The United States of America is an incredibly vast and varied country, home to a rich and diverse set of cultures, landscapes and experiences. Even if my husband wasn’t American and the US wasn’t my second home, it would still be one of my favourite countries in the world!
From the hustle and bustle of big cities like New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago to the beauty of nature in places like Yellowstone National Park, there’s a lot to see, do and taste — and a lot to enjoy.
Let’s take a look at some of the top 10 tourist destinations in the US, each with their own unique style and charm. Disclaimer: I haven’t visited them all, but they’re on my bucket list.
1. New York City
From world-famous landmarks like the Empire State Building and Times Square to unique neighbourhoods like Chinatown and Little Italy, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant city.
I’ve been to NYC five times and it never gets old. You can easily fill a few days experiencing iconic sights such as the Statue of Liberty, visiting incredible museums like The Metropolitan and the Guggenheim, and watching Broadway shows.
Fashionistas can shop their way around the Fashion District, featuring designer boutiques and famous department stores in abundance. For food lovers, there are many options available, from fine dining to delicious street food — all of which are sure to please any palate.
With endless attractions and activities for both day-trippers and long-term visitors, New York City is a must-visit destination for all. It’s no wonder why it continues to be one of the top 10 tourist destinations in the US, and in the world.
As the fourth-largest city in the United States, Houston is bursting at the seams with history dating back to the early 19th century. This can be explored at the Houston Museum of Natural Science and the Holocaust Museum Houston.
Houston also seems to be a great city for foodies, offering a wide range of cuisine, which means hubby and I definitely need to go at some point! (You know we love our food.)
For some traditional Southern cooking, you can visit the best breakfast places in Houston like The Breakfast Klub in Midtown or Dandelion Cafe. Houston is even home to some of the best barbecue in the United States, so the locals heartily recommend sampling the delicious smoked meats served up by Gatlin’s Barbecue or The Pit Room.
3. Los Angeles
With its stunning beaches, buzzing nightlife and endless attractions, Los Angeles is one of the top 10 tourist destinations in the US — and I confirm that it definitely deserves to be on this list! I’ve been three times and I’ve only just scratched the surface with everything you can see and do.
World-famous attractions like Universal Studios, the Hollywood Walk of Fame and The Griffith Observatory are not to be missed. You can also catch a concert or celebrity sighting on the Sunset Strip (I’ve not done this yet but there’s always next time!).
Whether you want to hit the beach in Santa Monica or explore the architecture of downtown LA, there’s truly something for everyone. It has a fabulous food scene, rich history and countless shopping opportunities.
4. San Francisco
This vibrant, multicultural city situated along the northern California coast is renowned for its breathtaking views and attractions. I’ve only been once with my family as a teen for a couple of nights, so I’d love to revisit and explore it properly.
Located at the tip of a peninsula, San Francisco has an iconic skyline with the Golden Gate Bridge and Transamerica Pyramid as some of its main landmarks.There are several diverse neighbourhoods such as Chinatown, North Beach and the Financial District.
Like activities? You can spend your time biking, kayaking, walking around Golden Gate Park, Presidio National Park, or San Francisco Zoo, or even hopping over to Alcatraz Island.
San Francisco is also a culinary capital with hundreds of restaurants to choose from, ranging from fine dining establishments to casual eateries. The Ferry Building Marketplace offers an array of artisanal food vendors and is apparently a must-visit for food lovers.
Chicago holds a special place in my heart as it’s a three-hour drive from my husband’s hometown of Green Bay, Wisconsin. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit three times and experience its world-famous attractions like The Bean, Navy Pier, Millennium Park and Willis Tower.
Shopping on Michigan Avenue or strolling along Lake Shore Drive are two of my fave things to do, as well as eat! Chicago is home to a burgeoning restaurant scene featuring yummy deep-dish pizza, hotdogs with all the fixings, and more.
Unique neighbourhoods like Chinatown and Little Italy offer plenty of cultural experiences. In fact, Chicago’s thriving music and theatre scene is sure to please every culture enthusiast. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Joffrey Ballet and Lyric Opera all call this epic city their home.
