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Suggestions for stopovers during roadtrip from GA to AZ?
May 8, 2011 7:05 PM   Subscribe

I'm about to embark on a solo cross-country roadtrip from Georgia to Southeastern Arizona- what are some cool/interesting places that I should check out along the way to break the monotony of travel?

http://www.google.com/maps/ms?doflg=ptm&ie=UTF8&msa=0&msid=204032245694180879928.0004a2cde71b7ca18d288&ll=32.063956,-89.384766&spn=14.702915,33.815918&t=h&z=6

this is the route that i'll be taking. I've got approximately 3 days to do 1900 miles or so (estimated at 31 hours total drive time), which I'll be breaking into 10 hour/day segments. I've also opted for a slightly less direct route (only tacked on about an hour to the total drive time), which will allow me to pass through Austin, TX and be closer to the coast.
I'm looking for any interesting roadside attractions, awesome restaurants, neat quick tourist sites, etc. that'll keep me from going insane! Any and all suggestions are very welcome.
Also any other suggestions pertaining to staying sane/not falling asleep at the wheel/saving some money along the way are likewise welcome.

I embark on the 15th, so help me out guys!
posted by robobrent to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
also, any particularly scenic routes that aren't terribly out of the way, would be awesome to know about.
posted by robobrent at 7:06 PM on May 8, 2011


Graceland (Memphis, TN). The Alamo (San Antonio, TX). Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument (NM). White Sands National Monument (NM).
posted by holterbarbour at 7:24 PM on May 8, 2011


Saw the route. Scratch Graceland and the Alamo; how about adding New Orleans?
posted by holterbarbour at 7:26 PM on May 8, 2011


Having made the trip from Austin across the 10 to Arizona several times, there's a few attractions but most fall into the "meh" category and I would just keep the cruise control on and motoring down the highway. I find the desert beautiful, but after hours and hours it can get monotonous. For me, I'd like to stop from time to time and get out and stretch my legs and grab a bite or a drink.

In Van Horn, TX there's a restaurant called Chuy's that shouldn't be confused with the Austin TexMex restaurants whose claim to fame was John Madden would stop there on his trips across the country when he'd be traveling for his football gigs. There's a shrine there. The food I found to be blah.

Close to where you'll turn off for Sierra Blanca, there's an attraction called THE THING which after dozens of times of driving by -- or stopping for the adjoining Dairy Queen -- I finally decide to check out. It was a bunch of crap and the reveal was... actually I forgot. Good DQ Blizzard though.
posted by birdherder at 7:27 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Check out the state maps on Roadside America for cool, quirky things on your route. For example, Paisano Pete (a large roadrunner sculpture) in Fort Stockton, Texas, is only maybe a mile or so from the interstate. You'll find a ton of other stuff and you can pick and choose what interests you and what you have time to do.

I actually think West Texas in general is pretty awesome. I don't know if you have time to explore, though. You really have to get off the interstate to see the really cool stuff, like the whole town of Marfa, Texas. Along similar lines, I would recommend Avery Island, Louisiana (home of Tabasco), but again, I just don't think you'll have a chance since it's not directly on the interstate.

On the Mississippi coast, I recommend the town of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, home to the Walter Anderson Museum and Shearwater Pottery. Ocean Springs is actually right on the interstate so you could duck in and duck out. Then again, you may not really have time to see anything.

Driving 10 hours a day, you're not going to have a lot of time for real city visits (Austin, NOLA, etc) -- IMO on a long road trip, it's usually not worth it to deal with traffic, getting into town, parking (who knows where for who knows how much money) and then seeing something for five seconds before you have to get back in the car. At most you'll be able to do a quick drive-by viewing. 10 hour days are long; you're not going to have a lot of energy to do anything very involved. Roadside stuff like Paisano Pete, though, will help to break up the monotony of everything, give you a chance to stretch your legs, etc.

