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  1. Default New Jersey to the West Coast and back again....

    Hey Everyone!
    My two friends and I are in the planning stages for the great American Cross Country Road trip. We live in NJ, and are planning on going pretty much straight across the country and back again.

    Our itinerary is:
    NJ
    to St. Louis via Rt. 70
    to Denver via Rt. 70
    to Yellowstone
    to Portland via Rt. 84
    Seattle
    Vancouver
    Mt. Rushmore via Rt. 90
    Minneapolis
    Chicago via Rt. 90/94
    Toronto
    Rochester(NY)
    NJ


    We are, unfortunately, limited by time. We have a total of 21 days to do this trip. Our plan is to really just skip over the middle section of the country. Although I am sure there are some beautiful scenes, all that open space in Kansas and Missouri and such scares us city boys! So, we are pretty much going to go straight to Denver, and then take more time to enjoy the Rocky Mountains and the West Coast. The trip back is mostly sort of a quick drive through, because we have either been to most of these cities, or they will be relatively easy to get to from NJ in future trips.

    So, I was hoping to get some advice, feedback, hints, tips on things to see, whatever. We have done two other roadtrips in the past, one up the east coast to Nova Scotia, and one down the east coast to florida. This will be our first time embarking on something so.....HUGE...and it's a little bit scary!


    The budget isn't too big of an issue, I mean, we aren't rich, but we have been saving a bit for this.

    So, if anyone has any ideas, we'd love to hear them!! Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Quite an adventure!

    Quote Originally Posted by DaGuru
    My two friends and I are in the planning stages for the great American Cross Country Road trip. We live in NJ, and are planning on going pretty much straight across the country and back again.
    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum! Sounds like quite an adventure -- when are you embarking?
    Our itinerary is: NJ to St. Louis via Rt. 70
    Is this planned for ONE day? It is nearly 900 miles (I know you guys are experienced roadtrippers), but that is 400 miles further than we recommend for a first day of travel!
    St. Louis to Denver via Rt. 70
    A second day of nearly 850 miles -- aren't you going to take the time to go up in the arch and look around St. Louis a little?
    Denver to Yellowstone
    Wow, this is almost a reasonable day at only 550 miles -- again not much time for looking around Denver or Wyoming.
    Yellowstone to Portland via Rt. 84
    Ummm, the shortest/fastest route is via Spokane and that distance is 975 miles. I think you probably are getting my drift, these interim routes are fine if you spend a couple of days covering them. What are you plans?
    So, we are pretty much going to go straight to Denver, and then take more time to enjoy the Rocky Mountains and the West Coast.
    This sounds good -- how much time are you planning to spend in the west?
    This will be our first time embarking on something so.....HUGE...and it's a little bit scary!
    That is the "adventure" part!

    Happy Planning!

    Mark

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default Lookin Good

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think your trip looks well thought out. 21 days will give you time to see what you want, but as you've already said, you will have to breeze through some areas.

    A couple of quick thoughts, you might be better off seeing Yellowstone on your way back. It is closer to your route along I-90, and then you could spend more time in Colorado and Utah, heading to Portland via Boise.

    If you do get crunched for time, I would also try to keep things flexable - particularly at the end of your trip. Toronto, for example, is a pretty significant detour, and could be done as a long weekend for you sometime, if you decide you want to spend more time out west. But it looks like you've pretty much already thought of that too.

  4. Default

    Sorry, I should have clarified. Although we are going to have some monster driving days, there are days inserted in there where we stop, hang out, see the various cities and such. So we are going to be spending a day in St. Louis to recuperate, and then head off to Denver.

    But, as I said, we are going to try and sort of breeze by the plains states, and from Denver onwards, take as much time as we need to sort of meander around, check out the sites, see the local attractions, etc.

    Midwest Michael, thanks for the tips! We have now changed our plans to hit up Yellowstone on the way back, and perhaps skip out on Toronto and Rochester in favor of more time out West. I think you are right, Toronto isn't TOO far away from NJ, but Vancouver and Boise certainly are! Since we are going out there, it might be best to skip Toronto and just focus on the west.

    Anyone know any really great things to see what I wouldn't find in the typical guidebooks? We are planning on going to the Crazy Horse Memorial, Devil's Tower, Little Bighorn, etc., but I was wondering if there are any really great sites to see, restaurants to try, or bars to visit along the way that I wouldn't really get from a guidebook. For example, I hear Kansas has amazing BBQ, and St. Louis has this ice cream place that's famous for serving upside down ice cream(i dont really understand it, but i figure i will when i see it.)


    Anyone have any suggestions on things to see?

    thanks!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Everytown USA

    Quote Originally Posted by DaGuru
    But, as I said, we are going to try and sort of breeze by the plains states, and from Denver onwards, take as much time as we need to sort of meander around, check out the sites, see the local attractions, etc.
    That is good news! There are so many cool places to explore on your route -- it becomes nearly impossible to narrow it down much. In essence, there is something to be found in every town, large or small in America.
    Anyone know any really great things to see what I wouldn't find in the typical guidebooks?
    I hate to be obtuse, but what is a typical guide book? Every single roadtrip guide book we recommend is not, what we consider to be, a typical guidebook -- I think. But there are a few places that come to mind:
    and St. Louis has this ice cream place that's famous for serving upside down ice cream(i dont really understand it, but i figure i will when i see it.)

    That is known as Ted Drewe's Concrete and as you can see from this photo -- the icecream is a tad hard to the touch.... When in Denver, go down to Larimer Square for the trendy atmosphere and then beat a retreat to Chapultepec -- home of steaming blues and smokin' jazz since the days of FrankSinatra (burritos are pretty darn good too) -- actually my favorite place for dinner is right down the street at the Giggling Grizzly.

    The bar at Indian Springs Resort is another good place to hang out if looking for characters.

    Well, that is a start.

    Mark

  6. Default

    That was awesome!! Thank you very much for the tips, that was exactly what I was looking for. I mean, guidebooks are great, and they have a comprehensive glance at everything, which is great, but I was hoping to get some personal feedback from people who have roadtripped through these places and found some really great places to hang out, eat, shop, take pictures, lie in the grass, whatever!

    My friends and I are leaving very soon, it's hard to contain my excitement!!!

    If anyone has any other suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

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