America west Coast

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Mrs. K Nolan | 21:17 Fri 23rd Apr 2010 | Travel
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My friend and i are travelling the west coast of America for three weeks over summer and we are having a 'booking' day on sunday. I am looking for advice on the following:

1) A good hotel to stay in when in LA - it would need to be nice, middle price range and close to all the trashy stuff tourists like to see.

2) Must see things in LA

3) My friend is desparate to go to San Diego zoo - is it worth staying there for a day or so or is the zoo the only thing worth visiting?

4) Good and cheap motels and places to stay whilst travelling - looked at Motel 6, Super 8 and Best westerns as these are the most popular but wondered if there were any i had missed.

5) Napa Valley - i would love to go but not sure if it is very expensive? If it is worht a visit which area(s) are the best?

6) Somewhere nice and not too expensive to stay in Yosemite.

7) Other stuff on the West coast to see - San Fransisco, Santa Barbara etc.

8) The one quesion that is casusing me the most stress - where do we stay in Vegas!!! So many hotels, so many reviews all have good and bad - would rather have a solid review from someone who has been recently!

Thank you to anyone who replies - your help is very much appreciated. So much to see, want to make sure we see as much as we can.


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>is it worth staying there for a day or so or is the zoo the only thing worth visiting?

Well San Diago is only the 9th largest city in the USA with a population of 1,250,000 (bigger than San Francisco) so I am sure there is nothing to do there apart from the zoo. :-)

If San Diago was in the UK it would be the second largest city after London.

Sorry - San Diego not Diago
San Francisco is stunning, I'd say it's a must do and lots to do there sightseeing wise, can highly recommend Alcatraz.

I stayed in a Log Cabin in Yosemite National Park itself, good fun but one cabin did get attacked by a bear during the night which scared the hell out of the lads staying in it. It didn't get in, think the cabins are pretty bear proof but there were scratchmarks and slobber in the morning!
Venice Beach was also pretty cool, think Camden LA style :)

I loved Monterey too, they have a great aquarium there.

Universal Studios is brilliant, I'd go there everytime over Disney.

Six Flags is also good if you like roller coasters and such.
For such a major trip I would buy 2 or 3 books on the area.

While the books may cost you £20 or £30 in total, they can often easily save you that much money, and improve your holiday no end.

A quick search in Amazon found this (and there are others). The DK Eyewitness travel guides are excellent.
>San Francisco is stunning

I agree. I have been to the USA half a dozen times on business (New York, Atlanta, San Fran etc) and San Francisco was my favorite and the place I would love to go back to for a holiday.

Most USA cities have downtown areas full of high buildings and anonymous flats that lack character. While SF does have its downtown area much of the area around it has a "human" feel, with many wooden victorian houses that make it seem more personal and lived in.

Few people walk anywhere in the USA, but SF is full of people walking about and it is one of the few US cities that can be seen best walking around.

It is rather "touristy" but that does not spoil it. It caters well for tourists.

Lots to see in SF - Golden Gate bridge, Golden Gate Park, Fishermans wharf, old cable cars (still used by people to get around), Chinatown, the "bendy" street, Alkatraz, etc etc, and lots of good places to eat.

You must allow yourself a few days in SF.
These pictures may want to make you go to SF.

Cable car, fishermans wharf in the background, the harbour (with some historic boats), and Alkatraz prison (island) in the distance.,%20CA%20hi-res.jpg

And here an example of some of the lovely old Victorian wooden houses that are all over the city


And here is the "bendy" street
The third link does not work, lets try again

I'm just going to pick out items 3 and 8 to save time...

San Diego is actually a better place to visit and stay than L.A., in my opinion. We live in the western U.S. and go to San Diego as often as possible.

The zoo in Balboa Park is one of the outstanding zoos in the world. It can be done in a day, but I find the ape, monkey and orangutan exhibits take almost half a day. It's done very well and the animals well treated.
In addition to the zoo, Balboa Park also has 15 museums, including the San Diego Air and Space Museum which is outstanding, the Museum of San Diego History, and the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center as well as the Old Globe Theater.
A short drive to Point Loma is always in order, especially at dusk to see The Cabrillo Monument located at the extreme end of Point Loma.
The Star of India is an iron clad clipper ship that is berthed near downtown. Don't miss Fiesta del Reyes on Juan Street, downtown San Diego.
Sea World in Diego is the original and still the best in my opinion/
If you go, locate Harbor Island just across the street from Lindbergh Filed (the main airport)... there are a number of centrally located hotels on the man made island at the end of which is Tom Ham's Lighthouse restaurant ( )... best Margaritas in town... watch the sun go down over the harbor or catch a U.S. Naval carrier entering or leaving the harbor...
Vegas... Google up Gold Coast hotels (or seen here: )... They're not on the strip (about a mile west, near the mountains), but excellent hotels (there are two or three of them) at a very reasonable cost. You'll be amazed at the size of the rooms. 5 or 6 restaurants in each. They run shuttle busses to the strip 24/7 about every 15 minutes... Welcome to the U.S.!
LA - you can visit the Queen Mary for dinner, Venice Beach is quirky
SFO lots of touristy things and you can do Napa Valley coach trips from there
Yosemite- stayed at Yosemite Lodge when working in SF - 4 hour drive from SF. If you stay at Yosemite the Ahwahnee lodge is a `must` for breakfast. Interesting building and they do fantastic eggs benedict
Vegas - stayed at Planet Hollywood recently with work. It`s right on the Strip
As for number 3, San Diego, yes the zoo is worth seeing along with Sea World, The park where the zoo is located, Lego Land, Wild animal park, Maritime museum on the waterfront and host of other places. More then enough for 2 or 3 days. Just don't go over the border to Tia Juana Mexico as it is very dangerous. The weather will be nice due to the fact you are close to the Pacific Ocean. I do hope you can get up to Oregon as the coast there is spectaculare.
pls do the Carmel, Monteray, Big Sur trip along the coast, its lovely, also along the way there is a national park along the coast with woodland walks plenty of wild flowers, barbeque pits to use and the seals can be seen swimming in the sea, everywhere along there is worth visiting.
We like to stay south of Yosemite at Oakhurst, it would depend on whoch direction you're coming from though. Entering from the South you can then take the 30+ mile 'detour' up to Glacier POint then leave the park either to the West, El Portel is popular or over the meadows to the North. Everything gets booked up though and can be pricey.
In Las Vegas we stay off the Strip at Tuscany Suites on, I think, Flamingo, massive rooms and walkable up onto the Strip, comes out near Paris, hany for the Bellagio.

Look out for the magazines etc offering cheap rates, we never used them on the West coast but onm the East we used them a lot.
Seen an error, it's Mariposa west of Yosemite, it's about an hours drive out of the park.

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