In this Destination Guide you will find information for :
United States of America
♦Capital: Washington DC
♦Currency: American Dollar (USD) ($)
♦Zone: Various GMT
♦Phone Code: +1
♦Best time to visit: March to June
♦Must eat: American ribbs.
♦Must drink: Coca-cola
♦Don't miss: Walking in Manhatan, NY
♦Number of times visited: 6
Getting there and transportation: The United States of America is a ginormous country which has many ways of arriving. Either by air, rail or road. Back in the 1900's it was also popular to travel to the States by ship. Those days have long gone with the revolution in air travel.
The country spans an incredible radius of over 4.300km, which means travelling to the USA and within it, is better by air. The USA has 3 major airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Airlines, all of which offer a great route network from many European, African, Asian and Australian cities to America, travelling direct to some of the countries major hubs.
When travelling from Europe, in addition, many national carries offer daily flights to many USA cities, the most popular destinations being on the east coast, such as New York, Boston, Miami, Chicago and Washington DC. However when travelling from Asia or Australia the most popular destinations are Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. Naturally there is more presence of Asian national carriers on this side of the country.
Tip: The choice is vast, and so is the competition, with many airlines fighting for the market. They offer special deals and packages which benefit travellers taking up flights and Hotels together in order to save money. This is very recommended when travelling to USA as generally Hotels are expensive.
Flights are also the best option when travelling domestically in the USA, taking up to 6 hours to cross coast to coast. If not making a transit stop with the major airlines then it's also worth looking at the low coast airlines which operate in the country. Airlines such as Jet blue, Frontier Airlines and Southwest amongst many more are the main competitors in the low cost market.
Other options when travelling to the USA from neighbouring countries, include train and bus. Specially rail from Canada is more popular and busses from either Canada and Mexico. Journey times are considerably long from one state to another so it's always suggested check air tickets as the first alternative. Unless you like doing a road trip for many days! For the locals, it's quite common to reach other states by coach. This being an economical option, although lengthy rides at times and not the most comfortable vehicles are some of the negative sides. The most popular company used is Greyhound.
Within the country, transportation is widely available in every city and town. There are ample options to choose from in the major cities whilst in smaller towns there are at least public busses. Each main city has its unique transport system, combined with metro, busses, trams, rail etc. Please refer to each city for a more detailed overview of their transport options.
Another popular option when travelling in the USA is driving. It's roads are generally straight, in good condition and are easy to navigate your way around. Most local people own a car, so it's definitely widespread to use cars in smaller cities where the minimum driving age is only16 years old. One of the key tourists attractions is to drive along the 66 road route through the desserts.Running between Chicago and Los Angeles, over two thousand miles, this legendary old road passes through the heart of the United States on a diagonal trip that takes in some of the country’s most archetypal roadside scenes.
Weather and temperature: The climate is generally continental on the upper half of the country, with a warmer climate taking shape as you travel down to the lower half of the country. Therefore each city can be extremely different depending when you are travelling. Temperatures are generally cold and get below 0 C in the upper half whilst in the south they enjoy mild winter's but harsh summer's up to 40-45C at times! Check every city's weather information for a more detailed report.
What to eat and drink: Americans' appetite for learning more about food and becoming familiar with diverse cuisines has grown exponentially in the past decade, along with their waistlines. In large cities, restaurants are mostly modern and very clean, offering a vast range of cuisines, prices and facilities. Restaurants come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from fast-food, self-service and counter service, to drive-thru and table service. There are numerous options for casual and fine dining alike. 'Diners', now a fading US institution, consist of simple food served from the counter. These are often located in smaller towns, and although they have been replaced by fast food chains in many areas, can still be found along the east coast and in parts of the southern US, midwest and southwest.
Given the country's diverse cultural groups, the range of cuisines available in the US is large. In fact, many people believe the US does not have its own distinct cuisine. There are however many ethic cuisine in the large cities like New York, New Orleans or Los Angeles.
American servings and dishes are always big in size, something which resembles the size of many of it's people being over weight. Everywhere you go it's common to be able to have free re-fills, including coffee and sugary drinks.
Famous american dishes and specialities include: Hamburgers, Fried chicken, Barbecue, Cheesecake, Key lime pie and Apple pie.
As for drinks, Coca-Cola is the number one drink with it's other associated flavours. Regional wines are popular specially in California. Microbrewery beer. Speciality coffees and regional cocktails (Manhattan in New York; the Sazerac or the Vieux Carre in New Orleans).
Curiosities of dinning in America: There are also many types of bars, cocktail lounges, café-style bars and English-style pubs. Waiter/waitress service costs more than self-service or take-out and at the end of the service expect an extra surcharge for the service, plus they would expect a tip on top. (Wages are generally low for them so they rely heavily on these tips and surcharges). Another thing to take into account is the general norm not to include the VAT (TAX), so a meal which might look cheap at first might not be as much when you get the bill. (cheque as they say in the states).