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10 Most-Visited Tourist Destinations in the U.S.

By Rachel Gresh
Read time: 6 minutes

Over 50 million international travelers visit the United States each year, not to mention the millions more domestic travelers who cross state lines for sightseeing. With so many unique landmarks across 50 states, it’s difficult to pinpoint all of the most-visited landmarks, neighborhoods, and amusement parks. But we’ve ranked the most quintessential tourist destinations according to their annual number of visitors, based on recent tourism metrics from authorities such as the National Park Service, Statista and local governments and tourism offices. With that in mind, check out 10 of America’s most-visited tourist destinations. 

10. Golden Gate National Recreation Area – San Francisco, California

View of the Golden Gate Bridge from Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco, California
Credit: Can Balcioglu/ Moment via Getty Images 

15 million annual visitors

The Golden Gate Bridge is a must-see for many travelers exploring the U.S. West Coast, and for good reason. Its striking orange hue contrasts brilliantly with the deep blue waters of the Golden Strait below, which connects the San Francisco Bay with the Pacific Ocean. Since its opening in 1937, millions of visitors have come from around the world to marvel at the groundbreaking 1.7-mile-long suspension bridge and enjoy the expansive protected park area at both ends. Today, around 15 million come annually to enjoy not only views of the bridge but also over 80,000 acres of green space in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which offers ample opportunities for hiking, bicycling, wildlife viewing, camping, and beachgoing. 

9. French Quarter – New Orleans, Louisiana

Traditional architecture with iron balconies in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana
Credit: ferrantraite/ iStock via Getty Images 

15 million annual visitors

The French Quarter, New Orleans’ oldest neighborhood, was founded in 1718. Today, it attracts tourists from all over the world with its one-of-a-kind combination of French, Cajun, and Creole cultures and cuisines, including staples such as gumbo and beignets. Running through the center of the French Quarter is Bourbon Street, lined with lively bars, restaurants, and kitschy souvenir shops. European-inspired architecture with ornate balconies and colorful facades is found throughout this historic neighborhood. In Jackson Square, artists and performers set up shop to showcase their talents in front of St. Louis Cathedral — the oldest cathedral in North America.

8. Mall of America – Bloomington, Minnesota

Entrance to the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota
Credit: Raymond Boyd/ Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images 

16 million annual visitors

America’s largest mall opened in 1992 in Bloomington, 10 miles south of Minneapolis. While 40 million people visit the mall annually, around 40% (16 million) travel 150 miles or more to visit, making it one of the biggest tourist destinations in the country. The four-level mall is home to over 520 stores and more than 60 restaurants. But if you aren’t there to shop ’til you drop, there is plenty more to see and do. The mall is also home to Nickelodeon Universe (a seven-acre amusement park), the Sea Life aquarium, a comedy club, and dozens of other entertainment venues. 

7. Disneyland Resort – Anaheim, California

Sleeping Beauty's Castle at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California
Credit: AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images via Getty Images 

25 million annual visitors

The first of Walt Disney’s signature theme parks, Disneyland opened in Anaheim, California, in 1955. Today, the so-called “Happiest Place on Earth” welcomes over 16 million visitors annually. The park features quintessential Disney attractions, including Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, the Jungle Cruise, the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, and Space Mountain. Just next door, Disney California Adventure Park boasts 9 million visitors yearly, totaling nearly 25 million annually for the Southern California attraction. 

6. Millennium Park – Chicago, Illinois

Cloud Gate sculpture ("The Bean") reflecting Chicago skyline in Millennium Park
Credit: Raymond Boyd/ Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images 

25 million annual visitors

Chicago’s Millennium Park, situated on the shores of Lake Michigan, is home to one of the country’s most famous outdoor sculptures, Cloud Gate — better known as “the Bean.” The 24.5-acre green space also boasts gardens, rock climbing, outdoor dining, and fountains. Visitors and locals alike can relax on the Great Lawn and enjoy live performances at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry. Millennium Park is also home to some of Chicago’s biggest annual events, including festivals for blues music, jazz, and summer film and concert series.

5. National Mall – Washington, D.C.

Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. at sunset
Credit: Sean Pavone/ Shutterstock 

36 million annual visitors

Washington, D.C.’s National Mall is the biggest attraction in the nation’s capital. It boasts some of the country’s most famous monuments, from the Lincoln Memorial at its west end to the U.S. Capitol building at the east end. The Washington Monument, a 555-foot-tall stone obelisk dedicated to the country’s first President, stands proudly at its center. The museums of the Smithsonian Institute (which are all free to visit) line the walkways of the National Mall, offering exhibits of art, history, science, aviation, and more. The green space in the mall’s center also makes for a perfect spot for summer picnics, kite flying, and taking in the view. 

4. Las Vegas Strip – Nevada

Aerial view of the Fountains of Bellagio and the Las Vegas Strip
Credit: Westend61 via Getty Images

41 million annual visitors

The Las Vegas Strip is the most famous stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard, making up the heart of Sin City’s entertainment district. The Strip is lined with iconic attractions, from the choreographed Fountains of Bellagio to some of the most famous hotels and casinos in the country, including the Venetian and Caesars Palace. There are also venues for music (such as the newly opened Sphere), comedy, and entertainment — plus, the Strip even has its very own Eiffel Tower.

3. Central Park – New York, New York

Pathway through fields and trees of Central Park in New York City, with skyscrapers in distance
Credit: Matteo Colombo/ Moment via Getty Images 

42 million annual visitors

The first section of this world-famous urban retreat opened in 1858 and has since provided over 150 years of year-round leisure for New Yorkers and the many millions more who visit the Big Apple. Spanning over 50 blocks in central Manhattan, Central Park is the most-visited city park in the United States. Some stop by for specific sites, such as the Central Park Zoo, Bethesda Fountain, Belvedere Castle, or the historic carousel. Others come to meander through endless pathways, crossing over ponds, landscaped gardens, and open meadows. A favorite time to visit is during the holiday season, when the Wollman Rink opens for ice skating and lighted Christmas trees line the park paths.

2. Walt Disney World Resort – Orlando, Florida

Monorail and Epcot dome at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida
Credit: Anadolu via Getty Images 

47 million annual visitors

Each year, Disney’s Orlando theme parks welcome a staggering 47 million travelers combined. The most-visited of these parks is also the oldest Disney park in Orlando. Opening its doors in 1971, Magic Kingdom welcomes over 17 million guests annually, who come to marvel at the spectacular nightly fireworks show at Cinderella’s Castle after a day of enjoying classic amusement rides. Along with Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney Resort in Orlando also includes three other major amusement parks: Hollywood Studios, Epcot, and Animal Kingdom, which receive about 11 million, 10 million, and 9 million annual visitors, respectively.

1. Times Square – New York, New York

Yellow taxi cabs amid bright billboards of Times Square in New York City
Credit: Eloi_Omella/ iStock via Getty Images 

50 million annual visitors

Situated in the heart of Manhattan, Times Square is home to a dazzling display of towering illuminated billboards, lively street performers, and quirky tourist attractions. The country’s most-visited tourist attraction is located at the intersection of Broadway, Seventh Avenue, and 42nd Street. The adjacent Theater District is where some of the world’s greatest live shows have been performed for decades. The Lyceum Theater, the oldest continually operating theater on Broadway, was built in 1903. One of the biggest nights in Times Square is the annual New Year’s Eve celebration, as an estimated 1 million people gather to watch the iconic Times Square Ball drop. The tradition began in 1907 and is now televised worldwide.

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