51 Bucket List Tourist Attractions in America from 51 Bucket List Tourist Attractions in America
51 Bucket List Tourist Attractions in America
There is a lot of talk about the importance of traveling and getting to know the world. But the U.S. has many can’t-miss destinations that are full of history, culture and beauty. Explore locations that arouse the colorful American experience. Nearly 4 out of 5 domestic trips – that is 79 percent – are taken are for leisure purposes, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Since you are already traveling in the country and spending money, why not explore new destinations and get to know your homeland?
Big Sur, California
This is a weekend getaway destination worth every effort. The rocky stretch of California’s central coast between Carmel and San Simeon is a stunning place to visit. Make it a part of a once in a lifetime road trip if you have an extra day. Drive Big Sur’s length via twisting Highway One. The Bixby Bridge is a favorite spot for photos. Stay at Post Ranch Inn or Treebones resort for glamping, and run the Big Sur River Run, one of the most beautiful 10k races in the world.
Rocky steps in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Run the 72 stone steps before the entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art just like Rocky did in the Oscar winning film. This is definitely among the most famous scenes in cinema’s history. The Rocky statue is deservedly one of Philadelphia's biggest tourist attractions. The bronze statue was commissioned by Sylvester Stallone himself.
French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana
There’s a lot that comes to mind upon mention of New Orleans—Jazz music, parades, and, of course, the French Quarter. You won’t make a mistake booking a trip there. The neighborhood is a destination unlike any other, steeped in history, famous fare and good times. Bourbon Street is always worth a stroll and take one of the amazing ghost tours that winds through bars, alleyways, and cemeteries. There is plenty to do besides eating and drinking.
The Grand Canyon, Arizona
The national park is consistently among the most visited in the country. Whitewater and smoothwater raft trips are a must-do in the Grand Canyon, a natural feature big enough to be seen from space. Hike the (dangerous) Bright Angel Trail, which leads hikers from the south rim down to the Colorado River, over the course of 9.5 miles. Visit the Grand Canyon Village for the best lodging options and take a bike tour to see the Grand Canyon on two wheels.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Ohio
Receive the gift of rock. Go on a legendary music tour and experience the magic of rock and roll music. Make sure you have at least 5-6 hours to spare to go through the many areas and see the stunning displays that are a nice mixture of things to see and read. You’ll want to visit every year.
Road trip along Route 66
Driving along the legendary 2,400 miles from Chicago to Santa Monica is one of the craziest adventures you can do. The historic route has been featured in countless TV shows, music, movies. Many places still keep the original two-lane highway. Stop by Pontiac and visit the Route 66 Association Hall of Fame & Museum. Along the way you’ll also find stunning panoramas, charming towns, rocky cliffs, and beautiful deserts and parks. If you really want to see what it’s like to be “alone” on the road, go west from Kingman past the saguaro cacti and loose boulders. You’ll get to Oatman, an old gold-mining town. Don’t forget to visit the Meteor Crater in Arizona, which is 50,000 years old.
The Golden Gate Bridge, California
This is definitely one of the most famous, and most gorgeous, bridges in the world. Walking across this bridge is on, or should be on, the Great American Bucket List. The suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate strait between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean is an iconic U.S. landmark. The name is even protected by Streets and Highway Code.
Niagara Falls, New York
Did you know that you can actually get paid to live the city near the falls? Even if you choose not to, visiting should be a must-do. Formed by receding glaciers, the Niagara Falls, which link the international border between the U.S. and Canada, is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world. It consists of three waterfalls: The Horseshoe Falls (the most powerful waterfall in North America), the American Falls, and the Bridal Veil Falls. The falls are located on the Niagara River and they have a combined fall with the highest flow rate of all of the world’s waterfalls.
Disney World, Florida
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Walt Disney World is where magic happens. It’s mind-blowing how many parks you get to explore. A week will not be enough. Start with thrilling rides like the Space Mountain; then bring your kids to lunch with their favorite characters. Visit Animal Kingdom and go on the Kilimanjaro Safari. Still, Disney vacations are expensive, and the last thing you want to do is get in trouble for breaking important rules or spend even more money for attractions or meals because you didn’t pay attention. Here is what never to do at the park.
Bourbon Trail, Kentucky
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This is strictly for 21+ admirers and anyone who would like to know more about this unique American beverage. Explore the bourbon capital of the world – Kentucky. You can make this trip, a perfect guy’s getaway, as long as possible, depending on how many distilleries you visit. You will get an idea of the scientific process behind making this native to America spirit while also enjoying the stunning setting in the Bluegrass State. There are plenty of other bourbon experiences in Louisville, Lawrenceburg, Bardstown or Clermont. Some even offer classes on how to make your own bourbon.
