10 Must See Tourist Attractions in the United States

1. Alcatraz Island in San Francisco

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Alcatraz Island is an island located in the San Francisco Bay, 1.5 miles (2.4 km) offshore from San Francisco, California, United States. Often referred to as “The Rock”, the small island was developed with facilities for a lighthouse, a military fortification, a military prison, and a Federal Bureau of Prisons federal prison until March 21 1963. Beginning in November 1969, the island was occupied for more than 19 months by a group of American Indians from San Francisco, who were part of a wave of Indian activism across the nation, with public protests through the 1970s. Later, in 1972, Alcatraz became a national recreation area and received designation as a National Historic Landmark in 1986. Today, the island’s facilities are operated by the National Park Service as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area; it is open to tours. Visitors can reach the island by ferry ride from Pier 33, near Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. In 2008 the nation’s first hybrid propulsion ferry started serving the island. Alcatraz has been featured in many movies, TV shows, cartoons, books, comics, and games.

2. San Diego Zoo in San Diego

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The San Diego Zoo is one of San Diego’s most popular tourist attractions. The zoo occupies an area of 107 acres (43 hectares) inside the Balboa Park and features some 4000 animals of 800 species. All its animals are owned by the city, the nonprofit Zoological Society of San Diego is responsible for operations and management. The zoo is home to several rare and endangered species including the Giant Panda, Komodo dragon – the largest living species of lizard weighing up to 70 kilograms (150 lb), Burrowing Owl, Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog and Polar Bear. The San Diego Zoo is a definite must see destination, both adults and kids will love its range of exhibits. Its children’s zoo, adults will probably it too, allows visitors to interact with some animals and also watch some baby animals being bottle-fed.

3. Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

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Opened on 27 May 1937 and was the longest suspension bridge span in the world at the time. This remained until Verrazano Narrows Bridge was built in New York in 1964, Golden Gate Bridge is now the seventh longest main span in the world. Construction of the 8,981 feet or 2,737 m bridge commenced on January 5, 1933. The projected cost was $35 million, however it was completed at $1.3 million (in 1937) below the projected cost. The Golden Gate Bridge weighs a massive 887,000 tons and has more than 40 million vehicle crossings a year. The bridge is also the most popular place to commit suicide in the United States.

4. Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia

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The Philadelphia Museum of Art is considered one of the top museums in the United States, with more than 800,000 visits every year. It is also one of the largest museums in the country housing a collection of over 225,000 objects and over 200 galleries spanning 2000 years. It also has up to 20 special exhibitions every year. The Philadelphia Museum of Art was established in 1876 during the year of the Centennial Exposition, it was never planned to grow to this massive size. It was originally called the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art and was housed in Fairmount Park’s Memorial Hall. The present building was built from 1919 to 1928 in a quasi-Greek Revival design, some refer to it as the Parthenon on the Parkway.

5. Statue of Liberty in New York City

 

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The Statue of Liberty is a colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, designed by Frédéric Bartholdi and dedicated on October 28, 1886. The statue, a gift to the United States from the people of France, is of a robed female figure representing Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom, who bears a torch and a tabula ansata (a tablet evoking the law) upon which is inscribed the date of the American Declaration of Independence. A broken chain lies at her feet. The statue has become an icon of freedom and of the United States. Bartholdi was inspired by French law professor and politician Édouard René de Laboulaye, who commented in 1865 that any monument raised to American independence would properly be a joint project of the French and American peoples. Due to the troubled political situation in France, work on the statue did not commence until the early 1870s.

