THE STATUE OF LIBERTY:
Presented to the United States in 1886 as a gift from France, Lady Liberty is a near-universal symbol of freedom and democracy, standing 152 feet high atop an 89-foot pedestal on Liberty Island. You can get a sense of the thrill millions of immigrants must have experienced as you approach it on the ferry from Battery Park and see the statue grow from a vaguely defined figure on the horizon into a towering, stately colossus.
Holding back the mighty Colorado River, this massive feat of engineering creates hydroelectric power and helps provides water for seven states. In 2010, the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge opened to allow for faster travel through the area. But it’s still worth stopping to admire the Art Deco wonder and tour the facilities.
THE FREEDOM TRAIL:
This path through central Boston provides a chance literally to walk in the footsteps of America’s forefathers. It leads past locations where much of the drama that would bring about the American Revolution unfolded, from Faneuil Hall to the Old North Church to the site of the Boston Massacre.
ST. LOUIS ARCH:
Part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Park, this iconic structure symbolizes the importance of St. Louis as the Gateway to the West. Be sure to ride to the top for great views of the city and the Mississippi.
In this building the Declaration of Independence was signed, George Washington was appointed commander in chief of the Continental Army, and the Constitution was ratified. In other words, there’s no other structure in the United States that’s loaded with more historical significance. The Hall is part of Independence National Historical Park, where you’ll also find the Liberty Bell and several museums.
GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE:
The suspension bridge connecting San Francisco with Marin County, completed in 1937, is a triumph in just about every way. With its 2-mi span and 750-foot towers, it’s both beautiful and durable—it was built to withstand winds of more than 100 mph and was undamaged by the 1989 Loma Prieta quake. The bridge’s walkway provides unparalleled views of the Bay Area.
In the midst of South Dakota’s Black Hills, 60-foot-high likenesses of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt are carved into a massive granite cliff; the result is America’s most famous memorial. From June through mid-September, the majestic faces are dramatically illuminated at night.
This one-time Franciscan mission stands as a monument to the 189 Texan volunteers who fought and died here during a 13-day siege in 1836 by Mexican general Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. The Texans lost the battle, but they ultimately won their bid for independence with “Remember the Alamo” as their rallying cry.
THE NATIONAL MALL:
Washington’s Mall is surrounded by a collection of great American landmarks, with the Capitol at one end, the Washington Monument at the other, and the Lincoln Memorial and Vietnam Memorial (among many others) near at hand. There are also nearly a dozen museums bordering the Mall.
The first shots of the Civil War were fired on this fort on a man-made island in Charleston’s harbor. The 34-hour battle that ensued would result in defeat for the Union and turn Fort Sumter into a symbol of Southern resistance. Today the National Park Service oversees it, with rangers giving interpretive talks and conducting guided tours.