Coming to the US of A... Need advice please! (Long Post)

  1. Hi Guys

    Ok.. I'm trying to plan a trip to the US with DH for around July/Aug 08 as i want to travel in Autumn. (i hate the heat)

    Currently, it looks like the current itinerary will be

    San Francisco
    Las Vegas (+ grand canyon)
    and Niagra Falls

    I have a few q's that i hope you TPFers can help me with. Also, it doesn't look like we'll be driving at all so it will be based on public transport/buses to get to different attractions, although we'll prob be flying between cities.

    1. My friend advised me that there is a really big Mall that has a massive multiplex etc... in LA somewhere. Do you know where it is? Any other recommendations on shopping sites?

    2. Am looking at the Omni Hotel in hollywood. Any other recommendations that are near public transports or attractions?

    3. Is it better to go to Las Vegas from San Fran or LA? Which city is closer to LV? What's the best way to get there?

    4. Which is the best place to stay in LV? I am looking at the Bellagio, but can anyone recommend anything else? Where is a great place to eat and shop? I hear the buffets there are fantastic.

    5. Of course, being a shop-a-holic that i am, I am planning to visit the outlets, and in NY, Woodbury common is easy to get to, but the major thing i want to know is that can i get from NY to Short Hills Mall easily? Are there any recommendations on how to get there and how long will it take? We'll probably be staying at one of the hotels near Central Park/Manhattan area, close to Grand Central Station

    6. What's the best way to travel from NY to Niagra Falls? Is a 1 day trip enough or should we stay more?

    Do you guys have any other recommendations or tips??

    thanks in advance
  2. Oh my...the west coast in July/August is VERY HOT. SF shouldn't be too bad, but LA, and especially LV, will be scorching. Honestly, it doesn't cool down much until late September or later. I live a few hours drive north of LA, and we had over 100 degrees Farenheit all the way into October this past year. :sweatdrop:

    Having said that...

    3. LV is much closer to LA than SF. If you did LA, SF, then LV, you'd (in a round-about way) be doubling back on yourself.

    Shopping in LA is so much fun! I'll have to think of some suggestions and coe back to this thread, as my brain is not working properly right now. :lol:

    I do hope you have a blast!! :tup: I had such a good time when I visited Sydney. :love:
  3. ^Oh my yes- LV and LA will be very hot anytime from May-October. Come to think of it NY is also hot and HUMID that time of year. SF is balmy all year long though and you wouldn't be out of place in a jacket or casmere sweater.

    1.The mall may be South Coast Plaza- it's in Orange County and is HUGE!!! Basically every designer label has a store there. I'm not sure how easy it is to get to from LA though.

    2.If you're staying in LA I think anywhere around the Sunset Strip will be excellent for the sights- the Walk of Fame is right there and there's tons of bus tours available within the vicinity that can take you to Beverly Hills, star's hosues, etc. One caveat though is that both downtown LA and the Sunset Strip area are a bit grungy- there's really not a whole lot of "consistently nice" areas around the sights unless you're staying in BH, which is pricey and pretty far from everywhere else. In the Sunset Strip area the Argyle and Roosevelt are good hotels.

    3. LA is definitely closer to Vegas, but there's tons of direct flight between either city and LV. I personally prefer SF to LA- IMO it's a much more "tourist-friendly" city (especially from a public transportation standpoint- the trolleys or cabs can take you anywhere you want to go). You have Union Square, Fisherman's Wharf, Ghiradelli Square, Coit Tower, Nob Hill, etc.

    4. I've heard the Wynn in Vegas is very nice, but my personal favorite is the Four Seasons. It's a very elegant and calm non-gaming hotel that really offers a nice refuge from the flashy business of the strip (but is built into the Mandalay Bay so you're close to gambling and a wider variety of restaraunts)

    Don't know much about the east coast (never been to Niagra Falls myself) but good luck!
  4. Jul/Aug is going to be VERY warm at Niagra Falls and in Las Vegas. That's the peak summer. It will likely be incredibly humid too in NY. Manhattan will also be pretty hot/humid at that time. If you hate the heat, you might want to reevaluate for sept/oct.

