Category Archives: Plan a Trip

Plan a trip to Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Paris, France

Commonly known as Sacre-Coeur Basilica or Sacre-Coeur, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Paris, France, is Roman Catholic and minor basilica, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The basilica is a very popular landmark in the city of Paris and is located at the highest point in the city, on the summit of the butte Montmartre. The Sacre-Coeur Basilica was designed by architect Paul Abadie. The construction took nearly 40 years to complete, starting in 1875 and finishing in 1914. It wasn’t officially consecrated until after World War 1 in 1919.

The Basilica of the Sacred Heart is actually a double monument, serving as a dedication to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which was a popular practice and well-known Roman Catholic devotion. The basilica also serves a cultural monument, serving as a national penance for the excesses of the Second Empire.

Sitting upon the highest point in Paris, the Sacre-Coeur is simply amazing. Due to its location, visitors can get great views of Paris, with even better views of the city once you climb to the basilica’s dome. It is quite easy to get to Sacre-Coeur by Metro, where you can take the tram the rest of the way or walk up the hills many steps.

The neighborhood at the bottom of the hill is not the best neighborhood in Paris, so be sure to watch your valuables. It is often recommended that visitors tour the neighborhood of Montmartre on their way up to the Basilica. Tourists can begin their journey at the famous Moulin Rouge, making their way up the hill. Along the path towards the basilica are two streets that feature French gastronomy. There is a secret museum at the top of the hill where tourists can view some of the works from famous artists who lived in the neighborhood, including: Picasso, Toulouse Lautrec, and Utrillo.

The Montmartre neighborhood is one of the trendiest

Plan a trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Lake Bay, Florida

Disney’s Animal Kingdom was the last of four theme parks to be built in Bay Lake, Florida at the Walt Disney World Resort. The park opened on April 22, 1998, becoming the second largest theme park in the world, behind only Jackson, New Jersey’s Six Flags Great Adventure. It is the single largest Disney theme park in the world, covering a whopping 500 acres. It is also the first Disney theme park entirely based around animal conservation, a philosophy that was actually pioneered by Walt Disney himself.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is an accredited Zoo and Animal Park by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which means the park has met or exceeded the standards for research, education and conservation. The park hosts nearly 10 million visitors every year, making it the seventh most visited park in the world.

The parks official icon is the “Tree of Life,” which is a 145-foot-tall or 44 m, 50 foot wide artificial tree.

The park has been divided into seven themed areas, with another, the Oasis, serving as the park’s entrance. The Oasis also features many animal habitats and main paths that lead deeper into the park.

Africa Theme – This park is set in a fictional east African village called Harambe. According to the legends, Harambe has been a self-governing village after a peaceful revolution in 1961. Today, this area contains many great animal exhibits while also serving as the starting point for tourists and students to observe Africa’s animals in their natural habitats.

Asia Theme – The Asian themed section was the first to be added to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, when it opened in 1999. The park is also set in a fictional located called Anandapur, which translates to mean “Place of Many Delights.” Anandapur has two distinct settings, the riverside village of Anandapur, and Serka Zong, which is a foothills location on the Himalayan Mountains.

Avatar: World of Pandora – This park is currently being built. It has been in the works since September, 2011, when Walt Disney Parks and Resorts struck a deal with James Cameron and his Lightstorm Entertainment production company, and Fox Filmed Entertainment to develop a theme park based on James Cameron’s Avatar Film franchise.

DinoLand USA – This theme park was inspired by the general public’s desire and curiosity about dinosaurs. The Dino Institute offers many great facilities surrounding the park which feature attractions designed around the long-extinct dinosaurs. There are also animals on display in DinoLand USA.

Rafiki’s Planet Watch – This section is geared towards families and small children. Guests are asked to hop aboard the 3 foot 4 inch narrow Wildlife Express Train for a short trip to the area and when leaving the area. Guests first enter the area called Habitat Habit!, where guests can learn about the protected Cottontop Tamarins, learning about these endangered species as they move about in their natural homes. Guests will also learn how to provide an animal habitat for areas around their own home.

