The United States – all 3.8 million square miles of it – is a vast landscape full of hidden gems that will satiate any traveler’s curiosity.
The biggest challenge? Trying to figure out what you want to see and do first. Whether you’re an intrepid outdoors-y explorer, a city-break enthusiast or a fashion-loving foodie, the US has something for everyone. Putting on our FQ travelling hat, we compiled our great American bucket list of the 12 most on-trend US spots you need to check out in your lifetime – a combination of the Instagrammable and the under-the-radar; the glamorous and the gritty.
So without further ado:
1. Catch a Broadway show in New York City.
Okay, let’s start with one of the more straightforward must-dos: it’s quintessentially New York and extremely touristy, but there is just something special about hitting a Broadway show and lapping up the atmosphere in nearby Times Square. Of course, you’ll want to make a night of it with dinner beforehand and some bar-hopping afterwards… To see some of FQ’s favourite spots in the Big Apple to get your food and cocktail fix, check out our ultimate New York travel guide.
2. Take the ultimate road trip along the Pacific Coast highway.
Widely touted as one of the most amazing coastal drives in the world, the Pacific Coast highway allows you to enjoy plenty of spectacular sights as you wind along some of the most nailbiting blind corners and curves one might ever encounter. The most popular stretch of Highway 1 is the 800km between San Francisco to Los Angeles, and there is plenty to spot along the way. Aside from the steep mountainous scenery of the Big Sur, which drops into the rugged Pacific Ocean below, popular stops also include Hearst Castle, which was once owned by eccentric newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst (look out for the zebras grazing in the fields below), and the famous Madonna Inn, with its 110 themed rooms and suites. And if you’re stumped about whether to check into the Caveman room or the Yahoo room complete with horse-drawn carriage bed (because, ya know, #MadonnaInnProblems), check out Buzzfeed’s ‘25 Madonna Inn rooms you have to stay in before you die’.
3. See a lava flow in Hawaii.
New Zealand has their fair share of volcanoes – over 60 in fact. So seeing a volcano – even an active one – isn’t a complete anomaly for a lot of New Zealanders. However unlike Rangitoto and Ruapehu, some of the volcanoes at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island are erupting on a daily basis, with red-hot molten lava streaming down the mountain and directly into the ocean, causing all sorts of excitement. For the truly adventurous, you can hike right up to the lava – although to do this we’d recommend you go with a highly experienced guide, as this stuff is not to be messed with. If you’d prefer to admire the spectacle from a much safer distance (which could be a bit of us), a heli-tour is probably your better bet.
4. Hike through the Painted Hills in Oregon.
The first of our Pinterest-worthy stops on this list (and definitely not the last) is the Painted Hills in Wheeler County, Oregon. The hills are one of the Seven Wonders of Oregon and get their name because of the scientific process that means the soils are constantly changing in tone and hue with varying light and moisture levels. There are plenty of hiking trails and walkways to explore, so bring your walking shoes as well as your camera phone – no filters necessary here!
5. Tuck into a down-and-dirty BBQ in Texas.
Nobody does BBQ like the Texans. One for the more gritty and resolute members of Fashion Quarterly, there is nothin’ quite like a southern BBQ, complete with pork ribs, brisket and slaw. Whether you find your joint in Austin, Dallas or Houston is completely up to you. But you haven’t really lived until you’ve tucked into a juicy rib the size of your forearm.
6. See if you can make it through Burning Man festival in one piece.
Forget Coachella, Team FQ is firmly in camp Burning Man, if for no other reason than we like the challenge of having to survive in this crazy, cashless desert landscape. Art, performance, self-sufficiency and “radical inclusion” for a week – we’re all about it. And let’s face it, the outfit opportunities are endless.
7. Wander through the casinos in Las Vegas before indulging your 90s self at Britney or Celine.
The casinos are spectacular to look at but our real bucket list tick in Las Vegas would definitely be seeing our pop heroes Britney and Celine in all their residency glory. Celine has garnered rave reviews for her show, which has been extended until 2019. However, Britney’s run is coming to an end later this year, so if you want to see ‘Piece of Me’ performed at Planet Hollywood, then book your flights soon!
8. Find that holy grail high-end vintage find in San Francisco.
Go where Sophia Amoruso went before you and hit up some of the best vintage shops in the city to seek out that holy-grail high end vintage find. We’ve read #Girlboss and we’re currently hooked on the Netflix show of the same name, so we all know the story of how Nasty Gal founder Amoruso trawled through San Francisco’s thrift stores to find gems such as Chanel jackets and Halston gowns, which she then flogged on eBay for 10 or even 100 times what she paid for them. The days of Chanel for $20 might be over, as every woman and her dog has caught on to the joys of thrifting, but for what it’s worth, San Francisco still has their fair share of excellent high end vintage boutiques and cool bohemian bargains.
9. Explore the Mendenhall Glacier Caves in Alaska
You might have seen the Mendenhall Glacier Caves on social media – they are plenty Pinterest-worthy after all. Not for the faint-of-heart, the ice caves inside the glacier can only be accessed by kayak and then an ice climb over the glacier. You’ll want to tick this off your bucket list pretty quick though – the glacier is retreating increasingly fast through global warming.
10. Snap your next Facebook profile picture in front of the Prada Marfa art installation in Texas
Cliché as it may be, this art installation appeals to us on so many levels – the fact that Miuccia Prada herself was involved in the making of it, the Gossip Girl connection via the van der Woodsen’s prominently placed artwork, and of course, the Beyonce factor. Devised by artist duo Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset in 2005, this permanent land art project is a total paradox – a customer-less shop sitting in the middle of the desert – and is modelled after a legitimate Prada boutique with a permanent display of six handbags and 14 left shoes handpicked by Miuccia from the Fall 2005 collection.
11. Drive from Miami to Key West on the mind-blowing Overseas Highway
We’ve never seen anything quite like the Overseas Highway that stretches the 182 kilometres across Florida Keys. After you’ve partied your socks off in South Beach, head towards the island city of Key West for a slice of Key lime pie at iconic local landmark Blue Heaven. As you drive along with the cool blue ocean on your left AND right, wind your windows right down to soak up the tropical sea breeze. Or better yet, hire a convertible and cruise along with the top down to really make the most of the experience.
12. Get enough Instagram snaps for a lifetime at Antelope Canyon in Arizona
Another Instagram opportunity sits within the colourful Antelope Canyon, near Page, in the north of Arizona. Located on Navajo land, you’re also just around the corner from the great Lake Powell and the magnificent Horseshoe Bend – so a visit to Page cannot come without a chopper ride over these breath-taking sights.
Fly to the USA the Kiwi way with Air New Zealand, offering 28 weekly non-stop flights. Check out more USA travel tips at usathekiwiway.co.nz
*This article is brought to you by Air New Zealand.