Mother/teen daughter Ca to Ma
Planning on leaving in July from Monterey, California and traveling to Boston, Ma to participate in the Breast Cancer 3 day 60 mile walk! Open to any suggestions on fun, safe routes. Mother and teen daughter so-us together in the car may be excitement alone! We have never been east of UTAH! Thank you in advance for your assistance!
A Long Drive for a Long Walk
Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!
Congratulations (and thanks) for travelling all that way to join in the Walk. Much of what people can tell you about possible routes and stops depends on what you and your daughter find interesting. So what have the two of you had fun at in the past? What are your (and her) hobbies? Another big consideration: How much time do you have for the trip? The difference between two weeks (the minimum necessary to make the drive and spend 3 days in Boston) and three weeks is immense in terms of what you can accomplish. Is your daughter old enough to drive? How comfortable are the two of you with map reading? Would you rather stick to Interstates or would you prefer to wander around on lesser used (and sometimes poorly marked) back roads. On such answers hinges any assistance that people can give that's useful to you, the strength of this forum. One note though. There really aren't any unsafe roads in the US. Every road is somebody's local street.
I was planning on 2 and a half weeks on the road and then the three day Walk. After the Walk, a night in a Boston spa/resort! We will fly home.
FOR THE ROAD TRIP, I need a travel plan, which states to travel through as far as best time wise and sights to see. We are on a budget, not too tight, but important to mention. My daughter is 16 and can drive, however rental car company will say otherwise and that is ok. We love the outdoors and are finding ourselves pretty proud of our country. We feel the need to see more of it!
Since I am the driver, that makes my daughter the map reading. I have faith in her, but would prefer not too complicated of directions. I am excited about the trip, the Walk, but mostly spending quality time with my daughter!
2.5 weeks one way?
If I'm reading right, you'll have about 2.5 weeks to travel cross country. That amount of time opens up literally dozens, if not hundreds, of possibilities.
It would be easier to advise you if we had a clearer idea of what you want to see along the way. Do you have any specific places you'd love to go. Any national parks or other sights that you've both really wanted to see?
Personally, I think I would travel a more southern route and focus on some of the Southeast and then up the coast to Boston. But going across the mid-America and more northern route has tons of great stuff to offer as well. And, of course, you could do a reverse Route 66 to Chicago and then head east from there.
What interests you both?
Excellent Set Up
Two and a half weeks to cross the country by car, an interest in nature, and the desire to spend quality time with your travelling companion. You have all the makings of a great trip. You could do this the fast way and just cruise across America on I-80 and I-90 and get to Boston in as little as 6 days, but that doesn't sound like what you want. So let me make the following suggestion(s) which you are free to modify, add to, or reject. Hopefully you'll get other input, both here and from family and friends, and not least of all, your daughter. But if I had 2+ weeks to cross the country, here's one route that, even though it's only about 700 mile longer than the shortest possible, has a lot to offer.
Start out by heading south down US-101. If you've never taken it, try county road G16 from Carmel through Carmel Valley over to Greenfield, south of Soledad. If this is going to be a voyage of discovery, start opening your eyes close to home. At Paso Robles take CA-46 and CA-99 to Bakersfield and then CA-58 to Barstow. One stop along the way if either of you is into planes or space, or liked the movie The Right Stuff, might be Edwards Air Force Base. From Barstow, head north on I-15 passing the Mojave National Preserve on your way to Las Vegas. While in Vegas, which is becoming much more family oriented, take the time to hike through some of the great red rock country thereabouts such as Valley of Fire State Park or Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. From Vegas, continue up I-15 and take in Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park. It would be a fairly major detour, but you do have the time, so if you also have the inclination you can take UT-9, US-89, Alt-US-89 and AZ-67 from Zion down to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and then retrace your steps back to Zion. Just north of Beaver, UT you'll turn east off of I-15 onto I-70 for one of the most beautiful stretches of Interstate that exists. Before leaving Utah, take a short side trip south on US-191 to Arches National Park. Returning to I-70, your next stops would be just across the Colorado state line at the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area (formerly the Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area) and the Colorado National Monument. Then just west of Denver, leave I-70 for a short detour up (technically west on) US-40 to US-34 east through Rocky Mountain National Park. Once through the park, stay on US-34 until it joins I-76 at Wiggins, CO.
