1. Statue of Liberty – New York
Located on the small Liberty Island, the Statue of Liberty marks the entrance to the New York Harbor since 1886. For a long time, it was America’s first image for emigrants arriving at Ellis Island.
Symbolizing freedom and enlightenment in the world, it is today a national emblem of the United States and one of the greatest symbols of freedom and democracy in the world. Without a doubt, the statue of Liberty is, along with the Eiffel Tower, one of the greatest works of the late nineteenth century. But this is not the only common point, since these two great monuments were both designed by French architects.
Construction of this colossal statue began in 1875 in the Gaget-Gauthier workshops in Paris. Composed of 300 copper plates, the Statue of Liberty also required an internal metal framework to hold the whole. A talented engineer still unknown at the time took charge of this internal structure, Gustave Eiffel.
Assembly ended in January 1884 and the Statue of Liberty was officially handed over to the United States on 4 July 1884 in Paris to celebrate its independence. The statue was then dismantled and transported across the Atlantic. On 28 October 1886 New York inaugurated its Statue of Liberty. Despite the rain, the town was bustling and you could see American and French flags floating all around. President Cleveland saluted Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi and the veil that hid the face of the statue fell …
You can ascend through the interior up to the crown of the statue by a staircase of 354 steps. Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, access to the Crown is prohibited. You can go around the statue by ferry and admire one of the most beautiful views of Manhattan. Ferry departures take place from Battery Park, the south most point of Manhattan.
In her left hand, the statue holds a tablet on which one can read the date of American independence: July 4, 1776. At her feet are broken chains symbolizing the abolition of slavery. The 7 spikes of the crown represent the 7 seas and continents.
The measurements of the statue are impressive: a waistline of 10 m, a weight of 200 tons, towering 46.5 m high (93 m with the base). At the base of the statue, engraved on a bronze plaque, is inscribed this poem by Emma Lazarus entitled “The New Colossus“:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
2. Monument Valley – Arizona / Utah
Monument Valley is the ultimate dream of every traveler going to the American West, a sort of myth built into the world collective imagination by Marlboro’s ads and John Wayne’s westerns. The Navajos, owners of the land, call this place “Tsé Bii ‘Ndzisgaii”, which means “valley of the rocks”.
Monument Valley is the result of a long process of soil movements and erosion. Several hundreds of millions of years ago, the area was a huge plain. Enormous amounts of sediment, generated during the erosion of the Rocky Mountains, settled here and transformed over time into rock. A huge tectonic lift subsequently transformed this plain and plateau. The water and wind then began their work of erosion and sculpted the Buttes, Mesas and other rocks so characteristic of the region.
Immense desert expanses of an orange as intense as the sun will strikes you, enormous monoliths that one would think come out of earth; an impressive spectacle absolutely to be seen (even if the site has lost some of its charm by intensive tourist exploitation). And it’s even more beautiful in the evening at sunset.
Monument Valley is located in northern Arizona, on the border of Utah. There are a number of Mesas and Buttes dotted around the park, the three most famous of which are West Mitten Butte, East Mitten Butte and Merrick Butte. A winding road, Valley Drive, runs through the park and allows you to discover the other peculiarities of the site. The entrance to the park is on route 163.
3. The Golden Gate Bridge – San Francisco
Crossing the strait from the Pacific Ocean into the San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge is the most famous and beautiful bridge in the world. It is one of those great human achievements that had a profound impact on cultural development of the entire west coast.
The city of San Francisco is one of the majestic cities of California; it has become famous around the world thanks to its ominous suspension bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge. The metallic monster crosses the San Francisco Bay and connects the city (at the northern tip of the peninsula) to Sausalito. In the distance, you can see the island of Alcatraz in the middle of San Francisco Bay, which lodged until 1963 the infamous high security federal prison.
By the end of the 19th century, many had the ambition to build a bridge over the strait, but at the time the project was impossible. The depth of the water and the strength of the currents constituted impassable obstacles. Years passed and with the growth of San Francisco so did the shipping traffic in the bay, which became highly problematic. The need for a bridge had become more and more evident.
The Works Projects Administration, an initiative of President Theodore D. Roosevelt, funded this titanic project. This program was set up to help Americans through the terrible economic crisis of 1929 by giving them access to work.
Built at a cost of 35 million dollars, the Golden Gate Bridge was inaugurated four years and five months after construction began in May 1937 by President Roosevelt. The interest on the loan, finally paid off in 1971, was 39 million dollars. Today, nearly 40 million vehicles use the Golden Gate Bridge every year.
