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The 50 highlights of America, state by state (part 9)


47. A voracious state, San Francisco, California

Of all the US’s gastronomic hotspots like the food trucks of Portland, Oregon, the barbecue joints of Austin, the fine-dining of NYC, perhaps none are more exciting than San Francisco. This city is obsessed with food, boasting a phenomenal amount of restaurants making the best of local produce from both land and sea, as well as wines from Napa and Sonoma valleys.

Visit Chinatown for excellent Asian cuisine. For authentic food from Central and South America, head to the Mission District. For fresh ingredients, go to the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Markets on Tuesdays, Thursday, and Saturdays.

48. A carefree state, Las Vegas, Nevada

There’s a funny thing that happens in Las Vegas: time becomes irrelevant and the outside world seems not to exist with all of your normal concerns and responsibilities fading away. This is such a hedonistic paradise that nothing seems to matter.

Las Vegas offers a worry-free life, and there’s nothing much more than gambling. It also has fine-dining restaurants manned by master chefs as well as concerts and musicals featuring the biggest names in the business; not to mention its parks, art galleries, racing tracks, day spas, golf courses, nightclubs and more.

49. An enlightened state, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC

There are some museums that take days of your time to explore, some only require a few hours. And Washington DC‘s Smithsonian Institution is the first case. It is the world’s largest museum, education and research complex, a fascinating network of 19 museums and galleries. You could spend weeks there and still not have seen everything of interest.

50. A festive state, New Orleans, Louisiana

There are plenty of official festivals taking place in New Orleans: the Wine and Food Experience, the Jazz & Heritage Festival, the French Quarter Fest, the Carnaval Latino, the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience, and the legendary Mardi Gras. In fact it is extremely unlucky if you visit New Orleans when there isn’t a festival on.

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The 50 highlights of America, state by state (part 8)

42. An intrepid state, Whitewater rafting, Oregon

Rushing rivers and spectacular mountain scenery of Oregon are perfect for long whitewater rafting adventures, involving white-knuckle rides down rapids on the day, and meals around the campfire by night.

43. A wild state, Cruise the Alaskan coast


Alaskan coast

So many visitors to Alaska choose to take cruisetours – combination cruise and land-holiday packages. Cruisetours offer all the expected cruise ship amenities, for example, myriad activities at each port of call.

44. A watery state, Surfing in Hawaii

For beginner surfers, Hawaii has places for you to whet your gnarly appetite. The professional surfers would like to reach world-famous North Shore breaks like Sunset Beach and Pipeline. Don’t afraid because there are always learner-friendly waves that are lapping the shore at Waikiki.

45. An inspired state, National parks of Utah

Anyone suffering a case of writer’s block, or a mid-life crisis can’t fail to be inspired by the “Mighty 5” national parks of Utah with some of the most spectacular landscapes on the planet. And we all will be truly moved by the natural magnificence on display when discovering places such as Arches, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef.

Arches offers dramatic rock formations, waves, and curves, that have been sculpted for hundreds of millions of years. Canyonlands, formed by tributaries of the Green and Colorado Rivers, is all about those eponymous gorges. Zion has its emerald pools, and Bryce Canyon rivals the Grand Canyon for jaw-dropping beauty. Yyou can hike or raft or bike, and spend the night under canvas at all of these locations.

46. A momentous state, Kennedy Space Centre, Florida

Kennedy Space Centre, the NASA base near Orlando, Florida is the place where the most famous space missions of the US have erupted into life, including the first manned flight to the moon Apollo. It is not only a historical tour but also a visit to a working launch pad.

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The 50 highlights of America, state by state (part 7)

35. An aimless state, Road trip, everywhere

If you have enough free time and have no idea how to fill it, or just want to appreciate the US at its best, you should hire a car, just fill it with petrol, and drive. The US is especially made for road-tripping.

36. A sun-kissed state, Florida Keys

Florida Keys

Head to the Florida Keys, a series of sun-kissed islands which can attract all manner of characters, to enjoy permanent downtime and check out from mainstream society.

37. An independent state, Big Sur Coast Highway, California

Big Sur Coast Highway, the perfect place for independent travellers, offers world-class scenic driving, and a host of beaches, national parks and reserves to get out and explore, as well as charming towns to spend the night.

