The United States certainly has more than its fair share of interesting sights and famous landmarks! From the Atlantic to the Pacific Coast, there is are endless points of interest to stop and gawk at. Curious which iconic U.S. landmarks are the most popular? Here’s a list of the most famous natural and man-made sights to visit in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
1 The Statue of Liberty
Lady Liberty is the single most iconic United States landmark. A symbol of freedom, welcome, and hope, the statue once welcomed new immigrants landing on New York’s shores. Although most immigrants arrive by plane these days, she is still a representation of the opportunities and diversity found in America. Take the ferry to Liberty Island to see the Lady up close. Be sure to get a ticket for pedestal access; this is free but is required to visit the Liberty Island Museum. You’ll need a special advance ticket (extra charge and needs to be reserved well in advance) to climb the 377 steps to the crown.
2 The Liberty Bell
The Liberty Bell is one of the United States’ oldest symbols of patriotism and freedom. Although it’s no longer hanging in the steeple of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell remains one of the most-visited monuments—and certainly the most-visited bell—on the East Coast. The bell dates back to the colonial era, and was established in Philadelphia in the mid-18th Century. Although it is debatable whether the bell was among those rung during the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, it was extremely significant to the Civil Rights Movement, which adopted the Liberty Bell as one of its symbols.
3 Gateway Arch
St. Louis is most famous for its iconic arch, which dominates the skyline of most postcard images. The arch stands at an incredible 630 feet, and it is both the tallest arch in the world and the tallest monument in the Western Hemisphere. The arch commemorates the United States’ expansion, and stands as a symbolic gate to the western half of the continent. Quite appropriately, it is located on the edge of the Mississippi River. Although it looks like solid steel from the outside, the arch is actually hollow! You can enter it and travel up through a tram capsule to the top of the arch. The observation deck offers an incredible view of the surrounding area.
4 Old Faithful
This geyser, located in Yellowstone National Park, erupts predictably on schedule multiple times each day. It has been doing so since before the first European explorer laid eyes on the American continent! Old Faithful is one of the country’s main tourist attractions, and it is by far the most famous sight in Yellowstone. Although it’s been incredibly commercialized, the park has done a great job of keep the area around this iconic landmark fairly natural-looking.
5 Mount Rushmore
Located deep in the Black Hills of South Dakota, Mount Rushmore is an incredible feat of art and engineering. Here, four of the country’s most revered presidents are carved into the rock of the mountain’s face. Although the project was never completed—full torsos were intended to be hewn from the rock– the presidents’ faces were fully constructed. They gaze stoically out at the woodlands, a symbol of the power and influence of the nation’s greatest men. Here’s a secret: the best way to view Mount Rushmore is to take a hike up the hills opposite the mountain.
6 The Space Needle
Seattle, Washington’s Space Needle soars over 600 feet high into the air! The view from the top is absolutely dizzying. The tower was inspired by the space age, and it was constructed for the 1962 World’s Fair.
7 Golden Gate Bridge
Even those generally unfamiliar with the United States tend to know about the Golden Gate Bridge. This stunning work of architecture spans the Golden Gate Strait, a mile-wide body of water separating San Francisco from the rest of California. The bridge is especially stunning at sunset, when it is silhouetted against the brilliant sky and blue water.
8 Empire State Building
While it is no longer the tallest building in New York City, the Empire State Building is still the Big Apple’s most iconic tower. It boasts 102 stories and 1,250 feet, which made it the world’s tallest building when it was constructed back in 1931. This beautiful building is open to the public, so you can walk out onto the observation deck for an awesome view of the endless city streets below.
9 The Hoover Dam
Built under the auspices of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “New Deal” program, this project gave work to many unemployed Americans, creating an incredible architectural feat and new hope for its builders. The dam is built right on the Arizona-Nevada border, which makes it a great mid-point destination for vacationers. Take a helicopter ride over the dam for an amazing aerial view. Aside from being a cool place to visit, Hoover Dam prevents floods, harnesses hydropower, and provides irrigation water for desert crops.
10 Hollywood Sign
Hollywood offers the flashiest and perhaps most recognizable segment of American society. You may be surprised, then, to learn that you have to go quite a bit out of your way to see the Hollywood sign. Los Angeles, where Hollywood is located, is a big place, and the Hollywood neighborhood is not exactly central. Still, if you get a chance to make your way to this Mecca of media, you’ll have to take the scenic drive or hike to see the iconic sign.
11 Cloud Gate
Known to Chicago locals as “The Bean,” this reflective work of modern art is a great photo op and a must-see object when visiting Chicago’s public parks. It’s made of polished stainless steel that warps and bends the city’s skyline—and your own reflection. You can find The Bean at Millennium Park.
12 The Alamo
Remember the Alamo! This old Southwestern fortress used to be in the middle of nowhere. Today, it stands on one of San Antonio’s busy, modern streets, a reminder of what Texas used to be. You can take a tour through the Alamo, and if you’re lucky, see a reenactment of the Battle of the Alamo.
You’ve seen pictures, but have you actually visited these iconic US landmarks? Believe me, it’s just not the same! Be sure to add these most popular American sights to your travel bucket list. Do you have your own favorite famous US landmarks? Add them to the comments!