Top 10 Tourist Attractions of USA

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The United States of America – just the mention of this super power has the world thinking about the veritable opportunities it offers and the amazing world of entertainment it contains. Touted widely as the land of dreams, USA stands as the most visited nation in terms of international tourist arrivals, which in 2011 was 62.3 millions! There is so much to see and do that we do not have space to list them all, so we are contenting ourselves with the top 10, shortlisted based on number of visitors, importance and magnificence of each attraction.

10. Golden Gate National Recreational Area

The world’s largest urban national park, the Golden Gate National Recreational Area is studded with historic monuments, lush greenery, water bodies and an amazingly diverse wildlife including hawks and deer, bobcats and whales. Tour the infamous Alcatraz Prison, the military outpost at Presidio of San Francisco; enjoy a walk amongst the world’s tallest living things set against an exceptionally scenic backdrop at the Muir Woods National Monument; relax and sunbathe at the Muir Beach; travel to Lands End for some more scenic vistas and surf at the Ocean Beach. There is so much to do here; with something for everyone, the Golden Gate National Recreational Area is by and far, a deserving finalist in the list of Top 10 attractions of USA.

Golden Gate National Recreational Area

9. The Grand Canyon

A visit to the Grand Canyon is just what you need to appreciate the magnificent creations that nature comes up with if left to its own without any human intervention, or should we say destruction. Rocks slowly eroded over the millennia glow in wonderful colours, be it day or night; the Colorado River gushes below; and as far as you can see, the Canyon stretches in a milieu of formations and colours. Walk the Skywalk at the West Rim; sign up for a Helicopter Tour; enjoy a boat ride or a rafting expedition; or hike through the inner gorge. Over 5 million visitors visit the Grand Canyon every year, thereby, giving the Grand Canyon an edge over natural attractions as one of the top 10 attractions of USA.

The Grand Canyon

8. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

With over 9.5 million visitors, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States of America. Black bears, salamanders, racoons, white-tailed deer, chipmunks and other wildlife find a home here. Wildlife apart, the flora is unbelievably beautiful with blossoms covering the forests throughout the year and especially during springs and summers. Added to the natural attractions, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is immersed in Southern Appalachian History as you can see in the 80+ historic buildings preserved in their pristine state in these woods. Waterfalls and wildflowers, historic buildings and wildlife, breathtaking sunrises and sunsets and much more await you here. Ride a horse, book an auto tour, rent a bicycle or trust your own legs to take you up and down this magnificent setting.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

7. Las Vegas Strip

The unrivalled casino capital of the world, Las Vegas offers an experience like none other and the Strip simply dazzles. A 6.8 kilometre stretch just outside of Las Vegas City, the Las Vegas Strip is home to some of the most opulent casinos, some of the largest hotels in the world and a wealth of attractions. Revel in the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas as you stroll down the Strip past iconic hotels, casinos and topless bars; try your hand in some legalized gambling; and enjoy some fantastic shows and cabarets by world-renowned groups such as the Cirque du Soleil. Apart from paid attractions, there are a wealth of free attractions such as the famous ‘Bellagio Fountains’, ‘Bellagio Conservatory’ and ‘Volcano at the Mirage’.

Las Vegas Strip

6. Smithsonian Institutions – Air and Space Museum

The National Air and Space Museum is one of the most visited museums in the USA with a footfall of about 6.8 million. Along with its companion facility, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Centre, the National Air and Space Museum hold the largest collection of aviation and space artefacts in the world. Touch a rock from Moon and view the machines that created history in aviation and space including the original Wright 1903 flyer, the first successfully powered aircraft in the world and the Spirit of St. Louis, the first aircraft to fly non-stop from New York to Paris! The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Centre has the aviation machinery hanging from the ceilings! Do visit this museum for an insight into man’s most magnificent achievements – after all, the world would not have become such a small place if it had not been for these technological inventions.

