The Best of the US

One of our friends we met in Australia is visiting the United States this year and asked for my recommendations on an itinerary for her trip. Below is what I sent her- my top recommendations for exploring the United States!

Los Angeles and the West:

  • Spend about 4 days here. One for checking out Hollywood, the stars on the sidewalk, the Chinese theater, the place where the academy awards are held. Be warned it’s a grungier area than it looks on TV- lots of strip malls. Also check out Beverly hills.
  • Go out in west Hollywood, the gay area. Super fun. Some of the most famous bars in the United States are here.
  • Spend a day/evening in Santa Monica. There’s a great promenade and the pier is obviously an icon.
  • Hit up an improv comedy show at one of the schools. Cheap and funny!
  • Spend an evening in Venice, my all time favorite area of LA. Very laid back, chill, not pretentious. Good bars and seafood.
  • If you’re up for it, Disney Land is always fun too! It’s about an hours drive out side the city.
  • There’s very little public transport here. You’re probably best renting a car, otherwise you’ll have to cab. It’s not a walkable city. Be warned traffic is horrible- avoid 7a to 9a and 4p to 7p on weekdays if you can.

Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, and the Grand Canyon:

  • Drive 4 hours through the desert from LA. Cheap rooms can be found on Fremont street (old Vegas/downtown) but you can often find deals on the hotels in the main casinos on the strip too.
  • Spend a day just walking the strip. The themed casinos are obviously super fun. There’s a tram that runs the length of the strip from MGM to Stratosphere. Views from the top of the stratosphere are good at night if you want to pay for that ($20). Spend a night clubbing,  and take advantage of being a girl because you can often get free drinks and entry before 10 or 11p.
  • If day drinking and pool parties appeal to you, there are also day clubs. Also spend a night in old Vegas. Lots of cool chill bars here, including a famous barcade.
  • 3 nights is about the most a healthy person can handle.
  • Drive out to the hoover dam (or book an organized tour)- about an hour or 2 driving.
  • 4 hours from Vegas is the Grand Canyon in Arizona.  Again, you can arrange a (long!!!) day trip from Vegas, or drive yourself and return your car in Phoenix, from where you’ll probably fly to your next destination. If you self drive, spend a night or two in Flagstaff- great little town, and the gateway to the canyon. We know a great guide we can sync you up with too.

New York and Boston:

  • You can pretty easily visit both of these cities in one week. There are buses and trains connecting them. New York is great, check out Sandemans free walking tour to get oriented and see the major sites.
  • Boston has a great sports scene, a beautiful harbor, and is very walkable. Lots of great Irish pubs. Amazing seafood. Several good breweries too (Sam Adams is the most famous, harpoon is very good too). Check out some of the historical walks (the freedom trail is the standard). The aquarium is great. Go on a ghost tour- lots of old history here.
  • Also, if you have time, Washington DC is a few hours by train from New York. Museums are free and very good. You can see the Declaration of Independence at the archives (if you care about that).

Chicago and the Midwest: 

  • Best city in the US, in my opinion. Very clean and pretty. Great architecture. Right on lake Michigan, one of the Great Lakes. Great bars. Eat deep dish pizza and hotdogs. The science museum here is very good. Many sports as well. Very walkable city, so just go exploring and shopping and eating.
  • If you make it to Madison, where we live, (2.5 hours north of Chicago) for a few days we can treat you to the most amazing cheeses and beers. Also if you like water parks, we are an hour away from the Vegas of water parks- called the Wisconsin Dells. It’s great.

I think with this itinerary you get a taste of the diversity of the United Sates- cities, culture, nature. The east coast, west coast and mid west are all so different, each area will be a unique experience. The only thing I’d say is lacking would be perhaps the deep South. If you have time spend a few nights in New Orleans and eat everything you see and listen to live music.

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