20 April 2017
North America covers a huge area, with Canada, the United States of America and Mexico all sitting within this vast continent. And there are so many incredible destinations and diverse landscapes to explore, from deserts to beaches, mountains to national parks.
With so many destinations to add to your travel wish list, where do you start? To inspire your travels, we’ve chosen five breathtaking spots to begin your journey through North America.
The charming city of Boston is a delightful fusion of historic and modern architecture and culture, steeped in literature, politics and education. One of the oldest cities in the USA, Boston has a laid-back atmosphere, with a buzzing restaurant scene, lots of outdoor activities, and plenty of cultural spots to explore, from libraries to art galleries to heritage trails.
Heading there with your family? Children-friendly activities include the New England Aquarium, numerous parks and gardens, indoor playgrounds, and fun history tours. Don’t miss a trip to Fenway Park to catch the Red Sox play baseball!
Boston is also a hub for adventures in New England, and it’s easy to explore Maine, Vermont, Connecticut and Rhode Island from here. Wander the tree-lined boulevards and parks of one of America’s oldest cities, then head away from Boston to relax in charming Cape Cod, with mouthwatering seafood, whale watching trips and unspoilt beaches.
With glorious weather and a relaxed feel, San Diego is a fun-filled blend of beaches, museums, a world-famous zoo, and the historic, downtown Gaslamp Quarter.
San Diego has 70 miles of coastline and they sum up the Californian seaside lifestyle of surfing, swimming, and jogging. Head to exquisite La Jolla for boutiques, gourmet restaurants, and picture-perfect coves. Walk along all 1,971 feet of Ocean Beach Pier in San Diego and watch the fishermen as they cast off into the sparkling blue waters of the Pacific Ocean.
Balboa Park houses more than 17 museums, with museums from the San Diego Air & Space Museum to the San Diego Art Institute, so it’s perfect for culture-lovers and restless little ones who need entertaining. And at the world-renowned San Diego Zoo, you can see giant pandas – as well as more than 3,700 other animals!
Don’t miss strolling through the compact, historic Gaslamp Quarter. It’s a delight of buildings from the 1860s, with wrought-iron street lamps and pastel hued architecture now housing jazz bars, cafes, restaurants and shops. Travel Counsellor Lani agrees the downtown area is well worth exploring: "Whilst San Diego has lots attractions outside of the city centre like Sea World and the Safari Park, to me what makes San Diego worth a visit is the downtown district. Right on the gorgeous waterfront with an amazing range of accommodation, you can easily do it all on foot, you don’t need the hassle of a car."
A dazzling mix of jazz music, the Mississippi River, and 18th century French architecture, New Orleans is a fascinating city. And it's easy to fall in love with this vibrant southern city, as Travel Counsellor Ian said, "the big easy stole my heart! The city has so much about it that cannot really be accurately conveyed in mere words, it has a certain magic that cannot be quantified, and I would implore you to visit there to understand why for yourself."
A few things to see and do while you’re here? Explore the historic, bustling French Quarter, an area established by the French military in the 1700s and later taken over by the Spanish. Taste the mouthwatering Creole dishes that combine French, Spanish, Caribbean and African flavours with the hearty cooking of America’s Deep South. Sail the vast waters of the Mississippi River in a beautiful steamboat. And listen to jazz music. The New Orleans Mardi Gras festival might be the biggest in the USA but jazz fans can listen to jazz night and day at the Jazz Fest, an annual jazz and heritage festival held in May.
Yucatan Peninsula and Riviera Maya, Mexico
You’ll find some of the best beaches on Mexico’s Caribbean coast – picture sparkling, bright blue sea and picture-perfect sandy beaches – but this huge country offers travellers much, much more than its beaches.
Visit Mayan ruins overlooking the sea in Tulum, explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of biosphere reserve Sian Ka'an, and don’t miss the incredible aquatic parks, Xel-Ha and Xcaret.
Many of the ruins and parks can be explored on a day trip, as can the islands of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres. Cozumel is a renowned scuba diving and snorkelling location, with a fascinating reef, the Mesoamerican Reef, which, at a 13 miles in length, is the world’s second largest great reef (The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is the largest).
Isla Mujeres, meanwhile, is a tiny, 5-mile long island just moments from Cancun. A tranquil slice of paradise that seems worlds away from the fast pace of Cancun, the main mode of transport on Isla Mujeres is the golf cart!
A cosmopolitan city with mountains, the glistening Pacific, and sprawling parks, it’s not surprising that Vancouver ranks as one of the world’s most liveable cities.
A holiday here will delight everyone from culture connoisseurs to history buffs to adventure seekers, and there’s plenty to occupy little ones, too. Travel Counsellor Susan visited Vancouver before heading to Las Vegas and said Vancouver is as picturesque as it gets: "We hired bikes, took an incredible seaplane ride, shopped, took a day trip to Whistler and enjoyed lovely evenings in waterside restaurants taking in the stunning views. Vancouver is a cosmopolitan, safe and vibrant city, and the gateway to the Rockies and a huge array of wildlife. It’s also easy to combine with California, Las Vegas, Chicago or New York."
Our must-do Vancouver list includes the 1,000-acre Stanley Park (main image, top), the Vancouver Art Gallery and Museum of Anthropology, Granville Island with its market, and Gastown, home to Victorian architecture and cobbled streets.
Heading to Vancouver in winter? Hop over to Grouse Mountain for a spot of skiing. It’s a mere 15-minute drive from Vancouver’s north shore.
Wondering where else to visit in North America? Discover the state of California with our article on 31 things to do in California and hear from Travel Counsellor Ruth as she explains why she loves Canada in winter.
And, get in touch with your Travel Counsellor to plan your tailor-made adventure through Mexico, Canada and the USA.