"MY BEST USA TRAVEL MEMORY"
We asked the travel experts to share with us their best USA travel memories
The Charitableness of the people on ROUTE 66
By Dave Chant from www.davechant.com
A rusty old car may not at first look like a fantastic USA travel memory. But, in fact, it reminds me of everything that is memorable about Route 66.
As a slightly skeptical Brit, I drove the whole route over in October 2018. Colleagues hinted that it would be nothing but rundown petrol stations and ruins. It turned out to be so much more - fantastic attractions, great driving, the classic tunes on top volume, and a small piece of historic America not lost in our increasingly fast, modern world.
I’ve never fallen in love with a road more! But it was the people and the charitableness that I will remember most.
Nowhere was this stronger than at Gary’s Gay Parita, located a few miles west of Halltown on Route 66 in Missouri. Pulling in to the old Sinclair station, there’s a chance to admire 66 memorabilia, and there’s a shop too, but what sticks in my mind is the true kindness on the road. The owners (I forget their names and feel awful for this) chat to travelers and offer them free drinks from the fridge.
Gary sadly passed on a few years ago. The day we stopped by, an artist was just finishing a big shield outside on the road with “Gary’s U.S 66”. It’s great to see that Gary’s legacy lives on, as does the ethos of Route 66.
Yosemite National Park - Tunnel View Memory
By Laura from "Live, Adventure, Travel"
It was the 4th of September. There I sat on the wall of the famous Tunnel View in Yosemite National Park. I could see Bridalveil Falls to my right, El Capitan to my left and Half Dome in the distance.
Words can not describe how grateful I was to have the opportunity to visit my dream destination. I had spent many years reading guide books, watching videos, and admiring photos of that very valley- dreaming of the day I could actually visit. This was certainly a ‘pinch me I’m dreaming’ kind of moment.
What made this moment that extra bit special was not only the view but the people sitting on the wall with me. You see, 15 days prior to this experience we were all strangers. Six women, from different countries, on a coast to coast road trip across America together. It’s safe to say we quickly became great friends.
We spent 2 days admiring some of Yosemite’s most breathtaking scenery and exploring some of the park's many hiking trails. This was ultimately an experience not to forget. I often look back at how lucky I was to tick Yosemite off my bucket list. It is honestly a once in a lifetime travel experience!
Hiking to Balanced Rock in big bend national park, texas
Umiko from "Two Worlds Treasures"
Our recent hike to Balanced Rock in Big Bend National Park is still fresh in my memory. We arrived at the trailhead one late afternoon, where storm clouds were hanging in the horizon and looked like they were coming our way. My son and I moved as fast as we could, while my husband stayed in the car with our dog because dogs are not allowed on trails in this park.
Balanced Rock is located at the end of Grapevine Hills Trail, an easy 2.2 miles round trip trail, where at the last quarter you need to climb steep rocks to get to these boulders. Some people said the climb is difficult, but I found it fun.
At the end of the trail, the Balanced Rock stands elegant and sturdy, welcoming visitors like us. It gives an amazing view through its gap, where visitors can see the Milky Way when hiking late in the evening. I wish we could have stayed longer to enjoy the beauty of the rocks and its surrounding, but thunder had started to play in the sky. We ran back to the car, leaving the Balanced Rocks alone in far west Texas, until the next visitors arrived.
honeymoon helicopter flight over new york
By Vicki from "Vickiviaja- Everyone Can Travel"
New York has been my absolute favorite city since my first visit 10 years ago. So I was all the more excited that New York would be the first stop on our 5-month honeymoon trip that started last year.
For my husband Eduardo, it was the first time in New York, even the first time in the United States, which made the whole thing even more special. In addition to the typical tourist activities in New York, we planned to do something extraordinary - after all, our honeymoon should remain in our memories for a long time to come. That's why we decided to take a helicopter flight over Manhattan.
The flight took off from New Jersey's Linden Airport and offered us an absolutely unique view of the Manhattan skyline that I had never seen before. Since it was the first helicopter flight for both of us, we decided on a model with closed doors. The whole experience was definitely one of the most impressive activities of our entire trip.
