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planning usa trip

seeking advice
11 years ago, June 30th 2009 No: 1 Msg: #77914  
hi guys !!
we are planing to travel usa form march to may (3 months) 2010 and as this is our first adventure we are seeking advice to help us fine tune our plans.
here is our rough itinerary, is just a basic plot of our route open to variation if any one could offer suggestions as to "must see" destinations on the way and if our time frame is realistic ? also we are planing to stay mainly in hostels and couchsurf obviously to save $$ on accomodation but mainly because we want to experience the culture. we plan to hire a car to travel.

oh by the way we are from australia 😊

flt sydney to washington, hire a car & drive (allow 2 weeks this section)
-new york
-niagra falls
fly washington to miami hire car & drive(allow 3 weeks this section)
-st petersburg
-panama city
-new orleans
fly nashville to LA (allow 7 weeks this section)
-laguna beach
-san diego
-palm springs
-las vegas
-grand canyon
-lake tahoe
-san fransisco
- seattle
-follow coast back to LA

also if any one could offer estimate on how much $$ we should budget for this trip ?

thanks guys
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11 years ago, July 1st 2009 No: 2 Msg: #78084  
if your headed north out of washington in march, expect to freeze your tails off. Reply to this

11 years ago, July 7th 2009 No: 3 Msg: #78607  
thank you for the heads up SCOFFLAW. Reply to this

11 years ago, July 7th 2009 No: 4 Msg: #78672  
we're leaving out of new jersey in the begining of feb. 2010 and headed south. first stop mardi gras new orleans. Reply to this

11 years ago, July 7th 2009 No: 5 Msg: #78673  
awesome. any places that aare a must seee?
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11 years ago, July 7th 2009 No: 6 Msg: #78689  
get a national parks pass(around 80 bucks) and see as many as you can. out west, grand canyon az, lake powell nm, big bend tx, shenandoah valley , rocky national co, glacier national montana Reply to this

11 years ago, July 7th 2009 No: 7 Msg: #78692  
yellow stone or yosemite? Reply to this

11 years ago, July 7th 2009 No: 8 Msg: #78699  
yeah but theyve got the most tourists.
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10 years ago, July 8th 2009 No: 9 Msg: #78885  
B Posts: 602
In March you are not going to get into Yellowstone except by snowmobile. And those were outlawed by a NJ federal judge (insert grumble here and something about wanting to re-introduce wolves to Central Park) so you can only use a snowcoach. I wouldn't be caught dead in a snowcoach in Yellowstone. If you spook a buffalo in one of those you are dead! Reply to this

10 years ago, July 8th 2009 No: 10 Msg: #78907  
i agree about the snow coach! Reply to this

10 years ago, July 16th 2009 No: 11 Msg: #79844  
Typically, unless you're planning on staying in a really sketchy hotel, you can expect hotels to cost you about $80-$200 (USD) a night and up. The bigger the city, the more expensive the hotels (usually). Of course, you can find rooms for much, much more if you want. :-) I highly recommend picking and choosing from among the cities that you have listed, and staying several days in a few places...rather than one night here and one night somewhere else. That way, you might be able to find packages at hotels or bed and breakfasts that get you your rooms for cheaper. Plus, you will want time to rest and enjoy the destinations you are visiting.

Your car rental from Miami to Nashville might be difficult...a lot of car rental companies make it difficult to rent a car in one place and drop it off in another, especially in another state.

Your trip from DC up to Canada will probably be quite cold. You will likely encounter snow and icy conditions and will need to be careful driving. Two weeks for this leg of the trip is VERY tight with the number of places you want to visit. Two weeks in NYC alone would keep you busy. For example, my husband and I just took a trip from North Carolina to Niagara Falls, to Bar Harbor, Maine, to Connecticut and back to NC. Nearly 3000 miles of driving, and we did it in 10 days relatively comfortably. That was really only three destinations, with a few days at each. You are looking at 11 destinations in only 14 days. I recommend you pick and choose. My recommendations would be Washington, DC and New York city, definitely. Boston would be nice as well. I've never been to Toronto or Montreal, so I don't know whether or not to recommend them. Niagara Falls would be nice...but I don't know if you will be able to enjoy the falls very much in the winter time. I'm not sure when the attractions open up. The weather was nice in the end of May when we went, but still cold around the falls. Lots of mist. If you do go, I recommend staying in Niagara-on-the-Lake, a small town just downriver of the falls on the shore of Lake Ontario. BEAUTIFUL town, surrounded by wineries that make ice wine. Very nice.

