Go west: The great American travel bucket list

·8 min read
Rosemary beach in California has an incredible vibe. (Getty Images)
Rosemary beach in California has an incredible vibe. (Getty Images)

After more than a year of stringent restrictions between the US and the UK, transatlantic travel could soon be back on the cards. 

President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson met ahead of the G7 summit last week and agreed to work towards reopening a travel corridor between the US and the UK.

According to the secretary of state for transport Grant Shapps, the two governments are looking to set up a joint task force, in the hope of reopening a travel route between the countries, which could be welcome news to holidaymakers who have missed hopping across the pond. 

Before the outbreak of COVID-19, the UK-US air corridor was one of the busiest in the world.

More than five million people from the UK visited the US every year, with 4.5 million trips made in the reverse direction.

As it stands at the moment, most US travellers are required to quarantine for 10 days upon landing in the UK, and the US continues to prohibit UK travellers to enter as part of its wider international travel ban.

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But the thought of a potential lifting of restrictions has had many dreaming of trips to the US. 

To whet your appetite we've asked the travel experts for their pick of some of the best bucket-list spots to visit when you can...

Live like a cowboy in Fort Worth

Live like a cowboy at XX. (Getty Images)
Live like a cowboy in Fort Worth. (Getty Images)

According to Tom Bourlet, travel blogger at www.spaghettitraveller.com most US tourism is focused on the coastlines. 

"Whether it’s a scenic trip across California in the west, or embracing the magic of New York in the east, however, there are a number of incredible places to visit in the middle of the USA." 

Bourlet says Fort Worth offers the chance to live out a childhood dream and live like a real cowboy. You can stay on a ranch, learn to ride a horse and do a cattle drive, watch a rodeo and finish with a steak in the evening.

Explore Northern California

Take in an incredible sunset at the Ghost Town in XX. (Getty Images)
Take in an incredible sunset at the Ghost Town of Bodie. (Getty Images)

If you’re looking to visit the states once travel resumes, Nicky Kelvin, head of The Points Guy UK recommends exploring Northern California for some exciting but often overlooked destinations.

"There is so much to discover including the ghost town of Bodie, as well as Lake Tahoe," he says. "You could spend weeks exploring the area and still not see it all, making it the perfect place to revisit time and time again."

Embrace all the live music in Nashville

Take in the music at Nashville, Tennessee. (Getty Images)
Take in the music at Nashville, Tennessee. (Getty Images)

The home of The Kings of Leon, Taylor Swift, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson and Dave Pomeroy, Nashville has a strong connection with music, with people travelling from across the country to play in Nashville bars such as The Bluebird Café. 

"Nicknamed the ‘Music City’, every bar seems to have open mic nights, 7 days a week," says Bourlet. 

"Most importantly, Nashville isn’t a ‘dry state’ like its neighbour Tennessee, the home of Jack Daniels, meaning you can enjoy an incredibly cheap glass of JD and coke."

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Watch 1.5 million bats fly out from Congress Avenue Bridge

Crowds gather around the water to watch the bats on the XX bridge at sunset. (Getty Images)
Crowds gather around the water to watch the bats by the Congress Avenue Bridge at sunset. (Getty Images)

Every day around sunset in Austin, approximately 1 million free-tail bats fly out from under the Congress Avenue Bridge, taking around 45 minutes. 

"This spectacle normally gathers a decent sized audience, with people debating the best spot to watch the marvel, with many on the walkway to the east side of the bridge, while others get on a kayak to see it up close," explains Bourlet. 

Take in the Great Smoky Mountains

Check out the view at the Smoky Mountains National Park.(Getty Images)
Check out the view at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.(Getty Images)

Located across Tennessee and North Carolina, the Great Smoky Mountains is the most popular national park in the US and it’s no surprise why. 

"Here you can go tubing, hiking and also just enjoy the scenic views all year round," Kelvin explains. "It’s also located near to the iconic Dollywood if you’re after some theme park fun."

Red Bud Isle

The scenery is incredible at Red Bud Isle in Austin. (Getty Images)
The scenery is incredible at Red Bud Isle in Austin. (Getty Images)

According to travel blogger Bourlet, Austin’s strapline is ‘Keep Austin Weird’. 

"The closest resemblance we have in the UK is probably Brighton, with the cosmopolitan city embracing creativity in every possible aspect," he says. 

