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  1. Default New Orleans to San Francisco, itinerary suggestions welcome!


    My girlfriend and I are planning on driving from New Orleans to San Francisco in January 2008. We have approximately 3 and a half weeks of time so would like to see and do as much as possible en route.

    We will be passing through Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. In particular we're interested in areas of natural beauty, great places to eat, towns/cities with lively nightlife and good shopping. Basically a bit of everything!

    Rather than driving a consistent number of miles per day I envisage driving longer stretches and then spending a couple of nights in places with lots to do. I don't want to tie myself down to too much of a plan as the main motivation is just to explore.

    We've got a bit of money to spend and really want to make it a trip to remember, any ideas or suggestions will be very gratefully received.

    Ben (from London)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Keithville, LA

    Default Lots of Things

    You'll be passing through many National Parks (your natural beauty) and your route can take you through quite a few big cities. One question, is this a roundtrip or are you ending in San Francsico. Because my advice will be different.

    If you are taking a roundtrip I'd advise going to North Louisiana, taking I-20 to Dallas, Highway 287 through the Pahhandle of Texas to I-40 to I-5 (someone more familiar with California will probably have a better option). I took this route out there once, stopping in Las Vegas along the way and I don't think I could ever figure out what convoluted route I managed to take from Vegas to San Francisco. All I know is it was not a good one.

    On the way back you can take California Highways 101 and 1 down the coast and come back to New Orleans via I-10.

    If you end in San Francisco I'd be tempted to take I-10 all the way out so that you could hit CA 101 and 1 on the way there (I've done that drive and it's wonderful).

    Both route pass through wonderful scenery, large cities, etc. I'd suggest checking out US National Parks that will be along your route and also look for sites that aren't too far off your route. Another thing - I-40 runs parallel to Route 66 for quite a while through the West and this could be another nice route to take for a while.

    Let us know any other questions you might have.


  3. Default

    Hi Laura

    We were planning a one-way trip actually. Cities that I'd particularly like to visit are Austin, Phoenix, El Paso, San Diego, Vegas and LA.

    Do you know what the weather will be like from late December to late Jan in the southern states? I'd assumed that it would be warm or at least dry but Texas can get very cold can't it?


  4. #4


    Good point - was about to make some suggestions on the presumption that it was a one-way trip but then lhuff put some doubt in my mind.

    What percentage of scenery to cities to shopping to partying are you looking for? Personally I'd spend most of my time exploring national parks and small towns with just three or four stops in major cities. But then everyone is different and you may rank a comfy hotel bed and lively nightlife higher up the list than I would :)

    Have you and your g/f travelled together before? If not then it might be a good idea to take the roadtrip compatability test so you can both be sure exactly what the other will be looking for from the trip.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Keithville, LA

    Default With Those Cities

    Then I-10 and then up through California will be your route. Going through I-10 you probably won't have too much trouble, but there have been ice storms and snow along that route before. Yes it does get cold here, but it's usually pretty mild with temps rarely going below freezing in Louisiana and Texas. But, I'm not too sure about the desert areas offhand. This link allows you to type in cities or zipcodes and check the weather and climate by month if needed.


  6. Default

    Hi Craig

    Yes small towns and national parks is probably the priority. We'll be in New Orleans for New Year and I'd like to spend a couple of nights in Austin as I've heard it's a very nice city. I'd like to have a bit of a blow out in both Vegas and LA but apart from that I'm more interested in seeing the countryside.

    My girlfriend and I have done a lot of travelling together so I'm not too worried about that, we'll probably invest in satnav though!

  7. #7


    Firstly, if you're looking for a decent satnav system, I can heartily recommend the TomTom Go 910 -- it's a fantastic little gadget which has worked pretty well flawlessly throughout Europe and the US. Actually, that's unfair, it's worked flawlessly. The only problems I've had were 'user interface' issues :)

    I'm not sure how the weather might come into play but you'll be passing relatively closely to several national parks which are worth a stop. Carlsbad Caverns NP is to be feature the best caves in the US, then there's Guadalupe Mountains NP nearby. Big Bend NP isn't that far south if you wanted to make a detour and I know it comes highly recommended. As you head west you'll pass Saguaro NP and Joshua Tree NP before you reach San Diego.

    If you're looking for spectacular scenery then you'll not want to miss out on driving the coast road from San Diego up to San Francisco - particularly the section from Los Angeles up to San Francisco. It's a fantastic drive at any time of the year but it'd likely be really impressive in the winter months when traffic levels are down. Again,though, be sure to check the weather situation.

    I'm not sure how you were planning on factoring in San Diego, Las Vegas and Los Angeles on your way into San Francisco. What were you planning for this?

  8. Default

    Well Vegas is the complication I suppose, we'll probably end up having to choose between there and San Diego. We could join that coast road from LA couldn't we? So that would be Vegas >> LA >> SF. That way we could also see the Mojave Preserve and maybe Death Valley.

  9. #9


    You certainly could do it that way, yes.

    You'd be pressed for time but you could even do something like New Orleans --> Houston --> Austin --> San Antonio --> El Paso --> Phoenix --> Flagstaff --> Grand Canyon NP --> Page (Navajo Bridge, Horseshoe Bend, Glen Canyon Dam) --> Zion NP --> Las Vegas --> Death Valley NP --> Los Angeles --> Coast Road --> San Francisco. Again though weather could be a factor so I'll have to leave that thought with you until someone who knows the weather situation in that area comes along.

  10. Default Weather

    I'm becoming slightly concerned about the weather, I don't mind a bit snow etc but how bad can it get? Do the roads become very dangerous?

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