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Soaring to a height of 1,454 feet (443.2 meters), this 102-story skyscraper held the title of the world's tallest for close to four decades after its completion in 1931. Despite being surpassed in height, the Empire State Building remains one of the United States' best-known and most iconic modern wonders. The building's Art Deco design is the work of the architect William F. Lamb, who drew up the plans over a mere two weeks using the Reynolds Building in Winston-Salem as a template. Replete with stunning architectural details best showcased by the lavish lobby, the Empire State Building is a splendid jewel of the Art Deco variety. The highlights of the Empire State Building are its two observation decks, perched on the 86th and 102nd floors of the building. From here, awe-inspiring views of New York City await, the vista transforming from a sun-dappled, urban landscape by day to a glittering sea of lights by night. Often, the tower's lofty pinnacle is lit up in myriad colors to celebrate various special occasions and anniversaries throughout the year, accompanied by spectacular light shows that are visible for miles around.
The scenic heartland of Southern Carolina's famous Grand Strand stretch, this sun-soaked coastal city is the place where families from the cold north set off for the summer. From packed beaches with a pronounced lively vibe and a blossoming nightlife scene, to a round-the-year landscape for outdoor enjoyment, Myrtle Beach's predominantly recreational personality instantly sets it apart from other cities of the south. Its coastal landscape is lovingly adorned with a raised wooden deck boardwalk, titled as one of the best boardwalks in the United States by both National Geographic and Travel + Leisure magazines. A humongous skywheel twirls near the pier, and is etched into Myrtle Beach's wildly captivating beachside topography. In the sprawling expanses that run beyond its sand-filled coast, Myrtle Beach hosts a rapidly evolving shopping scene as well, and is one of the largest retail destinations in the Southeastern United States, with its impressive assemblage of malls and shopping centers. The city's successful golfing scene is the main drawcard for avid golfers, and boasts of nearly 100 golf courses both inland and on the Grand Strand stretch.
A World Heritage Site, Yosemite National Park is a bountiful reserve nestled in the heart of the Sierra Nevada, a mere 40 miles (225 km) to the east of San Francisco. Giant sequoias tower to dizzying heights at the Mariposa Grove, while the bare walls of the hulking Domes rise from the verdant depths of the valley. From the thunderous descent of the Yosemite Falls to the to the wildflower-laden Tuolumne Meadows, the Yosemite National Park is a tapestry of awe-inspiring spectacles, dappled with pristine lakes and etched with canyons; a maze of stark granite walls riddled with tumbling cascades that drench the scene in a cool mist. Amid the varied habitats of the Yosemite National Park thrives a fascinating variety of flora and fauna including the endemic Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep. Visited by thousands each year, the Yosemite National Park continues to inspire awe in the hearts of even the most irreverent. There are several permanent campgrounds and accommodations, dining options, a visitor center, and a myriad of hiking trails at the Yosemite National Park, weaving the perks of civilization through the heart of the wilderness.
The magnanimous proportions of the Colosseum have long been a source of wonder. Originally envisioned in 70 CE, the construction of this grand structure was completed in 80 CE. At that time, it is believed that this vast amphitheater could seat upwards of 50,000 spectators at once. The Colosseum also features on the Italian version of the five-cent Euro. Deemed as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Colosseum was designed to be a horse racing circuit and arena for animal fighting and gladiatorial battles, although it has also hosted significant religious ceremonies in its early days. It is a symmetrical wonder set in the historic landscape of Rome's heart. The enormous ruin is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered by many to be an iconic symbol of Italy.
One of the most recognizable buildings in the world, the Burj Khalifa rises to a staggering height of 829.8 meters (2,722 feet). The towering edifice appears to pierce the sky itself, a glimmering vision of contemporary design that soars high above the rest of the city. Completed in 2010, the skyscraper broke records to become the world's tallest freestanding structure, beating landmark buildings such as the Petronas Towers and CN Tower. Its outdoor Observation Deck is set on the 124th floor and offers breathtaking views of the city, surpassed only by the Sky Deck on the 148th floor. The extravagant interiors only add to the building's appeal with the Armani Hotel on its lower levels and the At.mosphere restaurant on the 122nd floor. Apart from the structure itself, nearby landmarks such as the Burj Khalifa Park and The Dubai Fountain also form part of this downtown complex. The Burj Khalifa is synonymous with the city, as is evidenced by the myriad replicas of its iconic form fitted into souvenir stands and depicted on postcards.
Closely interwoven bands of layered rock skirt a sea of gigantic ancient boulders, coming together to form a surreal panorama that melts into Arizona's vast landscape. From high above the topmost point of the canyon, the mighty Colorado River appears as a muddy sliver, belying the tumultuous nature of its waters that carved through ancient layers of rock and birthed the steep canyons surrounding it. Over several millennia, the river snaked its way through the rugged landscape, constantly deepening and pushing the edges of the canyon, oblivious that its aggressive course unraveled years of geological history. For years, the canyon was home to indigenous Native American tribes, before Spanish explorers and American trappers settled into the river basin. Today, the Grand Canyon continues to instill a deep sense of wonder and mystique in whoever visits it, an eternal ocean of auburn rock that spreads majestically under deep blue skies.
