Skip to site content
Group Travel Leader Group Travel Leader Group Travel Leader

America’s Landmark Stops

America is undeniably blessed with natural beauty, from majestic mountains to the grandest of canyons. But the country is also filled with iconic manmade sites. Some are marvels of engineering, and others simply synonymous with a place. But all are worth including on your group’s next itinerary.

Here are icons of American history that make great destinations for tour groups.


Memphis, Tennessee

Elvis Presley’s Memphis home has lured fans from around the world since the King of Rock ’n’ Roll paid $102,500 for the Colonial-style mansion in 1957. Now the second-most visited home in the country (the White House is No. 1), Graceland welcomes guests to enter the guitar-adorned wrought iron gates and immerse themselves in all things Elvis.

In addition to the mansion and the singer’s grave, groups can admire bejeweled jumpsuits, gape at gold records, walk through Elvis’ custom jets (including the Lisa Marie) and take in the exhibits at Elvis Presley’s Memphis Entertainment Complex. Group tours are available. True fans will want to choose the Ultimate VIP Tour, which includes an expert guide, an exclusive exhibit, a private lounge, VIP-only merchandise and meal vouchers.

Groups that need more than one day with the king can spend the night at the 450-room Guest House at Graceland.

Liberty Bell


Let freedom ring! American democracy was born in Philadelphia, and the bronze bell inscribed with “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof,” first rang in the Pennsylvania State House in 1751. No one is sure exactly when it cracked, but the bell last rang in 1846. It became an icon of freedom following the Civil War, when it was displayed around the country in an effort to renew post-war patriotism and unity.

The nation’s most famous bell is now housed in the Liberty Bell Center, part of the Independence National Historical Park. Admission is free, and the center offers a self-guided tour explaining the history and significance of the bell. Knowledgeable rangers are on hand to answer any questions.

For group visits to Independence Hall, where the Founding Fathers debated and adopted the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, tickets must be reserved in advance.

Gateway Arch

St. Louis

Towering over the west bank of the Mississippi River at the site of the city’s 1764 founding, the 623-foot stainless steel centenary arch is now synonymous with St. Louis. Cementing its status as “gateway to the West,” the Eero Saarinen-designed memorial — the world’s tallest arch — was conceived in the 1930s but didn’t open to the public until 1967. Commemorating Thomas Jefferson’s vision and St. Louis’ role in the westward expansion of the United States, the structure is the nation’s tallest memorial. Groups can watch “Monument to the Dream,” an 18-minute film that details the construction of the arch, and rangers are available for private guided tours with advance reservations.

Groups should take the four-minute tram ride to the observation deck at the top of the arch, which provides stunning views of the river and of downtown St. Louis. One-hour narrated riverboat cruises, which travel in front of the arch, also make an exciting excursions.

The Statue of Liberty

New York City

A gift from the people of France, the iconic copper-clad statue of the Roman goddess of Liberty holds a torch above her head and carries a tablet inscribed JULY IV MDCCLXXVI (July 4, 1776, in Roman numerals). A broken chain and shackle at her feet commemorate the abolition of slavery after the Civil War. After its dedication in 1867, Lady Liberty became an icon of freedom and of the United States, as well as a symbol of welcome to immigrants arriving by sea.

Visitors who wish to enter the pedestal and ascend to the crown must book reservations through Statue City Cruises, the only authorized ticket seller for the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island. Groups that want to see the statue without actually visiting the island can hop the free Staten Island Ferry, which guarantees a great view of both Lady Liberty and Lower Manhattan.

The Alamo

San Antonio, Texas

Remember? The small San Antonio mission known as the Alamo has entered American lore, the story told and retold in countless films and movies. The reality is a little more nuanced, but the 1836 battle (following a 13-day siege) between rebellious American immigrants (who were largely in the country illegally) and the government of Mexico is now a touchstone of Texas history.

Bronze statues of the battle’s heroes (including Davy Crockett) rest in the 300-year-old mission’s stone-paved courtyard, and the dimly lit thick walls echo with history. A new visitor center and museum, which will include a 4-D theater and hundreds of artifacts from a collection donated by singer Phil Collins, is set to open in 2027. Groups can schedule private or after-hours tours to experience the historic site with their own guide, and private events can also be arranged.

Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco

Since its grand opening in 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge has been synonymous with San Francisco. The burnt-orange suspension bridge spanning the strait between the Marin peninsula and the Presidio is an engineering marvel and a must-see on any tour of northern California.

Groups should begin their tours at the welcome center, which tells the story of the bridge’s history and has a rotation of informational exhibits (along with an outstanding gift shop). San Francisco City Guides, a nonprofit organization associated with the San Francisco Public Library, offers free walking tours of the bridge on Thursdays and Sundays. Groups can also drive, stroll, or bike across the grand expanse.

Weather and wind on the bridge can change quickly, so group travel planners should make sure their guests wear layers and are prepared for sudden shifts.

The National Mall and Memorial Parks

Washington, D.C.

The nation’s most symbolically powerful open space, the National Mall has gone through many changes. The central axis of the capital, the mall was originally designed as a grand open space by French architect and engineer Pierre L’Enfant in 1791. His vision remained largely unrealized for more than 100 years, but today the National Mall is a vibrant space that honors the past while looking forward to the future. Groups could spend weeks exploring the mall’s statues, fountains, gardens, murals, museums and memorials — not to mention the many events and performances that are held on “America’s front yard.”

Park rangers offer an array of free guided tours and talks throughout the year, and the majority of the mall requires no ticketing. The 555-foot Egyptian obelisk that memorializes George Washington (the tallest structure in the world when it was completed) is an exception: Advance tickets are required to enter the interior. But other grand and iconic sites such as the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials can be visited 24 hours a day.

Hollywood Sign

Los Angeles

What began as a temporary billboard for a real estate development has now stood over the city of Los Angeles for more than 100 years as the largest and most visible symbol of Hollywood’s legendary film industry. Erected in 1923 to promote “Hollywoodland” and nearly lost to decay and disrepair, the first nine letters — “land” was removed in 1949 — have been rebuilt and buffed up, a symbol of pride for the city and the industry it’s famous for.

Visitors may hike to the gates that protect the legendary letters, and the Griffith Observatory provides excellent views of both the sign and the city below. For a real treat, Sunset Ranch can take groups on a one- or two-hour horseback tour, where they’ll enjoy 360-degree views of Los Angeles, the Hollywood Sign, the ocean and the valleys.