The hundreds of UNESCO World Heritage sites across the globe are as varied as they are enticing. The plethora of sites includes some great destinations for history lovers as well as stunning natural parks for the wilderness traveler. But simply slapping a World Heritage designation on an attraction or historical site doesn't necessarily mean that it's worth going out of your way for.
Just as there are plenty of famous world landmarks that aren't worth it, there are also a few World Heritage duds. We've put together a list of which US sites are worth visiting, and which you should research a bit further to decide if they're your cup of tea (or coffee, since we're staying stateside for this).
10 Everglades National Park Has Mixed Reviews - Research In Advance If It Is Your Kind Of Trip Or Not
The unique water habitats of Everglades National Park in southern Florida make it the perfect home for many birds and reptiles. In fact, it's the largest designated sub-tropical wilderness reserve in North America. But while that is enough to get the park a World Heritage designation, it's not enough to entertain some visitors, who find the park lacking variety and activities. If you're not into alligators, it might not be the site for you.
9 Independence Hall Is Great For History Buffs But Won't Take Your Breath Away Like Other Sites
The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States were both signed in this Philadelphia building. No doubt an important nod to American history and values, but not necessarily a tourist attraction you need to visit. You can learn all about the history without having to drive to this rather average-looking building and the nearby Liberty Bell. In short, Independence Hall is another overrated UNESCO site.
8 No Matter The Season, Yellowstone National Park Is Always Worth A Visit
Yellowstone's natural forest covers nearly 9,000 square kilometers. While it's known for having the world's largest concentration of geysers - with Old Faithful being the most famous - there is so much more to do and explore in the park. With so much wildlife to see, trails to hike views to admire, and rivers to plunge into, Yellowstone is a solid year-round destination.
7 The Sheer Variety At Olympic National Park Makes This A Must-See
If reading the UNESCO's description of Olympic National Park isn't enough to whet your appetite for a visit, then a Google image search certainly will be. With 100 km of wilderness coastline, mountain peaks sporting impressive glaciers and alpine meadows, old forest growth, miles of temperate rainforest, a huge variety of wildlife, and nearby Seattle to admire and explore, you'll be spoilt for choice on your next visit.
6 The Statue Of Liberty Isn't Necessarily Worth The Trip
The Statue of Liberty is a worldwide icon of freedom and the American dream. However, as important as its history and symbolism may be, many New Yorkers and visitors alike agree that you can get just as good an experience and view from the shore without paying for the ferry ticket and all the extra charges to go up to the pedestal and crown. You also have to make reservations ahead of time - another reason why the hassle isn't necessarily worth it.
5 Chaco Culture Is A World Heritage Site Like No Other
The Pueblo peoples have over 2,000 years of history and culture waiting to be explored in this Chaco Culture World Heritage site. Visit Chaco Canyon, a hub for ceremonies, trade, and political activity, or explore the unique ancient urban ceremonial center that is unlike anything else ever constructed. And if that wasn't enough, the park is also home to the Aztec Ruins National Monument and a string of other archeological sites, all situated in the beautiful and striking New Mexico desert.
4 Taos Pueblo In New Mexico Offers A Unique Insight Into Pueblo People's History
Nestled in the valley of a Rio Grande tributary sits Taos Pueblo, a World Heritage site that consists of several ceremonial buildings and adobe dwellings in terraced tiers from a Pueblo Indian settlement dating back to the late 13th and early 14th centuries. The site reflects the living culture of the present-day Pueblo Indian people and is remarkably well preserved. Your visit will be equal parts informative, beautiful, and awe-inspiring.
3 The 20th-Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright May Be A World Heritage Site, But That Doesn't Mean You Have To Visit
While it is technically one World Heritage site, the 20th-Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright (yes, it really is that much of a mouthful) consists of eight different buildings throughout the United States, including Fallingwater in Pennsylvania and the Guggenheim Museum in New York. If you're into Wright's organic architecture, then by all means pay his buildings a visit, but there's no need to cross the country to tick all eight off your list.
2 Redwood National And State Parks Are A Treasure Trove Of Natural Beauty
The phrase "coastal mountains" inevitably paints an idyllic picture in one's mind of standing high up on a rocky outcrop, absorbing the suns' warm rays and watching waves crash onto a deserted beach below. And that's pretty much what you can expect from Redwood National and State Parks. That, plus the world's tallest and most impressive trees located in lush Hollywood movie-esque forests. The only downside is having to choose between the trees and the ocean.
1 Monticello And The University Of Virginia Have A Lot Of History But Are Less Impressive Than Other World Heritage Sites
As with Independence Hall in Philadelphia, if brushing up on your history isn't your idea of a fun vacation, then consider skipping Monticello, the plantation home of Thomas Jefferson. The site is also one that requires a certain level of deep reflection and introspection. This visitor gives a great description of how to visit the site and process the weight of the history it represents.