10 Must Visit Tourist Attractions in the United States

For all intents and purposes, the United States
can almost be considered an entire continent in itself. This means that a person from another country
can’t come, visit for several days or a week, and say that he or she has seen what
the entire US is all about. But there are several landmarks that every
traveler needs to see before they can even begin to consider checking the US off of their
travel bucket list. Even though there are plenty to choose from,
and these are presented in no particular order, here are 10 must-visit tourist attractions
in America. 10. The Statue of Liberty As far as famous American national monuments
go, the Statue of Liberty is probably the most easily recognizable of them all. Officially known as Liberty Enlightening the
World, it was a gift from the French to the American people in 1886 – celebrating the
centenary of American Independence. It stands at a total of 305 feet tall, of
which 151 feet is the copper statue itself, while the rest is comprised of the pedestal
and foundation. Designed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste
Bartholdi, the statue is in a neoclassical style with Art Nouveau elements, and is a
representation of Libertas, the Roman goddess of liberty and personal freedom. Gustave Eiffel was responsible for the framework,
while the pedestal was designed by Richard Morris Hunt, a prominent American architect. While the statue’s construction and shipment
were paid for by the French, the building of the pedestal was left to the Americans. Nevertheless, the whole project was under
threat when the US government wasn’t able to raise sufficient funds. Luckily, Joseph Pulitzer, publisher of the
New York World newspaper, organized a drive to raise $100,000 (roughly $2.3 million today)
from readers across the country by pledging to print the name of every contributor, regardless
of the sum given – and the construction was finally finished. The site was chosen on Bedloe’s Island,
now called Liberty Island, in New York Harbor, and the statue was aligned to face towards
the southeast, thus greeting ships entering from the Atlantic Ocean. In 2016, the Statue of Liberty was able to
draw in roughly 4.5 million tourists – a number higher than in previous years. Still, this is a relatively small number compared
to other famous NYC landmarks such as Central Park or Times Square, which both draw nearly
40 million visitors annually. 9. Yellowstone National Park Covering an area of almost 3,500 square miles,
mostly in Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park is one of the most stunning and unique national
parks in the world. It’s home to a wide variety of wildlife
(many of them endangered), vast natural forests, numerous waterfalls, roughly half of the world’s
geothermal features, and two thirds of the planet’s geysers (more than 300, the most
famous being Old Faithful). The park is also one of the largest intact
ecosystems in the northern temperate regions of the Earth. When it was first discovered back in 1869,
explorers David E. Folsom and Charles W. Cook described Yellowstone Lake as “a scene of
transcendental beauty.” The two later wrote an account about their
expedition, but had trouble in selling it since most magazine editors found the stories
to be too farfetched. Nevertheless, Yellowstone became the first
ever national park in the world in 1872, even before the states it’s in were… well,
States. Another interesting fact about Yellowstone,
and the reason why it is home to so many geological features, is because it sits right on top
of one of the largest active supervolcanoes in the world. In fact, much of the park itself is the actual
caldera of this huge volcano. There is so much magma below the surface that
it’s estimated it could fill up the Grand Canyon to the brim 11 times over. Last time Yellowstone erupted was roughly
640,000 years ago, with a force 2,500 times greater than the 1980 eruption of Mount St.
