Things to Do & Must-See Attractions in North America
Explore the cultural heritage and natural history of the Lowcountry ecosystem and Hilton Head Island at the Coastal Discovery Museum. Located on the historic Honey Horn Plantation, the museum features indoor and outdoor exhibits, as well as guided walks and tours, offering a fun and educational day for visitors of all ages.
More than 50,000 soldiers died in the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, the bloodiest battle ever fought on American soil. Today, the Gettysburg National Military Park is a National Park Service–run memorial to the lives lost during those three fateful days of the American Civil War. The Gettysburg battlefield draws Civil War buffs and those who come to pay their respects and learn about this landmark event in American history.
Anyone curious about the history, heritage, and daily life of America’s Amish will be fascinated by the community at the Amish Farm and House in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. This 200-year-old house—one of the nation’s oldest Amish attractions—hosts house and farm tours, cultural demonstrations, and interactive classes.
Liberty State Park, a revitalized urban area in Jersey City, is a departure spot for ferries to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Once an industrial area, the land has always been crucial for arrivals to the Big Apple: The 1,000-acre park has views of the New York City skyline, the Hudson River, and the Statue of Liberty.
No visit to Juneau is complete without a close-up look at the Mendenhall Glacier — one of Alaska’s most popular attractions. The 13-mile-long (19 km) glacier ends at Mendenhall Lake and is easily viewed from the historic Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. On a sunny day the glacier is beautiful, with blue skies and snow-capped mountains in the background. On a cloudy and drizzly afternoon, the glacier is even more impressive, as the ice turns shades of deep blue.
With steep emerald cliffs, lush valleys, and remote cascading waterfalls, the Na Pali Coast is one of Hawaii’s most beautiful regions, and no visit to Kauai is complete without a visit to this magical coastline. There are only three ways to explore the Na Pali Coast—by air, by sea, and on foot—and each offers its own unique perspective.
Running 5 kilometers where the town meets the sea, the Malecón is a main road of La Paz. Lined with restaurants, bars, and shops, it is an energetic center of tourist activity. Its wide, clean boulevard is dotted with small sculptures, benches, and beachgoers, all with views of the sand and palm trees. It is a great place to take a peaceful stroll, though often you’ll be joined by those cycling or jogging the path.
The presence of vendors, musicians, and fisherman make it a lively hotspot to gather and take in the local culture. Often artists have their work on display by the small pier. It’s an especially good spot to grab a seafood lunch made with fresh ingredients from the surrounding waters. The Malecón also comes alive at night, beginning with the sunset that many come to view from the edge of the sand.
At the Cave of the Winds observation decks, thrill-seeking visitors can get within 20 feet (6 meters) of the thundering Niagara Falls for an experience that feels like the inside of a tropical storm with torrents of water cascading down and winds up to 68 mph (109 kph). Safe to say, you’ll probably get wet.
For those who like to rock, Cleveland’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame salutes you. A pilgrimage destination for music fans of all ages, the museum recognizes artists and musicians who have shaped music history since Cleveland DJ Alan Freed first coined the term “rock ‘n’ roll” in the early 1950s.
Acapulco's iconic attraction, made famous in Elvis flicks, Ray Austen stunts, and every cheerfully scrawled holiday postcard sent home ever since, are La Quebrada Cliff Divers. Beginning in the 1920s, these brave young men and women began leaping for the crowds some 45 craggy meters (150 terrifying feet) into a wave-crashed inlet just 4 meters (13 feet) deep. And that's if they time it just right.
The ritual begins with a prayer at the shrine to La Virgen de Guadalupe, carved into the cliff-top platform. Then, the divers carefully calculate when their target will have enough water to soften their fall. Finally, they leap. First in the afternoon, and as the sun sets, again. The final dive of the night plunges past torches into a sea of fire (lit with flaming gasoline), no easy feat.
More Things to Do in North America
On a peninsula along the Baja California coast, the blowhole ‘La Bufadora’ is a marine geyser that shoots ocean water straight up into the air. It occurs naturally from ocean waves that push water into a sea cavern, which causes the pressure to build and then explode when the water recedes. Depending on the level of the tide, the water can climb as high as 60 feet from the sea.
It’s often seen after a short scenic drive from nearby Ensenada, and has become well known as a natural phenomenon of the area. Legend explains that one of the many grey whales that migrate off the coast here swam too close to shore, and that the geyser is reminiscent of the whale’s spout while waiting to be discovered. There are always beautiful views of the coast here, and a small local square with shops and restaurants nearby.
