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Northern East USA trip - road or rail?

Devon, UK
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Northern East USA trip - road or rail?


Not sure whether I'm posting in the right place....apologies if it's the wrong forum!

We are planning a trip to north East USA and Florida for early July 2015. We are a family of 3, 2 adults and a 16 year old. We are planning to have a 3 week vacation, with approx 10 days touring the NE and 11 nights in Florida. The Florida part of our trip is sorted, but we are struggling with the NE part!

We DEFINITELY want to visit New York, Niagara Falls, Philadelphia and Washington DC. We were originally looking at a road trip, but the long distances to drive and the parking charges in the large cities is putting us off! We are now looking at taking the train (Amtrak), but we are not sure where to start and finish! Should we fly from the UK into Toronto and start at Niagara and work our way down or maybe fly into NYC, go up to Niagara and then come back down to Philadelphia and Washington? Also looking into the possibility of flying from NYC to Niagara and back in a day. Also, not sure whether to include Boston in our itinerary? We will be flying down to Orlando for the second half of our holiday - we don't have a preference which city we fly from in the US.

Any ideas greatly appreciated.....thank you!

Fremont, California
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1. Re: Northern East USA trip - road or rail?

I would post this also on the train forum


I would probably do a combo drive/train.

1) Fly into New York and then fly to Buffalo. See Niagara falls on an overnight tour - stay on the Canada side;l Marriott Fallsview has amazing view of the falls if your budget allows. Its also very convenient to things in Niagara Falls.


(Note: You could as you mention fly into Toronto and then drive to Niagara and back - if you want to see things in Toronto this works well. However, when I visited in October the downside of flying to Toronto is that there is a huge amount of traffic around the Toronto area day and night.)

2) I would then either fly back to New York City or if you went to Toronto, fly to New York City,

3) See New York City

4) Take the train to Philadelphia - see Philadelphia.

5) Take the train to Washington DC.

After seeing Washington DC then fly from Washington DC to Florida.

Boston is ok but focusing on 3 major cities and then beach time in Florida just appeals to me more.

its up to you if you want to see the things in Boston - i.e. are there specific things you want to see.

If not, I'd skip and focus on these 3 as both New York and Washington DC have so much to offer.

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2. Re: Northern East USA trip - road or rail?

Ten days wouldn't be much time for NYC, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and the surrounding regions. Amtrak train or bus (Megabus, Bolt, or Greyhound) is a good way to travel among cities in the northeast, as parking charges are high and mass transit within the cities very good. Rent a car as needed to explore the local region, especially around attraction-rich Washington, DC.

With only 10 days, perhaps save Boston, New England, and even Niagara Falls, which is in the Great Lakes region, for another trip.

This thread should help you, especially post 5.


Consider flying from Washington to Florida.

Allow three days if you decide to drive to NF. Allow 8-9 hours of driving time each way. If you want to fly there and back from NYC, allow two days, usually to and from Buffalo.

Good planning!

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3. Re: Northern East USA trip - road or rail?

First things first, Boston is a great city. I'm biased having grown up there, but I think most people would agree. Very walkable, very historic!

Second, using Amtrak makes a lot of sense between Boston, NYC, Phil and Wash DC,

Niagara Falls is close to Buffalo NY. Of course, the preferred side is the Canadian side. More touristy vs. the US side which is very industrial. Most of the iconic images you see of the falls are from the Canadian side. You would have to check out and weigh out the options of getting from lst's say NYC to Buffalo. I don't know if there is Amtrak service, certainly buses, flying up or renting a car. NYC to Buffalo is (I think) 5 hrs, but I could be wrong.

Now, from a practical sense, that's 5 cities in 10 days, with travel time between each. Seems impractical.

Can you steal some time from the Orlando end of the trip?

Tacoma, Washington
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4. Re: Northern East USA trip - road or rail?

For 10 days....traveling between NYC and DC is easy by train.

The issue is doing Niagara Falls.

From DC or NYC Niagara Falls is a full days drive to get there (7-8 hrs one way) Thus this will use up days of your travel plans out of the 10. From DC, Baltimore, Philly, or NYC you can fdo an easy flight up there which will take an hr or so. To save tiem you could fly up as an overnight or do it as one long day by fly out at 7am get in at 8L30...rent a car and get up there by 9:00 then spend the day there then back to the airport and fly back around 8pm.

As it stand now in your 10 days it comes out to about 3 days DC, 2 PHIL, and 5 in NYC (1 day up to Niagara Falls)...to try and add Boston or Toronto will take time away from these places.

Trains work fine for DC-NYC-BOS...but to use it to get to BUF ---you are looking at a nightmare.

Edited: 04 July 2014, 03:42
Devon, UK
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5. Re: Northern East USA trip - road or rail?

Thank you so much for your replies...very helpful.

On reflection, it is a LOT to cram into 10 days, so we have decided to forget Niagara for this trip. We are now looking at doing Boston - NYC - Philadelphia - Washington DC by train and then fly down to Orlando from Washington. We are thinking...

Boston 2 nights

NYC 4 nights

Philadelphia 1 night

Washington DC 3 nights

Orlando 11 nights

Bearing in mind that we have a teenager with us, we don't want to overload on culture, but take in the most popular attractions in each city! We have visited NYC and Orlando before....do you think the allocated number of nights in each city would be adequate? Also, is possible to book Amtrak train tickets in advance from outside the US?

Many thanks :-)

N. Idaho
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6. Re: Northern East USA trip - road or rail?

So...you may know this, but in your planning 2 nights really only equals one full day of touring. I would probably take some time away from Orlando (but that would be my trip not yours, lol) and add to Boston, Philly and DC especially if Boston is your first stop after your flight from UK.


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7. Re: Northern East USA trip - road or rail?

What D0bby said!

8. Re: Northern East USA trip - road or rail?

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