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West Coast Travel for an Irish Family

RMS OceanicRMS Oceanic Registered User regular
edited February 2013 in Help / Advice Forum
I am currently hashing out the logistics of a holiday to the US at the end of August/start of September for me, my parents and my eighteen year old sister. The original plan was to make it a straight two-city visit, San Francisco with a stopover in Chicago on the return leg, but consultation with my brother has generated recommendations of a day trip to Los Angeles/Hollywood and a couple of days in Las Vegas, if to see nothing else but the strip and the Hoover Dam. With this in mind I am factoring in a few extra days on the West Coast - original plan was 5 days in San Francisco, 5 days in Chicago with a day's travel time in between - but I'm wondering about the best way to travel between the three cities on the West Coast. My brother on his honeymoon rented a car and drove down Highway 1 for the scenery. Is that best, or would it be simpler to fly SF -> LA -> LV -> CH? Or is it all best done by car? And what about rail travel, how fast/comfortable would it be to do those three cities by train?

RMS Oceanic on
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  • RadiationRadiation Registered User regular
    California 1 is an amazing drive pretty much everytime of year. It's a lot of driving.
    A LOT.
    But it's fantastic. So SF->LA would be a good driving one if you guys could handle it. You might even look at breaking the drive up on that leg, perhaps staying in Morrow Bay, or somewhere near there (protip: Hearst Castle is about 30 minutes North of Morrow Bay.)
    Last time I checked prices for train travel we're pretty close to flying (re: not cheap). There is no Ryan Air equivalent in the states, so everything is somewhat pricey.

    Bus may be feasible? I'm not sure, I haven't really traveled much by bus.
    L.A. to Vegas drive gets kind of boring. I grew up in Barstow, which is about the midway point. I think you can do it in about 4 hours, but its dull and brown and desert most of the way. Possibly cheapest option though.

    If you can tolerate long drives, SF->LA->LV and then flying to Chicago might be the cheapest option.

    PSN: jfrofl
  • a5ehrena5ehren AtlantaRegistered User regular
    edited February 2013
    SF -> LA on the PCH is a roughly 8 hour drive. Distance wise, it is a little longer than driving from Edinburgh to London. At a minimum, you'd have to block off a whole day to do the drive, then another day to see what you wanted.

    Las Vegas is about 3.5 hours from LA by car. Hoover Dam is far enough away from LV to make going there and getting back at least a 3 hour commitment.

    I'd honestly say your original plan is better. Adding LA and LV would cut 2+ days out of both your SF and Chicago plans and both of those places are far more interesting.

    a5ehren on
  • Regina FongRegina Fong Allons-y, Alonso Registered User regular
    I don't know anything about Chicago, but I grew up in the bay area so my knee jerk response is to skip Chicago.

    Highway 1 is sort of amazing. Most people don't complete the drive in a single day however, it might technically be an 8 hour drive, but rushing is sort of missing the point. The drive itself is an experience because the California coast is a natural wonder.

    LA can be fun but. Hmmm. I'm not a huge fan. It's not a beautiful place for one thing; smog and urban sprawl. There are lots of beautiful people though. Probably no place on Earth will make a "regular person" feel quite so homely as southern California. Generally people go to LA for Disneyland/other theme parks, and perhaps the Getty museum. There are a ton of insanely good restaurants and clubs and bars and things like that in LA, but frankly that's not the sort of thing you fly across the Atlantic to do they are more of a side effect of travel for other reasons.

    Las Vegas is worth seeing. It's a huge spectacle.

    I've never seen the Hoover Dam but it's usually pretty worthwhile to construct it in civ games.

  • Inquisitor77Inquisitor77 2 x Penny Arcade Fight Club Champion A fixed point in space and timeRegistered User regular
    How much stuff are you carrying? That's an important consideration for how you plan to travel.

    Don't drive down from SF to LA unless you plan on taking at least 2 days to do it. That way you can spend an hour or to at specific stops along the way and actually enjoy the drive. Otherwise it's a straight-shot 6-10 hours depending upon how you drive, which highway you take, and how traffic works out. Driving for that period of time is just not enjoyable, period. But, driving a few hours and then stopping at Monterey Bay Aquarium, then driving another few hours to a nice place for dinner and a good night's sleep sounds like a much better vacation and actually gives you time to take things in. If you just want to get from SF to LA, then I would recommend flying.

