Going around the whole country - where would YOU go?

Discussion in 'Cool Places to Fly' started by RIlls, Aug 5, 2022.

  1. RIlls

    RIlls Filing Flight Plan

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2011
    Messages:
    18

    Display name:
    RIlls
    Hi all,

    Starting in early September, I am going to spend 6 weeks or so just flying myself around the whole country in my Archer. I am recently retired and an empty nester, so I have no particular place I have to be or particular time to be there. I prefer VFR, but can fly IFR as needed. Hotels some nights, sleeping bags others, sometimes the crew room or couch in the FBO. I did a similar trip 25 years ago and had a blast.

    So my question is- where would YOU go in the area you are most familiar with? There are lots of pilots on this forum from lots of different areas of the country - most of whom are not shy about sharing their opinions. :)

    I am starting and returning from Northern California. I have flown alot in the western 1/3 of the county already (and it will be easier to go back to those spots later) so I am mainly interested in ideas east of the Rockies. Could be something great at or near an airport, or within an hour drive. Any insight of the recommended airports - ground transport etc. I love hiking, small towns and just finding bits of America that I don't know much about. I can figure out routing etc - but would love good ideas for the stops. I know everyone has different interests and mine might diverge from yours - but I appreciate any and all input you might have.

    My loose trip idea:

    Start with a long day across the western states (basically following I-80), then
    Boulder Colorado and Rocky Mnt National Park
    Rapid City SD and environs, or?.
    Pella IA
    Door County Wisconsin or?
    Mackinac Island (will be my 4th trip! love it)
    Michigan- Traverse City, or?
    Columbus Ohio (daughter transferring to Ohio State)
    Cleveland (Rock N. Roll hall of fame?)
    Somewhere upstate New York- open to suggestions.
    Martha's Vineyard (maybe Katama)
    Hudson River corridor
    Tangier Island VA
    Okracoke Island NC
    Charleston
    St. Simon or Jekyll
    St. Augustine FL
    New Orleans
    Fredericksburg TX
    Santa Fe NM
    Monument Valley UT
    Canyonlands UT

    Thanks for any input.
     
    FORANE likes this.
  2. Jim K

    Jim K En-Route

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2019
    Messages:
    3,272
    Location:
    CMI

    Display name:
    Insert cool name here
    I would add the usaf museum in Dayton, oh, and first flight airport, KFFA. Otherwise looks like an epic trip!
     
    benyflyguy likes this.
  3. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2013
    Messages:
    16,178
    Location:
    Oakland, CA

    Display name:
    Bro do you even lift
    yeah, do what's on your list! I also want to check out the RnR HoF, but mostly for the approach into that airport.
     
  4. FORANE

    FORANE En-Route

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    2,995
    Location:
    TN

    Display name:
    FORANE
    Avl to gkt and drive the beautiful brp between those points.
     
  5. kaiser

    kaiser Line Up and Wait

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2019
    Messages:
    973
    Location:
    Chicagoland

    Display name:
    The pilot formerly known as Cool Beard Guy
    Alternative to Door County could be Wisconsins Superior Shore - includes Apostle Islands (4R5)

    Near but not Traverse City could be Charlevoix (KCVX) or Harbor Springs (KMGN).

    On your way to Ohio, hit Put-in-Bay (3W2)

    And I second FFA / Outer Banks NC.
     
  6. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2015
    Messages:
    4,711
    Location:
    KLAF

    Display name:
    455 Bravo Uniform
    If near Rapid City, SD check out Badlands. Rushmore & Devil’s Tower if not too much time/too far beforehand, depending on route.

    Sioux Falls, SD falls park.

    Chicago skyline.

    Put-In-Bay or Kelly’s Island, Ohio

    KBKL and downtown Cleveland and R&R Hall of Fame

    Indy 500 museum.
     
    Jim K likes this.
  7. Llewtrah381

    Llewtrah381 Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2010
    Messages:
    573

    Display name:
    Llewtrah
    Agree with USAF Museum - budget at least two days for that.

    Rapid City is good too. Rushmore from the air was underwhelming but seeing the Badlands is impressive. Also worth passing over the Homestake mine near Lead. From the ground, Rushmore is better.

