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East Coast Driving Trip August 28th-September 6th

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Feb 1st, 2010, 10:29 AM
  #1
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East Coast Driving Trip August 28th-September 6th

I am looking for suggestions of must sees and advice for this 10 day driving trip. The 10 days include the time it will take to travel to the first stop, as well as, the drive home.
So here's the rundown:

There will be 4 women on this trip, 2 in their mid-twenties, and 2 in their early 50's. On this girls road trip we will be traveling from Kentucky, through West Virginia to get to our first destination somewhere along the coast of Virginia. Here is a list of cities in order to let you know the gist. Please let me know if this is not doable in your opinion and what we might want to skip. Also, if you have any cities that are a must along the New England coast that are must sees advise of those as well.

Cape Charles, VA
Ocean City, MD
Ocean View, DE
Washington, DC
Philadelphia, PA
Atlantic City, NJ
New York, NY
Bridgeport, CT
Charlestown, RI
Jamestown, RI*
Salem, MA
Newburyport, MA
Portsmouth, NH
York Harbor, ME
Kennebunkport, ME*
Marlboro, VT
*Where there are multiple cities listed we may not actually stop in both it is just to keep us going along the coast.

Any advice on lodging prices and tips for that time frame would be appreciated. Also some of the best places to eat. We love antiques and shopping. The only part of the trip I'm not sure about is DC and Philadelphia. There is a lot of history in both places and I'm not sure if it will cut too much into the time we have available. We plan on spending maybe 1 day in Atlantic City because 2 of the people in our party like to gamble.

The main goal of this vacation is to take in georgous views, enjoy some great food, and each others company. We hope to spend as little time on the interstates as possible for the drive up but we want the fastest route home possible so we can make the most of our road trip.
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Feb 1st, 2010, 12:22 PM
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Doesn't sound doable especially when it includes a holiday weekend with a lot of people on the roads. And for these areas, you generally need to take the Interstates. Why not either pick the Mid-Atlantic or New England (and even then maybe just Southern or just Northern?

I cannot think of anything redeeming to see in Bridgeport (maybe I am wrong) except maybe the views of the Sound? Go to Mystic instead on the way to RI.
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Feb 1st, 2010, 12:32 PM
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Well, we really want to make it all the way to main so a few things can be left out like DC and Philly (I'd like to go to those two places on another trip entirely). According to google directions that route would take about 1 day and 4 hours if driven non-stop so we kind of thought it would be doable so long as we didn't stop and stay in every place. We really want to drive the coast for the trip up and that's the reason we want to avoid interstates. Thanks for the advice though especially on Bridgeport. Where is Mystic?
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Feb 1st, 2010, 12:52 PM
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Skipping the 2 cities helps. Would you also skip NYC? Mystic is along 95 in CT (almost in RI) That weekend from MA to Maine at certain times (and in reverse) can be a near parking lot where an hour becomes 3 or 4 quickly. Same from RI to MA. This is the weekend before a lot of schools around here go back to school so its the last long weekend at the beach or college kids moving in. Traffic can be very bad. My family used to go the Cape or Maine that weekend - but never drove on the weekend due to the traffic.

95 from New York City to RI can turn into a massive traffic jam as well with construction and accidents quite a bit. Rt 1 parallels it but would be no better.

Google doesn't account for traffic at all and is quite misleading with its times.
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Feb 1st, 2010, 01:01 PM
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"Driving the coast" is a slow go if you actually want to see it and try to avoid interstates. In the northeast there are smaller roads but you generally don't get to see the coast unless you go down little peninsulas. Bridgeport is dismal, an hour or so out of New York, Mystic is in eastern CT, a little over 2 hours from NY and is at exit 90 on route I-95 and most people stop there for Mystic Seaport, a museum of maritime history, complete with tall ships, and a village with all the shops associated with seafaring in the 1800's, takes most of a day to explore it. It looks like I - 95 goes along the coast but there are only a few places where you can actually see the coast from it, mostly when you are crossing rivers that empty into the ocean. Jamestown RI is an island connected by bridges to the mainland and to Newport. It is lovely and has a nice state park Beavertail, where you will get beautiful ocean views. It is a little more than an hour's drive from Mystic, CT. Southern Maine will be about 3 hours from there, if you use the interstates and don't hit Massachusetts at rush hour.

