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Top 21 USA Tourism Destinations

1. San Francisco
San Francisco
With a reputation as one of the world's bohemian capitals, San Francisco is a city of unabashed open-mindedness and fierce uniqueness. Frequently referred to as the most European city in the States, San Francisco is both laid-back and cosmopolitan. There are a million ways to spend a day here, whether it's antiquing in Chinatown or wolfing down burritos in the Mission.

2. Washington D.C.
The nation's capital has a lot going for it. With iconic landmarks like the Lincoln Memorial and the world's largest obelisk, the Washington Monument, you can sightsee for days. Exploring one of the free Smithsonian museums is a pleasant way to spend a day but make sure to save some energy for an evening out -- DC has a sweet restaurant and bar scene.

3. San Diego
One could argue that San Diego is the most well-rounded destination on this list, with regards to being flexible for many different types of vacations. Families, couples and singles can all have a worthwhile time here in their own way. Mission and Pacific Beach are always crowd-pleasers and the city sports a vibrant dining and nightlife scene. And the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld are a good time for all ages.

4. New York City
New York  City

"New York can be anything you want it to be," says Lonely Planet and that is the primary reason it's among the leaders of this list. The sheer amount of things to do puts most of its peers to shame and can be almost overwhelming to visitors. Cultures from all over the world mesh here, often with spectacular results (try the hybrid Cuban-Chinese diner, La Caridad 78 for a tasty example of this).

5. Yellowstone
When it comes to nature travel, you just can't do better than Yellowstone National Park. Smarter Travel says, "Geysers, hot springs, mountains, waterfalls, animals you'd only ever seen on the Discovery Channel standing feet away -- for many national park aficionados, Yellowstone has the best of everything." Yellowstone is also a favorite for family getaways for its unique setting and value.

6. Maui
About.com says Maui is "consistently chosen as the best island in the world," and it's easy to see why. With postcard-style beaches and terrain in some areas that looks almost otherworldly, Maui is escapism at its finest. Snorkeling is a must-do here, as is dining on the ridiculously good seafood.

7. U.S. Virgin Islands
Your experience in the U.S. Virgin Islands will depend on where you choose to spend your time. Nature, history, sunbathing, shopping … it all can be found here, if you pick the right spot. But it is the extraordinary natural beauty of the USVI that keeps bringing travelers back. To see it at its purest, make sure to visit the Virgin Islands National Park in St. John.

8. Chicago
The main appeal of Chicago has to be its neighborhoods: Each one has its own identity and characteristics that set it apart. Forget about the tourist checklist of must-sees; strolling through the different districts and exploring all they have to offer is the best way to experience Chicago. As an added bonus, some of the best dining, nightlife and shopping in the States can be found here.

9. Honolulu - Oahu
Oahu (or O'ahu, if you prefer) features a nice balance for those looking for modern city life and a beach paradise on the same trip. With nice temperatures and plenty of sun year-round, there really is no bad time to come here. Waikiki Beach promises to please, but be forewarned: There's a good chance you will be greeted by a barrage of tourists.

10. Yosemite
Adventure and nature travelers looking to dive into the best California has to offer can't do much better than Yosemite. You can check out famous landmarks like Half Dome and El Capitan, or get some exercise hiking the John Muir Trail. You can make it a camping trip or go the log cabin or hotel routes if you prefer. We recommend avoiding winter travel as this is Yosemite's wettest time of the year.

11. Las Vegas
Las Vegas
In many ways, Vegas is basically a giant playground for grown-ups. Some of the best dining, shopping and nightlife in the world can be found here, all in the comfort of climate-controlled casinos. This is not a vacation for people looking for an enriching cultural experience -- it is a getaway for people looking to escape the real world and unwind for a bit. And the fashion you do this in can be as innocent or as excessive as you choose.

12. Orlando-Walt Disney World
The family vacation to Disney World is a classic American rite of passage and it has been for a long time. While always a fantasy land for kids, over the years, the "Imagineers" of Disney have gone to great lengths to assure that this also applies to adults. Case in point is the fascinating Animal Kingdom, which opened in 1998. More than ever, Disney World offers escapism of a sort that you can't find anywhere else.

13. New Orleans
Does any city in America have a culture more its own than the Big Easy? A melting pot of influences ranging from Caribbean to European, New Orleans has a distinct personality that can be found nowhere else on the globe. The city is in the midst of an admirable comeback from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and is welcoming visitors with all the gumbo, jazz and partying they can handle.

14. Miami Beach
Combining an over the top party scene with a laid-back beach vibe is always a winning formula, but Miami Beach also has plenty more going for it. Great weather almost year-round against a scenic backdrop of palms and pastels, an array of international cuisine to test the boundaries of your palate and quirky Art Deco hotels in no short supply -- Miami Beach is all of this and a whole lot more.

15. Seattle
Seattle
Although Seattle is known for its consistently soggy weather, this Pacific Northwest city has plenty to offer. But don't come here looking for the fast-paced environment of other major U.S. destinations; Seattle exudes a laid-back aura, where café and bar culture reign supreme. Spend your stay mingling with Seattleites at Pike Place Market or on the slopes of Mount Si.

16. Austin
Austin is an enigma in the best possible sense of the word. On one hand, it's a laid-back college town in the center of Texas, with mellow coffeehouses and serene parks. On the other, it's a fast-growing cosmopolitan city with an electric nightlife scene and an unfathomable number of live-music venues. However, it's probably best to avoid Austin at the peak of summer when the temperatures soar.

17. Los Angeles
Great weather. Like, almost always. And tons of things to do, from people watching at Venice Beach to shopping on Rodeo Drive. World-class dining and nightlife can be found everywhere, and you might even get in the occasional celebrity sighting. As Frommer's puts it, "Angelenos know their city will never have the sophisticated style of Paris or the historical riches of London, but they cheerfully lay claim to living in the most entertaining city in the United States, if not the world."

18. Savannah
With an elegance and an atmosphere all its own, Savannah is a getaway for those looking for something different. Civil War-era architecture, beautiful gardens and a preserved Historic District all beg to be explored. Add this to amazing Southern cuisine, a fun nightlife scene and a generally mellower pace of life and you can see why we hold Savannah in such high regard.

19. Puerto Rico
If you’re looking to make a quick and affordable trip off of the mainland, Puerto Rico may be what you're looking for. This island appeals to a wide range of travelers: Culture-lovers, sun-worshippers, nightlife freaks and the outdoorsy adventure-types will all find what they're looking for here. Just be wary of traveling here during hurricane season.

20. Charleston
Beautiful architecture, relaxing beaches and plenty of Southern grace are the defining elements of Charleston. Strolling through downtown and exploring historic sites and nearby museums are great ways to spend those non-beach afternoons. Charleston also has a lot to offer for those looking to dig into some serious Southern dishes.

21. San Antonio
San Antonio
San Antonio's charm lies in its attractive layout and its rich history. It is large city, but retains a small-town feel. There is the obligatory trip to the Alamo, but the main attraction here is the River Walk. Here, you can find outdoor restaurants and cafes in abundance. Avoid summer travel, unless you don't mind the large crowds and the heat.
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