Best Cross-Country U.S. Road Trip: Southern Route Itinerary

Updated: April 18, 2023

U.S. Southern Route – Pacific Ocean, desert landscapes, prairies, rolling hills, and mountains

The best way to see America is by road. And there’s no better road trip than a cross-country journey from coast to coast. While there are many different routes you could take, the southern route is the perfect way to experience much that the United States has to offer.

Starting in Los Angeles, you’ll wind your way through the desert landscapes of Arizona, the Grand Canyon, and New Mexico before arriving in Texas. From there, you’ll head east through Oklahoma, taking in the views of vast prairies and rolling hills. Continuing on, you’ll travel through Arkansas and the scenic southern Ozark Mountains. The journey will then take into Tennessee across the Mississippi River towards the rolling hills of the Smoky Mountains. From there you will head to western North Carolina passing through the Blue Ridge Mountains as you finish your journey in historic Charlottesville.

Along the way, you’ll sample some of the best food in the country, enjoy live music, and visit some of America’s most historic sites. So gas up your car and get ready for an unforgettable journey through the best of the South.

The ideal time to embark on a road trip across the southern United States, commencing from Los Angeles, California, and concluding in Charlottesville, Virginia, would be during the spring months, specifically between April and May. This timeframe offers moderate temperatures, a reduced likelihood of encountering extreme weather conditions, and an abundance of picturesque landscapes adorned with blooming flora. As you traverse the diverse terrain and experience the rich cultural tapestry of this region, the spring season enhances the overall journey, enabling you to create lifelong memories while exploring America’s southern charm.

Griffith Observatory – Los Angeles – California | Cameron Venti | Unsplash

Best Cross-Country U.S. Road Trip: Southern Route Road Trip Plan Map | © Geovea ©Mapbox ©OpenStreetMap

Trip Highlights: 1. Los Angeles  2. Sedona  3. Santa Fe  4. Amarillo  5. Oklahoma City  6. Hot Springs  7. Memphis  8. Nashville  9. Asheville  10. Charlottesville

1. Los Angeles, California

Elysian Reservoir, Grand View Point – Los Angeles – California | Juan Carlos Becerra | Unsplash

There’s always something to do in this city of angels

Los Angeles is a sprawling metropolis with something to offer everyone. From the Hollywood Sign and Walk of Fame to the Griffith Observatory and Santa Monica Pier, there are countless iconic landmarks to explore. Los Angeles is also home to a thriving arts and culture scene, with world-renowned museums, theaters, and concert venues.

And of course, no visit to Los Angeles would be complete without indulging in some of the city’s famous cuisine. Whether you’re looking for a casual lunch spot or a fine dining experience, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for in Los Angeles. With so much to see and do, it’s no wonder Los Angeles is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

Cathedral Rock – Sedona – Arizona | Sean Pavone | Dreamstime

Welcome to Red Rock Country

Sedona, Arizona is an amazingly beautiful town that has a rich history. The red rock formations are breathtaking, but what makes it even more special is the Native American culture. There are so many things to do in Sedona for families and singles alike including hiking, biking, fishing, sightseeing, shopping, and dining.

The city has many attractions including the famous Chapel of the Holy Cross. You can also explore the area’s most popular attractions with guided tours or hire a personal tour guide to take you on your own custom adventure! If you’re looking for something different than the average vacation spot then Sedona is perfect for you!

Santa Fe – New Mexico | Sean Pavone | Dreamstime

A city with beautiful scenery, rich history, and a cultural vibe

Santa Fe is a city in New Mexico that is known for its beautiful Spanish colonial architecture, as well as its vibrant arts and culture scene. Santa Fe was founded in 1607 by Spanish settlers, and it quickly became an important stop on the Santa Fe Trail, a trade route that connected the city to other parts of the American West. Santa Fe was also the capital of the Confederacy during the American Civil War.

Today, Santa Fe is a popular tourist destination, with visitors coming from all over the world to experience its unique blend of Spanish and Native American cultures. Santa Fe is also home to a number of art galleries, museums, and restaurants, making it an ideal destination for a weekend getaway. Santa Fe is known for its beautiful adobe buildings, stunning landscapes, and vibrant art scene. It is also a great place to enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and skiing. Whether you are visiting Santa Fe for its history or its outdoor adventures, you are sure to have a memorable experience.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park – Texas | DelanoGraves | Dreamstime

Route 66 attractions, rich history, culture, museums, and art galleries with local talent

Amarillo is a city in the Texas Panhandle that is known for its cowboy culture and Route 66 history. Amarillo is also the home of the Cadillac Ranch, a public art installation consisting of ten abandoned Cadillacs buried nose-down in a field. Visitors to Amarillo can explore the city’s Western heritage at the Amarillo Heritage Center or take a scenic drive along the Route 66 Historic District.

Amarillo is also home to Palo Duro Canyon, the second-largest canyon in the United States. If you’re looking for a place to get your cowboy fix, Amarillo is the place to be! There are several rodeos and cowboy festivals throughout the year, and you can even visit a working cattle ranch. Amarillo is also a great place to enjoy the outdoors, with numerous parks and hiking trails to explore. Whether you’re interested in history or nature, Amarillo has something to offer everyone.

