Advice Needed on Travel in USA

Discussion in 'Community' started by liketom, Oct 25, 2004.

  1. liketom macrumors 601

    liketom

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    Location:
    Lincoln,UK
    #1
    hi all i am looking to travel to the states next May , and i am seeking the advice of all you US Macrumors members who live there.
    i am spending about 10 days in New Zealand and then on to the USA for 20 day's.

    places i want to go are San Francisco and New York and was thinking of getting the train accross with stop offs on the the way -

    where is good for stop offs ? i think that i have to go via Chicago do get to New York .
    Any idea's ?


    Tom
     
  2. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

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    Location:
    Andover, MA
    #2
    It depends on what you're looking for. To see the country, a train trip is an excellent idea - but you'll spend a large portion of your time traveling and not that much in cities.

    If you're looking to see the iconic American cities, choose any of the following (plus the many additional cities future posters will remind me I forgot):

    • San Francisco
    • Chicago
    • New York
    • Boston
    • Washington DC
    • Denver
    • New Orleans
    • Seattle
    • Phoenix and/or Tucson
    • San Diego

    You really can't go wrong, except maybe if you spend all of your time in one or two cities. Seeing the big cities will show you much of what you have heard of (and is the most efficient way to see things here), but real America is also in the small towns and farms which you will likely not see.
     
  3. wowser macrumors 6502a

    wowser

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    #3
    Would it be right to say that planning a cross country trip in 20 days would be a bit of a squeeze. I would pick half a dozen cities max, which you could see in relative detaill. 20 days wouldn't be long enough to see California, let alone the rest of the US. Pick varied cities - forgive me for saying this, but travelling from one US city to the next - places blur into one another.
     
  4. liketom thread starter macrumors 601

    liketom

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    #4
    your right , i know that i do not have alot of time to do this but i am looking to do as much as i can in the time i have. Chances are that i will be visiting again in late 2006 for another trip of some kind maybe Canada and down the East coast of the US , and i am also looking to go Inter-railing around europe at the start of 2006 all in the 20 ish day sort of timeframe so as you can tell i will be a busy boy .

    what would you class as a normal american town ? ( all i have are visions of picket fences and county sherrifs and pick up trucks )

    tom
     
  5. wordmunger macrumors 603

    wordmunger

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    #5
    So, is that something you want to avoid? Because, actually, we do have plenty of picket fences and pickup trucks. For example, you could head to Hannibal, Missouri, home of Samuel Clemens (AKA Mark Twain), and take a ride on a steamboat and see the original white picket fence that Tom Sawyer duped his friends into painting. I'm sure you'd see quite a few pickups there, too!

    More "normal" is probably a lot of superhighways and shopping malls. Atlanta might be your archetypal town for that sort of "normal," though you could also visit Martin Luther King's house and see the headquarters of Coke and CNN there.

    Honestly, I think one of the best places to visit in the U.S. is Washington, D.C., because there you get not only all the great museums and monuments, but you also get to see "real" Americans, in all their obese, T-shirted glory. There are also a lot of great restaurants!
     
  6. wowser macrumors 6502a

    wowser

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    #6
    also, without owning / hirng a car, you are more limited to the cities, as they are easier to reach by train. If you are in Boston, and want to see some picket fences, the surrounding area is full of many nice small towns all reachable by the excellent public transit system.
     
  7. liketom thread starter macrumors 601

    liketom

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    #7
    Washington sounds like fun , hey i can't see a reason why i can' hire out a car for a day to have a drive round some of these small towns where you have in mind ?
     
  8. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

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    #8
    I'd forget trying to see all of the US in 20 days and focus in on a region. You've said that you're likely to go back in 2006 and do the East Coast. I'd plan another trip to the South and Midwest another year.

    I've done many US multicity trips (generally going to see different NFL teams play so I've ended up in some strange places) and you really need to allow 3 days minimum in the big cities if you want to get the most out of them (that's not counting travel days). And you'd need to fly as opposed to getting the train - which is very relaxing but not the most punctual or fast. Driving is the most fun - steer clear of the freeways and take the highways to get to see lots of small towns and interesting stops.

