Death Valley, California
Is there a road trip on any continent greater than what can be done in the US of A?
Is it the entire change in environment and geography without having to leave the country that intrigues us so much? There’s something about switching from red, rocky monoliths in the Arizonan south, to the golden sand beaches of California and craggy coastal highways, to lush Seattle forests all on one stretch of road.
Long, empty highway stretching out before you, wind whipping through your hair, Tim McGraw blaring from the speakers; does life get better?
Las Vegas Nevada
How else could you experience the great open Nevada highways; winding through the desert to the ultimate capital of sin; Las Vegas. Blinding neon lights, blazing music and punters wandering the streets with a straw and a bottle of whatever you fancy - the most impressive adult playground in the world certainly lives up to its debaucherous reputation. But amongst the glaring lights, it’s also awe-inspiring.
Take in the late night water fountain show at the Bellagio, see the magic of a Cirque du Soleil performance at any one of the dozens of jaw-dropping hotels on The Strip, or watch Britney, Celine or Mariah during their residency at the likes of Planet Hollywood or Caesar’s Palace. Of course, you can’t come to Vegas without trying their hand at a game of blackjack or two, so sit back and part with a few stacks of chips, and score a couple of free drinks.
So long as you leave Sin City without re-mortgaging your house, losing your groom-to-be on his stag night, or better yet, visiting Elvis in a little white chapel - you can chalk that up as a successful holiday.
Now, shield your eyes from the cold light of day and head back to reality.
Luckily, just up the road, the stunning Californian beaches are the perfect place to rest, relax and rejuvenate. World-renown In-N-Out Burger also might just be the best Vegas antidote.
San Francisco, California
Heading north along the coast, San Francisco stretches out before you like the illustrations of a Dr. Seuss book. Ornate and orderly houses stack the sloping hills, and are an excellent backdrop to jump on a tram and head for the sights. While your first stop is more than likely going to be posing next to, or walking over, the Golden Gate Bridge - make sure to stop into nearby Chinatown for a jaunt around its amazing eateries and kitschy souvenir shops. For lunch, it’s almost set down by law that a traveller to San Francisco has to stop in at the Ferry Building Marketplace on the iconic Embarcadero for a clam chowder, served in a bread bowl.
The infamous rocky outcrop of Alcatraz is a tour for the ages, and every bit as spooky and intimidating as the legends suggest. The ferry ride out to the historic prison is an experience in itself, as is the ability to lock yourself (or someone you’re not feeling particularly fond of that day) in a prison cell, and wander around the grounds.
And if you’re still feeling game - try find the Tanner residence; because what 90s child didn’t grow up with Full House?!
Further north still, at the tip of the West Coast, the Oregon redwood forests allow a perfect escape into a woodland fairytale, and Portland’s hipster cool sets the scene for an afternoon testing the city’s incredible microbreweries.
Times Square, New York
Swapping oceans, the obvious next step (if it wasn’t your first) is a trip to the Empire State and the crowning jewel in America’s crown that is New York - where two weeks of sightseeing will make you feel as though you haven’t yet scratched the surface. For, in the words of Alicia Keys: There's nothing you can't do, now you're in New York.
Stand in the middle of Times Square and ogle at the brightly flashing lights, while being hugged by a giant M&M. Ice-skate in Central Park. Eat chicken and waffles in Harlem, where bespoke and down-to-earth eateries are growing exponentially in popularity. Take in Lady Liberty and Staten Island, Wall Street, the Flatiron Building, Brooklyn Bridge, and pay your tributes at the incredibly-moving World Trade Centre memorial. Make like King Kong and head up the Empire State Building (via the elevator, don’t go grappling with the antenna or swatting away planes from the top just yet) or the Rockefeller Centre to watch the sunset. Chinatown can’t be overlooked here either; nor can Little Italy, for a slice of pizza or a bowl of pasta.
Spend hours, or days, strolling the infinite list of world-renown galleries on offer; MoMa, the Met, the Guggenheim… there’s too many to count. And when the sun starts to set, head for SoHo or the newly-hip Meatpacking District for a sophisticated drink and a bite to eat to see or be seen. You never know what calibre of celebrity you’ll be rubbing shoulders with. The wicked blanket of night enveloping the city only adds more options to the mix. Who could pass up the chance to watch a timeless classic on Broadway, or spend the night at a club in TriBeCa?
And if you find it humanely possible to tear yourself away from the Big Apple, more of America’s most intriguing cities are just a short trip away.
Venturing south, Washington DC is the pit stop for culture, political intrigue and losing yourself in museums for at least a week. In Philadelphia, climb the 72 stone steps to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, arms lifted in triumph a la Rocky Balboa. Then wrap those triumphant arms around a Philly Cheese Steak - you will not regret it.
And an easy trip north of New York is the historical mecca that is Boston, where you can follow in the footsteps of the American forefathers on the Freedom Trail, and take in the (almost all recreated, but entertaining nonetheless) site of the Boston Tea Party.
With so much on offer on just each of the coasts, and a multitude of culture, sights and southern cooking wedged in-between, there’s never been a better time to head for the Americas. After all, there’s only 40-something states more to go.