The top 19 things to do in the USA in 2019

The top 19 things to do in the USA in 2019

2019 is set to be huge year for the USA, with a spectacular range of events, anniversaries and new openings that will enhance visitors’ holidays, and provide exciting new experiences. From monumental events, such as the very first WorldPride to be held in the United States, to key anniversaries including the Grand Canyon centennial and the 150th anniversary of women’s suffrage, here are the top picks for 2019.

100th anniversary of the Grand Canyon

On 26 February the Grand Canyon will celebrate 100 years of National Park status. As one of the world’s most famous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Grand Canyon welcomes approximately six million domestic and international visitors each year – with visitors hiking the red rock of the corridor trail, strolling the canyon’s rim or swimming in the invigorating pools of the Havasu Falls. To mark the anniversary, a series of events will be taking place over the year, including the 2019 Grand Canyon Star Party, which will run from 22 – 29 June 2019. Over the dates, the Tuscon Amateur Astronomy Association and the Saguaro Astronomy Club of Phoenix will set up a series of telescopes, teaching visitors about the planets, star clusters, distant galaxies and more.

400 years since the birth of Jamestown

In 2019 the United States is set to celebrate one of its most significant anniversaries: 400 years since its birth in Jamestown, Virginia. It’s a chance for visitors to explore Virginia’s Historic Triangle – which includes Jamestown and its historic fort, Colonial Williamsburg (the nation’s largest living history museum where the townsfolk are in 18th-century character) and Yorktown, where the battle of the Revolutionary War was fought. Visitors can enhance their knowledge with the new VA History Trails app – the first app to directly connect users to over 400 historical sites throughout Virginia.

Read our informative study guide about the American War of Independence here.

50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong landing on the moon

On 20 July 2019 it will be 50 years since Neil Armstrong successfully landed Apollo 11’s four-legged Lunar Module on the moon – marking the very first moon landing. To celebrate the moment, cities around the U.S. will be marking Armstrong’s “one small step” with a series of exhibitions and events.

Visitors may choose to:

  • Catch the travelling exhibition Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington, from 13 April – 2 September 2019. Exhibits include one-of-a-kind artefacts from the mission.
  • See thousands of model rockets launched into the air at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama – the world’s largest space museum and home of Space Camp. The rockets that took man to the moon were engineered by scientists in the city.
  • Stand beneath Saturn V, the largest rocket ever launched, and learn about the run up to the landings at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, where the Apollo 11 spacecraft lifted off.
  • Get up close to an array of Apollo artifacts under the roof of the Space Centre, Houston.

WorldPride to be held in the United States

For the first time in its 20-year-long history, WorldPride will be held in the United States. New York City is set to host the month-long event from 1 – 30 June 2019, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising in New York City, the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement. Accordingly, the event series will be dually branded WorldPride NYC/Stonewall 50, and run with a theme of Millions of Moments of Pride – a nod to the countless experiences every person encounters during the annual WorldPride celebrations around the world. Three million people are expected to enjoy the roster of events, which will range from family movie nights to Femme Fatale, a rooftop party for women. WorldPride NYC/Stonewall 50 will culminate in the largest LGBTQIA+ march in the world, on Sunday 30 June 2019.

250th anniversary of San Diego’s founding

In May 1769, the first European settlement on the California coast was established at the Presidio – where Old Town San Diego exists today. The neighbourhood is considered the birthplace of California and is the site of the first permanent Spanish settlement in the state, when Father Junipero Serra established the very first mission in the region. Father Serra’s mission and the Presidio were both built on a hillside overlooking the present-day Old Town (in what is now Presidio Park), and the neighbourhood will be commemorating the anniversary with a series of events in 2019.

Statue of Liberty Museum opening

The brand-new $70 million museum is an exciting new experience for anyone visiting the Statue of Liberty. Due to open in spring or autumn 2019, the museum will feature interactive displays, museum galleries and immersive theatre experiences that will showcase the history of the statue and its importance to the USA. The state-of-the-art LEED Gold-certified building will also have unobstructed views of the famous statue.

Read about the fascinating history behind the iconic Lady Liberty here.

