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West Coast to East Coast Road Trip Suggestions and Advice

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Aug 4th, 2014, 04:11 AM
  #1
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West Coast to East Coast Road Trip Suggestions and Advice

G'day,

Thanks very much for your time.

An old college buddy and I want to take a one month driving holiday to the USA (we are from Australia).

We want to do a West coast to East coast trip.

Looking for advice and suggestions on what to visit in what states (we have a few basic ideas, such as Disneyland, Las Vegas, grand canyon etc), and even what hotels to stay in.

We're both aged early 40's.

Not looking for night clubs etc, but still, pretty much everything else.......unique things, things that are unique to America, that we won't find here in Australia.

What states are we thinking of ??..well..California, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida (fly out of Miami International).

Any, and all, advice, and suggestions, greatly appreciated.

Cheers,
Jeff
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Aug 4th, 2014, 06:38 AM
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What time of year?
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Aug 4th, 2014, 06:39 AM
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Sorry, meant to add a useful forum (on the competition's site, alas.) http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowForum...oad_Trips.html
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Aug 4th, 2014, 10:41 AM
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Check out http://www.roadsideamerica.com/ for sights that are certainly unique to America.

Lee Ann
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Aug 4th, 2014, 01:55 PM
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G'day Gardyloo.........time of year (sorry), would be December ~ January). And thanks for the URL.

ElendilPickle. Many kind thanks for the URL. Will check it out, in detail, after work this afternoon.

Much appreciated.
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Aug 4th, 2014, 02:13 PM
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"Not looking for night clubs etc, but still, pretty much everything else" for a trip across America. That's about as broad of a request as can be made. You'll get more responses if you do some more general research, first, and then come back with more specific questions.

Two easy ways to do some of the research is using the destination tab up top or the pull down "view by state" menu on this forum.
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Aug 4th, 2014, 03:14 PM
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December - January is our winter and you could run into snow and even road closures especially in Colorado. Nebraska, Missouri, Tennessee and Georgia get snow in the winter months too. Could you possibly come in late September - early October instead?

Utahtea
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Aug 4th, 2014, 04:03 PM
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So, this is how I would think about it.

You can drive west coast to east coast in five long days. You have 30. That gives you 5 days of sightseeing for each day of driving.

Southern California to Las Vegas

Las Vegas to Grand Canyon to Durango to Santa Fe

Santa Fe to New Orleans via Memphis and Mississippi Delta

New Orleans to Orlando via Gulf Coast

Orlando to Miami Beach via Naples and Everglades

You may have to make detours around snow, it will not be warm enough to swim anywhere until you get to Florida, and some (many?) attractions will be closed, but this covers a lot of very different country, much of it beautiful or at least interesting, and there won't be crowds until Orlando. You could see Disnetland in California and Disney World in FL. I wouldn't, but you could. There is a lot of interesting food on this route and some interesting places to stay.
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Aug 4th, 2014, 06:50 PM
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The problem with the desert southwest in the winter is altitude. The south rim of the Grand Canyon is over 7000 feet above sea level, and snow (and worse, icy roads) are not uncommon at all. You will need to be very careful during this part of your trip.

I would consider making music a big element in your drive. LA, obviously, then salsa and traditional Latino music as far as Texas, then Austin, up through Arkansas to Memphis for rock 'n roll and blues, then down through the Mississippi Delta for blues and gospel, NOLA and the bayou country for more blues and Zydeco, then maybe (weather and time permitting) a swing through Muscle Shoals before heading to Florida and all things Cuban and Caribbean. Could be fun.
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Aug 5th, 2014, 02:36 AM
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G'day again everyone,

Thanks, very much, for replying.

Early stages yet, of planning the trip, but some general questions, some more specific, below, if I could, please.

For example, lots of Driving, as this is, primarily a driving holiday...will be interesting to sit behind a steering wheel on the LEFT hand side of the car, and, driving on the right side of the road. Have to pay attention to speed limits. Are speed limits "set", or do different states have different speed limits ?.

Hotel chains..are there any good ones that people recommend ?.

Restaurants...I have to ask, as certainly a favorite here, are the Sizzler restaurants quite wide spread there ?.

