Best holidays in America
By Donna Dailey and Mike Gerrard, Editors of 101 USA Holidays
America, the land of the free, is one of the most exciting holiday destinations in the world. It’s not just a country, but a whole continent from sea to shining sea, encompassing mountains, beaches, desert, forests, buzzing cities and unspoilt wilderness. Here is my pick of some of the best holidays in the USA.
Many visitors don’t look beyond the big gateway cities of New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Las Vegas, and you’d be forgiven for getting distracted by these beguiling, addictive cities. But of course there’s so much more to see and do. The obvious places to explore include New England and Florida (particularly Orlando), but you might want to look beyond the obvious.
America boasts many more fascinating cities – there’s Boston and Washington D.C. in the East, Chicago in the Mid West, Seattle in the North West and San Francisco in California. It also boasts some of the world’s most eye-popping natural wonders from Niagara Falls to the Grand Canyon.
America is home to many of the great cultural icons of the 20th Century – its music, its movies, its architecture and food. Use a music festival such as Jazz Fest in New Orleans as an excuse to plan a visit.
Take a Music & Movies Trail to find the places celebrated in film and song, or visit the settings of classic TV shows on a location tour. You can get your kicks on Route 66 or follow in the footsteps of the Rat Pack in Palm Springs.
In New York you’ll never be bored, whether you love soaring buildings, shopping bargains, buzzing bars or art and culture. You can arrive in the Big Apple on a Transatlantic cruise, combine it with Las Vegas or jump in a hire car and explore the beautiful countryside of Upstate New York.
America was built on the back of the automobile and renting a car (or a motorhome) and hitting the open road is still the most exciting and authentic way to experience the country. We’ve collected together some of the most exciting fly-drive itineraries whether you want to explore New England, the Great Lakes, the Florida Keys or the real Wild West.
You can tour California, explore the fascinating state of Virginia or drive the Civil War route – an emotional experience. We love this trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Or how about hugging the coast on this route between San Francisco and San Diego.
Although Americans have allowed their once-great railway system to become a shadow of its former self, there are still classic rail routes that you can use to get a unique insight into the country. We recommend these journeys from Seattle to LA, from Chicago to the Grand Canyon and this fascinating tour of America’s music capitals.
If you want somebody else to do the driving, you can opt for an escorted coach tour. You’ll find the coaches are spacious and comfortable and the guides excellent. How about this 14-night Western Discovery tour which starts in Los Angeles and takes in Grand Canyon, Bryce National Park, Yosemite National Park, San Francisco and Las Vegas.
With so many exciting destinations on the west and east coasts, it’s easy to ignore the South. Don’t make this mistake. The South is a charming and deeply rich region of America. You can take a tour of Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia or North and South Carolina. All are fascinating. How about this luxury fly-drive between New Orleans and Charleston.
Florida is by far the most popular state in the South for tourists, whether you’re interested in stylish hotels, deserted beaches or Mickey Mouse and his pals. We recommend theme park fans rent a villa with pool in Orlando, and if you want some grown-up glamour head for Miami and the Keys where we love The Setai South Beach and Little Palm Island.
California and the West Coast need no introduction. As well as boasting exciting cities, it’s a region of awesome natural beautiful and has some superb places to stay such as Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica.
Some of the best trips include exploring Napa Valley or discovering the states of Washington and Oregon on a river cruise. Further north, Alaska is simply stunning. You can gaze at whales and glaciers on a small-ship cruise or see grizzly bears in the wild in Katmai National Park.
There are many more ways to holiday in America. You can rent a big house with friends, take a river cruise on the Mississippi or join an escorted tour of the country’s finest gardens. You can rent a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and even get married.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can raft down the Grand Canyon, join a camping tour of the Northern Rockies, track wolves in Yellowstone National Park or stay on a working cowboy ranch in Colorado. America has some world-class ski resorts, particularly in Colorado and Wyoming.
America is a wonderful destination for families, and not just for its theme parks. This trip combines New York with a cowboy ranch and beach stay in California, while this drive along the Florida Keys has plenty of non-Disney attractions. Kids of all ages will love these family adventure holidays.
The Mid West is the beating heart of rural America, whether you’re exploring the Lakes of Michigan, the great National Parks or explore the wide open spaces of Colorado. The region also some stunning hotels such as the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale in Arizona.
The North West offer magnificent wilderness and interesting cities – try this 14-night Northwest Explorer fly drive. Another way to get off the beaten track is on this beautiful fly-drive route through the byways of the Great Lakes. Find more fly-drive holidays in the USA.
And if you love beaches you can’t get much better than in Hawaii where you also have stunning volcanic landscapes and a fascinating indigenous culture. Pick an island-hopping tour, a small ship cruise or a chilled-out beach break on the island of Kaua’i.
Going south of the border? See our full guide to holiday destinations in Latin America.