dear friends in the USA, where do I go?

Discussion in 'The Watering Hole' started by Kosta, May 18, 2011.

  1. Kosta

    Kosta Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 29, 2010
    My fellow Americans, (Sorry, I lie, I'm Australian :biggrin:)

    I am heading over to your vast land mass for about a month, gracing the shores of LA/San Fran then landing smack bang on the East Coast - NYC. (There's a possible dip into Florida for a few days...)

    What I would love to know is what you would recommend to do in these cities.

    Order of visit:
    1) San Francisco (5days)
    2) Las Vegas (not really into it but will see it for a day to get to the Grand Canyon..) (3 days?)
    3) LA (5 days)
    4) NYC (I gotta get to b&h and maybe meet some of the shooters from here! :p) (10 days)
    5) Niagara Falls? (2 days)
    6) Miami? (3 days)

    Any hot tips will be greatly appreciated!

    I am googling my butt off but am only getting the typical major tourist attractions... but they don't exactly take days to see them..

    My friends have said LA wasn't very good, San Francisco has been labelled "awesome" along with NYC. (Not that I want to turn this into a debate...)

    Thanks in advance :)
  2. JohnMetsn

    JohnMetsn Mu-43 Veteran

    I'm looking forward to this thread, as I'm planning to make similar one very soon...I'm going to the US & Canadian border for the first time in July...about two weeks in Sarnia and one week in NY :smile:
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  3. chuckgoolsbee

    chuckgoolsbee Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 6, 2010
    Bend, Oregon
    Oddly, tourists in America rarely visit the Northwest, and I would think as somebody from Australia, the Pacific Northwest would be about as alien as going to Jupiter.
  4. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    What are your photographic interests? Is this trip for photography or family vacation? Family vacations and photography don't mix.

    Natural Wonders: California has it all from glaciers up in the Sierra Nevada to one of the hottest spots on earth, Death Valley. California has the oldest trees on earth, (Bristlecone Pines) to the largest trees (Sequoias), tallest mountain in the CONUS (Mt. Whitney) to the lowest spot (Death Valley), sand dune deserts to huge agribusinesses (California is the 8th largest economy in the world and agriculture is our #1 business). California has 800 miles of coastline from sandy beaches to rocky coves resting under cliffs 100+ feet high. Kings Canyon is special. One is driving through a mountain valley shrouded in early morning mist and fog ... then suddenly gray giants loom from the fog and instantly you are walled in by tree trunks ... all you can see from the car are trunks ... at 300'+ high one has to bend the neck 90 degrees to see the tops. Walking amongst these giants, all sounds muffled by the fog ... is truly a spiritual yet humbling experience.

    Sports: hiking/cycling (within a couple of hours from any major city you can find practically any environment from deserts to rolling hills to pine covered mountains to coastal paths, surfing, sailing, diving (Catalina has world class diving, a pod of Blue Whales, largest creature to grace this planet, hang out off the western coast of Catalina Island), rock climbing, white water kayaking, fishing, golfing (Pebble Beach, Trump National) ... it's all here. Cycling through the wine country is particularly wonderful.

    Urban: San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego are all world-class cities with museums, restaurants, night life, concerts and premier movies, theme parks (Disneyland, Magic Mountain, Hollywood-lol, et cetera), with sporting events to match. San Francisco is much more compact with a much better mass transit system than LA. The highlights of LA are spread out (bring a GPS). San Francisco and Los Angeles are crossroads of the world. More than 224 different languages have been identified by UCLA as being spoken in LA County.

    I strongly recommend you drive California.

    1. Drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles along Highway One, (considered the most beautiful highway in the world);

    2) Drive to Yosemite, (considered the most beautiful spot on earth around the corner from Kings Canyon);

    3) Drive to Las Vegas (check out the Mojave Desert, at the halfway point to Las Vegas, hang a left and check out Death Valley);

    You don't have enough time to even scratch the surface.


    PS- The Grand Canyon is Grand. The north side is a pine tree forest, south side much more dry.
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  5. sprinke

    sprinke Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 5, 2011
    Pasadena, CA
    Real Name:
    If you're visiting LA, I highly recommending a few hours to stroll along Hollywood Blvd, especially around Graumann's Chinese Theatre, for some fun street photography. Lots of interesting characters. Just keep a firm grip on your wallet. Also, Venice Beach and the Santa Monica Pier.
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  6. unkabin

    unkabin Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 17, 2011
    If you go to Niagara Falls, hopefully you can cross the border into Canada. Be ready to photograph a carnival-like environment--wax museums, haunted houses, arcades, etc. It's a tourist trap, for sure, ridiculously so, but I think a good place for photography. The American side is a depressed little town with a big casino.

