New York to California: Highlights from a Cross-Country Road Trip

Cross Country Road Trip to the West Coast

It’s hard to believe that I’ve already been living in California for two whole weeks. It’s been a whirlwind as I’ve transitioned from an amazing cross-country road trip to life in a new city and a new home.

One thing remains the same: I’m writing this post in the comfort of my bedroom with a cup of coffee close by.

The road to this point was quite a journey, and I’d like to share some of the highlights from my Road Trip to the West Coast. Over 12 days, my mother and I traveled from my hometown in New York to Newport Beach, CA. It took 12 days because rather than take the fastest route, we decided to make a mini-vacation out of it and even stayed in certain cities for an extra day. This was our complete itinerary:

Day 1: New York to Washington, D.C.
Day 2: Washington D.C. to Nashville
Day 3: Full Day in Nashville
Day 4: Nashville to Mississippi
Day 5: Mississippi to New Orleans
Day 6: New Orleans to Galveston
Day 7: Galveston to Austin
Day 8: Exploring Austin
Day 9: Austin to El Paso
Day 10: El Paso to Scottsdale
Day 11: Relaxing in Scottsdale
Day 12: Scottsdale to Newport Beach

Keep reading to discover the landmarks, restaurants, and beautiful sights from our trip.  I hope you enjoy a little glimpse into our once in a lifetime adventure.

Day 1: New York to Washington, D.C.

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All packed up and ready to hit the road!

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We made it to D.C. safely, and hopped on the Metro to see the sights.

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Up close and personal at the Washington Monument.

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We celebrated a successful first day with dinner and drinks at Old Ebbitt Grill.

Day 2: Washington D.C. to Nashville

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In preparation for a LONG day of driving, we got on the road bright and early.

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Just me and mom, in good spirits.

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We stopped for lunch in Abingdon, VA. Delish.

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Back on the road. Blue skies in every direction.

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After almost nine hours of driving…finally! Nashville was near. (We were so happy to learn that we had entered a new time zone and gained an hour! We needed it.)

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We spent that extra hour relaxing at our hotel, and even managed to find a little New York.

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After some pool time and a nap, we enjoyed some late night drinks and snacks at the popular speakeasy, The Patterson House. A great spot to check out if you’re ever in Nashville!

Day 3: Full Day in Nashville

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One of the best things about our trip is that we were able to set aside 12 days for travel, which allowed us to have extra time in the cities of our choice. I had always wanted to visit Nashville, and we definitely had a blast exploring this cool city.

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We began our day by walking around Downtown Nashville.

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This lawn looked especially appetizing – I had to take a quick rest.

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We grabbed our first meal of the day at Arnold’s Country Kitchen, famous in Nashville for its “Meat Plus Three” combo. Meatloaf for breakfast? Hey, we didn’t mind. This food was delicious.

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We were in Nashville during Memorial Day Weekend, so the city was hopping!

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The city was also HOT! I had to snag this shot of my mint chocolate chip before it completely melted down my arm.

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Hanging with Dolly Parton in front of Legends Corner.

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I don’t think a trip to Nashville would be complete without a trip to the Grand Ole Opry. I was so happy to be able to treat my mother to a night of music in such a legendary place.

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We had a wonderful night.

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And we closed out the evening with some beers and live country on Honky Tonk Row!

Day 4: Nashville to Mississippi

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Up and at ’em! We said goodbye to Nashville and I got the car ready for another day of driving.

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We headed farther south, towards Mississippi. Along the way, we stopped in Birmingham, AL for some lunch.

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Our waiter in Nashville recommended Urban Standard for some strong coffee, good eats, and an eclectic atmosphere. After eating this brisket reuben, I was so happy we took his recommendation.

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Cruising on yet another highway.

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Hello, Mississippi!

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We didn’t have much planned when we reached our destination. It was more of a pitstop night before our next city adventure. Mississippi consisted of grabbing some wine at the local liquor store…

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…and catching up on some much needed rest!

Day 5: Mississippi to New Orleans

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Our stop in Mississippi put us only about two hours away from our next destination, New Orleans!

