The best part of any road trip isn't the place you're going to, it's the journey to get there. The most memorable moments are the quirky pit stops, the roadside dining and the ever-changing landscapes out the car window. So load up the car and queue up the music because summer is the season of road trips.
There's a long distance between point A and point B, but on these road trips there's plenty to do and see along the way.
Pacific Coast Highway
The Pacific Ocean at Big Sur — Photo courtesy of Getty Images / adamkaz
The Pacific Coast Highway, also known as Highway 1, stretches along a large portion of California’s coast offering up stunning views of shoreline, parks and cities. Explore the outdoors with stops at Muir Woods, where you’ll find a forest of redwood trees, and witness marine wildlife at Big Sur.
Road trippers can also experience luxury in Santa Barbara or embrace the skater and surfer lifestyle of Venice Beach. You’ll learn a lot about California’s history with pit stops at Point Loma, home of one of the oldest lighthouses on the West Coast, and the Hearst Castle, an elaborate mansion built in 1919. It’s a long stretch of highway that offers a little bit of everything for everyone.
Santa Fe is just as beautiful at night — Photo courtesy of Getty Images / DenisTangneyJr
Formally known as New Mexico State Road 14, the Turquoise Trail is the perfect road trip for those who want to immerse themselves in Southwestern culture. Driving south from Santa Fe to Albuquerque, the route follows the trail where the precious turquoise stone was first mined.
Designated a National Scenic Byway in 2000, the Turquoise Trail not only offers beautiful views of New Mexico, but gives travelers plenty of interesting stops including art galleries, shops selling western goods like leather and cowboy boots, and plenty of photo ops.
Historic Route 66
Route 66 in Utah — Photo courtesy of Getty Images / Grafissimo
There is no other highway in the world as infamous as this one. You can practically feel the wind from the car window whip through your hair when you hear the name "Route 66".
The historic portion of the road stretches between Los Angeles and Chicago, so there’s a lot of exploring to be had along this legendary passage. The Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest and the Meramec Caverns are all incredible stops along Historic Route 66.
Great River Road
Curving road along the Mississippi River — Photo courtesy of Getty Images / Willard
Along the Mississippi River, one of the longest rivers in the world, is the 3,000-mile Great River Road. It’s about 36 hours worth of driving and takes travelers through 10 different states, so there’s plenty to see and experience on this road trip.
From natural wonders like Nelson Dewey State Park and Trail of Tears State Park, to historic treasures like the Delta Blues Museum and the Historic New Orleans Collection, this road trip tells the tale of life along the Mississippi River.
Colorado’s Million Dollar Highway
San Juan Mountains and surrounding forest reflect in Molas Lake at dusk — Photo courtesy of Getty Images / ChuckSchugPhotography
Colorado’s Million Dollar Highway might only be 25 miles long, but it’s a stunning route filled with plenty of things to do and sights to see. This mountainous highway offers plenty of outdoor recreation for adventure seekers. You can explore the San Juan National Forest or make a stop at Molas Lake.
You can also get a taste of the gold rush with a gold mine tour in Silverton and explore a ghost town in Animas Forks. And when you’re looking for a relaxing break, you can take a dip into a natural hot spring in Durango. It’s a short stretch of road, but it’ll take you a long time to explore everything it has to offer.
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St. Augustine's city skyline and Bridge of Lions — Photo courtesy of Getty Images / SeanPavonePhoto
Running along the eastern coast of Florida, you’ll get plenty of beach views on Florida’s A1A. Starting in Miami and heading north almost all the way to the Georgia state line, this road trip is perfect for beach lovers.
Travelers taking the A1A can experience sea turtles at Fort Lauderdale’s Sea Turtle Oversight Protection Headquarters, explore fine art at J.M Stringer Gallery of Fine Art in Vero Beach, and spend time in the historic city of St. Augustine.
High Road to Taos
San Jose de Gracia Catholic Church in Las Trampas along the High Road to Taos in Northern New Mexico — Photo courtesy of Getty Images / Wilsilver77
The 56-mile stretch of highway between Sante Fe and Taos is an official scenic byway that gives travelers an intimate look at this region’s history, architecture and culture of Old Spain. Travelers driving along the High Road to Taos will find plenty of art galleries, small towns, Pueblo villages and scenic views of mountains and desert.
A few highlights include a hike to waterfalls at the Pueblo of Nambe, Cordova’s traditional woodcarving, and the San Francisco de Asis Mission Church.
Portland to Seattle
Mount St. Helens reflecting in Silver Lake — Photo courtesy of Getty Images / 4nadia
Two of the Pacific Northwest’s most vibrant cities, Portland and Seattle, have plenty of exciting stops in between. It’s only a 3-hour drive, but if you want to make it into an exciting road trip, there are plenty of museums, parks and natural vistas to enjoy along the way.
Silver Lake is a beautiful spot to go for a hike or have a picnic while taking in views of Mount St. Helens. Lewis and Clark State Park offers more pristine nature where visitors can explore its many trails by hiking or by horseback. For aviation fans, the Olympic Flight Museum in Olympia, Wash. explores the history of flight with a collection of planes and helicopters.
Colorado to Vegas
I-70 at Genessee Park, in the Colorado Mountains — Photo courtesy of Getty Images / Sparty1711
A rite of passage for many who live in Colorado is the road trip from Fort Collins to Las Vegas. The voyage begins in the Colorado mountains and continues into the desert, which is a stunning change of topography. Glenwood Hot Springs Resort is the perfect rest stop offering visitors a rejuvenating soak in the world’s largest mineral hot springs pool.
The Fremont Indian State Park and Museum gives travelers the chance to see ancient pottery and petroglyphs. And if you’re looking to take a break from driving and spend a night camping in the desert, the Virgin River Canyon Campground in Northern Arizona is a great place to be in the wild.
Highway 191 from Moab to Lake Powell
Looking south on Utah Highway 191 at Monument Valley — Photo courtesy of Getty Images / 4FR
It’s around 186 miles from Moab to Lake Powell – a long highway packed with an endless amount of outdoor adventure and recreation. This road trip gives you access to Arches National Park, the Valley of the Gods, Goosenecks State Park and Monument Valley.
Those looking for Ancestral Puebloan ruins can search for petroglyphs around Bluff, Utah, and catch a glimpse of the Tsegi villages. To get a taste of the region, wine lovers can spend some time experiencing local wines at the Spanish Valley Vineyard and Winery.
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