50 wonderful reasons to rediscover America – one for every state

Chris Leadbeater
·28 min read
A road in Yosemite - Getty
A road in Yosemite - Getty

With much of Europe struggling against a fresh wave of Covid infections, British holidaymakers may find their gaze turning west this summer. The picture in the US, thanks to its speedy vaccine rollout, is looking far brighter, and a new analysis of the data has suggested that the resumption of quarantine-free travel between Britain and America, perhaps by June, is feasible.

Much can still happen between now and then, but – for those who want to start planning their escape – any of the trips here could be an American adventure for later in the year. And if none of these state-by-state ­suggestions entices, you can find more ideas via national or regional tourist boards like Visit The USA (visittheusa.co.uk), Capital Region USA (capitalregionusa.org), Deep South USA (deep-south-usa.com), Great Lakes USA (greatlakesusa.co.uk), Discover New England (discovernewengland.org) and The Great American West (greatamericanwest.co.uk).

Dates and prices were correct at the time of research.

1. Alabama

This fascinating corner of the Deep South is forever linked with black America’s struggle for equality. This part of its history is well represented by the 12-day “Civil Rights & The Soulful South” road trip dispensed by Trailfinders (020 7084 6500; trailfinders.com) – which visits Birmingham (from where pivotal voice Fred Shuttlesworth hailed), Selma (the start-point for 1965’s famous protest marches) and Montgomery (home to the Rosa Parks Museum). But it also dips into another side of Alabama, the beauty of its seafront, with two nights by the beach in Gulf Shores. From £965 per person, not including flights.

alabama.travel

Birmingham, Alabama - Getty
Birmingham, Alabama - Getty

2. Alaska

America’s north-westernmost segment is a perennial favourite for activity holidays. KE Adventure Travel (01786 773 966; keadventure.com) acknowledges this with its “Alaska Wilderness Adventure”, an 11-day expedition that puts its best boots forwards in three of the state’s national parks: Kenai Fjords, where glaciers spill towards the ocean; Denali, home to the continent’s highest mountain; and Wrangell-St Elias, the largest protected space in the US system, where you can follow the Root Glacier Trail. Two departures are planned for later this year (July 24, Aug 7) – from £4,195 a head, including flights.

travelalaska.com

Find adventure in Alaska - Getty
Find adventure in Alaska - Getty

3. Arizona

It would a strange trip to the “Copper State” which failed to pay its respects to the Grand Canyon. Explore (01252 883 412; explore.co.uk) sells “Walking the Western US National Parks” – a nine-night group break that spends two days with this 277-mile-long marvel of erosion; long enough to descend 4,380ft (1,340m) to the Colorado along the Bright Angel Trail. The tour continues with a hike along the river at Horsehoe Bend, near Lake Powell – before crossing into Utah for the likes of Bryce Canyon National Park. Three departures are slated for later this year (June, September, October). From £2,509 a head, with flights.

visitarizona.com

Bryce Canyon at night - Getty
Bryce Canyon at night - Getty

4. Arkansas

One of Arkansas’s most feted locations reaches a milestone this year – March 4 marks a century since Hot Springs National Park (nps.gov/hosp) was given its full protected status. Used by Native Americans long before the arrival of Europeans, the springs are a popular spot for soothing soaks. The proof is the buildings of Bathhouse Row – some of which, 19th century in origin, are under preservation orders as strict as those safeguarding the thermal waters. The site is part of the 14-night “Cowboys, Country & Cash” road trip sold by Bon Voyage (0800 3163012; bon-voyage.co.uk). From £2,125 a head with flights.

arkansas.com

5. California

A gentle rivalry exists between the Sonoma and Napa Valleys – those twin wine-making Edens, caught in a reverie of vineyards and gourmet restaurants, 50-odd miles north of San Francisco. Which produces the superior vintages? It doesn’t really matter, but you can have fun trying to split the difference on the “Gourmet Wine Experience” offered by Smooth Red (020 8877 4940; smoothred.com) – a five-night affair which splits its time between a luxury hotel in each valley, a pair of Michelin-starred dinners, and eight, winery, tasting sessions. Designated driver required. From £3,490 per person, with flights.

