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Why I love America




America contains multitudes. Few countries on Earth are as colossal or fantastically diverse as the USA

and you’ll find attractions for every kind of traveller laid out from coast to coast.


The cities alone could fill entire bucket lists. You can lose yourself between the cloud-kissing skyscrapers

of New York, whose concrete jungle you’ll have seen in movies before ever crossing the pond. Or feel the

soul-stirring pulse of a jazz band down in New Orleans. Or hop between world-renowned museums on

DC’s National Mall. Or gaze at the Pacific Ocean from Los Angeles’ sand-trimmed shores. Then there are

the small towns – which unfold draped in Spanish moss in the South, or spring up among snow-crested

mountains in the Pacific Northwest, or play out by the rugged Atlantic coast in New England..


Mother Nature puts on a show too. Mountains, deserts, glaciers, rainforests, waterfalls, swamps – it’s all

here. You can ski and surf in a single day in California, or hike and snowshoe in the same afternoon in

Oregon. The Grand Canyon swoops across northern Arizona, carved out by the Colorado River over

millions of years, while geysers and hot springs burn and bubble in Yellowstone National Park. Alligators

lurk amid the mangroves in South Florida’s Everglades and grizzly bears hulk across Alaska’s titanic

wildernesses – from Denali to Kenai Fjords.


For all the big hitters, great swathes of the USA still remain under-the-radar. Beyond the Big Apple,

upstate New York reveals itself in a bounty of lakes, waterfalls and forested peaks, and otherworldly

badlands ripple across little-visited North and South Dakota. Georgia’s Golden Isles are all blonde sand

and moss-covered oak trees, while you’ll find prized institutions like the First Americans Museum in

Oklahoma City.





Above all else, America is the land of the road trip. Legendary Route 66 strikes a diagonal line west

across the country, travelling from Chicago to Santa Monica via neon-drenched diners, Americana-filled

museums and wide open backcountry. Highway 1 hugs the Pacific Coast in California, skirting ochre

cliffs and revealing laid-back beach towns and stellar wine country. And the Natchez Trace Parkway

snakes through the South, from Nashville, Tennessee down to quaint Natchez, Mississippi itself.

You’ll not go hungry either. Food nourishes the USA’s soul and everything from the all-American

hamburger (New Haven, Connecticut) to deep-dish pizza (Chicago, Illinois) to Buffalo wings (Buffalo,

New York) was invented here. Feast on buttery, boat-fresh lobster rolls in Maine; dive into a plate of

melt-in-your-mouth brisket at a Texan barbecue joint; sample Tex-Mex in San Antonio and Sonoran-style

dishes in Tucson. You could plan entire trips around the USA’s drinks scene too. You’ll drink

Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from California’s Napa to Oregon’s Willamette Valley or swill Viognier in

Virginia. The bourbon trail beats a path across bucolic Kentucky, while everywhere from Asheville,

North Carolina to Bend, Oregon claims it has the country’s best beer.


All this plays out against an epic soundtrack too. Blues in Mississippi; motown in Detroit; grunge in

Seattle; country in Tennessee – so much of the USA’s story can be told through its music, and you can

move to the USA’s distinct beat everywhere from a Nashville honky tonk to a snug Clarksdale blues

joint.


Whatever’s on your travel wish list, the USA will surely deliver – and then some.


Jacqui Agate is the North America Travel Editor at Wanderlust magazine.

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