Visit USA – Explore the Real America

We were at the Visit USA media launch in Sydney and I turned to Craig and whispered,”I really shouldn’t have come here.”

The knot began to twist a little tighter and that deep longing for home arrived.

“I can’t sit here and listen to that warm, familiar accent, and see slide show photos of the Real America. It makes me want to go back more than ever.”

A Hawaiian lady sat next to me fueling my angst even more with her talk of endless sunshine, waves, pina coladas and cheap shopping.

America is not Hollywood and bad Reality TV

“The USA is not what you see in Hollywood and bad reality TV; it’s more than Las Vegas and LA,” the representative from Brand USA spoke.”

We don’t know how many times we’ve said the same thing.

Australians usually head to the most well-known places, and we are often asked for our New York City travel tips, our Los Angeles travel tips, what to see and do in San Francisco and what it’s like to visit the Grand Canyon.

Other popular destinations include going to Orlando or LA to see Mickey, with a side trip to Las Vegas.

By all means, visit these places, but try to explore a little further and deeper. The rest of America offers so much heart and soul.

The second thing we are always reassuring future visitors to the States about is that the people are so beautiful.

Most people who have not been to America have the wrong impressions of Americans. They are actually warm, hospitable and so interested in you and your life.

We certainly have not been everywhere in the States, but after living in North Carolina for four years and taking lots of road trips, we feel there are many places we can recommend that will give you an insight into the real America beyond the typical destinations.

The South

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina - Visit the Real America
Beautiful southern homes in Charleston

Charleston is by far one of our favourite destinations in America. It was where we would take visiting family members and often go for long weekends away whilst living in Raleigh, NC.

Charleston is an old American town with lots of Civil War history. There is so much to see and do from plantation tours, horse and carriage rides along the cobblestones streets of the city, historic home tours, and nearby islands and beaches.

Our friend and local expert Caroline Eubanks wrote this great city guide for Charleston.

Beaufort, South Carolina

Beaufort, South Carolina - Visit the Real America
Beaufort, SC

My Mum phoned me the other day all excited about Beaufort, South Carolina once again. She saw it in yet another movie. We often reminisce about the town with my parents who visited with us in 2010.

You’d recognize the beaches and waterways if you are a fan of Forest Gump. It’s where most of the Vietnam scenes were filmed.

The South Carolina scenery is spectacular and the pace of life quiet and laid back. It also has a rich African American history. It’s perfect for outdoor adventure, beach living, seafood feasting and camping.

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia - Visit the Real America
Savannah waterfront

I think you can guess that we loved Savannah – our daughter has the same name. Like Charleston, Savannah is a place we often visited.

We love walking up and down the riverfront precinct, watching live buskers, doing a bit of market shopping, enjoying a frozen cocktail while wandering, ducking into stores to try samples of peanuts and candy, and then stopping for lunch on the verandah of One Eyed Lizzy’s…with a $1 frozen Margarita!

That’s not all you’ll find in Savannah, wandering around the squares and discovering gorgeous Southern homes, beautiful gardens and cute cafes and restaurants.

The streets with their overhanging oak trees draped in Spanish moss are ghostly in appearance adding to the Savannah charm. We LOVE this city. We suggest starting your exploration with a trolley tour for a historical insight and overview before delving more into those places that most grabbed your attention.

Be sure yo head out to Tybee Island to experience Georgian beach living, It was one of our favourite Southern beach towns – very laid back and unspoilt.

Savannah, Georgia - Visit the Real America
gorgeous savannah homes

North Carolina

We did not know anything about North Carolina before moving there. It is now one of our favourite states and we soon learned how loved it is by so many Americans.

It was incredible how many people we would meet across America who would gush about this state when we said we lived there.

There are a lot of Americans from the colder Northern states who migrate here because of the low cost of living, the high employment opportunities, the mild climate and the outdoor lifestyle, and the Universities. It has a little bit of everything, which is why we love it so.

The Smoky Mountains

Great Smokey Mountains - Visit the Real America
great smoky mountains

We so love the Smoky Mountains. There are so many places to camp and hiking trails as well as rivers to slowly meander down from a rubber tube. There are many mountain tops you can climb for outstanding views and of course the Appalachian trail, for the fit and adventurous.

