We did it y’all…we drove cross country. It’s bananas to think we actually did it. We told ourselves when moving out to NYC that’d we’d drive back home one day and that’s exactly what we did.
If you followed along on my Instagram stories you were with us on this journey. I’d channel my inner Willie Nelson and post a story with the song On the Road Again to let everyone know where we were headed next. If you missed our journey on the gram I’m here to tell you how to get east to west and the best of the best in each city.
A friend our mine hooked us up with Hilton Hotels, so sadly I won’t be sharing where to stay along the way. But, I will share with you the best things to do if you’re playing tourist and of course our favorite restaurants in each city. Let’s start the journey now.
DAY 1: New York, NY to Pittsburgh, PA
Our first leg of the trip, we left Saturday am and got to Pittsburgh, PA in 7 hours. Pittsburgh actually surprised us. Though we were only there for less than 24hrs we seemed to cram a bunch in. Here are few must do’s in Pittsburgh.
Market Square: Our hotel was right by the market square and we loved the vibe. They have a ton of cool restaurants and bars right there in the square.
10th Street Bypass: It was pretty amazing walking along the river and checking out both the football and baseball stadiums.
Duequesne Incline: You absolutely have to take an hour out of your trip and go to the tram lift at Duequesne Incline. When you get to the top you have a clear view of the entire city and it’s pretty magical. Pittsburgh is crazy beautiful and you wouldn’t even know it.
WHERE TO EAT:
Primanti Bros: DUH! Great dirt nasty on any of their sandwiches because their the shit.
Meat & Potatoes: The brunch there is unreal! I had the brisket hash and it was some of the best I’ve ever had. The Bloody Mary bar is a must and they have garnishs for days. We highly recommend this spot.
Day 2: Pittsburgh, PA to Columbus, OH
We did a quick 20 hour stay in Columbus and again this was a city that took us by surprise. So, keep in mind my recommendations will be a bit low considering we only made it for an evening and afternoon.
Ohio State Stadium: My god that stadium is huge and insanely impressive. This is a town that eats, breathes, and dreams about football. Take a drive through the heart of it and check out the stadium.
N. High Street: Take a stroll down N. High Street. It’s a main drag filled with restaurants, bars, and so many shops.
WHERE TO EAT:
The Pearl: We we’re only in town for one dinner and oh boy you guys did we make it count. We went to The Pearl and it definitely was top 3 favorite meals across the US. We started with the tator tots (no joke might have been the best we’ve ever had.) We both had the specials and the Seafood Green Curry and Flatiron Steak with Kiminchi was mind blowing.
Goody Boy Diner: The burgers we’re bomb and who doesn’t like boozy Capri Suns. Go for the atmosphere and grammable decor.
Day 3: Columbus, OH to Indianapolis, IN
I’m gonna have to keep this one short and sweet because Indy is not a place I’d insist you visit. We we’re only there for a night and if you have less than 24hrs in Indy you have to go the coolest bar in the world.
16-Bit Bar + Arcade: Every game from your childhood will be in this bar. Sip on Lisa Frank and Zach Morris inspired cocktails. We got tipsy on the couch playing Super Mario Bros 3, Super Mario Cart, and Mortal Combat. Btw, Eric is freakishly good at Mortal Combat.
Day 4: Indianapolis, IN to Chicago, IL
Eric had to go to Chicago for work, hence why we went north a bit. We stayed in Chicago for two days with a friend and kept it pretty low key.
Explore Fulton Market: It was formerly the meat-packing and industrial district until it got hella gentrified and cute as hell.
Chicago River: We stayed right on the river and it was magical. Next time I want to take a boat tour along the river. If you’re walking around walk down by the river because it’s such a pretty site and you can find a ton of fab restaurants right on the water.
WHERE TO EAT:
Soho House: This is one Soho House you can actually get in to. Explore the property and any one of their restaurants because they’re all so yummy.
Au Cheval: Get the single burger (yes it comes with two patties), add cheese, and just start crying cause the burger is that good.
