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United States Travel Guide: Essential tips to travel USA

by Pilar Dujan | June 26, 2023
Travel USA to visit the White House

The United States of America occupies a central role in international politics, entertainment, technology and sports. This diverse country, often called a “melting pot of cultures”, is home to some of the most famous tourist attractions in the world. 

Discover all the general information you need before you travel USA.

General overview

General information about the United States

Stay informed about the entry requirements to USA while planning how to travel to US as they may change over time.

The flag of the United States

American flag, the stars and stripes

The United States flag is composed of 13 alternating red and white stripes and 50 white stars on a blue rectangle.

The stripes represent the 13 original colonies and the stars represent the 50 states of the Union. 

Each color in the flag has its own meaning:

  • The red symbolizes valor and bravery
  • The white is a symbol of purity and innocence
  • The blue represents perseverance and justice

Geography of the United States

Official census map to travel USA

With an area of 9.834.000 km², the US is the third largest country in the world. In terms of population, the US is also third in the ranking (it represents 4.25% of the total population in the world). 

As such a vast country, the government divided the States of the Union and the District of Columbia in 4 different regions with their own subdivisions


This region received the first European settlers. These are industrial states with some of the biggest cities of the country, like New York City and Boston. 

The Northeast has two divisions: New England and the Middle Atlantic (Mid-Atlantic). 

New England

  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont

Middle Atlantic

  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania

The South

The South is famous for its delicious cuisine, the warm climate and beautiful beaches. The main industries are agriculture, tourism and aerospace

The South has three divisions: South Atlantic, East South Central and West South Central.

South Atlantic

  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Maryland
  • South Carolina
  • North Carolina
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia

East South Central

  • Alabama
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • Tennessee

West South Central

  • Arkansas
  • Louisiana
  • Oklahoma
  • Texas

The Midwest

The Midwest is the “nation’s breadbasket”. Also known as the “Heartland” of the US, it’s mainly an agricultural region. Here you can also find the Great Lakes, of which we will talk about later on.

The Midwest has two divisions: East North Central and West North Central.

East North Central

  • Indiana
  • Illinois
  • Michigan
  • Ohio
  • Wisconsin

West North Central

  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota

The West

The West of the United States is home to the most varied landscapes of the country, from the desert to the beach to lush forests. 

In the West you can find some of the most important attractions of the US, like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park and Hollywood. 

The West has two divisions: Mountain and Pacific.


  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Idaho
  • New Mexico
  • Montana
  • Utah
  • Nevada
  • Wyoming


  • Alaska
  • California
  • Hawaii
  • Oregon
  • Washington

Desert in USA


The US holds within its borders some of the most diverse landscapes you could find anywhere on Earth. 

USA travel will let you see has several mountain ranges, like the Rocky Mountains in the West and the Appalachian Mountains in the East. The highest peak is Denali (Mt. Mckinley) at 6.190 meters (20,310 feet), the third highest in the world after Mount Everest and Aconcagua. It can be found in the state of Alaska.

Another major landscape of the US is the coast. The West Coast sits on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. The East Coast, on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Both coasts have beautiful beaches, especially to the South where the weather is warmer. 

The center of the country is known as the Great Plains. These are vast expanses of agricultural fields and grasslands.

But travel USA also lets you explore deserts, most of them located in the Southwest. The Mojave Desert is probably the most well known. To the north of this desert is the Death Valley, the lowest point in the US (-86 m below sea level).

In terms of water sources, the US not only has vast expanses of coastline: it also has many significant rivers and lakes. The longest river in the country is the Mississippi River. In terms of lakes, the Great Lakes are located on the border with Canada. They are the lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario, and they are the largest group of freshwater lakes in the world. However, there are many more notable lakes, such as Lake Tahoe or the Great Salt Lake. 

If you travel USA, you should take the time to visit at least one of its national parks. Did you know that Yellowstone National Park was the first national park in the world? Other notable ones to include in USA travel are the National Parks of Yosemite, Grand Canyon and the Everglades.

Crocodile in the water, Everglades, Florida, USA

History and Heritage of the US

As in most places, the territory that is now the United States used to be habited by Natives. When the first European settlers came in the 16th century, this started to change. By the 19th century, most Native Americans tribes had disappeared or moved to other parts of the country. 

The US declared its independence from Great Britain in 1776 and the union of states was born, as well as their constitution. 

However, this doesn’t mean that all Americans were free: the slave trade ran rampant during those times. The Civil War started on the 12th of April, 1861, and it was fought between the 11 Confederate States of the South and the 23 northern states of the Union. The southern states were against abolishing slavery because they depended on them to work their fields. The northern states, led by president Abraham Lincoln, were in favor of the freeing of the slaves.

Finally, in 1863, Lincoln gave his famous Emancipation Proclamation speech and put an end to the slave trade. The Civil War ended two years later with a victory of the states of the Union. The 13th Amendment cemented the freedom of the now-former slaves. 

The 1900s were a time of development, both in population and industries. Millions of immigrants arrived during these years, and many important industries were developed, such as the automobile and airplane industries, which favored the growth of the bigger cities. 

