North American 2018 Holiday ideas

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North American 2018 Holiday ideas

#1  Postby jamest » Feb 23, 2018 9:23 pm

We go (fingers crossed) in about 5 months so I'm starting my research. Lots of useful info via google of course but you cannot beat the advice of residents and/or experienced travellers on a more intimate level such as this, so hopefully I'll gain many helpful insights. So...

First stop Toronto. Staying for 3 nights/days. One of those days is allocated to visiting Niagara of course, though I'm not sure how long that tour will take. That still leaves 2+ days/evenings to explore Toronto. If you didn't read my other thread then note that we are a family of four with two girls aged 11 and 16. I won't have a car at this point so useful tips are also required for travelling around by public transport.

I've already done a bit of research myself. I can't decide whether to get the Toronto Pass? Seems like days out in Canada are no cheaper than here! Personally, I'd rather spend my limited time there getting to know the culture/mindset of Canadians as opposed to walking around Ripley's aquarium, so any ideas are welcome.

I'll be looking for advice/tips for several different cities along the Eastern side, not least Disney/Orlando. I'd rather do it one place at a time if you don't mind, otherwise my observed brain will melt.

Many thanks in advance for any assistance.
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Re: North American 2018 Holiday ideas

#2  Postby jamest » Feb 23, 2018 10:04 pm

It's occurred to me that not many members here will have intimate knowledge of Toronto, so I'll include my requests in the OP for New York, my 2nd stop.
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Re: North American 2018 Holiday ideas

#3  Postby The_Piper » Feb 23, 2018 10:18 pm

Eat pizza in NYC. There are endless good places, some not so good. Original Rays is good. Rays too I hear. :teef: You could also take a whizz on Trump Tower. Tell them you're sorry, public urination is a time-honored English tradition and you didn't know.
I thought you were going to be asking for ideas to make up new holidays in North America. I was all set to propose amending Groundhog's Day a little. :nono:
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Re: North American 2018 Holiday ideas

#4  Postby Macdoc » Feb 23, 2018 10:49 pm

Toronto is not that public transit friendly. This city is the third largest megalopolis in North America behind NY City and LA.
I assume you are doing Niagara by tour bus?

What are your dates again?

CN Tower is worthwhile if the day is nice.
http://www.cntower.ca/intro.html

The ROM is wonderful but might bore the kids.

Casa Loma is marginal.

The Aquarium is a fast visit and really well done.

Ontario Place is newly renovated and perhaps the most immersive iMax on the planet. Worth a casual day.
http://ontarioplace.com/en/home/

This is not a bad list for 3 days. I'd do the Science Centre but poll the family.

Adult C$ 86
Child C$ 58

5898 Reviews CityPASS Admission Includes
1 CN Tower
2 Casa Loma
3 Royal Ontario Museum
4 Ripley's Aquarium of Canada
5 Toronto Zoo OR Ontario Science Centre

Read more at https://www.citypass.com/toronto#wQ0TDjJ0Ee3AmQzM.99

Toronto is representative of a massive multi-cultural city ...not so much of Canadian culture ( other than being a mosaic ).
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Re: North American 2018 Holiday ideas

#5  Postby jamest » Feb 23, 2018 11:20 pm

Thank you both, already. I don't want anyone thinking that I'm not reading this thread regularly and absorbing it all. I'm spending a lot of money this summer over there, so I want to get this right. Rest assured that I've got my popcorn in-hand, sat on my seat.

Me and the missus have already decided that since we're doing 10 days in Orlando that our primary concern for the first 2/3rds of the holiday should be culture (primarily) and history. Although, with history, we don't want to spend a hundred bucks visiting a museum unless it's a must-see and totally different to anything I'll find in London/etc..

I'm glad Piper mentioned Pizza, cuz food and drink is a big part of that culture thing. Evening entertainment, also. Theatre, cinema, sports events (wrong time of year for that?).

