Holiday in the US.

Old Feb 3rd, 2012, 08:37 AM
  #1  
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Holiday in the US.

Hi!

I live in Hungary and I'm planning visiting the US for fist time this summer.

I would like to go to New York for 6 days, see everything there is , go to a Broadway show and visit Washington too.

After that I'd go to Orlando for another six days, visit a few Parks (DisneyWorld, Universal...) and I would like to go to the Kennedy Space Center.

Then I'd travel to San Francisco next, where I would like to spend 3 or 4 days, visit the Alcatraz and the Winchester House.

Last destination would be Los Angeles for 4-5 days and here I'd like to visit Disneyland too.

I ask people who know these places: are my plans doable? Or is it too much for three weeks?
Also, I need to find really cheap hotels, but also safe ones, for I'll be traveling alone.
(And I'm a 27-year-old female)

If someone has suggestions for programs or hotels or anything, I'd be very grateful!
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Old Feb 3rd, 2012, 08:57 AM
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It seems like a lot. Keep in mind that Orlando is a little over 1000 miles from New York, and San Francisco and LA are 3000ish from both of them and about 500 miles from each other, which means you have to fly between cities, or spend days traveling overland, which isn't necessarily cheaper and is a whole lot less convenient. I would plan either east or west coast, and not try to do both in one trip.

A good east coast itinerary that could be done overland is to fly into New York (which is expensive to stay in-you might find that a hostel is your best bet), spend several days there, take Amtrak to Philadelphia and/or Washington D.C. with a couple of days each (and they are both well worth a visit-but if you skip one it should probably be Philly). Then take another train to Orlando (and there are a number of Southern cities worth a visit that are served by the train-such as Richmond, Charleston, and Savannah-you could break for a couple of days in one of them). You might be better off renting a car to tour Orlando and the parks there (and you could drive the East Coast if you wished-although it's not an interesting drive and drop-off fees are steep), but it can be done by public transport if you stay on International Drive or Hotel Plaza Boulevard.

An overland West Coast that I've never done, but have researched, would be to fly into Las Vegas, spend a few days there (you can get luxury hotels quite cheaply sometimes), take a tour of the Grand Canyon, then take a bus to LA, spend a few days there (also a good place to rent a car-and this is obviously a driveable itinerary as well)-take the Coast Starlight to San Francisco, spend several days there (and maybe take a Napa tour, if that's your kind of thing), and fly out from there.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2012, 09:31 AM
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Only time for a very quick comment right now:

"Also, I need to find really cheap hotels,"

What is your actual budget?
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Old Feb 3rd, 2012, 09:36 AM
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Yes, you need to be specific about the amount you have to spend per night. Three weeks may seem like alot - but with your plan you will spend at least 5 solid days just in transit - flying from oneplace to another. Also - it is practically impossible to see LA withtou renting a car - they don't do public transit.

On another note - the parks in Orlando are VERY expensive - and although you can get budget motels in the vicinity - you then either need to rent a car - or find some sort of local transit (not easy from some palces). Hotels at the parks have free transit within them - but are generally not cheap.

And frankly I wouldn;t do FL in the summer - it is VERY hot and humid - nothing like the summers you are used to.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2012, 11:06 AM
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Good advice from nytraveler. For cheap solo lodging, try Hostel International. http://www.hihostels.com/
They seem to have higher quality hostels than the others.
If you don't want to fly to San Francisco, you can take an Amtrak train from Washington to Chicago and another to the San Francisco area.
Good luck on your trip and stay safe.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2012, 11:21 AM
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> visit ... the Winchester House.

A minor point, but in over fifty years of travel I can say with certainty that the Winchester Mystery House ranks up there as one of the most UN-necessary places to visit. It's not BAD, mind you, it's just not worth the admission price. In fairness to the actual tours, the guides make clear that the story about Mrs Winchester building the house in order to prevent hauntings is completely false (she never did explain why she did so), and the number of construction mysteries is pretty small. It's just a big house with a couple of sloppy work efforts, that's all. There's 100 places in the Bay Area I'd recommend for a visit over this place.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2012, 11:42 AM
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Not only that, it's in San Jose, which is 50 miles south of San Francisco. It would take a whole day by public transportation to visit the Winchester Mystery House.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2012, 11:57 AM
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Yeah - I agree about the Winchester Mystery House.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2012, 12:07 PM
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FWIW, I'd lop off a day or two from Orlando and add it to the San Francisco area.

Otherwise, until we know how you're getting from one place to the next, and what you consider inexpensive, we're a little bit limited re: what to say.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2012, 01:39 PM
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Thank you all for responding!

