Vacations can get expensive pretty quickly, and one way to save money on hotels and travel is to combine the two by renting or owning a recreational vehicle. In an RV, you don't have to worry about packing and unpacking with each stop or the trouble that is checking in and out of hotels. You take your room and belongings with you wherever you go, which is not only convenient but also quite fun.
Not every place you go is RV-friendly, however. Cities, for example, tend not to have campgrounds except for those that are surrounded by mountains like many in the West or Midwest. You also need to find an area that has campgrounds with space and amenities for those arriving in RVs. Luckily, North America doesn't lack for the great outdoors and throughout the United States (as well as Canada and Mexico) you'll find plenty of great vacation spots where you can just park your trailer and head out to witness the cultural and natural wonders of the area. For a vacation that's equal parts convenient, fun, and budget-friendly, check out these top RV destinations in North America. istockphoto.com
Baja California, Mexico
The Mexican peninsula of Baja California is anything but small, made up of two Mexican states and stretching about 760 miles from top to bottom. You'll find beaches, deserts, volcanoes, and historic, colonial towns here, as well as fantastic Mexican cuisine. Relatively remote and not very populated, Baja California is pretty affordable, particularly since it's the kind of place people usually go for inexpensive activities such as hiking, camping, surfing, and other outdoor adventures. Explore the booming brewery scene in Tijuana and the wine routes in Valle de Guadalupe, before heading further down to hit the resorts and restaurants of Cabo San Lucas and visit the missions of San Ignacio, Loreto, and Mulege.
Bethany Beach, Del.
Just a little under 1,200 people reside in the coastal town of Bethany Beach, but over 15,000 come to visit them every summer. With RV campgrounds just a couple miles from the beach, the area is known for its peacefulness, and the Bethany Beach boardwalk, a nice, well-kept change from more popular seaside destinations such as Atlantic City. Both golfing and swimming are popular endeavors here, but the town also has cute little cafés and stores for you to peruse. Don't miss Chief Little Owl, the 24-foot totem pole welcoming you to town, or the town museum, which chronicles the town's history from its birth as a religious retreat. istockphoto.com
Black Hills, S.D.
Located right next to the Badlands of South Dakota, the Black Hills are a small mountain range near Rapid City with a controversial history. Promises to the Lakota Sioux to keep white settlers off the land were broken by the United States government when gold was discovered, and as a result, the existence of monuments like the famed Mount Rushmore remains controversial. In addition to the faces of the four presidents carved into a mountain, visitors also flock to Black Hills National Forest, Wind Cave National Park, Jewel Cave National Monument, Custer State Park, and Crazy Horse Memorial, the native answer to Mount Rushmore which is set to become the world's largest sculpture once completed. This is a great hiking destination, as well as a wonderland for winter sportsmen, and you'll find RV parks and campsites in all kinds of mountain settings in the area. istockphoto.com
Blackwater Falls State Park, W.Va.
The most scenic spot, and therefore the most photographed place, in West Virginia lies in the Allegheny Mountains near the city of Davis. You've probably seen the spot where the Blackwater River hits Blackwater Canyon in a gorgeous fall of water on jigsaw puzzles, calendars, advertisements, and even stationary, but it's even better in person. Multiple trails provide great hiking opportunities, including a wheelchair-accessible nature trail, and there's a 65-spot campground for tents and trailers. istockphoto.com
Yet another city with a cowboy past, Denver has grown into a center of culture and arts and it has plenty of RV campgrounds in and around the city. You'll find plenty of city life here, but the Rocky Mountains are right nearby for when you crave the great outdoors. A plethora of museums cover local history, art, and science, and the city's parks and gardens are also quite beautiful. Brewery tours are popular in Denver, and there's even a private cannabis tour for those looking to truly enjoy the legality of marijuana in the state. istockphoto.com
Door County, Wis.
A most underrated destination, the peninsula of Door County lies right between Green Bay and Lake Michigan, and it's a favorite of many Midwestern travelers, particularly those with an RV thanks to the area being home to some of the best campgrounds in the state. There are more than 80 cultural attractions in this under-the-radar spot, including museums, theaters, and art galleries, many of which have courses for tourists to take. Door County also has more than 300 miles of shoreline, over a dozen conservation areas, and five state parks, making it a great destination for nature lovers, and its 10 lighthouses draw quite a few people interested in maritime history. istockphoto.com
Estes Park, Colo.
