The Proposal ~ From New York to Los Angeles

Half the fun of the travel is the esthetic of lostness.Β  ~Ray Bradbury

Foothills of El Paso’s (TX) Franklin Mountains via spysgrandson (all rights reserved)

Thank you so much readers, for the suggestions of where to visit as part of a cross country road trip from NYC to LA. In my last post, many seasoned travelers highly recommended Utah as a place to see. As much as I’d love to stop here, I know spending 1-2 days wouldn’t do the state justice; it’s worthy of a lengthy trip in the near future.

So…

Moonrise over Washington DC via pentaxforums.com

I am in unison with Bradbury in the sentiment that there’s beauty in venturing, uninhibited, into the unknown. But just as his words read, that’s half the fun. The other half, in my opinion, is influenced by the trip’s framework; there’s comfort in setting (loose) parameters. Wandering about aimlessly under time restrictions – a little over a week across 3,500 miles – promises a whole other set of challenges.

THE (loose) PARAMETERS

Keeping in mind that visiting New Orleans is a must, I’ve drafted an itinerary that traces a southerly route of the US. The list includes cities that I have never been to before (the Washington DC and Sedona drive-thrus don’t count). If you can advise, I’d love your thoughts on what to see/do, and where to eat/play.

Cafe du Monde, New Orleans ~ via myneworleans.com

I’ve done some preliminary research but am also looking for the not-so-seen, and hungry for local knowledge. I want to know what lies under the skin of place; I want to take in the smells of fresh produce markets, bite into a deep fried beignet, feast my eyes on centuries old architecture and innovative design, be immersed in nature’s stillness. Most importantly, I want to see how people live.

While I’ll certainly be documenting the details, a head start never hurts.

PROPOSED ITINERARY: NEW YORK TO LOS ANGELES

Brooklyn, New York > Washington, DC > Charleston, South Carolina > Savannah, Georgia (brief stop) > Tallahassee, Florida > New Orleans, Louisiana > San Antonio, Texas > El Paso, Texas > Sedona, Arizona (2 days) > Los Angeles, California

*Thinking of adding in Raleigh, NC between DC and Charleston as a stop. Not only will it give us more time, but I am reading wonderful things about this city.

Sedona, Arizona via prx.org

ADVICE NEEDED ON MUST SEES

Readers:

What are your favourite DC monuments? Can you recommend a noteworthy restaurant or bar in this great city?

Any recommendations re: where to feast on good Creole cuisine while in New Orleans? What about jazz clubs?

What are the Charleston essentials – sights, shops, cafes, neighbourhoods?

Know of a part of Savannah where one can linger for a couple of hours?

What do you love about Sedona?

What’s hot in Raleigh? The City of Oaks has me intrigued.

What about El Paso and Tallahassee; have you been to these cities? I’ve read that Tallahassee has an abundance of seafood – know of an oyster shack?

Look forward to tips, thoughts, and suggestions on anything, or all, of the above.

~Thank you!

Avenue of Oaks in Charleston, South Carolina via davidallenphotography.com

70 thoughts on “The Proposal ~ From New York to Los Angeles

  1. Hi Marina,

    Great itinerary, though it seemed to be quite ambitious to do given your time constraint. Make sure you consider the drive time between cities, and that you need some rest in between.

    Some thoughts/suggestions:
    1. On Washington monuments, a while ago I wrote some blog posts on monuments that I had visited, mostly in DC. Check these out: http://setiawanphoto.com/series/#national_monuments_and_historical_sites

    2. Regarding restaurant recommendation in DC, I can give you some depending what you would like to eat, but here is a good local guide to start looking: http://www.washingtonian.com/packages/food-drink/the-100-very-bes3t-restaurants-2012/

    3. In Savannah, GA, the place where tourists go is the City Market area in downtown. You can take a trolley tour around town from there, or simply just walk around there. Paula Deen’s The Lady and Sons restaurant is within walking distance, but the wait might be long. Here is a photo from my visit there: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rsetia67/2789803090/in/set-72157606904013576/

    4. Red rocks in Sedona — what I remembered though was having prickly pear cactus salad at a restaurant called The Barking Frog Grille.

