7 One-Week Itineraries for the US and Canada You’ll Love

If you’re like me then you are always on the hunt for the perfect destination for a one week vacation. You may not have a lot of vacation time or you just like to make the most out of a short trip. 

I’ve compiled 7 of my top one-week itineraries across the US and Canada. These destinations are a mix of underrated and well-known places, as well as beach and mountain landscapes. 

I hope you find these itineraries helpful when planning your next one-week vacation!

North Cape, Prince Edward Island

You’ll notice a few themes across these 7 one-week itineraries:

Outdoor Activities and Wildlife

Our primary motivation for choosing destinations is to see wildlife or experience any outdoor activities the area offers. We aren’t crazy outdoors people, but we love National Parks, state parks, hiking, beaches, and any chance to see wildlife. 

Affordability

We prefer destinations that are in that sweet spot of exciting but also affordable. We don’t choose to visit many cities for this reason and aim instead for nature based places with lots of free activities, inexpensive accommodation or campgrounds, and reasonable distances to keep travel costs low as well. 

Crowd free

We try everything possible to avoid crowds. We love to choose destinations that are underrated and known for their quiet appeal. We also love to travel during off season and find this is a fantastic way to ensure we can enjoy the area to its fullest. While some restaurants and activities aren’t open, we get a much better sense of local life this way. 

Maine

My husband and I have lived in Maine all our lives so obviously we’re going to have a bias towards this state. That’s why I’ve included two Maine coast itineraries (one southern Maine and one “Downeast” or further up the coast). 

The Itineraries

South Dakota

Reasons to Choose South Dakota…

Wildlife. No crowds. National Parks. 

We found South Dakota to be incredibly underrated. This is a fantastic destination for those looking for wildlife. We saw bison, pronghorn, elk, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, donkeys, prairie dogs, coyotes, and tons more!

Even though we visited in August, there were hardly any other visitors at Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park, and Badlands National Park. 

When to Visit South Dakota: August

  • Day 1: Drive the Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park
  • Day 2: Hike within Wind Cave National Park
  • Day 3: Mount Rushmore for Sunrise
  • Day 4: Explore Badlands National Park
  • Day 5: Visit the Town of Custer
  • Day 6: Drive through Custer State Park for Sunset
  • Day 7: Go hiking in any of the state or national parks nearby.

Things to Know Before Visiting South Dakota

Keep in mind that Badlands National Park is 2 hours from Wind Cave National Park. I would suggest either choosing a homebase closer to one of the National parks and doing day trips OR splitting your week into two separate home bases. 

Looking back, I wish we did 5 days near Custer State Park and Wind Cave National Park and 2 days closer to Badlands National Park. 

After a rainstorm this rainbow was perfectly placed behind this pronghorn.
Cathedral Spires Hiking Trail in Custer State Park
Mount Rushmore National Memorial at Sunrise
Driving through Badlands National Park

Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Reasons to Choose the Great Smokies…

Wildlife. Hiking. National Park. 

The #1 reason I would suggest visiting Great Smoky Mountain National Park….black bears! 

We have black bears in Maine, but I’ve never seen the number we saw on our trip to Tennessee. In total, we saw 18 Black Bears (6 cubs) within only 4 days! We are pretty confident this had to do with our timing. Because we visited in May, all of the cubs are close to their mothers, plus they were all out of hibernation.

When to visit Great Smoky Mountain National Park: May

  • Day 1: Hike the Abram Falls Trail
  • Day 2: Walk to the top of Clingman’s Dome 
  • Day 3: Morning Bike Ride on Cades Cove Loop Road
  • Day 4: Look for elk in Cataloochee Valley 
  • Day 5: Drive Cades Cove Loop Road and look for wildlife
  • Day 6: Explore one of the Nearby towns (Townsend, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge)
  • Day 7: A free day to explore anything you want!

Things to Know Before Visiting the Great Smokies

Even during the shoulder season in May you can still run into traffic within the national park. 

If you’re looking for a quieter experience, choose to stay in Townsend, TN. If you prefer lots of activities and things to do, opt for Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge. 

Read More: How to Spend 48-Hours in Townsend, TN (with an RV)

We spotted a black bear on Abram Falls Hiking Trail
Clingman Dome’s Hiking Trail
View from an early morning bike ride along Cades Cove Loop Road
Wears Valley Social Food Trucks, in Sevierville, TN

Prince Edward Island

Reasons to Choose Prince Edward Island…

Proximity to Maine. Tons of Beaches. Secluded and Relaxing

Prince Edward Island is a real gem. With lighthouses and beaches everywhere you look, it truly is a dream vacation for those wanting a beach vacation. The atmosphere is relaxed and laid back, even the city of Charlottetown has a calming presence.  

When to Visit Prince Edward Island: September

Things to Know Before Visiting Prince Edward Island

If you visit on the shoulder or off season keep in mind that most places will be closed outside of the cities. Opt for accommodation where you can cook your own meals at home. 

And for those who are hoping to do some hiking in Prince Edward Island, keep in mind this island is incredibly flat. While there are plenty of trails to explore, there isn’t any noteworthy elevation gain. 

The island itself is split into 4 regions: North Cape (west), Green Gables (north central), Red Shores (south central), and Eastern Points (east). 

With only a week, choose 1 or 2 regions to explore at most.

Read More: How to Spend 5 Days in Prince Edward Island

PEI is known for their seafood, especially oysters!
Have a beach day! Our favorite was Cabot Beach Provincial Park.
Cape Egmont along the North Cape Coastal Drive
Cavendish Beach, Prince Edward Island National Park

Outer Banks, North Carolina

Reasons to Choose the Outer Banks, North Carolina

Family Friendly. Beach Vacation. Affordable

I have such fond family memories associated with the Outer Banks. It’s a great destination for those looking to rent a big beach house for the whole family. It’s also a great choice for those traveling with multiple generations because there’s tons to do without it being over stimulating. 

