Car Travel Advice for Driving Across America to California

Take a road trip West to escape the East Coast winter. Here are the best places to stop, eat, sleep and adventure.

Bobby Dyer
Paula May AbfBPqnejaA Unsplash


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, restaurants, and even a vintage arcade place 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: Green Sage Cafe

Located in Downtown, it has all local and organically sourced food. Since this is the norm in Asheville it is not any more expensive than anywhere else. What makes this place amazing are the food options which taste delicious and can accommodate anyone regardless of dietary restrictions.


Sleep: Aubrexie Hostel

if you are looking for an experience, this city will provide it for you. It bursts with energy and strange people that are looking to celebrate life. At the Aubrexie Hostel, they will guide you with an event happening every night in this unusual town that is a mix of culture and soul. Make some friends and let loose in this jazz scene city.

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.



This hostel is a haven for creative thinkers, innovators, and travelers while in Austin. Go mingle with great minds and share your stories. Located in the heart of East Austin, it is easy to get around and see the city.


Enjoy some Tex-Mex cuisine from chefs that come from Mexico City and will give you only the authentic ingredients, keeping with tradition and 100 different agave-based liquors! It is the perfect way to enjoy Austin’s culture.


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

These natural wonders are epic and need nothing from you but to experience. If you are looking for an amazing Instagram picture, this is it.


Sleep: Santa Fe International Hostel

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.


Hot Springs: Around Santa Fe, New Mexico there are numerous hot springs to choose from. Some are at a resort and you must pay a small fee to enjoy for the day. Others include a hike to a secluded place and are completely free. Find the Hot Spring that suits what you are searching for. There are so many and they are so tranquil and beautiful, you are bound to feel restored.


Sleep: Prescott International Travelers House

Cute, comfortable and welcoming. They have board games and the hostel itself looks like it could have been pulled from the Candy Land Board Game. Connect with travelers in this western state. Hike some trails, get out there and enjoy the view.

Eat: The International House of Food

Eating here means you cannot lose, they will have anything and everything you are craving on your journey west. Mexican, American, and Chinese cuisine under one roof. The hardest part may just be making a decision.

Must See: Grand Canyon

This is a must-see and on most people’s bucket list. It doesn’t matter what time of the year it is. If it is raining or snowing. It is spectacular always.

7. Best Instagram Picture Location

Slab City- the Last Free Place

Out in the desert of California, there is a place. The last free place. It is unusual, weird and disturbing. But the colors of it are a fantastic mash-up of Dr. Suess meets the Wizard of Oz. Follow the signs and enter a place that has no rules. Enjoy the Pet Cemetary, the Church of Broken Toys,  and Salvation Mountain, which is the ultimate spot for an epic Instagram picture. It takes no embellishment, it is simply breathtaking.


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 you can park for hours to sleep. They list spots all over the country and have reviews from people that have stayed at them. It’s really handy when you literally cannot keep your eyes open any longer.


You made it to California! Looking for a place to stay with monthly rates?

Co-live with ITH in San Diego. And mentioning this post will waive your Application Fee!



Cofounder of ITH Hostels. I love traveling, hosting, gardening, golfing, fishing, and sailing.