Travel Advice to USA really appreciated

Old May 7th, 2006, 01:58 PM
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beats Chicago hands down????

sorry, not even close.....
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Old May 7th, 2006, 02:02 PM
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Actually your original plan looks good. Consider Niagra Falls as a day trip from Toronto. You can easily see the falls in 1/2 day. If you want more time there, one night is more than enough.

Quebec city is NOT a day trip from Montreal. Consider one night there maybe in the middle of your time in that area (3 nights in Montreal, 1 night in Quebec City and final 2 nights in Montreal - or something like that).

Don't let anyone talk you into cutting any of your 7 days from SF (you'll see once you get there!).

Yes, New Orleans is a food destination but your time s limited. Montreal and SF are also food havens on par with New Orleans. LA, Boston and Chicago are close behind.

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Old May 7th, 2006, 02:05 PM
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not to use up your stopovers, i would fly to las vegas on a separate 3 day 2 night plus air tour, very cheaply from ANY city. this will give you hotel and airfare, and not waste your important stopovers.

from west coast would seem most logical, or do from east or center, and forfeit the return as you move westerly.

also, learn
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the winning bids posted outside major cities are fabulous, too.

i would definitely add D.C as mentioned as the amount of things to do and see are numerous and most of them FREE.

i would stay outside S.F in san rafael or so,(much cheaper than downtown), take the ferry to town, and do day trips in the area.
napa valley, stinson beach, etc.

you must decide if you are going to the grand canyon.

i think the west coast of canada is much more enticing than the east, as far as scenery and natural beauty goes.

vancouver, whistler.. the fjord on way up to whistler..buchardt gardens on v. island.

too much to see! hard decisions. but aren't you lucky to have to make them!

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Old May 7th, 2006, 02:12 PM
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funny, but New Orleans is not even on the list:
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Old May 7th, 2006, 02:31 PM
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Ben, I posted on your other thread without realizing this one was here. You're getting great feedback here from folks trying to help. It's just such a daunting task of trying to determine which would be best because they are all such wonderful suggestions!

Correct me if I'm wrong but I thought that your tickets are for 5 stop-overs, which means that you have to depart from the same airport where you arrive in a particular city. If that is the case, then I would suggest this:

I first think it's important that you put San Francisco at the top of the agenda and not the bottom. The reason is jetlag. You don't want to start out totally exhausted at the beginning of your travels. While you are in San Francisco, you might even want to take a road trip up into wine country (Napa/Sonoma). Being a bit of a foodie, I would think you'd appreciate a side trip like that. A total of 3-4 days would be all you need.

Another suggestion: Yosemite National Park is a little more than 190 miles from San Francisco and, even if you didn't want to drive that, there are tours that go out there from SF for day excursions. There are tours that include the giant sequoias as well.

In Canada, fly into Montreal - and use it as your "base of operations". The train to/from Quebec is 3 hrs ea way. The train to/from Toronto is 5 hrs ea way. Take the latest (or earliest) train to the destination so as to not use up any "prime time" when you can be enjoying the sights.

In the US, fly into NYC. Again use this as your "base of operations". As mentioned before, the train to/from Boston is 4-4.5 hrs ea way. The train to/from DC is 3-3.5 hrs ea way.

That way, you've only used up 2 of your 5 stop-overs but have the possibility of seeing 6 cities--unless the point of entry into the US at San Francisco (?) is considered a stop-over.

IMHO, 3 days in NYC would be sufficient for that city. However, if you were going to Boston, add 2 more days and DC 2 or 3 days (depending if you go on to Mt. Vernon).

I do think that seeing Savannah and/or Charleston would be a wonderful thing to do. (Use the extra days you saved on NYC in the South.) By the way, these cities are only a couple of hours driving time apart, and that could be a good time to do a road trip. You could fly into Charleston for 3 nights (4 days)--explore Charleston one of the days, take a road trip down to Savannah one of the days and see the plantations out on Ashley River Road on another of the days.

