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The best places to visit in the USA for every month of 2021

We've named the 12 best places to visit in the USA —one amazing destination for every month of the year.

Written by
Time Out contributors
Sarah Medina
Jenny Peters

Sometimes you know when you can go on vacation, but have no idea where to go. We're here to help with our picks for the best places to visit in the USA divided into the twelve months of the year. And since we don't really know what 2021 will look like yet, we've included plenty of places where you can socially distance, enjoy the great outdoors and stay safe. So add these gorgeous spots to your 2021 bucket list; You'll find some of the best cities in America, gorgeous national parks in places as faraway as Alaska and Hawaii, and even some awe-inspiring craters, crevices and other natural wonders. Just consider this your guide to the beautiful ol' US of A—from sea to shining sea, and from January to December. 

RECOMMENDED: 13 awesome and new things to do in the USA in 2021

Time Out Market United States

Time Out’s expansive food-and-culture destinations are what happens when your go-to guide to the city’s best restaurants, bars and things to do becomes an actual place. These are the spots we’ve curated with the same fuss, care and curiosity we bring to our editorial—and there’s probably one near you right now.

Best places to visit in the USA

January: Yellowstone National Park
Photograph: Shutterstock

1. January: Yellowstone National Park

This world-famous Wyoming national park is always spectacular, and while it’s understandably mainly visited in warmer months, if you can get there in January you’ll be in for a real treat, with the whole place transformed into an other-worldly wintery wilderness. Animals are much easier to spot in the snow, with the most notable example being bison, complete with their shaggy winter coats, and the steam from the geysers is far more pronounced.

February: Colorado
Photograph: Courtesy Dunton Hot Springs/JACK RICHMOND

2. February: Colorado

It’s no secret that Colorado ski resorts are among the country’s best, but that's not all this state has to offer outdoor enthusiasts in the winter. Try your hand at heli-skiing (that's dropping from a helicopter rather than a ski lift) in the backcountry at Telluride, bask in natural hot springs after your ride down the mountain in Steamboat Springs, or embrace winter camping (and dog sledding) at the refurbished mine town of Dunton Hot Springs, where you'll find an Old West saloon, the opportunity to ice climb and (of course) more hot springs. 

March: Hawaii
Photograph: Shutterstock

3. March: Hawaii

Hawaii enjoys beautiful weather and comfortable temperatures year-round, with thermometers reliably staying above 79F and below 88F, but March and April are a particularly pleasant time to visit, slipping in between the main spring and summer vacation seasons. From the massive volcanoes on the Big Island (Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa and Kilauea), and the Na Pali cliffs of Kauai, to the pristine beaches of Oahu—every part of the state is stunning. But if you have to pick just one spot to see while you're there, we recommend heading to very top of Maui, where the Haleakalā crater's huge caldera's landscape is otherworldly.

April: Washington DC
Photograph: Shutterstock

4. April: Washington DC

Despite being such a historic city, Washington DC keeps evolving—even new museums are breaking ground. But with the pandemic forcing some of the city's headliners to temporarily shutter, there's still one big reason to head to D.C. this spring: cherry blossom season. While Japan’s cherry blossom season seems to grab most of the world’s attention, Washington D.C. has a pretty good one too, which typically spans late March into early April. The best place to see it is the Tidal Basin, where over 3,000 trees transform into radiant blooms. And you can still get your obligatory selfie with the White House/Lincoln Memoral/National Mall while you're in town. 

May: The Mighty Five

5. May: The Mighty Five

No idea what The Mighty Five is? We're talking about Utah's wild landscape, which is connected by a series of five national parks—Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, and Arches (the iconic Monument Valley is located on Navajo land). You've seen that valley on the silver screen in almost every John Wayne western; the incredible thing about it is it hasn't changed an iota over the years. In all five destinations, notice massive sandstone formations, twisty caves and dark skies bursting with stars that up the beauty ante. 

