The United States of America (US, USA, America or simply ‘The States’) is extraordinarily diverse. From man-made landscapes such as the neon lights of Las Vegas to natural wonders like the Grand Canyon, the experiences are endless. And when you’ve seen enough sights, you can immerse yourself in an array of different foods, music, local people and regional cultures.
Chicago - Or ‘The Windy City’ is in the heart of the Midwest and boasts a skyline full of skyscrapers and other beautiful architecture.
Las Vegas - Or ‘Sin City’ is a famous party city in the Nevada desert, home to world-famous casinos, shows and nightlife.
Los Angeles - Or ‘The City of Angels’ is the centre of the nation’s film and television industry and has an incredible natural beauty ranging from mountains to beaches.
New York City - Or ‘The Big Apple’ is the country’s largest city, home to many iconic sites such as the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building.
San Francisco - Or ‘Fog City’ is home to the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. It’s surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay.
Washington D.C. - Is the national capital city home to many museums, monuments, the White House and Capitol Hill.
In the US everything is big - big food, big cars and big natural wonders. Niagara Falls straddles the international border between Canada and New York with the largest waterfall at 51m. The Redwood National Forest in California is home to the tallest living tree standing at over 115m (you may also come across the California sea lion, bald eagle, Roosevelt elk or banana slug in the forest). The Grand Canyon at 1800m high, over 446km long and 29km wide attracts more than 4 million visitors a year.
The Great Lakes are five interconnected lakes called Superior, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Huron. Each lake is impressive enough on its own but put together these lakes form the largest body of fresh water in the world. Lake Superior is the largest at 82,100km2. Not surprisingly, it’s a great spot for hiking, bike riding, fishing and canoeing.
The huge national football championship in America is so big, some people think ‘Superbowl Sunday’ should be a public holiday. The grand final (usually held in February) creates a festival feeling throughout the US. It’s the most-watched sporting event of the year with supermarkets, bars, restaurants and retail stores all hosting special events.
Disney’s timeless cartoon characters and movies are favourites with people of all ages. The Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, is filled with timeless attractions, world-class entertainment and all the familiar characters. Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, hosts some of the biggest Disney theme parks. But if theme parks aren’t your thing you can also visit the famous sites that inspired Disney movies. New Orleans is the setting for The Princess and the Frog and Route 66 heavily influenced the movie Cars
Running from Chicago to Los Angeles, Route 66 is unofficially called ‘The Main Street of America’. It was one of the first US highways — the 3,940km route passes through a multitude of ‘Americana’, including cornfields in Illinois, the golden sands of Los Angeles and Native American communities in the southwest desert. Now superseded by the Interstate Highway System, Route 66 is still a drawcard as it typifies the saying “it’s about the journey, not the destination”.
Black bears are nearly everywhere and often steal food from campsites in national parks. Grizzly bears are rarer but can be found in Yellowstone and also in Alaska. The American beaver is well-known for building wooden dams across rivers and is occasionally found living in park ponds in big cities. Raccoons (America’s possum) are often found in urban areas raiding garbage cans and pet food bowls. Virtually every wetlands area hosts bald eagles, and America’s northern plains teem with moose, caribou and bison.
Country music was born in the US in the 1920s and became ingrained into Southern culture. If you’re a fan or even a curious bystander, you must visit the Southern American town of Nashville. ‘Music City’ is home to many country artists. It’s also home to the Grand Ole Opry, one of the most famous music venues in the US. The Country Music Museum and the Johnny Cash museum feature impressive collections of memorabilia. And if country music gets too much, you can also visit the full-size replica of the Greek Pantheon.
Each year, on the first Friday of June, the US celebrates National Doughnut Day! Starting as a Salvation Army fundraiser during World War 1, it is now an official holiday where many stores give away doughnuts to the public. It’s also easy to find other US food icons such as barbecue ribs in Texas, bagels in Manhattan, chilli dogs in Washington D.C, key lime pie in Florida — there’s a local speciality everywhere. And if you are extremely hungry, try the world’s largest retail pizza at Big Mama’s and Papa’s pizzeria in Los Angeles, feeding up to 100 people it needs to be ordered in advance.
Every Christmas, our television screens fill up with snow-filled US Christmas movies, like Home Alone, Elf and The Grinch. New York City provides a magical white Christmas experience. Ice skate in Rockefeller Plaza while admiring the glittering Christmas tree, visit the winter wonderland that is Central Park and take a romantic horse-drawn carriage through town with a blanket over your lap. Aspen, Colorado is a magical Christmas experience with sparkling lights over snow-covered evergreen trees and plenty of entertainment and activities with ski slopes nearby.
DISCLAIMER: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of all information as of the date of publishing, Allianz Global Assistance does not accept liability for any errors or omissions. Allianz Global Assistance strongly recommends seeking the guidance of a professional travel agent/agency for further information on a specific destination. On your next trip, whether to another province or country, ensure you have travel insurance as it may assist you in cases of unforeseen medical emergencies and other types of mishaps that can happen while you travel. Travel insurance does not cover everything, please always refer to the policy document for full terms and conditions, including limitations and exclusions. Allianz Global Assistance is a registered business name of AZGA Service Canada Inc. and AZGA Insurance Agency Canada Ltd. Photography Credits: Andrey Bayda and Joseph Sohm, Shutterstock.com
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