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First time at USA ... any idea?

Old Nov 14th, 2006, 03:31 PM
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First time at USA ... any idea?

My husband and I have started to consider to travel to USA.
Of course, we feel atraction towards those places we have seen on movies... you know, NY, San Francisco, Grand Canyon...
But we would also like to rent a car and move around, even if we "lose" time from these major attractions.
We are a little overwhelmed by USA size... From my country, the easiest place to fly to/from is NY, although I have seen that there are good options also to Miami and Chicago.
Any suggestion would be welcome.
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Old Nov 14th, 2006, 03:38 PM
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You would certainly be on the right track if you were to visit NY, San Francisco and the Grand Canyon. I visited the GC last year for the first time, and I was very impressed and pleased with my trip to Arizona.

You could fly to NY, then Phoenix or Las Vegas, and do a driving tour to the Grand Canyon. Actually, nowadays there are some lower cost airlines that would make it possible for you to fly

NY>Phoenix>drive to GC>drive to Las Vegas>fly to San Francisco.

It is a lot of moving around and just a small taste of the US, but you would certainly be seeing some of the very best places.

If you have travelled to other tropical destinations, Miami probably isn't something you would need to see. However, if you've never been to the tropics, it might be a good stop.

I can't speak for Chicago. I haven't been there yet.
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Old Nov 14th, 2006, 03:42 PM
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Yes it is a HUGE country. I would suggest to concentrate on one region for your first trip. Perhaps fly into New York City, and then spend some time in Boston and the New England states, maybe include Washington D.C.

Or fly into San Francisco or Los Angeles and tour around California and include the Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zion, maybe Las Vegas.
suze is online now  
Old Nov 14th, 2006, 03:43 PM
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How long is your trip?

I assume you are coming from Europe. My adivce (since as you said the US is huge) would be to stick to a single region such as:

1. East Coast - NYC, Boston, Washington DC
2. West Coast - San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego
3. South West National Parks - Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce
4. Southeast - North Carolina, Orlando, Miami

There are probably dozens of other options to choose from. What are your interests and what time of year? Snowskiing? Beaches? National Parks? Museums?

Look at flying into one city and departing (home) from another.
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Old Nov 14th, 2006, 03:48 PM
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How interesting! Haven't heard about Phoenix, except from a TV-serie which is on at my country... but there are hardly any sight of the place, except from some images at Arizona desert. How long is the distance from Phoenix to Grand Cannyon? Any interesting spot on the way?
I have travelled to Yucatan (Mexico) and Cuba...
Thanks a lot.
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Old Nov 14th, 2006, 03:49 PM
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Hi. I am certain you will get tons of recommendations but I will start. I hope you do come and it lives up to your expectations. I am sure I do not need to point out just how large the USA is. MASSIVE!! I have heard of people coming and planning to go to New York, LA, Florida. That is all possible but you would spend a lot of time on the road (not necessarily a bad thing) or plane-hopping (not necessarily a good thing). You can drive all day and never get out of the state of Texas!!! (TX is larger than France.) On the other hand you can drive to a few states easily in places such as Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, etc. in the North East. I think traveling to places that you have seen in movies and on t.v. is not a bad idea. I know I always feel a little more comfortable seeing a familiar sight. Just enjoy the journey while you are getting from one destination to another & I am sure you will have some very memorable experiences -- lots of stories to tell.
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Old Nov 14th, 2006, 03:54 PM
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Fodorites are the best!!!!
I am from Spain and our trip would be around 15 days...
I have liked the four areas idea. The worst thing is to choose one of them .
But it is a starting point to collect information about all those places and then decide which one is more attractive for us.
Thanks for being so helpful... I know my English is so good as it must be and you are all being very patient.
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Old Nov 14th, 2006, 04:02 PM
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Well, by the time I posted so had several others. { My husband and I traveled from Rome to Venice to the French Riviera then to Barcelona. We took planes, trains, and automobiles & had a wonderful time. I do not know how much distance that is but we spent 4 nights at each place and really enjoyed it. It was nice without being hectic. I don't like those trips where we try to fit in as many destinations as possible just because we can. You cannot get a feel of a place if you are only there for a few hours or a day. Just pick out every place that you want to see, decide how long this trip will be, choose how long you want to stay at each place & then weed out the places that just are too much trouble to fit in to the schedule. (We ended up going to Barcelona rather than Greece and I really enjoyed Barcelona even though I had no real knowledge of the place & not pre-conceived notions.) Do not be intimidated by the size of
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Old Nov 14th, 2006, 04:03 PM
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It's fun to help with a question like you have asked!

