The USA's landscapes and cities are incredibly diverse and you could spend a lifetime trying to explore all of them. To help you experience the best of both worlds on a trip to the USA our specialists have put together some ideas that combine a city adventure with some of America's wildest places.
Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon
Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon National Park couldn't be more different. The glass and neon lights of Las Vegas soar up from the Nevada Desert floor. Here you can experience its many casinos and dine in some of America's finest restaurants. Subtlety is not Vegas' strong point, but it makes for a heady adventure for a few days.
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon National Park, by contrast, is calming, quiet and magnificent. The park gets its fair share of visitors, but the sheer scale of the landscape swallows them comfortably, and a peaceful vantage point is easy to find. Whether you hike down into the canyon, take a helicopter flight,experience a white water rafting trip on the Colorado River or just admire the views from the edge or the Skywalk, it's the perfect antidote to the excesses of Las Vegas.
USA itinerary ideas
San Francisco and Yosemite National Park
San Francisco is that rare thing in western USA – a city where it's best to get around on foot, although if you prefer you can hop on a cable car to sample its many sights, cafés and bars. The city is undoubtedly photogenic. From the hills the views of the sparkling bay, Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge are remarkable, while the Transamerica Pyramid dominates the skyline.
Yosemite National Park
Head just three and a half hours west from San Francisco, and you come to the natural world of Yosemite National Park. The mountain vistas of El Capitan and Half Dome are some of the grandest on the continent. Here you can explore its many trails, and take in its beautiful waterfalls and giant sequoias. There's also a chance of spotting black bears and mountain lions in this huge expanse of wilderness high in the Sierra Nevada.
New Orleans and its bayous
Down in the Deep South, the Big Easy, otherwise known as New Orleans, is tucked into the final few bends of the Mississippi River. You can feel New Orleans' history in its buildings. Explore the neighbourhoods, from the 18th century Creole townhouses of the French Quarter to the 19th century mansions of the Garden District. This is a city where eating, drinking and music play a major role, so be sure to try the local delicacies and experience some live jazz.
Bayous and swamplands
Just a few hours out of town, the bayous are a natural escape from the city. The Bayou Sauvage National Park lies within the city limits of New Orleans and the Atchafalaya Swamp in south-central Louisiana is one of the most ecologically diverse regions in the USA. As well as alligators, you can expect to see turtles and a wide variety of birdlife including bald eagles and blue herons in these subtropical swamps.
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Boston and the White Mountains
Boston is a very walkable place, and the red brick marked Freedom Trail allows you to explore the main sites such as Boston Common, the gold-domed State House, Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall at your own pace. The city's ocean-side location guarantees a plentiful supply of top quality seafood, and you will have a pick of top quality restaurants to eat it.
The White Mountains
Bostonians escape the city by heading north, up I-93, the freeway that leads to the White Mountains. With 48 peaks over 4000 feet (1,219 metres) covered in thick forest, this range is the ideal home for bears, moose, raccoons and skunks. While the highways can get busy in summer and when the leaves change colour in autumn, most visitors stick close to their cars, and a short hike will enable you to leave the crowds far behind.
Seattle and Mount Rainier National Park
Seattle's compact core of downtown skyscrapers overlook the Puget Sound, with the 14,000 foot volcanic cone of Mount Rainier as a backdrop. It's known for its alternative culture and arts scene and exploring the city by bicycle is easy, or there is a very good public transport system to help you get around its many attractions. As well as the ubiquitous Starbucks, there are many locally owned coffeehouses to sample. The Pacific Northwest is also renowned for its microbreweries, should you want something stronger.
Mount Rainier National Park
Two hours' drive south of Seattle, Mount Rainier National Park is home to alpine meadows, glaciers, waterfalls and forests for you to enjoy on one of its many walking trails. The Cascade Range, of which Mount Rainier is the highest peak, is characterised by volcanoes that reach miles above the surrounding plains. It's a good idea to keep your eyes peeled at all times here, as there is an abundance of wildlife to spot, including deer, Roosevelt elk, bears, mountain goats and more than 100 bird species.