Guidebook to America Must-Sees – WIF Travel

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 Must-Visit

Tourist Attractions

in the United States

For all intents and purposes, the United States can almost be considered an entire continent in itself. This means that a person from another country can’t come, visit for several days or a week, and say that he or she has seen what the entire US is all about. But there are several landmarks that every traveler needs to see before they can even begin to consider checking the US off of their travel bucket list. Even though there are plenty to choose from, and these are presented in no particular order, here are 10 must-visit tourist attractions in America.

10. The Statue of Liberty

As far as famous American national monuments go, the Statue of Liberty is probably the most easily recognizable of them all. Officially known as Liberty Enlightening the World, it was a gift from the French to the American people in 1886 – celebrating the centenary of American Independence. It stands at a total of 305 feet tall, of which 151 feet is the copper statue itself, while the rest is comprised of the pedestal and foundation. Designed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, the statue is in a neoclassical style with Art Nouveau elements, and is a representation of Libertas, the Roman goddess of liberty and personal freedom. Gustave Eiffel was responsible for the framework, while the pedestal was designed by Richard Morris Hunt, a prominent American architect.

While the statue’s construction and shipment were paid for by the French, the building of the pedestal was left to the Americans. Nevertheless, the whole project was under threat when the US government wasn’t able to raise sufficient funds. Luckily, Joseph Pulitzer, publisher of the New York World newspaper, organized a drive to raise $100,000 (roughly $2.3 million today) from readers across the country by pledging to print the name of every contributor, regardless of the sum given – and the construction was finally finished. The site was chosen on Bedloe’s Island, now called Liberty Island, in New York Harbor, and the statue was aligned to face towards the southeast, thus greeting ships entering from the Atlantic Ocean.

In 2016, the Statue of Liberty was able to draw in roughly 4.5 million tourists – a number higher than in previous years. Still, this is a relatively small number compared to other famous NYC landmarks such as Central Park or Times Square, which both draw nearly 40 million visitors annually.

9. Yellowstone National Park

Covering an area of almost 3,500 square miles, mostly in Wyoming,Yellowstone National Park is one of the most stunning and unique national parks in the world. It’s home to a wide variety of wildlife (many of them endangered), vast natural forests, numerous waterfalls, roughly half of the world’s geothermal features, and two thirds of the planet’s geysers (more than 300, the most famous being Old Faithful). The park is also one of the largest intact ecosystems in the northern temperate regions of the Earth. When it was first discovered back in 1869, explorers David E. Folsom and Charles W. Cook described Yellowstone Lake as “a scene of transcendental beauty.” The two later wrote an account about their expedition, but had trouble in selling it since most magazine editors found the stories to be too far-fetched. Nevertheless, Yellowstone became the first ever national park in the world in 1872, even before the states it’s in were… well, States.

Another interesting fact about Yellowstone, and the reason why it is home to so many geological features, is because it sits right on top of one of the largest active supervolcanoes in the world. In fact, much of the park itself is the actual caldera of this huge volcano. There is so much magma below the surface that it’s estimated it could fill up the Grand Canyon to the brim 11 times over. Last time Yellowstone erupted was roughly 640,000 years ago, with a force 2,500 times greater than the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. Luckily, however, an eruption isn’t believed to be happening anytime soon, even though the ground has bulged up by about 10 inches over a seven-year time frame. In 2016, the park drew in roughly 4.2 million visitors, making it among the most visited natural attractions in the country.

8. Niagara Falls

Now, even though they aren’t the tallest waterfalls, Niagara Falls is definitely a sight worth seeing. Located at the border between Canada (Ontario) and the United States (New York), Niagara Falls is the largest waterfall in terms of volume in the US. Over 3,160 tons of water flow over the falls every second, at a speed of 32 feet per second. There are three waterfalls in total here. The American and Bridal Veil Falls are located on the American side of the border, and are separated by Luna Island. Some 75,750 gallons of water flow through these two waterfalls every second. The larger Horseshoe Falls is shared by both Canada and the US, and with the length of the brink at 2,600 feet, this waterfall sees over 600,000 gallons of water falling every second from a height of 167 feet. Some 12,000 years ago, at the end of the last Ice Age, the falls extended some seven miles down the river. But over time, the brink has steadily eroded away, bringing it to its current location.

