U.S.A

The United Sates of America is vast – there is simply no other word to describe it. It is one of the richest, most powerful countries on earth and a melting pot of different cultures and traditions.

From the iconic yellow cabs to Mickey Mouse, hamburgers to Baywatch, American culture has percolated into the homes of millions of people around the world making the country familiar even to those who have never been there.

With its vast size comes an incredibly diverse landscape. With 50 states and flanked by two oceans, America has everything from bustling New York and the Statue of Liberty to the vastness of the Great Plains; from tropical Orlando and Miami to snowy Alaska. Just a few hours can take you from one landscape into something completely different.

Whether you head east to explore Boston and New York, west for Los Angeles and San Francisco or south for Florida and all the trappings of Disney, you will be spoilt for choice for places to visit and sights to see.

America has probably become more known for its attractions than anything else. Its name is synonymous with the Grand Canyon, the Golden Gate Bridge, Hollywood, Disneyland, the Great Lakes, Washington, and the Rocky Mountains and of course that glittering light oasis in the Nevada desert – Las Vegas.

If you are looking for a destination that can offer history, culture, beaches, glamour, natural beauty and great food then America is the place for you. No matter how many times you visit, there will always be something and somewhere new to explore.

The currency in America is the US Dollar. Hotels don’t exchange foreign currency and few banks will so it’s best to either arrive with dollars or exchange your currency at the airport upon arrival.

All major credit cards are accepted. You are advised to carry at least one of the major credit cards as it is common to request prepayment or a credit card imprint for hotel rooms and car hire even if the final payment isn’t made by credit card.

ATMs are widely available and therefore are the easiest method to withdraw cash using a credit or debit card. Traveller’s cheques in US dollars are widely accepted but not those in sterling.

 

Los Angeles

Introduction

Los Angeles is the USA's second largest city after New York. ‘The City of Angels’, La La Land, Tinseltown, or however you want to refer to it, sprawls along the Pacific coast of southern California. Its immense coastline stretches 122km (76 miles) from Malibu to Long Beach. Inland, the city fills a vast, flat basin ringed by the Santa Monica and San Gabriel mountains.

The best way to really appreciate the scale of L.A. is from the window of your plane when you arrive. The imposing cluster of skyscrapers marks Downtown, 26km (16 miles) inland from the coast. If you look northeast you’ll see Pasadena. To the west and northwest are Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Century City and the wide San Fernando Valley. Look south and you’ll see Long Beach and along the west coast are Santa Monica, Venice Beach and Marina del Rey.

L.A. is full of the next batch of wannabes – everyone is an actor, script writer or film maker just waiting for their big break. Being the hub of ‘movie-land’ everyone wants to make it big and is either out star spotting or trying to be the next big discovery. Its population shows a rich diversity of backgrounds and is a mix-and-match of people from 140 countries speaking 96 different languages.

You will certainly never get bored if you come to L.A. It offers an incredible array of attractions and world-famous amusements: Chinatown, Little Tokyo, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Muscle Beach, Disneyland and Venice Beach to name but a few.

Whatever you are looking for, you are sure to find it in Los Angeles.

See & Do

Los Angeles is crammed with things to see and do. It is impossible to name everything but below is just a selection to get you started.

  • Venice Beach
  • Getty Museum
  • Grauman’s Chinese Theatre
  • Hollywood & The Boulevard of the Stars
  • Disneyland
  • Film Studio Tours
  • Universal Studios Hollywood
  • Star Tours
  • Rancho La Brea Tar Pits
  • El Pueblo de Los Angeles
  • Museum of Tolerance
  • Basketball – L A Lakers
  • Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Walt Disney Concert Hall
  • Hollywood History Museum
  • Peterson Car Museum
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art
  • Santa Monica Pier Aquarium
  • Pacific Park, Santa Monica
  • Warner Bros Studios
  • Malibu
  • Los Angeles Zoo
  • Griffith Park Observatory
  • California Science Centre
  • Manhattan Beach
  • Roundhouse Aquarium
  • Sand Dune Park

Shopping

Los Angeles was built for shopping so prepare your credit cards for a serious workout. There is shopping to suit all budgets but you probably won’t be able to resist a visit to the iconic Rodeo Drive.

Beverly Hills is the most expensive designer area in the city. It’s best known street, Rodeo Drive, has become a tourist attraction in its own right these days. It is a fantastic place to window shop and people watch. Nearby Wilshire is home to the up-scale department stores such as Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Barneys.

The antithesis of Rodeo Drive is Venice Boardwalk. Here you’ll discover numerous open air stalls and funky shops selling all manner of items. It’s a great place to bargain for sun glasses, clothes, CDs and unusual art objects.

Main Street offers a good variety of stores plus the must visit used celebrity clothing store, Star Wares. Another place that should also be visited is Melrose Avenue (between Fairfax and La Brae) where you’ll find one-of-a-kind stores.

A visit to one of the discount outlets is a must. Located in the suburbs, you could save up to 65%. A few names to seek out are Ontario Mills, Camarillo Premium Outlets and Desert Hills Premium Outlets.

Shopping Malls were born in America and you’ll find plenty in Los Angeles. They all house department stores, smaller chain stores, restaurants, food courts, multiple movie screens and free parking. A few names to look out for are Westside Pavilion (Westwood Boulevard), Century City (Santa Monica Boulevard – which includes both Macey’s and Bloomingdales) and The Beverly Centre (Beverly Boulevard).

If you want a change from shops, the city also offers several markets: The Rose Bowl Flea Market & Swap Meet (Pasadena) held the second Sunday in every month, Pasadena City College Flea Market (first Sunday in every month) and the Jewellery Market (Hill Street, downtown).

Food & Drink

Whatever cuisine you fancy, you are sure to find it in Los Angeles. You will find anything from burgers and chilli dogs to restaurants offering international dishes such as Italian, Mexican, Thai, Greek, and Japanese etc.

Westside is where you’ll find the expensive up market trendy restaurants and world-class chefs. The older vintage restaurants are mainly downtown, midtown and in Hollywood. Out door dining is very popular especially in the Oceanside communities and in the canyons of the mountains.

There are far too many restaurants in the city to name them all here, but below is a selection of the best that you might like to try (it’s worth noting that smoking is prohibited in restaurants and bars).

  • The Palm, Santa Monica Boulevard (celebrity hangout)
  • Hotel Bel Air, Bel Air
  • The Ivy, W Hollywood
  • Philippe the Original, Chinatown
  • Cheesecake Factory, Marina del Ray
  • California Pizza Kitchen, Westwood
  • Souplantation, Pasadena
  • The Lobster, Santa Monica
  • El Cholo,  S Western Avenue
  • Guido’s, Santa Monica Boulevard
  • Matsuhisa, North La Cienega Boulevard
  • Aki, Santa Monica Boulevard
  • Typhoon, Santa Monica
  • Asia de Cuba, Sunset Strip
  • Taverna Tony, Malibu
  • Café 50s, Santa Monica Boulevard
  • Campanile, S La Brae Avenue
  • Spago Beverly Hills, Beverly Hills
  • Water Grill, S Grand Avenue

To compliment its vast range of restaurants, Los Angeles is also home to numerous bars. They range from Designer Wine Bars (where you can sample the best of the local wines), American drinking halls, English Pubs and themed Irish and Mexican Bars. Below is just a small selection.

  • Ye Olde King’s Head, Santa Monica Boulevard
  • Hennessey’s Tavern, Manhattan Beach Boulevard
  • Bonaventure Brewing Co, S Figueroa Street
  • Britannia Pub, Santa Monica Boulevard
  • Rainbow Bar & Grill, Sunset Boulevard
  • The Sky Bar, Sunset Boulevard
  • Cat’n Fiddle, Sunset Boulevard
  • Spider Club, Hollywood
  • Velvet Margarita Cantina, Hollywood
  • Observation Bar, Long Beach
  • Rock Bottom Brewery, Pine Avenue

Entertainment

There is a vast amount of entertainment in Los Angeles so whatever your taste, you’ll find something right up your street.

The places to catch the big stars playing live music are The Staples Centre and the Hollywood Bowl. The Hollywood Palladium also holds some concerts. There are also smaller venues such as Johnny Depp’s The Viper Room.

If classical music is more your thing you can catch the LA Philharmonic at The Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra at UCLA’s Royce Hall.

For Jazz and Blues try Jazz Bakery (Helms Ave), The Mint (W Piclo Boulevard) or House of Blues (Sunset Boulevard).

Although not quite up to London or New York, LA has a good range of theatres, numerous cinemas, or if you prefer, you can also catch a bit of Opera at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

A trip to LA wouldn’t be complete without catching a basketball or baseball game. The Staples Centre is home to the LA Lakers (basketball), LA Clippers and Spark’s Women’s basketball team and the LA Kings ice hockey team. The Dodger stadium is home to the Dodgers Baseball team.

When it comes to clubs, the best way to find out what’s on where is to refer to the listings in the LA Weekly or the Los Angeles Times. Below is just a selection of venues you could try.

  • The Key Club, Sunset Boulevard
  • The Roxy Theatre, Sunset Boulevard
  • The Viper Room, Sunset Boulevard
  • Whiskey A-Go-Go, Sunset Boulevard
  • Mayan, S Hill Street
  • Cabana Club, Ivar Avenue
  • Catalina Bar & Grill, Sunset Boulevard
  • HMS Bounty, Wilshire Boulevard

There are also several events that happen throughout the year.

  • January – Tournament of Roses Parade, Auto Show
  • March – City of Los Angeles Marathon
  • April – Toyota Grand Prix
  • May – Cinco de Mayo
  • July – Independence Day
  • July/August – Festival of the Arts, Pageant of the Masters
  • August – International Surf Festival
  • September – Los Angeles County Fair
  • November – The Doo Dah Parade, The Hollywood Christmas Parade

Excursions

There are numerous things to see and do in Los Angeles, but you might also like to make the most of your visit by exploring further afield. Your hotel should be able to provide you with details of possible excursions but below are just a few to get you started.

  • San Francisco
  • San Diego
  • Tijuana
  • Long Beach
  • Catalina Island
  • Disneyland Resort

Health & Safety

The medical facilities are superb and the price incredibly high. You will have to pay for all treatment so make sure you take out comprehensive medical insurance before you travel.

The water is safe to drink in the city. The majority of the city is safe although you must not walk alone after dark in Downtown or Hollywood. If driving through these areas keep your doors locked and windows wound up. You should exercise the usual precautions with your valuables and be careful in crowded areas.

 

 

Boston

Introduction

Boston, the capital of Massachusetts is where modern America began.

The Pilgrims landed in New England and made their first settlement at Plymouth, which is barely an hour south of Boston. About 150 years later Boston threw a world famous Tea Party to which the British were unwelcome guests. Then soon after that the first skirmishes of the War of Independence broke out here, with the famous battle on Bunker Hill to the north-east of the city.

Those amongst you who like to trace back such historical events will enjoy following The Freedom Trail, a physical manifestation of the birth of the modern American Republic - around 4km (2.5 miles) of the city's streets and sights. Plus Boston had a prominent role in black American history. It was a goal to black slaves escaping the oppressive south on the ‘Underground Railway’. You can discover more by following the 2.5km (1.6-mile) Black Heritage Trail.

Today Boston is quite European and one of America’s most cosmopolitan cities. It is home to numerous universities including the world renowned Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

History and beauty envelop Boston. The surrounding New England countryside is home to the coastal resorts of Cape Cod and the island of Martha’s Vineyard. To the north of the city is Salem known for it infamous 17th century witch trials.

