12 Terrifying Attractions With Spectacular Views

Face your fear of heights! Visit these glass structures and glass-bottom attractions — including the Grand Canyon Skywalk, Tokyo’s SkyTree and the Ledge in Chicago — that provide jaw-dropping views with a euphoric adrenaline rush.

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Hotel del Coronado

Hotel del Coronado

Fleeing the Midwest winters, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum spent time soaking up the Southern California sunshine at the fairytale-like Hotel del Coronado . In fact, it's been said that the "Emerald City" of Coronado inspired another -- the magical land of Oz. The author was allegedly inspired by the hotel's lush green grounds and famous red turrets while writing several books in the series there. Inside the soaring tower, guests can still see the 4 crown-shaped chandeliers designed by Baum. Visitors can also stroll past the quaint yellow house he rented during his stays. 960 1280

Joanne DiBona, SanDiego.org  

Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle

Visit the southwest region of Bavaria, Germany, to see the castle that inspired the Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA. Neuschwanstein Castle, a retreat for Ludwig II of Bavaria, was designed to pay homage to German composer Richard Wagner. 960 1280

Getty  

The Serengeti

The Serengeti

Hakuna matata! Relive the magic of “The Lion King,” and travel to the Serengeti in Africa. The 12,000-square-mile region extends from north Tanzania into southwestern Kenya. Lions, wildebeests, gazelles, zebras and buffalos are some of the wildlife in the popular safari destination. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Lohr, Germany

Lohr, Germany

Germany’s charming town of Lohr is said to have helped inspire the Brothers Grimm’s epic story of Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs. Lohr, located between Würzburg and Aschaffenburg in Bavaria, an area wealthy in spinning magical tales. The Main River borders the town which is also surrounded on all 3 sides by the dense and intensely green Spessart Forest. 960 1280

PetrusSilesius, Wikimedia Commons  

Chateau de Chambord

Chateau de Chambord

After a trip to the Chateau de Chambord, the creators of “Beauty and the Beast” decided to revamp the initial version of the film. One of the changes was to make the real-life castle the fairytale home of the Beast. Be the belle of the ball and visit the largest chateau in the France’s Loire Valley. King Francois I constructed the castle to be near his mistress Comtesse de Thoury, Claude Rohan. You really can’t tell from the outside, but the castle was never completed. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Baghdad

Baghdad

Take a magic carpet ride to Baghdad, a city that has inspired storytellers to write fairy tales about genies and magic lamps. Even though it's not known as a popular travel destination, Iraq's capital city is one of several locations mentioned in the Arabian folktale "One Thousand and One Nights." It also inspired the exciting adventures of Disney characters Aladdin and Princess Jasmine. 960 1280

  

New Haven, CT

New Haven, CT

In a dog’s world, New Haven, CT, might be the perfect getaway for puppy love. The New England town is where love bloomed for Disney’s star-crossed lovers, Lady and the Tramp. 960 1280

Tony Fischer, Flickr  

Ziegenhain, Germany

Ziegenhain, Germany

Ziegenhain, considered the capital city of Germany’s Fairy Tale Road, is also home to Little Red Riding Hood. Travelers visiting the city will see residents in costume, including red hoods. Prior to the Brothers Grimm and Disney’s interpretations, Little Red Riding Hood was a violent moral tale designed to keep young women on a righteous path. Even though there have been several versions of the folktale, we still have a few words of wisdom --beware the wolf. 960 1280

Andreas, Flickr  

Brothers Grimm Tour

Brothers Grimm Tour

Authors Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm are well-known story tellers, whose work include “Cinderella,” “Rumpelstiltskin, “The Frog Prince” and “Hansel and Gretel.” The Brothers Grimm Memorial is located in Hanau, Germany, and it’s also the starting point for the German Fairy Tale Road. The fun, road trip route runs from Hanau to Bremen, where the Jacob and Wilhelm were born. Tourist attractions along the road are focused around the famous brothers. 960 1280

