I've been poking around this wonderful site for the past month, reading everything I could (particularly regarding destinations we are heading for), and trying to answer some queries on the forums. My husband and I have been road-tripping since we were married 33 years ago, and before that, I traveled extensively with my parents who were both teachers and had summers off. My husband and I have done the motel-restaurant vacation, camping/motel combination vacations, have had both a pop-up tent trailer and a 5th wheel travel trailer, and for right now we're RV-less.
The upcoming trip is from our home in San Diego County, to my brother's in NJ. (We like to say we each live on the ocean, but in reality, each of us is 30 miles from the ocean!) We're making a stop in Phoenix to see my parents, then hightailing it straight to NJ (no sightseeing outside of what's along the roadside). This trip is motel-restaurant, and staying with family 3x.
In NJ, we are planning on 9 days. One day is for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Another day is for the Metropolitan Museum of Art (which has intrigued me since I first read a fiction book for children, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.). A third day will be spent seeing a few other NYC sites that interest us, and ending the day with a Broadway musical (if we can get decent tickets). A fourth day will be for anything we've missed.
That's our first question: There are tours available, of Carnegie Hall and of Lincoln Center. I LOVE theater, but my chances of seeing a show at either one is nil due to our timing. Backstage is what I'd like to see anyway (I currently direct children's musical theater). WHICH tour is more worthwhile? I don't think we'll have time to do both.
Another day while in NJ is a day trip down to Philadelphia. Since my husband and I are both into US history, we of course want to do Independence Hall, Liberty Bell, the Constitution Center, and the Betsy Ross House too.
There's our second question: Is the US Mint Tour worthwhile? Also, I notice they do not allow cameras and cell phones on the tour. Do they have facilities to lock up those items or is it safe to leave them in the trunk in a parking lot?
Third question: There is a mention of a parking garage nearby Independence Hall. From the map, it looks like the US Mint might be walkable from that garage, or is that a crazy thought?
On the way west, that's where we're going to do a little more sight-seeing. Our first stop westward is Gettysburg - one full afternoon and two full days. We're confident that will be enough for us there. We already have our hotel reservations, as we were told "get them early if you want a choice." The next stop is in Dayton, OH. Hubby is terrifically interested in planes and flight, so we want one full day at the National Museum of the Air Force. We have hotel reservations there, too, but if we could get into Wright-Patterson's Military lodge, we'd change those. The second day is where we come up with a question:
Of all the Wright Bros stuff in Dayton, what are the "do not miss" sites? We've seen listings for Carillon Historical Park, Armstrong Air & Space Museum, Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center and Wright Cycle Co., John Berry Wright Bros Aviation Center, and Huffman Field. We love seeing "this is where it happened" and museums.
Finally, a general question. With the tornadoes and such that have been taking place this year (Oklahoma, Missouri, etc), would it be worthwhile to get a weather radio and carry it with us? We will be driving through Tornado Alley both ways - both on I-40 eastbound, and I-70 westbound.