12 Top Tourist Attractions in the USA

Travelling to popular U.S. landmarks can sometimes feel like a wild goose chase, dodging crowds and long queues. But fear not, we at Crown Currency Exchange have done the legwork for you, sifting through the hype to bring you 12 genuine gems that truly sparkle.

From landmarks that have become synonymous with America’s identity to parks that will leave you awestruck, these attractions are your key to an American escapade that will be etched in your memory forever. So, get your bucket list ready for some new additions and start zipping up that suitcase!

Denali National Park, Alaska

Denali National Park, Alaska

Scaling the heights of North America, Denali National Park stands majestically in Alaska’s wilderness. Far more than a mountain, it’s an adventure lover’s paradise. From spotting grizzly bears to marvelling at glaciers, there’s no room for boredom here. With over 6 million acres of protected wilderness, it’s larger than New Jersey and teeming with wildlife. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or a chill-seeker, Denali’s 22 hours of sunlight ensures plenty of time to soak in its awe-inspiring beauty.

Things to do:

1. Experience Denali National Park & Preserve

With over 6 million acres of wilderness waiting to be explored, this is where every nature lover’s dreams come true. Venture through forests, glaciers, and tundra, and you might just stumble upon some wild neighbours – grizzly bears, wolves, caribou, and other untamed locals. Just remember to keep your distance, these are wild animals, not pets!

2. Get lost (not literally) on the Denali Highway

Want to feel like you’re in a National Geographic documentary? Hop into a Jeep 4×4 and drive down the Denali Highway, rated the #2 drive of a lifetime by National Geographic itself. With breathtaking views at every turn, don’t forget to stop and take it all in (and maybe a few pictures!).

3. Go on an adventure tour

If you’re a thrill-seeker, Denali has got your adrenaline cravings covered. From battling the rapids on the Nenana River to ziplining through the forests, there’s an adventure for everyone. And if you prefer a quieter pace, you can enjoy a leisurely hike or camp under the stars.

Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park, Montana

Dubbed the “Crown of the Continent”, Glacier National Park in Montana is a nature lover’s dream. Prepare to be enchanted by lush rainforests, whimsical wildflower meadows, majestic glacial peaks, and sparkling lakes. With year-round activities like biking the Going-to-the-Sun Road or kayaking on Lake McDonald, every season offers unique experiences.

Things to do:

1. Drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road

Imagine a road so breathtaking that you’ll forget about your fear of heights. That’s the Going-to-the-Sun Road for you! This 50-mile (80-kilometre) journey is no less than an epic quest, meandering through regal mountains, vanquishing the Continental Divide, and revealing gasp-inducing vistas at every bend. Remember to check your vehicle size, as larger ones may not be allowed due to the narrow and rocky terrain. And don’t worry if you can’t drive it, you can still experience it on a park shuttle or a Red Bus Tour.

2. Visit Logan Pass

At 6,646 feet (2,026 metres), Logan Pass is the highest point on the Going-to-the-Sun Road and the ultimate selfie spot. With sweeping views of jagged mountains and fields of wildflowers, it’s like stepping into a postcard. If you’re in the mood for a hike, the Hidden Lake and Highline Trail start here.

3. Hike your heart out

From short, easy strolls to epic backcountry trails, Glacier National Park is a hiker’s paradise. The Trail of the Cedars is like a stroll through an enchanted forest, with cedar trees so lush, you’ll want to hug them. And the scenic payoff? A breath-stealing view of Avalanche Gorge. For something more challenging, the Avalanche Lake trail rewards you with a beautiful lake view. Just remember to start early to avoid the crowds.

Golden Gate Bridge, California

Golden Gate Bridge, California

The Golden Gate Bridge, spanning the majestic Golden Gate strait, is not just any California landmark – it’s a must-do experience that will blow your mind! A walk across its 1.7-mile (2,737 metres) length is not just great exercise but also an opportunity to soak in the history. Whether you’re seeking romance under twinkling lights, family fun, or even a dose of adrenaline, Golden Gate Bridge delivers. Don’t just cross a bridge over San Francisco Bay, make unforgettable memories!

Things to do:

1. Experience the Welcome Center and Onsite Exhibits

Start your adventure at the Golden Gate Bridge’s Welcome Center where you’ll find historical exhibits, unique souvenirs, and a glimpse of the original 12-foot (3.66-metre) stainless steel bridge “test tower”.

2. Join a Free Walking Tour

History buffs know that a guided tour is like a time machine, bringing the past to life with a touch of magic. Offered twice-weekly by San Francisco City Guides, these free walking tours will take you on a journey through time as you cross one of the world’s most famous bridges. Just remember to wear comfortable shoes, this is a history lesson you won’t want to sit out.

