As one of the largest and most diverse countries in the world, The United States boast an amazing amount of tourist destinations ranging from the skyscrapers of New York and Chicago, the natural wonders of Yellowstone and Alaska to the sunny beaches of California, Florida and Hawaii. With so many tourist attractions in the USA it’s tempting to list entire cities or even states, but in this top 25 I have tried to focus on specific attractions.
Perhaps the most unmistakably American landmark is Mount Rushmore, a national memorial located in South Dakota. Constructed in the early 20th century, Mount Rushmore depicts the faces of four former American presidents, each of which is carved and blasted from the side of a rock face. Visitors can admire the larger-than-life faces of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. The short Presidential Trail at the base of Mount Rushmore provides better views and an interesting perspective on the landmark.
Overlooking the waterfront of Elliott Bay in Seattle, Washington, is the Pike Place Market. Opened in 1907, the market is now a historic, iconic part of the city. Pike Place Market is the ultimate place to shop in Seattle, because it is full of the oldest establishments in the region. There are markets where fresh fish straight from the Puget Sound gets tossed dramatically, cheesemongers who offer tastings of locally made brie and camembert and then there is the site of the original Starbucks coffee shop.
No visit to Los Angeles is complete without a trip to Venice Beach. Its canals and beaches are spectacular, but the biggest hit is undeniably the Venice Beach Boardwalk. This is a truly entertaining spot where street performers juggle, dance, sculpt and sing for passersby. Shop for souvenirs, grab a refreshing drink and bring some small bills for a stroll on the boardwalk. After stopping to admire a live performer, many visitors tip a dollar or two to show appreciation.
The Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado is home to the preserved homes of the Ancestral Pueblo people. Many of these homes, which are carved right from caves and rock faces, date back to the early 13th century. Today, it is possible to walk beneath the overhanging cliffs and tour these ancient abodes. The Balcony House is especially well preserved, and it boasts 40 rooms that are accessible exclusively by ladder. The nearby Cliff Palace is even bigger, and it is believed to have housed more than 100 people in its 150 original rooms.
One of the most historic destinations in Boston, a city already full of heritage, is Faneuil Hall Marketplace. Also known as the Cradle of Liberty, this early 18th century structure served as a space where early leaders gathered to fight against oppression in the years before and during the American Revolutionary War. Today, touring Faneuil Hall Marketplace means lots of opportunity to shop for local produce and desserts in the indoor and outdoor marketplace.
Cape Canaveral, located on the coast of Florida, boasts a lot of space-related attractions. One of the best is the Kennedy Space Center, which has been the launch site for every US human space flight since 1968 and currently operates as a launch site for unmanned rockets. Visitors can learn more about the early pioneers into space, and they can also experience the tension and excitement over the rush to the moon. There is even the chance to participate in the Shuttle Launch Experience, which replicates the experience of space travel.
Extending over the waters of Lake Michigan is Navy Pier, an enormous pier in the heart of Chicago’s coastal Streeterville neighborhood. Within the pier, there are countless attractions suited to the whole family. Beautifully manicured gardens are the ideal place for a scenic stroll, and lots of souvenir shops are a wonderful way to snag gifts on a vacation to Chicago. The pier is also home to the Chicago Children’s Museum, two theaters and an abundance of excellent restaurants.
Straddling the border between Tennessee and North Carolina is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The park is the most visited in the entire country, thanks in large part to its enormous size and its incredible scenery. Visitors can hike through old growth forest, spot hundreds of species of birds and check out the two visitor centers. Hikes can also wind through trails that lead to the waterfalls of Laurel Falls and the vistas of Clingman’s Dome.
In the city of San Antonio, Texas, there are few attractions more appealing than the River Walk. Also known as the Paseo del Rio, the River Walk is a network of walkways lining the San Antonio River. Reserved for pedestrians, the revitalized area is packed with fascinating architecture, lush greenery and water views. The River Walk is a hub for dining and culinary exploration in this Texan city. It is possible to dig into Tex-Mex cuisine, upscale French fare and everything in between in this one easily navigable destination.
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As the name suggests, Carlsbad Caverns is a collection of over 115 caves. Located in southern New Mexico, these caverns are carved from limestone, and it is possible for visitors to descend more than 900 feet (275 meters) below the surface of the earth on a guided tour. The largest single cave chamber in all of North America is found here and is known as the Big Room. Within the room itself, visitors can set off on a 90-minute walk exploring the incredible underground environment.
Located in Southern Utah, Bryce Canyon National Park is a breathtaking display of rock formations. Technically, Bryce Canyon isn’t a canyon, but a series of natural amphitheaters. Mormon settlers once called the canyon home, but now most visitors come for the awe-inspiring views and the magnificent hiking opportunities. Sunset Point is one of the most popular vantage points, offering panoramic views of the red, yellow and orange rock formations. Queen’s Garden Trail is another favorite, because it offers green trees amongst the red rocks for a brilliant juxtaposition.
