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Lesser-known gems of USA: Exploring Texas, Colorado, Nevada on budget

No White House or Washington dreams, sneaky tips on how to tap the dollar high in just a few days.

travel Updated: Apr 22, 2015 17:39 IST
Snigdha Ahuja
Snigdha Ahuja
Hindustan Times

Busy, bustling cities is the bane of a restless world. You got the moolah, and Uncle Sam’s address but hardly any time to spare. What’s the plan now?

As I travelled to the United States of America, starry eyed but anxious, I couldn’t ignore the feeling of apprehension. Less than ten days in my hands, no White House or Washington dreams, only a vague idea of Texan rodeos and all the talk of Sin City. But I survived, and brought back so much to share!

Here’s my fast-tracked American saga and sneaky tips on how to tap the dollar high in just a few days.

From gargantuan portions of nachos that come with made-on-your-table avocado guacamole, to roomy streets bereft of public transport except a few, free-of-cost shuttle buses — Texas is all about openness. Our first stop was the city of Houston.

The George Ranch Historical Park there traced familial history starting from early 19th century, giving visitors a tour of re-created Texan life through architecture and food. From delicate porcelain preserved intimately to fresh buttermilk pie and corn bread — take your kids along for a lesson in southern history. Then, we headed to the Johnson Space Center, a gateway to NASA and everything that has ever created galactic history.

Moving cities, we moved to the state Capital, Austin, after only a three hour cab ride. After making myself comfortable in the beauty of a heritage hotel called The Driskill ( popular for being haunted by the ghost of a jilted bride!), I was blown away by the sheer musical history innate in every corner. Head to the Sixth Street to tap into the live gig Capital of the US, and try the delicious Shiner beer for only $5.

From Shakespeare’s Ale House for a few drinks to Iron Cactus for a Mexican affair — you surprisingly won’t have to drill a big hole in your pocket for a hearty meal. Another option? Food trucks! Dotted across the city, in less that $10, you can indulge your tastebuds with fat burritos and yummy tacos.

Slot machines and roulette wheels — they will fill your senses as soon as you land in Las Vegas, just a few hours away by air from Colorado. Make sure to catch the ShowStoppers at Wynn Hotel or the incomparable Cirque du Soleil.

Invest in a chopper ride to the Grand Canyon

Another Nevada high? The mighty Grand Canyon. Take a bus to the chopper station, book your tickets online and lose yourself in the half an hour long trip to the canyon onboard the helicopter. It might cost you a little over a $200 for a full tour, but every penny is worth seeing the wonder. End your trip with a breakfast buffet at Caesars Palace, for only $30. Zach Galifianakis got nothing on you mate!

The iconic Las Vegas sign in the city

City O’ City, a picture-perfect all vegetarian restaurant in Denver, our first stop in Colorado after a short flight, was a delight for its aesthetic vegan and customised gluten- free menu. A haven for health buffs. If you want to make the most of Denver, just walk across the length of it. Start your evening with beer tasting as you take selfies under the beautiful cherry blossom trees.

For a more adventurous day out, take a two-hour long cab or bus to the famous Rocky Mountain National Park — from snow walking around frozen lakes in the ongoing months to camping in the summer amid nature — take your pick. A place worth a mention is The Curtis Hotel. For all pop art lovers, you can pick from differently ‘themed’ floors with customised rooms and an indelible Warhol vibe.

Disclaimer: The writer’s trip was sponsored by Brand USA

First Published: Apr 22, 2015 17:25 IST