As we travel around the world we meet many people who want to visit the United States. We often meet people who have visited the USA and want to go again. But the thing I find a bit surprising is that these foreign visitors all tell me they want to visit the same places; New York, Las Vegas and Orlando.
Those are the top three we hear. Sometimes Los Angeles or San Fransisco or Washington DC. Occasionally the Grand Canyon. But most people we meet from other countries have New York, Las Vegas and Orlando on the top of their list.
Wait. What? I really find this surprising. The USA is huge. I know you can’t see it all at once. But if I was recommending to someone where to visit in the USA I would never suggest New York, Las Vegas or Orlando as my first options.
The United States is made up of a remarkable mix of geography, geology, ecosystems, history and cultures from sea to shining sea. If a visitor wants to see and capture and feel what America really is…they would be better served visiting some smaller cities and unique places. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve had good times in New York, Las Vegas and Orlando. I just don’t feel they are representative of the whole of the USA, particularly Vegas and Orlando.
So here are some suggestions I would propose to consider when visiting the USA for the first, second or tenth time. My favorite USA cities and places.
Hudson River Valley NY
We visited the Hudson River Valley in upstate New York three years ago, a place I had always wanted to go for the history and beauty. It remains one of my favorite places in America. Rich with history of powerful people and events, it is worth a visit when in the New York area. Read about it.
Portland is only two and half hours drive from where I live in Washington State but I don’t get down there to visit often enough. It is one of the hippest cities in the USA and I love the vibe, the food and the scenery. Thanks to Empty Nesters Hit the Road for this blog. Read it here.
I just spent some time in beautiful Charleston, another small American city with so much historical significance. I love it there, and hope to go back again soon. Read about it.
I loved Austin as well as the Texas Hill Country and San Antonio when we visited several years ago. A wonderful mix of food, music and history in a small, manageable and oh so friendly little package. Thanks to GypsywithaDayJob for sharing this post. Read it here.
Long before I was a blogger I lived in Washington DC with my family when my kids were little. We loved living there…so much history and culture and great weather too. We didn’t mind the snow even. We spent our days exploring everything the region had to offer. I hope to go back some day soon. Thanks to Wired2theWorld for this post. Read it here.
One of the craziest and most fun weekends I ever spent was in amazing Nashville Tennessee. The food was great, the entertainment and music non-stop and the fun abundant. All wrapped up in an easy to navigate historic little town. Read about it.
My youngest used to go to school in Central California and we spent a lot of time visiting. What a great excuse it was to hit the road from our home in Washington and make the trek down or back on Historic Hwy 1 enjoying the many wonders of what I believe is California’s most underrated region. Read about it.
I’ve visited Scottsdale several times and I can’t get enough. My favorite Arizona small town has so much to offer from golf to restaurants, history to shopping and plenty of sunshine to go around. Read about it.
I visited Miami for the first time last December. It was such a surprise. I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did, but this city is made up of a collection of neighborhoods that are each so individual and unique, it’s like visiting many cities at once. Read about it.
For me, one of my favorite places on the entire planet is Maui. I can never get enough and I wish I could go every year. It’s my favorite Hawaiian Island, and even though it has grown so much since my first visit there in 1979, I still love it. Read about it.
New Orleans LA
It’s been a long time since I visited New Orleans but it still remains one of my favorite USA cities. Steeped in history and some really unique culture it is as beautiful and delicious and friendly as they come. Thanks to Jentheredonethat for this post. Read it here.
Utah’s National Parks
I love the National Parks we have in the USA and of course love the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone parks as well as the Olympic National Park in my own backyard of Washington. But I’ve got to say my favorite USA National Parks are in the amazing and under-the-radar state of Utah. Stunning geology, crystal clear lakes, mountains and rivers all accessible to the public. Read about it.
Okay this is where I grew up, and still have a home about an hour from here, but I don’t usually write about how much I LOVE this city. It is THE place to be in the USA in the summer, with the absolute best summer weather. Don’t even get me started about the food. So thanks to Wired2TheWorld for this post about Seattle. Read it here.
I’ve been to Denver and the surrounding area and National Parks several times and I can’t wait to go back and spend even longer enjoying this beautiful place. Some of our country’s most stunning scenery and outdoor recreation is at the finger tips of Denver’s sports-enthusiastic population. And lots of great food too. Thanks to The Travel Bunny for this post. Read it here.
For a big city Chicago doesn’t feel big. It’s a walkable, eatable, loveable place with what I think is some of the best public art and museums in the entire USA. Thanks to World Travel Tribe for this blog. Read it here.
So no matter where you live, in the USA or far far away, consider some of these beautiful and amazing cities and places when you are planning your USA adventures. You won’t regret it.
Special thanks to my travel blogging friends for their assistance with this post!
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