Perched on the 94th floor of John Hancock Center is 360 Chicago. The observatory, 1,000 feet above The Magnificent Mile, gives visitors the chance to see four states — Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin — and as far away as 55 miles. On a clear day, anyway. The John Hancock Center is the fourth-tallest building in the city and the seventh-tallest nationwide. To reach the top, guests board elevators that travel 1,800 feet per minute, completing the trip to the 94th floor in a mere 40 seconds.
Tombstone, AZ 85638
The Bird Cage Theatre was a combination theater, saloon, gambling parlor and brothel that operated from 1881 to 1889 during the height of the silver boom. Stepping into this old theater really is like stepping back in time. When the establishment shuttered in 1889, its doors were sealed until 1934 when new owners opened the building and found a literal window to the back.
Opened in 1965, the Clermont Lounge has the distinction as the first and longest continually operating strip club in Atlanta. The establishment is located in the basement of what was once the Clermont Motor Hotel. As Wikipedia notes: “The Clermont is perhaps best known for featuring some dancers who do not meet the traditional physical standards for strippers, the most famous of whom is Blondie, noted for her ability to crush empty beer cans between her breasts as well as for her poetry.”
The Curacao Ostrich Farm may seem like one of the most random attractions on Curaçao, but it is actually one of the more interesting destinations on the island. Located on the road to Groot St. Joris in Santa Catharina, the farm is home to roughly 200 adult ostriches. Guests can take a tour of the grounds, feed an ostrich and even ride one. There is also a restaurant on site that serves up food made from ostrich meat. Of course, the gift shop sells souvenirs made from ostrich bones and eggs.
Fort Worth is often considered to be “where the West begins,” and the Fort Worth Stockyards was once the epicenter of the cattle industry. While still in active use for cattle sales, the historic stockyards attract thousands of tourists looking to climb atop a longhorn for a photo op, watch the twice-daily cattle drives or catch a glimpse of the unabated wild west. The Stockyards are home to a number of museums, including the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame and the Stockyards Museum. And, of course, the Grapevine Vintage Railroad.
In many ways, the Fountains of Bellagio are as recognizable as the Las Vegas Strip itself. The choreographed fountains give spectators a one-of-a-kind show, dancing to a range of music, such as Luciano Pavarotti and Frank Sinatra. There is no charge to view the fountains, which are located within an eight-acre manmade lake.
Fremont Street Experience is a five-block entertainment district located in historic downtown Las Vegas. It is home to North America’s largest video screen, measuring 1,500 feet long, 90 feet wide and suspended 90 feet above the urban pedestrian mall. The zone is also home to a trio of states for free nightly concerts and SlotZilla, an 850-foot long Zipline and a 1,750-foot long Zoomline that launch riders from a 12-story slot-machine themed takeoff platform.
The Grapevine Vintage Railroad takes tourists from the small town of Grapevine, a town that cherishes its rugged western appearance and attracts tourists with wine tasting rooms and other merchants along its main street, to the heart of the old west, Fort Worth. At the stockyards, visitors can climb atop a longhorn for a photo op, watch the twice-daily cattle drives or catch a glimpse of the unabated wild west or visit one of the museums, including the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame and the Stockyards Museum. And, of course, the Grapevine Vintage Railroad.
The Hato Caves were once located beneath the sea, but as the ocean levels lowered, they emerged from beneath the waves. The caves, made of marine coral limestone, are located on the northern coast of Curaçao. Caiquetio Indians are the first humans to inhabit the area, but they apparently did not venture too far inside the caves. Later, they served as a popular hiding spot for runaway slaves. Interestingly, the caves are hot caves, and the tempature inside is not cooler like many caves.
Built at a cost of $49 million — or $821 million with inflation — the Hoover Dam stops the Colorado River to create Lake Mead, itself a popular attraction. It has been open to visitors since 1937, and today, roughly 1 million people visit annually; the busy season falls between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Located roughly 35 miles east of Las Vegas, the Hoover Dam is an easy — and worthwhile — day trip from Sin City. A number of tour groups offer sightseeing excursions from Vegas hotels for those travelers who don’t have access to a vehicle.
Atlanta, GA 30303
Ted Turner co-founded CNN in 1980 and helped transform the way people consume news. The outspoken Turner, who at one time owned the Atlanta Braves, still finds ways to make headlines even though he’s been out of the news business for years. For those interested in how modern newsrooms operate, the 55-minute Inside CNN Atlanta Studio Tour gives a behind the scenes look at what goes in to the making of a newscast watched by 2 billion people globally.
Though Klein Curaçao is uninhabited, it is one of the most popular destinations for travelers who visit the main island of Curaçao. Today, aside from a few huts on the beach, the only building on the island is an old lighthouse. There are two shipwrecks on the island, including the remains of the Maria Bianca Guidesman. The island is also the final resting place of slaves who did not survive the trip from Africa. Several charter companies offer excursions to the island. But, be warned: The water between Curaçao and Klein Curaçao is quite choppy and many people find themselves sea sick.