We drove from CT to KY on the interstates and it took the better part of two days. If you don't want to do interstates, it will take much longer and once you get to the coastal areas, there will be beach traffic to contend with that will slow you down too.

All that said, IMHO, if you really want to go to Maine, go there first, as fast as you can, then wander down the coast until you run out of time and have to head back to KY, relax, enjoy the trip, have a great time.
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Feb 1st, 2010, 01:07 PM
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We weren't planning on overnighting in NYC and didn't know about stopping either. I've been kind of unsure because of being in a car and all, and the ability to find parking in NYC but at least we'd get to drive through it.

I can't reschedule the trip, so really we will just have to drive as far as we can in the first 6-8 days and then head back. Thanks again for your help. Also, with what I have mapped out we wouldn't be touching the interstates except in a few places, i think.
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Feb 1st, 2010, 01:10 PM
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Emalloy - Thanks for all your advice! I hadn't even considered driving to Maine first (that make's perfect sense). I'll bring that option up with the girls and see what they think.
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Feb 1st, 2010, 01:12 PM
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I think going there first will also help because then we will avoid the weekend traffic to the beaches because that will put us on the coast during the week.
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Feb 1st, 2010, 01:16 PM
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If you have it mapped out, it will not include traffic or the amount of stoplights.

The only caution I would have for just driving as far as you can may be hotels. Due to the holiday, they may require multiple nights or be sold out.

I hope you enjoy it as it is a beautiful part of the country. I just don't want to see you plan too much and then sit in traffic. It has taken me 4.5 hours to drive Hartford to Baltimore then 8.5 hours home on 95. Just an example of how much time can vary.

I know this thread just benefitted me as I looked up Beavertail State Park and am planning on going there at 1 point soon.
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Feb 1st, 2010, 01:56 PM
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If you're really interested in Antiques, I suggest you do some checking to see where there might be special antique shows on. The largest show I think in the northeast is just after your trip starting on Sept. 7. http://www.brimfield.com/

The New Hope, PA/Lamberville, NJ area between Phil. & NYC used to have great antiques but not sure if it still does. I don't see any great reason to go to Atlantic City unless you're gamblers. Longwood Gardens might be a nice stop. http://www.longwoodgardens.org/

How did you come up with this list of stops?
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Feb 1st, 2010, 02:53 PM
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Just wanted to add that there are two Indian casinos near Mystic, Monhegan Sun and Foxwoods, which would enable you get in some gambling but avoid the long trip to Atlantic City.
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Feb 1st, 2010, 04:15 PM
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Bridgeport, CT?? This is a city and there are so many nicer places along the coast of CT..
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Feb 1st, 2010, 04:33 PM
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Just say 'no' to Bridgeport.

I must be confused: Are you trying to see these 16 spots in 10 days including the trip back home?

Why not just go as far North as NYC or start in Maine and just go as far South as NYC?

Although I'm a huge fan of road trips, I'd lose my mind on this one. We took 10 days to drive from Connecticut to Niagara Falls and back; we'd never have been able to accomplish anything like this.
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Feb 1st, 2010, 06:16 PM
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There are quite a few stretches of this trip where sticking to driving along the coast would be both infuriatingly slow and boring. Some of the "coastal" roads are just like any other suburban roads , filled with strip malls, car dealers, etc. You won't really see much that is scenic, plus you'd miss out on the things you do want to do--some antiquing, a little gambling, along with some beautiful ocean views.

What I would do is pick a few stops, take the usually faster interstates to get between them, and then drive the "slow" roads for a couple of hours surrounding the place you want to actually visit.
For example, I think it's totally worth it to drive the coastal areas between Portsmouth, NH, York Harbor, ME, and Kennebunkport, ME.
Between ,Atlantic City, NJ, New York, NY, and Bridgeport, CT you will save a huge amount of time by skipping the coast and going straight to Mystic CT or somewhere in RI. If you want to see a couple of Jersey shore towns, skip MD and DE ones.

Also, consider varying the types of spots--some of the beach areas you mention will all start to look alike after a while. Maybe you want one old fashioned boardwalk town, one more upscale area, one with some history, etc.

And I totally agree with everyone else that Bridgeport is one of the least scenic spots in Connecticut, and that visiting any of the the big cities--DC, Philly, New York--would need more time than just a drive through.
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Feb 1st, 2010, 06:31 PM
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Go to freetrip.com to get an idea of mileage and time between cities.

