The most Iconic Monuments and Famous Landmarks in America

Land of the Free and Home of the Brave. Yes, without doubt everyone knows America… it is a country littered with stunning landscapes, famous buildings and iconic monuments that have appeared on TV and film for years, making so many places in the United States household names. We had a really hard job of choosing which landmarks should make the list of the ultimate landmarks in America. So much so that we ended up asking some of the best travel bloggers in the business to let us know exactly what should be on the US landmarks list. Read on to find out what makes the list…

Horseshoe Bend Arizona - Landmarks in America

Related: Did any of these landmarks make the list of most famous landmarks in the world?

The Top 10 Landmarks in America

It’s so difficult to create a scoreboard of the top ten USA landmarks but, if we had to rank the best, these are the ten we’d choose:

  1. Statue of Liberty
  2. The Grand Canyon
  3. Golden Gate Bridge
  4. The White House
  5. Empire State Building
  6. Mount Rushmore
  7. Yellowstone National Park
  8. Hollywood Sign
  9. Alcatraz
  10. Niagara Falls

The Statue of Liberty, New York

Explore by Darcy from Plan, Ready, Go

Landmarks in America - Statue of Liberty

A visit to the Statue of Liberty is most definitely worth adding to your New York City itinerary. Dedicated in 1886, the Statue of Liberty National Monument is an important symbol of liberty and democracy, not just in the USA, but also around the world. The statue itself is made of copper and was gifted to America by France as a gesture of friendship between the two countries. The US Parks Service has had care over Lady Liberty since 1933. 

Visitors should buy tickets ahead of time if you want to climb up to the crown. Those tickets can sell out weeks or even months in advance. Even if you don’t want to go up into the pedestal or the crown of the Statue of Liberty, you can purchase a ‘Grounds Only’ ticket to enjoy the cruise over to Liberty Island (with great views of both Lady Liberty and Lower Manhattan), walk around the monument exterior and visit the museum. Ferries to Liberty Island depart from Battery Park in New York City and Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey. 

Admission to the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration is included in your Statue of Liberty ticket, so take advantage if you have time. The Ellis Island museum does an excellent job of painting the picture of what it was like for early immigrants entering the US.

Think you know your landmarks? Then why not check out these famous landmark quiz questions.

Yosemite National Park, California

Explored by Ale from Sea Salt & Fog 

Landmarks in America - Yosemite Valley - California

Yosemite National Park is one of the most photographed parks in the United States, and with good reason! The park is made up of stunning rock formations, waterfalls, and endless forests. The Yosemite Valley in particular is home to some of the most famous landmarks in the USA, including Half Dome, El Capitan, and Yosemite Falls. The Yosemite Valley is a special place where you’ll marvel at the sheer beauty of mother nature.

The park is beautiful at all times of the year, but to see the waterfalls in full display, visit in the spring months (early April to early June).  Summer is peak season with large crowds forming around most attractions, and significant traffic in the park. If you visit during summer, ditch your car and take the park shuttle – it stops at most attractions and saves you the headache of fighting for parking!

Also, when you put together your packing list, make sure you pack layers! You’ll want sweaters for chilly mornings and nights, and t-shirts for hotter days.

You should plan to spend at least a weekend in Yosemite to get the most out of your visit. Camping is the best way to go so you can stargaze and be close to most attractions, but keep in mind that campground reservations open up six months in advance and fill up fast!

The Grand Canyon, Arizona

Explored by Sam from My Flying Leap

Landmarks in America - Grand Canyon makes the famous landmarks list

One of the top drawcards in the United States attracting both international and countrywide tourists alike is the Grand Canyon. It’s one of the seven natural wonders of the world and a truly awe-inspiring place to visit. It was etched by the Colorado River over millions of years which left a deep and colourful canyon with copper-coloured walls and epic steep cliffs and drop-offs.

The Grand Canyon is a hiker’s paradise and going down to the Colorado River and staying at Phantom Ranch is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Not all of the hikes are as long or as difficult and there are some moderate hikes available as well that provide great scenic views of the area.

There are two rims you can visit. The south rim is more popular and has more hotel options. You can walk along the rim and take in the views or if you’re feeling daring, you can walk on the Grand Canyon Skywalk, a glass bridge that extends out over the canyon. 

