USA, Canada & Mexico Know Before You Go (US Eng)
Thank you for choosing Trafalgar to show you the insider’s view of the USA, Canada and Mexico. A wealth of experience has taught us that your journey begins well before you leave home. So we have compiled this guide to provide you with as much information as possible to help you prepare for your travels. We look forward to welcoming you on the trip of a lifetime!
USA, Canada & Mexico Know Before You Go A step by step guide to your Trafalgar trip. Your insider’s journey begins… Thank you for choosing Trafalgar to show you the insider’s view of the USA, Canada and Mexico. A wealth of experience has taught us that your journey begins well before you leave home. So we have compiled this guide to provide you with as much information as possible to help you prepare for your travels. We look forward to welcoming you on the trip of a lifetime! Your insiders at Trafalgar. Manhattan, New York Before you go… Travel Documents A couple of weeks prior to your vacation you will receive your Trafalgar wallet with your travel documents and literature. These documents are valuable and contain a wealth of advice and essential information to make your vacation as enjoyable as possible. Please read them carefully before your departure. Mexico Guided Vacations International visitors are required to carry a valid machine readable passport and MUST be valid for a minimum period of 6 months beyond the last day of your trip, regardless of how long you intend to stay. All US citizens require passports to return to the USA (a birth / naturalization certificate and driver’s license is no longer sufficient). Holders of American, Australian, Canadian, British/EU Member Country, New Zealand and Israeli passports do not need a visa to visit Mexico. Holders of other passports should check with their local Mexican Consulate for details of visa requirements. You can see a list of countries and get the latest entry information from the Mexican Consulate’s website. For participating countries (see paragraph above) in place of a visa, a Mexican Visitor’s Permit (known as an FMM) will need to be completed. This is a simple form, which can be picked up from the check-in counter at the airport and completed on the airplane before you land. You can also obtain this form when you land in Mexico and fill it out before you queue to have your documents checked and stamped by the officials at the airport. Please be sure to check with your local US, Canadian, and/or Mexican Consulate or Embassy before you travel to confirm the specific and possible changes to visa requirements for the country or countries you intend to visit. You can find a directory of the world’s Embassies and Consulates at www.embassyworld.com Passports and Visas Guests traveling across any US, Canadian or Mexican border must be in possession of a machine-readable passport that must be valid for at least six months beyond the conclusion of your trip. It is the responsibility of each guest to ensure they have a valid machine-readable passport as well as any necessary visas. Some itineraries may require multiple-entry visas. Before you travel, be sure to check with your local US, Canadian and/or Mexican Consulate to confirm the specific and possible changes to passport and visa requirements for the countries you intend to visit. The operators and/or their employees and their agents are not responsible for passport, visa requirements, entry, health or other requirements of the countries visited or for any loss sustained by you for failing to comply with laws, regulations, orders and/or requirements of the countries visited. Note: Effective January 20, 2010, passengers traveling from selected countries under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) are now required to complete the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) application to confirm eligibility to travel to the United States of America under the VWP. For more information, please visit https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov and contact your Travel Agent or applicable government authorities to obtain necessary travel information. Travel Insurance We strongly recommend that you take out a comprehensive travel insurance policy that covers you the entire time you are away from home. Your policy should cover the following: • • • • Trip cancellation or curtailment Loss or damage to property and baggage Loss of cash, traveler’s checks, etc. Medical costs and personal accident (Even US and Canadian residents traveling within North America should check their policies to ensure coverage outside of their local area.) Canada Guided Vacations International visitors to Canada must carry a valid machinereadable passport. All US citizens require passports to enter Canada and return to the USA (a birth/naturalization certificate and driver’s license is no longer sufficient). Citizens of some countries are exempt from visitor visas such as Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Botswana, Brunei, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel (National Passport holders only), Italy, Japan, Korea (Republic of), Latvia (Republic of), Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Portugal, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, Slovenia, Switzerland, United States, and Western Samoa. Please visit www.canadainternational.gc.ca for more details and updated information. Please ensure you pack a copy of your policy, contact phone numbers and instructions on how to claim in the unlikely event that it is necessary. Trafalgar’s Express Check-In Trafalgar’s Express Check-In is an online check-in facility that allows you to provide all your essential details and preferences to Trafalgar, prior to your departure, so that you don’t have to fill in any additional forms on the first day of your vacation. In order for your Travel Director to receive your information, we recommend that you complete Express Check-In at least 15 days prior to your departure date. If it is already less than 15 days before your departure, please complete the registration form, print it and hand it to your Travel Director on the first day of your guided vacation. Check-in takes 5-10 minutes. From Australia go to: www.trafalgar.com/express/aus_index.htm From New Zealand go to: www.trafalgar.com/express/nz_index.htm From UK go to: www.trafalgar.com/express/uk_index.htm From Europe go to: www.trafalgar.com/express/eu_index.htm From South Africa go to: www.trafalgar.com/express/sa_index.htm From Asia go to: www.trafalgar.com/express/gsa_index.htm yourself with appropriate insurance. Packing When traveling as a couple, pack each suitcase with day and evening clothing for each person, so that in the unlikely event one of your suitcases is mislaid on your flight, you’ll still be able to manage. Ensure that your personal and vacation details are written on a label inside each suitcase (including name, address, telephone number, departure and return flight details). Write only your name and destination address on outside labels. Make sure that your luggage is in good secure condition, and use a TSA approved lock for US security checkpoints. When carrying fragile items, use a rigid style suitcase for protection. Check in only your own suitcases. Do not carry items packed by other people. Never accept packages or articles from anyone unknown to you to carry on board the aircraft. There are strict airport security regulations on items that may be carried on board aircraft such as liquids/gels and metal objects. Visit the Transportation Security Administration’s website at www.tsa.gov for information on these and other restricted items and how they must be displayed at airport security checkpoints. We suggest you pack only essential items for daytime use in your hand-baggage, both for your flight and while on the coach. For example, your camera, medicines, anything that you use frequently or is particularly valuable. Expensive jewelry, clothing, etc. should be left at home for your peace of mind. Luggage Luggage Allowance This is restricted to one large suitcase per person with dimensions not exceeding 30x19x10” (76x45x25 cm) and a maximum weight of 50 lb (23 kg). Hotel porterage of this luggage is included in your vacation price. 19” 30” Hand Luggage Hand luggage should be one piece per person and small enough to fit under your coach seat or on the small overhead shelf compartment. This is your responsibility and should be carried on/off the coach with you. Please note that luggage with an adjustable handle and wheels will not fit in the overhead compartment of the coach and cannot be accepted as carry-on luggage. Your understanding and cooperation is appreciated, particularly as it is necessary for your safety and comfort. If a second suitcase is carried, or if it exceeds the permitted weight and / or dimensions, it is subject to capacity of the coach and may be declined or incur a fee. Please see the full booking terms and conditions on the inside back cover of the brochure your trip relates to. Airlines may have additional restrictions and may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage. Please contact your airline or refer to its website for detailed information regarding airline’s checked baggage policies. Please note that airport porterage at the beginning and end of your guided vacation is not included. Loss or damage to luggage or any of your belongings is at your own risk, so please protect Climate Depending on where you are traveling, North America features many different climates. The Western US July, August and September are the hottest months of the year in the Western United States. Daytime temperatures in desert areas, including Las Vegas, can exceed 110F (43C). Once the sun sets, however, temperatures may drop as low as 50F (10C). Western Canada This stunning region provides a contrast of temperatures, from the hot, arid interior of British Columbia to the cool nights of the Rockies’ resorts. In the shoulder seasons (April/ May/June; September/October) early morning and evening temperatures are typically 38-50F (4-10C) and day time temperatures are typically 58-70F (14-20C). In July and August, daytime temperatures are typically 70-94F (20-32C). Snow is likely in April, May and October. Guests traveling during the shoulder seasons on vacations that incorporate the Canadian Rockies will need to bring a warm, windproof and waterproof jacket. A warm sweater/ jumper, hat and gloves are also recommended. The Northeast Temperatures typically range between 60-80F (15-32C) during summer months and 50-60F (10-15C) in the fall; however, be prepared for the occasional extremes. A jacket and sweater are recommended for travel during the fall. The Southern States Just about any time is the right time to visit the South. Spring (March-May) and fall (September-November) temperatures range from 60-80F (15-32C). Cool casual wear is recommended with a light sweater and jacket. Light showers in the summer and occasional heavy downpours in the spring and fall make a raincoat and umbrella a good idea. Hawaii Temperatures average 82F (28C) year round, with an average high of 85F (30C) in August. Winter is mild with an average low of 78F (26C). Casual light cotton clothing and aloha shirts for men and muumuus for women are accepted everywhere. Mexico The climate varies according to altitude and time of year. Coastal areas and lowlands are hot and steamy with high humidity, while the central plateau is temperate even in winter. The climate of the inland highlands is mostly mild, but sharp changes in temperature occur between day and night. The cold lands lie above 6,600 feet. Rainfall varies greatly from region to region and time of year, but is generally most intense from mid-August to mid-September. The rainy season is more moderate in the north and progressively more intense the further south one travels. All other areas have rainless seasons, while the northern and central areas of the central plateau are dry and arid. There is some snow in the north in winter. The dry season runs from October to May. Mexico’s Copper Canyon is warm year round, however it can be quite cool during the winter months, especially at night. The canyon rim may experience freezes from November through March; the bottom of the canyon may get cool enough for a sweater. During the rest of the year, it is hot below and cool above. June through September is the rainy season, when the canyons are lush. Rain usually falls late afternoon, so you can still enjoy most of the day, but bring a light rain jacket. Most essential is comfortable footwear, which will allow you to enjoy each day’s sightseeing activities. In the Yucatan region, you can expect days of 70-90F with nights dropping down to 60-70F. The rainy season spans from June to October with the most intense rains occurring in August – September. In the Colonial cities of southern Mexico, you can expect days of 60-80F with nights dropping down to 50-65F. While drier than the south, there is still a notable wetter season that spans from late July to early October with the peak falling in late August/early September. recommend casual, lightweight, drip-dry clothing that requires little or no ironing. Laundry facilities are available at most of the places we stay, however, take sufficient clothing to last for about a week. If your itinerary visits National Parks or if you are traveling in Mexico, you may need to walk up steep hills or over rough and uneven ground, so comfortable walking shoes are advisable. Below is a list of items to consider packing for your Trafalgar vacation: Clothing Swimsuit Undergarments Sandals Socks Hat Sleepwear Shorts/skirts Jeans/trousers Warm jacket Pullover/cardigan Waterproof jacket Shirts/blouses Good walking shoes General Items Spare batteries/charger Medications & prescriptions Toiletries Insect repellent Travel sewing kit Plastic bags Water bottle (screw top lid) Sachets of washing powder Essentials Passport & Visas (where applicable) Traveler’s Checks/Cash Trafalgar documents Travel insurance policy Credit cards Airline tickets Camera/memory cards Power plug adapters/converter Collapsible umbrella Suntan lotion Pocket calculator Travel alarm clock Sunglasses Money belt or holster NB Do not pack your passport (if an international visitor) or money in your suitcase. Tip: Weed out your wallet prior to leaving. Only take the essential identifiers like your drivers license and just two credit cards - one to carry another to be locked in your hotel room safe. Do not carry your social security number on you. Special Notes for Rail/Cruise Vacations Train Vacations – For guests joining itineraries featuring the Rocky Mountaineer rail journey in Canada, please note that guests traveling in RedLeaf service will need to bring an overnight bag as your main luggage will not be available during the train journey. Please ensure your overnight bag is large enough for your clothing, toiletries, medication and other personal items required until you reach your destination. Guests traveling in GoldLeaf service will have access to their main luggage during the overnight stay. Details on the inclusions at the RedLeaf and GoldLeaf Service Level will be provided upon boarding the train. Passengers traveling on VIA Rail in Canada and the El Chepe train to the Copper Canyon in Mexico will require an overnight bag for your train journey. What to Bring This will depend upon your personal preferences, where you are traveling to and the time of year you are traveling. We generally Your main luggage will not be available while traveling on the train. Please ensure your overnight bag is large enough for your clothing, toiletries, medication and other personal items required until you reach your destination. Please note that both Rocky Mountaineer and VIA Rail offer an entirely smoke-free experience. The non-smoking policy extends to all cars, vestibules, washrooms, lounges and private spaces. Cruise Itineraries – For guests cruising in Alaska, you will need to bring a warmer jacket for various outdoor activities. Most evenings, smart casual clothing is suitable for the dining room – ladies in dresses, skirt/slacks and sweater/blouse; gentlemen in collared shirts/sweaters and slacks. On festive formal evenings such as Captain’s Night, ladies usually wear a cocktail dress or gown and gentlemen wear a suit and tie or tuxedo. There are usually two formal nights per week. with your travel agent or consulate to ensure that vaccination requirements have not changed. Make Friends Before You Go When you travel with Trafalgar you will have the opportunity to meet new and interesting people from around the world. You can meet up with your fellow traveling companions by visiting Trafalgar’s Online Community. Read posts from fellow travelers in our Online Forum and register for My Community, your private travel group portal. Visit www.trafalgar.com/community and click on the links at the bottom of the page. Budgeting Trafalgar itineraries include many features that will save you money on your trip – if you study your itinerary pages in the Trafalgar brochure you will see how many highlight visits and other sightseeing is included, as well as meals and entertainment. However, you’ll find you have plenty of time to explore independently during your vacation, so we recommend you budget for the following extra expenses per person: Health Our trips are not rigorous expeditions, but they can be physically demanding. Trafalgar assumes no liability regarding provision of medical care. Members are urged to check their insurance coverage to be sure it is adequate. For remote excursions, each trip member will receive a medical questionnaire, which must be completed and signed. In general, you must be in good health to participate on one of our adventures; it is vital that persons with medical problems make them known to us well before departure. The Travel Director and/or Trafalgar have the right to disqualify any member from the group at any time if considered medically necessary or to avoid endangering the group, or if the participant in question is physically unfit for the rigors of the trip. Refunds are not given under such circumstances. Travelers should have a personal supply of any special medications that they may need and bring a copy of the prescriptions. For easy access when traveling, please keep all your medication in your hand luggage, not in your suitcases. Carry prescription drugs in their original package to avoid customs questions if traveling internationally. It must be understood that Trafalgar is not a medical facility and therefore has neither expertise nor responsibility regarding what medications or inoculations you require guidance on. Please consult your private physician for your safe participation in the trip. If you have any existing medical conditions, dietary requirements or disability that should be brought to our attention, it is essential that you inform us via your travel agent. Medical and hospital treatment in the US is very expensive, so adequate medical insurance is a must. Vaccinations Generally inoculations are not necessary for travelers in North America. However, we recommend that you check Personal Expenditure As a rough guide, we suggest that you budget US/C$30-60 per day to cover incidental expenses such as non-included meals, drinks, laundry, tips, souvenirs, gifts and optional sightseeing. However, this also depends on how much you spend on shopping as there’s plenty to tempt you in the US, Canada and Mexico! Optional Excursions Experience has shown us that most guests participate in these excursions and you should therefore budget for them in advance. Please read your travel documents prior to the start of your vacation for prices and information on any optional excursions you may wish to participate in. Money If traveling from another country, try to arrive at your first destination with at least a small amount of local currency in cash for initial expenses. Please note that US dollars are accepted virtually everywhere in Canada and Mexico, although the exchange rate may not be the most favorable. Bank Machines – ATMs/ABMs are available throughout most parts of North America. Most accept Star, Cirrus, Plus or Interlink systems. There may be a charge to use ATMs in some areas. While a convenient way to obtain cash in different areas, you should not totally rely on bank machines during your vacation. Traveler’s Checks – Traveler’s Checks are still the safest way to carry money while on vacation. Always bring checks in US dollars, as foreign currency checks are very difficult to exchange in the US. Smaller denominations ($10 and $20) are easiest to use. Although US Traveler’s Checks are widely accepted throughout Canada and Mexico, there will be an additional conversion charge. You may choose to bring both US and Canadian Traveler’s Checks if you plan on traveling in both countries. • • • • • • Credit Cards Credit Cards are widely accepted throughout North America and can be used in most shops, restaurants and other establishments. Visa and MasterCard are most widely accepted. American Express and Discover Cards are also accepted, but not as frequently. While credit cards are a great way to pay for expenses along the way, it may be difficult to use them to obtain cash at local banks. In addition, if you are traveling through more remote areas, there may be difficulties using credit cards. Please ensure you have enough cash or Traveler’s Checks to carry you through your trip. If you make any purchases by credit card, you may be charged based on the exchange rate at the time the credit card company invoices your account and many banks charge an exchange fee. Please remember to keep a copy of your credit card details, traveler’s check numbers and emergency contact numbers in your suitcase, just in case. The following offers some useful tips on using credit cards on your vacation: • Call your credit card company to advise them you will be traveling, as some companies will block the credit card when they notice unusual charge activity. Ensure you memorize your Personal Identification Number (PIN); do not write it down. Ensure that your credit card is kept in view at all times when paying for goods and services. Retain all copies of sales vouchers until you have verified them against your statements. Make sure your credit card is carried on your person. Never leave your credit card unattended in your hotel room, a vehicle or any other place. Report immediately the loss or theft of your credit card. Banking Hours US and Canadian banks are normally open Monday to Friday, 9 am – 4 pm and some on Saturday mornings. Banks do not usually exchange foreign currencies or Traveler’s Checks; likewise, there are relatively few exchange bureaus outside of airports in the United States. Banks in Mexico are normally open Monday to Friday, 9 am – 4 pm, although some branches remain open until 7 pm. Banking services for currency exchange and Traveler’s Checks are only offered between 9 am – 1.30 pm. Most hotels will cash a daily amount of Traveler’s Checks in US dollars for guests. Your Travel Director will be able to assist you with information about the banking facilities in each area you visit. Mail Prior to departing you should stop your mail or arrange for a neighbor to collect it. A full mailbox can be a treasure trove for hackers and identity thieves. Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC While you are traveling... Note: This section applies to guests traveling on a Trafalgar guided vacation, not those traveling with an affiliated guided vacation company. Hotels On every Trafalgar itinerary, you will stay in some amazing places, specially chosen for you to experience the real North America. Ranging from resorts and lodges in special locations, to hotels at the center of the action in towns and cities; each night’s stop is as varied as the places you will visit. On certain occasions, for operational or local reasons, it may be necessary to change your hotel accommodations in a particular location. If this does occur, you will be notified of such changes as soon as possible. Hotel Accommodations Prices are per person and based on two persons sharing a two-bedded room with private bath and/or shower. Triple occupancy is based on three people sharing one room with two beds. Triple rooms may not be comfortable for three adults sharing and roll-away beds are not included in triple prices. Quad occupancy is based on four people sharing one room with two beds; roll-away beds are not included. Quad occupancy is strictly reserved for families traveling with young children and is not available for four adults sharing. No-Smoking Policy Trafalgar operates non-smoking vacations in North America. Additionally many hotels in North America are now 100% smoke-free. This smoke-free policy includes all guest rooms, restaurants, lounges, meeting rooms, public spaces and employee work areas. Smoking in a non-smoking room will result in a fine of up to US$350 per room. The following hotel chains are completely non-smoking: • • • Marriott (Courtyard, Marriott, Renaissance, Residence Inn) Hilton (Doubletree, Hilton) Starwood (Sheraton, Westin, Four Points) Your Travel Director and Coach Driver Throughout your Trafalgar guided vacation you will be accompanied by a professional Travel Director and experienced Coach Driver. A Trafalgar Travel Director is more than just a guide. They are seasoned and experienced travelers, specially selected for their in-depth knowledge of the regions you will visit. They will enrich your experience with informative commentary on the history, culture and natural landscape of the region and reveal the hidden places that only an insider would know. They will also introduce you to your traveling companions and make you feel welcome. Trafalgar’s Coach Drivers are fully licensed, qualified and experienced professionals who are selected for their impeccable driving skills and record. Your Vacation Trafalgar’s philosophy is that it’s your vacation and you should have the freedom to enjoy yourself as you wish. However, a great deal of planning goes into your itinerary to ensure you see all the main sights in the places visited. Trafalgar ensures you enjoy a full sightseeing experience in all major towns and cities visited on your itinerary. Local sightseeing is conducted by qualified Local Guides who are eager to share their vast knowledge and love of the local history and culture. In other places, your Travel Director will give you a brief orientation drive or walk to familiarize you with the locality, usually on the way to your hotel. Optional Excursions While we include many sightseeing activities in the price of your vacation, we offer a range of optional visits, activities and local meals to enhance your experience throughout your trip. Your travel documents include a comprehensive day-by-day itinerary with full details and costs of the optional excursions available. Optional excursions can be booked through your Travel Director at the beginning of your guided vacation. Payments for these optional extras can be made in cash, traveler’s checks or credit cards. Please note that optional excursions and prices may vary due to seasonal conditions and minimum participant requirements, and are subject to change without notice. Hotel Check-in & Check-out Arrangements are made to ensure that check-in and checkout at hotels run smoothly, and your Travel Director will advise you in advance of the procedure before arriving at each hotel. On departing the hotel, always remember to return your room key to reception before boarding the coach! Personal Hotel Expenses Any additional costs incurred during your stay at the hotels (for example, laundry, telephone calls and bar bills) are your responsibility. Please ensure that your account is settled on the evening before you leave to ensure a smooth and speedy departure the following morning. Your Motor Coach Modern, air-conditioned coaches have been carefully selected by Trafalgar with your comfort, safety and scenic viewing in Trafalgar Noticeboards During your trip, your Travel Director will normally post a daily notice with details of the program schedule in the hotel lobby. Please check this regularly for the most up-to-date information and be ready at the specified times. mind. Your Trafalgar team will explain all the safety features of your coach at the beginning of your trip. For the comfort of all travelers, Trafalgar enforces a no-alcohol and no-smoking policy on board the coach. Our coaches are equipped with DVD and/or CD players. Please note that antiseptic, bandages and other over-thecounter medications such as aspirin are not carried on the coach. Your Travel Director will be able to direct you as to where these items may be purchased locally should you need them. Porterage Your coach crew is always there to lend a hand and to liaise closely with hotels to ensure efficient handling of your luggage. Seat Rotation Where appropriate, our seat rotation scheme ensures you get to know your fellow traveling companions and enjoy the views from a different vantage point each day. A Clean Coach Your driver is responsible for the coach inside and out. Please assist by eating and drinking on board as little as possible. No Smoking For the comfort of all travelers, smoking is not permitted on board our coaches, but smokers need not worry – frequent comfort and relaxation stops are made along the way. Onboard Restroom Coaches on all itineraries in North America are equipped with restrooms. While you are free to use this facility whenever required, your Travel Director will suggest that you make use of the facilities available at our frequent comfort stops. Water USA and Canada Tap water is perfectly safe to drink throughout the United States and Canada, with few exceptions. You may wish to carry a small bottle of water with you throughout the day to ensure you are sufficiently hydrated. Bottled water is available for sale on motor coaches in the USA and Canada. Mexico In Mexico, always drink bottled water or purified water (agua purificada) and request purified ice in your drinks. If you are unsure, ask. In general, people in Mexico are quite aware of the importance of drinking pure water and ice, but it never hurts to check in advance. When eating, please ensure that the plate you’re served on is dry and the servers aren’t touching the food with their bare hands. In addition, when brushing your teeth, it is recommended to use bottled water. Keeping Healthy Life on a guided vacation may be quite different from your normal lifestyle, with early mornings and late nights, changes of weather, temperature, food, water, etc. making it easier for you to catch the common cold, the flu or aggravate an existing medical condition. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth and make sure to wash your hands often, especially before eating and after using the restroom. We encourage you to bring a travel-sized hand sanitizer for those occasions when soap and water aren’t available or convenient. If at any time on your guided vacation you require a doctor, please inform your Travel Director who will arrange this for you. Ensure that you keep receipts for the doctor’s visits, medicines and any other expenses incurred, as you will need them to claim on your insurance. Meals Your vacation cost includes the meals indicated in your specific itinerary. Breakfasts on our itineraries consist of a full American breakfast served at the hotel (unless otherwise noted on your itinerary). Lunches are generally not included in your vacation price, but we will ensure that you have inexpensive and healthy options across the continent. From hamburgers to salads – almost any type of lunch is available at the right price – allow US/CA $10-15 per day. Included dinners feature a variety of menus to reflect local cuisine. From a gourmet meal on the lavishly restored Napa Valley Wine Train to an authentic cowboy-style barbecue on a Wyoming ranch, we strive to give you a real taste of North America. There are times when dinner is not included so that you will have free time and the opportunity to sample your own choice of local cuisine. Your Travel Director will always have a number of suggestions, just right to fit your taste and budget. When not specified on an included meal, drinks are always at your own expense. Shopping Your Travel Director can direct you to local markets and shopping areas but cannot guarantee to find you the lowest price. However, North America is a shopper’s paradise full of unique and interesting items. Business hours for shopping in North America are usually seven days a week, 9 am – 8 pm in most major cities. Smaller places may close on Sunday. In Mexico, some hotter, non-tourist regions may close between 2 pm and 4 pm. You may want to check locally for more information. Various tax concessions and duty-free shopping may be available to international visitors; however, they may vary depending on the amount spent. You must present documentation (passport and/or visa) that you are a foreign national or non-resident. Your Travel Director will be pleased to assist with information, but Trafalgar cannot be responsible for any subsequent queries. Tipping We are confident that by the end of your trip you will have come to appreciate the important role your Travel Director and Coach Driver have played in giving you the best possible vacation experience. If you have been pleased with their services, you may wish to express this satisfaction with a gratuity, as is customary throughout the world. Since this is a matter of a private and individual nature, you should seal your tip in an envelope to present to each of them separately at the end of your vacation. Suggested tipping rates (per person traveling) for your Trafalgar team in North America are US/C$5-6 per day for your Travel Director, US/C$3 per day for your Coach Driver, and US/C$2 for a Local Guide (when applicable). Your guided vacation price includes tips and service charges for your included meals, accommodations (excluding room service) and porterage, but at other times we suggest the following as a guide to general tipping practices in North America: • • • • Room service waiter: US/C$1-2 Taxis: 10% of the fare on the meter Cocktail server/bartender: 50c per drink Restaurant server: 15-20% of the total bill. It is appropriate to include the tip in the total when paying by credit card, or to leave a tip on the table with the bill when you leave. How do I join? Use your credit card to set up an account at www.Trafalgar.eKit.com or call 24-hour customer service. Join before you go and receive a Trafalgar eKIT joining bonus! How do I use it? Your account number and PIN gives you access to all the phone and web based services. To make a call, simply use the toll-free access numbers for the country you are in, which you will find listed on your eKIT card, or at www.Trafalgar.eKit.com How long does it last? eKIT is a rechargeable service – simply recharge your account using your credit card at www.Trafalgar.eKit.com or call their 24-hour customer service. Ask about the monthly recharge bonus. Is it competitive? Yes – you may find cheaper phone cards in major cities – but you can only use them in the country of purchase and may not be in a language you understand. The advantages of eKIT: • • • • It can be used from 70+ countries. You can call over 200 countries. You can recharge the card as you travel. You can use any balance remaining once you get home. Photography Bring extra batteries and memory cards. Depending on the destination, use re-sealable plastic bags to protect camera equipment from dampness. Never leave a camera in a hotel room or elsewhere unattended. Emailing Home E-mail is now a cheap and easy way to keep in touch. Internet cafes are available in many cities throughout North America, and many hotels offer Internet services to their clientele at a cost much lower than making a phone call. In Mexico, most cities have at least one Internet cafe. Look for signs reading Accesso a Internet or Cibernautica or Cibercafe. Charges range from approximately US$1-3 per hour depending on the location. Internet access charges in hotels can be significantly more expensive. Tip: Be careful with hotel computers. Do not access financial data on hotel or public computers or on public wi-fi networks. Staying In Touch Phoning home from hotels can be very expensive since all hotels add a service charge to the cost of any phone calls you make from your room and this charge can be very high. It is always cheaper for you to use public telephones (pay phones). Alternatively, you could use an eKIT phonecard. What is eKIT? eKIT is your global phone card and web communication service designed to keep you in touch with family and friends while you’re traveling. eKIT provides: • • • • • • Low cost international calls Send and receive voice mails Free email service Send SMS text messages from the web An online travel vault for secure storage of important documents (e.g. passport number) 24-hour customer service. Security North America is generally a safe and friendly place with people as warm and helpful as any on the globe. In today’s world, security is an important consideration while traveling. By using common sense, most unpleasant situations can be avoided. We recommend that you: • Carry copies of all your important documents in your hand luggage. Include a copy of your passport, credit card numbers and Traveler’s Checks, as well as airline tickets and other documents. Never accept packages or articles from anyone unknown to you to carry on board an aircraft. For more information check out the Trafalgar eKIT phone card in your travel wallet or go to www.Trafalgar.eKit.com • • We recommend you use a hotel security box for valuables, passports, money, etc. as hotels will not accept responsibility for these items left in your room. If you plan to use taxis on your own in major cities, contact the front desk of your hotel in order to arrange a secure mode of transportation. Stick to areas with a lot of people; however be aware in crowded areas that may tend to attract pickpockets. Never leave your luggage and other personal items unattended when in public places such as airports, hotel lobbies and restaurants. Carry your valuables in a special money belt or in a bag that you can carry strapped across your front. Upon arriving at each hotel, locate the nearest fire exit, directions to which must be posted in each guest room. Visit www.tsa.gov for the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) website. There are preparations you can make before you arrive at airports to help you move more quickly and efficiently through security processes. If you need to make cash withdrawals, ATMs in bank lobbies are less vulnerable to devices that capture your credit card information - as they generally have camera surveillance. • These recommendations will help you make your Trafalgar vacation as hassle-free as possible. If you are unsure about security while on vacation, your Travel Director will provide you with the best advice. Public Holidays and Changes During local or national holidays, certain facilities such as museums, sightseeing tours and shopping may be limited, so we sometimes have to make slight itinerary adjustments. Also, local holidays, closing days and other circumstances may change the day of the week that is planned for scheduled meals, sightseeing and other included activities. • • • • • Guest Feedback Your feedback is always welcomed. Towards the end of your trip, your Travel Director will hand out a feedback questionnaire. We ask that you answer the questions, make any relevant comments and hand it back to your Travel Director. The questionnaires are sealed and returned to our Head Office. Every sheet is read and a summary of each vacation is given to management, and where necessary, appropriate action is taken to rectify any problems. • Airline Telephone Numbers The following phone numbers are for your use while on vacation. All international flights must be confirmed 72 hours prior to departure from the USA. Airline Aer Lingus Air France Air New Zealand Alitalia American Austrian British Airways Continental Delta Code EL AF NZ AZ AA OS BA CO DL Phone No. 800-223-6537 800-237-2747 800-262-1234 800-223-5730 800-433-7300 800-843-0002 800-247-9297 800-525-0280 800-221-1212 Airline Iberia KLM Royal Dutch Air Lufthansa Northwest Qantas Scandinavian Airlines United Airlines US Air Virgin Atlantic Code IB KL LH NM QF SK UA US VS Phone No. 800-772-4642 800-447-4747 800-645-3880 800-225-2525 800-227-4500 800-221-2350 800-241-6522 800-428-4322 800-862-8621 United States of America Capital: Washington DC Population: 307,007,000 Land Area: 3.79mi² (9.83km2) Elevation: 23 ft (7 m) Since it first declared its independence from Britain July 4, 1776, the United States of America grew from its original 13 colonies to a federal constitutional republic of 50 states – adding Alaska and Hawaii as its 49th and 50th states in 1959. The USA is now the third most populated country in the world, ranking fourth in area. From its stunning Grand Canyon and Rocky Mountains to its cosmopolitan cities, the United States is home to a diverse range of geographic attractions and people. District of Columbia Washington, D.C. Population 599,657 Washington, D.C., officially the District of Columbia, is the capital city and administrative district of the United States of America. It came about as a political compromise when in 1779, the leaders of the new nation couldn’t agree on the new capital city. New Englanders wanted the capital to be in the North and Southerners wanted it to be in the South. So newly elected President George Washington convinced everyone it should be built halfway between the North and South. The centers of all three branches of the US federal government are in Washington, as well as the headquarters of