USA! USA! USA! There are few more iconic destinations on the planet than The United States of America. We’ve grown up seeing it all through a cinema or TV screen, but discovering the famous cities, incredible landscapes, mouth-watering (and waistline expanding) food, and diverse communities for yourself remains a travel rite of passage. We’ve put together a list of the 101 top things to do in the USA, and we’ve still had to leave loads of things out!
The USA is huge, so we’ve split it up into different regions (there is some debate about which region some states belong to, but we’ve done our best!). You can jump straight to the region you’re interested in by clicking the links below.
The West Coast is arguably the coolest region of the USA, which is why it’s one of the most popular with travellers. Many never go any farther than California; with its famous cities (Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, and more), jaw-dropping national parks, and world class wine, it can claim many of the best things to do in the USA. Further up the coast, Oregon and Seattle have plenty to offer too.
1. Drive the Pacific Coast Highway, California
The USA is the land of iconic road trips, but the Pacific Coast Highway is arguably the best. Stops along the 1000km+ route include San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Malibu, and LA, but pretty much the entire thing is ridiculously scenic. Hire a convertible and hit the road!
2. Marvel at Yosemite National Park, California
First, learn to pronounce it (Yoh-sem-i-tee), and then spend at least a few days exploring the park’s incredible natural wonders. Between granite cliffs, waterfalls, mountains, lakes, giant sequoia groves, and more, you could spend a whole year here and never see it all.
3. Don’t die in Death Valley, California
This is one of the hottest places on the planet (they literally won’t let you enter if you don’t bring enough water), but the sweeping, barren landscapes are well worth the heat. Head down to Badwater Basin to reach the lowest point in all of North America.
4. Celebrate life with a drink in Napa Valley, California
Like fine wine, good weather, and spectacular views? You shouldn’t miss the numerous vineyards and wineries of Napa Valley – the only difficulty is choosing which to visit.
5. Chill out at Lake Tahoe, California
Visit in the summer and Lake Tahoe is a beautiful (if a little crowded) spot to relax and take a dip in the sun. It gets cold in winter, which thins out the crowds so you can properly enjoy the various walking trails around the lake.
6. Eat Mexican food in San Diego, California
Its location near the Mexican border makes San Diego one of the top places in the USA to get the best fajitas, tacos, and burritos you’re ever likely to taste (plus you can eat them on the beach).
7. Cross the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California
You can’t visit California without seeing one of the USA’s most iconic landmarks. There’s so much to do in San Francisco, but seeing the morning fog peel back from the famous bridge is a moment you will never forget.
8. Get arty at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California
SFMOMA makes up for its clumsy acronym with sheer size, its numerous collections and exhibitions sprawling over 10 floors. Whether you’re an art lover or a shameless poser, you’ll find something here to capture your imagination.
9. Walk the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Los Angeles, California
Covering the sidewalks of 15 blocks in glittering LA, these famous stars are dedicated to the leading lights and legends of the entertainment industry, including the likes of Steven Spielberg, Tom Cruise and, er, the Olsen Twins.
10. Feel dwarfed by Sequoia National Park, California
Found in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains, Sequoia National Park is famous for the gigantic sequoia trees that only grow here. They can grow to be a staggering 250 feet+ tall! The largest here is the General Sherman Tree, the largest on Earth, standing 275 feet tall and 102 feet around its trunk.
11. See Seattle, Washington
Seattle is one of the coolest cities in the USA, well known from TV and music alike, and a great place to explore on the west coast. Don’t miss the famous Space Needle, Pike Place Market for fresh seafood, and boating on Puget Sound. Otherwise, find a cool coffee shop and kick back.
12. Get back to nature in Mount Hood National Forest, Oregon
Established in 1892, this amazing spot encompasses over a million acres of forested mountains, lakes, streams, and more, as well as numerous camps and lodges. This is sedate but quietly awe-inspiring American wilderness at its best.
13. Fall in love with Portland, Oregon
It doesn’t have the big reputation of some cities in the USA, but Portland has retained its open-minded personality throughout a process of extensive gentrification. It’s now a top spot for cafes, craft breweries, and beautifully tended parks.
