The United States is an amazing tourist destination, but only some realize how much there is to see and do. With this list, we hope to spark some interest in some of the country’s incredible places. This coming summer might be the perfect time to start exploring.
Acadia National Park: A Hidden Gem in Maine
Acadia National Park in Maine is a national park that not many people talk about, but it’s definitely worth visiting. It’s the fifth smallest national park in the United States, but it’s still a nice place to visit. With beautiful scenery and outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and camping, it’s perfect for those who want to get away from crowds and enjoy nature.
The Lincoln Memorial: A Monument Honoring a Great President
The Lincoln Memorial is a monument honoring the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. It’s located in Washington, D.C., and was dedicated in 1922. The memorial is made of marble and features a statue of Lincoln sitting in a chair. It’s a great place to visit and learn about the history of the United States.
The Statue of Liberty: The Symbol of Freedom & Opportunity
The Statue of Liberty is known as a symbol of freedom and opportunity. It’s located on Liberty Island in New York Harbor and was a gift from France in 1886. Visitors can take a ferry to Liberty Island and climb to the top of the statue for a breathtaking view of the city.
Mount Rushmore: A Monument to American History
Mount Rushmore is a monument to American history. It’s located in South Dakota and features the faces of four of the most famous presidents in American history: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. It’s a great place to visit and learn about American history and the significance of these presidents.
The Grand Canyon in Arizona
The Grand Canyon is a majestic 277-mile-long canyon with the Colorado River flowing in the center of it. It’s a sight to behold and a must-see for anyone visiting the United States.
Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks in California
Sequoia National Park is America’s second oldest national park and was established on September 25th, 1890. King’s Canyon was established in 1940, and the two parks are located side by side east of Fresno.
Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming
Devils Tower stands 1267 feet tall and is located in the northwest corner of the Black Hills. It was declared a monument by Teddy Roosevelt in 1906.
Pearl Harbor’s National Memorial in Hawaii
Everybody knows that Pearl Harbor was the site of a surprise attack by the Japanese during World War II, and it was one of the worst attacks the nation has ever seen. Visitors can still see oil oozing from the engine rooms of the sunken ships.
Explore the Beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park
Located in Colorado, the Rocky Mountain National Park is a must-see destination for nature enthusiasts. This is a good place to start if you’ve never seen the Rocky Mountains. With an average altitude of 8,000 feet, the mountain range stretches 3,000 miles and covers six states. Visitors can hike, camp, and take in the park’s stunning views.
The Wave: A Photographer’s Dream in Arizona
The Wave is a rock formation (sandstone) located in Arizona, near its border with Utah. The Wave is so well known amongst hikers and photographers that they have to limit the number of people that go there. They have a daily lottery system used to dispense only ten next-day permits in person and ten online permits, so basically 20 people a day get to go and check this out with a guide.
The Iowa State Fair: The Single Largest Event in Iowa
The very first Iowa State Fair was held in Fairfield, Iowa, between October 15 and 17, 1854. It’s the single most significant event in the state of Iowa, and they get a million people a year from all over the world to come to see this fair. Even though it is in Iowa, of all places, it is definitely worth visiting.
Discover the Charm of New Orleans
New Orleans is a city with a rich history and culture. If you watch this channel long enough, you know that I always say to go visit New Orleans, stay in the French Quarter, be careful, and don’t go too far out. The French Quarter is definitely something you want to see, and New Orleans in general is a nice place to visit. Just be aware of where you’re going. New Orleans was founded in 1718, and the first community was just a trading camp on the curving east-side bank of the Mississippi River.
Salem: The City of Witch Trials
Salem was a city famous for burning locals when they thought they were witches back in 1692. This was a big thing as a kid, and I was scared about it after watching too many movies about it. But the burning didn’t stop there, the actual entire city was burnt in 1914. Despite its dark history, Salem offers plenty of historical sites and museums to explore, making it a unique destination to visit.
The San Diego Zoo in California
The San Diego Zoo is home to 3,700 animals and more than 650 species. It’s a great zoo and is worth a visit.
The International Spy Museum
The International Spy Museum is exactly what it’s called: a spy museum. It’s very interesting and is a must-see for anyone interested in espionage.
Experience the rich history of 18th-century America in the charming and picturesque town of Williamsburg, once the colonial capital of Virginia. Known worldwide for its meticulous restoration efforts and immersive re-creations, Williamsburg offers visitors the unique opportunity to go back in time and witness the grandeur and elegance of colonial life.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland, Ohio
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum opened on September 2nd, 1995, and is dedicated to preserving the history of rock and roll music. It’s a must-see for any music lover.