most federal agencies. Washington, D.C. also serves as the headquarters for the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Organization of American States. It is also the site of numerous national landmarks and museums. From its iconic monuments and buildings to its historic neighborhoods and free museums, the capital of the United States offers so many interesting attractions, it’s hard to know where to begin. Washington Monument, Washington, D.C. Alaska Capital: Juneau Location: Pacific Northwest Largest city: Anchorage Land area: 656,425 mi² /1,700 141km2 Population: 683,478 Main industry: Oil, eco-tourism, mining, finance Anchorage Population 286,174 Elevation 102 ft (31 m) Anchorage is Alaska’s largest city and home to approximately 50 percent of the entire population of the state. The city is situated on a triangular peninsula bordered on the east by the rugged Chugach Mountains, on the northwest by the Knik Arm, and on the southwest by the Turnagain Arm. Anchorage can trace its origins to the railroads, as it began as a tent city in 1915 for construction workers on the Alaska Railroad. In its first year, Anchorage grew to a population of 2,000; most of them railroad workers. By 1920, the town site became incorporated and future growth came in spurts punctuated by farming in the 1930s and military build-ups in the late 1940s. The discovery of oil from the 1960s to the 1980s gave rise to Anchorage as we know it today. Suffering extensive damage during the 9.2 earthquake in 1964, the city was rebuilt and is the focal point of Alaskan business and social life. Blessed with the surrounding natural beauty, Anchorage is a modern city on the edge of the old frontier. where allowed. The stunning glacial landscapes and other geological wonders also make Denali a favorite for hikers and photographers. Fairbanks Population 35,252 Elevation 446 ft (136 m) Before Fairbanks was founded, Koyukon Athabaskan people lived, fished, and hunted in the area with the Tanana and other rivers serving as trade routes with other Athabaskan people and Eskimos. By the early 1900s, gold rush prospectors were spreading out into Alaska in search of gold. The discovery of gold led to the development of Fairbanks. It began with a trading post started by E.T. Barnette who was forced to disembark on the shores of the Chena River in 1902. The Fairbanks Gold Rush led to the development of an established mining community and it became an important commercial center within a short time. In 1903, Fairbanks was incorporated as a city and named after a popular Senator, Charles W. Fairbanks, who soon became vice president under Theodore Roosevelt. Eventually the gold was mined out and Fairbanks settled into 50 years of modest growth marked by rail and highway construction. The discovery of oil on Alaska’s North Slope in the 1960s provided the next boom for Fairbanks. It became the transportation center for the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline project. Since its beginning, Fairbanks has been a vital commercial center for the interior of Alaska. It is also home to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the oldest college in Alaska. Denali National Park Elevation 2,073 ft (632 m) Denali National Park and Preserve, located in Alaska’s interior, is named for 'the great one' in the Athabaskan language – that is North America’s highest peak, officially known as Mount McKinley after former US president William McKinley. Beneath the spectacular mountain which towers at 20,320 feet (6,194 meters), Denali National Park is one of the world’s greatest places for viewing wildlife and bird species. Visitors watch for grizzly bears, moose, caribou, dall sheep, foxes and wolves roaming in the park and birdwatchers can spot over 130 species of birds throughout the year. Wintertime recreation includes dog-sledding, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling Haines Population 1,811 Elevation 36 ft (11 m) The surrounding area around the present town of Haines was once called 'Dei-Shu' or meaning 'End of the Trail' and was home to the to the Tlingit Indians. In 1884, the area was renamed Haines in honor of Mrs. F.E. Haines, the fundraising chairman for the construction of a mission. During the late 19th century, the Klondike Gold Rush changed the region and the population increased greatly. Mining and fishing became key industries in Haines. Due to Haines’ geographic location, many lakes and varied terrain, the area attracts many migratory birds. Haines is also home to the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve where hundreds of people flock to take part in the Bald Eagle Festival. Haines is also famous for other attractions such as salmon fishing, hiking and helicopter and boat excursions to the Tongrass National Forest and Glacier Bay National Park. Mt. McKinley, Alaska Juneau Population 30,987 Elevation 56 ft (17 m) Named after prospector Joe Juneau, Alaska’s capital city was one of the first towns founded in Alaska after the US purchased the land from Russia. The largest city on the scenic Inside Passage, it boasts a blend of gold rush history, nature and native culture. Its premier attraction, Mendenhall Glacier, is receding at a rate of 25 feet (7.6 meters) per year, towers more than 100 feet (30.5 meters) above the surface of Mendenhall Lake. Seward Population 3,171 Elevation 0 ft (0 m) Seward is located on the east side of the Kenai Peninsula. It was named after William H. Seward, the US Secretary of State who arranged the purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867. The town is situated on Resurrection Bay, which is one of Alaska’s year-round ice-free, deep-water harbors. In 1902, Seward was chosen as the starting point for the railroad. And, a few years later, the Iditarod Trail, which was used to transport freight north to Nome. This began a boom period for Seward as a major port transporting goods into Alaska’s interior. The 1964 earthquake and tidal waves that followed ravaged the boat harbor and 90 percent of the town’s economy. While fishing and shipping are still important to the town’s economy, tourism is now the city’s lifeline. Many cruise ships visit the port and Seward is the gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park. Ketchikan Population 7,515 Elevation 0 ft (0 m) Ketchikan is the fourth largest town in Alaska and home to some of the most fascinating native culture in the world. Perched on the shores of Ketchikan Creek and the Tongass Narrows, you will find excellent fishing, museums like Tongass Historical Museum and Dolly’s House, parks and cultural centers like Saxman, Totem Bight and the Totem Heritage Center. This town is deeply rooted in native culture and boasts the largest totem collection in the world, dance and craft demonstrations, and artifact exhibits. Skagway Population 892 Elevation 33 ft (10 m) Skagway was the gateway for Alaska’s 1897 gold rush, when the clamor of ‘Gold in the Yukon’ spread throughout the world and thousands of prospectors rushed to Skagway. Before the enthusiastic prospectors could leave town for Dawson, deep in Canada’s Yukon, they were faced with the temptation of 80 saloons, painted ladies and the quick fingers of gamblers and thieves. Today, those wild days are gone - but the memories linger on. Denali National Park, Alaska Arizona Capital: Phoenix Location: Southwest Largest city: Phoenix Land area: 114 006 mi² /295 276km2 Population: 6,500,180 Main industry: Mining, manufacturing, tourism Flagstaff Population 60,611 Elevation 6,910 ft (2,106 m) Located in Northern Arizona, Flagstaff lies on the edge of the Colorado Plateau alongside one of the largest Ponderosa Pine forests in the United States. Known for its varied terrain and neighboring some of America’s most famous sightseeing landmarks, Flagstaff welcomes visitors from all around. Flagstaff was originally discovered by an exploration party during the mid-1800s. Setting up camp in the area, the pioneers marked the location by stripping the limbs from a pine tree and created a flagstaff landmark. The area remained an ideal resting place for wagons migrating to California. In 1876, the first official settlement in Flagstaff was established, and the city soon grew when the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Company merged, bringing many railroad crews to the area. Today, Flagstaff still remains an important railroad and transportation hub, but has also developed a strong tourism sector due to its close proximity to major sightseeing attractions such as Grand Canyon National Park, Lake Powell, Sedona, Monument Valley and Native American Reservations. The beautiful landscape and high altitude location – 6,910 feet (2,106 meters) – create an ideal setting for hiking, biking and year-round outdoor activities. In addition, Flagstaff is a popular tourist stop along the historic Route 66. The Grand Canyon region possesses five of the seven ecological zones found in the Northern Hemisphere. The geology of the Grand Canyon is of great scientific importance as there is no other place in the world where such a vast panorama of time is displayed so clearly. Each stratum of rock from the Colorado River flowing on the canyon’s floor to the top of its rim distinctly marks a period of the earth’s history dating from 2 billion years ago. Kayenta Population 4,922 Elevation 5,640 ft (1,719 m) Located within the great Navajo Reservation, the town of Kayenta is the gateway to one of America’s most famous landscapes, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. In 1919, John Wetherill established the area as a trading post. Originally, the town was known as Oljeto, but was later changed to Kayenta, named after a spring nearby. The uranium and coal deposits within the area were important resources and sustained the town’s economy. Today, Kayenta’s Navajos welcome travelers coming to experience this remote, yet amazing region. Lake Powell Elevation 3,637 ft (1,108.55 m) Surrounded by hundreds of miles of parched desert landscape, spectacular Lake Powell is actually a reservoir, created by the damming of the Colorado River at Glen Canyon. Despite an angry outcry from conservationists, construction of the Glen Canyon Dam began in 1960 and was completed in 1963. It took another 17 years for Lake Powell to fill to capacity. With its surrounding red rock towers, bluegreen water perfect for fishing and boating and beaches of rosy sand, it is the American West’s most popular water playground. Today, most people agree that Lake Powell is an amazing sight, drawing almost as many visitors as the Grand Canyon, its down river neighbor. Grand Canyon National Park Elevation 8,000 ft (2,440 m) at the top of the South Rim The Grand Canyon of the Colorado River is one of nature’s masterpieces. In form, size and geological significance, few things approach it. The Canyon is 277 miles (446 km) long; it averages 10 miles (16 km) in width from rim to rim; it is 5,700 feet (1,737 meters) deep measured from the North Rim, which is about 1000 feet (305 meters) higher than the South Rim. Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park provides perhaps the ultimate and most enduring images of the American West. Whether you have been here before or not, you are almost certainly familiar with the unique ‘supernatural’ landscape which has served as the backdrop for countless movies. Huge monoliths and spires of natural sandstone rise up hundreds of feet from the flat and desolate landscape, with sheer walls that capture the light of the rising and setting sun, transforming it Grand Canyon, Arizona into fiery tones. Evocative names reflect the shapes the sandstone has taken under the erosive forces of nature: The Mittens, Three Sisters, Camel Butte, Elephant Butte, the Thumb and Totem Pole are some of these most awe-inspiring natural monuments. Although the Navajo have been living here for generations, human habitation in Monument Valley dates back much further. Within the park are more than 100 ancient Anasazi archaeological sites, ruins and petroglyphs dating from before 1300 AD. Scottsdale Population 245,500 Elevation 1,257 ft (380 m) Situated in the beautiful Sonoran Desert just outside Phoenix, Scottsdale enjoys more than 300 days of sunshine each year. This contemporary center is built on three rich cultures: Native American, Spanish and Western Pioneer. Each society left its imprint on the city, which can be experienced in the food served, the architecture and the art displayed in the many galleries and public spaces. Phoenix Population 1,601,587 Elevation 1,117 ft (340 m) Situated in the ‘Valley of the Sun’ at the foot of Camelback Mountain, Phoenix is the capital of Arizona. It was settled by an ancient tribe known as the Hohokam, who tamed the desert with irrigation ditches and then mysteriously disappeared. During the 19th century, Phoenix developed from a village supplying hay to the north central Arizona district to a bustling town filled with prospectors. Cowboys and miners frequented the town and saloons and gambling houses multiplied. The resulting lawlessness was squashed by two public hangings at the turn of the century. Now the thriving capital of Arizona, countless suburbs and ranch-style homes retain the western look, while Spanish Colonial and Indian Pueblo architecture give clues to the origins of this city. Places of interest include Arizona State University and Chase Ballpark, home of baseball’s 2001 World Series champions, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Visitors may want to explore the Desert Botanical Gardens, where the state symbol, the Saguaro Cactus, grow tall. The city is ringed by NativeAmerican reservations whose influence is apparent in the handicrafts, jewelry and art found in local shops and museums. Sedona Population 11,598 Elevation 4,326 ft (1,319 m) First settled by pioneers in 1877 and named after the first postmaster’s wife, the town of Sedona holds the claim of the most beautiful setting in the Southwest because of its drop-dead gorgeous scenery. Bright red-rock buttes, eroded canyon walls and mesas rising into blue skies contrast with forests of juniper and ponderosa pine, dark against the rocks. Word of Sedona’s beauty did not begin to spread until Hollywood filmmakers began using the region’s red rock as backdrop to their Western films. Next came artists, lured by the landscapes and desert light. Although it is still much touted as an artists’ community, Sedona is now a thriving tourism center. Sedona’s high altitude, weather, pine trees and rivers provide an ideal respite from Arizona’s summer heat. Sedona National Park, Arizona California Capital: Sacramento Location: West Coast Largest city: Los Angeles Land area: 163,707mi² /424,001km2 Population: 36,961,774 Main industry: Agriculture, oil, mining, electronics, entertainment, tourism Anaheim Population 353,643 Elevation 157 ft (48 m) Anaheim is known worldwide as the home of the original Disneyland® Park. Founded by 50 German families in 1857, Orange County’s second largest city was primarily a suburban rural area until the 1950s. Hundreds of World War II servicemen, discovering this sunny, welcoming area during basic training, relocated here after the war to build new lives. Industries like aerospace were also finding a home in Orange County, creating good jobs and spurring residential development. Anaheim was further transformed when The Stanford Research Company pointed Walt Disney to Anaheim as the ideal place to develop his dream theme park. The park opened to thousands of visitors in 1955. Over the decades, 'The Happiest Place On Earth' and the city have changed and grown. Anaheim’s attractions include not only the ever popular Disneyland® Park and Disneyland® California Adventure Park, but top sports and entertainment venues including Angel Stadium of Anaheim and Honda Center. One of America’s top tourism destination, it draws over 40 million visitors per year. Cambria Population 6,232 Elevation 43 ft (13 m) A secluded town located halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Cambria features impressive cliffs and spectacular coastline scenery. Cambria was settled during the late 19th century, attracting miners, farmers and fishermen. Over the years, this quaint seaside village has drawn visitors with its serene environment and relaxing atmosphere. Visitors enjoy exploring the unique art galleries and charming downtown restaurants. Carmel Population 79,191 Elevation 223 ft (68 m) Situated on the Carmel Bay in Central California on the southern bend of the Monterey Peninsula, Carmel-by-the-Sea is 120 miles south of San Francisco, 350 miles north of Los Angeles and 26 miles north of Big Sur. Fifty years after Columbus discovered America, Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sighted the white sands and green pines of Carmel. Two centuries later, in 1771, Father Junipero Serra established Mission San Carlos de Borromeo on a knoll overlooking the Carmel Bay—the jewel and the heartbreak of his ministry. In the early 1900s, the village of Carmel began its growth around an eclectic group of young artists, writers and intellectuals and Clint Eastwood served as mayor for a term in the mid-80s. Bakersfield Population 351,443 Elevation 403 ft (122 m) Bakersfield is a city near the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley in Kern County, California. It is roughly equidistant between Fresno and Los Angeles, which are 110 miles (180 km) to the north and south respectively. It is the 9th largest city in California and has a very diverse economy. It is the most productive oil producing county, and the fourth most productive agricultural county (by value) in the United States. Other industries include natural gas and other energy extraction, aerospace, mining, petroleum refining, manufacturing, distribution, food processing, and corporate/regional headquarter. The valley's spectacular landscapes provide unrivaled natural beauty which is why many visitors drive through in spring just to view the orchards in bloom. Death Valley National Park Elevation 11,049 ft (highest) (3367 m highest) The United State’s hottest, driest and lowest National Park. In this below-sea-level basin, steady drought and record summer heat make Death Valley a land of extremes. Yet, each extreme has a striking contrast. Towering peaks are frosted with winter snow. Rare rainstorms bring vast fields of wildflowers. Lush oases harbor tiny fish and refuge for wildlife and humans. Despite its morbid name, a great diversity of life survives in Death Valley. Garberville (Redwood Country) Population 2,400 Elevation 535 ft (163 m) Garberville is a small quaint community situated on the banks of the Eel River in Humboldt County. It is conveniently located in the heart of the Redwood Empire and minutes from majestic old growth redwood forests along the Avenue of the Giants. This world-famous scenic drive has over 50,000 acres of redwood groves. Rodeo Drive, California California continued... Hollywood Population 123,345 Elevation 354 ft (108 m) During the 1870s, the Los Angeles neighborhood now known as Hollywood flourished as an agricultural community with a variety of crops ranging from grain to bananas. In 1886, it was purchased by real estate mogul Harvey Henderson Wilcox and began its transformation into a prosperous community with the construction of paved streets and new homes. In 1910, Hollywood was annexed into the city of Los Angeles, and, a year later, Hollywood’s first filming studio was established. The movie industry expanded as other moviemakers headed west to Hollywood and additional film and recording studios were established in the area. In order to meet the demands of this growing community, many clubs, theaters, banks and restaurants were constructed. Today, many of the filming studios and radio stations have moved and are located in other regions of Los Angeles County. However, with ongoing revitalization projects, there are new glamorous sites to see including the Hollywood & Highland complex, which features shopping, dining and the Kodak Theater, the official home of the Academy Awards Ceremony. Old favorite landmarks like the Hollywood Sign, Grauman’s Chinese Theater, the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the mansions of the old-time stars continue to dazzle the star-struck. Santa Monica, Hollywood and more. Over three-quarters of all movies made in the United States are produced in the metropolitan area. Movies, music and television companies have made Los Angeles the entertainment center of the West (some say the world). The city thrives on tourism, world trade and diverse industries such as oil, electronics, aircraft and aerospace engineering. Mammoth Lakes Population 7,392 Elevation 11,053 ft (3,369 m) Situated high in the Sierra (11,053 ft/3,369 m), just southeast of Yosemite, Mammoth Lakes is surrounded by glacier-carved, pine-covered peaks that soar up from flower-filled meadows and crystal clear lakes. It is an alpine region of sweeping