Our USA Road Trip | New York City, Philadelphia, Washington DC, New York State

personal | travel

Stu and I have done a USA road trip before – our honeymoon was spent driving around New England for two weeks with a fly/drive we’d booked through Virgin. Now, while we loved that trip and rave about it even now, almost 4 years later, we both knew that if we were going to do the road trip thing again, we would probably do it a little differently this time. The idea came about as it usually does with us and holidays… we tapped about on the internet for a bit and chatted about all the places we wanted to go (it’s a bloody long list!). Stu suggested New York first since it had been 10 years since we’d first gone there together about a month after we’d first started seeing each other. Now, I never say no to New York City, after London it’s probably my favourite place and I was desperate to get back there with a better talent for taking photos than the last time I’d been (even if I say so myself!).

And so a plan started to form. Stu had always wanted to go to Philadelphia, we both wanted to see Washington DC and then, inspired by a trip my parents had taken previously, I suggested by finishing off the trip with a cabin in the mountains. We took a look at the various travel websites for pre-planned trips but, not really finding what we were after, we then took the decision to plan it all ourselves and just book and pay for it bit by bit. We used a combination of hotels (in NYC and Philly) and Airbnbs (DC and our mountain cabin), booked the flights and a hire car and then spent a few months furiously saving spending money and, in October, we were off!

This trip was, by far, more relaxed and pleasurable than our honeymoon fly/drive because we had chosen to spend a good number of days in each place, giving us plenty of time to explore and chill out. We were lucky with the weather for pretty much the entire trip, other than one very wet and windy day in Philadelphia but that was made immeasurably more fun when I went and bought a new iPad! Wee! The autumn colours were spectacular, the scenery just as grand and vast as I had remembered it (yep Stu, the skies were still bigger and higher!) and the cities just as lovely as we remembered and imagined they would be. But enough chat, time to share some of the photographs!

New York City

skyscraper view from New York city hotel room

Yellow taxis driving across a cross roads in New York City

Person walking past on the Highline New York City

Sunlight reflecting onto a red brick building

World Trade Center Memorial

People looking out from the top of One World Conservatory NYC

Yellow taxis driving past St Patricks Church NYC

Grand Central Station NYC

The lights of Times Square NYC

Motion of people walking through Times Square NYC

Highlights of New York City included The High Line – a beautiful green walkway following a disused railway line up above the streets of the city. We walked end to end and saw so many parts of the city we have never seen before stopping for some Pumpkin ice cream. Mmmm. The experience going up the new One World Observatory at the World Trade Center site. The last time I had visited there in January of 2006, it was still just a hole in the ground so it was amazing to see what they had done with the area and the experience arriving at the top, introducing you to the view over the city was so moving. I may have shed a few tears. Also meeting up with some friends of Stu’s – Sandy and Mike! They took us to this awesome barbecue place way uptown and the food was amazing! I’d forgotten how exhausting the city is, though, and how hard it is on the feet. But I still love being there. 🙂


Man feeds nut to a squirrel

Liberty Bell Philadelphia

Rocky Steps in Philadelphia

Old street in Philadelphia

Cat sitting on stoop by a red door

Looking out of a metal framed window overlooking Philadelphia

Highlights: Our first ever visit to an IHOP, the super friendly squirrels at Washington Square, Lobster Rolls (oh how we’d missed them), NOT running up the Rocky Steps but loving watching all the people who did, with the music playing or being hummed at the same time! The pancakes at Sabrina’s Cafe, which were well worth the wait in the rain to taste them. Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest street in Philadelphia where we also found a great little street fair going on just a few roads away. I know we barely scratched the surface of Philadelphia and I wouldn’t mind visiting again. I might even have enough room to try to fit in a Philadelphia Cheesesteak next time!

Washington D.C.

The Gettysburg Address

Tourists all standing in front of The White House taking photographs

A train pulling into an underground station in Washington D.C.

The Capitol Building Washingdon D.C.

Washington Monument with a plane flying behind it

Golden sunlight shining on Washington monument

Sunset over the Lincoln Memorial Washington D.C.

Night shot of Washington Monument from the end of the reflecting pool

The Lincoln Memorial lit up at night

Close up of Abraham Lincoln statue at Lincoln Memorial

Arlington Cemetery

Green lizard on branch at Smithsonian Zoo

Otter underwater at Smithsonian Zoo

Highlights: Oh so many things! I bloody loved Washington and would go there again in a heartbeat. We stayed at a lovely little Airbnb a little way outside of the centre of the city, just across from the Smithsonian Zoo. There are a lot of hills in DC – bear that in mind if you’re ever planning a visit. But the transport links are good and we found it fairly easy to navigate. We did the Spy in the city Tour which was silly but fun and takes you for a wander around some of the streets of DC (while you look for criminals, of course!). I got very excited about seeing The White House, it looks just like it does on the telly (although smaller than I imagined)! Stu loved the fact that we saw Marine One fly in just as we got off the bus on the first day. He now tells everyone he’s seen the President (Obama – I wouldn’t brag about Trump!). We did a really fantastic walk from Capitol Hill right down to the Lincoln Memorial, stopping at the Washington Monument on the way down. The sun was setting just as we headed down to the Lincoln Memorial and it was breathtakingly good to watch. Definitely a fantastic memory for me. I also love a cemetery and Arlington National Cemetery did not disappoint. Glorious views although you need lots of time to wander around the place – it’s ginormous! On our last day, we headed over the road to the zoo and saw lots of lovely animals. We also saw our first ever Amish family which was intriguing to me as I don’t know much about the Amish culture. Again, we barely scratched the surface of this city. It’s one I would definitely visit again.

New York State (Naples, NY)

Man chops wood outside cabin

Close up of wood being chopped with axe

Niagara Falls

Blur of car speeding past with beautiful cloudy sky

Night sky

Autumn leaf colours

View from forest floor

Man throws leaves up in the air

Highlights: Our first day at the cabin I had the most rotten cold. After finding a drug store (not so difficult!) and dosing up on meds, I spent the day curled up on the sofa while Stu kept the fire stoked. After a day of rest, I was ready to get back on it. We were staying in a spot about 2 hours drive from Niagara so it seemed silly not to take the opportunity to head on over there for the day and see the waterfalls. Niagara USA is a weird place. Niagara Canada… probably even weirder. Strange sensation walking from one country into another but the views from the bridge were pretty spectacular. I absolutely loved seeing the waterfalls, it’s a place that’s been on my list for a number of years so I’m glad I get to finally tick that one-off. I know it’s probably not the most impressive set of waterfalls in the world but, hey, it was worth a viewing. I managed to talk Stu into taking the boat trip into the falls – got absolutely soaked, couldn’t see a thing and loved every second of it 🙂 I wasn’t brave enough for the zip wire though. For the rest of our trip, we just enjoyed exploring the area, soaking in the beautiful display of autumn colours in that part of the world, enjoying the stillness and absolute quiet of the cabin and exclaiming over the incredible night skies we saw. A thoroughly relaxing end to a brilliant trip.