A little tip: With some of the New York Passes, you can sometimes get a great deal on your helicopter flight over New York.
If you’re planning a trip to New York anytime in the future you might want to take a look at this post - "USA-NEW YORK -Tips and Tales" for reviews and tips of places and activities to help you make decisions about whether you should add them to your itinerary.
Colorado -unforgetable road trip
By sustainable travel bloggers Oksana & Max from "Drink Tea & Travel"
Our Colorado road trip was one of our best memories from our trip around the United States. It has some of the best scenery in the country and is known for its winding roads, outdoor activities, and snow-capped mountains. The state is also home to a vibrant arts scene and some of the loveliest locals.
Our Colorado road trip was a loop, starting and ending in Denver with lots of stops along the way. Some of the highlights were Mesa Verde National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site with the ancient dwellings of the Pueblo people, Ouray, a small picturesque mountain town, the Hanging Lake trail near Glenwood Springs, and the Garden of the Gods near Colorado Springs. The Cog Train was also a really fun activity to explore Pike Peak’s which had beautiful views of the surrounding mountain range.
We quickly learned that to properly enjoy all that Colorado has to offer, you really need to spend 2 or more weeks exploring the state. It’s an American experience you shouldn’t miss!
great smoky mountains national park
By Ketki of "Dotted Globe"
One of the most memorable places that we visited last year was the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. We had planned our trip during the last week of October when the national park was experiencing peak fall color. This is an amazing time to visit the Smoky mountains as the whole mountainside is covered in shades of yellow, orange, and red. Hikes and scenic drives are more beautiful and wildlife sightings are common.
Our kids were happy to spot a mama bear and her cubs, elks, and deer during our visit. I especially loved how the fall foliage framed the waterfalls and historic log cabins of the Smokies. Gatlinburg, which is the gateway town for the park, and is also wonderful to visit during fall. The city has fall decor everywhere and events like Harvest Festival, Oktoberfest, and Craft Fairs attract crowds. Visitors can drink a variety of ciders and eat pumpkin pies while in town.
hiking yosemite national park
By Allison from "She Dreams of Alpine"
My heart lives in the mountains in California, and throughout COVID-19 I find myself constantly being taken back to my trip with my best friends, backpacking and hiking in Yosemite National Park, wishing I was back there.
Yosemite National Park is one of the most iconic, well-known national parks in the entire United States. In the summer and fall months, people flock from all over the world to visit Yosemite and see the tall granite walls in Yosemite Valley and hike some of Yosemite’s best hiking trails, and that’s just what my friends and I did.
We found a campground just outside the central valley, hiked some of the best trails in the whole park, and even made our way up the Half Dome hiking trail. We spent our days talking, hiking, and enjoying the beautiful Fall weather in Yosemite, and spent our evenings at camp, looking up at the stars, and drinking a bottle of wine. This is the memory I want to go back to- a weekend trip with my best friends in one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Floating the Deschutes River
By Margherita Ragg from "The Crowded Planet"
I was very, very lucky to have planned a 7-week USA road trip throughout January and February, just before the Covid-19 madness began. It was the first time in the Southwestern US for myself and my husband, and even though we had 7 weeks to play with, there is so much to do that we found ourselves having to choose what to see.
We both really wanted to see Antelope Canyon, a slot canyon in the Navajo Nation, famous for its red, wavy sandstone walls. However, we heard that the place is so popular, that tours are just really rushed and you feel 'herded' quickly through the canyon with just enough time to take pictures.
Well, that may be the case in summer, but in winter, visiting Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon is a lot of fun! We visited Lower Antelope Canyon one day in February - visitors were very few, and we were able to take our time and explore the canyon at leisure, led by a wonderful Navajo guide, who not only shared some local tips and insights about life in the Navajo nation but was also a wonderful photographer! We loved our experience so much that we returned the following day and visited Upper Antelope Canyon as well.
