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need help planning a road trip from Los Angeles to Florida

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Fodorites, I truly need your help. I am trying to plan a road trip from Los Angeles to Florida and back. I have never attempted a road trip this long and have really only taken several day road trips as child. I will be traveling with my friend and my daughter who is twelve. We will be traveling in my friend's new SUV. My husband will joining us in New Orleans, where we can stay for several days. We will stay two weeks in Florida before making our return trip. We plan to visit some Tiki establishments along the way in:

Scottsdale (we can stay with family there)
Tucson
Dallas
Atlanta
(and quite a few in Florida, but we can do that during our two weeks there)

We also want to visit:
Paris, TX
New Mexico
and possibly the Grand Canyon (we have not been there)

I had laid things out along mapquest and referenced Fodor's and Frommer's online (and Roadside America!!) but the trip did not really seem to make sense and I knew that I needed some help. Then, I did a search here, on road trips, and realized that I really needed help!! Those road trips posts are amazing! I want to have trip like that!!

Here are some things that we like:
quaint little towns, (but do not need to see a time capsule Western town, we have that near us)
Kitschy things from the 1950's and 1960's
nature hikes
amazing landscapes
good ethnic food
vintage hotels
vintage clothing and furnishing stores
Elvis
cacti
animals

How much driving should we do in a day? I was thinking of five to six hours, but did not know what was best.

Please help me pull together one of those great trips! I just have no idea where to start and how to know what little towns are the ones that we should stay in (I had considered: Brisbee, Marfa, Austin, the Layfayette area, but I am not committed to those towns) and where to drive the little roads and what to stop and see.

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    Just dropping in before cooking dinner and after reading your list you definitely need to add Austin, Texas to your stops. If you can find a February issue of Budget Travel it has an article "25 Reasons to Love Austin". I just spent a week there which was only meant to be a weekend. I didn't want to leave. Vintage clothing stores, kitchy things, and just a great vibe there. Their motto is "Keep Austin Weird". Check out San Jose Motel on South Congress. It's very cool and in a great location. Old motor inn that has been decorated with a quirky, minimalist modern twist.

    www.sanjosehotel.com

    Outside of Austin is Hill Country. Old "kitchy" towns on two-lane roads that take you through a pretty part of Texas. We went through Wimberley, Texas, and found the mother lode of vintage cowboy boots at Kool Boots.

    Also, Santa Fe, New Mexico would be high on my list. Nature hikes, amazing landscapes (and around Abiquiu, too, where Georgia O'Keefe lived and was inspired), great New Mexican food, vintage shops and more.

    I feel that the Grand Canyon is a must. I didn't have high expectations of it but upon arriving it literally took my breath away and I would love to take 3-4 days to spend time in the canyon, hiking, rafting and camping at Phantom Ranch. There are no words or photos that do it justice.

    Hope that helps.

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    If your members of AAA, they have a great online page that you can use to plan your Road Trip. You can set way points on a map and see everything there is to see in between. Plus at the end you can print the whole thing out and take it with you.

    As for how many hours to drive in a day, I think that is up to what you want to see that day. For instance, you really want to spend some time bopping around Dallas. So I would make the day you drive into Dallas a day your only driving 4-5 hours, so you have plenty of time to do what you want to. This might mean that the day before or the day after might have to be a long day like 8-9 hours.

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    Hey BeachGirl747,

    It sounds like we like to travel the same way! We are going to Austin, actually we are going to stay in a little old cabin in the hill country for a couple of nights and go into Austin for vintage shopping. Thank you for the Kool Boots tip! We will have to hit that one. I hope that you left some boots for us!

    I have been working on our trip a lot and so I suppose that I should update this post. I would love to hear what you think and please let me know if I have left anthing out.

    We are going to Drive from LA to Palm Springs and stop for a hike and a picnic. Then on to Scottsdale for Happy Hour at Trader Vic's.

    The next day we will drive to the Kon Tiki in Tucson for lunch and continue on to Bisbee to stay at The Shady Dell to stay in a vintage trailer http://www.theshadydell.com/ .

    Then we will spend the night in Carlsbad so that we can see the Carlsbad Caverns the next morning.

    After the caverns we will drive to Marfa for two nights and go to the museum there.

    Then on to the Texas Hill Country for two nights in a little 20's cabin. We want to go to go to Gruene for music and into Ausitn to vintage shop.

    Our next stop in Breaux Bridge, LA for a night of food and music. Then a day of exploring that area before we go into New Orleans.

    That is as far as I have gotten. Our return trip will include Graceland, the Dallas Trader Vic's, New Mexico and Route 66, and then the Grand Canyon.

    I am so glad that you were breath-taken with the Grand Canyon. It will be my first visit. Thank you for all the great suggestions!

    Bon_Bon, The AAA trip planning program sounds great! Everyone Fodor's really love AAA! Thank you for kind driving advice!

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