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By Camp America on 03/06/2019
From the bright lights of Vegas and New York, the music loving cities of Nashville and New Orleans, to the sandy beaches of Miami and San Diego, it’s fair to say you won’t be short of opportunities when travelling the US. Each city is ultimately a world of its own, waiting for you to explore!
With SO many cities to choose from, we thought we’d narrow it down to our top 5 and give you some recommendations of things to see and do there, this summer!
1. New York City
“CONCRETE JUNGLE WHERE DREAMS ARE MADE OF…” c’mon, admit it. You totally sing that song when you hear the words ‘New York’, we totally do.
It really is a concrete jungle, with one of the most impressive and most well-known skylines, you can guarantee to be amazed by towering skyscrapers amongst some of the world’s most iconic landmarks. If you want to experience the skyline in all its glory, we recommend either walking across Brooklyn Bridge (ticking off a landmark on route) to Brooklyn Bridge park OR catch the ferry across to Governors Island (only $3 or free on weekends before noon) – both will provide different, but unbeatable views of the New York skyline.
We also recommend seeing the city from above. Whether you choose to visit the Empire State, Top of the Rock or One World, you won’t be disappointed. Our best bit of advice would be to book your visit for around 7pm, that way you’re there for daylight, sunset and night – all in one price!
Obviously, a trip to the city isn’t complete without a visit to Times Square – it’s here you’ll understand why New York is called ‘the city that never sleeps’, be sure to visit at daytime and night-time. Whilst you’re in Times Square, make a trip to the TKTS booth and grab yourself some bargain tickets to a Broadway production – whether you’re a theatre fan or not, a show should be on your list!
Also be sure to visit Central Park and High Line, two public parks in the heart of the city yet being able to provide an escape from the buzz elsewhere - allowing you to explore at your own pace amongst beautiful scenery and guess what, at no cost because both are free to visit!
2. Los Angeles
Being the centre of the nations film and television centre, it’s important you keep your eyes peeled every second of your time in LA as you never know who you’ll bump into, or what iconic landmark you’ll come across as you wander around the city.
Our must visit areas of this famous city are Hollywood Boulevard, the Hollywood sign and Runyon Canyon Park.
Hollywood Boulevard is your chance to be up close and personal with over 2000 famous names (literally just their names, on a pink star on the ‘sidewalk’) but it’s worth it!
You can’t go to LA without seeing the Hollywood sign. You can see it from pretty much everywhere but seeing it up close can be tricky, our best advice is to head up to Griffith Observatory as you can get fantastic views of it from there.
If you want a sense of adventure in the city then definitely set off on a hike up Runyon Canyon (we recommend a sunrise or sunset hike) – you can get incredible views of the city from up there, and again keep your eyes peeled for some famous faces as it’s a well-known hike for all.
Away from the bustling city, Los Angeles is home to 75 miles of sunny coastline; we recommend a visit to the famous Venice beach and Santa Monica beach, or if you want to make a day of it around the beaches, hire a bike and cycle the coastline – it’s beautiful!
Whilst you’re in the area and making the way to our next favourite city, why not take the Pacific Coast Highway and be blown away by one of the greatest road trips in the world. Take it slow and appreciate the journey, because it’s not often you’ll experience such beautiful scenery like this! It takes around 9 hours to drive non-stop, so we recommend utilising the route and stopping off along the way at some of California’s other well-known areas such as Santa Barbara, the Big Sur and Santa Cruz.
3. San Francisco
The Golden Gate city is a must visit on your trip to the USA. Home to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge (which is red/orange, not gold…in case you didn’t know) and the famous former prison, Alcatraz.
You can’t go to San Francisco without visiting and walking across the Golden Gate bridge but be sure to plan how you’re going to get there as it’s trickier to get to than you’d expect! If you want to get some epic photos of the bridge head to Marin Headlands, Fort Point National Historic Site, Crissy Field or Golden Gate Overlook – each provide fantastic views of the bridge, from different perspectives.
If you want to visit Alcatraz (which we recommend) then our best bit of advice is to book in advance! Honestly, this place books up fast so don’t think you could just rock up and join a tour on the day because that won’t happen! Alcatraz tours allow you to explore where the prisoners once lived, and you can actually book onto an audio tour which allows you to hear the stories of life inside from former inmates!!
