Southern Road Trip

My wife and I are planning job related moves and road trips. The first big leg of the trip is in two weeks, and it’s from Jacksonville, FL to Bryan, TX. Then, in november, we’re moving from Bryan to San Diego, CA. The question comes in three parts:

  1. What are the best tourist attractions (traps) to see along the road? It looks like most of our trip is I-10, according to mapquest, but we’re willing to go backroads if there’s something (skunkapes, largest ball of hemp rope, Odd Event Historical Site) if you think it’s worth seeing.

  2. Any good suggestions of places to eat? We enjoyed Alton Brown’s Feasting on Asphalt , and are willing to stop in dinners and cafe’s, if you say the beet pie can’t be beat.

  3. Car games. The second leg of our trip takes us across west Texas. We’ll need something to do for many miles.

We don’t have kids, so we’re not subject to their whims, and we’re pretty adventurous, so even the most off beat suggestions can be considered.

One thing you might want to do is drive along parts of Highway 90 instead of I-10 as you cross Mississippi.

There used to be lots more things to see, but one thing which I think is outstanding is what Gulfport and Biloxi had done to some of the live oaks which were killed by Katrina along the highway.

They commissioned artists to carve the stumps. The best photos I could find quickly are from someone’s blog. Scroll down the page and you’ll see them. I think that’s worth a detour.

Thanks! That helps some. Some of those carvings are amazing, Still looking for more suggestions though…

If you haven’t seen them already, you might want to stop at one of north Florida’s many springs along the way. Good for nice cool swim on a hot August day.

(Checking the list, I am saddened to see that Cypress Springs has been closed to the public and is undergoing housing development. It used to be one of my favorite off-the-beaten-path spots in Florida.)

(Missed edit window:)

Looks like Merrit’s Mill Pond is the spring most convenient to I-10, and it looks like it offers some good snorkeling (or diving, if you’re into that).

If you haven’t been to New Orleans before, it is a world-class attraction. Most would be tourists get irritated when you don’t really tell them what to see and do when you are there. You will figure it out once you go to either the Garden District or the French Quarter. It isn’t like any other American city. Just wandering the French Quarter can be mind-blowing. Supposed social drinkers usually abandon that notion fast once they get there. Almost all restaurants are great and some are among the best in the U.S. Again, you will figure it out once you get there.

You could go to Wild Adventures (a theme park in Valdosta, GA) for a little day stop. I haven’t been since shortly after it opened, but I hear it’s gotten to be alright.


Point Clear and Fairhope, AL (on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay)

The Flo (The Flora-Bama Lounge and Package (aka The Flora-Bama), located on Perdido Key in Pensacola, Florida, is a beachside oyster bar, nightclub, and Gulf Coast cultural landmark, touted as being America’s “Last Great Roadhouse”. The Flora-Bama takes its name from its location only feet away from the Florida-Alabama border (it is officially located entirely in Florida). The bar was originally in florida but due to a dispute between the two states about building a bridge over the Perdido pass, florida gave alabama the land from the pass to the bar in exchange for not having to pay for construction of the bridge.) is a piece of history.

you have to do the Garden District and the Quarter in N.O. (that’s a whole thread, from food - Commanders to the Port-o-Call; bars - Tips to Tropical Isle; sights - the Cathedral, the cemetaries, the Garden District homes)

I’d also do a swamp tour by airboat (google it)


Houston and San Antonio are both on I-10. In Houston, you can tour the Space Center, and in San Antonio, there’s some major Texas historical site…darn it, I forgot what it’s called…:wink:

I’d detour off I-10 to go to Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Coming from the East, you can get off I-10 at Fort Stockton and take US-285 north until NM-720, and take that West to the White’s City, which pretty much sits at the entrance to the National Park. (There’s also a cute eclectic museum there called the “Million Dollar Museum” that’s worth a visit.) After you’re done with Carlsbad Caverns, you can take US-62 west to El Paso and re-join I-10.

Phoenix sits right on I-10, and has some cool stuff. I enjoyed the Hall of Flame (a firefighting museum) and the Goldfield ghost town in nearby Apache Junction.

If I were making that trip, I’d make a point of stopping at Dreamland BBQ in Mobile, AL, or even perhaps detour to the original location in Tuscaloosa. I’ve never been, but it’s on my list of places to try if I’m ever near.

Starting in Jacksonville? I assume you’ve been to St. Augustine, FL. If not and you’re not coming back to the Southeast anytime soon, go visit St. Augustine right away.St. Augustine is “the oldest continuously occupied European-established city, and the oldest port, in the continental United States.” The historical section of the city is well worth seeing.

Around Destin, FL, There’s the Air Force Armament Museum which may be worked into your itenerary if that sort of thing interests you. The good thing about the Air Force Armament Museum is that it’s easily accessed which is unlike the National Naval Aviation Museum. The Naval Aviation museum in Pensacola, FL, is on a secure base which means you have to stop at a check point and you may have your car searched. However, the Naval Aviation Musuem is the better museum of the two. Also in the Ft. Walton/Destin area is the Gulfarium. It has an $18.75 entry fee and features a dolphin show, a sea lion show, and a multi-species show-think along the lines of SeaWorld but a lot smaller.

I heartily second Shagnasty’s recommendation of New Orleans. Expect it to be HOT-and-HUMID in August. I actually don’t like New Orleans in the heat but I suppose you have to take what you get.

Lake Fausse Point State Park, LA is a great place from which to base an exploration of Cajun country. Cabins are $90/night according to the website. I imagine the weather will be horribly humid as opposed to when I was there in February several years ago. Bring bug repellant. I can’t think of any, one memorable thing about Cajun country. It was all interesting and different. There were oiled, dirt roads; People spoke in another language though they all spoke English too; the levees, the trees, the moss,the Atchafalaya basin all make the place unique. While there, I visited the towns of New Iberia, Jeanerette, and St. Martinville. There’s nothing touristy specifically, just a general othercountry feeling to the area. Only stop in the area if you have a couple of days to kill.

Most of my suggestions require a time commitment. It’s hard to give good advice without knowing how much time you alot for each leg of the journey.

As far as our time frame goes, we were thinking 2 to 3 days to go from JAX to College Station. The trip to CA is much more fluid at this point.

I hear Beauvoir is currently out of commission due to hurricane damage, maybe we’ll see if it’s back in order.

Thanks for the museum tips, not getting the car searched is a plus.

That’s some good tips on Cajun country too. I’ve wondered where we can get down with them.

Historic land swap oyster bars? A BBQ place named dreamland? Excellent. Though I’m guessing the stomach may only have room for one, though I’ve heard Mobile is a great city to visit.

My wife’s a snorkeler, and I’ll float, so the pools might also be a good choice.

I’ve added to my bookmark bar, so keep 'em coming.