St. Louis, Missouri
Gateway Arch and Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
The 630 foot-tall Gateway Arch is the tallest man-made monument in the United States Its huge curved structure weighs 17,246 tons and is made up of 886 tons of shiny stainless steel Visitors can take a four-minute tram ride to the top in a tiny “pod” that only fits five people at a time Once atop the arch, visitors can look out the small windows over the Mississippi River and the St. Louis area On a clear day, you can see almost 30 miles in each direction The south leg of the arch is home to The Museum of Westward Expansion, which has exhibits of life in the 1800s, Indian Peace Medals, teepees, covered wagons and items from the Lewis & Clark Expedition Robotic figures tell stories about life in the early days of the frontier. Catch the movie Monument to the Dream at The Odyssey Theater to hear the story of the building of the arch Don’t forget to earn a Junior Ranger Badge at either the arch or the museum -- or both!
Gateway Arch Riverboats
From the St. Louis Riverfront below the Gateway Arch, head out on the Mississippi River on a sixty-minute riverboat cruise with a National Park Service ranger. Learn about the history of this famous American river while traveling on a 19th century model steamboat. Steamboats are used mainly on lakes and rivers, using paddlewheels that turn like wheels to propel the boat down the river The narrated tour tells stories from Mark Twain and what life was like at the time of the steamboats.
This 1300-acre park opened in 1876 and was the site of the 1904 World's Fair It is one of the largest urban parks in the United States, with almost 500 more acres than Central Park in New York City Monuments, historic buildings, wildlife, waterways, a Zoo, Art Museum, History Museum, Science Center and an Opera house are all located within the park. Overlooking the park, is Turtle Playground, home to three large and four small concrete turtles to climb and play on. During the fall, visitors can take a tractor-pulled hayride through the park Facilities for golf, tennis, bicycling, boating, fishing, baseball, ice-skating, jogging and more are available year-round.
The Magic House, St. Louis Children's Museum
This amazing children’s museum has more than 100 activities for kids to enjoy Hands-on exhibits include a school bus, a television news studio, a fishing pond, a grocery store, a diamond mine, a kitchen, and a builder’s workshop It is also equipped with a Fairy Tale Tower with a grand staircase, play gardens, ropes to swing from, mazes, tunnels and sandboxes throughout to keep kids active Stage lovers can perform in a puppet show, try on clothes from the past, play instruments or read poems in Poem Tree Hall Young scientists will enjoy learning about electrostatic energy, magnets, generators and water-power History lovers will enjoy the Star Spangled Center where you can raise the American flag, sign The Declaration of Independence, walk through the Oval Office, vote in an electronic voting booth or ring The Liberty Bell If all this wasn’t enough, there is also an entire room devoted just to bubbles.
Saguaro National Park
Saguaro National Park is an 80,000 acre National Park in the Sonoran Desert of Tucson. The park is named for the more than 1.6 million Saguaro cacti that live in this desert While touring the park you may encounter desert wildlife, rock formations and ancient petroglyphs Pack some water and enjoy one of the many hiking trails and beautiful scenery.
Old Tucson Studios
Old Tucson Studios is a world-famous Western working movie studio recreated to look like the southwest of the late 1800s While visiting the studio, you can take a ride on the C.P. Huntington Train, practice your aim at Dead-Eye Dan’s Shooting Gallery, watch a live show, see a recreation of a western gunfight, or head to the Iron Door Mine Adventure to pan for gold.
Sabino Canyon Recreational Area
Sabino Canyon is cut into the south side of the Santa Catalina Mountains in the Colorado National Forest in Northern Tucson Here, you will experience a variety of wildlife, hiking trails, waterfalls, streams and swimming holes For those who prefer riding to walking, there is a tram available that will take you on a tour through the mountains.
Colossal Cave Mountain Park
This 2000 acre park has crystal-filled caves and is the largest dry underground cave in the world. Take the half-mile guided tour to learn the Cave’s history and geology. There is a legend that there is a hidden treasure from a stagecoach robbery hidden somewhere in the caves Be on the lookout!
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a world-famous zoo, natural history museum and botanical garden, all in one place! This museum is different because you are able to view desert animals in their natural setting through an “invisible fence.” Some of the animals you may come face-to-face with, include: mountain lions, prairie dogs, Javelinas, Gila Monsters, Mexican wolves, ocelots and American Black Bears.
Flandrau Science Observatory at The University of Arizona
Southern Arizona has on average 350 nights of star-viewing every year That is why they call Tucson the “Astronomy Capital of the World.” Flandrau Science Observatory is a great place to watch an astronomy show in the Star Theater On a clear night, you can look at the stars through the 16-inch outdoor public telescope.
Old Pueblo Trolley
Take a ride on Fridays and Saturdays on an antique electric trolley down University Boulevard and historic Fourth Avenue. The one-mile ride is still operated by a uniformed conductor and is only 25 cents on Sundays for a one-way fare.
