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Old 07.08.2011, 20:36
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Coast to coast USA driving in 3 weeks... tips?

Englishman, thinking of doing this in early november, over a fairly brisk 3 weeks.

Should I go East to West, or vice versa?

LA or San francisco on the west coast?

We are fairly certain we will go to Miami on the east coast.

Any tips for this trip?
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Old 07.08.2011, 21:01
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Re: Coast to coast USA driving in 3 weeks... tips?

You're gong to have a great time. Here are my tips:

avoid LA, you'll be better off.

You can either take the north or south route. The way down the middle is less interesting. As you mentioned Miami, you'll probably aim south. The American southwest is incredible. You might pick up the old Rt 66 from around New Mexico if going west, or from Barstow CA if going east.

If you start on the west coast, a good route is from San Francisco across to Yosemite, down through Death Valley, and catch the Rt 66 going east.
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Old 07.08.2011, 21:07
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Re: Coast to coast USA driving in 3 weeks... tips?

Route 66 is the most boring road ever- we only did about 150 km and that was enough. I have to say, personally, that I'd much rather do either the East Coast, or the West Coast, and avoid the 'middle'.
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Old 07.08.2011, 22:09
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Re: Coast to coast USA driving in 3 weeks... tips?

Thanks both.

I did the west coast route from LA to san francisco a few years back and really enjoyed it (incidentally including Yosemite)... this is what prompts the coast to coast trip. I even enjoyed LA, while I know a lot of people do not like it that much.

Im rarely bored while travelling, and wouldnt mind some insight into middle america.

Soutern itinerary is winning out slightly so far due to it being November so chance of better weather.

But I am open to all further tips.

Do you think I can comfortably make this trip in three weeks?
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Old 07.08.2011, 22:24
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Re: Coast to coast USA driving in 3 weeks... tips?

Drive from DC up to Chicago, then head West via the flatlands to Denver. Don't spend too much time looking at corn and cows Iowa, Nebraska etc. Then slow down the drive all the way from from Denver via New Mexico to Los Angeles. You'll love it.
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Old 07.08.2011, 22:25
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Re: Coast to coast USA driving in 3 weeks... tips?

I think that, flat out, it is about 48+ hours driving, so 3 weeks sounds quite reasonable to me, but that will still average four hours a day driving per day. Quite a few Americans I know have said they want to do it at least once in their lifetime, so that is a good enough reason to me to try it too.

In November, some of the mountain passes, such as in Yosemite, may be closed already, but it is a great time to visit Yosemite valley, and the deserts in the Southwest while it's not boiling hot all day long.

If I was doing that route, I would try to take in New Orleans, Memphis, Santa Fe, Vegas, Grand Canyon, a lot of barbecue food, Savannah, some college football games, and some time in South Florida at the end.

If you've seen Dave Gorman's trip through America it might give you some good ideas too...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Go...rica_Unchained
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Old 07.08.2011, 23:45
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Re: Coast to coast USA driving in 3 weeks... tips?

If you were going a few weeks earlier, I would suggest driving through New England, because that area is absolutely gorgeous in October, when the trees are in full color. Unfortunately, though, the trees there have already lost most or all of their leaves by November...

My ex and I drove from Detroit, Michigan to Seattle, Washington in 3 days (with barely stopping along the way except for food and hotels), so I think you will be able to see and do a LOT in 3 weeks!

I definitely agree that many of the "middle States" are quite boring, geographically -- that is, unless you're into seeing seemingly endless, flat landscapes composed of nothing but fields of corn and soybeans.
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Old 07.08.2011, 23:49
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Re: Coast to coast USA driving in 3 weeks... tips?

Seeing that you've done both LA and San Fransisco, why not try San Diego? There's plenty to see on the way east. If you start there, take the 15 to Las Vegas. Then cut over to the Grand Canyon. When you get to New Mexico, check out White Sands.

Hmmm... just realized that my post is the same as big yin.

Something to consider, it does snow in November, which may make the drive across country in the north a bit more treacherous.
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Old 07.08.2011, 23:55
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Re: Coast to coast USA driving in 3 weeks... tips?

I haven't done the whole trip but I have driven from Miami to San Antonio, and then separately from So Cal to San Antonio and back twice. I find driving west to east easier as the sun sets in the west and as I tend to drive more in the afternoon then the morning it's much easier on the eyes. But that would vary depending on your own driving habits.

You could fly into San Diego or LA and start with a drive up the coast to San Francisco. Hearst Castle is a wonderful place to visit. And you can also tour some of the wineries in Napa.

Avoid west Texas at all costs, between El Paso and San Antonio.....hour after hour of nothing! Not even a radio station.
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Old 08.08.2011, 01:47
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Re: Coast to coast USA driving in 3 weeks... tips?

For that time of year, I'll agree with others suggesting taking the southern route across - whichever direction.

Do be prepared though driving through the desert areas, while you may not get snow in November there (unless you go to really high elevations) but it does get quite cold in the evenings. We went to Albuquerque in October a few years ago and were shocked at the cold nights.

Actually, thinking about it with that in mind, going west to east probably makes the most sense as the east will be more humid and warmer longer. This also will help you feel like you had some nice long "summer" by the time you head back to Switzerland.
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Old 08.08.2011, 02:17
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Re: Coast to coast USA driving in 3 weeks... tips?

I did a similar trip a few years ago -- Orlando to San Francisco, via San Diego -- in an RV (mobile home). I took 5 weeks and found it really wasn't enough time, but

i) I was driving a massive RV, not a car
ii) I started off by driving all the way down the Florida Keys to Key West and back, which took a couple of days there and back (and was great, but if you don't have the time, it should be omitted)
iii) I think I would have thought 5 months wasn't enough time, there was so much to see.