4. Casino Hotels – Las Vegas
Las Vegas is world famous for its casino hotels. Each of them has its own universe and rivals beauty or, at least, creativity with its neighbor. Certainly, it’s hard to see yourself living year-round in Nevada yet, if you are seduced by the flavorful universe of the city that never sleeps, it has a way of growing on you at each visit. If you could get mental glimpse of the city through words and images before seeing it for the first time, then reality will completely shatter that and blow you away with just the scale and the scenery of the hotels.
Some of the best-known hotels and casinos in Las Vegas are:
The Venetian Las Vegas
New York New York
The Four Seasons
Paris Las Vegas
Luxor Las Vegas
Excalibur Hotel & Casino
It would be hard to just randomly decide which to stay at. For a true Vegas experience and if you’re planning a longer stay tried to book 2 nights in each hotel so you can better compare, even if the moving around could be tiresome. Well worth the experience!
5. The Grand Canyon – Arizona
Majestic and breathtakingly beautiful, the Grand Canyon is part of the iconic landscapes of Arizona. A natural wonder that has to be seen to be believed. Stretching over 363 km, some ravines have bottoms plunging for more than a kilometer deep, where the Colorado River winds slowly south-westerly. The entrance to the Grand Canyon National Park is from either the South Rim or the North Rim. The western part of the Grand Canyon, home to the beautiful Havasupai waterfalls and town of Supai, is also accessible by road through the Hualapai Indian Reserve.
Because of its proximity to Flagstaff and Williams, the South Rim of the Grand Canyon is the most popular. At the Grand Canyon Village you’ll find all the useful services including hotels and lodges, restaurants and shops. The historic Grand Canyon Railway train from Williams arrives directly here. The town of Tusayan is located 10 km south of the entrance of the Grand Canyon National Park and it’s a well worth detour.
In the Village you’ll find many parking lots close to the various viewpoints. In summer, you can leave your car and take a free shuttle to the various observation points.
The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is closed in winter due to the altitude and snow conditions. This part of the National Park, less frequented because it’s farther away from the Grand Canyon Village, allows you to admire the true beauty of the place in all serenity.
Accessible from mid-May to mid-October, the north shore offers visitors camping sites and a grocery store. You can stay at the Grand Canyon Lodge, a historic and rustic hotel. Other accommodation options and campsites are available in Jacob Lake, approximately 70 km north of the park.
6. The Walk of Fame – Los Angeles
More than 2,500 stars decorate the sidewalks of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street. This famous sidewalk was designed by the Chamber of Commerce to recognize the people and companies of Hollywood who have contributed to the success of the entertainment industry. The Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, the only places where you’ll look down to see the stars!
Actors, actresses, filmmakers and other professionals in the film industry are not the only ones represented in the Walk of Fame in Los Angeles. The stars also recognize the most prominent personalities in the world of music, theater, television and radio. A star on Hollywood Boulevard costs about $30,000 a high price but that includes star construction, maintenance and safety. A committee is responsible for selecting between 15 and 20 new stars every year from more than 200 applications received.
7. The Hawaiian Archipelago – Hawaii
Lacking enough adjective to describe the splendid and generous Hawaiian nature. The writers of the series Lost, entirely filmed in Hawaii, were not mistaken: although inhabited, these islands are still today intact and pure; a kind of lost paradise. But reality is beyond fiction because you have to be there to realize how beautiful Hawaii is.
The Hawaiian beaches are beautiful and among the most beautiful in the world, like Lanikai Beach with crystal clear waters on Oahu, one of the favorite of President Barack Obama, born in Honolulu, whose second home is nearby. Yet, what gives the islands of Hawaii a unique appearance is above all their prodigious relief because the archipelago owes its formation to the volcanoes, and, active or extinct, they are still omnipresent on the archipelago.
Created by volcanic activity or dug by waterways for millennia, the Hawaiian landscapes are fairy-tale-like and it is also easy to understand that much of the Jurassic Park film has been shot on the verdant sharp mountains of Na Pali Coast to Kauai. And this natural beauty covers all the islands of the archipelago. Not to mention the exceptional diversity of fauna and flora on all islands, Hawaiian waters alone contain 110 species of fish that are not found anywhere else on the planet. The famous Hanauma Bay is a giant open-air aquarium on the southeast coast of Oahu.
8. Canyonlands National Park – Utah
In south-eastern Utah, this vast national park is distinguished by three distinct regions, with fiercely scattered scenes of forested mountains stretching over 2000 m above sea level.
It is from the vast plateau of Island in the Sky that the beauty of Canyonlands appears with the pink colour sandstone rocks forged by the Colorado and the Green River.
Wider still, the region called The Maze, displays its myriads of canyons from which are separated needles and mesas veiled with rainbow colour pigments. And it is in the heart of Horseshoe Canyon that the walker discovers Indian cave paintings more than two thousand years old.
