On average, 81% of American travelers go on vacations annually. During the past few years, road trip vacations surged as one of the country’s most popular summer and holiday pastimes. With more travelers going on the road, cross-country vacations are the ideal way to enjoy it to the fullest. From the historical towns of Cape Cod down to the beautiful beaches of Key West, road trips call out the adventurer in everyone. Fill up your tank, prepare your gear, and get comfortable with this bold traveler’s guide to the best destinations in the United States.
(Taking your car on a roadtrip overseas presents some very wet logistical problems, but if you do travel there, read this Project Bold Life story on visiting countries with restrictive laws!)
Cape Cod (Massachusetts)
Are historical sites, lighthouses, and scenic views of the Atlantic Ocean part of your US road trip destinations must-have list? In that case, Cape Cod is the ideal place for you to visit. Its sandy beach towns, seafood shacks, and bays offer numerous attractions and destinations for laid-back road trip travelers.
Cape Cod has some of the best destinations for history lovers. Provincetown has the Pilgrim Monument. Built from 1907 to 1910 in memory of the 1620 Mayflower Pilgrims, this 252-foot-high granite building gives you amazing views of the town and the ocean. In Chatham, travelers can visit the Chatham Marconi Maritime Center and enjoy interactive exhibits about the story of wireless communications from Marconi up until World War II. Although Yarmouth’s Whydah Pirate Museum and Judah Baker Windmill are unusual attractions, they’re interesting add-ons.
For active travelers, biking or walking through the Cape Cod Rail Trail is a must-have experience. It’s also a great area to stop by and enjoy the lush greenery overlooking the vast Atlantic. The Shining Sea Bikeway is also a wonderful option for more laid-back biking.
Brandywine Valley (Pennsylvania and Delaware)
Nestled amidst the southern part of Chester County, Pennsylvania, and northern New Castle, Delaware, Brandywine Valley is a road trip destination for travelers who love stately mansions and gardens, art, and museums. Along the rolling hills of Brandywine Valley are some routes for a leisurely road trip filled with scenic views of summer chateaus and lush greenery.
Road trip travelers can enjoy the historic, colonial views of Brandywine Valley all year round, but some destinations are at their best during spring and fall. Take a trip back to the hills where the Battle of Brandywine happened, the valley where the duPonts made their fortune and mansions, and three-Wyeth generations lived and painted the people and landscapes of Chadd’s Ford.
All these historical people and events will influence all the attractions you can enjoy in Brandywine. Start strong by taking a stroll in the Longwood Gardens. Aside from its breathtaking horticulture exhibits and majestic fountains, tourists can also enjoy seasonal displays like A Longwood Christmas and the summer-long, Festival of Fountains.
Among the several estates in the area is the Nemours Estate in Wilmington. Tourists can walk through the finest French-style gardens in North America and view classic artwork, sculptures, and vintage automobile collections.
At Delaware’s end of the Brandywine Valley is one attraction perfect for art lovers and historians. The Delaware Art Museum is well-known for its extensive collection of illustrations of Howard Pyle, British Pre-Raphaelite art, and John Sloan’s urban landscapes. They also have attention-grabbing pieces of outdoor sculpture and themed art exhibitions.
Blue Ridge Parkway (Virginia)
No road trip destination list is complete without mentioning one of the most scenic roads in the US. Travelers fond of mountains would love to drive and visit Blue Ridge Parkway. Moreover, they become a spectacle in October with fall foliage of vibrant reds and yellows from hickory and dogwood leaves, making them one of the best destinations in the United States during the autumn months. From gorgeous falls, and out-of-the-way parks, to awesome summits and trails, tourists can enjoy several outdoor activities amid the breathtaking mountain sceneries and crisp, cold air.
Hiking is one of the activities you can enjoy during your road trip along the Blue Ridge Mountains. While there are numerous trails available for seasoned hikers, newbies, and casual hikers can still hike to explore several falls within the area. One is the Fallingwater Cascades at milepost 83.1. This 1.4-mile loop trail is the perfect area for stretching your legs after a long drive and scenic, Instagram-worthy photography while enjoying the deep, cool forest.
Blue Ridge Parkway tourists can also delve deeper into Appalachian history by visiting the Johnson Farm Trail. This historic farm built in the 1880s is restored to its 1930s condition with a period farmhouse, barn, and garden open to the public. The attraction also offers an exhibit of antique farm equipment.
The Outer Banks (North Carolina)
An endless stretch of sun, sand, and surf is an apt description for the Outer Banks (OBX) in North Carolina. From old historical towns and state parks to shipwreck diving sites, travelers are not short on the destinations and activities they can do during their holiday trip in the barrier islands. Make the most of your OBX vacation by visiting these bold travel destinations.
There is no shortage of lighthouses in the Outer Banks, but among them are some of the country’s most historic and scenic buildings. The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is a tall tower standing at 208 feet and is currently the tallest lighthouse in North America. While not as tall as Cape Hatteras, The Bodie Island Lighthouse is still operational. The 156-foot-tall tower, most identifiable with its blue and white stripes, still navigates boats to shore since its building in 1872.
Off the coast of OBX is the resting place of many shipwrecks over the centuries. In the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, tourists can learn more about their stories and what happened to them. The museum has numerous artifacts from over 2,000 shipwrecks off the Outer Banks coast, including the original Fresnel lens from the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. They also have exhibits about piracy and ghost ships.
Traveling to the Best Destinations in the United States
Most, if not all, US states have special attractions and destinations for every traveler. Enjoying the top tourist places is great but finding hidden gems in these places adds to the overall experience. The best way of finding one is through road trips. These places and states are only some of the country’s best holiday places, but starting with this cross-country road trip list will satisfy and ignite your passion for touring more cities and states.
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