Essentially I stuck close to the Gulf coastline (Mobile > New Orleans > Houston), then headed up to Dallas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, back down into Arizona and into Las Vegas (compulsory ) and then down to San Diego -- then up the coast to San Francisco.

My favourite parts were Arches National Park in Utah and Santa Fe, NM, but really (like good bands), it's hard to pick a best of.

I didn't cross over into Mexico but if I did the trip again, I would -- just for fun.

In three weeks, and starting from Miami, I'd skip the Keys and would maybe contemplate hugging the border all the way to San Diego, and leaving Vegas, Santa Fe and Arches for another trip ... but when driving you always have the opportunity to change your plans, so if you're making good time or find a certain area boring, you could just fly through and add a new section of road to your plans.

Take as long as you can (more than three weeks, if possible), but however long you spend, I'm sure you'll have a great time.

And y'all drive safe, y'hear?
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Old 08.08.2011, 02:35
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drive ?

Why not a cycling tour instead?
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Old 08.08.2011, 03:04
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Re: Coast to coast USA driving in 3 weeks... tips?

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Why not a cycling tour instead?
Only with the appropriate seat upgrade.



Otherwise, 3,000 miles with a permanent wedgie ...?!

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Old 08.08.2011, 08:32
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Re: Coast to coast USA driving in 3 weeks... tips?

Because of the weather, I agree to take the southern route. Don't forget to spend a little time in Louisiana. New Orleans is a unique American city, you can visit the Tabasco farm, and take in all of the music you can there - people watching is great. Texas is pretty horrible - it is big and there isn't a lot to see, but my favorites if you are near them are: Galveston, San Antonio, and Big Bend National Park (the towns around it make your feel like you are really in the wild west). New Mexico - check out Santa Fe. In Arizona check out Chaco Canyon. If you can get up into Colorado - do! and Utah is always wonderful.

We did the northern route before moving here in 1 week (Bellingham, WA to Maine). We didn't have a lot of time for fun - but I think in 3 weeks, you can see a lot and enjoy it. Personally, I would skip Florida (unless you really want beaches), Alabama, and Mississippi...
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Old 08.08.2011, 10:42
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Re: Coast to coast USA driving in 3 weeks... tips?

Thanks for all the great advice. Much food for thought. If I had a lot more time, I actually would consider doing a cycling tour... but for the moment it will be with a rental car. Unfortunately this may incur heavy drop off charges for a one way trip, but I am still looking into this.
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Old 08.08.2011, 10:50
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Re: Coast to coast USA driving in 3 weeks... tips?

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Thanks for all the great advice. Much food for thought. If I had a lot more time, I actually would consider doing a cycling tour... but for the moment it will be with a rental car. Unfortunately this may incur heavy drop off charges for a one way trip, but I am still looking into this.
Drop off charges will indeed be killer. Try booking rental car pre-paid through priceline, you would get better deal.
On the west coast, the SFO coast along with the highway 1(coast road), and also into Oregon from SFO is very sceninc. The national parks are truly awesome.
If you don't really want to do "coast to coast", I suggest pick 2 loops.
Do a East coast loop starting Miami, and then fly to SFO, and then do a north loop doing all national parks, death valley, the coast roads etc.,
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Old 08.08.2011, 11:30
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Re: Coast to coast USA driving in 3 weeks... tips?

Ach, but I seek a bit of adventure.... coast to coast and all thats in it! Some more stories to tell.

Even boring middle america... sounds great, as I need some downtime on this holiday in any case.
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Old 08.08.2011, 13:55
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Re: Coast to coast USA driving in 3 weeks... tips?

I would also add Sedona, Flagstaff, Arizona Snow Bowl, Apache Villages and Indian resorts, Grand Canyon, Hover Dam and scenic drive through Northern Arizona. Also (By train or car) Northern California including Lake Tahoe and Trukee area, Reno and Las Vegas . Try Portillos Restaurant in Chicago
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Old 09.08.2011, 09:32
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Re: Coast to coast USA driving in 3 weeks... tips?

Got my lonely planet guide yesterday so will check out some of these places.

Unfortunately no Chicago this time, but I have very fond memories of the two months when I stayed there back in 2001.
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Old 09.08.2011, 10:03
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Re: Coast to coast USA driving in 3 weeks... tips?

so Coast to coast it is eh?
Make sure you carry snow chains for california national parks.
Its madated. you can buy a pair for 50-60$

When you see Las Vegas/Hoover dam/Death valley, do not enter LA, instead take the lovely highway 365 towards Reno, and then come down from north to Tahoe, See yosemite(mono lake route would have closed), and then head back to San Francisco.

It will be raining, but still the its beautiful.
Keep one full day to do the highway one till the Castle(Hearst castle? I think)
San Fransisco will happily keep you busy for one full day.

Skip LA. Seriously. Unless you are a hollywood crazy, it will frustrate you. They drive like us Indians!

Some routes for you
1. Death Valley - Reno area(Lake tahoe)
http://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=Re...sz=7&via=1&z=7
2. highway one route as a day trip
http://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=Sa...7wA&mra=ls&z=8
3. - Yosemite - San FransiscoLake Tahoe http://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=La...sz=9&via=1&z=9

When we were in california for 2 months we drove 3000 miles + driving on the weekends. The LA trip was the most idiotic.

The highway 1 is truly a hidden gem with wonderful national parks on the way.

Make sure you do not cross speed limit by more than 10mph on the freeways(outside towns) and by more than 4-5mph on the in city freeways (60mph limit)

Buy a 100$ radar detector too, many places still use radar, but put it in your luggage in the states which ban it (I think washington state does not allow radar detectors)

If you can rent something like a Nissan Altima Hybrid, it will be fuel efficient, and also very comfortable for your back.
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