38. A freewheeling state, Route 66

Route 66 is one of the great road trips in the world, and the perfect itinerary for ones with permanently itchy feet. It takes visitors on a 3940-kilometre journey from Chicago to Santa Monica, calling past all the truckstops, motels, and diners you can handle.

39. An exerted state, Appalachian Trail

Appalachian Trail is the longest hiking-only trail of the world. It is a beautiful behemoth which stretches 3525 kilometres across 14 states from the north (Maine) to the south (Georgi).

40. An outrageous state, Burning Man, Nevada

Every August for the last three decades, a huge tribe of drop-outs and drifters, creatives and crafters, hippies and artists, and a lot of normal people that just want to get away from polite society, has headed to the Nevada desert for the week-long Burning Man festival.

41. A frozen state, Skiing and snowboarding

There are a lot of great places to ski and snowboard in the US due to its mountains stretching from New Hampshire in the east to Lake Tahoe in the west. However, the best spots can be found in the middle: Aspen in Colorado, Jackson Hole in Wyoming, and Park City in Utah.

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10 tips for organizing a US sports trip (part 3)

4. Tailgate

Tailgating is one of the American sporting traditions when fans gather in the school grounds or car parks outside sporting venues, usually behind their parked car (hence the tailgate moniker), to cook food, drink beer, and play corn toss. Tailgating is most commonly associated with football and fans’ party atmosphere outside these games creates a great buzz.

It’s unlikely you will be traveling by car that is loaded with a barbecue and supplies on holiday; however, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out. Almost US sports fans are very friendly, approachable, and accommodating. You can also bring along some beers and gatecrash!

5. Catch the anthem

If you go with an anti-American mate, this is the time to convince them to stop talking about cultural imperialism for a second.

Quite simply, the Star Spangled Banner’s performance before each game is really a spectacle in itself. At some cities such as Soldier Field in Chicago, the performance will be punctuated by an aircraft flying over. In other cities, fireworks explode when the singer hits “the rockets red glare”. Otherwise, at the United Centre for Blackhawks games, the crowd of fans will cheer the entire time when Jim Cornelius sings the anthem while in Portland, the soccer fans sing the anthem entirely themselves.

These are the special moments that you don’t want to miss, showing that the pride in their country of American people is quite literally hair-raising in such a good way.

6. Older the better

Although America is considered as a big, bombastic, and flashy country, one of its greatest appeals as a tourism destination is the way it celebrates and commemorates its history. A trip to its enthralling museums like the JFK Museum in Dallas or the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis will show you how respectfully this country treats its past.

The same goes for sport. Immaculately restored, Fenway Park – the oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball – is uniquely configured with its high green wall jutting out behind left field as well as its old seats still facing forwards towards the ground instead of towards the plate.

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The 50 highlights of America, state by state (part 6)

29. A theatrical state, Broadway, New York City

Broadway, New York Cityis one of the most famous theatre districts in the world that plays host nightly to star-studded productions of all budgets and genres, from contemporary titles like Hamilton and Groundhog Day, to classics such as Phantom of the Opera and Cats.

30. A respectful state, Martin Luther King Jr Historic Site, Atlanta, Georgia

Martin Luther King Jr Historic Site, dedicated to one of the most influential figures in the history of America, is a moving tribute to the man who was so famous for having a dream, and going so far towards achieving it. This is deservedly the No.1 tourist destination of Atlanta.

31. An artistic state, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) in New York City is one of the great museums of the world, and the largest art museum in the US. There are more than 2 million works in the permanent collection such as a complete Egyptian temple and artifacts from ancient Greece and Rome.

32. A star-studded state, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California

Although Hollywood Boulevard is a little tacky and rundown, there is still an undeniable buzz that you can get from visiting this famous pocket of Los Angeles. There are a lot of sights that make you feel you’re on a film set: the Hollywood sign, the Sunset Strip, the Hollywood Hills, the Capitol Records building.

33. A relaxed state, Big Island, Hawaii

The “Big Island” of Hawaii is really the Hawaii of your dreams, a stunningly beautiful place in which you can find up to eight of the 13 climate zones of the world among its mountains, oceans, and plains. The people here is friendly and the pace is slow.

