The 10 Most Visited States in the U.S. by Foreign Travelers

As much as people who are native to the United States probably take their home country for granted, the reality is it’s a beautiful place to visit, especially if you’re just seeing it for the first time. Of course no foreign traveler could realistically see the whole country in one trip, but no matter which coast they start on, there is something to see for everyone. If you want to experience skiing at Lake Tahoe, you can do that in California. Who knows, you just might bump into a celebrity while engaging in your tourist activities. On the other hand if you want to experience the big city to end all big cities, there is of course New York… both the city and the state.That’s actually what this whole list is dedicated to….The 10 Most Visited States in the United States by Foreign Travelers according to the U.S. Department of Commerce –Travel and Tourism Office. Find out which states foreign visitors love to visit most; the state that holds the number one spot won’t surprise you at all, but there are definitely a few in the top 10 that will…here’s the list:

10. Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is home to the three rivers in Pittsburgh and the city of brotherly love, otherwise known as Philadelphia. The latter features the stairs that Rocky Balboa once ran up and also plays host to the Liberty Bell and the culinary delight known as a Philly cheese steak sandwich, both staples of the city that people love whether they are foreign visitors or locals for that matter. What also makes Pennsylvania highly visited is the shopping, although that’s thanks to a lot of Canadians from just north of the boarder.

Those that visit Pennsylvania will find that they run into a lot of German people, because of any nationality, no group of people is more prevalent in the state than Germans. They represent 28.5% of the immigrant population there. Pennsylvania also borders six other states including New York, which makes it easier for foreign travelers to experience different parts of the eastern United States in close proximity to one another. The state itself is also rich in its political history and monuments, so there’s a lot you can see and do when you visit. It’s certainly not the largest state in the country but one of the most popular and populated. Pennsylvania is definitely worth the trip.

Philadelphia Pennsylvania

9. Massachusetts

Massachusetts is the third most populated state in all of America and of course its big city is none other than Boston. The state offers opportunities to see the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots of the NFL and the history and tradition of the  Boston Celtics, Red Sox and Bruins. To say the least if you’re a sports fan at all, you’ll have your hands full with some of the most historic buildings and franchises in all of sports all in one place. Then there is of course the famous Boston Marathon as well.

Outside of the sports realm, you can go to Boston and experience things like the Cheers restaurant from the hit television sitcom and even go whale watching. There is literally no limit to the things you can do and what you can experience in Beantown and everything mentioned here is only scratching the surface. Like any other state in the country, Boston has its share of rich history, landmarks and attractions to go with them. Once you’ve been to Pennsylvania, you could conceivably get to Boston on the same trip, making it a very worthy side trip.

Massachusetts state house

8. Illinois

The state of Illinois moves us to the Midwest, and its major city Chicago is one of the most beautiful cities in all of America. Make no mistake that much like New York and other big cities in the United States, it can be quite expensive to visit tourist attractions there and really experience the whole big-city vibe, but if you’re a foreign traveler with money to spend, there is no shortage of a great time available to you. You can go to Wrigley Field and check out the historic Chicago Cubs or just take a walk downtown and be mesmerized by the skyscrapers that create the city’s skyline.

Once you’ve visited the house that Michael Jordan built and hunger strikes, you can visit any number of great restaurants and try a famous deep dish Chicago style pizza for yourself. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind experience. Outside of sports you could always browse the Art Museum of Chicago; some of the pieces of fine art they have there are absolutely spectacular and it gives your mind a break from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Outside of Chicago you could check out the Polish Museum of America or the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Now you know why foreign travelers think Illinois is awesome.

Chicago Illinois skyline

7. Guam

Now we find ourselves getting to one of the two states on this list that actually isn’t part of what we would normally consider to be the United States. Guam is definitely a good piece from the continental U.S.,  located in the western Pacific Ocean -north of Papua New Guinea, but it’s an unincorporated territory of the U.S. Foreign travelers who want a tropical experience can go there and know that they are in America, while avoiding all the hustle and bustle of major cities and settling for more of a beach friendly vacation destination. Along with that beach friendly feel however comes an interesting ecological situation.

The biggest threats to plant life in the state include the brown tree snake and the coconut rhinoceros beetle. Just the name of those animals sounds intimidating, but it’s ironic because the rest of the state is littered with some of the most beautiful sites you’ll see anywhere in America, with the twist of course that it’s located pretty far away from the rest of the country. Guam may not be the number one vacation destination in all of the United States, but the fact that it’s one of the top 10 states in the country as of 2013 speaks volumes of how awesome it actually is.

Tumon Beach Guam

6. Texas

You can’t mess with Texas. The state is home to over 26.5 million people as of the most recent census data, which is probably part of the reason why you always hear that saying, “That’s bigger than the size of Texas”. Texas is big… the food, the night life and especially the football. High school football teams in Texas routinely draw thousands of fans if not tens of thousands. As a foreigner whether you like the game or not, it’s something to experience without a doubt.

