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East Coast USA Road Trip!

London, United...
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East Coast USA Road Trip!

Hello

Just wondering if anyone can give me an idea on where to start!! We were considering a West Coast trip but will probably be a bit beyond our price range so thinking of East Coast instead. I have spoken to Trailfinders and although they were fairly helpful, they told me to look on their website at their road trips and pick out what we want. I didn't see any one trip that I liked as a whole.

We are a family of 4 (1 x 13yr old and 1 x 9yr old)

Travelling July/August 2014

3 weeks

Budget: Small!!

Likes/Dislikes: We want to see a bit of everything really, very vague I know. I think it's that we don't want to just do all museums or all scenery or all beaches if that makes sense.

I've never been to the states, so rather ignorant and probably can't get my head around the vastness of the country, on a map everything looks quite close to each other lol!

We want to visit New York, Boston, Martha's vineyard (only because I believe my favourite film jaws was filmed there!), Salem (thought this might be interesting for kids?), somewhere where we could go whale watching?, The white mountains. Am I crazy to think that we could fit in a trip to Niagra falls (looks quite close to new york on the map lol!!!).

Anyway, any advice would be great. I've never travelled this far before and I want to make sure we make the most of it (hence my probable ludicrous suggestion of Niagra falls).

Also, does the USA have an equivalent of something like the National Trust? Just wondering if we could save money on buying an annual membership to something like that.

Thanks in advance

M

Ohio
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1. Re: East Coast USA Road Trip!

we have a national parks pass. $80 for a year to cover the people in the car. Is that what you mean?

NY, Boston, etc... those areas are not cheap. Get away from those areas and it will be better :) Anything along the coast is going to be pricey in the summer. If you can go a bit inland, you'll find better deals.

Of course you can do Niagara Falls. It will take a little time, but can do that. It is an 8 hour drive (roughly) from Boston to Niagara Falls. We took the turnpike (fastest route) Costs $$ and boring ride.

How much of the east coast? Looks to me like you are thinking New England, yes?

The coast of Maine is beautiful!!! and lots of small towns where you can find less expensive lodging. Again-- find lodging away from the coast.

Uden, The...
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2. Re: East Coast USA Road Trip!

Hi

So you prob will want to rent a car. Do that already from Euroep with a broken and have all insurances included. You don't need a car in New York and Boston so you can take the train between them and p/u the car after your Boston visit. Cape Cod is lovely but also very busy and expensive in high season and you'll need reservations and a car there and it's doesnot make a short visit. I'd rethink visiting Martha's Vineyard.

Salem has its witch museum. Must say bit of a tourist trap but the building is nice so is the city.

For renting a car and driving in the USA see the Top Questions at the right hand side of this page (not shown on mobile devices).

Tet

Cleveland
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3. Re: East Coast USA Road Trip!

How long do you have for this trip?

It would help to know what your budget is in dollars, not including the cost of flights. July/August is the height of the U.S. summer school vacation holiday season, so costs are higher at popular tourist areas and everything is more crowded than during off season.

For a family of four, my guess is that it would be tough to keep the budget below $300/day in Boston and New York, even if that per diem is possible. E.g., keeping it around $300 likely would require staying outside NYC, perhaps in New Jersey. Perhaps post on the local forums and inquire about daily budgets for a family of four and what would be required for a lower daily budget.

What specifically are your interests -- thrill parks (roller coasters), ziplining, rafting, art museums, other types of museum (natural history, glass, etc.) zoos, culture, music (what genres), historical attractions and history museums, skyscrapers, etc.?

Persons already are booking vacation lodging and many areas, such as Martha's Vineyard, will be booked rapidly.

Have you considered tent camping to cut costs? E.g., for Niagara Falls, check out Bissell's Hideaway, just north of NF, Ontario. Cabins with kitchens at private camping grounds and at state (as opposed to federal) parks also would be economical.

Read through this forum for many months for relevant threads. Also, check relevant trip reports in the sticky thread at the top of the forum.

Other parts of the country would be cheaper than the east coast, such as the Great Lakes region, which includes Niagara Falls. E.g, you could take a bus from New York to Cleveland, before renting a car to explore Niagara Falls and other attractions. Chicago has some of the tallest buildings in the U.S. and other attractions.

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g191-c183176/United-S…

Washington, DC, also can be more economical because so many attractions there are free. There also are many economical places to explore not far from the city. E.g., check out the New River Gorge in West Virginia (also search for it in the search engine at the top of the forum to find threads discussing the New River and especially IMO rafting there; the New River also offers ziplining, bungee jumping, rock climbing, as well as great hikes).

You could fly into NYC, take a train or bus to Washington, DC., then rent a car for a road trip exploration, possibly including NF that would end in NYC (would involve a rental car drop charge), or even back in Washington, DC, to avoid rental car drop charges.

Your options are so great, so you'll have to do some more research to help us help you better.

Good planning!

Chula Vista...
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4. Re: East Coast USA Road Trip!

Hi.

Welcome to the forum.

