Itineray - LA Yes or No

Nov 7th, 2007, 01:01 PM
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Itineray - LA Yes or No

Researching into a 5 week trip starting in Vancouver taking in west coast, Seattle and San Fran, LA then on to Vegas and later NE USA -Chicago, N.Falls, Boston and ending up staying in NY City before flying home.
The more research and reading I do the more i wonder if LA is really worth a 3 day visit within the schedule. I am a little nervy of the safety aspects and the amount ther is to see and was wondering if the three days i had planned may be better spent else where?
Current schedule allowing for travel, including Amtrak sleeper, and flights:
3 days VanC (been before)
2 days Seattle
3 days SF
3 days LA ????
7 days Vegas
3 days Chicago
2 days Niagara Falls
?? Boston
?? Wash DC
?? Philly
7 days NY city
Tauntony is offline  
Nov 7th, 2007, 01:23 PM
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Sorry, but you're planning 7 days in Las Vegas and you wonder if there's enough to do in LA for THREE days? I truly think you have this backward.
Nov 7th, 2007, 01:29 PM
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Completely agree with above. There is nothing to do in Vegas for more than 2 nights. If you're going to the Grand Canyon, add another night for that overnight trip. That's 3 nights in that area, which is enough. LA has a lot to offer. The only reason I would skip it is if you don't have a car and mind commuting long distances by buses as it's very spread out. If you can rent a car, I would definitely keep it on the list. I would also definitely add DC to the list for 3 days. The general consensus is that it's not worth the cost and trouble to go to Niagra Falls if you have limited time, and if you do go, you don't need more than 1 night there. You can do 2 nights each in Boston and Philly. If you're going to do any side trips from SF, I would add 2 more days there. If you're taking the train, I would do 3 nights in SF and then allot 3 nights for stops along the coast between SF and LA (Monterey, Santa Barbara, San Lus Obispo, etc). If you had to skip something else, I would skip Seattle and add New Orleans to your trip.
smartcookie is offline  
Nov 7th, 2007, 01:38 PM
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I don't think I can help much since a few of your choices just don't make sense to me. But it your trip after all . . .

3 days SF vs 7 days in Las Vegas?? That is the first one that surprised me. Then 2 nights at Niagara Falls - why? The places that would be "musts" for me Like DC, SF and LA get less time than Vegas.
janisj is offline  
Nov 7th, 2007, 02:13 PM
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Blimey (mild english explitive)

Help me out here please folks.

Wife and i have booked a 30 day usa rail pass to celbrate our 25th wedding anniversary.We are in our mid 40's.

Visiting family in Vancouver begining of April and have the opportunity to take 5 weeks travelling to New York.

Always wanted to tour the USA and visit specifically SF, Vegas, Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, and NY.

Just dont know where else to visit or how long to spend in each City.

Any suggested itinerays? (as what i had originally planned does not seem to fit with you experts.)

Any recommendations gratefully received.,

Tauntony is offline  
Nov 7th, 2007, 02:26 PM
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Hi, Tauntony -

Sounds like a wonderful trip!

Like others, I'm a bit surprised that you would want an entire week in Vegas, but it really depends on what you want to see and do. I also agree with others that a single night in Niagara Falls would likely be sufficient.

Personally, I'd add more time in Chicago and I would seriously consider including Boston for a couple of days, DC for at least 3 or 4 days (depending on your interests), and a couple of days in Philadelphia.

Hope that helps!
kja is offline  
Nov 7th, 2007, 02:28 PM
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So, is your plan 30 days, starting in Vancouver (not counted in the 30 days) and ending in NY (also not counted in the 30 days)?

I don't know anything about Amtrak, but I'd want:

2 days Seattle
1 day Portland
4 days San Francisco
3 days Los Angeles
3 days San Diego
3 days Las Vegas (includes time for a day trip to the Grand Canyon)
3 days Chicago
3 days Boston
4 days Washington
2 days Philadelphia

That's how much time I'd want in each city -- it doesn't account for travel time, because I have absolutely no idea how long it takes to get from place to place by train.

That's just a starter -- others will chime in, I'm sure.

Nov 7th, 2007, 02:50 PM
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I like the suggestion to add New Orleans to the itinerary. I love that city And it will be unlike most of the other things you will be seeing.

I also like the suggestion to spend a couple days driving between SF and LA - the Big Sur coast is very beautiful.

What time of year are you coming?
J_Correa is offline  
Nov 7th, 2007, 03:08 PM
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You need to understand (unless you've used it before) that you can't rely on Amtrak for long distance train trips on any sort of schedule. It is not the least bit unusual for the Coast Starlight to get in to one of its Calif stops 12, or even 24 hours late.