Then if you wanted to fly to Chicago and visit for 3 days, we'd be happy to have you here.

Then on to Las Vegas - and I do hope you see the Grand Canyon, as well. Some people take a tour and include Hoover Dam in the mix, but I think you should spend as much time as you possibly can at the Grand Canyon. Figure 3 days there.

Total DAYS: 3-4 (SF); 6-7 (Canada); 3 NYC; 2 Boston; 2-3 DC; 3 Charleston/Savannah; 2-3 Chicago; 3 LV-GC; 1 SF = 25-29 (minimum to maximum)

Hope these suggestions are of merit. Good luck in your planning.
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Old May 7th, 2006, 02:38 PM
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Dear Ben,

What part of Australia are you from? That might influence a bit of what you look for when traveling to the US and Canada. That is, are you looking for something similar or completely different?

For instance, you might find that San Francisco "feels" a bit like Sydney (yes, they are each absolutely unique, but there is a feel). However, I wouldn't cross SF off my personal list, I love San Francisco and think you would find quite a bit of what you are saying you like...big city, scenic vistas, and great food. Even with seven nights there, you could use it as a base into Napa and Sonoma and get some great food and wine....French Laundry, Grestone, Copia, plus the wineries. The person who suggested driving down to LA I think had a great idea, and an earlier thread addressed that if you want to drive 101 (or is it 1?) along the coast between the two cities, this is the way to go south from SF to LA as you can see the sights more easily, pull off onto the scenic turnouts more easily and so on.

I too would think to start in Toronto and day trip to Niagra Falls, but I don't know that I would even spend a night there. I'd go down, have a meal, do the maid of the mist, and go on back. Canada side is more scenic.

As said before, NYC, Boston, and Washington DC are all close and I would personally base in NYC and train to them. You might include a trip to Philadelphia in there as that is also a great city, with a lot of US history, great food, and I think a whole different feel than the others.

Love Chicago too, but you are getting an awful lot of cities in there. Do try to get a taste of the south, (different of course from the southwest) and consider doing a driving trip to get there, maybe travel the Great Smokey Mtns highway? I'm having a brain hiccup and can't remember the name of that, can someone help here?

I'm not crazy about Vegas myself, although it is fun for one night, and again there was a good idea there to rent a car and go from there to the Grand Canyon.

I love going to a lot of the National Parks and great outdoors, but you have so much that is unique about Australia that perhaps this does not interest you as much? There are some cool places to see, Grand Canyon mentioned as one, the entire STate of Colorado as another The parks in Utah, Big Bend in Texas, the list goes on!

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Old May 7th, 2006, 04:11 PM
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You might want to think about the temperatures in October. Some of the more northern areas you mention are getting to be more than a little chilly, maybe even some snow???? while the South will probably be very nice and still warm. Trying to go from one area to the other is going to require some thought as to clothing.

The Low Country area of Charleston, SC and Savannah, Ga. would provide a very good contrast to the other areas that you are interested in.
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Old May 7th, 2006, 04:48 PM
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Sorry - none of these places are the North Pole - and weather in many of them is beautiful in October - that's why there are so many thousnds of people "leaf-peeping" and the roads are mobbed every weekend. Also the reason I suggested this part of the trip might be done by car rather than fly - if the flight pass allows.

Frankly I find 50's/low 60's much more comfortable than 85 and humid.
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Old May 8th, 2006, 04:05 AM
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To all of you who have responded so far - thankyou so much. You have all posted so many brilliant tips and suggestions! I am really learning a lot from your responses. Some ieas are coming across strongly including spending less time in NY, driving along the West Coast, visiting the Grand Canyon, seeing Niagra Falls from Torronto side, and that Chicago is a fantastic place - I can see my final plan reflecting these.

Also, there are some suggestions that are now looking extremely likely too - going South to Savannah and Charleston, and visiting Washington DC from NY.

Please keep any suggesions coming, I am reading and looking at ALL of them!


