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one year in America

Mama-to-many

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  • Added on: October 6th, 2011
If you were interested in US history and national parks and you had just one year in the USA, what would be your must-sees?
Travel would likely be done in an RV or similar.
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busman7

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  • Added on: October 6th, 2011
So much to see but I'll give you my idea of 2 musts + a couple maybe if's.

I have visited a lot of places in the US but 2 that really blew my mind & are representative of the people that formed the US are Gettysburg PA & The Alamo in San Antonio TX.

The drive to/from Tombstone AZ, is an example of how at times the trip overshadows the destination. Makes one wonder what drew those early settlers in that, even today, sparsely settled area of the country. Don't get me wrong, the destination is a cool restored town, well worth the visit & lots of the names in Boot-hill will be familiar.

The other recommendation would be to drive The Mother Road, US Route 66 from Chicago to the "End of the Trail" at the Santa Monica Pier. Lots of history & lots of interesting people to meet along the way.

Oh yeah the UFO Museum in Roswell NM is pretty 8-)

Forgot, when booking your flight check on the cost of a stop in Hawaii on the way, as you can't go wrong spending a few days there. When I returned from PP it was actually a couple hundred dollars cheaper to go via Honolulu than straight through to Lax where I transferred to El Salvador.
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Seat24A

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  • Added on: October 6th, 2011
Agree with the last post - Gettysburg is really interesting, and also maybe Valley Forge if you are going to be on the east coast.

Since you mentioned NPs and RVs, I would recommend the ones in Utah - Arches, Bryce, Zion, and Canyonlands. The scenery is incredible and there are plenty of campsites (not just the big ones in the parks, but also some state ones off the beaten track). We went in early October and the weather was still good, but much less crowds.

The Grand Canyon and Yosemite NPs are "must see" places, but also check out some of the less visited parks like Joshua Tree and Sequoia/Kings Canyon.

CarolD

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  • Added on: October 8th, 2011
One year is a long time and you could probably see quite a bit of it if you had the money, but here are the sites I would visit...

There are 58 National parks in the US and I think the "Must sees" would be Yosemite (California), Grand Canyon (Arizona), Mammoth Cave (Kentucky), Petrified Forest (Arizona), Crater Lake (Oregon), Carlsbad Cavern (New Mexico)

"Must See" US Historical sites

Mt. Rushmore - South Dakota

The East Coast:

Washington D.C - There is a lot of history here icluding The US capital building, The White House, Arlington Cemetery, The Washington Monument, The Lincoln Memorial and many Museums.

Virginia - Mount Vernon, Home of George Washington
Monticello, Home of Thomas Jefferson
Colonial Williamsberg

Massachusetts - The Freedom Trail in Boston
The USS Constitution Ship
Plimoth Plantation
Historic Salem

Maryland - Antietam (Civil War) National Battlefield

EMH

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  • Added on: October 10th, 2011
CarolD wrote:One year is a long time and you could probably see quite a bit of it if you had the money, but here are the sites I would visit...

There are 58 National parks in the US and I think the "Must sees" would be Yosemite (California), Grand Canyon (Arizona), Mammoth Cave (Kentucky), Petrified Forest (Arizona), Crater Lake (Oregon), Carlsbad Cavern (New Mexico)

"Must See" US Historical sites

Mt. Rushmore - South Dakota

The East Coast:

Washington D.C - There is a lot of history here icluding The US capital building, The White House, Arlington Cemetery, The Washington Monument, The Lincoln Memorial and many Museums.

Virginia - Mount Vernon, Home of George Washington
Monticello, Home of Thomas Jefferson
Colonial Williamsberg

Massachusetts - The Freedom Trail in Boston
The USS Constitution Ship
Plimoth Plantation
Historic Salem

Maryland - Antietam (Civil War) National Battlefield


I think this is a pretty good list. I would add Yellowstone to the must see list of National Parks. And a trip to Yellowstone can easily be combined with the Grand Tetons. I think seeing Redwoods and/or Sequoias also have to be on the list.

The east coast is the best place for US history though it depends on what type of history you're interested in. New York City should obviously be on the list. As should vermont for it's small towns (best if you can be there in the fall when the leaves are changing color). The southeastern part of the US should be added as well, particularly Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA. Oh and St. Augustine, FL, the oldest city in the US (at least the oldest inhabited by white people).

Of course, there's also Native American history as well as the spanish influence (best see out west, for example the missions in California).

BTW, I've been to about 35 states and in my opinion, the prettiest are New Mexico and Colorado. And Hawaii of course!

busman7

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  • Added on: October 10th, 2011
EMH you forgot #1 for pretty (in a rugged way) Alaska! 8-)

Should add that when asked my favorite country, I say that I have narrowed it down to 4 with Alaska being one.
Last edited by busman7 on October 10th, 2011, edited 1 time in total.
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Andromeda

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  • Added on: October 10th, 2011
Mama-to-many wrote:If you were interested in US history and national parks and you had just one year in the USA, what would be your must-sees?
Travel would likely be done in an RV or similar.


Man oh man, how long is a piece of string? I could go on for hours, but history first-

Boston/ New England: dates from the 1600s, Boston is an incredible city and loads of neat little historical spots in the state like Plymouth, MA and Nantuckett (used to be one of the biggest populations in the country! not cheap tho and knowing you it might not fly then ;) ). If you have a year though definitely check out the rest of New England as it's gorgeous especially in the fall- I'm partial to New Hampshire as I have family there (and there are things like the Shaker Village and Bretton Woods where the World Bank/IMF was founded, but Vermont and Maine are also neat places.

