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  1. Default Boston, MA to San Jose, CA

    Hi,

    We are planning a family road trip from Boston, MA to San Jose, CA in the later part of June. I will be driving with my mom, wife and two kids. I will be doing most of the driving. But my wife will also share the driving with me (may be 30%). We wish to complete the trip in 9 days. But we are ok if it extends to 10 days. Kindly help me to plan my trip.

    This is my first long road trip in my life. So any other guidance is also more than welcomed.

    Thank you,
    Sandeep

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default A great trip with a choice of routes and sights.

    Hi Sandeep, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    You could make a really great trip out of that. It would take six long days to make the trip via the shortest possible route. With 9 days you have the opportunity to go do some sightseeing. But you have not told us what the interests of your party are, so that we can direct you to the route which would cover those interests. Suffice to say you will be going near several of the greatest National Parks in the world.

    Of course, the more time you have, the more you could see. The best thing you can do now is get hold of some good maps or a road atlas, such as Rand McNally. Have a good look, you will see several routes you could take, each putting you within visiting distance of different parks. However, you may have other priorities. Maps are invaluable during the planning of a trip and essential when on the road.

    I have driven from Boston to the west coast (or west coast to Boston) at least half a dozen times, and you can't choose a wrong route. Whatever you choose will have some great sites and points of interest.

    Lifey

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default First Steps

    Planning a long RoadTrip, especially a first multi-generational trip, is an iterative process that will need everyone's input at some point(s) along the way. But where to begin? As Lifey pointed out, there are several options for the basic route and you simply can't go wrong no matter which one you choose. So that's your first task.

    Having a good map of the US, or better yet an atlas, will help immensely by letting you see what major attractions each route, will take you by, what cities it takes you through, what toll you'll have to pay, and what parts of the country it will let you visit. So step zero is always to get such a visual aid. Step one is then to pick the route. To help you out, here are three of the options, described very generally. Let's call them 'northern', 'central', and 'southern' although clearly each will have to start in the north, go through the center, and end in the south.

    The northern route would roughly follow the Great Lakes to Chicago, then through the heartland and along the Platte River in Nebraska (the old Oregon Trail route), dropping down through central Colorado and Utah and finally south through southern Nevada to San Diego. Highlights include cities such as Cleveland, Chicago, Denver and Los Angeles; and national parks such as Indiana Dunes, Rocky Mountain, Arches and Zion.

    The central route splits the difference between the two coasts in the northeast, crossing the Appalachians through central Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana to St. Louis, dips down through the Ozarks and Oklahoma to the Texas Panhandle, then crosses northern New Mexico and Arizona, a finally drops down through the Mojave Desert to San Diego. Major cities: Columbus, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Oklahoma City and Albuquerque. Major parks: Westward Expansion, Petrified Forest and Grand Canyon.

    The southern route could follow the coast through the major cities of the northeast including New York, Philadelphia and Washington, or stay inland a bit to avoid them, then turn westward through Tennessee and Arkansas to Dallas, through the west Texas Plains and then across the southern borderlands from El Paso to San Diego. Cities (besides those mentioned) Nashville, Memphis and Tucson. National parks: Great Smoky Mountains, Carlsbad Caverns, White Sands, and Saguaro.

    Each of those is roughly the same in both distance and time, around 3100 ±100 miles and six days of driving at a good pace. That would leave you three days worth of time to spread out among your stops, so not a lot of time at any given one. And remember that besides the big stops you should plan on taking at least a couple of shorter stops each day at local parks just to let everyone get out of the car, stretch their legs a bit, get away from each other (an underrated bit of planning), and see something other than the inside of the car. Once you all have chosen a basic route you'll be ready for the next steps - allocating your time amongst all the various stops, setting realistic and maintainable goals for each day's drive. and planning specific activities. Let us know when you get to that point and we'll try to help you out.

    AZBuck

  4. Default

    Hello AZBuck, Sandeep is traveling to San Jose, not San Diego.

  5. Default

    Hello Sandeep! You are in for a wonderful family trip with many great places to go sightseeing. As Lifey has mentioned, it takes 6 days to travel to the Bay Area from Boston. I am from Rhode Island and have driven to Bay Area. Like many of the members on Great American Roadtrip Forum, i am quite familiar with route options. My questions are- How old are your kids? What type of places are of interest to you? Do you like National Parks and scenic wonders such Niagara Falls? Cities? Theme Parks? Zoo's? Aquiriums? Or all of the above? Having 4 extra days would allow you to fit in some sightseeing. I would love assist with your route plan.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Details!

