Travel Daydream: The Great US Road Trip

By Aussie on the Road on  15 Comments
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My US Love Affair

I can’t quite put into words what it is about the United States that draws me so. Is it the country’s boundless enthusiasm? The decadent food? The fact that each state (and even regions within each state) is so different? Is it the accent? The positive, can-do attitude of its people?

If my dating history is anything to go by, the girls might play a part.

In fact, both of my trips to the US now have been for romantic reasons. I hit Idaho, Oregon, Washington State, Nevada, and Arizona in 2009 with my then girlfriend.

I hit Maryland, Virginia, DC, New York, New Jersey, Florida, California, Washington State, Oregon, and Illinois in 2012 as part of my whirlwind romance with Nomadic American.

This time, however, I’ll be going with an Englishman who I have zero interest in bedding (Sorry Hogg).

My 50 State Challenge continues and I need your help!

What would you include on a month long LA to NYC US road trip itinerary?

The Plan

Our plan is pretty simple:

  • Rent a car;
  • Get travel insurance;
  • Consult with a specialist such as Motor Accident Legal Sevices about our options if anything goes wrong;
  • Eat delicious food;
  • Meet awesome people;
  • Drink responsibly;
  • See as much as humanly possible.

The US Road Trip Route

During next February’s Chinese New Year (one of the few lengthy breaks teachers in China get) my old friend and I are planning to rent a car and drive from Los Angeles to New York, hitting as many iconic or intriguing spots along the way as possible.

We’ve got a month to take it all in, and between hitting the obvious first time spots (for Hogg) and some new spots (for me), it ought to be an exciting trip.

We’re still working out the nuts and bolts now, but below you’ll see my proposed itinerary. I’ve yet to run it by the driver, mind >_>

us road trip west coast east coast
Image generated using Furkot, which is a fantastic resource for not only planinng a US road trip, but a road trip anywhere.

As you can see, there’s quite a few stops there. Some are for purely touristy reasons, some are so I can catch up with old friends (and flirt in person with my #1 travel blogging crush), and some are for something a little different.

Let’s break it down.

Stop #1 – Los Angeles

I didn’t love LA last time around and with the exception of a visit to Leo Carrillo Beach, it was a pretty forgettable few days in the City of Angels.

But if we’re going to land there, it makes sense that we at least see a bit of it. I’ve yet to do the cheesy Hollywood Walk of Fame thing, and I don’t have any pictures of me against the hazy backdrop of the Hollywood sign, either.

What are your LA suggestions?

Stop #2 – San Luis Obispo

Never heard of it? I certainly hadn’t!

But my #1 travel blogging crush, Where is Kait, insists that I pay her adorable little town a visit on my way up the California coast. Who am I to resists her charms or the charms of San Luis Obispo?

Stop #3 – San Francisco

Unlike LA, I really enjoyed my time in San Francisco in 2012. In addition to the thrill of riding across the Golden Gate Bridge, we also had a good time hanging out at Pier 39.

I’m sure there’s still a lot to see and do (and eat) in San Francisco, so I’m excited to pay the colourful city another visit.

What are your favourte things to do in San Francisco?

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

Stop #4 – Lake Tahoe

Two of my Shadows of Africa colleagues call Truckee home, and it would be madness to be driving through the area and not take them up on their offer of hospitality.

With our visit taking place in February, it might be finally time for me to bust my skiing/snowboarding cherry!

Stop #5 – Haunted Clown Hotel

Dani from Going Nomadic has written about Nevada’s spooky clown motel, and it’s inspired me to check it out as well.

While it won’t count as sleeping in a haunted place for my bucket list, how can I not spend a night in a place so deliciously creepy!

It also breaks up the lengthy drive between Lake Tahoe and Vegas nicely.

Stop #6 – Las Vegas

The Vegas! No boys’ US road trip would be complete without it.

I’ve written about Las Vegas quite a few times already, but it’s a place I really want to get back to.

In 2009 I went along with my girlfriend and her family, so I’ve yet to have a debaucherous boys weekend in Vegas.

This time, it’s totally happening. I am going to get drink drank drunk, eat 99c shrimp cocktails, and take in the lights and sights of sin city.

