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  1. Default 8 days, San Diego to Boston

    Hi Travellers,

    I'm moving from San Diego to Boston this August and am seizing the opportunity to take my first cross-country road trip. I have 8 days to get across. My friend's coming along for the ride.

    Given my time frame, are byways & two-lane highways still an option, or will I need to stick to interstates? Do interstates mean missing out on the best of the experience of the open road?

    Some have suggested the south-westerly portions of Route 66 would be beastly hot, and strongly urge us to take a more northern route. But isn't pretty much the whole middle of the country blazing hot and sticky in summer? Would you guys recommend avoiding any particular states or regions in summer?

    The truth is, I'd like to see the whole country, so I'm torn about which route to choose. Especially with only 8 days, and no idea when my next chance to do this kind of thing is coming. I'd love some input on which route to take. Is there one that's more "don't miss!" than another? I want to get the maximum fun and experience out of my 8 days.

    Thank you all for any guidance, advice or gentle reality checks you can offer!

    -KG

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Pick a Route, Any Route

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America forum.

    You can easily cross the country in 8 days, and take quite a few non-interstates in the process. You also have a choice of a number of different routes by which to accomplish the journey, but they don't differ all that much in the number of miles required. The three basic choices are:

    I-90 to Chicago, I-80 to western Nebraska, I-76 to Denver, I-70 to Utah, I-15 to San Diego (3058 miles)

    I-84 to New York, I-78/I-81 to Harrisburg, I-70 to St. Louis, I-44/I-40 to Flagstaff, I-17/I-8 to San Diego (3027 miles)

    I-84 to New York, I-95 to DC, I-66/I-81 to Knoxville, I-40 to Little Rock, I-30 to Dallas, I-20/I-10 to Tucson, I-8 to San Diego (3144 miles)

    To cover any of those basic routes (and you can also mix and match portions of more than 1) would only require you to drive about 400 miles a day which, especially with 2 drivers, is a very relaxed pace and allows for quite a bit of sightseeing along the way. You will have to pick sights relatively close to the interstates and keep your backroading to roads that parallel the main route and don't go through large cities, but those are not major restrictions. So get a good paper map or atlas of the US and look at each of those routes with your friend. See what along each you feel that you must see - it's your trip after all. Once you've got a basic route and a few stops in mind, then we can get down to details like particular scenic byways or smaller scale stops.

    As far as August in the desert southwest goes, I can't recommend it. I'm a New Englander at heart, and in August here in Tucson, it's typically over 100 every day with an afternoon mugginess building to the inevitable evening thunder showers. On the other hand, there are fewer people, and almost no tourists, around.

    AZBuck

  3. Default

    Hi AZBuck,

    Thanks for the welcoming, and the detailed, informative reply, especially the route breakdowns with exact mileage.

    Coming from San Diego's mild weather, I may be in for some weather shock just about anywhere I go. What part of New England are you from? How hot would you say Boston summers get?

    Early next week I'll sit down with my friend and an atlas and we'll take a good look at the options. I'll post the info once we choose a basic route and select some stops.

    Thanks for your help!
    KG

  4. Default I have some more details now....

    Hi! Well it took closer to a month than a week for me and my friend to find a time when we were both free to start planing our upcoming trip.

    We're thinking of driving through Las Vegs, maybe stopping for lunch and a quick look around, and reaching Utah by night. We'd like to spend a day in Utah in Bryce Canyon National Park. Which means we may not have much play time for the rest of the trip.

    We'd like to drive by Salt Lake City, just to see Salt Lake. From there we're not sure. We could drive into Colorado, or up through a bit of southern Wyoming. I have a hankering to see Wyoming so I'm probably leaning toward that route. If we go through Wyoming, we'd drive through Nebraska to Iowa. If we go through Colorado, we'll drive through Kansas. Then drive on to Iowa, to visit my co-road tripper's friend, stopping for the night. Then on to Chicago, where we'd like to spend an afternoon (time permitting) and stay the night. Possibly stop in Indiana to see some friends.

    Then drive to Niagra Falls and possibly Toronto. We may stop in Rochester, NY to visit some friends of mine. We haven't firmed up the NY to Boston segment yet.

    How feasible is the Chicago-Niagra Falls-Toronto-Rochester idea? How long does it take to get from point to point? How long do you think we should allow for Niagra Falls? We have 8 days total to get from San Diego to Boston. We realize that spending a whole day in Colorado may leave us little time to sight-see at Niagra Falls. How long do you think we'd need to get the Niagra Falls experience?

