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  1. Default Boston to San Francisco scenic route

    First, I've never been on any significant road trips, so excuse any ignorance. With that said, I'm planning to move out to the San Francisco Bay area for an internship next year and I plan to drive out there with my girlfriend and make a road trip out of it.

    Obviously, this is still pretty far off so the details aren't exact, but we should be leaving roughly Dec. 18 and, depending what day I have to start work, we should have 2-3 weeks of travel time available. The plan is to travel down the east coast for a while and then cut west across the southern part of the country, finishing with a trip up the coast of California from San Diego to San Francisco. I'd like to stop in New Orleans and also visit the Grand Canyon, but apart from that we're very open as to the route we take. The main goal is to see what the rest of the country has to offer and go exploring, so I want to stay away from long stretches of interstate wherever there are more interesting roads available.

    Some questions I have:
    -Is this sort of timeline realistic? Particularly, will two weeks (hopefully the minimum time) be enough time to travel at a comfortable pace (maybe 6 hours of driving per day) and allow us to explore off the interstates a bit?

    -Is this sort of southern route a good way to go? I figure it will be a bit warmer and more enjoyable than a more direct northern route in the winter. Also, we'll have to make the return trip in the summer so that seems like a better time to stay north.

    -Does anyone have some insight with regard to when/where we should opt for the interstate to cut down on travel time vs. when we should take our time and enjoy the countryside?

    As I said before, I don't have any experience driving much farther than Maine and I've never been to any middle states so I have a feeling I'm underestimating just how empty certain regions are. I want to make sure that we get to see and experience as much as possible, but also keep our timeline efficient by "skipping" some of the more barren parts of the trip (i.e. bombing down the interstate).

    Any advice/insight/suggested routes would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Some Routes to Consider

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Having weeks to play with, you can pretty much choose any roads that you like to connect your intermediate destinations. As always, planning goes a lot better with paper maps most of which will mark scenic routes in some form or other, usually by a parallel dotted or dashed line. That said, there are some roads and routes that are particularly worth your attention. Going down the east coast you can choose to go inland, follow the coast, or combine portions of each. In the South and heading for New Orleans, you can hardly do better than the Natchez Trace Parkway between Nashville and Natchez. This was, in fact, the way boatmen got back upstream from New Orleans before steamboats. West of New Orleans, the Creole Nature Trail will take you places most tourists on I-10 simply miss.

    From southeast Texas to the Grand Canyon, you'll have a major choice to make. You can either head up the Sabine and Red Rivers (essentially going around Texas) and enjoy their green beauty and the many state parks along the routes that run parallel to them, then go through the Texas panhandle and past Albuquerque and Petrified Forest National Park. Or you can stay south along the Gulf Coast and then follow the Rio Grande past Amistad National Recreation Area and Big Bend National Park and then come up through Tucson and Sedona. Each of those routes has numerous smaller scenic, historic, and just plain interesting sites we can recommend once you've made that basic choice.

    Then, from the Grand Canyon to San Francisco, a route down to San Diego and up the coast is one possibility, but the drive from San Diego up through Los Angeles is not one I'd describe as either scenic or relaxing. You might want to instead look at going from the Canyon up through Las Vegas and Death Valley and then over to the west coast around Cambria for a drive north along the Big Sur Coast and Monterey.

    I hope those first few suggestions help you plan out a general route, and be sure to come back to this same discussion as your plans firm up for more specific ideas.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 03-03-2015 at 10:13 AM.

  3. Default Boston to San Jose, looking for advice

    Hi everyone, this is my first time posting here.

    My girlfriend and I are going to be driving from Boston to San Jose about a month from now and I'm looking to get some advice for planning the trip. Since it will be winter, we are planning on taking a deep southern route. I have attached a map of roughly what I have in mind, but keep in mind I was just sort of dragging the line around on the map so the roads aren't exact. There are a few key places along the way that we want to hit, including Washington DC, New Orleans, and the Grand Canyon. I also think it would be a great ending to the trip to drive up the coastline of California.

    The reason we are going out to San Jose is for a 6 month internship I will be doing there, which starts on January 11th. The plan now is to leave the day after Christmas, which gives us about 15 days traveling (with some time to get settled before work starts). We also were thinking about spending New Year's Eve in New Orleans and taking a day off from driving on New Year's day. So I guess my first question is whether this seems like a reasonable itinerary. I've never driven farther than NYC so I'm not sure if I'm underestimating the scale of the trip. I know people sometimes drive straight across the country in 5 days or so, but we want to take our time and stop to experience different parts of the country along the way.

    Secondly (or first I suppose) is whether this is a good route to take. My thinking is that we want to avoid big snowstorms that might be happening farther north around that time. Is taking the southern route good enough to avoid all of that? I really don't know what the weather is like down there, so I'm not sure. Also, what is the best way to keep track of the weather patterns as we go? Should we just look at radar maps online and try to drive around any big storms if they come up? I have a 2011 Kia Optima with front wheel drive so I can't really drive through a storm (or shouldn't at least). Also, are there any roads that should be avoided (or ones that we should definitely take)?

    Finally, what are some general tips for a trip like this? Where do you guys generally stay for the night along the way on a budget? I guess we should probably look into rewards programs for certain hotel chains or something. And what are some essentials in terms of an emergency kit/etc.? Sorry to be all over the place with my questions, but I'm totally new to this whole road tripping thing...I'm really excited though!

    Thanks in advance.

    Moderator Note: Please keep all questions about the same trip in the same thread
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    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 11-22-2015 at 08:11 PM. Reason: Merged Threads

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Altitude not latitude.

    Most of the advice given in your previous post is still valid.

    However you need to understand that going sojuth is no guarantee of avoiding snow and ice. It is altitude, not latitude you need to be aware of. I-40 and I-10 (even I-8) can and do see snow and ice storms as they are in places at high altitudes. Best thing you can do is keep an eye on the weather patterns from a week or so before your departure and during your trip.

    Have a safe trip.


  5. Default

    Sorry about the duplicate post, I totally forgot that I had made that other one a few months ago. I'll keep any further ones in this thread.

    So last night I was trying to plan out the first portion of the trip from Boston to New Orleans. Like I said before, the plan is to leave Dec. 26th and arrive in New Orleans the afternoon of New Year's Eve. I've put a link to Google Maps showing (roughly) the places I'm considering stopping along the way. I have a few more questions about this route though.

    First, the Natchez Trace Parkway that AZBuck recommended seems like a really nice scenic drive. However, it seems like to get there I would have to take I-81 from Washington to Nashville instead of continuing south along I-95. Just from looking at Google Maps, it seems like I-81 is more mountainous and thus more prone to bad weather. Am I assuming too much, or is that generally true?

    My second question is about the very beginning of the trip. I was talking to my cousin who has driven between Boston and Virginia/Florida a few times, and he was saying that driving the day after Christmas is really slow-going and painful. With that in mind, I was considering maybe leaving the night of the 25th just to get a head start. If I went with that plan, I would probably drive a few hours and stop in New Haven, CT and then continue on to DC on the 26th. If I left the 26th as originally planned, I would probably try to get down to Philadelphia on the first day. Google puts that trip at just over 5 hours, but I have to imagine that it would take significantly longer than that right after the holiday. Does anyone have any experience with driving around the holidays and what sort of traffic to expect on I-95?

    Here is the route mapped out.

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