The United States is not only the land of the free and the home of the brave, it is also a travelers’ paradise. Many of the most popular destinations in the USA are unique to this continent and found nowhere else on earth. Besides the obvious man-made wonders, America has been blessed with the very best that nature has to offer. Here is our pick of the top 10 travel destinations in the USA.
The Grand Canyon, Arizona (above image)
The Grand Canyon in Arizona is a natural monument unlike any. The canyon vista with its incomprehensible size, ever changing colors and hues, and a rich display of rock layers is unmatched by any on Earth. It is unique, to say the least.
Flowing from the Rocky Mountains in the north to the gulf of California in the south, the Colorado River is the carving force behind this chasm. The vastness of this landscape is mind-boggling. It is 277 miles long, a mile deep and 20 miles wide. To see the Grand Canyon for the first time is an experience people will remember for the rest of their lives.
Forget the pictures and videos that you might have seen of the Grand Canyon – being here to witness it with your own eyes is something completely different. Many people weep at the sight of the vast landscape, unable to contain the incredibly emotional feeling that this ancient landscape provokes.
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Yellowstone National Park, Montana/Wyoming/Idaho
Yellowstone National Park is the first national park in the world and has served as a blueprint for the hundreds of other nature parks all over the world. It spans an area of 8,980 sq. km. The park includes lakes, canyons, rivers, mountain ranges and the massive Yellowstone Lake.
The park sits over the Yellowstone Caldera, one of the largest super-volcanos on earth. The main attractions of the park are the hundreds of geysers, thermals and hot pools scattered all over the park. Half of the world’s geothermal features are in Yellowstone, fueled by the ongoing volcanism. Lava flows and rocks from volcanic eruptions cover most of the land area of Yellowstone.
Wildlife is also fairly abundant in this protected area. Herds of elk, deer and the north American bison are common even during peak tourist seasons. Lucky visitors might get to see wolves and grizzly bears in their natural habitat.
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Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
Partially encompassing the Mammoth-Flint Ridge Cave System – the world’s longest known cave system, Mammoth Cave National Park is a 52,830-acre park with more than 405 miles of passageways. The caves system began to form more than 280 million years ago as the earth rose and twisted and allowed water to erode the rock into the current cave system.
Although Native Americans have inhabited the cave region for at least 6,000 years, the cave only started attracting tourists since 1810, which made it one of the country’s first tourist attractions. Visitors to the park can take an underground boat tour and see stalactites, stalagmites, natural springs, and gypsum crystals.
Some of the animals found in the park include deer, foxes, coyotes, beavers, wild turkeys, owls, raccoons, opossums, woodchucks, muskrats and at least 100 species of fish including the catfish, muskie, and bluegill. There are also twelve eyeless species of animals living in the caves.
Few U.S. cities reward the traveler as much as the nation’s capital. Washington, DC is chock full of historic sights: from the Capitol and the White House to the National Mall and Arlington National Cemetery.
The crowning glory of DC, of course, is its wealth of countless world-class museums including The Smithsonian, National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of Natural History, the National Museum of American History, the National Postal Museum, Holocaust Memorial Museum as well as several galleries. Washington, DC is also home to the largest and most prestigious library in the country – the Library of Congress with nearly 161 million total items, including 23.9 million cataloged books.
With so many options to choose from, you would be hard pressed not to find something you enjoy in DC.
New York is largest city in the United States and is obviously a vibrant and energetic place. There is an incredibly diverse range of things to see and do but no visit to New York City is complete without visiting the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Times Square and the massive Central Park.
Other places of interest in this humungous city include National 9/11 Memorial & Museum, Luna Park – a new amusement park in the iconic Coney Island, Madame Tussauds featuring over 225 incredibly lifelike wax figures and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine – the largest cathedral in the world.
Las Vegas is synonymous with gambling. But it is also a live entertainment hot-spot offering musical concerts, magic shows, comedy clubs, strip bars, world-class eateries…. you name it. Las Vegas has everything to keep you from getting bored.
Although it is in the middle of a semi-arid desert, Las Vegas is a great place to visit year-round; its cooler winter temperatures are pleasant for sightseeing, and in summer, when the temperature can rise above 104 degrees Fahrenheit, the hotel pools become an important part of the daytime activities.
Besides the regular gambling and the famous shows, Las Vegas also offers high-octane thrills like Vegas Indoor Skydiving, go-karting at Fast Lap, or zip-lining with Flightlinez, not to mention all the thrilling rides available at the Stratosphere which is 350 meters high.
Everyone knows Hawaii is to beaches what Nepal is to mountains. But the tropical climate and beautiful sea-shores aren’t the only things you can find in Hawaii. This unique piece of heaven on earth boasts of constantly forming islands, snorkeling and diving, shipwrecks, petroglyphs, otherworldly rock formations, red-dirt roads and rugged hiking trails.
Hawaii is made up of over 100 islands, however there are eight main islands that make up the Hawaiian Islands and each has its own unique features. The island of Hawaii, also known as the Big Island, is the largest of Hawaii’s main islands with a total area of 4,028 square miles. The island is home to three active volcanoes – Kilauea is the most active one. The highest point on the Big Island is the dormant volcano, Mauna Kea at 13,796 feet (4,205 m).
Hollywood is a movie mecca and competes with New York as the entertainment capital of the world. Since the early days of cinemas, Hollywood has played an important role as the creative and technological center of movie making in America. It boasts an international reputation that no other neighborhood in Los Angeles has. Hollywood still sparkles with gems of old glamorous hotels and celebrity hangouts along with an emerging urban cityscape.
Redwood National and State Parks, California
Giant sequoias and California redwoods are the largest and the tallest trees in the world. In essence, they are nature’s skyscrapers. These enormous trees exist primarily in Northern California and parts of Southern Oregon. Sequoias and redwoods are often referred to interchangeably even though they are two very different species of trees.
Giant redwoods typically outreach their sequoia cousins in height. The tallest of which, called Hyperion, stands at a 380 feet tall. Giant sequoias are typically shorter than their coastal relatives. What they lack in height, however, they make up for in size. One giant sequoia known as General Sherman weighs a staggering 2.7 million pounds and stands 275 feet tall from its base, which is more than 100 feet wide. Not only is General Sherman the largest living tree, it also largest living organism on the planet.
It is an incredibly surreal experience to walk among these ancient giants. Visitors explore the park by walking along well marked paths, dwarfed by the massive monuments of wood.
Some noteworthy sites to visit in Hollywood include the world famous Walk of Fame and Sunset Boulevard, The Hollywood Sign, Universal Studios, Chinese Theatre, Griffith Observatory, Universal Studios and the natural sites of Lake Hollywood Park and Runyon Canyon.
The Everglades, Florida
Florida is known for its tropical weather, beautiful beaches and theme parks. But if you wish to experience more of Florida then the Everglades should be high on your list.
The beautiful Florida Everglades is one of Americas last unexplored wilderness areas. This untouched natural region of tropical wetlands and plentiful wildlife is anything but dull. There are tons of different of ways to experience the Everglades with a never-ending list of things to do including hiking, biking, bird-watching, camping, canoeing & kayaking, boating, wildlife viewing and fishing.
Besides, you can also partake in Ranger Programs which are some of the best ways to learn more about the park through hikes, canoe trips, slough slogs, bicycle trips, tram tours, and campfire programs.
The United States has a lot to offer its visitors. Although this list only contains ten destinations in the United States, there are dozens of other equally attractive places in the US. Whether you are into nature or prefer the convenience of big cities, you can find just the right activities to suit you. If you’re looking to save money on your flights while travelling to the US, check out how to earn a Southwest Companion Pass.