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First time travelling to US

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Hi everyone,

I am travelling to US for the first time in my life this summer and am very excited for that.
But it appears (at least this is what i feel now) US is not so user-friendly for tourists as Europe, may be because it too big :)
I arrive to NY on July 24th and flying back home on August 16th from Los Angeles, so I have around three weeks to explore as much as I can. I've been doing a research, but since i have several questions decided to write in a post. My initial plan is to visit NY, LA, SF, Las Vegas and Grand Canyon. I think its doable for this period, but I wanted to know if you recommend to plan the trip myself or u better take a tour, since i see there are a lot of tour agencies offering LA-SF, or LA-LV. And if yes, which tour agency would you recommend?
Also I would very much appreciate if you could recommend where to stay in all these cities, particularly in NY, LA and SF. NY is too expensive and the budget hotels are quite bad it seems. The Same problem with LA, i was looking for a shared apartment or a studio and couldnt find anything.

Any advice would really really help!

thanks beforehand

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