Every state in the U.S. overflows with noteworthy and interesting attractions, so it's hard to choose just one to be crowned as the best tourist attraction in the whole state. Nonetheless, there are a few sights that even the locals will tell you are simply a "must-see"—whether it's a historical site, national park, or a tried-and-true hot spot.
If you've got big travel plans this year (and really, isn't that all of us post-2020 and 2021?), this guide is a great place to see which major tourist attraction in each state is worth visiting. And for more, check out The 8 Best Places in America to Visit This Spring.
According to the Alabama Tourism Department, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville remains one of the best attractions in the state, attracting nearly 850,000 visitors each year. From the Saturn V Moon Rocket to the Apollo 16 to the Pathfinder, the world's only full-stack space shuttle display, there is so much space history to see and explore. But that's just the start. Visitors also can take part in numerous interactive experiences such as Space Camp, the Discovery Shuttle simulator, and the G-Force Accelerator. In fact, there's so much to see and do, one day may not be enough to experience it all.
RELATED:For more up-to-date information, sign up for ourdaily newsletter.
Covering 6 million acres across Alaska, Denali National Park remains extremely popular with locals and visitors. In 2020, Tripsavvy named the national park the No. 1 thing in its "25 Best Things to Do in Alaska" list. From the panoramic views of Denali, North America's tallest peak at 20,310 feet to the many opportunities to see wildlife to hiking, camping, and so much more, Denali National Park is a great place to reconnect with nature.
With breathtaking views, lots of recreational opportunities, and many tour choices, the Grand Canyon continues to be a big draw for travelers. In fact, it took the top spot in Fodor's "25 Ultimate Things to Do in Arizona." When visiting, make sure you plan at least two days here. Start by reserving one of the many campsites or booking a room at one of the lodges in the park. Then select one of the many tours such as a mule trip to the bottom of the canyon or rafting on the Colorado River. Wrap up your itinerary with some individual sightseeing by following Desert View Drive or taking a scenic ride to Cape Royal.
Taking the top spot in Tripadvisor's top attractions in Arkansas, Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs contains a variety of gardens featuring tall pines, colorful flowers and blooming shrubs, and a whimsical children's garden—and much more. As you wander the paths, see if you can spot one of the hand-painted Garvan rocks tucked along a rock wall or by a bridge. Geocachers also may find a treasure box if they look in the right spots.
READ THIS NEXT: Southwest Is Cutting Flights From These 3 Major Cities, Starting in June.
Sitting on 1,017 acres just down from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Golden Gate Park encompasses more activities and attractions than anyone can explore in just one visit. To start, there are several gardens including the Shakespeare Garden, a Japanese tea garden, and the Conservatory Valley. Then there are the museums, such as the De Young Museum and the California Academy of Sciences, and the five playgrounds and numerous athletic fields, courts, and athletic courses. No wonder 24 million peoplee visit every year, making it California's top-rated attraction on Newsweek's "The 25 Most Visited Tourist Spots in America."
As its name implies, Rocky Mountain National Park includes some of the most majestic mountain peaks, along with tranquil meadows, sparkling lakes, and plenty of wildlife. And you can see it all while hiking the park's 355 miles of trails, taking some of the park's scenic drives, and setting out on horseback. Other activities include ranger-led tours, fishing, picnicking, and camping. Although the weather may close some of the roads during winter, you often can still visit the park during cold weather, which could provide some of the most scenic experiences.
Founded in 1929, the Mystic Seaport Museum in Mystic documents maritime history from centuries ago. Attractions include notable artifacts, a recreated New England coastal village, and a working shipyard. Visitors will see more than 500 historic watercraft, including the 1841 whaleship Charles W. Morgan, which is the oldest commercial ship still in existence in the United States. It's a fascinating look at how our waterways have contributed to the evolution and growth of this country and the people who live here.
