I had it pointed out to me by someone recently that everything I post about the United States on my Facebook is negative. And, he was kinda right.
Since Trump got in, I have been feeling pretty negative about U.S. politics and the future of the country, so unfortunately my outlook on the United States has been pretty bleak in general. Add to this the pathetic handling of the pandemic and it is just even more depressing.
So, I decided to write this post, to remind myself of all the reasons why I love the U.S. – and there are so many – it literally took me ten minutes to come up with this list so I am sure as I think of more it will get longer and longer.
I don’t think the United States is perfect – that it is the freest country in the world or the best country in the world (something which is an opinion anyway, not a fact). But I do think it is incredibly special and like nowhere else.
And I feel lucky that I get to experience what it is like to live there, and to have American friends and family that I care for dearly. I just hope that I am able to get back there soon.
There are people that risk their lives to come to the United States, and because of who I fell in love with, it has been relatively easy for me (although the process has not been quick). I don’t want to take that for granted anymore, because I AM lucky.
Here’s 25 of my favorite things about the U.S. Some are distinctive to certain states, and some are quite general and not unique to just the United States (I am a massive Canada lover too!)
So here we go!
Best Things About the United States of America
If I had to pick one favorite thing about the United States, it would probably be the National Park system. As a lover of nature and the outdoors, I have spent a lot of time visiting the National Parks – like the incredible Denali National Park – and I absolutely cherish them.
With so many different landscapes and climate zones within the United States, one of the best ways to experience them is by visiting different National Parks, monuments and historic sights that are found all over the country.
I love National Park campgrounds too.
As I mentioned above, I love how many different landscapes there are in the United States. The U.S. is home to nearly every climate zone that exists so no matter what kind of climate you like, you can pretty much find it somewhere in the country.
If you hate winters, then it is possible to avoid them without leaving the U.S. If you hate extreme heat, then you can avoid that too.
I love that I can see so many different landscapes in one country, how incredible is that?!
Just like with the diverse climates and landscapes, the U.S. is also home to such diversity in culture. I am endlessly fascinated by the different types of American cultures as I travel throughout the country.
There are so many cultures and cultural subsets, depending on what state you are in, what the beliefs of the people are, what their ancestry is, what color their skin is, and more.
There must be thousands of different subsets of American culture and I am looking forward to experiencing more and more as I travel throughout the country.
American Hash Browns
Just like when I am asked what my favorite country is, it’s also nearly impossible for me to decide on my favorite food. But proper American hash browns are up there.
Best eaten at a diner on a road trip, proper hash browns should be seasoned grated potatoes, cooked on a hot grill so that they are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. That’s it. It sounds easy, but only the U.S. seems to consistently do them right.
I will quite happily eat them by themselves but they are great as a part of a cooked breakfast or even as a lunch or dinner dish, piled high with other delicious ingredients. Long live American hash browns!
Oh, how I love the craft beer scene in the U.S! The United States is the front runner in the craft beer movement, and no other country even comes close to the prevalence and quality of American craft beer.
I feel so lucky that I live in Colorado too, as I think it is the best state for craft beer, with a very inventive beer scene that includes more sour beers than I have seen in any other state (my faves!), and lots of kooky flavors like Blackberry Habanero IPAs, Chocolate Chai Porters, Wild Sage and Lemongrass Saisons, and Orange Creamsicle Ales to name a few examples.
It’s pretty hard to beat a historic mountain town in the U.S. mountain states. I know there are some beauties in New Zealand, Europe, and even just over the border in Canada – hell, I even lived in one of the prettiest there for a short while.
But, unlike in a lot of other countries, there are just so many mountain towns in the U.S. that I would love to live in – there are about twenty in Colorado alone that I adore.
Mountain towns with a youthful population, with tons of fun community initiatives and events, with burgeoning dining scenes, craft breweries, and distilleries, and some with a thriving arts scene – I think that all of these things together is what makes the U.S. mountain towns special.
Some of my favorites in Colorado are Crested Butte, Telluride, Idaho Springs, Steamboat Springs, Manitou Springs, Golden, Silverton, and Ouray.
The Rockies are my favorite mountains in the world, and I first fell for them when I visited the Canadian Rockies back in 2010. Coming to Colorado for the first time and subsequently basing myself there on and off over the past four years further cemented my love for this majestic mountain range.
The beauty of this part of the world takes my breath away still, and I love the plants and animals that call the Rocky Mountains home. I don’t think I will ever get over my love affair with the Rocky Mountains, and I don’t want to either.
