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David87's American Road Trip Thread Social

Discussion in 'Politics Forum' started by David87, May 1, 2016.

  1. David87 May 1, 2016
    (Last edited: May 9, 2016)

    Prestigious Prestigious

    Hey all, so me and my girlfriend are both teachers, and one of the few perks of the job is, of course, summer vacation. We've been talking for a few years about doing a road trip across America, and I've been aiming for next summer to be the time. So I'm starting planning now. It seems very far out but between the amount of National Parks and cities we plan on hitting it's going to take a lot a lot a lot of planning. This trip is mainly about doing as much as possible in one summer, not so much about spending a lot of time in one place. I like the idea of being able to say I saw all this stuff in one summer, and any places we like in particular we can always go back to as a separate vacation in the future.

    So, I have a ton of books about national parks. But I would be stupid not to enlist the help of the internet. I am of course using and a few other resources, but whenever you google thnigs like "best things to do in ______", you always get a whole bunch of nonsense links and etc blah blah anyway....I'm starting this thread because I know there are people here from all over the country and who have done some of the things we're going to be doing on this trip. I'm doing it in the politics section mainly because this is where people may actually know who I am, and hey, it's America related so...sure, we'll go with that.

    I'll put a list of the places we will most definitely be hitting in each section, so that way you aren't wasting your time with a super awesome and detailed post that I can't use. But if you want to try and convince me to do something I don't have on the list, feel free. I know of at least one prominent park I'm leaving out because it's just an easier route. And this list is preliminary, some places may end up getting cut for time purposes. Some cities especially will literally be only driven through with a stop for dinner or lunch or whatever, but I'll still take info on them in case we realize we want to spend a little more time in said city.

    There are of course other things we'll be hitting, some national monuments and national historical sites and other places like that (forests, lakeshores, etc) that are along our way, and other points of interest (Devil's Tower in Wyoming, for example). But way too many of them to list and get into. Just throw things you can think of at me. You'll be able to get a general idea of the route we're taking by the list of parks and cities I have down below, so you'll be able to tell what's near our route.

    So basically, I'm looking for any advice from people on:

    National Parks
    • If you were spending only one or two days in _________, what would you say is absolutely must see, can't miss? (Please only if you've actually done those things, I got a ton of books that give me this info second hand, so first hand experiences would help most)
    • Where did you stay? Hotel/Lodging? Campgrounds?
    • Any other info on the park that you think would be helpful
    A list of National Parks we'll most likely be hitting:

    1. Washington D.C. areas
    2. Harper's Ferry (WV)
    3. Cuyahoga Valley (OH)
    4. Bad Lands/Wind Cave (SD)
    5. Grand Tetons (WY)
    6. Yellowstone (WY)
    7. Glacier (MT)
    8. Olympic (WA)
    9. Crater Lake (OR)
    10. Redwood (CA)
    11. Joshua Tree (CA) (maybe, first cut possibly)
    12. Grand Canyon (AZ)
    13. Zion (UT)
    14. Bryce Canyon (UT) (also may be cut)
    15. Arches (UT)
    16. Everglades (FL)
    17. Biscayne (FL) (Maybe, another cut candidate)
    State Parks
    • Basically the same as above. We won't be putting as much emphasis on hitting state parks, will more likely be possible stops that happen to be on or along our route.

    States we'll be driving through or in parts of include: Maryland, WV, PA, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minny, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, SC, NC, Virginia.

    • If you spending a day in ___________, what sights/parks/historic/ etc would you recommend?
    • If you were going to spend a night in ____________, where's a good place to find affordable lodging? Any neighborhoods or regions of the city to absolutely avoid at all costs? Easier to find a motel somewhere in the suburbs?
    • What's a good bar/tavern type of eatery to grab breakfast/lunch/dinner? Affordable, non-fast food, preferably local and non-chain places. Brewpubs of local breweries a MAJOR plus.
    A list of the major (or historical) cities we will either spend a day/night in, or will at least drive through (I'll also list some states where we'll be driving through but won't stop in any major cities):
    1. Pittsburgh
    2. Cleveland
    3. South Bend
    4. Chicago
    5. Milwaukee
    6. Minneapolis
    7. South Dakota
    8. Wyoming
    9. Montana
    10. Idaho
    11. Seattle
    12. Portland
    13. San Francisco
    14. Los Angeles
    15. San Diego
    16. Las Vegas
    17. Denver
    18. Austin
    19. Houston (definitely may be cut)
    20. New Orleans
    21. Mobile
    22. Miami
    23. St. Augustine
    24. Savannah
    25. Charleston
    Again, at least a few of these will just be drive throughs where we take in the site of the skyline and grab a meal on our way through and that's about it. So information on good, reasonably priced pubs/taverns/restaurants is super appreciated.

