We wouldn’t dare rank our nation’s natural assets—who could choose between yosemite and Yellowstone? But the man-made attractions? You bet. Behold, our picks for the country’s most epic buildings, monuments, & engineering feats, with advice for navigating them smarter, better, & with fewer crowds.
This gravity-defying glass bridge, perched 4,000 feet above the floor of the Grand Canyon, on its western rim, has hosted more than 250,000 visitors a year since it opened four years ago-and the knee-buckling privilege doesn't come cheap. The only way to access the Skywalk is via Grand Canyon West, a tourist area run by the Hualapai tribe on land located outside the Grand Canyon National Park. The most affordable ticket option is the Legacy Gold package, an all-day pass that includes a meal, a tour, and tribal demonstrations along with the Skywalk ticket. grandcanyonwest.com, $87.
14. Millennium Park, Chicago, IL
This 24.5-acre park in the heart of downtown Chicago opened in 2004, and is a wonderland of cutting-edge architecture and design. Playful, family-friendly, and free attractions include the Cloud Gate sculpture, which reflects the downtown skyline and visitors' faces like a series of fun-house mirrors, and Crown Fountain, a multimedia installation that pairs splash-worthy sprays of water with 50-foot-tall video portraits. millennium.org
15. Fallingwater, Mill Run, PA
Ninety minutes southeast of Pittsburgh, Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece of indoor-outdoor architectural harmony draws 150,000 annual visitors attracted by the spectacle of three cantilevered levels made of concrete and sandstone that jut gracefully over a cascading 30-foot waterfall. Fallingwater celebrates its 75th anniversary this year with a series of special events. To experience the house at its most serene, aim for early May, when the redbud trees are in bloom. fallingwater.org, from $20.
16. Fenway Park, Boston, MA
The oldest major-league baseball stadium in the country (Chicago's Wrigley Field is two years younger), Fenway Park turns 100 in 2012-and a 50-minute daily guided tour, which runs every hour on the hour between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on nongame days, celebrates its history. Newbies will want to stop by a Fan Services booth and ask for a free welcome message on the stadium's original, manually-operated scoreboard. If you're one of the first five to arrive at the booth, 35,000 people will see your name in lights-just like Yaz. mlb.com, tour $12.
Looking for the ultimate long-weekend escape? Relax! Budget Travel has done all the homework. Whether you're craving one more trip to the beach or are searching for the perfect end-of-summer festival, getting away has never been quicker, easier—or more affordable.