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That Road Trip Life: 8 Ideal Adventures

open highway leading into mountains in the distance

"Get your motor runnin'…head out on the highway…"

Who hasn't heard those lyrics and felt the call of the great American interstate system? Road trips are a way of life in these parts and it's easy to see why. The number, diversity, and accessibility of on-the-road options in the U.S. are astounding, and truly offers ‘something for everyone.'

So whether you're looking to plan a motorcycle trip, an RV trip or a classic "pack the car and hit the road" trip, look no further. With locations across the country, we at CubeSmart know a thing or two about this great land – and how to get around it. Keep reading for our best road trip travel advice and recommended routes, and also check out our recent piece on the best campgrounds for socially distant travel.

Getting Your Kicks on Route 66

VW van driving amidst red rock formations

No road trip list would be complete without the classic, 2,200-mile long "Main Street of America" Route 66 experience. Hit the highway anywhere from Chicago to California, though you'll probably get the most authentic ‘Route 66 experience' – and the best kitschy souvenirs – in the stretch from St. Louis, Missouri to Amarillo, Texas. 

Route 66 is well-loved by just about everybody, but RV travelers have a special spot in their hearts for it. That's because there are plenty of noteworthy sites with full hookups along the way, including the Oasis RV Resort in Amarillo, the Route 66 RV Resort in Albuquerque, and the Grand Canyon Railway RV Park in Williams, Arizona. If you're planning an RV trip down this legendary road, we highly recommend calling ahead to make sure the sites are open and welcoming visitors before arriving. You can also download The Dyrt app for information about the individual parks and their operations during COVID-19.

Fall Foliage on Route 7

fall forest road yellow trees

A favorite drive of nature lovers from around the country, Route 7 weaves through Western Connecticut and Massachusetts and then up central Vermont. Visitors ride the road to check out the beauty of fall foliage and enjoy a cider doughnut or two on the way. While the trip is probably better suited to solo travelers and couples (unless your kids are leaf-peepin' antique store aficionados), its long stretches of beautiful vistas and towering Maple trees will make everyone's jaws drop.

The two weeks in the beginning of October are considered the best time by New Englanders in the know, so be sure to book any accommodations early. Camping can get more than a bit chilly in the Northeast, but cozy and historic inns and B&Bs dot the countryside and can offer a wonderful respite after a day behind the wheel.

The Appropriately Named Highway 1

Route 1 bridge along California coast
Image by Tom White from Pixabay

The 650-mile-long Highway 1 in California is road trip paradise – especially for those who love motorcycle travel. Start in sunny Orange County and then head north through the spectacular ocean vistas, rolling vineyards, and incredible mountains and forests of the Golden State. There is plenty of ways to experience Highway 1, but the best include ample time for beach walks, trail hikes, and jaunts to Santa Barbara, Carmel, Monterey, and Mendocino.

One of the most loved aspects of this iconic route is that it's truly got something for everyone. From honeymooners to families on the lookout for adventure, no one can resist the natural beauty and luxurious surroundings. Even city-dwellers, who might find themselves slightly uncomfortable in nature, can get their urban fill by stopping by San Francisco en route.

History and Heritage Along the Mississippi River

Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge
Image by Wayne Hsieh via flickr

If you're one of the thousands of American college students looking for ways to fill the gap during your gap year, traveling the 2000-mile Great River Road along the Mississippi River is certainly one place to start. Laced with monuments, museums, and ancient burial mounds, the southern Natchez Trace Parkway part of the Great River Road is an eye-opening, hands-on historical journey through United States history – and many of the people who played a part in it.

Natchez Trace Parkway is a slow-going route with a speed limit of 50 miles per hour, so it's perfect for anyone looking to take a load off and relax into the Southern way of life. It's also renowned for its hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, and camping spots so it would be perfect for a family getaway in the fall or spring. And while there are no food, gas, or hotels along the Parkway, don't worry: facilities can easily be found in the communities it passes through.

