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USA travel guide: the best things to see and do in the United States
Destinations & Inspiration

USA travel guide: the best things to see and do in the United States

Lydia Altman
By Lydia Altman - 21 minute read

Amer­i­ca has to be one of the best hol­i­day des­ti­na­tions. Most of us have got at least one state or icon­ic city on our trav­el buck­et list (and even more of us dream of tak­ing a leisure­ly road trip that incor­po­rates a lit­tle bit of every­thing) so what­ev­er you’re plan­ning, make sure you check out our ulti­mate guide to home swap­ping in Amer­i­ca. With great house exchanges to pick from, and lots of things to see and do in some of the most excit­ing, beau­ti­ful and swap-wor­thy places in the USA, this is a coun­try that begs to be explored! 

Los Angeles

First up, we rec­om­mend vis­it­ing San­ta Mon­i­ca, Los Ange­les which is famous for its gor­geous beach­es that epit­o­mise the sun­ny Cal­i­forn­ian dream. The city is syn­ony­mous with the glam­our of Hol­ly­wood, one of the world’s most famous neigh­bour­hoods in which you can go celeb spot­ting. While you’re in San­ta Mon­i­ca, make sure you check out some of our mem­bers’ favourite local spots such as Mis­fits and Sco­pa. This impres­sive home swap prop­er­ty is near both restau­rants, with a love­ly gar­den and only a short walk to the beach!

Santa Monica, Los Angeles

San­ta Mon­i­ca, Los Angeles

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is a must-see attrac­tion in Cal­i­for­nia. This beau­ti­ful lake draws vis­i­tors in their thou­sands – and for very good rea­son. If you are vis­it­ing, check out this famous 72-mile jour­ney around the lake, and take in the most incred­i­ble scenic views. Wide­ly renowned for being one of America’s most beau­ti­ful dri­ves, stop at Emer­ald Bay Look­out (one of the most pho­tographed places in the world) and don’t for­get to go shop­ping or grab a bite to eat at Heav­en­ly Vil­lage.

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Need a gor­geous home swap in Cal­i­for­nia? We’ve got lots to pick from – just like this stun­ning town­house on the edge of Lake Tahoe. This incred­i­ble moun­tain retreat fea­tures hotel ameni­ties and a tran­quil lake­front set­ting in South Lake Tahoe. The spa­cious home is locat­ed just a few steps away from the beach and is sur­round­ed by beau­ti­ful moun­tain­side wood­lands and ski pistes – mak­ing it the ide­al loca­tion for every sea­son. Com­bin­ing the best of every world, the prop­er­ty is per­fect for a city escape as it is with­in 1 mile of the casi­nos of South Lake – and it’s equidis­tant from the Heav­en­ly Ski Resort.

View from a mountain down to Lake Tahoe
San Diego coastline

San Diego

San Diego is anoth­er top tourist des­ti­na­tion in Cal­i­for­nia – spend a cou­ple of weeks here, and expe­ri­ence the laid­back Cal­i­for­nia lifestyle! Some of the main tourist attrac­tions in San Diego are Bal­boa Park, a beau­ti­ful green space with gar­dens and sev­er­al muse­ums and the his­toric Gaslamp Quar­ter which is full of great bou­tiques, art gal­leries, and good restau­rants. The Old Town San Diego State His­toric Park should also be on your to-do list, as muse­ums, retail shops and restau­rants seam­less­ly min­gle to make this the most vis­it­ed state park in Cal­i­for­nia. It’s also a per­fect place for our mem­bers who are home swap­ping with fam­i­lies, as you can vis­it the famous San Diego Zoo! After all that activ­i­ty, you’ll need an incred­i­ble place to stay, so check out this awe­some fam­i­ly home in down­town San Diego — com­plete with views of the rolling hills!

