North America Tours and Travel Guide
North America Attractions & Landmarks Guide
North America is more than just the three countries of the United States, Canada and Mexico. With 50 U.S. states, 13 Canadian provinces and territories, a variety of Mexican states, and English-, Spanish- and French-speaking peoples, you could spend a lifetime exploring it and still not see everything. But don’t miss out on your “must-sees” – let Stride help guide your way across this kaleidoscope of cultures and natural wonders.
Of the 50 most visited man-made and natural tourist attractions in the world, more than half are in the United States.
A number of them are theme parks, but others range from urban parks (San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, New York’s Central Park) to natural wonders (Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Niagara Falls) and areas for urban exploration (Seattle’s Pike Place Market, Boston’s Faneuil Hall, New York’s Times Square and South Street Seaport, Chicago’s Navy Pier, Washington D.C.’s Smithsonian Museums, and, of course, the Las Vegas Strip).
All are worthy of tour stops, but North America has much more to offer than the usual tourist attractions, and guided tours that help you get off the beaten path can be the most memorable of all.
In the United States alone, you can visit the deserts of California’s Death Valley – one of the hottest places on earth – or walk on glaciers in Alaska. You can ride airboats through the Florida Everglades or on historic windjammer sailing vessels off the Maine coast. The Rocky Mountains rise high in Colorado and give way to the pancake-flat Great Plains to their east.
The Great Lakes provide recreation for the Upper Midwest while the Gulf of Mexico offers waterborne fun to the Deep South. Utah’s Bryce and Zion national parks, South Dakota’s Badlands, and California’s Yosemite all feature geologic formations that range from the strange to the magnificent -- and are always remarkable to view.
Canada’s Rockies equal those of the U.S. – you can try heli-hiking or heli-skiing in remote areas of British Columbia, where only helicopters can reach the mountain lodges – while the far eastern Canadian Maritime provinces combine brisk sea air with fresh seafood, and French-speaking Quebec serves up Montreal, Quebec City and other delights. And, for good measure, Toronto is considered one of the world’s most ethnically diverse city.
Mexico shelters unforgettable archaeological sites such as the Mayan ruins at Tulum and Chichen Itza in the Yucatan Peninsula; fascinating indigenous cultures in Oaxaca and Chiapas; and fishing villages and beach towns along both its Pacific and Caribbean coasts.
South and east of Mexico, the countries of Central America are fast developing their tourism infrastructures, so now is the time to see Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador. Costa Rica already enjoys a thriving tourist industry, and Panama – divided physically yet united in spirit by its famous canal – is an often overlooked gem.
Outdoor Travel in North America
North America offers countless opportunities for outdoor travel. From rugged mountain ranges to serene coastline, adventurous travelers will never run out of things to do.
Travelers looking for outdoor experiences in North Americatravel may wish to visit one of the sixty-one U.S. National Parks.
Here’s a list of the ten most-visited national parks in America:
Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Located on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park appeals to travelers looking to hike the park’s trails, which add up to over 800 miles.
Grand Canyon National Park: The Grand Canyon is one of the wonders of the world and is a great choice for older travelers or road-tripping families as you can drive right up to the canyon and enjoy the views-- no hiking necessary!
Rocky Mountain National Park: Along with lakes and hiking trails, the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado offers downhill and cross-country ski runs.
Zion National Park: Zion National Park is famous for its awe-inspiring rock formations. Its proximity to the Grand Canyon means you can easily visit both on a road trip.
Yellowstone National Park: The oldest national park, Yellowstone is known for its geothermal pools and geysers such as the famous Old Faithful geyser. Visitors can also spot elk, bison, and bears from their cars as they drive through the park.
Yosemite National Park: Yosemite is a great destination for travelers of any physical ability. Avid hikers can enjoy the trails and even climb massive Half Dome, but the views are just as beautiful looking up from the valley floor.
Acadia National Park: Located in Maine, Acadia is more difficult to get to than most other national parks (the closest major airport is Boston Logan International, about 6 hours away). However, the visitor count remains high due to its natural beauty and unique foliage.
Grand Teton National Park: Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming borders Yellowstone, so a trip to one is not complete without at least a day spent in the other. While Yellowstone is more famous for its views, Grand Teton offers more opportunities for activities such as hiking and river rafting. Food and accommodation also tends to be less expensive here than in Yellowstone.
