The most-visited tourist attraction in every state
The most-visited tourist attraction in every state
America is an expansive, diverse country with amazing spots in each state for every type of traveler. Whether you're a foodie, an outdoor adventurer or a history buff, each state's most visited destination could be your next dream vacation destination. These popular museums, monuments, national parks and colorful neighborhoods attract visitors from around the country and the world and often represent the history and culture of their home state. Here are the most-visited tourist attractions in every state, from Alabama to Wyoming.
Alabama: US Space & Rocket Center (Huntsville)
Americans are as fascinated with space as ever, helping to make the U.S. Space & Rocket Center the top attraction in the state of Alabama. Almost 850,000 people visited the Huntsville site in 2018, edging out other attractions like the Birmingham Zoo and the Huntsville Botanical Garden.
Alaska: Denali National Park
More than half a million people every year from 2013 to 2018 have gone to Denali National Park to experience Alaska's pristine mountain landscapes and diverse wildlife. Denali is a must-visit destination for animal-lovers as well as hikers and rock climbers. Denali is one of the world's Seven Summits for mountain climbers, but visitors can also take in the mountain's majesty from a sightseeing plane or by driving down Denali Park Road.
Arizona: Grand Canyon National Park
One of the most visited national parks and landmarks in the country is the Grand Canyon. More than 6 million people visited this breathtaking natural wonder in 2018. The Grand Canyon is a must-visit destination on its own but can also be a stop along a quintessential American road trip along Route 66.
Arkansas: Hot Springs National Park
Arkansas's state nickname is "The Natural State," and many tourists come here to experience the state's natural beauty by camping, hiking and mountain biking. Hot Springs National Park is especially popular, with more than 1.5 million people visiting every year from 2016 to 2018. Located near the charming, historic city of Hot Springs, this national park has 47 namesake hot springs located in close proximity.
California: Disneyland Park at Disneyland Resort (Anaheim)
Disneyland in California is the most Instagrammed place in the world, so it's no wonder it's the most frequented tourist destination in the Golden State. More than 18 million people visited Disneyland in 2018. Though they have some similarities, Disneyland and Walt Disney World are completely different places that are both worth visiting.
Colorado: Rocky Mountain National Park
Colorado is known for its stunning mountain vistas. It's home to Pikes Peak, the most visited mountain peak in North America and the second-most visited in the world behind Japan's Mt. Fuji. But why visit just one majestic must-see mountain when you can visit a national park full of peaks? Since 2015, more than 4 million people have visited Rocky Mountain National Park every year, making it one of the most popular national parks in the country.
Connecticut: Mystic Seaport Museum (Mystic)
Mystic is the prettiest town in Connecticut and draws visitors from across the country with its scenic marinas, museums, shopping and aquarium. The village's biggest attraction is the Mystic Seaport Museum. It includes a recreated New England coastal village and more than 500 historic watercraft, including America's oldest commercial ship still in existence from 1841. The museum had almost 300,000 visitors in 2018.
LEE SNIDER PHOTO IMAGES/Shutterstock
Delaware: Rehoboth Boardwalk (Rehoboth Beach)
Rehoboth Beach is a quaint seaside town that's most popular during the summer but offers excitement year-round. For instance, in the fall, Rehoboth Beach hosts a spooky Sea Witch Festival that makes it a top destination for a fall day trip. While the resort town's outlet shopping and the nearby beach draw in lots of people, the most bustling tourist spot in town is the 1-mile boardwalk that runs between downtown and the beach. More than 3.5 million people flock to downtown Rehoboth Beach each year.
Florida: Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World (Orlando)
The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida is not only the most visited tourist destination in the state but also the most visited theme park in the world. More than 20 million people visited the Magic Kingdom in 2018, far outpacing every other park in Walt Disney World. Magic Kingdom is home to the iconic Cinderella Castle as well as some of the best attractions at Walt Disney World.
Atlanta's Centennial Park District is home to many family-friendly attractions including the World of Coca-Cola and the College Football Hall of Fame, but the massive Georgia Aquarium drew in 2.5 million guests in 2018. The Georgia Aquarium is the largest aquarium in the Western Hemisphere and one of the largest aquariums in the world with thousands of animals from 500 species from around the world.
Hawaii: Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial (Honolulu)
Dec. 7, 1941, is a date which will live in infamy. That's the date of Japan's attack on the military base at Pearl Harbor. Today, Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial are the top visitor destination in Hawaii. Operated by the National Park Service, this somber site in the Hawaiian capital city of Honolulu has attracted well over a million visitors annually since the 1980s.
