Top 25 Tourist Attractions in the USA
Dubbed the centre of the universe Times Square is a must see if you find yourself in New York. Home of the iconic NYE ball drop there are countless attractions to keep you busy whether you are old or young so set aside a full day to explore. See a play (be cautioned though that the iconic plays may require a booking way in advance), explore the artwork, indulge your sweet tooth at the M&M chocolate store or pop into the world-renowned Madame Tussauds and Ripley’s Believe it or Not. On a budget? Why not take advantage of great freebies – hug your favourite cartoon character, people watch and if you are adventurous enough see the famous Naked Cowboy. If you’re lucky you may even be able to crack a nod to a free live taping of the Tonight Show. Whichever way you slice it Times Square is a must for anyone who finds themselves in the city that never sleeps.
- Las Vegas – Nevada
An eight mile stretch of pure sensory overload the Las Vegas Strip is the proverbial heartbeat of Sin City. From musical shows to world class restaurants, a game of poker to world famous museums, the Las Vegas Strip is home to a veritable smorgasbord of opportunity. Must sees include the Las Vegas sign – a welcome mat to fun. Visit the unmistakable Pyramid which houses the Luxor Hotel and Casino and then take in the spectacular Bellagio Fountains. The Mirage Volcano and Fall of Atlantis Show are great and better yet are free of charge! For animal lovers there’s the Wildlife Habitat and for reality TV fans visit the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop – home to “Pawn Stars” since 2009. For the romantics in you take in a Gondola ride in the Venetian canals. If you find yourself in this neck of the woods it would be a sin to miss out.
For all our history buffs the National Mall and Memorial Parks is a walk-through time paying homage to America’s presidential legacies and honouring their national veterans. Well known landmarks to be found here include numerous memorials including the iconic Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Open 24 hours a day it is suggested that early evening and morning hours are the most beautiful and tranquil. If you are unsure of what to do when you get there book a guided tour with the park rangers which include fun activities including walks, runs and bikes. Also known as America’s Front Yard this attraction is the premier civic and symbolic space of the American nation.
(Unfortunately, the Washington Monument will be closed until August 2019)
If you find yourself in Orlando – it would be a crime to miss out on Disney World. A feast for all the senses whether you are a kid or simply a kid at heart – Disney World is an oasis of fun and adventure. With an array of Theme Parks, Water Parks and special destinations within the resort to visit you would be well advised to set aside a few days to explore. With new attractions being added regularly be sure to check out the website to see what’s available and what’s coming soon. For those who don’t want to leave the magic behind have a look at the various hotels within the resort and take advantage of the combination hotel and ticket packages. To avoid disappointment, make sure you have checked out the various opening and closing hours of the resort as well as the attractions within the resort as they all differ.
For our adventure seekers and nature lovers look no further than Niagara Falls. A world-famous phenomenon and natural wonder of the world Niagara Falls offers acres of amazing hiking trails and scenery as well as award winning wineries. Must sees while you are here are the stunning views from Prospect Point and the world-famous Maid of the Mist boat ride which takes you to the base of the Falls. Don’t forget to book some time at night to experience the fireworks show. If you are in search of a little knowledge don’t miss out on the special re-enactments of historical military moments (be sure to check the dates on these). For those looking for a little R&R the streets are bustling with artwork and the wine trails allow you to experience the beauty of the nature surrounding this landmark.
A mecca for outdoor lovers the Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers spectacular waterfalls, and abundance of wildflowers and wildlife as well as scenic trails. If this is your first trip your first stop should be the Sugarlands Visitor Centre – featuring extensive natural exhibits, you are also treated to a 20-minute film about the park. Once you have your bearings why not try one of the renowned trails specifically Newfound Gap Road and the number one recommendation Roaring Fork Motor Trail. Both trails require from 2 to 24 hours exploration time so plan carefully. If you are strapped for time why not pay a visit to Clingmans Dome (the highest point in Tennessee) or Cades Cove – once home to early Southern Appalachian settlers. For our more experienced hikers challenge yourself with Chimney Tops – a steep climb that rewards you with insane views.
Winning the TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice Award in 2018, the Universal Studio Island Adventure Theme Park is considered the number one Amusement Park in the world. Live some of your favourite action movies next to super heroes, beasts and magical creatures! Whether you are exploring a school of witchcraft or hiding from dinosaurs there is no doubt that this theme park should be a crucial part of any itinerary. If you are not into action and adventure there are plenty of other attractions to while away your time – try a spot of dining or take in a show. Before booking make sure to check out the website for specials and packages.
Prepare for the ultimate Hollywood experience with Universal Hollywood Studios Tour. With attractions featuring the most popular movie and TV series franchises produced finding a full day of action-packed entertainment has never been easier. Take the world-famous studio tour and you may catch a star or two on the way. Follow this up with the exciting world of Harry Potter or get your heart racing with the Jurassic World ride. For kiddies there is the DreamWorks Theatre and for mom and dad why not try the Walking Dead Attraction or King Kong experience if you dare. Book online and receive great discounts on both the Universal Express and VIP experience. For the shopaholics there is no shortage of stores to visit and explore. Before you leave why not sign up for email alerts where you will get great discounts and late breaking news.
