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Aussie5 Mar 20th, 2017 06:16 AM

USA family tour
Hello, We are taking a family trip for about 6 weeks in July/ August 2017 from Toronto to Los Angeles and would like to get some advise and suggestions from locals if I can please. It is our first time doing the East coast and we are not from America. The itinerary so far Toronto, NYC, Washington, Harrisburg, Cherokee NP, Nashville, Memphis then from Memphis to Florida (not sure if you can suggest any good stops or places en-route 2 days to get there) Disney, Miami to New Orleans (open for suggestions for the route will break it somewhere) Houston then from there Las Vegas and Los Angeles. I am open for suggestions for this route we can take around 3-4 days to get from Houston to Las Vegas. I like the small roads not really the highways and accommodation any suggestions I like quirky bouquet hotels where I can and has to be child friendly . Thanks in advance.

tomfuller Mar 20th, 2017 06:37 AM

I doubt that you will be able to bring a Canadian rental car into the US. Take the Amtrak Maple Leaf from Toronto to New York. When you are done in NYC take the train to Washington.
Why do you want to visit Harrisburg PA?
You may want to rent your car in Richmond VA after seeing Washington.
Does your child require a booster seat or a car seat?

Aussie5 Mar 20th, 2017 08:05 AM

Thanks for your reply, we are looking at buying a car in the USA then selling it at the end we have friends in LA who we help us sell it. I want to visit the Amish area and buy a quilt and for some reason Harrisburg had a certain draw no idea why. My son would need a booster he is only 5 years other kids are older so no need. I will look into the train from Toronto to New York if we just rent the car in Canada. thanks

vincenzo32951 Mar 20th, 2017 08:31 AM

Forget Harrisburg. There's a reason you have no idea why it warrants a visit.

Aussie5 Mar 20th, 2017 08:40 AM

lol all seems to be negative for Harrisburg what about the nearby town of Ephrata to visit the Amash and the Indian Echo Caverns.

gmoney Mar 20th, 2017 10:14 AM


While there is certainly nothing wrong with Memphis/Nashville you might want to consider Williamsburg-Norfolk VA/Charleston SC/Savannah GA instead as it would save considerable drive time and are wonderful places to visit.

I live in Orlando so if you have any specific Disney questions I would be happy to try to offer advice.

tomfuller Mar 20th, 2017 11:30 AM

You can't buy a car in the US legally without some type of legal address within the US.
My style of travel is to take Amtrak to a city and then rent a car and make a loop and then go onward on another train.
Could you ride a train from Washington DC to Florida and then leave Florida and go back to Tennessee in a rental car?
From Houston to Las Vegas try a stop in Albuquerque New Mexico.
From Albuquerque to LV stop to see the south rim of the Grand Canyon an Hoover Dam.

vincenzo32951 Mar 20th, 2017 11:32 AM

Ephrata is in the heart of Amish country, so it's not a bad location if that's your focus for that part of the trip.

michelhuebeli Mar 20th, 2017 12:42 PM

Forget your car idea - for a number of reasons, all legal and insurmountable, nixing your "purchase/resell" scheme (lack of residency needed for purchase and registration, lack of valid documentation for insurance, and on and on).

Reschedule your geography to minimize one-way car rentals, they get costly.

If you have to do a one-way rental, make it between major metro areas or major airports.

Do you have a specific reason for Nashville? There is a lot of history in the region, see

There is the music, of course, but is it worth a trip? Pretty corny, unless you are someone who travels to Tamworth for their "cowboy" festivals (sorry, just the thought makes me chuckle, because I was there for work and saw it all...)

Happy trails!

suze Mar 20th, 2017 01:16 PM

Wouldn't skipping Toronto help? That way at least all the car rental would be within the USA.

Gretchen Mar 20th, 2017 02:14 PM

For an Amish quilt, there is a lot of country in PA that could yield one. I assume you know how valued they are from the point of view of price point. It's an investment in folk art. Harrisburg is far from where you want to be--Lancaster, Intercourse, etc. would be fruitful
"Cherokee NP" I assume is the Cherokee reservation near Asheville/Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
I would consider going from Toronto to Florida in some fashion, then over to NOLA and up to Memphis/Nashville.
Houston is a paved over piece of Texas real estate--why there. San Antonio has history, Austin is weird as they want it to be.