One of the supposed big ‘sights to see’ in Austin is the springs, with Barton Springs often labelled as the best, but Bourlet says he was disappointed after visiting himself due to overcrowding and rubbish-strewn water. 

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Instead he suggests visiting "hidden gem" Red Bud Isle. 

"Often labelled as an ‘off leash dog park’, this 13 acre space is far from just that," he explains. "People jumping off cliffs into the water, paddle boarders floating by and clear water with turtles swimming past, this is a breathtakingly beautiful spot in the USA that hasn’t made many travel guides yet."

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park, California is a must-do in the US. (Getty Images)
Yosemite National Park, California is a must-do in the US. (Getty Images)

"The USA is spoilt for national parks, with arguably the most famous being Yellow Stone, but I would also love to highlight Yosemite National Park for anyone visiting the West coast," Bourlet says. 

The park is 1,200 square miles with a huge number of stunning waterfalls, cascading water off the edges to the rocks below, with Yosemite Falls the highest in the whole country. 

"This is a great scenic route for a walk or a bike ride, while it’s also amazing for wildlife fans, with plenty of coyotes, raccoons, bobcats and even bears! 

"If you stay the night camping then you can look up at the clear skies without air pollution to see a star filled sky," he adds. 

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The beach at Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park is one of the most isolated coastal fortifications in the US. (Getty Images)
Dry Tortugas National Park is one of the most isolated coastal fortifications in the US. (Getty Images)

According to Travel and Leisure Dry Tortugas National Park is actually one of the country's least-visited national parks. Situated 70 miles off the shore of Key West, the beach here is only accessible by boat or plane, but the difficult journey is worth the trouble with crystal clear, blue waters and white sands greeting you on arrival at the island park.

Kelvin also recommends Florida’s Rosemary Beach for its white sand beaches and great atmosphere.

Admire the Grand Canyon

Incredible views at the Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona. (Getty Images)
Incredible views at the Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona. (Getty Images)

The Grand Canyon is a natural wonder like no other in the world. "If you have the budget, you can take a helicopter ride from Vegas over to the Grand Canyon, down to the bottom, to then try white water rafting, before getting a helicopter back to Vegas," Bourlet says.

"But if you don’t want to spend that much, taking a trek down the Grand Canyon is an unbelievable experience, but make sure to pack plenty of water as the heat can be quite intense. 

"If you’re feeling really brave, you can walk on the Grand Canyon Skywalk at Eagle Point, but I wasn’t courageous enough."

Have a beach day at Hanalei Bay, Hawaii

The beach at Hanalei Bay, Hawaii is a must-visit according to travel experts. (Getty)
The beach at Hanalei Bay, Hawaii is a must-visit according to travel experts. (Getty)

For those after something more tropical, Kelvin says he can't recommend Hawaii enough. "Hanalei Bay, located on the northern side of the island of Kauai, is home to some of the best beaches in the US," he says.

Take a trip to Las Vegas

Las Vegas should be on your US bucket-list, according to travel experts. (Getty Images)
Las Vegas should be on your US bucket-list, according to travel experts. (Getty Images)

According to Bourlet there's a lot more to Las Vegas than gambling. "Many people who haven’t visited Las Vegas have the impression that this bizarre place is purely a holiday resort built for gambling, which is an obvious aspect, but there is so much more," he says. "There are a number of incredible shows that you should book, including Cirque du Soleil, David Copperfield and the Blue Man Group. 

"If you want a free spectacle, then you can enjoy sunset by watching the water show at the Bellagio hotel, taking place every 30 minutes. 

"Las Vegas is also home to a number of Michelin star restaurants, meaning you can try some of the most incredible culinary creations in the world," he adds. 

North Fork, Suffolk County

Avoid the crowds by heading to the coast at North Fork, Suffolk County, Long Island, New York. (Getty Images)
Avoid the crowds by heading to the coast at North Fork, Suffolk County, Long Island, New York. (Getty Images)

Avoid the crowds at Long Island by heading to North Fork in Suffolk County. According to Travel and Leisure you can bike, kayak, or just have a peaceful picnic without battling for space. While the beach itself is small it will feel spacious in comparison to other more popular city beach spots.

Watch: UK and US taskforce try to thrash out the return of transatlantic travel. 

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