Sightseeing on I-10
April 28, 2006 6:30 PM   Subscribe

Sights to see along I-10?

My father and I are driving cross country and have decided to take I-10 for a change of pace. We'll be meeting it in Baton Rouge and going from there pretty much out to L.A. We've left time for some random sightseeing here and there -- he likes natural beauty, I like the completely bizarre. Is there anything we shouldn't miss?
posted by tkolar to Travel & Transportation (23 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Let's see.. east to west, these are my thoughts:
- Shiner, Texas for the brewery tour, a short ways south of I-10 between San Antonio and Houston
- San Antonio: not much "nature" or "bizarre" but I'll leave this open as I'm sure you'll get lots of suggestions.
- Pecos River canyon near Bakersfield TX is extremely scenic and is one of the most rugged, remote areas in the southwest. National Geographic magazine did a piece on this remote region about 10-15 years ago.
- Near where I-10 and I-20 meet in west Texas is Balmorhea State Park which has a colossal artesian spring-fed pool, backdropped by the Daivs Mountains
- Near this area about an hour south of I-10 is the McDonald Observatory, which has tours.
- Pima County Air Museum in Tucson... it's big and enough of a "guy" activity that you all might like it. Also really close to I-10 for a quick diversion.
- Slab City is an odd fringe culture, next to the the Salton Sea which has a lot of natural beauty and a shadowy history.
posted by rolypolyman at 6:49 PM on April 28, 2006

Don't miss "The Thing," right on the 10 just past the AZ border. If you like cheap tourist traps, it's a must-see.
posted by ipe at 7:00 PM on April 28, 2006

I've made that trip twice. A couple of highlights I remember:
Hot springs in Big Bend park in Texas. The park isn't right on 10 but it's doable as a (full) daytrip with some planning and the springs are near the entrance.

Salton Sea in California. Natural beauty but also cheesy resort area with lots of quirky roadside America charm (and hot springs! Are you seeing a trend here?)
posted by TimeFactor at 7:01 PM on April 28, 2006

In San Antonio, I recommend the Japanese Tea Gardens.
posted by Clay201 at 7:24 PM on April 28, 2006

Don't forget to look for the Muffler Men!

Click around Roadside America as well, lots more to check out.
posted by ninjew at 7:32 PM on April 28, 2006

Just outside of San Antonio, north of Fredericksburg (about 30 minutes north of I-10) is Enchanted Rock, if you like the outdoorsy nature type stuff. Here's a Google Maps look at the area.

Pictures don't really do the "rock" justice.
posted by nitsuj at 7:53 PM on April 28, 2006

Bisbee, Arizona is not far from I-10. Has both beauty and bizarreness.
posted by kmel at 8:02 PM on April 28, 2006

Enchanted Rock really does make noise at dusk/night. It groans and hums as it cools off. Beautiful and weird at the same time.
posted by tayknight at 8:35 PM on April 28, 2006

1000 Palms Oasis in the Coachella Valley Preserve is an amazing spot just north of I-10 between Indio and Palm Springs.
Joshua Tree Nat'l Park is a beautiful place and great for stargazing.
The Indian Canyons of Palm SPrings offer great vistas to hikers. Tahquitz is the prettiest and has a nice waterfall.
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is a great way to see the valley and beat the heat.
posted by buggzzee23 at 8:46 PM on April 28, 2006

I'll add my vote to Salton Sea if you like quirky and aren't bothered by smells. For added points while you're there, check out the mud pots and ancient fish traps
posted by buggzzee23 at 9:04 PM on April 28, 2006

"The Thing" is definitely the epitome of a tourist trap if you're into the kitschily bizarre. If you're on 10, you can't miss it: it's the only location advertised for miles.
posted by commander_cool at 10:18 PM on April 28, 2006

The San Antonio Museum of Art has a sand mandala that the Dalai Lama allowed to be preserved.
posted by brujita at 10:32 PM on April 28, 2006

If we're taking the bizarre seriously, the Cabazon Dinosaurs aren't to be missed.
posted by .kobayashi. at 10:34 PM on April 28, 2006

if you can line it up, White Sands, NM at sunset is gorgeous.
it's also a proving ground, so watch out for bombs.

