Independence Day may be one of the most celebrated holidays in America. There are plenty of exciting parties, parades, firework displays, and other celebrations taking place across the country. But if you don’t know where to go for the 4th of July and want to celebrate Independence Day in the best way possible check out our list of the best places to celebrate The Fourth of July across the U.S.
There are many places across Chicago that offer fun July Fourth celebrations. Consider starting your day at The Navy Pier. Here you’ll get to enjoy music played by a live DJ, indulge in a barbecue feast, Enjoy rides such as the Centennial Wheel and the Wave Swinger, and finally, you can even enjoy a round of miniature golf. If you plan on sticking around you can celebrate July Fourth on The Navy Pier’s rooftop which boasts unparalleled views of the lake as well as a wonderful fireworks show. Further, the Grant Park Music Festival puts on a July Fourth concert that usually takes place between 6:30-8:30 pm. There are plenty of other events leading up to the big holiday that you may want to check out too. The Eyes to the Skies Festival takes place from June 30 through July 3 in the Lisle Park District and the Annual Windy City RibFest takes place from June 30 through July 2. With so much to do you may want to spend a few days or even a week vacationing in Chicago!
San Diego, California
San Diego is synonymous with patriotism. With major military bases dotting the area, most residents love their country. As an added bonus, the city also has excellent weather and serene beaches. One of the biggest Independence Day attractions in the city is the annual Big Bay Boom which features an incredible fireworks display. The show can be seen from five locations including Shelter Island, Harbor Island, North Embarcadero, Coronado Ferry Landing, and Convention Center Terrace. If you own a boat, you can even observe the show in the water but you must remain within the 300-yard safety zones around the barges.
You may even want to consider turning your July Fourth celebrations into an extended holiday! San Diego is a great place for families, couples, or single people to vacation in because there are plenty of things to do and see.
Las Vegas, Nevada
If you’re looking for an unforgettable July Fourth celebration and you like to party be sure to head to Las Vegas. Although, you may want to consider booking your flights and accommodations well in advance because things tend to get pretty pricey and sold out as the U.S. holiday approaches. Many hotel bars, casinos, and resorts deck out their establishments with patriotic decorations and compete with each other for the best fireworks show in the city!
New Orleans, Louisiana
The party never stops in this exciting city! An individual seeking a nonstop party must consider buying a ticket to New Orleans. Not only can people drink while walking on the street, but they can also enjoy the delicious food and relaxed atmosphere. One of the top Fourth of July attractions in New Orleans is the annual Go 4th on the River, NOLA Fireworks show. The city puts on not one but two fireworks shows at the same, in the form of dueling barges on the Mississippi River. The show is also synchronized with patriotic music! Grab your friends and some lawn chairs and grab a spot along the river to catch a remarkable view. Some other great spots for viewing the show include Woldenberg Park, the Moon Walk, or across the river in Algiers.
Bristol, Rhode Island
This city has a long history of July Fourth celebrations which dates back to 1785. Bristol doesn’t only celebrate Independence Day on the day of but many days leading up to it too. The celebrations start on June 14th with Flag Day. There are other events such as a Fourth of July Ball which takes place on June 21st, as well as concerts at Independence Park and so much more. You also have to check out Bristol’s 4th of July Parade which happens to be the oldest annual parade in the United States.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach may be a great place to go for a sunny vacation but it is also an awesome destination to celebrate Independence Day. The city hosts a Garden City Golf Cart Parade in Surfside Beach, as well as an annual Fourth of July Parade at Pawleys Island. You can even catch a boat parade at Murrells Inlet which is located just 10 miles south of Myrtle Beach. But in the evening, be sure to head to Surfside Beach Pier where you can enjoy inflatable rides, delicious food, craft beer, and a wonderful fireworks display!
New York City, New York State
New York City is a bustling place any time of year but it’s also an excellent destination to celebrate Independence Day. You can start the day by visiting New York City’s Revolutionary War locations such as St. Paul’s Chapel, Fraunces Tavern, Fort Tryon Park, or you can take a free ferry ride to Staten Island. To finish the day be sure to check outMacy’s 4th of July Firework show! It’s located on the East River in Midtown Manhattan and features a lengthy firework display along with synchronized music. There are plenty of places to catch a view of the show but some of the best spots include Williamsburg and Greenpoint waterfronts, FDR Drive, on one of New York City’s rooftop bars, or on a boat.
Coney Island, Brooklyn
If you find yourself in New York City on the Fourth of July holiday be sure to head to Coney Island, a residential neighborhood in southwestern Brooklyn. Here, the celebrations are an entire day event. You can start your day by visiting the New York Aquarium followed by a ride on the famous Cyclone Roller Coaster. You may even want to check out the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest and enjoy while you’re at it grab a hot dog or two from Nathan’s famous Flagship location. End the day with Coney Island’s amazing fireworks display at the beach near Steeplechase Pier.
The city of Savannah, Georgia is the oldest city in the state of Georgia, and features a number of historic sites throughout the city and just outside its limits. Initially founded in 1733, Savannah became the British colonial capital of the Province of Georgia. The city has done an excellent job maintaining its rich heritage from the colonial days and on through the development and expansion of the United States. With so many different places to visit, below are 17 things for visitors to see and do in the southern city of Savannah.
17. Skidaway Island State Park
Skidaway Island State Park is a 588-acre park located near Savannah, located on a barrier island that borders Runaway Negro Creek and Skidaway Straights and is part of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. The park features 87 tent/trailer/RV sites, 5 picnic shelters, a group shelter, 3 camper cabins, 3 pioneer campgrounds, 3 playgrounds, and an interpretive center.
Two nature trails in the park wind through marshes, forests and sand dunes, and feature observation towers to provide additional vantage points to scope out the areas flora and fauna. Bird watching is another popular activity at Skidaway Island State Park, along the Colonial Coast Birding Trail. The scenery within Skidaway Island is so popular in fact that the area has developed into a popular spot for wedding ceremonies to be held, with a permit of course.
16. Walking Food Tour
Why waste time researching where to eat when you can hit all the hottest spots on the Savannah Culinary & Cultural Walking Food Tour! This walking food tour not only gives you a taste of some of the best cuisine found in Savannah, but you’ll get to take in Savannah’s history along the way.
You’ll get an intimate experience on this tour as each tour is limited to just 14 people. Be sure to come with an empty stomach as you’ll make many stops along the way — enough for lunch!
15. Grayson Stadium
Originally known simply as the Municipal Stadium, Grayson Stadium opened all the way back in 1926. However, a devastating hurricane in 1940 wracked the original stadium, causing a significant amount of damage. Major renovations occurred in 1941, and leading the fundraising charge was Spanish-American war veteran General William L. Grayson.
half of the funds coming from the Works Progress Association, the stadium was named in recognition for Grayson’s work in helping generate the funds for repairs. Currently, Grayson Stadium is home to the Savannah Sand Gnats, a minor league affiliate to the New York Mets, and formerly played host to the Savannah State University baseball team, and the annual Thanksgiving Day football game between two local high schools. With a capacity of 4,000, the stadium provides an intimate experience for a baseball game, a chance to truly embrace the sport on a more grassroots level.
There is a wide variety of cruise options to choose from to ensure you find the right one that fits your needs. For example, select cruises have live entertainment as well as meals. Further, the cruises are offered at different times to ensure you can find a time that works best for you.