34. A reverential state, the Masters, Georgia

Some people make spiritual pilgrimages to burial sites, churches, or old buildings. Meanwhile, golf fans make their journey each April to Georgia to witness the Masters – one of the world’s great sporting events.

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The 50 highlights of America, state by state (part 5)

23. A sporty state, Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois

Baseball in the USA is a spectator experience which is built around excited rituals, from the national anthem to the hotdog and the beer to the “seventh-inning stretch”. Wrigley Field of Chicago, the 103-year-old home of the Cubs, may be the most traditional US baseball stadiums.

24. A playful state, Orlando, Florida

All kids, whether big or small, seem to have a whale of a time in Orlando of  Florida, the home to theme parks like Disneyworld, Universal Studios, Legoland, SeaWorld, and the Epcot Centre. Prepare to spend plenty of time on rollercoasters, in queues, and other rides.

25. A heritage state, Historical sights of Massachusetts

People who are interested in the earliest days of the USA should visit Massachusetts’ historical areas such as Lexington and Concord, where the American Revolutionary War’s first shots were fired, and Plymouth, where the Pilgrim Fathers landed.

26. A melodious state, Graceland, Tennessee

The former home of Elvis Presley draws travelers from far and wide, who firstly come for the King’s history, but stay for Memphis’ modern-day charms, where the musical legacy of Elvis lives on in the blues and  rock’n’roll bars which are scattered throughout.

27. A wagering state, Kentucky Derby, Louisville

Head on to the US’s richest horse race – the Kentucky Derby – then bet the house on your favourite nag. Gambling aside, this is a really huge entertaining spectacle, an event which is steeped in history and soaked in booze.

28. A celebratory state, Nashville, Tennessee

There are so many things to celebrate on a nightly basis in this “Music City”, whether you love country-fried tunes, boot-scootin’, or you’re more interested in rock, whether you want to visit a cutting-edge live venue or a classic old music hall. If you are a music lover, you’ll be celebrating every night in Nashville.

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The 50 highlights of America, state by state (part 4)

17. A wealthy state, East Hampton, New York State

When it comes to a brief brush with New York City royalty, throw a Ralph Lauren jumper around your shoulders, slip on some boat shoes and head to East Hampton, which is the sunny playground for the rich and fabulous city. And make sure to pack credit cards.

18. An altered state, Roswell, New Mexico

Why do aliens seem to abduct Americans? You can ponder that in the most UFO-obsessed town of the US, Roswell, in New Mexico, the home to a supposed extraterrestrial sighting, and the place where every place from the clothing stores to the restaurants has a UFO theme.

19. An emboldened state, Miami Beach, Florida

It takes confidence to break out your smalls at Miami Beach, Florida. This is the home of the beautiful and the buff, of year-round tans which are scribbled with tattoos. This is also one perfect place for a holiday in the sun, and if you get tired of the beach, there are excellent Cuban restaurants nearby.

20. A nostalgic state, Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina has a lot of down-home southern charm, the old homes and historic civic buildings, the restaurants dishing up large servings of southern hospitality, the carriage rides through quiet streets, and the easy and friendly attitude.

21. An innovative state, Silicon Valley, California

Most of the icons which you stare at on your phone daily come from Silicon Valley, in Mountain View, California. Check out the worldwide headquarters of Facebook, Apple, eBay, Google, and more.

22. A creepy state, Blackout Haunted House, New York and Los Angeles

Known as the “world’s most hardcore haunted house”, Blackout Haunted House gives an immersive, adults-only horror experience which will scare even the hardiest participants. It is as much performance art as it is a game and takes place sporadically in both New York and Los Angeles.

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The 50 highlights of America, state by state (part 4)

17. A wealthy state, East Hampton, New York State

When it comes to a brief brush with New York City royalty, throw a Ralph Lauren jumper around your shoulders, slip on some boat shoes and head to East Hampton, which is the sunny playground for the rich and fabulous city. And make sure to pack credit cards.

18. An altered state, Roswell, New Mexico

Why do aliens seem to abduct Americans? You can ponder that in the most UFO-obsessed town of the US, Roswell, in New Mexico, the home to a supposed extraterrestrial sighting, and the place where every place from the clothing stores to the restaurants has a UFO theme.

