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Cities in America

Where to visit in America?

Be astounded by America's cities, each one with its own distinct characteristics, story, and history. From San Francisco, Las Vegas, and New York to the smaller charming towns of Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii. The travel opportunities are immense, each destination leaving a lasting memory. Which American cities are on your bucket list?

10 cities to explore in America

1. New York

Wake up in the city that never sleeps. New York City is bursting with diversity and style. The recognisable skyline, the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge; you won't get more iconic than that. Each neighbourhood - The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island - has its own character. You can easily travel around the city by metro, taxi or bus and discover on foot.

Architectural

Visit the brightly lit Times Square followed by a spectacular Broadway show. Explore Rockefeller Centre and take a trip to the top of the Empire State Building. Experience Grand Central Terminal, an architectural gem, and the city's main transportation hub.

Museums and shopping

Visit must-see museums such as the Metropolitan Museum. Unwind in Central Park. Or visit Brooklyn's nostalgic beachfront neighbourhood of Coney Island to stroll the boardwalk and enjoy the fairground rides. Shopping is no problem either. An abundance of department stores and boutiques can be found in the five neighbourhoods. Whether it's your first visit or your 100th, there's always something new to experience in New York City.

"I enjoyed walking from 125th street in New York, all the way to the South Cove with a view of the Statue of Liberty at night."

Michael, Travel specialist
Discover the city that never sleeps
© Denys nevozhai

2. Las Vegas

Las Vegas is a place like no other, filled with life and colour, the city is located in the Mojave Desert. Temperatures are therefore higher than in other parts of America. Especially in July and August when the average temperature is 40 degrees Celsius. The evenings are cooler in Las Vegas. And that's when the city is at its best.

The Strip

Strolling along the legendary Strip and exploring Fremont Street, you can marvel at graceful hotels and casinos that are, as it is called, open 24/7. Top sights include the fountain shows of The Bellagio, the Eiffel Tower of Hotel Paris, and the recreated New York skyline of the New York-New York Hotel. What goes on inside these hotels and casinos is just as interesting. At least, if you like a gamble. Are the bright lights too much for you? Then visit the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, where you can hike, bike, and climb.

Be dazzled by the bright lights of Vegas
© Nicola Tolin, unsplash
Discover the treasures of Las Vegas
© Juliana Malta, unsplash

3. Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is the capital of Utah. Surrounded by mountains, the city has beautiful views in every direction. The 2002 Winter Olympics were held here. Approximately 45 minutes away, there are 14 ski areas, where you can enjoy 'the greatest snow on earth'. Salt Lake City was founded in 1874 by Mormon pioneers. The city is therefore inextricably linked to the faith of the Mormons. Sights like Temple Square and The Beehive House are good examples of this.

Green bikes

The great thing about Salt Lake City is that the city is easy to explore. The streets are straight and public transport is always on time. For seven dollars, you can also use the 'Green Bikes' for a whole day to explore the city. Take a look at the Capitol State Building, which offers several guided tours, or go shopping at the City Creek shopping centre, a popular spot with the locals. Also, be sure to visit the 9th and 9th districts. Here, you will find nice shops and cosy eateries.

Explore Salt Lake City by bike
Marvel at the colours of the city
© Tanner Crockett, unsplash

4. Seattle

Seattle is a cultural enclave located in northwest Washington. It is the breeding ground of bands like Pearl Jam and Nirvana. It is also the home of Starbucks. You can still see the original storefront of the very first Starbucks coffee shop. Companies such as Amazon and Boeing have also established themselves in Seattle. Anyone with an Amazon account can just walk out of the Amazon Go store with a package and anyone interested in the history of Boeing can visit the Boeing assembly plant.

Pike Place Market

But you can also simply browse Pike Place Market, amid stalls selling cheeses, freshly baked bread, and freshly caught fish. Or visit one of the nearby nature parks. In any case, the climate in and around Seattle is very mild. On clear days, you will hear the locals say: “the mountain is out”. That means Mount Rainer is visible in the distance. A local tip: On the slope of Queen Anne Hill in Kerry Park, you'll have a panoramic view of the Seattle skyline, which is especially beautiful at night.