The Aviary: It’s expensive AF and 100% worth it. Order a pirate ship in a bottle. If they give you a sailboat in a bottle don’t feel bad about sending it back, you’re paying for the ship damnit.
Day 6: Chicago, IL to St. Louis, MI
Another quick trip here. We had less than 24hrs and we sure as hell made the most of it.
The Gateway Arch: You can’t go to St. Louis without seeing the massive arch. It’s mind blowing how huge the arch is. Look up, take pics, and enjoy.
Busch Stadium: I wish I would have looked at the baseball schedule earlier because our SF Giants were playing the St. Louis Cardinals the day we arrived to St. Louis. We were able to make to the very end of the game and walk around Busch Stadium. I must say it’s a pretty bad ass stadium. Lots of fun bars to drink at in the Busch community.
Rooftop 360: 400 feet up in the sky and gorgeous views of the whole city. It’s the best way to see St. Louis
WHERE TO EAT:
Bogarts BBQ: We had one thing and one thing only on our mind and that was BBQ. So we went to Bogarts for some bomb ass burnt ends and ribs.
Day 7: St. Louis, MI to Leawood, KS
My best friend lives in Leawood, KS and we got to spend two amazing days with her and her incredible family. We laid low at the house, hung with the kids, and had lots of quality time. I don’t have many must-dos to share, but we had enough meat sweats to last us the month. So, now let’s talk BBQ.
Grinter’s Sunflower Farm: This is 100% a must-do while you’re in Kansas. Grinter’s Sunflower Farm is one of the most incredible sites I’ve ever seen. You drive down this dirt road and then straight ahead is an endless horizon of sunflowers. It was my favorite part of this entire road trip an I’m sure you can see why in these pictures below.
WHERE TO EAT:
Joes Kansas City BBQ: Go to the Joes in the gas station. You NEED to get the burnt ends! We had the ribs dinner and Z-Man sandwich. Hella bomb!Q39- Midtown: Oh man this place was my favorite BBQ restaurant in Kansas City. The BBQ chicken was the best I’ve ever had in my life! It’s a must-order along with the ribs and burnt ends.
Day 9: Leawood, KS to Oklahoma City, OK
Oklahoma City wasn’t on the agenda, but we pulled a last-minute trigger and went to OKC. We stayed down in Bricktown and loved it. Granted we arrived to OKC at 8pm and left the next morning at 8am, either way, Bricktown was the perfect place for the night.
Bricktown Canal: Spend the$12 and take a brief 30 min tour down the manmade canal in Bricktown. It was a great way to learn the history of the city while seeing all the fun bars and restaurants along the canal.
Day 10: Oklahoma City, OK down ROUTE 66 to Santa Fe, NM
Pretty much if you google or search on Pinterest anyone will tell you where to stop along Route 66. Me, on the other hand, I only want to stop at the places that are the most Instagrammable.
Pops Soda Ranch – Arcadia, OK
Pops Soda Ranch is pretty damn cool. Over 700 sodas are sold here at Pops Soda Ranch. Stop in for lunch or to grab a six pack of soda for the road. You can’t miss the giant soda pop from the outside and if you stay for sunset it lights up neon at night.
Leaning Water Tower – Groom Texas
It’s no Leaning Tower of Pisa, but I’m sure it can make for a pretty creative picture. Just off the side of the road and you can’t miss it from the freeway.
The Big Texan – Amarillo, Texas
Just right there in the heart of the Texas pan handle is the city of Amarillo. If you’re hungry come with an apetite and eat the old 72ozer from The Big Texan. If you go full Chet from the Great Outdoors and eat this 72oz steak you’ll get it for free. You can’t miss this place with the big ass cowboy from the side of the road and bull in the parking lot.Big Texan Motel – Amarillo, TX
According to the shitty star rating on google it looks like the adorable rainbow motel in Amarillo isn’t the best to stay at, but it sure was perfect for pictures.Cadillac Ranch – Amarillo, TX
Just down the freeway in Amarillo is the Cadillac Ranch. It doesn’t look like much from far away, but up close it is pretty cool. They have spray cans at each caddy that give you the chance to leave your mark.
