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  1. #1

    Default planning 1st RT across US & need help!!

    Hi,
    I'm Amber and two of my friends and I have recently decided to go on a road trip around the country the summer after we graduate high school, which will be next summer. We have got a lot of it planned out and the major highlights that we want to hit but are in need of some extra help.
    See, we know where we want to go and have the general route we are going to take but we don't want to just go to major cities and attractions. We would like to find some small, unique towns and pitstops off the beaten path along the way. However, we don't know of any.
    First off is Southern Alabama. We are going to Dauphin Island and then our next major stop is Savannah, Georgia. There is a lot of space in between and we want to take the back roads not just major highways but don't know where to go.
    Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. I will be back for more inquires later so keep an eye out for me!! Thanks for your assistance!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default The best way to find things off the beaten path...

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    In my opinion, the best way to find things off the beaten path is to simply leave the beaten path!

    While it sounds simple, many people who say they want to see those sorts of things, really don't plan to ever get off the freeways. If you are already planning on taking the backroads for your trip, then you will inevitably find those unique little things you are looking for.

    Think of it this way, if you knew of lots of "things off the beaten path" before your trip, they probably wouldn't really be off the beaten path type of things!

    Enjoy the backroads, and you will almost certainly find what you are looking for - even if you don't know exactly what those places are yet. Last summer, I stumbled on to the "real" South Park, Colorado. Its not on a map, and I didn't even know it existed before I got there - but it was one of the highlights of my trip. In my opinion, its these sorts of discoveries that make roadtripping so much fun!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Paths - Beaten and Otherwise

    Michael is absolutely correct in that the way to find the kinds of things you're looking for is to get off the interstates and travel the back roads. But what are your alternatives and is there any way to find those out of the way places without relying totally on chance? The simple answer to the first question is to just avoid the Interstate System. Use highways such as US-190 or US-280 as the backbones for your trip across the south instead of I-10. And don't be afraid to use some 3-digit state highways either. Make a point of stopping at the local cafe or restaurant in the small towns such roads force you to drive through. You can eat at McDonald's or Denny's any time. Talk to the waitresses, ask them where they'd go and what they'd do for fun locally. Take your rest breaks at local Chambers of Commerce and information booths rather than convenience stores.

    It is also possible to find some things before you go, and you have lots of time for this. In my own case, I did a drive through the South last year (Post 1 and Post 2) where I stopped at the site where Bonnie and Clyde got gunned down, a petrified forest in Mississippi, the ghost town that was once the capital of Alabama, and the home of Uncle Remus and Brer Rabbit. Each of these was so off the beaten path that I was usually the only one there at the time. But I found each of them on the web before starting out. My search routine is simple. I use Google or Vivisimo, or whatever search engine is your favorite, and start with the simple phrase (e.g.) "Alabama tourism OR attraction" (changing the name of the state or city as needed) and following the trail of links until I find something that appeals to me. Yes, this will lead you to web sites for the major cities and attractions, but with very little effort it will also lead you to the quirkier places you're looking for.

    AZBuck

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default And while I hate to promote a competitor's website...

    but I must tell you about Roadside America, a friendly competitor. They list lots of goofy, off-the-wall places to see and things to do.

    And the other best way is as Michael and Buck describe. Also, you might contact the tourism offices in the various states you want to visit. They will send you a wealth of free information like maps, guidebooks, etc. You can usually just google "(state name) tourism" and get taken to their website where there is usually a request information form you can fill out and submit. Easy and worth it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default We maintain one of the best list of links for off-beat out there

    Quote Originally Posted by texas_angel
    We would like to find some small, unique towns and pitstops off the beaten path along the way
    Here are some of those places!

    Mark

  6. #6

    Default More planning on cross-country RT!

    Okay so I'm back for more info. By the way the last was very helpful, thanks!
    So as I mentioned in my last post two of my friends and I are planning a cross country road trip next summer after we graduate high school.
    Our route planned so far is (with some undoutful variations):
    From Texas to
    Memphis, TN to
    New Orleans, LA to
    Mobile, AL to
    Savannah, GA to
    Mrytle Beach, SC to
    Nashville, TN to
    Louisville, KY to
    Chicago, IL to
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin to
    Minneapolis, Minnesota to
    Rapid City, SD
    Yellowstone Nat'l Park, WY to
    Estes Park, CO to
    Monterey, CA to
    Las Vegas, Nevada to
    Grand Canyon, AR to
    New Mexico and back to Texas.

    These are just our main points of interest and will be stopping at any places that look interesting along the way. We are all saving up $$ and will all be putting the same amount in to pay for gas, accommedations, food, etc. We will also have each of our own money for anything extra. My questions are:
    How long do you think this will take us?
    How much money for each of us to put in together?
    If we are planning to camp in some state and national parks, is making reservations a must?
    We are very willing to rough it and are willing to stay in cheap not so classy hotels. Are reservations for these necessary?
    Also I've read on this site and others about Mom and Pop hotels. What are those exactly?
    Is staying the night at roadside parks legal and is it safe?
    And any other tips are welcome.

    Once again thank you so much for your help. It is greatly appreciated. I'm sure I will be back for more assistance in the furture.
    Thank you,
    Amber
    Last edited by AZBuck; 06-17-2006 at 09:29 PM. Reason: Merged with previous thread for same trip

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default What Big Eyes You Have!

    Your trip has gotten a LOT bigger in the last couple of days!

    Quote Originally Posted by texas_angel
    How long do you think this will take us?
    Well, you're basically looking at seeing most of the US. 3 weeks or so would let you do the drive at a semi-relaxed pace. Then you'd have to add the time necessary to actually explore and appreciate the sights, sounds and smells along the way. While it's possible to make the trip as a speed run, it doesn't sound like that's what you and your friends want.

    Quote Originally Posted by texas_angel
    How much money for each of us to put in together?
    One of our moderators summarized the costs associated with RoadTripping. Specifically, you can estimate your gas costs here, and get a handle on how to keep costs down with this article by two other moderators.

    Quote Originally Posted by texas_angel
    If we are planning to camp in some state and national parks, is making reservations a must?
    We are very willing to rough it and are willing to stay in cheap not so classy hotels. Are reservations for these necessary?
    The need, or even the desirability, of reservations is an open question among the members of RTA. In general, the feeling is that they are only absolutely necessary at popular destinations in high season or during special events. They can also provide you with some peace of mind as you move through your day. I would say they are probably more needed for camping than for motels, which seem to be at every interstate exit.

    Quote Originally Posted by texas_angel
    Also I've read on this site and others about Mom and Pop hotels. What are those exactly?
    These are just motels that are owned and operated locally, and are not part of any national chain. They are not the typical standard chain rooms, they are a bit quirkier. They also don't benefit from national advertising, so they can be a bit harder to find, although many are vetted by AAA.

    Quote Originally Posted by texas_angel
    Is staying the night at roadside parks legal and is it safe?
    That, also, has been the subject of a recent thread, at least for those in Texas. Personally, I wouldn't recommend it. Not just for the safety, but I've never been able to comfortable enough in a car to get a good enough night's sleep to be anything but exhausted the next day.

    Quote Originally Posted by texas_angel
    I'm sure I will be back for more assistance in the future.
    We'll be here.

    AZBuck

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