There’s nothing quite like a cross-country road trip. Seeing a new incredible place everyday is an experience unlike any other that you’ll have in your life. Having been on a handful of road trips myself, I can tell you that there are several places that you need to add to your next cross-country road trip–but we’ll start with these five!
1. Jackson, Wyoming
Oh, Jackson. What a special little place this is tucked into the valley between the Grand Tetons and the Gros Ventre Range in the upper lefthand corner of Wyoming. Many people travel here to explore Grand Teton National Park (HIGHLY recommend) or to take advantage of one of the handful of ski resorts this mountainous region has to offer. But this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what there is to see in do in this seemingly remote ski resort town.
As with many other ski resort towns, Jackson is home to a bustling social culture that radiates throughout both the winter and the summer. There are plenty of rustic bars to sip at and restaurants to enjoy around Jackson Town Square. One such place is Pinky G’s Pizzeria, which may seem like your run-of-the-mill pizza joint but man you won’t find better pizza in the whole state–ask the dozens of people that are always lined out the front door.
Just north of downtown Jackson is the National Elk Refuge, which serves as a winter habitat for the protected Jackson Elk Herd. During the winter, you could potentially get a glimpse from a safe distance. Even in the summer, though, you can pop by their extravagant visitor center to learn more about the herd and see the beautiful plains for yourself.
2. Moab, Utah
Moab is the accompanying city that serves as a landing pad for those looking to explore Arches National Park, which sits just outside the city’s limits. If you’re heading to Arches on your road trip, you need to stay here–you don’t have much choice. If you weren’t planning on stopping by Arches, I highly recommend that you do when you stop in Moab. After all, it is Moab’s main attraction.
Even though Moab is in the middle of the desert, you’ll find that Arches is far from the only attraction Moab has to offer. Moab is also conveniently located near Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park. After a day of hiking and exploring, you can refuel at Milt’s Stop & Eat–Moab’s oldest (and arguably most delicious) restaurant.
Since the 1950’s, Milt’s Stop & Eat has been serving up juicy made-to-order burgers and shakes to locals and travelers alike. Every burger that comes out of this teeny, tiny place is grass-fed, hormone-free, and hand-crafted to order.
3. Page Arizona
I am a sucker for a good desert city and you won’t find one better than Page, Arizona. This “city”, which is home to just over 7,000 people, is a hub for otherworldly adventures. While Page itself is pretty small, there is an abundance to see and do in the surrounding area. Just a few excursions that are easily accessible from Page are…
- Touring Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon
- Swimming / boating on Lake Powell
- Seeing the Glen Canyon Dam
- Hiking to Horseshoe Bend
- Visiting Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
The sheer volume of things there are to see and do around Page is enough to convince you to stay at least one day here. However, you’ll need much more time than that to see it all.
When I visited Page, Arizona, my parents and I were in the midst of a health crisis so the only place we stopped to eat at here was R D’s Drive-In. This quaint little place was just what the doctor ordered. We went through the drive-thru on our way out of town and, even though it’s a bit dive-y, the food is like the stuff mom makes–hot, fresh, and comforting, which can be a really great game-changer if you find yourself visiting a string of fast food restaurants on your road trip.
4. Kansas City, Missouri
Maybe it’s just me but never before I visited here did I think to myself, “I really want to visit Missouri.” So, when my parents told me we’d be stopping in Kansas City on one of our road trips, I was as confused as I was disenchanted. Dang, was I wrong, though.
Kansas City is one of the eclectic and vibrant cities I’ve ever visited, and I’ve seen a lot of cities. As the largest city in the entire midwest state of Missouri, there’s a lot of different cultures mixing and vibing here. One of the most prominent ones–and one that truly knocked me on my ass–is Kansas City’s thriving art scene.
What’s more, Kansas City’s art is spread far and wide as most of the pieces are large structures sprinkled throughout the delicately manicured city. When I was there, we took a guided segway tour to a handful of different installations, which is (in my opinion) the most effective way to get a good taste of both the city and the art scene.
Speaking of “taste”, though, Kansas City is also known far and wide for its barbeque. I kid you not, you will not find barbeque like this anywhere else in the whole world, even in Texas. When I was there, we went to the Freight House location of Jack Stack Barbecue and man, it changed my life. Any of their smoked meats are incredible. So are their barbeque shrimp. Also, if you don’t get the cheesy corn, you are ruining your own life.
5. Durango, Colorado
When one thinks of road tripping to Colorado, places like Boulder, Denver, and Aspen are usually the first thing to come to mind. Colorado has a hidden gem, though, deep down in the bottom lefthand corner of the state.
Durango, Colorado is a small city that feels like a small town but offers a mixed bag of exciting activities to enjoy. For starters, Durango’s heritage was built by and with the locomotive business that swept through this part of the country in the early 1800s. Take a scenic ride to historic Silverton aboard a vintage steam train.
While you’re in Durango, you’ll find lots of great places to shop and eat along Main Avenue. All of my silver and turquoise jewelry is from here and the folks running the shops couldn’t be nicer. Also, be sure to stop by Michel’s Corner Crepes–this tiny crepe shack churns out some of the best savory crepes I’ve ever had.
Durango is also a great vantage point for a variety of day trips into the incredible natural landscapes surrounding the city. Take a drive out to the Four Corners, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, or Mesa Verde National Park–arguably one of the ~neatest~ national parks you’ll find in these united states.