Visiting both Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon is pricey, as each tour starts at about $50 - out of the two, Lower was probably my favourite, since it was longer and more adventurous to visit. In any case, don't miss Antelope Canyon - it was one of my highlights of our US road trip, and I'm sure you'll love it too!
Dolphins at maui
By Clemens Sehi from "Travellers Archive"
Our best travel memory, pre Covid-19, is seeing dolphins on the coast of Maui in 2019. The island of Maui is not only known for the large number of humpback whales off its coasts, but also for the dolphins.
It is no surprise that dolphins on Maui win the award for being the most popular marine mammal. Spinner dolphins are the smallest of Maui's common dolphins. Dolphins are generally between five and six feet in length and weigh 130 to 200 pounds.
Around Maui, dolphins can be found in large herds at night in the deep channels between the islands. During the day, dolphins most often break up into smaller groups and come near the shore to rest and play. But sometimes you can even see them mingle in huge groups during the day. This is exactly the time where one can experience them while on a dolphin cruise. Dolphins can commonly be seen along the southern boundaries of Maui especially the La Perouse Bay and Kanaio area, where we managed to see them in real life. Seeing dolphins on the shore of Maui is a once in a lifetime experience.
FLOATING THE DESCHUTES RIVER IN CENTRAL OREGON
By Michelle C from "Roam Redmond Oregon"
Floating the Deschutes River in Central Oregon is an all-time favorite, memorable activity for me. On a hot summer day, there's nothing more refreshing than drifting along on river water that comes from mountain snowmelt!
Floating the river on inner tubes, kayaks, or stand up paddleboards is especially popular in Bend, Oregon. There, you can easily rent inner tubes on-site, take the $3 shuttle back and forth, and ride for two hours or more.
Bend has become a huge outdoor adventure destination for both summer and winter. The Deschutes River runs right by city parks, an outdoor concert arena, a hip shopping center, and the backyards of desirable riverfront homes.
Tip: To enjoy the river with fewer crowds and more natural vibes, float the lesser-known part of the river in Tumalo. From the parking area in Tumalo to Twin Bridges is a full 2 hours and 20 minutes that's one part relaxing and one part adventurous!
OPEning my eyes to the possibility of travel!
By Dan from "Horo Travel Memories"
It’s hard to believe coming from the keyboard of someone who runs a travel blog, but I used to be largely indifferent to travelling. I felt the same way about movies. Sadly it took me 20 years of my life and eating in Katz Deli, New York to realise the error of my ways.
From the moment we met, my girlfriend worked away at me like a zealously persuasive woodpecker, to try and get me to travel with her. She finally convinced me to accompany her on a city break to New York. Before we went I was also instructed to watch the film ‘When Harry Met Sally.’
It was sitting in Katz Deli, the setting of the film’s most iconic scene, that opened my eyes to the possibilities of travelling. Never before had I considered seeing the world or even watching films outside of my specific genre tastes. For the rest of the trip I grinned like a mischievous child, seeing famous things like the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty for the first time.
Now travelling is all I want to do and I will always credit my girlfriend, New York and Katz Deli with the feeling that there is a whole world I need to see.
steamboat ride in new orleans
By Derek and Mike from "Robe Trotting"
We grew up in the United States, so we have a lot of travel memories there as children and adults. Our best travel memory as a couple is spending 3 days in New Orleans. It was a long weekend full of jazz music, tours, drinks, and fun. The vibe in New Orleans is electric and it’s the most unique city in America.
We received several New Orleans travel tips as we were planning the getaway, but the best advice was to book a steamboat ride on the Mississippi River. There are several authentic boats that offer tours from the Toulouse Street Wharf. We booked a brunch ride on The Creole Queen. The entire experience was just under 3 hours and it cruised north to a War of 1812 battlefield from The Battle of New Orleans. We learned about the city’s history from colonial times to hurricane Katrina and the rebuilding of the city after that tragedy.
New Orleans is dealing with another tragedy today, and we still think about the inspirational stories we heard of its citizens rebuilding after the hurricane. It makes us confident that we’ll go back to New Orleans one day and it will be just as vibrant and full of life as before.
