Top Twenty Cities to Visit in the USA
Known as the live music show capital of the world, Branson is famous for its collection of entertainment theaters. Nestled in the mountainous region of the Ozarks, Branson is full of history kept alive by museums on Historic Commercial Street and nearby Civil War cites. Stop by the Titanic Museum or Ripley’s Odditorium.
The world-famous Showboat Branson Belle sails cruises around the Table Rock Lake, offering the city’s finest entertainment. And, for those who want to get out of the city, there are plenty of outdoor activities. Branson is located next to Table Rock Lake, Bull Shoals Lake, and Lake Taneycomo which show off the beautiful natural world of the Ozarks. There are plenty of places to hike, as well as a number of ziplines, and horseback rides.
Start off your visit by taking a walk down the Freedom Trail. Take a guided tour, or follow a map down the 2.5 mile stretch accommodating 16 Revolutionary War sites. See the home of Paul Revere and the Old North Church where he lit those two famous lanterns. Enter the streets of Harvard Square and explore the campus of America’s most cherished university. Check out the Peabody Museum of Archaeology, or the Sackler Art Museum. Next, follow the Black History Trail to the Museum of African American History, among 13 other historical sites.
Then, if you’ve tired of the history, rent a boat or take a guided tour and go island hoping around the 34 islands surrounding the city. Watch the sun set at Jamaica Pond, known as the city’s Emerald Necklace. Here you can rent rowboats and sailboats or take the 1.5 mile walk around the pond and surrounding parks.
Home to America’s most charming bed and breakfasts, Charleston is a place to relax and enjoy the Southern hospitality and famous Southern cooking. Take a stroll around the historic city, and feel as though you’ve gone back in time, thanks to the plantations surrounding the city and the antebellum architecture. Take a tour of Modell City, the original Charles Towne founded in 1670, then wander down to the Waterfront Park where you can take in the incredible views of the Battery and French Quarter. At night, feed your adrenaline by signing up for a ghost tour and trying your luck with the town’s many local haunts.
Visit the tallest building in the western hemisphere, Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower.) Take an elevator to the 103rd floor where you can step out onto the glass boxes of the Sky Deck. Feel as though you are suspended 1,353 feet in the air as you check out the incredible views of the city.
Take a stroll through Grant Park, the city’s front doorstep, where there is always activity. Not far from the park is the city’s collection of museums. Check out the Adler Planetarium, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of Science and Industry.
Dotted along the city are blue bikes which you can rent and take your own, self-guided tour of the city. Visit the Picasso statue, Navy Pier, and Millennium Park. Then, finally rest for the day at one of the many beaches and take a swim in Lake Michigan.
Located on the island of Oahu, Honolulu is Hawaii’s biggest city. Visit Diamond Head, a former volcano and Honolulu Emblem. Next take a hike to Manoa Falls, follow a trail through 30 minutes of tropical forest until you reach the waterfall at the end of the hike. Spend some time on the beach playing beach volleyball or soccer, then head into the water and try out surfing, body boarding, or any other water sport that interests you.
In town, you can see Iolani Palace, a historical landmark built in 1879 by King Kalakaua. Visit Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona, and experience the American history memorial. Then check out the Honolulu Zoo and the Waikiki Aquarium. Take a stroll through China Town and then head to the south shore to Waikiki, the main tourist stretch of the city. Here you can spend time on the beach, shopping in Honolulu’s largest shopping malls, or dining in fine restaurants.
Las Angeles, CA
The City of Dreams, Las Angeles is home of Hollywood. Take a hike to the top of the Hollywood hill to see the sign, or stay in town in hopes of a glimpse of a famous star. Take one of the many walking tours around the city, like the tour of downtown historic theaters, or the Modern Skyline Tour. Visit the Museum Village and experience a 20 acre complex of buildings such as the L.A. County Museum of Art. Next, people watch at Venice Beach, and of course you can’t leave the city without visiting Anaheim to see your favorite mouse and his pals!
Las Vegas, NV
Known for the combination of spring breakers and twenty-first birthday partyers, Vegas has a reputation for yard-long margaritas and house-winning casinos. But, no matter how old you are, Vegas has attractions for everybody.
