American Mental Vacationing

Once again, Happy 4th!
Once again, Happy 4th!

Because this weekend was a break from traveling, and in celebration of the recent 4th of July, today I look back on the U.S. from Germany to think about travel.

I’ve been thinking a lot about recommendations I would give to anyone visiting the United States. The country is so big and diverse that, really, where you’d want to visit is a matter of personal taste.

Other Americans I’ve met in Germany are from all different parts of the country, so what each person considers a must-see or must-do is completely different. People who like nature or grew up in the country recommend national parks. People who like culture or grew up in the northeast suggest New York City.

Times Square in New York City
Times Square in New York City

Most of the Germans I’ve met who have traveled to the U.S. went to Miami and/or Las Vegas. You probably can’t find a climate or culture gap much wider than that. California is a popular destination too, and I haven’t even traveled there. Many are also fascinated by the south or the old west, probably for the same reason that Americans find Lederhosen and cuckoo clocks appealing. They’re just different from what we have.

Old downtown Las Vegas
Old downtown Las Vegas
Alligator in a Louisiana bayou
Alligator in a Louisiana bayou

Personally, I recommend Washington, D.C. for most visitors regardless of their interests. It is, after all, the capital, not to mention home to more than a dozen excellent and free Smithsonian museums. A few of my tips for international (or American) travelers? Visit the National Museum of the American Indian, tour the national monuments at night, and see the Cherry Blossom Festival in the spring if you can. And do yourself a favor and take the Metro to get around. It’s the simplest major subway system I’ve found anywhere in the world so far.

What’s your favorite American city and what do you recommend visitors see or do?

D.C. Capitol in the background
D.C. Capitol in the background
Park benches in D.C.
Park benches in D.C.
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