Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hey Road Trip USA

We are two Australians, heading over your way for a month and seeing different parts of America. We will be traveling from New York to Springdale Arkansas via car in 5 days. Wondering if you could suggest a route that incorporates Washington , Richmond , coastal areas and a look at the Mississippi ?

Earlier in our stay we will be driving from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park. We have two nights allowed and wonder what would be the best way to see the park ?


Dave and Lucy


Dear Dave & Lucy --

Many thanks for your note, and I hope you have a great time on your Grand Tour!

For the first leg of your trip, I'd recommend heading west out of New York City, to avoid the dreariness of the New Jersey Turnpike / I-95 freeway and explore instead the lovely rolling green countryside of the Pennsylvania Dutch Country (around Lancaster, I cover this in my "Appalachian Trail" chapter in my Road Trip USA book.

This way you could approach Washington DC via Gettysburg civil war battlefield, and maybe the historic town of Harpers Ferry, which is fascinating and very pretty, too.

Having only 5 days doesn't leave much time to see Washington DC, but you could see all the main monuments and make it down to Richmond (and I'd recommend a visit to nearby Williamsburg, a restored colonial-era town that is one of the main attractions of the whole East Coast. From here you could get a glimpse of the coast, at Virginia Beach perhaps, but it's a long way to Arkansas, so you should probably head west -- to Memphis, and cross the Mississippi River there. Besides all the Elvis Presley connections, and fantastic food, Memphis also has a truly good Mississippi River museum, on what they call "Mud Island" right out in the middle of the river (it is much more appealing than that sounds, I promise!)

And about Yosemite -- once you are in Yosemite Valley, seeing the sights is easy as can be. Hop on the free shuttle buses and get off at every vista point and waterfall -- especially Yosemite Falls, which are stunning. Half Dome and El Capitan, the main walls of granite, are visible from just about anywhere, so you can't miss them. If you feel athletic, there is a nice half-day hike up to Vernal and Nevada waterfalls, starting from the delightfully named Happy Isles trailhead.

Hope this helps. Have a great trip!

Happy Trails,

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA


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