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From the Adirondacks to the Rockies, these charming mountain towns deserve a moment in the sun. If you’re planning a visit, consider a vacation rental from FlipKey—like a cozy cabin right on the hiking trails or a modern ski condo.
In a land with hundreds of individual mountain ranges and endless acres of national forests, some of the most exciting vacation destinations in the US boast skylines that haven’t changed in centuries. Home to craggy peaks with steep trails, twisting singletracks and swirling whitewater, this country’s beautiful little mountain towns deserve their own moment in the sun. That’s why we’re featuring 24 scenic communities—each home to less than 10,000 residents—with serious four-season appeal and tons of small-town charm.
What Bryson City lacks in size, it makes up for in towering peaks, panoramic views and big natural attractions (namely, the Great Smoky Mountains). For hiking and biking enthusiasts, the Appalachian Trail and Tsali Mountain Biking Recreation Area are both nearby, but the city itself is better known for another outdoor activity: epic whitewater rafting. Don’t miss the opportunity to face some huge drops and rapids on the Nantahala River. Of course, if you prefer to stay on dry land, you can always browse the handcrafted items on display in the area’s artisan-run shops.
Ely is a small town that’s easy to overlook: northern Minnesota, population 3,460, set against the stunning backdrop of the Shagawa Lake. So how did it end up on this list of stunning mountain vacations? We’ve got a few good reasons, starting with the town’s recent renaissance and an upswing in tourism. From ice fishing and dogsledding in the winter to late summer canoeing and early autumn hiking, this hidden-gem outdoors hub has a lot to offer, and travelers are taking note.
For cliffside Victorian homes, quaint galleries and boutiques, meandering mountain roads and 25 miles of backwoods trails, rent a historic home in Eureka Springs and start exploring the Ozarks. This popular mountain vacation destination is surrounded by natural attractions including three lakes, two rivers and a number of public caves, so canoeing, kayaking, fishing and hiking abound. But the fun doesn’t stop after summer ends; nearby spas and outstanding exhibits at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art make Eureka Springs an enchanting winter escape.
In 2015, two local spots merged to create Park City Mountain Resort, now the largest ski resort in the country. Add 7,300 skiable acres to the 400+ miles of trails accessible to hikers and bikers during the summer, and you’ll understand why this city is a buzzworthy destination year-round. (Of course, if you’re looking to save a little money, steer clear mid-winter when the Sundance Film Festival comes to town.) If hitting the slopes—or trails—isn’t your definition of a good time, the restaurants, galleries and luxe boutiques on Main Street won’t disappoint.
Given West Virginia’s nickname (“The Mountain State”) and motto (“Mountaineers are Always Free”), the state’s rugged peaks are an essential part of its heritage—just as much as the small towns nestled in the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountain ranges. Fayetteville is one of those charming destinations, home to the oldest river on the continent and the world’s second-longest single arch bridge. Aside from the region’s legendary whitewater rafting, Fayetteville is also known for rock climbing, llama treks(!) and Bridge Day, an annual October festival and sporting event centered around BASE jumping.
Gatlinburg is practically synonymous with Great Smoky Mountains National Park and those iconic misty mountain ridges. It’s a regional hub for whitewater rafting, horseback riding, ziplining and a long list of other popular outdoor activities; visit in the winter, and you can even fly down the slopes at Ober Gatlinburg, Tennessee’s only ski resort. Beyond the scenery, though, this entertaining mountain vacation town is known for its boutiques, live bluegrass and a surprising number of distilleries. Ever wondered what apple pie moonshine tastes like? You can sample it here. Make a day trip of it and book yourself a moonshine and wine tasting tour.
Homer has its fair share of nicknames: “Halibut Fishing Capital of the World.” “Cosmic Hamlet by the Sea.” “The End of the Road.” But make no mistake about that last one: this destination is not a dead end. Hemmed in by the mountains and the sea, Homer boasts the best of both worlds, so you can go hiking on Kenai Peninsula trails in the morning and sea kayaking on the Kachemak Bay in the afternoon. Well on its way to becoming the state’s adventure tourism capital, the quaint and quirky mountain town lures Alaskans and out-of-state travelers alike with its mild climate, jaw-dropping scenery, excellent fishing and prime bear viewing opportunities. You can even book a six-hour grizzly bear-spotting tour, including a thrilling plane ride and a hike to get a closer look at these fascinating creatures.
Hood River has been called both “a recreational boomtown” and “an agricultural powerhouse,” because the Columbia River port city is equally famous for its strong winds (a windsurfer’s dream) and good fruit. Located an hour east of Portland, where the Columbia River Gorge meets the Cascade Mountain Range, the area boasts some of the best windsurfing in the world and 15,000 acres of orchards—plus microbreweries, top-notch cycling, scenic gorges and balmy temperatures nearly year-round. Pair a leisurely cycle with some first-rate wine tasting on the Oregon Wine Country Experience, a guided cycle stopping at three wineries and offering some of the area’s best views.
Whether you’re a daredevil biker, skier or mountaineer, it’s about time you (ahem) caught up with Ketchum—the self-described home of “one of the lowest resting heart rates anywhere.” Once a Wild West mining center, this central Idaho town is just one mile from Sun Valley, the first American ski resort. Naturally, skiing is an essential part of the fabric of the community (and with 250 days of sunshine each year, it’s not a bad place to visit if you’re craving a little fresh air). Reserve a cabin rental or luxury lodge and prepare for an epic outdoor adventure.
Best known for its namesake resort, Killington boasts 6 peaks, 22 lifts, 155 trails and 3,000 skiable acres, making it the largest ski area in the eastern US. Eleven miles away, the Nordic Ski and Snowshoe Center offers more than 35 miles of cross-country skiing and snowshoe trails. And while we’re crunching the numbers, here are five reasons—music festivals, mountain climbing, biking, hiking and golf—to visit after the snow melts. Oh, and one more thing: Killington has played host to three Spartan World Championship events. (We think that about sums it up.)
In northeastern California, where the Cascades and Sierra Nevadas meet, Lake Almanor offers swimming, tubing, kayaking, canoeing and 52 miles of forested shoreline. If lazy summer lake days aren’t your style, the region’s great trails and beautiful meadows are also perfect for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing when colder weather sets in. No matter when you visit, thanks to the number of smallmouth bass, giant rainbow trout and kokanee salmon, the fishing is great year-round.
For a feel-good comeback story, look no further than the tale of Leavenworth. After the decline of the area’s railway and timber industries in the 1960s, the former logging town remodeled its buildings to create a Bavarian-style alpine village. In the decades since, Leavenworth has become a bustling tourist destination known for its Cascade Mountain scenery and a packed calendar of festivals and performances. If you visit during the summer, don’t leave without catching an outdoor show at the Leavenworth Summer Theater; during the winter, backcountry skiing and snowmobiling are two exciting ways to explore the surrounding region.
If you don’t know about Red Lodge’s skiing and snowboarding scene, here’s what you’ve been missing: affordable prices, heart-stopping vistas and plenty of fresh powder (around 250 inches of snow each year). Avoid the crowds at big-name resorts and opt in for a cabin rental with stunning views of the Beartooth Mountains. When warmer weather arrives, this desirable mountain towns town becomes a hot spot for climbing, fishing, rafting and horseback riding. What’s more? In Red Lodge’s historic downtown, you’ll find plenty of unique local spots to shop, eat and enjoy a pint.
Perhaps best known for Taos Pueblo, the only living Native American community to be declared both a National Historic Landmark (1965) and a UNESCO World Heritage Site (1992), Taos is a desert town at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Range. Here, galleries, museums and landmark sites are not difficult to come by—but neither are legendary hikes and unforgettable mountain vistas. For a great introduction to Taos, book a guided driving tour, which includes Taos Pueblo and the Rio Grande Gorge. Craving cold-weather activities? Seventeen miles northeast of the town, Taos Ski Valley offers skiing and snowboarding during the winter.
