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America in 4 weeks for a family of 4. What should we see?

America in 4 weeks for a family of 4. What should we see?

Dec 4th, 1998, 11:59 AM
  #1  
Mark
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America in 4 weeks for a family of 4. What should we see?

We are a 2 adult, 2 children (8&10) family from Australia arriving in L.A. 31Jan and visiting America for 4 weeks on the way to Europe. What are the best things to see? What route should we follow? How is it best to travel for a family on a budget? What kind of accomadation would be most cost effective without staying in dives? All suggestions appreciated.
 
Dec 4th, 1998, 04:02 PM
  #2  
Larry
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That's a bit like trying to see Australia in the same time frame. It will be deep winter here then so might plan a southern route - unless you plan some skiing. Can get lots of good info in the newsgroups. One is news: rec.travel.usa-canada. Think a rental van may be the best for traveling around. Should find some reasonable long-term rentals. Be sure to have an International Drivers License & ckeck with your local automobile club to see if they have rights with our AAA (American Automobile Association). Then can use these resources for maps, tour books, etc. Motel chains often offer the most reasonable lodging for your trip plans. The AAA TourBooks give ratings & price ranges. Have a GREAT time.
 
Dec 4th, 1998, 04:47 PM
  #3  
Linda
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California is a week at least--San Francisco and San Diego especially. Will Rogers named 5 cities as the most unique in US: 3 are doable in your time frame: San Franciso, California; New Orleans, Louisiana; and San Antonio, Texas. Depending on the weather you might be able to go up to Oregon from San Francisco. With the weather, I would recommend a southern route: could include Grand Canyon, Carlsbad Caverns, San Antonio, NASA area south of Houston & on Interstate 10 toward New Orleans. I know you will enjoy the States & hope things go well!!
 
Dec 4th, 1998, 04:50 PM
  #4  
Linda
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Oops! didn't see that you were going to Europe afterwards. Be sure to continue on the southern route to Washington, D.C. I don't know where you are leaving for Europe from on the East Coast, but you can get a good flavor of the US.
 
Dec 5th, 1998, 08:11 AM
  #5  
Lisa
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That is a hard one to answer. I agree that San Diego is good especially with children, The zoo there is great! If you have time and can drive up the coast of California to San Francisco that is a beautiful drive, especially as you get further north. I also love Washington, D.C. One of the things I like about it is all the American history so don't know if that interest you that much. However, the Smithsonians are great and you could probably spend a week in those alone. The Capital, the White House, the Monuments, Arlington Cemetary, etc. The list of things to see and do in and around Washington is endless. Never been to San Antonio but I have heard many people talk about how wonderful it is.

Hope you have a wonderful stay in the U.S.


 
Dec 5th, 1998, 08:15 AM
  #6  
Larry
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See this site for discounts on hotels, rental cars, etc: http://www.1800usahotels.com/
 
Dec 5th, 1998, 01:40 PM
  #7  
Diane
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This is a huge trip to plan! You probably should get some of the kid-stuff out of the way as soon as possible. You may want to stay in Santa Monica (near the beach) in LA. Spend a couple of days to get your bearing, do DisneyWorld or Universal Studios on one day. Try to avoid going on a Saturday or Sunday. Don't know what kinds of deals you can get on airfare (there may be specials out there, a travel agent should know) But you should then get to the Grand Canyon. I agree with the previous post about taking a southern route. Houston is a huge city in Texas. There is some
NASA stuff there, and it also is not hard to get from there to Galveston, another beach-city that is pretty interesting (or at least gives you a chance to relax and talk to some Texans!) Move on to New Orleans, LA. Be prepared for a wild place! Be sure to buy some souvenir cajun spices and hot sauce. You might enjoy visiting Branson, Missouri which has gotten famous for it's Country (and other music) shows. Try to arrive in Washington, DC area with about a week to spend before you take off for Europe.
It is a pretty small city in comparison to national capitols, and the kids will actually enjoy the Smithsonian museums -- particularly the Air and Space and Natural History museums. You can, if you wish, travel by train from DC to New York City. Be sure to have hotel reservations in NY, because often the city is really booked solid. You'll want to stay somewhere between East or West 89th Street and East or West 30th Street. (That's a huge area, but pretty much gives you access to the best of Manhattan.) Go to the top of the World Trade center if the weather is good.
What an incredible family experience you will all have! Take lots of photos.
 
Dec 5th, 1998, 09:20 PM
  #8  
Carole
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Check out www.TravelTex.com for information on Texas, San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, NASA. Washington, D.C. is a great place for history, museums (most free) and monuments. While you are in Europe, try to see Berlin, Germany and Prague, Czech Republic (beautiful cities & less expensive than others in West Europe. Have a wonderful time!!
 
