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Old 08-06-2011, 06:21 PM   #1
EPCOT66bye
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The Great American Road Trip: East Coast to Disneyland?

Anyone from the east coast ever done the drive to California? We were thinking of taking about 3 weeks to see the country (maybe through St. Louis and pick up Route 66?) But we're really interested in seeing DL, DCA, WDFM (San Francisco) and possibly Legoland, so the trip could be more heavily weighted to spend time in California than the journey out there...of course, stopping at the Grand Canyon or Vegas along the way are thoughts too.

Of course, we could always fly one-way and drive back, but we're going to be extremely budget conscious and were hoping to spend less than $5000. Can it be done?
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Old 08-07-2011, 04:10 AM   #2
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When are you thinking of going? Have much of the country have you seen?
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Old 08-07-2011, 04:33 PM   #3
EPCOT66bye
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Quote:
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When are you thinking of going? Have much of the country have you seen?
Summer 2012: DW is a teacher, so mid to late June at the earliest. I should have the vacation time, but have never taken more than 40 hours at a time. It will be a stretch to do two weeks, much less three, but I think I can get away with it.

The kids have been to Orlando and DC, so pretty much only the southeast. I've been to Texas about 30 years ago as a teen and DW worked on a dude ranch in Wyoming the summer before we got married. So all in all, we've seen very little. (I take that back, I did go to a conference in Phoenix once, but saw the airport, the taxi ride and the conference center...)

I'm betting we can make it as far as Nashville the first day and pick up I-40 West, but not sure where to go after that.

Any advice?
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Old 08-08-2011, 04:38 PM   #4
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That's alot of driving. Are you planning on hitting DL and then driving north to San Fran and returning back across the country through the north part? That's alot of time in a car but you could hit Mount Rushmore and the badlands on the way back.
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Old 08-08-2011, 06:47 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KCmike View Post
That's alot of driving. Are you planning on hitting DL and then driving north to San Fran and returning back across the country through the north part? That's alot of time in a car but you could hit Mount Rushmore and the badlands on the way back.
Yeah, Google has it around 3200 miles each way. We might consider stopping in Denver, as we do have friends there. I've also considered taking the train which would take us through Chicago...can get to the coast in 8 days with stopovers in both Chicago and Denver of at least 24 hours each. Traveling at night on the train would save time and lower a hotel cost.

Any train travelers out there?
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Old 08-11-2011, 04:15 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EPCOT66bye View Post
Anyone from the east coast ever done the drive to California? We were thinking of taking about 3 weeks to see the country (maybe through St. Louis and pick up Route 66?) But we're really interested in seeing DL, DCA, WDFM (San Francisco) and possibly Legoland, so the trip could be more heavily weighted to spend time in California than the journey out there...of course, stopping at the Grand Canyon or Vegas along the way are thoughts too.

Of course, we could always fly one-way and drive back, but we're going to be extremely budget conscious and were hoping to spend less than $5000. Can it be done?


I'm obviously from out west (Utah), but I have done the cross-country road trip from Utah to New York before. I took us 5 days driving each direction (plus some stops along the way).

As far as cost is concerned, I would estimate that it may cost around $1000 for gas, and if you go cheap on hotels, you may be able to keep it around $2000. Adding in food and entertainment for 3 weeks, and you may be pushing it to keep it in your $5000 budget but it might be possible.

As far as the best route to take, if I were making the trip, I'd probably take I-40 the entire way west except for a minor detour to Vegas. From Oklahoma City to Barstow, I-40 closely mirrors the path of Route 66 so there may be some interesting stuff along the way. The Grand Canyon may not be too much of a detour either.

After doing what you do in Cali, I would imagine you could head back east from San Francisco along I-80 to Salt Lake City, and then make your way to Denver (either via I-80/I-25 or via I-15/US Highway 6/I-70), and then continue on I-70 to St. Louis before heading down I-64 towards home.

I'll leave where you'd choose to stop up to you, but that seems to be a fairly straightforward route to take to me.
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Old 08-13-2011, 09:39 PM   #7
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I haven't done a cross-country road trip since I was a teen with my folks - but that last trip was in a rented motorhome and was a lot of fun - and of course not having to pay hotels was great. Downside is I think they all get pretty bad gas mileage.