Sassafrass Mar 20th, 2017 08:19 PM

Gmoney is right about Williamsburg, Charleston and Savanah. All are fabulous and more interesting than some of your other choices.

brookquarry Mar 21st, 2017 02:52 AM

For quilts, go to the tourist website and click on 'LANCASTER QUILTS ' on the 'Where to shop dropdown menu"
Our favorite is Riehls, which is the largest Amish run shop, located on the familys farm.. They generally have over 100 quilts along with many other crafts.
Prices are not cheap but are usually less than the shops on the main highway (Route 340)
Closed Sunday, of course.

Aussie5 Mar 21st, 2017 05:43 AM

Thanks everyone food for thought and I will have a look at the other options suggested. Renting just seems such a waste of money, I may need to get my friends to buy a car for me.

BigRuss Mar 21st, 2017 07:23 AM

<<My style of travel is to take Amtrak to a city and then rent a car and make a loop and then go onward on another train.>>


Tom Fuller is a huge train fan and tries to inflict this concept upon everyone who rings in on the US board on Fodors. Amtrak is not Japan Rail - it is not on time, it is not efficient, it is not fast, it does not have high-speed rail, and it does not have a respectable level of dependability.

Outside the Boston-Washington DC corridor, travel by Amtrak is usually a poor substitute for any other method. Even flying from NYC to DC can be better because Amtrak's prices often suck (my oldies recently opted to fly out of LaGuardia Airport, the worst in the US, over a train to DC because the train was $500 RT per person and the flight was $125).

Your initial itinerary included doubling back, which is daft. You could easily go NYC to DC, fly to Orlando, drive to Miami, fly to New Orleans and make a circuit to Nashville to Memphis and back to New Orleans (especially along the river road to see the battlefields and plantation homes) then drive to Houston.

You need to realize that Las Vegas and Houston and New Orleans and Miami will absolutely suck in the summer. Miami, Houston and New Orleans will be 90+ degrees (that's 32C+) and about 90% humidity. Las Vegas will be 100+ (that's 38C+ - equivalent to Uluru in early February or the hottest days at the Aussie Open). If you think walking around those areas won't be pleasant, imagine taking 3-4 days to drive from Houston through the arid American southwest to Las Vegas (including the sweltering pits of southwestern Texas, southern New Mexico and Arizona). The national parks in those parts may be outstanding, but they're also basically frying pans during the day. We're from Dallas and accustomed to hot summers, but the baked plains of southwest Texas and cooked desert of Arizona are levels above what we get here.

So consider where you want to go and why.

michelhuebeli Mar 21st, 2017 12:00 PM

Sure, see if your friend in L.A. can lend you a car. Whether he technically "bought it for you" doesn't really matter, that's between him and you - he'll have to register it in his name. Meanwhile you can check with your insurance company to see if your policy can be amended to cover the trip, so you can show proof of insurance if required to do so. As a visitor you can drive on your Aussie license.

It may mean re-routing your itinerary, but since most flights from OZ first get into LAX, that shouldn't be too difficult.

tom_mn Mar 21st, 2017 12:53 PM

It's a completely different trip but staying in the northern third of the US is usually much cooler. It's one thing to suffer in the heat and humidity for a week but it's basically your whole trip. A native wouldn't do your itinerary, which should tell you something.

tom_mn Mar 21st, 2017 01:03 PM

Most of your destinations have Cairns/Darwin type mugginess if that helps, including DC and Houston and everything in between.

Also only a small number, like 20%, of the Amish still live in Pennsylvania. You will find large populations in Ohio and Indiana and also most states have some communities but don't know about the tourist infrastructure elsewhere.

brookquarry Mar 22nd, 2017 02:53 AM

Well, this is turning into an Amish discussion.
Lancaster County Pa and Holmes County Ohio have the best Amish tourist infrastructure. They also have the biggest Amish communities Both areas have about 35,000 Amish. both populations are growing, because of large familys.

Other states (upstate New York, Kentucky) have much faster growing Amish populations, because of new settlements- but because they are new, there is not yet much of a tourist industry- plus many Amish left Lancaster and Holmes county to get away from tourists and lead more separated lives.

Your best quilt selection- and best chance to interact with Amish people at their businesses would be Lancaster County, PA or Holmes County Ohio

Gretchen Mar 22nd, 2017 11:34 AM

With regard to hot and humid, these folks are from OZ--they KNOW hot and humid!! Just a thought. LOL
And to the "borrowing" of the car--be careful with the insurance as has been noted. Your friend could be liable also in the case of an accident.

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