The USA is an enormous country: almost two and a half times the size of the European Union. The state of Texas is almost twice the size of Germany, two United Kingdoms could fit into California…you get the idea. So writing a guide to the USA – or planning a trip there – is a herculean task. To simplify things for you (and us), we’ve created this guide to the highlights of each region in the USA.
Birmingham Airport has daily flights to Newark Liberty Airport, From this major hub you’re only a connecting flight away from anywhere in the USA. Let the adventure begin.
New York City: New York really is the city that never sleeps. There’s just too much to do: incredible theatre on Broadway and beyond, global cuisine on every corner, skyscrapers stretching up as high as the eye can see and dozens of museums and galleries. Don’t limit yourself to Manhattan; Brooklyn and the other three boroughs have lots to offer as well.
Boston: Founded in 1630, Boston is one of the USA’s oldest cities and perhaps the best place to discover the country’s founding. Walk the Freedom Trail that links historic sites from the American Revolution. Boston is also a major sports city with professional baseball, basketball, hockey and American football teams.
Upstate New York: Most New York tourists never get further than the noise and hubbub of the city, but upstate New York is a quiet and serene paradise. The Catskills offer gorgeous mountain landscapes perfect for hiking, while the Hudson Valley has tiny river towns, leafy parks and vibrant arts and farming communities.
Maine Coast: With its rocky shorelines, pretty towns and friendly locals, Maine’s coast is a quintessential New England destination. It’s ideal for sailing and fishing, or just hanging out by the harbour. Binging on seafood is a must while you’re here; Maine is famous for its lobsters, oysters and clams.
New Orleans: Nowhere epitomises ‘melting pot’ quite as well as this French-Creole-Southern city. Come to eat – sugar-sprinkled beignets, shrimp-stuffed po’ boy sandwiches, gumbo thick with spices and seafood. Come to learn – French, Spanish and African history, historic architecture, the legacy of Hurricane Katrina. Come to dance – brass bands, jazz clubs, street parades, Mardi Gras.
Tennessee and Mississippi: Music lovers can’t miss Tennessee or Mississippi. Nashville is the country music capital of the world, and in Memphis, you can see Graceland, Elvis’ former estate. The Mississippi Delta is the birthplace of the blues, which laid the foundation for rock’n’roll, jazz and hip hop, and tiny music clubs or ‘juke joints’ still dot the landscape.
Beaches: California gets all the hype but the Southeast has some of the best beaches in the USA. There’s something for everyone, from the glamour of Miami’s South Beach to the rustic shores of North and South Carolina’s coastal islands.
Civil Rights Tour: Integral to American history, the Civil Rights Movement ended racial segregation and paved the way for equality. Visit Alabama and see the Rosa Parks Museum, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the famous bridge in Selma where one of the movement’s iconic marches occurred. Follow Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, from his Atlanta childhood home to the Memphis motel where he was assassinated.
Great Lakes: Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario – these five lakes truly deserve their name; taken together, they are the largest body of freshwater in the world. Their rocky cliffs, lush green islands and wide-open beaches invite both adventure and relaxation.
Chicago: A metropolitan city with a neighbourly Midwestern vibe, Chicago draws visitors for its diverse food scene, world-class museums, and legendary architecture by the likes of Frank Gehry and Frank Lloyd Wright. Its winters may be brutal, but it more than makes up for them with its incredible summers: free outdoor festivals and concerts, baseball games at Wrigley Field and lazy afternoons wandering Lake Shore Drive.
Great Plains: Home to a large Native American population, the Great Plains stretch across the Dakotas and beyond. To learn more about Native American history and culture, visit the Crazy Horse Memorial and the Indian Museum of North America, and also attend a traditional powwow celebration. Wildlife lovers can enjoy the wild bison, big horn sheep and elk that roam freely in this area.
Great Lakes Cities: The Great Lakes region is also where natural beauty meets enterprising cities. This is the former industrial heartland of the USA, where fortunes were built at the turn of the 20th century. Visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, have a pint at a craft brewery in Milwaukee, or watch revitalisation in action in Detroit.
Grand Canyon: The classic image of the American outdoors, the Grand Canyon lives up to its name. Nowhere else matches its sheer scale or its iconic status. More than a mile deep and up to 18 miles wide, it offers countless opportunities for photos and activities. For a different perspective, descend the canyon and raft the Colorado River, where you’ll find rapids, ruins and relative solitude.
Skiing in Colorado: Winter in the Colorado Rockies is a skier’s dream – long sunny days, fluffy deep powder and consistent heavy snowfall. At the legendary big ski towns like Aspen, Vail and Telluride, there’s some of the world’s best downhill, cross-country and backcountry skiing. Beginners and experts welcome.
California Cities: No trip to the West Coast would be complete without experiencing California’s two most famous cities: Los Angeles and San Francisco. These rivals share great beaches and thriving restaurant scenes, but they differ a lot as well – LA has sunshine, traffic, urban sprawl and Hollywood, while San Fran has fog, cable cars, compact neighbourhoods and Silicon Valley.
Texas Cities: Explore Texan hospitality through its cities. Hang with hipsters and listen to the latest indie bands in Austin, feast on authentic Tex-Mex and visit the historic Alamo in San Antonio, go to a rodeo in Fort Worth and enjoy the USA’s largest arts district in Dallas.
National Parks: Celebrate the breath-taking beauty of the American West by exploring the region’s national parks. From geysers and giant Redwood trees in California to rainforests in Washington and stone formations in Utah, the landscapes here are vast and diverse. You can camp, hike, bike, climb, raft and more.