I'm flying to all cities, and all the hotels are supposed to have transports from the airport.
I won't be able to rent a car, because I don't want to drive in a foreign country...
But I heard that the hotels (at least the one I picked out) offer free shuttles to the parks in Orlando, so there it won't be a problem.
In NY there's the metro (how much do the tickets cost? Can I buy a ticket that's valid for 6 days?) But I don't know about San Francisco and Los Angeles.
To Washington and to the Winshester House I would like to go with a tour.
"There's 100 places in the Bay Area I'd recommend for a visit over this place." - what are those? I'm still planning, so if a find anything better, I can change my plans.
My budget... Hm... well, it would be good if the hotels (hostels) were under 100 dollars/night... But I don't know if it's possible, especially since I heard that the prices advertised on the websites don't contain the tax.
Thanks for the link about the hostels too!
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Old Feb 3rd, 2012, 02:59 PM
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I'm not sure why you would want to visit Walt Disney World in Orlando and Disneyland in California on the same trip, since they're basically the same. The difference is that in Florida there is Epcot Center associated with, but completely separate from WDW (separate admission), and in California, the associated (but, again, separate admission) park is California Adventure. Don't waste your money going to both Disney parks - do it one place or the other.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2012, 03:15 PM
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Depends on how much of a Disney fan you are. Plenty of people think it's worthwhile to visit them both, but Disneyland Park in California, and Magic Kingdom are substantially the same. Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Disney Hollywood Studios are only in Florida, and California Adventure is only in California. It might be a lot of Disney for one trip, although I would certainly not go so far as to call it a waste of money.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2012, 03:59 PM
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>>"There's 100 places in the Bay Area I'd recommend for a visit over this place." - what are those? I'm still planning, so if a find anything better
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Old Feb 3rd, 2012, 05:14 PM
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> "There's 100 places in the Bay Area I'd recommend for a visit
> over this place." -
> what are those?

For all of the following, the ratio of worthiness, over cost and effort to visit, exceeds that of the Winchester Mystery House. It's not that every place is BETTER than the WMH (although most are), it's that the enjoyment of each exceeds the admission price and trouble needed to get to them. That's not the case for the WMH.

1) Chinatown
2) View of Golden Gate Bridge
3) Ghiradelli Square
4) Riding a cable car
5) Lombard Street
6) Watch the boats at Fisherman's Wharf
7) Bay Area boat tour
8) Coit Tower, Telegraph Hill
9) Fort Point
10) SF Zoo
11) California Academy of Science
12) Palace of the Fine Arts
13) Mission Dolores
14) Walking down Market Street
15) Nob Hill homes
16) Golden Gate Park
17) Exploratorium
18) Walking around Sausolito
19) Giants baseball game
20) Oakland A's baseball game
21) Pier 39
22) Cliff House at sunset
23) Fort Point
24) Palace of the Legion of Honor
25) Muir Woods
26) Ocean Beach
27) Point Bonita Lighthouse
28) MH de Young Museum
29) Nike Missile Sight
30) Ferry Building Market
31) View from Twin Peaks
32) "Painted Ladies" homes
33) Fort Mason
34) Angel Island
35) Botanical Garden
36) Stinson Beach
37) Land's End
38) Maritime Museum
39) NASA Ames Exploration Center
40) Natural Bridges Beach
41) Mission Santa Cruz
42) Wells Fargo Museum
43) Santa Cruz Boardwalk
44) Stanford University
45) Intel Museum
46) Paramount's Great America Amusement Park
47) University of California, Berkeley
48) Lawrence Hall of Science
49) Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley
50) San Jose Rose Garden
51) Lake Merritt Park, Oakland
52) Point Reyes National Seashore
53) Union Square
54) City Hall
55) Cartoon Art Museum
56) US Mint Museum
57) Grace Cathedral, Nob Hill
58) Presidio Park
59) Eating a loaf of fresh sourdough bread
60) Movie at Castro Theater
61) Japan Center
62) Oakland Museum of California
63) Pacific Film Archive
64) Jack London Square
65) John Muir National Historic Site
66) Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge
67) Wildcat Canyon Regional Park
68) Redwood Regional Park
69) Mount Tamalpais
70) Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
71) Museum of Modern Art
72) California Historical Society
73) Fairmont Hotel
74) Vedanta Temple
75) Embarcadero Center
76) Museum of Craft & Folk Art
77) Ano Nueva State Preserve
78) Paramount Theater, Oakland
79) Preservation Park, Oakland
80) Charles Schultz Museum
81) Robert Louis Stevenson Museum

