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Thread: Southern States

  1. #1

    Default Southern States

    Hi All,

    I've got approximately 4 weeks in the USA and want to do a road trip across some of the southern states and then maybe meet up with route 66 somewhere for the return to LA (I'll probably fly into Raleigh from New Zealand via LA and then depart from LA home).

    I'm thinking; North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and then somehow meet up with route 66 somewhere? Thoughts? Do I have enough time? What are the main things I should see? Are their any coastal roads I should consider?

    Will be traveling in March.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default A Month in the South

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    That is plenty of time to see a good deal of the south and southwest of the US, and Raleigh is as good as any other entry point for a drive from east to west. That puts you in good shape to visit the Outer Banks of North Carolina (Ocracoke and Hatteras Islands) for some of the most pristine coast in the east. You should also plan on seeing some of the Appalachian Mountains in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, some old southern cities such as Charleston SC and Savannah GA, some swamps such as the Okefenokee, and the Mississippi River. West of there is considered the southwest rather than the south, so did you also plan on seeing some of its attractions or just driving through after your visit to the south?


  3. #3

    Default Southern States

    I guess it all depends on time. I want to see as much as possible. It's hard to comprehend distances - given that over here I could drive the entire length of the country in 24 hours! I'm also into food and would also be interested in learning more about Native American history. And I'd also like to spend one or two nights in one of the "big cities" (not LA).

    Thanks for the advice so far!


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Size and Timing

    To give you an idea, you can very comfortably drive from coat to coast in less than a week. You've got 4. So plan on spending a good 2-2½ weeks just doing stuff and the rest of the time on the road soaking up the scenery and working your way westward. Leave a few days to see something of the west coast when you get there, but otherwise just keep moseying in a generally westerly direction hitting the sights that appeal to you. You'll have a great time. Highlights west of the Mississippi would include the surprisingly cosmopolitan cities of Austin and San Antonio, oddities like the Cadillac Ranch, the desert setting of White Sands National Monument and Saguaro National Park, underground wonders like Carlsbad and Kartchner Caverns, Old West towns Bisbee and Tombstone, unique scenic wonders such as the Petrified Forest and Meteor Crater, the must be seen to be believed Grand Canyon, and the thoroughly modern and quite built to be enjoyed Las Vegas.

    Yeah, we're big, but only roughly the size of Australia.


  5. #5


    RP - You've got plenty of time to really have a great trip. Just don't venture too far north lest you be caught by a late season snow storm. Chicago is the start of Route 66 and can get the freak nasty storm in March or even early April. Picking up Route 66 anywhere from St.Louis west would work well.

    I highly recommend the Route 66 run. You will find it well worth the trip and easy to venture off of to see the sights such as Grand Canyon and Las Vegas. While on Route 66 you really must stop to see Cadillac Ranch. It is a uniquely American experience:), Be sure to take the old road in stretches like from Seligman, AZ all of the way to Needles, CA. It really gives you a great sense of the old highway and there are great stops in Hackberry and Oatman. The drive up to Oatman is worth the whole trip (in my humble opinion). You mentioned interest in Native American art - as you go through New Mexico you can head up to Santa Fe & Taos which has a rich Native American legacy and has become quite the artist colony.

    If you have the time and want a great coastal road you could consider Hwy 1 in California between San Francisco and LA. It's best to do from North to South, keeping the ocean on your right side so your view is unobstructed by a lane of traffic, but either way is stunning. Plan an easy two days to do the 400 mile one way drive and allow yourself the chance to stop at the Hearst Castle in San Simeon and spend the night somewhere along the route. Of course San Francisco itself is well worth a couple of nights to visit. The food is excellent. Head down the waterfront for excellent seafood or ask your hotel for recommendations on Chineses and Italian. It is one of the world's great cities and in some ways will remind you a bit of Sydney, Australia (if you've been there) with it's setting on a bay. The trek back down to LA from San Francisco on Interstate 5 is an easy 400 mile shot that can be done in 7 hours or less depending on traffic.

    The distances will be greater than you have in your homeland but you can set your itinerary up for easy 200 to 300 mile days with the occassional 400 or 500 mile day thrown in to cover some ground. Have a great time and good luck on your trip.

    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 01-05-2009 at 10:11 PM. Reason: added the link again... to the RTA article & corrected the route CA-1 instead of US-101

  6. #6

    Default Thanks!