Yosemite National Park

Locat­ed in the east­ern part of Cal­i­for­nia, Yosemite Nation­al Park is an epic swap-wor­thy hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion. As one of the most-vis­it­ed nation­al parks in the Unit­ed States, Yosemite boasts awe-inspir­ing water­falls, glac­i­ers, cliffs and giant red­wood sequoia trees! If you’re explor­ing this stun­ning part of the world, make sure you get a glimpse of the famous Bridalveil Falls and Yosemite Falls, which you can vis­it on var­i­ous hik­ing trails. Or, if you have a car, why not dri­ve the famous scenic Tio­ga Road dri­ve which offers breath­tak­ing views over Glac­i­er Point? To real­ly immerse your­self in all that Yosemite has to offer, stay in a stun­ning moun­tain view ranch like this Love Home Swap prop­er­ty which is only a short dri­ve away from Yosemite Nation­al Park. Its envi­able loca­tion means that after a long day of enjoy­ing all the splen­dours Yosemite has to offer, you can retreat to your ranch and toast some marsh­mal­lows on your pri­vate view­ing deck!

Mountains and water at Yosemite Valley

Las Vegas

Las Vegas is renowned for its casi­nos, night­clubs and grand hotels, but have you ever con­sid­ered home swap­ping in the enter­tain­ment cap­i­tal of the world? You could stay in a love­ly cen­tral­ly-locat­ed prop­er­ty like this incred­i­ble home that boasts high-end facil­i­ties and a 10-foot deep pool! So what are the best things to see and do in Las Vegas? You might be sur­prised to hear that apart from the obvi­ous appeal of the casi­nos, there are many oth­er great attrac­tions. We’d rec­om­mend walk­ing down Fre­mont Street and tak­ing in the bright lights and live enter­tain­ment, before vis­it­ing the Stratos­phere Obser­va­tion Deck which is the tallest obser­va­tion tow­er with­in the entire Unit­ed States, and is guar­an­teed to give you some out­stand­ing views of the strip. For an evening treat, the Bel­la­gio Hotel’s foun­tain show is a must-see. Dur­ing the day it runs every half hour, while it’s every fif­teen min­utes in the evening — so if you love it, you can see it again and again! If you’re a real food­ie, con­sid­er book­ing the Bac­cha­nal Buf­fet at Cae­sars Palace, which is an unfor­get­table expe­ri­ence of out­stand­ing food at an all-you-can-eat price – what’s not to love?!

The Grand Canyon

Mov­ing on from Las Vegas, the beau­ti­ful Grand Canyon real­ly needs no intro­duc­tion. Based in north­ern Ari­zona, it’s an all-year round attrac­tion for tourists because of its out­stand­ing nat­ur­al beau­ty. There are numer­ous ways that you can vis­it the canyon. One option is to enjoy the scenery by foot – sim­ply park at the South Rim Vis­i­tor Cen­ter Plaza, then hop on a shut­tle bus to take you to start of some the stun­ning hik­ing routes. Or if you’re feel­ing real­ly adven­tur­ous and want to make the most of it, why not book a pri­vate heli­copter tour from Las Vegas?! Choose this option, and you’ll be able to land inside the canyon, fly over the Hoover Dam and get incred­i­ble views of the Neva­da desert, giv­ing you an all-round unfor­get­table experience!

The Grand Canyon

Wash­ing­ton DC

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The Capi­tol Building

Washington DC

A vis­it to the cap­i­tal city of the Unit­ed States is a must. Known for world-famous land­marks such as The White House, Capi­tol Build­ing and the Lin­coln Memo­r­i­al, we sug­gest tak­ing a hop-on hop-off trol­ley to see all the sites that the city has to offer. If you’re a food­ie, check out Ade­quate Travel’s list of the top twen­ty foods to try in Wash­ing­ton DC. If you haven’t got time to work your way through this impres­sive list, then treat your­self to a fine din­ing expe­ri­ence at the Cap­i­tal Grille, which is sure to be a great end­ing to a day of sight­see­ing! If you’re look­ing for an amaz­ing home swap in Wash­ing­ton DC, try this love­ly and sur­pris­ing­ly spa­cious apart­ment which is locat­ed in the heart of Capi­tol Hill. Ele­gant­ly fur­nished, it’s child-friend­ly too, which makes it the per­fect loca­tion for young travellers! 