I should clarify when I use the term "New England states" those are the ones up north & back east such as Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine... it is a VERY beautiful part of the U.S. but I would not go there in the winter-time (snow & cold).
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Old Nov 14th, 2006, 04:16 PM
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diart, it is nice that you had had a great time at Barcelona. I live far from there, but I like it very much, too.
Suze, I have a question about New England area. We usually plan our travels so that combine some days at great cities and some days with more nature destinations. Considering that we would be visiting NY... i would like to know if New England has natural beauties or it is mostly urban.
Thanks again.
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Old Nov 14th, 2006, 04:46 PM
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Maybe you can get travel guides from Fodors and Frommers covering the USA. I know they have them but I do not know how comprehensive they are for your needs. They may help you narrow down. (I started to order one from last week & changed my mind because I think it was from 2003. I was just curious.) I use those two series whenever we plan a big trip.

We have been to NYC 3 times and the last time we went we watched the movie "You've Got Mail" just prior to our trip. On the dvd it has a map showing where all they filmed so we did our own little tour just of that and it was a lot of fun for us since it is one of our favorite movies.
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Old Nov 14th, 2006, 05:07 PM
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Hi Filloa..
Gosh, everyone here has given you excellent advice and I don't know when you are going but if you are going in the summer, I would fly into Los for the airfare and then fly home out of San Diego..
LA..head to Santa Barbara for the night..head up the Highway 1 up the coast to San Francisco..stay a couple of days and then off to Napa for a night and then drive to Lake Tahoe stay the night and then drive to Vegas, stay 2 nights and then off to Grand Canyon for 1-2 nights and then head to Sedona for 1-2 nights and then drop down to Phoenix, stay a night and then drive to San Diego and stay 2-3 nights and then fly out..about 15 days
Wherever you go, you are going to have a wonderful time and keep us posted as to what you have chosen.
Old Nov 14th, 2006, 05:27 PM
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The region of New England is well-known for its natural beauty in the form of mountains, lakes, and seaside destinations. The mountainous areas are popular destinations especially in autumn for visitors who want to see the beautiful trees as the leaves change colors The sandy beaches of New York's Long Island and Massachusetts's Cape Cod are popular summer vacation areas.
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Old Nov 14th, 2006, 05:55 PM
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i will try to give you my minioverview of the US using saps numbering.
1) nyc, boston, philadelphia and dc are huge cities, with museums, parks, a lot of history, restaurants and shopping. in the northeastern states of vermont, new hampshire and maine lots of trees, lakes and some smaller mtns. new englanders are sort of like the british - not much on bright colors and a bit reserved.
2) the west coast cities are quite far apart. very hip. some nice art museums. san diego has an incredible zoo. more casual than the east coast. lots of color used here.
3) this area is full of natural wonders. a lot of flat country interspersed with dramatic scenery in the parks saps listed. las vegas is fun and wild. phoenix is very casual and a distinct influence of the southwestern native americans.
4) the southeast is known for modern cities like miami and atlanta. gorgeous gardens, wonderful food and hospitality. charleston, north carolina for example is small, beautiful and full of history.
i'll add a couple
5) chicago, st. louis, kansas city all grew from the vast farm lands in the center of our country. lots of flat land here. very nice people.
6) the mountain states of montana, wyoming, idaho, colorado. huge mountains. ski areas. cattle ranches. yellowstone park is fascinating and the nearby grand tetons are magnificient mountains. denver is a city where a man in cowboy boots is normal but so is an evening at the symphony.
7) texas. huge. description best left to a native. but not like the tv show dallas...
these are really just some random thoughts and by no means sum up any given part of america. i do suggest you pick one section though. you might use public transportation while you are in cities and rent a car for seeing the countryside.
hope you come. have fun choosing your destinations.
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Old Nov 14th, 2006, 06:03 PM
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This looks like it is turning into a battle of east vs west.

As Horace Greeley once said, "Go west dear Filloa".