Welcome to Rocky Mountain High Country. If the skyline is giving you a case of déjà vu, it might be because you’ve seen it before—on a can of Coors beer. Telluride is an iconic spot, home to cabin rentals with soaring mountain views and the dazzling slopes skiers dream of all year. We’re partial to the excellent hikes (don’t miss the trek to 365-foot Bridal Veil Falls), thriving restaurant scene (try the buffalo, venison or elk) and buzzy annual events like the Telluride Bluegrass Festival.
At FlipKey, we value the importance of travel and cultural immersion as a way to learn about the world firsthand, which is why we held a contest for one student to win a $1,000 study abroad scholarship. We asked entrants to tell us, in essay form, why travel is important to him or her, and we want to send a big thank you to everyone who entered and helped make the contest a success!
A special congratulations to Grace Inkala of the University of Wisconsin—Eau Claire, the winner of FlipKey’s 2018 Study Abroad Scholarship! From tuition costs to plane tickets and spontaneous excursions in between, we hope you use the $1,000 to create lots of memories during your semester abroad in Winchester, England.
Grace’s winning essay is printed in full below.
Grace and her friend George, during a mission trip in Panama.
There are certain moments in a person’s life that stay ingrained in their mind forever. For me, this moment happened in April 2011 when I went on my first mission’s trip. Once the plane landed in Honduras my excitement was uncontrollable; I couldn’t wait to see what the upcoming week would have in store. What I failed to realize as I took my first steps on Honduran soil, was that my world—or my preconceived notions of the world—would be forever changed.
The first days in Honduras were filled with fun activities and getting settled in, but it wasn’t until I traveled to a small impoverished village that I began to see the unfortunate realities of poverty. My team and I were building a latrine for a family who recently lost the little they had in a flood. While in the village, I met a young girl named Genesis. She was sitting in the mud playing with a broken, dirty Barbie doll. Watching her play happily with a toy I considered garbage shook me beyond belief, because up until this point I couldn’t picture happiness without nice possessions. As the week progressed, Genesis was continuously on my mind. Her joy is initially what gave me the desire to travel more frequently. To this day, even 7 years later, I still think of Genesis and hope that someday I may develop her same type of joy. The kind that is built upon counting blessings.
My second “forever moment” happened in January 2016 while I was in Panama serving at a men’s nursing home. I had been on the tail end of a 6-month-long program through an organization called Youth with a Mission (YWAM). At the nursing home, I had the privilege of serving the elderly men in the most humbling way possible; washing their feet. There I met an elderly blind man named George. He had a rough past, but he spoke great English and we became fast friends. What I will never forget about George were his joy and smile. It was on this day, through this initially uncomfortable situation that I served people not out of obligation, but through genuine compassion and desire. It wasn’t until I got completely out of my comfort zone that I experienced something so beautiful.
Coming back home after my previous mission trips was when I realized I will never think the same. Too often I have fallen into the trap of believing my way is best or my ideas are superior to others. However, when I have traveled abroad I begin to see the world in a new light. For lack of a better phrase, traveling wrecks me. It deconstructs all of my previous approaches, mentalities, and notions that I once found familiar. It shakes me from my inner core. These profound, unexplainable, undeniable emotions are why I think traveling is important. When I travel, I encounter fresh realizations that pave the way for a newfound joy and appreciation for life.
Living in the United States, work-life stress and daily obligations are at the forefront of my mind. But whenever I get the opportunity to go abroad, I see how other cultures are centered on joy. This joy is why I am inspired to travel. It’s the infectious smiles, laughter, and contagious zest for life that I so crave. My inspiration for travel isn’t solely based on sightseeing, but my overwhelming passion for people and culture. I believe learning doesn’t just take place from going to a museum or reading a textbook, but through witnessing diverse ways of life. Sure, I am beyond thrilled for the chance to see famous cities I have only ever read about in books, but there is more to studying abroad—even for a history buff like me—than just exploring foreign cities. My reasons for studying abroad stem from my desire to expand my knowledge by surrounding myself with those who may have differing opinions, beliefs, and experiences. Integrating myself into another culture for an extended stay provides a chance to observe these ideals firsthand and learn a multitude of things that wouldn’t be possible if I stayed in the United States.
Studying abroad opens the door to ample possibilities in academia as well. I will be attending the University of Winchester in Winchester, England where I will be enrolled in multiple business courses. I aspire to someday own a nonprofit international organization, so having the opportunity to learn from business professionals and gain new outlooks on business from a global standpoint will be extremely beneficial. Furthermore, by acquiring a broadened worldview, I’ll be able to appreciate another culture while also developing the skills needed to own an international organization.
I firmly believe that studying abroad in Winchester, England is one of the best decisions I have made. I want to be able to look back on my time abroad and have not just one “forever moment,” but many. I read the question, “Why is travel important?” and I believe the answer is joy. Joy filled from diving into an unfamiliar culture, so I may grow as an individual by experiencing new facets of the world and the people who live in it.
Did you know the United States accounts for around 45 percent of the golf courses in the world? Whether you’re looking for championship golf courses or small-but-mighty nine-hole courses, don’t pack your clubs before you’ve checked out our list of the best golf vacations in America.
Planning A Great Golf Getaway
When you’ve decided which town to tee off in, consider a vacation rental as your home base. You’ll enjoy amenities like a full kitchen, laundry, extra space to store your golf gear, and maybe even a patio or pool! Choose to stay in the heart of town for post-round entertainment or steps from the first hole to maximize time on the course. A spacious rental is ideal for your group golf getaway—and you can find the perfect one right on FlipKey.
If you’re looking for activities off the course, our friends at TripAdvisor can help with that! Below, you’ll also find great excursions, tours, and experiences in each destination—which you can book on TripAdvisor.
Home of TPC Scottsdale and the PGA Tour’s annual Phoenix Open, this desert city tops our list as one of the best golf destinations in the American Southwest. Try out a day in the life of a tour pro on the 36-hole Stadium Course, with its upscale amenities and panoramic views of the McDowell Mountains. For a classic desert golf experience, Troon North Golf Club offers two 18-hole courses stretching through the natural ravines and foothills overlooked by Pinnacle Peak. Book a Sun State Helicopter Tour over the Sonoran desert hills and finish your trip on a (literal) high.
Boasting around one hundred golf courses, Myrtle Beach has more than earned its title of “Golf Capital of the World.” The Arnold Palmer-designed championship course at the Arrowhead Country Club spreads across 360 acres of verdant terrain, with 63 bunkers, 12 scenic lakes and an abundance of natural flora and fauna. Want to brush up your backswing before hitting the first tee? Look no further than the Classic Swing Golf School. One of the best golf trips for anyone who enjoys the ocean, you can explore Myrtle Beach’s coastal waters on a Guided Stand-Up Paddleboard Tour, where you’ll spot brown pelicans, dolphins, and even loggerhead sea turtles if you’re lucky.
Swing into the world’s only floating, movable golf greens at Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course. The gorgeous Lake Coeur d’Alene views on nearly every hole make CDA one of the best golf destinations for anyone who enjoys life on the water. Away from the greens, ROW Adventure Center offers daily kayaking and rafting tours. For something a little more serene, book a Lake Coeur d’Alene Cruise at dusk and enjoy a gourmet dinner with views of enviable lakeside homes set against a stunning Pacific Northwest sunset.
The Waldorf Astoria Golf Course at Walt Disney World follows the contours of Bonnet Creek nature preserve, offering an 18-hole masterpiece that seems to fold into the natural terrain. With more than 150 golf courses, Orlando is probably the best golf vacation for year-round play, but there’s plenty more to enjoy in “The City Beautiful” too. Cool off snorkeling alongside manatees on a Crystal River Manatee Snorkeling Tour, which includes an airboat ride on the Homosassa River.