We loved horse riding in the Smokies and exploring the old historical towns on bicycles. It’s also a good spot for a winter log cabin with a spa on deck.

Asheville, NC

A little hippy enclave at the base of the Appalachian mountains, Asheville is where you want to come for organic, healthy food, alternative therapies and lifestyles, and a vibrant music scene.

With the nearby mountains, there are pretty drives to go on including the Blue Ridge Parkway, hikes to enjoy and nearby ski fields. It is where we skied for the first time–on fake snow though.

Wilmington, NC

The Hollywood of the East. Wilmington is where a lot of films and TV shows are filmed: Dawson’s Creek, One Tree Hill, Sleeping with the Enemy anyone? Oh, and some guy named Michael Jordan grew up here!

At only a two hour drive from Raleigh, it was a favourite weekend getaway for us. As soon as the warmth of spring hit the air we were racing down for beach time.

Wilmington, North Carolina - Visit the Real America
Wilmington, North Carolina

Outer Banks, NC

Another favourite filming location, the Outer Banks are pretty wild and untouched with only a few small towns here and there. IT is also the place where Orville and Wilbur Wright first flew a plane.

The coastline is rugged and great for outdoor exploration, It is dotted with lighthouses and pirate history and barrier islands that are home to wild ponies.

Beaufort is a lovely little Pirate town where Captain Blackbeard is said to have lived for a short time. You can see his pretty little home and perhaps sniff around with a shovel for that buried treasure of his that has not yet been found.

Chapel Hill, NC

Definitely our favourite American college town and one we would love to live in.

Why would you want to come here? It is the home of the BEST college basketball University in America. YES. Believe me and not those horrible Dukie fans in the next suburb who wear the completely wrong coloured blue.

Why are we the best? Well, when we lived there (i.e in four years) They won two National Championships. And Michael Jordan played basketball for the UNC Tar Heels. That’s right the BEST basketball player in history, if not one of the worlds’ best ever athletes.

It’s also a really pretty college to walk through, and the bars on Franklin Street are seriously pumping when basketball season is on. You have not been to America, or dare I say lived, until you have jumped over a bonfire on Franklin Street and crashed a Frat house party.

Chapel Hill, North Carolina - Visit the Real America
Top of the Hill Bar, Franklin Street

New Orleans

New Orleans is hedoism at its best.

If you want a wild party then head to Bourbon street. Go with your eyes open, or better yet you might want to close them, especially when you pass by another strip club.

New Orleans - Explore the Real America

I much preferred wandering the streets of the French Quarter listening and dancing to the wide variety of buskers on the street playing folk, blues, country, rock or their own mixed up version of each.

Hire a bike and head outside the tourist areas to explore old Southern neighborhoods like the Gardens District.

New Orleans - Explore the Real America
Jackson square, french quarter

Places to eat in New Orleans

How to save money on New Orleans attractions

The Midwest

Chicago

Oh the windy city sure is pretty. We LOVED Chicago and I am itching to return to experience the summer vibrancy in Chicago, a city known for its arts, culture, music, sports, and deep dish pizza!

Chicago Deep Dish Pizza - Explore the Real America
Deep dish pizza – Photo Credit

There’s also a fair amount of underbelly history to discover in Chicago with its shady Mafia past, but don’t talk about this too much when there. Locals like to ignore that it was ever a part of their history. I think it makes it even more interesting.

We visited during Thanskgiving and froze our Aussie butts off. I think summer is where it’s at where you can attend festivals, eat in cafes outdoors, play in the parks and enjoy the beautiful Lake Michigan.

Don’t forget to take in a Cubs game at Wrigley Field and views from atop the John Hancock building or Sears Tower.

Check out a local’s tips on what to do in Chicago.

Southern Utah

Highway 12, Utah - Explore the Real America
Highway 12, utah

I can’t say I had ever dreamt of going to America and visiting Utah on a road trip. Big mistake if you are thinking the same.

Utah became one of my favourite states with the first orange pinnacle I saw rising from the desert. Yes, the first. That means there were plenty more to come, and in a wide variety of colours: reds, pinks, whites, oranges, even black and grey.

Southern Utah and all its incredible National Parks will BLOW your mind.

Bryce Canyon, Utah - Explore the Real America
Bryce Canyon NP

I think travelling through the South West Region was when I knew my heart forever had a home in the US. there was simply no turning back.

