10 Bucket-List U.S. Places to See Before the End of Summer

10 Bucket-List U.S. Places to See Before the End of Summer

Off you go for adventure — no passport required!

By Alesandra Dubin

It's nearly Memorial Day weekend (woo!) and that means we're all gearing up for our fabulous and far-flung travels. But lest we overlook all the gems right here at home, consider these stateside landmarks all Americans should have on their bucket lists!

Travel planning and booking site TripAdvisor has announced the winners of its Travelers’ Choice awards in the landmarks category. (The site uses an algorithm that takes into account the quantity and quality of reviews and ratings, over a 12-month period.)

In the U.S., the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool comes in at the very top — it’s also the only U.S. place to make the list of top 10 landmarks in the whole world.) Apart from that, landmarks in New York City and San Francisco alone comprise a full half of the list.

See the complete ranking of the top 10 U.S. landmarks here, and make plans to get to as many of these patriotic places as possible before summer ends.

Ready, set, go!

1. Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool — Washington, D.C.

This was the site of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, and has served as the backdrop for a ton of historically and culturally significant events. The pool holds nearly seven million gallons of water (perhaps Fredrik Eklund would care to go for a swim?) and was redesigned in 2012 to be more eco-friendly. 

2. Golden Gate Bridge — San Francisco, California

The bridge spans 4,200 feet across the San Francisco Bay and is probably the city’s most recognizable feature — among so many gorgeous ones. There are endless options for things to do in the Bay Area, but this summer, consider hitting the Outside Lands Music Festival in August.

3. Alcatraz — San Francisco, California

Yup, San Francisco again! Just over a mile from the San Francisco coast, Alcatraz prison once housed America’s famous criminals like Al Capone and Whitey Bulger. Now, the island is also home to lush gardens and a variety of birds and small animals. 

4. USS Arizona Memorial — Honolulu, Hawaii

The USS Arizona Memorial pays tribute to the more than 2,000 American lives lost when Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941. The memorial, built in 1962, can only be reached by boat and is located above the sunken Battleship USS Arizona. 

5. Grand Central Terminal – New York City, New York

Nearly 750,000 visitors passing through this building’s halls every day — let that sink in! — Grand Central Terminal is one of the busiest (and most beautiful) in the world. Of course, you’ll find plenty to do in New York City while you’re there.

6. Statue of Liberty — New York City, New York

This famous gift from France to the U.S. in 1886 has stood since then as a welcoming sight and signal of freedom. Take the Staten Island Ferry for a great view — or take a trip up to the crown for the full experience!

7. Empire State Building – New York City, New York

If you’re keeping count, this is the third entry in a row in New York City. The Empire State Building is known for its widely recognizable Art Deco architecture — and for providing visitors epic panoramic views of the city.

8. Biltmore Estate — Asheville, North Carolina

Built by George Washington Vanderbilt II between 1889 and 1895, the Biltmore Estate is a perfect specimen from the Gilded Age. The Biltmore House, the main house on the estate, has more than 178,000 square feet of floor space, and is the largest privately-owned house in the U.S. (Jealous much? We are!)

9. Brooklyn Bridge — Brooklyn, New York

The Brooklyn Bridge escorts more than 124,000 vehicles between Brooklyn and Manhattan — and that number doesn’t even include all the bicyclists, runners, and walkers that also cross the bridge each day. Pay a visit and join them this summer!

10. Rockefeller Center — New York City, New York

Visit where the Today Show premiered live in 1952, and has since filmed more than 16,000 episodes. Go to the Top of the Rock, or see the “Elmgreen & Dragset: Van Gogh’s Ear” art installation at the entrance to the Channel Gardens, on display through June 3.

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