Six Weeks, Nine States: Aussie on the Road in the US, 2012

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It’s now 34 days until I touch down in the US of A and damned if time isn’t flying along. I’ve started mailing out media packs and getting in touch with hostels to arrange accommodation, but it feels like there’s entirely too much to do before my epic tour of the USA gets underway.

I highlighted a small portion of my US itinerary in my recent bucket list update, but thought I’d share the full package with you now. Plus, it’ll help me to have it all in one place.

Over the course of six weeks I’ll be visiting nine states, three theme parks, fourteen cities, a national park, catching up with old friends, and hopefully checking off 10-20 bucket list items while I’m at it. This trip is by far my most ambitious piece of travel so far and the longest trip I’ve taken abroad that hasn’t also included a full time job and a free apartment.

So, let’s get this underway.

June 30 – July 20: Maryland, Washington DC, New York, Philadelphia, and Virginia

The first three weeks of my trip see me staying with a good friend in Annapolis, Maryland. Said good friend is also somebody I’m meeting for the very first time. God bless the Internet.

We’ll be using her apartment in Maryland as a launching point for a variety of trips including a weekend in New York City that I’m particularly excited about. We’ll also be spending a great deal of time exploring her home state and I’m excited about the prospect of documenting a less well visited portion of the US.

Week One (June 30-July 6): Philly Cheese Steaks, the 4th of July, and touching on Maryland

When I first got it into my head to do this insane US trip, one of the things I was determined to do was celebrate Independence Day in the United States. It meant taking some unpaid leave, but I’ll be watching the fireworks go off over the nation’s capital after spending a day BBQing and sinking beers.

On top of that there’s a visit to King’s Dominion, an evening in Philadelphia to try my first Philly cheese steak, an afternoon at Great Falls in Virginia, and blue crab on the waterfront in Annapolis.

Weekend 1 (July 7-8): New York, New York!

Two days in iconic New York mark my first full weekend on US soil. We’ll spend our Saturday taking in the more traditional sights: Times Square and Central Park. I’ll be in search of a New York slice and/or a authentic bagel. Then it’s off for a romantic dinner before we hit up a show on Broadway. I’d hoped to make it Wicked, but damned if it isn’t sold out two months in advance.

Our Sunday sees us taking the Staten Island Ferry, meeting the Statue of Liberty, and then it’s a toss up between walking the Brooklyn Bridge or paying a visit to Coney Island. Which gets your vote?

Week Two (July 9-13): More Maryland and a little DC

The second week of my itinerary is a little closer to ‘home’. My host will show me around Baltimore and the part of Maryland she grew up in. We’ll also take a trip to the ball-park on the 13th to see her Orioles take on the Detroit Tigers and sink our teeth into some more crab on the waterfront.

Evening trips to Washington DC to take in the memorials and an evening at Six Flags America round out a pretty travel light week.

Weekend Two (July 14-15): Beach, Baby!

We’ll spend a night in Ocean City to take in some of Maryland’s beach scene with possible additional visits to ever popular Assateague Island or Rehoboth Beach. We’ll then spend a quiet Sunday at home to prepare for our final week on the east coast.

Week Three (July 16-20): Farewell, Maryland!

While our last week on the east coast does include a day in Washington DC to take in the Smithsonian and a few other museums and memorials, the majority of the week will be spent in and around Annapolis. A ghost tour, a taste test of Baltimore’s night life, and a few quiet nights in round out what should be a pretty epic three weeks on the east side of the USA.

Weekend Three (July 21-22): Disneyland!

We fly out to Los Angeles immediately after my friend finishes work, but we’re yet to select accommodation for our two days and two nights in Hollywood. What are your LA accommodation suggestions?

We’re tossing up between either spending both days at a doubtlessly crowded Disneyland or splitting our time between Disneyland and either Universal Studios or Venice Beach. What do you think?

Week Four (July 23-27): Yosemite, Big Sur, Monterey, and San Francisco

From LA we rent a car and begin our week long journey up towards San Francisco.

The first stop on our tour will be two days exploring beautiful Yosemite. This is the thing my travel companion was most excited about, and having seen a few photos I am starting to get pretty excited myself. It looks every bit as stunning as Yellowstone – which had been my first choice, however impractical.