June: The West Coast
Photograph: Courtesy Unsplash/Ryan Ancill

6. June: The West Coast

Sound the road trip klaxon! California and the Pacific Northwest are calling. Head out in June to avoid the July 4th madness, when roads in the U.S. will be rammed with long weekenders on their way to family barbecues and baseball games, and take the whole month to discover the best of the West Coast. Whether you want to catch some rays in San Diego, forest bathe in Oregon, tour Seattle’s street art or simply make the most of Vancouver's least rainy month of the year, this slice of North America is as diverse as its days are long.

July: Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island
Photograph: Shutterstock

7. July: Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island

At the far reaches of the northeast coastline of America is Acadia National Park, which covers much of Mount Desert Island (beautiful Bar Harbor is here, too) and beyond. Crashing Atlantic Ocean waves hit rocky beaches, massive granite rock formations loom and quiet forests, lakes and ponds await you here. Once you've experienced this achingly lovely island sanctuary, there are plenty of Maine's famed lobster roll stands waiting near Bar Harbor ready to feed you the state's delicious crustacean.

August: Alaska
Photograph: Shutterstock

8. August: Alaska

August is slightly rainier in August than earlier summer months, but with fewer crowds and lower prices to be found, the benefits often outweigh the weather risks. It’s a wonderful month to spot caribou, wolves and golden eagles in Denali National Park, as well as grizzly bears, who are busy hunting salmon in order to fatten up before hibernation. They also nibble on the season’s abundant berries—blueberries are particularly fat and juicy in Alaska—and you can taste them too at the annual Alyeska Berry Festival in Anchorage (assuming festivals are a thing again in August.) 

September: Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Photograph: Shutterstock

9. September: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

America's most visited national park, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a place where the easygoing rhythm of the South combines with an outdoor lover's heaven. Hike in to see lovely waterfalls and expansive views filled with mountains and forests, fish for trout in a quiet stream (you'll need a permit) and peep at a riot of colors during the autumn foliage change. You might run into someone hiking the Appalachian Trail, too, for 71 miles of that 2,190-mile path run through the Great Smoky Mountains.

October: New Mexico
Photograph: Shutterstock

10. October: New Mexico

There’s a lot more to New Mexico than desert and a certain Netflix show. Every October, Albuquerque hosts its eye-popping International Balloon Fiesta, where you can spot hundreds of technicolour hot air balloons make their spectacular ascent. Maybe it’s the seemingly endless skies and epic sunrises that make it a prime location, but it’s become the world’s largest balloon festival and the most photographed event on Earth. Also make time to visit Santa Fe, in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, for a mix of Spanish colonial architecture and earth-coloured historic adobe neighbourhoods, plus a comprehensive Georgia O'Keefe Museum dedicated to her artistic legacy and American modernism.

November: Las Vegas
Photograph: Shutterstock

11. November: Las Vegas

As the names of artists now getting residencies in Las Vegas get bigger and more relevant (like Lady Gaga and Bruno Mars), so does Sin City’s credibility as an entertainment destination. So do catch a show (you know, if crowds are allowed now) while you’re there, but, since temperatures are pleasantly cool at this time of year, now is also the perfect time for exploring off-strip. Want geological beauty? Head to rouge-tinted Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Street art? Go downtown. Mafia stuff? Don’t miss the Mob Museum, with an in-house distillery.

December: Miami
Photograph: Shutterstock

12. December: Miami

For an arty party in the city it has to be Art Basel in Miami. In December the Swiss-born contemporary art fair arrives in Miami to exhibit and sell the work of established international artists. But you don’t have to be in the industry, or uber-rich, to get in on the action: plenty of fringe events happen outside of the main convention centre at Miami Beach that same week. Check out the public sculpture, and the many pop-ups, gallery events and installations that have led this to be dubbed ‘Art Week’ by locals. In between, hit up South Beach for tanning and our very own Time Out Market Miami for grubbing. Welcome to Miami! 

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