second The Thing. The inevitable awaits.
posted by carsonb at 11:13 PM on April 28, 2006

Sabino Canyon is a great place for natural beauty here in Tucson.
Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum is a must see. It's 12 miles off the 10. Right next door is the Saguaro National Park(West).
Moving on towards NM, do The Thing.
posted by JABof72 at 12:18 AM on April 29, 2006

In San Antonio:

The Sunken Gardens
The River Walk
And of course: The Alamo (FLASH Warning)
There's the IMAX, there's Fiesta Texas (pricey, took the kids once), there's the mission trails
Ripley's Believe it or not and the Wax Museum are across from the alamo.
One of the towns around here has a giant peanut statue in the town square and another has Popeye.

Mission trails is OK for nature, the Tea Gardens and River Walk are a beautiful (but artificial, if that makes sense) nature and the Wax meuseum is bizzare, though this is probably a francise of some sort. The rest...well it's interesting. This place is truly built for tourists. The San Antonio Zoo has some good reviews, also. Don't forget to visit the Tower of Americas while you're here too.

Ok, maybe not entirely to your specs, but there's good options here.
posted by IronLizard at 2:48 AM on April 29, 2006

Pictures don't really do the "rock" justice.

The rock... well it rocks. I climbed all over this thing after sneaking off with some friends during a high school field trip and later ran down the main walkway (This is quite painful on the feet and difficult to stop). I've been back twice since just to enjoy the views. If you enjoy rock climbing, one face of this beast is a favorite of local climbers and had the loops pre sunk into the rock for beginners (YMMV).
posted by IronLizard at 2:53 AM on April 29, 2006

Be sure to get some good Central Texas barbecue! One of my favorites is Smitty's Market, which is a 20 min detour each way. If you are in a rush, Luling City Market is pretty good, and it is less than two miles from the freeway.

Of course there is an entirely different style of barbecue in East Texas which is also good! So have them both.
posted by grouse at 3:04 AM on April 29, 2006

Let me also say: about Enchanted Rock - you don't need to be a "rock climber" to go. My 75 year old grandmother (at the time) made it to the top.
posted by nitsuj at 6:38 AM on April 29, 2006

You can stop for a delicious steak dinner at Cattleman's Steakhouse just past El Paso.

The Wikipedia page also has some good info.
posted by jduckles at 7:02 AM on April 29, 2006

I should mention that Cattlemans isn't just a steakhouse...its kind of a complex, with bison, a petting zoo and other activities. Its kind of a mini texas style theme park and it is right on I-10 before you get to El Paso if you're commin from the East.
posted by jduckles at 7:05 AM on April 29, 2006

Thanks, everyone. We're in San Antonio now and will be checking out as many of these suggestions as we can in the next few days.

Odd/bizarre things so far:
  1. Billboards advertising a Microsurgical Vasectomy Reversal clinic which started in eastern Louisiana and have continued all the way to San Antonio (the clinic is in Houston). I haven't had a vasectomy, but I'm thinking of getting mine reversed anyways based on the sheer power of advertising.
  2. Also on a medical note, two billboards from competing hospitals in Louisiana, both claiming (in very large fonts) to have the region's lowest Post Coronary Bypass Complications Rate.
  3. A large billboard encouraging people to vote for Ray Nagin's re-election as Mayor of New Orleans -- on westbound I-10 in Texas about 20 miles short of Houston.
  4. As per wikipedia, mile marker (and exit) 880 on the eastern border of Texas, the highest numbered mile marker in the Interstate system and all of the other highways in the United States. (I'm pretty sure this will be topped on I-5 after California gets its act together on relabeling the Interstates)
While not particulary bizarre, also of note was the "Atchafalaya Swamp Freeway", a 20 mile elevated stretch of I-10 in Louisana. Frankly it's not that interesting, but depending on how many people you have in the car you can probably spend the entire stretch debating how to pronouce "Atchafalaya".

Once again, my thanks to everyone who responded. "The Thing" awaits....
posted by tkolar at 6:11 PM on April 30, 2006

I have seen "The Thing".

And I am a better person for it.
posted by tkolar at 4:04 PM on May 4, 2006

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