Yellowstone National Park

Yel­low­stone Nation­al Park was the first of the US’s famous parks to be named as a nation­al park in order to pro­tect the gey­sers and hot springs, as well as the vast array of wildlife. Locat­ed in the north-west­ern peak of Wyoming state (though it also strad­dles neigh­bour­ing Mon­tana and Ida­ho), the park is eas­i­ly acces­si­ble by numer­ous hik­ing trails – just keep an eye out for bears, wolves, bison and elk! Check out this handy list of the best hikes in Yel­low­stone for inspi­ra­tion! After all the exer­cise that inevitably comes with a trip to the park, you’ll need some­where to stay. This love­ly moun­tain retreat is only a nine­ty-minute dri­ve from Yel­low­stone and offers a fab­u­lous retreat from the hus­tle and bus­tle. In fact, the own­ers call it a a per­fect place to expe­ri­ence a true win­ter won­der­land’! And who can pos­si­bly argue with such a description?! 

The Seattle skyline

The Seat­tle skyline


Seat­tle is one of the must-see loca­tions in the USA, and is def­i­nite­ly one of the best places to go on hol­i­day at any time of the year. Renowned for The Space Nee­dle (which makes Seattle’s sky­line so icon­ic) along with the famous Pio­neer Square and oth­er fan­tas­tic tourist sights, the city should be on every trav­el buck­et list. If you’re look­ing for some quirky adven­tures, have a read of Trips to Discover’s list of the most fun and unusu­al things to do in Seat­tle. Their sug­ges­tion of pos­ing for a self­ie with the Fre­mont Troll is sure to add a lit­tle fun into your day! The city is also known for its bustling music scene, so if you fan­cy an evening filled with live music, check out the famous Neu­mos which fre­quent­ly hosts Seat­tle’s finest artists. If swap­ping to Seat­tle is on your list, check out this water­front home which offers panoram­ic views of Elliott Bay. With three bed­rooms, stun­ning inte­ri­ors and a cen­tral loca­tion, it’s the per­fect base from which to explore the city.

New York City

If you fan­cy a trip to the big apple, New York City is the ide­al spot for a city escape! With stun­ning mod­ern archi­tec­ture and a pletho­ra of activ­i­ties to do, New York is a great choice for the­atre, restau­rants, shop­ping and so much more (par­tic­u­lar­ly if you’ve booked an ultra-com­fort­able home swap to retreat back to at the end of the day!) While you’re in the city, there are some obvi­ous famous attrac­tions to check out like The Stat­ue of Lib­er­ty on Ellis Island, Top of the Rock and the Empire State Build­ing (for equal­ly fab­u­lous views). And, of course, the 911 Memo­r­i­al should be on your itin­er­ary too. To save mon­ey on all of these attrac­tions, we sug­gest buy­ing the New York City Pass.

For some well-loved local attrac­tions, check out the Cher­ry Trail where you can walk or cycle along the famous Hud­son Riv­er. If you fan­cy a bite to eat, stop at some of our mem­bers’ favourites such as Big Daddy’s Din­er and Red Roost­er. Anoth­er great spot is Ellen’s Star­dust Din­er where the wait­ing staff per­form songs from dif­fer­ent musi­cals off Broad­way – it’s a real experience! 

You can also vis­it The Adiron­dacks from the city, which are a stun­ning, yet often over-looked attrac­tion for those vis­it­ing New York state. These are a scenic range of for­est-cov­ered moun­tains in the north of the state, with numer­ous lakes and hik­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for our nature-lov­ing members.