First, regarding the annual national parks pass... The density of national parks in New England just isn't what it is here in the west, so buying an $80 America the Beautiful annual pass may not be the best value. It's $20 to enter Acadia NP and $15 to enter Cape Cod National Seashore (per car). So I'd do the math on the parks you want to visit with their individual admission fees against the $80 annual pass.

http://www.nps.gov/index.htm

I'd probably start with 4 nights in Boston. You can walk the Freedom Trail to learn about our early history.

http://www.bostonusa.com/

http://www.thefreedomtrail.org/

The good thing about Boston is that you'd be able to make day trips from there to places like Lexington, Plymouth, or New Bedford. The bad thing about day trips from Boston is that you'd have to have a car in Boston, and that will be an expensive challenge.

Lexington, of course, is where the first shot of the American Revolution was fired.

http://tourlexington.us/libertyride.html

Plymouth is where the Pilgrims landed in 1620. You can see Plymouth Rock, a replica of the Mayflower, and Plimouth Plantation, a living history museum.

http://www.plimoth.org/

http://www.seeplymouth.com/

New Bedford was a booming whaling community.

http://www.nps.gov/nebe/index.htm

http://www.whalingmuseum.org/

From Boston, I'd plan a week heading up the Maine coast, stopping in places like Ogunquit, Kennebunkport, Portland, Yarmouth (to see the world's largest globe at DeLorme Maps--great travel store there, too), Freeport (headquarters of LL Bean), Camden, Rockport, and definitely 2-3 nights in Bar Harbor / Acadia National Park.

http://www.ogunquit.org/

http://www.kennebunkport.org/

http://www.visitportland.com/

http://www.portlandheadlight.com/

http://www.delorme.com/about/eartha.aspx

www.llbean.com/llb/shop/1000001704…

http://www.camdenmainevacation.com/

http://www.nps.gov/acad/index.htm

From there, you can spend the remainder of your time driving through the White Mountains of New Hampshire on the Kancamagus Scenic Byway, ride the cog railroad to the top of Mount Washington, and then head into Vermont, perhaps stopping at the Ben & Jerry's ice cream factory in Waterbury or the charming college town of Burlington on the shores of Lake Champlain.

http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/byways/byways/2458

http://www.thecog.com/

http://www.visitwhitemountains.com/

www.benjerry.com/scoop-shops/factory-tours

http://www.vermont.org/visitors

http://www.lakechamplainregion.com/

You can head into the Adirondacks of New York, checking out many of the lakes and resorts in places like Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, or Saratoga Springs.

http://visitadirondacks.com/

http://www.lakeplacid.com/

http://www.saratoga.com/

As the others have said, traveling anywhere in that region during the summer months will require advance reservations, so work out your itinerary soon and start booking rooms.

Hope that helps with some ideas.

Zed

Cleveland
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5. Re: East Coast USA Road Trip!

Sorry, I now see you said three weeks.

Cleveland
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6. Re: East Coast USA Road Trip!

One game plan if you want to stick to your original ideas, slightly modified, would be to fly in and out of NYC. Take the train or bus to Boston, before renting a car to explore New England and then to go to NF (there are things to see between Boston and NF). Then drive to either Washington, DC, or NYC, seeing things on the way. Then drop your rental car (drop charge will be incurred).

If you go to Washington, DC, you could take the train or bus back to NYC.

You also could modify this plan to fly in and out of Boston or Washington (check both Dulles and Baltimore/Washington airports), if either are cheaper.

London, United...
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7. Re: East Coast USA Road Trip!

Thank You all for your ideas, it's been really helpful. So we have scrapped the idea of visiting Niagara Falls.

We are thinking of starting off in Washington DC, moving on to New York (not sure if we need a stop in between these yet), from New York we want to get to Maine (like the sound of bar harbour etc). As we also want to visit Boston, so would it be advisable to miss out Boston on the way up to Maine and work our way down to fly home from Boston or start in Boston and fly home from somewhere in Maine? Just wondering if that would be cost effective.

Hope that makes sense and thanks for your patience with a newbie road tripper!!

M

London, United...
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8. Re: East Coast USA Road Trip!

Also should mention that we would rather travel by car than train between all these places.

Chula Vista...
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9. Re: East Coast USA Road Trip!

Hi,

Sounds like your plan is beginning to take shape...

I understand your desire to take the car, but I have to ask... Will this be your first time driving on the opposite side of the road? If so, you'll be starting out in some of the most congested areas in the country, and that will give you quite the introduction to driving on the right. :)

I would still consider not having a car in DC or NYC (saves lots of parking costs in addition to car rental costs), so take the train between the two. Once you're done with NYC, get a car and hit the road. There's plenty to see and do in Connecticut and Rhode Island on your way north.

As far as by-passing Boston and heading straight for the Maine coast, I would recommend doing that. Any flight that you would catch out of Maine will likely take you back to Boston or NYC.

Also, by by-passing Boston on the way and saving it for the end of your trip, you can also turn your car in early, as you can get by without one in Boston with its mass transit.

Zed

Uden, The...
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10. Re: East Coast USA Road Trip!

Maybe also consider to fly EWR (Newark) We did that and visited NYC without a car and picked it up after our NYC visit for the roadtrip. From Newark it's pretty easy to hit the road to Boston etc.