Last summer I somehow managed to convince my Mom and Grandma to take a quick cross country road trip with me from Delray Beach, FL to Los Angeles, CA. Here are the places we stopped, the sights we saw, and the things we learned.
Day 1: Delray Beach, FL - Ocala, FL - New Orleans, LA
Day 2: New Orleans, LA - San Antonio, TX
Day 3: San Antonio, TX - Albuquerque, NM
Day 4: Albuquerque, NM - Page, AZ
Day 5: Page, AZ - Las Vegas, NV - Los Angeles, CA
My tips for any road trip:
- Make a rough plan. Even if you don't get to each place or you stumble upon a new one, have some goals and an idea of how long it will take to get to each distance. This also helps with making sure you don't run out of gas.
- Always take someone with you! Unless you're a pro truck driver or you have an obsession with driving, after 4 hrs on some pretty bleak roads, you'll want someone to take over the wheel. Make sure you get along with your copilot. There's nothing worse than being stuck in a car with someone you get easily frustrated with.
- If you're trying to save a few pennies, book accommodation in advance. This could make a difference of at least $50 for the night. If you're uncertain, make a reservation at a place you can cancel within 24hrs. Airbnb is always a great option.
- Don't push your limit when it comes to gas. Gas stations are far and few in between at some points so always make sure you fuel up. Better safe than stuck on the side of the road for hours. Plus, most roads do not have street lights, so it can be really dangerous to be stuck on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere at night!
- Stock up on snacks, water and hours of great music. If you can, invest in satellite radio or an iPod adapter. This will be your saving grace, especially in Texas.
DELRAY BEACH TO OCALA (3.5 hrs)
After a quick argument before we even entered the vehicle, my mom and I began our drive to Ocala around 9am where we would pick up my overly excited grandmother. There's not much to see on this route unless you want to make a pitstop in Orlando (Disney World) or drive north to some cool springs in the middle of the state (Ginnie/Ichetucknee Springs). Both options make for great day trips.
OCALA TO NEW ORLEANS (8hrs)
We had some lunch with my grandparents and hit the road since we had 8hrs ahead of us to New Orleans. We arrived in New Orleans just in time to have some Jumbalaya and Gumbo in the French Quarter and explore Bourbon Street to check out the nightlife. The following morning, we spent a few hours exploring the many Mardi Gras shops before we got back on the road.
NEW ORLEANS TO SAN ANTONIO (8hrs)
We had to cover some major ground in order to get to San Antonio. Luckily, we made it to town just in time for game 4 of the Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs NBA finals. So we grabbed a table at one of the many Tex Mex restaurants on the Riverwalk and watched the game. We're huge Miami fans and it was quite painful to watch Miami lose that night. Even though the finals were not over, Spurs fans went crazy and the roads were shut down for a car parade. It was a spectacle. To escape the chaos, I decided to walk over to the Alamo before calling it a night.
SAN ANTONIO TO ALBEQURQUE (12hrs)
People will tell you the drive through Texas is a long one because there is absolutely nothing to see. And these people are right. The road gets hot and becomes seemingly never ending, so make sure you have a great playlist to get you through it. Also keep a look out for your oil temperature light, as your car may heat up and you don't want any issues. Make some pit stops to break up the trip if you can. We found a cool flower patch just outside of San Antonio along with an old timer gas station where you pump before you pay (not common in the U.S.)
Our next pit stop was at the White Dunes National Park in New Mexico. I definitely recommend this stop, as it's really not comparable to anything I've seen before.
After about an hour of playing in the sand, we made it to Albuquerque just before sunset.
ALBEQUERQUE TO GRAND CANYON (6hrs)
The next day was our adventure to the Grand Canyon. We got a bit of a late start and didn't make it to the canyon until 4pm. There are heaps of hikes and places to camp around the area, so if you're into the outdoors, check out the list of hikes HERE.
After watching the sunset over the canyon, we drove 1.5hr to Page, Arizona where we spent the night. This indian town does not practice day light savings apparently, so ask a local for the actual time in case you are on a time schedule.
PAGE TO LOS ANGELES (9hrs)
This was the most action packed day by far. Before booking it to LA, we took a morning tour to Upper Antelope Canyon, an amazingly picturesque canyon, carved by a river that once flowed through it. I recommend going with the tour company Antelope Canyon Tours, as the Navajo guides are very informative and show you great spots to snap some photos. Try to book a slot in the late morning for the best lighting in the canyon.
One more fantastic sight in Page is Horseshoe Bend. It's easily accessible as you can drive practically to the entrance.
On our way to LA we stumbled upon a few great pitstops we did not intend to make.
Zion National Park (we just drove through) & of course no trip is complete without a stop in Vegas!
After 5 days of chasing the sun, we finally made it to the city of angels by midnight. It was an awesome adventure that I would happily do again, so if you ever have the chance, definitely take a cross country trip through the states!