Originally built in 1873, the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk in Rehoboth Beach is a one-mile boardwalk filled with restaurants, fun shops, and family entertainment. You can get your thrills on the rides at Funland, challenge the family to mini golf, or enjoy live music at the Rehoboth Beach Bandstand. Throughout the year, the boardwalk hosts a variety of special events and festivals sure to entertain. Of course, you'll find plenty of great eats, including such beach favorites as hot dogs, pizza, and ice cream.
Is anyone surprised that Mickey Mouse's playground takes the top spot in Florida, according to Newsweek? Since 1971, Disney fans have flocked to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Orlando to conquer Space Mountain, see "It's a Small World," and pose by Cinderella Castle. And many make sure they visit with a few Disney princesses or their favorite Disney characters before lining the streets to catch a Disney parade. Just make sure you have a Mickey Bar or Dole Whip to enjoy as the floats move by.
READ THIS NEXT: 9 Must-Have Items You Should Always Bring to the Airport.
Georgia's most-visited attraction according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development, Stone Mountain Park in Stone Mountain welcomes visitors of all ages to come explore its 3,200 acres. Obviously, the center of attention is the mountain itself, the largest piece of exposed granite in the world. Visitors can hike the 1-mile trail up the mountain or take the Summit Skyride to the top, where they can enjoy panoramic views, including the Atlanta skyline. In addition to several attractions, the park also hosts many events throughout the year, including the ever-popular Lasershow.
Located on the island of Oahu in Honolulu, Diamond Head State Monument sits on more than 475 acres. The park is a broad, saucer-shaped crater that is more than 300,000 years old. The highlight of the park is the historic hiking trail that provides scenic views of the coast as well as the crater. While the trail is only 0.8 mile in length, it is steep, gaining 560 feet in elevation. However, the effort is worth it once you reach the top.
If you ever wanted to walk on the moon, you can come close at the Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve. Formed from lava flows, the park's landscape is at once otherworldly and breathtaking in its beauty. By taking a ranger-led tour, you can explore the various nooks and crannies found throughout the park. While it's gorgeous to visit in the spring and summer, returning to visit in the winter provides an entirely new perspective, one that should not be missed.
Home to the iconic Centennial Wheel, Navy Pier in Chicago has remained one of the city's most popular destinations. In fact, according to Newsweek, more than 9 million visitors make their way to Navy Pier to check out the activities, shopping, and food. Stop by the Chicago Children's Museum, snap your photo at the "P" sculpture, and grab some Chicago-style pizza. If visiting during the day, don't forget to come back at night for a new perspective.
The No. 1 top attraction in Indiana on Tripadvisor, the Children's Museum of Indianapolis is unlike any other children's museum. While it might be tempting to start on the ground floor where you enter, the best place to begin is at The Power of Children exhibit. Sharing the stories of Anne Frank, Ruby Bridges, Ryan White, and Malala Yousafzai, this exhibit is not only educational but also a powerful lesson that no one is ever too young to bring about change in this world. You also can walk among the dinosaurs at the new Dinosphere exhibit or try your sports skills in the Riley Children's Health Sports Legends Experience.
READ THIS NEXT: Never Forget to Do This After Your Flight Lands, Flight Attendant Warns.
Located on the campus of Iowa State University in Ames, Reiman Gardens features indoor and outdoor gardens on 17 acres. Listed as the top attraction in Iowa on Yelp, the gardens feature 25 distinct garden spaces, including the Bald Cypress Allée, the Helen Latch Jones Rose Garden, and the Patty Jischke Children's Garden. Remember to keep an eye out for Elwood, the world's largest concrete gnome. You also can take a stroll through the Christina Reiman Butterfly Wing, and see if these charming creatures will spend a moment on your shoulder.