Pima Air and Space Museum & Aircraft Boneyard
The Pima Air & Space Museum has one of the largest private collections of airplanes in the world The museum has five large airplane hangars with more than 275 aircraft and spacecraft The 177,000 feet of exhibit space also displays more than 125,000 artifacts relating to air travel Take a guided tour of the Aircraft Boneyard on the Davis-Monthan United States Air Force Base where you will see more than 4000 retired military aircraft.
Flathead Valley, Montana
Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is one of the oldest National Parks in the United States. In 2010 the park will celebrate its 100th birthday. The park is named for its glacier-carved landscape and leftover glaciers from the ice ages. Glacier National Park is more than a million acres of forests, alpine meadows, lakes, mountains and valleys. Although Glacier is home to many animals, it contains the largest remaining grizzly bear populations in the United States. Visitors can ride one of Glacier's antique Red Buses for a two hour narrated tour along the Going-to-the-Sun-Road to Logan Pass. Logan Pass is the highest point of the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Here you will find a visitor center and an excellent place to see wildlife. Along the way to Logan Pass you will pass many landmarks, trails, waterfalls, lakes, geological wonders and hiking trails. On the trip back down from Logan Pass, you will drive right up against the wet Weeping Wall. The wall is a natural waterfall that seeps out from the side of the Garden Wall. If you drive too close with the windows down, you are sure to get wet! Don't forget to become a Junior Ranger before leaving the park!
Flathead Lake State Park
Flathead Lake is the largest freshwater lake West of Mississippi. The lake is 28-miles long and up to 15-miles wide. The lake is more than 300 feet deep. It is one of the cleanest lakes of its size and type in the world. Temperature ranges from 36 to 68 degrees. Flathead Lake is a great spot for a picnic or camping on the shore. If you like the water you can go sailing, boating or fishing on the lake. More than 25 species of fish live in the lake! Bring or rent a fishing pole and try and catch one of the trophy-size trout fish.
Wild Horse Island
The southern half of Flathead Lake is part of the Flathead Indian Reservation. In this part of the lake you will find the 2163-acre wildlife sanctuary Wild Horse Island State Park. Wild Horse Island is one of the largest islands in North America. Many years ago local Native American tribes hid their horses on the island to keep them safe. Wild horses still roam free around the island. Wild Horse Island is also home to deer, bears, bighorn sheep and more than 75 types of birds. Visitors can hike around this island and enjoy a great view of the lake.
The National Bison Range
National Bison Range is an area in Moiese, Montana protected by National Wildlife Refuge System. The 18,500-acre range began as a way to protect the American bison. The range is over 100 years old and home to more than 350 bison. Elk, white-tail and mule deer, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, black bear and coyote are other large animals found on the Range. Over 200 species of birds also call this home including eagles, hawks, meadowlarks, bluebirds, ducks, and geese. All tours of the range are done in your own car. Enjoy the beautiful grasslands and wildlife…but stay in you car!
Northwest Montana Fair & Rodeo
The town of Kalispell, Montana hosts this annual county fair and rodeo. Kalispell is the largest city in the Flathead Valley. A parade kicks off the fair every year with colorful decorated floats, music groups, dancers, scout troops and people on horsebacks. There are carnival rides, concerts, a fireworks show and livestock shows to enjoy. Visitors can also watch horse racing and cheer at the rodeo. Watch the demolition derby where cars crash into each other for fun! Before the rodeo, see Native American teams compete in a relay race on horses.
San Francisco, California
Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge first opened in 1937 and was the longest suspension bridge in the world until 1959 Rising over 200 feet above the water, the 4,200-foot bridge took more than four years to build Visitors can ride bikes or walk over the 1.7-mile length of the bridge from San Francisco to the Marin Vista Point. Although many people think the bridge is red, it is painted the color International Orange Underneath the Golden Gate Bridge is Crissy Field. Once an airfield with buildings that housed airplanes, there is a one-mile trail along the San Francisco Bay that leads you right under the Golden Gate Bridge.
The home of one of the most famous prisons in history, Alcatraz Island is now a National Park To get to the island, take the 15-minute, 1.5-mile ferryboat ride from San Francisco to Alcatraz. Your tour begins with a quick movie of the history of the prison. Touring the, “The Rock” you will see the canon and moat used to protect the island, the guards’ houses, the recreation yard and the cell house where prisoners lived You can step inside a cell and pretend to be one of the roughest and toughest criminals of the time The lighthouse located on the island was built in 1854 and was the first lighthouse on the West Coast The prison closed in 1963 but remains a popular go-to spot for visitors Don’t forget to earn a Junior Ranger Badge!
Angel Island is located in the bay between the Tiburon Peninsula in Marin County and downtown San Francisco It is the largest island in the San Francisco Bay The ferry ride from Tiburon ends on the docks at Ayala Cove where you can pick up a Junior Ranger booklet at the ranger’s station Rent a bike, hike or take the open-air tram on a 5-mile tour around the island The island was used mostly for military reasons from 1850-1946; from 1909-1940 the island was used as an immigration stop as people came to the United States from Asia On the tour, you will see different military posts, officers’ quarters, and a military hospital.