The summer is a popular time to visit though the best times to go are from March to May and September to November. You can avoid the largest crowds during these shoulder seasons and temperatures are a bit cooler, which is especially nice if you are hiking. 

Visiting the Grand Canyon is a popular overnight trip from Phoenix and worth seeing at least once in your lifetime.

Grand Central Station, New York

Explored by Talek from Travels with Talek

Landmarks in America - Grand Central Station

Even jaded New Yorkers born and raised in the city cannot fail to be impressed by the graceful feat of engineering that is the Grand Central Terminal.

Located on iconic 42nd street and Park Avenue, right in the beating heart of Manhattan, Grand Central Station is one of the world’s ten most visited tourist attractions, with 22 million visitors in 2018. And that’s not even including the train and subway passengers. The station contains a variety of stores and food vendors, including a food court on its lower-level concourse.

This iconic station was opened to the public in 1913. Its original opulence and sheer size was representative of the industrial might of the age and the man behind it, capitalism incarnate, Cornelius Vanderbilt. The imposing architecture and interior Beaux-Arts design have ensured the terminal racked up several landmark designations, among them a National Historic Landmark of the United States. 

Even if you’ve never been there, you’ll recognize Grand Central due to all the movies that were filmed in these beautiful halls. The terminal’s main concourse is often used as a meeting place, and when New Yorkers say “I’ll meet you at the clock” everyone knows it’s the Grand Central Terminal clock.

The soaring celestial ceiling displays the constellations. The chandeliers are gold plated and the massive columns give the impression of a colossal palace. All this for a train station?! The builders wanted to send a message to all who passed through this landmark, “you are someplace very special.”

Read next: What makes the ultimate landmarks in South America lists?

Golden Gate Bridge, California

Explored by Anisa from The Two Traveling Texans

America Landmarks - Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge gets its name because it spans the part of the San Francisco Bay called the Golden Gate, where it meets the Pacific Ocean.  It was painted “International Orange” because it blended well with the nearby hills, contrasted nicely with the ocean and sky, and would be visible through the fog.

The Golden Gate Bridge has been declared one of the Wonders of the Modern World. And when it was built in 1937, it was the longest suspension bridge (1.7 miles long) in the world connecting San Francisco with Marin County.

You can drive across the bridge on US Route 101 and California State Route 1.  There is also a lane for pedestrians and bicyclists. It’s also visible on many San Francisco Bay tours and the boat ride to Alcatraz.

I think the best experience is biking across the Golden Gate Bridge. If you prefer you could join a tour, but it is easy enough to do it independently. Pick up a rental bike in the Fisherman’s Wharf area, then you can ride across the bridge to either Sausalito or Tiburon. From there you can take a ferry back to the Fisherman’s Wharf area.

Disney World, Florida

Explored by Jordan from Queer in the World

Landmarks in America - Disney World

While the United States is most certainly filled with iconic buildings and landmarks, in my mind, none are more quintessentially American that the enchanting Cinderella castle at Disney World Resort in Orlando.

Built in a (loosely interpreted) colourful late-Gothic style that was popular in the 1400s, the Disney Castle Orlando is inspired by a mixture of real and fictional palaces. It was finished in 1971, after about 18 months of construction, and still, today remains the symbol of The Walt Disney Company. The castle clocks in at 189 feet (58 m) tall and is even taller than its sister, the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland California. While both are undoubtedly iconic in their own right, this one is my favourite as not only is it the largest in the world, but it is also has the most towers, 27.

Be sure to plan to visit at the park’s closing when a night-time projection mapping and fireworks show engulfs the landmark. This is certainly when the castle is at its most magical. I don’t want to give the show away but don’t blink, or you might miss Tinkerbell flying off into the night. 

Even better? Disney has announced in 2020 in honour of the 70th anniversary of the release of Cinderella, that the castle will be repainted. Don’t worry; however, the castle will be visible in all its glory throughout – and the night-time fireworks are not affected. The show must go on after all!