Of course many of the younger generation would associate Boston with an altogether different fact. I am of course referring to the fact that Boston is home to the popular TV show, Cheers. Thousands of visitors flock to the city every year to seek out the Bull and Finch Pub which was the show’s inspiration. However be prepared for a slight disappointment, the bar looks nothing like Cheers!

See & Do

If you are planning to see a lot of sights and attractions during your stay it would be worth your while to invest in a Go Boston Card (available from the Go Boston Card Visitor Centre, Commercial Street). It entitles you to free entry to over 60 attractions plus shopping and dining discounts, free tours and a guidebook.

It is impossible to list here everything that Boston has to offer, but below is a selection of the best attractions and sites to get you started.

  • The Freedom Trail
  • USS Constitution Warship
  • Bunker Hill Monument
  • Boston Common
  • Faneuil Hall & Market
  • Harbour Islands National Park
  • Esplanade
  • Harvard University & Harvard Square
  • Museum of Fine Arts
  • Isabella Steward Gardner Museum
  • Arnold Arboretum & Boston Public Garden
  • Cheers
  • Boston National Historical Park
  • Black Heritage Trail
  • Museum of Natural History
  • Boston Tea Party Ship & Museum
  • The Children’s Museum
  • New England Aquarium
  • Cambridge
  • Castle Island & Fort Independence
  • Chinatown Gate & Park
  • MIT Museum

Shopping

There is a huge amount of shopping to be done in Boston and no matter what your budget, you will somewhere that suits.

Newbury Street is the home of designers and fine art galleries. Copley Square is where you’ll find numerous indoor malls such as Arlington, Copley or Hynes T Stops. If you enjoy browsing, Charles Street on Beacon Hill is a great place for antiques and curios.

Chinatown is a great place to shop and people watch. You will find numerous traditional medicine stores as well as shops selling all manner of Chinese goods. If you pop over to Harvard Square you’ll find fine arts, crafts and books.

If you are looking for a unique gift try Massachusetts Avenue, and Porter Square is the place for funky boutiques, used clothing and handmade crafts.

At the intersection of Washington Street and Park is the pedestrianised mall, Downtown Crossing. Here you will find standard department stores like Macy’s and Filene’s. However make sure you venture down to the 2 underground floors in Filene’s known as Filene’s Basement. Here you will find huge savings on loads of different merchandise that is either end of line or lines that didn’t sell. You can even grab yourself a designer bargain.

Faneuil Hall Marketplace is as much a tourist attraction as it is a market these days but it is well worth a browse.

Food & Drink

When it comes to restaurants and cuisines, Boston has them all. Wherever you go in the city you will find somewhere to suit your taste and budget. Try Quincy Market at Faneuil Hall for a large range of excellent restaurants. North End (Hanover Street, Salem Street) for Italian Trattoria, cafés and excellent bakeries.  South End (Tremont Street, Columbus Avenue) for the top chefs and restaurants or the Financial District (Temple Place, High Street, State Street) and Back Bay (Arlington Street, Boylston Street) for fine dining and some of the cities longest established restaurants.

Of course, no stay in Boston would be complete without a trip to Chinatown especially Chau Chow City for dim sum, East Ocean City for Chinese food and Buddha’s Delight for vegetarian fare.

Below is just a selection of some of the best restaurants you should try during your stay.

  • Hamersley’s Bistro, Tremont Street
  • Tea at the Taj, Arlington Street
  • Durgin Park, Faneuil Hall
  • Radius, High Street
  • Mantra, Temple Place
  • No Name Restaurant, Fish Pier
  • Trattoria Il Panino, Faneuil Hall
  • Chau Chow City, Essex Street
  • East Ocean City, Beach Street
  • Buddha’s Delight, Beach Street
  • The Dish, South End
  • Mistral, Columbus Avenue
  • Pomodoro, Hanover Street
  • Max & Dylans, West Street
  • Barking Club, Sleeper Street
  • Silverstone Bar & Grill, Bromfield Street

The city is also home to many Irish themed pubs and many student haunts. Being such an academic city, that is hardly surprising. Again, there are far too many bars to name them all here, but here is a selection to get you started.

  • Doyle’s, Washington Street
  • Boston Beerworks, Brookline Avenue
  • Clerys, Dartmouth Street
  • Algiers, Brattle Street
  • Top of the Hub, Boylston Street
  • Bell in the Hand Tavern, Union Street
  • The Green Dragon, Marshall Street
  • ‘Cheers’ Bar, Beacon Street

Entertainment

It may not be able to rival New York, but you are sure to find something to suit your entertainment tastes in Boston. Below is a selection of what is available.

Music

  • Classical – Symphony Hall & Berklee School of Music
  • Jazz –   Regatta Bar (Charles Hotel), Harvard Square

Scullers (Double Treet Hotel), Cambridge

Ryles, Inmand Square, Cambridge

  • Folk Music – Club Passim, Cambridge
  • Rock – Paradise Rock Club, Mass Avenue

There is a strong theatre and cinema presence in the city and your hotel should be able to provide you with details of venues and listings of what’s on.

Sport

  • Baseball – Red Sox, Fenway Park
  • Basketball – Boston Celtics, Fleetcentre
  • Ice hockey – Boston Bruins, Fleetcentre
  • American Football – New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium

Nightlife

  • An Tua Nua, Beacon Street
  • Avalon, Lansdowne Street
  • The Roxy, Tremont Street
  • Axis, Lansdowne Street
  • Q, Union Street

There are also a number of events that take place throughout the year.

  • December/January – First Night (New Years Eve)
  • March – St Patrick’s Day
  • April – Boston Marathon & Patriots Day
  • July – Harbour Festival
  • October – Head of the Charles Regatta

Excursions

While visiting Boston you may want to explore the surround country to see what else this part of America can offer. Your hotel will be able to provide you with details of possible excursions, but below are just a few suggestions to get you started.

  • Concord
  • Plymouth & Cape Cod
  • Martha’s Vineyard & Nantucket
  • Salem
  • Whale watching

Health & Safety

You will have no problems with tap water or food in Boston but one essential is medical insurance. Healthcare is excellent and consequently very expensive especially as there is no national health service.

Boston is a safe city but you should still take the usual precautions with your valuables especially when in crowded areas. It may also be wise to check with your hotel to find out if there are any non-recommended areas around where you are staying.

 

 

 

Las Vegas

Introduction

In the middle of the Mojave Desert at the southern tip of the state of Nevada nestles the neon oasis of Las Vegas.

It is a city of excess, energy, life and money. Its reason for existing is to provide entertainment – and quite possibly to take your cash.

Many visitors find it hard to believe that this incredible city has only been around (in its present form) for just over 70 years. The metamorphosis into the bright and brash city of today began back in 1931. This was when the state of Nevada legalised gambling. Then in 1946 Mafia don ‘Bugsy’ Siegel opened the sensational Flamingo Hilton on Highway 19 and so Las Vegas Boulevard was born.

Las Vegas attracts over 35 million people every year but it is no longer purely a holiday for those who just want to gamble. The casinos are still flourishing but the city has geared itself to offer more to attract families too. Today it offers everything from wildlife viewing to theme park thrills and spills, shopping to golf and world class shows to intimate night clubs. It is now very much a destination for anyone who wants to have fun. 

As you walk down 'The Strip' you could be forgiven to think you’d stepped into another world. As you walk along you will be able to see the skylines of New York and Paris, discover the canals of Venice and the Pyramids of Egypt and, at Treasure Island, see a full on-sea battle between a Pirate ship and a British Galleon.

Home to 18 out of 21 of the largest hotels in the world you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to finding somewhere to stay. You’ll also be pleasantly surprised to learn that the room rates and restaurant bills in Las Vegas are the lowest in the western world.

 

See & Do

Just looking at the amazing hotels and casinos could keep you occupied. The sheer opulence is incredible with each one trying to out do its neighbour. Marvel at the Bellagio, Wynn Las Vegas, MGM Grand, Caesars Palace, Mirage, Venetian Resort Hotel and Casino, The Palazzo Las Vegas and the Luxor to name but a few.

Of course, other than gambling, live music and shows there are many other things to keep you occupied during your stay. Below is a selection of some of the best.

  • Shark Reef Aquarium
  • Liberace Museum
  • Hoover Dam
  • Las Vegas Natural History Museum
  • Fremont Street Experience
  • Imperial Palace Auto Collection
  • Adventuredome
  • Atomic Testing Museum
  • Circus Circus Midway
  • Eiffel Tower Experience
  • Flamingo Wildlife Habitat
  • Vegas Cyber Speedway & Speed
  • Stratosphere Tower
  • Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden & Dolphin Habitat
  • King Tut Museum
  • Little White Wedding Chapel
  • Madam Tussauds
  • Manhattan Express Rollercoaster
  • Mirage Volcano
  • Neonopolus

 

Shopping

There is no shortage of shopping opportunities in Las Vegas and you’ll quickly discover that many of the shopping centres are also attractions in their own right. The Strip is lined with numerous stores but if you enjoy the shopping mall experience, you’ve definitely come to the right city. With over 20 mega malls to choose from you’ll be hard pushed to know where to start.

Town Square, Boulevard Mall (Maryland Parkway) and Miracle Mile (at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino) all house many hundreds of shops and restaurants. There are also some incredible themed shopping malls such as Desert Passage (at the Aladdin), The Grand Canal Shoppes (at the Venetian) and the ever popular Forum Shops (at Caesar’s).

To make your cash go a little bit further why not head for one of the outlet centres such as Las Vegas Outlet Centre (Las Vegas Boulevard), Las Vegas Premium Outlets (South Grand Central Parkway) or Fashion Outlet of Las Vegas (40 miles away at Primm, interstate 15).

The city is also home to 2 major flea markets, or ‘swap meets’ – outdoor Broad Acres Swap Meet with over 400 retailers selling just about everything (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) and the brilliantly names Fantastic Indoor Swap Meet which restricts itself to new merchandise only (entry costs USD1).

 

Food & Drink

Eating in Las Vegas is a 24 hour experience. Hot competition has driven prices down and it’s not unusual to see an “all you can eat” buffet service for as little as USD2. Some casinos will even offer gamblers free food and drink just to keep than at the tables.

The best selection of restaurants is on the Strip or Downtown. There are far too many to mention them all here, but below is a selection of some of the best,

  • Planet Hollywood (Caesar’s Palace)
  • Top of the World (Stratosphere Casino Hotel & Tower)
  • California Pizza Kitchen (Mirage Hotel)
  • The Cheesecake Factory (Forum Shops, Caesar Hotel & Casino)
  • Tony Roma’s (E. Sahara Avenue)
  • MGM Grand Buffet (MGM Grand Hotel & Casino)
  • Carnival World (Rio Suite Hotel & Casino)
  • Le Village Buffet (Paris Hotel & Casino)
  • Noodles (Bellagio Hotel)
  • Benihana (Las Vegas Hilton)
  • Japonais (The Mirage)
  • McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant (Hughes Centre Drive)
  • Pink Taco (Hard Rock Hotel & Casino)
  • Taqueria Canonita (Venetian Hotel & Casino)
  • Bertolini’s (Village Square)
  • Eiffel Tower Restaurant (Paris Las Vegas)
  • The Steakhouse (Treasure Island)
  • Wing Lei (Wynn Las Vegas)
  • Pamplemousse (East Sahara Avenue)
  • Chicago Joe’s (S. 4th Street)

When it comes to places to have a drink, again, you won’t have any problem finding somewhere. Every hotel has a bar and prices are very low. Below is a selection of names you might want to look out for.