Outdoor adventures, skiiing off world-class peaks, canyons and gorges, electric thunderstorms and magnificent sunsets. Utah is God’s art studio.

Places we loved:

  • Bryce Canyon-– go horse riding along the fairy trail with a cowboy as a guide, one of the best things we’ve ever done.
  • Zion National Park: climb up Angels Landing, wade through the The Narrows or float down the river on a tube after a hard day’s hiking.
  • Dead Horse Point State Park – spectacular sunset and stunning vista of Canyonlands.
  • Canyonlands– a smaller and less popular version of the Grand Canyon.
  • Arches National Park– a popular place to see many naturally formed arches
  • Monument Valley– a deeply sacred and spiritual place. A MUST see.
Monument Valley, Utah - Explore the Real America
Monument Valley

Colorado

Denver

We loved this mile high city. It has plenty of outdoor adventures to offer with the Rocky Mountains at its doorstep and the college towns of Golden and Boulder. Check out the Coors factory in Golden for a few free pints of beer.

For tips check out our city guide on Denver and our visit to Denver

Rocky Mountain National Park

We loved camping and explore the Rockies.

Hiking trails took us to glacier lakes, through snow, pine forests, and bare mountain tops during electrical storms. Not only did we enjoy hiking, but bike riding, exploring by vehicle, and swimming in natural spring waters at Glenworth Springs.

And we even had a marauding bear outside our tent one freezing summer’s evening.

You can also visit the source of the Colorado River, a small trickle of water. It was amazing to follow the river and watch it grow as we drove south through the states to the Grand Canyon and see what that trickle of water ended up creating.

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado - Explore the Real America
Rocky Mountain NP

The North Rim, Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is often visited by many tourists to America and it should be, it is stunning. But, most people stay for only 15 minutes at the South Rim.

Noooo. Don’t do this.

Have a more unique experience by hitting the North Rim. It is just as beautiful and offers a different, quieter perspective. You can camp quite close to the rim, hike down to the bottom and catch a pretty gorgeous sunset.

The Grand Canyon, Arizona - Explore the Real America
sunrise at north rim

Texas

We thought it was going to be sprawling fields of dusty farmland with the odd tumbleweed blowing past a steakhouse. Total misconception of Texas.

We fell in love with Austin, even though we only visited for a day. It has the college town vibe and live music scene that we love.

The San Antonio Riverwalk was charming and filled with cool restaurants and cafes.

Riverwalk, San Antonio, Texas - Explore the Real America
san antonio riverwalk

Magnolia Silos and Magnolia Table, Waco Texas

Texas Hill Country

Big Bend National Park

Santa Fe, New Mexico

We had the pleasure of staying here for a couple of weeks with our friends.

Santa Fe is an artistic town with a lot of Spanish and Native American history. The vibrant red and orange, pueblo style architecture is a reason to come here, if the food is not.

Enjoy a sunset with wine and picnic at the Opera, explore artistic Canyon Road, and take day trips out to the nearby mountains or historic Taos, where you will see gorgeous pueblo buildings.

Read our city guide by our friend Billie Frank on things to do in Santa Fe.

Santa Fe, New Mexico - Explore the Real America
santa fe

Tennessee

Memphis

Memphis is of course the home of blues, rock and jazz and of course the great king himself.

I was worried about going to Graceland, I thought it would be a real kitschy tour and a let down. I actually really enjoyed it. I felt like I had missed out growing up as a child. Elvis died the year I was born.

My Mum and I would watch his movies on TV almost every week, it was one of our favourite things to do. I really lamented that I never “knew” him in person. Graceland helped me find that little connection I had always craved.

Now I just have to get my Mum over there.

Gracelands, Memphis - Explore the Real America
inside Gracelands

Nashville

I was ready to trade the Doc Marten mosh pit stompers for cowboy boots after a visit to Nashville.

I had country fever for weeks after, which Craig was not too happy about. Hours on the road listening to whines about dead dogs and empty whiskey bottles is not his sort of thing.

Nashville is cracking fun though. It’s all about country music. Visit the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. I was fascinated by the stories and the evolution of music which began way back with folk and country roots. You can do tours of Elvis’ recording studios and hear tales of other famous artists like Johnny Cash and modern heroes like Keith Urban!

