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Stopover plan - does this make sense?

Boston
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Stopover plan - does this make sense?

We are taking an inland detour when we drive from Boston to Williamsburg in 10 days' time. Based on some feedback here, I'm thinking about the following approach.

- Leave at 5 am from Boston on Saturday and drive to Hershey.

- Stop in Hershey for lunch, spend a couple hours at Chocolate World and/or museum

- Go to an Amish market nearby? Maybe drive through Amish country? If it makes better sense to do this before going to Hershey, please tell me.

- Spend night in Harrisburg? Or is there a better place to spend the night?

- Drive to Gettysburg and spend a few hours

- Drive to Luray Caverns and spend an hour or two

- Continue to Williamsburg

I'm not seeking the most direct route. If I did, I'd hit Jersey Shore traffic. I'm aiming for interesting detours that will make the 12+ hour drive more interesting.

We are a family of four (two 8 year old boys).

Your input would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

Elizabethtown...
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1. Re: Stopover plan - does this make sense?

Personally, I think you are trying to do to much in a very short period of time and will only get a very small taste of each place in PA. Most people give any of the 3 (Hershey, Gettysburg, Amish Country) multiple days each. My advice, to be honest, is to choose one and give it the time you have. But . . .

At the very least, do Amish Country first - it is the Easternmost locale. If you get there at lunch time, you can eat, visit some farm stands or quilt shops and drive past some lovely farms before heading to Hershey for the evening. Plan on at least 1 hr. to get from Amish Country to Hershey. The Hershey Story Museum (great for boys the age yours are) is open until 7 p.m. and Chocolate World will be open until 10. Another reason to go to Amish Country first, where things tend to close up early in the evening. You can stay near Hershey (Harrisburg area is not far), or drive the additional hr. to Gettysburg for the night. Get up early and go to the Gettysburg Visitor's center. See the film and Cyclorama there, get a map or audio tour and drive around at least some of the battlefield. Have lunch in Gettysburg then it will be 2.5 hrs. to get to Luray.

It's a lot of driving and a lot of sightseeing in 2 days time. I hope you plan to rest easy for a day when you arrive at Williamsburg. :)

gettysburg, pa
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2. Re: Stopover plan - does this make sense?

Hello! Fourskis has some good suggestions for how to maximize your time. My kids loved the Chocolate Lab at the Hershey Story.

Is there a particular reason why you are looking at Luray Cavern? It is a nice spot, but there are other caverns that might save you some driving time.

Indian Echo Caverns

http://www.indianechocaverns.com/

This is very close to Hershey. A nice first cavern experience, although the guides can vary in quality.

Crystal Grottoes

www.crystalgrottoescaverns.com/about.php

Not too far out of your way. I haven't visited this one as much, but as I recall it is more science-focused and less touristy than Indian Echo.

Or...if you are looking for something interesting to do on the way to Williamsburg, you may want to extend the Gettysburg experience by going to Harpers Ferry or the Monocacy Battlefield.

Hope this helps!

PA
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3. Re: Stopover plan - does this make sense?

I have to agree that your 2 day agenda is aggressive. While the Amish Country/Lancaster is worth visiting, just driving around may not be too interesting for 8 year old boys. If you had more time, I'd recommend a visit to the Strasburg Railroad. If you are really "into" trains there is also the Railroad Musuem of PA, the Choo Choo Barn, and National Toy Train Museum.

Chocolate World and the Hershey Story museum will give you an overview of Hershey. Again, if you had more time, I'd recommend the Hershey Trolleyworks tour for a great tour of the Hershey area & story of Milton Hershey.

You can easily spend an entire day in Gettysburg at the Visitor's Center, driving around the battlefield, and walking around the downtown area. With limited time, it will be a matter of what you most want to see. We enjoy visiting Little Roundtop, Devil's Den, the National Cemetery, and the Pennsylvania Memorial.

Luray Caverns is definitely worth a visit, but it does cause you to detour from the most direct route from Gettysburg to Williamsburg.

Whatever you decide, have a great trip!

Boston
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4. Re: Stopover plan - does this make sense?

Really terrific advice! These stops were really meant to be interesting detours than the focus of the trip. Not knowing much about these areas, I thought it would be worth a sample before we committed to a full vacation devoted to the area. My husband really wants to take the kids to Luray because that's what he recalls from his childhood. I will research the other caverns suggested and maybe we can compromise somewhere.

Thanks again!

Elizabethtown...
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5. Re: Stopover plan - does this make sense?

Actually, I also remember Luray Caverns from a childhood visit nearly 30 yrs. ago and am taking my kids later this Summer. I would consider keeping it on the list.

