The Most-Visited Tourist Destinations in the U.S. main image
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The Most-Visited Tourist Destinations in the U.S.

San Antonio River Walk

San Antonio River Walk

The San Antonio River Walk gets an average of 11.5 million visitors each year. It is an area of shops, restaurants, and sidewalks located on either side of the San Antonio River that winds under pedestrian bridges and through the city.

It is completely closed off to cars, hence why it is the river walk, and is a very important part to the culture and economy of San Antonio. The River Walk is only one of the very popular tourist destinations in San Antonio. The Alamo and many other Spanish Mission settlements bring in millions of tourists as well.

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Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

12 million people visit Niagara Falls each year. Since Niagara Falls is on the border between the United States and Canada, these visitors are basically shared between the two countries. We’ll count it as a U.S. win nonetheless.

Niagara Falls pours over 600,000 per second on average. It is the third largest waterfall in the world behind only Victoria Falls on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe and Iguazu Falls on the border of Argentina and Brazil.

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

As the most-visited national park in the United States, Great Smoky Mountains National Park gets around 12.5 million visitors each year. The best part is that entrance to the park is always free!

It covers a large area of land in Tennessee and North Carolina, so no wonder it gets so many visitors! It’s called the Smoky Mountains because of the English translation of the name the Cherokees gave the area named after the blue-hued fog and mist that always lingers in the hills.

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Balboa Park

Balboa Park

Balboa Park in San Diego, California, is 1,400 acres, nearly double the size of Central Park in New York. It has nearly 13 million visitors each year and is home to a wide variety of attractions, the most notable being the San Diego Zoo.

The park is responsible for the growth and popularity of San Diego. When the Panama Canal first opened, a giant exposition was held in the park to attract people to San Diego as a port, which caused a massive growth in population. That exposition had a few small animal exhibits that are now a part of the San Diego Zoo, and they’re still there after well over 100 years later!

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Pier 39

Pier 39

It is said that 15 million visitors take a trip to Pier 39 in San Francisco every year, but this structure has always had its sketchy numbers since its beginning in the 70s. It was proposed, built, and owned by Warren Simmons.

Simmons wanted to create a place where tourists would flock, and he just about succeeded in that vision. While it’s not the most pristine place to tour, it does have lots of fun restaurants and attractions, and as a more recent edition, lots of napping wild sea lions!

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Bourbon Street

Bourbon Street

17 million people crowd Bourbon Street in the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana, each year. It is now known for its wild nightlife, bars, and the very large number of partiers, but it didn’t always have that reputation. It was once the most densely-packed residential area of New Orleans.

It was also where many modern innovations were formed. Bourbon Street isn’t actually named after the alcohol, but rather the alcohol is named after the street. It was also one of the public pioneers of air conditioning, electricity, television, draft beer, jazz, and karaoke. No wonder it’s so popular!

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Disneyland

Disneyland

Although this was the first Disney Park, it is definitely not the most popular. While it does have an annual 18 million visitors, that is not even half of the visitors that Disney World in Orlando, Florida, gets.

It opened in 1955 in Anaheim, California, under the direction of none other than Walt Disney. It has welcomed over 700 million visitors since its opening, and is a must-see for any Disney fanatic.

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Faneuil Hall

Faneuil Hall

Historic Faneuil Hall gets about 18 million visitors each year. This is due to its historical significance and its grand marketplace that is home to several shops and restaurants. Its history dates back all the way to the 1740s when it was first opened in Boston.

It’s nicknamed “The Cradle of Independence” because it was where patriots met to plan their independence from Britain. It has been visited by many presidents over the years and has held many historically significant events.

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Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

24 million people visit the Golden Gate Bridge annually. It was christened by nearly 200,000 people in one day the first day that it was opened because many people wanted to be part of the many “firsts” of the bridge.

It had a rough start caused by a massive earthquake during its building, and many people died while building the bridge. However, its current support system has rarely been questioned, but on its 50th anniversary in 1987, a tightly-packed crowd of over 300,000 people began to flatten the high arches of the bridge.

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National Mall

National Mall

The National Mall in Washington D.C. attracts nearly 25 million visitors each year. With over 70 monuments and memorials and 26 miles of sidewalks, it is perfectly suited for these thousands of visitors each day.

Not only does it memorialize events and people, it has also held many historical events and people itself. Who can forget Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech or the March on Washington? It is still where many protestors go to this day to make their voices heard.

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Central Park

Central Park

38 million people walk through the paths of Central Park every year. While it is pristine and beautiful today, it has a rather shady history. It was once home to Seneca Village, a place where many freed African American slaves, Irish people, and Germans lived. They were forced out of their homes by the city’s plan to develop the park.

