Road trips remain one of the easiest ways to explore new places, and are especially popular for family trips. These fun journeys allow you to go at your own pace and enjoy as many (or as few) sites as you desire. Go “old school” and grab a map, or enter your destination into your GPS, and get ready to hit the road.
Here are some of our favorite road trips to take across Canada and the Unites States.
This two-lane road, which first opened in 1932, weaves through 180 miles of Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Highlands National Park and across the magnificent Gulf of Saint Lawrence coastline – rewarding travelers with stunning valley and coastal vistas along the way.
The road passes through communities with both Scottish and French influences, where there is much culture to discover. Visit Black Brook Beach near Ingonish for a refreshing jump in the waves, a waterfall and a short hiking trail, or take a Highlands helicopter tour of the entire area for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Try your hand at fishing or spend some time learning about the history of the land’s longtime shipbuilding and transatlantic commerce.
Don’t forget to schedule a stop at Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site in Baddeck and make sure to book a behind-the-scenes tour to see and experience even more of Bell’s inventions. If time permits, take a hike in Meat Cove to enjoy the amazing views and book a whale watching cruise in Pleasant Bay.
This is the route for those who want to venture off the beaten path on their next road trip. The Dempster Highway, a 458-mile-long gravel road that connects Canada’s Southern Yukon Territory with Inuvik, the Mackenzie Delta and communities in the Northwest Territories, passes through some of the world’s most impressive terrain. The highway – Canada’s only all-season public road crossing the Arctic Circle – is an all-weather gravel road with two ferry crossings.
Start near Dawson City and travel north through the Northwest Territories to Inuvik. Go off track and explore the Klondike Gold Rush museum located in downtown Dawson and – in the evening, before heading off into the wilderness – kick your feet up at Diamond Tooth Gerties.
Experience dramatic tundra landscapes, mountain ranges, and plentiful wildlife all along the journey to the Arctic Circle. The area is home to caribou, moose, mountain sheep, grizzly bears, marmots and collared pica; along with golden eagles, hawks, falcons, owls and many other birds.
The best time for reliable driving weather is June through September, when the days are long and on the warmer side. As facilities are few and far between on this stretch of highway, make sure to carry a full-sized spare tire (or two), along with extra water and gas.
Want to see a wide swath of Canada’s beautiful landscape in one road trip? Hop on the Trans-Canada Highway. The famed roadway spans 4,860 miles (7821 kilometres) from Victoria on Vancouver Island to St. John’s, Newfoundland, and stretches across all 10 of the country’s provinces (and six-time zones), a trip that could easily take three weeks.
For a more manageable trip, we recommend starting your journey in Victoria, British Columbia, and then making your way east to Calgary. In Victoria, you can enjoy the history of Craigdarroch Castle, explore Butchart Gardens’ vivid floral displays, savor the pristine beaches and perhaps catch sight of a whale.
Next, head to Salmon Arm, an area ideal for fishing and kayaking that also boasts a host of wineries and restaurants along with arboreal forests and the breathtaking Margaret Falls. And no trip is complete without a visit to Glacier National Park. Check out Illecillewaet Glacier as well as Rogers Pass and the Rogers Pass National Historic Site.
Finally, make your way to Calgary, where you can visit sites such as Heritage Park, a recreation of a typical village from the pioneering period or Fort Calgary, the first outpost of the Northwest Mounted Police. If time allows, take a day trip from Calgary to Banff and famed Lake Louise, known for its dazzling turquoise waters framed by stunning snowcapped mountains.
Traveling down from the mainland of Florida, it’s easy to understand why the southernmost leg of the U.S. highway system is often referred to as the “Overseas Highway.” This 113-mile-long highway stretches over the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean, connecting all of the Florida Keys to the mainland.
Cruise down the highway on your all-American adventure, as you pass small green mile markers and experience inviting views of blue green crystalline water. Start your journey in Key Largo, the northernmost mile marker, which is known for the John Pennekamp Coral Reef Park, which spans more than 2,900 square miles on both sides of the island chain.
