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The 15 best attractions in the USA

From monuments to natural wonders, landmarks and historical neighborhoods, here are the best attractions in the USA

By Tolly Wright |
J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, California
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Aitor Aguirregabiria

From the best art museums in America to the best national parks in the U.S., Americans clearly know a thing or two about monuments and historical landmarks. Consult our guide to the best attractions in the USA whenever you have friends visiting from out of town or when embarking on a cross-country trip with your family and stop by natural wonders and neighborhoods that will remind you of the beauty of America. Of course, book yourself a room at one of the best hotels in America while planning your trip.

Best attractions in the USA

National Gallery
Photograph: Shutterstock/Erika Cross
Attractions, Public spaces

National Mall in Washington, D.C.

icon-location-pin National Mall

Immaculately maintained by the National Park Service, the National Mall and Memorial Parks feature over 1,000 acres of must-see monuments, sites and green space. While the Washington Monument towers above all else—quite literally, the city doesn’t zone for buildings taller than the marble icon—the Lincoln Memorial, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial and Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial are just as magnificent. Though it will take a full day (or two) to see the National Mall and Memorial Parks, make sure to set aside some time to peruse through some of the city’s top (and, in many cases, free) museums as well.

Niagara Falls in New York
Photograph: Shutterstock

Niagara Falls in New York

Situated on the border of New York and Canada, the three water falls (Horseshoe Falls, American Falls and Bridalveil Falls) have the combined highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world and their impressive force is nothing short of awe-worthy. A top tourist destination since the 19th century, Niagara Falls’ unstoppable beauty and charm make it a memorably unique landmark.

Kennedy Space Center
Photograph: Shutterstock
Museums, Science and technology

Kennedy Space Center in Orlando, Florida

When you get to sunny Orlando, skip the amusement parks (or at least save them for another day) and bring your family to the Kennedy Center instead. If you’ve always dreamed of working in outer space, this is your chance to see and touch models of space shuttles, rockets, satellites, tools and mission control rooms. The simulators and explorable modules will make you feel like a true astronaut—though if you wonder just how much the experience compares to the real deal, you can opt to meet one of those brave scientists in person at the Astronaut Encounter Theater.

Photograph: Jena Cumbo
Attractions, Monuments and memorials

Statue of Liberty in New York, New York

icon-location-pin Liberty Island

Though she may have been born in France, the Statue of Liberty has become practically synonymous with America and the country’s highest held believes. Though the 151-feet-tall copper monument can be seen up close from aboard the free Staten Island Ferry, you can pay your respects in person and even step inside it while on an official tour.

French Quarter
Photograph: Shutterstock

The French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana

The oldest corner of New Orleans remains its most charming attraction. Walk down famous Bourbon Street to enjoy some of the best jazz, nightlife and food culture either side of the Mississippi can offer. While you travel on a streetcar between destinations, pay close attention to the spectacular architecture. No trip to the French Quarter would be complete without a taste of authentic Cajun food or a stop to pay your respects in the Cities of the Dead. Trust us.

Old Faithful
Photograph: Shutterstock

Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

A cone geyser found in Yellowstone National Park, Old Faithful is not quite as predictable as it once was (it won’t erupt exactly every 74 minutes, for example) yet remains as historically exciting. When erupting, the geothermal feature unleashes over 3,700 gallons of piping hot water. When you’re done marveling at the spectacle, spend at least a full day exploring the rest of the park.

The Gateway Arch
Photograph: Shutterstock
Things to do, Walks and tours

The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri

icon-location-pin Downtown

Not only is St. Louis’s premiere attraction the world’s largest arch, but it is also the tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere. Standing proud at 630 feet tall, this metal beauty was built in the mid-20th century as a monument to America’s westward expansion and is meant to signify the connection of the East to the West, honoring the country’s first pioneers. To fully understand this architectural wonder, snag a ticket to the Gateway Arch Tram and ride to the top of the monument.

Las Vegas - The Strip view
Photograph: Shutterstock

Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada

Immortalized in a seemingly endless amount of movies, the Strip’s bright lights, bigger-than-life spectacular performers and the casinos are burned into our collective subconscious. Whether planning on trying your luck at poker or looking to catch a diva’s residency, the Strip is a top destination for all things entertainment and, yes, debauchery.

Alamo Mission
Photograph: Shutterstock

Alamo Mission in San Antonio, Texas

icon-location-pin Alamo District

The Alamo Mission was built in the late 1700s as a way to introduce Christianity to the Native Americans of the region and became a fortress shortly thereafter. Expect to learn all about the 300 years of history of the Lone Star State when visiting.

Things to do, Literary events

Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois

icon-location-pin Streeterville

Clearly one of the Midwest’s most popular destinations, Navy Pier is visited by roughly nine million people each year. From excellent shopping opportunities to delicious eateries and, of course, Lake Michigan, the destination offers something for everyone. The little ones will be delighted by the Chicago Children’s Museum while grown-ups should head to the award-winning Chicago Shakespeare Theater. 

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