East Coast of US

Old Jan 17th, 2007, 01:42 PM
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East Coast of US

I am in the process of planning a family (myself, hubby, 11 and 14 year old) trip traveling from Washington DC to NYC. I have listed our itenerary below and am hoping for some feedback. The trip's purpose is mainly educational. Thank you!

Day 1
Flight from Portland, Or to DC

Days 2-5
Tour DC

Day 6
Drive to Charlottesville
Tour Monticello
Drive to Gettysburg

Day 7
Tour Gettysburg
Drive to Lancaster

Day 8
Tour Lancaster
Drive to Hershey

Day 9
Tour Hershey
Drive to Philly

Day 10
Tour Philly
Drive to NYC

Days 11-14
Tour NYC

Day 15
Flight back to Porltand, OR
patriot is offline  
Old Jan 17th, 2007, 02:22 PM
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When will your trip take place?
seetheworld is offline  
Old Jan 17th, 2007, 03:15 PM
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I am assuming this is your first trip to these places? There is so much to see in DC and NYC that one day each is not enough. I would divide the time between the two. You won't need a car in NYC. Maybe not in DC either. You might want to consider the train between the two and skip everything else in the middle.
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Old Jan 17th, 2007, 03:53 PM
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The OP has scheduled four days in Washington and in New York. I think it sounds like a good trip. Philadelphia might need a bit more time, but you can do the major historic sights in a day.
carolyn is online now  
Old Jan 17th, 2007, 04:34 PM
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If you get tired of the DC traffic and need a break, may I suggest a day trip to Baltimore.It's only 40 miles to the Inner Harbor area with the National Aquarium, Hard Rock Cafe, ESPN zone, Science Center and many shops and restaurants within walking distance of each other. Also,a short water taxi ride will take you to Ft. McHenry where the Star Spangled Banner was inspired. If your children like baseball, there is the Babe Ruth house and Oriole museum downtown too.
Unfortunately, many people pass by my home town on the way from DC to NY.
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Old Jan 17th, 2007, 05:44 PM
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Hi Patriot,

We live in Fairfax, VA and my children have all enjoyed these places, especially my American History-buff boys. However, I think your Day 6 will entail a lot of driving. Your children will surely find Jefferson’s Monticello interesting and the nearby James Monroe’s estate of Ash Lawn-Highland. Plus, visiting the beautiful campus of UVA will perhaps get your children thinking about college as did mine. However, I don’t recommend this segment of your trip because you will have to go back up to Pennsylvania after an exhausting site-seeing day. May I suggest a visit to George Washington’s Mount Vernon instead of Monticello? Mount Vernon is just across the bridge from Washington DC and personally, I do find the landscape more impressive. Standing in the back lawn of Mount Vernon, overlooking the Potomac River, you’d understand why George Washington refused the temptation of becoming the first “king” of the 13 colonies and settled here to become an ordinary citizen.

I remember my children were mesmerized by Gettysburg, too but honestly, all I really liked then was watching the story of the battle unfold through a diorama with little blinking lights to represent troop marching. How philistine of me, for sure!

Hershey and Lancaster are each doable in one day but Philadelphia might warrant at least two days. We enjoyed visiting the Independence Hall and the National Constitution Center but you shouldn’t miss the Franklin Institute of Science. Your children could easily spend a day here. My 11-year-old had a school field trip there recently and even though he’s been to many science museums, this still remains his favorite.

New York is New York. What more can I say? We go there twice a year but we never run out of things to do. Even daily morning trips to Central Park reveal something new and undiscovered to my children. One day it was playing a simple game of hopscotch, another time, it was watching a marionette.

I hope you and your family will enjoy your visit to the East Coast,

PS. Baltimore, as the previous poster says, is also a good stop on your way to PA. We go there for the Aquarium and, depending on the season, baseball or football. BTW, there’s also an aquarium in Philadelphia, too (actually in Camden NJ) but the Baltimore one is my kids’ favorite.
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Old Jan 17th, 2007, 08:10 PM
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Yes, Mount Vernon is a better choice (for this trip) that Monticello. I love Monticello, but it will extend your driving and Mt Vernon is wonderful and close to DC.

