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  1. #1

    Default Washington, Philadelphia and New York Fly-drive

    We are planning a fly-drive holiday to include those three cities. I've searched online and found suggested routes with travel companies which include each of the cities but not all in one route. We have approximately 3 weeks to spare and don't really fancy just visiting the cities on their own.
    We have seen Gettysburg included in some routes and we are interested learning about the history and culture of the region. Any suggestions on where else to visit whilst over there?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    The places you mentioned are all full of US history, from the early days all the way to more recent. Gettysburg is a major Civil War battlefield.

    Washington DC - monuments to Presidents, White House, Capitol Building, and many many museums including the Smithsonian.

    Philadelphia -- the Liberty Bell, the US Mint, Independence Hall.

    NYC -- many things to see, lots of shopping, Broadway/Off-Broadway shows, museums galore.

    In the areas, there are more battlefields from the Civil War such as Manassas. Also Skyline Drive, inland Virginia, is a drive along the top of the Appalachian Mountains -- very scenic and worth the 4-5 hours it can take.


  3. #3


    Thanks DonnaR57. Can you suggest other towns/cities we should actually stopover in. We like the thought of escaping the big cities and exploring more rural areas and seeing the Appalachions is a lovely suggestion

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Some of This, Some of That

    The easiest way to do your 'mixed bag' vacation would be to divide it into urban and rural halves. Note that for the urban half you not only don't need a car, but it can actually be a burden in the three major cities you've listed, particularly New York and Washington. While they don't charge you for driving in as London does, driving can be difficult and parking both expensive and next to impossible. Instead plan to get around those cities by public transport - subways, busses, cars - and foot, and between them by rail - Amtrak. Then when you are ready to head out to the country, and only then, rent your car. This works well a couple of ways. Let's assume that you are flying into New York. You then see the three cities you've listed, rent a car in Washington, travel some more rural areas, return the car to where you started out in DC and then take the train back to New York for your return flight. This keeps your flight a simple round-trip and your car hire a local rental, both of those help keep costs down.

    I suggested renting the car from Washington because that seems to work best for the specific sites you mentioned, but you could do this rental from any city on your train 'loop' just as well. A nice driving loop from Washington might look like this: West out of town on either I-270, or the more relaxed VA-7, to US-15 north up past Catoctin Mountain National Park (Camp David) to Gettysburg. From there head west on US-30 to I-81 south through the Great Valley. Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway will be running parallel to you on the east side through Shenandoah National Park. Next head east on I-64 to Charlottesville and Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello, then on through the capital of the Confederacy, Richmond, to the Historic Triangle of Virginia which includes three of our most important historic sites: Jamestown where the first successful British colony was founded, Williamsburg where our early governmental practices were worked out, and Yorktown where we accepted Cornwallis' surrender at the end of our Revolutionary War. Complete your loop back to Washington by crossing the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay via the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel to the southern tip of the Delmarva Peninsula and head north through the still very rural Eastern Shore of Maryland stopping in some of the crabbing and oystering towns such as Chrisfield and St. Michaels, then re-crossing Chesapeake Bay on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to the lovely capital city of Maryland, Annapolis, home to the United States Naval Academy. That basic historic loop out of Washington is a total of around 750-800 miles of driving, so can be easily accommodated if you have at least 4 days to devote to it so you're not just rushing through all the great spots you're driving to. There are many more historic sites and scenic sights on it than I have listed, but that should give you an idea.


  5. #5


    I never thought about using the train and it makes so much sense. We would normally plan on using public transport within cities but not between them. I'll try to thrash out a routeincluding the places you both suggest.
    Do you think it would be far out of the way to visit the Amish country area?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Including Amish Country

    There are a couple of small, but certainly not insurmountable, problems with including Amish country in your drive around from Washington. The first is physical. Baltimore is in the way. The shortest way to Strasburg, PA (to pick an arbitrary target for your Amish destination) would have you driving right up I-95 or the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, then around Baltimore to the west on the beltway, I-695, picking up I-83 north to York and then US-30 east. But those are all major Interstate or US highways and would sort of defeat the purpose of trying to get to a more tranquil way of life. Instead, I'd suggest that you first head east past Annapolis and over the aforementioned Chesapeake Bay Bridge and then follow US-301 to MD-213 north. This will take you up a nice scenic road through Chestertown (worth a stop and walk about), Elkton and Fair Hill (steeplechase country).

    Once you cross into Pennsylvania, you'll be in perfect position to tackle the second problem. There is no 'center' to the Amish settlements in this area. If you see a billboard advertising an "Authentic Amish Experience" - whatever it is advertising is certainly none of the three. You will need to just follow some of the smaller back roads through Amish areas and keep your eyes out for the Amish. You will be able to tell their farms by how neat and well kept they are, and by the absence of power and phone lines connecting them to the grid. Some roads that go through the heart of Amish country are PA-841, PA-896, PA-741, PA-340, and the like. Just keep your speeds down and your eyes open since any time you crest a hill or round a curve you could find yourself hard on the tail of a (literally) one horsepower vehicle. Note that the Amish are a gentle folk trying to live their life in peace. They are not performers for the tourist trade and prefer not to be the subject of your snaps.

    You could then take US-30 west to Gettysburg to continue the loop.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 04-13-2012 at 04:22 PM.

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