Top 15 Most Famous Landmarks in the US You Must Visit
Top 15 Most Famous Landmarks in the US You Must Visit
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American history may be short compared to many countries worldwide. However, the country is still rich in landmark sites that tell the story of a new nation's birth. Across the country, the top US landmarks reveal stories of the first people who settled here, the colonists traveling to a new world, and the fierce battles that took place for freedom and justice.

Although it’s the roads, mountains, plains, and rivers that carve out America’s landscape, the true mile markers of the country are found within the United States’ best landmarks. Imagine San Francisco without the Golden Gate Bridge or New York City without the Statue of Liberty. Impossible. These symbols have become icons for the country, offering glimpses into the country’s proud past while symbolizing its strong future. From the tallest manmade monument in the Western Hemisphere to the limestone-inlaid mission that begs to be remembered, these 15 must-see American landmarks symbolize the full American story.

Top 15 Most Famous Landmarks in the US You Must Visit

1. The Statue of Liberty

Photo: musement
The Statue of Liberty - Photo: musement

Arguably, the Statue of Liberty is the most iconic landmark in North America. Lady Liberty has her own island within New York City. This copper statue was originally a gift to the United States from France.

The statue’s metal framework was designed by Gustave Eiffel, also responsible for one of the most famous landmarks in France the Eiffel Tower.

The Statue of Liberty was dedicated in 1886 but holds a tablet inscribed with the date of US independence, July 4 1776. A broken shackle and chains lie at her feet, a symbol of the recent abolition of slavery in the United States.

The statue became a symbol of freedom, particularly as it was often the first sight of the USA seen by incoming immigrants.

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2. The Golden Gate Bridge

Photo: history
Photo: history

Heralded as an engineering marvel when it opened in 1937, 80 years later San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge is as admired as ever before. In its heyday, it was the world's longest suspension bridge and today, it's considered one of the 'Engineering Wonders of the World'. No trip to San Fran is complete without at least admiring its rusty, orange expanses stretching over the blue strait waters from afar - but it's much more fun to ride across it.

This so-called “Wonder of the Modern World” is widely photographed, though there’s something extra special about seeing the Golden Gate Bridge in person. While you’re in San Francisco, check out the city’s other icons like the wonderful Painted Ladies and the famously crooked Lombard Street, as well as the jolly sea lions at Fisherman’s Wharf, and world-famous Alcatraz, if can you book a tour far enough in advance.

3. Seattle Space Needle

Photo: tripsavvy
Photo: tripsavvy

This Seattle icon was built in 1962 for the World’s Fair. The futuristic design was inspired by Space Age aspirations. The Seattle Space Needle is located at Seattle Centre and provides 360 degree views of some of Seattle’s most scenic sights such as Mount Rainier and Puget Sound.

Today the Seattle Space Needle offers an all-glass floor and an open-air deck. The floor to ceiling glass also offers an outdoor observation deck with open air glass walls and glass benches.

The Oculus is a steel, wood, and glass staircase that connects the all-glass upper deck with a rotating glass floor. This glass floor offers a unique downward view of the Seattle Space Needle.

4. National Mall

Photo: getyourguide
Photo: getyourguide

The National Mall, also known as the “Mall,” is a landscaped park in the United States’ National Park System’s (NPS) Memorial Parks unit.

It is located near Washington, D.C.’s downtown area and is administered by the NPS of the United States Department of the Interior.

The term commonly includes areas that are also officially part of neighboring West Potomac Park and Constitution Gardens to the southwest.

The mall is a popular attraction for many tourists, especially in spring and summer months. It’s also a popular place to hold rallies and is the site of presidential inaugurations.

Many historical gatherings have taken place on the Mall, such as protests against the Vietnam War and the Million Man March.

The Washington Monument lies at the center of the mall, a gleaming white needle that pierces the skyline.

Other notable landmarks on the mall include the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, and the World War II Memorial.

