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10 Top US Attractions

With over 3,000 miles to explore from the west coast to the east coast, the United States is a massive country with endless opportunities for fun and excitement. And while every state has something unique to offer, a few U.S. attractions stand out from the rest.


If you’re planning a trip to see some of our nation’s finest sights be sure to add these 10 unmissable stops to your list.


The Grand Canyon, Arizona

Camping, hiking, guided tours — there are so many ways to explore the Grand Canyon. As the second most-visited U.S. national park (after the Great Smoky Mountains) this geological wonder traverses more than 278 miles of the Colorado River and the surrounding terrain.


Many of the Grand Canyon’s popular attractions are located along the South Rim. Visitors can enjoy a scenic drive through Desert View Drive, explore evidence of geological time on the Trail of Time, tour the park’s famous Historic District and ride the free shuttle on scenic Hermit Road. Alternatively, those looking to take the road less traveled might be interested in the North Rim, aka the ‘other side’ of the Grand Canyon. Here, travelers can hike Bright Angel Point — a 0.5-mile hike with dramatic views of nearby Roaring Springs and Bright Angel Canyons — or embark on a North Rim scenic drive with stops at Point Imperial and Cape Royal.



Of course, the Grand Canyon can get quite busy during peak travel seasons like spring break, summer, and the fall and winter holidays. That being said, the park is absolutely still worth a visit just be prepared for potential long waits at entrance stations and limited parking throughout the park.


Times Square, New York City

Referred to by Civitatis as ‘the liveliest area of New York City’, Times Square is the place to be for food, shopping, sightseeing and entertainment in NYC. While travelers will recognize this bustling spot for its colorful billboards, flashing lights and constant crowds (nearly 330,000 people each day), Times Square wasn’t always the tourist hotspot it is today. In fact, the area’s popularity didn’t take hold until the mid-90s to early 2000s thanks to a redevelopment project that resulted in the vibrant plaza that we see today.


There’s no shortage of things to do in Times Square, but there are a few highlights that are not to be missed. For example, travelers can marvel at the twinkling lights below when they embark on a journey to the top of the skyscraper at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, a 70-story building that offers incredible views of the Empire State Building and the sprawling cityscape. Those looking to get an up-close-and-personal look at show business might consider a live taping of a late-night show, several of which such as the Late Show With Stephen Colbert, the Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon and the Daily Show With Trevor Noah are filmed in studios adjacent to Times Square. Hot tip: reservations are required so keep an eye out a few months in advance if this is on your NYC bucket list.



Of course, broadway is another crowd pleaser and Times Square is the home base for many of New York City’s most famous broadway theaters. Those wondering how to snag Broadway tickets will be happy to know that it’s easier than ever with options to buy online, in person and over the phone.


Psst, travelers who are in NYC should be sure to swing by the Statue of Liberty while they’re in town as it’s another one of New York’s most iconic sights.


Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

The endcap of America’s beautiful west coast, California is home to one of the most charming cities in the country, San Francisco. Famous for its eclectic architecture, old-timey cable cars and exciting wharf, San Francisco is popular amongst tourists looking for a taste of California living. While the area has many popular sights — Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, China Town, Fisherman’s Wharf, Golden Gate Park — the most iconic landmark in the city is undoubtedly the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge.



Built in 1933, the Golden Gate Bridge connects San Francisco to Marin County, California. The bridge spans an impressive 1.7 miles over a mile-wide stretch of the Pacific Ocean referred to as the ‘Golden Gate’. Interestingly, the construction of this engineering marvel was quite the feat as construction crews took to unpredictable conditions to erect the roadway and iconic frame over the, sometimes treacherous, open water.


The bridge opened to the public in 1937 and has been a beloved landmark ever since. Today, travelers and locals alike can enjoy the Golden Gate Bridge in a variety of ways whether that be via a cruise through San Francisco Bay, an adventure at the Golden Gate Recreational Area or a stay at Cavallo Point.


Gateway Arch, St. Louis

In the midwest, travelers can see the world from a new perspective at St. Louis’ fabled Gateway Arch. Founded by the National Park Service in 1935, this unique monument was erected in honor of Thomas Jefferson’s vision of a transcontinental United States. The arch stands 630-feet tall and stretches from the St. Louis’ historic Old Courthouse to a set of stairs overlooking the beautiful Mississippi River.


Today, the Gateway Arch has taken on a new meaning as locals see it as a representation of the diversity of the people who have shaped not just the midwest, but the entire country. Inside, visitors will find exhibits that offer a special nod to famous figures such as Thomas Jefferson, Lewis and Clark, Dred and Harriet Scott and Virginia Minor.



