Written by Elle Pollicott
Have a bit more spare cash than you expected and want to do something different to the typical students interrailing across Europe experience? Or maybe you’re graduating this year and are planning an amazing holiday after you’ve entered the world of work and gotten an actual steady income? Whatever your reasons, the US is an exciting place, that’s more than just the bright lights of New York and sandy beaches of Florida (although they do appear on this list!) Take a look at our top 10 list of US cities that you need to visit in your lifetime!
10. Chicago, Illinois
The third most populous city in the USA after New York and LA, Chicago – dubbed ‘the windy city’ – has lots of attractions to visit. Head to Millenium Park for twenty five acres of stunning architecture, including ‘the bean’ (as shown above); or ride the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier for stunning views over the city and Lake Michigan. During the summer, there are lots of boat rides departing from the pier, which you can either ride to see the sites, or have dinner on-board. Finally, if it’s serious sun-bathing you’re after, heading to Grant Park, often referred to as ‘Chicago’s Front Yard’ – over 300 acres of open grassy, green space.
9. Las Vegas, Nevada
There’s nowhere else in the world quite like Las Vegas, and it promises a holiday like no other! It goes without saying that you need to spend some time in some of the many casinos – including the New York-New York with a Statue of Liberty replica, and the Paris Las Vegas with the replica Eiffel Tower – and make sure you catch at least one show, with everything from musicals to magicians and hypnotists! But what you perhaps didn’t know about Las Vegas is the tacky glitz aside, it’s host to many fine-dining restaurants, with Aureole a firm favourite amongst the beautiful people. End the night with serious partying at one of the many nightclubs Las Vegas has to offer – try VooDoo Rooftop for amazing views of the Strip, located on the 51st floor of the Rio Hotel.
8. San Franciso, California
If you fancy a trip to California, but want a more laid-back experience, then you should definitely pay San Francisco a visit. The beaches can be quite treacherous in Northern California with crashing waves and wind-swept tides. Nevertheless, China Beach and Crissy Field are both beaches in San Francisco that are safe – provided you don’t mind the cold water that is! Two things you absolutely must do in San Francisco is take a walk down Golden Gate Bridge for spectacular views of the city, and catching a ferry to Alcatraz, the infamous island prison where Al Capone was once detained.
7. Boston, Massachusetts
A mere four hours from the bright lights of New York city, Boston is a big city that is often forgotten. Nevertheless, it makes a great place for a city break. There are many museums here, from the Boston Children’s Museum and Open Studios where you can buy directly from the artists, to the Boston Tea Party Museum and Ships, where you can relive the night of 1773 when the American colonists opposed British rule. Boston also has a great nightlife from pubs and clubs to rooftop bars, often complete with pools!
6. Los Angeles, California
Home to many-a-celebrity and all things movies, LA almost doesn’t seem real; just a distant city reported in magazines, where everyone is health and plastic surgery obsessed. But it’s definitely real, and it’s a place you should visit! Go shopping on Rodeo Drive, hang out at celebrity haunts Tavern and Rivabella (FYI they hosted a party for Zooey Deschanel to celebrate her February Glamour cover!). You can also hire a car and have a classic American road trip – discover the beautiful beaches of nearby Malibu; or drive further afield to San Diego, San Francisco and Sacramento, stopping off at some motels along the way!
5. Seattle, Washington
Catch a ferry to one of the many surrounding islands – it’s just a 35 minute ride from the main terminal to Bainbridge Island where you can browse in the shops, see the galleries and stop for lunch; or if you’ve got a full day to spare, catch the San Juan island ferries, stopping off at all four islands. Watch a production from the Pacific Northwest Ballet – known as one of the most renowned companies in all of America – climb to the top of the Smith Tower to take in views of the city, and dine at the SkyCity restaurant at the top of the Space Needle. Finally, Seattle’s North West position means it’s bordering Canada, with Vancouver a mere three hours away – perfect for a quick trip to Canada!
4. Manhattan, New York
Granted, this is the place everyone wants to visit, and the city most people visit first in the US (myself included). But seriously, this is the city that never sleeps and there are tons of things to do – from gazing at the awe-inspiring views at the top of the Empire State Building, taking a boat out to the Statue of Liberty and visiting Times Square. Of course, you’ll need to visit the three B’s while you’re out there (Barney’s, Bendel’s and Bergdorf’s of course!) and go shopping at Forever 21 at midnight. Or you could even laze around in Sheep Meadow on a sunny day pretending you’re in the cast of Gossip Girl.
3. Atlanta, Georgia
Perhaps most famed for its aquarium, or waiting there in transit (Atlanta airport is the busiest in the whole of the USA, serving almost 46million passengers in 2012). However, there’s lots of things to do in this capital – make like a local and people-watch in Decatur Square, or catch a movie at Starlight Six Drive-In, named as one of America’s ‘5 Coolest Drive-Ins’ by Details Magazine. If it’s retail therapy you’re after, head to outdoor mall Atlantic Station, offering shops, restaurants and a ‘Central Park’ – also often playing host to Cirque de Soleil. If you’re feeling adventurous, travel across the border to neighbour Alabama and visit the capital Montgomery – just two and a half hours away – to discover the true meaning of the ‘deep South’.
2. Miami, Florida
If you want to lounge around on a beach in serious style, then Miami is the place for you. Head to Miami Beach to spot celebrities, or try the tranquil Key Biscayne if you want peace and quiet. Rollerblade down Ocean Drive whilst taking in all the art-deco buildings for a stereotypical Miami experience; go shopping at Aventura Mall (home to Bloomingdales and Macy’s), then party all night in your new purchases at the swanky clubs of South Beach – SL Miami and Cameo are particularly popular. If you’re looking to embrace your inner child, Orlando is a three hour drive away or a short flight; so you can always spend a couple of days at Disney World!
1. Dallas, Texas
“Everything is bigger in Texas" is a phrase that’s often thrown around a lot, but it’s definitely true. Dallas is the 10th richest city in the world, home to many billionaires, and the towering sky scrapers certainly reflects this. There are many parks to spend an afternoon in, including Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens and White Rock Lake Park. As you can imagine, the shopping in Dallas is pretty amazing too with tons of boutiques and malls – including shops such as ‘Cowboy Cool’ and ‘Wild Bill’s Western Store’! Its central location makes it easy to travel round Texas – hire a car and drive to Houston and capital Austin, both three and a half hours away.
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