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Discussion in 'Personal' started by countrybumpkin, Feb 22, 2011.

  1. countrybumpkin

    countrybumpkin New commenter

    I have had a little windfall of a a few thousand pounds. Yay!
    I am hoping to use it to go travelling in America for 3 weeks - a month in the summer holidays. I am a fairly confident traveller but have never been to America. I was hoping for some ideas of must see places from you lovely Tes people.
    So far I would like a brief look at New York, Las Vagas and Niagara falls (not America, I know!). I know these are a huge distance apart but I do have a good length of time to do it and would be willing to do internal flights if they weren't too expensive.
    This is my first tentative look and basically have no idea about America. I don't really want to drive through America as I'll be going solo and I don't find driving relaxing. Would this make America impossible to travel around? Happy to do buses, planes, subways, trains etc and would probably stay in hostels if these are readily available?

  2. Chica77

    Chica77 New commenter

    I went to America with my sister in 2003. We flew to San Francisco, then drove along the Pacific Coast Highway to Los Angeles, stopping at Santa Cruz and Big Sur on the way. Then we drive to Vegas, just for the last 3 days of our holiday and flew back from there. I loved San Francisco - we did lots of the touristy stuff, just wandering around, getting a trolley tram thingy, a bay cruise, visited Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Park, twin peaks etc. The PCH was beautiful and i wish we'd had more time to stop in the little places along the way. I wasn't so keen on LA actually, although Venice Beach and Santa Monica were nice. Vegas was interesting to visit, but 3 days there were plenty. We stayed in the Luxor. We booked the whole thing through a company called Travel Bag and they arrange all the tours, car hire, hotels, flights for you and so on.
  3. You can travel the North East by bus pretty easily. There is a China bus that goes from DC to NY and also the Mega bus, and I think the Bolt bus too. These are all clean and cheap. From NYC you can also take the bus up to Boston which I hear is a fun city. I have never been.
    The cheapest carrier for internal flights is generally South West. You can only book through their website, and they will not come up on your general search engines, such as Expedia. Airtran can also be cheap.
    Bear in mind, it is hot here in the summer (think 38 degrees plus) so anywhere south of New York is going to be hot.
    Chicago is fun. New Orleans is an experience.
    But your best bet is to do East Coast (DC, New York, Boston, Nantucket, Martha's Vinyard) then fly West (LA, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, San Fran)
  4. You're lucky to be planning such a trip!!
    My advice would be to concentrate on one or two regions rather than flitting about. You can't do it all so save something for next time!
    e.g. New England - could include NYC, Boston and Niagara Falls as well as more rural/coastal areas
    Appalachians south of NYC, down to Gulf Coast/New Orleans or Florida
    SW states - California, Utah, Arizona, Nevada (to include SF and LV)
    A lot depends on what your priorities are - Disney, shopping, music, history, big outdoors, cities, activities.

  5. countrybumpkin

    countrybumpkin New commenter

    Absolutely. I feel very lucky. It has been a horrible few years and although I feel a bit guilty when so many people are losing their jobs etc I can't help but feel like I deserve this a tiny bit too!
    My priorities are to see some amazing things, particuarly to do some photography. Big outdoors and city I guess.

    To the person above who said New Orleans was an experience. Can you tell me about it?
  6. countrybumpkin