visitcalifornia.com

The Four Seasons Resort in Napa Valley
The Four Seasons Resort in Napa Valley

6. Colorado

Rocky Mountaineer (0800 088 5541; rockymountaineer.com) has dealt in grand journeys across North America’s snow-capped spine since 1990. But it is only this year that it will direct its gaze beyond the Canadian stretches of the range. Its “Rockies to the Red Rocks” odyssey will trundle the tracks between Denver and Moab in Utah, taking two days over the experience, and pausing in the Colorado thermal hotspot Glenwood Springs en route. The inaugural service will not depart until Aug 15, but a further 39 trains are due to run before the season ends, on Oct 23. From $1,250 (£913) per person (flights extra).

colorado.com

Colorado - Getty/Cityscape of downtown Denver with the Flatirons and Longs Peak in the background
Colorado - Getty/Cityscape of downtown Denver with the Flatirons and Longs Peak in the background

7. Connecticut

There can be a tendency to view the “Constitution State” as an add-on to New York rather than a key piece of the New England jigsaw. But Connecticut is a splendid destination, blessed with 96 miles of coastline along Long Island Sound – much of it bejewelled with attractive cities, such as New Haven and New London. As with the rest of the region, it is at its prettiest in the glow of autumn. Scott Dunn (020 3733 9507; scottdunn.com) taps into this with its 11-night “New England for Couples”, which devotes its last two days to a luxury retreat in the rural village of Washington. From £4,200 per person – with flights.

ctvisit.com

8. Delaware

The original American state (it was the first to recognise the Union, in December 1787), has had a recent profile boost, as Joe Biden’s long-term home. But this association with the new president will not alter Delaware’s character. It is essentially diminutive of scale, its tourism product revolving around 28 miles of coastline where sand dunes rise and crab shacks serve lunch. This includes sleepy Fenwick Island, with its Shipwreck Museum, where a week’s break to the four-star Fenwick Shores hotel, flying to Philadelphia from Heathrow on Aug 7, costs £1,464 a head, via Expedia (020 3564 4855; expedia.co.uk).

visitdelaware.com

9. Florida

Tampa celebrated on Feb 7 with victory in the Super Bowl, and this underrated city offers a gateway to the Gulf Coast, with nightlife galore. Visitors keen to hit the bars of Sparkman Wharf or the clubs of Ybor City can do so via Ocean Florida (020 8131 2874; ocean-florida.co.uk) – which sells a week at the the four-star Sailport Waterfront Suites, from £915 a head, with flights.

visitflorida.com

The Everglades - Getty
The Everglades - Getty

10. Georgia

The “Peach State” remains the spiritual home of one of America’s most influential ever rock bands. This July marks 40 years since the release of the first R.E.M. single, Radio Free Europe. Athens, the small city from which the group emerged, is still keen to cheer their legacy, and suggests a trail (visitathensga.com/blog/post/rem-athens-itinerary) which ticks off Weaver D’s (the diner on the artwork for 1992’s Automatic For The People) and the railway trestle featured on the cover of 1983 debut album Murmur. A basic package of a week’s car hire and return flights to Atlanta (from Heathrow on July 24) starts at £912 a head via British Airways Holidays (0344 493 0787; ba.com/holidays).

exploregeorgia.org

11. Hawaii

It is a long way to America’s mid-Pacific state – a full day in the air. So it makes sense to maximise your time in this lush volcanic archipelago, especially if you are going there for life’s most romantic holiday. Original Travel (020 7978 7333; originaltravel.co.uk) serves up a 14-day “Hawaiian Island-Hopping Honeymoon”, which makes leisurely progress to Oahu (Honolulu and Waikiki Beach), the Big Island (Volcanoes National Park and the ever-erupting Kilauea), Kauai (the Napali Coast), Molokini (snorkelling in its submerged crater) and Maui (a luxury resort at Wailea Beach). From £5,850 a head, including flights.

