Shops, traffic, architecture… Some streets and avenues of the largest cities in the USA attract many travelers who discover them day and night.
To visit major American cities by going to the essentials, follow our selection of the 10 must-see streets in the United States. From 5th Avenue in New York to Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, via the Las Vegas Strip or Bourbon Street in New Orleans, these 10 arteries are all essential passages. Each one has its specificities, its anecdotes and its atmosphere. And each shapes the myth of America!
Fifth Avenue in New York, the Big Apple in a nutshell
Dividing Manhattan east and west, 5th Avenue offers a perfect summary of what to see in New York, connecting Greenwich Village to Harlem via the Empire State Building, Bryant Park, Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick and Central Park. From 34th to 59th streets, there are big international luxury brands. Further north, from 82nd to 110th streets, the “Museum Mile” is home to 9 major New York museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum.
Our advice: at 725 Fifth Avenue, push open the door of the Trump Tower, the corporate headquarters of Donald Trump. The interior is like the former American president: flashy and whimsical!
Broadway in New York, the crazy diagonal
Unlike all the other avenues in New York, Broadway takes on the fancy of crossing the entirety of Manhattan diagonally, following an ancient track traced by the Ameridians. The most famous intersection: Times Square and its advertising neon lights! Broadway is also home to the theater district, so much so that the very name “Broadway” embodies musicals. You should also stop at Herald Square, Madison Square and Union Square.
Our advice: the section from Battery Park to Chambers Street forms the “canyon of heroes”, a mecca for American-style parades. Look for the 200 plaques honoring the personalities who paraded here, including General de Gaulle in 1960.
Wall Street in New York, the heart of finance
Framed by buildings, the narrow “street of the wall” is one of the very first streets laid out in New York, in the 17th century. Wall Street then ran along the northern part of the wall that protected the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam. The wall was taken down by the British in 1699, when New Amsterdam became New York. Today, the street is the epicenter of the financial district. Moreover, the only name of Wall Street is enough to designate the New York Stock Exchange, the New York Stock Exchange.
Our advice: as you walk through Wall Street, follow the wooden cobblestones discreetly inserted in the middle of the stone cobblestones. This alignment materializes the old wall of La Nouvelle-Amsterdam.
Elfreth’s Alley in Philadelphia, America’s First Street
A stone’s throw from the Delaware River in Philadelphia, Elfreth’s Alley prides itself on being “the oldest continuously inhabited street in the United States”. This cobbled street, 100 meters long, formed in 1703, 22 years after the creation of the colony of Pennsylvania. The street now has 32 houses, built between 1706 and 1836, perfectly restored. At numbers 124 and 126, a museum tells the life of the time, when the street housed shoemakers and tailors.
Our advice: if you can, give preference to the visit on the first Saturday in June and the first Saturday in December. Twice a year the residents of Elfreth’s Alley open their homes to the public and the street is in celebration!
Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, the mecca of cinema
Hollywood Boulevard owes its fame to the development of the film industry in Los Angeles at the beginning of the 1920s. The studios moved further north but the district still lives for the 7th art. The Oscars are awarded every year at the Dolby Theater and the 3 major cinemas of the time, the Egyptian, El Capitan and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, are still there. Above all, tourists flock to photograph the 2,500 stars that pave the “Walk of Fame”.
Our advice: at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue, the Ovation shopping center is one of the essential shopping addresses in Los Angeles. As a bonus, breathtaking view of the Hollywood Sign.
Lombard Street in San Francisco, bend, bend
If the main part of Lombard Street crosses San Francisco in a straight line, the portion that descends the hill of Russian Hill is self-proclaimed “the most sinuous road in the United States”. Between Hyde Street and Leavenworth Street, the street suddenly links 8 hairpin bends over 180 meters! Enough to face the 27% slope and offer an unusual perspective on San Francisco. Another curiosity: in spring and summer, the street is beautifully enhanced by lush hydrangeas.
Our advice: if you want to drive down Lombard Street, plan to come early. As the day progresses, a long traffic jam forms at the entrance, with up to 250 cars per hour.
The Strip in Las Vegas, gambling hell
The “Strip” is the nickname given to the most touristy section of Las Vegas Boulevard. Over nearly 7 km, this wide avenue lined with palm trees concentrates all the major hotels and casinos of the city. In practice, the Strip extends from the Mandalay Bay hotel, in the very south, to the Stratosphere Tower, passing through the Luxor, New York-New York, Bellagio, Paris Las Vegas, Caesars Palace and Venitian hotels. To enjoy the electric atmosphere of the Strip, you have to walk around the place and at night, when the cloud of neon lights up.
Our advice: about ten minutes on foot south of the Mandalay Bay hotel, obligatory souvenir photo in front of the Las Vegas Sign, the extravagant panel marking the entrance to the city.
Magnificent Mile in Chicago, chic and shock
From Lake Michigan to the Chicago River, Michigan Avenue has earned the nickname “Magnificent Mile”. This portion stands out as the most prestigious shopping avenue in the city, with a large concentration of major international brands and luxury hotels. The “Mag Mile” is also home to several listed historic buildings, including the Chicago Water Tower, a former neo-Gothic style castle, at number 806, and the Tribune Tower, another neo-Gothic folly at number 435.
Our advice: for a breathtaking view of the Magnificent Mile and Chicago, climb to the top of the John Hancock Center tower, renamed 875 North Michigan Avenue in 2018. The observatory is nestled on the 94th floor.
Bourbon Street in New Orleans, the permanent carnival
In the heart of the French Quarter, the French quarter of New Orleans, Bourbon Street tells the story of New France, when Louisiana was a colony of the Kingdom of France, from 1690 to the cession to Spain in 1763. The street now has a number of Spanish and Creole style buildings. In the evening, Bourbon Street comes alive in the spirit of the famous New Orleans carnival and the beer flows freely! A good address? The Old Absinthe House, the oldest bar on Bourbon Street, founded in 1807 at number 240.
Our advice: to experience the atmosphere of Bourbon Street, book a room at the Royal Sonesta New Orleans. This upscale hotel features an elegant colonial style.
Ocean Drive in Miami, tropical Art Deco
Facing the Atlantic Ocean and endless South Beach, Ocean Drive marks the heart of Miami Beach’s Art Deco district. From 5th Street to 23rd Street, Miami’s most famous avenue lines up hotels, bars and restaurants, in a singular style typical of the 1920s and 1930s. A delicious feeling of time travel! Two unmissable addresses: the Clevelander Hotel, at number 1020, and the Villa Casa Casuarina, former property of Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace, at number 1116.
Our advice: come back to Ocean Drive after dark. Multicolored neon lights illuminate the facades of Art Deco buildings. Do not miss the Colony Hotel, all in blue.