Smithsonian Institutions Air and Space Museum

5. National Mall and the Memorial Parks, Washington DC

Visited by over 25 million visitors every year, the National Mall is a 3-kilometer long stretch of greenery flanked by the US Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial and interspersed with iconic landmarks such as the Washington Monument, World War II Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Apart from being an open-air exhibit of some of the most important events of American History, it is also the setting stage where history is created with events such as presidential inaugurations and civil right demonstrations. Free guided tours led by park rangers give visitors a unique experience of the National Mall and the Memorial Parks.

National Mall and the Memorial Parks Washington DC

4. Niagara Falls

Straddling the nations of Canada and USA, the mighty Niagara Falls is an exemplary testimony to nature’s stunning handicrafts and dominates the itineraries of tourists in both the nations. Over 25 million visitors visited the Niagara Falls in 2011 making it one of the top 5 attractions of USA. Almost 750,000 gallons of lovely green water cascade down the Niagara Falls each second. Get close to the falls with the Cave of the Winds Tour, which involves a deep descent and a walk along the river for a front seat view of the magnificent cascades, just 20 feet away! Alternatively or additionally, set sail aboard the historic Maid of the Mist boat, which sails to the basin of the falls on the Canadian Side for an up-and-close experience that you will cherish lifelong – as attested by generations of tourists in the past 150 years.

Niagara Falls

3. Universal Orlando Resort Theme Parks- Universal

As famous as it major competitor, the Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando offer holidaymakers, kids and adults alike a fascinating view into the world of movies and legends. The Universal’s Island of Adventure is as adventurous as it gets with movie-based attractions and rides such as the ‘Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man’ and ‘The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’. In the Universal Studios, go behind the scenes at the world’s first movie and TV based theme park with a real, working production facility; enjoy spine-tingling action with thrilling rides such as the ‘Revenge of the Mummy’; and be a part of real action on the sets of ‘Fear Factor Live’. For young guests, the park offers rides such as ‘E.T. Adventure’, shows such as ‘A Day in the Park with Barney’ and plenty of themed play areas.

Universal Orlando Resort Theme Parks Universal

2. Walt Disney World Orlando

The second most visited attraction in the United States of America and the most visited theme park in the whole world, the world of Walt Disney is a land of endless fantasies, where the Disney characters come alive in a frenzy of activities; marvellous rides take you to new heights of excitement; and everything you do or see is magical. In the Magic Kingdom, tour the iconic Cinderella Castle and revel in the magic of the Disney Parade and its fantastic fireworks. In Epcot, travel across 11 countries in the World Showcase or find yourself in a futuristic world. In Disney’s Hollywood Studios, explore the universe and unravel the secrets they possess with the Star Tours. And, explore the Animal Kingdom with safaris, treks, exploration trails, rapids, mountain expeditions and much more.

Walt Disney World Orlando

1. Times Square

With over 37 million tourists each year, the Times Square in New York City is the most popular square in the world and the most visited tourist spot in USA. Touted as the Crossroads of the World and the Great White Way, the Times Square is where New York has its most famous shopping and entertainment venues and celebrates its major events including New Year with a blast. Fulfil your shopping dreams at top brands; enjoy browsing through the weirdest oddities of the world at Ripley’s Believe It or Not, rub shoulders with the who’s who of the world at Madame Tussauds; and discover the land of legends at Discovery Times Square. Enliven the evenings with Broadway or simply indulge in people watching.

Times Square

Conclusion

As you saw, this vast country holds the keys to a veritable wealth of fantasies – on just about every level. Revel in the land of fantasies at the magical Disney World; allow the magnificence of nature to engulf your senses at the Grand Canyon and the Niagara Falls; and give your wild side a free reign at Las Vegas. Plan your travel itinerary well and in the case of the theme parks, get your tickets online – preferably get a FASTPASS or an equivalent to avoid the queues, which in some cases might be miles long, although well worth the wait. For the most pleasurable experience, wait for summer – the crowds might be larger, but that is when you can truly enjoy the best experiences. Have a great time in USA.

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