The USA is enormous and incredibly diverse, so if you’re planning a holiday there, deciding where to go can be a difficult decision. Deciding when to go can be tricky too, and while some US states are gorgeous throughout the year, for many others, getting the timing right can make or break your trip. So if you have a specific window of travel you’re looking at, which states are best to visit?
To help you out, we’ve put together a month by month guide of which states are best to visit throughout the year.
If you like skiing, heading to Colorado in January just makes sense. Colorado is home to the best ski resorts in the country, and visiting after the Christmas excitement means you’ll get to enjoy a quieter, more peaceful holiday.
If you want to hit plenty of slopes on your break, you may want to visit Vail, a snow-covered city that has over 5,000 acres of skiable terrain, gorgeous mountains, and cosy cabins.
Besides skiing and snowboarding, this is a state where outdoor enthusiasts will be truly spoiled for choice… In Steamboat Springs you can enjoy a relaxing soak in natural hot springs, and in Dunton Hot Springs you can test your toughness with some winter camping and ice climbing, before relaxing in an Old West-style saloon – or perhaps with another well-deserved soak in a bubbling hot spring!
If you’re looking to escape the winter blues, Hawaii is an excellent choice. This stunning Pacific island enjoys beautiful weather throughout the year, and in January, temperatures remain fixed in the mid-20s.
There’s plenty to see and do here. You can visit the huge volcanoes on the Big Island, marvel at the Na Pali cliffs of Kauai, and kick back on the beautiful beaches of Oahu.
If you’re into wildlife, you might want to think about heading to Lanai, which is one of the smallest and most rugged islands of Hawaii. Aside from its obligatory beaches and volcanoes, this is one of the very best places in the world to spot humpback whales, and in January you can often watch them breaching majestically from the shore.
With humid swampland in the South and prairie farmland in the North, Louisiana is known for its hot and steamy summers – but visiting in February means bypassing this intensely sweltering season.
With average highs of around 19C, you won’t have to worry about being too hot or cold, and a February holiday means you can experience one of the state’s most magical celebrations: Mardi Gras.
Mardi Gras is celebrated throughout Louisiana, but it’s in New Orleans that it really comes alive. Festivities run for two weeks before Shrove Tuesday, and there are hundreds of parades and parties.
Aside from Mardi Gras, New Orleans is a uniquely charming city. Packed with history, it’s the home of jazz, and its cuisine is a mouthwatering mix of Caribbean, African, and European influences.
If you’re looking to escape the grey, dreary days of February, you might want to visit New Mexico. With temperatures averaging around 15C in February, it’s not exactly hot. But, with 325 sunny days a year, you’re pretty much guaranteed sunshine.
New Mexico has a wonderfully dramatic landscape, and whether it’s juniper-speckled hills or the Rio Grande Gorge, the whole state glows in sunlight.
For a city break, head to Santa Fe, the highest state capital in the US, and a city that’s known for its arts and food. Home to some of the best chocolate, chillies, and enchiladas in the US, you can feast on flavoursome food before walking it off in one of the many art galleries – there are over 250 in downtown Santa Fe alone, though the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum is a must-visit – or cycling in the sun.
Sandwiched between the astoundingly beautiful states of Montana and Oregon, Idaho is one of the US’s most underrated places – as this rugged state is home to some of the most gorgeous scenery in America. Plus, with almost four million acres of wilderness, it’s the third-wildest state in the country.
While you can visit Idaho in summer, to get the most out of this state it’s better to visit in March if you want to enjoy an incredibly varied holiday.
You can ski in Sun Valley, enjoy a tour through the Snake River Valley wine region, and hike in the national parks while the weather’s still pleasantly cool. March is also festival season (“fort” season) in Idaho – and whether you want to check out film festivals, yoga festivals, or rock festivals, there’s something for everyone.
If you’re a fan of country music, Tennessee has an obvious appeal. Over time, the folk music of the state’s eastern mountains merged with the blues rhythms of the western Delta to create country music, which Nashville is now so famous for; and music forms a huge part of Tennessee’s identity.
Though, whether you like country music or not, this diverse state has much to offer – especially in March.
In early spring, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park comes into its own, and by March bright orange lilies are in full bloom. Temperatures are also pleasantly cool in spring, so hiking mountains trails is far more enjoyable than in the sweltering summer months.
The city of Sevierville is the perfect base to explore the Smoky Mountains. Plus, as Dolly Parton’s hometown, it’s great for music fans, too.
Virginia and Maryland
As the birthplace of America, Virginia is packed with history – and this state has played a key role in just about every important US drama, from the Civil wars to the Civil Rights movement.
