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10 Ways to Experience Night Tourism

Taking after-dark city tours and experiencing nature at night are some of the fresh new ways you can see the world.

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Photo: Nils Ribi

See the Stars Come Out at Night (and Much More)

The world's a different place at night. Everything looks different, and you hear new sounds, spot nocturnal creatures and start to appreciate colors and lights — even artificial ones — in fresh ways. We've rounded up some of the best nighttime experiences around.

Shown here: the Milky Way, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter and stars over Alturas Lake in Idaho's Sawtooth National Recreation Area

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Photo: Shutterstock/Taewafeel/EF Go Aheads Tours

Penguin Parade, Phillip Island, Australia

Every day, the tiny penguins of Phillip Island, Australia, leave their burrows and dive into the ocean to fish. At sunset, they come ashore and parade home to feed their babies. Watch them waddle by from a grandstand, special underground viewing area or ranger-led tour. This ticketed attraction is in Phillip Island Nature Parks, about 90 minutes outside Melbourne. One way to see the penguin parade: book EF Go Tours’ Highlights of Australia: The Great Barrier Reef to Sydney.

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San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

For some of the best stargazing in the world, visit Tierra Atacama in San Pedro de Atacama, a desert village in northern Chile. The desert’s naturally dry conditions, lack of air pollution and altitude make it easy to see the stars, and the visibility is so clear that scientists travel from all over the world to study astronomy in San Pedro de Atacama. Early Atacameñans once “drew” the constellations, not with lines between the stars, but by imagining figures in the dark spaces between them. Look for them on a guided tour with Atacama Stargazing, offered by Tierra Atacama, an award-winning boutique hotel in San Pedro de Atacama. Tours are also offered by various local outfitters.

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Photo: Chris Hardy Photography/Bruce Munro Photography

Light at Sensorio, Paso Robles, California

All 100,000 spheres at the Field of Light Sensorio, in Paso Robles, are solar-powered. Visitors walk through this 15-acre landscape in southern California to see the spheres, held on thin stems, as they subtly ”bloom” in waves and spirals of changing colors. Another art installation, Light Towers, shown here, is the work of the same artist, Bruce Munro. Sixty-nine towers made from more than 17,000 solar-powered wine bottles morph their colors to a musical score; they’re a tribute to South California’s wine country. Dates and times of operation vary, so check the website for details and tickets.

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