13. First African Baptist Church
First organized in 1773 under the leadership of Reverend George Leile, by 1777 the church was officially constituted as a body of organized believers. With the guide of 3rd Pastor Reverend Andrew Marshall, the congregation came into possession of the present lands for the First African Baptist Church.
Inside the church, the light fixtures, baptismal pool, and 1832 Pipe Organ are all originals to the church. The solid oak pews in the church were installed during the early 1900s and were made by slaves. The ceiling of the building is inspired by the “Nine Patch Quilt” as a representation that the church was a safe house for slaves. In past times, the church served as the largest place for blacks and whites to meet during times of segregation.
12. Nighttime Ghost Tour
If you’re up for a spooky adventure then check out the Ghost City’s Dead of Night Tour. This tour lets you dig into the haunted history of Savannah and since the tour takes place after dark, it’ll feel even spookier!
The tour will take you to hard-to-find spots that are reputedly haunted in Savannah. Since you’ll be taking the tour on foot, you’ll get a more personal glimpse into Savannah’s spooky past.
11. Old Fort Jackson
With construction starting in 1808 and wrapping up in 1812, Old Fort Jackson is the oldest standing brick fort in the state of Georgia. Located on the Savannah River, the fort saw action during the War of 1812 before being designated a National Historic Landmark in more modern times. Contrary to most visitors’ first guess, the fort is not named after Andrew Jackson, but rather James Jackson, a British native who fought for the American cause and rose to the rank of Colonel, and accepted the surrender of the British in Savannah at the close of the revolution.
The fort also saw a great deal of action during the Civil War and served as an operational outpost for both Rebel and Union soldiers after it traded hands following a siege. For a time period from 1884 through 1905, the fort was known as Fort Oglethorpe. The city of Savannah purchased the fort in 1924 but didn’t have it fully restored until the 1970s. Visitors now are offered a chance to take a step back through time to a much more turbulent period of history of the United States.
10. Haunted Pub Tour
Calling all beer-enthusiasts, this tour has your name written all over it! The Creepy Crawl Haunted Pub Tour of Savannah gives you a peek into Savannah’s spooky past while getting a tour of the local pubs.
On the tour, you’ll get a complimentary glow-in-the-dark to-go cup that you can use during the pub-crawl. Your first stop is at Six Pence Pub, here you can fill up your cup, and learn about its spooky past. Along with other pubs, you’ll also make a bonus stop at Colonial park Cemetary.
9. Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
Initially in Savannah, the colonial charter prevented Roman Catholics from settling in the city. The English government at the time feared that Catholic settlers would be more loyal to the Spanish (and Catholic) authorities in Florida instead of the English government in Georgia. Shortly after the American Revolution, this practice came to a conclusion. French settlers from Haiti were the first Catholics to settle in the area, with the first church opening in 1799.
After the opening of a second church in 1839, construction began on the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in 1873 and finally concluded in 1896 with the addition of the iconic spires on the tops of the church towers. The structure was nearly destroyed at one point in 1898 after a fire ripped through the building. Services are still offered at the church today, and the most recent renovations concluded in the year 2000.
8. Tybee Beach Pier
When you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a relaxing day by the water take a 28-minute drive to Tybee Island and spend the day at the beach! Here you can lounge by the water, pack a picnic or take a stroll on the Tybee Beach Pier.
Further, there are also many local shops where you can take in the work of local crafters and artisans. You can also grab a drink or a bite from one of the local restaurants.
7. Bonaventure Cemetery
Perhaps not traditionally the first thing that pops to mind for tourism, a cemetery can seem like an odd destination to visit. However, Bonaventure Cemetery, the largest municipal cemetery in Savannah, covers some 160-acres of land.
This cemetery, in particular, became famous when it was featured in the novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt, and subsequently in the movie directed by Clint Eastwood based on the book. The cover of the book, featuring the Bird Girl sculpture was virtually unknown for some 50 years in the cemetery prior to being featured as the cover art. After rising to fame, the sculpture was donated to Savannah’s Telfair Museum of Art to avoid any potential disturbances at the site. Bonaventure Cemetery is also a great option for travelers on a budget, since there are no admission fees, of course.
The trolly makes 15 stops throughout the city so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to explore Savannah’s Historic District. The trolly comes every 20 minutes or so, so you can hop back on when you’re ready!
5. Forsyth Park
Slightly smaller than the gigantic cemetery mentioned above, Forsyth Park is a large city park that covers some 30-acres of the Savannah Historic District. Inside the park, visitors can find walking paths, a children’s play area, a fragrant garden (a garden specifically designed for the blind), a large fountain, tennis courts, basketball courts, and areas for soccer, frisbee and is even the home of the Savannah Shamrocks Rugby Club.
If that wasn’t enough, the park is also occasionally home to concerts to benefit the public. Originally opened in the 1840s as just 10-acres the park expanded and was named after Georgia Governor John Forsyth. The park also includes a memorial to Confederate volunteers who gave their lives during the Civil War. The park is an important urban feature to Savannah, as it is modeled after the Parisian style of urban planning focused on creating residential areas radiating out from a central green space.
4. Savannah History Museum
Enjoy a brief introduction into Savannah’s history at the Savanah History Museum. The museum is located in the former historic Central of Georgia Railroad’s passenger station.
Here you will get a glimpse into Savannah’s history from modern-day to dating back to 1733. Learn about Savannah’s culture, music, and artistic contributions through the exciting exhibits. You’ll also get to see the famous bench from Forrest Grump!
3. Pin Point Heritage Museum
In 1985 the A.S. Varn & Son oyster and crab factory in Pin Point closed its doors for good. It served to mark the end for a tiny fishing community on the banks of Moon River, just to the south of Savannah. For just under 100 years, Pin Point was self-sustaining and isolated.
The community was a Gullah/Geechee enclave founded by freedmen where family, religion, and work were deeply connected to the water. The factory today has been converted into the Pin Point Heritage Museum and celebrates the life and work of the Gullah community that lived here. Pin Point Heritage Museum provides guests with an opportunity to learn about the Gullah culture, at the site of a longstanding pillar of the community. Visitors are encouraged to take the guided tour to truly enhance the experience.
2. Historic Savannah Theatre
Located in Chippewa Square, the Historic Savannah Theatre first opened in 1818 and is one of the United States’ oldest continually operating theaters. Because of multiple fires inside the theater, it has served as both a live performance venue and a movie theater.
Since 2002, the venue has been host to a number of regular performances, but primarily musical revues. Not only has the theater been devastated by fire, but it’s also endured some wild weather as well. At one point just before the start of the 20th century, a hurricane-battered Savannah and tore sections of the roof off, and flooded the auditorium. One of the most unexpected guests to ever step foot on the stage of the Historic Savannah Theatre was baseball legend Ty Cobb, who in November of 1911 appeared in a performance called The College Widow.
1. Savannah Historic District
The Savannah Historic District is a large urban historic district that corresponds roughly to the city limits of Savannah prior to the Civil War. In 1966 the area was declared a National Historic Landmark District and is one of the largest of its kind in the United States.
On average, the Savannah Historic District attracts millions of visitors annually to marvel at its 18th and 19th-century architecture and green spaces. Some sights to see inside the historic district include the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low (the founder of the Girl Scouts of America), the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences, the First African Baptist Church, the Temple Mickve Israel, the Central of Georgia Railway roundhouse complex, the Colonial Cemetery, the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and Old Harbor Light. Not only is the district home to a number of sites on this list, but it features a great deal more that will keep visitors entertained throughout their travels.