Bricktown – Oklahoma City – Oklahoma | Sean Pavone | Dreamstime

Vibrant City – museums to monuments, trendy restaurants, and nightlife spots

Oklahoma City is the capital and largest city of Oklahoma. The city is home to a variety of attractions, including the Oklahoma City National Memorial, the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds, and the Bricktown Entertainment District. Oklahoma City also boasts a diverse range of restaurants, shopping opportunities, and nightlife venues.

Visitors can explore the city’s many museums and art galleries, or take a scenic stroll through one of its many parks and gardens. Whether you’re looking for an exciting urban adventure or a relaxing weekend getaway, Oklahoma City has something to offer everyone.

Hot Springs – Arkansas | Sean Pavone | Dreamstime

Relax in amazing hot springs, nature trails, and outdoor activities to enjoy nearby

Hot Springs Arkansas, located in the Ouachita Mountains is a popular tourist destination for those looking to relax in the soothing hot springs. The area is also home to Hot Springs National Park, which offers visitors a chance to enjoy the natural beauty of the region. In addition to the hot springs, Hot Springs Arkansas is also known for its abundance of hiking trails.

The Hot Springs Mountain Tower provides stunning views of the surrounding area, and the Hot Springs Convention Center is a great place to catch a concert or show. Whether you’re looking to relax in the hot springs or explore the great outdoors, Hot Springs Arkansas is sure to have something for everyone.

Memphis Pyramid Observation Deck – Tennessee | Sean Pavone | Dreamstime

Home to Graceland, known for its music scene, history, BBQ and lively atmosphere

Memphis is a city located along the Mississippi River in southwestern Tennessee. Memphis is best known for its musical heritage and its role in the civil rights movement. The city has a long history of blues, rock ‘n’ roll, and soul music. Memphis is also home to the National Civil Rights Museum, which chronicles the history of the civil rights movement in the United States.

Visitors to Memphis can learn about the city’s musical legacy at the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, or explore the downtown area, which is home to many popular attractions, including Beale Street, Mud Island, and the Memphis Pyramid.

Cumberland River – Nashville – Tennessee | Jonathan Ross | Dreamstime

Country music capital of the world, diverse food scene, and outdoor activities

Nashville is a city with a rich history and a bright future. Founded in 1779, Nashville was originally a small town situated on the Cumberland River. Today, Nashville has grown into a thriving metropolis, known for its music, its food, and its friendly people. Nashville is home to a vibrant music scene, featuring both country and rock music. Nashville’s music industry is diverse, with a strong focus on country music Nashville has a vibrant live music scene and is home to numerous music venues, including the Grand Ole Opry and Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Nashville is also a major center for the music recording industry, with numerous record labels and studios located in the city. The city is also home to some of the best restaurants in the country, serving everything from Southern comfort food to international cuisine. And Nashville’s residents are some of the most welcoming people you’ll ever meet. Whether you’re visiting Nashville for business or pleasure, you’re sure to have a memorable experience.

Asheville – North Carolina | Sean Pavone | Dreamstime 

Mountain getaway with lively arts scene, delicious cuisine, and stunning surroundings

Asheville North Carolina is a beautiful city located in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The city is home to many different attractions, including the Biltmore Estate, the Asheville Zoo, Thomas Wolfe Memorial, and the Asheville Art Museum. Asheville is also known for its vibrant music scene, and there are many different live music venues located throughout the city. Asheville also has a lot of great restaurants, breweries, and cafes. If you are looking for a place to stay, there are many hotels and bed and breakfasts in Asheville.

In addition to its many cultural attractions, Asheville is also a great place to enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and canoeing. Whether you’re looking for an exciting city break or a relaxing mountain getaway, Asheville North Carolina is the perfect destination.

Albemarle County Courthouse – Charlottesville Historic District – Virginia | Joe Sohm | Dreamstime

Nestled in the foothills with great history, landmarks, culture, and outdoor adventure

Charlottesville, Virginia is a city that beautifully incorporates history, culture, and outdoor activities. Not only was it the home of Thomas Jefferson, but also offers an opportunity to explore his plantation at Monticello – a UNESCO World Heritage Site! Moreover, visitors can wander through downtown Charlottesville’s quaint shops and restaurants while appreciating its historical landmarks such as the University of Virginia founded by none other than our third president himself in 1819.

Beyond its cultural and historic allure, Charlottesville is celebrated for its plentiful vineyards and wineries. Situated in the center of Virginia’s wine districts, this stunning city offers some of the most exceptional viniculture experiences available! Here visitors can indulge in a variety of wines while surrounded by idyllic views only found at these sprawling vineyards.

The Blue Ridge Mountains promise breathtaking views and an outdoor lover’s paradise for those looking to explore Virginia. From kayaking in the river to biking on its trails, and even hiking up its hills, these mountains offer some of the best recreational activities around. Charlottesville stands apart as a destination that combines culture with history and alluring natural beauty – it is simply perfect for anyone seeking adventure!

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