6. Space Needle in Seattle

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The Space Needle is a tower in Seattle, Washington and is a major landmark of the Pacific Northwest region of the United States and a symbol of Seattle. Located at the Seattle Center, it was built for the 1962 World’s Fair, during which time nearly 20,000 people a day used the elevators, with over 2.3 million visitors in all for the World Fair. The Space Needle is 605 feet (184 m) high at its highest point and 138 feet (42 m) wide at its widest point and weighs 9,550 tons. When it was completed it was the tallest structure west of the Mississippi River. It is built to withstand winds of up to 200 miles per hour (89 m/s) and earthquakes of up to 9.1 magnitude, which would protect the structure against an earthquake as powerful as the 1700 Cascadia earthquake. The tower also has 25 lightning rods on its roof to prevent lightning damage. The Space Needle features an observation deck at 520 feet (160 m), and a gift shop with the rotating SkyCity restaurant at 500 feet (150 m). From the top of the Needle, one can see not only the Downtown Seattle skyline, but also the Olympic and Cascade Mountains, Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, Elliott Bay and surrounding islands. Photographs of the Seattle skyline often show the Space Needle in a prominent position, even appearing to tower above the rest of the city’s skyscrapers, as well as Mount Rainier in the background. This occurs because the tower, which is equivalent in height to a 60-story building, stands more than a kilometer northwest of most downtown skyscrapers.

7. Newbury Street in Boston

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Newbury Street is located in the Back Bay area of Boston, Massachusetts, in the United States. It runs roughly east-to-west, from the Boston Public Garden to Massachusetts Ave. The road crosses many major arteries along its path, with an entrance to the Mass Pike westbound at Mass Ave. East of Mass Ave, it is lined with historic 19th-century brownstones that contain hundreds of shops and restaurants, making it a popular destination for tourists and locals. The most expensive boutiques are located near the Boston Public Garden end of Newbury Street. The shops gradually become slightly less expensive and more bohemian toward Massachusetts Avenue. West of Mass Ave the street abuts the Mass Pike on its southern side, with no buildings to speak of; the northern side is mainly loading docks and garages of buildings fronted on Commonwealth Ave. A proposed, major decking project over the Pike in the area would reestablish the southern side of the road and expand the shopping district to Brookline Ave.

8. SeaWorld Orlando in Orlando

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SeaWorld Orlando is a theme park, and marine-life based zoological park, near Orlando, Florida. It is owned and operated by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, a subsidiary of The Blackstone Group. When combined with its neighbor Discovery Cove and the Aquatica waterpark, it forms a larger entertainment complex devoted to Earth’s oceans and the array of life that inhabits them. In 2010, SeaWorld Orlando hosted an estimated 5.1 million guests, ranking it the ninth-most visited amusement park in the United States. However, SeaWorld’s owners have challenged the estimated figures in the past; in 2007, the estimate was 5.8 million guests, while the park’s internal data, normally not released to the public, was closer to 6.2 million guests. A spokesman for then-owner Busch Entertainment Corporation disagreed with the report, saying, “They are wrong across the board.”

9. Balboa Park in San Diego

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It is not by accident that Balboa Park is San Diego’s primary attraction. This park embodies some of the country’s best attractions such as San Diego Model Railroad Museum and San Diego Zoo which is also world famous. Balboa Park is also the largest urban cultural park in the United States occupying an area of over 1,200 acres (490 hectares). It features 15 museums, 8 gardens, a theater and the famous San Diego Zoo. Balboa Park began in 1868 and its first museum, San Diego Natural History Museum, was founded in 1874. The park’s present look goes back to 1915 during the Panama-California Exposition. Development began in 1909 with several structures being built including the Cabrillo Bridge and Botanical Building.

10. Hollywood Sign in Los Angeles

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Although access to the Hollywood Sign is prohibited, there are several ways of getting closer to this popular landmark. One recommended way is to take the walking trails at the Griffith Park. These get you closer to the sign and give magnificent views, you can also visit the famous Griffith Park Observatory while at it. The Hollywood Sign is situated on Mount Lee and can be seen on all parts of Hollywood. It is 45 ft (13.7 m) tall and 350 ft (106.7 m) long. The sign was first erected in 1923 to advertise new housing development in the area. It originally read “HOLLYWOODLAND”, but the last four letters were removed in 1949 during restorations. It has now become a very popular landmark that has appeared in numerous television scenes.

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