When people think of any state they tend to think of certain iconic landmarks — those monuments, buildings, art installations, museums, parks, and parts of town that stand out in a state and set it apart from everywhere else in the U.S. After all, there’s only one place in America with a lovably flawed Liberty Bell and only one spot with a subtly magnificent sculpture called "The Bean.”
Some landmarks are in cities and some are in wide open spaces. Many of these landmarks are as old as the United States itself, and some are even older. All of them welcome visitors and tourists, including New York’s Statue of Liberty, Missouri’s Gateway Arch, and New Mexico’s Carlsbad Caverns.
Whether you’re visiting these landmarks for the first time or the 50th, you will surely be impressed by these iconic places, statues, and parks that you have seen on postcards and in history books across America.
This architecturally interesting memorial in Birmingham, Alabama, is dedicated to 41 people known to have died fighting for equality between 1954 and 1968. It honors their hard work and sacrifices in the struggle for civil rights. It’s also across the street from the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that has been working against hate groups in the United States since 1971.
This 325,240-acre state park is a must-see on your next trip to Alaska. Located in the Matanuska-Sustina Borough, it is the fourth largest state park in Alaska and almost half the size of Rhode Island! The beautiful forested wilderness sits at the foot of North America’s tallest peak, Denali.
The Ozark Folk Center is dedicated to preserving the culture, heritage, and tradition of Arkansas’ Ozark Mountains. Visitors can see working craft artisans and folk musicians and even take home hand-crafted souvenirs.
Declared one of the wonders of the modern world by the American society of Civil Engineers, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge is easily one of the most gorgeous landmarks in America. It towers over the bay and provides the perfect backdrop for vacation photos and postcards from California.
Mesa Verde is best known for its well-preserved ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings, built between the sixth and twelfth centuries, and especially for the immense Cliff Palace. It’s also home to 5,000 known archaeological sties!
Connecticut’s Mystic Seaport is the nation’s leading maritime museum, covering 19 acres on the Mystic River. It’s home to over 500 watercraft, including America’s oldest commercial ship still in existence.
Among the American landmarks most recognizable around the world is the White House, where the president resides. However, not all U.S. presidents have lived inside its walls. The White House’s first resident was President John Adams.
The Winterthur Museum's 60-acre naturalistic garden designed by horticulturist Henry Francis du Pont, is one of the country's best. The museum itself, which houses over 90,000 pieces of art– contains some of the most important collections of Americana artifacts and history in the country.
Everyone knows Walt Disney World. It’s the happiest place on Earth! This Florida landmark houses the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and more!
The largest “blackwater” swamp in North America is home to alligators, unique species of carnivorous plants, and rare birds. It’s also considered to be one the seven natural wonders of Georgia.
The “date which will live in infamy” left Hawaii with an iconic American landmark. Guests can visit all four historic Pearl Harbor sites in around six hours, so make sure to leave a whole day free to explore and pay reverence to the lives lost on December 7, 1941.
Coeur d'Alene's Old Mission, or Cataldo Mission, is the oldest standing building in all of Idaho. Built by Catholic missionaries and members of the Coeur d' Alene Tribe, the mission's grounds also house one of the most stunning biking trails in the western U.S.
Chicago’s iconic “Cloud Gate” is more affectionately referred to as “The Bean” for its bean-like shape. The curvy, stainless-steel art installation attracts visitors from around the world to take their photo (and the city’s) in its handprint-smeared reflection.
Vincennes is the oldest city in Indiana, and one of the oldest U.S. settlements west of the Appalachians. It’s most famous for its landmark, the George Rogers Clark National Historical Park Rotunda.
The Amana Colonies have been a national historic landmark since 1965. The area was settled in the 1850s by an evangelical community that had fled persecution in Germany, and for 80 years these seven villages lived virtually independently from the rest of America, embracing the specialized crafts and farming they had brought from their homeland. Visitors can experience this rich history through their still-working woodshops, craft stores, and brewery.
