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Road trip across America: East Coast to West Coast

Updated on August 14, 2013

A Trip across America: East Coast to West Coast - Post Cards to Mom

Have you ever thought about all the places that you could visit on a Road Trip across America: East Coast to West Coast? There are so many fantastic places to visit that it would seem almost impossible to plan a cohesive trip that could be done in less than two weeks.

Well I have and I therefore spent time researching possible places to visit and came up with a trip that takes you right from historic Princeton NJ, to the luxurious resort of Hotel del Coronado. Along the way you’ll have some fun, learn some history and be amazed by the power of nature.

The map below details the trip and the major points of interest along the way; below that you will find a detailed discussion of all these major points and ultimately a table showing you the total travelling time and associated costs with a trip of this magnitude.

I hope you manage to at least start this wonderful journey!

Princeton NJ:
Princeton, NJ, USA

get directions

Hershey Park:
Hershey Park, 100 Hersheypark Dr, Hershey, PA 17033, USA

get directions

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, 1100 Rock and Roll Blvd, Cleveland, OH 44114, USA

get directions

Bluespring Caberns Park IN:
Bluespring Caverns Park, 1459 Blue Spring Caverns Rd, Bedford, IN 47421-8207, USA

get directions

The Gateway Arch St Louis:
Arch, 119 N Leonor K Sullivan Blvd, St Louis, MO 63102, USA

get directions

Shawnee Indian Mission:
Shawnee Indian Mission, 3403 W 53rd St, Fairway, KS 66205-2654, USA

get directions

Echo Mountain CO:
Echo Mountain, Bayfield, CO 81122, USA

get directions

Grand Canyon:
Grand Canyon National Park, Village Loop Rd, Grand Canyon,, AZ 86023, USA

get directions

Las Vegas:
Las Vegas, NV, USA

get directions

Hotel Del Coronado:
Orange Av & R H Dana Pl (Hotel Del Coronado), Coronado, CA 92118, USA

get directions

Princeton NJ

Princeton is a college town located in Mercer County, New Jersey. Princeton University was established in 1759 and is one of the most prestigious Ivy League colleges in the country.

Princeton is a culturally strong town with many museums, theaters, gardens and a high class shopping center that features a cornucopia of unique and interesting shops. The University itself is steeped in history with many of America’s past leaders being alumni, including James Madison, Elena Kagan and Bill Bradley. The University is picturesque, and full of ‘college’ life, and is well worth a visit. Perhaps you might see John Nash the Nobel Laureate and subject of the film “A Beautiful Mind”.

If you plan your trip for March, you could attend the Princeton Pi Day & Einstein Birthday Party which is a town wide celebration of Albert Einstein; be prepared for some zaniness though!

Summer is a great time to visit Princeton as an annual Princeton Festival is held that features performance art, theater, music, jazz and many other musical events; it’s a great family festival. Finally, finish of your day with a visit to Nassau Street which is the most vibrant thoroughfare in Princeton and is full of high-end stores like Ralph Lauren, and has some great restaurants like the PJ Pancake House, Triumph Brewery and the Blue Point Grill.

After a busy day there’s no better place to stay than the Doubletree Hotel in Princeton; it’s a luxurious way to end the day.

Hershey Park

Hershey Park is a fantastic amusement park located in Hershey, PA and is near the world famous Hershey Chocolate factory. Opened in 1907, it was initially simply a park for the employees of the Hershey Chocolate Company, but eventually was opened up to the general public.

With over 60 rides and dozens of amenities ranging from burger joints, to chines restaurants, Hershey Park is a great place for a family day out.

Hershey Park is divided into several areas:

Tudor Square – this is a free area outside the main park with several shops and a full service restaurant.

Rhineland – as you enter the park, you are presented with a Bavarian themed area. There are no rides in this area but are many gift shops and restaurants.

Founder’s Circle – features a couple of older rides (Starship America and Balloon Flite). This area houses the center piece of the park, the iconic Carrousel. There are several amenities in this area.

Comet Hollow – this area features the oldest coaster in the park along with a few other rides. The Comet, Wave Swinger, Tilt-A-Whirl are among the rides, and there is a great games area for the kids.

Music Box – this musically themed area features a wide range of musical entertainment including a fully enclosed theater and several stages that feature many popular artists. There are several rides in this area including a great Pirate Ship ride.

Mine Town – just as the area name suggests, this area looks like a mining town. This area features many of the classic Hershey Park rides such as the log flume, an inverted roller coaster and a kissing tower. The restaurants and amenities are all ‘mine’ inspired.

Pioneer Frontier – this southwestern themed area is huge and has many of the most thrilling rides including Storm Runner, Trail Blazer and The Howler. It has a large food court with a variety of restaurants.

