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East Coast to West Coast honeymoon.

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Hey everyone.

We've been starting to think about planning our honeymoon, and this site keeps popping up so I thought I'd bite the bullet a write a post!

We're looking to travel from the East Coast to the West Coast over 5/6 weeks in the summer (July/August), as my fiancé is a school teacher over here in the UK.

On the East we'd like to see Washington DC, New York and Boston, then ideally take a trip up to Niagra Falls. We don't have an order of preference, and flights from the UK seem similar whichever place we fly into. We've never been to the USA so on this side we'd like to be tourists! Seeing the sights, fitting in a hockey match and seeing a show on broadway if possible.

From here we'd like to get to the West and see L.A, San Fransisco, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Yosemite Park. As we're going to be travelling a lot, we'd like to leave some time at the end to relax on a beach somewhere and do nothing!

We both like sight seeing, shopping, history and outdoor beauty, however as this is a honeymoon we don't want to be rushing from place to place, taking a picture and saying "yep, been there". We want to truly experience places.

So I guess the first question is, is this doable? Can anyone recommend a good order or any "must see" places?

We can both drive, although my fiancé hates it so it would probably land on me! I've never driven abroad before so would prefer to break up long journeys, or look at buses/trains.

Any knowledge you could give me would be greatly appreciated! I look forward to your replies and planning our trip of a lifetime!


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    > Any knowledge you could give me would be greatly appreciated!

    You did say "any" knowledge.
    As someone who just celebrated (note the verb, it's quite different from "recorded") a 29th anniversary and is about to make Rhode Island the 50th state in which the two of us have spent a night, consider me someone who has knowledge about romantic travel.

    The trip you're planning might be nice -- but NOT as a honeymoon! Spending five to six weeks going from ocean to ocean in July and August (the hottest and most crowded time of the year) is NOT the way to start a marriage. It might be a great way to spend quality time together AFTER a few years, but I recommend you don't START your life together this way.

    Pick some places where you can experience "sight seeing, shopping, history and outdoor beauty", and stay in such places for at least a week. If that means you spend a day or so just staring at each other, THAT'S EXACTLY THE IDEA! Later on you can take a trip where you say, "If it's Tuesday, this must be the Grand Canyon."

    Off my soap box. Anyway, here's my choices for the best places for your wishes in the summer:

    History -- first of all, remember this is the U.S.A. We don't HAVE a lot of history compared to the other side of the pond. The only three places I can recommend is Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington.

    Shopping -- we DO have a lot of that! Look for outlet malls, or just mega-malls in general. Great shopping cities include New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

    Outdoor beauty -- in the late 1800s, Americans began to get embarrassed about our lack of cultural icons, like the cathedrals of Europe. So we invented the concept that certain natural wonders are our "cathedrals." And the concept worked beautifully -- the national parks system here is a treasure beyond belief. Amongst the best for summer would be Yellowstone, Glacier, Rocky Mountain, Olympic, Redwoods, etc. The desert scenery of the Southwest will be incredibly hot, and Yosemite will be jammed, so you may want to save those for later -- although a traffic jam in Yosemite may well be better than an uncrowded anywhere else.

    Sightseeing -- New York, Boston, San Francisco, Washington.

    Okay, here's my suggestion: a few weeks in the Northeast (New York, Boston, Washington, and Philadelphia). Fly to a major city in the Rockies, rent a car for a couple weeks, and do a loop of national parks. End at a beach in New England, but NOT Cape Cod in July or August.

    Feel free to return if you have specific questions about specific destinations.

    One last thing:
    > fitting in a hockey match
    Sorry, but not even Canadians play hockey in July and August.

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    Just some quick commentgs in no particular order.

    Trains work well most places you'll be on the east Coast. You won't need/want a car In NYC/Boston/Washington DC. And the public transport in each is good.

    On the West coast - trains, not so much. You'll definitely want a car for the California/Grand Canyon/Las Vegas bits. Though you don't need/want a car IN San Francisco.

