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Top 10 Exotic Vacation Destinations in the United States

Use your Hilton Honors™ Points to feel like an international traveler without leaving the country

The Vacationeer
Stunning Hawaiian vista, Big Island, Hawaii.

As summer approaches and COVID-19 restrictions relax, travel experts predict that 2022 will be a big year for travel. U.S. travelers hope to make up for missed vacations in incredible destinations worldwide

However, international travel may not be for everyone right now.

Whether your passport has expired, you need to visit family stateside, or just want to explore everything the U.S. has to offer, Hilton Honors™ Points opens up a world of travel without leaving the country. You don’t need to travel far to have an unforgettable vacation.

The United States is home to places that feel like international destinations with the conveniences of domestic travel. Scratch the travel bug without a passport, and check out these 10 exotic vacation destinations in the U.S.A., all accessible via Hilton Honors perks.

Culebra, Puerto Rico

Why go: If Fiji is first on your bucket list, but you’re not excited about a 10 hour (or longer) flight, consider Culebra, Puerto Rico. Culebra is a hidden tropical gem less than 20 miles from the main island of Puerto Rico.

Picturesque beach scene, white sands and turquoise waters, Culebra, Puerto Rico.   

What to do:

  • Beach hop around Culebra’s white-sand beaches, including the secluded Resaca beach, accessible only by hike.
  • Grab dinner and drinks at Dinghy Dock and soak in the seaside setting.
  • Kayak through bioluminescent bays, where you can see glow-in-the-dark marine plankton light up the Caribbean Sea.

Where to stay: Culebra is somewhat remote, so expect to take a short flight or ferry ride from San Juan on the main island and stay at Caribe Hilton in the heart of Puerto Rico.  

St. Augustine, Florida

Why go: If you’re looking for more Old World flavor, St. Augustine, Florida, is the oldest American city. Established by the Spanish in 1565, St. Augustine maintains its historical buildings so you feel transported in time.

Beautiful aerial view of city hall and Alcazar courtyard in St Augustine, Florida.    

What to do:

Where to stay: To keep the Old World feel, stay at Hilton St. Augustine Historic Bayfront in Spanish Colonial-style cottages.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Why go: Santa Fe is ideal for those who want a destination rich in history and cultural diversity. The Pueblo-style architecture and renowned art scene also set the city apart.

Iconic pueblo-style architecture set against the bright blue sky, Santa Fe, New Mexico.   

What to do:

  • Pack a picnic, head to the Puye Cliff Dwellings — an ancestral home site of the Santa Clara Pueblo people — and get a tour of their history.
  • Learn a new skill and take a class in Southwest cooking, yoga or pottery-making.
  • Explore the Plaza, with unique restaurants, museums, art galleries and shops, where you can support local businesses and Native artisans.

Insider tip: Don’t be afraid to explore the side streets off of the Plaza for unique vendors and local-favorite restaurants.

Where to stay: Stay close to the action at Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder. If you need to rejuvenate, treat yourself to golf, gambling and pampering at one of the best spas in the area.

Ahuimanu, Oahu, Hawaii

Why go: What’s a list of exotic U.S. destinations without Oahu? Oahu is known for its beaches, perfect for surfers and sun-soakers alike.

Stunning aerial image of Oahu shoreline, sunset painted skies overhead, Hawaii.    

What to do:

  • Bring a movie buff, and take a tour of Kualoa, where Jurassic Park was filmed.
  • Walk the lush grounds of the Byodo-In Temple — a replica of a Japanese temple to commemorate the first Japanese immigrants to the island — and shop from local artists there.
  • Fill up on all things pineapple and tour where Dole grows the iconic tropical fruit.

Where to stay: If you stay on Oahu, you have your pick of Hilton Grand Vacations resorts, from The Grand Islander, Grand Waikikian, Hokulani Waikiki, Kalia Suites and Lagoon Tower.

Leavenworth, Washington

Why go: If you’re experiencing fernweh (German for wanderlust), satisfy the travel bug with a vacation in Leavenworth, Washington. This central Washington town in the Cascade Mountains mimics Bavarian-style architecture.

