Best time to visit the United States

From California to New York, the United States is vast... really, really vast. With mountains, deserts, beaches and forests that span multiple climate zones from sea to shining sea, each of the 50 states offers something unique throughout the year. The best time to visit the United States depends on which kind of activities your trip calls for, so we've broken it down by region to help make your decision a little less overwhelming.

When to visit

When to visit for summer vibes

June to August is considered the high season as schools let out for summer and families flock to popular holiday spots like national parks and beaches. Parts of California and the Southwest can get dangerously hot, so many choose to head north to enjoy parts of the country with a shorter summer window, like Washington, Montana or Maine.

When to visit for snowy weather

Dramatic winter weather between December and February will see some folks heading north to the mountains for skiing while others flee the cold and head south for sunny days and more comfortable temps. Due to snow and ice, many of the northern national parks will close to vehicle traffic in the winter, but national parks in the south are open year round.

When to visit for annual celebrations

Public holidays are popular times to travel within the US, so you might encounter larger crowds or higher prices if you travel during any of these periods:

- New Year's Day (Jan 1)

- Memorial Day (last Monday of May)

- Independence Day (July 4)

- Labor Day (first Monday of September)

- Thanksgiving Day (fourth Thursday in November)

- Christmas Day (Dec 25)

United States by month

Bear Lake at sunrise. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, United States

Best region to visit: Colorado and the Rocky Mountains

If your idea of the perfect winter's day involves skiing, snowshoeing, sledding (and maybe a hot chocolate or two), a trip to Colorado is just the ticket. Known locally as the "gateway to the Rockies", Colorado is home to Rocky Mountain National Park, where hardy hikers can strap on a pair of snowshoes and explore an unspoiled, frozen landscape. Colorado also has some of the country's most famous ski resorts, like Aspen, Breckenridge, Steamboat and Telluride, so if your vibe is a little less action sports and a little more drinks by the fire, you'll feel right at home in one of the resort lodges.

tram in New Orleans, USA

Best region to visit: the South

If cold winters just aren't your thing, channel your inner snowbird and head south for the winter. In contrast to the oppressively humid summers, winters in Southern US cities like New Orleans, Nashville and Miami are sunny but cool and relatively dry. By visiting in February, you'll also conveniently miss hurricane season, which descends on southern states from June to November and often significantly impacts coastal areas.

If you're looking to really see the soul of the South, plan your visit around New Orleans' carnival season, which kicks off in early January and concludes in mid-February with the most epic of festivals: Mardi Gras. There's nothing quite like celebrating Fat Tuesday in NOLA, so join the revelry and let the good times roll.

Woman overlooking the Grand Canyon Arizona, USA

Best region to visit: the Southwest

The Southwestern US is known for its otherworldly scenery, from magical crimson rocks and statuesque saguaro cacti in Arizona to towering sandstone spires and rose-coloured hoodoos in Utah. These popular desert landscapes can be absolutely scorching in the summer months, with intensely hot sun and temps surpassing 38°C, so a springtime trip is perfect for those who want to explore comfortably. Plus, the parks are usually much less crowded in the spring, which means fewer people to compete for the best photo ops with.

Utah and Arizona's proximity to one another makes Southwest road trips a breeze, and in under a week, you can be sliding through slot canyons in Zion National Park, conquering buttes in Sedona and catching spectacular sunsets in Arches National Park.

Group walking along the river in Brooklyn, New York, USA

Best region to visit: the East Coast

After a long, dark winter, the East Coast springs to life (pun intended) in April. April showers bring beautiful spring flowers, like Washington DC's iconic cherry blossoms, which have become somewhat of a national treasure. Mild temperatures are perfect for a stroll or bike ride around the Tidal Basin to watch the trees envelop the city in a cloud of pale pink petals. Further north, Boston's green spaces liven up in the springtime, and you'll be able to enjoy peaceful walks through Boston Common, along the Freedom Trail and into the North End before the summer crowds arrive.

If you're keen on enjoying America's pastime, head to the country's oldest Major League Baseball stadium, Fenway Park, to catch a Red Sox game. Opening Day usually occurs the first week of April.

Man posing fro camera after a hike in Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Best region to visit: SoCal and California's national parks

Spring is a great time to visit California's coast, cities and parks before crowds and temps peak in the high summer. Days will be sunny and warm but not stiflingly hot, ideal for driving up the iconic Pacific Coast Highway, celeb-spotting in Los Angeles, or chilling on the beach in Santa Monica.

