The Best Travel Experiences in 15 U.S. Destinations

A quiet, cobbled lane in the historic French Quarter of Charleston, S.C., is just one of several hidden pathways in the city. This narrow alleyway is just 10 feet wide and 540 feet long and it’s called Longitude Lane, even though it’s not longitudinal. It offers one of the most picturesque views in the city, giving pedestrians a glimpse back in time to what Charleston must have looked like before the modern age of transportation, according to Charleston’s public library.

How the alleyway got its name is just one of the mysteries and curious historic tales you can learn about a walking tour of this historic city’s hidden pathways and secret alleys.

Charleston is a top tourist destination, according to Tripadvisor, and great for ghost tours, historical tours, food and cultural tours. Its rich history makes it a interesting destination for visitors from both the U.S. and abroad.

When you visit a new city, sometimes a guided tour is a good way to go, especially if you’re short on time and don’t know where to begin. It might be worth it to budget $50 or $100 for a short or half-day tour or even $200 to get a full-day excursion. Guides who know their way around can tell you about the history of an area, where the best food is, and get you to the best sights without you having to worry about admission tickets, lines, or finding transportation. It can make for a richer travel experience.

Viator, a marketplace for booking travel experiences such as tours and activities, came up with 20 of the best experiences in U.S. cities. Their ranking is based on average review ratings, share of bookings with a review, and number of bookings on the site over a 12-month period from travelers around the world, culling through thousands of experiences for the best things to do and see.

Here are their top travel experiences in 15 U.S. destinations.

Boston: The Freedom Trail

Delve into the history of the American Revolution strolling Boston’s Freedom Trail. Walk it on your own or take a tour — there are many types, themed around everything from revolutionary women and African-American patriots to a macabre nighttime lantern tour or a historic pub crawl.

Sights along the Boston Freedom Trail include Bunker Hill, Copp’s Hill burying ground, the Paul Revere House and, pictured here, the USS Constitution, also known as “Old Ironsides,” the oldest commissioned warship afloat which dates back to the War of 1812 when she fought the British frigate HMS Guerriere. 

Atlanta: Black History and Civil Rights Tour

Immerse yourself in Atlanta’s Black culture, history, and traditions. Visit African-American neighborhoods, local civil rights landmarks, and more. Several tour companies provide walking, biking, or driving tours.

Atlanta’s neighborhood of Sweet Auburn, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born, is the heart of black enterprise and the Civil Rights movement. There’s the Apex Museum, which gives a view of history from an African- American perspective, the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park and the King Center, plus several other important historic sights in this area.

Portland, Oregon: Columbia River Gorge and Waterfall Hiking Tour

It’s hard to get a sense of the sheer size and beauty of this spectacular river canyon until you see it in person. It’s 80 miles long and up to 4,000 feet deep and meanders past cliffs, spires, and ridges set against nearby peaks of the Cascade Mountains.

The highlight of Columbia River Gorge is Multnomah Falls, the highest waterfall in the state; you can see it on your own, or a tour will take you to see even more scenery as well as lesser-known falls throughout the region. 

Savannah, Georgia: Historic Night Walking Tour

The creepy side of Savannah comes out in a night tour of this historic city guided by lantern. Pictured is the cobblestoned River Street.

A historical ghost tour takes a deep dive into Savannah’s history of war, executions, murders, and mystery. Visit the historic squares and cobblestone streets and see moss-draped oaks by lantern light and hear their eerie tales. Pictured is Savannah’s Colonial Park Cemetery.

Las Vegas: Bus tour to Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam

When you’ve had enough of cigarette smoke, drinking and gambling in Las Vegas, take a day to see  the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam and several other sights along the way on a full-day bus tour from Vegas. 

Three of Viator’s top experiences include visits to Hoover Dam, which was built during the Great Depression. At the time, it was the highest dam in the world and it holds back the largest man-made lake in the U.S. Some tours of Hoover Dam take you into its massive power plant.

The trip from Las Vegas to Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon takes you through the expansive desert of Arizona, where you can see Joshua Trees and maybe desert big horn sheep. Some tours will take you to Seven Magic Mountains, an art installation featuring these towering, painted boulder totems by artist Ugo Rondinone.

Hawaii’s Big Island

If you’re in Hawaii and somehow short on time or just don’t want to drive yourself, you can see the best of the island on a bus tour in a day. See the dramatically different landscapes of the island, from the ranching town of Waimea to black-sand beaches, thundering waterfalls, a coffee farm and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. 

Some of the sights you can see on Hawaii’s Big Island include sweeping views of the Hamakua Coast and Waipio Valley, where King Kamehameha was raised as a child. Some of the top waterfalls include Akaka Falls and Rainbow Falls. If you’re lucky, you’ll see green sea turtles on one of the black sand beaches along the way.