St. Augustine’s primary claim to fame is its status as the oldest colonial settlement in the United States. In 1513, the famed Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon landed on the southeastern coast of the North American mainland. He claimed the land for Spain and named it La Florida, which translates into English as “land of the flowers.” About half a century later, another Spanish voyager, Pedro Menendez de Aviles, founded the city of St. Augustine. The modern-day city traces its heritage back to 1565.
Visitors will find a wealth of treasures to enjoy in St. Augustine, including lots of family-friendly activities for kids. Here are 12 hot suggestions to help kick off your trip planning…
17. Take a Guided Tour
St. Augustine features many reputable tour operators that offer informative, educational, and entertaining guided experiences. Guided tours are a great way to get acquainted with the city, and operators offer themed outings that cover a wide range of subjects. You can take a hop-on hop-off tour that allows you to explore points of interest on your own, as well as history tours that delve deep into the city’s storied past.
After nightfall, you can experience the spooky side of St. Augustine with mystery tours and ghost tours. Research your options and book in advance to optimize convenience.
16. Explore The City On A Hop-On-Hop-Off Trolley Tour
Speaking of guided tours, the St. Augustine Hop-On-Hop-Off Trolley Tour is a great opportunity to see the city at your own pace. This tour includes 23 stops all of which you can hop on or off whenever you please.
The tour also comes with an informative guide so you can learn about St. Augustine’s history along the way.
The tour departs over the Intracoastal waterway to North Beach where you will be able to enjoy a view of 17 miles of stunning coastline. During the tour, you’ll see Vilano Beach, Porpoise Point, Conch Island, Bird Island, San Jose Forest, Mendez Park, St. Augustine Beach and Fort Matanzas. Finally, on your way back to the airport be sure to take in the view of the Old Downtown.
14. Stroll Down St. George Street
Historic St. George Street runs through the heart of St. Augustine’s Colonial Quarter, and it is an absolute must-see. This pedestrian walkway passes many of the city’s best-preserved historical sites, including its ancient schoolhouse and the Old City Gates. Along the way, you’ll pass dozens of interesting boutiques, inviting cafes, and independent galleries. Prevailing wisdom suggests that you’ll need between two hours and half a day to get your fill of this beautiful section of St. Augustine.
13. Check Out The Alligators At The Alligator Farm Zoological Park
If you’re hoping to see some wildlife on your trip to St. Augustine, be sure to check out the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park. You’ll not only have the opportunity to check out every crocodilian species but you’ll also be able to check out their wide range of other animals too.
Once you’ve had an opportunity to check out the wildlife you can add more adventure to your day by zip-lining through the zoo! The challenging course will give you a birds-eye view of alligators and crocodiles and you’ll be able to see tropical birds at eye level and red-ruffed lemurs at an arm’s length!
12. Discover the Lightner Museum
While you’re in the Colonial Quarter, it’s a good idea to check out the nearby Lightner Museum. Rated as one of the city’s most unique attractions, the Lightner Museum features an unusual collection of 19th-century art. Some of the strange things you’ll encounter include old-school cigar packaging, a collection of shriveled heads, and bundles of human hair. If weirdness isn’t your cup of tea, there’s also plenty of conventional artworks for you to enjoy. The museum is housed in a former hotel that was built in the 19th century, and its beautiful architecture is also a major draw in its own right.
11. Head for the Lighthouse
The St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum is widely considered another auto-include on visitor itineraries. Built between 1871 and 1874, the lighthouse is the oldest brick building in the city that still stands today, and urban legends claim the site is haunted by several spirits. Visitors rave about heading to the top for a soaring view of the city and surrounding coastline, but be prepared to work for your reward as you’ll need to climb 219 steps to reach the summit.
While you’re in the neighborhood, it’s also worth checking out the Maritime Museum. Both the lighthouse and the museum are open year-round, with the only closures falling on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
10. Hit the Beach
St. Augustine Beach is located about five miles outside the city’s Colonial Quarter, and it’s a big hit with families. The beach features a kid-friendly splash pad, along with approximately two miles of pristine white sand and warm, crystal-clear waters. It’s rarely crowded, and the north end of the beach is crowned with the St. Johns County Ocean and Fishing Pier. This is a great place for angling enthusiasts to cast a line and try their luck.
9. Visit the Old Jail
Another supposedly haunted historic location, St. Augustine’s Old Jail was completed in the early 1890s and now serves as a fascinating tourist attraction. Designed to match the city’s existing architecture, the Old Jail is a surprisingly appealing Romanesque Revival building. It remained in active use as an incarceration facility until 1953 before opening to the public the following year.
Guided tours are available and highly recommended, with staff dressing up in authentic period garb and leading visitors on an informative and eye-opening experience.
8. Hunt for Pirate Treasure
St. Augustine and the Florida coast are rich in pirate lore, and it is perfectly captured at the popular St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum. A convincing character named Captain Mayhem greets visitors at the door, offering free guided tours. One of the tour’s main highlights is a replica pirate ship, which guests are free to explore. As you might imagine, this opportunity is a big hit with kids.
Some of the historical treasures housed in the museum include America’s oldest surviving “Wanted” poster and an authentic skull-and-crossbones “Jolly Roger” flag that dates to the 1600s. The museum isn’t overly large and can be fully explored in just a couple of hours. Yarrrr!
7. Seek the Fountain of Youth
Florida’s discoverer, Juan Ponce de Leon, is also famous for his efforts to find the fabled Fountain of Youth, a legendary pond whose waters supposedly stopped the natural aging process. According to some, he succeeded in his efforts, and the magical spring is said to be located in Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archeological Park.
In addition to its namesake spring, the Fountain of Youth Archeological Park also houses an old-style blacksmith’s studio, a replica Native American village, and a planetarium. Several dozen peacocks also roam the grounds, putting on a show with their dazzling feather displays.
6. Explore the St. Augustine Distillery
The St. Augustine Distillery is a locally owned and managed distillery that is famous for artisanal spirits. The distillery is conveniently located downtown St. Augustine in a stunning restored ice plant.
Check out the St. Augustine Distillery for yourself! The tours are free and are offered 7 days a week. During the tour, you’ll learn about their award-winning bourbon whiskey, vodka, gin, and rum and you can even have a taste for yourself (if you’re of legal drinking age, of course).
5. Explore Exotic Wildlife at the St. Augustine Wild Reserve
This isn’t your average run-of-the-mill zoo. The St. Augustine Wild Reserve was founded in 1995 to serve as an animal sanctuary, and the nonprofit organization that operates it is committed to rescuing exotic animals from life-threatening situations.
Some of the fantastic beasts you’ll find within include bears, leopards, mountain lions, and tigers. You can also see a lion that was once owned by pop star Michael Jackson. However, be sure to book your visit online before you head there, as reservations are required.
4. Head to Castillo de San Marcos
Castillo de San Marcos is America’s oldest surviving brick military fortification. Built by Spanish settlers in the latter decades of the 17th century, the fort served to safeguard St. Augustine from pirate invasions and attacks by the British, who were seeking to strengthen their foothold in North America at the time.
Britain, of course, eventually took control of the modern-day United States, and they went on to use the fort as a base for military operations during the American Revolutionary War. About a century later, the Confederates also used Castillo de San Marcos as a base of operations during the American Civil War. The site has enjoyed National Monument status since 1900.
