Things to know about the United States
- The United States of America, frequently referred to as The United States, America, and the U.S., is a vast and diverse country made up of 50 states. In addition to these 50 states, there is also a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and a number of possessions that contribute to its magnitude. By size, it is the third largest country in the world, and it almost ranks as the third largest in population, with over 329 million people dotted across the country.
- With so much on offer, the United States attracts over 70 million tourists every year, making tourism a significant part of the American economy.
- Each individual state sets its own speed regulations, so check those before arriving. Generally speaking, school zones have a limit of 10-20 miles per hour, residential areas are 20-35 miles per hour, a two lane highway has a limit of 55-65 miles per hour, while the motorways have an increased speed limit of 70 miles per hour. Keep an eye out for road signs that will tell you about any changes to the limit.
Some rules of the road
- Remember to drive on the right hand side of the road.
- There are plenty of toll roads across America, so make sure you carry change.
- Don’t use your phone will driving.
- While on a roundabout, drivers on the left have right of way.
- Stay in your vehicle if you’re pulled over by police.
- You cannot overtake school buses.
These are just a few key laws to help guide you, and it is important to also do your own research so that you are fully in the know. Be sure to check the local laws of the particular State and area of America you are visiting, and be aware that rules are subject to change.
Car Hire in American Airports
The advantages to booking a hire car in advance from a website such as ours gives you the opportunity to have greater choice when choosing your vehicle, and also allows you to save money with our 5% online discount. Dependent on your requirements, destination, and the time of year you are booking, costs will vary, but car hire can be as little as $15 a day. Car hire agencies that are common in the airports of the United States are Alamo, Thrifty, Enterprise, Sixt, Fox, and Hertz.
Guide to the USA
Due to how big it is, nine time zones operate in the USA. Moving from West to East, these are; Chamorro Standard Time, Samoa Standard Time, Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time, Alaskan Standard Time, Pacific Standard Time, Mountain Standard Time, Central Standard Time, Eastern Standard Time, and Atlantic Standard Time. Four of these are in place on the mainland of the US; Pacific (PST), Mountain (MST), Central (CST), and Eastern (EST). You’ll often be reminded of this while watching television, when screening times are advertised in multiple time zones.
The United States is often described to be a ‘melting pot’, a term attributed to this country because of the varied origins of the country’s population, due to over 1.3 million people immigrating to the U.S. from Europe between 1600 and 1820. Also during this time, 1.5 million slaves were brought to America, mostly from the continent of Africa. As a result, 21st century America is full of different and vibrant cultures that should all be celebrated in their cohabitation and blending.
American food & eating
As part of the U.S. ‘melting pot’, there is a great wealth of delicious food available, with customs and traditions that have been contributed from almost every region in the world. Classically American food includes the apple pie, which is a notable cultural icon and remembered food item from the country. Hotdogs and hamburgers are also popular choices, and they traditionally came from Germany before being adopted by America. Italian immigrants brought pizza to the United States, and various states have adopted their own personal style. For example, many Americans will debate over whether Chicago style is better than a New York Slice, with the former having a much thicker base and the latter thin enough to be folded. Likewise, every state boasts their own regional favourites, and experiencing the local cuisine is a great way to get to know where you are staying.
A classic American road trip is on many people’s bucket list, and there are plenty of exciting and breathtaking routes to choose from all the way up and down the fifty states. The Badlands Loop, found in the National Park of South Dakota, is about thirty miles long and showcases the gorgeous views of spires, canyons, striped rock walls and lush grasslands, with the option of camping in the area also on offer. For a much longer journey – over 280 miles – and an opportunity to take in an intriguing blend of different cultures along the way, the Zydeco-Cajun Prairie Scenic Byway in Louisiana will take you from French-speaking Cajuns to wide open prairies. It is largely underrated, and well worth the trip. Drive your way through history with the East Narragansett Bay route from East Providence to Newport, with the thirty mile journey full of chances to stop off: take a break on a walk in Bristol’s Colt State Park or experience farm-life in the Coggeshall Farm Museum.
Places to Visit in the USA
There are plenty of destinations ready for all history buffs to get stuck in and be transported to the early days of the United States. Washington D.C. is not only home to the impressive White House, but the world’s largest library, the Library of Congress, and the wonderfully preserved city of Georgetown. Boston, Massachusetts similarly has a number of national historic landmarks, with the Bunker Hill Museum, Harvard University, and the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum on offer. In Pennsylvania, Gettysburg has the Shriver House Museum with a fascinating Civilian Experience, and the Gettysburg Lincoln Railroad Station, so you can see exactly where Abraham Lincoln visited in order to deliver the famous Gettysburg Address in 1863.
The United States is full of some of the most popular tourist and holiday destinations on the planet. If you’re looking for an exciting and invigorating city break, visits the city that never sleeps – New York City. Take a stroll through Central Park, take in a show on Broadway, and shop until you drop in some of the best retail destinations there are. Hawaii can offer a more relaxing holiday, full of gorgeous sandy beaches and clear blue water for lounging and soaking in the sun. Orlando in Florida is a favourite for families all over the world, flocking in great numbers to attractions like the Walt Disney World Resort, which is immensely popular in this particular location, or Legoland, Seaworld, and the Universal Orlando Resort. All of them are geared towards families, and make for an unforgettable trip away. With a rich and diverse culinary scene, a famous zoo, beaches and bays as well as exhilarating theme parks, San Diego is another brilliant tourist location, found in California.
However, if you wanted something more off the beaten track, there are a great many underrated gems scattered about the United States of America. In Alaska, the Denali National Park is a breathtaking place to visit, full of untouched wilderness so that you can get in touch with nature in all its glory. With six million acres of wild land and only one road interrupting it, you can see gorgeous animals living in the wild as they always have. While Florida is normally primarily associated with Orlando, St. Augustine is a beautiful and historic place to visit to see a whole new side to this southern state. Plenty of historic landmarks and sandy beaches await you in this impressive place. An underappreciated city break is that of Philadelphia, home to the Independence Hall – the spot in which the Declaration of Independence was signed – famous cheesesteaks and a roaring nightlife, Philadelphia serves as a worthy alternative to New York City and Washington D.C.
Getting to and from the USA
Across the United States of America, there are just under three hundred commercial service airports in operation. The Federal Aviation Administration has designated a list of primary airports, defined as those that host more than 10,000 passenger boardings each year, and have scheduled passenger services. The busiest and most popular American airports include; Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Miami International Airport (MIA), Logan International Airport (BOS), O’Hare International Airport (ORD), and the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL).
No matter where you decide to go, make the most out of your trip by hiring a car and taking advantage of the brilliance that all of America has to offer.
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