Idaho: Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is located in central Idaho but feels like stepping into another world. This surreal landscape, which was created by volcanic activity over millions of years, attracts more than 250,000 visitors annually since 2016.
Illinois: Millennium Park (Chicago)
One of the safest tourist destinations in the world, Chicago is home to many attractions from Navy Pier to Willis Tower, but the most popular spot in Chicago and in all of Illinois for tourists to stop by is Millenium Park. This downtown park is famous for its Cloud Gate sculpture, affectionately nicknamed "The Bean." An estimated 25 million people a year visit the park to admire The Bean's curved stainless-steel surface reflecting the city's iconic skyline.
iStock.com/Gian Lorenzo Ferretti Photography
Indiana: Indiana Dunes National Park (Indianapolis)
Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a National Historic Landmark and can draw big crowds to its museum even when it's not race day. But since the '70s, almost 2 million people a year head to Indiana Dunes National Park to enjoy some peace and quiet along 15 miles of the southern shore of Lake Michigan.
Iowa: Field of Dreams (Dyersville)
There are many exciting Hollywood movie locations you can visit, but one of the most surreal and magical for sports fans is the field and home featured in the Kevin Costner baseball movie "Field of Dreams." The real-life Field of Dreams welcomes over 115,000 visitors annually, including former major league players for an annual Team of Dreams celebrity game. The field will host an official Major League Baseball game for the first time in 2020 when the Chicago White Sox face the New York Yankees.
Sedgwick County Zoo is the state of Kansas' most-visited outdoor attraction, bringing in 600,000 annual visitors. This zoo is home to 3,000 individual animals representing nearly 400 species. A 25-year expansion plan that would add an aquarium, water park, event center and hotel to the area is currently in the works.
Kentucky: Cumberland Falls State Park (Corbin)
Nicknamed the "Niagara of the South," Cumberland Falls attracts more than a million visitors a year. The park's namesake falls form a 125-foot-wide curtain of water that drops 60 feet. While this majestic waterfall is stunning during the daytime, Cumberland Falls is famous for its special nighttime display. During a full moon, the light from above creates a "moonbow," a rainbow made with moonlight. This phenomenon is not found anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere.
Louisiana: French Quarter (New Orleans)
A 2015 study estimated that more than 95% of visitors to New Orleans stop by the French Quarter. In 2018, the city welcomed 20 million visitors. The emblematic neighborhood whose atmosphere captures the unique history of the city includes St. Louis Cathedral, Bourbon Street and Cafe du Monde, the best dessert shop in the state.
Maine: Acadia National Park
Starting in 2016, Acadia National Park in Maine began welcoming a whopping 3 million visitors a year, with a record 3.5 million people taking in the park's natural beauty by 2018. The park, which celebrated its 100-year anniversary in 2016, is home to Cadillac Mountain. It's the highest peak on the Eastern Seaboard as well as the first sight of sunrise in the continental United States, making it one of the best places in the world to watch the sun rise.
Maryland: National Aquarium (Baltimore)
Since it opened in 1981, the National Aquarium has become not only Baltimore's but also Maryland's top tourist destination, welcoming more than 1.3 million visitors each year. About two-thirds of its visitors come from outside the state to see close to 20,000 animals from frogs to sharks to dolphins and explore this underrated American city.
Massachusetts: Faneuil Hall Marketplace (Boston)
Located in the heart of downtown Boston, Faneuil Hall Marketplace includes historic Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, North Market and South Market. Altogether, this Boston hub attracts more than 18 million visitors annually to shop, eat and explore America's first open marketplace.
Michigan: The Henry Ford (Dearborn)
Michigan is known for its automotive industry, and the best place to learn about the past, present and future of American cars is at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan. This campus welcomes more than 1.8 million visitors annually who visit both the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation and the Ford Rouge Factory Tour.
Many people wouldn't consider a shopping mall to be a tourist destination, but the Mall of America is unlike any other shopping mall in the country. One of Minnesota's most famous destinations, the Mall of America welcomes 40 million visitors per year. That's more than Walt Disney World. The mall has more than 500 stores as well as Nickelodeon Universe, the nation's largest indoor amusement park, and other attractions such as miniature golf and an aquarium.
Mississippi: Vicksburg National Military Park
Almost half a million people a year visit Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi, the site of the infamous American Civil War Battle of Vicksburg. Take a tour of the park with a Licensed Battlefield Guide or enjoy amazing views of the military park by running in the annual Vicksburg Run Thru History road race.