    • If I'm driving through/near/in (insert city or state here), what's a good microbrew pub/brewery to grab a meal and try a beer?

    A secondary goal for us on the trip is to try and get a pint glass from every state we're in. And we both enjoy trying beers, so we wanna try and stop at a microbrew in each state we drive through/near to do so. This is going to take a little finagling here and there (i.e. there's only one place that I can find that is in Michigan but close enough to the border of Indiana that it's not completely impossible to take a side trip there). So if you know places in any of these cities, or better yet, random lesser known places that will be along our route, please tell me!
    You can get a good sense of our general route from those lists, as they're in the order we'll be hitting them, more or less. So if you take a look at things around those areas and you know there's something along the road that's worth stopping for, by all means please let me know. You'll notice the absence of New England, but that's because we're going to do that as it's own separate trip for Spring Break before next summer. I wanted to try and do it all in one trip in the summer but there just wasn't enough time.

    I know a few major things are missing, but that is more or less by design. I know this thread won't get too much love, especially right away, but I'll periodically bump it from time to time, and maybe even tag some people who I know live or lived in, near, or around certain cities at some point. If you're wondering where in some of these states we'll be, we're generally sticking to the coasts when we're near them, and otherwise are taking the most direct route from one place to the next.

    Thank you to anyone who contributes anything here! I'm going to be doing my best to write everything planning wise down in a composition book, and then eventually putting it out there on the interwebz somewhere to maybe be used as a road trip template for people. That's a lot of work and way off in the future though lol.

    Any tips/pointers from people who have done roadtrips (including things like car rentals, camping vs. hotels, etc) are also appreciated.
  2. David87

    Prestigious Prestigious

    Here's pretty much all of the literature I am working with, FYI. If anyone has any other good book recs, I'll take em!

  3. a nice person

    Trusted Prestigious

    Glacier is the most beautiful place I've been to. Definitely recommend going-to-the-sun road, a great drive through the heart of the park. If you have half a day there, I'd go hike to Avalanche Lake.
    Adrian Villagomez and David87 like this.
  4. David87

    Prestigious Prestigious

    Thanks! Yeah everything I've read says to make that drive, so I'm purposely going to drive up from Yellowstone along the eastern border of the park so we can enter at the eastern side of going-to-the-sun and drive through the park on that road.

    I'm trying to figure out if there are any roads west through the mountains at the northern parts of the park. I'd really like to drive north through Glacier and then turn west and make a b-line through Idaho and Washington to Seattle, but there's definitely no major road up there and google maps turns up what could be small roads, dirt roads, or just ATV/snowmobile paths. Don't wanna drive into the heart of northern Glacier only to find out I'd have to turn around to get out of it haha
  5. a nice person

    Trusted Prestigious

    I know there's a road on the northwest side of the park called north fork road, I think. I haven't driven it, I believe it's a dirt road that leads to 3 other lakes in the park. I'm not sure if it leads to a highway though. I'll be in glacier in late July. Checking out Canada too for the first time. The drive via going-to-the-sun road is amazing. It'll make you want to explore the park on a separate visit.
  6. chris

    Trusted Supporter

    if you're going from San Fran to Portland (or vice versa) stop through Crater Lake. It only adds like 2 hours to the drive and it looks beautiful
    David87 likes this.
  7. lordjedediah


    Make sure you take Pacific Coast Highway from Los Angeles to San Francisco or the other way around. Big Sur shouldn't be missed.
    Adrian Villagomez likes this.
  8. David87

    Prestigious Prestigious

    Yeah we'll be going from Portland, then over to crater lake, then back over to the coast for the Redwoods before shooting down to San Fran. Def don't wanna miss Crater Lake.

