North America is a vast continent, with many fascinating places to visit and things to see and do. For those who want to experience the natural beauty of the continent, here are a few places that will amaze and astound the senses!
With a country so vast, you’d think that travelling across the states would be costly. Luckily there are several options for transportation in America, too many in fact. So which one is the cheapest? To save you time and money, we did a price comparison. Here’s our backpacker guide to cheap travel across America…
From Disney World to Universal Studios to Sea World, Orlando is one of the greatest destinations for theme parks in the world. Your first trip to Orlando should be as magical as the cartoon mouse that makes his home there. If you plan to make the most of your Orlando holidays, take note of what you need to know about the theme parks in the area before you go.
Walt Disney World
This is the focal point of Orlando tourism; there simply is no visit to Orlando theme parks that’s complete without Disney World. Prepare to spend a week or more here if you hope to explore all Disney World has to offer, as there are theme parks within this theme park, each requiring a day or two to fully discover. The most popular Disney World theme parks include: the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT Center, Hollywood Studios and the Animal Kingdom, but there are water parks, a golf course and a shopping centre, too.
The Magic Kingdom
The heart of Disney World is the Magic Kingdom, where you’ll find the iconic Cinderella Castle. The Magic Kingdom is broken up into these smaller areas:
· Main Street U.S.A.: The first area to greet you once you walk into the Magic Kingdom, Main Street U.S.A. is made up to seem like an old-fashioned American street, with shops, restaurants and small attractions. There aren’t any big rides here, however.
· Tomorrowland: This futuristic area is home to Space Mountain, a famous roller coaster ride in the dark.
· Fantasyland: You’ll find the classic It’s a Small World, Peter Pan and Haunted Mansion rides in Fantasyland, to name a few.
· Frontierland: Home to Splash Mountain, as well as old-fashioned American frontier fun. Don’t forget to visit Tom Sawyer Island!
· Liberty Square: Take in a little U.S. history with the Hall of Presidents, a robotic show of all of the presidents.
· Adventureland: A must-see for anyone who’s a fan of “Pirates of the Caribbean” and home to the classic Jungle Cruise safari-style boat tour, too.
Spaceship Earth, a large silver sphere, is the main attraction here. EPCOT is half futuristic, technology-driven attractions such as the Test Track, the fastest ride at Disney World, and half a celebration of world culture. In the World Showcase, you’ll find rides and miniature recreations of shops and restaurants from around the world, staffed by natives of those countries. Perhaps you can skip the United Kingdom area, unless you’re homesick!
Formerly MGM Studios, Hollywood Studios packages the experience of making movies into interactive attractions. It’s here you’ll find the famed randomized drop ride, the Tower of Terror, and attractions such as Star Tours, the flying-in-a-spaceship “Star Wars” experience. There are shows, too, such as the “American Idol” show, with winners selected each day.
The most recently constructed Disney World park, Animal Kingdom, is a zoo and a theme park all in one. There are rides, shows, restaurants, shops and over 1700 animals for you to see. The park is divided into areas such as Africa and Oasis, and even includes a robotic Dinoland park for boys, girls and parents who happen to love prehistoric animals.
Perhaps the second most famous theme park after Disney World, Universal Studios is worth a few days of visiting as well. Besides general attractions such as the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit coaster, some of the must-see rides and areas there include:
· The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: It may seem strange for a Brit to fly across the world to get the “Harry Potter” experience, but Universal Studios is home to the largest “Harry Potter” theme park in the world. Visit Hogwarts and re-create the experience through shops, shows and rides, such as the Dragon Challenge rollercoasters.
· Islands of Adventure: Besides the “Harry Potter” area, the Islands of Adventure are home to “Jurassic Park,” Marvel superhero and Dr. Seuss-themed attractions, too.
· The Simpsons Ride in Krustyland: This one is a must-see for any fan of the longtime animated series “The Simpsons.”
If marine animals interest you, you have to spend a day at Sea World, where orcas, dolphins, stingrays, fish and other marine wildlife are present. Take in a dolphin or orca show, or ride a free fall ride, in which you get to visit the lost city of Atlantis below water. A day might be enough to see it all, unless you want to come back for more.
Christy Nibley is a contributing writer and American living in London. Before she moved to the U.K., she worked at a travel agency in Florida and spent a lot of time at Orlando’s theme parks.
