Top Rated San Diego Attractions

Known as the oldest town in California, San Diego is the gem of SoCal, and with Planetware’s curated list of the top-rated tourist attractions in the city, you’ll never find yourself in the least bit bored.

Located not too far off from the Mexican Border in Southern California, the City of San Diego holds within its limits a combination of natural beauty, mild Mediterranean climate, an abundance of sunshine, and a wide selection of unforgettable metropolitan attractions. Ideal for outdoor adventures sprinkled throughout your trips to the various museums and gardens that the city has to offer, you’ll never be without an exciting adventure. Of course, be sure to check local CDC recommendations, travel advisories, and local city mandates to ensure that your time in San Diego is spent as efficiently and safely as possible.

Set your sights on Balboa Park’s Spanish Colonial-style architecture, the Midway Aircraft Museum, or the world famous San Diego Zoo. If you’re looking for sunshine, San Diego houses several beaches with over 68 miles of coastline in and around the city limits, making it perfect for sunning, swimming, and even surfing.

San Diego Zoo

This zoo is famous, as it is one of the largest and most notable zoos to be found in the United States. Get ready to plan an entire day here, as you’ll be dying to get the most out of your visit once admitted. Visitors of the zoo are given a wide selection of exotic animals to observe, though the San Diego Zoo’s most famed residents are the giant pandasthat have been successfully bred in the zoo. Outside of the pandas, zoo attendees have the opportunity to see amazing habitats that enclose grizzly bears, koalas, gorillas, leopards, bonobos, polar bears, rhinos, and sloths, just to name a few favorites.

If you’re interested in spending more time with your favorite furry friends, the San Diego Zoo offers an upgraded experience that includes behind-the-scenes, close-up experiences with the animals. The grounds themselves are spread out along a landscaped canyon that houses an expansive botanical collection of over 700,000 plants from around the globe. Though, if your feet begin to get sore, you can always hop on the Kangaroo Express Bus to speed up your ground traversal or you can glide over exhibits from above in the Skyfari Aerial Tram.

The nonprofit San Diego Zoo Global operates the zoo itself as well as conservation organizations, and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, which is located about 40 minutes north of downtown San Diego. The Safari Park offers more of an observation experience similar to that found on an African Safari with free-roaming animals on a large acreage of land, making San Diego’s entire zoo experience a truly memorable one!

Balboa Park

Tourists and locals have a lot to love with the 1,400-acre Balboa Park and its encompassing historical buildings,numerous museums and bountiful gardens. The Panama California Exhibition of 1915-1916 caused the creation of the park, and the buildings have remained ever since with their predominantly Spanish-style architecture and low-rise buildings that blend in with the natural surroundings. This disguising blend of architecture and nature make it almost seem as though lush vegetation has overtaken this palace.

Besides the sheer sight of the park itself are the botanical gardens, lily pond, Museum of Man, Museum of Natural History, the San Diego Museum of Art, and the Fleet Science Center; all of which are can’t miss experiences housed in the park. If you ever make it out of Balboa Park, feel free to visit the other top rated attractions from Planet Ware during your visit.

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Destinations for Traveling Smartly and on a Budget

When planning ahead for a future trip, it’s always beneficial for your itinerary to be safe, organized, and frugal- whenever possible, and with this curated list from Travel + Leisure, a trip’s excitement and fun does not have to break the bank.

It should be noted that traveling in general is complicated right now, so the following list should be taken into account in accordance with local government safety measures, restrictions and individual travelers’ personal health conditions prior to departure. That being said, many have been taking advantage of this frugal brand of trip-planning, known as “budget travel” in light of many being short on discretionary funds as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Though for many, it’s not seen as a deterrent, as much as it is a reason to travel as smartly as possible–by staying domestic and stretching your dollar as far as it’ll go.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Known today by its nickname, the ”Modern Frontier,” this city combines Western cowboy culture, active stockyards, oil sites, and urban attractions to give a modern-industrial vibe to Oklahoma’s capital city. Tourists and locals alike regularly take a stroll around Scissortail Park or one of the city’s various museums, such as the Oklahoma Museum of Art, Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, and the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Additionally, this city is known internationally as the Horse Show Capital of the Word with many of the metro-area’s horse shows being free or low-priced. If in the area, be sure to also visit the city’s Bricktown entertainment district, an old warehouse district that’s been transformed into an entertainment hotspot with an aesthetically-scenic cana winding through its streets and in the background of your photographs.

