Best Places To Stop On A Cross Country Road Trip
If you are following along on Instagram Instagram, you know that the Busbee family is off on our cross-country road trip that you so kindly helped us name…Cross Country, Busbee Style. (If not, be sure to follow along via our trip hashtag, #crosscountrybusbeestyle on Instagram.) I’ll link everything I packed there, and on the LTK app!
Day 1) Leaving Home
We left Telluride on a Friday and drove to Park City, Utah. It took us about 7 hours…luckily, we’ve traveled with the kids so often that bathroom breaks are less frequent and usually very quick. (We started training them all young, including Traveler). We stayed at a friend’s house but there are tons of places to stay in Park City if that’s where you’re planning to stop. We’ve been to Park City before so we didn’t stay for long. (Just overnight). We got back on the road Saturday morning…
Day 2) Kalispell, MT
From Park City, we drove to Kalispell, Montana (through Idaho). It’s about 9.5 hours. Our goal is to not drive more than 10 hours in one day, and we are really trying to keep it closer to the six hour mark. We stayed at the Homewood Suites in Kalispell. By the way, all of the hotels we’re staying in are pet-friendly because we have our 90-pound dog, Traveler with us!
While we were there, we knew we wanted to see Glacier National Park. We bought a car pass but to get in, you also need entry tickets. Those are basically impossible to get. But you can enter before 6 am or after 5 pm. We didn’t know that beforehand and decided to wait until after 5 pm. It was SO beautiful and definitely worth it. I also think if we had not waited, we would have had a case of the “what if’s”. I’m not exactly sure how you get entry tickets. Even after reading through it several times, I’m still not sure, but maybe you can make sense of it?
Day 3) Spokane, WA
After 4 hours of driving on I-90, we reached our next destination…Spokane! This was all we had time for since we drove here after seeing the park and it was dark and late. We stayed at The Historic Davenport Hotel, which was lovely. While we were there we saw the Giant Red Wagon you can see above. It brought me back to my childhood when my sister, Cathy and I used to pull our Radio Flyer to the Super Duper grocery store to carry groceries home. Spokane is such a beautiful city! There’s a roaring river running through downtown and it’s so lush and green! (Although we know what green means. It equals lots of rain.)
Day 4) Leavenworth, WA
From Spokane, we stopped in Leavenworth for lunch (about 3 hours from Spokane). If you’re following along on Instagram Stories, you got to see a few videos from the charming little town. I loved this stop and could have stayed longer. We all loved it actually… I even looked up real estate. There is a small ski hill with just two runs. It’s a beautiful Bavarian-inspired town. We explored a little and enjoyed some bratwurst, schnitzel, and pretzels. The food was great and very authentic. Chris used to work for a German bank so we have traveled a lot through Germany and Austria. We will likely go to actual Bavaria later this summer to compare. Stay tuned…!
Day 4) Kirkland, WA
Our next stop was Kirkland. It took us about 2.5 hours from Leavenworth. On our way, we stopped by the Boeing Future of Flight Museum (about 30-40 minutes outside of Kirkland). We are all obsessed with flying. Chris has a glider license. I have always wanted to take flying lessons. My dad was a helicopter pilot. And Gage will likely take flying lessons cause he is obsessed too. While we were there, we saw a Huey helicopter which is what my dad flew in the Vietnam War, walked through Air Force One from Eisenhower and JFK days, and saw both the 787, and 747 (double-decker, they don’t really fly anymore).
After that, we drove through to Kirkland and checked into the Woodmark Hotel on Lake Washington. It’s a beautiful hotel on the lake with lots of water sports right there. We rented kayaks and thought about renting a speed boat. By the way…I LOVE kayaking!!! Well. Basically anything on the water. I’m part fish. 😉 Where are my fellow Cancerians? We had record heat and all sunny days while here near Seattle, which is unheard of for PNW but we took full advantage! We ate Ivar’s Seafood Bar for the first time and the Beach Cafe in Kirkland which literally had the best sweet potato fries… EVER!
Day 5 & 6) Seattle, WA
When we got to the Seattle area, we knew there was a lot we wanted to do so we crammed a lot in. Chris took the kids to the Seattle Aquarium, which the kids (and Chris) loved! That evening, went to a Seattle Mariners baseball game at T-Mobile Park. It was a GORGEOUS evening and it was truly one of the most beautiful stadiums I have ever seen. I really loved the socially distanced aspect because it meant you could see everything and you felt relaxed and comfy. They sold sushi at the stadium. Ha!