Continue the journey with breathtaking views of the wilder terrestrial and marine life of the Lower Keys, where the bulk of the residents have four legs, fins, or feathers. This area, which is home to two national wildlife refuges and is recognized as the least “people-populated” region of the Keys, is ideal for a relaxing but adventure-filled day.
Cap off your journey with a visit to legendary Key West. Visit the home of literary icon Ernest Hemingway, which was built in the 1930s – don’t forget to look for the polydactyl (six-toed) cats. And no visit would be complete without enjoying the nightly Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square Dock, where arts and crafts exhibitors, street performers, food carts, and thousands of tourists from around the world gather to watch the sun drop into the Gulf of Mexico.
Get your kicks on Route 66, and kick up the dust with a road trip from Illinois to California via Route 66. No road trip bucket list would be complete without this massive cross-country American trek. This renowned route runs diagonally across the center of the United States, passing through eight states that offer some of the country’s most iconic roadside landscapes.
Route 66 starts in downtown Chicago and ends at the Santa Monica pier in Southern California. Begin your journey in Lake Michigan and travel 2,500 miles along one of the country’s first highways, as you follow in the footsteps of prior generations.
Along the way, stop and immerse yourself in a plethora of historic landmarks and quirky vistas. There’s America’s oldest church, St Joseph’s, located in New Mexico, the ghost town of Oatman in Arizona, and a fascinating art car installation at Cadillac Ranch near Amarillo, Texas. You can also check out the world’s largest rocking chair in Fanning, Missouri along with a slew of retro diners to keep you and other travelers well-nourished along the way.
Complete your journey at the Santa Monica Pier, where you can take a ride on the 1922 carousel, roller coaster and Ferris wheel, and try your skills at the arcade before grabbing something sweet from the soda fountain.
Pacific Coast Highway
The Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) runs along the California coast, connecting San Francisco to San Diego and spanning more than 600 miles of California’s rugged coastline.
Buckle up for a leisurely journey filled with no shortage of picturesque spots. Pull off at scenic overlooks to take in the mountains, towering trees, expansive white sand beaches, and boundless sky. The route also offers a wonderful opportunity to experience all of the character California has to offer, including pioneer outposts, farm fresh foods, surfing villages and local wines.
Begin at the Golden Gate Bridge and weave your way through the mountains, with their magnificent sheer drop-offs and stunning vistas. Visit the many tiny towns peppered along the way for a touch of local cuisine or a refreshing libation. Explore Big Sur’s rocky mountains, which are covered in magnificent redwood forests and lead to a stunning coastline.
Continue south to Cambria, a quaint seaside community with rocky shorelines and abundant sea life where you can visit the Piedras Blancas Friends of the Elephant Seal rookery. It’s also worthwhile to spend a day on the water in Morro Bay, where you may see blue herons, monarch butterflies, hummingbirds and sea otters.
End your trip in sunny San Diego, home to the USS Midway, an aircraft-carrier-turned-museum, and the historic Coronado Hotel.
Want a more offbeat road trip and the chance for a “close encounter of the third kind?” Travel into the open expanses of western Nevada on the Extraterrestrial Highway. The two-and-half-hour drive connects the Nevada high desert from the Alamo and Crystal Springs area to Tonopah.
Be sure to stay alert on what may seem like a regular desert drive, but has a storied history of alien encounters and hidden secrets. Detour off the path and explore Extraterrestrial Highway sights such as the Black Mailbox and Little A’Le’Inn.
Looking for aliens can be tempting, but it’s best to stay away from Area 51 located at Nellis Air Force Base’s Nevada Test and Training Range, as security doesn’t take kindly to unannounced visitors. Stay on course and enjoy the adrenaline rush that comes with driving on this other worldly highway.
Road trips can be a great way to spend times with loved ones and enjoy the great outdoors. These iconic journeys will evoke old memories and are sure to help you create new ones.
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