Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

USA Travel Guide

As one of the world’s largest countries the Unites States of America has a fascinating and varied precolonial history. From the scenic woodlands of the east to the dramatic deserts of the west, the histories and cultures of First Nation people are as diverse as the landscape. Histories that were often in conflict with the arrival of settlers from Europe, and the founding of the USA. Some of the best archaeological and historical sites have been specifically designated for their significance at 24 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 61 National Parks and 129 National Monuments.

Reasons to Visit United States of America

A polychrome panel of Chumash rock art in California, USA.
Petroglyphs & Pictographs,
A misty view over artillery on the Antietam Civil War Battlefield.

American Civil War,

Civil Rights Movement,

A close up of ne of the bronze lion sculptures at the original entrance to the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois.

… Museums & Art Galleries.

Interesting Things to Know About the USA

As a nation the USA was founded in 1776, but European colonization started as early as the 1500s, and humans have occupied the landmass since approximately 15,000 BCE. As such, the historical and archaeological record of the United States is a hodgepodge containing the influences of Spanish, Dutch, French, English, Russian, and hundreds of different Native American groups. Sites like the first Swedish settlement in America, Fort Christina in Delaware, are in the same vicinity as 18th century Quaker landscapes, contact-era and Archaic Period Native American sites, battlefields of the American Revolution and Civil War, and modern American cultural sites like Washington DC.
There are 49 continental states, one island state, five territories, one district, and roughly 12 unincorporated holdings. It is considered the third largest country by land and total area, third most populous, and is one of the world’s 17 megadiverse countries, meaning it contains a high proportion of Earth’s species and has a high number of endemic species. There are 25 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in US territory, 21 are in the continental states, two in Hawaii, and one in Puerto Rico. Of these, 13 are natural heritage sites, 11 are cultural heritage sites, and one is both a natural and cultural heritage site.
The population of 330 million people is not surprisingly unevenly spread across the 50 states. In Kentucky, home of bourbon, there are more bourbon barrels than people. And cows outnumber people in Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Wyoming. Kansas alone can produce enough wheat to bake 36 billion loaves of bread, which could feed the world for about two weeks. Supposedly, Americans eat approximately 100 acres of pizza per day.
The National Park Service (NPS) was established in 1916, but the first national park, Yellowstone, was established in 1872. There are currently 63 national parks. The United States National Historic Landmark (NHL) program, managed by the NPS, was inaugurated in 1960. As of 2020 there are 2,597 designated national historic landmarks. An NHL is a building, district, object, site, or structure, that is officially recognized by the US government for its national historical significance. These sites are included on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), which is a list of near 80,000 historic properties that the NPS deems worthy of recognition. NRHP are significant on a more local or state level whereas NHLs are significant on a national scale. New York state has the most NHLs in a state (270), and New York City has the most NHLs in a city (114). North Dakota has the fewest in a state, at seven.
According to a 2021 UNESCO survey, there are over 103,000 museums worldwide. Approximately 33,000 of them are in the United States, which is 3,000 more museums than are in Western Europe and Canada combined. That means there is approximately one museum for every 10,000 people in the United States. The most visited museum in the US is the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC, which sees about 9 million visitors annually.

Find Places to Visit in the USA

Featured Destination

A man watching the sunrise at Mesa Arch near Moab.

MOAB, UTAH
From Dinosaur Times to the 21st Century

On the doorstep of two of Utah’s big five National Parks, Moab is known for its spectacular red rock landscapes and canyons. Adventure seekers come for the thrill of white water rafting, slick rock climbing and mountain biking to name a few. But the area, rich in dinosaur palaeontology and Native American archaeology, is also popular for those who enjoy hiking and history.

Five Popular Attractions in the USA

Explore the USA more deeply

Where to Go in the USA

North East Region

From the bustling streets of New York City to the picturesque coastlines of New England,  the natural beauty of the Appalachian Mountains.

South East Region

Here you will find Jamestown, the first permanent European settlement. An area marked by Slavery and the conflict that ended it, the Civil War.

Midwest Region

First introduced by Paleo-Indians, agriculture has long been an important aspect of the Midwest. As with industry, fuelled by the opening of coal mines.

South West Region

From ancient pueblos to historic mission churches. From the stunning red rock canyons of Utah to the picturesque desert landscapes of Arizona.

Rocky Mountain Region

A region of unparalleled natural beauty, from the majesty of the Rocky Mountains to the splendour of Yellowstone National Park. 

Pacific Region

An area of rich cultural diversity and historical significance. Find out about the about the history of the transcontinental railroad and the Gold Rush.

Historic Cities in the USA

What to See in the USA

A polychrome panel of Chumash rock art in California, USA.

Petroglyphs & Pictographs

Given the complex history of indigenous populations across this vast country with its radically varying geology, it is not surprising that there is an immense diversity of rock art traditions in the US. Images are painted onto or engraved in to rock surfaces, the walls of rock shelters or boulders out in the open. Some are seemingly simple geometric patterns, others display complex conventions. Some of these traditions date back several thousands of years, while others were executed after the arrival of European colonists. 

Pre-Columbian Mounds & Mound Builders

A number of Pre-Columbian cultures in North America from the Archaic Period to the Mississippian period built many different types of mounds and related earthworks for a variety of purposes. The reasons for their construction range from burial mounds, ceremonial and ritual uses, to more secular and political functions. These mounds and earthworks are an important part of the cultural heritage of the indigenous peoples of North America. In pre-Columbian Eastern and Central North America they were the only significant monumental constructions.
A misty view over artillery on the Antietam Civil War Battlefield.

American Civil War

The American Civil War was a conflict that took place in the United States from 1861 to 1865. It was fought between the Union, made up of Northern states, and the Confederacy, made up of Southern states. The main cause of the war was the issue of slavery, whether or not it should be allowed to continue. There were also other significant reasons based on fundamental differences between the North and the South. Civil War sites can be found across large parts of the US, and include battlefields and historic homes, as well as many museums dedicated to presenting the conflict between Blue and Grey.

Slavery & the Enslaved

The Transatlantic Slave Trade forcibly relocated millions of Africans against their will to the Americas, where they were required to work in plantations, mines and other industries whilst living in inhumane conditions. Enslavement played a significant role in the shaping of the United States. Although the issue of owning Slaves was the root cause of the American Civil War, a century before that, at the time of the American Revolution, slavery was legal in all 13 colonies. There are many plantations and their Slave quarters, as well as other locations where enslaved people worked and lived, open to the public. These sites provide an understanding of the lasting impact of Slavery on American society.

Civil Rights Movement

The Civil Rights movement was a social and political movement in the United States that aimed to end racial segregation and discrimination against African Americans. It began in the 1950s and continued through the 1960s, and was characterized by a series of protests, boycotts, and civil disobedience campaigns. Some of the most iconic landmarks of the Civil Rights movement include the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, where civil rights marchers were brutally beaten by state troopers in 1965, and the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, where civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968.

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