Whilst you’re in the area for pick-up/drop off the tour, be sure to visit Fisherman’s Wharf just down the road. You’ll be spoilt with opportunities to shop, eat and be entertained but more importantly, you’ll be able to enjoy and snap photos of the famous sealions of Pier 39 – such an incredible sight.
Our last recommendation is to definitely take a trip on one of the city’s famous Cable Cars, they offer unforgettable trips, with unforgettable views which also cut out the need to walk up the steep hills of the city. Try and get towards the end of the queue for your car because that means you can be the ones that hang on to the poles on the sides, meaning you get the most thrilling experience!
Otherwise known as Music City, you won’t be short of opportunities for live music here! The music scene is second to none; obviously the city is known for its country scene, but whatever you are in the mood to hear, you’ll be able to find in music city.
If you’re a fan of country music, you definitely won’t be short of things to do.
We 100 % recommend a trip to the Grand Ole Opry; the longest running radio broadcast in the US that honours and showcases weekly concerts to a live and radio audience. You can get tickets for around $40 and up, but the great thing is you can see the line up in advance and book to see famous faces of your choice. If you do book to attend the show and are a fan of country music, we recommend making the most of your visit whilst you’re there and book a backstage tour to find out more about the people, places and stories behind ‘the show that made country music famous’ – you even get to stand and take a picture on the iconic circle, where all your favourite country artists have once stood!
Again, for all you country fans a trip to the Country Music Hall of Fame Museum is worth a visit – telling the story of country music and showcasing a range of exhibits that are not just visual, but interactive. From here, you can book an add on to your admission ticket and book yourself onto the Historic RCA Studio B tour, the recording home of popular musicians, best known for Elvis Presley.
If you are a hardcore country fan, or really into your music then we recommend visiting the above attractions, which we think is best booked on through Nashville’s Total Access Pass where you can visit 6 attractions for $75 – the above of which are all an option, alongside other cool attractions such as Madame Tussauds, music bus tours of the city, escape rooms and more!
However, if you are just visiting the city to tick it off the list and the attraction side of things doesn’t appeal to you, definitely just hang out in the bars and restaurants across the Honky Tonk Highway – you’ll receive all the good vibes, good music and good food here!
Often not known to many, Chicago is actually the third most popular city in the US and we love it here, for its chilled-out vibes and its wide selection of things to see and do!
We’d be silly to not make our first recommendation, PIZZA! Seriously, Chicago-style pizza is SO good, head to Giordano’s for the cities famous stuffed deep-dish pizza. If you like pizza, with all the choice of toppings and ALL the cheese, you will not regret your decision to eat here!!
You of course, must visit Cloud Gate aka. The Bean, the immense mirrored sculpture located in Millennium Park. Yes, it will be busy as thousands head to the sculpture each day, but its worth it because not only is the sculpture itself fascinating, but the many views you can get from its mirror is pretty incredible. Top photo opportunities!
If you want to view the city from above, which we definitely recommend, we suggest visiting the Sky Deck of the Willis Tower and 360 Chicago Observation deck of the John Hancock Building. Not only do these two decks provide unbeatable views of Chicago and beyond, but each provide a unique experience not for the faint hearted! Stand on a glass ledge 1,353 feet off the ground at the Sky Deck, or tilt over the edge of the John Hancock Building on a giant moving platform 94 stories high.
We also recommend a trip to the Lincoln Park Zoo – if you love animals and are in the city on a budget, a trip here is a must because great news, it’s HUGE and it’s FREE!
Then there’s the shopping, yes New York is great and best known for its shopping opportunities, however we think Chicago is underappreciated for this! You can spend all day in Water Tower Place, a landmark eight story mall on the Magnificent Mile with over 100 stores, number of restaurants and entertainment options. The Magnificent Mile is an attraction in itself; an upscale commercial district of Chicago housing even more shops, restaurants and hotels.
and that’s it. Our top 5 cities to visit in America this summer. There are obviously plenty more to explore, but these are our favourites!
We think cities are best explored with friends, so book onto a Camp America Trek and let us take you on the most incredible group road trip across the US that ticks off some of America’s best cities, beaches and National Parks. We’ve given our top recommendations in these 5 cities, but by travelling with an epic tour leader and 13 like-minded people, we are sure you’ll discover some of the cities best kept secrets and will not be disappointed!!
Find out more and book your ultimate American road trip today!
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