The Most Popular Tourist Attraction in Every State
Whether you feel like taking a road trip, or you just need some fun facts to add to your dinner party, you’ll enjoy this list of popular tourist attractions.
Alabama: Alabama Gulf Coast Beaches
If Alabama wasn’t the location for your next summer beach vacation, you may want to reconsider. There are 32 miles of white sand made from quartz grains that have washed down from the Appalachian Mountains thousands of years. That’s probably why over six million people visit Alabama’s Gulf Coast beaches annually. Be sure to check out the best bucket list idea from every state.
Alaska: Kenai Fjords Wildlife Cruise
Alaska is the place to go for spotting breathtaking wildlife. In fact, the amount of visitors who travel to Alaska to see wildlife has increased 45 percent. The Kenai Fjords Wildlife Cruise will bring you up close to whales, sea lions, and puffins. A five-hour trip that starts at noon and covers 55 miles of sea, it will be the best $98 you ever spent; it is also listed at the top of 15 best things to do in Alaska by Trip Advisor.
Arizona: Grand Canyon
People from all over the world flock to the Grand Canyon for its overwhelming natural grandeur, and to experience its hiking, rafting, and camping adventures; nearly five million people trek through it each year. But if you want to avoid the crowds while getting some of the best views possible, avoid the South Rim and check out the North Rim. It’s much more isolated, provides cooler summer temperatures, and is largely shut down in the winter, save for backcountry camping and cross-country skiing. Don’t miss these gorgeous photos of America’s national parks.
Arkansas: Hot Springs National Park
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Skip the beach and opt for a new type of relaxation at Hot Springs National Park. It’s America’s oldest national preserve and the smallest national park, and it’s the number one emerging vacation destination in the country according to Priceline during a CBS interview. If you want to do like the locals, head to Buckstaff Baths, which offers separate floors for men and women to experience the natural healing waters. There’s a no-reservation policy, perfect for spontaneous travelers rolling through. Doors open at 8 a.m., so get there early! You’ll also want to check out the 10 most gorgeous hot springs around the world.
California: The Golden Gate Bridge
Get your cameras ready when you travel to California because you don’t want to miss out on the amazing sight that is the Golden Gate Bridge. A study done by a professor at Indiana University found that this bridge is actually the world’s most photographed bridge.
Colorado: Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park is just a few miles from the town of Estes Park and is the ideal locale for nature lovers with mesmerizing mountain peaks, shimmering alpine lakes, meadows, forests, and hoards of wildlife. No wonder it draws more than four million visitors a year. To avoid the heavy summer crowds, the best time to go is late May until early June, or just after Labor Day until mid-October. If you’re looking for an unusual place to stay, check out the Daoist Wellness Resort with Oxygen Bar.
Connecticut: Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History
Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History is a must stop if you’re cruising nearby Yale University. It’s a history buff’s playground, with comprehensive collections including New England birds, dinosaurs, Greek and Roman antiquities, and even an Egyptian mummy. In fact, Smithsonian Magazine called it the “Sistine Chapel of Evolution.” Adults pay $13 for entry, but if you want to visit for free, go on a Thursday, when the Museum offers pay as you wish admission from 2 to 5 p.m. from September through June. (Donations are encouraged, but admission is technically free.) Don’t miss the best free tourist attraction in every state.
Delaware: Rehoboth Beach
If a long weekend of summer fun filled with crabbing, swimming, and tax-free shopping sounds like your thing, book a beach house on Rehoboth Beach. It’s an East Coaster haven that fills up in the summertime—and is delightful in the fall, too. Be sure to get locally grown goods at the farmer’s market held every Tuesday from noon to 4 p.m. and grab a brew at the popular Dogfish Head pub on Rehoboth Avenue. Can’t catch the market? Check out an Eating Rehoboth walking tour, which is the top rated thing to do in Delaware by Trip Advisor.
