The Most Popular Tourist Attraction in Every State (#23 and #43 Are Way Overrated)

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From coast to coast, explore the top-rated attractions that define each state's charm.
Updated Feb. 7, 2024
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Checking out the most popular, or most talked about, sites in all 50 states is a goal on many avid travelers’ bucket lists.

But with so many great tourist attractions across the U.S., it can be hard to decide which ones are worth a visit if you don't know anyone with first-hand experience.

To help you narrow it down and avoid wasting money on lesser attractions, here are the most popular and most visited tourist attractions in all 50 states.

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Alabama: USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park (Mobile)

Felix Mizioznikov/Adobe uss alabama

The USS Alabama Battleship is well-known for its history in World War II.

It was decommissioned in 1947, but instead of being scrapped, the warship was turned into the main attraction of a Memorial Park opened in Mobile in 1965.

These days, visitors can tour the park, learn about the ship’s decorated history, and enjoy stunning views.

Alaska: Denali National Park and Preserve

evenfh/Adobe Denali in Alaska

Denali National Park and Preserve is one of those natural wonders you have to see to believe — hence why so many tourists seek it out.

It’s 6 million acres of beauty and wonder — from the taiga forest and high alpine tundra to the breathtaking Denali Mountain (the tallest peak in North America).

Arizona: Grand Canyon National Park

24 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the U.S.

Whether you’re planning to camp, hike, or simply experience the awe that the Grand Canyon inspires, it’s easy to understand why the national park draws millions of visitors every year.

Both rims (north and south) offer incredible views of the canyons, and visitors can stay in the park — in lodges or campsites — or stop by for a day trip.

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Arkansas: Hot Springs National Park

Zack Frank/Adobe hot springs national park

Hot Springs National Park is rich in both natural beauty and cultural history.

Visitors come from far and wide to enjoy the stunning architecture of Bathhouse Row (some of the bathhouses have water piped in directly from thermal springs), mountain views, hiking opportunities, and more.

California: Disneyland Park (Anaheim)

AmeriCantaro/Adobe bright colorful lights of Disney's California Adventure amusement park

While there are many other major tourist attractions in California — from San Francisco Bay all the way down to San Diego — there’s nothing quite like the magic of Disney’s first park.

From classic rides like “It’s a Small World” and new attractions like “Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway” to their fabulous dining options, there’s plenty to do in Disneyland.

Colorado: Rocky Mountain National Park

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Hikers, climbers, campers, and more come out to Rocky Mountain National Park every year.

The stunning park includes more than 265,000 acres of natural wonders — from alpine lakes to breathtaking mountain peaks — plus a few hundred miles of hiking trails.

Connecticut: Mystic Aquarium (Mystic)

CJY Images/Adobe sea lion pup enjoys a dip in the aquarium pool

Mystic Aquarium is a huge draw for both locals and visitors.

The packed aquarium has a huge array of sea life — including Beluga whales, African penguins, Northern fur seals, sand tiger sharks, and much more.

Delaware: Rehoboth Beach

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Rehoboth Beach packs tons of fun into one square mile. Tourists can hit the beach for the day or stay a few and take in the boardwalk — packed with shops, restaurants, and family attractions.

Rehoboth has recently worked to become a year-round destination, with events on the boardwalk every season.

Florida: Walt Disney World (Orlando)

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There are many draws for tourists in Orlando — but none attract quite as many as Disney World.

Disney’s massive Florida footprint includes four theme parks — Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios and offers classic rides, great restaurants, and endless entertainment.

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Georgia: Georgia Aquarium (Atlanta)

Wollwerth Imagery/Adobe Aquarium in Atlanta Georgia

Georgia’s famed Aquarium in Atlanta attracts visitors from far and wide.

They have a huge array of sea life — from penguins and Beluga whales to alligators and whale sharks — and offer education programs, exhibits, animal interactions, and more.

Hawaii: Pearl Harbor National Memorial (Honolulu)

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Hawaii is frequently packed with travelers, and there’s no shortage of sites to see — from Waikiki Beach to Diamond Head. But the Pearl National Memorial is a particularly huge draw.

Visitors are often eager to learn the history of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entry into World War II and check out the USS Arizona Memorial.

Idaho: Coeur d'Alene Lake

Nicole/Adobe view of wolf lodge bay

Coeur d’Alene Lake attracts travelers looking to boat, hike, fish, and/or simply relax.