Created by Samuel P. Dinsmoor, a Civil War veteran, retired schoolteacher, and farmer, the Garden of Eden in Lucas is a collection of Dinsmoor's sculptures, including 40-foot-tall cement trees to support his sculptures. He also constructed an 11-room "log" cabin of limestone and a mausoleum where his mummified body remains. It's an unusual attraction that took the No. 1 spot on Yelp for top attractions in Kansas.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve, Mammoth Cave National Park features the world's longest known cave system—and you can explore it. You can choose from a number of cave tours, including the Domes & Dripstones Tour, a Historic Tour, and Violet City Lantern Tour, which uses lantern light to tour the cave. When not touring the cave, you also can go hiking, canoeing, fishing, bicycling, horseback riding, and stargazing.
Choosing the best attraction in Louisiana is not easy, but, thankfully, Tripadvisor did, naming The National WWII Museum its top attraction in the state. The museum documents the events of World War II starting with the events that led up to the war, the European and Pacific Theaters, at look at the Allies' victory. It's a powerful and moving experience that takes a deep dive into this life-changing event.
One of the top 10 most-visited national parks in the country, Acadia National Park welcomes 3.5 million visitors a year. And it's easy to see why they come. The homeland of the Wabanaki people, the park covers approximately 50,000 acres along the Maine coast, filled with tall mountains and subalpine rocky summits. Visitors can hike 158 miles of trails or see the sites along the 27 miles of historic motor roads.
This historic fort was the site of the Battle of Baltimore in September 1814, which inspired Francis Scott Key to write "The Star Spangled Banner." During your visit you can take a self-guided tour to learn the fort's history, which spans the War of 1812 to the Civil War to World War I, when the fort served as a 3,000-bed hospital from 1917 to 1925.
READ THIS NEXT: The Most Walkable U.S. Cities in America for Seniors.
Sitting on the waterfront of Boston, Faneuil Hall Marketplace is known as the "Cradle of Liberty." For 275 years, it's been the site for Revolutionary-era meetings, protests by women's suffragists, and debates on some of the city's most historic moments. In addition to serving as a visitor center for the National Park Service, it's also home to more than 70 retailers and restaurants, landing it a spot in Newsweek's "The 25 Most Visited Tourist Spots in America." Also, you'll often find the promenades filled with street performers and musicians, bringing a festive attitude to the site.
One of the top art museums in the United States—and the top attraction in Michigan according to Tripadvisor—the Detroit Institute of Arts features more than 65,000 artworks that span from the earliest civilizations to the present. Collections include pieces from around the globe in many mediums, such as paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, and more. In addition to touring the galleries, visitors also can participate in drop-in workshops, play gallery games, and more.
First opened in 1992 in Bloomington, the Mall of America encompasses a whopping 5.6 million square feet with four levels and more than 520 stores. The mail welcomes 40 million visitors every year, who take their time shopping, eating, and playing at the mall's indoor Nickelodeon theme park and checking out marine life at the SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium. The theme park alone sits on 7 acres and features roller coasters, water rides, and an adventure course.
Who knew there is a petrified forest just outside of Jackson in Flora? The forest evolved over time as floodwaters covered the trees with sand and silt, burying them in the watery soil. As the trees decayed, they turned into stone logs during the petrifaction process. Today, visitors can walk along a six-block nature trail for a self-guided tour to see the trees before visiting the earth science museum to see other examples of petrified wood along with many kinds of fossils.
Completed in 1965, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis reaches 630 feet into the air, commemorating westward expansion for more than 50 years. Visitors can take a tram ride to the top, where they can enjoy panoramic views of the city and beyond. In addition to the Gateway Arch, visitors also can see the Museum at the Gateway Arch, which documents local history as well as an exhibit on building the Arch. Outside, you can bike or walk on 5 miles of trails and picnic in 11 acres of parkland.
Glacier National Park brings together melting glaciers, carved valleys, alpine meadows, and sparkling lakes into one scenic experience that will leave a lasting impression. There are many ways to explore the park so you can find the one that suits you best. These include 734 miles of hiking trails, guided tours, camping, biking, fishing, boating, and cross-country skiing. A must is driving along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, which stretches from the east to the west through the middle of the park.