Enjoy a panoramic view of Seattle
© Thom Milkovic, unsplash
Go neighbourhood hopping!
© Erin Hervey, unsplash

5. Santa Barbara

Most Californian cities are a mixture of different architectural styles and influences. It's different in Santa Barbara. In 1925, the historic centre of the city was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake. As a nod to Santa Barbara's Spanish past, the city council decided that reconstruction should be done in a Mediterranean style. The fact that the Spaniards once ruled here can also be seen from the famous mission posts. The Santa Barbara Mission is one of the city's most visited attractions.

Water sports

Santa Barbara is especially popular with beach lovers, who also like to surf. As well as water sports, you can also spot whales. These mammals use the waters of Santa Barbara as a kind of 'drive-in' during their journey towards Mexico. There's only one thing on the menu: plankton. To satisfy your own hunger, head to one of the seafood restaurants on Stearns Wharf. On Sundays, it's fun to visit the Santa Barbara Arts and Crafts Show. Here, you can find more than 200 stalls selling homemade art.

Soak up the vibrant scenery of Santa Barbara
Savour local food in Santa Barbara

6. Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is all about four things: sun, sea, sand, and surfing. This becomes clear as soon as you drive through the city centre via the legendary, Highway 1. Would you like to learn more about surf culture in Santa Cruz? Then visit the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum. The museum is located in an old lighthouse and overlooks Steamer Lane, one of the best surf spots in the US. If you want to brave the surf yourself afterward, visit one of the many beaches.

The centre

As well as beautiful beaches, Santa Cruz has several parks. Near the university, you will find a large park with sequoia trees, meadows, and rivers. At the end of the day, you should definitely take a walk along the boardwalk and take a ride on the Giant Dipper, a large wooden roller coaster. In the centre of Santa Cruz are many shops and cosy boutiques. Live performances often take place in cafes and you can also find street musicians, everywhere.

Absorb the beach lifestyle!
© Ian mackey
Discover the local lifestyle of Santa Cruz
© Hamish duncan

7. Portland

Portland, Oregon's largest city, has a relatively large number of young residents who make a conscious effort to keep their city sustainable, innovative, and accessible. Portland has countless beautiful city parks, including the gigantic Washington Park (166 hectares). This park is home to an abundance of flora and fauna from around the world, plus a zoo, tennis courts, and even an archery range.

Microbreweries

Portland also has more than 75 microbreweries with a twice-daily happy hour. If you look too deeply into the glass, you can score a delicious cup of coffee the next day, because there are almost as many coffee shops. For the best food in the city, you should not be in the centre, but in the suburbs.

Stay in a hip tiny house in Portland
© TravelEssence
Be amazed by Portland's skyline

8. San Francisco

In the midst of the tumultuous 1960s, San Francisco was the cradle of the hippie movement. Scott McKenzie sang in 1967: “If you are going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair”. Today, the city is still a haven for the free spirit, full of iconic landmarks.

Alcatraz

Take a ferry to Alcatraz Island, where the most dangerous criminals in the US were once held. Admire the curves and flower gardens of Lombard Street. Stroll along Fisherman's Wharf, with its restaurants and attractions. Or have a picnic in the park of Alamo Square, opposite the colourful Victorian houses known as the 'Painted Ladies'.

Golden Gate Bridge

In any case, crossing the famous Golden Gate Bridge is a must. This can be done on foot, by car or by bicycle, but you can also view this modern wonder of the world from the water during a sailing trip through the bay. The best way to visit the various hip neighbourhoods of San Francisco is to travel with the old-fashioned trams or 'cable cars'.

Conquer the Golden Gate Bridge
© TravelEssence
Explore the neighbourhoods of San Francisco
© Aaron kato

9. Los Angeles

On the Pacific Ocean, surrounded by mountains and desert, lies 'the city of the angels', or Los Angeles. With its Mediterranean climate and vibrant film industry, this is the second-most popular metropolis in the US after New York.

Universal Studios

When you think of LA, you naturally think of Hollywood. To Beverly Hills and favourite Hollywood movies. A day should be filled with a visit to Universal Studios and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But this city has so much more to offer than meets the eye. Be sure to visit the Griffiths Observatory on Mount Hollywood. With a planetarium, changing exhibitions, and telescopes that you can gaze through endlessly.

Griffiths Park

Watch an LA Lakers game or immerse yourself in American sport with a baseball game at the Dodgers Stadium. There are countless interesting museums, such as the imposing Getty Centre. Warship USS Iowa is also highly recommended. Finish the day in Griffiths Park, with a walk and a picnic, and then watch the sunset followed by millions of lights.