The Short and Sweet Turquoise Trail

turquoise trail train in black and white
Image by Amber Avalona from Pixabay

While U.S. road trips can last for weeks or even months, there are certainly still many fabulous options for those with less time to devote to the journey. New Mexico's Turquoise Trail Scenic Byway is just one of these ‘short and sweet' adventures. Clocking in at only 56 miles, the drive down State Road 14 from Albuquerque to Taos will take you through jaw-dropping Sangre de Cristo mountainscapes, ghost towns, and even the Zuni Reservation and Taos Pueblo.

Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, both the Zuni Reservation and Taos Pueblo are closed due to COVID-19. The well-loved stopover Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa has also temporarily closed due to fire, so it might be best to delay your trip until the remarkable sites of the Trail have reopened in all their glory.

Celebrating the Women's Suffrage Movement

Susan B Anthony and Frederick Douglas Statue
Image by Hmlarson / CC BY-SA

A road trip that would be great for kids, parents and seniors alike follows the route of the national woman's suffrage movement. Given that 2020 is the 100-year anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment granting women the right to vote, the time couldn't be better for a celebratory and historical journey starting in the Finger Lakes region of New York and culminating in Washington, D.C.

Stops along the way could include the home of Susan B. Anthony at 17 Madison Street in Rochester, New York, Union Square Park in New York City (the location of the first suffrage march in the U.S.), and Independence Hall in Philadelphia, where suffragists presented a Declaration of Rights for Women during the 1876 centennial celebration.

Summertime in the Great North

Entering Canada Sign
Image by Jimmy Emerson via Flikr

Summertime road trips can make for sweaty, cranky, and tired passengers in the lower 48. So if you're planning a journey to take place during the hotter months, set your compass to North and check out the Alaska-Canadian Highway (or ALCAN). The nearly 1,400-mile route takes about five days to complete, bringing you from Mile 0 in Dawson Creek, BC through the Yukon to Delta Junction, Alaska – the official end of the highway. Along the way, you'll likely see plenty of remarkable views and wildlife – including moose, bear, and maybe even the Northern Lights.

Motorcyclists may want to swap their rides for SUVs or RVs this go-round, as the ALCAN is a camper's dream. In fact, there are nearly two dozen government-run parks along the way with various degrees of amenities. Check out RVshare to reserve a rental or bite the bullet and purchase your very own RV! Many CubeSmart locations across the country have easy and convenient RV parking spots, so don't let the fear of storing it get in your way. We're here to help!

National Park-a-palooza

Zion National Park Sunset
Image by David Mark from Pixabay

The National Parks are one of the greatest treasures of the United States. If you are planning a road trip with the goal to experience as many of these natural wonders as possible, you'll likely end up in the Southwest, where Utah alone includes four must-see destinations (Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, and Arches National Parks). Cross from Utah into Arizona to end your trip at the Grand Canyon, which provides seasonal camping and lodging options on both the North and South Rims.

Another National Park road trip to consider is through the Northern Rockies, and the Grand Teton, Yellowstone, and Glacier National Parks. Tracing a 450-mile route through them is guaranteed to provide gasps of astonishment from even the most jaded teens in the backseat. Be sure to take a slight detour to check out the 50-mile Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier, which crosses the Continental Divide. The National Parks Service even has a free, downloadable audio guide to play during the drive.

If you are planning to hit the National Parks or any of the other destinations on our list, please check ahead! RV travel across America has boomed in the time of COVID-19, while many parks and other tourist attractions are struggling with just keeping normal operations afloat. Some areas and sights are restricting the number of visitors, while others have closed down completely for the time being. While there's something to be said for spontaneous travel, now is probably not the best time to test out its limits. Our best advice: plan well, call ahead, and be flexible. 

If you're not quite certain which type of road trip sounds best at the moment, don't worry. You've truly got an unbelievable array of choices to pick from, and nearly all of them will deliver spectacularly. Take into consideration what time of year you're heading out, what closures are in place along the way, and what your road trip companions might be most interested in when plotting out the route, and you'll surely find a vacation for the ages. Don't forget to send us a postcard!

About the author

Bree Neely

Bree Neely is a communications expert and former Brooklynite based out of Denver, Colorado. She is co-founder of Direct Object, a marketing firm serving national B2B and B2C clients. When not tapping away at her keyboard, she keeps busy traveling, skiing and overseeing a variety of children and animals.

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