US passenger trains - except for a few high traffic commute-corridors (along the east coast, between SF and Sacramento, between LA and San Diego, etc) are the poor step child of US public transport . . . . .
janisj is offline  
Nov 7th, 2007, 03:59 PM
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janisj is absolutely right that you can't plan for the trains to be on schedule. so you have to factor in travel time AND delays into your itinerary.

I'll expand on dmlove's itinerary which is pretty good already, but doesn't include NYC which needs 4-5 days. I also made these "nights" instead of days to factor in for travel time it takes to get to/from the city/hotel from the station etc:

4 nights San Francisco
1 night Monterey stop along the coast
1 night Santa Barbara stop along the coast
3 nights Los Angeles
3 nights Las Vegas (includes time for a day trip to the Grand Canyon)
3 nights Chicago
5 nights NYC
3 nights Washington DC

This is 23 days, without any travel time incorporated. So this is about as much as you can fit in and I think these are the most important cities to visit on your list. It's really not worth spending 2 of the days going to Niagra Falls. Most people are dissappointed when they go out of their way to see it. And you would be going out of your way since it's about 7-8 hrs one way from NYC, i.e. full day to travel each way.

It's also highly recommended that you rent a car in LA. The other cities on this list you can do without one. Also, keep in mind that just getting to Chicago from Vegas is going to take a couple days by train. I wouldn't try to fit in more than this in your trip. Add the extra night or two you may have if everything goes on schedule to the cities where you want more time once you're there.
smartcookie is offline  
Nov 7th, 2007, 04:30 PM
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You might want to check the timetables going back to Chicago from the west coast. The train from LA leaves in the middle of the night and you miss a lot of the good desert scenery. I think the train from the Bay Area might be a better choice.

If you do decide to visit in LA, you can catch the Metro Red Line directly from Union station to Hollywood and to Universal Studios. You do not need to rent a car if you don't want to. Downtown Los Angeles or Hollywood would be convenient for a hotel location since the Metro connects them. If your arrival is late at night, you can get a taxi to a hotel in Little Tokyo (the Miyako is a reasonable choice).

I don't know what it is about Las Vegas and the Brits, but it always seems to be at the top of the list. But I agree that 7 days is a bit much.

mlgb is offline  
Nov 7th, 2007, 04:35 PM
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Smartcookie, the entire trip is 5 weeks and the Amtrak pass is only 30 days - I assume they will arrive in NY and stay there for a week or so at the end of the Amtrak portion of the trip.
Nov 7th, 2007, 07:09 PM
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Ah, that makes sense, dmlove. Hopefully they will expand on the details. I would add New Orleans detour if that is the case or Seattle/Portland. Would be also helpful to know what time of the year they're going. They don't absolutely need a car in LA, but that would limit them in what they can do and see, especially if they want to see the popular beach neighborhoods and if they're not keen on spending an hour or more on buses with connections to get there or the Getty each way, which are some of the highlights for many tourists.
smartcookie is offline  
Nov 7th, 2007, 07:21 PM
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Agree too many days in Vegas. It is all the same. One big theme hotel after another. Fun for a while, but no variety. LA (or other real cities) have lots of different things to do. Cut Vegas in half and add it somewhere else. (I say LA. Downtown, Venice, Farmer's Market, Observatory, Getty I and II, Norton Simon, Huntington, studios, Farmer's Market, Hollywood, and tons of other stuff.)
dncdave is offline  
Nov 7th, 2007, 09:51 PM
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There's no way I'd try to see large portions of the Western U.S. by Amtrak. Our trains are just not that comfortable, and freight trains get track priority over passenger trains on almost every route, hence delay, delay, delay.

Are you aware the trains don't travel along the coastline in Washington or Oregon or almost all of California? Go to and click on the map of routes.

You'll also see that you can't get all the way to Las Vegas by train. There's probably a bus from Kingman. In any event you must go to Los Angeles first.

L.A. is probably as safe as most of the other cities on your list, and it certainly has enough sights to occupy you for three days. World class museums (the L.A. County Museum, Getty Center, Getty Villa), the entertainment industry (Hollywood, studio tours, the Hollywood Bowl), wild and undeveloped land in the middle of vast urban development (Griffith Park, the Santa Monica Mountains), great restaurants of every ethnic cuisine you can think of (Ethiopian, anyone?), a planetary observatory (recently renovated), botanical gardens, and on and on. What it doesn't have for travelers without a car is a comprehensive public transportation system. You can get everywhere, but it will likely take you a long time and three days will melt away very fast.

