United States of America
Eco-friendly travel guide to United States of America advises how to be a responsible tourist. Learn how to travel in a sustainable way and how to respect the local people and culture. Make your trip green by supporting locally owned hotels, organic restaurants and other businesses. Read more on how to protect the environment by making conscientious choices and how to travel green in United States of America, North America.
- Air quality: 4 / 5
- Bus connections: 3.8 / 5
- Train connections: 3.6 / 5
- Hitchhiking: 3.5 / 5
- National parks: 5 / 5
- Outdoor activities: 5 / 5
- Locals' English level: 5 / 5
- Safety: 4 / 5
- Accommodation: US$10 - $2,500
- Budget per day: US$100 - $3,000
- 1 Responsible Travel
- 2 Air Quality and Pollution
- 3 Respect the Culture
- 4 Top 10 Places to Visit
- 5 Explore
- 6 Eat
- 7 Drink
- 8 Activities
- 9 Accommodation
- 10 Regions
- 11 Cities
- 12 Getting There and Moving Around
- 13 Sustainable Shopping
- 14 Recycling
- 15 Work and Study Abroad
- 16 See Also
Encompassing a large portion of the North American continent from top of the mountains to the ocean shores and sea to sea, the United States of America (USA) is undoubtedly one of the biggest countries in the world, and at least, even if it's just once in one's life, a trip to this beautiful county is highly recommended. USA does encapsulate all the experiences that make an overseas trip an unforgettable adventure as it offers many concrete jungles to explore, a vast collection of iconic attractions, diverse landscapes on earth, and it boasts some of the most picturesque places you'll eventually found.
Travelers from different parts of the world are attracted to this country because of the countless treasures it hosts and being a hot spot for international tourists, it has some of the highest budget and high-quality entertainment. The United States leads the world into the world of tomorrow, it's got a rich history that dates back well over 200 years, and without mincing words, there's truly no place like the USA; speaking of its beautiful and diverse landscapes, friendly people, iconic cities, several places to explore, landmarks to see, and lots more.
A trip to the USA will definitely send some chill down your spine, and while this could be fascinatingly intriguing, be informed that this city has its culture, customs, and being an eco-friendly traveler in this state, you may want to arm yourself with these few tips to help you travel responsibly;
- There are states and regions. The West, Midwest, Northwest, and South are some of the regions in the country, and there are also fifty 50 states in the country. Speaking of the regions in the country, they all have their distinctive peculiarities and geographical characteristics. For example, stretching lakes, grassy plains, and large forests are some of what the Midwest is known for while the Northeast is characterized by rocky coastlines and mountain ranges.
- There’s a tipping culture. Know this and you'll know peace. Sounds funny right? Well, if you don't want to be considered rude, it's expected of you to tip in certain places when you're in this country. Your waiter especially will be expectant of it. Whenever you've received good service be it in a taxi, a bar, or a restaurant, do not forget to tip because it's very important. For this, you can have your phone calculator nearby if your math is a bit dusty because leaving a 15% to 20% tip to compensate is the deal in this country and this is due to the fact that the minimum wage is low. Tipping is more like a way to support and encourage these people working and whether their service was super good or not so comforting, you'll be doing a great good by tipping.
- Get ready to pay more than what’s displayed. The price isn’t always what it seems in the United States and you have to be conscious of this whenever you want to purchase goods or services. Thus, you should expect the cashier to require a slightly higher price when you arrive at the counter to pay. Why is this so? Good. Most of the prices displayed often do not include sales tax and by the time you're making your purchase, you'll realize that the price has gone higher than it was. To be safe, you should look forward to a minimum of 10% addition to the total cost but take note that tax varies from state to state but there are still a few states in the country with no sales tax.
- Be careful where you wander in cities. There are some suburbs and areas that you should avoid at all cost and this is not only peculiar to the USA alone, it's almost in all cities and countries. As a matter of fact, it could be just a block that differs a friendly and dangerous neighborhood. Wherever you are; whether in San Francisco, San Diego, New York City, or elsewhere, know where not to wander, gain some local wisdom on where you can take a walk both at daytime and nighttime, assess your situation regularly, make efforts to be aware of your surroundings at all times, and put safety measures into cognizance.
- Have a health or travel insurance. It's very possible that you might develop some illnesses during your visit to the US and this is why it's crucial that you get travel insurance because visiting without health or travel insurance can open up the door of regrets for you considering the extremely expensive health services in this country. While on your journey, keeping a printed version of your investment in travel insurance is pretty ideal and safe.
- Getting around the USA. Thankfully, there are lots of options to explore to get around the country. If you're embarking on a multi-destination trip in the country, moving around could appear a bit daunting because the cities in this country tend to be very far from one another but not to worry, there are viable options to help you transit easily if you don't have a rented car. Although you should expect a lot of stops in-between, the bus is a cost-effective option to move from one city to another. Megabus and Greyhound are some of the long-distance bus operators serving the country and you can as well use Amtrak which is the national train operator.
- Explore the local options and try different seafood in each region. There's fresh salmon in the northwest, shrimp or fish tacos in California, crawfish boil and gumbo in Louisiana, conch fritters in Key West, gulf shrimp and grits in Florida, and Lobster and clam chowder in New England. You can even boil up some corn on the cob after having purchased some fresh sweet corn at a roadside stand to go with it. There are loads of local options to explore in this county and sticking to chain restaurants isn't a good way to support the country's local scene. You can even buy freshly caught salmon and halibut and some other amazing seafood directly from the local fishermen or at the coastline at a decent price in Alaska.
- Take the time to explore the national parks. Zion National Park, Yosemite National Park, The Grand Canyon National Park, and Yellow Stone National Park are some of the most beautiful national parks in the country and they're worth your time. Some of these parks hold a collection of records and they offer a natural playground to suit any adventurers needs from bottomless valleys and red desserts to sky-scraping mountains and lush forestry. The United States does boast a very impressive range of national parks that are worth every travelers time.