Ygrek, Wikimedia Commons  

Trendelburg Tower

Trendelburg Tower

The famous words, “Repunzel, Repunzel, let down your hair,” were uttered from the tower of the Trendelburg Castle aka Repunzel’s Tower --or at least that’s according to the Brothers Grimm’s folktale. Located in the Germany’s Hesse region near the Diemel River, Trendelburg is home to just over 5,000 people. The Trendelburg Fortress dates back to the 1300s and is now a hotel and restaurant. It’s a great pit stop if you’re traveling along Fairy Tale Road. 960 1280

Stefan Lehmann, Flickr  

Disney World

Disney World

Make your dreams come true, and visit Disney World in Orlando, FL. The fairytale amusement park was designed to inspire kids of all ages with uniquely themed areas, including Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. Walt Disney brought famous fairy tales to life at his franchise of family-friendly theme parks. 960 1280

Disney  

Hans Christian Andersen Museum

Hans Christian Andersen Museum

We can’t forget about Hans Christian Andersen, the renowned author who wrote several children stories, including “The Snow Queen,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Thumbelina,” “The Little Match Girl” and “The Ugly Duckling .” Fans of Hans can visit an entire museum --located in Copenhagen, Denmark-- dedicated to the famous storyteller. 960 1280

Dean C.K. Cox  

Chichen Itza is the largest known city of the Mayan civilization, located in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. The powerful city flourished from AD 800 to 1200 and was a trading center for cloth, slaves, honey and salt. 960 1280

istockphoto  

The main attraction of Chichen Itza is the pyramid also known as El Castillo. Built sometime between 1000 and 1200, the pyramid was used as a temple to the god Kukulkan. Archaeologists believe that the pyramid also served as a calendar for the Mayas. In total it has 365 steps -- one for each day of the year. 960 1280

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The Christ the Redeemer statue stands at the top of the 2,330-foot-tall Corcovado Mountain, looming over the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 960 1280

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The 130-foot-tall statue of Jesus Christ was completed in 1931 and is made of reinforced concrete and soapstone. It is one of the largest Art Deco statues in the world, and it weighs in at 2.5 million pounds. 960 1280

Reuters  

The Roman Colosseum was built between AD 70 and 80, and it was in used for gladiatorial events, battle reenactments, animal hunts and other performances for 500 years. 960 1280

istockphoto  

The Colosseum sat nearly 50,000 spectators, and its design still influences the construction of modern-day amphitheaters. Earthquakes and stone-robbers have left the Colosseum in a state of ruin, but portions of the structure remain open to tourists. 960 1280

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The Great Wall of China, actually a series of many walls, stretches 5,500 miles across northern China. 960 1280

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Built between the 5th and 16th centuries BC to protect China's borders from invasion by nomadic tribes, the Great Wall is the world's longest manmade structure. 960 1280

istockphoto  

Machu Picchu, a 15th-century Inca archaeological site, sits 7,000 feet above sea level in the Andes Mountains of Peru. It is often referred to as the 'Lost City of the Incas,' because it was known only to locals until it was discovered in 1911 by American historian Hiram Bingham. 960 1280

istockphoto  

Archaeologists estimate that 1,200 Incas could have lived in Machu Picchu, although many believe it was most likely a retreat for Incan rulers, built as an estate for the emperor Pachacuti (1438-1472). 960 1280

Getty Images   

Petra, an archeological city in Jordan, is known for its dusty pink buildings carved out of rock and its impressive water conduit system. Built sometime around the 6th century BC, Petra was the capital city of the Nabataeans. 960 1280

istockphoto  

The entrance to the city of Petra is through a narrow gorge, flanked on either side by 250-foot cliffs. The most recognizable building in Petra is the Treasury, carved completely out of rock as a tomb for a Nanataean king. The building's façade stands almost 150 feet high. 960 1280

istockphoto  

Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan was so distraught by the passing of his third wife Mumtaz Mahal, that he commissioned an elaborate mausoleum to be built for her. The Taj Mahal shines as a symbol of eternal love and was built entirely of white marble. Construction stretched over a period of 22 years, beginning in the 1630s. 960 1280

istockphoto  

The Taj Mahal, located in Agra, India, is just one part of a vast complex that consists of a main gateway, an elaborate garden, a mosque, a guest house and several other magnificent buildings. 960 1280

istockphoto  

National WWII Memorial

National WWII Memorial

Between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial is one of DC’s newer landmarks. It opened in 2004 to honor the 16 million people who served in the country’s armed forces during World War II. The fountains, pillars and plaques form a circle that’s particularly impressive when it’s lit up at night. Don’t miss the obvious photo op: you in front of the pillar with your home state’s name engraved on it. 960 1280

