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These Top 12 Places in the U.S. Should Be on Every Bucket List

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The United States has so many diverse cities and attractions that it is difficult to narrow down the list to the 12 top travel destinations. These are the destinations most often cited as the places to see before you die, another version of saying they should be on your bucket list—and offbeat and trendy spots are not included here. That’s another topic altogether.

This list is an introduction to the best and most popular places to go in the United States, from hotspots in New York City to when to see the cherry blossoms in Washington.

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New York City

TripSavvy / Donghee Eim

American icons like the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, and Times Square are on every first-time visitor’s list, but they are just a few of the attractions to see in New York City, America’s most populous and most popular city. Also known as the “Big Apple,” New York City is a favorite destination for both domestic and international visitors

Don’t miss a leisurely walk on the High Line, an old-railroad-track-turned-park that features greenery, artwork, and beautiful skyline views. Broadway and the Theater District is the place to go to see the latest plays and musicals, and if you’re an art lover, New York has an embarrassment of riches: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Frick Collection.

Or go shopping on Fifth Avenue, check out Washington Square and Greenwich Village and Rockefeller Center, take a walk through Central Park, and get awed by Grand Central Terminal. If you’re staying for more than a few days, dig deeper into NYC’s architecture or make a trip to Brooklyn.

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Los Angeles

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The lure of Hollywood and its celebrities and the mild breezes from the Pacific Ocean keep Los Angeles on the top of the list of U.S. tourist destinations. Search for top-rated hotels on TripAdvisor near LA’s famous beaches like Malibu or Santa Monica for a luxurious stay. Go shopping on Rodeo Drive, tour Beverly Hills, and walk along the boardwalk in LA’s most famous beachfront neighborhood, Venice Beach

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Chicago

Bjarte Rettedal/Getty Images

Chicago has long been called the “Second City,” coming in second to New York City in both size and population. A beacon in the Midwest, Chicago is actually third in population these days, but it has a skyline, restaurants, shopping, museums, and activities that easily rival NYC and LA. If it’s baseball season, don’t miss seeing a Cubs game at famous Wrigley Field. Check out the Magnificent Mile, where you’ll find every upscale shop imaginable and fantastic restaurants. Chicago is home to some of the nation’s most important buildings, and you can see them all on a guided architecture tour on land or from a boat on Lake Michigan. The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the top art museums in the country, and Millennium Park is Chicago’s newest attraction. 

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Washington

 Taylor McIntyre / TripSavvy

Washington, the capital of the United States, has miles of museums and monuments—almost all of which are free. That’s just one reason why it is one of the most visited cities in the country, especially for families and school groups. It’s the perfect place to learn about U.S. history at places like Mount Vernon, George Washington’s plantation; Ford’s Theater, where Abraham Lincoln was shot; the White House; the Capitol; Georgetown; and Alexandria, along with museums like the Smithsonian, the National Museum of American History, and the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, and the National Museum of the American Indian. You can overdose on museums if you add the United States Holocaust Museum, the Newseum, the National Air and Space Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the Hirshhorn Museum, and the National Gallery of Art.

The famous cherry blossoms are typically in full bloom late March to early April along the Tidal Basin, where you can also see the Jefferson Memorial and memorials to Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Don’t miss the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and the World War II, Korea, and Vietnam Veterans memorials on the National Mall.

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Las Vegas

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Most people go to Las Vegas to try their luck at its famous casinos. But Las Vegas also has blockbuster shows, world-class shopping, and top-notch restaurants, all of which make this city a true desert oasis and a top travel destination. Take a tour of the MGM Grand, try your luck at the Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino, or walk through the Neon Museum, which showcases iconic Las Vegas signs. And of course, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

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San Francisco

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Symbolized by the red rafters of the Golden Gate Bridge, this legendary city on San Francisco Bay is known for its neighborhoods, like Chinatown and the hippie-turned-haute enclave of Haight-Ashbury. While San Francisco is an ideal city for nature lovers as well as the jet set, it is also a great jumping-off point for trips to the wine country of Napa Valley and Sonoma County or to the colossal tech campuses of Silicon Valley. Check out the Bay Area’s top hotel deals on TripAdvisor before you go and make San Francisco your base to discover Northern California.

07 of 12

New Orleans

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New Orleans is all about festivals, French roots, and a “laissez-faire” attitude, making it a distinctly different—and popular—destination for both American and international travelers. From Mardi Gras, New Orleans’ biggest party, to Jazz Fest, one of the world’s most respected gatherings of jazz musicians, there are plenty of ways to “let the good times roll” in the Big Easy. For the most authentic experience, stay in the French Quarter, where you’ll be close to legendary restaurants and legendary streets, like Bourbon. And it’s just a short drive from Frenchman Street, where you can hear the live, jazz music New Orleans is famous for.