    Hockey is a Fall through Spring sport. Baseball is the main professional sport being played when you are here. There are major league teams in Boston, NY (2), DC area (2), LA, Phoenix, San Diego, and SF/Oakland (2) so you should be able to find a game while you are in one of those.

    One option would be to do your east coast bits, then something like fly to one of the southwest cities (LA/Phoenix/Vegas) drive around and up to Yosemite, over to San Francisco, drop the car, a few days in SF, fly back to the UK.

    Or you could do the whole thing in reverse (SF > Car for the CA/NV/AZ loop > fly to east coast > fly home)

    Bear in mind it will be HOT to VERY HOT in Las Vegas, Arizona, and likely VERY HOT/HUMID in Washington.

    You will want to stay IN Yosemite Valley . . .and book that room as soon as your dates are firm.

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    First off, your trip is doable but does entail a lot of driving. If you start in Washington, DC and end in Los Angeles it's about 4,350 miles which equates to about 75 hours of actual "butt in seat" driving time. In other words, if you were to drive the route from from start to finish without any stops (of course this is impossible) you'd spend more than one week of your vacation in your car.

    You might want to consider flying into Washington, DC then drive to New York, Boston and Niagara Falls. From there fly to the west coat and then drive to visit Los Angeles, San Francisco, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon.

    It give you a better idea of what's involved in a trip like this go to Google Maps and select "Get Directions", enter the cities you want to visit and you'll see the routing and driving times/distances between the various points.

    The USA is a very large place and it's impossible to "see it all" in 5 or 6 weeks.

    Now, you've also asked for some "beach time" - well, obviously, you'll have to do that while you are on either coast meaning you'll have to schedule it some time during your East Coast segment or wait until you get to the west coast.

    Lastly, buses and trains are not the best way to travel around the US. You'll find it infinitely easier to fly between the east and west coasts.

    Again, I highly recommend you do basic research by going to Google maps or at least consult some type of map so you get an idea of how big the USA actually is. Give some thought to scaling down how many places you want to visit. You might find your trip more enjoyable if you confine your plans to either the East or West coasts - that way you'll spend your time actually seeing the sights rather than merely traveling between them.

    Consider flying into Boston and spending 5 days in that city, drive up the coast and spend a few days in Maine, then drive to Niagara Falls (perhaps stopping for a couple of days in either Vermont or New Hampshire (to get a taste of New England) and then drive down to New York for a 5 to 7 day stay. You can then drive to Washington, DC to visit that city (5 to 7 days - there's a lot to do). You can work in beach time at any point during the trip that works for you. There are some great beaches on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, New Your State's Long Island, along the coast of New Jersey, Delaware and Virginia. Or, skip the east coast and make a similar type trip using your west coast destinations.

    Hope this helps.

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    A couple of notes:

    I hope you mean next year - you're way late for this year
    Hockey is not played in the summer - the season starts in Oct and the playoffs were finished months ago

    Need to agree with a lot of the above:

    Midsummer will be hot (can be 80s or can be 100) and likely often humid everyplace you will be, You need to allow for this both in wardrobe and scheduling. Don't assume you can go/go all day - build in time for relaxing and spending time indoors to cool down.

    Also agree that you can do the eastern portion of your trip either completely or mostly by train. In the west you will need to drive to see a lot of places.

    But - I would definitely NOT drive across the country. I would visit the east, fly to Vegas to spend a few days there and the Grand Canyon and then fly to CA to rent a car and see that from SD north - with a stop over at Yosemite.

    Las Vegas is in the middle of a dessert (much of CA is also a natural desert but you can;t tell do to the amount to water poured on it) and the weather there can be incredibly hot in summer. I would not even consider going to AX, Tx of NM at that time of years.

    And everywhere you go - be sure to stay well hydrated (always carry your own bottles of water) and definitely use serious sunscreen every day.

