USA Road Trip
We decided to road trip from NYC to Missouri to visit Shanna’s brother who was stationed there at the time! Her whole family was going and we thought a road trip would be a great way to see some places in the USA that we hadn’t seen before and meet some of our friends along the way. We did the trip in March and to be honest, the weather was not the best. It was raining a lot which made it hard to stop for a lot of things we wanted to see. We still had an amazing time though and have tons of recs of things to do in the cities we did stop in. The states we passed through on this trip were Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, & Tennessee.
How to Plan a USA Road Trip
The USA is a great country to road trip in because it’s really easy to get from state to state. We used the Roadtrippers app to help plan our trip which really came in handy. We plugged our route into the app and it showed all all the touristy things we would be passing and which things we a short detour away. We found things like “the world’s largest rocking chair” and a the Vacuum Cleaner Museum (which we never wound up seeing because the weather was so bad, but anyway) that we never would have known existed otherwise! If you’re planning a road trip in the USA we definitely recommend using the Roadtrippers app to find out about all the campy/touristy stuff you can see on the way.
The first big city we stopped in was Columbus, Ohio. One of Shanna’s best friends lives in Cleveland and gave us recommendations of things to do for the night and what areas were “hip” to hangout in (thanks Mary Gael!). We got to Columbus late at night so we didn’t have much time to explore since all the shops were closed already when we arrived. Shanna’s friend told us we should hangout in The Short North area, and we knew that if we had time to walk around during the day this would have been our kind of neighborhood. It was trendy, cute, and most importantly, had lots of rainbow flags flying around.
We ended up only having time to go to this gay bar called Union Cafe which was amazing. They had great drinks, amazing food (with vegan options for Shanna!), and it was even karaoke night that night so we got to hear some great jams. We definitely need to go back to Columbus one day and explore more of The Short North district because it looked very fun and very gay-friendly.
We left Columbus early the next morning to get to our next stop, Indianapolis. Another one of Shanna’s BFFs lives in Indy and was going to take us around for a few hours. Rachel (Shanna’s friend) was a great tour guide and we got to see a lot of the city in the few hours we were there. We love getting tips or traveling around with locals because that truly is the best and most authentic way to see a place. Since we spent some more time in Indy, we have better recs of things you can do:
Cuddle up with a good used book at Half Price Books
Explore around Broad Ripple
Eat some delicious food at The Garden Table
Browse through some records at Luna Music
St. Robert, MissouRi
On our way to Missouri we had planned on stopping at a lot more places, but the weather was so rainy and windy that we just wanted to get to our destination as soon as possible. St. Robert is a really small town smack dab in the middle of the state. It really is an army town since there’s not much there besides the army base. We found a few touristy things to do, but the biggest draw for us was just seeing how different life can be when you don’t live in or near a city.
Even though we travel quite often, there’s something about middle America that makes you feel so isolated in a country that’s one of the top in the world.There were hardly any restaurants or shops, I don’t even think we saw a grocery store nearby. The locals were literally watching a flood for entertainment. That being said, there were some things to do and we did have fun exploring somewhere so different that what we’re used to. If you ever wind up in St. Robert, here’s our list of how to not get bored:
Visit “The World’s Largest Belt Buckle”
Try some candy & fudge at Uranus Fudge Factory And General Store
Walk around Waynesville and take a photo by the Route 66 sign
Explore Roubidoux Springs
Walk across Devil’s Elbow Bridge
Visit the Trail of Tears Memorial
St. Louis, Missouri
On our way back to NYC, we made sure to stop in St. Louis. We both love beer and wanted to visit the Budweiser factory and we were also meeting another one of Shanna’s friends for dinner! We only spent the night in St. Louis but this is definitely a place we can see ourselves coming back to. There was a lot to do and a lot of the city’s attractions were free! Oh yeah, and they have great local beer ;) Here are our favorite things we did in St. Louis:
Visit the Budweiser factory and do the free tour
Check out some of the shops & restaurants on Cherokee Street
Have some amazing burgers at Bailey’s Range (yes, they had vegan burgers too!)
Grab a cheap pint at Jack Patrick’s Bar & Grill
We decided to go to Nashville literally on a whim. We looked at the map and saw how close we were and we said “how could we not?” so we changed our trajectory right then and there! Driving a bit more south towards Nashville meant we would have to drive all the way back to NYC over night to get the rental car back in time, but we said YOLO and decided to do it! Because of our deadline we only had a few hours in Nashville, but it was definitely enough to get the vibe of the city and to make us want to come back for real. Here’s our Nashville recs for now, but I’m sure we’re going to go back one day soon and make an updated and more in depth guide:
Have some brunch at Milk & Honey
Take the iconic streetart wings photo in the Gulch
Pop into some stores & country bars in the Broadway Historic District
Explore the Parthenon at Centennial Park
Walk the Music City Walk of Fame
Things to Note
Stop at welcome centers. This was our favorite things to do whenever we crossed a state line! We got to actually step foot in a new state, and it was a great way to get the gist of the place without having much time to explore. If you do a USA road trip make sure you stop at the welcome centers to learn a bit about the state you’re driving through.
Don’t give yourself a deadline (if possible). This was the biggest lesson we learned during our road trip. We only had one week on the road and that definitely was not enough time to see everything we would have liked to. If you aren’t bound to any time, you can stop wherever, whenever, and not have to stress. We totally wish we had a day or two to explore some of these cities, but I guess that means we’ll just have to plan a trip back in the future.
Alternate drivers. Since Shanna is the only one of us with a drivers license, this wasn’t possible for us. But if you do a road trip with your partner or some friends (who can legally drive lol) it will be much easier! You can definitely get cramped up if you’re driving a lot and having other drivers there to take the pressure off will be so refreshing. Gabi not having a drivers license will never stop us from doing road trips though, no matter how long Shanna has to drive for, we always know it’s worth it.
From Nashville we basically drove straight back to NYC, without any sleep, and got the rental car back just in time. Since this was our first real road trip, we definitely learned some things the hard way but we also had so much fun. If you want to check out more of our road trip journey, watch our vlog below! Our road trip was also featured in Visit Gay USA so make you check out their site as well!