Driving from Coast to Coast: The Road Trip Plan

We are officially ONE month away from our BIG road trip, and I think we have a solidified road trip plan. We have a mini van rented, hotel rooms booked, and a loose itinerary for what to do when we get to each place. For this coast-to-coast road trip we’ll drive through 11 states, spend 13 nights in hotels, travel at least 2,800 miles, spend 45+ hours in the car (God, help us!), enjoy different regional cuisine, and get to see sites from different parts of the country! Whew! Are we there yet?!

This summer we're driving from coast to coast, seeing the sites, and eating delicious food along the way. This is our road trip plan!

We usually drive the south, I-10 route through Louisiana and south Texas when we drive to New Mexico, but since we’ve done that drive way too many times to count, we decided to switch things up and see new places. Our original plan was to rent an RV, but because car seats aren’t exactly approved in them, we sadly ditched that idea and decided to rent a mini van instead. My parents are flying out and driving one of the vehicles with us, so we’ll be caravanning it from coast to coast…and we can’t wait!

If you’ve been around here for awhile then you know how much we love road trips, and I’m really excited for this new route we’re taking. This is our plan, and I’m officially open to any and all suggestions on where/what to eat and things to do. I’m also in need of a hashtag for this trip (because, that’s clearly a priority)!

The Road Trip Plan:

  • Cherokee, North Carolina (1 night)
  • Nashville, Tennessee (1 night)
  • St. Louis, Missouri (2 nights)
    • Spending more time here, but I have no idea what to do. It looks like there is SO much to do in St. Louis, so tell me all about the best things for families. I’ve seen a lot of free activities, and I’m not one to shy away from free!
  • Salina, Kansas (1 night)
    • Also, if you know of any great eats/stops between STL and Salina, or from Salina to Colorado, please let me know!
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado (1 night)
    • We’re staying at a TownePlace Suites in Garden of the Gods. I’ve been there before, but my husband hasn’t, so we’re going to check that out the morning before we hit the road again. I love Colorado Springs, and we almost stayed there for two nights, but our next two stops trumped that idea.
  • Moab, Utah (3 nights)
    • We are SO excited for this stay. Moab is home to Arches National Park, and we’re planning on hiking and seeing all that there is to see in Moab. My husband and I already have a reservation for a guided hike around the Fiery Furnace, but we’re looking to add something else on to our stay there. If you’ve been there I’d love to hear all about it! We’re also open to great scenic drives in the area.
  • Springdale, Utah (2 nights)
    • Similar to Moab, we’re spending extra time here to check out Zion National Park. So much beautiful packed into Utah; we can’t wait to see it all! We’re also open to great scenic drive in the area.
  • Las Vegas, Nevada (2 nights)
    • We’re going to Vegas, and we’ll have babysitters (my parents), so this clearly deserved a two-night stay.
  • San Diego (3+ years)
    • We found a house in San Diego(!!!), but it won’t be ready to move into until the middle of July, so until then, we’ll be staying in an AirBnB I found. I’m crossing my fingers it’s a good place; they have an outdoor space for our dog, and the size of it should work for our family. We’ll be cramped, but it’s just for a few weeks. It turns out that the Marine Air Station we’re going to doesn’t have a TLF or any pet-friendly places, so an AirBnb was the next best alternative.

Okay, so there you have it, our epic, coast-to-coast road trip plan. There’s a lot that needs to happen before we leave (you know, like packing up all of our stuff), but this trip is my light at the end of the tunnel. I’m so excited for it, and I can’t wait to share different parts of the trip with you.

This summer we're driving from coast to coast, seeing the sites, and eating delicious food along the way. This is our road trip plan!

Now it’s your turn…spill it! Tell us where we need to stop and where we need to eat!




  1. Jess: One of the best trips Poppy and I ever took was up, across, and down Utah. We saw every National Park we could see and it was a wonderful trip. You will love it! I can’t remember where we stayed or ate, but that won’t matter because of the sites you will see. It was one of our most memorable trips. Enjoy the ride and take lots of pictures!

    Luv ya, Grandma

  2. St. Louis has sooooo much free stuff to do! Everything I would suggest to do though, your girls might be to little for. My top recommendation would be the City Museum, but you all will get more out of it than the girls. Try the Magic House, the zoo is free and it’s in Forest Park which also has museums and the buildings from the 1904 World’s Fair. I take it you all are going to Miramar? I’ve got a few friends there. The Marine Corps is a different world than the Air Force.

    1. I think we may try to hit up the zoo….because FREE! And I’ll look into the City Museum, too. Yup, Miramar; it’s definitely going to be interesting being the only Air Force family there!

      1. Hah, well we feel you on that one. We’re like 1 of 7 AD Air Force families spread out all over Jacksonville, FL. It’s an interesting learning curve.

  3. Stop at Patti’s off I-24 in Grand Rivers, Kentucky on your trip between Nashville & St. Louis. It is the cutest 1800’s themed restaurant and their food is delicious!!! They bake their bread in flower pots!!!

  4. We did a similar trip 14 years ago and loved it! You could consider stopping in Palm Springs for a night or two. We only planned one night in Palm Springs on our trip and stayed for 3!! It was beautiful and relaxing. Have fun!

    1. I can’t wait to visit Palm Springs! It won’t be on the trip out to SD, but I do see a trip there in the future, possibly for our anniversary next year!

  5. Driving through Utah and Denver is an excellent idea. Those states are so gorgeous! This sounds like a dream road trip! I’ve always wanted to go to Zion but never made it when I lived in Arizona. Arches National Park was beautiful though! Have a great time!

  6. Driving through Utah and Denver is an excellent idea. Those states are so gorgeous! This sounds like a dream road trip! I’ve always wanted to go to Zion but never made it when I lived in Arizona. Arches National Park was beautiful though! Have a great time!

  7. My parents lived near Cherokee up until last year and it is gorgeous in the mountains. Are you going to check out the casino? They have a few good restaurants in there (and a buffet of course!) and the hotel itself there is gorgeous too. Definitely at least worth a peek!

    1. Oh, I love that you know the area! We drove through Cherokee last year when we went to Gatlinburg, and we loved the little town and vowed to go back! Any specific restaurants we should check out in the casino or around the area?

  8. We followed the same plan when we drove west to east coast, just up a little higher. There was some really cool stuff and in hindsight I wished we had taken longer driving through some of the places. We were clearly insane…but isn’t that a staple identifier of most military families, I mean, right? Can I get an amen?! I’m so excited for you guys!!!

  9. You’ll be driving through Kansas City, and while there’s a lot to do there (esp. with kids – Lego Land, Kaleidoscope, and Crayola!), if you’re just driving through, you at least need some good KC BBQ!! Jack Stack is my favorite for sure! If you go, order some burnt ends!! 🙂

  10. GIRL! This looks like so much fun! When you’re in Vegas, especially if you haven’t been before, be sure to check out the Bellagio Fountains and if it’s in the budget it’s 100% worth it to eat at Bobby Flay’s restaurant Mesa (inside Caesar’s)

  11. That’s going to be such a fun trip! We did a trip from upstate NY to LA and went a more southern route because it was winter, when we traveled. Can’t wait to hear about all your adventures during each stop!

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