Notre Dame vs. Alabama Travel Championship

From iconic stadiums to legendary football museums, see our top picks for Notre Dame and Alabama (2013 BCS National Championship teams).

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M & T Bank Stadium
Stadium

Stadium

Located on Russell Street, the M&T Bank Stadium is home to the Baltimore Ravens. The stadium’s capacity is large enough to hold 71,004 fans. And just in case you didn’t know, the Ravens head into the Super Bowl with 10 wins and 6 losses for the 2012 NFL regular season. 960 1280

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Candlestick Park

Candlestick Park

In comparison, San Francisco’s Candlestick Park, home to the 49ers, has a seating capacity of 69,843. After winning 11 games and losing 4 during the 2012 NFL regular season, the 49ers are now preparing for their big game against the Baltimore Ravens. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Military Site

Military Site

Baltimore’s Fort McHenry is best known for successfully defending Baltimore Harbor against a British navy attack during the War of 1812. It was during the attack that Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the poem that would eventually become the US national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” 960 1280

National Park Service  

Presidio

Presidio

In 1776, the Presidio started out as a military base, but it would close its doors as an active base in 1989 as part of a military reduction program. Now a public park, the Presidio has wooded hills and the best panoramic views of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco Bridge and the Pacific Ocean. 960 1280

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Crab

Crab

In Baltimore, nothing beats delicious soft blue crabs, served up at dozens of local restaurants, including Schultz’s Crab House, Crab Shanty and Mariner’s Landing. 960 1280

istock  

Dungeness Crabs

Dungeness Crabs

And in San Francisco, who can deny the incredibly fresh taste of Dungeness crabs at Anchor Oyster Bar, Crazy Crab’z, Sotto Mare and other local restaurants. 960 1280

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Waterfront

Waterfront

Both cities have great harbors. Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is the site of the National Aquarium, Sports Legends at Camden Yards and, just a few blocks away, Port Discovery Children’s Museum. Shop until you drop at Harborplace and the Gallery, and end your shopping spree with a casual walk along the picturesque waterfront. 960 1280

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Fisherman's Wharf

Fisherman's Wharf

In San Francisco, Fisherman’s Wharf is home to dozens of restaurants, bars and shops sure to keep any tourist busy. A variety of boat charters and bay cruises begin at the wharf, including boat tours to Alcatraz Island. The Aquarium of the Bay, Ghirardelli Square, Pier 39 and Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum are just a few tourist attractions located nearby, and we’d be remiss to not mention the crowds that stand around to watch the street performers and sunbathing sea lions. 960 1280

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Art Museum

Art Museum

Located in Baltimore’s Federal Hill neighborhood, the American Visionary Art Museum showcases original works of art created by self-taught artists. The museum comprises 3 renovated historic industrial buildings and sculpture gardens; all create the “un-museumy” atmosphere to display works by visionary artists, including Ho Baron, Nek Chand, Ted Gordon and Leo Sewell. 960 1280

Paul Burk  

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Founded in 1935, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art was the first museum on the West Coast devoted to modern and contemporary art. From modern masters to younger, less established artists, more than 27,000 works of art are on display. Visitors can take a self-guided tour, as well as watch video screenings, view interactive kiosks or participate in public programs to learn more about modern art. 960 1280

Jamie McCaffrey, flickr  

Most Popular Attraction

Most Popular Attraction

The National Aquarium is the most popular tourist destination in Baltimore. In 2003, aquariums in Baltimore and Washington DC, joined forces to become one National Aquarium; today, the facility showcases living collections of more than 16,000 animals, from more than 660 species of fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals, all living in a makeshift natural habitat. 960 1280

National Aquarium ©  

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

In San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge is the most popular tourist attraction in the City by the Bay. The famous bridge was named after the Golden Gate Strait -- the entrance to San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean. As of May 2012, almost 2 million vehicles had crossed the Golden Gate Bridge since opening to traffic on May 28, 1937. 960 1280

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Historic Neighborhood

Historic Neighborhood

Welcome to Fell’s Point, a Baltimore neighborhood and historic district once populated by a large number of Polish and Irish immigrants. The waterfront community is home to a variety of shops, restaurants, coffee bars, music stores and the highest concentration of pubs in the city -- more than 120. 960 1280

duluoz cats, flickr  

North Beach, San Francisco

North Beach, San Francisco

The American Planning Association has named San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood one of 10 “Great Neighborhoods in America.” Also known as Little Italy, the area has historically been home to a large Italian-American population. It was also the historic center of the 1950s beatnik literary movement. Today the neighborhood is populated by young professionals, families and Chinese immigrants. 960 1280