Hershey and Lancaster are so close you can stay in one hotel two nights (always a relief to me when I am on a long road trip).

I recommend that you go online and purchase the Autotape tours of Lancaster and Gettysburg. Perhaps, listen to them at home or in the car as you run errands the week before you depart home. Or enroute from DC to those areas. They will give you some familarity with the anticipated sights. I give my house guests my copy of the Lancaster tape; tell them to listen on the way up; and when they arrive to follow the route for a few miles and then just wander around the countryside.

And packmule, I am just as philistine as you. That 'Electric Battlefield' was fascinating to me! I recommend it, patriot, before you drive around the battlefields.
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Old Jan 18th, 2007, 02:59 AM
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We usually added a fun event to our educational vacations. If you have time, consider a visit to Luray Caverns in VA. Can't remember if we did them on the same trip as Monticello or the one to Williamsburg.
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Old Jan 18th, 2007, 04:14 AM
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Hi I just want to add my 2 cents. DC is wonderful and the museums are just fabulous. Monticello is very nice. Charlottesville is a nice town as well. We found Gettysburg very dull. It is a lot of open fields and grave sites. It was just not very interesting to us. Lancaster and the Amish is very interesting. Hershey Park is lots of fun and has great mid-sized roller coasters. My kids went ont their first big roller coaster there. I have not been to Philly and I grew up in NJ! Last, but definitely not least, NY is just a great city!
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Old Jan 18th, 2007, 05:02 AM
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All your destinations are good choices, BUT you'll be exhausted by the time you get to New York with all these one-day visits. I'd eliminate one or two of your stops--as worthy as they may be--and slow down a bit. Otherwise, it very well may be a "If this is Tuesday it must be Belgium" sort of trip.
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Old Jan 18th, 2007, 05:02 AM
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You can't do Day 6 in a day.
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Old Jan 18th, 2007, 09:43 AM
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If this were my trip, i would definitely skip Charlottesville and Monticello and add Mt. Vernon as others have suggested. If you got going early that day, you could see Mt. Vernon, drive to Gettysburg, see the lighted-map thingy in the visitors center and drive to the battle highlight areas. I would then drive to Lancaster (no more than an hour and a half away) and settle down there for 2 nights. See the Lancaster area on 1 day and drive up to Hershey Park one day. The next morning I would drive to Philly. At least that gives you a little relief from the constant changing of hotels.
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Old Jan 18th, 2007, 10:23 AM
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Personally, I think that is a lot of schlepping around with an 11 & 14 year old, and way too much history overload. I don't really understand this trip. Perhaps spend 4 days in DC, 2 days in Philly, 2 days at the Jersey shore (depending on time of year) to decompress a little and see the 'other' ocean, and then 6 days in NYC.

The historical sights in all of these places are huge and require a ton of walking. You will also be standing in lines, on foot and in traffic. If you overplan, you are going to miss things and be disappointed.
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Old Jan 20th, 2007, 11:16 PM
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bugswife1 nailed it. That is perfect.
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Old Jan 21st, 2007, 12:57 AM
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Bugswife may have the outline better. Iwondered about Hershey, but now see it is an amusement park day perhaps. Not very far into the trip so may not be needed.

