U.S. of A 18.104.22.168
Replies: 17 - Last Post: Nov 9, 2012 1:58 PM Last Post By: trekker502
Nov 7, 2012 7:44 PM
U.S. of A 22.214.171.124Hi Guys
So – I've just booked a month trip in the US for June / July 2013. I'm an Australian and in my mid twenties and will be traveling with my girlfriend who is the same age. I'm not a super experienced overseas traveler, but my partner has done plenty.
A little bit of background about my partner and I and our trip:
– I'm an American culture nerd. Particularly the history of music (Blues/Country/Rock&Roll) literature (Steinbeck, Whitman, Salinger, Twain, Kerouac, Bukowski) and Film. This trip will be much more of a cultural pilgrimage for myself then say, a trip to Europe might be. I'm super excited.
– I'm a Graphic Designer so Art Museums, Galleries and Architecture excite me.
– My partner is a nature lover and will want to spend as much time in the outdoors as she can. She loves art and history also.
We're flying in and out of LAX and so far the trip is (loosely) scheduled like so:
1) 10-12 days in California and surrounds. Key points of interest are LA, Palm Springs, Joshua Tree National Park, Vegas (for maybe a night or two), Grand Canyon, San Francisco, Yosemite. I'd love to get out to Arches or Monument Valley also but am afraid we might not have time.
2) 10-12 days in Nashville, Memphis and New Orleans. Possibly with a one or two night stop off in Austin beforehand. This is the section of the trip which interests me most and my partner not so much. Y'know – Grand Ole Opry, Hatch Show Print, Sun Studios, French Quarter, Bands, BBQ, Beer, Gumbo and Whisky. The whole deal.
3) The rest of the trip (around 5 nights or so) in NY before heading home via LA.
We'll be in the low-end to medium spending range. Like nicer hostels or cheaper hotels. Not bones-of-your-butt stuff though, just economical. We'll be shopping probably for vinyl records and cheesy t-shirts mostly up until NY where I have a feeling my girlfriend may go a little crazy with our remaining cash.
Food-wise I'll be doing burgers and hotwings with maybe the occasional more upmarket meal along the way. That said my girlfriend is a vegetarian. She'll eat fish if need be.
Travel will be flights between the three main 'areas' above with the possibility of renting a car inbetween. I'd love to get a train at some stage if we have the cash. Not above buses either.
I guess I'm just fishing for thoughts and recommendations at this stage – are we doing to much? Spending too much time somewhere, missing somewhere brilliant? Recommendations on getting around and places to stay. I've written a novella here so I'm hoping you have enough to go on.
Thanks in advance!
Nov 7, 2012 10:49 PM
1Petersen's Automotive Museum, near Hollywood and La Brea Tar Pits, is full of '50s customized cars and other "automobillia."
Nov 8, 2012 3:31 AM
2Santa Fe, New Mexico, listed as one of ten top cities worldwide for art and architecture -- 300 art galleries, a dozen museums, adobe pueblo-style architecture throughout the city. From Monument Valley, drive east on Highway #64 to Taos, then follow the Rio Grande 60 miles to Santa Fe. Interstate-40 from Santa Monica, California, through Albuquerque to Oklahoma, generally follows route of old Route #66. Interstate-40 will take you east to Memphis and Nashville.
Nov 8, 2012 4:17 AM
You are trying to do way too much. I also think you should reapportion your days a bit.
Skip xJoshua Tree.
You do not have time for xArches or MV.
Your first section should could like this:
3 nights xLA
1 night xVegas
1 night Grand Canyon
2 nights Zion
1 night Lone Pine, Bishop, etc. (simply a stopping point along the way)
3 nights xYosemite
4 nights xSF (with a day trip to xMonterey/xBig Sur)
On a map, roughly.
2 nights xNashville
2 nights xMemphis
1 night xClarksdale
1 night xNatchez
3 nights xNew Orleans
On a map, roughly.
5 nights xNYC
Mayge with a day trip to xPhiladelphia.
Book lodging for xYosemite and the Grand Canyon early. NOW is not too early.
Also book any lodging for the time around 4th of July early.
This involves two one-way car rentals. That usually adds to the costs. However, the xLA-xSF route is popular enough that it may be waived, and some foreign brokers or rental agency websites may waive it as well.
Nov 8, 2012 6:52 AM
4First of all welcome and glad to hear your enthusiasm for your upcoming visit.
Now, your interests are split between "nature" and Amrican culture specifically music history and literature. Also, you plan to travel for four weeks in June/July and you are arriving/departing from LAX.
You don't specifiy a budget other than, "We'll be in the low-end to medium spending range", but other hints in your post indicate you are tending towards the lower end.
