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Where You Should Road Trip This Summer

The summer road trip season has arrived, and it’s time to plan a road trip.

And after the last few years cooped up and visiting places virtually, travelers are ready to hit the road and explore like never before.

In fact, nearly half of the respondents to a recent TransUnion survey said they plan to travel more than last year.

If you’re planning a trip this year or want to include additional side quests, your first move is to decide where you want to go.

Fortunately, there are fabulous locations around the country that suit your type of adventure and your budget.

So, if you know you want to go somewhere and just need some help deciding which direction, check out these fantastic road trip destinations that will help make your summer memorable.

Best Places to Road Trip this Summer

1. Route 66

Stunning desert landscape that you'll find along Route 66.

The iconic Route 66 originally offered truckers, migrants, and travelers a direct route to the West Coast that was available to use year-round.

And many who drove this more practical route fell in love with the incredible scenery and natural beauty that they found along the way.

In fact, entire towns sprang to life along the highway. However, the construction of other highways took traffic — and business — away from the Mother Road for years, and many towns and businesses simply closed.

But, travelers have rediscovered this 1,250-mile stretch of road, and believe it’s well worth a visit.

But, the best part? You can choose a small section to explore or drive the entire thing, which stretches from Chicago to Los Angeles.

2. Mississippi River

A historic paddleboat sitting on the Mississippi River.

Musicians, composers, and writers have immortalized the Mississippi River, and for good reason:

It is an awe-inspiring waterway. In fact, there are thousands of historical, cultural, and culinary spots to visit, and the scenery is breathtaking.

But, you don’t need to charter a boat to travel the length of the Mighty Mississippi. Instead, pack the car and take a few weeks to enjoy the Great River Road.

Just start at the headwaters near Minneapolis, and head south through ten states while you make countless memories.

And if you make it all the way to the end then your reward is spending some mega epic time in New Orleans.

3. Cape Cod

A fishing boat in the water, docked at a pier and a white church in the background in Cape Cod.

Sea air, quaint fishing towns, and more than a few historical monuments make a drive through Cape Cod a must-see if you’re in the USA.

In fact, if you live in the New York City area then Cape Cod is really only about four hours from the city, depending on traffic.

But who wants to drive straight to the Cape without stopping?

So, history buffs can plan to spend extra time at exceptional museums and monuments along the way.

In contrast, epicurean travelers will find a bevy of the freshest seafood to choose from.

Therefore, make this road trip a multi-day adventure and stay at a variety of quaint bed and breakfasts, upscale hotels, and everything in-between.

4. The Ozarks

View of the brown sign that welcomes you to Ozark National Forest in the  USA.

There are many gorgeous road trips through the mountains in the United States. But, a drive past the Ozarks feels like you’re uncovering a beautiful series of hidden gems.

So, explore southeastern Missouri, northwestern Arkansas, or enjoy all of it and everywhere in between.

And while some travelers prefer to touch base in bigger cities like Little Rock, St. Louis, and even Branson, others love smaller towns like Cape Girardeau, Fayetteville, and Eureka Springs.

Just make sure to add an extra day or two to the trip for turn-offs and side trips.

Because from the Thorncrown Chapel to the Glory Hole — an underground waterfall — this road trip will quickly become a family favorite.

5. The Gulf Coast

Aerial view of a river boat sitting on the water in Louisiana in New Orleans.

If you love the idea of incorporating the beach into your road trip then try a tour of the Gulf Coast.

So, kick off your adventure (or end it) in vibrant New Orleans. Now, when you leave, skip the speedier highways and make for Highway 90.

It hugs the coast as you drive through the southernmost parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.

Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to see swamps, wildlife, and a series of lovely towns.

And as you approach the Emerald Coast, you can stop off at any one of hundreds of sparkling, white-sand beaches.

Often times, you can actually find a beach with no one around. Additionally, you can visit other major cities along the way that promise delicious food, like Mobile and Pensacola.

Plan for Success Wherever You Go During Your Summer Road Trip

Road that takes you to the mountains in Canada during your summer road trip.

Summer road trips, whether big or small, require some planning ahead of time to ensure the best chance for success.

And if you plan to take your own car, visit a mechanic for an inspection and to top off the fluids.

However, many people opt to rent a vehicle for greater comfort and extra space.

But whether you use your car or rent one, check to ensure you have the right insurance coverage to meet your needs.

Some people also purchase extended warranty coverage or roadside assistance, especially if they’re driving older cars.

Additionally, you’ll want to check the route you plan to take and note the gas and service stations along the way.

Finally, pack emergency essentials or review your existing kit to make sure that you have everything you need.

Most people find a checklist helpful to ensure they cover all their bases and every situation possible.

And if you’re traveling alone, check in with friends or loved ones as you go.

Plus, if the kids are along for the ride then you might benefit from shorter drives and frequent stops to help the, expend some energy.

It’s Time to Discover the Open Road

The beauty of a road trip is that it can be as short or as long as you like.

From afternoon explorations to multi-week treks, you can go at your own pace and explore on your terms.

In fact, you can use the road trip destinations listed above as a guide to help you plan your unique trip.

Because whichever way you go, you’ll find unforgettable sights and experiences. So, this summer, it’s road trip time and you’re gonna make the most of it.