Features // North America

The best theme parks in America
The best theme parks in America

The USA is practically bursting with amusement parks, from the sprawling and city-sized to the off-beat and unexpectedly endearing. Cotton candy and corn dogs, kiddie rides and coasters – here are the best theme parks in America. Six Flags Magic Mountain, California Magic Mountain boasts the world record for most roller coasters in a single amusement park, clocking…

The most haunted places in America
The most haunted places in America

Ghost stories are fun. Though folk tales and flatout fabrications abound, the best of them possess a kernel of historic truth that prompt us to ponder the lives of those who inhabited the world before we came along. From Hollywood horror hotspots to dilapidated colonial settlements, here are the most haunted places in America. Fact…

Where to stay in LA: an area by area guide
Where to stay in LA: an area by area guide

Few regions of the world have been as idealized and mythologized as California – and yet it seldom fails to live up to the hype. The glamour, surf beaches and near-endless sun of the Southern California coast are rightly celebrated, with Los Angeles, the second-most populous city in the US (after New York), at their…

The ultimate foodie’s guide to Mexico
The ultimate foodie’s guide to Mexico

Banish thoughts of boring burritos and tasteless Tex Mex; it’s not just chillies that are making Mexican food hot right now. The country’s diverse cuisine is so good, it’s been granted UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage status (French is the only other gastronomy), and there’s everything from tasty tacos to fine-dining fusion. Here are some of…

15 things to do on the Las Vegas Strip
15 things to do on the Las Vegas Strip

A dazzling oasis where forty million people a year let their hair down, Las Vegas has made a fine art of indulging its visitors’ every appetite. From its ever-changing architecture to cascading chocolate fountains, adrenaline-pumping zip lines and jaw-dropping stage shows, everything is built to thrill. The Strip is where the real action is, a…

6 reasons why Montana is the star of America’s west
6 reasons why Montana is the star of America’s west

America’s fourth largest state, Montana is bigger than Germany or Japan. Despite the presence of some of the nation’s fastest highways, the drive from one side to the other takes around twelve hours. Fortunately, many of the state’s most treasured destinations and experiences are clustered in the rugged western portion, making it less daunting for the…

On the trail of the real Twin Peaks in the USA
On the trail of the real Twin Peaks in the USA

It’s been 25 years since we first saw the famous Twin Peaks waterfall disgorging through the show’s opening credits, and the town’s kooky characters speaking enigmatically over their cherry pies in the local diner. David Lynch’s masterwork was so effective in evoking this small-town atmosphere because he used actual localities of Washington State in the…

The best city breaks in the USA
The best city breaks in the USA

There are so many great US cities that there’s almost too much choice when planning a short break. Whether you want to chase the sunshine, stuff yourself silly, or check out the best local beats, we’ve got it covered. These are the best US cities for a weekend away. Best for music: Austin, Texas Austin does a great job…

Lunenburg: Canada’s most colourful town
Lunenburg: Canada’s most colourful town

Twenty years ago the facades of the wood-built buildings in Lunenburg, a UNESCO-listed fishing town in Nova Scotia, were white with black trimming. The only exceptions were the red buildings down by the wharf. But in 2007 the new owners of the Mariner King Inn kickstarted a trend. They decided to repaint their multi-building property,…

Isla de las Muñecas: Mexico’s terrifying island of haunted dolls
Isla de las Muñecas: Mexico’s terrifying island of haunted dolls

They hang from trees and clothes lines. Bits of plastic bodies jammed onto fenceposts and nailed to cabin doors, decaying heads strewn among the island’s greenery, gazing at visitors through insect-infested eye-sockets. Welcome to Mexico‘s Isla de las Muñecas, or Island of Dolls. Located deep in Xochimilco, a borough just 28km south of Mexico City, the Isla de las Muñecas…

8 things you didn’t know you could do in Ontario, Canada
8 things you didn’t know you could do in Ontario, Canada

There’s more to see in Canada’s most populated province than ice hockey, forests and freely flowing maple syrup – and some of it’s pretty weird. From the world’s largest Elvis Presley festival, to axe throwing ranges in Toronto, here are just a few things you didn’t know you could do in Ontario. 1. Drink Dead Elephant Ale…

San Antonio Missions: a guide to one of the newest UNESCO sites
San Antonio Missions: a guide to one of the newest UNESCO sites

