West Coast and East Coast Road Trip
Replies: 8 - Last Post: Apr 22, 2012 2:10 PM Last Post By: bluesun6868
Apr 20, 2012 3:27 AM
West Coast and East Coast Road TripHello,
I'm new on the boards, and have spent the last few days reading some of the great trip advice here. Now I have one question of my own...
I am traveling to the US for three weeks this fall with my boyfriend and my parents. We arrive in Denver on October 1 and depart from New York on October 24 - other than that, our plans are still somewhat open. Our initial plan is to spend a little over a week in the West, a little less than a week in the East (excl. New York), and one week in NYC.
We will be spending two nights in Denver and then renting a car, planning to drive in one looong day through the Rocky Mountains National Park (via Estes Park) to Salt Lake City - weather permitting via the Trail Ridge Road, but I'm hoping early October is still fine. From Salt Lake City, we'd drive to San Francisco - probably via Ely and Reno, but this is still up to discussion. We hope to spend one full day in San Francisco and then drive down the coast to Los Angeles and possibly San Diego, spending a night or two along the way:
October 1: Arrive in Denver
Oct 2: Denver
Oct 3: Drive to Salt Lake City
Oct 4: Salt Lake City and surrounding areas (any places you recommend us to visit?)
Oct 5: Drive to Ely
Oct 6: Drive to Reno/Virginia City/Carson City
Oct 7: Drive by South Lake Tahoe and spend the night somewhere outside San Francisco
Oct 8: San Francisco
Oct 9: Drive to Pismo Beach/Santa Barbara
Oct 10: Los Angeles (most of us have been here before, so this is mostly just to visit Hollywood for the ones who haven't)
Oct 11: San Diego OR fly to the East Coast from LAX
(Oct 12: Fly from San Diego/LAX)
From here, we're thinking about flying to Nashville, TN - after which our itinerary is still quite open. One idea is to drive via the Smoky Mountains National Park to the coast (Outer Banks), take the ferry to Cape Hatteras and drive all the way up to Virginia Beach and then continue to Washington DC. The only problem with this plan is that I can see the route is closer to 2000 km (and includes ferry rides), and I'm therefore thinking about possibly leaving the coast for another trip and traveling to DC via some shorter route this time. However, unlike California, none of us is really familiar with the area south of DC, and some ideas here would be more than welcome.
What we would like to see on this trip are some big towns (this is already covered by Denver, San Francisco, Nashville, New York, DC, etc.) and some natural beauty (Rocky Mountains National Park and the coast in California) - but more than anything else, we'd like to visit small, rural, non-touristy towns and countryside. I was wondering if anyone can suggest a nice, scenic route (though preferably no long stretches of fir forest, as we see plenty of this back home... ;)) from Nashville to Washington DC that would lead us through some small towns or villages and be doable in a few days. As much as possible, we'd like to avoid interstates and drive on smaller back roads. This could be via Kentucky and West Virginia, or along the coast via the Carolinas and Virginia. Since most of us have been there before, we only hope to spend two nights/one full day in Washington DC.
I am hoping to pin together an itinerary so that we arrive in New York on October 17, driving in one day from Washington DC. The itinerary for the East Coast would look something like this and is flexible by a day or two:
Oct 11/12: arrive in Nashville
Oct 13: Nashville - leave in the afternoon and drive maybe 300 km or so
Oct 14: ?
Oct 15: Arrive in DC
Oct 16: DC
Oct 17: Drive to New York via Lancaster (or some other route via the Amish country)
Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated. :-) Of course, any comments or tips on our west coast leg are also more than welcome!
Apr 20, 2012 4:05 AM
Apr 20, 2012 4:18 AM
2The first thing I suggest is to book flights from xDenver to xSan Francisco.
That'll save you 4-5 days to actually enjoy your trip, rather than spend so much time driving. (Your route is about 1300 miles, or about 2100 km. That's about the equivalent of driving xMadrid to xHamburg.)