Bruce Yuanyue Bi/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images  

Newseum

Newseum

Read all about it at this museum, whose new building near the National Mall opened in 2008. It examines both world events through the eyes of the media and the history of journalism itself. Among its 15 galleries are sections of the Berlin Wall, stories about First Amendment rights, multimedia exhibits on the digital revolution, and front pages from American and international newspapers. In the Interactive Newsroom, visitors can test their own reporting skills to create a newspaper story or a TV news broadcast. 960 1280

Winiker/Photolibrary/Getty Images  

Jefferson Memorial

Jefferson Memorial

This monument for the author of the Declaration of Independence and third president cuts a fine silhouette from across the Tidal Basin. The view is especially beautiful in the spring when the cherry trees around the water’s edge are in bloom. Don’t start the trek around to the memorial unless you’re wearing comfortable shoes — the walk is longer than it looks. But on the way, you can also check the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, which opened in 2011, and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial off your list. Or get a different perspective in the summer by renting a paddleboat on the Tidal Basin. 960 1280

Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images  

National Zoo

National Zoo

Bao Bao may be growing up, but it’s still exciting to see the young panda and her parents, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian. The cub, born Aug. 23, 2013, will eventually be sent to China, but in the meantime, visitors are lining up to catch a glimpse of her playing or eating. While Bao Bao is the main attraction, she isn’t the only baby at the free Smithsonian zoo: The big cats exhibit features a pair of Sumatran tiger cubs, also born in August 2013, and 6 African lion cubs, born in 2 litters in early 2014. And of course, you can’t miss the gorillas, orangutans, Asian elephants, American bison and hundreds of other animals. 960 1280

The Washington Post/Getty Images  

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The reflective, black granite wall honors American soldiers who died or went missing in the Vietnam War, and it is inscribed with more than 58,000 names. Even if no one you know is listed there, take a contemplative moment to grasp the enormity of it all. For those who are looking for a specific name, there are alphabetical catalogs at the memorial entrances that give a panel and row number for each person. 960 1280

Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images  

Eastern Market

Eastern Market

This is not your typical neighborhood farmers market. While Eastern Market, located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, does offer fresh produce and flowers, it also lines up vendors selling everything from furniture and jewelry to cakes and pottery. The indoor section is open every day except Monday, but on the weekends, the market moves outside, too, and becomes a gathering place with live music and local food. Why bother with one of those “I Heart DC” T-shirts when you can shop for a unique, handmade souvenir? 960 1280

Maddie Meyer  

Georgetown

Georgetown

There’s plenty to explore in one of DC’s oldest and most famous neighborhoods. Stroll along cobblestone sidewalks and imagine all the history that has been viewed through the windows of those row houses. Go on a shopping spree on M Street, where you’ll find both big-name retailers and intimate boutiques. But don’t spend all your money: You’ll need to have some left so you can indulge in the amazing dining and nightlife options in the area. Start with appetizers and cocktails on the waterfront while enjoying a beautiful view of the Potomac. 960 1280

Hisham Ibrahim  

Washington Monument

Washington Monument

The 555-foot obelisk dedicated to George Washington towers over the city and can be spotted even from Virginia. It was closed for repairs after being damaged in a 5.8-magnitude earthquake in August 2011, but the landmark finally reopened in May 2014. Free tickets to go inside and ride to the top are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Or you can simply bask in its glory with a picnic or a game of catch on the surrounding lawn. 960 1280

Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images  

International Spy Museum

International Spy Museum

Examine all the evidence as you make your way through the largest collection of international spy-related artifacts on public display. Visitors will learn about the role espionage has played throughout history, from Moses to Stalin, and see the tools of the trade, including tiny cameras, hidden messages, concealed weapons and more. Wannabe agents can sign up for Operation Spy, an interactive experience that challenges participants to find the clues and crack the case. 960 1280

Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images  

East Potomac Golf Course

East Potomac Golf Course

Even if you can’t hit the fairway to save your life, at least you’ll get a great view of the monuments when you tee it up at East Potomac. Its 36 holes, split among the appropriately named Red, White and Blue courses, crisscross an island right next to the Tidal Basin. The site is also a great place to work on your swing on the heated driving range in the winter, see the cheerful cherry blossoms in the spring, or bring the family for a round of mini-golf in the summer. 960 1280

Bloomberg/Getty Images  

Museums on the National Mall

Museums on the National Mall

The great thing about the National Mall is that you can roam in and out of the 10-plus museums as you please — entry to them is free. Check out an exhibit at the National Gallery of Art (pictured); pop into the Air and Space Museum to see the Wright brothers’ plane; and swing by the Museum of American History to examine the flag that inspired the national anthem, Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz, and Michelle Obama’s 2009 inauguration dress. Spend as much or as little time as you want in each spot without wasting the cost of admission. And in between, find a grassy spot to sit and people-watch under the imposing shadow of the Capitol. 960 1280

Luke1138/iStock/Getty Images  

Old Ebbitt Grill

Old Ebbitt Grill

When you’re ready to refuel for more DC adventures, stop for a meal or a drink at the city’s oldest saloon. The Old Ebbitt Grill was established in 1856 on the edge of Chinatown. The current location on 15th Street is just a block from the White House. It’s a popular spot for politicos, and even presidents including Ulysses S. Grant and Teddy Roosevelt are said to have frequented the bar. The restaurant is known for its oysters, but it also serves breakfast and a wide selection of entrees and sandwiches. 960 1280

Jason Colston/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images  

Kennedy Center

Kennedy Center

Long day of sightseeing? Sit back and soak up some culture at one of several venues inside the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Concerts by the National Symphony Orchestra, free shows on the Millennium Stage, blockbuster Broadway tours such as Wicked and The Book of Mormon — the schedule has something for everyone. After the last curtain call, make sure to venture up to the roof deck, where you can get a panoramic view of the city all lit up.  960 1280

Hisham Ibrahim/Photolibrary/Getty Images  

US National Arboretum

US National Arboretum

This 446-acre site features a number of gardens and collections that can be traversed via car, bike, bus tour, tram or foot. Escape the city life among the dogwoods, azaleas, ferns and magnolias — you’re even allowed to bring your dog. Don’t miss the bonsai museum or the Capitol columns, 22 pillars that became part of the Capitol building in 1828. They were removed 30 years later because they couldn’t sufficiently support the dome, which was built bigger than planned. The columns didn’t make their way to the arboretum until the 1980s, but they have become the site’s most photographed feature.  960 1280

Bob Balestri/iStock/Getty Images  

Ford’s Theatre

Ford’s Theatre

Abraham Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theatre by John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865. Visit the on-site museum, which details his presidency and assassination, and the Petersen House across the street, where he was taken for treatment and ultimately died a few hours later. Ford’s Theatre is also still a working performance venue, so if you like a little entertainment with your history lesson, get tickets for a show. 960 1280

Paul Whitfield/Doorling Kindersley/Getty Images  

Supreme Court

Supreme Court

For visitors who are interested in the law and the actual procedures of the federal government, a stop at the US Supreme Court is a must. If you’re lucky, you’ll be there on a day of oral arguments, which are open to the public. Regardless, though, visitors can tour the building, view the current exhibitions and, when the court is not in session, check the schedule of courtroom lectures. Just note that the building is closed on Saturdays and Sundays, so leave it off your weekend itinerary. 960 1280

Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images  

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery

Venture across the river into Virginia to explore this moving site, whose 624 acres honor those who served the United States. The peaceful, beautiful landscape is dotted with more than 400,000 graves, including those of prominent figures such as Thurgood Marshall, the first black Supreme Court justice, and Pierre Charles L’Enfant, who designed the layout of Washington, DC. You’ll also want to see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Eternal Flame burning at the gravesite of John F. Kennedy, one of only 2 presidents buried in Arlington National Cemetery (the other is William Taft).  960 1280

Peter Gridley/Photographer’s Choice/Getty Images  

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