The U.S. are like no other country. You could spend a lifetime travelling around the country yet you will always find out you have missed out on a great city or skyline. I like to define the States as everyone’s country: whether you like arts, music, sports, culture, fashion or whatever your hobbies and interests are, here you will find your place in the world. The States are generous, they will always give you a second chance even though it is not always easy to be an American resident. However, if you are just looking to visit the States get ready for an unforgettable trip. Since Kerouac’s ‘On the road’ came out, every young adult in the world has dreamed of travelling across the US so take your chance and pack your bags!
1. New York City
It might be predictable but the ‘capital of the world’ truly deserves to be on top of our list. We have been watching images of New York since we were kids thanks to TV shows and movies but nothing beats the feeling of being there, staring at Times Square with your own eyes. New York is a restless and energetic city. You will find people walking around the neighborhood at any time of the day and night, as the city really never sleeps. It is mandatory to visit the much-loved landmarks but once you are done with the touristic tour get out and just wander around. Go out for a pizza in Brooklin, go visit the Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, go ice skating at the Rockfeller center or just jump on a bus and go to the Greenwich Village to enjoy a live music performance. New York is fascinating and lively and it is the perfect destination whether you want to find yourself or show the world who you really are: the City will never judge you. NYC is also a perfect destination for people of every age: here kids, teenagers, young adults, adults will all find something to fall in love with. And if you are an arts lover you won’t be able to get out of the Met or MOMA (just to mention two of the many great museums).
Two things come up in mind when someone mentions Chicago: the windy city and the Cloud Gate. Chicago might not have the best weather in the world but it certainly is one of the best cities to visit in the US. The first thing to do is probably to head to the Millennium park and snap a picture of your reflection in the Clout Gate. The so-called ‘bean’ indeed, will blow your mind and if you are lucky enough to see it on a sunny day you will spend hours and hours just staring at the reflection of the beautiful skyline. Once you have taken enough pics, go to the Art Institute of Chicao, which is right across the park and offers one of the richest arts collections in the States (save around 3-4 hours if you want to visit every room). Chicago is also known for its theaters so opt for a cultural experince that you will hardly forget. If you are passionate about recent history I reccomend one of the many crime tours that will take you into the underworld of criminals and gangtsters, like Al Capone and John Dillinger.
3. San Francisco
If you are dreaming California, San Francisco, or San Fran as locals call it, is a must-do stop. San Francisco is well known for its neighborhoods: they all have their personality. Therefore the Castro, Mission, Pacific Heights nd Upper Haight are all a mandatory stop whether you like the hippie chic style or the hipster grit. The Marina will offer you great views of the Golden Gate Bridge, one of the world’s most famous bridges, while the Golden Gate Park will enchant you with its Japanese Tea Garden and Strawberry Hill. The Fisherma’s Wharf and Pier 39 are two other great attractions that amongst great food and great views of the bay will also give you the chance to say hello to the dozens of sea lions that have turned the pier into their home. Chinatown and Japantown should also be on top of your list: the first one is the largest Chinatown outside of Asia and draws more tourists than the Golden Gate while the latter is one of the only three Japantowns remaining in the States.
4. Las Vegas
I myself was a bit sceptic when I decided to put Vegas as the fourth stop of my US summer tour but it turned out I fell in love with it. Let’s be clear: you don’t want to spend more than 4-5 days here unless you are a millioner. There is not much to do in Vegas but to go the Casinos and do some crazy shopping on the Strip. Hotels here are a true attraction: from the Luxor to the Bellagio to the worldwide famous Caesar Palace to New York-New York to Paris they all will offer you a stay to remember. Indeed, they all are themed hotels so pick the theme you like the most and book a room in what will probably be the most entertaining hotel you have ever been to. And don’t worry, you will get the chance to visit every hotel since every one is open to the public for they have casinos and shops inside.
This coastal seaport city is the fastest-growing major city in the United States. Known for its musical history, it is the birthplace of Jimi Hendrix and the grunge style, Seattle will give you your good dose of arts and culture (check out the Space Needle, the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture on the UW campus and and the Experience Music Project Museum in Seattle Center for a different experience) but will also offer you a good range of outdoor activities. For example, take a stroll around the majestic Arboretum or sail for free at The Center For Wooden Boats. Oh, and don’t forget to take a ride on a water taxi to West Seattle: it will offer you the best views of the Seattle skyline.
Boston is a city full of history and culture. Known as the most European city in the States it won’t offer you the best skyline but instead some of the places that made the history of the States. Indeed, follow the Feedom Tail and you will understand the role that this city played in the American Revolution and the nation’s founding. Boston also offers the oldest and one of the most beautiful public parks of the US, the Boston Common, the best lobster rolls and an unforgettable baseball experience thanks to the famous Red Sox. You will have the chance to visit the New England Aquarium, global leader in ocean exploration and marine conservation, and the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA). Boston is also known for its deal of great colleges: Harvard, MIT, the Boston Conservatory are all located here. A tour around some of the world’s most famous campuses is hence mandatory!
7. New Orleans
Known as the ‘Big Easy’, New Orleans is famous for its vibrant life, its music history and singular cuisine that reflects the influence of all the French, African and American inhabitants. The French Quarter is probably the place to be, where most of the main attractions are, like the 1850 House, the Cabildo or the French Market, the oldest public market in the country. Your tour of New Orleans won’t be complete until you stop by one of the many music clubs to enjoy a live performance. Best day to visit the city? The Mardi Gras of course. Indeed, on this late-winter carnival New Orleans gets wild on costumed parades and public partying.
8. Washington DC
This city is one of the most loved ones by all the history and politics enthusiasts. Home to many free musuems and full of memorials and monuments dedicated to great American leaders, Washington DC will win your heart thanks to its many and well known attractions. Your tour should probably include the Lincoln Memorial, the Tidal Basin, the Cathedral, the White House, the Capitol and the Zoo. Also, spend some contemplative time at the Reflecting Pool within the National Mall!
9. San Diego
San Diego embodies the laid back California culture: beaches, surf, parks, parties, that is what this city will offer you. San Diego is also known for its world famous Zoo and for the SeaWorld San Diego and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The Old Town, theBalboa Park and the Seaport Village will offer you great cultural and shopping opportunities while a handful of theme parks will entertain you. San Diego is what you are looking for if you want to take a break from your busy city life.
Let’s be honest: despite Orlando being a pretty city it is not for the city itself that it draws thousands of tourists every year. Orlado is indeed home to the Walt Disney World and the Universal Orlando. If you love roller coasters, are a fan of rides or simply want to feel the magic in the air, take the first flight and go to Orlando! DIsney World is divided into 4 parks and 2 water parks while the Universal offers the Island of Adventures and the Universal Studios with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter straddling both (yes, you will be able to take the Hogwarts Express that links both parks). While in these parks the clock will somehow stop and you will feel like you are going back to your childhood again. I guarantee you there is no place like this.
Featured Image Credits: © Nick Harris on Flickr