The U.S. is a massive country that brings in countless millions of visitors each and every year. The sheer size means that it’s impossible to see and do everything in a single trip, and usually requires several visits before you are able to take in all that there is to offer. Knowing where to begin can be tough, especially since there are so many great attractions dotted across the length and breadth of the country. If you are in the enviable position of being free to travel to any location for your first trip to the U.S., or even if you are planning a second or third visit, the following list of popular attractions might very well help you narrow down that choice. Read on to see what the top 10 attractions are in the U.S., and just how many people take them in annually.
10. Navy Pier – Chicago IL:
Photo Credit: slworking2
Sitting on the shores of Lake Michigan, this Chicago attraction has been wooing visitors since 1916. It has served as a campus and a military training facility in the past, but today it is best known for its shops and restaurants. There are fireworks shows just about every night, and you can also take in the Chicago Shakespeare Theater and the Chicago Children's Museum during your visit.
9. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN/NC:
Photo Credit: Carl Wycoff
It would be easy to guess that the Grand Canyon or Yosemite would be the most popular national park in the country, but both guesses would be wrong. The Great Smoky Mountains attract roughly 9 million nature-loving tourists every year.
8. Niagara Falls New York:
Photo Credit: werner22brigitte
People have been travelling to see this natural wonder that straddles the US-Canada border since the mid part of the 19th century. There are many different ways to see the falls, with boats, observation decks, and hiking trails just a few of the options. It is estimated that about 12 million visitors per year take in the falls, with many folks choosing the destination as a honeymoon spot.
7. San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf and Golden Gate National Recreation Area:
Photo Credit: PDPhotos
It is estimated that the city by the Bay attracts roughly 16 million visitors each year, with Fisherman’s Wharf regularly remaining the most popular attraction in the city. Estimates put the number of people who visit the hotspot to between 12 and 15 million annually. There are a ton of things to see and do in the Bay area, many of which overlap with Fisherman’s Wharf, which may help explain why it is so popular.
6. Disneyland Park - Anaheim, California:
Photo Credit: Anna Fox
The original Disney Park in Anaheim, California opened its doors back in 1955 and has been a popular tourist spot ever since. Close to 15 million visitors per year go through the gates, hoping to catch a sight of Mickey Mouse and get on some of the iconic rides like Space Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean.
5. Disney World's Magic Kingdom, Orlando FL:
Photo Credit: Josh Hallett
There are a number of Disney attractions in Florida, like Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios, but none as popular as the Magic Kingdom. It certainly lives up to the billing as being the happiest place on Earth, especially if you take the time to hop aboard all of the thrilling rides in the theme park.
4. Boston Faneuil Hall Marketplace:
Photo Credit: 6SN7
Founded by wealthy Boston merchant Peter Faneuil in 1742, Faneuil Hall has played a part in the history of the country by being the place where famous speeches were made, much like the one that Samuel Adams made to colonists way back. While some come for the history of the place, many more come to give their credit cards a workout and do a little shopping. Despite the commercial side of the site, Faneuil Hall is still considered a cultural attraction.
3. Washington DC National Mall and Memorial Parks:
Photo Credit: ehpien
The National Mall and Memorial Parks is comprised of over 1000 acres of land and is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in the country. Those include the Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson Memorials, and the Korean and Vietnam War Veterans Memorials. You will also find the 19 museums that make up the Smithsonian institute nearby. Those museums alone draw roughly 25 million annual visitors.
2. The Las Vegas Strip, Nevada:
Photo Credit: fva2105
You may not quite see it when you are standing in the neon glow, but the Las Vegas strip is part of the federal government's National Scenic Byways Program. The qualities that land a street a spot on the list include archaeology, culture, history, scenery, and recreation. You can probably say that the last description suits the Vegas strip the best, especially since more than 30 million visitors descend upon Sin City each year in search of a little fun.
1. New York City Times Square:
Photo Credit: Terabass
The downward turn in the economy did little to halt the popularity of this ever popular Manhattan mecca of commerce. It is estimated that as many as 80% of the people who visit New York take the time to stop by Times Square. When you consider that the city gets about 47 million visitors each year, that translates to over 37 million annual visitors to Times Square.