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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!

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.

You can WIN four Dallas CityPASS booklets by entering our giveaway! Click here to enter.

Dallas CityPASS 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. read more »

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 »

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