A record 62 million international travelers visited the United States in 2011. From students and tourists to academics and professionals, travelers from all over the world flock to the United States each year to learn, work and catch a glimpse of the landmarks they have seen in art, photography and Hollywood.
The lure of the open road is a favorite theme in U.S. popular culture. Immortalized in literature, music and film, the so-called Great American Road Trip is a rite of passage for youth seeking adventure and is also a popular vacation choice for families.
As the Disney-Pixar movie Cars explains, there was once a thoroughfare through the southwestern United States that weaved from Chicago to Los Angeles through small towns, prairie and open desert. For most travelers, Route 66 was simply the best route west to California, one immortalized in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath as the “Mother Road” the Joad family took to flee poverty during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Whichever type of tourist you are, whether you would go for sports or museum visits, you will find ideas in these pages that take you well beyond Washington to explore lesser-known places in America. There are cliff-jumping adventures out West; music everywhere in Austin, Texas; hipster hangouts in Brooklyn; and a guide to the pure Americana of historic Route 66.