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Hidden Gems Around North America: Let CityPASS Take You There

For adventure junkies and treasure hunters alike, the time has come to embark on the ultimate quest. Whether you're a curious parent or a retiree looking for adventure, CityPASS attractions offer many exciting gems. From Atlanta to Toronto, every city has attractions full of hidden wonders and worthwhile treasures. Explore North America's secrets and find your inner pirate.

Helmet WallThe Helmet Wall

The Helmet Wall at Atlanta's College Football Hall of Fame

Any die-hard football fanatic will have to put this gem on their "must-see" list. Visitors can customize their adventure at this ultimate interactive experience with their favorite college football team! RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is ingrained in your ticket; when you enter the building, you'll be welcomed with huge screens displaying realistic images and sounds of your team.

But, the most amazing treasure to be found is the wondrous, luminous Helmet Wall. A three-story jaw-dropper, this wall is covered in helmets of college football teams. How do you know which helmet belongs to your favorite team? Well, with RFID, your team's helmet will light up so you can spot it right away. Atlanta's College Football Hall of Fame, which opened in 2014, is a futuristic take on traditional fandom that you'll have to see to believe.

Chicago's Field Museum’s “Inside Ancient Egypt” Exhibit

Founded in 1893, The Field Museum is a world-famous attraction that continues to thrive thanks to the support of the community. Most famous for Sue, the most complete and well-preserved T-Rex fossil ever unearthed, The Field Museum has many gems waiting to be discovered.

One of the most exciting is the "Inside Ancient Egypt" exhibit. This wonderful exhibit holds one of the largest collections of mummies in the entire nation. A three-story mastaba contains two rooms of Unis-Ankh, the son of a Pharaoh. It's a 5,000 year old tomb! Along with the Book of the Dead, the mummified dead, and even a bronze sculpture of a cat goddess Bastet (believed to contain a mummified cat), there is an ancient Egyptian marketplace to explore. Jewelry, ceramics, and artifacts represent everyday Egyptian life, before they were wrapped up in death. Discover the ways of the Ancient Egyptians, and if you get scared, call your mummy.

Topiary Animals at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden

A 66-acre paradise featuring 19 pristine gardens is home to a wonderful collection of flowers and plants alike! The seasonal festivities and children's adventure gardens are entertainment enough, but an even greater treasure hunt awaits…the hidden topiary miracles scattered throughout the garden!

Beautiful yellow and purple pansies make the tail of a giant green peacock. Poised and statuesque horses sculpted from foliage protect the garden with silent neighs. A topiary version of Ferdinand the Bull from the famous children's book "The Story of Ferdinand" brings a lovable character to life with the help of artistic gardening. Visit the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden and prepare for your breath to be taken away.

Eskimo and Inuit Art at the San Francisco De Young Museum

If you think of yourself as being 'cultured,' take a trip to the De Young Museum in San Francisco and discover both ancient and modern art of various cultures throughout the world. “Yua, Spirit of the Arctic: Eskimo and Inuit Art from the Collection of Thomas G. Fowler” is a treasure that cannot be overlooked.

In Eskimo/Inuit culture, it's a common belief that everything on Earth, from animals to inanimate objects, carries a soul that must be honored. This installation includes nearly 100 objects ranging from 300 B.C. to the contemporary era. Anything from charms, kayak models, dolls, and stone sculptures made with whalebone and ivory, are available to gawk at in the De Young Museum.

Casa Loma Conservatory

The Winding Tunnels and Corridors of Toronto's Casa Loma

Travel back in time and head to Toronto's famous historical attraction, Casa Loma, the only castle in North America, and a grand one at that. Sir Henry Mill Pellatt, a Canadian financer who at one time controlled 25% of Canada's economy, spent over a million dollars on this luxurious home.

Explore 180,000 square feet worth of rooms filled with expensive furniture, a secret staircase, and an underground, only a few of the wonderful adventures waiting at Casa Loma. What's at the end of the tunnel? You'll have to find out for yourself. Don't get lost!

Rare Pygmy Hippos at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo

The #1 Zoo for Kids in the United States is home to more than 1000 animals on 60 fun-filled acres! A cute and rare treasure to be seen is the Pigmy hippo. Native to West Africa, the pygmy hippo is the hippo's smaller cousin. Zuri, the baby girl, is one of 30 pygmy hippos in captivity in North America. It's estimated that there are only 3000 in the wild. Come see a rare gem sparkle with all her cuteness at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo.

Dallas joins CityPASS for big-time fun

You don’t need big dollars to tackle the Big D, not with CityPASS on your team.

Dallas is the latest addition to the CityPASS family, which gives ticket holders discounted, front-line access to many of the city’s must-see destinations.

As America’s ninth-largest city and the top tourist destination in Texas, Dallas has the best shopping in the Southwest, some of the best hotels, and year-round marquee sporting events. Some might be surprised to learn that Dallas also has the largest urban arts district in the nation, and 14 different entertainment districts. That’s why it’s called the Big D — it’s big enough for every taste.

