Are you dreaming of clear blue skies, white sand beaches, and cocktails by the pool? Here are the most tropical places in the USA to vacation, from the sunny shores of Florida to the coastal towns of California, and everything in between. This guide of the best tropical locations in the US contains lots of fun tips and recommended activities for each destination.
In this guide, you’ll also discover tons of exotic islands near USA as well as beautiful tropical places to visit without passport. Swim with dolphins, catch the waves, and explore island life in the following best tropical destinations in the US.
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🥥 Tropical Vacations in the USA: An Overview
Most of the tropical places in USA are situated in Florida, California, and Texas. With that said, there are also plenty of exotic places in the South, such as South Carolina, Georgia, and Arizona. This guide explores many destinations within these states, as well as a few other exciting ones.
Of course, arguably the most tropical place in the US is the Aloha State of Hawaii, which has six incredible islands packed with fun activities for sunseekers. In this guide, you’ll not only learn about all the best things to do in Hawaii but also about other tropical islands that are easy for US travelers to get to.
🌴 51 Most Tropical Places in the USA in 2021
🏖 The Most Tropical Places in Florida
It’s without a doubt that Florida is one of the best hot vacation spots in USA. From intimate barrier islands to bustling cosmopolitan towns, the Sunshine State offers no shortage of tropical destinations for beach fun, fresh seafood, and entertainment.
51. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
🏝 Why you should visit: Perched on Florida’s southeastern coast, Fort Lauderdale is a perfect tropical escape. Complete with a 23-mile span of golden beaches, lush botanical gardens, and plenty of entertainment, this city is a hub for water activities, shopping, art, and culture.
🌊 Enjoy beach fun: This city’s sun-kissed beaches have something to offer everyone. You can surf, waterski, snorkel, and even dive on a living coral reef straight off the beach. Don’t miss Fort Lauderdale Beach for the cleanest, whitest sand, or Dania Beach for a quiet escape.
🌺 Explore tropical gardens: Wander the diverse landscapes of Bonnet House, a historic estate home to several lush gardens, tropical plants, and blossoms. To spot wildlife, head to Flamingo Gardens, where you can see otters, panthers, parrots, and of course, flamingos.
50. Orlando, Florida
🏝 Why you should visit: Orlando is one of the best tropical vacation spots in the US for groups of friends or families. The subtropical climate there is perfect for enjoying fun water activities, lush green parks, tropical wildlife, and of course, the many world-class theme parks in town.
🐧 Meet cute animals: Head to Discovery Cove to swim with dolphins and snorkel with thousands of tropical fish. For even more thrilling adventures, head to SeaWorld for the flying rollercoasters. There, you can also dine with orcas and hang out with penguins!
🐠 Relax outdoors: Spend a day paddling and snorkeling in the crystal clear waters of Wekiwa Springs State Park just minutes from downtown Orlando. For something even more relaxing, take a stroll through the palm trees in Lake Eola Park and keep an eye out for beautiful swans.
49. Miami, Florida — One of the Best Tropical Places to Live in the US 🏡
🏝 Why you should visit: Found on Florida’s coastal Biscayne Bay, Miami is a tropical paradise with 20 miles of sandy beaches and turquoise waters. Luxurious shopping, upbeat nightlife, and international cuisine make Miami one of the best tropical places to visit in Florida.
☀️ Soak up the sun: Miami’s soft sandy beaches can satisfy anyone. South Beach, the city’s world-famous seaside hangout, is an energetic, people-watching hub. Families looking for quieter corners to relax in will also love North Beach Oceanside Park and Crandon Park Beach. Snorkel, jetski, or surf – the sky’s the limit!
🔮 Dance the night away: There’s nothing quite like Miami’s melting-pot culture and nightlife. The Little Havana neighborhood serves up a taste of Cuba, while upscale nightclubs like LIV and rooftop restaurants like Mila will keep you dancing all night. There is no shortage of unique cuisines and nightly entertainment here.
48. Boca Raton, Florida
🏝 Why you should visit: Situated in southeastern Florida, Boca Raton is at the heart of the Atlantic Coast and an unforgettable tropical destination. With 5 miles of pristine coastline, mansions, and five-star shopping, this affluent resort town is like Miami without the crowds.
🛍️ Shop in style: Spend a day shopping at the upscale Town Center, which has everything from Gucci and Louis Vuitton to Tiffany & Co and more. With multiple restaurants and two flights of browsing opportunities, shopping is like an Olympic sport in Boca Raton.
🦋 Commune with nature: Boca Raton has many enchanting nature preserves and takes good care of its natural gems. Stroll the stunning butterfly garden at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, snorkel in the crystal waters of Red Reef Park, or spot unique sea life at South Inlet Park.
47. Key West, Florida
🏝 Why you should visit: With a free-spirited Caribbean culture and an incredible barrier reef along its small island, Key West is one of the best tropical places in Florida. This southernmost point in the US runs on island time, so prepare to kick back by the ocean and forget your worries.
🌅 Savor island living: The unique Caribbean culture at Key West gives it a special tropical energy. Cuban pastel architecture, all-night dancing, and fresh seafood will make you fall for island living. Join the crowd that gathers nightly in Mallory Square to watch those famous Key West sunsets.
🐢 Explore coral reefs: Key West is home to the only barrier reef in the continental US, making for some unforgettable water activities. Snorkel beside colorful tropical fish, spot majestic sea turtles, and witness 5,000-year-old coral reefs. The Key West coast is filled with rare wonders.
46. Tampa, Florida
🏝 Why you should visit: Tampa is perfectly situated on Tampa Bay along the Gulf Coast. This urban tropical destination is a lively hub of blended cultures, family-friendly parks, and Latin neighborhoods that keep the energy going all night long.
💃🏻 Get a taste of Cuba: Tampa’s Ybor City, aka “Cigar City”, is the city’s most entertaining neighborhood. During the day, this historic Latin quarter is primed for smoking cigars, sipping espresso, and antique shopping, while at night it transforms into a wild Cuban fiesta. Bring your dancing shoes!
