At one time or another, most of us have dreamed of taking the ultimate road trip – the kind that actually makes you excited over the thought of spending days in a vehicle. What’s the true allure of a great road trip, though? What is it about a certain stretch of highway that gets people in the mood to pack a bag, call in from work, and run out the door?
It would be nice to narrow it down to just one thing, but a great road trip is comprised of a variety of factors, from cool destinations and scenic roads to the fun people and interesting situations you encounter along the way.
If hitting the open road and leaving your everyday life behind for a few days sounds like a dream come true, then here are a few road trips that you’ll want to add to your bucket list.
The Overseas Highway:
This road trip embodies the ideal vision of warm weather, white sand, and sparkling blue water, all with the kind of laid-back feel you’d expect from a beachy road trip. What’s great about this route is that you could technically make the trip from Miami to Key West – your A and B destinations – in roughly 4 hours, so you really can make a full day of it just stopping here and there along the way down to Key West, but don’t be afraid to break it up into a few days.
The John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park offers excellent snorkeling and diving opportunities and there are plenty of places all throughout the keys where you can rent kayaks or canoes, taking off on your own or with a guide around reefs and mangrove forests. There are tons of restaurants and diners as well as produce stands along the way, so take the opportunity to check out some local food and culture.
Columbia River Scenic Highway:
If mountains and waterfalls are more your thing, then it’s impossible to be disappointed by Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge. The highway that snakes along the river from Troutdale to The Dalles, about a 70-mile route, takes you past some of the most breathtaking scenery in the United States.
This route is particularly known for offering some stellar viewpoints that provide panoramic vistas. There is a bevy of historic towns along the way as well as recreational sites and even Mount Hood National Forest. You’ll encounter all kinds of museums and cultural centers along the way as well, making this highway a great opportunity to not only enjoy the outdoors but also get a better sense of what the history and culture of the area are really all about.
Acadia All-American Road:
Located in Maine, this scenic highway is best explored in the summer and into the fall when the weather is great and plenty of local restaurants and produce stands are up and running. This area is a true natural wonderland, offering lakes and small mountains, islands and beaches, and plenty of opportunities for hiking, biking, swimming, and wildlife viewing – bald eagles and peregrine falcons are common sights.
It’s easy to find a variety of inns and camping establishments anywhere in the area, which in turn makes it easier to just go with the flow rather than feel the need to rush from place to place in order to meet reservation requirements.
The Great River Road:
If you really want to get a true in-depth feel for the diverse culture and history of the country, then following the Mississippi from Minnesota to Louisiana is sure to offer adventures never-before-experienced. The highway takes you through some surprisingly hilly areas and along dramatic cliffs – something definitely unexpected for the majority of us who always imagine the area along the Mississippi River as being relatively flat.
In terms of road trips, this is the full works, as you could certainly spend a good week or more taking your time from north to south, checking out small towns and major cities along the way.
Louisiana’s Bayou Country:
Especially if you’ve already taken the Great River Road down to Louisiana, checking out the state’s bayou country is a great way to indulge your desires for towering live oaks and breezy Spanish moss. Highway 31 is one of the best stretches to enjoy the beautiful Louisiana countryside and get a true taste of Cajun culture.
If you’re heading out on an extended road trip, make sure to prepare plenty of music, a well-stocked first-aid kit (handy for backcountry emergencies), and plenty of road trip snacks. You might even consider a few vehicle upgrades, such as adding LED lighting to increase visibility for those long nighttime stretches of highway. If you’re going to be camping, you might even consider some LED accent lighting for your truck.