Best USA Travel Guides And Travel Advice – Things To Know
Best USA travel guides and travel advice: Here are things to know before traveling to the United States of America. As the world’s superpower and by far the largest economy, almost everyone on the planet knows something about the United States, even if they’ve never visited.
The Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the Hollywood sign, Las Vegas neon, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the White House have long been global icons, and American brands and images, from Apple computers and Levi’s to Coca-Cola and hot dogs, are ubiquitous. However, first-time visitors should be prepared for some surprises.
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Continue reading to learn more about…
- Where to Go in the United States
- Outdoor activities in the United States
- Sports in the United States
- The United States of America is a musical melting pot.
Overview of USA Travel Guide: Best USA Travel Guides
Though its cities attract the most visitors – New York, New Orleans, Miami, Los Angeles, and San Francisco are all incredible destinations in their own right – America is first and foremost a land of stunningly diverse and achingly beautiful landscapes.
The mighty Rockies and the spectacular Cascades, vast, mythic desert landscapes of the Southwest, endless, rolling plains of Texas and Kansas, tropical beaches and the Everglades of Florida, giant redwoods of California, and sleepy, pristine villages of New England all exist in one country.
Things To Know About Best USA Travel Guides And Travel Advice
You can take in the breathtaking views of Crater Lake, Yellowstone, and Yosemite national parks, hike the Black Hills, cruise the Great Lakes, paddle in the Mississippi, surf the gnarly breaks of Oahu, and get lost in the vast wilderness of Alaska.
Or you could easily plan a trip that focuses on the out-of-the-way hamlets, remote prairies, eerie ghost towns, and forgotten byways that are every bit as “American” as its showpiece icons and monuments.
The sheer size of the country precludes any sort of overarching statement about the typical American experience, just as the diversity of its people undermines any notion of the typical American. Icons such as Mohammed Ali, Louis Armstrong, Sitting Bull, and Hillary Clinton
There are Irish Americans, Italian Americans, African Americans, Chinese Americans, and Latinos, Texan cowboys and Bronx hustlers, Seattle hipsters and Alabama pastors, New England fishermen, Las Vegas showgirls, and Hawaiian surfers.
USA Travel Guides And Travel Advice: Best USA Travel Guides
Though it may sound cliché to outsiders, the only thing that holds this bizarre federation together is the much-maligned “American Dream.” While the United States is one of the world’s oldest still-functioning democracies, with roots dating back to the 1500s, the palpable sense of newness here fosters an odd sort of optimism, in which anything seems possible and fortune can strike at any time.
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Indeed, despite the apparent familiarity, aspects of American culture can be difficult for many visitors to understand:
- its obsession with guns; the widely held belief that “government” is bad;
- the genuine, two-hundred-year-old pride in the American Revolution and the US Constitution;
- the equally genuine belief that the USA is the “greatest country on earth”; the wild grandstanding of its politicians (especially during election season); and the perplexing contradictions.
- That is America: diverse, challenging, beguiling, and at times maddening, but always entertaining and changing.
- And, while there is no such thing as a typical American person or landscape, there are likely to be few places where strangers can feel at ease.
Best USA Travel Guides And Travel Advice
Continue reading to learn more about…
- Where to Go in the United States
- Outdoor activities in the United States
- Sports in the United States
- The United States of America is a musical melting pot.
#1. Where to Go in the United States
The most exciting American expeditions are frequently those that cover more than one region. You don’t have to cross the entire continent from coast to coast to appreciate its amazing diversity; seeing the entire country would take a long time, and the more time you spend simply traveling, the less time you’ll have to savor the small-town pleasures and backroad oddities that may well provide your strongest memories.
Unless you’re traveling to and from a centralized location like New York City, you’ll need a car – that necessary component of life in the United States.
The Great LakesUSA
The Capital RegionUSA
The Great PlainsUSA
The Pacific NorthwestUSA
Sights & Places of Interest
The Empire State BuildingManhattan
The Metropolitan Museum of ArtManhattan
The Bronx ZooThe Bronx
Long IslandNew York State
For most people, the obvious place to begin is New York City, an international cultural and financial colossus with a colorful history and numerous skyscrapers to prove its status as an essential American city.
While you could easily spend weeks exploring the area, a little more effort will take you to the northernmost reaches of the Mid-Atlantic region.
From the bucolic hamlets of Amish country and the wilderness of the Adirondack Mountains to iconic sights like Niagara Falls and holiday favorites like the Catskills, major cities like Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh border a landscape of unexpected charm and beauty, whether in upstate New York, New Jersey, or Pennsylvania.
