After living in United States for almost twenty two years, I have realized I haven't seen much of it. Somehow, I was always fascinated with what the the rest of the world had to offer rather than explore my adopted homeland. I wouldn't say I regret the decision. In my teens, I had decided that state trips will be reserved for those vacations when I have a family of my own. Who knows what whiners I will produce? Anyways, because of this decision I spent most of my time and money on grand vacations in Europe and other exotic countries. Honestly speaking, I don't think I have the stamina anymore to see so much so I am glad I checked off many places from my bucket list.
So for this post, I want to focus on those people who would love to explore more of the US mainland. Unfortunately, I haven't seen Hawaii or Alaska, in fact in the twenty some years I have lived here, I have only visited eight states, not including California (that's where I live, so it doesn't count. ha ha) ! Pretty sad, I know. Through this post, I hope my readers learn some of the fun things you can do in each state I have visited. So here goes!
New York/New Jersey: This was the first trip of many to come for my my sister and me. We were young girls, me in my teens, my sister in her early twenties and oh so excited to see the Big Apple. My first memory of New York was seeing Manhattan from the plane. I honestly hadn't seen anything like that before and we certainly don't have such impressive, urban buildings here in California. In New York we stayed with some of our family in Long Island. If you can afford it, then stay in Manhattan. They showed us around the city, but we kinda avoided it and I don't regret it because if you have a car in Manhattan you go nowhere. Some of the sights I remember seeing is the Metropolitan Museum, the Empire State Building, and the Twin Towers. I didn't see much of anything else, and because of that I want to go back. However, I regret to say how I miss those towers. Nothing there impressed me more. We were like little kids in a candy store. It's a tragedy, people can't visit them anymore. Our family also took us to a day trip to Atlantic City in New Jersey. We walked on the pier, smelled the sweet sea air, and took a nice break from the craziness called New York City.
Michigan: I have been to Michigan twice, both times in the summer. It is absolutely beautiful. I didn't see much of the sights there, but saw plenty of natural beauty. Both times I went their for a wedding. On my first visit, I got to stay on a fully furnished house by the lake. That was an absolute thrilling experience. Even though we were busy with the wedding festivities, I fit in mornings on the patio and jet skiing. So fun! The second time we stayed there was in Dearborn. Not much to say about it. A little glimpse of the blues culture here and there. The Dearborn Inn, where my brother had his wedding was absolutely gorgeous. Not much to see here, to be honest, but if you live close by, then do visit one of the many lakes here.
Texas: I came here for a work conference. I have some bad memories from the job, so know this section is pretty difficult to write. lol. I visited Houston and loved it immediately. However, there is something about the roads there, you always end up getting lost. I went in May so the weather was gorgeous. Houston downtown is quite cute and clean, but I didn't get to see it aside from getting lost of course while getting my morning coffee. I did make it a point to visit the Space Station Houston/Johnson Space Center. It's about 40 minutes away and a must see for families. I was so angry that I missed the tram to the Johnson Space Center, mostly because of my slowpoke co-worker, who was taking his time to read about each and every astronaut on the Hall Of Fame wall. That is truly the highlight of the place. There are other cool exhibits too like being able to go into an actual rocket or seeing the surface of the moon up close. Pretty darn cool!