beauty and one of California’s favorite playgrounds for hiking, biking, horseback riding and skiing at Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort, one of the largest ski areas in the US. Monterey Population 30,641 Elevation 26 ft (8 m) Originally settled in 1770, Monterey was one of the West Coast’s first European settlements, and the capital of California under Spanish, Mexican and American rules. A major whaling center in the 1800s, Monterey became the sardine capital of the Western Hemisphere. The gritty lives of the residents were forever captured by local author John Steinbeck in his 1945 novel Cannery Row. Monterey is now a pleasant seaside community, with magnificent vistas, historic architecture, stately Victorian houses and a vast array of boutiques, stores, art galleries and restaurants residing in converted sardine factories along the bay. Lake Tahoe Population 23,567 Elevation 6,225 ft (1,897 m) When Mark Twain first saw Lake Tahoe, he declared it "the fairest picture the whole earth affords." Surrounded by the majestic peaks of the Sierra Nevada, Lake Tahoe is stunningly beautiful. Famous for its crystal clear deep blue water and Emerald Bay, it is the largest alpine lake in North America and straddles the California and Nevada border. Visitors flock year-round to the communities around the lake for its Nevada-side casinos at Stateline and world-class ski resorts including Heavenly and Squaw Valley USA, site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. Napa Population 75,297 Elevation 20 ft (6 m) The Napa Valley is the heart of California’s wine industry and home to world-class wineries such as Sterling and Robert Mondavi. (The city of Napa is the county seat.) The valley is relatively condensed – it is only 25 miles (40 km) long and narrow. The landscape is quintessential wine country with rolling, mustard flower-covered hills and vast stretches of vineyards. The combined attractions of bucolic scenery and everything wonderful about wine make the Napa Valley the ultimate Wine Country experience. Los Angeles Population 3,831,868 Elevation 126 ft (38 m) In 1781, Don Felipe de Neve, Governor of Alta California, marched to the site of the present city and with solemn ceremony founded the Pueblo of Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles, 'The Town of Our Lady, the Queen of the Angels.' The new town’s population consisted of 22 children, 11 men and 11 women. In 1845, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the Mexican War and California was acquired by the United States, with Los Angeles becoming a thriving frontier town. In 1892, oil was discovered on the grounds of a private home and soon oil derricks appeared everywhere. Today, Los Angeles occupies a land area of 464m2 (1,202 km2), including independent communities such as Beverly Hills, Palm Springs Population 45,573 Elevation 487 ft (148 m) Often described as a small city with the cultural amenities of an urban area, the shopping, entertainment, dining and recreational opportunities are first-class. Whether it’s a round of golf in the winter or a massage at a first-class spa resort, Palm Springs is the place to enjoy life. Palm Springs lies on the western edge of the Coachella Valley in central Riverside County approximately 107 miles east of Los Angeles. It is within the ecological area known as the Colorado Desert, rising behind the downtown is the California continued... impressive Mt. San Jacinto, elevation 10,831 feet. Recently there has been a fascination with mid-century modern architecture - something Palm Springs is proud to have as part of its mix of eclectic design styles. Because it is only a two-hour drive from Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties, there are a large number of second homes in Palm Springs. Santa Barbara Population 86,353 Elevation 49 ft (15 m) The first people to fall in love with Santa Barbara were the Chumash Indians. The Chumash made their homes here, sustaining themselves from the fish-rich waters of the Pacific Ocean in front of them and the game-tracked mountains behind. Later, Father Junipero Serra, traveling with Captain Jose Ortega and Governor Felipe de Neve, made his way up from Mexico and established a royal presidio here in 1782. Four years later, the mission was founded – the first of three (including Santa Inez in Solvang and La Purisima, Lompoc) in what is now Santa Barbara County. The Santa Barbara architectural style is famous around the world. Although distinctly influenced by the architecture of Spain, it’s actually a blend of styles, including Spanish, Mediterranean, and Moorish/Islamic. San Diego Population 1,359,132 Elevation 72 ft (22 m) San Diego, built around one of California’s beautiful natural harbors, is a recreational paradise. In addition to the cultural attractions and world-class zoo at Balboa Park, leisure activities include miles of sandy beaches and inviting bays for basking in the sun, swimming, sailing, waterskiing and cycling. Considered the birthplace of California, San Diego was first discovered in 1542 by Juan Cabrillo, who landed at Point Loma and claimed what is now California for the Spanish Crown. California’s first mission was founded here by Father Junipero Serra in 1769. Today, San Diego is home to the largest naval station on the West Coast. Its bay holds a third of the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet, as well as being the west coast training ground for the elite S.E.A.L division. Santa Monica Population 87,664 Elevation 105 ft (32 m) The community of Santa Monica, the vibrant seaside city on Los Angeles’ coast, was first established in 1769 when the Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portola arrived. The area was known for its free-flowing natural springs which inspired Father Juan Crespi, a Franciscan in de Portola’s expedition party, to name the region 'Santa Monica' in honor of Saint Monica, who wept over her son. In 1875, Santa Monica started to develop as a city. Soon, the famous beach side Arcadia Hotel and grand Miramar Mansion (which later became the Miramar Hotel) were constructed, attracting the rich and famous. The popular Santa Monica Pier opened in 1909, attracting thousands of visitors with its seaside attractions and entertainment. Today, Santa Monica still attracts visitors from around the world with its relaxing beach atmosphere, exciting nightlife and a variety of leisure activities. Visitors enjoy shopping and dining along the tree-lined 3rd Street Promenade and exploring the historic pier’s amusement park rides and food stands. The hip city also offers many cultural diversions with over 75 museums and art galleries. San Francisco Population 815,358 Elevation (max) 925 ft (282 m) Resting on 40 hills at the tip of a narrow peninsula, San Francisco is bound by the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay, one of the largest land-locked harbors in the world. In 1775, Spanish explorers established a mission dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi here. Then, in 1849, gold was discovered in California and soon San Francisco was a wild tent city of thousands of rough, tough transients. Mercantile establishments, small industries and the shipping of goods to the Orient were established and prospered. In 1906, a great earthquake struck and the resulting fire raged unchecked for three days, destroying most of the city. The city started rebuilding before the ashes cooled. Today, San Francisco’s most important industry is tourism and it often earns awards from travelers voting it as their favorite city in the world. It’s considered such a wonderful city that, as acclaimed author Rudyard Kipling lamented, “Tis hard to leave." Sequoia National Park Elevation 1,370 to 14,494 ft (417 m to 4417 m) Sequoia National Park is in the southern Sierra Nevada and was established on September 25, 1890. The park spans 404,063 acres (631.35 sq mi; 1,635.18 km). Encompassing a vertical relief of nearly 13,000 feet (4,000 m), the park contains among its natural resources the highest point in the contiguous 48 United States, Mount Whitney, at 14,505 feet (4,421 m) above sea level. The park is famous for its giant sequoia trees, including the General Sherman tree, one of the largest trees on Earth. The General Sherman tree grows in the Giant Forest, which contains five out of the ten largest trees in the world. The Giant Forest is connected by the Generals Highway to Kings Canyon National Park's General Grant Grove, home to the General Grant tree among other giant sequoias. The park's giant sequoia forests are part of 202,430 acres (81,921 ha) of old-growth forests shared by Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Indeed, the parks preserve a landscape that still resembles the southern Sierra Nevada before Euro-American settlement. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco California continued... Shell Beach Population 7,655 Elevation 56 ft (17 m) The main attraction in the little town of Shell Beach is the vista of the Pacific Ocean. Here you can fish from the cliffs, sit on a park bench and look out at the expansive ocean, explore the sandy beaches and coves, or bring a picnic basket or your take-out sandwich to dine outdoors with sweeping views. Yosemite National Park Elevation 4,000 ft (1,200 m) Known for its striking waterfalls and granite domes, Yosemite National Park is situated in central California on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The park is much larger than most people realize – its popular valley floor occupies only seven of its 1,200 square miles (3,100 km2). The natural history of Yosemite spans millions of years, starting from the ancient age when a warm shallow sea spread across what is now the Sierra Nevada and Great Valley of California. After a long sequence of earth upheavals followed by erosion, glaciers gouged Yosemite Valley into a U-shaped trough. The first of at least three glaciers extended down the Merced River as far as El Portal, while the last left a moraine of rock debris damming the river back into Yosemite Valley. Glacial action rounded and polished domes such as Liberty Cap and Lembert Dome. Climbers from around the world come to scale Yosemite’s El Capitan and Half Dome. Sonoma Population 9,863 Elevation 85 ft (26 m) Like its neighbor Napa, Sonoma Valley is acclaimed as California’s premier wine and culinary country. Among its bounty it counts hundreds of award-winning wineries and vineyards along with California’s finest specialty produce and dairy products, such as shiitake mushrooms and goat and Jack cheese. The city of Sonoma and its mission are also noted in California history. In 1823, Mission San Francisco Solano de Sonoma was established by Father Junipero Serra, the only California mission opened after Mexican independence from Spanish rule. On June 14, 1846, Sonoma was declared the capital of the 'Bear Flag Republic' in a revolt against Mexican control of California. The town’s status as the nominal capital of California lasted 25 days, ending with California’s annexation by the United States – two years before California achieved statehood in 1850. Sonoma Valley, California Colorado Capital: Denver Location: Mountain West Largest city: Denver Land area: 104,100mi² /269,620km2 Population: 5,024,748 Main industry: Agriculture, oil, mining, electronics, manufacturing, tourism, finance Denver Population 610,345 Elevation 5,280 ft (1,609 m) Located in a spectacular setting at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, ‘Mile High’ Denver is one of America’s fastest growing cities, and one of its most exciting. Denver entertains nearly nine million visitors each year with people coming to enjoy its outstanding cultural attractions, museums, shopping, dining and nightlife. Mesa Verde National Park Elevation 6,100 - 8,400 ft (1,900 - 2,600 m) Mesa Verde (Spanish for 'green table') National Park is the largest archaeological preserve in the United States. It offers an unparalleled opportunity to see and experience a unique cultural and physical landscape with some 4,000 known sites dating from 600 AD to 1300 AD, including the most impressive cliff dwellings in the Southwest. The earliest-known inhabitants of Mesa Verde built subterranean pit houses on the mesa tops. During the 13th century, they built elaborate stone villages in the sheltered alcoves of the canyon walls. Archaeologists believe the residents occupied them for only about two generations and moved away for reasons yet to be confirmed. Durango Population 15,000 Elevation 6,512 ft (1,988 m) Durango has a long and rich history that both history buffs and curious folks of all ages will enjoy. Durango was founded in 1880 by the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad. By July of 1882, tracks to Silverton were completed and the train began transporting both freight and passengers. The DurangoSilverton Railroad was originally constructed to haul silver and gold ore, but passengers soon realized that it was the view that was truly precious. The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad celebrated its 125th year of continuous operation in 2006 and continues to be a favorite attraction on a Colorado sightseeing vacation. From local history and railroad museums of historic downtown Durango to the ancient cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde National Park, Durango is truly where the old west survived, and where the new west thrives. Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado Florida Capital: Tallahassee Location: South Largest City: Jacksonville Land area: 104,100mi² /269,620km2 Population: 19,317,568 Major industry: tourism, agriculture Orlando Population 238,300 Elevation 82 ft (25 m) A favorite Central Florida vacation destination, and once a quiet farming town, Orlando now welcomes more visitors than any other place in the state. The reason, of course, is Walt Disney World, along with Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando. But there's much more to Orlando than thrill rides and costumed characters. How about a hot-air balloon ride? Indoor skydiving? Parasailing? Key West Population 24,909 Elevation 18 ft (5.50 m) The southernmost point in the U.S., Key West, Florida is famous for watersports, lively nightlife, turquoise beaches and historic sites such as the Ernest Hemingway House. The laid back lifestyle, southern charm and Caribbean flavor are what make Key West what it is today. Figures throughout history have visited Key West, some making it their permanent home for a while, others enjoying the tropical climate while they escape the harsh winter. There is something for everyone in Key West. It is home to some of the finest saltwater fishing around as well as the freshest seafood dinners! Relaxing charter rides to view dolphins in the wild or to kayaking in the backcountry off Key West can’t be beat. Space Coast Stretching 72 miles along Florida's East Coast, the Space Coast is best known as the home of Kennedy Space Center, Orlando's closest beaches and some of the best surfing in the country, but this is only a taste of what you'll find on the coast! Located just 35 miles east (56 km) of Orlando – the Space Coast is a nature-lover’s paradise and a burgeoning center for the arts and much more! As the only place in the country where visitors can witness a space shuttle launch, the Space Coast offers once-in-a lifetime experiences for its guests. Nature enthusiasts can kayak close to wildlife; beach lovers can enjoy endless options throughout the destination; surfers can live the dream of the ideal wave. Marco Island Population 16,413 Elevation 0 ft (0 m) Marco Island is the largest of Florida's Ten Thousand Islands, located on the Gulf of Mexico in Southwest Florida. It has been described as magical, mystical and alluring. The attraction is tropical sun-washed white sand beaches and a casual easy paced lifestyle. Sunshine, frolicking dolphins, and all of the water and sun sports that go with the beaches are available. Miami Population 408,750 Elevation 6 ft (2 m) Whether you're into sports, sunshine or salsa dancing, Miami sizzles all year long with exciting entertainment venues and attractions, world-class hotels and restaurants, great beaches and nightlife that never sleeps. While South Beach, chock full of hip nightclubs and pastel-hued buildings, gets all the press, other sections of Miami are just as hot and offer culture, recreation and more. Spend the day soaking in the sights and sounds of Little Havana or soaking up the rays at Haulover Beach Park. Explore the Art Deco District or take the kids to the zoo and at the end of the day, chill out at any of the area's cool bars and nightclubs. St Petersburg Population 244,997 Elevation 44 ft (13 m) Along with beautiful beaches, St. Petersburg attracts visitors with the Salvador Dali Museum, Fort De Soto Park and the St. Petersburg Pier. The city, located close to Clearwater, is known for its warm weather and breezes that blow off Tampa Bay. Art Deco buildings, Miami Hawaii Capital: Honululu Location: Pacific Largest city: Honululu Land area: 10 932mi² /28 314km2 Population: 1,295,178 Main industry: Agriculture, tourism Hawaii (The Big Island) Population 175,584 Hawaii, or ‘The Big Island,’ has been the first for many historic events in the islands. Here is where the Polynesians originally arrived to settle the other islands; it’s where Kamehameha the Great began his conquests; and, it’s where Christian missionaries first tried to convert local populations to their beliefs. Agriculture and tourism play a large role in the commerce of Hawaii. Sugar cane, coffee, oranges, papaya and a host of other fruit and decorative flowers are raised on the island. Tourists regularly visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park located on the southeast side of the island. Kilauea Volcano, as the focal point of the park, is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Visitors can actually view Kilauea’s lava flow close-up, as it slowly creeps down the slopes and into the Pacific Ocean. Due to its sea-level coast and towering mountain elevations, Hawaii encompasses a varied ecosystem. At lower elevations, there are lush canyons and waterfalls, while along the slopes of its volcanoes, snow can be found during the winter and desert-like terrain in the summer. Now dormant and the site of one of the world’s most important observatories, Mauna Kea, at 13,796 feet (4205 meters) above sea level, is considered the world’s tallest mountain if measured from its base on the sea floor – taller than Mount Everest. The Poipu area is known for its beautiful beaches, Princeville for its surf and golf courses, and the rugged Na Pali Coast for its breathtaking terrain. Kauai is also a land of the great canyons, rainbow-filled valleys, dense rainforests, jagged cliffs and rivers. Truly picturesque, Kauai displays Mother Nature at her best. Maui Population 145,157 As the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands, Maui encompasses a vast array of geography, history and activities for the visitor. Haleakala Volcano is one of the world’s largest dormant volcanoes and welcomes hikers and cyclists to its desert-like landscape. The waters and beaches of Maui are ideal for snorkeling, diving, surfing and sunbathing. Named for a mythical god, Maui was the seat of the Hawaiian Monarchy from 1790 until 1843. By 1840, Kamehameha the Great had been trading with whaling ships for several decades along the west coast of the island at Lahaina. As whaling died down in the late 1800s, agriculture took over as the dominating industry on the island. Sugar cane and pineapple became staple crops early on, followed by other fruit crops and flowers. Today, cattle ranches and thoroughbred horse farms dot the Maui landscape. The majority of the island’s population lives on the west coast; many of whom cater to Maui’s booming tourist trade. Kauai Population 65,689 Kauai, the oldest of the Hawaiian Islands, is called the ‘Garden Isle’ for its incredible lushness. Old Hawaii is very noticeable here, with its unhurried atmosphere, small towns and roadside general stores. However, as you travel through this enchanting island, you’ll discover a wide variety of sights and activities. Oahu Population 905,034 Oahu, the third largest and most populated of the Hawaiian Islands, is fittingly known as 'The Gathering Place.' Honolulu, located on its southeast coast, is its largest city and the capital of the state of Hawaii, the USA’s 50th state. Oahu was formed from the cooled lava of two separate shield volcanoes with a broad valley or saddle between them. Its beautiful beaches and natural attractions include Waikiki Beach, Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head, Hanauma Bay, Kaneohe Bay, Kailua Bay and the North Shore, world- renowned by surfers for its giant waves. Oahu beach, Hawaii Hawaii continued... Keauhou Population 2,500 Elevation 13 ft (3.96 m) Some of the best snorkeling spots in Hawaii are near Keauhou, a town on the west coast of Hawaii's Big Island. The local beaches – which tend to be less busy than those on the Kona coast – also offer swimming, boating, fishing and scuba diving. If it's not a beach day, you can head to the Keauhou Garden of the Kamehamas and take a stroll through the native plants or check out the cultural attractions, restaurants and shops of the Kailua-Kona area. This area’s coastal area is frequented by manta rays. You can also sometimes see honu (Hawaiian green sea turtles) in the shallow tide pools. It’s easy to see why Hawaiian royalty, including the “Merrie Monarch” King David Kalakaua, adored this area. Waikola Population 5,000 Waikoloa is located on Anaehoomalu Bay. As well as its beautiful sands for traditional beach relaxation, family games and water play, the clear, clean waters of the area are perfect for snorkeling and seeing first-hand the wonderful array of marine life in its natural environment. Close to the shoreline, the Waikoloa Anchialine Ponds are lava formed pools, fed by a mixture of fresh and salt water through the rock and teeming with small marine life. These pools represent an important part of local custom and a carefully laid out trail forms an interesting and informative walk through the area. Kalalau Valley, Hawaii Illinois Capital: Springfield Location: Midwest Largest city: Chicago State Land area: 90,204mi² /149,998km2 Population: 12,910,409 Main industry: Agriculture, coal, chemical products, transportation, petroleum Chicago Population 2,853,000 Elevation 597 ft (182 m) The history of Chicago parallels the history of the westward expansion of the United States. The first non-military settlers began arriving in the 1830s, and Chicago quickly grew into a bustling port, connecting the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River through a system of rivers and canals. Connected to San Francisco by the railroad in 1869, Chicago quickly became the hub for transportation and trade between the East and the expanding West. Today, Chicago continues to be a major hub for transportation in the U.S. with highways connecting it to most major cities across the country and Canada. It has three airports, including O’Hare which is one of the world’s busiest, handling nearly 67 million passengers per year. Chicago has become famous for its architecture, especially its skyscrapers. Downtown is home to some of the tallest buildings in the world, including the landmark early record breaker, the Sears Tower. The city boasts 50 colleges and universities, the Midwest Stock Exchange and the Chicago Institute of Art, one of the finest art museums in the country. Stretching along the shore of Lake Michigan for over 27 miles (43km), Chicago is known for strong winds blowing across the lake, earning its nickname, ‘The Windy City.’ Springfield Population 117,352 Elevation 597 ft (182 m) The most famous past resident of Illinois’ state capital is the great American President Abraham Lincoln, who helped bring the nation back together after the Civil War. He lived in Springfield from 1837 until he went to the White House in 1861. The city of Springfield is dotted with historic attractions centered around US President Abraham Lincoln, including the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, a National Historical Park, the Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site, the Old State Capitol State Historic Site, and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Louisiana Capital: Baton Rouge Location: South Largest city: New Orleans Land area: 51,843mi² /134,273km2 Population: 4,492,076 Main industry: Agriculture, salt production, oil, natural gas, fishing Lafayette Population 111,915 Elevation 46 ft (14 m) Lafayette is the ‘capital’ of Acadiana, the official name of the area known as Cajun Country. The Cajun history is a sad one, but it produced an original and fascinating culture and people. Lafayette has long been known for its great food, music and festivals. Lafayette is also a place with a multitude of historic attractions, majestic plantation homes, vibrant gardens and leisurely bayou (swamp) tours. It is the ideal place to experience the Cajun and Creole cultures and antebellum lifestyles of the Deep South. New Orleans Population 354,850 Elevation -6.5 ft (-2 m) New Orleans, Louisiana's largest city, is also known as 'The Big Easy.' Originally built upon a steamy bog area between the Mississippi and sea-sized Lake Pontchartrain, survival was a constant struggle with floods, epidemics and food shortages from its early days. The French were attracted to this area in the 1700s by its deep, swift harbor. Named for the regent of France, Philippe Duc d’Orleans, New Orleans served as the capital of the French territories in America from 1723 to 1763. With limited communication with the government in Paris, levies still rose and New Orleans became a territorial capital. As if in defiance of its crude surroundings, the nucleus of Creole society was patterned after the court life of Versailles, New Orleans became part of the United States with the Louisiana Purchase from France in 1803. This year also marked the start of the now famous celebration of Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday). With two floats and a theme, the first organized Mardi Gras paraded through the streets. Nowadays, it is one of the largest such celebrations in the world. Maine Capital: Augusta Location: New England Largest city: Portland Land area: 35,387mi² /91,652km2 Population: 1,318,301 Main industry: Agriculture, shipbuilding, fishing, machinery, electronics, tourism Bar Harbor/Acadia NP Population 5,183 Elevation 440 ft (134 m) Once the summer playground of wealthy and famous Americans, Bar Harbor was celebrated as a quiet coastal resort village. Today visitors flock to this island paradise to experience the brilliant fall foliage and to explore Acadia National Park, the first national park established east of the Mississippi. The park encompasses over 47,000 acres (19,020 ha) of granite-domed mountains with woodlands, lakes, ponds and coastal seashore. Such diverse types of habitat make Acadia a haven for wildlife and plants. Entwined with the natural beauty of Acadia is the story of its people. Evidence suggests that native people first lived here at least 5,000 years ago. Subsequent centuries brought explorers and settlers of European descent, and, arising directly from the beauty of the landscape, tourists and conservationists. Portland, Maine Massachusetts Capital: Boston Location: New England Largest city: Boston Land area: 10,555mi² /27,337km2 Population: 6,593,587 Main industry: Textiles, electronics, publishing, fishing, education, tourism Boston Population 645,169 Elevation: 141 ft (43 m) Boston was first settled in 1630 by a group of Puritans who had fled religious persecution in England. As the cultural and economic capital of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, it quickly became the most important city in the New England colonies. After the American Revolution, Boston merchants quickly opened trade with the Orient and India. The Industrial Revolution brought growth to Boston, and the population swelled in the 19th century as immigrants arrived from Ireland and Italy. Since World War II, an influx of computer and high tech companies have opened in Boston, bringing new investments to the downtown area. Boston is also the home to over 20 colleges and universities, including Harvard University, the oldest in the US. Its historical importance and many charming attractions make Boston one of the most visited cities in America. The region also has a rich array of art, science, and history museums, including the famous Quadrangle, a group of four distinctive art, science and history museums, including the National Memorial erected in honor of Dr. Seuss, the city’s most famous son. Cape Cod Population 220,000 Elevation 306 ft (93 m) Cape Cod, often referred to locally as simply the Cape, is located in the easternmost portion of the state of Massachusetts, in the Northeastern United States. The Cape's historic and maritime character and ample beaches attract heavy tourism during the summer months. Cape Cod was formed as the recessional moraine of a glacier, resulting in a peninsula in the Atlantic Ocean. In 1914, the Cape Cod Canal was cut through the base or isthmus of the peninsula, forming what may be loosely described as an island. Cape Cod is one of the biggest barrier islands in the world, shielding much of the Massachusetts coastline from North Atlantic storm waves. Cape Cod is a popular destination for beachgoers from all over. With 560 miles (900 km) of coastline, beaches, both public and private, are easily accessible. Springfield Population 155,575 Elevation 70 ft (21 m) Springfield is home to the Basketball Hall of Fame, which celebrates the glory of the game that was invented here. Mississippi Capital: Jackson Location: South Largest city: Jackson Land area: 48,434mi² /125,444km2 Population: 2,951,996 Main industry: Agriculture, oil, textiles, electronic & transportation equipment, fishing Natchez Population 16,045 Elevation 217 ft (66m) Situated on the banks of the mighty Mississippi, Natchez is one of the oldest and most historic cities in the Deep South. It is noted among America’s historic cities for its wealth of architecturally significant buildings and antebellum mansions, preserved as evidence of the opulent life of the city’s plantation society when cotton was king. With more than 500 structures dating to the era before the Civil War, Natchez is a museum in itself. Spend the evening at Natchez Under-theHill, a colorful area of shops, restaurants and casino gaming. Missouri Capital: Jefferson City Location: South Largest city: Kansas Land area: 69,709mi² /180,693km2 Population: 5,987,580 Main industry: Agriculture, mining, manufacturing, tourism Branson Population 8,502 Elevation 778 ft (237 m) The city of Branson was founded in 1882 and was considered an important stopping point for those traveling along the banks of the White River. Tourism to Branson began to flourish in 1907 after the book 'The Shepherd of the Hills' by Harold Bell Wright was published. Readers were fascinated by The Ozarks and traveled to this region to experience the culture and lifestyle portrayed in the story. Today, Branson still welcomes millions of visitors annually and over the years has transformed into one of the largest centers for live musical entertainment in America. Branson is home to over 30 theaters specializing in a variety of music, dancing and dinner shows performed throughout the year. St. Louis Population 356,587 Elevation 466 ft (142 m) St. Louis was originally settled by French explorers due to its important location near the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. The founders named their settlement St. Louis, after Louis IX, King of France. The United States later acquired St. Louis in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase from France. In 1804, President Thomas Jefferson sent explorers Lewis and Clark to chart the new territory from St. Louis. Many explorers followed the same route and St. Louis became an important stop for those heading to the newly open frontier. The first steamboat arrived in St. Louis in 1817, creating a new mode of travel via the Mississippi River. St. Louis has several nicknames, including the 'Gateway City' or 'Gateway to the West.' One of the city’s most famous icons is the St. Louis Arch, commemorating President Thomas Jefferson’s westward expansion of the United States. Completed in 1965, it stands 630 feet tall. Visitors can ride the tram to its observation deck for picturesque views of the city. Montana Capital: Helena Location: Mountain West Largest city: Billings Land area: 147,046mi² /380,849km2 Population: 974,989 Main industry: Agriculture, cattle, ranching, mining, oil, lumber, tourism Billings Population 105,845 Elevation 3,123 ft (952 m) The most populous city in Montana, Billings has the honor of being the 'most citified' place in the state. Founded as a railroad town in 1882 and named for the president of the Northern Pacific Railroad, it earned the nickname of Magic City because of its rapid growth. Still a crossroads for the railroads and an oil town with three oil refineries, Downtown Billings has been renovating, and restoring its grand historic buildings, boasting new banks, contemporary business centers and restaurants. With its proximity to Yellowstone National Park and the area where the Battle of Little Bighorn (also known as Custer’s Last Stand) was fought, the city draws travelers from around the world. Billings also has its share of scenery – from the heights of the city you can see the Pryor Mountains, the Bighorns and the majestic Beartooths. Whitefish Population 13,709 Elevation 3,028 ft (923 m) Located in the Northern Rockies, adjacent to the peaks of Glacier National Park and Whitefish Mountain Resort, the town is surrounded by hundreds of lakes, including Whitefish Lake, and scenic rivers. The location of the valley keeps it safe from extreme climate changes encountered in other portions of Montana, making it ideal for year-round recreation. The emergence of Whitefish as a recreation town is as unique as the beauty for which it is famous. Whitefish is not a fabrication of outside investors, but an outcome of the residents themselves. Over 50 years ago, the Whitefish population bonded together with a common vision. Pooling their money and making decisions together, the Whitefish Mountain Resort, Whitefish Lake Golf Club and the town of Whitefish are a reflection of their dreams, initiative and hard work. Helena Population 74,801 Elevation 3,875 ft (1,237 m) Cradled in the foothills of the Montana Rockies, surrounded by pristine forests, alive with history and culture, lies Helena, ‘the heartbeat of Montana.’ This charming, sophisticated and beautiful Victorian city is both the capital of the state of Montana and the county seat for Lewis and Clark County. Helena was founded with the July 14, 1864 discovery of gold in a gulch off the Prickly Pear Valley. In 1870, Henry D. Washburn, having been appointed Surveyor General of Montana in 1869, organized the Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition in Helena to explore the regions that would later become Yellowstone National Park. Mount Washburn, located within the park, is named for him. By 1888, about 50 millionaires lived in Helena, more per capita than any city in the world. This large concentration of wealth made for a large amount of culture, much of which still exists and is also evidenced in the varied architecture of the city and its Victorian neighborhoods. The official symbol of Helena is a drawing of ‘The Guardian of the Gulch,’ a wooden fire watch tower built in 1886, that still stands on ‘Tower Hill’ overlooking the historic downtown district. Nevada Capital: Carson City Location: Southwest Largest city: Las Vegas Land area: 110,567mi² /286,369km2 Population: 2,643,085 Main industry: Tourism, mining, hydro-electric power Las Vegas Population 567,641 Elevation 2,001 ft (610 m) Las Vegas, once a desert on the route to California, began as a Mormon settlement in 1855 and boomed fleetingly during the silver rush. When the silver mines played out, Las Vegas survived on ranching. The coming of the railroad in 1905 stabilized the valley and an era of slow growth ensued. In the following years, the city developed as an agricultural center. The legalization of gambling in Nevada in 1931 paved the way for change, and after World War II a great deal of investment capital was poured into the development of Las Vegas as a resort center. Nowadays the neon lights, theme hotels and casinos featuring America’s top entertainment acts sizzle 24/7. Lured in part by hopes of easy money at the thousands of slot machines and table games, more than 37 million visitors a year come to Las Vegas, making it one of the U.S.’ top 10 visitor destinations in the US. Las Vegas, Nevada New Hampshire Capital: Concord Location: New England Largest city: Manchester Land area: 9,351mi² /24,219km2 Population: 1,324,575 Main industry: Textiles, lumber, tourism, electronic equipment, software North Conway/White Mountains Population 2,069 Elevation 525 ft (160 m) North Conway is the commercial center of the White Mountains, the recreation capital of northern New England. It is beautifully located amongst gentle, forest-covered mountains with the blustery heights of Mount Washington to the north. The village of North Conway is attractive with its Victorian frontier-town architecture, colorful shops and distinctive train station. The White Mountain National Forest encompasses 773,000 acres (312,816 ha) of rocky, forested terrain, over 100 waterfalls, dozens of back country lakes, and miles of clear brooks and cascading streams. Its highest point is the 6,288-foot-high (1,916 meters) brooding peak of Mount Washington, often cloud-capped and mantled with snow both early and late in the season. New Mexico Capital: Santa Fe Location: Southwest Largest city: Albuquerque Land area: 121,593mi² /314,926km2 Population: 1,819,000 Main industry: Mining, oil, natural gas, tourism Albuquerque Population 528,497 Elevation 5,312 ft (1619 M) Situated between the Sandia Mountains and the Rio Grande River, Albuquerque was settled by the Spanish in the 18th century and today is New Mexico’s largest and most populous city. The city gained national and international attention in 1945 with the creation of nuclear technology at nearby Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories. This resulted in a population influx of scientists and military personnel which gave the city the technology base that it still maintains. Along the famed Route 66, visitors enjoy a full range of accommodations, restaurants, shopping and historic attractions. Every October Albuquerque plays host to over one million visitors for the world’s largest hot air balloon fiesta and the classic 'Kodak Moment.' Santa Fe Population 70,000 Elevation 7,260 ft (2,134 m) Santa Fe, which means ‘Holy Faith’ in Spanish, is New Mexico's fourth largest city behind Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Rio Rancho. Situated at 7,000 feet in the foothills of the southern Rocky Mountains, it was founded between 1607 and 1610, making it the second oldest city as well as the highest and oldest capital in the US. In 1912, it officially achieved statehood and today its unique offerings of art, culture and ancient traditions make it a world-class tourist destination, drawing more than 1 million visitors each year. In 2005, Santa Fe became the first US city to be chosen by UNESCO as a Creative City, one of only nine cities in the world to hold this designation. Santa Fe has long been a center for arts and culture. Due to sales, it now ranks as the country's third largest art market with nearly 300 galleries and dealers. There also are more than a dozen major museums showcasing an array of art, culture, history and traditions, as well the world-class Santa Fe Opera. In recent years, the city has also earned a reputation with food-lovers. Whether you're hankering for basic New Mexican food, creative Southwestern cuisine, or authentic Italian, French, Asian and other world cuisines, the city offers more than 200 choices. New York Capital: Albany Location: Mid-Atlantic Largest city: New York City Land area: 54,475mi² /141,090km2 Population: 19,541,453 Main industry: Finance, international trade, publishing, fashion, farming, tourism New York City Population 8,400,000 Elevation 33 ft (10 m) New York is a city of contrasts and superlatives. The most densely populated city in the US is known for its towering skyscrapers and taxi-jammed streets. Yet more than 17% of its total area (314mi2/813km2) is devoted to parks and playgrounds like beautiful Central Park. New York’s port and harbor – its mile-wide entrance leading to the famous Statue of Liberty – is the busiest in the world, clearing some 26,000 ships each year. Once ridden with crime, it is now considered one of the safest large cities and ranks as the top visitor destination in the US. The first European visitors arrived at what is now New York in 1624. Holland claimed the territory, and, in 1626, a Dutchman named Peter Minuit brought 200 of his fellow countrymen to occupy the promising piece of real estate on the fine harbor. As the story goes, he negotiated the purchase of Manhattan Island with the Native Americans for $24 worth of beads and other trinkets. A strategic area during the American Revolution, New York City is where George Washington, first President of the United States, took his oath of office on April 30, 1789 after the US had achieved independence from Britain. Following the end of the Civil War in 1865, New York City grew and developed more rapidly. Hardworking immigrants poured in from abroad and their efforts helped produce great wealth. The 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 destroyed the city's World Trade Center with the falling of the twin towers. Today, The National September 11 Memorial - twin reflecting pools bordered with bronze panels displaying the names of all who perished when the towers fell - sits in the footprint of where the twin towers stood. As the Freedom Tower continues construction, the spirit of the city remains as strong as ever. Manhattan skyline, New York Yellow Cabs, New York Oklahoma Capital: Oklahoma City Location: Southwest Largest city: Oklahoma City Land area: 98,386mi² /254,820km2 Population: 3,825,657 Main industry: Agriculture, oil, natural gas, machinery, electronics Oklahoma City Population 560,333 Elevation 1,201 ft (396 m) In 1889, Oklahoma City was first settled when unassigned prairie lands were claimed in an event known as ‘The Land Run.’ Approximately 10,000 pioneers settled in the areas surrounding a Santa Fe Railroad Station. Within several years, the population doubled and Oklahoma City was established as the official state capital. Today, Oklahoma City maintains a balance of its historic western roots and the excitement of big city adventure. Visitors can enjoy a glimpse into the past at the world-class National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. For nightlife and outstanding dining, visitors can explore the exciting Bricktown Entertainment District. Reconstructed from Oklahoma City’s first wholesale commercial district, it features local nightclubs, shops and restaurants featuring local specialties. Oregon Capital: Salem Location: Pacific Northwest Largest city: Portland State Land area: 98,386mi² /253,820km2 Population: 3,825,657 Main industry: Timber, paper products, farming, mining, electronics Gold Beach Population 1,907 Elevation 50 ft (15 m) Located off picturesque Highway 101 on Oregon’s south coast, Gold Beach offers plenty of outdoor recreation and magnificent scenery. The town was named by placer miners who found the sands at the mouth of the Rogue River profitable; gold flecks can still be found on the beach today. Now visitors come for windsurfing, surf fishing, and the famed salmon and steel head fishing of the Rogue River. and canneries as well as the Oregon Undersea Gardens. Its major industries are tourism and fishing. Portland Population 582,130 Elevation 33 ft (10 m) Situated at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers, Portland is also known as the ‘City of Roses.’ It is a city of quiet charms – the shade of the stately elms in the South Park Blocks, the tranquility of the Japanese Garden, the view from the grounds of Pittock Mansion and the miles of hiking trails in Forest Park. The city’s other claim to fame is as the nation’s micro brew capital – there are so many brew pubs in Portland that the city has been nicknamed ‘Munich on the Willamette.’ Newport Population 9,932 Elevation 134 ft (41 m) The city of Newport is ideally located on the magnificent Oregon Coast. This picturesque beach city offers numerous activities and attractions. Visitors can enjoy more than 100 miles of biking and hiking trails and spend the day exploring tide pools, combing the beach for fossils and spotting marine animals in their natural habitats. One of Newport’s most popular attractions is the Oregon Coast Aquarium which showcases more than 15,000 marine species. Newport is also home to two lighthouses, one of which is the tallest on the Oregon Coast. Along the waterfront of this resort community are many restaurants, shops, galleries, charter fishing boats Pennsylvania Capital: Harrisburg Location: Mid-Atlantic Largest city: Philadelphia Land area: 46,058miÂ˛ /119,290km2 Population: 12,604,767 Main industry: Agriculture, steel, mining, cars, electronics, pharmaceuticals Bedford Population 2,838 Elevation 1,614 ft (492 m) Bedford County is located in South Central Pennsylvania. The countryside is beautiful, the people are friendly and there are many family oriented activities to enjoy. For many years it was an important frontier military post. The Espy House in Bedford is notable for having been the headquarters of George Washington and his force of 13,000 while putting down the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794, which had started around the Jean Bonnet Tavern. quickly dubbed Philadelphia, Greek for 'The City of Brotherly Love.' By the time of the American Revolution, the city and its most prominent citizen, Ben Franklin, were in the center of the political activity. In 1774, the Declaration of Independence was written and signed here, starting the fight for independence. In 1787, the Constitution of the United States was written here and the city served as capital of the newly formed United States from 1791-1800. Today, the city provides many contrasts between its new modern exterior and its priceless historic treasures. Glass skyscrapers stand side-by-side with brownstone townhouses; cobblestone lanes intersect with busy wide highways. The centerpiece of the historical part of the city is the sevensquare-block Independence Historical Park, which features Independence Hall and the Constitution Center as well as the venerable Liberty Bell. The city is also known for its many colleges, universities and its world-class art collection contained in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, whose front stairs were made famous in the movie 'Rocky.' Gettysburg Population 8,072 Elevation 558 ft (170 m) The small town of Gettysburg was founded in the 1780s at the crossroads of four main highways. This strategic location was instrumental in the townâ€™s early growth and in its involvement in the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. Today the town is entirely surrounded by the Gettysburg National Military Park, whose 25 square acres commemorate the 51,000 lives lost here on July 1-3, 1863. Over 1,300 markers and memorials line the 31 miles of marked avenues, paying tribute to the Northern and Southern soldiers who fought in the battle. So tragic were the events here that on December 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered his most famous speech, 'The Gettysburg Address,' while dedicating the National Cemetery. Strasburg Lancaster County (Amish Country) Population 4,130 Elevation 463 ft (141 m) Strasburg and its neighboring communities form a culturally unique region known collectively as Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Originally founded by German, not Dutch, immigrants, the area is still populated by descendents of the Amish, Mennonite and Brethren believers who settled here in the 1700s in search of religious freedom. Many today eschew the conveniences of modern life, refusing the use of electricity, cars and other present-day amenities. They instead live very simply off the land, and demonstrate modesty in their dress and speech. Visitors to the area will be delighted by the local handicrafts such as quilts and painted furniture, as well as by the local specialties like shoo-fly pie and salted pretzels. Philadelphia Population 1,547,297 Elevation 39 ft (12 m) The city of Philadelphia has always maintained its reputation as the Birthplace of Independence. Its founding father, William Penn, escaped religious persecution in England and founded the city and his colony in the 1680s as a community in which all religious faiths would be tolerated. The city was Philadelphia City Hall Liberty Bell, Philadelphia Rhode Island Capital: Providence Location: New England Largest city: Providence Land area: 1033.81miÂ˛/2677.6kmÂ˛ Population: 1,050,292 Main industry: Health services, tourism and manufacturing Newport Population 24,672 Elevation 30 ft (9 m) Home to spectacular coastal scenery, awe-inspiring architecture, a thriving waterfront downtown, and welcoming hospitality, Newport, Rhode Island is considered by many to be a shining gem in the coastal crown of New England. From weekend getaways spent touring the famed Gilded Age mansions that once were the summer playground for socialite families with names like Astor and Vanderbilt to an afternoon of wine tasting through Newport's three scenic vineyards, the options for interesting activities, distinctive stories, and enticing photo opportunities are countless! Newport, Rhode Island South Dakota Capital: Pierre Location: Midwest Largest city: Sioux Falls Land area: 7,121mi² /199,743km2 Population: 812,383 Main industry: Cattle farming, gold mining, machinery, food and wood products, tourism Keystone Population 327 Elevation 4,331 ft (1,320 m) Keystone was originally established as a settlement when gold was discovered in the Black Hills region during the 1800s. In 1891, William Franklin, Thomas Blair, and Jacob Reed named the community after the Keystone Mine. In 1894, Franklin discovered the gold-bearing 'Holy Terror' mine, which he named for his wife. As the mining industry flourished, many people moved to Keystone. However, due to flooding, economic depression and depletion of most of its valuable mineral resources, the mining industry declined. Today, Keystone has transformed itself into a resort town for tourists visiting the Mt. Rushmore National Monument. Mt. Rushmore now offers a multi-million dollar museum and theater complex with a visitor orientation center, gift shop and dining facilities. Evening visitors can enjoy a dramatic and moving lighting ceremony that illuminates Mt. Rushmore at night. Rapid City (Mt. Rushmore, the Black Hills and Crazy Horse) Population 67,107 Elevation 3,202 ft (976 m) Rapid City is the gateway to some of the most striking attractions in America – the inspirational Mt. Rushmore National Memorial, the visionary Crazy Horse Memorial and the tranquil Black Hills National Forest with its abundant wildlife. Created at the top of a 1,400-foot-tall (427 meters) piece of granite, Mt. Rushmore is one of the largest carvings ever created and one of the United States’ most famous landmarks. The sculptor, Gutzon Borglum had intended to carve the four US Presidents down to their waists, but he died before they were completed. The four presidents depicted and their achievements are: George Washington, the founder of the Union; Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence; Abraham Lincoln, the preserver of the Union; and Theodore Roosevelt, the conservator of the nation’s natural resources. The faces are each 60 feet (18 m) high and are carved to perfection with intricate detail. Mount Rushmore, South Dakota Tennessee Capital: Nashville Location: South Largest city: Memphis Land area: 42,143mi² /109,247km2 Population: 6,296,254 Main industry: Agriculture, chemicals, rubber, plastics Memphis Population 676,640 Elevation 337 ft (103 m) Memphis, Tennessee’s largest city, is spread out on the Lower Chickasaw Bluff above the Mississippi River at the mouth of the Wolf River. The first settlers were the Chickasaw Indians. In 1739, the French built Fort Assumption on the Memphis site. Then after passing through British hands, the area was ceded to the United States. In 1819, Andrew Jackson helped found the town of Memphis and it was incorporated as a city in 1826. Memphis is a pilgrimage for those wanting to visit the birthplace of the blues, soul and rock ‘n’ roll. Its Beale Street is immortalized in song and story as the place where the late W.C. Hardy composed his famous 'Memphis Street Blues' and 'St. Louis Blues' – some of the first blues music ever written. Elvis, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash all recorded at the historic Sun Records, which is now a museum. Graceland, the second most-visited home in America, welcomes visitors from around the world who yearn for a peek into the life of Elvis 'The King' Presley. Nashville Population 605,473 Elevation 597 ft (182 m) Located on the banks of the Cumberland River, the first settlement in Nashville was established in 1779 and was known as Fort Nashborough. The community continued to expand and six years later, the city’s name was changed from Nashborough to Nashville. In 1843, a few years after Tennessee was annexed to the United States, Nashville was established as the official capital of the state. Today, Nashville is the second largest city in Tennessee and is nicknamed 'Music City USA.' A major center for America’s music industry, it’s home to the Country Music Hall of Fame, Grand Ole Opry – the world’s longest-running live radio program – and some of the top recording studios in the United States. Texas Capital: Austin Location: Southwest Largest city: Houston Land area: 268,820mi² /696,241km2 Population: 24,282,302 Main industry: Oil, natural gas, agriculture, manufacturing Amarillo Population 189,389 Elevation 3,605 ft (10,099 m) Located on the Texas Panhandle, Amarillo sits at the crossroads of America – almost exactly in the middle of the west and east coasts of the United States. Once a major stop on famous Route 66, Amarillo today produces about 25% of the nation’s beef, and is America’s top producer of helium. Sites such as the Cadillac Ranch and the Big Texan Steakhouse provide Amarillo with some attractions that one has to see to the believe. Utah Capital: Salt Lake City Location: Mountain West Largest city: Salt Lake City Land area: 84,904mi² /219,901km2 Population: 2,784,572 Main industry: Oil, natural gas, mining, steelmaking, farming, tourism Arches National Park Elevation 5,653 ft (1,723 m) Natural stone arches and other fantastic rock formations are the defining features of Arches National Park. As distinguished from natural bridges which form when a river slowly bores its way through solid rock, natural arches are the result of the erosive forces of rain and snow slowly chipping away at the rock. There are more than 1,700 officially listed arches in Arches National Park and more are discovered every day. Wander through this maze of incredible rock formations and when you think you have seen the most spectacular one, another even more amazing appears as you walk around the next bend. portal city to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. The majestic scenery and ancient geology of the canyons attracts photographers, artists, mountain bikers, jeep enthusiasts and nature lovers looking to capture the great western outdoor experience. Salt Lake City Population 183,171 Elevation 4,226 ft (1,288 m) Surrounded by the Wasatch and Oquirrh mountains, Utah’s capital city is a popular destination for outdoor recreation enthusiasts and was host for the 2002 Winter Olympics. Dominated by historic Temple Square, Salt Lake City is the headquarters city for the Church of the Latter Day Saints, whose members are known as Mormons. Founding the city in 1847, divinely inspired Mormon leader Brigham Young lead his church members here, believing that this area was their destined home and the site where they were to set up their Mormon Kingdom. The city is named after The Great Salt Lake located on the outskirts of the town. Covering over 100mi2/260km2, the lake is the second saltiest body of water in the world, after the Dead Sea. The salt content varies from 15 to 25 percent – so dense that a person could float on its surface like a buoy. Because of the lack of a natural outlet, the lake traps mineral-laden water from fresh water streams. After evaporation, salt is left behind in the lake, allowing only blue-green algae and brine shrimp to survive in the lake’s water. Bryce Canyon National Park Elevation 8-9,000 ft (2,400 - 2,700 m) at rim Bryce Canyon National Park is a magical landscape, a place of inspiration and spectacular beauty. Thousands of intricately shaped hoodoos and fanciful rock formations in various shades of red, orange and rose stir the imagination as they stand as silent cathedrals against the deep blue sky. The horseshoe-shaped Bryce Amphitheater is one of the park’s most striking natural bowls, encompassing six square miles (10 km2) – it is the park’s scenic heart. Visitors can view the magic from many points along the rim. Moab Population 5,148 Elevation 4,026 ft (1,227 m) In the southeastern region of Utah, Moab is one of the only cities on the banks of the Colorado River. Originally settled in the 19th century as agricultural land, the area later became a center for oil exploration and mining. During the 1950s, the discovery of uranium in the region established Moab as the uranium capital of the world. Today, Moab, with its inviting Main Street shops and restaurants, attracts over half a million visitors a year as the Torrey Population: 171 Elevation 6,830 ft (2,081 m) Torrey is in the south central part of Utah eight miles from Capitol Reef National Park. The town was settled in the 1880’s by Mormon pioneers and legend has it that Torrey was named after one of Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, Colonel Torrey. Although the population of the town itself is 171, it is estimated that as many live in the area surrounding Torrey. The elevation makes the summers very pleasant while the winter temperatures can be freezing. Torrey has had many famous visitors, among them John Wesley Powell, Butch Cassidy, Zane Grey, Maynard Dixon and Wallace Stegner. Zion National Park Elevation 8,726 ft (2,660 m) One of Utah’s eleven national parks and monuments, Zion’s vast 147,000 acres (59,488 ha) is comprised primarily of spectacular cliffs and canyons. The centerpiece of the park is 13 million-year-old Zion Canyon, formed by the Virgin River at a depth of 2-3,000 feet (610 - 914 meters). In addition to the unusual rock formations, Zion has picturesque hanging gardens, waterfalls and desert terrain. Arches National Park, Utah Vermont Capital: Montpelier Location: New England Largest city: Burlington Land area: 9,625mi² /24,903km2 Population: 621,760 Main industry: Maple Syrup, farming, tourism, electronics, forest products Essex Population 19,500 Elevation 486 ft (148 m) Essex is located between the majestic Green Mountains and Lake Champlain - the sixth largest fresh water lake in the United States. The town of Essex is a modern urban community with a friendly rural character. With its surrounding beauty and the fact that Vermont is the safest state in the U.S. in which to live, Essex is a wonderful place to live and work. Ludlow Population 2,449 Elevation 1,020 ft (311 m) The village of Ludlow and the surrounding Okemo Valley offer a delightful blend of shops, restaurants, events and activities. Chartered in 1761, this small town bordered by bucolic green hills is most noted as home of the Okemo Mountain Ski resort. Vermont Virginia Capital: Richmond Location: Mid-Atlantic Largest city: Virginia Beach Land area: 42,769mi² /110,772km2 Population: 7,882,590 Main industry: Farming, US Navy Warships, mining, lumber, government Colonial Williamsburg Elevation 82 ft (15 m) Easily the most visited attraction in Virginia, Colonial Williamsburg is a fascinating recreation of the historical city which served as the capital of Virginia from 1699 to 1780. Over one hundred 18th century buildings have been lovingly restored or reconstructed in their original sites, with costumed interpreters going about their daily business. Dozens of craftsmen can be seen working their trade, including the blacksmith, the cooper, the shoemaker and the gunsmith. In addition to the extensive collections of furniture, china, glass and other antiques, Williamsburg’s beautiful grounds contain acres of period gardens and public greens. Shenandoah National Park 4,051 ft (1,235 m) With over 60 peaks reaching skyward along the Blue Ridge Mountains, it is no wonder the area’s natives named this place Shenandoah, meaning 'daughter of the stars.' Shenandoah National Park stretches 80 miles along the spine of this beautiful range, with the Shenandoah Valley to the west and the Piedmont to the east. The passes that cut through the mountains have been used for centuries by natives and later pioneers moving west. The mountains are covered in hardwoods and pine with vast meadows of wildflowers framing them from below. Washington Capital: Olympia Location: Pacific Northwest Largest city: Seattle Land area: 71,303mi² /187,711km2 Population: 6,664,195 Main industry: Farming, aircraft, lumber, tourism, hydroelectric power, aluminium refining Olympic National Park Be sure to bring your rain gear when you visit the pristine Olympic National Park. With ecosystems varying from the coastline to the mountains, parts of the park average more than 140 inches of rain annually. Established in 1938 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981, Olympic National Park is located in the far northwestern region of Washington, stretching across 923,000 acres from the Pacific coastline to the Olympic Mountains. Besides your rain gear, bring your camera to capture the scenic vistas of tropical rainforests, alpine meadows, glaciers, lakes and rivers. There is also a wide range of park programs offering coastal forest walks, inter-tidal walks, guided rainforest walks and hiking on the different trails throughout the park. Since Olympic National Park is located near the ocean and features many lakes and rivers, visitors find it