- New Mexico
- South Dakota
Across the USA, there are iconic places that will forever be etched into one’s mind because of references in popular culture and on the big and small screens.
Whether it’s imagining what the jet-set lifestyle of Elvis Presley was like or retracing the steps of Rocky Balboa in Philadelphia, consider putting these nine must-see destinations on your U.S. travel itinerary.
1. Graceland: Memphis, Tennessee
The once-grand residence in Memphis is now a museum preserved in honor of Elvis Presley’s remarkable life as a music trailblazer. Flashy like the King of Rock 'n' Roll himself, the estate's 23 rooms include the peculiar jungle room, which contains an indoor waterfall. Graceland features a variety of Elvis’ costumes from his movies and concerts, awards, and other priceless memorabilia.
2. Griffith Park Observatory: Los Angeles, California
You'll recognize this attraction from the famous scene in "Rebel without a Cause" (1955) starring legendary actor James Dean and in other hit movies, including :Terminator," "Transformers" and "Beverly Hills 90210."
The incomparable views of the Hollywood Hills, downtown Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean from the observatory’s grounds make it a must for any trip to the City of Angels. Use one of the public telescopes and check out astronomy exhibits to learn more about the real stars, not the ones walking down Rodeo Drive.
Griffith Park Observatory atop Mount Hollywood in Los Angeles
3. "Breaking Bad" Setting: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Tread lightly here, the setting of the award-winning TV show, "Breaking Bad," because you never know where Walter White or Jesse Pinkman lurked. The city itself served as a character on the show due to its suspenseful desert setting and dramatic pink skies. Wander around the neighborhoods of Northeast Heights and downtown Albuquerque to find some of the characters' favorite hangouts, including the A-1 car wash, Walter White’s house and Tuco’s hideout.
Sandia Mountains towering over the Albuquerque skyline
4. Martha’s Vineyard: Cape Cod, Massachusetts
The majority of the filming of "Jaws" took place in the fishing village of Menemsha on Martha’s Vineyard although various parts of the island are featured. You’ll feel chills down your spine at the bonfire opening scene site on South Beach in Edgartown or when you decide to jump off the famous “Jaws Bridge” into the mysterious water below.
The island of Martha’s Vineyard off the coast of Massachusetts
5. Rocky Steps: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia is featured in the trilogy (and six sequels) of the rags-to-riches story of boxer Rocky Balboa. An iconic scene features Sylvester Stallone training to fight in the world heavyweight championship and running up the 72 steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art to the energizing sounds of “Gonna Fly Now.” Tourists love to mimic this scene by scaling the steps and raising their arms in victory when reaching the top. The top of the steps of the museum offers amazing views of the city. Outside the museum, you can find a Rocky bronze statue for a perfect photo opportunity.
Bronze statue of Rocky Balboa outside Philadelphia Museum of Art
6. Mount Rushmore: Pennington County, South Dakota
Mount Rushmore National Memorial is already one of the top historic sites in the USA, but its appearance in pop culture adds mystery to the four faces on the mountain. Carey Grant and Eva Marie Saint try to escape the pursuing villains on Mount Rushmore in Alfred Hitchcock’s film "North By Northwest," thus creating intrigue for audiences and future filmmakers. A variety of films and television shows suggest Mount Rushmore’s use as a secret hideout for the government such as in "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" and "Team America: World Police."
Aerial view of Mount Rushmore National Memorial
7. Harvard University: Cambridge, Massachusetts
As arguably one of the most prestigious universities in the country, Harvard attracts tourists for its ivy and brick as well as its presence on the silver screen. The classic 1970 film "Love Story" details the tragic romance of star-crossed lovers Jenny (Ali MacGraw) and Oliver (Ryan O’Neal) who fall in love on Harvard’s campus. "Legally Blonde" (2001) depicts life at Harvard Law School and includes scenes in the famous Harvard Yard.
On the grounds of Harvard University in Cambridge near Boston
8. The Venetian: Las Vegas, Nevada
Although The Venetian replaced the historic Sands Hotel, the resort has become one of the most lavish destinations on the Las Vegas Strip. The luxury complex offers five-star lodging and dining, the opportunity to gamble in the casino and celebrate a win in the upscale bars and nightclub.
Riding in a gondola on the Grand Canal at The Venetian resort
9. Hollywood Walk of Fame: Hollywood, California
Rush hour on Hollywood Boulevard in California