Itineray - LA Yes or No

Nov 8th, 2007, 12:37 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
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meant to ask - does your screen name mean you are from Somerset? Love (!) that part of the country . . . . .
janisj is online now  
Nov 8th, 2007, 01:01 PM
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Are those days or nights? If they're days, you have to realize that you will be spending half of your travel days in transit, so they're not really days where you will see much. I understand the desire to see everything and I do trips like this myself, but there is a reasonable time to spend in a city and then there is a way to just get to the city and not actually see much in it.

2 days in LA without a car will only allow you to see Hollywood and West Hollywood. You won't have time for any of the beach neighborhoods. I don't think it's worth the trip just for that. If you can't do 3 nights in LA without a car, or 2 nights with a car, I would skip it altogether.

2 days in Chicago is also very little. If it's 2 nights, then it's not too bad, but if it's 2 days where you will be traveling for part of each day, then it's not worth it either.

5 days in Vegas/Grand Canyon is still too much. You can easily cut it down to 4. You have to realize that the touristy Vegas that you will see is just one street with a bunch of hotels. It'll take you one day to walk around, and another day to gamble and see a show, and then you'll be ready to leave, like most. Unlike you're hiking and doing other outdoor activities at the Grand Canyon, it will only take you 1 day to actually see the canyon itself. So, you can do 1 night there and not miss anything.
You have to choose between Philly and Boston. I would pick Boston if I were you and spend 3 days there. You need 4-5 days in NYC just to see the major sites.

In terms of flights, Southwest does allow you to change flights without penalties, BUT you will have to pay the difference in cost if you do. And flight prices go to regular prices within 2 weeks or so of the flight. So, if you do decide to change it the day or two days before, you could be paying double or triple the original cost in price difference.

The times that were indicated above were already the minimum days you need to spend in each city.
smartcookie is offline  
Nov 8th, 2007, 02:56 PM
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Might be chilly in S.F. for an April baseball game. There is a baseball team in Boston, but that place might be too Irish for you. Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles is a great place to see a game. I am an L.A. Angels fan and though the ballpark is not a classic style it is a great place to see a game, usually 40,000 fans with frequent sellouts (43,000). It is in Anaheim, near Disneyland (the Anaheim Amtrak station borders the stadium parking lot, in fact). I've recommended skipping L.A. but if you do come, let me know and I'll be the local sitting next to you explaining the game.

I am fairly certain that there are tour buses that go from S.F. area to Yosemite.

Figured you'd like racing, being a Brit. I will have you know that I did attend Royal Ascot, in the Royal Enclosure. And bet on the winner of the Darby at Epsom (Lamtarra).

In April, there is racing in S.F. at either Bay Meadows or Golden Gate. But the bigger meet is at Santa Anita, in the L.A. area. The track was featured in the movie Seabiscuit. The grounds are beautiful and extensive and the backdrop, the San Gabriel mountains, is fairly dramatic. Racing is Wed thru Sunday, daytime. The meet starts Dec 26 and runs to April 20 (none of the three-five day meets/fixtures here, more like five months).

You want to go to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Nothing else will do. Looktours has a plane/bus tour. Fly to G.C. airport and then a tour bus takes you to a couple of the most fabulous stops at the canyon rim. Then fly back to Vegas. 6 hours or so total. But would be better if you stayed the night. There are bus tours too, go across Hoover Dam and thru the desert.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Nov 8th, 2007, 04:20 PM
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one clarification re mrwunrfl's comment - April is usually very nice in SF. Surprisingly, a ball game then would almost certainly be warmer than in June or July.
janisj is online now  
Nov 8th, 2007, 05:21 PM
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I stand corrected. But it might be cold/rainy in Chicago or back east. Little chance of a rainout in L.A. One April several years ago I was in L.A. for business and didn't put the top down on my rented convertible for the entire month.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Nov 8th, 2007, 10:22 PM
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MY SIL recently attended a conference in Ottawa (she is from New Zealand). She made the trip to the Niagara Falls stayed in a hotel where she had an awesome view of them and just loved the boat trip to the Falls themselves and the tour behind them. She took some incredible photos and has convinced me that DH and I should go and see them sometime.
nelsonian is offline  
Nov 9th, 2007, 05:54 AM
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If you plan to go to a major league baseball game, plan to buy your tickets in advance. We have a hobby of sorts of visiting different stadiums on our trips and spent a very uncomfortable game in Atlanta once with standing room only tickets. There were empty seats in front of us, but we weren't allowed to move into them.

