10 Best U.S. Road Trips to Take this Summer
June 05, 2014 2:00 pm(2 comments) Post a comment
Hug the Eastern Shoreline
Start: Asbury Park, NJ
End: Outer Banks, NC
Distance: 450 Miles
Begin along the Garden State Parkway at the New Jersey shore in Asbury Park, which is recovering well post-Hurricane Sandy with a brand-new boardwalk. Farther south, Atlantic City unveils several new non-gaming hotels this summer, including the refurbished The Claridge Hotel. At the bottom tip of the state, hit Cape May for its quiet beaches, quaint charm, and historic lighthouse before moving on to Delaware. Fenwick Island to the south is the spot for watersports and the home of the DiscoverSea Shipwreck Museum. Onward, US 13 S leads you into Virginia, where you'll find the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, one of the best in the country. Next stop: the Outer Banks in North Carolina, a collection of barrier islands with great beaches, pleasant fishing villages, and historic sites such as Kitty Hawk, where the Wright Brothers first took flight.
Cruise Under the Big Sky
Start: Cooke City, MT
Finish: Red Lodge, MT
Distance: 68 miles
Famed "On the Road" television host Charles Kuralt called the Beartooth All-American Highway, aka US 212, the "most beautiful drive in America." Though only 68 miles, this scenic drive, which winds through Montana and Wyoming, is meant to be leisurely, so expect it to take at least three hours and be prepared for weather changes. Keep your eyes open for wildlife while enjoying breathtaking scenery—20 mountain peaks and 10,000 stunning lakes. This is mining country, and outdoor activities are available along the way, from rafting to hiking, especially at the Cooke City terminus, which borders Yellowstone National Park.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Montana Guide
Discover Nautical New England
Start: Mystic, CT
End: Bar Harbor, ME
Distance: 400 miles
While some may prefer the fall foliage, summer is also prime time for exploring New England. Mystic's famous Seaport doubles as The Museum of America and the Sea. The galleries, historic wooden ships, and recreation of a 19th-century maritime village are a great way to steady your sea legs. Detour off I-95 North to Newport, RI to tour the opulent Gilded-Age mansions and tackle the 3.5-mile Cliff Walk nearby. Don't forget to grab some fresh lobster right on the harbor at the Aquidneck Lobster Bar, Newport's newest seafood spot. Head to Boston next via 95 N. Stretch your legs along the city's Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile walk through famous sites from the American Revolution. Boston is also a prime stop for foodies; chef Barbara Lynch, known for No. 9 Park and B & G Oysters, was recently named Restaurateur of the Year by the James Beard Foundation. Pushing northward, stop in Portland, ME for its picturesque downtown before jumping a ferry to hop the chain of outlaying islands, full of beaches and artist havens. Wrap up the journey in Acadia National Park, 47,000 acres of woods, mountains, coastline, and lakes.
Hit Maui's Hana Highway
Start: Kahului, HI
End: Paia, HI
Distance: 68 miles
Be sure to pack your bathing suit for Maui's most scenic drive. Sprawled along highways 36 and 360, picturesque coastlines and verdant jungles await at every twist and turn, along with black sand beaches, waterfalls, and roadside fruit stands. Plan on a full day in order to enjoy the various stops, such as the surfing stop Jaws and the chilly cascades of Twin Falls. A great detour for hungry travelers is in Paia at the Mama’s Fish House or at the Paia Fish Market. Once you reach Hana, the gorgeous black sand Waianapanapa Beach is perfect for relaxing after the day's drive. Take a final dip in the Seven Sacred Pools at the Waianapanapa State Wayside Park.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Mau Guide
Savor the Pacific Northwest's Wine Country
Start: Salem, OR
End: Walla Walla, WA
Distance: 300 miles
Start in Salem, where over 200 vineyards await just outside the city limits in the Willamette Valley. Be sure to put the biodynamic winery Montinore Estate on the agenda—their pinot noirs are a stand-out and their 210 acres are lovely to behold. Then, get a taste of the big city in Portland, the culinary boomtown of the Northwest. Be sure to grab an award-winning meal at Le Pigeon or Beast, or opt for a more casual bite at one of the city's may food cart "pods." If passing through on a weekend, visit the riverside Saturday Market (it runs on Sunday, too, despite the name), the area's largest outdoor arts and crafts market. Head east via route 84, once part of the Oregon Trail, to the Columbia River Gorge to view the gushing waterfalls. Cross into Washington State to explore some of their great wineries, such as Chateau Ste. Michelle Estate in Paterson and K Vintners in Walla Walla.