    There's absolutely no reason to drive from LA to Vegas. There is nothing in between worth seeing, and a good portion of it is literally desert.

    Look up Southwest and Virgin America if you want cheap flights between those three cities. I think there's a special train that runs from SF to LA, but I'm fairly certain that it doesn't stop for a meaningful period of time (other than to let people on/off). They provide food and sleeping cabins, but the actual experience is basically sitting on the train watching the nice scenery go by, so it really depends on if that's your kind of thing or not.

  • RMS OceanicRMS Oceanic Registered User regular
    Update, as a result of conversations between the holidaygoers and my brother: It turns out that while he (and he thinks me and my dad) would enjoy it, his wife (and my mum and sister would as well) found the long drive pretty boring. Also for what we're doing in San Francisco there is no need for a car whatsoever, and the train tickets are pretty expensive for how fast we get there (not very fast), while adding another flight to our itinerary is roughly only another £30 in total. So we're flying from SF to LA. I'm personally disappointed, but the holiday isn't just for me.

    However paradoxically, there are discussions of hiring a car in LA and driving to Vegas for a few days before returning to fly from LA to Chicago. This is a cost saving exercise, as adding the LA to Vegas flight as well as the SF to LA one somehow causes the prices to spike by £300, so it's cheaper to get there by car, and more comfortable than the bus.

    So the rough timetable of the holiday is shaping up as follows:
    -Travel to San Francisco (1 day)
    -Five days in the Bay area (6)
    -Fly to LA, visit stuff like Hollywood (7)
    -Next day drive to Vegas (8)
    -2 Days in Vegas/Surrounding Area (10)
    -Next day return to LA, fly to Chicago (11)
    -Five days in Chicago (16)
    -Travel home! (18 due to overnight travel)

    I should have bought some annual leave from work to cover this.

  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    I don't know anything about Chicago, but I grew up in the bay area so my knee jerk response is to skip Chicago.

    Booo!

    :) It's up to you, that does add a lot of extra messing around with airports, etc. The temps are about the same in LA and Chicago at that time - 28C highs down to 18C in the evenings. It'd provide a nice contrast against California and Nevada, so if you're up for it, think it'd be a nice ending to the trip.

    Can go into specific places if you want, but all the museums are good, the Shedd Aquarium is really nice.

  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu PIGEON Registered User regular
    I might be somewhat biased because I think Las Vegas is one of the few places in the world more soulless than Los Angeles, but putting aside 2 days to stick around in Vegas seems like something I wouldn't recommend unless you want to see shows in casinos or something. Certainly don't bother with "the surrounding area" that you have on your itinerary. The surrounding area is this except not funny.

  • RMS OceanicRMS Oceanic Registered User regular
    MichaelLC wrote: »
    I don't know anything about Chicago, but I grew up in the bay area so my knee jerk response is to skip Chicago.

    Booo!

    :) It's up to you, that does add a lot of extra messing around with airports, etc. The temps are about the same in LA and Chicago at that time - 28C highs down to 18C in the evenings. It'd provide a nice contrast against California and Nevada, so if you're up for it, think it'd be a nice ending to the trip.

    Can go into specific places if you want, but all the museums are good, the Shedd Aquarium is really nice.

    Could you? That would be helpful, give more information so we can work out where we want to go.
    I might be somewhat biased because I think Las Vegas is one of the few places in the world more soulless than Los Angeles, but putting aside 2 days to stick around in Vegas seems like something I wouldn't recommend unless you want to see shows in casinos or something. Certainly don't bother with "the surrounding area" that you have on your itinerary. The surrounding area is this except not funny.

    When I say "the surrounding area" I mainly just mean go on a trip to the Hoover Dam.

