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Top 50 US Travel Destinations of 2015

Updated on January 16, 2015

The Best Places to See in the USA, from Maine to California, Washington to Florida

When it comes to sightseeing in the USA, there's really no comparison to anywhere else. Where in the world besides the United States can you find 18 mile wide canyons, giant geothermal calderas, historic cities, and some of the most dramatic coastlines found anywhere? This page will review some of the best places to visit in the United States, including favorites like New York City, California, New England, the Southwest, Gulf Coast, Midwest, and the Pacific Northwest (continental U.S. only - the lower 48 states).

Intro photo of the Grand Canyon by Jim Trodel.

Great Smoky Mountain National Park
Great Smoky Mountain National Park

East Coast USA Destinations

Places you'll want to see from Maine to Florida

The East Coast contains not only a good percentage of the US population, but big cities like New York, the New England states, the middle Atlantic, and the southern states. A trip here is best planned using I-95 as your base. Read more about the attractions you'll see along the way here:

1. Starting in the northeast, New England is a beautiful, relatively small region covering six unique states.

2. While you're in New England, don't forget to check out the over 550 miles of coastline on scenic Cape Cod.

3. Everyone from the United States wants to see New York City. Times Square, Greenwich Village, the Brooklyn Bridge, the former WTC site, and Little Italy make it one of the most unique cities in the world.

4. The shore of Long Island is a New Yorker's weekend paradise, and has some of the best stretches of pristine sandy beaches on the east coast.

5. Washington DC is the paramount of free vacationing. With hundreds of museums, memorials, and gardens to see and experience, it ranks amongst the top destinations in the USA.

6. Great Smoky Mountain National Park on the North Carolina-Tennessee border affords outstanding mountain landscape views, with winding scenic backroads and the famous Blue Ridge Parkway.

7. The Hampton Roads region of Virginia contains the cities of Norfolk, Hampton, Chesapeake, and Virginia Beach. They are known for their beaches, giant naval station, and the seemingly endless Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.

8. South of Hampton Roads, you can find the Outer Banks of North Carolina. This area is a series of barrier islands and peninsulas guarding the coast of North Carolina. On the islands, you'll find lighthouses, blue skies, dunes, and unbelievable white, sandy beaches.

9. South Carolina's Myrtle Beach provides a welcome entrance to the coastline of the Palmetto State. Boardwalks, ocean piers, and palmetto lined beaches make it a great place to take the family.

10. The other prize coastal jewel of South Carolina is the historic city of Charleston. The city boasts cobblestone streets, open air markets, and the Civil War battleground, Fort Sumter. Directly south along the coast is Tybee Island in Georgia, as well as beautiful Savannah.

11. Back on I-95 you can head directly south to the city of Jacksonville, Florida. The city is the biggest in the Sunshine State, and the commercial gateway to the attractions of the rest of coastal Florida. It is also where you can pick up the I-10 highway, part of the Southern Route.

12. One of America's most beautiful pieces of coastline is the Atlantic Coast of Florida. Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and Key West make for an unforgettable experience.

tampa
tampa

The Gulf Coast

Incredible places to see and visit in Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Missisippi, and Texas

The Gulf Coast, which includes the states of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, has many unique attributes and influences that set it apart from the rest of the country.

13. One of the fastest growing cities in the United States is Tampa, known for its outstanding beaches, nightlife, and infinite water activities.

14. With an impressive collection of mangroves, waterways, and endangered species, seeing the threatened Everglades region of Southern Florida will inspire you to help take action to protect this beautiful landscape.

15. Museums, parks, and historical southern architecture are brimming over in the Gulf Coast's third largest city, Mobile.

16. 62 miles of scenic coastline and beaches of the Mississippi Coast are slowly but surely recovering from the devastating BP oil spill.

17. New Orleans is a city of comebacks, as the city has been fighting to restore itself beyond its pre-Katrina state, and is home to the 2010 Super Bowl Champions, the Saints.

18. Roughly 624 miles of coastline along the Gulf of Mexico are awaiting, ready to explore along the Texas Gulf Coast.

19. Home of the Alamo, the Riverwalk, and Sea World, the mid-Texas city of San Antonio is an unexpected treat right in the smack dab middle of the Lone Star state.

20. Miles of unprotected borders along the Rio Grande, the massive St. Elena Canyon, and some of the least explored places in the country are all found at Big Bend National Park of Texas.

Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore

The Midwest and the Great Plains

The best places to see in the middle of the USA

21. Rural landscape has been reclaimed in Ohio's Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

22. Towering beachfront sand dunes hundreds of miles from any ocean? The strange but beautiful views found at Indiana Sand Dunes State Park will inspire many photographs and stories.

23. Over 200 preserved Native American effigy mounds comprise the massive, enigmatic Effigy Mounds National Monument area of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

24. Wisconsin Dells is made up exquisite golf courses, spas, riverfront cottages, and perhaps what they are best known for, water parks.

25. While by appearance it looks like the jagged northern coast of Maine, what you are actually looking at is the incredible Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

26. Chicago, aka the Windy City, aka The Second City, is home to not just deep dish pizza, but the Art Institute of Chicago, the gorgeous Lake Michigan waterfront, and some of the best restaurants in the entire country.

27. Visit South Dakota's unforgettable wide open space at Badlands National Park, containing sandstone buttes, the largest mixed grass prairie in the USA, and a view that extends for dozens of miles to the horizon.

28. The biggest sculpture in the world, Mount Rushmore, is best appreciated in person to view its full grandeur.

Recommended USA Travel Books - Books with excellent reviews from people who have read them

Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park

Rocky Mountains

Places to see in the Rocky Mountain area of the USA

29. The proximity to Denver, the backwoods trails, and the conifer covered mountain peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park make it an incredible destination any time of year.

30. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is one of Colorado's true hidden treasures, and just around the corner from Grand Junction, CO.

31. In Yellowstone National Park, you can find the largest active geothermal area on the planet.

32. Grand Teton National Park is America's most beautiful mountain range of the west, and is adjacent to the pristine Yellowstone.

Arches National Park
Arches National Park

Southwest

Stunning places to see in Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado

33. Of all of America's great places to see, the Grand Canyon tops them all.

34. Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico holds 117 known caves containing limestone formations.

35. The upward spires of Bryce Canyon National Park are truly stunning at the hours just before sunset and sunrise.

36. The pinks, oranges, browns, reds, and whites of Zion National Park continue to inspire photographers, hikers, and vacationers heading to Utah.

37. Around the corner from Arches is the enigmatic Colorado River carved Canyonlands National park.

38. Of all of the places in the world, Arches National Park contains the most natural sandstone arches, numbering at over 2000.

Redwoods National Park
Redwoods National Park

West Coast

Western destinations from Washington to California

39. Las Vegas isn't just a city, it's the most visited man-made destination in the USA.

40. Rodeo Drive, the Griffith Observatory, Universal Studios, Hollywood, and Catalina Island are just a few of the best things to do in the metropolis of Los Angeles.

41. San Diego has some of the best beaches, zoos, restaurants, and views in the entire state of California.

42. The dry desert heat of Palm Springs can be refreshing, while its history, sightseeing, and nightlife will keep you well entertained.

43. California's most beautiful beats of rugged coastline is the massive stretch of Pacific Coast Highway at Big Sur.

44. While New York may be the best known city in the USA, San Francisco is by far the most scenic.

45. For awe inspiring rugged wilderness, Yosemite National Park is a must-see.

46. Redwoods National Park is home to the tallest trees on Earth. Is there anything else that needs to be said?

47. Napa Valley has become a world class wine producer, with wine so high in quality much of it never even leaves the state and is consumed by Californians.

48. A beautiful skyline, an abundance of local breweries, and plenty of vegetarian restaurants make Portland, Oregon an essential part of your trip to the Pacific Northwest.

49. Surrounded by mountain ranges, national parks, and the only temperate rainforest in the USA, you can't afford to miss all that Seattle has to offer.

50. Not too far from Seattle is the stunning Mount Rainier National Park. While the park is only open seasonally, the sights during the summer here are beyond breathtaking.

Why no Alaska or Hawaii? It would dominate much of this list, so I'm reserving those two for a future page. Suggestions welcome!

What's Your Favorite US Travel Destination? - Where would you recommend other people go?

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    • profile image

      Mohamed 2 years ago

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    • profile image

      jetcharterquote 4 years ago

      Marco Island Florida, Carmel California, Chicago

    • ddayse123 profile image

      ddayse123 4 years ago

      Colorado is great place to visit in both the wintertime and summer. Winter for skiing and summer for camping, hiking, biking, and exploring the beautiful mountains.

