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lukenlea Feb 18th, 2014 10:46 PM

East Coast Road Trip and West Coast Road Trip (Route 1) Suggestions
Hi! My husband and I are from Australia, and are planning a 6 week road trip to the US for late June and July. We are in our early 40s. We are not adventure travellers. Probably more tourists. We like to visit places that have a spirit to them (loooove Europe!). We don't need the hippest or trendiest bars and party scene, but we do appreciate good restaurants, friendly people, and beautiful sites.

So far we have determined that we will do two 3 week road trips on each coast.

We don't want to do a lot of single night stays, preferring to base ourselves and do day trips. Having said this, we have no clear idea of where exactly we should go. There is SOOOO much to see, and SOOOO much information to wade through :) . So I thought I would throw it out there, and see if anyone had any must see ideas. We are also excited about being in the US for 4 July. Too many movies promise fireworks, barbecues and ball games. Is this true?

Our very basic itinerary is as follows:

TRIP 1 - East Coast - New York (7 days) - Boston (3 days) - Montreal (5 days) - Washington DC (3 days) - New York (1 day).

I would like to stay in a coastal town as well - we have read about Provincetown, Newport, Mystic - but not sure the best place yet. We will be driving through Vermont as well. I would be interested in a Lake town as an option, just for a couple of nights. We also need a stopover from Montreal to Washington. We are aiming to be in Washington for 4 July.

The Hamptons look nice, but I fear out of our price range, and we have heard that driving to Cape Cod is a nightmare.

We are looking at staying close to Times Square in New York. Bed and Breakfasts are an option for staying in on our trips, as well as 3.5 to 4 star hotels. But I don't do camping.

TRIP 2 - West Coast - LA (2 days) - Grand Canyon - Big Sur - Vegas (2 days) - San Francisco - San Diego - Yosemite

We haven't planned the West Coast at all, just have rough number of days we want to stay, but have not sorted the order as yet.

And finally, is there anywhere we *shouldn't* go??

Thank you so much in advance, if you are able to assist. It is very much appreciated!

millie2112 Feb 19th, 2014 01:11 AM

I drove through Europe last year with my husband & am now doing a road trip on the East coast of USa.
One thing that applies everywhere is do not drive in big cities. There is no where to park & if you do get a hotel with parking it is expensive.
So you may want to re think how you do the East Coast.

also NYC is a big place & IMO Times Square is not a great place to stay. way too many people. it is ok to visit but then you just want to get out of there.

isabel Feb 19th, 2014 03:39 AM

For the east coast I suggest: NYC (6 days). Upon leaving the city rent the car, drive to Boston (take this route - Merrit/Wilbur Cross Parkway to I-91 to Hartford to I-84 to I-90. More scenic, less traffic.) On the way you could stop at Old Sturbridge Village, a living history museum, good for a few hours and it's right on the way.

Boston - 3 days. Since you'll have the car perhaps look at hotels in Cambridge. Right across the river from downtown Boston but more hotels have parking . With the "T" (Boston's subway/metro) you can be anywhere in Boston in a few minutes plus Cambridge has Harvard, MIT, etc.

Drive up the coast of Maine. I would take a day or more from NYC & DC and add it here, plus you already had an extra day. Anyway, go at least as far as Portland (only a few hours from Boston) and possibly as far as Acadia National Park. But with three days or so you should have a nice time on the coast. Then head up to Quebec. You said Montreal but Quebec City is even more "European" looking. I'd split the 5 days in Canada between Quebec and Montreal, they are pretty close together.

Then head down to DC, probably stopping in NY state or Pennsylvania for the night.

You can fly to the west coast from DC, why do you need to go back to NY - that's a waste of time (that night and another can be added to Maine).

nytraveler Feb 19th, 2014 03:39 AM

In NYC there are few bed & breakfasts. The housing situation doesn;t lend itself to them. Not aware of any near Times Square - but there are plenty of hotels. What is your budget? There are a lot of discount web sites but you must look for deal early - esp if you want a 4* hotel under $300. (And I would not want to stay in Times Square - check out .)google earth to see what it is like during the day - but it's up to you

You do not want a car in NYC, Boston or DC - they are a total nonsense - you can;t use them to get around and will be paying $30 plus a night for a garage plus rental. Suggest you train between cities - and just rent a car for a few days if you wat to explore the countryside.

dfrostnh Feb 19th, 2014 03:39 AM

I think you need to check about driving a rental car from the US into Canada.
Agree that having a car in the city is expensive and unnecessary.
It looks like you have to return to NYC for a flight. Can't you fly from DC to the West Coast?