READ THIS NEXT: Never Check In to a Hotel Without Requesting This, Experts Say.
Featuring six acres of indoor exhibits and 160 acres of outdoor exhibits and habitats, Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium showcases animals from around the globe. From African elephants to Amur tigers to sea lions and more, there are so many animals to see. You also can get tickets for backstage experiences with different animals including giraffes and sea lions. The zoo also offers a number of attractions, including a train, Sue's Wildlife Carousel, and the Alaskan Adventure splashgrounds.
According to Newsweek, more than 42 million visitors take a stroll down the Las Vegas strip, where they can watch the fountain shows at the Bellagio, see the pirates battle at Treasure Island, and snap a photo in front of the Paris Las Vegas. Of course, they also pop into one of the many casinos to see if Lady Luck is smiling on them today. Along the way, they can grab some souvenirs at the many shops or get something to eat at one of the thousands of eateries.
Located in New Hampshire's Kinsman Notch in the White Mountains, the Lost River Gorge & Boulder Caves was formed millions of years ago when glaciers moved through the area. Today, visitors can explore the gorge and caves by following a self-guided, 1-mile boardwalk loop trail. With more than 1,000 stairs, it can be somewhat challenging, but is well worth the effort when you take in the views at the Valley Viewpoint and the Giant Bird Nest Overlook.
A narrow, 10-mile-long barrier island in Seaside Park, Island Beach State Park contains white sand beaches and miles of sand dunes, easily making it one of Tripadvisor's top attractions in New Jersey. Beach activities include swimming, surfing, and windsurfing, but that's just the beginning of the outdoor adventure that awaits. You'll also find eight hiking trails, kayaking, fishing, and wildlife viewing. Of course, you also can just kick back in your beach chair and soak up the sun as the waves roll in.
Tripadvisor's top attraction for New Mexico, the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe celebrates the life and art of Georgia O'Keeffe. There are nine galleries that trace her journey through her paintings, drawings, pastels, and watercolors. You'll also find many photographs documenting O'Keeffe's life that provide further insight into who she was. The museum also holds regular events, including online art classes.
Taking the No. 1 spot in Newsweek's "The 25 Most Visited Tourist Spots in America," Times Square hosts 50 million visitors each year. From watching the ball drop on New Year's Eve to catching one of the site's special events during the year to just standing and taking in all the glitz of the flashing signs and billboards, Times Square is an epic destination that everyone has to visit at least once when in New York City.
READ THIS NEXT: Never Leave a Hotel Before Doing This, Experts Warn.
Named the No. 1 thing to do in U.S. News & World Report's "23 Top Things to Do in North Carolina," the Biltmore Estate in Asheville is the country's largest privately owned home. Home to the George Vanderbilt family, some of the highlights in the French-Renaissance home include 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, a library with 10,000 volumes, 65 fireplaces, a banquet hall with a 70-foot ceiling, an indoor swimming pool, and a bowling alley. During your visit, you also can walk through the estate's gardens, tour the winery, or eat in one of the onsite restaurants.
Honoring the 26th president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt National Park showcases the area's badlands, which you can take in during one of the park's scenic drives. Other ways to see the park include hiking, wildlife viewing, birding, camping, and taking a ranger-led tour. A not-to-miss event is the Dakota Nights Astronomy Festival where you can stargaze and find the constellations.
Opened in 1870, Cedar Point in Sandusky is one of the most popular amusement parks in the country. In fact, Lonely Planet chose the park as its top choice for must-see attractions in Ohio. Filled with rides and activities for all ages, there's something here for everyone. From the Top Thrill Dragster that reaches maximum speeds of 120 mph to the Dodgem cars to Wave Swinger, there's no shortage of rides to get your adrenaline pumping.
