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  1. #1

    Default Planning a road trip from Italy: help!!!

    Hi, we are an Italian couple planning a road trip in the USA this August. We’ve been many time in the US but always visiting the main cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles… this is our first road trip and we could use some advise.
    We have in total 15 days.
    The idea is to fly in to New Orleans, stay there a day or two and then drive to Memphis (my girlfriend is an Elvis fan) that we think we can visit in one day. From here we are thinking about 2 possible scenarios.
    The first one (perhaps the more ambitious) is to catch the old Route 66 in Springfield (MO) and drive all the way to Flagstaff (I’ve considered that will take about 3 days). Visit the Grand Canyon National Park for a couple of days and then move to Las Vegas, Death Valley and Sequoia National Park (other 3 days). After that we’d drive to S. Francisco, stay there for 3 days and eventually fly back to Italy.
    The second option is to fly (I know it may sound as a blasphemy to you guys…) from Memphis to Las Vegas, drive to the Grand Canyon (2 days). Then we would like to go to Arches National Park (which is the more scenic route the I70 or the US89/160/191?) and stay there at least one day. From there we would drive all the way up to the Black Hills (through Denver) stopping somewhere along the I25 for the night. After visiting Mount Rushmore and the Devils Tower (3 days) we would drive back to Denver, this time avoiding the interstate and visit the Custer State Park and the Badlands. One day in Denver and then fly back home. Did I underestimate the distances?
    Which of the 2 would you suggest considering that we want to enjoy the trip and not just race from one place to the other in order to make it?
    Is it easy to find hotels / motels for the night along the route (in Italy in August that would be impossible without a reservation)?
    Thanks for your help !!!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    7,879

    Default A Little Help

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    It looks like you are going to have a great trip no matter which option(s) you finally end up choosing. So let me start with a suggestion about the first part of your trip. You could just drive up the Interstate (autostrade) I-55 from New Orleans to Memphis, but since you have the time and want to see some of our country, I think you might enjoy the trip more if you take US-61, the 'Blues Highway', at least as far as Natchez. There you can take the Natchez Trace Parkway up to Tupelo and show your girlfriend Elvis' birthplace before heading into Graceland on US-78.

    Now as to your big choice of what to do for the western portion of your trip. I think I would fly to 'somewhere' in the west and do a loop tour. 'Somewhere' should be a city where you can get either a direct flight back to Italy, or at worst a direct flight to New York or Washington where you can make a good connection to Italy. The objective here is to make the travel portion of your trip as simple as possible and to save a few dollars on the car rental. Possible 'somewhere's are Denver, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Each of those would make a good base for seeing some of the places you said you wanted to visit in the American west. So, what I'd suggest is that you look at how you could do a loop trip from each, and which better suits your desires. Once you and your girlfriend have picked one, we can help you make the most of it with routings and hints of some lesser-known places to see.

    AZBuck

  3. #3

    Default Some ideas for your trip

    Hello Italy!

    I am an Elvis fan as well and plan to spend two nights in Memphis so you can spend all day in and around Graceland-when I was there in the early 90's there was the Memory Lane Inn motel next door to Graceland that sported a guitar shaped pool and a velvet painting of Mac Davis in the room and 24 hour Elvis movies-terrific! The hotel has been renovated is now called the Heartbreak Hotel

    I am all for your idea to fly from Memphis to Vegas (also think Phoenix or Denver depending on price and where your plans take you) to start second leg of your road trip. I live in San Antonio TX and have flown to Phoenix for a CA/AZ/Grand Canyon trip and last year to Denver for a CO/WY/SD trip and I think it is a great way of maximizing your holiday days in places you want to see and it can be cheaper with the price of gas as high as it is.

    Loved Estes Park Colorado (beautiful). South Dakota was so much better that I expected (the nicest people in the USA) and you must go to Sturgis to get the Harley experience (and at least some Harely Davidson t-shirts) and after you leave Rushmore check out the Crazy Horse monument just down the road. (The Harely Davidson motorcycle rally is in August in Sturgis so check out the dates as you may want to avoid going in the middle of the rally and/or you may need reservationas because it gets crazy busy there during the rally.) Custer State park is one of the most beautiful places in the US and there is a big lodge there that I wish I had been able to stay at. Check out the Badlands from the highway but don't pay $15 to drive through the park because all you see is just miles and miles of the same thing you can see free (to a certain extent) from the highway. (When I got back from my trip last year I told everyone that the Badlands are the best named place in the US because it is truly bad land-you'll see what I mean when you get there.)

    When you go to the Grand Canyon drive up, I took the tourist train and thought is was a tourist trap because once you got off you got onto one of their bus tours and immediatley got back on the train with no time to walk around for yourself go to the museum shop. etc. There are some lodges up in the Grand Canyon National park that would probably be great to stay at but definately make a reservation. If you have time check out Sedona AZ-gorgeaous!

    You all are going to have a great trip!!!
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 05-28-2007 at 03:16 AM. Reason: Preferred URL Format

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    London, England
    Posts
    1,364

    Default Good idea

    I agree with the idea of stopping at Tupelo and then heading up to Graceland. I enjoyed both when I visited recently, even though I am not a huge Elvis fan. Whilst in Memphis be sure to visit all of the other usual destinations, but be especially sure not to miss the Civil Rights Museum which is housed at the old Lorraine Motel. It is truly fascinating, just be sure to eat first, as you'll be amazed how long it takes you to work your way around it!

    I don't think you'll have any particular problem finding hotel/motel space when you're on the ground in August. But it may be worth checking with the more popular or out of the way destinations such as the National Parks. Which brings me to Death Valley - it'll be incredibly hot in August, and some people may try and disuade you from visiting then, but it's all about the heat if you ask me... don't listen to em! Just be sure to take plenty of water, a big hat and all the other sensible precautions and you'll love it!

  5. #5

    Default thanks

    Thank you guys for all your tips. My girlfriend really appreciated the Elvis' ones. We still don't know what we're going to do with the second part of the trip but we will definitely pick up a major city in the west and do a loop tour from there like you suggested.
    We will let you know as soon as we decide cause we are looking forward to receive more hints.
    Ciao

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