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We belted out a few tunes as we entered The Big Easy.

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First, we took a walk along the Mississippi River.

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Then, we headed to our absolutely gorgeous hotel, The Royal Sonesta. It’s not only located in the heart of Bourbon Street, but it was probably one of the most elegant hotels I’ve ever been to. Mom and I are already talking about our next trip there.

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After scoping out the hotel, we took to the streets. We were still in the midst of Memorial Day Weekend, and New Orleans was packed!

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We ventured into Erin Rose, where I tried their famous Frozen Irish Coffee. It was awesome.

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Back at the hotel, we ended the afternoon with a poolside cocktail. This pool area is another reason why I love the Royal Sonesta.

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Mom liked the pool, too.

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We received a complimentary bottle of champagne upon booking, which we happily popped and sipped on our balcony. Cheers!

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Next, we headed out for the night. Our first stop was a drink at the Carousel Bar & Lounge. We didn’t get to ride the famous carousel bar (all the seats were full), but we did take silly pictures in the bathroom.

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The highlight of the night? Our ride on this pedicab. We had the best driver who took us on a delightful night ride to our dinner spot.

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All smiles, hair blowing in the wind.

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To top off an already amazing day, we enjoyed dinner at Restaurant August, New Orleans’ top French restaurant.

Day 6: New Orleans to Galveston, TX

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After grabbing some morning fuel, we said farewell to New Orleans and headed west towards Texas!

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Howdy, Texas!

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I picked up a sweet treat at one of our pitstops.

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After a few hours on the road, we made it to Galveston Island.

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We stayed at the historic Hotel Galvez, located right on the beach.

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We ventured across the street to explore this cute, little beach town.

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Greetings from the Gulf of Mexico!

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We returned from the beach, got refreshed, and headed out to dinner.

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We enjoyed some delicious red snapper at Gaido’s Seafood Restaurant. So fresh.

Day 7: Galveston to Austin

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We battled some stormy conditions during our trip to Austin.

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Thankfully, we reached our next destination safely. Hello, Omni Hotel – Downtown Austin.

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We spruced up and headed down to 6th Street for some dinner and drinks.

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I just loved the white string lights hanging across the well-known street.

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It was a margarita night.

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As night fell, 6th Street grew brighter – and sweeter. We loved witnessing this cute couple enjoying their first night as husband and wife.

Day 8: Exploring Austin

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We planned another full day stop in Austin. It started off with breakfast, coffee, and animal crackers at Halcyon.

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Next, we explored Austin’s Town Lake area. I just “loved” this wall adorned with heart shaped rocks.

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Mom peeked over the bridge.

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She found these little guys sitting on a log!

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Another great day. We had a lovely, relaxing walk.

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Back at the hotel, we enjoyed our rooftop pool and this stunning view of the city.

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As the sun began to set, we made our way to this dock near The Four Seasons Hotel to wait for Austin’s bats to come out and fly across the sky.

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It’s a nightly ritual, and so many people came out to witness the sight.

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The bats did not really photograph well, but that line in the sky is them!

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We ended the night with a few beers and some live music.

Day 9: Austin to El Paso

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Our drive through Texas, though extremely long, was filled with beautiful, open roads and vast fields.

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Day Nine was another LONG day of driving – Austin to El Paso is not a hop, skip, and jump away. We fueled up on some Texan BBQ and tater tots.

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See? Vast fields. This is probably one of my favorite roadside shots. The wildflowers, blue skies…

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I promise, I did drive during this trip.

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The landscape began to change as we headed farther west.

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Finally, we arrived in El Paso.

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Naturally, we headed right to the spa with some margaritas. They were long overdue after nine hours in the car. We got some rest and prepared for our next trip.

Day 10: El Paso to Scottsdale

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After leaving El Paso, we were in New Mexico very quickly.

Road TripThe views were amazing.
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Clouds, mountains, and intense sunshine.

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We weren’t in New Mexico for very long, but it was lovely.

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Hey, Arizona.

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I don’t get to stand next to a cactus everyday.

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By late afternoon, we arrived at our last destination, The Phoenician in Scottsdale – a resort that would go on to become my favorite from the trip.

