East coast - Where to start? And finish? And go in the middle?
Replies: 18 - Last Post: Jan 10, 2013 1:16 AM Last Post By: eager2travel
Jan 8, 2013 1:12 PM
East coast - Where to start? And finish? And go in the middle?After the most amazing west coast road trip last summer, we're looking to do something equally amazing on the East Coast (ish) but are struggling with planning! On the west coast we spend 3.5 weeks travelling from San Francisco to Las Vegas. We had a car for 2.5 weeks and stayed in a lot of HI hostels and cheapy motels. We loved the whole thing but especially the combination of cities (SF, LA, Vegas), doing active things in beautiful surroundings (biking in SF and Napa, hiking in Yosemite) and chilling on the beach. And the food, everywhere, all of it!
Now we'd like to do a similar thing on the East Coast (ish) for 4 weeks starting from late July in 2013. I have literally no idea where to start though... do we want to start from Boston and head south and if so where do you get in 4 weeks? Or do we even want to do something like start in Houston and finish in Miami (I know, I know, this isn't an east coast road trip!). The budget is neither the most important thing or endless but we aren't hugely bothered about posh hotels, classy restaurants or to renting a car (hostels, food courts and megabus are fine).
If anyone can has anyone ideas that might fulfil my annoyingly vague criteria I'd love to hear them!
Jan 8, 2013 1:28 PM
1Well, the prime city tour will take you 2-2.5 weeks and would include the following, all via public transit (Boltbus, Megabus, Gotobus.com):
Boston - 3 days
NYC - 5-6 days (keep in mind that accommodations here tend to be expensive, even at hostels)
Philly - 2-3 days
Washington DC - 3 days
So this leaves you with about 1.5 more weeks to spend somewhere. I wouldn't consider Houston at all - why? Here are some potential options:
- Exploring cute towns and nature in Vermont, Maine and Rhode Island by car
- Flying to Charleston and driving down the coast seeing Charleston, Savannah, Miami, the Everglades and Key West (weather in July is not great - humid and hot and hurricane season, but you expressed interest in Florida)
- Flying to New Orleans and exploring that city + Nashville and Memphis to see something different in terms of culture in the US (once again, not the best weather in July, but doable)
Jan 8, 2013 2:16 PM
2I don't know what your interest are but:
I would start in Boston, be prepared to take a tour bus to some of its great side-locations.
Then use public transport for
Switch to a car
See a plethora of historic locations in Eastern Virginia
Try to think of where to stop in N. Carolina
Savannah GA (I think)
Beach in Fl ear a major airport (Miami?)
That's 8 towns, plus a bunch of little locations in VA in 28 days.
Hmm, I'd better cut something.
Jan 8, 2013 4:53 PM
3You say you liked the mix of cities and outdoors activities on your west coast trip and would be interested in something similar for tor the east coast. You say you are travelling in late July through August for four weeks starting in Boston.
To accomodate those interests I'd spend at least a day at Cape Cod National Seashore while in Boston. Then south from Boston to New York City for at least a couple days. After that on to Washington DC for at least three days. After that, lots of possibilities, but a good one would be going through the Shenandoah Valley just south of Washington DC and up into the Blue Ridge Parkway. After that, head southeast to Nags Head on the North Carolina coast for some nice beach time (you'll need to book accomodations here way ahead of time).
If you need to fly out of Boston, you could return by a different route.
Also bear in mind the east coast has a longer colonial history than the west coast, so there are things in the east not found in the west. No snow-capped mountains or vast deserts, but there are fascinating civil war parks like Gettysburg for example. Also preserved Colonial towns like Williamsburg Virginia, Savannah Georgia, Charleston South Carolina and the downtown section of Annapolis Maryland.
Also, the Atlantic Ocean on the east coast is warm, so you can actually swim in it unlike the Pacific along the west coast.
Jan 8, 2013 5:15 PM
4I'd add Portland, Maine; it's a really interesting little city these days, with little islands just offshore that you can take a ferry to on a sunny summer day, good coffee/pizza/beer, an interesting food scene, etc. The Maine coast is also just gorgeous in the summer, and I'd much rather be up there in the summer than down in steamy Charleston (or even here in DC).
Jan 8, 2013 6:11 PM
5#4 alludes to the issues of heat and humidity... I would terminate the tour In Ashville ...Florida for a future trip... Then head out to the shore and go back North...carracar
Jan 8, 2013 6:43 PM
6Be aware that the beaches on the east coast will be extremely popular in any area reasonably close to a major city. So basically any beach from Cape Cod south through the Outer Banks.