    When in Fredericksburg, go see the Nimitz museum. One of the best history museums I’ve ever been to. It’s not just “stuff” - they do a great job telling a story.

    Also in Fredericksburg consider hitting a few wineries but be warned: although popular, IMHO TX wines are generally not that great. Ask around about which ones to try.

    Kansas City is good: the WWI museum is well-done but the Arabia steamship museum is a hidden, fascinating gem.

    Soooo much to see in this great country!!
     
    RyanShort1 likes this.
  8. Kitch

    Kitch Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2018
    Messages:
    146
    Location:
    SE Mass

    Display name:
    Kitch
    Flying up the coast of Maine is pretty amazing. RKD has owl’s head transportation museum which is supposed to be pretty good, and you can grab a lobstah roll.

    Sounds like an epic trip for sure.
     
  9. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2008
    Messages:
    14,904
    Location:
    mass fla

    Display name:
    ron keating
    Good looking trip,enjoy.
     
  10. Jim K

    Jim K En-Route

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2019
    Messages:
    3,272
    Location:
    CMI

    Display name:
    Insert cool name here
    Yeah the Chicago skyline is definitely worth doing!

    It's a bit out of your way, but a low approach to the Shuttle Landing Facility at Cape Canaveral is worth the trip also. The VAB is one of the few thing's I've seen that looks as impressive from the air as the ground.

    Definitely keep us up to date!
     
    Winger67 and jsstevens like this.
  11. Kritchlow

    Kritchlow Final Approach

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2014
    Messages:
    7,177

    Display name:
    Kritchlow
    Rushmore, Keys, Jackson Hole, Groom Lake….
     
  12. Walboy

    Walboy Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2014
    Messages:
    199

    Display name:
    Walboy
    I have never been there, but Eastport, ME KEPM is on my list.

    Fredericksburg, TX is a great stop. The Hangar Hotel is excellent, book reservation early as I doubt they can take walk ins.. The National Museum of the Pacific War is a must visit.
     
    RyanShort1 likes this.
  13. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2007
    Messages:
    11,568
    Location:
    Maryland

    Display name:
    Check_my_Six
    Gettysburg Pa and Williamsburg Va are great history stops....both have airports.
     
    RyanShort1 likes this.
  14. asicer

    asicer Final Approach

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2015
    Messages:
    8,001

    Display name:
    asicer
    Gaining entry into R-4808N is going to make for an entertaining story.


    upload_2022-8-5_18-43-37.png
     
    Kritchlow likes this.
  15. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2011
    Messages:
    4,053

    Display name:
    mondtster
    I grew up in Sioux Falls; I probably wouldn't bother stopping there just to see the park. But if a fuel or restroom stop is needed it might be worth the quick detour through there. I have fond memories of what the park was before it was made nice, but nobody who didn't live there would likely agree with that. The western end of the state has the most attractions and between your suggestions and the others made here already, I don't have much to add other than that the Custer state park has an airport, which might provide an interesting stop and possibly a place to camp.

    North Dakota has the International Peace Garden on the US/Canada border with an airport adjacent to the park.

    Northern Michigan has some beautiful scenery. North Fox Island might be a place to stop and camp.

    Niagara Falls is worth a look as well while in New York.
     
    455 Bravo Uniform likes this.
  16. murphey

    murphey Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2008
    Messages:
    10,860
    Location:
    Colorado

    Display name:
    murphey
    If you’re going thru Colorado, Leadville for the high altitude certificate. Frankly, Boulder’s not all that interesting other than going to RMNP. For flying in, use Jeffco - KBJC or Longmont KLMN or Erie KEIK. Easier access, more options for a rent car and hotels, instead of Boulder.
     
  17. benyflyguy

    benyflyguy En-Route PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2018
    Messages:
    3,446
    Location:
    NEPA

    Display name:
    benyflyguy
    Came here to add KFFA.
     
  18. RussR

    RussR En-Route

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,095
    Location:
    Oklahoma City, OK

    Display name:
    Russ
    @RIlls , it sounds like a great trip!

    Give us some idea of what type of things you like to do and visit on a trip like this, so we can better help you.

    Museums?
    Battlefields?
    Quirky tourist traps (like biggest ball of yarn or whatever)
    Nature?
    Scenery?
    Sports?
    Aviation?
    Hiking?
    Downtown areas?
    Nightlife?
    Etc.
     
