There are a number of things that you should see and visit when you are in the United States, but we are going to attempt to briefly explore ten of the most popular places to visit for those who decide to study in the United States.
1. New Orleans, Louisiana. Specifically try to visit the area known as the French Quarter. If you visit during Mardi Gras (traditionally celebrated the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, a Christian holy day), you can see all of the parades and craziness associated with this region. If that is too much for you, you should visit during another time of the year and take a look at the architecture and listen to the rich jazz that this region is known for. This region is still cleaning up from the catastrophe known as Hurricane Katrina (2005), but the rebuilding process has been an interesting one to check out. You can get more information about New Orleans at neworleansonline.com.
2. Washington, District of Columbia (D.C). Washington D.C. is the capital of the United States, and there is nowhere else that you can go and get as much historical and political tourism as you can in this region. The National Mall, which is the grassy area that spreads between the Washington Monument and the United States Capitol Building, is lined with dozens of museums and memorials. The Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Wall (known as “The Wall”), the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Jefferson Memorial are all found in this area of the city. The Smithsonian Institute has several museums here, including the National Air and Space Museum, the American History Museum, and the Museum of Natural History. You can find more information about tourism in Washington, D.C. at http://washington.org/, the official tourism website of the region.
3. Las Vegas, Nevada. This area is the epitome of eccentricity in the United States. You can find glass pyramids, canals, towers, circuses, casinos, and a number of other tourist attractions that millions of people travel to every single year. The city offers almost everything that you can imagine, which is why it is so popular. You can often find great deals on hotels plus flights, which gives you more money that you can use to check out the sites. Cirque du Soleil, which is known around the world for its daredevil acrobatic acts, is one of the biggest attractions in Las Vegas. If you are considering a visit to Vegas, take a look at the official site for Las Vegas tourism at http://www.lasvegas.com/.
4. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. This park is one of the most beautiful national parks in the United States. There are two million acres of land that are protected by the American government in Yellowstone Park. If you are someone that enjoys nature, then this is one of the places that you absolutely have to see. Hot springs (including the world famous Old Faithful), unique wildlife (elk, bison, wolves), and an amazing view of the stars work together to make this one of the best places for you to see what the American frontier looked like during the days of settling the Western States. Want more information about visiting this region? Check out the National Park Service’s Yellowstone website at http://www.nps.gov/yell.
5. New York City, New York. New York City is one of the most diverse and interesting cities in the country and even citizens of the United States make a point to visit there at least once in their lives. One of the most important places to visit in NYC is Times Square, the area of Broadway that is between Manhattan’s 42nd and 47th Streets. This is where the “ball drops” on New Year’s Eve, where there are dozens of stores (including a giant toy store with a carousel inside), and where several nationally recognized morning talk shows are taped and aired. It’s absolutely amazing to see the rush of culture around you in this area. If that doesn’t interest you, then check out the Metropolitan Museum of Art, known as “The Met” or any of the other museums found throughout the city. You can also plan a visit to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, or visit the 9/11 memorial at the former World Trade Center site. If you plan to go to New York City, check out their official tourist guide at http://www.nycgo.com/.
6. The Grand Canyon, Arizona. No trip to the United States is complete without a visit out west to see the Grand Canyon. This canyon is the largest in the world, and has some of the most amazing views that you will find in the United States. You can also reserve half-day or overnight mule trips or hiking trips down to the Colorado River, which is found at the bottom of the canyon. There are dozens of places to camp and check out as well. More information about visiting the Grand Canyon can be found at the National Park Service website.
7. Los Angeles, California. Los Angeles is the center of fame and fortune in the United States, and the pinnacle is found at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which has the handprints and bronze-engraved names of almost 2,500 celebrities from around the world. You can see the famous Hollywood sign and visit the high-class neighborhoods. You can check out the beaches there as well. Whatever you want to check out on the West Coast, you can probably find it in Los Angeles. Want more information? Check out the Discover Los Angeles website for more information.
8. Orlando, Florida. If you want to get a taste of Florida, the best place to do so is Orlando. In Orlando, you can check out Disney’s Magic Kingdom, which is the home of Cinderella’s Castle and a number of other famous attractions. Even though you may assume this is a tourist trap, it’s worth the trip. If you enjoy rides and attractions, you can also check out Universal Studios and try out the dozens of roller coasters at the main park and their sister park, Islands of Adventure. If you are planning a trip to Orlando, the Visit Orlando website has a lot of great resources for you to check out.
9. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. This is probably the smallest region on this list, but if you are into history, this is the area of the country that you must check out. The largest battle of the American Civil War occurred here, where thousands of soldiers from both sides lost their lives. There are a number of museums found in this region as well, and many of them have compelling displays and information that you cannot find anywhere else. Take a drive through the battlefields using one of their audio tours. More information about Gettysburg can be found at the National Park Service website at nps.gov/gett.
10. Nashville, Tennessee. Do you like music? Nashville is the place that you should go. Known as Music City, USA, Nashville is home to a number of recording artists, recording studios, music theatres, and other attractions that will appeal to any music lover. There are also other attractions, like the Southern Ground Music and Food Festival and awards ceremonies for some of the most popular music genres in the world. Wine festivals and fairs are also a big deal. If you want to visit Music City, check out the official website for Nashville tourism at http://www.visitmusiccity.com/.
If you are interested in looking at other places in the United States during your time in the country, talk to the international studies office at the university you are attending; they may be able to give you suggestions on local places to check out. You can also find more suggestions in this article from the Los Angeles Times and at Immihelp’s website. No matter which part of the United States you are studying in, make sure to take the time to look at the sights and learn about the country while you are there; it’s a huge part of the international student experience.