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Starting to plan RT Aug'18 East coast, Boston, W DC..ideas?

Belgium
Level Contributor
76 posts
Starting to plan RT Aug'18 East coast, Boston, W DC..ideas?

HI, Family of 4 (kids under 12), thinking of spending 2-3weeks in Aug on a road trip starting on the East coast (most likely landing JFK, flights not booked yet).

We have been reading through the TA posts and it is clear that we would not want a car for large cities like Boston or NYC, however we would ideally do the following:

-land JFK or Boston

-2-3 days exploring city

-rent car, tour ....this is where we need ideas!

-return car in NYC or Boston

-fly out

We are interested in some historical sites (children friendly), but also nature and ideally would love to alternate busy sightseeing days with more relaxing days.

Have looked at 2 potential routes: Boston-Cape cod-white mountains, or Boston/NYC/Washington. Is there a way to combine the 2, or is this unrealistic? We would rather choose to skip stops than have an exhausting trip.

Any suggestions or pointers to previous trip reports are welcome ,,,

thanks

29 replies to this topic
Lewes, United...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
25,893 posts
38 reviews
1. Re: Starting to plan RT Aug'18 East coast, Boston, W DC..ideas?

Yes, it's possible to combine the cities and the road trip.

Logic suggests this might be more easily achieved if you fly to either Washington, DC or Boston and back from the other. Do DC to Boston via NYC using public transport and add the road trip out of Boston at start or finish, depending on which way round you do the rest of it.

SWT

Long Island, NY
Level Contributor
576 posts
35 reviews
2. Re: Starting to plan RT Aug'18 East coast, Boston, W DC..ideas?

SWT is right on the money. Fly into DC, then take the Amtrak train up to NYC and further to Boston. In Boston, you can rent a car for a short road trip of New Hampshire and Western Maine or drive down south to Cape Cod and Martha's Vinyard.

Madison, WI
Level Contributor
9,989 posts
66 reviews
3. Re: Starting to plan RT Aug'18 East coast, Boston, W DC..ideas?

Definitely plan to spend 2-3 days in DC. So much to see and will be appealing to all ages. The National Zoo is fantastic as well as all the museums and memorials. Lodging is expensive, so look at staying across the Potomac in Arlington, VA area. The metro system is very efficient and a car is unnecessary. I would also definitely suggest to book ahead for lodging on Cape Cod...it gets really busy out there in August. This would also apply to most of your destinations including the Vineyard and Nantucket.

Edited: 14 December 2017, 14:17
PA
Level Contributor
1,357 posts
160 reviews
4. Re: Starting to plan RT Aug'18 East coast, Boston, W DC..ideas?

I 2nd Eric's suggestion on time spent in DC - Smithsonian museums (all free!) cover a wide range of history - natural history & aviation may be of interest to the kids (as well as adults). Be prepared for hot, humid weather in DC - I remember sanding in a line on the sidewalk in August & feeling heat of the pavement through m thick-soled shoes!

If you decide to omit Boston (not saying you should!), there are nice beaches in Delaware which is closer to DC - Rehoboth & Bethany Beaches. Something to think about..

Massachusetts
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4,871 posts
261 reviews
5. Re: Starting to plan RT Aug'18 East coast, Boston, W DC..ideas?

DC can be extremely hot in August! Plan your days knowing that. We stayed at the Plaza a few years ago and having the pool to head to mid-afternoon was a real plus.

Not saying you should skip Cape Cod, but most lodging there is booked for a full week (Saturday to Saturday being the most common) and booked well in advance.

Things the kids should enjoy:

For historic things - Plimoth Plantation (Plymouth, MA), Minuteman National Park (Concord and Lexington, MA).

White Mountains of New Hampshire - Lost River Caves and Gorge, Flume Gorge, Mt Washington Cog Railroad.

Acadia - Oceanarium (lobster hatchery)

Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
3,977 posts
326 reviews
6. Re: Starting to plan RT Aug'18 East coast, Boston, W DC..ideas?

If you go to Delaware, you should think about a few hours at the Hagley Museum in Wilmington, DE. It's the original 18th Century DuPont gunpowder factory; they have demonstrations. It's also a good museum of industrial history which we found quite entertaining.

If you go north from Boston, Salem, MA is worth seeing. It's infamous for the 17h Century witch trials which they have exploited shamelessly but it's also got some quite beautiful Colonial period architecture and the excellent Peabody-Essex Museum which among other things, has exhibits on Salem's history as a whaling and clipper ship port.

Edited: 14 December 2017, 16:07
Belgium
Level Contributor
76 posts
7. Re: Starting to plan RT Aug'18 East coast, Boston, W DC..ideas?

Thank you all, these are great suggestions and certainly something to think about...I like the idea of stopping at the Delaware beaches on the way to Boston or NYC. Also the weather in DC is something to consider, thinking we could use jet lag in our favour and have an early start in the morning, then potentially find a place with a pool for the afternoon.

I will try map some kind of circular route, or arriving and departing from different cities in order to avoid backtracking. Is there anything of interest (historical or nature/for kids) taking the inner state roads between DC, Gettysburg, Boston?

thanks again this is of great help

Madison, WI
Level Contributor
9,989 posts
66 reviews
8. Re: Starting to plan RT Aug'18 East coast, Boston, W DC..ideas?

Don't let the weather comments on DC deter your interest. I grew up just outside Washington, and it surely gets warm during the summer, but it's not oppressive and it attracts tourists in force. You will discover it will be a highlight of your holiday.

Lewes, United...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
25,893 posts
38 reviews
9. Re: Starting to plan RT Aug'18 East coast, Boston, W DC..ideas?

Something you will need to consider - it was not previously mentioned as it was not relevant - is by changing your trip idea, so that: Perhaps you are now considering picking up a car in say Washington, DC, visiting Delaware beaches, then driving away from NYC by heading well away from the city (and yes, Gettysburg is a great stop if interested in civil war history) to get you to New England, to end the road trip part in Boston is that you are now adding a one way drop fee to the rental car. A loop avoids this fee.

Unless you end up with the full 3 weeks, so you do need to decide, doing all those fine cities justice, and then adding in the longer road trip will mean lots of driving and some rushing around as well.

Yes, lots of areas will be warm. I'd not let that worry you too much unless you know you droop in great humidity. Many of the reasons to visit DC are the fantastic museums and all will be air conditioned. If you are walking along the national mall and looking at all the monuments, then that would be a good idea to do that in the early hours when it would be very quiet, or from dusk onwards when some monuments are lit up.

Perhaps lay out a draft itinerary so we see how many nights you are allocating to each place and we can comment further.

SWT

Edited: 15 December 2017, 13:01
Vestal, New York
Destination Expert
for Auburn, Finger Lakes
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11,218 posts
205 reviews
10. Re: Starting to plan RT Aug'18 East coast, Boston, W DC..ideas?

People who live in NYC try to leave in August because of the oppressive heat and humidity. it would only be less pleasant in the big cities as you head south. Consider sticking to New England and visiting Boston and nearby areas plus the White Mountains and the Maine coast up to Acadia NP.

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