Just booked my RTW ticket (imagine a guy with the biggest smile in the world - thats what I look like when I say that!) and first stop is New York for Xmas and New Year. Then its a 30 day open Amtrak train ticket to get to LA for my flight out on Feb 14th. I have to go to Arkansas to see some relatives thats about it. Just wondering what the places I definately have to see are??? Any ideas welcome. Also my hair is kinda scruffy do think I should get a haircut??? I'm not sure about the average US citizen opinion on an English guy with scruffy hair... And its starting to get in my eyes, annoying for all sorts of activities...
People in Arkansas may not like the scruffy look, but you will be fine in NY and California. In my opinion the the East and West coasts are the places to see. If you can stay a while in San Francisco, you will not be disappointed.
If you are going from New York down to Arkansas, I suggest a stop off in Washington, D.C. or Nashville, then between Arkansas and LA, the places to visit are Santa Fe, Grand Canyon, or Las Vegas. The problem is the train goes through Flagstaff, which is still about 50 miles from the Grand Canyon--so unless you plan to rent a car, you're out of luck on this one.
Enjoy--and let us know how your trip goes.
Amtrak has a shuttle that goes up to the Grand Canyon from Flagstaff, so that's not a problem at all.
There's a very pretty little town in northwest Arkansas called Eureka Springs. They have literally hundreds of bed and breakfasts scattered throughout the town. During the winter, it might be a bit hard to get in and out of if the weather turns bad (they don't get much snow, but ice can be a problem). It is very pretty, though. There is a Civil War battle site not far from there.
Chicago is a fun city, but maybe not so much in January! Lots to do and see if you don't mind the cold. There are two lines of the Southwest Chief on Amtrak. They both start in Chicago, but one bypasses St. Louis, the other is a detour that goes through St. Louis. (BTW, the train station in downtown St. Louis is a dump. Use the Kirkwood station if you are getting on/off or are going that way). If you take the detour one, St. Louis has a lot of fun things, not to mention most of it is either free or just really cheap. The train between St. Louis and Kansas City goes through the wine valley (two trains per day, so take the morning train out, and catch the evening train to keep going). It reminds a lot of people of parts of Germany. Makes sense, because it was settled by German families, so you'll see names like "Blumenhoff" or "Hermann." From KC, it's just one line of the Southwest Chief that goes all the way out to LA. I think it's the most comfortable way to travel in the US, although I'd get a blanket because it can be a bit chilly overnight, and their blankets don't do much for me.
There is also a line that goes from Chicago-St. Louis down to San Antonio, which is a great city to visit in the winter. It's very pedestrian oriented--the Riverwalk, the Alamo, several different old missions, La Villita.
I'd also take the train up the west coast to Seattle. A friend of mine used to work on that line and said it was very beautiful.
If you're passing through the midwest, let me know! Glad to help out if I can. I used to take the train all the time when I was in school.
I saw a picture of your shaggy hair, only cut it if it bothers you... it's adorable. No one will mind.
Thanks for your help guys, Competely forgot about the Grand Canyon! All the rest sounds plausible within 30 days, not sure I would trust myself in Vegas though. Need to survive for a year... On the subject of my hair (I'm just so vain) I went and had a hair cut today. So hopefully I am adorable, and it is not just my hair! Only a month to go now and I cant wait I'm sure USofA will be great... it is though just the begining. So heres looking forward to the middle and the end. Oh nearly forgot Bud isn't the only beer??? I just came back from Germany and their local beers are fantastic... Any local brews I should look out for??? I'm not an alcholic btw just like the odd one or ten.
Google these local beers.
Northeast -- Rolling Rock
Texas -- Shiner
San Francisco -- Anchor Steam, Gordon & Biersch
I have recently returned from 3 months travelling of the USA and like you, also had a 30 day unlimited Amtrak pass.
A caveat, be careful on some of the bigger routes as delays and holdups are commonplace (I guess due to the sheer size of the routes.
Here are some examples of my delays,
Washington DC to Buffalo, NY - 8 hours late
Cleveland, Ohio to Chicago, Illinois - 5 hours late
New Orleans, Louisiana to San Antonio, Texas - 12 hours late!! (Total journey took 29 hours)
Although to be fair the route from Chicago to New Orleans via Memphis was spot on.
My advice is to make sure you arent cutting it fine with regards to flights, trust me and get there a day early to be safe.
ps Chicago, New Orleans, Austin, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco and Hermosa Beach (just south of LA) were all great places to visit in a fantastic country.
Looks like I better get some good books... Thanks for the heads up.