We're at a cafe, restaurant, etc...Tips, are they expected ?, how much ?.

Another driving question...do you guys have toll roads over yonder ? (we do, but usually only in major cities).

Travelling in Oz, you know what climates to expect. Say we make our trip during late September to early October, ballpark range, what sort of day time, and night time temps to expect, in different states ?

Please forgive me if my geography is not 100% accurate......so here goes....places, initial ones, to visit, include........

California ; honestly, open to any and all suggestions here

Nevada ; Las Vegas, is the Hoover Dam in Nevada also ?

Arizona ; The Grand Canyon

Missouri ;like to catch a baseball game..St. Louis the place for this ?.......

What else ?, well things like taking in a drive-in movie.......are there any massive book stores ?, and massive shopping centers ?.....maybe take a train journey somewhere.......any cable-cars high up in mountain areas....what about underground tours / caverns etc.....love to do a day of fishing.....

Kind thanks in advance,
Jeff
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Aug 5th, 2014, 08:31 AM
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okay, I'll answer this first lot.

For example, lots of Driving, as this is, primarily a driving holiday...will be interesting to sit behind a steering wheel on the LEFT hand side of the car, and, driving on the right side of the road. Have to pay attention to speed limits. Are speed limits "set", or do different states have different speed limits ?.

Different states have different limits and some are more serious than others about enforcing them. Ask locally. Most states have a welcome center near the border where you can ask other drivers. All states are fierce on wandering out of your lane or weaving through traffic.

Hotel chains..are there any good ones that people recommend ?.

Most people belong to one or more affinity groups and collect points toward free lodging by staying in the properties of one of the chains, often Hilton or Marriott. A step below would be the Comfort Inn group, below that Motel 6 or Scottish Inns. Local authorities often house homeless families in less expensive motels. Look for the signs (old cars, lots of kids running around) before stopping.

Restaurants...I have to ask, as certainly a favorite here, are the Sizzler restaurants quite wide spread there ?.

There is a Sizzler chain, but I am not sure it is your Sizzler chain. Do you have Outback Steakhouse? We do! Food is cheap in the US and seeking out local places with local food is one of the joys of traveling here. Be aware that alcohol ranges from non-existent (Indian reservations) to weak (Oklahoma or Utah without going to a lot of trouble) to cheap, powerful and ubiquitous in Las Vegas or New Orleans. n O is the home of the 'carry cup', a pint of rum punch you drink on the street so you don't faint before reaching the next bar.

We're at a cafe, restaurant, etc...Tips, are they expected ?, how much ?.

15% on the bill before tax. 20% in large cities at higher end places. More at the very best places for very good service.

Another driving question...do you guys have toll roads over yonder ? (we do, but usually only in major cities).

Oh, yes, and they are an enormous pain. Some only accept cash, some only accept transponders, some take both. There is no single nationwide transponder. Florida and Texas are notorious for toll roads that photograph your license and send you a citation later. Sometimes your credit card will charge you for giving your name and address to the authorities, just like Europe. Sometimes they charge fees for a transponder for your rental car that accrues charges every day, whether you use it or not. A minefield.

That is a start
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Aug 5th, 2014, 08:55 AM
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Speed limits - yes they vary a lot. Highway limits vary by state and when you get to cities they are often lower. Also off the highways the limits are often much lower (can be 20 mph in school zones, etc) And there are some places with speed traps where state troopers just wait for people coming off major highways and pull over car after car after care.

If you come in Dec/Jan you can run into bad weather in many places. Be sure you are listening to local weather radio to know what may be coming - since every year we get major blizzards and (further south) ice storms - which can close highways for a day or more - depending on how bad they are.

Assuming you have no experience driving in ice or snow do NOT attempt it. It;s a whole different skill and if you don;t know how it's very easy to lose control of the car. If possible get a car with 4 wheel drive or at least front wheel drive. Rear wheel drive is fatal in ice or snow.
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Aug 5th, 2014, 01:50 PM
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Say we make our trip during late September to early October, ballpark range, what sort of day time, and night time temps to expect, in different states ?

For the southern areas, probably the best weather of the year. Highs in the high teens to high 20s C depending on where and altitude, lows in the mountains can get close to freezing, but shirtsleeves from Texas east. Rain happens.

