Nothing kills the holiday-high quite like squandering your
precious time – and cash – waiting to see a hyped-up tourist
attraction that ends up being an
However, sites across the US have undeservedly been called
tourists traps for becoming too crowded or too expensive,
though many of them remain must-sees.
From the natural wonder of the Grand Canyon in Arizona to the
admittedly tacky neon lights illuminating the Las Vegas Strip in
Nevada, these are the tourist attractions actually worth visiting
in every state.
ALABAMA: US Space and Rocket Center
Occasionally billed as Earth’s largest space museum, the US Space
and Rocket Center boasts a slew of notable
artifacts, including a national historic landmark Saturn V
moon rocket, an Apollo 16 command module, a Skylab orbital
workshop, and an Apollo 12 moon rock.
ALASKA: Iditarod Trail Headquarters
Each year, a uniquely Alaskan tradition called the
Iditarod, an annual long-distance sled dog race that
1150 miles, takes place. The race’s
headquarters, located in Wasilla, Alaska, have long drawn both
fans and critics of the race.
Many – especially animal activists –
take issue with the race’s use of dogs, so a visit to the
headquarters offers activists a rare opportunity to
members of the Iditarod founder’s family, and
converse with them in person. The HQ also features trophies,
displays, photos, and videos.
ARIZONA: The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is Arizona’s most well-known natural
beauty, and for good reason: between its immense size and
breathtaking views, this natural phenomenon is a must-see…
ARKANSAS: Whitaker Point
Whitaker Point is one of the most easily recognizable landscapes
in Arkansas, and what’s more, it’s easily accessible. While you
may need to wait your turn for that perfect Instagram shot on its
ledge, you’ll get instantly rewarded with scenic vistas,
prismatic wildflowers, and glimmering waterfalls.
Here are some of the best
waterfalls to visit in the US.
CALIFORNIA: Alcatraz Island
Al Capone, Whitey Bulger, and a slew of other criminals were once
imprisoned in Alcatraz
Federal Penitentiary, which is located on an island in the
San Francisco Bay. Sure, tours are around
$50, but checking out the infamous penitentiary and its
stunning views is worth it.
COLORADO: Great Sand Dunes
4.5 million people visited Colorado National Parks in 2016
alone, and those visitors spent nearly $300 million in
and around the park. Considering that the Great Sand Dunes have a
reputation of being
consistently too hot, windy, or dangerous to comfortably
explore, that’s a lot of cash to drop.
But when the weather is just right, the dunes are worth it.
After you get over the sheer size and wonder of the Great Sand
Dunes – they can span up to 750 feet
tall – go sand sledding or sandboarding through them for an
CONNECTICUT: The PEZ Candy Factory
We all have a soft-spot for PEZ; the candy is interactive, it’s
fun, and a visit to the
factory gives you a behind-the-scenes look at how it’s
made. Plus, it’s bright and engaging.
DELAWARE: Dogfish Head Brewery
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery has grown significantly in
popularity since it first opened in 1995; in fact, readers on the
website 10Best just voted the Dogfish Head Craft Brewery tour as
of the best in the nation for 2018.
FLORIDA: St. Augustine Alligator Farm
One of Florida’s oldest running attractions, the slightly
gimmicky St. Augustine Alligator Farm, which opened in 1893,
allows visitors to view
hundreds of native alligators. While many complain that it’s
overpriced, there’s a zipline, obstacle course, and live
GEORGIA: Ponce City Market
As long as you don’t mind rubbing shoulders with hordes of other
hungry tourists, a trip to the
Ponce City Market will no doubt satiate foodies in search of
the most creative fare Atlanta has to offer. Even Zagat gives the
seal of approval, noting that the PCM’s new amusement park
makes battling the crowds a worthwhile venture.
HAWAII: Punaluu Black Sand Beach
Punaluu Black Sand Beach has been noted for being
crowded and noisy, which means that tourists hoping to relax
and catch some peaceful rays will likely hate it.
But for those of you in the mood to witness a truly unique
location (and catch sight of some endangered turtles), Punaluu is
a must-see spot.
