While it seems to be the aim of many travellers not to appear like tourists, I suggest giving up the strive to look local and join guided tour groups.
Getting lost in a foreign city might be part of the charm of travelling, but for anyone looking for a little more organisation, and the guaranteed photo opportunities, tours are the way to go.
In a recent visit to the United States, I fully embraced guided tours and came across some good ones.
Bike and Roll
I joined two guided tours with this company during my time in America, the first in New York's Central Park, the second a night tour of the major Washington DC monuments.
My greatest concern before doing the tours was about how strenuous and stressful the cycling might be. However, it turned out that the rides are fairly easy, with plenty of stops to talk about the sights. There was also a huge focus on safety, which meant I didn't need to be worried about slipping into the path of any wild American drivers.
You can catch tours with this company in Chicago, San Francisco, Washington DC, New York and Miami.
Hop-on hop-off buses
I have always been opposed to bus tours because you can't stop and look at attractions that you see. Hence why I' such a fan of the get on and off as you please system.
Signing up for a the tours at the start of your visit also gives you some options about which attractions are must-sees for you over the next few days.
Every major city has some form of these tours, in fact most have several, and offer passes for one, two or three days, which is also a good option for those who don't want to navigate local public transport systems.
Among the good ones I've come across were Boston's Old Time Trolleys, Chicago's Trolley and Double Decker Co, and Washington DC's Open Top Sightseeing.
On your feet
Walking tours should not be underestimated, and, given that you're on holiday, these are a good way to work off the results of your international taste-testing.
The tours that I came across were all run reasonably casually, so you had plenty of chances to ask the guide questions, as well as to get good photos.
Best of Portland walking tour in Oregon was among my favourites, with plenty of information not just about the history of the city, but the current politics, best food places, and latest changes also on the agenda.
The stars of Chicago are its amazing skyscrapers, and there are more than enough tours to show them off - The Architecture Foundation runs more than 70 walking tours throughout the city.
While architecture was not my thing, there is far more to the tours than just the buildings, and they give you a good sense of the city's history.
Heaps of America's big cities have famous water ways passing through them or by them, and there is always many a tourism operator standing at the ready to get you on a cruise ship, kayak, paddle-boat, or swan.
One of my favourite sight-seeing trips in Washington DC was a dinner cruise on the Potomac River, where I ate a luxury meal while watching famous sites such as the Washington Monument and the Watergate Hotel pass by.
I also did another cruise with same company, Entertainment Cruises, in Chicago on July 4, and was able to watch the fireworks over the skyline from Lake Michigan.
The Statue Cruises boat ride to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island was a New York must for me. I also came across another unique water activity at the Boston Public Garden. Although the famous Swan Boats are far from exciting, but they've been operating for more than 130 years, so for their history alone they're worth a visit.
Visiting movie locations is one of my favorite tourism activities, so I would always recommend film tours.
These tours set you up with hundreds of great photo opportunities, and often give you a bit of a run down of the city you're in too.
One of the best film tour companies I came across was On Location, a New York-based operator that also has a tour in Boston.
Unlike some bus-only movie tours, the On Location tours incorporated walking into the tours, giving you a chance for the best photos.
As well as a general New York TV and Movie sites tour, we went on the Soprano's Sites Tour, which led us through New Jersey and took us to the show's famous locations including Father Phil's Parish, and the Bada Bing.
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