My friend and I (both 21) are planning to visit Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C and then Orlando and Miami.
Firstly, we were wondering if we should go from D.C straight to Florida or if there's anything in between that we should definitely see? We want to have a plan, but not too detailed in case we get sidetracked by some places we really like.
2. Are the Amtrak trains a good service to travel between cities? I have looked on their website and the 'Acela express' seems to be a viable option.
3. We are planning to take about a month to do all this. Do you think this will be enough and how long do you think we should stay in each place to see enough of it? And is there anywhere we should avoid/dangerous places?
4. When we are in the different cities, what is the best way to get around? Walking? Train? I'm presuming taxis will be expensive...
5. We were originally going to drive it, but I think it might be easier and quicker to get the trains. True?
6. Is there anywhere you could recommend that we have to visit that aren't immediately obvious?
I think that's everything, any help would be greatly appreciated!
bus it instead. Trains are way way WAY too expensive. Initially driving is good but after you factor in bridge tolls and parking fees it adds up quickly. $11 here $25 there $20 here... it's ridiculous.
you can find cheap buses between the cities on the east coast online, look up ny-philly chinatown buses or megabus I think bolt bus is another there are a few. Greyhound can be cheap too.
when you are in the cities take the subway or buses or taxis
avoid west philly
as for places in between dc and miami...hmmm idunno. are you going in the summer...you could go to the myrtle beach area or the outerbanks in the carolinas. they are supposed to be nice beaches. but if you're going to miami I say just save your time for there.
If you can afford it and have a little time--like at least 7 to 10 days, then see the route I give in my post on (2 months in America). Driving gives you the advantage of seeing lots of nature spots as well as just the large cities--but this won't work if you can't afford the car or don't have the time.
P.S. If you can, take a day or two to drive back from Miami up to Boston (or wherever you first picked up your car). This will prevent you having to pay a gigantic "dropoff charge". In fact, starting at a place like Washington, D. C. or New York and then going north to Boston, then down to Florida, and then back to where you started (Washington or New York) can save you a ton of money if you decide to get a car.
As mentioned previously, taking bus service between the cities in the Northeast is probably the most affordable and least stressful way to make the city-to-city connections. However, I'd caution against doing that for long-range travel (to Orlando or Miami from anywhere in the NE), as most US bus services are not very comfortable.
I'd recommend looking into cheap flights from your cities in the NE to Orlando - Southwest Airlines flies from Baltimore (a 1 hour bus ride from Washington DC) to Orlando and to Fort Lauderdale (just outside Miami, easy access via public transit) - you'll save a ton of time and can pay as little as $54 if you buy that ticket in advance. And the good thing about Southwest is that if your plans change, you can change your ticket and re-use the $54 (granted, the new ticket will probably be much more expensive, but at least you don't lose any money on BS "fees"). On Amtrak for the same trip (which takes 20 hours or so), you can sit in a regular seat for about $100 each, or share a sleeping compartment for an additional $200 each - considering you should easily be able to find airfare for less than $300, the choice should be pretty easy.
As far as getting around within the cities, I'm not sure if Orlando has an effective public transit system, so you might want to verify that and consider budgeting for a car if you're headed anywhere far afield. If you're just going for Disneyland I'm sure it won't be a problem!
For other places to visit, I'd second the Outer Banks of NC if you do the drive. If you're making this trip in the summer months (June - August), you might want to check out a beach town in the north (Dewey Beach in Deleware would be good for two 21 year olds - I can't hang there anymore its just too raging for me) before you hit Miami, as they are quite different scenes!
[ Edit: Edited on 11-Mar-2009, at 16:04 by PsptJunkie ]