The sand on Punaluu Black Sand Beach gets its inky hue from
crushed lava rock, but that’s not the only reason to visit
the famous beach; endangered Hawksbill turtles and green
turtles are often
spotted on the shore.
IDAHO: The Spud Drive-In
There’s something delightfully kitsch about how this
potato-farming region’s entrance sign to their drive-in
theater features a gargantuan
potato on the back of a cherry-red flat-bed truck.
ILLINOIS: Wrigley Field
Baseball fans will jump at the chance to visit Wrigley Field, home of
the Chicago Cubs and host to Major League Baseball for the
104th season in 2018.
INDIANA: Marengo Cave
Marengo Cave is one of Indiana’s most-visited
natural and National Landmarks, likely because a pit stop there
offers something for everyone. History buffs can explore the
five-mile long cave, which allegedly started to form
million years ago; there are gemstone mining bags for
children; camping grounds for outdoorsy folk; and families can
even opt to take a family canoe trip on Blue River,
IOWA: Grotto of the Redemption
The Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend, Iowa, is
often referred to as
the eighth wonder of the world; not only is it one of the largest
man-made grottos on the planet, but it also boasts a staggering
collection of precious stones and gems, such as rose quartz,
crystals, and jasper, which are embedded in the grotto’s
KANSAS: Dorothy’s House
“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”
If you were wondering where in Kansas Dorothy was referring to
when she uttered those iconic words in the movie “The Wizard of
Oz,” here’s your answer. You can take a
tour through the Land of Oz and chat with costumed guides at
Dorothy’s House, which resides on the same land as Kansas’
KENTUCKY: Kentucky Bourbon Trail
Back when Kentucky was still a part of Virginia, one of the
region’s original counties was called “Bourbon County” –
and bourbon has remained a rich part of Kentucky’s history,
of the world’s bourbon is distilled, aged, and bottled in
Kentucky’s Bourbon County today.
The Kentucky Bourbon Trail features 24 distilleries for
bourbon aficionados to visit.
LOUISIANA: Gardens of the American Rose Center
Located on a 118-acre wooded tract in Louisiana, the
Gardens of the American Rose Center is the nation’s largest park
dedicated to varieties of the world’s most romantic flower – the
rose. Visitors can check out more than 65 individual rose
gardens, as well as 20,000 rosebushes on the premises.
MAINE: Lobster Shack at Two Lights
Yes, you’ll have to wait in line forever – especially since the
Lobster Shack at Two Lights has been featured in some prestigious
guides, including Serious Eats, Bon Appetit, and The Food Network – but the
views, the BYOB policy, and the to-the-point, no-frills menu,
make the stop worth it.
MARYLAND: American Visionary Art Museum
The American Visionary Art Museum seeks
to highlight the work of self-taught artists,
prioritizing unique, eccentric art over traditional pieces of
work – which means every new visit to the museum will likely feel
fresh and different than the visit before.
MASSACHUSETTS: USS Constitution
Named by President George Washington after the United
States Constitution, the USS Constitution is the
oldest wooden-hulled, three-masted frigate – one of six –
commissioned in the United States Navy.
Construction on the USS Constitution started
in 1794 in the North End of Boston, and she launched on
October 21, 1797.
MICHIGAN: Mackinac Island
Mackinac Island harkens back to a simpler time, before the
automotive industry underwent its massive boom in the US, and has
been a tourism hotspot since the late 19th century.
The sweet seaside town, known for its fudge, takes the whole old
timey-ness to a new level, and visitors can explore the island in
horse-drawn carriages (although drive-your-own-buggies are
available for vacationers who prefer to self-direct).
MINNESOTA: The Jolly Green Giant
He’s jolly, he’s green, he’s a giant. What more could you ask of
a tourist attraction?
MISSISSIPPI: Vicksburg National Military Park
Vicksburg National Military Park is the fifth
national military park created by Congress; the park, which
was established in 1899, commemorates the site of the
American Civil War Battle of Vicksburg.
The park boasts a vast collection of historic
cannons, reconstructed trenches, and more along its
16-mile route, but
some have criticized that the large size of the site makes it
hard to find specific monuments and relics you’re looking for;
however, the problem is easily fixed by exploring it by
MISSOURI: Gateway Arch
The tallest man-made
monument in the US, the Gateway Arch is a 630-foot structure
which you can access via a tram-ride, allowing you to drink in
the views of Missouri from up high.
