20 must do’s in America
I spent two months travelling America and it was one of favourite trips I have ever been on! Starting from Los Angeles I went to San Francisco, Vegas, New Orleans, Texas, Nashville, The Florida Keys, Miami, Washington, New York and Colorado. It was epic!
I initially had no interest in going to America, but my ex at the time was super keen and I had just gotten back from Europe, so I thought why not! America’s outside of America can be a little obnoxious (sorry) but Americans in America, whole different ball game! I met so many beautiful people, who really wanted to help us and were super hospitable even when they didn’t need to be. The amount of times we had a big night out with strangers, were invited to house parties or were helped on the side of the road is unbelievable.
Not only are the people nice, but the nature across the country and the things to do are endless. If you’re heading to America, I’ve compiled a list of my 20 must do’s!
1. Fly a helicopter into The Grand Canyon and have a little picnic
Obviously not the most affordable activity for everyone but holy hell, this was one of the best things I have ever done. From Vegas, I flew in a helicopter over the Grand Canyon and Death Valley. The sheer size of the canyon blew me away. Then, I got to have a champagne picnic right in the middle of it. If you ever want to imagine what it would be like to be the size of an ant, this is probably as close as you can get.
2. Hit up a music festival and enjoy some big acts
The music festivals in America are INSANE and so much better than ones in Australia. Everything is organised so well, with bigger acts and cheaper prices and you’d be an absolute fool not to go to one. They have buses and trains from all over the city to collect you and drop you off for free, there are people standing everywhere holding signs saying ‘ask me for help’ and you’re given a wrist band to load up with cash so you can get drinks super quick. I went to Austin City Limits in Texas and saw the likes of Drake, The Wknd, Fidlar, Foo Fighters, A$AP Rocky and Florence and The Machine. The festival ran over three days and a ticket was cheaper than Splendour in the Grass. To find out what festivals are on when you’re there, check out Music Festival Wizard.
3. Go To Vegas
What would a trip to America be without Las Vegas Baby? You can gamble while you sip free drinks, stay up until all hours of the night, go to the biggest cannabis dispensary in the world, check out a show and stay in a bougie hotel for cheap! My favourite part is drinking on the streets from the many alcohol stores for under three bucks.
4. Visit Colorado and the near by hippie town of Boulder
Visit some of the best dispensaries in the world and get high as f*ck. If you’re not about the high life, do yourself a solid and go to the dispensaries for educational reasons and learn about what making marijuana legal has done for the economy and people with medical conditions.
5. Visit the Beautiful Florida Keys
Go parasailing, soak up the sun, eat all the food and drink on the streets in your swimmers. I chased a golf cart down the street and got a ride with some locals in my bikini while holding a beer and it’s one of my favourite memories of this trip because no one thought it was weird!
6. Go to Wal-Mart
A basic activity but one that could amuse you for at least two hours. You can actually see all the memes you’ve ever laughed at of Wal-Mart people in real life and it’s amazing! They also have everything you could dream of from lawn mowers to fridges to fruit to pet gold fish. Where in the world would you find that!
7. Spend at least five days in New York
New York is one of my favourite cities in the world and this is true for many people. It has a special energy about it that can only be experienced when you’re there. It was better than anyone could have told me. There is so much to do, so many different and unique areas, amazing music, great parks, fantastic shopping and tasty, cheap food. Central Park is beautiful, Times Square is just like the movies and the bars are endless. New York offers is such a special place. My favourite areas were Brooklyn or the East Village.
8. Experience Halloween
Halloween is epic in America and it really is as nuts as the movies make it out to be. I was in Nashville for it and it was one of the best nights I’ve ever had. I met a dude that dressed up as a kangaroo and followed me around all night because I was Australian and sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever feel that famous again.
9. Go to a game at Madison Square Gardens
Madison Square Gardens is such a cool stadium and I’m not even big into basketball or hockey! I went to both games though and was up in the nose bleed sections and it was incredible (even if I couldn’t see the puck as I forgot my glasses).
