Hey there everyone, my boyfriend and I are thinking about travelling around America next year for 3 months. We would ideally like to rent a RV but are not sure if this would wind up being an very expensive option, so if anyone has advice on this or a better option please let us know :D
Also we will probably be starting from San Fran and working our way from there, so if anyone has some advice on where to go and what to see it would be brilliant
Well, gas prices are high here compared to what they have been (they are about $4 per American gallon currently--which is the equivalent of about 3.3 liters). This is still much cheaper than in Europe, though--but keep in mind the distances are much greater.
For what to see starting from SF--with a focus on the northern part of the US--here's my suggestion:
Head north from SF up US Highway 101 and detour over to Sonoma to visit the nice central square and the cheese factory, along with the wineries either here or in Napa Valley next door. One really nice place to go is to the Domaine Carneros winery run by Tattinger, which gives great tours and has wonderful tastings of food and wine on their terrace.
Here's a link:
Cut back towards Highway 101 after finishing with the wineries and head north towards towards the Oregon border. Skip Eureka (which is old and run-down on the north, and all commercial on the south)--and spend your time stopping at spots either north or there or south of there. Go through the Redwoods National Forest and stop at the Trees of Mystery (it's worth it)--and take the 2 hour tour. Cut east on US Highway 199 to Grants Pass through the redwoods, and then take Interstate 5 south to Ashland, Oregon, which is a gorgeous town with a summer Shakespeare festival.
From Ashland, go NE to Crater Lake--here's a link:
From here go north to Bend, Oregon, stopping at the volcanic park, then cut west on Highway 26 past Mt. Hood to Portland, Oregon.
Next head north into Washington and stop at the Mount St. Helens tourist center--and then go to Mount St. Helens itself. Continue north to visit Olympic National Park (the only rainforest in the US), and then go east to Seattle.
There are lots of great things to see in Seattle--the Puget Sound (the Bay), the Space Needle (and Experience Music Project at its base and the Science Fiction Museum, also at the base). Go to the Japanese Gardens, go to the restaurants on Lake Union and in Kirkland alongside Lake Washington. Drive out to Snoqualmie and see the Snoqualmie Falls and tour the small, interesting cities. Head north from here to Vancouver--which I'll pick up on in my next post.
Calcruzer, you're absolutely right. That drive is a heck of a lot of fun.
Once you get to Seattle, make sure you stop by some of our great brewpubs and coffee shops. Hit up Caffe Vivace, Victrola Coffee, or bauhaus for the best caffe latte you've ever had. Most of the brewpubs will be a winner, so find one close to where you are staying if you like a good brew.
Head on over to Alki Beach (in West Seattle) for one of the best views of the city. Drive north on 99 through downtown for a great view of the Puget Sound. Don't waste time downtown unless you absolutely must see the guys throwing fish
Another fun thing near Seattle is Snoqualmie Falls, about 30-45 minutes east of Seattle on interstate 90. It's beautiful most times of the year, even during the winter.
What time of the year are you thinking of taking the trip?
Before heading across to Vancouver, take a ferry through the San Juan Islands over to Vancouver Island and the city of Victoria, which is extremely scenic and has great shopping. It's the most like an English city of any city in North America--here's a picture or two:
and it has a beautiful garden closeby called the Butchart Gardens:
and you should visit "Butterfly World", which is just down the road from the gardens.
From the gardens go a short ways north to the ferry that takes you to Vancouver. Visit Vancouver including its ski resorts on the north side of town.
Once back in the US head east to the Columbia River gorge (south of Kennewick, WA), then go east to Spokane, and through the town of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Go east to Glacier National Park, then south to Yellowstone National Park, and Grand Tetons National Park. Make sure you see the Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone Falls, the steaming Midway Geyser Basin area (my personal favorite--especially if you go there when its really cold, since you can stand in the middle of this area while it is snowing around you on all sides and feel perfectly warm and comfortable--which actually happened to me when I last visited. I had to leave since the buffalo were all coming into the area to get warm also).
Head east from here to Custer National Battleground Monument, then on east to the Badlands and to Mount Rushmore, then head south/southwest towards Denver, cut west through Vail, and then on south to Taos, New Mexico; and to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Cut north back into Durango, Colorado and take the old steam train roundtrip from here to Silverton, Colorado. Cut west to Moab, Utah and see Arches National Park, then cut south to Monument Valley, and then west to Paige, Arizona and visit the south end of Lake Powell. I suggest you try to stay at the Wahweap Lodge as long as it is not the middle of winter:
Here's a picture gallery:
From here go south to the Grand Canyon or west to Bryce Canyon and maybe Zion. If you go south, head through Las Vegas, then through Death Valley and Yosemite and back to San Francisco. If you go north, cut north to Park City and Salt Lake City, then west to Reno, Nevada, then go to Lake Tahoe and back to San Francisco.
Both are great routes.
[ Edit: Edited on May 24, 2008, at 9:39 PM by Calcruzer ]