[Ed note: this article was penned before Hurricane Irene made landfall. If you’re interested in the Cape Cod or Blue Ridge Parkway trips — both of which are normally spectacular — be sure to check with local authorities to ensure that roads are clear and open.]
With the summer sun slowly setting, it’s time to hit the road before autumn sets in. Time for the children to take over your playlist with songs for kids and for you to hear the same song on repeat. But I guess that’s all part of the fun when it comes to a road trip! Who doesn’t love a great drive through winding curves, sandy coasts, or a hilly countryside? Listed are four great road-trips around the country, known for the scenery as much as the drive itself. These are all bucket-list worthy and breathtakingly fantastic, whether in a Jeep Grand Cherokee or a BMW Z4. Take some friends along, or venture on solo.
Florida, Overseas Highway
This 127-mile highway links each of the Florida Keys together. Located just south of Miami, Florida’s Rt. 1 turns into the Oversea Highway, as your enter in South Key Largo. The National Scenic Byways Program recently named the highway an “All-American Road,” for its iconic landscape. Cruise through Islamorada, Marathon, and the islands in-between before ending in Key West. Finish the drive by watching the sunset on the beach, then venture over the Duval Street for fabulous eats to start the night off right. A perfect vehicle for this drive would be an Infiniti G37s convertible. With its dashing looks, and roaring 325hp V6, you’ll be creating waves.
California, Monterey to Morro Bay
It’s widely known that the Pacific Coast Highway could be one of the most beautiful highways in the world. With spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean along steep cliff sides, this is a driver’s dream. The 125-mile stretch of highway begins just south of Monterey and leads you along the Santa Lucia Range, where massive volcanic formations appear nestled in the sea. Be aware that these roadways are quite narrow with dangerously sharp turns, so be diligent about staying alert. This route takes you through some of the most breathtaking scenery, that includes Pebble Beach, Big Sur, and along the Hearst Castle. If you stop to rest, keep your eyes peeled for whales in the distance. They’re known to peek up from time-to-time. This drive deserves a vehicle than can tackle the curves with ease. Take a friend and hop on the highway in a Mini Cooper S Convertible. It’s go-kart-like steering will easily clear the rocky edges and sharp curves. The turbocharged 181hp engine moves this Mini with vigor.
Massachusetts, Cape Cod
The peninsula that is Cape Cod is the prime vacation destination for many locals living in the Northeast. The 50-mile drive from Orleans to Provincetown brings you past some of the best beaches on the east coast. As you start in Orleans, which is one of the entrances onto the cape, hop along Rt. 6A, which is the highway most inland. Take this along beach communities on the bay, passing miles of sandy coast, lush nature preserves, and through the towns of Eastham, Wellfleet, and Truro along the hook of the cape. Merge onto Rt. 6 toward Provincetown, passing massive dunes and quaint neighborhood streets as you inch your way toward the end. You’re welcomed into Provincetown by the towering Pilgrim Monument. Once off the highway, take a trip up Commerical Street to bask in the wild atmosphere, fantastic people watching, and delicious eateries. Might I suggest packing a Lincoln MKX for this drive? The new redesign gives occupants a technology-filled experience with a warm and beautifully designed cockpit. While the exterior will be quite the scene-stealer once you reach Provincetown.
Virginia and North Carolina, Blue Ridge Parkway
Created on September 11, 1935, the Blue Ridge Parkway was built to bring a pathway between Shenandoah National Park and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The first mile marker starts in the northeast end of Virginia and ends 469-miles later in the southern end of North Carolina. While it’s picturesque, this trip needs to be taken in doses. Long windings roads take you past miles of lush forest, clear lakes, and mountain majesties. The highway elevations change rapidly down the route, so temperature and conditions change often. Most of the best sites are off the beaten-path, so be sure to park and hike along some of the open paths. The nearest city along the route is Asheville, North Carolina, which is known for the friendly southern hospitality, and a bustling downtown. Travelers say the best drive time is early spring all the way into late autumn. I would suggest a SUV for this trip. When the rocky roads beckon, be ready. Perhaps the new Jeep Grand Cherokee, with its adjustable suspension can handle nearly anything you throw at it. Open the panoramic sunroof, and let all that mountain air in.
These are merely recommendations, but all venture-enthusiasts know that it’s the journey, and not so much the destination. Research some road-trip ideas in your area, whether you’re looking for a day trip or a weekend away. My suggestion is to keep a map handy, just in case things get confusing. Navigation systems are helpful, but tend to get fooled if they’re not properly updated. So pack a bag, some snacks and your favorite playlist (might I suggest some Fleetwood Mac?) and hop on the road.