Take in a show at the Grand Ole Opry, or just let loose in the bars of downtown Nashville. Country artists will be jiving and line tapping in each one. It’s great fun.

Want to Get a Taste of the Real America?

Then add these to your bucket list:

  • Attend a college football game and tailgate before it.
  • Attend a college basketball match.
  • Do the seventh inning stretch at a baseball game with a hotdog and beer.
  • Attend a Halloween party, dressed up.
  • Crash a frat party (One of the most exciting things I did. And they drink from red plastic cups).
  • Learn how to play beer pong and corn throwing
  • Spend thanksgiving with an American family.
  • Experience a White Christmas.
  • Ride a horse at a ranch in Montana or Wyoming or through an iconic place like Bryce Canyon.
  • Wildlife viewing in the Fall in Montana
  • Experience Native American culture in Montana

Okay, so we are thinking a massive road trip across America is exactly what we need to do. North to South and East to West. Who’s coming with us?

Plan Your Trip in the United States

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Accommodation in the United States

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Flights to the United States

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Car Rental in the United States

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What do you think? Where should people go to get a taste of the REAL America?

82 thoughts on “Visit USA – Explore the Real America”

    1. Oh Vermont is still on our list! We so want to go there for the Fall. WE must get back there soon so we can find more places to write about.

  1. We did a 3 month road trip of the States last year and we found we enjoyed the lesser known states more than the big ones.

    I LOVED Savannah Georgia, so beautiful. And we were lucky enough to make it to a few others you have mentioned. Colorado also a very beautiful state!

    USA has so many amazing places to see. We’ve been back to the States 5 times and still barely scratched the surface (although the road trip did help with that!).

    1. A road trip is one of the best ways to see the States. We are really wanting to go back so we can discover more, there is so much left to see! The better stories come from the places that aren’t frequently visited.

  2. Lovely post. I agree, people have an image of the US through the bigger cities (great places too!) but it`s the lesser known destinations that show more of the real America, like you call it. I`ve been lucky enough to discover some spots through locals which I loved. On my recent Florida trip, it was confirmed to me again, Florida is more than Miami and Orlando, the first places we think of when speaking of Florida. Savannah and Charleston is SO high on my wish list. As is a road trip…so much to see, so little time!
    Thanks for sharing this information.

    1. Yes. I loved both Miami and Orlando but really enjoyed so many other quieter places. I think America wins with the big cities and the smaller ones. It is such a diverse country, it is hard not to find several spots that you fall in love with.

  3. Great list! I’m actually going to visit my cousin in Atlanta this summer and we’re going to visit Savannah and Tybee Island. I’ve visited Atlanta lots of times, but have never really seen much else of Georgia. I can vouch for Chicago as I used to live there, NOLA, and Santa Fe. I love love love New Mexico! I have much love for my home state of California though. I’m an Angeleno and I have a love hate relationship with my city. The Central Coast and Northern Cal are gorgeous though! I would add Oregon to the list. My husband and I recently visited and we found that the people were so friendly, the place is so green, and the food is wonderful!

    1. We are super keen to visit Oregon and northern Cal. I have to hug a redwood!

      We have such a long list for when we return for our next road trip.

      I hope you love Savannah and Tybee, I have no doubt you will

  4. I so agree with this list. I would also throw in Monteplier, Vermont which was a suprise to me. Also Madison, Wisconsin is great!

  5. Born on the east coast and now living on the west coast, I can say that the US is beautiful. I’ve been to 36 states so far so just a few more to go. Love that you led off with my home state of South Carolina but you need to spend a little more time on the west coast of the US too. California is as beautiful and diverse as it gets – and not just LA and San Francisco. Love exploring this state.

    1. The West Coast is on our list to come back to and explore more of. We have mostly only done the usual touristy things, which we loved. Excited to see more though

      1. Washington is one of my favorite states. It’s otherworldly beautiful. Go to the Olympic Peninsula. Don’t miss Cape Flattery.

  6. What a great list. I’d add go canyoneering in the Escalante Wilderness in southern Utah if you’re the adventurous type. And climbing one of Colorado’s 14,000 foot peaks is well worth doing too.

  7. What a great list. I’m keeping this for future reference on a few places, particularly Utah. Next time you’re in Memphis I would suggest a number of other places to get a feel for the authentic music scene (Sun Studio, Stax, Rock n Soul Museum, a number of blues joints, an endless amount of live music nightly). And of course a growing food scene in Downtown and Midtown’s eclectic neighborhoods.