Next door, New England has a similarly varied appeal; most visitors know it for the colonial and history-rich city of Boston.
But there’s a lot to be said for its rural byways, which lead to centuries-old villages in Vermont and New Hampshire, bayside Massachusetts, and the rugged individualism of the lobster-catching harbors and mountains of Maine – which take up nearly half the region.
USA Travel Guides And Travel Advice (contd)
The Great Lakes, seven hundred miles west, are the country’s most underappreciated region; vibrant cities like Chicago and Minneapolis, isolated and evocative lakeshores in Michigan and Minnesota, and rousing college towns like Madison, Wisconsin, reward any visitor with more than a few days to explore.
The nearby Capital Region, which borders Ohio to the east, is home to Washington DC, the nation’s capital and focal point for the country’s grandest museums and monuments.
Nearby Baltimore is one of the region’s few other major cities, and to the south, Virginia’s old tobacco country has a fair share of American history, while coal-mining West Virginia has a smattering of curious natural treasures.
Although Virginia is technically part of the South, you’ll need to travel even further to get a true sense of its charismatic churches, BBQ dinners, country music, and lively cities like Atlanta and Memphis.
Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi are the “deepest” parts of the South, and with their massive plantations and long history of slavery, these states offer a very different perspective on American life than anywhere else in the country.
Other Southern states have their own distinct cultures: Florida is a mix of old-fashioned Southern manners and backwater swamps mixed with ultra-modern cities such as Miami, Latino culture, miles of enticing beaches, and the lustrous Keys islands.
More so, Louisiana offers more atmospheric swamps and “Cajun” culture, with New Orleans one of the few places in the USA with a strongly Catholic, yet broadly indulgent culture of drinking, dancing, and debauchery; and Texas is the country’s capital for oil drilling, BBQ eating, and right-wing politics, with vast swaths of land, equally massive cities, and rich history.
Discover more places in the United States
The Great Plains, which are located in the geographic center of the country, are frequently overlooked by visitors, but they contain many of America’s most well-known sights, from Mount Rushmore in South Dakota to the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and the Wild West town of Dodge City in Kansas.
To the west, the great peaks of the Rockies rise, bringing with them a smorgasbord of exciting cities like Denver, beautiful mountain scenery like Montana’s Glacier National Park, Yellowstone’s geysers, and great skiing opportunities like Idaho’s Sun Valley.
The desert Southwest region, which borders the southern side of the Rockies, is also rich in breathtaking natural beauty, whether in the colossal chasm of the Grand Canyon, striking national parks at Zion and Canyonlands, or the Native American heart of the Four Corners region, as well as a handful of charming towns and less interesting big cities.
Things To Know: Best USA Travel Guides
California, of course, is synonymous with the concept of “the West Coast” and its freewheeling culture of surfing, libertine lifestyles, and self-worship. However, the further you get from the water, the less the stereotypes hold true, especially in the far north’s lava beds and redwoods, the ghost towns and magnificent Yosemite in the Sierras, and the intriguing deserts of Death Valley.
To the north, Oregon, and Washington – the rain-soaked pair that makes up the Pacific Northwest – offer pleasantly progressive cities like Seattle and Portland, as well as some of the most stunning scenery in the United States, including the Columbia River Gorge, the pristine islands of the San Juans, the snowy peaks of the Cascades, and more. Best USA Travel Guides!
Alaska is a winter wonderland of great mountains and icy spires beyond the lower 48 states, with few roads and people but much to offer anyone who enjoys the outdoors and the unexpected. Hawaii is the country’s vacation destination, a collection of magnificent islands in the central Pacific with remote jungle settings and rumbling volcanoes.
Outdoor Activities in the United States
The United States is blessed with spectacular backcountry and wilderness areas, which are covered in dense forests, cut by deep canyons, and capped by great mountains.
Even the densely populated East Coast has its share of open space, most notably along the Appalachian Trail, which spans two thousand miles from Mount Katahdin in Maine to the southern Appalachians in Georgia.
However, to experience the full breathtaking sweep of America’s wide-open stretches, head west: to the Rockies, the red-rock deserts of the Southwest, or all the way across the continent to the incredible wild spaces of the West Coast.
On the downside, be aware that the shoreline in many coastal areas can be frustratingly difficult to access, with a large proportion under private ownership.
National Parks and Monuments in USA
The National Park Service is in charge of managing both national parks and national monuments. Its rangers do an excellent job of providing visitors with information and advice, maintaining trails, and organizing activities such as free guided hikes and campfire talks.