perfect for water sports such as canoeing, sailing, white-water rafting and water skiing. The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center offers a staffed information desk, gift shop and additional exhibits about the park. was timber. Growth followed quickly with the 1893 completion of the Transcontinental Railroad and the 1897 Klondike Gold Rush, for which the city served as a jumping off point. Much of modern Seattle was constructed in 1962 with the hosting of the World’s Trade Fair. The growth of trade throughout the Pacific Region has benefitted Seattle as it’s the closest US port to the Orient and the gateway for most Western Canadian imports to the US. The Boeing Company, the world’s largest commercial aircraft manufacturer, remains the area’s biggest employer, although other major businesses have moved to the area, such as Microsoft, Starbucks and Amazon.com, and banking, tourism and computer software companies. While it’s more often sunny in the summer months, the infamous Seattle rains and mists do have a silver lining, keeping the surroundings clean and green. Spokane Population 500,000 Elevation 1,843 ft (562 m) As a thriving mountainside metropolis, Spokane boasts a population of nearly 500,000, a hearty economy and an entertainment and nightlife scene that is second to none. As the second largest city in Washington State, Spokane is the epicenter of business activity for the three state, two province region known as the Inland Northwest. And with nearly $3.5 billion in improvements poured into its downtown core, Spokane is also one of the most sought-after corporate, residential and commercial addresses. The U-District, a hotbed of technological and higher education growth and development, is one of the many strong indicators that Spokane's business economy is flourishing. A hip, urban culture has embraced Spokane creating an eclectic and unique entertainment scene. From the Best of Broadway and the Spokane Symphony, to a burgeoning wine industry and scintillating sports, virtually any night of the week, you can find Spokane alive with great things to do. Seattle Population 616,627 Elevation (max) 520 ft (158 m) Washington’s largest city sits on a narrow strip of land between Puget Sound and 18-mile (29km) long Lake Washington. Although early sailors explored the area during the 1700s, the city of Seattle was not established until 1851 when the first pioneer families reached the Pacific after crossing the North American continent. The city is named for Chief Seath 'Seattle' of the native Duwamish and Suquamish tribes. Blessed with an enormous expanse of virgin forest combined with a fine natural harbor, Seattle’s first industry Seattle Skyline, Seattle Wyoming Capital: Cheyenne Location: Mountain West Largest city: Cheyenne Land area: 97,818mi² /253,349km2 Population: 544,000 Main industry: Farming, mining, oil, natural gas, tourism Clearmont Population 114 Elevation 3,917 ft (1,194 m) Clearmont, a quaint town located in Sheridan County, is home to the The Ranch at Ucross where visitors can experience life on a real working dude ranch. The surrounding area is rich in America’s “Old West” history and beautiful sage-colored hills scenery. Visitors can participate in a variety of outdoor activities such as horseback riding, fishing and golf. Jackson Population 8,647 Elevation: 6,237 ft (1,901 m) The name that has been given to this area’s town, valley and lake honors David Jackson, a mountain man and trader who first explored this region in the 1870s. Surrounded on three sides by the Teton Range, the breathtaking valley or 'hole' is dotted by waterfalls, meadows, lakes and streams. The Snake River winds its way through the valley and the small town of Jackson. With its wooden boardwalks, western shops and saloons and a four-sided antlered-gateway, Jackson still conjures up images of America’s Wild West. In summer months, stage coach rides and daily gun fights in the city’s square delight the many visitors who use Jackson as their base to explore Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park. Cody Population 9,435 Elevation 4,997 ft (1,523 m) The town of Cody was founded in 1898, named after Colonel William ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody, known worldwide for his epic 'Wild West Show.' With Cody at the helm, the town became the center of activity for the area’s cattlemen, sheepherders and oilmen, as well as his entertainment ventures. Cody’s most famous landmark is the Irma Hotel’s bar – a $100,000 gift from Queen Victoria to Buffalo Bill in appreciation of his extravagant show. Visitors can learn more about Buffalo Bill at The Buffalo Bill Historical Center. The multi-million dollar museum, which continues to expand, dedicates its galleries not only to Buffalo Bill’s amazing story and show but also includes exhibits of famous Western Art, Plains Indians and Yellowstone’s Natural History. The tradition of Wild West showmanship continues during the summer months as Cody hosts a nightly rodeo featuring the area’s best cowboys. Late US President Theodore Roosevelt was so impressed with the highway from Cody into Yellowstone National Park that he called it the “most scenic 52 miles in America.” Located in the midst of some of Wyoming’s most spectacular scenery, Cody is a haven for outdoors lovers of all types. Sheridan Population 17,197 Elevation 3,743 ft (1,141 m) Sheridan lies in the valley of the Little and Big Goose Creeks. Once the prized hunting grounds of the Plains Indians – the Crow, Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Lakota (Sioux) – this was where Indian leaders Red Cloud and Crazy Horse took a final stand to keep the white man from this valley below the Big Horn Mountains. With its location on the Bozeman Trail, Sheridan was the center of turbulent 1800s western expansion history. Known for its many battles, the ‘Bloody Bozeman’ Trail traveled north to the rich gold fields of Montana. Eight Indian war and battles sites, most within 35 miles, included Fort Phil Kearny, Fetterman Battle and Wagon Box Fight (National Historic Landmark near Story) and the Little Bighorn Battlefield (90 miles north of Sheridan). Today, history buffs relive those war days through the forts, battle sites, museums and interpretive walking trails. Remaining rich in western heritage, the town’s frontier spirit is manifested in a variety of cultural events, including 30 rodeos. Sheridan’s Historic Main Street District, home to over 30 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, comes alive with unique specialty shops, and delightful historic trolley or walking tours. Grand Teton National Park Elevation 7,700 ft (2,300 m) You can’t miss the Grand Teton mountain range towering over the Wyoming plains at heights of nearly 14,000 feet (4,267 meters). Sculpted by eons of wind, rain, snow and glacial action, the mountains are easily the most recognized of any mountain chain in America, with their three main peaks – the Middle Teton, the South Teton and the Grand Teton. Well-known for hiking and mountain climbing, this national park is 485 square miles (1,256 km2) in size and encompasses eight large lakes and many smaller bodies of water, 12 glaciers, numerous snowfields and extensive forests of fir, pine and spruce. Wyoming continued... Yellowstone National Park Elevation From 5,282 ft (1,609 m) Geysers, mud pots, hot pools, fumaroles and an abundance of wildlife – you will see all of this on a day’s trip through Yellowstone National Park, the World’s First National Park. Discovered by John Colter in 1808, a member of the Lewis and Clark expedition charting America’s West, this area was originally known as ‘Colter’s Hell.’ When Colter returned to St. Louis, Missouri after the expedition, and told about the bubbling earth that shot out great towers of steaming water, local Missourians thought that he had surely lost his sense of reality. They continued to believe this until another expedition went into the same area and proved Colter to be correct. More than 30,000 elk, 2,600 bison, 6,000 moose and 700 black and grizzly bears roam over the approximate 2,219,000 acres (900,000 ha) of Yellowstone. In 1872 the region was declared a national park, making it America’s first national park. Today, it is surely one of the most visited, as people from around the world continue to pass through, snapping photos of Western wildlife, stopping to view spectacular Yellowstone Falls, and, of course, 'Old Faithful,' the geyser that faithfully erupts every 65-80 minutes. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming Canada Capital: Ottowa, Ontario Population: 34,108,752 Land Area: 3,851 809miÂ˛ /9,920 000km2 The worldâ€™s second largest country, Canada is a land of vast distances and rich natural resources. First inhabited by distinctive groups of Indians and Eskimos or Inuit, its first Old World visitors were the Vikings who sailed here from Iceland around 1000 AD. Later settlers came from Portugal, France and England. While it still keeps its ties to the British Crown, Canada became a self-governing dominion in 1867 and is composed of ten provinces and three territories. 90% of its population lives within 100 miles (160 km) of the US Canadian border. Niagara Falls, Toronto Alberta Capital: Edmonton Location: Calgary Land area: 248 000mi² /642 848km 2 Population: 3,720,946 Main industry: Crude oil, natural gas, tourism, agriculture Banff Population: 6,700 Elevation 4,800 ft (1,463 m) Banff is a resort town located within Banff National Park. Surrounded by the towering peaks of the Canadian Rockies, it’s located near the junction of the Bow and Spray Rivers. With its scenic Alpine surroundings and quaint downtown, it’s a major destination for outdoor sports lovers and is the base town for the area’s ski resorts – Sunshine Village, Ski Norquay and Lake Louise Mountain Resorts. It’s Canada’s second highest town, second only to Lake Louise, also in Banff National Park. climate, alpine grandeur and famous mineral hot spring pools all add to Banff’s picturesque atmosphere. Calgary Population 988,079 Elevation 3,438 ft (1,048 m) Calgary is Canada’s third biggest city and only an hour’s drive to the Canadian Rocky Mountains. It was host to the 1988 Winter Olympics and is home to the Calgary Stampede, the world’s largest rodeo. Cowboys and Indians have been part of Calgary’s heritage since its founding. The Blackfoot Indians were the first inhabitants, fighting hard to retain their territory as the white man began to explore the area. In 1877, a treaty established a series of reservations for the Indians. The town grew in the early 1900s with thousands of Chinese immigrants working on railroad construction, followed by the oilmen who started Calgary’s important petroleum industry. Although Calgary’s growth has been rapid, it has been well planned – beautiful parks and pedestrian malls blend with skyscrapers connected by walkways allowing people to move around the city even during the most severe winter weather. Banff National Park Canada’s oldest national park, Banff is renowned for its spectacular peaks and valleys which were formed through geological upheavals and glacier movements about 77 million years ago. Evidence of man dates back 11,000 years when ancestors of the Cree and Kootenay Indians lived in the area. The first white men arrived in the 1800s, and it was their arguments over the area’s natural resources that prompted the Canadian government to establish the park in 1885. Banff National Park is also a wildlife refuge, home to elk, deer and bighorn sheep. One of the most famous attractions of Banff National Park is Lake Louise, a turquoise-colored lake flowing from melt water of the Victoria Glacier. The lake is 1.2 miles (1.9km) long, 225 feet (68 meters) deep, and its icy waters, while too cold for swimming, are ideal for boating in the summer. The town of Banff, which is located within the national park, is under strict control of the government. Residents do not own their land but rather lease it from the park authority. Its dry Jasper National Park Elevation 6,635 ft (2,023 m) at Sunwapta Pass Established as a national park in 1907, the region which is now Jasper National Park was once the floor of a giant sea that covered North America. Internal pressure pushed the rock above the water and erosion carved its current peaks and valleys. The park was named after Jasper Hawes, former manager of the Hudson Bay Trading outpost located in the area. The variety and beauty of the Rocky Mountains and numerous lakes are the area’s chief attractions, with Maligne Lake being the largest. One of the park’s most striking features is the great Columbia Icefield, the largest mass of ice in the Rocky Mountains, covering 120 square miles (311km2) and ranging in thickness from 1,970 - 2,950 feet (600 - 900 meters). Its melt water empties into the Arctic, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Lake Louise (in Banff National Park) Elevation 5,690 ft (1,731 m) Situated within Banff National Park lies one of the most scenic vistas in the Canadian Rockies, the icy blue-green waters of Lake Louise reflect the surrounding mountain peaks and the Victoria glacier. Silt and rock flour that is carried by the glacier’s melt waters give the lake its incredible color. Lake Louise, Canada British Columbia Capital: Victoria Largest city: Vancouver Land area: 357,216mi² /925,186km 2 Population: 4,530,960 Main industry: Forestry, mining Kamloops Population 70,117 Elevation 1,132 ft (345 m) Located at the conflux of the north and south branches of the mighty Thompson River, Kamloops was founded in 1815 as a trading post for the Hudson’s Bay Company. Fifty years later during the Caribou Gold Rush, 'overlanders' would raft down the Thompson into Kamloops for their supplies. Once the gold rush went bust and the railroad arrived, the city, whose name means 'meeting of the waters,' became the cattle and sheep ranching center for central British Columbia. Today the city serves as a lumber center as well as a stopping off point for visitors traveling into the Canadian Rockies. A wild and roaring community developed on the peninsula between the Fraser River and Burrard Inlet. Settlers soon began to populate other parts of the peninsula and in 1886 Vancouver officially became a city. The same year, a devastating fire destroyed the city, and its 2,500 residents were forced to rebuild. In 1887, the first passenger trains arrived in Vancouver and a few years later the ships of the Canadian Pacific fleet sailed into Vancouver Harbour, establishing it as a major world port. The Port Metro Vancouver is now the busiest and largest in Canada. While forestry remains its largest industry, tourism comes in a close second. Nicknamed Hollywood North, it is the third largest film production center in North America after Los Angeles and New York City. Lac le Jeune Population 7,452 Elevation 4,177 ft (1,273 m) Located south of Kamloops, Lac Le Jeune is a lake and park known for its abundance of wildlife. Established as a provincial park in 1956 and operated by the British Columbia Ministry of the Environment, it provides habitat for beaver, moose, birds and other wildlife. The lake is a popular spot for fly-fishing and fighting rainbow trout. The shoreline and park are surrounded by hill terrain and forests – an excellent location to enjoy the great outdoors and nature in the summertime. Victoria Population 304,683 Elevation 75 ft (23 m) One of Canada’s most beloved cities, Victoria exudes proper British charm in a most beautiful backdrop. Combine this with native totem poles, hanging flower baskets, a stunning harbor and the surrounding mountains, and it is no wonder the city is considered one of Canada’s most popular destinations. Victoria dates back to the 1840s when it was a Hudson’s Bay Company outpost and later served as a rough and tumble jumping off point for British miners. But lured by cheap land prices, more and more immigrants started settling the area with their families, growing the city’s commercial importance as well as ensuring its British flavor. The city became the capital of British Columbia in 1868. While today Victoria is not as large as Vancouver, it is still popular among visitors to British Columbia. Highlights include the Inner Harbour where whale watching cruises depart during the summer months; the Royal BC Museum with its incredible collections of Native and historical artifacts; and nearby Butchart Gardens, considered one of the world’s finest floral displays. Vancouver Population 578,041 Elevation 7 ft (2 m) Vancouver, often called the most beautiful city in Canada with its spectacular scenery and a mild climate, is the Canadian financial, industrial, shipping and cultural center on the West Coast. It’s truly a young city with the first recorded sighting by a Spanish explorer occurring in 1791. The following year, Captain George Vancouver sailed into the area while looking for the Northwest Passage. Fur traders followed and then came the prospectors looking for gold during the rush of 1858. British Columbia continued... Whistler Population 8,054 Elevation 2,198 ft (670 m) Whistler Village and Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort are known worldwide as one of the top venues for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. Formerly dependent on logging, the area began its transformation into a year-round vacation getaway in 1960 when a Vancouver businessman first dreamed of bringing the 1968 Winter Olympics to Whistler. While the area didn’t win the Olympics bid that year, the lifts started running in 1966 and soon became a hot spot for skiing enthusiasts. Adjacent Blackcomb Mountain opened for winter activities in 1980. Now both winter and summer visitors can ride the world’s highest and longest gondola, the Peak 2 Peak Alpine Experience between Blackcomb and Whistler Mountains, and see the spectacular views of what is now North America’s largest ski area. Besides biking, hiking and outdoor activities, visitors enjoy exploring the village, designed to create a European apres-ski atmosphere, with its outdoor cafes, shopping and nightlife. Yoho National Park Yoho National Park is part of UNESCO’s Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site. Ideal for scenic touring, visitors can view the amazing Spiral Tunnels and the majestic Takakkaw Falls, the second highest waterfall in Canada. The jewel of Yoho National Park, Emerald Lake, is home to some of the most breathtaking scenery in the Rockies. The park offers a variety of interpretive programs including guided walks and learning activities for visitors. There are also a variety of recreational activities available such as hiking, camping, cycling, fishing and mountaineering. Vancouver, Canada New Brunswick Capital: Fredericton Largest city: Saint John Land area: 27,590mi² /71,450km 2 Population: 751,755 Main industry: Forestry, mining, farming, fishing, tourism Fredericton Population 56,245 Elevation 66 ft (20 m) Situated on the banks of the St. John River, Fredericton is the capital city of New Brunswick. Originally used as seasonal farmlands by Aboriginals in the area, the region wasn’t permanently settled until 1732 when a group of French Acadians, fleeing the British forces in Nova Scotia, migrated there. However, in 1758, the area also became under English jurisdiction. With its strategic location between the Bay of Fundy and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Fredericton was ideal for military installation, and it became the official provincial capital of New Brunswick in 1785. Fredericton is now known as a center for the fine arts. Tourists and local residents enjoy visiting the Beaverbrook Art Gallery and The Playhouse, which hosts plays and musicals yearround. It’s also home to the annual Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival which attracts jazz and blues artists from around the world. St. John Population 90,016 Elevation 141 ft (43 m) Located at the mouth of the Saint John River and on the Bay of Fundy, St. John is the largest city in New Brunswick. Due to its location and having an ice-free harbor during the winter, St. John became an important port city. Much of the city’s history and economy revolves around shipbuilding, fishing and trade. At The New Brunswick Museum, today’s visitors can experience the history of shipbuilding and learn its tremendous impact on the area. Another popular attraction is the phenomenal Reversing Falls, set at the mouth of the St. John River. Due to strong tidal fluctuations, the flow of the river is reversed and the river’s current flows upstream for several miles. Moncton Population 97,065 Elevation 230 ft (70 m) Moncton, the second largest city in New Brunswick, is surrounded by many tourist attractions, including Hopewell Rocks National Park, Fort Beausejour, Shediac Bay and the quirky Magnetic Hill, Canada’s third most-visited natural attraction. The city was named after the British solider Lt. Colonel Robert Monckton, who led