Strung along a 10 mile stretch of the San Antonio River, five Spanish missions shimmer in the south Texas sun. Built in the early 1700s, with ornate limestone churches and picturesque bell towers, they make up the largest collection of Spanish Colonial architecture in the USA. In July 2015 the San Antonio missions were designated…

A Mexican food adventure: the best restaurants in Mexico City
A Mexican food adventure: the best restaurants in Mexico City

Spicy chiles aside, there’s no hotter dining city in North America than the capital of Mexico. Since it was first established by the Aztecs in the fourteenth century, Mexico City has sprawled in every direction, and today the metro area contains upwards of 21 million people. As the largest Spanish-speaking city in the world, Mexico…

Diehard Detroit: video captures the city’s bright future
Diehard Detroit: video captures the city’s bright future

Detroit has been much maligned over the last decade. The largest US city ever to file for bankruptcy, in the summer of 2013, it became the poster child for urban blight. As industry moved out, photographers moved in, fed by an online fascination with “ruin porn”. Hundreds came to see the beauty of Detroit’s crumbling…

Fredericksburg: the small city with a big history
Fredericksburg: the small city with a big history

Just an hour’s drive from Washington DC, you’ll find Fredericksburg, a charming historic city with a bloody past. Some of the bitterest battles of the Civil War were fought here, and the city’s close ties with George Washington and James Monroe made it a frequent stopping point for influential figures during the Revolutionary War. Fredericksburg’s…

Florida for kids: 8 ideas for family fun
Florida for kids: 8 ideas for family fun

The aptly nicknamed “Sunshine State” – a land of orange groves, everglades, pelicans, Key lime pie and miles of gorgeous, sugary sands – is a great place for a family holiday. Within Florida’s borders you’ll find bucket-list attractions that range from NASA’s space centre to Disney’s Magic Kingdom, while the mild climate makes the state…

18 things everyone should know before visiting the USA
18 things everyone should know before visiting the USA

If there’s one constant about the USA, it’s change. The country’s pioneer spirit is reflected in its bold outlook and ever-evolving nature, which extends to all corners of the land, from the gleaming skyscrapers of New York to star-saturated Hollywood – and even beyond, to the first human landing on the moon. Here are 18…

Offbeat America: 7 weird and wonderful things to do in the USA
Offbeat America: 7 weird and wonderful things to do in the USA

It’s hard to encapsulate the full depth and variety of the USA – any nation that can marry cities as life-filled as New York, San Francisco and LA with landscapes as breathtaking as those of Alaska, Arizona and Hawaii is beyond easy summary. Its rewards come in droves, from all-American icons like baseball, blues and bourbon to…

8 unexpected reasons to visit the Florida Keys
8 unexpected reasons to visit the Florida Keys

Unexpected sums up the Florida Keys. Just one road, the Overseas Highway, connects these long, narrow islands, strung out between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic. With names as varied as No-Name Key, Fiesta Key and Fat Deer Key, this coral cay archipelago has North America’s only coral barrier reef, indigenous Key Deer and…

Hoboken: the city that got its buzz back
Hoboken: the city that got its buzz back

Hoboken, the mile-square city in New Jersey, directly across the Hudson River from downtown Manhattan, is back on its feet. And as Allison Singer discovers, not only has the birthplace of baseball and “ol’ blue eyes” himself, Frank Sinatra, become a popular choice of residence for young professionals who don’t want to combat sky-high Manhattan…

The best beaches in Hawaii
The best beaches in Hawaii

Renowned the world over for their palm-fringed beaches and spectacular scenery, the ravishing islands of Hawaii poke up from the Pacific more than two thousand miles
 off the west coast of America. There’s nowhere better to get a fix of sun, sea and surf. To help you to get the best out of your trip,…

This video takes you from Mexico to Canada on foot in 3 minutes
This video takes you from Mexico to Canada on foot in 3 minutes

The fabled Pacific Crest Trail guides adventuresome hikers from the borders of Mexico to Canada, blazing across the deserts, mountain ranges and dense forests that make up America’s breathtaking Western States (California, Oregon, and Washington). It usually takes five months for thru-hikers to complete, but you’re about to make the 4286km journey in less than three minutes.…

The best islands in the Great Lakes
The best islands in the Great Lakes

The Great Lakes comprise the largest body of fresh water on the planet and more than 35,000 islands are found in the water system. Not all are inhabited and some aren’t much more than a single rock jutting out of the lake with a lighthouse on it – but the inhabited ones provide the perfect…

