37 Most Famous American Landmarks Everyone Should Visit

Last Updated: April 12th, 2024

Disclosure: WayToStay is reader-supported. If you buy a product we link to, we may earn a commission. Learn More

Traveling across the United States gives you a great opportunity to see many different sights and communities. From coast to coast there are a wealth of landmarks and famous places that are worth visiting. While there are lots of cool places, there are some “must see” landmarks along the way.

These places are iconic American landmarks and landscapes. They are the places that every American, or tourist, should see and experience at least once in their lifetime.

My Personal Top 5 Favorite US Landmarks

While this list is not exhaustive, it does give the eager traveler some great starting points for their trek across the United States. Follow along with us as we share 37 famous American landmarks you shouldn’t skip.

37 Famous American Landmarks

1. Statue of Liberty


There is nothing more iconic in the United States than the Statue of Liberty. It is a landmark that is featured on coins, stamps, and even in miniature in Las Vegas. It is a beacon for those looking for the American Dream when they come to this country.

Dedicated in October of 1886, “The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World”, a gift from the country of France, is seen by many as the icon of freedom. Today, The Statue of Liberty is a US National Park and is visited by thousands of individuals each year.

When visiting the Statue of Liberty things to experience include a tour of the Crown, views from the pedestal balcony, and the Statue of Liberty Museum. Because this is a National Park, reservations are required for some experiences like the Crown tour and pedestal access.

2. The White House


The White House is an iconic symbol of the US government and is also home to the President of the United States and the executive branch of the US government. It is also a beautiful building and a site that many people look to visit when in Washington D.C.

The White House has public tours scheduled every day of the week, except on federal holidays. Visiting the White House is not a spur-of-the-moment experience. If you are planning a trip to Washington D.C. and want to visit the White House, you will want to reserve your tour date in advance.

Tour requests must be made between 21 and 90 days of your visit, and must go through your Congressional representative. Currently, tours of the White House are only open to US citizens.

3. Washington Monument


The Washington Monument is a 500-foot tall, Egyptian-style obelisk that was built between 1848 and 1888. The monument was intended to commemorate George Washington. Washington was the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, the first President of the United States, and a founding father.

Located in Washington D.C. the Washington Monument is part of the larger National Mall park complex run by the National Park Service. To visit the monument there are no fees or reservations required unless you would like to experience the views from the top of the monument. Reservations are required for this experience.

One of the most exciting experiences surrounding the Washington Monument is the annual Independence Day celebrations. Thousands of people flock to the monument and the National Mall to celebrate and enjoy a grand fireworks display.

4. Mount Rushmore


There are few landmarks that are more “American” than Mount Rushmore. This immense sculpture, carved into the side of Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota is a tribute to those leaders who were instrumental in the development and growth of the United States.

The sculpture was designed and carved by Gutzon Borglum beginning in October 1927. The first figure to be completed was that of George Washington, followed by Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. The park officially opened for visitors in 1941.

Today, Mount Rushmore is one of the most popular landmarks in the United States. It is open year-round except on December 25 and 26. There is no fee to enter the park, but there is a fee to park in the visitor parking garage.

5. Niagara Falls


Niagara Falls is one of the most awe-inspiring natural landmarks in the United States. The falls consist of three distinct waterfalls that are located on the border of the United States and Canada. The largest of the falls, Horseshoe Falls, splits the border between the two countries. The smaller falls, American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls both lie within the borders of the United States.

The falls have been an attraction of interest for many years. In the mid-1800s the falls became a popular tourist destination. However as industrialism boomed, mills and factories above the falls began depleting the Niagara River of water, and the falls at one point were almost completely gone. The efforts of conservationists and environmentalists, led by Frederick Law Olmsted, an architect and landscape designer, fought to protect the falls.

Today, the falls are still a popular tourist spot. The falls can be viewed from various platforms located in the Niagara Falls State Park. Visiting the park and the observation platforms is free. However, for a fun, up-close viewing experience, purchase tickets for a ride on the Maid of the Mist, a boat that will take you as close as you can to the base of the falls.

6. Space Needle


The Space Needle is an iconic feature in the Seattle skyline. Built for the 1962 World’s Fair, the Space Needle was once the tallest structure west of the Mississippi River. The unique structure was the combined ideas of Edward E. Carlson, John Graham, and Victor Steinbrueck. In 1999, the structure was designated a historic landmark.

From the observation areas at the top of the Space Needle, you can see amazing views of the Seattle Skyline, Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, the Olympic and Cascade Mountain ranges, Elliott Bay, and Puget Sound.