MONTANA: Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is losing its namesake glaciers
due to climate change, which has driven a huge spike in
traffic and tourism to the park, rendering it
much more crowded than usual.
However, between Glacier’s
700 miles of trails through rugged mountains and its
immaculate lakes, the natural wonder remains worth a visit.
NEBRASKA: Chimney Rock
One of the
iconic landmarks in the entire state of Nebraska is the
480-foot high geological rock formation known as Chimney Rock.
The formation represented a landmark for pioneers heading
west in the 19th century, and is said to be around
to 25 million years old.
NEVADA: The Las Vegas Strip
The strip is a classic for a reason, and if you’re going to make
the trek to Sin City, you might as well take advantage of the
casinos, nightclubs, upscale eateries, bars, and nightlife
available to you.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: The Cathedral of the Pines
Every US President since Truman has left a
stone to commemorate Americans who have served America
at the Cathedral of the Pines in Rindge, New
NEW JERSEY: Atlantic City Boardwalk
When Americans picture summertime on the Jersey
Shore, the Atlantic City Boardwalk, with its variety of
confection shops, amusements, restaurants, and views, inevitably
comes to mind, and for good reason.
NEW MEXICO: Roswell
While it may seem like an unusual choice to designate an entire
city as a tourist trap worth visiting, Roswell isn’t just any
city – it’s the so-called “land to the aliens.” Legend has it
that an alleged UFO crashed near the city, and in honor of the
myth, most everything in Roswell is alien-themed, to an
exultantly ostentatious degree.
The street-lamps lighting the roads at night? Alien-shaped. If
you buy a game of “Operation”
in Roswell, you’ll find yourself “operating” on an
alien, rather than a human. Roswell is the ideal destination
for folks with both a sense of humor, and a penchant for the
NEW YORK: Times Square
New York is brimming with popular and historically significant
tourist attractions: there’s the Statue of Liberty, the Empire
State Building, Rockefeller Center, and Central Park, to name a
few. And then, of course, there’s Times Square.
Locals will avoid
Times Square like the plague, but if you’re just passing
through the city, a visit to the bustling, bright hub is akin to
a rite of passage – if you can make it through those streets
unscathed, you can make it anywhere.
NORTH CAROLINA: The Biltmore estate
With 33 bedrooms and 43 bathrooms spread over 175,000 square
feet, the Biltmore is billed as
America’s largest home, so if you want to feel bad about your
living situation while marveling at a palatial estate, this is
the place to go.
NORTH DAKOTA: The Enchanted Highway
The Enchanted Highway, a 32-mile stretch of two-lane roads
studded intermittently with whimsical roadside art – such as
giant metal birds, and a tin family – more than lives
up to its name.
OHIO: Cedar Point
The 364-acre Cedar
Point is known as the roller coaster capital of the world,
and boasts a handful of
world-record breaking attractions. For instance, it has
a world-record 72 rides, and is the only amusement park in
the world with six roller coasters taller than 200 feet.
OKLAHOMA: Route 66
Route 66 was one of the original highways within the US highway
system, running from Chicago, Illinois,
through Missouri, Kansas,
Oklahoma, Texas, New
Mexico, and Arizona, before ending in
Santa Monica, California.
It has been mentioned in
countless novels, movies, lyrics, and other works of art, so
you’ll feel the weight of US history around you while traveling
upon its hallowed gravel.
OREGON: Crater Lake
Yes, visitation rates to Crater Lake have been
skyrocketing over the past few years, but don’t let the
threat of long crowds deter you from visiting, mostly because
you’d be hard-pressed to find a more intensely blue body of water
in such a unique location. Nestled within a giant volcanic
caldera, it is the deepest lake in the US at
PENNSYLVANIA: Reading Terminal Market
You could easily spend all your time in Philly ping-ponging
between the city’s two
cheesesteak mavens, but if you want to sample some of
54 national cuisines the city offers, the Reading Terminal
Market is a fine place to start – just be prepared to wrestle
your way through many fellow gourmands.
