31 January 2019
The United States of America is a vast country and some people set aside a sizable chunk of the year to make sure they get around to seeing all it has to offer. With literally hundreds of cities to choose from, we’ve picked out our favourite Stateside city break spots.
Many newcomers to America can’t resist getting New York ticked off first and that’s no coincidence. The iconic city is home to one of the world’s most famous skylines, pulling in the Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building, whilst the city streets are packed with enough to see and do to easily fill two weeks with the likes of the sprawling Central Park and dazzling Times Square.
There are magnificent museums covering so much more than just traditional history and art, such as the Troll Museum or Museum of Food and Drink. The variety and quality of street eats here is sensational (pizza, bagels, cheesecake, ramen, hot dogs for a start), not to mention the world-class music venues (Madison Square Garden, Bowery Ballroom, Radio City Music Hall).
Everyone should seize the opportunity to take in a Broadway show too and right now, you can catch peerless productions of Hamilton, The Lion King, Chicago, Wicked and The Book of Mormon.
TC tip: Plan and have your Travel Counsellor book things in advance to ensure you make the most of your time.
“Never travel anywhere without doing your research. New York is easy to navigate so ask your Travel Counsellor to create an itinerary for you so you don’t waste a minute. Book main attractions in advance and walk everywhere that you can; it’s worth going that extra mile.”
Over on the west coast, San Francisco has a little bit of everything, from the majestic Golden Gate Bridge to the haunting seclusion of Alcatraz Island.
San Fran’s microclimate means that it can be blazing hot in the glorious 1,017-acre Golden Gate Park, yet pouring down just three miles east in the Mission district.
Any foodies will love it in San Fran, which is viewed as the nation’s food and wine capital to many. In the 1970s, it was here that Berkeley chef Alice Waters started the farm-to-table obsession and you won’t struggle to find top-notch restaurants across the city.
Wine lovers are in for a treat too, with the Sonoma and Napa Valleys less than two hours away, meaning travellers can taste wines from some of the best estates in the country.
“The misty weather can make you think you don’t need sunscreen but don’t be fooled. UV rays in San Francisco are strong throughout the year and after our day cycling, we had bright red arms and faces which went down a treat when we went out to the local bars that evening.”
Less than six hours’ drive south of San Fran sits glitzy Los Angeles. After taking the near-obligatory selfie with the infamous Hollywood sign, visitors to the City of Angels can easily pass a sizable chunk of the day at Griffith Park Observatory, catching a ballgame at Dodger Stadium, partying on Venice Beach, or strolling down Santa Monica Boulevard - one of the most vibrant stretches on the West Coast, spanning almost the entire width of the city. Film fans will also love Disneyland Park and Universal Studios Hollywood.
A trip to California’s largest city isn’t complete without sampling the tacos – or any of the city’s Mexican food for that matter – but other great food you need to try includes the french dip (essentially a meat sandwich with gravy on the side) and ramen from the Little Tokyo area.
“The hop-on hop-off tour bus is a great way to see the city. Not only did we get to take in all the sights, but also the famous Rodeo Drive and hotel featured in Pretty Woman - one of my favourite films. We also saw the Hollywood sign from a distance and we chose to do the longest route, dropping by Santa Monica Pier, well worth a visit.”
They say ‘what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’ but you’ll want to tell everyone about your time in this truly extraordinary city. Plonked in Nevada’s Mojave Desert, Las Vegas attracts the bulk of its visitors with the glitz and glamour of its casinos, such as Caesars Palace, Treasure Island, and Park MGM. But there’s more to Vegas than just gambling.
Stretching for more than four miles, the Strip accurately encapsulates the city’s over-the-top nature, with many themed hotels, musical fountains, and replicas of the Egyptian pyramids, the Venetian Grand Canal and Eiffel Tower. Many world-famous restaurants and chefs have opened up shop here too.
Vegas is also good for retail therapy and we’d be amazed if you could name a designer not represented across the city’s multitude of shopping malls.
“The whole Las Vegas experience is a lot to take in; all the sights and sounds are just totally intense. Visit every hotel on the strip, it’s like having a day out at a theme park for every style you can imagine. From Excalibur Hotel’s Medieval vibe to the great Pyramids of Egypt (Luxor), there is a hotel for everyone.”
We’re heading back east for our final city: Chicago, the third biggest US city behind New York and Los Angeles, which offers the energy and towering high-rises of the Big Apple but at a less frantic pace.
More and more people seem to be choosing Chicago because the city pulled in a record 55 million visitors in 2017.
The Windy City will blow you away with the 24.5-acre Millennium Park, Wrigley Field - one of the oldest ballparks in America and home to Chicago Cubs – the Lincoln Park Zoo with more than 1,000 animals, and Garfield Park Conservatory – one of the country’s largest greenhouses.
Music is massive here too. Maxwell Street is widely accepted as the birthplace of Chicago Blues, which bore a legendary influence on the entire blues genre and bands like Led Zeppelin, The Animals and The Yardbirds.
“I love that Chicago is a city with a beach. Visit the city between May and September to benefit from its great weather.”
Jet off for a city break to the US and contact your Travel Counsellor to take advantage of exclusive benefits including a 24-hour duty office.