You’ll find nine courses to challenge your skill at the Pinehurst Resort, but Course Number 2 remains one of the world’s most celebrated. Designed by Donald Ross and opened in 1907, it has served as the site of more single golf championships than any course in America. All that golfing is bound to work up an appetite so indulge yourself on a Culinary Tour of the Pines, where you’ll visit some of the top eateries in Pinehurst Village, along with a craft beer tasting to complement each dish.
One of the best golf destinations in the Midwest, Traverse City is home to the Arnold Palmer-designed Manitou Passage and Jack Nicklaus’s groundbreaking Bear course at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. After dark, explore some of the city’s best breweries, wineries and distilleries on a Traverse City Wine And Beer Tour, where your chariot for the night could be anything from a sleek, black Mercedes Benz van to a tie-dye Funky Bus.
With over 33 world-class championship courses, Hilton Head Island often makes the list of best golf vacations—and for good reason. Harbour Town Golf Links, the brainchild of Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus, is one of Golf Digest’s top 20 courses in the country. If you can drag yourself away from the greens, a Soo Locks Boat Tour is a wonderful way to explore the island’s historic Soo Locks, where freighters, barges, and tugboats traverse the 21-foot drop between Lake Superior and Lake Huron every day and night.
Tee off against a backdrop of red rock vistas at the Johnny Miller signature Entrada at Snow Canyon Golf Course. The 18-hole course will excite even the most seasoned golfer, and boasts an award-winning clubhouse as well. Dixie Red Hills is a short nine-hole par-34 course built on a natural spring, but don’t let looks deceive you—it’s more challenging than it seems. Make the most of Utah’s annual 300 days of sunshine and explore Zion National Park while you’re at it with a Half Day ATV Tour of the Major Sand Dunes.
One of the best golf destinations in Texas, TPC San Antonio at the Marriott Hill Country Resort hosts both the Valero Texas Open and San Antonio Championship. Two golf courses, designed by Pete Dye and Greg Norman, offer two very different playing experiences to accommodate golfers of all levels. The Palmer Course at La Cantera, set over 250 acres, is another favorite thanks to its breathtaking views. A Birdie Wine Tour in Fredericksburg is the ideal way to relax after a day on the greens.
Dubbed “the Palm Springs of the North,” Bend’s sunny, dry climate means it’s one of the best golf vacations you can take. Pronghorn Golf Club and Tetherow Golf Club were each ranked among America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses, according to Golf Digest magazine. For a change of scenery, book a Beginner’s Fly-Fishing Tour on Bend’s pristine lakes and rivers, where you’ll get all the guidance you need to catch beautiful alpine trout and finish the day with an authentic fish fry.
There’s nothing like golfing on Gulf Shores, under a blue Alabama sky with the warm ocean breeze on your face. Kiva Dunes Golf Course, meandering 7,092 yards through natural sand dunes and lake, is rated the top public golf course in Alabama by Golf Digest. The Gulf Shores Golf Club is also popular with visitors who come to enjoy the challenging course and traditional plantation-style clubhouse. Explore the surrounding waterways by kayak on a WildNative Tour for a chance to see alligators, bald eagles, ospreys, herons, cormorants, and pelicans up close.
Okay, so the Jack Kidwell-designed Wilson Road Golf Course is Columbus’s only executive nine-hole golf course (and well-worth a round or two), but this great city makes our list of best golf destinations for a different reason. Jack Nicklaus, the man with 18 career major championship victories, was born and raised in Columbus. You can all about his achievements at the Jack Nicklaus Museum, what reviewers call an “interesting museum, even for non-golfer [people] who are ambivalent about sports.” Discover more of Columbus’ charm and history on a thrilling Segway tour which takes in the Scioto River, the thriving Short North arts district, the vibrant Arena District and historic downtown.
For panoramic views of the Sandia Mountains, strategically placed bunkers and challenging green complexes, look no further than the Sandia Golf Club. This 7,750-yard championship course cuts through the rugged high desert landscape and will challenge and delight golfers of all levels. See the Sandias from a different angle on an Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Ride at Sunrise, the perfect way to finish an unforgettable golf vacation.
White-sand beaches, historic towns, mountain scenery: The best Georgia vacation spots are as varied as they are beautiful. Whether you’re looking for an active adventure, or wondering where to stay in Georgia for a relaxed weekend away, FlipKey has you covered. We’ll help you find the perfect rental with access to endless trails, urban adventures, or world-class golf courses. From cozy, backwoods cabins in Blue Ridge, to luxe apartments in downtown Atlanta, these destinations boast some of the best Georgia vacation rentals you can book.
Best Georgia Getaways: Where To Stay
With so many great options, finding the best place to stay in Georgia is no easy task. At FlipKey, we’re all about cutting through the noise, since less time researching your accommodation means more time planning out fun activities. To develop our list of best Georgia vacation spots, we analyzed the lifetime average rental home review scores on TripAdvisor and FlipKey (FlipKey is a TripAdvisor company) for all Georgia locations. We identified the cream of the crop—those destinations that were among the highest rated according to our reviewers, whose real-world experience is worth hours of online research. With at least 100 lifetime reviews in each, these Georgia destinations have an average score of 4.50 out of 5.00 stars for their rental properties.
A cooler climate and mountain scenery makes Sky Valley one of the best Georgia getaways when the weather gets steamy—after all, this is the city with the highest elevation in Georgia. Thanks to that height, some of our favorite rentals in Sky Valley feature gorgeous views of the surrounding forest, too! Sky Valley is great for anyone looking to brush up their golfing skills at an 18-hole, world-class golf course, but it’s not all putting greens, irons, and fairways. After a day on the course or a hike through the nearby hills, you’ll find luxurious spas, vineyards, art galleries, and fine dining that make for a relaxing Georgia getaway.
Stroll down streets lined with antebellum homes, and you’ll see why Greensboro is among the best places to vacation in Georgia if you’re looking for Southern charm and history. With an impressive 374 miles of shoreline, nearby Lake Oconee is where to stay in Georgia if your idea of the perfect vacation involves a fishing rod, cold beer, and a comfy spot on a boat. When you’re ready for something a little more ambitious, head to one of the 10 champion golf courses in the Greensboro area—you can book a property right at the edge of the course if you wish, so you can roll out of bed for an early morning tee time.
Explore a string of picture-perfect barrier islands along the Georgia Coast on an escape to Brunswick, one of the best places to vacation in Georgia when you want to get away from it all. Brunswick is the main port city, with history, music, art, and great theaters for lively entertainment. You can take off on a dolphin-watching cruise or fishing charter, or tour the gorgeous grounds of the Hofwyl-Broadfield Rice Plantation. Day trips to the surrounding islands are easy, too. Opt for the luxurious charms of Sea Island, or head to the family-friendly Jekyll Island to discover biking trails, a fishing pier, outdoor water park, and perfect, white-sand beaches.
Step back in time on a nostalgic trip to Clayton, one of the best Georgia vacation spots if you’re looking for a taste of the simple life. Sidle up to the soda fountain at the town’s old-fashioned drug store, or join a trail ride through the surrounding forest. A great home base for exploring the Southern Highroads Trail and U.S. 441 Heritage Highway, Clayton is full of rental retreats with rustic charm, from backwoods log cabins to updated forest homes with sweeping views over the mountains.
With an enviable location in the heart of Georgia wine country, this is where to stay in Georgia if you’re looking to explore the state’s award-winning pours. A warm climate makes this prime territory for growing muscadine grapes, which are as sweet as a Georgia peach. Since most of the local vineyards have tasting rooms that are open to the public, the best way to discover your own favorite Dahlonega wine is to sip your way through all of them.
Discover the perfect hunting lodge or cozy forest retreat during your escape to the poetically-named Rising Fawn, set on the edge of Lookout Mountain. This is one of the best places to vacation in Georgia for enjoying Mother Nature, Southern-style: hike to waterfalls, celebrate deer season, or hit the lake for a day of fishing in the summer sun. Rising Fawn has produced some of Georgia’s best musical artists, from The Forester Sisters to Norman Blake, so whatever you do, you can explore to the soundtrack of some classic Americana.
