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Critique my Itinerary East Coast April-May 2014

Wellington, New...
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Critique my Itinerary East Coast April-May 2014

OK here is my proposed trip in April/May next year.

https://maps.google.co.nz/maps/ms…

A lot of it is based on info from these forums already, but I think I"ve now got it to join up!

We have 23 days car hire booked - this is not set in stone - but is timed to get back to Phl before Memorial Day w/end to avoid the crowds. I can amend the booking prior to car pickup - we pick up/drop off at PHL

We have a base in Phl - with relatives. We need to spend about 3/4 night in New Orleans (more relatives)

We will see Washington DC and NYC without the car outside of this trip.

We are a couple in our 50's / 60's We are experienced travellers and have done road trips before (Australia). We've both driven in the US before. If I can mainly find motels for under $100 night we are happy to stay in those, otherwise we may consider some camping gear.

Thanks to another thread I started here I think we will buy a cheap GPS

Our interests are history, outdoors, snorkelling (if the water is warm enough that time of the year?). Not interested in shopping or country music. My partner will want to see a battlefield or 3. I'd like to see some of those huge Southern Mansions (Gone with the Wind!). We both want to see the Outer Banks and the Appalachians. I used to be a geologist so rocks and fossils tend to attract me.

We don't really care where we stay, would rather spend the money on food, drink, and attractions.

We have zero interest in theme parks but I'd like to see Cape Canaveral (my partner has already) . I'd like to practice my Spanish in Miami and see how their Art Deco mesures up to NZ's Napier.

The basic plan is the to hug the coast south to Key West and north to New Orleanas, and then take the Natchez Trace north and somehow pick up the Smokies and Blue Ridge on the way back to Philly. Obviously we want to stick to the smaller roads where possible.

We've both been to the US before but not spent any time on the East Coast. I'm hoping to minimize the amount of booking we do in advance for this trip, so we can have flexibility, but is there anywhere that is going to be a serious issue please let me know?

Too much? Too little (I don't think so!). I'm struggling to get my head around the distances, they seem so short - in Australia 500km is a short day's drive, doing that in the US would mean we missed a couple of states :-) That said every few days it's nice to stay a day or 3 and have a base.

Our budget is $200/day (excluding the car rental) - is that reasonable?

Atlanta, Georgia
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1. Re: Critique my Itinerary East Coast April-May 2014

I will give you my take on the southern portion of your trip-

I will say this seems like a lot of driving in 23 days but will let others comment on that.

From DC head to Charlottsville then back to the Outer Banks. Check the ferry schedule to maximize time there. From there I would head to Charleston for Ft. Sumter, plantations, Market square, etc. You will need at least 2 days there.

Then drive two hours to Savannah and see historic square, riverwalk, Tybee Island. You can easily walk everywhere here. Would need about 2 days here.

From there head to St. Augustine, Cape Canaveral and then down to the Keys. From the Keys head up the gulf coast toward Tampa, Destin, etc. This area has the most beautiful beaches imo. From there head along I 10 to New Orleans.

From New Orleans head up Hwy 61 to Natchez for southern antebellum plantations and to Vicksburg for one of the best military national battlefields. Eat at Rusty's on the Riverfront. You can then head to Memphis if you like blues or jazz or a fan of Elvis Presley. If not then head out I 20 to Jackson and on to Birmingham and north toward Chattanooga. From Chattanooga it is an easy drive to my favorite area in the Great Smoky Mts. National Park.

We like staying in Townsend, TN to see the park. You can drive the Cades Cove Loop road and there is always a possibility of seeing wildlife. From the GSMNP you can head up thru the Appalachians to NC, VA, MD and back to Philadelphia. I would plan on staying at least 2 days in the GSMNP.

In terms of hotels then in many areas of the south you can get a hotel room for about $100-$110 per night. We like the Choice hotel brand- usually Comfort Inns or Best Western Inns. The Keys and some of the beach areas will be very pricey.

Here is the map link to suggestions-

This one does not go thru Memphis-

http://goo.gl/maps/Oqrp7

This one goes thru Memphis-

http://goo.gl/maps/YO7t5

Wellington, New...
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2. Re: Critique my Itinerary East Coast April-May 2014

Thank you so much - this is really helpful. I'd just added Memphis because I knew the name - your suggestion sounds like it would fit better. Townsend sounds like a good base for the NP too.

Newtown, PA
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3. Re: Critique my Itinerary East Coast April-May 2014

When driving through Virginia on your way back, make sure you take at least part of the Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park. It's an extension of the Blue Ridge Parkway with great views. Here's some pics from our last trip through there in 2010.

https:/…

Wellington, New...
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4. Re: Critique my Itinerary East Coast April-May 2014

Skyline is definitely on the list relayer - and your photos are lovely - I'm guessing that hotel cost a little more than $100 a night :-)

Cleveland
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5. Re: Critique my Itinerary East Coast April-May 2014

Gettysburg is the most popular and grandest Civil War battlefield.

If you have a base of operations in Philadelphia, you easily can visit Gettysburg from there, although it's a full day, especially if you hire a guide, and the Eisenhower National Historic Site also is there. So you might want an overnight. It could be on the way to Charlottesville.