- Wildlife tips. Never invade wildlife space because they do belong to the wildlife. So, don’t feed the animals, don’t litter, stay on the path, and do well to follow all the stated rules. Wildlife opportunities in the United States can't be underestimated because they're pretty rife. For example, lynx, wolves, caribou, brown bears, and black bears are some of the amazing wildlife you'll find at places like Alaska or Yellowstone National Park.
- Be health-conscious. Health is wealth and only a healthy person can travel around. Most importantly, getting insured is very paramount because a helicopter rescue costs £25,000 upwards if you injure yourself in a remote spot in the Grand Canyon and taking out comprehensive travel insurance when traveling to this country is very pertinent. You can Dial 911 in an emergency. Have hydration backpack so you have water on you at all times when you're in the desert regions of the west and southwest because they can become very arid. Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink and you should beware of signs of heat exhaustion such as cool, clammy skin, stomach cramps, pale appearance, headaches, fatigue, vomiting, and nausea when you're on a hiking or cycling holiday in hot areas of the country. For this, you can carry a spray bottle to cool yourself down and even wet your bandana, shirt, or hat if enough water is available. Eat, drink, and find a shade to relax a bit when any of these symptoms occur. More so, no matter how clean a river may look, don't drink from it because it can be very nasty. In sand dunes, the sides of roads, and on walking trails, you should watch out for poison ivy in most states. Ticks are a feature of some regions too.
Air Quality and Pollution
Although the United States may not have a very clean air compared to that of New Zealand or Australia, the country's air quality remains to be one of the best in the world. Speaking of the overall air quality, the US ranks 10th amidst 180 countries around the world on a particular Environmental Performance Index. It's pretty interesting to know that the air in this country is cleaner than it used to be, but it doesn't negate the fact that there's still work to do because there's higher particle pollution created by more frequent wildfires which are fostered by factors like changing rain patterns and higher temperatures bringing about increased ozone levels.
In many cities in the United States, escalating weather conditions are exacerbating pollution, and states like California, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, Georgia, Indiana, and Utah are renowned to be the most polluted states in the country. When it comes to pollution in the US, California is “king” — Los Angeles ranks as the worst for ozone pollution in the nation, Bakersfield also ranks as the worst for short-term particle pollution, the Fresno-Madera area merits being the most polluted in the country, and for year-round particle pollution in the country, six top Californian cities made it to the top 10 most polluted cities. Looking on the brighter side, Hawaii has the cleanest average air in the U.S. with an air quality index of 21.2, and the American Lung Association has consistently ranked Honolulu as one of the country's top six cleanest cities.
Respect the Culture
The United States is a beautiful place to be and when it comes to culture and customs in this country, understand that customs vary from region to region and family to family, and one of the things that makes this country an interesting place is that there is no such thing as the typical American. Looking at the wide variety of traditions, values, and beliefs in the country culminating from the plenty of people from diverse backgrounds and cultures, it's obviously unpretentious that the U.S. is a melting pot and one who must respect culture in this country must be open-minded.
The locals in this country are renowned for their warm reception (although not everyone will be nice) but in the course of your visit, you can get invited to a block party in the middle of the street in New York City, a barbecue competition in a park in Texas, or a cookout in California, or grilling on the beach. Your host community has series of traditions for you to taste from and while this is certain, as you move around to have a slice of the country's distinct cultural differences, here are a few ways to be polite and exercise good manners;
- Say “please.” Americans will think you are rude if you asked for something and didn’t say “please”. And, you can say, “I will have the soup, please” if you're ordering food at a restaurant.
- Say “thank you.” Do not forget to say “thank you” to anyone who is helping or trying to help you. Even for small gestures, it's common to say “thank you” or “thanks” in the United States.
- Say “sorry.” When you bump into someone, don't be stingy with the word “sorry.” And, Americans also tend to use this word to express sadness for something that happened to someone.
- Cover your mouth when your burp or cough. Making bodily noises in front of other people carelessly is considered impolite.
- Don’t shake hands if you don’t feel comfortable. A polite way to show you don’t want to shake hands is by putting your hands together and leaning your head forward.
- When you are talking to someone new, stand at least a foot away. You may be misinterpreted to be aggressive when you stand very close to someone when you are speaking. Most people will stand about 1 foot apart from each other and Americans tend to want more personal space around them.
- Look people in the eye when you are talking to them. You may be misinterpreted to be dubious, secretive, or cunning when you're avoiding eye contact while talking to someone. Americans tend to look people in the eyes when they're talking.
- Stand in line. Americans expect to wait their turn and they line up one by one. You're like to see a line when you're out trying to buy a movie ticket or at the store. Waiting for one's turn in a line is something most Americans are taught from a young age.
- Hold the door open for other people. It is polite to hold the door for the person behind you; whether you are a man or a woman.
- Most importantly, tip. Whenever you've received good service be it in a taxi, a bar, or a restaurant, do not forget to tip. You should leave a 15% to 20% tip to compensate.
Top 10 Places to Visit
Whether you're headed to America for the first time or you’re a resident looking for something new to experience, you'll find the United States to be an endlessly fascinating place to discover. Boasting multicultural, global cities like New York City and Chicago, the United States attracts millions of visitors each year. In this beautiful, big country, you can never be stuck for outdoor pursuits for you'll find everything from forests and mountains to the desert landscape of the Grand Canyon and the tropical islands of Hawaii.
There's an unbelievably diverse array of cultures, people, cityscapes, and landscapes you'll be treated to in this vast country which occupies an area that’s only just marginally smaller than Europe. Comprised of 50 states, the USA is a bastion of free thought, modern-day pop culture, a land built on immigration and pioneering, and the cultural force of the modern era. Above all, it's home to countless lovely attractions you should create time to see but take note that your interests may be what determine the best places you would love to visit in the United States.
- Walt Disney World in Orlando: It's home to two water parks, four theme parks, 27 themed hotels, and it's part of Walt Disney World Resort. It's situated close to Orlando, Florida, and it opened in 1971. It's renowned to be the most visited vacation resort in the world. From special events and tours to live shows and rides, there's plenty of family-friendly entertainment offered at each park here. Once you arrive, make sure you don't miss Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and the Magic Kingdom.
