Not sure where to take that next vacation? Here are a few ideas.
Today, the travel site TripAdvisor announced its inaugural Travelers’ Choice Attractions awards for the top U.S. landmarks. For the selection process, TripAdvisor culled through thousands of traveler reviews. The list they came up with is a result of both the quality and quantity of those reviews.
The surprising first place winner was the Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas. The Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C. came in last at tenth place.
Barbara Messing, the travel site’s chief marketing officer, said the list was crafted to “inspire travelers setting out on summer trips.” So pack up the car and hit these top 10 destinations.
Click here for the complete list of 2013 Travelers’ Choice Attractions winners.
1. Bellagio Fountains, Las Vegas, Nevada
First off, there is no admission fee to see the Bellagio Fountains, so that should be reason enough to stop and witness the iconic water display. The experience is spectacular. An 8-acre lake in the middle of the desert rockets water nearly 460 feet up into the air using over 1,200 mechanized spritzers.
The whole show is choreographed to various pieces of music, including classics like "Viva Las Vegas", "Luck Be a Lady", and "My Heart Will Go On." Maybe for good luck you can recreate the final scene from Ocean’s 11, with the whole gang standing beside the Bellagio, as the fountain’s waters dance to “Claire de Lune.”
2. Gettysburg National Military Park, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Visiting Gettysburg should be a requirement for every American. A trip to the park allows visitors to walk in the Soldiers' National Cemetery, where President Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous Gettysburg Address. For visitors wishing a personalized tour, the Licensed Battlefield Guide service is a great way to see and understand the battlefield. The tours are given from the comfort of your own vehicle as personal tour guides are assigned to lead you and your family around the park. See here for more information.
Admission: $12.50 for adults (ages 13+), $8.50 for youth (ages 6-12) and free for children under 6.
3. USS Arizona Memorial, Honolulu, Hawaii
This landmark grew out of a national desire to establish some sort of memorial at Pearl Harbor to honor those who died in the attack. The landmark, the USS Arizona, is the final resting place for many of the ship's 1,177 crewmen who lost their lives on December 7, 1941. If you are planning your trip during the busy summer months, make sure to arrive early to the memorial’s visitor center to secure your place in a tour of the ship. You can also book tickets ahead of time online, but keep in mind that there is a $1.50 service fee per person.
4. Top of the Rock Observation Deck, New York City, New York
The Top of the Rock is a great introduction to New York City. A glass paneled observatory on the 67th and 69th floors of Rockefeller Center, as well as an open air vista from the 70th floor, offer unique panoramic views of the city. Make sure to get your photo taken by one of the many professional photographers around the observatory.
Admission: $27 for adults, $17 for children ages 6-12.
5. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California
Opened in 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. The bridge is named for the strait of the Golden Gate, which runs for about 2 miles, from San Francisco to the Marin headlands peninsula. The suspended roadway is supported by two cables, each more than 7,000 feet in length and both containing 80,000 miles of wire. You may want to consider taking a tour of the bridge. This year’s tour season runs from April 1 to Oct. 6.
Tour admission: $12.95 for adults, $9.95 for seniors (62+) and juniors (6–17). Children under 5 are free.
6. Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Savannah, Georgia
Shortly before the end of the 18th century, French Catholic immigrants from Haiti established Savannah’s first parish. They called it the Congrégation de Saint Jean-Baptiste. Now, more than 160 years later, the original cathedral still stands. To attend mass at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, see here for the schedule.
7. Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C.
This memorial includes the names of over 58,000 servicemen and women who gave their lives in service in the Vietnam Conflict. The site was designed by a 21-year-old senior at Yale University named Maya Ying Lin. Her design was selected from 1,421 entries that were submitted to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund for consideration. Construction was completed in late October 1982 and the Memorial was dedicated on Nov. 13, 1982. In a hauntingly beautiful tribute, the names on the memorial are arranged chronologically by date of casualty. According to the National Park Service, “The panels are filled like pages of a journal listing the men and women's names as they fell.”
8. Broadway, New York City
Broadway is located in the heart of Manhattan and is what TripAdvisor has dubbed, “the pinnacle of the American theatre industry.” This district is known for its abundance of theaters, many of which have been in use for more than half a century. Whether a native New Yorker or a first-time tourist, Broadway is a must see attraction. See here to purchase tickets to Broadway productions.
Admission: Free to view the district. Prices for shows vary.
9. Cloud Gate, Chicago, Illinois
Built between 2004 and 2006, Cloud Gate is a public sculpture designed by the Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor. The sculpture’s most striking characteristic is the way its surface reflects the Chicago skyline. To see the distorted sky close up, visitors can stand under the sculpture’s 12-foot high arch in its center.
10. Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, Washington, D.C.
Washington D.C.’s Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool was constructed between 1922 and 1923, following the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial. The large rectangular pool, situated on the National Mall, east of the Lincoln Memorial, serenely reflects the image the Washington Monument. An icon of the city, 24 million visitors come to the site each year.