It’s official, you’re making the big switch, and you’re moving out west! You’re trading in your office view of marble pillars and politicians in suits, for palm trees and techies in flip-flops. While you’ll certainly miss the one-of-a-kind charm of the east coast, you’ll be looking forward to what awaits you across the country.
Since moving can be strenuous on your emotions, especially on larger families, it’s often not even a consideration to take the 3000+ mile move to take it slow and enjoy the ride. There are truly amazing destinations to visit along the way and well, what better time to visit them, make memories, and have a little fun than during your cross country move?
To help you decide where to go, I’ve put together a list of a few of my favorite destinations to entice your traveler spirit. Let’s hit the road!
Instead of taking the North route and hopping on 80 West, you’ve decided to head to the land of the pine and warmth. Before you get to North Carolina, you’ve got to stop by Charlottesville, VA. Charlottesville is more than just the University of Virginia (although the campus and its architecture is worth a drive through), it is surrounded by a plethora or vineyards, breweries, apple orchards, and the everlasting presence of Thomas Jefferson.
If you are traveling with little ones, then swing by Carter Mountain Orchard. While the kids try to pick from the variety of apples in the sprawling orchard, you can sit back and enjoy one of their freshly made wine slushies. For history/architecture buffs alike be sure to take the tour at Monticello. Situated in the summit of an 850-foot peak is where Thomas Jefferson designed and built Monticello. Thomas Jefferson loved his 5,000-acre plot so much that he constructed the Monticello Cemetery, which is where he, his family and staff are buried to this day.
Asheville, North Carolina
As you pass through the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway, you will begin to find yourself immersed in Asheville, hip-mountain vibe. You will quickly be swept up by Asheville’s vibrant downtown, filled with colorful boutiques and rhythmic street performers. Don’t be shy to talk to the eclectic locals. Another must-see destination is George Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate. At 125,280 sq. ft., The Biltmore is by far one of the largest houses in all of the United States!
Just a short drive from Asheville is another great city, known as Knoxville. Similar to Asheville, the city is composed of a vibrant arts community that often celebrates with festivals throughout the entire year. Knoxville is considered one of the homes of bluegrass and country music. The presence of Tennessee University is strongly felt in Knoxville, and can be looked at as a college town. If you are an outdoors person then head over to the Nature Center for water activities as well as numerous hiking trails along the Tennessee River.
Welcome to Nashville, also known as ‘Music City.’ Regardless of your musical taste, the sprawl of bars and venues playing live music will transcend any distaste you may have for a particular genre. Don’t be afraid to put your tourist cap on and visit Honky Tonk Highway. The strip of bars where you’ll hear the best country music and southern rock pouring out of every crevice. Make sure to utilize both your ears and eyes, because you never know what famous musician might be playing an impromptu set next door. If music isn’t your thing (maybe avoid Nashville), travel back to Ancient Greece and visit the world’s only full-scale reproduction of the ancient Parthenon!
In case you haven’t noticed a trend here, Tennessee loves its live music. Memphis is no different. Even if you’re a little tired of live music at this stage of the trip, you’ll want to sit down for a bite on Beal Street. The smell of mouthwatering BBQ can be smelt up and down the street. Rumor has it that the ribs are “insanely good” no matter where you dine.
New Orleans, Louisiana
If you have never been to New Orleans, well it’s near impossible to describe in just a paragraph. From the parties on Bourbon street drinking Hand Grenades to the local jazz performers in the French Quarter (drinking Hand Grenades), you couldn’t be bored even if you tried. Believe it or not, there is more to life in New Orleans than heavy drinking. The wide variety of Cajun, Creole and Seafood will have you talking for months. Start off with some beignets at Café Du Monde, wait in the line for Domilise’s world famous po-boys, stop in for some 75 cent happy hour oysters and Luke, and finish your day at Jacques-Imo’s Café, the Creole mecca for New Orleanians. If you manage to hit up all these food spots, I guarantee you will never be more content not being able to move physically.
Welcome to Austin, where every pre-conceived thought you had towards Texas will be disproven. Austin is a young, hip and progressive city. For you adrenaline junkies, Austin is the place for you. Try your hand at indoor skydiving at iFLY, or feel like a flying dolphin and ride a “fly board” (pictured below) on Lake Austin. After a day of adventure, wind down with some delicious margaritas and Mexican food at Polvos, while watching one of the most romantic firework shows you’ve ever seen over Lady Bird Lake.
Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico
Next stop, New Mexico! Say goodbye to urban civilization for the next few days, because Mother Nature is your new best friend. The incredible land where your eyes focus on the incredible high-rising ancient sea ledges. The closest thing to a bar are the deep rocky canyons and caverns and good ole’ Mother Nature.
Saddle up, the Grand Canyon awaits! But, hold your horses (or perhaps donkeys in this case), before you arrive at that great big hole in the ground there are a few pit stops you must make on the way. Take a moment to stop by the Petrified Forest where the trees could easily be mistaken for rainbows growing from the ground. The drive through Sedona to the Grand Canyon might be the most memorable part of your entire journey. You will be in awe of the red-rock buttes, steep canyon walls and pine forests. Some say that you can even feel a very strong energy radiating from the Vortexes (if you haven’t read up on the vortex I suggest doing a little Googling!). Finally, it’s time to visit the Grand Canyon. Enough said.
Los Angeles, California
Next stop, Los Angeles! Now, where to begin…Go people watching at Venice Beach or grab a bite on the Santa Monica Pier. Try to touch the Hollywood sign, only to realize it’s closed off. Drive through the beautiful streets of Beverly Hills and maybe even lock eyes with your celebrity crush in West Hollywood.
Big Sur, California
Whether you love LA or not, you won’t be able to resist falling in love with the surreal experience that you’ll have when driving through route 1. Get your favorite playlist ready, roll down the windows and enjoy the ride along the Pacific Ocean. While the whole drive is memorable, you will be in awe of all that is possible to see in Big Sur. You’ll be tempted to pull over at every labeled “Vista” you see, and you shouldn’t feel guilty for not doing so. Take a break at McWay Falls, where you might get lucky and see some of the massive endangered concords that reside there. If you timed your drive right, take a break and walk down the Pfeiffer beach to catch the sunset over massive rocks jutting out over the sea.
San Francisco, California
If this was your destination, then you have arrived. After this journey of a lifetime you’re probably too exhausted to do bike the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito. You’ll have plenty of time to play tourist in your new home on the bay. So kick back, have a few of Chinatown’s famous dumplings, you can tour Alcatraz tomorrow.
Good luck with your move, make sure to have a little fun with the drive!
Photo via: Pixabay.com