14 Shockingly Impressives Destinations in the Americas To Add To Your Bucket List

Skip Machu Picchu and the Grand Canyon and visit these impressive destinations instead. From historic fortresses to stunning Caribbean beaches and soaring, glacier-capped volcanoes, these are some of the most impressive and memorable destinations in the Americas worth adding to your bucket list.

Bay of Pigs | Cuba

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Along the serene shores of the Bay of Pigs in southern Cuba lies a poignant reminder of Cold War tensions—a failed invasion that shaped the course of world history. Today, its crystal-clear waters and vibrant marine life offer a tranquil escape for snorkelers and beach lovers alike. Yes, American travelers can still visit Cuba and experience this uniquely historic and stunningly beautiful destination firsthand!

Mitad del Mundo | Ecuador

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At Mitad del Mundo, where the equator divides the Earth, visitors embark on a journey of discovery into the mysteries of our planet’s geography. Interactive exhibits and cultural demonstrations celebrate this unique landmark, inviting travelers to explore the wonders of Ecuador’s diverse heritage.

Ciudad Perdida | Colombia

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Deep within the lush jungles of the Sierra Nevada mountain range along the Caribbean coast of Colombia, Ciudad Perdida beckons intrepid adventurers to uncover the secrets of an ancient civilization. Ascending stone staircases and traversing verdant landscapes, visitors are transported back in time to a forgotten era of Tayrona splendor. With just a few dozen travelers arriving here daily, you’ll get nearly uninterrupted access to one of the most fascinating ruins in the Americas, the extent of which is still being discovered today.

Tulum | Mexico

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Overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea, Tulum exudes an air of mystery and majesty. With everything from lush jungle to historic ruins and vibrant beach clubs with all-night parties, Tulum is a destination you’ll have to experience firsthand to fully grasp. Its brand new international airport, with frequent direct flights to the United States, makes that easier than ever.

Cotopaxi Volcano | Ecuador

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Cotopaxi Volcano, located in the Andes Mountains just outside Ecuador’s capital city of Quito, is one of the most impressive volcanoes in the world. This active peak, with its almost perfectly conical form, is capped with an impressive glacier. Adventurous travelers can hike to the glacier line or even summit this iconic volcano with the help of a guide.

Santiago de Cuba | Cuba

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Nestled amidst the rolling hills of eastern Cuba, Santiago de Cuba resonates with echoes of revolutionary fervor. From the hallowed grounds of the Moncada Barracks to the rhythmic beats of Afro-Cuban music, this city exudes a vibrant energy that captivates visitors.

Cusco | Peru

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Cusco is so much more than just the gateway to Machu Picchu! The cobblestone streets of Cusco whisper tales of Inca glory, their ancient stones bearing witness to a rich tapestry of history. From the majestic ruins of Sacsayhuamán to the bustling markets surrounding the Plaza de Armas, this city is a vibrant testament to Peru’s enduring cultural heritage.

Nazca Lines | Peru

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Etched into the vast desert plains of southern Peru, the Nazca Lines remain one of archaeology’s greatest enigmas. Comprising geometric shapes, intricate animals, and mysterious symbols, these ancient glyphs continue to puzzle researchers and captivate the imagination of travelers.

San Ignacio Miní | Argentina

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Amidst the verdant landscapes of Argentina’s Misiones province lies the haunting beauty of San Ignacio Miní, a testament to the resilience of Jesuit missionaries. Wander through the crumbling ruins of this once-thriving mission, where echoes of a bygone era linger amidst the jungle’s embrace. The ruins sit just outside of the famous Iguazu Falls that straddle the border of Argentina and Brazil, making them an easy addition to your Argentina itinerary.

Teotihuacan | Mexico

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Standing in silent splendor on the outskirts of Mexico City, Teotihuacan bears witness to the ingenuity of a little-known Mesoamerican civilization that intrigued and perplexed even the Aztecs, who arrived here to find the city abandoned centuries ago. Ascend the Pyramid of the Sun and Pyramid of the Moon, their ancient stones echoing with the footsteps of ancient pilgrims who once sought solace in the heavens above.

Panama Canal | Panama

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Linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the Panama Canal stands as a triumph of human ingenuity and engineering prowess. Watch in awe as massive cargo ships navigate the intricate locks, their passage a testament to the enduring legacy of this iconic waterway.

Ouro Preto | Brazil

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Nestled amidst the lush hills of Minas Gerais, Ouro Preto enchants visitors with its colonial charm and rich history. Wander through its cobbled streets and ornate churches, where echoes of Brazil’s golden age resonate amidst the shimmering glow of gilded altars and Baroque architecture.

Museum of the Revolution | Havana, Cuba

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The former Presidential Palace of Cuba now houses the Museum of the Revolution, a testament to Cuba’s tumultuous revolutionary history. Exhibits within its grand halls chronicle the rise of Fidel Castro’s revolutionary movement and the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista’s antidemocratic regime. While tales of secret passages and hidden escapes add intrigue to its storied past, the museum itself stands as a symbol of Cuba’s enduring revolutionary spirit and is a captivating destination for history enthusiasts visiting Havana.

Chichen Itza | Mexico

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In the heart of the Yucatán Peninsula, Chichen Itza rises from the jungle canopy, a testament to the grandeur of Maya civilization. From the iconic El Castillo pyramid to the sacred cenote of sacrifice, each stone tells a story of ritual, astronomy, and divine reverence. It’s one of the most impressive ancient ruins in the Americas, well worth a visit.

carley rojas avila

Carley Rojas Avila is a bilingual New York-based travel writer, editor, content marketer, and the founder of the digital travel publications Explorers Away and Home to Havana. Carley is an expert on all things Latin America, the Caribbean, and Cuba, having lived and worked in four different countries in the region. Her writing has appeared on the Associated Press wires and in Travel + Leisure, Yahoo, MSN, Euronews, The Weather Channel, and more. When she's not writing about her travels, find her front row at a Bad Bunny concert, befriending street cats, and taste-testing every pizza in Havana.