Los Angeles Vacation Travel Guide | Expedia

Los Angeles is situated in Southern California, on the West Coast of the USA. Home to 18 million people, Los Angeles is a collection of distinct cities that rolls out from the dry Santa Monica Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. L.A.’s sunshine, her entertainment industry and her openness to newcomers and new ideas has made the city a magnet to dreamers. Many of those whose dreams become reality, like Walt Disney and John Paul Getty, poured their wealth back into the city, helping make L.A. one of the great culture capitals of the world. Downtown Los Angeles is a center of global business and home to some of the finest examples of American civic architecture. It’s also the birthplace of the city. Wander down Olvera Street, one of the oldest surviving areas in L.A., to experience the colors and tastes of Old Mexico.


Just across the road from Olvera Street is Union Station, one of the world’s great railway stations. You’ll be forgiven if you experience a sense of déjà vu here; Union Station has been featured in almost 30 big-budget movies, including Pearl Harbor and Blade Runner. Stroll south to Little Tokyo, or J-Town as the locals know it, which is home to Buddhist temples, galleries and museums. While you’re there, why not try some super-fresh sushi? After all, the California Roll was invented right here! Half a mile to the west is the Walt Disney Music Hall. Looking like pieces of sheet music thrown to the wind, this stainless steel wonder is home to L.A.’s Philharmonic Orchestra. Hail a taxi for the short ride west to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The one-hundred-thousand-piece collection at LACMA houses works that span the ages, from the classical periods through the edgiest street art. Right next door is a very different kind of gallery.

At the La Brea Tar Pits and George C. Page Museum, remains of incredibly preserved mammals, insects and plants are continually excavated and brought once more into the Californian sunshine. Heading further west, along Wilshire Boulevard, the aroma changes from the smell of tar pits, to $ mon-neeey $ Welcome to Rodeo Drive, in the heart of Beverly Hills. This is the world’s most expensive and exclusive three blocks of shopping. But you don’t have to be a star to enjoy Rodeo Drive; most folks are content to window shop. But there’s more to Beverly Hills than just bling! Only a street or two away awaits a world of leafy boulevards and incredible homes and gardens. Head north to Hollywood, the epicenter of the world’s entertainment industry. Track down your favorite star on the historic Hollywood Walk of Fame, and catch a movie at Grauman’s Chinese Theater, the most famous first-run movie theater in the world. Take a walk on the wilder side of L.A., to West Hollywood. WeHo is a haven for artists and designers. As evening falls, boogie on down to Sunset Strip, home to iconic clubs such as The Viper Room and the Whiskey a Go Go.

♪ Boogie On Down ♪ Griffith Park is the largest and wildest urban park in America. Here, perched high on the slopes of Mount Hollywood, and offering superb views of L.A., you’ll find the Griffith Observatory. Built on land donated by mining magnate Griffith J. Griffith, admission to the main building and grounds is still free of charge, according to his wishes. Universal Studios is the oldest continually running movie studio in America. It features a theme park based around its blockbuster movies and popular TV shows, however the star attraction is the studio tour, which winds its way through acres of sound stages and back lots. And if you have that sense of déjà vu again, it’s no wonder – some of the sets have been featured in dozens of movies and are still in use today. 20 miles southeast of downtown is Knott’s Berry Farm. Originally a berry farm in the 1930’s, this theme park has grown into a family favorite with child-friendly rides, short queues and offers a real taste of America’s pioneering heritage.

Just down the road, in Anaheim, is Disneyland Park. Since its opening in 1955 over 600 million guests have delighted in seeing Disney’s much-loved characters brought to life. The Port of Los Angeles, the biggest container port in the USA, sits on San Pedro Bay. Climb aboard the USS Iowa, a World War II battleship which saw service in some of the most dramatic episodes in world history. Nearby at the Aquarium of the Pacific, 500 marine species sway, swirl and dive through the various marine systems of the vast Pacific, from the sun-drenched coast of Baja to the frigid waters of the Arctic. Long Beach was once the birthplace of California’s surfing scene, but a breakwater has now tamed the wild waves, making the beach an ideal destination for families.  From Long Beach, hop aboard a ferry, and take a one-hour trip to Catalina Island. Once the home of otter hunters, smugglers and gold prospectors, these days day-trippers and weekenders are far more interested in working on their golden tans and escaping the frantic pace of the mainland. Heading west from L.A., Santa Monica is one of the most popular resort towns in the US.

