Lots of people, when they start talking about travel, mention the classic great places to visit in the US. They want to see New York City, Los Angeles, and Florida. There’s nothing wrong with a vacation to any of these places, but it’s easy to forget that there are thousands of US tourist attractions, and even more, thousands of unique places to visit in the US!
We may be a young country in comparison to most others, but we have certainly done a lot with our history, and the travel lovers of this country get to benefit from it.
If you’ve been looking to see more of the wonderful United States of America, then we’re here to help guide you with this concise list of awesome US tourist attractions that really should be on your bucket list.
8 US Tourist Attractions to Add to Your Bucket List
If you’ve been on Instagram at all in the past few years, you’ve probably noticed an alarming trend. Everyone seems to be flocking to the same destinations, taking the same photos, and posting the same pictures.
While some of this undoubtedly has to do with the lower cost of travel worldwide, it’s also a sign of a lack of originality. But what about some of the places that are less known? These US tourist attractions should be on your radar.
Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California
Our first stop takes us to beautiful Monterey, California, a seaside town in the northern part of the state, just south of San Francisco. Monterey is home to the Cannery Row of John Steinbeck fame, and right at the edge of that historic street is the beautiful Monterey Bay Aquarium.
The aquarium houses a huge and diverse collection of marine animals ranging from giant pacific octopuses to sea otters to gorgeous jellyfish. You can take in views of the open sea through the center’s 90-foot window and marvel at the giant kelp forest and the ecosystem that lives around it, through yet another gigantic window.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium prides itself in inspiring the conservation of the ocean and strives to be a leader in science education. Part of their work includes creating and hosting various programs focused on marine science and public policy.
To help further their aim regarding conservation and protection of marine wildlife, the aquarium also has initiatives working with various local and national government officials.
As a nonprofit organization, the aquarium relies on the support and donations from its patrons. So you can feel good about adding this location to your bucket list. You’ll get to experience something new and see fantastic marine life up close and personal while being able to support their efforts in marine conservation.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is a great destination for kids and adults alike, anyone who wants to learn about ocean animals and specifically ocean conservation.
The French Quarter, New Orleans
Next, we head way down south to New Orleans’s historic French Quarter, a perpetual tourist spot that everyone just has to visit when they’re in town.
The 18th-century French Quarter seems to be a world unto itself. You’ll be greeted by a ton of unique shops, boutiques, restaurants, and more. You’ll want to check out the history-laden Jackson Square and the legendary Bourbon Street, which boasts as many bars and adult clubs as the eye can see.
This isn’t a place to go if you’re looking for some quiet rest and relaxation. The French Quarter is a party place, and they do it well.
National Mall, Washington, D.C.
We end our U.S. trip with a stop in our nation’s capital at the National Mall. Washington, D.C., being the seat of the national government, holds within its bounds more history and historical documentation than you can imagine, and perhaps nowhere is that more evident than at the National Mall.
The national park is a large area of manicured green space, water, and history, of course. In the National Mall alone, you can visit the Constitution Gardens, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and the U.S. Capitol building, to name just a few things.
Check them all out to get a sense of the nation’s history, a feeling for what kind of figures and ideas we honor at the seat of national power. Not only is the National Mall beautiful, but it’s vastly educational, as well.
Less Traveled Places in the US
There’s something to be said for exploring the off-the-beaten-path world. If you’re looking for spectacular, unsaturated US tourist attractions that are unspoiled by hordes of people then this list is for you. Guaranteed you’ll be the first to Instagram most of these.
The Space Coast, Florida
The Space Coast is actually a region in Florida, and it’s mainly referring to the coastal area along the Atlantic side of Central Florida. Cities on the Space Coast include Cocoa Beach, Cape Canaveral, Titusville, Melbourne, and New Smyrna.
The Space Coast gets its name because this is where NASA’s Kennedy Space Center is located, so it’s possible to see a rocket launch during your visit if you time things right. While there are a lot of space-themed attractions in this region, the real shining star is the beach.
Unlike other Florida beaches, the Space Coast is relatively untouched.
You won’t see crowds of tourists or skyrises here! Just sun, sand, and relaxation. Check out the “Ultimate Guide to the Space Coast from a local” to start planning your trip.
While the Midwest might not be anyone’s first idea of an exciting vacation, there’s a lot to love about Tulsa, Oklahoma. Surprisingly, this is a popular place to explore if you’re looking for new US tourist attractions.
This is the second-largest city in the state, and there’s so much to do here.
Believe it or not, this is a bustling city with some of the best food, art, and architecture in the nation. In fact, Tulsa boasts one of the largest collections of art deco architecture in the country.
Who knew! Review these “30 fun things to do in Tulsa by Busy Tourist” for some inspiration.
Cave City, Kentucky
Like Oklahoma, you probably didn’t expect to see Kentucky on this list either. It turns out there’s more to do in the Midwest than you might have thought. While you won’t find any bustling cities in Kentucky, there are so many natural sights to see.
If you’re an outdoor lover, you’ve got to head to Cave City.
As you might have guessed from the name, Cave City is home to the world-famous Mammoth Cave, located in Mammoth Cave National Park. This is actually the longest cave system known in the world, so there’s a lot of exploring to do both above and below ground.
This guide to Cave City breaks down everything you should do while visiting the area.
Olympic National Park, Washington
Olympic National Park is another outdoor wonder worth exploring if you’re interested in either exploring nature or simply being surrounded by lovely views. Located in the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State, you can get here in just 2 hours from Seattle.
This is one of the only places in the country where you can explore several biomes all within a few hours. From the Hoh Rain Forest to Lake Crescent to the elevated views of Hurricane Ridge, this is a spectacular place to take in the diversity of nature.
Watkins Glen State Park, New York
Ranked one of the top 3 state parks in the US, Watkins Glen State Park is home to 19 spectacular waterfalls, each located along its walkable Gorge Trail making it a favorite on our list of US tourist attractions.
A short two-mile journey will reveal the water of the glen’s stream which drops 400 feet into a gorge with 200-foot walls. From here it cascades down 19 different waterfalls, each one just as incredible as the next.
Rim trails and the Gorge Trail overlook the gorge and wind alongside, over, and under the falls. There are also a number of smaller trails that lead from the Gorge Trail to a variety of other hikes and activities within the park such as swimming pools, guided tours, and picnic sites.
If you really want a photographic experience, go during the peak fall season.
Ready to Explore?
It’s time to say goodbye to tried-and-true destinations and say hello to something new. All of these spots above might not be found in any “Top Destinations” guidebooks, but they’re definitely worth your time.
There’s something alluring about visiting somewhere that seems to break the norm of the usual vacation. What’s holding you back? Add these US tourist attractions to your travel bucket list and get started. You never know where you might wind up!