Another time we made it all the way across in a bit over 3 days ( 2 drivers). That wasn't nearly as fun of course.

The train is an interesting option - we did the Coast Starlight 10 years ago in first class with a sleeper and enjoyed it a lot - but a friend just rode it coach and said it was awful - worn down and the atmosphere was none too good. But Chicago is a fun town with great museums and restaurants so would be a good place to get off and start the car trip. One thing we learned is that Amtrak doesn't own the rails so has to make way for commercial trains, which means they can be VERY late - from LA to Portland we were 5+ hours late on a 18 hour (or so) trip!

Grand Canyon and Vegas are close by each other so easy to include both. The desert is an interesting site for those from the East I've found - although I think it gets boring. Sedona in AZ is a pretty stop - red rocks in unusual shapes ( you can take an off-road jeep to see them ). SF is one of the world's great cities so shouldn't be missed. The coast from SF to LA is breathtaking in many spots but a slow trip - still well worth doing since you haven't seen it before ( the fast route is the 5 up the middle of the state- pretty dull).

Will you have kids with you? You'll obviously need more breaks!
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Old 08-14-2011, 01:36 AM   #8
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The road trip sounds fun to me! I would head down to I-40 and go west.
As I'm not looking at a map right now, I don't know the highway on the lower part of Illinois/Missouri but we went through there and stopped at Lincoln's cabin and then came down by St. Louis into Oklahoma City. If you stop in OKC, let me know as I know a great hotel/motel there. (2 day min from OKC to LA and that's pushing it).

OKC has the memorial right of the freeway. Nothing much until you get to Amarillo where it's the home of the 32 oz steak. (signs everywhere). Once you get into New Mexico, it's interesting as you have the red rock formations, the old adobe houses. Santa Fe is an off the highway trip but since you are on a timeline and have kids (assuming since you said Legoland), I don't know if smaller kids would enjoy Santa Fe as much as something else.

Arizona has the dinasours along the road, indian gift shops (along with N. Mexico). You will see a lot of Stuckeys (rest stop place) and buying one pecan log is a must. (I don't like them but I kept seeing them so had to buy one). We stopped at the Petrified Forest but wasn't too impressed. Since you are on a time line and budget, I'd save it for the Grand Canyon.

There are cheaper motels in Flagstaff and cheaper ones in Kingman. We stayed in Flagstaff and left early in the am to drive up to the Grand Canyon, we stayed there for about 6 hours and then drove back down and spent the night in Needles or Barstow (can't remember how far we made it that trip).

For time and $$, I'd be inclined to skip Vegas this time and perhaps go when it's an adult only trip. Sedona is nice but I'm thinking if your main goal is DL and the museum and LegoLand and looking for a few stops in between, I wouldn't veer that far off the regular highway.

You can find cheap lodging around DL. We use to stay across the street at Best Western but now stay a block away at Anaheim Plaza for $59 a night.

You could do your few days in DL, Legoland and then head up to San Francisco. I do day trips so not familiar with motels/hotels there.

From San Francisco, east on 80 towards Reno through Sacramento. From there, I do not know other than the national parks other's have mentioned. I haven't been past Reno on 80. (if anyone is a train buff, there is a nice train museum in Sacramento).

For the kids, research online for car games. Check books out of the library. If you have a DVD player etc. For two drivers, I don't think it would be that bad.

When we were transferred to OKC and traveled back to Sacramento yearly, sometimes we didn't have a lot of money. If you have AAA, Holiday Inn Express was good along I-40.

The months leading up to the trip, I bought a gift card to Shell and AM/PM and put some money on both so I could have gas cards. I bought the kids a disposible camera so they could take pictures along the way. I bought things at the store that I knew would last like peanut butter, peanut butter crackers, pringles.