One World Trade Center, New York

Explored by Olga from Dreams In Heels

Pictures of american landmarks - here is the One World Trade Center

One of the most iconic landmarks in New York City, and overall in the world, is the One World Trade Center, better known as The Freedom Tower. It’s the tallest building in United States, the tallest in the Western Hemisphere and the 7th tallest building in the world! It’s a must-see monument that should be added to your classic 5 days in New York City itinerary and, even if you spend less time in the city, definitely prioritize it.

As a native New Yorker, this building is very meaningful and special since it holds the name of the North Tower that was destroyed during the 911 attacks. It’s a symbol of the resilience and strength of New Yorkers and how we continue to stand strong beyond all adversities.

This NYC landmark is located in downtown Manhattan, in the financial district, and is home to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. This meaningful place, where you can pay your respects, is definitely quite an intense experience for many like myself, but don’t let that discourage you.

You can easily spend half a day visiting the site, especially if you then go up the 102 stories to the One World Observatory. The views are stunning and memorable.

Regardless of how much time you plan to spend here, it’s important to be respectful of those around you.

Note: Don’t miss the Sky Portal, which is a glass floor that looks down onto the streets beneath you, 100 stories below. A totally unique experience! Lastly, you can enjoy cocktails and/or dinner at ONE Dine located inside the building.

The White House, Washington DC

Explored by Nicole from Oh My DC

American Landmarks - The White House home of the US president

The White House is probably the most iconic building in the United States. It first began getting built under President George Washington in 1792, but he never got to reside in the home. It wasn’t until 1800 when President John Adams was the first to live in the White House.

An interesting fact about the White House, each new President who moves in gets to redecorate! So, every 4 to 8 years the inside gets an entirely new facelift.

While Washington, DC sees over 22 million visitors a year, only a small fraction of those are allowed into the White House. Currently about 1.25 million people on average are able to get inside. One of the mistakes to avoid in Washington, D.C. is not planning ahead.

You can’t just show up at the White House and walk in! You need to submit a request up to 3 months in advance and no less than 21 days ahead of your planned visit. For United States citizens, you need to contact your congressman and for out of the country visitors, you need to contact your embassy that is in Washington D.C. to help facilitate this. Tickets are not guaranteed for anyone, and tours only run for limited days and timeframes. Best to get your request in as early as possible! 

The Hoover Dam, Nevada

Explored by Lee from the Travel Scribes

American Landmarks - Hoover Dam

At the time it was built, the Hoover Dam (actually then named Boulder Dam), was the tallest dam in the world. From its completion in 1936, it held the title for over two decades, only losing out to the Swiss, Mauvoisin Dam when it opened in 1957.

This US landmark, which straddles the boundary of both Nevada and Arizona, holds back the power of the great Colorado River in the Black Canyon, and in doing so has created the largest fresh-water reservoir in America.

Helping to power 3 US states, it’s hard to comprehend the sheer scale of the dam until you are on it, but to help you get the gist, enough concrete was used to build the landmark that it could also be used to build a highway from one side of the States to the other!

If you are in the Southwest, then the Hoover Dam should definitely be on your bucket list, it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country.

Read next: Need some inspiration for the best road trips in the USA?

Space Needle, Seattle, Washington

Explored by Stella Jane from Around the World in 24 Hours

USA Landmarks - Seattle Space Needle

The Space Needle in Seattle is the most iconic landmark in Washington State, and it’s possibly the most famous structure on the west coast of the United States. The Space Needle was built for the 1962 World’s Fair, so it was designed in that futuristic, Space Age style that was so popular in the 1960s, when the USA and the USSR were competing to race to the moon. If you’re interested in this part of history, you’ll find many signs on the subject when you visit the Space Needle.

Because the Space Needle is such a popular attraction, it’s important to book your tickets in advance on the Space Needle’s website. You’ll have to choose a time slot in advance of your visit. If you want to save money, buy a combination ticket so you can visit the stunning Chihuly Glass and Garden before walking over to the Space Needle. 

The Space Needle is not the tallest structure in the USA by any means. It’s only about half the height of the Empire State Building. But it’s more than tall enough to provide spectacular views of the entire city of Seattle. Don’t miss the Loupe, which is the world’s first rotating glass floor. Unless you are afraid of heights, you’ll love seeing Seattle right below your feet as you rotate in the sky.