A small town with great mountain access, Jasper is one of the best Georgia getaways if you’re looking for a quick escape that’s easy driving distance from Atlanta. You’ll find ranches, vineyards, and family farms here—make a pilgrimage in the spring to visit when the baby sheep and goats are at their most adorable. But it’s an impressive network of hiking trails that makes this one of the best places to vacation in Georgia for nature lovers. Access the Appalachian Trail from the nearby Amicalola Falls State Park, or head to Burnt Mountain Preserve to walk a beautiful trail to the summit, earning views across the surrounding hills.
Deep in the North Georgia mountains, Blue Ridge is where to stay in Georgia when you’re yearning for a cozy cabin and nature therapy (with jaw-dropping scenery). Not that Blue Ridge is all rustic charm, since the community shows its luxurious side with elegant restaurants, galleries, and downtown boutiques worthy of a lazy shopping afternoon. It’s one of the best Georgia vacation spots to hit the trails on horseback, too, with stables that can saddle up a ride for everyone from beginning riders to expert equestrians. Some of our favorite places to stay in Blue Ridge evoke that unique blend of backwoods access and sophistication, and the area’s forest is dotted with log cabins gone fabulously upscale!
Take a dive into Georgia history—and wonderfully warm water—at Saint Simons Island, one of the best spots for a vacation in Georgia if you’re craving sun, sea, and sand. It’s the site of a famous 18th-century battle between British and Spanish forces, and you can follow in the footsteps of those troops on the island’s beautifully preserved marshes. If you’re dreaming of a room with a view, check out the island’s ocean-side accommodations, where you can drift off to the sound of the tide. Insider tip: you can drive right to the beach thanks to a bridge that links Saint Simons Island with the mainland, but it’s worth bringing a bike to explore the miles of trails that cover blissfully flat terrain.
Fans of everything that’s souped up and speedy should steer for the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame, whose exhibits are a heady tribute to the racing greats. This might be the best Georgia getaway for the racing crowd, and Dawsonville’s got charm for days: you can sip moonshine at the local distillery, walk to a towering waterfall, visit local farms, and spend a day on the Appalachian Trail. Dawsonville is a jumping-off point for the 2,100-mile trek, so taking a day hike in the late fall means you can meet hikers nearing the end of a solid six-month journey through the Appalachian Mountains!
A prime location close to mountain trails, laid-back rivers, and rolling farmland make Ellijay one of the best Georgia vacation spots for outdoor adventurers. Since the waterways in this part of Georgia have more flat water than churning rapids, it’s the perfect place to snag an inner tube for a day on the river, where you can slip in and cool off on your way to nearby Carter Lake. When harvest season rolls around, head to Ellijay for a weekend of picking locally grown peaches and apples—locals celebrate the impressive bounty of seasonal fruit at the annual Georgia Apple Blossom Festival.
Clear-flowing rivers and a spiderweb of hiking trails run through Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, and Blairsville is at the heart of it all. This is where to stay in Georgia if you’re trying to get away from modern life, and some of the top-rated rentals available here are ideal for just that: think woodsy cabins, mountain-side nests, and crackling wood fires in the cooler months. When the weather gets steamy, Blairsville has great access to Lake Winfield Scott and Lake Nottely, as well as a handful of gorgeous waterfalls that invite a long summer afternoon of exploring.
Georgia’s oldest city needs no introduction, since moss-draped oaks, historic architecture, and a vibrant take on Southern traditions has long made it one of the best Georgia vacation destinations—if not one of the best in all 50 states. This is where to stay in Georgia if you’re ready for a whirlwind of fabulous food—a mix of long traditions and young blood keep Savannah cuisine at the cutting edge. Start with a walking tour of the historic downtown, where it all began, then dive into the weirder side of the city’s past on a ghost tour, graveyard adventure, or even a haunted pub crawl.
Adorable beach houses and oceanside cottages are dreamy getaways on Tybee Island, one of the beachiest and best places to vacation in Georgia. Pack a romantic picnic to take into the island’s rolling sand dunes and—since Tybee Island catches some of Georgia’s most stunning morning light—set your alarm early to see the sunrise from the shore. Even though the sun, sea, and top-rated beach home rentals are what earns Tybee Island a spot among the best Georgia getaways, there’s some fascinating history here, too, starting with the 1736 Tybee Lighthouse, one of the oldest lighthouses in the United States.
Urban culture, world-class food, and a bit of swagger make Atlanta a fascinating city—and one of the best places to vacation in Georgia no matter what your travel style is. With so much to choose from, there’s no “right” way to plan an Atlanta getaway: you can immerse yourself in the history of the Civil Rights era, hit up all the classic spots for “meat and three” and fried chicken, or stick to fine arts at the city’s fabulous museums. Each of the city’s neighborhoods have their own character, so it’s worth finding the area you want to explore then picking the perfect digs, whether you’re ready to lounge in a rooftop pool, or looking for a quiet retreat that’s tucked away from the center.
Nothing keeps the spark alive like a change of scenery, whether you’re a brand-new couple or celebrating a big anniversary. Since it’s not always easy finding the time to escape, we got things started by searching out America’s very best weekend getaways for couples—because if you’re hitting the road with your favorite person, why not go for the cream of the crop?
Romantic Weekend Getaways You’ll Love
We know that every couple is different, from preferred pet names to favorite shows to binge-watch, so when it comes to planning a romantic weekend getaway, your vacation ideas should be as unique as you are. There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all weekend getaway for couples, so we kept it colorful with adventure hotspots, remote islands, glamorous beach towns, and a few offbeat surprises. And maybe we’re biased—our mission is curating the ultimate vacation rental experience, after all—but we’re pretty sure a rental makes the perfect home base no matter where you go. Book a penthouse suite or cozy cottage and it’ll be the perfect starting point for a romantic weekend.
Catch the sunrise over the ocean in upscale Kennebunkport, one of the best weekend getaways for couples on Maine’s gorgeous coast. A romantic weekend here is all about the water, whether you’re learning to steer a surfboard, cruising the coast in an old-fashioned schooner sailboat, or going offshore on a whale-watching trip. After a day of sun and salt, head to winding Ocean Avenue for a romantic sunset drive past some of Kennebunkport’s most exclusive inns and mansions.
Tucked into the spectacular Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg is among the most fun weekend getaways for active couples. Hit the trail on a guided hike to find waterfalls and wildflowers, drive through the heart of Great Smoky Mountains National park, and check out the region’s gorgeous fall foliage. Not that it’s all back roads and rural scenery. If you’re looking for something a little more spirited, Gatlinburg’s got a booming craft distilling scene that’s ideal for an afternoon of tasting moonshine straight from old-school Mason jars.
If your perfect romantic weekend getaway means a pre-booked tee time and a bit of pampering, Paradise Valley is a luxurious dream trip. Weekend getaways for couples could start with a treatment at one of the town’s top-shelf spas, followed by a trip to nearby Scottsdale for a foodie tour of the historic downtown. Not that everything in Paradise Valley is quite so placid; if your idea of a fun couples weekend is more high-adrenaline than haute cuisine, hit the desert for an off-road tour that explores the best of the Arizona backcountry.
Fun weekend getaways for couples in Eureka Springs might be all about getting back to nature, but the town’s beautifully preserved Victorian downtown exudes old-fashioned charm. Animal lovers can spend the day with the big cats at the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, then head to Basin Springs Park for a romantic walk through rock formations and leafy forests. Don’t leave town without snapping an unforgettable couple selfie with the towering Christ of the Ozarks.
Seemingly pulled from a postcard, the scenic Orcas Island is just a ferry—and a world—away from Washington’s mainland. Couples weekend getaways on Orcas Island mean adapting to the leisurely pace of life in a mostly rural community: start with a whale-watching cruise out of Eastsound, taste oysters straight from the sea at the Buck Bay Shellfish Farm, and check out some of the studios of the island’s many artists.
