A melting pot of worldwide cultures and races from the 17th century to the present day, the USA has plenty to captivate and enthrall the millions of tourists arriving every year. From vast wonderlands of pristine wilderness to mighty mountain chains, great lakes and endless beaches, through sophisticated, densely-populated cities, historic Wild West towns and isolated laid-back villages, the heritage and beauty of this land is a dream destination, with a lifetime not long enough to explore it all.
The USA is a year-round destination, with the far south and California blessed with tropical weather for lazy beach holidays, the high mountains offering winter sports and magnificent vistas and the vast national parks and wilderness areas a haven for eco-tourists. The great cities hold magnificent architecture, cultural sights, museums, events and a fast pace of life, especially in frantic New York, as well as accommodation ranging from ultra-luxurious resorts and world-famous famous hotels to little motels and guest houses in small towns and along the highways traversing the vast country.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of America is its plethora of different ethnicities, all blending together as US citizens, yet retaining and treasuring much of their original cultures. In all the major cities, visitors will find a Chinatown, a Little Italy, a Greek or Puerto Rican community and many other areas where people of the same heritage gather together, sharing their experiences with other communities a few blocks away. Americans are some of the most open, friendly and helpful people on the planet.
As with most countries, the USA is a safe destination on the whole, although some major industrial cities have run-down areas best avoided after dark. Risks to health are minimal, although care should be taken in rural areas as the country has more than its share of poisonous snakes and other less than friendly critters. If you’re in the Great Plains area known as Tornado Alley or in the hills of California, weather and wildfires respectively could mess with your holiday plans if you’re unlucky.
Visitors entering the US from any of the 36 countries, including Australia, New Zealand and most member states of the European Union, in the Visa Waiver Programme can stay for 90 days, but must now receive Electronic System for Travel authorisation online at least 72 hours before their travel date. Visitors from other countries will need to apply for a visa at their nearest US Embassy or Consulate.