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USA: The five places to visit in 2018

The USA is huge. As a country, the sheer variety of landscapes, cultures, cities, cuisines and experiences it offers is difficult to match anywhere else. Knowing where to visit in the States can be a tough choice. To help get your 2018 travel plans started, we've picked our top five places to visit in America.

New Orleans

New Orleans, Deep South, USA

New Orleans has been drawing visitors to its pretty streets and tree-lined avenues for years. Louisiana’s first city continually reinvents itself, and now more than ever we think it’s a must-visit destination. The Big Easy, or NOLA as the locals tend to call it, has a character all of its own.

You might already know about Bourbon Street, with its 24-hour-party atmosphere, or the city’s world-class jazz bars. Maybe you’re clued up about the elegant French-colonial architecture, the cosy cafés and Creole cooking. However, delve a little deeper into New Orleans and you’ll find an enticing blend of culture, history, music and cuisine that can’t be matched anywhere else. On Frenchman Street, you’ll get a taste of the real NOLA. Quirky jazz clubs play host to passionate musicians, and atmospheric alleyways lead to hidden art stores and boutiques. On the other side of town, where Magazine Street fringes the charming Garden District, you’ll find artisanal cafés, hipster donut shops, bars and hangouts. Time your visit right and you might be able to catch a game of American football at the Superdome – an unforgettable spectator experience and a great way to meet local folk. When it comes to eating, New Orleans does it well. Grab a steaming bowl of gumbo, a muffuletta (Italian-style sandwich) and a Sazerac before heading to the world-famous Café Du Monde for beignets.

You can spend a few days exploring the best of New Orleans on our Discover East Coast USA tour.

Arizona

Arizona

Aside from a whistle-stop visit to see the jaw-dropping Grand Canyon, Arizona doesn’t tend to feature on many bucket lists. However, this diverse state deserves all the recognition it can get. From the undiscovered wine regions in the south, to its downtowns, old towns and ghost towns, there are hidden gems scattered throughout Arizona. Take your pick from 22 national parks and a surprisingly diverse range of landscapes – from verdant river valleys to the red-rock desert canyons made famous in the gun-slinging movies of old. There’s history here too – learn about ancient Native American culture or the lives of the early pioneers. Prefer something a little more 21st century? The cool college town of Tucson or the hip neighbourhoods of Scottsdale have got you covered, and the food scene here could rival the best of the rest of the USA.

Our Highlights of the Southwest tour should give you plenty of inspiration for a holiday in Arizona. Alternatively, check out some of our favourite places to stay in the state, including The Andaz in Scottsdale, Enchantment Resort in Sedona, or El Tovar overlooking the Grand Canyon.

Hawaii

Hawaii

Sparkling like emeralds in the endless blue of the Pacific, the tropical islands of Hawaii have long been a hit with travellers searching for a taste of paradise. The four main islands – Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island – each have their own unique charm, and plenty of reasons to visit.

The Big Island is home to Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes. The resulting lava flow and creation of new land has formed a landscape as varied as any you might find on planet Earth. Off the coast, vibrant coral reefs and myriad species of marine life make for fantastic scuba diving or snorkelling. Oahu is perhaps most famous for being the location of Pearl Harbor, but head to the island’s North Shore and you’ll be treated to laid-back surf vibes and epic breakers. Kauai is where you’ll find the jungle-clad cliffs and Instagrammable beaches for which Hawaii has become known. Spend a few sun-kissed days here and you’ll understand why it’s earned the nickname of the Garden Isle. And on the island of Maui, you’ll have unspoiled tropical beauty as your backdrop. Cascading waterfalls, lush jungle and outstanding gold-sand beaches are all waiting to be discovered, and so is a burgeoning food scene.

Ready to say aloha to Hawaii? Our 16-night Highlights of the Hawaiian Islands trip should provide all the inspiration you need.

Nashville

Nashville, Deep South, USA

For many, the image of Nashville, Tennessee is one of honky tonk saloons, the Grand Ole Opry and cowboy boots. And just as perceptions of today’s country music scene are changing, so is the idea of Nashville as a USA holiday destination. The city is currently enjoying a renaissance. Neighbourhoods that were once avoided by visitors are being regenerated, helping to attract trendy start-up businesses and a new generation of residents. Nashville is also putting a pin in the map for its food scene, helped along by the arrival of skilled artisans and independent food outlets (don’t miss Five Daughters Bakery or Urban Grub). In May 2018, British Airways will launch direct flights to Nashville from London Heathrow, making this a natural starting point for a self-drive tour of Tennessee.

We think that a visit to America’s Deep South isn’t complete without a few days in Nashville. Our 14-night Honky tonks & rock ‘n’ roll tour is a great place to start.

California

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

The Big Sur, Venice Beach, San Diego, Napa Valley, Santa Monica, Hollywood… the list of reasons to visit California is endless. America’s Golden State has been a popular destination for some time, but its ability to draw visitors shows no sign of abating. Whether you picture yourself driving down coastal Route 1, wind in your hair and an amber sunset on the horizon, or exploring the atmospheric gangways of Alcatraz, a holiday in California promises iconic experiences aplenty.

Between sun-drenched San Diego in the south and the pristine national forests of the north, California has it all. Walk through scorched desert landscapes in Death Valley, or follow a wine expert through the vineyards of Napa. Practice your pull-ups on L.A.’s Muscle Beach, or tuck in to a bowl of clam chowder on San Francisco’s famous Pier 39. And while the adults are well-catered for, a family holiday in California will create lifelong memories. Discover Disneyland®, take a selfie with the Hollywood sign or witness whale’s breaching the surface on a boat cruise off the coast. Whatever your age, we think a trip to California should be on everyone’s list in 2018.

North America team

Whether it's an epic road trip, a relaxing escape or a whale-watching expedition, our North America team know how to plan the ultimate holiday
Meet the team