USA Summer 2013
Replies: 40 - Last Post: Aug 22, 2012 7:21 PM Last Post By: ianw6705
Aug 18, 2012 4:15 PM
15Salt Lake is a base for some National and State parks. However, you need to allow at least 4 nights for Grand Teton/Yellowstone. You will need to rent a car in this region either to drive to GC/Yellowstone or fly to Jackson, WY. You will then need to rent a car to visit GC/Yellowstone.
Aug 18, 2012 4:23 PM
16Yes, what I meant by this was to rent a car there and use it as the base of a loop through Yellowstone, returning to Salt Lake a few days later.
Aug 18, 2012 4:33 PM
17Well ... if the California Zephyr is a childhood dream ... then no better reason. Most of the TripAdvisor reviews are pretty positive (apart from the rattling carriages). And if you do disembark in SLC, then 4-5 nights to the two great parks (5 hours north) are definitely recommended - but you will have to cut hard in other sectors of your trip, that is still too crowded.
Aug 18, 2012 9:43 PM
18OP, your interests sound remarkably similar to mine, which I think gives me license to advise that you're spending much too little time in DC, my second-favorite U.S. city after New York -- especially given your stated predilection for museums and history. You could spend weeks just visiting museums in DC. Every time I go, I leave regretting that I haven't seen enough. And what a lot of people don't realize about DC is that it's a living, breathing city, not just monuments and memorials. I'm always hesitant to definitively tell anybody anything, but in this case, I'm completely sure -- add a couple of days in DC, believe me.
But what to sacrifice? I agree with others that you have too much Texas. Now, I have somehow ended up in Texas five times, and yet I've never been to Houston or Dallas. I'm hesitant to offer advice on places I've never visited, but I can tell you that your instincts are probably right about Houston -- I've never met anyone who likes it. (Don't get me wrong, there are loads of people out there who do -- but I've never met them.) Also, your time in Dallas-Fort Worth seems like a bit much given how much you want to do on this trip. As for El Paso: I have been there, and I'm not sure why you'd want to go. Maybe I missed something, but I didn't see any tourist appeal at all, really.
I do not, however, think you should skip Austin, one of the most fun, vibrant, dynamic and interesting cities in America. Here's what I always tell people about Austin: I used to say that New York had everything you could get in any other U.S. city, but that was before I visited Austin and went to an outdoor bar with live music and free tortilla chips and salsa.
Aug 18, 2012 9:57 PM
19... but that was before I visited Austin and went to an outdoor bar with live music and free tortilla chips and salsa.
Gosh ... you can find that in just about every town in Australia (although the salsa and chips might have to be paid for sometimes) ... we must have got the right Kulture at some point!
Aug 18, 2012 9:59 PM
Sometimes when I tell people that, they say, "Sure you can find that in New York; what about (insert name of bar here) in Brooklyn?" And I always say, "Are the chips and salsa free?" At which point they have to admit that no, you can't find that in New York.
Aug 18, 2012 10:03 PM
21You're more likely to find peanuts, fries, and party pies for free in Australia ... but the same strategy in place - hand out salt and starch to get the customers drinking some more! There's no free lunch.
Aug 19, 2012 11:08 AM
I've retried with the plan below. I'd like to go to Austin and/or South Carolina and/or Great Smoky Mountains, but if we spend the time visiting some of the other places everyone has recommended, I don't think we will have the time.
I'm still not sure about Las Vegas and LA. It would be good to see those places, to see for ourselves whether they live up to what we've heard/read, and I appreciate there are interesting non-casino things to do near Las Vegas (Hoover Dam, Atomic museum, etc.), but a couple of us don't gamble (we have a detailed understanding of probability), although we're big Penn and Teller fans, so going to see them would be pretty awesome.
Regarding LA, people we've spoken to in the UK who have been have advised me to spend no more than a day there, because it's an awful sprawling mess, and to get out to the far more laid back and more compact San Diego ASAP! What are your opinions on this?
Once again, thanks for all your excellent advice so far!
