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Travel Advice to USA really appreciated

Old May 7th, 2006, 12:58 AM
  #1  
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Travel Advice to USA really appreciated

Hi there,

I am an Aussie that will be travelling to the US/Canada for the first time this October and would really appreciate some advice. I will have approximately 4 weeks (I wish I had more!)to spend. After reading through books and travel guides on the US, I am still finding it so difficult to limit the places to visit.

I intend on flying within the continent as I have a maximum of 5 stop-overs as part of the airline package. If time would permit I wouldn't mind some driving as well.... Attractions of a 'big city' appeal to me, however I also like great scenic sights as well. Being a bit of a foodie, restuarants and markets appeal too.

I have tried sketching how it might pan out. Do you have any other suggestions? I am tying to balance 'rushing the trip' and leaving out great places:

Canada (6 nights in Montreal and Quebec) to Boston (3 nights), then to New York/New York City (8 nights), Chicago (3 nights), Las Vagas (2 nights), San Fransisco (7 nights), LA (out of time!), Hawai (again out of time!)

Niagra falls would be a must! I would like to have included Seattle too(it looks great).How would you do it. Cheers!


Ben_Travelling is offline  
Old May 7th, 2006, 02:01 AM
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Here's a few quick thoughts you may want to consider. I am from the UK so don't have the detailed know;edge some more local posters will have but I have been to all the places you mention except Quebec City and Hawaii.

- if you want to see Niagara falls, Toronto is the best starting point so maybe start in Toronto (and day trip to Niagara Falls) and then go to Montreal and Quebec City.

- Boston/NYC and Washington are three close by and great east coast cities. I'd take a few nights of NYC and fit in DC if possible.

- you mention you like "scenic sights" - do you mean places like the Grand Canyon, Yosemite etc? If so, you haven't included any of these.

- how about hiring a car for the Las Vegas/California part of the trip? Eg hire a car in Las Vegas and drive up to San Francisco via Death Valley and Yosemite.

- I wouldn't stay as much as 7 nights in San Francisco if there are other places you are eager to see so you could drive down the Pacific Highway and finish in LA (my least favourite city on your list by a long way).

Sounds like you have a great trip planned, hope you have a great time.
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Old May 7th, 2006, 02:33 AM
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WheretoTravel, thanks for your advice. I like the idea of driving between Las Vagas and San Fransisco and also along the Pacific Highway to LA. Regards Ben
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Old May 7th, 2006, 03:11 AM
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I'll give this a try. Fly to Toronto (2 nights). Take bus, car, train, or car to Niagara Falls - about 2 hours travel time. Spend 2 nights there (since you say it is a must).

Fly to New York City. Spend 4-5 nights there. Take train to Washington, DC. Spend 3 nights there. (Skip Boston, although it is where I live and it makes me sad to leave it off list).

Fly to someplace in the South - either Florida if you want to spend some time at the beach, or Savannah, Georgia or Charleston, South Carolina if you want to see some historic South. Spend 3-4 nights.

At this point by my count you have used up 2 weeks and 2 stop-overs (not counting origination in Toronto)

Then fly to Las Vegas. Spend 1-2 nights there, primarily as a starting point to Grand Canyon. Rent car and drive to Grand Canyon, possibly stopping off at Zion or Bryce National Parks. This will take an additional 3 nights. Return to Las Vegas and spend one night.

Fly to California - San Diego or Los Angeles. Spend a few days and then rent a car and drive as far north as you have time for - stopping along the way. You could certainly make it to San Francisco, and this would be a good point from which to return home. This should take the remainder of you 7-9 days you have left. There are both city things and natural wonder things along this route.

I have tried to give you a balance of big city/smaller cities, man-made and nature, various geographies - while not having you spend one night in 28 different places. You could certainly substitute another national park for Grand Canyon - Yellowstone in Wyoming, Yosemite in California. You also might be able to squeeze in Seattle and then go up to Vancouver if I did not give you enough Canada. Same for Montreal/Quebec - could fit them in around Toronto. (The reason I picked Toronto is it has quite a few international flights in and is closest to Niagara Falls.)

Have a good trip - let us know what you decide.
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Old May 7th, 2006, 04:08 AM
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Thanks Gail - fantastic response! I am flicking though all of my travel books now looking at your suggestions, destinations etc. Flying to the South is a new idea - so thanks Cheers Ben
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Old May 7th, 2006, 04:46 AM
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I think Gail has given you a great plan. I would consider the stop in the South to be maybe Ashville if you like mountains because it will be the change of seasons and be that is beautiful at that time of year. Hasve reservations here before you go. It is a busy time of year. You would need a car here. If you like hiking it is a great place to stop.

One thing to remember is that you can always come back and do the things you missed. Also all that flying takes time -- close to one day each time -- that you lose out of your schedule.

Boston, New York and Washington are all realatively close and you can train from one to the other if you wish.
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Old May 7th, 2006, 06:13 AM
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Another thought is to fly Southwest Airlines between Vegas and SF. They are like Ryanair in Europe; cheap flights and lot of them!
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Old May 7th, 2006, 06:18 AM
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You don't need like 8 days in NYC or 7 days in SF. Cut them down if you want to see more cities.

If you want to see an area more in-depth, don't do the whole continental. Concentrate on say, the East Coast and Chicago only.