    Oh, yeah, there are also the falls. You can take a boat to the base of the falls. They light them at night with colored lights. The Canadian horseshoe fall is very pretty (this would be shot from the U.S. side). If you plan to over the falls in a barrel, maybe you should bring a Pentax--rugged, weather sealed.:smile:
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  7. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    Well ... it's like trying to see Australia in one trip. Pretty difficult. I have been in all but one of the states, so I guess I know a little bit about the place.

    First, it depends a great deal on your interests. Arts & culture, history, outdoor recreation, all would produce different itineraries.

    The USA is a young country, like Australia. So there are no Chartres cathedrals, no Yorkminster, no pyramids, no Taj Mahals. No Kyoto and no terra-cotta armies. Our revolution (Boston area, especially) and our civil war (SE area) are about it and neither left any architectural or historical marvels.

    I would personally not waste 5 days on LA nor 10 days on NYC. As was pointed out, the 101 coastal drive from San Francisco to LA is very nice. IMHO you could keep going to San Diego and not miss much, but if you are into movies and movie stars then an LA stop would be worthwhile. San Diego has a great zoo.

    The Smithsonian museum complex in Washington DC has no equal in the world. While individual museums like the Hermitage, the Louvre, and the British Museum stand above their Smithsonian equivalents, no one approaches the breadth of the Smithsonian. The Hirschorn and both Air & Space museums are favorites. Even though you are probably uninterested in US history, Washington is worth the stop just for the Smithsonian.

    As mentioned, the Pacific Northwest is beautiful. (Including Vancouver, BC, Canada) Trains in the USA are not very good, but there is a train (the "Empire Builder") from Seattle to Chicago that would provide a lot of scenery and maybe a nice break in a tiring trip.

    Re Florida it is fine if you like beaches, golf, or deep sea fishing. Beyond that there is the Orlando area, which is the same sort of synthetic environment as Vegas. And just as amazing. Probably worth a few days.

    If you are a foodie at all, New Orleans and Louisiana cajun country is a can't miss. Cajun music is a lot of fun, too. Again, for a foodie, the variety of our regional barbeque styles is worth exploring.

    Feel free to PM if you'd like more specifics. This blather has gone on enough!
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  8. turbodieselvw

    turbodieselvw Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 29, 2010
    Two weeks in SARNIA! There's really nothing much to do in Sarnia. Hope you're going there for work.......
  9. JohnMetsn

    JohnMetsn Mu-43 Veteran

    Meeting with relatives. Don't know much what to do there either...from photographic point of view :wink:

  10. John M Flores

    John M Flores Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 7, 2011
    Somerville, NJ
    There's a giant camera obscura in San Francisco.

    Sent from my iPhone using Mu-43 App
  11. ksn

    ksn Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 6, 2011
    Typical tourist spots in San Francisco include Fisherman's Wharf, Lombard Street (curvy road), Golden Gate Bridge, Union Square (shopping + cable cars), Ghirardelli Square (chocolate), Alcatraz Island (prison), Coit Tower (art?), and probably some other stuff I'm forgetting. Maybe the Ferry Building but I don't know if that's any fun for tourists. There's also a duck bus city tour that drives in the streets and can float in the water but I have no idea if it's any good, I see them around all the time (Ride The Ducks San Francisco | San Francisco Duck Tours). If you plan to go to Alcatraz, I would get tickets ahead of time, as the last time I went their schedule wasn't too flexible cause the tours were getting full.

    If you're looking for more active things, you can rent bicycles (near Fisherman's Wharf I think) and bike over the Golden Gate Bridge and then take the ferry back into SF. Somewhere in downtown you can rent 2-seat gocart type vehicles as well and it tells you were to drive/turn while giving you an audio tour of the city (found it: GoCar - The Cure for the Common Tour. Exciting sightseeing activities in San Francisco, San Diego and Miami!). Muir Woods National Park is about 15-25 minutes north of SF and there are hiking trails there and lots of trees hundreds of feet tall (gotta cross the Golden Gate Bridge to get there so maybe kill two birds with one stone).