    Thanks! That's more or less what I was planning but I haven't looked closely at that leg of the trip yet in terms of what routes to take. I do remember debating between taking the coastal route or driving through the valley on 5 when i was initially looking it over.
  9. Trotsky



    If you're going to go to another place in Texas (traveling through Texas can be very inefficient by the way, so choose wisely), to San Antonio, South Padre, El Paso, or even Dallas. I don't hear much about Houston that would make me at all interested in going there. But San Antonio and South Padre are both awesome travel destinations.

    St. Louis could be a stop in just about any route because of its location. If you stay here, I can give you some tourist info.
  10. David87

    Prestigious Prestigious

    Yeah after the Grand Canyon the route gets a little weird because of the things me and the lady want to do. She really wants to do the Utah national parks which I am all for too, so we end up kind of driving back up into the "middle" of the country in terms of North/South to do that. From there I figure we'll just head east to Denver, and then that's where the route gets a, inefficient? is a good word haha. We're gonna take a big nose dive south out of Denver, through the OK and TX panhandles and down to Austin. And then from there the goal is New Orleans, and since Houston is kind of sort of on the way I threw it on there, but we may just bypass the city all together.

    St. Louis and a lot of the other lower mid-west and middle Appalachia states/cities unfortunately are getting skipped. I'm kind of bummed because i'd really like to see Mammoth Cave, but the combo of New Orleans/Everglades/St. Augustine/Savannah won out. We're taking the Northern route out west and decided to do Chicago up through Wisconsin to Minneapolis, since it's kind of-sort of on the same line of latitude as Badlands/Devil's Tower/Yellowstone.

    I rode a bus to Vegas once because I'm crazy and we stopped in St. Louis on the way out. Didn't get a chance to explore but did get to see the arch which was very cool.
  11. Victor Eremita May 3, 2016
    (Last edited: May 3, 2016)
    Victor Eremita

    Not here. Isn't happening. Supporter

    I know many good spots in both Pittsburgh and Cleveland. I've lived in Pittsburgh and still work there sometimes, and am now in the Cleveland area. When are you leaving? I need to remind myself to come back to this. Or PM me.

    Cleveland: For microbrews, Great Lakes is obviously the popular spot in Cleveland. Its deserving of it as well. The food is fine, the beer is great. But if you're interested in great food and just decent beer check out the Butcher and Brewer downtown.

    For Pittsburgh, I really like the atmosphere at Church Brew Works. Good food, good beer, really cool building though (its in a church, you could have guessed). East End Brewery is better beer though.
    Michael Schmidt and David87 like this.
  12. chris

    Trusted Supporter

    Additionally, not a state park, but traveling from San Francisco to LA, highway 1 down the coast is supposed to be a really amazing drive.
    Adrian Villagomez and David87 like this.
  13. Victor Eremita

    Not here. Isn't happening. Supporter

    I just saw you listed the Cuyahoga Valley National Park! That's awesome. Its really amazing. The town Peninsula is a really cool spot to park/start the exploration of the park in. Its right in the middle of a gorgeous area, with plenty of scenic trails and things to do.
    Michael Schmidt and David87 like this.
  14. David87

    Prestigious Prestigious

    This is planned for summer 2017 as of right now. I know it seems a little crazy to plan so far in advance, but it's a huge trip to undertake and I wanna try and leave nothing to chance. As a teacher, this summer is really gonna be prime planning time haha. But I figure if I get the trip and general time to travel and all that, that means we'd just have to figure out what to pack and car rentals and all that. So, plenty of time for me to ask more questions, which I definitely will as I tighten things up.

    Awesome! I've heard Great Lakes before, so I was leaning towards that being my choice. I'm writing all this shit down in a notebook if you can see in the picture, so I'll jot those two Pittsburgh places down for sure. Are hotels cheap in Pittsburgh? I think we may end up spending a night there. We really don't need a Pennsylvania glass since I live so close to PA as it is, but I don't even care haha.