Ride a Cable Car
Cable cars first appeared in San Francisco in 1873 as a safe way to get up and down the steep hills of San Francisco Gripmen use a lever on the cable car to grab onto the two-inch cable that is continuously moving 27 inches underneath the center of the street The conductor stays in the back of the car and operates the brakes There are three cable car routes: Powell-Mason, Powell- Hyde and the California Street line You can board a cable car at any of the stops on these lines as long as there is room in the car If you really enjoy your experience, visit the Cable Car Museum to learn more about the history and machinery of cable cars.
Chinatown is located close to downtown San Francisco and has been in the same location for 150 years The best place to begin your journey is at the Dragon Gate where Grant Avenue runs into Bush Street This beautiful red and green gate has stone lions guarding the entrance. On the top of the Dragon Gate is a green pagoda decorated with dragons and fish -- symbols of good fortune On the other side of the gates, you enter another world of Chinese style teahouses, shops, restaurants, bazaars, the Chinatown Kite Shop and Chinese herbal stores Visit the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory, opened in 1962, where 20,000 cookies are handmade daily. It is even possible to write your own fortunes and have them folded into your own special box of cookies Dim Sum and Chinese food restaurants line the streets Try everything from barbeque steam buns, dumplings, sticky rice, rice porridge, potstickers, spring rolls, noodle dishes or won ton soup Stop by The Chinese Historical Society of America and the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco to learn more about the history of the area.
Academy of Sciences
In 2008, this science museum reopened its door in 2008 in Golden Gate Park as one of the “greenest” buildings in the city. The 412,000 square foot building has a 2-½ acre living roof, a solar cover, recycles rainwater, was built with recycled concrete and recycled steel, uses natural lighting wherever possible and the walls are insulated with recycled denim jeans It is one of the ten largest museums of natural history in the world Inside the museum visitors will be delighted with almost 4,000 live animals, an aquarium, a planetarium, a natural history museum and a four-story rainforest One of the highlights of the museum is the opportunity to watch the African penguins at feeding time.
Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park is located on 1,017 acres on the northern end of San Francisco Shaped like a rectangle, it is the largest urban park in the United States Established in the 1860s, the park is home to everything from Buffalo Paddocks, lawn bowling, horse stables and playgrounds to museums, memorials and baseball diamonds Take a walk around the man-made Stow Lake where you can rent a paddleboat and enjoy the park from the water The Conservatory of Flowers, built of glass tiles, houses some of the rarest plants and trees from all over the world The five-acre Japanese Tea Garden, originally built for the World’s Fair in 1894, has koi ponds, statues, walkways, beautiful bridges, a wooden pagoda and Zen garden. The de Young Museum, located across from the Academy of Sciences, not only has fine art and artifacts from all over the globe, but also a 144-foot tall observation tower Take the free elevator ride to the top where you can see over the trees and high-rise buildings of San Francisco to the Pacific Ocean.
Grand Canyon, Arizona
The South Rim
The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is the most popular spot to visit the Grand Canyon. The canyon is 277 miles long, 4 to 18 miles wide and over one mile deep. The Grand Canyon is one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World. Traveling along the bottom of the canyon is 277 miles of the Colorado River. The Colorado River is a total of 1450 miles long and begins in Colorado and ends in Mexico. The Canyon View Information Plaza is a good place to pick up maps and check out your first views of the canyon. One of the best ways for young travelers to see the Canyon is to take one of the many shuttles from the Plaza. Enjoy the beautiful views! Pick up a Junior Ranger Activity Book at the Visitor Center at Canyon View Information Plaza or Park Headquarters.
The SkyWalk, is a u-shaped glass bridge that hangs about 70 feet over the rim of the canyon. Visitors walk out onto the glass bridge and can see 4000 feet straight down to the Colorado River. Don't worry! Over a million pounds of steel, thick glass and five-foot tall glass railings keep you safe. The Skywalk is located at the West Rim of the Grand Canyon and is owned and operated by the Native American Hulapai Nation. The Hualapai people have lived in this area for many generations. Included with your ticket to the SkyWalk is a shuttle ride through the West Rim and a visit to Hualapai Ranch.
Yavapai Observation Station
The Yavapai Observation Station is located on the South Rim of the canyon. The purpose of this visitor center is to teach the history and geology of the Grand Canyon. The exhibits explain how the many rock layers and the carving of the Grand Canyon took place over time. There are 3-D models, photographs, artwork and videos to help understand the nature of the Grand Canyon. It is called an "Observation Station" for a reason! Yavapai has some of the best views of the gorge and Colorado River from its large viewing windows.
Ride the Grand Canyon Railway
The Grand Canyon Railway began in 1901 as a good way to travel to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. The trip is sixty miles long and takes two and a half hours. Board the train in Williams, Arizona at the Williams Depot to begin your journey. Once on the move, relax and enjoy the beautiful landscape of the Kaibab National Forest. From the train windows look for antelope, mule deer, mountain lions, squirrels and coyotes in the nearby wilderness. Guides on the train can answer questions about the history of the train and the area. The ride ends at Grand Canyon Railway Station where travelers walk or take a shuttle to the canyon. The Grand Canyon Depot was built in 1910 and is part of the Grand Canyon National Park Historic District and is a National Historic Landmark.