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Road trip with kids: Arkansas, Gettysburg, Lancaster, Philly, DC, NYC

Road trip with kids: Arkansas, Gettysburg, Lancaster, Philly, DC, NYC

Old Sep 27th, 2015, 09:59 AM
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Road trip with kids: Arkansas, Gettysburg, Lancaster, Philly, DC, NYC

We are planning a road trip for early Summer ( possibly even end of May) 2016. We live in Arkansas, and have 3 children ages: 10,8, 4. All are well behaved, are used to road trips and travel well. Here is what we are thinking...

Day 1 Map quest says it's 17-18 hours to Gettysburg. We will stop somewhere to sleep and of course a few rest stops, food breaks etc.
Day 2 Arrive at GBurg late afternoon evening. Stay night in Gettysburg
Day 3 Gettysburg all day - Drive to Intercourse Area ( Drive that evening to Lancaster ( or surrounding area ( about 1.5 hours) Stay in Lancaster area
Days 4-6 Explore Lancaster areas ( Amish, farmer's markets, buggy tour, pretzel factory, historical farm and homes, Strasburg rail, shopping, driving back roads, covered bridges, etc. ) Stay in Lancaster area.
Days 7-8 Drive to DC ( about 2 hours)
Days 7-8 Drive to Philly ( about 2 hours) see Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Maybe the Rocky Steps, Zoo, Aquarium
Day 9-10 Drive to NYC ( about 2 hours) see Statue of Liberty, Times square, not sure what else, not really super excited about NYC, except daughters have been BEGGING to see statue of Liberty. Any thoughts?
Day 11-13 ( where should we go ) Maybe something in upstate New York? Mountains? Hiking? Parks?
Day 14-16 head home.

Also would you recommend us staying stationary? Maybe staying the whole time in the Lancaster area and just drive daily? I would think that would be a waste of time having to drive back and forth daily, but didn't know about parking and hotels that are nice and safe ( and affordable enough ) in NYC and Philly. We'd like a nice calm rental vrbo type home in Lancaster and have found several options.

I'm open to suggestions, we haven't been up to the East/North east and are hoping to have an enjoyable trip.
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Old Sep 27th, 2015, 10:00 AM
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Editing to add: In DC we are mainly wanting to see the monuments, maybe the National zoo, and the Library of Congress.
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Old Sep 27th, 2015, 10:02 AM
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Also, I have days 7-8 twiced... so it looks like it'll more likely be an 18 day trip.... Which will be fine if we think that's necessary.
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Old Sep 27th, 2015, 10:19 AM
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I think you have a couple of problems.

First you cannot commute from Lancaster to either DC or NYC - just way too far, esp given the very heavy traffic in both cities and the fact that you have 3 small kids.

Second, I think 1.5 days in either DC or NYC is just really a waste of your time. Granted you can see a couple of things but you will be missing most major sights and won;t really have any sort of feel for either city

Much as I love NYC I would take those days and spend them all in DC so you have the opportunity to see more of the dozens of great sights there. Suggest staying in downtown - or if that won;t work for the budget in nearby VA, leave the car in a garage (it's a nonsense in DC) and take the Metro to and fro.

Then instead of trying to drive further in NY spend some time visiting Mount Vernon and Monticello - or perhaps Colonial Williamsburg - which most kids love.
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Old Sep 27th, 2015, 10:23 AM
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Sorry - to give you some perspective, Lancaster to DC is about 3 hours and Lancaster to NYC is about 3.5 hours. But both can take longer depending on traffic, road construction, etc.

So day trips would mean at least 6 hours driving time.
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Old Sep 27th, 2015, 10:54 AM
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If you are only interested in the Statue of Liberty in NYC then from D.C. go to New Jersey and don't even go into Manhattan. You can get the Statue of Liberty ferry at Liberty State Park, NJ. You need to book tickets ahead of time to go into the statue.

Then how about a few days at the Beach in New Jersey?
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Old Sep 27th, 2015, 10:56 AM
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I appreciate your responses, I was just going off of mapquest. Yes that is certainly too long to drive back and forth in one day, not too far to drive in the morning and then stay there for a few days though.

I am certainly open to skipping NYC and spending more time in DC. I've been to DC numerous times, however I've never been to Williamsburg and I think you are right that the kids would like it there.
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Old Sep 27th, 2015, 10:57 AM
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Thanks, I'll look into the option re: DC to New Jersey to see the statue of Liberty. Another option is to skip NYC and DC all together this trip and do more time in Philly, Gettysburg, Lancaster and surrounding areas. We could do NYC later I suppose and spend more time there.
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Old Sep 27th, 2015, 04:52 PM
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You might consider DC as your first destination, as opposed to Gettysburg. Then, after spending a couple of days in DC, you could drive to Gettysburg (1.5 hours) first thing in the morning spend the day there, and drive to your hotel in Lancaster that evening (1hr 15 min). It would be a full day, but it would eliminate an extra hotel stop.

