The southwestern area of the United States, usually just called the Southwest, is a region which is dominated by California, the third largest and most populous state in the country. The Southwest furthermore comprises Arizona and New Mexico, and often takes in the southern parts of Nevada, Utah and Colorado as well as western Texas and western Oklahoma, depending on the varying regional definitions.
‘The Golden State’ of California presents it all: long stretches of golden beach, lush forests, vast deserts and snow-capped mountains. California is renowned for its ethnic diversity and sunny climate and has a reputation for being home to some madcap characters and activities.
No voyage to California is complete without visiting the ‘City of Angels’, Los Angeles. The country’s second-biggest city lives up to its reputation as the world’s entertainment capital and offers the finest in theater and symphony as well as the possibility to catch a glimpse of celebrities in Hollywood.
One of the most popular destinations in the world is the San Francisco Bay area, while the city itself radiates a cosmopolitan atmosphere with its Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars and wavy streets being instantly recognizable.
The desert region in California’s southeast features extensive scenery, glittering resort cities and traces of pioneer history; national phenomena include the huge Joshua Tree National Park and the remote Death Valley National Park.
The desert state of Arizona provides some of the most stunning scenery, above all the Grand Canyon and the Petrified Forest National Park. Phoenix is the biggest city in Arizona and offers fine art galleries and unique shopping, while Tombstone is the location of the notorious shoot-out at the OK Corral.
New Mexico is home to deserts, forests, mountains, lakes and cities. Its mélange of Pueblo Native American and Spanish traditions is still alive, particularly in Albuquerque with its old town, cultural centers and museums, while Santa Fe, the US’ oldest state capital, offers some matchless adobe architecture.
Las Vegas is Nevada’s largest city and is the state’s main tourist draw, where even non-gamblers can hardly refrain from getting caught up in the excitement. Las Vegas is one of the planet’s major gambling and entertainment hubs and most likely the easiest place in the US to get married, with around 230 marriage licenses being issued each day.