At this point I feel obliged to mention Canada as Quebec is nearby and has awesome history as well, just did that trip in July and Quebec City is like any town you could imagine in Europe/ likewise old Montreal.

NYC/Philly: Ellis Island, Liberty Bell, Valley Forge, Gettysburg, etc etc. I confess I've not seen a single one of these now that I look at the list despite growing up in Pennsylvania! :?

Washington DC/Virginia is an absolute MUST! My sister lives in DC and you can spend a week there easily without seeing everything (plus did I mention it's all free? ;) ), and Jefferson's Monticello/University of Virginia are not too far as is colonial Williamsburg/ Jamestown. Lots and lots going on there.

I feel obliged to mention St. Augustine, Florida as it's the oldest settlement on the continent but you probably wouldn't like the rest of FL much (although nearby Savannah and Charlestown are lovely old cities).

Regarding the middle, if you're driving across I always found South Dakota to be the most interesting of them. You have Mt Rushmore, Custer State Park, Badlands Nat'l Park... and a random one but if your kids read Little House on the Prairie there's still a bit to see from that in De Smet where Laura grew up (call me weird but I've always wanted to go!). Or another option is following the old Oregon Trail as there are highways along all of it now... Route 66 too, but I genuinely do not know a single American who's done it, for some reason that seems to be a mainly foreign fascination (not knocking it, just making an observation!).

Some Spanish history in the South West, Taos NM and Old San Diego spring to mind, but there are loads of old little missions in that part of the world in California, AZ, and New Mexico. Mesa Verde NP is supposed to be really neat for all the old Indian pueblos etc, and there are lots of other similar sites in places like Arizona.

National Parks are far easier to go through in a list, others have definitely started but the ones I feel obliged to mention are Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons (Wyoming- more spectacular scenery than Yellowstone next door, tho the thermal activity/wildlife's better in Yellowstone), Everglades, Glacier (in Montana, tho apparently Canada's prettier across the border), Smoky Mountains, and Arches/Zion. Most National Parks alas charge a fee but I think US$80 is good for one vehicle for a year.

Both of these lists btw have the glaring omission that I've yet to visit Alaska or Hawaii. :(

Happy planning! :D

EMH

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  • Added on: October 10th, 2011
busman7 wrote:EMH you forgot #1 for pretty (in a rugged way) Alaska! 8-)

Should add that when asked my favorite country, I say that I have narrowed it down to 4 with Alaska being one.


Didn't forget it, but haven't been there personally so I can only imagine.

busman7

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  • Added on: October 10th, 2011
Sorry EMH I agreed with your others & just wanted to get Alaska in there but could of done it in a different way.
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EMH

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  • Added on: October 11th, 2011
busman7 wrote:Sorry EMH I agreed with your others & just wanted to get Alaska in there but could of done it in a different way.


Thanks though not really necessary. I didn't take your comment in any negative way.

rhythm_blues

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  • Added on: October 11th, 2011
Wow, a lot of good advice so far.

One thing I recommend doing, since you'll have a lot of time, is to explore different parts of the U.S. and the immigrant cultures that shaped each region.

For instance, I don't think anyone has mentioned Seattle or San Francisco, which have large Asian-American populations. Seattle has a pan-Asian-American museum called the Wing Luke Asian Museum that's pretty cool, as well as a Chinatown/International District. San Francisco has a Chinatown too, as well as Angel Island, which I have to admit I haven't been to, but I understand was like a "West Coast Ellis Island," i.e. major immigration center for people coming from Asian/Pacific countries to the U.S.

In New York, of course, there's Ellis Island. Another interesting thing to see in New York is the Tenement Museum, in a section of New York where lots of Eastern European immigrants lived. There are lots of great museums in New York, lots to see and do, and lots of great restaurants too.

The Southwest and California are great places to explore the country's Mexican-American heritage. The region was part of Mexico before it became part of the U.S. I love San Antonio, TX. San Diego, CA has some great murals with Latino themes.

New Orleans is great too, with good food and jazz. It's not like any other place I've been in the U.S.

busman7

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  • Added on: October 11th, 2011
To carry on with r_b's theme, there are the Amish & Mennonite settlements in PA & Ohio.

2nd the love San Antonio, there's a lot more to it than the Alamo, which is really cool btw. 8-)
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Mama-to-many

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  • Added on: October 11th, 2011
Hey guys...thanks for these amazing replies. It's interesting to note that many of the things we had picked out as must-dos are on your lists too....you just never know when you're reading something on the internet - but you are real people giving experience-based advice (as opposed to being the marketing manager for the attraction!)
I'll be filing this all away for a later date.....
Thanks again.
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Andromeda

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  • Added on: October 14th, 2011
Mama-to-many wrote:Hey guys...thanks for these amazing replies. It's interesting to note that many of the things we had picked out as must-dos are on your lists too....you just never know when you're reading something on the internet - but you are real people giving experience-based advice (as opposed to being the marketing manager for the attraction!)
I'll be filing this all away for a later date.....
Thanks again.


I look forward to reading about it later. :) Just wondering what must-dos were on your list that we didn't hit if you care to share?

Mama-to-many

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  • Added on: October 16th, 2011
Andromeda wrote:Just wondering what must-dos were on your list that we didn't hit if you care to share?


There isn't much else on our list (just San Francisco and Texas) - everything else we had picked has been nominated, which is very exciting! (We'd still go to SF!!!)
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