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.
SkyPoint Climb and Observatory Deck
Gold Coast, Australia
Talk about the high point of a trip to Australia. In January, the country opened SkyPoint, its tallest external building walk, located about 500 miles north of Sydney on the Gold Coast. To climb SkyPoint, first hop an elevator to the 77th floor of the Q1 Resort, which looms above a 25-mile-stretch of flour-fine-sand and turquoise-blue sea. Make sure you're wearing rubber-soled shoes for the 298 stairs, which rise to a soaring spire. While wearing a jacket harnessed to the building, you'll feel a rush as you spiral 360 degrees, taking in views that range from the surf churning off the Pacific to the impossibly green canopy of rain forest that's just a 30-minute bike ride away. Before you know it, you're 885 feet above sea level, peering down on the neighborhood called Surfer's Paradise, with its epic breakpoints and a shimmering network of canals that wend their way around a range of high-rise resort towers. Best done at twilight, this is how buildings were meant to be climbed. Surfers Paradise Blvd., Surfers Paradise, 253/779-8490, skypoint.com.au. Ninety-minute climb: adults $88, kids 12-15 $68. General admission: adults from $21, kids 12-15 from $12.
Make It a Day Trip: The Gold Coast, near Brisbane airport, never gets too cold—thanks to the South Pacific current—so outdoor activities are always on tap. Pick up surfing through some classes, or shred if you can. Rent a bike and head to the mountains.
LeMay-America's Car Museum
Before millionaire Harold LeMay died in 2000, he put plans into place to transfer the bulk of his singular, Guinness-record-breaking automobile collection to a then-unbuilt exhibition space. When his LeMay-America Car Museum finally opened in May 2012, it instantly became the country's largest automobile shrine. Underneath a corrugated aluminum roof that gleams like a fender, this sprawling complex displays more than 700 iconic cars, trucks, and motorcycles—such as a 1930 Duesenberg Model J, a 1951 Studebaker, and 1969 Ford Thunderbird—across its three-and-a-half acres of floor space. Feeling less like a gallery than like a well-appointed sales showroom, the museum will host upcoming themed exhibitions, such as ones on iconic British vehicles from the 1960s and racecars that lapped the Indianapolis 500. During warm weather, the pretty grounds outside will do double-duty as an additional display area. 2702 East D. St., 253/779-8490, lemaymuseum.org, adults $14, kids 5-12 from $8.
Make It a Day Trip: Take the hour-long train ride from Seattle, passing lush mountain-and-sea views. Then walk the few blocks from the Amtrak station to the museum, beside the Tacoma Dome. After your museum visit, hop the Tacoma Link Light Rail downtown to see the city's next-best collection: The Tacoma Art Museum, which features Pacific Northwest works, some modern, some ancient, including the premier permanent collection of native son glass artist Dale Chihuly.
National Museum of Organized Crime & Law Enforcement
Las Vegas, Nevada
In 1950-51, federal hearings blew the lid off organized crime during testimony at a Las Vegas courthouse. Just this year, the historic building re-opened following a $42 million renovation and is now officially dubbed the National Museum of Organized Crime & Law Enforcement. Today it's less dry-as-dust court testimony and more pop-culture fantasy that draws crowds (experience the life of a criminal yourself by taking part in a simulated police line-up). Stories of real mobsters are mixed with movie legends, and sometimes it's hard to tell where Al Capone's legacy ends and The Godfather begins. About 41,000 square feet of exhibits include grim mementos of the mafia's violent subculture, such as a 38-caliber Colt revolver recovered from the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, a notorious Prohibition-era gangland battle in Chicago that killed seven people. But visitors can also gawk at pop culture memories, such as the Hawaiian shirt donned by TV mobster Tony Soprano. 300 Stewart Ave., themobmuseum.org, adults, $19.95; children ages 5-17 and students ages 18-23 with a valid ID, $13.95; seniors ages 65 and up, $15.95; Nevada residents, $10.
Make It a Day Trip: It's Vegas, baby, need we say more? That said, if you're feeling paralyzed by the choices, start with a Sin City walkabout. Head round the corner and stroll two blocks to the Fremont Street Experience, four blocks of the city's best concentrations of fashion shops and children's arcades all gathered together under a 90-foot-high transparent canopy. Expect an hourly light show in the evening.