14 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in the USA
The United States is a vast land and, as a result, most people plan their trips within a given region, be it the East Coast, the Southwest, the beaches of Florida or California, or outlying regions like Hawaii and Alaska. There are plenty of options for travelers with incredible sights sprinkled across the country. The USA is home to some of the most spectacular scenery in the world and some of the most recognizable icons on the globe. For anyone in the enviable position of having unlimited time and resources, these are the top attractions to include on your itinerary.
1 Grand Canyon
This incredible natural attractions is one of the most visited places in the United States. Carved out by the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon cuts deep into the landscape, creating dramatic cliff walls and ledges. Visitors standing on the rim of the canyon can see down to the canyon floor a mile below, and look out over the ridges and cliffs that run as far as the eye can see. The South Rim is the most visited section of Grand Canyon National Park, with a large visitors center, regular bus service along the Rim in the high season, and a walkway that runs along the canyon with numerous viewing points and platforms. The North Rim, which also has lookout areas, provides a different perspective. This section of the park has limited access from November to May due to snow and winter conditions.
Accommodation: Where to Stay near the Grand Canyon
2 Niagara Falls
Situated along the Canada-US border, Niagara Falls is one of the most famous waterfalls in the world. The water from Lake Erie flows into Lake Ontario over these massive waterfalls, known for the great quantity of water that is constantly tumbling over the vertical drop. The amount of water going over the falls is actually reduced in winter, when more water is used to produce hydroelectric power. Most visitors will not notice a difference.
Niagara Falls is actually a set of three falls, consisting of the largest section known as Horseshoe Falls, a second section on the American side of the river known as the American Falls, and a much thinner section located next to the American Falls, known as Bridal Veil Falls. On clear days, the plume of mist rising from Niagara Falls can be seen from as far away as the CN Tower in downtown Toronto, Canada, on the opposite shore of Lake Ontario.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Niagara Falls
3 Statue of Liberty
A universal symbol of freedom, the Statue of Liberty is America's most familiar icon and the largest statue in the world. Standing 152 ft in New York Harbor, visitors can admire the statue from various points around the city, particularly Battery Park, or take a ferry right to the statue. For people who plan to go out to the statue, options include grounds tickets, pedestal tickets, or crown tickets, which allow different levels of access to the site. Anyone who plans on going inside the Statue of Liberty is encouraged to make advanced ticket reservations.
4 White House
The White House is the official residence of the President of the United States, and on almost all tourists' list of things to see in Washington. This historic structure has been the home of every president except George Washington. It was originally built by James Hoban in 1792 and, after being burned down by British forces in 1814, was rebuilt in 1818. Tours of the White House are free, but reservations must be made a minimum of three weeks in advance. Strict security rules are always in effect.
5 Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is home to a huge ancient volcano which has resulted in a dramatic landscape and awesome natural phenomena. Geysers and hot springs, along with incredible waterfalls along the Yellowstone River are just some of the attractions drawing in huge numbers of tourists each year. The park, the oldest national park in the USA, is also home to all kinds of wildlife, with free roaming bison, bighorn sheep, antelope, black bears, and grizzly bears.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Yellowstone National Park
6 Walt Disney World Resort
This mega amusement park in Orlando is the top family attraction in the country, and has been catering to both young and old for decades. Opened in 1971, Walt Disney World has managed to maintain its relevance and its allure for children and even many adults throughout the years. Walt Disney World Resort encompasses not only the various theme parks, it also includes water parks, Downtown Disney with shopping and theaters, and much more, from fine dining to golf. Although many visitors plan to spend a few days here, it's possible to spend a week or longer if people want to take in all there is to see and do.