Biscayne National Park in Florida
Biscayne National Park is one of the least crowded sites managed by the National Park Service. It covers a total of 172,000 acres, and 95% of the park is underwater.
The Kentucky Derby
The Kentucky Derby is a famous horse race that takes place in Louisville, Kentucky. The derby is known as the “most exciting two minutes in sports” and is a major event in the horse racing world. Visitors can attend the race and enjoy the party atmosphere, with live music, food, and drinks. The fastest winner was Secretariat in 1973.
The Fort Worth Stockyards in Texas
The Fort Worth Stockyards is a historic area located in Fort Worth, Texas, just west of Dallas. It was a major center for the livestock industry in the late 1800s and early 1900s, earning the nickname “Cow Town”. Visitors can tour the stockyards, see live cattle drives, and learn about the history of the area.
White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire and Maine
White Mountain National Forest is a beautiful natural area that covers over 800,000 acres in New Hampshire and western Maine. Visitors can hike the many trails that wind through the forest, see the diverse range of wildlife and plants, and enjoy the spectacular views of the White Mountains. The forest was heavily logged in the 1800s but has since recovered and was established in 1914.
Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming
Yellowstone National Park is one of the grandest national parks in the United States. It’s a must-see for anyone visiting the area and is known for its geysers and buffalo.
The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California
The Winchester Mystery House is a weird place that’s worth reading about, but it’s better to see it in person.
The Wright Brothers National Memorial in North Carolina
The Wright Brothers National Memorial is a monument dedicated to the Wright brothers and their first flight. Many people think it was at Kitty Hawk, but it was actually at Kill Devils Hill. It’s the first federal park to have a permanent public structure, and the monument was built in 1932.
The Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts
The Plymouth Plantation is where the first band of English people, known as the Pilgrims, arrived in the New World. They landed at Plymouth Rock and set up a village to reflect how it was when they first arrived. It’s a nice place to visit and is interesting to learn about the history of the early settlers.
Niagara Falls in New York
More than eight million visitors explore Niagara Falls annually. Many people think it’s just one big waterfall, but when you get there, you’ll realize that it’s actually three waterfalls: Bridalveil Falls, Horseshoe Falls, and American Falls.
Thomas Edison National Historical Park in New Jersey
The area includes dozens of buildings that supported Thomas Edison’s research into electricity, photography, and motion pictures. It’s a great place to learn about one of America’s most famous inventors.
The Kennedy Space Center in Florida
The Kennedy Space Center is the launch site for NASA’s space shuttle program and is a must-see for anyone interested in space exploration.
The Smithsonian Institution
Discover the wonders of American history and culture at the Smithsonian Institution, a world-renowned group of museums and research centers located in the heart of Washington, D.C. Being one of the most visited museums in the world, the Smithsonian offers a vast array of exhibitions and programs that showcase the best of American art, science, and history.
The National Mall
The National Mall is a large park in the center of Washington D.C. that is home to many famous monuments and museums, including the Lincoln Memorial and the Smithsonian Institution.
The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California
The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most iconic landmarks in the United States. It’s a beautiful suspension bridge that spans the Golden Gate strait, connecting San Francisco to Marin County.
The National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City
The National September 11 Memorial and Museum is a tribute to the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It’s a powerful and emotional experience to visit the site and learn about the tragic events of that day.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee & North Carolina
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a beautiful park that spans over 500,000 acres. It’s known for its scenic drives, hiking trails, and stunning views.
The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas
The Alamo is a historical site that is known for the Battle of the Alamo, which took place in 1836. Visitors can tour the grounds and learn about the history of the Texas Revolution.
The Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, California
The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a sidewalk that features the stars of famous actors, musicians, and other celebrities. It’s a fun place to visit and to see the stars of some of your favorite celebrities.
The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri
The Gateway Arch is a monument that stands 630 feet tall and is the tallest arch in the world. It’s a great place to visit and offers visitors a beautiful view of the city from the top.
Monument Valley in Arizona and Utah
Monument Valley is known for its cluster of vast sandstone buttes, the largest reaching 300 meters (about a thousand feet) above the valley floor. This valley has been in so many movies, TV shows, and in print, it’s just ridiculous. Any western from the 1950s seems to have found their way to this. It’s a neat place to see.
Carlsbad Cavern National Park in New Mexico
Carlsbad Cavern National Park covers a total area of 46,000 acres and has 117 known caves in the park. The Big Room, as they call it in Carlsbad is an 8.2-acre cave. There are 17 species of bats you can see here.
