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The United States of America is a vast, modern country with a diverse culture and abundant beauty. Renowned for its vibrant cities, proud history and bustling commerce, the United States attracts visitors the world over who flock to the many exciting vacation spots, oustanding National Parks and lively metropolitan areas across the country. The people of the United States, hailing from origins as wide and diverse as the world has to offer, are drawn together by a shared desire to forge their own paths toward independence and fulfillment: quite literally, anything goes. Their many struggles and pursuit of the ideals forged by the country’s founders have made the United States a unique and powerful country with ample wonders to discover.
The vastness and the differing terrain of the United States cannot be underestimated. There is something for almost any traveler. Experience the bustling metropolitan atmosphere of the cities; cutting the lower 48 into quarters, you will find at least one city with more than a million residents. Each city has its own unique signature and usually its architecture is a wink to how old it is: you'll find everything from turn of the century brownstones to 21st century wonders under construction. Most American cities are a seamless blend of highbrow and lowbrow culture with everything in between and an open invitation to everyone.
Boston is one of the oldest cities (founded in 1630) and it is one of the most walkable: there is even a little red trail painted on the pavement to guide visitors around its most historic sites as this city was both a hotbed of abolitionism in the years precipitating the American Civil War and also the cradle of the American Revolution; it is also the state capital. Today its pioneering spirit in politics, medicine, and science has made it a very prosperous state whose voice on the national scene belies its smaller size, most recently in 2004 when it became the first city in America to start issuing licenses for gay marriage. On its avenues you'l find very old buildings going back to the colonial era and also quite a few Victorian era brownstones, many overlooking the cleaned waters of the Charles River, dotted with sailboats in summer (and yes, you may rent one if you know how to sail.) On its streets, average citizens include Brazilian, Chinese, and Turkish immigrants chattering as they go off to work, doctors and nurses on the cutting edge of medicine, bankers, lawyers, tech heads heading off to Cambridge, and university students (Harvard is right across the Charles River with MIT, medical schools are everywhere in the city proper, so the city lives up to its reputation as a repository for knowledge and a major force in teaching.) Each and every citizen seems to turn out for 4 main events: First Night, the cold evening between December 31st and January 1st where Bostonians celebrate the New Year on Boston Common with noisemakers, champagne, and singing, the Fourth of July, where the Boston Symphony Orchestra holds a free concert on the banks of the river punctuated by fireworks, St. Patrick's Day, March 17th, where the city celebrates with noise and alcohol the fact that many of its current citizens are the descendants of the massive migration out of Ireland in the 19h and early 20th century (and nowadays even a few Dubliners make there way here, working in Cambridge or in the universities) and then there is a riotous event that happens about four times a year over at Fenway Park, where tickets sell out to watch a 100 year old rivalry play out on the baseball field: the local beloved Boston Red Sox play the much despised New York Yankees. (imagine the roar of thousands of people, even highly educated men like the head of Harvard Law School and the mayor, screaming "Yankees s*ck!"l in perfect unison.)
Another excellent way to see Boston and learn more about its history of the past 100 years is to get in a Duck Boat. these are converted WWII era amphibious vehicles that are perfectly safe (there is a strict licensing and inspection procedure to make sure they run properly) that runs from early spring up until early November and shall take you around the city and get a beautiful view of the skyline.
Next in age is the most populous city in the nation, and one of the best known: New York City, built by the Dutch originally in 1626 but seized by the British in 1664. New York City is an undisputed heavyweight champ in the fields of finance, art, fashion, publishing, and cooking, and its reputation as a city that doesn't sleep is well earned: there is something going on here at nearly every hour of every day. It has everything the mind can conceive of, from brilliant, highly trained opera performers up at Lincoln Center to hip hop clubs and men and women just "breakin' it" uptown in the Bronx on Saturday night. It is often underestimated how much academic work is done in this city as the students tend to blend in with the young and hip crowd that hangs around here: Columbia University is near the Northern border with Harlem, Julliard is in midtown, SVA , Parsons, and NYU dominate downtown, and all of the above are usually found in the coffee shops, poring over their homework or sketching it in the park. New York has open air markets where immigrants from Ecuador chatter in Spanish and sell foods not found within thousands of miles of New York and also very expensive, very tony places like Le Bernardin. It has skyscrapers that are almost a mile high and small places built in the 1930s that Peter Parker would feel comfortable visiting his Aunt May in. It is also a huge repository for artwork, everything from rare objects like Mesopotamian artifacts to ancient Chinese armor to Keith Haring, and its scope is best described in other Tripadvisor articles. It is just too large to cover here.