Highlights include the beaches of Chesapeake Bay, the pine forests and marshes of Piedmont, and the rolling Blue Ridge mountains. And though it’s beautiful year-round, this diverse state looks drastically different from month to month.
April is arguably one of the best times to visit Northern Virginia and Maryland when this part of the country wakes up after winter. It also means you can catch the cherry blossoms in and around the DC area. Every April, the city hosts the National Cherry Blossom Festival, and these radiant blooms provide the perfect setting for you to immerse yourself in American history and culture.
Arizona is a state that’s made for road trips, and driving under its endless skies to visit iconic attractions like the Grand Canyon and Cathedral Rock is something you’ll remember forever.
But in summer temperatures reach well over 40 C – so unless you like things insanely hot, it’s definitely best to visit in spring, when the days are warm rather than hot, and the nights are pleasantly cool. Plus, if you’re visiting sites like the Grand Canyon, there are a fraction of the number of visitors in April than there are in the summer months.
The desert city of Tucson is a great place to stay, and in springtime, the hills around the city are constantly changing colour as the many different types of wildflowers and cacti start to bloom. April is definitely the month with the most scenic variety!
Kentucky, also known as the ‘Bluegrass State’, is a fascinating place known for its lush green landscapes, bluegrass music, rich history, Kentucky fried chicken, and university basketball. As its nickname suggests, Kentucky is also famous for its native bluegrass, which grows in many of the lawns and pastures throughout the state.
In spring, bluegrass grows more vigorously, spring flowers burst into bloom, and Horse Country becomes home to lots of new foals! Though Kentucky can get extremely hot and humid during the summer, May offers more comfortable temperatures of between 14 C and 24 C.
If you love nature and what to take in spectacular countryside views, then Bluegrass Country is the place to visit. In the surrounding towns and villages, you’ll also be met with warm Southern hospitality, live bluegrass music, and captivating horse farms.
Or, if you want to visit museums and art galleries, feast on fried chicken, and sip on bourbon in one of the city’s many trendy bars, then head to Kentucky’s cultural capital of Louisville (which is also the birthplace of Muhammed Ali!).
To find out more about Kentucky, you might want to read our article; 9 amazing places to visit in the Bluegrass State.
By May, much of the US will be cloaked in patches of vivid green and bright-coloured wildflowers. This coupled with the warmer temperatures makes it the ideal time to discover the country’s natural wonders.
Utah in particular turns into a beautiful and geologically unique wonderland come the spring – and now the wildlife is out of hibernation, there’s no better time to visit the Mighty Five.
The Mighty Five is the nickname for Utah’s five magnificent national parks – Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, and Arches – where you can experience the astonishing natural beauty of this diverse state.
You should also check out Monument Valley, where the sight of the iconic red sandstone formations (a staple in many John Wayne Westerns) will take your breath away.
The tenth-largest and least populous state in the US (bar Alaska) is home to seven stunning national parks. So if you’re into dramatic mountains, fascinating wildlife, and unique geology, it’s hard to think of a better place to visit.
This is a state of the Great Plains, where a vast and empty wilderness lies under huge blue skies – but it’s also a state of canyons, mountains, forests, and bubbling hot springs.
While Grand Teton National Park is undeniably awe-inspiring, it’s Yellowstone that’s most famous. In the summer months, huge crowds flock to Yellowstone, but May is early enough that it’s still quiet, yet late enough for all the trails to be open and for the weather to be warm.
Mammoth Hot Springs and Yellowstone Lake are also must-visits – and look out for elk, bison, grizzly bears, and wolves!
California, Oregon, and Washington
If you’re drawn to the West Coast, June is a great time to visit. California and the Pacific Northwest come into their own in early summer, and if you fancy a road trip, it’s the best way to discover this diverse part of the country.
In Seattle, the weather is notoriously rainy – but in June, it’s usually bright and sunny, allowing you to explore the cool city’s streets and discover the beauty of the Evergreen State.
Meanwhile, Oregon is the perfect place to immerse yourself in nature and enjoy hiking through forests or Crater Lake National Park.
In California, the waterfalls of Yosemite are at their most breathtaking in June, when the last of the snow causes the water to rush. If you love wine, temperatures in Napa and Sonoma are still warm rather than hot – and if you like, you can even head up to Tahoe to ski!
Any visit to NYC tends to involve a lot of walking around outside. And while the city is magical around the Christmas period, it’s much more enjoyable to explore in the warmth rather than the biting cold.