gohawaii.com

Hawaii - Getty
Hawaii - Getty

12. Idaho

The perennial forgotten step-child of the Northwest, Idaho tends to be eclipsed by the hard charms of its neighbours Montana and Wyoming. Frontier America (020 8776 8709; frontier-america.co.uk) does not ignore these giants in its 18-night “Historic American West Fly-Drive”. But it also pays proper respects to the “Gem State”, in an itinerary that slips through the Nez Perce and Payette National Forests, strolls along the shore of Lake Cascade, lingers in the capital Boise, and admires the otherworldly lava fields of Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. Tailored price quote available, on request.

visitidaho.org

13. Illinois

You might easily spend the whole of a holiday in Illinois in Chicago, enjoying the bars of River North, and spending freely on the Magnificent Mile. But that would be to neglect the wider portions of a state that goes to the heart of American presidential history. Hayes & Jarvis (020 8106 2403; hayesandjarvis.co.uk) facilitates a broader perspective with its eight-day “Chicago, Galena and Springfield” tour – which visits the onetime Mississippi riverboat hub where Ulysses Grant lived (Galena), and the state capital where Abraham Lincoln’s museum, library and tomb await (Springfield). From £1,879 a head with flights.

enjoyillinois.com

Chicago - Getty
Chicago - Getty

14. Indiana

It would be unfair to say that this slice of the Midwest is all about the growl of engines – Indiana Dunes National Park cradles one of the loveliest sections of Lake Michigan. But the Indianapolis 500 – the motor-racing battle that has enlivened the state capital since 1911 – is a splendidly noisy reason to pay a visit. Last year’s event was delayed to August by Covid; 2021’s is back in its traditional slot, the last weekend of May (on May 30). Grandstand Motor Sports (0116 231 1222; grandstandmotorsports.co.uk) will run a four-night jaunt to watch it, from £1,779 a head, with flights (and is taking enquiries for 2022).

visitindiana.com

15. Iowa

Talk of travel on the US’s most revered river usually centres on the Mississippi’s curvings in the Deep South – or its Twain-inflected encounters with Missouri. Less discussed is its role as the western edge of the “Hawkeye State”. Iowa dips it toes into the current in Burlington (where Snake Alley is supposedly “the crookedest street in the world”) and Dubuque (where a wealth of Victorian architecture recalls a thriving era of boat-building and mill-working). Viking River Cruises (0800 319 6660; vikingrivercruises.co.uk) visits both with its eight-day “America’s Heartland” sailing. From £4,690 a head, including flights.

traveliowa.com

16. Kansas

The “Sunflower State” is a vast block of territory – the 15th biggest state, and pretty much the central piece of the US jigsaw. Yet it is unknown to many travellers – even the city with which it shares its name is predominantly in Missouri. Complete North America (0115 961 0590; completenorthamerica.com) pierces this air of mystery with its 14-night “Cowboys & Indians” road trip, which digs into indigenous heritage at the Mid-America All-Indian Center in the largest city Wichita, and admires the prairie from Cottonwood Falls. Oklahoma also appears on the itinerary. From £2,988 per person (including flights).

travelks.com

Kansas - Getty
Kansas - Getty

17. Kentucky

It is almost impossible to separate the “Bluegrass State” from the amber firewater it so ably distils amid its rich pasture-lands. Nor does North America Travel Service (0333 323 9099; northamericatravelservice.co.uk) attempt to in its “Kentucky Bourbon Trail” – a seven-day odyssey which sips and samples in the biggest city Lousville and the “bourbon capital” Bardstown, and peers at the comings and goings of the state’s fabled equine industry in Lexington (the kingpin of “Horse Country”). From £1,579 a head with flights.

kentuckytourism.com

18. Louisiana

The 2021 edition of Mardi Gras was scuppered by Covid, but the city has a habit of staging the festival with extra gusto following catastrophe (the 2006 and 2007 incarnations, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, were particularly celebratory). So it will be worth hanging on for March 1 2022. Perhaps via the six-day “Iconic Mardi Gras New Orleans” group tour offered by Trailfinders (see Alabama for contact details). From £949 a head, flights extra.

