10 Southwest Road Trips for Travelers

Posted by Pekin Insurance on Aug 31, 2016

The best southwest road trips from Marfa to Roswell to the Cow Chip Throwing Capital of the World.


When you jump in your car and go out on a journey across the American Southwest, the sheer beauty of the landscape can make you feel like you could drive its roads forever without seeing all of the good stuff. But even though the views are abundant, make sure to stop often at the local attractions and immerse yourself in the culture, history, and nature waiting right off of the road.

Don't forget to fill up your tank and pack a cooler full of water, soft drinks, and road-tripping snacks. After all, you'll be driving in the desert for stretches at a time!

1. Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, Arizona
How long to stay:
Two days

For a close-up of the planets and stars that surround you, visit the Lowell Observatory in this great college town. Tours are available during both the day and night, and visitors have the opportunity to see even solar flares on the sun. Check out the new Discovery Channel Telescope, the fifth largest in the United States and one of the most technologically advanced. To get better acquainted with the night sky, head back later in the evening—with the same admission ticket from earlier in the day—for an alternative view of the constellations and other celestial bodies.

2. Tombstone, Arizona
How long to stay: One day

Want to walk the same streets as Western legends? If you love the Wild West, Tombstone is the perfect town for you during a southwest road trip. Stop by the O.K. Corral for a gunfight reenactment, and if you're feeling bold, visit the town's shooting gallery and fire a real Colt 45. To memorialize your trip, pose for a picture at one of the town's old-time photo studios or purchase souvenirs from one of Tombstone's many shops.

3. The Santa Fe Farmers' Market and Restaurant Martín, Santa Fe, New Mexico
How long to stay: One day

Foodies should pack some snacks and find their way over to the Santa Fe Farmers' Market to pick up fare from Northern New Mexico. While wandering the market, sample some of the southwestern flavors and bring home some homemade yogurt, dried chilies, or grass-fed meat. If you've always wanted to eat a meal cooked by an Iron Chef contestant and aren't already stuffed after leaving the market, head down the street to Restaurant Martín for dinner.

4. The International UFO Museum and Research Center, Roswell, New Mexico
How long to stay: One day

Hoping for an alien encounter? Believe in conspiracy theories? You may want to consider a visit to the International UFO Museum and Research Center. Whether you're a history buff or simply interested in learning more about the out-of-this-world sighting from 1947, the museum is worth a stop. It houses a diorama and films of what's considered to be the "official" autopsies of the alien bodies found after the crash. Come with an open mind!

5. The Four Corners Monument
How long to stay:
One afternoon

Ever want to be in more than one place at a time? The southwest can make that happen by allowing you to stand in four states at once—if you position yourself correctly. The Four Corners National Monument—on US Highway 160 where Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona meet—is the only place in the United States where four states intersect at one point. If you're looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience in a peaceful setting, take a drive to the Four Corners Monument. Make sure to bring provisions, as the surrounding area is remote.

6. Marfa, Texas
How long to stay: Two days

If you like your art in unexpected places, consider a trip to Marfa. In the 1970s, artist Donald Judd left New York for Texas and soon after, acquired an entire Army base, which he spent the next two decades filling with his work. These outdoor exhibits are enough to satisfy art lovers, but there's more to Marfa. In 2005, for instance, artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset created their controversial replica of a Prada storefront set just outside of town. After you've had your fill of installations, consider the art of people-watching or, better yet, introduce yourself to the locals, many of whom are transplants themselves. If you're in search of flora and fauna and want to stay in Marfa overnight, be sure to check out the El Cosmico campground.

7. The State Fair of Texas, Dallas, Texas
How long to stay:
Three days

Everything is bigger in Texas, including state fairs, and this one is three weeks long! It takes place between September and October. With attractions to please everyone, this road trip offers an opportunity for the entire family! Come prepared with sneakers as you'll be doing a lot of walking to check out the car show, livestock, concerts, or even the annual Red River Rivalry game between the universities of Texas and Oklahoma. If you love eating, the fair will not disappoint. There are food tents and cooking contests throughout the festival. Some of the recent winners of the "creative" category include participants who fried beer, butter, and even an entire Thanksgiving dinner.

8. The Alamo and Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas
How long to stay:
One day

Driving through the bottom half of Texas is a trek most people try to avoid, but when San Antonio is your destination, it's worth every minute on those long stretches of desert. Plus, you'll definitely see actual tumbleweeds on your way. San Antonio is home to the incredible Alamo, which was the site of a battle between Texan and Mexican armies. The Alamo itself is majestic, and you can take self-guided or actual-guided tours. When you're done, you can walk or drive to "the American Venice," the incredible San Antonio Riverwalk, a paved river lined with restaurants side by side where people sail in little boats down the middle.

9. Cow Chip Throwing Capital of the World, Beaver, Oklahoma
How long to stay: One day

Sometimes, you need to get your hands dirty when you're on the road to feel like you really got the best experience. Well, consider heading to Beaver to try your hand at cow chip tossing. If you're going in April, enter the annual competition for a chance to win. If you lose, stop by the gift shop and purchase a souvenir box for your friends and family back home. And make sure to pose for a photo with King Cow Chip, a towering beaver holding some dried bovine fecal matter.

10. National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
How long to stay:
One day

If you're looking for a museum that's entertaining as well as educational, consider the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. Exhibits here include sculptures, guns (John Wayne's personal arsenal is stored here, for instance), and even barbed wire. There's even a replica turn-of-the-century cattle town that visitors can tour. Make sure to set aside enough time for this museum, partner, as it's possible to lose track while you're turning back the clock.

A southwest road trip is a dream come true for those who like to see the country by car. Before you leave, prepare for car safety, make sure your auto insurance is up to date, and have roadside assistance ready. 

What are your southwest road trip ideas? Which additional destinations would you plan? Share your suggestions in the comments!



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