The United States may not be the most exotic locale, but with an interesting national history, some of the largest cities in the world and cultural flavors with as many varieties as there are individual states, America won’t see a shortage in tourists any time soon. From the Statue of Liberty to the sun-soaked beaches in Orange County, the United States is one massive melting pot with more to offer visitors than you could fit into just one lifetime. Take a gander at the best, can’t-miss opportunities for fun and adventure in Los Angeles, Seattle, Phoenix, Chicago and New York City.
The “City of Angels” has long been a Mecca for starving actors, directors, writers and models and the hub of major motion picture activity since the industry exploded in the early 20th century. Flights to Los Angeles mainly come through LAX, which is the largest and busiest airport in California. There are certainly glamorous and expensive hotels in LA, but for good value, check out the Standard Hollywood or Hotel Angeleno for competitive prices and decent amenities. Catch a tour at the Warner Brothers or Fox studio. For something a little more substantial, Los Angeles is home to numerous museums, like the Getty, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) and Los Angeles County Museum of Art. And if you didn’t get your fix of hot bodies, carve out time for a trip to eccentric Venice Beach.
Check in at one of the highly recommended Silver Cloud hotel locations in Bellevue, Lake Union and near the University of Washington campus – they’re a great value with reasonable prices and comfortable rooms. Once you’ve dropped off your bags and are ready to hit the sights, make your way toward Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market, where the fish have been famously flying for over 100 years. If you’d like to hit the other major attractions in the city, you might consider the Seattle CityPASS, which costs $69 and includes admission to the Space Needle, Seattle Aquarium, Argosy Cruises Seattle Harbor Tour, Pacific Science Center, EMP Museum and Woodland Park or the Museum of Flight. It’s good for nine days and you can skip most ticket lines. And don’t forget about the myriad of public parks all over the city, perfect for a picnic or a run.
Building a city in the middle of the desert might not seem like the wisest decision and Phoenix is hot, hot, hot in the summer, but it’s also a multicultural and active place to be. Since the summers can get scorching hot (highs in the 100s), the winter months make for the most pleasant weather when visiting and allow for visitors to get out and moving. With plenty of reasonable digs in the surrounding area, plus the incredibly convenient and cheap light rail service in the Tempe-Downtown area, touring Phoenix doesn’t have to break the bank. Popular Camelback Mountain offers two hiking trails and the city boasts a science center, botanical garden and some fascinating art museums, one of which features work by Frida Kahlo. For those looking for authentic Mexican food on the cheap, try Los Reyes de la Torta.
The Windy City makes its mark with all the amenities and pluses of a major metropolis, but without the blistering attitude of her older sisters. The Seneca Hotel gives you a great location coupled with luxuriously appointed amenities like full-size microwaves and fridges. Navigating Chicago is surprisingly easy, especially with the added benefit of the L-train running to every corner of the city. Like Seattle, Chicago offers tourists a comprehensive CityPASS, but there are plenty of free attractions, such as museums, parks and the zoo.
New York City
The biggest city in the United States and one of the biggest in the world, New York City is almost overwhelming in scope. Tourists can stay anywhere from five-star hotels in Manhattan to hostels in über-hip Brooklyn. And unless you’re planning on staying for a few decades, it’s not likely you’ll even begin to put a dent in all that the Big Apple has to offer. For starters, though, make your way to Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park, the Staten Island Ferry and hunker down for a few good meals at any of the numerous, excellent and reasonably-priced smaller restaurants that dot the streets. Because of the magnitude of the city, planning ahead is best if you’re on a limited time schedule.
This article was written by Scott Grajeda. Scott is a freelance writer and travel enthusiast who enjoys exploring the world and writing about his discoveries.
(Images by Jondoeforty1)