Road Trip from RI to CO
June 25, 2012 6:57 AM   Subscribe

[Road Trip] My sister and I are road tripping from RI to Colorado, along a southern-ish route. What are some cool cities, landmarks, or things to do we should make sure to check out along the way?

My sister and I are gearing up for our second road trip across the country, first when she moved to California and now when I move to Aspen, Colorado. We previously took the northern route through Chicago and South Dakota so we are thinking to take a more southern route this time.

Our interests are less in regular tourist stops and more in things that are culturally unique to the places we are stopping. We are particularly interested in nature and alternative communities.

I was thinking to make it as far south as Raleigh, North Carolina before going westward through Tennessee. Any recommended stops along the way? After Tennessee I'm not sure which direction to travel. We would love to visit Austin, though it's rather out of the way, seeing as we're trying to do this in 9 or 10 days. Maybe through Oklahoma, the upper part of Texas, and then New Mexico before heading back north?

Please let me know any and all recommendations, you were all very helpful last time we did this.

posted by masters2010 to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total)
Asheville, NC.
posted by quodlibet at 7:14 AM on June 25, 2012

If you take 40 there are some really fun things to do.

1. Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg TN. We have friends in the area, and the Smoky Mountains are beautiful! You can go full on tourist if you like, with Dollywood, Gatlinburg, and whatnot. You can also take a drive into the Smokys and see Cade's Cove, which is just plain awesome. There are beautiful hikes, nature trails, scenic lookouts or just drive from Gatilinburg through to Cherokee. (Gamble if you like, sit in a stream if you don't.)

2. Nashville. It's either your deal or it isn't. You can go to the Ryman Autotorium, or see the Grand Ole Opry. There's a tacky-ass Parthenon, that's worth a look. Has some seriously terrible artwork in there. Walk around downtown, check out Ernest Tubbs Record Store.

3. Memphis. Graceland, the Memphis Zoo, or go to Tunica, MS (to gamble.)

Then, there's Oklahoma City, Amarillo, TX, Albuquerque, NM, Sante Fe, NM. And then up through Denver, and Bob's your uncle there you are.

At some point, no matter what route you take, you're going to go across the vast expanse of TX/OK. No matter, when you're on I 40, it's pretty much Old Route 66. So you have that going for you.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:16 AM on June 25, 2012

Oh wait, I'm wrong, you don't go through Denver.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:18 AM on June 25, 2012

If you go through Nashville and country music isn't your thing, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts usually has good exhibits and the building itself (an old art-deco post office) is amazing.
posted by marxchivist at 8:47 AM on June 25, 2012

It's a bit off the beaten path, but Eureka Springs, AR is a unique little town in the Ozark Mountains. Tick off both "nature" and "alternative communities" on your list. It's just a magnificent place, and it's roughly 2.5 hours from I-40.

From there, you can jaunt through Oklahoma, and be sure to hit the New Mexico spots Ruthless Bunny mentions, along with whatever else catches your fancy.
posted by ronofthedead at 8:49 AM on June 25, 2012

Crestone Colorado, Cadillac Ranch in Texas , Taos New Mexico,
posted by Isadorady at 8:54 AM on June 25, 2012

Durham, NC (15 minutes west from Raleigh) is a secret foodie capital of NC. I'd highly recommend it, especially if you are into alternative cities. Great local beer culture, local arts, etc. and you also could go to a Durham Bulls game (very cheap minor league baseball).

I'm also seconding Asheville, NC.
posted by neveroddoreven at 2:20 PM on June 25, 2012

Thanks for the good info so far, everyone! We will certainly hit up Asheville, as we have heard good things, and Durham as well.

Isadorady really hit the nail on the head - we will make sure to stop at all those places, thanks!

Our interests also include art (my co-pilot is an artist) and spirituality, trending towards zen and buddhism.

Keep them coming!
posted by masters2010 at 7:09 PM on June 25, 2012

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