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
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
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.