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The 15 Best American Landmarks to Visit (Updated for 2024)

The 15 Best American Landmarks to Visit (Updated for 2024)

When you think of places that are traditionally and classically American, landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, the Hollywood sign, and Mount Rushmore come to mind. We’ll show you these, along with a list of all the best American landmarks to visit, below! 

U.S. Landmarks You Have to See in 2024

While the amber waves of grain and purple mountain majesties are a sight to behold, the real soul of America can be found in its historic landmarks recognized around the world. Whether you’re a newcomer, just visiting, or born in the USA, seeing the best American landmarks is a rite of passage that will deepen your appreciation for this nation. 

We’ve pulled together a list of the U.S. landmarks that are most worthy of a visit — may we suggest a good old fashioned American road trip? — to guide you through the most iconic spots in the country. Let’s dive in! 

1. Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty, one of the best American landmarks, seen against a blue sky on a clear summer day

Matej Hudovernik/Shutterstock

The Statue of Liberty is practically the symbol of America and its principles: Freedom and hope. Standing proud in the bay, the statue on Liberty Island attracts millions of visitors annually as people come for a close-up look at France’s historic gift to America. 

You can see Lady Liberty, her tablet, and the raised torch from multiple vantage points — Manhattan’s Battery Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, Jersey City’s Liberty State Park, and even atop the Empire State Building or One World Trade Center — but this national treasure is worth more than just a passing glance. 

The official ferry to Liberty Island and Ellis Island will cost you $25+ from Battery Park or Liberty State Park, depending on the tour option you choose. General admission tours include a round trip ferry ride, entry to the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration, entry to the Statue of Liberty Museum, and the option for self-guided audio tours. 

But it’s worth opting for the Crown Reserve tour, which includes all general admission benefits and allows you access to the statue’s crown with panoramic views over the water and the New York City skyline.

Read Next: Where to Stay in NYC & The Best Time to Visit NYC in 2024

2. Hollywood Sign

Summer view of the Hollywood sign, pictured in an up-close image


The iconic Hollywood sign features white block letters in their recognizable font staggered across the hills over Hollywood in Los Angeles, California. It’s become a symbol of the entertainment business and reminds people that this is a place where anyone can make it with a little hard work, talent, and perseverance. 

Synonymous with showbiz, the Hollywood sign has long roots in its hilltop Mt. Lee location. The giant letters were originally erected in 1923, first reading “HOLLYWOODLAND.” Each letter stood about 43′ tall and 30′ wide.

Hollywoodland was the name of the new real estate development below, but as it deteriorated and needed to be repaired, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce suggested dropping the -land to better reflect the area as a whole and not just the real estate development. 

The sign was shortened to read HOLLYWOOD as it still famously does today. People come from all over the world to snap pictures of the sign, hike up the hill on Mt. Hollywood trail to see it up-close, or catch views from the Griffith Observatory or Ovation Hollywood by the Walk of Fame. 

Read Next: How to Get the Best View of the Hollywood Sign in 2024

3. Gateway Arch

Gateway Arch, one of the best American landmarks you can visit, viewed against a light blue sky in late afternoon

Another famous American landmark is the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri. Arches have been used to represent support, triumph, and strength for centuries. This 630′ arch was erected in the 1960s to honor St. Louis’ pivotal role in the United States’ expansion into the west during the 19th century. 

The Gateway Arch National Park honors not just the growth of the U.S., but also former president Thomas Jefferson, whose Louisiana Purchase doubled the size of the country and included Missouri. St. Louis was where Lewis and Clark began their Louisiana Purchase Expedition! 

The Gateway Arch (along with the Museum of Westward Expansion, St. Louis’ Old Courthouse, and the surrounding park) are part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. You can spend a full afternoon exploring these landmarks when you visit the arch! 

It’s free to visit the arch, but if you want to take it up a notch, spring for a tram ride to the top for incredible views over the city and river. Tickets are $15-$19 for adults and kids ages 3-15 save $4 on rides. 

Read Next: Where to Stay on a Trip to St. Louis: Best Areas

4. The Alamo

Outside view of the front of the Alamo, one of the best American Landmarks

Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

If you’ll be touring the southern United States, you can’t miss a visit to the Alamo in Texas. Now a museum, the Alamo was once a Spanish mission and later a fortress that served an important role in the declaration of Texas’ independence from Mexico. 