Related: 10 Longest & Most Beautiful Rivers in the United States

5. Mount Rushmore

Photo: baodaklak
Photo: baodaklak

The faces of former US Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln on a grand scale (the heads are 18 metres high) can all be seen on the granite face of South Dakota’s Mt Rushmore.

Sculptor Gutzon Borglum created the design and oversaw its production with his son between 1927 and 1941. He chose these four presidents to represent the United States‘ birth, growth, development and preservation.

Mount Rushmore has featured in numerous films and tv programmes – my personal favourite being its starring role in Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest with Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint.

Nearly three million people visit Mount Rushmore each year. The mountain is over 1745m tall and the national park that is home to it is 1,278 acres. As this is a national park there are no fees to enter or to see the faces carved into the mountain. However, there is a fee for parking.

6. Independence Hall

Photo: khoahoc
Photo: khoahoc

Explore the birth of a nation at Independence Hall, where the founding fathers signed both the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. Known as the birthplace of America, the building was formerly known as the Pennsylvania State House. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Situated in the heart of Philadelphia, the red brick building stood as a symbol for freedom in the 13 colonies and is now one of America’s most famous landmarks. Step back into history as you enter its doors. Imagine delegates such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson debating and writing the most critical documents in American history.

Visitors can take a tour of Independence Hall, and no tickets are required. On tour, you'll enter the same rooms delegates did all those years ago to debate our country's historical documents. Experience the history from 1776 and on first-hand as you see the Assembly Room and other important sites.

7. Route 66

Photo: englishlive
Photo: englishlive

US Landmarks can be found throughout the country, like Route 66, the famous highway known for road trips and roadside attractions.

Kitschy oversized landmarks are a Route 66 mainstay, featuring everything from the largest concrete totem pole (Totem Pole Park, Chelsea,) to “The Blue Whale”, a giant, cartoon-ish whale floating atop a roadside pond in Catoosa. If you get thirsty, look for the 20 meter soda bottle outside the entrance to “Pops,” a restaurant, gas station, and purveyor of over 700 kinds of soda, all arranged by color. Experiment with unusual flavors such as bacon, mustard and dirt, or keep it classic with one of over 70 root beer varieties on offer. If it’s close to sun down, stay for the neon light show in the giant bottle that happens after dark.

8. Washington Monument

Photo: trolleytours
Photo: trolleytours

Located in the National Mall in Washington DC, this tall statue was built for George Washington. At just over 169 metres tall, the Washington Monument is the world’s tallest predominantly stone structure and its tallest obelisk.

Construction of the monument originally began in 1848 but was then put on hold due to a lack of funds and the American Civil War for 23 years. The obelisk was completed in 1888.

The Washington Monument is located east of the reflecting pool and the Abraham Lincoln Memorial.

9. Lincoln Memorial

Photo: cnn
Photo: cnn

The Lincoln Memorial is a national monument built to honor the 16th President of the United States, and savior of the Union, Abraham Lincoln.

It is located on the western end of the National Mall in Washington D.C., across from the Washington Monument.

The architect was Henry Bacon, the designer of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool while Daniel Chester French sculpted the 19 foot (5.8 m) statue of Lincoln – both in white marble.

The memorial was dedicated on May 30, 1922 and the interior is decorated with a vast array of sculpted and painted artworks and inscriptions honoring President Lincoln.

The outside features a large semi-circular colonnade with 36 Doric columns, and inside the colonnade is inscribed with two major speeches by Abraham Lincoln: the Gettysburg Address and his second inaugural address.

The Lincoln Memorial is one of the most important and famous landmarks in the USA serving as a universally recognized symbol of American history, hardship, and sacrifice.

10. The Grand Canyon

Photo: nps
Photo: nps

The Grand Canyon National Park, in northwestern Arizona, is the country’s 15th national park and perhaps the most well-known of all. To call The Grand Canyon, a canyon seems a bit of an understatement.

This biblically enormous gorge, through which the Colorado River runs, is often regarded as one of the greatest wonders of the natural world, and is understandably the park’s primary attraction.