Discovery Island – Located in the center of the park, Discovery Island is situated in the middle of the Discovery River waterway. It is considered the “central hub” of the Animal Kingdom Park. The Tree of Life, the parks iconic feature is also located in this section and the tree is surrounded by several animal enclosures and trails.

Plan a trip to the Zocalo, Mexico City, Mexico

The Zocalo is the main square located in the heart of Mexico City. Known simply as the “Arms Square” or Main Square,” today it goes by its more formal title Constitution Square or Plaza de la Constitucion. However, the name does not come from any of the Mexican constitutions that have governed the country but comes from the 1812 Cadiz Constitution, which was signed in Spain. These days, the park is almost always called Zocalo.

Plans had been made to erect a column as a monument to Independence, though only a base, or zocalo, was ever constructed. Long ago, the plinth was destroyed, but the name lingers on. Other Mexican towns and cities have also adopted the name zocalo to refer to their main plazas.

Since the Aztec times, the Zocalo has been a gathering for the Mexicans, having been the site of for royal proclamations, Independence ceremonies, Mexican ceremonies, the swearing in of viceroys, and many modern religious events. The Zocalo also holds many yearly festivals including Holy Week and Corpus Christi, while also receiving heads of state and a venue for national protest and national celebrations. The Zocalo Park has been a part of Mexico City’s geography and city planning for more than 700 years. The Zocalo is just one block away from the Templo Mayor, which according to Aztec legend and mythology, was considered the center of the universe.

The park is considered the beating heart of Mexico’s capital; it also served as the main center of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan. Located just a few meters from the park are several majestic colonial buildings and pre-Hispanic ruins. Surrounding the park is a large cross section of Mexico City peoples and businesses, including: workers, bankers, business executives, street vendors, fashionistas, buskers, and dancers.

The Zocalo takes up a whole city block and is considered one of the largest squares in the world where people gather for cultural and civic celebrations and events. Over the many years the Zocalo has undergone numerous renovations and incarnations. Many of these different phases can be seen in scale models found in the Zocalo metro station.

Plan a trip to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Bay Lake, Florida

Disney’s Hollywood Studios is one of the four theme parks built at the Walt Disney World Resort in Bay Lake, Florida. The resort officially opened on May 1st 1989 as the 3rd of 4 resorts built on the Bay Lake location. The park is spread out over 135 acres, and is dedicated to representing show business and Hollywood of the 30s and 40s. With nearly 9 million visitors every year, the park is considered the fifth most visited park in the United States.

The original icon for the park was the Earful Tower, which served as the key icon until 2001. Nowadays, the park is represented by The Sorcerer’s Hat, which is a stylized version of the magical hat seen in Fantasia.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios is heavily influenced by the glitz and glamour of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Movie Magic comes to life with numerous attractions based on top Television shows and blockbuster movies. This park features 8 themed sections, including: Sunset Boulevard, Mickey Adventure, Pixar Place, Animation Courtyard, Hollywood Boulevard, Commissary Lane, Streets of America, and Echo Lake.

This park has been divided into 6 themed sections that are not as defined as most other Walt Disney World parks. The park has been designed without a defined layout, with much of the park resembling a blending of streets and buildings that flow with one another, much like a real motion picture flows together.

Pixar Place – This is the park’s newest addition. It includes many of the original soundstages that are used when the park hosted the actual production facilities. The Pixar Place of today now resembles the Emeryville campus of Pixar Animation Studios.

Streets of America – This Park was originally used as the backlot set featured in the park’s original Backlot Studio Tour. Later on, the section was reopened to visitors. It wasn’t until much later that architectural treatments were added to create scenes that resemble the streets of New York and San Francisco.

Echo Lake – The Echo Lake Park is a section of the park built up around a small oval shaped lagoon. This lagoon once served as one of Mickey’s Ears, when it was part of the original layout.

Sunset Boulevard – Opening in 1994, Sunset Boulevard was the park first expansion built for Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The park’s main focal point is the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, which is a thrill ride that was based on the classic TV series. The Rock “n” Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith is located nearby. It includes a dark indoor roller coaster with a high speed launch and three inversions.

