There are some places that every American just has to see, putting them at the top of the bucket list for U.S. travelers. From the history of the east coast to the palm frond shores of the west, these U.S. destinations mark the absolute highest in terms of historical importance, activity, beauty, and cultural importance. Read on and see which ones aren't checked off of your list yet.
The Big Apple, the largest city in the U.S., and the center of finance, business, and much of the country's tourism industry. Although everyone wants to go to NYC at some point, and people are constantly flooding its streets, you shouldn't balk at going too. Don't resist it, give in and visit the nation's first capital, see the Statue of Liberty and find your ancestors' names at Ellis Island, pay respects at the 9/11 Memorial and then gorge yourselves on New York style pizza. There's never a dull moment in the City that Never Sleeps.
Obviously, this one should be a no brainer. As the nation's heart and capital, Washington, D.C. is the centerpiece in the crowning glory that is the U.S. The city itself was built on history, hard-won freedom and independence, and it shows its struggle on every corner, the face of the city devoted to reflect everything it has been given. National monuments, statues, and memorials lead into some of the absolute best museums in the country, the Smithsonian museums included, many of which are free of charge and are within walking distance from any other D.C. attraction.
One of the oldest cities in the nation, Boston prides itself on its struggle towards independence and continues to show off its irreverent side even today. Playing a key role in American Independence, Boston needs to be visited if only to pay respects to that pivotal role in history. Follow the Freedom Trail through 16 key destinations to see Boston Harbor, Faneuil Hall, Old North Church, Paul Revere's House, and more.
Vying with Boston, Philadelphia played an equally important role in American history and in the Revolutionary War. With her feet placed firmly in the ground of freedom and liberty, Philadelphia's attractions lean more towards the newly appointed American government and her role in establishing itself as the greatest power on earth. Start with a trip to Independence National Historic Park and see the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall where the Declaration and Bill of Rights were signed into being, as well as Congress Hall where George Washington was sworn into office for his second term as well as John Adams' inauguration.
Setting history aside for a moment, jump over to the west coast where palm trees and the brilliantly blue Pacific Ocean are on everyone's minds. L.A., the city of glitter and fame, is the country's entertainment capital with more aspiring actors filling the streets than not. It's also where you can find Hollywood and all of its glory. See the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Hollywood sign of course, and visit Universal Studios for that famous tour of the lot and the theme park. While you're here you don't want to miss out on touring Griffith Park or spotting celebrities at Runyon Canyon, relaxing at Venice Beach and more.
Literally any island in the archipelago of Hawaii would fulfill bucket list obligations but you won't want to stick to just one. As the newest and only island state in the U.S., Hawaii has more natural wonders than you can handle in just one trip. Oahu is recommended for touring Pearl Harbor memorial sites and visiting Honolulu while natural beauty is most concentrated on the small island of Kauai where you can see the Na Pali Coast, Waimea Canyon, Fern Grotto, and many others.
Boom town of the 1849 Gold Rush, home to the largest Chinatown outside of Asia, and the site of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco takes history and molds it into a cultural stew both delicious and hearty. On the scenic, steep hills of Frisco you'll find Painted Ladies Victorian homes, the crookedest street in the world on Lombard, the most famous prison sitting like Azkaban out in the bay, and much more. Touring San Francisco is like touring several cities at once, all with the backdrop of the intensely beautiful Pacific Ocean, Coit Tower and the Golden Gate Bridge photobombing every shot.
The Big Easy may be an extremely old city but looking at it you'd never tell. With the everlasting and youthful joie de vivre that seems to glow from every surface, sparking spontaneous parades and trumpet marches through public thoroughfares, makes New Orleans the most soulful and exciting city. Home to Mardi Gras, delicious and fluffy beignets, the historic and iconic face of the French Quarter, Cajun food, and the bayou, New Orleans doesn't just act Cajun, the city lives it.
Need I say more? It's sad that so many people live their lives without ever going to a Disney park and this needs to change. Be a kid again and rediscover what magic truly means. Disneyland in Anaheim or Disney World in Kissimmee, both take theme parks to a new level - to the Disney level. Give yourself a treat - you deserve to be Disney happy.
- Chicago - Midwest center of tourism and industry, Chicago is arguably the most visited city in Middle America for attractions like the Navy Pier, the Magnificent Mile, Field Museum of Natural History, and the Shedd Aquarium.
- St. Louis - Another Midwest classic and home to the champion Cardinals baseball team, St. Louis remains to this day the Gateway to the West, mixing Midwest charm and personality with the sophistication and poise of a much larger metropolis.
- Florida Keys - It would be hard to pass up the opportunity to visit the Keys, the most Caribbean of American destinations. Key West is lovely any time of year, I hear.
- National Parks and Monuments - This includes places like Mount Rushmore, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and Denali National Parks; places that were important enough to put a "Made in America" sticker on the bottom.