United States Travel Guides
Top Things to See
The USA has some fabulous cities, the most famous being the Big Apple of New York on the east coast and the Golden Gate of San Francisco on the west. Yet there are plenty of other cities worth visiting such as the non-stop fun in Las Vegas, the Hollywood glamour and Disneyland magic in Los Angeles, the excitement in Miami, the history in Boston, the patriotism in Washington DC, the cowboys of Dallas, and the tropical escape in Honolulu, Hawaii. From coast to coast, America offers a taste of everything.
Nature lovers will be in heaven with over 300 National Parks to choose from.
Perhaps the most famous is the breathtaking Grand Canyon, “Nature’s own capital city”. Located 400km outside Phoenix, Arizona this enormous stone canyon is a spectacular spectacle of nature. Have a dizzying look over the rim, take a donkey down the switchback trail, embark on a wild rafting ride in the Colorado River below or go for the flight of your life in a helicopter or plane above!
Yosemite National Park "is a paradise that makes even the loss of Eden seem insignificant". It is by far the grandest of all the special temples of Nature I was ever permitted to enter." These are the words of John Muir, the famous explorer and naturalist who was the first outsider to venture into the magnificent Yosemite Valley. Located 300km east of San Francisco, don’t miss spending a few days here among towering waterfalls, majestic meadows and crystal streams. Accommodation is in campgrounds, cabins, hotels and luxurious lodges.
Yellowstone National Park is a vast wilderness of many colours in the summit of the Rocky Mountains. The park bestows an abundance geysers, waterfalls and multi-coloured hot springs, along with an impressive array of wildlife such as buffalo, bald eagles, moose, wolves and bears. The nearby town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming offers fine lodging and a range of year-round outdoor activities.
The volcanoes of the past and present have created some exceptional National Parks on the tropical Hawaiian Islands. Ancient Haleakala Crater on the island of Maui is a surreal landscape, home to rare and endangered species. Hiking, camping, cycling, horseback riding and even swimming are some of the activities available in this unique ecosystem. Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii is home to two of the world’s most active and friendly volcanoes. Visitors can inspect rivers and waterfalls of hot lava, cinder cones, gaping chasms and barren lava wrought into fantastic shapes.
There are 388 National Parks in the United States. For more information on America’s National Parks, visit www.nps.gov/parks.html
There are literally thousands of monuments scattered across the country. The most famous are the Statue of Liberty in New York City harbour, the White House and the elegant US Capitol Building, both in Washington DC, the Empire State Building in New York City, Alcatraz Island Prison in San Francisco Bay and Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota - a 6,000 foot mountain peak carved into the faces of four famous US Presidents.
The Muir Woods National Monument is a peaceful park located on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. Here you can see the tallest trees in the world, the mighty Redwoods. The park occupies one of the verdant valleys of Mount Tamalpais and is home to many giant Redwood trees that are over 1000 years old. After a walk in the forest, visit the Mountain Home Inn on the mountain’s ridge where you can enjoy a drink or delicious meal and a fabulous view!
America is home to thousands of amusement parks, theme parks, water parks and zoos. For a complete list by state, visit www.themeparkcity.com/USA_index.htm
Top Things to Do
Be a Part of It in New York
The pulse and excitement of New York City is like no other place on Earth. An international centre of culture, commerce and cosmopolitan lifestyle, the Big Apple is a must-see on any travel itinerary. Check out the abundance of art galleries and some of the best museums in the world such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and the Guggenheim Museum. Don’t miss a walk through in Central Park, the impressive art and architecture of Rockefeller Centre, Greenwich Village with its hip cafés and restaurants, and Times Square with its glittering lights and theatres. Take the ferry from Battery Park to the Statue of Liberty. Catch a Broadway show, a symphony, ballet or blues… or simply be a part of the buzz of the City That Never Sleeps. The opportunities are endless!