Four of the five Great Lakes drain their waters through Niagara Falls before emptying into Lake Ontario. There are two hydroelectric plants that draw water into their reservoirs prior to the falls. Depending on the time of day and the season, the volume of water varies considerably. The best time to visit is during the day, in summertime, when the volume is greatest. People can admire the falls from both sides of the border, by making use of the many observation decks, walkways, towers, as well as a boat tour that takes you to the heavy mists of the falls themselves. Estimates point to roughly 8 or 9 million people visiting Niagara Falls every year, but local business aren’t convinced and believe the real number to be closer to 3 million.

7. The Las Vegas Strip

Sometimes called Sin City, Las Vegas is a must-see for every tourist visiting the US. The city saw its beginning with a group of Mormons that established a fort there in 1855. The settlement eventually failed, but the fort was taken over Octavius D. Gass, an American businessman and politician. Later, in 1905, Las Vegas was connected to the Union Pacific Railroad, and in 1931 the construction on Hoover Dam began. To help draw in workers for the construction project, as well as to help them pass the time, casinos and showgirl venues opened up in Las Vegas’ only paved road, Fremont Street. In 1941, the first official casino was built just outside of the city’s limits, the El Rancho Vegas resort – and the famed Las Vegas Strip began to take shape. Notorious gangster Bugsy Siegel built the Flamingo in 1946 and during the 1950s and ’60s, other mob-backed casinos began to appear, like the Sahara, the Riviera, the Sands, and the New Frontier.

What many don’t know is that the Strip is not inside Las Vegas proper. It stretches for 4.2 miles south of the city and passes through the unincorporated towns of Paradise and Winchester. The famed Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign was built back in 1959, exactly 4.5 miles south the actual city limits. Over 39 million people visited the Las Vegas Strip in 2017. Surveys also show that most US travelers marked Vegas as their desired destination for 2018. The Strip has also been designated as an American Scenic Byway, and the only one that’s enjoyable at night. It has one of the highest concentrations of neon lights in the world, and is packed with over 75 years of extravagance, history, and charm.

6. Independence National Historical Park

When it comes to history, Philadelphia is the city every tourist needs to see. Known as the birthplace of American democracy, the Independence National Historical Park, located in Philadelphia’s historic center, is said to be “America’s most historic square mile.”  The park is home to the Liberty Bell Center, Congress Hall, the New Hall Military Museum, the Bishop White House, the Graff House, the Franklin Court, the First Bank of the United States, and Independence Hall, among other historically-important buildings. The centerpiece of the park is Independence Hall, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This is where both the Declaration of Independence (1776) and the Constitution of the United States (1787) were debated and signed.

Among the many other buildings in the park, there is also the City Tavern. John Adams, the 2nd President of the United States, called it the most genteel tavern in America” after he was taken there by the citizens of the city when he arrived to Philadelphia to attend the First Continental Congress in August 1774. This history-packed hot spot draws in roughly 5 million visitors every year, and is a perfect place to immerse yourself in America’s Revolution against the British and the founding of the nation itself.

5. Hawaii’s Volcanoes

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park draws in roughly 1.5 million visitors every year. Located on the island of Hawaii, this national park holds two of the world’s most active and easily accessible volcanoes – Mauna Loa and Kilauea. Mauna Loa is the largest volcano on Earth in terms of volume and area covered – 19,999 cubic miles. The summit stands at 13,680 feet above sea level, and roughly 56,000 feet from the depressed sea floor. This makes it more than 27,000 feet higher than Mount Everest, and the second largest sea mountain in the world after Mauna Kea, which is on the same island and only 110 feet higher.

But despite these record-breaking figures, Kilauea is the more impressive, and rightfully so. As the youngest volcano on the island, Kilauea has not stopped erupting since 1983, continuously spewing out lava over the landscape and creating numerous fountains and rivers of molten rock. Unlike continental volcanoes, which usually erupt in a devastating explosion, these island volcanoes are far less gaseous and more fluid, thus making them much safer to admire from a safe distance. And besides the volcanoes themselves, the park also offers a glimpse into the native flora and fauna of the isolated island, as well as the cultural heritage of the people who’ve called it home for hundreds (and hundreds) of years.

4. The Redwood Forests of Northern California

For the many interesting things California has to offer, almost nothing is more humbling and awe-inspiring than the redwood forests located in the northern parts of the state. But unlike many of the other entries on this list, these forests and the four national and state parks they encapsulate receive a relatively small number of annual visitors – almost 1.5 million in total. Nevertheless, these huge trees have been standing since before the Roman Empire. The Redwood National Park is also home to Hyperion, the world’s largest living tree that we currently know about. Discovered only in 2006, this humongous coast redwood is 379.7 feet tall, or 74 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty. Hyperion is also a relatively young tree – roughly 600 years old (or about 20 in human years). This means that it’s still growing. And it’s not the only one to reach this gargantuan size. Other similarly-tall coast redwoods have been discovered in the area in recent years.

