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East Coast road trip June 2010

Helsinki, Finland
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East Coast road trip June 2010

[I'm posting this same post in forums: Road Trips, Washington DC, Boston, New York, Shenandoah National Park, Newport, New Haven, Delaware and Wildwood. This way you can get an overview of our plans. If you want you can just answer the parts that have to do with this forum.]

We are planning a East Coast roadtrip for June. I have a draft plan for now and many open questions. I'm hoping someone here could help us.

First some information about us, to help you to help us. We are a couple (29&31) from Finland. We are interested in history, arts, nature and getting a glance of the local life. We are targeting a budget of about 300$ per day. We don't mind roughing it a bit sometimes and are ready for adventure and looking for new experiences.

We don't mind driving, actually enjoy it since we don't have a car at home. So even long drives are ok, but we prefer more scenery routes than big highways. So scenic route suggestions would be welcome.

We also like to eat, so recommendations for outstanding and relatively cheap places to eat would be great. With relatively cheap I'm thinking about <10$ for breakfast, <20$ for lunch and <40$ for dinner per person. We are not picky with what kind of food we eat (as long as it's good), but seafood is unfortunately out of question because of allergies.

So here's our draft plan:

June 12-16th NYC

Reserved Chelsea Star hotel, will try to find something better in Priceline. Planning to visit at least MET, top of the rock, coney island and brooklyn museum. Also taking staten island ferry around sunset time, trying to get a local "guide" through the big apple greeter programme, going to a broadway show and jazz at lincoln center. Otherwise we just plan on walking around the different areas and seeing what interesting comes up. Any comments on this?

June 16th NYC - New Haven - Newport

Will rent a car before noon. Planning on renting the car from Jersey city, since it's cheaper there, and it would be convenient for returning the car. We are planning to first drive to New Haven to visit Yale University. Any hints on roads we should take? Or what would be best time to drive? Wouldn't want to get stuck in the traffic. After Yale we plan to head for Newport. Anything interesting we could visit between these? In Newport we have reserved a room in Marshall Slocum Inn. We plan to walk the Cliff Walk in the evening before it gets dark. We are thinking if we should also visit some of the mansions in addition to seeing them from the walk. Waht do you think?

Thursday June 17th Newport - Plymouth - Boston

We are planning to visit the Plymouth Plantasion on the way to Boston. In Boston we are staying overnight at Sheraton Boston (Priceline) and are interested in whale watching cruise, Harvard University and Freedom walk. Anything else we should do? We plan to park our car overnight at Braintree metro station and take the metro to the center. Is this ok?

Friday June 18th Boston - ?

After spending the day in Boston, we plan to head south. We want to either go to Amish country near Lancaster or head towards Washington DC. (We should to be in DC latest around 2pm on Saturday). Any comments on should we go to the Amish country for the night and morning, or skip it to have more time in DC?We were also thinking how bad the traffic is? What time should we leave Boston in order not to hit too much traffic? Would it be better to leave later, say after 6 or 7, even if this means driving late? If we decide to skip Amish country, which would be a good place for overnight stop on the way from Boston to DC? preferably no more than 3 hours from DC.

Saturday June 19th ? - DC

We have tour for Capitol at 3pm. Before or after this we want to visit the Library of Congress (we are big book nerds). If we arrive to DC early enough, I would also like to visit the zoo, mainly to see the pandas and the gomodo dragons. We also hope to make it to one of the museums in the evening (Natural history or American history, since they are open until 7:30). After the museum we plan to eat somewhere before hitting the monuments. And if we still have any energy after this, we could go out somewhere, preferably to a place with live jazz? We are staying at Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill (Priceline). Planning to park the car at Union Station.

Sunday June 20th DC - Shenandoah

At 9:30 we have tickets for the Washington Monument. After this we plan either to visit a museum or join the DC by Foot walking tour. For lunch we plan to try out the cafeteria in the museum of American Indian, and maybe also check some exhibits in this museum. After lunch we would still have time for one more museum. This would mean making it into 2-3 museums during our time in DC (not counting the american indian). Our top options now are American History, Natural history, African Art, Air and space, and the National gallery of art. Which ones would be your favorites and why? In the afternoon we plan to head for the Skyline Drive. Any opinions about the Luray Caverns, are they worth a visit? For the night we are camping at the Loft Mountain Campground, and plannning to do some hiking before sunset.

Monday June 21st Shenandoah - ?? - Wildwood

This day is still very much open. We have tickets for the 7:45pm ferry from Lewis to Cape May. So first in the morning (after a morning hike) we drive until the end of the Skyline drive, but then we have at least two options. We could drive to Annapolis, then to Ocean City and up the coast to Lewis. Another option is drive to Hampton and from there across the bridge and up towards Lewis. Which option sounds better and why? Or is there a third option that would be even better? What should we see on the way? We would love to see some nice scenery and enjoy the sea. For the night, we have reserved the Blue Palms hotel in Wildwood. (This can still be changed, in case there are better options.)

Tuesday June 22nd Wildwood - NYC

Planning to spend the morning by the beach and boardwalk, then drive back to Jersey City to return the car. Anything on the way we should visit or see? Hoping to be back in NYC latest by 4pm. Got a good deal for the Salisbury hotel for the night.

Wednesday June 23rd NYC

Last day of the US part of our vacation, flying to Iceland in the evening.

We would really appreciate all help you can give!

Boston, MA
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1. Re: East Coast road trip June 2010

It looks like you've got less than 24 hours planned in Boston. You won't fit in Whale Watching, Harvard and the Freedom Trail very easily. The whale watch will take about 4 hours, and if you plan to see the INSIDE of any of the Freedom Trail venues, you need to know that most are opened approx 10 to 5 so getting up early or staying out late, doesn't help.

