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Cross Country road trip from Los Angeles to Florida?
Old 04-22-2015, 04:50 PM   #1
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Cross Country road trip from Los Angeles to Florida?

My wife and I are planning a driving trip from Los Angeles to Florida (I-10), we have never done a cross country trip before. This is more of a sightseeing than any specific destinations. Coming back, we are looking at I-40 (from Florida).

Looks like we will be stopping possibly in Phoenix, El Paso, San Antonio, New Orleans ... somewhere in Florida, still working on these stops. Right now kind of basing stops on how many miles we intend to drive per day. We may spend an extra day at some stops, other stops are just for the night. We think between 3 to 4 weeks should be plenty of time? Have not looked at I-40 yet.

Thinking about spending a few days in Florida, looking for ideas of where and what to do in Florida. So far, I have been going through AAA books and Tripadvisor.

Also, looking for suggestions on where we should stop both on I-10 and I-40. I think we can probably do between 400 to 500 miles per day, not really sure as our most recent road trip was Los Angeles to Las Vegas which was less than 250 miles.

Should we rent a car? Anything we should look out for?

Thanks,

mp
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Old 04-22-2015, 05:01 PM   #2
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have fun driving through houston
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Old 04-22-2015, 06:20 PM   #3
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Depending on when you plan to travel, the I-10 can be brutally hot pretty much of the way. I doubt you'd be doing much outdoorsy stuff in the Phoenix area June through most of September, for example. I'd suggest a stop at Kartchner Caverns State Park east of Tucson for an interesting tour.

I-40 through northern Arizona is interesting but not so enjoyable in the winter. Things to do around Flagstaff include the Grand Canyon (~2hr north), Sedona (~1/2 hr south), Meteor Crater, Sunset Crater and Lowell Observatory. Other amazing sights east and north of Flagstaff include Canyon de Chelly and Monument Valley. North of Kingman AZ, there's the Hoover Dam.
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Old 04-22-2015, 06:44 PM   #4
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Take a few extra days and don't wear yourself out. Make plans but be flexible. We just came back from 5000 mile trip from Bella Vista Arkansas to Memphis to Biloxi to several Florida places including Key West and then back. For the most part we did about 250-300 miles a day with multiple day stops to visit friends and family. Don't over drive, enjoy. We were on road for 3 1/2 weeks and had a blast.
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Old 04-22-2015, 07:33 PM   #5
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If cost is not an issue, I suggest renting a car. Anything goes wrong, pretty quickly you'll be able to get a replacement car from the nearest rental agency location. Use your own car, and something goes wrong, that could be a major hassle/delay for your vacation.
Make sure your car rental contract doesn't restrict where you can take the car (e.g., here in New Jersey sometimes the rental contract limits driving to just the nearby states).
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Old 04-22-2015, 09:00 PM   #6
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Note that I-40 starts in Wilmington N.C. and crosses near Smoky Mountain National Park, into TN, goes thru Ark and into Ok before hitting the west. So you should at least visit the Smoky Mountains on the way back. (Although you could catch it in Nashville, by going thru Atlanta instead.
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Old 04-22-2015, 10:37 PM   #7
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Keep in mind there is an incredible amount of truck traffic on east/west interstates.
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Old 04-22-2015, 11:13 PM   #8
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If cost is not an issue, I suggest renting a car. Anything goes wrong, pretty quickly you'll be able to get a replacement car from the nearest rental agency location. Use your own car, and something goes wrong, that could be a major hassle/delay for your vacation.
Make sure your car rental contract doesn't restrict where you can take the car (e.g., here in New Jersey sometimes the rental contract limits driving to just the nearby states).
+1 on the rental (maybe a minivan). I've done that for long trips and it's always worked out well. I picked up a minivan once that had 8 miles on the odometer. I got some annoyed looks when I returned it with over 3000, but it was their contract.
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Old 04-23-2015, 05:52 AM   #9
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Thinking about spending a few days in Florida, looking for ideas of where and what to do in Florida. So far, I have been going through AAA books and Tripadvisor.
Everglades, Florida keys, and St Augustine are all good options.

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Anything we should look out for?
Watch out for gators...
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Old 04-23-2015, 07:14 AM   #10
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I've taken I 40 several times on my Chicago-Phoenix trips.

