The United States has so much to offer tourists! From national parks to museums, from deserts to forests to oceans, there is just so much to see! Tourists don’t only visit from other parts of the United States, but from around the world as well. While many Americans dream of visiting Europe, Asia, Africa, or South America for their ideal vacations, many people from around the world dream of visiting the United States!
Can you guess which of the top United States tourist destinations are the most visited? Which have you been to? We guarantee that this list will add some new destinations to your dream vacation destinations!
San Antonio River Walk
(image via Clicked by Avik Chakraborty/Moment/Getty Images)
The San Antonio River Walk gets an average of 11.5 million visitors each year. It is an area of shops, restaurants, and sidewalks located on either side of the San Antonio River that winds under pedestrian bridges and through the city.
It is completely closed off to cars, hence why it is a river walk and is a very important part of the culture and economy of San Antonio. The River Walk is only one of the very popular tourist destinations in San Antonio. The Alamo and many other Spanish Mission settlements bring in millions of tourists as well.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
As the most-visited national park in the United States, Great Smoky Mountains National Park gets around 12.5 million visitors each year. The best part is that entrance to the park is always free!
It covers a large area of land in Tennessee and North Carolina, so no wonder it gets so many visitors! It’s called the Smoky Mountains because of the English translation of the name the Cherokees gave the area named after the blue-hued fog and mist that always lingers in the hills.
12 million people visit Niagara Falls each year. Since Niagara Falls is on the border between the United States and Canada, these visitors are basically shared between the two countries. We’ll count it as a U.S. win nonetheless.
Niagara Falls pours over 600,000 per second on average. It is the third largest waterfall in the world behind only Victoria Falls on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe and Iguazu Falls on the border of Argentina and Brazil.
(image via David Butow/Corbis Historical/Getty Images)
Balboa Park in San Diego, California, is 1,400 acres, nearly double the size of Central Park in New York. It has nearly 13 million visitors each year and is home to a wide variety of attractions, the most notable being the San Diego Zoo.
The park is responsible for the growth and popularity of San Diego. When the Panama Canal first opened, a giant exposition was held in the park to attract people to San Diego as a port, which caused a massive growth in population. That exposition had a few small animal exhibits that are now a part of the San Diego Zoo, and they’re still there after well over 100 years later!
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It is said that 15 million visitors take a trip to Pier 39 in San Francisco every year, but this structure has always had its sketchy numbers since its beginning in the 70s. It was proposed, built, and owned by Warren Simmons.
Simmons wanted to create a place where tourists would flock, and he just about succeeded in that vision. While it’s not the most pristine place to tour, it does have lots of fun restaurants and attractions, and as a more recent edition, lots of napping wild sea lions!
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17 million people crowd Bourbon Street in the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana, each year. It is now known for its wild nightlife, bars, and the very large number of partiers, but it didn’t always have that reputation. It was once the most densely-packed residential area of New Orleans.
It was also where many modern innovations were formed. Bourbon Street isn’t actually named after the alcohol, but rather the alcohol is named after the street. It was also one of the public pioneers of air conditioning, electricity, television, draft beer, jazz, and karaoke. No wonder it’s so popular!
Although this was the first Disney Park, it is definitely not the most popular. While it does have an annual 18 million visitors, that is not even half of the visitors that Disney World in Orlando, Florida, gets.
It opened in 1955 in Anaheim, California, under the direction of none other than Walt Disney. It has welcomed over 700 million visitors since its opening, and is a must-see for any Disney fanatic.
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Historic Faneuil Hall gets about 18 million visitors each year. This is due to its historical significance and its grand marketplace that is home to several shops and restaurants. Its history dates back all the way to the 1740s when it was first opened in Boston.
It’s nicknamed “The Cradle of Independence” because it was where patriots met to plan their independence from Britain. It has been visited by many presidents over the years and has held many historically significant events.
Golden Gate Bridge
(image via Bluff View Art District)
24 million people visit the Golden Gate Bridge annually. It was christened by nearly 200,000 people in one day the first day that it was opened because many people wanted to be part of the many “firsts” of the bridge.
It had a rough start caused by a massive earthquake during its building, and many people died while building the bridge. However, its current support system has rarely been questioned, but on its 50th anniversary in 1987, a tightly-packed crowd of over 300,000 people began to flatten the high arches of the bridge.
The National Mall in Washington D.C. attracts nearly 25 million visitors each year. With over 70 monuments and memorials and 26 miles of sidewalks, it is perfectly suited for these thousands of visitors each day.
Not only does it memorialize events and people, it has also held many historical events and people itself. Who can forget Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech or the March on Washington? It is still where many protestors go to this day to make their voices heard.
38 million people walk through the paths of Central Park every year. While it is pristine and beautiful today, it has a rather shady history. It was once home to Seneca Village, a place where many freed African American slaves, Irish people, and Germans lived. They were forced out of their homes by the city’s plan to develop the park.
The land also wasn’t great for a park as it couldn’t grow plants well, but the city’s bureaucrats wanted this European-inspired park so badly, they took tons of more-fertile topsoil from New Jersey to support the grass and trees. It is now a very popular destination for tourists and is featured in hundreds of movies.
Mall of America
We sure didn’t know this was that popular, but the Mall of America brings a whopping total of 40 million people each year to Bloomington, Minnesota, to shop at its hundreds of stores, dine at its wide variety of restaurants, and even seek thrill at its indoor amusement park.
The Mall of America is the largest mall in the United States, but the largest mall in North America is actually in Alberta, Canada, while the largest mall in the world can be found in China. Nevertheless, it still brings in a shocking number of tourists each year.
Las Vegas Strip
The Las Vegas Strip is definitely one of the most popular tourist attractions in the United States as it brings in over 43 million people from around the world. When people from other countries are asked where they would like to visit in the United States, half the time they will say Las Vegas, and the other half they will say New York. No doubt about it.
Las Vegas was built up to attract millions of people with its glamorous casinos, restaurants, and hotels. It is notorious for bad behavior, and we all know that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Nevermind the fact that even accidentally getting married at one of their little chapels is a legally-binding contract.
58 Million people from all around the world visit Disney World each year on average. That is 40 million more people than Disneyland gets each year on average. However, Disney World is much bigger and has 4 different theme parks and 2 water parks to entertain tens of thousands of guests at once.
Disney World is advertised as the most magical place on Earth, and many details go into every inch of the park to make that the experience for the visitors. It would take years to visit every spot in the park and a lifetime to sleep in all of the available rooms. No wonder people want to go back year after year!
The destination with the second most average annual visitors in the United States is Times Square with 50 million visitors each year on average. It is a symbol of the hustle and bustle of western culture with its bright lights, rolling advertisements, and never an empty plaza.
It wasn’t always called Times Square, though, and got its name from the New York Times that moved there in 1904. The tradition of the New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square began three years later in 1907, and has been held every year since.
The United States of America is home to a diverse range of attractions and activities. Make sure you look at the alternative itineraries we have available for each of the places you want to go!
These areas are perfect for a quick day trip or a long weekend getaway. Explore our favorite things to do or peruse some pre-built itineraries.