The challenge of exploring such a vast country is daunting for the open minded, particularly with the sprawling network of interstates, highways, deserted roads and a comprehensive domestic flight service. Giving such an exploration a theme is a great idea, and sticking to the coasts round the United States is one such theme to create a fantastic trip. Here is a selection of Ten US Coastal Cities for your adventurous mind…..
Capital of the state of Massachusetts, Boston is inherently tied to the colonial and founding history of the United States. Many come here for this historical depth and intrigue, walking the Freedom Trail that takes in historic sites in the city, touring Breweries, enjoying outdoor areas such as Boston Common or learning about the movement to abolish the slave trade at the African Meeting House.
There’s also nearby Cambridge, which is home to world renowned educational institutes including Harvard and MIT, with many restaurants and local bars. Both Cambridge and Boston have a lively bar scene that is underpinned by the student scene. Also, if you’re a foodie don’t forget to try New England Clam Chowder.
As a key immigration hub throughout US history, New York is an aged master in the arts of greeting and amazing. Whether you approach Manhattan across a bridge with the skyline looming out of the distance, or from the depths of the subway into the shadows of a skyscraper, the scale and pace of the city is going to hit you straight away. Traditional land marks including the Empire State Building and the Rockefeller, as well as characteristic neighbourhoods such as the Meat Packer District, the Village and Little Italy, or the surprising open space of Central Park, make it impossible to get everything done in one visit.
Also, don’t forget to explore the 4 other boroughs of New York including Brooklyn or the often overshadowed Staten Island.
A famous Southern Belle, Savannah combines traditional Southern Charm through the many historical mansions, plantations, squares and cemeteries with a strange quirkiness in the lively bars and thriving haunted ghost tours. The student presence keeps the bar scene lively and it is certainly known as a town that likes a drink, there is a Southern focus on food with crab cakes being a particular favourite, and for the cultured it has an impressive historic district famous throughout America.
Tropical Miami with its white sand, clear blue sea, beautiful people and Cuban influences has long been a trendy and stylish place to visit. Scene of many famous films including Scarface and Miami Vice, visitors enjoy the Art Deco buildings, luxury marinas and pulsating South Beach. If you’re interested in seeing how the privileged few live, take a drive around Star Island home to impressive Mansions and celebrities. Alternatively take to the streets in their roller skates along Ocean Drive or get involved with a Volley Ball game on Miami Beach.
As a city with a thriving tourist industry before the devastating hurricane Katrina, oddly this now simply serves as an additional reason to visit. The waterline of the flood can still be seen on many buildings throughout the city, and devastation is still all too obvious in 9^th Ward. However, life goes on and nowhere more so than the French District, with a certain red light nature about it as well as live music (particularly jazz), traditional architecture and many local delicacies (Creole) and drink specialities, including the aptly named Hurricane. Much of the city is testament to the unique blend of African-American and French influence.
Not just famous for being the setting for the popular Anchorman Film, but make sure you don’t miss the San Diego Zoo which was the location for the final scene. As well as the zoo, the impressive San Diego Bay with the sweeping Coronado Bridge is the perfect setting for a city on the Southern Californian coast, with many stunning beaches on Coronado Peninsula and plenty of surfing opportunities. The Gas lamp district is the location of the main restaurant and bar scene, as well as many shops. Balboa Park, as well as the Zoo, is home to museums and an impressive expanse of outdoor space, all of which makes this deceptively large American City surprisingly walk able.
Home to Hollywood and the Walk of Fame, as well as the LA dodgers and Venice Beach, visitors find themselves struggling to see it all across an incredibly vast and congested city. Mulholland Drive probably never has a movie camera free day, Muscle Beach is unique for spotting strange adaptations of the human form and you won’t run out of boutiques on Rodeo Drive.
California is a place where many of America’s rich and wealthy call home, and Santa Barbara plays its fair share in this. It is a brilliant example of Californian coastal paradise, with white sandy beaches and palm trees, wharfs and a harbour, and coves tucked away from the masses. Fitting into the Californian theme there are various wineries and golf courses, as well as beautiful Mediterranean architecture. State Street is the main street from the beach to downtown, lined with shops, or if you’re looking for history head to the Santa Barbara Mission, set up in the 18^th century by Spanish Franciscans.
Home to many stereotypes and preconceptions, all of which revolve around San Francisco’s incredibly tolerant, colourful and welcoming vibe. Set in a stunning bay area, with one of the most impressive bridges in the world (Golden Gate Bridge) and architecture that rivals the picturesque bay and undulating hilly landscape, this is a city that doesn’t need stand-out tourist attractions to draw you in, yet has more than its fair share.
Explore Fisherman’s Wharf and onto Alcatraz, or head over the bridge to the quiet and peaceful town and marina of Sausalito. Staying in the city opens up a trip to China Town, the curving Lombard Street or a ride on the famous San Francisco Cable Cars.
Seattle has a reputation for being rainy, although summer is not as bad as its reputation has it, but the offshoot of this is that Seattle is a very green and attractive city. Although not located directly on the coast, it is on the shores of the large Puget Sound Harbour.
It’s also full of landmarks, so if you’re in a particularly touristy mood then you can tick off such attractions as the Space Needle Tower, the original Starbucks and Pike Place Market, famous for its fish as well as the many shops and stalls. If you’re an active traveller, then Seattle offers excellent outdoor sports including hiking, fishing, mountain biking and boating.
Matt is a travel blogger and fan of the possibilities of the open road and no deadlines. The next adventure will be an island hopping trip beginning with his Maldives holidays with Hayes & Jarvis