    Also, any suggestions on cool things to do and see given our short time. Especially, the best use of an evening (and afternoon) in Chicago. Since that city has so much to offer, and neither of us has ever been, we're not sure where to begin.

    We've checked a couple guide books out of the library, but if anyone has any firsthand suggestions or experiences regarding fun things to do, see, and cheap places to stay, that'd be welcome information, as well. (We're on a pretty tight budget.)

    Thanks again!

    Keren/Road Runner
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 07-19-2006 at 09:22 AM. Reason: format

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default A decent plan

    We're thinking of driving through Las Vegs, maybe stopping for lunch and a quick look around, and reaching Utah by night. We'd like to spend a day in Utah in Bryce Canyon National Park. Which means we may not have much play time for the rest of the trip.
    That should be very feasable. And on your schedule, Bryce Canyon shouldn't hurt the rest of your schedule that much.

    We'd like to drive by Salt Lake City, just to see Salt Lake. From there we're not sure. We could drive into Colorado, or up through a bit of southern Wyoming. I have a hankering to see Wyoming so I'm probably leaning toward that route.
    If you go via Salt Lake, I would highly recommend continuing on I-80 through Wyoming. Going through Colorado would require some significant backtracking to the south, so it looks like your hankerin will serve you well.

    If we go through Colorado, we'll drive through Kansas. Then drive on to Iowa, to visit my co-road tripper's friend, stopping for the night.
    If you do decide to take the Colorado route, I would recommend cutting up to Nebraska via I-76 instead of going through Kansas. It will save you quite a bit of time if you want to visit Chicago on your trip.

    How feasible is the Chicago-Niagra Falls-Toronto-Rochester idea? How long does it take to get from point to point? How long do you think we should allow for Niagra Falls?
    Its a perfectly feasable idea. I'd probably go to Toronto before Niagra Falls though. Chicago to Toronto is about 500 miles, so its a good long drive, but very doable in one day. Just remember to bring your drivers license AND birth certificate or a passport for crossing the border.

    I'd alot at least a couple of hours at Niagra Falls. Its a tourist zoo, so even taking just a quick stop ends up taking more time than you might expect.

    Especially, the best use of an evening (and afternoon) in Chicago. Since that city has so much to offer, and neither of us has ever been, we're not sure where to begin.
    I'd probably say take a trip to the top of either the Sears Tower of the Hancock Building, and maybe take a stroll through one of the city's many world class museums. But really, there are so many options is can be very hard to narrow them down on a quick trip.

  6. Default Colorado and more questions

    Thanks for the great info, Michael.

    If we end up skipping Salt Lake, and stay in southern Utah, would Colorado make more sense? If we go straight from Bryce, what would be a good route through Colorado? We've heard it's a beautiful state. We're still looking at our options right now, which is why I ask. Of course, I imagine Wyoming is beautiful too. So hard to choose.

    How difficult is mountain driving? My car is a stick shift, a small Honda Civic.

    What would be a good place to stop in Wyoming/along Route 80? Would it make sense to spend a night there, or just drive right through stopping only for a meal? Are there any particular small towns you'd recommend checking out? I really wanna get the flavor of local life, the mom and pop shops, the local honky tonk, etc. If we wanted to spend half a day somewhere in Wyoming, do you think it would still leave us enough time for the half-day in Niagra and half-day in Chicago? And is Cheyenne a must see?

    If we go to Toronto first (from Chicago), how many miles/hours from Toronto to Niagra Falls? And do you recommend the American or Canadian side of the falls?

    Finally, can you recommend a good place to spend our evening in Chicago? A great jazz club, or other uniquely Chicago kind of spot?

    Thanks so much for your ideas and advice!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default More (and less)

    Quote Originally Posted by Road Runner
    If we go straight from Bryce, what would be a good route through Colorado?
    For some thoughts on things to do while crossing Colorado from the southwest to Denver, check the second half of this post.

    Quote Originally Posted by Road Runner
    How difficult is mountain driving?
    It's really not that bad. There are a few more things to keep in mind, especially with a stick shift. Don't lug the engine on climbs, and keep your speed down on the descents. Both entail keeping the car in a lower gear than you might be used to. But, in general, I find mountain driving more fun than a headache.

    Quote Originally Posted by Road Runner
    What would be a good place to stop in Wyoming/along Route 80?
    With all the other stops you have planned, including Las Vegas, Salt Lake, Colorado (somewhere), Iowa, Chicago, Niagara Falls, and Toronto, you're really going to have to start to limit yourself if you really plan to get from San Diego to Boston in only 8 days. You can get the flavor of anywhere in the country, by getting off the Interstates and away from the exit businesses. Drive into any small town, find the local eatery, talk to your waitress, and walk around afterwards. Just keep your eyes and ears and yourself open to the experience.