The massive lake in northern Idaho boasts 135 miles of shoreline packed with parks, campgrounds, beaches, and trails.

Illinois: Navy Pier (Chicago)

checubus/Adobe beautiful Navy pier at dusk with chicago skyline

Navy Pier sits along the shoreline of Lake Michigan and offers an eclectic mix of activities (basically everything you’d expect from a stacked boardwalk).

It has rides — like a massive Ferris wheel and drop tower — plenty of restaurants offering Chicago’s finest, games, fireworks, and a packed calendar of events.

Indiana: Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Indianapolis)

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Originally founded in 1909, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has become one of the most well-known racetracks in the country.

It’s home to the famed Indy 500 and has the largest racetrack seating capacity in the world — so there’s plenty of room for tourists passing through Indiana to catch a race.

Iowa: Amana Colonies (Amana)

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The Amana Colonies — a collection of villages with a unique culture inspired by German roots and community — are a scenic, must-see spot for many passing through Iowa.

The villages offer an eclectic mix of food, wines, and beers, shops filled with handcrafted products and art, and plenty of festivals — including an Oktoberfest and winter fest.

Kansas: Kansas Speedway (Kansas City)

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Kansas Speedway is a big draw for racing fans. The 1.5-mile track in Kansas City hosts two NASCAR race weekends every year.

In 2012, the Penn National Gaming Hollywood Hotel and Casino opened so race enthusiasts can enjoy some gambling and delicious dining after a day at the track.

Kentucky: Churchill Downs (Louisville)

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Naturally, the home of the Kentucky Derby is the most popular tourist destination in the state.

Churchill Downs, located in Louisville, has been home to the horse race since 1875 — making the Kentucky Derby the longest-running annual sporting event in U.S. history.

It’s no wonder visitors come by the hundreds of thousands every Derby Day.

Louisiana: French Quarter (New Orleans)

Calee Allen/Adobe tourists riding in french quarter carriage in beautiful street

The French Quarter is a must-see for anyone visiting New Orleans.

As one of the Big Easy’s most historic neighborhoods, it offers an eclectic mix of sights, sounds, great dining, and beautiful architecture.

From ghost tours to Bourbon Street’s giant cocktails, the French Quarter is one of the city’s biggest draws for a reason.

Maine: Acadia National Park

Zak Zeinert/Adobe bass head light in front of water and rocks in acadia national park, maine

Millions travel out to Acadia National Park in Maine every year, making it one of the country's top 10 most visited national parks.

The park offers stunning views and more than 150 miles of hiking trails. Guests can bike, birdwatch, swim, camp, or stargaze.

Maryland: Baltimore Inner Harbor

Kevin Ruck/Adobe Baltimore Maryland MD Inner Harbor Skyline Aerial

Baltimore’s Inner Harbor offers stunning waterfront views and plenty to do.

From top-notch seafood restaurants to an aquarium, floating museums, and more — the “something for everyone” vibe brings many tourists to the Baltimore area.

Massachusetts: Faneuil Hall Marketplace (Boston)

Courtesy of Costco faneuil hall

There are many big tourist draws in Boston — like Fenway Park and the Museum of Fine Arts.

The lively Faneuil Hall Marketplace is a particularly popular destination due to its eclectic mix of retail carts, dining and drinking options, art, live music, and much more.

Michigan: Mackinac Island

Michael Deemer/Adobe marina at mackinac island

Mackinac Island has a little bit of everything — quaint bed and breakfasts, grand hotels, incredible dining options, world-famous fudge, and plenty of natural beauty.

They also boast car-free streets where visitors can stroll or take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage.

Minnesota: Mall of America (Bloomington)

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Americans love their malls — but no shopping center can compare to Minnesota’s famed Mall of America.

It has amusement park rides, an aquarium, an escape room, Crayola Experience, fine (or cheap) dining, and two attached hotels — plus, just about every store you can think of.

Mississippi: Gulf Islands National Seashore

Jacob/Adobe the gulf islands national seashore

Gulf Islands National Seashore stretches 160 miles along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. It stretches across both Mississippi and Florida, and its stunning beauty draws millions.

There’s no shortage of natural beauty at the seashore, which includes barrier islands, maritime forests, historic forts, and more.