7. Gateway Arch


The Gateway Arch is a defining feature of St. Louis, Missouri. Located on the western bank of the Mississippi River, the landmark is one of three locations in the Gateway Arch National Park.

This steel arch was constructed originally to commemorate three significant occurrences in US History: The Louisiana Purchase, The fight against slavery and the Dredd Scott case, and the establishment of the first state government west of the Mississippi River.

Visitors to the Gateway Arch National Park can take a surprising elevator ride to the top of the Arch where views stretch for miles. Tickets for the elevator can be purchased in advance. There is no cost to visit the Westward Expansion Museum or the Old Courthouse.

8. Hoover Dam


The Hoover Dam is one of the largest concrete dams in the United States. It sits just a short distance from Las Vegas, Nevada. The dam was constructed between 1931 and 1936 during the height of the Great Depression. The dam is a hydroelectric plant generating electricity for Las Vegas and many other communities in Nevada and California.

The Hoover Dam is one of three large dams on the Colorado River and is generally the most famous. The completion of the Hoover Dam resulted in the creation of Lake Mead. Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the United States when it is full to capacity. It is used for irrigation and drinking water but is also a popular recreational area.

Visitors to Hoover Dam can take guided tours of the power plant and hydroelectric facilities located inside and around the dam.

9. Lincoln Memorial


The Lincoln Memorial was constructed in honor of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. The memorial’s building was designed by Henry Bacon, and the massive of Lincoln inside the building was sculpted by Daniel Chester French.

The Lincoln Memorial is one of the most popular landmarks in Washington DC. It sits at the western end of the National Mall and is frequently photographed with the reflecting pool at its base.

The statue of Lincoln is said to represent the two halves of his Presidency. The left side of the statue is relaxed indicating the peaceful period before the Civil War. The right side of Lincoln is tense and aged, representing the stress and difficulty of the Civil War.

10. The Grand Canyon


The Grand Canyon in Arizona is considered one of the natural wonders of the world. The 277-mile-long canyon that winds through the desert plateau exposes 2 billion years of the Earth’s geological history. The immensity of the canyon is awe-inspiring, and the expansive vistas are extremely popular with landscape photographers.

Grand Canyon National Park is the easiest way to experience much of the canyon and is a great place to schedule tours and excursions into the canyon.

Two of the most popular natural features in the Grand Canyon are Horseshoe Bend, and Havasu Falls. Man-made features that are popular include the Grand Canyon SkyWalk and the National Park lodges which provide educational and tourist information.

11. Golden Gate Bridge


The Golden Gate Bridge is perhaps the most photographed and well-known bridge in the world. This structure connects San Francisco, California to Marin County, California was once the longest and tallest suspension bridge in the world.

The bridge designed by engineer Joseph Strauss, spans across the 1-mile wide strait that connects San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean. The suspension bridge was constructed between 1931 and 1937 and features an Art Deco style typical of the 1930s.

Today, visitors to the Golden Gate Bridge enjoy self-guided walking tours, a visitor center, and guided tours into the heart of the bridge.

12. Plymouth Rock


For US history buffs, Plymouth Rock is a landmark that should not be missed. Located in the Pilgrim Memorial State Park in Plymouth, Massachusetts this point of interest is the location where the Mayflower Pilgrims disembarked from their ships and set their feet on the ground of the “New World”.

The small Pilgrim Memorial State Park is located on the shores of Plymouth Harbor. There are observation points, a replica of the original Mayflower ship, and under a granite canopy, Plymouth Rock. The rock is inscribed with the date of 1620, to commemorate the year that the Mayflower Pilgrims landed in the Americas.

13. The Alamo


The Alamo is one of the oldest landmarks on our list and has a very long and storied history. Located in San Antonio, Texas, The Alamo was constructed in approximately 1724  as a mission outpost and was named Mission Valero.

The Catholic Church held control of the Mission until 1793 when it was relinquished to the community. The community turned the mission into a fort and renamed it Fort Alamo after the Alamo Company of the Spanish army which occupied the fort for a time.

The Alamo rose to acclaim in Texas history as one of the more significant battles of the Texas Revolution. Fighters at the battle of The Alamo included Davy Crockett and Stephen F. Austin, both legends of American and Texas History.

Today, The Alamo is within walking distance of the famed San Antonio Riverwalk. Visitors can purchase tickets to tour the mission and fort.

14. World Trade Center Memorial


Though this is the youngest landmark on our list, it is not lacking in importance to the history of the United States. The World Trade Center Memorial, also known as the 9/11 Memorial, sits in the footprint of the two World Trade Center buildings that were the sight of the most significant terrorist attack in US History.