    1. Oh how could I forget Sun Studio!! We did go there. Thank you for the other recommendations Lance–so helpful for our readers. Memphis is such a fascinating place to visit.

  8. I live in a small town in Louisiana. There are so many different cultures in Louisiana alone.If you come to Louisiana, I would recommend seeing more than New Orleans. New Orleans is a town with a culture of its own. Visit another southern Louisiana town like Lafayette or Baton Rouge then venture north to Monroe or Shreveport to see a big difference in cultures. When you come, make it during the fall for football season. Try to make a game at LSU to see football and tailgate at its finest. The weather will also be a little nicer than our 100 degree temperatures during the summer.
    I would also recommend going to a beach town on the Gulf of Mexico like Gulf Shores or Fort Walton. Very popular destinations.

  9. Starting 6 years ago, my husband and I began traveling the US full-time in our RV. Three years ago we started splitting our time between RVing in the US and sailing the Mexican coast in a sailboat (so we could be warm in the winter)…

    After all those years of sightseeing in the US day in and day out, we feel we have barely scratched the surface of what there is to see…

    We will likely spend the rest of our lives RVing around North America, and I doubt we’ll ever get bored. It’s a huge and varied place.

    There are tens of thousands of people like us doing the same thing!

    Utah is our favorite state — the best scenery and the friendliest people. But we also love Arizona, Idaho and Oregon, and there are jewels to be found in Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, Michigan and New England…

    If I were a foreigner coming to the US for the first time, I’d visit just one big city — any one will do, as they’re all the same — and then I’d spend the rest of my time in the small towns where America’s soul is and has always been.

    Thanks for all the info on the South – we are looking forward to going exploring there…

    1. Great tips and story Emily! I love your lifestyle–the best of everything. We are super keen to come back to the states and do a mammoth road trip. We will be definitely visiting the places you suggested and coming to you for advice when we do. Thank you for sharing

    2. Couldn’t disagree more that all U.S. big cities are the same. Come visit Philadelphia— often skipped by tourists traveling between New York City and Washington, D.C.: Oodles of history, eminently walkable central core, world class museums, a dedication to urban community outdoor art, a city park with hiking trails, easy driving distance to Pennsylvania Dutch country and the New Jersey beaches, plenty for foodies to savor and discover. Obviously, I live there. I’m a travel blogger. I love to travel all over the U.S. and the world, but I also love discovering my home town.

  10. Just got back from a trip to Zion national park, lake powell and antelope canyon. The natural beauty in Utah and arizona is spectacular!
    yamkantravel.blogspot.com

  11. Mesa Verde is a really cool place to explore as well. I went with my family last summer and we had the time of our lives. I hadn’t even heard of it before we went, and after I couldn’t imagine why everybody didn’t go there.

  12. Joanne Joseph

    Caz, I loved your recommendations but was saddened that you left off my favorites. I have traveled to many countries on six continents and still my favorite place on this planet is Yellowstone National Park. You need to spend a week or more to even scratch the surface of this magical and diverse scenic wonderland. A couple more places for your consideration would be seeing New England in the fall, and a visit to our nations capital, Washington DC

    1. Thanks for the tips Joanne. They are definitely on our list to visit which is why they are not on this list. As said in the opening, the list is based on places we have been so they weren’t intentionally left off! Can’t wait to experience them

      1. I’m so glad you have them on your list and look forward to reading your impressions after you do see them. I so hope you love them as much as I do. I certainly am enjoying your blog.

    2. Yellowstone and the Tetons are my favorite national parks. Nature at its grandest. As well as Glacier, one of the most beautiful places in the world, and of course Utah’s parks.

  13. I would highly recommend a visit to Montana! My home state is rich in natural wonders like Glacier National Park, natural hot springs and beautiful rivers and lakes. We also have lots friendly people with a laid back lifestyle. The fresh mountain air is an added bonus 🙂

  14. Caz, this post is brilliant! As an American traveling the world I find myself realizing how beautiful and diverse our country really is!

    Couldn’t agree more that Utah, or southern Utah specifically, should be on everyone’s to-do list! It is so underrated but one of our favorite parts of the country!

