BEST TIME TO GO
Such a vast country covering such a wide range of longitudes and latitudes, that it really is an all year round destination
West Coast GMT -8hrs and East Coast GMT -5hrs (there are times of the year when these change as the Spring and Autumn clock changes in the UK and US don’t totally coincide)
Daily direct flights from London Heathrow to JFK, 7hrs 30mins
The USA is a very popular destination and flights from the UK, and across the world, are frequent and leave at all times of the day and night. The extensive domestic flight network means that you’ll fly to major US hubs such as New York, Washington, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Miami etc, and then travel onwards from there. Other than flying, other transport options include coaches, car hire and trains, especially for shorter distance. Wherever you go, the food is plentiful and delicious, with lots of local specialities and choice, so sample everything from street vendors to sophisticated formal restaurants. So, decide how long you have and what you want to focus, and then go, go, go!
Thanksgiving, the third Thursday in November, and the days either side of it are probably to be avoided unless you’re spending it with American family or friends as travel is a nightmare with so many people going home, and many businesses are closed.
East Coast USA
New York is an amazing city and is doable for a four or five day weekend. Accommodation ranges from the very reasonable to off the scale. December and Christmas are hugely popular. During the UN’s annual General Assembly, which takes place mid September every year, hotel space can be hard to come by. The weather in the winter can be quite extreme – the snowstorms in January, February (and even March!) can be quite severe to the extent that they can disrupt transportation and make life difficult. You need to wrap up warm, with a hat, as the wind whips down the avenues.
New York is a real walking city, so April and May are ideal times to go. Central Park is turning green and is a lovely place to take a stroll, and have a drink. Don’t miss walking the High Line, avoiding New York’s traffic, and end up at the new Whitney Museum. When you get tired, take a trip on the Circle Line boat around Manhattan Island, a great way to admire the sky line. June can get quite warm, while July and August are hot, sticky and steamy – and many of the locals leave town. Just make sure your hotel room has air conditioning! September and October can be lovely too, cooler, without the humidity and the chilly winter winds.
Take a few days to head up to Niagara Falls, or if you fly, it’s possible to do a day trip from New York. Boston is great for a spot of American history, and is more bite-sized. If you want some lovely beaches in the summer, head to Nantucket Island or Martha’s Vineyard off Cape Cod.
Head to New England in the Fall/Autumn to see the amazing flame-coloured leaves displayed by the trees. It’s also a great area for skiing in the winter, and not as far as Colorado.
Washington DC, the capital, with its wide open boulevards and green spaces, has a sophisticated feel. It has great museums, like the world famous Smithsonian, and a very different, more formal, political vibe than New York. Visit the White House, the Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial and the Mall. Another walking city, make sure you have your comfy shoes with you.
If you have time, it is worth visiting the Arlington Cemetery in nearby Virginia – a very poignant and thought-provoking place.
Further down the eastern seaboard, you have the charming and historic town of Charleston, South Carolina with its beautifully preserved buildings, horse-drawn carriages and lovely antique shops. Immerse yourself in the history and enjoy the restaurants.
For almost all year round sunshine, head to Florida – perfect destination if you have kids. Combine the beach with a visit to Disney, Cape Canaveral, Sea World or one of the fabulous Florida water parks.
Then there’s the inimitable New Orleans for a totally different Creole feel. It’s a unique place full of charm with a lovely warm and relaxed southern vibe. The food is delicious, the music even better and the atmosphere is quite wonderful.
West Coast USA
The west coast has a completely different feel, with San Francisco, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and the rest of California being wonderful destinations. There are of course other west coast options, such as Oregon for its wine, and the northern city of Seattle with its tech and modern vibe, and a fresh feel.
San Francisco on the Pacific Ocean has such as a cool and sophisticated feel. The atmosphere with the fresh ocean air is very pleasant. Each area of the city has its own personality. You feel like you’ve been dropped into the middle of a Chinese town in Chinatown with plenty of Chinese locals. Union Square and the big department stores is very slick and sophisticated, while Haight Ashbury is the hippy part of town. The Mission, a previously rundown area, that is now full of chic bars and restaurants following the arrival of some high-tech start ups. Nob Hill, named after the railway tycoons (Nobs) who built their mansions there, is an affluent part of the city with lots of big hotels and city landmarks. Take a boat to the eerie Alcatraz Prison, which is often shrouded in the sea mist. If you have the time and feel up to it, walk across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge – there are pathways on both sides and the views are spectacular.
A trip to the wine region is definitely worth a detour, although the area is very popular. The landscape is beautiful, the climate is fantastic and the wine even better – whatever your wine palate. Many of the wineries have great restaurants as well as good eateries in nearby towns, but book before you go.
Los Angeles is a place, like Las Vegas, to experience at least once. The towns around Los Angeles, like Santa Monica and Santa Barbara, are worth spending a few days for some relaxation with great beaches and lovely hotels. You’ll need some transport as distances are huge!
The Middle USA
The states in the centre of the US offer a huge variety of different experiences, everything from skiing in Colorado, hanging out on a dude ranch in Montana, horse riding in Texas, listening to music in Nashville, horse-racing in Kentucky, NASCAR racing in Daytona, walking among the stunning rock formations in Arizona or visiting Elvis Presley’s Graceland in Memphis.
There is so much more to do, but too much to mention in detail here – we have endless ideas, just ask us!