Spot celebs in LA and enjoy theme park magic in Orlando as you visit the US
THE USA’s travel restrictions end next month for fully vaxxed visitors.
Here are our top tips for where to visit when you go across the pond.
Theme park magic and sun-drenched days are guaranteed.
Park ’n’ ride Thrill-seekers will forever flock to Florida for the world’s best theme parks, which keep getting bigger and better.
At Universal Orlando Resort, you’ll feel like you’re actually flying on the latest Harry Potter ride, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. Day tickets cost from £100, but book online for the best deals (Universalorlando.com).
Early next year, the world’s fastest and steepest hybrid (wood and steel) rollercoaster, Iron Dwazi, will open in Tampa Bay’s Busch Gardens. It will be the park’s 10th coaster, joining the likes of SheiKra, a 200ft, 90°-drop beast. Book online for the best day ticket deals (Seaworldparks.co.uk).
SOMETHING NEW: Just an hour’s drive east of Orlando is New Smyrna Beach, a vibrant community of artists and surfers living in colourful, wide streets, which to many represents the real Florida. It’s a world away from the theme parks, with no chain restaurants, plenty of independent shops, 17 miles of beautiful white sand beaches and a thriving cultural scene.
It’s the perfect place to kick back and take an ocean dip – you might even see dolphins. If you have the energy for one more thrill, take a two-hour surf lesson, £80, with the pros at legendary surf school Nichols (Nicholssurfshop.com).
BOOK IT: The Night Swan in New Smyrna Beach is a cute boutique B&B with stunning views of the Indian River. Rooms start from £130 per night, including breakfast (Nightswan.com). British Airways flies non-stop from London Heathrow to Orlando, from £482.87 return.
Spot celebs and embrace good living in the sprawling City of Angels.
GLORIOUS FOOD: Grand Central Market, open daily 8am-9pm, is a downtown institution (Grandcentralmarket.com). Legendary stall Tacos Tumbras A Tomas’ pork burrito, £8.50, may be the best of your life, while Sticky Rice is the destination for Thai street food.
LA is bursting with plant-based options, but don’t miss The Butcher’s Daughter, a self-proclaimed “vegetable slaughterhouse”. Try a BLT with adzuki bacon, £11, and a rosemary latte, £4 (Thebutchersdaughter.com).
SANTA BABY: You can’t do much without a car in LA, except in city-within-the-city Santa Monica. Walk – or rent an e-scooter, from £2 per hour – along the beachside prom lined with palm trees (Birdapp.com).
Grab a coffee at Menotti’s, which has a secret menu hidden behind a photo frame (Menottis.com). Head to Abbot Kinney Boulevard, named one of the world’s coolest streets, for boutiques, cafes, bars and quirky one-offs, such as Japanese homeware shop Tortoise (Tortoisegeneralstore.com). Plus, you’re almost guaranteed to spot a famous face.
WHAT SUP? Tucked behind Venice Beach, tranquil Marina del Rey is the best spot to try stand-up paddle-boarding (SUP). Rent yours from Pro SUP Shop, from £22 per hour (Prosupshop.com). Afterwards, walk the Insta-famous Venice canals for some serious property porn.
BOOK IT: The timeless Hotel Shangri-La in Santa Monica has everything from double rooms to family apartments, from £180 per night. End the day here with a rooftop cocktail gazing out at the Pacific (Shangrila-hotel.com).
Less of a splurge but still top-notch is West Hollywood’s Elan Hotel, from £89 per night (Elanhotel.com). British Airways flies from London Heathrow to LAX, from £348.88 return (Britishairways.com).
Take a long-overdue bite of the glamorous Big Apple.
GET CARRIE-D AWAY: With filming underway on Sex And The City revival series And Just Like That…, channel Carrie Bradshaw by hitting Manhattan department store Bergdorf Goodman. The fifth floor is a Mecca for Manolo lovers (Bergdorfgoodman.com).
Don’t miss the beautiful House of Dior exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum until February 2022, exploring the fashion house’s long history. Tickets cost £18 for adults, £7.50 for kids (Brooklynmuseum.org).
MARKET VALUE: Chelsea Market in the Meatpacking District has everything from indie brands to cult lifestyle shops, such as Anthropologie, and even a fresh seafood counter (Chelseamarket.com).
For something edgier, Regeneration in Brooklyn is a new weekend market dedicated to vintage and pre-loved fashion. Set aside plenty of rummage time to locate those hidden gems (Artistsandfleas.com/regeneration). Book lovers can browse 18 miles of new, used and rare titles at unique Strand Books (Strandbooks.com).
BIG EATS: Pancakes are the only thing to order at Lower East Side chic brunch spot Clinton St Bakery. Go for classic blueberry, or our pick – a stack of fluffy, apple-pie pancakes served with warm maple butter, £12, to kick off your day in style (Clintonstreetbaking.com). New Yorkers queue round the block at Lucali, which is basically a place of pizza worship. One bite of its margherita, £8.50, and you’ll understand why (Lucalibrooklyn.com).
HIGH & MIGHTY: Breathtaking panoramic views of the city await at the top of America’s tallest building, the One World Observatory at One World Trade Center. After the ear-popping ascent in the SkyPod lift (one of the world’s fastest) takes you to floor 102, step on to a 14ft-wide platform providing live footage of the streets below. Tickets cost £35 (Oneworldobservatory.com).
BOOK IT: With generous-sized rooms, a rooftop bar and cool graffiti, the Lower East Side’s Hotel Indigo is an urban oasis. Rooms cost from £150 per night (Ihg.com/hotelindigo). At just £70 per night, Brooklyn’s Union Hotel is an affordable yet stylish crash pad (Unionhotelbrooklyn.com). JetBlue flies from London Heathrow or Gatwick to JFK, from £330 return (Jetblue.com).
- Plan your trip at Visitusa.org.uk.
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