14. Munch on donuts in Oregon
There is no snack more essentially American than the donut, but those you’ll find at Blue Star Donuts in Portland, Oregon are another level. Made from brioche, favourite flavours include PB&J, Hard Apple Cider Fritter, and Valrhona Chocolate Crunch.
To many, the Northeast USA is New York City and pretty much nothing else. It definitely has some of the most famous USA attractions that every traveller needs to tick off their bucket list. But there’s so much more to see! From the capital city, to exploring the country’s history, to escaping to quieter places, the sheer variety of the Northeast USA could keep you busy forever.
15. Climb the Empire State Building in New York City
It’s one of the most touristy things to do in the USA, sure, but the Empire State is one of the country’s most iconic landmarks, and you won’t forget that city view in a hurry.
16. Get acquainted with the Statue of Liberty, New York City
Arguably one of the most famous landmarks in the world, a Liberty and Ellis Island tour gets you up close and personal with Lady Liberty and her surrounding waters.
17. Wander around Central Park, New York City
The sheer size of Central Park – all 843 acres of it – can’t really be appreciated until you wander around its grassy expanses, tree-lined walkways, and chill out by the lake or reservoir. It’s huge, which is even more remarkable when you’ve experienced the hectic city that surrounds it.
18. Watch the Knicks play, New York City
Basketball is huge in the USA, and after catching a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden you’ll understand why. It holds over 20,000 people, and the Knicks are one of the most passionately supported teams in the country.
19. Turn hipster in Brooklyn, New York City
Head over the bridge from Manhattan and you’ll find Brooklyn. Here, the Williamsburg neighbourhood is one of the trendiest in the world, packed with hip cafes, trendy restaurants, and unique boutiques.
20. Walk through the Adirondack Mountains, New York
A lot of people ignore upstate New York, despite it having some of the best scenery in the northeast USA. The Adirondacks offer incredible mountain views, Amish farms, and activities like kayaking and fly fishing. It’s the laidback antidote to NYC’s constant activity.
21. Fall for Niagara Falls, New York
Despite how often you’ll inevitably have seen it in TV and film, nothing quite prepares you for the power of seeing Niagara Falls for real. The famous falls, found in New York State on the border with Canada, are best experienced by joining one of the iconic Maid of the Mist coal-powered boat tours. Make sure you bring a waterproof!
22. Visit the White House, Washington D.C.
Whatever you think of the president currently inside it, the White House is a world famous site, whether you just snap photos from outside or take a guided tour inside.
23. And then visit the United States Capitol, Washington D.C.
Many people get the Capitol Building mixed up with the White House, so by visiting both you hopefully won’t make the same mistake! This is the home of the United States Congress, and a beautiful building in its own right.
24. Wander around the National Mall, Washington D.C.
We could have included all of D.C.’s highlights in a single point, but they’re significant enough to spread out a little. The National Mall bunches a few unmissable sights together, most notably the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.
25. Admire the colours of Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Shenandoah is one of the most beautiful national parks in the USA, and the perfect place to witness the changing of the seasons. Spring and summer see it full of blossoming wildflowers, the leaves turn burnished red and gold in autumn, and in winter the whole area is deliciously calm.
26. Run with wild horses in Chincoteague, Virginia/Maryland
Assateague Island, found between the states of Maryland and Virginia, is home to two herds of shaggy wild horses. Thousands of tourists arrive every year to watch the horses swim to another island, herded by the awesomely-named Saltwater Cowboys.
27. Follow the Freedom Trail in Boston, Massachusetts
Along two and a half miles of Boston streets you’ll pass by 16 locations significant in the history of the USA, including the Bunker Hill Monument, Paul Revere House, and the Old State House. This is the perfect way to engage with the USA’s storied past.
28. Catch a ball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts
Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox baseball team, is the most legendary ballpark in the USA (and not just because it’s the oldest). You can tour the park, or try and get tickets to a game to get the real experience.
29. Live American history at Plimoth Plantation, Massachusetts
If you want a glimpse of how the pilgrims lived when they arrived on American shores in 1627, this is the place. The Plimoth Plantation aims to recreate the settlement as accurately as possible, right down to the actors you’ll find playing local people.
