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Welcome Dallas CityPASS!

Dallas

We are pleased to announce that Dallas, Texas, is joining the CityPASS program on May 15. A Dallas CityPASS ticket booklet will save visitors 41 percent off combined admission to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Reunion Tower GeO-Deck, a choice between the Dallas Zoo and The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, and a choice between the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum and the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden.

This will be the second CityPASS program in Texas, following Houston, which debuted in 2008. Dallas CityPASS booklets will retail for $44 for adults, $30 for children, ages 3-12. Passes, which can be purchased online or at any of the CityPASS partner attractions listed above, are valid for nine consecutive days, beginning with the first day of use. Visitors who use all of the booklet’s tickets will save $30 on combined admission to the included attractions.

Dallas CityPASS joins New York City, San Francisco, Chicago and more than half a dozen other powerhouse tourism destinations as an official CityPASS city. For more than 17 years, CityPASS, the company that packages discounted, prepaid admission to a city or region’s top attractions, has been offering premier products with significant savings for travelers.

 

 

A View from the Top - What Can You See from North America’s Tallest Buildings?

What is it about looking out on the city from a sky-high vantage point that we love? It lets us be a spectator of the space we live in. We can see the streets, and the people streaming through them, like lines in a book. For once, we’re able to behold something immense and complex like a city, right in front of us.

In this article, we’ll be walking you through some of the best attractions CityPASS has to offer, and what you can expect to see when you get there. So take a deep breath, step in the elevator, and ask the operator for the 100th-something floor, because we’re about to look at some wicked views. Readers with a fear of heights should proceed with caution.

360 Chicago

First stop is an attraction formerly known as the John Hancock Observatory, but which is now called 360 Chicago. At 100 stories and 1,127 feet, you can see up to four states, and - you guessed it - a 360-degree view of the Chicago cityscape. You’ll have a terrific view of some of the most well-known buildings in the city, such as the Aon Center, the Trump Tower and the Willis Tower.

Keep looking to your left and the buildings stop abruptly at a beach and lakefront. Alongside downtown Chi-town is blue, serene Lake Michigan, reaching out to what seems to be the end of the Earth. Jutting out into the lake is the historic Chicago Navy Pier, where you’ll see the Ferris wheel and other amusement park rides illuminated at night. (By the way, this is one of the best locations to see 4th of July fireworks.)

People who’ve been to 360 Chicago have said the view is wonderful both at night and the daytime. But at sunset, you get to see the long shadows of the city buildings cast onto the lake, which is certainly a site not to be missed.

SkyDeck Chicago

SkyDeck is another crucial CityPASS attraction in Chicago you won’t want to miss. It’s the second tallest building in the country, and has the highest observation deck. Like 360 Chicago, it provides a panoramic view of the city, up to 50 miles away, where you can see Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana.

SkyDeck offers a view of a plethora of famous landmarks. You can even wave to your friends at 360 Chicago from there! If it’s nighttime, look close by, and you’ll see the Water Tower (which survived the Chicago Fire) lighting up. Another sight more visible at night is the Jane Byrne Interchange. See those roads looping in and around each other like a bowl of spaghetti? Well, the “Spaghetti Bowl” is in fact the nickname for this intricate interchange!

Ready for a view that’s a little more “far out”? There’s a section of the SkyDeck called the “Ledge” – a glass box that extends several feet out from the building itself, and which creates a surreal viewing experience.

At SkyDeck, you’ll also be able to see many other attractions, like United Center and Soldier Field. The list goes on. As a fun activity, bring a checklist with you to see how many landmarks you can spot!

Empire State Building

"Sleepless in Seattle" fans, your dreams are about to come true! (Note: The New York CityPASS does not include Meg Ryan or Tom Hanks as part of its Empire State Building Experience.)

The Empire State Building is one of the best places to see the city that never sleeps. This building has two views - one from the 86th floor (main deck), and one from the 102nd floor (top deck) - and both are majestic.

This New York City landmark is an essential for anyone who has not experienced the city, because it offers breathtaking views of almost all its notable attractions. From the main deck, you’ll be able to see that 1.317 squared miles patch of lush green known as Central Park. You’ll also see the Hudson and East Rivers encircling Manhattan, the Brooklyn Bridge, and even America’s Great Lady, the Statue of Liberty!

Remember, CityPASS allows you both daytime and nighttime admission. If you go to the Empire State building at night, and look to Midtown, you’ll see one spot glowing more vibrant than the rest - Times Square. Times Square is a sight to behold while walking through it - full of bright, flashing billboards, looming storefronts, and performance artists (Naked Cowboy, anyone?). But from above, it becomes one of the most brilliant decorations of the New York City landscape.

