Revealed: The top 20 dreamy US destinations you can fly to direct

Land of the free at last: British travellers can head to the United States from Monday – and here’s our top 20 dreamy destinations you can fly to direct

  • Fully-vaccinated Britons can holiday in the US from November 8, and plenty of cities are just one flight away
  • Explore different cities on an organised tour, like American Sky’s fly-drive trip from Chicago to New Orleans  
  • Art lovers will enjoy wandering through the Denver Art Museum or the High Museum of Art in Atlanta  

President Biden has awoken from his slumbers — and given the thumbs up to double-jabbed Britons.

At last! All you need now, aside from the usual entry application, is proof of being fully vaccinated plus a Covid test taken no more than three days before your flight departs and another one on day two after arriving back in the UK.

In 2019, the last normal travel year, the U.S. was our fourth most popular country to visit. In all, 4.8 million of us jetted over the pond. So, here’s our guide to where to go in America on direct flights — no pesky connections required.

MIAMI NICE 

States of play: Sun and sand in South Beach, Miami Beach, an area known for its Art Deco buildings

Join a tour of Art Deco buildings by South Beach. Afterwards, go rollerblading (or take a stroll) along the promenade and stop off for a margarita at a beachside bar. Then you can spot alligators aplenty on a journey to the swamps of the Everglades National Park.

What’s new? Enjoy the latest works in the Sculpture Garden at the Perez Art Museum Miami (pamm.org).

Flight time: Nine hours 50 mins.

A good deal: From £368 return from Heathrow (virginatlantic.com).

Perfect package: Seven nights at Red South Beach Hotel from £940 pp with flights (tui.co.uk).

WE LOVE NEW YORK

American beauty: Reacquaint yourself with the Big Apple on a stroll in Manhattan’s Central Park

A couple shopping in New York. The city is home to Macy’s, one of the world’s biggest department stores 

Reacquaint yourself with the Big Apple on a stroll in Central Park or take a meander along the acclaimed High Line. And don’t forget some Christmas shopping in Macy’s, one of the world’s biggest department stores. The Empire State Building and Rockefeller Centre have reopened. Broadway shows are back. A visit to the 9/11 Memorial is apt in the 20th anniversary year of the Twin Tower attacks.

What’s new? Little Island is a new 2.4-acre park built on an artificial island on the Hudson River.

Flight time: Seven hours 30 mins.

A good deal: From £343 return from Heathrow (ba.com).

Perfect package: Three nights at the Conrad New York Midtown from £969 pp with flights (britishairways.com/newyork).

HAIL ATLANTA

A Confederate stronghold during the U.S. Civil War, Atlanta was captured by General Sherman and reduced to rubble.

Now it’s home to both Coca-Cola and CNN and boasts a proud civil rights heritage. Visit Martin Luther King Junior’s birthplace and the Centre for Civil and Human Rights — as well as the World of Coca-Cola.

What’s new? An Obama Portraits exhibition at the High Museum of Art, from January 14 (high.org).

Flight time: Nine hours.

A good deal: £795 return from Manchester or Heathrow (virginatlantic.com).

Perfect package: Thirteen-night Georgia fly-drives from £1,725 pp with Atlanta flights and accommodation (bon-voyage.co.uk).

CAPITAL ATTRACTION

Pictured is the Washington Monument in America’s capital of Washington DC, which has rich tourist pickings

America’s capital Washington DC has rich tourist pickings. The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum is fascinating, featuring the Wright brothers’ plane as well as the Space Shuttle Discovery.

Or visit the superb National Gallery of Art or the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Then there are the presidential memorials, the White House and the Capitol to see.

What’s new? Planet Word is a new museum celebrating language and literacy (planetwordmuseum.org).

Flight time: Seven hours 55 mins.

A good deal: From £525 return from Heathrow (ba.com).

Perfect package: Three nights at Capitol Hill Hotel from £669pp B&B with flights (purelytravel.co.uk/usa).

BRILLIANT BOSTON

Follow the Freedom Trail in historic Boston, pictured, and learn about the founding of the United States

Follow the Freedom Trail covering important sites in the founding of the United States. Stop off at the Old State House, where some of the Founding Fathers met, as well as the Boston Tea Ships and Museum commemorating the symbolic 1773 dumping of tea chests in the harbour by revolutionaries. A visit to the Samuel Adams Boston Brewery makes a fine way to end a day’s sightseeing.

What’s new? American-born Swede Herbert Blomstedt conducts Mozart at the Boston Symphony Orchestra in February (bso.org).

Flight time: Seven hours.

A good deal: From £358 return from Heathrow (virginatlantic.com).

Perfect package: Four nights at Boston Park Plaza from £599 pp with flights (netflights.com).

