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Experience America's Culture and Visit Many of its Hot Spots.
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Cultural Hotspots

Experience America's Culture and Visit Many of its Hot Spots.

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Parks and Gardens

The Meijer Gardens, Michigan

Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park is an incredible botanical garden hidden away in Michigan. It’s been described as a quirky outdoor adventure and is claimed to be one of the top 30 museums to visit by Patricia Schults, author of 1000 Places to See Before You Die.

What’s so great about a garden?  First of all,  Meijer Garden is perfect for all ages. It’s formed by a series of paths and trails that wind themselves throughout the 158 acre park. As you get lost, you’ll soon come across its 200 sculptures that focus on local, emerging and established artists from the Modern traditon right to the present day.

That’s not all. The Gardens is a hub for music and entertainment, and regularly holds concerts on its grassy banks overlooking spectacular views.

Best check the hours and rates on the website, but admission will cost you around $9. You’ll be able to make a picnic and simply enjoy a day exploring.

 

The High Line, New York

The High Line is a new development and open free to the public for all to enjoy. It’s built on the freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. The friends and supporters of the High Line make it their mission to engage in many ways with the diverse communities that are situated in the nearby areas.

The design of the park has been created as a joint effort between James Corner Field Operations, Diller + Scofidio and Piet Oudolf. Its stunning look is inspired from the old railway sleepers. The garden’s ever-evolving look goes from old idustrial to modern, green and natural. The sustainable project offers a playing ground, community centre and plenty of outdoor events for those who wish to join. You could take a Tai Chi or meditation class or sit in on a comedy show or even join a walking tour.  Take in the scenery with the incredible art exhibitions that constantly change or sit in on expert-led talks that offer an insight into the complexities of the urban and natural environments of NYC.

 

Museums, Well Known Places and Historical Buildings

The Griffith Observatory, California

This is the giant telescope that can take you on a tour of the night’s sky – as well as pretty impressive views of Los Angeles and the Hollywood sign. This is a pretty awesome and fairly unusual thing to do whilst touring the West Coast. A hub for those looking to learn a little about our planet and its current location within our solar system. It’s a cross between a public observatory, planetarium, and an exhibition space.

Better yet, it’s free admission for all visitors and on clear nights the observatory welcomes everyone to have a look through the lense at the night’s sky.
The Griffith Observatory is open Tuesday to Friday and on the weekends too. It’s best to get there in the evenings for the best views.

 

The Capitol Building, Washington DC

A pretty impressive building from the outside – and on the inside. The Capitol building is amongst some of the most important and most recognised historical buildings on the planet. It is where America’s representatives and the Senate will meet to discuss important decisions on how the country will be governed. The building itself has been built, extended, burnt and restored to its former glory.

Admission to the Capitol Visitor Centre is free. However, passes are required for tours of the historical parts of the building and may be needed for other special events. Like with a lot of historical and important buildings in the US,  you will need to go through security checks before entering.

It’s probably worth booking in advanced to avoid queues and time wasting.

Ellis Island, New York

Visiting Ellis Island Immigration Museum is an eye opener to how hundreds of  thousands of people managed to get through the gates and live in New York City. As well as a museum dedicated to this time in history, it also holds a place for remembrance and honour to family members connected to this time.

Ellis Island will tell the honest story of difficult conditions families faced as they attempted to enter America for a better life. It was not successful for all and it took weeks of waiting before being admitted to work. It was to all an island of hope. As given away in the name, Ellis Island is an island situated off the coast of Manhattan and can be accessed by ferry from Battery Park. Your boat ticket will also buy you a trip to Liberty Island. It’s definitely worth taking the time to see both.

 

Mall of America, Minnesota

This isn’t just any old mall – and deservingly so has the apt name of being the ‘Mall of America’. The Mall of America is so bold and grand, it even has a theme park in the middle of it! The MOA hosts over 400 events a year and can range anything from book signings, singing events, fashion shows or competitions with celebrities and can even get featured on TV!

The mall not only provides a liberating shopping experience, it can also be good for heart! Every day you may see people who take on a new age fitness regime called ‘mall walking’ where they will just walk loops around the mall. This is the perfect place to do this as it boasts 4.3 miles of store front footage alone, and would be big enough to fit 7 Yankee stadiums within the mall!

Nickelodeon Universe is where you will find 25 rides and attractions in the center of the mall that include a carousel, crazy cars, roller coasters, a log chute and even some mini golf! You could easily spend a day enjoying these attractions and if you are after a day of unlimited rides that you should get a wristband that allows you to do just that! (Priced at approx $33 with an additional add-on for attractions such as the zipline, mini golf and ropes course as extra)

If rides aren’t your thing, maybe up close and personal with sharks will be your ideal day out, after all, what mall is complete without a Sea Life aquarium in it? Down in the aquarium you can touch and feed the stingrays, take a walk in the ‘Ocean Tunnel’ where you will be surrounded by turtles, catfish, fish, sharks and many more sea life creatures! Check out the feeding times for the day of your visit as they aren’t to be missed. If you wanted to amp up your adventure here, then check out the snorkel and dive programs with the sharks and stingrays!

Other attractions within the mall include state of the art cinemas across 14 screens including an exclusive 21+ screen and 3D showings available. Be sure to check their website for the latest exhibitions and attractions for up and coming events.

The Mall has over 520 stores so there is a little something for everyone to enjoy. Whether it is designer brands or high street chains, you have them all under one roof and with the added bonus of knowing that there is no sales tax on clothing in Minnesota, it’s an opportunity you cannot afford to miss!

If all this has you working up an appetite, you will not be disappointed with the vast selection of eating. Housing over 50 restaurants that range from your trusty fast food outlets in the food court all the way up to full scale eating establishments, the only real question is just deciding what you want to sample! Some of our favourites include reliving the wonderful movie of ‘Forrest Gump’ at the incredible Bubba Gump Shrimp Co or sampling the taste of rock n roll at the Hard Rock Cafe.

Universities

Harvard, Boston

Harvard University is a worldwide established learning centre famous for its talented alumni and also for being the location for films such as Legally Blonde. The University has churned a notable amount of Nobel Laureates and Pulitzer Prize Winners over the years and was the chosen school for past US presidents.

Even though it’s a running University, visitors are more than welcome to walk its grounds and take in the views and atmosphere. You will find the very heart of the University with its iconic red brick buildings and as you wander round, you can learn how it has developed and grown into what it is known and loved for today.

Harvard Information Centre offers guided tours around the campus and will touch on all the historical moments that have happened in its buildings. The grounds themselves, better known as the Yard, are pretty breathtaking. The focal point of the year is the statue of John Harvard and is a prime photo opportunity. It’s rumoured that touching his shiny boot gives you good luck.

 

Events and Fairs

State Fairs

You may have enjoyed the fete at your local village hall or your little brother’s school fair that you got taken to last summer – but forget everything you think you know about fairs and open your mind to the wonder that is an ‘American State Fair!’

State fairs happen in every state and typically happen throughout the summer over a period of about 10-14 days. While each state will differ in what it may be famous for, though the general concept of each of them is always the same, having different exhibitions and stalls that you can purchase a variety of items from, some rides to go on, lots and lots (and lots) of food to sample and often some animals and agriculture that you can learn about!

Whether you choose to spend your time on the carnival rides or seeing baby animals being born, you will certainly build up a hunger to try something new and exotic. Have you ever had deep fried alligator on a stick? Or perhaps even a deep fried snickers bar mounted on a stick? Visiting your local state fair can help to cross some of these weird and wonderful adventures of your bucket list!

There are often competitions and musical events that happen too – maybe you can go and see a concert or two while you are there.