    countrybumpkin New commenter

    Thanks to all who have replied so far.
  7. I totally agree with this. Taking a helicopter trip over the Grand Canyon is amazing. I would suggest you book in advance to get the day and time-slot you want. I also think 3 or maybe 4 days in Vegas are enough.
  8. As the PP suggests, focusing on a couple of areas would serve you best. NYC, Boston, Philadelphia and DC would be easy to do by Public Transport (I've been told the trains are good) and there is probably a way to get from NY from Niagra using public transportation, otherwise you could fly into Buffalo and take the shuttle bus.
    Once you get below DC, public transport gets bad and you really have to drive (I've lived here for a number of years and have only just started using the metro train system because I live near a station).
    It's also quite easy to fly from the NE to the west coast- although perhaps not as cheap as it once was- and again if you stick to the major cities, you can get around fairly easily but getting out of the city without a car will be a challenge and you will want to look at prearranged and escorted daily tours- there's a wine train which leaves San Fran and hits the Napa area. I enjoyed Vegas both times I went and you can take a helipcopter ride over the Grand Canyon although your chances of being able to get out there easily using public transportation would be challenging- it's a LONG drive and once you are there you need a car to get anywhere.
    I was always drawn to those ads in the back of the Sunday paper- 10 and 15 day escorted tours- if you don't want to drive and are traveling alone, it might be an option.

  9. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    We had 2 nights in Vegas but we had the kids with us. So the casinos were out of bounds. We did a flight to the Grand canyon while we were there and it was worth it for that but one night would have been enough. We drove through Death valley when we left and then crossed the Seirra Nevada mountains through Yosemite National park. 135 degreesF (57C)in Death Valley and snow on the side of the road on the high passes throigh the mountains all in the same day! Yosemite is worth a couple of days.
  10. I haven't been to New Orleans, but my understanding is that it used to be an awesome city, with lots of jazz and drinking. I think it would make an interesting visit now to see how it is being repaired, and eye opening to see how poorly a developed country can handle a disaster. It doesn't get much coverage, but my understanding is that it is still a mess after Katrina, with a lot of displacement and buildings still left untouched after the distruction.
    But it is a city in recovery. They rely on tourism for incme. The creole food is great, and there are amazing jazz bands.
  11. My experience also.
    But bear in mind, that driving isn't that bad in some of the sleepier states! (As long as you stick to some of the main drags)
  12. We did the whole west coast last summer.
    If you are up for going to Canada as well - go and see Vancouver, it's a pretty awesome city. You can take a coach to Seattle (3 or 4 hours) super relaxed border crossing. Seattle is awesome, very walkable.
    Loved Yosemite so so much
    Loved Santa Cruz (lefty beach town with a bit of surf - gets expensive at the weekends)
    Loved Vegas and Death Valley (but we had a car)
    San Francisco was freezing and covered in fog so not much photography for me
    L.A. is L.A. if you go, stay at Santa Monica - there is a big youth hostel there.
    San Diego doesn't get a mention here? So relaxed and laid back, i really liked it. You could nip over to Tijuana for the day. San Diego is also good for live music if that's your thing.
    Have fun![​IMG]
  13. Don't bother with public transport. Hire a car at the airport, ordered in advance. It's cheap and it's safer.
    Use motel chains - Motel6 have branches everywhere, cheap as chips, free parking, easy to find; I've never had the least complaint about them. The Western states one nearly all have pools.
    Three weeks will only be enough for a portion. Three-weekers we've done have been San Francisco - Yosemite - Los Angeles, Grand Canyon - Las Vegas - deserty bits (I don't recommend those for a lone woman traveller), New England (bit samey) - New York; and Southern States battlefields.
    New York is wonderful. If you're flying you will probably have a stopover - you could make a gap of a few days for NY either going out or coming back, but the longer internal flights have always ended up being delayed - but maybe that's just us! - so consider how you will get from airport to destination if you're delayed.
    I personally didn't like Chicago and couldn't get out of LA fast enough. I did love Santa Barbara, the small towns in Nevada and Utah we stayed in (Williams was errrr... interesting) and Boston.
  14. misssmusic

    misssmusic New commenter

    I spent 2 months in the US, I got a train pass for a month and it was the BEST! As long as youre not in a hurry it is such a great way to see the country and meet loads of cool people. We got an AMTRAK pass cant remember how much it was but it was cheap! You can easily sleep on the trains the seats recline like on a plane. We also treated ourselves to an upgrade to a cabin on one 50 hr journey from New Orleans to LA! That journey even included 3 course meals 3 times a day! There was also a cinema car and a glass topped car so you could sit and watch the world go by. I cant recommend it enough! Some people complain about AMTRAK coz its not the fastest way to travel but its so much fun and you see so much more than when you fly.
    That said, you can get some good cheapo flights internally in the US.

