You know you can tour the Empire State Building, Grand Canyon and even Alcatraz. But we bet you didn’t know you and your family can tour these places — with a twist — from historic tower landmarks to theme parks.
White House Tour
Many people walk by the White House, only stopping for pictures before moving on to tours of the Smithsonian Museums or Capitol Building. They don't realize they can actually tour the famous residence in Washington, D.C.. It's as easy as requesting permission a few weeks in advance of your trip. When you visit, you'll have a chance to see some of the home's most beautiful rooms, such as the Red Room and State Dining Room. Oh, and did we mention it's free?
In just about any city, you can take a history tour, a ghost tour or the ever-popular foodie tour. In Seattle, however, you can take an underground tour to explore what was part of the original city. After the Great Seattle Fire in 1889, the city's streets were raised and what remains can be explored in this not-so-scenic, but very interesting (and funny) tour. It's the best way to learn about Seattle.
At the "Happiest Place on Earth," people pack their days with rides and shows, but did you know you can embark on a Keys to the Kingdom Tour? The immersive experience -- best for families with teens -- lasts five hours and allows guests to tour the park's underground tunnels (known as "utilidors"), where people and supplies travel unseen on a daily basis. Guests also learn the secrets of several attractions at the Magic Kingdom, as well as other landmarks throughout the parks. The tour includes lunch and a souvenir.
There's a whole lot of history in the Mid-Atlantic, particularly from Gettysburg on down to Virginia (and then into D.C., of course). Explore it all in a short trip, dubbed the Journey Through Hallowed Ground. The 180-mile trek allows families the opportunity to see nine presidential homes, such as Monticello and Montpelier, along with other storied landmarks. Families also have the option to tailor the trip to their preferences, with different routes available. Try the Orchards and Highlands Loop, where you'll see a stop on the Underground Railroad, or the Catoctin Scenic Loop if you want to take in the views of Frederick County. While admission to attractions varies, it's free to travel each route.
You'll find very few studio tours in Los Angeles. That's why the Warner Bros. VIP Studio Tour in nearby Burbank is not to be missed. You'll see the set of a famous television show and a rare collection of costumes and props. You'll also see the studio's famed back lot, where you'll surely recognize some of the sets. Kids will enjoy a chance to stand in front of green screen, too. The best feature is that each tour is different, providing a truly unique experience.
Muggles can visit Platform 9 3/4 and a real-life version of Hogwarts in England, but Twihards should head to Forks, Washington (yes, it's a real town). Team Forks provides three themed tours: Forks Twilight Tour, Jacob's Tour and Bella's Sunset Tour. All excursions include stops at movie locations, such as the homes of Bella, Edward and Jacob, while specific tours offer additional experiences. Take Jacob's Tour to see La Push, and Bella's Sunset Tour to enjoy a barbecue dinner on the beach. Rates vary per tour.
Many people also walk by -- or across -- Tower Bridge in London, posing for photos without realizing they can tour the enchanting landmark. Go inside the bridge to explore its towers, walkways and a new glass floor; it's especially fun to watch the bridge go up while standing on the transparent panels! Families can also opt for a private tour of Tower Bridge, in which they'll also explore the engine rooms and get an in-depth history lesson.
When purchased online, tickets are 8 euros for adults, 3.90 euros for children ages 5 to 15 and free for children under 5. Families also have the option to choose packaged rates, with admission for two adults and two kids, one adult and two kids, and more.
Most people opt for traditional visits to Rome's Colosseum; try something different with an underground tour of the ancient icon. Tours, led by Dark Rome, include the underground portions of the world's largest amphitheater, where you'll see rooms and holding pens once occupied by gladiators. Visitors will also see the third tier, and, of course, the main arena. For something even more unique, try a tour at night.