New York City Skyline

New York City Skyline

Niagara Falls

Nia­gara Falls

Niagara Falls

Nia­gara Falls should be next on your jour­ney plan­ner. Locat­ed on the bor­der between Cana­da and the USA, the Amer­i­can side of the famous Falls can be vis­it­ed by car, train or even plane from New York City. If you’ve got a car, then the scenic dri­ve will take you around eight-hours, or take the long but excit­ing 12-hour jour­ney on the Maple Leaf Train.


As the largest city on the east coast of the USA, we strong­ly rec­om­mend a vis­it to the his­tor­i­cal city of Boston, Mass­a­chu­setts. The city is love­ly all year round, but autumn and spring are par­tic­u­lar­ly spe­cial, as the city comes to life with beau­ti­ful foliage and flow­er­ing trees, pro­vid­ing an extra dose of charm. There are a wealth of attrac­tions to be explored, but as Boston is steeped in his­to­ry (being the set­ting for most of the events lead­ing up to the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion), you should make the famous Free­dom Trail your first stop. 

Fenway Park, baseball ground, Boston

Fen­way Park, base­ball ground, Boston

This is a great chance to walk the jour­ney of the rev­o­lu­tion through Boston’s most his­toric neigh­bour­hoods, where you’ll get to expe­ri­ence the city through the eyes of a local. Fan­cy some more local expe­ri­ences? Then catch a base­ball game at Fen­way Park, take a pic­nic to Boston Pub­lic Gar­den, grab a bite to eat from Boston Pub­lic Mar­ket and round off the day by going to one of the many brew­eries. For loads more inspi­ra­tion on the best things to do and see in Boston, check out this list — and don’t for­get to arrange a home swap, like this charm­ing brown­stone apart­ment which is locat­ed in the cen­tre of the city!

Chicago city centre



A USA trav­el guide wouldn’t be com­plete with a men­tion of the windy city of Chica­go. Famous for its deep-dish piz­zas and stun­ning Lake Michi­gan, there’s plen­ty for you to see and do in Chica­go as the city is steeped in great muse­ums, food and art! First up, make your­self com­fort­able at a fan­tas­tic home swap (like this spa­cious fam­i­ly home), then take a trip to Mil­le­ni­um Park to get a pho­to with The Bean’. Next, take a walk-through Grant Park and gaze upon the stun­ning Buck­ing­ham Foun­tain, which is one of the largest foun­tains in the world. Final­ly, famil­iarise your­self with what it’s like to live here, by tak­ing a look at Time Out’s list of the six­ty best things to do in Chica­go. Our favourite sug­ges­tion is that you should vis­it 360 Chica­go, which has a view­ing plat­form that tilts towards the ground — it’s not for the faint hearted!

Universal Orlando Resort


Orlan­do is the ide­al loca­tion for a fam­i­ly trip to Dis­ney­land and Uni­ver­sal Stu­dios. If your kids are big fans of Har­ry Pot­ter, then con­sid­er check­ing out one of the most pop­u­lar and impres­sive attrac­tions — The Wiz­ard­ing World of Har­ry Pot­ter. Down­town Orlan­do is well worth explor­ing, and Lake Eola boasts incred­i­ble views of the city, plus a love­ly 9‑mile side­walk that cir­cles the lake. 

And remem­ber that the ulti­mate road trip to Orlan­do wouldn’t be com­plete with­out a stun­ning home swap prop­er­ty! Our mem­bers have var­i­ous love­ly options, such as this stun­ning lake­side Orlan­do prop­er­ty with its own pool — per­fect for wind­ing down after a day at the theme parks! 

Universal Orlando Resort

Kennedy Space Cen­tre is under­stand­ably one of Florida’s most pop­u­lar tourist attrac­tions, being just an hour away from Orlan­do — mak­ing it the per­fect day trip option. The Behind the Gates Kennedy Space Cen­tre Bus Tour takes you to restrict­ed areas for a look at his­toric launch sites and oth­er facil­i­ties that have lim­it­ed access to the pub­lic. For lots more day trip ideas, check out these inter­est­ing sug­ges­tions from PlanetWare.