Omaha, Nebraska

Another modernly underrated spectacle of middle America is Nebraska’s Omaha, a big-city hub with charming, small-town appeal. Appearing as an official stop on Lewis and Clark’s National Historic Trail, this city is located on the Missouri River near the Iowa border, and it’s brimming with history as well as attractions. Once unforgettable sight field with educational riches is Pioneer Courage Park, an urban park filled with exhibits of public art with over 100 monumentally-sized bronze sculptures depicting the tale of westward pioneers along 6 blocks of downtown Omaha. Other favorite spots are Kenefick Park, the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, and Durham Museum. Though, no trip to Omaha is complete without a visit to Bob, the city’s unofficial mascot, which is a 3,000 foot pedestrian bridge with both personality and a blue troll named Omar to take pictures with.

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

While Philadelphia often gets Pennsylvania’s acclaim and is mistaken for the state’s capital, it’s Harrisburg that actually bears the title alongside a wide assortment of interesting sights and opportunities. One such event is a Willy Wonka-esque trip to Hersheypark, the 1906-founded, chocolate-themed amusement park. Additional offerings of Harrisburg include outdoor events that can take place on or off the Susquehanna River, the cultural enrichment gained by visiting the National Civil War Museum, and the artistic revelry of the Susquehanna Art Museum, which is now housed in a former bank. Though, no trip to Harrisberrg would be complete without a hunt for bargain books at the substantial Midtown Scholar Bookstore, encased in the walls of a renovated 1920’s theatre for the added theatricality and spectacle one can expect from Pennsylvania.

The full list of Travel + Leisure’s cheapest, though most enjoyable, cities in the United States, found here, also has destinations sprawling along America’s three major coasts, and their curated list was created by cross-referencing the most affordable average day rates at hotels in cities cited on Priceline’s list of the Top U.S. Destinations.

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Museum Travel Destinations Worth Exploring

It’s high time to stop thinking of museum travel as only afield trip destination and to start seeing them as a must-visit stop on your next out-of-town vacation, date, or weekend get-a-way with this list of the top American cities with museums, as per a curated list from The Travel.

Museums are a prime location for sightseeing no matter if you’re interested in the sciences, arts, history, or general oddities. Additionally, each city on this list is a hub of great culture, food, and the general “must-sees” found on any travelor’s itinerary, but it’s the museums and the exhibits and collections within that will be the unforgettable sight you’ll be bragging about experiencing.

New York City

It’s an obvious choice, but New York is a city packed to the brim with all things distracting and life-changing, but particularly it’s the museums that the Big Apple offers you shouldn’t pass up. The largest in the city are those that you’ve heard of before or have seen in film; they’re the American Museum of Natural History, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met), The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), the Guggenheim Museum, and the 9/11 Memorial.Though, if you’re more interested in an off-the-beaten-path stop, try out the Tenement Museum or the New York or the New York Transit Museum.

Washington D.C.

The nation’s capital has plenty of museums for lovers of history and all else as the city is brimming with so many to visit that many often plan entire trips just to stop and see as many exhibits as possible. Some notable locations of course are the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of National History, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the National Gallery of Art, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. If you’re still craving can’t miss content, then book a your at the White House to top off your educational D.C. trip.


The Windy City might be in the middle of the country, but it’s far from the middle of nowhere, and it houses some truly iconic museums. If you’re traveling with a family in particular, then be sure to try out the Field Museum and Sue, its famous exhibit of the largest T-Rex  ever discovered. Other stops you should check out are the Chicago History Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Science and Industry, and especially the Museum of Contemporary Art to round out all the best in learning and culture that Chicago has to offer.

Los Angeles

Heading to the west coast, Los Angeles has a lot to offer in the way of significant museums, and it’s likely that you’ve seen them on the silver screen before. Every traveler in L.A. swears by the Griffith Observatory, and they’re not wrong; it’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime sight, especially if you’re able to catch one of their special events sprinkled throughout the year. While in town, be sure to visit the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Natural History Museum, and the California Science Center for all the history, art, and science that Hollywood has to offer.


The Pacific Northwest rounds out this cross-country collection of can’t-miss museum stops, and Seattle is just the progressive, hip city to do so. The Museum of Pop Culture should be at the top of your itinerary for those looking to have their knowledge of what’s been popular across the decades rewarded. Let your inner-nerd flourish with exhibits dedicated to Minecraft, Prince, Pearl Jam, and many more. Moving into the more traditional types of museums you can find in this interesting city, be sure to stop into the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum, the Museum of History and Industry, and the Seattle Pinball Museum where your ticket of admission is also an excuse to play any game in sight!

