North America is the city-break capital of the world. There’s so much to see in cities like Las Vegas, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto and Washington DC to name just a few. Here are our reviews of tourist attractions in North America and remember, all our attraction reviews are based on personal visits:
- MGM Lion Habitat, Las Vegas
The MGM Lion Habitat is a free attraction in Las Vegas located inside the MGM Grand casino. At the edge of the casino floor, right next to slot machines and gambling tables is a glass enclosure and the lions appear each day inside it.
- Dolphin Trainer For A Day, Mirage Hotel, Las Vegas
The Dolphin Trainer For A Day experience is based at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas as part of Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden at the rear of the hotel. It’s really expensive but that’s because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m really glad I did it. I just needed to get all my relatives to pay for it!
- Celebration, Florida
Celebration is a purpose built community near to Disney World in Florida and the moment you arrive, you know there’s something different about it. Partly because everything is new and partly because it was initially developed by the Walt Disney Company, the whole place is a bit like a stereo-typical “perfect” American town. It’s like Main Street USA on speed!
- Coit Tower, San Francisco
Coit Tower in San Francisco offers terrific views of the downtown area and bay. It stands on Telegraph Hill, at a height of 210 feet and you can see it around large parts of San Francisco. When you look at it from a distance, you can see that it resembles a fire hose and there’s a very good reason for this.
- The Boston Freedom Trail, Boston
The Boston Freedom Trail is a 2.5 miles long route around the city which is marked out in the sidewalk with red bricks. Basically, it takes you to the various historic sites of significance in the fight for American independence. So you’ll see churches, meeting houses, burial grounds, parks and a ship amongst the various locations.
- Disney Epcot
The EPCOT theme park is based on an idea that Walt Disney had to build an “experimental prototype community of tomorrow” which is what EPCOT actually stands for.
The idea evolved though and the park is now a combination of two main elements – a “World Showcase” where different nations are represented around a large central lake and then a collection of attractions with a science and technology theme.
- CN Tower, Toronto
The CN Tower is one of the tallest free standing structures in the world and has been Toronto’s biggest tourist attraction since it opened in 1976. It was the world’s tallest for tower for more than 30 years, but lost that crown back in 2010. The tower dominates the city of Toronto and you can see it not just elsewhere in the downtown area, but also from miles away.
- Ellis Island, New York
Ellis Island, just off the southern tip of Manhattan, was the gateway to a new life in the USA for immigrants arriving between 1892 and 1954. Despite the closure of the complex many years ago, the grand buildings still remain intact, including the huge welcome hall and the whole place is now a national immigration museum. Many original features remain so you get a real taste of what it would have been like to arrive as an immigrant.
- Georgetown, Washington DC
Georgetown is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Washington DC and it’s packed with attractive houses, tree-lined avenues and quaint shops. We’d recommend spending some time just walking the streets and you’ll come across some lovely individual houses and beautiful terraces.
- Downtown Disney, Orlando
Downtown Disney is a collection of restaurants, experiences and shops lining a long walkway on the edge of a lake. It really comes alive at night when the atmosphere is brilliant and it’s pretty normal to find street entertainers offering music and comedy. There’s also a Cirque de Soleil theatre here presenting a show called La Nouba and a cinema.
- Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles
Grauman’s Chinese Theatre is the most famous cinema in Hollywood. Despite being built in 1927, to this day it is still the home of many of the Hollywood premieres and crowds gather all around the old cinema when they take place.
- Fremont Street Experience, Las Vegas
The Fremont Street Experience is a tourist attraction in downtown Las Vegas. It’s home to some of the oldest casinos from the early days of gambling in the city, before the much larger resort style casinos were built on the strip.
- Brooklyn Bridge, New York
Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most familiar landmarks in New York and there are lots of places to get a great view of it. South Street Seaport and the Staten Island Ferry offer good views, but there’s nothing quite like seeing it up close and walking right the way across it from City Hall on Manhattan Island to the small park in Brooklyn.
- Beacon Hill, Boston
Beacon Hill is a historic and desirable area of Boston and it’s a lovely place to walk around. It’s only on the edge of downtown Boston, but you’ll feel like you’re a world away in another time period. The things that make this area such an attraction are the narrow streets, some of which are cobbled, and the beautiful red-brick houses. They’re all so pretty!