1 Fly from London to Chicago. Arrive afternoon.
5 Depart 14:00 on California Zephyr Train (roomette) to Salt Lake City.
6 Arrive 23:05 in Salt Lake City.
7 Morning in Salt Lake City. Rent car. Depart lunchtime for trip to Grand Teton/Yellowstone NPs. Arrive evening in Jackson Hole, WY.
8 Grand Teton
11 Return to Salt Lake City. Arrive evening.
12 Depart morning for drive to Moab.
14 Drive to Bryce.
15 Depart evening for drive to Grand Canyon North Rim. Stay overnight.
16 Grand Canyon North Rim.
17 Depart early morning for Zion. Depart dusk for Las Vegas.
18 Las Vegas.
19 Las Vegas.
20 Depart morning for drive to Mono Lake via Death Valley.
23 Depart morning for drive to San Francisco.
24 San Francisco.
25 San Francisco.
26 Depart afternoon to drive along Pacific Coast Highway. Overnight around Monterey.
27 Pacific Coast Highway. Overnight around San Luis Obispo.
28 Arrive in Los Angeles.
29 Los Angeles/San Diego.
30 Los Angeles/San Diego.
31 Fly to New Orleans.
32 New Orleans.
33 New Orleans.
34 Fly to Washington DC.
35 Washington, DC.
36 Washington, DC.
37 Depart evening on bus to Philadelphia.
39 Depart evening on bus to New York.
40 New York.
41 New York.
42 New York.
43 New York.
44 Depart evening on bus to Boston.
47 Fly from Boston to London.
48 Arrive London.
Aug 19, 2012 11:24 AM
Aug 19, 2012 12:00 PM
24I would trade xYellowstone and xGrand Teton for xCharleston and xSavnnah, or xAsheville and the xSmokies (and Oak Ridge).
xYellowstone is huge (about half the size of xWales), and going there for two days is a lot of driving to barely scratch the surface.
Then you can head straight to xMoab from xSLC.
Of course, if you feel you must go, you will still no doubt enjoy it.
For day 15, just be aware that xBryce to the north rim is about 4 hours, excluding delays for food, gas, etc.
As for xLA vs. xSan Diego, I'd pick one, not both.
There is plenty to do in xLA, even more than 4 or 5 days could fill. It is a sprawling mass of urbanization, but with a car and that understanding, you'll be a lot better off than those who go there expecting to use public transit to explore a compact core of sights.
With your friend's theme park desire, you're best off here. Take a day for xDisneyland (in xAnaheim), or xKnott's Berry Farm, etc.
Aug 19, 2012 3:43 PM
25Yes ... you could make a good argument that Yellowstone/Grand Teton, plus Yosemite NP, the Grand Canyon and Southern Utah is too much desert/canyon/glacial stimulation - and that dropping Yellowstone NP for the South-North Carolinas might give you greater diversity and a more memorable trip.
Yellowstone NP and GTNP are wonderful, but we took about six days and it was surface-scratching indeed. I also think it's a good move to fly over Texas into New Orleans. And in relation to Day 15, I think it's better to see Bryce Canyon NP, then Zion NP straight after, and then do the drive from Hurricane to the North Rim, and back, and on to Las Vegas.
Aug 19, 2012 5:00 PM
Aug 19, 2012 5:25 PM
Aug 19, 2012 6:16 PM
But I think they mean the opposite.
Given the interests of the OP, the large detour it takes to get to xYellowstone, and the short amount of time they will spend there despite the detour, yes, I think the Carolinas would yield a greater reward.
Aug 19, 2012 10:15 PM
29I live in Los Angeles and bad mouth it a lot, but to be fair, it's one of the world's great food cities, and there are some fun attractions for visitors -- as long as you are well prepared for the realities of lots of driving and traffic. I would certainly choose LA over San Diego.
As for dropping Yellowstone for the Carolinas, I would drop BOTH to have more time in your other destinations. Not that Yellowstone isn't nice, because obviously it is, but you really don't have time to do it justice. I'd say a week minimum for Yellowstone and Grand Teton, otherwise forget it.
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