A memorial honoring those who were lost, injured, or impacted by the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, this stoic national park site documents the bombing and how the FBI tracked down those responsible as well as the bombing's aftermath, including rescue efforts. Outside, you can tour the Outdoor Symbolic Memorial, which is somber during the day. Return at night, and it's quite haunting.
Sitting at the top of Viator's list of top 10 attractions in Pennsylvania, the Liberty Bell Center in Philadelphia showcases the Liberty Bell, one of the United State's most famous symbols of liberty. Along with the bell, visitors can peruse exhibits on the left side of the hallway that documents the founding of the State House bell (the official name of the Liberty Bell) and how it was used by abolitionists and civil rights advocates.
READ THIS NEXT: Never Drink This on a Plane, Flight Attendant Warns.
Home to the family of Cornelius "Commodore" Vanderbilt II and Alice Claypoole Vanderbilt, The Breakers in Newport epitomizes the opulence of the Gilded Age. Featuring a classic Italian palazzo design, this summer home features 70 rooms, including 48 bedrooms, 27 fireplaces, and a banquet hall with a 50-foot-high ceiling. The 13-acre property also includes a carriage house and stable and a 1,500-foot-long path around the grounds.
Located in Charleston, Middleton Place tells the story of the family who lived in this home for more than 300 years along with the enslaved people and freedmen who lived and worked here. Tours include the House Museum, which features many family belongings including furnishings, portraits, china, and more, as well as the gardens, the oldest landscaped gardens in the United States. Middleton Place also tells the story of the enslaved people who served the family through the Beyond the Fields tour.
Located in Keystone in the Black Hills of South Dakota, the Mount Rushmore National Memorial continues to attract visitors who want a closer look at the carvings of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Start at the Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center, where you can watch a film detailing how the carving was completed, and then walk the Presidential Trail for a closer look. The park has other hiking trails if you want to see more than just the carvings.
For nearly 100 years, the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville has showcased the best in country music. It got its earliest beginnings in 1925 with the first broadcast on WSM's Barn Dance and soon built a reputation for featuring not only the stars of country music but also the up and coming stars of tomorrow. Visitors continue to fill the seats to see a concert in this historic venue that has been billed as the "home of American music" with "country's most famous stage."
According to Newsweek, Bryce Canyon National Park draws 5 million visitors per year. Home to the largest concentration of hoodoos (irregular columns of rock), Bryce Canyon features a breathtaking colorful landscape whose hues change with the sun and time of day. A great way to take it all in is by driving the Southern Scenic Drive, which has nine scenic overlooks where you can stare until your heart's content. Visiting at night for stargazing is another way to experience the park, which was designated as a Gold Tier International Dark Sky Park in 2019.
READ THIS NEXT: 9 Secret Travel Hacks Flight Attendants Always Use.
Located in Shelburne, the Shelburne Museum brings together American history, art, and design through 39 distinct structures on 45 acres. Museum founder Electra Havemeyer Webb started the museum in 1947 as way to preserve her family's collection of horse-drawn carriages. It didn't take her long to use this opportunity as a way to showcase all of her collections, including American folk art, French Impressionist paintings, dolls, circus animals, and more. In addition to the various collections, the museum also features new exhibits on an ongoing basis.
Home to the United State's first president, George Washington, Mount Vernon remains much the same as it did when the president lived here in the 1700s. The centerpiece is the 18th-century mansion, which is 10 times the size of the average home in colonial Virginia. Other sites to see include the gardens, the farm, the tombs (the final resting place for the president and his wife, Martha), and the historic area that features several outbuildings.
Founded in 1907, Pike Place Market remains one of Seattle's most iconic tourist attractions, drawing 10 million visitors per year according to Newsweek. While many visitors come to watch the workers throw fish, they also come to shop and eat. Covering 9 acres, the market includes more than 220 independently owned shops and restaurants, more than 150 craftspeople, more than 70 farmers, and much more. Whether you come for the fish-throwing show, to buy something to eat, or to pick up a souvenir, the market has it all.
