What Is the Difference Between a Tourist Attraction and a Destination?

By Anna Duncan

tourist destination and tourist attraction

When planning a vacation, one of the most important decisions is deciding on a destination. It is important to distinguish between tourist attractions and destinations. Although they may seem similar, there are distinct differences between them.

Tourist Attractions are places that draw visitors from around the globe. They often have an iconic feature that makes them popular and recognizable.

Examples of tourist attractions include the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Great Wall of China, and Niagara Falls in Canada. These attractions can be large or small, but they all have something special that draws people to visit.

Destinations differ from tourist attractions in that they usually offer more than just a single attraction or activity. Destinations offer many activities, sights, and experiences for travelers to enjoy during their stay. Examples of destinations include cities such as New York City or London, countries such as Italy or Mexico, and even entire regions such as the Caribbean or South America.


The difference between a tourist attraction and a destination is clear; while both may draw visitors from around the world, tourist attractions are typically single icons that are recognizable across cultures, while destinations provide multiple activities and experiences for travelers to enjoy during their stay.

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What Is A Tourist Destination

Published: November 19, 2023

Modified: December 28, 2023

by Euphemia Polson

  • Sustainability



Welcome to the world of travel and exploration! As humans, we have an innate desire to discover new places, experience different cultures, and create lifelong memories. And what better way to satisfy this wanderlust than by visiting tourist destinations around the world?

A tourist destination can be defined as a location that attracts visitors from near and far due to its unique features, cultural heritage, natural beauty, or recreational opportunities. These destinations play a significant role in the tourism industry, contributing to economic growth, job creation, and cultural exchange.

One of the defining characteristics of a tourist destination is its ability to offer a wide range of activities and attractions to cater to various interests and preferences. Whether you crave adrenaline-pumping adventures, serene nature escapes, historical landmarks, or vibrant cultural experiences, there is a destination out there that can fulfill your desires.

Another essential aspect of a tourist destination is its accessibility. It needs to have proper infrastructure, transportation options, accommodation facilities, and amenities to ensure that travelers can enjoy a comfortable and hassle-free experience. Whether it’s exploring a bustling metropolis, relaxing on a pristine beach, or embarking on a wilderness adventure, accessibility is key to attracting and satisfying visitors.

Furthermore, a tourist destination is often characterized by its cultural and historical significance. It may be home to ancient ruins, architectural marvels, traditional festivals, or museums that offer insights into the local heritage and traditions. These cultural attractions not only educate and entertain travelers but also play a vital role in preserving and promoting the destination’s identity.

Moreover, a tourist destination is not just about the physical attractions; it’s also about the overall experience. The hospitality and friendliness of the local people, the quality of services, and the availability of dining, shopping, and entertainment options all contribute to creating a memorable stay for tourists.

Definition and Characteristics of a Tourist Destination

A tourist destination can be described as a place that attracts tourists and visitors due to its unique features, attractions, and offerings. It is a location that people intentionally travel to, seeking experiences, relaxation, adventure, or cultural enrichment.

There are several key characteristics that distinguish a tourist destination:

  • Attractions and Points of Interest: A tourist destination is known for its attractions and points of interest that appeal to a wide range of travelers. These can include natural wonders, historical landmarks, museums, theme parks, iconic landmarks, and cultural sites. These attractions are often the primary reason why people choose to visit a specific destination.
  • Access and Infrastructure: A tourist destination must have the necessary infrastructure to accommodate visitors. This includes transportation options such as airports, railways, highways, and public transportation, as well as a range of accommodation options, including hotels, resorts, guesthouses, and vacation rentals. Accessible and well-maintained infrastructure is crucial in ensuring that visitors can easily travel to and within the destination.
  • Hospitality and Services: A memorable tourist destination is known for its hospitality and high-quality services. Friendly and welcoming locals, knowledgeable tour guides, and a range of services such as restaurants, cafes, and shops all contribute to creating a positive experience for tourists.
  • Cultural and Historical Significance: Many tourist destinations have a rich cultural and historical heritage that attracts visitors. These destinations may showcase local traditions, festivals, traditional arts and crafts, architecture, and archaeological sites. Visitors are often interested in immersing themselves in the local culture, learning about the history of the place, and experiencing unique traditions.
  • Recreational and Leisure Activities: Tourist destinations often offer a variety of recreational and leisure activities to cater to visitors of all preferences. These can include adventure sports, water activities, hiking and trekking trails, wildlife spotting, spa and wellness options, and shopping experiences. This ensures that tourists have ample opportunities to relax, have fun, and make the most of their time in the destination.

It is important to note that a tourist destination is not solely defined by its physical attributes, but also by the experiences and memories it provides to its visitors. The combination of attractions, accessibility, hospitality, cultural significance, and recreational offerings makes a destination desirable and memorable for tourists.

Factors Influencing the Choice of a Tourist Destination

The decision to choose a specific tourist destination is influenced by a variety of factors that differ from one individual to another. People have unique preferences, interests, and motivations when it comes to travel. Let’s explore some of the key factors that shape the choice of a tourist destination:

  • Personal Interests and Hobbies: Individuals are drawn to destinations that align with their personal interests and hobbies. Some may be nature enthusiasts and seek destinations that offer hiking trails and wildlife encounters, while others may have a preference for historical sites, art galleries, or culinary experiences. Factors such as outdoor activities, cultural offerings, or opportunities for relaxation influence the destination choice.
  • Recommendations and Word-of-Mouth: Personal recommendations from friends, family, or trusted sources play a significant role in destination selection. Positive reviews, word-of-mouth recommendations, or seeing enticing photos and experiences shared by others on social media can inspire individuals to choose a particular destination. The power of storytelling and firsthand experiences can greatly impact the decision-making process.
  • Budget and Affordability: Financial considerations are crucial when choosing a tourist destination. The cost of travel, accommodation, meals, and activities all factor into the decision. Some individuals may opt for budget-friendly destinations, while others may be willing to splurge on a luxury experience. The availability of affordable flights, deals on accommodations, and a range of cost-effective activities can sway someone’s choice.
  • Accessibility: The ease of reaching a destination is another vital factor. The proximity of a place, availability of direct flights, accessibility of transportation within the destination, and the overall travel time influence the decision. Some individuals may prioritize quick and convenient travel, while others may be willing to embark on long-haul journeys for a more unique and exotic experience.
  • Season and Weather: The time of year and climate can have a significant impact on destination selection. Some prefer warm beach destinations during winter, while others seek cooler destinations for outdoor activities during summer. Weather considerations, such as avoiding hurricane seasons or extreme temperatures, play a role in decision-making.
  • Safety and Security: The safety and security of a destination are of utmost importance to travelers. Political stability, crime rates, health risks, and natural disasters all influence the perceived safety of a place. Individuals are more likely to choose destinations that are perceived as safe and secure.
  • Cultural and Historical Significance: Many individuals are drawn to destinations that offer rich cultural and historical experiences. The opportunity to explore ancient ruins, visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites, learn about local traditions, and immerse oneself in the local culture can be a compelling factor in destination selection.
  • Special Events and Festivals: The presence of special events, festivals, or celebrations can greatly influence the choice of a destination. People may specifically plan their travel to coincide with popular events, cultural festivals, or sporting activities to get a unique and immersive experience.

It is important to note that each individual’s motivations and priorities may vary, and a combination of these factors ultimately determines the choice of a tourist destination. Understanding these influencing factors can help tourism operators and destination marketers tailor their offerings to attract and cater to the preferences and interests of potential visitors.

Popular Tourist Destinations Around the World

When it comes to popular tourist destinations, the world is filled with an incredible array of breathtaking and culturally-rich places that attract millions of visitors each year. Let’s explore some of the most renowned and sought-after destinations around the globe:

  • Paris, France: Known as the “City of Love,” Paris captivates travelers with its romantic ambiance, iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Louvre Museum, charming streets, and world-class cuisine.
  • Barcelona, Spain: This vibrant city on the Mediterranean coast boasts a unique blend of Gothic and modernist architecture, stunning beaches, a dynamic food scene, and a pulsating nightlife.
  • Bali, Indonesia: With its picturesque landscapes, pristine beaches, lush rice terraces, vibrant Hindu culture, and warm hospitality, Bali offers a tropical paradise for nature lovers, adventurers, and spiritual seekers.
  • New York City, USA: The Big Apple is a melting pot of cultures, famous for its skyscrapers, iconic landmarks such as Times Square and Central Park, Broadway shows, world-class museums, and diverse culinary scene.
  • Tokyo, Japan: This bustling metropolis seamlessly blends ultra-modern technology, ancient traditions, and a unique cultural experience. Visitors can explore historic shrines, enjoy vibrant street markets, and indulge in delicious sushi.
  • Rome, Italy: As the eternal city, Rome showcases ancient history through its iconic landmarks like the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Vatican City. The city is also famous for its delicious cuisine and vibrant piazzas.
  • Cape Town, South Africa: Nestled between mountains and the sea, Cape Town offers stunning natural beauty, including Table Mountain and nearby vineyards, as well as cultural diversity, wildlife encounters, and beautiful beaches.
  • Sydney, Australia: With its iconic Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, and beautiful coastline, Sydney is a vibrant city known for its outdoor lifestyle, stunning beaches, and thriving arts scene.
  • Machu Picchu, Peru: This ancient Incan city perched high in the Andes mountains is a bucket-list destination. Visitors can hike the Inca Trail to witness the breathtaking ruins and panoramic views.
  • Santorini, Greece: The mesmerizing beauty of Santorini’s white-washed buildings, blue-domed churches, and stunning sunsets make it a top destination for romance-seekers, photographers, and those in search of relaxation.

These are just a few examples of the countless popular tourist destinations around the world. Each destination offers unique experiences, breathtaking landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and the opportunity to create unforgettable memories. Whether you’re a history buff, nature enthusiast, food lover, or adventure seeker, there’s a perfect destination waiting to be explored.

Sustainable Tourism and Its Implications for Tourist Destinations

In recent years, sustainable tourism has gained significant attention as an important aspect of travel. It focuses on minimizing the negative impacts of tourism on the environment, culture, and local communities, while maximizing the positive contributions to the destination. Let’s explore the implications of sustainable tourism for tourist destinations:

1. Environmental Conservation: Sustainable tourism promotes the preservation and conservation of natural resources and ecosystems. It encourages responsible practices such as minimizing waste, conserving energy, reducing carbon emissions, protecting wildlife, and promoting sustainable transportation options. By preserving the environment, tourist destinations can maintain their natural beauty and appeal for future generations.

2. Community Engagement and Support: Sustainable tourism fosters community involvement and benefits local residents. It emphasizes the importance of engaging with local communities, respecting their culture and traditions, and supporting local businesses. This can lead to economic development, job creation, and a stronger sense of pride and ownership among the residents. By involving the community, tourist destinations can ensure that tourism becomes a positive force for the local population.

3. Cultural Preservation and Respect: Sustainable tourism values and respects the cultural heritage of a destination. It encourages visitors to learn about and appreciate local customs, traditions, and practices. This can result in the preservation of cultural identities, the appreciation of diverse cultures, and the protection of historical landmarks and artifacts. By maintaining and celebrating their cultural heritage, destinations can provide unique and authentic experiences for tourists.

4. Economic Stability: Sustainable tourism aims to distribute economic benefits more evenly and reduce dependence on a single industry. It promotes tourism that benefits local businesses, artisans, and entrepreneurs. By supporting a diverse range of enterprises, tourist destinations can create a more resilient and stable economy that is less susceptible to economic downturns or fluctuations in visitor numbers.

5. Responsible Tourism Practices: Sustainable tourism encourages responsible behavior from both tourists and industry operators. It promotes mindful travel choices, such as choosing eco-friendly accommodations, respecting local customs, supporting ethical wildlife encounters, and engaging in sustainable activities. By adopting responsible practices, tourist destinations can mitigate negative impacts, minimize over-tourism, and create a more sustainable and balanced tourism model.

Overall, embracing sustainable tourism practices can have profound implications for tourist destinations. It can ensure the long-term viability and attractiveness of a destination, protect its natural and cultural resources, empower local communities, and provide a more enriching and authentic travel experience for visitors. By prioritizing sustainability, tourist destinations can lay the foundation for a more responsible and resilient tourism industry.

Challenges Faced by Tourist Destinations

While tourist destinations offer unique experiences and opportunities, they also face numerous challenges that need to be addressed for sustainable growth and development. Let’s explore some of the key challenges faced by tourist destinations:

1. Overcrowding and Overtourism: One of the biggest challenges faced by popular tourist destinations is the issue of overcrowding and overtourism. When a destination becomes too popular, it can lead to overcrowded attractions, strain on infrastructure, increased waste generation, and a degradation of the natural and cultural resources. This can have negative consequences for both the destination and the visitor experience.

2. Environmental Degradation: The influx of tourists can put significant pressure on the environment. This can manifest in various forms, including increased pollution, damage to ecosystems, habitat destruction, and the loss of biodiversity. The uncontrolled development of hotels, resorts, and other tourist facilities can also contribute to the degradation of natural landscapes and sensitive ecosystems.

3. Cultural Dilution and Authenticity: As tourism grows, there is a risk of cultural dilution and the loss of authenticity in tourist destinations. The commodification of traditions, the proliferation of souvenir shops selling mass-produced goods, and the homogenization of local cuisines can erode the uniqueness and authenticity that attracted visitors in the first place. Preserving and promoting local cultures and traditions in the face of tourism development is a constant challenge.

4. Seasonality and Economic Vulnerability: Many tourist destinations are highly dependent on seasonal tourism, which can lead to economic vulnerability during the offseason. Businesses and local communities may struggle to maintain a steady income and face financial hardships during periods of low visitor numbers. Diversifying the tourism product and promoting year-round attractions and activities can help mitigate this challenge.

5. Infrastructure and Resource Management: Inadequate infrastructure and resource management can hinder the development of tourist destinations. Insufficient transportation systems, a lack of waste management infrastructure, inadequate water and energy resources, and limited healthcare facilities can impact the overall visitor experience and the destination’s ability to accommodate increasing tourist numbers sustainably.

6. Balancing Tourism and Local Life: Balancing the needs and interests of both tourists and local residents is a constant challenge for tourist destinations. Tourism can bring economic benefits, but it can also disrupt the daily life and social fabric of communities. Striking a balance between preserving local traditions, maintaining a high quality of life for residents, and providing satisfying experiences for tourists is a complex challenge that requires careful planning and stakeholder involvement.

Addressing these challenges is crucial to ensure the long-term sustainability and success of tourist destinations. Implementing effective policies, involving local communities, promoting responsible tourism practices, and adopting sustainable development strategies can help overcome these challenges and create a harmonious and mutually beneficial relationship between tourism and destinations.

Future Trends in Tourist Destinations

The tourism industry is constantly evolving, driven by changing consumer preferences, advancements in technology, and global trends. Let’s explore some of the future trends that are expected to shape tourist destinations:

1. Sustainable and Responsible Tourism: The focus on sustainability and responsible tourism will continue to grow. Travelers are becoming more conscious of their environmental and social impact, and they seek destinations that prioritize sustainable practices, eco-friendly accommodations, and authentic cultural experiences. In response, tourist destinations will increasingly adopt sustainable policies, reduce carbon emissions, protect natural resources, engage with local communities, and promote responsible tourism practices.

2. Technology Integration: Technology will play a significant role in shaping future tourist destinations. Advancements in artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality, and mobile applications will enhance the visitor experience. Travelers can expect personalized recommendations, immersive virtual tours, real-time translations, and seamless online booking systems. Destinations will also utilize data analytics to better understand tourist behavior and preferences, allowing for targeted marketing and tailored experiences.

3. Wellness Tourism: With increasing awareness of mental and physical well-being, wellness tourism is expected to grow significantly. Tourist destinations will respond by providing a range of wellness offerings, including spa retreats, meditation centers, yoga classes, and eco-friendly wellness resorts. Nature-based activities such as forest bathing, hiking, and wildlife encounters will also be integrated into wellness tourism experiences.

4. Cultural Experiences and Immersion: Authentic cultural experiences will continue to be in high demand. Tourist destinations will focus on preserving and promoting their cultural heritage, offering visitors opportunities to engage with local traditions, customs, and arts. This can include immersive workshops, cultural festivals, culinary trails, and interactions with local artisans. Destinations will work towards maintaining the authenticity of their cultural experiences while ensuring respect and fair representation of local communities.

4. Off-the-Beaten-Path Destinations: Travelers are increasingly seeking unique and less-visited destinations, moving away from traditional tourist hotspots. They crave authentic experiences and the opportunity to explore lesser-known destinations, supporting local economies and reducing overcrowding in popular tourist areas. As a result, off-the-beaten-path destinations will gain attention and investment, offering distinct attractions, hidden gems, and immersive cultural encounters.

5. Sustainable Infrastructure Development: Building sustainable infrastructure will be a priority for future tourist destinations. Improving transportation networks, enhancing waste management systems, developing eco-friendly accommodation options, and investing in renewable energy sources will be key. Sustainable infrastructure development will not only reduce environmental impact but also enhance the quality of life for local residents and create a more attractive destination for visitors.

As the tourism industry continues to evolve, adapting to these future trends will be crucial for the success and sustainability of tourist destinations. Embracing sustainable practices, leveraging technology, promoting cultural immersion, and catering to the evolving needs of tourists will shape the future of tourism, creating unforgettable experiences while preserving the authenticity and natural beauty of our world’s destinations.

Tourist destinations play a vital role in satisfying our innate curiosity to explore and discover the world. These destinations offer unique attractions, cultural experiences, and opportunities for relaxation and adventure. However, they also face challenges that require careful management and planning for sustainable growth.

Understanding the characteristics of a tourist destination, as well as the factors influencing its choice, allows us to design experiences that cater to diverse interests and preferences. By embracing sustainability, destinations can protect their natural and cultural resources, engage with local communities, and create a positive and authentic experience for visitors.

As we look ahead, future trends in tourist destinations will revolve around sustainability, responsible practices, and technological integration. Travelers are increasingly seeking destinations that prioritize environmental conservation, support local communities, offer wellness experiences, and provide authentic cultural immersion.

It is also important to acknowledge the challenges faced by tourist destinations, such as overcrowding, environmental degradation, and maintaining a balance between tourism and local life. By addressing these challenges through proper planning, infrastructure development, and stakeholder involvement, destinations can ensure a harmonious relationship between tourism and the well-being of its communities.

Ultimately, the future of tourist destinations lies in their ability to adapt and innovate. By embracing sustainable practices, leveraging technology, and focusing on diverse and unique experiences, these destinations can create memorable and meaningful experiences for travelers while preserving their natural and cultural heritage.

So, whether you dream of strolling through the romantic streets of Paris, exploring the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu, or immersing yourself in the vibrant culture of Tokyo, there is a tourist destination waiting to captivate your senses and leave you with lifelong memories.


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The gateway arch

The 20 top tourist attractions in the USA

Discover the top tourist attractions in the USA, from national-park essentials to iconic structures to must-see streets

Photograph: Shutterstock

Scott Snowden

Visiting popular tourist attractions can often mean navigating long lines and crowds—essentially, a lot of work for an experience that sometimes doesn't live up to the hype. While some attractions may be a bust, specific landmarks across the United States are well worth the effort. 

The top tourist attractions in the USA span from coast to coast, including iconic  buildings  like the national monuments in Washington DC, must-stroll neighborhoods  like the French Quarter in New Orleans,  unique landmarks  like the Space Needle in Seattle, or sights within breathtaking national parks .

We have rounded up the top U.S. tourist attractions you should add to your bucket list. In your quest to check them off your list, make a trip out of it and book one of the best hotels in America . And if you’re looking for a bit more travel inspiration, check out the best places to visit in the USA right now.

Been there, done that? Think again, my friend.

Top tourist attractions in the USA

1.  national mall | washington dc.

National Mall | Washington DC

Immaculately maintained by the National Park Service, the National Mall and Memorial Parks feature more than 1,000 acres of must-see monuments, sites and green space. While the Washington Monument towers above all else—quite literally, the city doesn’t zone for buildings taller than the marble icon—the Lincoln Memorial, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial and Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial are just as magnificent. Though it will take a full day (or two) to see the National Mall, set aside some time to peruse through some of  Washington, D.C.’s top museums .

2.  Niagara Falls | New York State

Niagara Falls | New York State

Situated on the border of New York and Canada, the three waterfalls (Horseshoe Falls, American Falls and Bridalveil Falls) have the combined highest flow rate of any waterfall worldwide. Their impressive force is nothing short of awe-worthy. A top tourist destination since the 19th century, the unstoppable beauty and charm of Niagara Falls  make it a memorable and unique landmark. 

3.  The French Quarter | New Orleans, LA

The French Quarter | New Orleans, LA

The oldest corner of New Orleans remains its most charming attraction. Walk down famous Bourbon Street to enjoy jazz, great nightlife and tons of food. While you travel on a streetcar between destinations, pay close attention to the spectacular architecture. And no trip to the French Quarter would be complete without a taste of authentic Cajun grub or a stop to pay your respects in the Cities of the Dead. 

4.  Statue of Liberty | New York City, NY

Statue of Liberty | New York City, NY

Though she may have been born in France, the Statue of Liberty has become synonymous with America and the country’s highest-held values. True, the 151-foot-tall copper monument can be seen up close from aboard the free Staten Island Ferry, but you can also pay your respects in person and even step inside it while on an official tour.

5.  Old Faithful | Yellowstone Park, WY

Old Faithful | Yellowstone Park, WY

A cone geyser found in Yellowstone National Park, Old Faithful is not entirely as predictable as it once was (it won’t erupt precisely every 74 minutes, for example) yet remains as historically exciting. When erupting, the geothermal feature unleashes more than 3,700 gallons of piping hot water. When you’re done marveling at the spectacle, spend at least a full day exploring the rest of the park.

6.  The Strip | Las Vegas, NV

The Strip | Las Vegas, NV

Immortalized in a seemingly endless amount of movies, the Strip’s bright lights, larger-than-life performers and casinos are burned into our collective subconscious. Whether planning on trying your luck at poker or looking to catch a diva’s residency, the Strip is a top destination for all things entertainment and, yes, a bit of debauchery.

7.  Smithsonian Museums | Washington, D.C.

Smithsonian Museums | Washington, D.C.

The Smithsonian Institution is the world's largest museum, education, and research complex. Located in the heart of this nation's capital, you can explore the  National Air & Space Museum , the National Museum Of Natural History, the National Museum of American History, and many more. The best part? It's all free. The latest addition to the museum line-up, which opened in 2016, is the National Museum of African American History and Culture and is a must-visit. 

8.  The Grand Canyon | Arizona

The Grand Canyon | Arizona

So, about five to six million years ago, the Colorado River more or less established its route through the Arizona desert. Glacial erosion, meltwater runoff and the simultaneous counter effect of the land slowly rising—as the weight of the glaciers was reduced—ultimately resulted in one of the most spectacular natural wonders on our modest, little blue-green planet. The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, varies between four and 18 miles wide and has a maximum depth of 6,000 feet. There are hotels and restaurants in key locations, but for the most part, you should visit and marvel at how incredible this world is—you know, before we ruin it.

9.  J. Paul Getty Museum | Los Angeles, CA

J. Paul Getty Museum | Los Angeles, CA

The Getty brings visitors from across the country and around the world to California. The $1 billion facility, designed by internationally renowned architect Richard Meier, features travertine and white-metal pavilions highlighting the complex’s futuristic frame. Inside, find one of the most exciting art collections—including Medieval manuscripts, paintings by Van Gogh and Monet, and modern sculptures.

10.  Kennedy Space Center | Orlando, FL

Kennedy Space Center | Orlando, FL

If you’ve always dreamed of working in outer space, this is your chance to see and touch models of space shuttles, rockets, satellites, tools and mission control rooms. The simulators and explorable modules will make you feel like an actual astronaut—though if you wonder just how much the experience compares to the real deal, you can meet one of those brave scientists in person at the Astronaut Encounter Theater.

