Author Topic: Please help me find local attractions in the US!  (Read 14957 times)

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iridaceae

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Re: Please help me find local attractions in the US!
« Reply #15 on: February 17, 2012, 06:50:26 AM »
Skip the train from Williams to the Grand Canyon; it always sounds as if the train runs along side the Canyon, but it doesn't. Drive yourself tto the Canyon and walk around and take the busses from place to place. 

WhiteTigerCub

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Re: Please help me find local attractions in the US!
« Reply #16 on: February 17, 2012, 10:50:43 AM »
Skip the train from Williams to the Grand Canyon; it always sounds as if the train runs along side the Canyon, but it doesn't. Drive yourself tto the Canyon and walk around and take the busses from place to place.

The train from Williams also offers dicounted rates on the bus tours that run around the Grand Canyon. Although it does not go along the Grand Canyon, it does get you to it via a relaxing and nice scenic route.

Last time I was there, they were limiting auto traffic up the top so the train was the best option.

Arizona

DavidH

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Re: Please help me find local attractions in the US!
« Reply #17 on: February 17, 2012, 11:31:22 AM »
The giant redwoods are amazing and great to see, but given the time and distances, the groves near Yosemite are probably your best bet.  The ones on the northern CA coast are amazing, but realistically, it is a day's drive north of San Francisco and the same back.  I would also consider either Bryce or Zion national park near Las Vegas or parts of the painted desert in Arizona since it is a type of landscape you won't find in other places. 

I've driven around the US extensively and the open space is amazing, but the distances are really much greater, particularly in the western part of the country that you'll find in Europe.  If you assume an average speed of about 70mph on the interstates and a bit slower on two lanes you can start to estimate time.  Google driving directions are a great way to estimate distances.

Hmmmmm

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Re: Please help me find local attractions in the US!
« Reply #18 on: February 17, 2012, 12:02:31 PM »
I'm going to address your New Orleans to Las Vegas portion only.

You can take two paths through Texas.

Northern route through Dallas will take you through East Texas with rolling hills, small towns, and pine forests. Dallas has nice shopping, restaurants, and the 6th Floor Museum about the Kennedy assassination is very good.  You can also experience some Texas Cowboy "culture" in Fort Worth half an hour from Dallas.  The Dallas to Albuquerque drive is boring, but Albuquerque is a nice town with a big southwestern flare.   

The Southern route which would keep you on I-10 would take you through San Antonio where there is major Mexican influence, tons of tourist attractions like the Alamo, the early Missions, and the Riverwalk.  Austin is also a short drive and has wonderful live music venues, great restaurants, the Texas History Museum.  New Braunsfel is also near by where you can spend a day tubbing down a beautfiul cold river. The drive from San Antonio across Texas to Tucson is long and not much in between, but you will go through the very southern end of the Rocky Mountains in very West Texas.  And if you've ever wanted to drive fast legally, then this is the stretch of Highway for you.  The speed limit for much of I10 past San Antonio is 85 miles an hour.

Which ever route you take, I do highly support others recommendation of goin to the Grand Canyon on your way to Vegas.   

QueenfaninCA

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Re: Please help me find local attractions in the US!
« Reply #19 on: February 17, 2012, 01:42:40 PM »
redwood forest (is that what it is called? The giant trees?) are a must see, really.

There are actually two types, The Sequoia Sempervirens (grows along the coast) and the Sequoia Giganteum (grows in the Sierra Nevada).

For the coastal redwoods, the best place is Redwood National Park, pretty much a full days drive north of San Francisco close to the Oregon border. But there are a few small groves around the bay Area (just avoid Muir Woods on the weekend; you'll not be able to see the trees for all the people if you can actually find a place to park). Big Basin Redwoods between Silicon Valley and Santa Cruz is a good option.

For the Sierra, Sequoia National Park is definitely worth a visit, but Yosemite also has some redwood groves. In summer, I would avoid Yosemite Valley like the plague (just too many people). If you go to Yosemite stick to the stuff along Tioga Road.

Both of those parks are about five hours from San Francisco and probably two to three from each other. I'd plan at least one full day to visit each of them. Accommodations in the park need to be booked months in advance, but there is also lodging available nearby (if possible I'd stay in the park).