  • Voodoo Lounge (Rio Suite Hotel & Casino)
  • Eye Candy Lounge (Mandalay Bay Hotel)
  • Napoleon’s (Paris Las Vegas Hotel)
  • Ghost Bar (The Palms Casino Resort)
  • The Peppermill’s Fireside Lounge (Las Vegas Boulevard South)
  • Triple 7 Restaurant & Brewery (Main Street Station Casino)
  • Baccarat Bar (Bellagio)
  • Red Square (Mandalay Bay)
  • Bar at Times Square (New York-New York Hotel & Casino)

Entertainment

If there’s one thing you’ll never be short of in Las Vegas, its entertainment. The self-proclaimed city of glitz offers a multitude of shows, clubs and casinos to keep you happy. Most of the large hotels offer the grandest entertainment and cinema complexes. If you are looking for comedy, dancing girls, jazz, tribute nights or just a great night out you will be spoilt for choice.

Worth a mention is the nightly Sound & Light shows at the Fremont Street Experience plus Cirque du Soleil’s Mystere which is performed every Saturday to Wednesday.

The most obvious form of entertainment in Las Vegas is gambling. You must be over 21 to play in the casinos. If you are beginner, don’t be shy as many of the casinos also offer gaming classes to get you started. There are too many casinos to name them all here but a few names you may recognised are Luxor, MGM Grand, Bellagio, Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, Palms Casino Resort, New York-New York, Paris Las Vegas, Caesar’s Palace and Venetian.

Again, most of the hotels offer their own night clubs, but here are a few names to look out for:

  • Studio 54 (MGM Grand)
  • Baby’s (Hard Rock Hotel)
  • Pure (Caesar’s Palace)
  • Rain (Palms Casino Resort)

Las Vegas doesn’t need much of an excuse to put on a party – it’s like party day every day! But there are several events that take place throughout the year that get the city partying just a little bit harder.

  • January – New Year celebrations
  • February – Valentine’s Day
  • July – Independence Day
  • August – Magic Show
  • October – Auto Show
  • November – Thanksgiving

Excursions

If you can bear to leave the bright lights and endless entertainment, you may be persuaded to take a look further afield at other close attractions and sights. Your hotel will be able to provide you with details of local tours and operators, but below are a few suggestions to get you started.

  • Red Rock Canyon
  • Big Bend State Park
  • Wild West Ghost Towns (e.g. Goldfield, Goodsprings & Rhyolite)
  • Death Valley
  • Grand Canyon
  • Hoover Dam & Lake Mead
  • Valley of Fire State Park
  • Zion National Park

Health & Safety

You won’t experience any problems with tap water or food in Las Vegas. However you should remember that you are in a desert area and therefore it is important that you always carry water with you to avoid dehydration and ensure you use a high factor sun cream at all times.

Medical care is excellent and very expensive. America doesn’t have an NHS so any treatment you need, you’ll have to pay for. Therefore you are strongly advised to take out full medical cover before you travel.

Parts of Las Vegas are not safe and you are recommended to remain on the Strip and not venture into unknown areas on your own or after dark. The Strip is patrolled 24/7 by Police and CCTV is everywhere. You should exercise the usual precautions with your valuables and watch out for pick pockets.

 

New York

Introduction

New York is an iconic city that many of us already ‘know’ even if we’ve never been there.  Used as a back drop for countless TV programmes and films, the sights and sounds of New York are already familiar to us.

The possibilities for sight seeing in New York City are endless. It is made up of the five boroughs of Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island and Manhattan – each one completely different in atmosphere and look.

The city is home to some 7.2 million people, including significant populations of Spanish, Irish, Italian, Chinese, Russians and Jewish. This eclectic mix of the world's cultures and nationalities means you can get absolutely anything you want, anytime. Dubbed as the city that never sleeps, you can literally eat anytime and even when you’ve given up and turned in for the night, the city below will still be buzzing.

You can choose to explore on foot, by famous yellow cab or by jumping on and off the subway. But whichever you choose you’ll be blown away by this incredible city. One minute you can be in a museum, the next marvelling at the Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry, or relaxing on a bench in the leafy oasis that is Central Park. New York is an exciting mix that will keep you enthralled – where else can you see Broadway and baseball in the same day?

Most people can only take so much and if after a few days of museums, bars, galleries and clubs you could do with a break, then guess what? New York can provide that for you too. There are the National Parks of Upstate New York or the beaches of Long Island. Whatever you are searching for, you’ll find it in New York. 

 

See & Do

However long you stay in New York you’ll never run out of things to do. In fact your biggest challenge will probably be to fit everything in that you want to see. If you are planning on seeing a lot of sights it may be worth investing in a City Pass as this gains you entry into 6* of the city’s top attractions.

Below is a selection of places you could visit during your stay.

  • Guggenheim Museum*
  • American Museum of Natural History*
  • Circle Line Sightseeing Harbour Cruise*
  • Empire State Building & Sky Ride*
  • Intrepid Sea Sir Space Museum*
  • Museum of Modern Art*
  • Statue of Liberty
  • Central Park
  • Central Park Zoo
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Broadway
  • Greenwich Village
  • Long Island & The Hamptons
  • Wall Street
  • Times Square
  • Ellis Island
  • Coney Island
  • The Brooklyn Bridge
  • Yankes Stadium
  • Chinatown
  • Ground Zero (site of the new Freedom Tower construction)
  • Rockefeller Centre
  • Chrysler Building
  • New York Aquarium
  • Wildlife Centre

Shopping

Prepare for some serious plastic bashing. New York is a shopping paradise, the toughest choice you will have is where to start. The best shopping area has to be 5th Avenue between 59th Street and 42nd Street. Here you will find all the big national chain stores and best known department stores.

Other notable areas are Madison Avenue (Designer wear), Soho (galleries and boutiques), Greenwich Village and Upper East Side between 57th and 96th Street (exclusive designer clothes and antiques).

When it comes to malls and department stores things are done on a huge scale. 6th Avenue and 33rd Street is home to New York’s main shopping mall, Manhattan Mall. You can lose yourself here in over 80 stores within the mall’s 9 floors.

The largest department store in the world, Macy’s covers an entire block and 10 floors and sells just about anything you can imagine (Herald Square at 34th Street and Broadway). You can then move onto Bloomingdale’s (1000 3rd Avenue at 59th Street) for designer clothes and gourmet foods and Saks Fifth Avenue (611 5th Avenue at 49th Street) for luxury fashion.

If your budget won’t stretch that far then an hours drive north will bring you to Woodbury Premium Outlets which houses 220 stores where you’ll find designer names at more affordable prices.

There are also several markets in New York. Two worth a mention are the Green Markets which is like a farmer’s market selling anything from goat’s cheese to organic bread. These can be found at Union Square (Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday) and Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn (Saturday). The other is The Annex, a popular weekend market that sells antiques, toys, jewellery and clothing (39th Street between 9th and 10th Avenue).

Food & Drink

You will never go hungry in New York. It has more restaurants per square mile than any other city in the world. Not only that, but practically every global cuisine is represented. How about that for choice!

It is impossible to name every restaurant here, but below is a selection of some of the best to whet your appetite.

  • Empire Diner (210 10th Avenue)
  • Tom’s Restaurant (2880 Broadway at 112th Street)
  • Planet Hollywood (1540 Broadway 45th Street)
  • Peter Luger Steakhouse (178 Broadway, Brooklyn)
  • Hard Rock Café New York (1501 Broadway)
  • Union Square Café (21 East 16th Street)
  • The River Café (1 Water Street, Brooklyn)
  • Molyvos (871 7th Avenue)
  • John’s Pizzeria (278 Bleecker Street)
  • Carmine’s Midtown (200 West 44th Street)
  • Osteria del Circo (120 West 55th Street)
  • Guantanamera (939 Eight Avenue)
  • Shun Lee Palace (155 East 55th Street)
  • Blue Water Grill (31 Union Square)
  • Daniel (60 East 65th Street)
  • Le Cirque (151 East 58th Street)
  • Home (20 Cornelia Street)
  • Tribeca Grill (375 Greenwich Street)
  • Delmonico’s (56 Beaver Street)
  • Balthazar (80 Spring Street, Soho)

As with the restaurants, New York also has a multitude of bars. In fact there are bars on every street you walk along. Every nationality is catered for so if you are absolutely desperate for a bit of home, you’re sure to find an English pub somewhere. To list every bar in New York would be impossible so below is a small selection of some of the best.

  • Peter McManus (152 7th Avenue)
  • Landmark Tavern (626 11th Avenue)
  • Max Fish (178 Ludlow Street)
  • White Horse Tavern (567 Hudson Street)
  • Peculier Pub (145 Bleecher Street)

 

Entertainment

New York is the city that never sleeps and the number of clubs and bars qualify this. The city can offer everything you could possibly want.

Music

There are numerous venues in the city renowned for their music concerts and performances, below are just a few of them.

  • Lincoln Centre (Broadway)
  • Carnegie Hall (West 57th Street)
  • Brooklyn Academy of Music (30 Lafayette Street)
  • Blue Note (131 West 3rd Street)
  • Village Vanguard (178 7th Avenue at Greenwich Street)
  • Madison Square Gardens (31st – 33rd Street)
  • Radio City Music Hall (6th Avenue & 50th Street)

It goes without saying that with Broadway there are numerous opportunities to catch a show (ask you hotel for details of what’s on where). Likewise with cinemas, they are dotted throughout the city so it won’t be too difficult to find somewhere to catch the latest Hollywood blockbuster. If you enjoy opera then you need to head for either the New York City Opera or the Metropolitan Opera.

Sport

  • Baseball – Yankee Stadium (The Yankees) & Shea Stadium, Queens (The Mets)
  • Basketball – Madison Square Gardens (New York Nicks)
  • American Football – Meadowlands Sports Complex, New Jersey (The Giants & The jets)

Nightclubs

New York is full of clubs. To make sure you find the right kind of place for you, check the local listings (ask your hotel for details). Below are just a few of the popular clubs you might like to try.

  • The Canal Room (285 West Broadway)
  • The Pyramid Club (101 Avenue A)
  • Webster Hall (125 East 11th Street)
  • Sapphire Lounge (249 Eldridge)
  • XL Lounge (375 West 16th Street)
  • Cielo (18 Little West 12th Street)

There are also several events that take place throughout the year.

  • March – New York Fashion Week
  • August – US Open
  • November – NYC Marathon
  • December/January – New Year in Time Square

 

Excursions

When you’ve had enough of the city life you may want to look further afield. Your hotel will be able to provide you with details of excursions and local tour companies, but here are a few suggestions to get you started.

  • Atlantic City
  • Philadelphia
  • The Catskill Mountains
  • New York Islands
  • Washington DC
  • Coney Island
  • Long Island & The Hamptons

Health & Safety

The tap water is perfectly safe in New York. Medical facilities are excellent and consequently come with a high price tag. There is no NHS so you have to pay for all your treatment therefore it is essential that you have medical insurance in place before travelling.

New York has gone a long way to clean up its image when it comes to crime. Central Park and the subway are much safer than they were in the 80s. You can check with your hotel concierge for any no-go areas of the city.

