10. Attractions



You’ve made it somewhere, but now what are you going to do? Let Travel + Leisure help you sort through attractions small and large, hyper-local and touristy.Tourism has helped create cottage industries across the world and throughout time, dating as far back as Rome’s imperial villas on Capri. There are the well-stocked pilgrimage routes embarked upon every year by people of different faiths, and the innkeepers and guidebook writers serving aristocratic Europe’s Grand Tourists in the 18th and 19th centuries.There are the boom-and-bust roadside enterprises that sprung up beside Route 66 in the 20th century and, well, all of Orlando, Florida. These ventures have produced some truly magnificent icons, such as the Colosseum, as well as many charming gimmicks, like the World’s Largest Brick. Lucky for us, there’s room enough in the world for attractions both grand and goofy.Top AttractionsWith over 91 million annual visitors, Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, a marketplace with roots stretching back to the 15th century and lit by colored glass lamps, is perhaps the most popular attraction in the world. Times Square, with roughly 50 million visitors (maybe 10 million of which are dressed as scruffy, off-brand superheroes or Sesame Street characters), is also one of the world's most popular attractions. Disney parks are a heavy hitter in this category, too, though more traditional and historical sites still dominate: Mexico City’s Zócalo, Washington, D.C.'s Union Station, Tokyo’s Meiji Jingu shrine.Tourist AttractionsSome attractions draw both locals and visitors, such as London’s West End theater district, or Paris’s Louvre. Others are more reliably designed for travelers, such as the World’s Largest Brick. Still, just because something is explicitly touristy doesn’t mean it’s not a lot of fun. There’s a reason, after all, so many people visit Disney parks every year. There’s also a reason people (albeit less in number than at Disney) visit Britt, Iowa’s, small-town Hobo Museum. These smaller tourist attractions are often just as—if not more—delightful as the large-scale ones.

2020 Olympic Games

A tradition that stretches back nearly 2,800 years and one that in its modern form has existed since 1896, the Olympic games represent some of humanity’s most dearly held ideals: meritocracy, historical continuity, transnational solidarity, peace. Travel + Leisure’s editors and contributors evaluate the smartest strategies for securing tickets to the next Olympic games and revisit past Olympic host cities for great deals and travel opportunities.The first Olympic games took place in 776 B.C.E. on the plains of Greece’s Peloponnesus. After nearly 12 centuries of games, the Christian emperor of Rome, Theodosius, banned the worship of pagan cults—including the Olympics—in 393 C.E. It would be another 15 centuries before Greek philanthropist Evangelos Zappas revived them in 1896.Traveling to the Summer and Winter OlympicsWhen looking to arrange Olympics travel—regardless of whether they are the winter games or summer games—it is imperative to book as early as possible. For the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, over 1.2 million Brazilians signed up for the first round ticket lottery within its first week alone. About 7.5 million tickets were available overall, distributed via two lotteries and then general sale, of which 70 percent were reserved for Brazilians. For residents of other countries, the remaining 30 present were divided up and sold by a single, nationally approved ticketing agency in the United States. Check what the ticket policies are at the next Olympic games far in advance and, if possible, sign up for the approved ticketing agency’s email alert system.Olympic Host CitiesIf you can’t make it to the next Olympic games, return to one of its former host cities. In recent winter Olympics locations—places such as Salt Lake City, Lake Placid, and Sapporo, Japan—visitors can ski the same world-class slopes as well as explore vibrant downtowns. In former summer Olympics locations, civic infrastructure, monuments, and public transportation often benefited from Olympic investment. Barcelona, Mexico City, Athens, and Sydney are prime examples.Whether you are looking to score tickets to the next Olympic games or to revisit a former Olympic host city, T+L has you covered. Check in again for the latest news, information, and tips.