3. Ferry to Fort Matanzas
Fort Matanzas is one of America’s most unique National Monuments. It is built completely out of concrete and seashells, and the site commemorates the spot of a major battle fought between Spanish and French colonial powers, who were vying for supremacy during the early years of North American settlement.
The fort itself dates to 1740 and rests in the midst of a 100-acre plot of marshy barrier islands that dot the Matanzas River. Left to decay for many years, Fort Matanzas was carefully restored by the United States Department of War between 1916 and 1924. Today, it is accessible only by ferry, but the trip is well worth it, particularly for history buffs. It can easily be paired with a visit to Castillo de San Marcos, which is its companion monument.
2. Check out Fort Mose Historic State Park
Fort Mose Historic State Park brings local history to life in unique ways. During colonial times, Fort Mose served as St. Augustine’s northernmost military fortification. As slavery spread throughout the developing American South, it also became an important junction on the famous Underground Railroad escape route.
Founded in 1738, Fort Mose also evolved to become the first free African settlement in the modern-day United States. The Fort Mose Historical Society occasionally stages reenactments in the park, and visitors can enjoy picnics and kayaking all year round.
1. Enjoy A Sunset Cruise
After spending the day exploring the city unwind with a relaxing Sunset Cruise with Florida Water Tours. The adult-only tour is reserved for passengers who are 21 years old and over which ensures you’ll have a relaxing adult atmosphere.
Onboard you can purchase from a great selection of beer, wine, and other non-alcoholic drinks. While you taking in the breathtaking sunset view you’ll also pass many landmarks such as the Bridge of Lions, St. Augustine Lighthouse and more.
With cobblestone streets, architectural feats, delicious pastries, bustling markets, and an atmosphere overflowing with history, it’s no wonder that Paris is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. With so many things to do and see, planning your visit to the City of Lights can seem overwhelming.
No matter where you travel to, planning an itinerary centered around your own unique interests is always the key to having a good time. That said, if you’re looking for a true Parisian experience, there are a number of tried-and-true things that deserve to be at the top of your list for things to see and do in Paris. To help give you a base upon which you can begin to build your own customized itinerary, below are four essential experiences everyone visiting Paris should have.
When you think of Paris, you likely think of its iconic Eiffel Tower. Considering it’s featured in more movies, photographs, and calendars than anyone can count, the Eiffel Tower is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Constructed by French engineer Gustave Eiffel for the World Exhibition of 1889, it was, at the time, the world’s tallest building at 312 meters. If you’re worried about heights, you’ll be happy to know that the construction of the tower is so sound that it never sways more than nine centimeters, even in strong winds.
The Eiffel Tower is most spectacular at night when the 20,000 lights lining every inch of the tower light up together in performance. These 200,000-watt light shows last five minutes and happen every hour on the hour starting at dusk and lasting until 1 a.m. In addition to the tower itself, the view from the top is a must-see. However, due to popularity and recently added security measures, if you wish to ride to the top of the Eiffel tower, you should reserve plenty of time for waiting.
Rue des Martyrs
There are so many famous tourist attractions to check out in Paris that many of the smaller, more authentic experiences can be easily overlooked. One such experience is wandering Paris’s old market streets. Namely Rue des Martyrs. The street is an old historic route in the Pigalle district leading up to the village of Montmartre. Plus, it’s home to a neighborhood market that’s been in operation for over 200 years. Filling this market is around 200 shops and restaurants.
For foodies, it’s heaven. No matter your preferences, you’re bound to find something that lights up your palette. In fact, there are plenty of options for fruit, fish, pastries, chocolate, and gourmet cafés. If fashion takes priority, you can spend your time hopping from one chic boutique to another.
There is your standard museum experience, then there is the Louvre. As the world’s largest art museum, the Louvre has 675,000 square feet filled with works from nearly every corner and civilization of the world. The museum is as interesting for history enthusiasts as it is for art connoisseurs. The three most famous and most popular pieces inside the museum are:
The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci;
Venus de Milo by Alexandros of Antioch, and;
Winged Victory of Samothrace.
To get the most out of your visit to the Louvre, you’re better off prioritizing pieces that actually interest you instead of going straight to the crowd-pleasers. Or, for a truly unique experience, you can go in with no plan at all. With over 35,000 pieces scattered throughout the Louvre, you’re bound to find something that interests you no matter where you go.
Notre-Dame de Paris
If you grew up watching Disney movies, you likely came across The Hunchback of Notre Dame at some point in your childhood. While there may not be a hunchback currently inhabiting it, the Cathedral of Notre-Dame is certainly a real place and a must-see during your visit to Paris. The Cathedral of Notre-Dame’s real history is worth a feature film in itself. Although its foundation was first laid in 1163, it wasn’t until 170 years later that its design was actually fully constructed. Then, after nearly being destroyed during the French Revolution, the Cathedral was restored from 1841 to 1864 by architect Viollet-le-Duc.
On April 15, 2019, a fire caused severe damage to the Cathedral, especially the roof and spire. As a result, the Cathedral and its immediate surroundings are closed to the public. Despite the closure for reconstruction, tourists are encouraged to visit areas closeby to take pictures. So don’t let this unfortunate circumstance keep you from seeing this masterful piece of architecture.
Founded as Charles Town in 1670 in honor of England’s King Charles II, Charleston was one of the most important cities in the United States during its early history and colonial era. Today, it is known for its rich and fascinating historical heritage, welcoming locals, fantastic beaches, and beautiful architectural treasures. Charleston has won a long list of accolades from major travel publications as an American must-see gem. Travel + Leisure magazine rated it as the “World’s Best City” in 2016, and Charleston has also earned high praise and accolades from periodicals including Southern Living and Condé Nast Traveler in recent years.
There are tons of amazing things to see and do in Charleston, and these 20 suggestions are great starting points for first-time visitors:
20. Cruise Around Morris Island Lighthouse By Boat
Charleston is a wonderful city but when you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle take a boat cruise to Morris Island. The quaint uninhabited island is only accessible by boat so set sail on the Morris Island Lighthouse Eco Cruise to do some exploring.
The cruise sets sail from Bowens Island and will make its way to Morris Island. Along the way, you may even see marine life such as bottlenose dolphins and sea turtles. Once you make your way onto the island you can explore at your own pace, search for seashells, check out the historic Morris Island Lighthouse, and take in the breathtaking view.
19. Check Out Charleston’s First Distillery Since Prohibition
High Wire is Charleston’s first distillery since prohibition and would be an excellent site to see during your visit. Conveniently located in downtown Charleston, you can head to High Wire for a tour and tasting Tuesday through Saturday from 11 am to 6 pm.
The tours will provide insight into how the distilling process works as well as a glimpse into the mechanics of a small distillery. Keep in mind, guests must be 18 and older to enter the tasting room and guests must be 21 and older (with valid ID) to taste.
18. Go On A Culinary Walking Food Tour
Why waste time researching where to eat when you can hit all the hottest spots on the Downtown Charleston culinary walking food tour! This culinary walking tour will give you a taste of some of Charleston’s best locally run restaurants.
As a bonus, you’ll get to learn about the history of the city along the way. Be sure to skip your lunch because these food samples are going to fill you up!
17. Explore The City On A Sightseeing Bus Tour
Kick back and relax on the Charleston See-It-All Sightseeing Bus Tour! The comfortable climate-controlled ride allows you to see the city in a whole new way. Plus the minibusses only sit 15 passengers which means you’ll get an intimate experience.