Perhaps visit the Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum before Charlottesville. It's near Washington, but it's most easily visited with a car. Ditto, for Mount Vernon, Williamsburg, Yorktwon, etc. Monticello at Charlottesville and Mount Vernon are two of the best plantation visits in the U.S., and, of course, much more.

news.google.com/newspapers…

If you like geology, you might want to check out the New River Gorge for a destination on your trip.

www.nps.gov/neri/naturescience/geology.htm

<<The National Park Service is working on several projects to better understand the geologic resources of the gorge. One is a survey of the fossils found in the rocks of the gorge. Studies like these help the park service protect the important resources of the area.>>

nps.gov/neri/…geologicformations.htm

You might want to consider a rafting trip on the New River, if they are available in April or May. You likely would want a wet suit. See post 6 in this thread.

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g1-i12567-k6163232…

PeachBelle's suggestion to visit Vicksburg is a good one. Not only is it an historic Civil War site, but also a great place to grasp the majesty and importance of the Mississippi River.

The U.S.S. Cairo Museum is a unique Civil War attraction, perfectly complementing the somberly beautiful Vicksburg National Military Park. You actually can walk inside an ironclad, 150 years ago, the most deadly of warships. The Lower Mississippi River Museum and Interpretative Center is the third-ranked attraction by TA reviewers in Vicksburg.

The siege of Vicksburg ended on July 4th, 1863, the same day the Confederate Army began its withdrawal from Gettysburg. With the capture of Vicksburg, the Union gained control of the Mississippi River, cutting the Confederacy in half and reopening the great commercial artery to Union commerce.

Gettysburg was a three-day battle that was the greatest ever fought in North America. It was the last time that a major Confederate army invaded original Union states, and a Union defeat at Gettysburg could have led to a Confederate victory and the splitting of the U.S. into two separate nations. Union victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg often are considered to mark the high tide of the Confederacy. Both military parks are extraordinary.

tripadvisor.com/…53689067

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g60798-i335-k69293…

July 4, 1863, was perhaps the most glorious 4th ever celebrated in the northern states of the Union, and the most sad and foreboding of any ever celebrated in the Old South.

If you visit the Vicksburg National Military Park, consider bringing a picnic lunch. It's a very large park.

Excellent private guides and audio, self-guided tours are available both at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, as well as at other national military parks.

Check out Amelia Island, especially if you would like to go horse riding on the beach, as well as the Canaveral National Sea Shore, next to the Kennedy Space Center. The Cocoa Beach Pier also is a fun stop.

Good planning!

Cleveland
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6. Re: Critique my Itinerary East Coast April-May 2014

It's probably already on your agenda, but check out Longwood Gardens. See post 5 here:

tripadvisor.com/…53815096

Newtown, PA
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7. Re: Critique my Itinerary East Coast April-May 2014

lissie45, the George Washington Hotel was another great bargain from using Priceline's name your own price. I paid $42 for that room and it was 4-star quality. Priceline has saved me thousand's over the years and could certainly be a benefit for your trip.

Lewes, United...
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8. Re: Critique my Itinerary East Coast April-May 2014

Just some random comments.

Art deco in Miami Beach area is different from Napier. Overall, we prefer Napier - much more feel of a whole zone in the same style, but then Napier was build as a town planning exercise after an earthquake - but still worth checking out!

Practising your Spanish in Miami, or anywhere you may encounter Latinos, may be an intriguing encounter. I don't know where you learned your Spanish but nowadays I have more of a Castillian accent than the Cubano one I once had. Within the last year, when staying at a motel, the chambermaid was chatting to the receptionist in Spanish when I approached, wishing to ask a question. I automatically asked my question in Spanish, having checking into the hotel - via same receptionist - moments earlier, in English. I got a weird look and had my question answered after a double take in English, and was told that staff must speak to guests in English. Elsewhere, when ordering fast food to go in a taqueria, without Spanish, you wouldn't have got served, or maybe received the wrong order!

Before you opt to try and use Priceline (or Hotwire) for accommodation (or anything else for that matter) please may I recommend that you be aware how those websites work and be sure you understand the Ts&Cs. They're great if you know what you want, and have no thoughts to change your mind, and how what the going rate is. Tax will be added to the prices you see.

Blue Ridge Parkway or Skyline Drive will be a nice way of driving north or south, but do beware it's very slow going as there's a very low speed limit.

Key West will be cheaper mid week and the traffic down the single lane Overseas Highway much quieter then, too. If you can't find affordable accommodation in Key West, opt for a motel along the road around Marathon/Islamorada and just go down the last part of the lower Keys for the day.

SWT

Wellington, New...
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9. Re: Critique my Itinerary East Coast April-May 2014

Grrr iPad ate my reply!

Yes Gettysburg and Vichsburg are both on the list - but will probably do Gettysburg from Phil. Longwood looks interesting and appears to be very, very close to my relatives - that can happen outside the road trip as well.

I've thought about Amelia Island - but I'm not a fan of horses - are there other options?

I hadn't realised priceline went so low in price -will check it out - might be a good option for Washington? The problem with 4 star hotels though - they expect me to pay extra for wifi

LOL yes I've had fun with Spanish in LA - some people found it more comprehensible than my Kiwi-accented English! Shocked that an employee isn't allowed to continue the conversation in Spanish if hte guest starts it - that sucks.

Thanks for the mid-week tip re Key West - makes sense and we could probably arrange that.

Cheers

Lis

Atlanta, Georgia
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10. Re: Critique my Itinerary East Coast April-May 2014

Amelia Island has a nice beach, Civil War fort, lighthouse and a historic "old Florida" downtown area. One of my favorite areas of Florida.