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  1. #1

    Default Road trip advice - Delaware to Denver in Thanksgiving week

    Greetings. I am planning to drive from Wilmington, Delaware to Denver, Colorado and wanted to seek your advice. Reason for the trip is to purchase and tow a small, 275 lb cargo trailer back to DE from Denver.

    I would like to do this trip in 8 days if possible and plan to leave on Nov 20th. Am seeking your advice on:

    - any construction delays or any factors (winter conditions, traffic, etc?) to consider while deciding between either Interstate 70 (my first choice) or Interstate 80 for this trip.

    - suggested overnight stops along the route that have safe, reasonably priced lodging?

    - any neat sights along the way that you can suggest? Would be nice to see something interesting while taking a 2-3 hour break from driving.

    - and finally...(not large chain) restaurants you recommend that are close to I-70 in Missouri, Kansas or Colorado that I can get a great steak dinner?

    I'll be driving an older model AWD Honda CRV. Am going to spend this weekend attending to all the fluids, tire pressures, etc. Have purchased a set of tire chains just in case they are needed, will pack an emergency kit, shovel, and a boxed set of Doc Watson's albums to keep me company :-). Anything else I should definitely take along?

    Will appreciate your advice on my questions. Thank you.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default A Good, Steady Pace

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    If the weather cooperates, eight days would be just about right for this journey. Three and a half day out, a half day to get things in order for the return trip, and three and a half days back. I'd suggest I95 south to Baltimore (You are familiar with the ways around the Delaware Turnpike toll, no?), I-695 around the northern side of Baltimore, I-70 west to Hancock MD, I-68 west to Morgantown WV, I-79 north to rejoin I-70 for the rest of the drove to Denver (with appropriate beltways such as I-270 at Columbus, I-465 at Indianapolis, I-270 at St. Louis, and I-435 at Kansas City. Overnight stops westbound would thus be around the west side of Columbus OH, Columbia MO, and Burlington CO. You could probably get a little farther than that each day, but the places I've recommended are relatively quiet, let you get on the road each morning without having to fight large city rush hours, and have a range of lodging options. Being willing to settle for a few fewer miles each day means that you will also have time for a few short R&R stops each day.

    Eastbound, you should also plan on a bit less than the maximum number of miles that you might otherwise expect to cover as well. While a small trailer won't slow you down all that much, it will require more attentive driving and make that driving all the more stressful. Plan on overnight stops on the east side of Topeka KS, around Terre Haute IN, and Washington PA.

    Without knowing exactly what pace you'll finally set for yourself or what your particular preferences are in the way of dining (I grew up on Capriotti's and Casapulla's myself), it's nearly impossible to recommend specific restaurants. But for a good steak on your way, try the Longhorn in Topeka (your first night's stop on the way home).

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    We've done that I-70 bit between Columbus OH and Denver many, many times. Here are a couple of tips:

    In Burlington, there's an older mom-and-pop motel called Chaparral Inn. It's AAA-approved, always clean. It started life as a Best Western, then went to Budget Host, and is now just an independent place. The only drawback to it, IMHO, is that it still uses the old fashioned keys. There are chains on the inside of the door for your safety, though. Right across from the place is a Pizza Hut and a fast food place, and within walking distance is the Route Steakhouse -- at least, it was there 2 years ago.

    The last we stopped, Colonial Steakhouse at the Oakley, KS exit, was a decent place to eat. Lots of truck parking there so it's a popular place for truckers, and there's a truck stop right across the road. They serve all 3 meals, and last I knew, you could even get steak for breakfast if you wanted.

    In Columbia, MO, you have lots of choices for places to stay. Since we have family there, we haven't any experience with any of the motels personally. Exits 128A and Exit 124 have the most choices, and both have a number of places to eat nearby. Exit 126 also has about 2-3 motels AND there's a Bandanas BBQ nearby, which is a great BBQ place. THAT, I have experience with ... yum!


    Donna

  4. #4

    Default

    AZBuck, I had not factored in the reduced speed while driving back and the places you mention as stops are very helpful. I live close to the PA border and usually drive the PA Tpk to Ohio but I68 is a beautiful road. I'll also save some money in tolls going I-70 to I-68. BTW Capriotti and Casapulas are very popular in DE, I enjoy their hoagies.

    DonnaR57 thanks much for the lodging and restaurant tips. This is exactly the information I was hoping to get.

    Appreciate your replies and thanks again.

  5. #5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by tnf View Post
    Greetings. I am planning to drive from Wilmington, Delaware to Denver, Colorado and wanted to seek your advice. Reason for the trip is to purchase and tow a small, 275 lb cargo trailer back to DE from Denver.

    I would like to do this trip in 8 days if possible and plan to leave on Nov 20th. Am seeking your advice on:

    - any construction delays or any factors (winter conditions, traffic, etc?) to consider while deciding between either Interstate 70 (my first choice) or Interstate 80 for this trip.
    With going north to go south, coupled with almost definite snow along I-80, I'd suggest going along I-70. I actually have a trip planned between Christmas in New Year's that takes me from DC to CO and I'll be doing I-70, my planned stops are in Indianapolis, Columbia, Topeka and Denver. Day one is to long-haul to Indianapolis at minimum, Terre Haute hopefully, stay overnight and then get home in Columbia to drop off the Christmas stuff and pick-up the snow gear and head out to stay in Topeka overnight, then third day get into Denver. I can do the Columbia to Denver (and do multiple times a year) in one day, but with driving out to DC for Christmas, then back again, I'll take my time going to Denver.