    Quote Originally Posted by The Traveler
    Sandeep is traveling to San Jose, not San Diego.
    Ooops! I guess my reading comprehension isn't what it was. Still with just a few 'minor' changes...

    The northern route would roughly follow the Great Lakes to Chicago, then through the heartland and along the Platte River in Nebraska (the old Oregon Trail route), across southern Wyoming to Salt Lake City, through the Great Basin deserts of northern Nevada, and finally around the northern end of Lake Tahoe and across the Central Valley to San Jose. Highlights include cities such as Cleveland, Chicago, and Salt Lake City; and national lands such as Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Oregon National Historic Trail and Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area..

    The central route splits the difference between the two coasts in the northeast, crossing the Appalachians through central Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana to St. Louis, out over the great Central Plains to Denver, through the Rockies and Central Utah, down to Las Vegas and finally heads up the est side of and then through the Sierra Nevada to San Jose. Major cities: Columbus, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Denver and Las Vegas. Major parks: Westward Expansion, Rocky Mountains, Zion, Death Valley and Yosemite.

    The southern route could follow the coast through the major cities of the northeast including New York, Philadelphia and Washington, or stay inland a bit to avoid them, then turn westward through Tennessee and Arkansas to Oklahoma City, through the Texas Panhandle, across the northern New Mexico and Arizona, across the Mojave Desert and up the coast to San Jose. Cities (besides those mentioned) Nashville, Memphis and Oklahoma City. National parks: Great Smoky Mountains, Petroglyph National Monument, the Petrified Forest, and Grand Canyon.

    Each of those is roughly the same in both distance and time, around 3250 ±100 miles and six days of driving at a good pace. That would leave you three days worth of time to spread out among your stops, so not a lot of time at any given one. And remember that besides the big stops you should plan on taking at least a couple of shorter stops each day at local parks just to let everyone get out of the car, stretch their legs a bit, get away from each other (an underrated bit of planning), and see something other than the inside of the car. Once you all have chosen a basic route you'll be ready for the next steps - allocating your time amongst all the various stops, setting realistic and maintainable goals for each day's drive. and planning specific activities. Let us know when you get to that point and we'll try to help you out.

    AZBuck

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,747

    Default

    I would first like to ask, are the 9 to 10 days for just one direction and if so, what are your plans afterwards ? If it is a return trip you should look at taking a different route each way and how much time do you want to spend in SJ and how much time for the journey home ? Simply put, if you need to get back to Boston and your trip total is 10 days then it can't be done in a safe or enjoyable manner. Also, if your time in SJ is included in those 10 days it will leave you little time for anything along the way.

    With 10 days one way I would look at driving along I70 after Denver through the Rockies and Southern Utah to Vegas and then across Death valley and through Yosemite on Tioga Pass [CA120]. You could come off I70 near Moab and take 191 and through Monument valley on 163 to the Grand canyon south rim on route to Vegas but that would add to the time already spent in the car. To do either you would have to get out to Denver at a brisk pace and then slow things down to enjoy some of the west.

  8. Default

    Hello Sandeep! There is something for everyone on your journey to San Jose. I am assuming that this will be a one way trip for 10 days as it would be impossible if it was 10 days round trip. Denver is a very key destination on this trip as it is the gateway to several of the countries most beautiful National Parks and some of the most scenic drives in the country. There are 2 ways to get to Denver from Boston:

    1) I-90 actually begins at Logan Airport in Boston, so you could follow I-90 west to the Cleveland area, where it combines with I-80 and continues west to the Chicago area. There are several choices of places to check out if you go this way such as Massachusetts attractions Sturbridge Village, Six Flags, Basketball Hall of Fame, Normon Rockwell Museum, Upstate NY attractions Howes Caverns, Cooperstown, Finger Lakes, and Niagara Falls. Cleveland offers the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Science Center, and just south of Cleveland in Canton the Football Hall of Fame. There is no way you will be able to see everything but i list them in case you would want to visit one or a few of these. Also, I-90 is a toll road from Logan Airport all the way thru NY to the PA line, so this must kept in mind.