11.  Golden Gate Bridge | San Francisco, CA

Golden Gate Bridge | San Francisco, CA

Name a more iconic bridge—we'll wait. There's a reason the Golden Gate Bridge is so famous. With its vibrant international orange color and spanning from San Francisco to the Marin headlines, stands as a symbol of the West. There are countless ways to take in the stunning bridge views: head to a beach (try Baker Beach), head to the new Presidio Tunnel Tops Park, go to a vista overlook, or get up close and personal by crossing the bridge by foot or bike. A trip to San Francisco isn't complete until you get a picture with the Golden Gate in the background.

12.  Little Havana | Miami, FL

Little Havana | Miami, FL

After decades of serving as a home to Cuban exiles, Little Havana has become a must-visit destination in its own right. While out on the town, throw back rum-spiked Caribbean drinks and dance the night away to live rumba and salsa music. The food here is legendary : Cuban sandwiches, Colombian arepas, savory tacos and other Latin American dishes will leave your mouth watering.

13.  Hoover Dam | Nevada

Hoover Dam | Nevada

Perhaps the best example of America’s building prowess in the first half of the 20th century, this dam remains a bewildering feat of engineering and labor. Construction started in 1931 and took five years, 5,000 workers and 3.25 million cubic yards of concrete to complete. Today, you can tour the dam and its power plant to learn more about the facility’s history and unique features.

14.  The Gateway Arch | St. Louis, MO

The Gateway Arch | St. Louis, MO

Not only is St. Louis’s premiere attraction the world’s largest arch, but it is also the tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere. Standing proud at 630ft tall, this metal beauty was built in the mid-20th century as a monument to America’s westward expansion and is meant to signify the connection of the East to the West, honoring the country’s first pioneers. To fully understand this architectural wonder, snag a ticket to the Gateway Arch Tram and ride to the top of the monument.

15.  Mammoth Cave Park | Kentucky

Mammoth Cave Park | Kentucky

With more than 400 miles explored, the world’s longest known cave system (by far) is in Kentucky and it welcomes any visitor not afraid of the dark or the damp. See the dramatic passages lined with geological formations that might inspire your inner explorer during a guided tour by a park ranger. The tours vary in length but they always include historic details about how the cave system was formed and how people and other creatures have interacted with it. After several hours in the caverns, appreciate the beauty of the clear waters and the untouched nature of the area while on a bike ride or canoe adventure.

16.  Space Needle | Seattle, WA

Space Needle | Seattle, WA

Like many famous landmarks, Seattle’s iconic Space Needle was built for the World’s Fair, back in 1962 when the theme was “The Age of Space.” Today, it remains one of the most recognizable and photographed landmarks worldwide for its futuristic design. Standing at 605 feet tall, visitors can take an elevator up to the tower’s saucer-shaped top floor with 360-degree views. Recent renovations resulted in a multi-level viewing experience with floor-to-ceiling glass viewing that will make your stomach drop.

17.  Navy Pier | Chicago, IL

Navy Pier | Chicago, IL

Clearly, one of the Midwest’s most popular destinations, Navy Pier is visited by roughly nine million people each year. From excellent shopping opportunities to eateries and, of course, Lake Michigan, the destination offers something for everyone. The little ones will be delighted by the Chicago Children’s Museum , while grown-ups should head to the award-winning Chicago Shakespeare Theater . 

18.  Alcatraz | San Francisco, CA

Alcatraz | San Francisco, CA

This formidable fortress in the middle of San Francisco Bay was converted from a lighthouse station to a military prison in the 1870s. However, it found genuine acclaim after being upgraded to a maximum security prison in 1934, home to the early 20th century’s most notorious criminals. Today, the tiny island is only accessible to the public via a ferry from Pier 33 Alcatraz Landing. You should plan to spend about three hours soaking up the amazing history and during that time, a self-guided audio cellhouse tour narrated by former inmates and guards will fill you in on harrowing escape attempts, prison riots and the 19-month-long occupation of the site by Native Americans demanding reparation for broken treaties in 1969. 

19.  Venice Beach | Venice, CA

Venice Beach | Venice, CA

Wedged in between Marina del Ray and Santa Monica, Venice Beach is one of the biggest draws for visitors to Los Angeles. It's firmly established as the bohemian epicenter of Southern California and you won't find a higher concentration of recognizable landmarks from film and TV anywhere else in Los Angeles. At weekends, during the summer, it gets pretty packed, but that just adds to the slightly chaotic atmosphere. Street acts add a carnival feel to the proceedings, plus, of course, the beach is just a few feet away. Try Hinano Cafe  for a great burger in a back-to-basics, spit 'n sawdust setting and the newly refurbished Pier House for classic cocktails as the sun sets over the Pacific.

20.  Alamo Mission | San Antonio, TX

Alamo Mission | San Antonio, TX

Most Americans know the phrase 'Remember the Alamo' even if they’re not exactly sure what transpired at the 18th-century Spanish mission. Later secularized and used as a fortress, 1836 the Alamo was the site of a bloody and decisive battle of the Texas Revolution between Texas’s early Anglo settlers and Mexico (the latter won). One of the most visited historic sites in the country today, the fort welcomes about three million visitors annually. 

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The 10 most essential things to do on your (first) visit to philly, the can’t-miss experiences in the first world heritage city in the united states....

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There’s never a shortage of awesome things to do in Philadelphia, but there are some things youse just gotta do — especially if you’ve never been to our fair city before.

Whether it’s running like Rocky up those magnificent museum steps; refueling with a cheesesteak (an absolute mandatory); or bowing down to the history made at Independence Hall , devouring a roast pork sandwich (our other favorite sandwich) at Reading Terminal Market , and visiting one of the many mighty museums along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway , these are the experiences that make Philly so gloriously Philly.

Read on for the 10 most essential experiences to be had in the City of Brotherly Love — and find 10 more amazing Philly experiences right this way .

Snap a photo in front of the Liberty Bell

Dramatic home of the internationally known symbol of freedom....

Couple taking a selfie in front of the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia

It doesn’t make a sound, but the Liberty Bell ’s message rings loud and clear: “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” This inscription on the cracked but mighty Bell is one reason it became a symbol to abolitionists, suffragists and other freedom-seekers around the world. The Bell draws people from around the world to snag a photo in front of it and its dramatic backdrop: Independence Hall . The Liberty Bell Center is free to visit year-round with no tickets required. Learn more about visiting in our guide to the Liberty Bell .

Where: Liberty Bell Center, 526 Market Street

Pose with the Rocky Statue & run up the "Rocky Steps"

Two of the most famous attractions in philadelphia....

Since Rocky’s first triumphant onscreen run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1976, the 72 steps have become an international destination. Travelers from around the world embark on their own trek up the stairs , pumping their fists in the air as they cherish the spectacular view of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and the city skyline. Cheesey? Definitely. Fun? Absolutely! To finish off the experience, head to the bottom of the stairs and snap a photo with the bronze statue of Rocky , originally created for Rocky III . (Then, venture inside one of the country’s most magnificent art museums . We promise it won’t disappoint.)

Where: Rocky Statue and Rocky Steps outside of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway

Enjoy an authentic Philly cheesesteak

You have to eat one — or more — on your first visit to philadelphia....

Woman holding cheesesteak at Reading Terminal Market

The Philly cheesesteak is inarguably the city’s most famous food. So put your diet on hold for the day, and indulge in a hoagie roll filled with chopped (or thinly sliced) steak and your choice of cheese and/or fried onions. Those in the know order their cheesesteak with two words only: cheese selection (provolone, American or Whiz) and “wit” or “without” onions. The debate about which local spot cooks up the best sandwich won’t ever end, but for an iconic Philly experience, visit the intersection of South 9th Street and Passyunk Avenue, where rivals Geno’s Steaks and Pat’s King of Steaks feed the masses daily, and do your very own taste test. (Pro tip: Make time to all of Philly’s iconic foods , including roast pork sandwiches , hoagies , pretzels and water ice .)

Where: Various locations including Campo's Philly Cheesesteaks, 214 Market Street

Tour Independence Hall, the birthplace of the United States

Where the declaration of independence was signed and where the u.s. constitution was created....

A family takes a selfie outside of Independence Hall in Philadelphia

While historical attractions abound in Philly, Independence Hall is where the nation was founded. In 1776, the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence in the building’s Assembly Room. Just 11 years later, representatives from a dozen states met here to lay the framework for the U.S. Constitution. Today, the goosebumps-inducing UNESCO World Heritage Site is the centerpiece of Independence National Historical Park, and guided tours of this bucket-list gem are available year-round. Free tours of the Hall are available via timed tickets. Learn more about how to obtain tickets in our guide to Independence Hall .

Where: Independence Hall, 520 Chestnut Street

Visit the famous LOVE sculpture

An iconic work of art by robert indiana....

The City of Brotherly Love is filled with love — literally. One of best-known landmarks is LOVE itself — the Robert Indiana sculpture in John F. Kennedy Plaza (or LOVE Park , as it’s affectionately called by most) that’s a prized photo op for couples, families and friends eager to show the world how they feel about one another. The sculpture was restored and repainted in 2018, and the park was entirely redesigned to add more green areas and a high-tech water feature. A small visitor center kiosk was added in 2021. Another LOVE statue sits just west of Center City on the University of Pennsylvania campus near 36th and Locust streets. And because love comes in all languages in Philadelphia, there’s an AMOR sculpture — a Spanish edition of the LOVE sculpture — on display at Sister Cities Park , a six-minute walk from LOVE Park.

Where: LOVE Park, North 15th & Arch streets

Chow down on food from dozens of vendors at Reading Terminal Market

One of america's oldest farmers market and current food paradise....

Set below a former railroad terminal, Center City’s 127-year-old Reading Terminal Market serves as both a dazzling tourist destination and a trusted source for fresh produce, seafood, meats and cheese for locals. The public space also provides open seating where customers can enjoy a world of cuisines from dozens of restaurants, including Pennsylvania Dutch vendors and sandwich slingers like the acclaimed DiNic’s, serving up hot roast pork sandwiches that rival the city’s much-lauded cheesesteaks. Retail merchants sell housewares, jewelry, linens and more.

Where: Reading Terminal Market, 51 N. 12th Street

Visit the awesome museums on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway

Philly's most artistic mile....

Aerial view of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway

The Benjamin Franklin Parkway , modeled after the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris, is called Philadelphia’s most artistic mile for good reason. Some of the city’s most important cultural institutions are housed here, including the Barnes Foundation , The Franklin Institute (how can you not love that giant heart?), The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University and its crown jewel, the Philadelphia Museum of Art . (Another super-popular attraction, former prison Eastern State Penitentiary , is just a 15-minute walk from the Philadelphia Museum of Art.)

Where: Various locations including the Barnes Foundation, 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway

Amble through the world-renowned Longwood Gardens

One of the world’s premier horticultural display gardens....

tourist destination and tourist attraction

It’s not in Philadelphia proper, but the horticultural legend that is Longwood Gardens is well worth the 50-minute drive from Center City Philadelphia to Kennett Square . Spectacular, epic, brilliant, breathtaking — all of these adjectives adequately describe the Chester County mega garden and its 1,000-plus acres filled with 20 outdoor gardens, 20 indoor gardens, 11,000 different types of plants, dancing fountains and meandering meadows and woodlands. The colorful oasis also hosts hundreds of events each year, including flower shows, gardening demonstrations, educational programs, children’s activities, concerts and musical theater.

Where: Longwood Gardens, 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square

Explore Philly's hip waterfront

Philly's ever-evolving waterfront features loads to do in all seasons....

Friends drinking beer at the Food Trust's Market at Cherry Street Pier in Philadelphia

Once made up of undeveloped piers and underutilized public spaces, the Delaware River waterfront has become one of the most activated spaces in Philadelphia in the 21st century. That’s thanks to the opening of a number of exciting attractions and parks — Cherry Street Pier and Race Street Pier as well as seasonal spots like Spruce Street Harbor Park , Blue Cross RiverRink and Liberty Point — and diverse and well-attended events throughout the year. Those gorgeous views of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge — which connects Philadelphia to New Jersey — don’t hurt, either.

Where: Various locations including Cherry Street Pier, 121 N.Christopher Columbus Boulevard

Dine at a critically acclaimed restaurant (or two, or three...)

Philly does good food right....

There’s no way around it: Philly’s dining scene is special. After all, the city won more James Beard Awards in 2023 than any American city. (In fact, the city has been cleaning up at the awards for a number of years now — with a new finalist and a pair of honorees this year .) Philly restaurants regularly make ”best of” lists from The New York Times, Bon Appétit, Condé Nast Traveler and more. Some of the latest critically acclaimed spots: Royal Sushi & Izakaya (Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic finalist, James Beard Foundation), Andra Hem (15 Top Bars in the US, Food & Wine) and Doro Bet (Best Restaurants of the Year 2024, USA Today). Find more about Philly’s award-winning restaurants here .

Where: Various locations including Royal Sushi & Izakaya, 780 S. 2nd Street

Bonus: More Things to Do in Greater Philadelphia

Award-winning food, dynamic neighborhoods and history-making attractions await....

tourist destination and tourist attraction

Looking for even more great things to do in Greater Philadelphia? Of course you are! And in Greater Philadelphia, there is so much to explore, discover or rediscover. We’ve got ideas for:

  • perfect things to do on your second trip to Philly
  • 12 essential Philly eats from appetizers to desserts
  • the city’s best hidden gems you probably don’t know about
  • the most beautiful places in Greater Philadelphia
  • secret bars and restaurants , and
  • dozens of day-trip ideas out into Philadelphia’s Countryside.

Find more ideas right this way for your next exploration — then book a stay at one of the city’s great hotels.

  • Food & Drink
  • For Kids & Families
  • Museums & Attractions
  • Parks & Outdoors
  • Center City
  • Philadelphia Neighborhoods

tourist destination and tourist attraction

The Perfect Hotel Package for an Easy Philly Escape

The  Visit Philly Overnight Package — booked more than 190,000 times since 2001 — comes with free hotel parking (worth up to $100 in Center City Philadelphia), overnight hotel accommodations and choose-your-own-adventure perks.

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Attraction, tourism

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tourist destination and tourist attraction

  • Pierre Benckendorff 3  

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Attractions are a core component of tourism. They are often called “tourist attractions” because they tend to attract tourists. Attractions are the places, people, events, and things that make up the objects of the tourist gaze and attract tourists to destinations. Common examples include natural and cultural sites, historical places, monuments, zoos and game reserves, aquaria, museums and art galleries, gardens, architectural structures, themeparks, sports facilities, festivals and events, wildlife, and people. The history of attractions is inextricably linked with the development of the tourism industry. An attraction exists when a tourism system is created to designate and elevate it to the status of an attraction (Lew, 2000 ). Sectors such as transport, accommodation, and travel retail exist as part of this system because they support the desire for tourists to see attractions.

Historical evolution

Many attractions from ancient times are still popular today. Older attractions such...

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Benckendorff, P. 2006 Attractions Megatrends. In Tourism Business Frontiers: Consumers, Products and Industry, D. Buhalis and C. Costa, eds., pp.200-210. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.

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Leiper, N. 1990 Tourist Attraction Systems. Annals of Tourism Research 17:367-384.

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Pearce, P. 1991 Analyzing Tourist Attractions. Journal of Tourism Studies 2:46-55.

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Wanhill, S. 2008 Interpreting the Development of the Visitor Attraction Product. In Managing Visitor Attractions: New Directions, A. Fyall, B. Garrod, A. Leask and S. Wanhill, eds., pp.3-15. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.

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Pierre Benckendorff

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School of Hospitality Leadership, University of Wisconsin-Stout, Menomonie, Wisconsin, USA

Jafar Jafari

School of Hotel and Tourism Management, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR

Honggen Xiao

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Benckendorff, P. (2014). Attraction, tourism. In: Jafari, J., Xiao, H. (eds) Encyclopedia of Tourism. Springer, Cham.

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Received : 30 September 2014

Accepted : 30 September 2014

Published : 19 September 2015

Publisher Name : Springer, Cham

Online ISBN : 978-3-319-01669-6

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World's Most Visited Tourist Attractions, Ranked

Most visited tourist attractions.

Disney California Adventure

The world’s most visited tourist attractions stretch from San Francisco to Paris to Beijing, but they might not be what you expect. For example, Alcatraz doesn’t even make the top 50. The Eiffel Tower only sees about 7 million visitors each year, meaning it doesn't land in the top 20. The Great Wall and the Louvre see a mere 9 million visitors per year, less than a quarter of the crowds the top attraction in the world pulls in. And there's a lot of theme parks.

Still, the list is full of favorites, including several you've probably been to — or at least have on your bucket list. But as anyone who's been shoved up against a throng of sweaty bystanders knows, the most popular attractions in the world aren't always the most pleasant to visit, thanks to everyone else wanting to see them at the same time as you. 

Luckily, there are ways to avoid at least some of the crowds when checking out the world's most popular sites.

Note: We may earn money from affiliate partners if you buy through links on our site.  

50. Nagashima Spa Land — Kuwana, Japan

Nagashima Spa Land

Annual visitors: 5.8 million

Nagashima Spa Land Resort is comprised of five sections: the 50-ride Nagashima Spa Land Amusement Park, Nabana no Sato flower park, the 200-store Mitsui Outlet Shopping Park; Joyful Water Park; and Nagashima Onsen, a hot spring complex.

The park is busy year-round, though it’s at its most crowded during the warmer months, particularly in June, July, and August when temperatures rise and locals head to the massive swimming pools at the water park. Throughout the year, weekends and holidays also see more visitors.

*Note: The annual visitor numbers listed are taken from 2018 and 2019, before the 2020 pandemic affected tourism data.

Nagashima Spa Land Tip

Nagashima Spa Land

Shoulder season months like September, October, April and May combine pleasant weather with more manageable visitor numbers, while the coldest months (December to February) see far fewer crowds.

The park is open for reduced hours and some attractions (like the water park) aren’t open, but there are virtually no lines during this time.

Where to stay: Family Lodge Hatagoya Wangan Nagashima 

48. Palace of Versailles — Versailles, France (Tie)

Versailles Palace, France

Annual visitors: 5.9 million

France’s Palace of Versailles served as the royal residence of France from 1682 until the start of the French Revolution in 1789.

Located about 12 miles southwest of Paris, the opulent castle, famed for its magnificent architecture, lavish furnishing and sprawling gardens, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As one of the most popular attractions in Europe, the Palace is nearly always bustling, but crowds are at their densest during the busy summer travel season of late May through early September. Weekends are also busy all year round.

Palace of Versailles Tip

Palace of Versailles

To stroll through the Palace like Marie Antoinette without a horde of peasants following you, visit on a weekday or go in the off-season; the colder months of November to March (excluding holidays) see far fewer crowds.

Regardless of the season, go early. The Palace gets busier in the late morning and afternoon, so plan to arrive before 10 a.m. to beat the rush.

Where to stay: Waldorf Astoria Versailles - Trianon Palace

48. Universal Studios Hollywood — Los Angeles, California, United States (Tie)

Universal Studios

One of the oldest Hollywood film studios still in use, Universal Studios Hollywood is a film studio and theme park, and was the first in the now large family of Universal Studios Theme Parks located around the world.

As with Universal Studios Orlando, one of its most popular attractions is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which opened in 2016, and features the thrill rides Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and Flight of the Hippogriff, as well as the interactive Ollivander's Wand Fitting Experience and The Three Broomsticks restaurant.

The park is at its busiest during the holidays — including long weekends like MLK Jr. Day weekend, President's Day weekend and Memorial Day weekend as well as holiday weeks like spring break, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's. 

Universal Studios Hollywood Tip

Universal Studios Hollywood

The best times to visit Universal are weekdays in January and February and September through December, excluding holidays.

Weather is generally mild all year round, so when the kids are back in school, visitors can still enjoy all the perks of the park, but with far fewer people and much shorter lines.

Where to stay: Sheraton Universal Hotel 

47. Bourbon Street — New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

Bourbon Street

Annual visitors: 6 million

One of the most iconic streets in the world, and the center of New Orleans’ party scene, Bourbon Street is located in the Big Easy’s oldest neighborhood, the French Quarter.

The street extends for 13 blocks and is lined with bars, restaurants and souvenir shops.

Bourbon Street Tip

Bourbon Street

One easy way to avoid the bulk of the crowds is to stick to visiting during the day when it’s relatively quiet (one major exception: during Mardi Gras, when more than 100,000 people swarm the street).

The hot and sticky months of June through September are low season, as are December, January and Lent, the seven-week period after the festivities of Mardi Gras.

Where to stay: Bourbon Orleans Hotel  

45. Museum of Modern Art — New York, New York, United States (Tie)

Museum of Modern Art

Annual visitors: 6.1 million

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is one of the largest and most influential modern art museums in the world, boasting more than 200,000 examples of modern architecture, design, drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, prints, film and electronic media.

But be warned: The museum can easily become jam-packed with revelers.

Museum of Modern Art Tip

Museum of Modern Art

MoMA is especially crowded on Fridays after 4 p.m., when admission is waived as well as during Easter week, Thanksgiving week, between Christmas and New Year’s, Spring Break, during the summer and on rainy days.

To see MoMA’s works without jostling for space, go earlier in the day (particularly on Fridays, when most visitors will wait until the free time) or on Sunday.

Where to stay: The Jewel, a Club Quarters Hotel, Opposite Rockefeller Center 

45. Universal Studios Orlando, Florida, United States (Tie)

Universal Studios

A theme park and production studio opened in 1990, Universal Studios Florida is part of the Universal Orlando Resort, and is themed around the idea that guests can "ride the movies."

Along with thrill rides and themed attractions, it includes several live shows spread across eight lands with surround a large lagoon. With the 2014 edition of Harry Potter's Diagon Alley, the park has become even more popular, especially during peak times: summer, school holidays, spring break, Easter, and the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's holiday weeks.

Universal Studios Orlando Tip

Universal Studios Orlando

The best time to visit for lower prices and smaller crowds are January through early March (avoiding holidays), and the second half of August through December (also avoiding holidays).

As with other parks, rainy days and weekdays also see fewer crowds.

Where to stay: Universal's Loews Sapphire Falls Resort  

43. Lincoln Memorial — Washington, D.C., United States (Tie)

Lincoln Memorial

Annual visitors: 6.2 million

A national monument built to honor its namesake, President Abraham Lincoln, the Lincoln Memorial is located on the western end of the National Mall across from the Washington Monument.

Dedicated in 1922, the memorial, a marble sculpture of a seated Lincoln, is housed in a large Greek-style temple with an inscription of two of Lincoln's famous speeches — "The Gettysburg Address" and his Second Inaugural Address — inside.

Lincoln Memorial Tip

Lincoln Memorial

The memorial is at its most crowded when the city is at its busiest, including during the National Cherry Blossom Festival (late March to early April) and holiday weekends like Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.

Summer and weekends in general are busier, while the winter months and weekdays are quieter. The memorial is open every day, 24 hours a day, so a visit late at night or early morning ensures a viewing with fewer crowds.

Where to stay: The Watergate Hotel  

43. Lake Mead — Nevada, United States (Tie)

Hoover Dam

Located on the Colorado River about 24 miles southeast of Las Vegas, Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the United States.

It’s formed by the Hoover Dam, and though that engineering marvel is often what draws visitors to the lake, the water also offers its own attractions, including boating, fishing, swimming and kayaking.

Lake Mead Tip

Lake Mead

Summer is peak season on the lake and at the Dam, and holidays like the Fourth of July, Labor Day and Memorial Day are particularly packed.

To enjoy the lake’s watery wonders without thousands of fellow tourists, aim for a weekday in May or September. If swimming weather isn’t a consideration, go in January or February when crowds decrease significantly.

