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carand Aug 16th, 2015 08:10 PM

USA - October 2016
Hi Guys,

I've just started researching into going to the US next October. I realize it is still a long way out but I just wanted to get a bit of feed back on my ideas so far. I am coming from Sydney, Australia and was looking at a period of about 3 weeks for 2 people in their mid 20s.

I noticed the 2 cheapest destinations to fly to in America are LA and Honolulu so I was thinking of flying into LA and doing a tour of LA, Las Vegas (Grand Canyon, Yellowstone etc) and SF for about a week. Can anyone make a suggestion on a good tour?

Then fly to New York and do Washington DC and the surrounds for another week and then fly to Hawaii to relax and unwind for another week or so and fly out from there. Does this sound feasible at all? Any suggestions?


janisj Aug 16th, 2015 08:52 PM

>>into LA and doing a tour of LA, Las Vegas (Grand Canyon, Yellowstone etc) and SF for about a week. Can anyone make a suggestion on a good tour?<<

Not even remotely possible . . . Or did you by <i>any</i> chance mean Yosemite and not Yellowstone?

Even substituting Yosemite for Yellowstone a week is about 1.5 to 2 weeks too short to cover LA, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas (and presumably Zion/Bryce Canyon), Yosemite, some of the coast and San Francisco.

>>Can anyone make a suggestion on a good tour?<<

By 'tour' do you mean a coach tour -- awful idea -- the distances are enormous (like OZ distances) and any coach tour would have you on board for hours and hours every day.

>>New York and do Washington DC and the surrounds for another week<<

A week is enough for a tiny taste of NYC and Washington DC (taking the train between the two) but not long enough for anyplace else.

W/ 3 weeks you'd do MUCH better to do just CA/Vegas and HI . . . OR . . . just NYC/Wash DC and HI.

marvelousmouse Aug 16th, 2015 08:57 PM

What do you want to do in each of those places? Do you mean Yosemite instead of Yellowstone? Yosemite is in California. A week would probably be enough time for both Yosemite and SF- I don't think it's enough time for GC and Vegas as well. If you DID mean Yellowstone, I think you may need to double check your distances and give us more detail of what you want to do and see in each place.

(Just LA, and SF and the coastal route between the two is like one week easily.)

Likewise, I wouldn't want to split a week between DC and New York- I'd pick one or the other.

How much time do you have total for this trip?

janisj Aug 16th, 2015 09:04 PM

>>How much time do you have total for this trip?<<

I read it as 3 weeks. One week for CA/NV/AZ (and Yellowstone -- but hopefully the OP meant Yosemite). One week for NY/DC. And one week for HI.

Totally unrealistic IMO.

marvelousmouse Aug 16th, 2015 09:13 PM

Yes, I thought 3 weeks as well- like you say, totally unrealistic so I thought I'd double check.

OP- since you want to spend time in Hawaii, I'm assuming you like sun. I'd do a week in Hawaii, a week in S. California, and a week in...well, probably either New York or Boston for that fall atmosphere. I love DC, but I'd recommend NYC or Boston before it if you haven't been to the states before. (But my bias is that I am definitely not a Vegas person, so I suppose it depends on your interests.)

carand Aug 16th, 2015 09:13 PM


Sorry, yes I meant Yosemite, I saw a Topdeck tour that does it in a week hence, why I thought it was realistic.

I wasn't keen on driving, so I thought a tour would be the best option.

november_moon Aug 16th, 2015 09:14 PM

I think you need about 2 weeks for the CA/NV portion of the trip - 1 week isn't enough for what you want to do. So if you want to see NYC and DC, and Hawaii also, you'll need to cut back on your CA/NV portion.

marvelousmouse Aug 16th, 2015 09:20 PM

Ah. Well, that doesn't include any time in the actual cities and barely ANY time in Yosemite (it's huge and Mariposa is actually like an hour from Yosemite). Given your ages, And the fact you don't want to drive, I'd really stick to cities that are easy to get around on foot- plus maybe a tour to Yosemite from SF if you have the time. So SF, NYC, Boston, DC. LA would be so not great without a car.

marvelousmouse Aug 16th, 2015 09:22 PM

Maybe Chicago would be a good fit as well, depending on your interests. What do both of you like to do?

carand Aug 16th, 2015 09:30 PM

our interests probably lie in sports, good food/coffee/beer, historical sites, and landscapes. I was also keen on visiting a theme park. With the time is it perhaps better to do LA, LV, NY, Boston, DC, Hawaii? I am having a bit of trouble working out the best route as I am hesistant to drive and therefore would rely on trains/buses/planes.

marvelousmouse Aug 16th, 2015 10:10 PM

No- 3 weeks pretty much translates into 3 destinations. 4 if you decide to do SF and Yosemite together in one week.

