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Eugene is a great city, filled with personality. The hippy-ness gets to me a little sometimes, but other than that, I have a wonderful time in Eugene.
I think Houston is a great city. It may not be the most exciting place to visit, but hell that doesn't matter. It's one of the greatest cities in the world.
Syracuse is a very upbeat, small city with lots of young entrepreneur energy and vision. There a great potential here for innovative city-center redevelopment and interaction with the many colleges and universities nearby.
Anchorage is a world class city. One of my 5 favorite cities in the US.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Visit Sacramento -- it's a tranquil place. I suggest enjoying a delicious coffee in the naked lounge -- it's great!
Seward is a nice little town. The hike at Hardings ice field is a damn good day hike. Reasonably strenuous and we saw a bear and 2 cubs. We had a great lunch at Harbour Dinner Club. Surprisingly, sea food is expensive in Alaska. Expect to pay $20 per head. Another thing to do in Seward is the resurrection Bay Cruise. We went all the up to the Aialik Glacier. Lots of wildlife enroute... bald eagles, puffins, killer whales (we saw about 20!), humpback, lots of other birds, and also sea lions... many :).
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.
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!
Beware of "work trade" scams on Maui . A "work trade" on Maui typically is labor, babysitting, housecleaning, or other job (like at a hostel or private residences) in exchange for a room. I was on Maui for 6 months: For 3 months, I babysat at a hostel for the owners' child, gave the child daily art lessons, worked in the garden with the child, and did part-time managing at the hostel. I got ripped off by the hostel's owners for one month's worth of managing work I did at this hostel. They didn't want me to leave (they wanted to keep me as a "serf") so they took 3 days to return to me my passport & car title that they kept for me in their locked safe that they have for their guests' valuables. In 6 months, I met dozens of people who got lied to and/or riped off by various "work trade" employers. If you are a US citizen, demand minimum wage, a work contract in writing, and get a receipt for your rent paid or for the amount of hours you worked when rent is due. Don't rent a room…
There is a Farmers Market festival every Thursday in Fullerton, with music and lots of food. Great location for Disneyland, Knox Berry Farm, California Adventure, and other scenic adventures.
Come visit for Christmas, if you can. On Christmas Eve, everyone's houses are lined with luminarias (paper bags with candles), and everyone walks through town and visits. It's a beautiful, non-commercial, community-oriented way to spend Christmas! Also, the best restaurant in town is Fuego, in La Posada de Santa Fe-- but it's VERY expensive. If you enjoy the arts or architecture, be sure to visit the Santa Fe Opera House. It's a gorgeous semi-outdoors building-- I saw Carmen there, and during her death scene, we were also watching a lightning storm. Cold, but fabulous! Santa Fe is a great place to visit. Be warned, however, that the shopping is expensive-- and if you don't like pretentious art galleries and boutiques, you probably won't enjoy shopping there at all.
The bus station is very near the airport just west of downtown. The Amtrak however pulls up to a spitoon in the middle of a tiny Native American reserve town half-an-hour out of town. This year in Late September, it's still over 100 degrees F every day. Tempe is probably a more interesting place for 20 somethings to hang out. Phoenix metro is very spread out but there are good desert hikes sprinkled throughout the neighborhoods. Just look for big hills and you're likely to find a trailhead. Phoenix is a hotbed for bar culture and you'll not be want for great happening friendly venues no matter your persuasion. September is also a good time to hit town and score a resort job. Apartments are cheap (compared to LA NY or SF for instance) and roomate situations are plenty. Aparently the one available hostel begs an alternative. If you have a car the 'burbs have $2-$3 second run movie houses. Some communities have cheap-to-get-in community pools but they may not be open all year…
Miami Beach has great nightclubs that are open late. I didn't get much sleep but had fun!
Of course most visitors to Berkeley go to Telegraph to shop, but there are plenty of other areas that offer a completely different type of shopping experience, if the begging teenager/dirty hippie scene isn't your thing. Try College Ave (go several blocks past the dorms) and Fourth Street. Fourth Street is a bit trendier, but both are pleasant, though too yuppie-ish for some.
Tampa is the only true city in Florida -- real people, no attitude, and great nightlife. Go!
Arches National Park was full of wonderful sights. The La Sal Mountains are gorgeous!! I love Moab and will come back there someday.


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