Las Vegas – over-the-top, round-the-clock, bright and glitzy… the real heart of the city is the stretch better known as the Strip. A playground for the rich and famous, the hotels have their own shopping arcades, restaurants and casinos. For a glimpse of old Vegas, head downtown for chic cocktail bars and trendy nightclubs. And when it’s time for something completely different, drive out into the desert for the awe-inspiring natural beauty of the Grand Canyon.
Although the principal draw card is still gambling, Las Vegas is now marketed as a family destination and there is no shortage of theme parks, shopping malls and golf courses. However, the vast majority of visitors come to gamble or party and the incredible displays are mostly designed to lure passers-by into the casinos, and once there it’s hard to leave; the exits are discreetly hidden.
Why not combine your visit to Las Vegas with a multi centre trip to San Francisco, the National Parks or Cancun?
Sun-kissed Miami, Florida is one of the USA’s great beach destinations. Here is the perfect backdrop to a metropolis that pulses with the rhythms of its diverse population: year-round sunshine, top-ranked beaches, and the sparkling waters of Biscayne Bay. Boasting Art Deco architecture and a vibrant arts and cultural scene, plus renowned nightlife and world-class dining, Miami draws an eclectic mix of visitors, from celebrities to families seeking fun in the sun.
Trendsetters hang out in Coconut Grove, while sun lovers strew the miles of white sandy beaches. For families there are entertaining attractions like the Seaquarium and Metrozoo. The nightlife is sophisticated and varied. The city also gives easy access to Florida’s popular Gold Coast resorts and attractions, as well as the natural wonder of the Florida Everglades.
No wonder Miami is America’s favourite holiday destination and the hub of a vibrant cruise ship industry, its port jammed constantly with sleek passenger liners. North of the city, the miles of beautiful sandy beaches on the Gold Coast are hemmed in by southeast Florida’s major tourist resorts: Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Pompano Beach and Palm Beach.
New York City
New York is one of the most vibrant and exciting cities in the world.
Whether you have come to the Big Apple for the shopping, architecture, nightlife, Broadway shows or just to stroll through Central Park and soak up the electric atmosphere, it is a city that never disappoints.
You can dine in bustling Chinatown or stylish Greenwich Village or wander through SoHo and Little Italy revelling in their vibrant character.
Many of New York’s museums and art galleries have recently been refurbished and the choice of exhibitions, shows and performances on offer is staggering.
Along with the more traditional attractions of the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building and Brooklyn Bridge you can also visit Ground Zero, take a trip over the city by helicopter, tour around on an open top bus, or see the Manhattan skyline from the river at night. Further afield why not explore the colourful neighbourhoods of Harlem and Queens, which have opened their doors to visitors in recent years.
The most famous resident of this central Florida city is Mickey Mouse, the cartoon creation of animated movie tycoon, Walt Disney, whose vision has turned Orlando, and the adjacent Lake Buena Vista and Kissimmee areas, into the world’s busiest, biggest and best-known concentrated tourist paradise. Currently the Disney empire in Orlando includes four theme parks, dozens of smaller attractions, thousands of hotel rooms and holiday apartments, hundreds of restaurants and snack bars and even two cruise ships.
It is not only the Disney dazzle that draws visitors to Orlando, however. There are other attractions here too, like Universal Studios, Discovery Cove, and the beloved SeaWorld, all adding to the maelstrom of thrills and pleasure palaces that this city is now renowned for. Just a trip down attraction-rich International Drive is a mind-boggling experience. The city and surrounds can occupy visitors of all ages for weeks, but those who feel the need to travel farther afield will find that another of Florida’s greatest attractions, the Kennedy Space Center, is also nearby, as are the theme parks and attractions of Tampa, including the thrilling Busch Gardens.
If you want to relax and soak up the Vitamin D then you must go to Kissimmee, Miami, Florida Keys and the Sanibel Islands for all the sandy beaches and clear blue sea that you need.
Get your bearings by wandering from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol Building along the 2-mile centrepiece National Mall, home to the majority of the city’s 17 Smithsonian museums. The cast-iron dome of the Capitol marks the geographic heart of the city, from where all neighbourhoods radiate outwards. With a population of just 600,000, Washington DC is smaller than almost any major capital city you can think of, making it easily navigable on foot, by bike or via its easy Metro system.
Beyond all the glittering white marble and neoclassical architecture, shopping and entertainment options abound. Georgetown and Dupont Circle both offer stylish stores and speciality boutiques of the mainstream and indie variety, with a buzzing dining and nightlife scene, or sample local produce and people-watch at the Eastern Market in Capitol Hill. Further north, Adams Morgan brims with coffee shops, bookstores and galleries and caters to a young, hip crowd.
Music and theatre are huge, with venues like The Kennedy Center and Warner Theatre attracting large audiences. Free summer concerts and a year-round calendar of festivals add to the rich culture of the city.
Washington DC is home to an eclectic dining scene, with restaurants varying considerably depending on the neighbourhood. If you want to hang out with lobbyists and lawmakers, check out swanky Capitol Hill venues. There are also a string of good value ethnic options at the intersection of 18th Street and Columbia Road, including Peruvian and Mexican restaurants. Georgetown and Dupont Circle rival each other for variety, with a reliable selection of contemporary American and Italian fare. And don’t forget to try a chili dog – it’s a DC institution!
Those looking to exercise their muscles as well as their minds will find no shortage of options in Washington DC. One of the most popular activities is kayaking on the fast-moving waters of the Potomac or Shenandoah rivers, with challenging whitewater tubing and rafting available for the extra bold. Beginners can learn to paddle on the calmer waters of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, or hire a bike and cycle along a section of the 184.5 mile towpath. For the ultimate adrenaline rush book a tandem skydive at DC Skydiving Center, with widescreen views of northern Virginia and the Capitol included with every freefall.
Is North America your next adventure holiday destination?