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  1. Default Coast to Coast, 1st road trip, please HELP!

    Hi, I'm being very ambitious here. My goal is to travel from San Diego, CA to Norfolk, VA in August with my husband (both in our mid 20's).
    I know that I want to visit the Grand Canyon, New Orleans and Savannah, which means I'll be head across the South and up the East Coast. The trip will be about 10 days.

    I like scenic roads, but my husband loves to go fast and the time line does require us to somewhat efficient on time. We're not huge on gimmicky road stops, but we love to have fun. Mini-golf, museums, sports, drive in movie theater, and the best of the local dinner circuit.

    I love mom and pop run establishments, so any favorite hotels, b&b, or even hostels. The budget isn't over tight, but every activity, restaurant, or lodging should be under the $150 for two adults.

    Any help is very much appreciated.
    Last edited by yada273; 04-18-2010 at 10:24 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Speed is Not of the Essence

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    If the object here is to have an enjoyable cross-country journey, why would you, or your husband, want to speed through it? At around 3,300 miles for the general route you've laid out, this trip can be completed quite comfortably in 6 days of driving. With 10 days, you have plenty of time to enjoy both the road and the sights along the way. All you need to do is determine where to spend your 'extra' 4 days. Besides the places you've listed, you should also have a look at Petrified Forest National Park, Dealey Plaza, and Charleston, SC. Unfortunately, mom-and-pop establishments and B&B's are so numerous and so ever changing that we simply can't give any meaningful advice beyond inquire locally for food and pick B&Bs on the basis of what looks good to you.


  3. Default How helpful!

    Thank you for your wonderful reply.

    The Petrified Forest sounds great, and provides a good break in the trip. Since I'll be hitting up two national parks, I'll just do the $80 annual fee to maximize on this trip. Looking into the, there are so many national parks, especially along the route that I'm traveling, are there any other parks honestly worth hitting up?

    Concerning Dealey Plaza, I was told by a few friends that it is easier to drive through Oklahoma and avoid Texas (specifically Dallas and Houston traffic) all together. Is the traffic really that terrible?

    You're very right about the ambiguous quality to my request on mom and pop establishments. I think as I get a better understanding of where I'll be in the trip, I can list specific cities I'll end up staying over in.

    Oh, it gets me so excited!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    If you are used to SD and LA traffic, Dallas and Houston are no worse.

    The annual pass generally requires 4+ parks to be cost-effective.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Money Matters

    Well, unless you're going to enter at least 4 National Parks (typically $20 each) on your trip, it doesn't make financial sense to buy the $80 America the Beautiful Pass. If you do decide to visit at least that many parks, then just buy the pass at the first park entrance you come to since the one-year period starts at the time of purchase. Other National Parks/Monuments along your route include Mojave National Preserve, Walnut Canyon National Monument, Petroglyph National Monument, Gulf Islands National Seashore, Cumberland Island National Seashore, Fort Sumter National Monument, and Colonial National Historical Park

    I have not found the drives through either Oklahoma City or Dallas to be particularly bad, but then I haven't done either all that often and I have commuted in/out of both Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Besides, going through OKC means that you'll have to continue on at least as far as the Indian Nations Turnpike (a toll road) adding at least that cost and the cost (in time and money) of the extra hundred miles or so that will entail. On the other hand, I have enjoyed the 'shortcut' via US-287 from Amarillo to Dallas even though (or because) it entails taking a slightly slower road through the small towns and cities of the Texas plains.


  6. Default

    In New Orleans I highly recommend the D-Day Museum. It's not going to give you any taste of New Orleans culture, but it's something that shouldn't be missed. I would also highly recommend dozens of restaurants around town. Court of Two Sisters. It's a little high-end, but the two of you can have a nice dinner and a bottle of wine for well within your $150. Ask for reservations in the courtyard, but go well after the sun goes down. New Orleans in August is HOT.