We took an ice chest with milk/oj and a tupperware container to put sandwich meats, cheese in. I bought those 8 packs of single peanut butter cups and candy bars to put in that tupperware container in the ice chest for when the kids wanted a treat. We took cereals and I made muffins and cookies before we left. We stopped at rest stops and made sandwiches and had a soda from the ice chest. When we traveled to Michigan, Alabama, etc, I made it a point to stop at the larger truck stops for magnets of that state for my souvenirs which I now have in the photo album showing our trip with the photos. Cheap souvenirs. To change it up, bought salami, cheese and crackers and let the kids make their own little snacks.

It's doable if you treat it as an adventure. For our treats on the road, we'd stop at McD's or Wendys for one of their $1 ice creams.

I think I'm going to have to talk my bf into a driving trip up north to the east coast now.
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Old 10-06-2011, 03:58 AM   #9
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I want to do a cross country trip so badly - it's been 15 years since my last one and that's just too long. I will warn you, there's some really long, boring stretches in the prairie and SW states but that's part of the fun. I could spend three weeks just driving up the west coast alone, there's so much to see. In your shoes (not knowing your budget) I'd get a rental, drive it out, then fly back to maximize my time on the west coast. As for places to hit - wow, tall order! I love all the old missions, the national parks, Redwood forest, any and every beach, Monteray Bay Aquarium, and the sea lion caves in Oregon (if you get that far north). Have a fantastic time!
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Old 10-06-2011, 12:14 PM   #10
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We will be driving to DL this next summer from Nebraska. We plan to take the I-40 route through OKC - due to DS having such ear/sinus troubles - we want to avoid the mountains in CO. Love reading this thread! On the way home we are going to drive to Vegas and Area 51 - DS wants to see the "black mailbox".. How long would you think it takes to get from OKC to DL? We have made the trip to OKC many times - just never turned West! We are use to long trips as we have driven to South Padre and WDW...We love the adventure! Thanks for any additional info anyone can provide! Safe Travels everyone!
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Old 10-06-2011, 05:40 PM   #11
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100 hours sitting in a car just to get there and back ain't my idea of fun.
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Old 10-12-2011, 11:00 AM   #12
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Would you consider renting an RV to make the trip?
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Old 10-17-2011, 12:56 AM   #13
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We will be driving to DL this next summer from Nebraska. We plan to take the I-40 route through OKC - due to DS having such ear/sinus troubles - we want to avoid the mountains in CO. Love reading this thread! On the way home we are going to drive to Vegas and Area 51 - DS wants to see the "black mailbox".. How long would you think it takes to get from OKC to DL? We have made the trip to OKC many times - just never turned West! We are use to long trips as we have driven to South Padre and WDW...We love the adventure! Thanks for any additional info anyone can provide! Safe Travels everyone!
It's about 5 hours to the new mexico state line, 6 hours through New Mexico and 6 hours through Arizona. (about 3-1/2 from N. Mexico to Flagstaff if you are going that way to the Grand Canyon). From AZ/CA line to Los Angeles, I'm not sure. The speed is usually about 80mph from OKC to CA with the truckers using all lanes but once in CA, it is 65, truckers 55 and they all move over to the right lane. It's rather funny to watch as the minute you get into CA, all the truckers move over and slow down and there is usually a CHP sitting right there. I can't remember one trip where there wasn't one sitting there.

**One thing that bored my kids to death was in Winslow AZ when I had to go check out the "standing on a corner in Winslow AZ, such a fine sight to see, it's a girl my lord in a flatbed Ford slowing down to take a look at me" corner. LOL I have my picture with the Eagles statue and the pictures of the murials.
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Old 10-20-2011, 10:15 PM   #14
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Date for Disneyland visit: July 17th??

Okay, we're still tossing around the idea of driving coast to coast next summer. I've plotted out a 25 day route where we don't drive more than 7 hours per day. But we're trying to figure out if we should go right after school lets out in mid-june or wait until later in the summer in case Carsland doesn't open until late summer. Just how crowded would it be to be there on about July 17th? We could catch any anniversary events and see the new DCA before or after.

Is this a good plan or not?
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Old 10-23-2011, 07:55 PM   #15
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We're toying with doing the same thing in about a year. We love driving together though, and figure in addition to DL/DCA we can stop and see little attractions on the way that wouldn't be worth a trip by themselves.

How far is the longest trip you've driven before? Have you done it together?
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