With the proliferation of digital and telephone cameras, even the selfie stick, as well as rise of social media and photo-sharing sites, taking and distributing photos has become easier than ever.
Back in the day, you had to pick and choose your shots since you might have only one roll of film and 24 to 36 possible photos. You had to worry and wonder if you’d blinked, as you couldn’t tell before the film was developed (at a store, inevitably taking more than an hour). Then there was the awful time you accidentally opened the back of the camera and exposed the entire roll, rendering all of your vacation shots black. Those were dark times.
Now, taking that perfect vacation shot is much easier, and so it’s become more important to have those iconic shots in your photo gallery. You know the ones, the shots that prove you’ve traveled the length and breadth of our fair country, seeing the most important sights and sites. Here are the top 10 travel photos from the United States.
Statue of Liberty
New York, New York
The Statue of Liberty is one of the nation’s icons. Since 1886, she has been holding her torch aloft, welcoming visitors and immigrants to the US. Options for iconic shots include stagings from a ferry ride or at her base, looking upward, and wearing a foam crown or mimicking her pose are also popular classics.
Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign
Las Vegas, Nevada
An oasis in the Nevada desert, Las Vegas is a bright and shiny destination attracting all sorts of visitors, from families looking for a pool to wedding parties looking for a good time and everyone in between. While the Vegas Strip is an oft-photographed sight, the classic Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign is an iconic greeting from Sin City. Bonus points if you find an Elvis to pose with you.
New York, US, and Ontario, Canada
It’s the US! It’s Canada! It’s soaking! Niagara Falls, which is the collective name for three waterfalls straddling the border between Canada and the US, was once the honeymoon destination of choice for couples across the country. The falls remains iconic, and there are many opportunities to take a tour to the falls for maximum drenching by the powerful spray. Note: Do not attempt a “going over the falls in a barrel” photo — it’s illegal.
Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco, California
This orange, Art Deco suspension bridge stretches 1.7 miles from San Francisco into Marin County and is perhaps the most iconic sight in the city. To get the postcard shot, head up to Battery Spencer. You can also get great shots from a sunset cruise around the San Francisco Bay, or by going to Fort Point in San Francisco or Fort Baker on the Marin County side. Just beware of the fog.
The Grand Canyon is one of the world’s most visited natural sites, attracting more than five million people a year, with most from the United States. So if you don’t have your picture at this overwhelmingly awesome natural park, you’d better get on it. Visit the Skywalk for a bird’s-eye view, or simply find a quiet spot to sit and contemplate the result of several billion years.
Bourbon Street in New Orleans
New Orleans, Louisiana
No trip to New Orleans is complete without a visit to Bourbon Street. With its iconic wrought iron balconies and plenty of entertainment to be had, Bourbon Street is the pulsing heart of the French Quarter — for better or worse. In order to document the fact that you were there and eventually made it home, photos are in order. Be sure to don some beads and a get a shot early, before those other shots consumed make it a more difficult task later in the evening.
In the Black Hills of South Dakota, the faces of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln peer off into the distance from Mount Rushmore. Almost three million people visit the monument each year, marveling at the 60-foot busts of some of the country’s founding fathers. Wander down the Presidential Trail for one of the best photo ops — but make sure your head doesn’t look bigger than one of theirs.
Disney World is a place of celebration and wonder, and a veritable rite of passage for many families. While there are oodles of picturesque spots at which to point your camera, posing in front of Cinderella’s Castle in the Magic Kingdom is perhaps the most popular. Who knows? A handsome prince or princess could be posing right behind you.
Los Angeles, California
When you think of Los Angeles, what immediately comes to mind? Not the beaches, not the Sunset Strip — though these images will pop up — but the Hollywood Sign perched in the hills. Since 1923, the bright white letters have permeated our image of LA, bringing to mind all the glitz and glamour the name evokes. While the best pictures are taken from far away (the sign is 50-feet tall, after all), it is possible to get extremely close to the letters if that’s your goal. Visit the Griffith Observatory for the best views.
Southernmost Point in the US
Key West, Florida
You can’t go any further. At the end of Key West, you’ll reach the southernmost point in the continental United States, marked with a giant concrete buoy. Though the buoy has only been here since 1983, it quickly became a popular photo location for tourists who ventured to the Conch Republic. Be prepared to wait in line for your turn, but the photo will remain a cherished reminder of what could only be a fantastic trip to this tiny island.
More interested in dusting off your passport for worldwide travel shots? Check out our list of must-have international travel photos.