The Junction: a night in Toronto’s hippest neighbourhood
The Junction: a night in Toronto’s hippest neighbourhood

After 150 years of boom and bust, Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood is being redefined. Mary Novakovich takes to its bars and restaurants to discover what’s hot about the city’s hippest neighbourhood. Things weren’t looking too promising when the taxi dropped us off on a dusty road with a railway on one side and grim-looking industrial units…

It’s time to make a beeline for Berkeley
It’s time to make a beeline for Berkeley

Ever since the 1960s Berkeley has been synonymous with left wing politics and student protests. And while the city has stayed true to its progressive credo, it offers numerous other reasons for visitors to the Bay Area to make sure they don’t only get trapped in the albeit sublime honeypot of San Francisco. Former US…

Quiz: can you locate these national parks?
Quiz: can you locate these national parks?

National parks are some of the world’s most awe-inspiring natural places, taking in mountains, glaciers, waterfalls and forests (sometimes all in the same one), but how much do you know about them? Can you tell these national parks apart? Compare flights, book hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go. 

Unexplored Mexico: Chiapas and Tabasco
Unexplored Mexico: Chiapas and Tabasco

For many years Chiapas and Tabasco were famous for revolutionaries, chilli sauce and little else. But these neighbouring Mexican states are increasingly appearing on tourist itineraries, drawing in travellers with their magnificent ruins, colonial cities, unique indigenous cultures and lip-tingling cuisine. Shafik Meghji heads off the beaten track. Chiapas Stretched along the Guatemalan border in…

10 reasons to make a pit stop in Pittsburgh
10 reasons to make a pit stop in Pittsburgh

For most people the very mention of Pittsburgh conjures up images of heavy industry and skies black with smoke. And while such vistas were true a century ago and are still coded in the name of the successful local NFL team, the Steelers, the contemporary reality is of an attractive and vibrant modern city, which…

20 photos that prove Hawaii is paradise
20 photos that prove Hawaii is paradise

A resident of Hawaii, photographer Dustin Wong has always been in awe of his home island’s natural beauty. Here he shares some of his best pictures of Hawaii.  “Growing up on the island of O’ahu teaches one many things. For me, those lessons include: land is a limited resource; life can be simple; and within…

Cocktail culture: the best bars in New Orleans
Cocktail culture: the best bars in New Orleans

Among hardcore cocktail experts, no American city is held in such high regard as New Orleans. The Crescent City’s cocktail culture dates back nearly two hundred years, when the first cocktails were created for medicinal benefits. Local physicians and pharmacists experimented with concoctions of herbs and alcohol, and in the 1830s, the pharmacist Antoine Peychaud…

The 10 best beaches in Florida
The 10 best beaches in Florida

The Sunshine State takes great pride in its 600 or so miles of beautiful beaches. Thanks to a year-round mild-climate – sub-tropical in the south – these mesmerizing white sands make Florida prime beach territory. Although some of the most popular beaches are around Miami on the Atlantic coast, the Gulf of Mexico, with its…

Get your claws out: 14 places to go for the best lobster in Maine
Get your claws out: 14 places to go for the best lobster in Maine

While the American lobster is found all along the east coast of North America, from Newfoundland to North Carolina, it is most commonly associated with Maine, where the crustacean is abundant and devoured in a number of dishes and numerous restaurants. Maine’s lobster industry contributes more than $1 billion to the state’s economy – 2014…

The sandcastle competition to end all others
The sandcastle competition to end all others

Dreaming of a forum for your long-repressed artistic abilities? Hoping to construct a life-size sand-version of Elvis, Jesus or someone else close to your heart, then have it washed away with the afternoon tide? Next week, on June 20th, the annual Sandcastle Contest in Cannon Beach, Oregon, offers just the opportunity – along with the chance…

Quiz: can you name these famous American landmarks?
Quiz: can you name these famous American landmarks?

