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Florida Keys Scenic Highway, a great cheap road trip
Federal Highway Administration

With gas prices dropping to a national average of $2.20 a gallon — and many stations across the nation advertising gas under $2 — now is the perfect time to plan a road trip. Here are five of our favorite drives.

The Florida Keys Scenic Highway
Also known as the Overseas Highway — and the Highway that Goes to Sea — the Florida Keys Scenic Highway runs more than 100 miles from Miami to the southernmost point of Key West. Along the way, it crosses a whopping 42 bridges, including the infamous Seven Mile Bridge. While the typical drive takes four hours, you could spend days taking in scenic ocean views, exploring island culture, visiting local attractions like the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum, and more.


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Connect: Extend your road trip by picking up the A1A Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway in Miami and heading north.


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Lincoln Highway, a great cheap road trip
Wikipedia

Lincoln Highway
Before Route 66, there was the Lincoln Highway, the nation’s first transcontinental road. You can retrace the entire route from Times Square in New York City to Lincoln Park in San Francisco (plan your route here), but we like the 179-mile Illinois stretch for its windmills, covered bridges, and original route markers. Highlights include Ronald Reagan’s boyhood home in Dixon and the Joliet Prison, now part of a free public park.

Detour: Get your kicks on Route 66 where it intersects the Lincoln Highway (US 30) in Joliet or visit “The Crossroads of the Nation,” the intersection of the Lincoln Highway and the Dixie Highway (US 1).

Natchez Trace Parkway, a great cheap road trip
Federal Highway Administration

Natchez Trace Parkway
This 444-mile highway stretches from Natchez (in Mississippi) to Nashville, following the route of the historic Old Trace walking path that linked the Cumberland, Tennessee, and Mississippi Rivers. Parts of the Old Trace still exist, and you can explore it from various points along the route. You can also see burial mounds, visit Confederate gravesites, walk through a swamp, and learn how tobacco is made at The Tobacco Farm while cruising the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Alternative: The Blue Ridge Parkway winds 469 miles through Virginia and North Carolina to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Scenic Highway 12, a great cheap road trip
Federal Highway Administration

Scenic Byway 12
For sheer beauty, few road trips can compare to Scenic Byway 12 in Utah. The route begins in Red Canyon off US 89, continues through the northern part of Bryce Canyon National Park, winds through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, crosses over aspen-covered Boulder Mountain, and then finally ends in Torrey, just five miles west of Capitol Reef National Park. If you go, brace yourself for the Hogsback, a narrow stretch of asphalt clinging to a rocky ridge. What it lacks in guard rails it more than makes up for with astounding views of the cottonwoods below.

Nearby: It’s roughly a four-hour drive from Torrey, Utah to Cortez, Colorado — the beginning of the San Juan Parkway. But if you’re in the area, you won’t want to miss the 233-mile route that loops through Telluride, Ouray, Silverton, and Durango.

road trip on Great River Road
Flickr / Dave Herholz

Great River Road
The Great River Road follows the course of the Mississippi River through 10 states — from northern Minnesota to Louisiana — on a more than 2,000 mile route that takes most travelers up to 10 days to complete. (Plan your road trip or find itineraries here.) Possible stops include the Mark Twain Museum Interpretive Center in Hannibal, Missouri; The Gateway Arch in St. Louis; the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, Mississippi; and Vicksburg National Military Park.

Similar: The Ohio River Scenic Byway offers nearly continuous views of the river. Visit the Harriet Beecher Stowe House, William Howard Taft National Historic Site, and Ulysses S. Grant’s birthplace.

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