For a free show, visit the Bellagio where, beginning at 3 p.m. and continuing until midnight, the Bellagio Fountains put on a water show synced with Frank Sinatra, and other popular artists, on the 8.5 acre lake. See the world renowned Cirque du Soleil, and check out the Shark Reef Aquarium. The New York-New York Roller Coaster goes straight through the New York Hotel, and is fun for the whole family. The Liberance Museum and zoo exhibits at the Mirage also do not have age restrictions.
For more of an adult scene, try your luck and play what Vegas is known for in its many casinos on Freemont Street. Buy your way into an adult pool party at Bare at the Mirage, and then make your way to the Gun Store shooting range.
Two words: Miami Beach. Complete with water sports, sandy beaches, gorgeous natural landscapes, and exciting city nightlife, Miami is a popular destination for travelers all over the world. Spend some time on the famous beach sunbathing, surfing, jet skiing, waterboarding, and every other type of water fun you can think of, then make your way into the city and check out the many stores, restaurants, and art galleries on Lincoln Road. If you’re looking to be one with nature, take a tour of the Everglades or rent a boat and follow that ocean current as far as the eyes can see.
New Orleans, LA
Driven deep with French history, any visit to New Orleans is done best when the trip starts at the French Quarter, the heart and soul of the city. Take a stroll down Bourbon Street and watch the many street performers, or get your fortune told by one of the city’s seers. Sign up for a carriage tour to learn the history of the district. Stop by the St. Louis Cathedral or the Cabildo, two stunning pieces of architecture. Brush up on your history when you visit the National World War II Museum, or the Chalmette Battlefield and Jean Lafitte National Park. Indulge your morbid side by taking a guided tour of the city’s cemeteries and visit the final resting places of some of the city’s most notable characters. Finally, end your trip by visiting Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World and get a behind the scenes look at the Mardi Gras.
Home of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Nashville is another great city where you can hope to catch a glimpse of a celebrity. Be sure to visit the full scale replica of the Parthenon on your way to the Johnny Cash Museum. Catch a show at the Ryman Auditorium or head down to Hillsboro Village for a shopping spree.
Myrtle Beach, SC
Myrtle Beach is more than just ocean front fun. Of course, there is the sandy beach where you can spend the day surfing, parasailing, jet skiing, etc. But, spend some time away from the water and take a helicopter ride and enjoy the scene from above. Then take a risk on the Adrenaline Sling Shot Ride on Ocean Boulevard. Spend the day down on Pier 14, or check out the many museums such as the South Carolina Hall of Fame, or Ripley’s Aquarium. Don’t miss Brookgreen Gardens, a gorgeous place to be one with nature, as well as experience the 550 outdoor sculptures that the garden features.
Check out the beautiful Hawaiian landscape by visiting Mount Haleakala, one of the two volcanoes that created the islands of Hawaii. Next, take Route 360, the Road to Hana. This road, that includes 620 curves and 59 bridges, is one of the most scenic routes in the world. Head back into the city and stop by Lahaina’s Banyan Tree, a tree over 137 years old whose branches spread across almost an entire acre. Check out Ho’Okipa Beach Park, infamous for professional surfing and windsurfing. Then relax on the beaches of Makena State Park, which is composed of 165 acres and split into two stunning beaches: Makena’s Big Beach (Oneloa Beach), and Little Beach (Pu’u Olai Beach).
New York, NY
Take a bite out of the Big Apple and visit the city the never sleeps. Take a stroll down central park or through the West Village. Take an elevator to the top of the Empire State Building, and get your picture taken at the Statue of Liberty on Ellis Island. Browse luxurious shops, and then experience the New York nightlife by bar hopping through the city’s many unique bars and clubs. Check out Grand Central Terminal and the Bowery Ballroom, and make sure you catch a show on Broadway. You might even want to catch an indie movie at the Film Forum.
