Features // North America

15 spectacular highlights of the Southwest USA
15 spectacular highlights of the Southwest USA

A vast expanse of stunning desert scenery, the Southwest is arguably the USA’s most spectacular region. For splendour and sheer scale, the landscape consistently defies belief – a glorious panoply of cliffs and canyons, buttes and mesas, carved from rocks of every imaginable colour, and enriched here by shimmering aspens and cottonwoods, there by cactuses…

Eccentric Florida: 6 ways to weird out in the Sunshine State
Eccentric Florida: 6 ways to weird out in the Sunshine State

Pioneers, visionaries, geniuses, crackpots – the Sunshine State has seen more than its fair share of eccentrics over the years, drawn from cooler northern climes in pursuit of their dreams. Florida’s Gulf Coast may be best known for its relentless sunshine and glorious sandy beaches, but it’s also home to some of the state’s more…

15 awesome images of Canada
15 awesome images of Canada

Canada is has vast and varied landscape, from beautiful beaches to glassy mountain lakes. It’s difficult to capture the country’s real beauty in a photograph, but Picfair‘s best photographers have done an excellent job. Here are 15 of our favourite Canada photos. A boat comes close to the mighty Niagara Falls Adam Batterbee / Picfair The…

A beginner’s guide to the Hawaiian islands
A beginner’s guide to the Hawaiian islands

The USA’s 50th state is considered a once-in-a-lifetime destination for good reason. Hawaii’s signature offerings ­– beaches, surfing, and luaus (parties) – all live up to the hype, but visitors should be sure to take in the islands’ native culture and unique cuisine. Six of Hawaii’s eight major islands are open to tourism, and each one offers…

8 reasons Vancouver is cooler than you think
8 reasons Vancouver is cooler than you think

Vancouver sometimes gets knocked for being a bit dull – and while it’s true that its residents can be earlier to bed than in the rest of North America, this is the city that brought us Flickr, Greenpeace and, according to some, the California sushi roll. Rough Guides writer Rachel Mills is coming to Vancouver’s defence.…

Where to stay in Las Vegas: a first-timer’s guide
Where to stay in Las Vegas: a first-timer’s guide

Shimmering from the desert haze of Nevada like a latter-day El Dorado, Las Vegas is the most dynamic, spectacular city on earth. At the start of the twentieth century, it didn’t even exist; now it’s home to two million people. Boasting eighteen of the world’s thirty largest hotels, it’s a monument to architectural exuberance, whose…

Portland or Seattle: where should you visit first?
Portland or Seattle: where should you visit first?

The Pacific Northwest, stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the Rocky Mountains, is known for its picturesque national parks, stunning coastline and awe-inspiring mountain scenery. But what about its urban areas? The region’s two largest cities are both celebrated for their farm-to-table produce and liberal, easy going attitude. They also offer some great attractions, from…

10 places where you can see America’s fall foliage at its finest
10 places where you can see America’s fall foliage at its finest

As fall approaches, a magnificent blanket of gold and amber leaves begins to descend across the country. Misty morning walks and roaring fires start to beckon, and it’s time to make travel plans to catch this glorious season at its best. Wondering where to go? We’ve got 10 suggestions. 1. Glacier National Park, Montana In Montana’s spellbinding Glacier National Park, the burnt-orange foliage creates the…

13 reasons why Colorado is America’s most beautiful state
13 reasons why Colorado is America’s most beautiful state

Dreaming of getting out into the great outdoors? Wondering which state should top your next travel bucket list? It’s time you considered Colorado. From its sensational landscapes and soaring mountains to its cool cities and quirky gold-rush towns, the star of the West is home to some of the most beautiful places in the country.…

A day by day itinerary for the perfect weekend in San Francisco
A day by day itinerary for the perfect weekend in San Francisco

As inspiring and charismatic as its singular setting, San Francisco stands apart from other US destinations; in fact, you’ll struggle to find many places like it anywhere in the world. The famed city is surrounded on three sides by churning water and threaded with a grid of streets that courageously tackles thirty-degree gradients, elements that…

20 pictures that will have you booking your next vacation to Maine
20 pictures that will have you booking your next vacation to Maine

New England‘s beauty needs little introduction. From the spectacular fall colours to the charming seaside towns, this is a region that rewards travellers year-round. Each state has it’s own myriad attractions, but covering an area the size of the other five combined, Maine‘s diversity is hard to beat. 1. Bass Harbor Lighthouse Image courtesy of Maine Office of…

12 tips for travelling by train in the USA
12 tips for travelling by train in the USA

The USA‘s national rail operator Amtrak won’t get you everywhere you want to go, but it’s an excellent way to explore this vast country on a budget. Incredible landscapes will zoom by and you’ll see a slice of real Americana as you slow through quirky little towns dotted along each route, plus, there’s no better way…

How to holiday like Obama, Clinton and Trump
How to holiday like Obama, Clinton and Trump

