City Break: United States
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The United States is a country located in North America, between Mexico to the south and Canada to the north. The nation is both geographically and culturally diverse. It consists of 50 states, covers 3.8 million square miles and is home to over 328 million people. Millions of tourists visit the United States each year to see its National Parks and museums, and to enjoy the nightlife.
At 277 miles long, 18 miles wide and 1 mile deep the Grand Canyon in Arizona is a stunning sight. Tourists can walk to the bottom or ride on the back of a mule. Visitors can board a helicopter or small aircraft and fly from one side of the Canyon to the other to appreciate the sheer size of this natural wonder. The more adventurous can try rafting on the muddy brown Colorado River.
Located in Orlando, Florida, Walt Disney World is the most popular theme park in the world. The resort actually has four theme parks. The most popular is Magic Kingdom with its Disney themed rides and parades. Hollywood Studios has its stunt shows, stage shows and tours. Tourists can take a safari to see live animals in the Animal Kingdom or enjoy a rather wet ride down the Kali River rapids. Finally, Epcot educates its visitors on sea and space exploration and has 11 areas dedicated to a specific country.
Located in Washington D.C., the Smithsonian Museums consists of 19 galleries and museums and best of all, they are all totally free. There are approximately 156 million exhibits to see, ranging from a 3.5 billion old fossil to the module used by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to land on the moon. Start at the Information Center in the Smithsonian Institution Building, which will allow you to plan your visit.
Located, in the Black Hills in South Dakota, over two million visitors every year come to see the 60-foot representations of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln, carved into the granite mountainside. The visitor centre has a model of what the unfinished sculptures were supposed to look like.
Located in central California, Yosemite National Park receives over 4 million visitors a year. All tourists enjoy the views of Yosemite Valley, which includes the mountain El Capitan. The more active tourists will take a hiking trail to Glacier Point or Yosemite Falls. The more creative can join an art workshop or appreciate the diverse fauna and flora, including the ancient giant sequoias trees.
Located in downtown New York, the Four Seasons has all the facilities expected in a luxury hotel, including a restaurant, a lounge and a fitness centre.
Less than 400 metres from the T-Mobile Arena, the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino offers its visitors a pool, air conditioning and a flat screen tv in every room. Parking is available, but there is a fee.
This family friendly three-star hotel has free parking, an outdoor swimming pool and a hot tub. There is a restaurant on site and a store for all necessities.
Ideally located to visit Mount Rushmore, the Quality Inn has an indoor pool, a whirlpool and a restaurant that serves a complimentary breakfast.
Arguably the best time to visit is either in the spring from March to April or the autumn (known locally as fall) from September to October, where there are fewer tourists than in the summer months and the temperatures are pleasant.
The most popular destinations to fly to from the UK are Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco. The cheapest flights are about £250 return from London Heathrow or London Gatwick.
Each state has its own special dishes. In Alabama, tourists should try pulled pork in a white sauce at Saw’s BBQ in Birmingham. In Arizona, try a Sonoran hot dog, with bacon, tomatoes, onion and salsa. The shrimp taco at the Mariscos Jalisco in Los Angeles is recommended, as is the green chilli at Taco de Mexico in Denver. For dessert try a bananas foster in New Orleans, which consists of a flambéed banana, laced with liqueur. Alternatively, try a Boston cream pie (the official dessert of Massachusetts), which is a sponge cake made with creamy custard and chocolate.
The best place for nightlife in the United States is Las Vegas, where most hotels will put on their own entertainment and performers will come from around the world to amuse their audiences. New York City has the largest variety of nightlife options on the planet, including SoHo with its cocktail bars, Brooklyn with its beer gardens and Broadway with its musicals. New Orleans is the home of jazz, particularly in the clubs that line Frenchmen Street or in the French Quarter during Mardi Gras.
Temperatures vary greatly depending on the season and the state. T-shirts and shorts should be fine in the summer, although the weather can be harsher on the East Coast or the Pacific Northwest, particularly in the winter. Jeans are the most popular form of trousers (called pants by the locals), although not acceptable for smart occasions. Almost all hotels have a pool, so bring a swimsuit.
Accommodation in the most popular venues is expensive, especially in the summer, but fortunately, Voyage Prive offers up to 70% off on city breaks. Hiking in the National Parks is free, once you’ve got there, as are many of the museums.
Travel insurance is advisable whenever you go abroad but in the United States, it is essential, as healthcare is expensive. There is a tipping culture in America and forgetting to give your waiter a gratuity is considered rude, so expect to add an extra 15%-20% to your restaurant bill. Sales tax (or VAT in the UK) is added at the till, so expect to pay more than the displayed price.