    Yeah that's exactly what Jedi said up top. Seems like that's definitely the way to go now that two separate people have pointed it out haha

    Yep! Since Harper's Ferry is technically a NHS and not a NP, Cuyahoga will be the first real National Park we hit on the trip. I'm thinking we shoot over from Pitt, hit the NFL hall of fame in Canton, and then up to Cuyahoga for the rest of the day/spend the night/explore a little bit the next day before continuing on. Cleveland will be more of a "drive through", though we'll stop for lunch or dinner at one of the breweries for sure. Thanks for the info! Seriously appreciate it so much. I will definitely ask more questions as I get it more fleshed out.
  15. Old Fuck


    I spent a couple weeks out west on a camping/hiking trip. I'd definitely recommend Zion, I'd skip the Grand Canyon, and I'd think about adding in Yosemite somehow. I'm not sure how active you two are, but you can find pretty cool, fairly deserted lesser known places to hike all through southern Utah, like buckskin gulch (don't go if there's any chance of rain) and its within driving distance of some nice places to stay near lake Powell.
    I'm from pittsburgh and if you're looking to stay downtown, check out the omni William penn hotel, it's got some history to it (and its where silence of the lambs was filmed) and its within walking distance of the point and whatever else you might want to see there. I second the church brewery recommendation, and no matter what you hear, primanti brothers fucking sucks, don't go there, no matter how 'pittsburgh' it is.
  16. Old Fuck


    Oh and if you stay at the omni William penn in Pittsburgh, look on groupon. You can almost always get a room half off normal price.
  17. My girlfriend and I did a 10-day trip through Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota last summer and it was amazing. We spent the first 2 nights in Colter Bay Village in Grand Teton and the next 2 nights in Grant Village in Yellowstone. Colter Bay was basically a cabin and Grant Village was more of a hotel, but neither have A/C, TV, or a lot of other amenities, just FYI. Wasn't the most luxurious sleeping arrangement, but we spent very little time in the rooms and there aren't a whole lot of other options for places to stay in that area. It's good that you're planning well in advance because a lot of those rooms are booked a year in advance.

    In Grand Teton, we took an early morning ferry across Jenny Lake and then did the hike to Inspiration Point. It's a pretty popular tourist site, so it can be crowded near the bottom of the mountain, but it's a deceptively strenuous hike uphill so the crowds clear out pretty quickly as you make your way up. Going as early as possible also helps a lot as more tourists show up a little later in the morning. The view from Inspiration Point is breathtaking, so I would definitely recommend it if you have time.

    We spent most of 3 days in Yellowstone, which is a pretty good estimate for how long it'll take to get the most out of it. If you just drive around and hit the high points (Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic, Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Hayden Valley, etc) you could probably wrap it up in 2 days if you're on a tight schedule. If you want to do some hiking away from the main paths and attractions, you could easily spend a week or more there.

    When we left Yellowstone we headed up to Montana and stayed in Bozeman for one night and Billings the next. They were both nice cities to kind of relax and recover from all of the hiking. Definitely not essential stops, but it was cool to see the character of the cities in that part of the country. We did a treetop zipline course in Billings that was pretty amazing.

    Made our way east to Devil's Tower, which was a nice attraction, but I honestly wouldn't go too far out of your way to see it. It's a cool sight, but it's surrounded by rocks so you can't get that close to the actual structure. For the most part, you just walk this trail that circles around it. Takes an hour or so if you're not doing a lot of exploring around the grounds. You can climb it (I think you need some kind of permit), and if you do you are a far braver man than I.

    The last three nights we stayed in Custer, SD and went to Mt. Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Memorial, Custer State Park, and the Badlands. All well worth seeing, in my opinion. We got a vacation package through that included a discounted hotel stay for 3 nights and discounted admission to three attractions in SD (you get to pick any 3 out of a possible 10 or so), and that worked out great.

    Hope this is useful! It was honestly my favorite vacation to date. The nature in that part of the country is amazing. Let me know if you have any questions or want more details on anything. I would be happy to help.
  18. s/t

    Regular Prestigious

    Don't go to Houston.

    I'll add more useful information to this later.
  19. So Pittsburgh is my favorite city and there is a ton to do there.

