Half the fun of planning a vacation is researching all the things to do, see, and eat at your destination. The obvious attractions are easy to find, but if you want to really get a sense of a city, you have to dig deeper than the major tourist hotspots. Here are four off-the-beaten-path activities in some of the world’s most popular vacation spots.
The Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas
When you think of Vegas, what comes to mind? The Bellagio fountain? A sprawling buffet? Rows of clanging slot machines? How about a bare-bones retail space crammed with more than 200 working pinball machines?
The Pinball Hall of Fame is just a 10-minute cab ride away from the glitzy hotels on The Strip, but it feels like another world. There’s no neon or cocktail waitresses — just aisle after aisle of classic pinball machines waiting to be mastered. In addition to being a respite from the sensory overload of the casino floor, it’s one of the few places in town where you can spend several hours on just $20.
Oz Park in Chicago
You probably already have Michigan Avenue, the Riverwalk, and Cloud Gate (or The Bean, as it’s more commonly known) on your Chicago itinerary. But when you feel the need to escape the crowds of tourists with the same idea… just follow the yellow brick road. Frank L. Baum, famed author of “The Wizard of Oz,” is from Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. Over the years, this 13-acre neighborhood park has been decorated with statues and spaces dedicated to Oz and its storied inhabitants.
Book a hotel near Wrigley Field and other center-city attractions, then take a short ride on the Red Line for a picnic, game of soccer, and a visit with Dorothy and her friends.
The Underwater Museum of Art in Cancun
The last thing you want to do on a relaxing beach vacation is multitask. But when it takes the form of an underwater museum, doing two things at once doesn’t sound so bad. The Underwater Museum of Art opened in 2009, and features more than 500 sculptures made of special materials that allow the art to become part of the surrounding coral reef.
Snorkelers and SCUBA divers can explore the museum up close. If you prefer staying on the surface, you can also see the art via glass-bottomed boat. Where else can you see beautiful art and enjoy a day on the water at the same time?
The Whispering Gallery in New York
The great thing about the Whispering Gallery is that you can check it out on your way to any number of other New York attractions. On the lower floor of Grand Central Station, just outside The Oyster Bar eatery, you’ll find a small section of tile-lined arches. The perfect geometry of these arches creates a rare set of acoustics that allow a tiny whisper from one side of the arch to be heard perfectly on the other side — hence its name, The Whispering Gallery.
Make the most of your next vacation by taking the road less traveled. By exploring sights many other visitors miss, you’ll gain a unique appreciation for your destination, and come home with pictures and stories no one else has.