Visit USA 2024 Travel Planner Intro

This travel guide is packed with exciting ideas, practical information, a US state guide, maps and useful contacts to help you decide where to go and what to do.

VISIT USA 2024 TRAVEL PLANNER

Create your USA experience

TOWERING ICONS

BIG AND BOLD Oversized and over there, impressive man-made structures are towering icons in their own right

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TOWERING ICONS

Clockwise from top left: Enjoy great views of New York City from the open-air 86th Floor Observatory or indoors from the 102nd Floor Observatory of the Empire State Building . Sail under San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and around former maximum-security prison island, Alcatraz , on a Bay Cruise. Get an elevated view of the nation’s capital from the top of 555-foot marble obelisk the Washington Monument , which first opened to the public in 1888. Take a helicopter flight above, drive across or tour inside the imposing Hoover Dam , which spans the Nevada-Arizona border. Gaze up at the monumental Crazy Horse Memorial sculpture in South Dakota’s Black Hills, 75 years in the making and still evolving. See the tallest brick lighthouse in the U.S., Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in North Carolina, which will reopen for tours in early 2025 following a major restoration. Take a tram to the summit of the tallest monument in the US, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri. Be sleepless in Seattle after enjoying exhilarating 360-degree panoramas from atop the Space Needle , built for the 1962 World’s Fair.

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BRAND NEW IN THE USA

NEW KIDS IN TOWN Interactive museums, entertainment centres, theme park attractions and much more will wow visitors in 2024

A host of new tourism offerings across the U.S. provide even more reasons for a Stateside trip in 2024. CIRCLE OF LIGHT The new $2.3 billion Las Vegas Sphere, at The Venetian resort, is an immersive music and entertainment venue featuring the world’s largest LED screen. The giant spherical dome seats 17,500 people and has an exterior Exosphere dynamic canvas. It launched with a 25-concert residency by rock band U2. TAKE IT TO THE STAGE The Museum of Broadway in New York City is an interactive and experiential museum

that celebrates Broadway's rich past and goes behind the scenes of some of its most popular plays and musicals. In the Map Room, visitors experience the history of the city’s theatre district and migration to its present-day location. They can also go behind the curtain into the making of a Broadway show. ARRESTING EXPERIENCE The star-shaped U.S. Marshals Museum on the banks of the Arkansas River in Fort Smith, Arkansas, opened in July 2023 after more than 16 years of fundraising, design, construction and installation. It interactively tells the stories of the marshals who have served the nation from colonial times through to a marshal’s life today. More than

2,000 artefacts include historic journals, memorabilia from the Western Frontier, the Civil Rights era and badges and guns used by the Marshals Service over time. THE AFRICAN AMERICAN STORY The International African American Museum in Charleston, South Carolina, opened in June 2023 and explores the history, culture, and impact of African Americans on the city, the state and beyond. It highlights the diverse journeys, origin, and achievements of enslaved Africans’ descendants. The museum is situated on the historically sacred site of Gadsden’s Wharf – the disembarkation point at which an estimated 45% of all African slaves entered America.

At Robbie's Marina in Islamorada, Florida Keys, a new Transparensea glass bottom boat is available for tours of Alligator Reef

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THE FAST TRAIN TO FUNSVILLE Brightline’s new Orlando International Airport station means high-speed trains now link Central Florida with Miami, taking under three-and-a-half hours for the 235-mile journey, at speeds of up to 125mph. It serves other Atlantic Coast destinations including Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. A privately-funded passenger railway, Brightline operates 30 trains a day, with 15 trains daily from both Miami and Orlando.