    Quote Originally Posted by Road Runner
    How many miles/hours from Toronto to Niagra Falls? And do you recommend the American or Canadian side of the falls?
    Toronto to Niagara Falls is only about 80 miles along good roads. If you're continuing on to Boston, you'll have to cross the Niagara River, so you might as well take the little extra time and see the falls from both sides and make your own decision.

    Quote Originally Posted by Road Runner
    Finally, can you recommend a good place to spend our evening in Chicago? A great jazz club, or other uniquely Chicago kind of spot?
    To be honest, while I know Chicago is famous for its jazz clubs, what leaps to my mind as uniquely Chicago is not jazz but comedy. Chicago is home to the Second City which has produced such comics as Joan Rivers, John and Jim Belushi, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, Chris Farley, Mary Gross, Bonnie Hunt, George Wendt, Shelley Long, and many others. The list is pretty impressive.

    AZBuck

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Québec, Montreal, Arizona, California, France
    Posts
    761

    Default Boston, Niagara and Chicago

    Hi RoadRunner!

    How hot would you say Boston summers get?
    It's always kind of tricky to answer a question about the weather. Presently, the north east is experiencing a heat wave and the temps are way over the usual average for this time of the year (any time of the year). Let's say it can be anywhere between 70 and 100 degrees and it can be sunny, foggy, rainy, humid, etc.

    And do you recommend the American or Canadian side of the falls?
    If I'd have to choose bewtween the two, I definitely give my vote to the Canadian side.

    Finally, can you recommend a good place to spend our evening in Chicago? A great jazz club,
    The first jazz club that I can think of on the top of my head is the very famous Green Mill.

    Have a great trip!
    Gen

  9. #9

    Default Toronto to Niagara Falls

    I have driven from Toronto to Niagara Falls a few years back. I dont remember how much time it took to get there, but the drive was very nice. My vote goes for the Canadian Side of the Falls as that is where the majority of the falls is located. Going back to Toronto, if one wants to visit an interesting part of town, make sure to hit Queen Street. Its similar to a fashion district in any major city. There are electric trolleys that run bothways down the center of the four lane road(interesting driving during rush hour traffic especially with a huge american car from the late 60's, like I had when I was there for a day). There are also hundreds of little shops, resturants, and tourist trap things to see along that street.

    You will need your birth certificate and passport to get into and out of Canada. I doubt if you will be required to show either one to the customs folks. I wasnt asked for either when I went through about three weeks ago. I had both in plain sight on the dash of my truck, that might of helped me out too. I try to avoid border crossings at major cities as these can be a real headache to get through. Answer the questions from the Customs Officers with short and precise answers and be ready to explain why you are crossing into Canada and for how long. Be as accurate as you can be with both of those questions. I have found that the majority of the officers are friendly and helpful if you ask for directions to certain landmarks or the best way to get to a certain road. But ask these things after they have waved you through as they have their job to do first and foremost.

    Above all else have fun and watch out for parking in Canada as I found out that many public looking lots are not so public. Thats a topic for another discussion though. Enjoy the trip it sounds like fun so far.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default Correction

    Quote Originally Posted by galaxie50059
    IYou will need your birth certificate and passport to get into and out of Canada. I doubt if you will be required to show either one to the customs folks.
    Actually, you just need one or the other. A passport is preferred (and will be required in 2008) but for now a birth certificate or Voter ID card and a photo ID will suffice.

    I would also be very suprised if you were not asked for such documents. I honestly can't think of a single time I wasn't asked for one or the other, and while you'll probably still be let through if you don't have them, they have every right to refuse entry.

    Quote Originally Posted by galaxie50059
    Above all else have fun and watch out for parking in Canada as I found out that many public looking lots are not so public.
    I've had a similar experience. I was parked in a Toronto parking garage, where it said something like $8 for the first hour and $4 for each additional, I put my money in the machine to pay for 3 hours of parking, and for some reason it only gave me a reciept good for 2 hours of parking. When I came back to the car, sure enough I had a parking ticket.

    However, I did get out of it since the meter maid was less than observant. He/She marked down my license plate as being from Ontario on the ticket, so needless to say, I never sent in a check.

    Even more odd, its not the first time that's happened. I can only think of 5 times total where I've gotten a parking ticket, and 3 of those times my plate was written down as being from the wrong state!

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