Traveling is an essential part of life, almost a right of passage if you will. It broadens your horizons and expands your knowledge of the world around you. Whether it’s backpacking through Europe after high school graduation or taking a luxurious cruise around the Bahamas when you are 65, it’s never too late to do some traveling.
There are many different way to travel. Train, plane, boat…but my favorite way to travel is by car. Road trips are an absolute must at some point in your life, several if you can manage it. But where you should you travel to? As we prepare to ring in the New Year, here are the top road trip destinations for 2017 according to Travel & Leisure magazine:
The first place you should road trip to is along the Pacific Coast Highway in California, also known as Route 1. It’s 100 miles that carves through the cliffs above the Pacific Ocean. Big Sur is an absolute must see as well as Monterey as its famed architecture, Hearst Castle. At just under 660 miles, it’s the longest state route in California. As you travel, you’ll pass the quaint little art colony of Carmel, which features cottages, restaurants, inns, shops and more! Check out National Geographic for more information on things to do and see!
Texas Hill Country Bluebonnet Tour
Speaking from experience, I’ve driven through Texas Hill country and it’s absolutely beautiful. Lush, green rolling hills…and the fields of bluebonnets are amazing. The bluebonnets were originally planted when Lady Bird Johnson led a campaign to beautify American cities, starting with her home state of Texas. If you’ve never seen the trail, it’s recommended that you start in Austin first and take U.S. 290 west to the lovely Wildflower Loop before taking it along U.S. 281 N to Burnet, the bluebonnet capital of Texas.
Route 66, California to Illinois
Anyone who is thinking about taking a road trip has to travel Route 66. It’s an iconic part of American history, and considered the Mother Road. It was one of the first original highways built in the U.S. and takes travelers from California to Illinois, covering 2,451 miles. You’ll see the Grand Canyon and drive past some of the old gold mines in the Black Mountains. Before you travel, take a look at the Historic 66 Guide for things to do and see along the way!
U.S. 1, Florida Keys
Let’s face it: Florida is beautiful any time of the year, especially this time of year when the majority of us are enduring the long, brutal winter and snowstorms. U.S. 1 through the Florida Keys is absolutely breathtaking, and definite must travel destination. It’s 120 miles long and runs from Key Largo to Key West. Even more breathtaking? It links the islands together and is a coastal waterway. You are actually driving over the water. It takes you over the 7 Mile Bridge, one of the longest bridges in the world.
Bayou Cruise, Louisiana
If you’re in the mood for some southern scenery, take a trip down Highway 31, which takes you along the Bayou Teche from New Iberia to Breaux Bridge. The Bayou Cruise is west of New Orleans along the Mississippi River. Along the way you’ll see Spanish moss dangling from the mighty oaks and cypress trees, but be careful and watch out for alligators!
Going-to-the-Sun Road, Montana
Ever wonder what a glacier looks like up close? Believe it or not, there are actual glaciers in the lower part of the United States and you don’t have to drive far to see them. Going-to-the-Sun Road takes you through 50 miles of Montana’s Glacier National Park. The road was created to show off the best views of the park while providing the least amount of impact on the park’s fragile environment. For more information about traveling through Montana’s Glacier National Park, check out the National Park Service’s website for more information!
Rockefeller Parkway, Wyoming
Named after John D. Rockefeller, travel along Highway 191 from Yellowstone National Park to Jackson Hole and look around in amazement at the Grand Tetons (mountains). The route takes you along the banks of Snake River, and you have to stop at Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. Instead of bar stools, you’ll take a seat upon an actual leather saddle.
Route 12, Utah
Traveling along State Route 12 between Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon, this 124 mile strip through Utah is a great destination for people of all ages. If you’re feeling adventurous, take a moment to try and conquer The Hogback, a narrow cliff hanging ridgeline road. Find yourself getting hungry along the way? Check out Hell’s Backbone Grill, famous for having its own organic farm.
Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia to North Carolina
The Blue Ridge Parkway is 469 miles stretching from Virginia to North Carolina, running atop the Appalachian Mountains through Shenandoah National Park and the Great Smoky Mountains. Feel your breath catch and your heart race as you travel along the Linn Cove Viaduct which takes you to the tops of the trees. For more travel information, check out Blue Ridge Parkway.
Hana Highway, Maui
If you ever travel to Hawaii, one of the destinations on your list should be Hana Highway in Maui. 51 miles from Kahului to Hana, it will take you roughly two and a half hours to travel the highway. By the end, you’ll be able to buy the t-shirt that says “I Survived the Road to Hana.” As you travel, you’ll go past steep sea cliffs with blooming mango trees, and you absolutely must stop to buy banana bread from those selling it alongside the road. And you’ll have to stop at Anthony’s Coffee Co. along the way, as well as visit the Waianapanapa State Park to see the sea caves and lava cliffs.