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Waiting on your passport? Here are 6 of the best places to visit in the US, according to a travel reporter.

Insider's reporter has visited 32 US states and recommends domestic trips to Miami and the Bay Area in California.
Insider's reporter has visited 32 US states and recommends domestic trips to Miami and the Bay Area in California.Joey Hadden/Insider
  • Passport renewal wait times in the US are as long as 13 weeks due to the post-pandemic travel surge.

  • I'm a travel reporter who has taken trains, cars, and flights across the US to 32 different states.

  • Here are my favorite domestic destinations to visit across the country for those without a passport.

As a travel reporter at Insider, I've made my way around the US by train, plane, and car. So far, I've been to 32 states in my life.

The author relaxes in an Amtrak bedroom traveling from Miami to NYC.
The author relaxes in an Amtrak bedroom traveling from Miami to NYC in October 2021.Joey Hadden/Insider

Read more: I visited 8 countries this year by train, plane, and cruise ship. 5 things surprised me that will change how I travel in 2023.

Insider recently reported that US passports are taking up to 13 weeks to process right now. So I sifted through my memories to come up with my favorite places to visit within the country for those without a passport.

The author sits in a seat at an airport gate with a mask on holding her phone
The author waits at her gate for a domestic flight in 2022.Joey Hadden/Insider

Sources: Travel.State.Gov, Insider

In the Northeast, check out Asbury Park, New Jersey. The beach town is known as the "cultural hub of Jersey Shore" for its music and architecture scene, Travel and Leisure reported. I visited recently and quickly saw why.

Two images of the boardwalk at the beach in Asbury Park, NJ
The boardwalk lining the beach in Asbury Park, New Jersey, in May 2023.Joey Hadden/Insider

Source: Travel and Leisure

I spent my time there wandering the beach boardwalk, which I found to be architecturally eclectic. At night, I saw electric horn bands at the Stone Pony, a music venue known for propelling stars like Bruce Springsteen, according to Travel and Leisure.

Left: A small dog sits on the beach with houses in the background RIght: A fish eye view of a stage from the crowd
Snapshots from the author's trip to Asbury Park in May 2023.Joey Hadden/Insider

Source: Travel and Leisure

In the Southeast, I recommend a trip to Miami, the Floridian city known for its art-deco buildings, vibrant nightlife, and sparkling clean beaches.

A shady park full of palm trees between the beach and Ocean Drive in Miami
Miami's South Beach neighborhood in October 2021.Joey Hadden/Insider

Source: Insider

I visited Miami back in 2021 and thought the city's range of neighborhoods had something for everyone, from glitzy South Beach to artsy Wynwood.

The author stands on a rooftop overlooking the ocean and palm trees
The author enjoys Miami's South Beach in October 2021.Joey Hadden/Insider

Read more: I toured Miami's artsy neighborhood that's becoming the 'Silicon Valley of the South.' Here's what it's like.

Also in the Southeast, recharge with a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains, a national park that covers half a million acres on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina.

Tops of Evergreen trees in the Great Smoky mountains in the foreground with mountains and cloudy skies in the background
Great Smoky Mountains National Park in April 2023.Joey Hadden/Insider

Source: Insider

I went for the first time last month and spent five days in cabins and tents. While exploring the epic natural scenes around me, I thought it was the exact trip I needed to unplug from my life in the city.

The author in a blue polo standing on the patio with the black fence and mountains and trees in the background. There's a wooden pillar on the left side at the fence's corner. The sky is gray and hazy.
The author stands in front of a mountain view from the balcony of a cabin in April 2023.Joey Hadden/Insider

Source: Insider

In the South, I think Austin, Texas, is an exciting place to vacation with an outstanding food scene. I lived in Austin for six years, and I was never out of things to do, from urban hiking to listening to bands roaring from the city's many music venues.

The author stands on top of a graffiti park in Austin with the skyline behind her
The author living in Austin, Texas, in 2016.Joey Hadden/Insider

Read more: 8 things I miss about living in Austin after moving to New York — and 3 things I'm happy I left behind

I think Austin has some of the best brunch and Tex-Mex in the country, as well as a wealth of access to musicians. With intimate clubs and pop-up venues, I've run into some heroes from my favorite bands in this city.

Left: an aerial view of a prerzel, sausage, and sandwiches Right: Scenes from small live shows in Austin
A brunch feast (L) and a pop-up venue featuring the author's favorite band (R).Joey Hadden/Insider

Source: Insider

Moving west, Sedona, Arizona, is another one of my favorite nature destinations in the US. I've found that the town embedded in red rocks has a relaxed vibe in my handful of trips there.

sedona streets
Downtown Sedona in July 2019.Joey Hadden/Business Insider

Source: Insider

And outside of the town area, Sedona's stunning and gigantic red rocks never cease to amaze me. Skipping around the vibrant dirt and climbing up cliffs always make me feel like I'm on another planet without even leaving the country.

The author stands on red rocks in Sedona with larger rocks and cloudy skies in the background
The author enjoys Sedona in February 2022.Joey Hadden/Insider

Read more: I'm a New Yorker who visited Phoenix for the first time. Here are 10 reasons I'm already planning a trip back.

On the west coast of California, the Bay Area refers to San Francisco, Oakland, and surrounding counties. I've been visiting this region since I was a kid, and its blend of city life with the hilly coastline makes it one of my favorite places in the world.

The entire city of San Francisco from a hill top
The city of San Francisco viewed from Twin Peaks in 2019.Joey Hadden/Insider

In the Bay Area, I've hiked to waterfalls, climbed beachside cliffs, and explored the city of San Francisco's music and art scenes. Every time I leave, I long for more time on the breezy coast.

Left image: the author holds a camera in front of a waterfall Right image: the author perches on top of a gigantic rock on the beach
The author in the Bay Area in 2019.Joey Hadden/Insider

Whether you're into nature, food, architecture, or music, I think there's a destination on this list for everyone waiting on a passport.

The author spent five days in the Great Smoky Mountains.
The author in the Great Smoky Mountains in April 2023.Joey Hadden/Insider

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