When President Barack Obama – or “vacationer-in-chief”, as he’s been called by Republican critics – heads for the exit door this winter, he’ll have taken around 200 days off since assuming office eight years ago. But he’s far from the worst White House holiday offender. That dubious honour goes to Former President George W. Bush,…

The colours of Mexico captured in 14 pictures
The colours of Mexico captured in 14 pictures

Travel photographer Tim Draper has shot images for more than 20 Rough Guides guidebooks, visiting far-flung corners around the world. Here he shares some of his favourite shots of Mexico. I began my journey in Tijuana, firstly heading slowly down to the tip of Baja, then across the Gulf of California by ferry, up into the hills on the…

Marvellous Mexico: 8 insider tips from our authors
Marvellous Mexico: 8 insider tips from our authors

Surviving 42ºC (107ºF) desert heat, tramping hurricane-battered Pacific beaches and scaling lofty volcanoes, our hard-travelling authors have visited every corner of this vast, magnificent country – from the ancient caves of Baja California to the dense rainforest of the Lacandón Jungle. To celebrate the publication of the new Rough Guide to Mexico, we’re sharing a few…

Cozumel: an insider’s guide to Mexico’s Caribbean jewel
Cozumel: an insider’s guide to Mexico’s Caribbean jewel

Most people visit Mexico’s Isla Cozumel for one of two reasons: to scuba dive, or to kill time with food and drink before their cruise ship takes off again. Every day, up to ten cruise ships – each with several thousand passengers – will dock on the island and unleash a barrage of crowds to…

American beauty: the southwest USA in pictures
American beauty: the southwest USA in pictures

After two months road tripping through the southwest USA, Rough Guides photographer Tim Draper captured the region’s stunning natural beauty through his lens. Here are a selection of his best photographs.  We began our two-month tour of America’s Southwest with a few days in Las Vegas. As we drove our hire car out of the…

The best beaches on the east coast of the USA
The best beaches on the east coast of the USA

With more states spanning the coastline than its western counterpart, the beaches on east coast of the USA, reaching from ruggedly charming Maine down to the tropical climes of Florida, offer style and substance to rival the most famous west coast beauty spots. So whether you’re embarking on a road trip or making a beeline…

An underwater art exhibition just opened in Florida
An underwater art exhibition just opened in Florida

A brand new art exhibition with a difference has opened in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary this month. You can’t exactly buy an entrance ticket and there are no galleries as such. Instead, you’ll need a PADI license and an oxygen tank, because this exhibition sits 27m below the surface of the Atlantic, around…

Quiz: can you name these famous places in the USA?
Quiz: can you name these famous places in the USA?

Do you pride yourself on your travel knowledge of the USA? Have you marvelled at the Grand Canyon, taken a ride on a cable car in San Francisco and visited Washington DC‘s finest museums? If so, this is the quiz for you. We’ve selected eight famous sights across the USA – from mountains and monuments to towns and cities – to…

Space tourism: an interview with an astronaut
Space tourism: an interview with an astronaut

Last month we were lucky enough to welcome an astronaut all the way from the Kennedy Space Center to Rough Guides HQ, and we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ask him a few questions. Astronaut Don Thomas has been to space four times on the NASA space shuttles and takes part in the Kennedy Space Center…

You can visit all US national parks for free next week
You can visit all US national parks for free next week

To celebrate of the 100th birthday of the National Park Service, visitors will be offered free entry to national parks across the USA next week. From the 16th to the 24 April, admission fees will be waived in all 59 parks, with a range of special activities also planned around National Junior Ranger Day on…

The best weekend getaways in the USA
The best weekend getaways in the USA

The USA is a big place, but no matter where you’re based, it’s easy to hit the road for a couple of hours or hop on a plane or train for a total change of scenery. Here are just a few of the USA’s best weekend getaways. Best for peace and quiet: Bear Mountain State…

19 superb pictures of New York City
19 superb pictures of New York City

Each month we look at a different destination through the lenses of the best photographers on Picfair, and this month we’re focusing on New York City. It’s beautiful in summer or winter, but spring is one of the best times to visit and see the city bloom into a colourful metropolis. Here are 19 of our favourite…

Quiz: which US national park should you visit this year?
Quiz: which US national park should you visit this year?

This year the US National Park Service celebrates its hundredth year in operation. There are loads of events happening throughout America’s 59 parks this year, so to help you decide where to go, we’ve devised this short test. Find out which US national park you should visit next:  

Weird America: 9 of the USA’s most bizarre traditions
Weird America: 9 of the USA’s most bizarre traditions

Despite being a relatively young nation – at just 240 years old – America has developed its fair share of traditions. Most of us are familiar with the big hitters such as Thanksgiving, Halloween and Independence Day. But what about the USA’s less well-known, more peculiar customs? Join us as we delve into the fascinating world…

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…

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