  19. RIlls

    RIlls Filing Flight Plan

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2011
    Messages:
    18

    Display name:
    RIlls
    Thanks everyone for your suggestions. Good stuff !! I have been to a few of these places before but most are new.

    Last time I made the similar trip I had a ton of alternatives planned out (this was pre-internet, so I did my research at .... the public library. Ha!). Weather bad on my planned route to X? Well maybe I will just go to Y instead! Its all just a part of the adventure.

    My traveling companion and I both enjoy nature, scenery, hiking, cute small towns, good food, and discovering bits of America that we have never seen. Neither of us care about big cities or nightlight. She isn't partial to museums or battlefields or specific aviation stuff, but has stressed that this is my trip, so will oblige me on a few of each.

    Not sure about the biggest ball of yarn, but on the prior trip we did have to divert to Wall SD because of weather and spent endless hours in Wall Drug, so I think we paid our dues. :) But if you told me that my trip would not be complete unless I saw some goofball bit of Americana, and it was near an airport, who knows?
     
    Jim K likes this.
  20. Dave Anderson

    Dave Anderson Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2021
    Messages:
    336
    Location:
    Twice a month beside Biden's WH retreat.

    Display name:
    SkyDreams
    Cedar key was a fun stop in Florida.
     
    Jim Carpenter and jsstevens like this.
  21. Albany Tom

    Albany Tom Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2021
    Messages:
    1,976

    Display name:
    Albany Tom
    For Upstate NY/Vermont/NH, it's absolutely beautiful flying in the fall, for a couple of week period when the leaves change around. People travel from around the world to see that. Dates change a lot depending on climate. As far as location goes, Lake Placid is nice, Glens Falls/Lake George area has more accommodations/activities. Both are small towns. Lake Placid airport is little, and not sure about ground transport, but if you can get an uber, consider picking up a pie at the Noon Mark diner, in Keene Valley. Sounds crazy, but worth the 20 minute or so drive. It's also pretty in the winter after the snows, but watch the weather. It's cold, wet, and windy here.

    Flying the Hudson River corridor down to NYC is a good one on that list, not over hyped. There are a couple of threads on that on here.

    Maybe consider the New England Air Museum, I think that's at Bradley in CT. Haven't been there, but supposed to be nice.

    For locals I know, Block Island seems more popular than Martha's Vineyard. That could be because the people I know have shallower pockets, but it's supposed to be nice.

    If you have any interest in semi classical music, Tanglewood is in the Berkshires, I believe summertime. Summer home of the Boston Pops, more or less.

    Saratoga Springs, unless you like horse racing, is over hyped in my opinion. Fine little town, and lots of places to eat, but I'd rather visit Lake George.
     
  22. Pinecone

    Pinecone Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    May 24, 2022
    Messages:
    425

    Display name:
    Pinecone
    FFA is a definite MUST DO. Where it all started.

    USAF Museum in Dayton is amazing. As is the Naval Aviation Museum at Pensacola. Heck, you could make a trip of nothing but aviation museums - https://www.airplanes-online.com/list-of-air-museums-exhibits-airparks.htm
     
    Jim K likes this.
  23. Brad W

    Brad W Cleared for Takeoff

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2019
    Messages:
    1,179

    Display name:
    BLW2
    you mentioned Saint Simons or Jekyll. Two very different places but both interesting I think. Depending on how long you're thinking...I think I'd probably land and stay on Jekyll, stay at the old Club hotel pretending you're old money, and day trip around to Saint Simons for lunch or dinner.. Jekyll is a nicer quieter park-like sort of place to walk and explore, nice beaches, a great driftwood beach, etc.....although there is a hotel right at the airport on St Simons, probably great for a fast turn stay.

    I've lived in Williamsburg and St Augustine, both great tourist/history spots..very different

    A few years ago I did a road trip in an RV out to the Grand Canyon. Used a site roadtrippers.com. Obviously not aviation related but was an interesting tool for finding points of interest along the way. Might be useful to you. Although I will say some of our best stops were places we just "fell into". Planned to stop one night and ended up staying three sort of things.....

