Now that some states are relaxing their COVID restrictions and summer in full swing, many people are starting to think about travel. With air travel still uncertain, the classic road trip is being revived as a safe, socially distant way to get out this summer. In that spirit, we’ve put together a list of some of the best road trips in the US to inspire you.
Note: Many small rural communities have minimal health care and resources. Please try to limit your interactions with these communities. If you do need to stop, remember to practice social distancing and wear a mask.
The Pacific Coast Highway
Spanning from Washington to San Diego, this 1,675 mile-long highway has some of the best scenery in the nation — but we’re particularly fond of the 655 miles from San Francisco to San Diego. Start your trip by staying at any one of these Sonders in San Francisco. While you’re there, be sure to take advantage of the city’s incredible food scene. It’s especially well known for its Asian cuisine.
Once you’ve eaten your fill and seen the sights, head south through Monterey to the world-famous Big Sur. Not to be missed is McWay Falls, one of two waterfalls that empty directly into the Pacific Ocean. Big Sur has plenty of hikes and other attractions and it’s all safely outside. After Big Sur, you’ll meander through Los Angeles, we recommend exploring Griffith Park or the Venice canals. Once you arrive in San Diego, take some well-deserved beach time or check out one of these family-friendly activities. And if you need a place to stay in SD, we’ve got you covered.
Great River Road
This trip starts in Minnesota and ends in Louisiana and follows the length of the Mississippi River. Spanning 3,000 miles through the heart of America, this route passes through 10 states. You’ll get a chance to explore St. Louis, Memphis, and New Orleans. There are also more than 70 river interpretive centers along the route and plenty of camping. Anglers and kayakers shouldn’t miss our favorite campground, the Mississippi River State Park in Arkansas.
Route 66 is the quintessential American road trip. Starting in Chicago, and traversing eight states before finally ending in California at the Santa Monica pier, it’s the perfect summer getaway.
After you leave Chicago, stop in Oklahoma to see the Blue Whale of Catoosa. Giant characters like these used to dot the entire route. For art of a different sort, visit the Cadillac Ranch in Texas. In the 70s, artists buried 10 Cadillacs nose-first. Since then, the installation has taken on a life of its own, with tourists adding their own contributions with spray paint.
Once you get to Arizona don’t miss the Petrified Forest National Park and nearby Painted Desert. The petrified logs are obviously the main draw, but there is also plenty of stunning geology, ancient petroglyphs, and wildlife viewing. Those seeking a challenge might venture into the backcountry or try some long exposure night photography.
For the perfect social distancing activity, try the Route 66 Drive-In Theatre in Missouri. Be sure to call ahead and make sure they’re open! There are a lot more things to see on this trip, keep an open mind, and don’t be afraid to take detours — wherever you end up on Route 66 you can’t go wrong. If you need a place to stay to start your trip off right, we’ve got plenty of places in Chicago.