Seeking Road Trips For Newly Retired Couple

Old Jan 9th, 2022, 01:23 PM
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Seeking Road Trips For Newly Retired Couple

We're a newly-retired couple looking for an adventure! Now that we're not restricted by a timetable, we'd like to explore new areas by taking several road trips. We enjoy natural and scenic areas, historical sites, small towns with local food, art, boutique or antique shopping and local tours of attractions. Moderate physical activities OK, too. We're no longer comfortable with high-traffic city driving, so any options around that would be great. Any tips, advice, suggestions or itineraries would be appreciated. I know this is rather vague, but we have an open road ahead of us!
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Old Jan 9th, 2022, 01:39 PM
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Can you clarify if you'll be flying to a location and then road tripping or are you asking for something you can drive to from home (which is where?).
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Old Jan 9th, 2022, 02:05 PM
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We're open to both options, but we're able to drive our own vehicle any distance/time frame we'd like. We'd just like to be able to stop for the evening before it gets dark each day. We currently live in the Northern Plains, and a lot of "snowbirds" drive to AZ, etc. for the Winter, taking several different days/routes to get there. We're open to driving ANYWHERE from here, any time of year other than Winter. Great distances from home it would be an advantage to fly in/drive rental, but with the hassles of flying/cost & shortages of vehicles right now, it may be more advantageous to use our own vehicle. But..we're open to suggestions!
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Old Jan 9th, 2022, 03:17 PM
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From the northern plains, the national parks in the norther Rockies and the Northwest are a logical destination:




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Old Jan 9th, 2022, 04:01 PM
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Yes, you could have fun going on two-lane highways to the national parks going north to south in the Rocky Mt. region: Glacier, Yellowstone, Teton, Arches, Bryce, Zion, and Grand Canyon. There are some pretty cool historic towns in between: Kalispell, Missoula, Bozeman, Cody, Moab, Sedona, Prescott, et al. Then there are the great national parks on the West Coast: Sequoia, Yosemite, Redwoods, Crater Lake, Mount Rainier, Olympia, and North Cascades. Plenty of cool towns in between Placerville, CA, Nevada City, Mendocino, Ashland, OR, Newport, McMinnville, Astoria, Port Townsend, WA, et al. These are all lively and have historic downtowns.

Last edited by PrairieHikerII; Jan 9th, 2022 at 04:34 PM.
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Old Jan 10th, 2022, 02:09 AM
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Should you ever consider New England, our typical Maine vacation is to split a week between two places and staying in an air b&b or a small cottage although cottages are usually by the week. Portland is an interesting city, plenty of local food options, museums and Casco Bay mail boat cruise. South of Portland is too congested for us but I had a fun long weekend with friends last fall which included Oqunquit playhouse. North of Portland the beaches get rockier. If you stay someplace with kitchen facilities you can take advantage of farmers markets but even without kitchen you can buy local yogurt and berries, pastries, etc. bring picnic supplies for rest periods some place with a great view and shade although top of Mt Battie in Camden via the auto road is worth wearing sunscreen and hats. Bring bag chairs. You can spend a day exploring the Harpswell area east of Brunswick with a stop for a lobster lunch. Download the conservation area guide to find places to explore and easy hikes. Best time to visit the Owls Head Transportation Museum is a weekend when they have a special event. We saw antique airplanes flying.

If you go in early June you might luck into a benefit lobster supper where you can eat with locals. In July Bath's Heritage Days coincides with July 4. Lighthouse viewing boat trip with the Maritime Museum in summer.

you can easily spend a week in each state but those are my suggestions for Maine. Wherever you decide to go you might focus on a hobby or special interest. My husband used to like steam ups and antique tractors doing a pilgrimage to Canundaiga NY ever two years for the John Deere Expo. Now he likes antique cars and trucks so we visit a weekly cruise night near home. One cruise night is held at an inland seafood restaurant takeout place. Another has car hops who serve great sausage subs and pizza cooked in the general store. In New England each state has different maps like ice cream stands or wine trails.
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Old Jan 10th, 2022, 03:00 AM
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For any road trip we did I got a paper map and put in places of inerest to us and then connected the dots. You could do that with various parts of the country. We love good food so you could combine your tour with consulting something like Diners Driveins and Dives for interesting stops for meals.
From your place in the "northern plains" maybe you would like to do a southeast tour--the Carolinas/Georgia.
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Old Jan 10th, 2022, 09:40 AM
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First, congratulations!

