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Name the first three things you think of when you hear the name of your city or state! Perhaps it’s your favorite park down the street, your grandparents’ garden in their backyard, or the Legoland they just built. You could say the park, the garden and the new Legoland are icons specific to your city. They are pictures of what you see in your head when you think of where you live. Well, guess what? There are icons scattered across the entire country of the United States. We’re going to take a look at some of the most famous ones together. Ready?
- The Statue of Liberty is a famous landmark located in New York City. It was given as a gift from France in 1886 and has become a symbol of freedom and democracy. The statue is 151 feet tall and stands on a pedestal that's 154 feet tall, making it one of the tallest statues in the world. Visitors can take a ferry to the island where the statue is located and climb up to the top of the pedestal for an amazing view.
- Found in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is the Liberty Bell, a symbol of American independence. It was originally used to call lawmakers to meetings, but it became famous after it cracked during a test ringing in 1835. Today the bell is on display in Independence National Historical Park, and visitors can see it up close and learn about its history.
- The US Capitol Building is located in Washington D.C. and is the home of the United States Congress. It was first built in 1800 and has since been expanded and renovated many times. Visitors can take a guided tour of the building and see important rooms like the House and Senate chambers, the Rotunda, and the National Statuary Hall.
- In Florida you’ll find the Kennedy Space Center. The Space Center has been the launch site for many important space missions, including the Space Shuttle program, the International Space Station, and the Apollo moon landings. Visitors to the Kennedy Space Center can see many real space artifacts including rockets, spacecraft, and moon rocks. There’s also a chance to meet real astronauts! What would you ask them?
- The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most iconic bridges in the world and is found in San Francisco, California. It was built in 1937 and spans 1.7 miles across the Golden Gate Strait. The bridge is painted a special orange color called "International Orange," which was chosen because it is highly visible in the fog that often surrounds the San Francisco Bay. Smart, huh? The bridge is repainted every few years to keep it looking fresh and new.
- The Space Needle is found in Seattle, Washington and is a famous landmark built for the 1962 World's Fair. It's 605 feet tall and has an observation deck that offers panoramic views of the city and the surrounding area. There's also a rotating restaurant at the top that serves delicious food.
- The Gateway Arch is a big and shiny monument in St. Louis, Missouri that looks like a giant arch. It was built to celebrate the pioneers who traveled west in the 1800s. Visitors can take a tram to the top and see amazing views of the city and the Mississippi River. Beware though! These trams are quite tiny and are not the best for those who feel uncomfy in tight spaces.
- Mount Rushmore is a famous monument located in South Dakota that features the faces of four US presidents carved into a mountain. The presidents depicted are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt.
- Lobsters are a type of shellfish that are found in the waters off the coast of Maine. Lobster fishing is an important part of Maine's economy, and many people in the state rely on the lobster industry for their livelihood. Maine lobsters are known for their sweet and succulent meat, which is considered a delicacy. Have you had one? Would you try one?
- Paul Bunyan is a legendary lumberjack said to have lived in the forests of upstate New York. There are many stories and tall tales about Paul Bunyan and his trusty blue ox, Babe. Visitors to the Enchanted Forest Water Safari in Old Forge New York can pose with a large statue of Paul Bunyan. The Enchanted Forest is a favorite destination of the D&J family!
- Maryland is known for its delicious crabs, which are caught in the Chesapeake Bay. Crabbing is an important industry in the state, with many people relying on it for their livelihood. In addition to being an important food source, crabs are a symbol of Maryland's coastal heritage and are celebrated in festivals and other cultural events throughout the state.
- North Carolina is known as the "First in Flight" state because the Wright brothers made their historic first flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903. Visitors can learn about the history of flight at the Wright Brothers National Memorial and see replicas of the Wright brothers' airplanes. Any future pilots out there? Imagine being the first to take flight!
- Georgia is known as the "Peach State" because of its delicious peaches. Visitors can try fresh peaches at many farmers' markets and roadside stands throughout the state. Yes please!
- Nashville is a city in Tennessee that is known as the "Music City" of the United States because it’s home to so many famous musicians and music venues. It has a rich history in country music, blues and bluegrass. The banjo, a round, stringed instrument with a twangy sound, is a popular instrument in these genres and is often associated with Appalachian music.
- Kentucky is famous for its horse racing, especially the Kentucky Derby. Gorgeous thoroughbred horses are bred and trained in the state. Visitors can see them up close at horse farms and racetracks throughout the region.
- Zoom zoom! Indianapolis, Indiana is home to the famous Indianapolis 500 race (Indy 500), which is one of the most important events in auto racing. In car racing, a checkered flag is a special flag that is waved at the end of a race to signal the winner. The flag is usually black and white, with a checkerboard pattern, which makes it easy to see from a distance.
- North Dakota is known for its fertile farmland, meaning its rich soils are perfect for growing various crops, and its production of wheat, corn oats and barley. These grains are used for a variety of purposes, including food products like bread, cereal, and beer, as well as animal feed and industrial products.
- Iowa is also known for its rich farmland and specifically for its production of corn. It’s often called the "corn capital" of the United States. Iowa's corn crop is so large that it could stretch around the world more than twice if all of the corn stalks were laid end to end. That’s a lot of corn!