You should exercise the usual precautions with your valuables especially when out in crowded areas.

 

 

 

Orlando

Introduction

Think of Orlando and I bet the first thing you think of is Mickey Mouse.

For millions of people around the world Orlando has become synonymous with the magic of Disney. Located in sunny Florida, this area of America is a Mecca for all children big and small looking for an action packed holiday with more cartoon characters than you can shake a stick at.

It is of course home to Walt Disney World – a self contained city comprising of MGM Studios, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot plus 3 water parks a shopping district, numerous hotels and restaurants plus its own transport system. But there is much more to Orlando.

Just in case you haven’t been on enough white-knuckle rides, there is always Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure. An absolute must is Sea World where you can see some the of the world’s most spectacular sea creatures while dolphins, killer whales and seals perform amazing aquatic acrobatics. If you want to get closer there is always Discovery Cove where you can swim with rays and dolphins.

Before you think that is all there is to Orlando, there are other attractions too that don’t involve cartoon characters. There are an incredible range of museums, shops, rides, nightlife, shows and themed restaurants. With incredible scenery and gorgeous weather Orlando really is the place for families – and because there is so much to do your children will never complain they are bored.

 

See & Do

As you would expect, top of the list of things to see and do in Orlando is Walt Disney’s World. But there are other things going on too. Below is just a selection to show you what is possible in the magical world of Orlando.

  • MGM Studios
  • Magic Kingdom
  • Epcot Centre
  • Animal Kingdom
  • Typhoon Lagoon
  • Disney’s Blizzard Beach
  • Down Town Disney’s Pleasure Island
  • Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex
  • Universal Studios
  • Islands of Adventure
  • Sea World
  • Orlando Science Centre
  • Orange County Regional History Centre
  • Discovery Cove
  • Flights of Fancy
  • Boggy Creek Airboats
  • Kennedy Space Centre
  • Wet’n Wild
  • Orlando Odditorium
  • Cypress Gardens
  • Funspot Action Park
  • Gatorland
  • Lake Eola
  • Titanic: Ship of Dreams
  • Wonderworks

Shopping

Your plastic is going to hurt after a trip to Orlando. To say this is a shopper’s paradise is an understatement. Whether you are looking for markets, factory outlets, shopping malls or more Disney it’s all here. There are so many shopping centres and outlets we have listed below a selection of some of the best to get you started.

 

  • Orlando Fashion Square (3201 East Colonial Drive)
  • Pointe Orlando (9101 International Drive)
  • Mediterranean Village (8445 International Drive)
  • Florida Mall (8001 South Orange Blossom Trail)
  • The Mercado (International Drive)
  • Downtown Disney (Walt Disney World)
  • Downtown Disney Market Place (Walt Disney World)
  • Universal Citywalk (Universal Studios)
  • Altamonte Mall (451 Altamonte Avenue)
  • Old Town (5770 W Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, Kissimmee)
  • Festival Bay (5250 International Drive)
  • Mallat Millenia (4200 Conroy Road)
  • Orlando Premium Outlets (8200 Vineland Avenue)
  • Prime Outlets Orlando (5401 West Oak Ridge Road)
  • Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores (15767 South Apopka-Vineland Road)

 

Although not an outlet centre, Belz Factory Outlet store (4949 International Drive) is well worth a visit too.

 

When you’ve had enough of big store shopping there are also a few markets you can check out such as Flea World (Route 17/92 between Orlando and Sanford) held every weekend, Renninger’s Twin Markets and the Orlando Farmers Market (Lake Eola) which is held every Sunday.

 

Food & Drink

 

With over 3700 restaurants, you’ll never go hungry in Orlando. The choice of cuisines available is mind-blowing. You will have no difficulty in finding something to suit your tastes. Below is a small selection of restaurants that you could try.

 


  • Planet Hollywood (Down Town Disney)
  • California Grill (Contemporary Resort, Magic Kingdom Resort Area)
  • Enchanted Oak Tavern (Universal Studios Islands of Adventure)
  • Ruth’s Chris Steak House (7501 Sand Lake Road)
  • Emeril’s Citywalk (Universal City Walk)
  • Manuel’s on the 28th (390 N. Orange Avenue)
  • Victoria & Albert’s (4401 Grand Floridian Way, Grand Floridian Resort)
  • Bistro de Paris (French Pavilion, Epcot Centre)
  • Ming Court (9188 International Drive)
  • Thai House (2117 E. Colonial Drive)
  • Rain Forest Café (Animal Kingdom)

 

Many people, after a hard day in the parks, grab a quiet drink in their hotel. Because of the family focus of Disney, entertainment generally means more than just a drink. With the park’s rapid expansion over the past 20 years, many of the downtown bars and clubs have closed down, but some still survive should you feel the need for a drink, such as:

 


  • Tanqueray’s Bar & Grill (100 S. Orange Street)
  • Ybor’s Martini Bar (41 W Church Street)
  • Gloria Estefan’s Bongos Cuban (Down Town Disney)
  • House of Blues (Down Town Disney)
  • Universal’s City Walk (Universal Orlando Resort)

 

Entertainment

 

Orlando and Walt Disney World are entertainment central. There is always something going on. All the big resorts and hotels run their own entertainment, live shows and music events. However there are also some independent venues you might like to check out.

 

  • Orange County Convention Centre (International Drive)
  • TD Waterhouse Centre (W. Amelia Street)
  • Rollins College (Winter Park)

 

If you enjoy theatre you will be spoilt for choice. All the resorts have their own theatres so check with your hotel for details. The best of the other venues are:

 

  • Bob Carr Performing Arts (Orlando Centroplex, West Livington Street)
  • Orlando Repertory Theatre (1001 East Princetown Street)
  • Blue Man Theatre Group (Universal Studios)

 

If you like to combine dinner with theatre there are several fantastic shows (ask your hotel for details) such as:

 

  • Arabian Nights (Kissimee)
  • Fiasco’s Dinner Show (7430 Universal Boulevard, International Drive Area)
  • Pirate’s Dinner Adventure (Tangelo Park)

 

For those with enough energy to party long into the night you will be spoilt for choice. There are 100s of clubs many within the resorts. It is impossible to name them all here but here are a few of the current top venues you could try:

 


  • The Roxy Nightclub (740 Bennett Road)
  • The Club at Firestone (578 N. Orange Avenue)
  • Icon (20 E. Central Boulevard)
  • Adventurers Club (Pleasure Island)
  • Bob Marley’s (City Walk)
  • The Social (N. Orange Avenue)

 

There are also numerous opportunities for playing golf, horse riding, fishing and catching the latest block buster at the cinema. Your hotel will be able to provide you with details of the nearest venues.

 

There are also several events that take place throughout the year.

 

  • January – Walt Disney World Marathon; Annual Wine & Arts Event; Zora Beal Hurston Festival of Arts & Humanities
  • March – Spring Flower Festival
  • April – Orlando International Fringe Festival; Flower Power Concert
  • June – Black Music Month
  • July – Independence Day
  • September – Night of Joy
  • October – Halloween
  • November – Orlando Film Festival
  • December – New Year’s Eve Celebrations

 

Excursions

 

Boredom rarely creeps into a holiday in Orlando, the main problem you’ll have is fitting everything in. However should you need to get away from Disney for a while, there are several other attractions and places to visit. Your hotel will be able to provide you with details of local tour companies and possible excursions, but below are a few suggestions to get you started.

 


  • The Everglades
  • Fort Lauderdale
  • Gulf Coast
  • Homosassa Springs
  • Swimming with Manatee at Crystal River
  • Florida Keys
  • Busch Gardens
  • Kennedy Space Centre
  • Fantasy of Flight

 

Health & Safety

 

The water is safe to drink and you should make sure you drink plenty to avoid dehydration. Always carry some with you and make sure you use plenty of sun cream especially when out and about in the parks.

 

Medical insurance is a must. There is no NHS in America and the treatment you receive is expensive.

 

On the whole the Disney area of Orlando is safe. If you are venturing further afield check with your hotel for any areas you should avoid. Also always ensure you keep your valuables out of sight and be aware of pick pockets in crowded areas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

San Francisco

Introduction

 

San Francisco is one of the most stunning cities in America. It is located between the ocean and Sierra Nevada Mountains with the redwood forests and the California desert to the north and south. Its bay sweeps between the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge. It is home to 14 small islands, including the infamous Alcatraz. And close by are the vineyards of the Napa and Sonoma wine regions. 

 

The geography of the area has created one of San Francisco’s most well known features, the steep grid of streets. This incredible landscape has become synonymous with the city thanks to Hollywood’s jaw-dropping car chase sequences. It is these steep streets that gave rise to another iconic symbol – its famous public transport system, the cable car.

 
The discovery of gold in 1848 led to a huge influx of settlers leading to a culturally diverse city. This continues today as the city is divided into a number of distinct neighbourhoods with diverse cultural backgrounds.

 

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the temples of colourful Chinatown and Japantown. Then there is the characteristic bohemian flavour of the Italian pasta restaurants and cappuccino cafes in North Beach, the old Spanish-speaking Mission District, the modern Financial District, the gay centre of Castro and The Haight. This incredible diversity is what makes San Francisco such a magnetic draw for tourists.

 

See & Do

 

You will never be short of things to do during your stay in San Francisco. It may be worth investing in the Go San Francisco Card which gives you free entry to over 45 attractions as well as shopping and dining discounts, free tours and a guidebook. It is available from the San Francisco Visitor Information Centre, 900 Market Street.

 

Below is just a selection of some of the highlights that await you.

 


  • Fisherman’s Wharf
  • Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum
  • Wax Museum of Fisherman’s Wharf
  • Muse Mecanique
  • Aquarium of the Bay
  • Ghirardelli Square
  • San Francisco Maritime Museum
  • Hyde Pier Historic Ships
  • The USS Pampanito
  • Alcatraz
  • San Francisco Cable Car Rides
  • Cable Car Museum
  • Golden Gate Bridge
  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SF MOMA)
  • Golden Gate Park
  • Strybing Arboretum & Botanical Gardens
  • The Haight
  • Chinatown
  • The Castro
  • Coit Tower
  • Lombard Street
  • Exploratorium/Palace of Fine Arts
  • City Hall & The Dolores Museum
  • Japanese Tea Gardens
  • Cartoon Art Museum
  • North Beach
  • Alamo Square
  • Lombard Street

 

Weather

 

San Francisco’s climate is influenced by the cold currents of the Pacific Ocean surrounding the city. These combined with the California mainland summer heat create foggy conditions that blanket the city during summer and early autumn. As a result the summers in San Francisco are cooler than inland California.  

 

The average monthly temperatures are:

 

°C

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Day

13

16

16

17

18

19

20

20

22

21

17

14

Night

7

8

8

9

10

11

12

13

13

12

10

7

 

 

Shopping

 

If you love to shop, you’ll love San Francisco. There are a multitude of retail outlets just waiting for you. Union Square is San Francisco’s answer to 5th Avenue. Here you will find department stores such as Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, FAO Schwarz, plus Tiffany & Co, Cartier, designer boutiques and art galleries.

 

Haight Street offers shops to appeal to a wide audience. Here you’ll find high-end boutiques to trendy clothing stores and vintage clothing. Hayes Valley is home to boutiques, galleries and unique home-decorating shops. For designer boutiques, jewellery stores plus high-end kids clothes and toys, head for Union Street.