REMEMBERING THE ALAMO New at the Alamo in San Antonio, the Ralston Family Collections Centre is where visitors can see the collection of priceless Alamo artefacts gifted by musician and historian Phil Collins, and the Battle of the Alamo Diorama, which he narrates. Exhibits will move to the planned Alamo Visitor Centre and Museum when it opens in 2027. THRILLS, SPILLS AND SPLASHES Several theme parks have opened new attractions. Among them is Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Hollywood featuring the Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge ride. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay’s Serengeti Flyer is a

pendulum-style double swing that is the tallest and fastest of its kind. SeaWorld Orlando opened the world’s first surf coaster, a stand-up ride called Pipeline, while in 2024 it will add another coaster, Penguin Trek, with SeaWorld San Antonio opening flume coaster Catapult Falls. KNOCKING ON HEAVEN’S DOOR Music legend Bob Dylan is behind a project in Louisville’s NuLu neighbourhood that blends American whiskey and creative art. The Last Refuge is a collaboration between the star and the Heaven’s Door whiskey brand he co-created in the 150-year-old former Refuge of Kentucky Church,

PICTURED Main image: The International African American Museum, Charleston, South Carolina; Above: The new Las Vegas Sphere, an immersive entertainment venue. Below: New Brightline train services connect several popular South Florida destinations; the new U.S. Marshals Museum in Arkansas features immersive and interactive exhibits; the Museum of Broadway in New York City takes visitors behind the curtains of popular plays and musicals.

transforming it into a bar with 1,500 whiskey brands and a retail store.

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A new exhibit at Historic Fort Snelling’s Plank Museum & Visitor Center in Minnesota honors Dakota and Ojibwe people

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WILD AND WONDERFUL

FORCES OF NATURE From Washington State to Maine, creatures large and small put on a show for visitors

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Florida’s everglades, protected mountain parks, marine life-rich seas and wilderness preserves – nature calls across the u.S. EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK Located on Florida's southernmost tip, Everglades National Park is the largest mangrove ecosystem in North America. This vast subtropical wilderness – a World Heritage Site – is home to 35 wildlife species such as the eastern cottontail bobcat, Florida panther and manatees. It is also the only place in the world where alligators and crocodiles coexist. Many visitors explore the park on an airboat that glides over the sawgrass.

ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, MAINE Biodiversity is key to Acadia National Park’s abundant flora and fauna, thanks to landscapes that range from rocky coastline to granite mountains sculpted by glaciers, coniferous and deciduous forests, lakes, streams, heaths and marshes. Set on the Atlantic Flyway, this is a top bird-watching area, with sightings of more than 300 species. Resident mammals include moose and black bears. Explore the park's 33 miles of scenic roads and 150 miles of hiking trails. ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, COLORADO Spectacular mountain peaks and lakes, rivers, forests, alpine tundra and meadows in the park’s 415 square miles are the

perfect environment for a host of animals, birds and plants. The best way to see them is to hit some of the 355 miles of hiking trails. Elk, moose and bighorn are frequently seen, while ptarmigan, blue grouse, three toed woodpecker and mountain chickadee are among the 370-plus species of birds found in the park. California’s coast-hugging Highway 1 offers great hiking and amazing wildlife viewing. Morro Bay’s sheltered waters are an ideal nursery and refuge for sea otters. From the shore and on kayak trips, see them resting on their backs and sometimes anchored by seaweed fronds. The area is also a haven PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY, CALIFORNIA

The Salish Sea surrounding the San Juan Islands in Washington State is one of the best places in the world to see killer whales

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WILD AND WONDERFUL

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for sea lions, while humpback whales can be seen on boat trips off the coast. North of San Simeon, a viewing area allows close-up views of the lumbering elephant seals that haul up onto the area’s sandy beaches.

that descend on a mile-long stretch of river to feast on migrating salmon as they leap up waterfalls. The park is also a protected home for moose, caribou, red foxes, wolves, lynx and other mammals. Its awe-inspiring volcanic terrain harbours more than 700 species of plants. Each March sees one of America’s most beautiful natural spectacles, when more than half-a-million sandhill cranes converge on Nebraska’s Platte River Basin to rest and feed before continuing their migration to northern breeding grounds. Some breed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, with others heading to Oregon, Idaho and Alaska. SANDHILL CRANE MIGRATION, NEBRASKA

