Highway 10 Road Trip Across USA!

Start in Santa Monica, California, and end in Jacksonville, Florida, on famous Highway 10! This trip takes about ten days, if you drive four or more hours a day, taking plenty of time to check out the wonderful sights! The natural springs and beaches, and New Orleans, are highlights of this trip!

Map View Back To Road Trips

Santa Monica Beach and Pier

A fun and beautiful beginning to your trip! Santa Monica Pier with its white sand beach, body building muscle area, and amusement park rides. Eat a Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, with views of the ocean out the big windows.

3rd Street Promenade, Santa Monica

3rd Street Promenade is a lively pedestrian-only street, with performers, tons of people, cafes, and lots of shopping. It's a good place to stroll and eat before you start driving. 

Manhattan Beach Strand

As an alternative starting point, you could also start your road trip at Manhattan Beach, which has a beautiful walkway above the beach. Walk for miles, with friendly fitness-lovers!

Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills

If you want to see Beverly Hills while in LA, Rodeo Drive is fairly close to Highway 10, though everywhere in LA has a ton of traffic, so only stop if you really want to see it. It is an incredible street with gold and silver sparkling high end shops, plus less expensive cafes on Beverly Drive.

California Science Center

Huge, modern Science museum that you will remember fondly for years to come! This is a fun stop for kids, along Highway 10.

Huntington Gardens and Library

This is a world-class destination garden. It is very expensive, and not directly on Highway 10, but if you've always wanted to see it, stop for the day.

Claremont town

This is a cute college town with nice restaurants, if you need a stop. You can also stop in Redlands, another cute college town a little further inland on Highway 10. Palm Springs is the last big town, and then it's just desert!

Children's Discovery Museum, Rancho Mirage

Super fun children's museum in the desert. Kids really appreciate this stop! It is closed until April 2024.

White Tank Mountain Park, Phoenix

This is a 20 minute drive from Highway 10, but it is worth it if you are traveling in late March or early April, because of the glorious wildflowers!

Carefree town, near Phoenix

Carefree town is 45 minutes from Highway 10, but I recommend that you stay the night in this cute little southwestern town set amidst gorgeous boulders! Cave Creek, the town next door, is also nice to explore. 

Sugar Loaf (Teacup) Trail, Sedona

Sedona is two hours north of Highway 10, and more appropriate on a Highway 40 road trip, but I wanted to tell you about it in case you have lots of time to spare, because it is one of the most beautiful places on earth. If this is your only trip to America, go to Sedona!

Phoenix Art Museum and Downtown Phoenix

If you don't want to take any detours to the north, to Carefree or Sedona, stay in Phoenix in any one of these areas: downtown Phoenix, Tempe (cool college area), or Scottsdale (Scottsdale is the leafiest, wealthiest area). At Phoenix Museum of Art, you can get lost in the darling Thorne Miniature rooms, and enjoy works of art by Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Arizona artist Philip Curtis. Downtown Phoenix also has a Japanese Garden. 

Tucson Botanical Gardens

The other large city in Arizona is Tucson, where you can see lovely gardens with many cute areas and unusual plants at Tucson Botanical Gardens.

Pima Air and Space Museum, Tucson

A fun stop for kids just outside Tucson is the Pima Air and Space Museum. Climb inside the cockpit of planes and helicopters, check out the patch collection, and make calls from the interactive air control tower.

Old Mesilla Village, Las Cruces

Once you get to New Mexico, don't miss a stop at Las Cruces. There is an adorable square with basilica, bandstand, cute shops, and cafes with adobe walls and flowers. Soon after that, you will be in El Paso, a big city where you can spend the night if you choose. 

National Border Patrol Museum, El Paso

El Paso is the next big city! It is not a pretty place at all. I have never seen anywhere so brown in color with not a speck of green. But it does have an Interesting museum with contraptions showing what people do to get across the Mexican border here.

El Paso Museum of Archaeology

Next door to the National Border Patrol Museum is this attractive museum, with displays about the cliff dwellings of native people in the area. It has pretty landscaping outside. 

Fountains at Farah, Cielo Vista Mall, El Paso

Have lunch or dinner at Fountains at Farah in Cielo Vista Mall. It is the best spot in El Paso, with a lovely public space and splash pad for kids. Here you can hang out on the lawn after eating your meal. 

