In other parts of the world, it’s very common to know multiple languages, but in America most people only know English.
A distant second language spoken in the US is Spanish, and that’s mostly found in big urban areas. We suspect if you’re reading this, you know English pretty well, so don’t sweat it.
ATMs are easy to find here, found often at convenience stores and gas stations, but often charge you a service fee. Tipping is customary in the US for many things, like cabs and especially sit-down food service.
A general rule is that you pay between 15-20% of your total bill to the waiter, and remember that they rely on tips for their wages.
The to-go model is built into meals like breakfast and lunch, with dinner being a more sit-down experience at restaurants. Across the board, meal portions are huge, so if you’re a tiny eater you might want to consider splitting an order with a friend.
American cuisine is as wildly diverse as its population. Immigrants brought favorite foods with them to the US, and many stuck as favorite dishes.
The USA is pretty uniform across the entire thing when it comes to that, so one adapter will be all you need. Free Wi-Fi in the US is pretty much only in chain fast food places and coffee shops, so remember that if you want to check e-mail or something without using up data.
You’ll probably be doing a lot of driving if you’re outside a major city, too; plan to use a GPS app.
America is also a huge sports culture, but not too many people follow “football” there. Instead, they’re devoted to American football, basketball, hockey or their old past time baseball.
In terms of conversation, people you have just met usually will talk about anything except religion and politics, and it is seen as a bit awkward to bring up controversial topics with people not close to you personally.
It’s your home away from home with free museums and America’s front yard. Plan your trip to the nation’s capital by checking out all the things to do, places to eat and ways to stay. We’ll see you soon.
Founded on July 16, 1790, Washington, DC is unique among American cities because it was established by the Constitution of the United States to serve as the nation’s capital. You can read the actual line at the National Archives. From its beginning, it has been embroiled in political maneuvering, sectional conflicts and issues of race, national identity, compromise and, of course, power.
President George Washington chose the exact site along the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers, and the city was officially founded in 1790 after both Maryland and Virginia ceded land to this new “district,” to be distinct and distinguished from the rest of the states. To design the city, he appointed Pierre Charles L’Enfant, who presented a vision for a bold, modern city featuring grand boulevards (now the streets named for states) and ceremonial spaces reminiscent of another great world capital, L’Enfant’s native Paris. He planned a grid system, at which the center would be the Capitol building.
Even before coming of age, DC was nearly completely destroyed. During the War of 1812 against Great Britain, enemy forces invaded the city and burned much of it to the ground, including the newly completed White House, the Capitol and the Library of Congress (including all of its books). Thomas Jefferson later replenished the library’s collection by selling off his entire library for $23,950 in 1815.
After the devastation, the city remained small, especially in terms of permanent residents. Soon it would become smaller in physical size as well. In 1847, the portion of the city that had originally belonged to Virginia was retroceded, after the voters of Alexandria elected to leave DC, feeling that they had been left out of development on the other side of the river. You can still see some surviving, original markers for the District today.
The city only increased in size as a result of the Civil War. Slaves owned in Washington were emancipated on April 16, 1862, nine months before the Emancipation Proclamation, and it therefore became a hub for freed slaves.
After, it remained a home to a significant and vibrant African American population, which included abolitionist Frederick Douglass. A substantial army was set up just to protect the capital during the war, and the federal government grew around this administration.
New York is the most ethnically diverse, religiously varied, commercially driven, famously congested, and, in the eyes of many, the most attractive urban centre in the country.
No other city has contributed more images to the collective consciousness of Americans: Wall Street means finance, Broadway is synonymous with theatre, Fifth Avenue is automatically paired with shopping, Madison Avenue means the advertising industry, Greenwich Village connotes bohemian lifestyles, Seventh Avenue signifies fashion, Tammany Hall defines machine politics, and Harlem evokes images of the Jazz Age, African American aspirations, and slums.
