5 Very American Ways for Brits to See the U.S.

FOX's Modern Family hits the road in an RV. (FOX)

FOX’s Modern Family hits the road in an RV. (FOX)

There is so much to do and see in the U.S. that you can be here a lifetime and barely scratch the surface. Most Brits here make an effort to travel the country and see the big tourist attractions, but have you ever thought about doing it a different way?

1. RV’ing
RV is for “recreational vehicle,” which is simply a huge caravan to us. RV’ing is becoming more and more popular in the U.S. You can rent RVs all over the country, choosing from huge forty footers or more manageable dimensions. The large ones sleep up to six people and have bunks and trundle beds for the kids. You’ll find RV parks everywhere and some of them are like mini resorts with activities ranging from guided hikes, art classes and shuttles to nearby tourist attractions. If Glamping is more your thing there are even RV resorts with spa facilities. The world (or the U.S.) is your oyster.

2. Cabins and camping
Along a similar line, the U.S. has many camp and cabin sites allowing you to get up close and personal with nature. If you don’t fancy the tent, a cabin is the way to go and these can range from very rustic to very luxurious. Rustic leans more toward the campsite feel, with communal bathroom facilities, while luxury often means “better than your own home” and is a real treat.

3. History buffing
We joke that this country isn’t “that old” compared to the U.K., but it’s packed a lot in all the same. From Civil War re-enactments to Custer’s Last Stand, you can see history in action (so to speak) all over the place. Most cities bring their histories to life with walking and coach tours (the Untouchables Gangster Tour in Chicago is a great example), while rural areas often have farms where you can learn ye olde skills such as cheese-making, spinning and farming methods. Here’s a great list to browse through.

4. Going underground
As well as seeing the sights, you can see what’s going on underneath the surface. Take the Homestead Crater in Utah for example, where a tunnel carved through rocks takes you to the center of the crater. It’s the only warm water scuba diving destination in the U.S. but you can also stay dry if you wish. Or, you can take a subterranean journey to the Mediterranean – in California; visit the Forestiere Underground Gardens. Patterned after the ancient catacombs, it’s a light and airy network of underground paths, gardens and courtyards. Some cities also have underground networks, now disused but open to the public. Portland, Oregon has the Shanghai Tunnels, Cincinnati, Ohio has the Queen City Underground Tours, and Seattle, Washington has a whole city now underground, which used to be the old sidewalks and stores.

5. Learning
Whatever your interest, there’s a retreat to be found. From quilting to writing, the list is endless. Retreats (not necessarily involving isolation, by the way) are often held in hotels and conference centers, where groups of like-minded attendees either polish their skills or learn new ones. Just search your area of interest plus “retreat” to see what’s on offer.

See more:
9 U.S. Vacation Destinations That Will Remind Brits of Home
Five Occasions When British Expats Should Fly Home – And Five When They Shouldn’t
10 American Places Every Brit Should Visit


Toni Hargis

Toni Summers Hargis is a British author who has lived in the USA since 1990. Toni blogs as Expat Mum and is the author of Rules, Britannia - An Insider's Guide to Life in the United Kingdom and The Stress-Free Guide to Studying in the States; A Step-by-Step Plan for International Students. She has made frequent appearances on radio and TV discussing US/UK matters.
View all posts by Toni Hargis.
  • gn

    I can’t resist the opportunity to cheekily point out that the USA is, in fact, 24 years older than the UK :)

    • sal

      What are you comparing, exactly? I have no facts to dispute what you wrote but I am curious.

      • Irené Colthurst

        I believe it is a reference to the Acts of Union of 1800. Which raises the question of how much hair-splitting one wishes to do.

        • sal

          Got it now. Thanks!

    • http://tonisummershargis.com/ Toni Hargis

      And also that the USA existed (under a different name) even before “we” came over.

      • TMarius

        No. Before there was only the void!

  • GoldenGirl

    “you can be here a lifetime and barely scratch the surface. ” That’s right , and why many Americans never go abroad, that and the fact that they have very few vacation days to split between seeing their extended families who may live miles, sometimes even many States away, on top of how expensive it is to go abroad (thanks to a weak dollar and the outrageous cost of flying) and they might actually like to see what they can of their own country – imagine that? Nice post Toni!

    • SarahKentucky

      I get 40 vacation days a year where I work. But thanks for the concern.

  • earlblue

    Just renting a car and driving around is the best way to see the US. Me and my family have taken two separate road trips going through New Mexico, through the Rocky Mountains (the ones in Colorado are the best. I have lived their for my childhood and I never got tired of the scenery), visiting Yellowstone, White Sands, and Glacier National park. We also drove up along California. The US is known for a lot of bad things (and I agree with a lot of them), but the country’s scenery is DEFINITELY not one of them

    • expatmum

      See, that’s one thing I just wouldn’t consider for a vacation. Americans are used to driving vast distances and don’t balk at a two day drive to get somewhere. In the UK, you be in the sea after a day! Perhaps it’s just me, but I think it’s because most Brits aren’t used to having to sit in a car for 10 hours at a time that it might not be appealing.
      A short drive up the California coast or anywhere scenic – now that’s fantastic!

    • TMarius

      You know we have almost every biome on Earth’s surface present in North America? We’re only missing a Tropical Rain Forest, although we have Arboreal Rain Forests in the NorthWest.

  • paulieorkid

    American here, and love our country — but I have to say — all the Brits I’ve ever met have been amazingly cool. I’ve met many English and Irish, some Scots – and they’re all unique, fun and wittier than I’m used to here in the U.S. I dig the sense of humor thing – it’s strong with the Brits. Unless it’s purposefully silly Benny Hill humor (which I also dig) — the jokes tend to have a wry and dry component with a little bit of intellectual muscle involved. Gotta love that. Oh, and Catherine Zeta-Jones is incendiary enough to makes Wales cool all by herself.

    • SarahKentucky

      Stop with the but kissing, you’re an embarrassment to your country.

  • http://www.meaganadelelopez.com/ Meagan

    Love this post! Never thought of them like that. Although no one does camp grounding like you guys :)