I’m dying to visit this incredible-looking city, famous for the iconic Space Needle and sweeping views of the Puget Sound, Olympic Mountains, and the Cascades. Hubby has already been once but he has to take me at some point. (He doesn’t have a choice!)
I’m told that Seattle’s food scene is legendary, and you won’t have to look far to find amazing restaurants serving up some of the freshest seafood in the country. Pike Place Market is a must-visit to sample all kinds of local goods including fresh produce, meats and cheeses. Nom.
Seattle is also adored by nature enthusiasts thanks to its beautiful hiking trails and parks.
Like museums? The city boasts excellent museums such as the Seattle Art Museum, Musical Instrument Museum, Museum of Flight and Burke Museum of Natural History. It has a pretty impressive theatre scene, too, and hosts several festivals throughout the year.
Sitting at the foothills of Central Texas’ rolling hills, Austin has become one of the fastest-growing cities and the top 10 tourist destinations in the US. And I desperately want to go!
One thing Austin is known for is its live music scene, which sounds awesome. Whether it’s local up-and-coming artists or world-famous acts, Austin hosts every type of live music in hundreds of different venues across the city.
Nature lovers won’t be disappointed either. From Lady Bird Lake and its many trails to the Barton Creek Greenbelt, there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy in Austin. Think swimming in the lake, camping, kayaking and much more.
For a little bit of culture, head to the State Capitol for free tours of the facility or take a stroll through one of Austin’s many art galleries. Zilker Park also has a variety of fun concerts and festivals throughout the year.
8. Washington, D.C.
Hubby has already been to Washington, D.C., but I’d love to experience its vast history and culture. The towering Washington Monument seems super impressive, standing 555 feet tall directly in front of the Capitol Building in the National Mall.
I’d also like to see the other popular tourist sites like the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall and the White House. (Obviously!)
The Smithsonian museums are another major draw for tourists in D.C., including the National Air and Space Museum, covering all topics from science and art to culture and history. Then there’s the United States Botanic Garden, Georgetown University and the International Spy Museum which are popular attractions.
Like partying? I’m told that D.C. has a buzzing nightlife too, with an array of wonderful restaurants and bars to enjoy.
9. Miami Beach
Miami Beach, known as “America’s Riviera”, is an ideal spot for swimming, sunbathing or watersports. It has several restaurants and nightclubs located along its waterfront, creating a fun and lively party scene.
I’ve been to the world-famous South Beach district twice now, where you can find the city’s most popular nightclubs and restaurants. The art deco architecture and iconic Ocean Drive is something to behold, featuring cute boutiques and cafes in excess.
Miami Beach has an eclectic mix of cultures and is home to many art galleries, museums and theatres. The area is also known for its luxury shopping, resorts and spas, where you can treat yourself to upscale experiences. A must-visit!
10. Las Vegas
Lastly, I couldn’t write this list of the top 10 tourist destinations in the US without including Las Vegas. (Um, hello? I’ve been three times and I already can’t wait to go back.)
Whether you’re looking for a wild night out or a relaxing stay at an all-inclusive resort, Las Vegas has got you covered. The Las Vegas Strip is lined with a bunch of casinos, nightclubs and shopping options to keep you busy for your entire trip.
Contrary to popular belief, Las Vegas also offers a variety of activities beyond gambling and nightlife. Explore Old Town to learn about the city’s history. Alternatively, discover the wonders of the nearby Red Rock Canyon — or even the Grand Canyon. (Spoiler alert: the latter is jaw-dropping!)
The culinary options in Las Vegas are just as diverse as its attractions. From celebrity chef restaurants to gourmet buffets, Las Vegas is sure to please even the most discerning foodie. With an array of international cuisines and flavours, it’s easy for visitors to enjoy a truly unique dining experience in Sin City.
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Final Thoughts on the Top 10 Tourist Destinations in the US
There’s nowhere else quite like the United States, in my opinion. It’s full of spectacular cities that each have so much to offer for every age group.
Whether you’re interested in exploring the rich history and culture, experiencing unique outdoor activities or just taking in the sights and sounds, you won’t be disappointed with your visit. The cities… ah, the cities are something else.