ROUTE 66 to Santa Fe, NM
We couldn’t decide if we wanted to stay in Santa Fe or Albuerque when we got to New Mexico, but so many people told us to go to New Mexico and that was that. Santa Fe oh boy…I like you!
WHERE TO STAY and WHERE NOT TO STAY:
Santa Fe was the one place we wanted to splurge and find a fab place to stay, especially after a long drive. We split our two night stay between two hotels.
Buffalo Thunder Hotel: We stayed at the this luxury spa and golf resort because the pictures online we’re incredible. I honestly wish we didn’t end up staying here. It was so far away from downtown and getting an Uber was nearly impossible. The grounds were very pretty, but unless you’re a 75 yr old lady who likes to play the slots this isn’t a place for you.We pulled the trigger last minute and decided to stay at the Inn at Vanessie. The second I walked in the room I instantly started feeling those Santa Fe vibes. All the amenities you need, close to downtown, reasonable price, and decor on point.
WHERE TO EAT:
There are so many amazing restaurants in Santa Fe and I wish we had more time there to explore. But, here are a couple places we went to and LOVED!
Coyote Cafe & Cantina: Super fun latina vibes inside with rooftop views. Pop in for a marg and enjoy the city from the top. Be sure to bring your camera because it’s super Instagrammable.
La Fonda on the Rooftop: If you’re looking for a more chic spot this is the place for you. It’s the perfect place to grab drinks before you go to dinner. Make sure you go right before the sunset because the views from there are unreal.
The Shed: I’m almost pissed this restaurant is only ranked #39 on Tripadvisor. Eric and I went bananas over this place. The entire meal was SO BOMB! Super inexpensive and MASSIVE portions of food is at The Shed. Call to make a ressie and be sure to order the shrimp skewer entree. Watch out for those green chilis though because those guys are spicy.
Again, we had a very short period of time in Santa Fe BUT literally everyone recommended we go to Meow Wolf and I’m bummed we couldn’t make it there.
Day 12: Santa Fe, NM to Scottsdale, AZ
Wigwam Motel – Holbrook, NM
Just along Route 66 is the Wigwam motel which is 100% a MUST SEE and preferably a must stay. I’m an idiot and did not make a reservation early enough so we could only go here for pictures.
If you saw the movie Cars this motel is what inspired the Cozy Cone Motel and it so sick in person. I think the pictures speak for themselves.This leg of our trip was so special to Eric and me because we got to spend time with our best friends. We spent a day in Scottsdale with Eric’s best friend from middle school. He and his wife just bought a house, had a baby on the way, and it was so great seeing them.
Day two in Arizona we spent the day with my sister from another mister and BFF of 30 years. We spent the night with her husband and four kids. I hadn’t even met two of her kids and it was amazing meeting her beautiful little girls.
I wish I had recommendations on where to eat, play, and stay in Arizona, but this was piece of the trip was about spending time with our loved ones.
Day 14: Scottsdale, AZ to Los Angeles, CA
Holy shit…it’s our last day. Eric and I hoped into the car at 6am Friday morning and started blasting the theme song to The O.C., California here we come, right back where we started from. This was also one of the longest legs of the trip, but surprisingly the 6 hours flew by fast. Next thing we know we were looking at the palm trees in the sky and the beach in the distance. We made it to our new home, Marina del Rey and just like that we were west coasters again.
If you ever have the chance to do a cross country roadtrip I highly recommend it. It really was a once in a lifetime experience and it was magical each step of the way and every state was so special. We created so many amazing memories and we are truly fortunate we we’re able to make it happen.
If you make it east to west or west to east I hope you find this guide a bit helpful. I also created a highlight on my Instagram called Move West if you want to see more pictures and get more deets. Thanks for reading along and being apart of the journey with us too.