“Remember the Alamo” was the battle cry of Texans as they fought for their independence here. Today, that phrase serves as a reminder of the difficult journey to freedom during the 1836 Battle of the Alamo. And as promised, the nation hasn’t forgotten. 

The Alamo is a symbol of Texas’ heritage and past. The museum is filled with exhibits that walk you through the fort’s history with 500+ artifacts that help tell the story. The grounds span 5 acres and feature other noteworthy attractions, like huge cannons, the Mission Gate, and the historic barracks. 

A visit to the Alamo can be somber with the recognition of the lives lost on these grounds so many years ago, like Davy Crockett and James Bowie. But it’s a beacon of strength and resilience that’s well worth visiting to truly experience the soul of the nation. 

It’s free to enter the Alamo Church, but a guided tour is the best option if you’re interested in the history. Guided tours start at $45 for adults ($35 for children) and self-guided audio tours are $20 for adults ($18 for children). 

5. The White House

Front view of the White House lawn with a fountain and flowers outside for a piece on the best American landmarks

David Evison/Shutterstock

What landmark could better represent America than the White House? This presidential palace on Philadelphia Avenue in Washington D.C. has historically been the home of every United States president since John Adams. 

George Washington laid the framework for the White House with his signing of an Act of Congress in 1790. He chose the building site and oversaw the planning and design of the home, which was initially planned as a President’s Park

Plans shifted and the idea for a President’s Palace was born. Construction started in 1792, and by 1800, the expansive home was nearly finished and ready for John Adams and his wife, Abigail, to move in. The name “White House” didn’t come about until 1901, when Theodore Roosevelt bestowed the new name. 

It’s possible to take a 45-minute self-guided tour of the White House, but you’ll need to schedule 21-90 days in advance through your Member of Congress’ Congressional Tour Coordinator and receive confirmation first.

Read Next: Best & Worst Times to Visit Washington, DC & Where to Stay in DC in 2024

6. Cloud Gate (The Bean)

Night view of the bean, one of the best landmarks in America, as seen in the evening

Luis Boucault/Shutterstock

You probably know it as “The Bean,” but the famous sculpture in Chicago’s Millennium Park is actually named Cloud Gate. Designed by Anish Kapoor to bring liquid mercury to mind with its reflective qualities, Cloud Gate has become a gathering spot and a favorite attraction for Chicago tourists. 

The stainless steel Bean weighs 110 tons, stands 33′ high, and serves as a gate (a Cloud Gate, you might say) to the park with enough clearance to walk beneath the concave bottom of the sculpture. The Bean reflects the sky above and everything around it like a mirror.

Getting close to the Bean provides funhouse-style reflections, distorting appearances with its curved shape. With its prime location in downtown Chicago, it’s easy to walk to other attractions nearby, like the Crown Fountain, Millennium Monument, Chicago Cultural Center, and the vast Grant Park. 

It’s free to visit the sculpture, which has quickly cemented itself as one of the best American landmarks to visit. Take a stroll through the 2.5-acre Lurie Garden at the southern end of the park afterward!  

Read Next: Where to Stay in Chicago & The Best Time to Go to Chicago in 2024

7. Space Needle

One of the best American Landmarks, The Space Needle, seen on a foggy evening in Seattle


Seattle’s Space Needle is as iconic as it is tall (and it measures an impressive 605′). This otherworldly observation tower rises as one of the tallest structures in Seattle, easily recognized in the skyline as you approach the city like a flying saucer hovering overhead.

The Space Needle was designed and built in the 1960s for the Seattle World’s Fair with an “Age of Space” theme, but it still manages to look futuristic today. It was known as the 400-day wonder because that’s how long it took to build this impressive structure. 

The tower sits in the Lower Queen Anne neighborhood about a mile north of downtown Seattle. Ride 3 gilded elevators up to two glass levels (the Loupe with a rotating floor and an upper level that’s all-glass) for incredible views of Seattle, Puget Sound, and Mount Rainier. 