30. Relax on the beach at Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Extending into the ocean from the corner of Massachusetts, Cape Cod boasts 560 miles of coastline, making it incredibly popular with beachgoers during the summer months. It’s also a top fishing, whale spotting, and golfing destination.
31. Party in Atlantic City, New Jersey
If you like a little hedonism with your beach holidays, Atlantic City is perfect for you. Casinos, nightclubs, entertainment venues and more all line the beach and famous Boardwalk here (plus you can say you’ve actually been to Jersey Shore).
32. Drink some award-winning brews in Stratford, Connecticut
The craft beer scene is massive all over the USA, but Two Roads Brewing in Stratford is home to some of the best brews. The beers are award-winning, and the brewery hosts numerous events throughout the year, such as outdoor movies, food truck appearances, and Oktoberfest celebrations.
33. Drive the Kanacamagus Highway in New Hampshire
The eastern portion of New Hampshire Route 112 (NH 112) runs 32 miles through the stately White Mountains. The park is some 800,000 acres, and is particularly popular around September and October for its beautiful views of the autumn foliage.
34. Visit Rhode Island, the USA’s smallest state
Covering just 1,214 square miles, The Ocean State can easily be driven across in a matter of hours. It’s well worth it too, offering incredible ocean views across its numerous large bays and inlets. Plus it’s easily accessible from Massachusetts and Connecticut – it’s not really an island!
35. Eat fresh lobster at Bar Harbour, Maine
Bar Harbour is a quintessential USA coastal town, full of quaint boutiques and restaurants and generally a pleasure to wander around. When you get peckish, indulge in lobster caught right from the shorefront. Served with plenty of butter, it is astoundingly delicious.
36. See the national treasures of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia is absolutely packed with iconic sights – don’t miss the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall (where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed), and the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, made famous by Rocky’s montage run. You know you want that on your Insta story!
37. Get back to basics in Amish country, Pennsylvania
Head to Lancaster County and you’ll find the USA’s oldest Amish settlement, where thousands live a centuries-old lifestyle. Think horse and cart, windmills, and simple, hearty meals.
38. Hit the slopes at Killington Ski Resort, Vermont
The largest ski area in the eastern USA also offers one of the longest seasons, with snow on the ground from early November through to May. There are numerous trails for all levels of ability across multiple mountains, including snowboard and alpine parks. So break a leg! Actually, don’t.
39. See the autumnal colours of Vermont in the fall
New England is famous for the rich reds and golds that sweep through its trees in the autumn months, and Stowe in Vermont might be the best place to see it. There are so many places to hike and bike, and numerous services are in place to help you find the best colours.
Not quite the West Coast, not quite the Midwest, these states don’t comfortably fall into a clear region. Regardless, it still has some of the best things to see in the USA, from truly awe-inspiring natural wonders to the most famously decadent city on the planet.
40. Explore Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
The USA’s first national park remains one of its best, thanks to its dramatic geothermal features, waterfalls, mountains, forests, and wide selection of wildlife. No wonder Yellowstone is one of the most popular places in the country for hiking and camping.
41. What happens in Vegas…
…totally doesn’t stay in Vegas because you’re going to Instagram the hell out of it. Whether Sin City’s unique brand of hedonism is your style or not, a night out on the Las Vegas Strip is essential if you’re visiting Nevada. Just don’t get too carried away on the blackjack table.
42. Marvel at the Hoover Dam, Nevada/Arizona
Dams aren’t often too exciting, but the sheer size of the Hoover Dam on the border between Nevada and Arizona makes it impossible not to be impressed. At 726ft high, it was the highest dam in the world when finished in 1935, after five million barrels of cement were used in construction.
43. Weep at the Grand Canyon, Arizona
We don’t really need to introduce the Grand Canyon. Stretching 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and up to a mile deep, this is undoubtedly one of the most amazing sights in the USA. So amazing that numerous people break into tears at the sight of it, apparently. Take a hankie!
44. Compliment a cactus in Saguaro National Park, Arizona
Saguaros are those archetypal cacti we all remember from old-fashioned westerns, and Tucson is one of the best places to see them. The park is split into two sections, the western half being arguably the more spectacular.