The site has two features that visitors can experience. The Memorial which pays tribute to the individuals that were killed in the 2001 and 1993 attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and United Flight 93 is two reflecting pools surrounded by Memorial Glade a peaceful tree-filled park that offers a quiet place for reflection and remembrance of those that worked in the rescue and recovery of individuals from the collapsed buildings.

The 9/11 Museum is a learning place where individuals can delve into the history of the site and learn more about the history of both the 2001 and 1993 attacks on the World Trade Center. Tickets are required for visiting the museum, it is free to experience the memorial.

15. Cloud Gate – “The Bean”


Cloud Gate is another relatively new landmark on our list. It is also one of the most unique and entertaining. This modern sculpture by artist Anish Kapoor sits in Millenium Park in downtown Chicago, Illinois. The sculpture has been lovingly named, “The Bean” due to its bean-like shape. The shiny, reflective sculpture reflects the Chicago skyline.

Visitors can walk around and under the sculpture, it is designed to be an immersive and interactive art piece, allowing individuals to experience the views of Chicago and themselves from a different perspective.

16. Empire State Building


The Empire State Building is one of the most popular landmarks for visitors to New York City, New York. The art deco skyscraper sits in the heart of Midtown Manhattan. Often considered the most famous building in the world, this beautiful skyscraper once was the tallest building in the Manhattan skyline.

Today it is dwarfed by modern skyscrapers, but it continues to be a symbol and highlight of the New York City experience. Visitors to the Empire State Building have a number of experiences to enjoy, including tours, the observation deck, and a museum with lots of great exhibits about the history of the building and New York City. Tickets are required and can be purchased online, in advance of your visit.

17. Mount Vernon


For visitors to the Washington, DC area Mount Vernon is a popular landmark to visit. The estate was home to George Washington, the first President of the United States. Visitors to Mount Vernon can enjoy wandering around the grounds that feature numerous buildings, historic sites, and museums.

Some of the unique experiences to be enjoyed at Mount Vernon are demonstrations of farming techniques used by George Washington, a functioning gristmill and distillery, and a working blacksmith shop.

Day tickets allow you to experience the estate on your own, there are also guided tours available for an added cost.

18. Key West Lighthouse


The Key West Lighthouse is located on the southernmost point in Florida. The original lighthouse was constructed shortly after the U.S. Navy established a fort on Key West in 1823.

The lighthouse was necessary for allowing safe navigation of the shallow waters around the key by commercial and military vessels. The current lighthouse is the third constructed on the site. The first two were destroyed in hurricanes.

The Key West Lighthouse is open to visitors and admission tickets can be purchased online. Visitors can climb the 88 stairs to the top of the lighthouse and explore artifacts of the lighthouse and its keepers.

19. Monument Valley


Monument Valley is a sweeping landscape on the Colorado Plateau that is home to numerous, natural, sandstone towers and buttes. Formed over millions of years, these towers are a striking contrast to the flat desert plateau.

Most visitors experience Monument Valley on the 17-mile loop road and visitor center that is part of the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. This sacred place for the Navajo people is one of the most photographed landscapes in the world and is an amazing experience during sunrise and sunset.

20. Hollywood Walk of Fame


There are quite a few famous landmarks in the Hollywood, California area, but the Walk of Fame is one of the most interesting. The Hollywood Walk of Fame covers both sides of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street and is home to stars on the sidewalk that celebrate many of our beloved Hollywood actors and actresses.

The first stars were placed in 1958. There were eight original stars. Today, 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and 3 blocks of Vine Street are covered with over 2,700 brass and terrazzo stars. The centerpiece of the Walk is the Chinese Theater which opened in 1922 and is often used for movie premiers and other events.

21. The Library of Congress


Founded in 1800 the Library of Congress is the official research library for the United States Congress and is also the oldest federal cultural institution in the US. James Madison, one of the Founding Fathers, was the creator of the Library. The library is located on Capitol Hill in three buildings. Only the Thomas Jefferson Building is open to the public.

Besides being home to thousands of texts, the Library of Congress has numerous reading rooms, a museum, and collections geared toward children and teens. The number of visitors to the Library is strictly controlled and timed entrance tickets are required, however, visiting the Library is free.

22. Vietnam Veterans Memorial


The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is the most visited memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC. This modern, yet minimalistic memorial is discreetly tucked into a grassy hill. On the surface of the reflective, black granite are the names of men and women who were killed or went missing in action during the Vietnam War. The wall was completed in 1982.

Visitors to Vietnam Veterans Memorial can also explore Constitution Gardens, the Three Soldiers sculpture, and the Vietnam Women’s Memorial. There is no cost to visit the memorial, which is overseen by the National Park Service.