In general, a national park protects an area of outstanding natural beauty, encompassing a diverse range of terrain and prime examples of specific landforms and wildlife. Yellowstone has boiling geysers and herds of elk and bison, whereas Yosemite has towering granite walls and cascading waterfalls.
A national monument is typically much smaller, focusing on a single archeological site or geological phenomenon, such as Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. The national park system is made up of approximately 400 units, which include national seashores, lakeshores, battlefields, and other historic sites.
While national parks are ideal for hiking (almost all have extensive trail networks), they are far too large to tour entirely on foot (Yellowstone, for example, is bigger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined).
Even if you can take public transportation to a park, you’ll almost certainly need a vehicle to explore it once you’re there. The Alaska parks are mostly wild wilderness, with few roads or tourist facilities – you’re on your own.
Other National Parks and Monuments in USA
Most parks and monuments charge admission fees ranging from $5 to $25 per vehicle and all occupants for up to a week. It may make more sense for anyone on a touring vacation to purchase the Inter-agency Annual Pass, also known as the “America the Beautiful Pass.”
This pass, available for $80 at all federal parks and monuments or online at store.usgs.gov/pass, grants the bearer and any accompanying passengers in the same vehicle unrestricted access for a year to all national parks and monuments, as well as sites managed by agencies such as the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Forest Service, and the BLM. It does not, however, cover or reduce additional fees such as camping fees in official parks.
Two additional passes, available at any park but not online, grant free lifetime access to all national parks and monuments to the holder and any accompanying passengers, as well as a 50% discount on camping fees.
The Senior Pass is available for $10 to any US citizen or permanent resident aged 62 or older, while the Access Pass is free to blind or permanently disabled US citizens or permanent residents. While hotel-style lodges are only found in major parks, every park or monument has at least one well-organized campground.
A cluster of motels is frequently found not far from the park’s boundaries. Backpackers can usually camp in the backcountry with the proper permits – subject to restrictions in popular parks (a general term for areas inaccessible by road).
Other Public lands
National parks and monuments are frequently surrounded by national forests, which are also federally administered but far less protected. These, too, usually have appealing rural campgrounds, but each is a “Land Of Many Uses,” as the slogan goes, and usually allows logging and other land-based industry (thankfully, more often ski resorts than strip mines).
Other government agencies are in charge of wildlife refuges, national scenic rivers, recreation areas, and so on. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has the most land, most of it open rangeland, such as in Nevada and Utah, but also some enticingly remote reaches.
Environmentalists are locked in a never-ending battle with developers, ranchers, and extractive industries over the use – or alleged misuse – of federal lands.
While state parks and state monuments are administered by individual states, many are explicitly intended for recreational use and thus have better campgrounds than their federal counterparts.
Backpacking and Camping
The best way to see the great outdoors, especially if you’re on a tight budget, is to tour by car and camp in state and federal campgrounds. Typical public campgrounds range in price from free (usually when there is no water available, which may be seasonal) to around $30 per night.
Fees at less scenic commercial campgrounds, which are common near major cities and often resemble open-air hotels with shops and restaurants, ranging from $20 to $35. If you’re camping during peak season, either reserve ahead of time or avoid the most popular areas.
Backcountry camping in national parks is usually free but requires a permit. Before embarking on anything longer than a half-day hike, and whenever you’re going somewhere remote, notify a ranger of your plans and inquire about weather conditions and specific local tips.
- Carry enough food and water to last in an emergency, as well as all necessary equipment and maps.
- Check to see if fires are permitted; if they are, try to use a camp stove instead of local materials.
- Try to camp in previously used areas in wilderness areas.
- Bury human waste at least six inches into the ground and 100 feet from the nearest water supply and campground where there are no toilets.
Backpackers should avoid drinking from rivers and streams because you never know what acts people – or animals – have committed further upstream. Giardia is a serious problem caused by a water-borne bacteria that causes an intestinal disease characterized by chronic diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fatigue, and weight loss.
Water that does not come from a tap should be boiled for at least five minutes before use, or it should be cleansed with an iodine-based purifier or a giardia-rated filter.
Hiking at lower elevations is relatively trouble-free, though mosquitoes near water can be annoying. Avon Skin-so-Soft or anything containing DEET is a fairly reliable repellent. Ticks, which are tiny beetles that burrow their heads into your skin and cause it to swell, are another danger.
They sometimes leave their heads inside, causing blood clots or infections, so seek medical attention if you’ve been bitten. Lyme Disease is caused by one species of tick and can even affect the brain. It is strongly advised to inspect your skin every night.
