East Coast with kids, Summer 2014

Old Aug 12th, 2013, 11:51 PM
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East Coast with kids, Summer 2014

Hi, we're visiting from South Africa in June-July 2014 for 3-4 weeks, the planned trip of a lifetime! Our thoughts are to spend +- 4 days in New York, 3-4 days in the North-East region (eg overnight via Amtrak to Boston, Adirondack region etc), then to rent a car and drive southwards (any other suggestions here?) through Washington, Virginia and North/South Carolina to Florida, where we want to spend +- 8-10 days exploring and relaxing (inclusive of 4-5 days in Disneyworld etc). Would love any suggestions on where to go, not go, travel methods etc to get a good taste of the East Coast without burning ourselves out! Our kids are 11 and 8. Thank you!
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Old Aug 13th, 2013, 03:05 AM
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You have a huge amount of space and activities packed into limited time. I don;t think 3 weeks is reasonable - 4 will be a rush.

A couple of notes:

You will need a car to explore the Adirondacks - public transit is practically nil - so you will have to get a car leaving Boston. Do check what car rental deals you can get in SA - will probably be much less - and often includsive of all the insurances.

As described the trip sounds like many days of driving with limited time sightseeing - I would consider how long trips will actually take, considering that the speed limits are mostly lower here, traffic around cities is endemic and road construction is typically done during this time of year. So you will probably average lower speed and longer drives than you are planning.

IMHO DC is a must see and also deserves 3 or 4 full days (I know Disney is tempting - but the real world can be even more interesting/enjoyable). You also don't want to miss Colonial Williamsburgh - which I think kids would enjoy a lot more than Savannah or Charleston (I would pick one - not both).

It sounds like a great trip - but I would lay it out now day by day - considering travel times carefully.

Also, be aware that weather in FL in the summer can be truly hellish - so you might want to consider starting the trip in early June and doing south to north for less awful weather.
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Old Aug 13th, 2013, 04:37 AM
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Thank you so much for the thoughtful suggestions. I was worried about trying to cram too much in so I will relook at our schedule.
I'm not sure I understand, are you recommending Charleston or Savannah as well?
I've heard DC is well-worthwhile, so will relook at that.
I had a look at Colonial Williamsburgh on the web, it looks great and thank you for that suggestion, we will definitely try to fit that in.
Thanks again for your thoughts, really kind of you.
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Old Aug 13th, 2013, 05:16 AM
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I'm not sure I agree with the advice about Colonial Williamsburg. While it has a certain appeal for American kids, I'm not sure how interesting it would be to kids who haven't been raised singing Yankee Doodle. It can also be quite expensive. So if your kids have a strong interest in history, go for it, but if not you may want to give Williamsburg a pass.
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Old Aug 13th, 2013, 08:24 AM
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It all depends on the kids. It's not just about Yankee Doodle - but about how people lived in early colonial times - very different from today (and true in any part of the world that was newly settled - as opposed to europe with thousands of years of history).

Suggest checking out some of the activities if you;re not sure.
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Old Aug 13th, 2013, 09:55 AM
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Thanks guys. It does look interesting with all the activities for kids, as opposed to ordinary museums, so I will definitely do more homework on it.

I don't find many people suggesting Florida and Disneyworld, is that just because it'll be very crowded and humid that time of year? Would it be a nice scenic / interesting drive from Washington DC to Florida, or perhaps better via train or air?
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Old Aug 13th, 2013, 12:25 PM
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We could make better suggestions if we knew your interests. If you have any interest in American history (particularly Civil War), the drive south of DC is very interesting.

My spouse and I are history buffs and like to drive and we think the drive from DC to Florida is interesting. If we had two youngsters in the car with us whose minds were set on getting to Disney, maybe it would not be so much fun.

So if you get a good look at Boston, NYC, and DC plus the Williamsburg Peninsula that has a lot of civil war stuff, flying to Florida would make sense as it will permit you to devote a couple of more days relaxing as opposed to driving. Or you could spend a day or so of the extra time in Philadelphia, a place also full of US history and science (Ben Franklin) and very different from Boston and NYC.

The questions I'd have for you is why the Adirondacks, unless just to relax someplace cool, and why go to Florida in the summertime if not just to see Disneyworld? St. Augustine is an interesting old city and there are some other interesting things to see, but driving around with two children in the Florida summer is not my idea of fun. And I am unaware of any other way to see Florida than to drive.

So at that time of year I'd do the northeast--Boston and the north shore has Salem (really Danvers with its witch history--you can see a home in which one of the condemned witches lived), whale watching cruises (although I'm not sure that is the right time of year for it), Peabody Institute full of neat old shrunken heads and stuff; Philadelphia has the "Liberty Bell", a really good science museum, Valley Force near by. Amtrak to DC, then fly to Orlando Florida and stay at Disney before flying home from Orlando. If you want to relax, the Adirondacks, upstate New York, will be much more relaxing than a beach or pool in the Florida heat.
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Old Aug 14th, 2013, 09:41 AM
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Hi. you're right in that Disneyworld - kids is the only reason for Florida. So we may end up flying there for a few days and then focus the rest of our trip on the North-East, it looks as if 3 weeks won't even be enough! Thanks for the suggestions on Salem and the Northeast.
Would a side trip (+- 1 week) to Quebec region be do-able or are we again trying to do too much, assuming for instance...
10 days (NY city 4 days/ DC 2 days / North-East incl Boston 4 days); 7 days (fly in / out) Orlando and Miami; 7 days Quebec (via Amtrak from NY)?
Thanks again for your ideas.
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Old Aug 15th, 2013, 11:52 AM
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It's doable. But we've gone to the northeastern US countless times over the years (partly because my spouse's mother lived in New Hampshire) and only got around to going to Quebec once a couple of years ago. Now, we're Americans and the historical attractions of New England are probably greater for us, but my sense is that there is plenty to do in the northeast US. We did love Quebec, for what it's worth.

So I'd recommend doing DC/Williamsburg Peninsula and maybe Baltimore before thinking about Quebec. That way, you'd be able to get a very good sense of many of the most important places in US history, some varied geography and scenery, two or three important but very different cities (thinking mostly of NY and DC).
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Old Aug 16th, 2013, 11:23 AM
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Thanks -- given the time limitations and logistics (and cost of visas) Canada may be too much. So we'll probably do 10 days in the North-East, and 10 days in California (Disneyland Anaheim for the kids). Less time travelling and more time holidaying. We have also considered coming in December as opposed to July, this will give us some extra time, but we're not so sure about the cold weather and travelling at that time of year in the North-East (coming from Africa we're not accustomed to very cold and snowy weather!).
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Old Aug 19th, 2013, 11:13 AM
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Definitely better to see the Northeast in the summer. It does get cold and snowy in New England in the winter.

California is a better choice that Florida in June/July and there is certainly more to see, in my opinion.
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Old Aug 25th, 2013, 10:27 PM
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Thank you - yes from what we've read, the July combination of North-East + California looks like the best combination for us. Thank you for the advice.. much appreciated.
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