The United States is so accessible for people in Northern Ireland these days – with so many direct routes out of Dublin and then indirect routes (with a connecting flight) from Belfast City Airport. Over the last twenty years, the NInja has been lucky enough to be throughout this fantastic country and visit most of the major cities and areas … it’s time to rate the top ten USA hotspots for that slice of America that everyone needs in their life!!
But first, some honourable mentions that didn’t quite make the 10:
Los Angeles – would easily be in the top10 … if it wasn’t for the traffic!!
Minneapolis – the best place to go if you are looking a short USA shopping trip.
Rhode Island – a really beautiful State to visit (especially Providence and Newport) and only 90 mins from Boston.
Philadelphia – great city break option that you could combine with a twin centre trip to Atlantic City as well.
10. San Francisco, California
First up is one of the major cities on the West Coast in California. The “City By the Bay” can be a bit of a “marmite” destination in that people either love it or arent fussed on it. A culturally diverse city that has a lot to offer including the stunning Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island and the world famous sea lions at Pier 39. Surprisingly easy to get around although the hills can be quite steep for walking especially when you are going up them all!!
NInja Tip – hire a bike and cycle along the coastline, across the Golden Gate Bridge and down to the town of Sausalito for some food, before getting the ferry back across the bay.
9. Las Vegas, Nevada
The ultimate party hotspot – Sin City! The old saying of “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” rings true as you get engrossed in the pure opulence of one of the most “in your face” cities in the world. Vegas accounts for approx 60% of the BIGGEST hotels in the world and there is not a city on this earth that has more entertainment options. The type of Vegas holiday you go on could very well vary dramatically depending on who you go with – for example, a couples break would be entirely different than going as a group! It would take 2-3 visits to see the majority of everything that it has to offer.
Surprisingly though Vegas is actually very good value for a 5-7 night break compared to most other USA breaks away – but of course the cost of when you are there depends on how much you want to gamble, party and spend! But its entirely possible to head there on a budget holiday – and the year round sunshine certainly helps (although peak summer can get almost TOO hot!)
NInja Tip – the variety and range of hotel cost is quite startling – shop around, as you may prefer to keep your money for entertainment rather than a hotel room.
8. NYC, New York
“The City That Never Sleeps” New York City is so accessible these days. There are multiple airlines that fly direct from Dublin every single day, or you can go from Belfast City via London with British Airways. Arguably the most iconic and famous city in the world and will always be on a “most desirable list” of major holiday destinations for people around the world.
Times Square, Ground Zero, Central Park, Statue of Liberty – the list of “must-see” locations is endless!! Why not take in some sport while you are there and get that true USA sporting experience – ever wanted to see the Knicks at the Garden? And what about museums and galleries?? You may well need an extra couple of days to get around them all!
Visting “The Big Apple” is like visiting the BIGGEST movie set in the world – the amount of times you will realise you are standing in the spot where “so and so” was filmed!
NInja Tip – best value time of year to visit is February. Flight prices are always much of a muchness but hotel costs at this time of year are MUCH lower … but make sure to wrap up as its usually the coldest time of year!
7. Washington DC
The Nation’s Capital, Washington DC is actually a super choice for a family break – due to the large number of museums and historical landmarks plotted around the city. The Smithsonian consists of 20+ museums, galleries and even a zoo that are all accessible for zero cost. If you are a history buff you will easily fill days with the amount to see and visit.
And whilst its a major city in the States, Washington doesnt have that overpowering skyscraper culture (as no building can be taller than the Washington monument)
NInja Tip – Washington is a good hub to stay in to visit a lot of other surrounding areas, so why not hire a car for a couple of days and go exploring other neighbouring parts of Virginia and Maryland.
6. Boston, Massachusetts
Remarkably “Bean Town” was my first ever USA holiday way back in 1998 and its because of this that it will always hold a special place in my heart
With its links to the island of Ireland, Boston (and the surrounding New England area) is one of the more popular American destinations for people from this part of the world. A city that combines the old (with the history of the nation) with the new (modern brand new developments) – there is something for everyone in Boston.
Shopping, landmarks, museums, aquariums, parks, bus tours, etc – Boston is a superb family short break holiday destination with so much to see and do for all ages. Make sure you get yourself on one of the famous Boston Duck Tours – the best way to tour the city on land AND in water. While a visit to the oldest “ballpark” in America at Fenway Park to watch the Boston Red Sox is almost a right of passage for a trip here.
NInja Tip – get down to the docks and booked into a Whale Watching trip. Lasts approx 3 hours but is a great chance to get close to see some of nature’s greatest mammals, amazing experience.
5. Dallas, Texas
Some may think this is a surprising choice – but with a new direct route from Dublin that launched in 2019, I would massively recommend Dallas as a possible holiday destination for you. As they say “everything is bigger in Texas” and you do feel that way when you are driving around and see how things are built or portrayed!
As well as all the usual American fare – sports, shopping, food, culture, etc – Dallas has the JFK story which is completely enthralling and will ensure you leave with your own opinion on what you think happened that fateful day in November 1963.
Deep Ellum is the most up and coming district of the city – a hip trendy neighbourhood full of arts and vibrant entertainment venues. Perfect for your evenings out.
A short drive from Dallas itself is Fort Worth where you can see authentic cattle runs and rodeos almost daily!
And no trip to this area would be complete without seeing the absolutely incredible AT&T Stadium home of the world famous Dallas Cowboys – and a tour of this stadium (if you arent lucky enough to be there for game day) is something I would massively endorse.
