Friday, November 18, 2011

Where to Go ? -- Jan 2012

Hi Jamie,

Just wanting some advice on an itinerary for a 4.5 week road trip of the USA end of December to end of January, we are wanting to see as much of the country as we can round trip from LA to LA. We are hiring a car for the entire trip. Your help would be much appreciated. We are 2 adults with no children from Australia.

Kind Regards


Hi Charmaine --

Many thanks for writing in to Road Trip USA. You can get a long way in a month, and traveling in winter you will have some unusual experiences of what is generally a very hot, desert region.

I'd give yourselves a few days at both ends of the trip to enjoy LA -- which has some world-class art museums, beautiful scenery and all the Hollywood glamor you could want. A couple my "must-sees" that are not totally famous would include Catalina Island (26 miles off he coastline) and Laguna Beach, a quaint artsy town surrounded by sprawling suburbia. (LA is HUGE -- so yes you need a car the whole time you're there. )

After LA, I'd say check out San Diego, but depending upon how much driving you really want to do the focus of the trip should be the desert Southwest -- Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. The Grand Canyon is the most famous spot, but there are dozens of unforgettable setting here -- 1000-year-old aboriginal "cliff palaces" at Mesa Verde and Canyon de Chelley, wonderful Native American communities in he Pueblos around Santa Fe and Taos New Mexico, the Rocky Mountains of Colorado (great for skiing), and the red-rock wonderlands of Utah (Arches, Canyonlands and many more national parks)

If you really want to be ambitious, you could drive all the way "coast to coast", but in January you 'd likely have a lot of dark stormy nights driving along motorway/freeways, which is not exactly fun. I'd choose to spend some time in the plush resorts of Phoenix, rather than drive around New Jersey -- though if you want to see New Orleans and south Florida, you could have a great trip along what I describe as the "Southern Pacific" route, in Road Trip USA.

What is definitely fun, even in the depths of winter, is the West Coast -- maybe as far north as Seattle, but definitely Portland / Columbia Gorge / Cascades region, and the glorious Oregon Coast, and of course San Francisco. I cover the whole West Coast drive in Road Trip USA, and have tons of good suggestions (I'm doing the Big Sur drive myself next week -- it's my favorite highway in the whole USA...)

And one last place to put on your list would be Yosemite National Park, which you can reach via Death Valley, from Las Vegas. (If you like flashy neon signs and over-the-top glitz, Las Vegas is phenomenal !)

Hope this gives you an outline of what you might want to see on your trip -- if you have any specific questions, please feel free to write me back.

With best wishes,

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA


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