It’s one of the ironies of travel that while people will fly around the world to marvel at an attraction, folks living nearby never bother to visit. For many locals, there’s a lack of scarcity, always a feeling they can visit tomorrow. And then there’s the hip factor, wanting to avoid the places that attract tourists. VacayDaze shares 10 American attractions that are worth visiting, even if locals don’t know it.
Sleepy Hollow, New York
Although just 30 miles from Manhattan, few New Yorkers ever make it to Sleepy Hollow. Sleepy Hollow is a village in New York State’s Hudson Valley. It’s known as the setting of Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” The author is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Kykuit, the Rockefeller family’s opulent hilltop estate, has gardens with 20th-century sculptures. Northeast, vast Rockefeller State Park Preserve includes a network of carriage roads traversing woodlands, fields and streams.
In “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” the local tales surrounding the activity of the Headless Horseman seem to imply that the crossing of this bridge carries him from the land of the dead to that of the living – and back again – as he departs the burial ground of the Old Dutch Church, and returns each morning before sunrise. At the high point of Irving’s Legend, Ichabod Crane, while fleeing from the Horseman, rides for the bridge in the hope of crossing a magic line of safety, a point where the Horseman’s powers dissolve.
Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia
Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, a restored colonial capital, makes America’s past both relevant and accessible to visitors. Colonial Williamsburg is a living-history museum and private foundation presenting part of a historic district in the city of Williamsburg, Virginia, United States. Colonial Williamsburg‘s 301-acre Historic Area includes buildings from the 18th century (during part of which the city was the capital of Colonial Virginia), as well as 17th century, 19th century, and Colonial Revival structures, as well as more recent reconstructions.
The Historic Area is an interpretation of a colonial American city, with exhibits of dozens of restored or re-created buildings related to its colonial and American Revolutionary War history. Colonial Williamsburg‘s Historic Area’s combination of restoration and re-creation of parts of the colonial town’s three main thoroughfares and their connecting side streets attempts to suggest the atmosphere and the circumstances of 18th century Americans. Colonial Williamsburg‘s motto has been: “That the future may learn from the past”.
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California
San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge is a highlight for visitors, who explore the trails that lead up to the span, and take in views from the walkway. The Golden Gate Bridge is an iconic structure connecting the city of San Francisco to Marin County, California. It spans almost two miles across the Golden Gate, the narrow strait where San Francisco Bay opens to meet the Pacific Ocean.
The dream of connecting San Francisco to its northern neighbors became a reality when construction commenced in 1933. Given the chance for steady employment amid the Great Depression, construction crews braved treacherous conditions as the roadway and towers took shape over open water. The Golden Gate Bridge, opened to the public in 1937, has endured as a picture-perfect landmark and an engineering marvel.
Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee
Although locals understand Elvis’ importance, they rarely visit Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee, the home of Elvis Presley, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Elvis Presley’s Graceland is open daily with tours of Graceland Mansion, Elvis’ custom jets and a new entertainment and exhibit complex, Elvis Presley’s Memphis.
The new complex includes a new automobile museum, Presley Motors, and Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum, the world’s largest and most comprehensive Elvis museum in the world, as well as many more exhibits, restaurants and shops. The tour of Graceland Mansion features an interactive, iPad tour with additional enhancements including photos, video and more.
Getty Center, Los Angeles, California
In a city focused on popular entertainment, classical art and culture are often overlooked. Perhaps that’s why many locals miss the Getty Center. The Getty Center, in Los Angeles, California, is a campus of the Getty Museum and other programs of the Getty Trust.
The $1.3 billion Getty Center opened to the public on December 16, 1997 and is well-known for its architecture, gardens, and views overlooking Los Angeles. The Center sits atop a hill connected to a visitors’ parking garage at the bottom of the hill by a three-car, cable-pulled hover train funicular.
USS Arizona Memorial, Honolulu, Hawaii
The USS Arizona Memorial in Honolulu marks the site where more than a thousand sailors died during the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. There is a reason the USS Arizona Memorial is the number one visitor destination in Hawaii. Millions of people from all over the world come to this majestic setting to see for themselves where World War II began for the United States on December 7, 1941. Located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 3,000 miles from the West Coast of America and 4,000 miles from Japan, Pearl Harbor serves as a central gathering place for the WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument, which consists of 9 historic locations in 3 of the westernmost United States – California, Alaska, and Hawaii. Of these, five are located within Pearl Harbor itself: the USS Arizona Memorial, the USS Oklahoma Memorial, the USS Utah Memorial, and parts of Ford Island and Battleship Row.
The USS Arizona Memorial is a must-see destination for all individuals coming to Hawaii, drawing more than 1.8 million visitors each year from all over the world. Visitors are free to explore the grounds of the $65 million Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, which was expanded from the original 3 to 17 acres, in December of 2011.
Niagara Falls, New York
Niagara Falls has attracted tourists for centuries, but locals often don’t bother to make the trip. Niagara Falls is the collective name for three waterfalls that straddle the international border between the Canadian province of Ontario and the American state of New York. They form the southern end of the Niagara Gorge. From largest to smallest, the three waterfalls are the Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls. The Horseshoe Falls lies on the border of the United States and Canada with the American Falls entirely on the United States’ side, separated by Goat Island. The smaller Bridal Veil Falls are also on the United States’ side, separated from the American Falls by Luna Island.
Geologically speaking, Niagara Falls is quite young. Some 12,000 years ago, the water plunged over the edge of the Niagara Escarpment–a steep slope that runs east/west from New York through Ontario, Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois. Since the escarpment is most famous as the cliff over which the Niagara River drops off at Niagara Falls, it was named the Niagara Escarpment.
Monuments and Memorials, Washington, D.C.
For Washingtonians, the Washington, D.C. memorials and statues are often just a backdrop in their daily lives. Visitors know better. The Lincoln Memorial, for example, humanizes the larger-than-life leaders who created and guided the country. Marvel at the national landmarks in Washington, D.C. that make up America’s front yard.
Wandering around Washington, D.C., is like watching the pages of American history come to life. Many of the best (and free!) monuments stand on one picturesque side of the National Mall. Just about any day or night, when the monuments look especially dramatic is a good time to acquaint yourself with the nation’s past.
Chicago is where the skyscraper was invented, and remains a showroom for the world’s top architects. There are plenty of things to do in Chicago, including tours, spectator sports, shopping and other attractions. The nightlife doesn’t stop either with plenty of bars and nightclubs, live music and comedy clubs.
With its gourmet restaurants, popular museums and renowned sports teams, Chicago boasts the kinds of urban attractions that rival any city. Chicago, officially the City of Chicago, on Lake Michigan in Illinois, is one of the largest cities in the United States. At a 2017 estimate population of 2,716,450, it is the third most populous city in the United States, and the most populous city in both the state of Illinois and the United States Midwest.
Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts
Boston’s Freedom Trail includes sites like Boston Common, Paul Revere’s home and the Bunker Hill Monument. The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile-long path through downtown Boston, Massachusetts, that passes by 16 locations significant to the history of the United States. From the Old North Church to Faneuil Hall, and through resonant burying grounds, visit the temples and landmarks of the Revolutionary Era.
Freedom Trail is a unique collection of museums, churches, meeting houses, burying grounds, parks, a ship, and historic markers that tell the story of the American Revolution and beyond. Led by 18th century costumed Freedom Trail Players, tours feature tales of high treason, mob agitations, revolutionary actions, and partisan fights of the American Revolution.