Helicopter Tour of the Na Pali Coast- kauai
By Dani Ward from "Diapers in Paradise"
The best travel experience that we had in 2019, took place in arguably the most beautiful location in the USA. During a trip to Kauai with kids, we took a half-day where we left them with a babysitter and went on a helicopter tour of the island.
There are few places that can compare to the natural beauty of Kauai, which is probably why it has been featured in so many movies. The center of the island is one of the rainiest places on Earth, making it also one of the lushest and green places. It is also home to the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific", or Waimea Canyon.
While all the waterfalls and jungle are incredible to fly past, the truly breathtaking part is the Na Pali Coast. Inaccessible from the rest of the island, except by boat or helicopter, the scenery here is wild and stunning.
We chose a private, doors-off flight to ensure that we had the best possible view. You can book flights from several operators on the island, but be sure to book ahead of time. It was an experience we will remember forever!
Hollywood's hawaii set
By Holly from "Globeblogging"
I took my first trip to Hawaii in 2019, staying on the island of Oahu. Of all the amazing things I wanted to do, there was one thing that was recommended to me above all others by just about everyone who had been there. and that was Kualoa Ranch. Otherwise known as Jurassic Park Hawaii.
The expansive private nature reserve is not only a WW2 military site and a working cattle ranch, but it is Hollywood’s Hawaii set. Many Hollywood blockbusters and big TV shows have been filmed, all or in part, on the ranch.
Not only is the property itself magnificent, but for movie buffs like me, its amazing to come over a hill and recognize the plains where Sam Neill and the children are chased by the T-Rex in Jurassic Park, see Godzilla’s footprint in the dirt in front of Hurley’s one-hole golf course, and drive through the enclosure from Jurassic World, just to name a few.
There’s a variety of different movie tours you can take at the Ranch, depending on timing and what you are after. Most of them will stop by the tree stump featured in Jurassic Park, where the guide will be happy to take photos, complete with your own dinosaur!
the coolest dive ever!
By Kendal from"Getaway Girl US"
Florida is scattered with caverns, which made it my dream location to earn my PADI Cavern certification. When my instructor asked if it was okay to kayak to one of the training spots, I was SOLD!
With a tank tucked in the front and a tank poking out of the back, we paddled our way to our dive spot--Hospital Hole. Most caverns in Florida are only accessible by foot, but this one, located on the historic Weeki Wachee river, is accessed by kayak!
After tying your kayak to the palm tree located nearby, you gear-up already half-immersed in water. Descent is easy because you can still stand in the water! You descend by following the natural curvature in the sand to a sudden hole over 100 feet deep. This sinkhole is a favorite spot for manatees, so the bubbles from our regulators cause swimmers nearby to question if we’re manatees or divers!
Between 70 to 80ft, there’s a thick hydrogen sulfide layer that blocks all light from anything below. While descending through the hydrogen sulfide, everything is glossy and unclear. Suddenly, you’re in complete darkness.
This dive ranks as my favorite USA memory ever, and the coolest dive ever!
HIKING IN SEDONA & EXPERIENCING THE VORTEXES
By Nicole LaBarge from "American SW Obsessed"
One of my favorite travel memories of 2019 was visiting Sedona, Arizona. Sedona is known as Red Rock Country and is a very popular place to visit. Everywhere you look you will see beautiful landscapes. I was in Sedona in July and luckily the weather was quite pleasant to be outside and walking.
My favorite experience was hiking in Sedona. Sedona has these 'vortexes' which are centers of energy and they can be found on many of the hikes such as Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, Airport Mesa, and Boyton Canyon. My favorite place to experience the vortexes is on the Cathedral Rock hike.
The only way I can explain how to experience the vortex is a feeling of enlightenment and uplifting. You will see people meditating or doing yoga here. I joined in to complete a sun salutation series before completing my hike. Not only are the views absolutely stunning from Cathedral Rock but I left feeling energized and feeling lighter.