    If I could add to this list I’d recommend Oregon in it’s entirety the whole state has so much to offer. And, another surprising one, Idaho. When we biked across the U.S. last year these were our two favorite states.

    love the picture of Chicago pizza by the way 😉

    1. Oregon is definitely on our priority list for when we return. We are planning to road trip the states after we road trip Oz.

      We love it so much. Thank you for commenting and sharing your tips.

  15. This blog post has made me smile, it is such an INCREDIBLE place on Earth and it’s such a pity that the majority of tourists coming in from Australia and various other parts of the world plan itineraries that scratch the surface or just see the main tourist meccas like you described.
    I also chuckled when you called it ‘home’, because that is the way I feel about it. Sure, Australia is where I happen to be born and was raised but the US is also my home after doing an exchange program in Seattle, living in Colorado for 2 years, based between there and Southampton when I worked at sea. We bought a campervan once and just travelled for about 8 months, Betsy the Beast she was – a 19ft Dodge Ram!
    Some of my fav places are:
    – The Pacific Northwest….I ADORE Seattle and also Portland, Oregan is a really cool town.
    – California in itself has some INCREDIBLE National Parks like the Redwoods, Sequoia, Yosemite, Lake Tahoe is spectacular in summer AND awesome ski resorts in the winter (Mammoth Mountain is great too, further South Closer to LA) and ofcourse that incredible California Coast.
    – We adore MONTANA The BIG Sky State….Glacier National Park is one of my fav’s. Wyoming you start to head into Cowboy Territory which we actually met a couple driving along remote farming land. LOVE The Tetons, the wild flowers are spectacular in the Summer and some epic extreme skiing in the winter at Jackson Hole.
    – Colorado is something else….some breathtaking adventures to be had year round and it has such a beautiful american soul. Best champagne powder and blue bird skies for skiing. Utah is pretty good for that as well. And very interesting with the Morman influence.
    – Loved Chicago alot, spectacular in summer. Such a planned well thought out city with so many diverse things to do….We actually have friends there so got alot of the inside scoop with the mafia and they showed us some history which was actually in their neighbourhood ‘Johnny the builder’. Love the baseball esp when the cubs play the white sox (2 chicago teams). The blues bars are super cool. And that deep dish pizza is sensational.
    – Also LOVED Wisconsin, the state of beer, bread, brats, cheese & potato’s haha. Great festivals in Madison & Milwalkee in the summer. We also went to the Jelly Belly Factory in Kenosha.
    – NEW ENGLAND IN THE FALL….spectacular….I still dream of the beautiful colours in every direction you can look. The quiet walks in the forrest and the leaves fall is magical….a rainbow of red/yellow/orange/brown. I would go back in a heartbeat. Vermont my favourite (oh and the apple orchards are really awesome as well….and the maple syrup…oh and cheese hahaha). Maine is simply mystical as you edge toward the atlantic….adored the little lobster restaurants and Arcadia National Park is sensational. Cape Cod and the drive through historical Boston (which you are guarenteed to get lost) is a must – an amazing city. Also the small states of Rhode Island and Connecticuit have some really beautiful, quirky little villages…alot of old money too. We once caught the ferry from New London CN over to Long Island and drove into Manhattan that way, it is worthwhile. The Hamptons are also on Long Island.

    Spent alot of time in Florida, but haven’t done alot of the South….yet….only Texas.

    What I also love about the US is how cheap it is to travel within AND so close to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. Cruises are way less than $100 pp/day and they are on sensational ships and will take you to a variety of destinations in the one trip.

    I think I definitely need to pack up the fam and be a correspondent with you guys hahaha. It is a trip that we will do….probably broken up and travelled in chunks like 6-8 weeks at a time.

    Thank you for writing this post. It has made me smile and honours that amazing country and its people so well.

    1. PS. Forgot to mention Yellowstone when I started typing about Wyoming….bloody amazing….VERY VERY special and historical place. It is worth driving up to Mt Rushmore if you are going across the country as well. I adored it.

    2. So funny as I was reading this, I was thinking, she needs to write a post for us!!

      Awesome comment and suggestions Kim. Thank you for taking the time to share them. You have experienced so much of the things that still sit on my must do list.

      It’s always a thrill for us to meet other Aussies who love the US as much as us. We feel like we’ve met a kindred spirit who just understands how we feel and what we go on about and why. Most people think we’re mad.