- The Statue of Liberty in New York City: Weighing approximately 450,000 pounds and standing just under 152 feet tall from the base to the torch, it's one of the largest statues in the world, and it's as well one of the greatest American icons. It remains a famous world symbol of freedom as it was built in the year 1886 as France's gift to the United States. You can as well stop at Ellis Island and explore the Immigration Museum if you're on a tour of the Statue of Liberty.
- The White House in Washington DC: There are free self-guided tours from Tuesday through Thursday offered here that you can take advantage of and this property is owned by the National Park Service. It includes the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, a West Wing and East Wing, and an Executive Residence. It has been the official residence of every US president and it started with President John Adams in 1800. Nevertheless, take note that you must contact your country’s embassy in Washington, DC, if you're from another country and you wish to visit the White House.
- Alcatraz Island in San Francisco: If you'll be coming here, it's strongly advised that you book in advance because it tends to sell out regularly. A guided tour is the best option here and you should not forget to put Alcatraz on your must-see list even if it's just one day you have to explore the city. Alcatraz Island is one of the most famous attractions in San Francisco and it's now a prominent area for nesting seabirds. Some people do come here to enjoy the novelty of seeing a former prison and some are only captivated by its history. It was a former prison that housed most well-known criminals and before it reopened as a tourist attraction in 1973 after it was closed in 1963, it operated for almost thirty years as a historic and notorious penitentiary.
- Disneyland in Los Angeles: Repleted with fairytale characters that are universally known, a magical land, and princess castles, this venue is the sister park to California Adventure. Disneyland is an obvious and popular choice for locals and visitors alike and you can come here whenever you want by paying only $30 per month if you purchase a season pass, but this is actually for those who live nearby. Southern California residents, however, get to enjoy discounted tickets offered by some of the organizations around.
- Times Square in New York City: Times Square has its unique appeal even though it can get busy and perpetually crowded. The atmosphere here is often bustling and intriguing, especially during New Year's Eve Celebrations. It's famous to be a prime spot and "ball drop" at midnight. Come here any time of the day and you'll love the vibe. Times Square was named in 1904 after the New York Times tower, it was formerly Longacre Square, and it's a place to go in New York in the evening as it's adorned with huge, brilliantly lit billboards and screens.
- The Strip in Las Vegas: The Strip is a popular destination for adult travelers and its 4.2 miles (6.7km) stretch is lined with casinos, hotels, and resorts. The Las Vegas Strip is considered a top spot to visit in Nevada and the United States at large. If you're in Vegas, it's recommended to stay on the Strip, preferably at one of the major resorts, if it's in your interest to truly experience Las Vegas better. It runs from the Mandalay Bay Hotel to Treasure Island Hotel, generally, and it's a place where people love to come to take in the sights and walk along. The Strip is particularly impressive at night and it's teeming with features like fine dining, luxury hotel rooms, performance venues, defining theme, and it's as well lined with huge entertainment palaces. Las Vegas Strip runs through the city from northeast to southwest.
- French Quarter in New Orleans: It's home to several fascinating locations, galleries, shops, nightlife, excitement, food, and it has a mix of just about everything. It was first built on the Mississippi River banks three centuries ago, it's essentially the heart of the city, and it's also known as Vieux Carré. It's the oldest and the most famous neighborhood in New Orleans. It's rich in history and if you’re a tourist in this Louisiana city, it's one of the most fun and enticing places you can visit. The French Quarter in downtown New Orleans is worth exploring and experiencing.
- The Brooklyn Bridge in New York City: Taking an hour and walking across the Brooklyn Bridge is the best way to experience this icon and you can as well see it from many of the ferries. It was the first steel suspension bridge in the world, it was completed in 1883, spanning the East River from Manhattan to Brooklyn. This historic bridge has been a source of inspiration to painters, songwriters, poets, and it's one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city with its suspension cables and Gothic-shaped arches.
- Waikiki Beach in Honolulu: There are tons of shops, beach bars, restaurants, and luxury hotels you'll find across this beach. It's situated on the south shore of the island next to the iconic Diamond Head and this two-mile-long sandy beach on the island of Oahu is one of the most famous beaches in the world. This beach is often busy because it's a popular spot for swimming, snorkeling, and surfing. A secluded spot where kids can swim in safety on the west end of the beach is the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon. One can as well enjoy throwing a ball with friends, picnics, and jogging at the beautiful, spacious Kapiolani Park which is just before Diamond Head.
The United States of America offers visitors a broad spectrum of places to choose from with its several world-class cities that are known for glamour, fun, or history. When it comes to planning a trip in the United States and exploring, knowing where to start can be so difficult because there's just so much to see in this vast country, and all over the country, there are stunning destinations for any type of traveler.
The tropical Hawaiian Islands and the beaches of Waikiki lie beyond the mainland; the Grand Canyon shows off one of nature's greatest creations and Las Vegas brings the desert to life in the Southwest; and some of the hot spots for tourists include Los Angeles and San Francisco which are along the West Coast. Offering two uniquely different city experiences, New York and Washington, D.C. which are along the Eastern Seaboard also add to the beauty of this country. The list goes and on but it gets better and clearer with these;
- New York City — You can take in a Broadway show in the evening and sightsee by day. There's the Statue of Liberty, Broadway, 5th Avenue, Times Square, Central Park, the Chrysler Building, Rockefeller Plaza, the Empire State Building, and a series of famous sites at every turn with walking the streets being like walking through a movie set.
- San Francisco — You can hop on a streetcar to explore the city sites, wander around Fisherman's Wharf, drive over the Golden Gate Bridge, tour Alcatraz, or take a cruise on San Francisco Bay.
- Houston — Known for its extraordinary cuisine, it's developed into a hot spot for dining in the country, and it's a place where you can spend your evenings enjoying incredible meals, lounge by a pool at one of the many luxury hotels, wander through Houston's Museum District, or easily fly in to see a sports game.
- Waikiki — It's one of America's top beaching destinations.