Kiara

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Re: Please help me find local attractions in the US!
« Reply #20 on: February 17, 2012, 03:56:17 PM »
If time is tight, I'd advise staying near San Francisco and seeing Muir Woods on a weekday.  It was absolutely wonderful, and some of my favorite pictures from childhood vacations are from there.  Plus you get to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge.

I'd also recommend seeing Alcatraz, but that's because I love the place.   ;D  I love the drive from SF to LA, but it'll take several days.

GeauxTigers

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Re: Please help me find local attractions in the US!
« Reply #21 on: February 17, 2012, 05:38:46 PM »
If you wind up planning to go through Louisiana on Interstate 10, PM me. :)

The sun will be a lot stronger in the USA than it is in Finland. You will need good sunscreen; bear in mind that New York is the same latitude as northern Spain.

For some "wierdness in common", try this:

Go to Austin, Texas. A cool city in its own right (the local bumper stickers say "Keep Austin Wierd"). Live music on 6th St. Great BBQ. Be sure to go the Congress Avenue Bridge at sunset to see the world's largest urban bat colony go out for dinner.

A few days later, go to Carlsbad Caverns, explore the caves and be sure to hang around until susnset when you can see an even larger colony of bats go out for dinner.


readingchick

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Re: Please help me find local attractions in the US!
« Reply #22 on: February 17, 2012, 08:34:18 PM »
I don't know if they still have this (any DC eHellions, please feel free to correct me), but when I was in DC they had the National Capitol Barbeque Battle. If it's going on during the time you're over here, you might want to check it out.

Oh, and when you're in Florida, make it a point to visit Sanibel and Captiva Islands. It's famous for shelling--many people can be found doing the Sanibel Stoop, plus there's a shell museum--plus there's the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2012, 08:36:53 PM by readingchick »

Cereal Killer

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Re: Please help me find local attractions in the US!
« Reply #23 on: March 07, 2012, 05:31:43 AM »
Thank you again for all the good advice!

After a lot of thinking, calculating and whining we decided to fly straight to Las Vegas (20 hours, not something I look forward to), and from there probably fly to Florida and continue North with buses/trains/renting a car. Eventually we'll fly back home from NY. I'm very excited!

Now I need to start to study your tipping rules.

Thipu1

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Re: Please help me find local attractions in the US!
« Reply #24 on: March 07, 2012, 10:57:04 AM »
If you get to NYC and want to take a sightseeing boat ride, do not take the Circle Line.  The ride is expensive, long and the narration is often so bad it can make you want to throw yourself overboard.  A better alternative is offered at South Street Seaport.  It's cheaper, shorter and will let you get great shots of everything you might want to photograph. 

You might also want to consider Governor's Island. It's not always open to visitors so you need to check.  The ferry from the Battery is free and there are forts dating from the War of 1812 and the American Civil War as well as other interesting sites and spectacular views of lower Manhattan. 

Betelnut

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Re: Please help me find local attractions in the US!
« Reply #25 on: March 07, 2012, 04:15:14 PM »
If you get to NYC and want to take a sightseeing boat ride, do not take the Circle Line.  The ride is expensive, long and the narration is often so bad it can make you want to throw yourself overboard.  A better alternative is offered at South Street Seaport.  It's cheaper, shorter and will let you get great shots of everything you might want to photograph. 

You might also want to consider Governor's Island. It's not always open to visitors so you need to check.  The ferry from the Battery is free and there are forts dating from the War of 1812 and the American Civil War as well as other interesting sites and spectacular views of lower Manhattan.

I like the Circle Line tour and have done it twice.  So one thumbs up and one thumbs down.  My favorite part of the Circle Line was seeing North Manhattan from the water.  A different perspective.
Native Texan, Marylander currently

lolane

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Re: Please help me find local attractions in the US!
« Reply #26 on: March 16, 2012, 05:24:08 PM »
I've lived in Las Vegas and throughout California so I'm going to address that portion of your trip. I wouldn't even think about taking a train anywhere on the West Coast. Amtrak does not own the tracks in much of the West which means a 6 hours drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco may take 14 hours or more on Amtrak because the freight trains have the right away. Not to mention, Amtrak tickets aren't exactly cheap and if you shop deals with the domestic airlines you can often fly for cheaper and faster. I wouldn't really take a bus either.

