The Best 12 destinations in North America
North America is the third largest continent on earth behind Asia and Africa and is the fourth most populated. The continent has 23 independent countries with 529 million people calling it home. Central America, North America and The Caribbean are sub area’s of the continent. North America covers a vast area. With a massive variety of landscapes. It’s because of this North America offers some of the most spectacular attractions and city’s found no-where else on earth. In this article I will share with you some of favourite places I have visited. But also some places I can’t wait to get to. Therefore, here is my top 12 best places of North America.
Please note this list is in NO particular order. This is a collection of some fantastic places I urge you to check out
NEW YORK CITY
Arguably one of the most famous cities in the world. It is most certainly one of the biggest and the most densely populated. The United States of America is home to New York. New York City lies on the east coast of this vast country. New York has some of the most famous landmarks in all of the USA and believe me. It has earned itself many nicknames like “the big apple” or “the city that never sleeps”. It did not get them names by chance.
New York can offer so much, there really is so much to see and do. Even a week in this mega city is not long enough. Although after a week I was ready to leave the craziness that is New York. Due to its size, everything in this city is huge. Grand Central Station in New York is the largest train terminal building in the world with a 131 platforms. Grand Central is a tourist attraction in its own right.
Things to Do
However there are so many more like the Empire State Building, Central Park, Times Square, Statue of Liberty, Manhattan, Rockefeller Centre, Broadway and Wall Street to name but a few but there are so much more. Food and Drink is on every corner with top class restaurants to more budget friendly. The famous central park café or the world famous Planet Hollywood are a few options to try. There are the thousands of hotels, maybe the most famous St. Regis New York being only one of 4 that has reached 6 stars. There are many more less expensive options from hostels to B&B’s to choose as well.
Getting to New York is pretty easy. Being one of the most poplar cities in the world New York has 3 international airports. JFK maybe being the most famous of them all. Which sees daily direct flights from the United Kingdom with a flight time of approx. 5 to 6 hours. There really is no city like New York City. I am urging you to check it out if you haven’t been. But maybe stay no longer then 4 to 5 nights, as it can be a lot.
Getting around the city is easy; the sub-way in New York runs 24/7 and is the quickest and easiest way to get around the city. You can buy a daily travel card that provides unlimited access for the subway. That is how we got around during our trip. The subway connects all of the top attractions around the city so getting around is simple and fast. I would not hire a car or even get taxis in New York. The roads are so busy, you do not move very far very quickly. So in my view and if you are only staying for a few nights time is of the most importance. New York is certainly a city to check out if you have not already.
It is known as the last great wilderness of North America. Alaska is situated in the very far north crossing into the Arctic Circle. Alaska is home to some extremely important biodiversity. It also boosts some of the best-untouched, unspoiled landscapes of anywhere in North America. Alaska became the 49th state of the United States of America in 1959. It is the largest state by land area but is the least populated.
The most visited city in Alaska is Anchorage however it is not the state capital. Anchorage is home to the only port and cruise terminal in Alaska. It has an international airport with flights from over 120 different countries around the world. Why is it on my list I hear you ask?
Alaska is the definition of the great outdoors. With that come all the things you would expect, incredible landscapes, amazing wildlife and some heart pumping adrenaline adventure. Maybe hiking or trekking through the vast forests is on your list, maybe white water rafting or kayaking. Cycling or zip wires, rock climbing and mountain climbing are all on the itinerary in Alaska.
Things to Do
There is wildlife spotting, from Humpback Whales to Blue Whales, from Grizzly Bears and Black Bears. Moose and Elk are popular sightings in Alaska. Another natural event in Alaska is the Salmon Run. Each year this one event brings the largest concentration of wild grizzly bears in the world to one area. Now that is just in the summer months! In the winter the entire state turns white with snow. Meaning you can visit ice caves, ski or snow board down the mountains at the many ski resorts. You can even try your hand at ice fishing if you fancy it. There are tons of things to do in Alaska and that is why it makes my list.