DELIGHTFUL DALLAS

A visit to the Sixth Floor Museum can be harrowing, detailing as it does the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Go for a stroll in the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, ride up Reunion Tower (171m) and eat out in the Bishops Arts District.

What’s new? A Van Gogh and the Olive Groves exhibition at the Dallas Museum of Art until June (dma.org).

Flight time: Ten hours.

A good deal: From £691 from Heathrow (ba.com).

Perfect package: Twelve-night Texan Trails fly-drive covering Dallas, Austin and San Antonio with hotels from £2,099 pp (trailfinders.com).

A 12-night trip with Texan Trails stops off at Dallas, pictured, as well as Austin and San Antonio

After a day spent sightseeing in Chicago, tuck in to a deep-pan pizza in its hometown

GO-GO CHICAGO

Get your bearings on an architectural boat tour on Chicago River. 

Visit the Art Institute of Chicago for works by Andy Warhol, Edward Hopper and others. Then tuck into deep-pan pizza in its hometown.

What’s new? Pilsen Yards has just opened with cocktail bars and restaurants in the historic Pilsen district (pilsenyards.com).

Flight time: Eight hours 30 mins.

A good deal: From £563 return from Heathrow (aa.com).

Perfect package: Four nights at Nobu Hotel from £980pp with flights (ba.com/chicago).

DROP BY IN DENVER 

Known as the Mile High City, Denver in Colorado is a great starting point for exploring the Rockies. 

It’s also home to the first-rate Denver Art Museum, and the evocative Colorado Railroad Museum. Drop by Larimer Square for lively bars and the restaurants.

What’s new? A huge wing of Denver Art Museum is dedicated to ‘Indigenous Arts of North America’ (denverartmuseum.org).

Flight time: Nine hours 45 mins.

A good deal: From £479 return from Heathrow (ba.com).

Perfect package: Thirteen-day fly-drive with flights and hotels from £2,395pp (bon-voyage.co.uk).

BIG EASY IS BACK 

New Orleans, pictured above, is all action again in the aftermath of the pandemic, with the return of the city’s thriving nightlife scene

New Orleans was shellshocked during the pandemic when live music venues and bars shut. But it’s all action again, especially along Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. Before hitting the nightlife hotspots, history buffs will enjoy the National WWII Museum and Louisiana State Museum.

What’s new? See the Live Music Calendar at neworleans.com.

Flight time: Nine hours 45 mins.

A good deal: From £531 return from Heathrow (ba.com).

Perfect package: Six nights (with three nights in Chicago and three in New Orleans), transfer flights, hotels and international flights from £1,099pp (americansky.co.uk).

RETURN TO SIN CITY 

Las Vegas, pictured, doesn’t just offer gambling attractions – take a ride on the High Roller Ferris wheel or visit the Mob Museum

Roulette wheels await in Las Vegas, Nevada, as do more non-gambling attractions than ever. After trying your luck on the green baize, take a ride on the High Roller Ferris wheel (550 ft), go on the rollercoaster at the New York-New York Hotel, visit the Mob Museum (all about Vegas’ darker days), and take in the masterworks at the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art.

What’s new? Barry Manilow and the rock group Kiss are among upcoming acts on The Strip (vegas.com).

Flight time: Eleven hours.

A good deal: From £496 return from Heathrow (virginatlantic.com).

Perfect package: Seven nights at the Bellagio Hotel from £949pp with flights (lastminute.com).

DASH TO NASH 

Pictured is Lower Broadway in Nashville, the city known as the ‘home of country music’ with live venues galore

Nashville is the ‘home of country music’ with live venues galore including the famous Grand Ole Opry. There’s also the Country Music Hall of Fame and you can stroll along the Music City Walk of Fame. Then visit the city’s unusual Parthenon (a copy of the one in Athens) and go on a relaxing river cruise.

What’s new? See the latest exhibits at the National Museum of African American Music (nmaam.org).

Flight time: Nine hours.

A good deal: From £512 from Heathrow (ba.com).

Perfect package: Four nights from £1,107pp at Holston House hotel with flights and tours (northamericatravelservice.co.uk).

OH, ORLANDO! 

Thrills in Florida on the Jurassic World VelociCoaster at Universal Orlando Resort’s Island of Adventure theme park

Rides galore await at Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld and Legoland Florida — all open again now. Find ticket discounts at Orlando’s official website (visitorlando.com).

What’s new? A Jurassic World VelociCoaster travelling at 70 mph through a prehistoric landscape (universalorlando.com).

Flight time: Nine hours ten mins.

A good deal: From £398 return from Heathrow and Manchester (virginatlantic.com).

Perfect package: Seven nights at Rosen Inn At Pointe Orlando from £854 pp from Manchester (tui.co.uk).

