East Coast Exploration

Statue in Boston

Reno by Way of Beantown: Boston to Reno, Nevada

The Northeast corner of the United States holds some of America’s richest history and features incredible landmarks that most of us only read about in textbooks when we were kids. Boston, specifically, is a magnet to history buffs as it features the Freedom Trail — a 2.5-mile marked route that leads visitors along a string of historically significant locations within city limits. Sports fans have Fenway Park to look forward to and those who simply have a deep appreciation for beautiful cities always have Beantown to check off their list of must-visit destinations.

Yep, Boston is unlike any other town in New England (or in the world for that matter), and hopefully those living in the general vicinity take advantage of what the city has to offer on a regular basis. Either way, it’s an ideal “point A” to circle on the map, and for those planning to fly to Nevada for the Reno Rendezvous June 18-20, tell the travel agent to refund your tickets. Let’s take a ride West, friends. Let’s see and live all the things you would’ve missed while napping between beverage services and munching on “free” pretzels.

The Starting Gate

Spending time in Boston and not taking in the local historical sites would be doing yourself a major disservice. Even if the thought of hanging around in stuffy museums all day sounds too boring, there are other alternatives to soaking in some culture. The aforementioned Freedom Trail leads visitors through locations, including the Bunker Hill Monument and the docking area of the USS Constitution in the Charlestown district; the Paul Revere House and Boston Massacre site in the North End; and the State House and Boston Common public garden near downtown. Best of all, these world-renowned spots are all within walking distance. Get some fresh air, see the sights and take in a little history at your own pace.

The different neighborhoods that comprise the city of Boston have different flavors that complement one another almost seamlessly. Beacon Hill is lined with narrow brick and cobblestone streets, and is bordered with Federal-style row houses and mansions that date back nearly 200 years. This area is a designated National Historical Landmark, and is home to quaint shops and eateries, several small museums and the Massachusetts State House. You’ll swear you’ve been taken back to the past while walking these streets. Also, the famous setting for the ’80s sitcom Cheers is on the outskirts of Beacon Hill. The amazing pieces of memorabilia that line the interior walls and the walk down the front steps will put you right in the program’s opening credits.

Hitting the Road

Colonial Street in Boston
Well, the time has come to saddle up and hit the highway, but don’t fret, there is much more to see on the long journey west. The map puts Reno at more than 3,000 miles and 42 hours away from this point — mere suggestions of the quickest blast through the country. Our intent is making the most of the trip; we’ll be counting memories instead of hours on the road and racking up life experiences, not just miles, on the odometer. Instead of taking the northern route of Interstate 90 to Interstate 80, we’ll stick to a path that will lead through Connecticut, past Philly and Baltimore, and into Louisville, Ky., St. Louis, Kansas City, Mo., and beyond. It’s going to be an extended trek, but one that will be well worth the time and effort spent squeezing every ounce of sheer awesomeness from it.

I-90 West will lead you through Interstate 84, Interstate 91, CT-15 south and Interstate 287 west into the general vicinity of New York City. If visiting, or at least cruising through the Big Apple is something that beckons you, it’s easy enough to do. To get there, continue on CT-15 south into Manhattan from the Henry Hudson Parkway. All the recognizable big city names will start to appear and pass depending where exactly you want to stop. The Bronx and Harlem are on the way, and across the river are Brooklyn and Queens. While in New York there is plenty to do and see, and for you first-time visitors, do try to stay for a day or two. It isn’t a city that can be seen in a few hours. But if this isn’t your first city sightseeing trip, breezing in and out might be the extent of your stay, which is fine, too. To exit the city and end up heading westward, head south to Lower Manhattan for Interstate 78 west across the Hudson River and take it through 40 miles to Newark and past I-287. From this point, the East Coast will soon be a glimpse in the mirrors and the stars of the Midwest will soon appear on the horizon ahead.

With Baltimore and D.C. not too far south from the selected route, a side jaunt to see more jewels of America’s East Coast is a real possibility. For those wanting to press on and leave big city life behind, there are some amazing motorcycle riding roads and attractions to look forward to ahead. When heading down Interstate 81, stick to Interstate 68 west for a little Maryland Panhandle cruise. There are great back roads in this region and some with great historical significance. I-68 in Cumberland is also known as the Old National Road, which was the nation’s first attempt at a federal highway built in the 1800s. Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for one of the few remaining tollgates designed to help pay for the road’s upkeep. Settlers would use this road as a launching point as they headed for Oregon, San Francisco, Colorado and other states out west. This route also passes by the Antietam National Battlefield, the site where the bloodiest battle during the Civil War took place (September 17, 1862). Depending on how much exercise you’d like to squeeze into the day, the actual battleground can be toured on foot or bike.