Burlington VT is pretty close to Montreal but that would make a longer drive to DC. Keep in mind that July 4th is a Friday so there is going to be a huge amount of traffic on July 3. I would recommend traveling to DC on July 2. On July 3 you should be fine in VT and western MA as you drive south but then you need to get past Hartford CT and NYC when it's not commuting hours.

Sorry, even for 3 weeks it seems like you are trying to cover too much territory.

lukenlea Feb 19th, 2014 04:40 AM

Thank you so much for your responses. Your information has been very useful. Wouldn't have considered the traffic issues on 3 July. While we weren't going to get a car until we left NYC, we didn't realise Boston or Washington would be as difficult re parking. And unfortunately it is cheaper to drop the car back in NYC, hence not leaving from DC.

Have a lovely day.

emalloy Feb 19th, 2014 04:43 AM

I totally agree that you will not want a car in NY, Boston or DC. You can take a bus, train or fly between the cities and use public transportation in them the drive is not generally relaxing or scenic between them.

If you want a trip to Cape Cod, you can take the ferry from Boston to Provincetown. If you just want a taste of it, get up and take the earliest ferry, then either walk or rent bicycles to check out the town and take one of the jeep/dune buggy tours from town, then take the latest ferry back to Boston.

If you want a road trip from Boston, then rent a car (personally I prefer Quebec City to Montreal) for a ride through New Hampshire and Vermont to Canada, then return to Boston and fly/bus/train to DC. This will take a day of driving each way, but you could alter your route going/returning and see New England. Otherwise, just fly to Canada then DC or less rushed, skip Canada this trip.

isabel Feb 19th, 2014 07:06 AM

If dropping the car in NY was the reason for going back there then I would suggest stopping in NY after Canada and dropping it and then train to DC (where as mentioned you don't want the car anyway) and flying to the west coast from there. This way the only city that you have a car in is Boston, the least problematic of the cities, and you are only planning on 3 days there anyway. And there are some hotels in Cambridge with parking. You could of course train from NY to Boston and only get the car upon departing Boston but the drive up through New England is not bad and I thought you wanted to see a bit of the country side. This way you are doing all of your driving north of NYC where it is a)pretty, and b) not hard to drive/park in most places.

boom_boom Feb 19th, 2014 09:09 AM

You're packing a lot in 3 weeks, but it's doable.
For the West Coast portion you'll need a car pretty much everywhere.
If you fly into LAX 1 possible route, LA to Grand Canyon you can make it is 1 long day I-10 to i-15 to I-40 to Williams. You can take the train from Williams to Grand Canyon, but IMO, there really is much to see via train other than trees. From Grand Canyon to La Vegas is an easy drive. Take uS 93 from Kingman and cross the new bridge with a view of Hoover Dam.
From LV to Yosemite go via Parhump and into Death Valley, the SR 190/136 to Lone Pine and US 395 to Lee Vining and SR 120 into the Park and over Tigoa Pass.
Then 120 out of the Park and I-205/580 into the Bar Area. Down Highway 1 to Big Sur. Continue down Hwy 1 and 101 into places such as Cambria, Morro Bay, Santa Barbara. Then through LA To San Diego and the last leg back to LAX. That just 1 of many variations you could do.

Hobbert Feb 19th, 2014 09:23 AM

4th of July is as promised :) In my experience, small towns have the best Independence Day celebrations. The town I grew up in had an all day street fair, a parade full of fire trucks and random floats, and a wonderful fireworks show. It's a lot of fun!

dfrostnh Feb 19th, 2014 12:17 PM

If the OP wants a small town 4th of July experience, we liked both Brandon and Bristol VT events. Bristol was the day before Brandon. Bath ME has a terrific 4th/Heritage Days event.

lukenlea Mar 3rd, 2014 04:56 AM

Wow! Well we have read and read and read, and done forum after forum, and have reworked our itinerary.

Canada is out.

Now we only have a few stops on East Coast, and are not dropping off the car back in NY. Instead flying DC to Chicago.

The only missing link is six days between NYC and DC. We are trying to find a suitable 2 night stay halfway between Boston and DC. I am picturing a lakeside, or coastal stay. A small cute town, but there are so many, and they just mean nothing to me - Williamsport, Adamstown, Wilmington, Westport, Ahhhhhhh!!!!!!!!