Do you know the National Mall from Independence Hall? How many national parks can you name? Whether you’re an avid tourist or a well-researched resident, put your knowledge of the USA‘s landmarks to the test with our quiz… Explore more of America with the Rough Guide to the USA. Compare flights, book hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget…

Film-maker perfectly captures spring in Philadelphia
Film-maker perfectly captures spring in Philadelphia

Philadelphia is one of America’s unsung heroes. The one-time capital is too often overlooked in favour of its big-shot neighbours, Washington DC and New York City. But if you take some time to explore, you’ll discover a city that lives and breathes beautiful art, great music and delicious food. Our pick of the week, this…

9 American beers that defined the craft brewing revolution
9 American beers that defined the craft brewing revolution

As the global craft beer explosion continues to, well, explode, there are few that doubt its provenance: the United States of America. The craft brew scene in the US has been fizzing with adventure and experimentation for three decades. It is Americans who are largely responsible for that citrusy hops rush, for adding that quirky…

A guide to the otherworldly Joshua Tree National Park
A guide to the otherworldly Joshua Tree National Park

About two hours east of Los Angeles awaits a landscape so starkly foreign, it’s like landing on another planet. The 3000-square-kilometre Joshua Tree National Park sits at the meeting of two deserts, the Colorado to the east and the Mojave to the west, and those two ecosystems are home to a wide array of curious animals…

The eeriest ghost towns in the USA
The eeriest ghost towns in the USA

Emerging above the rolling tumbleweed of prairies or hidden below modern cities, hundreds of eerily desolate former towns are scattered across the United States. Many of the USA’s ghost towns were once thriving settlements: they grew quickly, but disappeared just as fast in the boom and bust Gold Rush years, while others have a more shadowy…

Quiz: can you name the US state from its outline?
Quiz: can you name the US state from its outline?

If you think you’re well-travelled around the USA, this tricky map quiz might make you think again. If you know your 50 states like the back of your hand, you’ll do just fine – but there’s only one way to find out… Explore more of the USA with the Rough Guide to the USA >

The best fish tacos in San Diego
The best fish tacos in San Diego

It is surprising that the city of San Diego hasn’t erected a statue to Ralph Rubio. Because Rubio brought the fish taco to town and nothing – seriously, nothing – is treated with more reverence here than the fish taco. Does a corn tortilla covered in fried fish, cabbage, crema and pico de gallo sound…

9 of the world’s best white­water rafting spots
9 of the world’s best white­water rafting spots

Rough Guides’ adventure sports expert Helen Abramson gives us her top tips on some of the world’s best adrenalin­-pumping whitewater rafting. Rapids are classified from I–VI, where grade VI is “un-runnable”, so the Grade V rivers listed here are essentially as thrilling as it gets. 1. Zambezi River, Zimbabwe Africa’s most exhilarating rafting is found on…

14 magical sunrises that prove it’s worth getting up early
14 magical sunrises that prove it’s worth getting up early

Looking through the Rough Guides photography archive, one kind of shot stands out again and again: pictures captured at sunrise. Sure, there’s nothing more tempting than sleeping in until noon while you’re on holiday. But if you can bring yourself to brave the odd early morning, you’ll discover a magical world as dawn breaks. From…

The best beaches in California
The best beaches in California

Few regions of the world have been idealised and mythologised as much as California – yet it seldom fails to live up to the hype. Among the finest jewels in the state’s crown are its magnificent beaches. There’s no better place to soak up the near-endless sun than along the coast, whether you’re there for…

Quiz: can you name these famous sights?
Quiz: can you name these famous sights?

Do postcards and travel posters paper your walls? Do you pride yourself on your travel knowledge? We’ve selected ten of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring sights around the world to put you to the test. Can you identify the famous sight from the picture? Be warned, sometimes places can look surprisingly similar…

Hidden New York: 5 little-known sights
Hidden New York: 5 little-known sights

We’ve just published a brand new Pocket Rough Guide to New York City, and thought we’d share a sneak preview. Want to shun the crowds? Here are five places to explore hidden New York.  No superlative, no cliché does New York City justice. It may not serve as the official capital of the US or even…

Southern Louisiana: from Baton Rouge to the bayous
Southern Louisiana: from Baton Rouge to the bayous

New Orleans might hog the limelight, but there’s no end of things to do in Louisiana. Here, Rough Guides author Charles Hodgkins takes us on a tour of the state’s beguiling south. While it’s easy to understand why New Orleans dominates most discussions of southern Louisiana, there’s much more to the lower areas of the…

Quiz: can you identify the country from its outline?
Quiz: can you identify the country from its outline?

Are you a cartographic clever-clogs or due a geography refresher course? We’ve compiled the outlines of ten different countries – large and small – without any rivers, seas, mountains or cities to help you. Can you deduce the country from its shape alone? Take the quiz to find out…

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