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USA - East to West Road Trip

Birmingham, United...
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USA - East to West Road Trip

Hi, firstly i hope i have posted this in the correct place

myself and my partner are looking to do a east to west road trip around September next year (2014). We are just starting to look at places to stop/see/visit. i think we have agreed to start off in New York and travel down to Memphis (we definatley want to spend a few nights there) and then head towards the west coast. We are looking for any suggestions on places to visit/see as we dont know where to start. we will both be driving so can drive for longer hours if needed. we are looking at allocating 4 weeks to complete the whole trip. we are not bothered what type of place we sleep in as long as its clean & has a bed (so it doesnt need to be a 4* hotel).

if anyone has any ideas/tips it would be appreciated

thanks in advance

Northland Region...
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1. Re: USA - East to West Road Trip

Hi Macky1313, welcome to TA.

We are on a road trip at the moment, one thing we have learnt is, that you need to decide on what your trip will be about. That way you can be more definitive on what you want to do and see. Otherwise you may lose time and miss out on some of the more interesting places.

The US is a great place to travel by car, the people are friendly and most times are a great help. We planned 5 weeks for our trip, and in hindsight as our trip draws to a close, we needed an extra 2 days in NYC, another 2 in DC, 2 more in Nasville, another couple in Memphis. And we still haven't seen enough in New Orleans, after two full days. So your 4 weeks, in my humble opinion, will be hectic, so think about what you want to see

You may be used to driving on the "wrong" side of the road, if not it can be problematic at the start, we remind each other with the mantra "keep to the right"

Maybe join a hotel chain and rack up loyalty points.

You will have a fantastic time, and this Forum is a wonderful place for help and ideas.

Good luck

Birmingham, United...
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2. Re: USA - East to West Road Trip

thanks for the advice Wagaitwag, well were quite lucky in the respects that we have our own business so if we need an extra week to make it more worthwhile then its something we can consider. how long have you had in each of the places? & what was your itinerary?

New York
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3. Re: USA - East to West Road Trip

What types of things interest you? National Parks? Hiking, the outdoors? Scenery? Are you more of a downtown, big city type person or desolate open road? What are you interests? This will help narrow down stuff.

Birmingham, United...
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4. Re: USA - East to West Road Trip

were looking for a bit of everything to be honest, my partner has never been on a plane let alone driving across America. My partner has always wanted to do Memphis which is where it started so we thought if were going all that way we may as well make a good trip out of it and do east to west.

we like nice scenery, buildings/architecture, a bit of hustle & bustle of downtown. The only definate we have planned is Memphis as my partner is a big Elvis fan so Graceland etc will be a must. i know were being very vague & have a lot of research to do but just looking for a bit of guidance of things to see & do with so many places to choose from

Santa Fe, New Mexico
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5. Re: USA - East to West Road Trip

Most here suggest that a rental car rented through a broker is the best way to assure insurances and limit the one way fee associated with your proposal ... I feel the car will not be needed until you depart Washington DC. Or take the scenic AMTRAK route to Chicago. Where a car is also of little use & on to Memphis renting there ... Should you be interested in visiting Yellowstone or other higher elevation Ntl. Parks ... It would be best to go direct ... as facilities start to close down in Sept. happy trails ... carracar

New York
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6. Re: USA - East to West Road Trip

Are you flying back from the West Coast? If so where? What destination do you have planned for the West? I know you probably are aware, but you can do virtually anything in the US on a road trip, from Mountains, National Parks, big cities, tours, the whole nine. Are you people who like to hike a lot? Outdoors stuff? If so, you may want to swing through some National Parks and get hiking in with some scenery. Parks like The Grand Canyon, Arches, Zion, Bryce, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons are all great for this....they are all on the Western end.

If you wanted to head on more of a South tour, you can go towards New Orleans for a few days, work your way across the lower states like Texas,New Mexico, Arizona and California.

If you wanted to go more north, you could work your way through Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas towards Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota, and then into Wyoming for Yellowstone/Tetons and see how much time you have towards Cali or Washington or both. Depends on how much ground you want to cover. Sounds like you have a week for just NYC and Memphis, which is great, and it leaves you 3 weeks from Memphis to get out west, which is a good amount of time. Id highlight some MUST SEES you have and go from there...2 or 3 would work. If you really wanted to bust a move, you could really tackle a ton of the US, but sounds like it is more of a slower relaxing trip, which is great too.

Are you looking for museums? Sporting events? Hiking/NP's? Specific cities for their history like Memphis?

Birmingham, United...
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7. Re: USA - East to West Road Trip

yes we would be flying back from the west coast to the UK.

we were thinking possibly including Vegas, LA and ending up in San Fran to come home. so its finding places to stop in-between, were not really gambling people so we know 1/2 nights would suffice in Vegas. Were not into hiking but we dont mind doing a bit of walking.

we want to cover as many places as we can but have enough time to take in what we see, i dont want to go all that way and just "drive". but ideally we would get a move on to cover as much as possible including museums a few national parks that are the must sees and the main cities along the way.

i know we will have to make a few decisions to finalise places but its having the places to pick from in the beginning to make the most of our trip.

