The icon to end all icons, New York City's awe-inspiring Statue of Liberty is recognizable around the world as the symbol of American freedom.
The Statue of Liberty (or, as she is officially known, Liberty Enlightening the World) is impressive enough from across the harbor, but close up -- man, this chick is BIG. Don't be surprised if your young ones feel overwhelmed; even adults can get vertigo staring up her stately toga-clad physique. Lady Liberty weighs in at 225 tons of hammered copper, oxidized as planned to a delicate pale green, and her nose alone is four and a half feet long. Given to the United States by France, she has presided over the harbor since 1886 as a symbol of America's stature as a nation of immigrants. Beginning in late October 2011, the interior of the statue will be closed for yearlong renovations to upgrade stairways, elevators, and mechanical systems (visit www.nps.gov for up-to-date information). But even if you can't go inside, it's still worth the trip to stroll around Liberty Island and gaze out over the harbor.
Nearest Airport: John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia.
Where to Stay: $$ Excelsior Hotel, 45 W. 81st St. (tel. 800/368-4575 or 212/362-9200; www.excelsiorhotelny.com). $$$ Le Parker Meridien, 119 W. 56th St. (pedestrian entrance: 118 W. 57th St.; tel. 800/543-4300 or 212/245-5000; www.parkermeridien.com).