Florida: Disney World
Disney World is a Florida staple that you have to visit at least once in your lifetime. It’s so popular that Orlando has broken the record for the city with the most tourists. If you’ve been to all four parks, then be sure to check out the newest addition: Pandora–The World of Avatar in Animal Kingdom and Toy Story Land in Hollywood Studios. And if lines aren’t your thing, the resort offers something it calls VIP Tour Services. While it’s kind of kept hush-hush, and it costs a pretty penny, it’s your golden ticket to hopping on rides without the line, door-to-door transportation without the parking fees and waits, and more. Prefer to keep costs in check? Start with these 14 money-saving tips for your Disney vacation.
Georgia: Georgia Aquarium
The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta is one of the largest aquariums in the world, and it’s home to whale sharks, sea otters, jellyfish and lots more that live in over 10 million gallons of water combined. A visit to the Georgia Aquarium also means you’re supporting their research and rehabilitation efforts for animals like sea turtles and sea lions. Over two million guests visit the aquarium each year. Buy tickets in advance online to avoid long lines during the weekends.
Hawaii: Pearl Harbor and USS Arizona Memorial
This memorial, dedicated to those who perished on the USS Arizona during World War II, stands above the remains of the sunken ship and is the number one visitor destination in Hawaii. Begin at the Visitors Center for information on the Harbor and the Japanese attack, and then take a ferry shuttle out to the memorial. If you’re one of the first 1,300 people to arrive when the site opens at 7 a.m., you can score a free ticket for tours. If you’d rather sleep in, be sure to purchase a ticket ahead of time, arrive as early as possible (tours begin at 8 a.m. and run every 15 minutes until 3 p.m.), and leave enough room in your schedule for the various other attractions, including the USS Bowfin submarine, the USS Missouri ship, and the Pacific Aviation Museum.
Idaho: Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
This 400-square-foot preserve is your ticket to exploring the great outdoors in Idaho like you never have before. It’s a trending adventure on the official Visit Idaho site because of its popularity. Composed of three young lava fields that spread across 500,000 acres of wild country on the Snake River Plain, deep cracks resulting from erupted lava have created what is known as the Great Rift. Be sure to hike Caves Trail, a 1.6-mile hike that visits four lava tubes. Visit during shoulder seasons of spring and fall to avoid extreme temperatures.
Illinois: Millennium Park
The touristy lure of Chicago’s Millennium Park is filled with modern architecture and public art, including Cloud Gate, aka The Bean, a giant bean-like sculpture that reflects the city’s skyline. While there’s sure to be a large crowd here all jostling to snap a photo (the location has broken records with the number of visitors it has), take a breather and check out the Lurie Garden, which is separated from the city by a 15-foot-high hedge consisting of conifers and deciduous trees. Here, you’ll find a secret garden filled with perennials, shrubs, grasses, and trees, as well as a special treat of tulips, cherry blossoms, and daffodils in spring. Find out the best-kept secret in every state.
Indiana: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
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Every Memorial Day weekend, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway comes alive with the best drivers in the world for the Indy 500. Making it there for the race means a weekend of activities: the race, the parties, the celebrities, and everything in between. The rest of the year, the speedway remains one of the most popular tourist spots, thanks to its Speedway Hall of Fame, golf course, and the chance to drive a real Indy car on the track!
Iowa: Field of Dreams filming location
Located in Dyersville, the Field of Dreams film kept things real by opting out of a fake Hollywood set, and instead filming at the Lansing Family Farm in Iowa. Relive the 1980s baseball cult classic at the farmhouse and baseball field that are open to visitors. Even cooler? The Field of Dreams home is now available for nightly rentals! This place is one of the top-rated tourist attractions in the state. Find out the most iconic movie set in every state.
Kansas: Monroe Elementary School
Take a step back in history to visit the former Monroe Elementary School in Topeka. It was once one of four all-black elementary schools in the area that sparked the Supreme Court case that ended segregation in public schools. It has since been turned into the Brown V. National Board of Education Historic site, an experiential Civil Rights museum run by the National Park Service. It’s a sobering, but important look back at American history.