Romantic weekend getaways to Saint Simons Island are perfect for long afternoons on the water. Soak up the salty air and coastal scenery with a fishing charter or kayak tour, or climb into the saddle for a laid-back horseback ride along the beach. After all that exploring, treat yourself to some of the region’s freshest seafood on a gourmet tour of downtown, where moss-draped oaks line the historic streets.
An outdoor hotspot surrounded by Rocky Mountain peaks, Telluride was made for couples who love the mountains. Rent a pair of skis or a snowboard to hit the slopes, or launch a Jeep expedition that follows rugged back roads. For a tiny town in the mountains, Telluride’s got a thriving foodie scene and breweries that are perfect for post-trail pints—you can even fuel up for all those adventures with a tasting tour of downtown.
One of California’s top weekend getaways for couples that like wildlife more than nightlife, Monterey is all about coastal scenery. Commune with the kissing fish at the must-see Monterey Aquarium, take a romantic sunset sail, or book a full-day, private tour that explores Carmel and the winding 17-mile drive. Of course, Monterey’s the ultimate couples getaway for golf lovers, too, with easy access to the world class courses at legendary Pebble Beach.
Pristine and spectacular, the island of Kauai is the ultimate in romantic getaways (it’s not called the “Garden Isle” for nothing). Okay, so it may require a long weekend to make it worthwhile, but if you live on the West Coast, Kauai is a worthy candidate and makes for a couples weekend you won’t forget. You can move to the rhythms of traditional Hawaiian culture at a Luau, cruise along the remote Na Pali Coast, or treat yourself to a once-in-a-lifetime sightseeing flight that gives you aerial views into Kauai’s rugged mountains. To experience Hawaii’s legendary waves, sign up for a private surf lesson that will get you paddling into your very first break.
Whether you’re sneaking in one more summer vacation or getting ahead of planning a future escape—FlipKey is here to help! There’s no need for far-flung airline tickets in this wanderlust-worthy roundup. We’re featuring the best weekend trips by region so you can find one that’s close to you. These top weekend getaways across America offer amazing activities, scenic sightseeing, great attractions, stellar weather—or all of the above!
Even if you’re only on vacation for a couple days, finding the perfect place to stay is easy with FlipKey. From cozy cabins or breezy beach houses, to downtown condos and apartments, FlipKey has affordable rental properties available to book right on our site. Whether a quick weekend break or long weekend getaway, these destinations are worth the car ride!
Cape May, NJ
Don’t let its location fool you—Cape May is the antithesis of the Jersey Shore. This iconic beach destination sets itself apart from other Jersey Shore destinations with its rich history and architecture, but still has the same super-convenient location from major Northeastern cities. In fact, the entire city was named a National Historic Landmark in 1976. Though the town has clean beaches and fine dining options, you can also escape the sun at a beautiful beach rental or a number of museums, including the Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum.
The charming and free-spirited city of Burlington is one of the USA’s best weekend trips for two reasons: the downtown scene and the lake. Burlington’s Church Street, a pedestrian-only, cobblestone-and-brick-paved strip, boasts restaurants, bars, and boutique shops. Head down Main Street to the water to experience the beauty of Lake Champlain, where you can take a sunset cruise, or—during July—hit the Annual Vermont Brewers Festival. The exciting event features dozens of craft brewers and food tents against a scenic backdrop of lake views and the Adirondack Mountains.
New Yorkers have long flocked to Saranac Lake for its supposed healing powers—the Adirondack lake was considered a place to heal from tuberculosis during the 19th century. Today, visitors can still reap the same healing benefits from fresh air and quality time away from big city crowds. A stroll through the downtown introduces you to the city’s charming character: find bookshops and art galleries intermingled with farm-to-table restaurants and local watering holes. Of course, the lake itself and nearby hiking trails are a huge draw in and of themselves, so be sure to schedule some time for outdoor fun.
Provincetown is such a great option for a fun-filled weekend getaway. The famously LGBTQ-friendly beach town is packed with things to do (everything from great nightlife to dolphin watching tours), all with gorgeous beaches close by. The town is also home to the Pilgrim Monument, a big nod to American heritage and a commemoration of where the Mayflower Compact was written.
Greenville’s getting a lot of press lately, and with good reason. This once quiet Southern town has had something of a revival, now boasting hundreds of events per year, fantastic food, drink and shopping, and a lively yet relaxed vibe that makes it one of the country’s best weekend getaways if you live nearby. Why not tour the downtown area and follow the Swamp Rabbit Trail on a guided Segway tour? Put Greenville on your weekend travel list—you won’t be disappointed.
The town of Williamsburg is best known as the home of Colonial Williamsburg, an authentic colonial city that puts history books to shame. Lifelike historical reenactments and an almost entirely preserved town make you feel like you’re actually a colonist (taking a Williamsburg tour helps). If you need to get back to the modern world, though, it’s easy enough to do. Just take a short drive to Busch Gardens Williamsburg or Water Country USA for full days of kid-approved fun.
If you want more to do on your Florida weekend getaway than just chill on the beach, St. Augustine is a good pick. This historic city was the first and longest-inhabited European settlement in Florida, boasting a history dating back to 1565. Fort Matanzas National Monument the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park are good places to start learning about Florida’s settler history (or take a ghost tour for a spookier recounting). In addition, you can see white tigers and other rare rescued animals at the St. Augustine Wild Reserve or head out to St. Augustine Beach, just a short drive away.
Nashville saunter and Appalachian ease come together in Chattanooga, one of the best weekend trips in the Southeast. Here you’ll find homestyle barbecue and upscale cuisine in equal measure and enough outdoor entertainment and cultural activities that your escape practically plans itself. Get a lay of the land on a hop-on hop-off trolley tour, and then head to the Tennessee River for a stroll along the renovated riverwalk or a cruise past the city skyline and under its well-recognized Walnut Street Bridge. Plus, Chattanooga is conveniently located within driving distance of big Southeastern cities like Nashville, Knoxville, and Atlanta, so you can turn your long weekend getaway into a memorable road trip.
Bavarian bakeries and German architecture meet Southern hospitality in Helen, an alpine city with strong Bavarian roots that might trick you into pulling out your passport. The downtown doesn’t take long to explore—it’s small-town charm at its best—but luckily, there’s plenty to explore once you’re done. A handful of waterfalls including Anna Ruby Falls and Raven Cliff Falls are right nearby, as well as Unicoi State Park (its beach is pictured above) and the Yonah Mountain Hiking Trail, all of which let you enjoy the area’s beautiful location in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Saugatuck is a vibrant, artsy town along Lake Michigan known for Oval Beach, a pleasantly uncrowded shore with drifting sand dunes, shallow water, and gentle waves—great for kids. Nearby, Saugatuck Natural Area runs north of Oval Beach and features 173 acres of duneland with winding hikes overlooking the lake and Kalamazoo River Channel. The pristine area is known for its excellent fishing, sailing, swimming, and blueberry picking. With a quaint downtown filled with homey pubs and unique boutiques, Saugatuck is just the place to hit “pause” and escape the bustle of everyday life… if only for a weekend!
Summer is arguably the best time to take a long weekend getaway to Door County. The skinny Door Peninsula sticks out from the rest of Wisconsin to just into Lake Michigan, leaving 300 miles of lakefront beaches in its wake. Grab a kayak or hire a boat charter to explore the lake, bring the whole family along for zipline adventures in Wisconsin’s woods, or check out popular outdoor sites like Peninsula State Park. A rich mix of cultural activities means that on either end of your outdoor adventures you can peruse art galleries, head to the Peninsula Players Theatre, or sample authentic Wisconsin cheese at the Door County Creamery.