Discover the local gems of Los Angeles
© Haneen Krimly, unsplash
There is plenty to do and see in Los Angeles
© Olenka Kotyk, unsplash

10. Hawaii

Hawaii is the 50th state of America. Although the archipelago is of course known for its tropical beaches and beautiful nature, Hawaii also has a number of charming cities that are definitely worth visiting. The largest city and also the capital of Hawaii is Honolulu. Honolulu is a large and busy city and for many people a starting or ending point of their trip through Hawaii. We have listed some of our favourite local places to visit in Hawaii for more inspiration.

The hula is the traditional dance of Hawaii
© hawaii tourism authority | nicholas tomasello
Discover the treasures of Hawaii
© Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau (IHVB) / Kawika Singson

Kailua-Kona

Kona is a fantastic place for snorkelling, diving or fishing. The district is split into two parts: North Kona and South Kona. The city of Kailua-Kona is located in the northern part of Kona. It is also located at the bottom of the Hualalai Volcano. This city used to be the residence of many monarchs due to the excellent weather conditions and the proximity of drinking water.

The historic centre

Stroll through the seaside town and historic centre of Kailua-Kona, which is home to plenty of cosy restaurants and shops. It's also the ideal destination for learning more about Hawaii's rich culture. Kailua-Kona has some very important historical sites. Here, you will find the Hulihee Palace and the Mokuaikaua Church, both located on Alii Drive. Also, King Kamehameha spent his later years in Kamakahonu Bay, near Kailua Pier until his death in 1819. Here you will also find the Ahuena Heiau, which is a temple and is on the Register of National Historic monuments.

The cosy port town of Kailua-Kona is set in a beautiful location
© Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Heather Goodman
In the vicinity, you can discover the beautiful lush nature
© Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Heather Goodman

Pearl City

Pearl City is located approximately 16 killometres west of Honolulu on the third-largest island of Oahu. The city is known for one of Hawaii's most famous visitor attractions: Pearl Harbour, the place where World War II started in the United States. It is across the street from Aloha Stadium. No visit to Oahu is complete without a stop at the Pearl Harbour Historic Sites, which consists of the USS Arizona Memorial, Battleship Missouri Memorial, USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park, and the Pacific Aviation Museum.

The Pearl City area

A few kilometres away is Pearlridge Centre, the state's largest indoor shopping mall. Pearlridge Centre consists of Pearlridge Uptown and Pearlridge Downtown, which in turn consists of more than 170 shops, restaurants, and services, including a miniature golf course and 16 theaters. Between the two separate malls is Sumida Farm, the largest supplier of watercress in the state of Hawaii. Pearlridge Centre also features the island's only monorail on which shoppers can enjoy a scenic drive overlooking Pearl Harbor Historic Sites.

Visit the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites
© Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson
Pearl city is known, among other things, for the famous visitor attraction: Pearl Harbour
© Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

Hilo

Hilo is the capital of Big Island Hilo and is located on the east coast. You will find historic buildings, restaurants, and museums here. Surrounding Hilo, you will also find lush rainforests, blooming gardens, and beautiful waterfalls. The idyllic Akaka Falls State Park, less than half an hour from Hilo, takes the cake.

Cultural capital

Hilo is also considered the cultural capital of the island. Discover the area's fascinating history at the Lyman Museum, learn about the terrifying tsunamis that engulfed Hilo at the Pacific Tsunami Museum. Be sure to visit the galleries and museums in downtown Hilo and pick up some tasty local produce at the farmer's market, which is open every day of the week.

The beautiful nature

Hilo is filled with tropical natural beauty. Visit De Liliuokalani Gardens, a peaceful retreat where you can enjoy beautiful Japanese-style fish ponds and rock gardens. You can also visit the country's only rainforest zoo: Panaewa Rainforest Zoo. Here, you will find a collection of exotic plants and wildlife, including two Bengal tigers. Whatever your itinerary, a visit to Hilo is well worth the trip to experience the authentic taste of the island of Hawaii.

Discover the lush rainforests surrounding Hilo
© Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Heather Goodman
Be fascinated by Hawaii's rich culture
© Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Kirk Aeder
Admire Hawaii's stunning flowers
Have close encounters with an Hawaiian green sea turtle
© Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau (IHVB) / Tyler Schmitt

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