The word tenement brings to mind both the miseries of urban life and the upward mobility of striving immigrant masses. New York has more Jews than Tel Aviv, more Irish than Dublin, more Italians than Naples, and more Puerto Ricans than San Juan. Its symbol is the Statue of Liberty, but the metropolis is itself an icon, the arena in which Emma Lazarus’s “tempest-tost” people of every nation are transformed into Americans—and if they remain in the city, they become New Yorkers.
estimated 744,955 residents as of 2018, Seattle is the largest city in both the state of Washington and the Pacific Northwest region of North America. According to U.S. Census data released in 2018, the Seattle metropolitan area’s population stands at 3.94 million, and ranks as the 15th-largest in the United States. In July 2013, it was the fastest-growing major city in the United States and remained in the top 5 in May 2015 with an annual growth rate of 2.1%. In July 2016, Seattle was again the fastest-growing major U.S. city, with a 3.1% annual growth rate. Seattle is the northernmost large city in the United States.
The city is situated on an isthmus between Puget Sound (an inlet of the Pacific Ocean) and Lake Washington, about 100 miles (160 km) south of the Canada–United States border. A major gateway for trade with Asia, Seattle is the fourth-largest port in North America in terms of container handling as of 2015.
The Seattle area was inhabited by Native Americans for at least 4,000 years before the first permanent European settlers. Arthur A. Denny and his group of travelers, subsequently known as the Denny Party, arrived from Illinois via Portland, Oregon, on the schooner Exact at Alki Point on November 13, 1851.
The settlement was moved to the eastern shore of Elliott Bay and named “Seattle” in 1852, in honor of Chief Si’ahl of the local Duwamish and Suquamish tribes. Today, Seattle has high populations of Native, Scandinavian, Asian American, African American, as well as a thriving LGBT community that ranks 6th in the United States for population.
Logging was Seattle’s first major industry, but by the late 19th century, the city had become a commercial and shipbuilding center as a gateway to Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush. Growth after World War II was partially due to the local Boeing company, which established Seattle as a center for aircraft manufacturing.
The Seattle area developed into a technology center from the 1980s onwards with companies like Microsoft becoming established in the region; Microsoft founder Bill Gates is a Seattleite by birth. Internet retailer Amazon was founded in Seattle in 1994, and major airline Alaska Airlines is based in SeaTac, Washington, serving Seattle’s international airport, Seattle–Tacoma International Airport. The stream of new software, biotechnology, and Internet companies led to an economic revival, which increased the city’s population by almost 50,000 between 1990 and 2000.
Owing largely to its rapidly increasing population in the 21st century, Seattle and the state of Washington have some of the highest minimum wages in the country, at $15 per hour for smaller businesses and $16 for the city’s largest employers.
Seattle has a noteworthy musical history. From 1918 to 1951, nearly two dozen jazz nightclubs existed along Jackson Street, from the current Chinatown/International District to the Central District. The jazz scene nurtured the early careers of Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, Ernestine Anderson, and others. Seattle is also the birthplace of rock musician Jimi Hendrix, as well as the origin of the bands Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Foo Fighters and the alternative rock movement grunge.
L.A., is the largest city in the U.S. state of California. With an estimated population of nearly four million people, it is the country’s second most populous city (after New York City) and the third most populous city in North America (after Mexico City and New York City). Los Angeles is known for its Mediterranean climate, ethnic diversity, Hollywood entertainment industry, and its sprawling metropolis.
Los Angeles lies in a basin in Southern California, adjacent to the Pacific Ocean, with mountains as high as 10,000 feet (3,000 m), and deserts. The city, which covers about 469 square miles (1,210 km2), is the seat of Los Angeles County, the most populous county in the United States.
The Los Angeles metropolitan area (MSA) is home to 13.1 million people, making it the second-largest metropolitan area in the nation after New York. Greater Los Angeles includes metro Los Angeles as well as the Inland Empire and Ventura County. It is the second most populous U.S. combined statistical area, also after New York, with a 2015 estimate of 18.7 million people.
Home to the Chumash and Tongva, Los Angeles was claimed by Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo for Spain in 1542. The city was founded on September 4, 1781, by Spanish governor Felipe de Neve. It became a part of Mexico in 1821 following the Mexican War of Independence. In 1848, at the end of the Mexican–American War, Los Angeles and the rest of California were purchased as part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and thus became part of the United States.
Los Angeles was incorporated as a municipality on April 4, 1850, five months before California achieved statehood. The discovery of oil in the 1890s brought rapid growth to the city. The city was further expanded with the completion of the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1913, which delivers water from Eastern California.
