Hi everybody! I'm turning to this forum for some advice and useful information for our summer road trip through the United States. We, that's me and my girlfriend (25 and 24 years old, from Germany), plan on flying to Newark on August 21st and back from San Francisco on September 10th.
I'll just post an itinerary and would love to get any additional information that you guys might have to share with us, especially any oddball attractions that we won't find in guide books. The places scheduled for us to visit each day are rough figures, there's a few must-sees, but apart from those destinations, pretty much everything is on a would-be-nice-to-see-if-there's-enough-time-for-it basis..
8/21: Arrival at Newark airport at around 1PM, pick up rental car, go to Liberty State Park, leave the car there, take the ferry to Manhattan and stroll around Manhattan until evening. Take the ferry back and drive to our hotel in New Jersey.
8/22: Drive to Philadelphia, go see the Independence National Historic Park and Reading Terminal Market, continue on to Baltimore where we plan to arrive in the late afternoon. Pay Fort McHenry a brief visit and take the watertaxi to the USS Constellation. Drive on to Washington where we want to be in our hotel room no later than midnight.
8/23: Visit the Mall until noon/early afternoon, the rest of the day: shopping at Potomac Mills.
8/24: Leave Washington in the morning, drive the entire Skyline Drive through Shenandoah NP, pay Staunton, VA a short visit and be in Salem, VA at 7PM where we have tickets for a minor league baseball game. Spend the night in Roanoke, VA.
8/25: Drive from Roanoke to Great Smoky Mountains NP and spend the rest of the day there.
8/26: From the Great Smokeys, drive to Chattanooga and visit Lookout Mountain, continue on to Huntsville, AL and visit Space&Rocket Center (a must for me, even if we'll end up having only an hour so to spend there). Continue to Nashville, TN, hopefully arriving there early enough to grab some dinner.
8/27: Go to Memphis, TN, possibly taking Natchez Trace Parkway for a bit.
8/28: From Memphis, drive through Mississippi Delta to Vicksburg, MS, go sight-seeing there, continue to New Orleans via Jackson.
8/29: Spend the day in New Orleans.
8/30: Drive from New Orleans to Austin, hopefully arriving by late afternoon/early evening to meet friends there. I doubt we'll have enough time to visit Houston Space Center?
8/31: From Austin, drive to San Antonio (via San Marcos' outlet malls), visit the Alamo, King Williams Historic District and spend the evening strolling aside the Riverwalk.
9/1: From San Antonio, drive to Carlsbad Caverns and be there early enough to get into the caves and have a look around before they close for the day.
9/2: From Carlsbad, NM, go to White Sands NM and from there to Santa Fé, NM. Spend the evening strolling around Santa Fé.
9/3: From Santa Fé to Monument Valley, possibly visit Canyon de Chelly before spending the night in Window Rock, AZ. Is Four Corners worth a visit?
9/4 From Window Rock, AZ drive through Petrified Forest NP to Sedona, AZ. Maybe see Walnut Canyon on the way? From Sedona continue to Grand Canyon village (possibly visiting Sunset Crater and Wupatki National Monument on the way). Window Rock, Sedona and Grand Cayon are givens, do you think we'll have enough time see the other sights mentioned on the way?
9/5 See sunrise at Grand Canyon, leave for Page, AZ before noon. See two or possibly all three of: Horseshoe Bend, Lake Powell, Lower Antelope Canyon. What would be the best order to see them in on this day? In the evening, drive back to Grand Canyon village to spend the night.
9/6 From Grand Canyon village to Las Vegas, visiting Grand Canyon Caverns on the way. Arrive in Las Vegas in the late afternoon/early evening, spend the rest of the evening on the strip.
9/7 From Las Vegas, drive through Death Valley to Bakersfield, CA.
9/8 From Bakersfield to Yosemite NP, be there as early as possible, leave for Modesto, CA as late as possible. Spend the night in Modesto.
9/9 From Modesto to San Francisco via Golden Gate Bridge. Spend the day and the night in San Francisco.
9/10 Drop off rental car and board plane back to Munich.
I'd absolutely appreciate it if someone took the time and effort to reality-check our trips for each day and let me know if there's something wrong with any planned route. All the hotels have already been booked, though, so we can't change those. Any additional information about places to go or things to do would be more than welcome.