15 Incredible UNESCO Sites in the U.S.

There’s nothing better than discovering there’s even more to a place than you thought. Some of the most incredible places to visit in the United States are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

1. Olympic National Park — Washington

Image Credit: Adbar, Own Work – CC BY-SA 3.0/Wiki Commons.

Olympic National Park in the State of Washington was named a national park in 1938 prior to becoming a UNESCO site. It has nearly 1 million acres filled with coastal beaches, alpine meadows, glacier-clad peaks, temperate rainforests, and rivers. Over 2 million people visit annually.

2. Mammoth Cave National Park — Kentucky

Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

This national park in Kentucky is part of the longest cave system in the world, with over 400 miles of underground passageways and natural caves. Within the caves and their surroundings are a variety of flora, fauna, and several rare bat and insect species.

3. Everglades National Park — Florida

Alligator in a cypress dome
Image Credit: Evergaldes NPS/Wiki Commons.

The Everglades have been described as a river of grass that flows from the hinterland to the sea. This national park is situated at the southern tip of Florida, and a myriad of reptiles, birds, and threatened species, including the manatee, call it home.

4. Independence Hall — Pennsylvania

Independence Hall Pennsylvania
Image Credit: Abhiram Juvvadi, Own Work – CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

This historic building in Philadelphia is where the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, and the Constitution of the United States was signed in 1787. It has served as a state house, the first capital of the United States, and a meeting place for the second Continental Congress. Over half a million people visit it yearly.

5. Great Smoky Mountains National Park — Tennessee, North Carolina

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Image Credit: Ken Thomas/Wiki Commons.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park has almost the same number of trees as the continent of Europe. Over 522,400 acres of untouched natural beauty and 3,500 plant species make up this UNESCO Site.

6. San Antonio Missions — Texas

Mission Concepcion at San Antonio, Texas
Image Credit: Travis Witt, Own Work – CC BY-SA 3.0/Wiki Commons.

Five frontier mission complexes stretch along southern Texas’ San Antonia River basin and make up the San Antonio Missions. Franciscan missionaries built the complexes in the 18th century and highlighted the Spanish crown’s efforts to evangelize, colonize, and defend New Spain’s northern frontier.

7. Taliesin West — Arizona

Taliesin West Garden Room
Image Credit: Andrew Horne, Own Work – CC BY 3.0/Wiki Commons.

Taliesin West in Scottsdale and eight other Frank Lloyd Wright designs were declared a World Heritage Site in 2019. Wright was born in 1867 and is considered one of the greatest 20th-century architects. Taliesin was his winter home in 1937.

8. La Fortaleza and San Juan National Historic Site — Puerto Rico

Castillo San Felipe del Morro. San Juan National Historic Site
Image Credit: Andrew Shiva – CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

This UNESCO site served as defensive structures for the European military between the 16th and 20th centuries. They were built in the Caribbean Sea to protect the Bay of San Juan.

9. Papahānaumokuākea — Hawai’i

Image Credit: UNESCO – CC BY-SA 3.0 igo/Wiki Commons.

Papahānaumokuākea is one of the world’s most extensive marine protected areas. It is a cluster of atolls and islands 250 km from Hawaai’s central archipelago. It has a deep traditional significance for Hawaiian culture, since it is believed to be where life starts and ends.

10. Monticello and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville

Monticello and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville
Image Credit: CC BY 2.5/Wiki Commons.

U.S. Declaration of Independence author and the third president, Thomas Jefferson, designed Monticello between 1769 and 1809. It was his plantation home and idealized “academic village,” which is now at the center of the University of Virginia.

11. Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park

Pāhoehoe Lava The Big Island of Hawaii
Image Credit: Brocken Inaglory, Own Work – CC BY-SA 3.0/Wiki Commons.

Kilauea and Mauna Loa are two of the world’s most active volcanoes. Due to the lava flows, their eruptions create a continuously changing landscape and unique geological formations. Endemic species and rare birds can be found in this national park.

12. Mesa Verde National Park — Colorado

Square Tower House in Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, U.S.
Image Credit: Judson McCranie – CC BY-SA 3.0/Wiki Commons.

Ancestral Pueblo Indian structures were built on the Mesa Verda plateau between the 6th and 12th centuries. This exceptionally well-preserved site is at an altitude between 7,000 and 8,400 feet above sea level. Archaeologists can study and understand the Ancestral Puebloan people through this prehistoric settlement.

13. Carlsbad Caverns National Park — New Mexico

Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0/Wiki Commons.

The Carlsbad Caverns boast over 120 limestone caves and are known for their unique rock formations and size. One cave, Lechuguilla Cave, acts as an underground laboratory where scientists can observe the biological and geological processes.

14. Waterton Glacier International Peace Park — Montana, Alberta

Waterton Glacier International Peace Park
Image Credit: Martin Kraft, Own Work – CC BY-SA 3.0/Wiki Commons.

As the world’s first international peace park, it is only fitting that the Waterton Glacier International Peace Park is a UNESCO Site. In 1932, the U.S. Glacier National Park and Canada’s Waterton Lakes National Park became one park. It offers incredible scenery of prairies, forests, glacial and alpine features, and rich mammal species and plant life.

15. Petrified Forest National Park — Colorado

Petrified Forest National Park, Eastern Arizona
Image Credit: Kumar Appaia – CC BY-SA 2.0/Wiki Commons.

Along the Colorado Plateau’s southern border sits the Petrified Forest National Park. 1906, over 50,000 acres of land were set aside to preserve resources from the Late Triassic era. Colorful, remarkably preserved petrified wood deposits make up the park.


The Fugutive
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.


+ posts