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.

Stop #7 – Grand Canyon

I’m going to offend patriots aross the US with this: but I was totally underwhelmed by the Grand Canyon when I visited in 2009.

Don’t get me wrong, it was undeniably beautiful, but it had been so built up in my head that I found it just a tad disappointing. Even catching it at sunset didn’t really sell me on its majesty.

But Hogg, first time US traveller that he is, would like to see it and I’m certainly happy to see if my landscape photography skills have improved since my last visit.

I hear the south side is the best. Any recommendations?

My former travel companion taking a break to soak in the view.
My former travel companion taking a break to soak in the view.

Stop #8 & 9 – Alburquerque & Amarillo

Here’s where out journey hits a bit of a dead spot (with all due respect to ABQ and Amarillo). There’s a long ass drive between Flagstaff and Austin, and it’s going to necessitate a couple of stops along the way for sleep, drinking beer etc.

At this point, the land of Breaking Bad and George Strait seem like the best spots, but I’m totally open to suggestions here.

Any New Mexicans and/or Texans care to weigh in? Hell, I’ll take advice from Arizonans too.

Stop #10 – Austin

The land of Leave Your Daily Hell, Austin just sounds like my kind of city. With its Portland-esque hipster culture, I’m sure my mammoth ginger beard and love for craft beer will fit right in.

Hogg had his heart set on Dallas, but I think I can sell him on heading to the weird side of Texas.

Stop #11 – New Orleans

We’re not going to be there at the right time of year to catch Mardi Gras, sadly. I’d have loved to check another of my most insane parties off the bucket list.

Still, I’m looking forward to wandering the French Quarter, eating some good Cajun food, and getting to know a little of the city’s history as well.

Stop #12 – Atlanta

I dated a Georgian once, and while she didn’t have that sweet southern drawl, she painted a pretty interesting picture of her home state. Between that and the fact my favourite photographer (JoyElan) has told me I have to visit, I thought I’d see if we couldn’t squeeze it in.

What is there to do in Atlanta?

Stop #13 – Nashville or Memphis

Country music or pro wrestling? Which of them will win our hearts?

It’s probably going to be Memphis, if we’re being honest. I don’t even think Hogg likes country music.

So, the land of Jerry Lawler is likely to be our next stopping off point.

Stop #14 – Chicago

My time in Chicago in 2012 was mostly spent attending a friend’s wedding, seeing The Dark Knight Rises, and doing all of the sad farewell stuff that is unavoidable at the end of a romantic trip.

I’ve yet to see The Bean, visit Wrigley Field, or trek to Shedd’s Aquarium; so there’s plenty  for us to do in the Windy City.

I might even try to visit a few filming locations from The League.

Hamming it up for the camera at my friend's Chicago wedding.
Hamming it up for the camera at my friend’s Chicago wedding.

Stop #15 – Detroit

I have no idea why Hogg wants to visit Detroit, but I’m willing to visit the Motor City if he is.

Stop #16 – Cleveland

I’ve been kind of keen on seeing the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for some time now, and since all I know about Cleveland comes from The Drew Carey Show, I’m totally open to suggestions.

Stop #17 – Washington DC

Despite calling Annapolis ‘home’ for two weeks in 2012, we only managed the one day trip to DC. A visit to the Smithsonian was certainly fun, but there’s a lot to still be seen and photographed in the US capital.

And I’m totalyl going back to Pub Dog.

Stop #18 – Philadelphia

If my 2012 DC visit was short, my lunch break at Gino’s and Pat’s in 2012 was barely a blip on the travel radar.

I also need to lick the Liberty Bell.

Stop #19 – New York City

I did New York City in 24 hours in 2012 – hitting Times Square, a show on Broadway, Central Park, and the Statue of Liberty in rapid succession.

With a few days to kill in the Big Apple, I’m hoping we can experience a little bit more of the city. I’m intrigued by New York’s speakeasies, and I’m sure there’s more below the surface to be explored too.

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.

Your Say

This itinerary is very much up in the air (aside from the start and finish points), so I’d love your suggestions!

What is on your dream US road trip itinerary?

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