    Last thing, the California Academy of Sciences is suppose to be a lot of fun, especially if you have children. They just relocated last year and it's suppose to be really cool. I really have to go myself sometime, but I haven't found the chance. California Academy of Sciences - San Francisco Museum and Planetarium - Bay Area Natural History Museum

    EDIT: WINE! Sonoma Wine Country and Napa Valley are both about an hour or two away. If you're into that kinda stuff, seems like people can spend days there :)

    Reno is about 3 hours away, but you're going to LV, so don't bother.
  12. snkenai

    snkenai Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 5, 2010
    Get away from the coastal cities. See the real USA, mid west small cities and rural farm and ranch land. A coast to coast drive (3000 miles) gives a true cross section of America with amazing photographic opertunities. Warning! You may not wwant to leave.
    Ya'll stop by now, Ya Hear?
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  13. geljdid

    geljdid New to Mu-43

    May 2, 2011
    Rochester, NY
    In Niagara Falls I recommend the cave of the winds, you get to walk on these platforms at the base of one of the falls and it is very refreshing when it is warm out. Other then that and the boat that goes close to the falls there is nothing much to do on the US side, since most of the area is kinda run down.

    You could use one of the days and take a trip to Rochester to go see the Eastman house ,which has a great photo museum, or there is Mount Hope Cemetery, and Chimney Bluffs park.
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  14. BrianK

    BrianK Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 20, 2011
    Lansing MI
    Well your only 45 Minutes from Detroit, great shots of rebuilding AND decay in the same place.

    If you cross over from Sarnia and turn right ( north ) there is mile after mile of beautiful coastline.

    We also have enough Michigan based M43 members to have a mini M43 meetup somewhere.

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  15. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Real Name:
    I'll second the Washington DC recommendation. The Smithsonian Museums around the mall are very good and there is a large Air and Space Annex out by Dulles airport that is huge and has amazing stuff, like a space shuttle, etc. Very different from the British Museum since it's a number of different buildings and they have more modern stuff than antiquities. They are also free except for the parking fee at the Annex.
  16. zettapixel

    zettapixel Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 12, 2010
    +1 for Muir Woods in SF, and it's kind of on the way to Wine Country if you decide to go there. Also the view of the Bay from Sausalito is great.

    For NYC, lot's of interesting places, gotta be more specific about what you're looking for. Not sure where you'll stay, but I know some people stay in Jersey City as a cheaper alternative with decent transportation options. If so, there are some very nice skylines from that side of Hudson. Some samples (I work nearby):
    #1, #2, #3, #4
  17. JohnMetsn

    JohnMetsn Mu-43 Veteran

    Thank you, that gives me some light where to escape :biggrin: Problem is, my father-in-law doesn't even want to stop there, as he considers Detroit a dangerous place. It's truly difficult to mix family vacation (with my wife and 3-years old son) and my photo hobby.

    Unfortunately I'll not be able to drive, so I'll be fully dependent on public transportation or my father-in-law. Or my legs...

    Ppl from NYC, would you recommend a view from ESB or 30 Rock? The ESB being taller and NY classic sounds better, but overall from the reviews on the net it seems that tourists usually prefer the view from the NBC building.

    I gotta say I'm surprised by relatively high prices for such attractions. I used to live in Tokyo for some time and such things were much cheaper there, observations desks on high buildings being commonly completely free (the ESB costs $36 for the top floor, while the express ticket costs $55.11 for one adult)
  18. e.besana

    e.besana Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 16, 2010
    Tarrytown, NY
    Visit the Hudson River Valley

    Hi Kosta,

    I am from the NYC area. I was born in Manhattan and grew up in the suburbs about a 40 minute train ride to the center of Manhattan.

    Much of NYC was built on industry dependant on the Hudson River. Many industry big wigs built estates along the Hudson River north of NYC. Below is a link to where you can get started.

    Historic Hudson Valley - Home

    There are trains from NYC to the area but once you get there you'll probably need a car to get around.

    I also suggest visiting Bear Mountain State Park for Panoramic Views of the Hudson River Valley.

    It really is a beautiful area and I am very lucky to call it home. If you are going to be in NYC for 10 days I suggest taking 1 of them to visit this area.

    You can PM me if you want more details or have any specific questions.
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  19. turbodieselvw

    turbodieselvw Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 29, 2010
    I was going to suggest that you rent a car but if you won't be able to drive then you're stuck with your relatives or public transportation. Hope you're able to get around somehow.

  20. zpuskas

    zpuskas Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 25, 2011
    Santa Barbara, CA
    If you're looking for scenery you can travel to Bishop (on US395), see Mt. Whitney, head to Mammoth Lakes (check out Hot Creek), then head to Lee Vining to see Mono Lake. From Lee Vining you can enter Yosemite via Tioga Pass on the east side and then exit Yosemite and head to SFO. This is one of my favorite areas.
    Have fun and welcome!
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