    Hi All,

    I can't believe how generous and thoughtful you all are with your responses. I've definitely got some food for thought now and it's good to know that the distances aren't insurmountable.

    I will work on a rough itinerary (I'll try not to plan too much) and run it past you all since you certainly know your stuff.

    Do you think staying at Super 8 type motels will be the best (value for money) way to go? I won't need to book will I (I'd rather not as I don't want to lock my self into any particular dates).

    Any "not to miss" food places on the way?



  7. #7


    Having driven extensively through the southern states and, recently, in NZ; one thing you need to consider is that the distances may be greater but the roads in the US are so very much easier and quicker to drive. So try not to stress about the size of the place -- the roads there do a fine job of shrinking those distances.

    What I would suggest would be getting hold of a map (or using Google Earth or Streets & Trips) and marking points of interest that you fancy visiting and seeing if a route jumps out at you. It is strange how it works but very often it does just that. You can get many ideas for possible destinations on this forum but if you give us some suggestions maybe we could suggest a stop or two which suits your interests?

    Super 8 motels are cheap, for sure, but I tent to avoid them personally as sometimes the cleanliness of the room leaves a lot to be desired (especially comared to the quality of motel in NZ) and I tend to go for a Days Inn or Holiday Inn Express type place. I never book either except when I know there is a big event in town or on my first night in the country (the immigration guys will want to know where you are staying when you arrive)

  8. #8

    Default Map (So Far)

    Hi All,

    I've created a map with points that I'd like to go and visit so far. It can be viewed here:,56.601563&z=4

    If people could suggest other points of interest around, or the best roads to take from various points, that would be great.


  9. Default

    Welcome, romanp.

    If you're here for culinary, southeast to southwest is a good way to go.

    Lots of southern cuisine in MS, AL, GA, SC, FL, etc. You have the cajun and creole cuisine in Louisiana and parts of Mississippi. You've got barbeque in Texas. Blending to TexMex to Mexican. I've never eaten at a place serving true Native American food, but I'm sure they're out there.

    There's so many things to see, it'll all come down to whether you're going to hug the border a lot. Since you want US66, I'm guessing you'll stick mostly to US40 across the country (but definitely go into Louisiana, especially the swamps, etc).

    What are you looking for, as well? Scenery? Seeing places you've read about or seen pictures of? Sports/entertainment? etc.

    Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a must see. If you cut up to Kentucky, you can see Mammoth Cave (truly astounding). The Ozarks in Arkansas are quite scenic to drive through. Eastern Oklahoma has some great driving opportunities. Western Oklahoma (if you stay south, such as US62) has some great vistas and scenic moments (especially west of Lawton).

    The Texas panhandle, is, well, mostly boring. To me, at least. Scenic in places, but to me just a lot of miles holding you up from your next stop.

    New Mexico has Albuquerque (defininitively southwestern). There's several reservations there along the way. The Painted Cliffs at the NM/AZ border are quite nice.

    (along I-40) has the Petrified Forest park. You can go see the Meteor Crater (1-mi wide crater just south of I-40). Then the obvious Grand Canyon National Park. You can see the Hoover Dam and go up to Las Vegas. West of there is Death Valley National Park (below sea level, and one of the hottest places in America in summer. And who doesn't like locations named "Devil's Playground" etc.).

    From there, there's the Mojave Desert (try to spot the Mojave River, as well. It's usually always just a long bridge over the desert). There's Joshua Tree National Park. You can cut down through there and over to San Diego.

    World reknowned zoo. Also, it's 72 and sunny on a very regular basis. Just south of LA. Then just take I-5 to LA. There's Hollywood. Beverly Hills. The La Brea Tarpits. Santa Monica Pier, etc.


  10. #10

    Default What I want to see...

    Hi All,

    Again, thanks so much for all the advice so far!

    When it comes to what I want to see; natural wonders, quirky small towns and attractions appeal to me too. Obviously I've added some of the big cities (Houston, New Orleans) to my trip but I really want to see some of the small towns in the south.

    I've been to Vegas and the Grand Canyon two years ago - if I have time (as it is towards the end of my trip) I will definitely stop there again, but I won't be too disappointed if I need to skip them this time. Here's what I've got down so far as places to stop - but they're only really the places that I've heard about before or people have told be about above - also not sure on the best loop to take to see all these places or where to join Route 66:

    I'd also like to see some sports games - last time I was in the USA I went to see an NBA game (which was good) and a Baseball game (which was AWESOME!).

    Hopefully this helps you to help me!


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