RHODE ISLAND: WaterFire Providence
Several times over the spring, summer, and autumn, Rhode
Island citizens gather together on the four-acre Waterplace Park
and Riverwalk, and send 100 bonfires down the Woonasquatucket
River, making for a spectacularly enchanting
While outdoor festivals swarming with vendors, street
entertainers, and tourists can be overwhelming, if you can
withstand the chaos, the fire-lighting ceremony is truly
SOUTH CAROLINA: Fort Sumter
The bombardment on Fort Sumter was the result of an ongoing
tension between the existing US government and the Confederate
government over ownership of the South. Seven states had seceded
from the Union, and when then-President Abraham Lincoln declared
his intentions to resupply Union forces at South Carolina’s Fort
Sumter, Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard decided to bombard
it on April
Nobody was killed in the fight, but the battle is said to mark
the beginning of the Civil War.
SOUTH DAKOTA: Mount Rushmore
Opened in 1941, the Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a massive
granite sculpture which depicts the stone visages of past US
presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore
Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.
Some claim it’s underwhelming, others complain about crowds, but
this piece of US history is worth a visit.
The US is home to a profuse number of theme
parks worth visiting, but Dollywood, named after entertainer
Dolly Parton, is in a league of its own: not only can you enjoy
classic Southern-style dining, but there are more than 40 rides and 15 shows
to choose from while there.
TEXAS: The San Antonio River Walk
One of the most visited places in San Antonio, the Riverwalk
attracts tourists of all walks of life because it embodies the
spirit of Texas excess: it just keeps getting bigger and better.
You’ll have to wait in line, but tickets are relatively
affordable, and once you hop aboard a water taxi, you can
explore all the restaurants, shops, museums, and sights San
Antonio has to offer.
UTAH: Bryce Canyon National Park
The largest collection of
hoodoos – tall, skinny, and protruding pillars of rock
that form over thousands of years due to different types of
erosion – in the world can be seen at Bryce Canyon National Park
in Utah, which means that during the daytime, every view point is
jam-packed with throngs of
rude tourists blocking the views of the iconic rocks.
Tear your gaze away from the hoodoos and venture out to the
park during the night instead: it’s dark enough at Bryce that
you’ll be able to view 7,500
stars on a moonless night.
VERMONT: Ben and Jerry’s Factory
Not only will you learn all about the ice-cream making process
during your 30-minute tour at the Ben &
Jerry’s Factory in Waterbury, Vermont, but
you can taste-test an assortment of flavors at their
full-service Scoop Shop.
VIRGINIA: Virginia Beach
Skip the grossly overpriced attractions in Colonial Williamsburg,
and head over to Virginia Beach, which was dubbed one of the
top 25 beaches in the US this year by TripAdvisor. The
boardwalk, while sometimes crowded, has something for everyone.
WASHINGTON: The Ape Cave
Formed over 2,000 years ago, the Ape Cave is the
continuous lava tube in the continental US; legend has it
that some people have claimed to have
spotted Bigfoot on their way to the cave.
WEST VIRGINIA: Archive of the Afterlife: The National Museum of the Paranormal
All things witchy
and paranormal are currently in vogue, and there’s no
haunted attractions all over the US.
But for travelers who are nonetheless still drawn to otherworldly
paraphernalia – and for fans of spooky ghost stories – West
Virginia’s Archive of the Afterlife: The National Museum of the
Paranormal is a destination worth scoping out.
Full of eerie oddities you won’t find elsewhere, travelers
have praised the museum’s owner for his authenticity and
WISCONSIN: The House on the Rock
The mad and bizarre vision of recluse Alex Jordan Jr., the House
on the Rock in Wisconsin is a dark, 14-room home perched on – you
guessed it – a rock. The interior is dark, and will make you feel
as though you’re wandering through a fever dream, which is
probably why the location
makes a cameo in the television series,
“American Gods,” based on a Neil Gaiman novel.
WYOMING: Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park – the
first national park in the world, let alone the US –
was officially established by President Ulysses S. Grant in
1872. The park, which spans over 3,000 square miles, boasts a
variety of natural wonders, as well as over 2,000 campsites,
and is absolutely worth a visit, even if that visit entails
having to witness crowds of
tourists and other
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