Thursday, October 27, 2016

Cross Country RV Itinerary #1

As I prepared for my trip, friends of mine were kind enough to send me their itineraries for driving cross country. While appreciated their information, I discovered that creating an itinerary is a very personal and customized exercise. That being said, I found them useful in terms of driving time and sites important to them.

Here is one itinerary with a military and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints sites emphasis, in a vehicle pulling a trailer, for 10 people, from August 9 to August 27. They began in Southern Oregon and ended after Nauvoo Illinois.

Day 1 Saturday - August 9

Leave Southern Oregon 6pm
Drive to Willard, UT 732 miles ~ 15 hours
Arrive 9am (next morning)

Day 2 Sunday - August 10

Leave Willard 10-11am
Drive to Nebraska, CO 10 hours

We stayed at a rest stop to sleep in west Nebraska

Day 3 Monday - August 11Leave 8am
Drive to Kansas City 10 hours
Arrive 6pm
Stayed at Kansas City East KOA 

This was our favorite KOA: they had miniature golf, swimming, basketball, playground – nice place and were reasonable priced.

Day 4 Tuesday - August 12
Leave Kansas City 9am
Drive to Louisville, KY 484 miles ~ 7.33 hours
Arrive 6pm
We met up with a friend for dinner, so we didn’t stay long at campground.

This KOA was not as nice, but very accommodating. No activities for kids. They have an arrangement with nearby hotel for swimming which we took advantage of. Just one night was fine. Easy to find right off hwy.

Louisville Metro KOA
900 Marriott Drive
Clarksville, IN 47129

Day 5 Wednesday - August 13

Leave Louisville 8am
Drive to Pohick Bay Park 593.24 miles ~ 9.5 hours
Arrive 6-7pm

We loved the drive from Louisville to Virginia. The Shenandoah Forrest/Appalachian Mountain Range is incredibly beautiful.

We loved this campground!!! It is more like a state camping ground with both tent & RV camping. We stayed here 5 nights. Price was good too! It was close to the Mt. Vernon and DC area.

Pohick Bay Regional Park and Golf Course
6501 Pohick Bay Drive, Lorton
Camp Center: 703-339-6104
Golf Course: 703-339-8585
Park Manager: Todd Benson

Day 6 Thursday - August 14

Mt. Vernon – Kids loved this!!!!! Take as many tours as you can. Plan an entire day here.

3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway,
Mount Vernon, Virginia 22121
Hours 9am-5pm

Day 7 Friday - August 15

Our son is a Marine and was graduating from Officer Candidate School in Quantico, VA. So we visited this museum just outside the base in Quantico, VA. It is probably my favorite war history museum. It has the Iwo Jima flag there, which was a highlight for me.

About 30-45min south of Pohick Park.
USMC Museum
18900 Jefferson Davis Hwy.
Triangle, VA 22172

From I-95 heading north, take Exit 150 (Jefferson Davis Highway); turn right (south) onto Route 1; travel approximately ¼ mile; the Museum's entrance is on the right.

Day 8 Saturday - August 16
Washington DC – This was a very aggressive schedule
- Library of Congress
- US Capital Bldg Tour (be there 15-20min early)- schedule in advance with US Rep office – easy to do online.
- National Archives Museum 10am-5:30pm
Constitution Ave. NW, Between 7th & 9th St Washington, DC 2040
- Smithsonian Air & Space, American History 10am-7:30
A few notes on DC – The metro is so easy to use!!! Drive to a park & ride and take the metro into DC. It is worth it. If you want to park, allow a lot of time to do it and bring money for meters. On this day we drove (not too bad on weekends), but we wished we would have used the metro.

Day 9 Sunday - August 17
Washington DC – We did Arlington first. Be sure to go to the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. War & President memorials close at dark so it is fun to do those later afternoon/early evening.

Because of young children, we decided not to do the Holocaust Museum. I have been there previously and it is difficult (a lot of emotions) but done beautifully.

- White house visitors center (no tour available the days we were there, so we just saw it through the outside visitors center)
- American History Museum (allow a lot of time)
- War Memorials
- President Memorials
- Arlington National Cemetery – Iwo Jima Memorial (1 ½ mile from Arlington)

Metro right at Arlington. Pay to park there and do DC – be back by 6:45pm to get car.
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington, VA 22211
7 Days a week: 365 days
8am - 7pm (April - September)
8am - 5pm (October - March)
Parking garage closes 1 hour after cemetery
Phone: 877-907-8585

Day 10 Monday - August 18

Leave Pohick Campground 9am

We parked our trailer at Arlington and took the metro to the Zoo. There is no parking at zoo. Even with the metro there is a short walk to zoo. We passed a food mart and bought treats for the walk.

National Zoo
3001 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008
You could have easily spent more time here – but we were under a tight time schedule.

Drive to Baltimore, MD/Ft. McHenry 41.67 miles / 52 minutes
Fort McHenry
2pm-5pm (9am-6pm)
We loved Fort McHenry!!! A quick stop but very powerful. Kids loved this stop!
Drive to Philadelphia (Clarksboro, NJ) 92.72miles / 1.31hr

We enjoyed our stay at Timberlane. Nice campground. Has a swimming pool and other simple amenities.

Day 11 Tuesday - August 19

Philadelphia 9am-5pm – go online for information about visiting Philly to find out schedules & activities. Plan on a full day in Philly!

