This Week We’re Talking About…The USA

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Monday 4th July marks US Independence Day in the States, so this week we’re celebrating our friends across the pond with a look at some of the best places to visit in the USA.

New York

Times Square taxis
Times Square – New York Credit: Catriona McGale

New York, New York – if you’re a big city kind of person, New York has to be at the top of your bucket list. Quite rightfully known as ‘the city that never sleeps’ there’s always something going on in New York, and with New York’s eclectic mix of neighbourhoods you can go from a Broadway show and cocktails one night to a Yankees game and hot dogs the next.

With so much going on in New York it can be difficult to know where to start, but some of our must-dos include a picnic in Central Park, taking in the iconic city skyline from both the Top of the Rock and the Empire State Building, and of course hopping the ferry over to the famous Statue of Liberty. Theatre fans can’t visit New York without taking in a Broadway show – go for a classic like Wicked or Phantom of the Opera- and for something a little bit different check out what’s on offer off-Broadway.

New York is also a shopping haven – make sure to enjoy a luxury stroll down the designer stores of 5th Avenue, and for quirky independent boutiques head to the vibrant Soho area. If you’ve fallen in love with New York through your favourite TV shows check out the city’s Gossip Girl and Sex and the City Tours, or go in search of the famous Friends apartment.

Nashville

nashvile-usa
Nashville Credit: Catriona McGale

If you’re a fan of country music, Nashville is your home from home. The Tennessee city is the Country Musical Capital of the World – even if you’re not usually a lover of country music you can’t help but get caught up in the rhythm in Nashville.

Your first stop in the home of country music has to be the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Inductees to the Hall of Fame include country icons Garth Brooks, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley – to name just a few. The museum hosts a variety of ever-changing exhibits, at the moment you can explore the story of the award-winning country star Blake Shelton, while upcoming exhibitions include the rise to fame of Zac Brown Band. Activities at the museum also include songwriter sessions, instrumental demonstrations and film screenings.

The streets of Nashville are lined with traditional honky tonk bars where you can enjoy live music from up-and-coming country stars – if you’re lucky you might even find a famous country musician on the bar stool next to you. And make sure to bring your comfortable shoes as many bars offer line dancing sessions, which is a great way to work off the hearty food on offer in Nashville.

The popular TV show Nashville has shone a light on the Tennessee capital lately, and if you’re a fan of the show you’re sure to love walking in the footsteps of your favourite characters. Nashville also plays host to the annual Country Music Awards – which is a perfect time for true country fans to visit Nashville and soak in the atmosphere.

Grand Canyon

Sunset at Grand Canyon
Sunset over Grand Canyon Credit: Catriona McGale

Taking in the stunning landscape of the Grand Canyon for the first time is a moment which everyone needs to experience. Located in Arizona, the Grand Canyon is one of the greatest natural wonders of the world – stretching up to 227 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and over a mile deep.

The Grand Canyon National Park is the perfect location for an adventurous short break where you can explore the beauty of the natural landscape by hiking, cycling or just strolling around the grounds. Make sure to read up on the Grand Canyon’s top tips for staying safe when hiking and cycling – including staying hydrated and wearing proper equipment – and make sure to stick to the park’s planned routes.

For a truly magical way to take in the wonder of the Canyon, we definitely recommend taking a helicopter tour – it may be a little pricey but it is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience which you’ll never forget. The Grand Canyon is extra-beautiful as the sun sets over the purples and greens of the landscape. Head to Point Imperial, the highest point on the North Rim, for a spectacular view of the sunset over the Grand Canyon.

Las Vegas

Las Vegas Strip
Las Vegas Credit: Catriona McGale

There’s nowhere else quite like Las Vegas. The buzzing city is supersized and superfun, from the elaborate casino hotels, to the buffet dinners, to the big names performing Vegas shows and concerts.

While Las Vegas is known for its casinos – which are great fun, there is so much more to Vegas, meaning you don’t need to be a gambling connoisseur to enjoy a Las Vegas break. One of the great things about Vegas is that the grand hotels are open to non-guests to come in and enjoy the casino, pool, restaurant, shows, shops (yes they have all of this in the hotel) – which means you are not just limited to your own hotel facilities.

From Paris to The Venetian to New York, New York, you can travel around the world on a walk down the Vegas strip. You absolutely must take a gondola ride in the Venetian, while thrill seekers should take a ride on New York, New York’s Big Apple Coaster.

The luxurious Bellagio, inspired by the Lake Como town, is another must-visit hotel in Vegas. Make sure to head along for the famous Bellagio Fountain show, which takes place every half an hour in the afternoon and every 15 minutes after 8pm – no doubt you’ll visit more than once.

At night-time, as well as (hopefully) winning some money at the casinos, there is plenty of entertainment on offer across Vegas. Big-name music acts such as Donny and Marie, Celine Dion and Britney Spears can be found performing concerts at some of the city’s top hotels, while you can also experience something completely different with contemporary magic shows and performing arts concerts – such as the famous Blue Man Group and Cirque Du Soleil.

Vegas is also known for its massive all-you-can-eat buffet spreads which you can enjoy for breakfast, lunch and dinner – and as with everything else in Vegas you don’t have to stick to your own hotel’s spread. The Bellagio is again one of the most famed hotels for its buffet – the perfect stop before taking in the dancing fountains.

San Francisco

San Francisco
San Francisco Credit: Catriona McGale

San Francisco is one of the most chilled places in the world. The Californian city was the starting point of the hippie movement in the 1960s and has remained a home of peace and love ever since – a feeling which is ever present when walking the streets of San Francisco.

The city is also known as a forward thinker in LGBT rights, and the city boasts a lively LGBT scene in its two main LGBT districts – Castro District and SoMa. San Francisco is of course famed for its beautiful Golden Gate Bridge – which you must see on a San Francisco break. We recommend taking a night-time open bus tour to see the bridge and the rest of the city lit up.

The city’s coloured houses and cable car transport are also iconic traits of the city, which add to the relaxed atmosphere which is prevalent among the area. The feeling of love in San Francisco is spread further by the annual ‘Hearts in San Francisco’ public art exhibition – the choice of hearts for this exhibition was inspired by the famous Tony Bennet song I Left My Heart in San Francisco.

San Francisco is also home to a beautiful harbor – the bustling Pier 39 is filled with entertainment, shops and restaurants – and you might even spot a sea lion. The food around the pier is delicious – make sure to try some fresh chowder in a bread bowl.

With so many places to explore in the USA why not celebrate US Indepence Day by booking a USA break, or have your own party in the USA with a US inspired bash at home this weekend.

Have you visited the USA before? Let us know your favourite US spots in the comments below.

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