Kentucky: Kentucky Bourbon Trail
If you’re a fan of Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, or Wild Turkey, then the Kentucky Bourbon Trail is for you. See and taste the only alcohol that is distinctive to the United States. Consisting of ten distilleries, you’ll want to spread your visit across several days (some are 70 miles apart) or scale it down to just your favorites. A popular route begins in Louisville, heads southeast toward Springfield, and ends in Lexington. Be sure to check out the oldest bar and oldest restaurant in Kentucky along the way, Talbott Tavern in Bardstown.
Louisiana: Bourbon Street/French Quarter
The French Quarter’s Bourbon Street is the spot for jazz, Cajun and Creole cuisine, and of course, Mardi Gras. But if you want to avoid the most popular festivals, while still getting fair weather, head to New Orleans after Mardi Gras (February or March) and before Jazz Fest (late April/early May). September to November is another mellow season when the heat and humidity have died down. If you’re looking for something the locals love, even in the hustle and bustle of the French Quarter, check out Fritzel’s European Jazz Pub. You won’t find the usual cover bands here, just some classic nightly jazz shows. With over 10 million visitors, New Orleans is always breaking Louisiana tourism records. You should also check out these 50 incredible places you can actually stay in overnight.
Maine: Acadia National Park
Maine is brimming with opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors, and one of the best is Acadia National Park. Relish in the hidden beaches sunrises over Cadillac Mountain in the park’s 47,000 unspoiled acres. With over two million visitors annually, Acadia is one of the most visited national parks in the country. For an intense hike, check out Precipice Trail, which features narrow ledges, switchbacks, and a 1,000-foot vertical climb to the top. Top off your trip with an authentic seafood shack experience at Stewman’s Lobster Pound.
Maryland: Annapolis/U.S. Naval Academy
Dubbed the sailing capital of the nation, the city’s historic district includes 18th-century brick houses, the Maryland State Capitol building, and breathtaking architecture, monuments and a naval history museum at the United States Naval Academy. It’s listed as a popular point of interest on the official Annapolis tourist website. Annapolis is also home to the state’s oldest bar, Middleton Tavern, which was once the hangout for the Continental Congress and our founding fathers, including George Washington, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson. These days, people come here for the famous Maryland crab cakes.
Massachusetts: Faneuil Hall Marketplace
Faneuil Hall dates back to the early 1740s when it served as Boston’s market hall and public meeting space, where the colonists gathered to protest British taxes, among other concerns. By the mid-19th century, it became the place for anti-slavery meetings and rallies. Now, it’s one of the most visited tourist attractions in the United States, let alone Massachusetts. The entire Faneuil Hall Marketplace is made up of nearby market halls Quincy Market, North Market, and South Market, and is constantly bustling with tourists, buskers, nine-to-fivers on their lunch breaks, and foodies alike. Top eats include a lobster roll from Anthem Kitchen + Bar, New England clam chowder from Boston Chowda Company, and cupcakes from Wicked Good Cupcakes.
Michigan: Henry Ford Museum
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America’s industrial period is revived at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn and welcomes about two million visitors annually. Here, 12-acres offer a mesmerizing collection of antique machinery, automobiles, locomotives, the rocking chair that Abraham Lincoln was sitting in when he was shot, the first car Ford ever built, the Rosa Parks bus, and the Lincoln JFK was riding in when he was assassinated. For a unique experience, head next to the museum to Greenfield Village, where you can purchase a ride pass and take unlimited rides on a restored Model T, horse-drawn vehicles, the carousel, and a Model AA Bus.
Minnesota: Mall of America
Before online shopping and Amazon delivering products right to your door, people left their homes to go shopping in person. Window shopping and carrying bags through the mall was definitely a favorite pastime for some. In 1992 when the Mall of America opened it became the largest mall in the United States. Even today, people love visiting the mall. About 40 million tourists come to the center every year. Beyond shopping, there’s the Nickelodeon Universe theme park, an aquarium, mini golf course, a movie theater, and seriously so much more.
