United States

Given its size, history, varied cultural influences and more than numerous vacation destinations, it's no wonder that the United States receives tens of millions visitors every year. North to south and east to west the country offers up everything from golden beaches to rugged mountains, lush old growth forests to windswept deserts, and bustling megacities to quaint villages on the edges of rolling countryside. The culture of America truly is a global one with pockets of communities peppered throughout the nation, each representing any one of a number of Latin American, Asian and African cultures and societies. This means a seemingly endless stream of foods, events and festivals for visitors and locals alike to experience and enjoy. There are many uniquely American stops of course, far too many to mention here to say the least. Most major cities - including but not limited to New York, Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco, Dallas, Detroit, Seattle, Chicago and Washington D.C - boast lengthy checklists of visitor musts. And when you look at them together with the rest of the country's gems - manmade and natural both - you see that America has more than a lifetime's worth of things to offer up, so make sure you know what you want to see and do before you get here, to maximize your visit. For those entering the country, particularly those entering by air, it would be prudent to remember that security remains a top concern in all U.S. airports. Joking about things like terrorism and bombs is never funny, but doing so in an airport in post-9/11 America can land you in jail and/or see you banned from the country for life. ~ WBB Staff Writer


The World in a City: The Sights of Chicago

For me and most world travelers, I'm sure, being in one place for too long can quickly turn into itchy feet. To anyone who has been around a lot, travel quickly becomes like an addiction; always looking for the next fix. When I decided to stay ‘domestic’ and root myself in the Windy City of Chicago, I was hesitant at first. Though I was aware of confluence of many diverse cultures in here, little did I know just how much there was to explore. Here are my recommendations for taking a ‘staycation’ trip around the world, neighborhood by neighborhood, through this amazing city.

 

Falling Hard for a Texas Burg

It doesn’t take long to realize that there’s something special about Fredericksburg. Visitors have long been attracted to the area for its picturesque scenery, deep historical roots, outdoor recreation opportunities, eclectic shops, colourful cultural vibe, great food and prolific wine scene. And then there’s the people. You won’t find friendlier folks when it comes to putting out the welcome mat. They’ve even named all of the streets crossing Main to the east so that their first letters spell out 'All Welcome' while those to the west spell out 'Come Back'. It’s easy to understand why visitors return year after year, never tiring of the town’s sweet charm and ambiance.

Canyon de Chelly: If These Walls Could Talk

Those who make the trip down into Canyon de Chelly in Chinle, Arizona will often tell you it is one of the most memorable experiences of their lives. With its mesmerizing scenery and rich history, this 84,000-acre archaeological sanctuary and natural wonder creates a magical milieu that almost defies description. Located in the northeast, within the boundaries of the vast Navajo Nation, Canyon de Chelly was designated a national monument in 1931 to protect and preserve the numerous archeological resources long known to exist on the canyon rims, walls and bottomlands.

Eclectic Austin Never Misses a Beat

The bats just may be the first clue that Austin is not your typical Texas town. With more than a million Mexican free tailed bats in residence, the city is home to the largest urban bat colony in North America. Every spring, they migrate north from Mexico to Austin, where they give birth and stay through the summer and into early fall. Their favorite hangout is under the Congress Avenue Bridge in the city’s downtown sector. Around sunset, the bats emerge like a black cloud from the bridge’s crevices, blanketing the sky and creating one of the most spectacular and unusual tourist attractions in Texas. It’s a truly unique event that even lifelong residents continue to regard as special no matter how many times they’ve witnessed it. 

The Awe Runs Deep at Carslbad Caverns

The world that exists below the surface in Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico’s Guadalupe Mountains is a subterranean marvel, full of formations that dazzle the eyes and flirt with the imagination. The most commonly heard response from visitors upon first sight of these incredible creations is a resounding “wow!” With mouths agape, they stand transfixed by the unexpected magnificence that greets them. Everyone reacts the same way, even those who have been to the caves more than once. It’s simply impossible not to be awed by this geological wonder.

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 Full name: United States of America

 Population: 313.8 million (CIA, 2012)

 Capital: Washington, D.C.

 Largest city: New York City (by population)

 Area: 9.83 million sq.km. (3.79 million sq. mi.)

 Major languages: English, Spanish, other

 Major religions: Protestant, Roman Catholic,  Mormon, Other Christian, Jewish and Muslim

 Monetary unit: U.S. Dollar

 GDP per capita: US $48,100

 Internet domain: .us

 International dialling code: +1

 Source: CIA World Factbook