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10 Best Places to See From Above

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RIO DE JANEIRO
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For the ultimate bird's eye view of your destination there's no more thrilling way to get your bearings than zooming over the landscape in a helicopter. Whether hovering over a kaleidoscope of corals at the Great Barrier Reef or soaring around the Statue of Liberty in New York, here are 10 of the best places in the world to see from above.

Grand Canyon

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The world wonder of the Grand Canyon is so immense you'll have to take to the skies to get a feel for its true magnitude -- an incredible 446 km long and up to 29 km wide. Grand Canyon helicopter flights are very popular, with various flight paths taking in Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, the Kaibab National Forest and the Grand Canyon National Park. Best of all, you can fly through the canyon itself, plummeting 1,500 feet beneath the rim for a spectacular journey through the Dragon Corridor, the canyon's widest and deepest section where the vast expanses of colored rock showcase millions of years of geology.

Las Vegas

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Don't blow all your cash on the slot machines because there's an even better way to take in the dazzling lights of Las Vegas -- by helicopter. Fly over the famous Strip at night for the most atmospheric views over downtown Vegas, the Stratosphere Tower and the Luxor Pyramid. Keep your eyes peeled for overhead views of New York New York, Bellagio, Paris, the Venetian, Caesars Palace and Treasure Island, as well as getting the chance to peek into the famous resort pools and hotels. Prefer a daytime flight? Combine it with a flight over the nearby Red Rock Canyon where you'll get views of the Nellis Air Force Base, the Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Mt Charleston.

Hawaii

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Swap the urban sprawl for an up-close encounter with the stunning natural scenery of the most tropical state in the US with a helicopter flight over Hawaii. Fly over dense rainforest, crashing waterfalls -- including the epic 'Wall of Tears' -- and volcanic peaks for a breathtaking airborne adventure. Best of all, you can look down on one of the most active volcanoes in the world, Kilauea, which is often oozing lava from its gaping crater.

New York

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Few city skylines are as iconic as New York's but the only way to cram all the city sights into one tour is by soaring overhead. Helicopter flights over New York head up the Hudson River, taking in the Financial District, the Yankee Stadium, the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, the George Washington Bridge and Central Park, as well as offering unbeatable aerial views over Manhattan, New York Harbor and Staten Island. The main highlight though, is the chance to circle the inimitable Statue of Liberty -- the city's most legendary landmark.

San Francisco

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If you can't make it to New York, taking a helicopter ride over the San Francisco skyline comes a close second, with its exhilarating mix of towering bridges, rolling hills and urban beaches. Flights swoop over the notorious Alcatraz Island, the magnificent 1.7-mile long Golden Gate Bridge, the picturesque San Francisco Bay and the historic Ferry Building, but for the most atmospheric views, take to the skies at night when the city will be aglow with neon.

Great Barrier Reef

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Often deemed the 'eighth wonder of the world' Australia's underwater marvel is one of the country's biggest attractions. Divers and snorkelers flock to the northern shores to experience the colorful coral gardens underwater, but to really grasp the reef's size, take a helicopter ride over the Great Barrir Reef. Flights not only offer a bird's eye view of the reef -- an otherworldly mass of corals - but take in the World Heritage Rainforest of the Daintree National Park, the surrounding white sand cays and the nearby city of Cairns.

Los Angeles

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There are few better ways to mark your arrival in Los Angeles than looping around the iconic Hollywood sign in your own personal VIP helicopter. Couple it with a glamorous aerial tour of L.A. and the Santa Monica Mountains, the Palos Verdes Peninsula and the Hermosa, Redondo and Manhattan beaches, then soar over the celebrity studded haunts of Beverly Hills and Bel Air's luxury mansions. Your guide can even point out the most iconic L.A. sights from above - the Hollywood Bowl, Sunset Strip, Downtown L.A. and Universal Studios.

French Riviera

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Join the European jetset for a James Bond-esque retreat to the star-studded beaches of France, where you can enjoy a taste of the highlife with a helicopter tour of the French Riviera over the famous Mediterranean coastline. Floating overhead, the shimmering ocean, luxury yachts and endless beaches provide the perfect backdrop, but the real highlights are the panoramic views of sights like the Prince's Palace, the Rock of Monaco, the Monte Carlo Casino and the Monaco Grand Prix race track.

New Zealand

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The self-proclaimed adventure capital of the world offers plenty of ways to take flight, but if you'd rather not jump out of a plane or turn yourself into a human yo-yo, get a view while safely strapped into a helicopter seat instead. Choose from a jaw-dropping New Zealand helicopter flight over the glistening Franz Josef or Fox Glacier on the South Island's West coast; a close up view of the iconic Sky Tower and volcanic Rangitoto Island in Auckland; a bird's eye view of the famous Craters of the Moon and the mighty Huka Falls at Lake Taupo; or hovering over bubbling mud pools in Rotorua.

Rio de Janeiro

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Taking the pilgrimage to the famous Christ the Redeemer Statue at the summit of Corcovado Mountain is a right of passage for visitors to Rio de Janeiro, but for an even better view of the holy man, take a Rio helicopter flight over the mountaintop instead. That's not all; you'll get a bird's eye view of the legendary Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, Sugar Loaf Mountain, the Rodrigo de Freitas Lake and the Maracana Stadium. Make sure to toast your safe return with a Caipirinha - Brazil's national cocktail.

- Zoe Smith for Viator