The jewel of Canyonlands National Park is set in the area known as The Needles, a hotbed of sculpted arrows, pitons, arches and canyons with evocative names: Devils’ Kitchen, Caterpillar Arch or Elephant Hill. Overlooking the emerald green landscape, the spikes of the Needles impose their red and white rocky peeks.
9. The Inside Passage – Alaska
The Inside Passage has been shaped for millions of years by the erosion of immense glaciers in south-eastern Alaska and remains a magnificent place with deep fjords, immense glaciers, majestic mountains and infinite coniferous forests; this region symbolizes the classic Alaskan landscape.
Thousands of islands form a virgin and protected stream that is called the Inside Passage having on its shores many charming villages as well as small villages rich in historical value. More than half of tourists arriving in Alaska on cruise ships pass through this route through the islands of the Inside Passage to ports of call such as Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka and Skagway.
The area is inhabited by indigenous cultures such as Tlingit, Haida and the Tshimshian Indians who are famous for their art and totem sculpture, their traditional music and dances that have been meticulously preserved, especially at Ketchikan.
The Russian colonies also left their legacy with bulbous churches erected while the russians were attracted to the area in search of furs, salmon fishing, gold and woodland. Today, the tourism sector is a main source of income and employment for many picturesque coastal communities.
10. Antelope Canyon – Arizona
Antelope Canyon is an open fault in the huge red plateau that occupies northern Arizona, southern Utah and eastern Nevada: the Navajo sandstone. In this landscape of fossilized sand, whose chromatic spectrum evokes an incursion on Mars, water sometimes draws arches, bridges, mesas, and other cosmic formations. And sometimes it pierces the ceiling of a block of rock, infiltrates the heart of the breach, and opens a large fault at the mercy of torrential rains, which smooth the walls and draw fantastic undulations. These are called slot canyons, and Antelope Canyon is undoubtedly the most beautiful of all. The perfect grain of its tender colors mimics the hair of a mermaid. The darkness is warm, almost carnal; one would almost think that has lost oneself in the palpitating cavities of a large heart of stone.
When the sun at its zenith shines the heart of the throat and the beams of light penetrate in the mystical alcove, photographers go crazy. Clouds of dust draw specters in the light, and the penumbra comes to life. Just stunning!
11. New Orleans – Louisiana
Cheerful, cheerful and ever-active, New Orleans is a particularly engaging city, which lives to the rhythm of jazz in an architectural setting with crazy charm.
New Orleans is unlike any other city in the United States: its French-style neighborhood with Latin-Creole architecture, cathedral, antique shops, jazz boxes and lively streets give it an unrestrained and impertinent image that suits it like a glove.
The historic center of New Orleans, known as the French Quarter or the Vieux Carré, presents, contrary to its name, an architecture with heavy Spanish influence; best discovered while strolling about. Throughout the narrow streets with straight lines that perpetuate the tranquil atmosphere of the “Old South”, one discovers here warped-iron balconies; there are small private courtyards decorated with fountains, and a little further inwards, gardens and patios.
The Moon Walk promenade runs along the Mississippi River and is animated by a parade of authentic southern ships that offer cruises lasting from a few hours to several days.
A few steps from the Vieux Carré, the Art District or Warehouse District is the trendiest neighborhood in New Orleans. This former warehouse district has been rehabilitated and transformed to house the city’s main museums, art galleries and artists’ studios.
12. Niagara Falls – New York
Does Niagara Falls still need an introduction? This set of three waterfalls located on the Niagara River at the Canada-US border brings together the most powerful waterfalls in North America with a debit of more than 2 million liters per second.
Since 1846, millions of people have visited them each year to appreciate this display of natural power, and it’s understandably so. The site is simply grand and gives meaning to its name (Niagara means “thunder of the waters” in Indian).
Ready to dive? Then, just like Marilyn Monroe in “Niagara” made in 1952 by Henry Hathaway, don’t miss under any circumstances the ride aboard the Maid of the Mist, you will experience such a large spectrum of emotions. The boat, equipped with a powerful diesel engine, starts at the foot of the American Falls and takes you to the Canadian Falls. Waters fall tumbling from a height of 52 m in a cloud of steam that sprays minute droplets in the iridescent colors of the rainbow. A fascinating natural sound and light. If the boat does not tempt you, give yourself access to the panoramic tunnel. The view of the falls is just as incredible, the noise is deafening and you’ll have a bonus quick shower!
To fully enjoy the three falls, you may want to cross the border into Canada (consider taking your passport with you) to see the Horseshoe Falls. A horseshoe defied by boats approaching the water curtain and resisting the strong current under a permanent rainbow. The Tourbillon cable car is also fun and lets one experience picturesque views over the waters.