The land also wasn’t great for a park as it couldn’t grow plants well, but the city’s bureaucrats wanted this European-inspired park so badly, they took tons of more-fertile topsoil from New Jersey to support the grass and trees. It is now a very popular destination for tourists and is featured in hundreds of movies.

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Mall of America

Mall of America

We sure didn’t know this was that popular, but the Mall of America brings a whopping total of 40 million people each year to Bloomington, Minnesota, to shop at its hundreds of stores, dine at its wide variety of restaurants, and even seek thrill at its indoor amusement park.

The Mall of America is the largest mall in the United States, but the largest mall in North America is actually in Alberta, Canada, while the largest mall in the world can be found in China. Nevertheless, it still brings in a shocking number of tourists each year.

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Las Vegas Strip

Las Vegas Strip

The Las Vegas Strip is definitely one of the most popular tourist attractions in the United States as it brings in over 43 million people from around the world. When people from other countries are asked where they would like to visit in the United States, half the time they will say Las Vegas, and the other half they will say New York. No doubt about it.

Las Vegas was built up to attract millions of people with its glamorous casinos, restaurants, and hotels. It is notorious for bad behavior, and we all know that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Nevermind the fact that even accidentally getting married at one of their little chapels is a legally-binding contract.

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Times Square

Times Square

The destination with the second most average annual visitors in the United States is Times Square with 50 million visitors each year on average. It is a symbol of the hustle and bustle of western culture with its bright lights, rolling advertisements, and never an empty plaza.

It wasn’t always called Times Square, though, and got its name from the New York Times that moved there in 1904. The tradition of the New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square began three years later in 1907, and has been held every year since.

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Disney World

Disney World

58 Million people from all around the world visit Disney World each year on average. That is 40 million more people than Disneyland gets each year on average. However, Disney World is much bigger and has 4 different theme parks and 2 water parks to entertain tens of thousands of guests at once.

Disney World is advertised as the most magical place on Earth, and many details go into every inch of the park to make that the experience for the visitors. It would take years to visit every spot in the park and a lifetime to sleep in all of the available rooms. No wonder people want to go back year after year!

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Union Station

Union Station

Most people think of a train station as a place that's going to help you get to your tourist destination, but in the case of Union Station in Washington, D.C., it's the station itself that's a major destination for visitors. This busy transportation port averages about 40 million visitors per year. 

In addition to being the national headquarters for Amtrak, you can do a lot more than hop a train at Union Station. The station boasts lots of shopping and restaurants, and the architecture of the building itself is more than enough reason to give this major hub of American travel a visit. 

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Millennium Park

Millennium Park

Millennium Park in Chicago, IL was constructed as a way to celebrate the third millennium (aka the 2000s). Originally finished in 2004, this cornerstone of tourism took millions of dollars to create and is visited by an average of 25 million tourists per year. 

Described as the "front lawn of Chicago", Millennium Park's biggest draw is its 4000-seat Jay Pritzker Pavilion, which is home to the annual Grant Park Music Festival. In addition to some beautiful natural views, you can also experience multiple art galleries during your visit to the park. 

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Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station in New York City is much more than just a simple transportation hub—it's a historical and wildly popular landmark. Originally opening in 1871, as Grand Central Depot, the station has stood for more than a century and has an average of 21.6 million visitors per year. 

You'll be doing much more than just catching a train when you visit Grand Central Station. In addition to numerous high-quality restaurants, you'll find more than 40 stores for shopping, a train library, and even a tennis court! Why travel anywhere else when the train station is the most fun place to be? 

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Lincoln Park

Lincoln Park

Chicago has enough hotspots for a lifetime of vacations, but Lincoln Park is one Chi-town spot you don't want to miss. This 1200+ acre park sits along the edge of Lake Michigan, and, considering that gorgeous view, it's no wonder that the park boasts an average of 20 million visitors per year. 

There are plenty of outdoor recreational activities to try at Lincoln Park, including numerous playgrounds, a golf course, and plenty of opportunities for boating. But Lincoln Park is also known for its zoo, which happens to be free for visitors! You'll need at least a day or two to see everything the park has to offer. 

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Venice Beach

Venice Beach

Nothing says "Classic California" like Venice Beach. This sunny hotspot in Los Angeles brings in about 10 million visitors per year. Whether you want to catch some rays on the beach, do some skateboarding, or just explore the iconic boardwalk, there's something for everyone at Venice Beach! 

The famous beach has been described as a "global tourist destination" and a "cultural hub known for its eccentricities," both of which are absolutely true. From surfing to skating to shopping, Venice Beach is a big place that makes it more than worth a visit if you're ever in the Los Angeles area. 

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Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market is a Seattle fixture, and, like the rest of the Pacific Northwest, it's a pretty fun-yet-chill sort of place. As one of the oldest and most famous public markets in the United States, it's no wonder that this modern-day bazaar brings in more than 10 million visitors per year. 

