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There is nothing worse than feeling like a tourist in your own country. But let’s be honest: the most popular tourist attractions in the US are popular for a reason! We should all visit them eventually, and what better time than when a global pandemic limits international travel?
Whatever your interest, we’ve got incredible art, historic architecture and monuments, must-see neighborhoods, unusual landmarks, and breathtaking national parks. Take a look at the top places to visit in the USA for more travel inspiration.
1. The Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee
The Great Smoky Mountains lie on the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. Because of its massive size and its incredible scenery, it is the most popular park in the entire country.
In addition to hiking through old-growth forests, visitors can spot hundreds of species of birds in the two visitor centers. You can also hike through trails to waterfalls at Laurel Falls and view the scenery at Clingman’s Dome.
In addition to the natural beauty, the towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge offer a variety of tourist attractions as well. From fun-filled activities like waterparks, mini-golf, and go-karts, to outdoor activities like rafting, hiking in the mountains, and zip lines, there are over forty Pigeon Forge attractions that make this place the leading family-friendly tourist attraction. Whereas, in Gatlinburg, you can enjoy dinner shows, golf clubs, arcade shows, and nature.
2. National Mall in Washington DC
With over 1,000 acres of monuments, sites, and green space to explore, the National Park Service immaculately keeps the National Mall and Memorial Parks. There is no building in the city taller than the Washington Monument. Still, other monuments like the Lincoln Memorial, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial, and Martin Luther King Jr. Monument are equally impressive. Taking a stroll on the National Mall will take at least a day (or two), but be sure to also take in some of the city’s top museums.
3. Niagara Falls in New York State
The three waterfalls (Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridalveil Falls) on the U.S.-Canada border have the highest combined flow rate and force of any waterfall in the world. Since the 19th century, Niagara Falls has been a top tourist destination for its unbeatable beauty and charm.
4. Mount Rushmore
One of the most recognizable landmarks in the United States is Mount Rushmore, a national memorial in South Dakota. Built in the early twentieth century, Mount Rushmore depicts the likenesses of four former presidents in carved and blasted stone.
The museum displays life-size statues of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. From the Presidential Trail at the base of Mount Rushmore, it is more interesting to view the monument.
5. The French Quarter in New Orleans
New Orleans’ oldest district remains its most charming feature, with live music, a thriving nightlife, and delicious food on Bourbon Street. If you are visiting the French Quarter, don’t miss out on Cajun cuisine or the Cities of the Dead. You should pay close attention to the architecture as you ride a streetcar between destinations.
6. The Venice Beach in LA
A visit to Venice Beach is not complete without a stop in Los Angeles. Venice Beach’s canals and beaches are beautiful, but the Venice Beach Boardwalk is the area’s biggest attraction. Street performers entertain passersby with juggling, dancing, sculpting, and performing; it is a real treat for the passersby.
Take a stroll on the boardwalk and pick up some souvenirs, a cool drink, and small bills. When visiting a live performance, many visitors tip a dollar or two to show their appreciation.
7. Little Havana in Miami
The former exile destination serves as a must-see destination today and a home for Cuban exiles. Take advantage of live rhumba and salsa music and sip rum-spiked Caribbean drinks while out town. Here, you will find Cuban sandwiches, Colombian arepas, Mexican tacos, and other Latin American dishes that will leave you hungry.
A picturesque place to see the bay and fleets of ships and delicious food, Fisherman’s Wharf is named for the many merchants and fishermen who lived there during the late 1800s through the 20th century. Before you explore the area’s specialty shops, order a bowl of seafood chowder made with fresh local crabmeat from one of the area’s many restaurants.
8. Messa Verde
Preserved homes of the Ancestral Pueblo people can be found in Colorado’s Mesa Verde National Park. Most of these homes date from the early 13th century, as they are carved straight into caves and rock faces.
It is possible to explore these ancient ruins today by walking beneath the overhanging cliffs. With 40 rooms accessible exclusively by ladder, the Balcony House is particularly well preserved. Across the way, the Cliff Palace is even larger, with 150 original rooms said to have housed more than 100 people.
9. Kennedy Space Center
Cap Canaveral, located on the coast of Florida, is home to many space attractions. A suitable example is Kennedy Space Center, which has hosted the U.S. human space flight since 1968 and presently launches unmanned rockets.
The museum can provide visitors with a look into the early days of space exploration and a sense of the tension and excitement surrounding the moon landing. You can even participate in an experience that simulates the flight into space, the Shuttle Launch Experience.
10. J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles
Visitors from all over the country and around the world are drawn to California thanks to the many tourist attractions that make it one of the best. The $1 billion facility features modern pavilions comprised of travertine and white metal designed by internationally-known architect Richard Meier. The collection is among the most exciting globally, featuring medieval manuscripts, Monet and Van Gogh paintings, etc.
11. Statue of Liberty in New York
Despite her French heritage, the Statue of Liberty has come to symbolize America and the country’s most cherished values. A copper monument stands 151 feet tall and is visible from the Staten Island Ferry, although you can get up close when you step into the monument. It is open for tours, and people can pay their respects in person.
12. Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park
This geyser in Yellowstone National Park is no longer as predictable as it once was (it no longer erupts exactly every 74 minutes, for example), but it has been a highlight since the park opened in 1872. When the geothermal feature erupts, it releases more than 3,700 gallons of piping hot water. Take a full day to explore the rest of the park after you’re finished marveling at the show.
Having been immortalized in an ever-increasing number of movies, the Strip’s bright lights, bigger-than-life performers, and casinos are ingrained in our collective subconscious. You can enjoy all things entertainment and debauchery on the Strip, whether you’re trying your luck at poker or taking in a diva’s performance.
It is one of the world’s largest and most diverse countries, boasting an amazing array of tourist destinations ranging from the tall skyscrapers of New York and Chicago to the natural wonders of Yellowstone and Alaska, not to mention the beaches of California, Florida, and Hawaii. Even its smallest of towns like Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg are home to a plethora of tourist attractions that will satisfy your travel needs.