Stare in awe at more than 100 glaciers, wildlife and the beautifully jagged Canadian Rockies along Icefields Parkway. (Photo: Alamy)
Whether your style skews red-hot convertible or comfy, old-school Caddy, life’s better when you’re road tripping. Don’t worry, these trips aren’t about speeding ahead; the only rules of the road for our top 10 are fun, sights aplenty and collecting stories to tell for years to come.
10. Wisconsin’s Great River Road
Though the Mississippi River runs close to the Great River Road straight up through the center of the U. S., there’s no other state that offers as constant a view of the river as does Wisconsin. Watch for eagles along the way, and stop off in any (or all, if you’ve got the time) of the road’s 33 river towns for antiquing, fishing and, yes, cheese. This is, after all, Wisconsin.
9. Finger Lakes, NY
Art, wine and those famous waterfalls are on track in New York’s Finger Lakes region. Start your drive in Corning, where you can attempt the art of glassblowing or just do some shopping at one of the region’s great marvels: the Corning Museum of Glass. Though New York is, of course, on the east coast, the nearby Rockwell Museum has one of the finest collections of western art anywhere in the United States. On the way to Niagara Falls (a barrel of fun), explore some of the region’s 140 alcohol producers — whether you prefer wine, cider or something harder, your wish will be served.
8. Anchorage to Seward, Alaska
Take it slow on this day trip down the Seward Highway from Alaska’s largest city to one of its best summer playgrounds, the on-the-water town of Seward. Along the way, give in to the temptation to stop at every scenic pull-off to scan for wildlife on land and in the water. Even if the whales are scarce, the mountains provide plenty of eye candy. Stop into Girdwood for mountain biking and, sigh, one of The Bake Shop’s divine cinnamon rolls.
7. Icefields Parkway; Alberta, Canada
There’s no cooler blue than that of Lake Louise, one of the many sights that’ll have you oohing and oh-my-ing along the Icefields Parkway, which runs from Banff to Jasper. With 100 glaciers, wildlife (watch for bears) and the beautifully jagged Canadian Rockies keeping you company, this 144-mile stretch of road offers outdoor experiences that can keep everybody from shutterbugs to adventure junkies busy for years.
6. Miami to Key West
Most people rush the drive from Miami to Key West along the Overseas Highway. Don’t do that. Instead, stop at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park — the first underwater park in the U.S. — and the adjacent Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (where you will want to get your snorkel on). Down the road, make time for Bahia Honda State Park, a darn pretty beach to laze away on. Along the way, feed the fish at Robbie’s Marina; then feed yourself a lobster Reuben at Keys Fisheries and end your meal with the sweet–tart tang of the Keys’ best Key lime pie.
5. Memphis to Nashville
We’re talking blues, country and some seriously good hiking and history lessons when you travel from Memphis to Nashville along U.S. 64 east and the Natchez Trace Parkway. This is the history of American music — and America itself. Sandwich the drive with museums that will get your hips moving and your mind humming: the Memphis Music Hall of Fame and, in Nashville, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Along the way, stop at Shiloh to explore the Civil War battlefields. Elvis fans take note: You’ll want to take a side trip to Tupelo to visit the birthplace of the legend.
4. Pacific Coast Touring Route, New South Wales, Australia
Birding (even if you’ve never fancied yourself a birder), beaches and plenty of wine will keep your pulse calm and your senses content as you wend your way from Cairns to Sydney down the east coast of Australia on a 1,500-mile stretch of Highway 1 (which does a full circle around the country). Want to up the excitement? Throw in some surfing in Avoca, a hot air balloon over the vineyards of the central coast, or catch a glimpse of a dolphin as you dive deep at Fly Point.
3. The Garden Route, South Africa
The name gives away some of the great joys of this drive on the N2 between South Africa’s Eastern and Western capes. But there’s a far tastier reason to make the trip along the Garden Route: oysters. The annual Knysa Oyster Festival, held every July, will have fans of the mollusk slurping away with delight. And, this being South Africa, on your way from the Southern Cape to the Eastern Cape border, there’s no reason not to stop for a midday taste at the region’s many wineries. Just keep the full bottles for the evening’s full stop.
2. San Juan Skyway, Colorado
Travel the Old West in more comfort than people did back in the day thanks to the San Juan Skyway, a 236-mile loop winding through southwest Colorado. Stop off in historic towns and former mining camps (yes, Telluride had fairly modest roots), and marvel over the cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park. When you reach the Million Dollar Highway, a 25-mile section of the San Juan, breathe deep and take it slow. It’s up, up, up, to two miles above sea level on this at times scaryish stretch of the San Juan Skyway. Things drop off (quite literally) on the side of the road.
1. Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland
Don’t set your schedule in stone before heading off for a trip along Ireland’s west coast, now known as the Wild Atlantic Way. There’s sure to be a sight or 12 that grab you so that you decide to stay an extra day here or there.
Start in County Donegal where the marine cliffs are sure to challenge those who are height averse. (Really.) Keep your heart racing with surfing in County Sligo or just with the first glance of Downpatrick Head in County Mayo, where time has carved beauty in stone.
Where to Stay:
- W Miami
- The Westin Dublin
- Residence Inn Durango
- SpringHill Suites Wisconsin Dells
- Marriott Stanton South Beach
- Courtyard Memphis Downtown
- Renaissance Nashville Hotel
- Delta Hotels Banff Royal Canadian Lodge
- Courtyard Marathon Florida Keys
- Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort & Spa
- Protea Hotel George Outeniqua
- Union Station Hotel Nashville, Autograph Collection
- The Saint Hotel Key West, Autograph Collection