Art Deco District, Miami Beach

Art Deco Dis­trict, Mia­mi Beach


Mia­mi is famous for Mia­mi Beach, an island city which spans the Atlantic. One of the things that makes the beach so pop­u­lar is the Art Deco Dis­trict with stun­ning­ly colour­ful restored build­ings from the 1930’s and 1940’s. Along Ocean Dri­ve, the leg­endary ocean­front street which over­looks South Beach Mia­mi, you’ll find sev­er­al out­stand­ing Art Deco build­ings, includ­ing the Hotel Break­wa­ter South Beach, The Car­lyle, and the Park Cen­tral Hotel. For lots of ideas on the best bars to vis­it, icon­ic shop­ping expe­ri­ences and stun­ning beach­es, take a look at VIS­IT FLORIDA’s real­ly help­ful guide on 50 things to do in Mia­mi Beach’.

Austin, Texas

Austin is becom­ing more and more pop­u­lar with tourists due to its beau­ti­ful yet mod­ern city land­scape, excep­tion­al food, great music scene and jaw-drop­ping hik­ing trails! If you’re there for the lat­ter, then explore all the nat­ur­al beau­ty that the city has to offer by check­ing out Time Out’s roundup of the best hikes in Austin. All that exer­cise will work up an appetite, so make sure that you treat your­self to some brisket which is a south­ern del­i­ca­cy. Austin has some of the best brisket out there, which you will find at Franklin BBQ — try to book a table if you can, as it is extreme­ly pop­u­lar! And for those who have a sweet tooth – plus those who fan­cy doing some­thing a lit­tle more out of the ordi­nary – then check out the Ice Cream Muse­um (yep that’s right!) There are a few great home swaps to choose from on our site, like this absolute­ly stun­ning mod­ern apart­ment in down­town Austin. Based in a con­tem­po­rary build­ing, it even fea­tures its own rooftop pool!

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The Col­orado Riv­er, Austin

New Orleans

Regard­ed as being one of the most unique and spe­cial cities in Amer­i­ca, New Orleans is known around the world for its famous French Quar­ter and shut­tered hous­es, along with its excit­ing jazz scene — plus there’s a wealth of things to dis­cov­er. Explor­ing the stun­ning French Quar­ter is a must, as it’s sure to trans­port you into an archi­tec­tur­al world like you’ve nev­er seen before. Next, we rec­om­mend check­ing out the Gar­den Dis­trict to see the most stun­ning homes with rich his­to­ries, or you can delve into the south’s dark his­to­ry, by vis­it­ing the Ever­green Plan­ta­tion, which is the most intact plan­ta­tion in the south. For lots more ideas on muse­ums and attrac­tions that you shouldn’t miss, Trip Advi­sor do a great round up of the best things to do in New Orleans!

When it comes to evening time, this city real­ly comes alive. Make sure you vis­it one of the famous jazz bars like Fritzel’s Euro­pean Jazz Club, known as a mec­ca for jazz lovers in the city since 1969. For din­ner, you’ll undoubt­ed­ly be itch­ing to try gum­bo, a famous Louisiana dish which you will find at many places in the city — but for the absolute best gum­bo and fresh seafood, we rec­om­mend book­ing a table at The Munch Fac­to­ry! Final­ly, head home to this beau­ti­ful cen­tral­ly-locat­ed home. Pre­vi­ous home swap­pers have raved about this love­ly prop­er­ty, which is high praise indeed. 