    If you want a little night life you might try Pat O'Brien's in the Quarter. It's a little tourisy, but locals do go there quite a bit if it's not too crowded. Have a Hurricane. If you want something a little more upscale, though, try the Carousel Bar in the Monteleone Hotel. You'll know why when you get there. They make a good Sazerac.

    If you haven't picked up on it, visitors to New Orleans MUST start with the food and drink. Music is probably more important than those two, but you'll be overcome by that as soon as you get here.

    In the daytime just walk around the French Quarter. There's too much there to write about. I'd recommend staying away from the tours. It's much nicer to just discover things on your own.

  7. Default

    I'm so grateful for help, you guys!
    I don't expect to hit more than 4 national parks on this one trip, but I'm sure that I will over the course of a full year. If not, it was a good cause.
    Comparing Houston traffic to LA's does not make me want to run out there, but I will consider as many drive options as I can. I don't mind slow, especially if it is scenic, but crawling traffic... I'm not a fan.

    As for New Orleans, YAY! Those little local insights are just what I love. And I agree about what you said tours, full cities are better explored, not dragged through like an animal on a leash. So very grateful.

  8. Default

    Been very busy, scouring the internet like crazy. I think I have the first three days set up. Please, let me know if you see any flaws or have any suggestions.

    Day 1: Leave San Diego and drive straight through to Phoenix. My brother lives out there so we'll visit for a bit, have some grub, stretch. From Phoenix we'll drive up to Sedona and stay at the Sugar Loaf Lodge. Miles traveled 512, hours on the road 10-15.

    Day 2: Leave Sedona and head to the Grand Canyon. After catching the sunset on the mountains well drive to Flagstaff and stop for dinner at Salsa Brava on Rt 66. From there move on to Winslow and crash for the night at La Posada Hotel. Miles traveled 301, hours on the road 7-10.

    Day 3: Leave Winslow to check out the Petrified Forest. From there head to Albequerque, have dinner at the Monte Carlo., stay at the Old Town B&B Miles traveled 328, total drive time 7-10 hours.

    I know at this rate my trip is looking to be at least 12 days. There are just so many things I wanted to check out in AZ/NM. I'm hoping to make up some time in Texas and Arkansas.
    Last edited by yada273; 04-19-2010 at 09:49 AM. Reason: my husband rejected staying at Zuni

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    If you are looking at making up time, limit your driving to 600 miles a day on Interstates - that's a 12 hour day when you account for fuel, food, and rest stops.

  10. #10


    I agree with glc on the 600 mile maximum, but would suggest 400-500 miles per day.

    I hope you're planning on taking I-8 to Gila Bend and up to Phoenix from there. There are two interesting natural formations on that route. I won't describe them, but you'll know when you see them. If you're visiting relatives in Phoenix, I suggest you stay close to there your first night. (500-550 miles and 6-7 hours drive)

    The next day go I-17 to 179. Take in Montezuma's Castle, Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon. From Flagstaff up to Cameron on Rte 89 there is a loop road to Sunset Crater, the lava beds and the Wapatki Ruins. You can enter GC from Cameron, a nice way to go in to the village where all the busses start. (Cameron Trading Post is a nice restaurant, too)

    Spend the second night up somewhere near Grand Canyon. You must see the afterglow in the canyon, which occurs about 15 minutes after sunset, and by then, you won't want to drive too far to your motel. Tusayan or Cameron would be good places to stay. You will only be driving about 300 miles, but there is lots to see and do on that route.

    We found that Petrified Forest only took up about 2-3 hours, though worth the visit. Another place you might consider along the route to Albuquerque is El Morro. It is off route, but a very interesting place, as is Land of Fire and Ice on the same loop road out of Gallup to Grants. Drive time 8-9 hours and about 500 miles.

    You will be at the same place (Albuquerque) on your journey after three days, but your drive will be more evenly spaced and you'll see a lot more along the way.

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