Travel plans in the U.S. thwarted by the government shutdown that has closed down all national parks and public museums? Here's a list of alternative destinations that may actually help you discover hidden gems traditionally bypassed for the typical tourist hotspots.
Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.
Alternative: International Spy Museum, National Geographic Museum
James Bond fan? On now at the International Spy Museum is an exhibit that traces 50 years of Bond villains that includes 100 film props such as airships, underground lairs, nuclear weapons and sharks. Throughout the exhibit, real-life spies also reveal connections between the Bond films and actual world events.
The National Geographic Museum is also offering free admission to government workers through the remainder of the government shutdown. To celebrate the magazine's 125th anniversary, the museum has created an exhibit that traces the publication's coverage of the planet since 1888. "A New Age of Exploration" features behind-the-scenes footage of photographers on assignment, scientists in the field and cartographers mapping the Earth throughout the years. The exhibit closes exceptionally for one day, October 10.
Statue of Liberty, New York
Alternative: You can still get your iconic photo of the Lady Liberty, even though she's closed to visitors. Just hop on the free Staten Island Ferry that cruises by the monument, or board Statue Cruises, the official ticket and tour provider of the Statue of Liberty. As a result of the shutdown, the cruise line is offering a one-hour sightseeing tour of the New York Harbor that will pass by the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the 9/11 memorial.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Alternative: Meteor Crater
As a private family-owned and operated site, Meteor Crater is open to the public. At nearly one mile (1.6 km) across and 2.4 miles in circumference (3.9 km), the world's best preserved meteorite impact site is the result of of a spectacular asteroid landing which traveled at 26,000 miles/ an hour (41,843 km/hr) around 50,000 years ago.
Yosemite National Park, California
Alternative: Bodie State Historic Park, Mono Lake
As a state park, the Bodie State Historic Park is unaffected by the federal shutdown and may be of particular interest to history buffs and lovers of the Wild Wild West. Once a bustling California gold-mining town, visitors can walk the deserted streets and find parts of the town preserved in "arrested decay" with abandoned buildings left in its original state. Likewise, Mono Lake is a state park making it open for business. Covering about 65 square miles (168 square km), the saline lake is one of the oldest in North America at more than a million years old and is home to a unique and productive ecosystem that includes up to two million birds.