There are so many spectacular places across this globe to visit and explore.
Yet, if you live in the U.S., you don’t even need a passport to enjoy some of the splendor that the world has to offer. Whether it be the hustling-bustling streets of New York City, the grandeur of the majestic Grand Canyon, or the shimmering turquoise waters captured from Florida’s Overseas Highway, America is peppered with amazing wonders of nature and iconic structures that every American should see at some point in their life.
Here are the top ten vacation spots Grumpy Sloth has picked for you to see before you die:
1. Times Square, NYC
This popular tourist destination is right in the heart of the Big Apple.
Times Square is the famous commercial intersection at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue. Stretching from 42nd to 47th streets, this is one of the busiest pedestrian areas in the entire world.In fact, much of the area (between 42nd and 47th) is now only open to pedestrians. Red bleachers are set up behind TKTS so visitors can sit down, relax, people watch, and simply soak it all in.
Times Square is also the hub of the Broadway Theater District. Here, guests can enjoy a quick bite to eat before heading to a musical production or late-night comedy show.
The flickering neon lights and chaotic corners invite the crowds to wander through the bold blinking ads in absolute amazement.
As you stroll through this unique spectacle of over-stimulated tourists, you’ll notice the trendy cocktail bars, fast-paced pedestrians, and clusters of variousrestaurants and boutiques.
Times Square has been a popular NYC attraction for over a century, attracting approximately 50 million people each year.It is also home to hundreds of great hotels. Whether you are looking for luxury or budget-friendly, Times Square certainly has a place to accommodate your needs.
2. Grand Canyon
A larger-than-life chasm, the Grand Canyon is the steep-sided canyon carved by the Colorado River in the great state of Arizona.
Measuring 277 miles in length, up to 18 miles in width, and one-mile deep, people travel from all over the world to gaze over this red and orange wonder. After all, its volcanic features and vibrant-colored walls are an open invitation to year-round adventures.
The Grand Canyon has expanded over the past six million years as the Colorado River and its many tributaries have cut their channels through many layers of rock, deepening and widening the canyon.
This rugged gorgehas been home to many Native Americans who built settlements along its walls and in its numerous caves. Along the canyon lie the Grand Canyon National Park, Navajo Nation, Kaibab National Forest, the Grand Canyon-Parashant Indian Reservation, and the Hualapai Indian Reservation.
Approximately 4.5 million tourists visit the Grand Canyon every year. Of course, the activity that guests tend to enjoy the most is sunrise (or sunset) watching.
3. Disney’s Magic Kingdom
At Disney’s Magic Kingdom, you can explore lands of endless enchantment and transform your fantasy into reality.
This mind-blowing theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida is owned and operated by The Walt Disney Company, and is completely dedicated to fairytales and the iconic Disney characters.The park draws millions of visitors from all over the world. In fact, in 2016, over 20 million people visited Magic Kingdom, making it the most visited theme park in the world for the eleventh year in a row.
Disney’s Magic Kingdom is a timeless adventure, which encompasses seven different whimsical theme lands: Mainstreet U.S.A., Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, and Cinderella’s Castle.
Guests can enjoy the Magic Kingdom’s epic rides and attractions, which include: Space Mountain, “It’s A Small World,” Jungle Cruise, Haunted Mansion, Peter Pan’s Flight, Pirates of the Caribbean, and so much more.
Visitors can also celebrate as the park spontaneously comes alive with music and dance as a parade tribute to the tales of Fantasyland.
Disney’s Magic Kingdom is, by far, the most magical place on earth
4. Golden Gate Bridge
One of the world’s most stunning suspension bridges, The Golden Gate Bridge spans the Golden Gate, which is the one-mile-wide strait that connects San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean.
This massive bridge carries both U.S. Route 101 and California State Route 1 across the wide strait. California’s orange majestic beauty is one of the most recognized symbols of San Francisco and is one of the most photographed bridges in the world. It is also considered to be one of the Wonders of the Modern World by American Society of Civil Engineers.
Built in 1937, The Golden Gate Bridge was designed to withstand high winds and earthquakes. And when it is windy, you can still certainly feel it swaying a bit.
Beyond the bridge, you can roam into the city of San Francisco where you will find world-class cuisine, trendy cafes, and various shops. You can also stroll along the marina, enjoy watching the sea lions sunning on the bay, and take a ride on the cable cars.
5. Washington D.C. National Mall
The iconic symbol of our nation and its democratic values, The National Mall is an inspiration to the entire world.
This national park is located in downtown Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States. It includes the area between the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the United States Capitol. The National Mall contains various museums, marbled monuments, and memorials. This premiere spaceis administered by the National Park Service, which hosts nearly 24 million visitors each year.
While Washington, D.C. is known for its “stuffy” politics, it is also becoming a vibrant vacation destination since its recent explosion of trendy cafes, hip nightclubs, and thriving restaurants.
