Sonoran Desert, Arizona (Shutterstock)

United States of America


United States of America

Your full Wanderlust guide to travel in the United States...

As the third-largest country in the world, it’s hard to find a more varied landscape than the United States of America. From the glaciers of Alaska to the deserts of Arizona, the sun-soaked beaches of California, Florida and Hawaii, to the majestic Rocky Mountains, travel in the USA is nothing short of spectacular.

If you’ve got a set of wheels, cruise across the country on the legendary Route 66 and stop off in Amarillo for a traditional steak. Try your hand at luck in the infamous casinos of Las Vegas, visit America’s history at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in North Carolina, or witness the staggering views of the Grand Canyon.

See the geysers of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, and brush shoulders with the stars in Los Angeles. Whatever your scene, you can find it in America – and plenty more besides…

When to go to the USA

The best time to visit is entirely dependant on what you want to do. Summer is the brightest time in Northern areas, and the main holiday season stretches from May to August. Ski resorts pick up in the winter, and visiting the country in the spring or autumn periods can avoid the extremes of temperature.

Road tripping

The United States is perfect for road trips; the roads are long, wide, straight, and the landscapes absolutely breathtaking. Do the epic journey across Route 66, or whichever Interstate grabs you.

Top tip

If you aren't keen on driving cliff sides, you may want to avoid the coastal roads of California.

Wildlife, nature and national parks

Make touring the United States' impressive network of national parks even better with a discount pass. As well as Yosemite and Yellowstone, Arches in Utah and Badlands in South Dakota are underrated parks with stunning landscapes that you would never find elsewhere.

Top tip

Be bear-aware. If you're staying in a national park, especially if you are camping, make sure you are fully clued-up on camping etiquette to avoid an extra tent-mate in the middle of the night. Read a bear guide for the area, avoid perfumes and body sprays, don't eat food in your tent and keep all food and cooking equipment in a locked car away from tents.

City breaks

Spend time in New York, the city that never sleeps; brush shoulders with the stars in Hollywood; follow the trails of the Beat Poets in San Francisco; or explore the musical history of Seattle...

Getting there and around

Atlanta, Georgia: Hartsfield-Jackson International (ATL)
Boston, Massachusetts: Logan International (BOS)
Chicago, Illinois: O’Hare International (ORD)
Dallas, Texas: Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW)
Oahu, Hawaii: Honolulu Airport (HNL)
Houston, Texas: George Bush Intercontinental (IAH)
Los Angeles, California: Los Angeles International (LAX)
Miami, Florida: Miami Airport (MIA)
Manhattan, New York: John F Kennedy (JFK)
Newark, New Jersey: Newark Liberty International (EWR)
San Francisco, California: San Francisco International (SFO)
SeaTac, Washington: Seattle-Tacoma International (SEA)
Washington DC: Dulles International (IAD)

 

Domestic flights
There are thousands of domestic flights a day which, although potentially costly, are a quick way to get from A to B.

Buses
There are several major bus companies providing cheap, efficient travel; Greyhound buses serve many of the larger towns and cities, and tickets can be booked in advance. The smaller Trailways company can be slightly cheaper and reaches to some remote places not covered by Greyhound.

Car rental
Car rental is easily available and is a competitive market in the USA, but most companies won't rent to under 25s and none to under 21s.

Train
There is a fairly extensive rail network but compared to other transportation this can be both costly and timely – one of the benefits however is it allows you to see the scenery in comfort. Localised transport is generally efficient and reliable.

 

Facts and figures

Capital
Washington DC

Population
327 million

Languages
English (official). English is the predominant language. Over 12% of the population speak Spanish. Eight states and territories are officially bilingual.

Time zones
Eastern (EST) GMT-5 (EDT) GMT-4
Central (CST) GMT-6 (CDT) GMT-5
Mountain (MST) GMT-7 (MDT) GMT-6
Pacific (PST) GMT-8 (PST) GMT-7
Alaskan (AKST) GMT-9 (AKDT) GMT-8
Hawaii (HST) GMT-10

Intl dialling code
+1

Money
American Dollar (USD). Tipping of 15% is expected by restaurant staff, who do not add a service charge to the bill, and also by taxi drivers.

Voltage
120V 60Hz A&B

Visas
Find out more about obtaining a visa.

For the latest United States travel advice, check the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

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