    We did NYC, Washington, Miami, Orlando, New Orleans, Atlanta, LA, Vegas, Yosemite, San Fran........my fave was def New Orleans - once in a lifetime place. I also loved Vegas and Im not a huge gambler!

    hope thats some help, gotta rush off sorry!

    theres a good website called 'Seat61' or the 'man in seat 61' or something............google it.........tells you lots about train journeys!

    Happy travelling!
  15. anon468

    anon468 New commenter

    Don't you feel guilty, cb! Nice to hear something good happening to someone - enjoy. [​IMG]
    I've visited America twice. New York is amazing, but in August the heat and humidity can be pretty tough to take. Ithaca and the Finger Lakes region are absolutely stunning if you want to get out of the city.
    The drive down through the Florida Keys is definitely an experience and Key West is fab. Wasn't fussed on Miami though.
    Have a wonderful trip.
  16. grandelf

    grandelf New commenter

    having travelled in both the east (Philly, NY, Washington) and west (Seattle, Vancouver,) Mids (OK, NM,)

    America is very easy to do, trains and coaches are great and cheap ish. Motels and hostels are a good way to meet people and see some stuff you wouldn't normally.

    If you want stunning nature, get up into British Columbia, fab place. If you wanna see the sights, stick to the tourist places...if you want something totally different, hire a car and put a pin in the map!
  17. littlemissraw

    littlemissraw Occasional commenter

    Have you considered Grand American Adventures. The Great American Road Trip is very similar to Trek Americas Southern Sun which I did in 2005. Loved every minute of it and does alot of the 'main' tourist destinations. xx
  18. dumpty

    dumpty Star commenter

    I agree with the poster above (Lillyofthefield?) that using buses and the like is not a good option to take.
    The US is built around and built for the car - they even have drive-in banks, I kid you not! While taking a Greyhound bus is indeed part of US history and will feel right in many ways, it is also the mode of travel of the severe underclass. You can be 100% guaranteed to have a fascinating/mad/weird/cultured/ultra-religious/anarchist 'nutter' sitting next to you on your 14 hour trip! And all Americans love to talk. Of course, this can be fun, so long as you are in the right mood!
    But seriously, 3 weeks car hire won't cost you more than buses and trains, and will give you the ultimate feeling of US freedom.
    As for where to go - anywhere. You will not find a more diverse and beautiful country to travel in. Personally, I'd say start in California and drift into Utah and Arizona. [​IMG]

    Try 'holidayautos' for the car - can be booked and paid for from here. Doing so in the US is easy, but they have a Ryanair approach to selling - by the time they have added the taxes and hidden charges, you have also lost a day of your holiday.

  19. CarrieV

    CarrieV Lead commenter

    I've done the West Coast . San Diego ( loved the zoo!) Los Angeles-didn't like it much, too big and nothing to do!, Pacific Coast Highway, beautiful and lots of little interesting places on the way. Monterey, and the little Danish place whose name escapes me at the moment!, San Francisco-OK but only managed a couple of days before the mist drove me mad- Nappa Valley, great for wine! Yosemite-absolutely wonderful, met a wolf!, Las Vegas-you either love it or loathe it! and Grand Canyon-early morning views were out of this world.
    I also went to Miami and the Keys ( on my own), the Keys were great, Miami was much better than I thought it would be, and even at night I felt reasonably safe!
    Driving is SO easy, even round Los Angeles and Miami, that you would be a fool not to!
  20. countrybumpkin

    countrybumpkin New commenter

    Thanks for all the ideas. I am getting excited now!
    Still not sure about the whole driving thing. I don't particularly like driving at the best of times and I've never driven on the right before. Scares me! I'd probably break down or go round a roundabout the wrong way!

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