I realize these "detours" are not the focus of your trip, but I still think it will be overwhelming to visit them all in such a short time. Perhaps consider picking one or 2? I'm worried that you will be so rushed and tired that rather than getting a worthwhile taste that makes you want to come back for more, you will be disappointed in your visit.

All of us posting are locals that believe in supporting local tourism. We want you to enjoy the time you spend here in Central PA.

Harrisburg, PA
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6. Re: Stopover plan - does this make sense?

Unless you have something specific in mind for "Amish Country", that might be the one I'd drop from your agenda. If you're looking to experience / tour the country roads, etc. this can easily eat up an entire day. Driving it yourself is not really something you could do without local help since it's really about getting on the country roads. Don't get me wrong -- good area to visit, but might not align well with your travel schedule and plans. Have you thought about what your might do in Lancaster?

Hershey is pretty good as a stop and tour -- very specific things you can target. Just keep in mind that the museum and chocolate world (and zoo america) are all immediately adjacent to Hersheypark -- and park's sights and sounds are clearly visible and audible -- so be prepared for the "I wanna go to the park" which your boys will give you.

Getting away from Hershey for the night and closer to Harrisburg is a good idea -- the room rates will be much cheaper -- as long as there isn't a car show over in Carlisle when you're passing thru.

Gettysburg is a several hour event -- figure 2 hours minimum for the battlefield itself plus an hour or two easily in the museum depending on the attention span.

Someone mentioned Indian Echo near Hershey -- this is not nearly as nice as Luray, but if you're just looking for the cave experience, this would be a good way to achieve that without the long drive to Luray (which is longer than it looks because the parts near the cave are twisty and winding and take longer to traverse -- either getting there or getting across the mountains / down the skyline drive area to get back on course).

Baltimore might be another location to consider -- Inner Harbor with the Aquarium and Science museum might be of interest.

Manassas, Virginia
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7. Re: Stopover plan - does this make sense?

My husband and I drive from Manassas, VA to Boston every summer to visit family. We don't take such a western route since we have limited time and want to get to the family. I wanted to recommend our paths incase your trip home was more direct. We pick a spot in the NY/Connecticutt area to tour and spend one night in Connecticut to break up the trip. The first year we purchased tickets, in advance, for the Statute of Liberty and Ellis Island tour. We parked on the New Jersey side and this was a fantastic afternoon. One year we stopped in Philadelphia to see the King Tut exhibit. Last year we stopped in New Jersey and toured Thomas Edison's lab, that was super cool. Our kids are now 10,10, 15. They enjoyed the Statue of Liberty, especially since this included a boat ride. Good luck planning your route.

Boston
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8. Re: Stopover plan - does this make sense?

Hmmm....you all make a lot of sense. I think I'll revise as follows:

Drop Amish Country this time. We'll pick this up when we actually spend time and visit Hershey Park.

Go only to Chocolate World and museum (we'll be going to Busch Gardens, so we'll leave out Hershey Park this year.)

Drive to Harrisburg or Gettysburg to spend the night.

Morning in Gettysburg.

Go straight to Williamsburg.

We'll hit Luray "on the way back" to Boston. Still too much?

Caroline, do you have twins too? I have eight yo twin boys! Do you go on the NJ Turnpike during the summer? How bad is it? We'll be driving back on a Sunday. One of my guys is into Abe Lincoln right now, hence the Gettysburg stop. However, if we could swing it, they would BOTH love to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. How much time out of the day did that take?

So wondering as another possibility: Hershey to Luray. Skip Gettysburg and go to see Lady Liberty and surrounds on the way back.

Elizabethtown...
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9. Re: Stopover plan - does this make sense?

If your son is into Abe Lincoln, and your children have begun and introduction to the Civil War, I'd actually choose Gettysburg as the stop and skip Hershey. The Hershey sites, and traffic in the town will be crazy on a Saturday afternoon. Gettysburg is crazy and busy too, but it is more spread out. Like you said, you're doing Busch Gardens already. I would probably avoid taunting them with Hersheypark altogether. You said you plan to come back for that, and I definitely think it is worth a visit, you don't need to sample the area to know that.

Interestingly, we are planning a trip to Williamsburg this Summer as well, and are hitting Luray on the way back north, but are headed to a friend's wedding in SW PA and doing Monticello as well. Are you going to Monticello? It is very close to Luray. On the way down, we are going to Mount Vernon. No Busch Gardens for us. We went to Disney World 6 months ago and go to Hersheypark nearly once a week.... my husband didn't think the kids need anymore amusement park time. Oh well... we've been once before.

10. Re: Stopover plan - does this make sense?

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