10 Unforgettable Summer Road Trip Destinations

The road trip is a summertime staple.

Whether you choose to cruise down Route 66, take I-95 down to Key West or drive the Pacific Coast Highway,  there’s something undeniably thrilling about hitting the road and  exploring America’s  highways and byways.

But every road trip needs some diversions beyond playing endless rounds of the Alphabet or licence plate games. 

Sure, you could dedicate a whole road trip to stopping at tourist trap road side attractions, but why spend money to check out the world’s biggest ball of twine when you could be ziplining over a canyon?

Portland, Maine

Portland is the perfect road trip destination. Whether you're looking for a quick road trip along the east coast (it's a 5 hour drive from New York City and less than 2 hours from Boston) or planning a cross-country adventure (start at the Atlantic Ocean in Portland and head west!).

Stretch your legs and burn some calories on a biking tour of Portland's historic lighthouses and stunning shoreline, from Bug Light overlooking the Portland Breakwater to Spring Port Lighthouse and 2 Lights State Park. You'll have earned a lobster roll for the road, which beats a rest stop hot dog any day.

Rumney, New Hampshire

Whether you're headed west from Maine or just taking a short trip into New Hampshire's Lakes Region, why not get an adrenaline rush (from something other than go over the speed limit) with a short pit-stop for to scale a mountain?

Head up to Rumney, one of the country's premier destinations for rock climbing. Numerous crags dot the hillside of Rattlesnake Mountain above the sleepy New England town, offering exciting challenges for climbing novices and experts alike.

Niagara Falls, NY

Key West, FL

American road trips often span the edges of the country. The Atlantic and Pacific Oceans are popular beginnings and endings to a cross-country journey, but a trip to the continental US's most southern point holds its own sunny novelty.

If you head to Key West, Ernest Hemingway's favourite retreat, you might as well embrace the island's Art Deco spirit. Hop aboard a wooden 1920's era yacht for a sunset cocktail cruise, past Mallory Square and Sunset Pier. After several hours on I-95, a cocktail and some sea breeze can't be beat.

Nashville, Tennessee

An American road trip is incomplete without visiting some historic sites. If you're headed across the country, why not stop in Nashville, Tennessee?

Not only can you take in the great sites of Music City (Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium, the Hall of Fame) but you can check out the city's Civil War past as well. In late 1864, the Confederate and Union army fought the Battle of Franklin, a bloody struggle that effectively destroyed the Army of Tennessee.

There you can visit three Civil War era mansions: The Carter House, Lotz House and the Carnton Plantation that witnessed and withstood the battle.

Chicago, IL

Chicago has long been a hub of American travel--road trips to or through Chicago save the pain of having to spend time in Chicago O'Hare, a notoriously busy and overwhelming airport.

If you plan a trip with Chicago on the itinerary, there is any number of things to see and do. From the shores of Lake Michigan to the Miracle Mile, Chicago boasts culture and history in spades.

Why not soak it all up on a foodie bike tour of the city's best bites and brews? Ride 13 miles through Chicago's distinctive neighborhoods, taste Chicago delicacies like deep dish pizza, and wash it all down with the Lincoln Park-brewed Goose Island beer. Try to get there in time for the world-renowned Taste of Chicago, taking place July 10-14 -- you don't want to miss this!

Jackson, WY

If your cross country trip takes you the northern route, you're going to want to spend some quality time in the wide open spaces of Wyoming. The mountains in this state are particularly breathtaking!

Stop in Jackson for a variety of adventures. For example, you could whitewater raft down the class II-III rapids of the Snake River, where you'll encounter two major waves: the Big Kahuna and the Lunchcounter.

Or enjoy the river in a less-dangerous more-relaxing way (you have been driving for days, after all) with a dinner float. Leisurely float down fourteen miles of the Snake River, with views of the Teton and the Gros Ventre Mountain Ranges, to a Western-style cookout, complete with tri-tip, beans and peach cobbler.

Denver, CO

The Mile High City is a must-visit on many East-West road trips via I-70 or I-80. The city combines the best of the urban, with the fun-loving adventuresome spirit of the West.

Those unaccustomed to the altitude might find biking, running or hiking a lot more exhausting than what they're used to. Don't torture yourself, and instead enjoy Colorado's natural beauty without huffing and puffing.

Shake off the road by soaring at 50 miles per hour 200-feet in the air through Rocky Mountain pine forests on a zipline. Afterwards, unwind with a craft beer tour of Denver's hippest breweries.

Las Vegas, NV

Portland, OR

One way to plan a cross-country journey is to book-end your tour in different Portlands. Start in Maine and finish in Oregon! Portland, OR is considered by many to be the beer brewing capital of the US, which is good news for you, if you've just driven the 3,185 miles between these two hipster cities.

Enjoy a 5-hour micro-brewery tour through the city, with stops for sustainable and organic beers at Hop Works Urban Brewery or barrel aged and sour brews at Cascade. Since you may want to do more than drink after your multi-day journey, why not visit Mount St. Helen's or Mt. Hood?

Or if you've had enough of the (albeit stunning) American scenery, take in Portland's thriving food truck scene instead.

Now see what movies to watch before you hit the road.

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