Touring on a bus instead of on foot allows you to see more in a single outing. Additionally, the bus tours feature 5 departure times so you find a time that works best for you and your schedule.
A guide will lead you through the dark to explore the spooky tales and locations of Charleston. Among other stops, the tour also gains you after-hour access to a paranormal hot spot, the Unitarian Church Graveyard.
15. Go Dancing At The Commodore Music Club
The Commodore is a great place to go to if you’re looking for live entertainment and to go dancing. As soon as you walk into the music club you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a vintage jazz club.
The bar features preserved vintage brass and green velvet bar stools, a glossy black tiled floor, chandeliers, and velvet curtains that surround the stage. Whether you’re looking to hit the dance floor or simply looking for a place to grab a drink, a night out at The Commodore will be a night to remember. Just make sure you’re of legal drinking age!
The cruise’s maximum capacity is 15 passengers creating an intimate experience for everyone. During the cruise, the captain and crew will point out historical sites along the way. Also, feel free to bring a picnic or snack but forget the drinks because you can purchase beverages aboard.
13. Visit The Otters At The South Carolina Aquarium
The South Carolina Aquarium would be a great interactive experience for you and your family. Here you can check out the 6,000-gallon stingray tank, touch and feel several species in the touch tanks and learn about many animals native to South Carolina.
Also, don’t miss your chance to see the river otters at the South Carolina Aquarium! This is a great opportunity considering it’s very rare to spot them in the wild.
12. Explore the French Quarter
Art galleries, boutiques, historic churches, and several of the city’s architectural landmarks are clustered in the French Quarter, which is bounded by Market Street to the north, Meeting Street to the west, Broad Street to the south, and Waterfront Park to the east.
While many architectural and history walking tours will highlight this part of the city, it’s well worth exploring in more detail, particularly if you have a strong interest in Charleston’s rich and storied heritage.
11. Check out Charleston City Market
While Charleston City Market is characterized by some as a touristy cliché, it’s one of the best places in the city to experience the contemporary character of traditional Old South life. Formerly known as the Slave Market, as slaves would be sent here by their masters to buy food for their households in centuries past, Charleston City Market is an ideal place to go people-watching and find some authentic handicrafts.
One recommended option is to seek out the market’s so-called basket ladies, who perform a time-honored type of traditional basket weaving that was originally practiced in West Africa. Practitioners hand-make beautiful baskets from materials like palmetto leaves and sweetgrass, with the craft’s secrets being carefully passed down from generation to generation.
10. Hit the Beach
Folly Beach is the most popular of the city’s beaches, which offer a welcome respite of lounging and relaxation after a few busy days of sightseeing. Charleston has a humid subtropical climate, which extends beach season beyond the summer months into the late spring and early fall.
Folly Beach is about 12 miles outside of downtown Charleston, and setting it aside as a day trip during your stay in the area is usually the way to go. Interestingly, Folly Beach is where George & Ira Gershwin wrote their famous opera Porgy and Bess during the summer of 1934.
All in all, Charleston is home to dozens of museums, so if you’re particularly keen on the city’s history, it’s best to do some research before you arrive so you can learn more about the things that interest you most.
8. Cruise to Sullivan’s Island
Speaking of island ferries, you should also make room in your itinerary for Sullivan’s Island. A relatively compact 3.3 square miles, Sullivan’s Island is one of those often-overlooked hidden gems that vacationers rave about after visiting.
The island is home to a charming and welcoming town, which is brimming with beachfront eateries and one-of-a-kind boutiques. A popular option is to plan your day around having lunch on Sullivan’s Island and giving yourself an hour to explore the shops before heading back to the mainland.
7. Brush Up on Your Civil War History at Fort Sumter
Fort Sumter National Monument is forever enshrined in American history books as the place where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. Cannons that were used in the war are still nestled into the fort’s cave network, which is located on an island in Charleston Harbor.
Regular ferry service is available to transport you to Fort Sumter, and once you’re there, it’s also recommended that you spend some time exploring the island’s small but worthwhile museum to learn more about the long list of fascinating treasures still housed there.
6. Lose Yourself in Beautiful Gardens
Charleston and the surrounding area are home to some of the best-preserved plantations and gardens in the American South. Middleton Place, constructed in 1755, remains one of the city’s most enduring attractions, but there are several others that are definitely not to be missed.
Ask a Charleston local, and chances are they’ll tell you there’s no way you can leave the city before you’ve visited The Battery. Once the center of the city’s maritime economy, The Battery is now lined with a stunning collection of charming and colorful Southern mansions. As you make your way through this picturesque and unique neighborhood, it’s worth making a stop in White Point Gardens, which is located close by and contains several interesting Civil War artifacts and memorials.
A visit to The Battery is a perfect companion activity to Waterfront Park, as the park doubles as an entry point to the neighborhood.
4. Relax in Waterfront Park
Located along the banks of the Cooper River, Waterfront Park is a relative newcomer to the Charleston tourism scene, having been completed in 1990. Its shady trees and breathtaking landscaping make it the ideal place to relax and enjoy some quiet time, and it’s a popular place with the locals as well.
Pack a picnic or bring along a good book—chances are good you’ll want to stay here for a while.
3. Take a Carriage Ride
Carriage rides offer yet another tour option. Like the city’s walking tours and boat tours, carriage rides also dedicate themselves to specific sections and quarters of the city’s historic center.
Popular options explore the city’s residential architecture, downtown core, and historic areas. As with the walking tours, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from. However, these horse-drawn carriage rides add an undeniable mystique to your experience, bringing the classic elegance of the South to life like nothing else.
2. Head to Charleston Harbor
Charleston is also home to a robust selection of boat tours, most of which embark from historic Charleston Harbor. These tours explore the city’s fascinating maritime history, all while cruising past many of the city’s most iconic landmarks. On many tours, the boat’s captain doubles as your tour guide, creating a truly unique experience.
Also, keep your eyes peeled during your boat tour, as dolphins are known to frequent the waters around Charleston. You might just catch a glimpse of one!
1. Take a Walking Tour
Tour operators offer dozens of choices to visitors, so it’s best to consider your options in terms of what you’d like to see and learn about. We mentioned a few great options earlier but there are many other tours to choose from.
Some walking tours are dedicated to the city’s fascinating Civil War history, while others highlight its architectural gems. Other possibilities include church tours that delve deep into its religious history — there really is something for everyone!
With so many worthwhile places to explore in and around Texas, Dallas tends to get overshadowed by its bigger, more popular brothers like Austin and Houston. This is a shame, as Dallas is home to some of the most unique history, art, and attractions available anywhere in the world.
As proof, below are five unique things to see and do in Dallas that can’t be found anywhere else.
Site and Museum of JFK Assassination
As home to one of the most tragic events in American history, Dallas hosts lots of attractions around the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Your historic tour can start at the site of the assassination itself, Dealey Plaza. Around the plaza, you can check out such landmarks as the Texas School Book Depository, the Grassy Knoll, and Elm Street. While these landmarks might otherwise seem unspectacular, the fact that they belong to such an important piece of history gives them an air of uniqueness. Moreover, these landmarks have mostly been left unchanged, making you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
After getting your fix of the landmarks outside, you can head to the JFK assassination museum inside the former Texas School Book Depository. Opened in 1989, the museum chronicles the life, achievements, and assassination of JFK from historical, social, and cultural perspectives. You can check out more than 60,000 artifacts, including hundreds of photographs from the scene, analysis of the film of the tragic event, and a deep dive into the many conspiracy theories surrounding JFK’s assassination. You can even see the exact window that Oswald fired from.