Hollywood Boulevard – This section serves as the entrance to the park, with many themed venues and facades selling Disney souvenirs and other merchandise. Live street entertainment can be found here throughout the day, while the Pixar Block Party Bash parade travels through Hollywood Boulevard on its way through the park.

Animation Courtyard – Originally, this park served as the starting point for tours of the park’s production studios. The square “Studio Arch” marks the entrance of the park, much like the ones that mark a real Hollywood Studio lot entrance. Also found in the Animation Courtyard are many Disney based attractions and characters.

Plan a trip to Universal Studios Japan, Osaka Bay, Japan

Universal Studios Japan was the first Asian theme park opened under the Universal Studios brand. USJ was officially opened in the Osaka Bay Area in 2001, in an area that covers more than 39 hectares. It is the second most visited amusement park in Japan, trailing the Tokyo Disney Resort.

Currently, Universal Studios Japan has 9 themed sections, including: San Francisco, Jurassic Park, Amity Village, Universal Wonderland, Hollywood, Waterworld Lagoon, New York, and Harry Potter. In 2014, a Harry Potter themed section has been added to the parks original 8 theme parks. In each of these themed sections, visitors will be able to enjoy many fun and even thrilling rides, ranging from kiddy rides all the way up to mind-bending simulators and roller coasters. Some of the more popular rides are based upon various popular movies, including: Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, Terminator 2, and Spiderman.

USJ provides its guests with numerous opportunities to take pictures with popular characters and mascots, such as Hello Kitty, Snoopy, and some of the puppets from Sesame Street. The park also hosts various shows daily, one of which is the popular night parade, which has illuminated floats that are paraded through the streets.

Universal CityWalk Osaka is a shopping mall with numerous amenities is located just outside the park’s gates. CityWalk Osaka is home to many great food establishments, retail shops, and souvenir stores selling Universal Studios merchandise. The Osaka Takoyaki Museum can also be found in CityWalk. It is found on the fourth floor of the mall, and features a great collection of popular vendors of local foods.

In 2014, the park officially opened the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The new and exciting addition to the park is welcome news to the many dedicated Harry Potter fans in Japan, many who have been followers of the franchise since the beginning of its series. The new Wizarding World is in fact the third such theme park created. The first was opened in 2010 at the Universal Orlando Resort. The other Wizarding World expansion is set to open in 2016, at Universal Studios Hollywood.

Plan a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a national park located in the Great Smoky Mountains, part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, within the larger Appalachian Mountain chain. The centerline of the park runs through the borders of North Carolina and Tennessee. The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is the most visited national park in the United States and has been deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Appalachian Trail also passes through the center of the park on its route from Maine to Georgia.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park was chartered in 1934 by the US Congress. It is one of the largest protected areas in the Eastern US, covering 522,419 acres of land. The two main entrances are located along U.S. Highway 441 or Newfound Gap Road, in the town of Cherokee, North Carolina and in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The park was the first national park whose major funding contributions came from federal funds; most parks are funded with private funds or are funded through the state.

The national park is a major tourist destination for the region, hosting more than 9 million visitors each year. In 2010, more than 11 million non-recreational visitors traveled to the park, which is twice the amount of people that the Grand Canyon received. The small towns that surround the park earn a significant portion of their incomes from the tourism associated with the park. These towns include: Cherokee, Maggie Valley, Bryson City, and Sylvia, North Carolina and Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, Townsend, and Sevierville, Tennessee.

The Oconaluftee Visitor Center, near the eastern entrance of the park in Cherokee and the Sugarlands Visitors’ Center near the park’s Gatlinburg entrance are the two main visitor centers within the parks boundaries. These particular ranger stations provide numerous exhibits on the parks history, its wildlife, and its geology. They also sell a variety of souvenirs, books, and maps. There are no entry fees to the park, which is uncommon for most national parks.

Known as Newfound Gap Road, the US highway 441 is a road that bisects the park, allowing for automobile access to many of trails and lookout points, including Newfound Gap. Newfound Gap is the lowest gap in the mountains, at 5,048 feet or 1,539 m, and is located near the park’s center. On a clear day, the Newfound Gap offers some of the best views that are accessible via the park’s highway.