45. Feel spiritual at Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona
Canyon de Chelly (pronounced ‘d-shay’) has been inhabited by people for over 5000 years, and was home to the famous Navajo Native Americans. The area, which includes the 800ft tall Spider Rock Spire, features prehistoric rock art and the ruins of ancient villages.
46. Drive through Monument Valley, Arizona/Utah
You probably recognise these rock formations from countless Western movies, but seeing them for yourself is an incredible experience. The 17-mile Valley Drive loops through the area, with numerous viewing points along the way.
47. See sunset at Zion National Park, Utah
Yes, it’s another unmissable US national park! Zion has a ridiculous selection of geological features, including mountains, canyons, monoliths, mesas, buttes, natural arches, and more. Its most famous attraction is Zion Canyon, which runs a seemingly impossible 15 miles, and is up to half a mile deep in places. Truly breathtaking.
48. Look to the skies at McDonald Observatory, Texas
The middle of west Texas has some of the darkest skies in North America, making it the perfect location for some of the world’s biggest telescopes. You can tour the observatory itself, and then attend a star party for an unrivalled glimpse of the night sky.
49. Remember the Alamo, Texas
One of the most important forts in American history, this is the site where a few hundred revolutionaries made a final stand against thousands of Mexican troops. You can wander the site freely, or listen to free talks and watch a short film to learn more about its history.
50. See Dallas on horseback, Texas
A few minutes south of downtown Dallas is the Texas Horse Park, where you can saddle up and feel like a cowboy while trotting along the Trinity River with the Dallas skyline shining on the horizon.
51. Eat acrobatic ice cream in Texas
Amy’s Ice Cream has a few locations in Texas, and as well as its 350 rotating flavours (Maple Bacon and the alcoholic variants are particular favourites) you might have your scoops served via juggling and other bizarre stunts.
52. Watch an American football game, Texas
There are football teams all over the USA, but it’s the Dallas Cowboys that have the most impressive stadium. The AT&T Stadium cost $1.3 billion to build, holds 85,000, and has a jumbotron screen with 25,000 square feet of video displays that has to be seen to be believed.
53. Listen to live music at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Colorado
Set between 400ft-high sandstone rocks, the Red Rocks Amphitheatre offers 9,000 seats and incredible acoustics. Its location just 15 miles outside Denver means numerous big-name artists play there throughout the year.
54. Ride a steam train in Durango, Colorado
Get a taste of the old west by hopping on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gage Railway, a historic trip through scenic mountains that takes you up to the former mining town of Silverton. Sadly there’s not much gold left in these hills.
55. Catch a rodeo in Denver, Colorado
Do you want to be able to tell people ‘this isn’t my first rodeo’ and it be true? Then visit the National Western Stock Show & Rodeo, which has been running for 110 years and is widely considered one of the best in the USA.
56. Gaze over the Black Canyon, Colorado
It might not be as famous as the Grand Canyon, but the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park is every bit as spectacular, with an average depth of 2,000ft. You can find a viewpoint and simply marvel at the sight, or follow the walking paths around the area to explore further.
57. Visit Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado
When you see the sweeping, undulating sand dunes backed by snowy mountains, you might think you’ve stumbled across an alien landscape. These are the tallest sand dunes in North America, the highest of them standing at 750 feet! If you’re feeling brave, you can sand board down the side of it.
58. Take a Jeep tour of New Mexico
The desert landscapes of New Mexico were made famous by Breaking Bad, and a Jeep tour will let you see a breathtaking range of scenery and local wildlife. There are plenty of tours available, leaving from the likes of Albuquerque, Sante Fe, and Taos. From: £499 / 3 Days If you've got a taste for the USA but time is in short supply then our short breaks are just the ticket for experiencing many of North America's most incredible highlights. From the bright l...
Los Angeles to Grand Canyon Mini
From: £499 / 3 Days
If you've got a taste for the USA but time is in short supply then our short breaks are just the ticket for experiencing many of North America's most incredible highlights. From the bright l...View Experience
There is a huge range of things to do in the south east USA. From getting up close and personal with Florida wildlife, stuffing yourself silly in New Orleans, or just relaxing on a hot Atlantic beach, you’ll find something here to suit you.
