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Tourist Destinations in USA
The most popular attractions in the USA
New York City
Renowned for its frenetic pace, ever on the edge of invention, New York City's creativity includes venerated restaurants, chic nightspots, cutting-edge theatre and architectural masterpieces. Combine this, with the fact that New York City is also a global financial capital, and it's arguable that New York City is the greatest metropolis in America.
The epicentre of New York City life always has been the island of Manhattan, which is surrounded by four other distinct city boroughs - the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island - all of which have their own character and attractions.
Although New York City still grapples with the events of 11 September 2001, it has regained its vitality, and now marches forward to confront the challenges of the future.
Symbolic of this is the reopening of the former World Trade Center site later this year. The National September 11 Memorial will be a tree-filled plaza consisting of two giant pools, intended to represent the footprints of the former twin towers, featuring cascading waterfalls and inscribed with the names of the 3,000 victims of 9/11. The memorial is sure to resonate with New Yorkers and visitors alike.
Coney Island is also due to get a multi-million dollar make-over this summer, which will include new high-rise hotels, shops, cinemas, an indoor water park and the city’s first rollercoaster in 80 years. Brooklyn Bridge Park is continually being developed, helping to expand green space within the city, while a new cycle share scheme planned to start from August will make the city easier to navigate.
Las Vegas
Las Vegas, Nevada, is the largest center for adult entertainment in the entire world. It offers gambling, glitzy entertainment and unbelievably extravagant architecture. Giant pyramids of glass, multicolored fantasy castles, replicas of the Eiffel Tower and the New York skyline rise out of the Nevada desert. Even if you don't gamble or party, it is worth seeing this flamboyant display of opulence. In addition, Las Vegas is conveniently located near some of the greatest natural scenery in the southwest including the Grand Canyon Zion and Death Valley. It is only a half-day drive from Los Angeles.
Miami is almost more Latin American than simply American - famed for its sunny weather, savoir faire, legendary party scene and super-cool South Beach style.
Miami and its neighbouring city Miami Beach are cities of emotion, colour and texture. Much of Miami's appeal is due to its diverse neighbourhoods, which range from towering skyscrapers in downtown Miami (the commercial heart of the city) to Little Havana, home to the Cuban community. Meanwhile, the Port of Miami is the world's largest cruise port.
Miami Beach is world-renowned for its 'gold coast' hotel strip, palatial properties and exceptional outdoor recreational facilities. Its glamorous, see-and-be-seen South Beach neighbourhood is instantly recognisable, with its candy-coloured art deco buildings set against a pure South Florida backdrop of cloudless skies, dazzling blue ocean, pale sandy beaches and swaying palm trees.
Thanks to its warm weather year-round, both cities share one ethos: life here is not about work but plenty of play.
There is no disguising the fact Orlando is a city built on theme parks - lots of them. Until 1966, there was precious little here in central Florida, but growth has spiralled thanks to a huge influx of tourists following the arrival of Walt Disney World Resort.
From the original Magic Kingdom, which opened in 1971, Disney has added three more theme parks, two water parks and a host of associated development, including hotels, shops and golf courses to make it a true 'World' resort. With Disney setting the example, Sea World (three theme parks) and Universal (two) have added to Orlando's reputation as the family entertainment capital of the world. Between them, they draw nearly than 50 million visitors every year, and that has meant a huge growth in associated hotels, restaurants and shops, plus a host of smaller-scale attractions.
However, this young city has also developed its own identity, with a number of high-tech industries relocating here. The downtown area is fast developing and there are ambitious plans to become a major cultural centre. The city is also America's number two convention location.
Having said that, the main attraction for 99% of visitors remains the theme parks, and the likes of the nearby Kennedy Space Center. And, in order to attract the all-important repeat visitors, Orlando has become adept at re-inventing itself and providing new attractions at regular intervals.
Los Angeles
Los Angeles is the USA's second largest city after New York. It has been called everything from La La Land to Tinseltown but is most commonly known simply as LA.
Sprawling along the Pacific coast of southern California, its coastline stretches 122km (76 miles) from Malibu to Long Beach. Inland, the city fills a vast, flat and once arid basin ringed by the Santa Monica and San Gabriel mountains.Arriving by plane gives a good first impression.
Out of this vast flat grid of streets and buildings rises a cluster of imposing skyscrapers. These mark Downtown, 26km (16 miles) inland from the coast. Northeast is Pasadena. To the west and northwest are Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Century City and the wide San Fernando Valley. To the south is Long Beach. Along the west coast are Santa Monica, Venice Beach and Marina del Rey.
