With international flights getting more affordable on a regular basis, it’s no surprise that around 75 million people visit the United States every year. With a population of over 325 million people, you are bound to find there is a range of attractions that both caters to US citizens and tourists visiting the country.
What’s more, you can travel to the United States a dozen or more times and still not experience everything it has to offer. After all, it encompasses 50 states and covers a significant portion of North America all the way through to the Pacific Ocean with Hawaii.
If you have decided it’s time to plan your big overseas trip and North America is on your wish list, you may find it’s a good idea to look for things to do in the United States. If you choose to “wing it” when you arrive, you run the risk of getting overwhelmed with the many options.
From the hustle and bustle of Atlantic Coast cities such as New York to a Midwestern metropolis such as Chicago, you are spoilt for choice when you’re looking for things to do in the United States. If you need help planning your itinerary, here are nine things to do in the United States on your next visit.
9. The Grand Canyon in Arizona
Every year, around five million people visit the Grand Canyon, and it’s not hard to see why. While it’s not the largest canyon in existence, its beauty is still overwhelming – as is its size. It’s 277 miles long, stretches 18 miles wide at its broadest point, and encompasses an eclectic mix of rock formations that date back over 200 million years. What’s more, it became a national park in 1919 which has seen it offer many fun activities for those passing through.
Experienced hikers can test their bodies to the limit on the Bright Angel Trail, or even hike down the Colorado River covering a trail of close to 10 miles. Not only can you go hiking in the Grand Canyon, but you can stay in the Grand Canyon Village for the night, go on bike tours, and even take part in water rafting trips – both smooth and whitewater.
Or, if you’re not an adventure junkie and you’re still looking for things to do in the United States, you can simply stop by, take a few photos, and marvel at the beauty this area has to offer.
8. Niagara Falls in New York
On the border of New York in the USA and Ontario in Canada sits a beautiful landmark that’s well worth visiting. If you want to include natural beauties on your list of things to do in the United States, this one should be at the top of your list.
It is considered one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world and encompasses three different waterfalls which fall into the Niagara River. With all three falls – Horseshoe, American, and Bridal Veil, the flow rate is the highest out of all waterfalls in the world.
However, the beauty is not the only thing going for Niagara Falls, but the history and sheer size of it as well. Given its size and age, of around 10,000 years, it is a hot spot for tourists to visit, but it also serves a purpose. It produces electricity and drains the water from Lake Erie and puts it into Lake Ontario in Canada. However, the erosion rate means it’s not around forever. Scientists believe that in 50,000 years, this waterfall that attracts 30 million visitors every year will be but a distant memory.
7. The Golden Gate Bridge in California
When you’re compiling a list of things to do in the United States when you begin your travels, it’s crucial to include at least one trip over the Golden Gate Bridge. Considered one of the most stunning bridges in the world, it spans the Golden Gate Strait and has now become a well-known and iconic United States Landmark.
However, the construction of the 27-million-dollar Golden Gate Bridge wasn’t smooth sailing. Before construction even began, 2,300 lawsuits were in effect to rule against it, and it took several court proceedings to approve the final design. What’s more, an initial plan was hidden from the public which is vastly different from the one you see today. When construction began, it was a dangerous undertaking. Even though a huge emphasis was put on safety – even back in the 1930s, several people lost their lives. In fact, for every $1 million spent, one person died.
The history is something worth considering as you take in this breathtakingly beautiful bridge. It should definitely be on your list of things to do in the United States.
6. Route 66
If you’re a big fan of adventure and are looking for things to do in the United States on your next trip, Route 66 is a must. Featured in many action-packed movies, Route 66 encompasses approximately 2,400 miles, three time zones and eight states from Chicago to Santa Monica. While it is no longer a Federal Highway, having been decommissioned in the 1980s, it’s still a popular road to travel by tourists due to its many activities and sights along the way.
If you stop by Pontiac, you can visit the Hall of Fame and Museum for the Route 66 Association. What’s more, you can benefit from many photograph-worthy areas, rocky cliffs, towns that will charm and delight, as well as parks and deserts to enjoy with your family and friends.
If you begin to travel from Kingman and follow the road west, you will feel the true meaning of isolation. With just you, the road, loose boulders, and cacti, it’s a desolate and sometimes haunting road. If separation is not your idea of a good time, you may like to continue to popular tourist destinations such as the gold mining town of Oatman and the 50,000-year-old Meteor crater in Arizona.