Accommodation: Where to Stay near Walt Disney World Resort
7 Times Square
Bustling Times Square, famous for its flashing billboards, New Year's Eve count down, and constant throngs of people, lies at the heart of Midtown Manhattan. This intersection is really about the energy one feels when standing on the corner as taxi cabs rush by and lights flash overhead, rather than any individual site on the square. While it is an interesting place during the day, it is probably best seen at night to experience the full impact.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in New York City
8 Golden Gate Bridge
Arching across San Francisco Bay, joining San Francisco and Marin County, the Golden Gate Bridge has been a California icon since it was built in the 1930s. Contrasting with the blue water, the bridge's orangish-red color is an aesthetic accent that brings a unique quality to the city. It also has a unique presence when it is shrouded in fog with just the peaks of the main towers projecting through the low lying cloud. The bridge is approximately 2 miles long and part of Hwy 101 or SR 1.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in San Francisco
Home to the most popular beach in the Hawaiian Islands and possibly the most famous beach in the Pacific, Waikiki has been a tourist destination for over a century. Today this area is a cross between tropical paradise and modern city. Relaxing on this beautiful stretch of beach with palm trees blowing in the wind will certainly let you know you are in the tropics, but the high rise buildings and busy street in behind are a reminder that you are not far from civilization. Shopping, dining, surfing, and sunbathing are all part of what makes this small section of Oahu so popular with tourists of all ages from all parts of the world.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Waikiki
10 Las Vegas Strip
Walking along the Las Vegas Strip, the main street leading through the city past the mega resorts, is like strolling through an amusement park for adults. Recreations of the New York skyline, the Eiffel Tower, the canals of Venice and many more foreign sites line this famous street. Beginning at one end with the Luxor Hotel, designed in a pyramid shape, a walk down the street will reveal an erupting volcano and dancing fountains, while inside the resorts are all kinds of oddities and entertainment. Many of the attractions in Las Vegas are sights such as these, which can be seen for free. Vegas is also famous for its shows. World famous singers looking to settle down turn to Las Vegas as a home base, where they perform regularly. Unique performing groups from magic to comedy and acrobatics can also be found here nightly.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Las Vegas
11 St Louis Arch
This famous "Gateway to the West" in St Louis is both symbolic and eye catching. Rising above the city, gleaming in the midday sun and illuminated at night, the arch can be seen from miles away on the otherwise flat surroundings. It was built in the early 1960s and stands in Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Park. Elevators offer transportation to the top of the arch where visitors are treated to great views out over the city and surroundings.
12 Freedom Trail in Boston
Boston's Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile walking route that leads past some of the city's most important historical attractions. A line of red bricks, inlaid in the sidewalk marks the route, making it an easy way for tourists to find their way around. Information on the trail and the sites can be found at the Visitors Center in the Boston Common, which is a good place to start your tour. Sites along the Freedom Trail include the State House, Old State House, the Old Granary Burying Ground, Old City Hall, Faneuil Hall, Paul Revere House, and many more.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Boston
13 San Antonio River Walk
San Antonio's River Walk is a beautiful location and a great place to spend some time, whether you are looking for a place to wander, enjoy a meal, or look for souvenirs. Stretching along the San Antonio River in the heart of the city, this pedestrian area is lined with restaurants and outdoor dining areas, with everything from casual to fine cuisine. Small boats meander along the river and scenic arching bridges complete the tranquil scene. Large old trees drape over the river and walkway providing shade. The River Walk also features a variety of entertainment, with occasional live music and seasonal events.
14 Glacier National Park and the Going-to-the-Sun Road
Montana's Glacier National Park offers some of the most beautiful mountain scenery in the United States. Mountains, lakes, glaciers, valleys, and waterfalls combine to form a spectacular alpine landscape. One of the best ways to truly appreciate the terrain is from the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road. This narrow road, hugging the mountain side as it winds its way up and over the 7,747 ft Logan pass, opened in 1932. Due to the elevation and climate, the road is only open during the summer months. Visitors who have the opportunity to visit the park will not want to miss a chance to see the sights along this road. Glacier National Park also has some unique historic lodges and lovely hiking trails.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Glacier National Park