The United States is a kaleidoscope of cosmopolitan cities, rich cultures, and enchanting landscapes catering for everything from city breaks to longer escapes in nature.
Each American state has its own unique attraction and individual character. Experience the wilderness in Alaska, taste fine wines in California, and tick off bucket list sights in New York State. Whether you’re looking to embrace the beauty of its national parks and desert landscapes, enjoy the thrills and spills of a world-class amusement park, or simply relax on sun-splashed beaches, there’s an American state with your name on it.
When you’re touring America, Washington – the only state named after a president – is as good a place to start as any. It’s been nicknamed the Evergreen State because of its abundance of rich green forests, particularly found in Seattle, the Emerald City. Interestingly, it produces more apples than any other U.S. state and it’s home to the oldest human remains in North America.
Split in two by the Cascade Mountains, Washington state has parks, volcanoes and idyllic islands to one side and coastal forests, farmlands, and hundreds of wineries on the other. The North Cascades are a beauty to discover with its steep mountains and crisp freshwater lakes, perfect for outdoorsy travelers.
For those who would prefer a break from the mainland, the San Juan Islands are a series of forested islands offering kayaking, orca whale watching, and bird watching opportunities.
Tucked away in the rugged mountains of the Western United States, Wyoming is both wild and wonderful. Despite its large size, it is one of the most sparsely populated states in America. Here, you’ll swap city sights and crowds for national parks, cowboy ranches, hot springs, and endless wilderness.
But there is history to be found here too; Wyoming was the first state to give women the right to vote in 1869. For outdoorsy travelers, Yellowstone National Park is a major highlight with its extraordinary geothermal activity and wildlife-abundant plains dotted with wolves, elk, and grizzly bears. It is home to more geysers than any other geyser field in the world!
Along with Grand Teton National Park and Hot Springs State Park, Wyoming is perfect for all kinds of outdoor adventures, from hiking, swimming, and kayaking to mountain biking and skiing.
The second-largest state in the United States, Texas really packs a punch. Situated in the South Central region, it’s loved for its soaring temperatures, country music, famous Texan BBQs, and bird watching – it’s home to more bird species than any other U.S. state.
Known as the Lone Star State (so-called for its flag and former independence as a Republic), Texas still feels different from the rest of the USA. Although despite its massive size that incorporates 28 cities, the proud people of Texas share the same values, patriotism, and a distinct culture.
Don’t leave without taking a stroll along the San Antonio River Walk with its art galleries, museums, restaurants, and endless opportunities for retail therapy. For a little history, visit the Alamo historical fort that played a pivotal role in the 1835 Texan independence war against Mexico.
Known as the Centennial State, Colorado is the highest elevated state in the United States. One of the Mountain States, it’s characterized by beautiful peaks, dense forests, deep canyons, and gorgeous meandering rivers. While the majority of the attractions are nature-based, the bustling capital of Denver – the Mile High City – is also worth a visit with its craft breweries and epic nightlife scene.
Colorado has many claims to fame. It’s home to the world’s largest hot spring pool, the deepest hot spring on Earth, the highest paved road in the U.S., and the largest flat-top mountain in the world.
But one of the main reasons tourists flock to Colorado is for its year-round skiing opportunities. Home to a wealth of excellent ski resorts like Aspen and Vail, the state’s frequent mountain snowstorms ensure that there’s plenty of fresh powder for skiing and snowboarding. While you can get great deals for skiing throughout the year, the best skiing in Colorado is hands down between February and March.
Alaska, the largest U.S state, is an astonishing place, home to thousands of rivers and streams, hundreds of thousands of astonishing glaciers, and millions of glistening lakes. In fact, these magical glaciers cover around 5% of the entire state!
Known as the ‘Last Frontier’ because of its distance from the rest of the U.S states, Alaska is an isolated place. The large majority is in the Arctic. A short visit to Alaska likely won’t scratch the surface but you can get a feel for the state with expeditions to see Alaskan wildlife such as wolves, moose, whales, and Kodiak bears.
