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East coast road trip - looking for advice and ideas

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Hi. I'm new to this site, so please don't bash me like another member did in my first post, if I should make a mistake. :-)

Whew, now with that out of the way ...

I have a fairly open schedule with open travel arrangements and am considering taking an east coast road trip with my 12 and 14 year old sons. I think we'll likely take ten days, including one to fly in from the west coast.

My husband works for the airlines, so we fly standby. My FIL lives just outside Boston, so we'll definitely go there. Both of my boys want to go to Florida (the youngest to go to Harry Potter World - yep, we know it's crowded ... the oldest "just to see Florida" - I'm betting he's hoping for alligators), and we all love New York.
I would like to see Washington DC, but we have a bigger trip planned for that in the future, so we'll just go see the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Memorial and check out the sights - anything else while in DC that is a must for a short visit?

We would like to go to the beach for a day, but don't need oceanfront accommodations.

I know there is Amtrak as one option, and that may be what we end up doing, but I would like to be even more free with our time, so I'm planning on a car rental.

Considering all of that (or disregarding it completely ;-) what would you do if this were your trip?

Thanks for whatever constructive advice you have! ;-)

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