    5. If you’re driving from El Paso towards Sedona, you’ll pass Tucson. If you pass Tucson around sunset time, you should stop at the Saguaro National Park and see beautiful sunset with silhouettes of the giant saguaro cacti. Check this out: http://setiawanphoto.com/2011/11/21/saguaro/

    6. After Sedona, on the way to Los Angeles on Interstate 40 you can take a scenic route to experience a little bit the old Route 66 as the early travelers to the west experienced it. I’m in the middle of writing a blog series about my coast-to-coast trip on Route 66, and I had written some posts on my experience in the Arizona side. Check it out: http://setiawanphoto.com/series/#coast_to_coast

    Have fun!

    • So much food for thought here, and such interesting tips. Love the details, and will immerse with all the info tomorrow. One question – tell me where I should include some extra time… How would you suggest making the trip more comfortable? Thank you!

      • If you only have nine days for the trip and that includes the drive time, the only way I could see to cover the route and do sightseeing would be to drive at night and do sightseeing during the day. Or the visit to each city would be very brief and it’s almost like a drive-by. In either case, I’d suggest to consider driving safety to be at the forefront — make sure you have the energy and alertness when driving.

        If the time constraint can’t change, my suggestion would be unfortunately to cut the route short and perhaps skip some of the cities for this trip so you have some buffer for rest. As much as I love Washington, DC, and suggesting places here to see, may be considering that it’s close from NYC, you can skip DC for this trip (you can always do weekend trips from NYC to DC — like I do the other way around).

      • hmmm, problem there… as we’re relocating to LA so DC is a must see. We missed out on seeing it on the last cross country trip. Any other suggestions? We’re driving through Savannah… El Paso would be a drive through really… and Tallahassee seems like a good spot for dinner and drink but not alot of historic monuments or sights to see. Most time we’d like to spend is DC, Charleston, New Orleans, Sedona and have a foodie immersion in San Antonio. Thoughts?

  2. Looks like a great trip you are planning Marina…I wish I had some tips but my inside knowledge of the US is somewhat (very) limted..looking forward to hearing more! When are you expecting to set out?

  3. Well then, in that case, I would suggest prioritize spending time in the southeast cities as you mentioned.

    San Antonio — the Riverwalk area is the must see place, but if there is one meal to have there, it would be Tex-Mex food at a restaurant called Mi Tierra (http://www.mitierracafe.com/ ) that has been there since 1941. Also, the place is open 24 hrs so you can stop there anytime.

    If you’re going to be living in LA, another consideration is that going to Arizona is not that far, so consider cutting the Sedona part and come there in its own trip in the future, perhaps in combination w/ exploring the Grand Canyon area. If you do so, you can take either I-8 or I-10 from southern Arizona and get to Southern California in shorter route than going north first to hit I-40. This gives you a couple of extra days to spend in the east coast (e.g., DC or New Orleans).

    • So what i have been thinking, and thank you so much for your thoughts, is to break the trip between DC and Charleston with Raleigh. I have a pull for Sedona and want to spend 2 days there. This means I will have to add +1 to make this 9 days. How does this sound to you? This route does take the I10 already… Thank you!

      • Hi Marina,

        I just looked at the route that you’re thinking of taking on the map. I think it looks good from places to visit, but one thing I noticed was that some of the segments once you start going west bound could be very long (i.e, more than 500 mi/segment). Specifically if you go between San Antonio and Sedona without stopping, that would be around 1,000 mi (about 1/3 of your overall trip). Taking on average 60 mi/h, that means more than 16 hrs of non-stop driving. Also, you will be passing some metro areas like Atlanta and Houston. Depending on the time of the day, you could get stuck in traffic in and around these cities, so you may need to add some buffer time to consider that.