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Old May 8th, 2006, 05:55 AM
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I'm worn out just reading some of these itineray ideas Seriously, I realize you want to see as much as you can, but "seeing" it and "visiting" it are two different things. Like Australia, the US (and Canada) are huge and if you want to actually visit a place and remember what you saw you may want to cut out a few places.

If I were you I'd start my trip on the west coast, either SF or LA. Jetlag is going to be horrible and you will lose some time just due to that I think. When we travel abroad (going to Europe from West coast of U.S.) we never plan much for the first day simply because of jetlag. I would not take off driving on my first day here either, that could be suicidal with jetlag

Not knowing if you are young or old, or someplace in between) makes a difference too. Younger people might have more stamina (might) for being on the go day and night.

Like most have said I'd cut down on the 8 nights in NYC and perhaps add 2 in Washington DC. Montreal & Quebec are both lovely but perhaps Toronto would be better choice as it is closer to Niagara Falls (the falls can be a day trip, it's not that far, and it is really very touristy).

You will be much better off from my point of view seeing more of the natural wonders of the U.S., i.e. Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone but that is just my thought.

Again, while you want to see alot and 4 weeks sounds like alot of time a good portion of it will be getting to and from airports, standing around in security lines at a/p, getting in and out of cities or to car rental offices at the a/p. Keep that in mind when planning. Most a/p's want you there 2 hrs ahead of flight time and if you are returning a car that adds to your time too.

I don't want to discourage you from seeing the U.S. by any means, but I'd like for you to actually see what you are seeing so maybe cutting back on a place or two would make sense. I know if I visited Australia I'd never be able to visit the entire country in 4 weeks.

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Old May 8th, 2006, 06:21 AM
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I agree starting on the West Coast would be a better option. San Francisco is a great city. I would think 4 days would be plenty of time to get over travel lag and still see the high points of the city.
I would go to Yosemite from there and continue driving to Vegas.
From Vegas, I would try to see the Grand Canyon. I would fly from Vegas to the East. Start in Toronto and see the falls. You can drive to Chicago from there. (I am assuming that.)Or you can drive to Montreal and Quebec and fly from there down to Boston. I would drive down to NY and see the fall foliage along the way. Maybe stop in some seaport towns along the way. I would spend 4 nights in NYC. You can take the train from there to Washington where the museums are all free and really wonderful. You can fly out of Washington or go back up to NY. Fly to San Diego and spend a couple of days there to relax before you fly back to Austrailia. HAve a great trip!!
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Old May 8th, 2006, 11:18 AM
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One thing I forgot to mention was that you need to be careful about one-way car rentals. They normally add on a fee and it can be quite high, so always ask about that if you are renting in one city and returning in another.
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Old May 8th, 2006, 11:31 AM
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We filled out a ballot for a GeoHoliday promotion to win a Mercedes Benz or $10,000 in May 2005. Then we received a call from GeoHolidays to come to a timeshare presentation. My husband and I thought "why not go, you never know what might happen". We were there for 90 minutes, had some refreshments then when we were leaving we won a gift for a 3 days 2 nights vacation to Quebec. We were very pleased however I said to my husband, "we likely won't win the car or the money because we already went to the presentation." But when we received a call at the end of March 2006 from a GeoHoliday representative that we had won the 2005 Mercedes Benz or $10,000 promotion, and that we should take our time to decide which one we wanted. Since we didn't want to take the car because it's a two year lease we preferred the $10,000. Although we called Geo Holiday back to tell them our decision, we still didn't believe it. My husband said to me: we will believe it when we have the check in our hands." Soon after we got another call from a Geo Holidays representative who invited us to their marketing office in downtown Toronto. We were very nervous and still couldn't believe that this was really happening to us. When we arrived they took our picture, congratulated us, and gave us the $10,000 check which we are already planning to use to vacation in Trinidad and Guyana this summer. After that when we left the GeoHolidays office I said my husband that "in all the time since we've been in Canada we never experienced such first-class treatment". We had such a great experience with GeoHoliday that we would like to share our story with everyone. Again, we would like to thank Geo Holiday for everything.