Right at the east entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park is a town rather than a park in the traditional sense - the word park, in the local dialect, can refer to an upland valley or meadow. While tourism is heaviest from July through September, the area is the prettiest in the state. Estes Park is also a quieter wintertime destination for enjoying the Rockies due to its world-class snowshoeing and cross-country skiing opportunities. The area is also great for camping, with campgrounds including planned activities and beautiful clubhouses, and visitors also enjoy hiking, horse riding, mountain climbing, biking, fishing, birding, and rafting. Golfers can enjoy 27 holes, and the local Rooftop Rodeo is award-winning and fun for the whole family. istockphoto.com
Fairbanks has the best of Alaska to offer, particularly its crêpes, and an RV is the perfect way to experience the great outdoors here. Come between mid-August and April for the best chance to witness the aurora, as Fairbanks is located right below the auroral oval. It's not a bad idea to visit during the end of February or early March so you can catch the World Ice Art Championships held by Ice Alaska to spotlight impressively beautiful ice sculptures from artists around the world. Creamer's Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge has trails that both hikers and bird lovers will love, as the trails go through an area that many bird species stop at during migration season. Several tours are available throughout Fairbanks to explore the nearby rivers as well as the city itself. istockphoto.com
Great Smoky Mountains, Tenn./N.C.
There are several large cities with access to the Great Smoky Mountains, and any one of them would be a great base from which to enjoy the gorgeous flora and incredible fauna. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park receives 9 to 10 million visits annually, making it the most-visited national park in the country. It's also one of the best for a picnic. It has been deemed a UNESCO World Heritage site and an International Biosphere Reserve, with nearly 95 percent forestation filled with nearly 100 different species of native trees, over 5,400 plant species, hundreds of bird species, 50 types of native fish, 66 different kinds of mammals, and countless amphibians and reptiles. The Appalachian Trail - heaven for hikers - runs through the park, and the valley of Cades Cove is the most popular spot due to the beautiful view, tons of wildlife, and historical structures. If you're on the North Carolina side of the mountains, you can also make a visit to the home of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation at the eastern entrance of the national park. istockphoto.com
Both the tech industry and tourism are booming in Guadalajara and for good reason - this rising city has much to offer in the way of both modernization and history. Mexican art and culture is at its best in Guadalajara, which hosts the country's biggest film festival in March and the Mariachi Festival in September. Visit the largest indoor market in Latin America, Mercado San Juan de Dios, or walk through Colonia Lafayette, a fantastic neighborhood for art and food-lovers alike full of gorgeous modern and colonial-era architecture. Hospicio Cabañas, one of the oldest and largest hospital complexes in the Western Hemisphere as well an UNESCO World Heritage site, is also worth a visit, decorated with amazing frescoes by José Clemente Orozco.
Lake Geneva, Wis.
The town of Lake Geneva, the most charming in all of Wisconsin, has a wonderful law that states that all lakefront properties must allow for a bit of their land to be used as part of a path that encircles the entire lake. Bikes are banned, which allows for you to go for a nice, tranquil walk, untroubled by cyclists moving at a more frantic pace. You can also rent a boat and actually get on the lake for sailing or parasailing. Cute little stores offer all kinds of trinkets and goods for tourists to take home, and an RV park and state park exist right near the lake as well. istockphoto.com
Lake Powell, Utah/Ariz.
A must-see destination in the American heartland, the reservoir of Lake Powell lies on the Colorado River, mostly in Utah but with some of it stretching into Arizona. Two million people come here every year to marvel at this man-made lake surrounded by Mars-like terrain. In fact, Lake Powell is so extraterrestrial-esque that it's been the shooting location for 45 films and television shows, including Gravity, Doctor Who, and Planet of the Apes. Part of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Lake Powell is a great place for water sports and hiking, and visitors can also visit the nearby Rainbow Bridge, the world's highest natural bridge. While there are campgrounds at the marinas, you can also rent a houseboat and stay right there on the water. istockphoto.com
Lake Tahoe, Nev./Calif.