There are quite a few notable attractions in the park, including Cades Cove, which is a valley that features a number of historic buildings including, churches, log cabins, and barns. Cades Cove is the most visited area of the national park. Sightseers are able to go on bicycle and automobile tours that provide guests with a glimpse of the way of life in olden times southern Appalachia. Other notable tourist destinations within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park include the Mountain Farm Museum, Roaring Fork, and Mingus Mill at Ocunaluftee, Elkmont, and Cataloochee.

Plan a trip to Navy Pier, Chicago, Illinois

Located on the shoreline of Lake Michigan, Chicago’s Navy Pier is a 1 km or 3,300 foot long pier located in the Streeterville neighborhood of the Near North Side community. Built in 1916, the pier cost roughly 4.5 million to construct. The design and concept of the Pier was part of architect and city planner Daniel Burnham and his associates, Plan for Chicago. This included the Navy Pier to serve as a mixed-purpose piece of public infrastructure.

Warehouses were built up and down the pier as the primary purpose of the pier was to serve as a cargo facility for lake freighters. The Pier was also designed to provide docking space for passenger boats, while some the Pier served as a cool gathering spot for public gatherings and entertainment. At one time, the Pier even had its own tram.

The Navy Pier today is Chicago’s top tourist attraction. Additional popular attractions include: sightseeing tours from companies such as Shoreline Sightseeing cruises; Seadog Ventures; the Tall Ship Windy; and a Water Taxi service. There are several popular dinner cruise boats, including the Mystic Blue, the Spirit of Chicago, and The Odyssey II. On Wednesday and Sundays during the summer and on Saturday during the fall, the Pier hosts a fireworks show in the evenings.

The Pier is home to numerous fairs and expos that are held throughout the year and also hosts the popular Strictly Sail boat show as well as the Chicago Flower and Garden Show. Halloween and Christmas are popular seasonal festivals for the Navy Pier. The Chicago Children’s Museum is located on the Navy Pier, with its large collection of works for both children and adults to enjoy. Also located on the Pier are the IMAX theatre and the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows, which were salvaged from many Chicago area mansions.

Notable Navy Pier Attractions

Pier Park – is a landscaped area outdoors on the upper deck, located between the Pepsi Skyline Stage and the Crystal Gardens.

The Navy Pier Ferris Wheel – is a 150 foot or 46 meter high Ferris wheel. Designed and manufactured by Vekoma, the Ferris wheel was opened in 1995, and operates year round, weather permitting. The ride features 40 gondolas, holding up to 6 passengers each. The 40 spokes are illuminated in the evenings.

USS Chicago Anchor – this anchor is on display at the far end of the Pier.

Amusements and Rides – The Pier is home to numerous rides, including the token-operated remote control boats; the Wave Swinger, which is a swinging thrill ride nearly 12 m or 40 feet high; and the Light Tower Ride. The Pier also has an 18-hole miniature golf course.

Plan a trip to the Louvre Museum, Paris, France

The Louvre Museum is one of the world’s largest museums with nearly 35,000 objects being displayed at any time in an exhibit space of 60,600 square meters. Located along the Right Bank of the Seine River in Paris, France, the Louvre is a historic monument and a key Parisian landmark. The Louvre is the most visited museum, hosting nearly 10 million visitors every year.

The Louvre Museum is housed within the larger Louvre Palace, which was originally built as a fortress for Phillip II, in the late 12th century. In the basement of the museum, you will still be able to see the remnants of the fortress. The building has been extended many times to form the present Louvre Palace. The Palace of Versailles became the primary residence of Louis XIV in 1682, leaving the Louvre as residence for the home of the royal collection. From about 1692, the Louvre has held a massive collection of Greek and Roman works. During the same year, the facility was occupied by the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture and the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres. The Académie remained at the Louvre for 100 years.

During the French Revolution, the National Assembly officially decreed that the Louvre should display the nation’s masterpieces and operate as a museum.