23. Times Square


When you think of New York City, one of the famous landmarks that comes to mind is Times Square. This junction of streets in the heart of Manhattan is home to one of the largest New Year’s Eve celebrations, the iconic jumbotron, and the Times Building, the focal point of the square.

Times Square is a gathering place for both residents and visitors. The square features numerous shopping locations, restaurants, and sculptures. There are also daily events and activities that visitors to the square can experience.

24. Griffith Observatory


More than just a unique landmark, Griffith Observatory is a functioning space observatory and scientific research center. Located on one of the highest points in the Los Angeles, California area, the Griffith Observatory and surrounding Griffith Park are one of the most popular tourist sites.

The Observatory is filled with great exhibits and a planetarium that allows visitors to learn about and experience the wonders of space and the universe. For visitors that aren’t into space, Griffith Park is the largest urban-wilderness park in the United States. It has miles of walking trails and one of the other iconic Los Angeles landmarks, the Hollywood Sign.

25. Thomas Jefferson Memorial


Since 1943, Thomas Jefferson has looked stoically over the Washington, DC Tidal Basin. The Thomas Jefferson Memorial was constructed to honor the founding father and author of the Declaration of Independence. The Memorial echoes the classical architecture style that Jefferson loved and is also seen at his home at Monticello.

The Thomas Jefferson Memorial is surrounded by Japanese flowering cherry trees and is in direct alignment with the White House. Visitors to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial will have the best experience when visiting in early spring when the cherry trees are in blossom.

26. Yosemite National Park


Yosemite was one of the first designated National Parks in the United States. The park is located in the heart of the California Sierra Nevada mountain range. Visitors to Yosemite National Park are often overwhelmed by the massive landscape that is home to ancient sequoia trees, towering waterfalls, and enormous granite monoliths.

When visiting Yosemite National Park visitors should not miss Bridalveil Falls, and the iconic views of El Capitan and Half Dome. Because Yosemite National Park is so popular, the National Park Service does require time entry tickets for all visitors to the park. Visitors can also stay in the park at a number of lodges and camping areas.

27. Castillo de San Marcos National Monument


Like the Alamo, Castillo de San Marcos is one of the oldest buildings in the United States. In fact, it is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States. Castillo de San Marcos National Monument is located in St. Augustine, Florida on the western shore of Matanzas Bay.

The Fort was constructed by the Spanish in approximately 1672  to defend Florida and the Spanish Atlantic trade routes. The fort passed from the Spanish to the British and eventually the Americans. It has a long and sorted history but has been a fixture in the story of the United States.

28. Alcatraz Island


If you are in San Francisco and want a unique experience, a visit to Alcatraz Island is a must. Located just off the coast, Alcatraz was originally built as a defensive fort in the 1850s. Over time, however, it gained notoriety when it became a military and subsequently a federal maximum security prison. The prison was closed in 1963 and later reopened as a museum.

Alcatraz Island is part of the National Park Service and today has numerous exhibits about the prison, including some of its famous prisoners (Al Capone, George Kelly, and Robert Stroud).

29. Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello


Though most visitors come to Monticello to experience the home of Thomas Jefferson, for Jefferson, this place was much more than a home.

For the 40 years that Thomas Jefferson resided at Monticello, it was a working farm and a botanical laboratory. The main home at Monticello was built by Jefferson in the neoclassical style. The home along with the plantation is considered a National Historic Site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Visitors to Monticello can enjoy a number of hands-on experiences, reenactments of life on the plantation, and museum exhibits. Tickets can be purchased online prior to visiting.

30. Old Faithful (Yellowstone National Park)


Located in Yellowstone National Park, Old Faithful Geyser is perhaps the most famous geothermal geyser in the world. Old Faithful received its name in 1870 when it was noted that the eruptions of the geyser happened exactly every 44 minutes. However, this timing changed after the Borah Peak earthquake in 1983, and Old Faithful became less consistent in its eruption timing.

Old Faithful is the most popular landmark in Yellowstone National Park and is seen by thousands of visitors each year. It is one of the thousands of geothermal features in Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone is an extremely popular National Park in the spring and summer months, so timed entry tickets are required.

31. Arlington National Cemetery


Arlington National Cemetery is one of two cemeteries that are run by the US Army, located in the Washington, DC area. Arlington National Cemetery is the burial place for more than 400,000 men and women that have served our nation.

The cemetery pays honor to military servicemembers with numerous memorials and sculptures. The most famous of these memorials is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This massive marble mausoleum honors those lost in battle or whose bodies could not return home.

