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lilikoi's avatar

Have you ever done an American road trip?

Asked by lilikoi (10031 points ) February 8th, 2010

Across a bunch of states in the U.S.? Where did you start and end? Why did you go? What did you stop to see and do along the way? Have you ever driven across the U.S.-Mexican border, through Mexico and down to Central or South America?

I’m thinking about doing one soon, and would love to hear stories…having a hard time eliminating states from trip…I’m also considering driving thru Mexico but have heard bad things about driving there solo.

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25 Answers

squidcake's avatar

When I was really little my parents took us on a road trip. We live in Southern California and we drove across all of the Southwest (Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico) then moved all the way up through Montana and ended in Yellowstone National Park (which is BEAUTIFUL).

The Southwest in general is a really interesting place to drive through, but then again some places up North might be nice as well.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

We did this every year as a kid. My dad had a job where everyone took factory shut-down for two weeks, and then he’d take three weeks vacation. We did the West, the northeast, and the South. It was lots of fun. We’d stay in cheap motels, or sometimes we’d camp out in the car.

deni's avatar

When I was 12 I went with my mom and her boyfriend on a trip from Pennsylvania over to Iowa, up to Minnesota then we zigzagged all around the Dakotas, Wyoming, and Montana. It was amazing. Even at a young age I was easily able to appreciate how much beauty I saw. The Badlands were gorgeous, and Mt. Rushmore and the Black Hills and Crazy Horse are in that area too. Yellowstone Park blew my mind too. That was a good trip.

2 years ago my friend and I drove from PA on I-70 straight to Colorado, then we went down through NM and AZ and Utah, went to California and hit Death Valley, then San Francisco, down the Pacific Coast Highway to Los Angeles and San Diego, then we went east pretty much right along the Mexican border. We didn’t go to Mexico though. We went through Texas and our last stop was New Orleans before we went north back home. It was an awesome trip. My favorite parts were the Rocky Mountains (even though at that point in our trip our brakes were almost shot…so scary lol) and San Francisco. New Orleans was neat but we didn’t spend much time there. And Kansas back roads near Topeka were actually quite beautiful as well.

Then last April my dad and I drove from PA to Tucson to visit my brother. That was a fuckin cool trip too. We went to White Sands NP in southern New Mexico. That was so beautiful…I think about it often. Bright white sand and bright blue skies. It was unreal. And only $3 to get into! We did alot of traveling around Arizona, including the Sedona area where we did a lot of hiking and camping, and that was cool and beautiful as well. We went to the Grand Canyon again, Hoover Dam (which I think is a lot cooler than you would think it was if you haven’t seen it with your own eyes), and finally Monument Valley. I LOVED Monument Valley. Then again, I love the desert more than most people. The ride back didn’t bring anything exciting.

Also last summer I flew to San Francicso then got a ride from there to Denver, and that drive along I-50 and I-70 was lovely as well. We didn’t stop anywhere…because we were with a total stranger, lol….but it was so isolated and gorgeous.

I think the southwest is the most interesting part of the country. There is such variety in the landscapes….mountains, deserts, farmland, grassy hills, then ocean! It’ll be warm and pleasant…and you should do it.

I have lots of pics on my Flickr account, there’s a link in my profile

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I take mini-road trips all the time.12 hour drive to the Outer Banks was the furthest I’ve gone solo.I rented a beach house for 2 weeks and had a blast.My neighbors were a chef,a “fish guy” musicians annnndddd. a brewmeister.! thought I had died and went to heaven :)

SeventhSense's avatar

When I was 10 we went from NY to California in a camper zig zagging across the country hitting Rushmore, old Faithful, Grand Canyon and about 35 states. I tried to pick up a reptile in every state my mothering generally tossing them out the back door on the side of some highway. It was 4 kids my mother and grandmother. When we returned home my parents divorced. I found out later she had told my father to be out of the house by the time she returned in August. Mom was a real shrinking violet ~

simone54's avatar

In 2007 I started the adventure of my life. From South Jersey I drove to my brother’s house near Raleigh, NC. Good times. There was plenty of good looking college girls.

Then to Atlanta, where I almost got lost in the ghetto then didn’t find anything cool there.

From ATL to New Orleans. New Orleans was awesome and had the best food from the whole trip.

Then it was on to Dallas, TX. I stayed at the Fairmont, very nice and affordable. Surprisingly Dallas very nice and clean and I found cool street with bars filled with younger people. (I also stopped by the new Cowboys stadium and cursed it in my own way)

Drove the pan handle to Amarillo. Don’t go there. Except for the really cool receptionist at the Best Western, it was completely lame.