A quaint downtown and off-the-beaten-track feel make Galena one of the best weekend getaways from many Midwestern cities, including Chicago and Milwaukee. The city is well-stocked with historical homes: The Ulysses S. Grant Home has the most star power because it was a gift to the country’s president after the Civil War. After touring sites and monuments, wind down with a taste of craft spirits at Blaum Bros. Distilling Co., an extremely popular watering hole in town.
Slip away to Sioux Falls for one of the best weekend trips in the Midwest. This scenic city blends gorgeous outdoors with enough urban activities to keep you entertained. The city has plenty of shopping, dining, and nightlife in its downtown area, and also has Falls Park and the Sioux Falls Bike Trails right in the city so you don’t need to travel far for your fix of outdoor fun.
Long gone are Cincinnati’s dreary industrial days. Discovering the city’s polished character is a pleasure as you explore museums and attractions in each of Cincinnati’s personality-rich enclaves. Though there is plenty to see as you wander through the historic neighborhoods, make sure you also get to must-see destinations like Smale Riverfront Park, Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, and the Cincinnati Art Museum. On busy weekends, it helps to book tickets to top destinations like the Cincinnati Zoo in advance.
Stunning views, coastline hikes, and quaint cafes make Cannon Beach a super romantic weekend getaway (just 90 minutes from Portland). Whether you want to hunt for tide pools or hike through Ecola State Park, you’ll find a rental in Cannon with your name on it—within walking distance of the waves. Top area attractions include art galleries, outdoor concerts, and a summer farmer’s market.
As one of the best weekend getaways in the Northwest, Coeur D’Alene knows how to show visitors a good time. The town offers a mix of everything: tee-up at golf courses right on the lake or bring the kids along for days packed with roller coasters and water sports on Coeur D’Alene Lake. No matter how you spend your days, you’ll find the whole town turning out at night to enjoy the city’s restaurants and bars along Sherman Ave.
You don’t need to go far for an island getaway when visiting Friday Harbor, a top weekend trip in the region. This small town in the San Juan Islands is convenient to Northwestern cities, but is nestled deeply enough in the San Juan archipelago to feel remote. Appreciate the stunning scenery on a seaplane tour, catch sight of wildlife aboard a dolphin and whale watching cruise, or check out walking trails and a lighthouse at Lime Kiln Point State Park.
If the mountains are calling, Whitefish is the place to go for your weekend trip. Located at the edge of Glacier National Park, Whitefish is a quaint mountain town backed by the over-the-top beauty of the Northern Rocky Mountains. Use the town as your basecamp for Rocky Mountain adventures, whether it’s a day hike in Flathead National Forest or a canoe ride across Whitefish Lake.
Boise is topping a lot of travel lists these days, and even a weekend trip to Idaho’s trendiest city gives you enough time to discover why. A walk through the downtown reveals that this city is no longer sleepy—from boozy brunch tours to tacos and tapas happy hours, Boise has developed a fantastic cosmopolitan feel. When you’re not hanging around downtown’s shops, galleries, and historic sites, visit popular parks like Camel’s Back and Barber Park, where you can put in for rafting trip down the Boise River without leaving the city.
Sedona is a true oasis, a weekend vacationer’s paradise in the middle of the Arizona desert. Bell Rock and Oak Creek Canyon are great hiking spots, and the dramatic architecture of the Chapel of the Holy Cross is a religious experience itself. When the sun dips down below the horizon it introduces the best show in Sedona: the night sky. You won’t need to travel far to see it, either. Many vacation rentals come with a private outdoor terrace gazing upon the fiery orange and red sky above illustrious red rock formations.
Halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego, Temecula is one of the best weekend getaways in SoCal—that you may not have considered. Though not as renowned as Napa Valley, the area is known for its wines—a wine tour is an easy way for first-time visitors to discover the best sips around. The city’s other claim to fame is as a hub for hot air balloon rides, and with gorgeous vineyards and California-quality sunrises, there’s plenty to admire.
Sandwiched between Phoenix and Scottsdale, the small city of Tempe holds its own with its shops, restaurants, and galleries in the Mill Avenue District, balanced by plenty of outdoor activities that take advantage of year-round warm temperatures. Although it’s home to the Arizona State University’s main campus, the city offers entertainment for visitors of all ages. Kids particularly love the SEA LIFE Aquarium, which has a surprisingly large collection of fish and other animals for an aquarium in the middle of the desert.
If Austin keeps things weird, San Marcos puts weird off the charts—in a good way. This small Texas town is where hippies mingle with college kids over craft brews, and long days out on the river lead to long nights listening to blues at outlet malls. San Marcos vacation rentals match the town’s funky character and run the gamut from riverfront cabins to renovated downtown lofts, so you can take a weekend getaway that matches your style.
Wine, dine, and take your time on a trip to San Luis Obispo, central California’s laid-back response to the Bay Area’s bustle. Food and wine tours are a top industry in SLO, making it one of the best weekend getaways for culinary enthusiasts, while outdoor attractions like Bishop Peak pay homage to California’s adventurous spirit.
Dust off your hiking boots and grab your backpack for this wanderlust-worthy roundup of hiking vacations in the US. From family-friendly, scenic trails to heart-thumping climbs, we’ve uncovered 15 great hiking trips you can take—no matter the season.
If your favorite part of a hike is getting back to home base with a sense of accomplishment, FlipKey has you covered. Each of these outdoor getaways offers amazing cabin rentals available to book right on our site. Enjoy a celebratory, post-hike drink on the private patio, utilize the full kitchen for a home-cooked meal, then light up the fireplace and hunker down for a movie night.
And it’s not just the stellar trails and cabins that make these some of the best hiking vacations in America—after all, you may want at least one day of lighter outdoor recreation. That’s why we’re also featuring top tours, activities, and in-destination experiences to enjoy during your stay—courtesy of our friends at TripAdvisor (FlipKey is a TripAdvisor company). Think guided photography tours of Yosemite, visiting a conservation center in the Adirondacks, or a wine-and-waterfalls excursion in Oregon.
Acadia National Park, ME
Acadia National park is one for superlatives—both the most-visited national park in the Northeast and home to the highest peak along the North Atlantic seaboard, Acadia is one of the best hiking destinations in the US. Make the drive up Cadillac Mountain to take in stunning views from the 1,500-foot tall peak, or challenge yourself to hikes like the Gotham Mountain Trail. You can even rent canoes and kayaks to take out from Bar Harbor. Check it all out on your own or join a guided tour, like this 7-day Food, Brews, and Hiking tour of New England, to see the park’s highlights.
Montana may be landlocked, but a visit to Glacier National Park is all about the water. Hike to pristine alpine lakes, drive past waterfalls, or take a white-water rafting trip down the Flathead River. The Grinnell Glacier stands as a looming challenge over the park, but its rewarding views are unbeatable—be sure to bring plenty of food and water if you do the 8-mile trail on your own. Then, give your legs a break when you drive down the 52-mile Going-to-the-Sun-Road, a scenic highlight reel of Glacier National Park’s diverse wildlife and incredible landscapes.
In Yosemite, steep granite cliffs tower above redwood trees and host tumbling waterfalls. Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, and El Capitan stand out as the park’s most recognized natural formations. Though so much wilderness makes Yosemite one of the best hiking vacations you can take, the park is also a hit among photographers. Follow in the footsteps of Ansel Adams on a Yosemite photography tour to find the park’s best angles. Plus, unlike many parks that are far from urban centers, Yosemite is easily visited on a day trip from San Francisco, Tahoe, or San Jose.
Update: Due to the recent wildfires, please refer to the National Park Services’ website for information about accessibility and permissibility in Yosemite.
Rocky coastlines give way to crashing Pacific waves in Big Sur, a gem of a hiking destination along the California coast. Big Sur is easy enough to fit in during a California road trip—the area is right off Highway 1—but Big Sur’s incredible natural beauty merits its own visit. Take a hike through Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park or at the Point Sur State Historic Park for gorgeous views of mist-shrouded cliffs and waterfalls dropping straight into the ocean. If you don’t have your own car, consider visiting as part of a tour, like this Pacific Coast Highway day trip.
