The 10 Best Travel Experiences in the U.S., New Data Shows
TripAdvisor just announced its most popular day tours.
Any travel enthusiast will tell you that a bucket list is a living document. Making your way through a list keeps your travel agenda exciting, but it should also always have room for more adventures. If your own bucket list could use some additional items, you're in luck. TripAdvisor just announced its 2023 Travelers' Choice Awards, which features "The Best of the Best Things to Do" based on over 1 billion reviews and opinions collected over the last year from everyday travelers. This year's list has all the bases covered, so whether you're a beach bum, foodie, outdoor lover, or history buff, there's something for you. We're starting with number 10 and counting our way down.
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The Official Hollywood Sign Walking Tour (Los Angeles)
Coming in at number 10 is one of the more iconic American spots—the Hollywood Sign out in Los Angeles. You can take the official 2.5-hour walking tour for just $25 per person, which brings you all the way to the top behind the sign, promising unbeatable panoramic views of the city and the San Fernando Valley.
"We had such a great time hiking to the Hollywood sign, took some great pics and our tour guide was the best!" a recent five-star review on TripAdvisor reads. "Would highly recommend—unforgettable experience."
Others noted the length of the hike, which is a doable 1.7 miles, with many specifically citing the expertise of the tour guides.
"Jon was an amazing tour guide: He was informative, funny and super empathetic," a reviewer wrote in June. "He was constantly checking in with members of the group to ensure that they were able to match their skill level with the experience."
Fairbanks Snowmobile Adventure from North Pole (North Pole, Alaska)
If you've always wanted to travel to Alaska, don't miss out on the opportunity to take a "thrilling snowmobile tour" in the town of North Pole, Alaska. While this isn't anywhere near the real North Pole, the town itself is known for its year-round Christmas decorations—meaning you'll still feel like you're in Santa's backyard.
On the Fairbanks Snowmobile Adventure, travelers catch glimpses of wildlife along trails in the Chena Lakes Recreation Area with the help of a seasoned guide.
"This was an awesome ride! I was a first time rider and Tony was an amazing instructor, very patient and thorough!" a review from March reads. "He even took time out to take some amazing photos! Super fun! Highly, highly recommend!"
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Swim with Manatees (Crystal River, Florida)
Visitors also can't get enough of experiences on the opposite side of the travel spectrum—including the opportunity to swim in tropical waters. On the three-hour Crystal River tour, you can swim with manatees and see these friendly "sea cows" in their natural habitat.
This excursion is great if you're bringing kids along, reviews say, as it's truly the "experience of a lifetime."
"We brought our 4 kids from Oklahoma to vacation in Florida and this was our #1 activity," a reviewer wrote on TripAdvisor last month. "Our guide Jessica and our captain Gavin took us to multiple locations until we found a lovely group of manatees. They were patient with my children and extremely knowledgeable. We were lucky enough to have a young manatee come to us and be curious and boop our noses with hers, as well as try to shake our hands with her fins! We will never forget this magical day, and we will definitely book with them again!"
Deluxe USS Arizona Memorial and Historical Tour (Honolulu)
Whether you're a history buff or simply want to better understand stories of the past, the Deluxe USS Arizona Memorial and Historical City Tour is not to be missed.
Settle in for an exciting, five-experience educational tour that takes you to the area's historical sites, including the USS Arizona Memorial, the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, and historic Downtown Honolulu. TripAdvisor notes that travelers can also upgrade to view the USS Missouri battleship on the tour.
The experience is recommended by 99 percent of travelers on TripAdvisor, with 2,563 five-star reviews.
"Great experience with a great guide (BK)!" a reviewer wrote. "I really enjoyed the island's history leading up to the Pearl Harbor tour. Clean ride and excellent commentary."
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Xtreme Parasail in Honolulu (Oahu, Hawaii)
The sixth-best experience in the U.S. goes to Xtreme Parasail in Honolulu, Hawaii. For under $70, you'll be lifted 500 feet in the air, taking in "fantastic views of Oahu's southern coast." You don't need any experience for this adventure, which you can remember forever with the purchase of photo or GoPro video packages.
