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Bostonís intimate neighbourhoods are a tapestry of historical anecdotes, politics, personalities and architectural styles. The best way to unravel their spirit is by feeling the uneven brick sidewalks beneath your feet. In between visiting revolutionary hangouts and Victoria gems, donít forget to check out the Bostonians all around you. Itís really the intersection of the past with the present that makes the trajectory so interesting.
Chicago wears its American heart proudly on its sleeve. This diverse mix has built a city with an unrivalled tradition of jazz and blues, an astonishing architecture, an appetite for hearty food, awardwinning newspapers, universities full of Nobel laureates and some of the most die-hard sports fans youíll ever meet.
Disneyland, movie stars, TV, fast food and hype - itís all here. Los Angeles may be a figment of its own imagination, but if you long to stand in the footsteps of stars and breathe their hallowed air, youíve come to the right place. Contrary to popular belief, Los Angeles does have an intellectual, refined side. Head to the Getty Centre where the collections on display at the stunning 110-acre facility in the Santa Monica Mountains, opened in 1998, costing a cool billion. Admission is free, making this one of the best bargains in town.
Las Vegas is all about glamour for its own sake, overthe- top hustle and flash. Billions are at stake on the tables. If you tire of tugging on the slot machines, the surrounding area has some of the regionís most beautiful scenery.
Memphis is best known for the rise and fall of two men who led vastly different movements. Elvis Presley rocketed to fame here in the mid- 1950s. And it was here on April 4, 1968, that the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated. Memphis culture draws heavily on claiming responsibility for giving birth to the blues in the early 20th-century.
Half of Miamiís population is Hispanic, giving the city an international outlook. For the casual visitor this means a city peppered with the flavours of Latin American food, language, music, politics and spirit.
When you think Nashville, youíve got country music on your mind. Nashville revels in its downhome glamour.
New Orleans has long seduced with its Caribbean colour, sultry Southern heat, sweet-tasting cocktails and voodoo potions. The unofficial state motto, laissez les bons temps rouler (let the good times roll), pretty much says it all. Itís a cultural gumbo of African, Indian, Cajun and Creole influences
They donít come any bigger than the Big Apple - king of the hill, top of the heap, New York, New York. Itís got its fair share of the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses, but it also has world-class museums, big statues, even bigger buildings and outrageous excess. New York is a densely packed mass of humanity and all this living on top of one another makes the New Yorker a special kind of person. Itís hard to put a finger on what makes the place buzz so hard, but the cityís hyperactive rush keeps drawing more and more people to it.
Tourists from around the globe make the pilgrimage to Orlando to visit the sprawling theme parks that, in the words of Walt, all started with a mouse. At Walt Disney World, there are four theme parks, two water parks and a shopping and entertainment district. Itís a fantastic place to bring youngsters and a nostalgia trip for the young-at-heart.
The cityís greatest attraction is the land that surrounds it: a vast expanse of untamed deserts. Phoenix is as modern as any American metropolis, with an active arts scene and a brisk economy.
Its superb coastline, near-perfect climate and Mediterranean facade make it the quintessential Southern California beach city. The boredombeating museums, zoos, animal parks and beaches are bound to keep you busy for a good few days.
San Francisco has an atmosphere of genteel chic mixed with offbeat innovation and a self-effacing quality so blatantly missing from brassy New York and plastic LA. Its hilly streets provide some gorgeous glimpses of the sparkling bay and its famous bridges. Wonderful food, sparkling nightlife and those glorious views - are there for everyone.
One of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the USA, the ďEmerald CityĒ has become an exporter of trends. Seattle has made coffee a national obsession; its homegrown grunge rock swept the nation in the 1990s; and TV series and movies often based themselves here for the cityís hip, quirky cultural and social life.
If civic politics is the American religion, then Washington DC is the nationís holy city. White houses, capital and pentagonal buildings, supreme courts - these monumental Lego shrines are rarefied with real power. To some, Washington means white marble, verdant lawns, and the colourful, ritualistic pageantry of American politics: the Capitol dome gleaming against an azure sky;a limousine processions on Inauguration Day; the mournful, sombre, stately changing of the guard at Arlington National Cemetery.
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