Carl Henry is often said to have proposed turning a section of Lombard Street between Hyde and Leavenworth streets in the Russian Hill section of town into the series of switchbacks that it is today. While the street’s title of “World’s Crookedest Street” may be open to debate (see Vermont Street elsewhere in town), its popularity as a tourist attraction hasn’t waned in the roughly eight decades since the street was reconfigured to its current design.
There are no launch pads at Johnson Space Center, but the center is home to the space agency’s mission control and astronaut training facilities. It was here that people on the ground oversaw space missions, including the Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle programs. While the space center has a bit of a tourist trap feel to it, it’s not a bad destination for anyone interested in history or space travel. While here, be sure to check out the Saturn V rocket on display in Rocket Park. These massive rockets propelled Apollo astronauts from Cape Canaveral, Fla., into space on their way to the moon. In 2012, NASA also relocated Space Shuttle Explorer (now known as Space Shuttle Independence), a shuttle replica, to the space center.
The Manatee Observation and Education Center is located on the waterfront in downtown Fort Pierce, Fla. The environmental education and wildlife viewing center opened on Nov. 1, 1996, in time for Manatee Awareness Month. The mission of the Manatee Observation and Education Center is to promote understanding and responsible actions for the protection of the Treasure Coast’s fragile ecosystems and their inhabitants. It does that through exhibits and an outdoor viewing platform where visitors can watch manatee.
Atlanta, GA 30331
The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site consists of several buildings and sites connected to King. They include his boyhood home, the original Ebenezer Baptist Church and Fire Station No. 6. The area includes a total of 35 acres and was designated as a National Historic Site on Oct. 10, 1980. The King Birth Home, located at 501 Auburn Avenue in the Sweet Auburn historic district, was built in 1895 and is located about a block east of Ebenezer Baptist Church. King was born here in 1929, and the King family lived in the house until 1941. Its was later converted into a two-family dwelling. The Rev. A.D. Williams King, the brother of King Jr., lived on the second floor in the 1950s and early 1960s. The visitor center offers free tours of the house led by National Park Service rangers. Fire Station No. 6 was built in 1894 and served the Sweet Auburn community until 1991. The fire station was an important community meeting place. A 1927 American LaFrance fire engine is on display at the museum.
The O.K. Corral was a livery and horse corral in Tombstone, Ariz., that operated from 1879 until about 1888. While it is associated with the famous Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, the showdown went down in a lot on Fremont Street. Still, that doesn’t stop hordes of tourists from converging on the OK Corral for reenactments.
Old Tucson is half movie studio, half theme park that is located near the western portion of Saguaro National Park. The studio was built in 1938 by Columbia Pictures to serve as a replica of 1860s Tucson for the movie Arizona. Over the years, dozens of movies have been filmed at the studio, including 1993’s Tombstone. Today, guests can walk the studio’s streets, ride on a miniature train, watch shows and see how gunfights are filmed.
When the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway was first envisioned in the 1930s, the only way to reach the summit of San Jacinto Peak from the floor of the Coachella Valley was on foot. That didn’t deter Francis F. Crocker. While the link was first proposed in the midst of the Great Depression, work on the project was slowed by both World War II and the Korean War, though planning work continued through the 1950s. The project saw new life in the 1960s, and the tramway opened in September 1963.
The 561-foot-tall Reunion Tower is one of the recognizable landmarks in Dallas. Part of the Hyatt Regency Hotel complex, Reunion Tower is the 15th tallest building in Dallas and located about 1,000 feet from Dealey Plaza where President John F. Kennedy was killed in 1963. Known locally as “The Ball,” the tower was completed on Feb. 2, 1978.
What is today Rock City has been a popular tourist attraction for years. But, it was until the 1930s that the Rock City of today began taking shape. Frieda Carter, whose husband, Garnet, fashioned one of the country’s first miniature golf courses and a housing development atop Lookout Mountain, built a walkway and rock garden for the people living in the development. To promote the new attraction, which officially opened on May 21, 1932, Carter’s husband hired Clark Byers to paint farmers’ barns – for free, if the barns’ owners would let him paint “See Rock City” on the roof. The campaign worked; the slogan not only helped to draw guests to Rock City, it also became one of the most recognized advertising tag lines of all time. Today, Rock City features winding, garden-lined trails. But, the highlight is Lover’s Leap, a natural overlook where travelers can supposedly see seven states from one spot.