Of course, one of the most exciting things about visiting the Gateway Arch is the journey to the top. 96 steps and a four-minute tram ride later, travelers can enjoy sweeping views (sometimes as far as 30 miles in all directions) of the surrounding landscape. Due to high demand, visits are limited to 10 minutes per person so be sure to soak it all in while you can.


Alternatively, check out the gate from below with a St. Louis Riverfront Cruise or from high above on an epic helicopter tour.


Las Vegas Strip, Las Vegas

With bright lights, endless entertainment and extravagantly themed hotels, there’s a reason Las Vegas is referred to as the ultimate playground. And while there are still plenty of opportunities for travelers to partake in “traditional” Vegas activities — think testing one’s luck at a blackjack table or getting hitched by an Elvis impersonator — today’s Sin City isn’t exactly the same as your grandma might remember it. Instead, the Gambling Capital of the World has undergone something of a rebrand over the past few years making it brighter, bolder and tastier for every type of traveler.


But before we get into that, there are a few must-do experiences when visiting the infamous Las Vegas Strip. For example, travelers won’t want to miss the Fountains of Bellagio, an impressive water show timed to lights and music. Also worth noting is the half-sized replica of the Eiffel Tower at the Paris hotel, fabulous Fremont Street and the thrill-inducing observation deck at the Stratosphere Tower. Finally, for an Insta-perfect photo op, be sure to snap a pic or two at the legendary “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign located at the southern-most end of the strip.



New and notable is the city’s rise to culinary fame as Las Vegas has become one of the foodie capitals of the world. Here, travelers can feast on dishes created by celebrity chefs the likes of Gordan Ramsay, Guy Fieri, Bobby Flay, Giada de Laurentiis and more. Then, there are the local chefs who shaped the Vegas dining scene over the years like Michael Mina, Guy Savoy and Nobu Matsuhisa. Of course, there are plenty of options for dining in the city that won’t break the bank, too with affordable dishes crafted with Mexican, Asian, American and European influences.


When it comes to fun, the possibilities are truly limitless. Are you into art? Visit a local art gallery or check out an immersive exhibit. Do you want to learn something? Visit a museum or take a tour — Shelby American, Inc., Pinball Hall of Fame and Zak Bagans’ Haunted Museum come to mind. Or, perhaps you’re looking for more traditional Vegas activities like gambling or a show by Cirque de Soleil, whatever you’re into, chances are Vegas has it.


Florida Keys, Florida

Travelers hoping to experience a taste of island life on the mainland will love the Florida Keys. An archipelago consisting of approximately 1,700 islands, the Florida Keys stretch over 180 miles with 42 bridges — the most notable of which is the Seven Mile Bridge — connecting each key to the next. Of the many islands to choose from, a handful are the most visited by tourists including Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine Key and Key West. While each key emits laid-back energy, they all have a distinct personality making it important for travelers with limited time to know which activities they’re itching to try the most.


For adventures close to Miami, check out Key Largo an island famous for its epic snorkeling, glass-bottom boat tours and abundant wildlife. Key Largo is also home to several state parks such as John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park and Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Those looking to experience deep-sea fishing will love Islamorada, the sportfishing capital of the world where creatures of the deep are always ready to bite. Also in Islamorada are the Morada Way Arts and Cultural District and beautiful Anne’s Beach.



Speaking of beaches, Marathon is the spot to be for beach bums and sun-worshippers. The two most notable spots are Sombrero Beach and Coco Plum Beach, each of which is open to the public year-round. Travelers looking to get in touch with nature will love nearby Big Pine Key, a comparably quiet region with fewer people and fewer antics. Instead of partying, travelers come here to visit places like Bahia Honda State Park and National Key Deer Refuge.


Finally, there’s Key West, the southernmost city in the continental U.S. Colorful and vibrant, this coastal city is perfect for eating, drinking and soaking up the sun. Notable attractions include the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, the residence of a clowder of six-toed cats that are descendants of Snow White Hemingway. Also on the island are the Audubon House, the Key West Historical Society and the Southernmost Point Buoy.


U.S. Capitol, Washington DC

Washington DC is one of the most visited cities in the country and is certainly worth adding to your travel bucket list. As an important site for American history and government, there are a wide variety of museums, monuments and significant spots waiting to be explored. What’s more, Washington DC is world-renowned for its art collections, cultural attractions and culinary scene making it a place of interest for many travelers. Best of all, several of these famous points of interest are free and open to the public.