After Yosemite it’s a drive through Big Sur before we overnight in beautiful Monterey. We then drive to San Francisco to spend a day exploring, although we’ve yet to narrow down exactly what it is we’ll be doing. So much to see and so little time. I’m torn between Alcatraz, taking a cruise in the San Francisco Bay, or just wandering around one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Kieron & Amy from Don’t Ever Look Back and Caz & Craig from yTravel blog have been kind enough to offer their San Francisco suggestions. Take a look at Kieron & Amy’s 7 Things to do in San Francisco and Caz & Craig’s San Francisco Travel Tips. Where do you think I should go? Do they have it right?

Weekend Four (July 28-29): Portland!

I fell in love with Portland during my nine day visit in 2009 and I’m damned excited about getting to spend some time there. Not only will I get a chance to catch up with old friends from Korea and my ex-girlfriend (and travel companion of two years) – but I’m also in town just in time for Oregon BrewFest! Beer abounds!

We’ll doubtless be nursing a hangover for our Sunday, which we’re aiming to spend in one of Portland’s coastal towns. Since I visited Astoria and Seaside last time around, I’m thinking it’s time I checked out Cannon Beach. What’s your favorite town on the Oregon coast?

Week Five (July 30-August 3): Seattle (and a day in Chicago)

Whether we rent a car and drive out or take a leisurely train ride, we’re getting from Portland to Seattle some way or another. We’ve both got friends from our travels in this corner of the Pacific North West, so the plan is to split our time between my good friends and her’s.

The general consensus seems to be that the Space Needle and Pike Place Markets need to be at the top of our ‘to do’ list, and I know my friends are keen to take me to a Mariners game if time allows.

I’ve also lined up a one day San Juan Islands tour that I’m very excited about. Maybe I will get to see a killer whale in the wild after all?

Weekend Five (August 4-5): Weddings and Goodbyes, Chicago

My final two days in the United States will be incredibly bittersweet. While I’m very excited to be present for the wedding of my good friends Rob and Emily in Chicago (and the chance to party with some of my best friends from back in Australia), there’s some sadness to come as I farewell my travel companion of five weeks the very next day.

Still, the chance to show off a gorgeous date, party with my oldest friends, and be there for the happiest day in two of my best friends’ lives is enough to counter any airport induced sadness.

Thomas from HI Chicago has also been invaluable in helping arrange my Chicago trip. While his hostel is booked out for damned Lollapalooza, we’ve been exchanging emails back and forth as he shares his favorite tourist spots, restaurants, and bars with me. Legend!

Then it’s just a near 24 hour flight back to China where I’ll be expected back in the classroom roughly twelve hours after I slump down on the couch in my apartment. Talk about your whirlwind tours!

There you have it!

There’s my whistle-stop tour of the United States. As you can probably tell, I’m bloody excited about it! So much to see and we’ve crammed as much as humanly possible in as well.

It’s not all tourism though. I’m most excited to meet a girl I’ve talked to regularly since 2010 as well as catch up with friends I haven’t seen in a long time. From Heather R (of No Place Like Oz fame) in Virginia; Cody, Desiree, Caitlin, Stacy, Fallon, Amanda, and Adam in Portland; Liz, CJ, Cass, Kayla, and Gabe in Seattle; and Rob, Steph, Dave, Emily, and Grant in Chicago – there’ll be a lot of fun reunions to look forward to as well.

Then there’s the pretty girl from Maryland. I’m just a bit excited about finally meeting her as well.

What do you think of my itinerary? Got any recommendations for any of the places I’ve visited? Accommodation recommendations are definitely appreciated, but any ‘must visit’ spots that we’ve left off? Let us know!

Is the west coast Disney where it’s at? Or are you an advocate of the east coast equivalents? I know a lot of people urged me to choose DisneyWorld over Disneyland, but my travel buddy was in Florida less than twelve months ago and didn’t much fancy doing it all over again. It’s a pity, as I was recently told about an ultimate 14 day Disney ticket that sounded pretty damned tempting. The Universal 2-park bonus ticket wouldn’t have gone astray either.

A fellow travel blogger based out of any of these places? Let me know if you’ll be around on the above dates because I would love to do a Bite with a Blogger segment on the road and get a local’s perspective!

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