Zamir & Raihana Chadee
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Old May 8th, 2006, 12:20 PM
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Wow, this thread could go on forever....

I guess what's most important, is to understand what type of a traveller you are, Ben. It seems that you are predominantly looking for the big cities to visit and that's fine. I'd say that's a pretty good plan for your first trip here. IMO, your first sketch sounds pretty good. I might suggest a couple of revisions though.

1. Considering how much area you are trying to cover in a relatively short amount of time, I'd say 6 nts in Montreal/Quebec is too long. I would probably cut that in half and only choose one of the two cities. They are very different as Quebec is much more old world and Montreal is more of a cosmopolitan city, but they do have similarities too. You might consider bumping Quebec as Montreal has its old town part which will give you a similar feel. You can still walk along the cobblestone streets and eat in rustic French establishments. That way you could save time by just visiting Montreal, but get a feel of the old world too.

2. I would keep Boston for 3 nights - so much scenery and history and seafood to experience - but I would cut the New York portion. I absolutely ADORE New York City, but in the scheme of things, for your schedule, it seems a bit long. I do get the feeling that you would really enjoy your time there, so I wouldn't cut too much time off, maybe just a few days. Clip it to 5 nts and that should be plenty.

3. Having been many times to all the places on your list with the exception of Chicago, I feel I can't say much about that destination. For me personally, there's really been nothing to draw me there and I'm curious as to what you're looking for there. Like a couple of the previous posters suggested, I would probably fit south Florida into the itinerary over Chicago. Maybe Miami and some of the surrounding beach towns would be a nice change from the rest of your itinerary.

4. Regarding Las Vegas and San Francisco, I would keep the 9 nights, but do it a little differently. I would spend 2 or 3 nts in Las Vegas (1 night is defintely not enough. Plus you can do a day trip to the Grand Canyon and/or Hoover Dam. ) and then drive to the LA area. (It's about a 4 hr drive through the desert to get there.) You might want to experience the southern California coastal area for a couple of days and then drive north to San Francisco, stopping in the Monterey, Carmel area on the way. This drive is just beautiful!! You shouldn't miss it. I also agree with another poster that you would probably enjoy a trip to wine country while you are in the San Francisco area. Depending upon when in October you are there, you might make grape harvest time which can be awesome. You'll definitely enjoy it.

5. With all that said, I don't know what to say about Niagara Falls. Yes, it's quite a sight (been there once, and only once), but other than that, there's, in my opinion anyway, not much else there to see/do. I would be reluctant to give up the days required to go see that and only that. That's a choice, however, that you'll have to make. I would rather extend at any of the destinations you've already chosen, or even choose somewhere else instead to add, like Yellowstone or Yosemite National Parks. (October can be a great time after the big tourist season.) I think this would give you a nice change of pace from all the city destinations and give you a feel of the vastness and uniqueness of the United States.

Whatever you do, it'll be hard not to have a great time. ENJOY!!
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Old May 8th, 2006, 02:53 PM
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8 days in MYC and 7 days in SF are too much. If I were you, I'd do 2 days in NYC, then spend the balance touring New England. IMO, nothing says America like New England small towns. I can't even think of how you would fill 8 days in NYC (I'm sure there will be an onslaught of posts to counter my opinion though). Before I went to NYC I'd go to Boston, smaller, easier to manage, prettier, more historical, (again, I'm sure I'll get dissenting opinions). Don't cut Boston out!

Same with San Francisco, I think 2 days is enough, then spend the balace going north to wine country and south along the PCH to see the beaoutiful coastline.

NOw this is really going to get a reaction - I'd skip chicago altoether (ducking for cover), 3 big American cities are enough, do you really need to see 4? IMO, you need to get out of the cities a bit more.

Imagine going to Italy and only seeing Rome and Milan, without visiting Tuscany, the Amalfi coast, the countryside, see how much you would miss?