Dodge City is one of the most famous towns in the U.S.’s Old West history. Home to the legendary exploits of Wyatt Earp and used as the backdrop for long-running radio and TV series Gunsmoke, Dodge City welcomes modern visitors to its annual rodeo and the Boot Hill Museum, which features artifacts from the city’s vibrant past.
Mammoth Cave National Park encompasses 360 miles of caves in Kentucky — the longest known cave system in the world. Park services host kids-only tours to teach children about cave conservation and ecology.
St. Louis Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France, is the oldest cathedral in the United States, and its distinctive peaked spires stand out even against the skyline of modern New Orleans. Located in the vibrant French Quarter, this is iconic landmark is located close to the never-ending party that is Bourbon Street.
Southwest of Bar Harbor lies Acadia National Park, a stunning 47,000 acres of natural beauty. It’s comprised of three main areas: Mount Desert Island, Schoodic Peninsula, and Isle Au Haut. Acadia’s breathtaking maritime landscapes are perhaps the most beautiful on the East Coast.
Fort McHenry is the birthplace of “The Star-Spangled Banner” — the lyrics were written by Francis Scott Key, who watched the fort’s brave resistance as a prisoner of the British Royal Navy during the Battle of Baltimore in 1814. The original 15-star, 15-stripe flag that flew during the battle is still there, preserved in a special exhibit.
Those who visit Massachusetts’ historic Freedom Trail will take a 2.5-mile journey through American history in the city where the first engagements of the American Revolutionary War took place. The route covers 16 historic sites, including: Boston Common, Massachusetts State House, Park Street Church, and many, many more.
Step back in time at Fort Mackinac, built by British forces during the Revolutionary War and later the site of two strategic battles during the War of 1812. The state park offers historical reenactments, cannon firings, and cooking demonstrations. Want to enjoy its natural beauty? The park offers biking trails, a forest canopy bridge, and a zip line in the midst of all this iconic American history.
If you’ve ever wanted to see a glorious waterfall in the Midwest, Minnehaha Park and Falls is a great option. The park, which is inside the Minneapolis city limits, features towering limestone bluffs and a 53-foot waterfall.
Vicksburg was the site of one of the most strategic Union victories of the Civil War, when General Ulysses S. Grant led a campaign and siege that brought about the surrender of the vital Confederate fort and garrison that controlled the Mississippi River. National Military Park includes 1,325 monuments and markers, some of which include the restored gunboat U.S.S. Cairo, Grant’s Canal site, and the Illinois State Memorial.
You’ve definitely seen the iconic Gateway Arch in St. Louis. This 630-foot-tall monument is a defining feature of the St. Louis skyline. Plus, guests can ride the arch all the way to the top for a stunning view.
Little Bighorn Battlefield is the site of the famous “Custer’s Last Stand,” at which the celebrated cavalry colonel imprudently led part of his command to their deaths as part of a campaign to suppress a coalition of Native American tribes resisting U.S. authority. Guests at the national monument can visit Custer National Cemetery, the 7th Cavalry Monument, and the Indian Memorial.
Chimney Rock is the most iconic rock formation in Nebraska. Jutting straight out of a mountain and into the sky nearly 300 feet above the surrounding valley, this pointy rock served as a landmark for pioneers on the Oregon, California, and Mormon trails during the nineteenth century. Now, it’s an awesome photo opportunity.
New Hampshire’s Mount Washington is the highest peak in the northeastern United States. It’s also notable for its erratic weather, and at times it’s one of the coldest places on the planet! The Mount Washington Observatory monitors the peak’s notoriously wild weather — boiling water may sometimes turn to snow in minus-30-degree air, and wind speeds at the summit have reached well over 200 mph. You can take a guided tour to the 6,288-foot summit or take a ride up to the treeline with SnowCoach tours.
Located near the southernmost point of New Jersey, the Cape May Lighthouse has marked the entrance to Delaware Bay and the port of Philadelphia since 1859. Since the lighthouse opened to the public in 1988, more than 2 million people have climbed the 199 steps to the top of this New Jersey landmark.