Canyon de Chelly National Monument in Arizona
For around 5000 years, people have made their homes in these sandstone canyons. They’re often referred to as just one Canyon de Chelly, but there are actually several canyons here. Families still live here, so access is limited, and visitors must have a guided tour in most areas of this national monument. It’s very interesting.
Crater Lake National Park in Oregon
Crater Lake National Park is amazing to see. It’s one of those places, if you sit there and look at it for a while, you’ll just i don’t know it’s just it’s a weird feeling looking at this thing. If you know the backstory of it and how it was created, it’s even more impressive. First of all, it’s the deepest lake in America; it’s 1943 feet deep. The lake’s water comes directly from snow or rain, which often happens in Oregon. And there are no inlets for the lake, and there’s no like little creeks going to it or anything like that. This mountain had its top blown off in a volcanic eruption.
A Mississippi River Cruise
The Mississippi River is long enough for you to take a cruise on. It’s actually the third-longest river in the world at 2,350 miles. The cruise industry has broken this off into three sections, each section takes about a week to cruise or you can knock them all out in one big three-week trip, and it’s worth it.
Mackinaw Island in Michigan
Mackinac Island is a summer resort island in Lake Huron, located right between the upper peninsula and lower peninsula of Michigan. This is a great place to visit in the summer. Winters can be sketchy at best, it gets pretty cold there.
Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania
Gettysburg is the most famous battle of the civil war. Thousands of union and confederate soldiers clashed on some really hot July days in 1863. The park includes over 6,000 acres of land, 1,300 monuments, 400 cannons, and 140 historic buildings. Everyone knows about Gettysburg, and if you’re a history buff, you already know this is one of the must-see places on your history bucket list.
Martin Luther King National Historic Site in Atlanta, Georgia
The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site is a historic site that commemorates the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Visitors can tour the home where he was born, the church where he was a minister, and the grounds where he is buried. It’s a great place to learn about the Civil Rights movement and the life of one of America’s most significant leaders.
The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is a museum that is dedicated to preserving and promoting the cowboy and western culture. Visitors can explore the museum’s many exhibits, which include artifacts, artwork, and photographs that tell the story of the American West.
Assateague Island in Maryland
Assateague Island is a 37-mile-long barrier island facing the Atlantic Ocean on the eastern coast of the Delmarva Peninsula. The island is best known for its herd of wild horses, its pristine beaches, and cool lighthouse. The island was originally going to be made into a private resort in the 1960s, but the plan was shot down by locals who were angry about it.
The Orchard House in Concord, Massachusetts
The Orchard House is the home of Louisa May Alcott, the author of the 1868 classic novel Little Women. It is the first American woman to earn a living as a writer. The house offers open guided tours daily, except for a few different holidays, and it’s free.
Cahokia Mounds in Illinois
The Cahokia Mounds are earthen mounds built by a civilization that disappeared a couple of hundred years before Columbus ever set foot on the United States. Some of these mounds are just a couple of feet high, but some are as tall as 100 feet. The historic site sits across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, covering about 2,000 acres.
Notre Dame Stadium in Indiana
Notre Dame Stadium is the home of the Fighting Irish and is a fantastic place to see a college football game. It is considered by many to be the most historic football stadium in the country. If you’re a college football fan, this is a must-see destination.
Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota
The Mall of America has been the largest mall in the country for decades. With over 500 stores, an amusement park, and various restaurants and entertainment options, it’s a great place to spend a day shopping and exploring.
Mark Twain’s Boyhood Home and Museum in Hannibal, Missouri
Mark Twain’s Boyhood Home and Museum is the home of Samuel Clemens, better known as the author Mark Twain. He lived in the house from 1844 to 1853, and the museum offers a glimpse into his life and the inspiration for his famous works.
The Hoover Dam in Arizona and Nevada
The Hoover Dam is a massive concrete dam located on the border of Arizona and Nevada. It’s a popular tourist destination and offers tours and exhibits about the history of the dam and its construction. The dam is 726 feet tall and is a true engineering marvel.
Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio
Cedar Point Amusement Park is known as the “Roller Coaster Capital of the World” and is a must-visit destination for roller coaster enthusiasts. The park has various rides and attractions and is also home to a haunted carousel.
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin
The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is a group of 21 islands and a 12-mile stretch of coast on the mainland. It has more lighthouses than any other site in the National Park System, with nine historic lighthouses on six different islands. Visitors can hike, paddle, and boat, and there are many other activities to enjoy in this beautiful natural area.
