One of the USA’s nicknames is the world’s melting pot, and it doesn’t take long to see why. The country is home for a diverse range of people, and this cultural diversity is matched only by the country’s geographical diversity. Coastal Mediterranean, arid desert, subtropical southern, and temperate northern climates can all be found in various regions of the country, with fifty continental states that each have their own unique flavour.
Where to Go in the USA
The New England states, which include Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, are collectively home to some of the oldest cities in the country, but this part of the US is known not just for its history—the scenery here is simply spectacular, particularly in the autumn, when foliage starts to change colour.
New York is easily the most well-known of the Mid-Atlantic states, which also include New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Fast-paced and exciting, New York is one of the world’s most famous cities, and provides a wealth of fabulous holiday experiences, but outside of the city, New York State has plenty to offer too.
Down-home hospitality is the order of the day in the Southern states, including Alabama, Tennessee, and Virginia, as well as New Orleans, famous for its distinct culture and cuisine, and musical traditions. Also in the south is Florida, a Southern state with a difference, with some fabulous family attractions, including Disney World, and the Everglades National Park.
The central regions of the USA include the Midwest, Great Plains, and Rocky Mountains states—farmlands and forests, prairies and high plains, and spectacular mountains—and the state of Texas, immense in size, and home to endless plains, mountains, deserts, and beaches.
Many of the south-western states, such as New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada, as well as California, are strongly influenced by Mexican, Spanish, and Native American culture, which can be seen in regional cuisine and art, among other things. The south-west is also home to some of the country’s most popular natural attractions, including the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
What to See and Do
- In Orlando Florida, visit fabulous family fun parks such as Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and Seaworld.
- Also in Florida, is the Everglades National Park, which offers an extensive range of programmes, activities and tours. Lots of wildlife to be seen, including alligators, turtles, deer, and many different birds, and on occasion, the very elusive Florida panther.
- Memphis, Nashville, and New Orleans have historically played important roles in the development of the country’s musical traditions, with jazz, blues, rock & roll, and country music prominent in many of the major attractions of these cities. Beale Street, Sun Studio, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and The New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park are just a few of the many music-themed attractions in these cities.
- Casinos, extravagant shows, music, immense luxury hotels, and more, are all in Nevada, one of the country’s most famous cities. See a show, play the slots, or simply be dazzled by the incredible after-dark light shows that adorn the city every evening.
- New York City is home to some of the country’s most iconic landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty on Staten Island, the Empire State Building, and Times Square.
- Unique rural charm abounds in the New England States, with coastal fishing villages, lakes and mountains, and ocean-side resorts. Tour the lighthouses of Cape Cod, head to Boston to spend time in the city’s many museums, or visit Vermont in the winter for fabulous skiing and other seasonal sports.
- California is famous for beaches, surfing, Hollywood, and much more, with attractions such as Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, Seaworld, Hollywood Boulevard, Universal City, and La Brea Tar Pits.
Need to Know Info
The official currency is the US dollar. The country does not have an official language at the national level, but in most states, the official language is English. However, while English is the dominant language across the entire country, it’s common to meet people who speak at least one other language in addition to English, such as Spanish, Japanese, and Cantonese.
The US climate is a highly diverse one, both seasonally in terms of geographical location. Most of the eastern half of the country has a fairly humid climate, subtropical in the south and continental in the north. In the central states a more arid climate is the norm, while west coast residents enjoy a mostly Mediterranean climate in the south, and a cooler marine climate in the north. Average temperatures vary considerable, with south-east states generally warm most of the year, and most northern states having highly seasonal weather.
Flights to the US land in cities all over the country, from the west coast to the east, and most international airlines fly to at least a handful of major cities. Cities such as New York, Philadelphia, and Miami are major entry points for European travellers, while New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles are primary entry points for transatlantic flights. Travellers from Canada and Mexico can enter the country by car, train, or bus, providing they have the appropriate documentation.
The USA operates a visa waiver programme eligible to residents of 38 countries, including the UK, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as most European countries. This programme allows residents of these countries to enter the US without a visa for a non-extendable stay of up to 90 days. Note that overland travellers don’t qualify for the visa waiver programme, which applies to air travel only. Residents of all other countries must apply for a visa to enter the US regardless of their mode of travel.
The size of the country makes air travel preferred for travelling between distant cities, although overland travel via car, train, or bus can be very enjoyable. One major difference between US and European cities is their focus on public transport: for the most part, only the busy downtown areas of major cities have comprehensive public transport systems. Hiring a car for getting around is definitely recommended, especially as many of the country’s major natural attractions—such as the Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park, and Mount Rushmore, are located at a distance from major cities.