      So much awesomeness to experience!

  16. Fun post! We’ve been lucky enough to have visited 48 of the 50 US states, and have lots of favorites. I grew up on Cape Cod, in Massachusetts, so the New England states hold a special place for me. Donny is from Atlanta, so we’ve also seen a lot of the south. Utah and Colorado are right up there too, as is the Pacific Northwest! We’re still missing North Dakota and Alaska…so those are definitely high on the list.

  17. The Pacific Northwest~~~may be cooler than other areas of the USA . Yet many very warm people as well as breathtaking sights.

  18. jennifer fleck

    Wow, what a great post!! So many great places! I believe Utah has just earned a new spot on my bucket list!!

  19. Don’t think I’ve been to any of those places! But I’d add some other spots in Florida: Pensacola – bay of Mexico amazing white sand, Key West down the bottom & Key Largo – pretty eccentric bit such friendly people. Also Yosemite National Park is amazing ( even if you break your ankle there like I did) they sure know how to do National Parks in USA.

    1. The National Parks are amazing in the States. We love them. We have been to those places in Florida as well and had a great time.

  20. Great article and hopefully people will start thinking of the US as a destination not only to do when they’re older. There is so much fun and adventure to be had in our extremely diverse and wonderful country. For my money, anywhere west of Denver will supply you with a memorable vacation.

    1. Agree Dave! So memorable in the West– love the mountain states and South West. I think the States is an amazing destination for younger people

  21. Awww, now you’ve made me homesick :). i’ve always thought that 50 States = 50 different experiences. I spend endless amounts of time trying to encourage people to try something beyond the NY/DC/LA scene that is so heavily marketed. I’ve found the easiest way to do that is tempt them with the Great American Road Trip concept. I’ve been to 46 of the 50 (2 cross country trips), but I’ve been dying to do a coastal drive to the Keys, probably because I’m so sun deprived right now 🙂

    1. I get the sun-deprived feeling!! We love road tripping across the States. We are planning on doing it after our Aussie road trip. So much to experience

  22. Wow! You guys really got around while you were in the USA! I have to say I was eager to make a move out of my home country growing up, but on a recent road trip in California, it won me over again. America is stunning and has so many different landscapes. Plus the people are very warms and welcoming. I’m glad you guys felt that while you were there.

    1. Totally. We have nothing but great things to say. Sure there were some things that annoyed us but you get that in every country. The States has so much to offer, it is a fantastic place.

  23. Hi,
    What a great blog.
    I am from the UK and love the USA. Typically I started in Florida with a Disney visit and then went to St Augustine which is very pretty and has oldest house in USA. Also ventured south to scenic Key West.

    Then moved northwards to Savannah and Charleston both of which are stunning and full of history. Continued to Raleigh and Smoky Mountains (stayed at a lovely little place called Townsend beside a stream).

    Also visited San Francisco, Yosemite, Vegas and Grand Canyon. What diverse scenery you have; count yourselves lucky.

    Let me add that I have been to South Africa and it was so disappointing. Table Mountain is just a flat uninteresting boulder and although Cape Town is pretty enough, it is not jaw droppingly beautiful by any means. The Grand Mesa in Colorado looks more stunning.

    Also Sun City in Africa is so overhyped; it is one casino stuck in the middle of nowhere. I guess when you haven’t got much you tent to overhype and overpromote what you do have which is miles of scrub land. You can see all the animals and more in the Florida theme parks.

    If I could I would have got my money back and never bothered going to South Africa.

    1. Thanks for sharing your tips and experiences We loved all these places you visited too.
      I do love South Africa though and Cape Town is my favourite city. Just goes to show everyone has different perspectives. I’m not interested in Sun City though, it sounds a bit over the top for me.

  24. Virginia! It has Southern charm (and yes, VA is the South– given that Richmond, VA was the capital of the confederacy. Some people argue that VA isn’t in the South. LOL), and TONS of history. Just south of Washington, DC, VA is the home of Thomas Jefferson’s home- Monticello, Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, tons of other historical sites. There are also theme parks– Kings Dominion in Doswell, VA and Busch Gardens and Water Country USA in Williamsburg, and some beautiful cities (though I would skip Richmond on that front!), including Charlottesville and Fredericksburg– another city that is heavy on the history. The Norfolk/VA Beach area is great if you are into Nautical history too. Lots of fun for the kids, and not far from our nation’s capital.

