When to visit the Outer Hebrides

Lights season in these islands runs from September to April, although the best time to see the lights is during the Equinox and Solstice, so between March and April and September and October respectively.

Fairbanks, Alaska, USA

The second largest city (by population) in Alaska, Fairbanks is situated near the centre of the state and is home to just over 32,000 people. Located on a similar latitude to Iceland, conditions here are perfect for viewing the lights: dark skies, dry conditions and a lack of light pollution.

One of the main benefits of Fairbanks (versus some other locations on the list) is the fact that you don’t even have to leave the city to see the lights, and as a major settlement, all the necessary amenities are available alongside the many tours on offer.

When to visit Fairbanks

The season here lasts slightly longer than usual, stretching from late August to April.

Finnish Lapland

While Rovaniemi has already been mentioned on this list, there are so many worthy destinations in Finnish Lapland that the entire area has to be recommended. Levi is the largest ski resort in Finland but is less crowded than other European resorts, and offers the chance to see the lights on snowmobiles or on reindeer-drawn sleighs. Harriniva is another resort that offers similar activities, with the Muonio River adding another scenic touch. Saariselka offers a different, village setting with excellent spots for viewing the lights only half a kilometre away.

When to visit Finnish Lapland

The official Finnish tourism website states that the best times to see the lights are in autumn and spring, at the beginning and the end of the season, with the season itself running from mid-August until early April.

Seeking a digital detox? Here’s how to go phone-free in Finland

The Independent is the world’s most free-thinking news brand, providing global news, commentary and analysis for the independently-minded. We have grown a huge, global readership of independently minded individuals, who value our trusted voice and commitment to positive change. Our mission, making change happen, has never been as important as it is today.



  1. USA tourist map

    northern us cities to visit

  2. Most Northern Cities in the USA on a map

    northern us cities to visit

  3. 12 Beautiful Places You Must Visit In The Northeast of The USA

    northern us cities to visit

  4. 12 Beautiful Places You Must Visit In The Northeast of The USA

    northern us cities to visit

  5. 12 Beautiful Places You Must Visit In The Northeast of The USA

    northern us cities to visit

  6. Top 5 places to see autumn foliage in North America

    northern us cities to visit


  1. 18 Best Places to Visit in the Northeast, USA

    13. Burlington, Vermont. Vermont's biggest city is one of the top places to visit in the northeast, located right along Lake Champlain. This beautiful city is located in the northern part of the state, so it receives lots of snow, making it truly a winter wonderland in the colder part of the year.

  2. 13 Most Charming Cities in the Northern United States

    Additionally, one of Madison's best places to visit is the Memorial Union Terrace for live music events while chilling on the shore of Lake Mendota. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania ... Ultimately this list of the most charming cities in the northern United States offers a wide range of the best cities to visit, relocate, or plan a road trip to. ...

  3. 18 Northeast Destinations That Will Take Your Breath Away

    The 18 Best Places to Visit in the Northeast. The Northeast is home to world-famous cities and districts, like New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, and the nation's capital, Washington D.C. These cities are filled with historic landmarks that link the present to the country's nearly 250-year history.

  4. The Ultimate Northern US Road Trip

    The route hangs in the northern US going through New England, a touch of southern Canada, the upper Midwest, big sky country and terminating in the Pacific Northwest. Your primary route will be US Highway 2, otherwise known as the Great Northern road, which spans over 2,500 miles. 01of 09.

  5. Northeast USA Road Trip Itinerary: Where to Go & What to See in Two

    See it all on an epic Northeast USA road trip. The Northeast nuzzles into the northeastern tip of the continental US, stretching along the east coast and to the Canadian border. The region comprises nine states: Maine, New York, New Jersey, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania.

  6. Best Places to Visit in the Northeast: The 9 Cutest Towns to See

    Sugar Hill, New Hampshire. Tucked away in New Hampshire's rugged White Mountains, with stunning scenic views (especially come fall), hole-in-the-wall antique shops, and a population that hovers around just 560, Sugar Hill has all the trappings of a quintessential New England town. Swing by in June to catch the annual Celebration of Lupines ...

  7. 15 Places you need to visit in the Northeast U.S.

    Photo: Ashley Stimpson. Visiting this easily accessible waterfall is the perfect way to get a quick nature fix and enjoy the natural beauty of this photo-worthy spot. After enjoying the falls, take a two-mile loop hike through the woods to admire glimpses of the Susquehanna River. 15. Rose Valley Lake.

  8. 9 Most Scenic Northern United States Towns

    Decorah, Iowa. Summer at the fish hatchery in Decorah, Iowa. The scenic town of Decorah, Iowa, is filled with springs, cliffs, waterfalls, and caves. The Upper Iowa River splits the town in two: on one side is downtown Water Street, highlighted by the Norwegian-American Museum and Folk Art School, and on the other is suburban natural beauty.

  9. Top Road Trip Routes in the Northeastern US

    View Map. Address. 585 NY-97, Sparrow Bush, NY12780, USA. Phone +1 866-511-8372. Web Visit website. If you've seen those car commercials that show a slick vehicle navigating a wildly undulating mountain road, there's a good chance it was State Route 97 in the Upper Delaware River Valley of Upstate New York.

  10. The Best Cross-country U.S. Road Trip: Northern Route

    Stay at the Bavarian Inn, about a 40-minute drive from Mount Rushmore National Memorial, one of the most iconic monuments in the U.S. Once you've taken enough photos of the four presidents ...