  • BusterKBusterK Negativity is Boring Cynicism is Cowardice Registered User regular
    edited February 2013
    As an Angeleno one thing I would suggest is to go to Griffith Park
    Park on the south side (The side Hollywood is on) and hike up to the Griffith Observatory
    It's a short hike but you see the Hollywood sign pretty close up and the Observatory is fun to tool around in

    BusterK on
    Visit http://www.cruzflores.com for all your Cruz Flores needs. Also listen to the podcast I do with Penguin Incarnate http://wgsgshow.podomatic.com
    Amazon Wishlist: http://www.amazon.com/BusterK/wishlist/3JPEKJGX9G54I/ref=cm_wl_search_bin_1
  • BusterKBusterK Negativity is Boring Cynicism is Cowardice Registered User regular
    Also if you go into Hollywood and visit Grauman's Chinese theater
    Don't make eye contact with anyone
    And especially don't go up to costumed characters
    Those are homeless people

    Visit http://www.cruzflores.com for all your Cruz Flores needs. Also listen to the podcast I do with Penguin Incarnate http://wgsgshow.podomatic.com
    Amazon Wishlist: http://www.amazon.com/BusterK/wishlist/3JPEKJGX9G54I/ref=cm_wl_search_bin_1
  • zardoszardos Hartford, CTRegistered User regular
    Both the Bay Area and Chicago have a lot to offer, and Las Vegas is an interesting place but it almost has to be your cup of tea in the first place to enjoy it. While not recommending you against it, I would suggest researching it a bit more before taking out time from your first two choices. As far as the Hoover Dam: unless you're an engineer or a Roosevelt history buff, there's not a lot to enjoy. Admittedly it's sounds cool to say "I visited the Hoover Dam" but is not as impressive to actually do. The Grand Canyon is nearby, and the Grand Canyon Skywalk is absolutely weird. I highly recommend checking a video of it, and giving it a think.

    Chicago Recommendations:
    Chicago isn't huge, it's not like New York where you can visit a unique borough every day. You might find yourself looking for things to do on days 4 and 5. So don't feel bad if you cut a day off your trip to experience more of California. Chicago is one of my favorite cities to live in, but living is a little different than visiting. That said, hit up a pizza tour while you're there and you won't regret it. If you're not looking to eat too much pizza, at least try one and my suggestion is Pizano's on State Street. But always take local's advice into consideration, things might've changed since I've been there.
    The Loop and Hyde Park are probably the best two areas for tourism, with the Loop being the better in my opinion. I've heard people talk about crime in Hyde Park, but I never experienced it.

    Cali Recommendations:
    The Pacific Coast Highway (CA-1) is a great trip, and I'm glad other people have recommended it because without knowing much of California you could miss it. Depending on what you're into, you can go north from the Bay on PCH and see the Redwoods national parks, south if you like the cities. Both are going to be about 5-7 hrs of driving, and I recommend playing it by ear. If you want to spend more time scenic, stopping half way and visiting a motel wouldn't be the worse idea.

    Pretty much everything you could want to eat can be found in the Bay, and I highly recommend visiting Haight-Ashbury. If nothing else it has some of the best Thai food I've had in a long time and at good prices. Some of the other stores in the area could be rip offs, playing off the culture of the area, so tread wisely. Castro Street is as weird as you've heard, and if you go to see what it's about expect to see naked people.

    What are your passions or interests? There's a lot to do in San Francisco and in California in general, and you can find most anything.

  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited February 2013
    I'd skip LA/Hollywood to be honest. There really isn't anything to see down south in California worth that much driving. I would say that going south out of SF for a day can be pretty cool, but I'd go to The Winchester Mansion in San Jose, maybe the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Up north along the coast you have Muir Woods, which is pretty cool. You could spend a day walking around near the Berkeley / Oakland area around the Cal State campus. Telegraph is a pretty crazy street to walk up and down and the BART system will get you there for cheap from San Francisco.

    You could also take the ferry to Jack London Square and walk around there a bit.

    If you go to LA, you get to drive in traffic that is born of hellspawn. Stay up north. If you really want to drive, go see Half-Dome in Yosemite Park.

    The big thing southern California has to offer is weather and beaches, and even then my preference would be San Diego.