Balmorhea Springs

The gigantic stretch of Texas is the most boring and unscenic part of the Highway 10 road trip. Plan to drive long hours to get it over with in the fewest possible days. One decent stop is Balmorhea Springs, a natural spring where you can swim in the deep blue pool. It can be very crowded, so come during an off time, not a weekend day.

San Antonio River Walk

You are finally in civilization! Plan to stay two nights in this lovely city. At the San Antonio River Walk you can stroll along gorgeous walkways lined with cafes, along the river, one storey below street level.
There are many more places in San Antonio that I'd like to check out: The Alamo including Ralston Family Collections, San Fernando Cathedral, Dino Safari, Yanaguana Garden, Legoland, and Hopscotch Art Gallery (exhibits with lights). One hour north of Highway 10 is Natural Bridge Caverns. 

Pearl District, San Antonio

A less touristy place, popular with the locals, is this hip neighborhood that used to be the site of the industrial Pearl Brewery. Have a meal here while in San Antonio.

Japanese Tea Garden, San Antonio

Definitely visit this beautiful garden in a former rock quarry, with high waterfall, stone bridges, flowers, an island, koi ponds, cafe, Japanese torii gate, and a Japanese pagoda.

Houston Museum of Natural Science

Houston is not the greatest stop. It isn't a very attractive city, and on top of that, it has lots of traffic. If you want to skip it, you will have a six hour drive without stops (from San Antonio to Lafayette)- it might be a good idea. If you do stop in Houston, a good choice is Houston Museum of Natural Science, a fantastic museum with huge fossils, amazing dinosaurs, and lovely gems.

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

If you prefer art, Museum of Fine Arts in Houston is also wonderful, with a memorable collection of pre-Columbian gold. It is near the Natural Science Museum, in case the family wants to split up based on interests.

Lafayette town

Once you leave Texas, you are in Louisiana! You are now in The Southeast! The eastern part of America has a much richer sense of identity than the west- strangers will talk to you on the street and waitresses will call you endearing names. Lafayette is a small college town with a cute main street, all under the shade of pines. Stop for a meal or coffee.

Children's Museum of Acadiana, Lafayette

While in Lafayette, if your kids need to play and it's hot or cold outside, this is a small children's museum with a pretend grocery store and pretend cafe. Closed Mondays. 

Old State Capitol, Baton Rouge

Now the deeply memorable part of the road trip begins! Stop in Baton Rouge to visit an incredible Gothic castle-like capitol building that stands high on a bluff.

Oak Alley Plantation, Vacherie

To experience The South, visit this 19th century plantation with stunning canopied path between oak trees, and a fascinating guided tour.

City Park

Plan to spend two nights in New Orleans! It is magical! The main area can be a bit touristy, but it's the areas on the perimeter that are magical, like City Park, with its stone bridges over a bayou and gigantic moss-draped oaks.

Storyland

While in City Park, make sure you visit Storyland, with its whimsical sculptures of fairy tale scenes in the middle of a giant oak forest with Spanish moss and vines. We'll never forget it!

Mardi Gras World

Don't miss this tour of a warehouse full of impressive Mardi Gras floats, where you can watch artists at work creating the floats for next year! It is something unique you will always remember. 

National World War II Museum

At this excellent museum, the Campaigns of Courage exhibit sets the mood with real scenes you walk through. Nearby, there are two other museums, so the family can split up depending on interests...

Ogden Museum of Southern Art

If you don't wish to visit a war museum, come here instead. The women in the family can visit this fabulous five-storey museum with colorful, interesting art by Southern artists, while the men visit the war museum. 

Louisiana Children's Museum

Near these museums is a children's museum. If you have little kids, one of you can take them to this super fun museum with a pretend cafe, while the other parent visits the war or art museum with ease. 

Little Gem Saloon, Downtown New Orleans

You must visit this adorable saloon while in New Orleans! It is expensive, but worth it. In the midst of downtown, a little historic building where Jazz began. Come when they have live music.

Frenchmen Street

Slightly out of the tourist area is Frenchmen Street, where you hear live music wafting out of cozy bars and cafes. It has a real feel of New Orleans. Come in the evening and have a meal.