Your Florida to Tennessee trip sounds good, and the weather should be decent in the South in March. Once again, you are trying to fit in a lot of driving in a short amount of time and you may want to trim down a bit. St. Augustine is also a very nice town in FL to visit. There is also Disney World in Orlando...but that's another trip in and of itself. Very pricey too. If you're going to do Panama City....I would recommend Fort Walton, Destin, Pensacola, or Navarre Beach instead. You are likely to be overrun by kids on spring break in Panama City during March, and the other towns are nearby and the beaches are less crowded. Just a note...Navarre Beach is very small and won't have as much to do as the other towns...but the beaches are wonderful and you don't have to fight off other tourists for a place in the sand. :-) New Orleans is definitely a good place to visit...but keep in mind that they are STILL rebuilding from hurricane Katrina there.

I can't help you too much with the West coast part of your trip, except to say that 7 weeks there is much more reasonable. The drive back down the coast from Seattle to LA is a very good idea. BEAUTIFUL countryside to drive through.

If you had to cut a leg of the trip, I recommend cutting miami to nashville. If you like cities...the northeastern part of the country deserves more than two weeks. Of course, the weather will be less than perfect in March, but I absolutely love Washington, DC, and although I've never spent time in NYC, I know there is so much to do there it would be a shame to miss it.

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10 years ago, July 19th 2009 No: 12 Msg: #80084  
You should consider joining servas.org, and you can stay in people's homes for free, two days at a time. Generally you should travel in the south in the winter and in the north in the summer, for climate's sake. California will have the best weather, any season of the year.

Also, frankly, cities like Detroit, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, are not so beautiful or visit worthy. The most beautiful and travel-worthy cities in the U.S. are #1=Washington DC, New York, Boston, Miami, Phoenix, Seattle, and anywhere in California.

Also consider smaller cities, like college towns (for example State College, Pennsylvania or Ames, Iowa), in which you will meet people easier, see nicer architecture, and feel safer than the big cities.
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10 years ago, July 21st 2009 No: 13 Msg: #80446  
The west coast cities and country side are nothing short of amazing. LA is an experience all by itself, but going further north, SF, Northern California and Seattle are also really cool and diverse.

The above poster, Cynthia, makes a good point--the west coast is so vast and diverse that you'll need to allot a considerable chunk of time if you want to really experience this side of the country. If all you do is drive, getting from San Deigo to Crescent City (northernmost town in California) takes two solid days--not factoring rest stops, traffic or exploration.
But there's lots to see and do, so you'll have a blast mapping it.

Palm Springs is basically a retirement community with some Indian Casinos. I wouldn't bother with it.

I live one town over from Laguna Beach--There's lots of cool art galleries and the beaches are pretty, but the town overall isn't anything special. If you want to visit a good surfer town/beach community, visit San Clemente.

Have fun and stay safe on your trip!

Cheerz Reply to this

10 years ago, July 30th 2009 No: 14 Msg: #81449  
Hubby and I are going to San Fran in September and planning on getting a car and driving up to Seattle and then on to Vancouver (3 week trip in total). Hubby wants to visit Yosemite but I'm not sure we're going to have time. Any thoughts on this? We're not campers or hikers and I'm not sure what we're actually going to be able to see/do at Yosemite. Reply to this

10 years ago, August 3rd 2009 No: 15 Msg: #81864  
Aparently, its worth seeing, even if your not a hiker or camper. i dont think its all mountains and there are places around you can drive. Ive never been there but thats what ive heard Reply to this

10 years ago, August 3rd 2009 No: 16 Msg: #81879  
Yosemite is heaven on earth. You can walk and see amazing natural beauty. You must book accommodations in advance, especially in summer, and it's very expensive to sleep in the Park itself, unless you book in advance on line. It's four hours driving time from San Francisco to Yosemite. September is a great month to visit Yosemite except that many of the waterfalls will be dry by then.
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10 years ago, August 3rd 2009 No: 17 Msg: #81906  
Thanks for comments/ideas. Any ideas on accommodation in the area? Not too fussed about $$ - just can't do the whole tent thing (but not expecting the Grand Hyatt either)! Reply to this