Due to the sheer amount of activities on offer, it is a top choice for adrenaline seekers. However it does not have to be. There are hotels and spas, in fact Anchorage has one of the top spas in North America. The Spa has some of the most stunning views across Denali National Park. With that in mind, did I mention you can also see the world famous Northern Lights in Alaska too? Remember if visiting, Alaska is warm and pleasant in the summer months (June/July). But gets cold during the winter months (Jan/Feb). It really depends on what type of holiday you want. Alaska is a top destination of mine and I hope to be able to visit this amazing place sometime soon.
Arguably the MOST famous waterfall in the world. In fact, Niagara is a collection of three different waterfalls with the biggest being Horseshoe falls or Canadian Falls. Niagara actually spans across Canada and the United States of America. Horseshoe Falls straddles both countries, it is situated approx. 17miles from Buffalo, New York (USA) and 75miles from Toronto (Canada). At its peak flow in the spring melt it is estimated that 2,400,000litres of water flow over Horseshoe Falls per second. An unbelievable amount of water! Niagara is one of the most visited places in Canada behind the CN Tower.
Niagara Falls is not just a waterfall, it is a town. It has a population of 88,000 people and has loads of hotels, restaurants and tour operators. 100% of the towns GDP comes from the tourists visiting the falls. Getting to Niagara is easy, you can see the falls as I said from both Canada and USA. Many people take day trips from Toronto. Flying into Toronto is easy and the city itself is on this list a little further down. You can also enter the falls from Buffalo in the USA. It is only 17miles from Niagara Falls and part of the famous route 66.
Things to Do
Niagara Falls has many tourist attractions, from taking a boat trip to the mouth of the falls. You can Hike up to the top of the falls. Walk behind the falls and get to touch the water flowing over. As the area gets dark the falls light up giving another fantastic opportunity to see this amazing natural wonder. I recommend maybe booking an overnight stay in Niagara. This will really help you get a feel for the waterfall and enjoy all the activities on offer. Not just at the waterfall but in and around the town itself.
Costa Rica is situated in central America. In the region it is the most stable, safest country compared to many of it’s neighbours. A recent study by Happy Planet reported that Costa Rica is the most satisfying place to live in the world. (England came 34th). Costa Rica also boasts the highest biodiversity in North America. Over a quarter of the country is protected for nature. Costa Rica is also on track to be carbon neutral by the end 2021. Costa Rica sits between two oceans the Caribbean and Pacific. The endangered Jaguar can also be found in Costa Rica (not to be mistaken for the car).
Many tourists visit the Pacific coast side of the country after flying into the capital San Jose. The country isn’t very big and you can drive from one side to the other in a few hours. From the airport in the Capitol it takes about 1hr 30mins to drive to the popular town of Jaco. Jaco is situated on the Pacific Coast where surfing, paddle boarding and wake boarding are part of daily life. As I mentioned before more then a quarter of the country is covered by protected forests. This means spotting wildlife is a must, Hummingbirds, Sloths are common in the country. But if your lucky enough there are Jaguars to be found too. The country has lush rainforests to explore with tree top bridges and zip wires for that adrenaline rush.
The food in Costa Rica is a mix between Mexican and Puerto Rican and Rice and Black Beans are a staple of most meals with fruit and veg in abundance. It’s a warm tropical country and doesn’t have the seasons like we do in the UK, Costa Rica has just 2 seasons the dry and wet. In the wet season it rains almost everyday but even in the dry season it can rain from time to time and that is why the rainforests are so lush with greenery.
The national langague is Spainsh and the local currency is “Colon” and another great thing about Costa Rica, UK citizens do not require any visa for entering the country as long as it’s less then 90 days and you are not working or earning any money, so no paperwork to complete either. For those reasons mentioned above and for so many more Costa Rica is on my hit list for a visit and I hope at some point I can make it to this amazing country.
WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT, FLORIDA
I don’t think there is anywhere I have ever been to that puts a smile on my face as big as the smile I get whenever I am in one of these incredible parks. Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida is the biggest and most popular resort in the world. With 5 Parks belonging to the Resort all offering guests truly unique experiences.
Orlando is the most visited city in the United States of America and this place is certainly one of the reasons why. There is NO doubt the resort is huge, it features 4 theme parks (magic kingdom, animal kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood studios) it has 2 water parks (Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon), 27 themed hotels, 3 golf courses, a camping resort and an outdoor eating and entertainment complex known as Disney Springs this place really does offer something for everyone no matter what your age.
Its super simple to get to Orlando. The United Kingdom has daily direct flights from London. I’ve flown with many airlines into Orlando so just make sure your getting the best prices and times, don’t forget the time of year you visit can make all the difference for example travelling in school holidays can be up to 3 times more expensive so watch out for that. Once you get to Orlando the choices is yours, there are 27 themed hotels in Disney all offering different things. some resorts our geared more toward younger children. One is more suited for teenagers and some even just adults only (more golf courses and spas) whatever it is you can find it in this huge resort. Just make sure you do your research.
Things to Do
The theme parks themselves are just amazing, there is no other word I can say. Their attention to detail, the layouts, the shows, parades, shops and eating places are all just fantastic and that’s without talking about the rides, stunt shows and 4D effects all adding to one magical experience. All these can come at a price so be prepared to cough up. Staying in Disney isn’t the cheapest option but I will say you get what you pay for. Can you really put a price on having breakfast with Micky and Minnie Mouse??
I visited Orlando most recently in 2019 so be sure to check out my blog on Florida to get a much more in-depth review, just click on the link: CLICK HERE
Toronto, Ontario Canada is the largest city in Canada and by the far the most visited. It is also the 4th most populous city in North America and is a transport hub for Canada itself with hundreds of people flying in to grab a connecting flights elsewhere within the country.
Canada is a huge multicultural and cosmopolitan city offering all what you would expect from a modern city. The most famous landmark in the city is the CN Tower which attracts 2 million tourists a year, it stands at 553.3 meters high and for 32 years held the record for the worlds tallest free standing structure until 2007, the CN tower has a restaurant at the highest point and in 2011 opened a new attraction, the “EdgeWalk” which gives thrill seekers the chance to walk on and around the the roof of the main pod just above the restaurant which is 356m high making it the worlds highest full-circle, hands free walk.
Things to Do
Other great attractions in the city is Toronto Island Park, 4 islands which serve as a park and rest bite from the city, you can grab a ferry from downtown Toronto and while on the islands you can rent a bike, go fishing, have a picnic, it’s also a great place to catch a sunset over looking Lake Ontario. There is Ripley’s Aquarium which is well worth a visit and St. Lawrence Market, which is huge market selling everything from fresh food to clothes, there are also shops and restaurants and it’s a great place to grab a little coffee and watch the world to by soaking up the true atmosphere of this amazing city.
Speaking of food and drink, Toronto is no stranger to being one of the worlds best. There are thousands of eating places within the city, to many to name but they range from your local bakery right up to your fine dining experience. 360 on the top of the CN Tower is a popular choice so I would recommend booking well in advance, not only is the food fantastic, the views across the city are outstanding. As I mentioned before, Toronto also serves as a gateway to Niagara Falls, there are hundreds of tour operators running daily trips from Toronto to Niagara Falls but again I would certianly recommend booking well in advance if this is something for you.
There is no doubt Toronto is a great city and deserves a place on this list as one of the top destintions in North America.
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
The first EVER national park of the United States of America. Many believe it is the first national park in the world, Yellowstone has become one of the most important national parks on the planet. It is largely situated in the state of Wyoming but boundaries do cross into Idaho and Montana. Yellowstone covers 3,468.4 square miles (approx. 1,250 football pitches).
