• 10 October 2017

If there is one thing America is known for, it’s the immense character of its major cities. It’s here where the country truly comes to life. With 20 000+ metropolitan areas over its 52 states, there is something for every taste.

Planning a trip to the land of red, white & blue? Here’s our concise guide to her most famous cities. See what strikes your fancy and tailor your visit accordingly.

Orlando, Florida
Population: 277,173 | Area: 113.7 mi² | Approx. 68 million visitors annually

If it’s your first time in Orlando, theme parks should be at the top of your list. This is the city’s most famous drawing card. Visitors from all around the world flock here to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Not to mention Discovery Cove and Walt Disney World Resort! Universal Studios Florida and SeaWorld is also high on the list of top attractions. Water parks abound, so if you enjoy a good splash, Orlando is the place to be. There are also many wonderful museums to choose from, including Madame Tussauds and the Kennedy Space Center. Alternatively, head out of town to visit nearby nature reserves, or take a scenic boat tour in charming Winter Park.

Universal Studios (top left), Harry Potter World in Universal Studios (top right), Walt Disney World Resort (bottom left) and Kennedy Space Centre (bottom right).

New York City, New York
Population: 8.538 million | Area: 304.6 mi² | Approx. 60 million visitors annually

The Big Apple is arguably America’s best-loved city. Chances are, the idea you have of American cities in general is likely based on the look and feel of New York. It features in countless Hollywood movies. This city is a vibrant and bustling place, crammed with incredible things to see and do. In fact, you could spend a full month just exploring New York! However, very few of us have that luxury, so if you want to hit all the top spots, here’s your list: Central Park and the Statue of Liberty are the must-see sights, as are the 9/11 Memorial and Chrysler building. Also try to squeeze in a visit to Madison Square Garden and the Brooklyn Bridge. Round it all off with a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Lincoln Center.

Top Tip! A great way to explore and experience New York is to join one of the many walking tours!

Central Park with the New York city skyline surrounding it
Statue of Liberty is one of the most iconic sights in the US

Chicago, Illinois
Population: 2.705 million | Area: 234 mi² | Approx. 54,1 million visitors annually

When we think Chicago, we think deep-dish pizza, jazz music and 1920s gangsters like Al Capone. Top attractions include Millennium Park, where visitors can enjoy public art and free concerts. Wrigley Field and the 360° Chicago Observation deck also attract plenty of visitors each year. Shedd Aquarium and the Art Institute of Chicago are also very popular. Visitors can also take an interesting architecture river cruise or visit Navy Pier to enjoy iconic sights. Or go in search of glamorous souvenirs along the Magnificent Mile.

The Wrigley Field is home to the Chicago Cubs (left) and Millenium Park is home to the Cloud Gate sculpture

Los Angeles, California
Population: 3.976 million | Area: 503 mi² | Approx. 47.3 million visitors annually

LA, Lalaland, The City of Angels. Los Angeles is glitz and glamour made tangible. If you adore the silver screen and want to walk in the footsteps of your favorite stars, this is the place to be. Follow the Hollywood Walk of Fame and cruise down Rodeo Drive, visit Venice Beach Boardwalk and stroll through Getty Center. Indulge your inner child at Disneyland, or enjoy the buskers along Santa Monica Pier. Alternatively, watch an outdoor movie at the Hollywood Bowl, or take in the view from Griffith Park. Your options are endless!

Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles

Las Vegas, Nevada
Population: 632,912 | Area: 135.9 mi² | Approx. 42.9 million visitors annually

Out in the deserts of Nevada, Las Vegas is yet another iconic American destination. This man-made oasis is all about the good life. Travelers from all around the globe make their way here to try their luck on The Strip, at the city’s famous casinos. Of these, the Bellagio – with its striking fountains – is perhaps the most well-known. Another must-see destination in the vicinity is the astounding Hoover Dam. Nearby, the Red Rock National Conservation Area also offers an awe-inspiring experience.

The Strip in Las Vegas has spent a lot of time on the big screen!

San Francisco, California
Population: 864,816| Area: 46.87 mi² | Approx. 25,1 million visitors annually

San Francisco is a wonderfully scenic city with a lot of character. Its most iconic sight is definitely the well-known Golden Gate Bridge. Other popular destinations include Alcatraz and Pier 39. Not to mention the Exploratorium and the city’s renowned cable cars! Also be sure to research the foodie scene beforehand – ‘Frisco is known to be a culinary haven. Find your favorite restaurants and weave it into your San Fran adventure.

The cable cars in San Francisco are part of the world’s last manually operated cable car system.

Washington, D.C.
Population: 681,170 | Area: 68.34 mi² | Approx. 20 million visitors annually

History buffs assemble! Washington is the nation’s capital and the best place to enjoy its history and fascinating memorials. Get ready for the Lincoln Memorial and National Museum of History. Make your way to the US Capitol or visit the White House. And let’s not forget the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. Best of all – the city’s most famous sights are lit up at night, to striking effect. So, you could do a driving tour or river cruise to see it from that point of view.

Abraham Lincoln can be seen from his seat through the pillars in the Lincoln Memorial
The famous White House in Washington DC

These are just a few of the many wonderful cities that dot the marvelous US of A. There are many more! If you head over to the land of the free and the home of the brave, remember to make the most of your time there. It is such an inspiring destination, with so much to offer. Immerse yourself completely and you will return home a richer person, that’s for sure!

RELATED: You can join Expat Explore on a tour of the USA and Canada!