11 Not-To-Be-Missed Iconic USA Landmarks
Certain images make up a version of the United States long held in the minds of the global collective. Though you’ve seen these places countless times across screens and in photos, there’s something distinctly special about visiting them in person. From Chicago’s popular Cloud Gate sculpture, to the futuristic Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the United States is filled with opportunities for iconic photos that proudly proclaim: “I was here.” So, break out the bucket list--and ready the selfie stick--Iconic America is waiting for you.
1. Statue of Liberty, New York City
Start downtown New York City for a trip to the Statue of Liberty, the colossal sculpture welcoming immigrants and visitors alike to Manhattan’s shores. The iconic statue stands 93 meters tall and is just as breathtaking as it seems. After you see it, swing by Wall Street in Downtown Manhattan for a photo with the Charging Bull statue, (and its companion, the Fearless Girl, nearby.) Heading uptown, you’ll find the classic Flatiron Building, before making your way into the bright buzz of Times Square. Central Park is iconic, and so is the Subway system itself. And don’t forget about the Brooklyn Bridge, the Natural History Museum and quintessential neighborhoods like Greenwich Village, DUMBO and Chinatown. To complete your classics circuit, make sure you grab a bagel, a slice of pizza and an “I Heart NY” shirt, for good measure.
2. National Mall, Washington, D.C.
Visit the National Mall and walk the long grassy expanse that houses many American monuments. A tour of the area will expose you to The White House, home of the President of the United States, as well as monuments honoring former presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, as well as American heroes such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and veterans of World War II, The Vietnam War and the Korean War. While you’re there, you’ll have access to over a dozen of the United States’ most iconic museums for free, including the National Gallery of Art, the National Air & Space Museum and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
3. Hollywood Sign, Los Angeles, California
In the area, you can also see the famous stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard. While in Los Angeles, head to Venice Beach for another classic American experience: a stroll down the Venice Beach Boardwalk. There you’ll encounter plenty of colorful characters and equally colorful artwork that’s probably better suited for viewing than buying. Next, head to the famous Santa Monica Pier to see the sign that marks the end of Route 66.
4. Route 66, Oklahoma
Kitschy oversized landmarks are a Route 66 mainstay, featuring everything from the largest concrete totem pole (Totem Pole Park, Chelsea,) to “The Blue Whale”, a giant, cartoon-ish whale floating atop a roadside pond in Catoosa. If you get thirsty, look for the 20 meter soda bottle outside the entrance to “Pops,” a restaurant, gas station, and purveyor of over 700 kinds of soda, all arranged by color. Experiment with unusual flavors such as bacon, mustard and dirt, or keep it classic with one of over 70 root beer varieties on offer. If it’s close to sun down, stay for the neon light show in the giant bottle that happens after dark.
5. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California
This so-called “Wonder of the Modern World” is widely photographed, though there’s something extra special about seeing the Golden Gate Bridge in person. While you’re in San Francisco, check out the city’s other icons like the wonderful Painted Ladies and the famously crooked Lombard Street, as well as the jolly sea lions at Fisherman’s Wharf, and world-famous Alcatraz, if can you book a tour far enough in advance.
6. Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Missouri
The Gateway Arch, as it’s called, is dedicated to the American People, and is incredible to behold. The stainless steel structure stands nearly 200 meters in height, making it tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere and the tallest accessible building in Missouri. St. Louis is also home to City Museum, the 10-story, 100-year-old surrealist wonderland that combines the whimsy of a children’s playground with the sophistication of modern architecture. Another iconic museum in the area is Mark Twain’s boyhood home, which is also worth a visit.
7. Space Needle, Seattle, Washington
Built for the 1962 World’s Fair, the Space Needle stands as a monument to innovation and Seattle’s forward-thinking ethos. Serving as the natural backdrop to Seattle’s urban center is the iconic and epic Mount Rainier, a beautiful volcanic mountain that stills over 4,300 meters high. Also iconic to Seattle is your favorite coffee shop, Starbucks. Visit one unlike any other at the Starbucks Seattle Roastery.
8. Cloud Gate, Chicago, Illinois
Chicago is home to the loveable and highly photographed sculpture, Cloud Gate, though you probably know it as “The Bean.” The amorphous reflective sculpture lives in Millenium Park, and was created by the artist, Sir Anish Kapoor. For more of iconic Chicago, grab a slice of the city’s famous deep-dish pizza and then see a Cubs game at Wrigley Field, one of the oldest baseball stadiums in the country.
9. Niagara Falls, New York
Composed of three waterfalls, these natural wonders are well known for their pristine beauty and as a valuable source of hydroelectric power. See the Niagara Falls along with the surrounding area on the Niagara Scenic Trolley, then visit the Seneca Niagara Casino, a gambling destination opened by the area’s Seneca Indian Tribe. While you’re there, take a cruise on the Eerie Canal, or take a self-guided tour to see the historic architecture, such as the Railway Station or the Ellis-Taylor House, a beautiful 19th-century home built by the local Ellis family.
10. Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
At Mount Rushmore National Memorial, faces of 4 former US presidents stand carved into the side of the massive granite mountain at nearly 20 meters high. Go see Presidents Licoln, Washington, Roosevelt and Jefferson for yourself and claim a photo with one of the most iconic landmarks in the United States. Also in the area is Crazy Horse Memorial, another historical monument, this one paying tribute to the Native American leader and Lakota Warrior, Crazy Horse.
11. Monument Valley, Utah
Travel the 27-kilometer loop to get the best view of the area, which you may recognize from the many Western movies that have been filmed there over the years. Monument Valley is located on the Arizona-Utah border, though it falls within the territory of the Navajo Nation, the largest Native American Indian reservation in the United States. While in the area, be sure to visit the Navajo Nation to take a deep dive into the area’s culture and history.
Alongside the constant evolution of the United States exist many monuments, landmarks and historical sites that have stood the test of time, serving as icons of American ideals and moments in time, upon which modern-day America was built. Though you may have seen them before in photos or films, these iconic American landmarks are definitely worth an in-person visit.