6. Charleston, South Carolina
This beautiful and historic port city in South Carolina is peppered with cobblestone streets, Spanish moss-draped trees, horse-drawn carriages, stunning pastel mansions, and lovely antebellum architecture.
Founded in 1670, Charleston celebrates its unique heritage, and yet, embraces innovative boutiques and cuisine. Visitors can enjoy strolling around The Battery and Waterfront Park, which both overlook Charleston Harbor. They can also glance (or even take a boat tour) at Fort Sumter, where the first shots were fired during the Civil War.
Charleston is also brimming with fascinating shops, trendy cafes, historic churches, contemporary art galleries, unique Southern restaurants, rooftop bars, and is also home of the Spoleto Festival USA.
Visitors can shop for locally made goods at the Charleston City Market, or they can take a drive to the nearby beach towns of Isle of Palm, Folly Beach, or Sullivan’s Island for some surf, sun, and sand.
7. Big Sur
A stunning stretch of rugged coastline, Big Sur is a sparsely populated region located on California’s central coast where the Santa Lucia Mountains kiss the Pacific Ocean.
Its area stretches 90 miles between Monterey Bay and San Simeon and is tucked inside a remote area.However, with its extraordinary views, Big Sur is a popular tourist destination, drawing millions of visitors each year. It is also known to be a special retreat for many famous artists and writers.
Visitors enjoy hiking, camping, cliff-side cafes, wellness retreats, wildflowers, coves, creeks, valleys, and independent art galleries. Of course, state parks and beaches are Big Sur’s two main attractions.
The narrow, two-lane State Route 1 that runs through Big Sur is known for its seaside cliffs, winding turns, and spectacular coastline views.
Many of Big Sur’s natural attractions are left unmarked to provide a unique feeling of seclusion. Some areas don’t even have electricity.Yet, this is an experience to be enjoyed through our manyhuman senses.
8. Kauai, Hawaii
A breathtakingly beautiful wonder, Kauai is located in the Central Pacific and is part of Hawaiian Islands. Nicknamed “the Garden Isle,” the island is covered by tropical rainforests and fantastic beaches. Geographically the oldest of the main Hawaiian Islands, Kauai isapproximately 562 square miles in size with a population of 67,091 people.
Volcanic in nature, Kauai was formed by the passage of the Pacific Plate over the Hawaii hotspot. It is six million years old and its highest peak, Kawaikini, stands at 5,243 feet tall.
Kauai’s tropical climate, dramatic cliffs, spectacular sunsets, turquoise waters, and cocoa sandy beaches, tend to attract the ‘no-fuss’ type of traveler who loves the rugged outdoors. However, its Na Pali Coast has served as a backdrop for many Hollywood movies, and the island is also the home of Waimea Canyon State Park.
While Kauai encompasses some of Hawaii’s superior beaches and tropical rainforests, more than 70% of the island is inaccessible by land. So, if you truly want to capture the island’s splendor, be sure to take a helicopter ride. Here, you will be sure to get a glimpse of the cascading waterfalls, rugged cliffs, and lush valleys that blanket the island.
Kauai certainly has the market on natural beauty, but visiting the island does come at a steep price. Rooms at resorts can reach $500 per night.
9. Mount Rushmore
A bold sculpture carved into the Black Hills of South Dakota, Mount Rushmore is a stunning monumental mountainside structure designed to represent the pioneering American spirit.
Completed in 1941, this shrine is a 60-feet- high granite depiction of U.S. presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.It is also considered to be the largest work of art on Earth.
Visitors can follow the Presidential Trail through the forest to capture an epic view of the chiseled monument, walk to the Avenue of Flags, or visit the Mount Rushmore Museum, which has many interactive exhibits for guests to enjoy.
10. Overseas Highway in the Florida Keys
Driving Overseas Highway through the Florida Keys is a classic American road trip. A modern wonder, this “magic carpet” is the highway by which Florida’s mainland can cross the shimmering Atlantic, turquoise waters, countless coral, and swaying palm trees.
The Overseas Highway (carrying U.S. Route 1)is a 113-mile highway that was built on the former right-of-way of the Overseas Railroad. The Overseas Railroad was heavily damaged in the 1935 Hurricane, and the Florida East Coast Railway was unable to rebuild the destroyed sections. As a result, the roadbed and bridges were sold to the state of Florida for under a million dollars. The Overseas Highway has since been built into a main coastal highway that runs from Miami to Key West. In 1982, 37 bridges were replaced with wider spans, including the famous Seven Mile Bridge at the southern tip of Marathon Key.
On this stretch into the ocean, visitors can enjoy the dramatic sunsets where the sun plummets into the sea creating a vibrant pallet of radiant pink, orange and blue hues. The sunrises are just as spectacular as the ascending fireball spreads its glowing beams all over the glistening sea.