The Art Institute of Chicago: A Cultural Hub Founded in 1879
Founded in 1879, the Art Institute of Chicago is a cultural hub that contains more than 300,000 works of art. The museum is still going strong and is a must-see for art lovers visiting the Windy City.
Wrigley Field: Home of the Chicago Cubs
Staying in Chicago? Check out Wrigley Field, the iconic baseball stadium where the Cubs play. Known for its ivy-covered brick outfield wall, the stadium was bought by giant chewing gum businessman William Wrigley Jr. in 1921. It was initially named Cubs Park before being renamed Wrigley Field in 1927. If you want to see a baseball game, this is one of the best places to do it.
American Museum of Natural History: A New York City Icon
One of the best museums this country has to offer, the American Museum of Natural History in New York City is a must-see. Opened in 1869, the museum used to be located in Central Park when the first exhibits opened in 1871. In 1964, more than $400,000 worth of jewels were stolen from the museum, making it one of the most interesting facts about the museum.
Independence National Historical Park
Philadelphia’s Independence National Historical Park is where the Constitution was debated and written, and where it was also signed. The park represents the founding ideals of the nation, and it’s also home to the Liberty Bell, a must-see attraction.
Alcatraz Island: The Infamous Federal Penitentiary
Everybody knows about Alcatraz Island, the infamous federal penitentiary in San Francisco, California. It first opened its doors on August 11, 1934, and was home to some of the most notorious criminals in American history. It’s an interesting place to visit and learn about the prison’s history and the failed escape attempts.
National Museum of the American Indian
Located in Washington D.C., the National Museum of the American Indian is a newer museum that was only opened in 1989. It houses permanent and temporary exhibits that showcase the diverse heritage and history of the North and South American Indians. This museum is the largest of its kind in the world and is worth visiting.
Denali National Park: A Natural Wonder in Alaska
Denali National Park in Alaska is one of the most beautiful places in the country. It became a national park on February 26, 1917, and is centered around Mount McKinley (also known as Denali). It’s worth visiting if you’re in the area.
Glacier National Park, Montana
Established in 1910, Glacier National Park covers over one million acres and is currently home to 26 glaciers. However, the park’s glaciers have been shrinking, down from 150 in 1850. In the park’s history, there have only been ten bear attacks, with two occurring on the same night, miles apart. Both victims were 19-year-old females, and this occurred 54 years ago on August 24th.
Las Vegas, Nevada
It’s hard to go through life without visiting Las Vegas at least once. Known for its gambling and shows, Las Vegas now offers so much more than just those activities. There are many great shows and activities to enjoy, making it a fun town for all ages.
Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
The Columbia River Gorge has formed about 40 to 60 million years ago. The Columbia River is the largest in the Pacific Northwest and the seventh in North America. The river flows from British Columbia through the state of Washington, forming much of the border between Washington and Oregon before finally reaching the Pacific Ocean near Astoria, Oregon.
Seattle Gum Wall
Since the early 1990s, people have been sticking gum on this 50-foot long wall, located outside the main entrance of Pike Place Market. In 2015, over 2,350 pounds of gum were removed, taking over 100 hours to clean. Despite the efforts, the wall is still covered in gum and continues to attract visitors.
The Fremont Troll, Seattle, Washington
Created in 1989, the Fremont Troll is a sculpture located underneath a bridge, inspired by the folklore tale of “Billy Goats Gruff.” The sculpture was created as part of an art competition to revitalize the area underneath the bridge, which had previously been a dumping ground and a place where drugs were sold.
Orca Island, Washington
Located in the northwest corner of Washington state in Puget Sound, Orca Island has a population of just over 5,000 people and is only 57 square miles. Orcas can be seen in the waters around the island all year round, but the best time to see them is during the salmon run between May and October.
Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Who hasn’t wanted to or been to Disney World or Disneyland? Walt Disney World in Orlando is so much bigger than Disneyland and was opened on October 1st, 1971 with just one park, the Magic Kingdom. Now, there are all kinds of animal parks and other attractions to enjoy, making it a once-in-a-lifetime trip for kids and adults alike.
The Puget Sound, Washington
The Puget Sound is a beautiful and diverse area, not just limited to Orca Island or Seattle. This area is mostly cold and rainy, but it’s also home to many different types of marine life and is a popular spot for boating and fishing.
Highway 101, Oregon, California, and Washington
Highway 101 is considered by many to be the most incredible road trip in the country. In the early 20th century, traveling along the Oregon coast was almost impossible unless you had a boat, as many of the small towns were not connected and had no bridges. Travelers had to go inland and return, making it a nightmare. The highway was created after World War I when Oregon voters approved the construction of bridges and roads all up the coast. California did the same thing.