Yellowstone is famous for it’s wildlife and geothermal activity as Yellowstone is a dormant volcano. The most famous geyser in the park is known as “Old Faithful” which sees hundreds of tourists each year. Yellowstone captures the sense of the great outdoors maybe like no-where else in the US. In the summer months the park is lush with green forests, mountain peaks and cascading waterfalls. In winter Yellowstone is transformed into a winter wonderland with frozen lakes and snow capped mountains. Temperatures can sometimes get down to as low as -18/-25. Yellowstone is also home to the last wild roaming Bison but is also home to Elk, Wolves and Grizzly bears. In 1978 Yellowstone became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Things to Do
So, how do you get to Yellowstone National Park? It’s not difficult to reach, as I said it’s an extremely popular destination and the quickest and easiest way would be to fly. You can fly into Yellowstone Airport (approx. 2 miles from the park) but you will need to change planes at Salt Lake City Airport as this is the only airport with transport links to Yellowstone. However, as this is the most popular it’s also the most expensive Jackson Hole Airport and Bozeman Airport are all other options to consider, they are a little further away but could be a cheaper option.
Another great way to see the park is to drive, there are loads of different routes through-out the park and let’s face it, the best way to see anything is from the ground. By car is the best way to see this amazing landscape, as you drive through the stunning scenery and you can stop at any of the view points or attractions along the way, now this is maybe the most time consuming but certainly the best way to see everything. You could fly into Salt Lake City or Denver and hire a car and drive but if you take the driving option remember to consider the driving conditions, in the winter months it be dangerous however there is never a bad time to visit the park with all 4 seasons giving visitors a different outlook in this incredible wilderness.
Most certainly one of the most popular countries in the Caribbean. It’s the tropical paradise everyone dreams off and The Bahamas rely heavily on tourism to survive. In fact tourism makes approx. 50% of The Bahamas GDP and creates work for most of it’s population, however most people arrive on this beautiful island via cruise ships which bring up to 70% of the tourists to The Bahamas.
The Bahamas are just of the coast of Florida and just north of Cuba in the Atlantic Ocean. The Bahamas is one of the most popular island destinations in all of the Caribbean. It remains one of the most sort after to visit by people all over the world. The Bahamas our surrounded by beaches, crystal clear water and coral reefs. This makes it an ideal place to snorkel and scuba dive. Another great attraction to the islands is the climate, the weather is warm pretty much all year around with many daylight sunshine hours and average night time temperatures never really dropping below 19C with daytime temperatures getting up to 27C in summer and 21C in winter. The Bahamas don’t have seasons like we have, they have wet and dry seasons like many sub-tropical countries.
Things to Do
The Bahamas give everyone that sense of paradise with white sandy beaches clipping the clear Atlantic waters and they offer a huge array of beach activities including surfing, body boarding, jet skis, water skiing, snorkelling and scuba diving in the rich coral reefs surrounding the islands. They also offer a great array of aquatic wildlife to view including dolphins, tiger sharks, sea turtles and sting rays but also offer spas, beach yoga and a great sense to unwind and relax. The country has hundreds of hotels with spas, some even directly on the beach itself. Imagine waking up each morning, walking outside your villa and having breakfast directly on the beach, its possible in the Bahamas.
Getting to The Bahamas isn’t a problem, British Airways fly direct from London Heathrow to Nassau International Airport with a flight time of about 9/10hrs then from Nassau you can check another plane to any of the neighbouring islands or resorts. Their currency is Bahamian Dollar but many businesses will accept the US Dollar however I would always check first with restaurants, shops keepers and tour guides.
The Bahamas really are a paradise waiting to be explored and it’s certainly up there on my travel hit list.
It’s the second largest city in the US by population and 3rd most populous city in North America and extremely famous. Los Angeles (LA) is situated in the state of California on the west coast of the USA. The coastline is touched by the Pacific Ocean but the city also lies in the shadows of the San Gabriel Mountains. The city of Los Angeles is also flanked by desert it’s south-eastern side. Los Angeles is most famous for being the home of Hollywood and one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in the world, Beverly Hills.