Where to stay: Viera Suite with Lake Views

41. Disney Hong Kong — Hong Kong (Tie)

Disney Hong Kong

Annual visitors: 6.7 million

Set on 68 acres, Disney Hong Kong consists of seven themed areas, including some from its American counterparts, like Main Street, U.S.A; Fantasyland; Adventureland; Tomorrowland; and Toy Story Land. Cast members speak Cantonese, English and Mandarin, and signs are in English as well as Chinese.

With a daily capacity of just 34,000 visitors, it’s the smallest (in terms of capacity) of all the Disney parks. That doesn’t mean it’s not busy though, and during peak times, its smaller size can make it feel more overwhelmed than some of the larger parks.

Disney Hong Kong Tip

Disney Hong Kong

The busiest times are during the hot, humid summer tourist season, weekends and holidays like Chinese New Year. Unlike some of the other parks, attendance can actually be lower here during the Christmas season.

Other great times to visit including weekdays and from September to April, excluding holidays.

Where to stay: Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel

41. British Museum — London, England (Tie)

British Museum

Dedicated to human history, art and culture, the British Museum is home to a collection of more than 8 million artifacts and works of art.

Opened in 1759, it was the first national public museum in the world and, to this day, it charges no admission fee.

British Museum Tip

The British Museum

The museum is always busy, even more so during the opening and closing weeks of special exhibitions, on Saturdays and on rainy days when people visit in droves to avoid London’s gloom.

To beat the bulk of the crowds, visit on a weekday (Tuesdays see particularly light crowds), Sunday or Friday evening.

Where to stay: NYX Hotel London Holborn by Leonardo Hotels  

39. Lotte World, Seoul, South Korea (Tie)

Lotte World

Annual visitors: 6.8 million

Lotte World is a recreation complex that includes both indoor and outdoor amusement parks areas, an artificial island on a lake linked by monorail, a Korean folk museum, aquarium, hotel, mall and movie theater.

The indoor park, Lotte World Adventure, happens to be the largest indoor theme park in the world. It has 22 rides as well as parades and shows, and the outdoor park, Magic Island, has 17 thrill rides.

Lotte World Tip

Lotte World

Despite its massive size, it can often feel quite crowded, especially during peak times: summer, weekends and holidays. Since the park has a large indoor space, it can also be very busy on rainy days and during the winter.

To avoid some of the crowds and spend less time in line, the best times to visit are Monday through Thursday, as well as the milder months during the spring (March and April) and fall (September and October).

Where to stay: Lotte Hotel World 

39. Everland Resort — South Korea (Tie)


South Korea's largest theme park, Everland, includes a zoo, a water park, several rides and roller coasters, four gardens and multiple shows. Peak season at the park runs from the third week of July until the end of the second week of August, as well as the weeks of Christmas and New Year.

Spring or fall generally means pleasant weather, fewer crowds and lower prices; however, there are some exceptions: including the last Friday of April through May, and from late October until mid-November, as many Koreans travel to see the fall leaves change.

Everland Resort Tip

Everland Resort

To enjoy the park with far fewer crowds, visit in the the winter low season from late-November through early March (avoiding the holidays listed above).

Visiting mid-week anytime of year will also mean reduced crowds compared to the busier weekends.

Where to stay: The Soom Forest Hotel 

36. Eiffel Tower — Paris, France (Tie)

Eiffel Tower

Annual visitors: 7 million

An icon of Paris, the world-famous Eiffel Tower was designed by Gustave Eiffel and constructed from 1887 to 1889 for the 1889 World’s Fair. It originally received harsh criticism from many locals but has since become one of the most enduring symbols of the city.

At 1,063 feet, it’s the tallest building in Paris and provides sweeping views of the city from its top-level observation deck, located at 906 feet.

Eiffel Tower Tip

Eiffel Tower

An average of 25,000 people ascend the tower every day and the lines can be interminable. Skip-the-line tickets (or reservations at one of the Tower’s two restaurants) can help you avoid some of the waits for the lift, but if you don’t plan on going up in the tower and just want to avoid some of the crowds at ground level, plan to visit closer to sundown or on a weekday in winter.

The busiest times tend to be the summer months, particularly in July and August.

Where to stay: Mercure Paris Centre Tour Eiffel 

36. National Air and Space Museum — Washington, D.C., United States (Tie)

National Air and Space Museum

A Smithsonian Institution museum, the National Air and Space Museum opened in 1976 and is dedicated to the history of aeronautics, aviation, and space technology and innovation. It’s also a center for research into planetary science and terrestrial geology.

Among the nerd-out items on display are the Apollo 11 command module, Charles Lindbergh's "Spirit of St. Louis" and the Wright brothers' plane.

National Air and Space Museum Tip

National Air and Space Museum

To avoid the bulk of the aviation-loving crowd, visit in the afternoon, as the museum is at its busiest in the mornings.

Like much of D.C., it’s also more crowded during the summer, so a winter visit all but guarantees you’ll enjoy a bit more breathing room among the historic planes and aviation artifacts (while simultaneously beating DC’s oppressive summer heat).

Where to stay: Hyatt Place Washington DC/National Mall 

36. Victoria Peak— Hong Kong (Tie)

Victoria Peak

Annual Visitors: 7 million

A mountain on the western half of Hong Kong Island, Victoria Peak towers 1,811 feet above the city. As the highest mountain on Hong Kong Island, it’s a popular spot to see Hong Kong, Victoria Harbour and Lamma Island from above.

It’s also home to several restaurants and two shopping malls, one of which is connected to the upper station of the Peak Tram, a funicular railway that brings passengers up from sea level to take in the staggering views from the top.

Victoria Peak Tip

Victoria Peak

Weekends and public holidays are the busiest times to visit, especially from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., when crowds head to the peak for a bird’s-eye-view of the Victoria Harbour light show.

Weekdays and mornings before 9 a.m. are the best times to go avoid some of the largest crowds.

Where to stay: Bishop Lei International House 

35. Ocean Park Hong Kong — Hong Kong

Ocean Park

Annual visitors: 7.4 million

Opened in 1977, Ocean Park Hong Kong is an oceanarium and amusement park set on 226 acres and separated into two areas, known as the Summit and the Waterfront, which are connected by a cable car and funicular. The park features rides like roller coasters as well as animal exhibits, such as a giant panda habitat and a large aquarium.

Here, as in much of Hong Kong, crowds are unavoidable, though the hordes peak on weekends, particularly Saturdays, and during Chinese holidays such as New Year (in January or February), Dragon Boat Festival (May) and Mid Autumn Festival (October).

Ocean Park Tip

Ocean Park Hong Kong

The best time to visit the park is during off-peak season (the sticky, sweaty months of May to September) and on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Shoulder season, the months of September to December, brings better weather and crowds are moderate.

Any time of year, you can skip some of the time waiting in line at the park entrance by buying tickets online or at any 7-Eleven store in Hong Kong.

Where to stay: Hong Kong Ocean Park Marriott Hotel 

34. Disney California Adventure Park - Anaheim, California, United States

California Adventure

Annual visitors: 7.7 million

Disney California Adventure Park, part of The Walt Disney Company, is a 72-acre park in Anaheim themed after the history and culture of California. Opened in 2001, it incorporates themes and characters from Disney, Pixar and Marvel, including "Guardians of the Galaxy," "Cars," "Frozen," "Toy Story" and "Monsters, Inc."

Though it’s one of the less popular Disney properties, it’s by no means unpopular, and during peak times, it can feel as crowded as any other Disney park on a busy day. It’s at its busiest in summer, on holidays and school breaks, and on weekends.

Disney California Adventure Tip

Disney California Adventure

To avoid the throngs, follow the best practices for most other Disney parks: go midweek, make a beeline for the top attractions first, and aim for popular attractions during off-peak times, such as when most people are dining.

The best months to visit include the off-season months of November to February (avoiding holidays) as well as the shoulder-season months of March, April, September and October.

Where to stay: Disneyland Hotel 

33. Islands of Adventure, Universal — Orlando, Florida, United States

Universal Studios

Annual visitors: 7.9 million

Universal's Islands of Adventure opened in 1999 as part of an expansion of Universal Studios Florida. It features eight themed lands, including the incredibly popular Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the newest land, Skull Island, themed around King Kong.

The busiest times at the park include New Year’s and the days after, Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, March to April (during various spring break weeks), late-May to early-August, Thanksgiving week and Christmas through New Year’s. Conversely, the best times to visit are January and February and weekdays from September through December, avoiding holidays. 

Islands of Adventure Tip

Islands of Adventure

September is generally considered the most optimal time for those who don’t want to sacrifice mild weather for shorter lines. Kids have just returned to school, so fewer families are visiting, but temperatures are still warm.

Fall’s Halloween Horror Nights have made the month more popular (particularly on Friday nights), but crowds are still significantly reduced from summer highs.

Where to stay: Universal's Endless Summer Resort - Dockside Inn and Suites 

32. Smithsonian National Museum of History — Washington, D.C., United States

Smithsonian National Museum of History

Annual visitors: 8 million

The National Museum of Natural History is part of D.C.’s Smithsonian Institution, located on the National Mall in the heart of the nation’s capital.

Opened in 1910, it has 325,000 square feet of exhibition space that houses more than 126 million specimens — including plants, animals and fossils — and more than 1,000 staff members, including 185 professional natural-history scientists.

Smithsonian Tip

Smithsonian National Museum of History

The museum offers free admission and is open nearly every day of the year — and it sees large crowds nearly every day of the year as well. For a less-crowded experience, go on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, and definitely avoid Saturdays and school holidays.

It’s also busier during summer, especially from mid-May through the end of July. September and February tend to be the slowest months.

Where to stay: Hilton Washington DC National Mall The Wharf  

31. Sydney Opera House — Sydney, Australia

Sydney Opera House

Annual visitors: 8.2 million

Formally opened in 1973, the Sydney Opera House is one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks. Though its purpose is hosting more than 1,500 performances each year, the bulk of the tourists come simply to see the exterior of one of this century’s most famous works of architecture.

In fact, while 1.2 million people attend a performance and 350,000 visitors take a guided tour of the building each year, many visitors to this UNESCO World Heritage Site never actually set foot inside it.

Sydney Opera House Tip

Sydney Opera House

If a photo of the exterior framed against the harbor is all you need, head to the relatively quiet Blues Point Reserve, which offers beautiful views of both the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Otherwise, plan your visit to Sydney during Australia’s winter — from June to August.

Where to stay: Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour 

30. Pier 39 — San Francisco, California, United State

Pier 39

Annual visitors: 8.5 million

Located on the north edge of San Francisco, near the touristy Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39 is most famous as the home of a massive group of California sea lions, who regularly (and noisily) haul themselves out of the water to laze on the adjacent dock.

Other attractions include several shops, an arcade, a large double-decker carousel and the Aquarium of the Bay.

Pier 39 Tip

Pier 39

Summer is peak tourist season in San Francisco, which also means lots of people convening at the Pier. However, it’s not peak season for the sea lions, who head to breeding grounds on the Channel Islands for most of June and July.

They’re back from late summer to late spring; to see them in peace, visit during the months of November through March. Crowds are also thinner earlier in the morning and around sunset.

Where to stay: Hotel Zephyr San Francisco 

28. South Street Seaport — New York, New York, United States (Tie)

South Street Seaport

Annual visitors: 9 million

A designated historic area along the East River, the South Street Seaport is home to some of the oldest buildings in downtown Manhattan as well as New York’s largest concentration of restored early-19th-century commercial buildings.

Among these are several renovated mercantile buildings and refurbished sailing ships and the former Fulton Fish Market, which opened in 1822 as one of the city’s first open-air fish markets.

South Street Seaport Tip

South Street Seaport

These days, the seaport is a commercial hub of a different kind, with a tourist mall offering several dining and shopping options. As with most of New York, the South Street Seaport sees the largest crowds during the summer months and on weekends.

To visit it with fewer tourists, go in winter or on a rainy day. Or visit early in the day or late in the evening.

Where to stay: M Social Hotel Times Square New York 

28. Great Wall of China — Beijing, China (Tie)

Great Wall of China

Built over centuries starting as early as the seventh century B.C., the Great Wall of China is a series of stone, brick, wood and earthen fortifications that stretch more than 13,000 miles from east to west across the country. The wall served as both a barrier to invaders and a border to regulate trade and immigration, and its stone towers functioned as lookouts, barracks and stations for smoke signals.

Today, the aptly named Great Wall is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s recognized as one of the world’s most impressive man-made structures. It’s also incredibly crowded, especially at its easier-to-access sections, such as Badaling near Beijing. Those areas are at their most jam-packed during Golden Week (beginning of October), the Labor Day holiday (end of April to beginning of May) and the Spring Festival (40 days in February and March).

Great Wall of China Tip

Great Wall of China

Peak time in Badaling tends to be 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., so going earlier or later will help you avoid some of the fray.

Another option is to visit some of the less developed spots, such as Jinshanling and Huanghua Cheng, which are only partly restored, or Jiankou and Zhuangdaokou, which are even more decrepit (and should only be visited by fit travelers up for the challenge of steep climbs and crumbling stones).

Where to stay: Commune by the Great Wall, in the Unbound Collection by Hyatt 

26. Musée du Louvre — Paris, France (Tie)

The Louvre

Annual visitors: 9.2 million

The Louvre Museum is the world's largest art museum, housing more than 38,000 objects in its 782,910 square feet of space. Located in what was originally the 12th-century Louvre castle, it’s now most recognizable by the glass pyramid, designed by I. M. Pei,  that marks its entrance.

The Louvre has appeared in countless movies, including “The Da Vinci Code” and “Wonder Woman,” and is home to one of the world’s most iconic paintings, the “Mona Lisa.”

Musée du Louvre

Lines to enter the museum regularly snake throughout its expansive inner courtyard, particularly in the peak summer months of June, July and August. Winter sees far fewer visitors. Additionally, the museum is open late (until 9:45 p.m.) on Wednesdays and Fridays, and come dinner time, the crowds tend to thin out.

Regardless of when you go, you can bypass some of the crowds by buying skip-the-line tickets in advance, or heading to one of the lesser-known entrances away from the glass pyramid (at Porte des Lions or the Galerie du Carrousel).

Where to stay: Hôtel du Louvre, in The Unbound Collection by Hyatt 

26. Navy Pier — Chicago, Illinois, United States (Tie)

Navy Pier

Originally opened to the public as the “Municipal Pier” in 1916, the 3,300-foot-long Navy Pier sits on the edge of Lake Michigan on Chicago’s North Side. In its lifetime, it’s been home to a jail and a training center for the U.S. Navy.

Today, it boasts multiple theaters, a park and indoor botanical garden, more than a dozen restaurants, a beer garden, several amusement rides and the Centennial Wheel, a 200-foot-tall Ferris Wheel that gives riders 360-degree views of the city and lake below.

Navy Pier Tip

Navy Pier

Despite the fact that many Chicagoans wouldn’t be caught setting foot on the pier, it’s the city’s top tourist attraction, and in summer, it’s swarmed with visitors. The winter months (November to March) see far fewer tourists due to Chicago’s famously frigid temps. Other less crowded times are midweek, early in the morning or closer to sunset.

To avoid the hordes, skip a visit on July 4 or over Memorial Day or Labor Day weekends.

Where to stay: LondonHouse Chicago, Curio Collection by Hilton  

25. Great Smoky Mountains National Park — Tennessee, United States

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Annual visitors: 9.6 million

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park stretches across the border between North Carolina and Tennessee and encompasses the Great Smoky Mountains, a subrange of the Appalachian Mountains, Established in 1934, the park is the most visited national park in the United States and is home to an estimated 187,000 acres of old-growth forest and the densest black bear population in the Eastern United States.

The park has been designated a Biosphere Reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it contains five historic districts and nine buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The peak sees peak crowds during the summer (June-August) as well as in October. It’s also busier on weekends, particularly long weekends like Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend.

Great Smoky Mountains Tip

Great Smoky Mountains

To see more of the park’s natural beauty without the crowds, visit during the off-season. Mid-September sees fewer crowds than busy October, though fall foliage isn’t yet at its peak. January to March are also much slower, though these months often see snowfall. For the best mix of good weather and low crowds, early spring (late March to mid-May) is a good compromise. 

Visiting early in the day or later in the evening can also assure fewer crowds, as can simply walking; much of the park’s natural beauty is easily accessible from the road, but those who take to the trails, will leave the crowds behind as they venture farther away from the pavement.

Where to stay:  Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Gatlinburg Downtown 

24. Universal Studios Japan — Osaka, Japan

Universal Studios

Annual visitors: 9.7 million

Universal Studios Japan opened in 2014 and has 10 themed areas, including perhaps its most famous and popular attraction, "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter," which includes a series of shops, rides, and restaurants based on the books and movies. Other rides and shows are themed around internationally beloved characters including Sesame Street, Snoopy, Hello Kitty, Spiderman, and Shrek.

As with other theme parks in Japan, and Japan in general, it’s more crowded during warmer months (May to September), during holidays, and during cherry blossom season (late March-early April). Other popular times include Golden Week (end of April to the beginning of May), Tenjin Matsuri (July 24-25), New Year's, Thanksgiving Day weekend (end of November), the Emperor’s Birthday (23rd of December) as well as school holidays (the last week of November and winter holidays, from Dec. 20 to Jan. 6) and the “Bon” festival season, the week around Aug. 15.

Universal Studios Japan Tip

Universal Studios Japan

Wednesdays and Thursdays are the best days to visit as well as the months of January (after Jan. 6, when New Year crowds have dissipated) and February — two of the coldest months of the year.

Avoiding holidays, October through December offer the best of both worlds: milder weather and reduced crowds.

Where to stay:  The Park Front Hotel at Universal Studios Japan  

22. Disney Hollywood Studios - Bay Lake, Florida, USA (Tie)

Hollywood Studios

Annual visitors: 9.9 million

At the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, Disney's Hollywood Studios is a theme park that opened in 1989 (originally knowns as the Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park).

The 135 acre-park is dedicated to film, television, music and theater, and is divided into six themed lands with attractions based on "Star Wars," "Toy Story," "Frozen" and other classics. As with other Disney parks, particularly those based in Florida, it’s busy year-round, but crowds swell during the summer months, winter and spring breaks, and over the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Long weekends also see bigger crowds.

Hollywood Studios Tip

Disney Hollywood Studios

To make the most of your time and avoid long lines, go mid-week during the off-season or shoulder-season, such as the weeks in December or January right before/after the holidays.

September, October and February also see fewer crowds.

Where to stay:  Walt Disney World Dolphin 

22. Disney’s Animal Kingdom — Orlando, Florida, United States (Tie)

Animal Kingdom

A zoological theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort, Animal Kingdom is the largest theme park in the world, covering 580 acres. Opened in 1998, it is themed around the natural environment and animal conservation, two subjects dear to Walt Disney himself.

Millions of visitors come to see the park’s exhibits, which include thousands of wild animals in recreations of their natural habitat, and like at the other parks, the bulk of those visitors come during the summer months, school breaks, holidays and weekends.

Animal Kingdom Tip

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Like the other parks in the Disney empire, the Animal Kingdom offers Extra Magic Hours on select mornings to guests staying at Disney hotels. For guests who have this perk, it’s a great time to go without the crowds. If you don’t have this perk, though, it’s best to avoid these mornings because, by the time you get to your first attractions, all the Extra Magic Hour people will already be in line.

Arriving early at Animal Kingdom is recommended, as many of the animals retreat to shady spots when the afternoon heat hits. A visit in the afternoon may mean fewer crowds, but it might also mean less opportunity to see the animals.

Where to stay:  Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge 

20. Plaza de la Constitución — Mexico City, Mexico (Tie)


Annual visitors: 10 million

More commonly referred to as the Zócalo, Mexico City’s sprawling central square is the gathering place for military parades, concerts, festivals, and political and cultural events.

It’s also adjacent to other top tourist attractions in the city, including the Metropolitan Cathedral and the National Palace, which means it sees a lot of foot traffic even when there’s no event taking place.

Plaza de la Constitución Tip

Zocalo Square

Mexico City’s slowest tourist season is November to March.

If you visit during these months — and avoid holidays like Dia de Los Muertos (October 31 to November 2), Christmas and New Year’s — you might even have much of it to yourself.

Where to stay:  Gran Hotel Ciudad De Mexico 

20. Pike Place Market — Seattle, Washington, United States (Tie)

Pike Place

One of the oldest continuously operated public farmers' markets in the United States, Pike Place Market has been bringing fresh fish, flowers, produce and other goods direct from farmers, producers and craftspeople to Seattleites since 1907. Seattle’s most popular tourist attraction, it takes up eight buildings and is home to nearly 500 vendors.

On weekends, the market hums with activity as locals do their shopping, tourists queue up at the original Starbucks, and both groups dine on delicious clam chowder, doughy Russian piroshkis and freshly cracked crab.

Pike Place Market Tip

Seattle's Pike Place Market

Big crowds are all but guaranteed on weekends and during summer afternoons when cruise ship passengers flood the city.

The market is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily and is at its quietest before 11 a.m. or closer to closing.

Where to stay: Inn at the Market 

19. Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade - Hong Kong

Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade

Annual visitors: 10.1 million

The Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade is one of the busiest and most crowded spots in a busy and crowded city.

It’s home to half of the major museums in Hong Kong, including the Hong Kong Space Museum, Hong Kong Museum of Art and Hong Kong Science Museum, as well as hundreds of shops and restaurants.

Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade Tip

Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade

The promenade is also an ideal place to admire the view of the Hong Kong skyline and Victoria Harbour. There’s no avoiding crowds on the Tsim Sha Tsui Waterfront, but you can see it with slightly fewer people if you visit in the low season (the hot, humid and typhoon-prone months of July and August).

At all costs, avoid Golden Week, which takes place twice per year in January or February (around Chinese New Year) and October.

Where to stay:  Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel & Towers 

18. Sacre Coeur — Paris, France

Sacre Couer

Annual visitors: 10.5 million

Sacre Coeur (the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris) is in the Montmartre neighborhood in the 18th arrondissement. Set on Montmartre hill, the area is the highest point in Paris. Built between 1875 and 1914, it’s one of Paris’s younger attractions, but it holds significance as a political and cultural monument and the center of the city’s most bohemian, artistic neighborhood.

Crowds that climb the many steps (or ride the funicular) to the top of Montmartre hill not only get to see the famous basilica, they also get a spectacular view of Paris and the Eiffel Tower in the distance.

Sacre Coeur Tip

Sacre Coeur

Sacre Coeur is open from 6 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. every day.

The dome closes at 7 p.m. in the summer and 6 p.m. in winter, so if you’re less concerned with climbing the 300 steps of the dome and just want to see the interior, come later at night to avoid the bulk of the crowds.

Where to stay:  Mercure Paris Montmartre Sacré Coeur 

17. Epcot Park, Orlando, Florida, United States


Annual visitors: 11 million

Part of Orlando’s Walt Disney World Resort Epcot Park opened in 1982 as a futuristic celebration of human achievement. Covering 305 acres, it’s more than twice the size of the adjacent Magic Kingdom and has a focus on technology and culture.

A sort of “permanent world’s fair,” its name stands for "Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow” and it’s comprised of two main ares, Future World and World Showcase. The latter is made up of 11 pavilions representing the food and culture of countries around the world.

While Epcot Park isn’t as popular as other Disney parks, it still sees its fair share of visitors and, like the other parks, is busiest during the summer, on weekends, and over holidays including New Year's Eve and Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Easter Sunday, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Eve and Day.

Epcot Center

The best time to visit for fewer crowds is on a weekday in September, January or February, avoiding holiday weekends.

Epcot Park also offers Extra Magic Hours on Tuesday evenings and Thursday mornings, so guests staying in Disney hotels can visit before or after the park is officially closed and enjoy the attractions with fewer fellow guests.