Aside from the state’s obsession with football, you can also experience Mexican culture at its finest -with an American twist of course. It’s one of the few places in the country where being able to speak Spanish can get you access to all kinds of cultural diversity in an instant….at least as much as California and Florida. It’s also definitely a lot warmer down south than it is in a lot of other states mentioned on this list, so if you don’t mind the dry Texas heat, the state might have you coming back for another visit in the future. Forget about any stereotypes you may have heard, the state of Texas is definitely worth a tour.

f11photo / Shutterstock.com
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

5. Nevada

Nevada is home to the Mojave Desert and only a few hours away from Arizona’s Grand Canyon. Just those two sites alone are worth the trip to Nevada. Add in the fact that you get the opportunity to immerse yourself in Sin City, and it’s easy to see why foreigners flock to the state. They get to see things they’ve never seen before and can’t see anywhere else and they get to do things that only Las Vegas allows you to do. That’s why they say “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”.

Along with all of the lights and loud ringing of slot machines in casinos comes the opportunity to see some of the greatest one-of-a-kind acts in the world, whether you want to see some comedy, magic, acrobatics or even immerse yourself in the booming culture of electronic dance music… which by the way is currently taking over the Las Vegas party scene. Anything you ever imagined of indulging in can be had in the big city… and some of the coolest things you’ll ever see in your life are located not too far outside of that. Combining the fanfare with the natural beauty of the desert makes Nevada a great hotspot for foreigners to want to come visit.

Elnur / Shutterstock.com
Elnur / Shutterstock.com

4. Hawaii

Here’s the one place in all of America that anybody who loves a tropical destination would want to visit over and over again. Hawaii is absolutely amazing. Breathtaking volcanoes, the beautiful blue ocean and a culture that stands on its own, completely separate from the modern day hustle and bustle that represents most of the American way of living. Foreign travelers obviously didn’t have a problem shelling out the dough in 2013 to see all of it and rightfully so.

The best surfing spots in the world are in Hawaii and there’s something about the sound of a ukulele that just spells relief and relaxation to people who hop on board a plane to visit Honolulu, Maui or any other island in Hawaii for that matter. We all dream of someday being able to put on a lei with a margarita in our hands while being greeted by a beautiful group of locals. For that reason Hawaii will always be one of the most breathtaking, intriguing and amazing places to visit in all of America.

Maui, Hawaii

3. California

California is home to Hollywood. All of the world’s greatest television shows and movies are produced here, and the draw of that alone is what attracts foreign travelers, probably more than any other aspect of California. What is also great about the state is that it’s one of the few places in the world where you can go skiing and hit the beach on the same day. You can get that experience if you visit Lake Tahoe and hit the slopes, where mountains elevate over 8,000 feet in some areas.

Even if you’re bored with chasing around celebrity homes on star maps, skiing or soaking up the sun on the beach, you can always check out California’s vineyards and do a wine tour, see the defending Stanley Cup champions the Los Angeles Kings, or the historic Los Angeles Lakers… or of course the up-and-coming Clippers. There’s always the opportunity to travel to separate San Francisco and check out the Golden Gate Bridge as well. There is absolutely way too much to do in California with the added benefit that the state’s climate is usually warm and features beautiful coastal ocean views.

View Apart / Shutterstock.com
View Apart / Shutterstock.com

2. Florida

There is only one state that is visited more by foreign travelers than that of Florida, but when you consider how many different and cool things you can do in Florida, it pretty much is in a category all by itself. If you want to experience crazy nightlife in an outdoor nightclub, you can find that all over Miami. If you want white sands and bluewater… Miami Beach anyone? Even if you just want to see some indigenous wildlife like manatees and alligators, you can get that in Florida too.

You can do all these great things in Florida and yet we haven’t even mentioned the place that captivates anyone who visits… Disney World. Everybody who can manage it should take at least one trip to Disney World in their lifetime… especially those with young children. You can relive the movies you grew up watching, take a ride to a faraway land and be completely enchanted by the magic of Walt Disney’s vision to create a place where anybody can come and be swept away. It’s an absolutely incredible one-of-a-kind experience that has had foreign travelers flocking to the state for decades. Couple all of that with the consistently warm Florida sunshine, and there’s no reason for people to stop visiting anytime soon.

Disney Hat

1. New York

Of the top 10 states that foreign travelers visited the most in 2013, New York accounts for 30.5% of all those visitors. Even though the state doesn’t have the advantage of warm weather all year around, it does provide a cultural experience, history and entertainment that is unmatched by any other place in America. If you’re a big fan of theatrical productions, you can see the world’s best shows on Broadway. If you want to see historic monuments, the Statue of Liberty is one of the most famous of all time.

Big time sports fan? How about the mecca of basketball; Madison Square Garden. Big fan of music? The most famous bands in the world have played in the same arena before. Heck, it’s dubbed as the world’s most famous arena. Even aside from New York City, if you somehow get bored from being in the city that doesn’t sleep, eating at some of the world’s finest restaurants and hanging out at Times Square, you could always visit one of the neighboring states adjacent to New York, one of the most densely populated areas in the world. With so many reasons to visit New York it’s no wonder people come in droves from all over the world and will continue to do so again and again.

CristinaMuraca / Shutterstock.com
CristinaMuraca / Shutterstock.com

More On MapQuest

Our Top Travel YouTubers
12 Things to See and Do in Auckland
7 Eco-Friendly Kitchen Decor Ideas
6 Savvy Summer Travel Solutions
Boutique Wineries To Visit In Napa
How to get to Pokhara World Peace Pagoda for Sunset…the hard way
10 Most Haunted Cities in America
The Disney World Dilemma: Should You Stay On or Offsite?