Six Truly Iconic American Road Trips
Nothing says summer like a drive out on the open road ... shades on, windows down and music at full blast. Here are six ideas to get you started.
See the full list of iconic road trips at jetsetter.com.
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Historic Route 1, Maine
With its centuries-old seaside towns, sun-drenched lakes, and postcard-perfect lighthouses, Historic Route 1 is one of the most idyllic drives in the East Coast. Acadia National Park is a main draw (there's no better way to stretch your legs than with the hike up to Ship Harbor Trail), but you'll also want to break for the Farnsworth Art Museum, where you can see notable works by Andrew Wyeth. For lunch, we recommend you detour to the waterside Five Islands Lobster for the legendary lobster roll with housemade cilantro mayonnaise.
Austin to El Paso, Texas
The Lone Star State's music capital is a prime place to kick off a road trip, thanks to its great eats (Franklin Barbecue) and affordable rental cars (from $35 a day on a recent search). Your next stop: Marfa, an arts town that has reached mythic status owed in part to an influx of galleries and boutiques. Don't miss artist Donald Judd's studio and the iconic Prada Marfa just beyond town limits. Stay at Hotel Paisano, where Liz Taylor and James Dean bunked while filming Giant. From there, it's just a two-hour drive south to see the show-stopping limestone canyons at Big Bend National Park, before you fly out of El Paso.
Route 100, Vermont
If driving through Norman Rockwell-esque towns is your game, this is the place to play. Route 100 winds through some 200-miles of New England perfection (this is the home of the Vermont Country Store, after all). In Stowe, check into the Trapp Family Lodge alpine chalet, still owned by the Von Trapp family (of Sound of Music fame); their biking trails are some of the best in the state. Once you've had your exercise fix, gain back your lost calories on a tour of the Ben & Jerry's Factory in Waterbury; it's touristy for a reason.
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Overseas Highway, Florida
Stock up on sunscreen—you’ll need it on Florida’s iconic Overseas Highway. The series of 42 bridges leads you from Miami to Key West, over turquoise seas and a series of atolls dotted with palm trees. Go kayaking in the crystal clear water of the 500-acre Bahia Honda State Park, and snorkel the coral reef (where you can see a submerged statue of Jesus) at John Pennekamp State Park. Once you get to Key West, stop in for a slice of Key Lime pie at the Key Lime Pie Factory and to see Ernest Hemingway's former residence, still home to some fifty descendants of his six-toed cats.
Albuquerque to Taos, New Mexico
Ancient mines. Ghost towns. Valley views. The Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway extends 15,000 square miles through the heart of New Mexico. Along the way, stop at Cibola National Forest to hike with deer, elk, and antelope, and shop the galleries of the onetime ghost town turned art colony, Madrid. It's worth planning your trip around a performance at the Santa Fe Opera House, where works like Don Giovanni are performed in an open-air theater at sunset. In Taos, Taos Pueblo is a must-see; the village's adobe homes have been around for more than 1,000 years, and 150 tribal members still live in them.
Pacific Coast Highway
This cliffside drive is among America's most photographed for good reason: namely, the verdant bluffs that tumble down to the crystal-blue Pacific. Start just South of San Francisco in Monterey (home to that famous aquarium), and stop for a photo opp overlooking the 279-foot-high Bixby Bridge and the California Sea Otter Game Refuge. For lunch, head to the clifftop Post Ranch Inn for Pacific gold oysters and hazelnut finished pork shoulder, or grab an ambrosiaburger and fries at Nepenthe, which looks out onto Big Sur's Santa Lucia Mountains. End the trip with a tour of the 1919 Hearst Castle.