Santa Monica epitomizes the California lifestyle of sun, sand and the body beautiful! And right at her heart is her iconic pier. Things get a little funkier just down the coast at Venice Beach. Long the center of L.A.’s counterculture, Venice is more than just a beach, however. The main attraction here is the promenade. So pull on your in-line skates and join the colorful and sometimes bizarre human parade. After the craziness of Venice Beach, head 5 miles north to the tranquility of the Santa Monica Mountains. The Getty Center houses the extraordinary art collection of billionaire John Paul Getty.

Water features prominently throughout the complex, encouraging quiet reflection. Hire a convertible and follow the scenic Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu; 21 miles of prime Californian coastline scented with salt and coastal sage. Many of L.A.’s stars live in homes that cling to these dramatic hillsides by the Pacific,  which is the perfect metaphor for L.A.. A city built on an unshakable optimism and a devotion to creation – both human and natural. Welcome to the City of Angels� .

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Chicago Vacation Travel Guide | Expedia

Chicago is situated in the Great Lakes region of the American Midwest, in the state of Illinois. Rising from the edges of Lake Michigan, Chicago began as a tiny trading post at the mouth of the Chicago River, and has boomed into a modern global center of commerce and culture. The Windy City has always been driven by an unshakable optimism and can-do attitude. The Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which destroyed half the city, was seized upon as an opportunity for the metropolis to reinvent itself. What followed was the biggest building boom in US history and a skyline that is almost beyond beautiful. Start your visit in The Loop – the central business district encircled by the ‘L’, Chicago’s elevated train line. The streets within The Loop are a showcase of architecture, from the world’s first high-rises, to the cloud-piercing towers of today. Willis Tower held the title of world’s tallest building for almost 25 years.

Take the 60-second ride to the Skydeck. On a really windy day you might even feel the building sway a little, but don’t panic, it was designed to do just that. The Loop also contains some amazing outdoor sculpture and an historic theater district which makes the area feel like a cross between a museum and a film set. Running north from The Loop is the Magnificent Mile, where you’ll be able to gaze up at even more wonders from the Chicago School of architecture. Looking a little out of place is the Old Water Tower, a lone, but much-loved survivor from the Chicago Fire. Shop ’til you drop in the upscale boutiques which line The Magnificent Mile’s wide boulevards.

And when it’s time to refuel, sink your teeth into a deep dish pizza – an old Chicago favorite. Following the south bank of the Chicago River and winding between the canyons of glass and steel, The Riverwalk offers a relaxing change of pace from the downtown bustle. Still within The Loop is Millennium Park. Once the site of railway yards and car parks, the area has been transformed into what critics have hailed as ‘the future of parks’.

The centerpieces of this visionary space are the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion and the BP Footbridge. The park showcases a number of public sculptures, including a futuristic stainless steel archway to the city, Cloud Gate, or as it’s affectionately known to locals – ‘The Bean’. Just across the road is The Art Institute of Chicago whose exterior is a work of art in itself. Set aside at least a day to explore this treasure-house of European, American and Asian masterpieces. There are plenty of treasures to be found outside The Loop. Just to the west is one of Chicago’s hidden gems, the Garfield Park Conservatory, an inner-city haven for nature lovers and a first-date favorite for Chicago couples. In nearby Oak Park, step inside Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio, where for 20 years he pioneered an entirely new architectural vision for America.