I'm not a fan of Vegas, so 7 days there would drive me insane.

Good luck!

Jean is offline  
Nov 8th, 2007, 07:42 AM
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Tauntony-Just wanted to make sure that you have already purchased your 30 day rail pass. If you had then you will just have to deal with train delays.

I don't know how much a rail pass costs per person but if you haven't purchased it, you might want to think about doing some flying instead. There are low cost airlines such as Southwest than can get you to Chicago and then on to the east coast. If you are in LA and book your ticket early, you can get a one way flight to Las Vegas for around $59 per person. A combination of train and planes would work so much better for you.

As far as Los Angeles, I am not sure what you mean about safety issues. LA is just like any other big city. There are certain neighborhoods to avoid but the touristy areas are perfectly safe.
I don't think you 'd have much problem driving in LA. I have several British friends who rent cars and drive in So. CA and have no problem. You can get around in LA without a car but public transporation is slow.

I am another one who would not spend 7 days in Las Vegas. Three days is plenty maybe 4 if you add in the Grand Canyon.

Let us know what else we can do to help.

paula1470 is offline  
Nov 8th, 2007, 10:46 AM
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Thanks to you all for your suggestions.

As I expected different views on what I should and should not visit.

Perhaps itís just us Brits? But the two things I did not want to miss out were Vegas and Niagara Falls.
The train service to both of these sites is not good as I have since discovered.

I have decided to fly from LAX to Vegas and then fly on to Chicago using Southwest airlines who I understand allow you to change flights without penalty.This will hopefully allow me some flexibility in to how long I stay in Vegas.

So revised schedule and a bit more detail for your comments.

1-4 Vancouver with family

5 Start Seattle (first day of train pass) Overnight sleeper to San Fran

6-8 3 nights San Fran

9 All day train to LA

10-11 2 days LA

12-16 Fly to and stay 5 days Las Vegas (Inc G.Canyon)

17 Fly to Chicago

18-19 2 days Chicago including watching Baseball game

20 Overnight Train to Buffalo/Day at Niagara

21 Leave NF to???

22-27 Boston? / Washington?/ Philly (end of rail pass)

28-35 New York

I know I am trying to get it all in but I donít know if I will ever have the time off work or the money to visit the USA again.

Thanks again
Tauntony is offline  
Nov 8th, 2007, 11:44 AM
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I see you like to visit cities.

How are you planning to get around? Are you going to rent cars or are you avoiding car rentals?

How are you planning to visit the Grand Canyon? There are bus and airplane tours from Vegas.

There is an overnight train from L.A. to Williams, Arizona. From there you can get a (non-Amtrak) train up to Grand Canyon.

If you got a car in Las Vegas you could drive to G.C. and spend a couple of nights there. Stop at all of the lookouts. Might be nice to visit Wupatki National Monument, if there is rain in the desert in April then it will be colorful, quite different from U.K. But even if you don't stop there you can drive on down to Sedona for a night or two. Fly out of Flagstaff or, less expensively probably, out of Phoenix.

L.A. is safe enough and there is a lot to see here. But I'd recommend taking a couple of days to visit Yosemite National Park instead, given that most of the rest of your tour is city.

I don't get the point of your visit to Chicago. Do you want to see a Cubs game? or a White Sox game? or just any major league baseball game? Seattle has a nice ballpark and a decent team. Baseball in S.F. and Oakland. Also in L.A. and Anaheim. There is even a minor league team in Las Vegas. From Buffalo you could see major league baseball in Toronto.

Are you interested in racing? Some of the Kentucky Derby prep races are held in April.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Nov 8th, 2007, 12:02 PM
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Love cities but would also like to do Yesomite, Grand Can and Niagara Falls .It just trying to fit it all in

Do NOT want to drive at all. Do enough of that in my day job and would like a glass of wine or two with my lunch!.

Planning Vegas to GC by days helicopter tour

Baseball Ė Donít really mind who or where just heard the Chicago stadium is worth a visit but understand the Boston Sox are the team to watch. Just want to go a game sit with a beer in one hand and hot dog in the other and sit next to a local who can explain the finer points of the game.

Love horse racing tell me more
Tauntony is offline  
Nov 8th, 2007, 12:35 PM
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I would go to either a SF Giants game - AMAZING ball park w/ views across SF Bay, or a Chicago Cubs game or Red Sox game. I would not go to Chicago if it was just to mainly attend a game.

If you drop Chicago and go to games in San Francisco and/or Boston you'd have more time to add other cities.
janisj is offline  

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