Once a playground for Hawaiian royalty, Waikiki Beach is one of the most well-known beaches in the world. A 2 mile stretch of pristine white sand and perfect turquoise water it’s no surprise that tourists flock in huge numbers here every year. With many resorts just a stone’s throw away you can also enjoy a myriad of activities including surf competitions, hula dancing and outdoor music events. World class dining and shopping is also on offer. For those who want to learn, the surf on Waikiki Beach is known for a long and rolling break making it the ideal locations for a lesson. If you are looking for a little more adventure – look at Pearl Harbour, Hanauma Bay and Chinatown all within the wider vicinity of Waikiki Beach.
One of the most unique and spectacular tourist attractions in the United States is the Grand Canyon. Unique combinations of geologic colour and forms decorate a canyon that is 446km long, 29km wide and 1.6km deep. Depending on your preference there are many ways to explore the canyon. Explore the South, North and West Rims for three distinct experiences, take an air tour or a rafting tour or explore the canyon on foot. Whatever your flavour there is something for you. For those with small kiddies there is a tour aimed specifically for the little ones. The 3-day itinerary is the perfect way to explore this natural wonder – check it out on the website. Everyone should see the Grand Canyon at least once and why not in 2019 as they are experiencing their 100-year birthday.
SeaWorld San Diego is an animal theme park, oceanarium, outside aquarium and marine mammal park. Get close to dolphins, penguins and sharks. Experience the amazing shows featuring killer whales and playful sea lions. For a touch and feel experience visit the Explorer’s Reef or explore the numerous rides, roller coasters and water attractions situated within the park. Aimed at all ages SeaWorld is top rated and offers an unforgettable experience for those with a passion for the ocean and all its creatures. To help you out we suggest buying your tickets in advance and consider purchasing the Quick Queue and Quick Queue Premier tickets if you are visiting in the summer months. To avoid disappointment with rides we advise checking out their website to confirm height restrictions.
For art lovers worldwide the Guggenheim Museum is a must see if you find yourself in New York. The Guggenheim Museum hosts one of the most incredible collections of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, early Modern and contemporary art in the world and is one of the most recognised museums in New York. One of the most well-known features is the beautiful grand spiral but also interesting to note Men in Black, Bye Bye Birdy and When in Rome were partly filmed here. Open daily from 10AM-5.30PM and 8PM on Tuesdays and Saturdays, we advise investing in a New York Pass which will gain you free entry and allow you to skip the queue. Join a free guided tour while you are there but be advised though that certain exhibitions may require an additional fee.
Renowned for its exhibitions and scientific collections the American Museum of Natural History should be on any visitors to do list whilst in New York. From dinosaurs to outer space and everything in between this museum has something to tickle anyone’s fancy. Hosting more than 5 million visitors annually the museum is home to over 33 million specimens so plan your visit carefully. The suggested minimum visiting time is 2.5 hours. If you would like a guided tour, they are available and free of charge – if not why not take one of the self-guided tours at your own pace. Sign up for their newsletter and be the first to know about special upcoming exhibitions. Admission is a suggested donation but be aware that you will need to pay extra to visit special exhibits, the planetarium as well as the IMAX.
Arguably the most famous landmark in New York, the Statue of Liberty situated on Liberty Island represents a universal symbol of freedom and democracy. Dedicated in 1886 it was made a national monument in 1924. There are three different ticket options from entry to the grounds only to entry to the crown. It is highly advised that you book in advance to avoid disappointment as crown tickets are often booked 6 months in advance. Arriving by ferry all visitors will also gain entry to Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration included in the ticket. Ellis Island is often referred to as the Island of Hope and Tears – a place where many immigrants flocked to attain the American Dream.
If you have the time and are looking for adventure Route 66 is one of the most famous roads in the world. Hop into your car and cross 2269km of open road starting in Chicago and ending on the pristine shores of the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica California. A popular way to see the different sites in the America Route 66 currently spans 4 states (previously 8 but has been updated) Route 66 is iconic – known as America’s Highway it is said to symbolise a changing America as it allowed many people to relocate within America to change their lives and assisted in transferring the Wild West into a modern community. With many interesting and historical sights along the way Route 66 enthusiasts recommend purchasing a special map instead of relying on the Route 66 signs – these maps show where you can safely drive your car or bike. Recommended travel time is 5 -6 days.
A unique collection of museums, churches, meeting houses, burying grounds, parks and a ship – the Freedom Trail tells the tail of the American Revolution and beyond. Approximately 4KM long the trail snakes through downtown Boston and passes 16 locations significant to the history of the USA. Specific sites you can expect to see here are the Massachusetts State House, Boston Common, Benjamin Franklin statue, the site of the infamous Boston Massacre and the original resting place of Paul Revere one of Boston’s most famous historical figures. With a range of ways to experience this attraction the recommended visiting time is 2-3 hours for the walk, but we recommend setting aside a full day should you want to visit each site.
