Thinking about a last minute getaway? Nothing beats the great American road trip. All it takes is choosing a destination, packing your bags and driving away with your family and friends. Road munchies and good music also makes the journey exciting. No matter where you are from – the states or abroad, if you’ve got a driver’s license and love long drives, let me give you the low down on a few of my favourite road trip destinations.
A great year-round destination, Texas is worth escaping to for the spacious highways, scrumptious Southern delicacies and historical spots. Start off at a bigger city like Dallas or Houston, and make your way around the Lone Star State. Less than 3 hours from Houston is the state’s capital Austin, which makes a great musical escape. Three hours south of Austin is Corpus Christi, which is excellent for beaches, swimming and coastal activities like windsurfing. If you’ve got kids with you, attractions like the Texas State Aquarium is a fun place featuring a 25-foot viewing window and a deck-side dolphin encounter. There’s also a memorial of the late-singer Selena.
Hop on the I-10 highway and head 3 hours west to San Antonio to check out The Alamo, SeaWorld and the charming River Walk with plenty of restaurants and souvenir shops. North of Houston on the I-45 highway is Dallas/Fort Worth, where you’ll see a nice skyline and even catch a few cowboys on cattle prancing around town, especially in the Stockyards National Historic District.
California is a big state with lots of great cities, and that’s what I love about it. You can visit alamo.co.uk to find your ideal car to drive up north and hit the ski slopes, then drive back down south to surf the pacific waves. Last time I flew into Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), I rented myself a car and drove straight to Newport Beach where I spent a few days. If you’re visiting Los Angeles for the first time, take a tour of the film studios in Hollywood.
After a few days in Orange County’s Laguna Beach, I headed to San Francisco. Not only do I enjoy the breath-taking views, but after a long drive I also love indulging in the Bay Area’s delicious food. A few of my favourite places are the tandoori grill restaurant called Shalimar, which makes you feel like you’re in Lahore, and Helmand Palace, a popular Afghani restaurant. The scenic drive across the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge will be the highlight of your California road trip.
Dip down about 2 hours south of Los Angeles, to visit the shores of San Diego. You can catch a game of baseball at Petco Park, home to the San Diego Padres. Other attractions include La Jolla – a contemporary art museum, Mission Beach and San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, which the kids will love.
As one of the most popular states in the United States, the sunshine state of Florida has lots to offer road trippers. From Disney World to The Keys, the top cities to visit include Orlando, Miami, Key West, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa. If you’re driving through the west side of the state, it’s worth stopping by the unique town of Weeki Wachee. As the smallest city in the state, it spans only one square mile making it ideal for a quick pit stop and an underwater mermaid show at Weeki Wachee Springs.
Travellers who want to visit this place need to apply for ESTA Application online.
Too bad it’s not all in one state, because the Midwest has a lot to offer. Although there are no oceanfront spots, you’ve got access to the five great lakes including Lake Michigan. Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan are all shorelines to this massive lake and this road trip route is ideal for those who enjoy a mix of food, culture, sports and an urban escape.
Start off in the windy city of Chicago for food like deep-dish pizza at Lou Malnatis, or the popular Chicago-style hot dog at Portillo’s. In late June or Early July, you can catch the Taste of Chicago food festival and various other music festivals and shows throughout the summer months such as Lollapalooza and the Chicago Air and Water show.
En route to Wisconsin, you can get an adrenaline rush on the roller coasters at the world famous amusement park Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois. Head to Wisconsin Dells waterpark after stopping in Lake Geneva or a strawberry patch along the way.
Once you’re in Michigan, take a ferry to Mackinaw Island for old-world charm, picnics in the park and a sample freshly made fudge.
If you love Starbucks, you haven’t tried Seattle’s Best. Enjoy a brew in Seattle, Washington where there is nothing but beautiful landscapes and rich culture. What’s nice about starting off a road trip in Seattle is that it’s a gateway to beautiful spots like Portland and Seaside in Oregon, Friday Harbour in Washington and even Vancouver. I always take a weekend trip to Vancouver for the trendy beaches, waterfront resorts, diverse shopping districts, art galleries and nightlife.
If you’d rather embark on a Canadian journey another time, then drive 3 hours and hop on a ferry to Friday Harbour, a primary hotspot in the San Juan Islands where you can go whale watching, enjoy an art tour and hang out at the pristine beaches.
Seaside, Oregon, about a 3-hour drive from Seattle, is also a great coastal place for historical tours, nature walks and fine seafood.
Another must-see is the 14,411- foot peak, Mount Rainier. It’s nearly a 3 hour journey from Seattle and is often referred to as winter wonderland or ‘nature’s playground’. So if you’re into winter adventure sports like snowboarding, skiing, or just a simple snowball fight, this is your number one attraction.
About the author: Amna Alam is a London-based freelance writer who enjoys travel, fashion and world cuisine.