There is a lot to America that its citizens take for granted: the amber countryside of Iowa, the rugged landscape of Montana. Too many Americans are unaware of the natural beauty that surrounds them and seek it out elsewhere in the world.
Choosing five locations from the endless bounty of the American terrain is a tall order, like being asked which five items from your life you’d want to keep while sending the rest spinning into a volcano. The opinion of every tour guide will be different. If you are in the mood for a real adventure and can spare the time, you may want to engage in America’s oldest tradition, a rite of passage, as it were: the road trip. It will show you the majestic purple mountains and fruited plains they are always singing about. But if you don’t have a month to yin-yang Route 66, Interstate 95 or the Pacific Coast Highway, then the best way to experience America is to visit its cities.
This small, compact city in New England is the birthplace of the American Revolution. Boston is home to Federal and Renaissance Revival styled buildings, as well as numerous Ivy League universities including MIT and Harvard; this distinction has earned Boston the nickname The Athens of America. If you want to understand America and its Sons of Liberty, then take a walk down the Freedom Trail. From Faneuil Hall and the Old North Church to the Battle of Bunker Hill, this modern city is bursting with a sense of palpable history. Also, they talk funny.
New York City
Located just four hours from Boston, there’s no city that represents the American Dream more than the five boroughs of New York. It’s like a small scale-model of the globe. New York is a melting pot of cultures, nations and ethnicities, and for that reason it can be overwhelming and disorientating. You need weeks, if not months, to explore all of the neighborhoods, attractions, museums and monuments in New York. Highlights like the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and shopping on Fifth Avenue are good places to start.
Heading northwest, the Windy City boasts some impressive stats. It is not only the third largest city in the U.S., but it has the tallest skyscraper in America as well. There is more public art in Chicago than any other American city, which makes for a nice background to aimless walks. One of Chicago’s baseball teams, the Cubs, has not won a World Series since 1908, a stat all fans would like to forget but has since become part of the team’s appeal. If you like to cheer for winners, there are always the White Sox.
Love it or hate it, Las Vegas is an essential stop on any American tour. An adult playground in the blistering hot desert, Vegas is devoted to artificiality, grandeur and luck. Sure, it’s like Disney World on steroids, but it’s fun. At least for a few days.
Considered one of the most beautiful cities in America, San Francisco is the end of the line. Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge are the most famous highlights, but looking out at the Pacific Ocean keeps you aware of just how far you’ve traveled. Forget about what you’ve heard about earthquakes and head down to Fisherman’s Wharf for a San Francisco specialty: Dungeness crab and prawns. It’s America’s answer to fish and chips.