louisianatravel.com

19. Maine

New England’s northernmost state has rather had its thunder stolen by Covid – 2020 was its state bicentennial (maine200.org), but much of the festival programme had to be pared back. So it will be all the happier to receive visitors once the pandemic clears. Ramblers Walking Holidays (01707 819 132; ramblersholidays.co.uk) heads to the heart of it with its regular “French Quebec & New England” break – a 12-night group tour which ambles across the Canadian border for hikes amid the rustic beauty of Baxter State Park and Acadia National Park. From £4,195 per person – including flights (to Montreal).

visitmaine.com

Cape Elizabeth, Maine - Getty
Cape Elizabeth, Maine - Getty

20. Maryland

High up on the north-east shoulder of Washington DC – but much more than a suburb for the city – Maryland will blow out a few candles this year when one of its key sights hits its 50th birthday as a national historical park. The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal is rightly protected (nps.gov/choh). What began in 1828 as a 185-mile industrial artery, linking the capital to the coal-fields of the Allegheny Mountains, is now a fine option for cycling and hiking (visitmaryland.org/scenic-byways/chesapeake-ohio-canal). Purely Travel (0800 033 6335; purelytravel.co.uk) sells a nine-day road trip that lets tourists trace sections of the “C&O” in Frederick, Hagerstown and Cumberland. From £1,249 a head, with flights.

visitmaryland.org

21. Massachusetts

You can find much of what makes New England so enticing in its most famous state for travel – the big-city pizzazz of Boston, the back-roads rustic beauty of the Berkshires, the lighthouse-dotted coastline of Cape Cod. Abercrombie & Kent (01242 386 474; abercrombiekent.co.uk) offers a little of all of this with “Classic New England” – a 16-night odyssey that dips into five of the region’s six states (missing only Connecticut), but devotes much of its energy to Massachusetts, including a leisurely drive along its great peninsula, all the way to pretty Provincetown at its tip. From £3,665 a head – with flights.

visitma.com

Boston - Getty
Boston - Getty

22. Michigan

The word “Michigan” is doubly engraved on the map of the Midwest – both as the state, and as the third largest of the Great Lakes. And the two Michigans meet – the state’s Lower and Upper Peninsulas form the lake’s east and north banks respectively. These are less-populated places (at least compared to Detroit), where picturesque towns like South Haven and Traverse City survey the water. Based in the latter, Great Lakes Sailing Co (001 231 941 0535; greatlakessailingco.com) offers yacht charters. A seven-day hire of a Marlow Hunter 37, which sleeps six in two cabins, starts at $4,582 (£3,348), flights extra.

michigan.org

23. Minnesota

Should you travel as far north as this shard of the Midwest, high up against the Canadian border, you will find an underrated state which mixes the cosmopolitan twins St Paul and Minneapolis with some of the most gloriously undeveloped shoreline on any of the Great Lakes (the upper flank of Lake Superior). Bon Voyage (see Arkansas) spins both sides of this intriguing coin with its 13-night “Great Lakes USA” road trip, which tarries in the big cities, and slumbers at the lakeside in Duluth. From £1,995 a head – including flights.

exploreminnesota.com

24. Mississippi

Like Michigan, Mississippi – obviously – shares its name with the iconic water feature that helps to shape its borders. Said river is the inevitable focus of the “Journey on the Mighty Mississippi” sold by Titan Travel (0808 250 2192; titantravel.co.uk) – a 16-day break underpinned by a seven-night cruise on the American Queen paddle-steamer that halts amid the antebellum homes of Natchez and the civil war echoes of Vicksburg. Three departures are planned for 2021 (one on October 6). From £5,149 per person, with flights.