The French Quarter, New Orleans

The French Quar­ter, New Orleans

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Savan­nah, Geor­gia city centre


Anoth­er great and slight­ly under­stat­ed spot in the south, is Savan­nah, Geor­gia. One of the best ways to get around the city and see all of it in style is on a hop-on-hop-off trol­ley tour. The tour cov­ers a whop­ping 100 points of inter­est, includ­ing many of the city’s most famous land­marks such as the Cathe­dral of St. John the Bap­tist and Forsyth Park. How­ev­er, there is more to explore from the water too, as you can take a cruise on a famous river­boat along the Savan­nah Riv­er, real­ly tak­ing you back in time. A busy day of sight­see­ing isn’t com­plete with­out a stop at the famous Leopold’s ice cream shop which has been open since 1919 — we rec­om­mend try­ing their sig­na­ture Tut­ti Frut­ti flavour! Not an ice cream fan? Then check out Vis­it Savannah’s huge list of the best eater­ies in town.


Against the back­drop of the unpar­al­leled beau­ty of the Rocky Moun­tains, Aspen is home to some of the world’s most impres­sive ski slopes — plus it’s a great loca­tion for those who pre­fer the apres ski side of a snowy hol­i­day! Top restau­rants in the vicin­i­ty include Mat­suhisa and Cache-Cache. On top of going ski­ing in Aspen, you can also dis­cov­er the local his­to­ry, as the Aspen His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety runs many exhibits through­out the city which tell sto­ries of Aspen’s min­ing past. You can also explore the Wheel­er Opera House, which is known as Aspen’s best land­mark. Do a lit­tle for­ward plan­ning, and book tick­ets to a show if you can!

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Aspen, Col­orado


Last but cer­tain­ly not least, Hawaii is a great option if you fan­cy some­thing a lit­tle more trop­i­cal! There are so many amaz­ing activ­i­ties to do depend­ing on which island you’re stay­ing on. If you’re think­ing of head­ing to the cap­i­tal city of Hon­olu­lu on the island of Oahu, you’ll find a wealth of stun­ning nature. We’d sug­gest tak­ing a vis­it to the Manoa Falls which has been fea­tured in movies such as Juras­sic Park and The Hunger Games. Fan­cy swim­ming with dol­phins? Then make your dreams come true at Dol­phin Quest Oahu, or take a hike to the sum­mit of Dia­mond Head, which is one of the most famous volcanoes. 

There are also many oth­er islands with­in Hawaii that are worth explor­ing, like Maui, so make you arrange the per­fect home swap, like this stun­ning four-bed­room home. Sit­u­at­ed in a pri­vate, gat­ed com­mu­ni­ty, this prop­er­ty offers amaz­ing ocean views that are enhanced by palm trees and gor­geous sun­sets. The inte­ri­or design of the home is a fusion of mod­ern Hawaii with enchant­i­ng Bali­nese fin­ish­es, includ­ing cus­tom-made, hand-carved fur­ni­ture and a sprawl­ing stair­case to real­ly make you feel like a king or queen! There’s also plen­ty of space to enter­tain your guests indoors or out­doors, while the mas­ter bed­room boasts an ensuite bath­room that’s fit­ted with a TV and hot tub. 

Molokini Crater, Maui

Moloki­ni Crater, Maui

There are plen­ty of great things to do and see in Maui, but first­ly let’s start with the key ingre­di­ent to a trip to Hawaii – attend­ing a luau! You can book seats in advance for Old Lahaina, which is one of the island’s most famous expe­ri­ences, and is a great evening activ­i­ty for the whole fam­i­ly. Dur­ing the day, make plans to go snor­kel­ing at Moloki­ni Crater, which is the remains of an erup­tion that hap­pened 200,000 years ago and is now an amaz­ing marine life hub! If you fan­cy more infor­ma­tion on the best things to do in Maui, check out this Maui buck­et list.

These sug­ges­tions are only a hand­ful of the great and amaz­ing expe­ri­ences you can have on a trip to the USA. If you’re still mak­ing your mind up on where you want to go, take a look at our blog for more trav­el inspi­ra­tion and guides. Already been to some of the places men­tioned (or are you a local?!) Then share your swap tips on our social media chan­nels using #welove­home­swap. And don’t for­get that our friend­ly Face­book groups are a great way to share trav­el rec­om­men­da­tions and meet like­mind­ed travel-lovers.