East Coast Roadtrip NY-Memphis & Miami
Replies: 16 - Last Post: Oct 8, 2012 8:16 AM Last Post By: StanInMaryland
Oct 2, 2012 4:20 AM
East Coast Roadtrip NY-Memphis & MiamiHello!
I've read a bunch of other roadtrips on Lonely Planet concerning the East Coast and they are all a bit different.
So I hope I can get some feedback on the trip me and a friend of mine are planning.
First of all, I will give some more information about ourselves and our trip:
- we're 2 guys from Belgium and 25 years old
- interested in culture, nature (national parks, scenic roads), need-to-see statues or buildings, funny little places or towns, good places for food, a little bit of partying, ones-in-a-lifetime-things-to-do in the USA and so on....
- time: from 4 November untill 17-18 November.
- we will already be in New York from 25 Oktober till 4 November because we know people who live there.
Our planned trip:
- New York (10days, after these days it will be 4 November and the start of our roadtrip)
- Washington (rent a car)
- Front Royal ( to begin with the start of the Skyline Drive)
- visit Shenandoah Park
- Waynesboro ( go back from Charlottesville to start the whole Blue Ridge Parkway Drive)
- Great Smokey Mountains
- Cleveland ( Rock'n & Roll Hall of Fame museum)
- Chattanooga ( biggest aquarium in the world -> worth visiting?)
- Jackson (worth visiting?)
Then fly from Memphis to Miami. Leave our rented car from Washington.
- Miami ( rent a car)
- Key West
- Miami (go back to catch our plane to NY)
New York -> Home
Do you guys think this is a reasonable roadtrip taking into account of the amount of available days? (14days)
Are there any stops we most definitely have to make along our journey? Little towns, places to visit, ... ?
Did I forgot some really great places? Let me know!
Do we also need an international drivers license or is our drivers license from Belgium ok? I thought this would suffice.
And last but not least, how much time should we have to spend in each of the cities, places to see, ... ?
Thanks in advance for all the given feedbacks.
Oct 2, 2012 4:52 AM
1That's a lot to pack into 14 days. Cleveland is well out of the way and I think you'll need to cut it. And I think you'll still be overlong even then.
Skylne Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway are beautiful, but considerably slower than the parallel, less scenic interstate. So be prepared to cut over to the interstate once you've had your fill of the ridge roads. The need-to-see buildings near Charlottesville are Monticello and (not as key) the rotunda at the University of Virginia.
Election Day here is Tues. Nov. 6; you should be able to find both parties and wakes in D.C. Hint: the victory parties will have better music, the wakes will have fancier food (at least Nate Silver says there's now an 85% chance it'll work out that way). Nov. 5 maybe visit Baltimore's Inner Harbor and excellent aquarium, then skip Chattanooga later.
Oct 2, 2012 4:56 AM
2Cleveland doesn't fit. Certainly not where you have it in your list and not really at all in your road trip.
In Charlottesville see Montecelo (Thomas Jefferson's home)
Skyline Drive/Blue Ridge Parkway is a beautiful drive but it is also a fairly slow drive. You might consider hopping off at some point and doing some interstate highway. Much less scenic but much faster considering your available days.
Oct 2, 2012 5:14 AM
This is your route on a map, roughly (I can't add all the points to keep you on the BRP due to Google's limitations). It's roughly 2800 miles (4500 km). That's roughly the same distance as Porto to Moscow. Tack on the BRP detour, and you're driving farther.
I'd consider this rough route instead.
That will take your entire 14 days. If your time in xMiami is included in this, I'd skip it (based on your interests). If you absolutely must go, end at xNashville.
You will note that it does not get you onto the BRP until fairly far south. That is to save time.
Since you are into food, I'll include this link. I like Breaux and Barboursville.
Oct 3, 2012 12:56 AM
4From a fellow Belgian: your Belgian drivers permit will be fine, as long as it is a recent one (European model with all the different European languages on it) - but considering your age, this shouldn't be a problem.
I am aware that some rental agreements may require an international drivers permit, but over the last 2 decades I have rented cars with different companies in the US and was never asked for an IDP (I never had one either).
Fully agree with above posters on distances involved - even if you like driving, you are taking on too much.
Just some food for thought: the Blue Ridge Parkway is 469 miles (755 km) and the speed limits are between 25 and 45 mph. You do the math.
Have fun !
Oct 3, 2012 6:32 AM
5@ tiltedflipcurves, StanInMaryland, bzookaj & lilyramone: first of all, thanks for your feedback!
Also, I meant Jackson & Cleveland as in the little towns you pass when going from the Smokey Mountains to Nashville.
Clearly Cleveland & Jackson (the big cities) are not on our route. So we can forget Rock'n Roll Hall of Fame museum.
It will be for another time.
The route bzookaj suggested is the one we already made up. It will probably be best if we cut Memphis if we want a decent stay in Miami. I only took Memphis in our route because I thought there were only direct flights from Memphis and not Nashville, but I was wrong.
