Time to turn west – the north Americas. I’ve already done New York, southern California, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, parts of Florida and the Caribbean but not yet set foot in the rest of the USA, Canada or Central America
I’m aiming to put that right so here’s the top 10 places I am planning to visit as soon as I get the chance.
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, USA – somewhere I’ve dreamed of visiting since I can remember. When completed in 1937 it was the longest suspension bridge in the world stretching 1.6 miles. Pedestrians and cyclists can cross the bridge from the east side which sounds a must. Will also take a trip to Alcatraz while I’m here.
Habana Vieja, Cuba – with the opening of relations between Cuba and the US, I need to visit old Havana before it’s too late. The cobbled streets, pastel buildings and vintage all appeal so does the Cuban nightlife of dancing to the radio and playing dominoes. While here I’d also take in Malecon, the city’s most soulful and quintessentially Cunban thoroughfare, an 8km-long seafront esplanade.
Chichen Itza, Mexico – one of the new Seven Wonders of the World it is arguably the most famous Mayan ruin. From the imposing, monolithic El Castillo pyramid to the sacred Ceonote and curiously designed El Caracol you don’t have to be an archaeologist to enjoy it. With it being only two hours from Cancun visiting here could easily form part of a sunshine break. Also two hours from Cancun is Tulum with an impossibly jade-green sea lapping at a classic-looking Maya temple clinging to the Cliffside.
Big Sur, USA – had never heard of it until I opened my guidebook, shoehorned between California’s Santa Lucia Range and the Pacific Ocean there are no traffic lights, banks or strip malls meaning that at night the sun and stars are the only street lights. Big Sur attracts self-proclaimed artists, new-age mystics, latter-day hippies and city slickers, am sure I would fit in!
Niagra Falls, Canada – it may not be the tallest waterfall in the world or the widest but to me it’s the most well-known. More than a million bathtubs of water plummet downwards every second – you wonder how they count them! It’s just two hours drive from Toronto, another place I want to visit.
Parque Nacional Manuel Antonia, Costa Rica – the country’s tiniest national park is only 20 square kms. Well-marked trails wind through the rain forest where birds squawk and monkeys scamper. The trails emerge on to dreamy palm-fringed beaches, yielding glorious views across the turquoise sea.
Yosemite, USA – which of America’s national parks to priorities was my big decision. I’ve chosen Yosemite as the place where countless waterfalls burst out of the mountains, giant sequoias scratch the sky and sheer granite domes bubble from the land. I’d love to travel from San Francisco in a hired motorhome and spend a week or more based at one of the park’s various campsites.
National Mall, Washington DC, USA – dotted with the nation’s most iconic monuments and hallowed marble buildings. At the east end, the mighty domed US Capital rises up, next come 10 Smithsonian museums that hold everything from the Star-Spangled Banner flag to the Apollo Lunar Module. The powerful Vietnam Veterans Memorial and beloved Lincoln Memorial anbchor the west end.
Panama Canal – stretching 80km from Panama City to Colon on the Atlantic Coast, the canal provides passage for nearly 14,000 ocean-going vessels each year.
Art Institute of Chicago, USA – I love Hopper, Seurat, Picasso, Van Gogh and Monet, all artists that feature here. Also a great base for exploring this “toddling town” where they “do things they don’t do on Broadway”.