The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) reported that in 2011, the U.S. brought in 62.3 million international tourists (France being the first with 80m), making it the second most popular destination in the world. Unlike smaller countries, the States are filled with several historically significant landmarks and culturally distinct regions that ensure a dynamic experience for travelers of all tastes. If you’re planning your own excursion from the U.K. to the US — or are still looking for a good reason to visit — consider the following list of four must-see cities in America.
1. New York
A stay in the States can’t be complete without a trip to the Big Apple, which features more landmarks and sites than tourists can experience in just one visit. The Statue of Liberty should be the first destination on your itinerary, located on Liberty Island in New York Harbor. Tourists travel to this iconic 151-foot (46-meter) symbol of freedom by ferry and are even able to explore the inside of the statue to look out at the city from Lady Liberty’s perspective. Another must-see landmark is the Empire State Building, which stands just shy of the Willis Tower at 1,250 feet. Be sure to experience a Broadway Show, see bustling Times Square, explore Central Park and become inspired at the Museum of Modern Art during your stay in the City That Never Sleeps.
The Windy City generates several thousand tourists from within the U.S. and overseas each year, with world-famous landmarks, first-class entertainment and the best pizza you can get outside of Italy. The city of Chicago is home to the famous Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower), which stands 1,451 feet (442 meters) tall and features an exciting Skydeck where visitors can catch a breathtaking view of the entire city beneath their feet. A little closer to the ground are the city’s Navy Pier for rides and waterside entertainment, as well as the Adler Planetarium for an awe-inspiring, educational look at the universe we live in.
3. Los Angeles
To get a full view of America, make your way over to the West Coast to see the glitz and glam of California’s Los Angeles. The city is home to Hollywood, which contributes to its title of “Entertainment Capital of the World.” Naturally you’ll have to make a point of seeing the iconic Hollywood sign while staying in L.A., along with the famous Griffith Observatory for an eye-opening look into outer space and Dodger Stadium for a rousing ballgame experience. You can dip your toes in the Pacific at one of the city’s many glittering beaches and watch a performance of your favorite musical artists at any one of L.A.’s wide variety of concert venues.
Austin, Texas, may also be a big city, but it offers good old-fashioned country entertainment for tourists who want a breath of fresh air and to experience a more rural side of America. Sign up for a few lessons at Austin’s famous Rock-About Climbing Adventures center, which helps both new and experienced climbers sharpen their skills at one of the city’s many mountainous regions. You can even experience the city on two wheels at the Town Lake Hike-and-Bike Trail, which stretches across the city, lush parks and calming lakes for a nature-filled break from the fast-paced tempo of the city.
America is one of the most multi-dimensional countries in the world, with a distinct theme and culture in each of its 50 states. Whether you want to take a break from the rainy days of the U.K. or just want to experience life outside of Europe, the U.S. is an essential destination for travelers who want to catch a glimpse into the everyday existence of citizens in one of the most developed and powerful nations in the world.