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From Los Angeles to Pittsburgh, PA, I need help on finding the best route!

From Los Angeles to Pittsburgh, PA, I need help on finding the best route!

Old Jul 27th, 2018, 09:56 PM
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From Los Angeles to Pittsburgh, PA, I need help on finding the best route!

Hi everyone,

My friend and I will be driving from LA to Pittsburgh in about 10 days as I'm moving there for grad school. I was hoping to get some suggestions from y'all as to which route to take best!

We don't have a tight timeline, as we're hoping to make this a road trip rather than just "driving my stuff over" type of thing.

On Google Maps, the shortest routes more or less follow a diagonal line across the country. However, we're hoping to find a route that will:

1. take us through major cities (e.g. Denver, Chicago) where not only it would be easier for us to find a decent hotel, but also give us the opportunity to experience the metropolises, even just for hours.
2. limit our driving per day to 8 hours tops.

We're giving us a week to complete the trip. Is that unrealistic? We're hoping to spend a bit more time in Chicago, but other than that, we'll be fine with just staying the night in the other cities.

Thanks so much in advance for anyone who's willing to chip in.

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Old Jul 28th, 2018, 04:21 AM
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I did a similar trip many years ago - LA to the northeast to start grad school.

My criteria were different than yours.
My objective was to avoid major cities - to me, they are all just more buildings, and see sights I normally would not see without a major trip. You are passing through some of the most beautiful scenery the US, including the desert southwest and rockies.
I had no difficulty, even back then, finding decent hotels outside of major cities, and at a fraction of the price. Perhaps things have changed now where it's easier to find decent hotels in metro areas. On a grad student budget, "decent" may have had a different meaning to me back then.

If this were a spring or fall trip, personally I'd drive a southerly route to take in natural settings & smaller cities through AZ, NM, etc that I may not get to for a while, but early August it will be very, very hot so the northerly route is perhaps best.

For cities, your natural stopping points along the way are
Las Vegas
Provo/Salt Lake City (adds about 100mi vs picking up I-70 in central UT.
Then after that it's your choice, somewhere in Nebraska or Iowa.
Try using google maps, and finding way points along that route that are 8hrs apart. You can drag the waypoint east/west (or any direction) on google maps and see what strikes your eye.
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Old Jul 28th, 2018, 06:30 AM
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My quick search of Google{R} Maps shows three routes between these two cities, each requiring 35 hours of driving on about 2540 miles of (mostly) interstate expressways.

Decades of experience of driving on interstates have led me to plan to average fifty miles of travel on an interstate for each hour of driving, factoring in such things as stops for meals, gasoline, and bathrooms. Your plan for eight hours of driving a day, for ten days, would allow you to drive WELL over the 2540 miles you will need. It will also give you a few hours, if not a day or so, for visiting some of the cities along the way.

You've stated your preference for visiting large cities, which is fine. So I suggest this route:
I-15 from Los Angeles through Las Vegas and into Utah. Take a look at Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park if you can.
I-70 when you meet it in Utah. As you head east, take a look at Arches National Park.
Continue east on I-70 until you get to Denver. If you make at stop to get munchies before you drive, stop ONLY at places like a 7-11!

Take I-76 east our of Denver, and be prepared for boredom. During my fourteen years of living in Iowa, I tried to do this drive as fast as possible.
Continue east on I-80 when you get there in Nebraska. Continue to be prepared for boredom.
Get ready for excitement as you enter Chicago.
Leave Chicago via I-90, and get ready for turnpikes as you stay on I-90.
Cleveland is definitely worth a stop as you head east.
Finally, you'll be in Pittsburgh!
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Old Jul 28th, 2018, 06:04 PM
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Have you visited Zion National Park before? If not I'd do that on the afternoon of day 1 and maybe spend the night in Cedar City about an hour north of Zio. Next day youd have an eight and a half hour drive into Denver. From Denver you could get to Kansas City Missouri in a little over 8 hours, then next day to Chicago in about 8 hours.Chicago to Pittsburgh is about 7 hours.

Chicago is actually quite a detour on this drive so you want to spend at least two nights to make it worth the extra hours that it's adding to your trip.

​​​​​​​keep an ear on those Tornado warnings while you drive across country. There could also be fires along the route at this time of year so always check the weather each evening for the areas you'll be driving through next day. Then re-check in the morning.

Last edited by clarkgriswold; Jul 28th, 2018 at 06:13 PM.
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Old Jul 28th, 2018, 11:14 PM
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Thank you for your suggestions! Really appreciate it. However, I'd like to ask, why only 7-11?
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Old Jul 28th, 2018, 11:15 PM
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Thank you for your suggestions! Really appreciate it!
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Old Jul 29th, 2018, 01:11 PM
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> why only 7-11?

It's a joke!!
When I was in Denver a couple years ago, I laughed when I saw a 7-11 next to a (completely legal, even for tourists) marijuana dispensary.
Great placement -- a store that sells munchies next to a store that causes people to want to buy munchies!
So I took a photo for an amusing juxtaposition.
My message was that, if you plan to drive, get "edibles" at a convenience or grocery store, NOT at a place like Euflora!
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Old Jul 30th, 2018, 03:50 AM
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I also find this statement very amusing "where not only it would be easier for us to find a decent hotel,"
I guess they are also willing to spend a couple of hundred dollars on their decent room!! LOL Using your computers you can book a motel/hotel online using booking.com or such when you are near where you want to stop. I am going to say that driving in the west is easy and fast and only driving 8 hours will make it even more boring.
En route to Denver on I70 they might take Route 9 at Silverthorne north to Kremmlling and route 34 to the west entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park. Drive through the Park, down the other side and visit Boulder and spend the night maybe.
I will suggest that in Denver you look online for a hotel down in the Tech Center area and take the light rail into Denver although parking and driving is not too difficult in that city IME
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Old Jul 30th, 2018, 09:00 PM
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We are big fans of Hotel.com app and the sub app, Hoteltonight.com When driving that is all we use. Second, we are just back from Chicago. I would avoid it. The traffic congestion is unbelievable. I swear every interstate in and around is under construction. We lived there prior to moving to Denver many years ago and it was bad then but mid-day was generally pretty good. Not now. If you want to visit Chicago get a cheap airfare some weekend and use public transit.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2018, 08:29 PM
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Most of those hotel apps have pretty much the same prices (as one another) except when you're bidding (in the dark) for rooms.

And the bidding works great when you can target approximately where you will (want to) BE that night.

But even when you're not 'bidding' for your room, the apps do afford the convenience of plotting locations and hotel prices on a map relative to where you are.

Ultimately, it is kinda rare when those apps actually save you *money* - instead you end up with nicer accommodations than you would likely have enjoyed, for a similar cost.

The Apps (Priceline/Hotwire/etc) ARE quite useful when on such a trip - it just doesn't matter that much which one you employ, except when you're bidding for your room.
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