The Great Smoky Mountains are one of the best hiking vacations for their rolling hills and scenic trails. Hike up Mount LeConte to see the Smokies stretching endlessly into the horizon, or check out the popular Alum Cave Trail, which leads you past rushing rivers through fields of wildflowers. Though well-marked trails make it easy enough to explore on your own, go with a guide to make the most of every moment. Specialty tours include a Smoky Mountains Waterfall Adventure and a historic Smoky Mountain hike that highlights Cherokee and settler history in the area.
Zion National Park is easily one of the most-recognized hiking destinations in the US, known for its mesmerizing red rocks smoothly carved out by water. Bring your A-game to the trails at The Narrows, aptly named for the tight squeezes needed to get through columns of river-bound rocks. Once through, you will be richly rewarded by a number of viewpoints around the park that will surely take your breath away. If you’re looking for extra adventure, try a rock climbing and canyoneering tour or combine a visit to Zion with other nearby parks on a multi-day guided tour of Utah.
The sleepy town of Blue Ridge is full of historic Southern charm. Ride down old train trestles on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, stroll through the quaint boutique-filled downtown, or bring the whole family for a day of outdoor fun at the Toccoa River Swinging Bridge or Long Creek Falls. Plus, because it’s nestled in the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the town is an ideal home base for a mountain retreat.
Estes Park is the quintessential Rocky Mountains vacation destination and aptly known as the Gateway to the Rockies. Between its homey downtown and easy access to some of the best hiking trips in Colorado, Estes Park is a top stop for serious backpackers and casual hikers alike. Experienced hikers can use Estes as a basecamp for longer ascents into the Rocky Mountains, while nature-lovers of all hiking abilities love the easy Adams Falls Trail and hike to Lily Lake. If you aren’t looking to attempt hikes on your own, a guided tour like the Discover Rocky Mountain National Park tour or a private wildlife safari offer good introductions to the area’s rich wildlife and scenery.
Big Bear Lake may be small, but it packs in plenty of outdoor activities. This lakeside retreat in southern California is best known for its winter skiing, but also offers a number of hiking trails like Castle Rock Trail that are perfect for exploring in the summer. The area also features the popular Big Bear Alpine Zoo, which rehabs native animals and offers visitors a great chance to learn about local wildlife, including the lake’s namesake creatures.
In addition to being one of the best hiking destinations in the US, Columbia River Gorge is one of the most popular and scenic day trips from Portland. Take a half-day tour from Portland to the picture-ready Multnomah Falls—a wine-tasting and waterfalls tour is also an option—or spend the afternoon wandering down well-marked trails and taking scenic drives on your own. Dewy forest floors and wildflower-filled fields make Columbia River Gorge a hiker’s dream. Opt for a cabin in Hood River and you’ll be just a few miles away.
Clear glacial waters hemmed by towering snow-capped peaks make South Lake Tahoe a popular vacation destination. Though hiking Mt. Tallac Trail or to Lower Eagle Falls are good trekking options, the area is also well-known for its water sports and cultural activities. Take a cruise on Emerald Bay, book a parasailing adventure, or snag a kayak for a day paddling through blue waters. Then, hit up the town’s many restaurants, bars, and clubs for a fun end to a full day.
Jackson Hole is a skiing paradise in the winter, but has hikes to waterfalls, crater lakes, and woodland wonderlands during warmer months. From the family-friendly Cascade Canyon Trail to the heart-thumping Static Peak Divide, Grand Teton National Park is by far one of the best hiking vacations you can take. Pack in even more adventure by booking a Grand Teton safari for chances to see animals like elk, bears, and bison in the wild.
A high-end ski resort turns summertime bucket-list destination in Jay, a cozy city with family-friendly amenities and plenty to keep kids entertained, including the popular Jay Peak Pump House. The town’s best hike is to its namesake summit, Jay Peak, a moderate 3-mile trail past wildflowers, boulders, and pastures.
There’s something about America’s most beautiful waterfalls that makes them worth the chase, whether a road trip to a new destination or an overnight hike in one of country’s magnificent national parks. From stunning chutes of water jutting from tropical cliffs to gentle tumbles down the side of a glacier, here are 10 of the most beautiful waterfalls in the USA that should definitely make your bucket list.
At FlipKey, we’re here to help with the first step of any adventure: where to stay! FlipKey offers hundreds of thousands of rental properties around the world—particularly in these amazing waterfall destinations. Imagine coming home to your cozy cabin after a scenic day hike of the falls—lounging on the outdoor patio with a drink in hand, reflecting on the beauty you just witnessed. A vacation rental provides extra living space, a full kitchen, and amenities like laundry or even a hot tub. No matter which of these falls you want to explore, you’ll find the perfect home base right on Flipkey.
Waimoku Falls | Maui, Hawaii
Waimoku Falls in Haleakala National Park Kipahulu is more about the journey than the destination. The scenic 1.8-mile Pipiwai Trail leads you through towering bamboo forests and past series of waterfalls in a pristine tropical rain forest before dropping you near the base of the 400-foot tall Waimoku cascade. However, due to safety concerns, you have to keep a distance from the water. This trail is known for being well-maintained and not too difficult, with an intermediate incline slowly leading up to the falls.
An 80-foot plummet straight into the Pacific Ocean, McWay Falls in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is a must while in the Big Sur area. Visit as a quick pit stop off Highway 1, taking the short and easy hike to the falls, or opt for one of the longer linked hiking trails for rewarding views of the California coast and one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the USA.
Quality and quantity collide at Silver Falls State Park in Sublimity, Oregon, where the 7.2-mile long Trail of Ten Falls takes you past 10 amazing waterfalls in a row. The trail may be most famous for South Falls, a tall cascade whose unique position allows you to walk directly behind the waterfall for a look at the side less seen. Tack the trip onto your Portland itinerary by joining a guided day trip to Silver Falls from Portland.
The king of America’s most beautiful waterfalls, visiting Niagara Falls is a surefire bucket-list experience. Three magnificent falls, two American and one Canadian, mark the point at which the Niagara River rumbles over the Niagara Escarpment. Reviewers claim that the scenic attraction is “Heaven on Earth…Everyone should visit the fall at least once in their lifetime. Words cannot describe the feeling or the euphoria of being there.”
Leave your boots behind for a trip to Wailua Falls, a frothy cascade just steps from a main road. You might recognize these famous waterfalls from their appearance in the opening credits of the hit TV show “Fantasy Island” or promotional materials for Kauai, as they are largely recognized as some of the most amazing waterfalls on the island. Though there aren’t any surrounding hiking trails, the falls’ beauty make them worth a quick pit stop. Or, make a day of it by visiting as part of a Hawaii movie tour or private Kauai sightseeing tour.
Take an easy half-mile hike down a paved trail to see Akaka Falls and Kahuna Falls emerge from Hawaii’s lush tropical landscape. Walk past wild orchids and drooping banana trees en route to the falls, stopping to admire the sights from multiple viewing platforms along the way. A Big Island waterfall tour makes it easy to see Akaka Falls and other amazing waterfalls in a single day.
From Ansel Adams to Instagram, Bridalveil Fall is one of the most iconic views in Yosemite National Park. This famous waterfall tumbles 620-feet down to the base, with enough water in the spring and early summertime to mist its visitors and a delicate yellow glow in the winter. Though the waterfall is not wheelchair accessible, it is only a 10-minute walk down a paved path from the main visitor parking lot. Visit as part of a larger trip to Yosemite from San Francisco or Los Angeles to make the most of your time in California.
Nugget Falls is all about location, with its position at the tail end of Alaska’s Mendenhall Glacier helping it make the cut as one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the USA. The falls are formed from a glacial creek and make their way into Mendenhall Lake over the course of a 2-tiered drop. Though accessible on there own via a graveled path, they are often visited as part of a Juneau shore excursion or Mendenhall Lake tour.