Los Angeles has a diverse economy and hosts businesses in a broad range of professional and cultural fields. It also has the busiest container port in the entire Americas. A global city, it has been ranked 6th in the Global Cities Index and 9th in the Global Economic Power Index.
The Los Angeles metropolitan area also has a gross metropolitan product of $1.0 trillion (as of 2017), making it the third-largest city by GDP in the world, after the Tokyo and New York City metropolitan areas. Los Angeles hosted the 1932 and 1984 Summer Olympics and will host the 2028 Summer Olympics.
Davidson County and is located on the Cumberland River. It is the 24th most-populous city in the United States.
Named for Francis Nash, a general of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, the city was founded in 1779.
The city grew quickly due to its strategic location as a port on the Cumberland River and, in the 19th century, a railroad center. Nashville seceded with Tennessee during the American Civil War; in 1862 it was the first state capital in the Confederacy to fall to Union troops. After the war, the city reclaimed its position and developed a manufacturing base.
Since 1963, Nashville has had a consolidated city-county government, which includes six smaller municipalities in a two-tier system. The city is governed by a mayor, a vice-mayor, and a 40-member metropolitan council; 35 of the members are elected from single-member districts, while the other five are elected at-large. Reflecting the city’s position in state government, Nashville is home to the Tennessee Supreme Court’s courthouse for Middle Tennessee, one of the three divisions.
A major center for the music industry, especially country music, Nashville is commonly known as “Music City.” It is also home to numerous colleges and universities, including Tennessee State University, Vanderbilt University, Belmont University, Fisk University, Trevecca Nazarene University, and Lipscomb University, and is sometimes referred to as “Athens of the South” due to the large number of educational institutions.
Nashville is also a major center for the healthcare, publishing, private prison, banking, automotive, and transportation industries. Entities with headquarters in the city include Asurion, Bridgestone Americas, Captain D’s, CoreCivic, Dollar General, Hospital Corporation of America, LifeWay Christian Resources, Logan’s Roadhouse, and Ryman Hospitality Properties.
Bounded on the southeast by Sierra National Forest and on the northwest by Stanislaus National Forest. The park is managed by the National Park Service and covers an area of 748,436 acres (1,169 sq mi; 3,029 km2) and sits in four counties: centered in Tuolumne and Mariposa, extending north and east to Mono and south to Madera County.
Designated a World Heritage site in 1984, Yosemite is internationally recognized for its granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, giant sequoia groves, lakes, mountains, meadows, glaciers, and biological diversity. Almost 95% of the park is designated wilderness.
On average, about four million people visit Yosemite each year, and most spend the majority of their time in the seven square miles (18 km2) of Yosemite Valley. The park set a visitation record in 2016, surpassing five million visitors for the first time in its history. Yosemite was central to the development of the national park idea.
Galen Clark and others lobbied to protect Yosemite Valley from development, ultimately leading to President Abraham Lincoln’s signing the Yosemite Grant in 1864. John Muir led a successful movement to have Congress establish a larger national park by 1890, one which encompassed the valley and its surrounding mountains and forests, paving the way for the National Park System.
Yosemite is one of the largest and least fragmented habitat blocks in the Sierra Nevada, and the park supports a diversity of plants and animals. The park has an elevation range from 2,127 to 13,114 feet (648 to 3,997 m) and contains five major vegetation zones: chaparral and oak woodland, lower montane forest, upper montane forest, subalpine zone, and alpine. Of California’s 7,000 plant species, about 50% occur in the Sierra Nevada and more than 20% are within Yosemite.
The park contains suitable habitat for more than 160 rare plants, with rare local geologic formations and unique soils characterizing the restricted ranges many of these plants occupy.
The geology of the Yosemite area is characterized by granitic rocks and remnants of older rock. About 10 million years ago, the Sierra Nevada was uplifted and then tilted to form its relatively gentle western slopes and the more dramatic eastern slopes. The uplift increased the steepness of stream and river beds, resulting in the formation of deep, narrow canyons.
About one million years ago, snow and ice accumulated, forming glaciers at the higher alpine meadows that moved down the river valleys. Ice thickness in Yosemite Valley may have reached 4,000 feet (1,200 m) during the early glacial episode. The downslope movement of the ice masses cut and sculpted the U-shaped valley that attracts so many visitors to its scenic vistas today.