The next day we did some shopping at Pike Place Market and hung out in that area. All of the Pikes shopping closes at 6pm so make sure you go early so you don’t miss out on most of the action. We did see the Seattle Gum Wall (gross but cool).
Overall… we LOVED Seattle! Such a beautiful city… and SO green (from all the rain, of course) even the highway overpasses had ivy growing on them!
Day 7) Missoula, MT
A few of you guessed it but next up…Missoula! From Seattle, it took us about 7.5 hours, which is why my comfy outfit above was SO important! This is halfway to Yellowstone (hint-hint on our next location! ;-)) We stayed at the Residence Inn and Suites…it’s a lovely hotel and the nicest pet-friendly option. They have apartments with a pretty full kitchen too if that’s something you’re looking for. Honestly, I did not expect to love this small town. But…Wow! It’s beautiful!! It has green rolling hills in the background and a river that runs through town. We wandered one of the main streets and discovered a woman playing the banjo on the street, another performing in a small park, and a group of teens river surfing, which my kids are now obsessed with. P.S. I didn’t know this is a thing…
I looked up the weather and it is milder here with warmer summers than Telluride, but in general not as sunny. (160 vs 240 days). But for sure I fell a love a little bit with this town, and you will too even if you are just passing through. (More charming than Whitefish or Kalispell in my opinion).
Day 8, 9 & 10) Yellowstone National Park!
This was what we were all most excited to get to…Yellowstone National Park! From Missoula, it’s about 4.5 hours. We stayed at Under Canvas in West Yellowstone which was an amazing tent camp. Think fancy African safari tents. Our suite had a king-size bed, plush bedding, a sitting area, real wood flooring, shower, toilet, and sink! It was awesome until wind gusts reached 48 miles per hour and then I wanted to cry.
I feel so lucky to have stayed here since this is where we got to see “Sheila” the moose (that’s what the camp employees affectionately called her) …and her baby that was just a few days old. It was truly amazing! She bedded down in the brush across the river so we could sit and watch mom and baby together at a safe distance.
Heading into Yellowstone we were immediately greeted by a huge Bison in the road walking towards us. They are huge and impressive creatures who are surprisingly fast and can run up to 35mph! Seeing them feels like you stepped back in time. We also saw a momma black bear and her two Cubs wrestling (please watch the video I posted on Instagram here. It’s the CUTEST thing.) We also saw a bunch of elk (mostly by Mammoth Hot Springs) and a pronghorn antelope.
The geothermal activity was also incredible! We saw everything from mud volcanos to hot springs, even Old Faithful! You can watch the full geyser video here. If all that wasn’t exciting enough, the landscape is UNREAL. The Yellowstone Grand Canyon is jaw-dropping! We hiked down to the falls and got a birds-eye view from the top of the raging falls. I was also struck by how diverse the landscape was from one part of the park to the next. Totally unique and equally stunning no matter where your drove.
Tips: Get there EARLY and see popular things first like the North Rim Grand Canyon waterfall hike and Old Faithful eruption. Bring binoculars, and a massive zoom lens if you love to take pictures. Go to dinner EARLY, like 5 pm – 5:30 pm.
Day 11) Bozeman, MT
Next, I wanted to see both Big Sky and Bozeman so we decided to keep the next drive short (less than 2 hours) and stay in Bozeman. We stayed at the Residence Inn and Suites. According to Google, it’s sunny 300 days a year in Boseman. It was another gorgeous Montana city. I swear if it weren’t so far from family, we would live in Montana. Big Sky looks like an expert ski mountain with TONS of amazing terrain. I found it intimidating. It was actually closed when we arrived for lunch, but we did find one mountainside restaurant open. Right outside of Big Sky is where we saw two giant bighorn sheep on the road.
Day 12) Rapid City, SD
Next up… Rapid City, South Dakota! From Bozeman, it’s about 7 hours. We stayed at Residence Inn and Suites again in a 2-bedroom suite. It was a great setup with the kids and also connected to an indoor water park called Watiki. Note: Your kids will freak out over the water park so be sure to leave time for that. I am all for a water park usually, but this one was oppressively hot – think sauna hot. Chris and I sat in the air-conditioned restaurant while the kids went crazy.