The first thing that came to my mind was a spring visit to places the Pacific Northwest that offer remarkable scenery at that time of year. Obviously the mountains will have deep snow on the ground, and you're not going to get hot weather, but there are places where the spring will take your breath away. Look at an April - May trip along these lines: https://goo.gl/maps/tEQHXLA1EXDMpbGbA . Google the places shown on the map.

This would include the beautiful Washington Palouse, glorious in the spring, then the amazing "scablands" of north-central Washington, then over the Cascades to the Skagit Valley in western Washington, home to fields of daffodils and tulips in the spring. You could continue over to the Olympic Peninsula and visit the Hoh rain forest - beautiful and spooky in the spring, as well as some of the Olympic National Park beaches, down to Cape Disappointment at the awesome mouth of the Columbia River.






Heading east, the Columbia River Gorge is arguably at its best in the spring, with the many waterfalls in full flow from melting mountain snow, and with the Hood River Valley bursting with orchards in bloom, with Mount Hood looming over everything. Continue to impressive Smith Rock State Park, then to the Painted Hills portion of the John Day Fossil Beds, and finally to Joseph and the Wallowa Mountains. This (comparatively) little-known area is possible the most scenic, if compact, area in the interior of the Pacific Northwest, and Joseph is a marvelous little town, full of public art and displaying a terrific "old west" personality.



I don't know where in the "northern plains" you call home, so for the map I just stuck in Sioux Falls as an arbitrary start/end point. Judging from your posting history, you obviously are aware of the many destinations in the plains and Rockies that are easily reached from your home base, so I won't go on about stops you could make en route.

Of course this is just one possible idea out of a galaxy of others, but it's a start, anyway.
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Old Jan 10th, 2022, 10:13 AM
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I strongly recommend you get a large Rand McNally Road Atlas so you can plan your trips. It's sometimes easier visually than using a phone or laptop.
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Old Jan 10th, 2022, 12:28 PM
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Northern New England - Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont combined with French Canada would be a great trip. Lots of beautiful, unspoiled coast in Maine, rugged mountains in New Hampshire, picturesque little villages and farms in Vermont. Wineries, orchards, farms, mountains in rural Quebec. Montreal and Quebec City are two very unique and fun cities. Quebec City is the most picturesque city in North America.
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Old Jan 12th, 2022, 05:45 AM
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Route 12, Utah (124 miles)

This ‘All-American-Highway’ takes you to forests, two national parks, and many natural wonders. You will drive in the rugged and varied areas of the nation. It is only 124 miles long, so you can easily drive it in a day. However, most people like to spend many days doing good deeds on their road trips.

Excellent highway photography 12
  • Red Canyon
  • Dixie National Forest
  • Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Paunsaugunt Plateau
  • Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
  • Hell's Backbone Scenic Backway
  • Calf Creek Falls
  • Blues Overlook
  • Burr Route
  • Escalante River Trailhead
  • Anasazi State Park Museum
  • Capitol Reef National Park
The road trip is great for hiking, cycling, horseback riding, ATV riding, skiing, boating, swimming, fishing, picnics, hunting, and camping. And it has many good ideas.
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Old Jan 12th, 2022, 08:32 AM
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This is timely as we're currently on a two + week road trip in Utah. At this very minute we're in Escalante, on UT 12, which is mentioned above. UT 12 is fantastic so far.

We live in CO so our road trip began there, with one night in Grand Junction (Colorado National Monument), then three nights in Capitol Reef National Park, two in Escalante (Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument). Next up is three nights in Bryce National Park, three nights in Zion National Park, two nights in St George (Snow Canyon), two nights in Moab (Arches, Canyonlands) and then back to CO.

