Before you can see the world's most iconic cities like a local, there are a few things you need to get out of the way. In New York, it's the Empire State Building. In Paris, the Eiffel Tower. But some quintessential sights are less obvious — you'll need to look underground to find Houston's Buffalo Bayou Cistern, and climb over 300 stairs to find the most legendary temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Here are TripSavvy's favorite iconic and historic attractions for 2018.
The Wrigley Field Marquee: Chicago, Ill. — featured in The Most Instagrammable Places in Chicago
Wrigley Field has changed a lot in the past year. It’s surrounded by new boutique hotels, multiple restaurants, even a craft beer bar outside its gates. In its backyard, there are now yoga classes, movie screenings, and family sing-alongs. But the one thing that has stayed the same in the neighborhood is the landmarked Wrigley Field Marquee. The famous sign has been hanging for 80 years through Cub wins and losses. Locals still smile when they see it on their way into a ball game. Tourists come from all over the world to take their photo with it rain or shine.
The Petronas Twin Towers: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — featured in The Top Things to Do in Kuala Lumpur
No visit to Kuala Lumpur is complete without feeling very small before Malaysia’s most iconic structure, the Petronas Twin Towers. Soaring to 88 stories, the towers were the tallest buildings in the world until 2004. A futuristic design implements glass and stainless steel to lock eyeballs in place. Ascend to the Skybridge for views of Kuala Lumpur during the day then return later that night to bask in the eerie glow. Duck inside to grab a drink in the luxury mall before leaving. Argentine-American architect César Pelli, the mastermind behind the design of the Petronas Twin Towers, celebrates his 92nd birthday this month!
- The O2: London, England— featured in Things to Do in London With Teens
- Temple Square: Salt Lake City, Utah — featured in The Top Attractions in Salt Lake City
- Empire State Building: New York, N.Y. — featured in The Top Attractions in NYC
- River Walk: San Antonio, Texas — featured in The Top Things to Do San Antonio
La Sagrada Familia: Barcelona, Spain — featured in The Top Things to Do in Barcelona
Walk around Barcelona and you’ll soon become familiar with the irreverent, curvaceous style of modernist architect Gaudi. Still, nothing can quite prepare you for his La Sagrada Familia, the city’s true must-visit attraction. Begun in 1882 — and still under construction to this day — the towering cathedral, with its ornamented spires, is unlike any other on the planet. But it’s the interior that stuns visitors into reverent silence. Columns that curve into naturally-inspired branches arch overhead, while a wall of rainbow stained glass bathes the entire space in vivid, dazzling color.
(Book a ticket online to avoid the considerable wait.) –Carey Jones
- The Reichstag: Berlin, Germany — featured in Berlin's Best Free Sights & Attractions
- The Brandenburg Gate: Berlin, Germany — featured in The Top Ten Attractions in Germany
- Arc de Triomphe: Paris, France — featured in The Top Attractions in Paris
- Eiffel Tower: Paris, France — featured in The Top Attractions in Paris
Statues, Monuments & Memorials
Arlington National Cemetery: Arlington, Va. — featured in Monuments & Memorials in Washington, D.C.
Honor those who served at Arlington National Cemetery, America's largest military cemetery. The cemetery is free to the public and open every day of the year, and it's a solemn yet beautiful site for the final resting place of more than 300,000 veterans. It's here you'll find the graves of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. Another unforgettable sight is the Changing of the Guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where unidentified fallen soldiers from World War I, World War II, the Korea War, and the Vietnam War are remembered.
Vulcan Park and Museum: Birmingham, Ala. — featured in The Top Things to Do in Birmingham
When Birmingham residents want to show off their city, this is frequently the first place they take out-of-towners. Start with the view: the 56-foot Vulcan statue sits atop a 125-foot observation tower on Red Mountain that reveals impressive views of the statue and downtown Birmingham. Vulcan itself, billed as the world’s largest cast-iron figure, has towered over the city in this location since 1936. This Roman god of fire and forge is an appropriate icon for a city that became one of the world’s leading steel producers.
A museum on the 10-acre grounds documents Birmingham’s geological bounty and industrial history. –Mark Kahler
- The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum: Oklahoma City, Okla. — featured in Things to Do in Midtown OKC
- Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch: Hartford, Conn. — featured in Free Things to Do in Hartford
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial: Washington, D.C. — featured in Monuments & Memorials in Washington, D.C.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial: Washington, D.C. — featured in Monuments & Memorials in Washington, D.C.
No other monument on the mall looks quite like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Maya Lin‘s simple yet striking design renders the names of 58,000 Americans in black granite: these are the names of those who gave their lives in the Vietnam War, inscribed in chronological order. It's a place for remembrance and contemplation, and many bring flowers and tokens to the wall in honor of loved ones. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund just called off a plan to bring an underground Vietnam education center to the mall, but the Wall itself is a moving remembrance of veterans' service.
- Washington Monument: Washington, D.C. — featured in Monuments & Memorials in Washington, D.C.
- Lincoln Memorial: Washington, D.C. — featured in Monuments & Memorials in Washington, D.C.
- Monocacy National Battlefield: Frederick, Md. — featured in Things to Do in Frederick, Maryland
- Statue of Liberty: New York, N.Y. — featured in NYC Attractions & Landmarks
Women in Military Service for America Memorial: Washington, D.C. — featured in Monuments & Memorials in Washington, D.C.
While visiting Arlington National Cemetery, don't miss the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. Located right at the cemetary's main entrance (otherwise known as the Memorial Gate), this memorial and education center dedicated in 1997 honors women veterans. After walking through an exhibition about the history of women's service and paying respects in the Hall of Honor recognizing those women who lost their lives in the line of duty, visitors can search an interactive database of nearly 245,000 servicewomen — past and present — to learn about their stories.
