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United States of America: A pocket guide

America is a huge country, and its size is reflected in the vast variety of travel opportunities it offers to visitors. It’s no wonder only 6 percent of Americans have passports, as with Canada and Mexico on its doorstep and so much to offer at home, why bother traveling overseas? Fortunately for us they do and in great numbers but the U.S. is a fabulous place to explore, especially if you enjoy road trips. Many people start in New England, where the stunning lakes of Vermont, the giant forests and stunning coastline of Maine, and the rolling countryside of New Hampshire and other northern areas offer guests a tiny glimpse of some of the originally settled states. There’s a lot of history in these parts and some lovely old architecture with endless New England clapboard homes. Further south you hit the Big Apple, and New York City is a destination in itself. There is nowhere quite like it. The surrounding states are a mix of industry and rural farmland, fast being developed but still wide open spaces, and the whole of the northeast is really a giant forest. As you head south to Washington, D.C., and beyond to the Virginias, South Carolina and Georgia, the landscape somehow gets bigger as the population thins out and the climate warms up. Lots of battlefield sites from the Civil War and a more gentle pace of life.

The midwest has even bigger open spaces and some very flat areas predominately used for farming. The cities are smaller and some are not architecturally of great beauty, but there are bright spots like Louisville, Kentucky, and St. Louis, Missouri. There are also important music cities like Memphis, Nashville, and, further south, the great New Orleans, the home of jazz. Florida is where people seek the sun; Texas has a frontier feeling to it and incredibly friendly people. California, to the west, has the most stunning coastline, and Los Angeles is a must on so many fronts as a visitor destination, but San Francisco is more attractive and has more of a European feel. Hawaii is another hotspot for winter travelers escaping the cold winters up north and very different in feel from the east coast. The northwest has glorious states like Washington and Oregon; Seattle and Portland have attracted a lot of the new IT stars. These northwestern states and those below them, like Montana and Idaho, have excellent skiing, stunning lakes, and open terrain that runs forever. Huge tracts of land are perfect for the many dude ranches and fishing lodges that guests so enjoy.

America is a very hard country to describe as it embraces so many different cultures, architectural styles, religious beliefs, and nationalities. It really is a melting pot of so many different people and this is a key ingredient in what makes it so fascinating to explore. There are elegant old cities like Charleston, South Carolina, which are straight out of Gone with the Wind and which was spared along with Savannah by General Sherman, and then you move north to the skyscrapers of Manhattan and you can’t believe you are in the same country. Or stay on a dude ranch in Montana and then negotiate the freeways of San Diego and you will also wonder if this is one country. Urban density, mountains, lakes, prairies, or rolling hills, whatever you desire can be found in the U.S. and enjoyed on foot, on a bike, on a horse, or in a very comfortable rental car. UV members can guide you on your way and provide some extremely luxurious accommodation for the weary traveler.

On a cold winter morning, a bull elk poses for his portrait in Yellowstone. United States

Meet the Experts for United States of America