The great American experience is about so many things: bluegrass and beaches, snow-covered peaks and redwood forests, restaurant-loving cities and big open skies.
On the Road Again
This is a country of road trips and great open skies, where four million miles of highways lead past red-rock deserts, below towering mountain peaks, and across fertile wheat fields that roll off toward the horizon. The sun-bleached hillsides of the Great Plains, the lush rainforests of the Pacific Northwest and the scenic country lanes of New England are a few fine starting points for the great American road trip.
Bright Lights, Big Cities
America is the birthplace of LA, Las Vegas, Chicago, Miami, Boston and New York City – each a brimming metropolis whose name alone conjures a million different notions of culture, cuisine and entertainment. Look more closely, and the American quilt unfurls in all its surprising variety: the eclectic music scene of Austin, the easygoing charms of antebellum Savannah, the ecoconsciousness of free-spirited Portland, the magnificent waterfront of San Francisco, and the captivating old quarters of New Orleans, still rising up from its waterlogged ashes.
On one evening in the US, thick barbecue ribs and smoked brisket come piping hot at a Texas roadhouse, while talented chefs blend organic produce with Asian accents at award-winning West Coast restaurants. Locals get their fix of bagels and lox at a century-old deli in Manhattan's Upper West Side, and several states away, plump pancakes and fried eggs disappear under the clatter of cutlery at a 1950s-style diner. Steaming plates of fresh lobster served off a Maine pier, oysters and champagne in a fashion-forward wine bar in California, beer and pizza at a Midwestern pub – these are just a few ways to dine à la Americana.
The USA has made tremendous contributions to the arts. Georgia O'Keeffe's wild landscapes, Robert Rauschenberg's surreal collages, Alexander Calder's elegant mobiles and Jackson Pollock's drip paintings have entered the vernacular of 20th-century art. Chicago and New York have become veritable drawing boards for the great architects of the modern era. And from the soulful blues born in the Mississippi Delta to the bluegrass of Appalachia and Detroit's Motown sound – plus jazz, funk, hip-hop, country, and rock and roll – America has invented sounds integral to modern music.
Why I Love USA
When it comes to travel, America has always floored me with its staggering range of possibilities. Not many other countries have so much natural beauty – mountains, beaches, rainforest, deserts, canyons, glaciers – coupled with fascinating cities to explore, an unrivaled music scene and all the things that make travel so rewarding (friendly locals, great restaurants and farmers markets, and a burgeoning microbrewery scene). I love living in a place where I don't need a car (Brooklyn), but there's nothing quite like getting out on the open road and exploring the unsung wonders and hidden corners of this inspiring country.
Need to know
Landscapes and legends draw adventurers to the West, where a good day includes locavore dining, vineyard wine-sipping, cowboy history and outdoor fun. Hands-On History Museums? Save 'em for later. First you'll want to climb a wooden ladder into a cliff dwelling, poke around the ruins of a Pony Express station, or simply join the congregation inside a 1700s Spanish mission.
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. Food & Drink Because California produces most of the fresh produce in the US, minor menu decisions here can have nationwide impact.