The USA remains one of the most-visited countries in the world, and its most famous destinations – from Disneyland to Las Vegas, LA to NYC – need no introduction. But there’s so much to see across this vast and varied country that today we bring you some popular alternatives to the most obvious attractions:
Kennedy Space Center
Recent years have seen the space program recede somewhat from the public consciousness, but the cosmic successes of America’s astronauts still rank high among those in human history. And, unlike many historic achievements, these journeys into space could well still represent the future of our species.
The best place on our own planet to see the technology which made all this possible is Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Wander around the Rocket Garden, under towering replicas, and get to know the men and women who put themselves on the line in the US Astronauts Hall of Fame. There’s an IMAX cinema on site to simulate space travel, and you can even get close enough to Atlantis (the last of the space shuttles) to see the re-entry scorch marks on the fuselage. It’s one of the most unique experiences you’ll ever have on holiday and a true testament to the American spirit.
Yellowstone National Park
Back to earth in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Yellowstone was both America’s and the world’s first National Park – bursting with 3000 square miles of natural splendour. There’s no better place to see the landscape the pioneers first witnessed, though visitors are warned to stay alert to their guides’ advice – according to 1Cover’s USA guide, there were 91 natural disasters across the country as recently as 2016.
As wonderful as the views are, a substantial part of the park’s character comes from the fact that more than half of the planet’s active geysers and hot springs steam and smoke within its perimeter. As for wildlife, some of the continent’s most iconic creatures – from buffalo to grizzly bears, moose and wolves – can be seen here in a habitat so vast their behaviour is barely impacted by the tourists.
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One of the most colourful cities of the US Deep South, New Orleans offers a vibrancy of spirit which makes it the equal of any community in the country. What’s more, its heritage (from early French and Spanish rule) gives it a flavour unlike any other – the perfect place to sample creole cuisine and zydeco music. The world-famous French Quarter is one of the most historic in the country, but is as far from a museum as possible; with food, drink and song in plentiful supply.
And this is never truer than during Mardi Gras, the two-week carnival which fills the streets as the city’s population doubles each year. With parades featuring jazz bands, masked revellers and gifts thrown from floats, these are wild days – and nights – for both locals and visitors.
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Walt Disney World
Disneyland may have been the original, but the vast expanse of Florida’s Walt Disney World takes their founder’s vision even further. This huge collection of lands brings together the Magic Kingdom, Epcot (the land of the future), and the Animal Kingdom (also containing its own zoo) among many others.
But the real magic of the park – for kids and big kids alike – is just how deeply the park’s design allows visitors to feel like they’ve stepped inside Disney’s cinematic universe. Incredible attractions include everything from the Beast’s Castle (from Beauty and the Beast) to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Ride (from Snow White) – as well as a newly-added Star Wars-themed firework display each night. Add to all that not one but two water parks plus – new for 2018 – Toy Story Land, cleverly built to make visitors feel like they’ve been shrunk to the size of toys themselves.