Guide us on our great South Western road trip
April 21, 2008 2:18 PM   Subscribe

Road trip from Raleigh, NC to San Deigo California. Long schedule inside, please provide any insights you have!

So we're taking a road trip all the way from Raleigh, NC to San Diego, CA. I need your advice for breathtaking sights, awesome bars, incredible hikes, delicious food, etc.

This is a 10 day road trip starting on Thursday, April 24th (this week!). We (25 year old guy, girl, and dog) are both really outgoing people who appreciate nature and having a good time. We plan on getting hotels for some of the trip but the bulk of it will be camping. We don't really know where we should camp or anything else so everything you can tell us helps!

Here's the tentative schedule:

Thurs 24 - Raleigh, NC to Savannah, GA
What should we do in Savannah? Tours, bars, restaurants? Is there any good camping nearby or should we get a hotel? If we get a hotel, we'll probably want to go out drinking, so where should we go?

Friday 25th - Savannah, GA to New Orleans, LA
We want to take in as much local culture as possible, so whats the best restaurants and sights we should visit? We will be staying in a hotel in the French Quarter because we want to go out and see what it's like to party in New Orleans. Where should we go?

Sat 26th - New Orleans, LA to Austin, TX
We will be spending Saturday - Monday in Austin. What should we do? We both are thinking about one day moving to Austin so we'd like to get a real feel for the city so we can see if it fits our personalities. Any one know any good concerts there this weekend?

Monday Evening 28th and on
We are pretty wide open from this point on. We want to stick to a southern-western route and hit up all the awesome places to hike, camp, and visit. We don't need to be in San Diego until Friday evening so we have a lot of flexibility. What things did you do in New Mexico / Arizona that took your breath away? Are there places we just HAVE to camp? I think we want to see the Grand Canyon for sure, so that might need to be incorporated into the route too.

Please include any anecdotes, links, stories, pictures, whatever! We are taking laptops with internet access the whole way so we're gonna make it up as we go along and we need all the advice we can get. Any supplies we need to bring that we might not have thought of? Are there any other places we should post this question in order to get the best info possible?

Bonus question:
Do you know any good books or whatever that can serve as conversation starters? I'm picturing a book that has questions like "Do you believe in God?" that we just take turns asking each other and learning about one another. Good bonding stuff to make the trip less monotonous.
posted by ZackTM to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
My usual suggestion for this is Big Bend National Park. It's a bit off the beaten track, and a really surprising place. A weird mix of no-kidding desert and river habitat and mountains with trees that almost seem transplanted from Virginia.

Also, I was bitten by ladybugs there. I shit you not.

If you find yourself in Las Cruces NM, La Posta de Mesilla is a gooood Mexican joint.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:51 PM on April 21, 2008

The Grand Canyon is Awesome. Depending on which day there may be plenty of tourists or not, but the Canyon itself is so immensely of-this-world that it is other-worldly. No clue about the dog being able to hit the trails with you though.

I only spent a few days in Austin but the ever-popular Barton Springs is great for a swim and a relaxing time. An amazing public pool, in beautiful surroundings. It'll never happen again in this country as now-adays it'd be a private golf course.

New Orleans, again only once on the same trip - a similar route that you'll be taking I reckon. Cafe du Monde is super touristy but the beignets are straight from heaven. I enjoyed having a beer a the Napoleon House. Have a cold drink and listen to some opera. I loved the Aquarium in N.O. but god knows what happened to it.

Consider White Sands (mental), soak in a hot tub in Truth or Consequences, in Southern California there is Death Valley and Joshua Tree.

If either of you have a background/interest in contemporary art: Marfa Texas.

Road Trips are great - you are gonna have a blast!
posted by asparagus_berlin at 2:58 PM on April 21, 2008

Snook, TX is on your way to Austin. You should stop there and get some chicken fried bacon. Just to say you did it and survived!
posted by fusinski at 3:00 PM on April 21, 2008

Jamie Jensen's Road Trip USA covers the southern route, which is presumably something you're aware of...

For Savannah, I'd say head out to Tybee Island, and start your trip on the Atlantic proper. Tougher to stay out there if you want to party in town, but there's camping a-plenty. if you get up before dawn, you can see the sun rise over the ocean, with dolphins and pelicans, then eat at the Breakfast Club and start on that long first day.

I know you're looking to spend more time in the southwest, but that's at least ten frakking hours. In a car. With a dog. Followed by eight hours after partying in NOLA. You will be taking in the local culture of the interstate rest stops, and you will be zombies by the time you reach Austin. I absolutely abide by Philip Greenspun's maxim here: "If you can't arrange the trip so that it is 150 miles/day or less, then you might as well fly because you're mostly going to see the inside of your car."
posted by holgate at 10:19 PM on April 21, 2008

In N.O. near Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville is a little restaurant called Coop's that has fried chicken to die for. Wash your hands beforehand--all they have is latrines.

If you're not in a total hurry, head from Texas up to Santa Fe, NM on the back road (too late to look up a map). It takes you near Carlsbad Caverns (amazing), through Roswell (weird), and past some great desert scenery and random wineries.
posted by j1950 at 12:25 AM on April 22, 2008

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