We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Doubts about 2 day road trip between NYC and D.C

Barcelona, Spain
Level Contributor
7 posts
86 reviews
Save Topic
Doubts about 2 day road trip between NYC and D.C

Hi,

We are a couple from Europe making a 3 weeks trip to the US. We'll be staying in NYC the first 5 days (24 to 29 july) and then 2 days in D.C (31 July and august 1st), before taking a flight to California from DC on august 2nd.

We want to go from NYC to Washington on the 29th and stay a night somewhere on the road, and leave the car in DC on the 30th at night. So it would be almost 2 entire days.

We have seen 2 major options: Philadelphia or some beach town in Delaware. I know the 2 options are very different (historical city or beach), but we like both options equally. My doubts would be more about convenience (car acess, traffic, hours driving, etc..).

So the question would be, considering we like both options equally, what would you suggest us to do ? Either go from NY to Philadelphia, and spend the full day and night there and leave for DC the next day in the evening. Or go from NY to some Delaware beach town (Rehoboth, Bethany, etc..) ?

I know that we would have to drive much more if we take the second option, that's why i also wanted to know if there are other nice beach towns/areas between NYC and DC that we could go, and that would require less driving than delware (maybe in NJ or Maryland) ?

Please don't answer if you're going to tell that both options are very different...we already know that. It's a very short stay and we like both options. What we'd like to know is if it would be more convenient one or the other in matters of practicality,better roads, less driving,etc... (i don't know how is traffic in Philadelphia...).

Another option would have been taking a train from NYC to Philadelphia and then the next day from Ph to DC, but the Amtrak website says that we can't take any big luggage (and we'll be carrying to 2 relatively big luggages for a 3 week trip...the ones we check in on planes), so it's not an option.

We're open to any suggestion

Thanks in advance

Lewes, United...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
20,955 posts
38 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Doubts about 2 day road trip between NYC and D.C

Hi Sun

Welcome to the Road Trips forum.

I'm a little puzzled by your comment regarding Amtrak's luggage policy. While I confess I've never used the trains, I was under the impression that you could take 2 bags each of approx the same size and weight as most airline policies (ie. 23 kg/50 lbs) as checked bags, plus hand baggage, again in line with most airline policies. If I'm correct, I don't understand your problem other than having to lug those bags from your NYC hotel to the train station, and at the other end from the train to the hotel (via taxi or not, depending on hotel locations at each end) for both NYC to Philly, and Philly on to DC.

I cannot offer any clever suggestions regarding route to time of day, but you can logically work out when's the best time to travel and when the rush hour at the end of each working day will be. However, car rental for 2 days plus hefty one way drop off fees, car parking charges plus toll charges are surely much more expensive and more hassle than using the standard class train service and adding a bit for taxis, porters and tips would be my expectation.

Yes, I know this is the road trips forum, so I should be encouraging you to drive, but for your circumstances, I would have thought the train would always be easier.

Now, when it comes to your time when you reach California, that's a different matter. If we can help with that road trip, please ask!

SWT

North Carolina
Level Contributor
1,074 posts
76 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Doubts about 2 day road trip between NYC and D.C

I agree that you should consider public transport between New York, Philadelphia and Washington. Yes, Amtrak does provide checked baggage service, but most of the trains that travel between New York, Philadelphia and Washington do not offer that service (you can check their timetables) because they don't carry a baggage car - they are designed for commuters that have a small amount of baggage that can be carried on. Having to take one or two particular trains to accommodate your bags does not sound very appealing. There are some bus companies that provide service and would accommodate your 'extra baggage' for a fee - you can look at Peter Pan and Greyhound. Both lines have centrally located terminals in all three cities.

Regarding your beach option, it does seem a little out of the way to drive that route (through Delaware), but it is a pleasant drive. You can approach Washington DC from the west (crossing the Chesapeake near Annapolis). Another option you might consider is driving from New York to Cape May, NJ (lovely Victorian beach town at the southern tip - wonderful place to relax) and taking the ferry over to Delaware. You could continue on to Washington from there. Yes, the beach option requires a little more driving, but seeing some lovely seaside scenery might be a nice break from the cities you're visiting.

Barcelona, Spain
Level Contributor
7 posts
86 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Doubts about 2 day road trip between NYC and D.C

Thanks for your answers to both of you !

- ncpat :

It could be very attractive to us driving through a seaside scenic route. But, about the ferry to Delaware, is it easy to take and frequent ? and do you know how long it would take ? I didn't know about Cape May. I'll take a look into it. Thanks

- SussexWoldtraveller :

I found it very strange too, because like in Europe i thought there would be some space in each wagon to at least store some bigger items. On amtrak's site it does say a limit of 23 kg, but it says it can't be bigger than a "Pacific surfliner", which looks like a pretty small bag.

About California, you guessed right. We have planned to stay 3 days in SF and then do a 3-4 days road trip through the coast between SF and LA, staying in different places, but we haven't looked very deep into it yet. What are the must see, not to miss places you would suggest ? Sta. Cruz, Monterey, Big Sur, Sta. Barbara, etc... ? Thanks

Baltimore
Level Contributor
1,137 posts
1 review
Save Reply
4. Re: Doubts about 2 day road trip between NYC and D.C

I don’t believe your luggage will be a problem on Amtrak. Also I know you can check bags. So if the only reason for driving is because you think your luggage will be a problem, I think it is not a problem. You will not need a car in either Philadelphia or Washington to visit the most common tourist destinations.