National Mall, Washington, D.C.
The National Mall is the heart of the nation’s capital and of the entire country. It is where the nation celebrates, honors and demonstrates its commitment to democracy. The National Mall is accompanied by impressive structures, monuments and memorials.
New River Gorge Bridge, West Virginia
New River Gorge Bridge, which is 876 feet tall, has been the most popular and insane BASE jumping spot in the country every year in October since 1980. This year’s Bridge Day is on October 21. This is the only day you’re allowed to leap off the bridge. Go there and see jumpers leaping more than 800 feet into the New River Gorge below. Rappelling, skydiving, and more adventures abound.
Times Square, New York City
Times Square is one of the best and most visited attractions in New York; seeing it once is enough. Tourists can enjoy delicious foods from famous restaurants, shopping in countless shops and watching plays and musicals. But visit at night for one of the most magnificent Times Square experiences; simply look around you and admire the city’s lights.
Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park
If you’re in Hawaii find time to visit Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. It offers a chance to see two of the world’s most active volcanoes as well as an opportunity to hike over 100 miles of trails and bike through deserts and rain forests. Visit the beautiful Holei Sea Arch, explore the Thurston Lava tube, check out the Thomas A. Jagger Museum, and gather together for “After Dark in the Park.”
Central Park, New York
Few outdoor destinations in the world are as classic and iconic as Central Park. Tourists love it for its year-round beauty. Regardless of the season, there is always something spectacular to photograph. Enjoy ice skating in the winter and boating in the summer. The park is among the best locations in the entire U.S. for leaf-peeping in the fall.
El Capitan, Yosemite National Park, California
El Capitan, the largest monolith of granite in the world, is possibly the most famous location for camping thousands of feet in the air. Climbing it is one of the best active adventures in the U.S. It’s an approximately 3,000-foot-tall granite cliff that rises above the valley floor. The Dawn Wall is widely considered one of the toughest ascents in the entire world.
Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
Crater Lake, Oregon
Crater Lake, one of the most spectacular lakes in the world, is the deepest in the U.S. with a measured depth of 1,949 feet. The water is so blue because there is hardly anything else in it - just water, according to the NPS. Boat tours, swimming, fishing, ranger talks, evening programs, camping, and other activities are offered. Explore old-growth forests or wildflower meadows, and climb mountains for great views of the lake.
The Everglades, Florida
The Everglades is a major reason why Florida is hotter than ever. The park made the Top 4 in the best national parks ranking last year. There is a lot more to do in the largest subtropical wilderness in the country. The park is astoundingly diverse which is amazing considering there is rarely ever a change in altitude. You can see certain places only by kayak, wildlife is like nowhere else, and it’s perfect for paddling and camping. You can’t just take a boat tour to view crocodiles and dolphins anywhere or go hiking with the chance to see turtles and alligators along the way.
Broadway, New York
Go to the TKTS booth at Times Square to buy same-day discounted performance tickets. Don’t expect to get Hamilton tickets, though. But do see a show. Broadway shows are essentially tantamount to New York City, often used as shorthand for theater itself. This is where the best dancers, singers and actors always dream of performing.
The Kansas Underground Salt Museum (Strataca)
Go on a salt safari and learn about the importance of preserving and presenting the Hutchinson salt story to the public. It is an hour long ride through tunnels mined in the 1950's. Learn about the geology and structure of the mine. One of the largest in the world, the extent of the bedded salt deposit is 27,000 square miles. The purest portion of the salt vein is 650 feet underground and is still mined here today.
The Mississippi River
Explore the most famous river in the U.S. on a cruise and see why it’s one of the world’s major river systems in size, habitat diversity and biological productivity, according to NPS. Go on a historical and cultural trip through Mississippi and Ohio aboard two paddle wheeler river boats. Voyages vary wildly and some include going from Memphis to Nashville on a ship. The Mighty Mississippi is also on the list of the most dangerous swims in the world.
This is perhaps the most recognizable symbol in the U.S. It represents the entertainment business. Hollywood lures tourists with landmarks like star-studded Hollywood Walk of Fame. Highlights include Paramount Pictures, historic music venues like the Hollywood Bowl, and Dolby Theatre, home of the Oscars.
Atlantic City’s Boardwalk, New Jersey
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This is by far one of the best boardwalks in the entire country. It is also among the most well-known beach attractions in the entire state. It has been an American icon since 1870s. Solo travelers, couple and families will find lots of fun along boardwalk, which is awash with shops, five-star restaurants, casinos, attractions and great shows.
