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America is big, I mean, really big. It’s so ginormous that the whole of the United Kingdom would fit almost forty times inside it. So if you’re planning a trip there anytime soon, it’s important to plan where in the monster continent you’re going to visit. After all, the trip from East to West coast is 3,000 miles and takes days to drive.
With this in mind, we thought we’d enlist the help of ten US travel experts to compile a definitive list of where UK travellers should visit in The Land of Opportunity. So get your notepad and pen ready: some of the most experienced globetrotters on the planet are recommending some pretty amazing destinations…
“Chicago is one of the most beautiful cities in America. The downtown corridor runs along the shore of Lake Michigan, from the Museum Campus to the Gold Coast. The Museum Campus includes the Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, and the Field Museum of Natural History, home to ‘Sue’, the best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex fossil ever discovered. The Gold Coast is famous for upscale shopping. Between the two lies Millennium Park, where open-air performances are offered free throughout the summer. Chicago also offers a multitude of ethnic neighbourhoods, with food to match, and enough sports teams for even the most avid fan.”
“You should visit Venice Beach in California! One of the best things you can do in Venice is stroll along Abbot Kinney. There are fun shops, cool cafes and world-class restaurants. Head to the beach, visit a yoga studio, or check out “First Fridays”, a monthly event on Abbot Kinney with art, fashion and food trucks.”
“Yosemite Valley is the centrepiece of Yosemite National Park in Northern California with grand waterfalls, flowing creeks, picturesque hiking and monumental granite cliffs. It is a pure white, winter wonderland in the colder months; perfect for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, horse drawn sleigh rides and enjoying hot cocoa by the fire. In the warmer seasons, it turns into an outdoor haven with biking, rock climbing, fishing and rafting. It doesn’t matter which season you choose, you will be destined to find a memorable adventure.”
“San Diego, California is probably my favourite city in the state. The weather is always perfect, it is right next to the beach, and it has a great food scene. If you are traveling to San Diego, I recommend you head to the Sunset Cliffs and Torrey Pines State Park for hiking near the beach, Phil’s BBQ and Blue Water Seafood for meals, and Coronado or La Jolla beach to relax in the sand.”
“My advice for anyone coming to the US is to check out the National Parks. They really are the crown jewel of the United States. There are 58 National Parks so it will be hard for a visitor to see them all and so my recommendation is to rent a car (or a camper van) and visit Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon and Zion, which are all National Parks in the beautiful state of Utah. The scenery in these parks is out of this world and I can guarantee visitors will want to return again and again.”
“No trip to the US isn’t complete without a trip to California, and if you think that LA is all you need to see you’re dead wrong. Sure, fly straight into LAX, but then rent a car. Spend a couple of days in Los Angeles seeing the Santa Monica Pier, Hollywood and Venice Beach, but then hit the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) and head down to San Francisco. You’ll be in for an absolutely gorgeous drive; you’ll pass Santa Barbara, Carmel and San Jose before arriving in San Francisco. You’ll not only get the best California has to offer, but you’ll see the cities, the beautiful nature and some of the most amazing little beach towns most tourists miss.”
“My recommendation would be Puerto Rico. It is a US territory in the Caribbean Sea, so even though you’re in an American territory, you feel like you’re in a foreign country with a different culture, language, and tropical setting. You shouldn’t miss El Yunque Rainforest, which is the only tropical rainforest in the US National Parks Registry; the Bioluminescent Bay in Vieques, to see the water glow as you kayak in the brightest bio bay in the world; Flamenco Beach in Culebra, often named one of the most beautiful white sand beaches in the world; and Old San Juan, where Spanish colonial history is preserved in its forts and historic buildings.”
“San Francisco is a dreamer’s city. Not only does the city by the Bay have perfect sightseeing weather all year round, but it also boasts a wide array of attractions that will appeal to all ages. A few musts for first-time visitors are: to walk or bike across the Golden Gate Bridge, take a ferry to Alcatraz, drive down Lombard Street (the crookedest street in the world), have a picnic at Chrissy Field or Ocean Beach (with postcard views of the bridge), and take a stroll in Golden Gate Park. For some magic right before sunset, visit Twin Peaks for an unparalleled view of the city.
“If you are a foodie, you’re in for a treat. The Mission District has some of the best Mexican food in the country (get a burrito: you won’t be sorry). Head up to North Beach for some authentic Italian goodness, or spend an afternoon sampling treats in Chinatown. Don’t miss an ice cream sundae and hot chocolate at Ghirardelli Square!”
“While California’s big cities and coastal Highway 1 get a lot of love, our inland forests, deserts, and mountain regions are often overlooked by travellers. After driving the coast, the perfect California road trip would be to head east, stopping in Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon National Parks to see rugged mountains and the Giant Sequoias, some of the biggest trees in the world. If you have the time, I’d end with a drive through the diverse and otherworldly landscapes of the Eastern Sierra—from Death Valley National Park north to Mammoth Lakes, Mono Lake, and Bodie, a real life ghost town.
“The US has hundreds of incredible road trips. Some of our favorites include a tour of the five National Parks in Utah, a coastal drive up the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) in California and seeing the fall foliage in the North East. But the road trip to end all road trips has to be the drive from Miami to Key West, Florida. Pack your own snorkel gear and fishing rod and you can explore above and below the gorgeous aqua-tinted waters. Spend the night on Big Pine, Islamorada and Key West for completely different experiences along the way. And don’t forget to taste test all the key lime pies, stop by Hemingway’s House and snorkel Dry Tortugas National Park.”