Generally, your proposed itinerary is very expensive and far too rushed for four weeks, even to the point of undoable. Also, be aware that inland areas in the west such as Joshua Tree, Death Valley or the redrock canyon lands in Utah/Arizona such as Arches national Monument will be brutally hot in June/July with temperatures approaching 40 C.
So, to focus on your interests, I'd suggest:
-Break up your trip into exploration of two regions of the U.S. Given your interests I'd recommend basing out of Los Angeles and New Orleans. Although I normally would advise against renting a car to budget travellers, your diverse interests and desire to get the most out of your first trip to the U.S. make it worth considering.
1. Los Angeles for 2 1/2 weeks: Upon arrival either rent your pre-reserved car, or take a taxi to a hotel in Santa monica or Marina del Rey (both near the airport and on the ocean). From there you can visit Venice Beach and see some American wackiness first hand which will be in full swing in June/July. Do whatever else you want in L.A. (Disneyland, Universal Studios, Hollywood, hike in the Santa Monica Mountains) and then head north towards an Francisco and ultimately reaching Seattle. If driving take the coastal route (hwy 1). If not driving take the AMTRAK train.
Between L.A. and San Francisco you'd probably want to stop at Monterey where Steinbeck wrote Cannery Row (which is preserved as a tourist area) along with the excellent Monterey aquarium with its open-to-the ocean dsiplays of ocean wildlife. Just south of Monterey is the Big Sur, an outstanding nature area where steep mountains meet the Pacific Ocean.
From San Francisco, drive or AMTRAK to Portland, Oregon and the gothic/grunge scene there andformer hangout for Kerouac and crew. In summer there is a colorful Saturday Market downtown under the Burnside Bridge on weekends and large music festivals in waterfront Park next to the Satruday Market. Just outside of Portland is the superlative Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area with fern-lined canyons, waterfalls, and a 50-mile long hike n bike trail traversing the whole thing. Mt Hood outside of Portland has year-round skiing at the historic Timberline Lodge.
Between Portland to Seattle is Mt. St. Helens Volcanic Area to see the mountain and devestation from the 1980 eruption. From St Helens you could reach Mt Rainier National Park within an hour and a half or so, or wait and visit it from Seattle. Further north from Portland is Olympia, Washington - America's funkiest state capitol abounding with tattooed and body-pierced college students, organic beer, and a cozy downtown area centered on its harbor at the far southern edge of Puget Sound.
Seattle. Visit Pike Street Market of course, but nearby Seattle Center has the Experience Music Project, an interactive museum devoted to American rock especially Seattle's native son, Jimi Hendrix. Outside ot Seattle is Mt. Rainier National Park, the most glaciated moountain in the lower 48 United States. Or, to the west, is Olympic National Park with more glaciated peaks as well as the wild Pacific coastline to explore.
Either return to L.A. and fly to New Orleans, or fly out of Seattle to New Orleans (depending on rental car deal, one-way or not).
2. New Orleans for 1 1/2 weeks: It'll be hot and humid in N'Orleans, but - jazz and more jazz, and rock too. There are Gulf Coast wildlife refuges and beaches to get your nature fix. When you done in New Orleans I'd head for Austin Texas even though it is a long trip westward from New Orleans. You'll travel thourhg coastal lowlands and enter teh Hill Country of Texas when you reach Austin. Austin has a rich music scene of Texas style country, folk-rock, and rock n roll. Also, the surrounding Hill Country has lots of hiking and sights to see. Visit Barton Springs in Austin, Hippy Night at the Continental Club, salsa dancing at the Oasis, and don't miss a tray full of Texas Bar B Que. Outside of Austin at Llano is Enchanted Rock State Park, a huge dome of pink granite and a rock climber's dream adn more excellent Barb B Que at Anderson's in Llano.
Either fly back to L.A. from Austin, or return to New Orleans and fly back to L.A.
Nov 8, 2012 7:01 AM
5The four best (most effective) ways to save money while travelling in the US
1. Get a car when necessary (probably necessary in most/all the locations you mentioned).
2. Choose your hotel/motel/hostel carefully,
3. Wake up early, go to a supermarket (yes a supermarket, a grocery store at least) buy your breakfast and lunch
4. Avoid NYC
I'll eventually shape this into a top ten list (wink)
Nov 8, 2012 7:05 AM
Big Sur, of course, features in Kerouac's novel of the same name.
Some of these free walking tours of SF may interest you. There are some focused or architecture; others on film.
You'll want to see the Getty Museum in LA.
The major art museums of SF
Nov 8, 2012 7:06 AM
7OH, forgot to discuss budget in my lengthy post above.
