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So the USA is on your top-pick list? Good stuff. The US is a country of such diversity, every state feels completely different. And then there's Canada — a Kiwi fave. Here are a few of our favourite things to see and do in both countries.
If you’re looking for the classic LA beach, with the body builders, roller skaters and more colourful characters than grains of sand, look no further than world-famous Venice Beach. However, if you’re after a more sedate sandy spot, but one that still possesses a certain amount of LA glamour, try the Will Rogers State Beach. Referred to as ‘Bay Watch Beach’, many scenes were filmed here back in the late 90s. These days it’s a lot quieter than most, with easy access from the city, and an hours’ walk from Santa Monica Pier. That’s along the coastal skimming Ocean Front Walk, with its startling Pacific Ocean views and plenty of opportunity to stop for brunch, lunch, coffee and a cheeky vino.
You may think of “toast” as the trivial breakfast option; the morning choice for those in a rush, but not so in San Francisco. Oh no. Toast now has an almost legendary status here, to a point that “toast menus” are as common as your standard (and a trifle boring) lunch menu. From almond butter toast topped with seasonal fruits and fresh ginger, to a thick two-inch slice slathered in marmalade, it’s almost considered an art form. And yes, one piece will set you back approximately $5.50 NZ. The most famous toast shop of them all is The Mill on Divisadero. With options such as cornmeal rosemary bread with butter and honey, the bread is more of a wedge than a slice, and the toppings are decidedly decadent. Find it at 736 Divisadero Street.
For all the delicious flavours of the world’s ‘soul food’, cuisine from America’s Deep South didn’t start with such an easy-to-digest past. As the former five states of slavery, dishes from Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and South Carolina were born from years of enslavement. Using the left-overs from whatever their masters ate, workers would craft delicious meals from scraps and inspiration from their homeland. The result was a mouth-watering fusion of meat and spice, seafood, rice and flavour.
In Canada, you can meet bears in the wild — safely we might add! The central coast of British Columbia is arguably Canada’s foremost destination for seeing brown bears. Boasting the largest concentration of grizzlies in the country, spring brings post hibernation awakenings (along with cubs), while in autumn, watching them catch fresh river salmon is mesmerising. Cosy lodges are generally accessible by float plane and have expert guides to take you on bear-watching excursions.
If you want to try a bit of winter skiing in Canada, Whistler can be done in a daytrip from Vancouver. It is some place. Huge. Up on the gondolas you go (all warm and toasty), to ski/ board down numerous huge, wide runs, flanked by trees. Après Ski is right there in the village at the end of the day. Nothing like a glass of Glühwein by an open fire. And if you want to grab some second-hand ski gear, head to Kitsilano for a huge variety of stores.
Just when you thought stark-white mountains were the epitome of Canadian beauty, the sun fades and the stars come out. And bam, you’re hit with yet another eyeful of awesome. The alpine town of Jasper has been a 'dark-sky preserve' since 2011, meaning there’s no artificial lighting and very little light pollution. The Milky Way is spectacular. Boasting 11,000 square kilometres of preserved dark sky, you may even spot aurora borealis; more common in the winter, they have been sighted year-round. And if your Rocky Mountaineer experience departs in October, lucky you, this is an ideal time to marvel at the skies during the annual Jasper Dark Sky Festival.
You want some North America holiday deals as well, right? Browse all our current North America offers and inspiration.
7 of the USA's most iconic cities.
Why should I visit Utah?
The Ultimate Canadian To Do List.
VIDEO FROM HOUSE OF TRAVEL