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Long driving trip-where to stay Washington DC, NY, Boston, Chicago areas

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We are going to be a long driving trip starting October 7th from LA to the East coast via Kansas City to Washington DC, up the coast to NY, Boston then over to Chicago, Minneapolis finally over to Seattle. We have most all the west coast & mid-west places scoped out since we know those areas, but I would love some input for the areas listed in my subject line-DC area, NY, Boston, Chicago areas.

I am not necessarily after specific hotel suggestions-just neighborhood advice. Since we will have a car we do not want to stay in downtown areas-but rather adjacent neighborhoods with good commuter access within 15-30 minutes. Hopefully we can stay in areas where we can find free easy parking (either hotel or street). Ideally it would be great to stay in neighborhoods where we can walk to restaurants, coffee shops etc. if we don't want to go to the main "downtown" center versus just staying at a Ramada out by an airport or a sleepy bedroom suburban.

We have friends who live in Alexandria VA so we were thinking that might be good for DC, and friends tell us northern NJ might be good for NYC?

We are a couple in our mid-50's, like good food but it doesn't have to be pricey-so a Greek neighborhood in Chicago would be an example a of the kind of place we would love-or even university areas with good cheap ethnic cuisine etc.

We would really appreciate advice of where to stay from the perspective of locals who love their neighborhood! I promise to help for Seattle LA SF etc. since we have lived up and down the west coast but are babes in the woods back east :)

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