Empire State Building, New York

Explored by Ashley from My Wanderlusty Life

Landmarks and Monuments in the US - Empire State Building

One of the most iconic architectural landmarks of the United States is, without a doubt, the Empire State Building in New York City. Completed in 1931, the Empire State Building was the tallest building in the world for almost 40 years. It’s been seen in countless movies, TV shows, and is known to be the most photographed building in the world.

The Empire State Building is the most recognizable landmark on New York City’s iconic skyline. And on a visit to NYC you can take the elevator to the top to one of the Empire State Building’s three observatories.

Being more than 100 floors tall and located smack in the centre of Manhattan, the Empire State Building makes for one of the best observation decks in New York City.

Inside you can learn all about the construction of the building, its history, and many fun facts like how it was completed in record time (1 year and 45 days), how the upper floor was originally designed as a mooring mast for airships, and how the offices inside have their own zip code (and many more!).

If you plan a visit to the Empire State Building, go up early in the day or late at night to avoid crowds. As one of the most popular tourist attractions in Manhattan, lines are incredibly long around sunset. 

Biltmore Estate, North Carolina

Explored by Stephanie from Explore More Clean Less

Biltmore Estate - American Landmark

The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina is a stately historic house that now serves as a museum and tourist attraction. The largest privately-owned house in the country, it was originally built for George Washington Vanderbilt II in 1895. It’s still owned by his descendants but now employs over 2,400 workers who keep the estate running for the 1.4 million visitors that visit in any given year.

An American castle, the house is always open for exploring and has special interest tours along with audio guides, allowing visitors to take a walk back through time exploring the architecture and admiring the art.

Outside the house there are miles of trails throughout the grounds, including exploring several different gardens. The formal rose garden and manicured areas accompany a large greenhouse full of tropical plants; visitors can also explore through hedges mazes to enjoy fountains and sculptures in the great outdoors.

In the Antler Hill area, kids will love the wooden playground, heritage craft area, and farmyard full of critters ready to be petted. There are more interpretive displays, shops, and a variety of wine and food options in this area to keep everyone happy and fed.

It’s easy to spend a full day exploring the house and grounds; choose one of the specialty tours to make it unforgettable – whether it’s learning falconry, horseback riding, or riding a Segway. Before you go, read more Biltmore Estate tips here and enjoy your visit.

Mount Rushmore, South Dakota

Explored by Rhonda from Travel Yes Please

Mount Rushmore - one of the United States monuments

There’s perhaps no other monument more American than Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. Carved in its stone are the faces of four presidents of the United States – Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln – commemorated for their contributions to the formation and growth of the United States of America.

The monument was completed in 1941, after 14 years of construction, and has since been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Each year almost 3 million visitors come to admire this unique, larger-than-life landmark.

While many monuments are simple statues, the sculptor of Mount Rushmore, Gutzon Borglum, took the approach that bigger is better. Each carving is 60 ft tall and the president’s likenesses are impressively accurate.

Visitors can admire Mount Rushmore from a viewing platform or walk along a trail to get an up-close look at the carvings. Audio guides that provide interesting information about Mount Rushmore and its history are available for rent and help make the most of a self-guided tour. At night in late spring and summer, the faces of Mount Rushmore are illuminated to give the monument a more dramatic appearance.

Night or day, Mount Rushmore is worth visiting for the craftsmanship and history it represents.

Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend, Arizona

Explored by Nicole from American SW Obsessed

Antelope Canyon - USA Landmark

One of the most beautiful places in the Southwest USA is Antelope Canyon outside of Page, Arizona. Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon in Arizona that has been formed over millions of years through erosion from flash floods.

There are both the upper and lower Antelope Canyon you can visit.  Which one is best is up to you and how comfortable you feel being in the canyon which gets quite narrow and how easily you can climb ladders! I prefer the Lower Antelope Canyon because it has fewer crowds and it is longer. However, you have to be physically fit to do the Lower Antelope Canyon due to all of the ladders and stairs.  Most people want to visit Upper Antelope Canyon as this is where you can see the light beams coming into the canyon.  Either way, you must book a tour in advance to visit either canyon. Lower Antelope Canyon is more expensive than Upper Antelope Canyon.

