TripAdvisor Names Best Landmarks and Theme Parks of 2013

USS Arizona

USS Arizona, photo courtesy of TripAdvisor

Today, TripAdvisor released the top winners of its 2013 Travelers’ Choice Attractions awards, which were based on online reviews and opinions from tourists all over the world. The lists include the Top US Landmarks, World Landmarks, US and World Parks, US Museums, and US Amusement and Water Parks.

Top of The Rock

Me at the Top of the Rock

I have to say, I’m kind of amazed by how many of the US attractions I’ve visited (and also loved). Of the Top 10 US Landmarks, I’ve been to all except for #6 — although I only saw #1 (the Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas) in passing. Hmm, I wouldn’t have voted that #1, but many of the others are great. Here’s their full Top 10 list:

1. Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas
2. Gettysburg National Military Park (very interesting)
3. USS Arizona Memorial in Honolulu (so moving)
4. Top of the Rock Observation Deck in New York City (I actually liked this better than the deck at the Empire State Building!)
5. Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco
6. Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Savannah, Georgia
7. Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
8. Broadway in New York City (one of my favorite places to wander around)
9. Cloud Gate in Chicago (love that giant metal bean!)
10. Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool in Washington, DC.

I would have added the Jefferson Memorial in D.C. and the 9/11 Memorial in New York City, but overall I think this is a really solid list.

9-11 Memorial

9/11 Memorial, taken on my visit to NYC last year

Moving over to the Top 10 US Amusement & Water Parks, I’m not surprised to see that my old residence of Orlando, Florida dominated this list, taking 7 of the spots — all of which I visited, enjoyed, and probably screamed at! The only surprise is that the top spot wasn’t claimed by one of the Disney parks. Nevertheless, I can’t argue with the winner.

Discovery Cove in Orlando is one of the most beautiful and relaxing parks I’ve ever visited. And they have dolphins! Here’s a link to a story I wrote about the park for Orlando Attractions Magazine.

Discovery Cove

A personal performance at Discovery Cove

And here’s the rest of their Top 10 list of Amusement and Water Parks:

2. Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando
3. Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando
4. Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California
5. Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando
6. Disney’s Hollywood Studies in Orlando
7. SeaWorld Orlando
8. Disney California Adventures in Anaheim
9. Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park in Orlando
10. Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles

SeaWorld Orlando

On the Manta coaster at SeaWorld Orlando (I’m on the right!)

I was also pleased that when they showed the full Top 25 list, my somewhat local/semi-near amusement park Silver Dollar City (in Branson) was rated at #17. One voter said about it, “It’s like having Disney in the Ozarks!”

I also have no quibbles with their list of Top 10 US Parks:

1. Central Park in New York City
2. Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs
3. The High Line in New York City
4. Millennium Park in Chicago
5. Balboa Park in San Diego
6. Golden State Park in San Francisco
7. Boston Public Garden
8. Forsythe Park in Savannah
9. Falls Park on the Reedy in Greenville, South Carolina
10. Forest Park in St. Louis, Missouri

Photos of Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs
This photo of Garden of the Gods is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Not to brag too much, but I’ve enjoyed all but the last 3, and hope to add them to my list of places to explore.

In a press release, Barbara Messing, chief marketing officer for TripAdvisor, said that the awards were created “to inspire travelers setting out on summer trips.”

The full list of 2013 Travelers’ Choice Attractions winners, along with pictures and descriptions, can be found on TripAdvisor’s website.

What do you think? Do you agree with the lists? Or do you think any good places were missed? Let me know!


Add a Comment
  1. There are so many places to go and see wonderful sites right here in the U.S. I too have visited many of these places listed and would love to see the others. Thank you for a very good look into all the possibilities out there.

  2. There are so many wonderful travel destinations in the US and you have re-energized my enthusiasm.  Great article. Sandy


  3. I don’t do theme parks at all – so, I decided to look at the landmark list. I’ve been to 5 of the 10, although I was in the Boston Public Gardens in March – not exactly peak time! But the funny thing is, I keep trying to visit the High Line and life intervenes. Last year it poured down rain the day we were going to go. But it is definitely on my life list.(As for places missed – City Park in Hagerstown, MD. I have pictures – and maybe I’ll devote a blog post to it one day.)

  4. I know what you mean Alana. There are several “must sees” that I never can seem to, well, see! The High Line is definitely worth it if the weather will ever let you get there. And I can’t wait to read your blog post on Hagerstown’s City Park.

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