        If you plan on spending 2 days in Sedona, plus one more day after that to go to LA area, that means you have 6 days to get from NYC to Sedona. Would you have flexibility to extend the trip to add 1-2 more days? If I were in your situation, I would hate to skip any of the cities you’re planning on visiting along the way (as each has something unique to see/experience), but perhaps you don’t have the luxury to do so.

        Also, most cities you’re visiting are large enough that you shouldn’t have any problem finding accomodations. But for Sedona specifically, you may want to plan ahead if you can, as it’s basically a resort town and around this time of the year the ‘snowbirds’ (old, retired people from the northern states) are migrating south to places like Arizona where it’s warm.

      • Hi! yes, we’re stopping in El Paso between San Antonio and Sedona (see itinerary in blog post). We’re also stopping in Raleigh between DC and Charleston to give more time to explore. This has added a day. Tallahassee will be a quick pass through, so will gather as much time to get to San Antonio to enjoy the Riverwalk and food scene. So 9 days in total. Thoughts?

  4. I am so envious of your road trip Marina but really looking forward to sharing it with you through your blog. I know you’re going to love Charleston and all the other places along the way. A road trip in the US is like no other, anywhere. πŸ™‚

    • Oh, thanks so much Adrian. A quote for you: “In my mind I’m goin’ to Carolina … Can’t you see the sunshine? Can’t you just feel the moonshine?” β€”James Taylor. I’ve just updated the post and placed Raleigh, NC as a stop between DC and Charleston. I’m considering it given time and what I’m reading up on the spot. If there’s anything you can recommend, you must let me know. I’ll try and take photos for you!

  5. Great post but I don’t have so much to contribute on the travel side for the places you’re writing about (posted from 10.000 meters up in the air on my way to Barcelona πŸ™‚ ).

  6. Sounds like a great trip, Marina! I’ve only been to DC but i can recommend you to visit all the memorials at night… When they’re lighted they look amazing. They’re great during the day but at night… ohmy!

    The museums are well worth a visit (if you’re into that) and a big time favourite is that Air and Space πŸ˜‰

    • Thanks so much – and as you mention, the monuments at night do look spectacular. DC should be named the City of Light. Are you referring to the AeroSpace museum? Someone recommended this to me but said the lines are so long – did you find that?

      • Check out the Smithsonian Institute’s website (http://www.si.edu/ ) for info on the Air & Space Museum or any of the other ones around town. If you go during the weekday when schools are in session, it’s not as crowded as it can be during the holidays, weekends, or summer days. And the museums are free (and they’re close from each other), so you can come in and go whenever you want.

      • Thank you! Many have mentioned the Air and Space Museum, and thanks for the vote of confidence of less crowds during the day. Here’s hoping! Definitely looking at Smithsonian. And need to research the International Spy Museum that noone has mentioned – do you know it?

      • Not at the time I went… but I guess if it’s a weekend or a bank holiday the lines will be too much πŸ˜‰

  7. Can’t wait to read about this trip! I’m not much use on recommendations as I haven’t been to any of those places yet, but I am planning a circular US road trip from Las Vegas next April (Utah/Colrado/New Mexico/Arizona) and Sedona is one of my must-see spots so will be looking out for your recommendations.

    • Thanks so much Lucy! It’s pretty exciting to think about experiencing the vastness of Sedona. I see myself in a yoga pose on top of a rock formation πŸ˜‰ Your trip sounds wonderful – enjoy planning it. Any tips you may come across in the next few days, please shoot them over!

