Suggestions for Intro Trip to States

Old May 22nd, 2004, 10:37 PM
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Suggestions for Intro Trip to States

All - I need help on this one! I'm bringing my friend to the States for his first trip in July and August. Grand total we have about 6 weeks. He has lived and traveled all over the world...except the States. I have no idea where to start though! He says he's up for anything.

What would your top 3 recommendations be for an innaugral trip to the States?

Thanks for the suggestions!
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Old May 22nd, 2004, 11:01 PM
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My top 3 cities to visit would be New York, Chicago, and LA.
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Old May 22nd, 2004, 11:09 PM
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New York, Boston and San Francisco are the three cities. You could also spend about a week and a half in each place and add Chicago.

Don't mess with LA on a first visit, it could rub him the wrong way.
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Old May 22nd, 2004, 11:35 PM
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I have European friends who are more impressed by our national parks than by cities. A Japanese friend was awed by the vast areas without people, and where it can be totally dark at night.
I think a trip to the west would be important - The terra cota colored desert around Phoenix can be awe inspiring. The Grand Canyon; Monument Valley; Mesa Verde to see the Cliff dwellings; the rocky mountains of Colorado; Glacier National Park; Mt. Rainier; Yellowstone with the geothermic features; the Oregon coast. I could go on and on. I would not stick to the cities. What does your friend want to see?
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Old May 22nd, 2004, 11:40 PM
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First decide if he is REALLY up for anything. Is he a city or country person? How active? What does he LOVE to do? I would start in New York where it will probably a bit more comfortable weather wise in the beginning of July than in August. If you are only going to 3 places/regions and will be flying you can easily spend a week in NY and also travel out of the city if you'd like. How much time do you think he'll want to spend in each place? How will you travel (driving? flying?) I would then choose Wyoming or Montana (maybe a trip between Glacier National Park and Yellowstone and Grand Teton). From there you can fly to San Francisco (where you then have the choice of travelling down the coast to LA, day trips north of San Francisco, or continuing up the coast toward Oregon
Have fun!
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Old May 23rd, 2004, 02:12 AM
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To get a picture of US, I think you have to see some older history (east coast cities), some sense of business/industry, and see something reflective of our size and natural wonders.

Being biased (this is where I live) I would start in Boston and then head to New York and Washington - perhaps 4 days plus travel time in each. That will give a sense of early history, government, industry.

From there, it gets more individual as to interests. After 3 cities, I would find a few days to enjoy a lake, ocean beach, in northeast. (Now you have used 2 1/2 - 3 weeks)

The end of the trip should be in California - perhaps San Francisco and San Diego. Very different types of cities, climate, people.

For the middle of the trip, pick some natural wonder in a part of the country that gives some sense to our vast size (something visitors from Europe always comment on to me - but I am not sure from where you are coming).
You could pick Grand Canyon, Yellowstone - or any number of National Parks.

I am hoping and assuming you will be flying around US - if by some chance it is a driving trip, I would give different answers. I would fly into Boston, take train to New York, Washington (although very hot in July/Aug). Then fly to reasonable place to see some National Park(s). You would likely need a rental car in this area - distances are vast. Fly to San Diego, drive up to San Francisco (or another flight) and then fly home.
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Old May 23rd, 2004, 02:47 AM
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Agree that Gail's idea makes a lot of sense if your friend is really up for anything.

I would try to get more info though as to what image he/she has of the US - everyone has images in their mind of other places and yuo don;t want to miss out on key expectations.
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Old May 23rd, 2004, 04:00 AM
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For a first trip in July, I would recommend splitting it into two parts: cities and natural wonders. Since it's summer, you must avoid the South, so you'll have to choose places in the north. Even those can be quite muggy in August, so be prepared.

New York and Washington are the northern cities that are the best intro to America. New York is a great city in its own right, and Washington has a wonderful collection of museums (almost all completely free) and monuments.

*IF* your friend is interested in American history, I'll add Boston and Philadelphia to the mix.

The best natural area for July and August (since all of them will be crowded) would probably be Yellowstone. If you fly to that area and then rent a car (the only way to get around), you can also see Glacier NP and Rocky Mountain NP.

This will make a pretty good introduction, and allow your friend to know what he wants on his next trip.
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Old May 23rd, 2004, 04:29 AM
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As a resident of the Midwest, I would hope you wouldn't ignore this area of our country. There are features about the country's center that you will not find on either coast. Don't skip the heartland of this great country!

Chicago? Certainly. But what about the Ozarks. And don't forget that the Mississippi River is in the running for top tourist attractions (go figure).