In June, the stagnant summer-in-the-city heat hasn’t usually hit, so you can enjoy relaxing in rooftop bars, strolling in Central Park, and sampling the excellent street food without breaking a sweat.
Upstate New York is especially gorgeous in early summer. Most visitors flock to the Adirondack Mountains in July or August, when the schools are out for summer – or in autumn, to see the leaves change colour. But upstate New York is just as beautiful in June.
You can stay active by hiking in the mountains, cool off with a swim in the many lakes, or try your hand at kayaking, canoeing, and sailing.
July is one of the hottest and busiest months for US travel, and you’ll usually need to not only make reservations well in advance but also be prepared to put up with hordes of tourists. So why not head to a less-visited state, like Minnesota?
Known as the land of 10,000 lakes, this state actually has 11,842 lakes – and more shoreline than Florida, Hawaii, and California… combined.
If you want to get away from it all, head to Boundary Waters, where you can swim in the day and listen to wolf howls at night. Or you could visit Voyageurs National Park, where there are vast forests and glittering lakes to explore.
For those who want to discover a new city, June nights in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St Paul) are perfect for alfresco dining, strolling around, or relaxing in one of the 100+ craft breweries.
Alaska might be synonymous with snow. But if you want to explore America’s final frontier, you might want to think about heading here in summer. Temperatures usually range between 15C and 20C in July, and with 19 hours of daylight, you’ll have plenty of time for exploring!
July is also a great month to spot grizzly bears, caribou, wolves, and golden eagles in the breathtaking Denali National Park.
If you want to feel like an intrepid explorer, why not head over to Glacier Bay National Park – one of the most spectacular places in this ruggedly beautiful state? Aside from glaciers, there are millions of acres of mountains and coastline here, as well as temperate forests. It’s very remote and you can only get here by boat or plane – but there are lodgings as well as camping available, so you don’t have to rough it.
Iowa may not possess the glitz and glamour of other states, but it has a lot to offer – particularly in summer. With its vast cornfields, big red barns, and even bigger blue skies, it has a lovely, laidback charm, and famously friendly locals.
There are many picture-perfect rural towns here. Some sit along the towering bluffs on the Mississippi River, others are dotted among the soaring Loess Hills.
The cliffs and limestone caves at Maquoketa Caves State Park are a joy to explore in August. Or, if you want to experience some small city life, Iowa City is worth a visit.
Aside from immersing yourself in rural life and exploring the countryside, a visit in August means you can visit the state’s must-see event: the Iowa State Fair. Here you can discover all the best food, games, and music the state has to offer.
With dense forests, gorgeous lakes, beautiful beaches, and magnificent mountains, Maine is arguably one of the most scenic states in the US.
As big as the other five New England states combined, it has the population of Rhode Island – and it’s likely that it’s only this northeastern state’s unbelievably bleak winters that have stopped it from becoming a crowded tourist hub. But in summer, it’s paradise.
In Acadia National Park you can watch the Atlantic Ocean crash onto rocky beaches, gaze up at huge rock formations, and enjoy quiet reflection in tranquil forests. Hiking up Cadillac Mountain to see the first sunrise in the country is also something you’ll remember forever.
Aside from nature, the lovely city of Portland is a great place to stay. And if you like seafood, the state’s famous lobster shacks await.
As New England’s most populous state, Massachusetts is packed with variety. Visitors can kick back on the sandy beaches of Cape Cod, enjoy hiking in the beautiful Berkshire Hills, or explore the historic, culture-soaked streets of Boston.
In summer it can get uncomfortably hot here, though – plus the crowds can be unpleasant – so visiting in September when it’s cooler and quieter is ideal.
If you’re into wildlife, September is a great month for whale-watching cruises – and if you’re into history, sites like Plymouth, Salem, and Lexington are lovely to explore in early autumn.
Boston is at its most beautiful when the leaves first start to turn, so walking along the Freedom Trail and visiting the sites will be a joy. Plus, if you fancy catching a Red Sox game, it’s the perfect weather for it!
For wildlife and nature enthusiasts, Montana is an absolute dream. This is Big Sky Country: a land of snow-capped mountains, churning rivers, dense forests, glacial valleys, and sparkling blue lakes.
In September, it’s still wonderfully warm here but not unbearably hot. And the crowds have thinned out in Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks (the state’s top attractions).
It’s also a good time to see grizzly bears, elk, and bighorn sheep, which are found in greater numbers here than just about anywhere else in North America.
If you’re into US history, Montana is also home to Little Big Horn Battlefield – and Western culture, with its cowboys and ranches, still lives on here.
Missoula and Bozeman have plenty of great brewpubs, restaurants, and museums to keep you busy too.
