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New Paltz is quite possibly one of my favorite places in the country. The scenery is amazing with the Shawangunks and the Ridge, not to mention Mohonk Mountain and Bonticaue Crag. I would recommend coming here just to see the natural beauty of the area. It has its own unique beauty and people are often shocked that it's New York. The town is friendly and the energy is creative -- a great place to get away and relax.
Living near Seattle is such a treat. If you get the chance to visit, make sure you get some fresh donuts at the end of Pike's Place Market! They are absolutely wonderful. If you can find a place that serves felafel, try it -- it's surprisingly good!
I lived in Austin for nine years. Austin is very cool, except that it's so darned hot in the summer. Check out Barton Springs pool in Zilker park, an enormous spring-fed pool, always seventy degrees, perfect for a scorching day. A music reviewer for the Austin paper once wrote "Who's playing this weekend? Ho, hum, the usual embarassment of riches." No kidding. You can find live music any night of the week. Halloween in Austin is a sight to behold, thousands of people partying downtown.
This was a fantastic place, loved the waterfall. Tour was really good, even swimming in the mangroves. I got to see a lot of wildlife -- apparently unusual for this time of year. I recommend the Everglades as a place to stay but you will need a car or hook up with friendly people.
I spent two months traveling the U.S.A., and without a doubt the highlight was Chicago. A big city with friendly people, a stunning waterfront, and real vibrancy. The inner northern suburbs like Lakeview and Lincoln Park are full of great bars and restaurants and awesome nightlife. Check it out.
Visit Sacramento -- it's a tranquil place. I suggest enjoying a delicious coffee in the naked lounge -- it's great!
Big Bear Lake is an awesome town hidden in the mountains. I felt like I was in the Alps! I stopped there on my way to Las Vegas and Joshua Tree. I stayed for three days when I only planned to stop for the night. I went kayaking and hiked to Castle Rock which has great views of the lake and alpine forest. I'd love to come back in winter and try snowboarding!
Pack a sweater! Because Santa Cruz is in California and a beach town, many people think it will be warm and sunny. Actually, it can get surprisingly cold. Also, don't count on swimming in the ocean, unless you wear a wetsuit. As with most of Northern California beaches, the water is freezing.
Polebridge is the most beautiful place in US. I have not been there since the late 70's, and I have never forgotten the beauty.
I've been to a lot of beach towns, but Myrtle Beach is one of the best for the younger crowd. Everyone is friendly and people actually talk to other people, unlike most beaches.
Tampa is the only true city in Florida -- real people, no attitude, and great nightlife. Go!
Miami Beach has great nightclubs that are open late. I didn't get much sleep but had fun!
Portland... it isn't a big tourist destination really, but there may be no better example of the ideal small American city. It's a young town and the locals are some of the most genuinely friendly people you'll find anywhere. It has a lively downtown and nightlife. And it's surrounded on all sides by great outdoor hiking areas, including the spectacular Columbia River Gorge. Mt. St. Helens is a short drive away, and if you're into skiing, check out nearby Mt. Hood. It's the only mountain in North America with year-round snow skiing.
If you are only going to be visiting San Francisco I would advise that you stay in San Francisco. Being in Oakland and having to travel to San Francisco would take an hour or more. Also if you go out at night in the city you would not have to worry about making it back to Oakland.
Kauai is packed with adventures and it's easy to fall in love with the scenery. It's a small island without much in the way of nightlife or shopping, so I recommend coming here for farm work or camping. I worked on a small farm in Kilauea it was beautiful but don't expect the bus to get you unless you are in a very well traveled area, instead hitchhiking works fine. You are going to want to do the Kalalau trail for sure, it's intense and a bit intimidating. Make sure to give the trail plenty of time, you don't want to have to rush out from poor planning. I think Kauai isn't the best for clear waters of snorkeling or surfing, but hiking is your best bet. The many local farmers markets make cheap and healthy eating easy.
I've been to Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco. Los Angeles is good if you want to experience "Hollywood". Other than that, if you want to experience social beaches I would head to San Diego. If you want a really great city experience, nothing beats San Francisco. There is a lot to do in Los Angeles but be careful because places like ritzy Beverly Hills will very quickly go into some of LA's very ghetto destricts. Same with Hollywood -- past the main touristy area, the town becomes very ghetto. My experience is nothing feels quite as scary as downtown Los Angles at night. By all costs, stay clear of South Central. Venice is an interesting place and so is Santa Monica for some classic social, if not eclectic, culture. Traffic's horrible. Air is terrible. Hey, it's Los Angeles.
From all I have learned about Hyder, Alaska, it appears to be a great place to visit and possibly live. It has the best of two worlds -- one, it can be reached by road and then it in nestled in a remote part of Alaska. It is the farthest south that an Alaska town can be reached by highway!
Gainesville is mostly a college town, so if you're there you're probably there to do something related to the university, such as going to a game.
Minneapolis is a great city with a lot of diversity and lots of Swedish Americans. The people are very nice and the city is beautiful. Set on 10 or so lakes, it is a perfect summertime get away.
Anchorage is a world class city. One of my 5 favorite cities in the US.

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