Land of the free, home of the brave, and arguably the most popular country on Earth. Here are the 50 things we love about the US (that’s one reason per star on the American flag, by the way) – in no particular order:
1. Superbowl Sunday
The annual championship game for American football is more than just a huge sporting event. When the game reaches half-time, it turns into one of the world’s largest and most-watched concerts, with past performers like Beyonce, Prince, Madonna, Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga.
2. The flag
Nobody loves their country quite as much the Americans do – and nobody shows it quite as willingly either. You will see the Stars & Stripes everywhere: on people’s lawns, in bumper stickers on cars, on hats, cupcakes and yes, even on the moon. Fun fact: five of the six flags planted on the moon are still standing, although they have lost all their color by now.
3. AOC & RBG
Two kick-ass female role models from two ends of the generational spectrum. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (also known as AOC) is a freshman congresswoman from New York making waves (and national headlines) in Washington, while Ruth Bader Ginsburg (also known as RBG), is a veteran Supreme Court judge and icon of the feminist movement.
4. The churros
OK, OK, so not really an American invention, but a mainstay of dessert menus all across the US nonetheless. And to whomever invented and/or popularized these deep-fried sticks of soft, warm dough, gently dipped (okay, completely drowned) in sugar and/or cinnamon and chocolate sauce: THANK YOU.
5. The natural parks
The vastness of this country means that although you may have to travel quite far, you can find every imaginable landscape on Earth here: from the world-famous Grand Canyon, to the snow-capped mountains of the Rockies, as well as thousands of miles of stunning coastline. These natural wonders are divided into 58 national parks set up to ensure they remain pristine for generations to come.
Seriously, where would we be without it? The first Starbucks opened its doors to the public in Seattle in 1971 and it has since become one of the world’s favorite coffee shops. It even invented its own language for cup sizes which we all dutifully learned, of course. A two-pump decaf venti latte, anyone?
The iconic theatre-lined road in New York is still one of the best places in the world to catch a stage show.
8. Hollywood, Los Angeles
The entire film industry has Hollywood to thank for cultivating the talent, technology and special effects that have made the industry as successful as it is today. Head to Hollywood for some unrivalled star-spotting, a spot of shopping or a green juice or two.
9. The cultural diversity
Americans celebrate and embrace diversity because it it’s in their DNA: most Americans can trace their ancestry to Europe, Africa, Latin America or Asia, and most recognize that they would not be the nation they are today without that legacy.
10. The supersize
Whether it’s 64 ounce sodas or six-foot subs, there’s no such thing as ‘too big’ if you ask the American food industry. A fantastic thing if you happen to be really, really hungry.
From the National Football League (NFL) to Major League Baseball (MLB), and the National Basketball Association (NBA) to the National Hockey League (NHL), America is the home of professional sports, and there’s nothing Americans enjoy more than supporting their teams.
12. Those coastlines
We can’t stop gushing about them. Topping up your tan before partying the night away on Miami Beach, watching for whales off the coast of California, tucking into fresh lobster rolls overlooking the sea in Maine, and surfing some of the world’s best waves in Hawaii – there’s no denying America has some of the greatest coastlines in the world.
13. The festivals
From the outlandish creativity of Burning Man in the Nevada desert, and the jazz roots celebrations of Louisiana’s Jazz Fest, to the sun-soaked stages of Coachella, America has a festival for everyone.
14. American TV
Saturday Night Live, Grey’s Anatomy, The Simpsons, The Bachelor, Stranger Things, Orange is the New Black, Homeland, Breaking Bad, Parks & Recreation, FRIENDS…. no matter your TV tastes, there’s probably more than one American TV show on your “recently watched” list.
15. The friendly people
It literally doesn’t matter if you’re in a line at the grocery store, jumping onto the subway as the doors close, or taking your first bite out of your breakfast pancakes in the diner around the corner, there’s a 130% chance someone nearby is ready to have a friendly chat.