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The Best Holiday Lights in the US

Regardless of your location in the States, watching the twinkle of the Christmas lights is sure to spark joy and get you in the holiday mood. With a long and dated history, Christmas lights have become a symbol for an exciting and giving season.

Finding the best Christmas lights display within driving distance is a fun activity for the whole family, where you can watch the flickering of green and red dance to the best Christmas music. A few weeks ago, Travel + Leisure shared an updated list of the best Christmas lights in every state. Here are a few of our favorites!


Originally, the best Christmas Lights display belonged to the Osbourne Family Spectacle. Now that Disney laid their claim and moved it to Florida, you can get your Christmas fix at the Arkansas State Capitol Building.


Head to Hartford for the Holiday Light Fantasia, a drive-through animated Christmas display with larger-than-life scenes for Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s Eve. Make sure to look out for Flurry, a puppy wearing a Santa hat, hidden amongst all the lights.


Whether you want a self-guided walking tour or a Christmas-themed getaway, Barnsley Resort in Adairsville is the place to go. Here, you’ll find millions of bulbs illuminating the manor house ruins.


Are you ready for a multi-house, synchronized holiday experience? Then head to the Waikele neighborhoodto see the grand Christmas lights show lead by the Yoshida family. There are shows daily from 7pm to 9:30pm, and the lights are usually up till early January.


Make sure to swing by the Jolly Holiday Lights, a 2.5 mile ride through over 100 light displays. All proceeds from the Jolly Holiday Lights are donated to Make-A-Wish Iowa.


Head to New Orlean’s to see the lights at Celebration in the Oaks. With over 165,000 visitors each year, there are hundreds of thousands of lights dancing throughout the oak groves in City Park. You’ll also have the opportunity to ride on the antique wooden carousel, so make sure you get a great look at “The Cajun Night Before Christmas” display.


Prefer your Christmas celebrations to be on the extreme side? Check out Baltimore’s 34th Street. Each house on the block dresses up in light displays ranging from candy canes and Christmas trees to Mr. Boh, Poe the Raven, and Chesapeake crabs.

New York

Nope, we aren’t talking Rockefeller Center. The hidden Christmas lights gem is actually in Dyker Heights, where homeowners in this Brooklyn neighborhood have an unspoken competition to see who has the best over-the-top lights, professionally crafted displays, and inflatable lawn ornaments.


For a unique experience, head to Ohio’s famousClifton Mill, where 3.5 million lights decorate  the building, the gorge, and nearby trees. Make sure to take in the 100-foot “waterfall” of lights, and be good, because there’s a good chance Santa is checking his list in Santa’s Workshop.


The Opryland Hotel in Nashville morphs into a literal winter wonderland over the holidays. You’ll see over 2 million twinkling lights, acres of holiday decor, and indoor winter wonderland (made with over 2 million pounds of ice), and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical.

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National Parks Without the Crowds

The U.S. National Park Service was founded on August 25th, 1916 and 61 areas hold the title of “national park”. Imagine visiting all 61 of them, that would mean you would have to travel to two U.S. territories and 29 states. Over 300 million people visited national parks last year. The National Park Service can sometimes struggle with providing educational and recreational opportunities while also trying to conserve the cultural and natural heritage of the park.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park was the most visited national park in 2018, over 10 million people visited this park alone. But sometimes it’s nice to get away and see a not so crowded park. National Geographic released an article listing the 10 Least-Visited U.S. National Parks and we are here to tell you about one of them, the Virgin Islands .

Virgin Islands National Park

The Virgin Islands National Park is made up of over 7,000 acres. From the reefs to the ridge tops, the park owns over 5,000 acres of the submerged land surrounding the island. This means that the coral, fish, migrating birds, and other marine life are protected by the park.

There are different Ranger- Guided tours that are available. The Reef Bay Trail gives its visitors the opportunity to learn about those who called the area home. Ancient rock carving, stone walls, and eve sugar plantation ruins still linger on the island. This helps demonstrate the change that the island has continuously gone through over the many years of inhabitants. The trails can get a little tricky. It is advised to bring the appropriate shoes and plenty of water. Snacks and bug spray are both good things to bring along as well.