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Old Nov 14th, 2006, 06:08 PM
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If you do decide to explore the northeastern section of this country, after you escape from New York City you could see some beautiful natural sights in the northern part of the state, and in New Hampshire.

Here are a few links to some interesting areas to explore:

The parks around the Watkins Glen area are awesome. During the Great Depression, some of the wealthiest people in this country lived there. They hired thousands of stone masons and laborers to come up from New York and build stone walkways, bridges and trails all over the forests and mountains there. If you take a trolley up to the top of the glen, you can walk back down and even stroll through a large boulder...and will come out on the other side behind a waterfall that you can reach out and touch.

Mount Washington has a cog railway that you can ride to the top if you're looking for something different to do, and the views are astounding.

Of course, if you travel here during the winter months, you'll want to avoid those areas due to the snow and ice.
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Old Nov 14th, 2006, 06:28 PM
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I am sure you realize that it would be just as hard to see all of Europe in 15 days as it would be to see all of the US in the same time. Also consider that the trip from NYC to San Francisco is similar to Madrid to NYC. Your 15 days becomes 1 day less for every change of location within the US.

I would suggest that you pick 3 or 4 places to see and devote 3-5 days to each. Pick a different type of place for each segment. For instance, your big city would be New York, of course. Museums, shows, landmarks, shopping, etc. For history, Washington, DC. NYC to Washington: The Metroliner train, rather than flying. For natural beauty like no other place, the Grand Canyon (combine with Phoenix or Las Vegas). For this, a car would be needed. Or see the magnificent Pacific coast of California, and combine San Francisco, a city quite unlike NYC or Washington, and drive south to Big Sur, driving the coast and wine country and some redwoods -- you get the idea.

Consider carefully that distances are large between destinations, and that every day on a plane or train or driving 300 miles (500 km) will be one less day of doing things. Except driving a scenic road is, of course, doing something.

The more I think about it, I would say pick no more than 3 areas to see, then plan your next trip. If you want to, compare distances using two maps with the same scale to compare distances in the US to those you may be familiar with in Europe. You'll see what I mean.

By the way, I'm originally from New England, and I am pretty sure you would prefer the California coast or the Grand Canyon to rural New England, as I do.
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Old Nov 14th, 2006, 07:08 PM
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Most Europeans I've met who come to the US have told me that they really enjoy visiting the southwest and the west-coast. So my tendency would probably be to venture that direction.

I live in Chicago and think it is a great city however, I think that you would be best served by either visiting the southwest coast and desert areas of the US or the New England states (a region of the country I'm partial too, and it isn't that far from nyc), as both of those areas have a fair amount of attractions and areas of interest within one region (and your trip is only 15 days). Enjoy your trip, a friend of mine recently returned from Spain and had a lovely time there, I look forward to an opportunity to travel there some day.
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Old Nov 14th, 2006, 07:12 PM
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Okay, I'll jump in as well. I agree with the others, pick two, at the most 3 areas to concentrate on. Travel between areas will eat up your days.

Perhaps make it a mix of 1/2 big cities (those places you mentioned in your post) and natural wonders of the US.

My idea would be 1/2 in NY. Base yourself in NYC, and take some of the easy daytrips from there to surrounding areas...Washington DC, Conneticut, Boston, etc.

Then fly out to the West and spend time on the natural wonders. A suggestion, since you mentioned renting a car and driving, might be to concentrate on Colorado.

We spent a wonderful week in Colorado and saw so many wonderful things. There was a lot of driving, but it was worth it. We started in Colorado Springs, drove to Alamosa for the Sand Dunes, drove on to Mesa Verde (don't miss this it is amazing!) and on the way stopped in Creede. Drove up through Telluride, drove o to Black Canyon of the Gunnison, and so on.

Anyway, there's my two cents. You are getting lots of suggestions and ideas! Maybe it is going to get even harder to decide on what to do!
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Old Nov 14th, 2006, 07:18 PM
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Be careful! Boston and Washington DC are NOT daytrips from NYC. Boston is 200 miles from NYC. Would anyone really consider a 400 mile roundtrip in addition to touring a city a feasible daytrip? Same for Washington DC. Even Philadelphia wouldn't be practical, in my opinion.

You could spend your entire trip going hither and yon without stopping, but what would be the point? Exhaustion is not a vacation.
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