    • Kiwisoutback profile image
      Author

      Kiwisoutback 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      @anonymous: You didn't miss it, I should have mentioned this was built for the lower 48 states. I just added a blurb above the comments. I'll build another page dedicated to those two states since there are so many places to see in each of those two.

    • FLtraveler profile image

      FLtraveler 4 years ago

      Arizona

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Los Angeles, overall California is a nice place to go on vacation

    • profile image

      travellersguide 4 years ago

      The Grand Canyon gives an astonishing view and San Francisco too.

    • profile image

      Healthy0ne 4 years ago

      Now, that is a list worth checking!

    • MusicMadness LM profile image

      MusicMadness LM 4 years ago

      Geez, so many cool places I have yet to see. The Carlsbad Caverns are on the top of my list. Love the idea of exploring underground.

    • profile image

      LadyDuck 4 years ago

      You listed beautiful US destinations, I love them all!

    • susanholland10 profile image

      Susan Holland 4 years ago from Southwest Missouri

      I love Gulf Shores for vacations. I also love Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Great art and the most beautiful lake.

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image

      Blackspaniel1 4 years ago

      Nice selection. I like the mountains.

    • worldflashpacker profile image

      worldflashpacker 4 years ago

      So much detail, I can't wait to visit the US later this year as part of my rtw trip.

    • profile image

      thepetsaver 4 years ago

      I love Las Vegas!! Gotta have casino hoppping..

    • profile image

      traveldestinations 4 years ago

      Came back to give a blessing.

    • worldwidesouven profile image

      worldwidesouven 4 years ago

      Thank for the lens. The information will help us to plan next vacations un the US. Great job!

    • casnider profile image

      casnider 4 years ago

      We're talking about driving from Maryland all the way to Washington State across the North tier of the States and then go down to California and drive back across the Southern States. It will be an epic trip and we are having some fun now deciding which spots to put on our stops along the way list. Your lens is most helpful!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      nice, would love to travel to US one day...

    • SusanRDavis profile image

      Susan R. Davis 4 years ago from Vancouver

      Both Portland and Seattle are excellent Pacific Northwest destinations and both areas can easily overwhelm you with destinations and activities for weeks.

    • KateHonebrink profile image

      KateHonebrink 4 years ago

      There's so much of the US that I haven't seen yet, so thanks a bunch for putting together this great article with details of things to see in every area! Great job!

    • LornsA178 profile image

      LornsA178 4 years ago

      These are great places to travel. Nice selections. Thanks!

    • reells profile image

      reells 4 years ago

      Awesome list! I'm ashamed that I haven't been to more of these places. I have a lot of work to do...

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 4 years ago from Idaho

      Great lens, Happy Valentine's Day!

    • BabysownRoom LM profile image

      BabysownRoom LM 4 years ago

      We have such a beautiful country! I am grateful to have viewed many of these destinations. I've got to say that the grand canyon truly looks like a picture. Its beauty is unreal. And the faces at Rushmore are amazing -- the detail of work that went into creating them. Gorgeous!

    • SmokeybonesJr profile image

      SmokeybonesJr 4 years ago

      Come to Pensacola Florida! Beaches like no oter place, golf, fishing, seafood and fantastic weather. Being the cradle of Naval Aviation you can come to Pensacola Naval Air Station, the home of the US Navy Blue Angels. You can go to the National Naval Aviation Air Museam a fantastic place. Anyway, stop by, go kayaking, eat seafood and have a great time!

    • travelinggypsy profile image

      travelinggypsy 4 years ago

      Nice! You definitely listed some of the best locations to travel in the US.

    • Kiwisoutback profile image
      Author

      Kiwisoutback 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      @petelovestoread: Good point, that is a nice place. I lumped them in with the Smokies even though they are a huge distance apart. Might be time for a sequel to this lens!

    • Kiwisoutback profile image
      Author

      Kiwisoutback 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      @hotplate lm: The weather there is always good. Not too hot, not too cold.

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      HouseBuyersOfAmerica 4 years ago

      Los Angeles is a wonderful place to visit during holidays. Lovely lens!

    • hotplate lm profile image

      hotplate lm 4 years ago

      Always love visiting my friends in San Francisco, cool breezy weather without the snow.

    • petelovestoread profile image

      petelovestoread 4 years ago

      Nice lens. But where's the love for the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Smokies are beautiful, but so are the mountains north of that... especially shenandoah

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Disneyland and Disney World.

    • reginaaj2gerica profile image

      reginaaj2gerica 4 years ago

      San Antonio, Texas is a very nice destination. I've only had to privilege to visit this place for the first time in 2010 and I fell in love with it th first time I visited.

