The 10 best tourist attractions in the US, according to someone who's been to all 50 states

  • I've visited all 50 states and have seen some incredible natural wonders and powerful monuments.

  • Hawaii's Na Pali Coast and Alaska's Inside Passage showcase America's stunning natural diversity.

  • The Statue of Liberty and the National Mall are moving tributes to America's past.

I've visited all 50 states in my career as a travel writer and truly believe each has something unique to offer visitors.

But certain attractions stand out as particularly breathtaking or symbolic of America's history and natural diversity.

From the dunes of Michigan to the swamps of Florida, here are the 10 best tourist attractions in the US.

Yellowstone embodies the vast, wild spirit of the American West.

Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.
Yellowstone National Park is located in Wyoming.Bruce Beck/Shutterstock

America's very first national park is one I always return to year after year, and I discover new vistas and hiking trails on each visit.

Located in Wyoming, Yellowstone is open in all four seasons, and guests can learn about its Indigenous peoples' histories in the park's lodges and visitor centers.

If you have time, drive south of Yellowstone to Grand Teton National Park for magnificent views of the jagged Teton Range, the teenage children of the American Rockies.

The Statue of Liberty is an inspiring symbol of America's history.

Front view of the Statue of Liberty, New York.
The Statue of Liberty inspires me. Nico De Pasquale Photography/Getty Images

As a New Yorker, I easily brush past some of Manhattan's iconic landmarks, but the Statue of Liberty always inspires my latent patriotism and nostalgia for some of America's founding ideals.

A sunset sail on the Hudson River is the perfect opportunity to catch the statue bathed in a fiery pastel light.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a highlight of the Midwest.

South Manitou Island Lighthouse, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Michigan, USA
Michigan's Sleeping Bear Dunes are beautiful. John McCormick/Shutterstock

Some dismiss the Midwest as monotonous, but I've learned to expect the unexpected. It's home to one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited: Michigan's Sleeping Bear Dunes.

The dunes are a sprawling landscape of golden sand and turquoise water in America's heartland — I truly could not believe my eyes when I visited.

This national park is one of many reasons to explore the Great Lakes.

Hawaii's Na Pali Coast is a pristine paradise.

View along the Na Pali Coast from the Kalalau Trail in Kauai, Hawaii.
The Na Pali Coast took my breath away. IndustryAndTravel/Shutterstock

Few places on earth have truly taken my breath away, and the Na Pali Coast, on the island of Kauai, is one of them.

I cried when I saw the overwhelmingly gorgeous 17-mile stretch in Hawaii for the first time.

Though travelers can visit the coast via road trip, helicopter, or hiking trail, I suggest approaching by catamaran for the most transcendent perspective of the green cliffs from the water.

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is a powerful chronicle of our nation's past.

Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, Alabama,
The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is a powerful place to learn about history. Ritu Manoj Jethani/Shutterstock

I was 11 years old when I first visited the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, and I still remember the awakened feeling of horror and injustice I felt learning about dark parts of America's past.

This Alabama institute depicts civil-rights developments and movements throughout the 1950s and 1960s. It's a must-visit for all Americans to better understand our country's all-too-recent history.

And, if you have time, take a road trip to The Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama, to continue your education on the history of American life and racial injustice.

Head to Washington, DC, for a monumental visit to The National Mall.

Washington DC National Mall, including Washington Monument and Thomas Jefferson Memorial with mirror reflections on water
Washington, DC, is especially pretty in the spring. Orhan Cam/Shutterstock

This list is incomplete without the National Mall — the stretch of landscaped lawn that goes from the US Capitol Building to the Washington Monument.

The spot is home to iconic monuments and memorials in Washington, DC, and I especially recommend stopping at the ones dedicated to Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which includes a list of over 50,000 people who died in the Vietnam War, is also not to be missed.

I've visited the nation's capital in all four seasons, but my favorite is spring, when the cherry blossoms — a 1912 gift from Japan — are in full bloom.

The unspoiled scenery of Alaska's Inside Passage is incredible.

Johns Hopkins Glacier in Alaska's Inside Passage
Alaska's Inside Passage is perhaps best traveled by boat. Royal Flush/Shutterstock

There's nothing like venturing into the wild with a journey through Alaska's Inside Passage, a 500-mile stretch along the Pacific Ocean.

It's home to uninhabited islands packed with evergreen trees, glaciers, and incredible wildlife, such as bald eagles and humpback whales.

I experienced the Last Frontier during a salmon-fishing trip in the summer, and I can't wait to return for a snow-capped sojourn in the winter.

The Golden Gate Bridge is an eternal tribute to the Golden State.

San Francisco Bay Area and Golden Gate Bridge in California
There's nothing like driving across the Golden Gate Bridge in a car with the top down. Dan Kurtzman/Getty Images

It's easy to see why the Golden Gate Bridge is often considered one of the most beautiful bridges in the world.

This imposing testament to American industrialism connects Marin County, one of the most idyllic regions of Northern California, to San Francisco.

I've found true bliss and freedom driving across the Golden Gate Bridge in a convertible with the top down and music up.

Everglades National Park is a wonderland in the American South.

View of greenery and water in Everglades
The Everglades are a great place to see wildlife. Irina Wilhauk/Shutterstock

The Everglades are a massive national park and UNESCO World Heritage site.

Located in Southern Florida, the sub-tropical wetlands of south-central Florida offer endless curiosities for lovers of the outdoors.

I've witnessed the most spectacular sunsets driving west along the country roads of the Everglades, heading out to the Gulf.

The Everglades are also an incredible spot to see wildlife and greenery — they're home to various tropical birds, alligators, and mangrove forests.

The Grand Canyon embodies the otherworldly beauty of the Southwest.

View over the South and North Rim in the Grand Canyon
The view over the South Rim and North Rim of the Grand Canyon.Amanda Mohler/Shutterstock

The Grand Canyon is an epic natural landmark in Arizona worth visiting more than once.

I first experienced the national park on cross-country road trips with my parents and am soon returning for a trek along the North Rim. I know the red rocks and incredible formations will still inspire that same childlike wonder within me.

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