visitmississippi.org

The Mississippi - Getty
The Mississippi - Getty

25. Missouri

The literary home of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer will give a nod of sympathy to Maine, and hope that Covid recedes soon enough for it fully to enjoy its own bicentenary of statehood, which falls on August 10 (missouri2021.org). Missouri is an evocative state – and the Mark Twain connection is only part of its appeal. The 14-night “Ol’ Man River” road trip offered by America As You Like It (020 8742 8299; americaasyoulikeit.com) stops in Hannibal for the obligatory tributes to the author, but also ventures to St Louis, where the Gateway Arch is another American icon. From £1,558 per person, with flights.

visitmo.com

26. Montana

The ski resorts of Colorado have a louder profile, but Montana – two states to the north along the ridge of the Rockies – does a fine job when it comes to downhill pursuits. The jewel in its snow-capped crown is Big Sky (bigskyresort.com) – a vast expanse of skiable terrain which hits a peak elevation of 11,166ft (3,403m), and offers more than 250 pistes on which you can descend from it. True, the nightlife is quieter than in Telluride et al, but the powder is excellent. A seven-night break to the four-star Summit at Big Sky hotel costs from £2,025 per person, including flights, with Kuoni (0800 540 4270; kuoni.co.uk).

visitmt.com

27. Nebraska

This year is also a milestone for Amtrak. The American rail network turns 50 on May 1, having operated its first passenger service in 1971. Half a century later, it is still carrying travellers across the country – including through the “Cornhusker State”. The second longest route in the system, the “California Zephyr”, forges across Nebraska (via largest city Omaha) as it runs 2,438 miles from Chicago to Emeryville (near San Francisco). You can enjoy the view via the “Great American – Majestic Landscapes” tour offered by Amtrak Vacations (020 3780 2300; amtrakvacations.co.uk) – a 12-day journey from New York to Napa which incorporates the California Zephyr. From £2,099 a head, flights extra.

visitnebraska.com

Explore the landscapes of Nebraska - getty
Explore the landscapes of Nebraska - getty

28. Nevada

The neon gleam of Las Vegas often casts the rest of Nevada into shadow, but there is more to the “Silver State” than casinos and conjurers. Remarkably, considering that much of it is desert, you can ski in its high places. Notably at Heavenly (skiheavenly.com), the wintersports resort shared with California at the south-east end of Lake Tahoe, where the pistes descend on both sides of the “border”. Twentysomething travel specialist Contiki (0808 252 3487; contiki.com) takes to these slopes with its “LA to the Bay” holiday – a 12-day group tour that also pauses to party in Sin City. From £1,776 a head, flights extra.

ravelnevada.com

29. New Hampshire

Like Nebraska, New Hampshire can be enjoyed through a carriage window. The fourth largest New England state lends itself to exploration by train, thanks to the “Downeaster” Amtrak service which runs up the coast from Boston to Brunswick (in Maine), and the Mount Washington Cog Railway, which creeps up three miles – to the 6,288ft (1,917m) rooftop of the region’s highest peak. Great Rail Journeys (01904 521 936; greatrail.com) takes in both on its 10-day “New England in the Fall” group break, six editions of which are planned for September (and four for October). From £2,495 per person – with flights.

visitnh.gov

Mount Washington - Getty
Mount Washington - Getty

30. New Jersey

It may have fallen away from its Fifties heyday, and there may be an air of encountering the ghost of Sinatra in the vacant lot where the Sands hotel stood until 2007. But there is still something quintessentially American about a holiday in Atlantic City – a dash of the showbiz sparkle and casino boogie of Las Vegas, only served up on the edge of the ocean. A seven-night break to the four-star Harrah’s Resort, flying from Manchester on August 21, costs from £839 a head – through Love Holidays (020 3897 1173; loveholidays.com).

visitnj.org

31. New Mexico

Sometimes seen as one of America’s awkward characters – all Breaking Bad references and UFO “sightings” at Roswell – New Mexico fully deserves its “Land of Enchantment” nickname. Taos is so tied to Native American culture that its pueblo is listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site, Santa Fe cradles the art Georgia O’Keeffe crafted in its midst – and Albuquerque paints the sky with its annual (hot-air) Balloon Fiesta (October 2-10 2021; balloonfiesta.com). Trafalgar (0800 533 5619; trafalgar.com) will provide all of this with two editions of its 11-day “Colourful Trails of the Southwest” group tour designed to coincide with the fiesta (starting September 23 and 30). From £3,011 a head, flights extra).