    LAX is hell on earth.

    dispatch.o on
  • GnomeTankGnomeTank What the what? Portland, OregonRegistered User regular
    I really recommend the Hoover if you can make it, it's an amazing sight up close. Also, if you can afford it and aren't afraid of a slightly rickety helicopter, I suggest doing one of the helicopter tours. Awesome view of the dam and Lake Mead (and you can clearly see how much the lake has receded over the last few years, yay urban blight!).

    I also would just skip the LA leg, and fly straight from the Bay Area to Vegas, and spend an extra day in Vegas. While both LA and Vegas are soulless hell pits, at least Vegas has the strip and the spectacle of it all. You can spend two days on the strip easy, just going to the different casinos and shops and stuff.

    LA is basically smog, snotty people, traffic and the Hollywood sign. I can show you pictures of the Hollywood sign and give you the same experience. You'll hear people talk about going to Radeo Drive and all that crap, but honestly, then you're just dealing with snotty rich people who look down on tourists anyway. I am not a fan of LA, and I've been there quite a bit. Honestly seems like a wasted leg of your trip.

    Sagroth wrote: »
    Oh c'mon FyreWulff, no one's gonna pay to visit Uranus.
    Steam: Brainling, XBL / PSN: GnomeTank, NintendoID: Brainling, FF14: Zillius Rosh SFV: Brainling
  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    I'd also take LA and Vegas right out of the itinerary, unless you're dead set on hookers and blackjack.

    If it were me I'd drop Chicago completely and hit up NYC/DC for those period you'd be in Chicago + LA + Vegas.

    Which are like the reasons to visit the US. I think you'd appreciate all the Smithsonian stuff far more than the Hoover Dam (Which is still fucking awesome).

    Smithsonian is awesome as fuck, lots of shit to do, see lots of political places in the US in one stop. Lots of fun, great use of a week if you've got the time.

    Chicago is basically some deep dish pizzas and some night life spots. I never really saw the draw to it compared to the other big ticket places. Hell Seattle seems like it has more to do. Probably better food too.

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
  • RMS OceanicRMS Oceanic Registered User regular
    I've already been to the East Coast, which is why this isn't a simple SF/NY trip. I also have to take my parents and sister into account, and they want Vegas and Hollywood.

    Ah, the woes of compromise...

  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    Hah. Wow. Not what I'd expect. I guess make sure to get some pizza in the windy city at least.

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
  • Natas_XnoybisNatas_Xnoybis Registered User regular
    I hate Computers
    GIS is evil
  • Natas_XnoybisNatas_Xnoybis Registered User regular
    dispatch.o wrote: »
    I'd skip LA/Hollywood to be honest. There really isn't anything to see down south in California worth that much driving. I would say that going south out of SF for a day can be pretty cool, but I'd go to The Winchester Mansion in San Jose, maybe the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Up north along the coast you have Muir Woods, which is pretty cool. You could spend a day walking around near the Berkeley / Oakland area around the Cal State campus. Telegraph is a pretty crazy street to walk up and down and the BART system will get you there for cheap from San Francisco.

    You could also take the ferry to Jack London Square and walk around there a bit.

    If you go to LA, you get to drive in traffic that is born of hellspawn. Stay up north. If you really want to drive, go see Half-Dome in Yosemite Park.

    The big thing southern California has to offer is weather and beaches, and even then my preference would be San Diego.

    LAX is hell on earth.

    /agree

    San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, all great places. LA = think London (assuming you have been there) but a fuckton worse. I mean if your family is obsessed with American TV or Disneyland or something.. ok.. but I would never recommend going to LA unless work/wedding/funeral took you there.

    I hate Computers
    GIS is evil
  • Natas_XnoybisNatas_Xnoybis Registered User regular
    Vegas, again, if your family is hell bent on gambling or seeing some of the worst humanity has to offer then go for it, otherwise I would stay clear. Vegas is IMO cheesy and sleazy. Some people really get off on it. If you were travelling with a bunch of 21 year old+ male buddies I would say go for it and party like rock stars, but you are going with your family... and (while I could be wrong) the "what happens in vegas stays in vegas" type stay there is not something you are gonna experience with mom and dad.