🐆 Take a safari: Busch Gardens, an African-themed animal amusement park, is found right in Tampa. Take a thrill-seeking roller coaster ride, come face to face with cheetahs, or embark on a safari ride across the open plains of the park.
45. St. Augustine, Florida
🏝 Why you should visit: Situated on Florida’s Atlantic Coast, St. Augustine is the oldest city in the US. This town has a remarkable blend of tropical leisure and fascinating Spanish history. Wander through centuries-old buildings and lounge on white sandy beaches for a slow-paced vacation.
🗿 Travel back in time: Founded in 1565 by Spanish colonizers, St. Augustine is a historical sightseer’s dream. Trace the 400-year-old walls of the Castillo De San Marcos stronghold, stroll through the cobblestoned streets of Old City, or appreciate the natural landscape surrounding Fort Matanzas Monument.
🏌🏻♀️ Golf by the beach: Did you know St. Augustine is a major golfing destination? Home to the World Golf Village resort and Hall of Fame, this beachside town loves the slow-paced sport. Get a hole in one, then pop over to St. Augustine Beach for some sand volleyball.
44. Key Biscayne, Florida
🏝 Why you should visit: Just across the Rickenbacker Causeway from Miami sits Key Biscayne, an intimate island getaway. Vacationing on this small barrier island offers a real slice of paradise amongst the tropical forests, mangroves, and cozy beaches.
🌊 Climb a lighthouse: Key Biscayne is sandwiched between two stunning state parks. Take in jaw-dropping views of the Atlantic from atop the lighthouse at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, or lounge by coconut trees along the beach at Crandon Park.
🦜 Explore tropical forests: A hike through the Bear Cut Preserve is complete with a magical path through tropical trees and mangroves. Capture unique birdlife, observe the variety of butterflies, and spot a turtle or two. Key Biscayne has unforgettable tropical nature!
43. Dry Tortugas, Florida
🏝 Why you should visit: Dry Tortugas is a remote collection of islands west of Key West. The seven small islands surrounded by crystal blue ocean make up a tropical national park only accessible by boat or seaplane. Dive to coral reefs, bird watch, and explore historical sites.
🐳 Explore marine life: Dry Tortugas is 99% water, so it’s a prime spot for swimming. Beginners will enjoy the sloping beaches on Garden Key. There’s a rare variety of marine species in the waters of Dry Tortugas, so get ready for some awesome sightings as you snorkel.
🏰 Visit a historical fort: The massive Fort Jefferson dominates Garden Key, Dry Tortugas’ second largest island. Inside this hexagonal fort, you can learn about the history of soldier occupation in Dry Tortugas and what life might have been like on this tiny remote island.
🌅 The Most Tropical Places in California
The beachy towns and lush forests of California are definitely some of the most tropical places to travel in the US. From magical coastal views to endless city entertainment, there is no shortage of attractions in the Golden State for an exotic getaway.
42. Santa Catalina Island, California
🏝 Why you should visit: Sitting 22 miles off the Southern California coast is Santa Catalina Island, a white sand beach oasis. This intimate island with only two towns is a pedestrian paradise. The water is perfect for scuba diving, and there are outdoor adventures of all kinds.
🌊 Dive into the Pacific: With 54 miles of coastline, scuba diving and snorkeling are favorites on the island. Clear blue waters will reveal colorful tropical fish, reefs, and other marine wonders. Take a submarine tour of the ocean depths for a new perspective on the Pacific.
🚴🏽♀️ Adventure on land: The settlements of Avalon and Two Towers are hubs of island adventure. Zipline through a canyon, rent a bike to explore pedestrian-friendly Avalon, or rumble through the wilderness on a Jeep eco-tour. Local shops, eateries, and venues also line the streets of Avalon.
41. Big Sur, California
🏝 Why you should visit: Big Sur, a coastal area on the west coast of Central California, is a picture-perfect tropical destination. This remote landscape stretches for 90 miles along the magical Highway 1. A paradise for nature lovers, Big Sur features a craggy coastline, redwood forests, and sweeping Pacific Ocean views.
🚗 Drive over an epic bridge: The Bixby Bridge on Highway 1 is one of the most iconic bridges in California. Its unique arched architecture is built into a steep vista overlooking the ocean. Take a drive across it then pull off at various overlooks for the best views of your life.
🌊 Experience coastal magic: From the jaw-dropping Keyhole Rock formation at Pfeiffer Beach to the Big Sur River trails in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Big Sur’s nature is magical. For the best redwood forests, head to Limekiln State Park. For natural beaches, explore Andrew Molera State Park.
40. Joshua Tree National Park, California
🏝 Why you should visit: This expansive national park in Southern California is a unique clashing of the Mojave and Colorado ecosystems. With wide-open skies for epic camping, the best rocky desert hikes, and over 100 miles of canyons with rare wildlife, Joshua Tree is an unforgettable destination for adventure.
🌿 Hike through the canyons: The Indian Canyons within the park span over 100 miles of wilderness. Incredible hikes lead to panoramic vistas through ancient palm groves, and past various bird and reptile species. Try the Hidden Valley Trail, the more challenging Ryan Mountain Trail, or Warren Peak Trail.
🌌 Camp under the stars: Camping at night in Joshua Tree is an unforgettable experience. The night skies are very dark since the park is located away from major cities in the High Desert. For the best stargazing experience, stick to the eastern side when the moon is least bright.
39. San Diego, California
🏝 Why you should visit: Right at the southern tip of California is San Diego, a dynamic hub of culture and perfect Mediterranean weather. With a Mexican flare, lively entertainment, and a whole 70 miles of coastline, San Diego is easily one of the best tropical places to visit in California.