Get a birds-eye view

Use your first Dallas CityPASS ticket to take an elevated view of the sprawling metropolis from the Reunion Tower GeO-Deck. Resembling a giant steel and glass lollipop 470-feet high, the tower’s GeO-Deck does much more than provide a city vista. Its high-definition telescopes on the outdoor deck and its zoom cameras inside give visitors a surprisingly clear view of the city’s famous landmarks. It even has interactive Halo touch screens that allow you to create your own lightshow.

A few floors higher is Wolfgang Puck’s fine-dining, Asian-fusion restaurant, Five Sixty, which rotates in the evenings. But for lunch and light meals, Cloud Nine Café offers a rotating meal experience during the afternoon.

Explore a science and nature wonderland

At the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Big D stands for "big discoveries." From below the earth’s crust to as far into space as you can imagine, the Perot Museum offers an amazing exploration of our physical world. With 11 permanent exhibit halls and revolving special attractions, there truly is something for everyone.

Enjoy an indoor nature walk in the Discovering Life Hall, or burrow into an “underground” crawl space revealing root systems and subterranean animals beneath the Piney Woodlands. Next, take a three-dimensional animated journey through the solar system — including a rest stop on Mars.

There’s an Innovation and Invention Hall that spotlights the advances made by North Texas engineers over the years, and other halls focus on the state’s rich history of minerals and energy. For kids, there’s a hands-on dinosaur dig inspired by real fossil digs from the Big Bend area of Texas, and an Art Lab. The museum also showcases fossil finds, such as the razor-toothed Tyrannosaurus rex and the immense, plant-eating Alamosaurus.

Talk to the koalas

There are zoos and then there is the Dallas version, stretching out over 106 acres. The Dallas Zoo is home to more than 2,000 animals; highlights include its famous Koala Walkabout exhibit, as well as Giants of the Savanna, where you can enjoy watching elephants and giraffes in a natural savanna grasslands landscape.

Naturally, there is a wide assortment of amphibians, reptiles (including 70 species of venomous creatures), birds and all the mammals you expect to find. This summer, buckle your squirming kids in for a wild trip back in time for Giants of the Jurassic, an special exhibit running through September 7, which features more than 20 roaring animatronic dinosaurs and an interactive puppet show.

Even the gardens are huge in Big D

A gorgeous, colorful break from the urban hustle and bustle is the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, which is located a few minutes from downtown Dallas. With 66-acres of manicured gardens and groves of pecan trees, magnolias, crape myrtles, cherry trees and azaleas, visitors will feel peaceful and refreshed. Check the website to see what’s in bloom this season, and there’s always a festival or special activity taking place. There’s even a new eight-acre Children’s Adventure Garden, where little sprouts can learn about birds, bugs and plant life.

Presidential decision-making, behind the scenes

At the George W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum, CityPASS ticketholders can examine some of the most notable moments in our nation’s history. From seeing the steel from the fallen World Trade Center to reviewing a montage of 44 U.S. Presidents, it’s a unique look into the Oval Office. Visitors can experience the interactive Decision Points Theater, which explores the President’s decision-making process during major crises.

Relive a fateful day in American history

The Sixth Floor Museum explores one of our nation’s darkest chapters, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The exhibit, located in the former Texas School Book Depository, has hundreds of historic television and radio broadcasts, films, photographs and artifacts. It includes the sniper’s perch, from where it is believed that the President was shot on November 22, 1963. The museum doesn’t just focus on the fateful day, but also includes a look at the life of President Kennedy, his presidency, and the aftermath of his assassination. It’s not to be missed.

Animal All-Stars: Where to Go to See Famous Zoo and Aquarium Residents in the U.S.

It takes willpower to keep your gaze away from the magazine stands filled with celebrities and juicy gossip. People want to know what is going on outside of their idol's latest movie or music video, but you can only get so much from the pictures and articles in magazines.

However, for many years, there have been stars willing to expose their lives to the public. These famous figures allow fans to watch them right outside their window! Animal all-stars have been soaking up the spotlight in a variety of cities throughout the nation. From the Dallas Zoo's Golden Girl Elephants to Myrtle the Green Sea Turtle in Boston's New England Zoo, there are plenty of celebrities you can see without getting pummeled by security or pushed down by other "number one fans."

Get to know some of the most famous finned and four-legged residents of various zoos and aquariums throughout the U.S. Let's take a sneak peek into the lives of some of America's wilder stars.

New England Aquatic All Stars at the New England Aquarium – Boston, MA

It's not very often (if at all) that you get to pet or feed one of your favorite actors. If you're heading over one of Boston’s premier tourist attractions, the New England Aquarium, however, you can pet, feed, and get up-close and personal with some first-class superstars.