I love the wildlife that call the United States and Canada home. In fact, North America has my favorite animals in the world – even beating Australia and Africa. Bears, moose, elk, bald eagles, foxes, pikas, otters, groundhogs, wolves, pronghorns, marmots, skunks, raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks, bison… I love them all!
And there are still so many that I haven’t seen yet that I would love to – wolverines, mountain lions, polar bears, coyotes, opossums, badgers, lynx, and javelinas. The animals here are incredible and it gives me great joy to see them in the wild.
Wildflowers and Wild Berries
Along with the wildlife in the U.S., particularly in the mountains, I also love the colorful wildflowers and the edible wild berries that you can pick along the trails.
In Colorado in particular, the wildflowers are the best I have ever seen, with so many different types and colors, and we always gorge ourselves on wild blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and salmonberries when we are hiking.
Other than Mexico itself, the U.S. is home to the best Mexican food in the world, with New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, and California even having their own style of Mexican cuisine. I really had no idea how good Mexican food could be until I visited California and Arizona back in 2010 – a few years before I visited Mexico itself.
And now I have been spoilt with great Mexican food in the U.S., Mexican food pretty much everywhere else isn’t good enough.
As much as I love tacos, pizza is probably my favorite food, and the best pizza I have ever eaten has been in the U.S. Delicious New York style, thick-crusted Colorado pies, perfect Neopolitan, and decadent deep dish – I love it all.
Pizza in New York City is definitely my favorite – and it is absolutely home to some of the highest quality pizza in the world.
As much as I love small towns and being immersed in nature, I also love the pulse and energy of big cities, and the U.S. has some of the world’s best.
Although New York City is a bit too busy and crazy for me to want to live there, it is undeniable a world city that is exciting and dynamic, Chicago is too, then there is green and eco-conscious Seattle, a city surrounded by nature, which is more my style.
If you love the beach life, then it’s hard to beat San Diego, for history Boston, Washington D.C., and Charleston are great choices, and for foodies – New Orleans is a must.
For Native American and Hispanic culture and arts, then Santa Fe should be on your bucket list. For a taste of mountain life in a big city, then Denver is fantastic.
There are so many incredible cities in the U.S. with so much to experience.
Roadtripping through the U.S. is such a quintessential American experience, and the country is really set up, for it with lots of roadside restaurants and services, lots of affordable motels and accommodations, and even bizarre and kitschy roadside attractions.
I don’t know if there is a country that is more synonymous with road-tripping than the U.S. and it is the best way to explore this gigantic country – to really get a feel for it.
I couldn’t tell you the amount of days we have spent on the road in our little camper Casper, and they are some of my fondest memories of my time in the U.S.
I also did a six-week road trip through six states with my Dad and brother back in 2010 and it was such an incredible trip.
Check out my massive post about roadtripping in Colorado if you are planning a trip there.
For anyone that doesn’t travel a lot and lives in the U.S., it is probably just a simple fact of life that your internet is consistent and fast. But let me tell you – that is not the case in many parts of the world.
Even in my home country of New Zealand, although internet in people’s homes is generally fast and reliable, as soon as you stay in a hotel or try to connect at a cafe – it is usually terrible.
When you work online like I do, having fast and reliable internet is so important and I have very rarely had a problem finding good internet connections in the U.S., even at budget motels, Airbnbs and camping grounds when we are on the road.
Open and Friendly People
One of the things I love most about the U.S. is the openness of the American people, and the friendliness and willingness to help.
I honestly feel like I am a more open person from just living in the U.S for the past four years – more willing to share what I am feeling, and to tell someone that I care about them.
New Zealand is a friendly and relaxed country, but we have also taken on some of the more emotionally conservative qualities of the United Kingdom – not talking about our emotions, not making a fuss, men not being able to express any emotion or to be seen crying.
I really like that Americans are generally not afraid to express themselves and to tell you how they feel about you.
Fun Festivals and Events
Americans love an event and there is pretty much always something going on or being celebrated on any night of the week in the U.S.- in the cities at least.
Over Halloween alone, there are thousands of different events going on to celebrate. Want to drink beer and carve pumpkins? Want to dress up as a zombie and stagger down a main road with hundreds of other faux zombies? Want to go to a murder mystery night on a steamboat?
Honestly, whatever your interests or crazy ideas you have – in the U.S., someone else feels the same way and has created an event for it.
I have always loved a classic diner, and I seek them out all over the U.S. Whether it is an authentic 1950’s diner that has been serving for over 60 years and hasn’t changed much, or if it is a 1950’s style diner in a strip mall where waitresses dress like they have stepped right out of the movie Grease – I love them all.
And my favorite diner food – pie! The endless refills on your coffee is great too.