The Loupe Lounge cocktail bar and restaurant on the lower level and Atmos Cafe and Wine Bar on the upper observation level can extend your visit. General admission tickets start at $32.50 for adults and $24-$28 for children and seniors. 

Read Next: When to Visit Seattle & Is Seattle Safe to Visit in 2024?

8. Mount Rushmore

Lovely view of Mount Rushmore as seen on a clear Summer day

Jess Kraft/Shutterstock

When you think of America, Mount Rushmore is one of the first landmarks that comes to mind. The Mount Rushmore National Memorial in the Black Hills of South Dakota has been a favorite road trip stop for decades since its creation in 1941. Over 2 million people visit Mount Rushmore each year! 

The memorial honors 4 important U.S. presidents through the nation’s history: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. With their faces carved 60′ high in the granite mountain, the legacies of these men live on in the landscape. 

There’s a great museum onsite (Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center) that guides you through the memorial’s design, the building of Mount Rushmore, and the associated tribal nations with cultural and spiritual ties to the Black Hills.

You can also visit the Sculptor’s Studio where Guzton Borglum worked and travel down the Avenue of Flags with all 50 states represented. Admission is free, but you’ll pay $10 to park (discounts for seniors and free for active duty military). 

Badlands National Park, Devil’s Tower National Monument, Wind Cave National Park, and Jewel Cave National Monument are all located within an hour or two from Mount Rushmore to keep the road trip going. 

Read Next: The Best Time to Visit Mount Rushmore 

9. Washington Monument

Washington Monument, a proper American landmark, viewed at dusk from the end of the reflecting pool

Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

The White House isn’t the only landmark you’ve got to see while you’re in Washington D.C. The hollow Washington Monument obelisk rises 555′ tall, offering the best views you’ll find over the city and attractions like the Lincoln Memorial, the White House, and the Capitol. 

The monument sits at the west end of the National Mall with the tranquil Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool below. It was built to honor America’s first president, George Washington, with an obelisk style that has been used for such monuments since ancient times.

Walking up to the monument is impressive all on its own, but for a real treat, you’ll want to get tickets and go inside the monument to rise to the breathtaking views over D.C. There’s a museum level before the observation deck where you can learn about the monument and its history. 

Tickets to go up to the observation deck are free, but they sell out quickly during the peak spring and summer months and should be reserved in advance (there’s a $1 fee for advance booking). 

10. Golden Gate Bridge

Famous view of the Golden Gate Bridge as seen from the hill with bold red against a dark water background


The brightly-colored Golden Gate Bridge is an engineering marvel in San Francisco, California and stands as one of the best American landmarks to visit. Its vast size with towers, cables, and trusses in a recognizable orange color make it awesome to see in person. 

Built in the 1930s, this bridge is the iconic symbol of San Francisco with its strength, design, and transportation importance. The Golden Gate Bridge spans the mile-wide Golden Gate strait that connects the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. 

This cantilever-suspension hybrid bridge was ahead of its time and was initially considered ugly by local media. But its symmetrical design is respected and appreciated today.

While there are multiple great vantage points around San Francisco (especially from Fort Point National Historic Site and Baker Beach), our favorite way to see the Golden Gate Bridge is from a ferry at sunset.

Take a cruise around the bay to see spectacular views of the bridge along with Angel Island, the coves of Sausalito, and Alcatraz Island as the sun sinks below the San Francisco Bay and casts everything in a rosy-orange glow.

Read Next: The Best & Worst Times to Visit San Francisco in 2024 & Trip to San Fran Cost

11. Route 66

Photo of the Route 66 sign, one of the best American landmarks, painted on the road

Nick Fox/Shutterstock

Route 66 (U.S. Highway 66) is the embodiment of the classic American road trip. This stretch of highway once connected Chicago to Los Angeles along a curvy, scenic path that made long travels not just possible, but memorable. And you can still drive on Route 66 today.

This highway relic once spanned 2,400 miles across America, from farmland and mining towns in Illinois and Kansas to hills, mountains, and deserts in Missouri, Arizona, New Mexico, and Arizona. The route ends in Los Angeles, which appears like a promised land out of the dry, cacti-laden landscapes. 