Unity Temple is just a short stroll away. Completed in 1908, this Lloyd Wright masterpiece is widely regarded as the world’s first modern building. While you’re in Oak Park, stop by the birthplace of one of Chicago’s most famous sons, Ernest Hemingway. In the nearby museum, fans of the novelist can read from his childhood diary and original manuscripts. Down by The Loop’s waterfront, the historic Navy Pier offers entertainment for all ages. The pier is also the place to climb aboard one of the many lake and river cruises on offer. Just south of Navy Pier, The Field Museum houses over 20 million specimens from the world of natural history. Say hello to Sue, the largest and most intact skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex ever unearthed. The museum might look a little familiar, after all, it was the home base for Indiana Jones in the blockbuster movie series. A little further south along the waterfront you’ll find the Museum of Science and Industry – known by generations of school children as ‘the best field trip ever!’. Here you’ll get to explore the inner workings of man and machine, and discover the secrets of natural phenomena like tornadoes, lightning and avalanches.

Chicago’s largest green space is Lincoln Park, a seven mile stretch of shoreline which runs north from The Loop. It’s home to nature reserves, a conservatory, and monuments to many of the nation’s heroes, including the park’s namesake – Abraham Lincoln. The park also features the Lincoln Park Zoo which has been entertaining and educating visitors since 1868. The zoo features two sections specifically designed for children, and best of all it’s free. The park is also home to the Chicago History Museum. From gangsters to baseball, this is the place to visit if you really want to know what makes this unique city tick.

As the sun sets, Chicago truly lights up. But don’t plan on going to bed early, the city offers some of the best jazz, blues and theater in America. So come on over to Chicago, the memories you’ll take away will last a lifetime – no matter how hard the wind blows. .

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Denver Vacation Travel Guide | Expedia

Rising from the western edge of America’s High Plains, and shadowed by the Rocky Mountains, is Colorado’s capital, Denver. The city sprang up in 1858, right were the first flakes of gold in the state were discovered. As it turned out, there wasn’t that much gold around Denver, the real riches lay up in the mountains, but ever since, The Mile High City has continued to grow, thanks partly to its incredible weather. Denver is blessed with over 300 days of sunshine per year; that’s more than Miami! Just an easy walk or bus ride from Denver’s modern downtown is the Golden Triangle, an area filled with grand civic architecture, museums and public art.

Climb the stairs to the Capitol Building, where at the 13th step, you’ll be exactly one mile above sea level. Spend some time in the Denver Art Museum, which celebrates the region’s landscapes and peoples. The museum houses 18 000 Native American treasures, making it one of the most important First Nations’ collections in the country. Not far from the Golden Triangle is the Children’s Museum of Denver, where little adventurers can discover the world of kinetics, explore nature, and climb aboard a big ol’ firetruck. There are plenty of other natural wonders to explore, at the Denver Botanic Gardens, and Butterfly Pavilion. Denverites have always enjoyed the great outdoors, and believe their animal friends should too. Denver Zoo pioneered the use of natural habitats, so its guests can feel right at home, whatever the weather. Uncover the region’s prehistoric past at the Denver Museum of Science and Nature.

But to really walk in the footsteps of giants, hit the Triceratops Trail at Dinosaur Ridge. Here, on Denver’s western outskirts you’ll find the Morrison Fossil Area, one of the most extensive dinosaur track and fossil sites in the world. Just up the road is the historic mining town of Golden. Mosey on into the Buffalo Bill Museum on Lookout Mountain, dedicated to the life and times of America’s greatest Wild West showman.

Just outside, his final resting place sits high on a ridge where the winds whistle through the Ponderosa Pines. Down the hill at the Clear Creek History Park, peer into the lives of the pioneers who carved out a life in shadows and snowdrifts of the Great Divide. Golden is also home to the Colorado Railroad Museum which lovingly maintains the locomotives, cars and cabooses that once traversed the region’s High Plains and mountain passes. For many in these parts, the mountains become an obsession. Golden’s Mountaineering Museum is dedicated to the technology and spirit of those who answer the call of those lofty peaks. Denverites can’t seem to get enough of the great outdoors. While you’re in the Golden area, call into to one of the world’s most beautiful natural amphitheaters, Red Rocks.

Go for a run with locals, or time your visit to take in a show. Many of the worlds great artists, from the Beatles to U2 have performed here under the blood red rocks. If all that sightseeing and history builds up a thirst, you’re in luck. The area around Denver is known as the Beer Triangle. Take a tour of the Coors Brewery, before exploring the regions dozens of brewpubs and microbreweries.

