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  1. Default Boston to San Francisco

    Hope it's ok to resurrect this old thread, as this is exactly the trip we're looking to take, although we're thinking of a different route. We're Brits, so wanting to take in more places than a straightforward coast to coast, so are looking at:
    Boston to DC
    i-80 to Nashville then i-40 to Memphis
    Up i-55 to St Louis
    i-70 (either straight through to Denver, or to Kansas City then up i-29 and along i-80 through Nebraska)
    Down i-25 to join i-40 and some Route 66 stuff
    Then EITHER to LA and up i-5 to SF and back OR up via Vegas and Utah on i-15, join i-80 out to SF, then head down i-5 to LA for flight home

    Any thoughts on the routes would be much appreciated, and also about the time of year, as we're looking at around Easter time atm. Would 3 weeks be enough or would we need 4 (or more?)

    Many thanks!

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

    Default Early planning stages.

    Hi Kate and welcome to RTA !

    It's great you are searching the forums but I would suggest you start your own dedicated thread in the Spring Roadtrips forum with as much detail to your plans as possible. That way you will get dedicated advice for your own adventure. (Let me know if you need any help with that)

    Firstly, do not underestimate the distances you need to cover in the USA, it's huge ! Secondly, do not think you can get anywhere near the times that online mapping programs predict in the real world. The computer does not allow for any type of construction or congestion delays or the need us imperfect humans have, such as needing the loo, to eat and rest and stretch tired limbs. So yes, what you are proposing to do is possible but if you are planning on stopping over places for a day or 2 here and there your schedule becomes more hectic so the more time you can spare the better in my opinion. One example is "from St Louis straight through to Denver, that needs an overnight stop.

    What I would do now is continue searching through this site (use the tool bars at the top and bottom of each page) and look at good paper maps to get an idea of what you really want to see. At the moment it looks as though you are creating a route around a few city's but I tend to find places that I'm attracted to and build a route around them. We are all different but I much prefer the natural beauty on offer like that found in Colorado, Southern Utah, Arizona and California and that all takes time to explore so you need to prioritise what works for you. One thing to keep in mind on a one way trip is that you are likely going to face a hefty one way drop off charge on your rental.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Like in Dave's suggestion, I highly suggest a good paper map. I-80 doesn't come anywhere NEAR Nashville. To go from DC to Nashville, you're going to have to take I-66 west to I-81 south, which will take you to I-40 west. That will take you to Nashville and Memphis. So I suspect you need a good readable paper map or a good atlas - I suggest the latter, available through RTA's shop or from your local bookseller.

    You will want to find a good route other than I-95 to get from Boston to Washington DC. That thing is called the "Ho Chi Minh Trail" for good reason...always jammed, slow going, and frustrating!


  4. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    I-80 doesn't come anywhere NEAR Nashville
    Oh yeah, don't know where I got that from lol! Was looking at i-81 and i-40 as you point out!

    Thanks for the advice both, I'll do some more looking and thinking (because we're right in the first ideas phase atm) then make a new thread as suggested :)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I've moved your posts to their own thread - as other than the same starting and ending points, it really doesn't have anything to do with that previous thread. This will make it easier for people to understand the details of your trip and what you hope to do.

    We look forward to seeing what you come up with after a little more thinking - but please just post it here now.

  6. #6


    Kate, as noted above it isn't clear what your interests might be, but obviously there is some interest in visiting several cities in contrast to the natural environment. You also are making arrangements for a one-way car rental--if you have the flexibility I'd highly recommend riding the rails down to Washington, DC and renting a vehicle there.

    If you want to visit some of the sights around Boston you might consider doing a daily rental for venturing out (e.g., to the Plymouth Rock area) but otherwise use the Boston public transit system for getting around the city. I also assume you are planning for a couple of days for time zone adjustment in Boston before driving anywhere (especially on the other side of the road).

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Some In-Between Bits

    As Landmariner noted above, your itinerary seems urban heavy. To truly enjoy America, however, you should really get out of the cities and send some significant time exploring the many natural wonders it has to offer. Each of your major driving legs has something worth seeing, even if it's only from the (smaller) roads between the cities. For example, between Boston and Washington, an easy side trip would be to take in Newport RI and tour the 'cottages' of the rich and famous from early in the 20th century. Between Washington and Memphis, the Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains National Park are almost a must. From Memphis to St. Louis, a drive along the Great River Road should be in order. Between St.Louis and Denver, it would be relatively easy to go a bit farther north into Nebraska and follow US-30 along the Platte River; this follows the historic old Oregon Trail. Any drive through southern Utah would take you close to several of the 'Mighty Five' National Parks: Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, Arches, Bryce Canyon and Zion. If the road over Tioga Pass is clear, then a drive over it and through Yosemite National Park would be in order to get to San Francisco. And finally, from SF down to LA look at the Cabrillo Highway (CA-1) which follows the coast.

    If you do decide to visit four or more national parks, be sure to by the annual pass at the first one you come to.


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