Where are you going for your next fun road trip? The answer to that question depends on where you’re starting from. There are two facts that remain true in every corner of the country: 1) wherever you are, there are unique experiences and travel opportunities nearby; and 2) a rental car is a great way to experience the journey.
If you’re a city dweller without wheels of your own, a rental car can help you see more of the country. Not wanting to add mileage to your own car is another great reason to grab a rental. And if scenic vistas in a far away place appeal more to you than the same tired roads in your own neck-of-the-woods, you can simply hop on a plane and jet to your new starting point. In all these cases, renting can get you where you want to go.
Find Your Next Idea
If you’re searching for inspiration, you never have to look far. The following are five starting points — each one offering its own selection of thrills and discoveries. These journeys and the regions they encompass represent just a small fraction of the road tripping options in North America. You can extrapolate and expand on these to your heart’s content; the possibilities are nigh-endless.
Northeast: Massachusetts and Maine Coastline
Seeing the Northeast in the summer is a thrilling experience, whether you have a full week or just a couple of days to spend. You’ll find beautiful coastlines and small-town charm all the way from Maine to southern Massachusetts. Be sure to stop in Boston to get your fill of American History and phenomenal seafood. If sun and sandy beaches are more your scene, flock with the summer crowds down to Cape Cod peninsula. Here you will find dozens of beaches — from Sagamore and Bourne all the way to Provincetown. You can even hop on a ferry to Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket for a special kind of getaway. And if you like the beach but detest the crowds – just take your trip in the spring or fall instead of the height of summer.
Southeast: National Parks
Why limit yourself to one National Park? When driving through the southeastern states, you have your choice of amazing natural sights to see. Driving south along the Blue Ridge Parkway, from Virginia into North Carolina, gives you a window into Appalachia. If you drive this way in the fall, you’ll see the leaves turning magnificent shades of yellow, red and orange, and there are plenty of places to stop and view the local fauna any time of year.
Once you’re in North Carolina, head west to the Tennessee Border until you find Great Smoky Mountains National Park – the most visited national park in the U.S. Founded in 1934, this protected area is a fantastic place for camping, day hiking, or other outdoor activities.
Northwest: Portland to Seattle
Two cities share the spotlight in the Pacific Northwest: Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington. Respectively dubbed the City of Roses and the Emerald City, these Northwestern gems are so close that you could visit both in the same day – so why not include them both in your road trip? Portland is a city with a relaxed small-town atmosphere, beloved museums and top-quality restaurants in abundance. Seattle contains landmarks such as the mighty Space Needle and the bustling Pike Place Market, as well as world-renowned coffee roasters.
If you want to incorporate more natural beauty in your Northwestern road trip, both Oregon and Washington are abound with natural landscapes . Southeast of Portland, you’ll find the Mt. Hood National Forest, and south of Seattle you will find Mount Rainier. Head east from Seattle to find Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest; head west to find Olympic National Park.
Southwest: Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon
When you’re in the Southwestern U.S., there are likely road trips in every direction. California alone contains beloved stops up and down its coast, from Palm Springs to Big Sur and north to the Bay Area. However, when you have a weekend getaway in mind, it’s hard to beat the one-two punch of Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. The former offers glittering sights and all-night fun, while the latter promises stunning views and wide-open spaces.
Seeing the two sides of Nevada is a wonderful way to spend a few days, a week or however long you care to set aside. Hikes and biking among the canyons is a perfect counterbalance to the dining, shows and all-around excitement of Vegas. With a rental car, you’ll be able to pass between these different vistas.
Heartland: Route 66, via Chicago
When you think of the great American road trip, one road springs immediately to mind: Route 66. This highway starts its westbound path from Chicago, which means you can combine a visit to the Windy City with a relaxed voyage down the historic route. There are roadside attractions all along Route 66, so even if you spend only a few hours on the highway, you’ll walk away with photo opportunities and memories to last a lifetime. And if you want to keep going, there’s nothing to stop you till you reach the Pacific.
Before you set off on Route 66, why not spend some time exploring Chicago? Stroll by the banks of Lake Michigan, discover the world-famous Field Museum, or take in a Cubs or White Sox game. The options are nearly endless in this bustling city, so set aside a few days.
Grab Your Rental Car and Go
These trips are just the beginning when it comes to exploring the country by car. Family getaways to local theme or water parks are always a winner in summertime. If you’d rather have an enriching and educational time, why not take a day trip to Washington, DC, and see the world-class free museums? When you have a rental car ready to go, your options are wide open.
If you have enough time and the will to explore, the U.S. is one big road trip waiting to happen. It doesn’t matter where you start or end your journey, just what you encounter on the way.