Summer is here. With the kids out of school and everyone planning some vacation time, it’s truly the best time of the year to pack up the car and take a road trip. But where are some of the best places to go on a summer vacation road trip?
Summer Vacation Destinations
We’ve listed a half dozen of the best destinations below, three each from the United States and Canada. All offer a wonderful way to see the scenery, explore local cultures and have plenty of “together time” with family.
U.S. Summer Road Trips
No matter where you are, a great summer vacation road trip is not far away.
Pacific Coast Highway
Few road trips offer the scenery of the Pacific Coast Highway, otherwise known as Highway 1, in California. Travel along the western edge of the continent with mountains on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. If time is an issue, just pick one segment. Those include the ride from Big Sur up to Eureka, the trip between Los Angeles north to Santa Barbara or on up to Cayucos. The short trip from Los Angeles to San Diego also provides some great stops, including Laguna Beach and whale-watching tours. Whatever segment you pick, count on great places for food, fantastic beaches and amazing site seeing.
New Mexico is beautiful and very different drive. The southwest offers amazing vistas and mountain ranges, from the Davis Mountains in far West Texas (the art community of Marfa is a must-see) to the Guadalupe and Sacramento mountains in New Mexico. Be sure to include a stop at the amazing White Sand Desert, as well as a day spent going through the Carlsbad Caverns, one of the most spectacular and unusual National Parks.
Rather than spend a whole vacation at Disney World or the beach – been there and done that – take a road trip down to the Florida Keys, one of the most unique spots in the country. The road itself is amazing. You’ll pass over long stretches of water between the keys. Once in Key West, there are plenty of opportunities to snorkel, visit the closest spot in the U.S. to Cuba (or fly there for a day trip) and even drink in the bar (Sloppy Joe’s) where Ernest Hemingway once hung out. You can visit his house, as well, which is now a museum.
Canadian Road Trips
Canada is simply gorgeous. There may be hundreds of places to take a road trip, but the following three are all worth your summer vacation time.
Vancouver to Tofino
This trek through British Columbia features a ride along the Pacific Rim Highway on Vancouver Island. Spectacular views of the ocean, lakes and streams – and maybe the occasional bear – make this trip truly memorable. Along the way, be sure to visit the Coombs Country Market and take a walk through the Cathedral Forest in MacMillan Provincial Park, which features ancient Douglas Fir trees towering overhead.
The Eastern Townships in Quebec provide an excellent road trip and getaway destination – mostly on the more upscale side. There are luxurious hotels for couples, such as the Manoir Hovey in North Hatley, about an hour and half east of Montreal. The road trip itself offers views of countryside that is reminiscent of Tuscany, with beautiful, rolling hills. You’ll also find places to buy local farmers’ raspberries, apples and other produce. There are plenty of “summer colony” type places to visit.
Drives through Alberta offer amazing scenery – some of the best known in the world. A trip west from Calgary takes you to Banff National Park. That’s a location people fly in from around the world to see, but for lucky Canadians it’s just a drive away. Or, if you are closer to Edmonton, drive to Jasper National Park. Better yet, drive the Icefields Parkway through both parks and treat yourself to endless views of waterfalls, glaciers, pristine lakes, majestic mountains and beautiful valleys. Of all the drives on this list (both the U.S. and in Canada) this one is hands-down the most spectacular.
So, get in the car, gas it up and go. You’ll never regret a great road trip. You’ll also find that it’s cheaper than air travel and gives you more time to bond with family and friends. What better way is there to spend a summer vacation?