It’s road trip season, people; a favorite American pastime that has taken travelers all over this majestic country to some of the most beautiful and varied landscapes in the world, whether it be coastal, mountainous, or through quirky small towns where culture is rich. Here are 7 must see road trip destinations in the U.S.
Big Sur, California
Picture this: Just you, your trusty automobile, some cool tunes with the windows down as you travel Route 1 along the central coast from San Simeon to Carmel; Clusters of towering redwoods to one side and the rocky coast of the Pacific on the other. Big Sur is a must for road tripping, best for a long weekend during May or September to beat the crowds. Besides the stunning views be prepared to stop for hiking, picnics and playtime on the beach.
Blue Ridge Parkway, NC and VA
The Blue Ridge Parkway is a well-known route amongst road trippers and it is a definite must. It stretches 469 miles along the southern Appalachian Mountains, linking Shenandoah in Virginia and the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina. Of course, the views are ridiculously good looking, but there is plenty to stop for as well. Try some camping or hiking and check out waterfalls and scenic picnic areas along the way.
Seward Highway, Alaska
Get your fill of Alaskan beauty driving along the 127 mile Seward Highway south across the Kenai Peninsula. The road will guide you through boreal forests, colossal glaciers, and breathtaking fjords while hugging the Chugach Mountains passing waterfalls and wildlife along the journey. Need I say more?
US Route 1, Maine
Take this road in early summer or fall and be treated to a week-long journey filled with views of coastal beauty unlike any other. Starting in the town of Kittery, drive north and pass through northern towns where you can see and experience it all- seaside mansions, delicious restaurants, blueberry barrens and ever changing landscapes. End in the city of Calais at Canada’s border.
Going-to-the-Sun Road, Montana
Start in Glacier National Park and take this infamous road east to west for 50 miles. On this journey you’ll cross the Continental Divide and pass Jackson Glacier Overlook- a good place to stop and take in the majestic glaciers that dot the horizon. The Garden Wall will also leave you dazzled, as the Sun Road, as it’s also called, is considered a magnificent engineering feat with portions carved into the side of a vertical cliff.
Hana Highway, Hawaii
Looking for tropical wilderness and quaint, laid back surf towns of old time Hawaii? Take this 60-mile drive on the east side of the island, which starts in the town of Paia and winds its way along the sparkling, lush coast. You’ll encounter around 600 hairpin turns, one-lane bridges and sights that will take your breath away. There are plenty of worthy stops as well, including the Keane Arboretum, Waikani Falls and Ka’eleku Caverns.
Highway 1, Florida Keys
To experience some of mainland America’s best beaches, start at the southernmost tip of the Florida peninsula and meander along the 113 mile stretch of Hwy 1 to Key West, and prepare yourself for sensory overload. This road will take you from fast paced Miami into slow island living, with turquoise water on either side of the lazy two-lane highway. You’ll get a little piece of all the keys, each offering something unique and wonderful to stop and take in. Grab a margarita at a local bar, kayak out to a nearby mangrove island and take a dip, or try some delicious seafood. And, let’s not forget the prime scenic drive across the infamous 7-mile bridge.
Courtney is a full-time writer covering soccer, travel and the outdoors. You can find her scouting out hole in the wall joints for the perfect carnitas taco, jumping in the ocean under the light of a full moon or exploring the beautiful Florida wilderness and documenting her adventures in her blog, www.localtravelgal.wordpress.com.