150th anniversary of women’s suffrage

The state of Wyoming will be commemorating 150 years of women’s suffrage in 2019. In 1869, Wyoming Territory approved the first law in United States history granting women the right to vote; the following year, the first woman to cast a vote in a general election in the U.S. (and the world) was from the small town of Laramie, Wyoming – a full 50 years before women got the vote nationwide. When the region was invited to join the Union on the condition that women’s suffrage was revoked, Wyoming’s legislature said, “We will remain out of the Union one hundred years rather than come in without the women.” By 1920 when women got the vote nationwide, women in Wyoming had already been voting for half a century.

Three Michelin stars land for the first time in Washington, D.C.

The region of Washington is set to be one of the USA’s hottest dining destinations, and one of the great gastronomic capitals of the world, thanks to the D.C. area’s first ever three-Michelin-star restaurant, The Inn at Little Washington. The 40-year-old restaurant and inn, which is located 90 minutes from D.C. and is detailed in the new 2019 Michelin guide, features patterned carpets, heavy drapes and plush upholstery, and is celebrated for Chef Patrick O’Connell’s modern interpretation of classic French cooking. The Michelin guide arrived in Washington, D.C. four years ago, and is one of the only cities to have a Michelin guide in the U.S. – others include San Francisco, Chicago and New York City. Michelin’s everyday dining 2019 Bib Gourmand list has seen the number of restaurants listed in Washington, D.C. jump from 22 to 39, cementing the region as one of the hottest culinary destinations.

200th birthday anniversary of Herman Melville

August 2019 marks 200 years since the birth of Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick. Visitors may experience the celebrations by taking the new Massachusetts Whale Trail, which was introduced in 2018. The trail links close to 40 museums, historic sites, attractions and excursions dedicated to whales, and helps visitors make the most of one of the USA’s most beautiful coastlines. Visitors may also take the self-guided New Bedford walking tour of the places that inspired Melville’s book.

50th anniversary of Woodstock Festival

August 2019 will mark 50 years since the first Woodstock festival, one of the world’s most iconic festivals, which was first held on a dairy farm in Bethel, a town in the Catskills in New York State. Close to 400,000 attendees saw the likes of The Who, Joan Baez, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Jimi Hendrix perform over the weekend, with a film of the concerts released the following year.

60th anniversary of Hawaii and Alaska becoming U.S. states

On 3 January 2019 Alaska will celebrate 60 years as a U.S. state – it was the 49th stated to be admitted into the union in 1959, closely followed by Hawaii, which was admitted on 21 August as the 50th state. The anniversaries will put the spotlight on the two states: visitors may choose to tour Hawaii’s volcanic islands, laze on pristine beaches or learn to surf at Waikiki, while Alaska is home to Denali, America’s highest peak, along with plenty of wildlife and outdoor pursuits.

New York City neighbourhood of Hudson Yards is unveiled

All eyes are on the imminent revealing of Hudson Yards, one of the most exciting development projects to hit New York, and the world, in decades. The new neighbourhood on Manhattan’s Far West Side will sit atop the still-operating rail yards of 10th and 11th avenues and 30th and 40th streets – home to one of New York’s first freight lines, the Hudson River Railroad. On completion, Hudson Yards will consist of 14 acres of public space, glossy sky scrapers (and one of the city’s highest open-air observation decks – opening in early-mid 2019) and a public plaza. Vessel, a series of 154 interconnecting flights of stairs designed by British designer and architect Thomas Heatherwick, will be the centrepiece of the plaza, and is due to open in early 2019. The restaurants, food halls and high-end boutiques are likely to debut in March 2019, with several other skyscrapers following after.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opening

Disneyland (California) and Disney World (Florida) will be unveiling new 14-acre Star Wars-themed attractions, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, in summer and autumn 2019. The eagerly anticipated attractions will give guests complete immersion in the Star Wars story, with guests departing on a Star Wars adventure by boarding a starship filled with characters telling the story of the journey through the galaxy. The openings will feature two new attractions and give visitors the opportunity to meet their Star Wars heroes before boarding a Star Destroyer or flying the Millennium Falcon.