I think, if you're interested in small towns, it might be nice to rent a car and drive from Las Vegas to San Francisco. There are a couple of routes (up the coast, which is nice with all the beach towns, through the middle (lots of cows and open space and it's fast, but not really interesting), or the route I'm going to recommend:

You could head out of Las Vegas on the I-15 to Southern CA. Then cut off to Hwy 395 which will take you along the Eastern Sierras. Along that route you can check out Manzanar, a Japanese Internment Camp during WWII (very interesting), really interesting hiking routes, the pass to Yosemite which would be open in June, Mono Lake (has some very cool history), and Bode (a preserved old Western ghost town). You can then hit the Lake Tahoe area or skip it and just head down to the Bay Area and San Francisco. If you went to Lake Tahoe, you could go to the Bay Area via Hwy 80 and pass through Placerville and El Dorado wine country (I think one of the most underrated wine areas in CA) and Apple Hill (a lot of apple and other produce growers selling neat goods).

PastryGoddess

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Re: Please help me find local attractions in the US!
« Reply #27 on: March 17, 2012, 12:49:34 AM »
Quote
It seems like seeing Area 51 instead of Roswell could be a very good idea.


Area 51 is a government site and is not open to the public. It is in the middle of nowhere, NV.  They highly discourage visitors IYKWIM.  If you want to do a local trip, visit Roswell for the day and then go back to Las Vegas.

The rest of your plan sounds great!  I'm in the DC area and would love to hang out with you when you come through.  Since it's summer, I'll be outdoors most of the time, but I do hang out indoors from time to time  ;)


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
« Last Edit: March 17, 2012, 12:56:01 AM by PastryGoddess »

hyzenthlay

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Re: Please help me find local attractions in the US!
« Reply #28 on: March 17, 2012, 10:32:39 AM »
Area 51 is a government site and is not open to the public. It is in the middle of nowhere, NV.  They highly discourage visitors IYKWIM.  If you want to do a local trip, visit Roswell for the day and then go back to Las Vegas.

You can't visit Roswell and get back to Vegas in a day, well maybe an 18 or 20 hour day. And really and truly, Roswell is a farming town with a couple of kitchy tourist stops, it's not anything exciting.

But OP I have to agree that spending a day driving out to Area 51 might not be a great idea either, especially as you are not a US citizen. If you cross one of the area 51 borders, even by accident as they are not marked with a fence line, I imagine the consequences might be rather stringent. It isn't a tourist destination, it is a high security military installation.

kherbert05

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Re: Please help me find local attractions in the US!
« Reply #29 on: March 17, 2012, 11:34:30 AM »
Note that anywhere south in the US is going to be getting hot in June. TX, NM, NV and AZ especially unless you plan on sticking to the northern parts of the states.  Trains and busses won't be much of an option for seeing them unfortunately. In the SW we heavily rely on our autos because the public transit really is nill.

I drove across Texas once. It took an entire day driving to get from one side to the other. :/ Avoid that drive if at all possible.
Just want to POD this. To give you some more information. Many of the regions you are thinking about have little to no public transportation. Once you get out of the Northeast + Chicago you don't have public transportation in most of the US. It is 4 hours from NO to Beaumont, Texas Then another 12 to El Paso and that is assuming you just stay on I10.  Also the time is going to depend on when you travel. Hit Houston at any time other than the middle of the night you are going to hit traffic. You can potentially be going 20 - 40 mph from East of Houston to Katy, Texas. San Antonio is another potential choke point.

One you get West of San Antonio and especially West of Kerrville you are in a sparsely populated area. There were times I drove the section from Kerrville to Junction and never saw another car. Lots of deer, no cars. If you do a car trip through the southwest - pack a cooler with water and snacks. Keep it stocked.  Plan out food stops you don't want to be in the middle of nowhere and starving. (I was born and raised here. The first 3 years of my life my parents and I drove from Houston To New Braunfels (3 hours) every Friday and back each Sunday. I will go to an event 4 hours away and come back the same day.  Still there have been times I've felt I had entered the Twilight Zone and was driving on an unending loop forever and a day.

The average high in Houston during June is 91 - and while that doesn't sound bad remember that is the temperature. It doesn't factor in the Heat Index. The humidity is killer along the gulf coast. As you go west the temperature is going to get higher.
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