Another beautiful spot close to Antelope Canyon is Horseshoe Bend. This iconic spot has been photographed millions of times and is very popular on Instagram. Just be careful if you decide to do this hike in summer and the midday heat. The temperature was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit when we did this short hike. It is all downhill down to Horseshoe Bend but then you have to climb back up again to the parking lot.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Explored by Claudia from My Adventures Across The World

USA Landmarks - Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone is one of the most famous landmarks in the USA, the first national park created in the country (it was opened in 1872), and the most famous one. It spreads across three states – Wyoming, Montana and parts of Idaho – and it’s the kind of place where you can enjoy a great variety of landscapes.

The park is known for the presence of regularly erupting geysers, the most famous one being Old Faithful. You’ll also encounter hot springs such as the incredibly colourful Grand Prismatic and the mountainous landscape which together with the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, make it a perfect hiking destination. If you’re lucky, you may even see wildlife such as bison, elk, deer, grizzly bears, coyote and even wolves. 

Other things to do in Yellowstone are rafting and enjoying the lakes. Keep in mind that Yellowstone Lake is actually very cold, so swimming in it isn’t recommended, but you can still enjoy it on a kayaking spree or on boat tours. 

Finally, the national park has two beautiful historic lodges – Old Faithful Lodge and Lake Yellowstone Hotel – which not only are excellent places to stay, but can also be visited on guided tours.  

The Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC

Explored by Jordan from The Solo Life

Landmarks in America - Lincoln Memorial

A must-see landmark in the United States is the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. Although DC is known for its monuments and memorials, among other great attractions, the landmark that is always towards the top of the DC bucket list is the Lincoln Memorial. Built to honour Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, this memorial is ideally situated on one end of the National Mall. For those not familiar with Washington DC, the National Mall is the central hub of many of the most popular museums, as well as the Washington Monument and the US Capitol building.

When visiting the Lincoln Memorial, the highlights are the memorial itself, inspired after the Parthenon, and the 19-foot marble statue of President Lincoln. On either side of his statue, you’ll also see murals and inscriptions of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and second inaugural address. The memorial, like many in DC, is open 24 hours a day. This is a helpful feature, as the best times to visit to avoid the crowds are off-peak hours. The Lincoln Memorial is particularly lovely at night when lit up and giving off a more solemn atmosphere.

If visiting Washington DC, the Lincoln Memorial is one monument not to be missed. 

The Hollywood Sign, California

Explored by Francesca from Home Room Travel

Landmarks USA - Hollywood Sign in Los Angeles

When people think of Hollywood, people think of movie stars, huge homes, and the iconic Hollywood sign that overlooks the area. When visiting the Los Angeles area, scoping out iconic views of the Hollywood sign is a must.

Originally built in 1923, the Hollywood sign has since become an iconic landmark in the United States. It once spelled out Hollywoodland, as an advertisement for the homes in the new area deemed Hollywood. Each letter ended up being 30 feet wide and 50 feet high and contained over 4000 light bulbs.

To build it, it cost $21,000, comparable to $320,000 today. The sign was only supposed to be up for a couple of years, but it instantly became so popular as the area grew that it has been around ever since. Eventually, the ‘land’ part of the sign slid down the hill and it became the Hollywood sign we know today.

There are many fantastic places to view the sign from throughout Hollywood. The Hollywood and Highland Center offers a glimpse of the sign on a clear day. There is a great balcony to view it near the California Pizza Kitchen restaurant. For another view, visit the rooftop at Mama Shelter. Not only will you enjoy great food and drink, but the sign is also in clear view and makes for a great place for pictures.

One of the most popular places to view the sign is in Griffith Park. Here, visitors have the sign with a gorgeous backdrop of the Hollywood Hills. If you really want to get up close and personal with it, opt to hike all the way up to the top. There are several trails that lead to the top, which you can find from the Griffith Park area.

Mesa Verde, Colorado

Explored by Oksana and Max from Drink Tea Travel

Mesa Verde National Park - historical landmarks in USA

Mesa Verde National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site, the largest archaeological preserve in the United States and a must-see. Few landmarks in the United States are as impressive as the ancient dwellings you’ll find here. The ancient Pueblo people carved their homes into the cliffside of this remote region of Colorado and left other interesting artefacts such as petroglyphs and pottery.