  8. Oh, you’re moving! Very cool. You will miss NY, but you can always visit. California is wonderful.

    My favorite monuments are the Lincoln, Jefferson and Vietnam. The Washington Monument is a tall obelisk you can see from all the other monuments and no one can go up in it because of earthquake damage (yes, they actually had an earthquake). The Lincoln and Jefferson are gorgeous at night, but you want to see the Vietnam Memorial during the day. It doesn’t look like much from afar, but it has impact. While you’re on the Mall, you can see the Lincoln, Washington and the Capitol all at once–very impressive. I also suggest seeing some of the Smithsonian, especially the National Gallery of Art, Air and Space Museum and Natural History Museum. Plan a LOT of time for all this–the museums are huge. Everything is right there on the Mall, but you will do a ton of walking.

    I agree with whoever suggested saving Sedona for a separate trip after you’ve moved. It’s an easy drive to Phoenix, then another hour or so to Sedona. You might want to save Santa Fe for the same reason.

    El Paso? Um, we were going to stay there until we actually saw it. Kept on driving. ‘Nuff said.

    Take lots of pics in Charleston and Savannah, because I haven’t seen them and want to. πŸ™‚

    The best advice I can give is to be flexible and remember you just can’t see everything. Better to be safe and enjoy yourselves.

    • yes, moving to CA. I already have a heavy heart, knowing I am leaving NY, but it will be here! Thanks for your advice on the day-night combos of the museums. we have a full afternoon, and a full morning in DC. I am thinking the Vietnam Memorial, Korean War Memorial, The Mall, Tidal Basin, and Smithsonian. What do you think? Also, have you heard of the International Spy Museum?

      Sedona is a must see – I have allocated 2 nights towards it.And El Paso – yes, a drive through which I don’t mind as it gives us time to just get up, and hit the road again in the AM.

      I’ll certainly do my best with photos of Charleston and Savannah. Lookign forward to seeing the trees and architecture, and trying the food.

      Thank you! And don’t be shy with tips, even when we’re on the road πŸ™‚

      • Most of the Smithsonian Museums open 10 am-5 pm, while the monuments are essentially open 24 hrs. So I’d suggest checking out the monuments either before 10 am, or after 5 pm (around sunset time and at night would be nice) and going to the museums during the day.

        International Spy Museum is a privately-owned museum. As such, it’s not free ($20/person). I’ve been there several years back; it’s pretty neat as they have real spy artifacts from the old days (notably from the Cold War era).

        Oh, if you do end up checking out the museums during the day, one suggestion for lunch is the Mitsitam Cafe (http://www.mitsitamcafe.com) at the American Indian Museum. They serve Native American cuisine from the various regions of America — could be your preview to the ‘real deal’ that you might be able to find in Arizona!

      • I love museum cafes and will consider your recommendation. You’ve been fantastic. Would you suggest the Spy Museum over the other museums? I do want to see the Vietnam and Korean Memorials during the day. How would you rate Chinatown in DC? And any special spots in Georgetown? Thank you!

      • I’d suggest the Smithsonian Museums first before the Spy Museum. There are plenty of them to see (American History, Natural History, etc.), and they are close to each other in the National Mall area. If you like art, the National Gallery of Art is a nice place to check out. It’s not as big as the Met, but the collection is equally impressive. At the National Archives you can see the original copy of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

        Chinatown in DC is only namesake — the Chinese had long moved to the suburbs. The nearby area, also called the Penn Quarter, is where the Spy Museum is, and you can also find some nice restaurants there for dining option (not Chinese food though).

        Georgetown is the oldest neighborhood in Washington, DC, and you can find many old row houses in a neighborhood walk there. There are also many shops and restaurants along M Street there, may be an option to consider for dinner. But otherwise, if you only have one day in DC, I personally would suggest skipping that in the interest of time and focus on the National Mall area.

      • I’m sold – National mall area is where we should spend most time. I know that we’ll return to NY for a visit, so can always visit DC on another trip in future. Thanks again for all this information, it’s really appreciated. You’ve helped me narrow down what we’ll do in the city. I’ll try and arrange time for dinner in Georgetown though. That will be later in the day and I am sure we’ll need to rest the weary feet πŸ™‚ Thank you again. Open to any more tips you may have.

