The U.S. is a huge, diverse country. In sheer terms of size mixed with variety, no other country comes close. From mountains and ski resorts to tropical beaches and dry, hot deserts, America is in many ways a microcosm of the Earth itself. Seemingly every element of nature is represented, including culturally.
A melting-pot from its outset, America has benefited from centuries of accumulation of the renegades of the world, those looking for a fresh start and a new beginning, who arrived with their best traditions and recipes in tow. You can see and taste it all here - from the big city lights of New York to the down-home feel of the heartlands - America is a place to be experienced.
The United States is a massive country, third only to Russia and Canada in total land mass in the world. Across this broad, diverse land are cities and landmarks that satisfy any traveler - no matter what your interest is.
From coast to coast, from the frigid beauty of Maine to the enrapturing desert of the Southwest, America has it all.
New York - One of the most highly visited cities in the world each year, New York is a mecca of culinary, economic, culture and nightlife pursuits. From the hip coolness of Greenwich Village to the massive presence of Midtown, New York stands at the top of everyone's American bucket list for a reason.
Miami - In many ways, Miami is the New York of the South. The gateway to South America, Miami is hot, sultry, sexy and wild. If you're looking to party hard and live it up like a celebrity, Miami is the place to go.
Chicago - You'll come for the pizza and stay for the beautiful downtown, the history and the unmatched culture Chicago offers. An original American industrial staple, Chicago is the lone big city that technically sits in the American heartland - and you'll feel the camaraderie.
Denver - The new legislation on marijuana aside, Denver is utterly gorgeous and fantastic. A winter wonderland where you can ski in the morning and play golf in the afternoon, Denver is a city full of great food, hip new restaurants, craft beer and, yes, legal weed. Don't forget your camera, however, as the views in and around Denver match anything you'll see in any city in the world.
Seattle - Perhaps no city is like Seattle, which sits in the northwest corner of the country, nearly constantly pounded by overcast and rain, yet so undeniably cool that no one cares. Seattle is beautiful, clean and forward-thinking. Great beer, some of the hottest up and coming chefs in America and absolutely stunning vistas await you.
Boston - American's might claim Boston as the Dublin of the west, which is somewhat deserving given its reputation as a hard-drinking, hard-working 1st cousin of the Irish capital. Still possessing the highest per-capita of Irish descendants in the U.S., Boston hangs tightly to its Irish Catholic heritage with great Guinness, traditional Irish pubs (done right) and loads of fascinating history.
San Francisco - A city that truly marches to the beat of its own drum, San Francisco has perfected the term off-beat. Aside from being the hippest city since being the center of the 1960's counter-culture movement, San Francisco has continued to invest and reinvent itself in following decades through culinary exploration and one of the most inviting landscapes in the U.S.
Nashville - The Music City is one of the fastest-growing and oft-visited cities in America. Through re-gentrification of parts of downtown and neighboring communities, Nashville is now a mecca of music, food and great whisky. Come hungry and leave with a hangover.
Austin - Much like Nashville, Austin sits squarely on a thriving music scene, great people and great food. The Austin locals are accommodating and warm, and they'll show you around to every great B-B-Q joint in the city, all while prodding you with craft beers. It's a truly fun city - light-hearted, safe and fascinating.
Las Vegas - It's called Sin City for a reason. Nowhere but Vegas can you win a fortune and lose it in the same day - let alone get married! Las Vegas is its own animal, being the gambling capital of America that sits like an oasis in the middle of the scorching Southwest. The bright lights, the sounds, the shows and the entertainment - Vegas is something you may only do once, but you have to do at least once.
Yellowstone National Park - The home of "Old Faithful", Yellowstone is one of the most pristine natural areas and greatest attraction in the United States. The park spans an area of nearly 3,500 square miles, comprising lakes, canyons, rivers and mountain ranges.
Grand Canyon - Vast, mysterious and beautiful, the Grand Canyon is a place of absolute wonder that must be seen to be believed.
Niagara Falls - Resting on the U.S./Canada border in New York State, Niagara is a humbling natural site to take in. More than 3,100 tons of water flow over the cliffs every second.
Statue of Liberty - Lady Liberty greets visitors from the east as they fly into New York much the way they greeted immigrants at Ellis Island more than 100 years ago. It remains an American icon.
Rocky Mountains - Stretching from New Mexico all the way into Canada, the "Rockies" are among some of the most captivating mountains in the world and are a must for nature-lovers, skiers and photography buffs.
Washington, D.C. - A time capsule itself, D.C. is the nation's capital and home to not only the capital building, but the White House, Pentagon and a slew of impressive museums that chronicle American history.
Upper Peninsula of Michigan - Michigan is separated into two areas - the mainland to the south and the Upper Peninsula, which was ceded to them in an agreement in the 19th century with the state of Ohio. The "U.P.", as it's called, is a simply stunning location for nature, waterfalls, animals of all kind and outdoor activities such as kayaking and golf.