House of Blues Dallas
Keep the good times rolling by checking out the House of Blues. The House of Blues is home to live music, original folk art, and delta-inspired cuisine. Considering it’s deeply influenced by southern tradition, the venue hosts plenty of folk- and blues-heavy musical performances. Heavily inspired by Juke Joints, the establishment has plenty of hand-painted signs and decor adorning its walls. In addition to the aesthetics and musical performances, the House of Blues serves authentic southern cuisine. This includes New Orleans jambalaya and gumbo, Lowcountry shrimp and grits, house-smoked Carolina pulled-pork barbeque, Memphis-style baby back ribs, and Delta fried chicken.
With either a group of friends, your loved ones or just by yourself, a night out to the House of Blues is an absolute staple when visiting Dallas.
If you rather not stick to one place, you can check Deep Ellum. Named after the neighborhood’s main artery Elm Street, Deep Ellum offers plenty of live music, good eats, one-off shops, and groovy bars to take a load off.
Considering it’s been an entertainment district since the 1880s if you can think of a blues legend, there’s a good chance that they’ve played at one of the many clubs and live venues at some point in the district’s history. Blind Lemon Jefferson, Leadbelly, and Bessie Smith are just a few of the iconic blues legends to lend their sounds to roaring crowds in the 1910s and 1920s. More recently, venues in Deep Ellum have hosted plenty of household names from the 90s and 2000s. For example, Trees Dallas hosted such musical acts as Nirvana, Snoop Dogg, The Flaming Lips, Death Grips, Daughter, The Wailers, Nick Jonas, and Run the Jewels. If music isn’t at the top of your priority list, you’ll be happy to know that Deep Ellum has a slew of restaurants. There are options for ramen, tacos, sushi, and southern comfort food, along with craft breweries/distilleries.
Zero Gravity Thrill Amusement Park
There are regular amusement parks. Then there’s Dallas’s Zero Gravity “Thrill Amusement Park”. Founded in 1992, the park’s single goal is to be the most extreme amusement park in the world. A quick glance at the names of these extreme thrill rides — Bungee Jump, the Nothin’ But Net, Texas Blastoff, the Skycoaster, and the Skyscraper — indicates that the park has already achieved it.
Due to the intense nature of their rides, Zero Gravity requires patrons to sign a one-page release form before getting on any of them. If that sounds off-putting, you can take some refuge in the fact that Zero Gravity claims to be incident-free in its nearly two decades of operation. If you’re looking for something more than just a mediocre roller coaster, Zero Gravity breathes new life into the traditional amusement park experience.
Dallas Arts District
No matter your interests, you’re bound to find something to tickle your fancy somewhere in the Dallas Arts District. Spanning 68 acres and 19 contiguous blocks, it’s the largest urban arts district in the United States. There are enough museums, restaurants, and theaters in the district to occupy an entire trip to Dallas. Highlights include the Dallas Museum of Art, Nasher Sculpture Center, Crow Museum of Asian Art, and AT&T Performing Arts Center. At any one time, you can find enthralling performances and shows at any one of these venues.
If you’re not sure where to start, there are plenty of walking tours available. These tours can help you get your bearings and see what’s available. Depending on when you’re visiting Dallas, you can experience one of the district’s famous Block Parties. These parties attract more than 50,000 people every year.
Everything is bigger in Texas, including its attractions. Bigger in entertainment, bigger in taste, and bigger in variety. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find a city with a wider selection of things to do and see than Houston, Texas.
To give you a peek into the fun to be had during your next visit, below are five essential things to do and see in Houston.
Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
You can’t visit Texas and not attend a rodeo. If you’re visiting Houston between late February and early March, you can join along with the hoards of hollering fans flooding NRG Stadium to cheer on daily rodeo shows. These shows include bull riding, steer wrestling, bareback riding, tie-down roping, and barrel racing. Also featured during rodeo season are livestock shows. These shows consist of livestock auctions, calf scrambles, and horse shows. Keep in mind that rodeo shows run on a tight schedule. They start at 6:45 p.m. on the weekdays and 3:45 p.m. on the weekends. Ticket prices and availability vary, so check out Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s website for the most up-to-date information.
Even if rodeos may not seem like your thing, the local spirit surrounding the event makes it well worth checking out. Plus, worst-case scenario, there are many other attractions, activities, and events surrounding the event that you can fall back on. This includes an amusement park, concerts, parades, barbecue contests, and trail rides.
Space Center Houston
To allow people to come and see the facilities behind such a monumental historic feat as the Apollo 11 Moon Landing, NASA created the Space Center Houston visitor center. You can walk through replicas of the space shuttle Independence and space station Skylab, get your hands on a rock from the moon, and even meet an astronaut.
For real space enthusiasts, there’s the option to sign up for the Level 9 tour. This tour offers an in-depth look at the behind-the-scenes operations at the Johnson Space Center. Although only a very limited 12 tickets are sold per day, this tour provides exclusive access to such things as the center’s Buoyancy Lab, the ISS Mission Control, simulation labs, and other areas off-limits to regular tours. If you choose this tour, make sure to set aside four to five hours out of your day. For a less in-depth, more convenient way to check out the Houston Space Center, sign up for a NASA’s Space Center Houston and City Sightseeing Tour. This tour includes free admission to the space center, as well as a bonus 1.5-hour open-air bus tour around Houston.
With plenty of sand to walk through, sun to soak in, and seaside Galveston restaurants and shops to explore, a quick, hour drive to the beach town of Galveston is the perfect way to spend a day. If you’re fortunate enough to visit during the warmer months, the beach is must-see. In fact, it offers shallow, turquoise water stretching out as far as the eye can see. Between dips in the water, you can take a walk to the nearby Pleasure Pier for some Instagram-worthy moments. If twiddling your thumbs on the beach doesn’t interest you, explore the town’s deep history, restaurants, shops, and other offerings. Other attractions worth checking out include the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum, the Texas Seaport Museum, the Strand Historic District, and Moody Gardens.
If you don’t have a full day to dedicate to visiting Galveston, you can just take an organized tour to the island. For instance, the Houston Sightseeing Tour and Galveston Day Trip tour. It comes with a 90-minute double-decker bus tour of main attractions around Houston, as well as transportation to and from Galveston.
If trails, open sky, and plenty of open space sound like a good time to you, then a visit to Buffalo Bayou is a must. Founded in 1986, the Buffalo Bayou Partnership (BBP) has since implemented more than $200 million in improvements for the redevelopment and stewardship of the waterfront. They have spearheaded award-winning capital projects, protected land for future parks and green space, constructed hike and bike trails, and operated comprehensive clean-up and maintenance programs.
In 2015, BBP completed the $58 million Buffalo Bayou Park project. This 160-acres of green space lies west of downtown Houston. It includes:
Hike and bike trails;
Paddle craft and bike rentals;
The go-to dog park in the city;
A creative nature play area;
Two visitor centers and;
Gathering places for visitors to picnic, relax, and enjoy outdoor activities.
Together, these different activities, attractions, tours, and programs attract tens of thousands of visitors each year.
Original Ninfa’s on Navigation
If you had the chance to eat in a restaurant that was created when Texas was still part of Mexico, would you do it? Of course, you would!
