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  1. Default The Best of the US - three week round-trip roadtrip from Vegas for a Rookie!

    Hi Everyone, I'm new here, so go easy on me! :-)

    We are a family of mom, dad and three kids (12, 6 and 18 months) who emigrated to this wonderful country three years ago. Due to pressures of work - and a new baby! - we haven't really seen much of the country. We live in Vegas, and have explored a lot of the West Coast (San Diego up to Washington State) and Nevada up to and into Canada (so Arizona, Utah, Idaho and Montana, into Alberta) but not much else.

    We have three weeks set aside in the Summer (Late June and into July) to explore the US; and we want to cover as much of the 'Highlights' as possible - like going to a Rolling Stones and wanting them to cram in as many of the hits as they can! My wife and I both are comfortable driving long distances, and our kids are great in the car, so amount of distance driven on any one day (or through the night) is fine.

    We would ideally like to have a mix of big city stuff, national parks, national monuments and cool, quirky stuff. One idea we have (although we are not married to it) is to head to DC through New Mexico, Memphis, pop into the Jack Daniels' distillery (I'm quite the fan!) and through Virginia for some Civil War history for the kids, and onto DC (we are West Wing and House of Cards fans!). We already did The Grand Canyon (and have explored everything within a 5 hour radius of Vegas), so we would like to get a good 12-15 hours driving done on the first day.

    So - if anyone can offer any suggestions for routes/itineraries etc, I would really appreciate it. I just want to reiterate, this is more about us exploring the best of this wonderful country, rather than wanting to see any particular location, so if you have a 'here's an amazing three week road trip that starts/ends in Vegas' I'd love to hear about it!

    I appreciate any help/advice!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Find the basic ingredients.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    There really are thousands of possibilities throughout the country with 3 weeks to travel. Before we can be much help you should keep running those idea through research and studying the maps and once you are set on 2 or 3 major destinations you would like to see, you can start work on joining the dots. Once you have got that far with the basics we will be in a better position to offer meaningful advice. If you end up heading to the east coast via New Mexico and Memphis etc, I would certainly look at coming back through the Colorado Rockies and exploring some of the National parks there. Also, get the [older] Kid's involved in the planning and let them have a say, it'll be a lot more fun for everyone if they have an interest in where you are heading. You could also get them to keep a diary to record their travels and write about the highlights.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Doable vs. Enjoyable

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    One thing that we try to impress on people, especially families with young children, is that just because you (the adults) think you can do something, does not mean that the children will enjoy it. Your post is full of ideas that will simply make this RoadTrip a dreadful chore rather than an adventure for both generations. As just one example: "driving long distances...on any one day (or through the night) is fine." Well, no. Exactly what would your kids see and experience as you drove for hour after hour? At best, a constantly moving landscape as they sat confined and looking at the back of your seat, and at worst nothing. Meanwhile mom and/or dad just get too tired to be any fun at the end of those long hours. The thing is, driving marathon distances at one sitting does nothing to reduce either the miles you need to travel or the hours you need to sleep. You are simply robbing Peter to pay Paul and in the meantime putting your entire family, and everyone else you share the road with, at risk. Study after study has shown that drowsy driving is every bit as dangerous as drunken driving. We can't endorse either.

    Instead, try to make the entire trip enjoyable. Even if you've been in a state before, I simplyy can't believe that you've seen everything it has to offer. For the kids particularly, stops every few hours can be every bit as enjoyable as drawn out visits to major national parks and cities. And a solid 9+ hours of sleep each night, in a real bed, is not just a good idea - it's good parenting. Las Vegas to Washington DC via all the places you listed is a four and a half day drive before you actually spend time at any of the places you've driven so long to get to. By taking a week each way between Vegas and the east coast, you still have a week to explore Virginia, Washington, the beaches, and other locations before spending another relaxed week getting home by a completely different route (think I-64/I-70/I-15) with time to do more than just seal yourselves in the car for 12-15 hours at a shot.

    Now, besides the short stops linked to above along those two different routes that are some other more major attractions. But concentrating on the 'east coast', you'll want to look at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. the Blue Ridge Parkway, Gettysburg National Military Park, the National Mall, Assateague Island National Seashore, Independence Mall in Philadelphia, Shenandoah National Park, Chesapeake Bay, Virginia's Historic Triangle, and others. But, again, make the entire trip memorable - for the right reasons. Oh, and why not ask at least your oldest child what he or she would like to see?


  4. Default

    Thanks Dave and AZBuck. I appreciate both replies.

    Dave - I like the idea of hitting NM and TN on the way there and CO on the way back. I'll look at some primary destinations and get back to the forum with something more concrete.

    AZBuck - I completely agree with everything you said. We have roadtripped through Europe as a family a few times, so I know my kids' capabilities and doing a long stint in the car as a one-off every few days or so is OK, but not the ideal. We did Paris to the Spanish border in one day, and did San Francisco to Vegas in one day (on another trip, obviously :-) ) but these were absolutely the exceptions, rather than the rule. Both were also following days where we were all well rested (full days on the beach, good night's sleep etc), and with adequate provisions and entertainment for the car planned in advance. You and I are completely on the same page as per good travel - and good travelling companions.

    I totally agree that we want to make the whole trip fun, as opposed to racing to the East Coast, concentrating our fun there, and then racing home. If we take a few days to get to DC (or the surrounding area), spend a week there, and then a week home, that would be a great adventure.

    My kids - well, the 12 and 6 yr olds - are both involved in the planning. They are with us on the idea that they want variety - maybe a theme park in there, a mix of cities, national parks and historic sites. Once we have some suggestions, we will definitely discuss it with the family so they can be involved in the planning as well.

    I look forward to your advice and suggestions! :-)


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