Hike past three waterfalls in three miles on a trip to Virginia Falls in Glacier National Park. A moderate trail passes by Baring Falls and St. Mary Falls before culminating at Virginia Falls, widely considered one of the best waterfalls in all of Glacier National Park for its turquoise waters and crystal pools perfect for dipping your feet in.
At 811-feet tall, Whitewater Falls is the tallest waterfall in the Eastern United States, with beauty to boot. The multi-tiered falls break over a series of jutting rocks, all clearly visible from two observation decks. Take a short hike down a paved walkway to the upper overlook, or head down the 154-step staircase to reach the lower observation area, considered by many to have better views.
A 20th-century stone bridge strung between two cliffs offers the best views of Multnomah Falls, one of the most famous waterfalls in all of Oregon. Stand on the bridge to admire views of the 542-foot tall upper tier and 69-foot tall lower tier from a single vantage point, providing a contrast that puts the falls’ sheer size into perspective. See the falls on their own, or combine with a trip to the historic Multnomah Falls Lodge. The falls make an ideal Portland day trip when combined with other Columbia River Gorge attractions.
Bushkill Falls is not just one waterfall, but a series of eight equally impressive cascades in Pennsylvania’s Poconos Mountains. Get up close to all eight falls as you hike down a network of trails ranging from easy to difficult, or admire views from the park’s miniature golf course or paddle boats as you cruise across Twin Lakes. The amicably nicknamed “Niagara of Pennsylvania” is open seasonally from March through November.
The little-known Union Falls is a gem of Yellowstone National Park—and getting there might feel like a treasure hunt. Those willing to make the 8-mile hike each way through rugged terrain will be rewarded with a view of one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the USA, likely without another soul in sight. Plan to spend the night at one of the backcountry camping areas along the way or start out early and prepared for a full day of hiking.
Though the park is in Wyoming, it’s suggested that West Yellowstone, Montana, is the place to stay for best exploration.
A 115-foot cascade billows over the remnants of an ancient volcanic eruption at Mesa Falls in Ashton, Idaho. The Lower Falls can be seen from a drive-up parking area with a lookout point, but the real show is at the Upper Falls, accessible by a short paved path from the visitors center. Mesa Falls is yet undiscovered by most area visitors, making for a more tranquil viewing experience.
Escape the desert heat on a hike to Calf Creek Falls, located in Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Though there are an upper and lower portion of the falls, the lower is by far the favorite, with a relatively flat six-mile out-and-back hike, a taller cascade, and more scenic views along the way. Pack a picnic and swimsuit for a perfect summer day.
Are you looking for your next travel destination? With thousands of cities in the world, it can be hard to choose which is the right one for your trip. Thankfully, we’ve got you covered with the top 10 “Most Excellent” cities.
This ranking is based on the places that have the most TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence recipients (FlipKey is a TripAdvisor company). To get one, restaurants, experiences, and accommodations in that destination need to deliver great service and consistently achieve high reviews on our sites from travelers like you.
So without further ado, here they are—the “most excellent” cities in the world!
Key West, USA
Key West might be the lowest latitude of land in the United States, but it’s at the top of our list of most excellent cities in the world. Maybe it has to do with the fact that the sun is always shining, the locals are always smiling, and the people are always dining (on key lime pie).
Reykjavik is the world’s most northernmost capital filled with day excursions and Northern Lights that will be sure to brighten up your experiences. Don’t forget to check out this destination’s geothermal springs and amazing spas.
The colorful homes of Amsterdam surround the canals and bridges, creating a picturesque moment for a traveler’s vacation. Must-sees of Amsterdam include (but aren’t limited to), the Anne Frank House, I Amsterdam sign and the Van Gogh Museum.
Hop off the plane in Dublin and grab yourself a pint of Guinness fresh from the iconic Guinness factory. If you get too full eating and drinking at some of Dublin’s famous pubs, be sure to check out the Dublin zoo or the Dublin Castle.
The romantic city of Bali is like a fantasy come true. Soak up the sun while swimming in the bright blue water or walk along the fine white sand before heading on shore to explore the Sacred Monkey Forest or the many temples on this tropical island.
Krakow is culturally and politically momentous. Many travelers come to pay their respects at the Plaszow Concentration Camp and the Oskar Schindler Factory. The modern city is also home to cafés, shops, pubs and a 10-acre Main Market Square.
Scotland’s largest city is a popular spot for soaking in history, going on shopping trips or exploring its many free museums and galleries. The city also hosts some great musical events for a fun evening out.
New Orleans is the life of the party. Saunter down its famous Bourbon Street and historic French Quarter. Sample Creole cooking or even visit the city’s beautiful Garden District. And if the timing is right, you might even be able to visit during Mardi Gras, a party so big it’s world-famous.
Certificate of Excellence winners were selected using a proprietary algorithm that takes into account the quality, quantity, and recency of user reviews, as well as the business’ tenure on the site. Recipients must maintain an overall TripAdvisor rating of at least four out of five, have a minimum number of reviews and have been listed on TripAdvisor for at least twelve months. A business must be listed for the full 12-month qualifying period between April 1 to March 31 to be considered. Recipients are announced only once a year in late May. FlipKey is a TripAdvisor company and part of TripAdvisor’s vacation rental business.
“Most Excellent” Methodology
“Most Excellent” cities and countries were calculated as a percentage of businesses listed on TripAdvisor that received a Certificate of Excellence recognition within that destination during the qualifying period. Cities must have had a minimum of 1,000 businesses (i.e., accommodations, restaurants, experiences) listed on TripAdvisor. FlipKey is a TripAdvisor company and part of TripAdvisor’s vacation rental business.
This post was originally published on the TripAdvisor blog. FlipKey is a TripAdvisor company.
Here are five tours you can book on TripAdvisor that will guide you deeper into some of the world’s most famous markets, for a delicious taste of the homegrown way of life. And if you’re planning a trip to one of these cities, consider staying in an apartment rental from FlipKey as your home base! You’ll no doubt make use of the full kitchen after visiting these world-class markets.
The vivid colors, the mouth-watering aromas, the sounds of good-natured bargaining…. In any corner of the world, a local food market is a multi-sensory snapshot of that region’s culture. Here are five tours and popular foodie attractions that are worth the trip.
Just about every tourist who comes through Seattle stops to watch the fishmongers throwing their catch around. Few get to actually try their hand at throwing a fish, but that’s what you’ll get to do on Savor Seattle’s special-access tour of the Pike Place Market. You’ll arrive just as the market opens, before the crowds descend, and sample at least 17 delicacies from nine different vendors during the two-hour tour. Leave with a discount card that gives you 10-15% off at more than 40 of the city’s restaurants and attractions.
Speaking of fish, Tokyo is home to the world’s largest seafood market, and this four-hour tour combines an exploration of Tsukiji’s inner workings (where tuna are auctioned off to restaurants and retailers from around the globe) with a sushi-making workshop led by a sushi master—capped off with lunch to taste your creations. You’ll return home knowing how to choose the freshest fish in your neighborhood grocery store.
France’s capital is full of food markets, but the Marché d’Aligre, in the 12th Arrondissement’s Bastille district, is one of the most authentic and traditional. Book an apartment with a kitchen so that you can load up on produce and other gourmet ingredients during this three-hour market tour by The French Way, which includes food, wine, and olive oil tastings. The tour ends in an elevated garden built atop abandoned train tracks, a spot known to locals but few tourists.
If Mexican food means little more than tacos to you, prepare to be surprised by the breadth and depth of the country’s culinary history during a food tour on Mexico City’s street food. Taste grasshoppers, edible flowers, organic coffee, and gourmet cheese at the San Juan Market, then head to the nearby Artisan Market to browse through handmade pottery, silver, leatherwork, and more from around the country. At both markets, your guide will lead you to the booths with the finest goods, where you can speak directly to the people who prepared the snacks or produced the crafts.
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