Missouri: Gateway Arch (St. Louis)
One of the most iconic landmarks not just in the Midwest but in the United States is the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. Completed in 1965, this 630-foot-tall stainless steel structure is the tallest monument in the country. On a clear day, you can see 30 miles away from the observation deck. Annual attendance at the Arch was about 2.5 million before it received a $380 million facelift in 2018.
Montana: Glacier National Park
Every year, about 3 million tourists pass through Glacier National Park. Here, visitors can hike over 700 miles of trails passing by alpine meadows dotted with flowers, rugged mountain landscapes and stunning blue lakes. Glacier is also home to one of the most scenic drives in America, Going-to-the-Sun Road.
Nebraska: Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium (Omaha)
The Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha outpaces Nebraska's other tourist attractions with more than 2 million visitors per year. The zoo, one of the best in the country, welcomed both its 25 millionth member and 50 millionth visitor in 2018. That same year, the zoo also welcomed Silas, an adorable male baby pygmy hippopotamus who is a member of an endangered species.
While Nevada's natural beauty encourages 7.5 million people per year to visit the state's top national park, Lake Mead, the glitz and glam of Las Vegas is too much of a draw for tourists to resist. More than 42 million people visit Sin City every year, with the majority staying on the Strip, which includes all the properties on or near Las Vegas Boulevard. While taking in the sights and sounds of the luxury hotels, Vegas visitors spend $6.5 billion per year on gambling on the Strip.
New Hampshire: Kancamagus Highway
New Hampshire's Kancamagus Highway, affectionately known as "The Kanc," is one of the best spots in New England to see fall colors. This 34.5-mile scenic drive has been designated as an American Scenic Byway and has hiking trails and camping grounds along the way.
New Jersey: Atlantic City Boardwalk (Atlantic City)
Atlantic City is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States. This seaside city welcomes more than 27 million visitors a year who flock to the casinos, beach and historic boardwalk. The first boardwalk built in the United States, the Boardwalk was constructed back in 1870. Over the years, the Boardwalk has been repaired and reconstructed but maintained its vintage charm.
New Mexico: White Sands National Park
Formerly White Sands National Monument, this area was redesignated as White Sands National Park in December 2019. More than 600,000 people visit this New Mexico natural wonder each year. The dunefield's glistening white color comes from gypsum, a mineral found in the nearby mountains that is washed away by erosion from rain and snow and then left behind after water evaporates.
New York: Times Square (New York City)
Perhaps the most bustling city center in the country, Times Square in New York City sees nearly 380,000 pedestrians enter the five-block "bowtie" plaza every day, which equals more than 138 million people per year. Times Square is home to massive stores and hosts the annual New Year's Eve ball drop, but many visitors pass through simply to marvel at the massive, colorful advertisements and neon lights.
North Carolina: Biltmore Estate (Asheville)
The Biltmore Estate is a magnificent mansion that is the largest privately owned house in the country. This French chateau-style home with 250 rooms and the surrounding 8,000-acre estate attracts about 1.4 million visitors annually. Biltmore's Winery is also the most-visited winery in the United States.
One of the most underrated parks in America, North Dakota's Theodore Roosevelt National Park offers breathtaking views of the Badlands via scenic drives and miles of hiking trails. Visitors can also go horseback riding in the backcountry or cross-country skiing or snowshoeing in the winter. The park receives about 600,000 visitors each year.
Ohio: Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (Cleveland)
Cleveland beat out New York City; San Francisco; Memphis, Tennessee; and Chicago to be the home of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. In 2019, 580,000 visitors passed through the museum, the largest annual crowd it's seen since opening in 1995. More than 2,000 artists also stopped by the Hall, including Lars Ulrich of Metallica, Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson of Rush, Billie Eilish, Christopher Cross and more.
Oklahoma: National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum (Oklahoma City)
Though the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum has welcomed millions of visitors since it opened in 2000, a museum celebrating Oklahoma's history is the biggest tourist draw in the state. The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum has had more than 10 million visitors since it was founded in 1955. Its collections commemorate cowboys, rodeos and Native American culture through exhibits on paintings, ceramics, Hollywood Westerns and more.
Located in Oregon's Columbia River Gorge, Multnomah Falls is the most-visited natural recreation site in the Pacific Northwest with more than 2 million visitors a year. Hike across the historic Benson Bridge to the viewing platform at the top of the 620-foot falls or simply admire them from below.
Pennsylvania: Independence National Historical Park (Philadelphia)
Philadelphia's Independence National Historical Park is comprised of more than a dozen buildings that played a significant role in American history, including Independence Hall, where both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were debated and adopted. Independence National Historical Park is just one of the reasons why Philadelphia is a city that you should visit before you turn 50.