Things to Do
LA offers a great travel destination for any occasion, there are plenty of things to see and do in and around the city. Many people like to holiday here. The climate which is always warm, even in winter when you still expect temperatures to get into the low 20’s during the day. Los Angeles has many beaches all the way along the coast, Long Beach (where Baywatch was filmed), Malibu Beach (famous for movie stars and popstars hanging out) and Venice Beach to name but a few. There is Hollywood itself, take a walk along the famous “walk of fame” or complete a Hollywood tour getting to see the rich and famous houses up close and personal. Have a day out at Universal Studios or Magic Kingdom theme parks all in the local area.
In fact there are loads of things to do around the city from visiting the Getty Centre (Art Gallery) the huge Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood sign itself. There are shopping malls and outlets suited for just about every wallet, complete with brand names and less well known names all offering a great shopping experience.
ROCKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
The Rocky Mountains National Park is one of the most popular National Parks in North America. The Mountains cover a vast area stretching from Southern USA all the way through to Canada. The official park is an area which is situated just 76 miles northwest of Denver Colorado. The park has over 350 miles of hiking trails, 2 of the highest scenic roads in the USA and sees approx. just over 4 million tourists a year.
The Rocky Mountains sees most of it’s visitors during the summer months (May/June/July/August) which are by far the busiest times to visit the park. When driving by car be prepared for a lot of traffic during the summer months. However just outside the main park there are park and ride schemes meaning, you drive here and park your car for a small fee, then use the free shuttle buses to take you directly to the park entrance. The main park entrance (most popular) is the East entrance called, Estes Park. Estes Park is actually a small town nestled deep in the Rocky Mountains and you will find car parks, shops and places to eat and drink. From here you can pick up many of the trails that will lead you into the park and take you through this magical landscape.
Things to Do
There are dozens of highlights within the park all dotted around the different trails and it will really depend on what you want to see to choose which trail you want to complete, some or just 1 mile long while others can be 10/11 miles long. Some can lead you into beautiful forests, cliff edges and waterfalls some of the most popular are Spray Lake, Bear Lake, Alberta Falls, Emerald Lake and Timberline Falls to name but a few but there is so much more so I recommend maybe doing a little research before your visit. If you follow the scenic road from Estes Park, it can take you to the north side of the park, Horseshoe Park.
Another very popular place here is the Alpine Visitor Centre. Here you can enjoy a little museum showing how the park came to be. Some of the incredible ancient artefacts that have been discovered over the years on display. In total there are 5 visitor centres through-out the park. With the park being separated into 5 different regions but all of them offer the most amazing landscapes and scenery.
As I mentioned getting to the park is pretty easy, most people will fly into Denver and then catch buses or drive in a rental car to the park. Once in the park there are free shuttles to the Estes Park entrance during the peak summer months. There are numerous place to stay dotted around the park, so if you wanted to make a short weekend stay you can, the park offers Hotels, B&B’s, lodges and even campsites I would recommend checking out the website which I will link below. Please note during the winter, the park is still open but most of the roads will be closed due to heavy snow. The park then becomes a paradise for skiers and snowboarders to enjoy.
The Rocky Mountains National Park in Colorado USA is one not to be missed and that is why it features on my list.
Here is the link below to check out the local accommodation in the area:
GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK
When we speak about landscapes and national parks maybe none of them in North America is as famous as the Grand Canyon National Park. The Grand Canyon itself is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It is truly is a stunning place to visit. The national park is spread over a vast area. The main Grand Canyon is situated in the state of Arizona. Flowing through the canyon is the mighty Colorado River which over centuries has carved it’s way through the canyon. This in turn has given it the dramatic appearance and its name. The Grand Canyon National Park is the second most visited in the USA and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The most popular part of the park is the South Rim area near Tusayan, Arizona. The Grand Canyon National Park is a park you can also drive around. The drive as you can imagine is one of kind. It has some of the most iconic scenery in the US. There are loads of popular stopping points along the way all signposted. Grand Canyon Village has hotels, restaurants, a gas station and even a hospital within the park. This is also where most of the walking trails will begin.