    I hate Computers
    GIS is evil
  • pacbowlpacbowl Los AngelesRegistered User regular
    If you're dead set on spending a day in LA, here's your route. Fly into LAX as planned. Take Sepulveda Blvd north to Santa Monica Blvd. (or the 405 north to Santa Monica Blvd) Head east on Santa Monica, roll through Beverley Hills, stop and walk around Rodeo Blvd and look at all the expensive apparel if you like. Continue on Santa Monica through West Hollywood until you reach Highland. Go north on Highland until you reach Hollywood Blvd. Find a place to park and check out the strip. Take pictures with the "stars" and whatnot. Continue up Highland, (the Hollywood sign is visible at this point) over the hill until it turns into Cahuenga Blvd. At that point you are right at Universal Studios. While the park itself costs $$, there is also Citywalk, which is a big tourist destination but you have to pay for parking. When you're done there, get onto the 101 north to the 405 south and experience the wonder that is one of the nations busiest freeway interchanges. Take the 405 south over the Sepulveda pass and have a gander of the Getty Center on top of the mountain to your right. I'm not sure how you get there as I've only just driven by. Keep on the 405 until you're back at LAX, assuming that's where you're staying.

    That should take a good chunk of your day and there are also spots along that route other people have mentioned. Griffith Observatory, Most of the major studios (Warner Bros has a tram tour that's about an hour if you head there), In-N-Out, Santa Monica Beach, etc..

    steammicro.php?id=pacbowl&pngimg=background&tborder=0
  • lifeincognitolifeincognito Registered User regular
    Please replace LA with Santa Barbara. I went around the same time last year as you are planning this year and was floored by the weather and the sights. Lots of vineyards within driving distance, plus the town is fantastic with a cool beach, trendy shops and perfect weather.

    losers weepers. jawas keepers.
  • KiplingKipling Registered User regular
    What do you like doing? I could suggest a bunch of things but I still not clear on what your family likes to do on vacation. Do you want the city culture and shopping, or more scenic views, nature, etc?

    If you told us what you liked when you visited the East Coast, I'm sure people here could give you similar things to that in Chicago and California.

    3DS Friends: 1693-1781-7023
  • BusterKBusterK Negativity is Boring Cynicism is Cowardice Registered User regular
    So much LA hate
    There are certainly interesting little places around if you're willing to meet the city halfway and not bring in a lot of baggage about what it "should be like"
    The Getty is indeed worth a trip as it has many beautiful Impressionist paintings on permanent display
    There's also the LACMA with many Picassos as well as original Warhols (this museum also has the benefit of being right next to La Brea Tar Pits)
    It is also only a few blocks from The Grove a tourist trap of a mall connected to a rather neat permanent Farmer's Market with all sorts of odd food stands
    There is also The Museum of Jurassic Technology http://mjt.org/ which is a one of a kind experience of what museums were like at the turn of the Century
    barely any labels. an assortment of odd displays, a good deal of apocrypha and no order whatsoever

    If you really want to see a celebrity they are mysterious and you really have no guarantee of where they might be but the places I have had the best success have been
    at The SaddleRanch Chop House in Hollywood which rather hilariously used to be a sleazy Sunset Strip bar in the 80's and is now an almost family friendly theme restaurant where the theme is sleazy, 80's Sunset Strip bar
    A lot of it's 80's clientele still frequent it, even with all the tourist families

    Forget Rodeo Drive and visit Fred Segal in either Santa Monica or West Hollywood
    The clothes are ridiculously expensive but with all the windows blocked out they are favorites of those who want to shop incognito

    Lastly, something Chicago and Los Angeles have in common is that they are home to the absolute best Improvisational troupes in the world
    In Los Angeles it's The Groundlings, in Chicago, The Second City
    I guarantee if you watch a show at either of those venues, not only will you get a good show but at least one of the people you see performing will eventually be a star


    Visit http://www.cruzflores.com for all your Cruz Flores needs. Also listen to the podcast I do with Penguin Incarnate http://wgsgshow.podomatic.com
    Amazon Wishlist: http://www.amazon.com/BusterK/wishlist/3JPEKJGX9G54I/ref=cm_wl_search_bin_1
  • emp123emp123 Registered User regular
    A lot of people are saying skip LA and Vegas but I wouldn't simply because they're so different from Ireland.