Maybe you have just finished your exams and can’t stand the idea of starting University straight away? Perhaps you have been working for a few years and want to take a break, travel and expand your horizons? Whatever your reasons for taking a gap year, there is no denying that it is a valuable life experience that will only benefit your long term prospects.
The world is literally your oyster so when you are studying the map and planning where to jet off to, it’s a good idea to consider what exactly it is that you want to achieve from your time away. If you are after sun, sea, friendly people and an opportunity to meet some fantastic new friends then taking a gap year in Florida could be just the choice for you.
Cheap flights to Florida aren’t too hard to come by and the US State has an abundance of things which make it the perfect gap year destination including beaches, nature and some of the best nightlife a traveller could hope for.
Many people that choose Florida head there with one thing in mind – becoming a prince or a princess! A Disney prince or princess that is! There are a number of programmes available which allow people to land dream jobs at Disney World or one of the other parks owned by Disney in Orlando.
As well as the obvious perks of having free entry to all of the Disney theme parks and incredibly cheap accommodation, employees will learn valuable skills, which are transferable in the work place. If accepted on to the programme, you might be located in the Magic Kingdom but you could also hang out with whales and dolphins at SeaWorld or experience the world of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort. Being a member of the Disney staff is a fun and rewarding experience and we guarantee you will make some wonderful friends!
If Disney isn’t for you, Camp America could be. This popular programme allows people to go and work in an American summer camp and when the summer is over, they are free to travel around the US for up to 10 weeks. Camp is an exciting place to be. As well as getting to interact with the kids and take part in lots of fun activities, it gives you a real insight into the American way of life. The programme attracts people from all over the world who just might make the perfect travelling companions once camp is over. The people at Camp America look after everything for you – placements, visas, travel insurance and they even have a 24 hour helpline should you need any assistance at any time.
Choosing to spend your time in the United States is a fantastic option for your gap year. The country has so much to offer and will leave you with memories, and friends, that will last a lifetime.
This is a featured post.
New York City is a world in itself and a popular Gap Year stop off, but chances are you’ll run out of cash before you run out of things to do!
Since I traded beaches and kangaroos for skyscrapers, stars and stripes to call NY home, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to explore the city with friends visiting from overseas. From those adventures, I’ve put together a list of my favorite free attractions in the city, plus a few tips on how to save and make your stay last longer.
Staten Island Ferry
Probably the number one free attraction in NYC, the Staten Island Ferry gives panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline, great photo ops for the Statue of Liberty and the chance to feel the wind in your hair, Titanic-style. All this, for the bargain price of only $0. The ferry runs at least twice per hour from the ferry terminal in lower Manhattan, accessibly by subway or a stroll through the financial district. Get on fast to nab the best spots at the front of the boat.
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Inspired, beautiful or downright weird by turns- one of NYC’s most popular museums, MoMA is free on Friday nights between 4pm and 8pm. Try the upper floors for Dali, Warhol, Picasso and Van Gogh!
Image: ana carina lauriano
A NYC icon, Central Park is a mixing pot of all of NYC society. People-watch in the crowd of designer-clad Fifth Avenue housewives with implausibly miniscule dogs, wholesome families, rather ‘unconventional’ park characters and easy-to-spot tourists with bum bags/I Heart NY t-shirts in tow. I’ve tried to count the number of languages I heard in the park in one day and gave up at 15! Alternatively sunbake or wander through the surprisingly wild areas (and forget you’re in a major city) in summer or have a snowball fight and giggle when the ice-skaters fall over in winter.
Another city landmark, the walk across the Brooklyn Bridge takes you above the traffic from City Hall in Manhattan to Brooklyn Heights. The walkway has nice views and information plaques along the way, as well as irritated cyclists (stay in the walking lane or face the wrath!) and cutesy, hand-holding couples who’ve taken up the tradition of securing ‘love padlocks’ to the railings and throwing the key in the river. The walk is around 2 km- leave the heels at home unless you want them wedged in the boards and rug up in winter!
Image: angela n.
This hip, fun testament to NYC design sits above the city, built on an abandoned raised freight train track stretching from Chelsea to the Meatpacking District. Go for great views of the Hudson and surrounding city, laze on the architectural wooden benches and appreciate the reclaimed urban space. Afterwards, search out lunch in the nearby Chelsea Markets. It can get busy in nice weather, but sunset, or dare I suggest sunrise, are good times to visit.