Opened to the public in 2013, the Xihuacan Museum and Archeological Site offers a unique look at a pre-Columbian temple site as archeologists uncover it. Located in the area around Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, on Mexico’s Pacific coast, the archeological site include a religious pyramid about 45 feet tall and 300 feet square at the base, which remains only partially uncovered, and an ancient ball court that is one of the largest ancient courts in Mexico, second only to Chichen Itza’s. The nearby museum houses around 800 artifacts uncovered at the site, including ancient pottery, tools and art works, along with exhibits about the people who inhabited the area across more than four millennia.
Spanning eight states and 2,448 miles (3,940 kilometers), Historic Route 66 has become a cultural icon, immortalized in song and on the silver screen. This romanticized road trip from Chicago to Santa Monica offers drivers an inside look at classic America—kitschy roadside attractions, diners, historic motels, and plenty of 1950s nostalgia.
Dedicated to the rehabilitation and protection of Canada’s native wildlife, the BC Wildlife Park in Kamloops is home to over 200 animals, including Arctic wolves, bison, and cougars, most of which have been rescued. Visitors can engage in activities ranging from observing grizzly bear feedings to holding a snake.
With its rolling hills, roaming wildlife, and natural beauty, Custer State Park is one of the most scenic areas of South Dakota. Its clear streams, tall granite mountains, and open plains present much to see. Herds of bison, elk, antelope, bighorn sheep, and even wild turkey are frequently seen from one of the park’s walking trails or scenic drives.
The Needles Highway, Wildlife Loop Road, and Iron Mountain Road are some of the most beautiful drives in the park. Five beautiful lakes and various streams provide opportunities to go fishing, kayaking, and swimming as well.
After gold was discovered in the Black Hills by Lieutenant Colonel George Custer, the area quickly developed. Today it is known more for its wide open spaces and events such as the annual buffalo roundup. There is more than 71,000 acres of wild land to explore, with tunnels, forest, bridges, and viewpoints to stop at throughout.
One of Long Beach’s top attractions, the Aquarium of the Pacific is home to at least 11,000 aquatic animals across more than 50 exhibits that reflect the marine life of the Pacific Ocean. The nonprofit organization is the largest aquarium in Southern California and one of the most visited in the United States.
Old Town Scottsdale ranks among the Southwest’s top retail destinations, particularly for shoppers looking for Southwestern and Native American art and jewelry. The area is also home to the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of the West, and the Scottsdale Historical Museum.
If you've ever dreamt of swimming with manatees in their natural habitat, Florida’s Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge is where to go. Established in 1983, the 177-acre (71-hectare) refuge is home to America’s largest concentration of the 1,000-pound gentle giants. West Indian Manatees flock to the more than 70 turquoise-colored springs in Crystal River for warmth during winter. With hundreds of manatees in a small area, sightings are frequent.
Located on the former site of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum is a powerful living memorial and experiential museum that honors the victims, survivors, and rescuers of the Oklahoma City bombing of April 19, 1995.
Encompassing 1,047 square miles (2,711 square kilometers), Alaska’s Kenai Fjords National Park is named after its numerous glacial-carved fjords—beautiful ice valleys that sit below sea level. The fjords run down the mountains into the iconic Harding Icefield, one of the largest ice fields in the United States with 40 tidewater glaciers flowing into it. The stunning landscape is also a wildlife-watcher’s dream, thanks to its abundant marine animals, birds, and other native wildlife.
The Breakers, the crown jewel of the Newport mansions and the summer estate of Cornelius Vanderbilt II, is an architectural and social archetype of the Gilded Age. The 70-room, four-story structure was built in 1895 and designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt, who modeled it after 16th-century Italian Renaissance palaces.
Rio Secreto, or the “Secret River,” is a series of caves carved out by the flow of an ancient underground river in Mexico. While the reserve is most famous for its large half-sunken cavern—a popular diving spot—you can also explore eerie passageways, swim in the river, and admire dripping stalactites, stalagmites, and colorful mineral formations.
Inching up steep tracks carved into the sides of mountains, the narrow-gauge White Pass & Yukon Route Railway is a fun, historic way to see spectacular scenery. A number of routes travel through White Pass, a mountain route that links the port town of Skagway, Alaska, with the Yukon Territory capital city of Whitehorse in Canada. Climb aboard this International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark and experience mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, and historic sites from the comfort of a century-old railcar along “the railway built of gold.”
The Sea of Cortez (or Gulf of California) lies between the Baja California Peninsula and mainland Mexico. This stretch of the Pacific, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the most diverse seas in the world and home to more than 3,000 marine species, including hammerhead sharks, sea lions, and sea turtles.