Where to stay: Resort Lake Buena Vista Vacation Home

16. Disneyland Paris — Paris, France

Disneyland Paris

Annual visitors: 11.2 million

Originally known as Euro Disney Resort when it opened in 1992, Disneyland Paris spans 140 acres and is largely modeled after the original Disney parks in Anaheim and Orlando, right down to the centerpiece fairy tale castle. Its five-themed lands house 49 attractions, including classics like Thunder Mountain.

A mid-week visit (Tuesday to Thursday), particularly during mid-January through mid-March or from mid-April through mid-May, guarantees shorter lines, but it also means some attractions may be closed.

Disneyland Paris Tip

Disneyland Paris

As with other Disney resorts, it sees peak crowds on weekends, during the summer, during major holidays like Bastille Day on July 14 and when schoolchildren are on break.

If a visit in peak season is unavoidable, the same tricks apply as at other parks: aim for the big-name rides first, and get in line for the most popular attractions during off-peak hours, such as meal times.

15. Tokyo Disney Sea - Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo Disney Sea

Annual visitors: 12.6 million

Tokyo DisneySea is the second theme park within the Tokyo Disney Resort. It was also the fastest theme park to reach the milestone of 10 million guests, which it hit just 307 days after its grand opening, and the hype hasn’t dissipated. The park features seven distinct lands, each with a nautical theme, and it’s just about always busy.

As with much of Japan, it’s busier during the warmer months of May to September, during cherry blossom season in late March and early April and during national holidays. To explore the park with fewer fellow guests, go in the off-season — you’ll trade colder temperatures and more fickle weather for shorter lines — or stick to weekdays.

Tokyo Disney Sea Tip

Tokyo Disney Sea

Guests who stay overnight at one of Tokyo Disney Resort theme parks’ hotels, get Happy 15 Entry privileges, which means they can enter the park 15 minutes before regular opening time.

It’s not a huge lead, but that 15 minutes can mean getting in line for a popular attraction or obtaining a FastPass ticket (which allows you to skip the line at a selected attraction) before everyone else.

Where to stay: Tokyo Disneyland Hotel  

14. Golden Gate Park — San Francisco, California, United States

Golden Gate Park

Annual visitors: 13 million

San Francisco’s largest urban park sprawls over 1,000 acres.

It’s the second most visited city park in the world and is home to several of the city’s iconic attractions and best museums, including the DeYoung Museum, California Academy of Sciences, Japanese Tea Garden, Conservatory of Flowers, several windmills and lakes, a carousel and even a bison paddock.

Golden Gate Park Tip

Golden Gate Park

On weekends and during popular events like the Bay to Breakers race and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass and Outside Lands music festivals, the park buzzes with activity.

For a quieter experience, stick to weekdays, early mornings and the off-season (late fall through early spring).

Where to stay:  The Gables Inn - Sausalito 

13. Notre-Dame Cathedral — Paris, France

Notre-Dame Cathedral

Annual visitors: 13.6 million (before April 2019)

Completed in 1345, Notre-Dame Cathedral was an icon of Paris for nearly 700 years.

Set along the banks of the Seine river, seeing its gargoyles and towers topped most tourists’ Paris bucket list.

Notre-Dame Cathedral Tip

Notre-Dame Cathedral

The Notre-Dame Cathedral  burned down in April 2019. While there are plans to rebuild, that likely won't start until 2022.

But once completed, you better believe the tourists will be back in droves.

Where to stay:  Hôtel Le Notre Dame Saint Michel 

12. Tokyo Disney Resort — Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo Disney Resort

Annual visitors: 14.8 million

Opened in 1983, the 115-acre Tokyo Disney Resort was the first Disney park to be built outside the United States. The park has seven themed areas including four traditional Disney lands: (Adventureland, Westernland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland) and plenty of classic Disney rides featuring beloved characters, including Peter Pan's Flight, Snow White's Scary Adventures and Dumbo the Flying Elephant.

Like other Disney parks, crowds here peak on weekends, major public holidays, during the summer high season, and during Golden Week (which usually runs from the end of April to the beginning of May) and New Year's holidays.

Tokyo Disney Resort Tip

Tokyo Disney Resort

To avoid the bulk of the crowds, visit midweek, on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, particularly in January (after Jan. 6, when New Year’s visitors have gone home) and February.

Crowd size can also vary quite a bit with the weather; rainy days mean some rides might close, but it also means fewer people to contend with if the rain stops and rides reopen.

Where to stay: Tokyo Disneyland Hotel 

11. Grand Bazaar — Istanbul, Turkey

Grand Bazaar

Annual visitors: 15 million

Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar more than lives up to its name. It’s one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, encompassing more than 61 covered streets and 4,000 shops selling everything from hand-painted ceramics and silk carpets to delicate jewelry and fragrant spices.

Grand Bazaar Tip

Grand Bazaar

It’s easy to get lost in its labyrinth of halls, and even easier to get overwhelmed by the crowds during peak times.

Fridays are typically less crowded, as are early mornings and late afternoons when you’re more likely to encounter locals doing their shopping than throngs of cruisers and tour groups.

Where to stay: Grand Bazaar Hotel 

10. Forbidden City — Beijing, China

Forbidden City

Annual visitors: 15.3 million

Beijing’s Ming Dynasty palace — the largest ancient palace in the world — has been standing since 1420.

Once the home of Chinese emperors, the 180-acre complex of 980 buildings is now home to the Palace Museum. Visitor numbers are limited to 80,000 per day, and during peak periods like July, August, Chinese national holidays, Spring Festival and Golden Week (held twice per year around Chinese New Year and in October), it can sell out before midday.

Forbidden City Tip

The Forbidden City

Your best bet: Go early, aim for a weekday, and visit during the low season from November through March (holidays excluded).

Where to stay: Jade Garden Hotel Beijing Forbidden City 

9. Disneyland Park — Anaheim, California, United States


Annual visitors: 15.9 million

Opened in 1966, the original 85-acre Disneyland Park consists of eight themed “lands” including favorites like Main Street, U.S.A.; Frontierland; Fantasyland; and Tomorrowland. Attracting both visitors and season-pass-holding locals, it’s consistently busy, especially on weekends, during the summer, and over school holidays, when crowds surge and the “happiest place on earth” can be anything but.

Off-season months include January through March and September through December, when kids are in school and fewer people are traveling to Southern California. Of course, within that window, Christmas, New Year's and Spring Break are busier times, while weekdays, especially those that fall a few days after a major holiday, tend to be quieter.

Disneyland Tip

Disneyland Park

During peak times, head to the most popular attractions early or during times when the bulk of the crowds are focused on other events or dining.

Where to stay: Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel

8. Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom — Orlando, Florida, United States

Magic Kingdom

Annual visitors: 17.5 million

Opened in 1971, Disney’s second theme park surpasses the Anaheim original by nearly 2 million annual visitors. Part of the larger Walt Disney World Resort (which encompasses three other parks, four golf courses, and two dozen hotels), it’s the most popular theme park in the world.

As such, it’s pretty much always busy, but particularly so in summer and on holidays. Because it’s most popular with families, when kids are out of school, crowds surge, lines for attractions can be hours long, and it’s nearly impossible to score a seat at a table-service restaurant.

Magic Kingdom Tip

Magic Kingdom

To avoid the bulk of the chaos, go January through early March or September through December, but avoid weekends, holidays and dates of special events like the Disney World Marathon. While temperatures may be cooler during these months, lines are also significantly shorter. 

If you must go during peaks times, line up for the most popular rides during the nightly parade, during meal times, or during Extra Magic Hours, which are available to guests staying in Disney hotels. The perk allows these guests to enter the park one hour prior to the official opening, or stay up to two hours after the park closes to the general public.

Where to stay: Disney's Art of Animation Resort 

7. Faneuil Hall — Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Faneuil Hall

Annual visitors: 18 million

Once the scene of speeches from the likes of Samuel Adams and George Washington, Faneuil Hall is known as “the Cradle of Liberty” for its role in pre-Revolution America.

Today, it’s a bustling marketplace with more than 100 specialty shops, restaurants and food vendors — as well as Boston’s tallest Christmas tree each holiday.

Faneuil Hall Tip

Faneuil Hall

The pedestrian-only streets around Faneuil Hall are always bustling, and even more so during lunchtime and during the Boston Marathon weekend.

To see it in all its historical glory without the crowds, come during off-hours (early morning or late afternoon), or brave the Boston winter when the city is relatively quiet.

Where to stay: Courtyard by Marriott Boston Downtown/North Station 

6. Grand Central Station — New York, New York, United States

Grand Central Station

Annual visitors: 21.6 million

A U.S. National Historic Landmark, Grand Central Station covers 48 acres and has 44 platforms that bring more than 750 trains in and out of the city each day. For commuters, it’s a vital transit hub, while for visitors, it’s a beautiful, historic Beaux-Arts building with a painted ceiling featuring a map of the constellations.

It’s also home to some of the city’s most iconic bars and restaurants, like the Campbell Apartment, which you might recognize from “Gossip Girl,” and the Oyster Bar, which was featured on AMC’s “Mad Men” and serves a whopping 2 million oysters per year.

Grand Central Station Tip

Grand Central Station

In general, New York is a bit less crowded during the cold months.

To see Grand Central with fewer fellow travelers, avoid rush hour and go late at night or in the wee hours of the morning.

Where to stay:  The Westin New York Grand Central 

5. Niagara Falls — United States and Canada

Niagara Falls

Annual visitors: 22.5 million

Niagara Falls (which is actually three waterfalls) sits on the border of the U.S. and Canada, and its dual citizenship seems to attract double the visitors.

At “only” 165 feet, it’s not the tallest waterfall in the world, but it is one of the most powerful, pumping 6 million cubic feet of water over its edge every minute.

Niagara Falls Tip

Niagara Falls

Niagara is at its most crowded during the warmer months (late spring to early fall) when the Maid of Mist boat sails close to the thundering falls; come in early spring or late fall instead to see slightly fewer tourists, or pack your parka and visit in winter to have the place nearly to yourself.

Avoid long weekends and holidays (both Fourth of July and Canada Day), and book your tickets in advance to cut down on your time spent in lines.

Where to stay:  Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Niagara Falls 

4. Union Station — Washington, D.C., United States

Union Station

Annual visitors: 32.8 million

D.C.’s main transit station sees more than 100,000 commuters every day — plus thousands of tourists who come to see its incredible Classical, Beaux-Arts and Baroque architecture and shop at its more than 70 stores.

Union Station Tip

Union Station

Designed by famed architect Daniel Burnham and completed in 1908, the station is a stop on just about every D.C. tour, including the many school group tours that swarm D.C. in the warmer months, which means spring and early summer are particularly popular times to visit.

Come in fall or winter instead, avoid rush hour, and you might just get a glimpse of what it was like back in the 1940s — when the station served just 45,000 travelers each day.

Where to stay: Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill 

3. Central Park — New York, New York, United States

Central Park

Annual visitors: 37.5 million

New York’s most famous green space covers nearly 850 acres in the middle of Manhattan, and though it’s the most visited park in the world, it still offers a lot of space to spread out.

Central Park Tip

Central Park

One easy way to avoid the crowds is to seek out the less-visited areas of the park, like the Northern Woodlands north of 86th street or The Great Hill, a grassy hilltop that’s the highest point in the park (just avoid it when there’s an event like August’s annual Great Jazz on the Great Hill concert).

Early weekday mornings can also be quieter, and if you can brave the cold, a winter trip ensures you can see one of the world’s most iconic parks without feeling like you’re elbow to elbow with all of Manhattan.

Where to stay: Arthouse Hotel New York City 

2. Times Square — New York, New York, United States

Times Square

Annual visitors: 39.2 million

Once one of the seediest spots in Manhattan, Times Square is now more like a cleaned-up theme park version of New York. Though New Yorkers might turn up their noses at it for not being part of the “real” NYC, tourists and theatergoers still flock to Times Square to check out its crowded chaos, marvel at its massive billboards and see famous Broadway shows.

Unfortunately, traffic swells right before said shows start and after they end, so your best bet for seeing Times Square with slightly more breathing room is in the early morning before rush hour, mid-afternoon or late evening after the theater crowd has gone home.

Times Square Tip

Times Square

Chilly February is the least busy month, with “only” about 250,000 visitors per day.

Where to stay: The Kimpton Muse Hotel, an IHG Hotel  

1. The Strip — Las Vegas, Nevada, United States

The Strip

Annual visitors: 39.6 million

The 4-mile-long Las Vegas Strip, Sin City’s main thoroughfare, is home to more than 30 casinos as well as the famous Bellagio fountains and the High Roller, a 550-foot-tall Ferris wheel that slowly rotates over the city lights.

More than 75 percent of all visitors to Vegas stay at hotels located on The Strip and during peak times — like during the Super Bowl, March Madness, Halloween and the Consumer Electronics Show — it can feel like they’re all there at once.

Sin City Tip

The Las Vegas Strip

The better times to visit include midweek during winter (so long as there are no big conventions happening) and during the peak of summer when the desert’s sweltering temps keep the crowds inside or at the pool.

Where to stay: Wynn Las Vegas 

Tourism Teacher

The 21 types of tourist attractions

The different types of tourist attractions make up an integral part of the structure of the tourism industry . People travel far and wide to visit a particular tourist attractions. Visiting said attractions could be the reason for their trip, or it could be a byproduct of their trip.

There are many different types of tourist attractions. Some are large, some are small. Some are busy, others are quiet. Some are privately owned travel and tourism businesses and others are public enterprises.

In this article I will tell you all about the different types of tourist attractions, and give you lots of examples to inspire your future travels too!

What is a tourist attraction?

Why are tourist attractions important, what is the role of tourist attractions, products and services offered by tourist attractions, national parks, entertainment parks, wildlife attractions, museums and art galleries, unique built attractions, historical or heritage attractions, spectating sport attractions, participating sport attractions, stadium tours, festivals and parades, exhibitions, entertainment venues, to conclude: types of tourist attractions, further reading.

Before we delve into the ins and outs of the different types of tourist attractions, we first need to understand what a tourist attraction is.

A tourist attraction, often also referred to as a visitor attraction, is a place of interest that is commonly visited by tourists.

A tourist attraction will usually have value to the tourist in one of the following areas-

  • Historial significance
  • Cultural value
  • Political significance
  • Natural or built beauty
  • Amusement and fun

Tourist attractions make up an important part of the visitor economy. The visitor economy comprises the activities and expenditure involved in supplying products and services for visitors by both the private and public sectors.

Tourist attractions contribute significantly to the tourism industry. They typically reap economic benefits of tourism and/or promote the local culture, heritage and environment. This can often result in increased environmental preservation- a positive environmental impact of tourism .

It is important, however, that tourist attractions are well-managed. If poor management occurs, tourist attractions can have adverse impacts on the local society, economy and (most commonly) the environment. It is imperative, therefore, that proper tourism planning is undertaken and that sustainable tourism measures are adopted when developing and managing the operations of a tourist attraction.

Tourist attractions are an important part of the tourism industry.

Some tourist attractions are there predominantly to provide entertainment, such as theme parks and zoos.

Other tourist attractions provide entertainment as well as other aspects, such as education . Examples of educational tourist attractions might include museums and exhibitions.

Other types of tourist attractions may facilitate recreation, hospitality and special events.

Types of tourist attractions

Different types of tourist attractions will offer different types of products and services.

Products and services are directed towards what the types of customer that is expected to visit will like.

Some tourist attractions offer rides or experiences. You can go snorkelling in the Atlantis aquarium in Dubai or ride Space Mountain at Disney Land, for example.

Some attractions offer information services, such as guidebooks, information boards, guided tours, interpretation and translation services and educational talks.

Some tourist attractions offer hospitality services, for example renting out areas for a wedding or a conference.

Many tourist attractions have gift shops and catering options for their customers.

Types of tourist attractions

There are many different types of tourist attractions that are found around the world.

Generally, tourist attractions can be separated into four main categories: natural, man-made, sport, events. I will discuss these four categories below.

Natural types of tourist attractions

Natural types of tourist attraction are attractions that are naturally occurring. In other words, they are not built by man.

There are many types of tourist attractions around the world that are natural. In many cases, areas surrounding natural attractions have been developed for tourism because of the natural attraction that is on offer.

Here are some of the different types of tourist attractions that are deemed natural attractions.


National park examples: Dartmoor, Brecon Beacons, Lake District, New Forest.

A national park is an area that is protected due to its cultural heritage, varied wildlife and/or beautiful countryside. National parks are popular types of tourist attractions.

There are clear boundaries showing where the park begins and ends. ,And laws exists to protect the nature and wildlife so that it can all be enjoyed by current and future generations. 

The overarching aim of a national park is for people to be able to continually benefit from everything nature has to offer, without destroying it.

There are 15 national parks in the UK.

UK national parks

Want to learn more? Take a look at my articles everything you need to know about UK national parks and the best national parks to visit in the UK .

UK national parks

My favourite national park : The Peak District

A friend of mine lives in and writes about the Peak District and I am always surprised at how many wonderful things there are to do here!

Goa beaches

Beach examples: Brighton Beach (Brighton, UK), Copacabana Beach (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Bondi Beach (Sydney, Australia), Santa Monica Beach ( California , USA).

Many people choose to go on holiday in search of a beach – meaning that beaches are popular types of tourist attractions!

Beach tourism is particularly popular amongst populations who live in predominantly cooler climates, such as Brits and Russians. Many tourists seek warm weather and soft sand and head to exotic shores to satisfy their desires.

Beaches are one of the most popular types of tourist attractions around the world.

Beaches can be busy or they can be quiet and secluded. Many beaches in popular tourist areas suffer from overtourism . The typical package holiday and the mass tourism industry are generally associated with beach tourism.

Boulders Beach

My favourite beach: Boulders Beach, South Africa

Visiting Boulders Beach was SUCH a treat! It is famous for its resident penguins and getting to see them up close was a really special experience!

types of tourist attractions

Cave examples: Blue Grotto ( Italy ), Waitomo Glowworm caves (New Zealand), Reed Flute Cave (China), Cave of the Crystals (Mexico).

There are many spectacular caves around the world and are popular natural types of tourist attractions.

Caves are natural voids in the ground. Some caves are small and other caves are large. These voids are typically created through weathering and erosion . Many caves have water inside, some of which are known as cenotes .

Caves are often home to many different species of bats, mice, rats and various insects.

Many people choose to visit caves in order to take a look at the natural formations or to undertake active pursuits, such as caving, diving and canoeing.

types of tourist attractions

My favourite cave: Manjanggul Cave

Despite its name, Manjanggul Cave is actually a lava tube, and it’s the biggest one in Asia. Located in ‘South Korea’s Hawaii’- Jeju island , this is a remarkable natural attraction to visit. This was the first, and only, time I have ever needed to use an umbrella indoors!

types of tourist attractions

Cliff examples: White Cliffs of Dover (UK), Torres del Paine (Chile), Preikestolen (Norway), The Cliffs of Moher ( Ireland ).

Cliffs are another examples of one of the popular types of tourist attractions.

A cliff is essential a land edge, whereby the land juts out above the sea. A cliff usually encompasses a steep rock face.

People may choose to visit cliffs to enjoy the scenery. They may do this by having a picnic, taking a gentle stroll or committing to a multi-day hike.

types of tourist attractions

My favourite cliff: Cape Point

Cape Point is the southeast corner of the Cape Peninsula. It is a beautiful mountainous area at the extreme most southwestern tip of South Africa . The views are stunning and it is a great place to relax for an afternoon.

view of alps mountain

Mountain examples: Mountain ranges – the Himalayas (Nepal), the Drakensburg Mountains (South Africa), the Yellow Mountains ( China ), The Canadian Rockies (Canada). Singular mountains – Kilimanjaro (Tanzania), Everest (Nepal), Aconcagua (Argentina).

Mountains are some of the most popular types of tourist attractions.

A mountain is a natural elevation of the earth’s surface. A mountain usually has a peak. Mountains are bigger than hills and the top of the mountain is usually 2000m or more above sea level.

Mountains usually come in ranges (multiple mountains), but sometimes are lonesome.

Tourists choose to visit mountains for a number of reason. They may simply want to enjoy the scenery or they may be in search of cool weather. Many tourists choose to visit mountains for hiking or skiing activities.

Mountains are natural attractions that must be looked after. There have been many negative stories of erosion due to skiing and litter left behind by hikers.

types of tourist attractions

My favourite mountain: Mount Kilimanjaro

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro was one of the biggest achievement of my life! The climb is physically and mentally challenging, but making it to the top was the best feeling ever!

green slope and mountains in clouds

Hills examples: Palatine Hill (Italy), Glastonbury Tor (UK), Chocolate Hills (Philipines), Anantagiri Hills ( India ).

Hills are popular areas for tourists to visit, and hills can make great types of tourist attractions.

Many people will choose to visit hills for the scenery or for active types of tourism , such as kite flying or hiking.

types of tourist attractions

My favourite hill: Glastonbury Tor

Did you know that a tor is a type of hill?

Glastonbury Tor is famous for the annual music festival and has become something of a landmark in the area. Whilst I haven’t ever attended Glastonbury festival, me and my girls did enjoy our blustering climb up to the top!

Hiking in Yunnan

Waterfalls examples: Niagara Falls (USA/Canada), Victoria Falls (Zambia/Zimbabwe), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil).

Visiting a waterfall is on many people’s travel to-do list! Many destinations have waterfalls that attract tourists.

Some waterfalls are big and others are small.

Some waterfalls are easily accessible and others are found in remote destinations.

The area around some waterfalls is very developed for tourism (such as Niagara Falls), and for others the area is not developed at all.

Goa waterfalls

My favourite waterfall: Dudhsagar Falls

Dudhsagar Falls is one of the best waterfalls in Goa , India. I loved this waterfall because it was surrounded by nature. The monkeys came to play on our walk to the falls and we could get in and swim with the huge fish that lived in the water beneath the waterfall. This was an amazing experience!

types of tourist attractions

Island examples: Malta, Bali (Indonesia), Jamaica (Caribbean), Isla of Wight (UK), Koh Samui (Thailand), Phd Quoc Island (Vietnam), Cape Verde.

Island tourism is a popular type of tourism and is an example of one of the most popular types of tourist attractions.

An island is a piece of land that is separated from the mainland by water.

Most islands have beach areas for tourists to enjoy.

Some islands are large, like Australia, and others are small, like the Gili Islands . Groups of islands are called an archipelago.

There are many islands that are popular for tourism, such as Bali, many of the islands in the south of Thailand and the Caribbean, amongst many others.

Visiting and staying on an island can often cost the tourist, and the local, more than if they were staying on the mainland. This is because of added transport costs for both people and goods. So, for example, the price of a loaf of bread is increased because the ingredients have to be put on a boat or place in order to reach the island, which costs money.

My favourite Island: Bali

Bali is the most populated tourist island in Indonesia . Popular with Australians and Chinese tourists, it also attracts visitors from around the world.

Bali is one of my happy places. I love the peaceful atmosphere- the yoga, the sound of the waves, the smell of incense. The beaches are great and the food is delicious.

I’ve been twice and I can’t wait to go back again!

old wooden barns on green hill

Example forests: Daintree Forest (Australia), Redwood National Park (USA), Sagano Bamboo Forest (Japan), Great Bear Rainforest (Canada).

A forest is one of the popular types of tourist attractions.

There are Forrests all over the world, although the flora and fauna differs according to the geographical location, they are share one thing in common- trees!

Many tourists choose to travel to forest areas. Some travellers will visit for a short time and others may stay for days or weeks.

There are many tourist facilities and resorts that have been developed within forests . In the UK the Centre Parcs chain is probably the most well-known. These holiday parks feature chalets and villas in a forest area. There are many activities such as rock climbing and mountain biking. There are also many facilities provided such as swimming pools and restaurants.

types of tourist attractions

My favourite forest: Monteverde Cloud Forest

Visiting the Monteverde Cloud Forest in Costa Rica was a once in a lifetime experience! We were literally living in the clouds! We spent our days amongst the nature, watching the humming birds, looking for sloths and talking gentle walks through the forest.

