America's South-East Coast
Kitsch it may be in places - but America's south-east coast holds plenty of allure for the traveller.
The south-eastern coast of the US offers the British holiday maker a vast and varied expanse to explore, from the beaches and tourist retreats of Florida, to the old-style charm of Charleston and Savannah.
Whilst on holiday we opted to get a really taste of the US by visiting the south east states of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, exploring the beaches, towns, cities and wildlife as we made our way by road from Orlando to Charleston.
Landing in Orlando, we jumped into our big, air conditioned American hire car and spent the next couple of days exploring Disney World, SeaWorld and Universal Studios.
All three parks were crowded and hot, but each is perfectly designed to appeal to the inner child and even without any youngsters in tow, we had a great holiday travelling on the rides, meeting cartoon characters, marvelling at studio effects and learning more about Florida's stunning marine life.
Leaving Orlando, we headed for Daytona Beach and its bustling seafront, with shops, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and activities. We managed to watch some motorsport action at the famous Daytona International Speedway and spent some time lazing on the beach before getting back into our own car.
From Daytona, the next stop on our journey northwards was Jacksonville, with its excellent parks and museums, brick forts, lively arts scene and pretty architecture.
We also visited St Augustine, founded by Spanish settlers in 1655 and explored the charming Colonial Spanish Quarter and the nearby Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Titusville, where we took a fascinating tour around NASA's launch and landing facilities...it's a holiday makers honey pot.
Crossing the state line into Georgia, we had peaceful drive up to the city of Savannah, which is the epitome of southern style and elegance. The historic district tour we followed takes in most of the major buildings in the picturesque old part of town and large parts of the city, while the restaurants, shops and bars were wonderful places to while away hours.
We journeyed to the Okefenokee Swamp in the south of Georgia for the final part of our holiday, a short drive from Savannah, a huge National Wildlife Refuge full of alligators, cypress trees, otters, bears and water birds. We explored the swamp along the boardwalks and took an excellent guided boat tour.
Charleston, our penultimate destination is similar to Georgia, with the southern mansion houses, traditional air, cosy jazz venues and a laidback charm. The impressive Aiken-Rhett House is like something from a novel, while the Charleston Museum charts the history of the slave trade, the plantations and the American Civil War.
Our final stop before flying out of the US was the beach resort of Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, popular with American tourists. Myrtle Beach is pure kitsch, with golden sands, mini golf courses and themed restaurants.
Our few days break at the end of the trip were spent largely spent lounging on the beach and visiting the many bars, clubs and eateries in the town, though we also played some mini golf at a number of the colourful courses,and visited Ripley's Believe It or Not.
The southeastern states of the US are ideal for families to visit, as the journeys between locations are relatively short, there are large numbers of attractions, accommodation is good and plentiful, the beach resorts are lively and the people are consistently polite, friendly and welcoming. Plus flights are reasonably priced both ini and out of season.
For adults, the states offer impressive state parks, rich history, charming cities, a chance to relax and the opportunity to indulge the inner child.