The world’s biggest playground, the USA’s 50 fabulous fun-packed states really do offer something for every member of the family. From the world’s most famous theme parks to incredible national parks, buzzing cities to quirky cowboy towns, sun-drenched beaches to snow topped mount...

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Places to go in United States of America

Sun, surf and fun are just a few reasons families love saying Aloha to Hawaii! With its gorgeous beaches and wealth of incredible kid friendly resorts featuring great kids clubs, mega pools and plenty of supervised activities, there’s really no better place for your kids to start their American adventures than the island of Oahu. Pre-schoolers will love the interactive Hawaii Children's Discovery Center, which provides interactive learning in a fun environment, and the Polynesian Cultural Center with its epic shows and interactive cultural activities. Or jump on board the Pineapple Express, a vintage-style train that explores working pineapple fields. Then of course, there are all those glorious beaches, many of which offer sheltered swimming and snorkeling for littlies. And if you prefer your swimming fish free, the Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park has loads of fun-filled water activities including a splash park for little children.

California is certainly cool for kids with loads of incredible attractions made by both Mother Nature and man. You and your kids can leave your heart in San Francisco, home of the stunning Golden Gate Bridge and spooky Alcatraz. Theme park aficionados can’t bypass a visit to Disneyland Resort’s two parks, Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park. Then there’s also the awesome Universal Studios and its Wizarding World of Harry Potter, plus Legoland, Knott's Berry Farm and more. If you’re after a hit of nature, there’s plenty of that too. The Oak Canyon Nature Centre is a stunning kid-friendly hiking spot in the Anaheim Hills, or head to Yosemite National Park, the most popular park in the USA, to see raging waterfalls and wildlife, including bears, who are sure to be keen to inspect your picnic baskets. And if you prefer your animal encounters with a safety net, head to San Diego and its world-famous Zoo.

Sports fans in the fam? Catching a baseball, basketball, football or hockey match can turn your United States adventures into a whole new ball game. Cheer on the Boston Red Sox or the New York Yankees baseball teams as they make a home run. Hoot and holler for the Flyers or Mighty Ducks Ice Hockey teams as they shoot a goal. Join the cheering crowds as the Cowboys or the Raiders football teams score a touchdown. Or show your support for the Lakers or Knicks basketball teams as they slam-dunk their way to victory. Of course you’ll likely be sharing the stands with some of Hollywood’s biggest celebs as they cheer on their favourite teams and, who knows, Mum and dad may even make it on the “Kiss Cam”. But what ever sport or team you prefer, catching some live sport, American style, will rank right up there on your kids list of highlights.

The United States is home to some of the world’s best beaches. Teens will love people watching on California’s Venice Beach, spending a morning on Santa Monica Pier or taking the drive to Malibu or Huntington Beach – home of the US Open of Surfing where they can watch the surfers from the end of the pier or hire some boards. Adventurous teens will love hiking or camping in the Grand Canyon, one of the world's seven natural wonders, for its sweeping views and incredible trails or driving through Utah’s Monument Valley- the heart of the Navajo Nation – with its red stone monoliths that have been the backdrop to many a Hollywood movie. But it’s not all sunshine, the United States has some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the world with ski resorts featuring teen friendly runs and awesome terrain parks dotted around the country from Vermont to New Mexico.

The massive scale of the United States means the climate varies from region to region. Summer (June - September) is hot, while autumn and spring is generally pleasantly warm and sunny across the country. June to August tends to be the most popular time to visit as the weather is good, but it comes at a price as the cost of travel, especially with regards to flights and accommodation, increases during the season. The southern states are sunny most of the year, however winter in the northern states of the Unites States can be very cold, with short days and snowfall affecting access in parts. It’s still a magical time to visit and a big plus for snow sports lovers. If you are considering a visit to the Midwest, it is also worth noting that hurricane season runs from April to June.

With a country as big as the Unites States there is no one size fits all solution to getting around. In major cities the public transport networks are cheap, safe and reliable and generally the most convenient way to get around. Buses, the subway, ferry and trams are just a few of the options, but these vary from city to city. Distances between cities, however, can be enormous so a little forward planning is absolutely essential. Airlines link all the major cities with regular services and an Amtrak USA Rail Pass provides a great scenic option for families.

Medical care in the United States is exceptional but extremely expensive. Hospitals and medical centres may demand you have health insurance, proof of ability to pay or they can demand up-front payment for treatment, so it is vital to have adequate health coverage in your travel insurance policy. Although the United States is free of many diseases, a few places in the south are susceptible to dengue fever. Protect the family from mosquito bites with child-safe insect repellent (with no more than a 20% concentration of DEET) and long, loose fitting clothing. Food and water standards are exceptional and travellers need only take the same precautions as they would at home. No vaccinations are required, though we do recommend that all travellers should be up-to-date on routine vaccinations. The number to call in the event of an emergency in the Unites States is 911.

American’s love their sports and team shirts and baseballs caps make a great wearable memento of your visit. An Aloha shirt can make a fun and colourful gift from Hawaii. What kid wouldn't want to take home a set of iconic Mickey (or Minnie) Mouse ears from Disneyland or DisneyWorld. It’s pretty much impossible to leave New York without nabbing an “I heart NY” t-shirt or tote bag. If you’re travelling to cowboy country a pair of shiny, new cowboy boots are a great buy.

There’s more to the United States food scene than fast food. While there’s no denying hotdogs, burgers, fried chicken and pizza are all very much a part of the country’s food culture, there are plenty of other, often healthier, All-American choices. In New York it’s all about the rainbow bagel, a pastrami on rye or irresistible New York style cheesecake, while Chicago is famous for its deep-dish pizza “pies”. In Texas, think smoky barbecue and Tex-Mex flavours and in New Orleans, Cajun, Creole, and French influences shine through in dishes like gumbo (spicy seafood stew) and jambalaya (rice). The East Coast is the place for fresh Maine lobster, crab and shrimp and on the West Coast, fill up on more fresh seafood as well as Mexican and Spanish influenced cuisine. And for foodies looking for fresh, sustainable and inventive produce, Portland is the place!

While it is a relatively young country, like anywhere else, the United States has a culture rich with its own eccentricities, traditions and customs. The vast majority of people in the Unites States identify as Christian and, as with any with any culture or religion, visitors should be respectful. Americans also tend like a little personal space, so be sure to leave a few feet of space during conversations. Table manners are the same as those for most of the western world with diners expected to use cutlery to eat (with the exception of fast food) and a left hand, arm or elbow on the table while eating is considered bad manners. Besides Christmas, Easter and New Year, the United States’ biggest national celebrations include Thanksgiving, with its family gatherings and enormous turkey feasts, and the 4th July, patriotic America’s Independence Day.

Prices vary across the country and are wholly dependent on the style of travel your family is after. There are a huge range of options to suit most tastes and budgets. That being said, New York is expensive, especially when it comes to accommodation. The east coast is a generally cheaper than the west and the south more affordable again. Public transport, fast food and groceries are relatively inexpensive. Medical care is extremely expensive; so don't leave home without adequate insurance. If your family is on a budget one of the cheapest ways to travel and stay is in an RV campervan, with campsite fees the only other expenditure after rental. Just remember that tipping is a way of life in America. The general rule of thumb is to leave 12% - to 18% of the total food and beverage bill. And the going rate for porters or bellhops is $1 a bag.

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