    In terms of itinerary I wold start in Boston, then train to NYC, then to Washington. Yo can do beaches on this portion either by going to Cape Cod - you can get there by ferry from Boston but will need a car to get around there - or by going to the Hamptons from NYC. either area is mobbed in the summer - but doable during the week (avoid weekends at all costs) and you'll need a car to get around. They both have a lot to see and do. Cape Cod has both ocean and bay sides while Hamptons beaches are primarily ocean. do realize this is the north Atlantic - water is cold and can be rough with large waves, the beach in East Hampton is one of the 10 best in the US (that includes FL, Hi and CA) but to use it you need to be staying in the town and your lodging will give you a sticker you can use to park near the beach. (Unlike much of europe much of the beach area is private owned wither by a town or by the uber wealthy people who have mansions there. You can use the ocean every where but the acutal beaches are often private and not open to the public. there are also a couple of low
    -rise condo complexes near Amagansett - usually have tennis and pool as well - that rent by the week.)

    From DC I would fly to Niagara Falls (it's about 8 hours by road and to do train to need to go from NYC whic is more like 10 by train) to spend a couple of days. You need to be sure your visa allows for multiple entries to the US - since the best views and hotels are on the Canadian side. You definitely don;t want to be stuck on the US side - the falls are OK - except you are on the top not facing the front - but the town/hotels are quite tacky and unpleasant.

    I wold then fly (from buffalo - the nearest city - to Las Vegas for the western portion of the trip.

    You really don;t have time to drive all across the country - and there are large parts which have not that much to see - it would be a waste of 3 days at least of solid driving or a week at least of stopping here or there for a couple of hours. And the east and west portions you want to see will already be packed in 5 or 6 weeks,

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    I agree partly with janisj and nytraveler.
    Fly from UK to Washington DC. from there use the train to NYC.
    From NYC to Boston South Station on Amtrak. When you are done with Boston, take the Lake Shore Limited to Rochester NY. Sorry it arrives so late at night. Spend the night in Rochester and rent a car in the morning to go to Niagara Falls. Return the car to Rochester airport and catch the next flight to Chicago or Denver. Decide if you want to spend any time in either before flying to Las Vegas. Rent a car in LV (cheaper) to see Grand Canyon and all that you want to see in the American West. When you are done in the West return the car to LV and fly to some other eastern city (Atlanta?) for your trip home.

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    Contrarian? Moi?

    Go for it. Start as early as you can. Yes, it will be hot in places, but if you're school teachers your timing options are fixed, so make the best of it.

    However, some route modifications might help you make the most of your time.

    Fly into DC and tour the capital, then up to New York then Boston - all by train. Hire your car in Boston and make for Niagara Falls.

    From there, follow a "northern tier" (generally cooler) route across the continent, visiting such places as the Rock and Roll Museum in Cleveland, Chicago, Badlands National Park, Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park, and ending in Seattle. Then stay on the Pacific, visiting the Oregon coast, California coastal Redwoods, San Francisco, Big Sur and the Hearst Castle, then LA, the Grand Canyon, and finishing in Las Vegas. Here's the route: http://goo.gl/maps/9ezk

    You can see it involves around 5400 road miles (more when you add time in cities, national parks, and wandering around) and, according to the Googlebots, around 93 hours wheels turning.

    At six or seven hours of driving per road day, that equates to around 15 days on the road, out of the 35 - 42 days you have available. Realistically, you'd find that 6 hours would be easy and that on "road days" it wouldn't be hard to do 8 or 9 hours, so you could extend the number of "non-driving" days accordingly.

    I've taken British friends on cross-country drives like this on a couple of occasions, and on shorter parts of it (e.g. the west coast parts) more than that, and in every case they really enjoyed the long-distance bits a lot. People talk of "flyover" states (meaning, basically, everything between the east coast and west coast) as if there isn't enough down there to interest visitors. I take strong exception; for example the state of South Dakota alone is worth the drive, even if it takes a day or two crossing the Great Plains to get there. It's not called the "Heartland" for nothing, and traversing it at ground level is, IMO, an important part of discovering how Americans came to think in continental-scale frames of reference.

    Some days will be a little boring. Yes, it will be hot here and there. Probably you'll encounter high humidity on the east coast, and will have to pay attention to the car radio for weather updates in the Midwest - thunderstorms, even tornadoes, are not unknown. It might rain here or there. So what? If you don't like the weather, stay in the car, crank up the AC, put on some good road music, and aim for the horizon. That's the American way.