    I'd suggest staying on the West Coast this trip and hiring a car (convertible naturally!). Start in San Francisco and do a loop (either way) via Napa Valley, Yosemite, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Los Angeles and back up the Pacific Coast Highway to San Francisco. That's do-able in 20 days with stops for interesting things along the road and time in each of the major spots. That doesn't get you San Diego or Seattle but I'd suggest you'd need more time in Seattle since a ferry on the Sound and trips through the Cascades and down to the Oregon Dunes are fun.

    A typical US town? There really isn't one. It depends on the its size and the area of the country. Coming from the UK, I'd expect you to find it much more spread out, fewer people walking around and generally, outside of downtowns, a lot lower across the skyline. You're also likely to find it friendlier. The stereotypes of small towns with picket fences and water towers isn't all wrong though. I've just returned from driving across parts of the Midwest and smiling at all the white wooden houses with pumpkins on the doorsteps, and dried corn stalks adorning the porches.
     
  9. wowser macrumors 6502a

    wowser

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    #9
    Yes - basically just stay in Northern California :)
     
  10. Mr. Anderson Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

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    #10
    You can do the cross country thing, but it would be pushing it. If you stay on the west coast you can see a more than enough to fill up 20 days - spend some time along the coast and go visit some of the parks - Yosemite, Bryce, Grand Canyon.....

    But if you do go for the coast to coast trip - DC and Chicago are worth a visit.

    D
     
  11. liketom thread starter macrumors 601

    liketom

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    #11
    That sounds more like what i'm after , i do like the idea of being able to drive to some of these places myself (convertable lol) , can any one recommend any good website for research .

    It looks like i will be flying in to San Francisco to start the trip in the US .

    Many thanks for all your advice

    tom
     
  12. wowser macrumors 6502a

    wowser

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  13. jxyama macrumors 68040

    jxyama

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    #13
    i wouldn't bother taking a train - it's a waste of time, especially west of Chicago. for the amount of time you'll spend moving in the train, you won't get to see much. if you want to maximize your time spent, take an airplane. you should only consider taking a train if you are under severe financial constraint. (not because it's necessarily cheaper to take trains... it's because you'll save on not having to stay at hotels because trains would take so long...)

    i think it's a problem with foreign visitors to the U.S. - they really underestimate just how far apart cities are in the western part of the U.S. when i was in europe, i drove from near geneva to bratislava in one day - that was a lot of countries: france, switzerland, liechtenstein, austria, germany and slovakia and many cities: geneva, bern, zurich, vaduz, innsbruck, munchen, wien and bratislava.

    in comparison, i just did a drive from michigan to seattle. in one day, driving a lot longer than i did in that one day in europe, i just made it from chicago to mid-south dakota. not too many big cities in between: chicago, madison, WI, sioux falls, SD and that's about it. none of them really worth a stay , except chicago, i'd say. the day after, it took just as long to go from mid-south dakota to northern wyoming near yellowstone. it's really, really vast out there...
     
  14. liketom thread starter macrumors 601

    liketom

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    #14
    Cool just bought it bargain price £9.09 thanks for that !
     
  15. wowser macrumors 6502a

    wowser

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    #15
    i used mine so much, half of the pages have fallen out!
     
  16. liketom thread starter macrumors 601

    liketom

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    #16
    you know i'm really looking forward to going now , i seem to be umming and arr'ing where to go for the past month and now that i have decided i feel very exicited lol . so what are these Parks like? (yosemite my old blue and white lol)
     
  17. agreenster macrumors 68000

    agreenster

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    #17
    Yeah, just ask Mr. Anderson and me about white picket fences and punkin's on the porch. Indiana can be a very stereotypical state with the slow-pace of life, tons of farming and water towers with smiley faces painted on them. The midwest is full of that.

