Western USA gives depth and beauty to the American wild. The landscapes here are stunners, from the high Rockies to the dramatic coastline, from the Great Plains' hypnotizing big-sky horizons to Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. Red rocks, plunging gorges and prickly-pear deserts lure hikers and cyclists to the Southwest and Grand Canyon. Over in the Rockies, snowcapped peaks offer world's-best skiing and snowboarding. Western cities have distinct personalities. In California there's the hey-bro friendliness of San Diego, the Hollywood flash of Los Angeles and silicon-meets-bohemian in San Francisco. Further north in Seattle, cutting-edge joins homegrown, often over a cup of joe. Rootsy vibes and outdoor fun pair in Denver, while patio preening and spa pampering give Phoenix a strangely compelling spoiled vibe. Artsy, historic Santa Fe is a world unto itself. And then there's Vegas, a glitzy neon playground where you can get hitched in the Elvis Chapel, spend your honeymoon in Paris and then bet the mortgage – all in the same weekend.
The East Coast offers plenty of chances to get your beach on, from the whale-rich waters of Cape Cod to the taffy-shop-lined boardwalks of Ocean City, the towering golden sand dunes on Lake Michigan or the coral reefs of the Florida Keys. Inland, nature puts on a show in the swampy Florida Everglades, wolf-haunted Boundary Waters, mist-tipped Appalachian Mountains and New England’s forests, which blaze red, orange and yellow each autumn. Slowpoke byways unfurl throughout so you can soak up the landscapes. The East Coast is also a land of mighty metropolises. Brimming with 8.6 million people, the megalopolis of New York is the cultural capital of the Eastern USA, offering a mind-blowing array of cuisine and entertainment. Cloud-poking Chicago, power-brokering Washington, DC, history-steeped Philadelphia and Latin-infused Miami are close on its heels.
From a megacity to a gator-filled swamp in the space of a plane ride – the East rolls out adventure from the Atlantic to the mighty Mississippi River.
The globe's second-biggest country has an endless variety of landscapes, and nature is why many visitors come. Sky-high mountains, glinting glaciers, spectral rainforests and remote beaches are all here, spread across six times zones. They're the backdrop for plenty of 'ah'-inspiring moments – and for a big cast of local characters. That's big as in polar bears, grizzly bears, whales and everyone's favorite, moose. The terrain also makes for a fantastic playground. Whether it's snowboarding Whistler's mountains, surfing Nova Scotia's swells, wreck diving in the turquoise waters off the Bruce Peninsula or kayaking the white-frothed South Nahanni River in the Northwest Territories, adventures abound. There are gentler options, too, such as strolling Vancouver's Stanley Park and swimming off Prince Edward Island's pink-sand beaches. Canada is also a smorgasbord of local food. If you grazed from west to east across the country, you'd fill your plate with wild salmon and velvety scallops in British Columbia, poutine (French fries topped with gravy and cheese curds) in Québec, and lobster with a dab of melted butter in the Maritime provinces.