USA Travel Guide
This is the United States, an immense land that boasts diversity in its people, its wildlife and its landscapes. Make your way from the glistening beaches and wind-battered coasts to cities that eventually give way to wide open spaces where mountains, impressive monoliths, endless plains, beautiful lakes and charming towns await. A coast to coast exploration is absolutely necessary.
Few cities in the US can compete with the electric vibe of New Orleans. This Louisiana city is home to jazz music, the Creole and Cajun cultures, and the biggest Mardi Gras celebration in the country. A visit here is essential, especially if to experience a different culture, rub elbows with the locals, and feast on Cajun dishes. Make sure you join a Second Line Parade and consume a few beignets.
Is San Francisco in your sights? Home to the Golden Gate Bridge, an almost supernatural fog that never seems to disappear and colourful neighbourhoods are just a few of the sights you will encounter. There’s also Alcatraz Island, site of the notorious former prison that beckons for exploration. If time allows, you can continue the road trip down to Los Angeles or visit neighbouring Sacramento.
The Grand Canyon
How exactly the Grand Canyon was formed is still up for debate. The undisputed fact, however, is that this herculean landmark in the United States is one of the biggest, deepest and most spectacular canyons in the world. Visits to its north and south rims are an absolute must, as is a hike or two to the bottom if you can carve out the time. Stay for two or three days to see the highlights.
Grand Teton National Park
Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is home to one of the most striking landmarks in the United States. The Grand Tetons may be young, but it’s no less staggering than its older counterparts. Its incredible jagged peaks dominate the valley and have been the venue for many hiking or rock climbing excursions. It’s also beautiful year round, and Jackson Hole itself is home to the best snow in the US.
The Big Island of Hawaii
Though more than five hours away from Los Angeles by plane, the Hawaiian islands are worth their weight in gold. The Big Island of Hawaii, specifically, is full of places worth pulling over for: the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park where lava actively flows, the lush Waipio Valley, the Mauna Kea observatories and the Thurston Lava Tube. Turtle-frequented beaches and waterfalls can easily be found.
The National Mall
Whatever the current political climate, Washington, D.C. continues to be one of the most impressive cities in the US. The National Mall, the manicured area in the heart of the city, is home to beautiful landmarks such as the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, the Reflecting Pool and the State Capitol and a number of museums. The White House is a stone’s throw away, so make sure you stop by.
Sandwiched between Canada and Mexico, the North Pacific and the North Atlantic, the US is a massive country in North America. From London, its northeastern region is an 8h nonstop flight. From Sydney, the Pacific coast is a 14h flight.
Washington, D.C. is the capital city of the United States. It is nestled between the states of Virginia and Maryland, and it boasts some of the most beautiful and historic architectural structures in the country.
There are many hubs for domestic and international flights in the US. Two of its busiest are John F. Kennedy International Airport, 19 miles away from Manhattan, and Los Angeles International Airport, about 15 miles away from downtown Los Angeles.
The official language of the United States is English, with Spanish being the second most common language.
The United States uses the US Dollar. The currency code is USD. While there are a few businesses that are cash only, credit and debit cards are generally accepted in the whole country. ATM machines are everywhere except in the most remote areas.
Citizens of several countries are able to travel visa-free to the US for 90 days or less. These countries include Australia and New Zealand, and the UK, however, visitors will need to apply for The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). Check with your embassy for the most up to date information.
The United States uses the 110V/60Hz electrical voltage and frequency. The standard plugs are those with two flat parallel pins and those with two flat pins and a third round grounding pin. Check to see if you need an adapter and a converter.
There are currently no vaccination requirements for travellers visiting the United States. Infectious disease outbreaks are uncommon, but they can happen. Check Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website to stay informed.
For emergencies, dial 911. This number is for the police or an ambulance, or in case of fire.
When to Visit
FAQs about the USA
Do you tip in the USA?
Absolutely. The tipping culture in the United States, while not exactly mandatory, is very much expected. A 15% to 20% tip at restaurants, cafes, salons and spas is standard, while a $1 per drink tip for bartenders is the norm.
What is the internet access like?
Though it can range in quality, a good Internet connection in the United States is pretty common. Internet cafes are not as prevalent, but coffee shops and many fast-food restaurants offer free access to customers.
Is the tap water safe to drink?
Definitely. Thanks to the Safe Drinking Water Act, tap water everywhere in the country is safe to drink even in large cities in New York and Los Angeles.
Can I use my credit cards?
Though there are establishments and businesses that are cash only, credit cards are widely accepted in the US. Visa and Mastercard are the most popular, but many also accept American Express, Discover and Diners Club.
What are the public holidays?
Federal holidays include MLK Day on January 15, Memorial Day on the last Monday of May, Independence Day on July 4, Labour Day on the first Monday of September, Veteran’s Day on November 11, and Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November.
What are the toilets like?
Most of the United States, even in some of the remote areas, use modern toilet facilities. Public restrooms are also common. Keep in mind, however, that you will encounter vault toilets, which are popular in national parks and many campgrounds.
Is it safe to travel to the United States?
The United States is one of the safest places for tourists to visit. However, do exercise common sense when walking around in the big cities at night.
Will I need to rent a car?
There is a fairly extensive network of buses and trains that connect major cities, but service can be limited. A car is your best bet for convenience, except in New York City and San Francisco where parking is limited. Another option is to join a tour that takes care of your transportation needs.