The idea of driving Route 66 brings to mind brightly-colored, old-model cars packed to the brim with luggage and families making their way across America on hot, sunny days. And while it’s changed a lot, the magic of the past can still be found on this 2-lane blacktop. 

Plan your travels down Route 66 to see some of the vintage shops and stops, like Pop’s Diner in Arcadia, OK and the Leaning Tower of Texas in Groom, TX, still thriving on the old byway and treat yourself to a taste of the old America along the way. 

While interstates lead to a decline in the use of Route 66, people still drive this scenic byway. Sections between Springfield, MO and Tulsa, OK are still populated with all the vintage shops, diners, and visitor centers you imagine when you picture Route 66 in its heyday. 

12. Monument Valley

Sunrise over a great American landmark, Monument Valley


Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, an awe-inspiring and culturally significant stretch of land that rises into incredible red-rock buttes, hills, and spires, is a famous American landmark with an otherworldly feel. 

The park spans about 90,000 acres on the Arizona-Utah border and belongs to the Navajo people. The sacred site is quite a sight, and you’ll feel absolutely dwarfed by the massive rock formations that tower over you on all sides as you enter the park.

Red-colored sandstone adds to the unique landscape, making it feel like you’re walking or driving on Mars as you make your way through the valley. It evokes images of the Old West and Native American spirituality. 

This park is a phenomenal spot to go hiking, mountain biking, and snap photos of the alien landscape that lets you know you’re deep in the heart of the American Southwest. Entry fees are low at $8 per person, so you don’t have to spend a lot to see a lot in Monument Valley. 

13. Niagara Falls

Aerial view of one of the best American landmarks, Niagara Falls, seen from the shore

Jam Norasett/Shutterstock

Niagara Falls, an iconic honeymoon destination in America with its 3 wondrous cascading waterfalls, is shared between the United States (New York) and Canada (Ontario). The U.S. section of the falls is especially popular to visit and a true American landmark. 

Niagara Falls has its own city in New York, sitting about 25 minutes outside of Buffalo on the Canadian border. Entering the falls through Niagara Falls State Park from the U.S. side, you’ll have stunning views of the Niagara Gorge and chances to see all 3 waterfalls: Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls. 

The best views are of American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, especially if you head out to the overlooks at Prospect Point, Terrapin Point, or the 282′ Observation Tower inside the state park.

Take a ride on the Maid of the Mist for an even closer encounter and hike down to Bridal Veil Falls’ Cave of the Winds and head out to the Hurricane Deck.

While you’re visiting, you can check out the state park’s restaurants with views of the cascades, hiking trails, and attractions in the city like an aquarium and casino. 

Read Next: What a Trip to Niagara Falls Costs in 2024 & When to Go to Niagara Falls

14. Lincoln Memorial

Statue of Abraham Lincoln at one of the best American landmarks, the Lincoln Monument, in Washington


The Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. stands apart from the many attractions around the federal city as one of the most memorable. With its larger-than-life depiction of President Lincoln overlooking a massive rectangular reflecting pool in front, this is a must-visit landmark. 

Its colonnaded facade brings the Greek Parthenon to mind with its strong Doric columns, one erected for each of the 36 states that were part of the Union when Lincoln was killed. This memorial honors the 16th president’s life and achievements in a beautiful way. 

Nothing can really prepare you for the magnitude of the famous 30′ tall statue of Lincoln in his armchair inside the memorial. Behind the columns, he appears to gaze out over the reflecting pool. His head alone is as tall as the average toddler (3 feet, 7 inches)! 

While the incredible white marble statue housed inside the central chamber gets all the attention, you have the chance to tour the memorial and see all 3 interior chambers.

The side chambers include one honoring famous speeches the president gave (like the Gettysburg Address) with the other highlighting his many accomplishments. 

15. 9/11 Memorial & Museum

Neat corner view of the World Trade Center Memorial, one of the best American landmarks, on a cloudy day


Chances are, you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing on the fateful day of September 11, 2001. When two planes crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan, thousands of lives were lost and both towers collapsed in a plume of smoke, fire, and rubble. 

The footprint of the collapsed towers is now home to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. This somber site honors the victims of this tragic event with the shaded 8-acre 9/11 Memorial Plaza, which houses twin pools inscribed with every victims’ name. They also feature the largest man-made waterfalls in the country. 

