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What Would You Recommend to Foreign Visitors

If you were to recommend places in your country to people outside your country or even off continent, what would you recommend?

When we travel here in the U.S we hear German in the Rocky Mountain west and French in the Southwest. I suggest Yellowstone and the Southwest for Europeans as they are beyond anything similar in Europe, Asia, or Australia. Not my personal favorite, but uniquely American culture can be found in LA and Vegas.

Posted by
11887 posts

I also encourage the National Parks particularly Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. I also recommend the sights around there such as Cody WY and a drive on the Beartooth Highway and Chief Joseph Scenic Highway. The other classic road trip is the combo of Grand Canyon plus the Utah National Parks of Zion, Bryce and Arches along with the Monument Valley Tribal Park.

Based on questions asked on the Road Trip forum on Trip Advisor many are also interested in following the stretches of Route 66 that are still intact. That always surprises me but then I remember having to drive Route 66 before there was interstate so it holds no allure for me.

Posted by
2020 posts

Based on my experience, I would recommend foreign visitors see:
The Golden Gate Bridge (and San Francisco)
Muir Woods
The Napa Valley wineries
The beaches of Santa Monica / Malibu, CA (virtually the entire coast of California)
Yellowstone and Yosemite National Parks
New York City
Las Vegas

Posted by
3653 posts

Every summer we exchange homes with a different family/region in Europe. It's been interesting to hear what they want to do and see on the west coast. There are big things such as Yosemite, LA and San Francisco. But it's been some consistent other things that have surprised me such as a specific nature park, a nearby former stagecoach stop, Death Valley, THE Hollywood sign, etc.

The common denominator seems to be their German/French/Dutch guidebooks. It's an eye opener to browse your own region's guidebooks in a bookstore in Europe. Take a look at one the next time you are in Europe.

Posted by
2487 posts

It's an eye opener to browse your own region's guidebooks in a bookstore
It is! People are directed to places where I have never been and which I would definitely not consider the best this country of mine has on offer. Guide books emphasize places which meet the expectations of visitors of what is »typically Dutch«, but are in my not so humble opinion superficial clichés and not the real thing.
A special case is the Anne Frank Huis in Amsterdam and - which until recently was totally unkown to me - the Corry ten Boom Huis in Haarlem. For the Dutch other places are much more a place of remembrance than for foreigners.

Posted by
261 posts

Jen, it's a nice thread developing here ... thanks for starting it off.
My strongest recommendation has always been Washington, D.C. (plus other area attractions (i.e., Mt. Vernon))
If the person(s) likes big cities, then NYC is a no brainer" and, is but 4 hours away from D.C. by train (but, I'd plug for visiting historical and walkable Philly).
Once again, based upon the person or family's preferences, Florida has much to offer - Disney for families, Miami for sun and party lovers, Gulf Coast or the Keys. I'also recommend New Orleans, the Southwest, especially New Mexico and Utah; and, lastly, New England and Boston.

Posted by
544 posts

My Norwegian relatives are always blown away by the traffic and how Seattle just goes on and on and on. "Everything really is bigger in America" is a common topic. Also how nice we (Americans) are... until we get in our cars.
I took my cousin and her husband to Pike Place Market here in Seattle just as they were setting up in the morning. She was shocked with the quality and variety of produce. Also how friendly everyone is and the mountains of samples we received. Very fun before the crowds arrive.

My oldest uncle could not believe the size of the trees and had to take a picture trying to put his arms around one. This was just a typical douglas fir, not old growth, definitely not a redwood.
Another cousin, when he was about 10, couldn't believe what he got when he ordered a chocolate milkshake. Giant glass, whip cream, cherry and another metal cup with way more where that came from.

Posted by
2258 posts

As pointed out above, it's interesting to consider what you would do with two weeks, for example, in the U.S., coming from Paris, or Buenos Aires, or..Leiden! People seem to be happy with their place of residence, judging from responses so far. Having said that...California pretty much has everything, with the exception of really old (400 years haha) buildings like on the east coast, and I do think that Washington DC would be high on a traveler's list.

What would a typical Europeans two or three week itinerary look like?

