Author Topic: Please help me find local attractions in the US!  (Read 14875 times)

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violinp

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Re: Please help me find local attractions in the US!
« Reply #30 on: March 17, 2012, 11:53:14 AM »
I live near Bristol, which is the birthplace of country music, as well as the home of Bristol Motor Speedway. In fact, it's Race Weekend this weekend! (I look forward to all the buffoons coming through on Sunday after partying all night.  ::))

I also live near a park called Bays Mountain Park. It has wildlife habitats, a planetarium, hiking trails, and fishing holes.


As for the weather, summer in the USA is HOT.  Especially the places you will be visiting.  Las Vegas in the summer is boiling hot....but it's a dry heat, so you won't feel like you need a shower every 10 minutes.  However the minute you step off the plane in Florida and for the rest of your trip up the East Coast...it will be hot and humid.  It is not uncommon for the temp to be 100 degrees with 80% humidity. When you walk out of the door, you will begin to sweat...your pores will release all of their contents onto your clothing.  Sunscreen is a must, you may want to buy stock since you'll be using so much of it  ;D

I cannot POD this enough. Summers are hot, hot, hot. Late July and August are the worst - when Cabbage was in band camp one year, they had several people pass out from marching in the heat, and the director sent the rest of the kids home early. Keep a insulated bottle of cold water with you all the time if you will be walking a lot - even if you don't drink it, you can dip a bandana in it and put it on your neck to cool you off.
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JoyinVirginia

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Re: Please help me find local attractions in the US!
« Reply #31 on: March 18, 2012, 10:18:10 AM »
Hi op,  just want to mention a few things. Florida has so much to see, and the environment is completely different from the west, you will enjoy the contrast. If you fly into Miami I recommend renting a car and driving down to key west, see the Ernest Hemingway house. Do you have any interest in civil war history? we took the boat tour from key west to fort Jefferson in the dry tortugas national park for a day, that is an amazing and unique place and the best day trip we did.
Near Miami is the famous Robert is Here fruit stand, google it for directions, and it is one the way to one of the everglades visitor centers. Or you could go to the key Biscayne national park visitor center. Pigeon key visitor center is between key west and Miami and worth a quick stop. When we were there summer 2010, lady in visitor center sent us back to the Marina where a manatee mama and her calf were hanging out, we got to see them really up close.
I like the Salvador Dali museum in Clearwater Florida ( I think).
If you will be driving north and passing thru Virginia on your way to DC, pm me. I could show you some unique sights around Richmond and Williamsburg or Petersburg. Again, lots of interesting things for civil war our revolutionary war buffs.

nutraxfornerves

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Re: Please help me find local attractions in the US!
« Reply #32 on: March 18, 2012, 11:45:56 AM »
I am a regular contributor to the Thorn Tree Message Board, operated by the Lonely Planet guidebook publishers. If you go to the US section, you will find all sorts of threads that cover a lot of what interests you. You will also find a lot of discussion about the merits of transit vs. renting a car.

A couple of practicalities. If you plan to enter under the Visa Waiver Program, don't forget to register with the ESTA web site at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/. ESTA is a pre-clearance that verifies that you are eligible for the VWP and that yo aren't on some list of undesirables. Your airline won't let you board the plane without it.

 If any driver is under age 25, rental car companies will usually tack on a daily underage surcharge of US$15-25. You can often get a better deal on a rental car by booking through a UK web site.

It will probably be impossible to get lodging in Yosemite in June at this late date, unless you join a tour. It books up very fast.

You've been getting a lot of advice about how hot it will be. The California Coast, north of about San Luis Obispo will be cool and foggy. You will want a sweater or light jacket for that and for San Francisco.

Besides the Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo has a terrific Thursday Night Market--part farmers market, part music fest, part craft fair, part food festival. They close down the main street for it.

The drive up highway 1 in California is one of the most iconic. It can only be done by car; there is no transit.

Hearst Castle on highway 1, was built by a newspaper publisher with grandiose ideas and too much money. It's not a castle in the European sense, but a rather amazing house complex. You can only see it by tour, and you should book ahead as tours fill up.

Just north of Hearst Castle, you can stop & look at a colony of elephant seals. In June it will mainly be young males, not a huge as the 2000 kilo adult males, but worth watching. And it's free--you just pull into a parking lot.

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SoCalVal

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Re: Please help me find local attractions in the US!
« Reply #33 on: March 18, 2012, 02:23:13 PM »
Here's some more CA info from a native Californian -- I haven't been there yet but if you do decide to go the CA coast after all, you might want to check out the Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz (an area of physics and gravitational anomalies).

Someone mentioned Apple Hill (in Northern CA), but I don't recall summer being a good time to go (DF and I always go in the Fall but, then again, I might be mixing it up when we go for the pumpkins).

If you're inclined to visit LA and want to see something being filmed, I believe there's a website that indicates where location shoots are taking place on particular days (well, I know something like that existed once upon a time; it might've been a tourist company that provide that kind of info).  Having lived in LA, you often just ran across location shoots all the time.