The official opening of the museum took place in 1793, starting with an exhibition of 537 paintings. The majority of the works came from the royal collection and from painting confiscated church property. The museum was closed during 1796 until 1801, due to many structural problems with the building. Under Napoleon, the museum was increase and renamed Musée Napoléon. However, following the Battle of Waterloo, many of the works were seized by invading armies and returned to their original owners.

The Louvre’s collections grew under the reigns of Louis XVIII and Charles X, and during the Second French Empire, when the museum gained 20,000 pieces. Since the 3rd republic, holdings have steadily grown through donations and gifts. Currently, the total collection has been divided amongst the 8 curatorial departments in the Louvre: Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Roman, and Etruscan Antiquities; Prints and Drawings; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; and Islamic Art.

Plan a trip to San Francisco’s Pier 39

Pier 39 is a widely popular tourist attraction and shopping center built upon a pier in the city of San Francisco, California. The popular pier supports numerous shops and eating establishments, a video arcade, the Marine Mammal Center, and the Aquarium of the Bay. The Pier also hosts many street performers and performances in addition to being the home of California sea lions that make their home upon Pier 39’s marina. One of the Pier’s most dominant features is the floating Forbes Island restaurant, which is a two-story carousel restaurant that is sits near the end of the pier and is not directly visible from the street. Due to the presence of marine mammals, the pier is a popular tourist destination for families with kids.

Pier 39 is located close to Chinatown, North Beach, and Embarcadero and at the edge of the Fisherman’s Wharf district. This area can be reached by way of the historic F Market streetcars. On the pier, visitors can see Angel Island, Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge, and the famed former prison, Alcatraz.

The first time Pier 39 opened was on Oct, 4th 1978 after being developed by entrepreneur Warren Simmons.

Fog Harbor Fish House

Fisherman’s Wharf is well known for its seafood. The Fog Harbor Fish House serves up many classic waterfront favorites like oysters and cioppino, though it does have an extensive list of foods that are not considered classic seafood fare. The seafood used at Fog Harbor Fish House is not only locally sourced; the menu is entirely built upon sustainable seafood. It is worthy to note, all meals come with a complimentary views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Spend Time Under the Golden Gate Bridge

A must see for any visitors to the San Francisco area, the Golden Gate Bridge is a sight unlike any other, providing fantastic views of the San Francisco Bay. Taking a cruise with the Blue & Gold Fleet’s Bay Cruise will take you directly under the bridge, providing the guests with some amazing photo opportunities, with Alcatraz, the Bay Lights, and the city Skyline as potential backdrops.

San Francisco is a home for many wild animal species, including the parrots of Telegraph Hill, the Golden Gate Park Buffalo, and the large crowd of sea lions who make their home upon Pier 39’s K-Dock. The wild sea lions have made their home on the Pier since 1990, after arriving in large droves after the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989. There is even a sea lion webcam that allows people to virtually view them from the comfort of their own home.

Plan a trip to the Sydney Opera House in Australia

The Sydney Opera House located in Sydney, Australia is a multi-venue performing arts centre that has become a key landmark for the city and country down under. The facility is situated on Bennelong Point in Sydney Harbour, near the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and adjacent to the business district in central Sydney.

The Opera House was the brainchild of Danish design architect, Jorn Utzon, who won with this design in a 1957 international design competition. The project was approved by the New South Wales Government and authorized to begin construction in 1958, with architect Jorn Utzon leading the construction. The building of the Opera House has often been overshadowed by cost overruns, long delays, and eventually the resignation of the architect.

The project comprised multiple performance venues, though the name suggests a single venue, making it one of the busiest performing arts centre in the world, with more than 1.2 million patrons watching more than 1,500 performances every year. The venues have been home many in-house productions, while supporting four major performing arts companies, including: the Sydney Symphony Orchestra; The Australian Ballet; Opera Australia; and the Sydney Theatre Company. More than 7 million visitors come to the Sydney Opera House every year, making it the most popular tourist attraction in the country. Nearly 300,000 of these visitors every year participate in a guided tour of the facility.

The Sydney Opera House was deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007. Managed by the Sydney Opera House Trust, under the auspices of the New South Wales Ministry of the Arts, the facility has been identified as one of the most distinctive buildings of the 20th century and is probably the most famous performance arts centre in the world.