The United States of America is a land of great wonders. No where else in the world do you find such an eclectic and wide array of destinations all encompassed within one country. Often, when one considers exotic locations around the world, images of Machu Picchu, Agra, Santorini and Alexandria come to mind. However, the United States is perhaps the one and only country in the world that offers everything for everyone. Disagree? Here are the top ten places to visit in the US. Let me know if you still disagree after you finish reading:
Grand Canyon – lets start with one of the true wonders of the world. The Grand Canyon is one of the most significant geological sites of our time. It holds in its vast gorges, history dating back thousands of years. The Colorado River, that carved out most of this canyon still runs fiercely at the bottom and offers thrill seekers the opportunity to navigate some serious level 5 rapids. Hiking, donkey riding, climbing, swimming, rafting, and sightseeing are just some of the many activities you can engage in while visiting Grand Canyon. I can truly say, as someone who has been to Grand Canyon many times, that it is a one of a kind place in the world.
Rocky Mountains – Colorado (and even Utah) have some of the best ski slopes a ski enthusiast can hope to find anywhere. In fact, these slopes rival those of Switzerland. Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Aspen, Deer Valley, UT – offer skiing for all skill-levels. Colorado and the Rockies have everything for the outdoor adventure seekers. Miles of white water, hundreds of ski slopes and world famous mountain bike trails in Telluride.
Northern California – California is a country unto itself. In fact, it is impossible to experience all of California in one trip. So I would consider it two separate destinations. Northern California is flanked by the ocean to the west and by the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range (with great winter skiing at Lake Mammoth) to the east. It offers some of the best wineries in the world in Napa Valley and Sonoma. Northern California is heavily influenced by Silicon Valley, home of world tecnology giants like Apple, Google, Yahoo, Cisco and Oracle. San Francisco, with the Golden Gate bridge and the infamous Alcatraz Island is known for its liberal vitality and seafood. If nature is your medicine, the Yosemite National Park is one of the best national parks in the country, and along with Lake Tahoe and Lake Mammoth, round out some of the most scenic landscapes in the western US. Moving south, there is the beautiful coastline of Monterey and Carmel, with Pebble Beach, one of the best golf courses in the world, nestled between them.
Southern California – If you were to take a drive from Northern California to Southern California, a very scenic highway known as the Pacific Coast Highway takes you down the coast in style. As you enter Southern California, the beautiful beaches of Santa Barbara greet you along the curves, with miles of white sand and curved coastline. Another two hours south, you will run into the entertainment capital of the world – Los Angeles with Hollywood, Kodak Theatre (home of the Oscars), and Avenue of the Stars. Los Angeles is also home to some of the most diverse beaches in the west, like Venice Beach, Santa Monica and Malibu, all of which have played host to the famous TV series – Baywatch. And for family vacationers, there is always Disneyland, San Diego Wild Animal Park and Zoo, Six Flags theme park and Sea World. California truly has everything for everyone.
Las Vegas – Sin City, also known as the real resting place of the King, Elvis Presley, is the only city that can truly lay claim to the title “the city that never sleeps”. Casinos are open 24 hours a day, every day of the year, so whatever your poison, whether it be Poker, Blackjack, Roulette, Baccarat, or plain old slots, you can put lady luck to the test. Aside from gambling, Las Vegas has some of the best nightlife anywhere in the world, with exclusive clubs, fine dining and the best live entertainment in the world. When you travel to Las Vegas, I highly recommend flying in at night. The view of the lights from the sky is nothing short of breath-taking. In fact, even driving there at night, you can see the lights from miles away. This entire city is like one big night club with themed hotels depicted from Pyramids, New York City, Paris, Venice and Rome among others.
– While Niagara Falls is, by no means, the largest waterfalls in the world, it is certainly the most famous. There are many ways to enjoy these falls up close, the most popular being Maid of the Mist, a boat tour that takes you within a few hundred yards of the falls. There is also a bridge that takes you straight into the belly of the falls. Niagara Falls is better on the Canadian side, so when visiting, you may want to venture into Canada.
Hawaiian Islands – Hawaii is one of the most highly frequented honeymoon destinations in the world and continues to attract not only romancing couples, but cruise enthusiasts, surfers, golfers and vacationers. It is home to some of the best spa resorts in the world, and the birth place of pipe surfing. Waikiki Beach is perhaps the most famous beach in the world, renowned for its surfing. For world travelers, Hawaii offers a unique taste of Polynesian culture that you will be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the world. While in Hawaii, you should definitely find the best local Luau, catch the pipe competitiion and visit the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, the scene of the most devastating attacks on the US.
New York – No visit to the US is complete without a trip to the Big Apple. The financial capital of the world is the heart of America, with the best man-made skyline in the world with tall skyscrapers stretching for miles across the city. Night life is top notch in NYC, and restaurants and bars attract busy professionals every night of the week. Statue of Liberty is the icon of the American culture and it is one of many landmark buildings to dawn the famous New York skyline.
Alaska – Alaska, the final frontier, is the largest state of the United States of America by area; it is situated in the northwest extremity of North America, with Canada to the east, the Arctic ocean to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait. While, Alaska is best seen via a cruise, many people prefer to fly to Anchorage directly. Glacier National Park is one of the most spectacular sights in the world, and Alaska is the place to be if you are an avid sea kayaker. Some of the more famous activities in Alaska include salmon fishing, whale watching (Alaska is known for its Hump-back Whales), hiking and observing Polar Bears, Brown Bears and the endangered Bald Eagle.
Miami – It is hard to find a city so vibrant with culture and famous for its parties as Miami. This is a city where if you are out of shape, you might as well stay indoors. Hot bodies of all colors adorn the beaches of Miami, Daytona and Palm beach, specially in spring and summer. The club scene is extremely active and the music is hypnotic. If you are single and ready to mingle, Miami should be your first destination.
I am at the end of my post, and yet I find myself thinking there is so much more to mention here. For example, you can see the castle of Montezuma (King of the Aztecs) in Arizona dating back to the 12th century, Museum of Astrogeology (now also known as the Meteor Crater center) also in Arizona, Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, Chicago with its museums, arts and the grand Sears Tower and the list goes on. So you see, the United States of America, while not considered “exotic” is a place where every traveler will find something of interest. Its landmarks, beaches, mountains, buildings, monuments, wild life and natural wonders like the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls make it one of the most diversified destinations in the world.