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  1. Default 4 weeks - where to go for spectacular scenery, history, culture and shopping?

    Hi, my 21yo daughter will be finishing an equine internship in Lexington KY on 12 June and I plan to fly to Lexington from Australia to meet her and from there the current plan is that we:

    - fly to NYC on 13 June, spend 5-7days there,
    - take the train down to Washington and spend 2 days there;
    - fly to Chicago, spend 2-3 days there; and
    - hire a car and drive from Chicago to Los Angeles -about 2 weeks;
    - fly back to Aust from LA on the evening of 8 July.

    If we follow through on the current plan, we'll have about two weeks to drive from Chicago to LA. Originally we were thinking of doing route 66, but it doesn't seem to take in the kind of scenery other routes offer. For example, we like the idea of visiting Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone (and spending a few days in the park) and the Grand Canyon and so a route that takes in those places looks inviting. We don't plan on spending any time in LA as we've both been there several times before.

    Alternatively, as the only things set in stone is I have to meet my daughter in Lexington KY on 12 June and we fly home on 8 July, all options are open. However, things we'd like to do include - spend 5-7 days in NYC (we've been before and love it), see Washington DC and take in some spectacular natural scenery - otherwise we are open to suggestions as to how to spend our time or where to go.

    We like cities for shopping, history, culture etc, but also love national parks, wildlife and spectacular scenery. We've been to the west coast (SF, LA, SD, LV, Yosemite, Mammoth Lake and Bryce Canyon) and the north east (Boston, NYC plus I've been to Chicago), but we've never been to Yellowstone, the Badlands or the south of the US, and so these places also interests us. Too many options so suggestions gratefully received. Ideas of where to stop or stay on any route are also welcome.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default A few thoughts for starters.

    Hi, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    Do you actually have a pretty large map of the US? That would help you a lot in deciding where to go. I agree that Yellowstone is a must, but then so would be the Rockies in CO and the many national Parks in UT on your way to the Grand Canyon. There is Arches, Canyonlands, Monument Valley, Bryce and Zion NPs. Then there is Death Valley (a place not to be missed, despite the heat) and Yosemite NP.

    Good maps or a road atlas (available from the shop on the green bar above, if your daughter can't send you one) will give you a perspective where all these are in relation to one another,. Whereas two weeks seems a lot of time, you will find that the time soon gets swallowed up by all these incredible places and the wonderfully scenic routes between them. You won't have time for everything, so choose carefully.

    If you want to get a wall sized map of the US try Mapworld. I particularly like the National Geographic map, for all the detail it gives of routes, parks and cities.

    You don't say in which State you are located, but whichever, be sure to take your automobile club membership with you. It will give you access to free maps and tourist information from the AAA.

    You are no doubt aware of the one way drop fee for a rental car from Chicago to LA? I have always found good deals with Budget, especially if you indicate on their site that you are from Australia.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Based on what you have seen and what you haven't.

    You seem to have a good grasp on what it is you want tfrom the trip and it just comes down to decisions on where to go and no one knows better than you what you would like. Yellowstone is pretty amazing and spending some time in the Badlands, Rushmore, Custer State park etc on route makes sense. It would be recommended that you enter Yellowstone via Red Lodge and drive the spectacular Beartooth Highway. Yellowstone is big and deserves 3 days to even begin to do it justice. As you head out through the south you will should save a little time for the Tetons and Mormon Row. From there you could take US191 to Flaming Gorge Res and down to Moab UT which is home to Arches and Canyonlands NP's and then south and west through Monument valley to the South rim and to LA via Joshua Tree NP perhaps. For me the big question would be, do I spend 2 or 3 days in Chicago aving been there, or do I settle for a more relaxed road trip with those extra days, for me the road trip wins every time !

    Once you have decided what works for you then we can help fill in the blanks and fine tune your plans, enjoy the planning !

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Here's a thought: Leave Chicago and head for Minnesota -- in Minneapolis-St Paul area is the Mall of America, one of the largest malls in the world, since I see "shopping" is on your list.

    Another thought: Last summer, we drove from Chicago to San Diego. On this website is our trip report. Start with Post #44 in my trip report thread, as it could give you some more ideas. Originally, we were going to go to the Mall of America, but changed our plans and headed for Bismarck instead.


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