With so much to see in this vast country, it may be difficult to know where to start when it comes to planning a trip in the United States. World-class cities, some known for history and others known for fun or glamour, give visitors a broad spectrum of places to choose from. Along the Eastern Seaboard, New York and Washington, D.C. offer two uniquely different city experiences. Along the West Coast, San Francisco and Los Angeles are both hot spots for tourists. In the Southwest, Las Vegas brings the desert to life, and the Grand Canyon shows off one of nature's greatest creations. Beyond the mainland are the beaches of Waikiki and the tropical Hawaiian Islands. These are just a few key locations, but wonderful destinations for any type of traveler can be found all over the country.
1. New York
New York City is like no other city in the world, and one that must be experienced to be fully appreciated. For first-time visitors, walking the streets can be like walking through a movie set, with famous sites at every turn, from the Empire State Building, to Rockefeller Plaza, the Chrysler Building, Central Park, Times Square, 5th Avenue, Broadway, and of course, the Statue of Liberty. Sightsee by day, take in a Broadway show in the evening, work in time for shopping, and relax and reminisce over a fantastic meal. This is New York. With too much to see and do in a day or a weekend, this is a city worth visiting time and time again.
This charming and picturesque West Coast city is the perfect getaway destination for couples, singles, or families. Famous sites, charming streets, beautiful views, and outdoor dining are all part of what makes San Francisco such a great place to visit. Take a cruise on San Francisco Bay, tour Alcatraz, drive over the Golden Gate Bridge, wander around Fisherman's Wharf, or hop on a street car to explore the city sites. Summer or fall is a wonderful time to visit, but the climate here is mild and any time of year is pleasant.
3.The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is one of those must-see, bucket-list destinations that have been attracting visitors for generations. Gazing out over the cliff walls to an endless horizon and an unfathomable depth below is one of the highlights of any trip in the United States. Visiting the Grand Canyon, in the American Southwest, can easily be done on a day trip from Las Vegas, Phoenix, and some smaller cities in the vicinity, or incorporated into a larger driving trip through Arizona and surrounding states. A train trip from Williams, AZ is another delightful way to experience the canyon. You can visit the south rim of the Grand Canyon, which is the most popular and most visited section, at any time of year. The road to the north rim is closed in winter due to snow.
This glittering city of lights in the desert holds a unique appeal, and one that has been attracting visitors for decades. Huge resort complexes, with all kinds of things to see and do at any time of year, have made this a destination that draws everyone, from want-to-be newlyweds who come here to say their vows, to families who just want to hang out around a pool. Entertainment options are endless, with some of the music industry's top stars calling Las Vegas home and playing to packed audiences every night. When you've had your fill of the city, there is plenty to explore in the surrounding area, with the Grand Canyon, Death Valley National Park, and Hoover Dam all within easy day-tripping distance.
Washington, D.C. is the US capitol and home to some of the most famous sites and national treasures in America, from the White House and the Capitol Building to the Smithsonian museums. This city should be on everyone's itinerary of the East Coast. In the spring, the Cherry Blossom Festival is a beautiful time to visit, when the trees are in full bloom. Fall is also a good time, when the hot summer temperatures have cooled off enough to make walking around outside very comfortable and the rush of the busy summer season has passed. In winter, the crowds are definitely smaller, and the city is stunning after a fresh snowfall.
The hot spot of southern Florida, Miami is more than just a great beaching destination. Wonderful beaches can be found all over Florida, but Miami offers an atmosphere like no other city in the state. The Cuban vibe along Calle Ocho in Little Havana, the Art Deco District in Miami Beach that calls to mind the 1930s era, the endless parade of sports cars cruising along Ocean Drive in the evenings, and the summertime beach scene of South Beach are just some of the unique aspects that make Miami one of the best cities in the US. For a unique experience take a day trip from Miami to Everglades National Park to see alligators, turtles, and an array of birds in this one-of-a-kind wetlands area.
Southern California has a culture all of its own, and Los Angeles is the epicenter of this unique area. The city has always been associated with glamour, with the suburbs of Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Bel Air dominating pop culture. There are all kinds of vacation possibilities in the Los Angeles area. Hollywood is a must for movie lovers, families come to experience nearby Disneyland, and shoppers will find plenty of possibilities. If you are looking for a laid-back beach scene, head to Venice Beach. For an interesting natural history experience be sure to visit the Page Museum and La Brea Tar Pits to see fossil remains of prehistoric animals that roamed this area 40,000 years ago.
Orlando, which for most tourists is synonymous with Kissimmee, is all about the theme parks; Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld. Families flock here to these huge attractions, and kids love it, making school holidays the busiest time to visit. Christmas and summer holidays are particularly hectic. But adults will also enjoy the parks, as well as the shopping, dining, golfing, and sunshine. Orlando is primed for tourists, with all kinds of hotels and home rentals available in the area. The city is located inland but within easy day-tripping distance of both coasts and the popular Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral on the Atlantic Coast.
9. New Orleans
New Orleans is like no other southern city. The mix of cultures, with strong French and Spanish influences, is more reminiscent of the Caribbean than the United States. Cajun and Creole cuisine, jazz music, and the architecture of the French Quarter set this city apart and make it a perfect destination for a long weekend getaway. The highlight of New Orleans' calendar year is Mardi Gras, when elaborate costumes and outrageous floats light up the streets, music can be heard everywhere, and the celebrations seem never-ending. However, if crowds are not your thing, you may want to avoid this time of year. The best time to visit is from December to May. June to November is hotter and prone to storms and hurricanes.
Set on the shores of Lake Michigan, Chicago is a great summer destination, with parks and a beautiful waterfront. But its arts and cultural attractions, as well as fantastic shopping, make it a popular year-round destination. The Magnificent Mile, along Michigan Avenue, is the city's most famous area, with high-end luxury stores and galleries, along with famous buildings and outstanding architecture. Some of the tourist highlights include Millennium Park, the Art Institute of Chicago, Navy Pier, and the views from the Willis Tower SkyDeck.
In the heart of the Southwestern US, Phoenix is a huge, sprawling city that attracts large numbers of northerners during the winter months, who come here to escape the cold weather. The city and surroundings, which include Scottsdale, Mesa, and several other townships, are known in particular for their golf resorts and spa retreats. Phoenix is a great destination for golfing, shopping, relaxing, and hanging out by a pool. Natural areas that showcase the desert landscape can be found within the city and nearby, providing easy access for light hiking or mountain biking. Summer temperatures can be extremely high, but October to April is very pleasant, especially if you want to spend time outdoors.
In the northwest corner of the US is the lovely coastal city of Seattle. Surrounded by water and snow-capped mountains, the city is reminiscent of Vancouver, Canada, with an active, outdoor oriented population and countless things to see and do. Key sights in the city include the impossible-to-miss Space Needle, the lively Pike Place Market, and the waterfront. Within easy day-tripping distance of the city are beautiful beaches, the Hoh Rain Forest, and mountain landscapes, all waiting to be explored. Although the winter months see more rain than summer, the city has a mild climate and is a nice place to visit at any time of year.
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