Down Under Connections

North America has some of the world's most stunning scenery.  From coral reefs off the coast of Mexico to white sand beaches in Florida to the great Rocky Mountains, exploring this vast landmass could take a lifetime. If you're one of its residents, you have a tons of opportunities to explore its beauty because its all in your backyard.

The following are just a few destination possibilities on the continent of North America:


Photo by the Alberta Tourism

Too often, Americans dismiss Canada as a travel destination because they believe they should either stay in the US or travel further abroad.  The reality is this vast country offers unique experiences and is conveniently located across the border from the US.

Canada has some of the world's most diverse cities due to its broad immigration policy.  Cities such as Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver are melting pots of cultures from around the world.  Québec City is unique as it is the only walled city in North America.  The city is a piece of old Europe located in North America.  This city is consistently ranked in the "top 10" lists of leading travel magazines.

Beyond Canada's large cities, the population quickly thins out and natural beauty takes over.  Travel to Nova Scotia for maritime scenery with rocky cliffs, lighthouses and fishing villages.  Nearby, the Bay of Fundy, is famous because it is home to the world's largest tides.

Canada's premier natural attraction is the Rocky Mountains.  Alberta and British Columbia are home to towering peaks accented by glaciers and turquoise blue lakes.  The most popular spots to visit are Banff and Jasper National parks located just west of Calgary, Alberta.  The bordering parks of Yoho and Kootenay offer just as much scenery but with more manageable numbers of tourists.


Photo by the Timothy Hannan

There are many ways to experience Mexico.  Most travelers go to Mexico for its beach resorts which offer beautiful beaches, luxury resorts with a taste of Mexico's cultural and culinary delights.  The Caribbean coast is where the popular spots of Cancún, the Riviera Maya and Cozumel are located.  This area has white sand beaches with the best snorkeling/diving in the country and Cancún, famous for its nightlife.  The Pacific coast offers a mountainous backdrop for resort areas such as Puerto Vallarta, Ixtapa and Acapulco.  These cities, in general, offer a little more of the Mexican culture to visitors than Cancún and the Riviera Maya.

For a more in depth experience of Mexico, take part or all of your trip away from the resort areas.  There are amazing 1300-year-old Mayan ruins in the state of Yucatan (near Cancún) and Chiapas (bordering Guatemala).  Mexico has so many colonial cities you will have a hard time finding one not praised for its beauty.  The city of Oaxaca is one example, famous for its food, arts and crafts.  Otherwise go to the heart of it all, Mexico City.  The sprawling metropolis offers visitors a concentrated dose of the Mexican people, culture, food and history.  Mexico City is home to the Museo Nacional de Antropología, the country's anthropology museum which is a top museum of the world.

United States of America

Photo by the Timothy Hannan

For residents of the US, sometimes there is no better destination than something in your own country.  The United States is incredibly diverse with variations on the American culture depending on region.  The major cities of the northeastern US such as New York City, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington DC are cities that everyone should see at least once for the role they play in making the United States' past and present.  Escape the masses by visiting coastal Maine, the mountains of Vermont or the lakes of upstate New York.

Florida is a popular destination for a good reason, offering lots of sun and warmth.  Visitors looking for fun and sun without leaving the country flock to the state year-round.  New Orleans, Savannah and Charleston offer an authentic look into antebellum United States keeping with the relatively moderate climate of the South.

Photo by the Timothy Hannan
The United States has always been a westward looking nation and some of its best beauty is out west.  Many national parks are found in the western United States.  The Rocky Mountains and Sierra Nevada dominate the west with countless natural wonders.  Visiting the southwestern US gives you a glimpse of the unique landscape and color palette of the desert southwest.  Digging deep into that southwest landscape is the Grand Canyon, a stunning gash in the earth which averages 10 miles wide and one mile deep.  Then there's the spectacular finish to the continental United States, the Pacific Coast.  The Pacific Coast has scenic rocky cliffs and pounding waves along most of the western coast.

Photo by the Timothy Hannan
One cannot forget the 49th and 50th states, Alaska and Hawaii.  While further away from the rest of the US, the time and expense of visiting these two states is well worth it.  Alaska's "last frontier" is a dying breed of places where one can be truly humbled by nature and its awesome power.  The mountains, glaciers, lakes and wildlife here are seen in a raw, unaltered state.  Hawaii sometimes seems more like an independent Polynesian island rather than a state of the US.  This chain of islands offers a tropical paradise with a backdrop of stunning mountains diving into the sea.  For the true Hawaiian experience, leave the tourist areas and go where the locals go.

Multimedia Links

© 2012 Down Under Connections - Minneapolis, MN - (763) 202-7314