Then it was on ABQ, NM. Didn’t get a chance to do anything but it was pretty nice.

There… alright I don’t feel like doing this anymore and you’re not even reading it. Grand Canyon to Vegas to LA to San Diego. Done!

Mamradpivo's avatar

I’ve seen a lot of great sites around this old nation of ours:

-The Stonewall Jackson Shrine in VA, where said general died after being shot by his own soldiers.
-America’s largest wooden fish, somewhere in Wisconsin
-The Hearst Castle in San Simeon, CA
-Carhenge in a farm in Nebraska (this was a two-day trip with camping from Denver)
-the field near Clear Lake Iowa where Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper died
-Some big hole in the ground in Arizona

trailsillustrated's avatar

it’s really fun. you can visit all the old musuems in the sweet little towns. I love the really old, sweet little towns in the west and midwest.

deni's avatar

I love ghost towns and old western-like towns. They fascinate me to no end. South Dakota, Wyoming, and those states up there are good for that.

I can’t wait til I have enough time and money to do a cross country road trip where I don’t spend a single minute on an interstate, and instead am on backroads the whole time.

Oh! Yeah….The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson is a great book to read if you’re gonna do a trip across the states.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I’ve made six coast-to-coast moves in the past forty years, and driven myself (sometimes not ‘just’ myself) each time. Does that count? I was being paid for the time I spent on the road, so I didn’t have time to make it a vacation-style road trip, but none of the trips were nonstop, either.

Arisztid's avatar

I rode from Auburn, California to El Cajon, California on a motorcycle in one sitting… 720 miles and 12 hours with only gas and bathroom breaks.

That is all in one State but 720 miles would cover quite a few States.

The closest I have done to an actual American road trip was spending a few days with my father traveling up and down California (north to south), seeing Yellowstone, some ghost towns, and all the goodies. I was too young to remember much.

Arisztid's avatar

Oh I met this British lady once who was doing an American road trip.

She had slightly underestimated the size of America. She had planned a week for a leisurely cross country, zig zaggy, seeing all the sights tour of America.

JLeslie's avatar

I do not recommend driving through Mexico. The cops take bribes all of the time, and if you are not familar with what they expect it could be very negative. If you are stopped in a smaller town there is a good chance they won’t speak English (maybe you speak Spanish and that wouldn’t matter?). But, having American plates makes you a target I think.

Driving through upstate NY and New England is fantastic. The finger lakes, Lake George, and you could go up into Canada (I know this is the opposite direction from what you are thinking) Montrael and Quebec City are great Cities, Quebec City is very quaint, very French..

I agree that San Diego, maybe Vegas for a night, Valley of fire and Hoover Dam are great as mentioned above.

If you are going to be near Memphis and Arkansas, The Clinton library/museum is fantastic if you are interested in him as a president, and Graceland is a must see once in your life. You can go on to Nashville from there, and then more east in TN there is white water rafting that I have not done yet, Gatlinburg, and then into NC The Appalachian Mountains, ending at the coast if you want some beach time, or up to Washington DC. If you have never been to the capital it is a great city to visit, especially during cherry blossom, although it might be very crowded.

JLeslie's avatar

@Arisztid You’re kidding right?

Cruiser's avatar

I did Chicago to LA one summer and another Chicago to Abilene TX….I seem to like to drive to places hotter than hell in the middle of summer!

Yetanotheruser's avatar

In 1977 my GF at the time and I sold everything that would not fit into a van and took off to find America. We started just southwest of Chicago, stopped in St. Louis for a few weeks, then worked our way over to San Diego. We stayed in San Diego for about three months. I wanted to move on, she wanted to stay. It was her van, so I hitch-hiked back, going up the coast to San Francisco and back over to Illinois. That was when my dad told me to stop coming home broke!

MissAusten's avatar

I love road trips!

When I was in high school, a friend of mine invited me to go with her family on their annual road trip. They drove somewhere every summer, and that year decided to visit Boston and New York. We started out in Indiana, spent one night in PA, and first went to NYC. We only spent a day there, but saw the Statue of Liberty and went up in the Empire State Building. We then went to Boston, where my friend talked her parents into trying to find the childhood home of her favorite New Kid on the Block. We spent the night at a decent hotel, ate lobster, and tried to find the bar from Cheers but got lost. After that, we spent a day in Salem, MA, walking around to see the sights. On the drive back, we stayed in Scranton, PA. Not much to see there. I think driving through PA and OH has to be about the most boring drive possible.

