A road trip is the ideal all-American vacation, and summer’s the time to get behind the wheel. Bonus: Gas prices are still exceptionally low, so fuel up the tank and hit the road. Here are five trips to add to your itinerary.
1. Pacific Coast Highway
State Route 1, known for its long stretches along the Pacific Coast Highway (or PCH), hugs much of the California coastline from Leggett to Dana Point. You could easily spend a week driving its 656 miles, especially if you wanted to see any of the sights in San Francisco or along Southern California’s coast.
Many of state’s top attractions are located on PCH, including the San Francisco Bridge, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Redwood National Forest, Hearst Castle, and Santa Monica Pier. Others, like Disneyland, are only a short drive away.
2. Blue Ridge Parkway
You’ll see some of the nation’s most beautiful scenery on the Blue Ridge Parkway, which connects Shenandoah National Park in North Carolina to Virginia’s Skyline Drive. Don’t miss the opportunity to pick up a souvenir at Poor Farmer’s Market in Meadows of the Dan, Virginia, or listen to Appalachian music at the Blue Ridge Music Center in Galax, Virginia. For the best view, stop at Waterrock Knob (mile post 451).
Detour: Head east on State Route 501, roughly 45 minutes to Appomattox Court House, where in 1865 General Robert E. Lee surrendered to the Union Army and the Civil War came to an end.
3. Historic National Road
The Historic National Road, the country’s first federally funded interstate highway, dates back to 1834 when it was built to reach our westernmost settlement (at the time, it was St. Louis). Plan to spend at least three days on the road, starting in Baltimore. As you go, watch for old brick school houses, historic tollhouses, and scenic bridges.
Coast-to-coast: For a cross country adventure, take I-90 from Boston to Seattle. You’ll drive through 13 states, and you can easily detour to several national parks, including Niagara Falls, Mount Rushmore, and Yellowstone.
4. San Juan Skyway
Although the San Juan Skyway is known for its fall foliage, we think it’s gorgeous in the summer, too. The loop hits many of southern Colorado’s most popular sites, including Mesa Verde National Park, Durango, and Telluride. If you have the time, stay the night at the historic Strater Hotel in Durango and ride the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad the next morning.
Jurassic alternative: Start at the Dinosaur Journey Museum in Grand Junction, Colorado, and continue along the 480-mile Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway to the Dinosaur National Monument. The route loops through Moab (plan to stop at Arches and Canyonlands national parks) before returning to Grand Junction.
5. George Parks Highway
If you’re planning a road trip through Alaska, summer is the time to do it, and the George Parks Highway is the road to take. Named for Alaska’s first territorial governor, the highway connects Anchorage to Fairbanks, offering incredible views of Mt. McKinley along the way.
Tip: This highway passes Denali National Park — although you’ll have to take a shuttle to actually get inside.