Doesn't everybody have the dream of visiting Disney World? Whether you are a child or an adult, Disney World offers an escape from the ordinary life that you can’t find anywhere else. Check out Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando while you’re in town. Orlando is also the golfer’s paradise, offering a plethora of enchanting ranges, as well as the perfect weather. Do some major-league shopping at the city’s upscale malls, such as the Mall at Millenia. And don’t leave town without seeing world-renowned live entertainment and see the Orlando Ballet or Opera.
San Francisco, CA
A city full of so much culture, you won’t know where to begin. Start with the Golden Gate Bridge, the most famous bridge in the world. Jump on one of the red cable cars that have been transporting people around the hilly city since the late 19th century. Visit the famous Alcatraz Prison then take a trip to Chinatown. Down on Pier 39 you can find the Wax Museum and Ripley’s Believe it or Not. Next, head over to the North Beach, which is not a beach at all. Here you will find enough European style sidewalk cafés, restaurants, and shops to occupy you for days.
Washington D.C., the capitol of the USA, home of the White House, the place where all our nation’s decisions are made. Be sure to visit the U.S. Capitol Building, unlike the White House, you can actually take a tour inside the Capitol Building and see the 540 rooms for yourself.
The best way to see most of D.C.’s monuments is to walk down the National Mall. Here you can stroll by the sculpture garden, the Lincoln Memorial, and the National Museum of Natural History. Don’t miss the International Spy Museum, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, or the National Cathedral, a unique piece of architecture, being one of America’s only Gothic cathedrals.
If you’re visiting Phoenix, be sure to visit in the springtime. Phoenix offers the perfect weather most of the year, but if you step down into the Valley of the Sun during the summer months, you will fry.
Phoenix is a great destination for those who love outdoor activities. Hike Camelback Mountain or go tubing down the Salt River, visit the Desert Botanical Gardens, and then find the Tovera Castle and see the ruins of Montezuma Castle and Tuzigoot. Take the long drive down the Apache Trail, a beautiful scenic route that passes by Lost Dutchman State Park, Goldfield Ghost Town, Theodore Roosevelt Dam Site, and Suguaro Lake.
Head back into the city and stop in Old Town Scottsdale where you can leisure down the Scottsdale Art Walk and stop in over 100 art galleries. Visit the Heard Museum or the Musical Instrument Museum, the Phoenix Zoo, and Butterfly Wonderland. You can also take a hot air balloon tour over the city.
Strap on that wet suit and dive into the chilly waterfronts of Seattle. Walk along the stony beaches and enjoy the serene landscape you have stumbled upon. Enjoy a ferry ride to a nearby island where you’re more than likely to find a bunch of tiny little boutiques filled with handmade treasures. Make your way over to Pike Place Market by the pier. Here you can visit the Olympic Sculpture Park, buy a great cup of coffee, and step into the Curiosity Shop, a store filled with three headed ducklings and glassed cased mummies, but that sells the best home-made fudge you will ever taste. Don’t miss the Space Needle, Museum of History and Industry, and the Troll under the Bridge.
San Diego, CA
With 70 miles of coastline that is so much less crowded than L.A.’s, San Diego is a popular place for tourists who want to stay away from the tourist scene. Lounge on the beautiful beaches before heading to the San Diego Zoo, one of the most famous zoos in the world. And don’t miss the Museum of Contemporary Art.
San Antonio, TX
Start your trip off right with the San Antonio tradition of the rodeo. The Tejas Rodeo holds events nine months out of the year. Take the kids to the San Antonio Zoo or Six Flags, and then treat yourself to a night out at the Menger Hotel Bar, the oldest continuously operated saloon in the country. Enhance your investigation skills at the Witte Museum’s CSI: The Experience, then brush up on your history when you visit the Alamo and historic missions. Stop by the Cathedral of San Fernando, the oldest U.S. cathedral, built in 1750. And, if you aren’t faint of heart, sign up for a ghost tour with Alamo City Ghost Tours or Sisters Grimm Ghost Tours. You can go spelunking in one of San Antonio’s many caves, or if you are feeling a little cluster phobic, but still want to hang out with nature, find your Zen at the Japanese Tea Garden. Finally, don’t miss the River Walk, a favorite among locals. Here, you can take in a bite to eat while enjoying the waterfront.
© 2014 Sckylar Gibby-Brown