    Los Angeles is closer to Las Vegas. It's about an hour flight and you can usually find some cheap fares.

    As for Niagra, there's the Canadian side and the NY side. Where in NY are planning to fly into? If it's Manhattan, that's quite a drive. Buffalo is the closest major NY airport to Niagra. You'll likely encounter long lines to get to the Canadian side, but I hear it's prettier (I've only been to the NY side).

    I don't know much about Short Hills mall, so I can't comment on that. I hope you have a fabulous trip! Sounds exciting :smile:
  5. The mall your friend is probably referring to is the Beverly Center. Not as nice as SCP, in my opinion.

    I would really consider renting a car for your vistit to Southern California. Our public transportation system here is horrible and it can be very difficult getting from point A to point B.

    As far as LV goes, Bellagio is nice, but it's now considered one of the older hotels. Some other recommendations are Wynn (which is my favorite) or staying at the Augustus Tower in Caesar's Palace. Also, the HOTEL at Mandalay Bay has received great reviews, but it's also at the end of the strip.
  6. You might want to check on to see the temperatures, it is the height of summer, which I know from Australia where it looks like you are from, it is the reverse. If you really don't want it to be hot (like, over 100 in Vegas!) you should push your trip out a few months to the US's autumn, like October.
  7. I just went to Vegas in Dec. and stayed at the Wynn- we loved it and will stay there the next time we go- it was not nearly as full of random people gawking like those further up the strip, room service was top notch, the buffet was amazing, the restaurants were amazing, and the Chanel S/A's were very sweet. I can't speak to the Bellagio as I've never stayed there, just walked through it- but it was gorgeous too. And the Chanel S/A's were rude as all get out (hey, you gotta use some kind of purse-related criteria, right?). I've also stayed in Caesar's Palace, and hated it. There is a new section of the Venetian called the Palazzo that is literally just complete (wasn't when I was there in Dec) and it looks pretty, but I've never stayed the Venetian.

    Niagra Falls is going to be a bit of a trip from NYC- not an easy drive, really. Like rothjess said, your best bet would be to fly to Buffalo and go from there- it's very, very close. And I would definitely stay on the Canadian side- those are the falls you always see advertised. My husband and I went up there about 4 years ago, and got a corner room at the Embassy Suites (the hotel was only so-so), and the view was truly amazing- I could sit in the jacuzzi and watch the falls at the same time. And there were fireworks every night over the falls as well. We were surprised at how much to do there was- there's a bird/butterfly sanctuary, gardens, and tours of the falls, to name a few. And that was just in November!

    Unfortunately, I know nothing about CA, so no help there.
  8. Thanks for the info guys!

    I can't believe July/Aug will still be hot...

    Hmmm... May have to postpone it to November at this rate

    Will look at the Wynn hotel..
  9. I would strongly recommend you rent a car for when you are in LA...I was there for three weeks in the summer and naively thought I could just rely on public transportation since that's what I use most of the time here, but I gave up a few days in. There are lots of buses, but things are so spread out that it takes forever to get anywhere. If you're going as a tourist to sightsee, I would think you would waste a lot of your time just waiting for the bus instead of actually doing things.

    As for Niagara, it's about 6-7 hours from NYC, so definitely not a day trip. You can fly, or you can also take the train (although that will also take 6-7 hours, but at least you're not driving for that long), and I think you should definitely try to get on the Canadian side, since it's prettier and there is more going on in terms of things to do.

    Enjoy your trip!
  10. Not only will it still be hot in LV in July/Aug...but it is monsoon season. Some years it rains like crazy and others not so much but either way it is just plain HOT! 100-110 and HUMID!

    My favorite place to stay is the Venetian. Oh and if you get the chance while you are in LV...take in some shows! We have been to a few of the Cirque du Soleil shows and they are amazing! KA (at MGM Grand) is my favorite with "O" (at Bellagio) a very close second! Mystere (at Treasure Island) is also incredible!