You can’t beat Trader Joe’s when it comes to grocery stores. It’s fun, affordable and friendly – and they even have free tasters! I miss the unique and delicious food items that Trader Joe’s stocks when I am traveling internationally, I wish they would open more around the world!
As I grew up in New Zealand, I was already a big fan of hot springs when I moved to the U.S., and luckily I moved to a state that is home to a whole lot of them – Colorado! There is no better way to relax after a long hike, or on a cold day, like a soak in a hot spring.
Colorado is home to so many incredible hot springs, both completely natural or with natural hot water piped into man-made pools, as is California, Oregon, and Idaho (where you can do an epic hot springs road trip!) among other states.
If you are a hot springs lover like me, then definitely put a Western U.S. road trip to some of the best on your bucket list.
Cajun and Creole Cuisine
These closely related but different cuisines are unique to Louisiana in the U.S., and I have always loved Cajun and Creole food when I have tried it in other places. But nothing compared to having it at the source when I traveled to New Orleans and Lafayette!
Cajun food is one of my favorite cuisines in the world, and I love how it came into existence – it’s essentially a hodge-podge of French, Spanish, African and Native American cuisines.
Both Cajun and Creole food is so unique to the U.S., and another reason to love the country. I wrote a guide to the best food in Lafayette and New Orleans if you want to try it at the source too.
The Best Trees
Aspens and pine trees in Colorado, Redwoods in California, Douglas Firs in the Pacific Northwest, Spanish moss-draped oaks in the South, crazy-looking Joshua trees in the Californian desert – the United States has some amazing trees!
Hanging out around trees just breathes life into me and always adds to my happiness, and the U.S. is home to my favorite trees in the world – or at least equal to my homeland New Zealand.
Entertainment – TV, Movies, Music, Books and More
It kinda goes without saying that the U.S. is the superpower when it comes to the entertainment world – with most of the best movies, TV shows, music, books, podcasts and more coming out of America.
About 80% of what I watch and listen to is American, and it has been for most of my life. In saying this though, I do think it would be a mistake to only consume American entertainment because you will be missing out on some absolute gems from other countries too – it’s hard to beat a Kiwi or British comedy, and if you haven’t seen Parasite yet – the South Korean movie that won the Academy Award for Best Picture – watch it, it is brilliant!
But, yeah, America is killing it when it comes to entertainment.
Nowhere does autumn like the U.S. (and Canada – I haven’t forgotten you). While I was completely spellbound by the reds and oranges of fall in New England (which can be seen from space!!), my favorite place for fall is Colorado, because I can’t get enough of the golden aspen trees.
With the stunning gold, bright white bark of the tree trunks, and the almost always blue of the Colorado sky – it just combines to be one of the most beautiful sights in the world.
Last year we got to enjoy the fall colors in both places, because fall hits the mountains of Colorado in September, and fall in New England is in October.
Over the Top Kitsch
The definition of kitsch is ‘art, objects, or design considered to be in poor taste because of excessive garishness or sentimentality, but sometimes appreciated in an ironic or knowing way’. And man, does the U.S. do kitsch big – I just love it!
My favorite place to experience good ole’ American kitsch is on Route 66 – Seligman has got to be one of the kitschiest towns in America and also one of the most photogenic because of it. Old Vegas is also chock full of kitsch.
I’m talking about incredible, delicious sweet pie, not the movie (that was only OK). I have always enjoyed apple pie, and the apple and blackberry pie my Mum used to make, but that is pretty much the extent of sweet pie in New Zealand.
It was only when I went to the U.S. for the first time that I really fell for pie, because there are so many delicious options in America! My favorites are probably mixed berry, strawberry and rhubarb, and coconut cream. But I pretty much love them all.
So there are so many reasons why the United States is worth visiting and exploring. And I will try not to forget that again.
If you liked this post, check out more of my US content:
- Ultimate Colorado Itinerary for an Epic Road Trip
- The Best Small Towns in Massachusetts
- The Ultimate Big Island 7 Day Itinerary
- The Best Louisiana Food Guide to Tantalise your Tastebuds
- Why you Shouldn’t Miss the South Bay of Los Angeles
- How to Spend the Perfect 3 Days in Denver During Summer
- Telluride: The Best Mountain Town in Colorado
- Sitka: My Favorite Place in Alaska
- Juneau, in the Rain
- Discovering the Frontier Spirit in Talkeetna, Alaska
- Seaside Seward, Alaska and Riding the Alaska Railroad
- Eating Anchorage and Other Tales from the City
- Finally Falling for Seattle
- How to Spend Two Days in Boston