HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


Road trip: WY to VA to AZ, and back to WY

We are going to Virginia Beach, then thought we'd swing by Mesa, AZ "on our way home."
We'll be traveling to Missouri the first day, then close to the WVA/VA border the second night, then on to Va Beach the next day. When we leave Va Beach, we'll go through Knoxville, Nashville, Memphis, then Ark, OK, and to Amarillo TX for the second night. Not sure where we'll be the first night, we have no idea about the traffic flow heading that way. Not sure if we'll go up to Richmond then down, or if we'll head to NC, then over to TN.
I was wondering if there was any "must stop" cheap eats along the way.
Over 5,000 miles, we hope to do the trip to Va Beach in 3 days, from Va Beach to Mesa in 3 days.
Yes, we are probably nuts.
Please advise...

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. A "must stop" if you are near Richmond, Va. is Peter Chang's new place. Not cheap, but excellent food, excellent value.


    On your return trip I-40 brings you through the Triangle (Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill) and 4 hours further west is Asheville, NC. Both areas have enough great food to keep you busy for a week. If you anticipate a stop in either of these areas post on the SE board with more details of what you are interested in!

    10 Replies
    1. re: meatn3

      Thanks! Probably won't do Peter Chang's... We'd like to hit Monticello the day we drive in to Va Beach, so hope to spend the night before somewhere just west of there. I've never been on this route, so have no idea what to expect!
      $$ will be tight, probably $1000 just for gas, not sure what hotels are going to range.

      1. re: wyogal

        Understand! Be aware that Charlottesville is a pricey area. It has been many years, but I really enjoyed Monticello.

        I've had good luck with Airbnb for less expensive lodging. Hosts are often very food aware too!

        Feel free to e-mail if you need NC off topic info!

        Roadfood.com might be helpful, although I find the site less useful these days.

        1. re: meatn3

          Thanks for the heads up about C-ville. I'm also wondering about any chains out there that might be good, or interesting grocery stores, food festivals, etc...
          I'm a bit concerned about the part going across OK, TX and NM, it's vastness and doesn't look like there's much out there!

          1. re: wyogal

            Do you have dates? That will help with festivals!

            1. re: meatn3

              May 30 - June 20(?), not sure of the end date.

              1. re: wyogal

                Peter Chang also has a place in Charlottesville. He goes back and forth.

                In Nashville you should stop at Prince's hot chicken shack. Check their hours to be sure they're open -- odd hours. Best hot chicken in a town famous for it. Near the new grand ol opry on the north side.

            2. re: wyogal

              In Charlottesville, for a cheap bite, try Bodo's Bagels. The bagels are the best I've had outside of New York. Little Johns Deli, outside of UVa, is pretty good, at a decent price. It can get really crowded but it moves quickly. It might be harder to put together but I think you'll get more responses on each local board. What I've found about long distance driving is that sometimes, you're just too tired to do anything off the main highways to go looking for food.

              1. re: chowser

                Yep, we aren't going to go to far out of our way, but just in case there is a "gotta have it" type of place... I'm wanting to try some BBQ up in Missouri, and then some in NC, and some around Memphis. I thought that would be interesting to compare.
                In the meantime, we have two kids graduating college (two different ones, one with an associates, the other with a bachelor's), and a party for that; still in the midst of some intense work (with a couple of homebound students, as well as some enrichment programming). So, we are feeling like this trip is a long ways off, when it's really just around the corner! ha!

                1. re: wyogal

                  Have you tried roadfood.com? That might be helpful. I had the book the last time we drove across the country but we were never close to any of the restaurants in the book. I think there's even an app you can download.

      2. What Interstate will you be driving on through Missouri?

        3 Replies
        1. re: hawkeyeui93

          I-70. We want to try and get to Kansas City or a bit further the first night.

          1. re: wyogal

            The world class KC BBQ is mostly off the beaten path, so on your route, I recommend Smokehouse BBQ in Independence, MO [smokehousebbq.com]. It is just off of I-70. Another one is called Fiorella's Jack Stack BBQ in KC [the Freight House locale is near I-70 ... www.jackstackbbq.com]. In Amarillo, my favorite two inexpensive places are Arnold's Burgers and La Campana.

        2. Are you dropping down fromI-80 on US281 or US81? Cozy Inn for sliders in Salina. There are 100+ cue joints in KC, so where you spend the night
          would be a help in directing towards any certain one.Or two. :) Lots of breakfasts in KC too.

