Ask Lonely Planet: Coast to coast

The great American road trip. Photo / Thinkstock
The great American road trip. Photo / Thinkstock

I'm from the States and want to show my Kiwi partner the real USA - an off-the-beaten-track-style road trip from coast to coast. What route would be best if we were looking to drive between New York and Los Angeles? We're summer types, love the water, sun and outdoor activities. I love photography and am really keen to get some great panoramic landscape shots. She loves vintage clothing and would be very keen on the fashion side of things. - Brandon

Lonely Planet's Sarah Bennett and Lee Slater reply:

To get a wide-ranging taste of the real America, we suggest tracing a route that joins the dots between some of the US' national parks and cosmopolitan cities.

Hire a car from New Jersey rather than New York, as this will be cheaper. Head south along the eastern seaboard visiting historic Philadelphia with its burgeoning food, art and music scene, then drive the grand boulevards of Washington DC before exploring its excellent museums.

Further south, take in the antebellum allure of Charlestown and Savannah before heading inland through Alabama to New Orleans and its soundtrack of smokin' hot jazz, brass bands and succulent Cajon and Creole cuisine. In Texas, don't miss the state capital, Austin, where revelry is on tap in the form of indie music and craft beer, nor Big Bend National Park that boasts dramatic mesa and desert scenery.

En route to Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon is a must-see, while side-trips north to Utah's Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks are well worth the extra mileage. From Vegas, you can reach Yosemite in a day but a detour through Death Valley will make the journey a road trip highlight.

Your partner's love of vintage clothing can be sated easily en route, and especially so in New York. East Village shops Edith Machinist and Village Style are recommended, while a Big Apple vintage shopping Top 10 is given at

In Austin, head for Flashback Vintage, and if there's room in the boot by the time you reach LA, try Elsewhere Vintage in Orange for apparel from Victorian times through to the swinging 60s.

A Rand McNally US road atlas,,, and will help you plan your adventure.


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- NZ Herald

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