3. Hike and Explore

If you prefer your sightseeing with a side of fresh air, both ends of the Golden Gate Bridge connect to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. With stunning trails, scenic vistas, and the brand-new Golden Gate and Pacific Overlooks, it’s the ultimate spot to give your legs a good stretch and your eyes a feast. Whether you’re a casual stroller or a seasoned hiker, there’s a corner of this urban national park waiting for you to discover.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Feast your eyes on the Grand Canyon, a national historic landmark that’s been lovingly preserved by our friends at the National Park Service. Get ready to have your socks knocked off by towering canyons, dramatic crevasses, and views that will leave you speechless (and seriously considering a career in landscape photography). Whether you decide to dip your toes with a simple day trip or dive headfirst into a multi-day hiking extravaganza, you’ll be treated to a kaleidoscope of colours and rock formations that are, in a word, remarkable.

Things to do:

1. Take a Stroll Through Grand Canyon Village

Snugly nestled on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, prepare to be captivated by its myriad attractions. From charming historic buildings to awe-inspiring art galleries, there’s a world of exploration awaiting you. Remember to pack your essentials – a water bottle, hat, sunscreen, and a tasty snack – as you’ll surely want to linger and soak up the magic. And if parking poses a challenge, fear not! Just hop aboard one of the park’s complimentary shuttles and let the adventure unfold.

2. Hike the South Rim

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, get ready to have your heart stolen by the South Rim. It’s so incredibly captivating that it should come with a warning: “May cause love at first sight!”. With well-known activities like hiking the Canyon Rim Trail and mule rides, it’s no wonder that 90% of Grand Canyon visitors make a beeline for the South Rim. Get an early start to avoid congestion at the entrance gates, and immerse yourself in the breathtaking viewpoints along Hermit Road or the historic Desert View Watchtower.

3. Explore the Bright Angel Trail

Get your heart pumping and your camera clicking on the Bright Angel Trail. Starting just west of the Bright Angel Lodge, this steep path takes you down to the mighty Colorado River. With several tunnels and rest houses along the way, you can choose your own adventure. Whether you’re in for a quick 20-minute trek to the first tunnel or ready to tackle the challenging 19.8-mile (31.87 kilometre) round trip, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the inner canyon.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Illinois

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Illinois

Escape to the “Most Beautiful Place in America” as crowned by ABC’s Good Morning America – the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. It’s like Mother Nature took her paintbrush and created this masterpiece with sandy beaches, towering bluffs, and verdant forests snuggling up to the shimmering waters of Lake Michigan. This place is a buffet of experiences – thrilling water escapades, peaceful wildlife meet-and-greets, each season unfurling its own unique magic. Dive into summer swims, marvel at the vibrant fall foliage, or indulge in winter sports amidst the snow-kissed dunes.

Things to do:

1. Marvel at the Stars on a Bonfire

Find yourself under the enchanting blanket of the night sky at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Even on a regular night, you can enjoy a beach bonfire on the shore, watching the stars come alive as the evening unfolds. Just remember to clean up and extinguish your fire properly. The north and west-facing beaches, shielded by the bluffs from city lights, offer the best celestial views.

2. Step Back in Time at Glen Haven

Immerse yourself in history at the iconic village of Glen Haven. Here, you’ll find the picturesque red Glen Haven Canning company building and one of the park’s prettiest beaches. Watch as the blacksmith crafts horseshoe from a hot iron, picks up some penny candy and learns fascinating history at the general store and neighbouring museum. It’s a charming step back into the 1920s.

3. Cycle the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail

Take a delightful spin through the park on the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail. This 22-mile (35.41 kilometre) adventure will lead you to iconic spots like the Dune Climb and Glen Haven. Don’t forget to pause in the artsy beach towns of Empire and Glen Arbor for some tasty treats and quirky shopping.

Las Vegas Strip, Nevada

Las Vegas Strip, Nevada

Las Vegas Strip, the pulsating artery of Sin City, is an intoxicating blend of audacious attractions and colossal casinos. From iconic establishments like Bellagio and MGM Grand for the gamblers to hedonistic mega clubs and urban rollercoasters for thrill-seekers, it’s a spectacle that defies belief. Savour the romance of Venice at The Venetian, or marvel at the symphony of water and light at the Bellagio fountains. Whether you crave high-stakes excitement, exquisite dining, or wild nights, the Las Vegas Strip is your playground of limitless possibilities.

Things to do:

1. Get Lost in the Casino Wonderland

Whether you’re a high roller or just feeling lucky, these establishments promise an unbeatable gaming experience. But remember, what goes down in Vegas stays in Vegas, so unleash your wild side and savour the adrenaline rush. And don’t forget, while you’re betting, drinks are on the house – just remember to tip!