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We enjoyed the last of that day’s sunshine by the pool.

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The grounds of the resort were simply gorgeous.

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Palm tree heaven.

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I enjoyed a night out at Maya with a friend who lives in the area.

Day 11: Relaxing in Scottsdale

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Good morning from Scottsdale! I could get used to this view.

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Mom and I were so happy to spend our last day before reaching California at this spectacular resort. The weather was a cool 105 degrees, so we obviously spent the day dipping in and out of the pool.

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Just soaking up every moment.

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Look at that smile! I loved being able to share this experience with my beautiful mother.

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I really cannot say enough about The Phoenician. It’s another place that we definitely want to re-visit.

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Fun in the pool!

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As night fell, we enjoyed the view and got ready for dinner.

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Donning our summer best, we enjoyed a delicious meal on the patio.

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Lychee mojito and a view of the pool.

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Osso Buco at its best.

Day 12: Scottsdale to Newport Beach, CA

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We began our last day on the road with breakfast under the umbrellas.

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After a few hours in the car, we left Arizona and entered California! Woohoo!

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Palm trees galore!

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And soon, it was the home stretch.

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I’m here! My new home sweet home!

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To finish off our wonderful journey, we took a stroll on the beach.

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East meets west, and just in time for sunset.

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Thank you mom. I am so grateful to have you, and to have been able to share this adventure with you. Your constant support is such a comfort and a blessing. I love you!

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It was a beautiful first night in my new home, and a great end to our fabulous Road Trip.

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25 comments

      1. Hi Natalie! I am looking to do a similar trip from Long Island to Costa Mesa and was wondering how much approximately did it cost you and your mom per person? I’m trying to compare the pricing with flying and transporting my car

        1. Hi Emma, how exciting for you! To be honest, I don’t have a good estimate of how much it cost – only because we also turned the trip into a bit of a vacation. I’m not sure how much it would cost to transport the car, but I’m assuming that plus a flight is probably less than what we spent…but we did get to see parts of the country that we never had before! Just something to consider 🙂 Good luck to you!

  1. I enjoyed seeing your videos on Instagram so much, and it’s so cool to see some of the pictures here again. I’m so glad you got to experience such an amazing adventure with your mom; it is my dream to take mine here one day and show her the US doing the same! You both look so gorgeous, btw! 🙂

  2. Wow what a beautiful journey! Loved following along. You’ll have some great memories to cherish with your Mom for a lifetime.

    So…why Newport Beach? Not that wanting to live in California really requires much explanation! Just curious though.

    Also, mind if I ask what brand your reading glasses are? I love them!

    All the best
    V

    1. Thank you! Yes, so many memories – so happy I have all these pictures, too! I moved to Newport because I have a bunch of friends in the area, and was able to live with a friend when a room opened up in her condo. Just great timing really. It’s a beautiful area, too 🙂 My glasses are actually my distance glasses for when I don’t wear contacts. The brand is Prodesign | Denmark. Very happy with them!

  3. Happy to hear that you have arrived safe and sound after your cross country epic journey. Thanks for sharing it with us. The photos are just great and how special to have been travelling with your mum; a memory that is simply priceless. Wishing you all the very best in your new home.
    P.S. That Reuben brisket looked to die for 🙂

  4. Im sure this was an awesome experience to share with your momma! Loved your pictures and all the happiness captured through them. You left NY, and in a week and half ill be visiting NY! Great adventure you posted, thanks for sharing!

    -Jen

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  6. Im sure this was an awesome experience with your mom! Love your pictures.I am retired from the phone company and plan on doing this trip with my wife from Montreal to California,soon.

  7. I really enjoyed your blog entry! My spouse and I are looking to do this from Washington DC to California. I wanted to know if you rented a vehicle or drove yours? If you rented, would you say the rate was reasonable? Thank you and congrats on such great trip!

    1. Thank you, Marco!! I actually drove my own car so, unfortunately, I don’t have any rate information for you. But I wish you the best of luck! It’s an amazing experience for sure – you and your spouse will have a blast 🙂


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