Founded in 1781 by Mexican settlers, over the centuries, LA grew from a cow town to a Gold Rush boomtown to an oil town. In the 1920s, the fledgling film industry decamped from New York in search of sunshine and Hollywood was born. Today, all the major studios are here and the city is the world's undisputed king of film-making.
Disneyland may be the city's major attraction, but LA is also home to world-renowned cultural institutions from the Museum of Contemporary Art to the LA Philharmonic and the stunning Getty Museum.
LA is exuberant - there are few places in the world where the phrase 'Express Yourself' is taken so literally. Hippy health fanatics exist happily alongside some of the most glamorous and wealthy people in the world. Most visitors come to enjoy world-class shops and restaurants, lie on beaches bathed in almost constant sunshine and simply to people watch.
Hawaii is a string of volcanic islands set in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It is a tropical paradise with near perfect year-round weather, fantastic beaches with amazing surf and spectacular scenery. This is a favorite honeymoon retreat for many couples. It is an ideal destination for swimming, tanning, surfing, boating, fishing, golf and tropical exploration.
Hawaii’s natural beauty, warm tropical climate, inviting waters and waves, and active volcanoes make it a popular destination for tourists, surfers, biologists, and vulcanologist alike. Due to its mid-Pacific location, Hawaii has many North American and Asian influences along with its own vibrant native culture. Hawaii has over a million permanent residents along with many visitors and U.S. military personnel.
San Francisco
San Francisco, California, is the other great city in California. It is smaller than Los Angeles and does not have the warm tropical beaches, but it is much more scenic. Hillside streets lined with Victorian houses overlook a large blue bay surrounded by pastoral mountains. Historic cable cars still ascend the steep streets, and the magnificent Golden Gate Bridge frames its Pacific inlet. The nearby Marin headlands and Muir woods provide scenic diversions. It is less than an hour drive to the Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley wine country, and a half-day to beautiful Yosemite National Park.
San Diego
Sun, surf and exquisite scenery are the qualities most visitors seek in San Diego. Nestled in the southern-most corner of California's coastline, the city is blessed with sun and temperate weather year round. Pristine beaches and blooming gardens are among the unique characteristics of this city.
Attractions like SeaWorld, the San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park incorporate San Diego's casual, outdoor lifestyle in their exhibits, and a laid-back air prevails everywhere. Suntanned, barefoot, bikini-clad surfers and sun lovers fill the city, especially in Ocean, Mission and Pacific beaches, just three of many seaside towns along San Diego's 112 km (70 mile) long coastline. Long stretches of sand are filled with sunbathers who wander to the surf shops, coffee houses and cafes that represent the heart and soul of the Southern California lifestyle.
Historic downtown communities like the Gaslamp Quarter and Little Italy are now centres for dining, nightlife and the arts. Downtown has grown to incorporate eight distinctive neighborhoods and is the epicentre for all that's cool and hip in San Diego.
Music is an integral part of San Diego's heritage and popularity. Budding musicians in all genres develop their talents at San Diego clubs, while well-known acts perform on outdoor stages and intimate indoor venues all around town. Home to dozens of cultural organisations, writers' guilds and artist co-operatives, San Diego is one of Southern California's most important centres for the arts.
In addition, thanks to its history of Spanish missionaries here, Spanish influences remain strong to this day, especially as San Diego is barely an hour's drive from the border with Mexico. The evidence of this inextricable connection with its Hispanic beginnings is everywhere, in the mix of Spanish and English used in local slang and in the regional cuisine.
San Diego, the eighth largest city in the USA, is far more than one single city; it is a patchwork of cultures, neighbourhoods and small, uniquely defined communities - the epitome of the American melting pot. Many travellers come here just to bask in the warmth and experience a Southern California paradise.


Alaska  is the great northern wilderness frontier of the USA. It covers a vast area extending from the rainforests of the Pacific coast to the tundra well beyond the artic circle and along a broad archipelago of volcanic isles. The forests and streams abound with fish and wildlife including the fascinating but dangerous Kodiak bears. Glaciers and snow-capped peaks provide lots of spectacular scenery. Most of Alaska is inaccessible except via small "bush pilot" air taxis or by canoe and hiking. This is a popular destination for hunters, fishermen, photographers and wilderness explorers.
