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Driving Trip Boston to Atlanta 3 weeks in October-- what to see and do???

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Aug 4th, 2012, 10:09 PM
  #1
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Driving Trip Boston to Atlanta 3 weeks in October-- what to see and do???

Hi there,
We're booked to fly into Boston October 1 and home to western Canada from Atlanta October 22nd. We're beginners at visiting this part of the US. We do plan to spend a few days in New York and again in the Washington area. But other than that, it's wide open. What is a nice itinerary for this trip? We are 55+, reasonably healthy for hiking, enjoy music, art, history, seascapes, mountains, good food (Yeah she says!); like a balance of city and country; not much into shopping. Can you help us?

Thanks!
Lea
from Calgary
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Aug 4th, 2012, 11:37 PM
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Historic Williamsburg/Jamestown/Yorktown, an easy drive from DC. Then heading to the other side of the state, Charlottesville, VA (Monticello, other colonial presidents' homes) - about a 3 hr. drive on I-64. From there maybe Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive - which becomes the Blue Ridge Parkway and has lots of nice little towns, some hiking opportunities. Asheville, NC (Biltmore Mansion) is worth a stop. Smoky Mt. National Park. Enough to do on the route to last you a few weeks, so you can cherry-pick what interests you most and skip the rest. This itinerary would put you closer to Atlanta and should be quite pretty that time of year. One way to get from SMNP would be through the park to Pigeon Forge (Dollywood) to Knoxville, then I-75 from Knoxville to Atlanta. Closer (though maybe not faster) and probably more scenic would be through Nantahala Nat'l Forest; head south through Blue Ridge, Elijay on 76, then pick up I-575 for the last hour (maybe less) to Atlanta. All of that is lovely scenery until you get to I-575.

If you want to stick to the coast, you could go from Williamsburg to the NC Outer Banks, then to SC - Huntington Beach State Park and Brookgreen Gardens (google those for more info) around Murrell's Inlet are nice stops in SC before you head west to Atlanta. I'd recommend the charm of Charleston also, especially if you like to eat (it's a top US foodie destination and #2 in the SE after New Orleans), but if you look at a map you will see that following the coast of SC gives you a pretty long drive to Atlanta through not such spectacular country. And if you went to Charleston also, you'd be south of Atlanta. In Oct. I'd probably take the mountain route and enjoy some fall colors. (And no worry about a hurricane disrupting your trip.)
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Aug 5th, 2012, 12:02 AM
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Just thinking, I only mentioned things south of DC. I know NYC and DC pretty well, Boston, southern New England, and Philadelphia somewhat, but didn't think to mention them in the last post because I never drive north of DC anymore (fly and rent a car, if necessary). Just picked up my driving thoughts at DC.

Leaving Boston you could go by Newport, RI and look at the mansions, then head along the coast of CT through Groton, Mystic, Old Saybrook, etc. on the way to NY on I-95 (I assume NYC - and also hope you don't plan to drive in Manhattan.) We drove from Boston to the above-mentioned places in early Oct. 2 years ago (before turning north through MA and into VT and NH) and it's quite lovely. Between NYC and DC you pass through Philadelphia, which has both interesting, charming historical areas and some excellent museums. A more roundabout way to get to DC from Philly would be through the Pennsylvania Dutch area - around Lancaster - and eat some Shoo Fly pie in Amish country.
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Aug 5th, 2012, 05:42 PM
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WoW! Thanks so much for your ideas! We'll certainly keep those in mind,

Thanks kindly!
Lea
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Aug 5th, 2012, 05:45 PM
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Car in Manhattan...
Hm... we ARE driving from Boston to Atlanta. And we will be spending some time in New York (we have family who are posted with the United nations there).

Is driving in New York a problem? Hubbie has experience driving in England and France with no difficulty.

I prefer to be navigator and have been VERY happy with the development of GPS's!)...

Thanks again,
Lea
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Aug 5th, 2012, 06:55 PM
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I'd suggest forgoing a car in Boston, New York and DC. None of these cities is particularly car-friendly, especially for out-of-towners. Are you sure you want to navigate the insane traffic, deal with parking expenses, and so on? I'll also point out that GPSs tend to get lost among NYC's tall buildings, as they lose "sight" of the satellites.

Spend as much time as you like in these cities, then take Amtrak between them. At the moment, fares in early October are $49 per person from Boston to New York and the same from New York to DC. If you sit on the left side of the train out of Boston, you'll have some nice views of the Connecticut coastline. You can purchase online at amtrak.com.

Pick up your car in DC, then heed polly229's suggestions.
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Aug 5th, 2012, 07:12 PM
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I have never driven in NY and wouldn't do it on a dare. Terrible, terrible congestion - you can crawl faster - and parking there is as expensive as a hotel room elsewhere - plus you have to find someplace to park. (Goes without saying that hotel rooms there are are three times as expensive as hotel rooms elsewhere.) You certainly won't want to drive around the city for sightseeing; you'll spend all your time creeping through traffic and searching for parking lots and picking yourself up off the ground when you find out what parking for 3 hrs. will cost.