Thanks to their close proximity to the Pacific Ocean, these forests have a relatively stable and pleasant climate all year round. Nevertheless, peak tourist season is during the summer and early fall months, from June to September. Now, besides the redwood forests themselves, the region has other natural wonders to offer. Over 40 mammal species call this area their home, like bobcats, coyotes, black-tailed deer, mountain lions, and black bears, as well as over 400 bird species. There are also several points that overlook the ocean and which are prime locations for spotting migrating gray whales, especially between the months of December and April.

3. Mesa Verde National Park

Another great place to experience American history is to look into the heritage of the Native Americans. The Mesa Verde National Park, located in the state of Colorado, has a total area of 52,485 acres and houses over 5,000 sites, as well as over 600 cliff dwellings. The whole area was inhabited at least as early as 7500 BC by a group of nomadic people known as the Foothill-mountain paleoindian complex. Then, in around 1000 BC, a new culture emerged in the region, the Basket makers. They were then followed by the Pueblo Culture in around 750 AD, and flourished in the region up until the end of the 13th century when they were finally driven out by social and environmental instability. It was during their last 150 or so years in the area that they built the many cliff dwellings that the park is most famous for.

One of the largest and best preserved sites here is the Cliff Palace – which is also the largest cave dwelling in the whole of North America. This settlement once contained 150 rooms and 23 kivas (special rooms used for religious rituals and political meetings). At its height, Cliff Palace was able to house over 100 people – something which doesn’t sound like much, but given its location and the fact that most other cliff dwellings contain only one to five rooms, that’s definitely a lot. Based on its size, the Cliff Palace is believed to have held an important social and administrative significance for the Puebloans before they were forced out of the area altogether. Every year, over half a million people visit the park and admire these unique structural marvels of pre-Colombian America.

2. The Grand Canyon

No list of this kind could ever be complete without the Grand Canyon. It’s nearly impossible for someone to visit this incredible geological feature and not stand in awe at its sheer size. Anyone with any sense of wonder about the world cannot help but feel a little overwhelmed by the power of nature presented here. For over 6 million years, the Colorado River and its tributaries have carved their way through the rock, deepening and widening the canyon to its current proportions. Today, the Grand Canyon measures some 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep, exposing nearly 2 billion years of geological history in its sides.

Native Americans have been living in the area for thousands of years, even building settlements within it and in its many caves. The first Europeans to see it were the Spanish during the 1540s. The first pioneers here were prospectors looking to mine copper during the 1880s, but they soon realized that tourism was a better alternative. In its first year after becoming a national park in 1919, the Grand Canyon received roughly 44,000 visitors. In 2016, than number was closer to 6 million people.    

1. Route 66

Established back in 1926, US Route 66 was the Main Street of America. Also known as the Will Rogers Highway or the Mother Road, Route 66 used to connect Chicago, Illinois and Santa Monica, California. Covering a total of 2,448 miles, this road passed through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, as well as the two other states mentioned, and was the main path used by the people who migrated west, especially during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Route 66 also supported a thriving economy for the communities it passed through, and harbored much of the country’s distinct style. Among these we have the iconic American gas stations, motels, bars, diners, entertainment venues, and much more.

But as all good things inevitably come to an end, so did Route 66. With the arrival of the new Interstate Highway System, much of the historic route was being bypassed. By 1985, the entire route was replaced. Nevertheless, conservation efforts since then have revived certain portions of the route. Parts of it have also been included in America’s Scenic Byways project, and considered to be an All-American Road. In more recent years, a preservation program has been initiated, aiming to salvage and restore much of the route and its landmarks to their former glory. In more ways than one, Route 66 is a better alternative to capturing real America than taking a stroll through Manhattan or down Hollywood Boulevard.


Guidebook to America Must-Sees

– WIF Travel

 

It’s Party Time – WIF Travel

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Travel the world for 10 cents on the dollar

The Best Party Destinations

in the World

You wake up covered in god knows what, on a couch you’ve never seen before in your life. The sun is shining brightly into your eyes with an unmatched, blinding intensity. You can’t remember what happened last night, or how you got to where you are this morning. That’s probably because you attended one of the best parties ever. Want to get an idea about where you can find these epic bashes? They’re all over the world, and we’re happy to tell you.

10. El Tunco, El Salvador

eltunco

Many people have never heard of El Tunco, but rest assured, when sun starts to set this small Salvadoran coastal town knows how to party. Backpackers, surfers, and locals all come together every afternoon on the beach to party as they watch one of the most beautiful sunsets imaginable.  The beach gets quite lively as the sun gets closer to setting. Many different types of music can be heard and any kind of alcohol imaginable is sold along the beach to make for a great time.

As night time begins everyone makes their way to the many bars located along the main strip of the town. What makes this town so fun to party in is the unity of the people.  El Tunco feels as though it is an extended family that has gotten together for a family reunion. To top it off beers only cost about a dollar and mixed drinks only two. If you get the drunk munchies El Tunco has some great little restaurants that make pupusas and other traditional Salvadoran foods until the bars close.

9. Mardi Gras (New Orleans, USA)

mardigras

This annual festival is celebrated on Fat Tuesday and has the reputation of being one of the most out of control parties in the world. Alcohol is being consumed in the streets, girls are flashing their breasts for beads, and people are dressed up in crazy costumes. Mardi Gras is often referred to as the “Greatest Free Show On Earth,” because of the abundant free parades and constant circus atmosphere. Every Mardi Gras parade Krewe has its own theme, with some of them being in existence for decades.

The locals of New Orleans absolutely love their celebration. The city goes as far as shutting down streets to ensure the celebration goes down as a success. The celebration is so popular that experts estimated that 90%-95% of hotels in the metro area were booked with a month left before Mardi Gras started in  2015. The colors of Mardi Gras are purple, green, and gold, and are the traditional colors worn during the celebration. Purple represents justice, green is faith, and gold depicts power. If you can manage to book a hotel for this world renowned party make sure you wear the colors to fit the part.

8. Mallorca, Spain

mallorca

This Spanish island is often overlooked because of its proximity with Ibiza, a destination we’ll get to shortly. Although not as famous, Mallorca may be just as much fun as its neighboring party island.  Magaluf is the area most go to party and it’s much more of a bar scene. The bars are in a very compact area, and while the venues may be a bit on the small side the people attending are some of the craziest partiers in the world. The close proximity of the bars only enhances this night long party, ensuring everyone easy access to cheap drinks that fuel the drunken debauchery going on each night.

Something else to mention is how many diverse cultures all clash together.  There are Swedes, British, Australians, Germans, French, Americans, and every other European nationality you can imagine all partying and having fun in unison. Everyone in Mallorca partying has such a great night that the party typically doesn’t end until the sun starts to rise.  Partying during the day is not as common in Mallorca as it is many other party islands, but the beaches are gorgeous and there are occasionally some parties on yachts anchored in the coves. With cheaper airlines becoming more popular this destination can be a great party vacation on a budget.

7. Las Vegas, USA

vegas

Sin City truly deserves its place on this list due to having some of the craziest pool parties in the world.  Why go to a strip club and pay all that money when you can just go to a pool party and see girls already stripped down. When night falls pools start to clear out as party goers head back to their hotel rooms to prepare for the long night ahead. Vegas is well known for having some of the most spectacular clubs in North America. Huge DJs and artists are booked each weekend so there is always fun to be had.

Many people suggest getting bottle service to skip long waiting lines at the clubs, but if you do be prepared to spend a nice chunk of cash. What makes partying in Las Vegas stand out is that you can do whatever you want at anytime you want. You can party all day and night if you please and if you get tired of that there countless other activities for you, including getting some good old fashioned rest.  Las Vegas is an experience like no other.

6. Beirut, Lebanon

beirut

Based on history, you might not have expected this one. Beirut is a beautiful coastal city that has great parties all summer long from early afternoon until sun up the next morning. It’s common for people to grab breakfast before getting some shut eye after a hard night of partying. There are many clubs along the beach, many of which rank as some of the most stylish clubs to step foot in. Many of the big clubs in Beirut are of the rooftop variety, and light up the night all over the city. The atmosphere and music of rooftop clubs really enhances the partying and drinking each night.

One thing to note is how the people of Lebanon dress really elegantly when they go out. It’s imperative that you make sure you wear something nice when you go out at night in Beirut; otherwise you could have trouble getting into some of the top clubs. There’s a lot of fun to be had in Beirut, and the city  definitely lives up to the title “Party Capital of the Middle East.”