Hoover, a famous talking harbor seal, was a charming young fellow who made the ladies swoon with his Boston accent. He could say things like "How are ya?" and "Get Outta Here," along with his own name "Hoover." Hoover lived a long life and is now swimming in the Great Beyond, but his descendants are slowly making their way up the ladder of fame. Hoover's grandson Chacoda is learning how to speak just like his grandpa did!

Another Hall-of-Famer residing at the lovely New England Aquarium is the 80-year Myrtle. Myrtle the green sea turtle spends her time swimming around the Giant Ocean Tank, a four-story exhibit made to wow and amaze. If you head to the Yawkey Coral Reef Center up at the top, you could get the chance to feed Myrtle a head of lettuce! Make a splash with some friendly seals one-on-one, or watch Myrtle the green sea turtle swim and sway at the New England Aquarium in Boston.

Ink the Octopus at the Seattle Aquarium – Seattle, WA

Hey! Maybe you saw that funny video clip where an octopus was seen trying to make a break for it, flinging his tentacles over the top of his glass enclosure? The Seattle Aquarium owes its internet fame to the viral YouTube video starring Ink the Octopus. In this video, Ink scales his tank in what appeared to have been an attempt to get out. His slippery tentacles pull himself nearly up and over the enclosure, but a staff member gently stops him before he gets a chance to run away.

Seattle Aquarium staff later clarified that, in all actuality, the loveable eight-tentacled critter had just been moved to a new spot and was just scoping out his new terrain. There haven't been any reports of Ink attempting a second “escape,” so for now, you can see him enjoying his new home at the Seattle Aquarium.

Although Ink may be the Aquarium’s most famous resident, there are so many other beautiful marine creatures that Seattle visitors can get acquainted with, such as breathtaking moon jellies, fuzzy fur seals, and playful sea otters.

Tony the Southern White Rhino at the Philadelphia Zoo – Philadelphia, PA

At the Philadelphia Zoo, there is a rambunctious rhino by the name of Tony strutting his stuff on the African Plains. Tony arrived at the Zoo on May 4th, 2006. On a normal day, you can catch him chomping on some Savannah grass or rolling in the mud. Tony is a Southern White Rhinoceros and is considered a "near threatened" species. This 4,500-pound gentle giant shares an enclosure with two female zebras, Laura and Suzie.

In addition to his size and status as an animal whose species is nearly threatened by extinction, Tony has a claim to fame tied to an actual celebrity: He happens to be a huge fan of comedian and television talk show host, Ellen DeGeneres. Zookeepers claim that whenever the Ellen show is playing, Tony will peek his head around his wall to watch the show inside the keeper’s area. Zookeepers also mentioned that rhinos do not have the best sense of sight, but make up for it with a keen sense of hearing. It’s likely Ellen’s voice and jokes that have made Tony such a “big” fan.

A must-see Philly attraction, the Philadelphia Zoo is the oldest zoo in the country, having established its charter in 1859 – the same year New York’s Central Park Zoo opened its gates. The actual opening of the zoo, however, was delayed until 1874 due to the ongoing American Civil War.

Blanco the Alligator at the Houston Zoo – Houston, TX

One of the many remarkable creatures that calls the Houston Zoo home, Blanco is an all-American alligator with a unique skin condition known as leucism. Although Blanco is white like an albino animal, he is not considered as such because his eyes are blue instead of red and he has a reduction in all types of pigment, not just melanin.

A not-so ragin’ Cajun, Blanco hails from Louisiana and was brought to Houston in 1994. Today, Blanco is 21 years old, eats small rodents and a yearly turkey, and can be seen hanging loose at the Houston Zoo.

The Golden Girls Elephants at the Dallas Zoo – Dallas, TX

If you want to see loveable, beautiful, and intelligent stars check out the Golden Girl Elephants at the Dallas Zoo. Just like their human counterparts, The Golden Girl Elephants at the Dallas Zoo's Giants of the Savannah Habitat are a matriarchal group of old, but young-at-heart ladies who spend their golden years in good company.

Mama (born 1970) is warm-hearted and wise. She's got a love for sugar cane and eats neatly like any proper lady should. Gypsy (born 1982) steals the show with her rowdy antics and attention-grabbing personality. Jenny (born 1976) is a regular fashionista; she loves a pampering pedicure but is just as playful as any tomboy. Congo (born 1978) and Kamba (born 1980) are best buds taking it easy in the Savannah habitat after their long haul in circus life. For a not-to-be-missed Dallas attraction, take a walk on the wild side and spend some quality time with “the girls” at the Dallas Zoo.

Capture some truly candid moments, feed some friendly sea creatures, or simply watch and enjoy the wonderful attractions these zoos and aquariums have to offer. Now that you know the names and stories of some wild celebrities, look to CityPASS to get you up close and personal with some of these captivating critters.

Win 4 Dallas CityPASS Booklets!

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.

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

View From the Top 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. read more »


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