The Best Cities in the United States for Sights and Landmarks

Travelers (and especially history buffs) take note: what’s about to follow is a list of the top nine cities in the United States for sights and landmarks. Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe—to share their opinions on the top cities, islands, cruise lines, spas, airlines, and more. One quality readers voted on was a city’s sights and landmarks—and it turns out, you’ll have to pretty far west to see all of the cities on this list. Coming in at the No. 7 spot was Honolulu, Hawaii, which scored points for having the only royal palace in the country. Readers also raved about the Bishop Museum (a vast collection of Hawaiian artifacts and royal heirlooms), the botanical gardens, and the powerful experiences they had at Pearl Harbor. A handful of cities are in the American South, including New Orleans, Savannah, and Charleston (the No. 1 city in the world, in fact). Antebellum architecture, roots deeply set in America’s turbulent history, and new, more modern attractions (like Savannah’s College of Art and Design Museum) make these cities more relevant than ever. And it’s no surprise that the charming New England city of Boston landed on the list. “Boston is small enough to walk,” said one World’s Best voter, “but big enough to include all the cultural landmarks that make a great city.” Among the standout sights are the Freedom Trail, the historic Faneuil Hall marketplace (which dates back to 1743), and the New England Aquarium, where you can see the New England harbor seals for free before entering. Chances are, a single trip to one of these top cities for sights and landmarks won’t be enough. But fortunately, you’re going to love them enough to return again and again.

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9. Chicago, Illinois

Best U.S. Cities for Sights and Landmarks
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8. New Orleans, Louisiana

Best U.S. Cities for Sights and Landmarks
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7. Honolulu, Hawaii

Best Cities for Sights and Landmarks
Noe DeWitt
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6. Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia
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5. Boston, Massachusetts

Best U.S. Cities for Sights and Landmarks
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4. Charleston, South Carolina

Best U.S. Cities for Sights and Landmarks
Peter Frank Edwards
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3. San Francisco, California

Best U.S. Cities for Sights and Landmarks
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2. New York, New York

Best U.S. Cities for Sights and Landmarks
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No. 1 Washington, District of Columbia

Best U.S. Cities for Sights and Landmarks
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Everyone should plan a trip to Washington, D.C. (but especially Americans). And not just because the country’s capital is a great place to learn about national history: without reading a textbook. Our readers ranked D.C. the top city in the U.S. for sights and landmarks. There’s the National Mall & Memorial Parks, the famous (and free!) Smithsonian museums, President Lincoln’s cottage, the historic Howard Theatre, the Tidal Basin—the list isn’t anything close to short. “[There are] enough sights to keep you busy for over a week,” commented one reader. The best part? Many are free.

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