Coney Island, New York
Coney Island is a world-famous, classic entertainment area in Brooklyn, with several small amusement parks with more than 50 separate rides and attractions. Make sure you go on the Cyclone roller coaster and explore the Luna Park. The iconic Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, which 15 is stories high and carries 144 people at a time, is a must-do when you visit. The design has been replicated full-size at Disney’s California Adventure and at Dreamland in Japan.
Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee
The 1.8 miles are a significant stretch in the city's history, is the known as the “official home of the blues.” Back in the 20’s, the flourishing nightclubs, theaters, restaurants prospered alongside gambling, drinking, crime and voodoo. Enjoy the vibe and dance your heart out. See a Memphis jug band, Memphis blues or W.C. Handy Blues.
The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina
George Vanderbilt’s 8,000-acre estate, nestled in the mountains of Asheville, is known as America’s largest home. The original plans in 1900 to create an inn never materialized while he was alive. The dream was finally realized with The Inn on Biltmore Estate, which offers guests a personal taste of Vanderbilt hospitality. It costs about $500 a night.
The White Horse Tavern, Rhode Island
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This is America’s oldest tavern; it opened in 1673, back when the U.S. was a boisterous collection of English colonies. Back then taverns played an important role. The White Horse was a regular haunt for Colonists, British soldiers, Hessian mercenaries, pirates, sailors, founding fathers and all manner of early American folk.
Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia
Williamsburg forms the “Historic Triangle” together with Jamestown and Yorktown. Spend the day visiting Colonial Williamsburg. It is not just a reenactment site. It’s a 300-acre historic area that attracts about a million visitors per year. Tour the blacksmith shop, let the kids play Revolutionary Era games, and watch live moments in America’s past. It also makes for a popular RV spot — and there are lots of places to park.
Ice caves, Apostle Island National Park, Wisconsin
They are located at the western end of the Mainland Unit of the park, in far northern Bayfield County. By February, an ice bridge may have formed to connect Sand Island to the mainland, according to the NPS. The lake surface is usually a frozen white expanse, which is a stunning view in itself. A dreamland of needlelike ice columns forms inside and they change every day.
World’s largest rodeo, Wyoming
Catch a rodeo at Cheyenne Frontier Days, the world’s largest outdoor rodeo. The city has been known for decades as the prime location for railroading and rodeo-ing in the country. There are also many steam engines and working dude ranches to check out. Every Friday night, during summer, small towns are lit up with the excitement of rodeo arenas, according to Travel Wyoming.
Alcatraz Island offers a close-up look at the site of the first lighthouse built fort on the West Coast, the infamous federal penitentiary long off-limits to the public, and the history making 18 month occupation by Indians of All Tribes, according to NPS. Rich in history, there is also a natural side to the Rock—gardens, tide pools, bird colonies, and bay views beyond compare.
Waikiki Beach, Hawaii
Waikiki Beach is one of the most famous beaches in Hawaii. It’s a two-mile stretch of gorgeous white sand with eight different sections. Go canoeing, surfing, swimming, kayaking, or boogie boarding, or just relax on the beach and reap the benefits of the sun. Also enjoy the many hotels, beach bars, gift shops, and restaurants nearby.
South Beach, Miami, Florida
If you have seen any Spring Break movies or reality shows you’d know that this is one of the hottest places on this planet. Everything there is world-class – hotels, beaches, art galleries, bars, weather, water, celebrations, nightclubs…you name it. It is also a stunning place for water sports such as sailing, swimming, surfing, diving and even kite surfing. The excitement there never stops.
Brooklyn Bridge, New York
This is one of the oldest and most iconic bridges in the country. It was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1964. The Brooklyn Bridge is approximately 5,989 feet long, built from 1869 to 1883. Walking and biking along this bridge are favorite tourist activities. See spectacular skyline views, especially during sunset.
Michigan's Upper Peninsula
The incredible preserved land and friendly locals are one of the very best (and often overlooked) outdoor adventure destinations in the U.S. This natural beauty in northern Michigan has 1,700 miles of shoreline on three Great Lakes, and that’s just the beginning of its outdoor offerings. On top of all the water sports you could enjoy on lakes Superior, Huron and Michigan, the UP also has expansive forests, mountains, lakes, streams, waterfalls, beaches, bluffs and islands nearby.
Trams in San Francisco, California
The cable car system is a famous attraction in the city. The cable cars are a historic symbol recognized all over the world. They offer real working transportation up the steep hills of the city as they start running every 10 minutes starting at 6 a.m. until midnight. For the best views, you want to be on the side that faces the bay.
Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts
Walk the 2.5-mile long Freedom Trail in Boston and visit more than 15 colonial sites in this historic small state. Visit the museums and meetinghouses, see the old churches and burying grounds as well as the ship and historic markets. Learn about the rich history of the American Revolution; every step has a different story.
Ellis Island, New York
The Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration, located in the Main Building of the former immigration station complex, tells the stories of the 12 million immigrants who came to America through the golden door of Ellis Island, according to the Liberty Ellis Foundation. Today, the descendants of those immigrants account for almost half of the American people.
Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
The park’s hydrothermal systems are among the most mysterious places on Earth. The iconic geyser erupts every 90 minutes, on average, like clockwork and lasts for up to five minutes. The eruptions reach as high as 130 feet, clearing 180 feet. One way to see the geyser’s power is to join the crowds of tourists. Another is to go to the less crowded place in the dining room of the nearby Old Faithful Inn. The thrill-seekers may want to consider the mile-long hike out to Observation Point for a bird's-eye view of the Upper Geyser Basin.
Santa Monica Pier, California
The Pier is an essential part of the city and its history. It was the first concrete pier on the West Coast. Families love it because there are tons of friendly activities for the kids, adults like it because of the world-class restaurants and shops. The views are breathtaking, and the nightlife is bustling. Top for those of you who like fishing: You don’t need a fishing license to drop a line off the Pier.
Bryce Canyon Amphitheater, Utah
This is by far the most visited section of Bryce Canyon National Park. It contains many of the most famous structures in the park. The Amphitheater is one of a series of “breaks” eroded into the eastern slope of the Paunsaugunt Plateau, according to Utah.com. Over millions of years, softer spots have eroded away. Harder rock has remained and has been chiseled by wind and water into interesting shapes – the cliffs, hoodoos and castles that make Bryce famous.
Gateway Arch, Missouri
Located in St. Louis, Missouri, the Gateway Arch is the tallest manmade monument in the U.S. Many people don’t know that it has a hidden time capsule that contains signatures and items of approximately 736,000 local residents.
Space Center, Houston, Texas
The 250,000-square-foot educational complex is a leading science and space learning center and the getaway to NASA Johnson Space Center. It is one of Houston’s top attractions, and the area’s No. 1 attraction for international visitors. It is also the first Smithsonian Affiliate in the greater Houston area. The center features more than 400 space artifacts, permanent and traveling exhibits, attractions and theaters.
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
Take the family on a historical tour to Pearl Harbor in Oahu. Learn about the devastating attack that marked the country’s entrance into World War Two. Pearl Harbor Tours are available daily and all tours include a trip to the USS Arizona Memorial and round trip transportation.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
The Met is the largest art museum in the country. Enjoy everything from exhibition tours and gallery talks to immersive performances and family festivals. Tip: You don’t have to pay the $25 admission fee. This is only a suggested price; you can give them a buck and still get in. It’s a cheap date, at the very least.
Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee
The 13.8-acre estate in Memphis was owned by Elvis Presley. It is now an all-new 200,000 square foot entertainment complex featuring new museums, restaurants, gift shops and more. As the “Ultimate Rock ‘n’ Roll Destination,” at Graceland you can fully immerse yourself in the King of Rock’s life and career. Experience his roots, his influences and artistry.
Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C.
You can’t go to Washington, D.C. without visiting some of its outstanding museums. If you have little time, make sure to at least see the Lincoln Memorial, arguable one of the most recognizable landmarks in the entire country. It was built to resemble a Greek temple. It has 36 Doric columns, one for each state at the time of Lincoln’s death.
Mardi Gras, New Orleans
Experience the ultimate excitement and adventure of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Participate in the festivals, join in on the parades and even take a city tour. Mardi Gras 2018 is Tuesday, February 13. The earliest reference to Mardi Gras "Carnival" appears in a 1781 report to the Spanish colonial governing body. That year, the Perseverance Benevolent & Mutual Aid Association was the first of hundreds of clubs and carnival organizations formed in New Orleans.
Milwaukee is famous for being the city that beer built, according to Visit Milwaukee. You can go on many different beer tours to understand why and taste some of the best beer in the country. Drink beer, be entertained and see the breweries. The Lakefront Brewery tour is ranked by Trip Advisor as the fourth best brewery tour in the nation. You’ll find Milwaukee’s German heritage and a modern twist on old-world brewing tradition at Sprecher Brewing Company, including a tasting in their Munich-style beer garden.