Denver is surrounded by places of incredible beauty. Just over an hours drive south are the ancient sandstone formations that have been attracting travelers and dreamers for thousands of years the Garden of the Gods. Nearby, is the pretty town of Manitou Springs. From here you can hike, catch the cog railway, or drive to Pikes Peak ~ weather permitting! This is where Colorado’s real high country begins. Try your hand at prospecting, keep an eye out for the legendary Bigfoot, or just soak up the views from 14 000 feet. When the sun starts to drop, it’s time to head back to Denver. Warm up by the fire, then make tracks to the Buckhorn Exchange, a Denver institution spanning three centuries. Order up a rattlesnake dip, an alligator tail, or an elk steak. But don’t miss the house specialty, Rocky Mountain Oysters, mmmmmm…. The Rockies loom large over Denver, turn any street corner and there they are.

Maybe that’s why folks here are so relaxed; living this close to nature’s majesty has a knack of keeping things in perspective. So, if you’ve got a hankering for best of big city comforts and clear mountain air ~ there’s a warm, wild, welcome, waiting for you, in Denver. .

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Seattle Vacation Travel Guide | Expedia

Seattle is about 100 miles south of the Canadian border on the West Coast of the United States. It is a lush, evergreen city lying between Puget Sound and Lake Washington with abundant parklands, and surrounded by towering mountains and forests. Widely known for its overcast weather, when the sun does come out, the spectacular beauty of the waterways, forests and distant mountains combine to make Seattle one of the most stunning cities in the US. Classic architecture, leafy public squares and wide breezy streets make exploring Downtown Seattle a fun experience. For great views of the city visit the observation deck on the 35th floor of Smith Tower, or see some of Seattle’s oldest buildings in nearby Pioneer Square. A distinctive feature of Downtown is the Seattle Waterfront, which is famous for eateries and seafood restaurants, as well as being a launching point for pleasure craft cruising the Sound. Ferries depart regularly so jump aboard to get a unique view of the city.

Container ships and cruise liners also share these waterways and the busy harbor is a constant reminder of Seattle’s maritime heritage. Alki Beach in West Seattle is a great spot to enjoy the warmer weather. On sunny days many locals enjoy the miles of shorefront beaches, relaxed parklands, and spectacular views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. Back in Downtown it’s just a short but steep climb from the Waterfront to the lively Pike Place Market. Here you can sample some of the freshest catches from the waters of the Pacific Northwest, and also chat to local producers who harvest and sell the goods on display. The market has many bars and eateries, stalls and souvenir shops as well as America’s first Starbucks store. Wherever you go in Seattle you’re never far from the water. Puget Sound is to the west, Lake Washington is to the east, and to the north is Lake Union, whose eye-catching floating homes were made famous in the movie ‘Sleepless in Seattle.’ Further to the north, the popular Woodland Park Zoo is home to more than a thousand animals and birds in habitats ranging from the African savanna to tropical forests.

Located at Boeing Field, about 15 minutes’ drive from downtown, is the Seattle Museum of Flight. This amazing museum displays air- and spacecraft from the earliest Wright Brothers flyer to modern jets. For the most famous views of Seattle head over to Kerry Park on the south side of Queen Anne Hill. The park is not far from the Seattle Center so it’s the perfect spot to see the famous Space Needle in all its glory, especially when the sun goes down. The city has been home to many world-famous bands and there’s no shortage of live music in Seattle, as well as bars and nightclubs partying well into the early hours.

The Seattle Center is home to the Pacific Science Center and the popular International Fountain, as well as Seattle’s most recognized landmark, the Space Needle. From the 520-foot-high observation deck you’ll have superb views of the city and if the weather is clear you can see all the way out to Mount Rainier. On a clear day the snow-covered peak dominates the Seattle skyline and it can be seen from all parts of the city. The Mount Rainier National Park has hundreds of miles of hiking trails that lead through a variety of different landscapes. The ancient Grove of Patriarchs is home to giants up to 1000 years old and the raised boardwalk makes it one of the easiest walks in the park. If you don’t feel like walking there are several scenic drives, including one that encircles the mountain itself.

