Awesome America: 51 Facts And Attractions You Need To Check Out

07/04/2013 07:41 am ET | Updated Jul 01, 2015

us attractions to see

With 50 states, 59 national parks, countless museums, monuments and attractions, there is a never-ending list of things to see and do in America.

Once you've checked the big ones off your list, do you find yourself wondering where to head next?

Because America is awesome and we are celebrating our independence today, we've compiled quite a list of must-sees, from the historical and natural to the wacky and wonderful.

Click through the slideshow below to see what we found.

  • Alabama
  • There are plenty of monuments to be visited in America. But the Boll Weevil Monument, located in Enterprise, Ala., may be one of the most bizarre. The town erected the monument in 1919 in honor of the boll weevil bug, which destroyed Enterprise’s crops, forcing the town to diversify its agriculture.
  • Alaska
  • Mountain climbers, take note: The highest peak in America is located atop Mount McKinley. Located within Denali National Park & Preserve, the mountain’s peak reaches 20,320 feet and features the famous West Buttress route.
  • Arizona
  • Kitt Peak National Observatory, 56 miles southwest of Tucson, is home to the largest collection of astronomical observatories in the world. Visitors can stargaze at a nightly observing program or take a guided tour of the observatory.
  • Arkansas
  • Crater of Diamonds State Park is the only diamond-producing site in the world open to the public. The park allows visitors to dig for diamonds and, unlike most public mining sites, has the policy “finders, keepers.”
  • California
  • The lowest accessible point in the U.S. is located in Death Valley National Park, in Death Valley. Badwater Basin is 282 ft below sea level and borders the salt flats, which are extremely hazardous and off-limits to park visitors. In general, Death Valley is known to be one of the hottest and most dangerous places in America.
  • Colorado tourists can take a break from the mountains and visit the U.S. Air Force Academy, located in Colorado Springs. The Academy welcomes visitors to tour the site, attend academy concerts, and check out nearby Cheyenne Mountain State Park.
  • Connecticut
  • Did you love PEZ candies growing up? Do you still have a collection of those nifty little dispensers? The PEZ Candy company’s headquarters and factory are located in Orange. Visitors can view the production floor, learn about how the dispensers and candies are made, and check out an extensive gift shop.
  • District of Columbia
  • Go see the original “Star-Spangled Banner” that inspired America’s National Anthem at the National Museum of American History. It’s free!
  • Delaware
  • Time to shop ‘til you drop! Delaware has no sales tax. Shopping malls strategically located on the Interstate 95 corridor attract travelers from all over the East Coast.
  • Florida
  • Brevard County, in central Florida, is the shark attack capital of the world. The ratio of shoreline to attacks is particularly high due to the number of both swimmers and sharks.
  • Georgia
    Getty Images
  • Coca Cola fans will love the World of Coca Cola, located in Atlanta -- it's basically Disney World for soda addicts. Learn about your favorite beverages, sample 100 different sodas from around the world and experience the 4-D movie theater. (Photo by Visions of America/UIG via Getty Images)
  • Hawaii
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  • Hawaii is the only state that commercially grows coffee. Tour coffee orchards, plantations and mills to learn about the harvesting, processing and roasting methods, and sample the final product.
  • Idaho
    West Yellowstone Net
  • You can’t go far in the U.S. without stumbling upon a Main Street. But the longest Main Street is located in the city of Island Park. The street is 35 miles long.
  • Every year on St. Patrick’s Day the Chicago River goes from murky to emerald green. The river is dyed green in honor of the holiday and Chicago's St. Patrick's Day Parade.
  • If you decide to take a fishing trip while in Indiana, make sure you don’t pack dynamite, firearms, or a crossbow, because it’s illegal to fish with them. Be sure to pack some form of fishing gear, though, because it’s also illegal to fish with your bare hands.
  • Hey, Star Trek fans! Did you know you can visit the future birthplace of Captain Kirk? In approximately 200 years, the fictional captain of the Enterprise starship will be born in Riverside. The small town boasts plenty of quirky souvenirs to remember Kirk’s “birthplace.”
  • Kansas
  • The Kansas Speleological Society has catalogued over 500 caves in the state. While it's not technically a cave, the Strataca Underground Salt Museum brings visitors 650 below ground to explore the salt mines.
  • Kentucky
  • Food enthusiasts can get a taste of history at the Harland Sanders Museum and Cafe in Corbin. The museum was formerly the home of Harland -- a.k.a. Coronel -- Sanders and was where the fast-food chain got its start.
  • Louisiana
  • The Atchafalaya Basin is the largest wetland and swamp in the United States. It contains nearly one million acres bottomland hardwoods, swamps, bayous and backwater lakes.
  • Maine
  • The whoopie pie is the official state treat of Maine, while the official state dessert is blueberry pie. Both sweets are celebrated at festivals around the state, like the Wilton Blueberry Festival in Western Maine and the Maine Whoopie Pie Festival which occurs each June.
  • Maryland
  • Maryland is famous for its seafood -- especially crabs. During lunch hour on the Chesapeake Bay, crab cakes outsell hamburgers and hotdogs combined!
  • Massachusetts
  • Basketball fans must make a trip to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, located in Springfield. The Hall of Fame is filled with basketball relics and interactive experiences, including skills challenges, clinics and shooting contests.
  • Michigan
  • RAWR! The Detroit Zoo was the first zoo in America to feature cageless exhibits that allowed animals to roam (almost) freely.
