11 Things to Do in the USA
Published 22 June 2016
The USA: 50 states of awesomeness with national parks by the barrel load, countless glittering cities, mile upon mile of soft-sand beaches, and some of the most mouth-watering (not to mention calorific) dishes in the world. Deep-fried burgers anyone?
For the first-time visitor, think of the USA and you’ll no doubt be filled with wonder at a vast, wild and vivid country unlike anywhere else in the world. No one forgets their first gaze up at the towering New York skyscrapers, or the first time they set eyes on the vastness of the Grand Canyon.
Clearly it’s not possible to see everything in the USA in one trip, or indeed in one lifetime, but you have to start somewhere. That’s where we come in. Narrowing this list down to just ten things to do was an impossible task, so an extra one crept in (sorry about that), and countless bucket-list attractions have sadly been missed out. But here goes anyway; our top 11 things to do in the USA:
Discover the Grand Canyon
One of the planet’s greatest natural wonders, and voted in at number six on Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travelist of the world’s most amazing attractions, the Grand Canyon is truly a sight to behold. Dating back around six million years, this vast chasm stretches for 277 miles, its intricate shape carved out over the millennia by the Colorado River, creating an opening more than a mile deep. To see the canyon in all its glory, hike the trails, raft the river or soar high above it on a scenic helicopter flight.
Go big in New York City
Bold, brash and bright, New York is a city like no other. Over 12 million sightseers hit the Big Apple in 2015, making it one of the world's most visited cities and by far the most popular metropolis in the USA. And with good reason too – the instantly-recognisable skyline notwithstanding, the city’s sidewalks are lined with world-class museums and art galleries, boutiques, department stores and some seriously funky restaurants and bars. Whether you're exploring Manhattan, crossing Brooklyn Bridge, heading north to the Bronx, checking out Queens or sailing around Staten Island, you can’t fail to be seduced by the buzz of the City That Never Sleeps.
Visit New York and Los Angeles with Round the World Experts’ Coast to Coast Journey.
Bixby Bridge, Big Sur
Drive the Big Sur
Winding down the windows and feeling the wind in your hair as you cruise California’s Highway 1 is the quintessential Big Sur experience. With waves pounding against the rocks below you and vast national parks and forests by your side, the 90-mile drive along the Pacific Coast from San Simeon to Carmel offers stop-offs aplenty: choose from the impressive Bixby Bridge (pictured), the Point Sur Lighthouse and the spectacular McWay Falls.
Drive from San Francisco to San Diego, including the rugged coastline of the Big Sur, on Round the World Experts’ Pacific Coast Highway Journey.
Live like a cowboy in Texas
If your American dreams include hazy desert scenes, cowboys on horseback and the theme tune to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, then look no further than Texas. Yup, the Lone Star State is where your cowhide boots and Stetson will fit right in. Head for the Fort Worth Stockyards and catch a rodeo show, or try Bandera, the self-proclaimed ‘Cowboy Capital of the World’, where you can check out the cowboy memorabilia in the Frontier Times Museum or dance in one of the lively hole-in-the-wall bars. Better yet, stay on a ranch. Think cattle drives, horse riding, wagon riding and clay pigeon shooting, with evenings spent gathered around a roaring fire listening to old western tunes on the guitar.
Live like a cowboy on the Wildcatter Ranch in Graham on our Cajun Cowboys Journey.
Snap pictures of New England’s fall colours
In autumn (or ‘fall’ as they say across the pond) the leaves on New England’s many trees change to glorious shades of red, gold, orange and brown, their ochre hues inspiring painters, photographers, poets and visitors alike. Top viewing spots include Maine’s Acadia National Park, where the colours reflect beautifully in the lakes, and New Hampshire’s White Mountains, where a 34.5-mile walking trail takes in the best of the colourful foliage.
Tour New England, including Boston, Jackson, Lenox and Cape Cod, with Round the World Experts’ New England Encompassed Journey.
Get back to nature in Yosemite National Park
Close your eyes and imagine the most beautiful mountain scenery you can muster. Chances are you’re thinking of Yosemite. Here, jagged peaks tower over meadows of blooming wildflowers, rivers flow into plunging waterfalls and ancient giant sequoias guard a vast wilderness area. Hiking, driving, climbing and skiing are all on offer among the impossibly photogenic vistas.
Spend two nights in Yosemite with our National Parks & Canyons Journey, which also includes stops in Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon. The Venetian, Las Vegas
The Venetian, Las Vegas
Have a flutter in Las Vegas
Viva Las Vegas! This ridiculously over-the-top and highly commercial town is in your face and just doesn’t care. Where else in the world can you play roulette in an Egyptian pyramid, dine at the top of the Eiffel Tower and take a gondola ride on the Venice canals, all in one crazy day? Come for the dazzling lights of The Strip, luridly-coloured cocktails and a pumping nightlife. Catch a show, dance the night away or even get married in this hedonistic desert city.
Take a flutter with Round the World Experts’ National Parks & Canyons Journey, which spends two nights in Las Vegas.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Uncover the power of nature in volcanic Hawaii
If you’ve ever fancied watching molten lava glowing as it slowly trickles through the darkness down the side of a volcanic cone, then you’ve come to the right place. Having formed about 30 million years ago as a result of volcanic activity, it’s no surprise that Hawaii’s islands are made entirely of igneous rock and boast three active volcanoes. Hike through the hypnotic crater landscapes of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, walk through a lava cave and gaze into the depths of a caldera.
Visit Volcanoes National Park with Round the World Experts’ Hawaiian Explorer Journey.
Bourbon Street, New Orleans
Feel the rhythm in New Orleans
Chuck some French sophistication, Caribbean colours, African-American cuisine and some Irish, German and Spanish history into a pot, mix it up with a splash of Creole flair and a sprinkling of cayenne pepper and what have you got? Why, New Orleans of course! One of the USA’s most historically and culturally rich cities, New Orleans is as famous for its Mardi Gras celebrations as its late-night jazz shows and smoky Bourbon Street cocktail bars.
Fill up on jambalaya and gumbo on our Deep South Highlights Journey.
Hogwarts, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Be a big kid at Florida’s theme parks
Mickey Mouse and the Magic Kingdom are practically synonymous with the candyfloss and colour lifestyle of Florida’s many theme parks. With rollercoasters, fire-breathing dragons, wet-and-wild water slides and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, there’s plenty to amuse kids (and adults!) of all ages here. At the heart of all the action lies Orlando, home to Universal Studios, SeaWorld, LEGOLAND and Walt Disney World.
Head to Orlando and visit Universal Studios with our Orlando to the Keys Journey.
Jefferson Memorial, Washington DC
Delve into US history in Washington DC
The seat of power in the United States, as well as its capital, Washington DC is home to well over 200 museums, as well as some of the country’s most significant landmarks. Get your camera ready for Capitol Hill, the Lincoln Memorial and the White House, and learn more about US history at the Smithsonian Institution. This collection of 19 museums, all completely free to visit, is filled with over 138 million historical artefacts, specimens and artworks, including Harry Truman’s bowling pins, a stuffed World War I carrier pigeon and Judy Garland’s red shoes from the Wizard of Oz.
Spend two days in Washington DC on Round the World Experts’ Colonial America Journey.