Boston to DC is about 450 miles ... probably more than 8 hours to drive.

Personally, for the time you've got allocated ... I think you need to skip Pennsylvania or Boston or DC ... I don't think you are spending enough time to do anhy of these places justice.

Edited: 27 March 2010, 23:26
Boston, MA
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2. Re: East Coast road trip June 2010

I agree with FMP above about Pennsylvania ; some other thoughts:

In NYC - don't be afraid to use the subway during the day. Some places you might want to experience: Rockerfeller Center, Central Park, a walk down 5th Avenue, Times Square. I also love the NY Public Library - if it is a nice day, grab a slice of pizza and sit on the steps or at one of the outdoor tables it is a wonderful spot to watch the city go by.

Newport - definitely tour a mansion or 2. The Breakers (Vanderbilt's) is spectacular tickets.newportmansions.org/mansion.aspx…

Boston - yes it fine to leave the car in Braintree (and smart, too!) The Sheraton is centrally located. As FMP mentioned, a whale watch is 4 hours, so you will need to make a decision as to which is your highest priority - the Whale Watch or Freedom Trail. Boston is a compact city, easy to get around on public transportation. Harvard is nearby on the Red Line of the subway. There are good places to eat in Harvard Square, one "famous" place is Bartley's Burgers http://www.mrbartley.com/ The North End of Boston is an Italian neighborhood with dozens of restaurants - a board favorite is LaSumma. Plan on leaving Boston mid-morning to avoid rush-hour.

Boston...
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3. Re: East Coast road trip June 2010

Hi,

I understand that this is your vacation, but this vacation (with exception to NYC) seems very rushed. I understand that you don't mind driving, but you will have a hard time getting a good feel for any of the places you have a one night visit planned.

After New Haven, you can take Route 1 starting in Westerly, Rhode Island. This road is closer to the ocean and at times very scenic. Cruise through Narragansett on 1 and take it to the exit for the bridges over to Newport.

Yes, you should visit The Breakers mansion while in Newport. Later in the evening, head down to Thames Street and the wharves around there. Lots of hustle and bustle going on around and plenty of places to grab a bite to eat. Take a drive along Ocean Drive if you get the chance.

Plymouth Plantation will take about 3-4 hours to visit. Your idea to park at the Braintree T station and take the train in is a good one..BUT...you will be arriving on a weekday so you won't find available parking there until around 5pm. Just keep that in mind. Have a late lunch or early dinner in Plymouth before making the 45 minute drive to park the car if it's still too early after visiting the Plantation.

Boston: Check into your hotel and head over to Harvard Square. The following day you can walk the Freedom Trail which will allow you to see a good bit of Boston.

I would skip the Pennsylvania portion of your trip since you'll be driving from Boston towards DC. Or, you can use a town like Lancaster to overnight in before driving into DC for your day there.

Happy Travels!

Helsinki, Finland
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4. Re: East Coast road trip June 2010

Thanks for so many helpful advice!

We are now considering doing two separate car rentals, one from Providence (for Newport area) and second from DC to Jersey City. And use Amtrak for other parts (New York - (New Haven-)Providence-Boston-DC). This would at least reduce some driving time.

By taking train instead of rental car, we could stop at New Haven, or skip it and go straight to Providence. In first option we could be at Providence at 11:50 or 2:31, on second at 10:24. Then by renting the car, we could either head for Plymouth, or skip it altogether and go straight to Newport. This would also give us more time in Newport, so we could visit 1-2 of the mansions and see more of the city. And we wouldn't need to worry about parking in Boston! Does this sound like an improvement to our plan?

Boston, MA
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5. Re: East Coast road trip June 2010

I would recommend to thin out your itinerary a bit. I would skip New Haven, Plymouth, and Lancaster entirely to give yourself more time in Newport and Boston. Also, think about your travel times while you're around NYC, DC, and Boston. There is always traffic during weekday morning and evening commutes.

Haverhill...
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6. Re: East Coast road trip June 2010

If you do go to New Haven, be sure to stop at Pepe's Pizza....there's always a line, so get there early. The Yale Art Museum is free admission, so a quick stop there is worth it.

But like all the others said, you're really running yourself thin....you can't possibly squeeze everything in without rushing, and even then, you still will not have enough time.

Boston...
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7. Re: East Coast road trip June 2010

If it were me, I would cut out New Haven and Plymouth and focus more time on Newport and Boston.

And yes, taking the train would be a good idea. It will allow you to relax from NYC to Providence. Rent car, go to Newport. Return car in Providence and take the train into Boston.

Boston
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8. Re: East Coast road trip June 2010

I also think your first itinerary is far too ambitious and rushed. But about New Haven, I guess it depends on why you were interested. I think the Yale campus is really beautiful and there are several great museums there. But if you lose two hours just to the time getting off the highway and finding parking (I think this is realistic) then perhaps it's not worth it. I also really love Plimouth Plantation, but it's not worth doing unless you have at least two solid hours inside the museum. So counting the time getting off the highway, parking, getting tickets and so on, you need at LEAST three hours. By the way, your food budget sounds fine and I think you will find tons of places to eat at those prices. Skip the hotels for breakfast (expensive and slow). At dinner some places cost much more than $40 per person but this also depends on your extras. Ethnic restaurants tend to be more affordable. I think you are going to feel rushed in Washington DC on the day you plan to be hiking in the mountains by sunset and then camping! Just reread your itinerary outline -- no, don't stop anywhere between New Haven and Newport! I do think you are trying to do too much. You should not have bad traffic problems though because this is a weekday and it sounds like you will

9. Re: East Coast road trip June 2010

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