How to travel in the U.S.

Seth, a loyal MR reader, writes:

I thoroughly enjoyed your 'Discover Your Inner Economist Book' and I was particularly interested in your advice related to restaurants, and on how to read menus.

Perhaps it's a stretch, but I was wondering whether you have similar advice for traveling in the US?  If someone who has never previously visited the US asked you for five places they should visit in the US, what would be your advice?  Or perhaps more generally, what should  they look for in their destinations?  Assume they're driving, and budget isn't an issue, and that it's not a requirement to see the most popular tourist spots.  What's the best advice to properly see and experience the US, in all its diversity?

Most of all, drive as much as possible and do not shy away from a few days in the "boring" (yet wondrous) suburbs.  After that, here is my list of five:

1. Manhattan

2. Detroit and the Ford Rouge plant in Dearborn

3. Memphis and the Mississippi Delta

4. San Francisco

5. Grand Canyon and southern Utah

I feel bad about missing so much of "the new South," but how many stellar sights does it have?  Miami and New Orleans would make a top ten but each is too unique and insufficiently representative to make a top five.  Maybe Chicago should replace Detroit but the latter has greater shock value and isn't that half of what travel is about?  Los Angeles is too hard for most outsiders to grasp.  At least one of the Dakotas should make a top ten list.  Boston would please a European but not in a truly instructive way.  It is criminal to leave off Texas, which I love, but which single place can sum up the state?


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