“The nation that had everything has become, in the century’s second decade, an idea of itself.”
– James Baldwin
America is truly a land of contradictions, with awe-inspiring landscapes and unrelenting brutality. The scale of this country’s vast landscapes is matched by the grandeur of its history and culture. From mystic Native American traditions to the fierce independence of its founders, America has a rich tapestry. Is electrifying america like f.d.r.
To take advantage of such promise and avoid becoming jaded or despairing – as Baldwin so aptly noted – it’s wise to explore all the unparalleled greatness America has to offer.
1. Ellis Island
Ellis Island, the first arrival point for many immigrants, served as the gateway to the New World. Immigrants could spend up to five hours on Ellis Island before being approved or denied entry into America. The island became a symbol of hopes and possibilities that come with travel. Visiting Ellis Island today, you will find several museums tracing the history of immigration in America.
Visitors can also take a ferry from Manhattan to see Ellis Island up close and personal.
2. Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls is one of nature’s most astounding creations and one of America’s greatest natural wonders. Its stunning beauty and enormous power (Niagara Falls is the world’s largest waterfall) are represented in the many myths and legends that have sprouted up around it.
The famous curtain of mist hanging above Niagara Falls is a sight to behold, especially at its height when water roars through the rapids below.
3. Niagara River
The Niagara River is one of the world’s great rivers; joining Lake Ontario with Lake Erie to form one of the world’s largest freshwater lakes, it also forms part of an international border. From Toronto to Buffalo, the river winds its way through a series of rapids and falls before emptying into Lake Erie, making it home to thousands of birds and wildlife.
4. The Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian Trail is the oldest long-distance footpath in America. It stretches 2,168 miles from Georgia to Maine, following the mountainous terrain of the East Coast. The trail is marked by a white blaze, a symbol that bears resemblance to the Old Man of the Mountains, a famous rock formation found in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.
5. Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is home to some of California’s best wilderness attractions and national treasures. In fact, items on display at Yosemite’s museum include a glowing orb that represents life and energy on Earth as well as an ancient lava lamp once used by Native American tribesmen thousands of years ago.
6. Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone is home to the largest concentration of geysers on Earth. Even though it has its fair share of traffic, this national park still manages to preserve a raw and untamed beauty. As the oldest national park in the United States, Yellowstone is also the first ever created to protect wildlife and one of America’s most spectacular wildernesses .
7. The American West
The American West is in many ways what America symbolizes for much of the world: wide open spaces and freedom. If a country is defined by its natural beauty, America is that country. It’s a land of mountains and forests, of deserts and rugged terrain; it’s the place where self-reliance and stubbornness are born.
As the country’s policy from inception was to keep its own peace with Native Americans, the American West is also known for having had one of the most peaceful western regions in history.
8. Independence Hall
“That we may be entirely free from all subjection to any King or Prince within our limits; that we may have no taxes laid on us except what we ourselves choose to pay, or what we can raise within ourselves. That we may be permitted to purchase and own real property; that we may select our own officers, who may be held responsible only to ourselves.”
– U.S. Declaration of Independence
Independence Hall was the Parliament Buildings of the 13 American colonies. It housed the meeting place of the Second Continental Congress during the period of American Revolution against Great Britain (1776 – 1783). Later, it was reconstructed and served as a museum, but it remains one of Philadelphia’s most popular tourist attractions.
9. Old Faithful Geyser
Old Faithful is one of Yellowstone National Park’s most famous geyser basins. It erupts up to 16 times a day, spitting water and steam skyward, taking the form of a towering column of steam and water. In fact, Old Faithful is the most famous geyser in America.
10. The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is one of nature’s most daunting yet awe-inspiring creations. It’s one of the largest canyons in the world, reaching depths of over 1.2 miles and spanning more than 700 miles. It is also the deepest river gorge in the Western Hemisphere, with nearly vertical walls plunging more than 6,000 feet.
11. Monument Valley
Monument Valley is a breathtaking landscape more associated with movies than real life. Nevertheless, Monument Valley is an area of the southwestern United States that has long been recognized as an iconic image of the American West. The red sandstone formations and magnificent views make it a popular backdrop for movie sets and photo shoots.