During the Skylne Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway it'll probably be best indeed if we cut a bit and drive on the intersection. But then my question is: what are the best parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway? I'm sure the entire bit from ashville to the Smokey Mountains are great. Also bzookaj, Barboursville looks very nice! ;)
@tiltedflipcurves: is there anything special to know about the parties or wakes of both political parties? do you need tickets? only Americans? Free food? :)
Also thanks for the info about the drivers permit. I think my Belgian drivers permit will do.
Some other questions:
- what are the best American everyday-beers? (know that we Belgians have high standards, no offense ^^)
- what are the places we will spend the most time? Smokey Mountains, Washington and Nashville probably?
- is Asheville a nice place to spend the night?
- is Virginia natural bridge worth the visit?
Greets and thanks!
Oct 3, 2012 7:08 AM
6As to beer, no offense taken. Most of what might be called "everyday beers" in the US are not very good however in the last decade or so many good small breweries have started. As a matter of fact last weekend I went to a beer event with about 200 beers available and many were from breweries within a hundred or so miles of Washington DC. Try to find bars that specialize in this type of beer and describe what kind of beer you like to the bartender.
Oct 4, 2012 4:15 AM
7@ StanInMaryland : I found this bar in Washington, seems nice to try out some American beers. They will probably have some of the beers you've tasted. http://www.churchkeydc.com/
@ bzookaj : I'm not saying all our beers are the best, but we sure as hell do like our beers and have a big history on beers. I'll be sure to try some of your suggested beers. In any case, their names are pretty funny. ;) Also thanks for the tips concerning the time you can spend in each city. Asheville seems quite nice, as do Harpers Ferry. I hope it is possible to stay in cabins in the Smokey Mountains. If not, we can always stay in Asheville like you said. And concerning the Natural Bridge Of Virginia, we will probably decide on the moment itself. And Foamhenge seems quite boring in my opinion. :)
Oct 4, 2012 4:23 AM
8#5 re Nov. 6: Well, there's this:
"JOHN F. KENNEDY CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS...
November 6, 2012 - 6:00pm
Who will win? We don't know, so why not join the jazz party and spend Election Night with Jason Moran & The Bandwagon? Welcoming those of all political stripes, the Kennedy Center presents a free Election Night Jam, complete with large-screen monitoring of the election results. Dance the night away regardless of whether your candidate wins or loses. Moran is prepared to deliver a night of "joyful delirium"
But if the folks inside 1600 Pennsylvania are celebrating, there'll probably be something spontaneous outside too.
Oct 4, 2012 4:55 AM
Oct 5, 2012 2:30 PM
10Your trip is equilivent to a cross country trip from New York to San Francisco. Scratch Cleveland and buy some CD's instead. Since you will be in Washington hit the aquarium there and skip Chattanooga. No trip to the south is complete without a day/night in New Orleans, great food, music, and Bourbon St. partying. I recommend driving from Memphis to New Orleans then fly to Miami. The Keys are awsome where land meets water. Take an air boat tour of the Everglades (beware of aligators and snakes) they love plump Belgium boys.
For my taste 150 miles in the mountains is enough, after that it is just more hairpin turns and riding the brakes.
The distances between your towns stops are rather long, but there are rest stops all along the interstate highway system where you can pull in sleep in your car, wash your face, buy a soft drink and relax for a few hours.
Remember, don't drink and drive, and don't sleep and drive, we want your money not your life.
Have a great trip, take more pictures than you think necessary, you can always delete them later.
Oct 5, 2012 2:48 PM
Oct 5, 2012 7:32 PM
12Gingerman, Rattle N Hum, Pony Bar and Blind Tiger are some bars in NYC with excellent beer selections.
Some popular beers local to NYC: Brooklyn Lager, Bluepoint Toasted Lager, Captain Lawrence Pale Ale, Sixpoint Sweet Action, Southern Tier IPA, Greenport Harbor Ale. All of these breweries also brew many other styles of beer that are less commonly found.
Other popular brewers from other areas of the country that are pretty widely available in NYC include Stone, Rogue, Founders, Sierra Nevada, Smuttynose, Dogfish Head. There's really a ton of brewers making excellent beer in the US these days, very little of it is exported though.
There are even a couple of popular breweries that focus on Belgian style beers. Ommegang from upstate NY works with Duvel. Another one is Allagash.
Oct 7, 2012 7:30 AM
13@99 dragons: We would very much like to go to New Orleans. We know it is one of the must see places. But there is simply not enough time. And if we have to chose between Miami & New Orleans, we choose Miami. We want to see the Keys, the swamps, alligators, ... And we will most definitely take more pictures then necessary ;)
@ACommonLoon: We will certainly hit the bars in NY, Washington and all the others along our way. Thanks for all the tips and the different beers! ;)
I just have another question. I know it might sound stupid to you guys, but are tourists able to go shooting? Just in some closed range and shoot some weapons? Is it expensive? It's just, what better place to shoot some guns than in the United States? ;)
Oct 7, 2012 7:42 AM
Speaking of beer, you can get a taste of New Orleans by drinking "funny name" brews like Turbodog or Purple Haze, both by Abita. Look up "microbeweries " or "artisanal"/"artisan" beer/breweries if you want to tour local breweries during your travels. And at bars, be sure to ask if they serve any local beers.
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