road trip LV to NYC
March 19, 2010 1:39 AM   Subscribe

road trip USA: my wife and I will drive from Las Vegas to NYC mid-april. Any suggestions on the itinerary?

we both love national parks very much. however, we did a cycle tour of southwest nps in 2008, so except grand canyon, we probably will skip the others (zion, bryce canyon, arches....).

1. any suggestions on stops/interesting points (from grand canyon onwards) would be appreciated.
2. decent but inexpensive hotels (or hotel chains) we should stick with during the trip? outdoor camping is not quite our cup of tea.
3. how long shall we budget? the maximum miles we plan to drive in a day is around 300 miles

thanks a million in advance....
posted by kingfish to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
3 - I cycled from Ohio to Northern California and back at a similar pace, via a rather wandering route that avoided freeways almost entirely. It took 11 days each way. I think your overall distance is probably similar.
posted by jon1270 at 3:29 AM on March 19, 2010


I'm whipping out my perennial suggestion of this blog for ideas.
posted by jgirl at 4:45 AM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Las Vegas to NYC is about 2,500 miles, assuming you drive the most direct route along I-80.

At a maximum of 300 miles per day, that's 8.4 days, give or take a fraction.

Incidentally, you say you're driving to NYC. I don't know if you've been to NYC before, but if you haven't, have you considered where you're going to park your car when you arrive? NYC isn't like most other American cities, in that most hotels don't have on-site parking...
posted by dfriedman at 6:21 AM on March 19, 2010


It would really help to know your route. Northern Route, Southern Route? I-80 is fairly boring without side trips. I-10 too. How much time do you have?
posted by Miko at 6:35 AM on March 19, 2010


If you have the time would take a northerly route. Through the Black Hills (lots of parks), through MInnesota to the Michigan U.P. (more parks) into Ontario (bring your passport), down to Toronto, then across upstate NY (parks around the Finger Lakes). But, like I said, that will take time - I would give this journey two weeks to be able to enjoy the sights.

Honestly, a straight shot from Denver to NYC is farily dull, except for Chicago of course.
posted by dzot at 6:37 AM on March 19, 2010


decent but inexpensive hotels (or hotel chains) we should stick with during the trip?

Wingate hotels have a free hot breakfast in the morning, so they are worth paying a little bit more for, around $20 or whatever you two would have spent to have a hot breakfast at a restaurant. If breakfast is from 7-10, it gets busy at about 9:15, so head down early. I've stayed at 4 or 5 in the past year and they have all been easy to find, clean and quiet. All rooms have fridges and microwaves, too.

They are part of Wyndham hotels, so if you use them a bunch, join their rewards club.
posted by soelo at 7:10 AM on March 19, 2010


dzot's recommendations for the Northern Route are great.
posted by Miko at 7:42 AM on March 19, 2010


thanks all.

actually our real starting point would be the great city of seattle. but, somehow we both think we got to hit LV and grand canyon to make the trip complete.

a somewhat southern route would be preferred, but we really run out of route ideas after grand canyon. we would love to stop at new orleans, but that seems to be a big detour out of the straight shoot to NYC. in addition, we have no idea what we should do on the long stretch between grand canyon and new orleans.

we budget around 3 weeks for this endeavor, but could extend if we have to.
posted by kingfish at 7:48 AM on March 19, 2010


If you're going to NYC by way of New Orleans, then you should make stops in Las Cruces, NM, El Paso, TX, Marfa, TX, and Alpine, TX.

Those four cities are like nowhere else in America; you don't feel like you are in the US any more.

But, going from Seattle to Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon to New Mexico to Texas to New Orleans and up to NYC sounds like a longer trip than three weeks...
posted by dfriedman at 7:52 AM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


For finding different eating stops, the forums at RoadFood.com are a great resource to local, non-corporate/franchise gustatory experiences along the way. There's a pay/subscription section to the site if you want to download the maps, but the forums are free and browsable. Once you figure out your route, search for locations in the forums.
posted by webhund at 8:04 AM on March 19, 2010


More Northern Route. I really enjoyed the Black Hills and Badlands, also Sioux Falls and the small prairie town of Chamberlain, SD, where there is a good Lakota Museum at St. Joseph Indian School. Corn Palace and Wall Drug, of course - the ultimate in kitsch, but I am a big fan of roadside Americana, so there were musts. We enjoyed Minneapolis/St. Paul, and then across to Wisconsin, we visited Taliesin for an amazing tour and spent some great time in Madison. Get to a real small-scale dairy in Wisconsin if you can. Chicago's fantastic. In Michigan, Ann Arbor, with a lunch at Zingerman's.

In short, I'd say Las Vegas if you must, but take the northern or southern route from there, and avoid the middle crossing unless speed is of the essence. There are good things everywhere, but really, both I-70 and I-80 are exceedingly dull until you reach the Appalachians. Las Vegas is the kind of place people tend to have a chance to visit, either on a plane layover or for a conference, or because there are always dirt-cheap airfares to there. I understand the romance of including it on a XC roadtrip, but it really sounds like it just doesn't match up well with your starting and ending points and your timeframe.
posted by Miko at 10:04 AM on March 19, 2010


If you're going through the Grand Canyon, you're set up perfectly to make a stop in Carlsbad, NM to see the most stunning caverns in North America. Take an entire day to do it, visiting the Big Room and taking the Ranger Guided King's Palace tour. No picture can do this cave justice. You'll remember it forever. Stay overnight and catch the bat flight - it's a wonderful and awe inspiring sight.

Even better! You'll get to drive south through San Antonio and Galveston on your way to New Orleans. Heading up I-20 from New Orleans, you'll drive through Pecan farms on your way to Birmingham, Alabama, which has plenty to charm you. From there, you can either head up to Nashville (I-65) or you can take I-59 to Knoxville. Either way will be lovely during April. From there, wind your way through the mountains to Blacksburg, Virginia. You can hit Washington, DC, which is coming into its own during April. Also, it's after Spring Break and before summer break, so it's just about as tourist free as you can hope for.

I suggest this route as it keeps you out of the vast expanses of NOTHING. Every day on that drive will be through somewhere beautiful. Also, most of these places will really be coming into their own in terms of natural beauty - flowers blooming! Missing Carlsbad would be a real shame. If you end up going this route, I have some suggestions for good places to stay and eat that are local and decently priced.
posted by stoneweaver at 10:37 AM on March 19, 2010


My usual suggestions for road trips: Roadside America and Mom and Pop Motels (the motels cross-referenced with review sites - some are horrible, some sublime).

(And it's on my life list to sleep in a wigwam - maybe there's one along your route and you'd like it too .)
posted by peagood at 5:48 AM on March 20, 2010


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