Washington, DC
Washington D.C., the capital of the USA, is a beautiful and interesting city. It is filled with numerous monuments, museums and public parks including the White House, the US Capitol and many other government buildings, There are plenty of interesting things to see in Washington, and most of them are completely free. Washington has a diverse population and a great variety of ethnic restaurants. It is only an hour drive to the port city of Baltimore and a half-day drive to New York City.
Washington DC is perhaps more exciting than any other city in the United States. Its rhythms are the heartbeat of the entire nation, and its work is always in the public eye. 
There are many parts of town to enjoy, each with its appeal to different segments of the Washington DC tourism market. Washington DC vacations should include jaunts to the various distinct neighborhoods that define the culture here. Check out the U Street clubs in the streets where Duke Ellington grew up. Go to Chinatown, admire the Friendship Arch, and eat authentic Asian cuisines late at night.
One of the world's leading ski resorts, Mammoth's north-facing slopes spread over one of the biggest ski areas in North America. The resort began in the late 1930s thanks to the efforts of pioneer Dave McCoy, who went on to build Mammoth up to its current global status, attracting more than 1.5 million visitors annually, over 60 years of ownership.
In the last decade, McCoy was helped by resort developers Intrawest, who took a stake in the resort (recently sold on when McCoy retired in 2005, aged 90) and began to build a full resort base village – previously most lodging was down in the town of Mammoth Lakes. A long-planned gondola link to Mammoth Lakes has also been built, cutting out the need for a drive up to the base area car parks, and most recently a ski run back down too.
Mammoth's great snow record means the ski area offers one of the longest ski seasons in the world, typically opening in the first half of November and staying open into June – although it has reached August in the past.
Although the resort's facilities (in terms of the number of shops and restaurants) are not quite on the scale of South Lake Tahoe, Aspen or Vail, they are more than adequate, and the ski mountain is certainly a match for most resorts.
Memphis is known the world over; cradle of the blues, birthplace of rock n’ roll and home to Graceland, the mansion belonging to Elvis Presley.
In 1968, however, Memphis was the setting for tragedy when civil rights leader Dr Martin Luther King was assassinated on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. The city has risen from the ashes of hatred, and the Lorraine Motel is now America's Civil Rights Museum.
Today, Memphis is an intriguing mix of old and new, with serene Victorian villas jostling for space with gleaming skyscrapers and malls.
There are many cities that are characterised by the music associated with them, but few as strongly as Nashville, Tennessee, where music has defined an entire urban culture.
Although country music is the overriding force in Nashville, it is far from rural, and offers a stylish cityscape with skyscrapers and modern commercial and entertainment districts. Located in the centre of Middle Tennessee, Nashville is the boom city of the upper South, attracting people from across the USA with its easy-going lifestyle.
State capital since 1843, Nashville has since transformed from hunting outpost to music capital of the US. The Grand Ole Opry started its weekly radio broadcast in 1925, and the city hasn’t looked back, becoming a hotbed for country music and a diverse range of artists and musicians. Downtown Nashville now has modern hotels and state-of-the-art music venues, and continues to attract music fans in their millions.
With a bayou at it heart, dozens of inspirational museums, a theatre district and a nightlife scene to be envied it’s hard to know where to start with Houston.
This is a city that is continually reinventing itself. It was once most famous as an oil boom town where the oil barons were king, it turned itself into Space City when NASA came to town. And now Houston's downtown is a pulsating entertainment and residential district where loft apartments sell for a premium.
Take time to explore. You are spoilt for choice with innovative attractions in the museum district; the arts are well catered for in the theatre district; nature lovers can enjoy a unique view of the city from its many open spaces; sport lovers just won't know where to start; foodies will be in their element; and those who require retail therapy can roam upmarket malls or quirky shops in the neighbourhoods.
Dallas is a young city with all the vigour of youth. Effigies of modern architecture rise like glass trees out of the downtown area. In 1841, it was simply a plan of 20 streets on the 256 hectares (640 acres) of south central America, claimed by a Tennessee lawyer, John Neely Bryan. Today, it is the ninth largest city in the USA, and including its western neighbour of Fort Worth, it is the nation's fastest growing metropolitan area.
Dallas will always be remembered for one, if not two, shootings. The first and most shocking occurred on 22 November 1963, when President J F Kennedy was assassinated in downtown Dallas. The second shooting may only have been fictional but, when J R Ewing was shot by an unknown killer in the TV series Dallas, fans across the world were devastated.