The Discover Bird Watching Hike, goes on every Friday. Francis Bay Trail and salt pound gives bird lovers the opportunity to view the migratory birds and the birds that live on the islands. The Friends of Virgin Islands National Park even offers a winter seminar series. The option to hike with local and park scientist is offered along with snorkeling or kayaking as well. For more information on the Friends of Virgin Islands National Park, click here.

Safaris bus drivers also offer guided tours of the island. They usually last two to three hours and they give amazing views of the beaches and remnants sugar plantations. The tour will begin at Cruz Bay on the public ferry dock and it will also end there.

Here are some safety tips the park includes on their website.

Valuables should not be left unattended, just because it is a national park doesn’t mean things won’t get stolen. All you will need for this trip is some snacks and water, there is no need to bring any valuables with you.

When swimming, use reef-safe sunscreen. The whole point of a national park is to help save the wildlife inhabiting the area. If you do decide to swim, remember there is marine life which means there is a possibility of getting stung/bitten. Be prepared

Mosquitoes. Those tiny bugs can do a lot of damage. The Virgin Islands National Park warns visitors of mosquitoes. Most diseases are spread after a lot of rain and especially during the rainy season. Make sure to bring bug spray and if you are bitten, make sure to watch out for symptoms of diseases that are carried by mosquitoes. Click here for more information.

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Camping Through the US

Looking for another adventure? What about one that explores the Best Place to Camp in Each of the 50 States. You do not need to leave the country to have places to explore. Travel + Leisure expands on the 50 places and we are here to give you the first 16 of them!


Outpost at Gulf State Park

This is the perfect spot if you are looking for some privacy. Each outpost has a fire pit, port-a-potty, and even an outdoor sink.


Bartlett Cove Campground at Glacier Bay National Park

This campground is a free walk-in campground, which means you should always call before arriving to make sure there is space available.


Havasupai Campground at Havasupai Reservation

This is not the easiest place to camp, permits are often picked up quickly so it can be hard to visit, however, waterfalls and natural pools make it all worth it.


Buffalo National River

This is America’s first national river; over 130 miles flows through the Ozark Mountains. Take hikes or even plan a float trip.


Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Getting multiple views from one campsite is the perfect way to go. McWay Falls will take your breath away.


Piñon Flats Campground at the Great Sand Dunes National Park

Sand mountains in Colorado, what an ironic thought. This campground gives its visitors options with multiple different camping sights. Explore the 700ft tall sand dunes and sleep under the stars.


White Memorial Conservation Center

A non-profit wildlife refuge that has 10 ponds and an onsite museum, sounds too good to be true. White Memorial Conservation Center has 40 miles for its visitors to explore.


Cape Henlopen State Park

This state park was one of the first “public lands” and has been that way since the late 1600s. There are campsites, however, there are also cabins available if the tent is getting a little tight.


Cayo Costa State Park

Only accessible by boat, this barrier island is exactly what some people need. There are 30 primitive campsites that you can use to possibly see dolphins and manatees.


Cloudland State Park

Mountain biking is only one activity that is available at Cloudland State Park. If hiking and biking is not your thing, check out the 18-hole disc golf course.There are multiple overnight options, click here for more information.


Malaekahana Beach Campground

Looking for an option with a beach? Malaekahana Beach Campground’s cabins and tent spaces could possibly be better than that beachfront house that cost way too much. You will not need a noise machine when falling asleep next to the water.


Point Campground

The perfect “typical” campground. Point Campground has miles of trails waiting to be explored. The  lake is the best backdrop for pitching a tent right along the shore.


Starved Rock State Park Campground

Spring is the best time to visit Starved Rock State Park Campground. This lush park will pull you away into another world. This campground even offers electric hookups! Not even two hours away from Chicago, this is the perfect escape from the city.


 Brown County State Park

The singletrack for mountain biking is 30 miles long and is sometimes named the best within the state of Indiana. There are over 400 posts for camping, so need to worry about not finding a spot.


Maquoketa Caves State Park

Looking for more than just a campsite? Maquoketa Caves State Park gives its visitors a completely different experience. Underground enclosures that need headlamps to explore and a small campground, this is the perfect getaway for those looking for a bigger adventure.


Wilson State Park

A reservoir that is 9,000 acres means there is a lot of room to kayak. Not only does Wilson State Park have water activities but its visitors can check out the 25-mile bike trail.

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