Posted by
2526 posts

Of course Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, countless real wild animals, along with the fun local bits of culture in Montana, including various events, BBQ and craft beers. Certainly also the national parks in Utah. Despite my contrary feelings, some of our European friends think Las Vegas is worth a visit. If time permits, take a spin along the Oregon Coast. All of our friends love the many miles of uncrowded roads, affordable BIG auto rentals and cheap gas. Yeeha!

Posted by
7738 posts

Foreigners I've talked to are always interested in cowboy country - the American Southwest. From the movies, they want to see cactus and desert; someone mentioned Monument Valley earlier. Lots of interest in Native American culture too.

Posted by
14077 posts

If I had to recommend places to somebody coming from Italy, I would probably base that recommendation on what impressed me the most when I was an Italian tourist visiting America for the first time.

Generally I was impressed by the things that were radically different from anything I could see in Italy/Europe.

Engineering marvels would be very impressive to Europeans. For example I loved the freeways and the freeway junctions in Los Angeles. I couldn't stop photographing the interstates in LA at commute time. I was also very impressed by the tall glass skyscrapers of course, especially coming from Florence where no building can be taller than the dome of the cathedral. The Golden Gate bridge would also fit in this category.

The theme parks (like Disneyland or Universal Studios) also fall among engineering marvels and were also very impressive for me, even though I was not a young kid anymore. I would also include Las Vegas in this category, since Vegas is a theme park more than a city. Chinatown, Fishermen's Wharf were only ok to me. Coit tower was a total joke to me, I don't even know why it's featured on guidebooks.

The monuments of Washington DC would also be of interest to a European, mainly because they see the White House and Congress on TV so much that you'd want to see it in person. In NYC, the iconic Statue of Liberty, the United Nations, the Brooklyn Bridge, and (unfortunately) the WTC memorial would also be something people would want to see.

Of the museums/exhibits, the museums involving technology/science have always appeared the greatest thing about America to me. The Aeronautics museum at the Smithsonian and the Space Center at Cape Canaveral (and also the museum of Natural History in NYC) fit that requirement.

As far as parks are concerned, the southwest desert landscapes of California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah (like Monument Valley or Grand Canyon or Death Valley) are also very impressive for Europeans since nothing similar is available in Europe. They also are reminiscent of the wild west, and many Europeans grew up watching western movies.

I was not too impressed by Lake Tahoe and Yosemite (not much different from the Alps or the Dolomites) and, coming from Tuscany, the wine country of Sonoma and Napa Valley didn't really do too much for me. It was basically a fake Tuscany with overpriced wine. The beaches (including the 17 mile drive in Monterey/Carmel) were ok, but I was not impressed by the freezing waters. You can probably find beaches that are as nice, or nicer, in Sardinia or Greece (with warmer waters).

Hawaii disappointed me a bit the first time. Italians have this view of Hawaii as being a very lush tropical paradise. The skyscrapers of Honolulu broke that dream image for me. I might have had a different opinion if, instead of Oahu, I had gone to Kaua'i (which I saw later and I visit yearly now). I would not advise a European to visit Honolulu or Maui (both too developed) to see Hawaii. But they'd probably love the other islands.

Posted by
4637 posts

In the USA I would recommend unique nature of Southwest. You won't find anything similar in Europe. Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, National Parks of Utah.
Beautiful nature generally: Yellowstone, Grand Teton, North Cascades National Park.
Cities in the US: San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, New York City, Washington D.C., Charleston, Savannah.
In my other country - what used to be Czechoslovakia - I would recommend - find it here:

Posted by
1806 posts

What I would recommend would be dependent on a number of things. What season are they visiting? What region(s) are they interested in covering? They tend to have more vacation time, but even with a couple of months, they still can't possibly see all of the United States. Are they planning to drive while here or are they trying to rely on buses, trains or guided tours (just like some Americans are freaked out driving on the left, some Europeans get a little unnerved driving on the right and dealing with some massive interstate highways)? Are they more into cities, or do they prefer small towns or more rural areas?