There is an interpretive centre, at the entrance of the park, with interesting exhibits and videos explaining the history of the park and the Pueblo people. As well as guided Ranger walks and well-marked trails which zig zag the park.

One of the few ancient dwellings visitors can enter is the Step House. You can reach it via the Step House Loop which is a 1-mile walk. Another interesting hike is the Petroglyph Point trail which features rock paintings along its length. However, it is a bit longer at 2.6 miles. 

For a birds-eye view of the park, follow the park’s main “highway”. The loop has many lookout points which provide incredible views of the park’s main settlement.

We discovered Mesa Verde National Park on our USA Road trip, and it quickly became one of the highlights of our Colorado leg of our trip. It is a really special piece of Native American history that should not be missed.

Cloud Gate, Chicago, Illinois

Explored by Jennifer from The Evolista

Cloud Gate Chicago - U.S. Landmarks

One of the biggest tourist attractions in Chicago is a 110-ton sculpture in the middle of Millennium Park that reflects the world around it. Cloud Gate, also referred to as “The Bean” was built in 2004 as part of a design competition. It’s creator Sir Anish Kapoor, creator of other large public sculptures, envisioned it as liquid mercury. 

Cloud Gate has an ever-changing appearance that has captured the public’s attention. You can see Chicago architecture, beautiful sky, the changing seasons and of course, yourself. It is a photographer’s dream because there are so many ways to capture the Bean and its surroundings. One of the most interesting parts of Cloud Gate in the 12-foot-high concave chamber underneath. The mirrored panelling duplicates the reflection in such an interesting way.

The Bean is built from 168 computer cut steel plates that are welded together to make a seamless finish. That might not seem spectacular, but it expands and contracts in the Chicago weather and you can’t see any difference. The flexibility is facilitated by a metal structure underneath the mirrored plates that is constructed in a similar way to a bridge. The finished product is 33 feet high by 42 feet wide and 66 feet long. The weight is more than a Boeing 757 airplane.

Getting to Chicago and seeing Cloud Gate for yourself should be high on your USA bucket list.

Brooklyn Bridge, New York

Explored by Claudia from My Adventures Across The World

Landmarks in America - Brooklyn Bridge in New York - USA

Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most iconic landmarks in the USA. Connecting lower Manhattan to Brooklyn across the East River, the bridge was completed in 1883 and is the first ever suspension bridge to be built – in fact, it is a hybrid cable-stayed and suspension bridge.

Back when it was inaugurated, it was also the longest suspension bridge in the world with its 486 meters. 

Visiting Brooklyn Bridge is definitely a must when in New York. Partially pedestrian, one of the best ways to enjoy it is on a walk that takes you from one side to the other. You can alternatively cross it by bike. 

Another thing you should not miss is taking photos of the bridge. There are many places where you can go to snap a good photo. The beach at Main Street Park or a boat tour will prove to be excellent photo opportunities; but even taking photos from the bridge itself can be a lot of fun. You can also get great views from Williambsurg Bridge, a bit further north.

Brooklyn Bridge can get incredibly crowded during events, so make sure to check the calendar for city events before going, especially if you are hoping for a quiet experience. 

The Gateway Arch, Missouri

Explored by Stephanie from Oklahoma Wonders

St Louis Arch - American symbols landmarks and monuments

One of the most famous monuments in America is the St. Louis Arch, which is officially known as the Gateway Arch. Sitting on the banks of the Mississippi River, the arch is one of the most famous things to see on Route 66 and is an iconic symbol of the city of St. Louis.

The arch was built to commemorate the opening of the West with the Louisiana Purchase. However, if you visit today you will now learn a more nuanced story that includes information about how the opening of the west wasn’t all positive, and the Native Americans paid a heavy price for white settler expansion. Standing over six hundred feet high, the arch towers above the city. You can ride to the top of the arch in a tram to see the beauty of the city from above.