Purpose built or man-made types of tourist attractions

Many types of tourist attractions are purpose built. This means that the attractions are not natural, and were created by man.

Man-made tourist attractions can be separated into two groups: Attractions that were made for tourism purposes and attractions that were made for other purposes but has since been used for tourism.

Purpose built types of tourist attractions are attractions that have been purposely developed for tourism. This could include a wide range of types of tourist attractions, such as a theme park, a zoo or an art gallery.

Here are some examples of man-made tourist attractions.

types of tourist attractions

Entertainment park examples: Sea World, Florida (USA), Disney Land, Paris ( France ), Wet and Wild Gold Coast (Australia), Big Fun Play Centre, Calgary (Canada),

There are many different types of entertainment parks around the world that are common examples of types of tourist attractions.

Theme parks are very popular built tourist attractions. They are built with the sole purpose of providing entertainment for visitors.

Theme parks are usually quite large. Sometimes you will pay a one-time fee to enter with unlimited access to rides. Other times you may be required to pay for individual rides. Many of the large theme parks are renowned for being busy and having long queues for rides.

Another example of an entertainment park is a waterpark.

Waterparks can be both indoors and outdoors, although outdoor waterparks are usually larger, with more rides and facilities. Holiday parks like Centre Parks offer indoor waterparks as part of their offering to tourists.

In warmer climates, such as in Spain or Florida , there are many outdoor waterparks. Waterparks often feature wave pools, lazy rivers and a variety of slides and playgrounds.

Play parks are areas that have playing equipment for children.

The facilities offered at play parks can vary widely. Some play parks may have water areas, others are completely dry. Play parks may have small rides, such as train rides. They may also have horses or donkeys to ride. There will likely be playgrounds as well as other activities such as archery or canoeing.

Soft play areas are another example of play parks. Soft play areas consist of indoor playgrounds. They usually have ball pits, slides and sometime bouncy castles. Soft play areas are popular with young children. Many countries have impressive soft play attractions such as China and Canada .

types of tourist attractions

My favourite entertainment park: Peppa Pig World

My daughters love Peppa Pig, so when we heard that there was a Peppa Pig world we knew that we just HAD to go!

Peppa Pig World is a section within a larger theme park, called Paulton’s Park. Paulton’s Park is located in the New Forest in the south of England.

agriculture animals baby blur

Wildlife attraction examples: San Diego Zoo (USA), Monkey Island, Sanya (China), Atlantis Aquarium, Dubai (UAE), Tiger Temple, Chiang Mai ( Thailand ).

There are many types of tourist attractions that involve the use of wildlife .

Some of these are natural areas, such as grazing lands when you go on a safari. However, most of these are purpose built tourist attractions.

There are many types of wildlife attractions that make use of the concept of animal tourism. Some are better managed than others. When you are visiting an animal-focussed attraction it is important that you do your research and only visit if the animals are well treated and cared for.

Zoos are a popular type of wildlife attractions.

Zoos are areas whereby animals are kept. They usually have a wide range of animals, many of which are exotic, such as lions, elephants and monkeys. Tourists are allowed to enter the venue and look at and/or interact with the animals.

Some zoos have very small cages and the treatment of the animals is poor. This is unethical and I do not recommend visiting such zoos.

Farms are similar to zoos, but they generally have larger enclosures and keep only animals that naturally live in the country. In the UK, zoos generally feature animals such as cows, goats, sheep and chickens. Some farms that allow visitors are working farms.

Aquariums are also tourist attractions that enable tourists to see wildlife.

Aquariums feature marine life, such as sharks, sting rays, turtles and a wide range of fish. Some aquariums have large tanks and allow visitors to interact with the marine life by snorkelling or diving. Other aquariums may only have small tanks for their fish, which is unethical.

Lastly, there are a number of attractions around the world that use animals as their focus.

Some destinations will transport animals to the area to encourage tourists to visit. A common example of this is monkeys.

There are attractions that use tigers or lions, such as Tiger Temple in Thailand. Here you can get up close and personal and have photos taken with the tigers.

Thailand is also well-known for its elephants, with many tourist attractions featuring elephant rides or elephant conservation.

Some destinations, such as Mexico create tourist destinations which enable you to swim with dolphins and other marine life.

If you are considering visiting an attraction like this, do your research first and make sure that the organisation demonstrates ethical practices.

Animal tourism is a controversial issue and is one that is frequently debated. Whilst these attractions can be very profitable and have positive economic outcomes, they can, if not managed sustainably , have negative impacts on the animals.

types of tourist attractions

My favourite wildlife attraction: Krabi Elephant Sanctuary

The ethical elephant sanctuary in Krabi, Thailand rescues elephants who have been mistreated in the logging or tourism trades. The sanctuary provides elephants with a better quality of life than they have previously known and allows tourists to visit to help fund their operations.

The sanctuary offer tours and allow you to get up close and personal with the elephants. Elephant riding is cruel and this is not allowed.

Museum and art gallery examples: Egyption Museum, Cairo ( Egypt ), Louvre, Paris (France), Tate Modern, London (UK), Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Netherlands).

Museums and art galleries are usually purpose-built for tourism and are also examples of types of tourist attractions.

Museums and art galleries are found all over the world. These fall into different categories of the types of travel and tourism organisations . Some museums and art galleries are publicly funded or subsidised and others are privately owned, and therefore incur a cost to the visitor.

Museums and art galleries vary considerably in size. They can also have different intentions, some are based on history, or science, or culture amongst a wide variety of other subject matter. Some museums offer niche or unusual products- I was shocked to find out on my trip to Jeju in South Korea that the island has more sex museums than any other place!

types of tourist attractions

My favourite museum: War Remnants Museum

My visit to the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam is an eye-opening experience.

I didn’t know much about the Vietnam war, but what I did know had come from Western sources. This was my first exposure of informational bias. I heard about the war from the perspective of the Vietnam people, rather than the American’s. I learnt about the torture practices and the deformations caused to future children as a result of agent orange.

I will never forget the images from that day- where American tourists were walking through the museum is sheer horror, tears running down their faces as a result of what they were learning.

Now, it is important to state here that this museum has an inevitable bias too. And that the whole and true story is rarely presented by one side. What this experience taught me, was that there are two sides to every story, and our media outlets and school textbooks may not always present an objective and whole picture.

types of tourist attractions

Unique built attraction examples: The Grand Canyon glass bridge (USA), Nevis Bungy Jump (New Zealand), F1 car driving, Abu Dhabi race track (UAE).

There are many other purpose built types of tourist attractions around the world that do not neatly fit into any of the above categories.

As tourists, we desire things that are innovative, new and different. This is why many unique tourist attractions have been built around the world.

In Costa Rica they have taken advantage of the natural habitat and built extensive zip line networks through the forests.

In China they have built a large number of glass bridges. This makes for a unique and thrilling experience when visiting many of the beautiful natural areas that the country has to offer.

In Sydney they offer tourists with the opportunity to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge- now that is a cool experience!

There are also tourist attractions which facilitate a range of adrenaline-rising activities, such as sport car racing, deep sea diving, skydiving or wing walking .

types of tourist attractions

My favourite unique built attraction: Glass Bridge at Yanoda Rainforest

The glass bridge in the Yanoda rainforest, close to Sanya in China was a really cool tourist experience.

You get to walk out over the forest and admire the views from the glass bridge. This was great… but the best part was when we reached the end and the glass beneath us!! No, it didn’t actually crack, it was a simulation, my seeing the face on my husband when it happened was absolutely HILARIOUS! If only I caught it on camera…

types of tourist attractions

Heritage or historical attraction examples: Blue Mosque, Istanbul (Turkey), Buckingham Palace, London (UK), Macchu Picchu ( Peru ), Ankor Was (Cambodia).

Some man-made types of tourist attractions are not purpose built for tourism. Instead, they have been adapted for the purposes of tourism.

There are a wide range of buildings, areas and places that have historical or culturally significance. These places are often restored or protected and then displayed to tourists.

Historical or heritage-based tourist attractions include castles, famous walls, ruins, towers, monuments, religious buildings, houses and palaces.

These types of tourist attractions are often beneficial because they help to preserve cultural and heritage, which is a positive impact of cultural tourism .

types of tourist attractions

My favourite heritage and historical attraction: Pyramids of Giza

The Pyramids of Giza in Cairo, Egypt are simply incredible. Nobody knows the exact history behind why and how they were built, and that’s part of the mystery!

We climbed down into the tombs and learnt all about the Egyptian pharaohs, which was super interesting!

Sport attractions

One of the most popular types of tourist attractions are sport events. Sports attractions make up an important part of the sports tourism industry.

Whilst a sporting attraction may not always comprise a permanent infrastructure, like many of the types of tourist attractions that we have discussed so far, sporting events are most certainly attractions in their own right!

There are three main types of sport-based attractions: spectating, participating and stadium tours.

people watching soccer game

Spectating attractions examples: Football World Cup, Wimbledon Championships, Six Nations Rugby, Olympics.

Many people choose to visit sport attractions because they wish to spectate at a sporting venue. They may not realise that these are types of tourist attractions, but in actual fact, they are!

There are many different sports around the world that welcome spectators. These range from large, international events (such as the Football World Cup or Wimbledon), to small localised events (think local cricket team or school swimming competition).

types of tourist attractions

My favourite spectating sport attraction: Wimbledon

I am not a huge tennis fan, but the atmosphere at the Wimbledon Championships was fantastic!

Quintessentially British, I enjoyed drinking Pimms and eating fresh strawberries whilst watching the game. The sun was shinning too. What more could you ask for?

backlit beach dawn dusk

Participating sport attraction examples: Yoga retreat, Bali (Indonesia), golfing holiday, (Spain), diving holiday ( Egypt ), London Marathon (UK).

Other people visit sports attractions in order to participate in sport.

People may choose to participate in sport by doing a sports camp, which is particular popular with children and young people in the USA.

Other people may opt to go on a yoga holiday or a golfing trip, for example.

Other people may travel to a destination for a specific sporting event that they hope to take part in, such as a swimming competition or a running race.

There are many different sports attractions that invite tourists from around the world to participate in sport.

types of tourist attractions

My favourite participating sport attraction: Tough Mudder

The Tough Mudder race that I competed in was a day to remember! Tough Mudder is not for the faint hearted- a half marathon in knee-high mud with extraordinarily challenging obstacles such as being squeezed through a ‘birth canal’, carrying heavy rocks and diving into ice water, this was a memorable endurance!

Nonetheless, it was such an achievement when I completed in and I look back on this day with fond memories. But, it is pretty safe to say that I will not be signing up for a Tough Mudder again any time soon…!

colosseum rome italy

Stadium tour examples: Barcelona Olympic Stadium (Spain), Manchester United Stadium (UK), Maracana Stadium (Brazil), Melbourne Cricket Ground ( Australia ).

The last example of sports attractions is stadium tours.

Stadium tours are popular around the world, particularly with people who are fans of teams who were/are based at these locations.

Stadium tours are also popular if there was a particularly famous event that occurred there.

Stadium tours occur in in both active and pre-used stadiums. Tours in disused stadiums tend to run more frequently and these stadiums are often transformed into museums, which exhibitions and information displays.

types of tourist attractions

My favourite stadium tour: Barcelona

Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium is the largest in Europe, with a capacity of over 99,000 people. Whilst I m not a big football fan, it was pretty impressive to see where the players change, marvel at the many trophies on display and see the sheer size of this stadium!

Special events

There are many special events that take place around the world that be be classed as types of tourist attractions.

Special events come in all shapes and sizes and there is no end to the different types of special events that can be organised. However, the most common types of special events are either markets, festivals and parades, exhibitions or entertainment venues.

woman holding tomatoes

Market examples: Grand Bazaar, Istanbul (Turkey), Camden Market, London (UK), Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, Bangkok (Thailand), Marrakesh Souks (Morocco).

There are different types of markets, which are popular types of tourist attractions. Some markets are intended for local use (i.e. fruit and vegetable markets or fish markets) and others are intended for tourists (i.e. souvenir markets).

There are many places throughout the world that are famous for their markets. Some tourists may visit especially because they wish to visit the market. And for others, visiting a market may be a byproduct of their trip.

Markets come in different sizes. Some are large and others are small. Some markets operate everyday and others are only operational on particular days of the week or month.

Markets also look different in different places. In some areas there are indoor markets and in some places they are outdoors. Some take place in the street, others in an organised venue. Some take place in more unusual locations, such as on a river!

Markets are commonly associated with the concept of bargaining or haggling. They usually specialise in produce that is grown/made locally, i.e. leather in Morocco. Some are regulated more than others and you may find counterfeit or copied products here.

types of tourist attractions

My favourite market: AP Plaza (aka Shanghai fake market)

Visiting the Yatai Xinyang Fashion and Gift Market in Shanghai is an interesting experience, even if you don’t enjoy shopping!

This market is famous for its excellent copies and fake products. Whether you want a pair of Christian Louboutins, an England football shirt or some custom-made designer glasses, you can get it all at this market. It offers good quality and excellent value for money. And you get to practice your haggling skills too…

group of people having neon party

Festival and parade examples: Harbin Ice and Snow Festival (China), Glastonbury Festival (UK), Rio Carnival (Brazil), Holiday Festival (India), Songkran (Thailand).

Festivals and parades are important components of tourism .

There are many different festivals and parades that take places at different times of the year in different countries.

Many people will travel from around the world to either spectate or take part in such events.

San Fermin

My favourite festival: San Fermin

San Fermin , commonly referred to as the Running of the Bulls is a famous festival that takes place each summer in Pamplona, Spain. Famed for its bull running and fighting, the event also has a lot more to offer- jazz classes, karaoke, all-night parties, children’s games, meals, fireworks and lots more- this event is great fun to attend.

Whilst I didn’t feel all that comfortable about the way that the bulls were treated during this event, this festival is an important cultural tourism event in Spain, and it was great to learn a little bit more about Spanish heritage and to help keep the tradition alive!

red art relaxation girl

Exhibition examples: Tate Modern, London (UK), ITB Berlin, (Germany), Tutankhamun Exhibition, Cairo ( Egypt ), Ryoji Ikeda: continuum at Centre Pompidou (France).

Another one of the major types of tourist attractions is an exhibition. An exhibition is a display of art of interesting artefacts. Exhibitions usually take place in museums or large buildings. Most commonly, exhibitions consist predominantly of artwork.

Exhibitions can be permanent, they can travel from place to place or they can be temporary.

types of tourist attractions

My favourite exhibition: International Silk Art Exhibition

I was pleasantly surprised when I visited the silk museum in Hangzhou , China. It was fascinating to see all of the garments that were created over the years and I really enjoyed learning about the history of the Silk Road.

white sydney opera house

Entertainment venue examples: Sydney Opera House (Australia), Holywood Bowl, LA (USA), Paradiso, Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Harpa Concert Hall (Iceland.

The last of the types of tourist attractions that I will discuss in this article is entertainment venues.

Entertainment venues are popular tourist attractions. There are different types of entertainment venues. Venues can be large or small. They can be permanent or temporary. They can propose built or otherwise.

Some entertainment venues have duel purpose. Or they may have been built for a different purpose than what they are used for now.

For example, The O2 Stadium, which now holds concerts and other entertainment events, was originally built as the Millennium Dome. The Millennium Dome was an exhibition centre, housing artefacts to celebrate the turn of the new millennium. However, this attracts was not successful and the building was subsequently redesigned and used for alternative means.

Likewise, following the 2012 London Olympics, there was no longer a need to have so many stadiums for public use. So West Ham United Football Club purchased the stadium and transformed it for their personal use. This was an excellent example of sustainable practice and was one of the reasons that the London Olympic bid was successful!

types of tourist attractions

My favourite entertainment venue: Joya Resident Cirque Du Soleil

Cirque Du Soleil is an inc credible acrobatics show that traditionally travels around the world using temporary entertainment venues. However, one of the few resident shows, where they have a purpose-built permanent infrastructure in place, is near Cancun in Mexico.

I thought that the venue, and the show, was absolutely fantastic. We sipped cocktails before the show with live entertainment along the purpose-built river. We then sat in the venue, which had been designed with moving stages, props and acrobatic equipment installed in order to provide for an incredible experience.

As you can see, there are many different types of tourist attractions throughout the world. Whether they are natural or man-made, large or small, all types of tourist attractions make a valuable contribution and play an important role in the tourism industry. What’s your favourite type of tourist attraction?

If you enjoyed this article on the different types of tourist attractions I am sure that you will enjoy these too-

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25 Top Tourist Attractions in the USA

By Mike Kaplan · Last updated on June 17, 2024

As one of the largest and most diverse countries in the world, The United States boast an amazing amount of tourist destinations ranging from the skyscrapers of New York and Chicago, the natural wonders of Yellowstone and Alaska to the sunny beaches of California , Florida and Hawaii.

With so many tourist attractions in the USA it’s tempting to list entire cities or even states, but in this top 25 I have tried to focus on specific attractions.

25. Mount Rushmore [SEE MAP]

Mount Rushmore

Perhaps the most unmistakably American landmark is Mount Rushmore, a national memorial located in South Dakota. Constructed in the early 20th century, Mount Rushmore depicts the faces of four former American presidents, each of which is carved and blasted from the side of a rock face.

Visitors can admire the larger-than-life faces of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. The short Presidential Trail at the base of Mount Rushmore provides better views and an interesting perspective on the landmark.

24. Pike Place Market in Seattle [SEE MAP]

Pike Place Market

Overlooking the waterfront of Elliott Bay in Seattle, Washington, is the Pike Place Market. Opened in 1907, the market is now a historic, iconic part of the city. Pike Place Market is the ultimate place to shop in Seattle, because it is full of the oldest establishments in the region.

There are markets where fresh fish straight from the Puget Sound gets tossed dramatically, cheesemongers who offer tastings of locally made brie and camembert and then there is the site of the original Starbucks coffee shop.

23. Venice Beach in Los Angeles [SEE MAP]

Venice Beach

No visit to Los Angeles is complete without a trip to Venice Beach. Its canals and beaches are spectacular, but the biggest hit is undeniably the Venice Beach Boardwalk. This is a truly entertaining spot where street performers juggle, dance, sculpt and sing for passersby.

Shop for souvenirs, grab a refreshing drink and bring some small bills for a stroll on the boardwalk. After stopping to admire a live performer, many visitors tip a dollar or two to show appreciation.

See also: Where to Stay in Los Angeles

22. Mesa Verde [SEE MAP]

Mesa Verde

The Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado is home to the preserved homes of the Ancestral Pueblo people. Many of these homes, which are carved right from caves and rock faces, date back to the early 13th century.

Today, it is possible to walk beneath the overhanging cliffs and tour these ancient abodes. The Balcony House is especially well preserved, and it boasts 40 rooms that are accessible exclusively by ladder. The nearby Cliff Palace is even bigger, and it is believed to have housed more than 100 people in its 150 original rooms.

21. Faneuil Hall in Boston [SEE MAP]

Faneuil Hall

One of the most historic destinations in Boston, a city already full of heritage, is Faneuil Hall Marketplace. Also known as the Cradle of Liberty, this early 18th century structure served as a space where early leaders gathered to fight against oppression in the years before and during the American Revolutionary War.

Today, touring Faneuil Hall Marketplace means lots of opportunity to shop for local produce and desserts in the indoor and outdoor marketplace.

20. Kennedy Space Center [SEE MAP]

Kennedy Space Center

Cape Canaveral, located on the coast of Florida, boasts a lot of space-related attractions. One of the best is the Kennedy Space Center, which has been the launch site for every US human space flight since 1968 and currently operates as a launch site for unmanned rockets.

Visitors can learn more about the early pioneers into space, and they can also experience the tension and excitement over the rush to the moon. There is even the chance to participate in the Shuttle Launch Experience, which replicates the experience of space travel.

19. Navy Pier in Chicago [SEE MAP]

Navy Pier

Extending over the waters of Lake Michigan is Navy Pier, an enormous pier in the heart of Chicago’s coastal Streeterville neighborhood. Within the pier, there are countless attractions suited to the whole family.

Beautifully manicured gardens are the ideal place for a scenic stroll, and lots of souvenir shops are a wonderful way to snag gifts on a vacation to Chicago. The pier is also home to the Chicago Children’s Museum, two theaters and an abundance of excellent restaurants.

18. Great Smoky Mountains National Park [SEE MAP]

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Straddling the border between Tennessee and North Carolina is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The park is the most visited in the entire country, thanks in large part to its enormous size and its incredible scenery.

Visitors can hike through old growth forest, spot hundreds of species of birds and check out the two visitor centers. Hikes can also wind through trails that lead to the waterfalls of Laurel Falls and the vistas of Clingman’s Dome.

17. River Walk in San Antonio [SEE MAP]

River Walk

In the city of San Antonio, Texas , there are few attractions more appealing than the River Walk. Also known as the Paseo del Rio, the River Walk is a network of walkways lining the San Antonio River.

Reserved for pedestrians, the revitalized area is packed with fascinating architecture, lush greenery and water views. The River Walk is a hub for dining and culinary exploration in this Texan city. It is possible to dig into Tex-Mex cuisine, upscale French fare and everything in between in this one easily navigable destination.

16. Carlsbad Caverns [SEE MAP]

Carlsbad Caverns

As the name suggests, Carlsbad Caverns is a collection of over 115 caves. Located in southern New Mexico, these caverns are carved from limestone, and it is possible for visitors to descend more than 900 feet (275 meters) below the surface of the earth on a guided tour.

The largest single cave chamber in all of North America is found here and is known as the Big Room. Within the room itself, visitors can set off on a 90-minute walk exploring the incredible underground environment.

15. Bryce Canyon National Park [SEE MAP]

Bryce Canyon National Park

Located in Southern Utah, Bryce Canyon National Park is a breathtaking display of rock formations. Technically, Bryce Canyon isn’t a canyon, but a series of natural amphitheaters. Mormon settlers once called the canyon home, but now most visitors come for the awe-inspiring views and the magnificent hiking opportunities.

Sunset Point is one of the most popular vantage points, offering panoramic views of the red, yellow and orange rock formations. Queen’s Garden Trail is another favorite, because it offers green trees among the red rocks for a brilliant juxtaposition.

14. French Quarter in New Orleans [SEE MAP]

French Quarter

New Orleans, Louisiana, is made up of several unique districts, but none is so famous as the French Quarter. Also known as the Vieux Carre, the French Quarter truly explores the rich French colonial influences on the city of New Orleans . Incredible architecture abounds, with the St. Louis Cathedral being the main attraction.

The French Quarter boasts the Moon Walk, a paved walkway next to the Mississippi River, as well as Bourbon Street, the undeniable hub of nightlife, drinking and entertainment in the city.

13. Sedona Red Rock Country [SEE MAP]

Sedona Red Rock Country

A two-hour drive north of Phoenix is Sedona, Arizona. Sedona isn’t a big city, but it is a major tourist attraction in the USA thanks to its gorgeous red rock landscape. Known as Red Rock Country, this region is an outdoor lover’s dream. Countless canyons, creeks and paths encourage outdoor activity, with Cathedral Rock Trail being one of the local favorite hiking spots.

One of the most interesting spots in Sedona combines the new with the old, with the contemporary Chapel of the Holy Cross built right into the side of the red rocks themselves.

12. Walt Disney World in Orlando [SEE MAP]

Walt Disney World

Orlando, Florida , is a hub of amusement parks, but none is so popular as Walt Disney World. Many travelers don’t realize that Walt Disney World is actually made up of several distinct theme parks, including the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom and the Blizzard Beach Water Park.

