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The USA has been described as a melting pot of nationalities. The country is so diverse and has many different cultural influences due to its history. Both coasts of the states offer plenty of unique things to see and do as each city is different. The central states are vast and if it is not a desert then it is likely that it is a corn field. Although the USA is not a highly regarded backpacker location, you will not get bored especially if you have some spare cash. This country offers both natural beauty and sprawling cities both waiting to be explored.
Must see and do
San Diego Zoo is arguably the greatest zoo on earth. It can offer everything including Giant Pandas. A great day out for the kids and once you have been here, you need not go to another again.
Washington DC is the history hub of the USA. There are a lot of free things to do including museums, tours of the Capitol, Lincoln and Washington Monuments and seeing the White House (from outside). If you are interested in how the country formed back in 1776, this is the place to come. If you still have not had enough visit Boston and walk the Freedom Trail.
Boston Massachusetts is a city located in the North East of the USA in the New England area. Many visitors come to this area because of its major role in the battle for independence as it was the setting for many battles during the American Revolution. The 4 km Freedom Trail is walked by thousands of tourists ever year. It passes through 16 historic sites associated with America’s independence.
If history is not your thing then you could visit around fall (Autumn) and see the leaves turn colour and combine this with a visit to the infamous Harvard University. Boston is a great city and very different to any other you will find in the rest of the USA. It would be worth while combining Boston with a trip to New York.
Orlando is a great place to take the kids and the big kids. Disney World Resort boasts four parks including The Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, MGM Studios, and Epcot, and two water parks. Tickets can be purchased for varying lengths of time and there are options for tickets that allow you to hop between parks. Close by is Universal home to Islands of Adventure where the rides get a bit scarier, and also Universal Studios where you can survive a tornado and escape from a mummies tomb all in one day. There is also Sea World on the doorstep offering plenty of upclose entertainment with many sea creatures and top rate shows for a fun day out.
Niagara Falls is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. You can view the falls from above below and Canada if you wish. There are three separate waterfalls; Bridal Falls, American Falls, and the famous Horseshoe Falls. All three falls are best seen from the Canadian side and access beneath the falls is also available from Canada too. From the USA you can walk to Canada for the day and receive a stamp in your passport if you like that sort of thing. Very popular in peak season but almost dead in the low. Plan your trip well as it can get pretty chilly November through to March.
The Grand Canyon is vast and spectacular. You can take mule trips below the rim or venture down by foot. This is a must see attraction despite its ‘out of the way’ location in the desert. You can stay at the canyon or for cheaper in Flagstaff and commute. It is best take the sun block even in the winter as the sun remains strong all year round.
New York City is what people think of when they picture the USA. High rise buildings, noisy traffic, crowded pavements are all aspects controbuting to the atmosphere in NYC. Packed into Manhatten is more entertainment and sights than you would think imaginable. You can shop until you drop, climb the Empire state building, visit the Statue of Liberty, relax in Central Park, watch a show on Broadway and still be left with hundreds of things to do. Be sure to take a photo of the world famous skyline of Manhatten from the boat to Ellis Island.
Las Vegas is Disney World on steroids for grown ups. Lights, glitz, glamour and tackiness is what this desert oasis is all about. This city is open around the clock for partying, drinking, shows and gambling. The themed hotels are definitely worth staying in just to say you have as the hostels are in the rather run down end of town with a long walk to the main strip. Mid week you can also get great deals on room prices. The Luxor or Excalibur are hotels at the cheaper end of the spectrum.
The Kennedy Space Center is a great day out for all the family. You can see the launch pads where the shuttles take off (and maybe a rocket on the pad if you are lucky), see real space shuttles from the inside to see how the austronauts live, and become a space cadet in the most realistic simulation of a rocket launch on the planet. There are also many old space rockets which have returned from successful space missions. The space center is located in Florida between Orlando and Miami and is only accessible by car.
The National Park Service owns and looks after 391 areas across nearly all 50 states in the USA; these include parks, monuments, battlefields and historic sites. You could spend a lifetime exploring the various parks across the country so here is a brief list of some of the best.
Yellowstone NP (Wyoming) was the very first national park and is home to one of the most predictable geysers in the world. It has its very own Grand Canyon and you might encounter herds of bison, wolves and even a bear or two.
Grand Teton NP (Wyoming) is just south of Yellowstone has stunning scenery, beautiful hikes and lots of wildlife.
Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands and Arches NPs (all Utah) each contain some of the most spectacular rock formations, the eerie ‘hoodoos’ in Bryce and the balancing rock in Arches are just two of the highlights.
Mesa Verde NP (Colorado) boasts many cliff dwellings which used to be inhabited be native Americans until they were mysteriously abandoned leaving everything behind. Mesa Verde provides a fascinating incite into native American culture and the climb on wooden ladders down to one of the largest dwellings is well worth it.
These are just a few of the many parks to be seen around the country. NPS is the National Park Service”s official website and has details of all the sites maintained by them.
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Being such a vast country the climate follows suit. To generalise, the north gets very cold in the winter months November to March but hot in for the remainder of the year. The far south stays warm all year round averaging out at around 27 degrees Celcius. Watch out for tornadoes in the spring months especially in the south east.
Memorial Day happens on the last Monday in May
Independence Day falls on the 4th July. It marks the independance of the United States from Great Britain and the signing of the declaration. Expect lots of flag flying, barbeques and fireworks. A great time to be in the States
Labor Day weekend proceeds the first Monday in September. Attractions and popular places tend to get really busy as it is viewed as the last weekend of summer. Many Americans take this opportunity for one last trip or visit before the end of summer.
Thanksgiving is the fourth Thursday in November and also means places get very busy for the long weekend. Plenty of food is eaten during this period.