Two other sub-populations do not migrate: the Mississippi sandhill crane inhabits the state’s south-east coast while the Florida sandhill crane lives in inland wetland areas. BLACK HILLS AND BADLANDS, SOUTH DAKOTA Wildlife abounds among South Dakota’s Black Hills and Badlands region. Custer State Park has 1,700 free-roaming bison (spotted on a 'wildlife loop'), and resident coyote, prairie dogs, elk, deer, beavers, porcupines and raccoons. Nearby Wind Cave National Park’s 34,000 acres of forest and prairie support similar wildlife, while the cave itself has several bat species. Bison, bighorn sheep and pronghorn antelope are spotted in the huge Badlands National Park.

KATMAI NATIONAL PARK & PRESERVE, ALASKA

Few places in the world can match Katmai for bear spotting. Brooks Camp is famous for the large concentrations of brown bears

Pictured Main image: A moose heads for a drink in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. Above: A sea otter catches a crab in Morro Bay, on the Central Coast of California. Below: Buffalos are easy to see on the open plains of Custer State Park, South Dakota; Grizzly bears wait for salmon in Katmai National Park, Alaska; An airboat safari in Everglades National Park, Florida.

Isle Royale National Park is a remote island cluster in Lake Superior, near Michigan’s border, where moose and wolves roam.

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BE A SPORT

LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN Cities large and small across the U.S. offer visitors an unrivalled range of great sporting events, occasions and arenas

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Clockwise from top left: Watch a baseball game at America’s oldest ballpark and home of the Boston Red Sox, Boston’s Fenway Park . See an NFL match involving the Minnesota Vikings at the US Bank Stadium . Catch an NBA basketball game in several cities across the U.S., such as in Orlando, home of the Orlando Magic . For high-speed action, Formula 1 races are now held in three U.S. cities: Miami, Austin and Las Vegas . One of the hottest tickets in golf is to be a patron (as spectators at Augusta National Golf Club are called) at the annual Masters tournament. Join up to 135,000 NASCAR fans watching the annual Daytona 500 race at the Daytona International Speedway . Visit one of America’s coolest stadiums, the Big Apple’s iconic Madison Square Garden , to experience an NHL ice hockey game with home team the New York Rangers. Catch one of the country's four classic horse race meetings: Kentucky Derby (Louisville), which will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2024; Preakness Stakes (Baltimore); Breeders Cup (alternating racecourses); and Belmont Stakes (Elmont, New York).

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WALKING AND HIKING

TAKE TO THE HILLS Put your best foot forward to explore some of the USA's most beautiful walking and hiking trails

Walking and hiking trails that criss-cross the country offer the chance to get away from it all amidst bountiful nature. TRIPLE CROWN TRAILS For hikers who enjoy long trails, the ultimate test is the Triple Crown of through-hikes – the Appalachian Trail stretching from northern Georgia to Maine, the Continental Divide Trail along the Rocky Mountains from New Mexico to Montana and the Pacific Crest Trail through California, Oregon and Washington. Together they span 7,785 miles and 22 states – but short sections can be tackled in a much more leisurely fashion from many trailheads.

GREAT ALLEGHENY PASSAGE Started in 1978 with a section of an abandoned railway corridor, the Great Allegheny Passage was completed in 2013. The trail starts in Cumberland, Maryland, and ends in downtown Pittsburgh, running for 150 miles across forest-swathed valleys, snaking around mountains and skirting three rivers. Along the way it crests the 2,392-ft Eastern Continental Divide and passes through around a dozen towns. ICE AGE NATIONAL SCENIC TRAIL Stretching nearly 1,200 miles across Wisconsin, the trail’s western end is located in Interstate State Park on the St Croix River, bordering Minnesota, while its eastern end is in Potawatomi State Park on

Green Bay. It is so named because it traces the edge of a retreating Ice Age glacier from the time of mammoths and sabre tooth cats 15,000 years ago. More than 2.3 million people a year use the trail, hiking in spring, summer and autumn, and snowshoeing in winter. LEWIS AND CLARK NATIONAL HISTORIC TRAIL The trail commemorates the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1803 to 1806, who explored the land the U.S. had recently acquired. It follows the expedition’s outbound and inbound routes for 4,900 miles from Pittsburgh to the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon where it meets the Pacific Ocean, connecting 16 states.