This was also the century of the World Wars, both of which saw the US participating in. Between the wars came the time of the Great Depression, a massive economic crisis that took place during the 1930s.

The later decades saw a lot of social change and upheaval in the US, for example with the rise of the Civil Rights movement led by important figures such as Dr. Martin Luther King; and the Vietnam War was met with protests and detractors. In 1969 came another major milestone in the country: the NASA put the first human on the moon. 

The most recent years saw the US involved in several other wars, such as the “war on terrorism” after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California

Culture and Traditions of the US

The culture of the United States is marked by diversity: a diversity of languages, traditions, influences, religions and nationalities, all living under the same flag. Some of the traditional values of the nation are freedom, patriotism and democracy, particularly freedom of speech and religion. 

But the US is also a deeply artistic country: many of history’s most famous artists were born or grew up there. Some of the actual core genres of music were developed in the US, such as jazz, country or hip-hop. In terms of entertainment, the Mecca of the industry is also in the US: Hollywood in Los Angeles, California. The same can be said in terms of literature, with iconic writers such as Jack Kerouac, Ernest Hemingway or Mark Twain having been born in the US. 

Last but not least, the other key part of American culture is the sports industry, particularly for the sports of basketball, American football, baseball and hockey. 

The holidays of the country reflect clearly the values of American society, with celebrations such as Mardi Gras, Hanukkah, St. Patrick’s and Cinco de Mayo having a place in determined communities and states. Other major holidays include Independence Day (the 4th of July, a huge celebration all over the country), Thanksgiving, New Years, Christmas and Labor Day.

Las Vegas hotels and casinos in Nevada, USA

Gastronomy in the US

The cuisine of the US is a mixture of many different influences, from the Native Americans that lived there first, to the first European immigrants and the many different nationalities that live in the US today. 

Even though most major cities have a wide range of restaurants of international cuisines, there is also what could be considered American cuisine: hot dogs, barbecues, fried chicken, seafood and Southern cuisine are only some examples. But the typical dishes also vary depending on which region of the US we’re in. 

Here’s a list of the typical food cooked and farmed in each region of the US. Start planning your menu if you travel to US!


  • Seafood, especially lobster and clams. In terms of dishes, the lobster roll and clam-chowder are the most common
  • Blueberries
  • Cranberries
  • Baked beans
  • Pancakes
  • New York-style pizza
  • Street food
  • Multicultural cuisine, especially in large cities such as New York
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Ice cream
  • Chicken pot pie, originated in Pennsylvania
  • Philly cheesesteak


  • Casseroles or “hot dish”
  • Pierogies
  • Loose meat sandwich

The South

  • Fried and barbecued chicken
  • Grits
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Collard greens
  • Shellfish such as shrimp and crawfish
  • Pork: hams, sausage, bacon and pulled pork
  • The soul food of the Deep South
  • Peach cobbler
  • Sweet potato pie
  • Moon pies


  • Chiles rellenos
  • Cheese crisp
  • Seafood: king crab (from Alaska), halibut and cod.
  • Geoduck
  • Large game such as elk, moose or bear.
  • Sourdough bread
  • California roll
  • Mexican cuisine: as the southern states of the West share their borders with Mexico, it has become a huge influence on local cuisine. 
  • Grapes for wine. Read our guide to the best wine destinations USA.

hamburguers fries and glasses of soda

Weather of the USA

The US is the third largest country in the world and it has many different landscapes and weather, we won’t find the same climate in Hawaii and in New York. For example, the south is warm all year long and very hot during the summer. The north has extremely cold winters, something that doesn’t happen in the south. 

In terms of travel USA, the country can be visited all year long. We should choose the time of the year that better fits the activities we wish to do and the places we wish to visit. 

Currency of the United States

The official currency is the US dollar. It’s subdivided in 100 cents.

We can find coins of 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 cents. The banknotes are of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 dollars.

Main tourist attractions of the United States

There are places to visit in USA worth the trip in every corner of every state. 

In the West we can find massive attractions such as the Grand Canyon, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Hollywood, Yellowstone National Park and the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington D.C.

In the East, we can visit the Statue of Liberty and Times Square, both in New York City, Walt Disney World and the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana, to name a few.

New York City in the United States of America

Safety in the United States of America

As most developed countries, tourists can enjoy safe travel USA. However, there are risks, such as pickpocketing or gun violence. Try to keep your belongings safe and to stay informed about the safest cities in the US and the ones to avoid, depending on where you’re traveling to.

Visa for the United States

Foreign travelers entering the US have to have one of these three kinds of authorizations:

  • A visa for immigrants who wish to live in the US. They will have to apply for a Green Card. Don't forget to read about the difference between a visa and a Green Card.
  • A non-immigrant visa for those who are neither looking to become permanent residents nor eligible for an online visa.
  • An online travel authorisation (ESTA visa) for the nationalities eligible for the Visa Waiver Program. This visa is only available for people traveling for tourism and for less than 90 days.

To read about every kind of visa for the US and how to get them, visit our article on how to apply for tourist visa to USA.

The only nationalities that can enter the US without a visa or an ESTA are Canada and Bermuda.