Los Angeles is next on the list, founded in 1781, and this city has a very modern flavor to it with accents of influences from Asia and Latin America, Mexico in particular. Here you'll find huge skyscrapers sitting in a large valley that extends to the sea and tall mountains and canyons that cut into the landscape from the east. You'll recognize hundreds of locales used for film and television and tours of the studios. You'll find other tourists terrified of what they read in the health and safety section of their travel books, particularly the section on earthquakes, but locals not so much as blinking unless the reading goes above 5.0: it has been 20 years since the L.A. area was hit with a big one and given the preponderance of smaller tremors most figure it isn't worth the worry unless something large and made of concrete falls down. Near downtown, if you ask for directions, you will see the site of the original pueblo the Spanish founded, and find out the city's full name is El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora de Los Ángeles del Río de Porciúncula....hence its shortening a long time ago, for the sake of being able to fit it all on a map and the fact that they renamed the Porciúncula River the L.A. River a century ago. At one of the many amusement parks that pepper the area, you'll hear instructions repeated in Spanish and pamphlets handed out at the main desk in Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Tagalog so that immigrants can take their families here in safety and peace; some local high schools even have mariachi bands in place of glee clubs, singing at football games in perfect Spanish. You'll find octopus salad served up in a Japanese sushi restaurant (complete with businessmen from Tokyo) one day, the next you'll learn how to properly order carnitas al pastor from a local truck for under $10 and at night you'll down a delicious cocktail at one of the many clubs where people have glow in the dark necklaces on, dancing to the hippest of the hip beats. In the cinemas, you'll find plenty of opportunity to watch every kind of movie ever made, everything from summer blockbusters to film festivals dedicated to independent movies or giants of cinema history, like Akira Kurosawa. At the beach, aside from the killer waves and the sunbathing locals, the following is not out of place: a man wearing nothing but a cowboy hat, swim trunks, cowboy boots, scraggly blond hair, a lot of tattoos, & playing a guitar and using a beat up old moped to get around. Local Angelinos won't gawk at this guy thinking he is a nut: they will put extra money in his little tip jar to see what he'll do next, as L.A. is notorious for picking up weird creative types like lint.
Houston is a cowboy town: this area of the nation has folks who are comfortable dressed in Stetson hats and bolo ties and so it has been since the city's founding in 1836: Most early fathers of the city are photographed wearing some variation on this outfit and it is acceptable in most settings, not to mention the most comfortable in the hot sun. Sherriffs and Texas Rangers still hold sway in the law and order department, although nowadays they cover more petty thieves and simple cases of protecting the public during outdoor concerts than they do gunfights at the corral (many Texans drinking beer+live music= a lot of whoo-eee on a hot summer night where people get a little crazy.) Buildings in this city don't go back more than a hundred years because Houston didn't start to grow rapidly until the 1930s and didn't hit a million until after WWII: this city is the fourth largest in the nation, but it is also still developing its story. Two stepping and line dancing are the ways people spend an evening just like they did a hundred years ago and every year the rodeo comes in February. Houston made its fortune as a railyard for the cotton and cattle businesses just before the Civil War and stayed a sleepy little place until somebody struck oil in 1900, and suddenly the cattle ranchers found themselves very rich men in a place nobody expected to find much of anything.Just as everyone started to catch their breath, World War II broke out and suddenly Houston's status as a port city was very useful in the war effort as big tanks and aircraft carriers needed oil and rubber to function and the surrounding area had the men to put it all together and ship it out to sea. When that was over, 20 years later, NASA moved in and to this day Houston is the site of Mission Control, with plenty of physicists counted among its population and generous grants given out to those who want to build a rocket to Mars.
Miami and Las Vegas are the last two cities on the list, and they are the two youngest: their architecture doesn't go farther back than the 1930s because prior to this, neither place was much to write home about: Las Vegas was literally a one pony town out in the middle of nowhere and Miami was this tiny little trading post on the edge of the Everglades. With Miami, it wasn't until the place got popular with the rich and famous did that change: the location meant white sands, palm trees, and a place to see and be seen so much that a lot of celebrities started buying real estate down there and photographing themselves in their bathing suits...a welcome sight to the men on the battlefields of Europe. The architecture is now replete with skyscrapers and Art Deco designs; a lot of business coming from South America has a presence here right alongside the Latin beat in the clubs. Vegas, the youngest of the young, lives up to its nickname of Sin City as it is within driving distance of much larger Los Angeles and plenty of gamblers trying to strike it rich or just have a very adult, but sinfully good time.
If you are interested in natural beauty, you will find breathtaking canyons and rock formations in Utah and Arizona. Adventurers can enjoy abundant skiing, snowboarding and trekking opportunities in most Western states in the winter, and nearly unlimited exciting areas for hiking, biking, climbing and horseback riding in the summer. In the East, there is a spine of mountains that extend from Georgia in the South to Maine in the North called the Appalachians: here the wildlife is often underestimated but the beauty is amazing.
Take your chances in the casinos and see the eye-catching nightlife of Las Vegas or Atlantic City. If a relaxing vacation on a warm, sunny beach is your preference, escape to the tropical paradise of Hawaii or spread out along one of the many beaches lining the west and east coasts of the U.S.
Experience the rare beauty of the largest living things on earth in the Redwood and Sequoia National Parks of California, and the pounding ocean waves crashing upon the rocks in the Pacific Northwest. For sheer quirkiness, visit Key West in Florida.
And don't forget the largest state of all, Alaska - home of glaciers, grizzly bears and almost unimaginably huge areas of unspoiled beauty.
There is so much to see and experience; the possibilities are limitless! For additional information about the USA's natural parks and outdoor areas: http://www.nps.gov/index.htm ... http://www.recreation.gov/welcome.do?... ... http://www.stateparks.com/usa.html
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