USA – San Francisco

The inner geek in me loved this place, probably because it is a the tech-hub of the world. Nonetheless, the atmosphere of San Franciso was great because it felt like LA (the people and culture, without being so geographically spreadout) and had the buzz of NYC (without being too busy and hectic). If I had to move to the USA, San Francisco would certainly be on my list.

Fisherman’s Wharf is a cool place to hang out, but it is very touristy. Parking is outrageous, with most places wanting US$45 or more a day. Try to park on the street or just use public transport. Some of the great things to do in San Francisco would be to check out the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, hop on a trolley tram, and visit Golden Gate Park (hop on a segway if you can!).

USA – Seattle

Seattle is a great quiet place to be. It is very much an outdoors kind of state, where you need to take in the scenery. We went across to Mount Olympic to visit the Hoh Rainforest.

We past Fork along the way, which is where scenes from Twilight were filmed. We went up the space needle like typical tourists, and had a great view of Seattle and the surrounding mountains that encompassed the city.

USA – Washington DC

DC is a beautiful place, but like most capital cities (if I can loosely use “most”). It is a city rich with history, so it is suited to people who are interested in how America came to be. You will see the White House, Lincoln Memorial, and many museums. The vast majority of the museums are free to enter.

Even for the history rich, I think 1-2 days in DC is plenty of time to explore the city.

USA – New York

There are great expectations placed upon New York, largely from all the hype on television and other travellers. It certainly lives up to all the hype. It is an extremely large city, the population of people in New York City (NYC) alone is almost as much as the whole of Australia. This is hard to believe until you have visited NYC. You will also notice how dirty and polluted the city is!

You can spend a very long time in New York. If you’re into shopping, get dropped off anywhere in NYC, and you will probably spend a day there circling a few blocks. The great thing is there is more than shopping in NYC, there are plenty of others things to see, do, eat. NYC is one of a few places in the USA where you can find good food – yet to find a place that makes a proper coffee though (Cafe Latte anyway).

Of the many places to visit, the standard ones to name a few are Fifth Ave, Times Square, Grand Central Station, Wall St.

USA – Miami

We decided to visit Miami due to seeing it feature in various movies and TV shows. Burn Notice fueled my need to explore Miami. The city is one very much focused on beach culture. We stayed down South Beach, which is the main party strip in Miami. A car is needed to get around Miami successfully, as you will find yourself driving around and taking in the surroundings. The other option is to sit on South Beach and absorb the Sun.

Apart from the beaches and the beautiful views driving across the bridges to South Beach, I cannot say there was much more to do in Miami. There is the equivalent of Hollywood Bld, but that it is much more quiet in comparison – almost a ghost town. To make the most of Miami, you need to hit the beaches by day, and clubs by night.

USA – Texas

Big flat and nothing like on TV is what I describe this place.

The stereotypes of people from Texas you see on TV did not exist on my visit. No cowboys, no horses, nothing more than a civilised city with big freeways, and citizens driving large trucks for no real reason. The only “stereotype” was the thick Texas accent you typically associate with this state.

I had family here, so I spent a lot of time with them. I stayed primarily in San Antonio, but made a day trip to Dallas. Even still, I could not be convinced there was a whole lot to do here…

The riverwalk in San Antonio was “neat”, but not much else stood out. Dallas was just another city, but there was not much there. A great place to eat is at Chama Gaucha which is a Brazillian Steak House. Definitely some of the better meat I had in the US! – http://www.chamagaucha.com/

USA – Las Vegas

After our initial stay in LA, we moved onto Las Vegas.
First thoughts, it’s hot. Second thought, what a party town.

It’s amazing to see how much money casinos are able to bring into a town, and it’s ability to develop such an entertainment hub in the middle of nowhere. We stayed at the Monte Carlo.

Shopping at the South Premium Outlet was great, plenty of brands and stock to choose from. Food was very hit and miss, but I would have to give American Fish (in Aria) a wrap as the food there was by far the best.

The days were spent shopping or lounging in pools, and the nights were spent gambling away or watching shows. The three shows we saw were “O” – Cirque De Soleil, Penn & Teller, and Phantom of the Opera. I would recommend all three of these shows, and you may be able to pick them up cheap off the strip from the stalls that try to sell last minute tickets.

George Clooney shooting ad for Mercedes Benz in Beverly Hills

In Beverly Hills, we had lunch at Villa Blanca, the reknown restaurant owned by Lisa Vanderpump. It so happened that an ad for Mercedes Benz was being filmed at the time.

After some inquiring, we heard that George Clooney was to star in this commercial. We decided to hover around for a bit, to see if he might show up. Sure enough, he arrived in his black Mercedes, was escorted into the car to be featured in the ad, and driven again after a few minutes of filming. What a life!

George created much buzz and interest. It was like nothing else mattered!

George Clooney filming an ad for Mercedes Benz outside Villa Blanca in Beverly Hills

George Clooney filming an ad for Mercedes Benz outside Villa Blanca in Beverly Hills

USA – Los Angeles

LA is a big and flat city, you need a car to get anywhere. It is why many tourists say LA is boring, there is simply a lack of public transport.

Things to do in LA: Beverly Hills – Rodeo Drive, Hollywood – Walk of the Stars, Universal Studios and Disneyland, and shopping of course.

In Beverly Hills, we had lunch at Villa Blanca, the reknown restaurant owned by Lisa Vanderpump. It so happened that an ad for Mercedes Benz was being filmed with George Clooney. More here. Other than spotting George, there was not much to actually “do” here.

We moved on to Hollywood, and I have to admit this place is nothing like what you see on TV. The place is dirty and run down. The walk of the stars offers about 10sec of excitement. You can walk around a bit, and see what you stumble across. We had a quick look at the Kodak Theatre, where a lot of red carpet movie launches occur.

If you are looking to trek to some outer suburbs, Santa Monica and San Deigo are two good places. Santa Monica is where you see all the roller skating scenes on beaches filmed in movies. It is a also a good place to soak in some real local atmosphere. San Deigo is a very much a South American feel town, and is a great change in atmosphere.

Universal Studios was a very cool experience. If you haven’t done anything like it before, it is great theme park to hit. The guided tour around Universal Tours, and some of the rides are amazing (I liked the Simpsons ride). You will probably spend a day here.

Disneyland is another cool experience. You need to be into the whole Disney thing back when you were younger to fully appreciate this. Those who do, will have a magical time here. There are rides, character photos, and shows. There are two Disney theme parks – Disneyland and Disney Adventure Park. Disneyland is where the Parade occurs each night, and the Adventure Park is where the Magic of Colour watershow occurs.