Feel the Voodoo Magic of New Orleans
This vibrant city is full of contrasts, cuisine, history and mystery. Situated on the mighty Mississippi River, New Orleans is an exciting hub of music, magic, and parties. Don’t miss the famous French Quarter with its elegant buildings, Cajun restaurants, street musicians, jazz clubs and non-stop partying. The folks here on Bourbon Street don’t wait for Mardi Gras to celebrate. Also adding colour to the city are the many parks, museums (including a voodoo museum and the New Orleans Museum of Art), beautiful gardens and the Jazzland Theme Park. Outside the city in the marshlands known as the Bayou, you can take a boat tour with experienced guides who call on alligators to jump out of the water. New Orleans is a thrilling place to be!
Go Island Hopping in Hawaii
The Hawaiian Islands are some of the most beautiful islands on Earth. Here you can bask on pristine beaches in glorious sunshine, come face to face with an active volcano, learn to surf at Waikiki Beach, hike through breathtaking valleys, and enjoy a beach luau complete with fire dancing and roasted wild boar. Catch the magnificent Taurids Meteor Shower in October/November and the impressive surf competitions outside Honolulu on Oahu’s North Shore from November to February. Go whale watching from November to April, or simply seek those daily rainbows in the sky while sipping a Mai Tai.
Live it up in Las Vegas
America’s capital of fun, Las Vegas, will impress and entertain even the most jaded traveller. This dazzling desert oasis of non-stop action has become a family destination, offering a whole lot more than just gambling. Amusement parks, tropical beaches, water slides, celebrity entertainment, great shopping and of course the best casinos, provide hours of fun for the entire family.
Soak up San Francisco
Walk across the famous Golden Gate Bridge, experiment with science in the Exploratorium, stroll through Golden Gate Park, taking in the de Young Museum of Fine Art, Japanese Tea Garden, Steinhart Aquarium, Morrison Planetarium and the Conservatory of Flowers. Ride a cable car, cruise across the bay in a ferry to Sausalito or visit Alcatraz Island where Al Capone was imprisoned. Rent a paddle-boat at beautiful Stow Lake. Indulge in homemade chocolate at Ghirardelli Square or fresh seafood and fun at Pier 39 at Fisherman’s Warf. Dine on Italian cuisine in the colourful North Beach district and walk across the street into China Town for a different flavour. Check out the surfers and sea-lions at Ocean Beach and grab a bite to eat at the nearby Cliff House. There are countless things to do in this city on the sea!
See a Rodeo
Besides its fabulous cities, America is also known for cowboys and cowgirls. See these tough wranglers in action at an exciting rodeo! Rodeos are almost daily events in Wyoming, Oklahoma and Texas; you can catch the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas each December. This event brings cowboys and cowgirls from around the world for the ultimate showdown championship. For more information, visit www.nfrexperience.com
Sizzle in Miami
Some would say Miami is a constant carnival, a flamboyant blend of cultures and lifestyles basking in sunshine. Explore the city or venture beyond its borders into the Everglades, a subtropical marshland where local wildlife can be seen such as alligators and crocodiles. Join the wild party during the annual Miami Carnival, one of the largest street festivals in the country held in September/October.
Spend some time in a National Park
America boasts 388 national parks ranging from lunar landscapes and spectacular canyons to magnificent mountains and lush forests teeming with wildlife. See the National Park section above for more information.
Take a Tour of Washington DC
The nation’s capital and seat of American government, Washington DC provides a grand insight into the birth, history and workings of America. Visit the historical monuments and memorials such as the U.S. Capitol Building, the Washington Monument, World War II Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, Freedom Park and The White House. A convenient way see the monuments and museums (which are pretty spread out) is to take the hop-on, hop-off ‘Tourmobile Sightseeing Trams’. Or meet the ‘DC Party Shuttle’ at the Old Post Office on Pennsylvania Avenue at 9:45am for a great tour of many main sites (www.washingtondcpartyshuttle.com)
Visit a Zoo
The San Diego Zoo in San Diego and the National Zoo in Washington DC are among the best in the world. These are not just regular zoos where animals sit still in cages; these animals run in vast open spaces, swim in rivers and behave as they would in their natural habitats. The zoos are leaders in animal care, science, education, and sustainability. A real treat for the whole family.