    If I were doing a back-and-forth between Willmington and Denver, and wanted to do it in 8-days total with enjoyable stops:

    Day 1 - depart and get to Indianapolis
    Day 2 - depart and get to Columbia, MO, stay at the Broadway or one of Columbia Executive Rental lofts downtown
    Day 3 - depart and get to Denver
    Day 4 & 5 - Denver
    Day 6 - depart and stay Salina, KS
    Day 7 - depart and stay Terre Haute, IN, stop in Kansas City for lunch
    Day 8 - depart and get to DE

    - suggested overnight stops along the route that have safe, reasonably priced lodging?
    I'm partial to Hilton properties, but in Columbia there is a rental company that has lofts downtown for about the same price as the DoubleTree there and they're comfortable, full kitchen, etc., much larger than a hotel if you want to spread out - when I travel I do a lot of VRBO, but when I'm hauling it's Hilton or small exec rental companies that have good options available.

    - any neat sights along the way that you can suggest? Would be nice to see something interesting while taking a 2-3 hour break from driving.
    In Terre Haute there is the Clabber Girl Museum which is neat, and it's free.

    Denver is a city, so there are tons of things to do and see, the downtown is easy to get around and lots to do, down by Washington Park there are some great, neat little restaurants and it's a walking neighborhood, definitely a stop we usually make as the park is really nice and the neighborhood great to walk around and grab a bite to eat.

    Kansas has a few stops worth making if you like things like historic sites - Nicodemus is a small historic site of formerly enslaved African Americans left who Kentucky in organized colonies at the end of the of post-Civil War Reconstruction period to experience freedom in the "promised land" of Kansas. Very interesting site. In Hays there is also the Sternberg Museum of Natural History, worth the stop. Hays is also home to the Fort Hays Historic Site.

    In Missouri is the Missouri Civil War Museum, the St. Louis Zoo and the St. Louis Art Museum. If you want a real treat of an experience, check out the City Museum (it is not a museum about the city).

    If I think of other things in other states, I'll post more!

    - and finally...(not large chain) restaurants you recommend that are close to I-70 in Missouri, Kansas or Colorado that I can get a great steak dinner?
    Dining suggestions in each above:

    Indianapolis: St. Elmo Steak House or Santorini Greek Kitchen
    Columbia: CC City Broiler (amazing steaks) or Sycamore, Ernie's Cafe in the morning
    Denver: Snooze, Charcoal, Cherry Cricket (burger), Linger (great views and food)
    Salina: Martinelli's Little Italy or Tuscon's
    Kansas City: Jack Stack BBQ (downtown location is best IMO), Blue Stem, Pot Pie (excellent pork chops)
    Terre Haute: J Ford's Black Angus, Rick's Smokehouse, Gingersnaps (for lunch)

    I'll be driving an older model AWD Honda CRV. Am going to spend this weekend attending to all the fluids, tire pressures, etc. Have purchased a set of tire chains just in case they are needed, will pack an emergency kit, shovel, and a boxed set of Doc Watson's albums to keep me company :-). Anything else I should definitely take along?

    Will appreciate your advice on my questions. Thank you.
    If you'll have two drivers, a blanket and pillow for the driver resting, a small cooler for drinks and cold items (I like to keep half & half in mine, along with other sodas, etc. since I hate coffee with the creamer thingys in rest stops and gas stations, or gah, the powdered stuff, so I bring my own). When I'm doing long drives in the winter I usually toss a 10-pound bag of clay kitty litter & 5-pounds of salt in the trunk, it can help give traction if needed if you slide off the road and doesn't add all that much weight to your trunk.

  6. #6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post

    In Columbia, MO, you have lots of choices for places to stay. Since we have family there, we haven't any experience with any of the motels personally. Exits 128A and Exit 124 have the most choices, and both have a number of places to eat nearby. Exit 126 also has about 2-3 motels AND there's a Bandanas BBQ nearby, which is a great BBQ place. THAT, I have experience with ... yum!


    Donna
    I wouldn't recommend exit 126 for a hotel - it's probably one of the worst areas in town (I live here) - hotels in Columbia I'll stay are Holiday Inn off 124, Residence Inn off 128A, the Broadway (Doubletree), The Tiger or Columbia Executive Rentals properties. Oh, there is a Hilton Garden Inn up off 63 that's nice also.....but exit 126, nope, I wouldn't stay in that area.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    As I said, I'm not that familiar with the motels in Columbia -- family lives north on Rt 63, just north of the Hilton Garden Inn you mentioned. My SIL likes Drury Inns when she travels.


    Donna (heading for MO very soon -- new grandbaby to hold!)

  8. #8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    As I said, I'm not that familiar with the motels in Columbia -- family lives north on Rt 63, just north of the Hilton Garden Inn you mentioned. My SIL likes Drury Inns when she travels.


    Donna (heading for MO very soon -- new grandbaby to hold!)
    Congratulations!

  9. #9

    Default

    RahRah thank you for the great information. I'll plan an itinerary to include some of the interesting sights in Kansas that you mentioned. Presently I only had Monument Rocks in Oakley, KS and the St Louis Arch in MO as the two places to stop and gawk at. If you know of any interesting places between Burlington, CO and Denver that I could stop at please write again.

    The lodging you mentioned may be out of my budget, I am traveling alone and out-of-pocket, so was planning to schlep it out at some basic accommodations (safe + clean + quiet). If something comes to mind please let me know.

    And finally, thanks so much for the restaurant tips. Looks like it will be fun to dine at some of these.

    After reading all the replies I feel more informed about the route and a little more confident about doing this trip by myself, usually it's the "I'll figure it out along the way" plan.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    Well, generally the cheapest national hotel chain is Motel 6. I am a member of Wyndham Rewards, who has several lower priced properties - Super 8, Days Inn, Microtel, Ramada, Baymont, Travelodge, Knights Inn, plus a few more.

    Get a AAA membership. One of the benefits is hotel discounts.

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