the capture of nearby Fort Beausejour in 1755. The town flourished as a center for ship building, and later became the headquarters of the Intercolonial Railway of Canada in 1871. It became an official city on April 23, 1890. As the geographic center of the Maritime Provinces. Moncton is still known as the ‘Hub City’ for its railroad history. Nova Scotia Capital: Halifax Largest city: Halifax Land area: 20,594mi² /53,338km 2 Population: 942,506 Main industry: Fishing, tourism Baddeck Population 907 Elevation 291 ft (89 m) Baddeck is located on Cape Breton Island, a province of Nova Scotia. The town is set on the shores of Bras d’Or Lake and was known as the Canadian home of the famous telephone inventor, Alexander Graham Bell. Bell and his family visited Baddeck in 1885 and later built a summer home on Beinn Bhreagh. They contributed to the development of Baddeck by providing steady jobs for the townspeople and promoted science, technology and culture. Baddeck is also known as the gateway to the famous Cabot Trail, named after European explorer John Cabot. This scenic highway features stunning views of Nova Scotia’s rugged coastline and passes through Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Cape Breton National Park Prince Edward Island Cape Breton Highlands National Park is known for its spectacular highlands and ocean scenery. Its highlands are the most striking feature of northern Cape Breton. Steep cliffs and deep river canyons carve into a forested plateau bordering the Atlantic Ocean. One third of the Cabot trail, a world-famous scenic highway, runs through the national park along the coasts and over the highlands. Established in 1936, the National Park covers 20% of northern Cape Breton and is one of the largest protected wilderness areas in Nova Scotia. Within the park, several dozen species of rare or threatened plants and animals can be found, as well as old growth forests of international importance. Halifax Population 282,924 Elevation 476 ft (145 m) Halifax is the provincial capital of Nova Scotia and the most populated city in the province. Founded in 1749, Halifax was originally established as a military settlement for the British. However, after the Halifax Explosion in 1917, it was reconstructed and became a modernized port city due to its geographic location. Today, the city is diversified with both historical landmarks such as the Halifax Citadel and ultramodern glass tower buildings. On the waterfront, visitors can enjoy exploring the bustling port community and view the historic ships docked in Halifax Harbor. Peggys Cove, Nova Scotia Ontario Capital: Toronto Largest city: Toronto Land area: 354,342mi² /917,741km 2 Population: 13,210,667 Main industry: Motor Vehicles, iron, steel, banking Kingston Population 109,437 Elevation 230 ft (70 m) Considered one of Ontario’s prettiest towns, Kingston lies on the shores of Lake Ontario where the St. Lawrence River joins the lake. Its strategic importance was recognized by Count Frontenac, who founded the trading post in 1673. After the completion of the Rideau Canal, connecting the St. Lawrence with Ottawa, Kingston became a center of shipping and trade. As the gateway to the Thousand Islands recreation area, it has grown into a popular tourist destination and is also home to prestigious Queen’s University. Ottawa Population 860,928 Elevation 230 ft (70 m) The history of Canada’s capital stretches back to the earliest days of exploration when Samuel de Champlain founded a trading post where the Ottawa and Rideau Rivers met. For almost 200 years, the area remained isolated, accessible only by water, until Loyalists fleeing the War of 1812 established a small community. In 1826, the Rideau Canal was built, originally as a defense against the Americans, but its true importance was as its use as a shipping route through to the St. Lawrence. Queen Victoria declared Ottawa the Capital of Canada in 1857, a decision that angered the people of Toronto, Kingston and Montreal, who felt the city was 'too backwater' for a nation’s capital. Nevertheless, the city today proudly upholds it position as the seat of power, with the imposing Parliament Buildings sitting high above the Ottawa River. Niagara Falls Niagara Falls is one of the most spectacular and famous sights in North America. The US/Canada border bisects the Niagara River and the waterfalls, and a bridge over the river connects the towns of Niagara Falls, Ontario and Niagara Falls, New York. The Canadian side of the falls is 177 feet (54 meters) high and has a crest 2,200 feet (671 m) long, forming a deep curve and earning the nickname Horseshoe Falls. The American falls are higher at 183 feet (56m), but are only 1,075 feet (328 meters) wide and somewhat less spectacular due to a rock slide in 1954 that left a number of boulders at the base. Until the 1840s, there was only a small pathway which led to the falls. Tourists did not begin arriving until the railroad made the area accessible to large groups of people. By 1885, the Ontario Legislature established a commission to preserve the natural beauty of the falls on the Canadian side of the border. Throughout its history, Niagara Falls has been a place for daredevils who have tried to go over the falls in barrels and rafts, or even cross them by riding a bicycle on a tightrope. Some of these pranksters survived, but many did not. Today, Niagara Falls is a combination of honky-tonk side shows, honeymoon hotels and awe-inspiring natural beauty. Toronto Population 2,503,281 Elevation 249 ft (76 m) The Huron Indians introduced French explorer Etienne Brule to their 'meeting place' in 1615. This spot, which would become Canada’s largest city, was not settled until 1814 and would not be named Toronto until 1839. During the 19th century, the city boomed with increased traffic on Lake Ontario and the arrival of the railroad at the end of the century. By the end of World War II, the city was growing quickly and attracted many immigrants from around the world. Because of its strategic position on Lake Ontario and its proximity to raw materials, Toronto has become a very prosperous and cosmopolitan city. Today, metropolitan Toronto is still one of the fastest growing cities in North America. With the CN Tower, the world’s 2nd tallest freestanding structure, dominating the skyline, the cityscape is very futuristic. Nearby, the Skydome is one of North America’s only domed stadiums with a retractable roof. Along the waterfront, old factories and warehouses have turned into a shopping, dining, and theater center which attracts locals and tourists alike. Prince Edward Island Capital: Charlottetown Largest city: Charlottetown Land area: 2,195miÂ˛ /5,684km 2 Population: 142,266 Main industry: Agriculture, Tourism, Fishing Charlottetown Population 38,801 Elevation 161 ft (49 m) Charlottetown, centrally located on the shores of the Charlottetown Harbour, is the capital and largest city on Prince Edward Island. Itâ€™s a city rich in culture, playing a significant role in Canadian history. The first European settlers in the region were French; however after the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1763, the region came under British rule. Charlottetown was officially established in 1765 and was named after Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III of England. In 1864, elected officials came together in Charlottetown and discussed the union of colonies, which eventually led to the formation of Canada. Today, the city still takes pride in preserving its heritage and is known as the 'Birthplace of the Confederation.' Prince Edward Island Quebec Capital: Quebec Largest city: Montreal Land area: 527,079mi²/1 365,128km 2 Population: 7,907,375 Main industry: Maple syrup, dairy products, fruit and vegetables, foie gras Montreal Population 1,906,811 Elevation 764 ft (234 m) The city of Montreal is situated on an island, the Ile de Montreal, at the point where the St. Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers meet. The island’s most notable feature is Mont Royal, rising 765 feet (233 m) above the island, which today is a beautiful park accessible only by foot and horse drawn vehicles. The first European to come across the island was the French explorer Jacques Cartier, who discovered a settlement of Hochelaga Indians living there. A trading post was set up on the island by 1611. The city remained under French control until the French and Indian War (the Seven Years War), when it was captured by the British and ceded to Great Britain by France in the Treaty of Paris in 1763. During the American Revolution, Montreal was captured by the American forces and occupied for nearly seven months. Today, Montreal is Canada’s second largest city, and although it lies 990 miles (1,600 km) from the ocean, it is one of the country’s major seaports. Confined to the Ile de Montreal, the city has had to move skyward in order to accommodate its growing population. Despite its multicultural heritage, Montreal, like the rest of Quebec, is very French. Two-thirds of its population speaks French, making it the largest French-speaking city in the world next to Paris. The French influence is very evident throughout the city – from its bilingual signs, to its cuisine and the ‘joie de vivre’ of its citizens. Quebec City Population 491,142 Elevation 575 ft (175 m) Quebec’s first inhabitants were First Nations Peoples who migrated across the Bering Land Bridge thousands of years ago. In 1534, explorer Jacques Cartier claimed this territory for France. However, it was not until Samuel de Champlain established a fur trading post in 1608 that Quebec City would become the first permanent French settlement in North America. Britain and France fought 150 years for control over the new land with Quebec City becoming a major battleground. Following the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759, the English took control of Quebec City and completed the walls around the city in 1775. In 1887, Quebec City became the capital of the Province of Quebec as it entered the confederation. In 1985, Quebec City became North America’s only urban area to be named a World Heritage Site. Today, Quebec City is a busy seaport, an important center of services and research, and a cultural hot spot. Château Frontenac, Quebec Mexico Capital: Mexico City Population: 103,400,165 Land Area: 761,629miÂ˛ /1,972 550km2 With its Ancient pyramids, beautiful Spanish colonial cities, white-sand beaches, spectacular scenery, friendly people and delicious cuisine, Mexico welcomes visitors with its plentiful attractions. The country features more than 2,000 archaeological sites, including 31 that have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. United Statesâ€™ southern neighbor, Mexico is a federation, of 31 states. Chichen Itza, Yucatan Mexico Alamos Population 13,000 Elevation 1,346 ft (410 m) Surrounded by the Sierra Madre Foothills in northwestern Mexico, Alamos is one of the country’s most beloved colonial cities. Alamos was claimed as a Spanish colony by Francisco Vasquez de Coronado in 1540 but it wasn’t until the 17th century that developers realized they were literally sitting on a silver mine. The city quickly boomed to its colonial height and mansions began to line the streets to reflect the steady influx of silver fortunes. Eventually the mines were depleted of their wealth and many of the early settlers chose to move on. But shortly after World War II, the city was revitalized with a new population concerned with restoring the beautiful colonial structures to their silver-era magnificence and returning Alamos to its status as a colonial treasure. Alamos is picturesque and cherished by the people in Mexico. Graced with 188 National Historic Monuments, it is currently in position to become Mexico’s next UNESCO World Heritage Site. the white-sand beaches. Cancun is also considered the gateway to the Maya world, a short drive to such archaeological sites as the pyramids of Tulum and Coba. Chichen Itza Located in the northern-center of the Mexican state of Yucatan, Chichen Itza is one of the most famous and extensively-studied archaeological Maya centers in Mexico. Over 1,500 years old, the Pre-Hispanic City of Chichen Itza was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988. Throughout the site, there are great examples of Maya-Toltec civilization through stone monuments and artistic works filled with cosmological symbolism. The structures at Chichen Itza are divided into three distinct sections due to the differences in architectural style. The north area of structures is considered to be Toltec in style. The central group of structures appear to be from the early period. The southern area of the site is known as Chichen Viejo (Old Chichen). The most impressive and famous structure of the site is the step pyramid known as Temple of Kukulkan or sometimes referred to as El Castillo (The Castle). The pyramid is constructed with 365 steps representing the solar year. During the spring and autumn equinox, the structure’s corner tiers cast a shadow in the shape of a feathered serpent along the west side of the north staircase during sunrise and sunset. In the evening, visitors can enjoy a different perspective of the temple when the site is illuminated with an amazing light and sound show. Campeche Population 211,671 Elevation 33 ft (10 m) Located on the southwest region of the Yucatan Peninsula, Campeche is a harbor town which gives visitors a glimpse into Mexico’s colonial past. Campeche was discovered in 1517 during an exploratory expedition led by the Spanish. Due to its strategic location to the Caribbean Sea, Campeche had become one of the main ports of New Spain for importing and exporting goods, making the city a prime target for pirates. The city spent much effort and resources and constructed hexagonal city walls to defend its residents from these attacks. Today, visitors can view the forts and military architecture of downtown Campeche, which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. Copper Canyon/Posada Barrancas Elevation 5,770 ft (1,760 m) The Copper Canyon (Sierra Tarahumara) is truly one of the Western Hemisphere’s great scenic and cultural wonders. The Copper Canyon is actually a series of six distinct canyons running through the northern region of Mexico. The overall canyon system is nearly four times larger than the Grand Canyon in the United States. With their copper green color for which they were named, the canyons are breathtaking. The railroad line operating through the canyons and mountains is impressive – the Chihuahua al Pacifico Railroad, or ChePe, runs along Canyon Urique between Chihuahua and Los Mochis on the Gulf of California. It runs along some 405 miles of rails with 39 bridges and 86 tunnels. As the trains stop through several small villages along the railway, visitors will have the chance to meet the local Tarahumara Indians laying out their food, crafts and other wares for sale. Cancun Population 705,000 Elevation 33 ft (10 m) Located in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, Cancun is situated in the northern region of the Yucatan Peninsula and borders the Caribbean Sea. It is surrounded by vast ecological reserves and is home to the second largest reef system in the world. Cancun was once a small fishing village until the Mexican Government deemed the area an ideal location for a new tourist destination. During the 1980s and ‘90s, the city steadily grew with the development of new hotels and resort facilities. Visitors can enjoy a variety of nautical activities such as boating, scuba diving, snorkeling and fishing, in addition to relaxing on El Fuerte Population 30,000 Elevation 590 ft (180 m) El Fuerte is located in the Mexican state of Sinaloa and is often referred as the gateway to Mexico’s Copper Canyon and the Sea of Cortez. The region was founded by the Spaniards in 1564, but the city suffered attacks from Indians. In 1610, a fort was constructed to defend the area; it now remains an important city landmark. El Fuerte was the first capital of Sinaloa and is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the state because of its enchanting colonial atmosphere. Constructed during the 18th and 19th centuries, visitors can view historical structures such as the Municipal Plaza, Posada Hidalgo, and The Plaza de Armas. Paquime/Casas Grandes Paquime (sometimes referred to as Casas Grandes) is one of the most important archaeological sites in Northern Mexico. Located in the northwest region of the Mexican state of Chihuahua, this area was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1998. It was once an important trade and cultural contact center between the Pueblo culture of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico and the more advanced civilizations of Mesoamerica. The civilization peaked during the 14th and 15th centuries as the earthtoned ruins show evidence of an intricate water system and architecture adapted to the physical climate of the region. Today, significant restoration has been done to the site, but there are some areas that remained unexcavated. Visitors can learn more about this ancient civilization at the adjacent museum and visitors’ center featuring intricate exhibits and displays. The center also offers an opportunity to purchase local native arts and crafts of the region. Merida Population 734,153 Elevation 33 ft (10 m) Merida is the capital city of the Mexican state of Yucatan and is one of the largest cities located on the Yucatan Peninsula. Discovered by the Spanish in 1542, the city was built on the Maya city of Tho, once the thriving center of Maya culture thanks to its strategic geographic location near both land and sea. Merida became independent from Spain’s rule in 1821 and the city was able to prosper and develop due to the production of henequen (sisal fiber). During the 17th and 18th centuries, many grand estates were constructed and are magnificent examples of Spanish colonial architecture. Constructed with white limestone walls and white paint, these structures earned Merida the nickname, 'White City.' Carefully preserved today, some of these buildings still line the city streets and have been transformed into banks and office buildings. Visitors can also experience Merida’s colonial past at the Central Plaza’s Cathedral and the historic Paseo de Montejo, modeled after the Champs Elysees in Paris. San Carlos Population 7,000 Elevation 33 ft (10 m) San Carlos, a subdivision of the port city of Guaymas, is located on the coast of the Sea of Cortez in the northern Mexican state of Sonora. This coastal desert region is known for its rugged surrounding mountains and cactus, beautiful beach scenery and warm waters, ideal for nautical activities such as canoeing, sailing, and snorkeling. Visitors can also enjoy relaxing on Algodones Beach (Cotton Beach) characterized by white sand dunes, coves and beach resorts. The area is also known for the first modern cultured pearl farms in the Americas. Uxmal Situated in the Mexican state of Yucatan and southwest of Merida, Uxmal is an impressive archaeological site in the Puuc hills and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. Uxmal means 'built three times,' and is considered one of the best restored and maintained Maya sites due to the quality of its original construction. Once a great religious center, the site’s original carvings indicate that its priests had a significant interest in astrology. The House of the Magician is considered one of Uxmals’ most impressive structures. According to ancient legend, this 100-foot-tall pyramid was built in just one night. Also impressive is The Governor’s Palace and its spectacular examples of stone carvings depicting astrological symbols. Visitors can also experience the magic of Uxmal at night when a light and sound show illuminates the ruins. Playa del Carmen Population 100,383 Elevation 49 ft (15 m) Situated on the coast of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo and south of the Maya site of Tulum and Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve, Playa del Carmen is characterized as a relaxing beach escape, an alternative from the more bustling Cancun. Once a sleepy seaside village, 'Playa' as the locals call it, has been discovered by travelers drawn to its beautiful Caribbean beaches and turquoise waters, ideal for scubadiving, snorkeling and a variety of other aquatic activities. Visitors also enjoy shopping on Playa del Carmen’s Fifth Avenue lined with shops and vendors selling jewelry and local handicrafts. There are many quaint restaurants and cafes in Playa del Carmen which are perfect for sampling Yucatan cuisine. Note: The information provided in this document is intended to give a general overview of the destinations you will visit. Information provided is subject to change without notice and is dependent on a variety of factors. USA, Canada & Mexico USA, Canada & Mexico USA, Canada & Mexico USA, Canada & Mexico Big Sur Coastline, California