Beautiful panoramic views, sunshine and fresh air were exactly what the doctor ordered to feel lighter on my feet and a world away from the hustle and bustle of working a 9-5.
Wherever you’re traveling, but especially if you're hiking you need to have a basic first aid kit tucked away in your backpack or luggage for dealing with medical problems.
We asked the local pharmacists and medical experts for their advice and put together a printable list of “Must-Have” essential items for every traveler's first aid kit.
Forks, Washington- the setting of the Twilight Novels
By Kelly from "Snap Travel Magic"
My boyfriend and I are teachers. In July 2019, we decided to have one last adventure before school started. Combining his love of nature and my love of Twilight (my guilty pleasure read as an English teacher), we decided to visit Olympic National Park and make Forks, Washington, the setting of the Twilight novels, our base.
On our first night in Forks, after a long drive, we decided to go see the sunset on First Beach in La Push. Driving through the quaint Indian reservation, and hiking through a small forest eventually led us to a beach like no other.
Seeing a moody beach covered with petrified trees thrown carelessly over the sand was otherworldly. There was a light fog hanging in the air as we scampered over the fallen trees like little children.
Sea Stacks rose from the middle of the ocean. The stacks were rocky, but covered with vegetation at the top. Trees grew from the stacks, hanging on in the wind and mist of the night.
We spent an hour walking alongside the water, watching the sunlight fade and twilight blink into darkness, enjoying our last bit of summer freedom in this wild and magical place.
special family reunion in mobile, alabama
By Wendy Werneth of "The Nomadic Vegan"
My last trip to the United States was in 2015, when I went to visit my family in my hometown of Mobile, Alabama. I grew up there but left the US more than 20 years ago, and I don't get back very often.
This visit was the first time I had seen my Mom since my Dad had passed away, and I was anxious to see how she was coping with living on her own for the first time in her life. I was thrilled to see that she had developed a great support network and had reconnected with family members whom she hadn't been in touch with in years.
Some of them came over for dinner while I was there, and we had a lovely reunion. This was also the first time my Mom and I had gotten together since both becoming vegan the year before, so we really enjoyed experimenting in the kitchen together and trying new recipes. I often think back fondly on that visit, and I hope that I will be able to see her again before too long.
multigenerational oregon coast road trip
By Gina Tarnacki from "Evergreen & Salt: West Coast Travel"
Before travel restrictions were put into place, my favorite recent travel memory was a multigenerational Oregon Coast road trip I did with my mom and two young children. It was great seeing my mom interact with her grandchildren on vacation (and having the extra help with them!) while we got to experience the incredible views of the Oregon coastline.
We drove the entire Oregon coast from California up to Washington, but a highlight was for sure Bandon, a small beach city located in the southern region of the state. This is a place that is a great travel spot for all ages. We were all wowed by the expanse of sand during low tide that revealed starfish, mussels, and other sea urchins at the base of the many sea stacks lining the shore. My children had a blast running all around the sand and splashing in tide pools, while my mom and I enjoyed simply gazing at some of the most beautiful coastal scenery we'd ever seen.
california road trip
By Priya Vin from "Outside Suburbia"
Every summer we make a trip from Texas to California. My daughter goes to university there and my son attends a summer baseball camp. We combine it with a few road trips every time we visit the Golden State. The kids make a playlist for the trip, we load up on snacks and it is time for us to catch up during these driving trips.
One of our favorites is the 17-Mile Drive. The scenery never disappoints. Hugging the rugged Pacific coastline, the drive, especially during summer, offers breathtaking views of the ocean dotted with wildflowers, as it weaves through the Del Monte Forest.
Last year we stayed in Santa Barbara and our daughter joined us when her summer holidays started. We drove through Solvang, a cute Danish village, and the Santa Ynez Valley before we made it to our son’s baseball camp in Palo Alto.
We love driving over the Bixby Bridge to Big Sur. It is one of the tallest single-span concrete bridges and one of the most photographed bridges on the West Coast. Summer always started with California road trips for us and I always cherish those memories.
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