We have German and Italian friends who have recently bought property in the US and will make moves here in the future. They did not settle on the east or the west coasts. Their choices were Colorado and Kansas!
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Old May 23rd, 2004, 05:47 AM
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Sorry, cannot list just 3. As mentioned repeatedly above, an inaugural trip to the United States should include both cities and natural wonders.
Of course: NYC (full week), Washington DC (4-6 days), and San Francisco (4-6 days). SF is one of a kind city that must be seen and the cool weather will a nice break. Hopping over to SF will put you closer to some of the most beatiful ares in the country (i.e. the Southwest). The areas outside Pheonix and Tuscon will be very hot but are still must see - pack shorts/sandals and just do it. Then head to Grand Canyon for more natural beauty and cool temperatures. Further north, Washington State and Oregon are also very nice and you can get a cheap flight to Alaska from there if time permits.
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Old May 23rd, 2004, 06:41 AM
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I believe New York City and Washington, DC are musts for first time visitors to the USA and that the Southwestern part of the country is the most exotic to them--including SF, LA, Vegas, and the scenic wonders of CA, NV, AZ, and NM.

Of course, I would insist on showing a visitor the splendors of WA and OR--my stomping grounds.
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Old May 23rd, 2004, 07:20 AM
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After a lot of travel, I'm convinced that the USA's most impressive assets for visitors are our National Parks. We have a few great cities, but apart from Chicago, I don't really see them as particularly unique compared to cities in Europe. Therefore, my top 3 list would include Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Yosemite NPs. I'd really hate to limit myself to that list, however.

If money isn't an object, I'd also wonder about flying to Alaska or Hawaii for one of those 6 weeks. If I were to choose cities, I'd choose Chicago for its unique architecture, as well as good museums, and a nice local culture. I think San Diego gives a good feel for California without being so sprawling as LA. Maybe NYC to start with, especially if he's coming from Europe.
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Old May 23rd, 2004, 07:42 AM
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What a glorious prospect. Hey, I wish I could spend six weeks touring the best of what we have to offer!
On the European forum one of the Italy expects says it takes at least six weeks to explore the best of that country. Since the US is much larger, it would probably take six months!
If I was hosting someone from overseas for six weeks in the summer, I'd start with New York and Washington (and maybe Boston). From there, I'd fly to Chicago for a few days and then on to the Rocky Mountain area--Colorado, Wyoming and Montana (hitting the glorious natural wonders in those states). Then, it's on to the southwest for the Grand Canyon and Sante Fe and finally to California for stops in Yosemite and San Francisco.
If it was any other time of the year, Charleston, Savannah and New Orleans would be included. But in the summer, forget it!
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Old May 23rd, 2004, 07:50 AM
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Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, and the Cape will be ideal for a first visit to the U.S. Don't forget Boston. New York, and DC are great fun, and most of our European friends fall in love with Florida, and anything Disney ...
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Old May 23rd, 2004, 08:56 AM
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Wow guys! Thanks for all the great suggestions! I guess I should clarify a bit. He's South African, and definitely serious when he says he's up for anything. I am currently living in Madagascar, but will do a week at my home in Ohio (not part of the 6 weeks). After the six weeks I'll be in DC for 9 months and he will see that before heading back too, so DC will also not be part of the 6 weeks.

I too am overwhelmed at the prospect of 6 weeks of leave! But after being on a remote isolated island in the middle of the Indian Ocean for 2 years I think I'm more than ready for it!
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Old May 23rd, 2004, 10:28 AM
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Don't forget to get him a hot dog at an all-American baseball game somewhere in your travels.
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Old May 23rd, 2004, 05:47 PM
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Here's another thought. To fully grasp the size and variety of the country, pop around by plane from , say NY to Chicago, but then drive at least a week--that could get you through Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona to California--or through Colorado and Utah, picking up some national parks along the way. Stop at small towns. Eat at county fairs and church potluck dinners. Go to local softball games. Take the blue highways at least part of the time. Cities, national parks AND small town

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Old May 24th, 2004, 09:52 AM
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How exciting!

I can not stick with three so I will focus on USA experiences that would be on my short goes:

Wine Tasting, A variety of indoor and Outdoor sporting events featuring male and female competitors, a ballet, symphony, concert and a variety of museums and exhibts since he will be in WA DC for 9 months where he will have numerous opportunities to continue these cultural activities should he wish.

You should shop in NYC without any limits...for everything!

I would add visits to our "top" chefs, the south, the midwest, the Vineyard, the Hamptons and a few "po-dunk" destinations...We would volunteer at least once in a homeless shelter and even though school is out we would visit a few colleges and universities and the like.

