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  1. #1

    Default True Brit looking to experience real America!

    Hello all!

    I was hoping you guys would have some great advice for me as i'm a bit stuck on ideas for the road trip i would like to go on next summer.

    I plan to spend 2 weeks in America, i realise that this is really not long enough to see much at all but unfortunatly its the only time i have free.

    I am really hoping to travel to/through a few small towns to really get the feel of real America. With small local diners, dusty bars, rusty pick up trucks, old wooden houses etc etc. I do realise this is all very cliché but its what i love! Obviously it would be great if there were towns like this between 2 major towns which would make it much easier for us to fly in and get back home.

    I'm really not too sure of the geography of the US as it is incredibly large! Unlike our tiny little island!

    Any help or advice would be much appreciated.


    Kate :-)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default unreal america?

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Whenever we get the "I want to see the real america," I always wonder where the "unreal" part of america is.

    I'd also say that a lot of what you are describing as "real america" is far more "hollywood america" than what really is out there. Don't get me wrong, there are thousands upon thousands of small towns, and finding a dive bar is really never that difficult, but you are describing a scene out of a movie more than what most of america really is.

    The US is very large, but its all very real, and while there are certainly going to be differences in regions, those differences are exactly what makes the US what it is. I'm sorry I can't give you a simple answer like: Go to Valentine, Nebraska, that's where you'll find "real america." because while you'll find real america there, there is no one place or area that has a monopoly on it.

    In other words, pick any city you want - put on a blindfold and randomly pick a point on a map if you'd like - finding what is real will simply require you to look and the city or specific destination doesn't matter all that much.

  3. #3


    I'm sorry, i think i may have annoyed you with my thread. I didn't mean any offence, and obviously i am aware that the whole of America is "real" America, i just explained myself wrong. Really i am thinking more of countryside locations/smaller towns rather then big built up cities (or huge towns that may as well be cities). Not necessarily 'Hollywood America'.

    I just find the culture of small towns to be more of an interest to me then the big cities as obviously they are not that much different then me going to London (apart from being much much bigger and with alot more lights!)

    I guess in a way you're right, i am looking for the kind of road trip that is conveyed through American films. Dusty tracks and scary gas station attendents (just hopefully not muderous ones). But really, i just want something a bit different then a shopping trip in New York.

    I hope that makes more sense and doesn't make me sound ignorant.

    Kate :-)
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 08-10-2010 at 08:25 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default It's all good !

    Hi Kate, don't worry I am quite sure that you haven't annoyed anyone, and it's not the first time the question has been asked. Michael was saying that, like here in the UK, you can find "olde England" in just about any corner of the country and the same goes for America.

    With that in mind you need to decide what else it is that appeals to you, perhaps scenic wonders ? Being from the UK, I really love the Southwest with it's wide open spaces, National parks, small towns, desert, Red rocks, Glacial valleys, and so on. It's all different to what we are used to seeing back home, but I guess we could say that of any corner of the US as well.

    I think you really need to look around the forums and other pages in the tool bar above and get yourself a good map of the US, and find a couple of things that set themselves aside from other things that appeal to you. Once you start to get a couple of dots on the map then we can start to guide you along your way. You might want to do a loop trip and start and finish in the same City, these have the advantage of not having one way drop off charges for your car rental and extra flight costs, or you could opt for a one way trip, such as Denver to San Francisco for instance.

    Enjoy RTA and the planning andwhen you have made a start let us know and we can help you get the most from your adventure.

  5. #5


    Thanks Dave. I see what you mean. I didn’t think of it that way.

    I have tried to sort the trip out myself but it’s just such a huge Country, its completely overwhelming and obviously i don't really know what each state has to offer.

