Unlike some smaller countries, the USA is far too large for a “quick trip” to do it justice. There are too many monuments and other attractions for one to see — you could spend a lifetime hitting all the sites the USA has to offer. Because international travelers are most likely tight on both time and funding, here’s seven iconic American landmarks that’ll give you the most bang for your traveler buck. Bonus: they’re all in cities that should already be on your travel bucket list.
1. The Freedom Trail, Boston
Walk in the footsteps of the American forefathers via this 2.5-mile-long brick path goes through downtown Boston and links together landmarks where the American Revolution unfolded. Visit Faneuil Hall, the Old North Church, or the site of the Boston Massacre. One you’re done, don’t forget to make a stop in an authentic American Irish pub!
Photo credit: Masstravel via Flickr CC
2. Independence Hall, Philadelphia
When it comes to American landmarks with some powerful historical significance, the Independence Hall is it! This is where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution came to be. Now a World Heritage Site, it will give you a good reason to visit Philly.
Photo credit: Peter Miller via Flickr CC
3. The National Mall, Washington D.C.
You could practically consider the city of Washington D.C. itself as a giant American landmark to visit — nowhere else can you find as many museums, monuments, or memorials. The National Mall is not only beautiful, t’s also walking distance from other landmarks. Visit the Capitol, the Washington monument, and the Lincoln memorial — then walk a short distance, which will bring you to the gates of the White House. There are way too many things to do in DC!
4. Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
Not sure if Mount Rushmore still needs introduction given that it could be the most famous memorial in the US. Head to the Black Hills of South Dakota to see the effigies of presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln carved into the granite cliff. As a bonus, parts of South Dakota feel like a kick back to the days where cross-country road trips were the vacation of choice — it’s a true place to get into the spirit of Americana.
5. Gateway Arch, St Louis
Part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Park, this iconic American landmark commemorates St. Louis as the Gateway to the West. Tallest arch in the world and man-made monument in the Western hemisphere, it features an elevator ride that will take you 630 feet above the ground, providing exceptional views of the city and the Mississippi river.
6. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
The Golden Gate Bridge is another American landmark that has become a widely recognized symbol. The mile-long bridge spans over the Golden Gate strait and offers stunning views of the San Francisco Bay area.
For nearly four decades, it was been the longest suspension bridge in the world, and remains a true architectural masterpiece (as well as the most photographed bridge in the world).
7. Statue of Liberty, New York
Lady Liberty could be the most iconic American landmark there is. “Liberty Enlightening the World” has been a symbol of freedom and hope for generations of immigrants. Fun fact: this 151-foot-high sculpture was created in France and shipped in crates to New York City as a gift from the French people to the newly-independent Americans.
Therse are 7 American landmarks I always wanted to visit — mainly because of their historical and cultural significance. I think I would add the Grand Canyon to a list of must-see American places, and recommend seeing the Bean in the beautiful City of Chicago. What’s your favorite American landmark?