10. Check out an NFL Game and tail gate with the locals
I was lucky enough to see a Falcons vs Saints game at the New Orleans Super Dome. These teams are rivals and it was epic! This is also the stadium where everyone was evacuated to for for Hurricane Katrina. American footballs is crazy, the live entertainment, the atmosphere and the Super Dome itself was so extra. If you can, go early and go to the park where Americans tail gate. This is a pre game, American tradition where fans have a BBQ on the tail gate of their utes and drink before kick off!
11. Eat Bulk Bagels
Bagels are better in America. They’re everywhere, they’re cheap and they have 100s of flavours. The bagels from Tompkins Square Bagels in the Eastern Village of New York were my favourite by far. The options are endless! It’s often jam packed so pick an unusual time of day to go because the line can be outside and around the corner, they’ll be worth it though.
12. Visit Washington DC and go to the amazing museums
Go to all the museums, especially the Holocaust Museum. I legitimately cried the whole way through this. That doesn’t sound like a fun time but it wasn’t weird because everyone was crying. The Smithsonian museums there are epic too and they’re all in one square so you can easily walk between them. I loved the Smithsonian of Natural History the most!
13. Hire a Car and Road Trip along the Pacific Coast Highway from Los Angeles to San Francisco
Make sure you ttop at the Big Sur, it’s incredible! Also make sure you bring snacks and fill up the car with petrol (or gas in America) as there are hardly any stops along the coast line and it can be a lengthy journey. Better to get snacks than chuck a hunger tantrum halfway through, not talking from experience or anything.
14. Shop Everywhere and search for great vintage clothes
The shopping is SO GOOD. There are crazy good vintage and thrift stores and everything is cheaper than Australia. I went to Sephora everyday I was in New York and had to buy an extra suitcase to bring home all of my goodies, whoops.
15. Visit San Francisco, ride a bike across the Golden Gate Bridge and go to Sausalito and the Red Wood Forest
I loved San Francisco, almost as much as I loved New York. There is so much to explore and great vibes all around the city, from the sea to the CBD. My highlights were Alcatraz Prison, the Waterfront, Off The Grid food trucks and the Golden Gate Bridge. If you get a bike, you can cross to Sausalito. It’s a cute little town and from there you can go to the massive Red Wood Forest where you can see some of the biggest trees of your life!
16. Eat delicious BBQ in Texas.
So much meat, so much goodness, so much deliciousness. Need I say more?
17. Ride all of the rides at the theme parks in Florida, Orlando
So big, so entertaining, so many rides, so extra and American, you must see it! If you love Harry Potter, Harry Potter World is insane and you can truly feel like a wizard (Harry).
18. Hit up Williamsburg in Brooklyn
Heck, even stay there as a cheaper alternative to expensive New York. Since I visited in 2015, Brooklyn has gotten more and more popular and if you visit, you’ll see why. The area has heaps of bars, restaurants, cool shops and hipsters who love good music. While you’re there, see a gig at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. It opened 15 years ago and is one of the first music venues to open in Brooklyn. I saw Rufus there for $15 and it was awesome!
19. Stay in the French Quarter in New Orleans
I loooveed New Orleans. Way more than I ever expected to. The people are so nice, the food is great and the vibes are unreal. If you go, stay in the French Quarter, the home of Jazz! You can see an abundance of authentic Jazz all night long in bars and eat BBQ off the street while partying with the nicest people ever. Also visit the Katrina Museum while you’re there.
20. Ride a bike from Santa Monica Pier to Venice Beach in California
Watch the skaters, the surfers, the stoners and the gym goers in the famous outdoor gym. This part of California reminded me of the OC and all those other American TV shows we grew up with, I loved it. Go to some dispensaries while you’re there and join in on the action!
I updated this in 2022 after yet another mass shooting, so maybe when that calms down, you can add America to your travel list and give these awesome things a go.
There are a few places I didn’t get to but think they worthy of your list, one being Yosemite National Park. I also didn’t visit Chicago or Seattle and I think they’d be amazing! If you’re going to the states be sure to check out Thrillest for awesome blogs from locals on things to do, places to eat and endless fun. If I’ve forgotten anything feel free to comment below!
Yours in adventures,