🌮 Eat all the tacos: The city is a mere 17-mile drive from the Mexican border. This cultural meshing is palpable in its streets, clubs, and restaurants. You’ll find a delicious array of Mexican food around every corner. Sample tacos from food trucks or restaurants like Tacos El Gordo or City Tacos.
👙 Wander the many beaches: San Diego is blessed with 70 miles of Pacific Ocean coastline and 31 beaches to explore. The weather averages 70 degrees and is sunny year-round. This combo makes for a great tropical getaway. For prime people-watching, La Jolla and Pacific Beach have an interesting variety of beachgoers.
38. Laguna Beach, California
🏝 Why you should visit: Sandwiched between San Diego and LA, Laguna Beach is an artist colony and an explorer’s haven. This Orange County town is situated among fascinating coves and seaside cliffs. It offers hiking and biking trails with gorgeous vistas and a rich artistic legacy still thriving today.
🎨 Witness art in different forms: Laguna was founded as an artist colony in the 1800s and still maintains an impressive arts culture. There are over 100 art galleries around town, public art installations, and the Laguna Art Museum featuring California artists. The art festivals in the summertime are also not to be missed.
🌊 Climb inside a sea cave: The unique coastal landscape of Laguna Beach features 7 miles of coves and beaches. Spot different marine species in the many tide pools, hike up hilly cliffs for the sweeping vistas, or climb inside one of the numerous sea caves at low tide.
37. Los Angeles & Santa Monica, California
🏝 Why you should visit: The famous city of Los Angeles and neighboring Santa Monica are set on the coast of Southern California. The neighborhoods in this sprawling Hollywood mecca are as diverse as the cuisines, beaches, and people. No matter your interests, there is a slice of LA that will fit you.
😎 People-watch on the beach: There are celebrities abound in LA and Santa Monica. Hang around the beaches and you might catch a glimpse. But they’re not the only interesting people. Venice Beach and Santa Monica Pier are prime spots to see people of all kinds doing interesting (and crazy) things.
🛍️ Get a taste of Beverly Hills living: It’s not hard to observe the lavish LA lifestyle of the rich and famous. One tour of Beverly Hills will have you convinced of this star-studded city’s luxurious living. Stroll down Rodeo Drive for high-end shopping or diverge over to LA Fashion District for the latest trends.
36. Malibu, California
🏝 Why you should visit: Just west of Los Angeles is Malibu, a tropical oasis for adventurous travelers. The long stretches of beach offer the best surfing, and inland canyons make for stunning hikes. Malibu is also home to famous cliffside villas overlooking the Pacific.
🏄♀️ Ride the wave: Malibu is a surfing destination, and for good reason. With 27 miles of wide beachfront and prime tide conditions, surfers of all levels will feel at home. Visit the Surf Museum to learn about this sport’s history, then head for Surfrider Beach to ride some waves.
🏡 Spot cliffside mansions: Malibu is most known for the grand cliffside abodes of billionaires and celebrities. Built high up overlooking the ocean, these multi-million dollar villas are jaw-dropping. Head to Carbon Beach to spot many of these luxurious mansions.
35. Newport Beach, California
🏝 Why you should visit: Nestled in Southern California is Newport Beach, an intimate seaside town with a relaxed energy. This quiet beach getaway is an escape from the urban sprawl of Los Angeles. Discover upscale shopping, dining opportunities, and island adventures.
🛍 Explore a man-made Island: Across the bridge from Newport Beach is Balboa Island. This man-made wonder has a perimeter boardwalk and a main street with shops and eateries. Just like in Newport Beach, upscale shops will have you browsing specialty items for hours.
⛵️ Take a boat ride: The Duffy Boat was invented right here in Newport Beach. These original luxury electric boats were designed for slow cruising around the harbor with loved ones. Rent one for a picnic on the water, then stay out to watch the sun set behind the Pacific.
34. Santa Barbara, California
🏝 Why you should visit: Set on the Central California coast with the dramatic Ynez Mountains as the backdrop, Santa Barbara is an unforgettable tropical destination. The iconic Spanish colonial architecture will transport you to another time, and the classic palmed beaches make for sunny fun.
🇪🇸 See Spanish architecture: The city of Santa Barbara feels more like Madrid than the United States. Architectural influences from Spain are abundant around the city. Red tiled roofs and white stucco walls are featured in popular sites like the Santa Barbara County Courthouse and Old Mission Santa Barbara.
🐬 Count dolphins from the beach: Because the beaches are backed by the Channel Islands, 27 species of whales and dolphins frequent the Santa Barbara Channel. Find a spot at Stearns Wharf or West Beach and wait for humpback whales or dolphins to surface. Join a pickup volleyball game while you’re at it.
33. Coronado Island, California
🏝 Why you should visit: Coronado Island, just across the bay from San Diego, is a wonderful island destination. This peninsula has five white sand beaches to explore, views that showcase the incredible San Diego skyline, and a laid-back Mediterranean lifestyle with plenty of entertainment options.
🐚 Spend a day at the beach: It’s no exaggeration that Coronado Island has some of the best beaches in the US. The white sandy beaches on the island literally sparkle with mineral mica. Set up camp on Silver Strand State Beach or Coronado Beach and relax or play in the water.
🏙 Take a fun stroll: Stroll down Orange Avenue, the main entertainment strip on Coronado Island. Charming restaurants and shops line its sidewalks. Rent a beach cruiser and explore the 1-mile stretch in the sun. Dine at Il Fornaio or find your latest read at Bay Books.
🏜 The Most Tropical Places in Texas
The lush islands and stunning coastal towns of Texas are truly some of the most captivating tropical places in United States. From spotting unique wildlife to lounging in luxury tropical resorts, the Lone Star State has plenty of activities to offer sunseekers.
32. Castroville, Texas
🏝 Why you should visit: Known as the “France of Texas”, the historic city of Castroville is one of the best US tropical destinations for European vibes. Home to cute Alsatian architecture, delicious French cuisine, and scenic nature, Castroville’s unique charm is hard to ignore.
