Thursday, November 17, 2011

Springsteen and More – New Jersey to Memphis, Sept 2012!

Hi Jamie!

Thank you so much for your great information! We are planning to go to the USA on the last two weeks of the next September for 15-20 days more or less.

We want to stay in NYC for 5 or 6 nights and then get in the car! So I guess that we have around 12 days to make our road trip with these compulsory stops to visit the cities:

- Asbury Park
- Atlantic City
- Philadelphia
- Washington
- Chicago (we added that last week)
- Nashville
- Memphis

What do you think about it? Is it too much for the days that we have?

Thanks in advance for your help! I can't wait for coming back to the States!

Best wishes,

Edurne from Barcelona


Hello Edurne --

Sounds like a grea trip! I myself am a huge fan of The Boss, and have made the pilgrimage to New Jersey many times over many years. I have to say it can be kind of underwhelming -- there's certainly no Madame Marie or Fireworks hailing over little Eden tonight, to quote some oldies but goodies. And Asbury Park itself is actually kinda druggie and depressing, especially since the real estate / financial crisis pulled the plug on its planned "redevelopment".

But the culture + history is very interesting, for sure -- here's a fan page website, recounting some Asbury Park history:

The same story is true of Atlantic City -- it was bold and brash in its 1920s heyday, and is now looking old and trashy (and massively corrupt), with a few huge hotels housing massive but impersonal casinos. It scares me, to be honest, but as the Boss said,
"...Everything dies, baby that's a fact ... so put your makeup on, put your hair up pretty, and meet me tonight in Atlantic City!

But on the upside, there are a couple of really enjoyable places on the New Jersey shore: Wildwood, for younger folks, and the truly historic Cape May, with a phenomenal collection of late 1880s house and hotels. And some great places to eat, and a lovely clean beach. Definitely a place to check out!

Philadelphia is unloved but very interesting -- it's the oldest real city in America, was the first capital of the USA , and has a ton of character. And some great museums (including a new home for the venerable Barnes Foundation, opening in May 2012)

So I guess what I'm saying is you may find that Asbury Park and Atlantic City don't demand too much of your time -- I would almost say you could see them on your way from NYC to Philadelphia, and if you like them, you can come back easily enough. But i wouldn't plan on three days along the Jersey Shore (though you should try to spare time for Lucy the Elephant in Margate, which I describe and illustrate in my Road Trip USA books!)

Washington DC is worth some time -- lots of amazing museums, and monuments galore. It's about the only "planned" city in America -- very Beaux Arts / Bellas Artes / neo-Classical / neo-Imperial...

I think I'd be tempted to continue south from DC, onto Nashville and Memphis (and maybe New Orleans?!)

Then head back up the Mississippi River, via St Louis (stop to enjoy the stunning Gateway Arch, which is way more impressive and beautiful than the Eiffel Tower!). Though it would be nice to have a few days to the drive, you can drive from Memphis to St Louis in a day, and St Louis to Chicago in a 2nd day -- following Route 66!

So you can definitely do the whole NYC / NJ / DC / Tennessee (New Orleans!) / St Louis / Chicago / Back to NYC road trip in 12 days, and get back to NYC for your flight home. And you can do this all at a pretty reasonable pace, without racing too fast -- just make sure you bring along some good music to listen to, for those long hours across Virginia and Tennessee and Route 66.

(Doing a circle / loop with your rental car is usually the cheapest way to take a road trip.)

OK, there's a lot here to digest, so let me know what you think and tell me how your plans shape up -- I hope you have a great trip!

Happy Trails,

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA


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