How Many Days Is Enough To Visit The US?

The United States of America is a very large country. Whether you are staying for one day or six months, here are the best ways to plan your trip based on the time you have available to travel.
Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. Photo: Jéan Béller | Unsplash

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Did you know that the United States is the fourth largest country in the world? The great thing about the size of the US is the sheer number of possibilities for attractions for visiting tourists, however, it makes it difficult for planning. Being that the country is so large, traveling from end to end is far more challenging than in Europe or other smaller countries. Based on the amount of time you have for traveling, here are some suggestions for places to visit and things to do.

When is the best time to visit the US?

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransisco, California. Photo: Maarten van den Huevel | Unsplash

Before planning where you are going to the US, it is important to do some research on the weather conditions of the area based on the time of the year you visit. Over half of the US experiences all four seasons of the year (summer, fall, winter, and spring). This means that your experience will be drastically different depending on the time of the year you visit.

Generally, if you visit the northern half of the US between the months of October and February, you will be experiencing the region’s winter. This entails temperatures that frequently dip below freezing, and in the northernmost states, snowfall.

Summer in the US is between June and August. During this time, you will experience pleasantly hot weather for the northern half of the country, with temperatures between 75-90°F (24-32°C). If you plan to travel to the southern US during the summer, such as Texas, southern California, Florida, or Georgia, be aware that the temperatures get extremely hot, and it is not uncommon for temperatures to spike over 100°F (38°C) in some areas.

When you have less than a week

Magic Kingdom Park in Disney World – Orlando, Florida. Photo: Younhoo Choo | Unsplash

If you only have a few days in the US, it is best that you pick one city or area and spend your entire trip there. You may be able to make a day trip within a 1-3 hour radius of the city you are in, but it wouldn’t be efficient to travel more than that, being that transportation will eat up a lot of your time.

Not to worry, however, as the US has countless magical cities for short stays. You can fit in a lot of activities for a stay of less than a week in all the major cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.

One of the US’s most popular attractions which is the perfect destination for a few days is Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. Recognized internationally, it is an entertainment resort commemorating the animated films of Disney. Tickets start at around $130 a day, but it is a once-in-a-lifetime destination that you cannot miss. Disney World is great for all ages, but especially a great site for families and young children.

When you have one week

The Statue of Liberty in New York City. Photo: Avi Werde | Unsplash

Visiting for one week in the US gives you a little more flexibility. You can choose to stay in one city and have a deep and immersive experience and learn all the local spots, or travel between multiple places. One week is still not enough to see both coasts of the US (known as the “West Coast” and the “East Coast”), since getting to either side requires a 6+ hour flight. Instead, it is best to explore just one part of the US. If you are interested in seeing some of the major cities, start your trip in New York City, also known as “The Big Apple.” You can easily spend an entire week in NYC since it is such a vibrant and bustling city. If you want to explore more, there are a plethora of buses and trains which depart from the city to other major cities on the east coast like Washington D.C., Boston, and Philadelphia.

When you have one month to six months

The Grand Canyon in Arizona. Photo: Tim Hart | Unsplash

If you plan to stay in the US for over a month, this is when you can have more freedom in the number of destinations you can visit. With more time in the country, you can spend more time traveling between cities and exploring. Take advantage of exploring both coasts of the United States, since they look quite different and have different cultures.

If you are the outdoorsy type, a month or more stay can allow you to explore some of the amazing national parks that the US has to offer. If you plan on visiting multiple during your stay, consider buying a national parks pass, which grants you unlimited access to all national parks in the US for free. The pass costs $80. Being that most parks charge $20-35 for entrance, this pass can pay itself off if you plan on vising multiple national parks.

Plan on taking a road trip? A month or more is the perfect time frame to explore the United States as you drive from coast to coast and gives you enough time to rest and spend time at each stop. Do some research on US road trip routes based on your interests to determine which states you want to stop in (do you want to see all the major cities? Best national parks? Best food?). According to this article, you can design a road trip that goes through all 48 states of the continental US.

Final thoughts

The Cloud Gate, also known as “The Bean” in Chicago, Illinois. Photo: Sawyer Bengston | Unsplash

The United States is a destination that should be on every traveler’s bucket list. Not only is the country home to some of the most unique cities and cultures in the world, but it is also the site of countless incredible national parks. Based on your travel plans, it is important to plan accordingly based on the amount of time you have allotted for visiting. Since the US is such a large country, it is, unfortunately, impossible to see all of it in a short period of time. But, even a trip of a few days can be worthwhile, since the US has so many diverse cities and towns to explore.


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