We're going to North America essentially to find things we don't get in the UK. The bible belt, Amish, Hillbillies, Canadian/US history - basically to embrace a different mindset into our own way of thinking. Also, special scenery of course.

Although I've bitten the bullet and am allowing the girls to enjoy Disney for about 10 days, I don't want the other 20 days of my holiday to be like that. Neither does my missus. So, basically, offbeat America. That's what I want to hear about, as much as anything.
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Re: North American 2018 Holiday ideas

#6  Postby The_Piper » Feb 24, 2018 2:21 am

There are other members who know New York better than I.
But the NYC pizza would be nice to get right. I've had between good to incredible pizza almost every time I've ordered it in Manhattan, so your odds are good either way. I don't have huge plans when I go to NYC, just to be in one of the bigger cities on Earth.
I recommend getting a map of the subway system before you go. It's pretty confusing to me still.
The Empire State building was kinda cool. The American Museum of Natural History is good. Maybe you would bump into Neil DeGrasse-Tyson at the planetarium. :lol: Central Park is really cool, it's huge. The Bronx zoo is huge. New York is huge, geographically. The Brooklyn Bridge is cool, it's huge too. Famous Times Square of course, and Grand Central Station. The library. The World Trade Center area is quite built up. The 9/11 memorial is emotionally overwhelming, to me. I went to the Seinfeld coffee shop and other sites from the show in the upper west side. I liked it up there too.
The Staten Island ferry is free and supposedly has good views of the statue of liberty. I'm thinking of taking that this year, then bicycling the Staten Island coast and visiting the zoo for Staten Island chuck. :mrgreen:
For a family maybe you'd be better off going to the statue itself, I don't know if Staten Island is too exciting. I've never been there. I expect the views of Manhattan to be good from there though.

You mentioned sports, there's baseball in the summer, the former national pastime. I went to the old Yankee Stadium in NYC, but now they have a new one which is a lot different. Back in the day you could get beat up at a baseball game. :lol: It's changed a lot since then. Stadiums are big on security now, and it's more "commercialized". Which is a good thing for families. Every time going to Fenway as a kid was a learning experience not just about baseball, but more about drunk people and con men. :lol: It smelled of urine. All that's for another thread though, somewhere. Seeing a game in Baltimore is easy and a nice stadium, but I went before the police protests a couple years ago. It might be a little sketchy at night.
You could always go to Boston instead, eat great pizza, go to a baseball game, and check out MIT and Harvard or something, all in the same afternoon. Then it's about 4 hours to NYC by car from there. From Niagara Falls you'd take I-90 straight and it ends up in downtown Boston. Don't drive to Boston during rush hour. Boston is a fun and scenic city. Downtown is walk-able, and it's probably the safest big northeastern city. Downtown is only a street corner compared to Manhattan though, it's much smaller. You'd pass through all of scenic New York state west to east, the small state capital Albany, and the Berkshire mountains along the way, more wonderful scenery imo. That would take you out of the way of Florida, of course (and right though Florida, Massachusetts). Just food for thought. Italian food. :dopey:
I've never been to Florida so I can't help with that. Are you planning on seeing anything else on the east coast besides NYC?
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Re: North American 2018 Holiday ideas

#7  Postby Macdoc » Feb 24, 2018 7:25 am

The bible belt, Amish, Hillbillies, Canadian/US history - basically to embrace a different mindset into our own way of thinking.


Hard without a car in Canada ...the Amish are well established in St. Jacobs Ont and that would be a worthwhile daytrip

https://stjacobs.com

Here is a day trip by bus
http://www.shorttrips.ca/st-jacobs-day- ... ur-vm.html

Of course Lancaster County in Pennsylvania is an even larger Amish community. Love the food , people look healthy - nice to see strong young men in their 20s striding along a country road or pitching hay.

That plus your Niagara trip and a bit of Toronto would use up your 3 days.