5. Walt Disney World in Florida
If you have chosen to take your children on holiday with you, then you will no doubt find that you won’t be able to avoid going to Walt Disney World in Florida. For children, this sits at the top of their ‘must-do’ list of things to do in the United States.
Packed full of exhilarating rides, Disney characters, and 39 square miles of fun and excitement, your children are sure to have the time of their lives. Walt Disney World is unlike anything you would have experienced before. This resort alone is the size of San Francisco and spans 25,000 acres to wander through. A third of this area, however, is a wilderness preserve.
Close to 60,000 staff work in Walt Disney World and help with everything from gardening, rides, and hospitality, through to laundry and maintenance. Given that Mickey Mouse has close to 300 outfits he mixes and matches on a regular basis, that equates to a lot of laundry on a regular basis.
When you’re looking for things to do in the United States, why not be one of the 52,000-plus people every day who visits Walt Disney World in Florida?
4. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
If you’re looking for things to do in the United States off the mainland, then you may like to hop over to Hawaii and visit the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Covering over 320,000 acres, the park features two active volcanoes, a range of beautiful landscapes, and plenty of things to see, do and experience for the adventurous visitor.
You can meander through the many deserts and forests on a bike, see if you can spot some of the 59 endangered species living in it, or try and name some of the 1,000 plant species calling the Park home as well. Out of the 320,000 acres encompassing the park, much of it is dedicated to preserving wildlife.
At Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, there are over 120,000 acres of wilderness, close to 70 miles of paved roads, and close to 160 miles of marked trails to meander through. With elevation levels as high as close to 13,700 and as low as 0, it’s also an ever-changing terrain that brings over two and a half million visitors every year.
3. Times Square in New York City
Whether you want to see an event or stop in for lunch, Times Square in New York City is sure to be on your list of things to do in the United States. Formerly known as Longacre Square, Times Square is home to many musicals, plays, and bands, as well as housing up to a million people for the Dropping of the Ball on New Years’ Eve.
When it’s not being used for parties and musical events, it’s being used in movies. Times Square features in I Am Legend with Will Smith, as well as Vanilla Sky. Since February of 2011, it also became smoke-free.
2. National Mall in Washington, D.C.
With more than 25 million visits on an annual basis, there has to be a reason why you would visit the National Mall in Washington, D.C. You are sure to find there are actually many. The National Mall, which includes memorials, monuments, and displays of democracy, contains over 9,000 trees, close to 50 drinking fountains, and 26 miles of sidewalks.
However, it’s more than a place to celebrate America. When you add National Mall to your list of things to do in the United States, you will find there are endless amounts of things to do and see within it. You can enjoy 65 memorials and monuments such as the World War II Memorial, as well as eight miles of bike tracks, 15 softball fields, a range of other sports fields, and over 3,800 permitted events annually. National Mall is also responsible for removing 492 tons of air pollution, while caretakers remove up to four tons of rubbish per day.
If you’re planning on visiting the capital, don’t look past National Mall. It’s an area your whole family is sure to enjoy visiting.
1. Mount Rushmore in South Dakota
Trying to think of things to do in the United States is challenging because there are so many standout landmarks that are well worth your consideration. However, if you happen to be in South Dakota, there’s no way you can go home without taking a trip to Mount Rushmore.
By traveling the Iron Mountain Road, you can be one of the millions of people who take pictures up close and personal with the former US presidents carved in stone. This 14-year project took almost one billion dollars to complete, and 90 percent of the head area was carved out with dynamite. And, while Thomas Jefferson is on the left of George Washington, he was initially on the right. It took close to two years for the team working on this mammoth task to realize it wasn’t working and they changed tactics.
However, it’s not just the presidents’ faces you will find at Mount Rushmore, but a hidden carving as well. Behind the heads is a cave named the Hall of Records. The idea behind this cave was to house Mount Rushmore’s history, but a lack of funding meant it was never finished. Very rarely do you come across carvings as intricate and as extensive as these, so when you’re in the area, and you’re looking for things to do in the United States, visit Mount Rushmore.
If you’re in the beginning stages of planning your overseas adventure, you’ll be pleased to know there is no shortage of things to do in the United States. Whether you stick to the hustle and bustle of New York City or you venture off the beaten track to Hawaii, you will be overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of things to see, do, and experience in this densely populated country. Don’t waste any more time. Write your list, book your flights, and make your way to the land of the free.