With your newfound freedom, spend a couple days in xSF, then drive to xYosemite NP for a couple days (book lodging NOW), before heading back to the coast for a couple days.
For your eastern end:
Oct 11: arrive in xNashville
Oct 13: xNashville - drive to xGatlinburg (book ahead; foliage season is busy)
Oct 14: xSmokies - end in xAsheville
Oct 15: Arrive in DC
Oct 16: DC
Oct 17: DC
Oct 18: Drive to xNew York via xLancaster
(Yes, I stole a xNYC day. You should.)
Skip the "small, rural, non-touristy towns." They are mostly non-descript and not worth your time.
Btw, xLancaster is one of the definitions of "touristy." But you're a toursit; revel in it.
Apr 20, 2012 4:31 AM
3I third the comments above regarding the west coast part of your trip.
As I was reading your itinerary I kept referring back to your first paragraph and wondering if you planned on spending three weeks between Denver and LA / San Diego. That's what it would take to do what you have listed with any degree of fun and comfort.
Apr 20, 2012 5:29 AM
4As others have said, the west coast leg is impossible unless you plan on staying in the car and eating from drive-through hamburger joints. Far better to fly Denver to either Los Angeles or San Francisco and base you visit out fo there renting and returning the car there. L.A. has the Univesrsal sStudios tour, Disneyland, Venice Beach, Hollywood and some nice hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains. San Francicso has redowwods, Chinatown, the Bay, Mt. Tamulipas, and Carmel/Monterey for overnighters.
The east coast is somewhat better but still rushed - you easily spend a week just in the Washington DC area. Near DC is the B&O canal hike & bike trail on the upper Potamac River for some beautiful scenery. There are civil war battlefield parks (Gettysburg) and a colonial state capitol (Annapolis) not to mention DC itself with the Smithsonian, Capitol building tours, Ford's theatre (where Lincoln as assasinated), the Natioinal Gallery of Art andthe Kenndy Center for performing arts. Then there is the magnificent Chesapeak Bay for an overnight trip (Easton or Choptank and Black Water Wildlife Refuge).
Apr 20, 2012 7:31 AM
Apr 21, 2012 9:56 AM
6Agree with #2 very strongly. My husband is a musician and i've toured a bit w him across the USA, the magic of driving around in the dark, lost, with a GPS that doesn't understand how highways work wears of quickly. FLY to SF!!!
Edited by: jujuvoodoo
Apr 22, 2012 8:35 AM
7I concur with most of the above with a slight deviation. I recommend you fly from Denver to Reno/Tahoe International Airport. Then spend a day or two on possibly the most beautiful (high country) lake you'll ever see, Lake Tahoe. The beauty is worth your time. You can then drive to San Francisco in about 5-6 hours (I've done it under five). Spend three days in SF enjoying the Fisherman's Wharf, Golden Gate Bridge and Park, Chinatown, and the beautiful city itself.
At this point I STRONGLY recommend spending at least two of your valuable days in Yosemite National Park. Easily my favorite place in North America for its true natural beauty and easy accessibility from major population centers in the West. As was said you need to make arrangements ASAP as everyone knows how special this place is.
Next your on to Los Angeles, many have suggested a good itinerary and you should already be reviewing your LP every week to work out every angle of this trip. Head south to Orange County and hit up relaxing Huntington Beach and Anaheim. Take in some excellent restaurants, beaches and maybe Disneyland!
Denver, Tahoe, SF, Yosemite, L.A. and Orange County this gives you a very solid western trip. Of course we can substitute many places and change just about everything but being a native Californian I feel confident that you would leave the West with a lot of excitement for a return engagement!
Apr 22, 2012 2:10 PM
8Rocky Mountain National Park has closed (the road) the very day I planned to visit in both of the last two years. I think both were in September but am not certain now.
"For the most up-to-date information on the status of Trail Ridge Road call our recorded status line, 970-586-1222."
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