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This week’s curious travel lover is Mel from Edinburgh, and the US of A has got her mind boggling…
I’ve got 3 weeks to spend in North America. I don’t want to spread myself too thin, so I think it would be better to focus on one area. But where should I got and what should I do? Help please, Experts! Mel in Edinburgh
Experts, can you put Mel’s mind at ease? Let’s see what they reckon is the best of the USA…
Claire Whittington from STA Travel Brighton says…
For me, Mel, the USA is all about eating ridiculous amounts of food and listening to some of the most iconic, groundbreaking artists and music genres that the world has produced. So, I’m going to base my answer on what is currently playing on my ipod (Elvis) and my favourite TV programme at the moment (Diners, Drive-ins and Dives – if you haven’t seen it, think guy-driving-around-finding-the-best-American-food-in-dodgy-looking-places!).
I’d start off in Chicago and brave the glass floor of Willis Tower in Millennium Park, 1353ft up, giving you a really unique view of Chicago’s skyline.
Kick start your USA adventure in the windy city itself, Chicago
Then I’d hire a car and journey onto to St. Louis to be greeted by the Gateway Arch before you head out for a night of Ragtime and Jazz music and dinner from one of the booming number of food truck or a traditional all-American BBQ. St. Louis is said to consume more barbecue sauce per capita than any other city in the nation – what a brilliant fact!
If you want to test your brain, the US Chess Championship takes place here every May. If you’d rather test your tastebuds, then why not visit Missouri’s oldest winery, which dates from 1847.
From here, it’s a music lover’s heaven as you don your Stetson hat and head south to Nashville. Not up for driving? Just hop on a Greyhound bus – we can hook you up with a pass. Or, for a really amazing way to see the States, you could do it by rail.
By day, check out the Country Music Hall of Fame; by night, find a proper country bar, listen to some proper country music, drink some beer, chew some tobacco, spit it out or the floor – OK, maybe you don’t have to go that far, but keep your eye out for some real cowboys who can show you how they do it in Tennessee!
Where next, you ask? Well, Marc Cohn and Cher went walking here, and Elvis died here… what can be more American than Memphis?! Make it your next stop, and remember that no visit would be complete without a visit to Graceland or Sun Studios, the birth place of rock ‘n’ roll, where Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Roy Orbison all made their first recordings. If, by now, you’ve completely OD’d on all things Elvis and rock ‘n’ roll, you can also take in some history and culture at the National Civil Rights museum and visit the motel where Martin Luther King was assassinated.
After 3 weeks you should be coming to your final stop, and what a final stop it will be – say hello to New Orleans.
Soak up the sounds in New Orleans | Image by Beadmobile
This foodie and music paradise deserves at least a week of your time which you can fill eating Creole staples such as Gumbo, Po-boy sandwiches and Jambalaya or dancing in a smoky Jazz Bar with a cocktail in hand. There’s even a museum called the Museum of America Cocktails here, which surely deserves a visit (or two?!) before you head home.
Sarah Jones from STA Travel Covent Garden says…
America is a rather ginormous country, so you’re right to focus on a particular zone. There are many wild and wonderful parts of the US, one of my favourites being the East Coast, blending the perfect mix of city and action, country and music, sun and beaches.
An amazing way of exploring the east coast of America is the 14-day Eastern Discovery trip, which will take you through the wonders of the eastern states, leaving you enough time at the end to freestyle.
For this itinerary you’d fly into New York, beginning your trip with the bright lights and endless entertainment of the Big Apple, such as the mighty Empire State, art houses of the Guggenheim and MOMA and the famous Central Park.
From New York, travel south to the state of Pennsylvania, taking in Philadelphia and Annapolis, home to much of America’s independence history. Soak up the knowledge with visits to the Independence National Historical Park and Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence was signed in the 18th century.
Next comes the distinguished Washington D.C. where you can spend a few days seeing the likes of the White House and Pentagon and learning more American history from the abundance of history museums which you’ll find there.
Get your history and politics fix in the USA's capital city
The trip then leads you to into the great southern states of Virginia, Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia where you’ll get to experience some of the true ‘southern charm’. Take your time wandering through the laid-back lifestyle of the south, walking the cobbled streets of Savannah, America’s oldest city, and gawping at the old colonial mansions of Charleston.
South from Georgia lies Florida, with the famous Kennedy Space Centre, giving you all info on American space travel. The buzzing Orlando is also here in Florida, perfect if you’re a theme park maniac – Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World and more…
This 2 week East Coast extravaganza finally visits slick Miami, the contrary plantation town, Tallahassee, and the jazz capital itself, New Orleans. After listening to some epic jazz and eating some equally epic Creole delights you’ve got your own time to do as much or little as you want before flying home.
What's not to love about Miami?
Why not travel west into cowboy country, the neighbouring state of Texas? There are some amazing sights to see in the second largest US State; the amazing Fort Stockholm is a must as is the crystal clear waters of Paradise Canyon. The last days of your trip can be spent in the metropolitan capital Houston with its awesome nightlife, Rodeos and Arts. What’s not to love?