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Driving from coast to coast in the USA

My husband and I are planning a trip in our small porche beginning in Washington State, through to New Jersey.
We are looking to do this in 14 days and are winery owners, food lovers, hikers, bikers etc. Want to see the best parts of our countryside, but realize we are limited in time. Any must see, eats and stays along the way would be appreciated. Open to a route suggestion as well! Our daughter will be rowing at the US rowing U23 camp in Princeton, so that is our final destination, then returning home.

Posted by
1733 posts

Wow, what a trip! Just wanted to put in a plug for the Finger Lakes Region of upstate New York - very scenic, Finger Lakes Trails for hiking, and lots of wineries.

Posted by
6514 posts

If you're a member of AAA (or another travel service group) this is one time where I might ask for their help with a routing. You can tell them your staring and ending points, how many miles you want to drive in a day (say max 300 miles or something like that), that you want a scenic route, etc, You can also ask them to route you to some Nat'l parks, away from interstates, etc.. I have done this and when I got their routing I just started looking at the map and making adjustments here and there to add in detours to other places I wanted to see.

It's a big country and you're probably going to get suggestions of where to go and what to see in a lot of states, many of which may not be on a logical route with your time frame. Maybe you need to give us a general idea of what route you're most likely to take (northern, southern, mid-country) and what states you'll likely pass through and then people can give you a better idea of what to see around there.

Posted by
9930 posts

If you haven't posted there already, you might want to post on the Trip Advisor Road Trips forum. There are some very helpful people who post there. The more information they have to work with the better!

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g1-i12567-Road_Trips.html

Do you have 14 days for just the trip to NJ? Or does that include there/back and the rowing event?

Posted by
25 posts

Here's a link for Rand McNally's trip planning tool that I find useful. It has an assortment of tools, including one to show different types of attractions along your chosen route. It's fairly easy to use and will even save your trips if you need to do it in stages.
http://tripmaker.randmcnally.com/

Posted by
2353 posts

The tripmaker site is great. Planning a trip like this can be daunting. Start by making a list of the places you'd like to see - no matter where they are - either cities you'd like to stop n or individual places like Mackinac Island - a rocker on the longest porch in the world. Then start pinning them on the map - your route will become clear.

Posted by
15075 posts

Is 14 days for the one-way trip? Then you leave the car in NJ and fly home? Do you have 14 days until you arrive in Princeton or does that include the time you'll spend there?

Google maps shows 2 northern routes (the shortest) - either across Montana, N. Dakota, then through Minneapolis, Chicago, Toledo, Cleveland (lots of traffic) or a more southerly route avoiding all the big metropolitan areas, via S. Dakota, Iowa, central Illinois/Indiana/Ohio (hundreds and hundreds of miles of corn fields). Both routes take about 40 hours from Spokane to Princeton, at optimal speeds, without delays or pit stops. If you're starting on the west coast, add hours to traverse Washington.

I'm just saying, be realistic about how many hours of driving you're going to have and how comfortable you're going to be in the Porche on those long stretches of open country (or those long delays for traffic or constructions), and how much time you'll really have for sightseeing. On the bright side, going east you won't be driving into the blinding sun in the late afternoons.

Posted by
2353 posts

Yes - knowing what the 2 weeks covers would help a lot.

You will find wineries in most every state these days - take along some of yours to share!

Posted by
338 posts

Didn't see what time of yr the trip is going to be. That can make a huge difference if you want to go through Montana etc, which I highly recommend. But winter time, especially in a small car is Extremely risky

Posted by
16883 posts

Did you ever see the RoadFood guidebook or related articles in Gourmet magazine? They focus on local traditions over high cuisine, and more east coast than west: https://roadfood.com/.

Posted by
2353 posts

The Food Network has an app for restaurants featured on their shows

Posted by
25 posts

As others have mentioned, knowing what type of things you want to see and when you're going makes a difference...We've driven across country three times, and took the "northern" route twice--CA, WA, Idaho, Montana/South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio (our destination once) then to PA, NY, Massachusetts and CT (other destination). Along that route I suggest Mount Rushmore/the Badlands, Yosemite, and none of this is in the order they come in most likely; it's been more than a few years since we've done it. Depending on the time you have, we absolutely love the states of New England--Maine, Mass, and CT for their history and fall foliage.
Another trip found us taking old route 66ish from central CA back to SC; not necessarily my favorite areas for driving, aside from Nashville and the Appalachian mountains. We love trying smaller restaurants and getting a better feel for the area versus cities, just because we're not necessarily city people :) Sounds like a lot of fun! My husband used to row for the Coast Guard Academy! Good luck to your daughter!

Posted by
15075 posts

It's been a week, and Julie hasn't given us any more info.

Posted by
2353 posts

It is a little annoying when people post then never come back.

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you all for the unbelievable insights. I have been on the road for a couple of weeks and haven't been able to respond. We are leaving June25-July7..flying home then. We were going to take our porsche, but decided to rent a luxury vehicle with more room. We found a company who rents point to point exclusive cars..Zadart is their name..very, very helpful. I will let you all know what we end up doing...we do know we're starting with a night a Old Faithful in Yellowstone, then hiking the Lamar area with guide and lunch. Going to see the presidents at Rushmore, then on....Thanks again!

Posted by
15075 posts

The luxury vehicle sounds much better for those long hours through corn country! Have a great time. I look forward to your trip report.

Posted by
110 posts

Ah, something I actually know about! US road trips!

Yes, one can go in the interstate from Seattle to Princeton in four days. (Buddy of mine just went from Seattle to Johns Hopkins in Maryland in four days.) It is, in his medical opinion, a "hemorrhoid burn." By comparison, 14 days is the lap of luxury. I would respectfully suggest that two weeks is not "limited in time" at all. Fourteen days coast to coast averages out to about 400 miles a day, give or take. (I ride my motorcycle and 400 miles in a day is really the maximum I can do on two-wheels.) In a car, that's about seven hours at freeway speeds or nine hours of twisty-turny roads. Totally do-able but know that most people's endurance wanes over a long road trip. On average, people lose about 10% of their mileage a day until you get need a stop day to just hold still. (In your case, Chicago would be an excellent choice).

If you're starting in Seattle I assume you know about highway 20 from Burlington to Twisp. I would recommend staying on 20 until Chewelah. Very beautiful country. I will also suggest US-12 from Lewiston, Idaho to Lolo, Montana. Without exaggeration, these two roads are two of the most beautiful roads in the country.

Have fun!

Posted by
3336 posts

My husband and I did this one summer when he was doing some academic work at Middlebury College in Vermont...we were going to be there all summer so decided to drive so we wouldn't have to rent a car while we were there.
The one thing I'll suggest, as you have already been given amazing route ideas, is to drive through Manhattan! We had a Toyota Tundra pickup truck and decided it was a once in a lifetime chance! It took forever with the traffic and people but what a memory...in your Porsche it would be quite a drive. Just to see the looks on people's faces with our California plates driving our giant truck through the city, was worth doing it. Princeton isn't far from there so it would be easily done!
Hope your daughter has fun...I'm a fellow rower and think it's the best sport in the world!
Have a great trip...

Posted by
15075 posts

Dumb Californians took the wrong turn off the freeway?