How can I make the most of my I-10 roadtrip?
July 26, 2009 2:28 PM   Subscribe

I'll be making a 4-day road trip along I-10 from Corona, CA to Pensacola, FL at the end of August. What are the must-do or must see places along the way that aren't more than an hour detour from the interstate? Any food or restaurants along the way I'd be crazy to miss?
posted by pupperduck to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The only suggestion that I would make is to be very careful driving on I-10 while in Louisiana. It is so well noted for the speed traps. Don't exceed the limit by even one mile.
posted by JayRwv at 2:39 PM on July 26, 2009

Start with these previous threads:
Advice for Driving I-10 along the Gulf Coast?

Also, read some of the Houston threads for a list of things to do/places to eat in this area.
posted by chrisamiller at 2:53 PM on July 26, 2009

Cattleman's Steakhouse at Indian Cliffs, near El Paso, TX. Mmmmmm, Mmmmmm! Some good eats! The 2 pound T-bone they call The Cowboy is a little over the top, but will keep you going all the way across Texas...
posted by paulsc at 2:54 PM on July 26, 2009

I do hope your car has air conditioning! If not, you'll sure as hell wish it did.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 2:58 PM on July 26, 2009


I have made your drive recently over a similar time period. I am sure there are any number of things that you should see, particularly noted in the above threads; however, my best advice to you is to not eat at a chain restaurant at all costs. Experience the places you are through the food and you will never regret it.

Also, don't forget to look up while traveling through the deserts at night.
posted by 2legit2quit at 3:50 PM on July 26, 2009

1) From El Paso to San Antonio, towns are very far apart, so make sure you have gas/supplies/food, and are able to drive until you hit the next town. Also, stop at Cooper B-B-Q in Junction, Texas.

World's 3rd largest fire hydrant
posted by j1950 at 4:04 PM on July 26, 2009

If you afford to take a great big chunk out of a day, Space Center Houston is worth the visit. It's easy to get to from I-10, too. If you go, all the IMAX movies you care to watch are part of the admission price, so plan accordingly.
posted by zinfandel at 4:25 PM on July 26, 2009

As an experienced roadtripper, I have to tell you that your deadline leaves essentially no time for exploration.

Four days is about the minimum time you need to drive that distance. Google says it's something like 35 hours. 35 hours by 4 days is 8.5 hours a day. 9 hours of interstate driving a day is a long time, even if you love to drive. Once you include your overhead of getting up of a morning, a couple of meals, restroom stops, etc. you're probably looking at about 12 hours a day taken up by the process of traveling.

If you go an hour off the highway (as your question suggests), you're looking at a minimum of two hours extra. Add in another hour actually seeing the sight you've driven to, three hours. You could, perhaps, make one or two of these diversions in your entire trip without jeopardizing your arrival date.

Basically, I agree with 2legit2quit: eat local food instead of chain stuff. You have to eat anyway, and in most of the towns between the CA border and the LA border, you can see everything there is to offer from the exit ramp.
posted by Netzapper at 6:06 PM on July 26, 2009

In Tucson, AZ, stop at Rigo's Mexican Food at 4th and 36th, only about a mile from the freeway. The food is excellent, the service has always been very courteous and attentive, and these people have a pride about their restaurant like you'll rarely see anywhere else, which to me is as much of a draw as anything else.

To add to j1950's comment, I wouldn't let your tank get below half, especially in west Texas. Exits can be 40 miles apart, and not all of them have services. If you let your tank run too low, and then Big Tex's Gas 'n Go is closed for some odd reason, you're screwed. It is highly advisable as well to carry 5 gallons of water with you. Some for the car, and some for you. Two hours waiting for a tow truck in 105 degree heat is pure hell when you didn't bring enough water. Trust me on that.
posted by azpenguin at 10:48 PM on July 26, 2009

My 18 and 22 year olds did this trip last January.

They had a ball at some roadside tourist trap with ostriches to feed and a mystery something or other.
Went ice skating in Phoenix.
Were at Riverwalk in San Antonio on New Year's Eve.
Visited the Tabasco factory and loved it.
Visited the French Quarter and ate beignets in New Orleans.
Also did a swamp tour, which was a little duller that they cared for.

But they had a week.

And they're young.
posted by SLC Mom at 11:59 PM on July 26, 2009

Once you're in Pensacola, drive another hour east into Fort Walton Beach/Destin. It's nicer and a lot more rural/private/miles and miles of beaches w/ nobody.

If you're really feeling saucy, drive another 30 mins past that to Grayton Beach, which is stupendous.

In Pensacola, go to the NAS Museum. The road to fort Pickens should be open by now. Drive that. Also drive the gulf stretch that goes from Pensacola to Navarre. 7 miles of 2 lane running the gulf with nothing but sand and blue water. Such an awesome road. To bad it disappears every single time there's a hurricane.

Actually, on the way east, drive the highway thru Gulf Port that runs along the Gulf. It's pretty, but it'll give you a first hand view of the devestation of Katrina. It's cleaned up, but the number of driveways leading to nowhere/empty foundations/land for sale will blow your mind.

And for the best oysters in that general area, just inside fort walton beach, you'll cross over the Brooks Bridge, right past that bridge on the gulf-side is a little place called High Tide. Everything there is amazing.
posted by TomMelee at 5:52 AM on July 27, 2009

Thank you all for your great answers. Now I'm thinking of stretching it out by another couple of days if I can, so I have a bit more time to explore!
posted by pupperduck at 2:30 PM on July 27, 2009

Yeah, try to stretch it out. Before I took a cross-country camping trip, the best advice I heard was to stray off the highways and drive side roads when possible. Otherwise, it's an endless loop of Stuckeys and billboards.
posted by heather-b at 8:16 AM on July 28, 2009

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