Olympic National Park: The Olympic Peninsula is famous for its rainy weather and lush green forests. The park is a great place to camp and explore the rugged Washington coastline.
Glacier National Park: Glacier National Park in Montana offers stunning turquoise lakes, pitch-black night skies for stargazing, and, of course, incredible glaciers.
With such a variety of destinations, travelers looking for outdoor experiences in North America may want to choose a destination based on an activity.
Surfers might choose to visit California or Hawaii for the best waves, while skiers might opt for the world-class slopes in the Rocky Mountains or Northern Cascades. Whether you love to hike, bike, surf, kayak, ski, or fish, there are tours for that-- check out Stride’s “Activities” page to browse tours by activity.
Top UNESCO Sites in North America
North America offers many opportunities to learn more about the continent’s rich and diverse history. Travelers looking to visit historical sites in North America should take a look at a list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which are designated for their cultural and/or historical significance.
Here are a few of the most popular UNESCO World Heritage Sites in North America:
Taos Pueblo, Taos, New Mexico: The town square of Taos is an active Native American community that welcomes visitors for tours. Within the Pueblo walls, there is no running water or electricity, and the 150 residents abide by Taos Native American traditions.
Everglades National Park: Home to many rare species of wildlife such as the Florida panther, manatee, and crocodile, Everglades National Park in Florida is open 24/7, 365 days of the year.
Rideau Canal: This canal in Ottawa was originally intended for military transportation following the War of 1812 with the United States, but now offers beautiful views of the city aboard a boat or canoe.
Chichen Itza: A trip to Mexico is not complete without visiting one of the country’s many sites of Mayan ruins. Chichen Itza in the Yucatan Peninsula is perhaps the most popular.
L’Anse aux Meadows: Located on the northernmost tip of Newfoundland, L’Anse aux Meadows began as an ancient Viking settlement dated back to 1000 AD.
While UNESCO World Heritage sites are distinguished for their historical significance, every city you visit on your trip will likely be rich in culture and history. While any North America tour you go on will likely include some historical sites, many tour companies also offer tours with a focus on history. Browse North America history tours on Stride »
North America’s Regions
North America is made up of three countries: Canada, the United States, and Mexico.
The continent can generally be divided into eight distinct geographic regions. It may help when planning your trip to North America to decide which of these regions you want to visit.
The Coastal Range includes the Western coast of North America, including Alaska, British Columbia, and California. Visitors to this region have many opportunities for outdoor activities from skiing to surfing, as well as major cities like Vancouver, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. The region also includes destinations in Baja California such as Cabo San Lucas.
The Basin & Range region is directly east of the Coastal Range and includes much of Mexico as well as the rest of the western half of the United States. Popular destinations in this region are the Sierra Nevada mountain range and the Grand Canyon.
The Rocky Mountain region boasts many popular outdoor destinations such as Banff National Park, Jackson Hole, and Yellowstone National Park.
The Great Plains is a vastly underrated region not generally considered by tourists traveling to North America. There are many unique and culturally significant destinations in this “flyover” region, including the Badlands in South Dakota, the Mississippi River, and countless world-class museums and monuments.
The Interior Lowlands includes the Great Lakes and cities such as Chicago, Calgary, and Winnipeg. This area is great for hikers, boaters, and cyclers.
Finally, the Appalachian Mountains and Coastal Plain regions cover the eastern part of the United States and Canada. Top tourist destinations in this area include the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Florida Keys, and several major cities such as New York City, Boston, New Orleans, and Washington, D.C.
Wildlife in North America
North America is a prime destination for viewing wildlife. The United States and Canada are home to many species of large mammals such as bears, bison, and mountain lions. Mexico also boasts rare species like spider monkeys and the Mexican grey wolf.
Travelers interested in wildlife may focus their destination search on national parks such as Yellowstone or Banff. These parks are a refuge for many species of wild animals as well as guides and trails provided for the purpose of viewing wildlife.
Another great option for viewing wildlife in North America is aboard a cruise. Passengers aboard Alaska cruises often have sightings of orcas, dolphins, and whales aboard the ship, as well as on-land excursions to see grizzly bears and other types of wildlife. Cruises to Mexico also give passengers opportunities to see sea life and go snorkeling.
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