    Naval aviation museum in Pensacola is quite good, between your St Augustine and New Orleans stops.
     
    Half Fast and jsstevens like this.
  24. NorthEast Ohio

    NorthEast Ohio Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2020
    Messages:
    113

    Display name:
    NorthEast Ohio
    Plus 1 on Put-in-Bay Airport. Bicycle/golf cart rentals at the Terminal. Many attractions/restaurant/bars with live entertainment in the afternoons/evenings.
     
  25. Dana

    Dana En-Route

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2016
    Messages:
    2,950
    Location:
    CT & NY

    Display name:
    Dana
    In NY, Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome. Farther upstate in the Adirondacks, Marcy Field is right at a trailhead leading into the high peaks, and not far from the above mentioned Noonmark Diner.

    If you like funky little towns, Goodspeed Airport in CT, you can walk to the restaurant and Godspeed Opera House (musical theater) or borrow the airport's free loaner bikes to range further.
     
  26. Darwin60

    Darwin60 Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2018
    Messages:
    160
    Location:
    Boca Raton FL & Den Haag Netherlands

    Display name:
    Darwin60
    I will add my endorsement of flying over Niagara Falls. Stop at Griffiss Airforce Base for some cheap 100ll and continue to the Lake George area.
     
  27. Jim Carpenter

    Jim Carpenter Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2019
    Messages:
    477
    Location:
    Lander, WY

    Display name:
    Jim Carpenter
    Lots of great suggestions above.
    If you haven't already, you might do Furnace Creek, CA, and Leadville, CO just for giggles. (Though Death Valley just had major flooding, Furnace Creek may not be open).
    And, we haven't even mentioned BBQ stops yet. (Wait, how many years do you have for this trip?)

    edit: oops, I see Murphey mentioned Leadville already.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2022
  28. Half Fast

    Half Fast Final Approach

    Joined:
    May 7, 2016
    Messages:
    9,063
    Location:
    Central Florida

    Display name:
    Half Fast

    I tried to visit a few months ago and it was closed to civilians. “Temporarily” but it’s been that way for a couple of years.

    As an alternate, the USAF museum at Elgin AFB is quite good with many aircraft on display, from a P51 up to an SR71.

    After St Augustine, https://www.valiantaircommand.com/ in Titusville could be a good stop.

    You might also consider Key West. Fun to walk around, and sunset from Mallory Square is pretty cool. Lots of snorkeling, scuba, and fishing charters if that interests you. And there’s nothing better than dinner at an outdoor table in Key West - a bowl of conch chowder, a pound of peel-&-eat shrimp with a cold beer, then a piece of (real) Key Lime pie with a cup of black coffee. Sigh......
     
  29. Winger67

    Winger67 Filing Flight Plan

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2021
    Messages:
    18

    Display name:
    Larry
    I hope to do a US tour too but will probably break it up in fourths. I'm based around Chicago. Always wondered if you're in Key West would a flight out to Dry Tortugas National Park be worth doing?
     
  30. Half Fast

    Half Fast Final Approach

    Joined:
    May 7, 2016
    Messages:
    9,063
    Location:
    Central Florida

    Display name:
    Half Fast

    You’ll need a seaplane but I’ve heard it’s worth the trip.
     
  31. Winger67

    Winger67 Filing Flight Plan

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2021
    Messages:
    18

    Display name:
    Larry
    I was thinking just an overflight. Prepared as usual for a water crossing.
     
  32. Archer Jack

    Archer Jack Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2018
    Messages:
    220
    Location:
    Mansfield, TX

    Display name:
    Jack
    If you're going to be in upstate NY for Niagara Falls I recommend visiting the finger lakes area along with Watkins Glen which is very pretty. Nice wineries, too.
     
    mondtster likes this.
  33. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2011
    Messages:
    4,053

    Display name:
    mondtster
    I drove through that area last fall. It had been 15ish years since I was out there before and I had forgotten how much I enjoyed it. That area is well worth going through or flying over.
     
  34. Brad W

    Brad W Cleared for Takeoff

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2019
    Messages:
    1,179

    Display name:
    BLW2
    well that's too bad about the Naval Aviation museum! Covid related? Hopefully it'll open soon. Good call on that museum in Titusville, I recall it being worth a stop.... even if not on the same caliber.

