Happiest places make for great sights

A recent study by Harris Interactive found the Dallas/Fort Worth area to be the happiest of the country’s 10 major markets.

The complete breakdown:

  • Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas (38 percent very happy)
  • Houston, Texas (36 percent very happy)
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (34 percent very happy)
  • Atlanta, Georgia (34 percent very happy)
  • Los Angeles, California (33 percent very happy)
  • NYC Metro, New York (33 percent very happy)
  • Washington, D.C. (33 percent very happy)
  • Chicago, Illinois (32 percent very happy)
  • Boston, Massachusetts (31 percent very happy)
  • San Francisco, California (28 percent very happy)

Now, no one wants to visit an unhappy place. So, with these results in mind, here are a few places to visit and be happy.

Houston: The Beer Can House

From the late 1960s until he died in the 1980s, John Milkovisch covered his house on Malone Street with crushed beer cans. The house – today affectionately know as the Beer Can House – opened in 2008 as a folk art museum.

“They say every man should leave something to be remembered by. At least I accomplished that goal,” one Milkovisch quote painted on an interior wall reads. For a small fee, visitors can tour the house and learn more about more about Milkovisch’s passion.

Why visit: It’s a house covered in beer cans. How can that not make one smile?

Philadelphia: Liberty Bell

Of all the nation’s symbols, none may be as enduring as the Liberty Bell. But the bell, a Philadelphia institution for two-and-a-half centuries, is as much — if not more — fiction and folklore as it is fact.

While the bell traveled the country for decades, it hasn’t left Philadelphia since 1915. The Liberty Bell moved into its current location in 2003.

Why visit: The Bell is an amazing artifact from the country’s colonial times and early days. Stop by and ponder how inspiring our founding fathers were.

San Francisco: Alcatraz

The Rock, as it’s known, is more myth than reality, but the federal penitentiary-turned-museum attracts more than a million visitors annually. To visit, a boat takes travelers on a 10-15-minute cruise from Pier 33 to the island.

Stepping off the boat onto the island so-often shrouded in the city’s famous fog, it’s hard not to imagine the sense of hopelessness prisoners had when they were transported here when the island was still used as a prison. To further help bring to life the prison experience, be sure to pick up an audio tour and hear the about Alcatraz from prisoners themselves.

Why visit: Be grateful there’s a boat off this island. Or, just run around like a ninny pretending to be Nicolas Cage or Sean Connery trying to stop a madman.

Atlanta: The Big Chicken

The Big Chicken, located along Cobb Parkway in southern Marietta, is a true Atlanta landmark. Motorists reference the 56-foot-tall big chicken whengiving directions (as in “head past the Big Chicken and turn right”). Radio stations mention it when describing traffic.

Airplane pilots even use it as a landmark for navigation.

What the Leaning Tower is to Pisa and the Eiffel Tower is to Paris, the Big Chicken is to Marietta. Forget the city’s Civil War history and its quaint city square. People from around the globe identify Marietta by its over-sized bird.

Perhaps more than anything else, the Big Chicken is a throwback to another time, one when the owners of roadside eateries did what they needed to do to draw in passing motorists.

Why visit: It’s a giant chicken on the side of the road. Besides, it’s good enough for pilots to use as a landmark.

About Todd DeFeo 823 Articles
Todd DeFeo loves to travel anywhere, anytime, taking pictures and notes. An award-winning reporter, Todd revels in the experience and the fact that every place has a story to tell. He is the owner of The DeFeo Groupe and also edits Express Telegraph and Railfanning.org.