2. Experience World-class Entertainment

When the sun sets, the Strip truly comes alive. From Michelin-starred restaurants like Guy Savoy serving exquisite haute cuisine to breathtaking acrobatic performances by Cirque du Soleil, there’s no shortage of nighttime entertainment. So dress up, step out, and prepare to be dazzled by the glittering nightlife of Sin City.

3. Explore Miniature Worlds

Take a break from the USA and traverse the romantic canals of Venice at The Venetian, or stand under the twinkling Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas. These delightful replicas of famous cities let you travel the world without even leaving the Strip!

Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota

Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota

At Mount Rushmore National Memorial, you’ll marvel at the grandeur of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln, immortalised in granite. Unravel the monument’s captivating history, embrace riveting ranger programs, and don’t dare miss the illuminating Night Lighting Ceremony.

Things to do:

1. Step into the Sculptor’s Studio

Discover the enchantment woven into the birth of Mount Rushmore. Venture into Gutzon Borglum’s creative haven, where his visionary ideas sprouted. Get ready for a historical adventure, marvelling at the intricacies of Borglum’s monumental masterpiece. It’s a masterpiece so grand even the mountains blush with envy.

2. Embark on the Presidential Trail Hike

Dust off those hiking boots and strut your stuff on the Presidential Trail. This isn’t just any old path, it’s your VIP pass to unique perspectives of that famous monument and an immersive deep-dive into the rich tapestry of the Lakota, Nakota, and Dakota tribes’ heritage.

3. Chill with Thomas Jefferson…Ice Cream

After a day of sightseeing, what could be better than a scoop of ice cream? Not just any ice cream, but Thomas Jefferson’s recipe! Head to Carver’s Marketplace for this presidential treat – it’s a taste of history that’s sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Niagara Falls, New York

Niagara Falls, New York

Get ready to have your mind blown by the mind-boggling power and jaw-dropping beauty of Niagara Falls, New York. Put on your ponchos and get up close and personal with the falls on the Maid of the Mist boat tour or the Cave of the Winds. And that’s not all! Explore pristine trails, indulge in award-winning wines on the Niagara Wine Trail, or take a step back in time at Old Fort Niagara.

Things to do:

1. Experience Niagara Falls State Park

As the oldest state park in the U.S., nature’s marvels will leave you in awe. Get ready for breathtaking views of majestic falls from Terrapin Point. Take a stroll along the curving paths, spot native wildlife, and don’t forget to capture the unrivalled beauty of American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, exclusively accessible from the New York side.

2. Brave the Cave of the Winds

What once was a dangerous thrill for 19th-century tourists is now a sturdy walkway in front of Bridal Veil Falls, offering an unforgettable close encounter with the roaring cascade. A modern elevator ensures a safe descent, but be prepared – soaking is guaranteed!

3. Board the Maid of the Mist

Since 1846, these boats have been offering a unique perspective on the falls. Departing from the state park, they take you towards the thunderous Horseshoe Falls for an unforgettable ride. Pull on your poncho and embrace the refreshing spray – Niagara Falls looks even more spectacular when you’re standing in the ‘mist’ of it.

Times Square, New York

Times Square, New York

A dazzling spectacle of lights, Times Square in New York is an absolute must-visit. It’s a playground for the young and young at heart, with attractions like M&M’s World and Hershey’s Chocolate World. Rub shoulders with superheroes, marvel at colossal billboards, and savour giant pretzels. Experience Broadway’s magic, and perhaps catch a show like ‘The Lion King’. Plus, it’s not just for humans – your furry friends are welcome too! And remember, there’s always something happening in this buzzing cultural hub.

Things to do:

1. Climb the Crimson Staircase at TKTS Booth

Nestled in Father Duffy Square is Times Square’s ruby jewel – a 27-step, 16-foot (4.88-metre) high staircase. This elevated vantage point is the perfect spot to pause, inhale deeply, and indulge in the captivating neon spectacle of Times Square. As an added bonus, the booth behind it offers discounted same-day tickets for Broadway performances.

2. Admire the Neon Canopy

Times Square isn’t just your average spot; it’s a dazzling display of lights that’ll leave you spellbound. The LED billboards there are like works of art. And guess what? You can even peep at Times Square through the live webcam, all from the cosy confines of your home. It’s like having a virtual slice of New York right at your fingertips. Talk about having the world at your window!

3. Be Dazzled by Iconic Billboards

Did you know that buildings around Times Square are legally required to display illuminated signs? Keep an eye out for some of the famous ones: the four-story high American Eagle Outfitters billboard with 15,000 square feet (1.39 square metres) of LED lighting or the towering NASDAQ and Thomson Reuters signs. Don’t miss the One Times Square Billboard directly in front of the red steps. You can check stocks and the latest Broadway productions all in one glance!

