From sporting events to natural wonders and destination attractions, there are so many experiences to be had. Use this list of top must-see tourist spots to help plan your journey.
Add These 12 Must-See Tourist Spots to Your Must-See List
Your J-1 placement could find you in any of the top destinations in the US. From California to New York and everywhere in between. No matter where you’re placed, you can be sure to find spectacular tourist spots to visit.
1. Pike Place Market
Location: Seattle, Washington
Experience: Shopping & Eating
Pike Place Market overlooks the waterfront in Elliott Bay. This historic marketplace originally opened in 1907. You can find local treats like fresh fish directly pulled from the Puget Sound, locally-made cheeses, and visit the original Starbucks Coffee Shop.
2. Mount Rushmore
Location: South Dakota
Experience: Historical Discovery
The stone-carved faces of former American presidents are one of our most iconic landmarks. Each president’s visage was carved and blasted into the side of the rock cliff. Mount Rushmore features the larger-than-life faces of Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Theodore Roosevelt.
3. Bryce Canyon National Park
Location: Southern Utah
Experience: Naturally Awe-Inspiring
Bryce Canyon features truly breathtaking displays of red rock formations that form a series of natural amphitheaters. The canyon was once home to Mormon settlers but is now a tourist destination for hikers and nature enthusiasts.
4. Walt Disney World
Location: Orlando, Florida
Experience: Theme Park and More
Walt Disney World is more than just rides and a theme park. It’s a fantastical and immersive experience. Each area of the park is different and features unique attractions. You’ll enjoy experiences ranging from princess castles to wild jungles and futuristic explorations. There are tons of surprise performances and hidden magical adventures to be found as you explore.
5. The Las Vegas Strip
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Experience: High-Energy Gambling
Vegas is considered the gambling mecca of the world for good reason. It’s home to some of the most elaborate mega-casino hotels, lavish resorts, and tourist experiences. We have a saying in the US that “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” It’s a city of vices and good times.
6. Golden Gate Bridge
Location: San Francisco, California
Experience: Man-Made Wonder
The Golden Gate Bridge was originally constructed in 1937. At that time, it was the world’s longest suspension bridge. Now, it’s become a world-recognized symbol of San Francisco. The reddish-orange color was originally chosen to help the bridge be visible in San Fran’s thick fog on the Golden Gate Strait.
7. The Grand Canyon
Location: Northern Arizona
Experience: Natural Wonder
The Grand Canyon is one of the most iconic tourist destinations for Americans and international tourists. The canyon’s depth is over 1.6 km (1 mile) and runs 446 km (277 miles) long. It’s not the deepest or longest canyon in the world, but it’s massive size and colorful landscape are awe-inspiring.
8. The French Quarter
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Experience: History and Entertainment
The French Quarter provides an experience unmatched in the rest of the United States. You are immersed in historical culture, rich architecture, and the vibrant nature of the citizens. There are new experiences around every corner — ghost tours, riverboat rides, museums, amazing eateries, lively music, and so much more.
9. Navy Pier
Experience: Shopping & Entertainment
Navy Pier is located over the waters of Lake Michigan in the heart of Chicago’s Streeterville Neighborhood. There are attractions, shopping, and scenic areas suited for tourists of all ages.
10. Kennedy Space Center
Location: Cape Canaveral, Florida
Experience: Space-Age Tourist
Cape Canaveral is home to all things space-related. Kennedy Space Center has been the launch point for every manned US space flight since 1968 and is still the launch site for unmanned rockets. You can even experience space travel for yourself in the Shuttle Launch Experience attraction.
11. Mesa Verde
Experience: Historical Nature
The Mesa Verde National Park contains the preserved homes and culture of the Ancestral Pueblo people. Their homes were carved directly into the caves and rock faces of the region and date back all the way to the 13th century. You can walk under the cliffs and tour these ancient homes — including the 150-room Cliff Palace that it was believed once housed over 100 people.
Location: Los Angeles, California
Experience: History and Entertainment
Most tourist travel to Hollywood to experience the glamour and history that is Tinseltown. It features attractions designed to celebrate the entertainment industry — from behind-the-scenes tours at Universal Studios to high-end shopping on Hollywood Boulevard.
J-1 Travel Grace Period
You will have multiple opportunities during your program to participate in a variety of cultural activities. Then, after your 12-month program has ended, your J-1 Visa provides you 30 days to enjoy the USA as a tourist to travel and not work.
The United States has More to Offer
The United States has thousands of amazing places to visit scattered all over the country — history, entertainment, culture, natural wonders, and man-made attractions.
You are sure to find something during your J-1 journey that will forever change your view on the world and expand your view of US culture.