Opened in 1973 — when Texas was in fact still part of Mexico — Original Ninfa’s offers a truly unique dining experience. While the authentic decor and atmosphere may be what first pull you in, the food itself is what will make you ultimately stay. From the stiff and delicious margaritas, to the colorful chile con queso, to the perfectly charred fajitas, you’re bound to be delighted no matter what you order from the menu. While Original Ninfa’s on Navigation was sold to new ownership in 2005 after the passing of creator Mama Ninfa in 2001, it still retains the original flavors, atmosphere, and heritage that made it famous in the first place.
Ninfa’s Uptown got their shades and heaters in the nick of time for Game 3!! Join us tonight on the patio and in the bar area to watch the @astros#TakeItBack with Happy Hour cocktails and taco specials running throughout the entire game! ?⚾️? pic.twitter.com/ZLvf81C6aL
Whether you’re looking to plan your family’s next adventure, a getaway with friends, or simply a solo exploration trip, Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada offers sights, activities, and experiences that are hard to find anywhere else. With options for hiking, skiing, snowboarding, guided lake tours, whitewater rafting, and eating, you’re bound to find something to tickle your fancy regardless of when you visit.
To help you beef up your itinerary for your next visit to Banff, below are five essential things to see and do in Banff.
One of the most popular things to do in Banff is taking the eight-minute enclosed gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain. Atop the mountain’s 7,500-foot tall peak, you can explore the many interactive exhibits, gift shops, and restaurants. Plus, there’s a 360-degree observational deck with breathtaking views of Banff and the Bow River Valley. Although the changing scenery seen while riding the gondola is certainly nothing to scoff at, the best and most unique view available of Banff is atop the summit.
To avoid the crowds and cost associated with riding the gondola, you can hike the two hours to the top of Sulphur Mountain. Just know that as you get closer to the top, the boardwalk you follow to the summit can get very icy. So, it’s important to wear the right footwear.
At 17 miles long, Lake Minnewanka is the largest lake in Banff National Park. Fed by the Cascade River, it’s located just three miles northeast of Banff’s town. The lake got its name from the Stoney Nakoda First Nations people, who would hunt and camp along its shores. They called the lake “Minn-waki” — or “Lake of the Spirits” — because they believed the lake contained spirits. Upon seeing the pristine beauty of the lake, you’ll likely find it hard to argue with them.
In and around Lake Minnewanka, there are plenty of things to do to fill your time. You can hike around the many hiking trails that lead to Steward Canyon and Cascade River, go scuba diving in the lake, or take in the sights on one of the many lake cruises available. To save some money without sacrificing any of the beauty, you can drive along the Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive. This is a large loop that goes right along the southwestern edge of the lake before circling back towards Banff.
Another iconic lake near Banff is Lake Louise. Getting its name from Queen Victoria‘s fourth daughter, Lake Louise is just 40 minutes from Banff by car and boasts the highest elevation of any community in Canada peaking at 5,200 feet. The aqua-colored lake and its iconic Victoria Glacier are a staple among many calendars and screensavers. However, the lake’s real beauty can only be experienced in person.
If taking Highway 1A when traveling between Lake Louise and Banff, there are plenty of opportunities to pull over and snap photos. Alternatively, you can take in the beauty of the lake up-close by hiking the Lake Louise Lakeshore Trail. This trail runs along the northwest side of the lake before meeting up with other trails farther along. When planning your trip to Lake Louise, be sure not to mistake the lake itself with the nearby town of the same name.
Only a 30-minute drive from Banff, Sunshine Village is often the first resort to open up in Canada every winter and one of the last to close. In fact, its ski season lasts from November all the way until May. Sunshine Village does not take its position as a popular ski destination lightly. As such, they provide 3000 world-class skiable acres, 12 chair lifts, and all sorts of different terrain to suit skiers and snowboarders of all levels. Because of this, Sunshine Village is particularly great for families. After you’re done skiing, you can warm up in the rustic lodge with a hot drink in the evening among friends and family.
If you happen to be visiting after the ski season is over, you can take advantage of the far less expensive but equally as enjoyable hiking opportunities among the Sunshine Meadows. Hiking around is a far more affordable way — free, in most cases — to experience the beautiful nature of Banff without breaking the bank.
If skiing, snowboarding, hiking, or scuba diving don’t get your heart racing, then you can up the game by taking advantage of the many whitewater rafting opportunities in and around Banff. If you’re looking to dip your toes in the water, then start off with some of the more mellow options, such as those available on the Kananaskis River. If you want something more than a lazy river ride but not too crazy, the more intermediate route in Horseshoe Canyon might be more up your alley.
If you’re looking for pure adrenaline, check out Banff’s most famous whitewater rafting destination, Kicking Horse River. A short distance from town, the river is considered to have some of the best rafting opportunities in all of Canada. Be prepared to go over waterfalls and squeeze between narrow gorges as you zip down the river’s class-five rapids. Regardless of the difficulty you choose, whitewater rafting is a great way to experience scenic parts of Banff that are otherwise difficult to access.
Outside of a few hot spots, the province of Ontario as a whole doesn’t get the credit it deserves. Offering the perfect combination of city life and rural getaway, Ontario offers something for all interests and preferences.
If you’re itching for your next getaway, Ontario deserves to be at the top of your list for destinations to explore. To prove it, here are five wide-ranging things to see and do in Ontario.
A good place to start is Canada’s capital city, Ottawa.
Walking through Ottawa, you can’t help but feel like you’re in a different time. Unlike other, more boisterous cities in Ontario like Toronto, Ottawa’s Gothic revival architecture, plentiful brick roads, and political presence give it a less flashy, more cultured atmosphere. If you’re a history or political buff, you can tour the grounds of the Parliament buildings and snap a photo with the iconic burning fire. If you want to start and end your day inundated with Ottawa’s history, you can even stay at the Château Laurier across the street from the Parliament buildings. After touring the grounds, you can continue your trek down history lane at one of the museums and galleries scattered around Ottawa, such as the National Gallery of Canada, Canada Aviation and Space Museum, and the Royal Canadian Mint. Or, if aimlessly strolling the streets is more your thing, Ottawa’s pedestrian-friendly city plan makes walking or biking anywhere a breeze. That said, be sure to take some time for the many food stalls, snacks, and artisanal gifts at Byward Market. If you go during the winter, you can end the day skating across the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the world’s largest skating rink.
If Ottawa can be described as Ontario’s red wine, Toronto can be described as Ontario’s vodka soda. Packed streets, metropolitan districts, multicultural neighborhoods, and a bumping nightlife characterize the Toronto experience.
As a start, pay a visit to Toronto’s iconic CN Tower. It’s the tallest building in Toronto by far and the ninth tallest free-standing structure in the world. The CN Tower stands 553.3 meters high and offers a restaurant and breathtaking views at the top. After the CN Tower, take a stroll down to Toronto’s Chinatown, beginning at the intersection of Spadina Avenue and College Street. It offers plenty of knick-knack shops, authentic cuisine, street buskers, and Chinese medicine stands. Just a few minutes away from Chinatown by foot is Kensington Market. As Toronto’s hipster paradise, you can grab a bite at one of the countless hole-in-the-wall lunch spots, walk around with a specialty-brewed coffee, and check out a vintage clothing store or two. At night, you can chill out or dance the night away at one of the many patio bars/clubs in the area.