    On top of the places listed above, you could also hit up the Scientology museum if you want something wacky (highlights, in my opinion, Brea Tar Pits, Getty Art Museum, LA City Art Museum, Griffith Observatory at night gets you a really nice view of downtown).


    As for Vegas, there's a range where you can rent and shoot basically every kind of gun if you're into that sort of thing.

  • wiltingwilting I had fun once and it was awful Registered User regular
    edited February 2013
    Whatever you do, from one Irish person to another, make sure you go to an In N Out Burger. Regarding comments on LA and Vegas, people don't seem to be appreciating the novelty value of just seeing/experiencing those places. Spent 5 night in Vegas myself, including 1 night spent at the Grand Canyon, and two weeks in LA, good times. Just wandering around Beverly Hills or Venice Beach can be interesting. But then, we were staying in student accommodation right by UCLA. Yeah, if you aren't into gambling/prostitutes that limits what you can do in Vegas, but you can still walk the strip, go to all you can eat at the a Bellagio, see the Lions at MGM Grand, go on the roller coaster at New York New York, go to a show etc etc.

    Also, just driving around between these places is quite something, even if you are stressed out trying to get from SF to LA in order to make your flight on time (I didn't, makes an excellent story). I recall we ended up in some cave turned cold war bomb shelter in the middle of nowhere on the historic route 66 on the way back from the Grand Canyon as well.

    wilting on
  • Giggles_FunsworthGiggles_Funsworth Blight on Discourse Bay Area SprawlRegistered User regular
    While you're in the Bay you should make the drive down to Monterey Bay Aquarium. You can definitely do it as a day trip from San Francisco and it's fucking amazing.

  • Giggles_FunsworthGiggles_Funsworth Blight on Discourse Bay Area SprawlRegistered User regular
    What kind of food do you guys like? Tolerance for spice, etc. What do you all want out of this trip? If you like vineyards Napa is an obviously better choice than Santa Barbara, even though Santa Barbara is lovely.

  • Inquisitor77Inquisitor77 2 x Penny Arcade Fight Club Champion A fixed point in space and timeRegistered User regular
    In-N-Out Burger is an institution, and should definitely be visited. Eating fast food for lunch every day has got to be part of the American experience, right? You could do McDonald's and the like just to compare the difference, but there are other regional places that haven't gone international which people enjoy even more. Besides In-N-Out, I would recommend Popeye's (a better version of KFC). I think there are a few Sonics scattered around, and Five Guys has also started branching out to the West Coast as well.

    Obviously this is totally up to your family, but for me half the fun of traveling is experiencing what most people actually eat regularly, including the fast food. You'll have plenty of options as you drive down the PCH. The drive from LA to Vegas will give you the options of sand and dirt.

  • BusterKBusterK Negativity is Boring Cynicism is Cowardice Registered User regular
    Food, okay here are BusterK's favorite places to eat in Los Angeles

    The Counter http://www.thecounterburger.com/santamonica/
    counterburgers.jpg
    This burger restaurant has exploded in the last few years however most of the franchises are merely adequate
    If you are near the original in Santa Monica however I would highly recommend it as this location is the reason for its popularity (Try the sweet potato fries)

    Interested in Mexican fare but want to compromise between tasteless Americanized fare and authentic spices that may hurt your stomach an not even be that appetizing?
    82669207.jpg
    El Cholo is the perfect blend of authenticity and comfort http://www.elcholo.com
    If you want to try Mexican fast food I would recommend Poquito Mas, they make their own tortillas and the food is of a higher freshness than most Mexican grills

    Lastly I want to give a recommendation not entirely based on food but rather because it is the most stereotypically American restaurant I can possibly imagine
    Claim Jumper restaurants are ridiculous. The decor is oppressively Frontier cowboy style, the portions are gigantic and the variety of food they offer is enormous
    http://www.claimjumper.com/default.aspx
    If you do go there try their Chocolate Cake though you may want to only get a half slice unless you're splitting with a large party
    caket.jpg

    Visit http://www.cruzflores.com for all your Cruz Flores needs. Also listen to the podcast I do with Penguin Incarnate http://wgsgshow.podomatic.com
    Amazon Wishlist: http://www.amazon.com/BusterK/wishlist/3JPEKJGX9G54I/ref=cm_wl_search_bin_1
  • RMS OceanicRMS Oceanic Registered User regular
    I appreciate all the food recommendations, and it looks delicious, but I'm diabetic. I don't think I could take it all on without ODing on Insulin. :( Maybe my parents and sister will enjoy these recommendations.

