May Journeys: Best Places to Visit in the US in May 2024

March 19, 2024

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May is a great time to travel in America. The weather is warm but not too hot yet, and you can enjoy the beauty of nature with wildflowers in bloom and wildlife coming out to play. If you’re looking to explore the country, May is the perfect month to pack your bags and hit the road. Check out this list of the best places to visit in May in the USA waiting for you to discover.

1. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Best Places to Visit in May in the USA - Grand Canyon, Arizona

One of the best places to visit in the USA in May is the Grand Canyon, especially if you relish breathtaking panoramas and mild weather. The majestic trails and lookout points provide stunning canyon views. 


With lower tourist numbers compared to the peak summer season, you can leisurely admire the timeless vistas without feeling rushed or crowded. From iconic spots like Mather Point and Yavapai Point, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the vast canyon. Don’t miss the opportunity to hike along the Rim Trail, offering both easy strolls and challenging treks for all levels of adventurers.


For a deeper connection with the local culture, consider visiting the Grand Canyon Village, where historic buildings like the Hopi House showcase Native American artistry. The Desert View Watchtower is another must-see, providing a blend of cultural and architectural significance.

2. Yosemite National Park, California

Best Places to Visit in May in the USA - Yosemite, California

As May approaches, discover why Yosemite National Park stands among the best places to travel in May in the USA. The weather undergoes a delightful shift, bringing occasional spring showers that enhance the park’s allure. A breathtaking spectacle awaits as the cascading waterfalls reach their peak flow, surrounded by lush greenery. This creates a mesmerizing sight that leaves an indelible impression on every visitor.


Make the most of your Yosemite adventure by diving into the various landmarks and activities scattered throughout the park. Head over to the iconic Yosemite Valley, where giants like El Capitan and Half Dome reign supreme, shaping the landscape with their majestic presence.


To really connect with the local culture, check out the ranger-led programs that shed light on the park’s rich history and diverse ecosystems. Yosemite Village is a great spot to engage with Native American artisans and delve into their cultural heritage.

3. Charleston, South Carolina

Best Places to Visit in May in the USA - Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston stands out as one of the best places to visit in May in the USA, providing a captivating glimpse into the past. As the city bursts into bloom, you can stroll through the streets, awash with vibrant flowers, and soak up the southern charm that permeates every corner.


The Joe Riley Waterfront Park, another must-visit destination, provides breathtaking vistas of the harbor and the iconic Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. This is an ideal spot for leisurely walks or picnics, with the cool sea breeze providing a respite from the warm May sun. For history buffs, Fort Dorchester, with its centuries-old ruins and archaeological excavations, offers an intriguing insight into Charleston’s rich past.


May is also the final opportunity to experience the Spoleto Festival USA, a 17-day arts extravaganza featuring global opera, theater, dance, and music performances. This annual event is a unique chance to immerse yourself in Charleston’s rich history and vibrant culture.

4. Key West, Florida

Best Places to Visit in May in the USA - Key West, Florida

May marks the perfect time to explore Key West, one of the ideal places to visit in the USA in May, with pleasant temperatures and the hurricane season yet to peak.


Start your exploration at Mallory Square, the heart of Key West’s social scene. Known for its lively atmosphere, this bustling square hosts the Sunset Celebration every evening. Here, you can enjoy performances by artists, musicians, and jugglers as the sun sets over the Gulf of Mexico.


You can plan your trip during the Key West Songwriters Festival, which takes place during this month. This festival is celebrated enthusiastically and lets you enjoy fantastic music while feeling the sand between your toes.


No trip to Key West would be complete without visiting Duval Street. This iconic thoroughfare, known for its eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, and bars, is the perfect place to experience the local culture. Don’t miss the chance to try the city’s signature Key Lime Pie while you’re here.

5. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee/North Carolina

Best Places to Visit in May in the USA - Tennessee, North Carolina

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park in May offers a mesmerizing spectacle, making it one of the best places to travel in May in the USA. Upon entering, you’ll be greeted by an awe-inspiring display of colors and scents.


When May approaches, the park transforms into a vibrant canvas adorned with over 1,500 flowering plants in full bloom. The entire area is adorned with vibrant flora, from daffodils and tulips to irises and peonies, sure to captivate you.