In college, I drove from Indiana to TX a few times. First, to visit a friend of our that had moved out there when she married a guy who was stationed at Fort Hood. We didn’t stop to see much on the way, but I loved San Antonio. Another time I drove from Indiana to South Padre, TX, for spring break. We went as far as Texarkana and spent the night. Tennessee was very pretty to drive through, and Arkansas was very strange. It seemed to have a large number of flea markets, and we once saw a pickup truck driving down the highway, dragging a dead deer. We had a picnic lunch at a park along with a six pack of beer. Finished the beer as we drove across Arkansas, which only made the drive more bizarre. We went on to Houston where we met up with some friends and spent the night. The next day we drove down to South Padre, and spent a few days there having an absolute blast. A lot of people were talking about taking a bus trip to Mexico, but since we had a car we decided to drive there. Like idiots, we weren’t expecting the road signs in Mexico to be in Spanish. We got across the border and had no idea where to go or where to even park. We drove in a big circle, ended up back in line to cross into the US again, and decided that was enough of an adventure for us. We took some interesting pictures from the car window, but never actually set foot in Mexico. We went back to Houston for two more nights with our friends, then drove straight through to Indiana.

I’ve also made the trip from CT to IN since I’ve lived out here. It’s not a very exciting drive, but then my goal was always to just get from one place to another and not find places to visit along the way. I liked the road trips out west better, but now that I live along the east coast I also like driving in this area. We’ve been up to Vermont, upstate NY, a few places in MA, and it’s always very pretty. This spring we are driving to SC with the kids, and since I’ve never been there I am really excited about it. I love road trips, just because I never get bored of looking out of the windows at the scenery (except in PA and OH!).

I’d like to see more of the western states besides TX, but I think I’d fly from here to at least Chicago, then drive. That way I can bypass PA and OH. ;)

jonsblond's avatar

Road trips are the only way of travel for me. I was six months old when I went on my first road trip with my family. There were six children and my parents stuffed into a station wagon on a trip from Illinois to Colorado. I get to hear the lovely stories from my sister Paige about the timing of my poop diapers. Whenever it was her turn to change my diaper she got the lovely surprise.

When I was growing up in Las Vegas my father would take us on his business trips to Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Lake Tahoe or San Diego. We went on a road trip at least twice a year. When I was twelve we traveled from Vegas to Illinois to visit relatives.

My favorite road trip was when I moved back home to Illinois from San Luis Obispo, CA. I traveled with a friend that was also moving to Illinois. We traveled along Interstate 80. Our first night we stayed in Winnemucca, NV, we made it to Cheyenne, WY the second night, then made it to central Illinois the final night. The stretch of Interstate from Tahoe to Cheyenne is absolutely beautiful! Two weeks after my arrival in Illinois I went with three friends (my husband was one of them) to Washington DC and then on to New York. So technically I traveled across country and back to Illinois within 3 weeks. I loved DC, thought that New York smelled terrible and couldn’t believe that you had to pay to set foot on a beach in Jersey.

My favorite area of the states to travel by car is Wisconsin and the UP of Michigan. The people are very friendly, the food at the local cafes is delicious and filling, and the scenery is amazing.

JLeslie's avatar

To piggy back on what @jonsblond wrote at the end, Michigan has some great places to see. Where the UP meats the LP you will find Mackinac Island (pronounced mack-in-aw) does not allow any motorized vehicles, so you have to take a ferry from the main land and, everything is walking, bicycling, and horseback riding or horse drawn carriages on the island. The Great Lakes are beautiful. If you have never been, it is hard to imagine that it is like being at the ocean, since generally our idea of lakes are much different. The Ford Museum outside of Detroit is very good, you can get lost in there for two days it has so much to see. Not too far away is Chicago and then you can go down to St Louis, see the arch, and continue south to Memphis, AR, TX.

Personally, I don’t like to drive more than 6 hours a day.

mattbrowne's avatar

Plenty. Love Utah and Arizona.

candide's avatar

I’ve been everywhere, man – even Alaska and Hawaii – on the road!

Yetanotheruser's avatar

I’m planning a road trip for this summer or next, from Chicago to LA via Historic Route 66. I grew up in rural Illinois near the original, and I remember a lot of the history.

jonsblond's avatar

@Yetanotheruser I think that is the best way to see this country. Have fun!

Yetanotheruser's avatar

I hope to be able to at least take my n 10-y/o and rent an RV. We started talking about it last summer when we visited my sister who lived near this roadside attraction.

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