Roadtrip- IN, OH, PA, and NY are beautiful in January, right?
January 17, 2013 10:22 AM   Subscribe

Solo January roadtrip from western Indiana to RI. Up to a week to do it in (if I really wanted to), want to visit a friend in State College, PA on the way. How can I make this the least amount of terrible?

I was going to take I-80 the whole way until I saw this question, now I'm not so sure.

I have up to a week to make this trip and I'd like it to be as interesting as possible. Obviously, it's not the ideal season for sightseeing, but you have to do what you can with what you've got.

So, with that one stop in state college as my main restriction, what are some interesting routes and things I could see along the way? Interesting little towns, touristy spots, I could brave the cold for short-ish (2 to 5 miles?) hikes. I've never been to Pittsburgh... worth a slight detour? How much of a hassle will it be navigating it with a car?

And the overall question-- Is it at all practical and worth it to avoid i-80? If everything in between me and RI is a desolate wasteland right now and I should just load up on tunes, stay on the turnpike and get it over with, that's okay too. (I spent my childhood in IN, OH, KY, and MI so I don't think I'm totally starry-eyed about the possibilities here.)

I'll be leaving sometime within the next few days. Thanks!
posted by geegollygosh to Travel & Transportation around Pennsylvania (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I love Pittsburgh! It's my home town (sort of).

Pittsburgh is nice because you can get a great meal and see some interesting stuff.

You can consolidate this at The Strip, which is where the farm trucks used to come into town to deliver produce and meat, and now is a place to buy fancy produce, meat, sausage, eat neat food, and at the end of it is a Smithsonian outpost all about Pittsburgh, which is well worth seeing! While at The Strip, eat at Primanti Brothers (the famous sandwich with fries and coleslaw on it).

I'd say visit the Warhol Musuem as well, because it's one of my favorites. Great bars on Carson Street on the South Side. Go to Station Square. Ride the funicular up to Mt. Washington.

Pittsburgh isn't hard with a car. Public parking is decently easy to find when you need it. I will say, if it snows, it's a bitch, but that's every northeastern city.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:40 AM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

What are your interests? If you're interested in history then Gettysburg is worth a visit. And if you have some extra time Philadelphia is only about 90 miles east of that on the turnpike.
posted by lharmon at 10:59 AM on January 17, 2013

I traveled the Northeast Ohio to Indiana stretch of I-80 for four years during college and have spent the last seven years traveling I-80 from either western CT or NYC back to Ohio along I-80. There are significant amounts that are two lanes instead of three, but I haven't had a bad past experience that would sway me from taking that route.

My only suggestion as you continue onto Rhode Island (assuming you don't stop in NYC) would be to switch to 287 near Parsippany in NJ in order to take the Tappen Zee Bridge, which will connect you to 95N or 15N. This allows you to avoid the GW Bridge and Cross Bronx, which have sucked away hours of my life.

The Pennsylvania stretch is a long one, but the stop in State College will help to break it up. For several trips, I looked forward to some random barbecue joint off the highway. I think it was the break in my trip and my temporary mind-erasure of awesome barbecue from the south that convinced me of its awesomeness.

If you swing south to Pittsburgh on 76, you could then go even further south to Fallingwater. That's still on my list of road trip side treks.
posted by icaicaer at 11:00 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hint for traversing NYC: Coming east on 80, take the George Washington Bridge, exit immediately for Henry Hudson Parkway north. This will turn into the Saw Mill River Parkway after you leave the city. Take the exit for the Cross County Expressway. Follow this till you see signs for the Hutchinson River Parkway North (or East - towards Connecticut, not Queens). Stay on this road as it turns from the Hutch to the Merritt and maybe even the Wilbur Cross - it's all the same road. Your end game depends on where in RI you're headed, but the point is to avoid the obvious (and horrible) I95 out of the city.
posted by mr vino at 11:04 AM on January 17, 2013

Also, if you're coming from Indiana, I assume you know how to drive in the winter, but be warned that you're almost bound to hit some stretches of slippery road and lake effect snow.
posted by mr vino at 11:07 AM on January 17, 2013

Seconding Pittsburgh. It's a great town.

In addition to what Ruthless Bunny listed above, there are the other great Carnegie museums. Also, the Phipps Conservatory and the National Aviary are great respites from the cold and winter blahs.

Driving is not a problem, but GPS is most definitely your friend.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:33 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites] could then go even further south to Fallingwater.

Alas, both Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob are closed until March.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:47 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you choose to go a more southern route, Dayton Ohio (located at the junction of I-70 and I-75) has the National Museum of the Air Force as well as several excellent Wright Brothers sites ( Wright Cycle Company Complex, Huffman Prairie, and Carillon Park ).

If you are into aviation history, these are fantastic places to spend a day or two.
posted by 1367 at 12:09 PM on January 17, 2013

You add just 35 miles by going up to the I-90, which is a much nicer highway.
posted by 256 at 2:29 PM on January 17, 2013


Indianapolis to Providence: 908 miles

Indianapolis to Toronto to Providence: 1060 miles

Toronto is pretty cool.
posted by 256 at 2:33 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Came back to suggest a couple of places to stay.

Courtyard Homestead Waterfront. It's right off the parkway, in a huge shopping district next to the Monongahela river. Tons of restaurants, shops and a Giant Eagle! Be sure to have a meal at Eat 'n Park, if you like your eggs over easy, order 'dippy eggs'. Get a few smiley cookies for the road.

This is where the old Homestead Works used to be. The smokestacks are still there, and the train will run through, you'll see pieces of coal alongside the tracks.

If you go across the Homestead Grays Bridge, follow Murray Avenue. There you'll be in Squirrel Hill. Mineo's Pizza is probably the best Pizza anywhere. But I'm biased.

If the $159 for a room at the Courtyard is a bit steep, there are a TON of nice, motels in Robinson Township, at the junction of I279 and 22/30. Towards the airport. I've stayed in the Microtel. It was cheap and fine. Again a TON of shopping and dining opportunities, including Ikea. FYI, it looks like any suburb anywhere.

If you take the Stubenville Pike towards McKey's Rocks, you can go to Butya's. Over a decade ago that was the place to get a fish lunch on Friday. It's closed and changed hands since then. Ask the person behind the desk if they recommend it, if they do, go. Get a fish and chips and an Iron City.

Okay, I'll stop waxing nostalgic for awhile.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:47 AM on January 18, 2013

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