          12 Replies
          1. re: bbqboy

            Thanks! I really have no idea where we will stop, exactly. I was told by the mods to discontinue this thread and to put something in each of the regional boards.
            We'll be going from Scottsbluff down to I-80, I have to reopen a google map.... Looks like we are dropping down at Lincoln, NE, on I-29(?) to KC, MO via St. Joe. We'd like to be just past KC, in MO for the first night. But could stop in KC for supper.

            1. re: wyogal

              You will get to Omaha before you hit I-29 ....

              1. re: hawkeyeui93

                Nope. Looks like a highway (2) from Lincoln to Nebraska City, then get on 29 across the river east of there. I just zoomed in and realized that we won't get on I-29 until then.

                1. re: wyogal

                  I'll switch over to the GP board ,but I've driven back from Oregon to KC lots.
                  I-70 has better food and less trucks than I-80. That's why my suggestion to drop
                  down on 81or 281. Plus Cozy Inn is iconic.. See you on the Great Plains board.

                  1. re: wyogal

                    After I posted it, I realized that you might find a diagonal shortcut around Lincoln to I-29. My biggest concern with cutting down on a state highway would be running into slow-moving farm implements during planting season. It is a shame you are not staying on I-80 through Western Iowa and get to enjoy an Iowa delicacy [Pork Tenderloin Sandwich] ....

                    1. re: hawkeyeui93

                      I hate I-80, but it does cut miles, about 100. Not too worried about farm implements, it's not that far, and we'll be ready to g a little slower once we get off the beast of 80.
                      We've been to western Iowa a few times, so no worries there! ha!

                      1. re: wyogal

                        The Amana Colonies are an easy exit from I-80. Might be a nice stop! I haven't been there since early '90's, but remembering the food was very good.

                        1. re: meatn3

                          I went to the Amana colonies a long time ago, but we'll be just missing Iowa, getting off I-80 before that.
                          I remember eating there with my family when growing up, served family style.

                          1. re: wyogal

                            You definitely get full at the Amanas, but there is plenty of really good places to dine at along I-80 in Iowa ....

                            1. re: hawkeyeui93

                              not going through Iowa. heading southeast at Lincoln, NE. I-80 goes north to Omaha, then across IA. We are headed down to I-70 to go across Missouri.

                              1. re: wyogal

                                Completely understand and I am aware of both interstates having lived 30-plus years in Iowa ... Here's wishing you safe travels on your journey and see my I-70 and Amarillo suggestions hereinabove.

            2. I'd love to know where you live in Wyo. There are so few of us and fewer still that are passionate enough about food to be on Chowhound frequently. Would you be comfortable telling me? I was born and raised in Casper, moved away, moved back to Lander for 10 years before moving away for good.

              1 Reply
              1. http://www.cozyburger.com/ If I can get you to travel thru Salina.
                Oklahoma Joe's is open late enough and is an OK part of town + Tony Bourdain loves it. :)

                8 Replies
                1. re: bbqboy

                  Nope, not going through Kansas.

                  1. re: wyogal

                    I tried.It still has better,quirkier food than Nebraska. :)

                    1. re: bbqboy

                      bbqboy: Quirkier than the Runza? :)

                      1. re: hawkeyeui93

                        There are Runza Huts in Lawrence and KC also, + real Bierrocks.
                        Here is Keith's Kansas Travel website with a sampling of various stuff-
                        And don't forget the Garden of Eden :)

                        1. re: bbqboy

                          But, as my friends from Nebraska cling onto tightly, Runza is a Nebraska treasure! :)

                      2. re: bbqboy

                        But at the expense of miles. I may have to try one of those runzas...
                        I've tried the route doing I-70, but no real diagonals to cut across. We could go down towards Denver, take the bypass, then get on I-70, I suppose, just checked that. It adds just a bit of time. But, then if that interstate has less truck traffic, then it might be better just for that reason alone. I detest I-80.

                        1. re: wyogal

                          US81 down to Salina is 4 lanes almost all the way. Only about 60 miles between I-80 and I-70.

                          1. re: bbqboy

                            I'll have to check it out. First we need to get our two kids still at home to graduate from their colleges in the next two weeks, host a big party, THEN I hope to get really serious about this trip! I only have 8 valium left, so I told them both they better be mellow around the house until they graduate! hahahahaha!

                  2. Now y'all have me rethinking the route.... if I-70 does indeed have fewer trucks than I-80, then we just might go down, around Denver, and hook up there. and go across Kansas afterall!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: wyogal

                      Yep, I think I-70 as a route is winning.... less truck traffic. Only a few more miles, not many, like under 50.