    As far as I know they haven't booked the flights yet. Maybe I can make another appeal for at least part of the PCH...

  • Inquisitor77Inquisitor77 2 x Penny Arcade Fight Club Champion A fixed point in space and timeRegistered User regular
    Sorry, totally forgot that you were flying from SF to LA. In-N-Out is around both metro areas, so you should be OK there if your family wants to check it out...

    I don't blame 'em for not wanting to drive, though. It's quite a trek. The drive from LA to Vegas is a bit mind-boggling but understandable of the price is an issue. Depending upon the weekend, flights to Vegas can go anywhere from $75 to $350 round trip from SF/LA... It's always a product of what's going on that weekend.

  • Giggles_FunsworthGiggles_Funsworth Blight on Discourse Bay Area SprawlRegistered User regular
    When you are in San Francisco eat here for delicious Burmese food:

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/mandalay-san-francisco

    and here for awesome Mexican food with some Yucatan peninsula recipes unlike anything else I've had. Also tequila, holy shit all of the tequila:

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/tommys-mexican-restaurant-san-francisco-2

    and here for liquid nitrogen ice cream made to order from seasonal locally sourced ingredients:

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/smitten-san-francisco

    and this is a good French Bakery but I don't know if the appeal holds for someone coming over from Europe:

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/fillmore-bakeshop-san-francisco#query:filmore bakery

    and I like this taqueria better than any of the others in San Francisco, although my favorite is in San Jose now:

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/taqueria-la-cumbre-san-francisco

    and this place has amazing tortas (think burrito sandwich):

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/thats-it-market-san-francisco

    and this place is a hell of a lot better than The Counter, I don't care what @BusterK says:

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/pearls-deluxe-burgers-san-francisco

    There's a Sonic in Hayward out in the East Bay, and a Five Guys in San Jose, I would say hit also hit up Orginal Tommy's Hamburgers in LA too if you need all the fast food.


    This guy has taken up residence in the Sutro Bath ruins, which are cool even if you don't see him:

    http://baynature.org/articles/sutro-sam-river-otter-getting-too-much-attention/

    Fisherman's Wharf is good, the boat museum is good, the Musee Mechanique is pretty cool, but don't eat at the In-N-Out here. It is more expensive than other locations and there is better food to be had if you just look around. Ghirardelli Square is also in that general area and I really like Kennedy's but since the place is apparently a fairly British concept transplanted here so it might not be to your standards.

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/kennedys-irish-pub-and-curry-house-san-francisco

    For Thai food hole in the walls are preferred, King of Thai Noodle and Osha Thai are also acceptable.

  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    Could you? That would be helpful, give more information so we can work out where we want to go.

    Depends what you're looking to see - Chicago downtown has a great mix of architecture, and very walkable.

    Shedd Aquarium is nice
    Botanic Gardens is really nice, you'd need a car or a long train ride (about an hour) coming from downtown.
    Some architecture tours, also via boat can be interesting
    Avoid Navy Pier. It's not bad or anything, just didn't turn out quite like they planned.

    There's lots of food options, of course. Pizza is popular, but a lot of other great choices.

    Be sure to get the Trip Advisor apps - let's you browse cities offline, so no worries about roaming.

  • RMS OceanicRMS Oceanic Registered User regular
    Brushing the dust off this thread for an update/new advice request.