Visitors will be able to enjoy thrill rides, watch Broadway-quality shows and explore the nightlife, cuisine, shopping and entertainment at Disney Springs.

11. Yosemite National Park [SEE MAP]

Yosemite National Park

In the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, there is Yosemite National Park. This extraordinary destination is known the world over for its amazing scenery. Within this single park, visitors can peer off spectacular granite cliffs, admire clear waterfalls and see sequoia trees that are hundreds of years old.

Yosemite Valley is a top spot to explore in the park, because it boasts the enormous Yosemite Falls as well as the granite monolith called Half Dome.

10. White House in Washington D.C. [SEE MAP]

White House

The White House in Washington DC is the official residence and office of the President of the United States. It was built between 1792 and 1800 and first used by President John Adams.

After the 9/11 attacks it has become more difficult to visit the White House and today tours are available only for groups of 10 or more and must be requested up to six months in advance through your member of Congress or your country’s US Ambassador.

9. Denali National Park [SEE MAP]

Denali National Park

The Denali National Park and Preserve is located in Interior Alaska and contains Mount McKinley, the highest mountain in North America. The word “Denali” means “the high one” in the native Athabaskan language and refers to Mount McKinley. In addition, the park protects an incredible wilderness area that contains grizzly bears, caribou, moose, wolves, and numerous other creatures.

8. Las Vegas Strip [SEE MAP]

Las Vegas Strip

The gambling mecca of the world, Las Vegas is situated in the midst of the southern Nevada desert landscape. Casinos can be found throughout Las Vegas, but the strip, a stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard South, contains the most of them.

It features giant mega-casino hotels, decorated with lavish care and attention to detail to create a fantasy-like atmosphere. The casinos often have names and themes that evoke romance, mystery, and far-away destination.

See also: Where to Stay in Las Vegas

7. Florida Keys [SEE MAP]

Florida Keys

The Florida Keys are a 120 mile long chain of tropical islands curving around the base of the Florida peninsula, connected to the mainland by a series of bridges.

The most spectacular bridge, the Seven Mile Bridge in the Lower Keys, has been frequently used as a location for films including True Lies and Fast 2 Furious. US Highway 1, the “Overseas Highway” runs from Key Largo , Islamadora, Marathon, Lower Keys and finally to Key West, the most distant and most famous island.

6. Kilauea [SEE MAP]


Kilauea is the most recent of a series of volcanoes that have created the Hawaiian Archipelago. It is a very low, flat shield volcano, vastly different in profile from the high, sharply sloping peaks of stratovolcanoes.

Kilauea is one of the most active volcano on the Earth, an invaluable resource for volcanologists. Thirty-three eruptions have taken place since 1952, not including the current eruption which started on January 3, 1983 and is still ongoing.

5. Niagara Falls [SEE MAP]

Niagara Falls

Situated between the state of New York and the province of Ontario, Niagara Falls is one of the most spectacular natural wonders on the North American continent. Niagara Falls is actually three different falls, the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and Horseshoe Falls.

Horseshoe Falls is located on the Canadian side while the other are located in New York. With more than 14 million visitors each year it is one of the most visited tourist attraction in the world.

4. Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco [SEE MAP]

Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate, the strait between San Francisco and Marin County to the north.

The Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge span in the world when it was completed in 1937, and has become an internationally recognized symbol of San Francisco and California . The famous red-orange color of the bridge was specifically chosen to make the bridge more easily visible through the thick fog that frequently shrouds the bridge.

3. Yellowstone [SEE MAP]


Yellowstone National Park was the world’s first national park, set aside in 1872 to preserve the vast number of geysers, hot springs, and other thermal areas, as well as to protect the incredible wildlife and rugged beauty of the area. Yellowstone lies on top of a gigantic hotspot where light, hot, molten mantle rock rises towards the surface.

Subsequently, the park contains half of all the world’s known geothermal features, with more than 10,000 examples of geysers and hot springs. In addition, black bears, grizzly bears, deer, elk, bison and wolves can all be found within the park borders.

2. Manhattan [SEE MAP]


Manhattan is one of New York’s five boroughs and is what people most often think of when they picture New York City . It’s familiar skyline and sights have been featured a thousand times on screen. Walk in the shadow of the skyscrapers, picture the Statue of Liberty, see a Broadway show , climb the Empire State building, stroll Central Park, window shop on 5th Avenue or stagger around a museum.

1. Grand Canyon [SEE MAP]

#1 of Tourist Attractions In The Usa

The Grand Canyon is located in northern Arizona and is one of the great tourist attractions in the United States. Carved over several million years by the Colorado River, the canyon attains a depth of over 1.6 km (1 mile) and 446 km (277 miles) long.

The Grand Canyon is not the deepest or the longest canyon in the world but the overwhelming size and its intricate and colorful landscape offers visitor spectacular vistas that are unmatched throughout the world.

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Reader interactions.

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November 12, 2020 at 8:34 pm

I’ve been to almost all of these. HANDS DOWN Grand Canyon- Bryce-Tetons- Yellowstone-Glacier is the most amazing trip. I’ve been all over the world, and Yellowstone’s wildlife and the view at the Grand Canyon are by far the most epic. I love Washington State as well: Mt. Ranier, Seattle, Olympic and the anitoles- you can see a variety in a small distance.

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July 26, 2019 at 10:32 am

You should have included the historic triangle in Virginia. It includes Williamsburg (Colonial Williamsburg) Jamestown (America’s first settlement) & Yorktown (the site of Cornwallis’ surrender, effectively ending the Revolutionary War) it is literally the birth place of this great nation and is a huge tourist destination.

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May 24, 2019 at 10:31 pm

Nice article, but may I make one correction regarding Pike Place Market? As a local tour guide, it bugs me when people tell our visitors that the Starbucks at the market is the original. It isn’t, and I try to set this myth straight every chance I get. The original Starbucks was on Western Ave., and burned down in the 70s. The original owner and team moved to the present location at the market, which is how they get away with calling it original, but in reality, it is misleading the public.

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October 31, 2018 at 10:15 am

Hello!? Savannah GA is amazing. It’s like stepping back in time.

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August 17, 2017 at 7:54 pm

oh my gaawwwd. these photos are amazing and I cant wait to go back to the us so I can visit vegas. I didn’t get to last time so im really looking forward to it!!!

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September 1, 2016 at 11:10 am

I am excited to see Niagra falls soon and its my dream to see New York specially Statue of Liberty, Central park and Brooklyn Bridge. I hope that soon i shall be there.

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February 9, 2015 at 8:09 am

It makes you dream and want to go there. I’ve learned a lot on the USA thanks to your site and the like. Your publications perfectly reflect the wonderful side of the USA.

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January 30, 2015 at 12:36 am

Christina Rusia! You are right America is fabulous and offer amazing sights to see there. I have explored its major attractions and Niagara Falls and Grand Canyon are one of those places which are my ever best spots to enjoy the natural beauty. Recently I went to have some fun with friends in Nagara Falls after my pedestrian streets trip.

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October 14, 2014 at 6:04 pm

I think that america is fabulous, The sights and also the view is amazing to see and visit. I am currently in New York.

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July 24, 2014 at 11:32 pm

I visited Yellowstone National Park. This is an awesome place in USA.

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December 12, 2013 at 4:46 am

I have been very lucky myself to have visited most of these places. One of my main reasons why I love America (USA) is because of the diversity the country has to offer in terms of landscapes e.g. countryside, deserts, mountains ect. Out of the above Yellowstone and Vegas are my favourites. Niagara Falls was an sight I will never forget – waking up each morning and opening my hotel room curtains to see the falls directly below….breathtaking.

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November 30, 2013 at 7:03 am

these are great places

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September 14, 2013 at 6:17 am

Las Vegas is my final destination …….thankew. informative website

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August 20, 2013 at 5:23 pm

I think that Niagara Falls needs to be higher on the list. Who agrees?

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March 27, 2013 at 6:44 am

Niagara Falls & Manhattan is my dream….I have no word to express the beauty

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February 19, 2013 at 1:03 am

great feed back about us visitor Sp like me who is going to visit USA first time and with family it was quite difficult for me to decide where to go but after visiting this page i am clear about my trip thanks alot

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November 14, 2012 at 10:45 pm

I can say that I have been very fortunate to have visited all but one of these tourist attractions. (Alaska being the only one) Visiting Alcatraz and seeing the Golden Gate was interesting, along with watching the Geysers in Yellowstone. I live in NY (15 minutes from Niagara Falls and an easy drive to NYC) so those don’t interest me as much but after driving cross country in my early twenties, I have realized just what a beautiful country we live in. I now have three children and make it a point to travel with them. Each child gets a surprise birthday trip every year and it has proved to be not only memorable but also educational. My 11 year old has been many places, in and out of the U.S. and now is starting to understand the value of travel. Great site! 🙂

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September 24, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Manhattan: “… stagger around a museum”… you have you never lied. I recently visited New York, and a friend of mine and I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Our initial plan was to try and see if we could make it through that one and the American Museum of Natural History. After a good 7 hours in the Met, we ended up taking a taxi to Penn Station, and slept our way back on the train to Long Island. I will say, however the exhaustion was worth it.

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August 6, 2012 at 8:52 am

A great page, I’ve been to the USA many times – Cities such as New York and San Francisco are really worth a visit – For natural wonder Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon are a must.

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August 28, 2011 at 9:18 pm

Very good collection of tourist places. I have bookmarked this page, and i will follow this blog at the time of my usa tour. Thanks.

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April 26, 2011 at 3:47 am

Fabulous photos of places to visit in the US. I have been very lucky to visit Vegas, and to have flown over the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon. Over the page you have photos of Alaska and Denali National Park which I plan to visit next year. When I see those photos I can hardly wait. Thanks great post.

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Meaning of tourist attraction in English

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an expression of surprise or feeling sorry about a mistake or slight accident

Fakes and forgeries (Things that are not what they seem to be)

Fakes and forgeries (Things that are not what they seem to be)

tourist destination and tourist attraction

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The World's Most-visited Tourist Attractions

Since 1971, Travel + Leisure editors have followed one mission: to inform, inspire, and guide travelers to have deeper, more meaningful experiences. T+L's editors have traveled to countries all over the world, having flown, sailed, road tripped, and taken the train countless miles. They've visited small towns and big cities, hidden gems and popular destinations, beaches and mountains, and everything in between. With a breadth of knowledge about destinations around the globe, air travel, cruises, hotels, food and drinks, outdoor adventure, and more, they are able to take their real-world experience and provide readers with tried-and-tested trip ideas, in-depth intel, and inspiration at every point of a journey.

For nearly 500 years, the emperors living within Beijing's opulent Forbidden City dictated who could enter and leave. Well, the gates have opened, and tourists are pouring in to see it all for themselves. Attendance is up by 2.5 million since 2010.

The Forbidden City is a dream destination for some Americans, but most have never researched a trip to Everland or Lotte World. Yet these South Korean theme parks also rank among the world's 50 most-visited tourist attractions—beating out the Eiffel Tower (nearly 7 million), the Great Pyramids (4 million), and Stonehenge (1 million). And there are more surprises.

Where we choose to spend our vacation time says a lot about what we value. Despite—or perhaps because of—what the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) calls "global economic challenges," more travelers are hitting the road than ever. International tourist arrivals increased by five percent in 2013, according to the UNWTO. That translates to a record of more than one billion trips. With its population of 1.36 billion, China has become the second-largest exporter of tourists. Russia, now the fifth-largest outbound market, increased travel spending by 26 percent.

Like it or not, theme parks clearly have worldwide appeal. France's Disneyland Park draws about the same number of visitors (10.5 million) as Sacré Coeur, and four of the world's 20 most-visited tourist attractions are Disney parks.

Many inspiring and iconic places can't quite keep up. The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum narrowly missed the top 50, as did the British Museum in London (6.7 million), the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (6.3 million), and the Roman Colosseum and Forum (5.1 million each). The Berlin Wall Memorial Site logged only 500,000 visitors in 2013, though extra crowds arrived in November 2014 for the 25th anniversary of its fall.

Accessibility can be a factor. It takes extra effort to reach Yellowstone National Park (3.2 million) or the Terracotta Army in Xi'an, China (4.8 million). And Peru's Machu Picchu has restricted tourism to help maintain the site's integrity; only 2,500 can enter per day, or 912,500 per year.

So what is the most-visited tourist attraction in the world? And can 91 million people be wrong? Read on to see the results—and an explanation of our methods for calculating it all.

Julie Bang/Travel + Leisure

The Methodology: To tally up the world's most-visited attractions, we gathered the most recent data supplied by the attractions themselves or from government agencies, industry reports, and reputable media outlets. In most cases, it was 2013 data. Attractions that don't sell tickets gave us estimates as best they could.

We defined "tourist attractions" as cultural and historical sites, natural landmarks, and officially designated spaces. So Boston's shop-filled Faneuil Hall Marketplace (est. 1742) made the cut, but not Minnesota's Mall of America, which, with 40 million annual visitors, would otherwise have tied for No. 4. Short walkways and plazas also fit our definition of tourist attractions; that disqualified the Blue Ridge Parkway. We also omitted beaches, bridges, and sites that draw almost exclusively religious pilgrims.

Reported by Kate Appleton, Rich Beattie, Adrien Glover, Lyndsey Matthews, April Orcutt, Joshua Pramis, and Ann Shields

No. 1 Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

Annual Visitors: 91,250,000

Hand-painted ceramics, lanterns, intricately patterned carpets, copperware, gold Byzantine-style jewelry, and more eye-catching products vie for your attention within this 15th-century bazaar's vaulted walkways. It has since expanded and become increasingly touristy, but locals, too, are among the millions of bargain hunters. To haggle like a pro, lowball your starting offer and don't be afraid to walk away. And if it all gets overwhelming, break for a succulent doner kebab or strong cup of Turkish coffee.

Source: Grand Bazaar management

No. 2 The Zócalo, Mexico City

Jorge Castro/Travel + Leisure

Annual Visitors: 85,000,000

Formally known as the Plaza de la Constitución, the enormous Zócalo thrums with activity. It hosts military parades, cultural and political events, concerts, exhibitions, fairs, and public art installations. Metropolitan Cathedral and the National Palace flank this historic public square, and an imposing Mexican flag, raised and lowered daily, waves over the scene.

Source: Mexico Tourism Board

No. 3 Times Square, New York City

Annual Visitors: 50,000,000

Tourists flock to New York 's neon heart for the flashing lights, Broadway shows, megastores, and sheer spectacle—including costumed characters eager to pose for photo ops. Pedestrian-only areas with café tables introduced a few years ago have made it easier and more appealing to hang out here. Times Square can even be a convenient, if chaotic, base, thanks to hotels at every price point and easy access to public transportation: subways, rails, buses, and more yellow taxis than you can count.

Source: The Times Square Alliance

No. 4 (tie) Central Park, New York City

Annual Visitors: 40,000,000

New York has larger green spaces, but none is more famous than Central Park , which stretches across nearly 850 acres of prime Manhattan real estate—an oasis for both tourists and locals. You can ride in one of the horse-drawn carriages, check out the modest-size zoo, climb to the top of 19th-century Belvedere Castle, or take a break from pounding the pavement to sprawl on the Great Lawn, gazing at the skyscrapers above.

Source: Central Park Conservancy

No. 4 (tie) Union Station, Washington, D.C.

Opened in 1907, this busy station shuttles some 12,500 passengers daily in and out of Washington, D.C. But it also handles millions of tourists who pass through to take in the impeccably mixed architectural styles throughout the colossal building: from Classical to Beaux-Arts to Baroque. More than 70 retail outlets make Union Station a shopping destination, and it's also a jumping-off point for many D.C. tours.

Source: Union Station

No. 6 Las Vegas Strip

Annual Visitors: 30,500,000

In 2013, 77 percent of Vegas tourists—30.5 million—chose to stay at hotels right on the four-mile-long Strip. And why not? Roll out of bed and onto the Strip to catch the Bellagio fountains in action, shop, gamble, and, of course, people-watch (which can get especially fun later at night). For a cool new vantage point, hop aboard the High Roller , a 550-foot-tall Ferris wheel that debuted in March 2014. It's part of Linq, a flashy 300,000-square-foot shopping and entertainment complex by Caesars.

Source: Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority

No. 7 (tie) Meiji Jingu Shrine, Tokyo

Annual Visitors: 30,000,000

Built more than 100 years ago to honor the divine souls of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken, this Shinto shrine in bustling Tokyo is a peaceful haven surrounded by a holy forest of more than 100,000 trees. Seasonal gardens feature spring azaleas, summer irises, brilliant autumn leaves on Japanese maples and ginkgos, and black pines dusted with winter snow.

Source: Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO)

No. 7 (tie) Senso-ji Temple, Tokyo

Tokyo's oldest temple was dedicated to the Bodhisattva Kannon, the most compassionate Buddha, in 628. Dramatic nighttime illumination highlights vermilion and crimson detailing in the Five-Storied Pagoda. Continuing centuries-long tradition, stalls along the temple's Nakamise Street sell food and goods to pilgrims, whose numbers swell around New Year's.

No. 9 Niagara Falls, New York and Ontario

Annual Visitors: 22,000,000

Straddling the border of the U.S. and Canada, three massive waterfalls, together called Niagara Falls , spill about 6 million cubic feet of water—from a maximum vertical drop of 165 feet—every minute. While there are about 500 taller waterfalls in the world, Niagara Falls is spectacular for its sheer power. It's also more accessible than many major falls, a short flight or drive for millions of regional tourists.

Source: Niagara Tourism & Convention Corp./Canadian Tourism Commission

No. 10 Grand Central Terminal, New York City

Annual Visitors : 21,600,00

Unlike harried commuters, visitors take their time in the main concourse of this Beaux-Arts landmark , pausing to view its glittering ceiling painted with a map of the constellations from the night sky. Shops, an annual holiday market, special events, and restaurants also attract attention. Two of the grandest venues are the Campbell Apartment, serving craft cocktails, and the historic Oyster Bar —featured on AMC's Mad Men —which shucks 2 million fresh bivalves a year.

Source: Grand Central Terminal

No. 11 Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico City

Annual Visitors: 20,000,000

The Old Basilica , begun in the 16th century and completed in 1709, stands in stark contrast to the massive new basilica, designed by the Mexican architect Pedro Ramírez Vázquez, which was built in the mid-1970s and looks like a sports arena. It is, in fact, intended to hold 50,000 people, who come for mass—celebrated several times a day—and to see an image of the Virgin Mary that is said to have appeared on an apron in 1531.

No. 12 Disney World's Magic Kingdom, Orlando, FL

Annual Visitors: 18,588,000

The Most Magical Place on Earth is high on virtually every family's to-do list and remains the most-visited theme park on the earth. Expanded Fantasyland now includes the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train family-style roller coaster and a chance to meet Anna and Elsa from the smash-hit Frozen in the Princess Fairytale Hall near Cinderella Castle. Time-tested attractions include the Jungle Cruise and Space Mountain, the daily Disney character parade down Main Street, USA, and a fireworks spectacular that lights up the sky many nights.

Source: TEA/AECOM Global Attractions Attendance Report

No. 13 Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston

Annual Visitors: 18,000,000

Dating back to 1742, Faneuil Hall ("the Cradle of Liberty") once hosted speeches by such greats as Samuel Adams and George Washington. Today, the downtown marketplace has more than 100 specialty shops and eateries and occupies a pedestrian-only, cobblestoned area that swarms with tourists and street performers. Each winter, Faneuil Hall also hosts Boston's tallest Christmas tree, along with festive light displays and choirs.

Source: Faneuil Hall Marketplace

No. 14 Tokyo Disneyland

Annual Visitors: 17,214,000

Disney's Tokyo outpost has become the second most-visited theme park in the world (beating out Anaheim, CA's Disneyland, which held that title in 2010). It shares the sweetness of the original parks' Fantasyland with Peter Pan's Flight and Dumbo the Flying Elephant as well as Tomorrowland's Space Mountain and Star Tours—The Adventures Continue. A musical soundtrack and other renovations have improved the Adventureland classic: Jungle Cruise Wildlife Expedition, while a new after-dark night cruise promises more surprises.

No. 15 Disneyland Park, Anaheim, CA

Annual Visitors: 16,202,000

Though not as massive as its Orlando counterpart, the original Disney park , which occupies about 85 acres of land, has retro charm and some better features. Here the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction lasts almost twice as long and ends in a humid southern bayou with fireflies (instead of a gift shop). The Indiana Jones Adventure ride careens over lava, past swarms of beetles, and under that 16-foot rolling boulder. Thrill-seekers will also appreciate that the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad has reopened.

No. 16 Forbidden City, Beijing

Annual Visitors: 15,340,000

It doesn't have a street address—which is only fitting for a place that was once considered the center of the universe. Nowadays, tourists swarm this 178-acre walled compound of opulent halls, gardens, and winged pavilions. Attendance is up by 2.5 million since 2010. It can easily take half a day to explore the grounds, and history buffs will appreciate the self-guided audio tour—or a hired guide.

Source: Forbidden City Palace Museum and China Odyssey Tours

No. 17 Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco

Annual Visitors: 14,289,121

Beaches, cliffs, hills, forts, and towering redwood trees make up the Golden Gate National Recreation Area , easily accessible from San Francisco. Many visitors come to embrace the outdoors, whether hiking, biking, swimming, birding, riding horses, or whale-watching. But this scenic area is also rich in history and includes landmarks like Alcatraz prison and the Presidio, an 18th-century military post. You can even base yourself within the recreation area; Cavallo Point's rooms and suites occupy restored turn-of-the-20th-century Colonial Revival buildings that overlook San Francisco Bay .

Source: National Park Service

No. 18 Tokyo DisneySea

Annual Visitors: 14,084,000

DisneySea , the companion park to Tokyo Disneyland overlooking Tokyo Bay, took inspiration from aquatic myths, legends and the lore of the sea. Divided into seven "ports of call," the park emphasizes water attractions with Venetian gondolas, a Mermaid Lagoon, a journey to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and an Aquatopia with quirky boats in a sea of rocks, whirlpools and water spouts. But it's not all fountains and bubbles—the park also has scary rides like the Tower of Terror, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull.

No. 19 Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

Annual Visitors: 14,000,000

A masterpiece of Gothic architecture—all soaring buttresses, crouching gargoyles, and magnificent rose windows— Notre Dame has survived attacks of Huguenots, sansculottes, occupying armies, and questionable renovations since its completion in 1345. In spite of its often violent past, visitors flock to the cathedral for the hushed peace and reflection it provides, even in the midst of Paris.

Source: Atout France, the France Tourism Development Agency

No. 20 Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Annual Visitors: 13,000,000

Cascading three miles from the Panhandle down to the Pacific, Golden Gate Park serves as playground and haven for this diverse city. The park's offerings include museums (the de Young Museum and the Academy of Sciences), botanical wonders (the Conservatory of Flowers, the Japanese Tea Garden, a rhododendron forest, and more than 75,000 trees, among others), sporting fields and courts, playgrounds, and even a small herd of buffalo.

Source: San Francisco Recreation & Park Department

No. 21 Balboa Park, San Diego

Chelsea Loren/Travel + Leisure

Annual Visitors: 12,000,000 to 14,000,000

Balboa Park's 1,200 acres form a mini-city with 15 accredited museums, 19 gardens, nine performing arts groups, a miniature railroad, a golf course, tennis courts, lawn bowling, a gymnasium, a historic carousel, and a Super Sonic Samba School. Not to mention the world-famous San Diego Zoo , with three crowd-pleasing giant pandas. Balboa Park also features the Spreckels Organ, whose 4,518 pipes range from the size of a pencil to 32 feet tall.

Source: Balboa Park

No. 22 South Street Seaport, New York City

Annual Visitors: 12,000,000

This 12-block historic East River site in Lower Manhattan dates back to the 1600s, and its cobblestoned streets are packed with shops and restaurants. Pier 17 will reopen in 2016 after undergoing extensive renovation. Commercialism aside, the history runs deep here and is perhaps best experienced on one of the two 1800s tall-masted schooners the South Street Seaport Museum maintains. Go for a sunset sail with Gotham as a backdrop.

