Well my trip to the US is paid for, all I have to do is wait until September Am going to New York for a week, staying with cousins then onto San Francisco for 11 days, also staying with cousins. I have already gotten some ideas for places to see in California (Carmel/Monterey, Yosemite, Napa Valley etc.) anyone here think they have a 'must see' location in either California or New York? Will be doing research of my own but this site has lots to offer too.
Maybe Lake Tahoe and/or Death Valley to add some natural stuff?
Since you are over 21, you should try to fit a day or two at Las Vegas in--and then the Grand Canyon (not too far away and tours are available)--but this place will be scorching hot in September--so keep this in mind.
If you are definitely looking just for stuff in California, let me (as a California native) suggest a few places:
Winchester Mystery House in San Jose is one of the more unusual places around here. In Santa Cruz, the beach boardwalk is the place to go, but go early in September, because after school starts back up (around September 15th) the place starts looking like a ghost town. Also, at the harbor just east of town you can go out for a sail, either to see the migrating whales, or just to enjoy a bit of pizza and wine while going up and down the coastline.
In Monterey, there is a fantastic aquarium--I strongly suggest you take four hours or so--and it's right next to the touristy shops and restaurants there anyway--and the sales outlets are less than two blocks away.
If you like to golf, there are fantastic places all along the Monterey Bay from Santa Cruz to Monterey/Carmel. Pebble Beach is the best-known, but at the cost of $250 per round, you might want to consider going to Del Monte (Monterey) or De la Veaga (Santa Cruz) instead where the costs are closer to $40/round plus $25 for a golf cart.
Check out the small village of Capitola near the beach, or if heading farther south--go to Cambria (near Hearst Castle). Speaking of Hearst Castle, make sure you go there and buy your ticket on ticketmaster or ticketron early--since the tickets in the summer sell out weeks in advance.
If you have a car, spend the $8.50 or so and drive the famous 17-mile drive in the Monterey/Carmel area--it is absolutely worth the cost.
In San Francisco, go to Union Square for the shopping, then go one block east, turn left on Grant Street and drive through Chinatown up to Little Italy--get on Columbus Street and drive up to Fisherman's Wharf. Or just park at Union Square and get on the cable car to do the same thing (but these are really packed in the summer--and cabs are cheap in SF). There are tons of excellent restaurants in this area--I suggest you try the Crab Fettucini at Calzone's with a glass of Cabernet.
There are lots of excellent wineries north of SF--in the Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley, and Russian River Valley. One of the best places to start is at the central square in Sonoma--it has its own cheese factory--and is fairly centrally located. The old mission there dates from about 1823 or so.
In southern California, consider going to Solvang (a danish village) 75 miles north of Santa Barbara, then go to Santa Barbara--and in the south go to San Diego. The "Old Town" section of San Diego is great, as is the Mission Bay area for sailing, or the "Gaslight area" for restaurants and clubbing.
Lots of people like to go across to Tijuana in Mexico for a visit--although the real party place is about 20 km farther south along the coast in Rosarita Beach. Like I said about Santa Cruz, the place is packed in late August, almost dead in late September. Right next to Rosarita Beach is Fox Studios, where they filmed "Titanic" and "Master and Commander".
Back in LA, go to the Huntington Library (actually not a library at all). It's a person's house which has acres and acres of varieties of different gardens (Japanese, desert, rose, etc.) and has a wonderful art collection in the main house. It was owned by the guy who owned the first railroad that connected up LA with the east coast.
If you get to LA in early August (seems unlikely from what you said), go to Laguna Beach and attend one of the three art exhibits that run all day and late into the night. It's hard to describe these--kind of like going to an outdoor concert/art museum at a college that extends over 5 acres with 80 booths of completely unique and unusual stuff, where music is playing from who knows where while you climb hills and mountains to get to each different person's separate exhibit area.
Lastly, I suppose I should mention Disneyland and Universal Studios--the best known amusement parks in LA--and there is also Knotts Berry Farm in Buena Park and Seven Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia. Keep in mind that LA is really spread out though (over 90 km from north to south), so plan where you want to go in LA with the distance in mind--and understanding that being in LA can mean 45 km north of downtown or 45 km south of downtown.
Anyway, enjoy your trip--it should be a good one.
Calcruzer I think I would have to take a year off to get through that lot However you have given me some great ideas and I thank you very much. I'm California dreamin' and it's winter here.
If you are interested in some beaches, there are some nice ones north of San Francisco. Dillon beach is small, but I always have fun there. Also there is Bodega Bay. There are some campgrounds there as well. I wouldn't recommend camping at Dillon however, its not very tent friendly (mostly big trailers). Also, the drive up 101 to northern California and Oregon is very beautiful!
I'm sure your cousins will be able to help you out in San Francisco
on what to see.
Here' my suggestion, also: Muir Woods, just north of the city - it
is a redwood forest (world's largest trees). If time permits, skip
Muir Woods, and drive farther north to Humboldt State Park-- it
is beautiful and the redwood trees are unbelievable. The road through
the park is called 'Avenue of the Giants' but there are a lot of good
side roads, too. Check for these online.
Don't miss Scoma's Seafood Restaurant in San Francisco!
Have fun and stay safe!