Arizona: This was a great trip! My sister and I (of course!) went to visit her friend who lived in Scottsdale at the time. We flew in and one of the first impressions you get are the heat (it was spring!) and the rock formations (absolutely stunning). During our week there, we checked out many random things like their mall and a housing development (huh?). The highlight of the trip was Grand Canyon of course. We drove from Scottsdale and stayed about midway in a hotel. The next day we woke up and visited the Grand Canyon National Park and spend the day there. We saw the South Rim which is much more impressive than the West Rim. The famous pictures you see on postcards are from the South Rim. Grand Canyon was an absolute awe-inspiring, God-meeting, question your whole existence kinda place. It is stunning! My first reaction to it as we were driving in was a loud "OMG! This place is huge!". We took many pictures there and since we had a child (and we didn't want to) we didn't go hiking or river rafting. But, still worth a trip. Another memorable experience was the hot air balloon ride. My sister and I (while her friend's family slept) woke up wee early in the morning and got picked up in a van. It was a tour we had organized. Sorry, I don't remember what the name was, but don't fret, there are plenty of reputable companies offering tours. I had never done hot ballooning before so it was so fun seeing it puff up and then gently ascend. We flew over beautiful and rugged Arizona landscapes and then ended the tour with a snack. If you come here, please book a tour to go hot ballooning. Another experience not to miss is spoiling yourself silly in one of Scottsdale lavish spas. I booked a full body mud mask and a massage, while my sister got some kind of wrap done at the Boulders Resort and Spa. Heavenly! You get the whole suite, which includes a shower to yourself. The hot tub and steam room is free with purchase of a spa package. So fun!
Massachusetts: This was one of my recent trips. My brother was graduating medical school and the entire family made a visit to Boston. His girlfriend (now wife) also joined us. Boston is a historical city, which is a pretty obvious thing to say, but it's a beautiful city too. We went in June and the weather was gorgeous! Traffic is horrible so do put on your sneakers and walk. We took an Uber once and it took so long in the traffic that we got out. The food there is so yummy too! Try a hot pot place there. Soooo good! One of the fun things we did was take a Swan Boat ride. I learned about this ride when I taught 4th grade and read a fiction book with my students where an actual swan plays the trumpet for the riders. SO cute! Also, do take the Duck Tour. But, if you are coming to Boston, then you already know that :) We took some day trips to. One of the day trip we took was to Martha's Vineyard. Highly recommend it! Some people stay here overnight, but we didn't do that because of the high prices. We booked a day tour and the driver took us everywhere. Another day trip we took was to Salem. I was fascinated with this piece of history so I had to see it. To be honest, it's a quaint little town, but not much historical things to see. Mostly I saw advertisements for psychics and witches. I did check out Nathaniel Hawtorn's House of Seven Gables. If you like the author and the story, then this place is a must-see.
Nevada: I have seen Reno and Las Vegas and I am sorry, Nevada doesn't have much to offer than that. Reno is cool if you live close-by and want a cheaper Las Vegas experience. We stayed at the Silver Legacy, which was nice and checked out the light show and the circus there. Then we drove around and that is pretty much about it. If you want to check out Nevada and it's casinos, then you can't go wrong with Las Vegas. I enjoy it both in daylight and at night. I have stayed at MGM Grand, Luxor, and Wynn, and by far Wynn takes the cake. We had the Strip View and the rooms were so luxurious. The decor inside is pretty cool too and it has the best lunch buffet on the strip, in my opinion. I recommend coming here in the winter. Summer it's a frying pan and you miss out on all the holiday decorations. We spend days by and in the pool and checking out the hotels. The nights were for the lights, and shows. We also took trips to Grand Canyon (West Rim) and Hoover Dam. This time we saw the Grand Canyon in a helicopter. So terrifying! I made a dumb decision to walk the whole strip in ballet shoes the last time I was there. Ouch! It took like three hours and I felt like a camel in Arabia by the time I returned. You don't have to do this :)
Illinois: I have been lucky to see Chicago in summer and unlucky to see it in winter. The first time I was there was for the Oprah Winfrey show. I remember nothing from that show other than the couch the guest was sitting on. I will spare you the details. The rest of the trip was acting like a complete idiot from California enjoying the blizzard. The second time I was there, it was much nice. We stayed close to the Millennium Park and saw all the sights. It's a neat little city in the summer-clean and full of life. We took the architecture boat tour which is highly recommended by everyone, went up the Willis Tower, and window shopped on Millennium Mile (do check out the original American Girl store there). The rest of the trip was spent on food. The best deep dish pizza is honestly in Chicago. We ate at Giordanos and had their world famous pizza and also snacked on Garrett popcorn. If you are there, have their food. It's the best!
Well, that's it guys! Till next time!