Summer is popular for moments at the beach or just staying at home binge-watching missed movies and television shows. Summer can also be the perfect time to hit the road with friends and family! No need to book a ticket to get your ideal vacation. Just fill your gas tank, load your playlist and start driving around the states. Here are several great ideas if you are planning a summer road trip. Each trip offers a variety of sceneries and activities to satisfy the adventurer in you.
- Go Country with Blue Ridge Parkway
Play your country tunes as you bring your family across Blue Ridge Parkway. The 469 miles drive is the nation’s first rural parkway. It took 52 years to complete this road and it takes several days to explore it with its 200 breathtaking overlooks. The drive connects the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. Shenandoah National Park covers 300 square-miles of protected hardwood forest and offers visitors more than 500 miles of trails. Families can stay in the cozy lodges of Skyland Resort or the Big Meadows Lodge then organize guided hikes and horseback rides. Kids will enjoy the “Junior Rangers Program” for ages 7-12 years old where they get a hands-on outdoor experience. The whole drive will reward you with a vast array of flora, including endangered plants. For adrenaline junkies, visit the Sliding Rock, a rock-and-small-slide-type waterfall that ends in a large, deep pool. Find time to walk around the historic Biltmore Estate. Once you’re around Tennessee, pick up a jar of moonshine for the authentic “Brew” Ridge Parkway experience. Visiting Clingman’s Dome will reward you with a 360-degree view of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Then relax and enjoy the park’s serene setting.
- Drink and Go Outdoors with Door County
The 50-mile long peninsula got its name from the narrow passage at the tip of the peninsula, between Lake Michigan and Green Bay. Back in the days, early French explorers called it Porte des Morts or “Death’s Door”. Ships often got wrecked trying to navigate the passage. Now, Door County is known as “Cape Cod of the Midwest” with its beautiful coastal towns, cherry and apple orchards, and specialty shops. To enjoy the outdoors, you can go kayaking to see 1,000-year-old caves to Native American etched petro glyphs and lighthouses. For more adrenaline, explore Gravity Trails where you get to see Door County’s most scenic areas and go zip-lining. For a more romantic road trip, go on a self-guided tour of the Door County Wine Trail. Friends can also have a pint or two during the Door County Beer Festival. Witness Bulgarian folk dancing at the Door County Folk Festival or enjoy a play of King Lear outdoors at Door Shakespeare. Door County has a lot to offer for any spirited soul.
- Experience the Final Frontier with Oregon Trail
Go for a drive on the pathway that took 18th century gold seekers and settlers to the west. The road will surround you with western land, trail ruts from wagon wheels and rock formations as you pass by the plains of Missouri to the Sand Hills of Nebraska and deserts of Wyoming before reaching the mountains and coastlines of Oregon. You can check out the small National Frontier Trails Museum in Independence, Missouri to get walking maps of old wagon trails. Passing through Nebraska means seeing golden cornfields and impressive rock formations. Check out Soda Springs in Idaho for the hourly eruption of a natural geyser of carbonated water. If you’re planning to take this summer road trip, make sure to bring a hunger for history and that true pioneer spirit!
- Enjoy a Scenic Drive on the Pacific Coast Highway
The Pacific Coast Highway is perhaps the most famous route next to Route 66. The coast between San Francisco and Los Angeles will have you and your friends slowing down and enjoying the backdrops of coastal views, untouched forests, seaside villages and wine districts. The Golden Gate Park is a great place to begin your summer road trip. Visit the Alcatraz Island and Fisherman’s Wharf during your stay and drink some coffee in Union Square. San Jose is home to the famous Winchester Mystery House with 165 rooms full of curiosities and mysteries. You can also see Facebook and Google’s headquarters in San Jose. For a feel of the 60’s, Santa Cruz exudes that decade with its Santa Cruz Boardwalk. Pick-up some vintage goodies at Pacific Avenue. The route will also lead you to Monterey Bay where you can go sailing, kayaking and even whale watching. Pass some time chilling at the Old Fisherman’s Wharf. Get your cameras ready as you pass by one of the tallest single span concrete bridges in the world, the Bixby Bridge. There are many great spots in Big Sur, so be sure to allot some time to enjoy the lookout points and artsy community. End your summer road trip perfectly in the gorgeous beaches of Southern California.
Summer is definitely not just for beach trips. Road trips are moments to bond with your friends and family as you enjoy different sights.
Just remember, road trips are not measured by the miles you cover but by the moments you create!