    1. Thanks for sharing all these tips Lily! We haven’t explored much of Virginia and we’re definitely keen to check out these places. We loved Williamsburg and JAmestown!

  25. We’re a military family so we’ve been blessed to have been able to live in various places across the United States. We’ve lived in Connecticut, Colorado, Arizona, Louisiana and Virginia. But I’ve gotta mention my home state, Michigan!
    Surrounded by the great lakes it is a beautiful part of the country you shouldn’t forget. And my hometown of Grand Rapids has great atmosphere! Another tip, visit in September or October for Art Prize. Artist come from all over the globe to display and compete with their art. It’s placed all over the city and you can go on tours to view it and even vote on your favorite pieces.

    1. We had a lot of Michigan friends living in Raleigh. The convinced us it was a place we really need to visit. Will be checking it out next trip to the States

  26. We have been to Tybee Island a few times, so layed back and relaxing. Hard to believe there is so much to do on such a small island. Want to make it back for Pirate Fest, we have heard it’s a really good time.

  27. I’m so glad you’ve had great experiences here! We’ve made several cross-country trips across the U.S., both B.C. (Before Children) and after. We live in Southern California now, but I grew up in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and can therefore highly recommend that part of the country for visiting as well. There is a very large Amish community there, and their way of living is very different from anything most of us in Western cultures are used to. My husband and I have both traveled to parts of Europe, and we’ve taken our eldest son there, but haven’t been able to afford a trip for the entire family yet (we have three children now!). We’re planning it now, however, and when we do it the next time it will be a big one–at least a 6 month stay! Your blog will help provide inspiration for us, so hope to see more of it!

  28. It sounds like you had quite the adventure here in America. I live in Wisconsin, and have for my whole life. I feel as if you missed MANY amazing spots across the country. Sure, you listed all the main tourist spots, but your missing places like Duluth (MN), Seattle (WA), Portland (ME) and other GORGEOUS cities across the country. They all have history and beautiful scenery. Why go to all the hotspots, when you can go a little out of the way and have a unique adventure?

    1. Yes agree Calley, but the US is MASSIVE and we only had limited time and money. We are pretty great at travelling but we are not superhuman. We focused on our Must sees first and then other local spots near to where we were living. And to be honest the majority of the places we put on this list, foreigners would not see, so it does make it out of the way and unique for foreign travellers. We are planning a big road trip of the US in 2 years and we will have at least a year to do it which means we’ll see more of the places that we missed.

  29. Another USA tradition is to participate in the Halloween festivities! When my husband and I visit NYC in the fall, we always make the short drive to one of the best haunted attractions in NJ. If you have not been to a Halloween parade or haunted attraction, you are missing out on a fun tradition.

  30. Cecilia Sanchez

    I am very happy that I came across this post. I live in Southern California, but my dream is to visit other cities and states in the U.S. that aren’t very well known but beautiful. Even though I love California I still want to see other parts of my country. Thank you so much for this.

  31. Caz, loved this post! I lived in six countries and moved 16 times, before finally setting down roots in Wilmington, North Carolina. I love this town and the area all around, so I especially appreciated that you included Wilmington. I do still get the travel bug (feeling inspired by your blog!), but it’s great to be able to come back home to North Carolina.

    1. Oh I’ve been thinking of North Carolina all morning! WE’re very keen to move back next year. Wilmington is such a lovely place, I could easily live there.

  32. Just subscribed to this website and I’ve already been reading for the last hour. Me and my fiancée Stan are leaving the UK in August this year and we start our adventures in the USA – road trip NY to LA. Reading the above has just made me so much more excited …I can’t wait to get started!!

  33. Wish I had of read this three months ago. I loved Utah, drove from Salt Lake City, Jackson WY, Yellowstone NP (wouldn’t go out of my way to return) the Bear Tooth Pass (defiantly on my list to do again) Great Falls MT, Idaho and back to SLC UT. Will be sure to check out southern Utah for my next trip! Thanks for the Tip!

  34. Hello,
    Me and my friend plan a trip but we confused where to go, and we googled and reached your blog post. And we plan a trip to USA. We think this place is better vacation. Thanks for sharing.

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