Today the city is a mecca for dining, shopping, arts and entertainment. Large scale developments of urban lofts, apartments, condominiums, retail and both indoor and outdoor recreational facilities are springing up across the city. An impressive new Dallas Center for the Performing Arts opened in October 2009 to vie with New York's Lincoln Center.
Dallas offers true Southern hospitality, be it in a humble apartment or in the Mansion on Turtle Creek, recently ranked as one of the world's top hotels. And with a 10th of its workforce in the hospitality industry, Dallas is always a welcoming city.
Vail is one of the biggest ski resorts in the USA, and often voted one of the best in popularity polls. Built in the 1960s as a faux Austrian village for an upmarket clientele, Vail has broadened its appeal in recent years into a Tourist destination for everyone, while continuing to serve the well-heeled.
The traffic-free village which meanders along the slopes is mostly attractive, with smart hotels, shops and restaurants. It does have some of the most expensive lift tickets in the US if you buy in resort, but bargains are to be had by buying in advance online or through a tour operator.
There's a good choice of skiing, from the conventional pistes on the front face, to the big, open Back Bowls, to the pleasure of skiing through widely spaced trees in Blue Sky Basin.
The resort has tried to promote a greener agenda on its slopes and in its properties in recent years and has some solar panels on mountain restaurants and hybrid low-pollution buses.
Denver Travel
Locked in the crook of the Rocky Mountains' bulky arm, and nestled up to the western fringe of the Great Plains, Denver is a perfect blend of big city living and country charm.
As Middle America's biggest city, Denver offers all the perks of a metropolis without the hassle of actually having to live there. It has an impressive commitment to culture and the arts, having doubled the size of the Denver Art Museum, whilst the redevelopment of the Lower Downtown (LoDo) area continues, with galleries, restaurants, bars and impromptu theatres springing up in the old warehouses.
With big league sports teams in ice hockey, baseball, American football, basketball and football, Denver also claims to be ‘Sports Town USA'.
As well as the many parks that line Denver's suburbs, the city also has two beautiful stretches of paved bike paths along Cherry Creek and the South Platte River, and numerous hiking and climbing opportunities in the Rockies. Unsurprisingly, these facilities plus the abundance of sunshine has led Denver to be dubbed the thinnest city in America.
However, it's not all early mornings and fresh air. Denver is home to some of the finest micro-breweries in America, and hosts the annual Great American Beer Festival, where visitors get merrily drunk on 1,300 varieties of beer. For more refined tastes, head to the upmarket Larimer Square, the historical and geographical centre of Denver which now doubles as a hotspot for restaurants, bars and clubs.
Aspen is one of the world's best known resorts, boasting four ski areas, three separate resort developments and a glitzy reputation.
The famous ski town was once a busy 19th-century silver mining district 130 years ago, and today you can stay in the original town of Aspen, or at the ever-expanding Snowmass resort 20km (12 miles) away, which recently completed a multi-billion dollar redevelopment. Alternatively, there’s the third and smallest resort, Aspen Highlands.
The main resort of Aspen town itself has several faces. In one it has become synonymous with excess, being home to some of the world's most opulent and expensive properties, as well as a local airport full of private jets.
In another it has a reputation for liberal policies which seems at odds with the first - the resort famously banned fur coats at one time, and currently the Aspen Skiing Company is a leading campaigner against climate change.
Snowmass, on the other hand, is very much like a ‘normal’ ski resort, and a very good one following the huge investment in improvements in recent years. It also has by far the largest of Aspen’s four ski areas.
Most visitors have little interest in these issues however, and just enjoy the superb skiing, which includes the biggest lift-served vertical in the USA, and a buzzing nightlife.
Copper Mountain
Copper Mountain is a purpose-built and largely pedestrianised resort in Colorado, which in recent years has been transformed into a mostly wood and stone affair, similar to other modern resort developments in the USA that have followed the Whistler model where the base resort design is the priority.
There’s a good range of skiing on some of the world’s highest slopes and the resort is handily placed for the towns of Frisco and Silverthorne, and other nearby ski areas.
Accommodation in Copper Mountain is virtually all in convenient slopeside condominiums, most of which are interconnected by walkways and separated by squares. However, the expansion of the resort has led to the creation of several ‘districts’ which are connected by a shuttle bus service so it is worth checking exactly where your accommodation is when booking, although the majority are slopeside.

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