Happy Fourth of July everyone! Since it’s Independence Day, I thought I’d write a post about my home country.
I hear it all the time, “We’re going to the Grand Canyon, Vegas, and then Los Angeles.” Many first-time travelers to the United States follow the same circuits on the Western and Eastern sides of the country, trying to fit as many landmark stops into their itinerary as possible in a short time. But what if you’ve already been to these places?
On a trip to America, I always advise travelers to grant themselves plenty of time. This place is bigger than you think. When you return to visit, skip the landmarks and go where the locals like to explore.
If you’re a return visitor, pause a moment to take this quiz and find out how well you know the United States.
When you’re done, here some of my favorite places in America that need to be on you itinerary:
1. Swap Manhattan for Brooklyn
You may have already seen the Empire State Building, visited Times Square, and taken the train to Grand Central Station. What’s next? Venture to one of my favorite New York City boroughs: Brooklyn. In fact, Brooklyn covers far more land mass than Manhattan and covers some incredibly diverse neighborhoods for you to explore. Dive into Russian culture around Brighton Beach; find out what hipsters are actually like in Williamsburg; cafe hop in Park Slope to try your hand at spotting celebrities who live in the neighborhood.
2. Trade the Grand Canyon for Antelope Valley
While yes the famous canyon is the epitome of grandeur, drive a little farther and find an even more majestic destination that should be on everyone’s bucket list: Antelope Valley. Within Antelope Valley, the prime destination is Antelope Canyon, a golden-glowing Navajo Sandstone passageway formed by erosion. In addition to its natural beauty that lures photographers, this destination is also rich in Native American history. To wander farther off the path, make your way to Canyon de Chelly— one of the holiest sites of the Navajo reservation.
3. Skip Los Angeles, Go to Big Sur
Many travelers think that a trip to Los Angeles is necessary, even if they are not city people. I beg to differ as I’m more akin to stay in places on its outer reaches of the city like the beach town of Santa Barbara. If you are choosing to do the popular road trip along Highway 1 from LA to San Francisco, perhaps spend a day in the city to see a museum or two, or to visit Santa Monica, but save your time to play in one of my favorite places in California: Big Sur. Nestled between a verdant forest and the coast, many cliffside restaurants like Nepenthe for example, offer outstanding sunset views over wine and cheese. Choose to overnight in a quaint cabin before either taking to the beach or hiking trails.
4. Just Visit Texas
I can’t speak for other well-known cities like Dallas or Houston, but if you’re thinking about visiting the middle of America, go to Austin. This artsy pocket in the middle of a conservative state has one of the liveliest music scenes in America. Beyond Austin, the surrounding German Hill Country is famous for spring wildflowers between March and April. Fredericksburg within German Hill Country was settled by Germans in 1846 and as such maintains traditions like Oktoberfest. Some people here even speak German.
5. Journey to Puerto Rico and its Islands
Did you know you can get round-trip flights from New York City to Puerto Rico for around $200? And it’s only a three-hour flight away! An unincorporated territory of the United States, Puerto Rico can feel like another country entirely. Dance salsa, drink piña coladas, explore the jungle or surf the seas, this island has a bit of everything, including beautiful beaches and tropical heat. I love snacking on tostones, (fried savory plantains), kayaking bioluminescent bays at night, and visiting the satellite islands of Culebra and Vieques.
To read more about what exciting, off-the-beaten-path adventures away you in the Unites States, visit Travel Associates.