I am moving to California and will be driving from Dallas to Orange County. I'm not looking to go on any tours or interested in seeing indian reservations. Basically I want to find inexpensive hotels or cool and unique sites and resturants. Romantic places or sites are a plus since I am traveling with my fiance. We are in our late 20's so museums or tours are not of interest. I was also told not to drive through the desert during the heat of the day. Any suggestions on where to stay so we can time the desert drive at night?
If you are planning on going up to I-40, check out previous threads about Route 66 by doing a search. YOu should find a lot of good info that way. Also, a recent thread called "Driving to Arizona from Rhode Island" has some great ideas along your route that are unique.
If you are going I-20, then I-10, you might check out Bisbee, AZ, where you can stay at the very cool The Shady Dell (check it out at http://www.theshadydell.com/) and eat at Dot's Diner at the same place. And Tombstone, AZ, where you can see the re-enactment of the Gunfight at the OK Corral, The Birdcage, etc. Some people enjoy Quartzite, AZ, with its acres of boondocking RVers and funky flea market.
Inexpensive hotel chains are Days Inn, Motel 6, Super 8, Budget Inn, and a few others I forget the name of. Many times, small "mom and pop" style motels are fairly inexpensive as well.
If you have air-conditioning, there is no reason to avoid driving in the desert during the day unless you have a problem-car with over-heating issues. I have driven numerous hours in the desert heat, 100 deg plus, without problem. I'm sure Bob (a frequent poster who lives in the SW) has driven even more than that in the desert heat and I don't recall him mentioning any concerns with that.
Merely an addendum to the summer driving: Be sure to have the car checked out before you leave. I.E. coolant, fan belts, transmission fluid. You might consider bringing along some extra belts. A cell phone would be good. Remember, summer driving is hard on a car. Be sure your tires are inflated correctly. A few pounds less in the tires can build up a lot of heat in the tires. A blow out would not be on my list of things to have.
Enjoy your trip.