You never know just what you'll find at the Pike Place Market, but there's a neverending supply of handmade goods and home-grown produce for sale at any given time. If you're there, don't forget to pay a visit to the market's unofficial mascot, Rachel—a 500+ pound bronze piggy bank. 

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South Street Seaport

South Street Seaport

New York City seems like a place where everyone is obsessed with the newest, hottest thing. But it's also a city with some amazing history if you know where to look. One of the biggest historical sites in the city is the South Street Seaport, which boasts almost 10 million visitors per year. 

South Street Seaport is located in Manhattan on the East River and has been an outpost for ships ever since the Dutch West India Company put a pier there in 1625. These days, the Seaport mall and tourist center are the most popular spots for tourists to flock to when they visit the area. 

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Mackinac Bridge

Mackinac Bridge

A bridge may just be a way to get from point A to point B, but if you build them big and elaborate enough, they're likely to turn into a full-blown tourist destination. That's the case with Michigan's Mackinac Bridge—which brings in almost 10 million visitors per year. 

Mackinac bridge connects the Lower and Upper peninsulas of Michigan and was first opened in 1957. It mostly draws in tourists who are on their way to Mackinac Island, but it's also become something of a Mecca for bridge enthusiasts across the globe. 

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Navy Pier

Navy Pier

The Navy Pier has the distinction of being Chicago's second most-visited tourist destination in the city. The 50 acres of stores, parks, entertainment, and restaurants located on the shore of Lake Michigan bring in about nine million visitors per year. And there's plenty of fun to be had at the pier! 

If you're in Chicago and are a big fan of amusement park rides, the Navy Pier is a must-visit, as it's got plenty of classic carnival fun. But it's also home to a children's museum, a botanical garden, and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Spend a day (or two or three...) having a blast on the pier! 

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Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

Is there a more iconic and classic tourist destination in the United States than the Grand Canyon? There may not be much reason to visit Arizona, but we'll make an exception for one of the most amazing natural landmarks in the world. Many agree, and the canyon brings in more than 5 million visitors per year. 

Visiting the Grand Canyon is about more than just staring at a giant hole in the ground! There's plenty of fun for people who love the great outdoors, including rafting, hiking, and camping. If traipsing along the edge of a dangerous canyon isn't your thing, you can also schedule a helicopter tour to see the whole thing safely and in style! 

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Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park has been around since Woodrow Wilson signed it into law in 1915. Spanning almost 700 miles, the park is the third most-visited national park in the country, with almost 5 million visitors each year. You won't find views like these anywhere else in the world! 

Obviously, the big draw of Rocky Mountain National Park is the Rocky Mountains, but the park is much more than just mountain climbing. You can find out more about the region in one of the park's visitor centers, and it's also a big draw for fishing fans nationwide. 

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Atlantic City

Atlantic City

New Jersey might not have the best reputation in the world, but there's one thing most people can agree on about the state—Atlantic City is a pretty cool place to visit. 27 million annual visitors isn't anything to be ashamed of, and this major tourist hotspot continues to bring in the big bucks for the state. 

If you're looking to roll the dice, you can't do any better than Atlantic City for tons of gambling. But if you'd rather keep your shirt, there's plenty of fun to be found on the boardwalk that won't cost you an arm and a leg. You won't find classic New England fun like this anywhere else in the world! 

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Georgia Aquarium

Georgia Aquarium

If you want to see the ocean in Georgia, you're going to have to go quite a bit further east than Atlanta. However, if you want to see one of the largest aquariums in the world sporting all kinds of ocean life, it's just the place for you! 

The Atlanta aquarium brings in almost 3 million visitors per year and is most famous for its collection of manta rays, bottlenose dolphins, and beluga whales. In 2018, the aquarium announced an expansion costing more than $100 million, which will probably just increase the spot's popularity even more. 

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Pearl Harbor National Memorial

Pearl Harbor National Memorial

The United States changed forever when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, killing more than 1000 soldiers. The national memorial established in 1962 to commemorate this dark day features multiple museums and memorial sites and brings in more than a million visitors each year to Honolulu. 

The most famous site in the national memorial commemorates the destruction of the USS Arizona. The memorial is on the water and is only accessible by boat. Directly underneath the memorial, the wreckage of the USS Arizona still sits on the ocean floor. 

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Gateway Arch

Gateway Arch

Most cities find some way to commemorate their founding, but none have done it in such an extravagant way as St. Louis. The iconic Gateway Arch was constructed in the 1960s to commemorate the founding of the city on the banks of the Mississippi. The national park brings in millions of visitors each year. 

If you're brave enough, you can actually take a ride up to the top of the arch. Most visitors make their way up thanks to the tram elevators, but there are also emergency stairs for those who can't stand enclosed spaces (and who don't mind a serious workout). On a good day, you can see 30 miles out from the top of the arch. 

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