NInja Tip – book a city bus tour that includes the JFK story. As well as a great way to get see the whole city, you get a comprehensive tour and commentary of the story and timeline of everything that happened
4. Chicago, Illinois
Chicago would rank as my favourite of all the big “skyscaper-style” MEGA cities in the States.
Due to the location (right on the edge of Lake Michigan) and the layout, you never feel as dwarfed by the HUGE skyscrapers like you do in perhaps somewhere like New York – surprising when you consider Chicago is the 3rd largest populated city in the country.
In the warmer spring / summer months (especially) the city comes alive – with Navy Pier the hub of all things with restaurants, entertainment, nightlife and sunset city views as good as you will ever see. And firework displays most Saturday nights!
And whilst throughout the country, sport is such a huge deal, you feel that Chicago really embraces the “sports mad” moniker that it has. If you dont check out a baseball game at historical Wrigley Field in the summer, or try and get to an ice hockey or american football game in the winter then you really are missing out.
NInja Tip – have you even been to Chicago if you havent had a PROPER Deep Dish Pizza?! Get yourself to Giordanos, Bartolis or Lous and get a feed!! They are a LOT more filling than you would think though!!
3. Nashville, Tennessee
The Deep South locations in the USA have become extremely popular over the last couple of years – mainly with the addition of the direct BA services from London – and whilst Memphis and New Orleans will always have regular visitors, arguably the most popular of the three is Nashville, Tennessee.
There is such a surge for Miami or Las Vegas bookings as the ultimate USA party hotspots – however Nashville is quickly making a name for itself due to the increasing numbers wanting to visit to experience southern hospitality, and to be in the birthplace of country music …. and Nashville is a little kinder on the $$$ compared to those other places!!
The Country Music Hall of Fame, Ryman Auditorium and the Grand Ole Opry are all worth visiting – you will get a sense and thrill to be in the same place as so many musical greats and legends.
“Broadway” is the main entertainment district and is full of bars, clubs, shops, tourist attractions, hotels, sports arenas, etc.
There are over 30 x “honky tonk” bars on Broadway and each one will have live music most of the time they are open (at times on multiple floors) – you will have no problem finding one that will suit your fancy!
NInja Tip – Get yourself over to the Wildhorse Saloon for some line dancing. No matter your skill or (lack of) ability there will be the opportunity to strut some serious moves!
2. Orlando, Florida
Surely the biggest and best family holiday hotspot in the world, Orlando will forever be a popular destination for people not just from these shores but ALL around the world. There is genuinely something for everyone in an Orlando holiday – no matter what you are looking for in a break away.
Walt Disney World comprises of 4 x theme parks, 2 x waterparks and a LOT MORE covering an area the same size of Greater Manchester. Universal Orlando has 2 x world class theme parks (which will change to 3 in a couple of years) as well as a waterpark and world class entertainment. Seaworld, Aquatica, Gator Land, the list goes on and on!
But there is more to this area than the theme parks – there are more golf courses in the Central Florida area than anywhere else in the world!! Shopping is a BIG attraction with many large traditional malls as well as the outlets bringing all the bargain hunters into town! You are also only a 45-90 min drive away from some of the best beaches in all of America – with the likes of Cocoa Beach, St Petes and Clearwater giving you the opportunity to feel the sand between your toes whilst watching the clear turquoise waters come into shore.
Year round sunshine is obviously a big factor in the amount of visitors as well – but in those peak summer months the humidity can get quite intense and short rainstorms can be quite common … although they only last 30 mins and before you know it the sky is clear again!
If you haven’t been before, then i urge you and your family to give it a go – wouldn’t surprise me at all if you end up going back year after year!
NInja Tip –plan plan PLAN!! If you are visiting Orlando for the first time it is essential you plan as much as possible as it can all be so daunting – especially if you are going at peak school holiday times when the parks are busier. Research as much as possible on the parks you are going to (maps, hours, restaurants, etc) and create a schedule for each day – where you are going and what you are doing.
1. Miami, Florida
What do you want from an American holiday? Easy to get to from this part of the world? Big city feel? Entertainment and sport? World class cuisine? Incredible nightlife? Year round sunshine? Well add all that to some of the BEST white sand beaches in the country and you get an idea on what is on offer in Miami.
When I say Miami, I mean Miami Beach – not the greater Miami area. If you are booking a Miami trip it will more than likely be on the beach (possibly Coconut Grove or Sunny Isles) but usually it will be either North or the more common South Beach. Thats not to say you wont go across to the downtown area for shopping, entertainment, sport, etc … but you will most likely be based and spend most of your time on Miami Beach.
Cruise holidays are becoming more and more popular and if you are taking a Caribbean cruise break there is a good chance you will start or end in Miami – my advice, ask your travel agent to give you a couple extra nights in town before flying home or sailing off on the cruise.
I make no apologies for how much I love Miami – it may be absolutely bonkers and insane (and the price of food and drink on South Beach especially is starting to get out of control!), but I love it. To put it into perspective, the best way I can describe Miami (and have done for many years) to those that have never been, is tell me what you think its like in your head, what you imagine it would be like … because chances are that’s EXACTLY how it is in some respect!
NInja Tip – very simple, people watching – its the number one thing to do in Miami! Take a spot on Ocean Drive, order a drink, maybe some food. Chillax to the max. And voila, minutes will turn into hours.
So thats my top 10 – to be honest the order would change on a daily basis based on how I feel and which places I long for more!! Still a lot of places to visit and will hopefully get to more new places very soon! How does this list compare to your own??
Check out all the USA holiday offers on our listings pages – or contact one of our lovely LOCAL NInja Travel Agencies and plan your next American ADVENTURE!!
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