Sunday, March 25, 2012

America's Top Tourist Attractions (& My Own Version of Places I've Loved)

St. Louis Cathedral, New Orleans
We are heading to New Orleans this week for a quick trip during my spring break. New Orleans is my favorite city; while part of that is its wonderful culture and food, some of my feelings for the Crescent City are tied up in my own history.

In high school, my dad worked in New Orleans. It was my first plane trip, my first time walking around alone in a city. We went down half a dozen times while he worked there, and I haven't been able to get the city out of my system since. I've been twice on girls trips, once as a tag-along with my mom for a conference. The last time I saw New Orleans was about two weeks before Katrina. My best girl friends and I went down for a fun trip. Then Katrina happened, and I was unsure if I'd ever see my beloved city look as beautiful as it had been before, full of spirit. Seven years later, I'm getting to go on a train with my husband on a long-awaited return journey.

Planning this trip has caused me to think back on other trips, specifically those inside the U.S. Forbes magazine published a list of the 25 top American tourist attractions a couple of years ago. Here is that list:

1. Time’s Square, New York City, New York
2. Las Vegas Strip, Las Vegas, Nevada
3. National Mall and Memorial Parks, Washington, D.C.
4. Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston, Massachusetts
5. Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Lake Buena Vista, Florida
6. Disneyland Park, Anaheim, California
7. Fisherman’s Wharf/Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco, California
8. Niagara Falls, New York
9. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee/ North Carolina
10. Navy Pier, Chicago, Illinois
11. Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Arizona /Nevada
12. Universal Studios Orlando/Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando, Florida
13. SeaWorld Florida, Orlando, Florida
14. San Antonio River Walk, Texas
15. Temple Square, Salt Lake City, Utah
16. Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Pennsylvania /New Jersey
17. Universal Studios, Hollywood, California
18. Metropolitan Museum, New York, New York
19. Waikiki Beach, Oahu, Hawaii
20. Grand Canyon, Arizona
21. Busch Gardens Africa, Tampa Bay, Florida
22. Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts
23. SeaWorld San Diego, San Diego, California
24. American Museum of Natural History, New York
25. Atlantic City Boardwalk, New Jersey

The places on that list that I've visited are in bold. Although I've only been to a handful of those attractions (eight out of twenty-five), I started wondering if those place would be listed in my own "top" list. Some of them would -- the Grand Canyon and the Golden Gate Bridge, for example. I can't choose an order, but here are some top attractions I've visited that didn't make the list at all, but that made an impact on me at the time I visited them:

Doubtless, there are more, but these are the places that popped into my head this afternoon. Each of them made an impression on me, and each is a place I'd like to return to someday.

Where are your favorite "attractions"? (As opposed to a nice relaxing beach vacation, which we all enjoy!)

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