Then you would continue your northern route from Lancaster to Philadelphia and/or NYC.
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Old Sep 27th, 2015, 05:28 PM
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You are already getting great advice about travel times on the East Coast. Sometimes you get lucky, but traffic can be a bear, depending on time, season, etc.
No way would it be good to stay in Lancaster and do day trips.
Glad to see you are open to ideas for your trip.

A few things stand out.
Going up to Gettysburg, over to Lancaster, back down to DC, back up to Philly and on up to NYC then back down and across to Ark is kind of convoluted. Some kind of loop might better than such a zigzag.

Second. IMHO, Lancaster area is not worth so much time. In a day, you can very easily take a tour, have a meal, drive around and see some farms, buggies, covered bridges, etc. and be done. I can't imagine the kids being interested in more than a day there. A few hours of driving around and it was kind of "seen one farm and barn, seen them all." Depending on the rest of the trip, you could stop there for a day and one night or even just for a day and give that time to other places.

Except for monuments, parks (Gettysburg) and ages of little ones, I can't tell your interests, but will take a stab at suggestions.

Someone else suggested Williamsburg, VA. Yes! Kids love it and it is interesting to grown ups too. May is a beautiful time to go.

There are many other things to do in the area. If you want to spring the money, and if your family enjoys them, Busch Gardens is a lovely amusement park (This from someone who hates amusement parks). There is also Water country - I have not been there. There are other historical sights like Yorktown and Jamestown. You could even zip on down to VA Beach (about an hour South) for a day. Get a hotel with a pool right on the beach. Lovely for walking and playing in the sand. Yes, it is a beach town, but the beaches and board walk are beautiful and weather will be great then.

As you come up the coast, there is Fredericksburg (almost like a living history town) and further West, Charlottesville with Jefferson's Monticello.

You said you had spent time in DC, but have the kids been to Mount Vernon or up to Great Falls park? The Air and Space Museum or the Holocaust Museum?

I am not a great fan of NYC either, but there are so many wonderful things to do there, that I would do more research and if you are going anyway, really see some of them.

Another city in the NE that I love is Boston. All the history and charm of the city plus nearby towns like Concord.

It will still be too cool for swimming, but there are beautiful beaches and charming towns along the coast.

Other places: Annapolis, MD. Cape May, NJ. Lurray Caverns, Va. (My kids loved touring the caves when they were young).
Only an hour from Gettysburg is Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water, might be a very interesting stop for you.

With two weeks, consider doing either DC and south (Williamsburg, Va, DC, perhaps up to Philly/Gettysburg/Lancaster area) or (Boston, NYC, Philly/Gettysburg/Lancaster area). Remember, I am just throwing out ideas. You know what you and your family likes.

Sounds as if you will have a great time whatever you do.
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Old Sep 27th, 2015, 07:33 PM
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1. I concur that you have allowed too much time for the Lancaster area. One day and you're done.

2. I'd plan on at least 4- 5 days for D.C. It's an excellent choice for families because so many of the attractions are free. You won't run out of things to see and do in D.C. no matter how long you stay.

3. Many of the attractions in D.C. offer or require timed admission tickets during the spring and summer tourist seasons. Read this "Top Question" from Trip Advisor for more information:http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g2...e.Tickets.html

4. Here are 3 budget-friendly hotels in Arlington, Virginia (just across the Potomac from Washington, D.C.) Each is within walking distance of a Metro station and each offers free parking--a perk you won't find in any D.C. hotels. The hotels, in alphabetical order are: Americana Hotel, Best Western Iwo Jima Hotel, Holiday Inn Rosslyn @Key Bridge.
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Old Sep 28th, 2015, 06:51 AM
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Okay! Sounds like maybe a little re routing, but some great information. Maybe a lot less time in Lancaster area and spend more time in DC and Williamsburg. As far as our interests we are pretty eclectic, we are trying to see all 50 states together by the time the kids graduate and have finished up the South and Central part of the country, so thought we would head up NE. This would complete several more of our unseen states. We do beaches a lot, so not necessarily looking for that, but I do like the Jamestown and other historical area suggestions. Even though the kids are great and well behaved, living history type of museums are better for us than actual art or other type of stationary musuem exhibits. They try, but can only hang so long. Again thanks for the suggestions. I may re do my route and post again later as we start to plan a bit better.
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Old Sep 28th, 2015, 12:09 PM
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Your children will have a difficult time understanding Gettysburg, in a way, but going there is certainly good.
Lancaster is an interesting place, but not 3 days interesting. Along with the beautiful Amish country, there is a lot of kitsch in that area. there IS the Harley Davidson factory in York (?) if they have tours.
Washington DC is your gem of a destinaton. SO much to do do for all of you--no matter how many times you have been (and not unless you've been in the last year).

