Arcadia National Park. Maine
The summit of Mt Washington. New Hampshire
The Brooklyn Bridge NYC
Five Reasons to Visit The USA
But America has no history?
In fact not only does America have history, but it is unique. If you are European you will likely have a common connection to it too. The sad, early, less well documented history of indigenous people, can be overlooked , but should not be. From the 1600’s stories do exist in abundance and detail, across the continent. North American history is relatively concise and manageable and it often links, directly, to today’s issues, problems, attitudes and challenges.
The History of North America Explained
Nowadays, and for the last 40 years, North Americans have been mostly keen to preserve and explain their heritage. And ‘so where did your ancestors come from?’ is a regular conversation topic.
Historic sites are generally extremely well preserved and maintained and perhaps the best explained of any country in my experience. Whether it is the Gettysburg Battlefield, the Intrepid Air Craft Carrier in New York, or ancient dwellings in the South West USA, you will find excellent and pretty inexpensive places to visit and explore.
Understand the regional differences
The USA is a vast country, so you should not be surprised that attitudes and interests vary significantly, perhaps, based on their location or history.
- the South, had Plantations, a Slave Trade and Segregation until frighteningly recently
- New England clings to its history of independence, freedom , and The Founding Fathers,
- The South West was Spanish and Mexican territory until, in European history terms, not that long ago! And now with a sensitive border, it has a strong Hispanic identity.
- The vast Mid West has, unsurprisingly, looser gun laws
- The DC and Virginia area house Federal Government and many HQ’s of institutions
- The Upper Midwest, sees the Rustbelt with once massive industrial production being challenged by competitors and whole cities have declined eg Motor City : Detroit
- Unemployment and traditional industry decline, in the Rust Belt, and the coal mining regions of Appalachia create an area ripe for revolt against globalization and to see the benefits of isolationism
- The Eastern Seabord cities from Boston, through, New York, Philadelphia to DC and the Pacific cities of Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles, on the other hand illustrate cosmopolitan, vibrant cities that love the benefits of globalization and participate, with excitement , in global business, culture, art and politics.
America is seen by much of the world as a great enemy; help bring the world closer to each other by meeting local folk. Americans are pretty good at ‘community’, surprisingly enough, and there are many things you can show up at and easily get into conversation . Churches, temples or whatever are a good start, the many great Diners, coffee shops, arts events, school sports events (especially in the more rural areas), go to a baseball game (a Minor League one can be great fun) or if you can be around on one of the ‘festival days’ eg July 4th, Memorial Day or Labor Day.
Explore North America
Whether you live in North America or elsewhere, the chances are that there are gaps in your knowledge about North America ….and that you might well just have some preconceptions about it and its people.
As a European living in the USA, I am regularly asked to explain ‘America’s action’s, or express an opinion as to what Americans (and sometimes Canadians, for which I can but speak only as a regular visitor) think, or to rationalize some specific policy aspect (mostly about guns!) and comment as to ‘how safe’ it is. I mostly begin by explaining that in my view, there are few ‘typical’ Americans and it depends vastly, where the American comes from. More and more that is true. In my view much of America is more easy going, socially concerned, charitable and globally well informed than much of the world and much more than thought. But there are widely differing opinions on the aforementioned issues for sure! So my suggestion is put your preconceptions aside and get out and explore.
The National Parks & The Smithsonian Museums
There are 417 National Park sites ranging from the well known e.g .the Grand Canyon , to historic sites e.g. the Thomas Edison Factory and home in New Jersey. I have visited quite a few and have many more on my list. All are excellent.
The Smithsonian Museum and Gallery collection is the largest in the world and there are now 19 sites, most in central Washington DC. In visiting them time is your only challenge. They are a national treasure for sure.
Meeting Americans – make the effort
Whatever your origin, you will more than likely find Americans to be helpful and interested in you. (That I think is in part because outside the visitor honeypots, visitors are such a small proportion of people and a novelty – it’s not like Venice where everyone is a tourist). I think you will be surprised, certainly many visitors I know, have been.
Maryland's Atlantic Coast
The Grand Canyon PA
Spectacular, The Hoodies of Brice National Park, Utah, in the snow!