Our USA history is truly diverse and while he is in DC he will get that diversity from the time spent there. He will also have his weekends to go to Philadelphia and other places to seek out his own historical truths. Please explain that in the USA we generally have to wait a year before we get one or two weeks vacation that most employers perfer we take in half day increments...just joking!(kinda)

He should go to the,cars, foot etc. Of course visit our national parks and a sample of other landmarks.

Be sure he tries authenic BBQ and of course a clambake will demonstrate further our country's diversity.

I recommend you get Frommers and Fodors USA guides. Go by the library if you do not want to buy them.

Remember the Olympics are in August and please explain to him that there is "never" any ideal media coverage of the events so, he can suffer like the rest of us who will be at the mercy of the various media options.

Happy Planning,
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Old May 24th, 2004, 10:06 AM
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I'd say start with NY and plan at least a week. That'll give you plenty of time to see most of the major sites and enjoy some of the more interesting things during the summer in NY, like the Monday movies in Bryant Park, Mid-Summer nights swing at Lincoln Center, and Shakespeare in the Park.

Washington is interesting for a visit of a few days as is Chicago and New Orleans. (Though the latter will be brutally hot in the Summer.)

Would definately suggest some time in the Southwest (Grand Canyon, Colorado, etc.) simply because the geography is so vastly different than Europe (which I'm assuming you are from.)

Las Vegas is an interesting place to visit for a few days. You might consider a trip to LA and then either a drive or train up the coast to San Francisco.

The issue with a itinerary that has so many possibilities is the cost of air travel. Given that you have 6 weeks, you might consider using the Amtrak system for as much of the itinerary as possible.
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Old May 24th, 2004, 10:25 AM
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I love showing overseas visitors the US and would suggest the following.

You have six weeks. Stay on the ground.

Start not in NYC but in Washington DC. In July it will be hot as Madagascar, but the sense of "where you are" is so strong in DC that a few days there will help orient you and your pal to the American scene.

Then take the train up to New York for another few days. You won't be able to see everything the metropolis has to offer, but nobody can, even in a lifetime.

Train again to Boston for another couple of days. When you're ready to leave, rent a car and explore the New England coast for a day or two, then head west on Interstate 90. This is the great northern tier transcontinental highway, and it is a magical voyage for foreign visitors.

I-90 goes to Chicago, which is a must-see destination for any visitor. I've taken several friends from overseas to Chicago and they unanimously proclaim it to be one of their favorite stops in the US. Architecture, food, the lake... just the atmosphere is compelling.

Then continue west on I-90, across the midwest, the Mississippi, and on toward the Great Plains. Stop in South Dakota to see things like the Corn Palace in Mitchell, the Missouri River overlook just off the highway, Badlands National Park, Deadwood and Mt. Rushmore in the Black Hills, then on toward the Rockies.

Crossing the continent on road takes as little as five days or as many as you want, but invariably the visitors I've hosted thought the sense of space and endless horizons of the Great Plains, transitioning into the West, was a marvelous experience. How else can you come to grips with the history and culture of the US unless you get a feel for the scale and the diversity of the place, neither of which you can see from an airplane window.

Stop in Sheridan Wyoming, a marvelous little "old west" town, then see the Little Big Horn battlefield in Eastern Montana. Divert south from Bozeman to Yellowstone National Park for a couple of days.

Then continue west on I-90 across the rest of the Rockies, the wheatfields of eastern Washington, the Cascade mountains, and on to Seattle. By this time the heat and humidity of the East and the Midwest will have been left behind.

Spend a couple of days in Seattle, then head south on US 101 toward California, stopping on the Oregon coastline, the Redwoods on the north coast of California, and on to San Francisco. A couple of days there, then continue down the coast to Santa Barbara and Los Angeles. More days, then across the desert to Las Vegas, because everyone should go there once. Note in August the heat will be bordering the dangerous, but the casinos are all highly air conditioned.

Then south again toward Phoenix, but divert to the Grand Canyon for a day. Then visit Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly before heading to either Phoenix or back to Los Angeles, where you drop the car and fly home.

Note I haven't included the deep south or Texas in this itinerary. Do that part of the country some time other than mid-summer.

This is all doable in six weeks, believe it or not, provided you don't linger too long in the big cities. The driving is easy and fast, the roads excellent, and with two of you you can share driving duties easily. The one-way car rental will probably entail a drop fee, but compared to 2 people buying point-to-point air tickets (plus taxis, local rental cars, etc.) for the same period of time I know it will be much cheaper to drive, plus you'll see the real country rather than the look-alike country presented by airports.

If this is an inaugural trip, use the up-close mode to see where you'd like to return to the next time.

Good luck.
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