    Through various occurances, my (youngest) sister has decided not to go, but my two other sisters (older than her, younger than me) are now going. Also due to flight price shenanigans we are dropping Chicago and driving SF -> LA -> LV. Chicago may possibly be part of an East Coast excursion sometime next year. So the timetable looks like:

    - Seven days in SF/Surrounding Area
    - Two days driving to LA, in order not to spend the entire day driving
    - Two days in LA, drive to LV
    - Three Days in LV/Surrounding Area
    - Due to flight times, we have roughly twelve hours to spend in New York

    So new questions:
    - For SF at least, we are considering an apartment, Ideally in the northern part of the city. The prices we're seeing for a week is around $2000. Is that a good price for five people?
    - If we're doing the Pacific Coastal Highway over two days, where's the best place to stop for the night?
    - Quick and Dirty LA sightseeing guide
    - Would we bother with apartments for LA and LV, or just get hotel rooms?
    - For the youngest sister going on this holiday, she's the only one who has never been in New York. What to see in twelve hours?

  • emp123emp123 Registered User regular
    Must see stuff in LA:
    La Brea Tar Pits
    California Science Center (it has a space shuttle)
    The Getty
    Griffith Observatory (it doesnt take too long to run through it and really Id go after going to the Getty just for the view of the city at night)


    As for Vegas? Id get a hotel, Vegas is all about hotels.

  • AkilaeAkilae Registered User regular
    12 hours in NYC?

    Airport to the city is an hour, so 10 hours left. Customs/security will take even more. Realistically, you're looking at... 8? It really depends on what time you will be in the city.

    If you're getting In-N-Out on the West Coast, and don't get me wrong, they make a hellishly good Double-Double Animal Style, but you will have to give Five Guys on the East Coast a go.

  • Balderdash444Balderdash444 Registered User new member
    There is more to do in Las Vegas than just gambling and walking the strip. If you want to do something off the strip, you could always go to the mob museum or the pinball hall of fame. You can easily spend at least 3 hours in the mob museum, and all day in the pinball hall of fame. And, if possible, I would definitely say to see a show.

  • November FifthNovember Fifth Registered User regular
    Stay at a resort in Vegas, preferably near the City Center (not the convention center) if you can find a good rate. Look for some shows that you all can enjoy together. Go to Hidden Pizza in the Cosmopolitan. Do it.

    Turn two of those days into a Grand Canyon trip. There is nothing you can see in Cali over those two days that will match the GC and it is not that far from Vegas, particularly if you are already wanting to drive to the Boulder Dam.

    If don't feel like driving all the way to the GC, then I would shave a night off of SF and spend one day doing Zion National Park in Utah. It's only about 3 hours from Vegas.

    Seriously, you can't get on a transcontinental flight from Ireland and spend two weeks in the American Southwest without seeing the GC.

  • RadiationRadiation Registered User regular
    Seriously, you can't get on a transcontinental flight from Ireland and spend two weeks in the American Southwest without seeing the GC.

    Agreed so much.
    On the driving SF/LA. Take the PCH/California 1. Always! ALWAYS! It's such a great drive! It inspired The Decemberists to write a song about it, in the California One/Youth and Beauty Brigade (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_ez0KA2aA8).
    Stop at Morrow Bay or Big Sur! It's about the mid point, San Simeon is gorgous. Hearst Castle is pretty amazing to look at. Dude definetly pillaged the hell out of Europe and made his own private museum. Note: Taking the 1 over the I-5 down adds about 2 hours to your trip, but it's well worth it.
    For reference, the Interstates are like the M roads, at least as far as my understanding of your guys's highway system (I was just there last week, the Cliffs of Moher are amazing!).

    Long Beach is pretty great.

    Vegas, I haven't been in about 10 years, but so much to do.

    Shit, now I'm actually looking forward to going back to Cali, after seeing some of this. One more month!

    PSN: jfrofl
  • RMS OceanicRMS Oceanic Registered User regular
    Akilae wrote: »
    12 hours in NYC?

    Airport to the city is an hour, so 10 hours left. Customs/security will take even more. Realistically, you're looking at... 8? It really depends on what time you will be in the city.

    If you're getting In-N-Out on the West Coast, and don't get me wrong, they make a hellishly good Double-Double Animal Style, but you will have to give Five Guys on the East Coast a go.

    Just to clarify: It's not JFK we're using, it's Newark. Plane lands at 7am and leaves at 9:30pm, so I was deducting 2.5 hours already, and my research shows it's about half an hour from that airport to Penn Station on NJ Transit.

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