The best places to visit in the United States, according to Americans who have visited them

Linley SandersData Journalist
January 20, 2023, 3:00 PM GMT+0

The United States is full of famous landmarks and tourist attractions, but which ones are most worth visiting? To create a travel guide of popular destinations, YouGov asked Americans who have visited each of the country's top spots whether or not they would recommend each to someone else. A separate article ranks the top natural landmarks, including national parks. This one ranks the rest.

The poll covered a list of 33 U.S. landmarks, based on both an open-ended survey question that asked Americans to share their favorite and least favorite landmarks they have seen in the U.S. as well as online lists of popular tourist spots. Americans who said that they had personally visited a location were asked whether or not they would recommend it to someone else as a destination.

For each of the 33 places polled, at least 70% of American visitors said they would strongly or somewhat recommend it to someone else as a place to visit. Because that didn't leave much room to separate the leaders and laggards, YouGov used the share of Americans who strongly recommend visiting a location to determine which ones are the most worthy of a visit. Here are the top U.S. tourist destinations, based on strong recommendations from people who have already visited — starting with two clusters of top spots in the nation's capital and its most populous city:

The top places to visit in Washington D.C.

The Washington, D.C., area is home to many of the country's most recommended spots, generally tied to the city's status as the nation's capital. The five D.C.-based locations included on the list of 33 all made the Top 10, with at least three in five Americans who have visited each spot strongly recommending it. From the YouGov list, the most-recommended place to visit in and around Washington, D.C., is Arlington (Va.) National Cemetery, a national burial place that the U.S. Army oversees.

  1. Arlington National Cemetery: 70% who have visited it would strongly recommend it
  2. The Lincoln Memorial: 67%
  3. The Washington Monument: 61%
  4. The National Mall: 61%
  5. The White House: 60%

The top places to visit in New York City, N.Y.

New York City — the country's most populated city — is home to six popular tourist destinations on our list of 33. Not all of the city's hotspots are recommended by people who have seen them first-hand, however. The Statue of Liberty is strongly recommended by two-thirds of Americans who have been there, placing fourth nationally. Three other spots — bustling Times Square, Rockefeller Center, and the Brooklyn Bridge — are each strongly recommended by fewer than half of the people who have visited.

  1. Statue of Liberty: 65% who have visited it would strongly recommend it
  2. World Trade Center Memorial: 58%
  3. Ellis Island: 57%
  4. Empire State Building: 52%
  5. Times Square: 48%
  6. Rockefeller Center: 42%
  7. Brooklyn Bridge: 33%

The top places to visit in the United States

The most strongly recommended place to visit is the ​​Pearl Harbor National Memorial / USS Arizona Memorial in Honolulu. It's the site of the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor that drove the U.S. to enter World War II. Likely not hurting its ranking is its location in the U.S. state that Americans consider to be the best. Pearl Harbor is essentially tied with the second spot on the list, Arlington National Cemetery, for being highly recommended.

Not all highly endorsed locations are in Hawaii, New York, and the Washington, D.C., area. Most Americans (58%) who have visited Mount Rushmore in South Dakota strongly recommend it. Majorities also strongly recommend Independence Hall (56%) and the Liberty Bell (55%) in Philadelphia. On the West Coast, 56% who have seen Alcatraz Island in San Francisco would strongly encourage others to visit it. The Alamo (54%) and NASA Space Center (54%) in Texas also receive strong recommendations from majorities of the people who have seen each one.

Americans gave good overall endorsements to each location asked about, but there were a few places whose visitors were especially unlikely to say they'd "strongly recommend" them. The lowest-ranked tourist attractions by this measure were the Bean in Chicago (36% strongly recommend), the Hollywood Walk of Fame (35%), the Mall of America in Minneapolis (34%), the Brooklyn Bridge (33%), and the Hollywood sign (27%).

— Carl Bialik and Taylor Orth contributed to this article

See the toplines and crosstabs for this YouGov poll conducted on September 22 - 25, 2022.

Methodology: This poll was conducted on September 22 - 25, 2022 among 1,000 U.S. adult citizens. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to March 15, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 28% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is ±3

Image: Adobe Stock (tobago77)