Some other road trips we've made in the past few years that might give you some ideas:

The Journey is the Thing

Salvaging Summer

Into the Great Wide Open - A nine day road trip

Into the Great Wide Open: Winter Edition

Eating our way through Northern New Mexico

Today it rained…on the road in the PNW

The options are endless, especially if you're willing to fly to your starting point.


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Old Jan 12th, 2022, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by HotWheels View Post
We're open to both options, but we're able to drive our own vehicle any distance/time frame we'd like. We'd just like to be able to stop for the evening before it gets dark each day. We currently live in the Northern Plains, and a lot of "snowbirds" drive to AZ, etc. for the Winter, taking several different days/routes to get there. We're open to driving ANYWHERE from here, any time of year other than Winter. Great distances from home it would be an advantage to fly in/drive rental, but with the hassles of flying/cost & shortages of vehicles right now, it may be more advantageous to use our own vehicle. But..we're open to suggestions!
I'll share another option that has worked for me for many years. I park at my nearest Amtrak station and take the train(s) to distant places that have a rental car facility nearby. On one trip I went from home (Oregon) via Sacramento on the Coast Starlight and then got on the California Zephyr all the way to Galesburg IL. The Enterprise in Galesburg is only 100 yards from the Amtrak station. I rented a car for 7 days and drove it a little over 3000 miles in 20 states. To go back home I took the Southwest Chief all the way to Los Angeles and the Coast Starlight all the way home to Oregon.
For many years I rode in coach on Amtrak. I now much prefer to get a Roomette even though is is about 3 times as much. If you do much online shopping, you can join Amtrak Guest Rewards (free) and get points valid for Amtrak travel. I have taken several trips that involved using AGR points for (almost free) rail travel.
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Old Jan 12th, 2022, 04:08 PM
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Thanks for all the great ideas! With all the recent Covid restrictions & travel hassles, we're thinking of using our own vehicle this year, or until public transportation (planes, trains, etc.) change to less restrictions & uncertainty (the train travel sounds interesting!) Aside from travel guide books, it's always nice to hear about personal experiences or hidden gems. In the past we've traveled (by plane) to several different states/cities, but haven't taken any leisurely road trips from home, other than visiting family in surrounding states (we live in central North Dakota). The hobby angle we've used (flying to Nascar races, then visiting that state with rental car). We're looking forward to seeing more of our great country!! PS: for those of you who are interested, Fargo ND Visitor's Bureau has a "Save The Best For Last" free club & t-shirt for those who have traveled to 49 states and then show "this is the last state we have to check off"!! But we have more to offer than just Fargo...
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Old Jan 12th, 2022, 04:41 PM
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OH MY DEARS. NASCAR is Charlotte NC and environs. Come on DOWN.
No fooling.
So you have Daytona coming up shortly. Charlotte has the NASCAR Hall of Fame. But we also have a lot of other things going on. Interested? You can come here, tour the various race car garages just north of us.
Then go down to Charleston and the beach area. Your Road trip is complete!!
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Old Jan 14th, 2022, 02:43 PM
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We've actually visited Charlotte area for several races, toured garages & Hall of Fame, including during Speed Weeks. Then drove to Asheville & Blue Ridge Parkway on a couple trips. Went to Seagrove, then down to Darlington SC for another, ending up in Charleston (one of our favorite cities). Did the same for Richmond/Martinsville - visited Williamsburg, Fredricksburg & Monticello area after. Those trips are some of my fondest memories so far! Did the same for the Phoenix race; went to Sedona/Grand Canyon (several years ago). The Kansas race may be in our future, as we've never been to Missouri, and may make a loop back home from there. We've only been able to be away for about 2 weeks at a time in the past (small business owners), but we look forward to not having a rigid timetable for our next adventure! I look forward to checking further on all the suggestions & will post when we decide on the first route. Thanks to everyone who took the time to answer!
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Old Jan 15th, 2022, 12:58 PM
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Dover Delaware and then on to one of the ocean towns. Or drive to Cape May NJ, see the pretty houses; take the ferry to historic Lewes Delaware; beaches and on to Dover.
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