These are some of the things we saw:
  • Visitors Center (where you get tickets for Independent Square tour)
  • Liberty Bell museum
  • Independence Square
  • Graff House
  • Ben Franklin house/museum
  • Printing Press, Old post office (we sent ourselves a postcard) 
  • Sony’s Philly Cheese Steaks (a Philly tradition that we had to do)
  • US Mint (we went late in day and nothing was happening there so go earlier)
  • New Hall Military Museum
  • Carpenters Hall
  • Cemetery where Ben Franklin and other notables buried.
Day 12 Wednesday - August 20

Leave Philadelphia 8am

Drive to Valley Forge – we didn’t give ourselves nearly enough time here. You can bike or drive it. We drove but felt rushed going to different sites. So beautiful!

Drive to New Jersey

Stayed across the bay from Manhattan at Liberty Harbor RV. This was not the nicest of places – like a parking lot for RV’s with a Marina. But it was close and we were not going to spend a lot of time here anyway. Not easy getting RV through traffic though! etc.

Liberty Harbor RV
From the South
Take the Garden State Parkway to exit 129. Follow signs for I-95/NJ Turnpike North. Merge onto I-78 East via Exit 14 towards Jersey City/Columbus Drive. After paying the toll stay drive straight until you come to the first stoplight. After the first stoplight begin to merge to the farthest right lane. At the last stop light, make a right onto Marin Blvd. Follow this road until it ends; the office is on the right.
- See more at:

After we got settled for the evening we headed to Carlos Bakery (from Cake Boss show). It wasn’t very busy compared to daytime hours. It was fun, but dessert was just ok. It was purely an ambiance stop.

Day 13 Thursday - August 21

New York

​Ellis Island – Statue of Liberty 8:30am (go early!) A lot less crowded then. You can ferry close to RV park over to where you buy tickets for Ellis Island & Statue of Liberty and to take the ferry over. We were there until noon – could have been a little longer.

Ferried to Manhattan (part of the fee already paid), ate at food carts =), and walked to 9/11 Memorial – very moving.

Took Subway to Times Square (that was crazy trying to maneuver that with 10 people – not fun!)

It was easy to take the subway back over to NJ and we had to walk approx. ¾ mile back to RV park.

Wish we had another day to spend in NY

Day 14 Friday - August 22

Leave New Jersey 11am
Drive to Palmyra, NY 314 miles 5hours
Stayed at Canadaigua KOA south of Palmyra – a lot of activities for kids, but a lot of them had additional cost so we swam and played on their jump pillow. A lot of mosquitoes.

Canadaigua KOA
5374 Farmington Town Line Road
Farmington, NY 14425
Reserve: 800-562-0533
Info: 585-398-3582

Day 15 Saturday - August 23

Palmyra – we drove trailer into Palmyra and had no problem with parking (but it was the off season also). If pageant was going on we would have stayed an extra evening and left in the morning.

  • Temple baptisms 8am (make appointment in advance)
  • Visitors Center/Smith Home/ Sacred Grove
  • Hill Cumorah –the pageant was over =(
  • Peter Whitmer home and Visitors Center
Drive to Niagara Falls 109.5 miles 2 ½ hours – fun, quick stop! Refreshing!

Drive to Kirtland, OH (4 hours)

Pulled in late to a Walmart parking lot near Kirtland and slept there.

Day 16 Sunday - August 24

Kirtland, OH – we drove into Kirtland with the trailer. There was plenty of parking available
Went to Sacrament meeting at local ward (very close to visitor center)
  • Whitney Store and surrounding area tour – we all enjoyed this!
  • Kirtland Temple (small fee – I think $3 per person)
Leave Kirtland drive to Troy, OH to visit some friends (broke up drive to Nauvoo)

Day 17 Monday - August 25

Leave Troy, OH
Drive to Nauvoo, IL - 8hrs

Stayed at Camp Nauvoo – very nice people running it. Simple accommodations, but we were hardly there. Playground. They were good about when we could leave the next day so we didn’t have to drag trailer around.

  • Trail of Hope
  • Nauvoo – 8am Temple session 
- Start your time in Nauvoo at Visitors Center. You will get maps, and - - suggestions as to how to navigate Nauvoo while you are there.

  • Carthage Jail
  • Rendezvous in Nauvoo play – FUN!!!
Day 19 Wednesday - August 27


We left Nauvoo that afternoon and drove several hours. Pulled over at truck stop or rest area to sleep for the night

The rest of the trip was getting back home with stops to see family & friends along the way we did not get to see Independence, Liberty Jail, Adam-on-diamon , etc. which would have been great. It was a very aggressive schedule, but we saw some amazing places and did some amazing things! We could have been gone another 20 days easily!
A few notes:
- food: The trailer had a kitchen with small refrigerator and freezer we traveled with a menu, crockpot and cooler for van (to carry day meals/snacks with us). We would restock as needed. We also carried snacks with us everywhere, especially on our long days. We rarely ate out.

- We did a lot of evening driving so we could maximize our daily activities.
- If you want to do temple baptisms or endowment sessions call in advance

- I called most of the RV places we stayed instead of online reservations.

- Our teenage daughter made a fun travel book with pages for each state, road games activities and a travel journal. We bound these and each child had their own. It was so great!

Best wishes on your travels,

A. E. Family

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