From San Francisco to New York: The Great US Road Trip

By Aussie on the Road on  10 Comments
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It’s happening! It’s really happening!

It doesn’t seem so long ago that I was writing about my daydream of someday driving across the United States, but that was last August and suddenly I’m exactly two weeks away from making it a reality.

That’s right – the Great US Road Trip from San Francisco to New York City is happening and it starts on January 29th!

Along with my trusty cameraman and drinking buddy, I’ll be spending five weeks across fifteen cities, tackling local landmarks and eating all of the things in the process.

The entire trip couldn’t have happened without the tireless work of Zorica from EuroTribe. She’s been a dervish contacting potential partners and helping me keep track of my comings and goings.

Want to follow along? I’ll be giving daily updates on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Periscope with the #GreatUSRoadTrip hashtag!

The Great US Road Trip: January 29 to March 6, 2016

The process of driving from San Francisco to New York is a pretty daunting one at the best of times, but especially when you’re having to cram it into the five week Chinese New Year vacation so that your driver/camera man/friend can join the fun.

san francisco to new york road trip
The itinerary in all of its squiggly glory!

With the help of hundreds of friends and well-wishers across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, we’ve come up with an itinerary that we think covers the best that the US offers without the aid of snow chains or extra layers.

I’ve managed to link up with a number of fantastic partner tour operators and hotels along the way to help bring the trip to life, and I can’t wait to share the highs and lows of five weeks of virtually non-stop travel with you!

If you’re inspired by this post and want to emulate our feat, don’t forget to insure your rental car and keep your vehicle clean. There’s nothing worse at the end of a vacation than being hit with cleaning fees!

ford mustang convertible
Oh yeah, and we got a Mustang!

January 31 – February 3 – San Francisco, California

I last visited the City by the Bay back in 2012, spending an afternoon on Pier 39 and riding to Sausalito with Blazing Saddles. I felt an immediate attachment to San Francisco, which very much reminded me of my own favourite city in Australia – Sydney.

Taking a break from my ride from San Francisco to Sausalito.
Taking a break from my ride from San Francisco to Sausalito.

My San Francisco return not only sees me spending a few days with the enchanting Cherie from Flight of the Travel Bee, but will also see me exploring the city and nearby Alcatraz on a pair of tours courtesy of The Urban Safari and Streets of San Francisco.

While in the city, I’ll be spending a few nights at the swank Hotel Carlton before re-visiting HI San Francisco City Centre to learn more about how HI is encouraging inclusive, tolerant travel through its fun tours and unique hostels.

Partners: HI San Francisco City Centre, The Urban Safari, Streets of San Francisco Bike Tours, and The Hotel Carlton.

February 3 – 5 – San Luis Obispo, California

A drive down the Pacific Coast Highway to photograph Big Sur and Bixby Bridge might add a few more hours to our travel time, but I speak from experience when I say that the views are totally worth it.

bixby bridge highway one big sur
America’s second or thirst most photographed bridge, Bixby Bridge.

Our next port of call will be the couch of the divine Where is Kait?, who will also be acting as our guide for our time in the city recently voted the Happiest in America.

February 5 – 7 – Los Angeles, California

We make our way to the City of Angels with low expectations, as travellers have been almost universal in their dismissal of Tinsel Town as a stop on our trip.

I spent my last trip to LA dining with Disney Princesses and visiting the beautiful Leo Carrillo Beach, so this time around we’ll be seeing all of the iconic LA sights with the All of LA in a Day tour.

Disney Princess and I
Sleeping Beauty teaches me how to stand like a prince at California Adventure

It might be a bit of cliche, but I can’t make my second visit to LA and not have seen the Hollywood sign, Venice Beach, or Beverly Hills. It just wouldn’t be cricket!

Partners: Dunes Inn Sunset and LA Insider Tours.

February 7 – 10 – San Diego, California

With a few extra days to kill thanks to the Super Bowl forcing us to rearrange our trip, we thought we’d duck down to San Diego to see whether the famous San Diego Zoo is all it’s cracked up to be.

While in San Diego, we’ll also be taking a food tour and, if time allows, ducking across the border to Tijuana.

What are your San Diego recommendations?

Partners: Bite San Diego and La Jolla Wine Tours.

February 10 – 13 – Las Vegas, Nevada

I’ve written at length about Las Vegas in the past, but despite having spent almost a week there in 2009 – our couples trip of live shows and sight-seeing didn’t quite do Sin City justice.

I'm sure they've missed me as much as I've missed them.
I’m sure they’ve missed me as much as I’ve missed them.

This time around, you best believe we’ll be doing our best to emulate The Hangovcr with the able guidance of Dani from Going Nomadic and Diane from D Travels Round.

