10 Incredible World Landmarks You Haven't Seen (Yet!)
These instant classics—including record-breaking towers, 35-story-tall sculptures, and external building climbs—are worth traveling to see.
Tokyo Sky Tree
The Japanese capital has begun to rebuild its reputation for futuristic, outsized architecture, defying gravity with the Tokyo Sky Tree—a white steel-and concrete landmark that has seized the title of the world's tallest freestanding tower. The gleaming structure is almost seven football fields high (twice the height of Paris's Eiffel Tower) and it catches your eye in the northeast quadrant of a city that is otherwise relatively free of skyscrapers. The tower, which was under construction during the 2011 earthquake, emerged from the disaster unscathed, giving it the potential to symbolize Japan's recovery from past traumas. Opened in May 2012, the city's TV and radio broadcasting beacon is popular for its twin observation decks, especially the higher of the two, Tembo Galleria, a 1,476-foot-high glassed-in balcony that puts the city's jumbo HD flat-screens to shame for its views of eye-catching grandeur. The floor plan of the indoor balcony somehow conjures the illusion that visitors are walking across the sky. More than a million people visited Sky Tree during its first week of operation. Lines will stay as monumental as that for years to come, so block out more than two hours if you want to get to the top. Tokyo Sky Tree Station, tokyo-skytree.jp/en. Adults from $25 plus an additional $12 to go to the highest observation deck, Tembo Galleria; kids 6-11 from $18, plus $6 for higher deck.
Make It a Day Trip: The tower is part of the Tokyo Sky Tree complex, which, at its base, is connected to a major eponymous train station and which also includes the new Sumida Aquarium (the country's largest indoor tank), showcasing 10,000 mostly Pacific-based sea creatures that you're unlikely to ever see Stateside, including several fur seals. The Sky Tree complex also has a planetarium and plenty of restaurants and shops selling souvenirs.
Brooklyn Bridge Park Pool
Brooklyn, New York
Both the Lower Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty reveal their finest sides from a slight remove, namely, across the East River at the three-year old Brooklyn Bridge Park, an 85-acre waterfront archipelago that consists of a half-dozen grassy plazas. In summer 2012, the city opened an aboveground, 3.5-foot-deep public pool a stone's throw from the 129-year old bridge. If the 30-foot-by-50-foot pool gets crowded, cut across the trees to one of the benches set among grass slopes dotted with public artworks, a refurbished 1920s carousel in a pavilion by architect Jean Nouvel, and roving ice cream vendors. The plan is to keep the pool open for the next five summers, at least, meaning plenty of chances to catch a sunset over Manhattan's new One World Trade Center. 334 Furman St., brooklynbridgepark.org.
Make It a Day Trip: Opt for a (free) walk across the Brooklyn Bridge [LM5] to take in the glorious views of Manhattan's skyscape. Then explore the Brooklyn neighborhoods of DUMBO and Cobble Hill. Time your visit to catch the sunset over the Statue of Liberty, then linger to witness Manhattan light up at night.
London, United Kingdom
Locals have called London's monument for the 2012 Summer Olympics many things: the Helter-Skelter, the Colossus of Stratford (which refers to the neighborhood's name), and—our favorite—the Eyeful Tower. But the official name of this trumpet-shaped, tomato-red, stainless-steel monument is ArcelorMittal Orbit, designed by Anish Kapoor (the artist behind the so-called Millennium Bean in Chicago's Grant Park) and architect Cecil Balmond. The highest sculpture in Britain, the 37-story monument is taller than the Statue of Liberty. Its 300-foot high observation deck allows visitors to peer into the 193-foot-high Olympic Stadium next door. After the closing ceremonies of the Games, the tubular tower was temporarily shuttered while the Olympic Village is re-developed into a sports center for the general public, along with a planned museum dedicated to the three Olympics that London has hosted. In the meantime, the structure will remain a landmark seen far and wide. 2012 Olympic Park, Stratford, arcelormittalorbit.com.
Make It a Day Trip: London Walks, one of the city's premier tour groups, offers daily tours of the Olympic Park and surrounding area, before, during, and after the Games. Learn about the interesting art galleries and start-up restaurants that have popped up in the past few years as the area renovates. walks.com.