Mount Rainier is not the only natural wonder close by, and Olympic National Park is just a few hours’ drive west of the city. Here, the hauntingly beautiful Hoh Rainforest is like entering another world where moss and lichens grow on every surface. Further to the west, Ruby Beach is possibly Washington State’s most scenic beach, with rocky sea stacks just off the coast and a shore strewn with driftwood. One of North America’s most beautiful cities, Seattle has a perpetually optimistic outlook. Whether you’re exploring the countryside or in the heart of downtown, what makes Seattle so special is the incredible variety of experiences you’ll find in the Emerald City� .

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London Vacation Travel Guide | Expedia

London is situated in the South-East of England in the Thames Valley. Home to over 8 million people, the capital of the UK has been an important financial, educational and cultural center for hundreds of years. Of the many gifts England has given to the world, none has been greater than her language and literature. And if ever there’s a city that reads like an epic saga, it’s London. The story of London began in the Bronze Age, but it didn’t really get going until the Romans withdrew in the 5th century.

Growing into one of the great medieval trading cities, she truly came of age in the 11th century, when William the Conqueror built the Tower of London, which was to become one of England’s grimmest prisons. London is very easy to navigate around, and is compact enough to explore on foot. This world city is filled with iconic symbols, and one of the most easily recognizable is Tower Bridge, an impressive reminder of London’s rapid expansion during the industrial revolution. Just upriver, at the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben’s reassuring chimes peal across the city every hour, on the hour. Buckingham Palace, perhaps the most famous palace in the world, is the official residence of Queen Elizabeth. It’s a popular London attraction, offering tours of staterooms and gardens. Nearby, Kensington Palace is open to the public year-round. The palace and gardens will be remembered as the home of Princess Di and Prince Charles, and have recently undergone a multimillion-pound refurbishment.

Another legacy of England’s monarchy are the Royal Parks of London. They were once reserved as private hunting grounds for the royal family, but nowadays they’re open for everyone to enjoy. There are eight Royal Parks, and many of them are in central London, and close to royal palaces and other historic monuments. Green Park and St. James’s Park are right next to Buckingham Palace, Admiralty Arch and The Mall. Hyde Park is perhaps the most famous with its man-made lake, The Serpentine, and on the other side, Kensington Gardens is a beautiful open expanse that stretches east towards Kensington Palace.

The Albert Memorial is at the southern end of Kensington Gardens, and the striking bronze statue looks towards the Royal Albert Hall just across the road. The hall is yet another reminder of Queen Victoria’s great love for her husband, Prince Albert. Many of London’s greatest stories have begun in her houses of worship, and none is so impressive and important as Westminster Abbey. This is where kings and queens have been crowned, married and even buried. London was rebuilt after The Great Fire in 1666, and St. Paul’s Cathedral is the most enduring monument to the city’s transformation. It’s a great testament to British strength and resilience. The West End in central London is a story in itself. Here the streets are lined with ancient buildings, but the throngs of people are out to have fun. By day, the charming boutiques and cafés hum with shoppers, and by night the bars along Carnaby Street are packed with patrons enjoying pre-show drinks. This is one of the largest theater districts in the world.

And at times it can feel like you’re on a Monopoly board, with Coventry Street, Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus all close by. Moving away from the historic center, London’s trendy suburbs offer a different kind of story. The Portobello Road Markets in Notting Hill attract thousands of visitors, especially to the antiques markets that’s held on Saturdays, while the edgier Camden Town features six popular markets that are open every day of the week, and operate along her streets, the canal, and in her historic stables. London is a city that honors not only her own story, but also the story of humankind. The British Museum is one of the finest in the world, and her treasures cover thousands of years of history and number in the millions.

The museum is open every day, and best of all, it’s free. From the ancient to the modern, The London Eye offers a complete change of pace and perspective. The massive wheel is over 400 feet high, and takes 30 minutes to complete one rotation. From here you can see the London of old, as well as some of the city’s newest additions, all in air-conditioned comfort. London will always be a city that looks towards the past and the future in equal measure. From ‘Rule Britannia’ to ‘Cool Britannia’, the fabric and the skyline of this city is forever turning over a new page.

Which is, after all, what every great story should do. .

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