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Pat from Wellington asked

Ideas and recommendations for our first trip to America

My husband and I are traveling to L.A. this July and would like some suggestions on what to do and where to stay. Our budget is a kind of a less is more approach. We're happy to backpack it but would be happy to pay for a nice little hotel room by the beach. From L.A., we plan to travel to Seattle, Oakland, Raleigh and Phoenix visiting family and friends and are after recommendations for things to see and do. We love food and meeting new people so social things would be great. We would like to travel to Mexico at the end of July for a holiday within a holiday and are looking for "all inclusive" deals that cover flights, accommodation and meals. Any ideas so that we have a good starting point would be great! 

Thanks so much!


Mexico   California (CA)   Phoenix (Arizona)   Seattle (Washington)   Los Angeles (California)   Oakland (California)   Raleigh (North Carolina)

3 Answers
top answer by
Valerie from Los Angeles

Hi Pat! 

I can help you out with Los Angeles and Oakland! 

Lets start with Los Angeles,

I would recommend staying somewhere on the west side if you are looking for a more beachy vibe. I would take a look at hotels in either Santa MonicaVenice Beach, or Manhattan Beach (Manhattan Beach is my favorite.)Los Angeles is such a big city and has plenty of things to do and see, I'll tell you some of my favorite things to do. I love spending a day at the beach, like I previously mentioned, Manhattan Beach will always be my first choice. 

On the weekends in Malibu, there is a great wine tasting event at Malibu Family Wines. There is no entry fee and you can bring a big blanket to picnic and try some great wine while listening to live music!If you are into the art scene, Check out the MOCA or LACMAI really like driving over to Westlake when I have friends visiting to show them the Chandelier Tree. The artist finds old chandeliers, fixes them, and then hangs them on a large tree outside of his house. It is so beautiful at night when they are all lit up (I believe he has 30 hanging now) I would definitely go and check that out! 

Now for Oakland!

I grew up in Oakland and it is such a fun town! The whole Bay Area in general is awesome! 

Take a drive along Grizzly Peak Park. It has one of the best views of the bay area! Go around 7:30 pm to catch the sunset. 

Now this may be a bit morbid, but another great place to catch a great view of Oakland is at the Mountain View Cemetery right off of Piedmont Ave. You have to drive all the way to the top, and there will be a huge grassy field. It actually is a beautiful cemetery. 

If you're up for seeing a movie, watch one at Grand Lake Theater. This is my favorite movie theater ever, it is vintage and on the weekends before evening shows, they have an organ player come and perform!

If you decide to catch a movie on your trip, right around the corner from the Grand Lake Theater there is an awesome bar and pizza place called the Boot and Shoe Service. Very lively and fun! 

If you want to go out and grab some drinks, I would either stay uptown and check out bars on College Ave or in Downtown Oakland. Some of my favorites on College Ave are McNally's Irish PubBen & Nick's (both dive bars) or Wood Tavern. Downtown, check out The Trappist (great beer selection), Cafe Van KleefMake Westing, Room 389, and Flora Restaurant & Bar (great food and drinks). 

(This is at The Trappist)

You must, must, must have lunch at Bakesale Betty. They have the best fried chicken sandwiches I have ever had but you have to get there early because they sell out fast! 

You should also go and check out the Port of Oakland. It is notorious for the huge cranes that unload cargo ships. There is also a rumor that this is what inspired George Lucas's AT-AT walkers :) You can watch the ships roll in (and maybe play Otis Redding's 'Sitting on the Dock of the Bay') 

Relax and take a stroll around Lake Merritt

I love ending my day here. 

Lastly, check out the best  baseball team, the Oakland Athletics at the Coliseum! Cheapest seats are about 15 bucks (cant beat that) and enjoy the game with a hot dog and beer in hand. I used to spend my summers at A's games they are so fun! 

I hope that helps please let me know if you need anymore recommendations, id be happy to send a few more. Have fun on your trip!

Comments (1)

Wow! thanks so much Valerie! Super helpful!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Santa Monica (city)
  2. Venice Beach (city)
  3. Manhattan Beach (city)
  4. Malibu (city)
  5. Malibu Family Wines (attraction)
  6. MOCA (attraction)
  7. LACMA (attraction)
  8. Chandelier Tree (attraction)
  9. Grizzly Peak Park (attraction)
  10. Mountain View Cemetery (attraction)
  11. Grand Lake Theater (attraction)
  12. Boot and Shoe Service (restaurant)
  13. College Ave (attraction)
  14. Downtown Oakland (attraction)
  15. McNally's Irish Pub (attraction)
  16. Ben & Nick's (attraction)
  17. Wood Tavern (restaurant)
  18. The Trappist (restaurant)
  19. Cafe Van Kleef (attraction)
  20. Make Westing (restaurant)
  21. Room 389 (restaurant)
  22. Flora Restaurant & Bar (restaurant)
  23. Bakesale Betty (restaurant)
  24. Port of Oakland (attraction)
  25. Lake Merritt (attraction)
  26. Coliseum (attraction)
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answered by
Holly from West Hollywood is a great way to rent a bed, room or an entire apartment in Seattle. My husband and I lived there and no scary neighborhoods downtown. We lived on 7th and Westlake. Know friends from 4th Ave (when they closed the dog park it got a little sketchy very late at night), so try and be home around 12:00 if you can.

1st Thursdays of every month museums are free in Seattle- here is the link:

have fun!

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answered by
Ellen from Blue Bell

while in Phoenix- take a day trip to Sedona. The beauty will take your breath away.

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Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Phoenix (city)
  2. Sedona (city)
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