At this point you are out of the mountain west and on to the Great Plains. You'll be following the course of the South Platte and North Platte Rivers as you head east on I-76 and I-80, but more importantly you'll be following the old Oregon Trail with lots of historic, and scenic, landmarks. In fact as long as you follow the rivers, up until Grand Isle, NE, the way will be strewn with numerous smaller state parks, recreation areas and historic sites. While not as spectacular as some of the sights you will have seen farther west, they are still worth the time to explore or just handy for pleasant picnic lunches. At Lincoln, NE, a short cut-off is in order. Take NE-2 east into Iowa and join up with I-29. One nice stop on the way down to Kansas City is the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge. Outside Kansas City in Independence, although it's not 'outdoors', I recommend the Harry Truman National Historic Site. It's Harry's home and if nothing else is a great reminder of how down to Earth our presidents were not that long ago. Then it's across Missouri on I-70 to St. Louis. A 'must-see' for anyone with pride in the country is the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. Be sure to both visit the museum and ride to the top of the Arch. There is also (I'm told) a nice little interactive exhibit on the Corps of Discovery up where the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers join but on the Illinois side of the river. When I was there, there were just a few monuments, but even then it was a moving place. Leave St. Louis on I-64 and once in Indiana, turn southeast using I-164, IN-66 and US-231 to Owensboro, KY where you'll get on the Green River Parkway down to I-65.
At this point your mind set should change from Midwest to Appalachia. A short trip north on I-65 will bring you to Mammoth Cave National Park. I recommend that you try to hit this early in the morning, say 8 AM, as it can get quite crowded later in the day. After a bit of caving, you head back down (south) I-65 a short way to connect with the Cumberland Parkway and KY-80 for a scenic drive across southern Kentucky and then take I-75 south to Knoxville, TN. In Knoxville, use I-640, I-40 and TN-66 to get to US-441 which will take you south through Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As you leave the park, you can get on the Blue Ridge Parkway which will carry you northward up the spine of the Appalachians. There are several side trips available from the parkway including the Biltmore Estate in Ashville, NC and Monticello outside Charlottesville.
From the later, head north on US-29 to I-66 and on into Washington, DC. If nothing else, be sure to tour the National Mall and look into visits to the White House, the Capitol and the Supreme Court. Then it's up I-95 to Baltimore and Fort McHenry and then Philadelphia and the Independence National Historical Park. Then follow the Delaware River north by way of PA-611 and US-209 into the Delaware Water Gap at the northern end of which you'd connect with I-84 which will take you eastward to the Massachusetts Turnpike and thence into Boston.
So, that's one way you could go. There are others, but I think that does best by what you've said you've wanted. I've concentrated on the scenic and national interest bits along the way, but there are also other attractions. If you'd like more or other things to see, or need clearer directions, just speak up.
THANK YOU so much, AZBuck. Well it looks like I have some homework to do. I needed that push to get everything in motion!
One alternative that I especially enjoy is heading up the Taconic State Parkway in New York state. It is a scenic drive, and if you happen to be on it at the right time, there is a rest area where you can witness the awe-inspiring beauty of sunset over the Catskills.
Then come into MA on route 23, connecting to I-90 from US-7 in Lee.
This wouldn't be the most direct route into Boston, of course, but if you have time, it is a nice side trip. As an added bonus, I-90 tends to flow better than I-84, and much of it has been repaved over the past couple of years.
If you happen to go to Mammoth Cave, the lantern tour is an interesting way to see the caverns. Also, if you can do it, you can make reservations for tours ahead of time.