Source: The Howard Hughes Corporation

No. 23 San Antonio River Walk, San Antonio, TX

Annual Visitors: 11,500,000

Cypress-lined cobble-and-flagstone paths meander for four miles along both sides of the narrow San Antonio River. Locals and visitors come to the River Walk's horseshoe-shaped loop downtown to browse shops and hang out at restaurants like Boudro's for a prickly-pear margarita and guacamole prepared tableside. The Museum Reach river walk section stretches an additional 1.7 miles north, past art installations under every bridge and the San Antonio Museum of Art.

Source: San Antonio River Walk (Paseo del Rio)

No. 24 Epcot, Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista, FL

Michela Sieman/Travel + Leisure

Annual Visitors: 11,229,000

Built to honor the late Walt Disney's utopian ideal of the innovative future (the name is an acronym for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow), Epcot attracts guests who skew a little older than those of its neighbor, the Magic Kingdom. Restaurants are aimed at more sophisticated palates, and annual celebrations include a flower and garden show and an international food and wine festival. Perennial favorite rides like Soarin', Mission: SPACE, and The Seas with Nemo & Friends keep the kids and kids-at-heart happy. Expect visits to the Norway pavilion to spike when a Frozen -themed ride debuts in 2016.

No. 25 St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Italy

Annual Visitors: 11,000,000

One of the holiest Catholic sites, St. Peter's Basilica teems with ornate gold, marble columns, paintings of angels, iconic statues, and works created by a who's who of Renaissance artists, including Raphael, Brunelleschi, Bernini, and Michelangelo, who sculpted the marble Pietà and designed the massive dome. For a nominal fee, you can climb 320 steps to the top and soak up the most famous panorama of Rome.

Source: Italian Government Tourist Board

No. 26 Great Wall of China

Annual Visitors: 10,720,000 (Badaling and Mutianyu areas combined)

Once used as a wartime defense, the Great Wall winds "like a dragon tail" from eastern China to western, spanning some 5,500 miles. While much of what is visible today was built during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), construction began on various sections as far back as 770 B.C. Credit goes to the million slaves and prisoners of war who carried blocks of granite, bricks, stones, and dirt on their backs up to the top of the ridgelines. The Badaling section, closest to Beijing, draws the biggest crowds. Word has gotten out, inspiring some travelers to make the longer drive to the more serene Mutianyu section.

Source: National Tourism Administration of the People's Republic of China and China Odyssey Tours

No. 27 Sacré Coeur Basilica, Paris

Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure

Annual Visitors: 10,500,000

Sacré Coeur lures visitors to the summit of Montmartre for a litany of reasons—while some come to pray and meditate, most come for the remarkable 360-degree views of the City of Light from its highest vantage point. The construction of the basilica, which started in 1871, was intended to restore peace to a site stained by violence during the Paris Commune.

No. 28 Disneyland Park, Marne-la-Vallée, France

Annual Visitors: 10,430,000

When Disney's first European theme park opened in 1992, many French protested the "cultural imperialism" of such an American symbol opening 40 minutes outside of Paris. Today it's one of the most-visited locations in Europe. So be prepared to queue for popular rides like It's a Small World, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast. A 3D ride inspired by the film Ratatouille opened in 2014; enter through a replica of Gusteau's restaurant.

No. 29 Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista, FL

Annual Visitors: 10,198,000

Since 1998, this animal-themed park has successfully marketed Mickey Mouse and silverback gorillas under one all-inclusive "roof." If it has four legs or wings or a tail, chances are you'll find it at this zoo/museum/school theme park. Don't miss the Kilimanjaro Safaris, Expedition Everest, or the 14-story Tree of Life sculpture carved with some 325 animals. Fun fact: at one point park creators also wanted to include a section for mythological creatures called "Beastly Kingdom."

No. 30 Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista, FL

Annual Visitors: 10,110,000

Disney describes this park (est. 1989) as " the Hollywood that never was and always will be ." Laid out much like a real-life motion picture studio, with a 154-acre network of streets and buildings and miniature replicas of famous landmarks, it showcases the golden age of film. But most kids make a beeline to Toy Story Midway Mania! at Pixar Place and Star Tours—The Adventures Continue.

No. 31 Universal Studios Japan, Osaka, Japan

Annual Visitors: 10,100,000

Opened in 2001 and a near twin to its Orlando sibling—albeit one with more sushi— this popular movie theme park is one of four operated by Universal in Japan. Highlights include a Jaws -like shark encounter, Jurassic Park roller-coaster ride, Sesame Street in 4-D, and now the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Interesting fact: investment banking firm Goldman Sachs is the park's largest shareholder.

No. 32 Hollywood Walk of Fame, Hollywood, CA

Annual Visitors: 10,000,000 to 12,000,000

Nothing says Hollywood like the (literally) star-studded Walk of Fame , with each star bearing the name of a celebrity with enough cachet to be immortalized on the street. That means stars from James Dean and Marilyn Monroe to, more recently, Tina Fey and Neil Patrick Harris.

Source: Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board

No. 33 Pike Place Market, Seattle

Annual Visitors: 10,000,000

One of the oldest continually operating farmers' markets in the U.S. (est. 1907), this nine-acre National Historic District is famous for kitschy Seattle souvenirs, salmon-throwing fishmongers, and its "gum wall" installation art. The many seafood restaurants include Market Grill and Emmett Watson's for oysters. It's just down the street from one of the original Starbucks—complete with an early-edition logo featuring a more, er, risqué mermaid.

Source: Pike Place Market

No. 34 Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee

Annual Visitors: 9,345,695

Originally Cherokee homeland, America's most-visited national park first opened in 1940 and covers some 520,000 acres of protected Tennessee and North Carolina forestland that's bisected by the Appalachian Trail. Whether hiking Chimney Tops (or any of the 800 miles of trails) or driving the super-scenic U.S. Highway 441, visitors are sure to get an eyeful of the mystical haze that inspired the park's name. To escape the crowds, park ranger Caitlin Worth recommends heading to Balsam Mountain Road, a high-elevation gravel road accessible from the southern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

No. 35 Musée du Louvre, Paris

Annual Visitors: 9,334,000

The world's largest museum is both the subject of ongoing architectural controversy—not everyone agrees with the 1989 addition of I. M. Pei's 69-foot-high glass pyramid entrance—and an art-lover's wonderland of some 35,000 masterworks. Throngs parade through the former 12th-century palace to see such famous highlights as Leonardo da Vinci's smiling La Gioconda , a.k.a. Mona Lisa —a painting that, rumor has it, was originally commissioned by François I to hang in his château at Fontainebleau . And the crush of visitors continues to increase, up about 10 percent since 2010. One tip: avoid peak crowds by timing your arrival to Wednesday or Friday evening, when the museum is open until 9:45 p.m.

No. 36 Navy Pier, Chicago

Annual Visitors: 8,900,000

While the USS Chicago —docked at the end of the pier—is a reminder of its World War I military past, this bustling Lake Michigan promenade now caters to civilians with a mix of carnival rides, dancing fountains, trinket stalls, an IMAX theater, and local food favorites Garrett Popcorn and Billy Goat Tavern. Don't miss the exceptional stained-glass museum featuring colorful works by Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Source: Navy Pier

No. 37 Disney's California Adventure, Anaheim, CA

Annual Visitors: 8,514,000

Cars Land, a 12-acre real-life rendition of Radiator Springs from the films that pay homage to Route 66 and retro-cars culture, remains a big draw at Disney's California Adventure . Guests "racing" in the Radiator Springs Racers attraction never know which car will get the checkered flag. Most fun, though, is still Soarin' Over California, a simulated hang-glider flight over the Golden State complete with motion, wind, and the sweet scent of orange blossoms.

No. 38 Sydney Opera House, Sydney

Annual Visitors: 8,200,000

With its dramatic cantilevered roof and harbor setting, the Sydney Opera House is easily Australia's most recognizable landmark—and its most visited. Few tourists leave Sydney without at least stopping here for a photo op. But you can do much more: go backstage for a tour, attend one of the 40-plus weekly performances, and watch the sun set over the city and Sydney Harbour Bridge from the alfresco Opera Bar. Make your grand exit on the scenic Manly Ferry, which passes right by.

Source: Sydney Opera House

No. 39 Universal's Islands of Adventure, Orlando, FL

Number of Visitors: 8,141,000

Hogwarts fans went hog wild when Islands of Adventure opened the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in 2010, and the attendance numbers continue to reflect Harry's magic touch. Shops, restaurants (The Three Broomsticks), and rides are all branded with the boy wizard; nonbelievers can find rides themed with Marvel superheroes and other trademarked characters. The Jurassic Park River Adventure, for instance, is a hairy river-raft ride with a terrifying T. rex attack, set in a habitat for animatronic dinosaurs.

No. 40 (tie) Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.

Annual Visitors: 8,000,000

Dinosaur fossils, a huge stuffed elephant, and an insect zoo have been wowing kids for generations (and for free). The 126-million-item collection even includes the notorious Hope Diamond. But this National Mall favorite continues to innovate, in the last few years opening the Ocean Hall and the ambitious Hall of Human Origins, where visitors come face-to-face with specimens and models of their ancestors.

No. 40 (tie) Grand Palace, Bangkok

Number of Visitors: 8,000,000

The gold-spired Grand Palace in Bangkok is one of Thailand's most important sacred sites. The riverfront complex, built in 1782, housed Thai kings for 150 years. The Outer Court serves as the visitor entrance today; the Center Court was the king's residence; and the Inner Court, the quarters of his consorts and daughters. Keep an eye out for Wat Phra Kaew, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, located near the Outer Court.

Source: Thailand Tourist Services

No. 40 (tie) Pier 39, San Francisco

Melissa Zink/Travel + Leisure

Of course it's corny—replete with candy shops, T-shirt emporiums, stuffed animals, and fried food—but this tourist magnet at the edge of Fisherman's Wharf offers great views of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. Perhaps the wooden pier's biggest attraction is the noisy community of sea lions that bark and bask on the docks. Aquarium of the Bay is by the pier's entrance.

Source: PIER 39

No. 43 Palace of Versailles, France

Annual Visitors: 7,527,122

King Louis XIV did a pretty nice job redoing a place that started out as a mere hunting lodge and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's so nice, in fact, that people willingly trade a day in Paris cafés for the experience of wandering Versailles' hallways, like the gilded Hall of Mirrors—the best place to channel your inner Sun King.

No. 44 Ocean Park, Hong Kong

Annual Visitors: 7,475,000

Sure, there are roller coasters, but this 40-acre theme park stands out for attractions that are more down to earth. There's Panda Village, where, despite the name, visitors come to see playful otters; Pacific Pier, where you can feed seals and sea lions; and the Sea Jelly Spectacular, where you can marvel at some 1,000 jellyfish, including many phosphorescent species. A mountain divides the park, which you can navigate by bus, train, even cable car. (It's a bus ride away from central Hong Kong.)

No. 45 Bourbon Street, New Orleans

Annual Visitors: 7,470,000

You'd have to be a pretty big curmudgeon for Bourbon Street not to put you in a good mood. Free-flowing music and booze might have something to do with it. Restaurants and bars pack this historic strip of the French Quarter; Jean Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop is even rumored to be haunted. Of course, if you really like crowds, grab your mask and join the Mardi Gras circus.

Source: New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau

No. 46 National Museum of China, Beijing

Annual Visitors: 7,450,000

This museum on Tiananmen Square measures 2.07 million square feet—surpassing New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art's 2 million square feet—and reopened in 2011 after a decade-long renovation. It presents 5,000 years of Chinese history, as approved by the Ministry of Culture. (In other words, don't expect much on the Great Leap Forward.) Artifacts include ancient Chinese Buddhist sculptures, a cowboy hat Deng Xiaoping wore on a visit to the U.S., and glazed pottery from the Tang dynasty. The museum also hosts temporary shows on subjects ranging from Leo Tolstoy to African art.

No. 47 (tie) Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong

Annual Visitors: 7,400,000

Hong Kong Disneyland features tried-and-true crowd-pleasers like Sleeping Beauty's castle and Space Mountain as well as the recent additions of Mystic Point (2013), Grizzly Gulch (2012) and Toy Story Land (2011), increasing the park's size in the last three years by 25 percent. What sets this park apart from the others? It was designed according to the Chinese rules of feng shui in a nod to local culture. It also has a dedicated stop on Hong Kong's efficient metro.

No. 47 (tie) Lotte World, Seoul

The world's largest indoor theme park is just the beginning of a complex that seems as big as Seoul itself. An outdoor amusement park, a folk museum, theaters, malls, an aquarium, and other venues round it out, along with—of course—plenty of karaoke machines.

No. 49 Everland, Gyeonggi-Do, South Korea

Annual Visitors: 7,303,000

Everland amusement park in South Korea has been thrilling kids since 1973 and knows how to keep them coming. The park is divided into themed sections that range from American Adventure (a rodeo experience, a wildly swinging Columbus ship) to Zoo-Topia (Amazon River ride, Safari World). It holds the record for the world's steepest wooden roller coaster.

No. 50 Taj Mahal, Agra, India

Annual Visitors: 7,000,000 to 8,000,000

The Taj Mahal is a graceful tribute to eternal love—a mausoleum that a 17th-century Moghul emperor built for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Gardens and reflecting pools with fountains lead to the mausoleum made of white marble with inlaid flower patterns made of semiprecious stones. The number of visitors has more than doubled since 2010 (when it welcomed 3 million).

Source: Department of Tourism, Government of Uttar Pradesh

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18 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in the USA

Written by Lana Law Updated Sep 16, 2022

The United States is home to some of the most spectacular scenery in the world and some of the most recognizable icons on the planet . Many of the top attractions in the United States are bucket list destinations, drawing visitors from around the world.

Compiling a list of places to see is step one. But keep in mind, given the size of the United States, most people plan their trips to a specific region, be it the East Coast, the Southwest, the beaches of Florida or California , or outlying regions like Hawaii and Alaska.

You may want to see the city sights, or head out to the top parks and natural areas in the US . In some cases, you can easily combine the two if you plan a day trip or two.

Plenty of options await you, with incredible sights sprinkled across the country. For anyone in the enviable position of having unlimited time and resources, these are the top attractions to include on your US itinerary.

1. Grand Canyon

2. niagara falls, 3. statue of liberty, 4. white house, 5. walt disney world resort, 7. las vegas strip, 8. yosemite national park, 9. golden gate bridge, 10. times square, 11. freedom trail in boston, 12. yellowstone national park, 13. san antonio river walk, 14. kennedy space center, 15. st. louis arch, 16. glacier national park and the going-to-the-sun road, 17. mount rushmore national memorial, 18. sedona's red rock country.

Grand Canyon

This incredible natural attraction is one of the most visited places in the United States. Carved out by the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon cuts deep into the landscape, creating dramatic cliff walls and ledges. Visitors standing on the rim of the canyon can see down to the canyon floor a mile below, and look out over the ridges and cliffs that run as far as the eye can see.

The South Rim , about 4.5 hours by car from Las Vegas, is the most visited section of Grand Canyon National Park. This is where you'll find a large visitor center, regular bus service along the Rim in the high season, and a walkway that runs along the canyon with numerous viewing points and platforms. Several wonderful hikes , including the Bright Angel Trail, leave from here.

Grand Canyon

The Skywalk , a glass bridge leading out over the edge of the Grand Canyon is another popular attraction. It is located at Eagle Point, on the West Rim . This area is about a four-hour drive from the South Rim, but usually less than a 2.5-hour drive from Las Vegas. If you are planning a day trip from Las Vegas, this area is a good option

The North Rim, which also has lookout areas, provides a different perspective. This section of the park is less visited and has limited access from November to May due to snow and winter conditions.

Read More: Top Tourist Attractions at the Grand Canyon

Niagara Falls

Situated along the Canada-US border, Niagara Falls is one of the most famous waterfalls in the world . The water from Lake Erie flows into Lake Ontario over these massive waterfalls, known for the great quantity of water that is constantly tumbling over the vertical drop.

Niagara Falls is actually a set of three falls: It consists of the largest section, known as Horseshoe Falls, with a drop of 187 feet; a second section on the American side of the river, known as the American Falls, with a drop of 89 feet; and a much thinner section located next to the American Falls, known as Bridal Veil Falls, with a drop of 78 feet.

Views are good on both sides of the river, but the Canadian side gives a very different perspective and is worth a visit if you don't mind crossing the border into Canada.

View of American Falls in winter from the Canadian side

Summer is the most popular time to visit Niagara Falls, when the weather is warm, gardens are in bloom, and wandering around is pleasant. Winter provides a unique opportunity to see the snow-covered shores and ice-covered railings, street signs, and trees. It's truly a winter wonderland.

On clear days, the plume of mist rising from Niagara Falls can be seen from as far away as the CN Tower in downtown Toronto, Canada, on the opposite shore of Lake Ontario.

  • Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Niagara Falls, NY
  • From New York City to Niagara Falls: Best Ways to Get There

Statue of Liberty

A universal symbol of freedom, the Statue of Liberty is America's most familiar icon and the largest statue in the world . Standing proudly in New York Harbor, visitors can admire the statue from various points around the city, particularly Battery Park, or take a ferry right to the statue.

For people who plan to go out to the statue, options include grounds tickets, pedestal tickets, or crown tickets, which allow different levels of access to the site. One of the best options is to take a sightseeing tour and see both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

Official site:

Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in New York City

White House

The White House is the official residence of the President of the United States, and should be on the top of your list of things to see in Washington . This historic structure has been the home of every president except George Washington. Lafayette Park is on the north side of the White House; beyond is a pedestrian-only zone, full of interesting characters, and an excellent spot to get a great photo.

It was originally built by James Hoban in 1792 and, after being burned down by British forces in 1814, was rebuilt in 1818. Tours of the White House are free, but reservations must be made a minimum of three weeks in advance. Strict security rules are always in effect.

Official site:

Walt Disney World Resort

This mega amusement park in Orlando is the top family attraction in America, and has been catering to both young and old for decades. Opened in 1971, Walt Disney World has managed to maintain its relevance and its allure for children and even many adults throughout the years.

Walt Disney World Resort encompasses not only the various theme parks, it also includes water parks, Downtown Disney with shopping and theaters, and much more, from fine dining to golf. This is a place where you can spend a day or a week.

If you feel the need for a bit of sand and surf, the beaches of Florida's Atlantic coast are only an hour away.


Home to the most popular beach in the Hawaiian Islands and possibly the most famous beach in the Pacific, Waikiki has been a tourist destination for over a century. Today this area is a cross between tropical paradise and modern city.

Relaxing on this beautiful stretch of sand with palm trees blowing in the wind will certainly let you know you are in the tropics, but the high-rise buildings and busy street in behind are a reminder that you are not far from civilization. Shopping, dining, surfing, and sunbathing are all part of what makes this small section of Oahu so popular with tourists of all ages from all parts of the world.

Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things To Do in Waikiki

Las Vegas Strip

Walking along the Las Vegas Strip, the main street leading through the city past the mega resorts, is like strolling through an amusement park for adults. Recreations of the New York skyline, the Eiffel Tower, the canals of Venice, and many more foreign sites line this famous street.

Beginning at one end with the Luxor Hotel, designed in a pyramid shape, a walk down the street will reveal an erupting volcano and dancing fountains, while inside the resorts are all kinds of oddities and entertainment. Many of the best things to see and do in Las Vegas are sights that can be seen for free.

One of the main attractions in Las Vegas is the constant lineup of shows. World-famous singers looking to settle down turn to Las Vegas as a home base, where they perform regularly. Unique performing groups from magic to comedy and acrobatics can also be found here nightly.

When you've had enough of the nightlife and city lights, you can still explore the nearby attractions on a day trip from Las Vegas . See nearby Death Valley National Park, Hoover Dam, or Valley of Fire State Park. Explore the desert on hiking trails around Las Vegas , some of which are just minutes from downtown.

Yosemite National Park

One of America's most loved parks, Yosemite National Park is one of the best places to visit in California , particularly for nature lovers. Famous sights, like the incredible granite domes of El Capitan and Half Dome, have to be seen in person to fully appreciate their grandeur. The massive waterfalls that tumble off sheer cliffs from mountain snowfall or sudden summer rainstorms are another of the park's highlights.

Yosemite National Park is full of activity-based things to do that include hiking, climbing, walking, and horseback riding. Hiking trails in Yosemite lead to some of the most scenic areas and are a good way to escape the crowds at lookouts.

View of Half Dome from Glacier Point

For those less inclined to be physically active, the sheer natural beauty of Yosemite can be enjoyed from a picnic table over a leisurely home-packed lunch. You can also see the highlights on a driving tour through the park.

Accommodation is limited in the park to several lodges and a number of very nice campgrounds . Outside the gates, more options are available.

Golden Gate Bridge

Arching across San Francisco Bay, joining San Francisco and Marin County, the Golden Gate Bridge has been a California icon since it was built in the 1930s. Contrasting with the blue water, the bridge's orangish-red color is an aesthetic accent that brings a unique quality to the city.

It also has a unique presence when it's shrouded in fog with just the peaks of the main towers projecting through the low-lying cloud. The bridge is approximately two miles long and part of Hwy 101 or SR 1. If the day is clear, one of the best viewing spots is on Conzelman Road, located in Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Read More: Top Attractions & Things to Do in San Francisco

Times Square

Bustling Times Square, famous for its flashing billboards, New Year's Eve count down, and constant throngs of people, lies at the heart of Midtown Manhattan. This intersection, in normal times, is really about the energy one feels when standing on the corner as taxi cabs rush by and lights flash overhead, rather than any individual site on the square.

While it is an interesting place to visit during the day, it is probably best seen at night to experience the full impact.

Freedom Trail in Boston

Boston's Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile walking route that leads past some of the city's most important historical attractions. A line of red bricks, inlaid in the sidewalk marks the route, making it an easy way for tourists to find their way around.

Information on the trail and the sites can be found at the Visitors Center in the Boston Common , which is a good place to start your tour. Sites along the Freedom Trail include the State House, Old State House, the Old Granary Burying Ground, Old City Hall, Faneuil Hall, Paul Revere House, and many more.

Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Boston

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is home to a huge ancient volcano, which has resulted in a dramatic landscape and awesome natural phenomena. Geysers and hot springs, along with incredible waterfalls along the Yellowstone River are just some of the attractions drawing in huge numbers of tourists each year.

The park, the oldest national park in the USA, is also home to all kinds of wildlife, with free-roaming bison, bighorn sheep, antelope, black bears, and grizzly bears.

The park is also a wonderful place to camp, with a total of 12 Yellowstone campgrounds containing 2,000 sites.

Read More: Visiting Yellowstone National Park: Attractions, Tips & Tours

San Antonio River Walk

San Antonio's River Walk is a beautiful location and a great place to spend some time, whether you are looking for a place to wander, enjoy a meal, or look for souvenirs. Stretching along the San Antonio River in the heart of the city, this pedestrian area is lined with restaurants and outdoor dining areas, with everything from casual to fine cuisine.

Small boats meander along the river and scenic arching bridges complete the tranquil scene. Large old trees drape over the river and walkway providing shade. The River Walk also features a variety of entertainment, with occasional live music and seasonal events.

Official site:

Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in San Antonio

Shuttle Atlantis at Cape Canaveral, Kennedy Space Center

For those who have ever dreamed about what it would be like to blast off into space, a trip to the Kennedy Space Center is a must-do. The spacecrafts of NASA along with the history of space exploration make for an entertaining and educational experience. This is a popular attraction with all ages and one of the top things to do in Florida .

You may think that your visit will be a quick one; see a few spaceships and then head on your way. However, many people are surprised when they become fully engrossed in their visit and end up spending most of the day at the center.