newmexico.org

32. New York

The Big Apple is viewed as many thing – cultural capital, fashion hub, bucket-list destination, financial powerhouse – but rarely as a place where you might ponder flora and fauna. So there is a real element of intrigue to the “Spring Birding in New York City” break offered by Naturetrek (01962 733 051; naturetrek.co.uk). This unlikely eight-day group tour goes in search of magnolia warblers in Central Park, and eastern bluebirds in Prospect Park in Brooklyn. The company may not run the May itinerary this year, but has already announced similar dates for 2022 and 2023. From £2,895 a head, with flights.

iloveny.com

New York - Getty
New York - Getty

33. North Carolina

Though perhaps best known for the low-slung coastline of the Outer Banks, where sand dunes roll and the Wright Brothers fly in eternity, the upper Carolina is also steep and dramatic of interior, where the Blue Ridge Mountains swell upward as a side-dish to the Appalachian range. They also provide some of the stiffest challenges in the “Carolinas Bike Tour” – a five-day adventure offered by US operator Backroads (001 800 462 2848; backroads.com) that leads active pedallers along the high-rise tarmac of the Blue Ridge Parkway. From $2,999 (£2,191) per person - including bike hire and hotels (flights extra).

visitnc.com

34. North Dakota

The top Dakota is sometimes called the “Roughrider State”; an apt description for a place where the Badlands bake under an unforgiving sun. Roughriding will also be a recurring theme if you book “Maah Daah Hey” – a five-day mountain-bike romp along 99 (of the 144) miles of the trail of the same name, as sold by USA Bike Tours (001 760 765 2176; usabiketours.com). From $1,913 (£1,398) a head, including camping gear, specialist bike, bag transfers and roadside support. Flights extra. The phrase derives from Mandan Native Americans, and means (loosely) “an area that has been or will be around for a long time”.

ndtourism.com

A bison in North Dakota - Getty
A bison in North Dakota - Getty

35. Ohio

The “Buckeye State” is another shard of the Midwest which rubs against the Great Lakes – this time Lake Erie. This happy collision contributes to Ohio’s reputation as an oasis for rollercoaster fans – one of its best theme parks is Cedar Point (cedarpoint.com), where rides with names like “Blue Streak”, “Raptor” and “Steel Vengeance” loop their loops on a peninsula which juts narrowly into the water. You can visit it via “Great Cities of the Great Lakes” – a 16-day circular drive in and out of Chicago, as sold by Discover North America (0800 246 1241; discovernorthamerica.co.uk), from £1,375 a head, flights extra.

ohio.org

36. Oklahoma

Any suggestion that Oklahoma is some blank agricultural canvas of scant travel merit falls apart on the simple reminder that the USA’s most eulogised road-trip route spears right across it. That would be Route 66, which devotes 375 of its 2,448 miles to a south-westerly romp between Quapaw and Hollis – coursing through urban hotspots Oklahoma City and Tulsa as it goes. Every metre of it can be covered on the “Complete Route 66 Self-Drive Tour” (from Chicago to Los Angeles) offered by Audley Travel (01993 683 224; audleytravel.com). You will need 26 days and £5,060 a head – with flights – to do it.

travelok.com

37. Oregon

Though it is somewhat outsung in its west-coast groove – by California’s golden beaches on one side; the forested wilds of Washington on the other – Oregon is so beautiful that it merits a road trip of its own. Like American Sky’s (01342 395 039; americansky.co.uk) “Wonders of Oregon by Motorhome”. This 10-night slow-road endeavour hears most of the scenic greatest hits, including the collapsed volcanic caldera of Crater Lake National Park (nps.gov/crla), the gentle joys of Memaloose State Park on the lip of the Columbia River, and the rushing Pacific waves of Bullards Beach. From £1,479 a head, with flights.