Missouri: Gateway Arch (St. Louis)

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St. Louis’s Gateway Arch is known (and can be seen) far and wide. Standing 630 feet tall, the Gateway Arch is the tallest monument in the U.S.

Travelers can take a tram to the top, explore the Museum at the Gateway Arch, or take a river cruise along the Mississippi to see the arch in all its glory.

Montana: Yellowstone National Park

David/Adobe Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone is one of the most famous national parks in the U.S. — millions of people trek out to Montana to bask in the natural wonders each year.

Among the park’s 2.2 million acres, visitors can check out geysers, incredible wildlife (like bison, bears, and elks), take a hike on horseback, and much more.

Nebraska: Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium (Omaha)

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Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium stretches across 160 acres and includes incredible plant, animal, and habitat exhibits from all around the world.

Visitors can see a huge range of animals, from elephants to sea lions and red pandas to gorillas (and just about every species in between).

Nevada: Las Vegas Strip (Las Vegas)

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Vegas is packed with glitz, glamor, gamblers, and plenty to do for visitors of all sorts — and The Strip is where it all comes together.

There are plenty of famed hotels and casinos on The Strip — from the Venetian to the Bellagio — with endless live entertainment, great dining options, and much more.

New Hampshire: White Mountain National Forest

Winston Tan/Adobe beautiful fall colors in Franconia Notch State Park

White Mountain National Forest’s beauty draws many visitors — with landscapes ranging from forests to stunning peaks and mountain lakes to waterfalls.

The area is popular with hikers, skiers, campers, and those simply hoping to enjoy the beauty of the Lower Falls.

New Jersey: Atlantic City Boardwalk

Michael Bogner/Adobe atlantic city skyline

Initially constructed in the late 1800s, the Atlantic City Boardwalk is known for its eclectic mix of shops, free beaches, and proximity to several resorts and casinos.

Even for those who are not interested in gambling, there’s plenty to do in AC — from fine dining to incredible shows to a bustling nightlife every day of the week.

New Mexico: Carlsbad Caverns National Park

evenfh/Adobe Carlsbad Caverns National Park

The stunning natural beauty of Carlsbad Caverns includes deep canyons, flowering cacti, and more than 100 mesmerizing caves formed from sulfuric acid that dissolved into limestone.

Guests can enjoy the caverns on their own or enroll in an educational program or ranger-guided tour.

New York: Times Square (New York City)

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A trip to Times Square is a must for those visiting New York City for the first time.

From Broadway to billboards that take up entire skyscrapers and much-loved attractions like Madame Tussauds Wax Museum and M&M; World, there’s always something going on in the Crossroads of the World.

North Carolina: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Jim Schwabel/Adobe clouds in the valley

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is not just one of the most popular destinations in North Carolina, it’s the most visited national park in the U.S.

Visitors can enjoy hiking, biking, camping, horseback riding, or simply take in the beauty of the forests and ancient mountains.

North Dakota: Theodore Roosevelt National Park

In the late 1800s, former President Theodore Roosevelt went to explore (and hunt bison) in the Dakota territory that now bears his name.

The national park has plenty of hiking trails and campsites, but it is well-known for its scenic drives, where visitors can enjoy the beauty of the badlands and catch some bison grazing along the way.

Ohio: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (Cleveland)

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Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is dedicated to all things rock — and draws fans from around the world.

The landmark is home to a range of ever-evolving exhibits, including odes to pioneers of rock like Elvis, Chuck Berry, and the Beatles. There’s even a “garage” where guests can jam themselves.

Oklahoma: Oklahoma City National Memorial

Rob Tilley/Danita Delimont/Adobe oklahoma city national memorial

In the wake of the Oklahoma City bombings in 1995, a memorial and museum were created to honor victims and their families.

Today, the museum takes visitors through interactive exhibits to tell the story of “those who were killed, those who survived, and those changed forever.”

Oregon: Multnomah Falls (Columbia River Gorge)

David Gn/Adobe multnomah falls

The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is a hot tourist attraction due to its natural beauty, with Multnomah Falls the most visited natural recreation site in the Pacific Northwest.

The flow of the falls tends to be higher in the winter and spring, and the breathtaking falls draw more than two million visitors every year.

Pennsylvania: Independence National Historical Park (Philadelphia)

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe philadelphia pennsylvania

When visiting Philly, many are drawn to the rich history in Independence National Historic Park.