New Mexico’s Carlsbad Caverns includes more than 100 caves full of wonder. Cave tours will take you into caverns with enchanting stalactites and through deserts and wetlands crawling with all kinds of creatures.
Perhaps the most iconic American landmark, the Statue of Liberty has welcomed millions of immigrants to New York Harbor from 1886 to now. She still stands as a beautiful reminder to everyone who visits her that America has always welcomed the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
The Wright Brothers Memorial in Kill Devil Hills commemorates the first successful airplane flight, which took place here in 1903. Located on a windy coastal island, the large memorial stone is accompanied by many smaller statues of the first airplane and various stone markers.
Frontier Village is home to the world’s largest buffalo statue, and an incredible re-creation of a North Dakota frontier village filled with antiques and artifacts. Visitors are also sometimes able to see live buffalo walking around the site.
Located in downtown Cincinnati, this American landmark is one of America’s most important spaces. The Underground Railroad & Freedom Center’s goal is to “reveal stories of freedom’s heroes, from the era of the Underground Railroad to contemporary times, challenging and inspiring everyone to take courageous steps of freedom today.”
Robbers Cave — formerly known as Latimer State Park, is famous for sheltering Jesse James, Belle Starr, the Dalton Gang, the Rufus Buck Gang, and other fugitives hiding from the law. It is currently a hot spot for camping and outdoor activities.
This vintage railroad line was first built in 1906 and spans from Hood River to Parkdale, Oregon. This Oregon landmark offers narrated historic excursion train tours that offer stunning views of Mount Hood, Mount Adams, and surrounding orchards and farmland.
An iconic symbol of freedom, the Liberty Bell resides in Philadelphia in the steeple of Independence Hall, where the Continental Congress made the decision to declare independence from Great Britain. Fun fact: On the Liberty Bell, Pennsylvania is misspelled “Pensylvania.”
Rhode Island’s elegant Newport Mansions have been preserved by the Preservation Society of Newport County to “exemplify three centuries of the finest achievements in American architecture, decorative arts, and landscape design spanning the Colonial era to the Gilded Age.”
This federal fort in Charleston Harbor is where the Civil War began when Confederate militia attacked the U.S. garrison. Accessible only by boat, it is currently open for tours.
When you think South Dakota, you definitely think Mount Rushmore. This iconic mountainside sculpture depicts the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.
The biggest names in country music history have played the Grand Ole Opry. Not only a Nashville icon, but an American one, this stage has been called the “home of American music” and has seen stars from Red Foley to Minnie Pearl to Carrie Underwood.
Located in San Antonio, the Alamo (originally known as Misión San Antonio de Valero) is now a shrine to the most legendary battle in Texas’ war for independence from Mexico.
Originally built for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games, Olympic Park is an almost 400-acre venue featuring Olympic sized facilities that still serves as a training center for Olympic athletes today.
The Shelburne Museum contains over 150,000 works in 39 different buildings. The museum displays Impressionist paintings, folk art, quilts, textiles, decorative arts, furniture, American paintings, and artifacts.
Colonial Williamsburg is the world’s largest living history museum and offers its guests a chance to see what life was like in America during the eighteenth century through reconstructed buildings reenactments by historical actors.
The Space Needle is an iconic part of the Seattle skyline built for the 1962 World’s Fair. It can be seen in films and shows like Frasier, Grey’s Anatomy, and Sleepless in Seattle.
Discovered in 1942, the Lost World Caverns are home to some of America’s largest collections of stalactites and stalagmites. In 1971, Bob Addis set a world record for “stalagmite sitting” by staying atop a formation called the “War Club” for nearly 16 days.
If you grew up in the Midwest, then you’ve more than likely vacationed in the Wisconsin Dells, a scenic gorge on the Wisconsin River. The town of Wisconsin Dells is a popular tourist destination and the “Waterpark Capital of the World”!
Majestic Yellowstone National Park takes up around 3,500 square miles, mainly in Wyoming. The wilderness area sits atop a volcanic hotspot and is home to fascinating geothermal features, including the most famous American geyser, Old Faithful.