Other Health Issues in USA
Be wary of poison oak, which grows throughout the west, usually among oak trees. Its leaves come in threes (the middle one on a short stem) and are distinguished by prominent veins and shiny surfaces.
If you come into contact with it, wash your skin (with soap and cold water) and clothes as soon as possible – and don’t scratch. In severe cases, hospital emergency rooms may administer antihistamine or adrenaline shots. Poison ivy, which grows all over the country, is a similar curse. Remember the sage advice “Leaves of three, let it be” when it comes to both plants.
Hiking at higher elevations, such as the 14,000-foot peaks of the Rockies or California’s Sierra Nevada, requires extra caution (and certainly in Alaska). Late snows are common, and avalanches are a real danger in the spring, while meltwaters make otherwise simple stream crossings dangerous.
Weather patterns can also change quickly. Even the fittest athletes can be affected by altitude sickness, so take it easy for the first few days above 7000 feet. Drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol, eat plenty of carbohydrates, and wear sunscreen.
If you plan to hike in the desert, bring plenty of extra food and water, and never leave the house without a map. The midday heat is too debilitating, so cover the majority of your ground early in the morning. If you become disoriented, seek shade and wait. The rangers will eventually come looking for you if you’ve registered.
Wearing full-length sleeves and trousers will keep you cooler during the day at any time of year, while a wide-brimmed hat and good sunglasses will keep you from getting blinded by the desert light. You may also encounter flash floods, which can appear out of nowhere. Never camp in a dry wash, and don’t try to cross flooded areas until the water has receded.
Carry plenty of water in the car when driving in the desert, and bring an emergency pack with flares, a first-aid kit, a snakebite kit, matches, and a compass. A shovel, a tyre pump, and extra gasoline are always useful. If the engine overheats, don’t turn it off; instead, try to cool it down quickly by turning the car’s front end toward the wind.
Pour some water carefully on the front of the radiator, then turn off the air conditioning and turn on the heat to full blast. In an emergency, never leave the car: you’ll be harder to find if you’re wandering around by yourself.
Traveling for Adventure
The possibilities for adventure travel in the United States are virtually limitless, whether you prefer whitewater rafting down the Colorado River, mountain biking in the volcanic Cascades, canoeing down the Mississippi River’s headwaters, horseback riding in Big Bend on the Rio Grande in Texas, or Big Wall rock climbing on the sheer granite monoliths of Yosemite Valley.
While an exhaustive list of the possibilities could fill a book, certain locations, such as Moab, Utah, or New Hampshire’s White Mountains, have an especially high concentration of adventure opportunities.
There are downhill ski resorts all over the United States. The eastern Vermont and New York State resorts, on the other hand, pale in comparison to those of the Rockies, such as Vail and Aspen in Colorado, and the Sierra Nevada in California. Lift tickets will cost between $45 and $100 per day (depending on the resort’s quality and popularity), plus another $30 or more per day to rent equipment.
Cross-country skiing, also known as ski touring, is a less expensive option. Backcountry ski lodges can be found on both coasts and in the Rockies. They provide rustic lodging, equipment rental, and lessons starting at $20 per day for skis, boots, and poles and rising to around $200 for an all-inclusive weekend tour.
In the backcountry, keep an eye out for bears, deer, moose, mountain lions, and rattlesnakes, and consider the impact your presence may have on their environment.
A bear is extremely unlikely to be encountered outside of a national park. Even there, it’s uncommon to come across one in the wild. If you do, don’t run; instead, slowly back away. It will primarily be interesting in your food, which should be stored in airtight containers when camping.
Food and garbage should ideally be hung from a high but slender branch some distance from your camp. Never feed bears, and never get between a mother and her cubs. Young animals are adorable, but their irritated mothers are not.
Snakes and other creepy crawlies
Though the deserts are home to a diverse range of poisonous creatures, they are rarely aggressive toward humans. Take obvious precautions to avoid trouble. Keep your eyes open while walking and watch where you put your hands when scrambling over obstacles; shake out shoes, clothing, and bedding before use; and back off if you spot a creature, giving it room to escape.
If you are bitten or stung, current medical thinking opposes cutting yourself open and sucking out the venom. Whether a snake, scorpion, or spider is to blame, apply a cold compress to the wound, constrict the area with a tourniquet to prevent venom spread, drink plenty of water, and cool down by resting in a shady area.
Therefore, maintain as much calm as possible and seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Sports in the United States
Catching a baseball game at Chicago’s Wrigley Field on a summer afternoon, or joining the screaming throngs at a Steelers football game in Pittsburgh, can provide visitors with an unforgettable insight into a town and its people, in addition to being enjoyable.