For the US ..IMNSHO seeing the Smithsonian Museums in Washington is simply mandatory.
https://500px.com/macdoc/galleries/smit ... -aerospace

The Ester Hazy Smithsonian near the airport in Washington is mind bending ...the Enola Gay is there, a Concorde, a Space Shuttle, the SR-71 Blackbird, space suits from the trips to the moon...with moon dust still clinging ...

And the downtown museum has The Spirit if St Louis ..Lindey's plane, original Wright Flyers, the Mercury space capsule
on and on like nothing you can see anywhere else on the planet.

There are several Smithsonians, American Culture is one , one we want see ( it was not open yet ) is Native American Culture.
https://www.si.edu

And they are all free and all beyond world class...we were in the American Culture museum and out of the blue this girl strides through the hall with a placard and a gorgeous voice recreating a scene from the Civil Rights era

Washington is a must do...Smithsonian in particular.

Since you do have a car I think - The Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive are spectacular.

https://www.nps.gov/blri/index.htm

Not sure how you could work it in but the Corning Glass Museum is a lovely half day.
A history of glass making on dispplay ,,,the Corning factory is over 100 years old and still active,
Just stunning visuals and a top notch eatery that surprised us for very little spent.
https://500px.com/macdoc/galleries/corning-glass

Letchworth State Park is not that far way - a fav day trip or part of a longer trip ...amazing dining ...a real throwbck to early luxury and a gorgeous setting.
Very busy tho - you would have to book dining.

The historic, completely restored Glen Iris Inn offers overnight accommodations and is open to the public for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Banquet and catering services are available for your special events.

In 2015, Letchworth won the USA TODAY Readers' Choice Award for Best State Park in the United States! Letchworth came out on top of the 19 other state parks nominated for the contest, chosen from more than 6,000 parks across the nation.


https://parks.ny.gov/parks/79/details.aspx

It'a day trip from Toronto but hard to fit your schedule I think since you are going by train. It and Corning would have been a natural road trip including Niagara Falls on the way down to Washington through some spectacular scenery.

.....

Florida NASA is a must see and you'll enjoy the Epcott Centre and Disney World,
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Re: North American 2018 Holiday ideas

#8  Postby Crocodile Gandhi » Feb 24, 2018 2:06 pm

Any plans to go to Washington DC? The Smithsonian is enough to keep you busy for as long as you want to and the National Zoo in DC has the added benefit of being completely free
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Re: North American 2018 Holiday ideas

#9  Postby BlackBart » Feb 24, 2018 3:12 pm

Mrs. B and are off to NYC this year. If anyone knows of a good breakfast joint in the Midtown area let me know.
Preferably stereotypically New Yorky and unhealthy :dopey:
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Re: North American 2018 Holiday ideas

#10  Postby jamest » Feb 24, 2018 3:24 pm

Okay, this is the route and these are the cities I will be staying in:

Toronto; New York; Philadelphia (where I then have a car for the remaining time); Washington DC; Norfolk va; Raleigh nc; Charlotte nc; Charleston sc; Hilton Head near Savannah sc; Jacksonville fl; Orlando fl.

In the cities between Washington and Orlando I'll only be staying for one or two nights.
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Re: North American 2018 Holiday ideas

#11  Postby jamest » Feb 24, 2018 3:28 pm

Crocodile Gandhi wrote:Any plans to go to Washington DC? The Smithsonian is enough to keep you busy for as long as you want to and the National Zoo in DC has the added benefit of being completely free

Free is good, so thanks for that!
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Re: North American 2018 Holiday ideas

#12  Postby Crocodile Gandhi » Feb 24, 2018 3:32 pm

All of the Smithsonian is good and free. Air and Space museum (a must see), museum of natural history, National Archives (see the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights). And then there's the (relatively) new museum of African American History and Culture which is by all accounts wonderful.
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Re: North American 2018 Holiday ideas

#13  Postby Crocodile Gandhi » Feb 24, 2018 3:33 pm

And the tour of the Capitol building is a must. Despite all of the nonsense that goes on in there, the building itself is a marvel. Book ahead though
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Re: North American 2018 Holiday ideas

