The quintessential American Vacation is the road trip. Pack some bags, fill up your gas tank and get out on the open road. Just look at all the songs and movies dedicated to this idea:
Life is a Highway Tom Cochrane
Wide Open Spaces Dixie Chicks
Road to Nowhere Talking Heads
Route 66 Rolling Stones
Road Trippin Red Hot Chili Peppers
National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)
Easy Rider (1969)
Smoky and the Bandit (1977)
Thelma and Louise (1991)
Road Trip (2000)
Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
The Road trip conjures images of infinite stretches of highway surrounded by open spaces. It’s Route 66 surrounded by iconic images of an orange and brown Southwest landscape. It’s a convertible with the top down, hair flying in the wind, and music on the stereo. In America, we’ve all grown up with this classic imagery in movies and on television. It creates an itch to explore our vast nation. I know I have felt it. After my very first road trip as a ten year old riding from Central California to Oregon, I fell in love with the road trip. My mom was driving a neighbor to visit her sick mother, and all six of us piled into her Chevy Citation hatchback. My mom, my sister, and I along with our neighbor and her kids. We were allowed to eatfoods we were never allowed at home, like crackers with spray cheese or A & W hamburgers. I remember waking up in the middle of the night and looking at neon signs that marked gas stations in places that were strange and foreign to me. In between those stops for travelers, were stretches of mystery and darkness.
Road trips remain some of my favorite vacations, planned or spontaneous. While my kids remember Hawaii as a favorite vacation, I remember the road trip we took up the coast of California and through Oregon as one of our best trips. We stayed at KOA Kamgrounds and tiny inns along the way. We rode go karts in Mendocino, visited a lighthouse on an Oregon beach, and camped near Multnomah falls. We stopped at the state capital in Sacramento, and we explored Confusion hill in the redwoods. I even made my kids an activity book to work on along the way. It had coloring pages and words searches about the locations we were visiting.
SOME MUST DO ROAD TRIPS IN THE US
Pacific Coast Highway
Stunning views along the California Coast are worth this long way through the state. Be sure to visit California Missions along the way, built by Franciscan Junipero Serra in the 18th century, a few of the missions are on the coast along what was to El Camino Real. You can visit the Mission Santa Cruz or San Buenaventura on your drive along highway one.
From Chicago to LA, you can travel the path of those who traveled west during the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. This route was one of the original highways in the US and you can see those iconic Wigwam motels that look like tepees.
Blue Ridge Parkway
Travel through Virginia and North Carolina and be sure to stop at the Biltmore Estate, the American version of a castle. This drive through the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky mountains is a great way to see the fall foliage. Asheville is a great small town to find a B&B.
(Images: Morro Bay on the coast of California, Inside the Biltmore Estate-the largest home in America)