Nearly three million people annually make it out to the border of California and Nevada to visit Lake Tahoe, one of the biggest, clearest, and deepest freshwater lakes on the planet. Lake Tahoe is a year-round destination with offerings that vary with the seasons. Come in the summer for splendid hiking, golfing, boating, and other watersports, and return in the winter for some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the nation, especially if you're a beginner. If you're not up for a snowboarding class or a good time on the water, however, there's still plenty to do in this popular tourist region. Dining, shopping, gambling, and nature sightseeing are all worthwhile endeavors to pursue in this beautiful getaway spot. istockphoto.com
Mammoth Cave National Park, Ky.
At 392 miles, Mammoth Cave is the world's longest cave system known to man and is about 15 million years old. Two million visitors come to see it every year at Mammoth Cave National Park, one of the most underrated national parks, which also houses over 70 endangered, threatened, or state-listed species of plants and animals. Trails throughout Mammoth Cave National Park offer beautiful hikes and wildlife viewing, and visitors also partake in boating and other outdoor recreation. The park is free, but you'll need a guide to tour most of the caves, which can run from $5 to $48. istockphoto.com
Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Over 14 million people descend on Myrtle Beach every year for swimming, seafood, and shopping, and there's plenty of RV campgrounds close to the beach. Its popularity as the perfect Southern beach weekend can cause the beaches to be quite crowded during high season, but sunrise sees moderate temperatures and quiet shores. Myrtle Beach's Broadway is full of nightlife, bars, shops, restaurants, a movie theater, and an aquarium. Perfect for some family-friendly summer fun, Myrtle Beach has tons of variety shows and concerts, as well as more miniature-golf courses per square mile than any other place in the world. Regular golfing is also world-class at Myrtle Beach, and many people travel here specifically to hit one of the area's more than 120 golf courses. istockphoto.com
Napa Valley, Calif.
Napa Valley's biggest claim to fame is its wine, encompassing more than four hundred wineries. While it is the most important wine-growing region in the United States, visitors also visit Napa Valley for its gourmet food and spas, as well as its scenic views. Rest and relaxation abound here, and a bath in the hot springs or a mud bath is a must. Golfers can also wind down at one of the 10 golf courses present throughout the valley. istockphoto.com
Niagara Falls, N.Y./Ontario
Both sides of the Niagara Falls have RV parks set up for the many tourists that come to experience this breathtaking waterfall and its surrounding attractions. Get up close and personal with the falls through Cave of the Winds, an experience that brings visitors down an elevator to a walkway that leads right to the bottom of the Bridal Veil Falls. There's also, of course, Maid of the Mist, a boat ride that will take you around the bottom of the falls. Learn the geological history of the falls at the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center or take one of the many sightseeing or historic tours of the area. istockphoto.com
Park City, Utah
Surrounded by the Rocky Mountains, Park City is world-renowned for its skiing. Visit one of its three world-class resorts for cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, sleigh rides, and ice skating. Park City is still a worthy destination year-round, however, as the mountains provide a great opportunity for hiking, biking, golfing, and horseback riding, as well as zip lining and rock climbing. There's also plenty to eat here, and the area has its own unique cuisine. Both the Sundance Film Festival and Kimball Arts Festival take place in Park City as well, leading to the rise of a burgeoning arts scene. istockphoto.com
The Poconos, Pa.
A popular honeymoon destination, the Poconos is also a favorite for families, adventurers, and skiers. The Poconos are one of the best regions for hiking and camping, and food options are abundant as well. Amusement parks and ski resorts provide all kinds of entertainment, and the local lakes, some man-made and some natural, are perfect for boating and fishing. NASCAR fans will enjoy the Pocono Raceway, whereas history lovers will appreciate the Pocono Indian Museum which showcases the history of the natives of Delaware. istockphoto.com
Redwood National Park, Calif.
