The Secrets of Famous Tourist Sites
The Secrets of Famous Tourist Sites

You might think you know all there is to know about iconic landmarks like the Empire State Building, Mount Rushmore, and the Statue of Liberty, but think again. If you look closer, you might find something that’s been hiding in plain sight. From hidden rooms to misspellings, these popular tourist sites have plenty of secrets, if you only know where to look.

The Empire State Building's Hidden Viewing Deck

View over the empire state building from a roof top in New York City.
Credit: Marc Venema/ Shutterstock

Millions of tourists head straight to the Empire State Building's 86th floor to enjoy the sweeping views over Manhattan and beyond from behind a high safety fence. Those who want a view from even higher up travel to the Top Deck on the 102nd floor to gaze out at the vista from behind windows. Both options ensure visitors don’t plunge overboard, but a “secret” balcony allows those with the right connections to take in that view from a knee-high ledge with a low railing. Located on the 103rd floor, the private balcony was originally constructed to house passenger airships and blimps, a plan that never came to fruition. As it isn’t open to the public, it’s typically visited only by celebrities like Taylor Swift who you might have seen in a 2014 photograph perched on the vertigo-inducing deck.

Mount Rushmore's Secret Room

View of Mount Rushmore.
Credit: Jess Kraft/ Shutterstock

The granite face of Mount Rushmore, carved with the faces of four American Presidents, stands out in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Nearly three million people visit the site every year to gaze at the 60-foot-tall faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. What most don’t realize is that Rushmore’s artist, Gutzon Borglum, also started work on a hidden room in the mountain. Located behind the face of Lincoln, it was designed to tell future civilizations about America’s early history and ensure they understood the reason behind the monument. Although Borglum died before it was completed, a 70-foot tunnel remains and is said to contain copies of the Bill of Rights, the U.S. Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence.

Disneyland's Ultra Exclusive Club 33

Number 22 plaque on door.
Credit: DISNEYLAND/ Alamy Stock Photo

The original Disneyland, Disneyland in Anaheim, California, opened in 1955 and has become one of the world’s most famous tourist sites. Over the decades it’s amassed many passionate fans who might think they know all the park’s secrets, but not many know about an exclusive hidden restaurant that sits behind an unmarked door. Hiding in plain sight just around the corner from the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in New Orleans Square, Club 33 has been referred to as the “Holy Grail for Disney fans.” If you want to dine here, you’ll have to join a waiting list that’s said to be four years long, and pay a high price for membership. The cost to join is $25,000 plus an annual $10,000 fee. Disney World in Florida has opened its own Club 33, with an even higher  price tag.

Gateway Arch's Time Capsule

The Gateway Arch with downtown St Louis at sunset.
Credit: f11photo/ iStock

The Gateway Arch, completed in 1965, has become an iconic symbol of St. Louis, built to reflect the city’s role in the westward expansion of the U.S. A stainless-steel engineering marvel, visitors can ride a tram to reach the top which stands at 630 feet, providing a bird’s-eye view of the landscape below. What most aren’t aware of is that they’re standing near a unique piece of history. A time capsule was welded to the top of the Arch and contains the signatures of over 700,000 St. Louis residents.

The Real Four Corners

Four Corners monument.
Credit: Jeffrey M. Frank/ Shutterstock

Managed by Navajo Nation, the Four Corners Monument is located in a remote area, six miles from the tiny community of Teec Nos Pos in Arizona. It marks the spot where you can stand in four states all at the same time: Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. At least, it’s supposed to. Hundreds of visitors line up in the hot sun just to stand on top of a small metal disk, awkwardly posing so they can be in all four states at once. But the truth is, when the spot was established, 19th-century surveying technology wasn't as accurate as what we have today. In 1875, they weren’t able to follow the parallels and meridians precisely, which means the real spot that all four borders meet is actually 1,807 feet to the west.That hasn't taken the enjoyment out of the Four Corners Monument, however, and it's still widely accepted as the meeting spot of the states.

The Statue of Liberty's Lost Viewing Room

View up at the Statue of Liberty.
Credit: AG-PHOTOS/ Shutterstock

Another secret among New York City’s landmark attractions can be found in the Statue of Liberty. The torch she holds, which represents liberty, contains a room showcasing magnificent views of the city. It used to be open to the public, but in 1916 German agents blew up a pier on Black Tom Island in New York Harbor, killing seven people and sending shrapnel into Lady Liberty’s raised arm. The explosion rendered the staircase to the hidden room unsafe. Despite being well over a century ago, it’s never been repaired, which means visitors are unable to climb higher than the crown.

The Lincoln Memorial's Typo

Reflecting pool and Lincoln Memorial.
Credit: S.Borisov/ Shutterstock

The iconic memorial to Honest Abe was dedicated on May 30, 1922. It cost some $2 million and took eight years to build, constructed out of 38,000 tons of limestone, granite, and marble. Engraved within the memorial are some of the most famous words Lincoln ever said  — too bad they weren't proofread . The quote comes from the 16th President’s second Inaugural Address, where he said, “With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.” However, the engraver who carved the address on the memorial wrote “HIGH HOPE FOR THE EUTURE.” Fortunately, this is one typo that was easy to fix but evidence of the correction is still visible. If you look closely, you can see that the E’s bottom line was filled in with a color that was slightly off.

All featured products and deals are selected independently and objectively by the author. The Discoverer may receive a share of sales via affiliate links in content.