150th anniversary of the First Transcontinental Railroad

One of the most iconic events in America’s history was the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad in Utah on 10 May 1869. The First Transcontinental Railroad connected the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads, and opened for traffic on 10 May 1869, when President of the Central Pacific, Leland Stanford, drove the gold ‘Last Spike’ into the railway, completing the 1,912-mile continuous line which would connect east and west. Anniversary celebrations known as Spike 150 will take place over the weekend of 10 May 2019, while a travelling exhibition The Race to Promontory: The Transcontinental Railroad and the American West will celebrate the ‘meeting of the rails’ with a groundbreaking collection of photographs and stereographs showing the railroad’s construction. They will be on display at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts in Salt Lake City from 1 February – 26 May 2019.

New Orleans Sazerac House Museum opening

Cocktail lovers should head to New Orleans in spring 2019 when Sazerac House Museum, a museum dedicated to the heady whiskey cocktail, will open. The three-story museum will be located in a historic building that’s been empty since the 1980s, and trace the history of cocktails as well as the influence of Sazerac on the city, as well as cocktail culture in general. Sazerac is regarded as a close cousin of the Old Fashioned, and is the official cocktail of NOLA.

90 years since the first Academy Awards, plus plenty of film anniversaries

The first Academy Awards – also known as the Oscars – was first held in Hollywood in May 1929. In 2019 a number of legendary films will also be celebrating anniversaries, including:

  • The 80th anniversary of the film release of Gone with the Wind. The Civil War-era film, which was adapted from Margaret Mitchell’s novel of the same name, traces the life of Scarlett O’Hara during her life in Georgia. At the 12th Academy Awards it received 10 awards and 13 nominations.
  • The 50th anniversary of the film Easy Rider. It was filmed in Monument Valley, a red-sand desert region on the Arizona-Utah border, and has inspired generations of riders to take to the open road. Specialist guided biking companies including EagleRider will be offering two Easyrider Movie tour trips for select dates in 2019.
  • The 50th anniversary of Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid. The iconic film stars Paul Newman and Robert Redford, and won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. The film was based on a true story and was shot in Utah’s Zion National Park, Grafton Ghost Town and Snow Canyon State Park.

Hamilton: The Exhibition opens in Chicago

Following the global success of the musical Hamilton, on 6 April 2019 Hamilton: The Exhibition will premiere in the city of Chicago. The new interactive exhibition, which will feature an audio tour narrated by the musical’s author Lin-Manuel Miranda, has been designed to immerse visitors in the life and times of Alexander Hamilton, giving visitors the chance to experience how Hamilton lived, while also chronicling the American Revolution and the creation of the United States of America. The eagerly anticipated exhibit will open on Northerly Island in a free-standing structure approximately the size of a football field, before moving on to tour selected U.S. cities for the rest of the year.

Heading to city famous for hot dogs, jazz and 1920s gangsters? Read our guide on How To Spend 3 Days In Chicago to help plan your visit.

Tiger Woods Golf Course opens

In 2019, Big Cedar Lodge, a 4,600-acre lakeside retreat in Missouri, will open the first public-access golf course from golf legend and 79-time PGA Tour winner Tiger Woods. The course is the work of Woods’ design firm TGR Design, the Payne Stewart family and Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris, and will showcase the region’s natural beauty with a dramatic 19th hole known as The Rock. The walkable course will culminate in an unforgettable natural cavern system, all of which will help cement the area as one of America’s top golfing destinations. Elsewhere on Big Cedar Lodge, guests can enjoy fishing, boating and Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, a 10,000-acre nonprofit wildlife preserve.

Monuments and memorials in Washington, D.C.

March 2019 will see the reopening of the Washington Monument, the city’s famous 169-metre-high obelisk which was built to commemorate George Washington. As part of the $10.8 million project, the monument will reopen with a visitor experience and lift, taking visitors up the world’s tallest obelisk. Elsewhere in the city, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial is opening in June 2019. The memorial, built to honour the 34th president of the U.S., will span four acres and feature a unique stainless-steel tapestry and bronze sculptures.

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