 

As with many American cities, San Francisco has its fair share of shopping malls. Two of the most popular with tourists are the Cannery Complex (originally built in 1907 as the largest Peach Cannery in the world) home to crafts, ceramics and glassware and Ghirardelli Square which is renowned for its chocolate shops, ice-cream, unique shops, boutiques and galleries. Other malls include Pier 39, The Anchorage, The Embarcadero Centre, San Francisco Shopping Centre, Crocker Gallery, Japan Centre (Nihonmachi) and the Westfield San Francisco Centre.

 

The city is also home to several farmer’s markets and flea markets. Farmer’s markets can be found at the United Nations Plaza (Sunday and Wednesday), Justin Herman Plaza (Tuesday and Thursday) and Alemany Boulevard (Saturday). For flea markets, head for Alemany Boulevard (Sunday morning), Jack London Square (weekends) or Ashby BART Station on Ashby Avenue and Martin Luther King. An hour’s drive south of San Francisco will take you to the San Jose Flea Market with over 2000 vendors plus restaurants and amusement rides.

 

Food & Drink

 

San Francisco is seen as one of the best culinary cities in America. You will find just about every cuisine imaginable reflecting its diverse population. With well over 3000 restaurants it is impossible to name them all here but below is a few of the best that you might like to try.

 


  • Boulevard, 1 Mission Street
  • Bix, 56 Gold Street
  • Jardinière, 300 Grove Street at Franklin
  • Gary Danko, 800 North Point at Hyde
  • Rose Pistola, 532 Columbus Avenue
  • Slanted Door, 1 Ferry Bldg, Embarcadero
  • Khan Toke Thai House, 5937 Geary Blvd
  • House of Nanking, 919 Kearny Street
  • Ebisu, 1283 9th Avenue
  • AsiaSF, 201 9th Street at Howard
  • Maya, 303 2nd Street
  • La Taqueria, 2889 Mission Street at 25th
  • Aqua, 252 California Street
  • Millennium, 580 Geary Street
  • One Market, 1 Market Street, Embarcadero South
  •  Zuni Café, 1658 Market Street
  • Greens, Fort Mason Centre, Marina Boulevard
  • Brandy Ho’s, 217 Columbus Avenue, Chinatown

 

Entertainment

 

You’ll never be short of something to do in San Francisco. From bars and clubs to theatre, music and sports, the city has something for everyone.

 

If you enjoy classical music the San Francisco Symphony can be heard at the Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall (210 Van Ness Avenue). If contemporary music is more your thing, there are numerous venues in the city so for up to date listings for what’s on where look out for the free weekly papers SF Weekly and the Bay Guardian.

 

San Francisco’s main theatre district is within the Union Square Region. The main theatres include The Curran, Golden Gate, American Conservatory Theatre, Mason Street, and Lorraine Hansberry. Opera lovers should head for the War Memorial Opera House (301 Van Ness Avenue).

 

When it comes to bars and nightlife, the main concentration of venues is around the SoMa area (South of Market). There are a huge number of venues to choose from, so below are a few bars and clubs to get you started.

 

Bars

 


  • Harry Denton’s Starlight Room, 450 Powell Street
  • Hurricane Bar, 950 Mason Street
  • Top of the Mark, 1 Nob Hill
  • Buena Vista Café, 2765 Hyde Street
  • Vesuvio Café, 255 Columbus Avenue
  • Beach Chalet Brewery & Restaurant, 1000 Great Hwy
  • Bambuddah Lounge, Phoenix Hotel, Eddy Street
  • Redwood Room, Clift Hotel, 495 Geary Street
  • Bubble Lounge, Montgomery Street at Washington Street

 

Clubs

 


  • Matrix Fillmore, 3138 Fillmore Street
  • Elbo Room, 647 Valencia Street
  • Beauty Bar, 2299 Mission Street at 19th
  • Bimbo’s 365 Club, 1025 Columbus Avenue
  • Café du Nord, 2170 Market Street
  • Ruby Skye, 420 Mason Street
  • 1015 Folsom, 1015 Folsom Street
  • EndUp, 401 6th Street
  • The Stud, 399 9th Street at Harrison (gay club)
  • Club Six, 60 6th Street SoMa
  • John Lee Hooker’s Boom Boom Room, Fillmore Street at Geary Street

 

 

San Francisco is also home to several sporting venues such as SBC Park – home to the San Francisco Giants (baseball), 3Com – home to San Francisco 49ers (football), McAfee Coliseum – home to the Oakland A’s (baseball) and Oakland Riders (football), and the Oracle Arena – home to the Golden State Warriors (basketball).

 

There are also numerous events that take place during the year. The sheer number of them reflects the multicultural nature of the city. There are far too many to name them all here, so here is a selection.

 

  • January – Martin Luther King Jr’s Birthday
  • February/March – Chinese New Year Parade
  • March – St Patrick’s Day
  • April – Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival & start of the boating season
  • May – Gay & Lesbian Festival & North Beach Festival
  • July – Independence Day
  • August – AfroSolo Arts Festival, Comedy Day & Labour Day
  • September – Chocolate Festival & San Francisco Fringe Festival
  • October – San Francisco Jazz Festival
  • November – Dias de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) & Family Winemakers Annual Tasting
  • December – New Year’s Eve at SN NYE

 

Excursions

 

Although there are a number of sights to see and activities to do in San Francisco, you may want to make the most of your trip and explore other areas of Northern California. Your hotel will be able to provide you with details of excursions and local tour operators, but below are a few suggestions to get you started.

  • Monterey & whale-spotting
  • Napa Valley Wine Tour
  • Sausalito
  • Yosemite National Park
  • Sonoma Valley Wine Country

 

Health & Safety

The water is safe to drink in San Francisco.  Medical insurance is a must. There is no NHS in America and the treatment you receive is expensive.

On the whole San Francisco is a safe city however you should take the usual precautions with your valuables and watch out for pick pockets in busy areas. 

 

 

Miami

Introduction

To many people (or at least those old enough to remember) Miami is synonymous with the early 90s hit TV series Miami Vice. It is the second-largest city in the “Sunshine State” and one of America’s leading holiday destinations, both with overseas visitors and domestic holidaymakers.

It exemplifies the good life with long palm tree lined boulevards, fantastic shopping, gourmet restaurants and superb sub-tropical sunshine that beams down all year round.

However frequently (as with Orlando), Miami isn't visited solely for itself. It is surrounded by other attractions such as the Everglades, the Keys, Seaquarium, Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Centre.

But Miami has a lot to offer visitors and shouldn’t be overlooked. It is laid-back and cosmopolitan. Much of its appeal comes from its diverse neighbourhoods which range from the big city of downtown Miami with its skyscrapers, Little Havana (home to the Cuban community) to the trendy Miami Beach area of South Beach.

It is South Beach that is quintessentially Miami with its art deco buildings, cloudless skies and Blue Ocean framed by sandy beaches and palm trees.  

 

See & Do

Miami has a lot to offer tourists. There are numerous sights to see so it may be worth investing in a Go Miami Card which gives you free entry to over 25 attractions plus shopping and dining discounts, free tours and a guide book (it is available from the Miami Beach Visitor Centre). Below is a selection of some of the best attractions and places to visit.

  • Art Deco District of Miami Beach
  • Everglades Safari Park
  • Miami Seaquarium
  • Vizcaya Villa & Gardens
  • Biscayne Bay & Millionaire’s Row
  • South Beach
  • Lincoln Road
  • Little Havana
  • Jungle Island
  • Venetian Pool
  • Downtown Miami
  • Coconut Grove
  • Coral Gables
  • Historical Museum of Southern Florida
  • Miami Museum of Science & Planetarium
  • Miami Art Museum
  • Miami MetroZoo
  • Monkey Jungle
  • Miami-Dade Cultural Centre
  • Spanish Monastery
  • Coral Castle
  • Lincoln Road Mall
  • Wolfsonian Museum
  • Crandon Park Beach
  • Bill Braggs Cape Florida State Recreation Park
  • Pelican Island

 

Shopping

There is plenty of shopping to be had in Miami and to suit all budgets. Bal Harbour offers exclusive designer shopping for those that can afford it. Locals tend to favour the Lincoln Road area of Miami Beach. The Miracle Mile (Coral Gables) offers galleries, boutiques and department stores. For some serious shopping you should head for the Bayside Marketplace waterfront complex of shops and restaurants.

Miami, like many American cities, also has several shopping malls such as the Aventura Mall and Dolphin Mall plus the Sawgrass Mills outlet mall for those looking for a bargain. If you are looking for something a little different to the norm, head for Downtown Miami where you’ll find numerous small stalls selling perfume, knock-off designer wear and handbags.

The city also has several markets the best known of which is the one on Espanola Way (Miami Beach) where you’ll find local arts and crafts for sale every weekend.

 

Food & Drink

You can find just about any cuisine in Miami. From the exotic to the mundane, it’s all there. There are far too many restaurants to list them all here, but below is a selection of some of the best.

  • Smith & Wollensky’s, 1 Washington Avenue
  • Nikki Beach Restaurant, 1 Ocean Drive
  • 1220 at the Tides, 1220 Ocean Drive
  • Big Pink, 157 Collins Avenue
  • Tiramisu, 721 Lincoln Street, Miami Beach
  • Tap Tap, 819 5th Street
  • Lario’s, 820 Ocean Drive
  • China Grill, 404 Washington Avenue
  • Lemon Twist, 908 71st Street
  • Van Dyke Café, 846 Lincoln Road
  • Café Tu Tu Tango, 3015 Grand Avenue, Coco Walk
  • Baleen Miami, Four Grove Island Drive
  • Emeril’s Miami Beach, 1601 Collins Avenue
  • Palme d’Or, 1200 Anastasia Avenue, Coral Gables
  • Shoji Sushi, 100 Collins Avenue, South Beach
  • Santo Miami Beach, 430 Lincoln Road
  • Joe’s Stone Crab, 11 Washington Avenue
  • Senor Frog’s, 3480 Main Hwy, Coconut Grove

When it comes to finding somewhere for a drink, Miami offers numerous choices. Due to its large immigrant population, particularly Haitians and Cubans, you'll find that there are plenty of bars from both these nationalities. There are also American pubs, sports and theme bars as well as traditional beer dens. Here are just a few names you might like to look out for.

  • Finnegan’s Too, 942 Lincoln Road
  • Gordon Biersch Brewery, 1201 Brickell Avenue
  • Abbey Brewing Company, 1115 16th Street Miami Beach
  • Raleigh, 1775 Collins Avenue
  • Playwright Irish Pub, 1265 Washington Avenue

 

Entertainment

Miami offers a wealth of nightlife and entertainment opportunities so you are sure to find something that suits. If you enjoy classical music you’ll find the New World Symphony at the Lincoln Theatre (541 Lincoln Road). If you enjoy the theatre, the Jackie Gleason Theatre (1700 Washington Avenue) hosts Broadway musicals, touring shows and concerts.

For the sports enthusiast you can catch the Miami Dolphins America Football team at the Pro Player Stadium or The Heat (basketball) at the AmericanAirlines Arena.

If you enjoy dancing the night away, Miami is home to many clubs. Below is just a small selection of names you should look out for.

  • Opium Garden, 136 Collins Avenue
  • Martini Bar at the Raleigh Hotel, 1775 Collins Avenue
  • Crobar, 1445 Washington Avenue
  • Mokai, 235 23rd Street Miami Beach
  • Alcazaba, 50 Alhambra Plaza
  • Snatch Rock’n’Roll Bar & Lounge, 1437 Washington Avenue
  • Nikki Beach Club, 1 Ocean Drive
  • Mansion, 1235 Washington Avenue

There are also a number of special events that take place throughout the year.