One must-visit location is the Newfound Gap, a mountain pass that offers magnificent panoramic views of the park’s sprawling landscapes. Here, you can immerse yourself in the tranquil serenity of nature, rejuvenating your senses as you breathe in the crisp mountain air. During the sunset, synchronous fireflies light up the sky with an enchanting glow.

6. Napa Valley, California

Best Places to Visit in May in the USA - Napa Valley, California

Welcoming May in the Napa Valley brings the vineyards to life. This marksthe beginning of the highly anticipated wine-tasting season—a must-visit among places to visit in the USA in May. Revel in the rich flavors of the valley’s finest wines against the backdrop of vibrant, colorful vineyards.


Explore notable landmarks during this period, with a highlight being the Castello di Amorosa Winery—an architectural masterpiece modeled after 13th-century Tuscan castles. This winery not only offers a great wine-tasting experience but also provides an authentic insight into Italy’s winemaking history.


Don’t miss the historic Napa Valley Opera House, showcasing Victorian architecture and world-class performances that reflect the area’s rich culture.


Visiting during this time of the year also allows you to appreciate these landmarks without the high summer prices while still savoring the bold flavors of the early harvest.

7. Savannah, Georgia

Best Places to Visit in May in the USA - Savannah, Georgia

Savannah emerges as one of the best places to visit in the USA in May, offering a sensory feast with blooming azaleas, fragrant jasmine, and wisteria.


The Savannah Historic District is a popular attraction, where cobblestone streets are lined with picturesque antebellum houses. It’s home to Chippewa Square, famous for the “Forrest Gump” bench scene.


Forsyth Park, a 30-acre oasis for nature lovers, is a must-see. Admire its stunning fountain, walk along lush paths, and join locals in their daily activities. Also, don’t miss the Bonaventure Cemetery, a perfect picture of Southern Gothic architecture and design.


Beyond nature’s showcase, the month is brimming with exciting events like the Savannah Scottish Games, the playful Doggie Carnival in Forsyth Park, and the entertaining Savannah Comic Con.


Finally, round off your visit with a trip to the ‘Sistine of the South’, the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist, one of the most beautiful religious sites in the country.

8. New Orleans, Louisiana

Best Places to Visit in May in the USA - New Orleans

If you plan to visit New Orleans, look forward to exciting events and activities that will keep you entertained at one of the best places to visit in the USA in May. This time of year is particularly special, offering an array of exciting events and activities that promise an unforgettable experience.


Kick off your visit by immersing yourself in the world-renowned Jazz Fest. This festival showcases some of the best music acts from around the globe,  featuring a diverse range of music genres from around the world.


Next, delve into the city’s unique cultural blend at the Greek Fest. Here, you can sample authentic Mediterranean cuisine, enjoy traditional Greek music and dance, and even participate in a toga contest.


New Orleans also boasts an impressive collection of historic landmarks and attractions. Explore the iconic French Quarter, with its beautifully preserved Spanish Colonial and French Creole buildings. Don’t miss Jackson Square, a lively hub of artists, musicians, and street performers.

9. Moab, Utah

Best Places to Visit in May in the USA - Moab, Utah

The mild temperatures make Moab the best place to visit in May in the USA and venture out to the magnificent landscapes of Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.


Arches National Park, situated just north of Moab, is renowned for its impressive collection of over 2,000 natural stone arches. The park’s intricate network of trails caters to every fitness level, making it a hiker’s paradise.


Take the Delicate Arch trail, which is a moderate hiking path that will take you to the park’s most renowned arch. The arch is situated against the backdrop of the La Sal Mountains, presenting a magnificent view.


Just 30 minutes away, Canyonlands National Park offers an equally stunning landscape carved by the Colorado River. Its vast expanse is divided into four districts: Island in the Sky, Needles, Maze, and the Rivers themselves. Each area presents unique scenery and challenges.

10. Asheville, North Carolina

Best Places to Visit in May in the USA - Asheville, North Carolina

Another of the best places to visit in May in the USA is the Blue Ridge Parkway, where an exquisite display of natural beauty unfolds in Asheville, North Carolina. This 469-mile-long picturesque route is a jewel of the Southern Appalachians and offers an unmatched driving experience.


Marvel at the Biltmore Estate, one of the largest private homes in America. During May, the estate is in its most resplendent state, with blooming gardens teeming with lively foliage that paints a captivating picture of spring.


The surrounding landscape of Asheville transforms into a majestic sight. This season is the perfect time to embark on a leisurely drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway, where the grandeur of the Appalachian Mountains is the most stunning.


As you traverse the parkway, don’t miss the hiking trails that offer an intimate encounter with nature. Whether you choose a challenging trek or a gentle stroll, each trail unveils unique flora, fauna, and spectacular views.

11. Seattle, Washington

Best Places to Visit in May in the USA - Seattle, Washington

As the Cherry Blossom Festival draws close, Seattle, Washington, becomes even more charming. It’s one of the best places to visit in the USA in May to witness the cityscape burst into a riot of colors.


The iconic Space Needle is located in the lower Queen Anne neighborhood, an architectural marvel and the city’s most recognized landmark. Hop onto the elevator for a thrilling ride to the observation deck, offering panoramic views of the city, Puget Sound, Mount Rainier, and beyond.


Explore trendy cafes and vibrant nightlife in Capitol Hill or indulge in luxury shopping in Bellevue. Escape to Volunteer Park in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, which boasts serene landscapes, a conservatory, and the Seattle Asian Art Museum.


Catch a break at the Pike Place Market, offering fresh produce, seafood, artisanal goods, and the original Starbucks store.

12. Santa Fe, New Mexico

Best Places to Visit in May in the USA - Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe, New Mexico, is a fantastic destination for art enthusiasts and is widely considered one of the best places to travel in May in the USA. This picturesque city nestled in the Sangre de Cristo foothills is renowned for its Pueblo-style architecture and as a creative arts hub.


Visit the renowned Santa Fe Artists Market, where local artists display their talents every Saturday. It’s an ideal opportunity to meet artists, learn about their creative process, and even purchase one-of-a-kind pieces. 


The Museum of International Folk Art is another must-see, with its extensive collection of global folk art. For modern art lovers, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum is a must-visit, dedicated to the life and work of the famous American artist.


In addition to the thriving art scene, Santa Fe’s mild May weather is perfect for exploring the city’s rich culture and admiring the beautiful architecture like The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi and the Palace of the Governors.

14. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming/Montana/Idaho

Best Places to Visit in May in the USA - Yellowstone National Park

When it comes to the best places to travel in May in the USA, Yellowstone National Park stands out as a top-tier destination. This expansive park, straddling Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, is a testament to nature’s awe-inspiring power and beauty. You have a unique opportunity to fully engage in a flourishing ecosystem at the first national park in America.


As the winter season ends, the park becomes accessible and provides a chance to witness the captivating spectacle of nature in full bloom. It’s renowned for its geothermal features, including the world-famous Old Faithful geyser, which puts on a mesmerizing show as it erupts against clear spring skies. 


Wildlife enthusiasts are in for a treat, as Yellowstone is home to the largest concentration of mammals in the lower 48 states. Spring is the perfect time to observe the park’s diverse wildlife, including grizzly and black bears, herds of wild bison, packs of wolves, and majestic elk.

15. Mackinac Island, Michigan

Best Places to Visit in May in the USA - Mackinac Island, Michigan

Mackinac Island in Michigan is a great place to visit in the USA in May, where Victorian charm meets Great Lakes flora. This car-free island transports you back in time with horse-drawn carriages and a tranquil atmosphere.


In May, the island blossoms with vibrant lilacs, marking the beginning of the tourist season. You can revel in the scent of these flowers while exploring various attractions the island offers.


One of the most iconic landmarks on the island is the Grand Hotel. Known for its stunning views, luxurious accommodations, and world-class dining, it provides an exceptional customer experience.


Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to do on Mackinac Island. You can explore the island’s scenic trails on foot, bicycle, or horseback. The island’s diverse landscape, from rocky formations like Arch Rock to lush forests and serene beaches, offers breathtaking vistas at every turn.

16. San Diego, California

Best Places to Visit in May in the USA - San Diego, California

San Diego stands as one of the best places to visit in May in the USA, boasting Southern California’s most stunning beaches and a diverse range of attractions and experiences for all types of travelers.


The San Diego Zoo is a top city attraction home to over 3,500 animals from more than 650 species. Here, you can spend an entire day exploring the various exhibits, including the Elephant Odyssey, Monkey Trails, and Tiger River. The zoo also offers unique experiences like animal encounters, guided tours, and behind-the-scenes views, ensuring an exceptional customer experience.