Redwood National and State Parks in the northern California constitute not only an American icon, but also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Redwood trees, which can live for 2,000 years, are massive, growing up to 367 feet tall and 22 feet wide - the coastal redwoods are, in fact, the world's tallest trees. Wildlife is also very visible here, and it's possible for a lucky hiker to catch a glimpse of a black bear or a bald eagle. Hiking and biking trails here are gorgeous, particularly in the early morning hours or when there's a little bit of fog, and the park has four developed campgrounds which definitely require a reservation in the summer. Plan ahead and get a permit to drive through the Tall Trees Grove, which has a limit of 50 cars per day. istockphoto.com
One of the most beautiful towns in America, and also one of its most underrated, Sedona is a great place to take an RV trip so that you can experience its outdoor beauty fully. Nearly 100 art galleries populate the town of Sedona, which is also home to plenty of other arts and culture events, such as a film festival, arts festival, and jazz festival. Sitting among the Red Rocks, Sedona is a picturesque town perfect for outdoor recreation or even as a wedding venue. Sedona stores specialize in New Age products, as well as arts and crafts by local Native Americans. Visitors to the Grand Canyon popularly stay here to enjoy the city's views as well as its great dining options. istockphoto.com
Seneca Falls, N.Y.
Seneca Falls stands out among the Finger Lakes region for its history and beauty, and it luckily has a couple campgrounds including a hilltop site at Cayuga Lake. Make a stop at Women's Rights National Historical Park, a spot that's great for outdoor recreation and is also considered to be the formal birthplace of the American Women's Rights Movement due to the First Women's Rights Convention being held at the Wesley Chapel here in 1848. The former home of Elizabeth Cady Stanton is also located in the park, and visitors can also visit the nearby National Women's Hall of Fame. The Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, which covers over 7,000 acres, is also a great stop for animal and nature lovers. The Finger Lakes region as a whole also offers wine tours and great dining options, all accessible from Seneca Falls. istockphoto.com
Stowe is so dedicated to skiing that it even houses the Vermont Ski Museum. This little town has much more to offer, however, with the Trapp Family Lodge drawing fans of The Sound of Music, who come to enjoy skiing as well as concerts in the summertime. Stowe is also not far from the Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream Factory, the Cold Hollow Cider Mill, or the Cabot Cheese Outlet. Stowe's natural beauty not only makes outdoor recreation more enjoyable, but it also makes for great scenic walks and drives, particularly in the winter and fall. Its food scene is also quite vast and adventurous, and you won't feel the need to go far for a good meal. istockphoto.com
Two hours from Santa Fe, you can discover the lesser-known destination of Taos, the prettiest town in the state of New Mexico. Taos is great for skiing and art, and the Taos Ski Valley is a must for anyone wanting to try out the Southwestern slopes. You can also make a trip to visit the Taos Pueblo, a Native American community just north of town that's open to visitors as long as you're respectful. The Rio Grande also means plenty of available river adventures, and the Enchanted Circle is a self-guided driving tour taken by many visitors through the scenic surroundings of Taos. istockphoto.com
Home to one of the largest ski resorts in North America and located on Whistler Mountain, Whistler is a great destination for winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding, ski jumping, tobogganing, and snowshoeing. However, there's more to Whistler than just winter sports, as the resort town also offers opportunities to explore the area with activities such as their Peak 2 Peak Gondola, hiking trails surrounded by snow walls, axe throwing, and enjoying the local cuisine and spas. istockphoto.com
Yellowstone National Park, Wyo.
The world's first national park is also likely the most famous, drawing in over 3 million visitors every year. The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is centered here, meaning the park has a great diversity of animals and plants, including 67 different mammals. Yellowstone is a prime spot for bird watchers, as well as botany enthusiasts, as it houses over 1,350 vascular plant species. Known for its geysers and hot springs, Yellowstone is also home to half the world's geothermal features, including the famous "Old Faithful." istockphoto.com
Yosemite National Park, Calif.
Another famous national park, Yosemite lies in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It's an outdoor adventurer's dream, with 350 miles of roads, 800 miles of trails for hiking, and 1,600 miles of streams within its nearly 1,200 square miles. Yosemite's dangerous yet beautiful Half Dome marks the Yosemite Valley, where one can come for the park's beautiful waterfalls, cliffs, and meadows. Thirty miles from Yosemite Valley is Glacier Point, which presents a fantastic view of the Half Dome. The expansive area's many lakes are also open for hiking, boating, and other water sports that are better than a workout. istockphoto.com