Readers Choice

WINNERS: Best Iconic American AttractionsChosen by readers of USA TODAY and 10Best

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    #1 - Graceland - Memphis, TN

    The name is synonymous with Memphis and with rock 'n' roll. But for the shy young man who bought this house to give his family privacy in the wake of his meteoric rise to stardom, Graceland was only one thing: home. From the moment one steps on the 13-acre estate, it’s obvious that Graceland equaled love and sanctuary for Elvis. 600,000-plus people visit Graceland annually – only the White House draws more visitors. 

    Photo courtesy of Scott Gulbransen

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    #2 - Mount Rushmore - Keystone, SD

    To stand beneath the faces carved into granite at Mount Rushmore National Monument is to marvel at history, natural beauty and artistic determination. The 60-foot-tall visages of U.S. presidents Washington, Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Lincoln were carved into a South Dakota cliff by Gutzon and Lincoln Borglum from 1934 to 1939 to promote tourism in the area. Today, more than 3 million annual visitors trek to the Black Hill to marvel at this iconic American monument.

    Photo courtesy of South Dakota Department of Tourism

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    #3 - National Civil Rights Museum - Memphis, TN

    Part sacred ground, and part in-your-face challenge to your personal concept of equality, the museum’s focal point is the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was gunned down in April 1968. Vivid exhibits chronicle the assassination of King and the hunt for his killer, explore the faces and places that defined the American civil rights movement and examine the continuing fight around the world for universal equality. 

    Photo courtesy of Kees Wielemaker

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    #4 - Grand Canyon - Williams, AZ

    Few sites command the awe that the Grand Canyon does, whether it’s your first visit or your one hundredth. The canyon plunges a mile to the Colorado River below, which began carving it out around 1.8-billion years ago. Sunlight changes the appearance of its many striking rock formations throughout the day. Made a National Park in 1919, the historic lodges here speak to the world’s longtime fascination with the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

    Photo courtesy of Grand Canyon National Park

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    #5 - Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island - New York, NY

    The Statue of Liberty is a symbol of freedom for Americans, and Ellis Island is where the ancestors of many Americans first entered the country, making the two NYC landmarks a thrilling and self-reflective visit for many travelers. Re-walking past generations’ footsteps in Ellis Island and taking one's own journey to the top of the Statue of Liberty makes this a memorable must-see for visitors to New York City. 

    Photo courtesy of William Warby

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    #6 - Las Vegas Strip - Las Vegas, NV

    A trip to Las Vegas is never complete without an amble down the Las Vegas Strip. Bright lights, loud music and all sorts of guilty pleasure debauchery can be seen – and found – along the strip. Visitors often find their very own version of “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” story to keep secret in among the many casinos and nightclubs found right off the iconic stretch.

    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock Images

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    #7 - 9/11 Memorial - New York, NY

    New York City has built a memorial for those lost during one of the most tragic events in the United States’ history on the site of the former World Trade Center. Travelers to the great metropolis visit the site, which has two reflecting pools, to pay respect to those lost in the terrorist attacks. It's a solemn, sad visit, but one that every American is glad to do as they honor those who gave their lives.

    Photo courtesy of Florian Boyd

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    #8 - Golden Gate Bridge - San Francisco, CA

    Ask anyone who’s been to San Francisco and they will probably tell you that one of the items at the top of their must-see list was the Golden Gate Bridge. The red hue of the bridge displays brilliantly above the blue water of San Francisco Bay, resulting in stunning views. Equally impressive are the views from the bridge, which can be enjoyed while walking, biking or driving across this architectural triumph.

    Photo courtesy of Jim Trodel

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    #9 - The Alamo - San Antonio, TX

    The famous Texas Revolution rallying cry of “Remember the Alamo” came from the 1836 battle during which Mexican forces overran Texas Revolutionaries held up in this former Spanish mission. Though it was a loss for the Texans, the battle inspired other Texas rebels to eventually win Texas Independence. Today, the 5-acre site is treated as hallowed ground by all Americans, and commemorates the sacrifices of both the 185 Texans and 600 Mexicans who died here.  

    Photo courtesy of Richard Nowitz/SACVB

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    #10 - Cable Cars - San Francisco, CA

    Chugging up and down the hilly streets of San Francisco via cable car is an iconic way to get around the city, and the cable car transportation method is loved by both locals and visitors alike. The many cable car stops located all around the city provide convenient transportation. Plus, the design of the cable car with its detailed, wooden framing and open windows invokes an old-time feel amid the cosmopolitan vibe of San Francisco, resulting in fond, lasting memories.

    Photo courtesy of Paul Sullivan

"The King" Still On Top as Graceland Takes #1 Spot

9/11 Memorial, The Alamo, Golden Gate Bridge also in top 10

America has voted for 10Best Readers' Choice 'Best Iconic American Attraction' and the results are in!  

The 10 Best Iconic American Attractions are as follows:

  1. Graceland - Memphis, TN
  2. Mount Rushmore - Keystone, SD
  3. National Civil Rights Museum - Memphis, TN
  4. Grand Canyon - Williams, AZ
  5. Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island - New York, NY
  6. Las Vegas Strip - Las Vegas, NV
  7. 9/11 Memorial - New York, NY
  8. Golden Gate Bridge - San Francisco, CA
  9. The Alamo - San Antonio, TX
  10. Cable Cars - San Francisco, CA

Thanks to everyone who voted!   

To learn more about the contest, or to see which other categories are presently open for voting, visit 10best.com/awards/travel/.   

10Best is a division of USA TODAY Travel Media Group.   

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Meet the Experts

Libby McMillan

Libby McMillan is Senior Editor at 10Best but spends much of her off-duty time traveling. Her home in Upstate South Carolina gives her easy access to the Smokies, the Blue Ridge, the Eastern seaboard and her former home of Florida.  Her entire family lives in the Great Southwest, however, where she goes several times a year.  She can ask directions in four languages. 

Dawn Reiss

Dawn Reiss is a Chicago-based journalist who has eaten crickets in Cambodia, driven to every NFL city in the country and interviewed the likes of Maya Angelou and Justin Bieber. She spent two years covering the trial of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich for TIME/Time.com and has written for Travel + Leisure, American Way and the Chicago Tribune.

Steve Larese

As 10Best's Southwestern USA Expert, Steve Larese leaves no rock or roadrunner unturned, but he also travels extensively throughout the USA during the year. He’s found laid-back sophistication in the smallest of communities and beauty at nearly every turn. Larese has also spent years exploring New Mexico’s 19 Pueblos and the many ancient ruins left by their ancestors, photos of which can be found in his latest book, Southwest Reflections: Grand Canyon and Four Corners (Schiffer, 2012).

Katie Dillon

Katie Dillon, based in La Jolla CA, has also lived in London and Hong Kong. She has a lifestyle site called La Jolla Mom and is the author of a book called, “Flying With Kids.” Her work can be seen on NBC San Diego, Red Tricycle, Yahoo! Shine and Have Family Will Travel (a Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts blog).

Maggie Tuten

Maggie Tuten, an Editor at 10Best,  travels virtually every day of the year, while editing the contributions of 80 globe-trotting travel writers.  For her own personal journeys, she prefers the Carolinas and Florida.  The big surprise about Maggie: she speaks and reads Japanese.  

Beth D'Addono

Beth D'Addono is a respected New Orleans-based travel journalist who hails from Philadelphia.  She has written extensively about the USA  over the last 20+ years and is constantly on a new adventure.  Her work is published often in magazines including AAA Traveler, Southern Living and National Geographic Traveler.

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