Landscapes and legends draw adventurers to the West, where a good day includes locavore dining, vineyard wine-sipping, cowboy history and outdoor fun. Urban Oases Western cities have distinct personalities. In California there's the hey-bro friendliness of San Diego, the Hollywood flash of Los Angeles and the bohemian cool of San Francisco.
From towering redwood forests in foggy Northern California to perfectly sun-kissed surf beaches in Southern California, this Golden State alongside the Pacific is a prize. Natural Beauty Don’t be fooled by its perpetually fresh outlook and gung-ho attitude: California is older than it seems.
Palm-fringed beaches, chili-spiced cuisine; steamy jungles, teeming cities; fiesta fireworks, Frida’s angst: Mexico conjures up diverse, vivid dreams. And the reality lives up to the imagining. Why I Love Mexico By John Noble, Writer I first felt Mexico's pull when reading, as a teenager, the barely credible story of Cortés and the Aztecs.
From towering coast redwoods in foggy Northern California to the perfect sun-kissed surf beaches of Southern California, this slice of Pacific Coast is a knockout beauty. Why I Love Coastal California By Sara Benson, Writer Like almost half of the people who live here, California wasn't where I was born, but it's where I've chosen to make my home.
A hundred worlds – from magic kingdoms and Latin American and Caribbean capitals to mangrove islands, wild wetlands and artist colonies – are all contained within this flat peninsula. Tropical Mosaic While many know Florida for beaches and theme parks, few understand this is one of the most populous states in the country, a bellwether for the American experiment.
New York, New Jersey & Pennsylvania
Where else could you visit an Amish family's farm, camp on a mountaintop, read the Declaration of Independence and view New York, New York from the 86th floor of an art-deco landmark – all in a few days? Even though this corner of the country is the most densely populated part of the US, it's full of places where jaded city dwellers escape to seek simple lives, where artists .
New York State
Upstate New York – anywhere outside the city, essentially – and downstate share virtually nothing but a governor and dysfunctional legislature in the capital, Albany. This incongruity produces political gridlock, but it's a blessing for those who cherish a hike up a mountaintop as much as a bar crawl around the Lower East Side.