In May, Yosemite National Park is a traveller's dream; peak runoff season is between April and May, so waterfalls are particularly showstopping this time of year. Flowers are blooming, wildlife is becoming more active and by late May, the picturesque road over Tioga Pass should be fully open for vehicles. The park sees most crowds between July and August, so you'll have a better chance of snagging accommodation by visiting earlier in the year.

Group posing for camera on a boar in Alaska, USA

Best region to visit: Alaska

Summertime is officially here, baby! June's summer solstice brings a whopping 18-20 hours of glorious sunlight per day in Alaska, so if you're itching for some outdoor adventures, now is your chance. With the dark, freezing winter days in the rearview, roads into Denali National Park and Kenai Fjords National Park will be melted and accessible, and wildlife will be active. Get ready to spot bears congregating near salmon-stuffed streams, pods of migrating grey whales, as well as caribou, moose and Dall sheep.

Daytime temperatures are cool but comfortable, ideal for hiking, kayaking, glacier walking, or just wandering around Anchorage for some brewery and museum-hopping.

A young woman kayaking on a picturesque lake in Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Best region to visit: Montana & Wyoming's National Parks

In the high summer months, parts of the country can get uncomfortably or even dangerously hot (we're looking at you, Death Valley), which makes July a perfect time to head to the northern states. Although Montana and Wyoming do have a handful of pretty hot days, temperatures drop significantly with elevation, so you'll be able to hike, swim and explore comfortably inside the national parks.

By late June/early July, roads will be free of snow and accessible to vehicles, so you can travel the length of Glacier National Park's Going-to-the-Sun Road and the Grand Loop in Yellowstone, keeping your eyes peeled for wildlife. Since certain roads in the parks are only fully open for a short window, be prepared for a surge in visitors at this time. Arriving at the parks on the early side and booking accommodation well in advance is always a good idea.

Sea stack on the coast of Olympic National Park, Washington, USA

Best region to visit: the Pacific Northwest

Although the Pacific Northwest is known for being relatively rainy and gloomy for most of the year, its summers truly shine. August is the warmest and driest month in this region, with long sunny days perfect for exploring some of the most wild, rugged landscapes in the US. This month, you'll be able to spot glaciers from wildflower-laden hiking trails in Mount Rainier National Park, camp along the sea-stack-dotted coastline in Olympic National Park, or simply enjoy wandering the quirky neighbourhoods of Seattle and Portland... no umbrella needed.

Group losing for camera in front of the Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA

Best region to visit: The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is a true bucket list destination, and September is the best month to visit to have pleasant weather and fewer crowds. Temperatures in the summer can be intensely high (often soaring past 38°C+), and the elevation can make the air feel hotter than it is. Whether you want to take in the views at the South Rim, walk the Bright Angel trail, or zigzag down to the canyon base, planning a trip in the autumn will make for a much more comfortable experience. September is also an excellent time for rafting and backpacking, and while the days will still be pretty hot, nights begin to get cooler, and the Colorado River will be a refreshing reprise.

Beautiful fall landscape with  lake and mountains, Vermont, USA

Best region to visit: the Northeast

Foliage enthusiasts get in formation! By October, the deciduous forests of the Northeast have turned, and autumn colours are in full swing. It's a magical time to be in Vermont, where the maple trees in the Green Mountains are ablaze with dazzling reds and oranges, and the villages are full of locals and visitors enjoying autumn activities. So grab your camera, a flannel and a cold pumpkin beer, and enjoy the show.

Man on a hiking the Appalachian Trial, USA

Best region to visit: Appalachia and the Great Smoky Mountains

Hiking North Carolina's Great Smoky Mountains is spectacular all year round, but in November, the fiery foliage in the Smokies rivals that of New England. Crisp autumn mornings and chilly evenings make for ideal outdoor adventuring conditions. However, if you're not into hiking or backpacking, consider cruising down the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of America's most popular scenic drives. Kick back around a firepit at one of Asheville's popular breweries, and you'll have had yourself a perfect autumn day.

Woman walking through Joshua Tree National Park, USA

Best region to visit: the California desert, Joshua Tree and Death Valley

Winter in parts of the US can start to see freezing temps and snowfall, but California's surreal and dramatic desert landscapes are finally cooling down to palatable levels. So, if you're up for trading your winter wonderland for a desert one, Joshua Tree National Park and Death Valley are both gorgeous in December. Although the nights can get chilly, the days are mild, and you can hike Ryan Mountain or Badwater Basin without the threat of melting. Plus, Joshua Tree is a designated International Dark Sky Park, and its incredible stargazing opportunities might just rival twinkling Christmas lights.

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