- Washington, D.C. — From the Smithsonian museums and the Capitol Building to the White House, it houses some of the country's most famous sites and national treasures.
- Miami — A fine place to enjoy the summertime beach scene of South Beach.
City parks in the United States of America offer quaint tearooms, sports opportunities, a mix of festivals, a touch of unique flair, beautiful landscapes, and charming ambiance. If you seek to escape or take a break from the hustle and bustle of the big city that surrounds it, these parks give you the opportunity to enjoy a peaceful afternoon away, and they're the perfect way to relax! From tucking into a BBQ amongst the trees and dining on a picnic with friends to strolling and cycling in the sunshine, these are some of the best parks you'll find around in the country.
- Central Park in New York City: New York is a beautiful and livable city - thanks to this half-mile wide and 2.5 miles long huge park in the city center. It's almost impossible to talk about the best city parks in the U.S without mentioning Central Park. It truly lives up to the hype it gets and it's one of the world's most famous parks. One of the must-dos on anyone's New York City itinerary is walking, peddling, or carriage riding through Central Park's crisscrossing pathways. And, the fun never stops here even during the winter. Central Park has many attractions within its borders of which it costs little or nothing to access most of them; they include - the Lake, the Central Park Zoo, Strawberry Fields, and the Belvedere Castle.
- Boston Common in Boston: It's one of the top 10 destinations in Boston and it offers something for all to do anytime whenever. You can enjoy sledding on the hills or ice skating on the pond if you visit in the winter, watch the leaves change and crunch underfoot if you visit in the fall, and work up a sweat on the tennis courts and baseball fields if you visit in the summer. Offering all kinds of events and activities for all, it's a large, well-tended recreational area that is equivalent of Central Park or the Golden Gate Park, and it's one of the country's oldest public parks.
- Golden Gate Park in San Francisco: This is one of the places you'll love to visit as an eco-friendly traveler in the United States because of its diligent commitment to eco-friendly practices which has fetch it praises from different parts of the country. This park houses attractions like the California Academy of Sciences, the Japanese Tea Garden, the Conservatory of Flowers, and many more. It's a good place to isolate yourself from the stress of the city and its multicolored houses, tram tracks, and high-rises. It offers a green getaway and it covers over 1,000 acres of Northern California landscape.
- Fairmount Park in Philadelphia: it creates a perfect environment for an escape from city life. It has playgrounds for kids, swimming pools, and barn stables. It hosts a plethora of activities and it's one of the largest urban park systems in the United States of America. Aside from this, it's also the largest green space in Philadelphia with 9200 acres. Fairmount is a system of 63 different parks and there are outdoor concerts, off-road cycling, and deep-woods hiking to be enjoyed here. There are indoor activities hosted at Lloyd Hall and students and locals are taught about nature at the wildlife refuge area and the three environmental centers.
- Balboa Park in San Diego: It's home to a natural history museum, Miniature Train, Carousel, Pepper Grove Playground, EthnoBotany Children’s Peace Garden, Alaska Airlines Flight Path Grill, Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater, Japanese Friendship Garden, Museum of Man, Youth Performance Groups, and Model Railroad Museum. There are plenty of creative and recreational attractions amidst the trails, lovely gardens, and multiple performing arts venues that decorate here. It's home to the world-famous San Diego Zoo and it has over 1200-acres of parkland.
- City Park in New Orleans: The 36-hole City Putt and the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park are some of the many great places within the park grounds you shouldn't forget to check out. This land received some care and proper scaping in the 1850s and back then, it used to be known by the apt name Dueling Oaks as it was a place where people come to settle similar disputes and disagreements. It's a great place to have a little fun, go site seeing, and unwind. It's the sixth-largest of an urban variety, it's one of the biggest parks in the United States of America, and it's situated in downtown New Orleans.
- Dolores Park in San Francisco: Come here to soak up the atmosphere but it's quite important that you get here as early as you can so that you can secure your spot for it can get very busy on warmer days. Whether you just love admiring the view, roller skating, or sunbathing, you'll like it here, and there are several people you'll meet here as well praying that the clouds don’t return as they're playing and stretched out on the lawn picnicking. It's a wide grassy expanse that covers 16 acres of San Francisco and it's also referred to as Mission Dolores Park.
The national parks in the United States of America are diverse and varied, and they're just the place for you whether you seek interesting wildlife, outdoor adventure, unique geological formations, or beautiful scenery.
- Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona: From learning about Native American culture and history to taking in the views on a scenic car or train ride, rafting down the Colorado River, and hiking along the canyon’s walls, there are lots of things visitors can enjoy doing here. It's regarded to be the second most-visited national park in the country, it offers a very breathtaking sight, and it's often referred to as one of the world’s natural wonders. This massive, colorful geological wonder has been a national park since 1919, it's also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it's an awe-inspiring desert stunner.
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee & North Carolina: It's a family-friendly attraction that anyone can enjoy as it offers places to enjoy a picnic, fishing spots, waterfalls, hiking trails, and breathtaking views. It's regarded to be the most visited national park in the country and it's sometimes referred to as just the Smokies. Creating a natural masterpiece like no other as it contains more than 1,600 species of vegetation blanket, it boasts more than 500,000 acres of dense forests, and it straddles two states; Tennessee and North Carolina. It was declared a national park in 1934 and it houses some of the oldest mountains in the world. From watching and exploring waterfalls to hiking and wildlife watching, there are many activities for adventurers to enjoy.
- Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado: The diverse plant life and wildlife, lakes, forests, and wildflowers provide unique scenery and this national park is stunningly attractive with its montane, alpine and subalpine ecosystems. Covering over 250,000 acres, it was established in 1915, it's truly majestic, and it has some of the highest mountains in the nation. Taking scenic drives or getting out in nature and hiking is the best way to explore this Colorado area. From moose to mountain lions and sheep to big-horn; mammals and birds to reptiles and butterflies, the mountains are home to everything indeed.