For the two of you travelling budget and including ground transportation between destinations, eating, and staying in hostels or budget hotels figure around $125/day at a minimum. Add another $1,500 for both you to fly between west coast and New Orleans. Add another $35/day for a rental car and maybe more since you say you are in your twenties and some rental companies charge more for younger drivers and many rental companies charge extra for one-way rentals (dropping the car off somewhere other than where you rented it from).
Seattle has a couple of well located hostels in downtown - the Green Tortoise Hostel right across from Pike Street Market ($35/night for dorm rooms), or the City Hostel just a few blocks away fromn Pike Street in a much quieter neighborhood surrounded by jazz clubs, live-music bars and restaurants (around $50 maybe more for private or semi-private rooms).
Can't advise on other cities except that generally the cheaper hotels tend to be near airports which in turn tend to be a long ways from downtown areas. Although this is inconveneint, most airports are served by some form of public transportation (Portland has an excellent trolley for example, Seattle has a monorail from downtown to the airport area, San Francisco has the BART, but L.A. has only busses or taxis).
Nov 8, 2012 7:09 AM
8Oh i wouldn't know where to go for literature sites. A number of homes of famous writers have been turned into museums, but they are kind of minor locations and strike me as kind of boring (uninstructive).
The Harlem Renaissance was great, but what's the point of seeing some vacant dusty apartment? JMHO
If I wanted to do a literary tour I'd focus on university towns where you can attend lectures and poetry readings.
Edited by: LongIslandBob
Nov 8, 2012 8:46 AM
9One footnote to CascadeBob's interesting ideas ...
If you want to visit (and especially to hike a little) at the higher elevations of Olympic National Park or most of Mt. Rainier National Park, June (especially) and July (usually just the first half) can be distinctly early. The winter snowpack typically lingers into July - some years into August. While you would be fine in the rainforest valleys in Olympic anytime in the summer (except for getting rained on occasionally), the Hurricane Ridge area in Olympic and both Paradise and Sunrise areas at Rainier will be at least somewhat snowy through the first week or two of July most (but not all) years. A few nice trails (like Rampart Ridge Loop out of Longmire at Rainier) will be fine, but most of the good higher trails will likely involve some (or a lot) of floundering through snow heaps.
In addition, the mountain weather in Washington State is notoriously shaky until after the Fourth of July holiday (meaning that an early summer drive into the high country may provide nothing but a view of the inside of a cloud).
The southwestern natural-area option will likely provide better weather and hiking conditions at the time of your visit (and a different flavor of nature), but less of a music / literature / art admixture.
Nov 8, 2012 1:18 PM
- I agree with the folks above: You are going to be traveling very fast, probably too fast. In the California section, you listed 8 places in 10-12 days. Probably impossible if you don't have a car. Certainly too rushed for my tastes. I think you will want to map out exactly how far the distances are, and factor in your transportation times. (Use Google Maps.) Once you do that, you will probably be paring back your expectations of what you can see in that time frame.
- Your girlfriend will love New Orleans, and there are non-music-related things to do in Memphis and Nashville, so you guys will be fine.
- For vegetarian fare in each city, check out Happy Cow:
New York, L.A. and San Francisco she will have no problem finding vegetarian fare. If you don't find a vegetarian or vegetarian-friendly restaurant in the other cities, look for Asian (especially Thai and Chinese), and Indian is also good. I could see her avoiding the BBQ, but try and talk her into a shrimp po boy in New Orleans -- she'll be glad you did.
- In most of these cities, they have what we call "alternative newspapers," which are usually very good resources for arts and entertainment such as live music, museums, etc. (as well as restaurants). Here are some examples:
(For others, search on "alternative newspaper" or "alternative weekly" for each city.)
Use the website www.hostelworld.com to search for both hostels and lower-budget hotels. If you have a car, sometimes the hotels like the chain Day's Inn can be affordable -- they are usually located well outside the city center, but can be quite cheap.
Hope this helps.
Nov 8, 2012 6:05 PM
Nov 8, 2012 6:29 PM
12Actually – just quickly: why is everybody disregarding Joshua Tree National Park? It's a particular point of interest for my partner and I'm quite interested also. Is it too far out of the way or just underwhelming in comparison to other National Park's like Zion? Also we're from Adelaide, South Australia so while heat is obviously uncomfortable, it's probably not as a big an issue for us as say a Scandinavian couple!
Nov 8, 2012 6:34 PM
Nov 9, 2012 6:05 AM
14A warning about vegetarian cuisine in the southeastern U.S. (item #2 in your original post). In that region, most leafy greens and legumes will be cooked with some kind of salty pork meat. If you girlfriend is OK with picking the meat out of her food, she can have a "vegetarian" meal of beans, greens, and cornbread--classic southern cooking. Otherwise her best bet will be fish and shellfish, with a quick inquiry as to whether lard, bacon fat, etc. is used during the preparation.
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