USA is much more than just another country of course, and has something to offer everyone including fine beaches, exciting adventure, large bustling cities and grand nature in climate that range from freezing cold to extreme heat.
When to visit USA
You can travel to United States all year around depending on where you’re going and what you want to do. Going to New York in the middle of the summer can be quite hot, but in the wintertime it gets really cold. Southern California has nice weather all year around, but the evenings can get chilly during winter. But that’s just two samples of this amazing country.
Getting to USA
Obviously, it is by far most common to go by air to get to USA. Although the possibilities may be endless when it comes to airports around the country, there are a number of big “hubs” that are most frequently used for international flights; these being New York, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Miami and a few others. If you can be flexible on dates for your trip it may be worth looking around at different options, price can vary quite a lot.
A tip concerning domestic flights in US, the prices run much more expensive, sometimes more than double, if one is to book a trip less time than a week in advance.
Another tip is that many tickets from Europe for travel via the United States approves “stop-overs”. For example, we took a few days in New York our tips to Costa Rica and Aruba.
Getting around USA
In USA you drive a car, it’s a bit of the culture, and it is always an easy way to get around. But if you look at travelling a great distance it may be worthwhile to take a flight. Public transport such as buses and trains are usually not as well developed and organized in United States as in many other countries.
Sightseeing in USA
Lars and Anki has visited several citys and places around United States together, New York, Atlantic City, Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco, Monterey, Grand Canyon, Palm Springs and Las Vegas. Lars has previously lived in Los Angeles during the 1.5 years and also traveled around a lot in the U.S. on his own. In addition to the aforementioned places he has visited Seattle, Portland, Chicago, Memphis, Evansville (small town in Kentucky), New Orleans and St. Louis.
Nature differs widely in the south, east, west, and north as well as the climate. Flat desert landscape around Las Vegas, lush natural forest around Seattle, beach life along the coast in Florida and California, urban pulse of New York and Chicago, small-town life in the Midwest, variations are great and exciting.
You might get the impression that a lot of the big cities in USA are quite similar, but their individual urban character varies a lot; New York got a high tempo, lots of skyscrapers and the city is quite compact and people use the subway for transport while Los Angeles got more of a laidback tempo, mainly low buildings around town and the layout is widespread, and you drive to get around.
If you really want to experience the United State you should at least visit a few big cities and also go to the countryside to experience the small town culture and some of the amazing nature.
California And Nevada roadtrip
1. San Francisco – the city by the bay
Drive into town and start out by Union Square and do a little shopping. Continue to Haigh-Ashbury, Golden Gate Park and to Fishermans’s Warf. Take a ferry trip over to Alcatraz for a few hours and get lunch in North Beach when you get back. Visit Alamo Square and go for a drive down Lombard street, which is said to be the world’s most crooked street. Then drive across the iconic Golden Gate where you take a break on the other side to get a great view of the San Francisco Bay. And why not make a visit to the city center in the evening and perhaps have a dinner somewhere in Chinatown. If you’ve got time go north to the Wine County of Sonoma and Napa for a day.
2. Go to Los Angeles
Take Pacific Coast Highway and drive along the winding coast roads. When you reach the coast you will pass a few smaller towns and perhaps an overnight stay in Monterey, which once was known for it’s big concerts during the Hippie era? Or perhaps a stop in Caramel would fit your plans, the small town where Clint Eastwood once was mayor? About halfway you could make a stop to visit the Hearst Castle and see what huge amounts of money could be spent on. Nearby it might be a good idea to make a stop in San Luis Obispo to streach your legs and perhaps have something to eat.
As you get closer to Los Angeles you’ll pass Santa Barbara and Malibu. As you reach Will Rodgers Beach you might recognize the long streches of beach and the small life guards cabins, this is where Baywatch was filmed.
3. Los Angeles – experience the city of angels
Go to Hollywood and watch the stars in the pavement and the old Manns Chinese Theater, drive up on Mullholland Drive grand views of greater Los Angeles and on to the northern side of Hollywood Hills, visit North Hollywood and Ventura. Continue to Griffith Park and drive up to the Observatory where you also get a nice view of the Hollywood sign. It’s time to get some beach time; drive to Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Marina Del Rey and finish with a ride to downtown.
6. Grand Canyon
Go east on Interstate 10 until you’ll arrive in Palm Springs. This is a small town with a laidback and quiet setting. Here Frank Sinatra and many other prominent people of the past went to relax. Continue through town and perhaps take some time to walk around in the Joshua Tree National Park, where the Joshua trees grows, this is also where the cover images to U2s album legendary album “The Joshua Tree” was shot. If you’ll continue east you’ll arrive in Phoenix. Drive north on Interstate 17 to Flagstaff. Get some sleep in Flagstaff (one of the cities on the classic Route 66) or better yet, in the small town of Williams. Get up very early and drive straight north to Grand Canyon and locate a good viewpoint. You want to be here before the sun rises. The experience is powerful when the sun plays over this huge ravine and shadows that are constantly changing enhance the experience.
7. Las Vegas
Go east on 62 and you will enter the Navajo Indian reservations. The 89 takes you north to Cameron. You pass beautiful nature and you should make time to stop and look around. Especially at Glen Canyon, when you’ve passed the Colorado River, you’ll get amazing views. Now, you leave Arizona and continue into Utah. At Kane, take the smaller road number 9 to drive the Interstate 15 south. You leave Utah and go into Nevada. If the clock is getting late and it is getting dark, that really doesn’t matter. You come up on a hill and look down on all the lights of Las Vegas, the city that never sleeps. Neon lights lit up and the view is really something special. Once you reach the city of Las Vegas, you should drive along the Las Vegas strip where most hotels and casinos are located. The hotel rates are fairly cheap; they want you to stay and spend your money at their casino. You can actually visit both Paris, New York and Venice here, but in somewhat smaller scale and not as historical perhaps. But nevertheless, you can marvel at the money that has been invested in the unbelievable buildings here. There are many great shows in Vegas that can be great fun to check out.
8. Back to Los Angeles
When you are happy with your Las Vegas experience, it’s time to go back to Los Angeles. On the way you will pass Barstow which is a outlet center, perhaps worth a visit if you worn out your shoes.
One can also easily go to San Diego (Seaworld etc.), sail to Catalina Island off the coast of Los Angeles, drive to the border city of Tijuana (beware of pickpocketers and other scams).
Shopping in USA
When the dollar is low, it is particularly interesting to check prices on the products manufactured in the USA. Some examples are Nike products, Levis jeans, Fender and Gibson guitars which all could offer bargains if the dollar is at a low exchange rate.
Price tags of goods do not include sales tax, which is added at checkout. Sales tax varies from state to state and is in average between 6 and 8%. The Percentage level may also vary slightly between different types of product.
If you are citizen of one of the countries that are offered visa via ESTA-program you could apply for a Visa online. If not, check with your travel agency or the American Embassy.
In all large cities, you must pay attention and keep an eye on your belongings. Especially in the evenings, you may want to take a detour rather than pass people that you feel unsure about or going through an area that might be unsafe. This said, you’ll rarely experience any problems and if you stick to the law and do not expose yourself to danger, you should be fine.
New York sunset as seen from SoHo
Seattle Downtown by Water Taxi across Elliott Bay
Millions of lights of Los Angeles, California
Sunset in Key West, Florida
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