Top of the Rock

Complementing the Empire State Building is Rockefeller Center’s “Top of the Rock,” where you’ll get an embracing view of the city on the 67th, 69th, and 70th floors of the building. Some visitors have said you can get an even clearer perspective of Central Park, the Chrysler Building, and other sites from Top of the Rock than the Empire State Building. This may be due to its location being slightly more north, which also allows a better view of northern Manhattan. In fact, looking through the wall of glass panels or the viewing binoculars, there’s almost nothing about New York City you can’t see from the Top of the Rock’s 360 view.

Here’s another traveler’s tip: if you want to see Manhattan in its fullest - unobstructed by other visitors in front of you - visit in the morning (8-10 AM) or later at night (10-11 PM), when it’s much less crowded. You’ll get a calming north view of the morning traffic on the George Washington Bridge, seeing everyone heading to work, or get to watch Times Square light up at night like a firecracker, when the city becomes alive again.

Of course, there is one important landmark you’re able to see from Top of the Rock which the Empire State Building does not allow…The Empire State Building itself!

CN Tower

If you’re flying over Toronto, you’ll see one tall, skinny structure standing above the others - the CN Tower. This structure is the third tallest tower in the world, and is perfect for the adventurous traveler.

Normally, we go to the tops of tall buildings to see the views in front of us. But what about below? At 1,120 feet high, the CN Tower has a glass floor that lets you look at the city beneath your feet! Ready for the next step? At 1,168 feet, there’s the EdgeWalk, where you can walk around the edge of the main pod, tethered to a rail system. (No hands, Ma!). But if you’re a more tame traveler, there’s also the SkyPod and LookOut, which do not include pulleys or rail systems of any kind! (Note that the EdgeWalk is not included in the CityPASS admission, but costs $195.)

The CN Tower offers spectacular views from these observation points. Toronto sports fans are in luck, as you’ll see two of the city’s major stadiums: the Rogers Centre (MLB and CFL) and the Air Canada Centre (NHL and NBA). Views like this will give a whole new meaning to the “nose-bleed” section of sports games.

One of the most obvious sights from the CN Tower is the great Lake Ontario - big, blue, and dotted with boats in the summer. In the western section of Lake Ontario, you can also see ferries traveling back and forth between the mainland and the Toronto Islands, a small but well-known recreation destination. If it’s a clear day, the CN Tower lets visitors see another famous destination you may consider stopping at on your travels - Niagara Falls!

The sights mentioned in this article are just a few of those available from the top of these amazing structures. We’ve given you some hints at what you’ll see, but there’s no substitute for the real thing. If you want to see New York, Chicago, Toronto, or any other city from unique perspectives, you’ll just have to go to the top of them, and see for yourself!

What are your favorite viewing experiences from these buildings? Have we missed some sights for any of them? Let us know in the comments!

10 Cool Things to Do in Philly

If you visit Philadelphia, you know the first things your friends will ask: Did you see the Liberty Bell? It’s easy to find, just across the street from Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed. But there’s so much more to the city than just a cracked dinger. The next time you’re in Philly, here are 10 memorable, fun activities to help you fall head over heels for the City of Brotherly Love.

1) Pay homage to a founding father: One of the top Philadelphia CityPASS attractions, Franklin Institute explores the legacy of one of our nation’s most brilliant founding fathers and Philly native, Benjamin Franklin. The Institute is one of the country’s best science museums. If you’re a space geek, you’ll love the observatory’s telescopes where guests can view most planets and bright stars, star clusters and a few galaxies. Many already know about Franklin’s interest in electricity (no, he didn’t discover it), and one permanent exhibit lets visitors become a conductor for static charge, and to see the electrical impulses inside their own muscles. With a CityPASS ticket, guests can see the Fels Planetarium show at no extra charge. On May 9, the Institute will debut a stunning Genghis Khan exhibit.

Franklin Institute

2) Let the juice from a cheesesteak dribble down your chin: This iconic Philly feast is a long, crusty roll packed with thinly sliced, sautéed ribeye beef and melted cheese. Its other toppings often include fried onions, sautéed mushrooms, and hot or sweet peppers. John’s Roast Pork is one of the top purveyors, having been a favorite of local dockworkers since the 1930s. While you’re there, check out its roast pork sandwich too.