You mentioned you like "scenic sites". If you stick to the big cities, you won't see any natural beauty.

I implore you to see some of the Maine Coast, Cape Cod, Maybe Newport, maybe the adirondacks and the country north and south of S.F.

If you miss some of our charming small towns you'll be missing a lot, IMO, you miss the essence of the U.S.

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Old May 8th, 2006, 02:57 PM
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I want to ammend my original suggestion. I second the suggestion to visit Charleston or Savannah. The south is very different than the north, and those cities are beautiful. You really ought to get a taste of a Southern city.

I would definitely eliminate Chicago and replace it with one of the above mentioned (small) cities!
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Old May 8th, 2006, 03:45 PM
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Hi Ben, definitely you have a lot to think over! Everyone has such good suggestions, and North America has such a different feel from one area to the next - New England, Grand Canyon, NYC, DC, the Old South, California are each so quintessentially US, plus I'm sure a million places I've never even seen... So for what it's worth, here's my comments!

If you do need to fly out of the same city as where you arrive, I think exiledprincess has a good plan.

And I just wanted to mention that if you do drive the Pacific coast, keep in mind that you will be on the outside / cliffside of the roadway when heading south from SF to LA, and on the inside when heading up the other direction. Outside = more view; inside = higher comfort level on those s-curves! And to throw another wrinkle in your itinerary, there are some good campgrounds along that drive if you want to spend the night; I remember that Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park for one had boarding rooms in addition to the camp sites...

ENJOY your trip - maybe you'll write a trip report for us to drool over on your return? Best wishes, ggreen
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Old May 8th, 2006, 04:19 PM
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Hello Ben,
Good for you to be able to have such dilemmas. Here's a few ideas to prevent you from doing too much zig zagging. Unfortunately, I've left off Niagra - hope that's not a problem.

I'm going to try to give you some city, country and ocean and hopefully you'll be able to relax at some point.

* Fly into Quebec City rent car or much easier, use good public tranportation.

* Montreal (one of my favorites)- rent a car when your ready to leave

* drive thru Vermont - if you hit it right you'll see spectacular foliage scenery, many lakes, rivers and beautiful small New England towns, resturants etc.

* drive to Boston - ditch car - take ferry to Provincetown cape cod - good food, lively, whale watching, biking, touring around, history etc.- rent car drive thru cape cod - beautiful national sea coast OR skip cape cod altogether -

* drive to New York City - many stops on the way wether coming from cape or Boston - Providence RI - historic, waterfires on river, great rest.- Newport RI - this is where the Americas cup used to be OR Foxwoods a Conneticut casino - biggest casino I think anywhere in the USA. - to New Haven - ditch car - train - NYC

* DC or Chicago - Fly

* San Fran - rental car - Napa valley - for great food, scenery and wine. - drive up coast to see amazing scenery, giant red woods etc. or fly to Seattle OR Hawaii for a quick stopover. - home.

The amount of days and areas you choose will be up to you.

If you do 3 days in the major cities (4 NYC) it will give you an overview with some extra commuting and sightseeing elsewhere.

Enjoy your trip!
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Old May 8th, 2006, 04:28 PM
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You've received some wonderful ideas here!
The only thing I'd like to add is that I totally agree with bardo1 and toucan2. Stay in Toronto and do a day trip to NIagara FAlls. NO need to stay there. I've taken many visitors there and a day trip is enough.
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Old May 8th, 2006, 09:23 PM
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You can keep going north from San Francisco, driving up the Pacific Coast Highway, and spend a couple of days at Portland. It's smaller than some of the other cities you want to see. And if you want to see a tremendous waterfall, you can drive up the Columbia Gorge and visit Multnomah Falls. I've never seen Niagara, but hey, I gotta plug the local sights! We have plenty of beautiful scenery for you to see, and you can visit the wineries in Yamhill County just as easily as those in the Napa Valley. It's a thought.
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