If you are just going to check off states, then go wherever you need to. Jamestown is an interesting area. Williamsburg a very slick reproduction of colonial america.
Of course kids can only do "museums" so long, but over time, that attention span gets greater if exposed. Most museums have "art scavenger hunts" that mke kids interesting in looking at the art.
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Old Sep 28th, 2015, 05:11 PM
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IME little kids usually like at least parts of natural history museums - esp if they are dino fans - which most of them seem to be. I wouldn't reco any art museums - but even air/space and parts of history wold be interesting to them.

And the mall gives them tons of room to just run around in between monuments.
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Old Sep 28th, 2015, 05:43 PM
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Sounds like you're planning a great trip. I haven't read all of the replies but what I did read provided good advice. I hope I don't repeat what was already said. I love to go to the monuments in DC at night--especially the Lincoln Memorial. Head there for dusk and sit around for the sun to go down. The museums are fantastic and the kids will love them. One of my favs is the Museum of Natural History. Georgetown is lovely to walk around but not terribly exciting for kids. We like to stay in Alexandria and then take the Metro into DC. Most hotels have a shuttle to the Metro. It's a little cheaper and it's a nice place to hang out after a day in DC. We did the night time ghost walk in Alex. as well. Not scary for the kids and we learned a lot about the history of the area and who lived in notable houses in the town. Lancaster is nice to drive through. There's an outlet mall there and that's about it. Hershey would be fun for the chocolate factory tour. You can smell it as you approach the town! Gettysburg is a fav of ours. Lots of decent small hotels choices there too. The museum is very good. We bought the self-guided driving tour on CD in the gift shop to get through the battle field. Worth the money and you can go at your own pace. The bus tour guides are experts in Civil War history. If you are really interested in the history this might be a better option.
When in NYC, take the double-decker bus tour. A little expensive but worth it. We try to do this in every big city we have visited. The tour guides are extremely knowledgeable. We stay on the bus for a full loop to get all the info and then get off at stops we are interested in (only do this if you have a good tour guide). No matter what you decide to keep or eliminate from your itinerary, I think you'll end up having a great vacation. Have fun and take your time
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Old Sep 28th, 2015, 06:35 PM
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Great advice listed above. You know your kids better than anyone here but I have found with kids 11 8 and 5 that breaking it up on day one will help in the long run.

Not sure what part of Arkansas you are leaving from but

Day one possibilities could include Memphis stop for the Ducks at the Peabody Hotel and then a lunch someplace after that maybe even the zoo which is quite good if I recall and then drive til maybe Mammoth Caves for your first night and after you wake up take a tour of the falls before continuing on your trip.

I have found that with kids your age, they will remember fun things with history included, rather than history with a little fun.

We took this trip on the way back from Virginia a couple of summers ago and after Williamsburg, Water Country/Busch Gardens (their favorite) hit Montecello, Blue Ridge Parkway drive, Mammoth Caves, Tennessee Aquarium and Memphis Zoo before heading to my parents in Hot Springs Arkansas. Stopped also on the Ochee River for a little wading, swimming on our trip.

This was on the tail end of a long trip in the middle of July and they remember the last part more than the first for some reason when we talk about it
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Old Sep 28th, 2015, 07:57 PM
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To clarify just a bit.

Colonial Williamsburg is not a reproduction of an early American town.
It is a real village of 100 buildings that have been restored to original condition or reconstructed according to original foundations, plans and whatever remained. In that respect, it is not pretend. You really are walking where Washington and Jefferson walked, and sitting in churches and inns where they sat. Of course, costumes worn by all the people working there are reproductions, as well as some of the furnishings. It is small and walkable, so nice for kids to be outside. It is fun to eat in one of the local colonial taverns/restaurants. For living history for kids, this is about as good as it can get. Be prepared. Tickets are not cheap, but it is a one time thing, so worth it.

Fredericksburg also has many homes and shops from colonial times, is small and great for walking or taking a tour.
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Old Sep 29th, 2015, 08:02 AM
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I am glad you corrected my characterization--restoration would be a much more correct word. Thank you. And thanks to the Rockefellers, I believe.
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