The newest national park in the United States, the New River Gorge National Park & Preserve is home to one of the world's oldest rivers, which happens to be ideal for whitewater rafting. One of the most photographed sites in the park is the New River Gorge Bridge, and, once a year, the bridge is open to pedestrians for such activities as rappelling, BASE jumping, and a bridge walk along the catwalk.
Located in Milwaukee, the Harley-Davidson Museum features one of the largest collections of Harley-Davidson motorcycles and memorabilia. Permanent exhibits include the history of the company, custom motorcycles, and an interactive gallery where visitors can touch and sit on a variety of motorcycles. The museum also hosts a number of event throughout the year where bikers can come together to celebrate not only their love for these motorcycles but also to enjoy concerts, the holidays, and other special occasions.
Known as the world's first national park, Yellowstone showcases not only postcard-worthy scenery but also unique hydrothermal and geologic features, not to mention amazing wildlife viewing opportunities. Visitors can walk the maintained trails to see hot springs, geysers, and more, or set out for a hike on approximately 1,000 miles of trails. Other activities include horseback riding, biking, camping, fishing, boating, and swimming. In the winter, you can explore the park by skis, snowshoes, and snowmobile.
For more travel news and tips, check out The 10 Best Places to Travel Internationally This Spring.
- Alabama: McWane Science Center.
- Alaska: Glacier Bay National Park.
- Arizona: Grand Canyon National park.
- Arkansas: Magic Springs and Crystal Falls Water and Theme Park.
- California: Disneyland Park.
- Colorado: Garden of the Gods.
- Connecticut: The Mark Twain House & Museum.
California. California is the most visited state in the United States. The state's vast area is home to various vibrant cities, amusement parks, beaches and natural wonders that are popular among travelers from America and the rest of the world.Why is tourist attraction important? ›
Tourist attractions contribute significantly to the tourism industry. They typically reap economic benefits of tourism and/or promote the local culture, heritage and environment. This can often result in increased environmental preservation- a positive environmental impact of tourism.What is the number one tourist state? ›
- 25 Top Tourist Attractions in the USA.
- 7 Beautiful Mid-Atlantic States.
- 12 Best Museums in New York City.
- 12 Best Small Towns in New York.
- 16 Best Cities in New York to Live and Visit.
- 12 Best Things to Do in Buffalo, NY.
- 9 Best Day Trips from New York City.
- 20 Top Tourist Attractions in Chicago.
- ALABAMA: College football. Alabama Crimson Tide fans. ...
- ALASKA: The Northern Lights. The Northern Lights. ...
- ARIZONA: The Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon. ...
- ARKANSAS: Former President Bill Clinton. ...
- CALIFORNIA: Hollywood. ...
- COLORADO: Skiing. ...
- CONNECTICUT: Casinos. ...
- DELAWARE: NASCAR.
The top ten States/UT in terms of number of domestic tourist visits (in millions) during 2020, were Tamil Nadu (140.65), Uttar Pradesh (86.12), Karnataka (77.45) , Andhra Pradesh (70.83), Telangana (40.00), Maharashtra (39.23), West Bengal (28.84), Madhya Pradesh (23.52), Gujarat (19.46) and Punjab (16.69).Which city attracts the most tourists? ›
Bangkok. What is this? Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is the most visited city in the world thanks to a whopping 22 millions international visitors!What is the most traveled place in the US? ›
As of 2018, New York City is the most visited destination in the United States, followed by Los Angeles, Orlando, Las Vegas, and Chicago. Tourists spend more money in the United States than any other country, while attracting the third-highest number of tourists after France and Spain.What is the most visited vacation destination in the United States? ›
New York City
New York City attracted a record 66.6 million tourists in 2019, according to NYC & Company, the city's tourism promotion agency. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the city is the number 1 most popular place to visit in the U.S.