The wife and I have booked our RTW.
We leave in May 2005 and our route is London - LA - Fiji - Rarotonga - Auckland - Singapore - (overland) Bangkok - Delhi - Home.
We have been to the far east as tourists, so quite happy with what we may experience but have never been to USA.
The more we read into LA the less we want to go (or at least use this as a stop on our RTW). We only said we would go there as it seemed convenient at the time of booking.
After reading Lonely Planet/Rough Guides it appears to be a great place to stop in if you want mugging/shooting/robbing/etc/etc. Although I amsure it has more to offer
We were going to spend approx 2 wks in USA. The idea being we get there travel around a bit either up the coast or further inland, but we are seriously considering now to just fly into LA and then straight back out again.
We dont want to spend too long in USA as its too expensive (compared to the far east, although i know its cheaper generally than uk).
So what can people suggest?
Is it worth staying for a while? Where can we get to - thats worth going to without spending a fortune on travel costs?
I have not been impressed with LA itself, though California is beautiful. Head up North to San Francisco and visit fisherman's wharf just for the pure touristy-ness of it (plus the good seafood - Swan Oyster House highly recommended). Head to Yosemite to see some awesome nature. Lake Tahoe is beautiful. You have to check out Las Vegas just for the sheer audicity of building it in the desert, though only book a day or two there. Hoover Dam is cool. Head to San Diego for some beautiful beaches and sun.
I think you could do 2 weeks, just get out of town. If you have the money, rent a car. It'll free you up to bug out of the next place when you want.
As someone who has lived in California for over 40 years (LA and San Diego area for 30 years, San Francisco and San Jose area for 10 years), I might be able to help you out.
First thing you need to know is that you won't get mugged, beaten, and shot in LA unless you hang out in the ghetto, which is where you'd probably get mugged anywhere in a large city.
As far as things to do and see--go to the Huntington Library in San Marino, the Los Angeles Arboreteum in Arcadia (close by to the Huntington Library), the J. Paul Getty Art Museum in Bel Air, site-see the celebrity homes in Beverly Hills, Brentwood, and Bel Air. Got to a television show taping in Hollywood, go to Disneyland in Anaheim, go to Seven Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, go to the beach at Redondo Beach, Huntington Beach, Santa Monica, or Malibu.
There are lots of other things I would suggest in California and the surrounding areas, but since you only have two weeks, let me give you my short list.
(1) Go to Las Vegas at least for one to two days--there is no other city anywhere like it anywhere else in the world--nothing else is even close--I guarantee it. Hang out at the pool at a large casino (see the Travel Channel's list of best pools in Las Vegas for suggestions) and go to a good show (such as Danny Gans, "O", Celine Dion or Elton John). Unfortunately, it's about a 5-hour drive to Las Vegas through a giant desert, but it's only a one-hour flight each way and airfares are cheap if you take Southwest Airlines (sometimes as low as $38 RT if you book early). See the volcano at the Mirage, the pirate ship battle at Treasure Island, the indoor gondola rides at the Venician, the pyramids at the Luxor, the wave pool at Mandalay Bay, Julius Caesar and Cleopatra at Caesar's Palace, the Arc de Triumph and Eiffel Tower (American version) at the Paris hotel, or the world's largest fountains at the Bellagio. Oh, did I mention all of this is located within 2 square miles of each other? There are over 200,000 hotel rooms and 85 pools within a four block area there.
(2) Try to get to San Francisco if possible. The reason I say this is you can combine a trip to SF with one to Monterey and one to see the redwoods all in one. (Note that there are redwoods half way between the two cities along side Highway 17 south of San Jose). Also, if you have a couple of extra hours Big Basin Redwood Park is located close-by. This is actually the oldest redwood park in the entire country. This will save you a trip all the way over to Yosemite and Sequoia or to the north part of the state. I should point out that I live in the redwoods south of San Jose, and because of the work and I do I can live anywhere in the country, and this is where I choose to be. Once again, San Francisco is about a 6 to 7 hour drive north of Los Angeles--so if you plan to go here, make Southwest Airlines your friend and book early for a cheap fare.
Things to see in San Francisco include Fisherman's Wharf, Pier 39, the cable cars, Union Square and shopping, Barry Bonds (the world's best baseball player ever!!) and an eclectic nightlife. Also note that San Francisco gets real cold at night--especially during the summer months (more than the winter months believe it or not)--so pack something warm. In Monterey, go to the Aquarium, see the 17-mile drive, go to Carmel. North of SF and south of Monterey are great wineries--so winery tours are really popular--just don't drink and drive (or have a designated driver along).
Anyway, that's the main things--Mission Bay in San Diego is also nice--but I think I've already suggested about 4 weeks worth of stuff--so go have fun.