Alfonso Jimenez, flickr  

Light Rail

Light Rail

One option for getting around Baltimore is the city’s light-rail system; it has a few main routes, including one that runs from Penn Station to Camden Yards. 960 1280

Gregory Wass, flickr  

Muni

Muni

Out on the West Coast, the San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni), is one of America’s oldest public transit agencies. Today it carries over 200 million customers per year. Unlike Baltimore’s limited light-rail service, the Muni runs 24 hours, 7 days a week. 960 1280

Prayitno, flickr  

Familiar Sign

Familiar Sign

It really isn’t a competition, but we thought we’d throw in a couple famous signs that most people will be familiar with after visiting the 2 Super Bowl cities. Like this, for example: Take a quick glance at Baltimore’s skyline and you’ll notice the Domino Sugars sign atop the company’s plant. 960 1280

Mr. T in DC, flickr   

The Castro Sign

The Castro Sign

Although it doesn’t light up San Fran’s skyline, the famous Castro sign does light up the neighborhood. The Castro was one of America’s first and largest gay neighborhoods. 960 1280

Ludovic Bertron, flickr  

Best Food

Best Food

In comparing neighborhoods, Baltimore’s Little Italy is known for its authentic Italian food served at more than 30 restaurants, nestled between the Inner Harbor and historic Fell’s Point neighborhood. 960 1280

Daniel Lobo, flickr  

Chinatown, San Francisco

Chinatown, San Francisco

We could compare Baltimore’s Little Italy to San Francisco’s Little Italy, but we decided to go in a different direction. We opted instead to highlight San Fran’s Chinatown, where authentic Chinese food is served at restaurants like Golden Gate Bakery, Hunan Home’s Restaurant and Wing Sing. 960 1280

Thomas Hawk, flickr  

Sao Paulo
1. Sao Paulo

1. Sao Paulo

Brazil’s economic and financial center, Sao Paulo is the richest and most populous city in the country, with more the 11 million residents. There are more than 70 nationalities living in the city, and it’s known as the gastronomic capital of Brazil, with over 12,500 restaurants serving a variety of tasty cuisines. 960 1280

Embratur/Brazilian Tourism Board  

Ponte Estaiada (Sao Paulo)

Ponte Estaiada (Sao Paulo)

Visit Sao Paulo’s attractions, including Ponte Estaiada (pictured), the Sao Paulo Art Museum and the Sao Paulo Museum of Modern Art. Sao Paulo state is a popular spot for leading international events like Sao Paulo Fashion Week, Formula 1 Grand Prix, Formula Indy and Sao Paulo Gay Pride Parade, attracting around 2.5 million people each year. 960 1280

Embratur/Brazilian Tourism Board  

2. Salvador

2. Salvador

The city of Salvador is known for its Portuguese and African influences on the city and for the region’s mixture of races, religions and flavors. Explore Pelourinho -- the historic center of Salvador -- to see Portuguese colonial architecture and monuments dating from the 17th through the 19th centuries. 960 1280

Embratur/Brazilian Tourism Board  

Porto da Barra (Salvador)

Porto da Barra (Salvador)

Itapua, Artistas and Porto da Barra are popular beaches in Salvador, but there’s also much to see in a city that’s rich in culture and history. We recommend visiting popular attractions, including Forte Santo Antonio da Barra, Municipal Market, Convent of St. Francis and Elevator Lacerda, used to connect the upper and lower parts of the city. 960 1280

Embratur/Brazilian Tourism Board  

Capoeira (Salvador)

Capoeira (Salvador)

In Salvador, the African influence in many cultural aspects of the city makes it the center of Afro-Brazilian culture. Developed by African descendants with native Brazilian influences, capoeira is a martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics and berimbau music. Public squares and parks are popular places to watch an entertaining match that’s full of kicks, spins, cartwheels, flips and back-and-forth, foot-to-foot movement. 960 1280