Based out of the Tropicana and right on The Strip, you’d best believe we’re going to be enjoying every shrimp cocktail, buffet breakfast, and cheap drink we can get our hands on.

It won’t all be debauchery and dice however, as we’ll be heading out of the city for a day to see the ghost towns such as Chloride and El Dorado.

Partners: Tropicana Las Vegas, Speed Vegas, and Vegas Insider Tours.

February 13 – 15 – Flagstaff & The Grand Canyon, Arizona

I’ve spoken recently on Facebook about how I was a tad underwhelmed by the Grand Canyon during my visit in 2009, and it seems that the general consensus is that it really needs to be hiked to be appreciated.

grand canyon sunset
In hindsight, the Grand Canyon wasn’t half bad…

With snow falling on the canyon and creating some pretty photos of late, I’m not sure hiking is a possibility – but I’m definitely prepared to give the world’s largest canyon a second chance.

February 15 – 16 – Sante Fe, New Mexico

When I asked for pit-stops for the long drive between Flagstaff and Austin, the cries of Sante Fe were hard to ignore. The New Mexican capital has been heaped with praise by my readers and friends, so it had to be included on the itinerary.

While we’ve really only got time for dinner, breakfast, and a quick look around, I’m excited to see what all of the fuss is about.

February 16 – 17 – Carlsbad, New Mexico

Will Carlsbad Caverns match up to Australia’s Jenolan Caves? We’ll soon see!

Another popular recommendation for a stop along the way to Austin, Carlsbad’s famous caves are firmly in my sights.

February 17 – 20 – Austin, Texas

My travel companion originally wanted to visit Dallas, but the hype surrounding Austin’s hipster vibe were just too hard to ignore. We’ll be breezing into the home town of Over Yonderlust and Nick’s Travel Bug with a pretty empty dance card, so I’d love your recommendations.

We will (of course) sample the local food and beer with an Austin Detours tour.

Partners: Austin Detours.

February 20 – 23 – New Orleans, Louisiana

We arrive just a week or so late to enjoy the Mardi Gras, but I’m still very excited to wander Bourbon Street and soak in the ambience of The Big Easy with a few leisurely days in the city.

We’ll be working off some of the beer and food calories with a Free Wheelin’ Bike Tour of the city, but the rest of our time there is a bit of a blank slate.

Partners: Site 61 and Free Wheelin’ Bike Tours

February 23 – 25 – Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta wasn’t a popular inclusion on the itinerary, but I’m excited to have the chance to meet up with some of my favourite bloggers and travel photographers along the way.

We’ll also be taking a bicycle tour in an effort to fight the inevitable US road trip weight gain.

Partners: Bicycle Tours of Atlanta.

February 25 – 27 – Nashville, Tennessee

The country music capital of the world is one I’m really excited about visiting.

While others have insisted we instead visit Asheville or Greenville, I couldn’t resist the chance to indulge my long-distance love affair with country music by visiting the city where it all gets made.

We’ll be taking a tour of music row with Nash Trash Tours, but otherwise have a full day to enjoy the sights (and sounds) of the city.

Partners: Hotel Preston and Nash Trash Tours.

February 27 – 29 – Washington, DC

My last visit to DC was a brief one that saw me make a hit and run at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum before returning to Annapolis.

capitol washington
Looking awkward in front of a famous building.

This time around, we’ve got a pair of bases in the city (care of Modus Hotels) and a bit more time to see what the city has to offer.

Aside from the obligatory photos out front of the various memorials and the White House, what would you recommend?

HotelsOne Washington CircleAvenue Suites and Carpe DC Food Tours.

February 29 – March 2 – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I’ll be eating the Philly Cheese Steaks for two since my travel companion is a filthy vegetarian, but our time in Philly is otherwise a blank slate.

philadelphia pats philly cheese steak
Another photo of me standing awkwardly in front of something. Oh, and Pat’s > Geno’s

What are your favourite things to do in the City of Brotherly Love?

And yes, I do intend to pretend that I’m going to lick the Liberty Belly.

Partners: The Philadelphia House and Philadelphia Urban Adventures.

March 2 – March 6 – New York, New York

The final stop is the City That Never Sleeps, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Nomadic American and I preparing to explore Central Park on a tandem bike.
Nomadic American and I preparing to explore Central Park on a tandem bike.

While the Big Apple is likely to be cold and miserable when we breeze into town, I’m still determined to catch a show on Broadway and see a bit more of the city that so enchanted me when I last spent 24 hours in New York.

From there, it’s time to pack as much Captain Crunch into my suitcase as possible for the long trek back to Australia.

Partners: HI New York City.

Your Say

What do you think?

Any cardinal sins?

Any hot tips for one of the places we have included?

In one of these cities and want to grab a beer or a bite? Let me know!

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