    • Kiwisoutback profile image
      Author

      Kiwisoutback 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      @rt8ca: Great city, and the surrounding towns too. One of my favorite spots in the country.

    • profile image

      xtianfriborg13 4 years ago

      Nature tripping will be really nice on those places. I love it all.

    • rt8ca profile image

      rt8ca 4 years ago

      Just returned from a visit to Palm Springs, California for the first time! Loved the weather and the sites. Still a real 50's feel to the downtown area!

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 4 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      Definitely... Yosemite! It is so pretty, summer or winter.

    • thewafflingprem1 profile image

      thewafflingprem1 4 years ago

      Glacier Park in northwest Montana! absolutely breathtaking.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I favor New York City since I was born there :)

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      SteveKaye 5 years ago

      We like Zion National Park, Sequoia National Park, and Bryce Canyon National Park.

    • Carashops profile image

      Cara 5 years ago

      This is a lovely lens. Fingers crossed one day I will get to visit some of these travel destinations in person.

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      Shadrosky 5 years ago

      Los Angeles and the Blue Ridge Mountains!

    • Sarah Switalski profile image

      Sarah Switalski 5 years ago from Iowa

      Rocky Mountain National Park was a favorite destination when I was a kid and I'm looking forward to taking my own kids there when they're older. The mountains are so beautiful. The US has so many unique destinations to visit - when my husband and I retire we plan to buy an RV and travel the country :)

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Lovely lens. Blessed. Mount Rushmore is gorgeous, always wanted to see New Orleans, and I live in the most visited area in the country: San Francisco.

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      GabrielaFargasch 5 years ago

      I live in Naples, FL and I gotta say I love Disney!! I always go there on my vacation! Can't help it! LOL

    • MatijaB LM profile image

      MatijaB LM 5 years ago

      My favorite destination in US is San Juan Island.

    • eTravelSense profile image

      eTravelSense 5 years ago

      Mount Rushmore is an iconic MUST!

    • Alenkita1 profile image

      Alenkita1 5 years ago from Slovenia

      Very nice lens, hope to travel some day on these locations

    • OrlandoTipster profile image

      OrlandoTipster 5 years ago

      I recommend everyone come on down to Orlando Florida.

      Your lens does have a lot of nice places to visit.

      Nicely done!

    • MartieG profile image

      MartieG aka 'survivoryea' 5 years ago from Jersey Shore

      So many places I would love to see - my first choice is all the National Parks - this lens is so well done ~~~Blessed~~~

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Key west Florida Its as good as any other Island you can go to out side of the US and you can drive there! I live 1 hour from the Great Smokey Mountains which is a wonderful place to visit for a mountain experience. My son and I are getting ready to take a road trip across the country I look forward to all that there is to see.

    • chas65 profile image

      chas65 5 years ago

      A native Texan, love San Antonio and the Alamo and other historic places in the area.

    • Kiwisoutback profile image
      Author

      Kiwisoutback 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      @montanatravel52: Yellowstone is great, definitely one of my top picks for must see places in the U.S.

    • montanatravel52 profile image

      montanatravel52 5 years ago

      I was born and raised in Montana, so I HAVE to pick Yellowstone Park!! But you highlighted some great places, some that I am now excited to see, so Thanks!

    • williemack58 profile image

      williemack58 5 years ago

      I am not quite sure, however, I like Myrtle Beach,SC. and Vegas. If I ever get to Hawaii, that may turn out to be my favorite.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      What about Alaska and Hawaii ... Or did I miss seeing it ...

    • ChenB profile image

      ChenB 5 years ago

      Superb lens! I love articles that break down travel to certain areas and explain them like this. Good work!

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 5 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      Fave U.S. place, Maui Hawaii, hands down.

    • tcorbs profile image

      tcorbs 5 years ago

      I'd love to see the Rocky Mountains, really nice images.

    • MindPowerProofs1 profile image

      MindPowerProofs1 5 years ago

      Great lens. I love to see them all. I like travelling but not for the cities but for the nature. Thanks for sharing

    • profile image

      thegolfdirector 5 years ago

      Myrtle Beach, SC is the BEST! - The Golf Capital of the World!

    • rt8ca profile image

      rt8ca 5 years ago

      So far Maui Hawaii is definitely at the top of my list!