- Copley Square, Boston
Copley Square is a large public square in the Back Bay area of Boston, Massachusetts with a mixture of paving and grassed areas. It is dominated by a number of impressive buildings and is a lovely place to spend some time. We felt it had a really friendly and relaxed atmosphere.
- Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is one of the most recognisable and iconic bridges in the world. It spans the Frisco bay and you have to get close to appreciate just how big it is.
- Harvard University, Massachusetts
Harvard University is one of America’s most famous educational establishments and it’s an attraction lots of people visit when staying in nearby Boston. You can visit the site for free and there’s even a dedicated Information Center to explain more about how the famous campus works. You’ll find this at the Holyoake Center Arcade on Massachusetts Avenue in the heart of Harvard Square.
- Lincoln Center, New York
Lincoln Center is a collection of buildings in New York dedicated to the performing arts. The complex was completed in the 1960s has provided homes for the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera, the New York State Theater and the Julliard School for the Performing Arts. If you’re a fan of the Oscar winning movie Black Swan with Natalie Portman, you’ll want to call in here as the buildings are featured in many scenes.
- The Grand Canyon, Arizona
The Grand Canyon is one of the most awesome sights on earth and if you’re anywhere nearby, it’s well worth a special trip to see it. This is perhaps most easily done from Las Vegas where there is a huge industry based on taking people to see the canyon. Even then there are lots of different options to consider and hopefully this review will help you.
- Cheers Bar, Boston
Cheers Bar in Boston is the exterior of the building used for the long-running TV series “Cheers”. It’s actually not called Cheers at all, but is the Bull and Finch pub near Boston Common.
The inside shots for the TV series were filmed in a studio, so you won’t recognise the interior but it’s still worth going inside. When you walk down the stairs, you’ll find a bar and gift shop along with some Cheers history.
- The Getty Center, Los Angeles
The Getty Center is a must-see attraction in LA. It’s an oasis of calm which sits high up on a hill with stunning views of Bel Air and downtown Los Angeles. It’s basically an art gallery and café and along with the Getty Villa in Malibu, the two sites form the Getty Museum. The modern art is impressive and there are several galleries in several buildings to see packed with European paintings, sculpture, manuscripts, decorative arts, and photographs.
- Stanley Park, Vancouver
Stanley Park can be found bordering the downtown area of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It’s a 1,001 acre park made up from a mixture of park land, forest and seawall. It opened in 1888 and was named after Lord Stanley of Preston who served as Colonial Secretary at the time.
- Gastown, Vancouver
Gastown is a historic neighbourhood of Vancouver at the north east end of downtown Vancouver. It’s the citys oldest neighbourhood and is a dramatic contrast to the modern skyscape of downtown Vancouver. Its Victorian style buildings contain some of the coolest and trendiest places in Vancouver. Home to some high end shopping combined with tourist shops, it’s just a real cool place to hang out.
- Rogers Arena, Vancouver
Rogers Arena is located in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia and is a premier events facility hosting numerous sporting and entertainment events. Opened in 1995 it has a capacity of around 19,000 depending on the event being hosted.
- South Street Seaport, New York
South Street Seaport is a former port area on the lower east side of New York which has been rejuvenated and revitalised in recent years. What was once a neglected docks is now a funky shopping area with restaurants, gift stores and designer shops.
- Boston Common, Boston
Boston Common is a 50 acre public park. It marks the start of Boston’s historic “Freedom Trail” and is also one of the oldest parks in the USA. To locals, it’s known simply as “The Common” and has had many uses over the years from grazing cattle to public executions!
- Sunshine Village, Banff
Sunshine village is a ski resort located near Banff, Alberta, Canada. Set in the spectacular heart of the Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park. It’s around eight kilometres west of the town of Banff and an hour and a half west of Calgary. In our visit we stayed in the Town of Banff and caught the shuttle bus to the ski resort which came as part of the ski pass we purchased.
- Calgary Tower, Canada
Calgary Tower is an iconic part of the city of Calgary’s skyscape. Built in 1968 at a cost of $3.5 million it was designed and constructed to celebrate Canada’s centennial of 1967 and as part of an urban renewal plan. Originally called the Husky Tower, it was design by W. G. Milne and is built from concrete and steel.