In the 1920s, Leo Lambert thought Lookout Mountain Cave would make a great tourist attraction. Once used as a hideaway for outlaws, refuge for Native Americans and a hospital during the Civil War, a railroad tunnel built in the early 1900s intersected the cave’s entrance and sealed it from the public. But that didn’t deter Lambert from searching for the cave. In 1928, he led a team of engineers and started digging an elevator shaft to access the cave. Ninety-two days later, Lambert found the cave, but not before digging through more than 400 feet of solid limestone. But when Lambert realized there might be more than just a cave buried beneath Lookout Mountain, he took off down a tight corridor, and 17 hours later, he found what today known is as Ruby Falls.
Shrum Mound was likely built between 800 BC and 100 AD. At approximately 100 feet in diameter and 20 feet tall, Shrum Mound is said to be “one of the last remaining conical burial mounds” in Columbus. The grass-covered mound features a path leading to the top. The mound is located in Campbell Park, named for former Ohio Gov. James E. Campbell who later served as president of the Ohio Archaeological and Historical Society. The mound derives its name from the Shrum family, which in 1928 donated the land where the mound sits to the Ohio Historical Society.
The Willis Tower observation deck, located on the 103rd floor of the tower, first opened on June 22, 1974. Today, 1.3 million visitors make their way to the deck, today known as Skydeck Chicago, every year. In January 2009, the owners of Willis Tower kicked off a major renovation of the Skydeck. Among the changes was the additon of retractable glass balconies. Known as The Ledge, the balconies can be extended approximately 4 feetfrom the facade of building and allow visitors to look through the glass floor to the street 1,353 feet below. The balconies officially opened on July 2, 2009.
Stone Mountain, GA 30083
Make the 1.3 mile trek or ride the sky lift up Stone Mountain. With more than 3,300 acres of natural beauty, a variety of outdoor attractions, entertainment and recreation, Stone Mountain is the most visited attraction in Georgia. Visitors can now climb to new heights on Sky Hike, a quarter of a mile course that allows visitors to trek through the treetops by mastering wooden bridges, balancing on a single rope suspended in the air and climbing to the top of vertical net bridges.
Trahlyta was a Cherokee who lived in the North Georgia Mountains near what is today Dahlonega. According to legend, she drank from a nearby Fountain of Youth to maintain her renowned beauty. A warrior named Wahsega courted her, bus she rejected him. Upset by this, Wahsega kidnapped and imprisoned Trahlyta. Longing to see her home again, Trahlyta eventually died. Her last wish was to be buried in the mountain forests near her home. Today. a five-foot-tall pile of stones marks her grave. According to the historical marker at the site of her supposed grave, “custom arose among the Indians and later the Whites to drop stones, one for each passerby, on her grave for good fortune.” Highway department workers apparently twice tried to move the pile of rocks as part of road projects. But, both times at least one person was killed in the process.
The Sunsphere is the centerpiece of World’s Fair Park and is a symbol of Knoxville, Tenn. The tower is one of two buildings that survived the Fair. Substantive redevelopment of the 67-acre Fair did not materialize for many years. Though it was underutilized for most of its post-show life, the tower is today home to an observation deck, an event space and a restaurant and bar.
The Dillard House is perhaps best-known for its seemingly endless southern cuisine and hospitality. Formerly a boarding house, the restaurant touts itself as one of the original farm-to-table restaurants in Georgia. The Dillard House continues to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner family-style daily. Its cuisine is adapted from recipes handed down from Dillard family members and chefs. Family owned and operated, The Dillard House offers 90 hotel rooms, four cottages and 20 rental cabins at Chalet Village.
Times Square is said to be the most visited place in the world. More than 360,000 people pass through Times Square every day (or more than 131 million per year) for their brush with Elmo or another creepy character. Originally named Longacre Square, the area was renamed after The New York Times relocated to the newly erected Times Building (today One Times Square) in 1904. Approximately 22 cents out of every dollar spent by visitors in New York City is spent within Times Square. The famed New Year’s Eve ball drop was first held on Dec. 31, 1907.
Tunnel Hill, GA 30755
Crews building the Western & Atlantic Railroad from Atlanta to Chattanooga, Tenn., faced a number of natural obstacles. None, however, were as foreboding as Chetoogeta Mountain. What workers built was a 1,477-foot-long engineering phenomenon that has stood the test of time. Work on the tunnel started on July 15, 1848, and the first train rolled through the tunnel on May 9, 1850. The railroad actually started rail service between Atlanta and Chattanooga in the 1840s. The tunnel remained in service until 1928 when a new tunnel opened a few feet away to accommodate larger trains. For years, the older tunnel sat unused, and eventually fell into disrepair.
No trip to Vegas would be complete without seeing the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign. Built in 1959, the sign is one of the most popular symbols of Las Vegas. The sign, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2009, is located in the middle of Las Vegas Boulevard, roughly a mile from Mandalay Bay on the southern end of The Strip.