- U.S. Air Force Memorial: Arlington, Va. — featured in Top Attractions in Northern Virginia
- Albert Einstein Memorial: Washington, D.C. — featured in Monuments & Memorials in Washington, D.C.
- The Bronze Horseman: St. Petersburg, Russia — featured in Free Things to Do in St. Petersburg
- American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial: Washington, D.C. — featured in Monuments & Memorials in Washington, D.C.
- Palais Coburg: Vienna, Austria— featured in The Best Hotels in Vienna
- Bethesda Terrace: New York, N.Y. — featured in The Top Places to See in Central Park
- Pittock Mansion: Portland, Ore. — featured in The Top Portland Attractions
- Piazzale Michelangelo: Florence, Italy — featured in The Top Sights & Attractions in Florence
- Ponte Vecchio: Florence, Italy — featured in The Top Sights & Attractions in Florence
- Castello Sforzesco: Milan, Italy — featured in Free Things to Do in Milan
- Tower of London: London, England — featured in The Top Things to Do in London
- The Annenberg Beach House: Santa Monica, Calif. — featured in Fun Things to Do in Santa Monica
The Getty Villa: Malibu, Calif. — featured in Free Things to Do in LA
After amassing the finest private collection of Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities, J. Paul Getty, once the world’s richest man, decided to build it a permanent home equal in wow factor. Set atop a Malibu mountain overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the Getty Villa is itself a nod to the art’s origins as it’s a near replica of a first-century Herculaneum luxury home buried by Vesuvius’ eruption replete with stone columns, tranquil gardens, sculptures, an amphitheater, frescos and reflecting pools.
It recently reopened after a three-year renovation with 3,000 extra square feet of gallery space, updated audio tours and a new display methodology. –Carrie Bell
- Texas State Capitol: Austin, Texas — featured in The Top Attractions in Austin
- King William Historic District: San Antonio, Texas — featured in The Top Things to Do San Antonio
- Historic Sahuaro Ranch: Glendale, Ariz. — featured in Things to Do in Glendale
- State Capitol Building: Denver, Colo. — featured in Denver's Top Attractions
- The Ximenez-Fatio House: St. Augustine, Fla. — featured in The Top Attractions Near Jacksonville
- The Acropolis: Athens, Greece — featured in Things to Do in Athens
- Mission San Xavier del Bac: Tucson, Ariz. — featured in Things to Do in Tucson
Buffalo Bayou Cistern: Houston, Texas — featured in Houston's Quirkiest Attractions
Tucked below Houston’s popular Buffalo Bayou Park less than a mile from downtown, the Buffalo Bayou Cistern is easily one of the coolest — and perhaps most underrated — historical sites inside the city’s Inner Loop. The massive decommissioned reservoir could, at one time, hold 15 million gallons of drinking water. Now, it serves as a vibrant cultural attraction that frequently features installations from artists around the world. Visit the site before January 13, and you’ll see a custom light display designed by Franco-Venezuelan artist Carlos Cruz-Diez that includes floating cubes and mesmerizing projections on the cistern’s 221 signature concrete columns.
- The Old Mill: North Little Rock, Ark. — featured in Top Things to Do in Little Rock
- Grand Central Terminal: New York, N.Y. — featured in NYC's Top Attractions
- Basilica Santa Maria della Salute: Venice, Italy — featured in The Top Attractions in Venice
- Point Montara Lighthouse: Montara, Calif. — featured in Lighthouse Bed & Breakfasts on the West Coast
- Keeneland: Lexington, Ky. — featured in The Top Places to See in Kentucky
- San Miniato al Monte Abbey: Florence, Italy — featured in The Top Sights & Attractions in Florence
- St. Basil's Cathedral: Moscow, Russia — featured in Things to Do in Moscow With Kids
Greystone Mansion: Beverly Hills, Calif. — featured in Things to Do in Beverly Hills
The black and white tiles are the best giveaway for anything you may have seen that was filmed in the Greystone Mansion. This Hollywood Hills estate is a very popular production venue for the industry, and has been the backdrop to dozens of famous scenes, from The Big Lebowski to The Gilmore Girls to X-Men. A-listers even get married here. But the real story behind this historic mansion is more thrilling and mysterious than any movie that has been filmed here. In 1929, the murder of oil tycoon and Greystone owner Ned Doheny, thought to be committed by his best friend (and maybe his wife’s lover!) has many theories, but is yet-to-be solved.
- Palazzo Strozzi: Florence, Italy — featured in Things to Do in Florence With Kids
- Flagler College: St. Augustine, Fla. — featured in The Top Attractions Near Jacksonville
- San Fernando Cathedral: San Antonio, Texas — featured in The Top Things to Do San Antonio
- Wat Phra Tha Doi Suthep: Chiang Mai, Thailand — featured in The Top Things to Do in Chiang Mai
- Vizcaya Museum and Gardens: Miami, Fla. — featured in Top Things to Do With Kids in Miami
- Old Towne Orange Historic District: Orange, Calif. — featured in Things to Do Near Disneyland
- The Bembridge House: Long Beach, Calif. — featured in Top Things to Do in Long Beach
- St. James Cathedral: Seattle, Wash. — featured in Things to Do in Seattle
- Fortifications: Quebec City, Canada — featured in Things to Do in Quebec City
- The Kremlin: Moscow, Russia — featured in Things to Do in Moscow With Kids
- Severance Hall: Cleveland, Ohio — featured in The Top Attractions in Cleveland
- Basilica Sant'Ambrogio: Milan, Italy — featured in The Top Things to Do in Milan
- Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II: Milan, Italy — featured in The Top Things to Do in Milan