GET YOUR PHIL 

Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, pictured, is where the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776

Stop by Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, where the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and agreed the U.S. constitution 11 years later. Then tuck into a Philly cheesesteak and check out the statue of Rocky.

What’s new? A Frank Gehry-designed gallery at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, currently showing works by American artist Jasper Johns (philamuseum.org).

Flight time: Six hours 55 mins.

A good deal: From £386 return from Heathrow (ba.com).

Perfect package: Four nights at Guild House Hotel, £989pp with flights (americaasyoulikeit.com).

DIEGO DREAMIN’ 

San Diego is great for beach lovers with its golden sands and excellent waves for surfers. Pictured is the city’s Pacific beach neighbourhood 

San Diego, on California’s coast near Mexico, is great for beach lovers with its golden sands and excellent waves for surfers. The Gaslamp Quarter is best for nightlife, with plenty of bars and restaurants.

What’s new? Enjoy 47 per cent off three-day tourist passes, now from £146, with entrance to Legoland, SeaWorld, the zoo and more (sandiego.org).

Flight time: Eleven hours five mins.

A good deal: From £370 return from Heathrow (ba.com).

Perfect package: Thirteen-night Classic California fly-drives from £2,049pp with hotels (trailfinders.com).

CITY OF ANGELS 

Disneyland, Universal Studios and Hollywood await in Los Angeles. Check out your favourite actor’s star in the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard, catch a flick at the Chinese Theatre and go fashion shopping on Rodeo Drive.

What’s new? The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures celebrates the Oscars (academymuseum.org).

Flight time: Eleven hours.

A good deal: From £410 from Heathrow (virginatlantic.com).

Perfect package: Five nights at the W Hollywood hotel with flights from £909 pp (virginholidays.co.uk).

SUPER SEATTLE 

It takes 10 hours to fly from Heathrow to Seattle, pictured, with flights available from £444 return

One of the highlights of Seattle is Pike Place Market, with its seafood stalls and arts-and-crafts shops. Take a boat ride on Puget Sound or head up the 605ft Space Needle.

What’s new? ‘A Visual History of Hip Hop’ exhibition (mopop.org).

Flight time: Ten hours.

A good deal: From £444 return from Heathrow (ba.com).

Perfect package: Five nights at Renaissance Seattle from £880pp (britishairways.com/seattle).

SCAMPER TO TAMPA 

Tampa, pictured above, offers offers wonderful sunsets and lively bars and restaurants along a riverside promenade

Sometimes overlooked in favour of Miami and Orlando, Tampa on Florida’s Gulf Coast offers wonderful sunsets, its very own theme parks (Busch Gardens, Dinosaur World and Adventure Island) and lively bars and restaurants along a riverside promenade.

What’s new? The terrifying Iron Gwazi rollercoaster at Busch Gardens (buschgardens.com).

Flight time: Nine hours 30 mins.

A good deal: From £357 from Heathrow (ba.com).

Perfect package: Four nights at Hilton Tampa Downtown with flights from £779pp (britishairways.com/tampa).

FUN IN SAN FRANCISCO 

Pictured are the famous Painted Ladies houses of San Francisco. It takes 10 hours 55 mins to fly to the city from the UK

With lively seafood joints at Fisherman’s Wharf, cable car rides, views from Golden Gate Bridge, and boat rides to the former prison island of Alcatraz, there’s loads to do in San Francisco.

What’s new? An exhibition by Chinese artist Hung Lui at the De Young Museum (deyoung.famsf.org).

Flight time: Ten hours 55 mins.

A good deal: From £402 return from Heathrow (ba.com).

Perfect package: Three nights at Hilton San Francisco Union Square from £917pp (americanaffair.com).

MOTOWN REVS UP 

Learn about legendary soul singers at the Motown Museum in Detroit, which is experiencing a revival after years of decline.

What’s new? A Detroit Style: Car Design in the Motor City exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Arts (dia.org).

Flight time: Eight hours 40 mins.

A good deal: From £746 from Heathrow (delta.com).

Perfect package: Four nights at the Detroit Foundation Hotel from £1,061 pp with flights (expedia.co.uk).

COOL CAROLINA 

Give the new Southern Food Cycle Tours a whirl during a trip to Charlotte, North Carolina (pictured above) 

Lovers of NASCAR can indulge in all things to do with this high-speed form of motor-racing at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina.

What’s new? Three-hour Southern Food Cycle Tours to soul food restaurants (charlottenctours.com).

Flight time: Nine hours 10 mins.

A good deal: From £691 from Heathrow (finnair.com)

Perfect package: Three nights at the Omni Charlotte Hotel from £1,075pp (kayak.co.uk).

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