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Located in Southern Utah, Bryce Canyon National Park is a breathtaking display of rock formations. Technically, Bryce Canyon isn’t a canyon, but a series of natural amphitheaters. Mormon settlers once called the canyon home, but now most visitors come for the awe-inspiring views and the magnificent hiking opportunities. Sunset Point is one of the most popular vantage points, offering panoramic views of the red, yellow and orange rock formations. Queen’s Garden Trail is another favorite, because it offers green trees amongst the red rocks for a brilliant juxtaposition.
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In the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, there is Yosemite National Park. This extraordinary destination is known the world over for its amazing scenery. Within this single park, visitors can peer off spectacular granite cliffs, admire clear waterfalls and see sequoia trees that are hundreds of years old. Yosemite Valley is a top spot to explore in the park, because it boasts the enormous Yosemite Falls as well as the granite monolith called Half Dome.
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Straddling the border between Tennessee and North Carolina is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The park is the most visited in the entire country, thanks in large part to its enormous size and its incredible scenery. Visitors can hike through old growth forest, spot hundreds of species of birds and check out the two visitor centers. Hikes can also wind through trails that lead to the waterfalls of Laurel Falls and the vistas of Clingman’s Dome.
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Cape Canaveral, located on the coast of Florida, boasts a lot of space-related attractions. One of the best is the Kennedy Space Center, which has been the launch site for every US human space flight since 1968 and currently operates as a launch site for unmanned rockets. Visitors can learn more about the early pioneers into space, and they can also experience the tension and excitement over the rush to the moon. There is even the chance to participate in the Shuttle Launch Experience, which replicates the experience of space travel.
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Perhaps the most unmistakably American landmark is Mount Rushmore, a national memorial located in South Dakota, USA. Constructed in the early 20th century, Mount Rushmore depicts the faces of four former American presidents, each of which is carved and blasted from the side of a rock face. Visitors can admire the larger-than-life faces of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. The short Presidential Trail at the base of Mount Rushmore provides better views and an interesting perspective on the landmark.
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The Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado is home to the preserved homes of the Ancestral Pueblo people. Many of these homes, which are carved right from caves and rock faces, date back to the early 13th century. Today, it is possible to walk beneath the overhanging cliffs and tour these ancient abodes. The Balcony House is especially well preserved, and it boasts 40 rooms that are accessible exclusively by ladder. The nearby Cliff Palace is even bigger, and it is believed to have housed more than 100 people in its 150 original rooms.
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Kilauea is the most recent of a series of volcanoes that have created the Hawaiian Archipelago. It is a very low, flat shield volcano, vastly different in profile from the high, sharply sloping peaks of stratovolcanoes. Kilauea is one of the most active volcano on the Earth, an invaluable resource for volcanologists. Thirty-three eruptions have taken place since 1952, not including the current eruption which started on January 3, 1983 and is still ongoing.
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Situated between the state of New York and the province of Ontario, Niagara Falls is one of the most spectacular natural wonders on the North American continent. Niagara Falls is actually three different falls, the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and Horseshoe Falls. Horseshoe Falls is located on the Canadian side while the other are located in New York. With more than 14 million visitors each year it is one of the most visited tourist attraction in the world.
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The Florida Keys are a 120 mile long chain of tropical islands curving around the base of the Florida peninsula, connected to the mainland by a series of bridges. The most spectacular bridge, the Seven Mile Bridge in the Lower Keys, has been frequently used as a location for films including True Lies and Fast 2 Furious. US Highway 1, the “Overseas Highway” runs from Key Largo, Islamadora, Marathon, Lower Keys and finally to Key West, the most distant and most famous island.
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The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate, the strait between San Francisco and Marin County to the north. The Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge span in the world when it was completed in 1937, and has become an internationally recognized symbol of San Francisco and California. The famous red-orange color of the bridge was specifically chosen to make the bridge more easily visible through the thick fog that frequently shrouds the bridge.
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Washington DC is a hub for American politics and history. Attracting as many school field trips as it does travelers the district offers a peek into the country’s democratic origin. There are plenty of free museums to take advantage of but the real draw here is the memorials and monuments dedicated to great American leaders. Spend some contemplative time at the Reflecting Pool within the National Mall, among the most patriotic places in the country.
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How about a 3-mile-long glacier that you can visit in your car? That’s the Athabasca Glacier, located in the spectacular Columbia Icefield near Jasper in the Canadian Rockies. Visit soon, though, as this behemoth beauty has been receding at a rapid clip for the past century.
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Yellowstone National Park was the world’s first national park, set aside in 1872 to preserve the vast number of geysers, hot springs, and other thermal areas, as well as to protect the incredible wildlife and rugged beauty of the area. Yellowstone lies on top of a gigantic hotspot where light, hot, molten mantle rock rises towards the surface. Subsequently, the park contains half of all the world’s known geothermal features, with more than 10,000 examples of geysers and hot springs. In addition, black bears, grizzly bears, deer, elk, bison and wolves can all be found within the park borders.
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The Grand Canyon is located in northern Arizona and is one of the great tourist attractions in the United States. Carved over several million years by the Colorado River, the canyon attains a depth of over 1.6 km (1 mile) and 446 km (277 miles) long. The Grand Canyon is not the deepest or the longest canyon in the world but the overwhelming size and its intricate and colorful landscape offers visitor spectacular vistas that are unmatched throughout the world.
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Manhattan is one of New York’s five boroughs and is what people most often think of when they picture New York City. It’s familiar skyline and sights have been featured a thousand times on screen. Walk in the shadow of the skyscrapers, picture the Statue of Liberty, see a Broadway show , climb the Empire State building, stroll Central Park, window shop on 5th Avenue or stagger around a museum.