  • January – Art Deco Music Festival
  • February – Miami Film Festival
  • March – Calle Ocho Street Carnival
  • July – Independence Day
  • September – Afro-Cuban Festival
  • October – South Florida’s Annual Auto Show
  • November – Miami’s Book Fair

 

Excursions

If you want to take the opportunity of exploring more of this area of America your hotel will be able to provide you with details of local tour operators and excursions. However below are a few suggestions to get you started.

  • Everglades
  • The Florida Keys
  • Kennedy Space Centre
  • Fort Lauderdale
  • Cape Canaveral

 

Health & Safety

The water is safe to drink in Miami and you should ensure you drink plenty of it to avoid dehydration. You should also apply plenty of sun cream to prevent sun burn.

Medical insurance is a must as in Miami the level of healthcare is superb and consequently very expensive. As there is no NHS you will have to pay for all treatments which could prove very costly.

As with many large holiday towns there are certain areas of Miami that tourists shouldn't visit. Although the city is relatively safe you should ask your hotel concierge or local tourist office for advice on areas to avoid.

 

 

 

Los Angeles

Introduction

Los Angeles is the USA's second largest city after New York. ‘The City of Angels’, La La Land, Tinseltown, or however you want to refer to it, sprawls along the Pacific coast of southern California. Its immense coastline stretches 122km (76 miles) from Malibu to Long Beach. Inland, the city fills a vast, flat basin ringed by the Santa Monica and San Gabriel mountains.

The best way to really appreciate the scale of L.A. is from the window of your plane when you arrive. The imposing cluster of skyscrapers marks Downtown, 26km (16 miles) inland from the coast. If you look northeast you’ll see Pasadena. To the west and northwest are Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Century City and the wide San Fernando Valley. Look south and you’ll see Long Beach and along the west coast are Santa Monica, Venice Beach and Marina del Rey.

L.A. is full of the next batch of wannabes – everyone is an actor, script writer or film maker just waiting for their big break. Being the hub of ‘movie-land’ everyone wants to make it big and is either out star spotting or trying to be the next big discovery. Its population shows a rich diversity of backgrounds and is a mix-and-match of people from 140 countries speaking 96 different languages.

You will certainly never get bored if you come to L.A. It offers an incredible array of attractions and world-famous amusements: Chinatown, Little Tokyo, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Muscle Beach, Disneyland and Venice Beach to name but a few.

Whatever you are looking for, you are sure to find it in Los Angeles.

See & Do

Los Angeles is crammed with things to see and do. It is impossible to name everything but below is just a selection to get you started.

  • Venice Beach
  • Getty Museum
  • Grauman’s Chinese Theatre
  • Hollywood & The Boulevard of the Stars
  • Disneyland
  • Film Studio Tours
  • Universal Studios Hollywood
  • Star Tours
  • Rancho La Brea Tar Pits
  • El Pueblo de Los Angeles
  • Museum of Tolerance
  • Basketball – L A Lakers
  • Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Walt Disney Concert Hall
  • Hollywood History Museum
  • Peterson Car Museum
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art
  • Santa Monica Pier Aquarium
  • Pacific Park, Santa Monica
  • Warner Bros Studios
  • Malibu
  • Los Angeles Zoo
  • Griffith Park Observatory
  • California Science Centre
  • Manhattan Beach
  • Roundhouse Aquarium
  • Sand Dune Park

Shopping

Los Angeles was built for shopping so prepare your credit cards for a serious workout. There is shopping to suit all budgets but you probably won’t be able to resist a visit to the iconic Rodeo Drive.

Beverly Hills is the most expensive designer area in the city. It’s best known street, Rodeo Drive, has become a tourist attraction in its own right these days. It is a fantastic place to window shop and people watch. Nearby Wilshire is home to the up-scale department stores such as Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Barneys.

The antithesis of Rodeo Drive is Venice Boardwalk. Here you’ll discover numerous open air stalls and funky shops selling all manner of items. It’s a great place to bargain for sun glasses, clothes, CDs and unusual art objects.

Main Street offers a good variety of stores plus the must visit used celebrity clothing store, Star Wares. Another place that should also be visited is Melrose Avenue (between Fairfax and La Brae) where you’ll find one-of-a-kind stores.

A visit to one of the discount outlets is a must. Located in the suburbs, you could save up to 65%. A few names to seek out are Ontario Mills, Camarillo Premium Outlets and Desert Hills Premium Outlets.

Shopping Malls were born in America and you’ll find plenty in Los Angeles. They all house department stores, smaller chain stores, restaurants, food courts, multiple movie screens and free parking. A few names to look out for are Westside Pavilion (Westwood Boulevard), Century City (Santa Monica Boulevard – which includes both Macey’s and Bloomingdales) and The Beverly Centre (Beverly Boulevard).

If you want a change from shops, the city also offers several markets: The Rose Bowl Flea Market & Swap Meet (Pasadena) held the second Sunday in every month, Pasadena City College Flea Market (first Sunday in every month) and the Jewellery Market (Hill Street, downtown).

Food & Drink

Whatever cuisine you fancy, you are sure to find it in Los Angeles. You will find anything from burgers and chilli dogs to restaurants offering international dishes such as Italian, Mexican, Thai, Greek, and Japanese etc.

Westside is where you’ll find the expensive up market trendy restaurants and world-class chefs. The older vintage restaurants are mainly downtown, midtown and in Hollywood. Out door dining is very popular especially in the Oceanside communities and in the canyons of the mountains.

There are far too many restaurants in the city to name them all here, but below is a selection of the best that you might like to try (it’s worth noting that smoking is prohibited in restaurants and bars).

  • The Palm, Santa Monica Boulevard (celebrity hangout)
  • Hotel Bel Air, Bel Air
  • The Ivy, W Hollywood
  • Philippe the Original, Chinatown
  • Cheesecake Factory, Marina del Ray
  • California Pizza Kitchen, Westwood
  • Souplantation, Pasadena
  • The Lobster, Santa Monica
  • El Cholo,  S Western Avenue
  • Guido’s, Santa Monica Boulevard
  • Matsuhisa, North La Cienega Boulevard
  • Aki, Santa Monica Boulevard
  • Typhoon, Santa Monica
  • Asia de Cuba, Sunset Strip
  • Taverna Tony, Malibu
  • Café 50s, Santa Monica Boulevard
  • Campanile, S La Brae Avenue
  • Spago Beverly Hills, Beverly Hills
  • Water Grill, S Grand Avenue

To compliment its vast range of restaurants, Los Angeles is also home to numerous bars. They range from Designer Wine Bars (where you can sample the best of the local wines), American drinking halls, English Pubs and themed Irish and Mexican Bars. Below is just a small selection.

  • Ye Olde King’s Head, Santa Monica Boulevard
  • Hennessey’s Tavern, Manhattan Beach Boulevard
  • Bonaventure Brewing Co, S Figueroa Street
  • Britannia Pub, Santa Monica Boulevard
  • Rainbow Bar & Grill, Sunset Boulevard
  • The Sky Bar, Sunset Boulevard
  • Cat’n Fiddle, Sunset Boulevard
  • Spider Club, Hollywood
  • Velvet Margarita Cantina, Hollywood
  • Observation Bar, Long Beach
  • Rock Bottom Brewery, Pine Avenue

Entertainment

There is a vast amount of entertainment in Los Angeles so whatever your taste, you’ll find something right up your street.

The places to catch the big stars playing live music are The Staples Centre and the Hollywood Bowl. The Hollywood Palladium also holds some concerts. There are also smaller venues such as Johnny Depp’s The Viper Room.

If classical music is more your thing you can catch the LA Philharmonic at The Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra at UCLA’s Royce Hall.

For Jazz and Blues try Jazz Bakery (Helms Ave), The Mint (W Piclo Boulevard) or House of Blues (Sunset Boulevard).

Although not quite up to London or New York, LA has a good range of theatres, numerous cinemas, or if you prefer, you can also catch a bit of Opera at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

A trip to LA wouldn’t be complete without catching a basketball or baseball game. The Staples Centre is home to the LA Lakers (basketball), LA Clippers and Spark’s Women’s basketball team and the LA Kings ice hockey team. The Dodger stadium is home to the Dodgers Baseball team.

When it comes to clubs, the best way to find out what’s on where is to refer to the listings in the LA Weekly or the Los Angeles Times. Below is just a selection of venues you could try.

  • The Key Club, Sunset Boulevard
  • The Roxy Theatre, Sunset Boulevard
  • The Viper Room, Sunset Boulevard
  • Whiskey A-Go-Go, Sunset Boulevard
  • Mayan, S Hill Street
  • Cabana Club, Ivar Avenue
  • Catalina Bar & Grill, Sunset Boulevard
  • HMS Bounty, Wilshire Boulevard

There are also several events that happen throughout the year.

  • January – Tournament of Roses Parade, Auto Show
  • March – City of Los Angeles Marathon
  • April – Toyota Grand Prix
  • May – Cinco de Mayo
  • July – Independence Day
  • July/August – Festival of the Arts, Pageant of the Masters
  • August – International Surf Festival
  • September – Los Angeles County Fair
  • November – The Doo Dah Parade, The Hollywood Christmas Parade

 

Excursions

There are numerous things to see and do in Los Angeles, but you might also like to make the most of your visit by exploring further afield. Your hotel should be able to provide you with details of possible excursions but below are just a few to get you started.

  • San Francisco
  • San Diego
  • Tijuana
  • Long Beach
  • Catalina Island
  • Disneyland Resort

 

Health & Safety

The medical facilities are superb and the price incredibly high. You will have to pay for all treatment so make sure you take out comprehensive medical insurance before you travel.

The water is safe to drink in the city. The majority of the city is safe although you must not walk alone after dark in Downtown or Hollywood. If driving through these areas keep your doors locked and windows wound up. You should exercise the usual precautions with your valuables and be careful in crowded areas.

 

 

 

Boston

Introduction

 

Boston, the capital of Massachusetts is where modern America began.

The Pilgrims landed in New England and made their first settlement at Plymouth, which is barely an hour south of Boston. About 150 years later Boston threw a world famous Tea Party to which the British were unwelcome guests. Then soon after that the first skirmishes of the War of Independence broke out here, with the famous battle on Bunker Hill to the north-east of the city.

Those amongst you who like to trace back such historical events will enjoy following The Freedom Trail, a physical manifestation of the birth of the modern American Republic - around 4km (2.5 miles) of the city's streets and sights. Plus Boston had a prominent role in black American history. It was a goal to black slaves escaping the oppressive south on the ‘Underground Railway’. You can discover more by following the 2.5km (1.6-mile) Black Heritage Trail.

Today Boston is quite European and one of America’s most cosmopolitan cities. It is home to numerous universities including the world renowned Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

History and beauty envelop Boston. The surrounding New England countryside is home to the coastal resorts of Cape Cod and the island of Martha’s Vineyard. To the north of the city is Salem known for it infamous 17th century witch trials.

Of course many of the younger generation would associate Boston with an altogether different fact. I am of course referring to the fact that Boston is home to the popular TV show, Cheers. Thousands of visitors flock to the city every year to seek out the Bull and Finch Pub which was the show’s inspiration. However be prepared for a slight disappointment, the bar looks nothing like Cheers!