Northeast: NYC (they all want to see it at least once). For U.S. history: Boston, Philadelphia, DC. If they are coming in the summer, a trip to Block Island, RI, Maine coastline or somewhere along Cape Cod. If it is the Fall foliage season, a trip to Vermont, The Berkshire or White Mountains. Winter would merit some skiing in northern Vermont.
South: New Orleans & Nashville (both interesting for those who enjoy music), Savannah and Miami/Key West.
Midwest/Plains: Chicago, Badlands National Park, Mount Rushmore
Southwest & CO: Grand Canyon, Sedona, Arches, Canyonlands, Monument Valley, Rocky Mountain NP (skiing in Steamboat or Winter Park if trip during season - skiing or snowboarding out West very different from skiing in Northeast as snow much more powdery and not icy).
West Coast: San Francisco, Big Sur & PCH, Redwoods/Muir Woods, L.A., Catalina Island, Yosemite
Pacific Northwest: Seattle, Portland, Mt. Hood, Mt. Rainier, Yellowstone NP
Alaska: Denali National Park

Posted by
4115 posts

Museums, especially art. All that great art without those European crowds, well lit and air conditioned too.

Since 96% of the US never sees a European tourist I suggest any part of that.

Posted by
13810 posts

That depends on the time factor of these European tourists, aside from the In SF you run into lots and lots of French and Germans in the tourist areas. I would recommend them to see Calif (as pointed out above it has just about everything, certainly in landscape) and the South, including Texas, above all, Atlanta, Memphis (for the food and music culture) and "well down yonder in New Orleans " which for eighty years was French.

Posted by
565 posts

The national park system, the Rockies, and the Grand Canyon.


New York and Chicago for those interested in architecture

San Antonio/Austin for the Alamo, live music, and a successful blend of two cultures into one.

Posted by
15365 posts

The Colorado Plateau - there's simply nothing remotely similar in Europe. Breathtaking scenery with the added attraction of driving on good roads with hardly another car in sight.

Yellowstone for the geological oddities, but even more for the abundance of wildlife - another element not seen in Europe. The problem with Yellowstone, aside from the remoteness, is the very short window for a good visit: late spring (snowed in before that) and early fall (snowed in after that), but not during school vacation when it's swamped with visitors.

As for my little country - well, just about everywhere.

Posted by
3934 posts

New York City for a start , but then off into New England - cities like Boston MA , Newport RI , The countryside of western Massachusetts ( the Berkshire Hills ) , Vermont , and New Hampshire , the seacoasts of Connecticut , Massachusetts , and Maine . Unending art , history and culture at every turn !

Posted by
5719 posts

I travel to see something different than at home, so I would recommend Montana, The South, and Hawaii for Europeans.

Posted by
6113 posts

For visitors to the UK, I would recommend that they take their time and see an area properly, rather than just covering London / Stonehenge/ Bath/ Cotswolds / Oxford in a mad rush. Apart from London, none of these would be on my Top 10 places to visit here, interesting though they are. I also recommend car hire to get to see an area in detail. I have never had a problem with driving on the "wrong" side of the road, such as in the States or in Europe - it's not difficult, as hire cars are on the correct side.

The holidays that I have had in the USA have all been varied and the things that I have enjoyed the most are those that I have not previously heard of, such as Hancock Shaker Museum in MA and Bodie former gold rush town in CA, in addition to the bigger sites such as the Smithsonian and Alcatraz. I preferred Washington to New York.

In the UK, I would recommend:
Northumberland rather than the Lake District (fantastic coastal scenery, castles and far less traffic and it is usually not as rainy);
Chester as an alternative to York;
Rutland Water and the nearby towns of Oakham, Uppingham and Stamford rather than the Cotswolds (fewer tourists therefore less traffic and just as pretty);
Cheltenham former spa town near Bath;
Whitstable in Kent, a fishing town now with lots of art galleries etc;
Rye/ Hastings/ Lewes/ Brighton for history and coastal scenery plus head inland to Alfriston and Jevington (home of banoffee pie);
the North Norfolk coast plus the Norfolk Broads and Norwich with a day trip to Constable country in Essex;
the New Forest and
the Yorkshire Dales and/or the North York Moors plus Whitby.

Join the National Trust as an overseas member and visit the fantastic gardens and homes such as Sissinghurst, Hidcote, Waddesdon Manor, Chartwell, Fountains Abbey and one of my favourites, Quarry Bank in Styal, Cheshire.

