15 best US holiday adventures

50 years of Walt Disney World

The flagship Disney resort in Orlando is celebrating its golden anniversary, with events scheduled across the four parks (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot) over the coming months, including new ride Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. The big attraction though, will be the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser hotel, opening early next year. The two-night immersive experience will start with a Launch Pod jump to hyperspace for a theatrical journey on the Halcyon Starcruiser.

disneyworld.co.uk/50th-anniversary

Rocky Mountaineer goes south

Canada’s premium scenic rail operator, with three routes through the Rocky mountains between Vancouver and Alberta, has broadened its horizons and now snakes south, across the US border. The Rockies to the Red Rocks route is a two-day route that starts in Moab, Utah, and crosses the Continental Divide en route to Denver, Colorado. Passengers can sit back and take in the red rock and waterfalls of Ruby Canyon before spending the night amid the hot springs of Glenwood. Before reaching Denver there are gorges, canyons and the six-mile Moffat Tunnel.

Three nights from £1,125pp, rockymountaineer.com

Gulf Coast by train

The Amtrak intercity rail service – beloved of President “Amtrak” Joe Biden – also celebrates 50 years in 2021. The President has proposed an $80bn (£58bn) infrastructure upgrade to the network. Early next year, it will revive the Gulf Coast route between New Orleans and Mobile, heading east from Louisiana to Alabama, stopping in Bay St Louis, Gulfport, Biloxi and Pascagoula in Mississippi.

amtrak.com

New York’s new park

Close to the popular green ribbon of the High Line public park, New York has a new revitalised green space. Little Island at Pier 55 perches over the Hudson River just off the Meatpacking District. The architecturally striking island park is clasped by tulip-like concrete structures that ripple like the water’s surface. On the surface, they hold 350 species of flowers, trees and shrubs, lawns and an amphitheatre that will host free and ticketed events, from circus to spoken word. The park also provides a fantastic photo opportunity of the skyline of lower Manhattan.

littleisland.org

Nashville’s landmark museum

Opened on Martin Luther King Day in January in Music City, the National Museum of African American Music shines a spotlight on more than 50 genres, including blues, jazz, gospel and hip-hop. The permanent collection includes instruments, stage costumes and sheet music, and there are also immersive films and live events.

$24.95 (£18), nmaam.org

A new address for Arizona

The first “landscape hotel” in the US will open in the desert town of Sedona in December. It has been built as 40 glass cube rooms that perch over the red-rock landscape, their tinted glass reflecting the surroundings, creating mirrored silhouettes at dusk. Each “atrium” cube has a rooftop deck with fire pit, which allows for stargazing once the sun has dipped. Sedona is dense with art galleries, spiritual and wellbeing centres, while the wider landscape is ripe for hiking and mountain biking, as well as rafting. The Grand Canyon is around two hours north.

ambientesedona.com

Yellowstone’s milestone anniversary

The oldest national park in the US turns 150 next year. Sprawling across Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, it is alive with geothermal activity (not least the frequent outbursts of the Old Faithful geyser) and bison herds, which have lived in the region since prehistoric times (beware the “bison jams” on a road trip). The park’s awe-inspiring landscapes range from the rainbow colours of the hydrothermal features to the deep green of the Douglas fir forests and the icy-green cascade of Lower Falls as it charges through the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.

nps.gov/yell

15 best US holiday adventures

Los Angeles rolls out red carpet

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures has opened in a landmark building designed by Renzo Piano on Wilshire Boulevard that houses more than 13 million objects of movie memorabilia. There is an Oscars Experience in which you can imagine yourself accepting an award, Dorothy’s 1939 ruby slippers, the 1979 Alien extraterrestrial headpiece, 50s Cinerama cameras and exhibition galleries telling the story of cinema as well as seasonal and special screenings.

$25 (£18), academymuseum.org/en

Cultural road trips

Black culture will be showcased through a series of new tour itineraries that range from day trips to two-week explorations. Organised by Black Cultural Heritage Tours, the trips are in development across the US, with the south-east now open for bookings for travel from next September. For example, in southern Florida, the eight-day itinerary highlights black history in Little Haiti and Little Havana and supports small businesses such as restaurants and galleries. There are Caribbean and soul food tastings in Delray Beach and an art tour in West Palm Beach.

experienceblackculture.com

Shaker history in Connecticut

Closed in 1992, the 18th-century Canterbury Shaker Village has reopened. The National Historic Landmark comprises 25 restored original buildings alongside forest, gardens and nature trails where a community of 300 Shakers once lived at its peak in the 1850s. Known for their simple way of living and distinctive utilitarian furniture design, the Shakers have now dwindled to a small community in Maine but were considered revolutionary among the Christian community when they emigrated to the US in 1774.

$25 (£18), shakers.org

Olympic legacy in Colorado

Team USA is celebrated at a new museum in Colorado Springs – the main US Olympics Training Centre – which opened last summer. It is fully accessible and interactive, telling the history and triumphs of the team, including the 14 gold medals won by three-time Paralympian swimmer Erin Popovich and sprinters John Carlos and Tommie Smith, who were expelled from the Olympic Village for protesting for racial equality on the podium in 1968. Admission $24.95 (£18), usopm.org. Nearby, Pikes Peak – “America’s Mountain” – is known as one of the world’s most accessible mountains, with driving, biking and hiking routes to its summit. Stay at the new, locally run Kinship Landing hotel which has hotel suites, bunkrooms and a unique “camp deck”.

Doubles from $189 (£138), kinshiplanding.com.

First American history in Oklahoma

Present-day Oklahoma – whose name comes from two Choctaw words meaning “honoured nation” – is where Native Americans were displaced during the 1830-1847 Indian removal. Today, Oklahoma City is the location of the new First Americans Museum, established to preserve and honour the history, cultures and contributions of the state’s 39 First American Nations. Cultural objects on display include clothing and instruments curated by the museum’s Native team.

$15 (£11), famok.org

Canoe in California

Paddle through Redwood National Park in a dugout canoe crafted from one of California’s famous trees. The vessels are captained by a Yurok guide, who will explain their tribal culture along the way, as well as the Klamath River’s ecosystem. Launched this year, what is said to be the world’s first redwood canoe tour heads inland from the Pacific coast into the park and ancestral Yurok lands.

$125 (£91), visityurokcountry.com

An epic cycling adventure

The Great American Rail Trail is under way, linking Washington DC on the east coast to Washington State on the west coast. Launched in 2019, its progress has been hampered by the pandemic, but more than half of the 3,700-mile trail is complete, mostly at either end of the route. Traversing 12 states and the District of Columbia – eight of which have now introduced new trail segments – it takes in staggering scenery, including roaming bison along Nebraska’s Cowboy Trail. The section through Washington DC and Maryland is the first complete segment, starting at the US Capitol and following the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal.

railstotrails.org

Deep South road trip

Set off from Nashville, Tennessee, on a three-week road trip loop around the Deep South on a new RV itinerary. The Epic Deep South Road Trip takes in the waterfalls and wildflowers of DeSoto State Park in Alabama, the US Space and Rocket Centre in Huntsville, paddle-boating on Hunter Lake, Alabama Music Hall of Fame and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, where backing and arrangements were recorded for artists such as Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin, Elvis Presley’s birthplace and the Coca-Cola Museum. There’s also time to visit Muddy Waters’ cabin at the Delta Blues Museum and enjoy the blues in Memphis.

£1,595pp (£1,165) americaasyoulikeit.com

: US entry requirements explained


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