- Louisiana is known for its vibrant music scene, especially jazz music. The saxophone, a long, brassy and soulful instrument, is popular in jazz. New Orleans is often called the birthplace of jazz because many of the early jazz musicians lived and worked in the city. Jazz music has a unique style that blends elements of African and European music, and it became popular in New Orleans in the early 1900s.
- Wisconsin is often called the "Cheese Capital" of the United States. Yum! The state of Wisconsin produces over 600 different types of cheese, more than any other state in the country. One of our kids just yelled out, “Mac and cheese!”
- Kansas is located in an area of the United States called Tornado Alley, which is known for its frequent tornado activity. Kansas is home to the National Weather Center, which is a research facility that studies severe weather patterns, including tornadoes.
Colorado is famous for its skiing and snowboarding, especially in the Rocky Mountains. Visitors can ski and snowboard at many different resorts throughout the state.
- Nebraska is known for its vast farmlands, and tractors play a crucial role in planting, harvesting, and maintaining corn, soybeans, and beef. The state is home to the infamous green and yellow John Deere tractor company's largest manufacturing plant, which is located in the city of Waterloo.
- Grizzly bears are an iconic symbol of the wild and rugged landscapes of Montana. The state is home to one of the largest remaining populations of grizzly bears in the lower 48 states, with an estimated 1,000 individuals living in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Grizzly bears can weigh up to 600 pounds and stand over six feet tall when on their hind legs. They are excellent swimmers and have been known to swim across large bodies of water, including lakes and rivers. We recommend admiring them from a very safe distance.
- Cactus are a type of plant that are well-adapted to thrive in hot, arid environments like those found in Arizona, Nevada, Texas and other parts of the southwestern United States. Cacti are characterized by their thick, fleshy stems, which are covered in spines instead of leaves. The spines help to protect the cactus from predators and also help to reduce water loss by providing shade and trapping moisture in the air. One of the key adaptations that allows cacti to survive in arid environments is their ability to store water in their stems. Despite their tough exterior, cactus are important parts of the desert ecosystem. They provide food and shelter for many animals, including birds and rodents, and they help to stabilize the soil and prevent erosion.
- Oil is a very important resource found in Texas that people have been using for a long time for many purposes. It is a thick, black liquid that is found deep underground and is sometimes called "black gold" because of its value. Oil is used in many different ways, such as to power cars, trucks, and other vehicles, to heat homes and buildings, and to make plastics, medicines, and other products. Without oil, many of the things we use every day would be much harder to make or would not exist at all.
- People have been drilling for oil in Texas since the early 1900s, and it has played a major role in the state's economy ever since. Many jobs in Texas are related to the oil industry, from the people who drill for oil to the ones who transport it to its final destination.
- Wind turbines are giant machines with long, spinning blades that are used to generate electricity from the wind. They are usually very tall, and they can be found in big groups called wind farms. Texas is one of the best places in the United States for wind energy. In fact, Texas produces more wind energy than any other state, and it is home to many of the largest wind farms in the world.
- Wind turbines can be used in many different places, from rural areas to cities. They are often placed in windy areas, such as on hills or near the coast, where they can capture the most energy from the wind. Makes sense to us!
California is home to the tallest and oldest trees in the world, called redwoods. Redwoods can live to be over 2,000 years old. Redwood trees have a unique ability to absorb water and nutrients through their leaves, which helps them to survive in areas with dry soil. This adaptation allows them to grow in coastal areas where other trees might not be able to survive.
- The bark of a redwood tree is thick and spongy, which helps to protect it from fires and other natural disasters. The bark also contains tannins, which give it a reddish-brown color and help to repel insects and other pests.
Mount Saint Helens is a volcano located in Washington state that erupted in 1980. Before the eruption, Mount St. Helens was a beautiful, snow-capped mountain that was popular with hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. It was known for its pristine forests and clear mountain lakes. The eruption of Mount St. Helens was caused by a buildup of pressure inside the volcano. When the pressure was released, it caused a massive explosion that sent ash and debris into the air, created a huge ash cloud, and triggered massive landslides that destroyed miles of forest.
Hawaii is a group of islands located in the Pacific Ocean that are home to many active volcanoes. Hawaiian volcanoes are a unique and fascinating feature of the Hawaiian Islands. They are formed by the movement of the Pacific tectonic plate over a "hotspot" in the Earth's mantle, which causes magma to rise up and create new land.
Alaska is known for its wildlife, especially its bald eagles. Bald eagles are important symbols of freedom and strength in American culture. Bald eagles are large birds of prey, with a wingspan of up to 7 feet. They are powerful fliers and can reach speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. Bald eagles are known for their incredible eyesight, which is four times better than that of a human. They use their keen vision to hunt for fish and other prey, often from high in the air.
The fifty-nifty United States are full of so much to explore and so many sights to see! From the rich natural history of the land and the animals, to the iconic monuments and structures, the United States has no shortage of beauty sprinkled across it. Perhaps one day, if you haven’t already, you’ll get hands-on experience in every state! Now that’s something neat to dream about! Where would you want to go first?