So I'm heading to the US for a month (start of June to the start of July), without knowing much of what I can do there. I'll be starting and ending in Seattle with my brother and father, and the basic plan is to head down the coast, though we haven't decided anything yet, which is where you guys come in. Basically I'd appreciate knowing anything that's worth doing/seeing (or even eating) from national parks to gorge-swings.
You gotta stop by the Santa Monica Pier at least to say you've been there. In Seattle, I'd stop by the fish market, hit the space needle(food's rather expensive there, but the view is great), grab dinner at Zin Zani, and expect to be there a while(it's more than food). Do the "Underground tour" there. Hit San Francisco, see Alcatraz, China town and of course the Golden gate bridge... If you take the Golden gate from San Fran, lock your doors before you get into Oakland . Hit LA, see Hollywood, Disneyland, Universal Studios, Mann's Chinese Theater, Hollywood walk of fame, Sunset strip, You know... tourist stuff. You might want to get a reservation to stay in Long Beach at the Queen Mary. It's a hotel now. But it would be a good place to stay, then you can do the tour and all..
"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." Thomas Jefferson
Tommy and Ev Q covered a bit. Being a CA resident I can give you some in depth.
My trek up into Oregon is limited, I have only been there. To portland once briefly, most of the time was at a (second)cousin's farm, and she no longer owns the store for "Fir point farms", just the farm behind it. Aurora is a neat little town if you're looking for some antiques or local sandwiches. None of this is on the coast I'm afraid.
I'd say your first leg of the tour ought to be into the Redwoods area. 3 little towns as one (Trinidad, Arcata, Eureka). Nice national park to camp in if you don't mind the humidity. Also some nice smaller campgrounds that are family owned, even better because there are less people, though not as big of trees. There is a tourist resort near that with a gondola of some sort--definitely worth checking out.
If nothing else, you MUST dine at the Samoa Cookhouse. Missing out on this would be a cryin' shame. Lunches are great there but the breakfast is absolutely magnificent. Good portions too. It is actually of some historical significance local to that area. Used to be the dining hall that served the lumberjacks in the area a long time ago. It has some of the antique logging equipment used by the lumberjacks from back then. Very neat to behold.
In fact my great grandfather was one of those lumberjacks. So this place is actually sentimental to me.
Should you care: The picture posted on the far wall from the entrance (at least back then in 2002) is of the group. It's a rather old picture and I couldn't tell a lot of details, but I believe he is on the right side (as in to your right) of the crowd. He was a tall blonde-ish guy with a mustache and glasses. At least it looked like him from all the family pictures I have of him. But who knows?
Also, Kate's world famous Smoked Salmon is second to none. To DIE for. http://katyssmokehouse.com/saveur.html
I can personally assure you this is all locally fished and made with a genuine original family recipe passed down. I know you aren't huge off into meat but you did tell me you still ate fish so I encourage you to not miss out on this treat. Best smoked salmon I *ever* had. Been in business a long time. Near that is another breakfast cafe/gift shop. They make "Lumberjack" pancakes (stacked 3-5 high and take up your whole plate).
Neat little town and that is a place I'd like to live one day.
Going south from there through the redwoods, there is a choice of routes you could take. All of them are good but I would advise you to choose what is best for you. There are trees so big you could cut a hole in them and drive your car through it! In fact there are at least 2 or 3 stops that have just such a thing. Lots of neat little stores on the way. There is a main route and then there is "Avenue of the Giants". Either way, I think you'll enjoy the scenery and remember it for a lifetime.
San Francisco, there is Fisherman's Wharf. Full of neat little shops, arcades, restaurants, and fun things to do. Small amusement parks.
The Exploratorium is another stop in SF worth seeing if you want to check out a science amusement museum.
Also in addition to China Town, I think there is also a Japan town there too.
Marine World is an amusement park to consider or the SF Zoo. Heck I haven't been there in SO long I bet I'm not even scraping the proverbial iceberg of things to do there anymore.
Along the coast
The Monterey Bay Aquarium. I am ashamed to admit I have not been there yet though I have wanted to see it for a long time now.
