As one of the largest and most diverse countries in the world, The United States boast an amazing amount of tourist destinations ranging from the skyscrapers of New York and Chicago, the natural wonders of Yellowstone and Alaska to the sunny beaches of California, Florida and Hawaii. With so many tourist attractions it’s tempting to list entire cities or even states, but in this top 10 I have tried to focus on specific attractions.
1. US Virgin Islands
In a year when travelers are apt to still be watching their wallets, this is our #1 choice for an American tropical getaway. It’s eternally 80 degrees, rimmed with white-sand beaches on turquoise water, and, yes, it’s a US territory. Each of the US Virgin Islands has their own identity: if you want a break from resorts, St John is nearly two-thirds a lush national park with tent cabins amid trees and hikes to secluded beaches – this sadly may be the last year for the Maho Bay Camps, a long-standing eco-resort which is the place to stay if you’re watching your budget; or try the St John Inn which offers great-value rooms with kitchenettes. For more action, the previously inaccessible Hassel Island, now part of Virgin Islands National Park (St Thomas), can be explored by snorkel or kayak. And word is that the Captain Morgan Rum Distillery on St. Croix will open its new visitor center in spring 2012 – ahoy!
2. Hudson River Valley, New York
It should be a given that any visitor to New York City breaks for a day or two ‘upstate’ in the Hudson River Valley, a slice of rural Americana just north. It’s a real city break, with leafy drives, wineries and plenty of farm-to-table foodie options that draw even spoiled-for-choice Manhattanites away from the city. A favorite spot to stay is straight out of a B-52s video. No surprise. It’s former ‘52 singer Kate Pierson’s Lazy Meadow, a renovated ‘50s cabin complex near Woodstock designed by the same pals who did up the ‘Love Shack’ for the video.
3. Cincinnati, Ohio
Seen Cincy lately? The pretty city on the Ohio River – off the main cross-country interstates – gets bypassed by many road trippers, but it’s quietly transformed itself in the last decade into a worthy weekend getaway. Life centers around the river – much which can be seen by foot: river walkways are best on the Kentucky side, reached via a couple bridges including John Roebling’s Suspension Bridge (a prequel to his famous Brooklyn Bridge). Narrow, twisting (and steep) brick roads of the Mt Adams district lead past 19th-century Victorian townhouses and the free Cincinnati Art Museum, while the once-dangerous, emerging Over-the-Rhine, just north of downtown, is home to the Findlay Market and a sprawling collection of historic Italianate architecture. Best, though, is the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, open since 2004, on the banks of the river where many slaves escaped to freedom in the 19th century.
4. Four Corners Region, Southwest USA
The most popular attractions of the four states sharing a border in the southwest – Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah – typically cluster away from the four corners, but this underappreciated region is a geologic, archeological wonderland. Even with a 100-mile radius, you can see the sandstone towers of Arizona’s Monument Valley, Hollywood stars in their own right, seen on a 17-mile loop or by Navajo-led walks – pop into one of Utah’s national parks, see Colorado’s Mesa Verde’s abandoned cliff dwellings on self-guided walks, then straddle all four states at once.
5. Culebra, Puerto Rico
Looking for a beach? Don’t forget Puerto Rico, just a short hop from the US mainland. The island is rimmed with great beaches, but the best – and still a secret to most visitors – is the world-class Playa Flamenco, on wee, offbeat, laid-back island of Culebra, 17 miles off Puerto Rico’s mainland. Reached by ferry or flight, Culebra is great for beach-hopping, snorkeling or hikes in a wildlife refuge. You can find beachside apartments for $150/night, including Villa Flamenco Beach, while the personable, cheaper Palmetto Guesthouse offers free water-sports gear.
6. California Gold Country
Tahoe and Yosemite gets all the mountain love in California, but an hour closer to San Francisco (and cheaper and less crowded) is Gold Country. Towns that ooze century-old ambience are strung out like throw-back pearls along Hwy 49, a fun drive that passes stops like Jamestown’s historic train, a tiny gold town called Volcano (with no volcano), wineries (some even consider the region a contender to Napa and Sonoma), caves, gold-panning spots and a good overnight choice: the artsy town of Nevada City. Winter is also a treat with snow parks for kids and Bear Valley for hard-core winter sports – plus there’s sledding options galore. That’s how the locals do it.
7. Boulder, Colorado
The university town of Boulder is one of the most livable cities in US. Locals live with a mad crush on the outdoors, and adventure can be found at every turn. Main roads are filled with cyclists, except for the bustling ped-only Pearl St Mall lined with shops and great eateries and brewpubs. There’s also a bike path along Boulder Creek, which gets filled with tubers in summer. The Royal Arch Trail is a two-hour hike though a challenging red-rock canyon in town. And, in winter, don’t overlook Nederland’s goofy Frozen Dead Guy festival, 17 miles west.
8. Hawai’i: The Big Island
For too long, ‘Hawai’i’ has meant Honolulu, but a rise in direct flights from the US mainland to Kona, on the Big Island, mean the draw of this magical place has never been easier. Plan to stay as long as you can, considering its wide variety of attractions: Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, Kealakekua Bay snorkeling, hikes into caves and waterfalls along the lava field at Hilina Pai, or just bumming on the island’s best beach at Hapuna.