59. Discover the history of the civil rights movement in Montgomery, Alabama
Alabama’s capital city is packed with history. This is where the Confederacy was formed in 1861, and where Rosa Parks made her famous stand in 1965. Today it is best known for its architecture and thriving art scene.
60. Meet some living dinosaurs at Alligator Alley, Alabama
This alligator farm is the safest way to see these incredible creatures up close, as well as giant spiders and other local wildlife. You can even buy a bucket of feed to give the alligators a snack (just watch your fingers).
61. Live it up at Disney World, Florida
Theme parks might be anathema to many serious backpackers, but Disney World in Orlando is not just any amusement resort. Featuring four theme parks, two water parks, numerous hotels, and more, this is like a city in its own right. Leave your pretensions at the door and enjoy The Happiest Place on Earth.
62. Get sweaty in Everglades National Park, Florida
Head to South Florida and you’ll find 1.5 million acres of alligators, mangrove canals, swamps, teeming birdlife, and more. You can experience this wild national treasure in any number of ways, from boardwalk strolls to kayak and fan-boat tours.
63. Get inspired by Kennedy Space Center, Florida
A love letter to the USA’s pioneering space program, Kennedy gives you the chance to get up close and personal with shuttles that have flown millions of miles through space. There are tours, IMAX films, memorials, and more. If you have any interest in space whatsoever, a visit here is essential.
64. Don’t break into Fort Knox, Kentucky
This 109,000-acre US Army post is famous for being where the USA keeps most of its gold, but it also hosts a military museum, including a collection of weapons designed by Leonardo da Vinci himself.
65. Have fun underground in Louisville Mega Cavern, Kentucky
17 miles of manmade caverns and corridors allow for plenty of underground shenanigans. Zip lines and tram tours are used to explore science and history in a way that never fails to be fun.
66. Pay your respects to the King at Graceland, Tennessee
Once owned by Elvis Presley himself, the Graceland mansion in Memphis, Tennessee is now a museum dedicated to the life of the beloved singer. Graceland is the second most-visited house in the USA after the White House.
67. Party hard at Mardi Gras, New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans in Louisiana is an unforgettable place to visit at any of time year, famous for its jazz culture, lively nightlife, and sprawling parks. But it really comes to life during Mardi Gras carnival, when the streets ignite with costumes, music and merriment.
68. Get fat in New Orleans, Louisiana
Okay, you can get fat anywhere in the USA, but a New Orleans diet is particularly rich and delicious. It’s all Creole and Cajun cuisines here, and you can’t miss the ubiquitous jambalaya and gumbo, different almost anywhere you taste it.
69. Go around the Golden Isles, Georgia
Georgia has 100 miles of Atlantic coastline, and along it you’ll find the Golden Isles, four barrier islands home to secluded beaches, and abundant natural habitat for a wide range of wildlife. They get busy with tourists in the summer, but mild winters make them a pleasure to visit at any time of year.
70. Attend a Nascar race, North Carolina
There are few things more American than Nascar, a motorsport where ludicrously fast cars drive around an oval and crash a lot. Although there are speedways all over the USA, Charlotte in North Carolina is widely considered one of the best and hosts some of the most prestigious races of the year.
71. Get wet at Dry Falls, North Carolina
Dry Falls is in fact a thoroughly wet 65-foot waterfall, part of a series of falls that stretch nearly nine miles along the Cullasaja River that runs through the picturesque Nantahala National Forest.
72. Go golfing at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach is world famous for its huge range of golf courses, suiting all different ability levels, many designed by celebrities. If golf isn’t your thing, it’s also a brilliant beachside resort, with arcades, restaurants, and an amusement park along its boardwalk.
73. Step back in time in Charleston, South Carolina
The oldest city in South Carolina is also one of its most charming. Walking the streets and seeing its sights allows you to practically see its long history, from the revolution, to the slave trade, to the first shots of the Civil War fired over Fort Sumter.
We’ve sort of made up this region ourselves, but we thought it made sense to separate the states found right at the top of the United States, many bordering Canada to the north. The states here are characterised by amazing natural sights (the Great Lakes chief among them), a laid-back atmosphere, and numerous beautiful driving routes.
