The great American experience is about so many things: bluegrass and beaches, snow-covered peaks and redwood forests, restaurant-loving cities and big open skies.
On the Road Again
This is a country of road trips and great open skies, where four million miles of highways lead past red-rock deserts, below towering mountain peaks, and across fertile wheat fields that roll off toward the horizon. The sun-bleached hillsides of the Great Plains, the lush rainforests of the Pacific Northwest and the scenic country lanes of New England are a few fine starting points for the great American road trip.
Bright Lights, Big Cities
America is the birthplace of LA, Las Vegas, Chicago, Miami, Boston and New York City – each a brimming metropolis whose name alone conjures a million different notions of culture, cuisine and entertainment. Look more closely, and the American quilt unfurls in all its surprising variety: the eclectic music scene of Austin, the easygoing charms of antebellum Savannah, the eco-consciousness of free-spirited Portland, the magnificent waterfront of San Francisco and the captivating French Quarter of jazz-loving New Orleans.
On one evening in the US, thick barbecue ribs and smoked brisket come piping hot at a Texas roadhouse, while talented chefs blend organic produce with Asian accents at award-winning West Coast restaurants. Locals get their fix of bagels and lox at a century-old deli in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, and several states away, plump pancakes and fried eggs disappear under the clatter of cutlery at a 1950s-style diner. Steaming plates of fresh lobster served off a Maine pier, oysters and champagne in a fashion-forward wine bar in California, Korean tacos out of a Portland food truck – these are just a few ways to dine à la Americana.
The USA has made tremendous contributions to the arts. Georgia O’Keeffe’s wild landscapes, Robert Rauschenberg’s surreal collages, Alexander Calder’s elegant mobiles and Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings have entered the vernacular of 20th-century art. Chicago and New York have become veritable drawing boards for the great architects of the modern era. And from the soulful blues born in the Mississippi Delta to the bluegrass of Appalachia and Detroit’s Motown sound – plus jazz, funk, hip-hop, country, and rock and roll – America has invented sounds integral to modern music.
Why I Love USA
By Regis St Louis, Writer
When it comes to travel, America has always floored me with its staggering range of possibilities. Not many other countries have so much natural beauty – mountains, beaches, rainforest, deserts, canyons, glaciers – coupled with fascinating cities to explore, an unrivaled music scene and all the things that make travel so rewarding (friendly locals, great restaurants and farmers markets, and plenty of quirky surprises). I love walking and pedaling around cities, but there’s nothing quite like hitting the open road for the unsung wonders and hidden corners of this inspiring country.
Source: Lonely Planet
Canada is more than its hulking-mountain, craggy-coast good looks: it also cooks extraordinary meals, rocks cool culture, and unfurls wild, moose-spotting road trips.
The Great Outdoors
The globe’s second-biggest country has an endless variety of landscapes. Sky-high mountains, glinting glaciers, spectral rainforests and remote beaches are all here, spread across six times zones. It’s the backdrop for plenty of ah-inspiring moments – and for a big provincial menagerie. That’s big as in polar bears, grizzly bears, whales and, everyone’s favorite, moose.
The terrain also makes for a fantastic playground. Whether it’s snowboarding Whistler’s mountains, surfing Nova Scotia’s swells or kayaking the white-frothed South Nahanni River in the Northwest Territories, adventures abound. There are gentler options, too, like strolling Vancouver’s Stanley Park or swimming off Prince Edward Island’s pink-sand beaches.
Sip a café au lait and tear into a flaky croissant at a sidewalk bistro in Montréal; head to an Asian night market and slurp noodles in Vancouver; join a wild-fiddling Celtic party on Cape Breton Island; kayak between rainforest-cloaked Aboriginal villages on Haida Gwaii: Canada is incredibly diverse across its breadth and within its cities. You’ll hear it in the music, see it in the arts and taste it in the cuisine.
The arts are an integral part of Canada’s cultural landscape, from the International Fringe Theater Festival (the world’s second-largest) in Edmonton to mega museums like Ottawa’s National Gallery. Montreal’s Jazz Festival and Toronto’s star-studded Film Festival draw global crowds. And did you know Ontario’s Stratford Festival is the continent’s largest classical repertory theater? Even places you might not automatically think of – say St John’s or Woody Point – put on renowned shindigs (an avant-garde ‘sound symposium’ and a big-name writers festival respectively).
Why I Love Canada
By Karla Zimmerman, Writer
I’m always blown away by Canada’s vastness, its enormous open landscapes. You can drive for hours in many areas and see almost no one. I love that Canada’s wildlife spotting is for real – moose, bears, whales – you will see them if you go looking. I love that the nation’s most popular restaurant – Tim Hortons – is a doughnut shop named after a hockey player. And I’m just going to come out and admit it: the more I’m in Canada, the more I appreciate rock band Rush.
Canada is a local food smorgasbord. If you grazed from west to east across the country, you’d fill your plate like this: wild salmon and velvety scallops in British Columbia, poutine (golden fries topped with gravy and cheese curds) in Québec, and lobster with a dab of melted butter in the Maritime provinces. Tastemakers may not tout Canadian food the way they do, say, Italian or French fare, so let’s just call the distinctive seafood, piquant cheeses, and fresh, seasonal fruits and veggies our little secret. Ditto for the bold reds and crisp whites produced from the country’s vine-striped valleys.
Source: Lonely Planet