  11. The 12 Best small towns in The Northern United States To Chill Out

    The Northern United States is a beautiful way to see the country and experience its total seasonal changes. Because these high-latitude positions feature impressively diverse weather systems, planning ahead is key. In the summer, you can view the sights in gondolas, see live shows, and have picnics near the water.

  12. Top 10 Places to Visit in Northern USA

    Top 10 Places to Visit in Northern USA. Adventure & Outdoors Cities North America Travel Tips USA Top 10 Places to Visit in Northern USA. by Inspire Your Trip April 10, 2022 May 15, ... that's reason enough for us to hop off in "land of sky-tinted water". 8. Glacier National Park.

  13. 10 Great North American Cities You Probably Haven't Seen ...

    It's also probably the best place in the US to sip an umbrella cocktail overlooking the water. The Ohio River Sternwheel Festival in Marietta. Bruce Wunderlich. Marietta, Ohio. Marietta is the ...

  14. 30 of the Best Cities in North America to Visit

    Washington DC, District of Columbia. Jefferson Memorial at Washington DC by CS Ginger. Contributed by Candice from CS Ginger. Washington DC is one of the best cities in North America to visit because of its rich historical sites and ties to current events in the United States.

  15. Best Places to Visit in the USA for 2023-2024

    Glacier National Park. #1 in Best Places to Visit in the USA for 2023-2024. Glaciers are the main draw of this Montana national park, but its more than 700 lakes, two mountain ranges and multiple ...

  16. The 18 Best Places to See the Northern Lights

    Located about 220 miles above the Arctic Circle, Tromsø is one of several top spots to view the northern lights in Norway. At the darkest point of the aurora season - which runs from September ...

  17. 24 Places To Visit In Northern America 2024

    1. Washington. 4.5 /5. 1 out of 24 Places To Visit in Northern America. The Capital of United States, Washington, DC is a legatee of neoclassic beauty. A city which is not only famous for its museums and monuments, but also for the cultural style it embosses with its nightlife, performing art venues and trendy shops.

  18. Where to See the Northern Lights in the United States

    With that in mind, here are eight of the best places to spot the northern lights in the U.S. 1. Idaho. When geomagnetic storms are big enough, the northern lights can be visible as far south as ...

  19. 11 Destinations Way Up North In Minnesota That Are So Worth The Drive

    Here are our 11 favorite destinations way up north in Minnesota that are so worth the drive. 1. Boundary Waters. The Boundary Waters is one of the most beautiful places in the entire United States. With over 1 million acres of pristine northern wilderness, it's the perfect place to get away from it all.

  20. The best places to see the Northern Lights in the U.S.

    10. Denali National Park, Alaska. There's a reason a photo of the Northern Lights, as seen in Denali National Park, is featured on the National Park Services' overview web page on the Aurora ...

  21. Visit the USA: 5 Places with Great Views of the Northern Lights

    With nearly 2.5 million hectares of untouched wilderness, Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska, located about 383 kilometers north of Anchorage, is a favorite destination for campers and hikers because of its wide open spaces, beautiful mountain vistas and abundant wildlife.The park is also one of the best places in the U.S. to see the northern lights, thanks to the lack of light pollution.

  22. Best Summer Vacations in the USA for 2024

    Kiawah Island. #6 in Best Summer Vacations in the USA for 2024. Located about 20 miles outside of historic Charleston, South Carolina, Kiawah Island boasts 10 miles of sandy beaches, 30-plus miles ...

  23. 38 Places in the US Every American Should Visit

    24/7 Tempo has compiled a list of places in the U.S. every American should visit. These places of interest run the gamut from national parks to museums to sites where Americans can reflect on the ...

  24. 8 Best Small Towns To Visit In The Northern United States

    Palisades State Park is in South Dakota by Garretson. Camping and outdoor enthusiasts will find their perfect getaway in Garretson, South Dakota. Home to a handful of campgrounds, state parks, and stunning pink quartzite rocks, Garreston offers an abundance of natural beauty for visitors to admire. The town is also known for its ties to the ...

  25. Best places to visit in Northern California in summer and early fall

    Hetch Hetchy remains a stunning valley despite the reservoir, and a hike up the trail on the north side of the lake offers amazing vistas and waterfalls like Tueeulala and Wapama Falls, almost the ...

  26. Northern Italy: 12 Amazing Places to Vacation in the Region

    Vernazza is the most beautiful of all the towns, with a smaller beach to swim in and a piazza to view the harbor below. Sitting as the highest of all five villages, visitors will need to climb over 300 steps to reach the town center of Corniglia. Visit Gelateria Corniglia to find the best gelato.

  27. A first-timer's guide to Saskatoon, Canada

    Though Saskatoon - one of the sunniest cities in Canada - receives plenty of sunlight (2350.4 hours annually), winters are long and cold so plan to visit during the glorious summer months between June and August. This is the busiest time of year, but since Saskatoon is a little more under-the-radar than other Canadian cities, it's not ...

  28. Sister cities NY and York, England are renewing ties. Here's how

    New York has a population of 8.3 million. York, from the old Norse Jórvík — boar — was founded between 8000 and 7000 BC. New York only goes as far back as 1625. Technically, only to 1664 ...

  29. A trail of two cities: an alternative guide to Salford and Manchester

    Manchester's Northern Quarter still has its quirkier, arty hangouts, but generic bars and restaurants dominate. Leftfield culture is migrating to the city's edges - or into Salford.

  30. Best places to see the Northern Lights around the world

    Iceland. is located roughly 65 degrees north, making the country an excellent option for those trying to see the Northern Lights. They can be viewed in several locations, such as Thingvellir ...