With over 800 miles of hiking trails, Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina is home to exquisite natural beauty

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SILVER LAKE TRAIL, PARK CITY Enjoy panoramic views of Utah’s Park City and surrounding mountainous countryside on Deer Valley Resort’s Silver Lake Trail. Classed as a moderate hiking trail, the 4.7 mile route is for foot traffic only, helping to preserve its tranquil atmosphere. It starts at the bottom of the Deer Valley Silver Lake chairlift, and heads up through aspen groves and ending at the top of Bald Mountain. You can hike back down or take the chairlift.

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advance as trails can be snow-covered until June or July and some involve fording swift running rivers. Enjoy day hikes in areas around Mammoth Hot Springs, Old Faithful Geyser and the canyons and mountains in the centre of the park, amongst others.

Hike this trail to the top of Acadia National Park’s highest peak and the highest point on the U.S. east coast, 1,530-ft Cadillac Mountain, for sweeping vistas of Bar Harbor, Frenchman Bay and the Schoodic Peninsula. From September to mid-March it is the first place in America to see the sunrise. The trail is 2.2 miles long to the top. YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK One of America’s prime wilderness areas, covering 2.2 million acres that are mostly in Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park has more than 900 miles of hiking trails to explore. Day hikes do not require a permit, although hikes should be planned in

WONDERLAND TRAIL, MOUNT RAINIER

Encircling Mount Rainier in Washington State, the 93-mile Wonderland Trail is a strenuous hike featuring a lot of elevation changes as it goes through lowland forests and valleys and up into high alpine and sub alpine areas. A wilderness permit is required for overnight camping in the park. There are 18 trailside wilderness camps and three non-wilderness camps.

Pictured Main image: Hiking on a mountain ridge in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge, Oregon; Above: Slot Canyon in Grand Staircase Escalante National Park, Utah; Unusual colourful sandstone formations in the deserts of Utah are popular among hikers.; Bottom: Poverty Point Reservoir State Park, Louisiana; Salt crust in Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America; A mother and baby setting out on a walk in Yellowstone National Park.

In Minnesota, the Superior Hiking Trail, an easy to moderate trail with bite-size sections, hugs the ridgeline of Lake Superior

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FAMILY FAVOURITES

HANG TOGETHER Whether a roller coaster, an interactive children's museum or a horse and carriage ride in 'colonial America', there's fun for the whole family

From the parks of Florida and California to caverns in West Virginia and dinosaurs in New Jersey, family fun options abound. THEME PARKS America's theme parks have evolved into multi-day holiday destinations, attracting visitors by the tens of millions. Knott’s Berry Farm in California claims to be America’s first theme park, although it was the 1955 opening of Disneyland in nearby Anaheim that stepped things up. Both parks, together with Florida’s Walt Disney World, Universal Studios’ parks on either coast and others like SeaWorld regularly add new attractions to ensure guests keep coming back.

CHILDREN’S MUSEUM, INDIANAPOLIS From its beginnings in 1925 in a small house, what is now the world’s largest children’s museum covers 30 acres and has 13 major galleries that include the $25 million Dinosphere: Now You’re in their World experience, featuring a family of dinosaur skeletons. Visitors are transported back in time through a multi-sensory, immersive environment. STRONG NATIONAL MUSEUM OF PLAY Perhaps the ultimate play destination for all ages, the Strong is an interactive, collections-based museum devoted to the history and exploration of play. Visitors can jump into a board game at the outdoor Hasbro Game Park, take a spin on a

wheelchair-accessible carousel spinner from the Game of Life or clamber over giant wooden Jenga pieces. In ESL Digital Worlds: Level Up, they become part of a video game

by creating an avatar and immersing themselves in video game scenarios.

COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG, VIRGINIA Ride a horse-drawn carriage through the world’s largest living history museum, which recreates the atmosphere and lifestyle of Virginia’s colonial capital with interpreters and guides dressed in period costume and carrying out trades and activities of the time. As well as the 89 original preserved 18th century buildings, there are hundreds more reconstructed from historical records and archaeological research.

Go eyeball to eyeball with huge whale sharks or don a wetsuit and get in the water with sharks and rays at the Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta

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INTERNATIONAL SPY MUSEUM, WASHINGTON DC Exhibits at this espionage-themed facility highlight moments when spying changed history and how technology and "cyberwarfare" have transformed the world of intelligence gathering. Immersive exhibits put visitors in the shoes of agents and analysts while programmes for families and children encourage analytical thinking and problem solving inherent to espionage work.

WORLD’S LARGEST TOY MUSEUM, BRANSON, MISSOURI Part of the BECK Museums of Branson, the complex has over one million toys dating from the 1800s to the present day. These include toy trains, planes, cars, superhero and action figures, farm toys, Star Trek, Disney and Star Wars toys and 900 Barbie dolls. There is also a working model railway, hands-on areas where children can play with toys and photo booths for them to become their favourite superhero or Barbie. SENECA CAVERNS, WEST VIRGINIA Grab a bucket of dirt and rocks and try your luck at prospecting for gems such as rubies, rose quartz, garnets and amethyst in a water sluice and sifter. You get to take any

treasure you find home with you. Open to visitors as a show cave for almost 100 years, guides lead tours through the cave system, pointing out rock formations including stalactites and stalagmites and explaining the legends of the Seneca Indians, who used it hundreds of years ago. Explore trails along the banks of a scenic creek among natural woods that feature more than 30 moving and roaring life-size animatronic dinosaurs. Visitors discover the story and science of dinosaurs through live shows, games and activities and even come face to face with a T Rex. A Jurassic Zoo Bounce House is for the under 12s. FIELD STATION: DINOSAURS, NEW JERSEY

PICTURED Main image: Western Playland Amusement Park, Sunland Park, New Mexico. Above: Disney World’s castle in Florida’s Magic Kingdom is known as Cinderella’s Castle, while the Disneyland Castle in California 'belongs to' Sleeping Beauty. Below: Family fun on Santa Monica Pier, California; Graduate as a spy at the International Spy Museum, Washington D.C.; A horse-drawn buggy in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Interactive exhibits keep kids and adults engaged with science at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama

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SCENIC WONDERS

SIGHTS TO BEHOLD You might have seen them in magazines or the movies but up close the USA's natural wonders still drop even the tightest of jaws

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Clockwise from top left: The hottest, driest and lowest place in the U.S., Death Valley covers a vast expanse of California and Nevada. See the daily summer spectacle of hundreds of thousands of bats flying from New Mexico’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, Carlsbad Caverns . Stand on the North or South Rims of the Grand Canyon and marvel at the mile-deep attraction that stretches 277 miles from end to end. The five interconnected Great Lakes comprise the world’s largest freshwater system and are bordered by eight U.S. states. Utah’s Arches National Par k features 2,000-plus red-rock stone arches, hundreds of soaring pinnacles and giant balanced rocks. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is America’s most-visited national park and is so-named for the early-morning fog that hangs over its forest-covered ridges. Eruptions of Yellowstone National Park’s towering Old Faithful geyser are timed to within 10 minutes by the park’s rangers. Gaze at all three of the Niagara Falls cascades from the observation tower jutting out over Niagara Gorge in Niagara Falls State Park, New York.

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