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Renegade Tour
Photograph: Courtesy Museum Hack

10 unique tours to explore the country

Get out of your comfort zone and explore the country like never before when booking these unique tours of America

Written by
Patty Lee

As anyone who has wandered aimlessly through a museum knows, sometimes a tour is actually a good idea. Finding a truly interesting one, however, is the hard part. We want exciting sights, guides with insider knowledge and, most of all, guaranteed fun. Lucky for vacationers across the country, those tours actually exist—whether you’re making your way through the best art museums in America, embarking on the best cheap family vacations or seeking adventures while exploring the best honeymoon destinations in the US, here are 10 tours to add to your itinerary.

Unique tours of America

Sunrise hot air balloon ride in Orlando, Florida
Photograph: Courtesy Visit Orland

1. Sunrise hot air balloon ride in Orlando, Florida

Even if you’re not a morning person, this epic journey into the sky is worth waking up for. Watch the crew inflate the massive balloon, then hop on in for an aerial tour of Orlando. You’ll pass over the city’s beloved theme parks, orange groves and swamps as the sun rises, giving way to views that are so majestic, the experience may even rival that of the Magic Kingdom.

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“Walking Dead to the Hunger Games” tour in Atlanta, Georgia
Photograph: Dan Tanner

2. “Walking Dead to the Hunger Games” tour in Atlanta, Georgia

Calling all pop culture junkies. Led by Dan Tanner, this three-hour stroll, which can be a combination of both sets or just one, meanders through a number of iconic filming locations in the recently-minted “Hollywood of the South.” From The Walking Dead’s ominously-empty highway to the Hunger Games’s tribute quarters, it’s your chance to walk in the shoes of Rick Grimes and Katniss Everdeen—minus the zombies and post-apocalyptic dictators, of course.

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Hummer night tour of the Sonoran desert in Phoenix, Arizona
Photograph: Shutterstock

3. Hummer night tour of the Sonoran desert in Phoenix, Arizona

Join an off-hours drive through the Sonoran to experience the desert in a completely new light (or lack thereof). The Hummers launch into the Sonoran at sunset and roll through the breathtaking vista as the sky darkens, each armed with a guide who boasts extensive knowledge of Arizona’s wildlife and fauna. As you traverse the sandscape, be on the lookout for stirring creatures as they wake from their daytime slumber.

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Airplane tour over the Rockies in Denver, Colorado
Photograph: Shutterstock

4. Airplane tour over the Rockies in Denver, Colorado

Get high—literally—on a private plane ride over the sprawling mountain range, complete with glasses of bubbly in hand. The intimate flight cruises over glaciers, ski resorts and other stunning sights before turning back and flying over downtown Denver.

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Lake Carolyn boat tour in Dallas, Texas
Photograph: Courtesy Irving Water Activities

5. Lake Carolyn boat tour in Dallas, Texas

Less than a 20-minute drive from Dallas lies Irving, an economic powerhouse where a laundry list of Fortune 500 companies (Exxon Mobil, AT&T) are headquartered. It’s no surprise, then, that glass office towers surround its main attraction, the scenic Lake Carolyn. To get the best views of the city, take an intimate eight-person cruise that winds through the waters’ canals and floats underneath Irving’s kissing bridge. Is it Venice? Not quite. But the barbecue here is certainly better.

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Renegade tour in Washington, D.C.
Photograph: Courtesy Museum Hack

6. Renegade tour in Washington, D.C.

Informed history buffs from Museum Hack turn a potentially snooze-worthy outing at the National Gallery of Art into an afternoon filled with intrigue. A thoughtfully-curated walk through the three-story building means you hit all the must-view works of art—like the only Da Vinci on view in the western hemisphere—accompanied by engaging stories behind the making of those masterpieces. (For example, learn how Vincent van Gogh really lost his ear.)

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Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts
Photograph: Michael Blanchard Photography

7. Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts

Long before the Women’s March, there was the Boston Tea Party, which, despite its name, wasn’t a fête so much as an act of defiance. This all-inclusive tour turns back the clock to that fateful day—that’s December 16, 1773 for those who weren’t paying attention in history class—immersing guests in a colonial town hall meeting, “dump the tea” reenactment and tea-brewing demo. Pinkies up!

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Subterranean Seattle walking history tour in Seattle, Washington
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Tjflex2

8. Subterranean Seattle walking history tour in Seattle, Washington

Hit the underground streets of Seattle on this hour-long walking tour through Emerald City’s history-filled tunnels. Weave through Pioneer Square’s subterranean pathways, which—when they were constructed more than a century ago—housed not just storefronts, but actual sidewalks. The entire tunnel-connected community was buried after a fire ravaged the city in 1889 and the remnants are now preserved for history lovers.

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Tjflex2

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Architectural tour of Tate House Museum in Portland, Maine
Photograph: Courtesy Tate House Museum

9. Architectural tour of Tate House Museum in Portland, Maine

The carefully-preserved Tate House dates back to 1755, when it was built by a British Royal Navy office named George—you guessed it—Tate. The hour-and-a-half-long walk-through digs into the home’s unique features, such as its gambrel roof and gigantic chimney, and offers a rare peek into pre-Revolutionary architecture.

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“Houston from Below: Underground Tunnel Tour” in Houston, Texas
Photograph: Courtesy Visit Houston

10. “Houston from Below: Underground Tunnel Tour” in Houston, Texas

As they say, “Everything’s bigger in Texas” and that’s even true underground. The largest city in the Lone Star state boasts a seven-mile subterranean walkway that connects dozens of buildings, housing everything from restaurants and supermarkets to an entire movie theater. Wander through stretches of the pedestrian tunnel system with a knowledgeable local lead, choosing from one of three themes: architecture, shopping and dining, or businesses and hotels.

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