The Boardwalk – this is a relatively new area of the park and has water based rides ranging from a waterway ride, to a wave pool.

Midway America – this area features three roller coasters, a Ferris Wheel and many children’s ride. The food stands are all carnival related.

Once you’ve exhausted yourself in the theme park you can relax in luxury at the amazing Hotel Hershey which combines elegance and recreation to help you end the day perfectly.

Which of the bands below most deserve to be inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame:

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Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum seeks to educate the world about the history and influence of rock music throughout the ages. Every year qualified artists are inducted into the Hall of Fame in a gala event and join illustrious inductees like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and many more.

The Museum that features varied memorabilia from all forms of rock music was established in 1995 and continues to be an amazing glimpse into the world of rock music for fans from all around the world. The museum features interactive displays, videos and live bands, has a decent store and also a café.

The museum is located in downtown Cleveland and is at the center of a very diverse and culturally varied area. There are several world class restaurants and some amazing hotels including the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel which adds a touch of class after a cultural day out.

The rock hall hosts many events ranging from concerts to very informative lectures. As the saying goes, Cleveland Rocks!

Bluespring Caverns Park IN


The wonders of a boat tour on the Myst’ry River through the natural caverns is very hard to describe and simply must be experienced; as you contemplate the majesty of nature as you explore the Bluespring Caverns you feel very humble.

Over time the caverns have developed into an intricate maze of underground streams with vaulted natural ceilings; the natural beauty is incredible.

As the tour guides pilot the boats through the subterranean rivers, you will experience rare fish in their natural settings, and see some of the amazing forces that are still changing and creating huge underground caverns. You’ll learn about George Colgazier, whose farm disappeared to reveal the current main entrance and allowed explorers to begin to delve into the depths of the caverns.

Be warned though, the temperature in the cavern dips to 52 degrees, so you should wear a light jacket – also check the weather before you visit – the tours can be cancelled if there is heavy rain!

Busch Stadium Panorama
Busch Stadium Panorama | Source

The Gateway Arch & St. Louis

St. Louis is most famous for its stunning Gateway Arch which at 630 ft. high is the tallest man made monument in the US; you can even get a tram ride to the top of the monument! The city sky line is one of the most stunning especially when viewed ‘through’ the Gateway and it provides one of the most amazing landscapes in the world.

The city itself is a vibrant and colorful city that has many amazing attractions, hotels and restaurants:

Busch Stadium – not only is this the home of the Cardinals, but it has some amazing views of the famous skyline.

Zoo – with over 810 species this simply is one of the top zoos in the country, and it’s free to enter too.

Art Museum – this was used as the Fine Arts Palace for the 1904 World’s fair and is a comprehensive art museum that represents every era of art.

Grant’s Farm – once owned by Ulysses S. Grant this estate is an amazing wildlife preserve and hosts animal shows.

Anheuser-Busch Brewery – this is the home of the world largest brewer and house the famous Budeweise Clydesdale stables. It’s an amazing insight into the world of brewing.

There are many more great attractions you can visit in St. Louis included several Gardens, many more museums and a huge selection of top class shops. There are several world class restaurants and many great hotels to stay at including the incredible Ritz Carlton.

You’ll be exhausted after a day in St. Louis and should plan to come back for a longer visit!

Shawnee Indian Mission

It’s humbling to realize that America was founded by colonist, and that part of the colonization process involved uprooting indigenous tribes of Indians and founding many missions. As white settlers moved west looking for more land, American Indians had their traditional way of life threatened and many Missions were setup as schools for boys and girls from the Indian Nations to attend.

The Shawnee Indians were moved to Kansas in the late 1820s and were given 1.6 million acres of land after relinquishing their heritage in the east. In 1830 Chief Fish requested a missionary and a society was formed later that yet. A Shawnee Methodist Mission was setup and later in 1939 a school was in operation.

The site, which feels almost like a barracks, is a natural museum that not only delves into a sordid past that we often forget about, but also shows the pride of the American Indians and their ability to hold together their traditions despite the adverse conditions they were forced to endure.

A day at the Mission is a humbling and yet exhilarating experience and one that you will never forget.

Echo Mountain

Echo Mountain is not only a stunning kaleidoscope of beauty and nature at their best, it’s also a top skiing resort that caters for all skills levels and ages. Whether you want to ski or snowboard, or simply enjoy the mountain air, there’s something for everyone.

With a rental shop that has skis, snowboards and helmets you don’t even have to own any equipment to enjoy the wonders of the slopes, and the hospitality a top ski resort can offer.