The new itinerary is:

NYC - 7 nights - June - pick up car and drive out
Boston - 4 nights
???? a small, lake or coastal town halfway to DC (CT, PA etc) - 2 nights
DC - 4 nights - arrive 2 July (leave car)
Chicago - 5 nights (flying in/out)
Vegas - 4 nights (including Grand Canyon day trip)- pick up car drive out
Yosemite - 2 nights
San Francisco - 5 nights
Californian Coast - 6 nights (stops may include Carmel, Santa Barbara, LA 2 nights)
San Diego 2 nights
Return to NYC for return flight to London (cheaper to buy return trips even with extra flight LAX to JFK)

We like driving, as we get to see more scenery, rather than going through the drama of airports...

Thanks again!

dwdvagamundo Mar 3rd, 2014 06:25 AM

Grew up close to Chicago and still have family there. I think five nites there is two too many, particularly if your plane arrives early or departs late. Consider a couple of nites in Philadelphia--very different from the other cities in the northeast.

I'll defer to others for coastal hideaways.

janisj Mar 3rd, 2014 08:05 AM

Just saw your thread - I'll tackle the West coast bits . .

>>TRIP 2 - West Coast - LA (2 days) - Grand Canyon - Big Sur - Vegas (2 days) - San Francisco - San Diego - Yosemite<<

This is a 3+ week trip by itself. And I certainly hope you don't mean things in that order. For the is trip it would make MUCH more sense to fly in to either Las Vegas or San Francisco. Any other starting point would mean a lot of back tracking.

One option:

Las Vegas > Grand Canyon > San Diego > LA > Carmel/Big Sur > Yosemite > San Francisco

Or in the opposite direction:

SF > Yosemite > Carmel Big Sur > LA > SD > GC > LV

Or a variation:

SF > Carmel Big Sur > Yosemite > Over Tioga Pass and on to LV > > GC > SD > LA

But the VERY first thing you need to do is find accommodations in Yosemite Valley (same w/ the Grand Canyon BTW) . Yosemite books up months in advance - so get a place there and build your West Coast itinerary around those dates. If you can't get a room at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls (the best option in the Valley) the try for Yosemite View Lodge in El Portal just outside the Park gates. Another option would be Wawona. Most anyplace else would be too far and take too long to get in/out of Yosemite Valley.

jamie99 Mar 3rd, 2014 10:37 AM

I dunno janis, Carmel to LA is a really long drive, I'd want two nights on the coast, or if they can only spare one night, then Cambria or San Simeon (stayed in both).

janisj Mar 3rd, 2014 11:33 AM

Jamie: Oh - I didn't mean that as single day journeys. Just the order of things. Like I said - it is at minimum a 3 week plan.

janisj Mar 3rd, 2014 11:36 AM

Darn - didn't mean to hit submit. . . .

Once the OP responds we can help,them with the details of how long and where to stop over.

dfrostnh Mar 3rd, 2014 01:28 PM

east coast, maybe Havre de Grace MD. It's not very far off I95 and before you get to Baltimore. Google maps says it's about a 6 hour drive from Boston.

tomfuller Mar 3rd, 2014 03:28 PM

There are New Jersey Transit trains that go from Philadelphia 30th St station to Atlantic City NJ if you must have a night next to the ocean.

lukenlea Mar 3rd, 2014 05:18 PM

Thanks *again* everyone for being so helpful.

dwdvagamundo - We were only talking this morning about dropping two nights in Chicago, and adding them to the East Coast drive holiday.

I have also read so much about how beautiful Portland, OR, is and we are now reconsidering going south to San Diego, and instead terminating in LA.

Thanks janisj and jamie99. Agreed, we definitely are staying a couple of nights on the coast. And your variation of terminating in LA, would support our choice to not do San Diego and fit in Portland if we can.

We have allowed 4 nights to drive from SF to LA - giving us 2 x 2night stops.

We are only planning a day trip to the Canyon, while in LV.

Thanks for heads up on Yosemite.

The trip is shaping up as follows

Fly Chicago to LV > 4 nights LV including day trip to GC
Pick up car and drive out to Yosemite - 2 nights in Yosemite
Drive > SF - 5 night stay
Drive > Big Sur, Carmel plus one more stop - 4 nights
Drive > LA - 2 nights
Drive > San Diego - 2 nights

We are flying to Vegas rather than SF as the car rental we have found calculates the one way fee from the drop off point. Therefore, SD is closer to Vegas than SF.

Re Portland vs San Diego is the following doable and more importantly is it worth it:

Fly Chicago to Portland (2 nights) > Drive stop midway to Yosemite (1 night) > Yosemite (2 nights) > Las Vegas (4 nights inc GC day trip) > LA (2 nights) > Drive Big Sur (4 nights > SF (5 nights - no car in SF)


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