- Warner Bros VIP Studio Tour, Los Angeles
We think the Warner Brothers VIP Tour is the best genuine studio tour you can do. There are no roller-coasters or 3D screens, just the opportunity to go behind-the-scenes at a genuine working movie studio. There’s loads to see but we found the most impressive thing of all is the chance to see the “back lots” where wooden fake streets are adapted for each movie scene they want to shoot there. When we visited, one back-lot street was being converted for the next movie which was fascinating to see.
- Radio City Music Hall, New York
For almost a century, the world’s biggest musical acts have performed at Radio City Music Hall. It was built in the 1930s as part of the Rockefeller complex and became known as the place to see the big stars of radio and the big screen, along with the famous “Rockette” dancing girls. The art deco interior is amazing and the “Stage Door Tour” which goes behind the scenes is thoroughly recommended – we loved it.
- Hollywood Sign, Los Angeles
Erected in 1923, the Hollywood Sign is one of those tourist attractions everyone wants to see, but it isn’t actually open to the public and you can’t actually get to it. Instead, you’ll have to settle for hiking on foot or in our case, we simply wanted a photo as close as we could get in a car. We think the closest place to get to in a car is Canyon Lake Drive which is near the Hollywood Reservoir.
- Las Vegas Neon Sign, Las Vegas
Erected in 1959, the old neon sign on Las Vegas Blvd has been a landmark that has welcomed visitors to the city for decades. It’s now a tourist attraction in its own right and there’s even a small parking area in the middle of the road so you can stop for a photo.
- John F Kennedy Library & Museum, Boston
This museum at Columbia Point on the outskirts of Boston is dedicated to John F Kennedy and we found it impressive both its architecture and its contents. The museum tells the story of his early life, rise to politics and service as America’s 35th president. There are interactive displays, re-creations of rooms in the White House and decent food outlets too.
- Alcatraz Island, San Francisco
This is an island with an infamous history, and much of the former prison here remains intact. The biggest and most recognisable building still standing is the cell block and the audio tour of the building includes the thoughts of former prisoners. On your visit, you’ll see some further buildings too and you’ll also see the remains of others, like the governor’s mansion which burned down in a fire during the American Indian occupation of the island.
- Universal Studios, Hollywood
Universal Studios is basically a theme park with rides and attractions, but the twist is that the “Studio Tour” part does actually take you through the working studios and the “backlot”. You’ll see the outside set for Desperate Housewives, the town square used in “Back to the Future”, and the plane crash set from “War of the Worlds”.
- Paris Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas
The highlight here is the mini Eiffel Tower which is about a 3rd the height of the original. We recommend the trip up the elevator to the top where there are some magnificent views of the strip – far cheaper than a helicopter ride!
- Aria Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas
This is one of the newest hotels in Las Vegas and is part of the “City Center” development opposite Planet Hollywood on the strip. There are no free shows, but the fountain at the front is fascinating to watch as bursts of water do battle with each other. The hotel is also worth seeing, just to soak up the opulence of the place. You can ride the “City Center Tram” which goes past the front of the building for free too.
- Union Station, Washington DC
This isn’t just about trains! It was opened in 1908 and back then it was the grand entrance to Washington. As such the architecture is really impressive. From the outside it has a huge long frontage and the inside has the most stunning ceiling. Whilst the station still has its trains, these days it’s also an atmospheric shopping and dining venue.
- US Capitol, Washington DC
This is another huge Washington landmark and it’ll take you a while to walk all the way around the outside. Free timed tours inside are available by picking up a ticket from the new Visitor Centre. It’s fascinating to see inside, but you don’t get to see much of the building on the tour unless the houses aren’t in session. We think you’ll get most out of this tour if you have a real interest in US history, you may be a bit bored if not.
- Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia
It might sound a bit morbid, but a visit to the cemetery is a truly poignant experience. You’ll see line upon line of simple military graves as far as the eye can see. The cemetery is geared up for visitors and many call in at the grave of John F Kennedy with its eternal flame. You also get a good view of the Pentagon.
- Empire State Building, New York
It’s on 34th St W at the junction with 5th Ave, but you can see it almost everywhere on Manhattan Island. If you take the trip up it, be prepared for lots of elevator rides and an incredible view. It’s always busy though so be prepared to wait in line. You really feel the sense of history when you go up the Empire State Building and the art deco interior is beautiful, but if you don’t want to wait in line we’d recommend you try the Top of The Rock attraction instead.
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