The name “Yosemite” (meaning “killer” in Miwok) originally referred to the name of a tribe which was driven out of the area (and possibly annihilated) by the Mariposa Battalion. Previously, the area had been called “Ahwahnee” (“big mouth”) by indigenous people.
Treated in Taxodiaceae). Common names include coast redwood, coastal redwood and California redwood. It is an evergreen, long-lived, monoecious tree living 1,200–1,800 years or more. This species includes the tallest living trees on Earth, reaching up to 379 feet (115.5 m) in height (without the roots) and up to 29.2 feet (8.9 m) in diameter at breast height .
These trees are also among the oldest living things on Earth. Before commercial logging and clearing began by the 1850s, this massive tree occurred naturally in an estimated 2,100,000 acres (850,000 ha) along much of coastal California (excluding southern California where rainfall is not sufficient) and the southwestern corner of coastal Oregon within the United States.
The name sequoia sometimes refers to the subfamily Sequoioideae, which includes S. sempervirens along with Sequoiadendron (giant sequoia) and Metasequoia (dawn redwood). Here, the term redwood on its own refers to the species covered in this article, and not to the other two species.
The coast redwood can reach 115 m (377 ft) tall with a trunk diameter of 9 m (30 ft). It has a conical crown, with horizontal to slightly drooping branches. The bark can be very thick, up to 1-foot (30 cm), and quite soft and fibrous, with a bright red-brown color when freshly exposed (hence the name redwood), weathering darker. The root system is composed of shallow, wide-spreading lateral roots.
The leaves are variable, being 15–25 mm (5⁄8–1 in) long and flat on young trees and shaded lower branches in older trees. The leaves are scale-like, 5–10 mm (1⁄4–3⁄8 in) long on shoots in full sun in the upper crown of older trees, with a full range of transition between the two extremes. They are dark green above and have two blue-white stomatal bands below. Leaf arrangement is spiral, but the larger shade leaves are twisted at the base to lie in a flat plane for maximum light capture.
The species is monoecious, with pollen and seed cones on the same plant. The seed cones are ovoid, 15–32 mm (9⁄16–1 1⁄4 in) long, with 15–25 spirally arranged scales; pollination is in late winter with maturation about 8–9 months after. Each cone scale bears three to seven seeds, each seed 3–4 mm (1⁄8–3⁄16 in) long and 0.5 mm (0.02 in) broad, with two wings 1 mm (0.04 in) wide. The seeds are released when the cone scales dry out and open at maturity. The pollen cones are ovular and 4–6 mm (3⁄16–1⁄4 in) long.
Its genetic makeup is unusual among conifers, being a hexaploid and possibly allopolyploid (AAAABB). Both the mitochondrial and chloroplast genomes of the redwood are paternally inherited.
and Confederate forces during the American Civil War. The battle involved the largest number of casualties of the entire war and is often described as the war’s turning point. Union Maj. Gen. George Meade’s Army of the Potomac defeated attacks by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, halting Lee’s invasion of the North.
After his success at Chancellorsville in Virginia in May 1863, Lee led his army through the Shenandoah Valley to begin his second invasion of the North—the Gettysburg Campaign. With his army in high spirits, Lee intended to shift the focus of the summer campaign from war-ravaged northern Virginia and hoped to influence Northern politicians to give up their prosecution of the war by penetrating as far as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, or even Philadelphia. Prodded by President Abraham Lincoln, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker moved his army in pursuit, but was relieved of command just three days before the battle and replaced by Meade.
Elements of the two armies initially collided at Gettysburg on July 1, 1863, as Lee urgently concentrated his forces there, his objective being to engage the Union army and destroy it. Low ridges to the northwest of town were defended initially by a Union cavalry division under Brig. Gen. John Buford, and soon reinforced with two corps of Union infantry.
However, two large Confederate corps assaulted them from the northwest and north, collapsing the hastily developed Union lines, sending the defenders retreating through the streets of the town to the hills just to the south.
On the second day of battle, most of both armies had assembled. The Union line was laid out in a defensive formation resembling a fishhook. In the late afternoon of July 2, Lee launched a heavy assault on the Union left flank, and fierce fighting raged at Little Round Top, the Wheatfield, Devil’s Den, and the Peach Orchard.