Some ballparks do not have crowds at all and you can walk up and buy tickets, but that is not always the case.

Also keep in mind that only half the games are home games - there might not be a game when you are there. That's something that we've run into when planning our trips - especially if we are trying to go to two different stadiums in the same area.

You can check schedules, prices, and ticket availability at I'm not sure how far in advance it is available.

traveler2005 is offline  
Nov 9th, 2007, 06:00 AM
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Just a thought - if you think you might be able to come back to our country again, it would make the trip much more relaxing and doable if you broke it into two pieces and didn't try to see everything in one trip. We are a big country and it makes me pretty tired just reading your itinerary. You're going to be spending a lot of time traveling from city to city.

Here's another idea. Try re-writing your plans and show the travel time.

For example,
3 days Vancouver
1 day Vancouver to Seattle
1 day Seattle
1 day Seattle to San Francisco
2 days San Francisco

That will make it more obvious how much time you actually have in each city. By and large, you will lose a day with each change of city, I would think.


traveler2005 is offline  
Nov 9th, 2007, 06:05 AM
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Oops - I see you already did break it up into travel days in another note.

traveler2005 is offline  
Nov 9th, 2007, 11:08 AM
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Tauntony, given that you enjoy your wine you should consider taking a tour from San Francisco to the Napa Valley. The closest Amtrak station would be in Martinez, CA, I think. But there are day tours from S.F. hotels.

After Buffalo, you should be able to find winery tours in New York too.

There is some good racing in Arkansas, at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs. Interesting little town with bath houses that catered to Chicago gangsters back in the day. It is off the beaten track though.

You'll find racing in New York city in April. The Wood Memorial is mid-month and is the last big Derby prep.

The Kentucky Derby is the first Saturday in May. The racetrack, Churchill Downs (a grand place), opens about a week before that.

The racing at Santa Anita will have a $300,000 or higher stakes race just about every weekend that month. The weather will be excellent and the racing first rate.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Nov 10th, 2007, 01:29 PM
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Having escorted a fair number of your fellow "Brits" thru CA, they do report loving Vegas, Yosemite, Carmel (I think mostly because of fascination with Clint Eastwood). "Hollywood" is usually a bit of a disappointment, but they do seem to want to see it, look at the footprints, etc. As I mentioned, if you arrive at Union Station in LA, you can stay either downtown or in Hollywood and in two days get around easily without a car using the Metro Red Line ( There is also a direct bus from Union Station to LAX. You will not run out of things to see/do. It isn't necessary to go out to Santa Monica as is often suggested by some people.

Chicago is a great city and I would spend a week there if I could, even without a baseball game. It's easy to get around without a car. It can be bitterly cold in April (one visit it was 90 degrees when we arrived and changed to around freezing DURING the baseball game). Since Chicago has two teams, it might be a good option for the game (but try to see the Cubs). Be sure to check schedules ahead so you will be there when there is a HOME game.
On the east coast, Boston is a lot like England (we used to call it a half-way house when my Welsh in-laws moved there). Washington DC would be a good choice for a few days, and also easy to get around. (You can stay just across the Potomac in Arlington or Alexandria and save a bit on hotels).

I would pick the latter over the former, can't help with Philadelphia.

Good luck with your planning, and do what YOU want to do.
mlgb is offline  
Nov 11th, 2007, 12:49 AM
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There is a nice racetrack in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights called Arlington Park. I think it might not be open in April but mention it because you can get there by Amtrak (after connecting from a commuter rail line). The other tracks in Chicago are not of much interest. Santa Anita in LA, though, is a gem.

I am told that the San Diego Padres baseball park is across the street from an Amtrak station and the area is an interesting place to visit. The excellent racetrack at Del Mar, near S.D. is only open mid-July to the beginning of September.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Nov 11th, 2007, 12:53 AM
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It's not "necessary" to go to Santa Monica, Venice, the Getty, Beverly Hills etc in LA, but those are some of the highlights and what tourists usually expect to see as that's what they see on TV. If you spend all your time around Hollywood and Downtown LA, just don't expect to see the places you're used to seeing in the movies as those are filmed in Beverly Hills, Brentwood, and Santa Monica.
smartcookie is offline  
Nov 11th, 2007, 01:54 PM
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Even most of "CSI: Miami" is filmed in the South Bay (Manhattan, Hermosa and Redondo Beaches).
Jean is offline  
Nov 12th, 2007, 12:17 PM
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Thanks to all

MLGB a special thankyou.