  • Minnesota
  • Minnesota travelers can check “World’s Largest Ball of Twine” off their bucket lists. Located in Darwin, the twine ball is the largest in the world to have been rolled by one man.
  • Mississippi
  • Friendship Cemetery was the site where the ladies of Columbus decided to decorate both Confederate and Union graves with flowers a year after the Civil War ended. This act is seen as a precursor to Memorial Day -- the annual recognition of American casualties of war.
  • Missouri
  • Check the forecast before heading to Missouri! The record for highest statewide temperature (118ºF) and lowest statewide temperature (-40ºF) is held by the same city -- Warsaw.
  • Montana
  • Montana’s Beartooth Mountains in Custer National Forest are home to Grasshopper Glacier, which is named for the grasshoppers that can still be seen frozen in it. Scientists believe that migratory grasshoppers were caught in a severe storm and deposited on the glacier. Ice and snow then buried the grasshoppers into the glacial ice -- forever.
  • Nebraska
  • Where was rye bread, corned beef, Swiss cheese, and sauerkraut combined for the first time to create the masterpiece that is the Reuben? According to some accounts, it was created by a grocer in Omaha.
  • Nevada
  • When you think of slot machines, which state comes to mind? Nevada, obviously. And naturally, the first ever slot machine was in created in the gambling mecca. Visit the Nevada State Museum in Carson City and check out The Fey Collection, which features “Liberty Bell” -- the original slot machine designed by Charles Fey in the 1890s.
  • New Hampshire
  • Peterborough Town Library, in Peterborough is the oldest tax-supported public library in the world. It was founded in 1833 and is functional and welcomes visitors today.
    Ellis Island is in New York, right? Wrong! The gateway to America for millions of immigrants is often associated with New York City, but is in fact part of the state of New Jersey.
    Alien tourism is central to Roswell-- also known as “Alien City.” The town is home to the International UFO Museum & Research Center.
    New York City has 722 miles of subway track. Visit the New York Transit Museum to learn about the construction and history of one of the nation’s great architectural treasures.
    The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was the first state university in all of the U.S. Oh, and its campus is pretty freaking beautiful.
    Before he was president, Theodore Roosevelt went to the Dakota Territory to hunt bison. He was inspired to establish a cattle business there and created the Maltese Cross and Elkhorn ranches. The Maltese Cross Cabin at North Dakota’s Theodore Roosevelt National Park is now a popular attraction for presidential history buffs.
    Rock fans must, at least once, make the pilgrimage to Cleveland -- home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.
    Ballsy! Vinita hosts the World’s Largest Calf Fry & Cook-Off every year. Oh, calf fries are bull testicles.
    Portland is home to the world’s smallest park, Mill Ends Park, which totals 452 inches. It was created in 1947 as a colony for leprechauns and a location for snail racing.
    Hershey is considered the chocolate capital of America. The town where Milton Hershey began his renowned chocolate factory is now a tourist hotspot. With something for everyone, Hershey has an amusement park, spas, resorts, golf, dining and, of course, plenty of chocolate.
    The Flying Horse Carousel in Watch Hill built in 1876, is America’s oldest carousel. And it’s still running!
    Parsons Mountain Park in Sumter National Forest boasts numerous trails for hiking and exploring. The park also is unique in having a 24-mile motorcycle trail and a 26-mile horse trail, so everybody has somewhere to ride.
    South Dakota is home to Mount Rushmore -- a mountain carving of the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln -- which took sculptor Gutzon Borglum 14 years to complete.
    Country music fans know about Nashville, Memphis and Graceland. But Bristol is the real birthplace of country music. In 1927 on Bristol’s State Street, record producer Ralph Peer met with the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, and other soon-to-be-famous artists and recorded the very first country tunes. The Birthplace of Country Music Museum is currently in the works.
    The flags of six nations (Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the United States of America, and the Confederate States of America) have flown over the state of Texas. The first ever Six Flags amusement park was established in Arlington and was called Six Flags Over Texas, inspired by the state's history.
    The Bingham Canyon Mine in Salt Lake City is the largest pit in America. Go check it out!
    A veritable shrine to ice cream, the Ben & Jerry’s Factory in Waterbury is a must see for fans of frozen treats. Take a tour of the factory, learn about ice cream production and manufacturing and sample the flavor of the day. There’s even a Flavor Graveyard, which commemorates retired Ben & Jerry’s flavors.
    Virginia contains George Washington’s Mount Vernon, James Madison's Montpelier and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. All can be visited!
    The first spa open to the public was in Berkeley Springs in 1756, and it’s still around! Treat yourself to a historical massage.
    The Space Needle in Seattle boasts Skycity -- the first revolving restaurant in the United States. The entire restaurants moves 360º so you can enjoy the entire city from up high as you enjoy a delicious meal.
    Wisconsin is famous for dairy and football. But the state is also home to the nation’s largest water park. Noah’s Ark, located in Wisconsin Dells boasts 51 water slides.
    Yellowstone National Park was not only the nation’s but also the world’s first national park, created in 1872 -- 18 years before Wyoming even became a state! (MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

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