I'd skip Hawaii too. You can visit there as a seperate trip from Australia some other time.
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Old May 7th, 2006, 06:59 AM
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I agree with rkkwan wholeheartedly - 8 days in NYC and 7 in SF are too much for the kind of trip you plan. Cut NYC to 2-3, and take the train to DC for 2 days.

Also, from Vegas, you can drive to the Grand Canyon, but you can also drive to L.A., and then drive up to SF. I know that's a lot of driving, but some very interesting geography along the way.

As for a Southern city, I'd choose Charleston or Savannah, but for only a couple of days.
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Old May 7th, 2006, 08:18 AM
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Every city you mention has lots of
stuff to do...you are cramming too
much in too small a time period in
too large a country. Consider renting
the movie "If it's Tuesday, This Must
Be Belgium."
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Old May 7th, 2006, 08:39 AM
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You Aussies sure like to travel. In my travels to Europe I think I met every Aussie alive! A very good trait of Aussies.

Anyway, I have one overall comment about your itinerary but I do not have any specific places to mention. Your travels seem overly oriented to large cities and you may miss a lot of great experiences if you do not do a few "road trips" by car and see the other side of America. I suggest renting a car and just aim the thing through the country side for a few days with no itinerary and experience the unexpected.

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Old May 7th, 2006, 08:47 AM
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I also really like Gail's itinerary. I would also skip Boston and spend more time in CA going between the coasts. It is so beautiful and you will miss a lot by just visiting the cities.
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Old May 7th, 2006, 08:51 AM
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Whatever you decide, Chicago is a must. The most beautiful, exciting large US city. No other city comes close in architecture. Great multi-ethnic food choices as well as the best steakhouses in the entire country!

Have a wonderful trip!
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Old May 7th, 2006, 08:57 AM
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Also recommend Gail's itinerary above, with one modification. Can you stop over in Hawaii on the way home to rest up and experience an environment different from the mainland?

I'm headed to Australia for the first time in October, also for about four weeks and am experiencing the same itinerary challenges as you are, only in reverse!
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Old May 7th, 2006, 09:14 AM
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I would leave Hawaii off this trip - it's the closest to you and you'll have lots more opoortuinities to get there.

Agree to start in Toronto if you must see Niagara Falls (this is one of the places I don;t get - but know many peeople like).

I don't know how your air pass works - but if possible I would do some sections on the ground and just fly the longer segments.

I would not skip Boston (how can anyone miss the Freedom Trail and Lexington/ Concord) and agree with adding Washington. Some of this time can come from NYC (5 days is enough for a good taste) and I would do this section and down somewhere further south (Charleston or Savannah) while seeing the homes of Wahington (Mount Vernon) and Jefferson (Monticello) on the way. Would do this part by car.

I would limit Las Vegas to 1 day plus Grand Canyon and also reduce SF - unless you're using a couple of those days to do Yosemite. Missing LA is no big deal - San Diego is much more pleasant if you want to see further south in CA.
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Old May 7th, 2006, 09:35 AM
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I agree with nytraveler on the Niagara Falls part. It is kind of the same as going to EuroDisney on a trip to France.

Niagara Falls could very well be the worst tourist trap experience you could have in all of North America. You could end up forced into a Honey Moon Suite at a hotel chain!
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Old May 7th, 2006, 09:43 AM
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Some great stuff: Love Montreal! I would skip Los Angeles, but maybe the US National Parks if you're outdoors' fans - Big Bend is high on my list - been there twice and the adjacent TX state parks are super and inexpensive in Oct.
M (SMdA, Gto.)
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Old May 7th, 2006, 09:48 AM
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I like the outline of your original post beter, with the slight modification of shaving at least 2 days off both NYC and San Francisco, adding them to seeing a bit more of the California coast or fit in the Grand Canyon somehow?

I say keep Niagra Falls, how anyone can call it "disney-esque" I'm not sure, plus add the Grand Canyon if you can. Definitely make Las Vegas part a "road trip" section of your itinerary, very interesting driving thru the desert a bit.

I'm not a big fan of the southern states myself so would not suggest that addition as others have (sorry and no offense meant).

I live in Seattle and you're right it is great but that addition would stretch you too thin IMO.
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Old May 7th, 2006, 10:46 AM
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Niagara Falls is better on the Canadian side of the border. I like Quebec City better than Montreal, and I agree with a southern leg and prefer Charleston to Savannah. It's a really beautiful old-south city with plantations with quite old landscape gardens to visit and gorgeous old bayside houses.

I agree with adding Chicago for a taste of the midwest. To add to your dilemna, from there you could get a cheap Southwest flight to Kentucky for horse farms and Mammoth Cave National Park.

Can't made it a six-week trip, huh? Hawaii is great, but maybe you have already been to Tahiti or Fiji.
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Old May 7th, 2006, 01:43 PM
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How can you be a bit of a foodie and not go to New Orleans? Totally different than the rest of the United States. Beats Chicago hands down as a different town though Chicago is great. I'd also go to New Orleans over DC or Boston and LA. October is the perfect month to be there. It's started to cool down and it's the best eating town in the US. Through two or three days in New Orleans into your itinerary
Then hop on Southwest to Austin and catch some laid back Texas vibe and go hike and explore the hill country. It'd be a totally different experience than those already suggested.

Maybe you need to start planning your 2nd trip to the states?
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