You’ve made it somewhere, but now what are you going to do? Let Travel + Leisure help you sort through attractions small and large, hyper-local and touristy.
Tourism has helped create cottage industries across the world and throughout time, dating as far back as Rome’s imperial villas on Capri. There are the well-stocked pilgrimage routes embarked upon every year by people of different faiths, and the innkeepers and guidebook writers serving aristocratic Europe’s Grand Tourists in the 18th and 19th centuries.
There are the boom-and-bust roadside enterprises that sprung up beside Route 66 in the 20th century and, well, all of Orlando, Florida. These ventures have produced some truly magnificent icons, such as the Colosseum, as well as many charming gimmicks, like the World’s Largest Brick. Lucky for us, there’s room enough in the world for attractions both grand and goofy.
With over 91 million annual visitors, Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, a marketplace with roots stretching back to the 15th century and lit by colored glass lamps, is perhaps the most popular attraction in the world. Times Square, with roughly 50 million visitors (maybe 10 million of which are dressed as scruffy, off-brand superheroes or Sesame Street characters), is also one of the world's most popular attractions. Disney parks are a heavy hitter in this category, too, though more traditional and historical sites still dominate: Mexico City’s Zócalo, Washington, D.C.'s Union Station, Tokyo’s Meiji Jingu shrine.
Some attractions draw both locals and visitors, such as London’s West End theater district, or Paris’s Louvre. Others are more reliably designed for travelers, such as the World’s Largest Brick. Still, just because something is explicitly touristy doesn’t mean it’s not a lot of fun. There’s a reason, after all, so many people visit Disney parks every year. There’s also a reason people (albeit less in number than at Disney) visit Britt, Iowa’s, small-town Hobo Museum. These smaller tourist attractions are often just as—if not more—delightful as the large-scale ones.