Helens. Luckily, however, an eruption isn’t believed
to be happening anytime soon, even though the ground has bulged up by about 10 inches
over a seven-year timeframe. In 2016, the park drew in roughly 4.2 million
visitors, making it among the most visited natural attractions in the country. 8. Niagara Falls Now, even though they aren’t the tallest
waterfalls, Niagara Falls is definitely a sight worth seeing. Located at the border between Canada (Ontario)
and the United States (New York), Niagara Falls is the largest waterfall in terms of
volume in the US. Over 3,160 tons of water flow over the falls
every second, at a speed of 32 feet per second. There are three waterfalls in total here. The American and Bridal Veil Falls are located
on the American side of the border, and are separated by Luna Island. Some 75,750 gallons of water flow through
these two waterfalls every second. The larger Horseshoe Falls is shared by both
Canada and the US, and with the length of the brink at 2,600 feet, this waterfall sees
over 600,000 gallons of water falling every second from a height of 167 feet. Some 12,000 years ago, at the end of the last
Ice Age, the falls extended some seven miles down the river. But over time, the brink has steadily eroded
away, bringing it to its current location. Four of the five Great Lakes drain their waters
through Niagara Falls before emptying into Lake Ontario. There are two hydroelectric plants that draw
water into their reservoirs prior to the falls. Depending on the time of day and the season,
the volume of water varies considerably. The best time to visit is during the day,
in summertime, when the volume is greatest. People can admire the falls from both sides
of the border, by making use of the many observation decks, walkways, towers, as well as a boat
tour that takes you to the heavy mists of the falls themselves. Estimates point to roughly 8 or 9 million
people visiting Niagara Falls every year, but local business aren’t convinced and
believe the real number to be closer to 3 million. 7. The Las Vegas Strip Sometimes called Sin City, Las Vegas is a
must-see for every tourist visiting the US. The city saw its beginning with a group of
Mormons that established a fort there in 1855. The settlement eventually failed, but the
fort was taken over Octavius D. Gass, an American businessman and politician. Later, in 1905, Las Vegas was connected to
the Union Pacific Railroad, and in 1931 the construction on Hoover Dam began. To help draw in workers for the construction
project, as well as to help them pass the time, casinos and showgirl venues opened up
in Las Vegas’ only paved road, Fremont Street. In 1941, the first official casino was built
just outside of the city’s limits, the El Rancho Vegas resort – and the famed Las
Vegas Strip began to take shape. Notorious gangster Bugsy Siegel built the
Flamingo in 1946 and during the 1950s and ’60s, other mob-backed casinos began to
appear, like the Sahara, the Riviera, the Sands, and the New Frontier. What many don’t know is that the Strip is
not inside Las Vegas proper. It stretches for 4.2 miles south of the city
and passes through the unincorporated towns of Paradise and Winchester. The famed Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign
was built back in 1959, exactly 4.5 miles south the actual city limits. Over 39 million people visited the Las Vegas
Strip in 2017. Surveys also show that most US travelers marked
Vegas as their desired destination for 2018. The Strip has also been designated as an American
Scenic Byway, and the only one that’s enjoyable at night. It has one of the highest concentrations of
neon lights in the world, and is packed with over 75 years of extravagance, history, and
charm. 6. Independence National Historical Park When it comes to history, Philadelphia is
the city every tourist needs to see. Known as the birthplace of American democracy,
the Independence National Historical Park, located in Philadelphia’s historic center,
is said to be “America’s most historic square mile.” The park is home to the Liberty Bell Center,
Congress Hall, the New Hall Military Museum, the Bishop White House, the Graff House, the
Franklin Court, the First Bank of the United States, and Independence Hall, among other
historically-important buildings. The centerpiece of the park is Independence
Hall, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This is where both the Declaration of Independence
(1776) and the Constitution of the United States (1787) were debated and signed. Among the many other buildings in the park,
there is also the City Tavern. John Adams, the 2nd President of the United
States, called it “the most genteel tavern in America” after he was taken there by
the citizens of the city when he arrived to Philadelphia to attend the First Continental
Congress in August 1774. This history-packed hotspot draws in roughly
5 million visitors every year, and is a perfect place to immerse yourself in America’s Revolution
against the British and the founding of the nation itself. 5. Hawaii’s Volcanoes Hawaii Volcanoes National Park draws in roughly
1.5 million visitors every year. Located on the island of Hawaii, this national
park holds two of the world’s most active and easily accessible volcanoes – Mauna
Loa and Kilauea. Mauna Loa is the largest volcano on Earth
in terms of volume and area covered – 19,999 cubic miles. The summit stands at 13,680 feet above sea
level, and roughly 56,000 feet from the depressed sea floor. This makes it more than 27,000 feet higher
than Mount Everest, and the second largest sea mountain in the world after Mauna Kea,
which is on the same island and only 110 feet higher. But despite these record-breaking figures,
Kilauea is the more impressive, and rightfully so. As the youngest volcano on the island, Kilauea
has not stopped erupting since 1983, continuously spewing out lava over the landscape and creating
numerous fountains and rivers of molten rock. Unlike continental volcanoes, which usually
erupt in a devastating explosion, these island volcanoes are far less gaseous and more fluid,
thus making them much safer to admire from a safe distance. And besides the volcanoes themselves, the