WhiteTigerCub

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Re: Please help me find local attractions in the US!
« Reply #34 on: March 19, 2012, 12:09:18 PM »
Here's some more CA info from a native Californian -- I haven't been there yet but if you do decide to go the CA coast after all, you might want to check out the Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz (an area of physics and gravitational anomalies).

Someone mentioned Apple Hill (in Northern CA), but I don't recall summer being a good time to go (DF and I always go in the Fall but, then again, I might be mixing it up when we go for the pumpkins).

If you're inclined to visit LA and want to see something being filmed, I believe there's a website that indicates where location shoots are taking place on particular days (well, I know something like that existed once upon a time; it might've been a tourist company that provide that kind of info).  Having lived in LA, you often just ran across location shoots all the time.
Note that in June the beaches in Southern California will be lovely! Highly recommended if you want to experience the feel of the ocean on the West Coast.

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nutraxfornerves

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Re: Please help me find local attractions in the US!
« Reply #35 on: March 19, 2012, 12:34:23 PM »
Quote
Note that in June the beaches in Southern California will be lovely! Highly recommended if you want to experience the feel of the ocean on the West Coast.
I'm not sure I'd agree. Southern California is famous for the "June Gloom," low clouds and fog along the coast that may stay all day or burn off to haze in the afternoon. The average June high temperature on the coast at Los Angeles is 73F/23C.

And the ocean isn't exactly warm--the best you can hope for in June would be around 65F/18C.

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lolane

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Re: Please help me find local attractions in the US!
« Reply #36 on: March 19, 2012, 07:59:41 PM »
Here's some more CA info from a native Californian -- I haven't been there yet but if you do decide to go the CA coast after all, you might want to check out the Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz (an area of physics and gravitational anomalies).

Someone mentioned Apple Hill (in Northern CA), but I don't recall summer being a good time to go (DF and I always go in the Fall but, then again, I might be mixing it up when we go for the pumpkins).

If you're inclined to visit LA and want to see something being filmed, I believe there's a website that indicates where location shoots are taking place on particular days (well, I know something like that existed once upon a time; it might've been a tourist company that provide that kind of info).  Having lived in LA, you often just ran across location shoots all the time.

I visited Apple Hill in June a couple of years ago. It's not good in June for apples, so I guess, if you're going for Apples, it would be a bad idea. It is great for some other produce. I had the best blackberries I'd ever eaten (they were so good I ate them straight out of the bucket without washing and made myself sick from eating so many.)

JoyinVirginia

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Re: Please help me find local attractions in the US!
« Reply #37 on: March 20, 2012, 01:23:01 AM »
Just want to say that after hearing about California on this thread, now I want to go to California! I have only been to Las Vegas and boulder Colorado.

LyraSilverose

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Re: Please help me find local attractions in the US!
« Reply #38 on: March 20, 2012, 04:07:14 AM »
I don't know your exact timing, or if this is your thing, but the Rocky Horror Picture Show cast in LA is spectacular, and have been at the same theatre for... well, ever, really.  The NuArt is actually featured in Valley Girl (a classically bad 80s movie) with the RHPS on the marquee.  I do recommend showing up a bit early, though, as their super plush seats tend to sell out every Saturday.  Also, in downtown LA, there's a restaurant called Mac n' Cheeza that creates the most incredible mac n cheese I've ever eaten.
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SoCalVal

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Re: Please help me find local attractions in the US!
« Reply #39 on: March 20, 2012, 03:15:33 PM »
I don't know your exact timing, or if this is your thing, but the Rocky Horror Picture Show cast in LA is spectacular, and have been at the same theatre for... well, ever, really.  The NuArt is actually featured in Valley Girl (a classically bad 80s movie) with the RHPS on the marquee.  I do recommend showing up a bit early, though, as their super plush seats tend to sell out every Saturday.  Also, in downtown LA, there's a restaurant called Mac n' Cheeza that creates the most incredible mac n cheese I've ever eaten.

Oh, I LOVE "Valley Girl" (and own it).

Another, if you happen to visit LA...in the San Fernando Valley (suburb over the hill northward from the city of LA) in the town of Granada Hills, they have a food truck gathering every Wednesday and Friday evening (about 30-40 trucks).  I haven't been (I discovered it when I was in town last year for my grandmother's funeral) but plan to go when we next visit.  My aunt who lives in GH hates it (says it ruins the "small-town" feel), but I just laugh (I grew up in SFV; there's nothing "small-town" about that area, in my experience -- that, and I actually live in an area of Northern CA that has the authentic small-town aspect to it so I just say nothing...).



WhiteTigerCub

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Re: Please help me find local attractions in the US!
« Reply #40 on: March 20, 2012, 05:23:00 PM »
I don't know your exact timing, or if this is your thing, but the Rocky Horror Picture Show cast in LA is spectacular, and have been at the same theatre for... well, ever, really.  The NuArt is actually featured in Valley Girl (a classically bad 80s movie) with the RHPS on the marquee.  I do recommend showing up a bit early, though, as their super plush seats tend to sell out every Saturday.  Also, in downtown LA, there's a restaurant called Mac n' Cheeza that creates the most incredible mac n cheese I've ever eaten.