Old West Ghost Towns - The fascinating Gold Rush that began in the mid-19th century pushed populations west, opening mining camps that promised cosmopolitan futures only to falter. In their wake, over 150 years later, are numerous "ghost towns" throughout the American heartland and Old West such as Tombstone and Deadwood that simply have to be seen.
Redwood Forests of Northern California - A stunning display of vistas, the Redwoods in Northern California are a must-see for nature lovers. Particularly stunning are Muir Woods, named after 19th-century explorer John Muir and the site of the crescendo in James Stewart's classic film, Vertigo.
Lake Tahoe - Only a short drive from Muir Woods, Lake Tahoe is a beautiful natural area that both winter wonderland and summer playground. Make sure to check out the "tea house", a small structural ruin sitting atop Fannette Island in the middle of Emerald Bay. Reaching the tea-house presents a challenging climb, yet also breath-taking 360 degree views.
The United States is different in establishing an itinerary from other countries, primarily because of its size. While it's impossible to include some cities into a multiple-city itinerary due to their connectedness to other cities geographically, we've included as much as possible.
We have a few ideas listed below that are sensitive to geographic proximity and what we recommend seeing. You'll see five different orientations, flying into five primary U.S. hubs - New York City, Atlanta, Miami, Denver, and Los Angeles. These itineraries are structured with the goal of saving money by traveling via train or car versus purchasing additional flights.
Depending on the length of your trip, and taking geographic proximity into account, the following are our recommended priorities:
Option 1: Northeastern Itinerary:
3 days: New York City
5 days, add: Boston
8 days, add: Up-state New York (Adirondack Mountains/Niagara Falls )
10 days, add: Philadelphia
12 days, add: Washington, D.C.
More: If staying two weeks or longer, extend into Southern Itinerary, found below. Use Raleigh, North Carolina as a point between Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. You can replace Raleigh in the itinerary below by extending time on the Carolina coast in Charleston.
Option 2: Southern Itinerary
3 days: Atlanta
5 days, add: Nashville
8 days, add: Raleigh
10 days, add: Charleston
12 days, add: Savannah
More: If staying two weeks or longer, extend into Florida Itinerary, found below. Use Jacksonville, Florida as a point between Savannah and Miami. Replace Jacksonville in Florida itinerary by extending stay in either Orlando/Tampa.
Option 3: Florida Itinerary
3 days: Miami
5 days, add: Fort Lauderdale
8 days, add: Orlando/Tampa
10 days, add: Jacksonville
12 days, add: Panama City/Panhandle
Option 4: Western Itinerary
3-4 days: Los Angeles (consider extension into San Diego)
6 days, add: San Francisco
8 days, add: Lake Tahoe
10 days, add: Portland
12 - 14 days, add: Seattle
More: If staying two weeks or longer, extend into Central Itinerary, found below. Use Jacksonville, Florida as a point between Savannah and Miami. Replace Jacksonville in Florida itinerary by extending stay in either Orlando/Tampa.
Option 5: Central Itinerary
3 days: Denver (consider extension into Vail or Breckenridge)
6 days, add: South Dakota (Mount Rushmore and Deadwood)
8 days, add: Yellowstone National Park
10 days, add: Salt Lake City
14 days, add: Las Vegas and Grand Canyon
17 days, add: Phoenix and San Diego
Language: English. Because of America's geographic isolation from Europe and Asia, English is widely spoken with a small percentage of the population having bi-lingual abilities. Those that do speak a second language often do so because it's in their heritage as a generational resident of the U.S. In deep parts of Texas and Florida, Spanish is widely spoken (however, two different dialects to separate from Mexican Spanish and South American Spanish) and in the Northeast there are smatterings of French and German.
Currency: The United States Dollar (USD). The USD against the Euro is currently 1 USD to 0.92 EUR.
Power Adapter: In the United States of America the power sockets are of type A and B. The standard voltage is 120 V and the standard frequency is 60 Hz.
Crime & Safety: America is far too big to generalize crime statistics in any one area with another, but there are a few big cities where crime is a real problem. New York, Chicago, Miami, New Orleans, Los Angeles and Atlanta seemingly always have high murder rates and drug crimes, but much of the criminal activity happens in areas you wouldn't go as a tourist (and shouldn't). People still travel to these places, in droves (as we do, too), without ever experiencing what they would term a dangerous situation. However, to deny that America's crime statistics aren't incredibly high would be naive.
As a rule of thumb, you can drink and have a good time virtually anywhere. If you don't flash anything that makes you a target or instigate altercations, you'll be fine in 99% of the U.S. In what might be termed "2nd-tier" travel destinations in slightly smaller cities such as Nashville or Denver, you would be hard-pressed to feel much safer as a tourist.
Emergency Number: 911
Read More About the United States
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