Theater and Dance

It’s Friday night, and you’re two thousand miles from home—what to do? Tapping into the local theater scene is one of the most thrilling ways to plug into a destination. By attending a critically acclaimed theater production, you’ll also bear witness to—and unlock the secrets of—the beauty and history behind the world’s most iconic performing arts venues. From catching a show at an 18th-century opera house in Venice to hearing a symphony in a Spanish concert hall that’s earned UNESCO World Heritage Site status, you’re guaranteed an evening to remember.Travel + Leisure directs you to the highest-ranking and most innovative theater scenes. Want to know which city boasts the largest performing arts district outside Broadway? Maybe you’re after a downtown theater that showcases cutting-edge puppetry? From Chicago to Cleveland and beyond, Travel + Leisure can help you get your drama fix.Enjoy a night on the townPlanning a trip on the fly? Travel + Leisure’s extensive arts and theater coverage will keep you informed on everything from the latest Broadway buzz to grand openings and premieres around the world. With detailed advice on cultural offerings in New York, Paris, San Francisco, Berlin, and more, Travel + Leisure elevates your itinerary from humdrum to heavenly.Thanks to dedicated correspondents in every major city in the US and internationally, Travel + Leisure can diligently seek out places with vibrant theater communities and scout out the season’s upcoming cutting-edge performances. In Travel + Leisure varied and highly entertaining city features, our reporters speak to in-the-know locals as well as the playwrights, actors, and set designers behind today’s masterpieces.A dance to rememberPlanning an evening out in Milan? Looking to fill a weekend in the Big Apple? The sophistication and grace of a dance recital—ballet, modern, contemporary—attracts audiences from around the globe. In both festivals and theaters, travelers can see award-winning dance companies perform the classic stories as well as new works by up-and-coming choreographers. Get swept up in the rich set designs, gorgeous costumes, and ethereal movements of the world’s top dancers on your next culture trip.

Zoos and Aquariums

Here’s a travel goal everyone can get behind: seeing baby animals. Around the world, zoos offer travelers the chance to get up close and personal with tiny rhinos, lanky giraffes, social meerkats, and quivering newborn calves. Zoos let you not only experience these pocket-size creatures acquainting themselves with the world for the very first time, but learn about diverse eco-systems, rare and endangered species, and how these critters interact in the wild. With customizable itineraries and insider tours at all the best zoos, consider Travel + Leisure your ultimate resource for finding the cutest animals that will delight the whole family.The circle of lifeAt the world’s top zoos, you’ll run into familiar characters like elephants, polar bears, and walruses, as well as meet lesser-known species like the Thailand clouded leopard and the armadillo-like pangolin from Asia and Africa. Close to 800,000 animals reside in the zoos and aquariums of the U.S. alone, so there’s endless opportunity to watch mother gorillas wrestle with their babies or find out just how much an ostrich egg weighs.As environmental awareness spreads, eco-conscious zoos are upping their commitment to wildlife—and the planet. Leading zoos in Detroit, Vancouver, and Oregon have begun to launch commendable programs that turn organic animal waste into electricity and use alternative energy sources to power their facilities, and more are following suit.Go under the sea at an aquariumAre you fonder of the action that takes place underwater? Travel + Leisure has you covered with guides to the world’s best aquariums. Explore the rich diversity of marine life at aquariums in Columbus, Atlanta, and Baltimore, where indoor (and gloriously air-conditioned) exhibits are home to species such as whale sharks, clown fish, coral reefs, and, of course, penguins.Prefer to visit sea creatures in their natural habitats? In Hawaii, witness sea turtles hatch on the sand, or swim with tropical fish at a unique underwater sculpture museum in the Canary Islands. Travel + Leisure’s extensive network of writers and travel agents report on everything from snorkeling trips to private whale watching tours, where you can see a region’s most spectacular sea creatures flapping, swimming, and crawling at their own pace.


Sports fans will agree: when you’re traveling, nothing melts away cultural differences like joining a sea of screaming fans at a high-octane event. Often a source of national pride, sports games merge culture, entertainment, food, and history into an experience that’s fun for the whole family. From visiting key sports museums (NASCAR Hall of Fame, anyone?) to kicking off the season in a college football town, sports travel has never been easier, or more enjoyable. Travel + Leisure’s team of dedicated writers is here to help you find—even attend—the liveliest, most engaging sporting events around the globe.Visit top sporting eventsHead here for comprehensive coverage on how to enjoy the world’s biggest sporting events—with detailed information on where to stay, how to get tickets, and what to do between games. As far as international sporting events go, nothing comes close to the Olympic Games. Travel + Leisure offers in-depth reporting on hotel availability, plus useful tips on currency exchange rates, event schedules, and how to carve out time to enjoy some local cuisine.  Want to cheer on your favorite soccer star at the World Cup? From big-ticket events like the U.S. Open and the Superbowl to lesser-known regional games, our guides put you right in the heart of the action. Whether you’re touring the dugout at Chicago’s Wrigley Field, visiting the Monaco Grand Prix, or placing bets at the Kentucky Derby (incidentally, one of the most-watched sporting events), sports lovers can find trustworthy guides—even their dream itinerary—right here at Travel + Leisure.Travel like an athleteTravel + Leisure caters to traveling sports fanatics of all types with athlete-inspired trip ideas. Follow in the footsteps of Michael Phelps, Reggie Bush, and Floyd Mayweather by booking a vacation to their favorite hideaways around the world. Before you head to a sporting event, peep envy-inducing photos of the sprawling mansions and penthouses that top athletes call home. Looking to stay fit on the road? Our coverage of hotel fitness amenities will have you in top shape while you fly around the world.