With plenty of professional instructors even the absolute beginner will be skiing down some of the more gentle slopes on this forgiving mountain. The staff are very professional and knowledgeable and always will be there to help you and your family and en sure your day on the slopes is an enjoyable one.

With a no thrills café and bar you’ll be able to re-energize and recoup between runs and perhaps meet a few new friends.

Be prepared for a no holds barred, fun packed exhilarating ride on the slopes – leave the stress of the office far behind and feel that mountain air fill your lungs and refresh you! After a hard day skiing, relax in one of the local hotels that cater for all sportsmen and women and often have special resort packages available!

Have fun but be careful, you still have two days to go on this road trip!

Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon National Park contains the amazing Grand Canyon that was carved by the Colorado River. At 277 miles long and 18 miles wide (in places) it has a depth of up to a mile in some places. The canyon is an amazing look into the past with up to 2 billion years of geological history showing.

The canyon was settled by Native Americans, and has been considered a holy place by the Pueblo people. The canyon is the site of general sightseeing, but is popular for rafting, hiking running and helicopter tours.

Many people camp in the established camp grounds on the north and south rims and enjoy time exploring the natural monument.

The most popular vantage point to view the canyon is Guano Point which is on the west rim of the canyon. East of the Grand Canyon Village is another popular viewing point.

The best way to view the Grand Canyon is on one of the many helicopter tours that give you a great aerial view and really demonstrate the size and scope of this amazing natural edifice.

The Grand Canyon Village, located on the south rim of the Grand Canyon is a historic village dating back to the early 1900s with many of the original structures still in use today. Its main focus is that of accommodating the tourism trade and the tourist that visit the Grand Canyon.

The Grand Canyon is a stunning reminder of the power of nature and is truly an awesome sight to behold.

Las Vegas

The Las Vegas Strip is perhaps the most notorious 4.2 mile pieces of real estate in the world. It house many of the world’s largest hotels and casinos, and is known for its indulgence and ‘sin’. It has one of the most amazing city-scapes in the world as each casino tries to out-do its completion with their extravagance and size. Casinos range from pyramids to exotic resorts.

Las Vegas is famous for its Casinos, but also hosts some of the biggest stars as they provide opulent entertainment for their paying guests. No expense is spared to bring the best entertainers and restaurateurs to Vegas to ensure that the high rollers keep on pouring into the city.

There’s no doubt that Las Vegas is one of the most dramatic places in the world to visit, and even if you don’t want to gamble, the shows and the food combined with the high class stores, restaurants and hotels make this a city that can appeal to most. The Strip has moved away from its mobster's origins and become a vibrant center for fun, entertainment and often excess!

With amazing venues like the Venetian, Las Vegas is the gambling capital of the world.

Hotel Del Coronado

The Hotel del Coronado is a beachfront hotel in Coronado, just across from San Diego. USA Today rank it as one of the top 10 resorts of the world, and not many would argue with that. The Hotel is a luxurious indulgence; it features World Class restaurants, amazing rooms and suites and a view of the beach and Ocean that is simply perfect. It is built in the classic Victorian beach resort style and is designated a National Historic Landmark.

Opened in 1888, it was the first hotel to use electric lighting; it has hosted royalty and Hollywood with visits by Prince Edward and Wallis Simpson being among the most famous.

The film was featured as the backdrop for the movie The Flying Feet but has become most famous for being featured in Some Like it Hot featuring Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis – Marilyn Munroe apparently haunts the hotel!

 The hotel is truly a step back in time to the days where opulence and wealth were important; with the luxury afforded by this hotel, those with power felt right at home. Today, it is more family oriented, but the feel of luxury, power and intrigue somehow remains within this amazing resort’s walls!

With San Diego close by, and San Franscisco a few miles away, this is the perfect retreat to relax and recover from the world.



 So there you have it, a trip across America from the East Coast to the West Coast in ten days. Over that time you've done a lot of driving, and spent a lot of money, but the memories you have and some of the sights you have seen will give you a lifetime of memories and are simply priceless.

The table below gives some information relating to driving times, distances and general daily costs - these can vary depending on the quality of hotels etc. I also have not estimated the cost of driving:

Hotel, Food & Other Costs
Drive Time
Hershey Park
2.5 hrs
Rock And Roll Hall of Fame
6 hrs
Bluespring Caverns Park
6.5 hrs
The Gateway Arch, St Louis
4.5 hrs
Shawnee Indian Mission
4.5 hrs
Echo Mountain
10 hrs
Grand Canyon
11 hrs
Las Vegas
4.5 hrs
Hotel Del Coronado
5.5 hrs
55 hrs

This article is part of a series in which HubPages community members share insider tips about their hometowns and surrounding area; here's another great article in the series:


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