The Grand Canyon is a World Heritage Site and one of North America’s most visited national parks.

The park sees literally millions of visitors each year. In 2017 alone, more than six million people visited the park, which is the second-highest number of all American national parks after the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

11. Hoover Dam

Photo: history
Photo: history

Holding back the mighty Colorado River, this massive feat of engineering creates hydroelectric power and helps provides water for seven states and a portion of Mexico. In 2010, the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge opened to allow for faster travel through the area. But it’s still worth stopping to admire the Art Deco wonder and tour the facilities.

The Hoover Dam created the largest reservoir in the US, Lake Mead. Today, Lake Mead not only supplies water to 3 states and Mexico it is also a popular tourist site. Today, nearly one million people visit the Hoover Dam each year.

The Hoover Dam structure is very art deco and cool – even the toilets! The highlight of visiting the dam is heading down 600 feet and seeing the turbines and learning about how they used water to cool the concrete so it would set faster and a whole bunch of ingenious and amazing things that were done to make this dam work.

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12. Empire State Building

Photo: kkday
Photo: kkday

This isn’t just one of the most famous landmarks in the USA, it’s one of the most famous and instantly recognizable in the entire world.

The Empire State Building is a 102-story Art Deco skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, New York. The building was designed by Shreve, Lamb & Harmon and built from 1930 to 1931.

Its name is derived from “Empire State”, the nickname of the state of New York. The building has a roof height of 1,250 feet (381 m), and with its antenna spire, it stands a total of 1,454 ft (443.2 m) high.

The spire was added as a mooring mast for airships at a time when people assumed Zeppelins were going to be a thing. The Hindenburg disaster put an end to that notion and not a single airship ever docked with the giant building.

The Empire State Building has approximately 102 floors above ground and 5 floors below ground level.

It is one of the most famous landmarks in America many movies include giving an example of American landmarks, like The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in 2014, The Avengers in 2012, and the American classic King Kong.

13. Gateway Arch

Photo: switch
Photo: switch

The world’s tallest arch sits in St. Louis Missouri, and was built to symbolize the westward expansion of the United States.

The Gateway Arch, as it’s called, is dedicated to the American People, and is incredible to behold. The stainless steel structure stands nearly 200 meters in height, making it tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere and the tallest accessible building in Missouri. St. Louis is also home to City Museum, the 10-story, 100-year-old surrealist wonderland that combines the whimsy of a children’s playground with the sophistication of modern architecture. Another iconic museum in the area is Mark Twain’s boyhood home, which is also worth a visit.

14. The World Trade Center Memorial

Photo: structurae
Photo: structurae

The world changed forever on September 11, 2001, when two planes crashed into the Twin Towers in New York City and two others crashed into the Pentagon and in a Pennsylvania field. That day marks a historic turning point in a global society. Today, the World Trade Center Memorial stands where the towers once lived, commemorating all who lost their lives that day.

Two deep pools are surrounded by gray barriers with the name of every victim etched into the metal. As you walk around this landmark, you’ll notice flowers poking out of names as loved ones continue to visit. You’ll soon forget you’re in the heart of bustling Manhattan as the sound of the waterfalls drown out external noise and create a somber atmosphere.

Both pools, about an acre in size, feature the largest human-made waterfalls in North America. Every year on the anniversary of 9/11, a public art installation called "Tribute in Life" lights up the pools and shines into the sky. The show honors the lost loved ones and celebrating New York City's resiliency.

15. Niagara Falls

Photo: tripsavvy
Photo: tripsavvy

Famed for its grand allure, Niagara Falls is one of Canada’s most visited landmarks. The land that encompasses the falls is split between Canada and the state of New York, in the United States. It features three waterfalls: Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls.

Horseshoe Falls is the only one of the three that resides in Canada. It’s also the largest. It drops roughly 57 metres down and is an impressive 790 metres wide.

As you can imagine, this famous Canadian landmark is an incredible place to witness the true beauty and power of nature firsthand.

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