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Published: Jun 15, 2012
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Be neighbourly and go big on culture, adventure and scenery whether you are visiting the Big Apple, the Big Island or Big Sur. All states are united in making you want to visit America The Beautiful.

Insiders Vegas. Given its history, it’s only fitting to find a museum devoted to the mob in Las Vegas. The Mob Museum opened on Valentine’s Day in 2012 (how romantic!) with artefacts and exhibits that show the tools of the trade for their greatest hits – guns, shovels and baseball bats. Some are even donated by mobsters themselves. On the other side of the action is CSI–The Experience. Use your detective skills to solve a murder in this totally interactive experience. Neon and Vegas have also had a long relationship – neon signs don’t die they live on in the Neon Museum. After a background check visit the National Atomic Testing Museum. Vegas has never been more real or scary.

Mob Museum Lobby
Credit: Jeff Green

Pride Rules And tolerance goes right along with it in San Francisco. The largest LGBT parade in the United States hits the streets every June (June 23-24, 2012) when families and couples of all ages and persuasions celebrate. The GLBT History Museum opened in 2011 – learn about the decades-long struggle for acceptance. Relive your hippie and flower child days in Haight Ashbury. Hop on a cable car for an exhilarating ride through hilly and architecturally diverse neighbourhoods with the infamous Alcatraz prison looming in the distance. Wander through the sights, aromas and attractions of Fisherman’s Wharf.

San Francisco
Credit: Jack Hollingsworth, San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau

Ticket To Ride Experience the ride of your life at Orlando’s bonanza of theme parks. Fan of Harry Potter? Escape to the Hogwart’s castle and take the Forbidden Journey state-of-the-art ride at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal’s Islands of Adventure Theme Park. Head to Walt Disney World Resort, the birth mother of theme parks, and go on safari at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. Or experience the world’s cultures in a day at Epcot. Building a popular following is Legoland, which opened in October 2011 near Orlando. Cool off and make a splash at SeaWorld Orlando and discover life underwater. For the big kids the theme parks have added lots of eclectic restaurants, dazzling nightclubs and cozy cafes. Enjoy the ride.

Orlando

A Grand View Get your “ass” moving on an exhilarating mule ride into the Grand Canyon. It’s just one way to experience and explore this World Heritage Site and one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Hike down to the Canyon floor where the rocks date back two billion years – they definitely aren’t showing their age. The roaring Colorado River beckons adventurous rafters on one-day or multi-day whitewater rafting trips. Book well in advance for these thrilling river rides. Gain a perspective from the air on a flightseeing tour. If you prefer to be grounded and like riding the rails take the Grand Canyon Railroad from Williams on Route 66 to the Grand Canyon. No matter how you experience the Canyon it will be grand.

Grand Canyon
Credit: AOT

Politics Aside Is it possible to visit Washington, DC and skip the politics? Absolutely, when there are so many museums to keep you occupied. The Smithsonian is the world’s largest museum and research complex with 19 museums and galleries. Best of all most have free admission. Outside of the Smithsonian, spy wannabes can snoop around at the International Spy Museum and even take part in an interactive spy experience. After that, head over to the National Museum of Crime and Punishment to see exhibits on the history of crime in America. If you still need a political fix then take a White House tour and observe this political “museum” in action.

Washington
Credit: Jake McGuire

A Hula Of A Time Hawaii teases and seduces you. Rhythmic hula dancing, a traditional luau feast and a non-stop beach parade of eye candy – Hawaii and its six distinct islands certainly stimulate the mind and body. Hawaii is not technically located in North America but is included since it is a U.S. state. Take a walk on the volcanic side but keep a safe distance – you don’t want to be part of the lava flow. Sit back and relax on popular Waikiki beach and observe the surfing acrobatics or try it yourself. Discover the teeming marine life underwater on a diving or snorkeling excursion.

Hawaii
Credit: HVCB/Linda Ching

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