16. The opportunities
Whether you’re looking for an internship, searching for a job or trying to find an excellent college, opportunities for blossoming careers and education abound in America.
17. The history of American music…
Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Nat King Cole, Michael Jackson, Louis Armstrong, Chuck Berry, Marvin Gaye, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday – American musicians have helped create, shape and redefine music for the world.
18. …and it’s present
One of these musicians is bound to be on your Spotify playlist right now: Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Mariah Carey, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, Kanye West, Eminem, Madonna, Nick Jonas (and the other brothers), John Legend, Kurt Cobain, Adam Levine, John Mayer, Pharrell Williams… *runs out of breath*
From the immense theme parks found in Florida, to the too-numerous-to-count iconic films that have defined our childhoods, Disney has brought happiness to children and adults since its first feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, was released in 1937.
Space is cool. Being able to watch the launch of a rocket is very cool. And being able to explore the inside of the launch facility at NASA in Florida where astronauts train and world-leading astrophysicists and aeronautical engineers make space exploration, like, a real thing, is very, VERY cool indeed.
America’s fascination with this circular carb bomb has led to some of the greatest sandwiches and sweet treats on the planet. Get the toasted raisin and cinnamon bagel for breakfast, chow down a salmon and cream cheese bagel for lunch, and then finish off the day with an Instagram-worthy rainbow bagel.
America is home to some of the best ski spots in the world, including famous locales like Aspen, Breckenridge, Squaw Valley, Jackson Hole, Alta-Snowbird, Stevens Pass, Stowe and many more. With so many spots to choose from, even the most hardcore powder-hounds won’t ski them all.
23. Silicon Valley
In the southern part of San Francisco sits one of the world’s leading and largest hubs for technology and innovation. Home to Facebook, Apple, Google, Facebook, Tesla and Visa, this entrepreneurial hot-spot is THE place to be for business-savvy minds who want to collaborate and create.
24. Peanut butter
Grab a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup for a little chocolate-peanut butter treat, or have the “healthier” alternative – the peanut butter and jelly sandwich (also known as a PBJ).
25. The Great Lakes
As wonderful as they are vast, these five interconnected lakes at the border between the US and Canada make up the world’s largest body of fresh water and provide endless opportunities for boating, swimming, kayaking or fishing your days away.
26. Ranch dressing
An all-American invention and arguably the tastiest salad dressing there is (hello buttermilk & herbs!). It’s so popular in the US that you’ll find all manner of ranch-flavored foods in the stores, including – and you’ll never guess this one – a ranch-flavored soda.
27. Regional accents
Americans pride themselves on the variety of regional accents, from the southern drawl in states like Mississippi and Louisiana, to the Texas Twang in Texas and the happy-go-lucky accent and slang so common in California.
28. Meghan Markle
America’s gift to the UK, and arguably the best thing to happen to the British Royal family since Prince William’s three little tots.
A members-only shopping paradise where you buy everything in bulk (i.e. in very large quantities). A godsend for big American families and people who won’t get by on one or two ranch dressing bottles and can only survive with a dozen (that’s 12).
30. Pumpkin Spice, everything
You know the festive fall season is upon us when pumpkin spice lattes (PSLs) start filling your Instagram feed. A nod to Starbucks for popularizing this flavor around the world.
31. Pumpkin carving
What is it about Americans and pumpkins? In addition to being delicious in pies and drinks, this vegetable (well, technically a fruit) looks fantastic carved into a jack o’lantern with a candle inside it on Halloween.
32. Beyonce & Jay-Z
This powerhouse couple dominates everything from R&B to hip hop, fashion to modern art, and even civil rights. If America had a king & queen, these two would be wearing the crowns.
33. Reality TV
From talent shows like American Idol and The Voice, to The Bachelor and Keeping Up with the Kardashians, America introduced us to the ruthless, hilarious, over-the top world of Reality TV. Thank you… I guess.