      • Sure thing. Feel free to ask me any question via Contact page on my blog site. I enjoy playing tour guide whenever there is anyone coming to visit DC — it’s a great city for tourists.

        Couple of additional thoughts… Parking in downtown DC can be difficult to find (or expensive), so you may want to consider staying in the suburb area, drive to a Metro station, and leave your car there. I can help you with further suggestions if you know where you will be staying in town.

        Also, it’s quite a long walk from the National Mall area to Georgetown. Consider taking the DC Circulator bus to get to Georgetown (http://www.dccirculator.com/Home/BusRoutesandSchedules/GeorgetownUnionStation.aspx )

      • You will definitely be busy in D.C. Just do what you can. I’ve gone through the Spy Museum and thought it was very interesting. It was much bigger than I expected, though, so you might not have time. It was also twenty bucks compared to the free Smithsonian museums.

      • I think you’re right – should stick with the basics… well, the renowned, and go from there. I have made a late booking at Martin’s Tavern for dinner in Georgetown πŸ™‚ Thanks for the info! Keep it coming πŸ˜‰

  9. If you ask about San Diego, I’ll make suggestions πŸ™‚
    I heard Sedona is a must visit from my friends so have a blast there and take lots & lots & lots of pictures please… safe travels πŸ™‚

  10. Marina I love your itinary of your cross country route. Georgetwon in DC is a great place, Ah Sedona I am glad that it’s on your list, you will just love it. Charlestown is really great to see. Are you going through Utah by any chance there are the greatest National Parks, like Bryce Canyon and Zions, most beautiful. Hey San Diego will be a trip by itself once you are settled In L.A. you can stop by @ my house in San Clemente, it’s half way to San Diego. Have a great trip, be safe and enjoy taking hundrets of pictures and We all are looking forward to see your images on the blog. Hope we can meet @ some time in L.A. or San Clemente. Bon Voyage!!!

    • Hi Cornelia! I’m very excited for Sedona, as well as Charleston (SC) and hope to get to Georgetown in DC. No, Utah is not going to be included on this trip though I see it in my future. We have family in San Clemente so will let you know when we are in the area. I need to pay a visit to my old yoga studio, Asana Fit. And San Diego, yes – a separate trip. I have been a couple of times, but always willing to go back πŸ™‚ Thank you! I look forward to sharing images and words with you!

  11. HI Marina.

    As you set out on this amazing adventure take a few moments in each place of interest to take great photos and to really see and get a sense of the place. This is an wonderful itinery and will be an exciting adventure.

    Post lots of pictures and have a great time!

  12. Hi Marina! Any itinerary that pleases you is a great itinerary! Just enjoy it.
    As far as DC, we’ve been to a few restaurants that were good, but there was one restaurant we went to because we heard it was where Chelsea Clinton had her first date. I believe it was called Tomato (Italian restaurant). It was excellent! I love Japanese food, and the sushi restaurants we went to were really good. Georgetown is a great place too.
    Sedona is beautiful! I think you will like it.

    • I really like what you say fergiemoto, that any itinerary that pleases you is a great itinerary. I need to remember these simple things as sometimes one can get caught up in hoopla. Thank you. I am going to look up Tomato and I do love Japanese food so much. Sounds like a good lunch to me πŸ™‚ Sedona – I cannot wait. Looking forward to sharing the images and words with you! Thanks!

  13. Pingback: Yoga on the Road ~ A Pre Trip Plan « Bikram Yoga Musings

  14. Sedona is quite amazing and requires at least a few days. Dont miss a pink jeep tour if you can. Another beautiful place that we liked is Page about 3 hours north of Sedona. Just google Antelope Canyon or Horseshoe Bend and you will see why. Sorry didnt read the rest of the comments I may be repeating

  15. Marina, I’m not much of a photographer (as you can probably see on my site;)) but Page to me is a photographers dream. In addition to the sites I listed it also has a Hoover-like dam among other sites along the Utah border. Its truly a hidden gem

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