Never do single night stays and try some B&Bs whilst here - much nicer than faceless hotels. Try to set the pace so that you don't go home feeling like you need a holiday to get over your trip here!

Posted by
31819 posts


Since you asked about "places in your country", a few thoughts come to mind. I didn't comment in the other thread about "what foods to recommend to visitors", since the title of that one was specific to the U.S.

I find that visitors to Canada usually come here to see specific places or sights, places which they may have seen in movies or tourist brochures. I'm more familiar with sights in western Canada, but some of the places that come to mind are....

  • Vancouver Island - Victoria (Tea at the Empress), Tofino, Whale watching, surfing, West Coast Trail, Salmon Fishing along the west coast (Painter's Lodge in Campbell River was visited by John Wayne, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, among others).
  • Vancouver and area - Gastown, Stanley Park, Whistler, Grouse Mountain, good dining options.
  • Rail trips - Via Rail through the "spiral tunnel" either as far as Toronto or just to Calgary. There's also a route from Toronto to the Maritimes.
  • Banff / Jasper - spectacular scenery, wildlife.
  • Calgary - Stampede in the summer.
  • Maritimes - Peggy's Cove, other sights in the area.
  • Toronto
  • Quebec - Montreal and especially Quebec City
  • And of course I must mention the Okanagan - great scenery, summer activities such as boating, hiking, winery visits, hiking, bike trips to places like the Kettle Valley Railway, winter activities such as skiing / snow boarding / tubing at some of the excellent resorts in the area.

Of the visitors that I've spoken to over the years, there haven't been many from Italy unless they're here for a specific purpose such as a Curling tournament. The tourists I've encountered seem to be mainly from the U.K., Germany and the Netherlands, and many of those like to rent a Motorhome and explore "off the beaten track". I spoke with one couple who were returning to Europe after a holiday here and they thought it would be relatively easy to drive from the Vancouver area in a Motorhome and explore the Alaska Highway. They were "educated" very quickly on the realities and distances here!

Posted by
648 posts


I've copied and pasted your list into my travel file. Too many years ago, I did a month long loop up Wales through The Lake District, cutting across at Carlisle and then up to Edinburgh and finally down though York. Chester, Hadrian's Wall, and the Yorkshire Dales were some of my favorite places. I'd like to make that loop again with some new places and a few old ones. Thank you.


Of course Canada is fair game. I was hoping to see more European answers too. I giggled a little about the distances. It's not just Europeans who have a distorted sense of the size of the U.S. and Canada. An online acquaintance from the East Coast recently wanted to know if we could meet in the middle for lunch while she was in San Francisco. I live in Portland.

Posted by
559 posts

One area rich in history not even a lot of Americans know about is the area from Natchez, MS to New Orleans, LA. Beautiful architecture, lots of Native American, Civil War, colonial French/Spanish/English, and African American history. We drove along the Natchez Trace one trip, stayed in Natchez for a few days and finished a few days in New Orleans after stopping along the Mississippi River plantations. It's obviously mentioned in German guidebooks as we ran into more German tourists than Americans. A close second to this type of trip was one we took along the James River and ended in DC.

Agree completely with Jennifer above. We spent a couple of days in Chester after Paris a few weeks ago and will definitely be back to this little jewel of a town.

Posted by
31819 posts


"An online acquaintance from the East Coast recently wanted to know if we could meet in the middle for lunch while she was in San Francisco. I live in Portland."

That's almost unbelievable! How could somebody that lives here not be aware of that? I know from first-hand experience what the drive from San Francisco to Portland is like, as I've driven that route several times. That's about 600 miles via I-5, which is absolutely NOT a "meet for lunch" situation. That's roughly the same distance / time as Portland to Vernon (where I live), and I've driven that route several times also (one of my relatives was living in Portland).

Posted by
648 posts


She just hadn't really looked at the distances. She just thought California and Oregon are neighbors and San Francisco is in Northern California so it must be close. What wasn't actually entering her thought process is just how big California is. It's not an uncommon Eastern mistake about the West.