The next major populous cities along the way will be Charleston, W.Va, Lexington, Ky., and then Louisville not too far after. But in between are amazing roads on every side of you while cruising along Interstate 79 south to Interstate 64 west. That’s mainly in part of there being so much open, natural land and roads that branch out from the main highway in every direction and then back again. Louisville would be a good place for a layover, as it does offer a couple quirky visits that could make for good stories and even better Facebook status updates. Col. Harland Sanders, aka the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, is buried in Louisville, and believe it or not, his memorial site is very rarely without bouquets of fresh-cut flowers. Also located in Louisville, is the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory. Within the museum portion of the building is the Grand Slam Gallery, which houses bats used by some of baseball’s greatest sluggers such as Mickey Mantle and Cal Ripken Jr., but the main event is Babe Ruth’s own bat that he carved notches into during the 1927 season when he went on to belt out a record-setting 60 homers. Inside the factory, visitors are shown how a professional bat is made from start to finish, including the branding of the famous Louisville Slugger insignia. There’s even a display wall that showcases thousands of signatures that have been burned into a Slugger bat at one time or another.

Crossing the Mississippi

A short four hours away from Louisville is good ol’ St. Louis, which is reached the quickest by staying on I-64 West. Now, the obvious landmark is the Arch, which is the Gateway to the West. Since that’s the direction you’re heading, a quick pit stop may be a requirement to set the mood. If you plan on staying here for the night, stop by the Missouri Civil War Museum that is housed in the 1905 Jefferson Barracks Post Exchange building. The museum doesn’t attempt to gloss over the entire history of the war, just the parts that pertain to the state and local regions. A little farther westward in Kansas City, Mo., is the National World War I Museum, where there’s an impressive permanent exhibition that features original objects and documents dating from 1914-1919. New exhibits do come through the doors, so make sure to check on the website to see what else is cooking before paying a visit. Either way, it’s a must-stop if you happen to be keen on American history.

Interstate 70 west will take you to Denver, which is just about 600 miles away from KC. This route will pass through the small towns of Kansas and eastern Colorado. Wings Over The Rockies Air and Space Museum will be there to greet you upon arrival. Fans of the Star Wars franchise will jump with glee to see the life-sized X-Wing Starfighter on display. Those wanting to see historical U.S. Air Force aircraft will get their fill, and fans of space technology will get a chance to take in the impressive displays of spacecraft and missile technology.

Continuing west on I-70 will wind through the Arapaho National Forest. This leg of the trip will help tune down the loud, big city noise in exchange for the sounds of glorious nature. Depending on how much isolation you want to indulge in, you can cut clear across the rest of Colorado, straight through Utah, and nearly all the way to California as Reno teeters on the California-Nevada border. I-70 will meet up with US 50 west just past Interstate 15 in Utah. US 50 cuts through the center of Nevada to I-80 West to Reno. Taking this way limits the use for major interstate highways and will bless those who take it with serene, picturesque landscapes before diving into the lively, exciting Rendezvous epicenter. It’s nearly a 1,000-mile haul from Denver, but it should prove to be the most exciting stretch yet. Those looking to explore the wild frontier will get every opportunity to do so.

Hopefully you’ve found a comfy bed or two in the last couple days, because you’re going to need all the banked-up energy possible for your weekend in Reno. With events at the Rendezvous starting Wednesday, June 17 and going through Saturday, June 20, adequate rest will be a necessity. Live music, multiple bowling tournaments, pool parties and stunt shows — boy, don’t you just have a jam-packed weekend ahead of you? But if you still haven’t seen enough of America at this point, there are loops just outside Reno that will be perfect for early morning breakfast runs.

This trip from the East Coast is anything but short on miles, but would you have it any other way? Who would want to fly over the country’s incalculable, gorgeous landscapes and landmarks, anyway? Not a Gold Wing rider, that’s for sure.

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