If you’re looking for a refreshing dose of culture in the middle of nowhere, college towns are a safe bet. Whether located in a state capital or a small town, a college pays respects to its natural surroundings while also maintaining a built-in network of vibrant local businesses, performing arts venues, and calendars packed with parties and events.On your next road trip or family vacation, consider visiting a college campus or historic college town. Spring and fall are ideal times to go, when classes are back in session, but no matter what time of year you visit, you’ll still be able to stroll picturesque lawns, attend a football or basketball game, and stop in for a pint at a local brewpub. The best part of a college visit: no studying is required.Find the best college townsEach year, Travel + Leisure polls readers on their favorite towns across America, with an entire category devoted specifically to determining the best college towns, based on criteria like live music, dive bars, pizza, and craft beer. Travelers to these editor-approved college towns will find a healthy selection of independent shops (especially book stores) as well as world-class art museums, concert halls, and libraries that are so distractingly beautiful, it’s a wonder students get any work done at all.For travelers, a bustling college or university campus can provide unique insight into a destination. Head to a place like Santa Cruz for some first-rate surfing, or sample aromatic brews in the relaxed coffee shops of Syracuse, New York. Craving some Art Deco architecture? Asheville, North Carolina, is your spot. We’ve got adventure junkies covered, too: from kayaking in northern Vermont to biking in the Rockies, outdoor activities abound at top colleges and universities across the country.Book a college hotelBoth urban and rural colleges are making it easier than ever for friends and family to visit campus. For instance, new millennial-friendly hotel brands are catering exclusively to college towns in Georgia, North Carolina, Arizona, and more. What makes them special? Affordable rates, free Wi-Fi, and tasteful academic-inspired touches like framed chalkboards and brick-walled cafés. With lodgings this charming, you may just consider going back to school all over again.


Slot machines, poker, black jack, roulette—gambling is synonymous with casinos. But the fun isn’t always about the gaming: at the world’s top casinos, there’s a variety of entertainment at hand 24 hours a day, seven days a week. From Las Vegas to Monte Carlo, the modern casino is a perfect blend of indulgence and high-society glamour. And there’s eye candy aplenty: neon signs, flashy art displays, and innovative design all contribute to the sense of grandeur. Plan on spending a few hours in the world’s best casinos on your next trip to witness the thrill for yourself.Casino perksModern casinos are continually innovating and upgrading their facilities to provide a vast array of enticing amenities. Features like planetarium domes, specially commissioned LCD art displays, and, of course, fantastic shopping malls are among the highlights of the world’s greatest casinos. Even the games themselves are getting the high-design treatment at new developments worldwide, from state-of-the-art touchscreen slot machines to virtual poker. Not to mention, there’s fun to be had with the whole family: 15,000-seat sports arenas, 18-hole golf courses, and 3-D movie theaters can also be found on casino properties. Seeking something less fancy and more traditional? Browse our stories on the best downtown casinos for locals, where the time-honored appeal of a table game trumps newfound tech gimmicks.Spend the nightLet loose for a weekend and stay at a top-rated casino in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, or Palm Springs. The landmark gaming complexes in these locations offer the complete experience, with newly renovated suites and 24-hour butler service. Downstairs, you can start your evening with a delicious steak or sushi dinner, followed by artisan cocktails and a burlesque show, before laying down your chips. Traditional casinos are even evolving in exciting ways with new customizable wellness offerings. Prefer an air-purified room? Want a soak in a mineral hot spring? Seeking a day pass to the spa, complete with a Turkish hammam and rooftop pool? Travel + Leisure visits casinos around the world to find the most unique attractions, editing the information down into detailed guides to help you plan your next trip.

