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  1. Default Boston to Washington DC September 2016

    Hi all,

    Newbie to the forum here. First of all I'd like to say that what an amazing job you all do helping silly old folk like me.

    I've been reading through several forums and when people say they want to drive from Boston to DC you all cry out "Get Amtrak!" I don't want to get the train, I want to drive :-)

    Right so, this is what I'm thinking. I was after a little advice on length of time to stay in places.

    Fly into Boston from LHR. 2/9/2016
    Have 4 nights in Boston (no car)

    Hire car on 6/9/2016 and just drive, not taking any freeways. Maybe drive north to Maine and see Stephen King, go to RI and see Pete Griffin and go to Atlantic City to see Steve Buscemi. I want to go to as many states I can and try and drive as close to the coast as possible. I was thinking of two or three nights in motels a long the way. I know it's not the longest drive in the world between the two cities but I could go anywhere really, maybe even Niagara Falls.

    Eventually I'd end up in DC, say two or three nights here?? Is there enough to see in DC for that length of time (obviously I'll drop the car off)

    Then I'd get the Megabus to NYC and spent the last 4-5 nights in NYC.
    Fly back to UK 16/9/2016.

    I will spend most of my time in the cities looking at cultural/architectural things, galleries, museums and general touristy stuff. When out of the city I like little towns, not necessary hick towns but nice small east coast towns. Also visit historical places and anywhere where I can take a good photo.

    I think what I have planned is doable in the time scale, I have done a west coast road trip before and fitted loads more in driving 3000 miles in the process.

    Places on my drive I want to visit, you can tell me if it's worth it:
    Cape Cod
    The Hampton's
    Atlantic City

    Thanks for your help in advance. Remember, no Amtrack! Haha.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Sounds like a great trip.

    H Gavin, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    All of it is 'doable', and though I have not been to The Hamptons, I venture to say that all of them are 'worth' it, if that is what you want to do. Even a trip to Niagara could fit in, but you'd have to drop a night or two in the cities.

    And yes, for those who just want to go from city to city, we do recommend the train, though it does not have to be Amtrak, it can be the commuter trains as well.

    Now, since this trip is not till September, I would highly recommend you get some good detailed maps of the north east. If these are not available locally, I suggest you order a Rand McNally road atlas from the RTA store via the link at the bottom of this page. It will show you the roads you want to travel, alternatives as well, and the attractions along the way.

    All of the New England States are full of interesting and scenic routes, as well as the many historic small towns. An ideal place just to wander and 'follow your nose'.

    There is so much to see in DC, you could spend all your time there, and not see it all. For starters there are all the National Monuments as well as all the Smithsonian sites. If you can get through all of them, you're doing well.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Possible but Complicated

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Despite the fact that the Boston to Washington drive is one of the worst in America, known among professional drivers as the Ho Chi Minh Trail and why we often recommend taking the train rather than driving when all you want to do is get from Point A to Point B, it is also possible to make the same journey by a different route that uses no freeways or toll roads, avoids the worst traffic nightmares, visits some beaches and other scenic sights, and is generally more relaxing and enjoyable. However, you will pay for all those benefits with your time. There isn't, I'm afraid, enough time to get all the way up to Bangor, down to Quahog, out to Niagara Falls, and around to Atlantic City - even with a couple of overnights. But with a single overnight stop, you can certainly fulfill the basic outline of what you want to do.

    So here's one suggestion. Take MA-138 south out of Boston. Continue on it as it becomes RI-138 on crossing the state line then keep going to Newport (worth a stop to see the 'cottages') and then across the Pell and Jamestown bridges and onto US-1 south. This will give you access to some Rhode Island and Connecticut beaches as well as Mystic Seaport and some classic lobster pounds such as Abbott's in Noank CT. You will have to get on I-95 briefly to cross the Thames (!?!) River, but then it's back onto 'back' roads to avoid some of the worst congestion between New Haven and New York. You'll also have to 'thread the needle' between the coast and an interior line of cities including Hartford, Waterbury and Danbury.

    This is a complicated stretch if you really want to avoid motorways and large cities, but it is possible to do while still seeing a bit of small town New England. But good local maps will be a necessity, I'd suggest a good road atlas of the US or state maps. GPS will be totally inadequate to the task, Do NOT rely on it. You should keep at least to state highways which tend to be well-marked and numbered, and thus a bit easier to follow. So, starting after you cross the Connecticut River on I-95 take: CT-9 north to CT-80 west to CT-20 north/west to CT-10 north to CT-42 west to CT-67 west, then again a short run on I-84/US-6 between Southbury and Newtown CT. At Newtown, exit onto US-6 turning left as you exit. Turn left again onto CT-25 and take the next right onto CT-302. (I did say it would be complicated, no?) Stay on CT-302 west for a while, then CT-58 south and then right onto CT-107, straight onto CT-57 for just a couple of blocks and right onto US-7 for about half a mile and left onto CT-102. Next, left onto CT-35 west to US-202 west which becomes the Bear Mountain Parkway. Follow that to the Bear Mountain Bridge across the Hudson River (picking up US-6 along the way). This gets you into New York and the next part of your journey.

    You are now going to swing wide around New York City, Philadelphia, and Baltimore on your way to Washington. Things will get a little easier, but you'll still need good maps. Stay on US-6 for a bit, even as it duplexes (shares roadway) with NY-17 and I-84, to just past Port Jervis and then switch your route following to US-209 as it drops down through the Delaware Water Gap and meanders amongst the Poconos and Blue Ridge Mountains to Millersburg PA where it ends. Take PA-147 south along the Susquehanna River to where it joins US-22 into and through Harrisburg. Use I-83 to cross the river but go straight on PA-581 when I-83 exits. Continue to the next exit and US-15 south. This will take you south past Gettysburg, across the Potomac River at Point of Rocks and on to VA-7 just north of Leesburg VA. VA-7 will bring you into the Washington area at Tysons Corner and you can either use I-66 for a relatively straight shot into the city or get on the beltway and proceed around the city to another entry route of your own choosing.

    As I've mentioned a couple of times in describing it, this is a complicated route. It would help immensely if you had a navigator to help you out. But you did ask for "not taking any freeways" and "nice small east coast towns, historical places and anywhere where I can take a good photo." The route I described will give you all that. You can drive it at a fairly relaxed pace with time for some short stops in two days with an overnight stop in the Milford PA/Delaware Water Gap area. If you want to take longer and really explore scenic and historic sites such as the Rhode Island and Connecticut coasts, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Gettysburg National Military Park, then an additional day would probably be in order. But trying to add central Maine, Long Island, and the New Jersey coast while still adhering to your other criteria would, I'm afraid, prove to be too much.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 01-09-2016 at 09:54 AM. Reason: Route # correction

  4. Default

    Thank you so much, both of you for the detailed replies. I will study them and look it all up. I will get a decent map thanks. I have also done a road trip far bigger and longer on the west coast so I'm not a complete novice. You're right though, I will stay away from GPS haha.

    Thanks again guys.

  5. Default

    Hi all,

    I thought I'd update you now i have booked my trip.

    I am flying into Boston on September 4th. Staying there two nights, pick up my hire car and driving down the cost, stopping a long the way at various things, then staying the night somewhere on Long Island probably. Then from there drive down the coast further taking in some stops a long Jersey Shore, stopping at Atlantic City. Spend the night near a town called Berlin MD. Then wake up early, continue driving south and come to Norfolk, have a look there and then drive north to DC to give the car back.

    Will be spending three nights in DC then two nights in Philadelphia, going to watch The Eagles v The Browns. Then onto NYC for four nights. Will be travelling to these other cities by bus or train.


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