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Asheville, North Carolina

Photo Credit: Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau

Asheville sits right on the Blue Ridge Parkway, with its spectacular views across the southern Appalachians, and the Appalachian Trail, which runs right down Main Street. Its proximity to the Great Smoky Mountains makes it a jumping-off point for hiking or just jaw-dropping drives through the mountains. Rent a convertible for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. In town, check out the Biltmore, the largest privately-owned estate home in America, built by Goerge W. Vanderbilt in the Gilded Age. It makes for jaw-dropping of a different sort. Spend evenings in downtown Asheville, which is bursting with music, art, and restaurants worthy of serious foodies.

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Hawaii

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Say “aloha” to Hawaii, a top U.S. destination that’s a quintessential island paradise. From the natural beauty of its beaches and volcanoes to its rich Pacific culture, Hawaii is the perfect destination if you’re looking to really get away from it all. It’s definitely a relaxing oasis with perfect weather no matter when you decide to go; average highs range from 79 F in the winter to 84 in high summer, with average lows of 68 in the winter and 75 in the summer. Go hiking on the island of Kauai, see humpback whales in Maui, or play with fire at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

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Sedona and the Grand Canyon

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An incredible geological wonder stretching over 250 miles, the Grand Canyon is a deep ravine carved out by the Colorado River over thousands of years. Located in the state of Arizona, the Grand Canyon is a top destination to visit in the Southwest and one of the most popular of U.S. National Parks. Take a drive of about two hours south of the Grand Canyon to Sedona, which is surrounded by stone formations of many colors that change with the light. USA Weekend called it one of the most beautiful places in America. Amid this spectacular landscape, you’ll find great eating, luxurious lodging, and loads of art galleries and shops.

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Florida

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Miles of beautiful beaches, family-friendly attractions like Walt Disney World, and the Latino culture and Art Deco style of Miami make Florida a top-of-the-list travel destination. You can soak up the sun on beaches that line the Emerald Coast in the Florida Panhandle, the western Gulf Coast, or the Atlantic; enjoy the rides in Orlando; or have a blast in Miami’s South Beach culture. Check out Tampa and St. Petersburg or explore the Everglades. Mostly, Florida is all about getting away and basking in its famous sunshine, which really is a huge draw in the wintertime for Americans in most of the rest of the country.

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Big Sur

Cassie Kifer

The drive down the coast of California on California Highway 1, aka the Pacific Coast Highway, is legendary. The road through Big Sur and the Central Coast, covering about 163 miles from Carmel to San Simeon, is a visual feast of winding turns and cliffs with the waves of the blue Pacific as a backdrop. (It takes about three hours to drive.) It’s been memorialized in song, film, and books, and it’s just simply one of the most unforgettable places in the United States. Check out the Carmel-Monterey area on the north end and visit Hearst Castle in San Simeon at the end of the drive.

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Vacationing with Kids in the USA: 5 Fun Places to Visit

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The USA is a vast country with 52 states and six different time zones. It is a developed country with state-of-the-art amenities and facilities and hence one of the dream places for immigration for people all around the world. While this may not be possible for everyone, holidaying in this fascinating country is achievable. However, with so many interesting states and places to see in America, it is quite confusing to choose which one to see especially if you have kids. Little children need to be kept busy and entertained during the vacation so that parents can have a great time too. Moreover, there is no dearth of places to visit with kids in the USA. All you need to do is what suits you as a family. Here we present five tourist attractions in the USA that you must visit while travelling with little children.

Florida

South Beach, Miami, FloridaSouth Beach, Miami, Florida

Florida is a huge state and is one of the most popular family-friendly holiday destinations in America, thanks to the numerous beaches and amusement parks here. Orlando needs to have a special mention here as it is a famous for its amusement parks. The Walt Disney World is a different world in itself where you can spend your entire holiday. Magic Kingdom Park, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park and water parks have entertained millions of families from around the world for several decades now. Apart from this, Sea World, Universal Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa are also worth a visit.

However, Florida is not just about Disney and amusement parks. On the other hand, there are some lovely beaches zoos, museums, nature parks, etc. which kids would definitely enjoy. While Orlando can be expensive, the other areas of Florida are cheaper and still offer a lot of fun activities. When in Florida, do check out Tampa Bay & Gulf Coast for their zoos, museums, aquariums, island getaways and beaches. Florida Keys is known for diving, snorkelling, boating and fishing for the family that loves adventures. Space Coast and Emerald Coast are popular for their sleepy beach towns and white water beaches. Miami, which is a multicultural city, also offers great museums and zoos which would keep your little ones happy and busy.