🏖 Relax poolside: The Hillside Boutique Hotel (⭐️ 8.8) is the main reason Castroville is considered a tropical escape. This resort’s palm trees and dreamy outdoor pool will make you feel as though you’re in the Caribbean. Their food and spa services are also incredible.
🇫🇷 Explore France in Texas: Castroville was founded by Alsatian immigrants, and a walk around town will take you through plenty of Alsatian architecture, such as Steinbach Haus (the visitor’s center). You can also taste exquisite French pastries at Haby’s Alsatian Bakery!
🌴 BEST TROPICAL PLACE TO STAY: Hillside Boutique Hotel (⭐️ 8.8)
31. Rockport, Texas
🏝 Why you should visit: The coastal city of Rockport, Texas is a tropical destination on the Gulf of Mexico. The blue waters beside beautiful sandy beaches with multiple piers make the city a great fishing and birding destination, while the historical architecture and museums create an engaging atmosphere.
🎣 Go fishing on the pier: Rockport’s landscape makes fishing accessible and easy for everyone. Between the many shallow bays, lakes, and saltwater marshes, there are endless opportunities for fly or bait fishing. Hit Rockport Pier for a prime fishing spot, and reel in a speckled trout or redfish.
🌊 Visit a Blue Wave Beach: Rockport Beach State Park is frequently ranked as the #1 beach in Texas. Its pristine sand and clear waters earned it the title of Texas’s first Blue Wave Beach. Rockport Beach is a great spot for fishing and birding, volleyball, sunbathing, and playing by the ocean.
30. Port Aransas, Texas
🏝 Why you should visit: Port Aransas on Mustang Island is a Gulf Coast paradise with 18 miles of wide sandy beaches. This city runs on island time, and among the popular activities are sandcastle competitions, state parks, and nature centers for the best birding, fishing, and alligator spotting on the Gulf.
🐠 Take an offshore fishing trip: Port Aransas is dubbed by locals as the ‘Fishing Capital of Texas’. There are so many fishing options, from the bay to the jetties to offshore excursions. Go for a 3.5 hour Bay trip with Deep Sea Headquarters or a full-day private charter trip with Woody’s Sports Center.
🏰 Build an epic sandcastle: Port Aransas’ 18 miles of soft sand and warm water is its best feature. But sunbathing isn’t the only activity. Every year, Port Aransas Beach hosts one of the largest castle competitions in the country. Attend the Texas Sandfest to view amazing constructions from talented sand artists.
29. San Antonio, Texas
🏝 Why you should visit: Home to a stunning riverwalk, warm subtropical weather, and plenty of historical wonders, San Antonio is one of the best exotic destinations in USA for families, couples, and solo travelers alike. On top of that, local resorts add to the tropical charm.
⛵️ Enjoy the riverfront: The San Antonio River Walk is lined with lively restaurants, picturesque bridges, and trees towering over the banks. Taking a stroll there is both exciting and relaxing. You can also take a River Walk Cruise (⭐️ 4.5/5) to explore from a different perspective!
🏖 Discover a tropical resort: The stunning La Cantera Resort & Spa (⭐️ 8.9) is one of the most tropical places to stay in Texas. This dreamy resort offers 4 outdoor swimming pools, a full-service spa, and calming vibes. Simply staying there is worth a trip to San Antonio alone!
28. Houston, Texas
🏝 Why you should visit: Houston in Southeast Texas is a metropolis that extends down to Galveston Bay. This cosmopolitan mecca is a vibrant and diverse destination of languages, economic prosperity, and cultures. From a delicious range of ethnic cuisines to a cutting-edge astronaut center, Houston has it all.
🌳 Stroll through historic downtown: On the northern edge of Downtown is a historic neighborhood with charming facades. Set away from the skyscrapers, this area features Market Square Park, gorgeous 19th-century architecture, and upscale restaurants. While downtown, taste authentic Vietnamese or famous Texas barbeque.
🚀 Explore NASA: One of the most captivating places in town is the NASA Space Center Houston. Visit the place NASA astronauts train, see the original Apollo Mission Control Center, and browse the large spacesuit and moonrock exhibitions. This education center will spark your interest in science!
27. Galveston, Texas
🏝 Why you should visit: The island city of Galveston is situated on the Gulf Coast of Texas. It offers a plethora of beach activities, historical architecture, and wholesome entertainment. From glass pyramids filled with wildlife to carnival rides on the pier, Galveston is one of the best tropical places in the US.
🐧 Step inside a glass pyramid: Moody Gardens is a bewildering nature and conservation attraction. Ever been inside a massive glass pyramid? Now is your chance. The Aquarium Pyramid features sharks, jellyfish, penguins, and more. The Rainforest Pyramid showcases exotic rainforest species, like Saki monkeys and tamarins.
🎡 Play on the pier: Galveston’s Historic Pleasure Pier is one of the city’s most exciting seaside attractions. This amusement park on stilts has a glowing Ferris wheel, a rollercoaster, and other rides. If you get hungry, drop by Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. for some fresh seafood.
26. Corpus Christi, Texas
🏝 Why you should visit: Right on the Gulf Coast of southern Texas is Corpus Christi, a bayfront town with 113 miles of the best beaches in Texas. This family-oriented community has easy access to state parks, a popular downtown seawall area, and excellent beaches with entertaining attractions.
🦈 Snorkel with a shark: The 1.5-mile stretch of sandy North Beach has more than just great bayfront views. Two of the town’s most popular attractions are here. Snorkel with a shark at the Texas State Aquarium or take a tour of the USS Lexington, a World War II aircraft carrier.
🌿 Wander the nature preserves: Padre Island National Seashore is a special place. As the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world, 66 miles of coastline and prairies are protected here. Migratory birds and endangered sea turtles dwell near the coast, and the quiet beaches are open for camping.
