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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.
VIVA Las Vegas!!! Las Vegas rocks. We only slept at the hostel 5 hours daily, we were out on the Strip in the casinos, or at the titty bars or out hiking at the Grand Canyon. Hoover Dam rocks too! You either love or hate this town, and I LOVE IT!!
Albuquerque doesn't have much going for it except for the area called Nob Hill around the U of New Mexico. A funky, hip enclave of intreresting stores, restaurants and galleries.
Madison is a great city with friendly people. Other than being the state capital, it's mostly a university town. State Street, running between the university and the capitol building, is the center of all downtown activity.
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.
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.
Provincetown is a nightmare. Why is it that every hotel/motel/guesthouse/hostel makes you rent for minimum two nights? Want to pass through P-town for a nice overnight trip? Good luck.
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.
Visit Sacramento -- it's a tranquil place. I suggest enjoying a delicious coffee in the naked lounge -- it's great!
Monroe is a beautiful little town full of friendly people. I would love to visit there again very soon
Buffalo is a weird town, not much going on. It seemed strangely deserted when we arrived on a Saturday night. But I would recommend a stay in the Buffalo hostel if visiting Niagara Falls (a short bus ride away).
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.
Stay out of West Baltimore.
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 :).
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.
Everyone thinks of Orlando as the city with a lot of amusement parks, but actually the amusement parks are all located south of the city (mostly around Kissimmee). The city itself has a great downtown with a lot going on and it's worth checking out.
The harbor in Juneau has the feel of a movie set -- it has been ruined by the big cruise ships.
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.
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.
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.


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