park also offers a glimpse into the native flora and fauna of the isolated island, as
well as the cultural heritage of the people who’ve called it home for hundreds (and
hundreds) of years. 4. The Redwood Forests of Northern California For the many interesting things California
has to offer, almost nothing is more humbling and awe-inspiring than the redwood forests
located in the northern parts of the state. But unlike many of the other entries on this
list, these forests and the four national and state parks they encapsulate receive a
relatively small number of annual visitors – almost 1.5 million in total. Nevertheless, these huge trees have been standing
since before the Roman Empire. The Redwood National Park is also home to
Hyperion, the world’s largest living tree that we currently know about. Discovered only in 2006, this humongous coast
redwood is 379.7 feet tall, or 74 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty. Hyperion is also a relatively young tree – roughly
600 years old (or about 20 in human years). This means that it’s still growing. And it’s not the only one to reach this
gargantuan size. Other similarly-tall coast redwoods have been
discovered in the area in recent years. Thanks to their close proximity to the Pacific
Ocean, these forests have a relatively stable and pleasant climate all year round. Nevertheless, peak tourist season is during
the summer and early fall months, from June to September. Now, besides the redwood forests themselves,
the region has other natural wonders to offer. Over 40 mammal species call this area their
home, like bobcats, coyotes, black-tailed deer, mountain lions, and black bears, as
well as over 400 bird species. There are also several points that overlook
the ocean and which are prime locations for spotting migrating gray whales, especially
between the months of December and April. 3. Mesa Verde National Park Another great place to experience American
history is to look into the heritage of the Native Americans. The Mesa Verde National Park, located in the
state of Colorado, has a total area of 52,485 acres and houses over 5,000 sites, as well
as over 600 cliff dwellings. The whole area was inhabited at least as early
as 7500 BC by a group of nomadic people known as the Foothill-mountain paleoindian complex. Then, in around 1000 BC, a new culture emerged
in the region, the Basketmakers. They were then followed by the Pueblo Culture
in around 750 AD, and flourished in the region up until the end of the 13th century when
they were finally driven out by social and environmental instability. It was during their last 150 or so years in
the area that they built the many cliff dwellings that the park is most famous for. One of the largest and best preserved sites
here is the Cliff Palace – which is also the largest cave dwelling in the whole of
North America. This settlement once contained 150 rooms and
23 kivas (special rooms used for religious rituals and political meetings). At its height, Cliff Palace was able to house
over 100 people – something which doesn’t sound like much, but given its location and
the fact that most other cliff dwellings contain only one to five rooms, that’s definitely
a lot. Based on its size, the Cliff Palace is believed
to have held an important social and administrative significance for the Puebloans before they
were forced out of the area altogether. Every year, over half a million people visit
the park and admire these unique structural marvels of pre-Colombian America. 2. The Grand Canyon No list of this kind could ever be complete
without the Grand Canyon. It’s nearly impossible for someone to visit
this incredible geological feature and not stand in awe at its sheer size. Anyone with any sense of wonder about the
world cannot help but feel a little overwhelmed by the power of nature presented here. For over 6 million years, the Colorado River
and its tributaries have carved their way through the rock, deepening and widening the
canyon to its current proportions. Today, the Grand Canyon measures some 277
river miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep, exposing nearly 2 billion years
of geological history in its sides. Native Americans have been living in the area
for thousands of years, even building settlements within it and in its many caves. The first Europeans to see it were the Spanish
during the 1540s. The first pioneers here were prospectors looking
to mine copper during the 1880s, but they soon realized that tourism was a better alternative. In its first year after becoming a national
park in 1919, the Grand Canyon received roughly 44,000 visitors. In 2016, than number was closer to 6 million
people. 1. Route 66 Established back in 1926, US Route 66 was
the Main Street of America. Also known as the Will Rogers Highway or the
Mother Road, Route 66 used to connect Chicago, Illinois and Santa Monica, California. Covering a total of 2,448 miles, this road
passed through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, as well as
the two other states mentioned, and was the main path used by the people who migrated
west, especially during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Route 66 also supported a thriving economy
for the communities it passed through, and harbored much of the country’s distinct
style. Among these we have the iconic American gas
stations, motels, bars, diners, entertainment venues, and much more. But as all good things inevitably come to
an end, so did Route 66. With the arrival of the new Interstate Highway
System, much of the historic route was being bypassed. By 1985, the entire route was replaced. Nevertheless, conservation efforts since then
have revived certain portions of the route. Parts of it have also been included in America’s
Scenic Byways project, and considered to be an All-American Road. In more recent years, a preservation program
has been initiated, aiming to salvage and restore much of the route and its landmarks
to their former glory. In more ways than one, Route 66 is a better
alternative to capturing real America than taking a stroll through Manhattan or down
Hollywood Boulevard.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *