100 places to see before you die
You won't want to miss these fantastic destinations.
We've all seen those 100 things... lists. It seems like there's a new one every week or so: 100 places to see before you die, 100 books to read, movies to see, paintings to see, buildings to visit - it goes on and on. I am not what you would call a well-traveled person, but I have collected my own list of places I'd like to visit, starting with places here in the United States.
New England States
- Boston National Historical Park - Boston, Massachusetts. This park connects eight different historical sites that show Boston's role in the American Revolution, including the Paul Revere House and the Bunker Hill Monument.
- Portland Head Lighthouse - Portland, Maine. Visited by hundreds of thousands of people a year, this lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth, Maine is considered the most photographed lighthouse in North America.
- Gettysburg Battlefield - Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The battlefield is now the home of Gettysburg National Military Park and Gettysburg National Cemetery.
- Newport Cliff Walk - Newport, Rhode Island. The Cliff Walk is a designated National Recreation
Trail. It consists of 3.5 miles of walking trails that follow the beautiful shoreline.
- Independence Hall - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Independence Hall is the historic building where the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were signed. It featured prominently in the movie National Treasure.
- Smithsonian Institution - Washington, DC. The Smithsonian Institution is a complex of museums related to American history, including the National Portrait Gallery, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the National Air and Space Museum, and many, many more.
- Lincoln Memorial - Washington, DC. This memorial was built on the National Mall to honor President Abraham Lincoln. The memorial includes a large sculpture of Lincoln, and has been the location of many speeches, including Martin Luther King. Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.
- The White House - Washington, DC. The White House home of the president and the seat of the Executive Branch of the United States Government. It's many historic rooms are filled with presidential memorabilia.
- Vietnam Veterans Memorial - Washington, DC. Simply known as "The Wall," the Vietnam Veterans Memorial contains the names of the 58,256 veterans who were either killed in action or were still unaccounted for at the end of the Vietnam War.
- The Boardwalk - Atlantic City, New Jersey. The Boardwalk in Atlantic City was built as a way of keeping visitors from tracking sand into hotel lobbies. It is currently the world's longest boardwalk.
- The Statue of Liberty - New York City, New York. The Statue of Liberty is located in New York Harbor, and is one of the most enduring symbols of the United States.
- Empire State Building - New York City, New York. Built in 1931, the Empire State Building is currently the tallest building in New York City, since the World Trade Center was destroyed in 2001.
- Hershey's Chocolate World - Hershey, Pennsylvania. Who could pass up touring a world of chocolate?
- Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church&Parsonage - Montgomery, Alabama. This is the church where Martin Luther King, Jr. started his ministry and his work as the leader of the Civil Rights Movement.
- Bathhouse Row - Hot Springs, Arkansas. At Bathhouse Row, you can bathe in the natural mineral hotsprings in the Buckstaff Baths, which is the only historical bathhouse still currently in use and open to tourists.
- John F. Kennedy Space Center - Cape Canaveral, Florida. It's always been a dream of mine to watch an actual shuttle launch.
- Landmark District - Savannah, Georgia. This area is full of historic sites that evoke a feeling of the Old South.
- The French Quarter - New Orleans, Louisiana. The French Quarter is the oldest and most historic neighborhood in New Orleans, and a great place to find delicious cajun or creole food.
- The Belle of Louisville Steamboat - Louisville, Kentucky. This steamboat was originally built in 1914, and has been completely restored to her old-style glory.
- The Grand Ole Opry House - Nashville, Tennessee. This is the home of the oldest continuous radio program in the USA, and a great place to hear terrific country music.
- Shenandoah Valley - Virginia. Located between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountain ranges, the Shenandoah Valley was mentioned in John Denver's famous song, "Country Roads."
- Niagara Falls - Niagara Falls, New York. Niagara Falls used to be the destination for honeymooners. The sheer majesty of the falls will astound you.
- The Gateway Arch - St. Louis, Missouri. This arch and park complex were designed to commemorate the Louisiana Purchase, and comprise the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.
Great Plains States
- Mt. Rushmore - Keystone, South Dakota. Mt. Rushmore is American history carved into a mountainside. It displays the heads of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.
- Rocky Mountain National Park - Colorado. For breathtaking mountain views and terrific hiking trails, the Rocky Mountain National Park can't be beat.
- Glacier National Park - Montana. You can take a tour of this park on a 1930s red tourist bus, called a "jammer."
- Monument Valley - southern border of Utah. Any lover of Western movies will recognize the glorious and majestic buttes in Monument Valley.
- Frontier Days - Cheyenne, Wyoming. Visit one of the largest and best-known rodeos in the United States.
- Devils Tower National Monument - northeastern Wyoming. Have you seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind? Then you will recognize this distinctly-shaped rock formation.
- Grand Canyon - Arizona. You can hike to viewing points, or take a helicopter ride in order to view the Grand Canyon in all its glory.
- Las Vegas Strip - Las Vegas, Nevada. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, right? Whether you want to gamble, see a show, or just stay in a world-class hotel, Vegas is the right destination.
- Carlsbad Caverns National Park - Carlsbad, New Mexico. If spelunking (cave exploring) is your thing, then these huge natural caves with uniquely shaped stalactites and stalagmites are a must-see.
- Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument - southern New Mexico. These dwellings were carved out of the cliffs by people of the Mogollon culture in the late 13th and early 14th centuries.
- The Alamo - San Antonio, Texas. The site of a decisive battle in Texas's war for independence from Mexico, the most famous Alamo defenders were Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett.
- The Live Music Capitol of the World - Austin, Texas. Austin is known for its many nightclubs featuring live music: blues, country, jazz, swing, and just about every genre you can think of.
- Hollywood Boulevard - Hollywood, California. Along this boulevard are many famous landmarks: Grauman's Chinese Theater, the Hollywood Walk of Fame (with the stars of the stars!), Bob Hope Square, and the Kodak Theatre.
- Golden Gate Bridge - San Francisco, California. This suspension bridge spans the opening of San Francisco Bay onto the Pacific Ocean.
- USS Arizona Memorial - Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. This memorial was built to commemorate the Americans killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
- Powell's City of Books - Portland, Oregon. Powell's is the largest independent new and used bookstore in the world, and if you're a book-lover like I am, it's a must-see.
- The Space Needle - Seattle, Washington. The Space Needle is the ultimate symbol of Seattle, and the surrounding area includes the Pacific Science Center and many other attractions.
- Pike Place Market - Seattle, Washington. I'm a Washingtonian, and so Seattle is a favorite place to visit. Along with the Space Needle, you have to see the fish-sellers throwing their wares at Pike Place.
- Deception Pass - Whidbey Island, Washington. Located in the beautiful San Juan Islands, Deception Pass is a strait that connects Skagit Bay with the Strait of Juan de Fuca in the Puget Sound.
- Charlottetown Festival - Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Anyone who has read Anne of Green Gables (or seen the film version) will recognize Charlottetown. This musical theater festival runs from May to October.
- Christ Church Cathedral - Victoria, British Columbia. Christ Church is a beautiful Anglican cathedral in Victoria, BC.
- Chichen Itza - Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. This is a huge archeological site containing many Mayan artifacts and Mayan pyramids.
- The Beach - Cancun, Mexico. For picture postcard beautiful beaches and some great nightlife, try Cancun.
- Festival of Flowers - Medellin, Colombia. Every August, Medellin hosts the Festival of Flowers. The area is known for its orchids.
- Christ the Redeemer - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This beautiful statue was recently voted one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.
- Carnivale - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. On the other end of the spectrum from the Christ the Redeemer statue is this wild and unbelievable carnival celebrated around the same time as Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
- Incan Ruins - Macchu Picchu, Peru. Macchu Picchu was an ancient city of the Inca Empire.
- World's Southernmost City - Ushuaia, Argentina. In Ushuaia, you can see penguins without visiting Antarctica.
- Angel Falls - Canaima National Park, Venezuela. This is the world's highest free-falling, freshwater waterfall.
- The Grand Canal - Venice, Italy. What could be more romantic than a gondola ride?
- The Colosseum - Rome, Italy. The Colosseum was the site of many gladiator battles.
- St. Peter's Basilica - Vatican City, Rome, Italy. Traditionally the burial site of Saint Peter, this is the most famous church in Rome.
- The Acropolis - Athens, Greece. Home of the Parthenon and other Greek temples.
- Mount Olympus - Greece. According to myth, Mount Olympus was the home of the gods.
- Copenhagen, Denmark. See the statue of the original Little Mermaid, a tribute to Hans Christian Anderson.
- Stonehenge - Wiltshire County, England. Archaeologists believe this prehistoric monument was built around 2200 BC.
- Tower of London - London, England. Throughout history, this tower has been used as a prison, a place of execution, a treasury, and the Royal Mint. It is the current home of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.
- Big Ben - Westminster, England. The Clock Tower at the Palace of Westminster has become known as Big Ben, although technically that is the name of the bell inside the Clock Tower.
- Westminster Abbey - Westminster, England. This gothic cathedral is still in use for worship services today.
- Edinburgh Castle - Edinburgh, Scotland. This castle dates back to the Middle Ages.
- Blarney Castle - Blarney, Ireland. This is where you go to kiss the Blarney Stone.
- The Louvre - Paris, France. The Louvre is the most famous art museum in the world.
- Notre Dame Cathedral - Paris, France. Notre Dame is a gothic cathedral located on The Ile de la Cite, one of the natural islands located in the Seine River in Paris.
- Champs Elysee - Paris, France. This is one of the most beautiful and historic streets in the world.
- Arc de Triomphe - Paris, France. This arch honors those who fought for France in the Napoleonic Wars.
- Eiffel Tower - Paris, France. This French landmark is the tallest building in France, and was built for the World's Fair in 1889.
- Monte Carlo Casino - Monaco. This historic casino is the epitome of gambling establishments.
- The Cathedral of Seville - Seville, Spain. Visit in the spring to attend the Seville Fair and see some amazing flamenco dancing.
- The Rock of Gibraltar - located in Gibraltar, Spain, but property of the United Kingdom.
- The Running of the Bulls - Pamplona, Spain. This custom takes place during the Festival of San Fermin, and involves extremely crazy people running in front of bulls let loose in the city.
- Belem Tower - Lisbon, Portugal. This gothic tower was built in the early 16th century.
- Neuschwanstein Castle - Bavaria, Germany. This castle was built by King Ludwig II as an homage to the composer Richard Wagner, and looks like something right out of a Disney fairy tale.
- Salzburg, Austria - All the beautiful scenery in The Sound of Music can be found in and around Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart.
- Vienna, Austria - This city is full of beautiful, historic buildings and is located on the Blue Danube River.
- The Alps - Switzerland. The mountains are glorious, and the Alpine meadows in spring are breathtaking.
- Prague Castle - Prague, Czech Republic. This is the largest ancient castle in the world, located in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.
- Parliament Building - Budapest, Hungary. When these historic buildings are lit up at night on the banks of the Danube, it is a breathtaking sight.
- Ohrid, Republic of Macedonia - Lake Ohrid is one of the oldest lakes in Europe, and is so clear that you can see to a depth of 65 feet. Also, stop and see the St. Naum Monastery, which dates back to 905 AD.
- Optimisticeskaja (Optimists' Cave) - Ternopil District, Ukraine. This is the third longest cave system in the world, and contains 230 kilometers of mapped passageways.
- St. Basil's Cathedral - Moscow, Russia. The colorful 'onion domes' of this cathedral on the Red Square in Moscow make this building look like something out of a fairy tale.
- Kazan Cathedral - St. Petersburg, Russia. Located on Nevsky Prospekt, the most famous street in Russia.
- Hagia Sofia - Istanbul, Turkey. Once a Christian cathedral, then a Muslim mosque, this building is now a museum in the city formerly known as Constantinople.
The Middle East
- Western (or 'Wailing') Wall - Jerusalem, Israel. This is a Jewish historic site located in the Old City in Jerusalem.
- The Dome of the Rock - Jerusalem, Israel. This Islamic shrine is located on the Temple Mount, the historic location of the Jewish Temple.
- Petra archaeological site - Southwestern Jordan. This site is a city carved in stone.
- Cedars of God Forest - Lebanon. This is the last of the forests of Lebanese cedars that thrived in Bible times - King Solomon built the first Jewish temple using Lebanese cedar.
- Taj Mahal - Agra, India. This mausoleum combines architectural styles from Persia, Turkey, the Islamic Empire, and India.
- Great Wall - China. This wall stretches over 4,000 miles, and took centuries to build.
- Imperial Palace - Beijing, China. The Imperial Palace is now a museum that houses art and artifacts of the Ming and Qing dynasties.
- Sapporo Snow Festival - Sapporo, Japan. The sculptures of ice and snow at this festival are mind-boggling.
- Pyramids of Giza - Cairo, Egypt. This complex of pyramids includes the Great Pyramid, the only remaining monument of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the Great Sphinx.
- Victoria Falls National Park - northwestern Zimbabwe. This national park houses Victoria Falls, one of the largest and most beautiful waterfalls in the world. It is also the home of a variety of exotic plant and animal species in the rainforest below the falls.
- Serengeti National Park - Tanzania. If you tour this park, you can see lions, giraffes, zebras, hippos, gazelles, and other native African wildlife.
- Table Mountain National Park - Cape Town, South Africa. You can hike, go caving, or take a cable car to get the best views of Table Mountain and the surrounding area.
- Sydney Opera House - Sydney. This beautiful building is an example of Expressionist Architecture, and is one of the most famous symbols of Australia.
- Great Barrier Reef - Queensland. This is the world's largest coral reef system, and a popular destination for scuba divers.
- Moai (Easter Island Statues) - Easter Island, Polynesia. Easter Island is the home of the Easter Island statues, huge stone structures of human figures.
There you have it - my travel wish list. If you're looking for a list of 100 places to see before you die, feel free to borrow mine - or, better yet, create your own! Bon voyage.