New Orleans, Louisiana, is made up of several unique districts, but none is so famous as the French Quarter. Also known as the Vieux Carre, the French Quarter truly explores the rich French colonial influences on the city of New Orleans. Incredible architecture abounds, with the St. Louis Cathedral being the main attraction. The French Quarter boasts the Moon Walk, a paved walkway next to the Mississippi River, as well as Bourbon Street, the undeniable hub of nightlife, drinking and entertainment in the city.
A two-hour drive north of Phoenix is Sedona, Arizona. Sedona isn’t a big city, but it is a major tourist attraction in the USA thanks to its gorgeous red rock landscape. Known as Red Rock Country, this region is an outdoor lover’s dream. Countless canyons, creeks and paths encourage outdoor activity, with Cathedral Rock Trail being one of the local favorite hiking spots. One of the most interesting spots in Sedona combines the new with the old, with the contemporary Chapel of the Holy Cross built right into the side of the red rocks themselves.
Orlando, Florida, is a hub of amusement parks, but none is so popular as Walt Disney World. Many travelers don’t realize that Walt Disney World is actually made up of several distinct theme parks, including the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom and the Blizzard Beach Water Park. Visitors will be able to enjoy thrill rides, watch Broadway-quality shows and explore the nightlife, cuisine, shopping and entertainment at Disney Springs.
In the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, there is Yosemite National Park. This extraordinary destination is known the world over for its amazing scenery. Within this single park, visitors can peer off spectacular granite cliffs, admire clear waterfalls and see sequoia trees that are hundreds of years old. Yosemite Valley is a top spot to explore in the park, because it boasts the enormous Yosemite Falls as well as the granite monolith called Half Dome.
The White House in Washington DC is the official residence and office of the President of the United States. It was built between 1792 and 1800 and first used by President John Adams. After the 9/11 attacks it has become more difficult to visit the White House and today tours are available only for groups of 10 or more and must be requested up to six months in advance through your member of Congress or your country’s US Ambassador.
The Denali National Park and Preserve is located in Interior Alaska and contains Mount McKinley, the highest mountain in North America. The word “Denali” means “the high one” in the native Athabaskan language and refers to Mount McKinley. In addition, the park protects an incredible wilderness area that contains grizzly bears, caribou, moose, wolves, and numerous other creatures.
The gambling mecca of the world, Las Vegas is situated in the midst of the southern Nevada desert landscape. Casinos can be found throughout Las Vegas, but the strip, a stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard South, contains the most of them. It features giant mega-casino hotels, decorated with lavish care and attention to detail to create a fantasy-like atmosphere. The casinos often have names and themes that evoke romance, mystery, and far-away destination.
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The Florida Keys are a 120 mile long chain of tropical islands curving around the base of the Florida peninsula, connected to the mainland by a series of bridges. The most spectacular bridge, the Seven Mile Bridge in the Lower Keys, has been frequently used as a location for films including True Lies and Fast 2 Furious. US Highway 1, the “Overseas Highway” runs from Key Largo, Islamadora, Marathon, Lower Keys and finally to Key West, the most distant and most famous island.
Kilauea is the most recent of a series of volcanoes that have created the Hawaiian Archipelago. It is a very low, flat shield volcano, vastly different in profile from the high, sharply sloping peaks of stratovolcanoes. Kilauea is one of the most active volcano on the Earth, an invaluable resource for volcanologists. Thirty-three eruptions have taken place since 1952, not including the current eruption which started on January 3, 1983 and is still ongoing.
Situated between the state of New York and the province of Ontario, Niagara Falls is one of the most spectacular natural wonders on the North American continent. Niagara Falls is actually three different falls, the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and Horseshoe Falls. Horseshoe Falls is located on the Canadian side while the other are located in New York. With more than 14 million visitors each year it is one of the most visited tourist attraction in the world.
The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate, the strait between San Francisco and Marin County to the north. The Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge span in the world when it was completed in 1937, and has become an internationally recognized symbol of San Francisco and California. The famous red-orange color of the bridge was specifically chosen to make the bridge more easily visible through the thick fog that frequently shrouds the bridge.
Yellowstone National Park was the world’s first national park, set aside in 1872 to preserve the vast number of geysers, hot springs, and other thermal areas, as well as to protect the incredible wildlife and rugged beauty of the area. Yellowstone lies on top of a gigantic hotspot where light, hot, molten mantle rock rises towards the surface. Subsequently, the park contains half of all the world’s known geothermal features, with more than 10,000 examples of geysers and hot springs. In addition, black bears, grizzly bears, deer, elk, bison and wolves can all be found within the park borders.
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Manhattan is one of New York’s five boroughs and is what people most often think of when they picture New York City. It’s familiar skyline and sights have been featured a thousand times on screen. Walk in the shadow of the skyscrapers, picture the Statue of Liberty, see a Broadway show , climb the Empire State building, stroll Central Park, window shop on 5th Avenue or stagger around a museum.
The Grand Canyon is located in northern Arizona and is one of the great tourist attractions in the United States. Carved over several million years by the Colorado River, the canyon attains a depth of over 1.6 km (1 mile) and 446 km (277 miles) long. The Grand Canyon is not the deepest or the longest canyon in the world but the overwhelming size and its intricate and colorful landscape offers visitor spectacular vistas that are unmatched throughout the world.