Cleveland
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8. Re: USA - East to West Road Trip

Macky,

Welcome to TA and the road trips forum!

If you can allocate 5-6 weeks from the get-go, do so! There's no way you can visit all regions of the U.S. in six weeks, let alone in four weeks, so choices must be made. Also the hard-learned road trips mantra, is that less is more.

Make certain that you have a high ratio of fun to driving, even if you greatly limit your trip. Few persons can enjoy, or even physically tolerate, a road trip composed only of marathon drives with little time to enjoy the destinations passed through on the interstates.

How much do you like beaches, history, art museums, music attractions, other types of museum, amusement parks, sports, etc.? Providing us with as much specific information as possible will be helpful.

Definitely read through this forum for many months, before trying to put together an itinerary. It's very difficult to offer you suggestions until you have an idea of what you're seeking on this trip, as indicated by this thread, which may be of use to you:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g1-i12567-k6795812…

If you like architecture and great cities, consider working Chicago into your trip. Allow time to walk around downtown LA, to see the iconic Disney Concert Hall, if nothing else. Check out Frank Lloyd Wright attractions, such as Fallingwater, southwest of Pittsburgh, and elsewhere.

For music, check out the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is in Cleveland, or the blues trail in the southeast.

One big question to consider is how much time you want to spend on this trip on the northeast corridor (from Boston to Washington, DC). You could spend weeks in this region, even your entire trip depending upon your interests. If you're set on doing a cross country trip, however, consider minimizing your time here, and count on coming back for a more thorough look on a later trip.

If coming in September, beware that snow and inclement weather starts to become an issue in the higher elevations of the West by mid-month and certainly late in the month. Also, from late September through the first couple weeks of October is the height of Leaf Turn in the northern U.S., if that is of interest.

So definitely consider beginning your trip on the West Coast, perhaps in San Francisco, then to Yosemite before driving south to LA, west to Las Vegas and the GC, seeing other iconic destinations there such as Page, Monument Valley, Bryce and Zion, before heading north to Yellowstone National Park. Head east to Chicago, then south through St. Louis to Memphis, to Nashville, north through Kentucky (Mammoth Cave NP and Bourbon Trail) to Ohio (aviation history attractions in Dayton), Rock Hall in Cleveland, perhaps Niagara Falls, before heading east to Washington, DC, to drop your rental car. Take Amtrak or a bus to NYC to end your trip.

This route will need as much time as you can allocate for it and definitely isn't possible in four weeks, and would benefit from six weeks. It saves the Southeast, including New Orleans for a subsequent trip. If on this trip you want beaches, and time in Orlando, Miami or New Orleans, you'll need to plan a very different allocation of time.

Another option is to see some attractions in the East, such as NYC, Washington, Nashville, Memphis, then south to New Orleans, or north to Chicago. Then fly to Las Vegas, Denver, Los Angeles or San Francisco, and spend the rest of your trip in the West. As a good bookend to your trip, three to four days in either San Francisco or New York might be perfect, depending upon your interests.

Keep in mind that Yellowstone NP is one of the most unique places on earth, partially because of its geothermal features (it sits above a super volcano), but also because of its fauna. You also likely would greatly enjoy San Francisco, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon.

The lodging books for the great western national parks open 12 months in advance, and lodging can go within days, so it would be good to resolve this trip ASAP so you could book reservations as the lodging books are open.

Read the FAQs at each of the park destination forums, at other destination forums, and certainly in the upper right hand corner of this forum.

Good planning!

Northland Region...
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9. Re: USA - East to West Road Trip

Hi Macky,

I see you have got lots of great advice, I started out with this question on the forum

tripadvisor.com/…47148507

And here is our trip report

tripadvisor.com.au/…52520412

It is a difficult process trying to decide on what to see, and how long to stay in a place. The wise TranscendentalEye mentioned "less is more" and I strongly agree.

In hindsight Washington DC was a must see of the highest order, it gave us a clearer perspective of what the USA is, and that was by visiting the Capital building and all the museums and memorials.

Visit the online sites of the visitor bureaus of the cities you are keenly interested in, they have mail outs of their annual booklets, wait until the new year so you get the latest, while other cities have online updates.

You will have a great time deciding on what the trip will be, frustrating at times but well worth the effort.

Another thing we learnt in our 5 week trip, "no regrets" when we had to choose what path to take. Because around the next corner is another great time, and you soon forget what town you were in three days beforehand.

Cheers

Wednesbury, UK
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10. Re: USA - East to West Road Trip

Hi.

You have had some good advice so far, but remember that the 'less is more' mantra isn't right for everyone, it all depends on your travel style and personal tastes. For some 'as much as reasonably possible' works too, and can work well if you think you will return for a greater focus, or if its a once in a lifetime trip.

Anyway, in 4 weeks you can make a decent fist of a great cross country trip, it won't be a gentle pace, but can work fine. If you have more time then the options really open up but the issue of West to East is very pertinent if you want to see Yellowstone in particular with a September start.

Edited: 01 September 2013, 14:01