Cities and Towns in North America
The words 'Canada' + 'history' might not seem like the most likely of pairings. After all, there aren't really that many buildings around which are older that a few hundred years. But when it comes to a bit of old world charm, British Columbia's capital, Victoria, is the place to be. Surrounding the cute little inner harbour, towering heritage buildings abound. From the Fairmont Empress hotel to the B.C. Legislature to the little shops on back streets, the architecture is unmatched anywhere else in the province. Plus, there's even shockingly easy access to watch the parliamentarians in action if that's what floats your boat.
© Sarah Hishan
The old part of Québec City is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is the only remaining walled city in North America other than in Mexico. Walk through any of the four gates that surround the original town and feel transported into another time and place. Located high on a bluff overlooking the Saint Lawrence river, Vieux Québec is best enjoyed by foot. Alive with history, Basse-ville contains the 17th century Notre-Dame-des-Victoires church and at its heart, Place Royale. The historical market square is surrounded by restored 17th and 18th century buildings, housing chic boutiques and quaint restaurants for you to explore. After taking in the many museums and getting lost in the narrow lanes of the Old Town, enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride to rest your tired feet while continuing your Belle Province tour. Don't forget to visit the impressive parliament building located just outside the city's walls and the 22 bronze statues of men and women who played an important role in the province's history.
If you're going to Greenland, you generally always fly to Kangerlussuaq, which airport is the gateway to the rest of the huge country. The city is an old American military base, and that still shows on the old barracks and large craters with waste. Kangerlussuaq is quite depressing to stay in and it has about 500 inhabitants. Besides the international airport, there is a post office, a hotel, a school and one shop called "The shop". However, only 25 kilometers away from the town, you will find the beautiful ice cap and areas with lots of wildlife and a large lake (Lake Ferguson), where you can kayak and sail around.
The Mexicans consider this city's old town very bonita. Rather than an industrial suburb to Mexico City which you could fear, it is surprising charming with colonial houses and colourful churches. Great eateries can be found along the streets leading to the shady zocalo (main square). Nothing will blow your mind here, it's just a fairly nice and neat little bit of classical Mexico.
Narrow cobblestoned streets and colourful colonial houses already make Guanajauto one of the most charming Mexican town, but its hill side location adds a little extra. Ridiculously steep streets (and we do mean steep) and a maze of dark tunnels that traverse the town underground makes driving feels like a roller coaster ride. Finding a specific place can be close to impossible, so local boys are making a buck by guiding lost travellers through the labyrinth of winding alleyways. It's the town's many silver mines, which some are still active, that build this wonderful and weird place including the rich architecture and dark tunnels (a third of the world's silver was apparently once mined here). Do not drive in the town unless you are looking for some real adventure.
With only about 300,000 inhabitants, Anchorage is the largest city of Alaska. As it is often the case in the US, the largest city is not necessarily the capital (which is Juneau). There is not all that much to see in the city centre except for typical American things such as malls, restaurant chains, big cars, and numbered streets perpendicular to lettered roads. A must do is to go to the coastal trail. In the summer, you can walk or cycle, in the winter hike or cross-country ski. It gives great views of the "skyline" of the city, the surrounding mountains and bay and on a clear day you can even see Mt. McKinley (6,194 m or 20,320 ft.).
Most of U.S. big cities don't have that much to offer in terms of historical sights, charming neighbourhoods and green parks, but Boston got it all. Though it's one of oldest cities in the U.S. (founded in 1630), the vibe is young and progressive as it is an academic hub. There are 35 colleges and universities, including the renowned Harvard and MIT. As with most U.S. cities, each neighbourhood has its own flavour; North End, Charles Town, Beacon Hill, Fenway, Back Bay and Cambridge are some of the most interesting ones. Downtown is where the Freedom Trail starts. It's a walk which takes in a selection of historical monuments and old houses. For a lazy afternoon head to the green and leafy Esplanade which runs along Charles River. In summer you can sunbathing on the pontoon on the river or just bring your own hammock, if you want some shade. Another great thing that sets Boston apart from other U.S. cities, is that it's relatively compact and have an extensive public transportation system which include subway, buses, trains, ferries, and even shared bicycles.
There are many holiday towns along the west coast of Florida, but Daytone Beach is one of the most famous ones. A long wide sandy beach with a equally long row of highrise holiday complexes are the main features. Beach driving is allowed and is one the things that have made Daytona iconic. Most of the year the town is favoured by retired seniors and families on vacation, but at spring break the place get cramped. Though Daytona no longer is as popular as it once was in 1980s, when more than 350,000 students came every year, it still manage to attract about 15,000 party-goers in the crazy week of spring break.
Not many knows this surprising fact, but Jacksonville is the largest city in the continental United States measured by area. Unfortunately, it's 1,935 bland sq km (747 sq mi) of office buildings, parking lots and highways, without any significant sights whatsoever. If you really must do some sightseeing, Jacksonville has a few parks and some historic buildings from the first half of the 20-century. During the weekend downtown has a post apocalyptic feel, since it's drained for office workers and not much else is going on. And if you wonder why Jacksonville is largest city, the answer is simply an administrative expansion of the city borders. Population wise, Jacksonville is only the 13rd largest in USA.
The Florida Keys are that string of coral islands that drips south of the tip of Florida. More than 40 bridges, some very long, connect the main islands, which are as tropical as you can imagine with palms, beaches, and aquamarine water. The most famous island is, of course, Key West, which is not just the most western key, but also the most southern point in the continental United States – a fact they have turned into a smooth tourist machine. Once, Key West town was the largest city in Florida and later a hub for drug smuggling. Maybe due to that, Key West has attracted prominent people through time, Hemingway being the most famous – something they also have turned into a tourist attraction today, along with rum distillation, lime pies, you-name-it. So yes, Key West is very touristic and a magnet for seniors, but it's easy to escape the crowds, just pick one of the 1700 other keys. The fishing, kayaking, snorkeling, diving are as good here and as a sign says "why pay Key West prices?".