5. Ibiza, Spain

ibiza

Often referred to as the dance music capital of the world, Ibiza thrives during the summer months, and is definitely one of the most fun places to party.  Tourists drinking all day at clubs along the beach keep you entertained, but it is the nightclubs that really stand out.  With top notch DJ’s at all the clubs you party hard until sun up every night of the week.  What separates this island from other electronic music meccas is that every night during the summer months there are multiple world famous dj’s performing.

Ibiza is not only the electronic music capital of the world, but also holds the biggest club in the world.  The name of this club is “Privilege” and can hold around 10,000 people.  Make sure to drink heavily before going to the clubs or be prepared to spend a lot of money because Ibiza is an expensive town to go out in.  If you love electronic music and aren’t afraid to spend some money Ibiza is an unforgettable party experience.

4. Ios, Greece

ios

Ios, Greece is a tiny island located between the islands of Mykonos and Santorini. Of all the Greek islands, Ios takes the gold medal for the best partying. During the summer, tourists from all over the globe come to the island and drink from noon until the sun rises the next morning. It’s a non-stop, alcohol fueled extravaganza. During the day, everybody goes to the beaches and the booze flows freely. At night, the drunk vacationers head back to the town of Chora, where they resume their heavy drinking at hostels and bars.

Because the island is so tiny, a ferry must be taken to arrive at Ios, and even on the ferry absurd amounts of alcohol are consumed by many of the passengers before they’ve even arrived to the island. The people partying in Ios may be hammered, but easy going and extremely friendly. There are bars everywhere throughout the town, and like Mallorca, Ios is on the cheap side, so it’s a great party destination when you’re on a budget. Because Chora is situated on a massive hill, you’ll see some pretty spectacular sunsets, which is a huge bonus.

3. Carnival (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

carnival

Over a million people attend Carnival in Rio de Janeiro each year making it the largest carnival and parade in the world – basically, it’s Mardi Gras on steroids. It is a five day celebration finishing on Fat Tuesday before Lent. Carnival has lavish parades featuring dancing and beautiful exotic costumes. Many of the dancers and floats took months to prepare so when parading down the streets they are perfect. One of the more popular activities to attend is the samba competitions. Here you will witness some of the best samba dancers the world has to offer.

Obviously there is also a lot of drinking during the festival throughout the city. Street parties are pretty common and the bars and clubs are a ton of fun in Rio. This event has some of the most amazing parties showing off Brazilian culture all day and all night. Lapa is often considered the heart of nightlife in Rio, but Copacobana throws down hard as well. Rio can hold its own even when Carnival is not being celebrated, but this festival makes the city that much more enjoyable.

2. Full Moon Party (Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand)

fullmoon

As the name suggests, this party occurs for a few nights around every full moon on the Thai island Koh Pha Ngan. All night, tourists from all around the world party along the beach, sometimes with more than 20,000 people boozing and dancing the night away. Once the full moon is over, the island becomes tranquil until the next full moon is getting close. Just like much of Southeast Asia, everything from drinks to housing accommodations are very cheap and affordable.

When it comes to alcohol, you buy it typically by the bucket and it usually contains a soda, energy drink, and about eight shots worth of liquor. Two of these and you’ll probably be done for the night, especially when you’ve had a hot sun beating down on you all day. Speakers aligned on the beach blast all different types of music until the sun rises in the morning. There are people dancing, skipping rope that’s been set on fire, and skinny dipping in the ocean. Crazy to think that the full moon events started off as a couple backpackers throwing a party along the beach on the night of a full moon. Koh Phangan is another party island that has no airport, so you will need to take a ferry to attend this epic bash.

1. Spring Break (Cancun, Mexico)

cancun

Hands down, for one week of the year, the most drunk people in the world are college spring breakers  and those who decide to trek to Cancun to party with them. There are a lot of famous (or should we say infamous?) spring break destinations, but none can match Cancun. Spring breakers in Cancun are the craziest partiers in the world, drinking all day, every day during the stay. Massive amounts of alcohol are consumed, leading to some potentially regrettable decisions but unparalleled stories.

With all-inclusive resorts, students and other spring breakers can drink as much alcohol as they’d like without having to worry about spending any more cash. Free liquor aids in the party that goes on at all times, but because it gets so crowded around the bar, having a bottle of liquor in your hotel room is suggested. At night, many students take buses to the “Party Zone” that’s home to clubs and bars that are just as much fun as the resorts, and they often don’t close until the sun comes up. If you’re looking for the craziest party in the world, you can’t do much better than Cancun during spring break.

It’s Party Time

– WIF Travel