How do we go from NYC to LA in a week in the most interesting way?
January 10, 2008 9:38 PM   Subscribe

My brother is moving to LA and I'm going to drive out there with him. I can only take about one week off of work so we want to keep it within 8 or 9 days. Where should we stop on the southern route from NYC to LA? We're thinking route 81 south then another highway west to California.

Basically does anyone have any advice for a trip of this short a length along that route? We want to see some sites, but still get enough driving done per day. Also, its going to be the end of January so daylight time is much shorter. Any recommendations for sites, cheap but clean and/or interesting Inns/motels (we're both on a tight budget), music venues to check out in Austin or New Orleans for indie stuff, etc? Any help is appreciated!
posted by minicloud to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The Grand Canyon will be within 50 miles of I-40, which you would likely be taking if you were on the southern route. If you decided to visit, you'd want a little extra time to commit to it; not just because it it's pretty cool, but because it takes a little while to drive there, as there isn't a major road that goes there, as popular as it is. Maybe not quite what you are looking for, however.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:57 PM on January 10, 2008

If you want a southern route, you'll basically either be winding up on I-40 or I-10 for the western half of the country. I've only taken I-10 once, so I'll leave that for someone else, but if you choose I-40, here's some suggestions:

Unless there's something specific you want to see on 81, I'd recommend another route for the eastern leg--81 is very mountainous in Virginia and the snow can really slow you down. Of course, you're gonna have to hit some mountains somewhere, but I-80 is a little better, I think. Or there's the Pennsylvania Turnpike (I-76 to I-70), which is also very mountainous but really pretty.

Kentucky is really nice. Mammoth Cave might be worth a visit; conveniently, it's in between Louisville and Nashville, so a Louisville-Nashville-Memphis route could work. The alternative is to take I-70 to St. Louis and then I-44 down to Oklahoma; the Gateway Arch is worth checking out if you go that way, and Springfield, MO is also pretty cool.

Seconding the Grand Canyon for the western part. It's only about 45-50 minutes off of I-40, and there are many hotels (cheap ones, too) in Williams. Santa Fe is a great place for sightseeing. Gallup is a convenient place to stop for the night; there are many hotels there. If you've never been to Las Vegas and you have some extra time, it might be worth a little detour--you can go up US 93 over the Hoover Dam, which is also worth seeing. (The Grand Canyon is at least 500 times better, though.)

As for cheap hotels, there won't be any shortage of them anywhere, except for the very last stretch from Kingman to LA.
posted by equalpants at 4:48 AM on January 11, 2008

Whoops, I forgot to mention: just for reference, the fastest route (in my experience) is I-80 to Akron, I-71 to Columbus, I-70 to St. Louis, I-44 to OKC, I-40 to LA; this takes four days/three nights if you drive a lot. So 8-9 days is actually a pretty good amount of time; you should be able to see a lot.
posted by equalpants at 4:52 AM on January 11, 2008

For housing options on this trip and in the future, check out Servas, and 5W (Women Welcome Women Worldwide), if you don't mind staying in other people's houses and/or on the floor. 5W is the best of those, IMHO, and maybe 50% to 60% of the members [rough guess, eyeballing the hundreds of U.S. listings in my members list] also welcome males who are traveling with a female)
posted by sparrows at 4:59 AM on January 11, 2008

If you are not traveling in near future (in winter), Drive from Denver,Co to Moab,UT along I-70 is really amazing. Also you can visit places like Colarado Springs, Arches Park, Moab and Zion Park.
posted by WizKid at 9:50 AM on January 11, 2008

Sorry, now only I saw that you are traveling in "end of January".
I guess then give the weather Las Vegas might be the only interesting place that you might be able to go in western part of the country.
posted by WizKid at 9:52 AM on January 11, 2008

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