Spotlight on USA
23 January 2017
The USA is vast, stretching for some 2,680 miles coast to coast. It takes six hours to make that journey by aeroplane – nearly as long as it takes to fly across the Atlantic Ocean! It’s not surprising, then, that the USA covers an incredibly diverse natural environment – matched by the diversity of America’s culture and history. Whatever you want from your holiday, you can find it here.
Did you know?
- The United States of America is 241 years old this year: the Declaration of Independence was issued in 1776
- Every year on July 4th the USA celebrates its independence from the British Empire with parties, parades and fireworks
- The USA is made up of 50 states – 48 continental states plus Alaska to the north of Canada and the islands of Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean
- The USA is the fourth largest country in the world by land area and the third largest by population
- The most populated city in the USA is New York City, which has 8.5 million inhabitants, followed by Los Angeles and Chicago
- The United States has had the most Nobel Prize winners, with 336 winners overall. It has been most successful in Physiology or Medicine, with 94 laureates since 1901
When to visit the USA
- Americans love a party! Whether you see in the new year in New York, Orlando’s theme parks, or the Las Vegas strip, you can be sure of an unforgettable experience!
- New Orleans’ Mardi Gras is the biggest in the USA, but its jazz and heritage festival, known as Jazz Fest, in early May is another highlight
- The Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf Coasts are all home to wonderful summer sun resorts – from the exclusive Hamptons, the iconic Coney Island, the idyllic St Pete and Clearwater, sun-kissed California surf or Washington State’s deserted Kitsap Peninsula, there really is something for everyone
- New England’s autumn colours are a visual delight, making it an unforgettable Fall destination
- Colorado’s ski resorts guarantee you snow in a way that Europe’s rarely do, but at the opposite end of the country California and Florida are perfect winter sun destinations.
- A New York Christmas shopping trip is an atmospheric treat – don’t miss the ice rinks!
Travel Counsellor Suzanne visited Boston and Cape Cod in June 2016: "We decided to split our stay so we could concentrate on different areas of Cape Cod. We spent our first few nights in Sandwich. This is a pretty little village with a few shops and restaurants and has a lovely residential feel with beautiful old buildings and we enjoyed walking around and seeing them. Sandwich was also a great base and we booked as foot passengers onto the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard. We jumped on the bus and stopped at pretty little towns like Oak Bluffs and Edgartown with views across to Chappaquiddick Island and the multimillion dollar "summer houses"."
Sights to see in the USA
- You don’t have to be on a stag party or planning to be married by Elvis to enjoy Las Vegas’ mind-boggling Casinos, dinner shows, kitsch Americana, fireworks and lightshows or desert heat
- San Francisco is full of iconic landmark, from trolley buses to Chinese arches, but we recommend starting with a boat trip to Alcatraz from San Francisco’s Pier 33 and spending several fascinating hours exploring this notorious prison
- South Beach Miami is fantastic place to people watch but don’t forget to walk Ocean Drive and glimpse Miami’s amazing art deco heritage
- When you visit New York, climb what is perhaps the city’s most iconic landmark, the Statue of Liberty, and then tour the Ellis Island National Immigration Museum
- Once you’ve walked the mile along Hollywood Boulevard that is the Hollywood Walk of Fame, you might want to look up for a bit. For a stunning view of the city, Los Angeles’ Griffith Park does not disappoint. Walk up to the iconic Griffith Observatory to potter around the Hall of the Sky and Hall of the Eye
- Orlando’s theme parks draw maximum crowds in the Easter, July and Christmas holidays. If you can go during other months of the year, you can make considerable savings on park tickets and accommodation
Travel Counsellor Andrew visited San Francisco in December 2016: "Your first stop should be the Golden Gate Bridge. It sits majestically at the entrance to the Bay. There are many obligatory photo ops but I would suggest heading to the northern end of the bridge and take photos from there. It gives you the chance to get both sets of pylons in the shot. From there take the bus down to the quaint seaside town of Sausilito. Here you will find load of shops and cafes dotted along the waterfront. Drop into Sausilito Bakery & café for the freshest salads, decadent brownies and the coffee was pretty good too. Allow a good couple of hours to wander the many shops including the real Napa tasting room, Claires Attic, Cha Cha Cha and save room for a pitstop at Lappert’s ice cream. I would definitely recommend heading back to San Francisco by ferry. For USD12 you get 35 minutes of scenic beauty. There is the chance to take some stunning shots of the Golden Gate Bridge, the city skyline and Alcatraz. All before docking at the famous Fisherman’s Wharf Area."
Try something a little different…
- If you are lucky enough to be in Los Angeles in April, how about combining your sightseeing with a trip out to the Empire Polo Club in Indio, in the Colorado Desert, for one of the USA’s biggest festivals, Coachella?
- Fort Point offers some wonderful views of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, but how about seeing it from the other shore? Hike the Presidio on the strait’s western shoreline where Baker Beach offers spectacular views of the bridge
- Hire a car and combine your beach holiday in Miami with a tour of Florida’s best natural wonders, the beautiful Florida Keys. Tour the perfect white sand beaches, turquoise seas, secluded coves, awe-inspiring bridges and picture-perfect clapperboard houses
- Las Vegas’ proximity to the desert isn’t as inhospitable as it seems. How about cycling around nearby Red Rock Canyon? Or a kayak tour from the Hoover Dam down the Colorado River canyon culminating with a hike into the desert to some natural hot springs?
- Art galleries might not be the first place that springs to mind when you think of New York, but MOMA should be high on your list of excursions. The Museum of Modern Art is located in Midtown Manhattan and houses some 200,000 works of modern and contemporary art, including Monet’s Water Lilies and Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory
- The weather might not be a draw to San Francisco in February – the temperatures can be very chilly – but the spectacle of Chinese New Year is. Named one of the world's top 10 parades, Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco is the largest celebration of its kind outside Asia
Travel Counsellor Lucy explored Miami and the Florida Keys in June2016: "The sunsets at Key West are truly amazing and the best place to watch this is Mallory Square - ever since the 1960s every day, two hours before sunset this area comes alive with street entertainers, musicians and many more."
A taste of the USA
America is often described as a melting pot, and nowhere is this truer than in its cuisine. America’s classic dishes owe much to its diverse immigrant populations, from the Germans who brought the hotdog to the Italians who brought pizza
- San Franscisco’s China Town is the largest in the USA and dates back to the influx of immigrants from the Pearl River Delta in the 1800s. This is the place to enjoy authentic Dim Sum
- New York’s large Jewish population has bequeathed the city some American classics, including the Pastrami and Rye sandwich. Try Katz Deli on E Houston St, for its famous film history
- Meanwhile, the go-to place for bagels is suggested as Murrays Bagels, 500 Avenue of the Americas, for a classic smoked salmon and cream cheese on your choice of bagel
- Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami might be the place to eat this local seasonal delight (October to May) but Miami is also home to a large Cuban ex-pat community, making it the perfect place to try Frita Cubano, or a Cuban sandwich, any time of year
- Elsewhere in Florida, you can enjoy gator bites, frogs legs and cat fish! Try the Home Cabbage Fish Camp on the St Johns River near Orlando, a no-frills, time-worn shack from where you can also set off on an Airboat Tour of the local swamps and waterway.
For more ideas about what to do in USA, when to go or where to stay, get in touch with your Travel Counsellor.