Good food in all destinations, probably. Good drinking and good coffee definitely in SF. SF is a serious foodie town as well. I enjoyed LA, but I wouldn't recommend it to someone who doesn't want to drive- it's very spread out. When I was planning my trip, folks here said it's hard to do without a car. Well, in an attempt to prove them wrong...I ditched my car for the first day in LA. Ha. Gave up on that and came crawling back to my sedan after not even 8 hours lol. And I hate driving- with the exception of California, almost all of my trips are organized around public transit!

Sort of comes down to what your priorities are and what your budget is. If you like historic sites- well, everywhere has got 'em but Boston is still my favorite place for that. Sports in Boston as well. (Obviously other cities as well, but the Bostonians I've met take it to a whole new level.)

SF has your vistas. And you'll get your exercise on those hills;). Yosemite - the only way I'd do it without a car is to stay in the park. And I'd definitely stay in the park if you do only 2 nights.

DC has the glorious, glorious free smithsonians. And obviously a lot more, but if you AREN'T into museums, it wouldn't be my first pick. In fact- I am a museum fanatic- and if you are into museums, I'd still pick Boston with a side trip to Salem over DC.

Purely hypothetical, because I still don't think I have a great grasp on what you want yet:
You could fly into SF. Spend 4 nights there. Take a bus to Yosemite, stay two nights (3 would be preferable, but you can do the valley in one day). Take a bus back to SF.

Fly to Boston. Spend a week in Boston (or maybe 5 nights in Boston, and 2 nights somewhere else, like Salem or Provincetown. Provincetown for scenery. Salem for quaint village, great history and museum, absolutely hilarious benefit of being in Salem near Halloween- look up witchcraft trials if you don't known what I'm talking about. That's what Salem's tourism is based on).

Fly to Hawaii. Spend a week. OR if a theme park is more attractive than the beach, fly to LA and spend time at Disneyland. I meet a lot of Australians your age at hostels all over, and although their itineraries are all different, they almost always have Disney in common. So whatever floats your boat. Disney is the one thing in SoCal that's easy to do without a car.

I don't get the sense that you have your heart set on anything specific- but if so, you could replace Boston with NYC or Chicago or DC. A week is long enough to go without a car in any of those cities- but I'd probably want a car in DC to make day trips if you aren't interested in the Museums.

Above itinerary doesn't rely on trains, which are often not reliable or on existence except on the east coast. You could always do Disney, then fly to DC and take a train to NYC and then fly to Hawaii. I think that would be another possibility if you are determined to fly into LA and out of Hawaii. (I have not been to Hawaii as an adult, but from what I understand from this forum and family/friends, you would need a car unless you plan to stick to Honolulu. So that's something to consider).

Hope this super long post gives you some helpful ideas...

janisj Aug 17th, 2015 12:13 AM

That tour is ridiculous. Sorry but Laughlin -- REALLY??

Vegas to Mariposa (which s not IN Yosemite) in a coach is a 9 hour drive plus stops.

It also doesn't include any time in San Francisco.

My hunch is it only goes to Grand Canyon West (not in the national park) since it talks about an optional helicopter ride. (Helicopters are not allowed over the NP)

>>(it's huge and Mariposa is actually like an hour from Yosemite). <<

Mariposa is more like 90 minutes from Yosemite Village.

May I ask why you don't want to drive? I have lots of friends from the UK and Oz and Ireland who have no problems driving 'on the wrong side of the road'

But basically -- back to the drawing board and re-think everything. marvelousmouse has given you some good suggestions -- but I think you really need to step back and reconsider what you want out of this trip. There have been several trip reports posted by Aussies about road trips in the western US - mostly California/LV/the Grand Canyon but other areas too. and about the North East. Maybe check some of those . . .

nytraveler Aug 17th, 2015 04:26 AM

What you want to do sounds like a wonderful trip - but would take about 6 weeks - allowing for travel between places and time to actually see/do much of anything.