Washington DC

Capitol building in Washington DCCapitol building in Washington DC

Washington DC, being the capital of the USA as well as the seat of the government, is a great place to take your kids for holidays. There are several museums and historical sites that you can explore along with your kids. The best part about vacationing in the capital is that most things are free, and you would not have to spend too much money as in most kid-friendly holiday spots. The National Museum of Natural History, International Spy Museum, National Museum of American History, National Air and Space Museum, etc. offer interactive experiences to visitors, making the visit really interesting for children. The Newseum is where kids could become a television reporter and read from a teleprompter as well as play in the NBC Interactive Newsroom. There is also an exciting 4-D Time Travel Adventure to watch.

You should also check out National Geographic Museum, U.S. Botanic Garden, National Air and Space Museum, National Gallery of Art, National Building Museum, National Museum of the American Indian, Renwick Gallery, National Postal Museum, the While House Visitor Center, etc. are some of the places you must visit in the Capital of USA. Washington DC is also home to the White House, and you can take the opportunity to visit the place. While the White House tours are not operational at the moment, visitors can walk the perimeter and admire the beautiful building and the First Lady’s vegetable garden. Apart from this, when your kids are bored of museum hopping, take them to the National Zoo which is home to over 2000 animals and also houses two giant pandas. Apart from this, there are parks where you could have a picnic and enjoy the outdoors too.

California

Yosemite National park, CaliforniaYosemite National park, California

California is undoubtedly one of the most family-friendly tourist spots in America. Right from adventure parks to beaches to museums, there are lots to do here that kids would love. Moreover, the weather is pleasant throughout the year, never too warm and never too cold. Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Orange County, Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada are the popular tourist destinations. When it comes to adventure parks, California offers you the famous Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure where you can spend weeks without ever getting bored. Legoland California Resort, Knott’s Berry Farm and Universal Studios Hollywood, etc. are some other amusement parks that are great fun to be at. If your kids love to spend time outdoors amidst nature, there are plenty of parks in California that they would love. Yosemite National park, Redwood National & State Parks, Lassen Volcanic National Park, Griffith Park and Channel Islands National Park are worth the visit. Apart from these places, California also offers plenty of zoos, aquariums, museums and beaches which make it the perfect place for a family holiday in the USA.

New York

Central Park, New YorkCentral Park, New York

When it comes to places to visit in the USA with kids, New York definitely makes to the top of the list for most people around the world. The city of New York is a melting pot of cultures, making it an interesting place to visit for both adults and children. While there are several kid-friendly attractions in New York, the Central Park definitely takes the cake. The park has 21 playgrounds, the Central Park Carousel (with one of the largest merry-go-rounds), seven artificial lakes, the Central park zoo and Marionette Theatre. Some other kid-friendly attractions that New York offers are the American Museum of Natural History, Madame Tussaud Wax Museum, Children’s Museum of Manhattan, sea-air-space museum named Enterprise, Brooklyn Chindren’s Museum, CQueens Museum of Art, Central Park Wildlife Centre and Children’s Zoo, Bronx Zoo or Wildlife Conservation Park, Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, etc. There is so much to see and do in this cosmopolitan city for families that you would be spoilt for choices.

Chicago

Lincoln Park Zoo, ChicagoLincoln Park Zoo, Chicago

Chicago, with its huge traffic and crowded streets, is still considered to be a kid-friendly destination as there are lot of things that cater to young children. The best part is that you can combine fun and informational activities for your kids in this city of Illinois. There are museums, amusement parks, zoos, aquariums, etc. that kids would enjoy. When in Chicago, do visit the Adler Planetarium where the domed theatre takes you on the journey of the cosmos and the outer space. Also, there are exhibitions about the planets as well as the space artifacts. When it comes to museums, Chicago has plenty of them. You must take your kids to the Field Museum, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago Children’s Museum, etc. Some other places that would attract little humans include John Hancock Observatory, Shedd Aquarium, Millennium Park, Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago Botanic Garden, Navy Pier, etc. There are lot of outdoor attractions in Chicago which are free too, giving the children opportunity to have unlimited fun.

These are just few of the tourist destinations in the USA that are great for kids too. With such a big country, the options for places to see and things to do are endless. The only problem would be that you would not be willing to come home from your vacation, especially your kids. However, a trip to the USA is a must at least once in your lifetime. Once you have made the decision and booked your tickets, all you need to do is apply for US visa from Dubai, India, China, Singapore or whichever country you are residing in. When you get the visa, just pack your bags and fly to this amazing country to have an extraordinary vacation with your kids.

The post Vacationing with Kids in the USA: 5 Fun Places to Visit appeared first on USA Travel Blog.

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