12 reasons to visit the USA

By Andy Morris for British Airways’ High Life magazine

Deputy editor, British Airways’ High Life magazine.

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November 2017

Neon-dream art installations, on the road with a trucker and 2018’s hottest food trend, Andy Morris shares 12 great reasons to tick the USA off your bucket list this year.


Austin highways are akin to a 70mph art gallery

Evan Voyles’s neon artwork feels like a relic from a distant time when drivers were more likely to be tempted from their route by an eye-catching sign than by a five-star Yelp review. There are more than 300 examples of his work in Texas – from a cowboy riding a rabbit outside the Uncommon Objects store to the enormous ‘Soul’ sign by the pool at the Saint Cecilia Hotel.

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Miami Bass has never looked better

Florida’s most photogenic city, Miami is arguably the best place for contemporary art in the US. Reopening in Autumn 2017, The Bass is housed in a stunning art-deco building now with 50 per cent more exhibition space, including three new galleries.

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  • Magnolia Café’s neon sign shining bright in Austin, Texas © Alamy.

    Signs gone by

    The 1940s and 50s are considered the ‘Golden Era’ of roadside neon, providing inspiration for the modern artists keeping Austin’s handcrafted neon subculture alive.£649 pp

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  • Filipino food worth queuing for at Bad Saint, Washington DC © Farrah Skeiky.
  • The Pelicans of Pearl Bayou: an Alex Beard painting.

    Art aficionados

    Graduate of the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts, Alex Beard runs an open studio in the creative Magazine Street District, the six-mile stretch home to some of the city’s best art and antiques.£514 pp

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Alex Beard will connect you to New Orleans’ wild side

It’s no surprise the nephew of conservationist and photographer Peter Beard would want to capture animals in their natural habitat. But Alex Beard brings a different style to the species he documents, specialising in what he calls ‘abstract naturalism’. Put it this way: the pelicans on the bayou never looked better.


Momofuku’s David Chang wins big in Las Vegas

Dining on The Strip is the only place where the odds are stacked in your favour. Ignore the endless buffets or the needlessly formal Michelin joints and opt instead for David Chang’s latest restaurant in The Cosmopolitan. Look out for pork buns, Fuku chicken sandwiches, the rotisserie duck and, perhaps most moreish of all, fried chicken with caviar.

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  • Enjoy the plush refurb of Boston Logan Airport’s BA Lounge © Nick Morrish.

    Lounge life

    To coincide with the launch of the A380 flying to Boston up to four times weekly from London, the newly redesigned Boston Lounge allows you to drink and dine overlooking the breathtaking city skyline.

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Eat 2018’s hottest food trend in Washington

Anthony Bourdain, the nomadic gourmand behind Kitchen Confidential recently said he believes Filipino food, specifically the crispy, piggy dish sisig is "perfectly positioned to win the hearts and minds of the world as a whole”. Not heading to Manila any time soon? Bad Saint in Washington will do the trick – be warned, dinner queues start from 15.30.

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In the future, as you travel to your dinner you’ll be able to see wolves, jaguars and bears below.

Become a gourmet on a gondola in Oakland

Sometimes you’d be better off nibbling on petting zoo pellets rather than eating fast food at some of America’s biggest animal attractions. Thankfully this is not the case with the Landing Café, a new dining experience at Oakland Zoo that can only be reached via cable car. In the future, as you travel to your dinner you’ll be able to see wolves, jaguars and bears below – for now just a really good fried chicken sandwich will have to suffice.

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The Bloody Mary Matinee will renew your faith in movies

Seattle’s sublime Big Picture is the kind of movie-going experience one hopes for but rarely achieves. A strictly 21-and-over policy ensures no noisy kids, there’s truffle butter popcorn, and on select Sundays, for $18 you can get a movie ticket, bagel and a Bloody Mary.

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  • Miami Mountain by Ugo Rondinone, is part of The Bass Museum’s permanent collection.

    The Magic City

    Standing 12.5 metres tall against the backdrop of Miami Beach, the Miami Moutain’s five limestone boulders were sourced in Nevada as part of the artist’s abstract mountain series.£602 pp

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Ranch dressing has a different meaning in Colorado

Former photo editor at British Glamour Magazine, Kate Matheson has been working across dude ranches in Colorado for the past decade. Home to around 2,000 bison (as well as elk, coyotes and bob cats at the Medano Zapata Ranch you can ride, hike, and fly-fish, before enjoying a sundowner in the hot tub, a massage in your room or reading in a hammock on the lawn.

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America has its own version of ‘Keep Calm and Carry On'

The plucky WWII slogan that began as a defiant catchline only to become a merchandising tool, has a rival from across the Atlantic. Originally created by Immanuel Mennonite church in Virginia, the message is simple: “No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbour” in Spanish, English and Arabic. Sign maker Stand Up! Signs has already sold more than a thousand to people keen to display a positive message in their yards or use them during marches.

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Going to Boston on business just got better

Taking design inspiration from London’s own Terminal 5, at almost 10,000 square feet there is so much to enjoy in the Boston Logan Airport’s BA lounge – a drink with a great view of the Boston skyline, showers using rain-dance technology and Elemis products. There’s also a full three-course menu, which means you should be able to get around five hours’ sleep all the way home. Best of all, there’s direct boarding from the lounge, so no lengthy walk.

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Armistead Maupin will make you long for San Francisco

Armistead Maupin’s nine-novel series Tales of the City helped cement ’Frisco as the USA’s free spirited capital. Maupin publishes his memoir in autumn 2017 charting his rise from North Carolina to the heart of the free love movement, with a mild detour to Vietnam and the White House. The story of him losing his virginity “on the very spot where the first shots of the Civil War were fired” will make you laugh and cry in equal measure.

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Finn Murphy will give you wanderlust

A trucker for 37 years, Murphy’s memoir The Long Haul gives an unrivalled perspective from the cab of his 18-wheeler of some of the 40 million Americans who move every year. His insights into a life on the move will have you yearning for the road.

Discover three great American road trips