    I’ve always thought Texas would be an interesting place to visit but that is larger than life and i’m not really too sure it would be suitable for a 2 week trip as i was hoping to get a few states into the itinerary! San Fran would defiantly be a lovely place to start or finish, it’s the only place i have been in the US and i had an amazing time. I’ll get a book, read the forums and see what i can decide myself. I’m pretty sure that whatever i decide to do, i will be laughed at, as i have absolutely no sense when it comes to distance and will probably chose a route that will take me about 6 months to complete. But i’ll give it a go :-)

    Thanks guys x

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default No problem !

    I’m pretty sure that whatever i decide to do, i will be laughed at, as i have absolutely no sense when it comes to distance and will probably chose a route that will take me about 6 months to complete. But i’ll give it a go :-)
    Hey that's fine ! Once you have made a start and we get the idea of where you are headed we can help work it out and once you have a start everything else falls into place. Use the search function to work around the forums and scroll down the page to see similar threads each time. This one thread will give you many ideas in the San Fran area or you might want to look around the Colorado and Utah area.

    Enjoy the planning !

  7. #7


    Thanks alot Dave, i'll have a look and write back when i have some ideas.

  8. #8

    Default And, on the Right Coast

    Hello Kate,

    Allow me to echo the "no offense taken" position above. No worries, Dear.

    It's interesting that Midwest Michael mentioned "Valentine, Nebraska" in his comments on where one might find "the real America" as just 2 weeks ago I passed through Valentine and instantly thought of it when I started reading your post. I strongly suspect you could put together a tour of Nebraska and nearby parts of South Dakota and perhaps Wyoming as a loop trip out of Denver, CO. Valentine and the little railroad towns along NE-2 (highway) would give you all of the small town America you might want.

    But over here on the Right Coast, with particular emphasis on the South, you could either loop from the Washington, DC airports or from Atlanta, GA, and I suppose one could throw Baltimore as an option, too, via BWI. Once on the ground, the Skyline Drive (SD) and Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) provide an avenue for exploration of US history and current society's lifestyles and social systems. Close to the SD and BRP lie much of our Colonial history (Jefferson's Monticello and a long list of Virginia sights), Civil War history (in northern Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley), local and regional artists and artisans (Floyd, VA), traditional music (bluegrass and country--old style Traditional country) along The Crooked Road in southwest Virginia, late 19th century wealth at Moses Cone Memorial Park and Cone Manor near Blowing Rock, and the largest American castle, by far, Vanderbilt's Biltmore, near Asheville. Reaching beyond Asheville and close to Atlanta, one enters Cherokee country, where a glimpse at the past and present lives of Native Americans can be seen.

    And let me assure you: From Washington, DC to Atlanta, GA, there are more local diners, dusty bars, rusty pickup trucks (including my own), and old wooden houses than you could ever shake a stick at. It's quite likely you'll encounter the English language spoken in a manner familiar to you, as most of the mountainous South is populated by descendants of Scots-Irish settlers. Geographic isolation has preserved some speech patterns and vocabulary said to resemble those still encountered in the Isles.

    So, have a look around and have fun planning and taking your RoadTrip!


  9. #9


    You should try visiting some of the US National parks. They are all beautiful in there own way and I am sure most of them have smaller surrounding towns. I would start with the west coast maybe. That is just my opinion :) You can also try google. Sometimes I will just pick a random city and google pictures to see what it looks likes.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default not at all

    I'm sorry, I didn't mean to come off as annoyed, as that wasn't the case at all.

    Rather, I wanted to point out that "Real America" is quite easy to find, it just likely won't be anything like the Hollywood version that portrays everything between New York and California as backwoods psedo-ghost towns that are stuck in the 1950's!

    When I did mention Valentine, I did it because it was one of the most remote towns of semi-significant size that I could think of off the top of my head. All of about 3000 people live there, its more than 200 miles from any city of even 50,000 people, but it is the county seat of Cherry County! However, the great plains are filled with small towns like that, you could start in Montana and the Dakotas and look all the way down into Oklahoma and Texas for plenty of other examples.

    One thing I think you'd really enjoy is the work of Peter Thody. His first trip through South Dakota still stands out to me, but he's got other articles of his exploration of throughout the US.

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