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3rd July, 2020

Authentic American experiences

With almost four million British nationals visiting the USA every year, it’s easy to see why it’s one of the most popular holiday destinations.

If you’re looking to live out your own American dream, then there are a few authentic experiences that should be at the top of your bucket list. Ready to experience a true slice of the US? Check out some of our highlights here.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans

For a party atmosphere like no other, Mardi Gras is a must. The holiday is celebrated throughout Louisiana, including the hub of the fun - New Orleans.

Colourful Mardi Gras masks

The celebrations happen for around two weeks before and through Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday - or the start of lent. The origins of Mardi Gras trace back to Medieval Europe, but by the late 1830s, New Orleans held street processions filled with masked revellers, carriages and horseback riders to celebrate the occasion.

Today, New Orleanians call it the "Greatest Free Show on Earth", with the festivities dousing the city in music, parades, picnics, floats and excitement. Costumes of purple, green, and gold are visible as far as the eye can see, worn with long beads caught from the parade floats. Most non-essential businesses shut for the celebrations on Mardi Gras day, to make sure that everyone is free to enjoy themselves.

Seeing Mount Rushmore

The famous faces of presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln carved into Mount Rushmore

Some would argue that there’s not a more iconic American view than that of Mount Rushmore.

Located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, Mount Rushmore National Memorial sees around three million people visit each year - all drawn to witness the sculpture. The sculpted faces of U.S. presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln stand at nearly 60 foot tall, and are carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore.

Within the park itself, you’ll find great amenities such as an ice cream shop, a cafe and a large gift shop, with many open all year round.

Visitors can take a walk along a loop trail in order to get up close and personal with the sculptures, or simply pack a picnic and choose a spot where you can admire them from afar. There’s a real sense of patriotism and respect among visitors to Mount Rushmore, and visitors can expect to feel a true slice of American history.

4th July in New York City

The New York City skyline with the Statue of Liberty in view

The 4th July, or Independence Day, is a truly iconic American holiday - and there’s nowhere better to spend it than in New York City. The city comes alive with celebrations, from the iconic parades to fireworks displays, festivals and open-air events set against one of the world’s most impressive skylines.

The iconic Macy’s 4th July fireworks display is a must-see; recently set off from the Brooklyn Bridge and four barges on the lower East river, the show comprises over 40,000 fireworks - a truly iconic display. For another fitting celebration of Independence Day, head to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty - one of the most iconic symbols of American freedom in the entire country.

For a totally unique slice of Independence Day history, head to Coney Island for the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating content - which is now more than 100 years old! Witness male and female eaters competing to eat as many hot dogs as they can in 10 minutes, with the race even being broadcast live on ESPN. Truly one of the most beloved, and memorable, traditions you can witness as part of your 4th July celebrations in New York.

Visit a casino in Las Vegas

The lights of Las Vegas
The neon lights of Las Vegas light up the desert, luring in holidaymakers looking to roll the dice with Lady Luck. The bright lights of The Strip have become synonymous with the American experience, making a trip to the city a must-have on any visitors trip out west.

The Strip runs from Mandalay Bay in the south to the Stratosphere casino in the north, and there are plenty of things to see and do along the way - whether you want to venture inside the casinos or not. Why not ride a gondola at The Venetian? Or head to the top of the Stratosphere to find the tallest freestanding observation tower in the country - offering up the perfect view of the city.

If you do want to place a bet, head to The Bellagio - the casino of choice among high-rollers - or watch the pros when the casino hosts some of the world’s biggest tournaments, including the World Poker Tour. One thing is for sure, you’ll never forget your time in Viva Las Vegas!

Listen to the Blues in Memphis

The bright lights of Beale Street in Memphis

If you’re a true Blues fan, or want to experience the lure of the world of rock n roll, then Memphis needs to be top of your list of authentic experiences during your time in the US. Known as the home of the Blues and the cradle of American music, Memphis is a city bustling with life and good vibes. When you think of how many famous artists have called Memphis home, it’s easy to see why there’s such good energy lining the streets.

Head to Historic Beale Street, the entertainment heartbeat of Memphis, to find authentic live blues music at some of the many juke joints, or plan your visit around one of the annual blues events for a truly immersive experience.

For another memorable must-see, head to Graceland and walk in the footsteps of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll himself. Graceland, located at 3764 Elvis Presley Boulevard, is the second most-visited house in the U.S. after the White House, welcoming over 650,000 visitors a year to its museum. If you’re an Elvis fan, then you won't want to miss it.

Planning your trip to the US of A?

If you’re ready to go off in search of your own slice of the American dream, then we’ve got you covered.

Take a look at our cruises in the USA to plan your adventure now. 

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.