America is one of those countries that offer something for everyone. Its attractions include everything from natural landmarks, to man-made glitz and glamour. Here are eleven of our favourites to inspire your next US tour. We’ve also made a note of the best time of year to visit. This is a useful way to decide when to schedule your tour.
1. Grand Canyon, Arizona
Where is it: Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Best time to visit: March through May, and September through November -daytime temperatures are cooler and crowds less.
The Grand Canyon gets 6 million + visitors each year, and with good reason. It is awe-inspiring. The canyon was carved by the mighty Colorado River over millions of years. It may not be the deepest or the longest, but it is vastly beautiful. Visitors can look forward to a stunningly scenic landscape. At 1.6 km (1 mile) and 446 km (277 miles) long, there is lots of beauty to look forward to. It’s also one of the stops along the Route 66!
2. Times Square, NY
Where is it: Junction of Broadway & Seventh Avenue, Midtown Manhattan, New York City
Best time to visit: During working hours if your prefer smaller crowds. After 8pm at night if you want to experience the buzz. Sightseeing peaks in NY between May and September.
Times Square received 60 million visitors in 2016. It’s so popular it even has its own Twitter account! US visitors flock here to soak up the city’s electric vibe. The square hosts an annual New Year’s Eve party that is broadcast worldwide. It is a great place to shop and do walking tours. There are also many museums in the vicinity. This includes the Museum of Modern Art and Madame Tussauds NY.
3. Walt Disney World, Orlando
Where is it: Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando, Florida
Best time to visit: March to May for pleasant weather, lower hotel rates and better airfare prices. The park also has fewer crowds. For more in-depth info, check this post.
Every child who has ever seen a Disney movie dreams of visiting Walt Disney World. It also happens to be a very fun place to visit for grownups! This popular destination is made up of several different theme parks. More than 52 million visitors a year make their way to enjoy a variety of entertainments. This includes rides and activities at five separate venues. The Magic Kingdom is perhaps the most famous. Hollywood Studios and Epcot also attract lots of crowds. Animal Kingdom and Blizzard Beach are wonderful outdoor destinations. Oh, and did we mention you can shop and see Broadway-quality shows as well? It’s a thrill a minute at Walt Disney World!
4. Central Park, NY
Where is it: Manhattan, New York City
Best time to visit: Between April and June, and September and early-November, the weather is mild in NY.
Central Park is one of the most popular urban parks in the world. It receives more than 40 million visitors a year! This beautiful destination also happens to be one of the most filmed locations on the planet. You might have seen it in movies like Smurfs, Men in Black III and The Avengers. The park covers 778 acres (315 ha) and has many lakes, sculptures and structures. There are also leisure tours and restaurants to enjoy.
5. Statue of Liberty, NY
Where is it: Liberty Island, New York Harbour, New York
Best time to visit: Travelling on the cheap? Visit on weekends between mid-January and the end of February in NY.
The full name of this famous statue is ‘Liberty Enlightening the World’. It was a gift from the people of France to the United States in 1886. These days it is a global symbol of freedom and democracy. Here you can experience a piece of history and enjoy wonderful views of New Jersey and New York. The ferry ride over is also a treat. And it happens to be one of the city’s most affordable outings. While you’re at it, visit Ellis Island right next door. It’s free to enter and there’s lots to explore. This is a wonderful way to learn more about immigration to the US over the centuries.
6. Golden Gate Bridge, California
Where is it: San Francisco, California
Best time to visit: September and October for beautiful, often warm weather. Your biggest worry is fog, which renders the bridge invisible. This is most likely to occur between July and August.
The Golden Gate Bridge is an iconic suspension bridge between San Francisco and Marin County. It is recognised the world over and draws visitors from far and wide. How you visit it depends on what type of experience you want. If you want a striking picture, walk along the banks from the welcome centre. There is a hiking trail. Alternatively, you could rent a bicycle and cycle across. Or join in a historic walking tour! Here’s a great post to get you started.
7. Yosemite National Park, California
Where is it: California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains
Best time to visit: Between March & May when spring is in the air. For waterfalls, visit in May!
Yosemite National Park is a must-see for any nature lover. It is simply breathtaking. Its exceptional scenery ranges from granite cliffs to cascading waterfalls, and ancient sequoia trees. The most popular part of the park is Yosemite Valley. This is where you can see the Half Dome (a huge granite monolith), as well as the thundering Yosemite Falls.
8. Empire State Building, NY
Where is it: on Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, New York City
Best time to visit: The view from the Empire State Building is phenomenal – you can buy a Sunrise Experience and arrive at 5am before the crowd. Or you could take the lift after 21:00 and perhaps even hear the saxophonist perform.
The Empire State Building has its own Twitter account and the website gives visitors live ‘waiting time’ updates – so you can look at queue time before heading that way. You can take the lift to the 102nd floor any day of the year between 8am and 2pm. It doesn’t matter what time of day you go – the view promises to be mesmerising. Although, if the clouds decide to roll in, you won’t see much of the city below.
Fun Fact! The Chrysler Building used to be the tallest building in the world for a mere 11 months before it was surpassed by the Empire State Building in 1931.
9. Yellowstone National Park, located in the U.S. states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho
Where is it: 3,500 square mile wilderness recreation area across Wyoming, Montana & Idaho
Best time to visit: April to May, September to November (mild weather, fewer crowds)
This gigantic park also happens to be the world’s first ever national park. It was set aside by the government in 1987. Their aim was to safeguard the hot springs, geysers and thermal areas (more than 10 000 in all!) within its bounds. There is also a wealth of wildlife that call Yellowstone home. This includes bears, elk, bison and wolves. The flora is just as spectacular. Think cool, alpine rivers and dramatic canyons. It’s as picture perfect as it gets.
10. The White House, Washington, DC
Where is it: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC
Best time to visit: Great indoor destination year round, even in winter and at the height of summer. Visit in July to enjoy the Independence Day festivities or in December to see the city clad in lights.
Constructed between 1792 and 1800, The White House is the official residence of the President of the United States. It takes some planning to tour the White House. Requests have to submitted up to three months in advance. These are granted on a first come, first served basis and limited slots are available. So, if you want to go inside, you have to get your name on that list way in advance. Otherwise, you can join a walking tour of the city. Or you can enjoy a driving tour at night to see the city’s iconic sights illuminated. Either way, you’ll see this striking building in passing.
11. Las Vegas Strip, Nevada
Where is it: Las Vegas Boulevard, between Sahara Avenue and Russell Road
Best time to visit: It gets hot in the desert! Shoulder season is your best bet. Visit between March and May, or September and November.
Las Vegas is one of the most famous gambling destinations in the world. It’s all about glitz and glamour and enormous casinos. There are also many venues where you can see exceptional live shows. Most of the fanciest hotels and casinos are located along the famous Vegas strip. Here you can soak up the city’s lively atmosphere.
These are just a few of the iconic landmarks throughout the United States. Expat Explore USA tours are tailored to give you an awesome overview of this great country. You could even combine it with a trip up north to neighboring Canada! No matter when or how you visit the USA, it’s always a life-changing experience. Start planning your bucket-list trip today.