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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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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).
When God created the world and needed a place to rest on Day 7, he created Nantucket -- no doubt. I've been there in 2007 during May -- it was divine!
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.
Stayed in Glenwood Springs in 1999! Went there for a 10 day ski trip and stayed 4 months. What an awsome spot. So much to see and do. Plenty of outdoor life, skiing in winter, mountain biking, hiking, frisbee golf in summer. The Glenwood Springs Hostel is great with all the assistance you need and a wonderful atmosphere. A definate hotspot!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.


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