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(2019 - Spring/Summer Issue)


As the thermometer rises and days lengthen, thoughts turn to exploring—and nothing says exploration like a scenic road trip. With its wide variety of landscapes and cultures, America’s wealth of choices tempts every style of traveller. So, buckle up, find your favourite mapping device—classic paper or state-of-the-art digital—and come along for the ride.

The 210-kilometre Outer Banks is a road trip dream route, with windswept dunes and beaches, dotted with protected parklands, striped lighthouses and fishing villages. You can island hop along the upper North Carolina coastline and stop to indulge in the rich history of pirates and the age of powered flight, dive into platters of fresh seafood, birdwatch, windsurf or kiteboard and walk the long stretches of beach. outerbanks.org

Named one of the best U.S. Road Trips by National Geographic, the 182-kilometre Overseas Highway (U.S. Highway 1) is the nation’s longest dead-end road. Skipping along the scenic ocean islands of the Florida Keys, it crosses 42 bridges and miles of water. Along the way you’ll find beaches, parks, dive sites, towns and attractions that define the area’s trademark laid-back lifestyle. At the southern tip—Mile Marker 0—sits quirky Key West, a town that fuelled artistic inspiration for author Ernest Hemingway and musician Jimmy Buffett. fla-keys.com

The 145-kilometre drive along the Big Sur coastline of California’s coastal Highway No. 1 is the stuff road trip dreams are made of—a stretch of blacktop that winds past wild beaches and surf, precipitous cliffs, picturesque towns like tony Carmel-by-the-Sea and magnificent stands of giant coastal redwoods, some of the oldest trees on the planet. The section through Big Sur is a National Scenic Byway with dramatic views around every bend. Protected lands like Point Lobos State Natural Reserve and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park showcase the magnificence of nature along the route. bigsurcalifornia.org

The 715-kilometre Natchez Trace Parkway is part of the National Park System and a quiet, scenic drive linking Natchez, Mississippi, and Nashville, Tennessee. In days gone by, boatmen from the Ohio Valley floated goods downstream on the Mississippi River, unloaded their cargo at the southern ports and then returned north on foot or on horseback along the Old Natchez Trace. Today, it is a pastoral recreational trip through three states, with no transport trucks and plenty of spots to picnic, hike and camp. nps.gov/natr

The Blue Ridge Parkway, often called “America’s Favorite Drive,” spans the southern and central Appalachians, connecting Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Along the picturesque 755-kilometre route are dozens of scenic overlooks, as well as ways to explore the rich traditions and culture of Cherokee life and Southern Appalachian crafts and music. blueridgeparkway.org

Nicknamed the “Mother Road,” travellers have been driving Historic Route 66—from Chicago to LA—since the Great Depression, in search of a better life in the west. Passing through eight states, there are hundreds of roadside attractions dotting the landscape, ranging from retro diners and motels to classic roadhouses like The Museum Club in Flagstaff and the surreal Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. nps.gov/nr/travel/route66

Plan carefully and bring supplies for a road trip through Death Valley National Park, the nation’s lowest, hottest and driest place, filled with temperature extremes. Death Valley straddles the state line between California and Nevada and a one-day road trip crosses mountain-size sand dunes, below-sea-level salt flats and colourful sandstone canyons. Don’t miss Badwater Basin, the continent’s lowest spot, at 86 metres below sea level. visitcalifornia.com and travelnevada.com

Discover more information on travel to the USA at visittheusa.ca.

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