Valley of Fire Hiking Tour from Las Vegas

Escape the neon and slot machines with an excursion to Valley of Fire State Park, about an hour’s drive from Las Vegas. The park is known for its stunning red sandstone formations which formed from shifting sand dunes 150 million years ago.

At Valley of Fire, see Native American petroglyphs that are believed to be 3,000 years old. Take an easy, moderate, or challenging hike to see the multihued desert scenery. A tour may take you past Lake Mead and the Moapa Indian Reservation, too.

Willow Beach Marina, Arizona: Kayak on the Colorado River

Another escape from Las Vegas is a half-day tour that takes you to Willow Beach Marina, about an hour from Vegas. A 2-mile paddle gets you to Emerald Cove, pictured here. You can swim in the crystal-clear water of the Colorado River, spot wildlife, snap photos, and go on a short hike to a bluff with amazing views.

Walking History Tour of Salem, Massachusetts

Learn about the mysterious history of Salem on a guided walking tour of the city. A local historian recounts 400 years of history while you admire the old architecture of this seaside town. For a spookier experience, take a nighttime tour led by lantern light and find out the truth about the 1692 Salem Witch Trial hysteria.

Historic Charleston, S.C. 

A guided walking tour of the heart of Charleston’s historic district and French Quarter takes you to places like America’s first theatre, Charleston City Hall, the Old Exchange Building, White Point Garden, Rainbow Row, Fort Sumter and more.

One stop in historic Charleston includes the Old Slave Mart Museum, a former site of slave auctions. It includes African American history, arts and crafts and offers an informative, sobering education on the history of slavery.

Charleston, S.C. Hidden Alleyways and Historic Sites 

Another popular history tour in Charleston is a small-group walking tour of the city’s hidden passages and alleyways. It includes the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, a colonial building with a 300-year history featuring pirates, patriots and presidents.

Arlington National Cemetery Changing of the Guards

See the moving Changing of the Guards at the Tomb of the Unknowns on a guided walking tour of Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. A tour helps you get good views of this moving ceremony, then leads you to some of the cemetery’s most important gravesites and memorials, including the USS Maine, Second World War soldier Audie Murphy, and more.

Learn the fascinating history of the cemetery as you walk and visit the graves of John F. Kennedy, as well as Jackie Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Edward Kennedy.

New York City

You can’t see all of New York City in a day but you can try. Start with a guided tour of the Big Apple’s top attractions including Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the World Trade Center and 9/11 Memorial, where you’ll eat lunch at Gansevoort Liberty Market.

The 28-stop New York City tour also includes the Times Square area, a walk into Central Park to visit the Strawberry Fields John Lennon memorial, (pictured) and you can spot the luxury condominium towers where wealthy celebrities live.  

But wait! There’s more. This whirlwind tour includes a ride on the Staten Island Ferry, when you’ll pass by Ellis Island, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty, plus drive-by’s of the Central Park Zoo, Plaza Hotel, Carnegie Hall, Fifth Avenue, Radio City Music Hall, SoHo, Little Italy, Chinatown, and several more. Whew!

Washington D.C. at Night

Washington D.C.’s monuments and landmarks light up after dark, perfect for dramatic views and memorable photos of the city. Explore the sights from the National Mall to the White House and key memorials as you learn about each site. 

Another winner is a private tour of D.C.’s monuments and landmarks, offering a more luxurious, flexible way to see the sights, including the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, pictured here.

Another top experience award in D.C. is a tour that explores the city’s monuments and war memorials on a special eCruiser electric car. Drive by the White House, through Capitol Hill, the Smithsonian museum complex, and other hotspots while keeping your carbon footprint down.

New Orleans French Quarter Walking Food Tour

Explore New Orleans’ food culture with a guided that takes you to some of the French Quarter’s most famous restaurants for some of the area’s most delicious food, like seafood gumbo, Creole brisket, and beignets, pictured here.

In New Orleans, you can visit kitchens often seen on food shows and featured in cookbooks, and enjoy tastings from the French Market, pictured, the oldest of its kind in the U.S. There’s plenty of walking around the French Quarter to burn off the calories.

Los Angeles Hollywood Sign

Go sightseeing in the hills above Los Angeles with a vigorous walk to the famous Hollywood sign, where you see amazing views of the city below. Learn about the history of Los Angeles on an entertaining hike that also visits Griffith Park and Hollywood Hills neighborhood.

Check out the the Viator Experience Awards for more details.

Related Posts

Union Capital Financial Group Ltd, registered in the British Virgin Islands, does not provide investment services inside the United States. The company only provides consulting, advisory and educational services.