I've driven to 45 states and have done most of your route, so feel free to memail me if you have more specific Qs...
posted by hansbrough at 7:42 PM on May 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, also, as for staying sane, I do recommend books on tape, podcasts, etc. HOWEVER, if it starts getting monotonous and you feel sleepy, you just have to take a break. Falling asleep at the wheel can totally happen and you cannot let it. My best tip if you're really getting bored (you will have some pretty long stretches of nothingness on this route) and feeling drowsy, but you don't want to stop and sleep is to get off the road, get out of the car, and do some jumping jacks or run a few laps to get the blood flowing. Stop pretty frequently (every 2 hours or so at least) and stretch/run around/eat something.
posted by hansbrough at 7:47 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Since you're passing through Houston, I'll recommend the Menil Collection as a place to get out and walk around. Park for free in the lot on the south side of West Alabama, and (again for free) go inside to look just at their Surrealism gallery then outside and cross the street to the Cy Twombly gallery. It's a quiet, cool place to stretch your legs for half an hour and probably the most interesting "quick" tourist site in Houston. The Rothko Chapel is on the same site--a place for your moment of Zen or whatever. There are many, many good restaurants within a mile of there, though they won't be obvious right at that spot.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 8:05 PM on May 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Not a specific suggestion, but I recommend doing Texas at night. When I did my around the country trip and drove across Texas, the freeway sides were swarmed with hundreds and hundreds of rabbits. It was amaaaazing (coming from a rabbit lover). They never really crossed the road, just chilled on the side. So cool. I wish I had stopped to take some pictures.

As for staying awake on the road, I found music that I can sing along all the words to to be the most helpful, no matter what genre.

For driving cheap, buy all your food at a grocery store, not a gas station, fast food place, etc. and use cruise control to save on gas. Dessert driving= hot temps and hot temps=better mileage as well.
posted by fuzzysoft at 8:10 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whoops, scratch the Menil--if you're leaving on the 15th, I'm afraid they'll be closed that Monday and Tuesday, as usual. That's a shame, because nothing else really comes to mind that's so nice and easy to do as a quick stop in Houston.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 8:19 PM on May 8, 2011


About 45 minutes SE of Willcox, AZ is the entrance to the Chiricahua National Park where you can do a quick drive through and still see some awesome rock formations. But if can, take a short hike or visit Faraway Ranch.

Between Willcox and Benson you'll pass through Texas Canyon, with more interesting rock formations. Another good place to stop and stretch.

When you head south from I-10 on hwy 90 to get to Sierra Vista, you'll be going right past Kartchner Caverns.
posted by kbar1 at 8:56 PM on May 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Kerrville, Tx, is home to Mooney Aircraft. If you are so inclined, see if they still give factory tours.
posted by coffeefilter at 9:03 PM on May 8, 2011


10 hours a day is a lot of driving. If you're driving solo you'll be exhausted. Even with someone to share the wheel, you won't have time to spend several hours at a stop really exploring. I'd want at least 7 days to really enjoy a drive like yours. 3 days won't be awful, but it's not much room for sightseeing.

Mobile is a surprisingly nice town. Hit up Wintzell's for a delicious, casual meal of local oysters and cajun cooking.

I'd blow right through Houston. It's a great city with a lot to do, but not conducive to a quick stop. If you do want to stop for a meal, El Real Tex Mex was pretty good when I was there last week.

If you add 15 minutes to your route from Houston to Austin you'll go through Lockhart, TX, the capital of barbeque. There are four excellent options there: Kreuz's, Smitty's, Chisolm Trail, and Black's. I opted for Black's and had terrific brisket and some of the best smoked sausage I've ever had in my life.

Fredricksburg, west of Austin, is a cute tourist town. Lots of German heritage on display and to eat. West of there to El Paso is a whole lot of nothing. Fort Stockton is the biggest town on the route, I believe. A detour south to Marfa would show you lots of interesting art and weirdness that Marfa is famous for, but it's a good way out of your way. It'll be hot.

There's not much in New Mexico on your route, either, the pretty parts of the state are further north. Las Cruces is a real city. A detour to White Sands is worth the trip, but will take you at least half a day. Your timing may be perfect: White Sands is open for overnight camping on full moons. If the idea appeals to you call and check. It's phenomenally beautiful at night, white sand below and white moon above.

Bring lots of water, a gallon or two a person. On I-10 there's enough cars you won't be in trouble even if the car breaks down. But it's hot. Very hot.
posted by Nelson at 7:22 AM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just finished a big road trip this weekend. I really wished I had read up on the route at Roadside America so I would have had some chance of knowing what the weird things I saw from the highway were, and been ready to take a picture of several Michelin Men along the route.
posted by Jaie at 8:45 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


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