I am planning on going on a 5 week holiday to the USA. Leaving on the 4th of September and leaving for home on the 9th of October.
I've already visited LA (3 days) NY(days) & Washington DC(2days)
Struggling to work out where to start first as In am arriving in LA initially as it is closer from Australia compared to the East Coast
Places I want to see are as followed but would be more than happy with suggestions
Any assistance would be fantastic!!!
Are you flying in and out of LA? This would effect the order of your stops. If you could I would try and make it to the San Genero Feast in Little Italy in NYC. It is for the whole month of September and best seen at night.
Visit Niagra Falls from the Canada side. It is prettier at that time of year. You can easily drive their from the New york side. It is also a perfect time of year for the fall foliage.
New Orleans is always a fun time... Don't miss Burbon street and really investigate where you stay. Many of the hotels still suffer from hurricane damage so you might want to check out recent reviews. If you are staying in a hostel India House Hostel is awesome. It is not far from all the activities you could ever want to see. I would try to arrange to be there during the Jazz fest if possible and if you like sea food you are in luck!
Memphis- I am not sure if you are an Elvis fan but whether you are or not Graceland is an awesome place. I dragged my two friends there and they are not fans (unlike myself) and had a blast. He had such odd taste that walking through his house is an experience. Other then that Memphis is not the best area it is surrounded by ghetto so be careful where you stay. If in Tennessee I would try to make a stop in Nashville to visit the Grand Ole Opry. Again if your not a fan of country music there is still much to be seen.
I am not that familiar with the other ares you will be visiting. I know Boston is about a three hour drive out of NYC and it is not in the same direction as Niagra Falls.
Sorry its a bit scattered. Any other questions feel free to send me a personal message
I'm not sure why Oklahoma is on your list - I wouldn't go out of my way to drive through that state. Not much to see. Actually, I can't think of anything there to see.
One day in Memphis should be sufficient. See Graceland and eat some BBQ. Look for a hotel in West Memphis and you'll have a better chance at getting a decent price and a safe neighborhood.
San Francisco is one of my favorite cities. Do all the fun tourist things like Alcatraz, Pier 39, Chinatown, Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park, etc. The Red Victorian is a very affordable hotel in the famous Haight Ashbury part of the city. The hotel is very funky and in a great location www.redvic.com. My 20 year old daughter and her boyfriend stayed there and loved it.
Other than Oklahoma, I think your itinerary sounds wonderful. You have a lot of driving ahead of you, but that's a great way to see a whole lot of the country!
Thanks for both responses.
Have decided to start in San Fran first. Seems most logical and then make my way down to LA.
Unfornately I wont be driving from state to state but rather a combination of flight & amtrak.
With this in my what are yours thoughts on my current choice of places to visit considering I will not be drivng?
Well I would fly from L.A. to Chicago first and then use Amtrak from there and I would try to end in a large city (such as New York) to get the best flight back home. Its really going to be tricky due to the way your locations are scattered about. I would def take a bus between Philly, New York, Boston and Niagra Falls although geographically it would be hard. I would do Philly first then bus into New york (prob about 80 dollars) then if you go to Chinatown in NYC you can get a bus that leaves early in the morning and takes you to and from Boston for the day for one dollar. Then once back in NYC I would try to either get a bus or a quick flight up to the Falls. I have never been to Australia and have no idea how their train system works but I know Amtrak doesn't run as frequently or to as many places as the Eurail does in Europe. I know you can get a train that goes Chicago, Memphis and New Orleans but I don't know how you would get to Oklahoma from and of those locations.
I see you mention using Amtrak - choose your train trips carefully! They are usually very long and boring and my experience had many stops/delays/route changes that just made the whole thing a little frustrating!
IMHO, Philadelphia and Chicago are pretty dull places, and there are certainly many other much nicer locations you could be including (I'm a Philly native). We have fantastic mountain destinations in the US (most of Colorado and northern New Mexico - Steamboat Springs, Aspen, Pike's Peak and Santa Fe). In the West, outside of Reno - Lake Tahoe is beautiful both winter and summer, in the Pacific NW Oregon has fantastic rivers full of salmon and sturgeon with whitewater trips and waterfalls all over the state. Puget Sound (Seattle) is one of the most interesting urban locations in the world. Sorry, but Philly and Chicago are not in the same league!
I would take Amtrak's routes as follows, with places to stop off indicated:
Go to San Francisco via plane, then take BART (subway) to the city--and later to Oakland, where you get on the Amtrak "Coastal Starlight" route. Take this towards Los Angeles, but get off at Paso Robles and switch to the "Pacific Surfliner". Taking this allows you to get off at some of the nice small towns like Paso Robles, Solvang, and Santa Barbara--and then continue on easily since there are something like 12 trains a day along this route (versus 1 or 2 for the Coastal Starlight). Also, this train allows you to go down to San Diego and back, which the other one doesn't. I suggest you do this, because San Diego is a great town--and a good one for tourists with a lively central "gaslight district" and Spanish "Old Town".
Then from Los Angeles, take the "Sunset Limited" from Los Angeles to New Orleans. Stop along the way in San Antonio and see the Riverwalk and the Alamo. In New Orleans, see Bourbon street, the French Market, and the Jackson Square area.
From New Orleans, take the "City of New Orleans" north to Memphis (go see Beale Street and Graceland), then on to Chicago. From Chicago, take either the "Cardinal/Hoosier State" or the "Capital Limited" to Washington, DC. Be sure to stop here as there is so much to see--and even the train station is a work of art (and just two blocks from the US Capitol building). (Although I see you were already there for 2 days)
Now take the "Cardinal/Hoosier State" north to Philadelphia, and then either this train or the "Keystone" to New York. Take the "Northeast Regional" to Boston. If you want, take the "Empire Service" up and back to Niagara Falls. The Falls themselves are great, but the surrounding city is a tourist trap in my opinion (on both the US and Canadian side of the border), so this is not a mandatory trip in my view.
I'm not a Chicago or Philadelphia knowledgeable person--other than to say go see Independence Hall in Philly--so you might want to get more info on what to see in those towns from others.
Purchase a "USA Rail Pass" for this trip. The 30 day one sounds best for you. Currently it runs $579 for an adult and as long as you stay on the trains I mentioned, there is no additional fee (other than for food and drink you buy on the trains). Like in Europe, you can take you own food onto the trains with you if you want.
Also, to save money, consider sleeping on the train on long stretches (for example, the trip from Los Angeles to San Antonio takes about 31 hours (this will probably be the longest stretch of your trip).
Also, I forgot to mention. Plan your trip around being on certain trains on certain dates. While the trains in the east run most everyday, trains that go clear across the country (like the Sunset Limited) usually only run 3 or 4 days a week. Right now (in the winter) this train only leaves Los Angeles on Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday (all trains leave at 2:30 PM). This also means you get into San Antonio late at night (it arrives at 9:30 PM the day after you leave Los Angeles)==and then are "stranded there" until the next train out 2-3 days later that goes on to New Orleans.
Also, be aware that your USA Rail Pass isn't good on all trains. For example, it can't be used on the "Air Train" or on the "Acela Express".
P.S. I actually rode the "Sunset Limited" from LA to New Orleans a long time ago when I was a kid. I used to hate riding trains, but this one was the exception. The route coming into New Orleans is especially dramatic and scenic.
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