Many don’t know this, but the best thing about Alaska is that you can witness the Northern Lights here for over 240 days of the year, probably because of the low light levels – in some parts of the state, the sun doesn’t rise for nearly two months! But when the sun does rise, it really rises: it often doesn’t set again for three months. This time of the year is ideal for wildlife watching.
The state of Arizona is an enchanting wonderland of spectacular red rock canyons and desert plateaus. But while it is most famous for the iconic landscapes of the Grand Canyon, stretching through the dramatic Petrified Forest and the vibrant and colorful Painted Desert, Arizona is so much more than that.
You’ll also find more mountains in the Grand Canyon State than in Switzerland, and a quarter of the state is covered in the largest unbroken Ponderosa pine forests in America. Add to that the wooded slopes of the Mogollon Rim and the dramatic desert sweeps of Monument Valley and the Sonoran Desert and you’ve really got a mix of everything.
But scenery aside, Arizona also has some lovely small towns that are worth a visit, including the capital, Phoenix, known for its world-class spas and championship golf courses.
4. New York
New York State is tucked away in the north-eastern section of the United States. Lovingly dubbed the Empire State, it is most famous for the cosmopolitan sights of New York City, where you’ll find the glitz and glamor of Manhattan’s high rises, bustling Times Square, and the fresh green walkways of Central Park.
It’s not just the Big Apple that draws visitors to the fourth most populated U.S. state, but the quieter adventures to be found upstate, such as the captivating Adirondacks. New York State is also known for the thundering Niagara Falls, its fabulous Long Island beaches, and the wine-producing Finger Lakes Region, with 100-plus wineries, breweries, and distilleries. Here, you can enjoy hiking around the many lakes, tastings at a winery, or a mix of both for the best of both worlds!
The state of Hawaii is the longest island chain in the world – so long that it even has its own time zone! The southernmost state in the United States, it is also the only American state that’s made up entirely of islands. Interestingly, only seven of these 130-plus islands are inhabited. The rest are reserved purely for adventures: think waterfall trekking, thrilling helicopter rides, and lazy beach days!
The Aloha State is also a great spot for foodies. It is the only state that grows its own coffee, and more than a third of the world’s pineapples are grown in Hawaii. Each island has its own appeal: spend your days chasing waterfalls in Kauai, surfing on Big Island, or relaxing on Oahu’s powdery beaches. You won’t be disappointed.
Florida is where the fun happens; a fact that’s backed by the 90-million-plus visitors that visit here every year. Known as the Sunshine State, it’s chock-a-block with family-friendly attractions, from theme parks to water parks and beaches. Plus, it boasts over 230 days of sunshine a year!
Orlando is undoubtedly the highlight, home to Walt Disney World Resort’s Magic Kingdom, the most popular theme park in the world. But Universal Studios, the many glamorous shopping malls, and undulating golf courses also give visitors a run for their money.
Miami is a close second with its white-sand beaches, glitzy beach resorts, and skiing and diving oases. Interestingly, Florida is home to over 7,000 lakes and more golf courses than any other state in the nation. Perfect for teeing off, it doesn’t hurt that it is the flattest state in the United States.
With its glorious beaches, great weather, and undulating wine country, the Golden State is the perfect combination for a relaxing holiday. Indulge your inner child with a visit to Anaheim’s Disneyland Park and discover the thrills and spills of San Diego’s endless water parks. Also referred to as the Grape State, California produces nearly 90% of the nation’s wine, so come thirsty!
But wine and beaches aside, Cali also has some spectacular landscapes, ranging from sun-drenched coastlines to desert dunes and everything in between. Hike the peaks of Yosemite National Park, descend to the lowest point of the United States in Death Valley, or explore the iconic city sights like San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. Don’t miss the chance to walk the eerie corridors of the notorious Alcatraz island prison. It’s unforgettable!