    But based on what your trip is about, you should check out the Cathedral of Learning on Pitt's campus and take a tour through all of the nationality rooms. I think you'd find it interesting based on what I've seen you post in the Politics forum and the general theme of your trip.

    I also really enjoy the National Aviary and Phipps Conservatory. If you are going to be there on a weekend you should check out the Strip District. You have to do the incline if you haven't ever done it to see the view from Mount Washington (Pittsburgh has one of the best city skylines).

    I'll second jaws rec for Church Brew Works. I also love Fat Heads Saloon. I'm not huge on Primanti Bros but that's a Pittsburgh thing.
  20. David87

    Prestigious Prestigious

    I'm going to risk sounding redundant with all the thank yous and I hope they don't come off as disingenuous because of the repetitiveness....I am so appreciative of all this info for sure.

    @Old Fuck -Thanks for the Zion rec. Those 4 or 5 NP's through Utah all seem so cool, but I don't think we'd have time to do them all, so it's nice to hear I'm picking one of the must dos. As a Teddy R. fan I can't leave out the Grand Canyon, and my girlfriend would probably murder me if we skipped it haha. Yosemite is probably my biggest regret in terms of what we'll end up missing, I think. We both want to do a lot of things on the coast of Cali, including driving down it, and it just would add a few extra days we probably won't have. After I get done all the planning and see the time it's going to take, Yosemite is going to be close to the top of the list of "first alternates" that I add in if there's time haha. Thank you for the Pitt info, I'm planning that leg of the trip tonight/this weekend, so it's nice to have that info right now.

    @Patterns in Traffic --Yaaas this is fantastic man, thank you. Jenny Lake and the trail after it seems to be highly rec'd everywhere, so that is definitely going to be a priority. Depending on time, 2 days is probably a good estimate of the time we'll take in Yellowstone. Will almost definitely extend it to 3 if it seems like we'll have a few extra days of time when all the planning is done. Definitely at least passing through Bozeman and Butte (because I'm super, super mature and don't plan on getting a picture with a Butte sign at all)...any brew pubs or otherwise restaurant recs in Bozeman? I'm strangely excited for Bad Lands and I think we'll definitely hit Custer SP since it seems to be right in between the Wind Caves and Mt. Rushmore. And we're both excited for some wildlife spotting opportunities like Buffalo and what not (though I am terrified of accidentally running into and pissing off a Grizzly heh). When i get to that leg of the journey in my planning I will definitely tag you in this thread or send a PM if I can think of any questions.

    @s/t ---lol yeah, when we're driving from Austin to NO, we may just bypass it all together. We'll probably get our Brewery/pint class requirement done in Austin, but we will prob have to stop for food somewhere between Austin and NO....

    @spiffa0 Ooooo nice rec on the aviary. We love hitting the local zoos around here, but the only Zoo we were planning on hitting on the trip was San Diego. May definitely have to stop there in Pitt if we have the time...Nationality room sounds cool too, we'd probably do that over the aviary if we end up having to choose. Mt. Washington sounds like a go as well. Looks like I have to pencil in Church Brew Works as our brewpub for PA haha, can't argue with three rec's.
  21. Dominick

    Prestigious Prestigious

    If you come through Baltimore, we can schedule a street fight.
  22. David87

    Prestigious Prestigious


    haha I live close enough to Baltimore that we could do that whenever. That's why Balty isn't really a stop for this one. We're only doing DC because I haven't seen the Holocaust museum and the girlfriend hasn't seen the American and Natural History museums, and my sister and nephews live around there so it makes sense to spend a day. Might do Ford's Theater too if we can squeeze it in.

    Street fight the next time the Phils play the Orioles?:beer:
  23. Old Fuck


    I don't mean to hijack David's thread, but my wife loves pierogies and I was looking online for a good place. We just went to the church brewery so I don't want to take her there, but I'm hearing about a new polish restaurant called apteka on penn avenue. Have you tried it? Any other recommendations?
  24. I've never tried Apteka but it's supposed to be very good. Another suggestion would be s&d Polish deli in the strip district
  25. Old Fuck


    Thanks, apteka is supposedly all vegan so we ended up at the church after all. That buffalo meatloaf is so good.