Even though a large country, The United States is approximately half the size of Russia and about the same size as China.
The “Lower 48” (the 48 states other than Alaska and Hawaii) are bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west, with much of the populace living on these two coasts. The only land borders it has are shared with Canada to the north and Mexico to the south.
The United States has really complicated visa requirements. Please read up carefully prior your visit and in particular, should you need to apply for a visa. It is most advisable to consult the Bureau of Consular Affairs site for current information.
British travellers to the US under the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP), which allows most British Citizen passport holders to visit for up to 90 days without a visa, are obliged to get an authorisation via the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) prior to their journey. Visitors should register through the ESTA website at http://esta.cbp.dhs.gov and are advised to do so at least 72 hours prior to travel.
English 82.1%, Spanish 10.7% (2000 census) are the main languages spoken but there is no doubt that the United States is a polyglot of just about every language spoken in the world.
The overall climate is described as temperate with some notable exceptions:
- Alaska is an arctic tundra;
- Hawaii and southern Florida are tropical;
- The Great Plains are dry, flat and grassy becoming arid desert in the far west; and
- The California coastline is Mediterranean.
This is definitely a land of four seasons all at the same time! Ski in 4 feet of powder in the north and then travel to the south or the islands and lay on a golden, sandy beach.
When to go
This really does depend on what you would like to see and which activities you would like to partake in (if any).
The United States has so much to offer that one trip will not even scratch the surface.
The United States has 21 UNESCO World Heritage Sites 8 Cultural, 12 Natural and 1 mixed site. (The Everglades National Park is in danger).
The U.S. is well known for its diversity in popular tourist destinations which range from the skyscrapers of Manhattan, to the natural wonders of Alaska and Yellowstone, to the warm, sunny beaches of Southern California, Florida and Hawaii.
Mount Rushmore, South Dakota — the totemic memorial to 4 former presidents carved into the cliff face by sculptor Gutzon Borglum and later finished by his son, Lincoln;
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming — home of the Old Faithful geyser and the first national park in the US;
Grand Canyon, Arizona — the world’s longest and most frequented canyon;
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina — a national park in the southern Appalachians;
Denali National Park, Alaska — a remote national park featuring Mount McKinley (Denali), North America’s highest peak at over 20,000 feet (6194 meters);
Yosemite National Park, California — home to the vertical rock formation known as El Capitan and the famous Giant Sequoia trees;
Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado — well-preserved Ancestral Puebloan (Spanish for village) cliff dwellings;
Niagara Falls, New York — the massive waterfalls on the border with Canada;
Walt Disney World, Florida — the most popular vacation resort in the world;
Times Square, New York City
Freemont Street, Las Vegas
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
Navy Pier, Chicago
Bourbon Street, New Orleans
Venice Beach, Los Angeles
Faneuil Hall / Quincy Market, Boston
Duval Street, Key West
Balboa Park, San Diego
Interested in a road trip? Why not travel the legendary Route 66 (The Mother Road). It goes from Chicago (close to Buckingham Fountain) to Santa Monica, (it used to be Los Angeles but technically not the pier), via Springfield, Saint Louis, Tulsa, Okalahoma, Amarillo, Albuquerque, Flagstaff and San Bernardino. This, never to be forgotten, road has been decommissioned but, with the aid of a map, follow in the tracks of the pioneers. This route used to be close on 2500 miles (3940 kms.) long.
Bucket & Spade
The following are generally considered to be the best beach locations in the United States:
- The Hawaiian Islands – Kahanamoku and Waimanalo beaches, Hawaii;
- Florida – Siesta beach, St. George Island State Park; Bill Baggs, Cape Florida State Park; Panama City Beach; Clearwater; Naples; South Beach;
- California – Coronado beach;
Not forgetting the U.S. Virgin Islands; Myrtle Beach and Beachwalker Park, South Carolina; Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts; Cape Hatteras, North Carolina; Main Beach, East Hampton, New York; South Padre Island, Texas;
The United States is not part of the Blue Flag program at this time.