Oh one more thing, All the major cities in the US are alive and kicking all night long. And are all really safe at any time of day and night. Most likely you will be staying at well known hotels located in busines/touristy areas. All cities have bad neighborhoods, with drugs, prostitutes, drive by shootings, etc.. But there is also nothing there in those neighborhoods that you would necessarily want to see. That really is the root of the problem in America's inner city. There is no opportunity and no jobs. Just gangs, violence, and drugs. So you will have no reason to travel into them. Unless your crazy. It's not like you'll be walking along a well lit street full of restaurants and shops at night and all of sudden wind up in some crack-infested gang-laden dark alley. Doesn't work that way. You will quickly realize when you are starting to wander off the beaten path at night in any American city. Also a lot of crime here, violent or not, is domestic. Meaning the criminal and victim know each other. An angry husband, a psycho boyfriend, a deranged aquaintence. No all crime, but a lot. I'm not an expert, but that's my take...
I would really like to check out all of the US's major cities but it makes it very hard in one trip when youve got LA on the West coast and NY on the East coast but if i like what i see i will surely come back further down the track to have a look at what i cant see this time
One idea for you Matt- You could plan to stick to one coast on this visit and go to the other coast the next time.
What would you like out of the trip ?
If it's history of the US then, yes, the east coast is far more historical, founding fathers and all that. West coast has history too, more related to "first nation people" (american indian), gold rush, the 60's and the like.
If music and arts are your thing- the east and west rival each other- though in fine arts the east has a run, in contemporary arts, the west has a tiny leg up.
If weather and outdoors are your thing- the west coast is considered one of the five Mediterranean climates on the planet- others are the western cape in South Africa, central Chile, the coastal areas of southern & western Australia and the Mediterranean basin. Time of year will influence your decisicion about weather... if you love snow and are coming in the winter, east coast is the gig.
I agree w/ bryangrey - particularly about Boston.
One other rambling thought- I recall reading a book (title escapes me) about the wave of tourism that first arrived in the newly opened Prauge. The author observed all the Americans tourists were looking for "familiar American things" and could not see the "totally Prauge things" about his culture. Sometimes, you can choose to "break your eye" and go after things that are culturally unfamiliar. That could mean that you go to the petroglyphs (sp?) of the Anasazi, or the Pacific Northwest native peoples culture and keep going to Alaska, which is an amazing, vast, untame environ... It could be the Grand Canyon's massive expanse, or the remnants of Antebellum in the south. This is one of the priveledges of travel- just grist for the mill, as they say!