You can easily find a beach house right on the ocean and by splitting the cost with multiple families, the price can be quite reasonable. 

When to Visit the Outer Banks: May

  • Day 1: Beach Day
  • Day 2: Sunrise at Jockey Ridge State Park
  • Day 3: Learn the history of flight at the Wright Brothers National Memorial
  • Day 4: Lighthouse Tour – see as many as you can
  • Day 5: Play like a kid (mini golfing, adventure parks, aquarium)
  • Day 6: Eat Your Weight in Seafood
  • Day 7: Beach sunset / walk

Things to Know While Visiting the Outer Banks

There is basically one road in and out of the Outer Banks. You’ll find the typical tourist shops, souvenirs, and chain restaurants. But there’s also local businesses to support here as well. Opt to shop at the smaller stores to support the local residents who are often hit hard during hurricane season. 

Sunset is the best time for a beach visit
North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island
The Outer Banks will always hold a special place in my heart
Every October seafood lovers come together at the Outer Banks Seafood Festival

Downeast Maine

Reasons to Choose Downeast Maine…

Beautiful Nature. Hiking. Wildlife

Unlike Southern Maine that has a more vibrant scene, Downeast Maine is known for its quiet village towns, rocky coastline, and relaxing vibes. 

This is our favorite part of Maine. The further you go up the coast, the less crowds you’ll encounter. From where the Penobscot River meets the ocean (near Winterport, ME) all the way to Lubec, Maine, Downeast Maine is a region well worth visiting. 

When to Visit Downeast Maine: September

  • Day 1: Explore Acadia National Park
  • Day 2: Kayak or take a boat ride on the ocean
  • Day 3: Explore downtown Bar Harbor or Southwest Harbor
  • Day 4: Check out the quiet Schoodic Peninsula of Acadia National Park
  • Day 5: Hike the Cutler Coast
  • Day 6: Drive to Lubec, the eastern most point of the US
  • Day 7: Quoddy Head State Park + Cobscook Shore Trail System

Things to Know Before Visiting Downeast Maine

If you’re visiting during the shoulder or off season you may find restaurants and activities to be limited. We love to RV in this region because the prices are more reasonable than southern Maine and for you can often get sites right on the water.

Read More: Bar Harbor to Lubec: The Most Beautiful Part of Maine

Our favorites campgrounds are Bar Harbor KOA and Sunset Point RV Park in Lubec. 

Sunset Point RV Park in Lubec, Maine
Quoddy Head State Park
Getting on the ocean gives you a real sense of this region of Maine
Bar Harbor / Oceanside KOA Holiday Campground

Southern Maine

Reasons to Choose Southern Maine…

Beautiful Nature. Hiking. Adorable towns. 

With towns in southern Maine like Freeport, Portland, Kennebunk, and Wells, there is plenty to do and explore in this region. 

It’s the perfect destination for those seeking local shopping, lively beaches, and amazing seafood.  

When to Visit Southern Maine: September

  • Day 1: Explore downtown Freeport
  • Day 2: Walk along the cobble streets in Portland’s Old Port
  • Day 3: Relax at Scarborough Beach
  • Day 4: Visit a Lighthouse at Fort Williams Park
  • Day 5: Go Whale watching!
  • Day 6: Walk along the adorable Kennebunk downtown
  • Day 7: Walk along Wolfe’s Neck State Park or Mackworth State Park

Read More: 6 Fantastic Day Trips from Portland, ME You’ll Love

Things to Know Before Visiting Southern Maine

Southern Maine can get quite crowded in the summer months. Visiting in September or October is more pleasant and should lower prices a bit. For the most inexpensive way to travel this area, opt to visit during the winter months. You may find restaurants and activities are limited, but you’ll get a much better deal. 

Scarborough, Maine
Wolfe’s Neck State Park, Freeport, ME
Fort Williams Park, Cape Elizabeth
Mackworth Island State Park

Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia

Reasons to Choose Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia…

History. Off-the-beaten path. Centrally Located. . 

One of my favorite underrated regions in the US is Harper’s Ferry, WV. This is an awesome region for history lovers and those looking for an off-the-beaten path destination. With a mix of nearby historic sights, vibrant cities, small towns, and National Parks, you won’t run out of things to do. 

When to Visit Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia: October

  • Day 1: Shenandoah NP…2 hours from Harper’s Ferry
  • Day 2: Gettysburg…1 hour from Harper’s Ferry
  • Day 3: Charlestown…15 minutes from Harper’s Ferry
  • Day 4: Harper’s Ferry Historic Downtown
  • Day 5: Washington, DC…1.5 hours from Harper’s Ferry
  • Day 6: Frederick, MD…25 minutes from Harper’s Ferry
  • Day 7: Free day to explore anything you want!

Read More: 6 Exciting Things to Do Near Harper’s Ferry

Things to Know Before Visiting Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia

While Harper’s Ferry is centrally located to tons of amazing day trips, you’ll have to drive around 2 hours to get to some of them. And while this region is amazing for history, it’s not so great for their culinary scene. Choose an accommodation where you can cook your own meals. 

Shenandoah National Park
Downtown Harper’s Ferry, WV
Gettysburg, PA
Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, Washington DC

Final Thoughts

I hope this list of 7 one week itineraries gives you inspiration for your next vacation! You can’t go wrong with any of these destinations. Whether you rent a house with loved ones or stay at an RV campground, you’re bound to find accommodation you love, plenty of activities to enjoy, and boundless nature to admire. 

Happy traveling!