Best US states to visit for scenery, wildlife, food and more

America has always been a popular holiday destination for English-speaking travellers, with 52 varied states to explore. Whether spending time in fast-paced cities, relaxing on sandy beaches or diving into a star-spangled celebration of American culture, the choice of bucket-list activities seems endless.

Even though times are challenging, looking ahead, there’s a general sense of optimism in future travel. Kerry Golds, managing director of tour operator Abercrombie & Kent, says there has been an uptick in inquiries for US holidays.

“Arguably the most well-known country on earth, the USA is abundant with once-in-a-lifetime sights,” says Ms Golds. “We’ve seen a boost in inquiries overall with vaccine confidence, but one country that stands out is the USA.”

Seeking some inspiration? Here are a few suggestions to spark a sense of stateside wanderlust.

Read: Discover America from the air

Best for scenery: Utah

With five national parks, 44 state parks and six national forests, Utah is one big, mountainous playground, where adventures unfold against epic backdrops. Visit Arches National Park, home to more than 2000 naturally formed sandstone arches and towers; marvel at the deep canyons of Canyonlands National Park; and explore the red desert of Capitol Reef National Park. Filmed on location in the state, classic movie Thelma & Louise celebrated its 30th anniversary this year – providing even more reason to go.

Best for wildlife: Alaska

Few roads connect the glaciers and Arctic tundra of Alaska, America’s wildest state. From June to October, it’s one of the best places to view brown bears as they hunt for salmon and parade along rivers with young cubs. Kodiak Island is home to a high-density population of extra-large animals, which thrive in the 1.9-million-acre Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, one of the most productive watersheds in the world. Study the bears from viewing platforms or make more intimate observations from hides.

Read: Eight reasons to visit Alaska

Best for food: San Francisco

In a land of super-sized portions and endless variety, food can shape a journey across the States. Famous for its gourmet restaurant scene, San Francisco has more than 5000 restaurants and cafes – more per capita than any other major city in the US. Vice-President Kamala Harris is a fan of the SOMA district, an area dotted with food trucks and late-night diners. In between meals, tourists can explore the Golden Gate Bridge, hang out in hippy district Haight-Ashbury, or trundle uphill on original 19th century cable cars to admire the city’s giddy views.

Best for a road trip: Route 66

With big roads and plenty of possibility, America is best explored on a road trip. Arguably the most iconic four-wheel journey in the world, Route 66 slices through the country’s cultural heartland. Starting in Chicago, travel through Oklahoma, St Louis, Amarillo and Albuquerque, stopping to see the Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest national parks. Ending up in LA, the full trip clocks up more than 2000 miles.

Best for urban adventures: New York and Las Vegas

The stars of multiple blockbuster movies, New York and Las Vegas have eternal A-list appeal. Take a trip to the Big Apple for shopping at one-of-a-kind boutiques in the East Village, catching a theatre show on Broadway or simply wandering through Manhattan’s maze of skyscrapers. Twin with a stay in Las Vegas for glitz, glamour and fun, where 24-hour casinos and non-stop neon blur the boundaries between day and night.

Read: New York’s newest park

Best for wine lovers: California

California is regarded as the largest and most important wine region in North America, thanks to its complex topography and climate. Vintages grace menus across the globe, but sampled at source, they taste even better. Discover Napa Valley’s vineyards on a private guided tour, learn how to expertly pair dishes with wines on a cooking class at Peju Vineyards, and cycle between tastings on a tour of Sonoma Valley. Finish the trip off with a hike below the towering trees soaring from the Armstrong Redwoods Reserve.

Is the US on your travel radar? Please tell us which US state you would most like to visit in the comments section below.

– With PA

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Written by Sarah Marshall