 

See & Do

If you are planning to see a lot of sights and attractions during your stay it would be worth your while to invest in a Go Boston Card (available from the Go Boston Card Visitor Centre, Commercial Street). It entitles you to free entry to over 60 attractions plus shopping and dining discounts, free tours and a guidebook.

It is impossible to list here everything that Boston has to offer, but below is a selection of the best attractions and sites to get you started.

  • The Freedom Trail
  • USS Constitution Warship
  • Bunker Hill Monument
  • Boston Common
  • Faneuil Hall & Market
  • Harbour Islands National Park
  • Esplanade
  • Harvard University & Harvard Square
  • Museum of Fine Arts
  • Isabella Steward Gardner Museum
  • Arnold Arboretum & Boston Public Garden
  • Cheers
  • Boston National Historical Park
  • Black Heritage Trail
  • Museum of Natural History
  • Boston Tea Party Ship & Museum
  • The Children’s Museum
  • New England Aquarium
  • Cambridge
  • Castle Island & Fort Independence
  • Chinatown Gate & Park
  • MIT Museum

 

Shopping

There is a huge amount of shopping to be done in Boston and no matter what your budget, you will somewhere that suits.

Newbury Street is the home of designers and fine art galleries. Copley Square is where you’ll find numerous indoor malls such as Arlington, Copley or Hynes T Stops. If you enjoy browsing, Charles Street on Beacon Hill is a great place for antiques and curios.

Chinatown is a great place to shop and people watch. You will find numerous traditional medicine stores as well as shops selling all manner of Chinese goods. If you pop over to Harvard Square you’ll find fine arts, crafts and books.

If you are looking for a unique gift try Massachusetts Avenue, and Porter Square is the place for funky boutiques, used clothing and handmade crafts.

At the intersection of Washington Street and Park is the pedestrianised mall, Downtown Crossing. Here you will find standard department stores like Macy’s and Filene’s. However make sure you venture down to the 2 underground floors in Filene’s known as Filene’s Basement. Here you will find huge savings on loads of different merchandise that is either end of line or lines that didn’t sell. You can even grab yourself a designer bargain.

Faneuil Hall Marketplace is as much a tourist attraction as it is a market these days but it is well worth a browse.

Food & Drink

When it comes to restaurants and cuisines, Boston has them all. Wherever you go in the city you will find somewhere to suit your taste and budget. Try Quincy Market at Faneuil Hall for a large range of excellent restaurants. North End (Hanover Street, Salem Street) for Italian Trattoria, cafés and excellent bakeries.  South End (Tremont Street, Columbus Avenue) for the top chefs and restaurants or the Financial District (Temple Place, High Street, State Street) and Back Bay (Arlington Street, Boylston Street) for fine dining and some of the cities longest established restaurants.

Of course, no stay in Boston would be complete without a trip to Chinatown especially Chau Chow City for dim sum, East Ocean City for Chinese food and Buddha’s Delight for vegetarian fare.

Below is just a selection of some of the best restaurants you should try during your stay.

  • Hamersley’s Bistro, Tremont Street
  • Tea at the Taj, Arlington Street
  • Durgin Park, Faneuil Hall
  • Radius, High Street
  • Mantra, Temple Place
  • No Name Restaurant, Fish Pier
  • Trattoria Il Panino, Faneuil Hall
  • Chau Chow City, Essex Street
  • East Ocean City, Beach Street
  • Buddha’s Delight, Beach Street
  • The Dish, South End
  • Mistral, Columbus Avenue
  • Pomodoro, Hanover Street
  • Max & Dylans, West Street
  • Barking Club, Sleeper Street
  • Silverstone Bar & Grill, Bromfield Street

The city is also home to many Irish themed pubs and many student haunts. Being such an academic city, that is hardly surprising. Again, there are far too many bars to name them all here, but here is a selection to get you started.

  • Doyle’s, Washington Street
  • Boston Beerworks, Brookline Avenue
  • Clerys, Dartmouth Street
  • Algiers, Brattle Street
  • Top of the Hub, Boylston Street
  • Bell in the Hand Tavern, Union Street
  • The Green Dragon, Marshall Street
  • ‘Cheers’ Bar, Beacon Street

 

Entertainment

It may not be able to rival New York, but you are sure to find something to suit your entertainment tastes in Boston. Below is a selection of what is available.

Music

  • Classical – Symphony Hall & Berklee School of Music
  • Jazz –   Regatta Bar (Charles Hotel), Harvard Square

Scullers (Double Treet Hotel), Cambridge

Ryles, Inmand Square, Cambridge

  • Folk Music – Club Passim, Cambridge
  • Rock – Paradise Rock Club, Mass Avenue

 

There is a strong theatre and cinema presence in the city and your hotel should be able to provide you with details of venues and listings of what’s on.

Sport

  • Baseball – Red Sox, Fenway Park
  • Basketball – Boston Celtics, Fleetcentre
  • Ice hockey – Boston Bruins, Fleetcentre
  • American Football – New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium

 

Nightlife

  • An Tua Nua, Beacon Street
  • Avalon, Lansdowne Street
  • The Roxy, Tremont Street
  • Axis, Lansdowne Street
  • Q, Union Street

There are also a number of events that take place throughout the year.

  • December/January – First Night (New Years Eve)
  • March – St Patrick’s Day
  • April – Boston Marathon & Patriots Day
  • July – Harbour Festival
  • October – Head of the Charles Regatta

 

Excursions

While visiting Boston you may want to explore the surround country to see what else this part of America can offer. Your hotel will be able to provide you with details of possible excursions, but below are just a few suggestions to get you started.

 


  • Concord
  • Plymouth & Cape Cod
  • Martha’s Vineyard & Nantucket
  • Salem
  • Whale watching

 

Health & Safety

 

You will have no problems with tap water or food in Boston but one essential is medical insurance. Healthcare is excellent and consequently very expensive especially as there is no national health service.

 

Boston is a safe city but you should still take the usual precautions with your valuables especially when in crowded areas. It may also be wise to check with your hotel to find out if there are any non-recommended areas around where you are staying.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Las Vegas

Introduction

 

In the middle of the Mojave Desert at the southern tip of the state of Nevada nestles the neon oasis of Las Vegas.

 

It is a city of excess, energy, life and money. Its reason for existing is to provide entertainment – and quite possibly to take your cash.

 

Many visitors find it hard to believe that this incredible city has only been around (in its present form) for just over 70 years. The metamorphosis into the bright and brash city of today began back in 1931. This was when the state of Nevada legalised gambling. Then in 1946 Mafia don ‘Bugsy’ Siegel opened the sensational Flamingo Hilton on Highway 19 and so Las Vegas Boulevard was born.

 

Las Vegas attracts over 35 million people every year but it is no longer purely a holiday for those who just want to gamble. The casinos are still flourishing but the city has geared itself to offer more to attract families too. Today it offers everything from wildlife viewing to theme park thrills and spills, shopping to golf and world class shows to intimate night clubs. It is now very much a destination for anyone who wants to have fun. 


As you walk down 'The Strip' you could be forgiven to think you’d stepped into another world. As you walk along you will be able to see the skylines of New York and Paris, discover the canals of Venice and the Pyramids of Egypt and, at Treasure Island, see a full on-sea battle between a Pirate ship and a British Galleon.

 

Home to 18 out of 21 of the largest hotels in the world you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to finding somewhere to stay. You’ll also be pleasantly surprised to learn that the room rates and restaurant bills in Las Vegas are the lowest in the western world.

 

See & Do

 

Just looking at the amazing hotels and casinos could keep you occupied. The sheer opulence is incredible with each one trying to out do its neighbour. Marvel at the Bellagio, Wynn Las Vegas, MGM Grand, Caesars Palace, Mirage, Venetian Resort Hotel and Casino, The Palazzo Las Vegas and the Luxor to name but a few.

 

Of course, other than gambling, live music and shows there are many other things to keep you occupied during your stay. Below is a selection of some of the best.

  • Shark Reef Aquarium
  • Liberace Museum
  • Hoover Dam
  • Las Vegas Natural History Museum
  • Fremont Street Experience
  • Imperial Palace Auto Collection
  • Adventuredome
  • Atomic Testing Museum
  • Circus Circus Midway
  • Eiffel Tower Experience
  • Flamingo Wildlife Habitat
  • Vegas Cyber Speedway & Speed
  • Stratosphere Tower
  • Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden & Dolphin Habitat
  • King Tut Museum
  • Little White Wedding Chapel
  • Madam Tussauds
  • Manhattan Express Rollercoaster
  • Mirage Volcano
  • Neonopolus

Shopping

 

There is no shortage of shopping opportunities in Las Vegas and you’ll quickly discover that many of the shopping centres are also attractions in their own right. The Strip is lined with numerous stores but if you enjoy the shopping mall experience, you’ve definitely come to the right city. With over 20 mega malls to choose from you’ll be hard pushed to know where to start.

 

Town Square, Boulevard Mall (Maryland Parkway) and Miracle Mile (at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino) all house many hundreds of shops and restaurants. There are also some incredible themed shopping malls such as Desert Passage (at the Aladdin), The Grand Canal Shoppes (at the Venetian) and the ever popular Forum Shops (at Caesar’s).

To make your cash go a little bit further why not head for one of the outlet centres such as Las Vegas Outlet Centre (Las Vegas Boulevard), Las Vegas Premium Outlets (South Grand Central Parkway) or Fashion Outlet of Las Vegas (40 miles away at Primm, interstate 15).

The city is also home to 2 major flea markets, or ‘swap meets’ – outdoor Broad Acres Swap Meet with over 400 retailers selling just about everything (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) and the brilliantly names Fantastic Indoor Swap Meet which restricts itself to new merchandise only (entry costs USD1).

 

Food & Drink

Eating in Las Vegas is a 24 hour experience. Hot competition has driven prices down and it’s not unusual to see an “all you can eat” buffet service for as little as USD2. Some casinos will even offer gamblers free food and drink just to keep than at the tables.

The best selection of restaurants is on the Strip or Downtown. There are far too many to mention them all here, but below is a selection of some of the best,

 

  • Planet Hollywood (Caesar’s Palace)
  • Top of the World (Stratosphere Casino Hotel & Tower)
  • California Pizza Kitchen (Mirage Hotel)
  • The Cheesecake Factory (Forum Shops, Caesar Hotel & Casino)
  • Tony Roma’s (E. Sahara Avenue)
  • MGM Grand Buffet (MGM Grand Hotel & Casino)
  • Carnival World (Rio Suite Hotel & Casino)
  • Le Village Buffet (Paris Hotel & Casino)
  • Noodles (Bellagio Hotel)
  • Benihana (Las Vegas Hilton)
  • Japonais (The Mirage)
  • McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant (Hughes Centre Drive)
  • Pink Taco (Hard Rock Hotel & Casino)
  • Taqueria Canonita (Venetian Hotel & Casino)
  • Bertolini’s (Village Square)
  • Eiffel Tower Restaurant (Paris Las Vegas)
  • The Steakhouse (Treasure Island)
  • Wing Lei (Wynn Las Vegas)
  • Pamplemousse (East Sahara Avenue)
  • Chicago Joe’s (S. 4th Street)

When it comes to places to have a drink, again, you won’t have any problem finding somewhere. Every hotel has a bar and prices are very low. Below is a selection of names you might want to look out for.