Please forgive me if my geography is not 100% accurate......so here goes....places, initial ones, to visit, include........

California ; honestly, open to any and all suggestions here


Late summer and early autumn - well, really, most times these days - is fire season in the mountains and foothills, so I'd stay close to the coast. The San Francisco - Los Angeles coastal route (including the Monterey Peninsula and Big Sur coast) is a classic road trip venue. Do NOT opt for a convertible Mustang no matter how strong the impulse. Resist.

Nevada ; Las Vegas, is the Hoover Dam in Nevada also ?

Yes, an enjoyable day trip from Las Vegas. You didn't ask, but if you come in September-October, a couple of the "red rock" national parks in southern Utah, Zion and Bryce Canyon, are quite close (a few hours) from Las Vegas, and will provide a stark contrast with the glitz. Very high altitude, so not appropriate in the Dec/Jan time frame.

Arizona ; The Grand Canyon and so much more... Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelly, Sedona... a feast of options. Again higher altitudes will be problematic in midwinter.

Missouri ;like to catch a baseball game..St. Louis the place for this ?....

The baseball season wraps up at the end of September with playoffs and the World Series (championship) occurring in October. If you're making landfall in California, I'd attend a baseball game in either the LA or SF Bay area (or San Diego) because by the time you get to the midwest or east, it might be all over. Getting tickets for playoff games is extremely hard and expensive. There are 2 major league teams in both the LA and SF areas, one in San Diego, one in Seattle (should you choose to head north) and one in Phoenix. After that, the next state with major league ball is Texas. And in Texas this year, "major league" is sort of a misnomer...

What else ?, well things like taking in a drive-in movie.......are there any massive book stores ?, and massive shopping centers ?.....maybe take a train journey somewhere.......any cable-cars high up in mountain areas....what about underground tours / caverns etc.....love to do a day of fishing.....

Drive-in movies are exceeding scarce these days - http://www.driveintheater.com/drivlist.htm

Massive bookstores - also scarce thanks to Amazon. A few in big cities; best to consult the Goog.

Shopping centers - Many. A big hit with overseas visitors are "outlet malls" where big brand names (Nike, Levis, Ralph Lauren et al) sell "directly" to the shoppers. They're everywhere.

Trains - you might look for historic steam lines in tourist areas - http://traintraveling.com/usa/touris...des/index.html

Cable cars - one that comes to mind is spectacular, in Palm Springs outside LA - http://www.pstramway.com/ Palm Springs is a very cool mid-century relic that's surprisingly affordable and very close to Joshua Tree National Park, one of the country's less-visited but spectacular locations (IMO.) Especially if you choose the Dec/Jan alternative, PS and vicinity is a terrific option.

Caverns - The granddaddy is right on your (potential) route - http://www.nps.gov/cave/index.htm

Fishing - California or Florida, lots of options. Or maybe head out into the Louisiana bayous and try not to become gator bait...
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Aug 5th, 2014, 04:02 PM
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There are a ton of malls - many large ones - but the biggest - Mall of America (MN) and Roosevelt Field (NY) are not near your route.

Pick out any route and you will find some malls although it may not be really large ones.
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Aug 5th, 2014, 05:38 PM
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> what about underground tours / caverns etc

Excellent ones in Southeast Arizona:
http://www.visitarizona.com/places-t...rns-state-park

Best to book in advance, it's popular.

And of course, in southern New Mexico:
http://www.nps.gov/cave/index.htm

These are good options in case the weather forces you southward.

Not far from Kartchner are the old West towns of Tombstone and Bisbee. Both have good mine tours which take you underground.
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractio...e_Arizona.html

http://www.queenminetour.com/

Tombstone is site of the famous 1881 "Gunfight at the OK Corral". Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday and the Clantons. You can do your pretrip planning by watching a bunch of old western movies!
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Aug 6th, 2014, 03:15 AM
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For underground, go to Carlsbad Caverns in sw New Mexico and Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, both are National parks and are very large and quite different from each other. You can sign up for ranger led hikes in them. If you go to more than a couple of National parks on the trip, get a park pass for $80 which gets everyone in the car into all National Parks, Historic Sites, National Monuments, etc. for free and is good for a year.
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