Must-See Spots This Summer: Nation’s Top-Ranked Attractions

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You can breathe easy. Summer doesn't officially kick off until Saturday, which means you still have plenty of time to plan a seasonal getaway. But before you book a spontaneous European jaunt, consider an excursion to landmark destinations on this side of the Atlantic.

TripAdvisor is determined to make sure you see only the best of it. The travel site announced its 2014 Travelers' Choice Awards this week and spotlighted the top 10 attractions in the nation.

As July 4 nears, we take a closer look at the must-see destinations bound to help you feel like a patriot.

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While the fields and monuments are the main attractions at this standout national park, the Visitor's Center has plenty to offer as well. Be sure to see the enormous Gettysburg Cyclorama. Painted by Paul Dominique Philippoteaux, the canvas brings the brutal battle to life.

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Built to commemorate the 16th president, the memorial is a cultural touchstone. Martin Luther King Jr. made his "I Have a Dream" speech on its steps during the dog days of summer in 1963.

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The bridge itself is iconic, but its views of the San Francisco Bay are just as memorable. Rent a bike to take them in from the top. Once you've crossed the signature structure, reward your stamina at the Alice Waters-accented Warming Hut Cafe and Bookstore below.

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The former prison shuttered 1963, but "the Rock" is still open to curious visitors. Be sure to book tickets well in advance as the popular spot is frequently sold out. Listen up: a truly stellar audio tour is included in the price of admission. Don't miss it.

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According to the History Channel, the USS Arizona ship filled its tanks with some 1.5 million gallons of fuel the day before the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Over 70 years later, the wreckage continues to leech approximately 9 gallons of oil each day into the harbor. Even as scientists have raised environmental concerns, many visitors are moved by the glistening slick that often coats the surface of the surrounding water. The still-dripping oil "is sometimes referred to as the “tears of the Arizona,” or “black tears.”

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Once you've taken a requisite selfie at the Anish Kapoor-designed reflective sculpture, feel free to stick around Millennium Park. We suggest you pick up picnic sandwiches at nearby Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread and Wine and revel in Chicago's gorgeous summer weather on a sunny afternoon.

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After the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund raised enough money to construct a monument to honor the fallen, it held an open design contest to settle on a definitive concept. Over 1,400 submissions were entered to be judged anonymously. The selection panel ultimately chose a design imagined by 21-year-old Yale University student Maya Lin. She had created it for a class.

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The stunning reading room at this institutional research library is temporarily closed, but its graceful façade and intelligent exhibitions are still worth a trip to Midtown Manhattan.

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After a fire ravaged the cathedral in 1898, the church embarked on an extensive renovation project. Local artist Christopher Murphy installed 24 murals into the renewed space. All of them remain on display.

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The memorial is made up of a number of meaningful components, but perhaps the starkest is the simplest among them. A granite wall bears an inscription inlaid in silver: "Freedom is Not Free."

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