Dec 5th, 1998, 10:50 PM
  #9  
Paul
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Hi.
Everyone has told you to take the southern route. While a more northern route will be colder, I feel that you will miss some unsurpassed beauty if you surpass the rocky Mountains. Even if you are not planning on skiing, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming and Montana (the mountainous areas) are beautiful in winter. If you are staying away from a ski area, you may also find cheaper accomodations. Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Taos and Santa Fe, New Mexico, Park City, Utah and most ski towns in Colorado have beautiful Scenery. You could also visit Kings Canyon/Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks in California. Interstate Route 80 goes east-west across the country and you could get on it in northern California. Good luck and enjoy your trip.
 
Dec 6th, 1998, 11:29 AM
  #10  
Lisa
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I also agree that the Rocky Mountains are really a beautiful site to see. The initial inquiry of what to see in 4 weeks is a very difficult one to answer. There are so many beautiful and interesting things to see. There is no way to do it justice in 4 weeks. If the cold weather doesn't bother you the Rocky Mountains are very beautiful. One of the best trips I have every taken was to Yellowstone National Park in February. What a beautiful site it was. The Grand Teton were also beautiful to see from a distance. You might want to give some thought to what kinds of things you and you family enjoy doing before you decide where you want to go. You won't be able to see everything in 4 weeks.
 
Dec 6th, 1998, 06:46 PM
  #11  
Steve
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Week 1 & 2: Arrive in LA. Drive down to Newport Beach. Drive PCH to San Francisco. Stoping along the way at Santa Barbara, Hearst Castle, Big Sur, etc. ending in Napa.
Week 2: Fly to Colorado. See the Air Force Academy, Denver, and Aspen.
Week 3: Fly to Florida. See DisneyWorld (the entire week).
week 4: Fly to New York City and on to europe.
 
Dec 7th, 1998, 02:34 AM
  #12  
Tony
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I agree with Steve. WE did week 1 and week 3, plus lots of other things. The drive up the coast to San Fancisco is wonderful.

If you are going to bother going to Orlando you would be mad to do it in less than a week. PS. Rob a bank before you go there, they charge like wounded bulls, but it is still worth it.
 
Dec 7th, 1998, 05:36 AM
  #13  
dan
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Thought I would add my own suggestions to the excellent ones above. I like to try to see representative places when I visit a country. I think that is particularly important when visiting a large, diverse country like the U.S. (I think you can identify with this, since you live in Australia). The aspects that I would include: West and East coast cities, nature areas, mountains, beaches, the capital with its museums, etc. I think whether you want to fly or drive makes a huge difference on what you can do. Driving across the U.S. alone will take you up to a week. However, that is the best way to see a country, whose best attributes are its natural areas. Maybe combine the two if you can.

Suggestions: See some of LA (beaches and/or Hollywood perhaps) to San Francisco. Then drive out to Yosemite National Park. Then fly or drive to somewhere in the Rocky Mountains - maybe Denver, or somewhere in Wyoming or Utah; Utah might put you farther south. I am going to suggest a southern route as well for driving to the East Coast. I have lived in the MidWest, and it is not going to be very scenic in comparison to driving across the south. Try to see the deserts of the southwest as you drive through to Texas. I like the idea of stopping at NASA and maybe also San Antonio. Maybe stop in New Orleans for a short visit. Then head north up through the Carolinas. If you have time, drive up the Outer Banks of North Carolina (the thin stretch of land that borders the Atlantic) or visit Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. If not continue to Washington, D.C. You should try to have a minimum of four days here - try to see the U.S. capitol building, the White House (maybe someone can tell you more about this one - it can be hard to get in), the Vietnam Memorial, the Air and Space Museum, the Museum of Natural History, the Museum of American History, the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, and the Washington Monument.

Last I would visit New York City. At least see the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, and the Empire State Building. A great departure city for Europe.

It may be that once you plan this out, it is still way too much. However, if you can see nothing else, at least try to get to San Francisco, a national park, New York, and Washington. It will give you a good sampling of the U.S.
 
Dec 7th, 1998, 06:47 AM
  #14  
ilisa
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If you decide to visit Washington, DC, please email me for more detailed information. I can give you more details on visiting the White House and other attractions. I'm also a docent at the Air and Space Museum, so I can tell you everything you ever wanted to know about that. If you want to see everything that DC and the surrounding area has to offer, including all of the Smithsonian, you will need at least a week. DC is a great destination because all of the Smithsonian is free, as well as the monuments.
 
Dec 24th, 1999, 05:16 PM
  #15  
a&e
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I have noticed that non-Americans get a lot of vacation time, especially Australians. How do you guys get so much time off?!?!
 