Embratur/Brazilian Tourism Board  

3. Rio de Janeiro

3. Rio de Janeiro

Welcome to Rio de Janeiro! Host to the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, Rio is full of major tourist attractions, including Christ the Redeemer (pictured), Tijuca National Park, Sugarloaf Mountain and Outeiro da Gloria Church. For adventure travelers, take a day trip to see Paraty, Angra dos Reis or Buzios, one of the most famous resorts in Brazil. 960 1280

Embratur/Brazilian Tourism Board  

Rio Carnival (Rio de Janeiro)

Rio Carnival (Rio de Janeiro)

Attend a big party at the Sambadrome! Held before Lent every year, Carnival in Rio is filled with up to 4,000 revelers, elaborate floats and samba dancers from more the 200 samba schools from around the region. One samba school is usually represented by up to 6 to 8 floats, but each school has ala das baianas, which is a group of at least 100 women who do not ride the floats. These women strut their samba moves marching between the floats. 960 1280

Embratur/Brazilian Tourism Board  

Beautiful Beaches (Rio de Janeiro)

Beautiful Beaches (Rio de Janeiro)

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the beautiful beaches of the “Wonderful City.” Relax, sunbathe, play soccer or just mingle with the locals on Rio’s famous beaches, Ipanema and Copacabana. Don’t forget about the lesser-known beaches like Leblon, Barra da Tijuca Beach, Prainha Beach and Praia Vermelha. 960 1280

Embratur/Brazilian Tourism Board  

4. Recife

4. Recife

Located where the Beberibe River meets the Capibaribe River, Recife is often referred to as the “Venice of Brazil” because of its rivers and more than 50 bridges, a few of which connect the city’s various districts. A boat excursion on the Capibaribe River allows visitors to get a great view of the city’s Portuguese architecture and the neighboring city of Olinda. 960 1280

Embratur/Brazilian Tourism Board  

White River Plaza (Recife)

White River Plaza (Recife)

Take a stroll through Recife’s White River Plaza or “Praca do Marco Zero” (pictured), which is the zero-point marker from where all highway distances are measured in the state of Pernambuco. Visitors should also stop at the Shopping Center Recife, the first mega-mall in northeastern Brazil, with 465 stores, 10 movies theaters and 4 food courts with 57 fast-food restaurants. 960 1280

Embratur/Brazilian Tourism Board  

5. Porto Alegre

5. Porto Alegre

Porto Alegre, the capital of Rio Grande do Sul state, is considered to be one of the capitals with the most trees, having over a million trees throughout the city. It is also full of green areas, such as Redencao Park and Parcao. This city is also the birthplace of renowned Brazilian writers, such as Mario Quintana and Erico Verissimo. 960 1280

Embratur/Brazilian Tourism Board  

Catedral Metropolitana (Porto Alegre)

Catedral Metropolitana (Porto Alegre)

Visit Catedral Metropolitana, one of Porto Alegre's most photographed landmarks, a model of Italian Renaissance architecture and a symbol of the city's Jesuit missionary heritage. 960 1280

Embratur/Brazilian Tourism Board  

6. Natal

6. Natal

Natal is known as “Sun City” because it sees more the 300 days of sunshine each year. See some of the city’s main sites like Alberto Maranhao Theatre (pictured) in Old City Natal. 960 1280

Embratur/Brazilian Tourism Board  

Morro do Careca (Natal)

Morro do Careca (Natal)

The star attraction of Natal are its beautiful beaches. Take a famous buggy tour on Morro do Careca (pictured) -- a 394-foot-high dune located on Ponta Negra Beach. Forte and Artistas are other popular beaches in Natal. 960 1280

Embratur/Brazilian Tourism Board  

7. Fortaleza

7. Fortaleza

Fortaleza is known for its beautiful coastline and 15 beaches, including Raceme Beach, which was named after a character in a romantic novel by famous Brazilian writer Jose Alencar. Because of the strong winds, the coast of city is an ideal place for water sports. 960 1280

Embratur/Brazilian Tourism Board  

Buoni Amici's Pizza (Fortaleza)

Buoni Amici's Pizza (Fortaleza)

Pull up a chair and sample some of the “best pizza in Brazil” at Buoni Amici’s in Fortaleza. Local gastronomy, similar to other cities of the northeastern region of Brazil, includes everything from seafood to carne-de-sol -- meat (usually beef) lightly salted and sun dried, which is a typical cuisine from the Ceara state. 960 1280