It is very difficult to plan a trip to somewhere you know about but in reality know nothing of in terms of the basics and surely that what these forums are all about.

The things i wanted to do when i set out on this trip was:

"SEE vegas,grand canyon, NY city, Niagara Falls "

All the above do not seem to be "must do" for most Americans.

I do not want to and could not drive a car and see what i would like to visit within the USA.

I have since discovered that your internal flights are cheap and plentiful.

BUT i really do want to travel the west coast by train and seem more of you country, all be it through a glass window. Be able to walk around ,read ,relax,take an overnight sleeper, have another glass of wine, and still arrive hopefully refreshed when i get to my destination.
The thought of being teleported between airports seems to me like you could be in any state / country /continent.

Enough of me rambling on and i do thank you all for your suggestion.
Tauntony is offline  
Nov 12th, 2007, 02:08 PM
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train is fine. just remember that there is often only one train per day and they're often very late. you don't need a car in Vegas, NY, and SF, so those cities would be best for you. and you can get an organized tour to take you to the Grand Canyon from Vegas. you can take the train and then a shuttle to Niagra Falls. It's about 7-8 hrs from NYC. LA and San Diego are hard to see without a car. If you're ok with bus rides of about an hour to get to some sites, then you'll be ok. But I'd concentrate on spending more time in places where you don't need a car, i.e. NY, DC, Boston, SF. You can also get off the train in Santa Barbara on the way from LA to SF.
smartcookie is offline  
Nov 18th, 2007, 07:16 AM
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It sounds to me that you want to do a lot more planning before you finalize anything. IMO, it is very hard to see the western US by train. You will be so much happier and much more efficient if you rent a car. (Skip the wine at lunch and have an extra glass at dinner.)

I would definitely rethink the 7 days in Vegas. Go for a night or 2, stay at the Bellagio, walk the Strip and then LEAVE! Instead, consider working in some of our national parks: Grand Teton/Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Bryce/Moab/Canyonlands, Yosemite. For me, the beauty of America is its national parks. You could chose a few, and work them into your itinerary. Very doable while exploring Seattle, San Francisco, LA, Vegas.

Three days in LA is good. If you have a car, you can see a lot more: day trips down to Orange County, maybe a night in San Diego if time permits. I think you will be very frustrated trying to see this area by bus and/or train. It's just not that kind of a city.

Chicago is one of my most favorite cities, but it is a little off your path. It has incredible museums, but you can see plenty of museums in other cities. I think it would be more important to see Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Washington DC. However, the good thing about Chicago is that you can fly to/from there very quickly so you might have time.

In fact, you could go LA to Chicago, then Chicago to Buffalo, rent a car and drive to Niagara Falls. You will love Niagara Falls. But you must see it from the Canadian side. Don't bother with the NY side. Most of the major hotels have excellent views right on the falls.

From Niagara (Buffalo airport), fly to Washington DC (3 days), train to Philadelphia (2 nights), train to NYC (3 days), train to Boston (3 nights). Add a night or 2 in the Cape Cod area if possible (Nantucket is my favorite). Then back to the UK.

When you come back to the US, focus on the South: especially Virginia (Richmond area), Florida, and Texas (San Antonio/Hill Country.

3 days Vancouver
2 days Seattle
3 days San Francisco
2 days Vegas
5 days misc National Parks (not necessarily in this order)
3 days LA/San Diego
2 days Chicago (optional)
2 day Niagara Falls
3 days Washington DC
2 days Philadelphia
3 days NYC
3 days Boston
2 days Cape Cod/Nantucket (optional)

Hope you have a great time!
cox2 is offline  
Nov 18th, 2007, 08:57 AM
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Cox2 gives you a do-able itinerary, and I definitely agree with less time in Vegas and the need for a car in California. But, still, it's a busy itinerary when you consider the travel days, and the amount of packing, unpacking, checking in and out of hotels, going to airports, etc. I'd still narrow it down and skip a couple of cities myself.
Nov 18th, 2007, 09:07 AM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 2,481
What's the attraction to Las Vegas?
The shows? The gambling?
It's really not a very exciting place.
L84SKY is offline  

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