25. South Padre Island, Texas
🏝 Why you should visit: Situated off the southern Texas Gulf Coast is South Padre Island, a barrier island full of natural wonders. The calm waters of this resort town make for family-friendly beaches, while conservation centers and a variety of wildlife create ample opportunity for communing with nature.
🦋 Spot unique coastal birds: The South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center is a stunning oasis for coastal birds, alligators, and butterflies. Slowly stroll across their 3,300-foot-long boardwalk by the ocean or climb the viewing tower for prime birding. Then, stop by their alligator sanctuary.
🐢 Meet adorable sea creatures: The SPI Birding Center isn’t the only amazing conservation center on the island. At Sea Turtle Inc, visitors can see rescued sea turtles on the mend. Or, to encounter dolphins, take a boat tour with the SPI Dolphin Research & Sealife Nature Center.
24. Horseshoe Bay, Texas
🏝 Why you should visit: Nestled in the Texas Hill Country right alongside Lake LBJ, Horseshoe Bay is a quiet town offering a luxury tropical escape. Home to gorgeous resorts, fine dining options, stunning nature, and a relaxing vibe, it’s one of the most exotic US destinations.
☀️ Sunbathe at a resort: The unique Horseshoe Bay Resort (⭐️ 8.4) is the main tropical attraction in town and offers 3 swimming pools, 2 pool bars, 7 restaurants, and spa services. It also hosts several annual events and was named one of the best golf course resorts in the US. Spend a long weekend soaking up the sun there to truly experience tropical Texas.
🍷 Taste fine wine: There are several award-winning vineyards near Horseshoe Bay, such as Spicewood Vineyards, Stone House Vineyards, and Fall Creek Vineyards. The area is known for delicious wine tasting tours, so don’t miss out on the local specialties!
🌴 BEST TROPICAL PLACE TO STAY: Horseshoe Bay Resort (⭐️ 8.4)
🏝 US Tropical Islands: More Exotic Places in the US
Hawaii is undoubtedly home to some of the most breathtaking United States tropical islands. Lounge on white sand beaches, hike volcanoes for sunrise, catch the waves, and discover exotic wildlife — the list of things to do in the Aloha State is endless.
23. Kauai, Hawaii
🏝 Why you should visit: The Hawaiian archipelago island of Kauai is nicknamed “The Green Isle” for good reason. As the greenest island in Hawaii, Kauai’s tropical rainforest covers 97% of its landscape. From dramatic coastal cliffs and massive gorges to quiet bays, this island is an unforgettable oasis.
🌿 Follow a cliffside footpath: Looking for a challenge with massive rewards? Follow the steep Kalalau Trail footpath that runs through Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park. You will encounter waterfalls, native plants, and narrow valleys. The 4,000-foot-high Na pali cliffs also offer spectacular views of the ocean.
🏞 Visit Hawaii’s “Grand Canyon”: The biggest gorge in the Pacific is right here on Kauai. The colorful Waimea Canyon is a 10-mile-long, 3,000-foot-deep gorge that many call Hawaii’s Grand Canyon. Head to one of the park’s many vistas for sweeping views you’ll never forget.
22. Lanai, Hawaii
🏝 Why you should visit: Dotted with dramatic landscapes and sunkissed beaches, Lanai is one of the best tropical places in America to vacation. This island is warm year-round and offers a wide range of outdoorsy attractions. It’s even home to an adorable cat sanctuary.
🏜 Discover a rock garden: Keahiakawelo, AKA ‘Garden of the Gods’, is an absolute must-see in Lanai and will make you feel like you’ve stepped onto Mars. The rocky spires and formations there were caused by centuries of erosion, and are especially enchanting to see at dusk.
🌊 Catch the waves: The best place to surf on the island is Hulopoe Bay, which also has a beach park complete with barbecue grills, picnic tables, restrooms, and showers. You can also go for a scenic hike along the cliffs nearby to see the iconic Lanai landmark of Puu Pehe.
21. Maui, Hawaii
🏝 Why you should visit: The second largest island of Hawaii is Maui, a pristine coastal gem of the Pacific. Natural wonders are waiting around every bend to surprise visitors. The picturesque sunrises, undisturbed sacred valleys, and switchback highways along the mountains make Maui one of the best tropical getaways.
🌅 Watch the sunrise from Haleakala: The sunrises from the volcanic landscape of Haleakala National Park are breathtaking — so much so that the park requires sunrise reservations! Drive up to the Haleakala Summit and watch from 10,000 feet above sea level as the morning sun unfolds across the volcano crater floor.
🚗 Drive down a scenic highway: The Hana Highway is a scenic 64-mile route along the coast of Maui. Connecting the town of Kahului to Hana, this stretch of road will take you along an incredibly lush landscape. Take in the crystal pools and cascading waterfalls of Ohe’o Gulch along the way.
20. Big Island, Hawaii
🏝 Why you should visit: In geological terms, the Big Island is the youngest island in Hawaii. But it’s certainly not the smallest or least captivating. Featuring 12 of the world’s 14 climate zones, the most diverse landscape, and active volcanoes, every type of Hawaiian adventure can be found here.
🌋 Watch a volcano spew fire: There are currently two active volcanoes in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Kilauea has been spewing out fire and smoke since 1983, and in that time its lava has created over 500 acres of new land. It’s a rare thing to witness.
🐚 See green and black beaches: The diverse landscape and climates of the Big Island don’t stop with its beaches. Embark on a 2.5-mile trek to reach the remote Green Sand Beach, which has rare green-colored sand. Alternatively, visit the more easily accessible Punalu’u Beach with stunning black sand.
19. Oahu, Hawaii
🏝 Why you should visit: As the third-largest Hawaiian island with more than 125 beaches, Oahu is one of the top exotic vacation spots in USA. From the city living of Honolulu to famous Hollywood film locations and world-class surfing spots, Oahu captivates the imagination from start to finish.