"If you have never been parasailing before, you should try this," a June review on TripAdvisor reads. "Think of it as being on a roller coaster ride over the water. It is safe—the crew ensures your safety, but it is a lot of fun. I book adventures that are not only fun but memorable and become great photo opportunities … I would recommend this activity to anyone in Hawaii who wants to spend a few hours on the water and is not afraid of flying high over the ocean."
Niagara Falls American-Side Tour with Maid of the Mist Boat Ride (Niagara Falls, New York)
Seeing Niagara Falls is on many a bucket list, and in 2023, the well-known spot ranks as a top-five experience. On this tour, you'll get glimpses of the American side of the falls from different vantage points—and you won't want to miss your chance to board the iconic Maid of the Mist.
Several of the five-star reviews commend the knowledgeable and fun tour guides at this experience, as well as the family-friendly aspects.
"I enjoyed the whole tour, hitting all of the best things to do at Niagara Falls," a five-star review reads. "The highlight was the Maid of the Mist boat ride."
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Party Bike in Old Town Scottsdale (Scottsdale, Arizona)
Scottsdale, Arizona has it all: an abundance of cacti, great food, endless shopping, Southwestern architecture, and a top-rated party scene. That said, we're not surprised to see a private party bike rental on TripAdvisor's list of top experiences for the second year in a row.
This party bike is a world away from your traditional bicycle. It seats groups of 15 people, earns you access to exclusive drink specials at bars, and takes you through a two-hour adventure through Old Town Scottsdale so you can see (and drink) it all. Drinking is legal on this open-air bike, so raise a glass as you make your Scottsdale visit count.
"The party bike was so much fun and our host definitely made the experience one to remember!" a traveler wrote on TripAdvisor last month. "Everyone raves about how much fun they had afterwards. We will definitely come down again and ask for T."
History and Hauntings of Salem Guided Walking Tour (Salem, Massachusetts)
Spooky season is still a few months away, but if you're scheduling your haunted Halloween adventure, don't miss out on visiting Salem, Massachusetts. Travelers on TripAdvisor specifically recommend the History and Haunting of Salem Guided Walking Tour, which came in at number three on this year's list of top U.S. excursions.
On this two-hour tour, a local historian will take you through the city's history, giving you a more chilling experience if you book an evening time slot. Stops include the Burying Point Cemetery, Witch House, and Ropes Mansion, all of which are sure to give you that chilling thrill you're looking for.
"We thoroughly enjoyed our tour. It was both educational and entertaining," a five-star review reads. "Even our 11 year old son, who was adamant he didn't want to go, had the best time and was shadowing our guide, Michael, by the end. Well worth the time and money."
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Juneau Wildlife Whale Watching (Juneau, Alaska)
Another Alaskan adventure to make the list is in the state's capital city. When you book a Juneau Wildlife Whale Watching excursion, you'll venture around Auke Bay during the migration season (May to September), keeping an eye out for the majestic humpback whales and other wildlife. But you don't have to rely on your own whale-spotting skills—the tour notes there's a 100 percent guarantee to see whales.
"It was an amazing day! Lots of whales and great weather," a TripAdvisor reviewer wrote this week. "Two hours passed by too quickly. Olive was super knowledgeable and so pleasant as the Lead naturalist. We saw many whales—one small breach and countless [tails]."
Grand Circle Island and Haleiwa Tour (Honolulu)
Heading to Honolulu? Make your time really count by booking this Grand Circle Island and Haleiwa 9 Hour Tour. This top-rated tour—and TripAdvisor's most popular experience for 2023—is one of the best and easiest ways to see it all.
It's great for first-time visitors, as you'll get a full tour of Oahu over the nine-hour period, stopping at Diamond Head, Hanauma Bay, Halona Blowhole, the Byodo-In Temple, and the surfing beaches of the North Shore.
One traveler said the tour was "one of the coolest experiences I've ever had in my life," while others commended the tour guides and the unique stops along the way.
"If it's your first time in Hawaii, this tour is a must!" a reviewer recently wrote on TripAdvisor. "Lola was our driver and she was amazing. All the way she would share the history of Hawaii with us, making the trip even more interesting! The bus was [comfortable], we got a poi donut for breakfast….highly recommended for a family day trip with a shower of culture and awesome views!"