Having traversed our great country numerous times, along with some of you, I wonder how many of us really appreciate some of the more iconic but overlooked American attractions. I know we all like to avoid tourist traps and big crowds. But I recently went to the big Boston Pops 4th of July Fireworks and Concert at the Esplanade in Boston. I was probably joined by about 300,000 fellow lovers of music and fireworks. And it was quite manageable, even enjoyable for the most part. I am so glad I went, much like we did for the Capitol Fourth in Washington, DC.
But what about some other overlooked classics?
Locally, our Golden Gate Bridge is taken for granted. I know we have all seen it or driven across numerous times. But how many of you have walked across, or even better, ridden your bicycle across to Sausalito? And if you are in the area, how about a nice boat ride and tour of Alcatraz Island, home of former prisons and Native American invasions?
Another California icon is the Getty Center, sitting high above the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles. We have driven by numerous times, but did not stop until out of town relatives insisted that we go. Not only did we see some great art, we were treated to one of the best views of Los Angeles, on a clear and cool day.
Moving to the other coast, while in Boston, how many of you have walked the Freedom Trail? It is only 2.5 miles long, but contains more history than most of our childhood history books. And it passes by other great places, like the Union Oyster House! Experts call the walk similar to being in a time machine, and I agree.
There is only one monument to a great entertainer and singer, and it is not Sinatra or the Beatles. It is Graceland, the former home of Elvis Presley, just outside of Memphis. Foreigners love this place!! And I found it surprisingly interesting as well. Memphis itself has many attractions, like Beale Street, and Stax Records. And you will love the food in this great, overlooked city.
With so many monuments and museums in Washington, DC, it is easy to overlook the Lincoln Memorial. Experts say it makes Lincoln come alive for most of us. That said, any of the museums and monuments make a great excursion. On our last trip to DC, we enjoyed peak bloom day for the cherry blossoms at the Jefferson Memorial.
Everyone feels a little different when going to a place where so many have died. Going to Pearl Harbor was quite sad for me, since it marked the beginning of the war for the US, and the start of relocating all of my family and relatives to prison camps in the interior of the country. Add to that, all of the young men and women who died back on December 7, 1941. I think you have to decide for yourself whether to go or not. Likewise, I could not bring myself to visit Auschwitz last year when I was in Poland.
Any tour of Chicago should include an architectural cruise on the Chicago River. Skyscrapers were invented here, so why not see them for yourself. The top architects in the world are represented here, and the iconic Sears and Hancock Towers are uniquely American. Of course, you can always enjoy the deep dish pizza, Chicago dogs, and Chicago beef. And Wrigley Field for a Cubs game, and Second City, if you want to laugh.
Having been to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, I have been asked if I have been to Niagara Falls. My answer is always, not yet! But I plan to get there one day soon, and also hit the Baseball Hall of Fame in upstate Cooperstown, NY. I could call it two for the price of one!
Many of you have been to colonial Williamsburg. While not on any of my lists, I can certainly see why it might have been on yours. Where can you possibly go and experience a historic moment in time? Maybe perform an re-enactment of the Boston Tea Party in Boston Harbor? Or pan for golf at Sutter’s Mil outside of Sacramento?
Literary landmarks generally don’t appeal much to me. Such was a visit to the home of Fyodor Dostoyevsky in St. Petersburg. But Sleepy Hollow, in New York is the setting of Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” with the Headless Horseman. And why not enjoy the Hudson River, and maybe a trip to West Point while you are there?
So, there you have it. Ten overlooked American icons. I can guess there are about two or three of you who have been to all of them. Let me know who you are, and you can join the Overlooked Icon Hall of Fame!!