The official workplace and residence of the President of the United States since John Adams in 1800 the White House is recognized as an emblem of American democracy and is one of the most significant landmarks in DC. Encompassing 55.000 square feet the white house contains 132 rooms and was known as the Executive Mansion up until Theodore Roosevelt’s administration. Set on fire in 1812 by British soldiers in retaliation for an attack on Toronto the White has been refurbished many times since. A portrait of George Washington is the only original furnishing from the pre-fire era. Although tours are available these need to be arranged in advance through a member of the American congress.
Located atop a volcanic hotspot Yellowstone National Park offers 3.500 square miles of wilderness to explore. Featuring numerous natural wonders including dramatic canyon, gorgeous rivers, lush forests, hot springs and gushing geysers it is also the home to the world-famous Old Faithful. Must sees in the park also include the Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone Caldera and Yellowstone Lake. The minimum time needed to explore is two days although 3-4 are recommended to take in beauty in its entirety. If nature is your game, then a visit to this national park is a must.
One of Chicago’s hotspots the Navy Pier offers a haven for Chicagoland and tourists from around the world to play. A 1 km long pier on the shoreline of Lake Michigan the pier features a 200-foot Ferris Wheel and one of Chicago’s best movie theatres in the form of the IMAX. If you are a theatre fan take in a play at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre or cool down in a hot day at the famous Polk Bros Fountain. For kids and the young at heart the Funhouse Maze offers spectacular entertainment with rainbow tunnels, a laser show and mirror maze. For those that just want to relax, and chill visit the Beer Garden and take in the Chicago Skyline.
Experience 300 years’ worth of history and a one-of-a-kind culture in New Orleans. Nicknamed the Big Easy let the city’s infectious spirit capture you by exploring sites ranging from the mystical haunted New Orleans to the rich history and beautiful architecture. A must see is the famous French Quarter. Often called the Crown Jewel of New Orleans this is the oldest and most famous neighbourhood which is home to Bourbon Street. For a novel way to see the city hop onto a local streetcar with its vintage wooden seats and rumbling sounds. If you find your way to New Orleans in late winter be sure to check out Mardi Gras the famous raucous costumed parade. If you are looking for round the clock nightlife, vibrant music and fantastic cuisine don’t miss out on this American gem.
Known as the destination for fishing, boating, snorkelling and scuba diving Florida Keys is a string of tropical islands stretching 193km. There is plenty of exciting history here thanks to the pirates who used to call the Keys home. Top attractions in the Keys include the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, Dry Tortugas National Park (steeped in history) and African Queen Canal Cruise. For the animal lovers out their pop into the Turtle Hospital, visit the Theatre of the Sea or cruise through the Kew West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. For a bit of romance be sure to check out the sunset at Mallory Square and experience the party known as Sunset Celebration. For fun in the sun the Keys will be hard to beat.
Where rockets launch and inspiration begins, the Kennedy Space Centre is Florida’s gateway to all things space. Touch a moon rock, meet a real NASA astronaut and get a close view of a real Saturn V moon rocket. This centre is also the only place in the world where you can see the real space shuttle Atlantis. If you are looking to be inspired take a walk through the heroes and legends exhibit and after hop on one of the bus tours which will escort you directly to historic launch sites and working space flight facilities. Opening at 9AM every day you will need to set aside a full day to make the most of your visit.
Immortalised in film, Mount Rushmore is not only one of the most recognisable landmarks in the world it is also one of the most stunning works of art on the planet. A national memorial immortalising US Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt this site also offers a range of outdoor adventures, educational opportunities, rich history and family friendly attractions. For the adrenaline lovers try the UTV riding opportunities and action-packed snowmobiling (season dependant). For a real adventure mosey on down Iron Mountain Road to experience narrow tunnels and spiraling pigtail bridges. Mount Rushmore certainly offers a feast for the senses and is more than faces on a mountain.
An archaeological wonder the Mesa Verde National Park was established in 1906 to preserve and interpret the heritage of the Ancestral Pueblo people. The park protects 5000 known archaeological sites including 600 cliff dwellings. Open all year round one of the more exciting features is the Cliff Palace – the largest cliff dwelling in North America. We also recommend exploring the Sun Point Overlook on the Mesa Top Loop Road for exquisite canyon views as well as taking a walk along the Petroglyph Point Trail to check out the many rock carvings. For the less adventurous check out the Chapin Mesa Archaeological Museum featuring exhibits on ancient Native American culture.
Once called the bridge that couldn’t be built the Golden Gate bridge is one of today’s seven wonders of the modern world. Built in order to connect San Francisco to its Northern neighbours’ brave crews worked in dangerous conditions in order to complete this marvel. Over 10 years of planning and 4 years of construction made the bridge possible at a cost of 39 million dollars and unfortunately 11 workers lives. Unmistakably orange the bridge spans 2.7kms, is 0.2kms high and was opened in 1937. If you are interested in the history of the bridge, there are free walking Bridge tours offered twice weekly.