Walt Disney World Resort, Florida

Walt-Disney-World-Resort-Florida

With four theme parks, including the iconic Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort offers an escape into a world where magic is as common as sunshine in Orlando. From the meticulous attention to detail that weaves immersive stories to the sparkling cleanliness and safety measures, this destination is practically perfect in every way. And with Disney’s uncanny ability to ignite wanderlust, it’s the ultimate launching pad for future globetrotters.

Things to do:

1. Embrace Your Inner Child at the Magic Kingdom

Prepare to have your socks blown off, your laughter box tickled, and your grin stretched wider than a Cheshire cat’s! Hop, skip, and space-zoom your way through the fantastical Magic Kingdom. Take a wild spin in a teacup or zip around the cosmos – it’s a buffet of whimsy that’ll have you rediscovering your inner child. Remember, in the Magic Kingdom, age is just a number!

2. Make a Splash at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park

Trade your mouse ears for a swimsuit and dive into a day of sun-soaked fun at Typhoon Lagoon. Whether you’re surfing the six-foot swells at the Surf Pool, plunging down the Humunga Kowabunga waterslide, or simply floating along the lazy river, this tropical paradise is the perfect place to cool off and cut loose.

3. Go On a Culinary Adventure at Disney Springs

After a day of heart-pounding rides and mind-blowing shows, indulge your taste buds in a truly enchanting dining experience at Disney Springs. And if retail therapy is calling your name, get ready to embark on a whimsical shopping adventure. Discover a delightful mix of charming boutiques, iconic brand-name stores, and enchanting Disney-themed shops.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Step into Yellowstone National Park, an otherworldly spectacle on Earth where geysers erupt with a thrilling spontaneity and hot springs dazzle with their kaleidoscopic colours. As America’s pioneering national park, this gem in Wyoming is a testament to the country’s unruly splendour and geological wizardry. From the legendary Old Faithful to the awe-inspiring bison herds, Yellowstone presents an immersive wilderness escapade that defies the constraints of reality.

Things to do:

1. Marvel at the Geysers and Hot Springs

Yellowstone is a geyser-gazer’s paradise! Witness the reliable spectacle of Old Faithful, or for a more serene experience, explore the Upper Geyser Basin. Don’t miss the Grand Prismatic Hot Spring – a vibrant, football-field-sized wonder that’s the third-largest spring in the world.

2. Spot Wildlife in their Natural Habitat

From grizzly bears to the majestic wild bison herd, this park is a bustling hub of diverse species. And for the best chance of spotting wolves and bears, make a beeline for Lamar Valley. It’s like their favourite hangout spot.

3. Hike the Iconic Trails

Unleash your inner adventurer and conquer the park’s expansive trail system. Whether you choose Fairy Falls, Mount Washburn, or Avalanche Peak, each trail promises an exhilarating journey through Yellowstone’s untamed wilderness.

Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite National Park, California

Delve into the heart of California’s wilderness at Yosemite National Park. Whether you’re captivated by the iconic Half Dome, the mighty El Capitan, or the park’s enchanting hiking trails, Yosemite guarantees an adventure of epic proportions. Don’t fret about the crowds – early birds will be treated to tranquil moments and breathtaking vistas.

Things to do:

1. Hiking in Yosemite Valley

The Valley Floor Loop takes you through the park’s best bits, while the Mirror Lake Loop Trail shows off Half Dome’s sassy mirror reflections. And for all you nature lovers, the Sentinel Meadow & Cook’s Meadow Loop offers a springtime extravaganza of blooming wildflowers and thundering waterfalls.

2. Conquer Half Dome

This isn’t a walk in the park. This is the Half Dome we’re talking about – a beast of a hike that’s not for the timid. It’s a rite of passage for the thrill-chasers among us, a journey that’ll take you to the summit of the famous Half Dome and reward your efforts with views that’ll knock your hiking socks off. Just remember, while we love a good adventure, we also love safety.

3. Enjoy a Scenic Drive

Kick back, unwind, and let the stunning spectacle of Yosemite unravel right in front of your eyes. The park’s picturesque drives serve up breathtaking vistas of the Sierra Nevada, taking you past trailheads and iconic landmarks. It’s an incredible opportunity to explore parts of the park that may be a tad out of your hiking league.

Final Thoughts

These 12 top attractions represent just a fraction of what the USA has to offer. Each place tells a unique story, reflecting the rich tapestry of American culture and natural splendour.

So, are you ready to embark on your own American adventure? Remember, at Crown Currency Exchange, we’re here to make your travel dreams a reality. If you need help sourcing competitively-priced AUD to USD currency exchange, feel free to contact us – we’re always happy to help.

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