19. An emboldened state, Miami Beach, Florida

It takes confidence to break out your smalls at Miami Beach, Florida. This is the home of the beautiful and the buff, of year-round tans which are scribbled with tattoos. This is also one perfect place for a holiday in the sun, and if you get tired of the beach, there are excellent Cuban restaurants nearby.

20. A nostalgic state, Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina has a lot of down-home southern charm, the old homes and historic civic buildings, the restaurants dishing up large servings of southern hospitality, the carriage rides through quiet streets, and the easy and friendly attitude.

21. An innovative state, Silicon Valley, California

Most of the icons which you stare at on your phone daily come from Silicon Valley, in Mountain View, California. Check out the worldwide headquarters of Facebook, Apple, eBay, Google, and more.

22. A creepy state, Blackout Haunted House, New York and Los Angeles

Known as the “world’s most hardcore haunted house”, Blackout Haunted House gives an immersive, adults-only horror experience which will scare even the hardiest participants. It is as much performance art as it is a game and takes place sporadically in both New York and Los Angeles.

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The 50 highlights of America, state by state (part 3)

10. A touristy state, Statue of Liberty, New York City

The Statue of Liberty seems to be the most famous destination for tourists to visit in the US. It is also worthy to effort for bragging rights alone.

11. A stylish state, 5th Avenue, New York City

If you’re the type of traveler who sees Jimmy Choo and thinks, “Bargain!”, who won’t break the bank at De Beers, who’s in the market for Armani, there’s nowhere suitable for you but the 5th Avenue of New York. It’s really a great experience, even for window shoppers.

12. A frivolous state, Atlantic City, New Jersey

If your style is to chuck money away in a hedonistic paradise, then you should travel to Atlantic City, the paradise of the former gangsters on the Jersey Shore. Atlantic City is no longer what it used to be, however, the beaches are clean, the casinos open, and the boardwalks historic.

13. A daring state, Boulder, Colorado

There are few cities which can match the outdoor lifestyle enjoyed by Boulder, Colorado’s residents. On weekends, they go camping, hiking, or rock-climbing, or mountain-biking. If you’re not spending your spare time on doing something scary or outdoorsy, you’re really not living the Boulder dream.

14. An outlandish state, Portland, Oregon

The famous slogan “keep Portland weird” shows everything you need to know about Portland, Oregon. This city is the perfect destination for people who feel like eating ethically, dressing outlandishly, and partying heartily with like-minded folk.

15. A creative state, Detroit, Michigan

Formerly, Detroit, Michigan was known as “Motor City”. After the car industry had collapsed, it was known for little more than shattered dreams and deserted homes. However, these days, the city has become a hub for arts and creatives, with repurposed warehouse spaces, community gatherings, and public artworks.

16. A social state, Atlanta, Georgia

The USA has so many cities which know how to party. However, one of the most surprising hotpots is Atlanta, the city with a friendly and thriving nightlife scene.

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10 tips for organizing a US sports trip (part 2)

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2. Citi Field, not Yankees Stadium

If you’re going to the United States, you’re usually going to make it to New York City. And if it’s a summer trip, there are some more unquestionable New York experiences than catching a ballgame.

Yankees Stadium has such a huge lure of to tourists. And the Bronx Bombers are one of the world’s most recognizable sporting franchises with their fans being among the most passionate.

It is no doubt that you will have a great time heading up to the Bronx Bombers  for the game and the atmosphere here won’t make you disappointed. However, the truth is that Yankees, the new stadium, isn’t the best ballpark in New York. The new ballpark, opened in 2009 and equipped with a host of luxury trappings, seems more like one of the most beautiful shopping malls in the United States. Therefore, it sometimes makes the game on the field feel like an afterthought.

While it’s more fun to come back home than watching a Yankees game, the New York Mets Citi Field in Queens, where the game itself is the attraction, is one of the finest ballparks in the United States.

3. Behind the goal not on the side

When it comes to baseball, the closer to the homeplate you are, the better the atmosphere is going to be. When it comes to a football game, it’s hard to score a bad seat. You’ll be able to get a good view of all action of the game from the side of a game.

For hockey, you should try to get seats behind one of the goals. The hockey game can move very fast and the action can be much harder to follow when you have to look down low on one of the sides through two plates of glass.

For basketball, you should get seats which are as close to courtside as possible. However, that can be costly if it is a major franchise such as the Knicks or the Lakers.

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