10 years ago, August 3rd 2009 No: 18 Msg: #81958  
B Posts: 602
You might look at the Choice Hotel website. They have several chains of less expensive hotels. And if you make the reservations from one hotel to the next, sometimes you can get a better deal. Talk to the desk! and see what they can arrange for you. Sometimes the 800# is the way to go with them also. Reply to this

10 years ago, August 3rd 2009 No: 19 Msg: #81963  
If you find a hotel outside the Park, you will get a less expensive rate, but might have to drive up to one hour to get to the Yosemite Village, which is the most beautiful and interesting part. If you can spend $150-200 per night, the Yosemite Lodge is the best place to stay, located right in the center of everything, with a free shuttle bus through the park at your doorstep. Reply to this

10 years ago, August 18th 2009 No: 20 Msg: #83504  
Hello Cyntia,
I definitely agree with some of the earlier comments that driving in the NE can be sketchy in March. I'm not sure what part of Australia you're from, but if you're not used to driving in snow and ice, it can take some getting used to. You've definitely got the right idea with renting a car instead of trying to take buses or trains because they're both expensive and terribly inconvenient in my opinion. As for your locations, I've been to Washington DC several times and I love it. If you have any interest in museums the mall is loaded with tons of museums and admission to all of them is free. There's also an ice skating rink on the mall that is kind of tiny (and show up early for tickets, they run out fast) but I think it's nice just for the atmosphere. My favorite museums there are the Museum of Natural History and the National Gallery. There's also the Vietnam memorial, the Washington monument, and lots of other nice monuments in the area. There's also a lot of shows. If you like band music, the President's Own the most prestigious marine band plays concerts in DC (not sure if they do it during winter though) and the concerts are free of charge.

I've only been to Baltimore once. I haven't been to the aquarium there, but it seems to be a pretty popular. When I was there I went on a dinner cruise that left from inner harbor. Nothing to exciting but it was a nice evening.

Philadelpha is a nice place to visit. There's a lot of historical places there to see: the liberty bell, independence hall (it's free to visit but you'll need to get a ticket as they only take so many people in at a time). There's also a street called South Street that tends to be popular for young adult night life.

New York, I think is well known enough that I can leave that one alone. 😊

I absolutely love Boston. There's a lot of shopping. There a path called the Freedom Trail that is actually marked on the city's sidewalks. It's pretty long and requires a bit of walking but it takes you past a lot of historical buildings. Harvard is a hop skip and a jump from Boston by metro. Another place that is nice to visit in that area that is easily reached by train is Salem. It's the location of the witch hunts and it's not a big place at all but I really enjoyed visiting there.

I haven't been to Montreal or Toronto but I went to Niagra Falls with my family. It's a really nice place to see and I think that the Canadian side of the falls is much nicer than the American side (in terms of view of the falls and just general niceness). There's also a butterfly conservatory on the Canadian side that we didn't get to go to but it sounded really nice.

Of all of your destinations, I'd say you could easily leave out Detroit and Cleveland and not miss much. I've heard from friends that live in Michigan that Detroit is not a nice city. I honestly think that you'd be better off driving back through Pennsylvania from the falls. I've driven from my home to the falls and I've also driven through Ohio and into Michigan a few times and it's a whole lot of driving. In my opinion, Detroit is not worth it.

Pittsburgh I think you could take or leave. I went to university an hour away from Pittsburgh and I've only been there a handful of times. It's really just not that exciting. It's also really, really confusing to drive there if you're not familiar with it. I've never gone there and didn't get lost, even when I've gone to Pittsburgh with friends who live there. There's some nice parts, for example, the water front is nice and people really like going there.

One place that I'd like to introduce you to in Pennsylvania is Lancaster. It seems that you are going more for cities, but just in case you also like wilderness, Lancaster is a large farming area and lots of Amish people live there. I know some people from Western PA who like to go to Lancaster to relax. There's lots of beds and breakfasts there and it's supposed to be really nice. I've never gone there to spend the night as I live quite close to there myself (and there are plenty of Mennonites up where I live). A friend of mine came to visit me from Germany and was really interested in the Amish. Some how he managed to meet a family up north of Pittsburgh, not sure exactly how he did that, contacted someone online...

Anyway, I hope that this is helpful, if you have any questions that I might be able to help you with just send me a message. 😊
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