The United States of America is one of the most diverse holiday destinations in the world, offering a myriad of experiences. However, sometimes too much choice can make deciding upon an itinerary painfully difficult.
Never fear, Flight Centre's expert travel consultants are on hand to provide some ideas for very different US holidays and very different types of travellers. Maybe one will help you plan your next trip.
"I'm visiting LA on a work trip and only have two days to see the city. Any suggestions on what I should do?"
Start day one with a filling breakfast from IHOP and get the main tourist sites like Hollywood Boulevard and the Hollywood sign out of the way early before heading to Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive.
Do some people watching and see some of the sites from your favourite movies. Check out the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall and Chinatown in Downtown LA where most tourists never visit, then try to see a baseball or hockey game, depending on the season. Afterwards head out to The Viper Room or Whiskey a Go Go for some classic LA nightlife.
On your second day, head to the beach. Hire a bicycle and ride from Santa Monica to Venice Beach and back, soaking up some California sunshine.
Spend the afternoon in Santa Monica checking out the shops and cafes and head to the Santa Monica Pier for sunset and some souvenir shopping to finish a great two days in LA.
- Alex Comte, Manager, Flight Centre Galleria, Vic
"I don’t understand tipping in the States. Do I need to tip everyone?"
As I have a US-born and raised hubby I can definitely share my insider knowledge on tipping with you. Some people think it's un-Australian to tip. But my honest opinion is that it's un-Australian NOT to.
Keep in mind that most servers in the USA have a base pay of anywhere from $9 to as low as $2 an hour. Your tips are paying their bills. Therefore, tipping is an essential part of every American trip and something you should and must budget for.
The general rule of thumb is to tip 15-20 per cent. If you're no maths whizz, various apps are available to help you calculate, but most receipts also provide a suggested amount.
Keep in mind this is what's expected, meaning phenomenal service generally merits a higher tip (how much higher is entirely up to you). Conversely, if you receive service you deem lacking, rude or just plain terrible, you are by no means obliged to pay anything. However, in this instance you should ask to speak to a manager to explain why not.
If you're not sure who to tip then keep in mind it's generally those providing you with a service. This means wait staff, concierges, porters, drivers and guides etc.
- Ariel Riley, Travel Consultant, Flight Centre Warragul, Vic
"My husband and I are celebrating our anniversary in New York over New Year's Eve. What are some exciting things you'd suggest we do?"
New York City is one of the most romantic places in the world, so what a great place to spend an anniversary, and especially over the exciting New Year’s Eve period!
Your options in NYC are limitless but the only place to be on NYE is in Times Square to watch the famous ball drop.
I'd also definitely recommend you go ice skating at Central Park or the Rockefeller Center and spend some time exploring Central Park. You can enjoy a romantic horse and carriage ride and dine at the famous Loeb Boathouse restaurant.
- Tabatha Knowles, General Manager, Flight Centre Blacktown, NSW
More USA holiday inspiration
"I'm travelling to the States with some girlfriends on a wine-tasting holiday. Do you have any tips to make the most of our Napa Valley visit?"
When going to Napa Valley, make sure you have a mud bath! The mud baths in Calistoga have a long history – hundreds of years ago the native Wappo Indians used this area as a place of healing.
The various spas use local spring water and mud to create a unique and fun experience, making it the perfect for pit stop after a girls wine-tasting holiday!
- Collette Watson, Consultant, Flight Centre Chapel Hill, Qld
"We're taking the kids on a two-week holiday in the States to visit the Grand Canyon. Is a road trip the best way to see it? What other child-friendly places could we visit along the way?"
A road trip with the kids is definitely a great way to see the Grand Canyon and many more of the USA's highlights. We took our three kids on a similar holiday and also visited Hoover Dam, Death Valley National Park and Yosemite National Park along the way.
We then moved on to San Francisco where we hired bikes and rode around the waterfront, ate hot dogs and took a cable car to the top of the city and back again.
The wharf area and markets were a great hit with the kids, as were all the sea lions just off shore. There were lots of buskers to keep us all entertained too.
The drive back was along Highway 1, through Carmel, Monterey and Santa Barbara ... it so beautiful. We hopped out of the car often to look at the beautiful views.
- Jennie Kennedy, International Travel Consultant, Flight Centre Baulkham Hills, NSW
"I've always wanted to go to Philadelphia but am not sure where to start in planning a holiday. Any tips?"
Dripping with American history, Philly has enough landmarks and tourist spots to satisfy the knowledge-thirsty traveller, a bustling sports scene for those that way inclined and plenty of nightlife for those looking for some late-night fun.
As far as variety of things to do, Philly is hard to beat, which makes it perfect for travellers of any age. If you have a penchant for art, you can’t go wrong with the Rodin Museum (home of The Thinker sculpture) and you should at least visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art to do your best Rocky impression.
To get those historical goosebumps, the Liberty Bell is a sight to behold, and afterwards you can do your best It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphiai mpersonation and hit Mac’s Tavern (one of the oldest in America).
- Ben Lawton, Consultant, Flight Centre Queen Street, Qld