Visiting Arlington National Cemetery is free, though there is a fee to park and you must have your ID checked before entering the site. Many people walk the site or take advantage of the interpretive bus tours.

32. Lewis and Clark National Historic Park

Lewis & Clark National Historic Park Image by: OCVA / Flickr

Located near the mouth of the Columbia River near Astoria, Oregon, the Lewis and Clark National Historic Park tells the story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and the westward expansion of the United States.

Fort Clatsop was the stopping point for the Corps of Discovery led by Meriweather Lewis and William Clark. The expedition members camped at Fort until they started their return journey to St. Louis, Missouri.

The Park is a combination of National Park, Fort Clatsop National Memorial, three Oregon state parks, and two Washington state parks. The entire site is listed on the National Historic Register. Visitors can experience numerous activities, museums, and natural environments when visiting Lewis and Clark National Historic Park.

33. Ellis Island


Ellis Island is part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. The facilities at Ellis Island were the landing place for 12 million immigrants who traveled to the United States in search of a better life.

Today, the facilities at Ellis Island no longer welcome immigrants to the United States. However, for those looking for their heritage and family history, Ellis Island is one of the best resources for genealogy research.

For those that are not in search of their history, but want to learn more about the immigrant experience Ellis Island is home to museums and exhibits about immigration and the individuals that passed through its doors. While you are visiting Ellis Island, don’t forget to save some time to visit the Statue of Liberty.

34. Pearl Harbor


The bombing of Pearl Harbor, a Naval Base in Hawaii was the event that thrust the United States into World War II. In December of 1941, Japanese fighter planes dropped bombs on the ships of the US Pacific Fleet that were stationed in Pearl Harbor. This attack destroyed many US aircraft carriers and battleships, and many servicemen were killed in the attack.

Today, Pearl Harbor is a National Memorial that honors the individuals that died in the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Memorial site has a museum and numerous monuments.

The most significant of the monuments is the USS Arizona Memorial. This ship was sunk during the attack, and many of the lives lost were those who could not escape the sinking ship. The monument is constructed over the sunk battleship.

35. The Chrysler Building


In the early 1930s in New York City, there was a competition between three competing builders to construct the tallest skyscraper in the world. In May of 1930 when the Chrysler Building was completed it was the tallest building in the world. It held this title until another building on this list, the Empire State Building, topped it in 1931.

Built by the Chrysler Corporation, this art deco-style skyscraper is still the tallest brick building with a steel frame in the world. It is also considered to be the best example of art deco architecture. It is located at the corners of 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, New York.

Visitors to this building can explore it for free. The lower, arcade level is home to restaurants and shopping. The upper floors are still used for office space.

36. Independence Hall


This is one of the “must see” landmarks for US History buffs. Independence Hall is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and is one of the most significant places in the founding of the United States of America. Independence

Hall hosted the Second Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention. In its halls, the Founding Fathers created the framework for a new nation and signed the Constitution of the United States.

Visitors to Independence Hall will walk into history and experience the spaces where a nation was born. The Independence National Park, where Independence Hall is situated, is also home to the Benjamin Franklin Museum and the Liberty Bell. Independence Hall is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

This park is very popular, particularly in the spring and summer, so visitors will need to purchase timed entrance passes.

37. Gettysburg National Military Park


Gettysburg National Military Park is the site of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. The Battle of Gettysburg is considered to be the turning point in the Civil War, as the Union defeat that stopped General Robert E. Lee’s attempt to invade the North. It was also the location where President Abraham Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address.

Visitors to Gettysburg will soon learn that this site is expansive. It is a park that can easily be visited for more than one day. Throughout the Park, there are monuments and historical places that commemorate the battle in its different stages. There are also memorials to the soldiers and military horses, museums, and the Gettysburg National Cemetery.

About The Author

Jason Gass is a Colorado based freelance writer and blogger whose goal is to share a good cup of coffee and great stories around a campfire with close friends. When he’s not working, he spends most of his time traveling, searching for the best breweries, and road-tripping in his teardrop trailer with his wife, daughter, and two dogs.

Join our list

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Enter your email and get this picture and description straight to your inbox

🔒 We don’t spam or sell emails. see our privacy policy
Picture of Jason Gass

Jason Gass

Jason Gass is a Colorado based freelance writer and blogger whose goal is to share a good cup of coffee and great stories around a campfire with close friends.
When he’s not working, he spends most of his time traveling, searching for the best breweries, and road-tripping in his teardrop trailer with his wife, daughter, and two dogs.

Read More From Jason Gass
Send this to a friend