And twenty other places in the wine country -- since I'm not a wine expert, I can't give any specific recommendations, but I'd rather drive up to Napa Valley than down to San Jose.
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Old Feb 5th, 2012, 06:27 AM
  #15  
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I would like to visit the two Disney Parks because I have been to Disneyland Paris three times, and I like it a lot. I'm curious about the other Parks...
That list looks very good! A lot of things are on my list too, but there are also places I never considered, and look very promising!
I would like to see Stanford for example. I think it's in Palo Alto, isn't it? I don't know how I could get there without a car but I will consider it!
Thank you all.
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Old Feb 5th, 2012, 09:56 AM
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Stanford is easy to get to without a car. Take Cal-Train ( the commuter rail) from its San Francisco station at 4th and Townsend, to the Palo Alto Station. The station is on University Avenue near El Camino Real. When you cross El Camino, it turns into Palm Drive, which is the main road into campus. Distances on foot are far (the campus is huge), but there is a free bus system called "the Marguerite".
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Old Feb 5th, 2012, 10:08 AM
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$100 a night is an extremely low budget for major cities - even if you bid Priceline. You are liable to be either in suburbs - with transit a problem or in very unpleasant places.

As for airport shuttles - in the cities yuo are talking about this is not common. Usually only hotels AT the airport - not downtown - will hae airport shuttles - so you need to add the cost of geting from airports to downtown. (In NYC airporthotels are 45 minutes to an hur from downtown -- and getting there will not be inexpensive. If you are willing to look at a B&B with shard bath you might find something near $100 but I wouldn;t count on it.)

Los Angeles and that entire area has extremely limited public tranist (few buses that take forever to get anywhere and don't go many places). Yuo can get shuttles to some major places - but they will be much more expensive than public transit. DisneyLand is in Anaheim - nowhere near other things. You can look at budget motels i nthe immediate area and walk to the park but again, I don;t think $100 will do it.

I suggest you start building a trip based a realistic budget and then decide how much time you can spend here - and which places you can include (have you alredy costed out the air fares involved?)
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Old Feb 5th, 2012, 11:34 AM
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"I won't be able to rent a car, because I don't want to drive in a foreign country".

You may be restricting yourself unnecessarily. If the reason is driving on an unaccustomed side of the road, we drive on the right hand side here, as you do in Hungary. (I believe).
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Old Feb 5th, 2012, 12:26 PM
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I hesitate to offer my suggestions since I suspect my tastes are quite different from someone who has been to Disney Paris 3 times and still wants to come to the US and see it twice more! I live in So. California. But, here goes:

1) While it is not as hard as you imagine to drive in a foreign country, this can be difficult without a navigator to help and of all the places you mention, LA is the only one where you would need a car as things are very spread out. Other than Disneyland, you give no clue as to what in LA you would want to see. So, my strong suggestion is that you skip LA entirely or take my suggestion # 6 below. I grew up with Disneyland in So. Cal. and still do love the place but must admit it is in a very ugly location in Anaheim. Orlando is a more attractive environment with better alternatives.

2) In Orlando, buy a pass that will get you in to Epcot Center and the Magic Kingdom, so that once you realize the Magic Kingdom is exactly like what you have already seen, you can instead spend a day at Epcot which is fabulous and unique.

3) Since you are budget sensitive, consider a shorter stay in Orlando as you'll get bored of theme parks and go broke after about 3 days.

4) After visiting New York, definitely train to Washington DC for a few days. Then fly to Orlando after that.

5) Fly to San Francisco and visit the top 6 or so places on PaulRabe's list above, plus Alcatraz and/or Sausalito. Don't forget to have clam chowder with your sour dough bread! Yes, skip the Winchester Mystery House.

6) You could fly home from San Francisco or book a guided bus tour that takes you from SF down the California Coast (Highway 1) through Monterrey, Carmel, Big Sur (stop to visit Hearst's Castle) and ends in LA. You could then take a one-day guided bus tour of LA and fly home from LA.

I hope this is helpful information for you and that on your trip you encounter only friendly Americans!
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Old Feb 5th, 2012, 12:33 PM
  #20  
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Going back to your fundamental question about too much in so little time, I think it is or at least I might change a few things. I go to LA a few times a year and from a tourist's perspective ( especially one without a car) there are way more interesting places to go and much easier to get around in. I cannot imagine finding that much to do there and public transportation is a foreign concept. I think you'll be disappointed in disneyland after going to disneyworld, too. I would skip LA and use the time elsewhere.

Although it sounds like you love theme parks and they certainly are a part of the US, to spend much of your time in theme parks deprives you of some of the unique and wonderful places to go in this country. The beautiful thing about the states is it's diversity and regionalism. I would opt for New Orleans, Santa Fe, or maybe Charleston South Carolina. 6 days in Orlando not my preference but if that's what you want ok.

My point here is to rethink LA and substitute with more interesting and tourist without car friendly places.
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