Bavarian-style architecture, the Cascade Mountains in the distance, Leavenworth, Washington    

What to do:

Where to stay: If Seattle has always been on your bucket list, plan a day trip to Leavenworth (about a two-hour drive) and stay at Hilton Seattle for easy downtown access.

Napa Valley, California

Why go: Get a taste of Tuscany, Italy, in Napa Valley. If you’re an oenophile, this beautiful wine region should be at the top of your list of places to visit.

Two people walking together through a stunning Napa Valley vineyard at sunset, California.   

What to do:

Where to stay: For maximum Mediterranean landscapes, stay at Hilton Santa Cruz Hotel in Scotts Valley and be a day trip away from Napa Valley and the stunning coasts of Big Sur, often called the “American Riviera.”

Solvang, California

Why go:  If you can’t get to Europe but still need vacation ideas, enjoy the charm of Scandinavia in Solvang, California. Solvang — also known as “Little Denmark” — is nestled in the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley.

Idyllic Scandinavian-style architecture in Solvang, California.   

What to do:

Where to stay: Make your home base at Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort, where the beach is across the street and Solvang is less than an hour-long car ride away.

Chinatown, San Francisco, California

Why go: In the 1850s, San Francisco was the port of entry for Chinese immigrants and has grown into the oldest and largest Chinatown in North America. Today, it’s a bustling neighborhood of art, history, food and shopping.

Chinese lanterns hanging overhead a Chinatown street at dusk, San Francisco, California.   

What to do:

  • Snap a selfie at the iconic Dragon’s Gate, and then head to the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory, where you can watch how fortune cookies are made and even sample unique flavors.
  • Visit Et al., an unlikely contemporary art gallery featuring local and international artists, hidden in the basement of a dry cleaners.
  • Still hungry? Check out China Live, a multi-story food emporium, where you can taste your way across East Asia.

Insider tip: China Live is a great place to pick up a souvenir or gift. We recommend the Peking duck fat popcorn for the gourmand in your life.

Where to stay: Stay at the heart of the city at Parc 55 San Francisco, a Hilton Hotel for cosmopolitan charm that’s close to the action.

Vail, Colorado

Why go: Vail, Colorado, is modeled after Swiss mountain town Zermatt. Feel as though you’ve been instantly transported to Europe with the nearby Rocky Mountains and Alpine architecture. The town is a fantastic skiing destination, though there are plenty of things to do in any season.

Gorgeous aerial view of Rocky Mountains and Alpine architecture, Vail, Colorado.    

What to do:

Where to stay: If you want to see the most of Colorado, stay at Valdoro Mountain Lodge, a Hilton Grand Vacations Club. From there, you can day trip to Vail and the Great Sand Dunes National Park for dunes that rival the Sahara Desert.

Assateague Island, Maryland

Why go: Near Ocean City, Maryland, Assateague Island is a 37-mile long barrier island. This island is unique because it’s home to wild horses, similar to Soajo Mountain in Portugal.

Wild ponies resting  along the shoreline, cotton candy skies overhead, Assateague Island, Maryland.    

What to do:

  • Check-in at the park’s visitor center and attend one of their family-friendly wildlife and birding programs.
  • Hike or kayak for a fossil fuel-free way of getting around the island and watching the wild horses.
  • Get your game on and golf with a view of the bay.

Insider tip: The barrier island habitat occasionally closes for conservation efforts, so plan ahead and check the park website for updates.

Where to stay: Rest your head at Hilton Ocean City Oceanfront Suites just a few blocks from the Boardwalk, and rent a car to visit Assateague Island.

Wherever your Hilton Honors Points take you, plan your vacation with these vacation ideas and travel tips to help you make the most of your next trip.

 

Vacationeer

The Vacationeer

The Vacationeer is a collective of Hilton Grand Vacations storytellers whose goal is to inspire travelers to go further. We're always on the lookout for new destinations to explore, useful travel tips, and unique ideas to help you plan the most memorable vacations possible.

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