Rhode Island: Newport Mansions (Newport)
Rhode Island's historic Newport Mansions include many of the most visited historic house museums in the country, including The Breakers, one of America's finest surviving Gilded Age mansions. The Preservation Society of Newport Country hosts an average of 1 million tours annually of the Newport Mansions.
South Carolina: Ripley's Aquarium (Myrtle Beach)
Myrtle Beach is a popular coastal resort town in South Carolina that makes for a romantic adventure as well as a great family getaway. The most visited attraction in not just Myrtle Beach but also the whole Palmetto State is Ripley's Aquarium, which allows visitors to get up close and personal with fascinating marine life such as stingrays and jellyfish. Ripley's Aquarium is part of the Broadway at the Beach shopping center, which altogether attracts 13 million visitors annually.
Sherry V Smith/Shutterstock
South Dakota: Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore, a massive series of sculptures carved into the granite of the Black Hills, was completed in 1941 to help drive tourism to South Dakota. About 2.3 million people from around the world visited Mount Rushmore in 2018 with the majority of tourists coming to see this historic monument during the summer months at an average of 5,000 people a day.
Tennessee: Graceland (Memphis)
Elvis Presley's former home, Graceland, in Memphis, Tennessee, gets more than 600,000 visitors a year, making it the second-most visited house museum in America. This impressive mansion opened to the public in 1982 and more than 20 million people from more than 140 countries have visited to pay their respects to the King of Rock 'n' Roll. Graceland is on the National Register of Historic Places and has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
The first restaurant opened on the San Antonio River Walk in 1946, and since then, this scenic 15-mile stretch connecting downtown to the city's historic Spanish missions has been the most visited tourist destination in Texas. After visiting the Alamo, a must-see for history lovers, enjoy a stroll along this bustling urban park, which attracts 11.5 million people each year, with 9.3 million of these visitors being tourists.
Utah: Temple Square (Salt Lake City)
While Utah is home to stunning landscapes in popular national parks like Zion and Bryce Canyon, the most visited spot in the state is Temple Square in Salt Lake City. Located in the center of downtown, Temple Square is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This area includes the world's largest Mormon temple, the Gothic, 210-foot-tall Salt Lake Temple. It is estimated that up to 5 million people visit each year, more than all five of the state's national parks combined.
Vermont: Ben & Jerry's Factory (Waterbury)
America loves its ice cream, which is evidenced by the fact that the factory for homegrown brand Ben & Jerry's is the top tourist destination in all of Vermont. About 400,000 visitors per year flock to the factory in Waterbury, which is open every day of the year except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day for guided tours, which of course include samplings of some iconic ice cream flavors.
A location that looks like it's stuck in time, Colonial Williamsburg attracts almost 2 million visitors a year to its historic area with more than half a million people buying tickets to go inside Colonial Williamsburg. You do not need a ticket to walk around the historic area, which includes 18th-century historic homes, businesses and government buildings, but tickets are required to enter buildings and experience programming.
Washington: Pike Place Market (Seattle)
Up to 10 million visitors annually - between 20,000 and 40,000 a day - flock to this Seattle landmark that has been open since 1907. Full of shops, restaurants, bars and boutiques, Pike Place is also where one of the first Starbucks opened in 1975.
Washington, DC: Union Station
Washington, D.C., makes for the perfect vacation destination for history buffs, families and more because of its wide array of attractions, museums and more. While visitors flock to famous sights like the Lincoln Memorial, which attracted almost 8 million people in 2018, D.C.'s most bustling destination combines history, shopping and transportation. Union Station sees 40 million visitors each year, which is more than 100,000 people per day, including 8 million tourists alone.
West Virginia: Harpers Ferry National Historical Park (Harpers Ferry)
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is located near where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers meet in West Virginia. This has been the site of multiple historical events, including the largest surrender of Federal troops during the Civil War and one of the earliest integrated schools in the U.S. West Virginia's most visited attraction, more than 250,000 people toured the site in 2018.
Known simply as The Dells, this area in Wisconsin boasts the largest concentration of waterparks in the world, including America's largest outdoor waterpark and the largest indoor/outdoor combination water park. It also has the state's largest indoor waterpark, making it a family-friendly vacation destination year-round. Though the Dells area has only about 6,000 permanent residents, it hosts more than 4 million visitors annually.
Wyoming: Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone is one of the most famous and breathtaking national parks in the United States. Its iconic landmarks attracted about 4 million visitors per year, with more than 183 million people in total visiting since the park was established in 1872. About 96% of Yellowstone is located in Wyoming, which is also home to some of America's best inexpensive steakhouses.
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