#14  Postby laklak » Feb 24, 2018 5:28 pm

So Toronto, NYC, D.C., and Orlando, or are there other cities you'll visit? Charleston and/or Savannah are well worth a couple of days, antebellum South of the finest kind. Worth it for the she-crab soup and shrimp and grits alone.
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Re: North American 2018 Holiday ideas

#15  Postby jamest » Feb 24, 2018 6:20 pm

laklak wrote:So Toronto, NYC, D.C., and Orlando, or are there other cities you'll visit? Charleston and/or Savannah are well worth a couple of days, antebellum South of the finest kind. Worth it for the she-crab soup and shrimp and grits alone.

See post 10. I'm visiting both of those places too.

I don't know what 'grits' are. :oops:
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Re: North American 2018 Holiday ideas

#16  Postby The_Piper » Feb 24, 2018 6:43 pm

Neither do I, and I have relatives in SC. :mrgreen: Charleston is cool, and my dad was born there. They have lizards and stuff. Aligators too I think.
One time I went to the outer banks on the North Carolina coast, which is gorgeous, and saw the birthplace of flight in Kitty Hawk.
Philadelphia is a nice city downtown, and people are friendly compared to Boston and NYC. Eat a Philly cheesesteak. Not nearly as good as a Boston style roast beef sandwich though. :snooty:
If you're coming through Niagara Falls you'll be somewhat close to Weaver's town, which is quite interesting too, especially with him as the tour guide. :mrgreen: I don't know how y'all got along though. :lol:

ETA - Washington DC has a baseball stadium in a cool area near the subway. If you like cheap, I walked up to the window 5 minutes before the game started on Independence day and bought a ticket for $5.
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Re: North American 2018 Holiday ideas

#17  Postby The_Piper » Feb 24, 2018 6:47 pm

BlackBart wrote:Mrs. B and are off to NYC this year. If anyone knows of a good breakfast joint in the Midtown area let me know.
Preferably stereotypically New Yorky and unhealthy :dopey:

I don't do breakfast diners because of eggs. It seems like a "Ratskep NYC" get together could happen this year if the dates match up. I don't want to speak for anyone, but there are a couple of users around there. I usually go late June/July, but have no set plans yet.
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Re: North American 2018 Holiday ideas

#18  Postby laklak » Feb 24, 2018 7:37 pm

Ah, didn't see post 10. That's a good itinerary. Grits are coarsely ground hominy, which is corn soaked in lime water to remove the outer husk. Sort of porridey, similar to polenta. Shrimp and grits is a tradition in the coastal South, usually with cheese grits (just regular grits with cheese added). You'll also find grits in every breakfast place in the South. There are primitives who eat it with milk and sugar, like a hot cereal, but civilized humans put butter, salt and pepper on them.

Shrimp and cheese grits:
shrimp and grits.jpg
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Other Southern delicacies you should try are the afore-mentioned she-crab soup, chicken fried steak, biscuits and sausage gravy, fried okra, collard greens, and black eyed peas. Soul food. Try a local BBQ joint in each state, as the style of BBQ differs from location to location, and is a subject of much spirited debate among the locals.

When you're in Jacksonville find Lubi's Subs, there are a couple of locations, and have the justly Famous Lubi, a spicy ground beef concoction in a steamed hoagie roll.

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Re: North American 2018 Holiday ideas

#19  Postby Macdoc » Feb 25, 2018 12:23 am

The Smithsonian is enough to keep you busy for as long as you want to and the National Zoo in DC has the added benefit of being completely free


Free is good, so thanks for that!


So it's clear ALL the Smithsonians and the Zoo are free,
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Re: North American 2018 Holiday ideas

#20  Postby willhud9 » Feb 25, 2018 1:51 am

Crocodile Gandhi wrote:All of the Smithsonian is good and free. Air and Space museum (a must see), museum of natural history, National Archives (see the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights). And then there's the (relatively) new museum of African American History and Culture which is by all accounts wonderful.


Holocaust Museum is also worth the visit.
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