United States


The United States stretches over 3,000 miles (4,800 km) across, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, and then north-south from the bottom of Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

That’s a lot of travel territory.

The best transportation options are driving and flying, because the train travel infrastructure (with a few exceptions) in North America is not as convenient and efficient as it generally is in Europe, mostly because of the sheer distance involved.

One nation, under diversity

Visitors from Asia or Europe might tend to cluster in destinations on the West or East coasts, unless they can afford to fly around to inland cities or the opposite coast, or have the time to do a lot of driving. That’s rather a shame, because a visit to San Francisco or New York, while certainly enjoyable, can only give a narrow, through-the-soda-straw view of the nation as a whole.

New York is not Chicago. San Francisco is not Denver. Orlando, Florida and all things Disney is certainly not the U.S. as a whole, although it actually doesn’t do too badly since so many Americans from disparate locations all converge there and give a fairly decent cross-section of society.

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Don’t just confine your visit to cities, either, as vibrant and appealing as they are.

One strength of the U.S. is its vast open spaces, spectacular scenery and parks that is fundamental to the national character. The best scenic routes include old Route 66 (from Chicago to Los Angeles,) the Great River Road down the Mississippi River or the Blue Ridge Parkway that links the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina to Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park.

Get local

Those who already live in the United States might be surprised by how little they really know their own country, given the vast distances and polyglot cultures.

Buy a guidebook for your own nation, and also for your home state/province/territory. Pretend that you’re coming from another country and want to knock out those “must-see” places and attend those important annual events; you may be surprised by how often you’ll find yourself saying, “Gosh, I’ve lived here for X number of years and we’ve never gotten around to doing that.”

No time like the present, right? Hit the road!

(Family Travel Guide posts in the Travel in the USA category.)