Museums and Galleries

Today, a museum exists for every type of traveler—art historian, fashionista, movie buff, history nerd. It’s just a question of knowing where to go. Be they about contemporary painting, ancient folk art, or mid-century design, cherished museums and art galleries around the world connect the masses to individual slices of culture. Regardless of whether you visit alone or with a group, museums and art galleries spark meaningful interaction with a destination, allowing you to leave better informed than when you arrived. Discover the best attractionsThe best museums feature well-curated selections in addition to a fluid design, allowing visitors to wander at their own pace through the exhibits and installations. If checking out a local art exhibit is high on your list, this is your ultimate resource. Our correspondents and editors are always on the road, vetting newly opened art galleries and speaking to local artists about their hometown and creating guides that yield practical tips on when to visit, as well as up-to-date information on new shows and gallery openings. Use our guides to explore emerging art neighborhoods, as well as make informed choices about which art galleries are worth your time.Choosing the right museumThere’s no subject too small or too trivial to warrant its own museum. From London to Madrid, world-class institutions chart mankind’s cultural evolution through the lens of art, archaeology, fashion, music, literature, and science. Traveling with the kids? Look for museums that will capture your whole family’s imagination, whether it’s an anime gallery in Tokyo or 3.5-billion-year-old fossils at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.Museums cater to transportation buffs, too: an 872-foot-long WWII aircraft carrier in New York, for example, or an airplane museum in Europe’s aviation capital, Toulouse, France. Consider yourself a car lover? Automobile museums around the world showcase historic—not to mention drop-dead gorgeous—vehicles by well-known manufacturers throughout Europe and the U.S.For a more unconventional experience, seek out those truly odd museums—like the underwater sculpture museum in the Canary Islands or a gallery of toilet seats in Texas—that challenge the concept of what a museum should be. Nontraditional museums, like New York’s medieval Cloisters Museum and Gardens, or Turkey’s hair museum, offer a fun side attraction, and make excellent topics of conversation when you return home.

Landmarks and Monuments

Landmarks have a way of getting stuck in our brains before we ever see them. Take the Eiffel Tower: its singular spire has been reproduced on countless postcards and t-shirts, and featured so often in TV and movies that it’s instantly recognizable, even for those who have never set foot in Paris. Landmarks and monuments like this become synonymous with a destination—think New York’s Empire State Building or the Sydney Opera House—while also functioning as a top attraction.When it’s time to cross these iconic sights off your bucket list, consider Travel + Leisure’s expertly written, constantly updated guides as your key to finding the world’s most famous monuments and landmarks.What is a monument?A monument can represent any man-made sculpture or structure that pays homage to an event or figure—from temples and ancient cities to bridges and statues—and encapsulates a particular chapter of history. Often designed with an artist’s eye, and commissioned by famous political leaders, many monuments act as a centerpiece for a village or city and offer a reference point for knowledge-hungry travelers.In America, the Lincoln Memorial is considered by many to be the country’s most famous monument, though more offbeat structures like California’s Salvation Mountain or a stacked circle of automobiles in Nebraska known as Carhenge often possess just as much allure. Around the world, monuments like those in Budapest’s Memento Park recall a country’s dark past, while the historic compound of Bo Kamp in Cape Town is a rare glimpse at pre-1850 South African architecture.How to visit landmarksIn London, a tour of Kensington Palace provides fascinating insight into one of the capital’s most distinguished royal residences. Meanwhile, in Sicily, a meticulously preserved amphitheater demonstrates the engineering ingenuity of ancient Greek civilization. Landmarks can take many different forms: from Japan’s Mount Fuji to Niagara Falls, natural landmarks fill travelers with just as much wonder and astonishment.Wondering when the best time is to trek up to the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue overlooking Rio de Janiero? Perhaps you’re looking for a private, behind-the-scenes tour of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, one of the tallest buildings in the world? Wherever you’re going, Travel + Leisure has already mapped out the best landmarks and monuments for you to see, with details on when to visit, which guides to contact, and what makes them so unique.

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