The park is home to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were both considered and ultimately signed.

Rhode Island: The Breakers (Newport)

demerzel21/Adobe the breakers and cliff walk

Built by the Vanderbilt family in the late 1800s, the Breakers mansion has a classic Italian palazzo design, stunning craftsmanship, views of the sea, and plenty of history.

The mansion is visited by thousands of tourists each year, who can check out the grounds themselves or sign up for a guided tour.

South Carolina: Myrtle Beach

Kevin Ruck/Adobe pier in Myrtle Beach South Carolina drone aerial

Myrtle Beach is a collection of beach communities along 60 miles of beautiful Atlantic shoreline.

From a famed boardwalk to live music and theater to hundreds of restaurants and dozens of golf courses, there’s something to do in every corner of Myrtle Beach.

South Dakota: Mount Rushmore National Memorial

jkraft5/Adobe mount rushmore closeup

Many travelers have a visit to Mount Rushmore National Memorial to take in one of the most well-known works of art in the country on their bucket lists.

The massive figures of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln and the stunning surrounding Black Hills draw more than two million visitors annually.

Tennessee: Graceland (Memphis)

Mindaugas Dulinskas/Adobe elvis presley mansion interior

Tennessee has quite a few big tourist draws — like the Great Smoky Mountains and Dollywood — but Graceland is a major standout for rock fans.

The mansion that Elvis Presley once called home is open to visitors, who are welcome to tour the grounds, stroll through the gardens, check out the plane that carried the music legend to shows, and more.

Texas: The Alamo (San Antonio)

dfikar/Adobe the alamo san antonio

The historic buildings, artifacts, gardens, and history at the Alamo draw more than two million visitors annually.

The Alamo church, cannons, barracks, and other remnants from the 1836 battle are still on the grounds today — offering visitors an incredible glimpse into the past.

Utah: Zion National Park

James/Adobe the narrows hike

Visitors come from far and wide to hike, bike, ride horses, take river trips, and camp in stunning Zion National Park.

The park's natural beauty is hard to pass up — with giant, colorful sandstone cliffs, breathtaking narrows, miles of winding trails through the wilderness, and more.

Vermont: Ben & Jerry's Factory (Waterbury)

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As the only Ben & Jerry’s factory open to the public, the Waterbury site offers guests a unique opportunity to tour the grounds, learn about the ice cream giant’s humble beginnings, and enjoy some sweet treats.

The factory still manufactures over 350,000 pints daily and has a small ice cream shop and retail area.

Virginia: Colonial Williamsburg

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Visitors to Colonial Williamsburg take a step back in time to learn tales of those who worked to build the U.S. we know today.

Williamsburg was once the capital of Virginia and was a political and cultural center for much of the 1700s. Today, it’s home to the largest museum of U.S. history.

Washington: Pike Place Market (Seattle)

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe pike place market in seattle

Founded in 1907, the Pike Place Market has drawn massive crowds (of travelers and locals alike) for more than a century.

With a massive array of shops, restaurants, crafts, specialty foods, and more, you may find yourself spending the whole day in Pike Place.

West Virginia: New River Gorge National Park and Preserve

Zack Frank/Adobe the bridge at new river gorge national park

New River Gorge National Park is spread out over more than 70,000 acres of land.

Many head out to the New River for whitewater rafting, but there are plenty of other activities — like camping, hiking, fishing, and climbing — to keep visitors of all sorts busy.

Wisconsin: Milwaukee Art Museum

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As the largest art museum in Wisconsin (set in a building that is an architectural marvel itself), the Milwaukee Art Museum is home to a vast collection of more than 30,000 works.

Nearly half a million visitors pass through the renowned museum’s doors every year.

Wyoming: Grand Teton National Park

Jo Ann Snover/Adobe grand teton at schwabacher's landing

Wyoming has no shortage of incredible national parks (part of Yellowstone is also in the state), but the Tetons are a particularly strong draw for travelers.

In addition to the stunning Teton Range, the area includes more than two hundred miles of trails, the Snake River, beautiful lakes, and plenty to do.

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Bottom line

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Author Details

Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore is a seasoned freelance writer who also teaches writing courses at Rutgers University. She's based in Jersey City and enjoys travel, live music and, of course, spending quality time with her pup.

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