- Yosemite National Park in California: Swimming in one of the area’s bodies of water and hiking one of the many trails are some of the must-do activities here. The Two impressive Yosemite landmarks; Half Dome and El Capitan, are also must-see attractions here. If luck works for you, you might catch a view of some of the resident bats, pikas, mountain lions, and black bears. Featuring giant sequoias, lush meadows, valleys, and imposing granite cliffs, it's renowned for its waterfalls. Made up of almost 750,000 acres, it's a beautiful treasure in California, and it recently celebrated its 125th anniversary of it being made a national park.
- Acadia National Park in Maine: It has carriage roads that are aptly suitable for taking in the scenic beauty and strolling and it features miles of hiking trails. It's a photographer and outdoor enthusiast’s paradise and boasts a rugged coastline and 47,000 acres of flora and fauna, mountains, lakes, and verdant forests. It's the first national park east of the Mississippi River. It's a stunning area located in Maine and it was declared a national park in 1919.
- Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio: Offering interesting walks along the Towpath Trail with hours of activities and brimming with picturesque scenery, the park also features the Brandywine Falls which are a must-visit. From the stunning waterfalls to the rich foliage of the fall season to the colorful display of wildflowers in the spring, this park's beauty is just as powerful, and it became a national park in 2000. Its open farmlands are still in use and it features rolling hills, gorgeous forests, and a wide variety of landscapes. It's not far from Cleveland and Akron in Ohio.
- Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming: From hiking to boating and everything in between, it offers a plethora of outdoor activities. With its various flora and an incredible array of wildlife which ranges from elk and bison to wolves and grizzly bears, it has diverse scenery. Featuring an incredible landscape which includes mountains, forests, canyons, waterfalls, and alpine lakes in its over two million acres, it's also home to the largest group of geysers in the world. It's spread across the states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. It was established in 1872 and it's the first national park in the country.
- Glacier National Park in Montana: The area is home to mountain goats, wolves, grizzly bears, and elk. Once you're here, you should be on the lookout for gorgeous wildlife. There is something for every explorer; from historic chalets and lodges to biking and hiking the over 700 miles of trails. Offering endless recreational opportunities, it's an outdoor lover’s haven with numerous types of trees and other vegetation, glacier-carved valleys, alpine meadows, lakes, and majestic peaks on its over one million acres of protected land. It's a breathtaking area in northwest Montana and it was declared a national park in 1910.
You're sure to find what you're looking for whether you're an adventure seeker or a beach bum because this country has every kind of beach imaginable with the incredible variety it offers. From the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean, there are beaches spread out over these four coasts and over 30 states in the country, and when it comes to total coastline area, the U.S is one of the top ten countries in the world.
- 'Clearwater Beach, Florida: It has outdoor showers available for public use, drinking fountains, and along the beach, you'll find several restaurants and shops. With live music and street vendors, there's a nightly sunset celebration on the pier and the annual Clearwater Jazz Festival is one of its many event highlights. This beach is a regular hub of activity and in the waters of the Gulf, dolphin sightings are fairly common. Boat tours, parasailing, and sunbathing are some of the popular activities here. Famed for its beautiful blue waters and pristine white sands, it's situated in the sunny Gulf of Mexico.
- Coronado Beach, San Diego, California: Scuba diving is prohibited but throughout all four areas, fire rings are scattered everywhere. You'll also find volleyball courts, grassy areas, picnic tables, and playgrounds at the Tidelands Park and Glorietta Bay Park here. The wide, flat sandy areas are perfect for relaxing strolls and the beaches here are indeed apt for bodyboarding, swimming, and skimboarding because of their gentle waves. This beach actually has four different areas; Centennial Park, Glorietta Bay Park, Tidelands Park, and Coronado City Beach.
- Hanakapiai Beach, Kauai, Hawaii: Due to strong currents and riptides, swimming is strongly discouraged. Here, you can continue to the beautiful Hanakapiai Falls or relax and enjoy the view. To secure a parking spot, it's best to arrive at this beach as early as possible. Hanakapiai Beach on Kauai is accessible only by foot and it's tucked away on the Napali Coast.
- Huntington State Beach, California: Even when lifeguards are on duty, swimmers are advised to use caution because the currents here can be dangerous. Surf fishing is permitted with a valid license. A paved beachside trail, washrooms, and fire rings are some of the amenities you'll find here plus the beach also features basketball courts and volleyball at its large, sandy beach. With its great waves, it takes pride in being a premier spot for surfing and swimming, and it hosts the annual U.S. Open of Surfing. It's been a California state beach since 1963 and it's also known as “Surf City USA.”
- El Matador State Beach, Malibu: Lifeguards are often available during busy weekends in the summer but there's no lifeguard tower on the beach. Pay parking is available when the beach is open from 8 am to sunset. It's a great destination for year-round body surfing and bodyboarding due to its large waves. There's plenty of room on the sand for sunbathers and the beach is quite long.
There are lots of amazing landmarks spread throughout the country;
- Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco: Measuring approximately two miles in length, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world as at the time of its completion, and the bridge took four years to be built. It was opened on May 28th, 1937 and it used to be one of the greatest man-made sights in the United States. It connects SF with Marin County and other districts further north and its flood-lit structure is equally striking at night. It is the most photographed site in the city and it's an icon gracing San Francisco Bay.
- Space Needle in Seattle: You'll be entertained by the performing arts venues, theaters, museums, restaurants, and lots more at the Seattle Center here which is a must-do on its own. When you descend from the observation deck, you'll find more to see. It's a very unique sight and when you ascend, bridges in the middle of lush greenery and metalwork of industrial buildings are some of the pleasant views you'll catch for it overlooks downtown Seattle with a 360° panorama. Offering breathtaking views of islands, rivers, and mountains, it was originally built for the 1962 World’s Fair. It's Seattle's most popular tourist attraction and it towers more than 600 feet above the city.
- Independence Hall in Philadelphia: Some of the most influential figures in the history of the country conducted business right at this place and it has been one of the finest parts of Philly from its inception to today. This wonderful historic site is a place you can see some old folks of yours and if you consider yourself to be a patriot of the United States, you should take a trip to this place. Both the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were signed at the Assembly Room here and you can see where literal history was made as you tour this Philly wonder. It's one of the most significant places in American history and it's a well-loved place for history buffs.