74. Feel Superior at Lake Superior, Michigan
The largest of North America’s Great Lakes, Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake (by surface area) in the world, and offers incredible coastal views, beaches, and wilderness. There’s a 1,300 mile Circle Tour that takes in all the highlights, if you fancy it.
75. Unwind on Mackinac Island, Michigan
Found on Lake Huron (another of North America’s Great Lakes), Mackinac Island has become a popular summer retreat thanks in large part to its historical preservation, quaint atmosphere, and almost total ban on motor vehicles.
76. Be a tourist in Chicago, Illinois
The Windy City is one of the USA’s most famous, featuring architectural wonders like the Willis Tower, Tribune Tower, and the Pritzker Pavilion, as well as a top food scene and a variety of festivals that run throughout the year.
77. Eat deep-dish pizza in Chicago, Illinois
Chicago is famous for its ludicrously indulgent deep-dish pizza, which is a bit like a delicious gooey casserole, and one bite will make it clear that the real thing is better than anything in the frozen section of Tesco.
78. Wander through the Rocky Mountains, Montana
The Rocky Mountains, shared across the USA and Canada, feature the highest peaks in central North America. You know what that means – amazing views! Arguably one of the most beautiful spots is Montana’s Glacier National Park, where glacier-carved peaks and valleys run all the way to the Canadian border.
79. Explore the Badlands, North Dakota
The state of North Dakota is dominated by the vast Great Plains, which give way to the rugged Badlands as you move west. As well as the classic USA scenery, there’s a chance to see buffalo, elk, prairie dogs, and more wildlife. Visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park or Little Missouri States Park for established trails.
80. Have a shopping spree at the Mall of America, Minnesota
The USA doesn’t do things by halves, and the Mall of America – one of the largest in the USA – is a perfect example. Alongside its 530 shops, you’ll also find Nickelodeon Universe, an indoor theme park complete with roller coasters, and a Sea Life Aquarium.
81. Wince at the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices, Minnesota
The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St Paul are packed with museums, but the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices is our favourite. It’s home to the likes of a weight-loss aiding soap, a foot-powered breast enlarger, and an electric cure for impotence.
82. Drive the Wisconsin Great River Road, Wisconsin
250 miles of officially designated national scenic route makes this one of the most beautiful drives in the north of the USA. Following the Mississippi River, there are 33 towns and villages to visit along the way, as well as numerous fishing and camping spots.
When you think of the American wilderness, it often includes impossibly wide open spaces, big skies, and straight roads that seem to never end. Welcome to the Midwest! It might not represent many of the most fun things to do in the USA, but hiring a car and driving across these vast states feels like seeing a side of the country not often represented on film.
83. Go storm chasing in Oklahoma and Kansas
The American Midwest is one of the best places in the world to see extreme weather phenomenon like super cell storms, tornadoes, massive hail, and more, thanks to the flat landscape and certain atmospheric conditions. If you’re after the ultimate adrenaline rush, it doesn’t get much better than going storm chasing.
84. Take a selfie with the faces of Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
Yes, they actually carved the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt into the side of a cliff. The idea was to attract tourists, and now three million visit per year, so we guess it worked!
85. Air guitar through the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Ohio
Love rock ‘n’ roll? This museum in Cleveland is a bit of a pilgrimage. You can see Jimmy Hendrix’s guitar, John Lennon’s Sgt. Pepper outfit, various Elvis memorabilia, and much more.
86. Become a modern druid at Carhenge, Nebraska
This homage to the UK’s Stonehenge is one of the stranger sites you’ll come across in the USA. Built from vintage American cars, it replicates the famous stone circle for some reason. Other sculptures have turned Carhenge into a Car Art Reserve.
87. Climb the Gateway Arch in St Louis, Missouri
The Gateway Arch, the world’s tallest national monument, towers over the St Louis skyline. You can ride to its 192m-high peak via a kind of indoor Ferris Wheel for unrivalled views across the city.
88. Explore the art scene in Kansas City, Missouri
Up-and-coming Kansas City is fostering one of the best arts scenes in the USA, thanks largely to the Kansas City Art Institute, to which students flock from all over the country. Their work, alongside that of the pros, can be found in galleries throughout the city.
