Top 10 best non-beach vacations in the US

Going to the beach for a vacation is such a cliche. What if your family doesn’t like sand? What if you’ve been to the beach three summers in a row? Is it time for a new vacation idea?

If so, while you’re considering which airline to fly and whether or not you should purchase travel insurance, you should also take a look at these top non-beach vacations to try something different.

top non-beach vacations chicago
Top non-beach vacations in the USA: Chicago

1. Chicago

Chicago, Illinois is a city that has it all: a vibrant downtown scene, historical buildings and ballparks, a marvelous shopping district, and even a massive lake if you do want to spend some time on or near the water. If you’re looking to take in some art, the Art Institute of Chicago has you covered and if classical music is your thing, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is one of the best in the country.

best non-beach vacations new orleans
Best non-beach vacations in the US: New Orleans

2. New Orleans

While not necessarily a kid-friendly place, New Orleans is the perfect adult adventure, particularly if you visit during Mardi Gras. The famous French Quarter features incredible historic architecture and delicious food, including world-renowned beignets. Bourbon street is filled with nightclubs and bars, interesting shops, and fascinating museums that tell the unbelievable history of this intriguing city. Don’t forget to take a ghost tour or two, as New Orleans is full of supernatural tales from as early as 1700.

popular non-beach vacations napa valley us
Popular non-beach vacations in the US: Napa Valley

3. Napa Valley

This lush and picturesque valley is located in northern California, just an hour from the gorgeous Sonoma coast, so if you’re looking to combine a wine tour with a beach vacation, this could be the ideal option. But the purpose of a trip to Napa Valley is, of course, the wine. It features a temperate climate all year, making it a popular place for tourists, even in the dead of winter. There are more than 400 wineries and vineyards in the valley, so pick one or several and get ready to enjoy the fruit of the vine.

usa non-beach vacations washington dc
USA destinations for non-beach vacations: Washington DC

4. Washington D.C.

History buffs will agree that Washington D.C. is a must-stop on any historic trip around the country. You can spend hours visiting famous buildings like the Capitol and White House, statues like the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, and somber reminders of war such as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (the Vietnam War Wall) and the World War 2 Memorial. If you’re not careful, you could find yourself spending an entire day walking the National Mall, so be sure to plan out your trip ahead of time so you can see everything there is to see.

lake tahoe non-beach vacations usa
Lake Tahoe is one of the best destinations for non-beach vacations in USA

5. Lake Tahoe

Sometimes, you still want to vacation near the water, but just don’t want to do another beach trip. In that case, give Lake Tahoe a try. This nearly 200-mile lake offers outdoor activities that may just make this your new favorite destination. Not only are all the typical lake activities available (waterskiing, boating, fishing, etc.), but there’s also hiking available in the Emerald Bay State Park, a ropes course at Tahoe City Treetop Adventures, and various high-end spas like the one at the Resort at Squaw Creek.

6. The Finger Lakes

You don’t even have to get too far out of the big city to experience a peaceful non-beach holiday. By visiting the Finger Lakes in central New York, you’ll witness exquisite beauty and have the option of participating in numerous water activities like swimming, water skiing, kayaking, fishing, sailing, and snorkeling. If water sports aren’t your thing, the Finger Lakes area is also home to the largest concentration of wineries in the state. In fact, this region is often referred to as the East Coast Napa Valley and is an excellent wine-tasting destination.

providence destinations non-beach vacations
Providence is one of the top 10 destinations for non-beach vacations in the US

7. Providence

Some people might be surprised to see the capital of Rhode Island on this list. After all, the smallest state in the union doesn’t get much attention in the first place. But, if you’re looking for an art-filled holiday, Providence has everything you need and more. In summer, take advantage of the city’s arts and community engagement event called WaterFire. This free city-wide program culminates in an award-winning sculpture on three rivers in downtown Providence that encompasses more than 80 bonfires alit on the water.

best non-beach vacations atlanta georgia
Some of the best non-beach vacations in the US can be planned in Atlanta Georgia

8. Atlanta

Georgia is a wonderful state to visit if you’re looking for both a non-beach trip and one that feels a bit like Hollywood. That’s because Georgia is now the number one place in the world to film a movie. It’s great fun to check out the filming locations of your favorite films and shows, but there are many other things to do as well. The history in Atlanta is second to none, with sites dedicated to the War of 1812, the Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement, and more. Plus, there’s a vibrant music scene that features everything from bluegrass to hip-hop.

non-beach vacations san antonio texas
Best destinations for non-beach vacations: San Antonio TX

9. San Antonio

While there are plenty of beach towns in Texas, San Antonio is a non-beach city that everyone should visit at least once in their lives. Of course, there’s the Alamo, a famous remnant of the 1836 Texas Revolution, but if history isn’t high on your priority list, there’s the River Walk, a lively downtown waterside path that features highly-rated restaurants and bars, along with boutique shops of all types. You can even take a slow cruise down the San Antonio River as you take in all the sights.

top non-beach vacations seattle
Seattle is a popular destination for non-beach vacations in the US

10. Seattle

Music aficionados will absolutely love Seattle, the birthplace of Nirvana, Sir Mix-A-Lot, and Jimi Hendrix, among others. Visit the Museum of Pop Culture for a tour through the city’s musical history, then, after a trip to the top of the famous Space Needle, check out Pike Place Market. This 1907 Farmer’s Market features fishmongers who throw their fish for their customers to catch. For those of you who just want to relax in a peaceful environment, Seattle offers that too. The city’s 485 parks are easily accessible, well-maintained, and full of fun and interesting attractions.


Tired of getting sand in your shorts at the beach? Why not give one of these 10 alternatives to beach vacations a try and find out what you’ve been missing?

Who recommends these non-beach vacations in the US

Mirela Letailleur The Travel Bunny

Mirela Letailleur is a Romanian travel blogger living in the South of France. She writes on The Travel Bunny travel blog about affordable travel in Europe. Creator of unique free travel guides and local travel expert. Problem solver. Wannabe coffee guru.

Read more about Mirela Letailleur

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