From ski boots to stilettos, Nevada is a paradox, a place of contrasts and contradictions, which could make packing tricky. Vast, empty and the driest state in the nation, it's only recently coming into its own as an outdoors destination. Three-quarters of the population surrounds the desert star of Las Vegas, a glittering world unto itself.
Chicago dominates the state with its sky-high architecture and superlative museums, restaurants and music clubs. But venturing further afield reveals Hemingway's hometown of 'wide lawns and narrow minds,' scattered shrines to local hero Abe Lincoln, and a trail of corn dogs, pies and drive-in movie theaters down Route 66.
Miami & the Keys
Beauty is the name of the game here. From fashion models to deco hotels, beach sunrises to wetland ecosystems and alluring islands, South Florida is an aesthetic masterpiece. The Magic City South Florida is a land of dreams and Miami is known as the Magic City. Imagination and innovation are big here, manifest in art, architecture and festivals.
Arizona is made for road trips. Yes, the state has its showstoppers – Monument Valley, the Grand Canyon, Cathedral Rock – but it's the drives between these icons and others that really breathe life and context into a trip. For a dose of mom-and-pop friendliness, follow Route 66 into Flagstaff.
It's hard to slap a single characterization onto Oregon's geography and people. Its landscape ranges from rugged coastline and thick evergreen forests to barren, fossil-strewn deserts, volcanoes and glaciers. As for its denizens, you name it – Oregonians run the gamut from pro-logging conservatives to tree-hugging liberals, and everything in between.
Welcome to nature's most perfect playground. From red-rock mesas to skinny slot canyons, powder-bound slopes and slick rock trails, Utah's diverse terrain will stun you. The biking, hiking and skiing are world-class. And with more than 65% of the state lands public, including 12 national parks and monuments, the access is simply superb.
Louisiana runs deep: a French colony turned Spanish protectorate turned reluctant American purchase; a southern fringe of swampland, bayou and alligators dissolving into the Gulf of Mexico; a northern patchwork prairie of heartland farm country; and everywhere, a population tied together by a deep, unshakable appreciation for the good things in life: food and music.
Central Pacific Coast
Gigantic aquamarine waves provide the backdrop and pulsating rhythm to any visit to Mexico's central Pacific coast, a land of stunning beaches and giant sunsets. You can indulge in all the tropical clichés here: eating sublime seafood under simple palm-frond roofs, drinking chilled coconut water while lounging in a hammock, enjoying poolside cocktails at an upmarket resort.
Maryland is often described as 'America in Miniature,' and for good reason: this small state possesses all of the best bits of the country, from the Appalachian Mountains in the west to sandy white beaches in the east. A blend of Northern streetwise and Southern down-home gives this most osmotic of border states an appealing identity crisis.
Nova Scotia, New Brunswick & Prince Edward Island
Fashioned by the mighty Atlantic, these down-home Canadian provinces call you 'Deary,' and offer you hot seafood chowder as whales breach in the distance. Water World ‘Water everywhere,’ you think, as you scan the horizon from the windy clifftop. Then you see it on the water, a fine spray emanating from what appears to be a log.
Alberta does lakes and mountains like Rome does churches and cathedrals, but without the penance. For proof head west to Jasper and Banff, two of the world’s oldest national parks which, despite their wild and rugged terrain, remain well-trammeled and easily accessible. No one should leave this mortal coil without first laying eyes on Lake Louise and the Columbia Icefield.
Banff, Jasper & Glacier National Parks
Sit atop a mountain, hike through the forest, feel the spray of a waterfall: Banff, Jasper and Glacier offer outdoor experiences at their simplest and best. Wonderful Wildlife There’s nothing quite like glimpsing animals in their natural habitat, and the Rocky Mountains has some of the best wildlife watching in North America.
Orlando & Walt Disney World
Play quidditch with Harry Potter, disappear into the Twilight Zone in a haunted elevator, whip through the air on a sea monster. In Orlando, the Theme Park Capital of the World, it's all about adrenaline-fueled fun wrapped up in the mystique of storytelling and fantasy.
Tampa Bay & Southwest Florida
To drive southwest Florida's Gulf Coast is to enter an impressionistic watercolor painting: first, there is the dazzling white quartz sand of its barrier-island beaches, whose turquoise waters darken to silver-mantled indigo as the fiery sun lowers to the horizon. Later, seen from the causeways, those same islands become a phosphorescent smear beneath the inky black night sky.