Jackson Square, French Quarter

The main, touristy area, the French Quarter of New Orleans, centers around this lush, tropical square in front of the iconic St Louis Cathedral.

History Museum of Mobile (two hours away)

Two hours out of New Orleans, you can stop in Mobile, a small town full of atmosphere. Don't miss this lovely, well-planned museum with miniature doll houses, and Carnival exhibit. We still talk about it!

Forte Conde, Mobile (two hours away)

Across the street, check out this small history museum inside a 4/5 replica of Fort Conde.

Dauphin Street, Mobile (two hours away)

After, you can have a meal on Main street in Mobile, in historic buildings with wrought-iron balconies.

Palafox Street, Pensacola

One hour further is Pensacola. Pensacola area retains some Southern charm, while also having the paradise beach vibe of Florida! Eat dinner at this historic part of town- we always talk about the atmosphere and real Southern food we enjoyed at Five Sisters Blues Cafe.

Pensacola Beach, Santa Rosa Island

Across the bridge, on the island, is Pensacola Beach. The sand is just amazing here, pure white, with a sugary crunch. Stay the night in Pensacola town, or on the island, in Pensacola Beach. 

Fort Barrancas, Pensacola

I love the forts in the South! They are so beautiful. While in Pensacola, visit this one. Kids enjoy running through the dark tunnels and onto the green green grass of Fort Barrancas.

National Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola

Near to Fort Barrancas is this impressive world-class museum with giant war planes, fascinating exhibits, and a kid's area like a control tower. If you time your trip to see a Blue Angels practice, you will not be disappointed!

Seaside beach and town

If you loved the movie The Truman Show, you might want to take a detour and visit this town, where it was filmed. It is 38 minutes south of Highway 10. 

Falling Waters State Park, Chipley

Wonderful short walk past incredibly deep sinkholes. One has a waterfall falling deep into it, after rains. An easy stop to stretch your legs, almost two hours from Pensacola.

Florida Caverns State Park, Marianna

This is an absolute do-not-miss! Make sure you time your trip so that tours are available when you are passing through. A true wonder of nature, a deep cave with many rooms where you can see stalactites, stalagmites, and soda straws. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday, during off-season months. See their website to be sure, and to book online.

Blue Hole Spring, Florida Caverns State Park

Near Florida Caverns, have a magical walk or swim at Blue Hole Spring. The surreal scenery that will elate you.

Tallahassee town

There isn't much to do in Tallahassee but it is a college town with restaurants and hotels, so it is a possible overnight stop before visiting Wakulla Springs!

Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park

This is a place full of atmosphere and mystery. Come play on the beach that is on a natural spring, and admire the sights all around you. This is 22 minutes from Highway 10 and it is definitely worth the detour. 

St. Marks Lighthouse, near Tallahassee

If you would like to continue further south for another twenty minutes, you will come to this lighthouse in a gorgeous area with wide open spaces. It is a unique spot that felt special. But it is quite a detour. 

Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center

Definitely stop at this imaginative center, with large lifelike dioramas of Foster's songs, a bell-tower, Southern oak trees, and a river gazebo. It is like nowhere you will have been before!

Cummer Art Museum & Gardens, Jacksonville

You have now reached Jacksonville!! Walk in these beautiful gardens on the river and enjoy some classic artwork inside, plus a fun kid's area. Something about these gardens feels quite European.

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

Visit this memorable zoo. It is a tropical wonderland of plants and flowers, sculptures, impressive architecture, plus nice enclosures with beautiful animals.

Southbank Riverwalk, Jacksonville

Before checking into a beach hotel for the night, walk this riverwalk when everything is lit up! Admire the views of the blue bridge and wide waterway. See public art, and dolphins.

Jacksonville Beach

What better way to end your vacation than to sleep at a beachfront hotel on Jacksonville Beach! It is a fun place for kids to play in the little sand pools at the water's edge. You can wake up to the sound of the waves from your balcony.
If you have time, extend your road trip by driving down Highway 95, exploring the east coast of Florida!

Neptune Beach town, Jacksonville

Have breakfast at Neptune Beach town. It has a lovely dining area right at the beach, with a coffee shop and palm trees galore and pastel-colored buildings.

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