Sightseeing - US 66 attractions. US 66 runs close to 40. I did a lot of research and hit a lot of spots along the route

Grand Canyon - 2 hr detour off I40

Monument valley - 3 hour detour off I40

Sedona, az - half hour off I40, but on the way to Phoenix

I40 can be rough in the winter - especially around Flagstaff. I also hit an ice/snow storm in Ok and East Texas in early March
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Old 04-23-2015, 07:24 AM   #11
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Everglades, Florida keys, and St Augustine are all good options.



Watch out for gators...

Especially the gators around Gainesville!
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Old 04-23-2015, 08:08 AM   #12
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If cost is not an issue, I suggest renting a car....... .
Note that the credit card provided auto insurance doesn't cover longer term rentals.
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Old 04-23-2015, 08:14 AM   #13
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Note that the credit card provided auto insurance doesn't cover longer term rentals.
Or cover liability or collision until your own insurance refuses to pay. I don't see the much value.
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Old 04-23-2015, 08:44 AM   #14
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I would definitely include Great Smoky Mountain National Park if you're going that far east. And don't miss the drive through Cades Cove there. It's a one way circular drive through a gorgeous valley loaded with wildlife, old settler cabins, churches and cemeteries from the early 1800's. You could easily spend 3-4 days there in the park area. Have a great trip!

Cade's Cove
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Old 04-23-2015, 08:51 AM   #15
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I recommend a stop at Carlsbad Caverns in the very south of New Mexico. Also, a side trip off the boring interstate in southern AZ and SW NM is to cut over to Silver City, NM

Also, check this road trip map out out The Perfect American Road Trip Has Finally Been Planned

and Trip Advisor has a 'road trip forum' Road Trips Forum - TripAdvisor
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Old 04-23-2015, 09:08 AM   #16
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We did I-40 from Florida to LA last summer. It was hot. We rented a van (had some things to deliver to brother-in-law). I would definitely rent if we did it again. We tried to drive no more than 300 miles a day. Stops included Memphis, Little Rock, Oklahoma City (much better than we thought - loved the Banjo Museum), Amarillo, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Flagstaff/Grand Canyon. For the most part, we stayed in chain hotels, except for Santa Fe and Flagstaff. There we stayed in B&Bs. Tripadvisor was our guide. Rt 66 Museum in Oklahoma was fun.

We drove 600 miles the first day to Birmingham so we could get to Memphis the next day so we missed the Smokies.

Lots of good Southwestern food in NM and AZ. In Florida, would second the recommendation to visit St. Augustine.

Have fun.
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Old 04-23-2015, 09:21 AM   #17
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If you rent a vehicle consider a SUV or full size. You can pack more items without overcrowding (and have some concealment), and have spare room for items you purchase along the way.

Plus, a larger vehicle rides better and after 4-5 hrs you won't be as road wasted as you might be in a smaller vehicle. I've done trips like that over the years and the vehicle choice can make the difference between a pleasure trip and a chore.

Have fun!
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Old 04-23-2015, 09:39 AM   #18
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I-10 between El Paso and San Antonio is not much, so just plan on a long day between those points.

Second the recommendation I-40 has more to see and the western part it has a lot of old Rt 66 that parallels it with a lot of interesting stopping points. I-40 ends at Barstow, CA and you would take I-15 down into LA area at that point.

I see no reason to rent a car unless yours is not up to the task or is too small. A bigger vehicle will make for a nicer ride.
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Old 04-23-2015, 10:13 AM   #19
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To me, this is like asking for a book recommendation without knowing if you like mysteries, spy novels, biographies, romance, or what. Do you want outdoors stuff? Active, or drive your car to an overlook and maybe get out for a look? Museums? Small town sights, or big city nightlife?
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Old 04-23-2015, 10:22 AM   #20
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I see no reason to rent a car unless yours is not up to the task or is too small. A bigger vehicle will make for a nicer ride.
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If cost is not an issue, I suggest renting a car. Anything goes wrong, pretty quickly you'll be able to get a replacement car from the nearest rental agency location. Use your own car, and something goes wrong, that could be a major hassle/delay for your vacation.
Asked and answered.
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