Chicago’s going to be busy in 2012, with G8 and NATO summits based here – though the main attraction lies outside politics. Instead, occupy the Magnificent Mile! Chicago has incredible art offerings at places like the Art Institute and Millennium Park, some of the country’s best restaurants and world-class festivals like Lollapalooza and Taste of Chicago. And the Obamas’ old neighborhood on the south side – Hyde Park – is seeing more visitors for its lakeside walks and a look at Frank Lloyd Wright’s ‘prairie style’ Robie House, up this year for World Heritage Site status.
10. Yellowstone National Park
The world’s first national park – turning 140 next year – attracts nearly four million visitors a year, but just a trickle go in winter; consider it. Rates are lower (the Old Faithful Snow Lodge has rooms starting at $95, a fraction of summer rates), and the scenery has its own wintery majesty, when waterfalls turn to curtains of ice, geysers shoot higher and boiling rivers billow with steam. You can get about by ski shuttles, snowshoe (rangers lead free tours) or – best yet – cross-country skis, as hiking trails of all levels transform into some of the country’s best trails. Why wait for summer?
The White House in Washington DC is the official residence and office of the President of the United States. It was built between 1792 and 1800 and first used by President John Adams. After the 9/11 attacks it has become more difficult to visit the White House and today tours are available only for groups of 10 or more and must be requested up to six months in advance through your member of Congress or your country’s US Ambassador.
12. Denali National Park
The Denali National Park and Preserve is located in Interior Alaska and contains Mount McKinley, the highest mountain in North America. The word “Denali” means “the high one” in the native Athabaskan language and refers to Mount McKinley. In addition, the park protects an incredible wilderness area that contains grizzly bears, caribou, moose, wolves, and numerous other creatures.
13.Las Vegas Strip
The gambling mecca of the world, Las Vegas is situated in the midst of the southern Nevada desert landscape. Casinos can be found throughout Las Vegas, but the strip, a stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard South, contains the most of them. It features giant mega-casino hotels, decorated with lavish care and attention to detail to create a fantasy-like atmosphere. The casinos often have names and themes that evoke romance, mystery, and far-away destination. To search all the best travel sites at once and find the cheapest price visit our Las Vegas Hotel page.
The Florida Keys are a 120 mile long chain of tropical islands curving around the base of the Florida peninsula, connected to the mainland by a series of bridges. The most spectacular bridge, the Seven Mile Bridge in the Lower Keys, has been frequently used as a location for films including True Lies and Fast 2 Furious. US Highway 1, the “Overseas Highway” runs from Key Largo, Islamadora, Marathon, Lower Keys and finally to Key West, the most distant and most famous island.
Kilauea is the most recent of a series of volcanoes that have created the Hawaiian Archipelago. It is a very low, flat shield volcano, vastly different in profile from the high, sharply sloping peaks of stratovolcanoes. Kilauea is one of the most active volcano on the Earth, an invaluable resource for volcanologists. Thirty-three eruptions have taken place since 1952, not including the current eruption which started on January 3, 1983 and is still ongoing.
Situated between the state of New York and the province of Ontario, Niagara Falls is one of the most spectacular natural wonders on the North American continent. Niagara Falls is actually three different falls, the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and Horseshoe Falls. Horseshoe Falls is located on the Canadian side while the other are located in New York. With more than 14 million visitors each year it is one of the most visited tourist attraction in the world.
17.Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate, the strait between San Francisco and Marin County to the north. The Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge span in the world when it was completed in 1937, and has become an internationally recognized symbol of San Francisco and California. The famous red-orange color of the bridge was specifically chosen to make the bridge more easily visible through the thick fog that frequently shrouds the bridge.
Built in 1742 by Peter Faneuil, a wealthy Boston merchant, Faneuil Hall served as a commercial center of the city for centuries and a site for famous orations, like Samuel Adams’ independence-rallying speech to colonists. Faneuil also includes the restored 19th-century Quincy Market. Today, shoppers account for a large share of visitors, and while we’ve excluded shopping-only malls (like Minnesota’s Mall of America) from this list, Faneuil’s historic significance vaults it to the status of cultural attraction.
Manhattan is one of New York’s five boroughs and is what people most often think of when they picture New York. It’s familiar skyline and sights have been featured a thousand times on screen. Walk in the shadow of the skyscrapers, picture the Statue of Liberty, see a Broadway show , climb the Empire State building, stroll Central Park, window shop on 5th Avenue or stagger around a museum. To search all the best travel sites at once and find the cheapest price visit our New York City Hotel page.
The Grand Canyon is located in northern Arizona and is one of the great tourist attractions in the United States. Carved over several million years by the Colorado River, the canyon attains a depth of over 1.6 km (1 mile) and 446 km (277 miles) long. The Grand Canyon is not the deepest or the longest canyon in the world but the overwhelming size and its intricate and colorful landscape offers visitor spectacular vistas that are unmatched throughout the world.