🦖 Explore Jurassic Valley: Fan of Jurassic Park? You’ll want to explore Kualoa Ranch, a 4,000-acre nature preserve where the classic blockbuster was filmed. This park is brimming with adventure. Go on an ATV ride, zipline above the trees, or take a Jurassic Adventure Tour to see famous film locations.
🏄♀️ Surf the day away: It’s no secret that Hawaii is a coveted surfing destination with some of the biggest surfable waves in the US. With that said, Oahu has some of the best beaches in the state for it! Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head Beach are great for beginner and intermediate surfers.
18. Molokai, Hawaii
🏝 Why you should visit: The small, remote island of Molokai should be on the radar for anyone looking to get off Hawaii’s beaten path. Its undisturbed landscape, strong indigenous Hawaiian roots, and dramatic scenery untouched by tourism is for the explorers at heart.
🌿 Hike through an ancient valley: The sacred Halawa Valley is a pristine and historical slice of Hawaiian beauty. This protected valley can only be seen via guided hikes, where you’ll encounter incredible vistas, roaring waterfalls, and ancient temples. This is your chance to see what Hawaii looked like before tourism struck.
🌊 Lounge on a quiet beach: Surrounded by the world’s highest sea cliffs and deep jungles, the three miles of soft sand at Papohaku Beach Park is a gift. This unblemished beach is a far cry from the popular sands of Waikiki. You will have a peaceful, quiet, even spiritual experience here.
🌵 More Tropical Places in the United States
From unique rainforests in Washington to remote islands in Georgia, here are some more fantastic exotic places to visit in USA. In this section, you’ll also discover coastal towns in South Carolina, tropical resorts in Nevada, and quality tropical living in Arizona.
17. Olympic National Park, Washington
🏝 Why you should visit: Found on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula is Olympic National Park, a tropical park made of diverse Pacific Northwest ecosystems. From the glacier-capped mountains to the lush rainforests and sandy beaches, Olympic National Park makes for one of the best tropical vacations in the United States.
🏞 Go hiking in the mountains: Outdoor activities are as diverse as Olympic’s ecosystems. In fact, there are many breathtaking Olympic National Park hikes. Take a summit hike on Mount Olympus, or start at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center and hike the Hurricane Hill Trail for epic mountain range views.
🦜 Explore mystical rainforests: The temperate rainforests of Olympic National Park are truly magical places, and partly why the park has been named a World Heritage Site. To capture the best lush rainforest scenery, take a hike on the Hoh River Trail, which carries you through the Hoh Rain Forest.
16. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
🏝 Why you should visit: The coastal town of Hilton Head Island sits at the southern tip of South Carolina beside the Atlantic Ocean. This beach town offers warm waters for swimming, a plethora of golf courses, and nature preserves that highlight Lowcountry wildlife.
🏌🏼♀️ Enjoy harborside activities: Hilton Head offers so much to do right along the seaside. Harbour Town Golf Links is a challenging 18-hole course that will test your golf skills. And don’t miss the Harbor Town Lighthouse, an active red-and-white striped lighthouse and museum overlooking the Harbour Town Marina.
🌿 Explore Lowcountry nature: The Lowcountry geography and culture are best discovered at the Coastal Discovery Museum. This learning center offers coastal walks and tours that feature the unique wildlife, plants, and historical architecture of the region. Explore further at the Pinckney Island Wildlife Refuge to spot native animals.
15. Daufuskie Island, South Carolina
🏝 Why you should visit: Located between Hilton Head Island and Savannah is Daufuskie Island, South Carolina’s southernmost inhabited island. Measuring only 8 square miles, this slower-paced island is reminiscent of an older time. From the white sand beaches to the ancient oaks, the energy of Daufuskie is timeless.
🗿 Dive into Lowcountry history: The Daufuskie Island Historical Museum exhibits artifacts and preserved historical buildings that highlight the pre-colonial to 20th century Lowcountry culture. The foundation has also created the Rob Kennedy Trail, a self-guided tour around the island of significant historical sites and their stories.
🎨 Discover a thriving arts scene: Daufuskie is tranquil, but far from bland. The local art scene is alive and well. Various artisans use the land to create and showcase their art here. Visit the Island Fish Gallery, where award-winning sculptor Chase Allen handcrafts iron sea creatures.
14. Las Vegas, Nevada — One of the Best Tropical Places to Go in the US With Friends 👬🏻👫🏻
🏝 Why you should visit: Vegas is a once-in-a-lifetime destination known for its casinos, high-end clubs, and the famous Vegas Strip. However, it’s also one of the best tropical places to visit in US thanks to its endless palm tree resorts, outdoor pool parties, and sunny skies.
🌴 Hit the tropical resorts: Vegas has no shortage of tropical resorts lined with palm trees and outdoor pools. These resorts, such as the Desert Club Resort (⭐️ 8.9) and Hilton Grand Vacations Suites (⭐️ 8.9) are the perfect places to escape to for some exotic vibes.
🌋 Watch a volcano erupt: The Las Vegas Mirage Volcano Show is one of the hottest shows on The Strip and takes place every day between 7 and 11 PM. Witness a gigantic waterfall turn into a fiery lagoon, complete with sound effects and music that even kids will enjoy.
13. Saguaro National Park, Arizona
🏝 Why you should visit: Saguaro National Park in southern Arizona is a desert paradise, with the two sections of the park sandwiching the city of Tucson. Home to the country’s largest cacti, ancient petroglyph sites, and scenic loop roads, Saguaro National Park is an incredible exotic destination.
🗿 Discover ancient petroglyphs: The Signal Hill Trail is a small summit hike featuring sloping plains and saguaros, the nation’s largest cacti. Perhaps the most exciting find on the hike is the dozens of petroglyphs carved into the brown rocks dating back to the Hohokam people of the 13th century.
🌵 Drive a scenic loop road: Because of the year-round warmth and sun in Arizona, road trip season never ends. For the most spectacular desert landscape views, take a drive along the paved 8-mile Cactus Forest Scenic Loop Drive. This loop offers multiple trailhead access points, pull-off vistas, and thrilling switchbacks.
12. Phoenix, Arizona — The Best Tropical Place to Live in USA for Luxury Seekers 💎
🏝 Why you should visit: Dominating south-central Arizona is the metropolis of Phoenix. This sunny, warm city is a coveted spa resort destination, as well as a haven for golfers, sun-seekers, and those who enjoy the finer things in life. From botanical gardens to hot air balloon rides, this is quality tropical living.
🏜 Celebrate the Phoenix landscape: The arid desert landscape of Arizona captivates millions every year. Phoenix showcases its natural wonders in fun and engaging ways. You can take a balloon ride in the sky with Rainbow Ryders, or wind your way through the Desert Botanical Garden to observe native desert plants.
🛁 Relax in the lap of luxury: Phoenix is a huge resort and golf destination. The year-round warm weather and slow pace of life create the perfect blend of luxurious living. Go golfing at a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, dine at one of the many upscale restaurants, or pamper yourself at a spa resort.
11. Gulf Shores, Alabama
🏝 Why you should visit: The city of Gulf Shores in Alabama is home to one of the best beaches on the Gulf Coast, making it a unique tropical place in USA. There are also tons of exciting outdoor activities to enjoy there, as well as palm tree resorts to relax in afterward.
🌿 Enjoy the outdoors: Explore nature and wildlife inside the Gulf State Park, the ultimate place for outdoor adventures. Watch the waves crash at the white sand beach or hit the many hiking trails. Afterward, go fishing, paddling, or geocaching — the activities are endless.
🏖 Relax by a pool: The stunning Hampton Inn Gulf Shores (⭐️ 8.5) is the perfect tropical place to unwind in for a vacation. Featuring an outdoor swimming pool and a gym, this hotel is also very close to the beaches and other local attractions, such as Waterville USA.
10. Sapelo Island, Georgia
🏝 Why you should visit: Located between Savannah River and St. Marys River is Sapelo Island, a town off the coast of Georgia. This remote, largely undeveloped barrier island offers a unique chance to experience beaches, historical sites, and pristine estuaries without the crowds, making it a serene tropical getaway.
🏖 Have the beach to yourself: Because Sapelo Island is only accessible by ferry, it doesn’t often receive a flurry of tourists. This makes the natural gems on the island quiet and open for you to explore. Go swimming or kayaking at Nanny Goat Beach, a frequently empty white sand beachfront.
🌿 Walk an estuarine nature trail: The Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve covers over 6,000 acres of gorgeous estuaries and marshes. Taking one of the many nature trails or a guided tour provides an intimate look at the tranquil landscape of the island and its animal inhabitants.
🍹 More Tropical Places to Visit Without a Passport
The US territories of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are the most convenient exotic destinations for American travelers looking for tropical escapes. If you want to vacation outside the US with minimal hassle, visit the following tropical places without passport.
9. St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
🏝 Why you should visit: St. Thomas, the gateway isle to the US Virgin Islands, is one of the best tropical places to travel without a passport. Its pirate and European colonial history create a captivating culture that only enhances the beach and harborside activities of the island.
🥘 Soak in the Charlotte Amalie culture: Charlotte Amalie is one of the most visited port cities in the world, and for good reason. Its historical Danish colonial sites like Blackbeard’s Castle and Fort Christian date back to the 1600s. But you’ll also find modern upscale restaurants, bars, and plenty of shopping.
🚣♀️ Pick up a new watersport: Ocean attractions and activities are at every turn on St. Thomas. Magens Bay Beach has a stunning array of native trees and flowers lining its white sands and turquoise waters. Rent a paddleboard or kayak from Watersports at Yak Shak and hit the ocean.
8. St. Croix, US Virgin Islands
🏝 Why you should visit: Found in the Caribbean as part of the US Virgin Islands, tropical St. Croix island is the easternmost point in the US. This island has excellent diving and historic colonial sites, national parks, and a total of 36 beaches for seaside adventures and relaxation.
🌺 Witness a variety of nature: From native flora and fauna on the island to gorgeous coves and coral reefs, there is plenty of nature to see at St. Croix. St. George Village Botanical Garden showcases 1500 varieties of plants. For shimmering coral reefs and mangroves, head to Salt River Bay National Park.
🏰 Tour an old Danish fort: The Danish colonized the island of St. Croix in the 1600s, and the remnants of this complex history can be explored in the bright yellow Fort Christiansvaern. Take a tour and learn about its use in the 1700s as protection against invading pirates and as a dungeon for prisoners.
7. St. John, US Virgin Islands
🏝 Why you should visit: As the smallest US Virgin Island, St. John is one of the most pristine, undeveloped islands in the Caribbean Sea. With over half the island covered by Virgin Islands National Park, unique coastal topography, and tranquil beaches, St. John is a tropical dream.
🐬 Go on a national park adventure: America’s Virgin Islands National Park encompasses over half of St. John. Snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities abound at this park, which also covers 5,500 acres of ocean. Head to Hurricane Hole for coral reefs, mangroves, and dolphin and green turtle sightings.
🌱 Visit a sugar plantation: The Annaberg Plantation was once an active sugar plantation run by slaves in the 1700 and 1800s. Take the historic trail through the plantation to learn about its dark history, and see the remains of its old factory and slave quarters.
6. San Juan, Puerto Rico
🏝 Why you should visit: Situated right on the Atlantic Coast is San Juan, the capital city of Puerto Rico. The fascinating historical buildings, lively Caribbean energy, and entertaining beachfront strips make San Juan one of the best tropical places you can go without a passport.
🏰 Discover Old San Juan: The echoes of Spanish colonization resound throughout San Juan. Founded in 1521 by Spaniards, the city has some remarkably significant sites. Head over to the Sitio Historico de San Juan area, where you will find bastions, the original city wall, and Castello San Filipe del Morro.