    Have a great trip!
  11. In Los Angeles, here are the good malls:

    Beverly Center (this has a movie theater) - the Bev. Ctr. is multi-level and on top of the parking garage. Off of La Ciegna Blvd. Has boutique shops (Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Gap, etc.)

    The Grove - outdoor shopping center that has a small town square feel to it. Just has boutique stores (Gap, Abercrombie, etc.) and a huge Nordstroms. Plus, the Grove is next to the famous L.A. Farmer's Market. Also has a movie theater

    Century City - outdoor shopping center in Century City (off of Santa Monica Blvd). Has a great food court and movie complex and the anchor stores are Bloomingdales and Macys. Also has boutique stores like the Gap, Coach, Louis Vuitton, etc. Great restaurant called Houston's.

    Orange County is about an hour south of Los Angeles:
    In Orange County:
    South Coast Plaza (in Costa Mesa) - this is the place to shop!! All of the ritzy stores (Louis Vuitton, Gucci, etc. plus anchor stores like Macys, Nordstrom, Saks, Bloomingdales). There is a movie theater across the street as well as an additional related shopping center that has a lot of the home stores (Crate & Barrel, Potter Barn, etc.)

    Fashion Island (Newport Beach) - outdoor mall with a Neiman Marcus, - it's about 20 minutes south of South Coast Plaza.

    San Francisco: (about 6 to 7 hours north of Los Angeles):

    Union Square in San Franciscois a shopping district and is the ultimate for shopping
    Macy's Union Square, Neiman Marcus, Saks, Louie Vuitton are all near each other. About a block away is an indoor shopping center - Westfield - it has Nordstrom's and Bloomingdales and a bunch of stores with a movie theater and food court.

    Las Vegas:
    Fashion Show Mall is the ultimate mall!! Has a Nordstrom, Macy's, Saks, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales plus a lot of great stores (Louis Vuitton, etc.). Fashion Show is an indoor mall and is directly across from the Wynn Hotel and also across from Treasure Island.

    Las Vegas shows to see:
    Anything Cirque du Soleil!!!! Here are the Cirque du Soleil shows:
    The Beatle's Love at Mirage
    Ka at MGM
    Mystere at Treasure Island
    O at Bellagio
    Zumanity at New York New York (haven't seen this show but I don't think I would)

    Spamalot at Wynn hotel: hysterical Monty Python musical

    San Francisco to Los Angeles to Las Vegas/Grand Canyon and then on to New York would be the best route.

    Have fun!!
  12. 5. From my knowledge, there is no train ( the Metro North) that goes to Woodbury commons.You would have to drive to Orange county. It should take you about an hour to get to Woodbury. There are hotels by Grand Central, but they are very expensive ( it's the city). There's actually a hotel right next to GCS ( I can't think of the name right now).
    6. You can always take the amtrak to Niagra falls. It's about a 7-8 hr drive from the city. Because it is so far away. It will definitely be hot in humid in Ny, so make sure to bring loose clothing.
  13. Yup, it's hot here in July/August, except for SF... it's always nnice there in the summer. Best bet is to remember whatever the temp is there for you in Australia, it's the opposite here. Up til late May and after November is best here. (I'm in California, about 100 miles north of SF)

    Have fun while you're here, and get used to hearing "Where you from?" ;)
  14. My aunt lives in Newport- Fashion Island is nice but nothing earth-shattering (basically just a Bloomingdale's and a Neiman's with an LV boutique along with you usual contingent of Gap, Kenneth Cole, etc.)

    SF Union Square is the best place to shop in CA besides BH and SCP. They have Gucci, Hermes, Bottega, Marc Jacobs, YSL, Escada, Chanel, Ferragamo, and the world's only Goyard store besides the Paris flagship.

  15. The train is Jersey transit that goes up that far. Really inconvenient timing. You'd be better taking a bus out of port authority. The Woodbury commons site has some buses that do that. I did it the last time I was in Manhattan and it was really quite handy. I think I Greyline when I went. It's only about an hour by bus and the buses were clean tour buses.

    If you're considering November, you might want to check Niagra falls weather. I have NO IDEA when that starts getting bad and it can get really nasty up in that area.