Why you should care
Because quirk and kitsch and greasy food mean summer.
Whether you’re a kid or just a kid at heart, who doesn’t love a road trip? The excitement of climbing into the car, ready for adventure, wondering what lies ahead at the end of the road. It could be a glittering beach, a glimpse into the lives of the rich and famous, a kitschy tour attraction past its prime but still delightful. Who knows, it might even be a glorious encounter with nature, perhaps with a Bigfoot sighting.
Here are some ideas for your next road-tripping adventure. Leave your own suggestions in the comments!
People come from all over the world to visit the shores of Mendocino County, California. But along with taking in the natural beauty, there’s another stop to make: Glass Beach. The garbage on this former dump has been pounded by relentless waves over the decades, and the broken bottles and glass shards have been worn down into little shining glass gems. Now, beautiful colored pebbles intermingle with sand — as well as other eccentric bits of human lives gone by.
Looking for the most blissful boredom you’ll ever experience? Get yourself to Bandon, Oregon, the ethereal coastal city known for a big rock (Etched Rock). It’s also known for its Scottish-inspired golf course. But instead of trying to play the notoriously difficult links, take a walk down the vast fairway, with the sprawling ocean along one side, old-growth firs on the other and the late-afternoon sun above. Or stroll for miles along unswimmable beaches, stand still at sunset and watch the reflection in the water change from shades of orange to shades of purple.
Lucy is 65 feet tall and 60 feet long, and she weighs in at around 90 tons. Her bones are made of steel and her skin of painted tin — she sounds hollow to the knock. And for $8, you can climb inside her belly and visit the museum that lies within. Built in 1881, she’s older than the Statue of Liberty — and America’s oldest surviving roadside attraction. Worth the drive to Margate, just outside Atlantic City? We think so!
Sometimes escapism smells like horse shit; sometimes fudge. When you get off the ferry at Mackinac Island (pronounced MACK-ih-naw), your nose will treat you to a rather odd mixture of the two. But don’t let that stop you. You’ll find plenty of other things to distract you on this majestic island near Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Like enjoying a moonlit carriage ride, taking an eight-mile pedal around the island’s perimeter or just ambling on foot between the fudge shops lining Main Street.
When you drive off the freeway and enter Humboldt Redwoods State Park, you’ll be gobsmacked by the view. Here you’ll find giant redwood trees — the biggest in the world — towering above. We’re talking 250 feet high. This is the Avenue of the Giants: a 30-plus-mile scenic highway splitting the Northern California redwood forest, with eight stops along the park road, many with fishing and swimming holes. You can also camp, hike and look for Bigfoot, who is rumored to have made appearances in the area.
Want to see some really great art? Forget New York City and head … upstate. Yes, Upstate New York might be far from the hip urban sprawl of the megacity beneath it, but there’s a lot to see there. Ithaca simply oozes artiness, and Hudson is packed with galleries (and antique shops, of course). Or take in the bizarre portrait exhibition at Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery, among other offerings. No wonder the National Center for Arts Research recently named four upstate cities to its annual arts vibrancy index.
Palm Beach. Already a playground for the rich and famous, it is home to one object of everyone’s fascination, of course: Mar-a-Lago, dubbed the Winter White House. If you want to take a little presidential tour, start the day by visiting the gardens that are fit for a (first) lady in nearby Delray Beach, check out the former Kennedy Winter White House on North Ocean Boulevard and visit JFK’s Cold War bunker on Peanut Island. Then have a glimpse of the pleasures — and purple-flowered hedges — your tax dollars can bring at Mar-a-Lago. Still, it’s a really lovely drive — like when your working-class parents used to take you to gawk at the rich-person neighborhood down the street. Only this neighborhood is built of Spanish-style architecture wrapped in all the haute of a Roman villa.
You may think you’ve been to America’s prettiest cities, but unless you’ve traveled to this East Coast neighborhood, you haven’t. With its impeccably charming mini courtyards, delightfully narrow streets and glorious brickwork homes with identical white-trim window frames and jet-black wooden shutters, Boston’s Beacon Hill is the definition of pretty. All around is lush red brick, catching the light, glowing in different ways at different times of day. It’s even been named one of the best neighborhoods in the country for trick-or-treating. So, what are you waiting for?
More Places to Drive to
Maybe get rich: Hanging in Del Mar is a lifestyle — a celebration that life is good, the sun is out and maybe you’ll hit an exacta to pay the rent.
Or maybe get camp: Have some underground fun at one of these guilty pleasures of San Francisco.
Stay in the trees: An exotic treehouse in Georgia lets you sleep beneath the stars, nestled in leafiness.
Eat great greasy food: See how diner eating has evolved in New Jersey, the diner capital of America.
Get away from people: The Salish Sea in Washington state has 172 of the most isolated islands in America (once you drive there, you’ll need to take a ferry or floatplane).