There are few places on earth that can boast to be as diverse in culture, climate and landscape as America. From sunshine states like Florida, to the more formidably frozen Alaska, there is bound to be a place that captivates your heart and resonates with your soul.
Getting to find this place, however, may be no easy feat – America stretches over 9,857,306 km² meaning it can take years, if not a life time, to explore properly. Most road trippers have just a few months, stretching to a year at most, to explore this vast land, meaning tourists often miss out on the many faces of America.
Planning your road trip so each city you visit shows a unique side of the United States can be a long and challenging process, so we’ve rounded up 10 cities which will give you a glimpse into all aspects of American culture.
What would a trip to America be without stopping by in Florida? Of course, you should visit Orlando, Disney World and Universal Studios, but make sure you also check out the lesser known Florida Keys, five islands with coral reef diving, star-bathed parties and sun-soaked beaches, party on Miami Beach and take a gondola around Fort Lauderdale, the Venice of America.
A must for any travelers bucket list, the Grand Canyon is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World making it a perfect stop off on your road trip. Staring over the high plateaus, vast deserts, lava flows and dramatic white-water rivers can leave you feeling in awe, and painfully aware of how insignificant you are in the big wide world. This life-affirming experience makes you realize that it will all work out in the end.
Nicknamed The City of Sin, Las Vegas is famous for its huge casinos, flashy entertainment, free-flowing booze and giant theme parks. Feast on the never ending buffets, experience 24 hour days filled with casinos, night clubs and roller coasters, catch the Cirque du Soleil’s complex and beautiful water show ‘O’ or spend your slot winnings in the famous Caesars Palace shopping mall.
Inject a bit of Spanish-Mexican culture into your road trip by visiting the historic city of San Antonio. Try your hand at the San Antonio Western Shooting and revisit what it was like to be a cowboy in the Old West, cruise down the Rio San Antonio to see the city sights or relax in the Japanese Tea Gardens before grabbing some of the best Mexican food outside of Mexico.
Washington D.C. is the perfect stop for experiencing the rich, American culture. Start off your visit by taking a trip to the National Mall, that grassy expanse that runs from the U.S Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial, before visiting at least one of the 15 Smithsonian Institution museums. Make sure you check out at some of the various war memorials, for a sobering experience.
Known as the ‘Music City’ thanks to its rich heritage of musical history, Nashville has given us Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton and Carrie Underwood, among others. Spend the day brushing up on your music history at the Country Music Hall of Fame and check out the Ryman Auditorium and RCA Studio B before heading over to one of the various honky-tonk bars on lower Broadway.
The birthplace of America’s modern democracy, Philadelphia strikes a perfect balance between historic sites and contemporary attractions. Tour through the Independence National Historical Park and see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall in their full glory, run up the Rocky Steps to visit the Rocky Statue, and visit the conservation-friendly Philadelphia Zoo situated on 42 acres of lush gardens.
The city which never sleeps, New York is a trip for the romantic, the chaotic, the dreamers and the watchers. Drink coffee in the iconic Central Park, snap pictures of the Manhattan Skyline from the Empire State Building, spend an evening watching a Broadway show and eat classic New York street food to fuel your busy days.
Even if you’re not a nature buff, Missoula is worth visiting for the pictures alone. Situated in the beautiful Rocky Mountains, head out for a glimpse of black bears, white tailed deer and bald eagles along with stunning views or stay in the city and check out the Ten Spoon Vineyard and Winery to get your pick of the grapes, take a spin on the beautiful 20-year old carousel and get your thrills by skiing or kayaking through the mountains.
Yellowstone National Park
Spanning across Wyoming, Idaho and Montana, Yellowstone National Park is full of wondrous sights which will leave you stunned. Visit the Grand Prismatic Spring, whose algae leaves the water color stunningly bright, hike to Artists Point for breath-taking views of the waterfalls, and check out the deep geysers which regularly explode with boiling water.
If You Go
Although over planning your trip can take the fun out of it, make sure you have at least a few attractions in mind to avoid spending your holiday walking around aimlessly, searching for wifi so you can plan some events.
If an all in one trip isn’t for, Hayes & Jarvis have created a USA Road Trip Recommender which allows you to browse themed road trips and find which attractions suit you the most.