3) Get in touch with your whimsical side: Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens (PMG) is best described as a playful, three-dimensional, mural maze. Outside PMG is a garden of mosaic creations by artist Isaiah Zagar. Over 14 years, Zagar excavated tunnels, sculpted walls, and tiled and grouted a wandering, 3,000-square-foot wonderland. Inside, there are folk art statues, bicycle wheels, colorful glass, handmade tiles, and thousands of glittering mirrors. It’s dazzling and different.

Photo credit: Alex Thomson - Magic Gardens

4) Marvel at a masterpiece: If your taste in art leans toward colorful, captivating Post-Impressionist and Modern paintings, The Barnes has a fine collection of more than 3,000 works, including Renoirs, Cézannes, Matisses, Picassos, Modiglianis, and Van Goghs. In addition it has an impressive array of textiles, metalwork, decorative objects, African sculpture, Native American ceramics and jewelry, and even some Pennsylvania German furniture. Book tickets online in advance, because it frequently sells out.

5) Take in a ball game: At Citizens Bank Park, there are no bad seats. Known for its classic, old ballpark ambiance, great views and terrific food, this is a great place to spend an afternoon rooting for the Phillies. Or, I suppose you can root for the visiting team if you’re up for some friendly heckling. Stop off at "Bulls BBQ" and get your picture taken with Phillies great Greg "the Bull" Luzinski. There’s also an amazing kids section for the kids, full of games, a slide and tubes to explore. It’s truly one of the best ballparks in the country.

Photo credit: jfleischmann - Philly cheesesteak at John's Roast Pork

6) Go to prison: The grand, foreboding Eastern State Penitentiary provides a grim, sobering glimpse back at the city’s history of crime and punishment. It’s also a popular Philadelphia CityPASS attraction. Built in 1829, it housed infamous criminals such as Al Capone. It’s mostly an outdoor, audio walking tour narrated by actor Steve Buscemi. Located in downtown Philadelphia, the tour includes views of the cellblocks, solitary confinement cells, the hospital, death row and Scarface’s cell.

7) Hike the trail and climb the stairs: Schuylkill River Trail is a great path for jogging, bike riding, rollerblading or an easy stroll. Along the trail into the city, you will pass sculpture parks and enjoy views of the river. One stretch takes along Boathouse Row, which is a landmark of 19th century boathouses where rowers train and colorful regattas are held. At night, boathouse lights cast a gorgeous reflection on the water. Near the end of the trail, you can run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, just like Rocky Balboa.

Schuylkill River

8) Enjoy a local ale: Microbrew lovers will find a garden of joy at Yard’s Brewing on N. Delaware Avenue. These are renowned, serious brewers drawing gorgeous British-style ales including IPAs and stouts. The lunches are reasonably priced and you might want to try the hearty bison chili, featuring meat from animals that feed on the brewery’s spent grain. Now that’s recycling.

Eastern State Penitentiary

9) Tour a treasury of oddities: The Mütter Museum doesn’t shy away from displaying its jolting collection of medical specimens, including pieces of Albert Einstein’s brain. It has beautifully preserved collections of anatomical curiosities, models and medical instruments. One of its displays has 2,374 inhaled or swallowed foreign bodies that Dr. Chevalier Jackson extracted from the throats, esophaguses, and lungs of his patients during his nearly 75-year practice. If you don’t find that hard to swallow, you’re in for a treat.

10) Indulge in a doughnuts: I don’t know how hungry you’ll feel after looking at jars of peculiarities, but if you have to make a munchies stop, go to Federal Donuts for outstanding doughnuts and fried chicken. Don’t be shocked if there’s a line. Their flavors range from the traditional to the daring (grapefruit brulee? Bring it on!). And there’s nothing like some fine, fried chicken with a galaxy of glazes. No room for gluten-sensitive up in here.

Photo credit: Garrett Ziegler - Pumpkin spice latte donut, Federal Donuts, Philadelphia

Brewin’ U.S.A.: The Nation’s Best Brewery Tours by Region

Nation's Best Brewery Tours New breweries take flight overnight, boasting sensational flavors, but every lager and pale ale has its own uniquely vibrant story of creation. That’s what makes a cold one so special. Pull up a bar stool at your favorite local watering hole, grab an ice cold oat soda, and take a gulp of CityPASS’ top breweries by region. read more »

Flower Shows Bound to Brighten Winter Weekends

A friend in North Carolina recently shared, via social media, a picture of daffodil shoots emerging in his yard. It will be weeks before those shoots mature into blooms, but their presence is encouraging. This time of year can be hard. The cheery brightness of the holiday season is past, and, for many, the worst winter weather is upon us (or threatening). Sure, warmer climates offer a respite, but the difficulty and expense of reaching a sunny, warm locale may prove prohibitive. read more »

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