🎉 Party by the beach: San Juan may have a rich history, but it isn’t behind the times. Isla Verde Beach has the widest beachfront and numerous entertainment options along its strip. Take a banana boat ride, test your luck at the Stellaris Casino, or get in on San Juan’s vibrant nightlife scene.
5. Culebra, Puerto Rico
🏝 Why you should visit: The magical island of Culebra in Puerto Rico is home to picture-perfect beaches and colorful marine life, making it one of the best tropical places to go without a passport. Enjoy all kinds of water activities and don’t miss the exquisite food either!
🐠 Snorkel in clear water: Flamenco Beach is the crown jewel of the island, and its soft white sand and clear turquoise waters will take your breath away. There are practically no waves at this beach, so it’s the perfect spot for snorkeling, swimming, and sunbathing.
🍗 Taste local food: There are plenty of places to taste exquisite Puerto Rican comforts. Head over to Zaco’s Tacos for some delicious fish tacos, Susie’s Restaurant for mouthwatering steak and seared tuna, and Krusty Krab for a lovely seafood meal with a view.
🐠 Tropical Islands Near USA (Passport Required)
If you’re curious to venture even further, there are plenty of tropical places near the US worth a visit. Discover the roots of reggae, swim with adorable pigs, and enjoy deep-sea fishing in Jamaica, the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the Cayman Islands.
🏝 Why you should visit: The Caribbean nation of Jamaica is one of the most magical tropical places near USA. From mountains to beaches to rainforests, its landscape is extremely diverse. As the home of reggae music, delicious food, and all-night dancing, good vibes are baked into the Jamaican way of life.
🎵 Discover the roots of reggae: The pulse of reggae beats throughout Jamaican culture. This blend of Jamaican Ska and American jazz was birthed right here in the 1960s by African-descended Jamaicans. Bob Marley famously globalized this genre. Visit the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston to learn about his reggae legacy.
🏞 Take in the island landscape: There are so many ways to experience the diverse Jamaican ecosystems. Hike Blue Mountain and try Blue Mountain Arabica coffee on a Holywell Coffee Tour, snorkel off Doctor’s Cave Beach, or chase waterfalls at YS Falls or Dunns River Falls.
3. The Bahamas
🏝 Why you should visit: As part of the West Indies in the Atlantic, the Bahamas is made up of 16 islands. This resort destination covers over 100,000 square miles of tropical beauty, from pink sand beaches to deserted sand bars and tranquil coves. The Bahamian adventures are endless.
🐖 Swim with adorable creatures: The Bahamas provide unique opportunities to commune with wildlife. On Big Major Cay are the famous swimming pigs that love to splash around the shallow waters. Take a dip with these friendly animals. And if you’ve always wanted to swim with dolphins, head to Blue Lagoon Island.
🌊 Find seaside tranquility: Since the Bahamas cover so much land and sea, there are a plethora of tranquil locations to find. Head to Pink Sands Beach to enjoy its stunning pink sheen, wander an empty cove or sand bar, or dive to underwater caves and shipwrecks off Andros Island.
2. Turks and Caicos Islands
🏝 Why you should visit: The British Overseas Territory of Turks and Caicos is an archipelago in the Atlantic made of 40 coral islands. Just found southeast of the Bahamas, this tropical territory has a 14-mile barrier reef and fascinating underwater geography that makes for excellent deep-sea diving and snorkeling.
🐳 Discover an underwater world: There’s more to Turks and Caicos than meets the eye. Some of the most incredible landscapes lie beneath the ocean surface. Try snorkeling at Smith’s Reef off the popular Grace Bay Beach on Providenciales Island. Or, deep-sea dive off Grand Turk Island to witness its massive underwater wall.
🐠 Join the fish fry: The freshest seafood can be found on the islands of Turks and Caicos. One of the most beloved weekly events for tourists and locals alike is the Island Fish Fry on Providenciales Island. Come together for tasty fried fish, rum, and dancing to a steel drum band.
1. Cayman Islands
🏝 Why you should visit: The British Overseas Territory of the Cayman Islands is made of three islands in the Caribbean Sea. This resort getaway is chock-full of adventures and rare finds. From the endangered species on Little Cayman to snorkeling and deep-sea fishing, the Cayman Islands are worth visiting.
🐌 Spot endangered animals: There’s a wide variety of rare and endangered species on Little Cayman. Head over to the island for a chance to spot a couple. The rare Cerion Nanus snail is here, as well as endangered species of iguana and a few endangered bird species.
🐠 Go deep-sea fishing: The deep waters off the island of Cayman Brac are ideal conditions for deep-sea fishing. The variety of tropical and migratory fish make for interesting catches. Reel in a Blue Marlin, Barracuda, or a massive Wahoo at one of the fishing tournaments like the Brac Jackpot.
🍍 Tropical Destinations in the US: Travel Tips
- ✈️ Find the best flights around the US with Skyscanner or Kiwi.com
- 💸 Get reliable travel insurance from World Nomads
- 🚖 Book your private transfer from the airport to your hotel with Expedia
- 🏨 Find the best accommodations on Booking.com or Expedia
- 🧔🏻 Get the best tour guides via Get Your Guide, Tiqets, or Viator
- 🚗 To rent a car for road trips, get the best deals on Rentalcars.com
- 🎒 Pack a bathing suit cover-up, a water-proof phone case, and durable hiking boots
- 📚 Read Lonely Planet USA and some dreamy beach quotes for more inspiration
- 📸 Bring the best photography gear (including these must-have Sony lenses!)
😎 Tropical Places to Visit in the US: A Recap
I hope you found some inspiration from this list of the most tropical US destinations! If you’re missing soft sand and palm trees in your life, you absolutely don’t need to go far. With so many clear water beaches, tropical resorts, remote islands, and stunning hidden gems, the US has plenty of incredible exotic destinations waiting to be explored.