Christmas can’t come soon enough? Thankfully there’s Thanksgiving just a month before! Thanksgiving is an opportunity to get together with your nearest and dearest without all the pressure of buying gifts. It’s also a great opportunity to stuff your face full of turkey (or the fake-meat equivalent), pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce.
The day after Thanksgiving comes the biggest shopping day of the year, with massive discounts online and offline. Although online shopping has meant that deals are no longer limited to the Friday (hello Cyber Monday!), it’s still a day when many Americans shop ’til they drop.
Although the concept of a grill originated in the Caribbean, there’s arguably nothing more American than a backyard barbecue with burgers, cold beverages and a good buddy or two to share it all with.
Another shopping institution and a millennial favorite. Pinterest-friendly, well-curated, and full of every gadget, outfit, lamp or shower curtain you could ever dream of – and then some.
38. The nature
Farms, mountain ranges, hills, plains, deserts, lakes and streams – the US truly has it all. You can spend a lifetime exploring the natural wonders the US has to offer, and still feel like you saw only a fraction.
39. The road trips
Is there anything more American than hitting the road with your friends and exploring backroads in a second-hand convertible with the wind in your hair?
40. July 4th and fireworks
So, that barbecue we mentioned before? Have one on the 4th July, decorate everything in red, white and blue, and throw in a firework or two for good measure.
41. The Smithsonian Museums
The world’s largest museum, education and cultural complex, made up of 19 museums and a Zoo. It’s an absolute must-visit in Washington D.C., and a gift to humankind.
42. Drive-through everything
Americans love their cars – and they have invented a way to get everything done without having to get out of one. You can get married at a drive-through in Vegas, buy your weight in donuts at a drive-through Dunkin’ Donuts, and even shop for your groceries from the comfort of your car. What’s not to love, right?
43. Michelle Obama
Step aside, Barack. The former first lady is arguably more popular than her husband these days, and as glamorous as she is relatable.
44. Chicken and Waffles at Amy Ruth’s in Harlem, NYC
Head to Amy Ruth’s for your fix of an utterly delicious and heart-warming soul food classic – ‘Chicken and Waffles’. (Didn’t know that chicken could actually be eaten with a waffle? Well, you do now.)
45. High school
Cheerleaders, football teams, glee clubs and prom – the American high school experience is unique and in many ways the best expression of the American commitment to community and to doing things together.
46. Ivy League universities
Harvard usually tops global rankings of the best universities in the world – and for a reason. It’s notoriously hard to get into, and offers not only a fantastic education, but plenty of prestige as well. Not sure Harvard is for you? There’s no shortage of world-class universities in the US, including Princeton, Stanford, Yale, MIT and Columbia – and here’s how you can get into one.
47. Stand-up comedy
A form of live comedy invented in the US and mastered by famous comedians such as Eddie Murphy, Jerry Seinfeld, Dave Chappelle, Sarah Silverman, Chris Rock and Amy Schumer. It’s become a mainstay of Netflix programming in the form of Netflix Specials, and has also launched the comedian-turned-actor careers of Zach Galifianakis, Robin Williams and Jim Carrey, among others.
48. Tex-Mex cuisine
You have Mexican Americans from Texas to thank for turning their family dishes into some of the best food the world has ever known. Nachos, burritos and fajitas – this is Tex-Mex, and it’s delicious.
49. Air conditioning
Ok, you may have this at home, or at least in stores or offices nearby, but in the US, air conditioning is a given. Homes, cars, offices, stores, airports, it doesn’t matter; if it’s hot outside, Americans will make sure it’s nice and cool inside.
50. Food delivery
Drive-throughs may be convenient, but a guy zipping through the streets of LA with your pizza in their trunk takes convenience to a whole new level. Chinese, Mexican, pizza, hamburgers or sushi – there is literally no type of food that cannot be delivered to your door in America.