    I have no idea about flying there, except to speculate that the reefs probably look nice from above but not likely anything that you wouldn't see elsewhere along the keys island chain. I went there on a liveaboard SCUBA trip a couple of decades ago...just recall walking around exploring a really big old brick fort that's not unlike many all around the coast such as Ft Clinch, Ft Sumter, Ft Desoto....just maybe bigger....
    and some really great diving...& one enormous and VERY aggressive Barracuda. Not much else there that I recall.
     
    Winger67 likes this.
  35. Half Fast

    Half Fast Final Approach

    Joined:
    May 7, 2016
    Messages:
    9,063
    Location:
    Central Florida

    Display name:
    Half Fast

    Pop up from the website:

    • The National Naval Aviation Museum is open Monday through Sunday from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. to current Department of Defense (DoD) ID cardholders. Access to NAS Pensacola is limited to Department of Defense (DoD) ID card holders (active duty service members, retirees, and their families). For Veterans Health Identification Card (VHIC) holders please visit cnrse.cnic.navy.mil/Installations/NAS-Pensacola/ for base access information. DoD ID card holders can escort guests, but must remain with them at all times.
    Doesn’t give the reason. I doubt it’s COVID since other military museums are open.
     
  36. Brad W

    Brad W Cleared for Takeoff

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2019
    Messages:
    1,179

    Display name:
    BLW2
    wow.... that is really sad to have that awesome collection hidden away
     
  37. Half Fast

    Half Fast Final Approach

    Joined:
    May 7, 2016
    Messages:
    9,063
    Location:
    Central Florida

    Display name:
    Half Fast

    Yes, and it sucks that taxpayers like thee and me are paying for a museum we aren’t allowed to visit.
     
  38. Sinistar

    Sinistar En-Route

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2016
    Messages:
    3,609

    Display name:
    Brad
    Another north Midwestern here:

    If your route has you near Rapid City, I recommend 2 or 3 laps around Crazy Horse and just one pass by Mt.Rusmore. If you've never seen Devils Tower I highly recommend it. Spearfish SD has a great airport. They have setup cars for my friend before. And a few nice hotels that should come and get you. About 1hr to drive to Devils Tower, etc.

    If you are ultimately heading to North side of Lake Michigan:

    Granite Falls MN (KGDB) has a WWII themed field and great simple museum. You might even catch them flying their P38 or another Warbird. Called Fagen Fighters.

    There are almost no restaurants on airports up here with the exception of Brainerd (KBRD) which is a great airport with an old diner right on the field. But usually closes after lunch. The other two great on field restaurants up here are St.Paul (KSTP) called Holman's Table, just taxi right up. And Hangar 53 in Eau Claire (KEAU).

    If you go more north, Two Harbor's (KTWM) has a great airport and usually has 2 cars and you can call the airport manager a day ahead to reserve one. Gets you very close to Castle Danger, Gooseberry Falls, and the Split Rock Light House.

    If you want to land in Duluth but not at the big airport, try Sky Harbor (midwest version) KDYT which puts you pretty close to Duluth's Canal Park area. If the wx isn't right or you want a longer field then Richard Bong (same name as the P-38 in Granite Falls) airport KSUW is just nearby and uber. Landing at the Duluth Airport is also nice (KDLH) and you will see your share of Cirrus as they are building them there.

    I've only been as far as Houghton (KCMX) but the scenery is awesome.
     
  39. Rebel

    Rebel Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2019
    Messages:
    32

    Display name:
    Rebel
    Don't ask, just do it. You'll be famous, and you'll write a book and give a presentation at every gathering of aviators. Let us know about the aliens and Elvis.
     
  40. Chrisgoesflying

    Chrisgoesflying Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2018
    Messages:
    278
    Location:
    Too far north

    Display name:
    Chrisgoesflying
    Are you on BasicMed? If not, pop across the border to Canada and make it an international trip. Flying into Billy Bishop in Toronto would probably be fun. Niagara Falls look more impressive from the Canadian shore, further east, you could go to Quebec City and get some European flair. It really feels French there without the hassle of flying overseas. Even further east, Prince Edward Island is nice especially in early fall when the crowds are gone but the weather is still decent.