3. Killarney Provincial Park
If being surrounded by nature is more your thing, paying an extended visit to Killarney Provincial Park is a must. Considered the crown jewel among Ontario’s many parks, Killarney consists of over 50 lakes and a vast network of short trails. Plus, it’s the inspiration behind many of the works created by the world-famous group of landscape painters known as The Group of Seven. In fact, the park’s 80km La Cloche Silhouette Trail is named after Franklin Carmichael’s legendary painting of the range. While the trail offers a thorough exploration of the park, it’s only recommended for more experienced hikers. Other than hiking, Killarney is considered a great place to kayak in the whole world. This is due to the dozens of lakes dotting the park.
Depending on your itinerary, you can spend anywhere from days to weeks exploring everything Killarney has to offer.
4. Wine Country
A less physical, equally as enjoyable way to explore Ontario’s vast nature is a road trip through its wine country. As Canada’s top-producing province, Ontario is home to more than 180 wineries. Many of which offer tastings, tours, vineyard walks, and other wine-related activities. With everything on offer, you can easily plan an entire Ontario trip around just its wineries.
Arguably the most renowned wine region in Ontario is the Niagara Region. At approximately the same latitude as Languedoc and Provence in France, the Niagara region successfully grows many of the same grape varietals as those grown in these more world-renowned wine-growing regions. For something unique to the area, try Niagara’s sweeter ice wines. Due to the colder weather that is synonymous with Canada, Niagara has become famous for its sweeter ice wines and late harvest wines made from grapes that have frozen on the vine. Besides Niagara, other notable wine regions to check out include Prince Edward County and Pelee Island on Lake Erie. To see all possible options and route a road trip that best fits your needs, you can also use a Wine Route Planner.
5. Niagara Falls
At some point in your life, you’ve likely at least seen pictures of the magnificent geological feat that is Niagara Falls. While it consists of three different waterfalls between the U.S. and Canada, the largest of the three, Horseshoe Falls, is found on the Canadian side of the Falls. Less than a two-hour drive from Toronto, a visit to Niagara Falls, which also consists of plenty of tourist attractions, hotels, and restaurants, is the perfect day trip. Of course, the first stop when visiting should be the Falls themselves. Viewing the Falls in all of their glory is completely free from the main walkway. For a closer look, you can pay to get a boat tour that gets close to going underneath the flowing water. Just be prepared to get soaked. While the Falls are beautiful during the day time, be sure to visit them at night to see the water illuminated by bright lights. If you’re lucky, you might be able to catch a fireworks show over the horizon.
After getting your fix of the Falls, you can head up the nearby Clifton Hill. While a lot of the attractions on the street are very touristy and cost a pretty penny, they are worth it just for the views. Neon signs, karaoke bars, window displays of life-size celeb wax figures, and haunted houses are just some of the things you can expect on your trek up Clifton Hill. Plus, if you get tired at any point, you can stop at Fudge Factory or Sweet Jesus to refuel with some delicious snacks.
Montreal is the perfect combination of old, new, Western, and European. With this melting-pot nature comes a burst of different types of sights, activities, cuisines, and attractions to check out.
With so many options, it can be tough to narrow down an itinerary when visiting a place like Montreal. To give you a starting point, here are eight essential things to see and do the next time you’re in Montreal.
St. Viateur Bagel Shop
If you’re looking for bagels that match — if not surpass — those found in New York, look no further than St. Viateur Bagel Shop.
Just from the shop’s steam-filled windows and never-ending line of loyal customers, you know the quality you can expect from St. Viateur. Cooked in a woodfire oven and hand-shaped in front of you, it’s hard not to grab a few extra bagels for the road. Add a dollop of creme fraiche, Montreal’s upgraded version of traditional creme cheese, onto the quality bagels and a stop at St. Viateur is the perfect way to start your day.
Jutting out from the city is Montreal’s 764-foot mountain, Mount Royal. There are different ways to get to the top depending on how long you want to spend hiking and how physically fit you are. There are easier, more direct paths lasting no more than 20 minutes or there are longer paths zig-zagging around the large wooded forest blanketing Mount Royal that can easily take a couple hours of hiking.
At the top of the mountain is a large observatory with panoramic views of the city and forest below. For those more musically inclined, there’s also a piano at the summit that’s free for anyone to play. During the winter, you can snowshoe, cross-country ski, toboggan, and snow tube.
Sunday Morning Drum Circle
If you’re visiting Montreal during the summer, you can head down to the giant drum circle around the George-Etienne Cartier statue at the base of Mount Royal.
While no one really knows its origin, the drum circle — which includes drummers, DJs, and other performers — has been around since the 1860s. While the festivities typically start in the late morning, they actually continue all the way until sunset. This makes it the perfect start, middle, or end to your day.
Almost as iconic as Mount Royal is Montreal’s Schwartz Deli. In operation since 1928, Schwartz Deli has become famous around the world for its delicious smoked meat menu. As a result, it’s going to be busy no matter when you go. You can certainly eat inside the deli, but with a constant rotation of customers and orders coming in and going out, you’re probably better off grabbing your food to go and eat it somewhere else.
Regardless, carving out some time to experience Schwartz Deli is a Montreal-must.
With so many beautiful parks to choose from, a picnic with friends, loved ones, or just yourself on a beautiful sunny day in Montreal is a great way to kill part or all of the day. Picnics are especially great in Montreal because you are legally allowed to sip wine or beer in public parks as long as you are picnicking.
If you don’t know where to picnic, Parc La Fontaine is especially gorgeous in late summer and early fall. You can also take a break from eating and drinking to paddleboat around one of the park’s two large ponds.
Much of Montreal’s appeal lies in the preservation of its history. When walking around Old Montreal — a small, cobblestone corner of the city by the St. Lawrence River — you’re surrounded by a mix of early European and North American history and architecture.
While there are plenty of shops and restaurants to check out, many of them of quite touristy. Your time is better spent aimlessly walking or biking around random cobblestone streets taking in the sights. When you’re done exploring, you can either go check out the nearby Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal, a towering 200-foot tall basilica dating back hundreds of years, or the Old Port for a beautiful view of the St. Lawrence River.
Gibeau Orange Julep
A roadside fast food restaurant with a huge three-story orange ball on top of it may not sound like a must-see. However, Gibeau Orange Julep is a Montreal staple. Although it was founded in 1932, everything from the packaging of the food to the outfits of the servers is more reminiscent of the 1950s. Because of this, Gibeau Orange Julep seriously feels like a step back in time. You can live out your own high school rom-com movie with a burger, fries, and famous Gibeau Orange Julep drink on one of the picnic benches outside of the restaurant.
Keep in mind that the restaurant is a little out of the way from most other Montreal attractions. As such, it’s best to make it the last stop before heading back to your hotel.
Sometimes referred to as the Europe of Canada, Montreal is, of course, known for its nightlife. For those looking to dance or explore the bar scene, a trip to Le Village Gai — Montreal’s world-famous LGBTQ district — is a must. Mingling with drag queens at Cabaret Mado or dancing until morning at Stereo are just a couple of ways to experience the Village’s nightlife.
After you’re done dancing, or if you just need to refuel, you can walk 20 feet in any direction and indulge in some poutine or Portuguese food. If you’re not looking for just any old poutine or Portuguese food and want something more established, some famous spots to check out are La Banquise in the Plateau for poutine and Coco Rico on St. Laurent Boulevard for Portuguese food. Be warned: expect to be waiting around for a while at either of these spots, especially later in the night.