I would definitely visit Acadia. Portland is a nice stop for a day along the way.
After, turn west and tour the mountains of NH and VT, then follow the Hudson to NYC. That should be about a week, week and a half.
Jan 8, 2013 7:21 PM
7If you're married to the July - August timing, I would suggest starting south and working your way up, whatever you decide to do. Because I'm not sure where you're from, but East Coast humidity at that time of year is no joke, and it gets worse the farther south you go and the later you get into the summer.
Otherwise, the world (or at least that part of it) is your oyster. If you want a 'theme' to your trip, there are loads to chose from. Colonial/Revolutionary/Civil War/'Native' history, food, hiking (you could do parts of the Appalachian Trail in multiple states), beaches (including less populous barrier islands), big cities and small one-stop-sign towns and everything in between, music, the list goes on. Have fun planning it, though!
Jan 8, 2013 9:41 PM
8Houston and Miami will be extremely humid in July and August. You can cover major sites/cities between Boston to DC. Alternatively, consider some areas in US Northeast + Canada. Montreal is a great place to be in July.
Jan 8, 2013 11:44 PM
9Wow, lots of replies and lots to think about, thank you! I wonder whether it might be a good idea to go:
New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville (around 8 days for the 3) - with a car?
2 days Washington DC - is flying the only option? I can't seem t find Nashville - DC train or bus... Is driving a mad idea?
2 days Baltimore
3 days Philadelphia
3 days NY
Which leaves 10 days - maybe 3 in Boston and then another 3 exploring around Boston (Cape Cod and Portland?)
Flying back from Boston
A good 4 days to be allocated somewhere else, I guess that's v city heavy so maybe somewhere with a bit of hiking?
Obviously this doesn't include Florida, but I wonder whether that's one to save for another trip - perhaps a shorter one when we have kids!
Jan 9, 2013 4:28 AM
10I would take the 5 days from Baltimore and Philadelphia and spend them in Montreal and Quebec City...going from Acadia to Quebec to Montreal through Vermont and New Hampshire (lots of hiking there) to Boston. Actually...you need more time in Washington and NYC too.
20 days, then, after New Orleans/Memphis/Nashville?
3 days DC
4 days NYC
3 days Montreal
2 days Quebec City
2 days to get to Acadia
3 days Acadia
---or use those 5 days in Quebec's Eastern Townships, Vermont, and New Hampshire
1 day Portland
2 days Boston
Jan 9, 2013 5:32 AM
The bus is Greyhound. Or, with a bit more patience, Megabus, but you have to buy two separate tickets, one to Knoxville, then to DC.
The drive takes a day, and that's if you really like to drive (665 miles, or 1070 km). Any stops are extra.
I would probably modify it to be something like this (modifying #10 a bit):
3 Days New Orleans
2 days drive to Nashville along the Natchez Trace.
1.5 days Nashville.
Half day to Memphis, then 1 day there.
Fly to DC.
3 days DC.
4 days NYC.
3 days Montreal.
2 days Quebec City.
1 day to get to Acadia.
3 days Acadia.
1 day Portland.
3 days Boston.
Instead of Quebec City, you could cut down through Vermont and New Hampshire, say, Burlington and Franconia Notch, or thereabouts, with the "day to Acadia" being use to add to the time there.
Jan 9, 2013 5:33 AM
Jan 9, 2013 6:23 AM
I grew up outside Phila., and currently reside outside NYC. Unless you are adding a side trip 2 (Valley Forge, Washington's Crossing, Atlantic City) 2 days in Phila. is sufficient.)
The best hiking in the NYC area is in the Hudson Valley/Catskills. I have frequently recommended Bear Mountain, (which also has a quaint little reservoir where locals go picnicking, canoeing etc.) for beg./avg. hikers, and Breakneck Ridge for in-shape athletes.
Both are near West Point NY. They are easy day-trips from NYC but I'm confident motels there are cheaper than NC hotels.
Jan 9, 2013 9:07 AM
14Driving Nashville to DC isn't mad. I actually think it's a really pretty area of the country, and if you wanted to take 2 or 3 of your 4 spare days and hike a bit along the way, there are some really great spots. (Also, it's mountains, so much less humid.) Not sure you need 2 days in Baltimore; I second making it 3 in DC and 1 in B'more, but that's just me. (I live in Maryland, an hour south of DC and an hour and a half south of B'more, and I always get my 'city fix' in the District, so I'm a bit biased, I suppose.) If you drive from Nashville, return the rental in DC and you can Amtrak the rest of the way.
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