Embratur/Brazilian Tourism Board  

8. Curitiba

8. Curitiba

Arame Opera Theatre, the Guaira Theatre, the Railway Museum, the Historical Centre, Largo da Ordem and the Oscar Niemeyer Museum (pictured) are recommended places to visit when you’re in Curitiba, located in Parana state. Explore the various cuisines in the city’s Santa Felicidade district and shop -- day or night -- at the stores located along Rua das Flores. 960 1280

Embratur/Brazilian Tourism Board  

Botanical Garden of Curitiba

Botanical Garden of Curitiba

Curitiba has over 30 parks and forests. We recommend visiting the Botanical Garden of Curitiba for a leisurely stroll through the French Gardens and the main greenhouse. The garden also houses part of the Federal University of Parana’s campus. While you’re in the Parana state, we recommend visitors make a trip to Iguazu National Park to see more 275 waterfalls that are an average height of 206 feet. 960 1280

Embratur/Brazilian Tourism Board  

9. Cuiaba

9. Cuiaba

Cuiaba is intersected by the Cuiaba River, one of the main tributaries of the Paraguay, a river that surrounds 4 countries: Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia Bolivia and Argentina. Recommended city attractions include the Rondon Museum of the Indian, Cathedral Square, the Geodetic Center of South America, the Ramis Bucair Stones Museum and the Church of the Rosary and St. Benedict. 960 1280

Embratur/Brazilian Tourism Board  

Alta Floresta (near Cuiaba)

Alta Floresta (near Cuiaba)

Cuiaba is located in Mato Grosso do Sul state, the largest flood plain in the world, with an abundance of wildlife. Spend a few days far north of Cuiaba in Alta Floresta to explore Cristalino State Park, known for its diversity in fauna and flora; it’s also considered one of the most important centers for bird watching. 960 1280

Embratur/Brazilian Tourism Board  

10. Brasilia

10. Brasilia

The capital of Brazil, Brasilia is the first city built in the 20th century to be considered a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site, designed by town planner Lucio Costa. Visit some of the city’s most important sites like the Supreme Federal Court and the Planalto Palace (pictured), the seat of the government. 960 1280

Embratur/Brazilian Tourism Board  

National Congress Building (Brasilia)

National Congress Building (Brasilia)

In addition to important attractions like the National Congress Building, Brasilia has its fair share of amazing attractions, including architectural gems Alvorada Palace (the president’s official residence), the National Theatre, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Brasilia and the National Museum. 960 1280

Embratur/Brazilian Tourism Board  

11. Belo Horizonte

11. Belo Horizonte

In Brazil’s Minas Gerais State, Belo Horizonte is known as the “Garden City.” It’s also known for its lively cultural life, including contemporary dance and street theatre. Surrounded by the Serra do Curral Mountains, this city has much to offer visitors, like Pope’s Square, the Museum of Arts and Crafts (pictured) and Mangabeiras Park -- one of the largest urban parks in Latin America. 960 1280

Embratur/Brazilian Tourism Board  

Liberty Square (Belo Horizonte)

Liberty Square (Belo Horizonte)

Enjoy the beauty of Belo Horizonte’s Liberty Square. This cultural hub includes various museums, exhibitions, a cinema and a theater. After a trip here, we recommend visiting the Lagoa da Pampulha architectural complex, designed in the 1940s by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. 960 1280

Embratur/Brazilian Tourism Board  

12. Amazon - Manaus

12. Amazon - Manaus

Located in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon, Manaus is the largest city in the northern region of the country. It is considered the gateway to the Amazon Rainforest -- a gigantic reserve spread over 1,544 square miles, across 9 Brazilian states. Amazonas state is also where almost all of the indigenous peoples of the country live. 960 1280

Embratur/Brazilian Tourism Board  

Amazonas Theater (Manaus)

Amazonas Theater (Manaus)

There are many things to see in Manaus, including the famous Amazonas Theatre (pictured), the Amazon Natural History Museum and Port Quay. The city offers several boat excursions, including numerous Amazon River cruises. For those who enjoy keeping their feet on solid ground, tourists can book walking tours accompanied by a guide at various hotels. 960 1280

Embratur/Brazilian Tourism Board  

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