4 weeks later and I’m sitting down to tell you guys all about my trip cross country! When we found out we would be moving to San Francisco, it was no question whether we would drive or fly. Our dog, Cody is pretty big (89 lbs!) and at an age where we didn’t think it would be a good idea to put him on a plane for 6+ hours. I’ve also never seen most of “Middle America” so we took this as a once in a lifetime opportunity! Many people have asked where the best spots were and what we would do differently, so I will share that all with you! Since my boyfriend used to live in Richmond, we decided to go the southern route.
BOS > RVA
This was the longest day by farrr (almost 12 hours!) because traffic was so bad going through New York, New Jersey, and DC. Keep in mind that it was also never less than 91 degrees the entire trip until we got to the Grand Canyon. Since we knew it was going to be a long day we didn’t stop much at all (and we have been to NY, NJ, and DC before) so pedal to the metal it was. Richmond was so awesome!! We stayed at the beautiful Omni downtown, right in the Shockoe Slip district. The city is super small, but packed with cuteness and runs right along the James river. I was amazed at how much cool public art there was around town- murals, parklets, and structures. One of my favorites was at the RVA riverfront. Once you get to the “south”, you immediately notice how friendly every one is (sorry, Boston!). I always thought this was made up, but nope! They really are super friendly here! We hit up Station 2 for some BOMB burgers and drinks followed by live music and butter cake (!!!! UNREAL!!!) at The Tobacco Company.
I didn’t know much about Knoxville Tennessee since we hear so much about Nashville and Memphis but OMG, loved it here! There was such a young and fun vibe here- probably because 30,000 students go to UT Knoxville. It’s another smaller city so we were lucky enough to be able to walk all around town. There was a free music festival going on when we got there so we walked around Market Square (with our drinks) and went in some cool shops! Market Square is filled with awesome shops, bars, and restaurants. Here are some of my favorites:
- Babalu Tacos & Tapas – unreal guac and margs!
- 5 Bar – craft cocktails in a chic environment
- The Casual Pint – craft beer bar/retail where you can find ANY craft beer you ever wanted, and play fun games!
- Adorn Decor Co. – amazing home decor and gift shop!
Knoxville > Memphis, TN
Who knew Tennessee was so big (or long)? It took us a long time to get through the state and get to Memphis. We were excited about some BBQ! We hit up Rendezvous for it’s great reviews on Yelp (I can’t do anything without reading reviews/stalking IG pics). Holy BBQ- this place was sooo good. Our server was a riot, however he made us a little nervous when he said the state’s motto is “Come for the BBQ, stay ‘cuz you’re dead”. Hmm…little bit concerning. Anyways- we walked back to our hotel before it got dark and hit up the pool on the roof deck. Then we sat at the TGIFriday’s bar that was attached to the hotel for the remainder of the night. We regret that we did not make it to see any live music- wish we could have done that. Lots of cool public art here as well!
Memphis > Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City is another one that I didn’t know much about but I was SO pleasantly surprised. OKC has the most beautiful botanical garden right in the middle of the city. They had live music and dog parks, and public art ’til your heart’s content. We hit up Bricktown Brewery for some awesome beers and sweet potato fries with sweet & spicy caramel sauce, cue the drool.
OKC > Santa Fe, New Mexico
I’ve always wanted to go to Santa Fe but unfortunately we had a long drive that day and didn’t get to our hotel until late. The views coming in to Santa Fe are insane! So unbelievably beautiful and breathtaking. This is the day that we drove through the top part of Texas and all you see for about 5 hours is fields and cows and lots of solar powered windmills.
We stopped at the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX, which is a public art installation of 10 Cadillacs submerged in the ground. They are covered in spray paint and people are welcome to add their own tags/graffiti. It was a really dark and gray day and kept down pouring off and on the whole ride. Overall, it was a pretty surreal experience because, when we got here the rain stopped completely and these 4 biker dudes approached me to take their picture.
We didn’t get to spend much time here and it was dark when we left in the morning but the views in Santa Fe are so beautiful and surrounded huge ranches filled with the cutest cows and tons of land.
Santa Fe > Grand Canyon, Arizona
The Grand Canyon is just as breathtaking and unreal as you would imagine. The sheer size of it is just so hard to wrap your head around. There were way more visitors there than I expected (like, hundreds of buses) but we made the best of it and whipped out a selfie stick for good measure. We stayed at The Grand Hotel, which was so beautiful and cozy! They recently underwent a remodel so the rooms were updated and spacious. The hotel lobby was so cozy with a rumbling fire place and a wall full of taxidermy.
Grand Canyon > LA, CALIFORNIA!
By this point in our trip (actually more like 3 days in) we were ready to be at our new home in San Francisco. We were so excited to get to Los Angeles because it meant we were just a 6 or so hours from SF, and I was getting to see my bestie, Tracy in her new city! LA traffic is notoriously bad so we decided to leave early in the am to get there at a decent hour. It was nice to be back in “civilization” again. I have to admit, I missed seeing strip malls, people watching, and WIFI. The 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica brought all of those things and then some. Tracy and I met up for some happy hour margaritas at Cabo Cantina and it was SO good to see her! By this point our movers had called us and told us they were already in SF so it was another early (3 am!) morning for us! Again with the damn LA traffic : /
8 days, 3800 miles, 2 loaves of bread and 2 jars of peanut butter and jelly, 7 magazines, and endless rest stops later we arrived!
here are some tips & tricks that helped us along the way:
Unless you want to use all your data on your first day, bring some books! Download magazines to be available offline via Texture, and bring a notebook. I planned to do a lot of work on our way out there but it didn’t really pan out that way. It was nice to be able to flip through some magazines or jot down any thoughts that came to mind (read: things to Google when I got wifi).
Plan your trip on Roadtrippers! It’s an awesome app that finds cool stops along the way, whether it’s food, a cool attraction, museum, or just a nice view to stop along the way.
Pack a cooler with lots of waters! We brought a 24 pack of waters and refilled along the way, getting ice every morning from the hotel. We also made PB&Js everyday to save some money.
Bring cash! Pretty self explanatory but there were a TON of tons around the tristate area.
Last but not least, be safe!!