From its Native American population to European settlers to years of welcoming massive numbers of immigrants from all around the globe, the USA is a country of incredible cultural diversity.
Traveling to any major U.S. city, you will find the influence of these diverse cultures in restaurants, public art, and ethnic neighbourhoods.
In general, Americans are very welcoming, friendly, and open to meet travellers visiting. A nation of dreamers and innovators, Americans are often independent, optimistic, value entrepreneurial spirit, and love to have fun.
Despite reports of violence and racism in America, the majority of travellers find their interaction with Americans friendly, positive, and safe.
With such a large geographic area and diverse population, there are several regional characteristics that are great for travellers to experience.
From mountain peaks to pristine coastal beaches to desert canyons, The USA offers amazing and diverse natural scenery that can be best explored on foot, by kayak, or on bicycle.
The country’s leaders early on understood the value in protecting these unique natural wonders, creating a system of National Parks, starting with Yellowstone established in 1872, which is the first National Park established in the world. There are currently more than 50 National Parks across the country and hundreds of other protected natural and wilderness lands for the traveller seeking a nature experience.
In addition to being the first National Park, Yellowstone continues to be one of the most popular, providing almost 3,500 square miles of wilderness that features hundreds of animal species for viewing (bears, wolves, bison, and elk), more than 10,000 hydrothermal features, hundreds of waterfalls, and a massive lake.
Other regions that offer exceptional wilderness and nature experience include the Southwest deserts and canyons, majestic mountains and old growth forest of the West, as well as extensive lakes and mountains of the Northeast. And nothing matches the wilds of the last frontier, Alaska.
While Grand Canyon is one of the most impressive landscapes at more than 277 miles long and revealing millions of years of geologic history, there are many other must see sites. Red rock and canyon natural wonders of the Southwest include Arches National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, and Monument Valley, home of Navajo Native Americans.
While lodges and hotels are available, a highlight experience of visiting the Southwest is at least one night camping to fully experience the wide open clear blue sky, dazzling sunsets, and vast night sky that reveals the Milky Way’s density of sparking stars.
The Sierra Mountains of California features Yosemite National Park with extensive hiking trails to view impressive granite peaks and thundering waterfalls. Other worthy mountains include majestic mountains and old growth forests of Mount Rainier and Olympic National Parks or the impressive active Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. The coast, rivers and lakes from Washington to California offers rugged bluffs with crashing surf, miles of beaches, and seemingly endless options for kayaking, rafting, or surfing. There’s also ample opportunity for observing marine wildlife from stately blue and gray whales to seabirds and playful dolphins.
Although the Northeast USA is known for iconic cities such as New York and Boston, there is ample opportunity to enjoy the forests, lakes, and rivers. At 6 million acres, Adirondack Park in New York State is larger than Yellowstone and Grand Canyon National Parks combined and boasts extensive hiking trails, lakes, and cross country ski trails. Vermont’s rural farm charm and famous Long Trail, as well as New Hampshire’s rugged mountains provide challenging hikes. Not lastly, the Appalachian Trail, all 2,175 miles, runs from Maine to Georgia with many great access points in the Northeast.
With such diverse landscape, the climate varies region to region and season to season. However, a few general overviews:
The Northeast summers (June-August) can be warm and pleasant with spells of hot, humid days and strong rains. September and October can provide stunning leaf color with mild day temperatures (mid 50-low 70 F/ 12-22 C) with cool nights 38-50F / 3-10C). Winters are typically cold with possible snow fall late autumn to early spring (November-March).
The Southeast is generally mild winters but can be extremely hot and humid during summers reaching 95F/35C with thunderstorms and hurricanes along coastal areas.
The West and Southwest are hot and typically dry during summer with temperatures that can exceed 100 degrees F / 37 C, with milder temperatures along the Pacific Coast and Northwest. Southwest deserts can experience sudden bursts of rain and lightning during the summer.
Temperatures at mountain regions (above 2,400 feet/800 meters) can be significantly cooler than low lying areas with cold nights.
USA has six time zones, which can cause confusion when planning trips across several zones and makes planning important when trips inlcude specific scheduled activities and travel connections. The six time zones are: Eastern (EST) GMT+05:00, Central (CST)GMT+06:00 , Mountain (MST) GMT+07:00, Pacific (PST) GMT+08:00, Alaska (AKDT) GMT+09:00 , and Hawaii (HST) GMT+10:00
Food & Drinks:
Of course, the classic American food experience is BBQ. While most famous from Texas and the deep South, with each region boast the best slow roasted meats and side dishes, outstanding BBQ can be found across the country.
Diversity once again is reflected in the American food landscape with a vast array of cultural influences. Even smaller towns, you can often find a range of ethnic eateries that feature Chinese, Mexican, Vietnamese, Thai, Indian, Jamaican, Ethiopian foods and more.
Other regional treats include Creole and Cajun cooking of Louisiana, lobster rolls in New England, New Mexico green chili, and an emphasis on local, seasonal farm fresh meals.
US dollar is the currency.
Foreign currencies can be easily exchanged at major airports and main bank branches. Smaller banks may not be able to exchange currency.
Automatic teller machines accept foreign visa cards and are widely available. Most shops, restaurants, taxi services, and sites of interest will accept credit card payments.
No specific vaccinations required. Please review the latest recommendations by medical experts, such as World Health Organization (http://www.who.int/en/).
Pharmacies are readily available, but carry a physician’s order if you will need to refill a prescription during your travels.
Check the latest requirements by the U.S. government.
There are multiple International Airports in all regions of the United States.
Capital: Washinton D.C.
Currency: United States Dollar
Population: 324 million
Official languages: English, Spanish