Arches National Park, Utah
Arches National Park is home to more than 2,000 natural stone arches. From a distance, they may look fake, as if they were created for a sci-fi movie. However, these natural formations are a result of temperature changes, from sweltering heat to freezing to thawing rain and snow, that have shaped these arches for thousands of years. The tallest arch is the South Arch of Double Arch, which stands at 144 feet.
Taos Pueblo, New Mexico
The adobe buildings at Taos Pueblo have sheltered Native Americans for nearly a thousand years. Built with mud and straw, the pueblo today appears much as it did when Spanish explorers arrived in 1540. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in North America.
Millennium Park, Chicago, Illinois
Located in the heart of Chicago, Millennium Park opened on July 16, 2004. The 24-acre park replaced a desolate area of railroad tracks, parking lots, and homeless people, and cost $340 million more than the original budget. It’s home to the famous “Bean” sculpture, a shiny chrome installation that is a must-see for visitors to the city.
Grand Central Terminal, New York, New York
Grand Central Terminal is one of the world’s largest and busiest train terminals and a personal favorite. The terminal features chandeliers, marble floors and walls, and it opened on February 2nd, 1913. It is a beautiful building that is worth keeping for a hundred years. Inside, there’s a massive golden clock that is estimated to be worth about $20 million. Visitors can take private tours to learn about the secrets of the terminal, including hidden staircases and underground rooms.
Portland Head Light, Portland, Maine
The Portland Head Light is probably the most iconic lighthouse in the United States. It’s photographed all the time and appears on postcards of New England. George Washington commissioned the lighthouse in 1790 and it was designed to tower over the lightkeeper’s quarters in Fort Williams Park.
Diamond Head State Monument, Hawaii
Many people don’t realize that Diamond Head is not a peninsula but a crater. The military realized the strategic importance of Diamond Head and built lookout towers and bunkers at the top. Visitors can hike to the top, 560 feet above sea level, but it can be crowded, making it challenging to take that perfect selfie.
Philadelphia City Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia City Hall doesn’t look like it belongs in the United States, it looks like a 17th-century European building. It’s the largest city hall in the country and the tallest masonry-bearing building in the world. There is a lot of history in this building, and it’s definitely worth a visit.
South Beach, Florida
When you think of Miami, you think of South Beach. This is the beach in all the movies and ads – it’s the quintessential Miami experience. The art deco architecture and beautiful people make it a must-see destination. However, you may feel out of place among the younger crowd if you’re a bit older. But South Beach is the perfect place to be seen and enjoy a beautiful beach if you’re in your prime.
Times Square, New York City
Times Square is one of the first things that come to mind when you think of New York City. With over 50 million visitors every year, it’s a must-see destination for any tourist. The area has undergone a revitalization in the late 80s and early 90s and is now a clean and vibrant place to visit. Though it may be a bit touristy, it’s definitely worth a visit at least once.
Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway is a popular road trip destination located in Virginia and North Carolina. Many claim it’s the best road trip in the United States, although some prefer the scenic route along the California, Oregon, and Washington coasts. The parkway is 469 miles long and has beautiful scenery, hiking trails, and a speed limit of 45 miles per hour. It takes about 12 hours to drive without stops, but the views are worth it.
Death Valley National Park, California
California has some serious extremes, and Death Valley is one of the hottest places on Earth. The park holds the record for the hottest temperature ever recorded, with 3.4 million acres of land. Death Valley is also the second largest national park in the United States and has over a thousand miles of roads to explore. Most of them are dirt roads, but the park has a certain beauty to it. Just make sure you have a good cell phone with you, as getting stuck without the right supplies could be dangerous.
The “mother of all road trips,” Route 66 starts in Chicago, Illinois, and stretches all the way to Santa Monica, California. This route was how many people got to California in the 40s, 50s, and 60s. Along the way, there are many historic and weird things to see. While many people don’t do the entire route anymore, it’s worth doing parts of it.
The entire state of Alaska is a must-see destination. Not just Denali but the state as a whole has so much to offer. Start on the Kenai Peninsula and take a guided tour to see bears, moose, whales, lakes, glaciers, waterways, and more. Most of the state is untouched and looks much like it did a thousand years ago. Alaska has around 100,000 glaciers, and more coastline than the rest of the United States combined. It’s also the only state with a coastline on three different oceans: the Arctic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, and the Bering Sea.
We hope you enjoyed our list of top destinations in America to see before you die. Tell us in the comments how many of these places you’ve visited, what your favorite was, and if you have any other must-see destinations to add to the list. Happy traveling!
Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.