Mississippi: Vicksburg National Military Park
During what’s considered one of the greatest battles of the Civil War, Vicksburg experienced a 47-day siege that resulted in more than 20,000 casualties and ended with the Union taking control of the Mississippi River. History buffs flock to this site, where you can visit 1,325 monuments, 20 miles of trenches, and tour the restored USS Cairo, which was the first U.S. ship to be sunk by a torpedo in 1862. The National Park Service has reported that over half a million visitors come to this site every year. To make the most of your experience, book a professional guide to take you back in time and show you all about civilian life, military operations of the campaign, siege, and defense of Vicksburg.
Missouri: Gateway Arch
This Gateway to the West and ode to St. Louis, the Gateway Arch was erected in the 1960s. Today, it remains an iconic monument among the city’s skyline. Witness the nation’s tallest monument in an all-inclusive experience with the Tram & Cruise Combo, which offers entry to the arch facility, a tram ride to the top of the arch for panoramic views, a documentary movie, and a Mississippi River cruise.
Montana: Yellowstone River whitewater rafting
A trip to Yellowstone National Park means a chance to view native wildlife, from bison to bears, pelicans, and moose. The best way to cover a lot of ground is a whitewater raft trip down the Yellowstone River, the last major undammed river in the lower 48 states, which flows an incredible 671 miles from its source southeast of Yellowstone all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. The rafting opportunities are top-notch; Yellowstone Raft Company prides itself on being the only outfitter fully permitted by both the National Park Service and the National Forest Service to run trips on the Yellowstone River. Try a safe and fun half or full day of adventure at one of the country’s top five most visited national parks. If you’re a thrill seeker, check out the most extreme travel adventures in the world.
Nebraska: Chimney Rock
Chimney Rock is the result of erosion along the bluffs on the southern edge of the North Platte River Valley with a 325-foot spire made of rock towering over the plains. Discover a part of history where over 300 settlers moving west described the landmark in travel journals, making it Nebraska’s most recognizable landmark. Designated a National Historic Site in 1956, the several million-year-old site is a must visit, along with a stop to the Chimney Rock Visitor Center. Admission is $3 for adults, and it gives you the opportunity to enjoy museum exhibits, media presentations, and other educational materials concerning life on the overland trails.
Nevada: Las Vegas Strip
The Strip is a 4.2-mile stretch of South Las Vegas that by no means goes under the radar. Over 42 million visitors fly into the city every year. Gourmet restaurants, gambling galore, and DJ-hosted pool parties all await. If you want to break up your usual Vegas experience with something a bit more grounding, head to the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. These sandstone rocks, dyed by iron oxide over centuries, stand tall thousands of feet into the sky. Hiking and off-roading are highly suggested here.
New Hampshire: Mount Washington
The highest point in New England, Mount Washington is home to some seriously fluctuating temperatures, from a balmy 72 to a bone-chilling -102 degrees. You can hike, drive, or take the Cog Railway to the summit. The auto road opened in 1861 as America’s first man-made attraction and will take you to the highest peak in the northeast. If you come during the winter months and are looking to spend the night, Harvard Cabin within Huntington Ravine offers a cozy place, with a stoked wood stove, stove top for your meals, and a loft bed.
New Jersey: Atlantic City Boardwalk
When you think of the Jersey Shore, Atlantic City and its lively gambling, resorts, wide beaches, and iconic boardwalk likely spring to mind. AC’s tourism market is alive and thriving, with 27 million visitors traveling here each year. When you’re not rolling some dice, be sure to check out Tony Boloney’s, an inventive pizza joint serving up pies with toppings like chicken and waffle, fig, homemade goat cheese, and local honey and macaroni salad.
New Mexico: Albuquerque Sunrise Balloon Rides
There’s something magical about a morning sky filled with colorful hot air balloons. And when you wake up to hop in a balloon to join the fun, it’s even more electric. The one-hour flight begins before sunrise and provides spectacular views of the Rio Grande Valley and the Sandia Mountains. If you can make it in the fall, the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is a spectacular nine-day event that is the biggest balloon event in the country.
New York: Empire State Building
While the sweeping views from the iconic Empire State Building is a must-see, it’s a process to make it to the Empire State Observatory on the 102 floor. You must wait in three lines: one for security, another for buying tickets, and the third for the elevator up. (At the very least, you can skip the ticket line by buying yours online.) If you’re really pressed for time, purchase an Express Pass; it’s double the price of a regular ticket, but you get to skip to the front of the elevator line. You won’t want to miss the site that over four million tourists see every year.