As to your question, if you are looking for a beach alternative, I recommend Cape May in New Jersey. It’s quite a charming town – an easy drive between either New York or Washington. Continuing from Cape May towards Washington, I’d recommend the Cape May – Lewis Delaware ferry.

North Carolina
Level Contributor
1,074 posts
76 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Doubts about 2 day road trip between NYC and D.C

For more info on the Cape May Lewes ferry, you can check out http://capemaylewesferry.com That website gives info on schedules and prices. Happy travels!

Green Valley...
Level Contributor
18,009 posts
63 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Doubts about 2 day road trip between NYC and D.C

Sun H, to avoid confusion and to get more focused replies I suggest that you limit questions and discussion to your original post subject. Do post the California queries on that forum.

Edited: 11 June 2013, 22:53
Baltimore
Level Contributor
1,137 posts
1 review
Save Reply
7. Re: Doubts about 2 day road trip between NYC and D.C

Sun H, if you want to take the train, I think you can deal with the baggage issue. I’ll assume you’re flying with two rather large bags perhaps because your airline only permits one checked bag per passenger? If you want to travel by train would you like to tell us how large are these bags?

The railroad is more amenable to two average sized bags per person. They would allow each of your to carry two average sized bags and check two average sized bags [a total of 8 bags for the two of you]; that’s a lot of stuff.

Amtrak’s purported limit for each carry-on bag size is 28” by 22” by 14”. I just checked an old fashioned bag from a past era. It’s a hard cased, leather bound, Samsonite bag of the sort one hardly ever sees anymore. It’s 24” by 18” by 8”. I think it is quite large. Will your bags really exceed Amtrak’s limit?

Unfortunately, on Amtrak trains along the Northeast corridor I don’t believe there is much in the way of storage area at the ends of cars. There may be some. Mostly everyone has to place bags on an overhead rack. That explains the weight and size restrictions. It’s unusual to see air or train travelers carrying anything other than soft luggage quite well within Amtrak’s dimensions. I do anything to avoid checking bags; if really traveling large carry on duffle shaped bag on wheels and one messenger bag as a back pack – using wash and fold services on the road.

You can check bags on Amtrak in the Northeast corridor. Checked bags only travel south between New York and DC on one overnight train and one early morning train. Although your bags may not travel on your train, you could check a bag the prior evening to be waiting at your destination the next day. Amtrak will accept oversized bags for a $20 fee. Ostensibly you could place your Washington clothing in Bag A and your Philadelphia clothing in Bag B – checking A to DC and B to Philly.

Edited: 11 June 2013, 23:52
Barcelona, Spain
Level Contributor
7 posts
86 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Doubts about 2 day road trip between NYC and D.C

Thanks for your replies

- ncpat: I checked the ferries, and the length and schedules look pretty good. But the overall driving time would be more or less the same as if we go to Delaware directly the first day. We'll just compare both places and see which one attracts us most. Again, thanks for your help.

- SFCityGuy : Our luggage is not oversized or anything...it's just a regular luggage that you check in on a plane, which can weigh around 20 kg. We'll check the option of taking the tran that lets checked baggages. But i think doing this short road trip (either to Cape May or Rehoboth) is also very appealing. Thanks for your help too.

-Voyaging: You're right, i shouldn't have posted about that here.

To everyone: If you had to chose between Cape May or the Delaware beach towns (Rehoboth and around), which one would you prefer ? What are the main differences between the 2, considering we'll be there in end july.

Thanks

Uden, The...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
60,942 posts
42 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Doubts about 2 day road trip between NYC and D.C

We have been to Cape May and Lewes/Rehoboth for several days and also took the ferry. It took 1h25 minutes and we needed a reservation. Ferry was loaded. You definitely want to take the ferry from Cape May instead driving all the way back to DC but I don't think you'll have much time for a beachstay. The ferry won't take that long but you have to be there before for the check in. Cape May is lovely. My prefered place to spend the night but to be honest I like the option for public transport from NY and a stay in Philly better.

Btw, there really is not much for a beachstay south of Rehoboth and there's a lot of traffic in that area.

Tet

Lewes, United...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
20,955 posts
38 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Doubts about 2 day road trip between NYC and D.C

Sorry if not all my info regarding Amtrack luggage wasn't correct. As I said I've never used the trains, but was aware of folk taking luggage, just like on a plane. SFCG's suggestion of booking the bulk of your luggage directly to DC for collection when you reach there, and just taking enough for one overnight stay with you to Philly, and then on to DC is a great idea, but you'd better check with Amtrack whether this is OK, and what happens to your luggage when it reaches DC ahead of you.

Given the lack of time for all the driving and beachstay, I still suggest you use the train and do Philly over the coast.

As said before, it's not like you won't get a road trip. However, I agree this post is not the place to discuss those plans. Repost both on the California forums, and on this one (with a more appropriate title) when you're ready for the west coast trip advice.

SWT

Edited: 12 June 2013, 11:45