    2) If you wish to avoid tolls between MA and the Cleveland area, then i would suggest I-90 from Boston west to Sturbridge, then I-84 west to Scranton,PA, then south on I-81 through Scranton and Wilkes Barre to I-80 west across northern PA to the Cleveland area. Not as many places to see along this route, but the only tolls are a 60 mile section of I-90 from Boston to Sturbridge. Sturbridge to Youngstown,OH area is toll free. What i dont like about this route is potential traffic issues from Boston all the way to the New York line as this route also takes you thru Hartford,CT and Waterbury,CT and is a direct route to New York City even though you are still quite a distance north of NYC when you get to the NY line. Once past the NY line its clear sailing all the way to Ohio. The Walkway over the Hudson in Poughkeepsie,NY is a wonderful place to stop and take a walk over one of the highest pedestrian bridges in the country, over the Hudson River.

    Once beyond Cleveland area you will be on the combined routes I-90 and I-80, which is a toll road- Ohio Turnpike in OH and Indiana Toll Road in Indiana. Whats great along this route are the service plazas that over food courts, gas stations and rest room facilities. Places to see along this route is Cedar Point in Sandusky,OH and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and dont forget about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

    When you arrive to the Chicago area, the interstates split and you will continue west on I-80 following signs toward Des Moines,Iowa. If you would like to explore Chicago but dont have a lot of time, then Navy Pier is a great place to get a great feel for the city if you only want to spend a few hours and take pics. So its on to Denver on I-80 to western Nebraska through cities such as Davenport,IA, Des Moines,IA, Omaha, NE across the Great Plains along I-80 to I-76 west to Denver. In Kearney, NE, make sure you check out the Archway Monument Museum, which stretches OVER I-80 as you cant miss it. More to come...

  9. Default

    Hello Sandeep, before i get into the continuation of your route from Denver i would like to you to know that there is another option that starts from the Cleveland area and can work for you weather you are approaching from I-90 or I-80. I-71 south connects the Cleveland area with I-70 in Columbus,OH. From Columbus you continue west on I-70 to Denver. This is a toll free route, and a very interesting route as its takes you thru cities such as Indianapolis, St. Louis, and Kansas City. Be sure to stop in St. Louis at the Gateway to the west, the Gateway Arch on the banks of the Mississippi River. This is a great place to stretch your legs and do some walking and explore the inside of the Arch. Four hours west of St. Louis is Kansas City, which is a great place to enjoy a bar-b-que dinner. My favorite is Arthur Bryants, which are all over the Kansas City area, but the original is near downtown very close to the Jazz Museum. From Kansas City it is a full days drive to Denver, about 10 hours across the Great Plains region. I have drivin both routes, I-80 and I-70, and i like them both. Its so cool to see how the scenery changes as you continue westbound. When you reach Denver, you dont realize it, but you have climbed all the way to an elevation of 5,000 feet, and due to the elevation you may want to consider an overnight here to get your body used to the altitude. Once you leave Denver you will travel to well above 10,000 ft, more on that later. Denver has many places to visit downtown such as the Downtown Aquarium, Elitch Gardens, Coors Field, Denver Mint, and east of Downtown and my personal favorite, Denver City Park, which includes a beautiful view of the lakes in the park, downtown skyline, and the backdrop of front range of the Rocky Mountains. The Science and Nature Museum, Denver Zoo, nice walkways around lakes, and many bird sightings are all in Denver City Park. More to come...

  10. Default

    Hello Sandeep, from Denver westbound i will you suggest some routes that will include visits to several National Parklands. Hopefully, you have enough time to some beautiful and incredible landscapes. The first route you may use if time is an issue and includes 2 National Parks, Rocky Mountain NP and Dinosaur National Monument. US 36 north from Denver takes you to Estes Park, from there you you will follow US 36 into Rocky Mountain National Park, also known as Trail Ridge Road which is one of the most spectacular drives and the highest road in elevation in the country as it reaches an elevation of over 12,000 feet at the Alpine Visitors Center, well above treeline! This is also where the Colorado River begins its journey to the Pacific Ocean. The Colorado,as a small stream, can be seen just before you approach the Continental Divide. You will definately see some patches of ice in these high peeks, even in June and it will be several degrees cooler, so be prepared. After leaving the park, Trail Ridge Rd continues to Granby. From Granby, take US Route 40 west all the way to Park City,UT. Along the way to Park City near the Utah line you will see the entrance to Dinosaur National Monument. Once you get to Park City, you can take I-80 west all the way to the Bay Area, passing thru Salt Lake City, Great Salt Lake Desert and Bonaville Salt Flats, Reno and up and over the High Sierras to the Bay Area. More fun to come...

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