TV show audience
Saturday Night Live, Good Morning America, Letterman and The Tyra Banks Show, plus many more, all tape in NYC. Tickets are free and can be requested in advance on some websites, given out by lottery or obtained on the day by queuing. Popular shows are hard to snag, but there are plenty of options and you might just get lucky. See here (http://gonyc.about.com/od/tvtapings/Tickets_for_TV_Show_Tapings.htm
) for an overview on where to begin.
Plenty of tourists never make it off the island of Manhattan- evidently they missed the memo that all the cool kids have moved to Brooklyn. Williamsburg in particular is the hipster capital (though the Yuppies are moving in), with great bars, coffee and indie music. The Brooklyn Brewery offers free tours from 1-5pm on Saturday and 1-4pm Sundays. Oh and by the way, the legal drinking age in the USA is 21 years… Bring a passport as foreign driver’s licenses aren’t technically recognized as valid ID.
Image: Casey Fox
- Most museums, including the Museum of Natural History, the Met, the Guggenheim and the Whitney can be seen for less than ticket price. Some are technically ‘pay what you like’, some have special times when you can enter for just a donation and others have free entry an hour before closing. See here (http://gonyc.about.com/cs/museums/a/museumdeals.htm) for a complete guide.
- If you will be in the city for more than a couple of days, a 7 day MetroPass ($29) is a cheaper option than paying as you go ($2.25 a trip), especially as you’ll have unlimited, 24-hour access to the whole city. Purchase at any subway station.
- Hostels are a popular option, but websites where you can rent out a room or whole private home can be an even better deal, especially for 2 or more people. Beware Craigslist scams and stay with a reputable website such as Airbnb. I’ve rented a whole apartment in Manhattan $30 each per night- cheaper than a hostel! (Amar here, I can confirm that this is correct because I was at this apartment and Fiona ate all of my Dunkin’ Donuts but that’s a story for another time)
- Broadway tickets can be found for as little as $25-50, versus the normal $100+. Two TKTS booths (one in Times Square) sell discounted tickets the day of the show (though you’ll have to queue), and some theatres sell ‘rush’ tickets a few hours before the show direct from the box office (usually only available to students and paid in cash).
This article was authored by GYE contributor Fiona Soper. Currently, Fiona is trying to find creative excuses to balance travel with a PhD, brushing up on her Arabic and dreaming of Oman.
Travelling anywhere in the world on your gap year is going to be exciting wherever you decide to go. But imagine wide open spaces, championship golf courses and being close to Disneyworld, then you cannot go far wrong with visiting Orlando in Florida.
Set 35 miles from the coast in the heart of the states lakes area, Orlando had hardly been heard of a few decades ago. Now it is one of the most visited places in the area owing to the proximity of the Disney Park with all its off shoots such as the Epcot Center and Sea World and also because of the Kennedy Space Center.
However for golf Florida is a good bet. If you are keen on golf Orlando has so many courses to choose from with championship courses, public courses and club ones which of course are more pricey. There is even a course designed by one of the greatest golfers of all time – Jack Nicklaus. And Arnold Palmer owns another one that puts golf Florida style on the map.
Anyone who knows about the game will tell you golf Florida and sunshine gel well together. It must be to do with the space there is in the country and the keenness of the people to build so many interesting and different types of courses.
Most of the courses offer 18 holes with a variety of terrain, water features and difficulty. Playing golf Orlando way is easy as you can book a tee time, make sure you are wearing the right gear and hire some clubs if you need to. Then you can enjoy the game at your leisure knowing that playing golf Florida in the sunshine is one of the best places to be.
If you are into golf Orlando will not disappoint with its public courses which are far more affordable than if you want to play as a one-off at a club. There are at least six public golf courses to choose from in the Orlando area offering a variety of skills required to complete them. Some of them have driving ranges so if you do not have time for a full round of golf you can practise your swing on the range.
And then there is always the 19th hole to enjoy after your game. What better way to spend that than watching the sun sink below the Florida horizon drinking a cool American beer, munching on some nuts and reminiscing about the great game of golf you have just enjoyed.
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