There’s also a museum you can visit to learn more about how the arch was built. The entire complex is maintained by the National Park Service under the name Gateway Arch National Park. While here you should also visit the nearby courthouse where the Dred Scott decision was decided. Another popular thing to do here is to go on a Mississippi Riverboat Cruise to experience one of America’s most important waterways.

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

Explored by Marcie from Hawaii Travel with Kids

Pearl Harbor Monument - USA Landmarks and US Monuments

One of the most recognizable and most popular places in Hawaii is Pearl Harbor. This is where the Japanese attacked on December 7, 1944 and was the catalyst for the United States entering World War Two. Pearl Harbor is actually home to several different Oahu attractions. There’s the Pacific Aviation Museum, the Battleship Missouri (also known as the Mighty Mo), and the Bowfin Submarine. However, the most famous monument at Pearl Harbor is the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial.

Pearl Harbor is actually one of the cheapest things to do on Oahu. It’s just $1.00 to reserve tickets if you just want to look around and explore. They also hand out free Pearl Harbor tickets every morning, but they get snatched up quickly. I suggest arriving before they open if you’d like to get these free tickets. Or, you can book a Pearl Harbor tour (with a guide or audio tour) to learn a lot more about World War Two history in Hawaii. This is a great way to fully understand what happened during the war and hear personal stories.

You’ll want to set aside at least a half day to explore Pearl Harbor during your Oahu vacation. Many tours offer shuttles right from Waikiki or you can drive yourself. It also makes a fascinating day trip from any of the other Hawaiian islands.

Alcatraz, California

Explored by Noel from Travel Photo Discovery

Landmarks in America - Alcatraz the prison in San Francisco

One of the most iconic historic monuments sits at the centre of San Francisco Bay. The striking Alcatraz prison and island sits proudly and fronting the bay and waterfront area like a majestic landmark. Built as a maximum prison penitentiary just a mile and a half from the city skyline, Alcatraz was actually a fort built initially in the 1850s to protect the city and later converted into a prison in 1934 and was the most secure American prison ever built.

Now a historic park, you can tour the grounds and various buildings by purchasing a ferry pass and admission through several services and can either take a variety of tours or do your own DIY adventure. It is a fantastic experience to walk through the grounds and also enjoy the magnificent views of the city skyline and entire bay views. Alcatraz is one of the most unique, cool and fun things to do in San Francisco.

Capitol Hill, Washington DC

Explored by Chris from 48 Hours Somewhere

Landmarks in America - Capitol Hill

A visit to Washington DC would not be complete without a visit to the home of American democracy, housing the legislative branch of congress. This iconic structure and the bronze statue of freedom atop are really a sight to see, the visitor centre has been built underground so as not to distract from the 200-year-old building.

But it’s the interior that makes the building a great place to visit. Taking a free tour around the building gives you an insight into the history of not only the building, but the United States and its expansion over the years – it grew to accommodate the increasing number of senators as more states joined. 

Getting to watch law making in progress is a special opportunity, unfortunately the houses were not in session when we visited but seeing the room where it happens was great too. By far the most impressive room in the building that you get to see is the Rotunda with its roof fresco “The Apotheosis of George Washington”. Although the crypt that was meant to hold the body of George Washington and the original Senate Room which is now home to many of the state donated statues provide their own unique parts of the building.  

Niagara Falls, New York

Explored by James from the Travel Scribes

Landmarks in America - Niagara Falls, is also one of the top Canada landmarks

We would hazard a guess that Niagara Falls is the best-known waterfall in the world. And even though it straddles the US and Canada border, given just how famous this landmark is, we had to include it on the list!

Although technically, not the widest or tallest waterfalls, this three-part waterfall has the largest combined flow rate in the world, drawing tourists from around the world to see this natural spectacle.

The waterfalls that make up Niagara are the two American waterfalls, aptly named the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls and the Canadian waterfall, Horseshoe Falls.

Recommended: Interested in visiting Monterey and Big Sur in California – here’s all you need to know!

Interactive U.S. Landmarks Map

So, what do you think of our list of the most iconic monuments and famous landmarks in America? Are there any that you think should be on the list? Let us know in the comments below or get in touch with us.

If you’re interested in landmarks, why not check out some of our other articles on the most amazing landmarks and fascinating places in various countries…


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