You might consider checking out Santa Cruz--it's a definite party/surfer town.
Along the coast...meh, I have not seen San Luis Obispo. Briefly checked out santa barbara south of that, just passing through. It's just a valley/country area near the shore and with some mountains nearby as well. Actually it was an "accidental detour" coming home from SD last year because I forgot to get off hwy 101 going north to 5. I did sort of like it though. I went through some backroads splitting Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo to get to Maricopa and back to the highway so I could get back home.
SO. CAL CLUSTER:
Anyways the So. Cal metropolitan cluster is complicated. Santa Clarita is okay for a pit stop, but I'd avoid stopping for too long in San Fernando valley, same reasons as Oakland. South of there are Simi Valley And Augora Valley, both upscale. Through Augora you can get to Malibu and its wonderful beaches from there (*So* many women there your neck will get thrown out of whack just trying to look at all of them!). Lots of beautiful countryside, too.
South of there is Ventura to get to Hollywood.
Hah. Hollywood...ehh, I have mixed thoughts about that one. There is constantly sirens if you stay there at all. It has fallen from its former grace.
I suppose if you just stick to the main tourist attractions and avoid the hobos you should do okay. Maybe carry some form of personal protection if you have to walk anywhere like a taser, pepper spray/mace, or knife or something. On Hollywood strip there is Carnie's, a restaurant. However I am not sure as a vegetable centric if you'll want to eat chilli cheese burgers and hot dogs. Beverly hills is maybe worth a stroll. Some of the biggest mansions out there I ever saw anyhow.
Glendale Galleria is a mall that was SOOOO big it made my head hurt. And I remember there was one even bigger somewhere else but I don't remember what it was called. I'm sure if you research the biggest malls in southern CA, you'll find them.
EDIT: The Anaheim grand mall. Something like that. It's right there near Disneyland. 'Course this was almost 10 years ago.
Disney land: by far, a premiere choice. Now has 2 theme parks right next to each other instead of just one. You can get a dual all day pass to both theme parks for $120...at least I did back in 2007. Don't forget in addition to all the disney classics you have no doubt heard about, there is a Star Wars parlor in Tomorrowland and the Star Tours ride. Though I'll say that an MRFX lightsaber is NOT a cheap collector's item, especially in this store. Plus there is an indiana jones ride.
Universal studios: Think Jurrasic Park, Back to the Future, King Kong ride, E.T. ride, stuff like that. It probably has seen significant improvement and change since I was last there.
Knotts Berry Farm: Tons of rides all its own. All I remember are a pirate ship ride, a BatMan ride, a Boomerang ride, and a Charlie Brown themed restaurant. Oh and an echoing rock maze. I bet it has improved since.
Six Flags No, don't go to magic mountain. It's in San Fernando valley and you are more likely to get pick-pocketed and jacked by a random passerby.
At long last San Diego. I have only been here twice. The places to go I found so far: The Beaches (some are nude), The Discovery science center, Downtown, north park theater/mall, Qualcom Stadium (and if you like electronics stores, Fry's is near the stadium off hwy 15 on Aero Drive), and near UCSD and SDCC is university way with a huge variety of mexican restaurants like El Pasiano, a gym or two, smoothie and healthfood bars, vagina monologue stage and restaurant. A number of other things like that.
Do yourself a favor, AVOID starbucks.
Mexico? I suppose if you *really* wanted to, you could even go to Mexico, like to Tijuana or something. Good luck on that one. Make sure BEFORE you enter the country, that your car is in top condition and you have enough bribe money in case one of their corrupt police pull you over. And *don't* leave anything valuable inside the car if you go into a motel for a night. It WILL disappear.
A last consideration:
Lastly, this is a bit out of the way for you, BUT, suppose on your swing back you may consider taking Hwy 395 from S.D. and seeing Lake Tahoe and/or Placerville. If nothing else, I could take some time out of my schedule to meet you and be your tour guide. However this *will* add considerably to your trip mileage just to get there.
Anyways, good luck. May your trip be worth a lifetime of memories.
Last edited by Darth Avlectus; 05-24-2011 at 12:41 AM.