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  1. Default Road trip LA to NY

    Hi everyone! We are from Sydney, Australia and we're coming to the USA end of August and into September for 3 weeks! We're very excited yet feeling a little lost on where to begin our planning and what is doable. We would like to spend the majority of our time sight seeing rather than driving. We're arriving in LA and departing from NY. This is the gist of what we would like to see: San Francisco, Vegas, Grand canyon, New Orleans (want to experience the music scene), Nashville (?), New York... any other tips/suggestions?
    Thanks so much for your time, we can't wait to hear your thoughts!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Some ideas to start.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    We're very excited yet feeling a little lost on where to begin our planning and what is doable.
    The first thing you should do is purchase a good size paper map of the USA and study it, putting markers on the map of the places you wish to go and then seeing what would fit in with the blanks in between. You will need to do some research and pretty much anything to do with road tripping in the US can be found here at RTA. You can use keywords in the search function to find info on the forums, look in the road trip field reports for ideas and check out all the planning pages in the tool bars above, including the Map centre where you can find routes and attraction that have been listed by RTA contributors based on personal experience. Of course you can continue to ask questions as you go and we can help to 'fine tune' your plans and offer further suggestions.

    A few ideas to get you started would be as follows. Allow at least 2 days to get from LA to SF and take the spectacular coastal highway around Big Sur between the towns of Cambria and Monterey. From San Francisco to Vegas you have two completely different National parks and a spectacular drive to look forward to. Head to Yosemite NP and then cross the Sierra Nevada on Tioga Pass [CA120] to Mono Lake and the head south on 395 where you can drive across Death Valley. It will be extremely hot in DV but the landscape is amazing and you can see plenty from the car and take a couple of short walks to viewpoints.

    As you make your way to GC you can cross the Hoover Dam and take part of old route 66 from Kingman through Seligman, or you could go the long way round and first head north into southern Utah and Zion NP and then through Page AZ to Grand canyon south rim. Nearby is Monument valley that you could visit between Page and GC or as you leave GC .

    Here to New Orleans you have many options and you could base a route going out through Albuquerque through Dallas, or you could head further south to White sands and Carlsbad Caverns and through San Antonio and Houston and many combinations and other options between them.

    From NOLA to Nashville you could drive through Tupelo the birthtown of Elvis Presley and Memphis would be a possible detour with it's connection to music, The Sun recording studios and Gracelands, both having connections to EP. As you make your way north you could vist Great Smokey mountains and follow the Apalachians, perhaps drive some of the Blue ridge parkway.

    Of course these are just a few ideas from thousands of possibilities and although 3 weeks is a reasonable amount of time you will have to pick and choose carefully what you want to see to get the majority of time you want from the car. With just you basic route you have outlined you have at least a week of solid driving and with a couple of days for flights and a day in each city at the start and finish of your trip you have half your time accounted for and have 10 or 11 days to spend where you want along the way.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA forum!

    3 weeks is certainly enough time to drive from coast to coast and see quite a lot.

    However, especially when you say you want to spend the majority of your time sight seeing and not driving, I do have to warn you, just to cover the miles of places you want to see, you're going to be spending about half of your trip in the car. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it is something you should prepare for.

    Between LA and SF, you should certainly plan to spend 2 days and drive up the coast. Between SF and Vegas, I'd strongly recommend making the trip between Yosemite and Death Valley, which will take another day or two.

    Considering your interest in music, you might look at a stop in Austin on your way to the Grand Canyon.

    After Nashville, the Smoky Mountains, Blue Ridge Parkway, and Washington, DC would be among your potential options for things to see and do.

    But those are really just starting points, I'd recommend you just start sketching out a day by day outline of what you want to see and do, that should give you a good idea of how much will be possible with the time you've got available.

  4. #4


    If music is your interest, you might try to work up a route that would take you to Branson, Missouri. You could find about anything you want.

  5. Default

    Wow thank you so much! We really appreciate the time you've put into your responses! I'm just about to head out and get a map! I may be back with more questions..

    Thanks again!!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Australia

    Default Similar Trip

    Hi Becks - you've come to the best place for planning US road trips!

    I'm from Brisbane and planning a very similar trip, leaving L.A and heading to NY via the south for the month of July next year. My post is here if that's allowed.

    Some great ideas have already been provided to you by the above posters, and I know that other posters have been very beneficial in providing advice to me about the best paths to travel. By best friend in the early planning stages was google maps just to figure out the distances between places and how far would likely be possible to drive each day. The general rule quoted on this website is a maximum of 800km per day travelling before fatigue sets in. In my plans I've planned to stop at a destination approximately every 2 hours for 30min to an hour to see as much as possible and to break apart the long drives. Hopefully that will balance out the long drives, however it has lead to my trip from LA to NY being 20 days. I'm a bit of an over-planner and though and haven't got many days over 500km, so as mentioned above travelling that distance in 3 weeks is likely doable but result in single nights at a lot of the places along the journey.

    Once you have a rough skeleton of a trip, the RTA map is great for finding things along your route to stop and visit or even for attractions that are in the cities that you are visiting. There are some other websites as well that provide a lot of information but I've found people on this forum to be very helpful in discovering lesser known places that I've found more interesting.

    Good luck with your planning! Looking forward to seeing your eventual plans!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Thanks for the compliment.

    Thanks Clay, for linking to your thread. It has some great information in it, which I am sure becks will find as useful as you did.


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