    I'm moving to San Francisco. :D

    Anyway, I liked the idea bout starting in SF, and driving south like Applesider said. Seeing Vegas and the Hollywood sign and all the bay bridges and everything in between can definitely fill up a couple weeks. I think I'd throw San Diego into the trip as well. It's definitely worth going to. The US has a lot of space and a lot of distance to travel between cities. It is pretty staggering how different the east coast is from the west, and how different the midwest is from the south.
     
  18. liketom thread starter macrumors 601

    liketom

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  19. Mr. Anderson Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

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    #19
    I just moved to Indiana this summer - from the DC Metro area and its a huge change of pace. Just went back to DC this weekend actually.

    If you do go to DC I'll be more than willing to offer a few suggestions for food and sites to see - things that are a little different than the regular places, but very cool.

    D
     
  20. liketom thread starter macrumors 601

    liketom

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    #20
    thanks very much , might take you up on that nearer the time. just been in contact with my travel agent and it looks like i will be spending about 15 days in sunny california and 3 days in NY and 4 days driving around the east coast . just need to pay for it now
     
  21. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

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    Location:
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    #21
    Have a great trip!

    You might not realize this, but there are a few Americans, perhaps even a small town or two, who live in between the two coasts.... ;) Of course, many coasters don't realize that, either. If you come back, you might want to visit some of the places between. I mean, sure, you'll get the sun, and sure, you'll see the Big Apple, and yes, you'll see the best looking of us, and, of course, you'll have lots of fun things to do... for whatever all that's worth. But nowhere you're going will provide you with even a vague shadow of the pizza you could get in Chicago. :) Except for Papa Del's in Champaign, IL - and that's just a few hours south of Chicago.
     
  22. zelmo macrumors 603

    zelmo

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    #22
    Sticking to the West Coast is a good idea. Set your sights too broad and you won't really get a flavor for each place you visit. Come back and hit NYC, Boston, Philly, and DC in a nother trip. You could probably hit Chicago as well, a short flight away and one of the greatest cities in America.
    If you are staying on the Pacific side and do head to the Grand Canyon, do yourself a favor and go to Sedona, Arizona. Artist community, Red Rocks, simply breath-taking and head-clearing. My favorite place on the planet, so far.

    You could also go to Redmond and piss on the grounds of M$. Also quite cleansing, but in a completely different way. :p
     
  23. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

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    #23
    As I sit here, Sedona red-rock-dyed cap at my side, I must concur.
     
  24. craigdawg macrumors 6502

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    #24
    I'm writing this with a pronounced left coast bias.

    If you're going to be in New Zeland, my guess is you will or can fly in to Los Angeles. Forget the train. As was previously suggested, rent a car. We love to drive and just about everywhere you'd want to go is car friendly.

    Assuming you spend a few days in LA to see what there is to see, you'll want to drive up the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway (aka PCH or Hwy. 1). Start a bit south in Newport Beach or Huntington Beach is nice too. Roll north and you'll pass through places such as Manhattan Beach, Santa Monica, Malibu, San Simeon (Hearst Castle), Carmel, Monterey, Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay, and you'll arrive in San Francisco. You could spend a week doing that.

    Figure at least 3 - 4 days in San Francisco. From there you can keep driving north through Oregon and into Washington, or you can catch a plane to wherever else you chose. Air travel in the US is at times inconvenient but beats taking the train. Good luck!
     
  25. zelmo macrumors 603

    zelmo

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    #25
    Went to Phoenix for five days several years back to visit my wife's sister. We drove up and spent a little time in Sedona before continuing on to Williams and took the steam train to the rim of the Grand Canyon. Canyon was cool, no doubt, but it was so vast that it was hard to comprehend the scope. Probably would have been more inspriring to get down to the floor and have it surround you.
    Sedona, on the other hand, was awe-inspiring on a very personal level. We were there for only 5-6 hours before we crashed for the night. We couldn't not go to see the canyon when we were so close, but if I had to do it all over again...
    Can't wait until my boy is old enough to appreciate it, because we'll go back for a much longer stay.
     

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