The National 9/11 Memorial Museum offers multimedia exhibits covering the attacks, including artifacts, archives, and memorials to the victims.

It’s a solemn place to visit, but deserves a place in your itinerary and offers you a chance to honor the 9/11 victims and ensure the memory doesn’t fade. 

Things to Consider

The Space Needle, one of the best American Landmarks, as seen from the air with Mount Rainier in the background


Fees and tickets, parking, peak seasons, and more will affect your experience at the best American landmarks. Making sure your visit goes smoothly is easy when you keep these tips in mind! 

  • Pay a little more for a cooler experience. Many of America’s best landmarks are free to visit, like the Washington Monument and the Alamo, but lots of these places have paid tour options if you’d rather explore with an informative guide, visit onsite museums, or go up to observation platforms for better visibility. 
  • Know the parking fees. Even if you’re visiting a free national park or attraction, there may be parking fees for onsite lots or street parking, so it’s always smart to do your research before you visit. Some places are better to reach via public transportation. Most of the tourism websites will feature a section labeled Getting Here or Parking to quickly get the info you need.
  • Check the forecast. Before you set out for a landmark adventure, make sure the weather will cooperate! Indoor attractions won’t be as much of an issue, but to really enjoy places like Mount Rushmore or the Statue of Liberty, you’ll want to go on a day when it’s dry with comfortable temperatures. 
  • Keep holidays in mind. Some landmarks will be closed on federal holidays (especially Thanksgiving and Christmas Day), so if you’re traveling during these times, make sure to research and find out if the landmark will be open to visit. Many state parks, like Niagara Falls State Park, are open 365 days a year. 
  • Figure out where you’ll stay. If you’re visiting a national or state park, you might be able to camp on the grounds or book a cabin for convenient lodging that puts you close to the landmarks you’re visiting. For attractions in cities and without onsite accommodations, check or Expedia for hotels, vacation rentals, and campgrounds nearby. 

Frequently Asked Questions

The Bull on Wall Street, one of the best American landmarks ever built

Stuart Monk/Shutterstock

We’ve looked at 15 of the best American landmarks, but if you’re like other travelers, you probably have a few more questions. Take a look at the most commonly asked questions below to learn more before you start planning your trip! 

What is the most famous landmark in the USA?

The Statue of Liberty is, without a doubt, the most famous landmark in the USA. This iconic copper statue on Liberty Island in the New York Bay sees as many as 4.5 million visitors annually and has been represented in countless TV shows, movies, songs, and NYC souvenirs.

What US state has the most landmarks?

New York is the US state with the most landmarks, featuring 270 different landmarks around the state (some more famous than others). Massachusetts comes in second place. The Statue of Liberty, 9/11 Memorial & Museum, Empire State Building, and Niagara Falls are just a few examples of New York landmarks.

What is the most famous landmark of North America?

The Statue of Liberty may be the most famous landmark of North America, but Niagara Falls overtakes it with the number of annual visitors. Niagara Falls lies partially in the United States (New York) and Canada (Ontario) and receives over 12 million visitors each year.

What are the 3 famous landmarks in South America?

Machu Picchu (Peru), Christ the Redeemer (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), and Lake Titicaca (Peru/Bolivia) are the 3 most famous landmarks in South America. These intriguing landmarks include ancient Incan ruins, a renowned statue of Jesus on a hill overlooking the beach, and the world’s highest-altitude lake.

What is Texas' most famous landmark?

The Alamo is the most famous landmark in Texas with 300+ years of history -- some proud, some painful. From its beginnings as a Spanish mission to the Battle of the Alamo in the Texas Revolution, the long history of the Alamo has made it a storied and famous place in Texas.

So, What are the Best American Landmarks?

There’s no better way to get to know the spirit and history of America than through its most famous landmarks. From sea to shining sea, this nation’s relatively brief history sure has left it with a number of amazing and iconic places! 

Whether you’re planning on adding a stop or two to an existing trip or want to make it a mission to see as many of the nation’s iconic destinations as possible, you can’t go wrong when you set your course for any of the 15 landmarks on our list.