  • Voodoo Lounge (Rio Suite Hotel & Casino)
  • Eye Candy Lounge (Mandalay Bay Hotel)
  • Napoleon’s (Paris Las Vegas Hotel)
  • Ghost Bar (The Palms Casino Resort)
  • The Peppermill’s Fireside Lounge (Las Vegas Boulevard South)
  • Triple 7 Restaurant & Brewery (Main Street Station Casino)
  • Baccarat Bar (Bellagio)
  • Red Square (Mandalay Bay)
  • Bar at Times Square (New York-New York Hotel & Casino)

 

Entertainment

If there’s one thing you’ll never be short of in Las Vegas, its entertainment. The self-proclaimed city of glitz offers a multitude of shows, clubs and casinos to keep you happy. Most of the large hotels offer the grandest entertainment and cinema complexes. If you are looking for comedy, dancing girls, jazz, tribute nights or just a great night out you will be spoilt for choice.

Worth a mention is the nightly Sound & Light shows at the Fremont Street Experience plus Cirque du Soleil’s Mystere which is performed every Saturday to Wednesday.

The most obvious form of entertainment in Las Vegas is gambling. You must be over 21 to play in the casinos. If you are beginner, don’t be shy as many of the casinos also offer gaming classes to get you started. There are too many casinos to name them all here but a few names you may recognised are Luxor, MGM Grand, Bellagio, Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, Palms Casino Resort, New York-New York, Paris Las Vegas, Caesar’s Palace and Venetian.

Again, most of the hotels offer their own night clubs, but here are a few names to look out for:

  • Studio 54 (MGM Grand)
  • Baby’s (Hard Rock Hotel)
  • Pure (Caesar’s Palace)
  • Rain (Palms Casino Resort)

Las Vegas doesn’t need much of an excuse to put on a party – it’s like party day every day! But there are several events that take place throughout the year that get the city partying just a little bit harder.

  • January – New Year celebrations
  • February – Valentine’s Day
  • July – Independence Day
  • August – Magic Show
  • October – Auto Show
  • November – Thanksgiving

 

Excursions

If you can bear to leave the bright lights and endless entertainment, you may be persuaded to take a look further afield at other close attractions and sights. Your hotel will be able to provide you with details of local tours and operators, but below are a few suggestions to get you started.

  • Red Rock Canyon
  • Big Bend State Park
  • Wild West Ghost Towns (e.g. Goldfield, Goodsprings & Rhyolite)
  • Death Valley
  • Grand Canyon
  • Hoover Dam & Lake Mead
  • Valley of Fire State Park
  • Zion National Park

 

Health & Safety

You won’t experience any problems with tap water or food in Las Vegas. However you should remember that you are in a desert area and therefore it is important that you always carry water with you to avoid dehydration and ensure you use a high factor sun cream at all times.

Medical care is excellent and very expensive. America doesn’t have an NHS so any treatment you need, you’ll have to pay for. Therefore you are strongly advised to take out full medical cover before you travel.

Parts of Las Vegas are not safe and you are recommended to remain on the Strip and not venture into unknown areas on your own or after dark. The Strip is patrolled 24/7 by Police and CCTV is everywhere. You should exercise the usual precautions with your valuables and watch out for pick pockets.

 

 

 

 

New York

Introduction

New York is an iconic city that many of us already ‘know’ even if we’ve never been there.  Used as a back drop for countless TV programmes and films, the sights and sounds of New York are already familiar to us.

The possibilities for sight seeing in New York City are endless. It is made up of the five boroughs of Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island and Manhattan – each one completely different in atmosphere and look.

 

The city is home to some 7.2 million people, including significant populations of Spanish, Irish, Italian, Chinese, Russians and Jewish. This eclectic mix of the world's cultures and nationalities means you can get absolutely anything you want, anytime. Dubbed as the city that never sleeps, you can literally eat anytime and even when you’ve given up and turned in for the night, the city below will still be buzzing.


You can choose to explore on foot, by famous yellow cab or by jumping on and off the subway. But whichever you choose you’ll be blown away by this incredible city. One minute you can be in a museum, the next marvelling at the Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry, or relaxing on a bench in the leafy oasis that is Central Park. New York is an exciting mix that will keep you enthralled – where else can you see Broadway and baseball in the same day?

Most people can only take so much and if after a few days of museums, bars, galleries and clubs you could do with a break, then guess what? New York can provide that for you too. There are the National Parks of Upstate New York or the beaches of Long Island. Whatever you are searching for, you’ll find it in New York. 

See & Do

However long you stay in New York you’ll never run out of things to do. In fact your biggest challenge will probably be to fit everything in that you want to see. If you are planning on seeing a lot of sights it may be worth investing in a City Pass as this gains you entry into 6* of the city’s top attractions.

Below is a selection of places you could visit during your stay.

  • Guggenheim Museum*
  • American Museum of Natural History*
  • Circle Line Sightseeing Harbour Cruise*
  • Empire State Building & Sky Ride*
  • Intrepid Sea Sir Space Museum*
  • Museum of Modern Art*
  • Statue of Liberty
  • Central Park
  • Central Park Zoo
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Broadway
  • Greenwich Village
  • Long Island & The Hamptons
  • Wall Street
  • Times Square
  • Ellis Island
  • Coney Island
  • The Brooklyn Bridge
  • Yankes Stadium
  • Chinatown
  • Ground Zero (site of the new Freedom Tower construction)
  • Rockefeller Centre
  • Chrysler Building
  • New York Aquarium
  • Wildlife Centre

Shopping

Prepare for some serious plastic bashing. New York is a shopping paradise, the toughest choice you will have is where to start. The best shopping area has to be 5th Avenue between 59th Street and 42nd Street. Here you will find all the big national chain stores and best known department stores.

Other notable areas are Madison Avenue (Designer wear), Soho (galleries and boutiques), Greenwich Village and Upper East Side between 57th and 96th Street (exclusive designer clothes and antiques).

When it comes to malls and department stores things are done on a huge scale. 6th Avenue and 33rd Street is home to New York’s main shopping mall, Manhattan Mall. You can lose yourself here in over 80 stores within the mall’s 9 floors.

The largest department store in the world, Macy’s covers an entire block and 10 floors and sells just about anything you can imagine (Herald Square at 34th Street and Broadway). You can then move onto Bloomingdale’s (1000 3rd Avenue at 59th Street) for designer clothes and gourmet foods and Saks Fifth Avenue (611 5th Avenue at 49th Street) for luxury fashion.

If your budget won’t stretch that far then an hours drive north will bring you to Woodbury Premium Outlets which houses 220 stores where you’ll find designer names at more affordable prices.

There are also several markets in New York. Two worth a mention are the Green Markets which is like a farmer’s market selling anything from goat’s cheese to organic bread. These can be found at Union Square (Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday) and Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn (Saturday). The other is The Annex, a popular weekend market that sells antiques, toys, jewellery and clothing (39th Street between 9th and 10th Avenue).

 

Food & Drink

You will never go hungry in New York. It has more restaurants per square mile than any other city in the world. Not only that, but practically every global cuisine is represented. How about that for choice!

It is impossible to name every restaurant here, but below is a selection of some of the best to whet your appetite.

  • Empire Diner (210 10th Avenue)
  • Tom’s Restaurant (2880 Broadway at 112th Street)
  • Planet Hollywood (1540 Broadway 45th Street)
  • Peter Luger Steakhouse (178 Broadway, Brooklyn)
  • Hard Rock Café New York (1501 Broadway)
  • Union Square Café (21 East 16th Street)
  • The River Café (1 Water Street, Brooklyn)
  • Molyvos (871 7th Avenue)
  • John’s Pizzeria (278 Bleecker Street)
  • Carmine’s Midtown (200 West 44th Street)
  • Osteria del Circo (120 West 55th Street)
  • Guantanamera (939 Eight Avenue)
  • Shun Lee Palace (155 East 55th Street)
  • Blue Water Grill (31 Union Square)
  • Daniel (60 East 65th Street)
  • Le Cirque (151 East 58th Street)
  • Home (20 Cornelia Street)
  • Tribeca Grill (375 Greenwich Street)
  • Delmonico’s (56 Beaver Street)
  • Balthazar (80 Spring Street, Soho)

As with the restaurants, New York also has a multitude of bars. In fact there are bars on every street you walk along. Every nationality is catered for so if you are absolutely desperate for a bit of home, you’re sure to find an English pub somewhere. To list every bar in New York would be impossible so below is a small selection of some of the best.

  • Peter McManus (152 7th Avenue)
  • Landmark Tavern (626 11th Avenue)
  • Max Fish (178 Ludlow Street)
  • White Horse Tavern (567 Hudson Street)
  • Peculier Pub (145 Bleecher Street)

Entertainment

New York is the city that never sleeps and the number of clubs and bars qualify this. The city can offer everything you could possibly want.

Music

There are numerous venues in the city renowned for their music concerts and performances, below are just a few of them.

  • Lincoln Centre (Broadway)
  • Carnegie Hall (West 57th Street)
  • Brooklyn Academy of Music (30 Lafayette Street)
  • Blue Note (131 West 3rd Street)
  • Village Vanguard (178 7th Avenue at Greenwich Street)
  • Madison Square Gardens (31st – 33rd Street)
  • Radio City Music Hall (6th Avenue & 50th Street)

It goes without saying that with Broadway there are numerous opportunities to catch a show (ask you hotel for details of what’s on where). Likewise with cinemas, they are dotted throughout the city so it won’t be too difficult to find somewhere to catch the latest Hollywood blockbuster. If you enjoy opera then you need to head for either the New York City Opera or the Metropolitan Opera.

 

Sport

  • Baseball – Yankee Stadium (The Yankees) & Shea Stadium, Queens (The Mets)
  • Basketball – Madison Square Gardens (New York Nicks)
  • American Football – Meadowlands Sports Complex, New Jersey (The Giants & The jets)

 

Nightclubs

New York is full of clubs. To make sure you find the right kind of place for you, check the local listings (ask your hotel for details). Below are just a few of the popular clubs you might like to try.

  • The Canal Room (285 West Broadway)
  • The Pyramid Club (101 Avenue A)
  • Webster Hall (125 East 11th Street)
  • Sapphire Lounge (249 Eldridge)
  • XL Lounge (375 West 16th Street)
  • Cielo (18 Little West 12th Street)

There are also several events that take place throughout the year.

  • March – New York Fashion Week
  • August – US Open
  • November – NYC Marathon
  • December/January – New Year in Time Square

 

Excursions

When you’ve had enough of the city life you may want to look further afield. Your hotel will be able to provide you with details of excursions and local tour companies, but here are a few suggestions to get you started.

  • Atlantic City
  • Philadelphia
  • The Catskill Mountains
  • New York Islands
  • Washington DC
  • Coney Island
  • Long Island & The Hamptons

 

Health & Safety

The tap water is perfectly safe in New York. Medical facilities are excellent and consequently come with a high price tag. There is no NHS so you have to pay for all your treatment therefore it is essential that you have medical insurance in place before travelling.

New York has gone a long way to clean up its image when it comes to crime. Central Park and the subway are much safer than they were in the 80s. You can check with your hotel concierge for any no-go areas of the city.

You should exercise the usual precautions with your valuables especially when out in crowded areas.

 

ACCEPT COOKIESTo give you the best possible experience, this site uses cookies. Using this site means you agree to our use of cookies. We have published a cookies policy, which you should read to find out more about the cookies we use. View cookies policy.