West Coast and East Coast USA - late January

Travel Forums North America West Coast and East Coast USA - late January

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1. Posted by cfkam (Budding Member 9 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

I'm currently planning a big approx. 20 day USA trip and looking for help on decent budget accommodation and transport pointers or good deals/websites for good tours.

We're going to LA for about a week with the intention of seeing these as a minimum:
Universal Studios
Hollywood/Mann's Chinese Theatre, etc.
San Fransisco
Grand Canyon
Las Vegas

How hard is it to travel to the last 3 places from LA? How long will it take by bus - is it better by plane?

We're also then going to New York where besides the local NY attractions, I also want to go to Niagara Falls and Washington DC.

So, if you have any good budget accommodation places that are:
a) safe
b) under $100 a night
c) clean and have nice people

or if you know of the best way to travel to these places - e.g. is plane or bus better?

Please do tell us about it and give some contact details if possible!

(an Aussie on her way to a big UK/Europe trip for 2 years following this US trip!!)

2. Posted by stevieh (Respected Member 615 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Hi Mags,
I did exactly that 'triangular' trip in Feb '02, and just about managed it all within 20 (ish) days, although we messed up a diversion via Yosemite and didn't see a lot.
It's quite a distance to cover, so work out how long you want to be in each place and how you're going to get there.
There were 7 of us and we rented an RV - not cheap but actually good value for 7, as it also provided transport as well as accommodation!
If you don't particularly want to drive along the coast (Pacific Coast Highway) you could always fly from LA to San Fran, saving you a day or two. You could also fly from SF to Vegas, again saving a couple of days. It depends on whether you're the sort who enjoys the travel experience as much as the 'being there'.

Bear in mind that most people find Hollywood a big let-down. It might be nice to say you've been, but Hollywood Boulevard is just another busy street with a grand name, and apart from Mann's, there's little to be bothered with (trust me, we had a Star Wars fanatic with us who knew which cafe George Lucas first discussed his idea in, and even he didn't rate the place!)

San Francisco was a place I felt I would like to spend much longer than the 1.5 days we managed (Alcatraz is a must), and Vegas was fantastic, even though I didn't think I was a Vegas 'type'. We were there for 5 days and it was great fun.
Barstow is little more than a fuel stop between Yosemite and Vegas, but has an interesting RV park, and seems to be mentioned on lots of LA-based TV series'!
The Grand Canyon is a day's drive from Vegas (and back) so we didn't have time, instead choosing to fly from Vegas over it instead - specta cular but not too cheap I'm afraid.

As for the next leg, remember that Niagara Falls itself is a tacky tourist trap - I know, I have a friend there and even he admitted that, when we stayed with him! It is fantastic to see the falls themselves though, but you must take the short drive to Niagara-on-the-Lake, a very pretty little town not far away, which was in fact the first capital of Canada.

3. Posted by pranavc (Respected Member 318 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Hi Mags,
Give Washington D.C. about 2-3 days. I would recommend staying at Hostelling International. It is in a safe part of downtown. I believe it costs about $30 per night. Hope this helps.


4. Posted by jla (Budding Member 23 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

I agree with stevieh regarding Hollywood Blvd. Not much there. If you are interested in the Hollywood thing for LA, I would recommend checking out Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. You can see where the stars and people w/ $$ hang out and spend cash at boutiques. (not my thing) There is always Melrose Place in LA - a funky little place. Santa Monica Promenade is a great way to spend an evening shopping and eating. If you have time, you might want to explore some of the beaches: Redondo, Manhatten, Venice. Btw, LA traffic is brutal even by CA standard!

Southwest Airline usually has some pretty inexpensive deals. Check it out on line: www.southwest.com. Instead of flying into SFO, you would fly into OAK, which is always the safer bet anyway since there's rarely flight delays during the winter month. OAK is just a city or BART hop away. You can BART into SFO. Don't bother driving in SF - not only is it confusing but the parking is difficult and super expensive. Or, if you do drive, leave your car at the hotel unless you want to visit the outskirts of SF, then car is good. SF is the only city in CA with a fairly extensive public transportation network and cab system.

Places that is absolutely wonderful in SF:
-The New Ferry Building along Embarcadero, go on Sat. and you'll get to patron a Farmer's Market. Also, can walk along the embarcadero.
- Might be too cold and windy in late jan, but you can try to rent a bike at fisherman's warf. Bike towards Golden Gate Bridge - fantastic scenery.
- Check out Golden Gate Park and the de young museum
- I also like the legion of honor museum - very pretty view.
- Coit if you time, nice view on top of the tower.
- Night tour of Alcatraz (though a local, haven't had the chance to explore it yet, but heard good things)
- Eat, eat, eat in SF!

Anyway, hope this helps you. If you need more info, feel free to ping.


5. Posted by jla (Budding Member 23 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Oh I forgot to mention, if you are going to be in the SF area and like the outdoors, I would suggest going to Pt. Reyes National Seashore Park. Beautiful drive north of San Francisco. This needs to be a day trip. Have fun!

6. Posted by jla (Budding Member 23 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

I meant to say that Pt. Reyes can be a day trip from SF, but I believe there is a hostel in Pt. Reyes, which you can probably fine online. I haven't stayed there myself since I prefer just camping.

7. Posted by cfkam (Budding Member 9 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Thank you all for your help!

We have now decided not to go to NY as we would rather spend the time to get to see the places properly, so since California has so much to offer (especially in terms of mediating the weather between Sydney and London in January), we will stick to a longer stay in Cali.

SO I am just wondering if you know of any reputable travel companies that offer tours for LA/San Diego/Las Vegas/Grand Canyon/San Fransisco or most of these cities at least?

thanks again, this website is really helpful.

8. Posted by Redondo (Budding Member 9 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Quoting cfkam

San Fransisco
Grand Canyon
Las Vegas

How hard is it to travel to the last 3 places from LA? How long will it take by bus - is it better by plane?

San Francisco is a 6-9 hour drive, depending on if you want beautiful and slow (Hwy. 1) or ugly and fast (I-5). Flying would save you 1-2 hours door-to-door.

The Grand Canyon is a ten-hour drive! Best bet is to fly into Flagstaff or combine it with your travel to Las Vegas. As for LV, that's a short flight or a five-hour drive. Just be sure not to drive there Friday evening or come back Sunday...unless you like heavy traffic!