Beach lovers can hit up La Jolla Cove and spend the day enjoying the sun, swimming, surfing, or admiring the stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. Besides these main attractions, you can stroll through the streets in the Gaslamp Quarter and appreciate the laid-back surfer atmosphere, with numerous street festivals and farmer’s markets throughout the city.

17. Portland, Oregon

Best Places to Visit in May in the USA - Portland, Oregon

Portland offers a vibrant and dynamic experience for those seeking a mix of urban exploration and outdoor adventures. It’s easily one of the best places to visit in May in the USA, renowned for its uniqueness and innovation.


One of Portland’s most notable landmarks is the Pittock Mansion. This historic house offers breathtaking views of the city and the Cascade Mountains. You can explore the mansion’s beautifully preserved interiors, learn about its history, and wander through its lush gardens.


The Pearl District, another must-see area, is known for its chic boutiques, art galleries, and trendy restaurants. It’s a hub of creativity that reflects Portland’s charm.


Oregon’s wine country, the Willamette Valley, provides a peaceful retreat for those who appreciate nature. Indulge in wine tasting and vineyard tours at more than 500 wineries and vineyards in the area. The St. Johns Bridge and Forest Park are ideal spots for outdoor enthusiasts, offering picturesque hiking trails and breathtaking views.

18. Outer Banks, North Carolina

Best Places to Visit in May in the USA - Outer Banks, North Carolina

If you’re looking for amazing places to visit in the USA in May, consider Outer Banks, North Carolina, for water activities and pleasant weather. Visit the northernmost point where the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay meet and engage in several activities, including fishing, kayaking, and paddleboarding, while taking in the stunning scenery.


For those seeking a unique and thrilling experience, you should head to the beaches of Corolla or Carova to see the wild stallions that roam free. These majestic creatures have roamed the islands for centuries and are a true sight to behold as they gallop along the shore and through the dunes. Take a guided tour to learn more about their history and habitat, or simply marvel at them from a distance as you stroll along the beach.


Before leaving, indulge in some of the region’s incredible seafood. From fresh-caught fish and succulent crab to plump, juicy shrimp, you’ll find an endless array of delicious options at the many local restaurants and seafood shacks scattered throughout the islands.

19. Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada

Best Places to Visit in May in the USA - Lake Tahoe, California

Lake Tahoe, straddling the border of California and Nevada, is a stunning alpine lake. It’s surrounded by majestic snow-covered peaks, presenting an idyllic atmosphere that’s hard to come by.


Emerald Bay State Park, one of Lake Tahoe’s most notable landmarks, offers breathtaking views of the lake and Fannette Island. It’s considered one of the best places to visit in May in the USA because it is the perfect spot for hiking, picnicking, or simply admiring the panoramic vistas. The historic Vikingsholm, located at the head of Emerald Bay, adds a touch of Nordic architecture to the landscape and is open for tours in the summer months.


The Tahoe Trout Farm and the South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena are other attractions that add to the region’s appeal, offering fun-filled activities for families and individuals alike. If you want to relax and soak up the serene atmosphere, consider a boat ride on the lake.

20. Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Best Places to Visit in May in the USA - Cape Cod

Lastly, include the charming New England coastline on your list of places to visit in the USA in May.  This month marks the season’s start, with Cape Cod’s numerous beaches opening. These sandy stretches invite you to enjoy sunbathing, swimming, and various water activities. 


Notable among these beaches is Mayflower Beach, known for its vast sandy area and shallow waters, making it ideal for families with young children. South Cape Beach is another gem that offers beautiful views of Martha’s Vineyard and is a great spot for bird-watching. Longnook Beach and Newcomb Hollow Beach are perfect for those seeking more secluded spots.


Beyond the beaches, Cape Cod offers unique maritime experiences. Commercial and charter fishing boats regularly sail from towns like Provincetown and Chatham, allowing you to witness the region’s thriving fishing industry first-hand. You can even join a fishing expedition and learn from experienced local fishermen.


May is a wonderful time to explore the USA and experience its unique culture, natural beauty, and way of life. This season offers a sense of renewal and wonder, waiting for you to seize these moments and make the most of your travel experiences. From hidden gems to popular destinations, there are plenty of places to discover before they become too crowded.


Let OneAir be your ultimate guide to uncover these extraordinary destinations as you plan your May adventure. With our AI-powered service, the world is just one click away.


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