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    I am going to completely disagree with PaulRabe. When my husband finished grad school we *could* have taken a several week holiday before he started work, but he started as early as possible thinking that we were broke and just being in that mode. It is one of our few regrets in our marriage. You are young. If you can do this and not end up in a poorhouse when you're done, I would.

    <end soapbox>

    I would most definitely fly into DC first. Having just got back from New York and DC in high heat (and been in Boston in fairly high heat years ago) I would say DC is the worst of the three to walk around in. The blocks are quite long with large public buildings, and less little ice cream or coffee shops to duck in for a cool-down. So earlier in the summer is better.

    I also think of all the places you mention, DC is one where we tend to "tick off the boxes" more, so I would limit your number of days there. (Note: I do think the White House tour is worth the effort and you need to request reservations at least 6 months out--I would ask at the American Embassy for guidance.)

    I think you could go either way on whether New York or Boston is next. I would do beach time on both East Coast--deferring to Janis and the others on which specific one--and on the West Coast. The two coasts are very, very different.

    I would absolutely not drive the whole country. Not all states have the amazing natural beauty that you see on TV. They might have some lovely things that people who live there feel passionately about--but you just aren't going to appreciate that driving through. And that much driving makes people cranky.

    Las Vegas seems to be incredibly popular among Brits who visit our travel boards. But it is really not very romantic imho and certainly not outdoorsy. Really, the main reason to go there is that you can use it as a jumping off point for the Grand Canyon. Also flights from Buffalo to Vegas appear to be reasonably priced on Kayak. There are bus day-trips you can do to the Canyon. But I'd recommend you get a car and drive, and stay one night at a property right at the Rim so you can see the sunrise--which we did not get to do. Much better.

    You can make Los Angeles more relaxing by where you stay, by the beach preferably. A trip down to San Diego might also be nice. I would definitely drive between San Francisco and Los Angeles, stopping for a couple of nights at least in Santa Barbara.

    San Francisco is such a romantic city--give yourself more time there and tick less boxes.

    If you have time left, I would actually end your trip either driving up the coast from San Francisco to the Pacific Northwest, or doing a short flight there.(Southwest Airlines or Alaskan Air are good bets.) Also beautiful and temperatures will be cooler there to end your trip.

    The other place you left out that I think must be mentioned objectively is Colorado. I am biased toward the West Coast but there were times when Colorado took my breath away. It's easy to fly into Denver and drive to Breckenridge an hour or two from the city. It's so beautiful and would definitely qualify as romantic. The main problem is that it's a long haul to drive to Colorado from anywhere else so that would be yet another flight. But think about it.

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    Sorry - I don;t mean to denigrate the "flyover"s states - but the simple fact is that 6 weeks just isn't near enough time to drive across the whole country. Train is not a viable option except in a few limited areas. most of the tracks are owned by the freight companies and freight trains take precedence over passenger ones, there is often only one train per day and it is often very many hours late. Also - we don;t have "high speed" trains - the speed is no faster than car - sometimes less and the cost is often more than flying.

    You can - in 6 weeks get a reasonable taste of the north east and Las Vegas/CA. I fyuo want to see more parts of the country yuo will either have to 1)rush from one place to another with very limited time stopping or 2) significantly increase the time of your trip.

    My parents did some cross country trips when they first retired and it took them 6 to 7 weeks to get from NYC to Grand Canyon. And my father LOVED to drive hours and hours per day - and they didn't see anything on the east cost - since they have done that on many shorter trips.

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    I'd do the East Coast and fly into Las Vegas (try and time it so you are there Sunday-thursday as rates are much cheaper), rent a car and drive to the Grand Canyon and stay overnight. Then drive back to Las Vegas, turn in the car and fly to Los Angeles (driving through the desert is very boring but lots of foreigners like to see desert so up to you). Good outlet shopping in Las Vegas also. Then spend time in Los Angeles, rent a car (public transport is horrible and takes forever) and spend 2-3 days driving Highway 1 stopping in Santa Barbara, Cambria (for Hearst Castle if interested) or Pismo Beach and Carmel. You will see Big Sur, this section of the coast is incredibly beautiful. Then drive into San Francisco and turn in your rental car as SF has good public transport. From San Francisco you can then visit Yosemite for a couple of days either via a tour or another car rental. Then return to SF and fly home from SFO. Enjoy your honeymoon.

