UNESCO World Heritage Sites in North America
The Waitukubuli National Trail is a 185 km (115 miles) trekking trail which travers Dominica from north to south in 14 steps, each doable in a day. Most sections can be done individually, so if you don't want to do the whole trail, you just pick whatever sections you want. The trail takes in the main sights in Dominica and goes through local villages, farm lands, rainforest, and the Morne Trois Pitons National Park, Dominica's only UNESCO World Heritage Site. The trail is well marked with signs and blue and yellow ribbons.
Heralded as "one of the best examples of the art of military engineering of the early 19th century" by UNESCO, Citadelle Laferrière is easily one of the most impressive forts in the Americas in a spectacular setting. While the citadel's history is fraught with scandal of a despot king built around Haiti's independence from France around 200 years ago. Part of the allure of the site is just getting there. Whether you choose to sweat out the long hike on foot, or do it bouncing on a horse it's up to you. Either way, the citadel is well worth the effort. It is not only a highlight of Haiti, but it is arguably the best site of its kind on the continent.
The Volcanoes National Park on Big Island used to be world famous for its flows of red glowing molten lava. However, the eruption in 2018 put an end to that. Today the national park is all about crater lookouts and hiking over old lava flows. To see where the lava once flow, head to the end of Chain of Craters Road. Since the landscape is constantly changing, start your visit at the well organized visitor center, which has the latest information about what is open or not. The national park is Hawaii's only UNESCO World Heritage site.
In the 7th-century Palenque was a prosperous Mayan city within the rivaling Maya civilization. Its strong rulers build rich temples with unique hieroglyphic inscriptions. In AD 711, the neighboring kingdom of Tonina invaded the city, and in AD 740 Palenque's glorious days were over. When it eventually became abandoned, the fine stone structures were quickly swallowed by the jungle. Today the magnificent ruins are still standing proud, rising above the lush carpet of jungle. Climbing the steep steps and taking in the impressive view from one of the tall temples (like Templo de las Inscripcions or Templo de la Cruz) sure is magical â€“ no matter how many other tourists you have to share it with.
The Mexicans consider this city's old town very bonita. Rather than an industrial suburb to Mexico City which you could fear, it is surprising charming with colonial houses and colourful churches. Great eateries can be found along the streets leading to the shady zocalo (main square). Nothing will blow your mind here, it's just a fairly nice and neat little bit of classical Mexico.
Los Piramides, as the Mexican call them, is the ancient leftovers of the Teotihuacan civilization. They were build around AD 100 to AD 600 in what was once the greatest city in pre-Columbian Americas with an estimated population of 200.000. The two main pyramids rise over the massive complex of smaller platforms, plazas and the Avenue of the Dead with a backdrop of mountains. The biggest pyramid is the Pyramid of the Sun (70m high), while the minor one is the Pyramid of the Moon. In these majestic settings the Teotihuacans could practice their ancient rituals which, of course, involved some human sacrificing. To this day some still believe that the pyramids contain strong energy, which explain the occasional groups of New Ages in dolphin-pattern shirts sitting in circles and holding hands.
Narrow cobblestoned streets and colourful colonial houses already make Guanajauto one of the most charming Mexican town, but its hill side location adds a little extra. Ridiculously steep streets (and we do mean steep) and a maze of dark tunnels that traverse the town underground makes driving feels like a roller coaster ride. Finding a specific place can be close to impossible, so local boys are making a buck by guiding lost travellers through the labyrinth of winding alleyways. It's the town's many silver mines, which some are still active, that build this wonderful and weird place including the rich architecture and dark tunnels (a third of the world's silver was apparently once mined here). Do not drive in the town unless you are looking for some real adventure.
The only UNESCO Heritage Site St Kitts and Nevis have is Brimstone Hill Fortress. But what a splendid site, not just historical but also scenic. The fortress perches dramatically atop a 240 meter high extinct volcano. It was built by the British (well, by their slaves) during the 17th- and 18th-century as a defense complex against the French. Eventually, it was overrun by the French in 1782. Just a year later, the British got the island back as part of a the Versailles peace treaty. The last fortification was done in 1794 and the fortress was finally abandoned in the mid 19th-century. Today the fortress has been restored neatly, but they must have had a surplus of cannons for they have been put into use as reinforcement in walls and guard rails along the road leading up there. The site is huge and there are plenty of hidden corners. However, one of the best thing is the panoramic views over the south part of St Kitts, Caribbean Sea, and the jungle covered slopes of Mt Liamuiga (1,156 m).
St. Lucia's landmarks are the two volcanic spires, so-called pitons, rising high over the town Soufriere on the west coast. The smallest, Petit Piton, is is 743 m (2,438 ft) high while the tallest, Gros Piton is 771 m (2,530 ft) high. Both peaks can be hiked and/or climbed. Gros Piton is the most doable and can be done in 4-6 hours return and is not too difficult. A guide is required and hired at the park center. Scaling Petit Piton is a different story as it's steep with some challenging sections with fixed ropes. The pitons are UNESCO World Heritage site and depicted on St. Lucia's flag and national beer.
It doesn't get more New York iconic than this. The 93 m (305 ft.) tall (from ground to torch) copper lady was a gift from the French people to the Americans as symbol of freedom and democracy. She was made in France, shipped to the USA, and assembled from 350 pieces in 1886. She was created by the commissioned French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and it is believed that his mistress and later wife was the model for the torso, and his mother for the face. Even the famous engineer Gustave Eiffel (yes, the dude who designed Eiffel tower and Long Bien Bridge in Hanoi) was involved in the project. It is possible to get up in the crown by climbing the stairs inside her, but you need to make reservation way ahead.