North Carolina: Biltmore Estate
Just outside of the funky town of Asheville, you’ll find the historic Vanderbilt family Biltmore Estate, a 250-room mansion that remains one of America’s greatest castles. The estate-turned-museum is completely self-sustaining and even has its own winery and it draws over one million visitors annually. Your best bet is to go in the spring when the flowers are in full bloom and you can fully enjoy the beauty of the garden that was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted (who also created New York’s Central Park).
North Dakota: Dakota Thunder
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The world’s largest sculpture of an American bison, Dakota Thunder is a massive, 26-foot-tall bison located in Frontier Village in Jamestown. It’s one of the main roadside attractions in the Midwest. The area features original buildings from the frontier villages of North Dakota, which have been moved to the current site. Here, the National Buffalo Museum is filled with antiques and artifacts from the days of the prairie pioneers. Wild West shoot-outs, stagecoach and pony rides, and more entice. Another great activity here is the Pipestem Horse Camp and Trail, which offers corrals, tether lines, trailer sites, and access to a 5-mile trail. You can even stay at the nearby Parkhurst Campground.
Ohio: Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
Legendary music experiences and memorabilia await at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame that has collections including everything from Britney Spears’ original red latex suit to handwritten lyrics by John Lennon and frequently changing exhibits. You can save $3 buying your tickets online to go into a place where half a million people visit annually. Want to hear some live music? Check out what’s coming up onstage at the Rock Hall, including some free concerts.
Oklahoma: National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum
Located in Oklahoma City’s Adventure District, the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum features an internationally renowned collection of Western art and artifacts from the Old West. Over 10 million people from around the world visited this attraction to learn about this part of history. You can check out a model frontier town and visit three Western Halls of Fame that are devoted to actors, rodeo riders, and great Westerners.
Oregon: Multnomah Falls
The deepest lake in the United States is located a few hours from Crater Lake National Park. The fresh, clear water lake sinks 1,943 feet deep. The formation is thanks to a volcanic eruption from Mount Mazama 7,700 years ago that collapsed the 12,000 feet-tall mountain into the center. The park has been called one of the Seven Wonders of Oregon, which makes it a must-see tourist attraction.
Pennsylvania: Independence National Historic Park
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The true birthplace of America is located in Pennsylvania. Between four and five million people visit the center to see the Liberty Bell, walk through Independent Hall, and to see the First Bank of the United States. Standing in the same room in Philadelphia where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed is a must when traveling to Pennsylvania.
Rhode Island: Newport mansions
The Blue Bloods of the Gilded Age once summered in Newport in mansions set on cliffs overlooking the sparkling Atlantic Ocean. These estates include the Vanderbilts’ Breakers, the Marble House, Rosecliff, and the Chateau-sur-Mer within Newport’s Bellevue Avenue Historic District. Today, many are open for touring and you can even stay the night in The Chanler at Cliff Walk, which dates back to the 1870s. The mansions are some of the most visited places in New England, surpassing some of the biggest museums in Boston. Don’t miss the most charming bed and breakfasts in every state.
South Carolina: Charleston History Tour
Take a horse-drawn carriage tour of historic Charleston where you’ll get up close and personal with Charleston’s antebellum mansions, churches, and gardens. Palmetto Carriage Works features guides with some serious wit and top-notch historical accuracy. Exploring the various parts of Charleston is even frequently mentioned on things you have to do before leaving Charleston. Find out 15 other towns that are great for history buffs.
South Dakota: Mount Rushmore & More tour
Experience South Dakota’s Black Hills region where, along with the iconic presidential sculptures of Mount Rushmore, your tour will take you to the Crazy Horse Memorial and Custer State Park. Be sure to walk the Presidential Trail if you’ve always wanted to get up close and personal to those grand and towering sculptures, where various prime vantage points along your walk allow you perfect photo ops. Don’t miss a chance to be one of the two million annual visitors to this national park.