Flanking the Urubamba River, the Sacred Valley of the Incas stretches from Pisac to Ollantaytambo through the Andean region of Cusco. The approximately 42-kilometer (26-mile) valley was once a hive of Incan activity, particularly given its abundance of maize and warm temperatures relative to the surrounding areas. Myriad ruins are scattered through the valley, offering archaeological insight into the early Incas. In fact, farmers still cultivate the terraces at the ruins of Pisac in order to continue the traditions laid by their forefathers. A tour of the scenic valleys is a sought after tourist activity in Peru.
Perched elegantly on Île de la Cité, Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris is as arresting as it is imposing. One look at the spellbinding architectural details, both inside and out, and you'll understand why it took nearly a century to complete, beginning 1160. Two monumental towers rise from it's western facade, marking the most intricately adorned portion of the cathedral. As a bonus, visitors can climb the 380 odd steps leading to the top of the towers for arguable the best views of the Parisian cityscape. Highlight of the cathedral's interiors are most certainly, the beautifully vivid rose windows in stained glass. History enthusiasts can also check out the archaeological crypt that exhibits interesting relics found in Paris. Considered to be a masterpiece of French Gothic architecture, Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris is deservedly one of the most visited of Paris' enchanting sights.
Larger-than-life billboards, the collective flicker and flash of neon lights, mesmerizing digital screens and a famously atmospheric spirit sum up the allure of the bustling Times Square. Christened after the New York Times, which moved its office to this location in 1924, the vibrant milieu of this busy square deeply echoes the city's ethos. Riveting Broadway marquees, a diverse set of shops, restaurants of every type and stripe, and towering buildings beyond vie for attention. Somewhere amid a sea of tourists who are likely making their way to the iconic red steps for panoramic views of this spectacle, a big crimson tourist bus inches its way toward the next monumental attraction. Meanwhile, longstanding fixtures of this place contribute to its hugely legendary status, from the Coca-Cola sign, the colossal M&Ms World store and Times Square Studios, to the TKTS booth, the Hard Rock Cafe, and Planet Hollywood.
Referring both to the famous tower that forms the north end of the Palace of Westminster, as well as the iconic clock built into its face, the Elizabeth Tower or Big Ben as it is popularly referred to, is deemed as one of the most prolific timekeeping devices of the 19th Century. This hugely exalted monument was constructed when the old Palace of Westminster was ravaged by a fire in 1834, sparking the need for a newer structure. It was then that English architect Augustus Pugin's spectacular design for the tower found fruition, an imposing Gothic Revival structure that would go on to become one of the most striking icons of the British empire. Towering over 315 feet (96 meters), the Big Ben is a brilliant blend of sand-colored Anston limestone that dominates its lower half and a cast-iron spire that pierces the city's ashen skies. Its impressive timekeeping mechanism weighs in at over 5 tons, and the pendulum, which beats once every two seconds, weighs 203 kilograms (447.53 pounds). While this imposing structure can be admired from a distance by overseas visitors, only residents are privy to the internal depths of the tower.
The spectacular 'Strip' is synonymous with the City of Las Vegas, a world unto itself where anything is possible. This stretch of South Las Vegas Boulevard is bejeweled with luxury hotels the likes of which are found nowhere else, entertainment venues that host some of the world's top acts and attractions that run the gamut from the dancing fountains of the Bellagio to the dazzling lights of the Fremont Street Experience. Here, it's possible to enjoy a gondola ride down Venetian canals, tour the Amazonian forests and admire the Eiffel Tower in a single day; a replica of some of the world's wonders packed into a single street. The Strip's 30 odd casinos are a whirlwind of flashing lights where time holds no sway and fortunes are won with the roll of a dice or the spin of a wheel. So grand is the spectacle, that the Strip is clearly visible from the sky, its glimmering facades, brilliant lights and distinctive architecture unmistakable as anything else.
Welcome to everybody's favorite spot in Miami. South Beach refers to the locale, as well as the beach itself. Historically, this was the first neighborhood on Miami Beach to be comprehensively urbanized during the early periods of the 20th Century, which was when a vast majority of its magnificent art-deco masterpieces that you can see today had been built. The commune really upped its game in terms of prominence during World War II, when Miami Beach had been chosen as an influential hub for the United States Air Force. Today the South Beach is viewed by the world as a premier tropical destination for vacationers with its pristine golden-sand beaches, swanky waterside resorts and vibrant nightlife. The Lummus Park, Miami Golf Club, Di Lido Island and the iconic Ocean Drive are some of South Beach's unmissable sights.