Oh, I LOVE "Valley Girl" (and own it).

Another, if you happen to visit LA...in the San Fernando Valley (suburb over the hill northward from the city of LA) in the town of Granada Hills, they have a food truck gathering every Wednesday and Friday evening (about 30-40 trucks).  I haven't been (I discovered it when I was in town last year for my grandmother's funeral) but plan to go when we next visit.  My aunt who lives in GH hates it (says it ruins the "small-town" feel), but I just laugh (I grew up in SFV; there's nothing "small-town" about that area, in my experience -- that, and I actually live in an area of Northern CA that has the authentic small-town aspect to it so I just say nothing...).

Bolded is mine. I was born in Granda Hills Hospital. :D.    POD to SoCalVal. The San Fernando Valley is awesome. It's close to Burbank which is where Universal Studios is. Also within a 45 min drive in Valencia is Six Flags Magic Mountain.

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jedikaiti

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Re: Please help me find local attractions in the US!
« Reply #41 on: March 20, 2012, 05:42:57 PM »
We're going to fly to New York, stay there for a couple of days (too short, I know, but our time is limited!), and then start to travel to the west, something like New york - Washington D.C. - Miami - New Orleans - Dallas - Roswell - Las Vegas - LA - San Fransisco. In total we have about 4 weeks to do this so something might have to be left out.

We hope to use trains and buses as much as possible but if it's very much cheaper or faster we can also fly or rent a car for some journeys between destinations.

I am going to POD what everyone else has said, so far. Aside from NYC to DC (and possibly down to FL), you will need to fly between cities - I occasionally get an urge to try Amtrak instead of flying for visits to friends and family, only to find that a trip that takes half a day by air (including check-in and security) takes at least 2 (of just travel & stops) by train. And it's expensive - I live in Colorado, and have yet to price out a train trip in the US that isn't faster and cheaper (by a long shot) by air. We just don't have the nice, affordable, regular train service that some other parts of the world (like Europe) have.

I'd also knock a couple cities off your itinerary - trying to hit that much all over the country in 4 weeks is asking to spend the entire time jet lagged. As others have noted, the USA is FREAKING HUGE, and you'll be hitting all 4 mainland time zones. Besides - you need to leave stuff to do for your next visit. ;-)

For things to do, I'll keep thinking, but I will POD the Spy Museum in DC, and remind you that DC has the Smithsonian - it's a big common tourist attraction, but it's also a WHOLE MESS OF TOTALLY FREE MUSEUMS. There is no admission - after growing up in the DC area, it took me a while to get used to the idea that most museums charge admission. Check the website at http://www.si.edu/ and see which museums/exhibits tickle your fancy.
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Blondie

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Re: Please help me find local attractions in the US!
« Reply #42 on: March 22, 2012, 01:57:53 PM »
I am going to throw out there, from DC north to NYC, look into taking Bolt Bus or Mega Bus. They both leave and arrive at the center of the city, and unlike Amtrak, the highest I have ever paid for a ticket is $21 (the earlier you buy, the cheaper the ticket. If you sign up for their "frequent travelers" and buy about a month out, there are $1 fares.) Amtrak will run you about $65 per ticket, purchased in advance. With Amtrak being busy, and liking to break down, the trips take about the same time- and the bus will often be faster for midday, weekday trips, as they don't make stops along the way. Granted the New Jersey Turnpike is always a bit of a shot in the dark traffic wise.
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Cereal Killer

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Re: Please help me find local attractions in the US!
« Reply #43 on: March 23, 2012, 10:39:01 AM »
I am going to throw out there, from DC north to NYC, look into taking Bolt Bus or Mega Bus. They both leave and arrive at the center of the city, and unlike Amtrak, the highest I have ever paid for a ticket is $21 (the earlier you buy, the cheaper the ticket. If you sign up for their "frequent travelers" and buy about a month out, there are $1 fares.) Amtrak will run you about $65 per ticket, purchased in advance. With Amtrak being busy, and liking to break down, the trips take about the same time- and the bus will often be faster for midday, weekday trips, as they don't make stops along the way. Granted the New Jersey Turnpike is always a bit of a shot in the dark traffic wise.
Good heavens, this Megabus is cheap! In what condition the buses usually are? Is it possible to sleep in overnight journeys, and can you adjust the seat to a more comfortable position like in an airplane?

nutraxfornerves

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Re: Please help me find local attractions in the US!
« Reply #44 on: March 23, 2012, 12:05:01 PM »
Those buses, and others, are often called Cinatown buses because they run between Chinese areas of cities, mostly on the East Coast. A review of some of the companies

One reason they are so inexpensive is that they generally do not operate from terminals. They pick up & depart on a street. They also use no-frills buses. There have been safety concerns, as that Wikipedia article notes.

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