Summertime, summertime, sum, sum, summertime.
We all recall those glorious days of yesteryear with the station wagon packed to the gills, miles and miles of billboard bingo, and endless asking Are we there yet?
Whether we are thinking back to when we were the kids, or when we had the kids, those memories are an indelible part of our American summer traditions.
Guess what? Those intrepid explorations don’t have to end just because the offspring have moved out.
The road trip can be accomplished in a two seater just as well as a minivan! Or, for the truly daring, we could strap the grandkids in their car seats and set out for some high adventure.
Here are our favorite ways to see USA in your Chevrolet:
Driving through the Redwood Forest in California… and the Pacific Coast Highway
The road feels like a trip through time as it connects all of the state and national parks that have groves of the humongous trees.
Mature coastal redwoods average over five hundred years old, and a few are documented to have lived over two thousand years.
They are among the longest-living organisms on earth and the forests have a dreamlike prehistoric feel.
Inside Humboldt Redwoods State Park the road divides, with the old highway, known as The Avenue of The Giants, meandering into the woods.
This is a road like no other, where bright sunny days turn to twilight as the trees envelope the road. Once a stagecoach road to Oregon, later a US highway, now a national treasure, the narrow blacktop winds through the trees where the trunks sometime stand just inches from the pavement.
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Big Sur – Check out our full drive down Big Sur – spectacular!
Alaska’s Seward Highway is unbelievably beautiful – and the wildlife…
It is no wonder that the 127 miles of blacktop of the the Seward Highway from Anchorage to Resurrection Bay along the incredibly picturesque Kenai Peninsula has been named a National Scenic Byway and All-American Road.
Beginning along the Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet, where some of the largest tides in the world provide ever changing vistas of ocean and mud flats, and continuing through mountains, glaciers, rivers, that define the Last Frontier, the Seward Highway captures Alaska in a nutshell.
This is a scenic wonderland where the deer and the antelope play, or we should say the moose and the mountain goats… and the bears, and eagles, and rams, and seahawks, and dolphins, and… wait, those are all football teams, but they do actually live there too.
There’s nothing more American than Route 66!
It’s a journey where simply standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona can be immortalized.
Or, if you love the goofy stuff as much as we’d do, the unnatural attractions of Route 66 have a lot to offer.
History and music fans dream trip – the Mississippi Blues Trail!
The blues had a baby and they named it Rock & Roll.
That kid had cousins in The Magnolia State, with names like Country, Pop, Rap, R&B and Soul.
The delta region of Mississippi was the cradle for all of those babies.
Why not take a little trip down the Mississippi Blues Trail, to see what rocked that cradle?
The “Trail” is not an actual path or route, but a collection of about 120 markers, like those historical marker signs we see in most every state, that highlight significant places and people in the history of the Blues.
While discovering the roots of American music down home food is easy to find at almost any crossroads too, no deals with the devil required.
The Great River Road in Illinois is a blast!
The Great River Road National Scenic Byway follows the banks of the Mississippi River from northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico.
The scenic route stretches over 3,000 miles across ten states, but we chose to focus on the section through Illinois where we found the home of John Deere tractors, Ulysses S. Grant, Illinois’ Biggest Biker Bar (you’ll never believe what it’s called!), the oldest vineyard in the Land of Lincoln, and the self proclaimed “Nutroll Nazi” of Quincy.
Traveling the route of the voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery was a very emotional experience for us
While Birmingham was not part of this particular protest, it makes a perfect starting point.
The Civil Rights Institute, the 16th Street Baptist Church, and Kelly Ingram Park’s Freedom Walk are all on different sides of the intersection of 6th Avenue and 16th Street.
Moving on to Montgomery, we visited The Rosa Parks Library and Museum, The Southern Poverty Law Center, and The Civil Rights Memorial Center before retracing the path along Highway 80 of the March from Selma to Montgomery for voting rights.
When Dr. King led the marchers in 1965 it took four days to travel the fifty miles, the road trip can be covered in a about an hour, but the impact could last a lifetime.
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in the Summertime? Bliss…
Known us the U. P., the Upper Peninsula of the Wolverine State is truly one of a kind.
The individualist inhabitants are known as Yoopers and are scattered from the Porcupine Mountains near the Wisconsin border to the magnificent Mackinac (pronounced Mack-in-naw) Bridge that crosses over the straits between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.
Follow the coast of Lake Superior to Pictured Rocks National Shoreline, then on to Tahquamenon Falls, Whitefish Bay and the rushing rapids of Sault Ste. Marie.
Make sure to stop off for a pasty – the meat, potato, and rutabaga turnovers that are a staple of the Yooper diet.
Head south from there and leave the car behind for a visit to quaint and quirky Mackinac Island, where folks rely on horse drawn carriages and bicycles to get from point A to point B, since motorized vehicles have been banned since 1898.
Highway 1 through the Florida Keys – stunning!
One of the greatest drives in America has to be the trip down U.S. Highway 1 to Key West.
Originally built as The Overseas Railroad, a hurricane in 1935 trashed it so badly that it was sold to the state and refurbished as a highway.
The run can be done in a few hours, but we strongly suggest making the trip on island time and let the hours become days.
Then, after an encounter with Florida’s version of Bigfoot or some gravity defying stonework, mosey on down through Key Largo, Marathon, across the Seven Mile Bridge, and finally into Key West, the southernmost point of the fifty states and unofficial capital of the Conch Republic.
Summertime, summertime, sum, sum, summertime.
Here’s to a great one!
David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com
YOUR TURN: Have we inspired you to take a road trip? Where do you want to go next? Did we miss any you’d like to share?
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