Just because you have a large family or find yourself on a budget, doesn’t mean you have to stay at home and pout. The good news is that there are numerous cultural, historic, kitschy, and fun landmarks right here in this beautiful country of ours.
So what are you waiting for? Hop in the car, tune up the music, and take a route to a few of these ten must-see US landmarks…
1. Washington Monument, Washington, D.C.
Standing proud between the U.S. Capitol and the White House, the Washington Monument soars 555-feet up, into the great blue yonder. Constructed completely of white marble, striking blue gneiss, and granite, you’ll want to snap some photos of it in the distance from the outlook at the National Mall. But the adventure doesn’t stop there. You can actually take the family to the top if they’re willing to brave the often long lines (from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. daily) and white-knuckle it to the top on the swift elevator that whisks you to the observation level for a spectacular vista of our nation’s capital.
2. Rocky Mountains, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming
Stretching from Colorado all the way to Wyoming, the Rocky Mountains will leave you awe-struck—both because of their panoramic beauty and due to the sheer multitude of outdoor adventures they offer. From snowboarding to skiing and from hiking to off road cycling, the whole family will love it!
3. Statue of Liberty, New York, New York
The Statue of Liberty bids welcome with her flaming torch from Liberty Island in New York Harbor. Big and small kids alike will be impressed by the lady’s size and magnificence. She was actually a gift of bestowed by France in 1886, and you can easily check her out, in all of her glory, via a harbor boat cruises, which takes you around Liberty Island or via a sail and tour of Liberty Island, in which you can climb to the top of her crown and check out the stunning vistas of New York City.
4. Mount Rushmore, Keystone, South Dakota
The presidents carved into Mount Rushmore, located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, were sculpted out of Harney Peak granite by artist Gutzon Borglum, who captured the first 150 years of American history in the likenesses of US presidents—George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Today, you can get a good look at the project that took 14 years to accomplish via an informative 30-minute guided tour about America’s history along the Presidential Trail.
5. Yellowstone Park, Wyoming
Yellowstone National Park is home to Old Faithful (one of the world’s most unique geysers), as well as a plethora of wildlife, including grizzly bears, elk, wolves, and bison. Stretching over Wyoming and inching into Montana and Idaho, the hiking, birding, and photography opportunities are endless in America’s very first national park.
6. Grand Canyon, Arizona
The Grand Canyon is proof of Nature’s amazing power and beauty. One can’t help but be amazed by the immensity of the steep-sided canyon, which stretches 277 miles (446 km) long, 18 miles wide, and dives over a mile into the vast open space carved out by the Colorado River. The surrounding Grand Canyon National Park preserves the local land and wildlife in the area, making an ideal hiking opportunity around one of the worlds “Seven Natural Wonders”!
7. Hoover Dam, Nevada-Arizona
Constructed from 1931 and 1936 to slow and store water from the Colorado River, the Hoover Dam lies on the Nevada-Arizona border. The sweeping 726.4-foot concrete dam wall attracts history buffs, engineers, and architectural enthusiasts for guided tours of the dam and adjoining power plant.
8. Niagara Falls, New York
A popular wedding destination (if drive-thru is your thing); the city of Niagara Falls, New York is home to another natural wonder of the world—the famed and romantic Niagara Falls. You can check out the falls for photo opps or even take a boat tour. But don’t ignore the other city attractions such as casinos, museums, hotels, and restaurants.
9. The Space Needle, Seattle, Washington
Built in 1962 for Seattle World’s Fair, the futuristic Space Needle stands 605-feet high and is a lasting symbol of the city itself, and the potential of the modern world. You can purchase a ticket to ride the elevator to the 520-foot-high observation deck for a panoramic view of the city below or dinner at the swanky SkyCity revolving restaurant.
10. Empire State Building, New York, New York
Apart from the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building is one of the Big Apple’s most iconic structures. Built in 1930 to 1,453-feet, 8 9/16-inch heights, the Empire State Building hosts two observatories on the 86th floor (at 1,050-feet) and 102nd (at 1,250-feet) floors. You can visit year round, daily, from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m.