Head to Memphis to see all that represents America’s one and only king: Elvis Presley. Graceland is the longtime home of the iconic singer and serves as the third most visited private home in the country, and over 20 million people have toured it. Inside this estate, you’ll find shag carpeting, blinding red fur, and leopard print. If you’re looking for discounts on everything Elvis, from memorabilia to Graceland tickets, become a Graceland Insider. Also be sure to come after 2 p.m. to avoid the crowds!
Texas: Best of Austin Tour
The Best of Austin Tour is a two-hour crash course covering the city’s best sites from major landmarks to the lesser-known insider gems. It’s rated on Trip Advisor as one of the best things to do. These include Graffiti Park, the State Capitol, and a food truck that sells “cake on a stick.” Tickets are $37.90.
Utah: Zion National Park
Located at the intersection of the Colorado Plateau, the Mojave Desert, and Great Basin, Zion is a half-mile-deep canyon that’s carved into the red rocks that make for an incredibly magical landmark. For a truly awe-inspiring experience, check out the Emerald Pools within Zion National Park–Upper, Middle, and Lower, three trails of varying lengths and skill levels all filled with awe-inspiring natural beauty. This is one of the most visited national parks in the entire country.
Vermont: Ben & Jerry’s Factory
Ice cream lovers won’t want to miss Ben & Jerry’s Factory in Waterbury, where visitors can watch the confection being made during a 30-minute tour that also includes a scoop room that serves up flavors not available at the grocery store. The location of the factory is especially cool because it was the original building of Ben & Jerry’s offices and factory. About 350,000 people visit the factory annually.
Virginia: Colonial Williamsburg
Colonial Williamsburg is the place to go to immerse yourself in historic America. It’s the largest tourist attraction in the city, too. “This isn’t just a place where things once happened. They’re happening, right now, here in the 18th century,” the website boasts. There are a variety of historic reenactments including meetups with Revolutionary thinkers, a visit to a blacksmith’s shop, and tours of the slave quarters at the home of a prominent family of the time. visitors can also enjoy colonial-inspired dining, carriage rides, and more.
Washington: Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market is a must-see when you’re in Seattle. The open-air market offers crafts, food, brews, buskers, and a whole lot of liveliness. The public market is one of the oldest farmers markets in the country, covering nine acres from Pike Street north to Virginia Street, and from 1st Avenue west to Western Avenue. When you’re not eating, drinking, and shopping on the lower levels, or taking advantage of the market’s historic arcade, be sure to peruse the events calendar for events including cooking classes and burlesque shows. You’ll be missing out if you’re not one of the 10 million visitors to come through.
West Virginia: Bridge Day
Every year, on the third Saturday of October, Fayette County celebrates Bridge Day, an annual day—and party—when the Western Hemisphere’s longest arch bridge turns pedestrians-only. It draws nearly 80,000 people and the bridge is filled with hundreds of craft and food vendors; you can even bungee jump off the bridge. It’s the largest BASE jumping event in the world. You’ll also want to stay in town for the weekend to experience Taste of Bridge Day, The Bridge Jam at the Cascade Festival Grounds on Maple Avenue, and the Active Southern WV Bridge Day 5k.
Wisconsin: Wisconsin Dells Waterpark
If you thought that you needed to go to Florida or California to get some fun in the sun, then you’d be mistaken. The coastal states don’t have any popular tourists attractions that top the “Waterpark Capital of the World,” Wisconsin Dells. In 1989 the park opened the country’s first indoor waterpark, and today it’s still America’s largest indoor and outdoor waterpark. There are more than 200 waterslides to accommodate the 4 million annual sliders! The most popular months to visit are June through August, but you can beat some of the crowds if you slide by between March and May.
Wyoming: Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park, which includes the Teton mountain range, the 4,000-meter Grand Teton peak, and the Jackson Hole valley, is a popular destination for its mountaineering, hiking, backcountry camping, and fishing. It has broken its own visitation records for consecutive years. On a Brush Buck Tours, you’re practically guaranteed to spot elk, moose, bison, wolves, and grizzly bears. Next, discover the most charming small town in every state.