Several of the places are easily done by public transit (SF, NYC, DC, Boston) with train between the cities on the east coast and flying to the west coast and HI.

But much of the trip in the west is going to be very onerous without driving.

LV is OK without a car (you can take cabs to different casinos) - but as soon as you head out of the city to visit GC or other park areas you really need a car. Have not been to Yosemite but as everyone above says - it's not really near anything else.

I know there are some companies that do bus tours of this area - but generally it is a huge amount of time spent sitting on a bus versus limited time at the sights - very confining and boring.

I think you need to do some more research and decide what your must sees are. (I don't get Disney for adults frankly - but know a lot of people go. Have been twice with no choice - on business - and the only thing not totally boring was EPCOT - but that is Orlando, not CA.)

So I would determine your must sees, then make a list of your actual days on the ground - without travel time from/to Oz - and see what you have time for. Then people here can help you put it together.

carand Aug 17th, 2015 08:16 PM

Thanks for all the advice! I think I will stick with the East Coast this time around and do the West Coast another time.

I'm thinking New York City, Chicago, Washington DC, Boston and maybe Orlando or LA for a theme park and then Hawaii. All the cities seem doable without a car.

Does this seem much more plausible?

marvelousmouse Aug 17th, 2015 08:51 PM

Are you still thinking a week in Hawaii and 2 weeks for everything else? I"m not sure how you could do all 4 cities AND and the theme park, but sure, it's more doable than the original plan. Does budget figure into it at all? Boston hotels tend to be very expensive, and you'd spend a good portion of your budget flying from city to city. Personally- that's the first thing I'd look at- where you'd get the most bang for your buck. (For instance, flights would decide Orlando vs la for me.)

Other than that... The only other feedback that MAY be helpful is to look at how you've travelled in the past. Have you been to cities similar in size the ones you have listed? How long did you need at minimum to feel like you got the most out of the experience? I need 3 full days in one place to barely scratch the surface- but I'm more happy with 5 or 6 in larger cities. So it's a personal choice. Good luck!

janisj Aug 17th, 2015 10:07 PM

>>Does this seem much more plausible?<<

Unfortunately -- just <i>barely</i>. If you are also going to Hawaii, that would leave you only 2 weeks for Chicago, Boston, NYC, Wash DC and Orlando or LA.

carand Aug 17th, 2015 11:01 PM

I was thinking along the lines of:

5 days - New York
3 days - Chicago
3 days - Boston
3 days - Washington DC
2 days - Orlando/LA
5 days Hawaii

marvelousmouse Aug 17th, 2015 11:54 PM

That would be fine if it didn't include actual travel time- flying and airport security is going to severely cut into Chicago at least. Since you have 5 days in NYC, I'd cut Chicago and make those extra days part of Boston and your theme park (you really need 2 FULL days at least at Disney if you've never been).

I loved Chicago but it is much less compact than Boston. It's also far from everything else on your itinerary. Boston has amazing history and charm and fantastic museums while Chicago has American gung ho spirit, amazing architecture, and "merely" excellent museums. Both cities are sports crazy. (The only caveat is that Boston certainly cost me MORE than Chicago, it really is expensive).

(If you wanted to experience the trains)
Fly into Boston. 4 days in Boston. Ride train to NYC. 5 days NYC. Ride train to DC. 3 days DC. Fly to LA. 3 nights Disneyland (2 days). Fly to Honolulu. 5 days/six nights. Fly home.
(Listed DL instead of DW in Orlando because then you have time to readjust to west coast time difference.) and that little extra time in Hawaii gives you more time to just relax:)

janisj Aug 18th, 2015 06:42 AM

'2 days' Orlando or LA (and it would have to be Anaheim if you mean Disneyland) for the theme parks would require 3 days because of travel times.

Same for the other cities really -- you'll lose most of a day checking out of one, traveling to the next, and checking in at the new city. . .

Scratch at least Chicago (and possibly Boston unfortunately) and do Anaheim instead of Orlando and it works better.

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