Professional teams almost always put on the most spectacular shows, but big games between college rivals, Minor League baseball games, and even Friday night high-school football games provide a simple and enjoyable way to become acquainted with a location.
Specific information for the most important teams in all sports is provided in the various city accounts in this Guide. They can also be found on the Major League websites: mlb.com (baseball), nba.com (basketball), nfl.com (football), nhl.com (ice hockey), and mlssoccer.com (soccer).
Popular/Major Spectator Sports in USA
Baseball is probably the easiest sport to catch when traveling because Major League teams play so many games (162 in the regular season, usually at least five a week from April to September, plus the October playoffs).
Baseball stadiums, such as Boston’s historic Fenway Park, New York’s famed Yankee Stadium, Los Angeles’ glamorous Dodger Stadium, or Baltimore’s evocative Camden Yards, are fantastic places to spend time.
It’s also one of the cheapest sports to watch (around $10-15 per bleacher seat), and tickets are usually easy to come by.
The American version of pro football is quite the opposite. Tickets are exorbitantly priced and nearly impossible to obtain (if the team is any good), and most games are played in massive, fortress-like stadiums far out in the suburbs; you’d be better off watching it on TV in a bar.
College football is much better and more exciting, with chanting crowds, cheerleaders, and lower-priced tickets, which can be difficult to come by in football-crazed college towns in the South and Midwest. Although live viewing of New Year’s Day games like the Rose Bowl or the Orange Bowl is nearly impossible, big games like USC vs.
UCLA, Michigan vs. Ohio State, or Notre Dame vs. anyone is not to be missed if you’re anywhere nearby.
Major Spectator Sports in the USA: US Travel Advice
Basketball elicits strong emotions as well. The pro playoffs continue well into June. Many consider the men’s month-long college playoff tournament known as “March Madness” to be the country’s most exciting sports extravaganza, with games taking place at venues across the country in many small to mid-sized towns.
Ice hockey, or simply hockey, was once confined to Canada and cities in the far north of the United States, but it has now spread throughout the country, with a concentration along the East Coast and Great Lakes. Tickets, especially for successful teams, are difficult to obtain and expensive.
Soccer is still a much more popular participant sport, particularly among children than a spectator sport, and those Americans who are interested in it usually watch foreign matches, such as England’s Premier League, rather than their home-grown talent.
For international visitors, the good news is that any decent-sized city will have one or two pubs where you can watch games from England, various European countries, or Latin America; check out Live Sports TV for a list of such establishments and match schedules.
Golf, once the domain of wealthy businessmen, has gained popularity in recent decades as a result of the rise of celebrity golfers such as Tiger Woods and the construction of numerous municipal and public courses. You’ll have the best access at these, where a round of golf can cost as little as $15 for a run-down set of links and as much as $50 for a chintzier course.
Private golf courses have different rules for allowing non-members to play (check their websites) and higher fees – over $100 per person for the more elite courses.
USA – The Musical Melting Pot
Some of the world’s greatest musical genres arose from the collisions of European, African, and indigenous cultures in cities and small towns across America.
During the late nineteenth century, the blues evolved from a combination of African and gospel sounds into a simple twelve-bar form. Mississippi blues can still be found in Delta juke joints, and electrified urban blues can be found in Chicago’s gritty clubs.
Jazz arose from New Orleans’ Creole culture, fusing African traditions with western techniques to create a uniquely American art form. Jazz is still danced music in New Orleans, and cooler urban stylings can be found in New York clubs.
Nashville is still associated with country and western music; outside of the cities, rural Appalachia is alive with backwoods fiddlers, and Louisiana’s sleepy bayous are alive with Cajun and zydeco.
Rock ‘n’ roll has come a long way since its blues-based infancy in 1950s Memphis when young trucker Elvis Presley shook up white country with raw R&B. Spiky New York punk, oddball Ohio industrial, furious LA hardcore, slacker Seattle grunge, and spaced-out neo-psychedelia are just a few of the rock genres that thrive in the United States.
Other USA Musical Melting Pot
The heartfelt soul of masters like Otis Redding preceded the explosion of talent that came to define the Motown era, which was born in Detroit, in the 1960s.
Hip-hop was born on the streets of New York, and later LA, with attitude, street style, and political savvy. Today, any city with a sizable black population has a distinct rap scene, including the so-called “Dirty South,” where rappers draw inspiration from the raw call-and-response stylings of early blues.
Modern dance music originated in Chicago house, New York garage, and Detroit techno, but club culture has since spread around the world.