While DC is small, it is undoubtedly a metropolis, travelers looking to get their bearings might consider kicking their vacation off with a trolley tour (by daylight or by moonlight) of the city. Tour operators like Old Town Trolley Tours offer guided tours of the city with stops at popular sites like Ford’s Theater, the White House, the U.S. Capitol, the U.S. Supreme Court, Tidal Basin, the Martin Luther King Junior Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and more.



As mentioned above, one of DC’s main attractions is its plethora of museums. Curated by the Smithsonian Institution, there are a total of 17 Smithsonian museums and galleries in the city including the Natural History Museum, the Air and Space Museum and the American History Museum. While many Smithsonian museums are located along the National Mall, the collection is spread throughout the city and those who make the trek off the beaten path can enjoy collections such as the National Zoo and the Postal Museum.


Another free and historical site worth visiting is the National Archives. Here, travelers can get an up-close-and-personal look at several important documents including the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.


Zion National Park, Utah

While Utah may not be the first state to come to mind when you think of vacation, its dramatic scenery makes it the perfect destination for nature lovers. The Beehive State is home to several scenic parks including Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Canyonlands National Park and more. However, there’s one natural beauty that will really blow your socks off, Zion National Park.


Established in 1919, Zion National Park plays host to over 229 square miles of sprawling red rock landscape. The terrain is almost otherworldly with sky-high plateaus, colorful canyons, lush vegetation and picture-perfect waterfalls. And geographical wonders aren’t the only thing that draws more than four million visitors each year, the park is also a safe haven for archeological treasures such as ancient pictographs and petroglyphs.



Inside, there are plenty of things to do, from horseback riding to rock climbing, there’s something for everyone. Travelers looking to see Zion’s most iconic sights will want to join a shuttle tour along Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, a road that offers views of the famous Angels Landing and the Narrows. Alternatively, travelers can also opt to bike the route for a more immersive experience. Another famous road within the park is the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, a narrow drive that is famed for its easy access to Canyon Overlook Trail.


French Quarter, New Orleans

Beignets, European-inspired architecture, jazz and spooky vibes, what’s not to love about charming New Orleans? Pair this with incredible southern flavors and raging parties — on Mardi Gras and every day of the year — and we can only be talking about one place, the French Quarter.


Of course one of the first places to come to mind when someone mentions the French Quarter is Bourbon Street, a 13-block stretch with a reputation for being perpetually buzzed. And while the party is certainly always hopping, Bourbon street has more to offer than just booze. In fact, travelers will find several noteworthy sites along this vibrant stretch including the Olde Absinthe House, the Mardi Gras Museum at Arnaud’s, Musical Legends Park, Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo and more.



While some might consider Burbon Street to be Crescent City’s main drag, it’s certainly not the only part of the French Quarter that’s worth exploring. In fact, an adventure along the surrounding blocks will unveil unmissable sights like Jackson Square park, the charming streetcar of St. Charles Avenue and famous cemeteries like St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. Guided tours are a great way to see the city, of which NOLA has many including culinary tours, Mississippi River tours, ghost tours and more. TV fans can even embark on a self-guided tour of filming sites from American Horror Story as many scenes from the third season, Coven, were recorded here.


The Bean, Chicago

What’s flashy and metallic and weighs roughly the same as 15 adult elephants? Chicago’s magnificent bean of course! The Bean, aka Cloud Gate, is one of those attractions that make you ask, “why?” However, as random as it may seem, there’s no denying that The Bean offers a certain amount of allure.


The Bean is a work of public art located in downtown Chicago’s Millennium Park and while to the average onlooker the sculpture might look like, well, a bean, the creator of the piece named the work Cloud Gate in honor of its curved underside that serves as an entrance to the park. The Bean’s reflective, polished surface is almost irresistible to touch, or take a selfie with for that matter, giving it an interactive quality that attracts visitors far and wide.



A quick stroll through Millennium Park reveals several thought-provoking art installations like Crown Fountain, an interactive fountain that displays digital videos, sometimes of faces of Chicago residents showering onlookers with a stream of water from their puckered lips. Also inside is Lurie Garden, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Maggie Daley Park and the Boeing Galleries.


Thanks to The Bean’s close proximity to Lake Michigan, the sculpture is nearby several must-see attractions in the Windy City. Travelers can explore the Art Institute of Chicago, take a stroll along the Chicago River Walk, catch a show at the Chicago Theather or test their nerves with a journey to SkyDeck Chicago, an all-glass observation deck gazing down at the city below from the 103rd floor of Willis Tower.


For help booking trips and tours to any one of these amazing US destinations please call or email today. 763-340-9432 or travel@wanderinwonders.com


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