Introduction to the Americas
The American continent is a haven for travellers because of its colourful heritage, rich history, and vibrant culture. From North America to South America, you will be spoiled for options. You can indulge in a variety of experiences that will leave you with lasting memories. The United States alone offers plenty of endless possibilities when it comes to your travel experiences.
The Pacific Northwest is an excellent choice for outdoor and nature lovers with its beautiful landscapes and national parks. The good old South is best known for its delicious food and Southern hospitality. Meanwhile, the Southeast US is a paradise for those seeking sunny days throughout the year.
When you travel to other parts of North America, you can expect more variety as Canada is as diverse as the US. South America, on the other hand, is brimming with options on white sand beaches, nightlife, and colonial towns.
The American continent is gifted when it comes to natural beauty and landscape formations. It is therefore sought after by travellers looking to experience the natural wonders that the continent has to offer.
Canyons are one of the most breathtaking landscape formations in America. The Grand Canyon in Arizona and Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah for example. Another extraordinary landscape in America is the volcanic islands of Hawaii. But if you head further inland, you can also witness beautiful prairies, especially in the Midwest US.
South America, on the other hand, is equally gifted when it comes to amazing landscapes. There are many breathtaking and massive waterfalls in the continent, particularly the famous Iguazu Falls. Just like the Niagara Falls that is shared by the US and Canada, this waterfall is shared by Argentina and Brazil. Both the North and South America also have a salt flat, which results in an otherworldly landscape. And it is worth noting that the largest river system in the world – Amazon – is located on this continent.
Gastronomic Delights in America
If you venture out your travel to the American continent seeking gastronomic delights, you will be in for a treat.
North America boasts of an eclectic array of dishes with indigenous and international influences. With America’s rich history, it is often reflected in the region’s dishes.
Some of the most notable North American dishes are the beef jerky, cornbread, biscuits and gravy, fried chicken, grits, crab cakes, and the po’boy. Some of the quintessential American desserts include the apple pie and Key lime pie.
The South American cuisine is as colourful, exotic, and diverse as that of North America. If you head to South America, make sure to sample these dishes: ceviche, arepas, coxinhas, chimichurri, and dulce de leche.
America is a land of cultural heritage and rich history. You can, therefore, expect a lot of cultural activities that you can integrate into your travel itinerary.
There are plenty of archaeological and historical ruins in various parts of the American continent. These ruins provide a glimpse of how the ancient people of the land lived. Some of the best ruins to visit are Machu Picchu, Chichen Itza, and the Taos Pueblo in New Mexico.
There are also several monuments and landmarks all over the American continent that offer a glimpse into the history of the land. The ones you should try to visit are Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Christ the Redeemer, and the Catedral Metropolitana.
In addition, there are many beautifully preserved colonial towns in America that seem to have been frozen in time. Good examples of them are Charleston in South Carolina, Cartagena in Colombia, Antigua in Guatemala, and Quito in Ecuador.
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This is a list of the must-visit attractions for most countries in the American continent:
- USA – As one of the largest countries in the world, the USA is packed with a lot of tourist attractions. Among the can’t-miss ones are the Statue of Liberty National Monument, Grand Canyon National Park, Golden Gate Bridge, and the Monument Valley.
- Mexico – Mexico is best known for its historical and cultural attractions such as Chichen Itza, Cabo San Lucas, and the cenotes in Tulum and Playa del Carmen.
- Canada – Canada is a North American country with a good mix of modern, natural, and cultural attractions. Make sure you visit the CN Tower, Banff National Park, Butchart Gardens, and Moraine Lake.
- Brazil – Brazil is home to a number of tourist attractions including Christ the Redeemer, the Amazon River, Iguazu National Park.
- Peru – Machu Picchu is the most notable tourist attraction in Peru. But aside from this, you can also explore the Sacred Valley and Colca Canyon.
- Argentina – Argentina is a haven for nature and outdoor lovers as it is filled with many natural wonders. Among the best places to visit is the Parque Nacional Los Glacier, Iguazu National Park, and La Boca.
- Chile – Located on the western edge of South America, Chile’s must-see attractions include the Atacama Desert, Chiloe Island, and the Andes mountains.
Know Before You Go
Proper planning is the secret to a successful trip to the American continent.
The currency differs with each country. You should be able to find a money changer in major cities. But some money changers charge a fee for every transaction. It is best to change large amounts of cash into the local currency at a time to save on these fees.
The American continent is extremely varied. Some countries like the US and Canada have a very efficient transport system. But most of the countries in South America are underdeveloped. Make sure you budget and plan accordingly.
Tipping is expected in the US and Canada. But it could be optional in some parts of South America. The visa requirements vary for each country in North and South America (and based on your passport origin). Always check to see if you need to secure any visas prior to your travel.
Nature at its finest on the American continent
"In every walk in with nature, one receives far more than he seeks" John Muir
In the US and most of Northern America, the best time to visit is in spring and fall. The summer months can be extremely hot and winter brings extreme weather. Both spring (March to May) and fall (September to November) bring favourable conditions, but this also means that there will be more crowds, as they're the peak tourist season.
For South America, the summer months are considered as the best time to visit (around December to March). In general, the rainy season typically happens from January to May. It is best to avoid those months when you travel to South America. Most of these countries are great year-round travel destinations, though.
What to Expect
Knowing the rich diversity and beauty that awaits you in your travel to the American continent, it is easy to let your guard down. But don’t let your excitement make you overlook a few key things. One thing to remember at all times is that not all countries in America are the same. In fact, just like Europe, every country is different, with its own language, food, cultures and traditions.
Some countries are completely safe to travel to while others experience a high crime rate. Always be cautious when travelling in Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, and Mexico. Always practice common sense and avoid not properly lit areas at night, especially if you travel solo. While everyone in the US and Canada speaks English, in South America locals speak Spanish or Portuguese.
Most of the locals who serve in the tourism industry do know a bit of English, but most are not very fluent. Make sure you learn a few basic phrases so you can communicate with them. Knowing the local language is also a great way to immerse yourself into the local culture.