- Pearl Harbor in Honolulu: The indoor and outdoor exhibits help you get a glimpse of life on the Pacific Submarine Museum and on a WWII submarine as you'll be taken to important sites like the USS Bowfin, the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, the USS Arizona Memorial, the site where the Japanese surrendered, and the battleship the USS Missouri when you indulge in one of its organized tours. Doubling as an active military base and a National Historic Landmark, a visit to Pearl Harbor can evoke so much emotion as there are lots of things to see and there's as well a documentary on the history of Pearl Harbor.
- The Statue of Liberty in New York City: It's one of the largest statues in the world, and it's as well one of the greatest American icons. It remains a famous world symbol of freedom as it was built in the year 1886 as France's gift to the United States.
There are more than 35,000 museums in the United States and here are some of the finest ones;
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City: It's popularly called the Met and the highlights of its collection include photographs, musical instruments, Egyptian art, costumes, American arms and armor, decorative arts, and plenty others. It has three sites and the centerpiece is The Met Fifth Avenue. There are over two million works of art spanning 5,000 years contained in its permanent collection and this museum is one of the country's most famous. It was founded in the year 1870.
- The Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago: Popular for its collection of impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings which include numerous paintings by Claude Monet and Renoir's 1879 Acrobats at the Cirque Fernando, this institute has pieces from a variety of architectural drawings, textiles, decorative arts, sculpture, photography, prints, painting, and more which span thousands of years. There are hundreds of thousands of artworks at this world-class museum.
- 'The Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit: This museum is an incredible place because of its many kinds of different cultural influences and there are many nice temporary exhibitions that will catch your delight here. It boasts great pieces from different parts of the globe to include Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas. It’s a vast reservoir of culture in one of the most important cities in Michigan. It's one of the best art museums in the United States of America.
- New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) in New Orleans: Recent works from Carlos Rolón, Bob Dylan, and others are on display here and there are exhibits of ceramics from Japan, an Americas collection, and an impressive collection of African American art you'll find here. There are over 40,000 artworks on display; from the present-day contemporary works back to the period of the Italian Renaissance. NOMA boasts huge collections of art and it first began its journey in 1912. It shows off some of the truly beautiful and historically rich art and it's situated in City Park.
- American Museum of Natural History in New York City: Just as its motto preaches, this museum is a place to garner knowledge about the universe, the natural world, and human cultures as it charges itself with the responsibility of disseminating, interpretation, and discovery through education and scientific research. The American Museum of Natural History was helped to be founded by Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. in 1869 and you have a lot to "uncover" here.
- Cleveland Museum of Art in Cleveland: As you watch art evolve over the centuries, you'll be opportune to witness the true majesty of famed and brilliant artists with the stunning exhibits that are arranged neatly in a chronological fashion. Some of the works here date back to 6,000 years prior and there's a collection of close to 45,000 works of art here. Boasting a classic and elegant Gregorian marble structure, this museum receives over half a million tourists from all across the world and it's an extremely famous place to visit in Ohio. It was officially opened in 1916 and was first built in 1913.
If you're craving delicious American food items, there's an endless culinary creativity you probably can't finish exploring in this country because the states in this country have their respective unique dishes. From the deep-fried favorite in Arizona and Alaskan seafood to the Alabama barbecue, iconic local flavors run seamlessly in different corners of the country.
When most people think of “American cuisine”, what tends to come to their mind is classics such as pancakes, hot dogs, fried chicken, and burgers but it's also worthy to point out that the Caribbean, French, Dutch, Italian, British, and German cultures do have their influence and contribution to the typical American food you'll find in the country today.
With several unique bites available in different parts, cities, states, and regions of the country, these are some of the top traditional American dishes you should definitely try out.
- Buffalo Chicken Wings
- Tater Tots
- Hot Dogs
- Apple Pie
- Barbecue Ribs
- Reuben Sandwich
- Biscuits and Gravy
When it comes to drinks in the United States, there's more this country has to offer beyond the regular Coffee, Iced Tea, Budweiser, and Pepsi. There are some original drinks made in the USA such as Bacon Soda, Jelly Belly Soda, Kool-Aid, Eggnog, and Root Beer.
Beyond this, there are also countless notable regional alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages spread throughout the country such as Ale-8-One in Kentucky, Apple Beer in Utah, Birch Beer in the Northeastern United States, Green Chile Lemonade in New Mexico, Grapico in Alabama, Faygo in South Central United States, Mid-Atlantic United States, Midwestern United States, and Michigan; Egg Cream in New York City, and several others.
More so, you'll find traditional drinks in the country which include; Sazerac, Pisco Sour, Manhattan, Mint Julep, Gin Fizz, Sidecar, Blue Blazer, Negroni, and Pimm’s cup.
Generally speaking, the tap water in the United States of America is safe to drink, it's healthy, and of high international standard. Most tap water quality provided by the country's local municipalities is topnotch but there seems to be a few challenges in rural areas and houses with private wells.
Nevertheless, even though the tap water quality in the United States is generally satisfactory with a report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) affirming that 85% of the U.S population is satisfied with the country's tap water quality, there are still a few states in the United States including Pennsylvania, Texas, Florida, California, Ohio, New Jersey, Arizona, Georgia, and Washington whose tap water isn't so much pleasing.
Be that as it may, you shouldn't be discouraged to drink from tap water in public places in the United States because tap water is safe to drink in most parts of the country and cities like Lousiville, (Kentucky), Oklahoma City, Silverdale (Washington), Fort Collins and Denver in Colorado, Chicago, and New York City have the cleanest drinking water in the country.
If you love the outdoors, you'll be glad to be in a place like the United States of America where options to get outdoors are as rife as they can be. With plenty of things to see and do, making your choice(s) can be so difficult. Boasting some of the most stunning and dramatic landscapes in the world, you can find anything you're looking for in the USA; whether you would love to fish and snorkel in the deep blue sea, bike along winding mountain trails, or enjoy hiking. With several active communities, stunning natural beauty, and plentiful outdoor adventures, there's no shortage of things to do outside in the U.S.