By October, temperatures fall, and the changing seasons bring captivating colour to the Northern states.
Connecticut is famous for its stunning foliage and the number of autumn-themed events it has on – so if you’re someone who loves autumn, there’s no better time to go. From harvest festivals to pumpkin patches, and farmers markets to vegetable picking, this is about as autumnal as it gets.
In October, it’s still warm enough to trek through the forests and admire the kaleidoscopic canopies – and when you’ve had your fill of “leaf peeping” there are plenty of art galleries, vineyards, historical houses, and museums to check out in this tiny state.
Plus, the coast is home to lovely towns, from colonial Mystic and Stonington to trendy New London and intellectual New Haven, home of Yale University.
If you like the idea of being outside in autumn and marvelling at the beauty of nature, you might want to head to North Carolina in October.
The Great Smoky Mountains isn’t only America’s most visited national park – it’s also another autumn leaf hotspot. But, at this time of year, you won’t have to deal with hundreds of thousands of people flocking up from NYC. In October, the weather in North Carolina is still pleasant too, and it’s the perfect temperature for a brisk mountain hike.
Outside of the park, there’s Asheville, which is known for being one of the quirkiest cities in the US and having an excellent food scene. Autumn is an ideal time to sit outside at one of the city’s main craft breweries and enjoy a refreshing drink after a day of exploring.
In the spring and summer months, Nevada is uncomfortably hot. But by November, temperatures hover just below 20C, with clear blue skies and a pleasant light breeze.
If you want to visit Las Vegas, November is a great time to go. The crowds have thinned out, the hotels are reasonably priced, and you can enjoy everything Sin City has to offer in a more relaxed, laidback manner.
Away from Vegas, there’s plenty to see and do at this time of year. Death Valley is one of the hottest places in the world, and in summer the heat is truly unbearable. However, in November, temperatures rarely go over 25C, making exploring far more enjoyable.
In northern Nevada, near Lake Tahoe, you may even get snow in November. And at the Great Basin National Park, you can marvel at the starry skies.
Florida might conjure up images of Mickey Mouse, theme parks, and beaches – yet this state is far more diverse than you might think.
Away from its resorts, you’ll find vast forests, primaeval swamps, and vibrant cities. And in terms of weather, November is an ideal time to visit. The muggy summer has passed, as has hurricane season, and temperatures hover in the pleasant early 20s.
For nature and wildlife enthusiasts, November is a good time to explore Florida’s semi-tropical wilderness, where alligators swim along the waterways, spoonbills wade through lakes, and ospreys and eagles soar overhead.
If you’re dreaming of sea, sand and sunsets, Key West is the place to head, as temperatures average 26C in November. Or, if you’re looking for a city break, Miami ticks the box.
If you’re thinking about a winter break, one that’s full of Christmas cheer and lots of snow, Vermont is an excellent choice.
Even under blankets of snow, Vermont’s rural farmland, rugged mountains, and picturesque villages make it one of the country’s prettiest states. If you’re looking for romance, there are plenty of cosy cottages you can curl up in. Though, if you want adventure, you’ll find that here too.
For skiing and snowboarding, head to Stowe, a small town that comes alive in December. In the daytime, you can hit the slopes or go dog-sledding, and in the evenings you can check out traditional holiday parades and celebrations – or stay cosy indoors.
Foodies will be in their element too, as Vermont is known for its excellent local produce – and the country’s densest collection of craft brewers.
U.S. Virgin Islands
Or, for a totally different type of winter break, why not head to the US Virgin Islands?
The Caribbean islands of St Croix, St Thomas, and St John are US territories (though they feel a world away from the rest of the country), and in December temperatures rarely drop below 25C. So, if you’re hoping to spend lazy days sunbathing, swimming or snorkelling, you’ll be able to do plenty of that here.
St Thomas is the most developed of the three islands, with a vast array of resorts and watersports options – though it does get busy in December.
St John is the smallest island, and with untouched beaches and a focus on environmental preservation, it’s ideal for people who prefer quieter, more outdoorsy breaks.
Meanwhile, St. Croix is the largest island and is perfect if you want to soak up the local culture.
America is one of the most diverse countries in the world, and its varying climate, weather, and landscapes mean that whenever you choose to holiday here, there’s a perfect place to visit. From sun-drenched beaches to snow-capped mountains, dense forests and vast open deserts, this is a country of extreme differences and enormous beauty.
Whatever type of holiday you’re looking for, you’ll be able to find it – whether you like laidback beach breaks, exhilarating outdoors holiday, or simply prefer exploring new cities and discovering the local culture.