Roam the Wilderness of the Blue Ridge Parkway
Start: Charlottesville, VA
End: Asheville, NC
Distance: 469 miles
Dense with aromatic forests, the Blue Ridge Parkway connects Shenandoah National Park in North Carolina and Virginia’s Skyline Drive. The Poor's Farmer’s Market at mile 178 is a great spot to pick up a quilt and the Blue Ridge Music Center (mile 213) is a must to experience and appreciate Appalachian music. Take in the best views at Waterrock Knob at mile 451 and be sure to explore towns such as Blowing Rock (mile 291) and Little Switzerland (mile 334). The bookend cities of Charlottesville and Asheville are worth a day or two each.
Wend along the Pacific Coast Highway
Start: Monterey, CA
End: Morro Bay, CA
Distance: 123 miles
One of the country's most iconic drives, PCH always makes for a great trip. Start in Monterey, once the capital of California, to uncover the state's Spanish and Mexican past, and do not miss the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium. The noted artist community of Carmel is next; pull over to observe the kingfishers and pelicans at Carmel River State Beach. Due south, Point Lobos Reserve covers 550 acres and includes the U.S.'s first undersea ecological reserve. Continue on to stunning cliffs of Big Sur and further south, where sea otters await at Soberanes Point. The drive ends in Morro Bay State Park Museum of Natural History, a draw for Morro Rock and its panoramic views.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's California Guide
Follow a Southern BBQ Trail
Start: Holly Hill, SC
End: Austin, TX
Distance: 1350 miles
Work up an appetite and pace yourself for the best BBQ the south has to offer. Starting in South Carolina, the "dark" and "light" pork of Sweatman's makes for the perfect starter. Be sure to order a side of the house mustard sauce. Then, hit the road and follow I-20 due west until Birmingham, AL, where Miss Myra's Pit Bar BQ's (3278 Cahaba Heights Road) vinegary, mayo-based white sauce will win you over. Next, it's deeper south and west to Ocean Springs, MS, to the iconic The Shed, just outside of Biloxi. Here, take in live blues with your pork ribs before continuing on to New Orleans, where you can digest several days of history, music, food, and fun. Don't forget to hit The Joint, where the ribs are said to be the best in the city. Your last stop is Austin for two barbecue landmarks. The Salt Lick is known for its beef brisket, smoked over an open pit. Finally, you won't regret braving the lines at Franklin BBQ, hailed by many as the best BBQ the U.S. has to offer.
Explore the Empire State's Great Lakes
Start: Dunkirk, NY
End: Cape Vincent, NY
Distance: 315 miles
Begin at Dunkirk Historical Lighthouse on Lake Erie, where you can take a harbor cruise from the Dunkirk Pier to learn about local shipwrecks. Continue northward on Route 90 around the lake and take a breather at majestic Niagara Falls. Enjoy Fort Niagara State Park to experience living history programs and the stunning views, before traveling north and continuing along Lake Ontario on Route 18. A historic detour worth taking is Murphy Orchards and Underground Railroad in Burt, NY. Continue on Route 104 to Oswego to stop at the Fort Ontario State Site, the Safe Haven Museum, and the Oswego Lighthouse. Finish at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River at Cape Vincent.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Niagara and Western New York Guide
Circle Puerto Rico's Best Beaches
Start: San Juan, PR
End: Dorado, PR
Distance: 290 miles
Start in cosmopolitan San Juan, where you can explore the ancient fortifications of historic Old San Juan by foot. Once on the road, head east to the marinas of Fajardo to spend the day sailing. Or, if it's a clear evening, set out in kayaks in the bioluminescent bay, where the waters glow in the dark. Continuing south, explore the fishing village of Naguabo, then head southwest to the historic city of Ponce before hitting the beach again in Guanica, home of the island's dry forest reserve. On the western coast of the island lies some of the best surfing zones, including Cabo Rojo and Rincon. Looping around the island's northwest end, trade the car for a horseback ride along the beach in lovely Isabela. Finish in placid Dorado Beach, a favorite with families, and gourmands for celebrity chef Jose Andres' Mi Casa restaurant at the Dorado Beach Ritz Carlton Reserve.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Puerto Rico Guide