There are several lodges, hotels and campsites around the Grand Canyon National Park. It really does depend on what you want to do and see during your stay. Getting to the park is pretty easy, you can fly to 3 different airports Las Vegas, Phoenix and Flagstaff. The South Rim has it’s own airport for visitors as well. There are bus services running from Las Vegas and Phoenix. But if public transport isn’t your thing there is always the rental car option. There really is plenty of ways to get to and enjoy this natural wonder.
Things to Do
There are loads of things to do within the national park. By far the most popular is the walking tours and trails along the south rim of the canyon. There are a host of other activities which include The Skywalk (A glass bottomed ridge over hanging the canyon), Hoover Dam, A native American village, Helicopter Tours and even a Kayak Tour along the Colorado River to get a view like no other. The South Rim and North Rim have visitor centres with car parks. They also have shuttles to the main areas of the park.
I think it would also be worth mentioning the climate. Arizona can get extremely hot during the summer months. Grand Canyon National Park can get extremely busy during these months. Please keep that in mind, as a little tip many people like to visit either side of the peak season. So the months to visit is April/May or September/October. It can still be hot during the day and cold during the night so prepared for that. Also going in peak season you may find some of the prices for lodges and hotels at there highest rates. You may also be able to find a cheaper deal during the off peak season.
In any event, the Grand Canyon National Park will give you some of the most iconic landscapes. It will provide photos and memories you would get no-where else on earth. This is one of the great American wildernesses and believe me, I don’t think you will be disappointed.
It’s a place that so many people dream of being able to visit once in their lifetime. It’s a place that remains high on people’s bucket list. Hawaii brings people to visit due to the endless beaches, amazing weather, great food and a paradise. Having been I can tell you it is all of those things and more.
Hawaii is a group of Islands situated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Hawaii became the 50th state of the United States of America in August 1959. It’s the only island state of the US. One of only a handful to have once been an independent nation. Hawaii still has it’s own national flag and language. Hawaii consists of 8 different islands with the largest island known as “the big island”. The most inhabited island is O’ahu which is also home to the state capital Honolulu. Other islands include Kaua’I, Maui and Moloka’I which all offer some of the best beaches and diving of anywhere in the world.
Things to Do
Hawaii has over 750 miles of coastline, more then any other state in the US. The beaches are amazing and we got to visit a few, however that is not all Hawaii has to offer. There are active volcanoes, coral reefs, hiking trails. Pearl Harbour is a huge draw for tourists on O’ahu and sunset cruises. Film sets and even the largest open shopping mall in the northern hemisphere. Hawaii is one of the worlds premier honeymoon destinations. In a report published in 2018 it said that 38% of all tourists were on their honeymoon.
Getting to the islands can be a little bit of a mission as we found out. But believe me, the wait is so worth it. We flew from London Heathrow to Honolulu via Los Angeles. We changed planes in LA as we needed to get a smaller plane onto Honolulu. In total we were travelling for around 27 hours but like I said, I would do it all over again in a flash. You can fly from Tokyo or New Zealand on Hawaiian Airlines it just depends on your travel plans. The climate in Hawaii never really changes. It stays warm all year around and they have 2 seasons of wet and dry. We visited in October and it was 30 degrees everyday without a cloud in the sky. So I must recommend travel during September and October.
I will always say Hawaii is one of my favourite destinations I have ever visited. You can take a look at my blog featuring all the activities and things we got up to on our trip to Hawaii. CLICK HERE to find out more.
I hope you have enjoyed my list of some of the best North American destinations. I hope they might help you in planning your next adventure.
Until Next Time……