According to Moving.com, the top most outdoorsy Cities in the U.S. are;
- Boulder, CO — Enjoy fly fishing in Boulder Creek, rock climb at Eldorado Canyon, bike through the Chautauqua park.
- Brevard, NC — Cycle along the Blue Ridge Parkway, hike waterfalls in the Pisgah National Forest, and kayak on the French Broad River.
- Charleston, SC — Surf on Folly Beach, sail in the scenic Charleston Harbor, and sightsee around the Charleston historic district.
- Grand Rapids, MI — Bike the Kent Trails, swim in nearby Lake Michigan, and explore the Blandford Nature Center by foot.
- Honolulu, HI — Surf at Waikiki Beach, take a whale-watching excursion, and enjoy snorkeling at Hanauma Bay.
- Juneau, AK — Fish at Tongass National Forest, Explore Mendenhall Glacier, and flightsee on a helicopter or floatplane.
- Newport, RI — Picnic at Fort Adams State Park, Spend the day at Newport Vineyards, and Hike the beautiful Cliff Walk.
- Portland, ME — Bike the Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse Loop, Take a day trip to the Casco Bay Islands, and stroll the streets and shops of Old Port.
- Salt Lake City, UT — Hike to the Fifth Water Hot Springs, jog in Liberty Park, and ski at the Alta Ski Area.
- San Diego, CA — Sunbath at La Jolla Beach, paraglide at the Torrey Pines Gliderport, and explore the many attractions in Balboa Park.
- San Francisco, CA — Hike along the trails at Fort Funston, surf on Ocean Beach, and bike the Golden Gate Bridge.
- Scottsdale, AZ — Stroll the Desert Botanical Garden, hike in Pinnacle Peak Park, and play golf at TPC Scottsdale.
- Seattle, WA — Walk through the scenic Discovery Park, hike the Mount Si trail, bicycle the Burke-Gilman Trail.
- Petersburg, FL — Explore the Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, bike the Pinellas Trai, and boat in Tampa Bay.
- Stowe, VT — Hike through Smugglers’ Notch State Park, bike along the Stowe Recreation Path, and enjoy skiing on Mt. Mansfield.
Here are some other great things you can do outdoors in the United States of America;
- Walk the Freedom Trail in Boston
- Catch a Broadway Show in New York City
- Drive Cape Cod to Provincetown in the summer
- Eat Buffalo wings in Buffalo
- Bike the National Mall in DC
- Feel the mist of Niagara Falls
- Peep the fall foliage in New England
- See a show at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville
- Drive from Miami to Key West
- Visit the Alamo in San Antonio
- Watch NASCAR at Talladega
- Tailgate at the Grove at Ole Miss
- Stroll the French Quarter in New Orleans
- Spend a day in St. Augustine
- Catch a game at Wrigley Field
- Canoe the Boundary Waters in Minnesota
- Rock out at Summerfest in Wisconsin
- Ride the Millennium Force at Cedar Point
- See a Michigan game at the Big House
- Watch a sunrise in the Upper Peninsula
- Gaze at Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park
- Ski Aspen Highlands in Colorado
- Stroll Venice Beach and the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles
- Stand in Arch Rock in Joshua Tree
- Hang out on Cannon Beach
- Drive into the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater
- Visit Mount Rushmore
- Marvel at the northern lights in Alaska
Throughout the United States of America, you'll find a myriad of accommodations whether you are planning to spend your vacation in a luxury hotel or a tent. With several options designed to suit all travelers and budgets, there are unique accommodation options plentiful in the USA with suites, apartments, and standard rooms available.
When it comes to accommodation in the U.S., a high standard of comfort and quality is what often cuts it, and there's a fantastic range of resorts ranging from 3 to 5 stars, inns, motels, hotels, hostels, camping & RVs, vacation rentals, and guesthouses in the country. In other words, accommodation in the United States is plentiful and it's as varied as the country itself.
However, cities like Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and New York City are renowned for their high-quality accommodation offers.
In Las Vegas, Venice-style gondola rides, amusement rides, and animal habitats are featured at some of the hotels in the city and there's a range of entertainment extravaganzas, fine dining, shopping, cocktail bars, and mega casinos combined with the stylish hotel rooms.
Los Angeles boasts an awesome range of accommodation options in the close-by Hollywood, in downtown LA, and close to the airport, and it's almost impossible to avoid a stay in Los Angeles for it's known to be the gateway to the rest of the U.S.
New York City, on the other hand, has accommodation that's conveniently close to the city's subway mass transit system, attractions, nightlife, dining, shopping, and it's concentrated in the city center. Offering everything from boutique properties and luxury hotels to studios and apartments, particularly in the popular regions of Brooklyn and Manhattan, this beautiful big city is home to a wide range of accommodation options.
You'll have no need to worry when you're traveling green in the United States because there's plenty of eco-friendly, green hotels in the country.
Hostels and Guest Houses
Hostels and Guest Houses are within easy reach in the USA and they're great options for travelers visiting the States on a budget.
Finding an apartment can be stress-free or stressful, depending on where you are in the country. There are several websites where you can easily find an apartment of your choice in your preferable neighborhood and Airbnb is also pretty common in most parts of the country. However, take note that rent prices are high in places like San Francisco, New York City, Oakland, Boston, Washington, D.C., San Jose, Seattle, Honolulu, Los Angeles, and San Diego but cheaper in places like Wichita, Tucson, Toledo, Tulsa, Detroit, Indianapolis, Memphis, Arlington (Texas), and Columbus.
Couchsurfing is a great way to travel around the United States of America and experience the country in its authenticity. And, there are several platforms online where you can find a host for couchsurfing.
When it comes to camping, the United States offers an abundance of campgrounds, campsites, and RV parks for visitors and locals alike who want to experience something new or be close to nature.
