Driving across the country? We’ve put together a list of towns and cities that are worth a stop as you head west. Here is our best car travel advice for driving across America on your way to California!
1. ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA
SLEEP: BON PAUL & SHARKYS HOSTEL
This is an amazing city to enjoy the local community that believes in a super sustainable lifestyle. Bon Paul & Sharkys Hostel is located right on the main strip of shops, and restaurants, and there is even a vintage arcade spot two doors down. Asheville is a great place to stop on a road trip because it has all the comforts of Southern hospitality: great food, friendly people, and the fresh beauty of being immersed in the piney mountains.
EAT: HOLE DOUGHNUTS
Whether you’re fixing for a quick, delicious breakfast, or figuring out what to bring along as you head west, Hole Doughnuts is the spot to go. There, they craft every doughnut by hand. The menu is basic but memorable, with some of the doughnut classics plus a fun rotating special. Locally roasted coffee is also available for purchase, which means you can make it a one-stop shop.
This iconic establishment is a staple of Asheville. Since the 1930s, the Southern Highland Craft Guild has been displaying hundreds of makers from all over the country and even the world. With origins from 1895, this concept of sharing and showcasing artists has been a staple of what they do and remains an important part of the creative community. Come check out some of the amazing creations and crafts of the south on your way west!
2. NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
SLEEP: MADAME ISABELLE’S HOUSE
Looking for the best of both worlds? Madame Isabelle’s House stands out amongst other New Orleans hostels due to its great location, clean spaces, friendly owner, and amenities. There’s a hot tub on site, plus a great open courtyard for mingling with other guests. If you love cats, you’re in luck! So do they, and these furry friends are known to roam not only New Orleans but also the premises of the hostel.
EAT: CAFE SBISA
The food here is one of a kind creole, a mix of African, French and Southern food. if you are looking for the real deal check out Cafe Sbisa, a small neighborhood bar with authentic locally caught seafood. The prices are great and you will get the chance to find out what turtle soup tastes like as you sit in the notorious French Quarter of New Orleans.
SEE: THE FRENCH QUARTER
This area is worthy of an Instagram Post. A parade literally breaks out on a daily basis in the French Quarter. There is great street art and musicians scattered all over and the infamous chicory coffee to taste as you overlook the water and take pictures of the iconic architecture in this funky town.
3. AUSTIN, TEXAS
SLEEP: Firehouse Lounge
Located smack dab in the middle of the action, Firehouse Lounge is a local favorite. Below the hostel is a speak-easy bar that often features live events and a rotating DJ. The vibes are on point at this funky little retreat. If nothing else, drop by for a drink before making your way down the iconic Sixth Street.
EAT: CURRA’S GRILL
With two locations, Curra’s is a quintessential Austin eatery. They’re known for their authentic Mexican food, but also their avocado margaritas. You read that right: avocado margarita. It’s something you won’t understand until you try it. But trust us, it’s delicious!
SLEEP: 11TH AVE HOSTEL
This hostel is right in Downtown Denver and will give you access to the amazing bars, eats, music and art venues and of course, weed dispensaries that are worth walking into for the experience alone. This city is very spaced out and there are tons of massive parks throughout the city to sit and relax in.
EAT: CITY O’ CITY
This funky space has been around for a while. It’s edgy and vegetarian-friendly. They have amazing drinks and a locally crafted beer selection. See why people like Denver in this eclectic repurposed & relaxed scene.
SLEEP: COLORADO ADVENTURE HOSTEL
This is the perfect spot to stay in Colorado Springs if you are looking to enjoy some amazing natural wonders. Pikes Peak can literally be seen from the hostel. Enjoy the backyard, lay in a hammock and go out for a hike in the Colorado Rockies.
SEE: GARDEN OF THE GODS AND PIKES PEAK
Located in Colorado Springs, these two iconic destinations should be on everyone’s bucket list. Roughly an hour south of Denver, the Garden of the Gods is a great way to unwind in nature and explore a part of the country that goes back to the Pleistocene Ice Age. This is a free park, too!
Pikes Peak is another one of Colorado’s most recognizable attractions. It’s also located near Colorado Springs, so you can hit both Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods in one day!
5. NEW MEXICO
Keeping it lively with beautiful art all over the front of the building, and lodged in a small nook right in the center of town, this hostel is the epitome of New Mexico, and a great way to relax within this beautiful city.
EAT: THE PANTRY
This is a longtime staple for homey regional meals in a comfortable atmosphere. It is a meeting place for locals so you will get to enjoy watching the friendly people of New Mexico.
SEE: MEOW WOLF MUSEUM
This is no ordinary museum, it is an art experience. Founded by Game of Thrones author George Martin, this interactive museum that allows you to take a break from your road trip, explore and be transported by these other realms.
BEST VIEWS: CROSS OF THE MARTYRS
This lookout point gives incredible views for watching the sunset in Santa Fe. Located near downtown, it’s an easy hike to the top and well worth it. Pro tip: parking is free there, so leave your car while you wander the streets of Santa Fe.
On your way west from Santa Fe, stop through Phoenix. The drive alone is memorable and filled with great scenary. Once you touch down in the desert, stop by the Phoenix Hostel for a night’s rest. This hostel thrives on hosting international travelers, and also featuring events throughout the week.
EAT: PIZZERIA BIANCO
What better what to cap off a day of driving than with a hot pizza? Pizzeria Bianco is one of Phoenix’s culinary staples. Wood-fired pizzas are what they’re known for, but we also recommend trying their sandwiches and pasta dishes!
7. BEST INSTAGRAM PICTURE LOCATION
.This gem is located about two hours west of Las Vegas, and easily accessible on your way to San Francisco. It’s located in Death Valley National Park, which is worth your time to check out, too! Without having to add too much time to your drive, Zabriskie Point is a perfect place to stop off and capture some truly spectacular photos! People rave about the
8. STAY AWAKE OR SLEEP SAFE
THE BEST WAY TO STAY AWAKE WHEN DRIVING FOR WHAT SEEMS TO BE ENDLESS MILES IS…
-Loud, upbeat music (think techno, dance, electronic)
-Coffee, energy drinks (you can pick these up at any gas station, and maybe take a stretch as well)
-Smoking (the movement keeps you coherent)
-Eating (having an action means you have to be awake)
BUT IF YOU REALLY NEED TO SLEEP…THAT’S OK!
Check out free campsites or rest stops where you can park for hours to sleep. They list spots all over the country and have reviews from people who have stayed at them.
Another site we like to use is called Overlander. This website is also an app, and it helps you sort your needs by listing off a ton of amenities and features of a certain campsite in your area. Using Overlander can be very helpful if you find yourself driving around sunset in an area that does not feature hotels or hostels. Other users will post reviews and important information about the campsites, making it a useful hub on your road trip!
ONCE YOU’RE IN CALI: JOSHUA TREE
An oasis in the desert, Joshua Tree is a traveler’s paradise. With roughly 300 miles of hiking trails, Joshua Tree is a perfect place to get lost while you get in touch with nature. It is in the desert, so plan your trip and hikes accordingly! Try to avoid hiking during the thick of the day if you are there in the warm months. Always bring water and food! And for a night’s rest, drop by our Coyote Ranch Hostel for a peaceful retreat on your way west.
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