The sights along the Amish country are lovely and so different. Around Lancaster.
Gettysburg may be "lost" on the children for the reason given--fields and fields even with a narrative.
Philadelphia definitely needs more than one day.
I happen to think our nation's capital is a GREAT city that people don't really think of in those terms. Be sure to make arrangements for any entries that are now allowed--although I fear that many are no longer available.
Definitely turn the car in at NYC.
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Old Jan 21st, 2007, 09:43 AM
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Gettysburg is obviously well-known, but if your goal is to see a Civil War battlefield, you don't necessarily have to drive that far. A large one that is closer to D.C. and that I found very moving is at Antietam (aka Sharpsburg): http://www.nps.gov/anti/ I haven't been to Gettysburg, so can't compare, but I would say that Antietam is fairly "doable" for kids -- there is a short movie at the visitor's center, then a driving tour where you get out at certain marked destinations and can walk around (e.g., farmhouse, lookout tower, etc.). There are panels at each stop providing some explanation, or you can purchase (or rent?) a relatively inexpensive CD to play in your car stereo that narrate as you drive. I note that Antietam can also be combined with a stop in nearby Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, on the banks of the Shendandoah River: http://www.nps.gov/hafe/ Both can be reached in under 2 hours from D.C., sometimes more like 90 mins depending on traffic. (Try to leave D.C. anytime before 3:30 p.m. or after 7:00 p.m. to avoid evening rush hour)

There is also an even closer battlefield in Manassas, Virgina, however, I have not been there: http://www.nps.gov/mana/

I concur with the general sense of others that you have a lot of destinations packed into this trip. I would personally try to minimize the driving by cutting two of the following four from the trip -- Charlottesville, Gettysburg, Hershey, Lancaster -- and substituting some of the closer-in destinations mentioned above. But of course, only you know which of any of these is a "must-see" for your family. Good luck!
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Old Feb 10th, 2007, 09:42 AM
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I stumbled on your post and it freaked me out! We are planning our trip from Seattle to DC and on up to Boston with almost your exact itinerary, with our 12 and 15 yr-old boys! We are doing the same number of days in DC and are staying at Capitol Hill Suites, by advice from friends who were just there. From there we are planning to spend more time at Antietam than G'burg, and to go on to a day at Hershey and a day around Dutch Cntry. We'll be in Philly on the 4th and need advice as to where to stay to enjoy the festivities. From there it's just 2 days in NY with a family member and then 4 days in Boston with friends. It's a lot in 2 wks, I know. Boston will be our downtime with rest on the Cape!
If anyone has advice on where to stay and how to do Hershey, Dutch Country and Philly in 3 days from July 2-4, I'd be grateful!
Patriot, do you really want to tour Philly then drive to NY that night? Maybe there's a good place to stay between those places. I'd be interested in recommendations. Thanks all!
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Old Feb 10th, 2007, 09:57 AM
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Family has done most of the places listed on different trips to the area.

While Monticello is a fascinating place, I agree about switching it with Mt. Vernon.

I did Gettysburg as an 8th grader on a class trip. Other than the big map, it was a bore at that age. Some of the battlefields closer to DC that have been mentioned are more interesting.

Have your kids been to other amusement parks? They may find Hershey tame, although the plant tour/exhibit is fun.

You definitely need more than a day for Philly.

I would skip Lancaster but I visited PA on a regular basis as a kid.

Remember that it is hot and humid during the summer months in these areas and very draining. Plan for some down time.

Good luck with the trip!
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Old Feb 10th, 2007, 10:04 AM
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Thanks for your reply! Maybe we should skip the Hershey Amusement Park. My boys don't really care about it. Would this be doable in one day:
G'burg, Antietam, Hershey
Next day:
Dutch Cntry tour and on to Philly.
3rd day:
Philly, then leave for NY.
Will it be totally crazy around the 4th of July?
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Old Feb 10th, 2007, 03:11 PM
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Hi NWMom,

I don’t mean to further complicate your travel plans.

But if your sons are into battle reenactments as mine are, just be informed that Gettysburg does them in July. They have a website where you can order tickets. My own children have always liked these things, but after being dragged from one battle to another – the most recent in memory: Yorktown and Manassas-Bull Run -- I’m officially retired and “excused” from joining the rest of the family in these military pursuits.

However, seeing that you’re from the West Coast, your children might find the experience of firing cannons and advancing troops memorable.

Have fun, whatever you decide.
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