traveloregon.com

Oregon - Getty
Oregon - Getty

38. Pennsylvania

The tale of the USA’s emergence from the grip of a colonial Britain is never too far from the country’s narrative, and you can read it with gusto in Philadelphia, where the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall are devotedly preserved. But there is more to the state than the events of 1776. The 10-day “Pennsylvania Freedom” road trip offered by Vacations To America (01582 469 777; vacationstoamerica.com) keeps this in its sights, rolling into Dutch Country – where the Amish community lives a life defied by tradition – and through the misty vistas of the Pocono Mountains. From £2,255 per person – with flights.

visitpa.com

39. Rhode Island

The smallest US state offers a holiday experience which belies its size – thanks in part to its seafront. Viewers of hit TV series The Affair will recognise Block Island, where the key characters partly stage their tryst. Of course, this off-shore jewel is popular with more than fictional lovers. It is a local travel hotspot, akin to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. It joins its two Massachusetts counterparts in the seven-night “New England Islands” small-ship voyage sold by Bluewater Holidays (01756 706 500; cruisingholidays.co.uk), from £3,573 a head, flights extra. Cruises are slated for June, July, August and September.

visitrhodeisland.com

40. South Carolina

One of the oldest cities on the North American continent (founded in 1670, and named after Charles II), Charleston is an unmissable component of the coastal South – a delight of a small city where antebellum mansions gaze at the meeting of the Cooper and Ashley Rivers, and the Civil War tinder-box of Fort Sumter (nps.gov/fosu). A seven-night break to the Belmond Charleston Place, flying from Heathrow on July 31, costs from £1,439 a head through Travelbag (020 3944 6583; travelbag.co.uk). The city’s foremost five-star is an elegant retreat, and a fine base from which to wander the state’s 187 miles of shoreline.

discoversouthcarolina.com

Charleston, South Carolina - Getty
Charleston, South Carolina - Getty

41. South Dakota

Mount Rushmore National Memorial (nps.gov/moru) is another of 2021’s birthday boys – this year marks 80 years since the completion (on October 31 1941) of the four-president carving in its granite face. You can take a peek at Messrs Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt via “America’s Magnificent National Parks” – a 15-day group break, sold by Insight Vacations (0800 533 5620; insightvacations.com), which also calls at South Dakota essentials Custer State Park and the Crazy Horse Memorial on its loop between Phoenix and Denver. One edition is slated for June 26, from £5,420 a head (flights extra).

travelsouthdakota.com

42. Tennessee

Tennessee’s capital Nashville has boosted its status as a music mecca since the turn of the year, with the opening of the National Museum of African American Music (nmaam.org) – an arrival that will sit nicely alongside the existing Country Music Hall of Fame. You can visit both via “The Sumptuous Soul of America” – a 14-day escorted journey offered by Luxury Gold (0800 206 1468; luxurygold.com) which pauses in the city (and its state colleague Memphis) en route from Chicago to New Orleans (via Kentucky, Missouri and Mississippi). From £5,063 a head (flights extra). Departures in June, September, October.

tnvacation.com

Nashville - Getty
Nashville - Getty

43. Texas

The “Lone Star State” scarcely tries to distance itself from its prevailing image as a hard-living colossus of desert dust and cowboy whip-crack. But this giant of the south-west is more than capable of finer things – as the “Ranches and Rock’N’Roll” holiday offered by Black Tomato (020 7426 9888; blacktomato.com) indicates. This seven-day break takes a luxury approach to all things Texan, opting for five-star hotels in Dallas and Austin (the arty capital, with its excellent galleries and restaurants), and a spot of boot-cooling at the lovely Wildcatter Ranch, near Fort Worth. From £3,000 per person (not including flights).