Things to see include the rocket garden, the real Space Shuttle Atlantis, the Heroes and Legends exhibit, and the Journey to Mars exposition, along with many others.

Official site:

St Louis Arch

This famous "Gateway to the West" in St. Louis is both symbolic and eye-catching. Rising above the city, gleaming in the midday sun and illuminated at night, the arch can be seen from miles away on the otherwise flat surroundings.

It was built in the early 1960s and stands in Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Park . Elevators offer easy and scenic transportation to the top of the arch where visitors are treated to great views out over the city and surroundings.

Official site:

Glacier National Park

Montana's Glacier National Park offers some of the most beautiful mountain scenery in the United States. Mountains, lakes, glaciers, valleys, and waterfalls combine to form a spectacular alpine landscape.

One of the best ways to truly appreciate the terrain is from the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road. This narrow road, hugging the mountain side as it winds its way up and over the 7,747-foot Logan pass, opened in 1932.

Due to the elevation and climate, the road is only open during the summer months. The sights along this road are superlative, and you'll likely find yourself stopping at handy pullouts to soak it all up.

Glacier National Park also has some unique historic lodges, including the East Lodge, with it's huge timbered interior. The park is also a top hiking destination in the state. Hiking trails lead to wonderful alpine vistas if you're willing to put in a bit of effort.

The park is relatively isolated, so most people plan to visit for a few days. Accommodation is available in the historic lodges and hotels in West Glacier, and if you feel like camping in Glacier National Park , 13 campgrounds are available.

Read More: Top Things to Do in Glacier National Park

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

If you find yourself in South Dakota, don't miss a chance to see Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Towering above the surrounding forest are the faces of four US Presidents: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Theodore Roosevelt.

This incredible achievement was created by one man, John Gutzon de la Mothe Borglum, and upon his death, finished off by his son Lincoln. The hard work of carving giant heads out of stone started in 1927 and continued on for many years until its completion in 1941.

The national memorial is a popular attraction, especially in the summer. Try to plan to arrive early in the day to avoid the crowds.

Hiking in Sedona

Just a wonderfully scenic two-hour drive from Phoenix, this small city has quickly become one of Arizona's top places to visit .

Its beautiful setting, in among the red rocks, makes it perfect for a day trip from Phoenix , but it makes an even better vacation destination. Plan on spending at least a night or two to enjoy all Sedona has to offer. The town has some fantastic restaurants as well as spas and luxury resorts in and around town.

Sedona has a bit of everything when it comes to keeping busy: fantastic hiking , mountain biking , and camping , all coupled with a quirky vibe that makes a trip here fun for everyone.

Sedona is a year-round destination, but is especially popular in the spring, when the trees burst into bloom and you get the occasional desert rain storm.

Read More: Top-Rate Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Sedona

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Planning a road trip? Stop at one of these 18 uniquely Arizona roadside attractions

tourist destination and tourist attraction

While the nearest rest stop or fast-food chain restaurant may be the most convenient place for tired travelers searching for a reprieve from the open road, it would be remiss of road trippers to ignore the unusual roadside attractions scattered along the Arizona highways.

If life-sized cartoon characters near the Grand Canyon or exotic animals on the way to Tucson sound like better pit stops than the local gas station, you're in luck when driving in Arizona.

Here are some of the most notable Arizona roadside attractions you can check out the next time you cross the Grand Canyon state.

Bedrock City at Raptor Ranch

As if Fred Flintstone's prehistoric town had always been set in Arizona, visiting Bedrock City at Raptor Ranch will make baby boomers (and anyone else who watched reruns of the popular '60s cartoon) nostalgic for their childhood. Colorful statues of familiar characters and the iconic brontosaurus slide have been essential roadside attractions off State Route 64 in Valle.

Details: 332 S. State Route 64, Valle. 928-635-3072. .

Four Corners Monument Navajo Tribal Park

Less of a roadside attraction and more of a cool fun fact you can share, the Four Corners Monument Navajo Tribal Park recognizes the only place in the U.S. where the borders of four states meet. After visiting, you can finally join many Southwestern residents in saying you have been in Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona all at the same time.

Details: 597 NM-597, Teec Nos Pos. 928-206-2540.

Meteor Crater

Over 50,000 years ago, an iron-nickel meteorite approximately 150 feet wide collided with what is now northern Arizona. According to the site's website, the impact hit the Earth with a force 150 times greater than an atomic bomb. The crater this meteor left is now the best-preserved meteorite site on Earth and a historic landmark to visit if you are driving near Flagstaff.

Details: Interstate 40, Exit 233, Winslow. 928-289-5898. .

Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch

If you are heading south near Picacho Peak, it is hard to miss the billboards advertising Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch. Seemingly the only place you can find stingrays, donkeys, deer, parrots and dozens of ostriches in the middle of nowhere, this roadside attraction is a great spot for adults and children to make memories.

Details: 17599 E Peak Lane, Picacho. 520-466-3658. .

Take the scenic route: This stunning Arizona roadway was ranked most scenic drive in the US. See why

Standin' on the Corner Park

You don't have to be an Eagles groupie to be familiar with the nod to this Arizona town in one of their most popular songs, "Take it Easy." "Standin' on the corner in Winslow, Arizona ..." is a line memorialized by Winslow residents at Standin' on the Corner Park. A bronze statue of a young musician is a salute to the troubadours who put Winslow on the classic rock map.

Details: Corner of Kinsley Avenue and Second Street in Winslow. 928-289-2434. .

Without spoiling the enigma that can be uncovered in Benson, The Thing is a worthy roadside attraction to consider as you head down the I-10. The various billboards that line the highway are hard to miss as you get closer to the "Mystery of the Desert." Located next to a Dairy Queen and a Shell gas station, you can take care of your hunger, gas tank and curiosity at the same time.

Details: 2631 N. Johnson Road, Benson. 520-586-2581. .

Arizona's 'world's largest' roadside wonders

According to a map created by , more than 195 roadside attractions in the U.S. consider themselves the “world’s largest” something. These are Arizona's "world's largest" wonders and where they are located.

  • World's Largest Cow Skull, Amado.
  • World's Largest Petrified Tree, Holbrook.
  • World's Largest Map of Old Route 66, Meteor City.
  • World's Largest Kokopelli, Camp Verde.
  • World's Largest Kachina, Carefree.

Find out more: Arizona is home to 5 of the 'World's Largest' things — do you know what they are?

Giganticus Headicus

Art is completely subjective. To Kingman residents, Giganticus Headicus is one of the most iconic art pieces off Route 66. Created by local artist Gregg Arnold, the tiki-style head is 14 feet tall and bright green. If taking a picture isn't enough, you can further memorialize your time with the head with a miniature from the local gift shop.

Details: 9855 AZ-66, Kingman. .

Wigwam Village Motel

Need a place to stay overnight? Have you considered a wigwam? This quaint village off Mother Road may be just the eccentric place to spend a night while traveling through the state. Constructed in the 1950s, a night in a wigwam will make you forget why you would want to sleep anywhere else.

Details: 811 W. Hopi Drive, Holbrook. 928-524-3048. .

Lumberjack muffler man

A familiar face to Northern Arizona University students, the 25-foot-tall muffler man resembles the school's mascot, Louie the Lumberjack. Before being moved outside of the Skydome, the lumberjack was located outside the Lumberjack Cafe and appeared in the background of the 1969 movie "Easy Rider."

Details: 1701 S. San Francisco St., Flagstaff.

Rainbow Rock Shop Dinosaurs

If you're in search of more prehistoric creatures to gape at, stop at the Rainbow Rock Shop as you drive along Route 66. Fans of geodes and other pretty rocks will be able to admire the variety of concrete dinosaurs while searching for their next gem.

Details: 101 Navajo Blvd., Holbrook.

Located near the Mexico border, Dateland is a necessary stop on Interstate 8. A major producer of the Medjool dates, the dry heat provides the perfect climate for cultivating the fruit. Dates are fiber-rich, sweet as candy and contain more potassium than a banana. Try Dateland's world-famous date shake when you visit.

Details: 1737 Ave. 64 E., Dateland. 928-454-2772. .

London Bridge

You don't need to travel across the world to experience a little European history. As a result of a strange series of events, the London Bridge , which once crossed the River Thames, was broken down and rebuilt in Lake Havasu City by Robert P. McCulloch. This British import attracts tens of thousands of travelers every year.

Details: 1340 McCulloch Blvd. N., Lake Havasu City. 928-453-3444. .

Take a break from speeding down the highway by cruising through the ponderosa pine forest. An attraction you don't need to get out of your car to enjoy, Bearizona has over three miles of road surrounded by picturesque nature and North American animals. If your legs need a break from sitting in a cramped car, the park also has a 20-acre walk-through area.

Details: 1500 E Route 66, Williams. 928-635-2289. .

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Tourism Malaysia tapping into growing market for alternative escapades

Monday, 08 Jul 2024

Related News

Tourney aims to promote Malaysia as a golf tourism destination for all seasons

Tourney aims to promote Malaysia as a golf tourism destination for all seasons

Teeing up for tourism, ‘maximise social media in promoting niche tourism’.

PUTRAJAYA: The evolving desires of travellers have led to Tourism Malaysia tapping into trends that include coffee trails, houseboat vacations and motorhome adventures.

Other escapades awaiting intrepid tourists include archaeological experiences and dark tourism, or visiting places where some of the darkest events of human history unfolded.

Tourism Malaysia director-general Manoharan Periasamy said besides introducing these novel experiences, Malaysia would also enhance its existing niche tourism, which is witnessing an upward trend.

ALSO READ: Manoharan: First-class promises hollow without first-class facilities

On the cashless wave: A Travel Malaysia super app is in the works for tourists, according to Manoharan. — IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/The Star

“These include bird watching, luxury camping (glamping), fishing excursions, hiking expeditions, culinary tours and specially curated packages for weddings, honeymoons and wellness retreats,” he told The Star.

To diversify its reach, he said Malaysia would promote not just the capital city Kuala Lumpur but also lesser-known locales that feature unique culture, heritage and possibilities for adventure as well as culinary and agro-based tourism.

“The broader strategy is to position Malaysia as a multifaceted destination for health and wellness, luxury travel and vibrant festivals and events,” he said.

This could foster urban and rural revitalisation, Manoharan added.

ALSO READ: ‘Maximise social media in promoting niche tourism’

To effectively market these diverse experiences, he said Tourism Malaysia was set to roll out strategic initiatives such as joint programmes and partnerships with key tourism stakeholders to strengthen marketing campaigns.

“The aim is to extend the promotional reach and maximise the impact of our efforts.”

Additionally, Manoharan said public relations activities were also on the agenda to enhance media coverage and visibility for Malaysia’s tourism sector.

ALSO READ: Affordability draws in digital nomads

“Familiarisation trips are being organised to host media and travel industry professionals so that they can experience Malaysia’s offerings first hand.

“This move is expected to generate buzz and drive interest in Malaysia as a travel destination,” he said.

Tourism Malaysia is also focused on delivering seminars and workshops aimed at equipping industry players with the necessary skills to offer top-notch experiential tourism products.

He also said participation in trade exhibitions and consumer tourism fairs would further support the effort to bring Malaysia’s multi-dimensional tourism offerings to the global stage.

ALSO READ: Travel operators eager to spotlight hidden gems

At the heart of these endeavours is the “Malaysia Truly Asia” brand, now concentrated on sustainable and experiential tourism.

“The brand is set to incorporate dynamic sub-brands, showcasing the country’s nature-based adventures, cultural richness, shopping hotspots, wellness sanctuaries and eventful wonders, all reflecting the diverse essence of Malaysia,” he said.

Innovating towards an advanced technological front, Manoharan said Tourism Malaysia was in the midst of creating a Travel Malaysia super app to provide tourists with a hassle-free, cashless journey.

He added that this initiative was supported through a partnership with Mastercard and would integrate shopping, exploration and touristic engagement into one platform.

Manoharan said the adoption of augmented reality and virtual allows for immersive marketing campaigns and interactive digital brochures, offering potential travellers a virtual experience of Malaysia’s treasures.

In view of the rapid technological advancements, he said Tourism Malaysia would adapt its promotional strategies to keep its pace with changing trends, shifting away from traditional advertising and airtime towards digital engagement.

“Although we have a small social media team, our proactive approach has led us to forge synergistic partnerships with prominent entities such as telecommunications providers, international hotel chains and airlines.

“It’s all about creating and nurturing smart collaborative partnerships,” Manoharan said.

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Tags / Keywords: Tourism Malaysia , Astrotourism , Houseboat , Motorhome travel , Coffee trails , Archaeotourism , Culture and Heritage , Manoharan Periasamy

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Most Visited Countries 2024

European countries, often rich in history, culture, beautiful beaches, and ocean views, attract the highest number of tourists.

France, leading in tourism for over 30 years, offers attractions like the Eiffel Tower and Disneyland Paris, drawing 38 million tourists to Paris alone in 2019.

Global travel and tourism, an $8.9 trillion industry in 2019, suffered a loss of $4.5 trillion and 62 million jobs in 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Global travel and tourism was an $8.9 trillion (US$) business in 2019 . Moreover, though the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced that number to roughly a quarter of its previous value, all signs point to tourism continuing to grow, expand, and evolve. Every country on Earth has something to offer international visitors, from the pyramids in Egypt to the rainforests of Brazil or the sidewalk cafes of Paris —but which countries attract the most visitors of all? Most of the countries with the highest tourism rates are located in Europe , whose rich history, architecture, and cultural influence make it an appealing destination for many travelers. Countries positioned on or near a body of water are also very popular, particularly those that offer a relaxed, low-key atmosphere mixed with beautiful beaches and ocean views.

Top 10 Countries Most Popular with Tourists (by number of 2019 visitor arrivals)

The most popular tourist destination in the world for more than 30 years, France offers a myriad of attractions: the Eiffel tower, countless world-class restaurants, the Musée du Louvre, the Palace of Versailles, the Notre-Dame cathedral, the beaches of the Côte d'Azur, and of course, Disneyland Paris. Moreover, the lushly beautiful countryside is full of storybook villages, mountains, vineyards, and the occasional castle. One can even view prehistoric cave paintings in Lascaux. Paris, France's capital, is the most visited city in Europe, receiving 38 million tourists in 2019.

Spain is another tourist destination overflowing with interesting attractions. Antoni Gaudi's Sagrada Familia cathedral and other works in Barcelona , the Guggenheim museum, the Alhambra and Generalife Gardens, Europe's largest aquarium (the lily-shaped L'Oceanogràfic), the beaches of Gran Canaria, and La Rambla in Barcelona. Spain is also home to El Teide, an ancient—but not entirely dormant—volcano, which visitors can hike around at the Parque Nacional del Teide on the Spanish island Tenerife.

England's capital city, London , attracts visitors with a wide range of sights including Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, and the British Museum, which includes the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts outside of Cairo . Beyond London, England offers the mysterious Stonehenge, the Beatles' birthplace in Liverpool , the quaint beauty of the Cotswolds, the sci-fi botanical gardens of the Eden Project, and more. Speaking of more, the UK also includes three additional subdivisions. First is Scotland, with the charming city of Edinburgh , moody Loch Ness and Inverness , the scenic highlands, and the historic St. Andrews golf course. Next comes charming Wales and its castles, scenery, and capital city of Cardiff . Finally, Northern Ireland boasts attractions including Belfast 's bubbling nightlife, the glens and coastline of Antrim, and one of Europe's most compelling natural wonders: the Giant's Causeway.

The Mediterranean nation Turkey balances captivating man-made attractions such as Hagia Sophia mosque and Topkapı Palace with archaeological wonders such as the Biblical city of Ephesus, the fairy city of Cappadocia, and the desolate fallen splendor of Mount Nemrut. It also has more than its share of natural wonders, including the famous beaches at Ölüdeniz and Patara, the mineral pools at Pamukkale, and the Mediterranean coastline itself.

The South Asian country of Thailand is also known as the "Land of Smiles", and offers both modern comforts and wild adventure. Thailand's capital, Bangkok , receives over 20 million visitors every year. Popular attractions include the Grand Palace in Bangkok; beaches including Railay, Long, and Monkey beach; the ancient city Ayutthaya and ornate Buddhist wat Coi Suthep, and national parks including Khao Yai (where wild elephants roam) and the otherworldly Khao Sok.

The impact of COVID-19 on travel and tourism

The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-21 had a devastating effect on the travel and tourism industry. According to a report released by the World Travel & Tourism Council , the pandemic cost the industry an estimated US$ 4.5 trillion in 2020, which resulted in the loss of 62 million tourism-dependent jobs. Data from the United Nations World Tourism Organization backs this up. Consider the following table:

International tourist arrivals (in thousands of visitors):

Compared to 2019, tourism dropped by approximately 74% in 2020, with a total of a billion fewer travelers over the course of the year--making 2020 the worst year on record for tourism. The UNTWO's own estimates registered a loss of US$ 1.3 trillion in lost revenues and 100-120 million jobs either lost or at risk.

The impact has been particularly damaging in countries that rely heavily upon tourism as part of their GDP. Lost tourism in Macau , one of China 's special administrative regions, led to a 79.3% drop in year-on-year gambling revenues , which caused overall GDP for 2020 to fall 43.1% compared to the previous year.

While tourism has picked up slightly in 2021, they still fall far short of the pre-pandemic numbers. Late 2020 projections were hopeful that the industry would be back on track by late 2021, but the ongoing nature of the pandemic has thwarted that optimism. As of late 2021, most estimates do not expect the industry to rebound to 2019 (pre-COVID) levels until sometime in 2023 at the earliest.

  • Visitor totals are displayed in 1000s. For example, South Africa 's displayed total of 3886.6 equals 3,886,600 visitors.

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Breaking news, historic tourist attraction loses $170k worth of donations after going cashless.

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A popular UK tourist attraction has lost a whopping $170,000 worth of donations after it banned cash.

Visitors to the Roman Baths in Bath have been stopped from throwing money into the historic attraction and are instead asked to make a contactless payment.

But the move has had devastating consequences.

The charity organisation behind the well-known site banned the use of the wishing well in March 2022.

In the last financial year, it collected just $17,000 in donations despite welcoming one million visitors in 2023.

Visitors were greeted with a sign that said: “Please do not throw coins in the bath. Tap the Contactless point or use the cash box to make your offering.”

Tourists exploring the centrepiece at the Roman Baths

Prior to that it had raked in almost $200,000 from donations when it was fully open between 2018 and 2019 before the pandemic hit, with $170,000 coming from the 1.6m plunge pool that had been turned into a wishing well for visitors.

The decision to ban cash was made due to a “notable decline in the use of cash” since the pandemic but was also fuelled by concerns that the practice had “begun to damage the 2000-year-old structure”, according to Bath and North East Somerset Council.

It also found the donations were no longer viable because of the process to collect coins, which took a long time to drain the baths wasting water, while some coins were “garbled” and could not be banked.

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However, campaign groups slammed the move and said cash was still a common way to make donations.

Campaign group Payment Choice Alliance spokesman Martin Quinn said the public should be given a choice on how they make donations.

“A child making a wish with a contactless card does not have the same magical appeal, this policy should be reversed immediately,” he told  The Telegraph.

Roman Baths in the UK

“The British public should be allowed to have payment choice when it comes to charitable giving.”

The historical site boasts some of the best preserved Roman ruins in the world, which were constructed in 70AD and is the UK’s most popular attraction after Stonehenge.

The site includes the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple, the Roman Bath House and an accompanying museum.

Last year, just $4500 worth of donations were collected via contactless payments, dropping even lower than the $4750 the year prior.

Mr Quinn described the cashless donation policy as “utterly mad”.

“The march towards a cashless society needs to stop. What’s next? The Tooth Fairy going cashless,” he quipped.

Victorian statues of Roman Emperor at the Roman Bath

But a spokesman for Bath and North East Somerset Council said the Roman Baths said in the last financial year the tourist attraction had generated more income from ticket sales and other activity than ever before.

“In addition our priority is to care for and conserve the Roman Baths, one of the world’s great historic sites,” they said.

“The tradition of throwing coins into the water had begun to damage the 2000-year-old structure of the circular bath, putting the monument at unnecessary risk.

Roman Baths

“Managing water-damaged coins and the decline in cash usage post-pandemic further supported our decision to look at other ways to encourage support.”

Australians have also expressed serious concerns about heading towards a cashless society.

Seven in 10 say they’re concerned, while two in five Aussies are extremely concerned about notes and coins becoming relics.

The research showed 63 per cent of Aussies are concerned the move would exacerbate economic inequality.

It also found 58 per cent hold concerns because they are worried they will pay more in banking and card fees, and 42 per cent don’t trust in financial services to operate ethically in a cashless society.

Tourists exploring the centrepiece at the Roman Baths



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    1. Grand Canyon [SEE MAP] The Grand Canyon is located in northern Arizona and is one of the great tourist attractions in the United States. Carved over several million years by the Colorado River, the canyon attains a depth of over 1.6 km (1 mile) and 446 km (277 miles) long.


    TOURIST ATTRACTION definition: a place that people visit for pleasure and interest, usually while they are on holiday: . Learn more.

  21. Best Places to Visit in the USA for 2023-2024

    Las Vegas. #27 in Best Places to Visit in the USA for 2023-2024. Sin City astounds travelers with its smorgasbord of offerings. Whether you choose to spend your trip testing your luck at its ...

  22. The World's Most-visited Tourist Attractions

    Many inspiring and iconic places can't quite keep up. The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum narrowly missed the top 50, as did the British Museum in London (6.7 million), the Metropolitan ...

  23. 9 of the most visited tourist attractions in the world

    8. Machu Picchu, Peru. Tourists are quickly taking note of South America as they look for lesser-known, undiscovered places in the world. Machu Picchu is one of the most recognizable icons of the continent and its tourism numbers reflect it. After receiving over 1 million visitors in 2016, tourism officials decided to cut back on the entrance allowance in efforts to save the precious ruins ...

  24. 18 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in the USA

    6. Waikiki Waikiki . Home to the most popular beach in the Hawaiian Islands and possibly the most famous beach in the Pacific, Waikiki has been a tourist destination for over a century. Today this area is a cross between tropical paradise and modern city. Relaxing on this beautiful stretch of sand with palm trees blowing in the wind will certainly let you know you are in the tropics, but the ...

  25. The Most Popular Tourist Attraction in Every State

    This place is one of the top-rated tourist attractions in the state. Find out the most iconic movie set in every state. ... which makes it a must-see tourist attraction. 38 / 50. Pavel L Photo and ...

  26. 18 uniquely AZ roadside attractions for your summer road trip

    Details: 332 S. State Route 64, Valle. Four Corners Monument Navajo Tribal Park. Less of a roadside attraction and more of a cool fun fact you can share, the ...

  27. Tourism Malaysia tapping into growing market for alternative escapades

    Innovating towards an advanced technological front, Manoharan said Tourism Malaysia was in the midst of creating a Travel Malaysia super app to provide tourists with a hassle-free, cashless journey.

  28. Most Visited Countries 2024

    The most popular tourist destination in the world for more than 30 years, France offers a myriad of attractions: the Eiffel tower, countless world-class restaurants, the Musée du Louvre, the Palace of Versailles, the Notre-Dame cathedral, the beaches of the Côte d'Azur, and of course, Disneyland Paris. Moreover, the lushly beautiful countryside is full of storybook villages, mountains ...

  29. Historic tourist attraction loses $170K worth of donations after going

    A popular UK tourist attraction has lost a whopping $170,000 worth of donations after it banned cash. Visitors to the Roman Baths in Bath have been stopped from throwing money into the historic ...

  30. How hostile is your holiday destination? The places that do and don't

    A week rarely goes by without some sort of anti-tourist demonstration on the popular Balearic island. In May this year, more than 10,000 people marched in Palma de Majorca to protest against ...