VACATION IDEAS

10 Incredible World Landmarks You Haven't Seen (Yet!)

These instant classics—including record-breaking towers, 35-story-tall sculptures, and external building climbs—are worth traveling to see.

Sea Life Aquarium

Kansas City, Missouri

Landlocked Kansas City landed a big one in April with the debut of a $15 million aquarium, run by the global franchise Sea Life and part of the new downtown complex, Crown Center. Awash with more than 5,000 fish swimming in 260,000 gallons of water, the complex takes visitors on a virtual educational trip, from the Missouri River to the Mississippi and then onward to the Caribbean. Get nose-to-nose with the star attractions: manta rays and sharks. Then simulate the experience of being underwater by wandering through a tunnel between sections of a giant tank filled with a Technicolor cluster of exotic fish[LM6] . The aquarium's touch pool, an interactive exhibit, lets kids (carefully) pet small animals like starfish. 2475 Grand Blvd., visitsealife.com/Kansas-city. Adults from $18, kids 3-12 from $15.

Make It a Day Trip: Next door to the aquarium is a just-opened Legoland Discovery Center, with children's' rides themed on the popular toys and a building area for kids.

Kamppi Chapel of Silence

Helsinki, Finland 

A stately wooden chapel in a beehive form, the Kamppi Chapel of Silence opened in May in the quiet Narinkka Square in the heart of Finland's capital. The windowless structure captures the essence of Scandinavian design in its use of natural materials and minimalist aesthetics. Think: indirect sun via skylights, a timber roof, oiled alder walls that slope, and a set of spare, solid wood benches. Opened in May 2012, the cozy 2,900-square-foot nondenominational chapel doesn't hold services, but it does have representatives of congregational services and city counseling services on hand, in case any visitor wishes to speak to someone in a hidden room off the main space. The award-winning structure is intended to serve as a place of contemplation without any religious message—a place where stress and heartache go to fade away. Narinkka Square, Simonkatu St.

Make It a Day Trip: In 2012, Helsinki was the World Capital of Design, and the city showcased the latest in architecture, fashion, and the graphic arts around town. Luckily, the capital is small enough that you can master the lay of the land in an afternoon by rental bicycle.

The Arch Cultural Center

Mandal, Norway

The Arch, or Buen in Norwegian, is a 48,500-square-foot performing arts complex that includes a concert hall, a theater, a cinema, a library, a contemporary art gallery, and a "food laboratory" (or venue for locals to try out unusual new concoctions by national chefs). Designed by Danish architecture firm 3XN, the $30 million building has a low-slung swooping shape that resembles a summer duvet. It was unveiled in April on a river in Mandal, Norway's most southerly village of about 14,000 residents. The structure's white walls are meant to fit in with the white historic wooden houses adjoining it on the waterfront. Factoring in eco-friendly requirements, a grassy roof arcs 46-feet high over the building, beckoning children from this town to play, and making for a fresh contrast with the abandoned industrial zone that previously stood on the site. Tall, southern-facing windows maximize sunlight exposure to the lobby. Under construction is a 525-foot-long pedestrian bridge linking The Arch to the town center across the Mandel River (Mandalselva). Buen Mandal, buen.mandal.net.

Make It a Day Trip: A four-and-a-half-hour drive from capital city Oslo, Mandal provides an opportunity for visitors to see Norway's rural, un-touristed side. Explore the country's finest stretch of sand at Mandal's 2,600-foot-long beach. The swimming here is invigorating, given that the stunningly clear ocean only reaches the low 60s at its mildest.

Aizhai Suspension Bridge

Hunan Province, China

Stretching three-quarters-of-a-mile more than 1,100 feet above the base of lushly green Dehang Canyon, Aizhai Bridge (pronounced ai-jai) became the world's highest and longest tunnel-to-tunnel suspension bridge when it opened in March. The grey-and-orange steel bridge links two tunnels that connect the major cities of Chadong and Jishou via a four-lane expressway (two lanes in each direction), chopping travel time in a big way [the accounts vary sharply by how much]. A pedestrian walkway at least partway along the bridge leads to dramatic views of the natural surroundings of the steep-walled box Dehang, which translates as "beautiful valley" in the language of the local Miao people. At night, the bridge shines in the dark thanks to 1,888 white lights. 20 minutes-drive outside Jishou, a city in Hunan. Free.

Make It a Day Trip: Go beyond the urban experience of China that most Western visitors settle for and see the gorgeous country's natural diversity. Dehang is where Chinese tourists enjoy affordable domestic tourism, with campsites near waterfalls and forested bluffs.

SEE THE LANDMARKS!

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
 

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