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    A lot of advisors here have forgotten that the fiance hates to drive, and that the driver has never driven abroad and wants to break up long journeys. I would suggest that driving more than 3 hours/day would be MORE than enough for her/him, especially since it would be just one driver.
    Especially on a pre-honeymoon trip, keep the stress level down, for gosh sakes.

    We haven't heard back from the original poster. OP---what are ypu thinking now?
    What suits your style?

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    Yes, the OP should give us some feedback - I just noted that this is their first post on Fodor's.

    In looking over my previous comments, I want to edit them (can't yet do so on Fodor's, but it's about time) to add that while a transcontinental car trip is certainly feasible in their time frame (I've done them in as little as 5 days) it might not be the best approach. I don't especially see it as a question of endurance; for drivers used to the UK, driving in the US is way easier, even if the first couple of days requires some additional concentration due to left side/right side issues, location of mirrors, etc. As I said, I've hosted a goodly number of British friends on similar drives, or have advised them on various cross-country itineraries of their own (also Alaska Highway and RV tours) and haven't had any negative feedback on the driving part.

    But it does come back to the OP's wishes, and another factor not mentioned, budget. One-way car rental in the US has gotten very expensive of late, so if the decision was made not to do a cross-country drive, then I'd opt for a couple of road trip loops. Start with a car-less period on the east coast, then a short loop - Boston to Boston via Niagara Falls and Montreal, for example.

    Then I'd fly west (yep, overflying) to LA, get a car and do a big loop of the west, taking 3 weeks or so in the process: East to the Grand Canyon, then up to Vegas, then the Utah red-rock parks of Zion and Bryce Canyon, then across Nevada (dial up the AC and set the cruise control) to Lake Tahoe, then down CA 49 through the Gold Rush country to Yosemite, across to SF, then down the coast to LA to close the loop. Arizona, Utah and Nevada will be hot as Hades, but that's what you get in July/August in the west. It won't, however be DC-in-July (= Singapore) hot. Frankly, if I were a British teacher couple, I'd focus on the western US for the homeymoon, and plan a winter-break holiday to NYC and Washington, when both places are, as far as I'm concerned, way more pleasant. Airfare's cheaper then, too.

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    Forget the Lake Shore Limited out of Boston. I just found that you can fly from Boston to Buffalo for about $120 per person. After seeing Niagara Falls you could take the overnight LSL from Buffalo to Chicago. From Chicago I still think it best to fly to either Denver or Las Vegas. The drive from Chicago to Denver is rather boring.

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    Thanks for your replies, sorry, forgot to check back! I need to read them again to digest your helpful suggestions. However, I should have said we plan to fly from East to West rather than drive. Also, I totally understand that this holiday isn't going to be "romantic", but we'd rather spend our money seeing another amazing country than sitting on a beach for two weeks.

    As mentioned, my fiancé is a teacher so anything other than July/August time is out as going in a different school holiday would limit us to two weeks. Also, fir us, after getting married will come the responsibility of looking to buy a house/start a family etc so if we don't do it as a honeymoon we never will.

    I hope that explains the reasoning better, oh and it's summer 2013 so I'm not completely mad!

    With my limited research so far, I had worked out East Coast would be doable by train/bus, but figured West Coast might need a car. I feel a bit stupid for not knowing the hockey season, due! I'll blame my fiancé for that one though as he's the sports fan but hadn't mentioned that!

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    Once you've settled on some of the details come back with specific questions and people can provide info on each part of the trip - hote best to do - where to stay, etc.

    And train is fine from Boston through DC - Amtrak NE corridor runs often - hourly for most of the day/evening and all 3 cities have very extensive and reliable public transit systems. NYC operates 24/7/365. Not sure of details of Boston and DC - but definitely longer hours than London.

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