After checking in, we had dinner and crashed. The next morning, we drove to Mount Rushmore (about 30 minutes from the hotel). I had very few expectations and was totally and utterly blown away! It’s SO amazing!!! You can’t believe that humans created this. It’s really special and 100% worth seeing. I’ve only had this feeling one other time when visiting the NASA museum in Florida. You just feel so inspired by what people can do when they dare to dream. Don’t miss getting a burger at Sickies Garage!
Day 13) Badlands National Park, SD
Badlands National Park is AWESOME! The contrast between the bright green prairies with the tall grass blowing in the wind with the deep canyon lined with beige, craggy, rocks in all shapes and sizes… was simply breathtaking. Add bighorn sheep, bison and fields full of prairie dogs and it was just magic! This is where I shot several outfits you’ll see on the blog soon and on Instagram and the LTK app. We came just in time for sunrise, and we had the park and the perfect light all to ourselves (for a little bit).
Day 14) Kansas City, MO
After the Badlands, we drove to Kansas City, Missouri passing through Iowa briefly (~9 hours). The minute we crossed the state border into Iowa, I noticed two distinct changes: there are more trees and it’s much flatter. Kansas City is a gorgeous city too!! I loved their revitalized downtown riverfront area. We stayed at the Residence Inn again because we love the space the two-bedroom suite provides. We didn’t spend much time here since we were on a schedule in order to meet up with Chris’ aunt and uncle. We did see the Kaufmann Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Kansas City. The building itself is really cool!
Day 14) St. Louis, MO
From Kansas City, we drove about 3.5 hours and made a quick stop in St. Louis. We saw the world’s tallest arch…Gateway Arch in the Gateway Arch National Park! If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a 630 ft. stainless steel monument. It’s also the tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere and Missouri’s tallest accessible building. Directly across from the arch is the St. Louis Old Courthouse…it’s a beautiful building full of history including pivotal court cases like Dred and Harriet Scott’s fight for freedom and Virginia Minor’s right to vote as a woman. It was closed for renovations when we went but you can usually tour the old building and renovated courtrooms.
Day 14 & 15) Nashville, TN
After our quick stop in St. Louis, we drove through Kentucky and into Nashville (~4.5 hours)! We stayed in Nashville only one night, but made it count by visiting Assembly Food Hall and walking down Broadway catching a glimpse of all the live music and debauchery. I would only recommend hanging out here if you are vaccinated as there are crowds of people in tight spaces. It’s as if COVID never existed in Nashville. At the Assembly Food Hall, which I would highly recommend for local foods and flavors, we ordered chicken and waffles and Monte Cristo waffle sandwiches (ham, cheese, and jam between two waffles) and for dessert…? Raw cookie dough by the scoop! I had never seen any of these options before. It definitely wasn’t healthy, but it was fun to try different, yummy foods.
By the way, many of you have messaged about self-care on the road. It’s not great, but I’m doing what I can to make healthy choices when possible and have healthier snacks in the car like almonds, kind bars, almond butter, sparkling water, hard-boiled eggs, etc. I am working out like twice a week doing Tracy Anderson Fundamental level and trying to squeeze in an additional Open Fit or Melissa Wood Pilates app workouts. I also am trying to squeeze in work whenever possible like updating this blog, for example! I’m also still posting on IG, YT, blog, etc. The amazing BUSBEE team is helping SO much with all of those platforms! I feel very cared for.
Day 15, 16 & 17) Atlanta, Georgia
Our 13th state in just over two weeks!!! We stopped by Atlanta to visit Chris’s sweet aunt and uncle, Martha and Charles. We also got to see the renowned Georgia Aquarium complete with whale sharks, dolphins, and giant manta rays. The kids loved it!! We all did, but the crowds are pretty overwhelming. Make sure you reserve your time slot and buy tickets in advance!!
Can You Guess Where We’re Headed??
Can you guess our next destination? Put your guesses in the comments below! And make sure you follow along on Instagram for more updates! Hint: We’re headed north. Check Instagram stories for more hints!
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Thank you for stopping by!