Dec 25th, 1999, 09:06 AM
  #16  
Joy in Virginia
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I recommend Washington DC, with the Smithsonian, all the monuments, and it is FREE! There are sites in Virginia and Maryland that are an easy drive from DC - Williamsburg Virginia is worth a day. Where will you be flying from to go to Europe? Virgin Atlantic (which I have had great experiences on) flies out of Dulles Airport near DC and also out of Orlando, Florida airport. I know lots of olks have recommended Orlando, but it is so big with so many attractions you may want to plan a trip at some point to just go there, and concentrate on seeing the country this time. Feel free to email me with any questions re Virginia sites (Or Orlando, I love it there & we go every year.)
 
Dec 25th, 1999, 07:58 PM
  #17  
SantaClaus
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If you are planning a trip to the Disney attractions I would suggest that you try the one in California and avoid the one in Orlando, Florida. Their is an ethnic rivalry problem in Florida and substantially more crime. The Orlando tourist establishment appears to prefer White tourists over non-whites. If you are the wrong ethnicity, you will have a miserable time in Orlando and nearby Disney attractions.
 
Dec 26th, 1999, 02:53 PM
  #18  
Tricia
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Great suggestions but may I add one more: Williamburg, Virginia. There is pictures and information on the internet about Williamsburg. Take a virtual tour and see if it something you would like. I took my daughter there 3 times when we lived on the East Coast. She was 12 at the time and is 20 now and trying to get a job there. It made quite an impression on her. The candle light tour remains a vivid memory as well as the House of Parliment where she was chosen to be part of the "reenactment" of how it was done in colonial times.
 
Dec 27th, 1999, 04:09 AM
  #19  
Franklin
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To see all the "must see" spots in America means a lot of driving. I would recommend a combination of sites of natural beauty and historic sites. The Pacific Coast north of Los Angeles and up through Oregon and Washington states is spectacular. A drive through Kalispell/Glacier Park in Montana on to Yellowstone Park in NW Wyoming is worthwhile. Within a long drive of Yellowstone is the site of the Battle of Little Big Horn, the last major Indian military victory in America's conquest of our West. The Grand Canyon of northern Arizona thrills everyone. The Alamo, where 188 Texans fought to the death a Mexican Army of 6000, is well worth seeing. Though it is a crime capital of the USA, New Orleans may be worth while. Better yet, drive through Cajun country of southern Louisiana to get a feel of the variety of the USA (and Cajun food is great!). You might want to drive along the Mississippi River through the state of the same name to see the restored pre-War of Southern Independence plantation homes. You will also come across some of the worst rural squalor outside the Third World in Delta Mississippi. The MidWest is dullsville-bypass those states. Monticello (Pres. Jefferson's home) and Mount Vernon (Pres. and Gen. Washington's home) is worth seeing as are some of the Civil War battlefields of Northern Virginia but beware the horrible traffic of northern Virgina. The battlefield at Antietam in western Maryland has less congestion. Though all foreign tourists feel obligated to visit Washington, the town is a crime-filled nuisance. A British tourist wandered into the wrong neighborhood two years ago and head his head shot off. Get the picture. The Civil War battlefield in Gettysburg is worth seeing. New York City, though things have improved, is still an expensive, congested pig-sty. Philadelphia is worse; Boston is getting that way. Northern New England is beautiful, a great place for sportsmen.
 
Dec 27th, 1999, 07:22 AM
  #20  
Larry
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Although I agree with many of the postings about a norhtern route and a visit to Yellowstone and other Rocky Mountain destinations, I am not sure that I agree a February car trip is the time to do it (unless skiing is on your list). Road closures and winter storms could make sticking to any sort of schedule very difficult, at best. Also, once you get wherever it is you want to see, piles of snow may limit what you can do.

With that in mind, and when you leave California, I would put the Grand Canyon (south rim) at the top of my list. You may want to see Yosemite Nat'l Park (again, winter weather may be a concern) and/or Las Vegas on your way to Grand Canyon. From Grand Canyon, I agree with the east coast suggestions, Florida and DC (and New York). However, that leaves a lot of ground to cover between Arizona and Florida and between Florida and DC. Again, the further north you go (past DC in particular) the colder it will get and the greater the chances that some sort of winter weather will force a schedule change. Having said that, the chances of winter storms are much greater in the mountains of the west and a northern route than in NY.

Does the budget you are planning have room for any flights? If so, one option could be to fly from Flagstaff (just south of the grand canyon) to Orlando, Florida. Then drive (about two days from Orlando if you stop to sleep) to DC. I would say DC is a must see, plan on several days--a week would not be too long (start with a search on this sight for past postings). From DC, you can take a train to NYC to remove some of the weather related problems.

In any of these places, you can find reasonable hotels. I think you have to quickly plan a general selection of places you want to se and then post again for more specific suggestions.
 

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