If you are going through Huntington, WV and are near it, you can use I-64 to the Virginia Beach area and take the bay bridge tunnel to Cape Charles in a day and maybe up to Ocean City or at least the Chincoteague, Va area. I would skip DC and Philly. Stay on 13 through the DELMARVA up to Delaware and take the ferry from Lewes to Cape May NJ following the coast to Atlantic City. I would also skip Bridgeport.

Use I-95 to get Mystic Seaport and up to RI.

We stayed at the York Harbor Inn and had a very nice meal there before continueing north on US 1. While in Maine, don't miss Acadia National Park.
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Feb 1st, 2010, 06:37 PM
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I can't imagine they'd have time for Acadia (!!!) but it's a beautiful place that's for sure.
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Feb 1st, 2010, 10:13 PM
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My recommendation would be to plan an overnight on the way to the farthest "must do" destination, then work your way home...as it's usually better to get most of the driving out of the way at the beginning of a road trip and return on a more leisurely schedule.

With several drivers and an early start, if you really want to "see" NYC, you could spend your first night there, ride around on the hop/on hop/off bus, then continue on to Maine, though two nights in NYC would be better.

There's really no point in driving through NYC. If you don't want to overnight there, you could drive to Liberty State park on your way north for views of the Statue of Liberty and the skyline.

Ditto Washington, DC and Philadelphia...

It seems like your focus is on coastal destinations, which is just fine, but you really need to refine your list and pare it down quite a bit.

Do you really want to spend that much of your time driving all the way to Maine? That will require most of four days of your ten day road trip...

It would make much more sense to cut out everything north of Philadelphia/Atlantic City...where there are fabulous seaside destinations in the area...Cape May, Rehoboth...

Save parts north for another trip...and it would be far more efficient to fly and rent a car...
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Feb 2nd, 2010, 03:52 AM
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Slow down and revise - you are starting in KY, so you can't drive all the way to Maine in one day anyway.

What do you want to do/see? How did you come to create your list? Was it a collective effort - each of the 4 of you put in some places? Because that is what is sounds like. Many of the places on the list are fine, but somewhat redundant. Some are just questionable.

I'll tackle the New England part. Kennebunkport, Portsmouth, York, Newburyport - all nice seaside towns/small cities with something to offer. Pick ONE - I might suggest Newburyport or Portsmouth. Nice cute places to eat, stay, stuff to see. Easy drive to a beach from any of them.

Marlboro, VT? What is that about. I have never seen this on any list from anyone as a place to visit - perhaps I am missing something.

Salem, MA. If you into the witch stuff or want to see the excellen Peabody Essex Museum, worth an overnight. I see you have specifically omitted Boston so I won't even suggest you add that - there is aleady too much on your list.

Rhode Island - pick Jamestown or Charlestown. Both nice, a bit different. Go for quality rather than quantity.

Right there if you spend a day in each of the above 3, you have already used up 4-5 days with driving time.

Bridgeport, CT. Why, why, why?

Pay attention to the "driving the coast" suggestions above. There is no such road that goes along the coast where you get to see anything other than endless small towns that become tedious quickly and lots of traffic lights. These are not the roads I think you expect with panaramic views of the ocean, lighthouses, etc. I would stay on major roads, and then get off and stop and see the various places on your list. Your driving time expectations mean no traffic, on the interstate, seeing nothing.

Skip NY, Philadelphia, Washington - these cities could take up more than the 10 days you have total round trip.
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Feb 2nd, 2010, 03:52 AM
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Wow, seems like a big bite. To me skipping the big cities, (as many of them are a trip in themselves) In the northeast, skipping Salem MA, (not much, my opinion) But heading up Route 1 hugging the coast starting around Newburyport northward toward Maine could be very relaxing, lots of Antique stops as well. Marlboro, VT Not much to see there. Vermont in the Winter would be another great trip on it's own. Cheers, Safe Driving!
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Feb 2nd, 2010, 04:00 AM
  #20
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Honestly the list just came from following the coast line while looking on google maps, it was just a way to keep us driving along the coast instead of being re-routed back to the interstate. Kennenbunkport is the only place I was specifically advised to go to. From the feedback above Bridgeport is out, we will do Mystic, CT instead. As stated before, the trip is already scheduled but where we wind up is not.

I believe we will drive to Maine first and then come down so we can better gauge the time needed to drive home. I had no idea how 'impossible' seeing all of these cities would be and that's why I defer to the experts (you guys) for guidance.
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