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Best Places to Visit in the US

Best Places to Visit in the US main image

Whether you’re heading to the US for study or simply to do some traveling for a few months, this huge country will have you spoilt for choice. There are too many possibilities to list here, so here’s a selection of just some of the best places to visit in the US, in no particular order – feel free to suggest anything we missed in the comments below!

The Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon

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Cost: $15 per person ($30 with a car), with some free entrance days

One of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon will astound you, with its huge size (stretching 227 miles long from end to end), layered bands of rock that reveal millions of years of geological history, and its unmistakable dramatic beauty. Guano Point is a popular vantage point if you’d like a spectacular view, or, if you prefer something a little more thrill-seeking, it’s actually possible to skydive at the canyon – not for those with a faint heart!

Once you’ve seen the Grand Canyon, other interesting attractions nearby include the Petrified Forest National Park and the Meteor Crater, a well-preserved site showing where a meteor struck Earth around 50,000 years ago.

New York City

New York City

Cost: Varies - it’s worth booking flights months in advance, and avoiding the more expensive months (July/August). Some budget hotels are less than $200 per night.

New York City has something for everyone – from the Museum of Modern Art, strolls in Central Park, to the loud, bustling Times Square and the Statue of Liberty. You’ll soon realize why NYC is known as the city that never sleeps. It’s worth getting a CityPass for your sightseeing needs, and you can also get a seven-day MetroCard for $32, allowing you unlimited travel on the subway network.

If you want to study in New York City, you can find out the top universities in the city here.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone

Cost: $15 per person ($30 with a car)

The first National Park in the US, Yellowstone, mostly located in Wyoming, attracts millions of visitors every year with its breath-taking scenery. At almost 3,500 square miles, it’s larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined. Yellowstone boasts canyons, rivers, lush forests, hot springs, and hundreds of species of native plants and wildlife. It’s also the location of one of the world’s largest calderas and petrified forests. Basically, if you love the outdoors, Yellowstone is for you, with plenty of opportunities for hiking, fly fishing, skiing and more. 

Florida’s Emerald Coast

Florida

Cost: Hotels in Florida average $104 per night

A popular spot for Spring Breakers, the Emerald Coast in Florida (the Sunshine State) on the Gulf of Mexico is known for its stunning sugar-white beaches, perfect weather and turquoise waters. You may even spot some of the area’s interesting wildlife, such as the sea turtles or dolphins. While you’re in the area, Miami and Orlando are both obviously well worth visiting – with the latter especially ideal if you like theme parks and/or Disney.

Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville

Cost: Hotels in Asheville start at $52 per night

The small city of Asheville, with a population of around 424,800, may not be as famous as some of the other destinations on this list, but it’s one of the most stunning. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, Asheville is ideally situated for viewing the surrounding natural beauty.  It’s close to the Blue Ridge Parkway, a national parkway known for its scenic views, with one of the world’s most diverse display of flora and fauna. The city itself is known for its friendliness, vibrant arts scene (and large artist population), great food and historic architecture, such as the large 19th century Biltmore Estate and the Art Deco-style City Hall.

Washington, D.C.

Washington DC

Cost: Hotels cost $150–275 per night.

A visit to Washington, D.C. wouldn’t be complete without seeing the city’s abundance of iconic landmarks: the White House, the Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Pentagon – the list goes on. Washington DC is a showcase of American history and politics, with an array of fascinating museums and monuments. Once you’ve seen the main sights, the city has more to offer, with a lively arts, restaurant and bar scene to explore in the evenings.

Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite National Park

Cost: $15 per person (seven-day pass) with some free entrance days

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Yosemite (yo-sem-it-ee) National Park is one of the most breath-taking parks in the US, particularly noted for its granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, huge, ancient sequoia trees, lakes, mountains, glaciers, and biological diversity. The best views can be had from spots such as Tunnel View, but the park’s sheer size (nearly 1,200 square miles) offers plenty of opportunities to take it all in. It’s also a popular site to go camping.

San Francisco, California

San Francisco

Cost: $306 per night, on average – but shop around

A foodie’s paradise, San Francisco is also known for its diverse population, tech start-up economy and steep, rolling hills. It’s one of the most iconic and popular cities in the US, and it’s easy to see why, with plenty of attractions to visit: the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Pier 39, the Palace of Fine Arts, the Twin Peaks, Chinatown, the Cable Car museum and more. Once you’ve finished sightseeing for the day, you can sit down at a restaurant and discover why San Francisco is praised so much for its iconic dishes.

Read about the seven things you should do on a west coast road trip >

Snoqualmie Falls, Washington

Snoqualmie Falls

Cost: Free to visit

Fans of the TV series Twin Peaks may recognize the next beauty spot on our list. Snoqualmie Falls, a 268-foot (82m) waterfall, is one of the most scenic attractions in Washington state, attracting more than 1.5 million visitors every year. The crashing falls make for a beautiful site, and also serve as a source of hydro-electric power for the region. The falls are featured in the US National Register of Historic Places, and are central to the culture and beliefs of the indigenous Snoqualmie people. Seattle is located around 28 miles to the west, and is also well worth visiting. 

Hawaii

Hawaii

Cost: Hotels cost at least $125 per night

Although any trip to Hawaii is naturally going to involve escapism, beautiful beaches and relaxation, each island has something to offer, depending on what you’re into. If hiking and wildlife are your thing, the Big Island is for you, with the Kīlauea volcano offering an ideal landscape for hikers. If you’re interested in exploring Hawaii’s ocean floor, the Atlantis Submarine Tour in Waikiki, Honolulu is a fascinating way to do so, allowing you to view diverse underwater life and sunken ships or planes.

Other must-see attractions include the USS Arizona Memorial, the lush Waipio Valley on the Big Island, Haleakala National Park on Maui, and the Polynesian Cultural Center, a theme park and living museum in Laie on the island of Oahu.

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Sabrina Collier's profile image
Written by Sabrina Collier
Sabrina is a content writer for TopUniversities.com, providing guidance on a wide range of topics. A graduate of Aberystwyth University, Sabrina is originally from the West Midlands but now lives in London. 
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