traveltexas.com

44. Utah

There is always something slightly odd about ascribing birthdays to rocks that have been around for millions of years. But then, there is much to celebrate about Arches National Park (nps.gov/arch), which marks 50 years of top-level protected status on November 12. And the sandstone shapes within it are remarkable – not least Delicate Arch, on which millennia of wind and weather have worked their magic. The park is one of the stops on the 14-night “Grand Circle National Parks Fly Drive” sold by Inspiring Travel Company (01244 435 854; inspiringtravelcompany.co.uk), from £2,999 per person, flights included.

visitutah.com

Utah - Getty
Utah - Getty

45. Vermont

While the hailing of New England as a star of autumn is justified, the region also excels in winter. Step forward Vermont, whose Green Mountains are high and cold enough to sustain a proper ski season. Indeed, Killington (killington.com) is the biggest resort in the eastern USA, with 155 pistes and a top elevation of 4,229ft (1,289m). You can tackle its twists and turns via Ski Independence (0131 243 8097; ski-i.com), which offers 10-night getaways to the four-star Killington Grand Resort Hotel, from £1,404 a head, with flights.

vermontvacation.com

46. Virginia

An alluring junction-state between the imperious north-east and the sunny south, Virginia takes it easy on its 112 miles of Atlantic oceanfront – but calls to more inquisitive tourists in its leafy interior. The 10-night “Virginia By Rail” tour offered by Purely Travel (see Maryland) takes the train and the scenic route around it, trundling out of Washington DC to genteel Fredericksburg (with its art galleries on the banks of the Rappahannock River), Richmond (home to the American Civil War Museum) and Lynchburg (alive with dining options, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains). From £1,450 a head – with flights.

virginia.org

47. Washington

The “Evergreen State” takes its geographical role as the north-western corner of the contiguous USA seriously – pushing beyond Seattle and the Olympic Peninsula into the last hurrah of the San Juan Islands. This fir-coated archipelago sits so far into the Georgia Strait that it all but bumps heads with Vancouver Island (in Canada). But while it may be an end of the line, it is also a superb place for cycling, with whale sightings very possible as you pedal around. Macs Adventure (0141 530 3601; macsadventure.com) offers an eight-day “San Juan Islands Biking Classic” which explores three islands (Lopez, Orcas, San Juan). From £1,565 a head including bike hire, hotels and bag transfers. Flights extra.

experiencewa.com

San Juan Islands - Getty
San Juan Islands - Getty

48. West Virginia

Flick your eye over the US map and you may miss West Virginia. It is a rural back-water; only the 39th most populous of the 50 states, where three of its neighbours (Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia) are in the top 12. But it is a colourful stitch in the tapestry nonetheless, part-shaped by a great American river, the Ohio. USA River Cruises (001 360 369 3755; usarivercruises.com) traces its north-west edge with a nine-day “Louisville to Pittsburgh” voyage that pauses at the city of Point Pleasant – where the River Kanawha joins the currents. Two sailings are slated for June, from $2,399 (£1,753) per person (flights extra).

wvtourism.com

49. Wisconsin

Covid has wreaked well-documented havoc on the sporting calendar. Including on golf, which has seen the 2020 edition of its biggest event – the Ryder Cup – delayed by a year. The venue, however, is unchanged; the Whistling Straits course – on the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan – will host this biennial grudge match between the US and Europe, on September 24-26. Better still, keen amateurs can do battle with its greens before the pros. Your Golf Travel (0800 193 6631; yourgolftravel.com) dispenses a five-night holiday to this feast of fairways. From £1,775 per person – including flights, hotel, and four rounds.

travelwisconsin.com

50. Wyoming

There is no need to overthink the “Equality State”. Wyoming boasts two true wonders of the US national-park system – Yellowstone (nps.gov/yell), where the Old Faithful geyser roars with fury at least every two hours; Grand Teton (nps.gov/grte), where the serrated peaks of the Teton range claw the Western sky. Each is an essential element of any visit; each features in the 12-day “Yellowstone Wildlife Trails” group tour sold by Exodus (020 3131 7159; exodus.co.uk). Next departure June 12-23. From £4,149 a head (flights extra).

travelwyoming.com