    • Richardryder profile image

      Risteard O'Marcahain 5 years ago from Wales

      New York, Sanfancisco, The Everglades, Key West, Hawaii, Witchita, and the great lakes are fantastic. I really would like to ride a train from coast to coast and see the Grand Canyon

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      Lindrus 5 years ago

      I've only really been to New York and California. But I'd love to see Grand Canyon!

    • waldenthreenet profile image

      waldenthreenet 5 years ago

      your topic is improtant. More important than mine perhaps on "America Tomorrow" and travel for history and nature via trains that soon may be available. Washington DC is nation's capital. History, yes. Nature yes, near by.

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      grandstrand 5 years ago

      Along with Myrtle Beach...is North Myrtle Beach.. Be sure to consider NMB when vacationing on the East Coast in SC.

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      blanckj 5 years ago

      Yellowstone National Park. Great lens. Thanks for sharing.

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Awesome lens on US travel destinations. I'd love visit the rocky Mountains and Grand Canyon as well as New York city someday. Blessings! :)

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      indiavacationplans 6 years ago

      Wonderful places and ideas! I hope you get to go to each and every one of these places!

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      I am going to Las Vegas, next week!!

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      Katherine89135 6 years ago

      So many great destinations! I have only visited Redwoods National Park one time, but I would love to go back and would highly recommend it to others.

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      Light-in-me 6 years ago

      Grand Teton National park is an awesome place to visit.

      Nice job, makes me want to take a trip!

      Robin :)

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      TampaFLAttractions 6 years ago

      Thanks for mentioning Tampa Bay in this article - although I might put it a little higher on the list!

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 6 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Awesome travel. Blessed.

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 6 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Love the way you did this lens...blessed.

    • LiquidGranite1 profile image

      LiquidGranite1 6 years ago

      I would love to visit Vegas again.

    • AuthorNormaBudden profile image

      AuthorNormaBudden 6 years ago

      My, oh my! I feel as though I can weep from sheer excitement. Your lens - and a few lenses you've directed me to - are none other than answers to prayer. I'm off to visit Cape Cod Road Trips since I will be visiting there for a few days this coming summer.

      Blessed by an angel and featured at Memorial Day Blessings 2011.

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      Joan4 6 years ago

      Wouldn't it be wonderful to take a year and just visit all of these fascinating spots? I enjoyed traveling with you today. Blessed by a squidangel.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      lots of great info here.. I went to darien lake to go camping one year and I had a GREAT time. connecting my niagara region - ontario canada lenses with yours ;) the idea girl on twitter i follow back..

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Wonderful travel lens. I love all places. You've done with great work! 5 stars for you :)

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 6 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Hard to say, there are so many places to visit. I loved New Orleans, New York, Northern Michigan, but the laid back life in the Florida Keys is the best.

    • joanhall profile image

      Joan Hall 6 years ago from Los Angeles

      Great collection of travel information. My aspiration is to someday take a two-week "vacation" in Los Angeles (where I've lived all my life) and see all the tourist attractions I've never visited.

      I'm giving this lens an Angel blessing and will feature it on SquidAngel At Your Service.

    • missbat profile image

      missbat 6 years ago

      Joshua Tree National Park would be one recommendation I could make. Sure makes me realize how little of this country I've actually seen. Great lens!

    • awakeningwellness profile image

      awakeningwellness 6 years ago

      Wow you have listed a lot of great places many of which I have been to, many that I would like to go to. I love the canyons and the mountains and I love the Northwest coastline...I would have to say that the mountains in Colorado and the Oregon coast are my favorite places!

    • profile image

      kimmanleyort 6 years ago

      We are in the midst of a cross country road trip right now - in Albuquerque. I think the southwest is my favorite. Thank you for featuring my Napa Valley lens.

    • SoyCandleLover profile image

      BW Duerr 6 years ago from Henrietta, New York

      If they have the chance, any of the above. I was lucky enough to travel from New York state to California by car twice during my childhood. My parents planned different routes for each leg of the trips so we could see much of the U.S. and even into Canada. A visit by mountain lion witnessed by my dad in the dead of night and driving the Rockey Mts during a snowstorm tops my Dad's memories. My sister and I most remember a swim in a fresh lake teaming with newts and a dip in a Glacier lake. Thanks for the memoroies.

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 6 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      My favorite destination is southern Florida in the winter. Love the ocean, the sunshine and the lighthouses.

    • LotusMalas profile image

      LotusMalas 6 years ago

      Very thorough - great job!!