All set for America

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La Quinta Palm Springs

By Isabel Conway

Dreaming of a Bite of the Big Apple again, exploring historic Boston, chilling out in sunny Palm Springs, family fun in Florida, or of heading down south to Memphis home of blues, soul and Rock n’ Roll.?

It’s long overdue and none of us can wait to take a trip across the Pond. In the run up to Christmas travellers will jet off on transatlantic flights for long-awaited reunions with family and friends whilst airline and travel agent holiday bookings have exceeded all expectations for next year, so notwithstanding any wobbles we can finally shout ‘USA here we come’. Aer Lingus are adding ever more routes and so are United Airlines among our biggest carriers with plenty of bargains out there for early bookers.Boston Harbour

Hopes are high, as we write, that nothing will hamper travel to our most popular destination outside of Europe into 2022. Looking back to pre- pandemic iconic journeys across the US and those we’ve yet to take, Travel Times has rounded up some great American getaways across this vast diverse nation.

Nowhere on earth offers so much grand scale variety from its favourite cities – think New York, Los Angeles, Palm Springs Chicago, Miami – spectacular national parks and surprising road trips. Whether you relive the history of the old West, hit the bright lights of Vegas or meander through San Diego’s old Spanish quarter every visit brings something new with the WOW factor. We have lived through the most uncertain of times since March 2020. Although travel from the United States to Europe has been possible since the summer[ our entry to the US will not be totally unregulated: US authorities plan to closely monitor travellers vaccination status and will still require them to present negative COVID-19 tests.

Now the wait is finally over the USA welcomes back tourists and whether you’re hankering after an exciting city break in New York, family fun in Florida or fancy driving down California’s West coast Irish Travel company American Holidays americanholidays.com has you covered.

If you’re after an idyllic coastline and white sandy beaches, Florida ticks the boxes.  Miami is famous for its Art Deco architecture along the urban cultural hub of South Beach filled with American flavour and fun. South of Miami along the road to the Florida Keyes pristine coral reefs are found at lovely beachside stop offs offering snorkelling and scuba diving.

Thousand Islands Florida

Florida’s beautiful southwest coast is always ready to welcome visitors looking to avoid the winter chill.. Naples and Marco Island provide a perfect blend of city attractions and natural retreats, offering 30 miles of pristine, white sandy beaches, luxury shops and a thriving bar and restaurant scene. Not forgetting the Everglades, where the mainland meets the ocean, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is the perfect place to unwind in natural landscapes and reconnect with nature and wildlife. paradisecoast.com  

The USA is home to some of the world’s greatest national parks with superb landscapes and endless opportunities for adventure. National Parks have endless opportunities for activity and adventure. Explore the widest Canyons, the highest peaks, unspoiled lush green forests and  deserts. At the  Grand Canyon you’ll find your breath taken away during that first glimpse of its vastness. Visitors to the West Rim can step out on the Skywalk, a circular glass floored walkway that stretches out 70ft into the canyon and offers superb views over the canyon floor 4,000ft below you.

My favourite US national park in 2018 was an exploration of  Mesa Verde National Park, setting out from fabulous Denver, Colorado, taking in Chimney Rock in San Juan Forest and the famous gold rush town of Durango.

Even though Route 66 as we know it, from numerous movies and books, has been decommissioned, it remains an American icon and much of it is still drivable. Also called the Mother Road or America’s Highway, it crosses eight states from Chicago to Los Angeles and runs more than 2,000 miles. No wonder It is on many adventurers’ bucket lists. An American Odyssey with  award winning Tour America.ie includes all the big US holiday hitters from classic route 66 to California’s Pacific coast and more.

 

Florida’s pristine south west coast hosts countless numbers of retirees known as ‘snowbird’s, escaping a northern winter who settle at Orlando’s most beautiful combination of urban and natural retreats , avoiding neighbouring Orlando and Miami.  Naples and Marco Island provide a perfect blend of city attractions and natural retreats, offering 30 miles of pristine, white sandy beaches, luxury shops and a thriving bar and restaurant scene. Not forgetting the Everglades, where the mainland meets the ocean, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is the perfect place to unwind in natural landscapes and reconnect with nature and wildlife. paradisecoast.com  

While most destinations begin to wind down during the winter months, Greater Palm Springs is just the opposite. And while the oasis is definitely a year-round spot, there’s something truly special about visiting in winter and exploring the nine cities that make up this unique destination in the desert. One of the most obvious perks is the consistently warm weather and the opportunity to extend to outdoor activities. La Quinta Cove offers several hikes differing in difficulty and length but all promising picturesque views of the natural landscape. Shopping is also on offer in upscale boutiques on El Paseo in Palm Desert, vintage shopping in downtown Palm Springs and a 30-acre waterfront at The River in Rancho Mirage. .visitgreaterpalmsprings.com

With 70 miles of spectacular coastline and average temperatures of 17°C in December, the So Cal city of San Diego is a winter sun paradise. Those keen to try water sports will find that San Diego’s calm waters and mild temperature offers the perfect conditions for taking to the Pacific Ocean. From surfing to stand-up paddle boarding, there’s plenty of activities for all ages and abilities. On land, San Diego’s beautiful parks and thriving culinary  scene provide the ultimate escape for sun-seekers to enjoy an unforgettable, quintessentially Californian holiday. sandiego.org

Cowboy hats and saxophones at the ready, as it’s time to delve into a world of country music, blues, jazz, honky-tonks and hearty diners in Southern USA. Like music legends Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash before you, follow the neon lights to the Music City. Release your inner songwriter at a central recording studio in Nashville.

Travel Times will jet out to Memphis, home of Blues Soul & Rock ‘N ‘ Roll  early in the new year to experience live music again at the International Blues Challenge taking place on iconic Beale Street. See memphisravel.com Specialists in Deep South itineraries, road trips, and a la carte or escorted travel, platinumtravel.ie have sourced  the very  best experiences that take you through states of the Deep South.

Plymouth Plantation open air museum, New England

In our last trip across the Pond before the pandemic, Travel Times enjoyed a weeklong exploration of New England ,taking in Rode Island, Newport, Cape Cod and Boston. Stretching from  the golden sand dunes and beaches of the coast to the lush and forested Berkshire Hills, a discovery of New England has it all, from walking Boston’s Freedom trail in the footsteps of the nation’s founders to a discovery of  Maine’s unspoiled landscapes and world famous lobster. We can’t wait to return. See discovernewengland.org

 

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