On the Union right, Confederate demonstrations escalated into full-scale assaults on Culp’s Hill and Cemetery Hill. All across the battlefield, despite significant losses, the Union defenders held their lines.
On the third day of battle, fighting resumed on Culp’s Hill, and cavalry battles raged to the east and south, but the main event was a dramatic infantry assault by 12,500 Confederates against the center of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge, known as Pickett’s Charge. The charge was repulsed by Union rifle and artillery fire, at great loss to the Confederate army.
Lee led his army on a torturous retreat back to Virginia. Between 46,000 and 51,000 soldiers from both armies were casualties in the three-day battle, the most costly in US history.
On November 19, President Lincoln used the dedication ceremony for the Gettysburg National Cemetery to honor the fallen Union soldiers and redefine the purpose of the war in his historic Gettysburg Address.
United States. The Grand Canyon is 277 miles (446 km) long, up to 18 miles (29 km) wide and attains a depth of over a mile (6,093 feet or 1,857 meters).
The canyon and adjacent rim are contained within Grand Canyon National Park, the Kaibab National Forest, Grand Canyon–Parashant National Monument, the Hualapai Indian Reservation, the Havasupai Indian Reservation and the Navajo Nation. President Theodore Roosevelt was a major proponent of preservation of the Grand Canyon area and visited it on numerous occasions to hunt and enjoy the scenery.
Nearly two billion years of Earth’s geological history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut their channels through layer after layer of rock while the Colorado Plateau was uplifted.
While some aspects about the history of incision of the canyon are debated by geologists, several recent studies support the hypothesis that the Colorado River established its course through the area about 5 to 6 million years ago. Since that time, the Colorado River has driven the down-cutting of the tributaries and retreat of the cliffs, simultaneously deepening and widening the canyon.
For thousands of years, the area has been continuously inhabited by Native Americans, who built settlements within the canyon and its many caves. The Pueblo people considered the Grand Canyon a holy site, and made pilgrimages to it. The first European known to have viewed the Grand Canyon was García López de Cárdenas from Spain, who arrived in 1540.
Families/High-adventurers/Leisurely travelers can hike/bike/tour/explore southern Utah’s unending fins/buttes/hoodoos/canyons. Raft the Colorado River, walk the earth’s seams or watch the sunset through a hole in a mountain.
Choose your own adventure, literally from A to Z. Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, Zion: Five sculptural interpretations of the Colorado Plateau, cut with a big, slow chisel.
38˚ North on the Utah Map
Something good happened a while back at 38˚ north latitude. All five of the national parks in Utah are within a sandstone’s throw of it — in fact, you could drive through them all in a single overstimulated afternoon. (You could, but you shouldn’t. That’d be like sprinting through the Louvre.)
Over 150 million years the soft-ish stone sediments in these five spots relented in weird, beautiful ways, cutting open a color spectrum of reds, pinks, yellows, grays and whites, all dappled with green. It’s called the Grand Staircase, but you could think of it as a peeling painting, a dozen layers on display from Bryce to the Grand Canyon.
A California Condor Beds in Zion
That’s not only true (they’re not extinct after all!), it’s a helpful mnemonic for remembering the Utah national parks from east to west:
The Holey Land (See: Delicate Arch, Landscape Arch, Fiery Furnace)
The slow work of merciless rivers (See: Grand View Point, Horseshoe Canyon, how tough you are)
Capitol Reef →
A snag in the earth’s crust, 100 miles long (See: Waterpocket Fold, historic Fruita)
Bryce Canyon →
Sometimes-snowy erosions, elevated (See: Navajo Loop, Fairyland Point/Loop)
The oldest, the most visited (See: Subway, Angels Landing, your life flash before your eyes)
Museums of Ancient Art
Michelangelo wasn’t bad; Rembrandt made nice pictures; and Kahlo had some interesting ideas; but the Earth’s greatest masterpieces weren’t made by human hands. And they’re all in southern Utah.
It’s a reddish-orangey-pink swath of a United State that’s eroded in audacious ways. New York’s got the Museum of Modern Art; Utah has FIVE museums of ancient art. Climb through a hole punched in a mountain, hike through a slot canyon, kayak the Colorado River and explore Bryce Canyon’s rock opera. It’s art appreciation… in hiking boots.