Lying some 3,758 miles from mainland USA, the collection of paradise islands that make up Hawaii might not feature as part of a standard United States trip. Still, their astounding beauty means you should make the effort to visit if you can. Just be aware that you might never want to leave.
89. Heat things up with a lava tour, Big Island
A tour through Volcanoes National Park is an experience unlike any other, allowing you to get up close and personal with flowing lava. Don’t worry, all safety equipment is provided!
90. Go stargazing at the summit of Mauna Kea, Big Island
The dormant volcano of Mauna Kea is nearly 14,000ft above sea level, offering perfect conditions for gazing at the night sky. This means numerous observatories have been built there (though none are open to the public).
91. Go surfing on Oahu
Hawaii is world-famous for surf spots, and Oahu arguably has the best of them. Famous spots include Laniakea, Banzai Pipeline, and Ala Moana Bowls (though these are not recommended for beginners!). If you’re just starting out, head to the gentler Canoes instead.
92. Visit the USS Arizona Memorial, Oahu
This memorial to the Pearl Harbor attack is one of the USA’s most significant WWII sites, built over the sunken USS Arizona and reachable only by boat. It’s a sombre site, especially as the bodies of the crew were never recovered from the ship.
93. Lounge on Waikiki beach, Oahu
Yes, it might the most touristy place in Hawaii, but it’s worth spending at least a night in Waikiki to experience the vibrant beachfront and party in the busy resorts, before you head off to visit some of Hawaii’s quieter wonders.
94. Take a helicopter flight over Kauai island
Around 70% of beautiful Kauai can’t be reached on foot, which makes splashing out on a helicopter tour well worth the expense. Take a doors-off tour for unrivalled views of the Na Pali Coast, Jurassic Falls, Mount Waialeale, Waimea Canyon, and more.
You have to get all the way across Canada to reach the state of Alaska, but it offers some of the most unique things to do in the USA. Don’t miss the chance to enter the Arctic Circle and visit the incomprehensibly huge, altogether otherworldly national parks and the inspiring wildlife (and people) that calls it home.
95. Go wild in Denali National Park & Preserve
Encompassing 6 million acres, it’s easy to feel a little overwhelmed by this vast expanse of Alaskan wilderness. The park is home to Denali (Mount McKinley), its 20,310ft peak making it the tallest mountain in North America, as well as wildlife the likes of wolves, grizzly bears, caribou, and moose.
96. Witness the Northern Lights
Your best chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis is to visit Alaska between September and April, stay up late, and hope for a clear night. You might need a little luck, but the unearthly lightshow dancing above the tundra is a once-in-a-lifetime sight.
97. Experience endless night/day in Barrow
Tiny Barrow is the northernmost town in the United States, home to only 4,000 people and inaccessible by road. When the sun sets in November it doesn’t rise again until January, and after rising in mid-May it doesn’t set for 80 days.
98. Chill out in Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve
This vast national park to the southeast of Alaska is famed for its glaciers (the clue’s in the name), especially the gigantic Grand Pacific Glacier. The coastal location gives you a great chance of spotting humpback whales and puffins.
99. Warm up at Chena Hot Springs
Just outside Fairbanks, you’ll find the Chena Hot Springs resort. The appeal of the naturally hot water in such a cold place is obvious, but taking a soak surrounded by snow is a particularly satisfying experience.
100. Visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
If you want to guarantee seeing Alaskan wildlife, including wolves, grizzly bears, moose, porcupines, and more, this is the place to visit. Your money will go towards their ongoing conservation efforts.
And if you want to see it all…
101. Drive Route 66
US Highway 66 is the classic USA road trip – 2,500 miles from the west coast all the way up to Chicago. These days it exists almost exclusively to indulge tourists looking to indulge their Hollywood road trip fantasies, and the numerous oddities along the way – various giant plastic dinosaurs and the World’s Largest Rocking Chair are just two examples – only lend to its novelty value. But it’s the seemingly endless road, the tirelessly shifting landscape, and the small communities along the way that leave Route 66 road trippers feeling like they’ve got a glimpse of the real USA.