United States
United States
Hotels
Things to DoRestaurantsFlightsVacation RentalsTravel StoriesCruisesRental CarsMore

Plan Your Trip to United States: Best of United States Tourism

United States

There’s a reason road trips are fundamental to American life: In a country this huge and packed with so much wonder, it’s hard to stay put in one place. Plus getting around is part of the fun if you’re taking in California’s rocky coastline on the Pacific Coast Highway, New England’s fall foliage on Route 1, or the purple mountains along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Or you might be on a quest to discover the country’s best food (Chicago’s deep-dish pizza is a good start), music (street-corner jazz in New Orleans or honky-tonk country in Nashville), or outdoor adventures (the Grand Canyon is called “grand” for a reason). Even if you just want to kick back—hello, Florida beaches!—don’t be surprised if you feel the urge to keep exploring everything the U.S. of A offers.

Travel Advice

Essential United States

United States Is Great For

The great outdoors

Historic sites

Eat & drink

United States Travel Guide

Travelers' pro tips for experiencing United States

MaryEllenM27

Buy an America the Beautiful National Parks Pass. It works for the Grand Canyon and for over 2,000 federal parks and National Forest areas.

Agro_Sydney

Try not to get too stressed worrying about tipping. Some restaurant bills or bar tabs have a suggested tip, e.g. 15%, 18%, 20%. I only give 20% for exceptional service or for a Taxi from the airport. You don't have to tip for retail, fast food outlets, or public transport.

here&there

Respect the line. I see different cultures cut, rush, or food shop back and forth while they are in line to pay. I know this is standard practice in other countries, but not in this one. When someone says something, don’t act like you didn’t see a line!

NorthofDC

Every place in the U.S. (with a very, very few exceptions) adds sales tax. It is almost the same as the VAT, but in the U.K. the VAT is included in the price; in the U.S. it almost never is (except for movies, plays, attractions, and even those are not predictable). And every state has its own tax rate, and major cities often tack on a little more.

LizAndNZ

For overseas tourists, I learned it is unwise to enter into debates about contentious issues with Americans. It may end in tears! Most New Yorkers and San Franciscans seem to be more liberal in outlook, but there are a lot of more conservative folks out there. Our views on Second Amendment rights and the current President are unwelcome to many. It may be more respectful to avoid the subjects, after all, it is their country.

Bottomshelfhockey

There’s a reason the Grand Canyon is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Wow!

Lpb1

Our West Coast is a wonderful place to visit. You might consider flying into Los Angeles, renting a car and driving up the coast, stopping in Carmel, San Francisco, and then driving up into Washington state.

rockyjoe

My two favorite cities are Las Vegas and New York City. You can't go to these two places and not have a good time.

FLboy22

Florida Keys is the only destination in the United States where you are in the Caribbean while still standing on U.S. soil!

JAtlanta

San Francisco is absolutely beautiful, and you will not want to miss visiting there and visiting the wine country. Along with San Francisco, my favorite American cities to visit are New York, Chicago, and Boston.

What is the best way to get there?

flying

International airports are located in all major cities throughout the United States.

Do I need a visa?

If you’re visiting the United States from overseas, use the government’s Visa Wizard to see if you need a visa.

When is the best time to visit?

Any time: The United States is a year-round destination. The summer months are often the busiest for city sightseeing, however, visiting in spring or autumn can mean fewer crowds. For winter travelers, cities like New York are magical over the holidays, but you could also hit the ski slopes in Colorado or Vermont, or escape to the sunny shores of Florida or Hawaii.

Festivals take place throughout the seasons in the United States, with top events including Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Burning Man in Nevada (August), South by Southwest in Austin (March), and Coachella in California (April).

Get around

flights

Flying is by far the quickest way to travel around the U.S. It’s often more expensive than public transport but there are good deals to be found if you book in advance and travel outside of peak times.

train

Amtrak operates high-speed trains linking cities around the nation. Multi-ride tickets and rail passes are available.

bus

Trailways, Megabus, and Greyhound operate low-cost long-distance bus services to destinations all around the United States.

On the ground

What is the timezone?

The United States has six different time zones: Pacific Daylight Time in the west, Mountain Daylight Time in the central west, Central Daylight Time in the central east, Eastern Daylight Time in the east, Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time in Hawaii, and Alaska Daylight Time in Alaska.

What are the voltage/plug types?

The standard voltage in the United States is 120 V and the standard frequency is 60 Hz. The plug has two flat parallel pins.

What is the currency?

The U.S. Dollar

Are ATMs readily accessible?

Yes.

Are credit cards widely accepted?

Yes.

How much do I tip?

Bartender

$1-2 a drink

Restaurant

15-20%

Bellhop

$1 to 3 per bag

Housekeeper

$2-$3 per night

Taxis/rideshare

15-20%

Shuttle driver

$1-$2 per person

Tour guide

10-20%

Are there local customs I should know?

Drinking

The federal legal age for buying and drinking alcohol is 21 years old. A photo ID is required to purchase alcohol or enter bars and nightclubs, regardless of your age.

Public transport

Allow others to disembark before boarding, don’t take up more than one seat, and stand to offer seating to pregnant women or someone with a disability.

Walking

In cities, walk to the right of the sidewalk and step off to the side of the sidewalk if you want to stop to check your phone, look up directions, or want to take in a view. Be aware that jaywalking is illegal in much of the United States and fines apply—cross only at dedicated crossings.

Driving

Americans drive on the right-hand side of the road. Traffic laws can vary between states, so it’s worth finding out about any local differences if you plan on driving. It is legal to turn right on a red light if it’s safe to do so unless there are signs stating otherwise.

Speak English

Although you may find Spanish is common in some parts of the United States, in general, don’t expect locals to speak any languages other than English.

Add 10% to everything

Sales tax is added to goods and services purchased throughout the United States, although each state sets its own rate and some states, such as Delaware, have no sales tax. This is not shown on sales tags and prices; instead, it’s added to the bill when you pay. To avoid any nasty surprises when the time comes to pay, expect an added 10% to anything that you buy.

Don’t forget to tip

Tipping is essential in the United States as many staff in the service industry rely on tips to make a living wage. Unlike in other countries, it is deemed unacceptable and rude to not tip, even if the service was not up to standard (although you can choose to tip less or make a complaint). It is not customary to tip at fast-food restaurants.

Get used to supersizing

Many travelers comment that the portion sizes in the U.S. are larger than they are used to back home. Don’t worry; it is not considered impolite to leave a meal unfinished and often you can ask for your leftover food to be boxed up to go.

Spitting

Spitting is considered rude in any public setting.

Find more information about local customs and etiquette in the United States generally here.