Posted by
15365 posts

Jen, that reminded me of this tale. A friend of mine lives in Phoenix. Her nephew is from New Jersey. He flew in and rented a car. He mentioned to her that the "cheap map" of Arizona he got from the rental company only had the main roads and he wanted to get a better one. She laughed - "Honey, you're in the West, those are ALL the roads."

Posted by
2526 posts

Chani's tale jogged my memory of a phone conversation involving a federal employee in D.C. planning a trip to Alaska and my supervisor. The employee was quite excited about all the villages easily reached by road from Bethel. So, he would book a rental car and off he'd go. My supervisor calmly advised that what appeared to be roads on the map were really rivers. Book a Cessna 185 was the advice.

Posted by
11294 posts

Yes, the scale of the US is different in different parts of the country. Someone on another forum wrote how dazzling it was to her, as a Californian (where you can drive for many hours before getting out of the state) to take the less than four hour train ride from New York City to DC and pass through so many states in such a short time (New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland). She said that it became clear when she mentioned this to locals that they weren't as dazzled, but took it for granted.

So I could easily picture the converse - someone from the Eastern US, where distances between major cities are shorter, not "getting" the scale of the Western US.

If you are visiting the UK, me and my partner love to spend a good day at Northampton, Northamptonshire, this little place is about an hour from London and it has lots of beautiful places to eat and just enjoy the day

Posted by
2353 posts

I would have to say New England for its charm, the Southwest for its unique landscape, the Rocky Mountains as they really are different from the Alps, DC for its historic significance, New York City - well speaks for itself!

Posted by
8293 posts

To be quite honest, I don't think my country, Canada, is all that interesting for tourism. Well, maybe Vancouver and the Rockies ( hello, Ken) and Montreal If you like a French atmosphere, but I have no other hearty recommendations. Oh, wait, maybe the Maritime provinces. I am happy to be Canadian, but I am not so deluded as to think Canada is fascinating. Maybe that is its charm.

Posted by
15365 posts

My goodness, Norma. You are too modest. A friend and I spent a week on Vancouver Island and could happily have stretched into two. Most Europeans don't have the opportunity to see wild animals - we saw bears and spawning salmon. The Rockies have elk everywhere, bears, bighorns, and more, plus the forests, the waterfalls, the glaciers.

Posted by
178 posts

Gee Norma,talk about sour. Have you visited Southern Ontario,in particular Niagara Falls? Have you experienced the beauty of cottage country to the north of Toronto? Or driven the TransCanada highway across the top of Lake Superior? I could go on and on but please don't put down Canada. I've only heard visitors to our wonderful country say great things about every aspect.

Tell us where you have been so we have an idea.

Posted by
8293 posts

Sorry to have upset you so, Carol. But, really, "cottage country" north of Toronto? That would be interesting to foreign visitors? They have lakes and hills and country villas and small towns and villages in Europe which are much prettier.

Posted by
13035 posts

Having spent a few years working with foreign visitors to the U.S., I can tell you what areas are most popular:

New York
Los Angeles (Hollywood)
Las Vegas
Washington, D.C.
San Francisco

Unsurprisingly, Europeans, at least on their first visit, tend to stay on the east coast. Australians, Kiwis, and others from southern Asia and the Pacific tend to first visit the west coast.

When asked why they chose the places they did, the biggest response was television. They saw these places on their favorite TV shows or in the movies.

After the places I mentioned above, they tend to want to see the big name National Parks--Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Tetons.

Once they start returning, they tend to venture to new areas that may not be as popular.

Think about it, if most people here go to France, it's more than likely they will first visit Paris before they visit anywhere else. The same is true for people coming to the U.S.-they want to see the best known places as well as those that offer the most things to see. It's much different than what a native would suggest or possibly do.

Posted by
15365 posts

Sadly, they (like many Americans) don't do their homework and are disappointed. A biggie is going to Yosemite (several hours drive from anywhere) to see the waterfalls in summer - when they dry up.

Posted by
178 posts

Actually, we have had many visitors to Southern Ontario from all over the world and they have loved cottage country. Some have gone to Northern Ontario to fishing lodges and raved about it.

Based on Rick Steves advice we went to Hallstatt. Frankly,I've seen better scenery in Canada. The Okaganagan Valley and anywhere on Vancouver Island or Cape Breton or in the Laurentians in Quebec are far more scenic. To me,the icing on the cake regarding places to visit in Canada is Newfounland.

