Summer vacation doesn’t get any grander than this.
At least according to U.S. News list of the best affordable vacation spots in the country, which ranked the Grand Canyon in northern Arizona at No. 1 on a list of 17 destinations.
Sure, it’ll be hot for the next couple months, when many Americans take vacation, but the canyon offers plenty of activities to make it a most memorable trip – from Grand Canyon Village to the skywalk, Bright Angel Trail, Havasu Falls, Colorado River rafting and the less crowded North Rim.
“ ‘Grand’ doesn’t begin to do this canyon justice,” says U.S. News in its report. “This massive chasm in northern Arizona is truly a natural wonder,” leaving 4.5 million visitors a year “awestruck.”
But it’s just one place to consider if you’re still planning vacation or are open to a last-minute change.
The top 10 on the U.S. News list, along with some top attractions, are:
- The Grand Canyon, AZ – See above.
- San Antonio, TX – The Alamo, River Walk and SeaWorld.
- Las Vegas, NV – The Strip, spectacular casino resorts (The Venetian, Bellagio, Mirage, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, New York-New York, etc.) and nearby Hoover Dam.
- Tucson, AZ – Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway, Saguaro National Park and Sabino Canyon Recreation Area.
- Albuquerque, NM – Old Town, Sandia Peak Tramway and Petroglyph National Monument.
- Memphis, TN – Graceland, Beale Street and National Civil Rights Museum – Lorraine Motel.
- Williamsburg, VA – Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown Battlefield and Busch Gardens.
- Salt Lake City, UT – Temple Square, Great Salt Lake, Family History Library and nearby Park City.
- Phoenix, AZ – Camelback Mountain, Phoenix Zoo and a multitude of golf courses.
- Gatlinburg, TN – Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tram, Gatlinburg Space Needle and Great Smoky Mountains Arts & Crafts Loop.
The top 10 are followed in order by Jacksonville, FL; Dallas-Fort Worth, TX; Raleigh, NC; Daytona, FL; Branson, MO; Oklahoma City, OK, and Biloxi, MS.
The reasons for some of the destinations making the list are more obvious than others – Las Vegas and Williamsburg versus, say, Oklahoma City and Biloxi – but all have something to recommend them.
Take Biloxi, No. 17 on the list, for example:
“Perfectly placed to catch a cool breeze from the Gulf Coast, Biloxi, Mississippi, is the playground of the South,” says U.S. News. “Glittering casinos line Beach Boulevard, calling out to your inner gambler; the sugar white sands of Ship Island beckon to families; and hidden gems like the historic Beauvoir grounds pique the interests of even the most casual Civil War enthusiasts.”
And if you haven’t seen enough, read more about these best affordable vacation spots and activities.
Then pack up for your own grand – and affordable – vacation.