No matter where you decide to travel, half the fun of being in a new place is seeing the sights and learning more about the area. A popular way to do that is to hop on a bus. There’s no denying that taking a sightseeing tour on a bus is easy, it’s often affordable, and it can be educational, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s memorable.
If you want to take a different kind of sightseeing tour, one that you and your family will remember for a lifetime, consider one of these kinds of tours instead.
Hop on a Train
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The railroad system in the United States is extensive, and it’s part of our storied history. Many cities throughout the United States have passenger trains that make for an unforgettable sightseeing tour experience.
For example, Lake Tahoe has many sightseeing tour options, but one of the most unique is the Wild West Tour. This fun trip enables you to hop on the Pony Express and explore the streets of an old-style western town.
The Wild West Tour in Lake Tahoe, as well as most train tours, are a bit slower than others. You can expect to spend the entire day on the train. Make sure you check ahead of time to see if the trip includes snacks and meals, or if you should plan to eat when you stop in towns along the way.
Fly in a Hot Air Balloon
If you’re really looking for a different kind of sightseeing tour, and you’re more interested in gazing at natural landscapes than listening to a tour guide drone on about buildings and famous residents, fly through the sky in a hot air balloon.
You can find hot air balloon sightseeing tours in some surprising places, like Walford, IA, but they are especially popular near national parks, like the Grand Canyon.
Just make sure you’re prepared! Preparing for a hot air balloon ride is different than preparing for other tours. A few tips include:
- Dress in layers. Even if the temperature is chilly, the ride can be hot!
- Wear shoes that you’re comfortable standing in for a long time.
- Put cameras and devices on a strap around your neck so they don’t go overboard.
- Bring something to drink or something to snack on if your trip will be long.
- Consider an empty bladder if you’ll be in the air for many hours.
Find a Self-Propelled Tour
Why rely on someone else to be in charge of the tour when you can participate as well! There are many self-propelled tours that are growing in popularity around the country.
You can take a bike tour, a kayak tour, and even a paddle board tour, but one of the most popular self-propelled tour options is the pedal pub.
This tour allows you to peddle a large bike with a bar in the middle so you can sip your way through the city. They are common in large, trendy cities, and they’re a great way to do a tour with a group.
Float down the River on a Steamboat
There’s a lot to learn about the water and coastal cities within the United States and across the world. A boat is a popular way to tour the ocean or large bodies of water, but nothing beats a steamboat if you want to tour a river. Especially if that river is the Mississippi.
If you’re lucky, you can tour the Mississippi on the largest steamboat ever built, learning about food, jazz, and the famous hospitality of the past along the way.
Take a Trolley
Sometimes you just can’t beat a driving tour. If you would rather stay on dry land in the comfort of your seat as you gaze out the window, opt for a trolley tour instead of a bus tour when you can.
Trollies often have open windows, so they are less stuffy than bus tours. They also make it a lot easier to gaze out at whatever the tour guide is calling to your attention. Trollies tend to move slower, so you can really take it all in, and of course, they make a much better picture backdrop than a bus!
A bus tour is better than no tour at all, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t better options! Do your research when you get to your destination and see what other kinds of sightseeing tours you can find. You will definitely make a lifelong memory!