For that matter, I don't drive in Boston and not in DC anymore either (though I used to live just outside DC 40 years ago and drove into the District when I had to with no major problems except the strange layout of streets). My theory is that if a city has a highly developed transportation system, there must be a good reason. Some places (NY, Boston, and DC being the prime ones in this country), if I have a car, I drive straight to the hotel, park it, and don't touch it again till it's time to leave. We went to DC last April: got a room in Alexandria (another place worth seeing, Old Town Alexandria) near a Metro stop and used the Metro the next five days. Saves a huge amount of time. It's not so much the drivers (though NY taxi drivers are something else) but the fact that you are caught in gridlock all the time, particularly NY.

I'd recommend you post a separate question in the NY forum called "Driving in NYC" or some such and see what people who live up there or have driven there suggest. They may know something about parking that I don't. I know some people stay in NJ or somewhere (or just leave their cars there in cheaper parking lots) and go into the city by train.

Not sure where in France your hubby has driven. London? Paris? Do you go to Paris and drive around the city, park the car when you want to go to a museum or something? I wouldn't drive in London, Paris, Athens or Rome to name a few European cities similar to NYC in terms of congestion and lack of parking.

In our case, I drive while DH plays with his electronic toys but I always have a map in case they lie (which they do on occasion) or when an expressway on ramp in San Diego is closed for construction, it's 11PM (2AM your time) and you just want to get to your hotel and check in, but the GPS keeps telling you to make a U-turn and go back to that closed on ramp.
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Aug 5th, 2012, 07:27 PM
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Between Boston, New York and Washington DC you would be best served by taking trains and taxi to your hotels.
South of Washington DC you could and probably should use a rental car for the coastal route.
I see no sense to having a rental car and paying to park overnight in a city with great public transportation.
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Aug 5th, 2012, 07:39 PM
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I just searched "driving in NYC" and found some threads you might want to read. Most recent one that came up was 2010 but nothing has improved. However, apparently one person at some time in the past found a hotel with free parking, which is hard to believe unless the hotel was terribly expensive. For sightseeing, you'll probably be in midtown most of the time, and I don't think the $20-$30 a day parking rates "in some parts of town" would be the case there. And as one poster said, that's just for commuters parking from 8-5; if you park all night, it will be considerably more. Also, I hadn't thought about tunnel and bridge and expressway tolls.

I assume you must not be on a real tight budget since you're picking up a car in Boston and dropping it in Atlanta, which generally adds a large amount to the rental cost. But you should definitely research this thoroughly before driving into NYC. If I were you, I wouldn't pick up a rental car until after I was finished in the city of Boston, either. It's just an expense to park plus rental charges for days when you probably won't be driving. We took the MTA train in from Logan airport and picked up our rental car near our hotel when we were ready to leave. For what you'll save on parking and car rental, you could take a taxi from the airport a couple of times or more. (Also, sometimes there are some pretty hefty airport fees on rentals that you don't have to pay if you pick up from an in town location. We're saving over $100 a week in Colorado next month by doing that, plus we save the two days rental in Denver (where we won't need the car) and $35 a day parking.

If you decide not to go anywhere in New England, just straight from Boston to NYC, I'd suggest you take the train and not pick up a car until you're ready to leave NY.
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Aug 6th, 2012, 01:18 AM
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I would not in fact pick up a car until somewhere south of Washington: Richmond if you decide on Williamsburg and the coast, perhaps Dulles airport if you decide to go down the mountain route. With three weeks, you can certainly go back and forth between the two.

You will not want it until you leave Washington, and you will need it thereafter. Traffic on the east coast corridor (I-95) is legendary as far south as Fredericksburg.

If you want to explore New Rngland, do it as a loop, renting and returning in Boston. You could, in fact do the Southern leg of your tour as a loop, beginning or ending in Washington or Atlanta, driving the mountains in one direction and looping back along the coast in the other.

The Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia are lovely, and alternatively you could drive directly east from Washington, down the peninsula, cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, follow US 17 to Charleston and Savannah, perhaps as far as St Augustine in Florida. You can make it from there to the mountains north of Greenville, SC, in one longish day, then poke around in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains until time to go to Atlanta.
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Aug 9th, 2012, 10:01 AM
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Thank you so much for all your ideas. I am so GLAD we posed the questions this far in advance. Hubbie is now reconsidering itinerary. Thanks for info on airport to town for Boston -- good idea! We do want to see something of New England and so would like a car for that -- perhaps we'll stay on the outskirts of Boston before heading south.

Anything else you might suggest is always welcome!

thanks again,
Lea
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