Is that good enough for you?

Posted by
382 posts

"When asked why they chose the places they did, the biggest response was television. They saw these places on their favorite TV shows or in the movies."

Not specific about Europeans choosing US destinations. That's how many visitors choose their destinations, in general.

With the information on the Internet today, the diligent travelers can research for locations not mentioned on TV or guidebooks. It does take some effort though.

Posted by
382 posts

"In the autumn, go to Maine. Fewer tourists and spectacular foliage."

"spectacular foliage"? Yes. "Fewer tourists", Not quite.

"Acadia National Park generally receives more than two million recreational visits each year, making it one of the most-visited national park in the United States. The busiest months are July, August, and September."

Acadia is also one of the smallest National Parks.

Posted by
2353 posts

Very true - most of New England can be very busy during during leaf-peeping season.

Posted by
544 posts

Here in Seattle, I'd suggest something like this:

Activities -

Tour Pike Place Market, right as it opens to beat the crowds. See the first Starbucks (it's not really the first), find the memorial to interned Japanese-Americans and the gum wall

Walk the Olympic Sculpture Garden and the old waterfront

Do a Ride the Duck tour or Kenmore Air Seaplane tour

Visit Kerry Park

Rent Kayaks at Agua Verde in the U-District or Kayaks or Bicycles near Marination Ma Kai in West Seattle

Go to a Sounders match, Seahawks, Huskies or Mariners Game depending on the season

See an IMAX film at the Pacific Science Center

Museums are plentiful, but there are many, so that's more to individual tastes

Visit Kubota gardens

Outside the city -
Boeing 777/747/787 Factory Tour,
Hike to Rattlesnake Ledge or Snow Lake, or
visit a micro distillery and winery

Food -
There are food options from Ethiopia to Oaxaca represented in big American cities, so this list is only a start.

Use or their smartphone app to "explore the menu" to help you decide what to order:

Breakfast at Portage Bay or a similar upscale/organic breakfast restaurant

Dim Sum (the International District)

Thai Food (the Ave/University District)

Food and a tasting at one of the Elysian pubs

Fish and Chips, or other fast food, but try tarter sauce on your fries

Try a Seattle-style hot dog


Day/multi-day excursions -
Mt Rainier National Park,
Lake Chelan/Leavenworth,
Olympic National Park,
Mt St Helens,
Hood River,
Mt Hood/Timberline Lodge,
San Juans or Victoria, BC,
Vancouver and/or

Posted by
15365 posts

Chicago for PIZZA!

But, yes, the architecture is exceptional. And the world-class Art Institute, the Museum of Science and Industry - the most interesting museum I've been to, and the Terra Cotta Warriors are at the Field Museum now, so I'm looking forward to seeing them in a couple of months . . . between pizzas.

Posted by
14763 posts

Coming in late here but just ran across this thread after recommending some favorites for someone.

National Parks and Monuments! Utah's "Mighty Five", Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, Olympic, Acadia (MrsEB, we have hiked Dorr, Sargent, Pemetic, etc. there in the late Sept/early Oct and had summits all to ourselves!), Chaco Culture, Bandelier and more. I'm particularly fond of the Southwestern parks as the scenery/indigenous cultures are pretty unique to the U.S. Then again, really appreciating most of them them involves getting out the car and lacing up a stout pair of shoes so if that's not your thing...

Two favorite cities are Santa Fe and New Orleans for history, food, culture and architecture. I'm constantly surprised by how infrequently Santa Fe makes favorites lists; I wonder why? Least favorite cities (so far) are Las Vegas, Orlando and Phoenix. Miami didn't do much for us either but we were there in July and it was too hot to even breathe, I swear.

Posted by
7014 posts

I'm constantly surprised by how infrequently Santa Fe makes favorites lists

It definitely makes my top list - I keep coming back there and never tire of it. I want to retire in New Mexico (someday) - it's one of my favorite places in the US by far.

Posted by
161 posts

Try rafting on the Rogue River, and a visit to Crater Lake in southern Oregon. Peter

Posted by
914 posts

Mammoth Cave for its sheer size even if there are more dramatic formations elsewhere.