Getting There and Moving Around
Getting into the United States may be a bit tedious because of the overwhelming process for there's an exceptionally onerous and complicated visa requirement required from travelers by the country. But, once you've been able to get through all hurdles, you'll be glad to find yourself in this country. Speaking of getting around the United States, there are a handful of options you can make use of to move around conveniently.
You can use buses and charter services to arrive at main points of interest without too much trouble, there's often good bus links between the major cities, and there's a scenic rail service provided by Amtrak. If you want to get from place to place in the United States, it's important that you plan in advance because the distances in the country are so great. In the cities in the different states, you'll find private and public transport readily available.
Limousine services and taxi cab are some of the options included in private transport with bus and rail services offered by the public transportation system in each city. Although, there are a few cities with no rail system.
Traveling by plane is usually the fastest and the most convenient method of intercity travel in the United States of America. There is some passenger air service serving the smaller towns and you'll find at least one or two airports serving most large cities in the country.
Intercity bus travel is widespread in the United States of America but take note that it's not available everywhere. Greyhound Bus Lines, Megabus, and Chinatown buses are some of the bus service providers offering long-distance bus travel in the United States.
These days, the train is primarily used for freight transport but this doesn't dispute the fact that the U.S. has the world's longest rail network. The passenger rail network in the United States is no longer what it used to be due to the popularity of flying and cars and the country's passenger trains can be surprisingly expensive, unreliable, slow, and scarce.
However, Amtrak can be very efficient and comfortable in more urban locations and even though it's often more expensive than a flight, it provides service to many cities; being the national rail system. You may even be lucky to benefit from its "weekly specials" when you check the website for some things significant before you purchase a regular ticket within a week of traveling. Amtrak offers a 30-day U.S. Rail Pass for international travelers only and promotional discounts of 15% for students and seniors.
Still, rather than taking the train when traveling long distances, driving yourself will often be quicker because the United States has no dedicated high-speed rail network. But, it remains a worthwhile offer because some of its routes traverse some of America's most beautiful areas.
More so, there are reliable commuter trains offered by several major cities and for local travel within the city or metro area, there's the subway or light rail service operated by several large cities.
Hitchhiking or hitching, as it's called by others, offers an authentic and immersive travel experience, and it's undoubtedly a great way to explore the United States for it creates fine opportunities to meet and relate with new people. But, hitchhiking doesn't get too rosy like that because getting someone; a stranger, to stop and indulge you on a ride isn't an easy decision to make on the part of the driver.
Speaking of the legality of hitchhiking in the United States, 44 out of the 50 states in the country smile fairly at it on the grounds that it doesn't bring about a hindrance in the regular flow of traffic and the hitchhiker is not standing in the roadway. However, police departments strictly frown at hitchhiking and only few drivers are willing to pick someone up because hitchhiking is perceived as dangerous, these days.
If you'll be hitchhiking in the U.S., you must be willing to accept the risks, and you risk getting ticketed if you violate the rules.
From riverboat cruises and elaborate houseboats to kayaks and self-propelled, your choices of watercraft are laudable for you've got a good chance of navigating around within the United States by boat as the United States has the largest system of inland waterways in the world. The Mississippi River, The St. Lawrence Seaway, and The New York State Canal System are some of the waterways that operate scheduled cruises and recreational boating in the country.
The United States is a great place for sustainable shoppers as it's home to a wide array of flea markets, food markets, vintage stores, thrift shops, and several eco-friendly stores you can patronize for ethical shopping. And, it's up to you to take advantage of all these offers to enjoy shopping sustainably in the country.
In the past decade, eco-friendliness has become increasingly popular, and this doesn't leave the United States out of the picture. But, it's worthy to point out that while states have their respective recycling measures and requirements, there's no national law in the country that mandates recycling.
Speaking of the countries that lead the world race in recycling municipal solid waste, the United States still falls behind other developed countries as it's recorded that Americans only recycle 34 percent of discarded materials. The USA is yet to touch the top 10 recycling countries list as of 2019 but countries like Switzerland, Wales, South Korea, Austria, and Germany already made it to the top 5 due to their high percent of recycling rate.
However, there are a few states in the United States making efforts to be greener compared to others, and according to WalletHub's comparison of the 50 states on 27 key metrics, Vermont ranked as the state with the best environmental quality and the greenest state in the United States of America. Other states that form the top five include New York City, Oregon, Connecticut, and Minnesota.
In the United States, landfills are where most people's trash end up and some are burned in incinerators. With 4.4 pounds of municipal solid waste (MSW) per person per day, Americans generate more waste than any other nation in the world as a nation.
Howbeit, each state in the country have their respective residential garbage and business/company garbage collection schedule. Under the 1976 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), all waste materials are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and, waste-to-energy, recycling, and landfill disposal are some of the ways waste are disposed and treated.
Work and Study Abroad
Home to generous scholarship schemes, most prestigious colleges, and offering some of the best study abroad programs, the United States of America is a favorite location for work and study abroad, and it's no surprise that every year, it receives over one million pupils from different parts of the world.
Maintaining its position as the most popular country for international students in the globe, it offers an extensive choice of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, and being a land of opportunity, international students have the opportunity of working while studying to reduce education cost.
The United States has one of the most reputable educational systems in the world. Welcoming at least a million international students annually, it prides itself in being one of the most important educational destinations around the globe as it's home to famous universities like Stanford, Princeton, Yale, and Harvard' that keep topping global rankings. However, international students interested in completing a student exchange in the USA have a set of requirements to meet.
Many dream of traveling the United States as an Au Pair and the beautiful thing about being an au pair in this country is that it offers you the opportunity to discover everything this enormous country has to offer and travel around without having to pay rent since you'll be staying with a host family and be entrusted with the responsibility of taking care of their children. However, you may need to apply to a US Government designated Au Pair agency if you want to be a legal Au Pair in the United States. But, there are some level, language, age requirements, and many more you'll have to meet before you can become an Au Pair in the USA.
Volunteering is actually pretty easy to find in the United States. You can start looking for volunteer opportunities online after you've decided which location you would like to volunteer in.