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Yellowstone Road Trip Itinerary: The Black Hills Route

Yellowstone Road Trip Itinerary: The Black Hills Route

Ultimate Western Colorado to Yellowstone road trip pin

The Great American Road trip awaits! Travel through the American West and see everything from high plains to mountain peaks. From the sacred Black Hills to the splendor of Yellowstone, welcome to the American west.

Map of our Yellowstone road trip


#thisismyroute

Prepared by:
Erika

States: 
Colorado, South Dakota, Wyoming

Start/End: 
Denver, Colorado

Total miles:
2,000

Suggested days: 
At least 14

Type: 
scenic road trip

Recommended for: 
First-timers to the United States, honeymooners, photographers, road trippers

Suggested season: 
Spring through Fall

Overview of the yellowstone road trip route

This route is perfect for those who want to experience the beauty of the open road and some of America’s most untamed areas. Your Yellowstone road trip can include so much more than just national parks! Experience a true American road trip with old western towns, intriguing culture, and unbelievable scenery. Arrive at Denver International Airport, and depending on your preferences, spend a day in Colorado’s capital city either at the start of your trip or at the end. From Denver, head north for a quick stop in the “Craft Beer Capital of Colorado,” in Fort Collins. It’s a fun, happening town that will get you excited to explore everything else to come. Later, head further north to Wyoming. Stop in Cheyenne, one of the most well-known western towns in the world. Afterwards, head towards South Dakota to see the Black Hills. Return to Wyoming and visit Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Tetons, Devils Tower, and more! After all the excitement of Jackson and the parks, slow down and enjoy the small towns of southern Wyoming.

How to Prepare for your yellowstone road trip

We recommend approximately 14 days for this trip in order to experience each town and activity without feeling rushed. With so many miles to cover, we suggest spending a couple of days in the Black Hills and a couple of days in and around Yellowstone National Park. This itinerary is full of suggestions for some of the best places to stop during a Yellowstone road trip especially during the longer days on the road. Plan your trip accordingly so that you experience the places that spark your interest the most. These areas can be crowded in the summertime, and for good reason. There are multiple events and the weather is beautiful. If you want to avoid crowds we suggest traveling at the end of spring or the beginning of fall. If you are visiting at peak season in the summer, we suggest visiting the smaller towns on the weekends and the national parks, monuments, and larger towns on the weekdays. Wintertime is still beautiful in these places, however, many roads are closed and you cannot drive into some of the parks. Always check for road closures if visiting in winter.

DAY 1: arrive in Denver and head to Fort Collins

Sunrise in Denver during our Colorado to Yellowstone road trip

1.5 hours/72 miles

We suggest arriving early into Denver and renting your car from the airport. Head north on I-25 towards Fort Collins, Colorado. It is the perfect town to get prepared and excited to start your road trip! Don’t worry, you will have a chance to explore the mile high city at the end of your trip if you choose!

Travel Tip: drink tons of water! The elevation in the Rocky Mountain West is real, and if you’re heading from lower elevation, increased hydration will help you stave off altitude sickness.

Fort Collins, Colorado
This vibrant town is full of activities, but offers the tranquility of nature just a few miles away. If you want to walk on cobblestone streets next to historical buildings, you will love Old Town Fort Collins! Boutiques, pubs, galleries, events, local eateries abound in this downtown area.

Best short hike:

Kimmons Trail

Best place for breakfast:

Silver Grill Cafe

Best place to watch the sunset:

Cathedral Tree Trail

Best place to stay:

Old Town Ft. Collins

Best swimming hole:

Cache La Poudre

Best place for local brew:

New Belgium Brewery

DAY 2: Fort Collins to Cheyenne

Cheyenne boot, statehouse, and indoor garden during the Yellowstone road trip

50 minutes/47 miles

Grab breakfast and get an early start towards your first stop in Wyoming. Cheyenne, Wyoming is the perfect town to get a real feel for the American west. It is famous for its cowboy culture, rodeos, and trains. After you take in all the entertaining events, historic museums, steam engines, and western-themed attractions, take a day trip east on I-80 to nearby outdoor recreation areas like Vedauwoo and Curt Gowdy State Park. Here you will discover beautiful views, world class climbing, mountain biking, and hiking. Cheyenne is also known for its art and the beautiful botanic gardens.

Read more here.

Best experience for the whole family:

Terry Bison Ranch

Can’t miss it:

Cheyenne Depot and Museum

Must see it:

Big Boy Steam Engine

Best place for a hike:

Curt Gowdy State Park

Best burger in town:

2 Doors Down

Best morning grab and go:

Mort’s Bagel

DAY 3: Cheyenne to Hot Springs, South Dakota

Historical sign in Hot Springs, South Dakota during our Yellowstone road trip.

3 hours/240 miles

Today is going to be a longer travel day, so rise and shine, grab your morning bagel, and hit the road. Head north on I-25 for a little over an hour until you reach Wheatland. This small Wyoming town is a good rest stop filled with quaint shops and murals. Then head northeast on Highway 26 towards Guernsey. Another very interesting part of American history lies just a ½ a mile south of the town, where some of the best examples of the Oregon Trail ruts are still visible. After a bit of American history and a relaxing picnic in Guernsey State Park, head northeast for about 2 hours toward Hot Springs, South Dakota. If you make it before 8pm, go end your day in the relaxing hot springs of Evans Plunge, the oldest attraction in the Black Hills.

Best place for a picnic:

Guernsey State Park

Best place to stay: 

Historic Log Cabins in Hot Springs

Can’t miss it:

Oregon Trail Ruts

Where to soak:

Evans Plunge Mineral Springs

Best place for dinner

The 1891

Best place for a hike:

JH Keith Park and Whitney Preserve

DAY 4: Hot Springs to Rapid City

Mammoth bones in South Dakota hot springs as seen during a Yellowstone road trip.

2.5 hours/100 miles

Today you are going to have an action packed day exploring the gems that surround the Black Hills! Evans Plunge opens early if you want to get some relaxation in before the day begins. If you have time in the morning, visit the Mammoth Site, which boasts the largest concentration of mammoth fossils in the world, and the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary. Afterwards drive up north toward Wind Cave National Park. After the visiting this unique national park, head up the quintessential old west town of Custer. Grab a bite to eat and then head to Custer State Park to explore granite peaks and rolling hills. It’s a great stop if you want to hike, bike, swim or see the buffalo herd. After some time in the park, come face to face with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln at Mount Rushmore. This national monument teaches the story of America’s birth, growth, and development. Venture northeast for a night in Rapid City. Here you will find a vibrant town with great places to eat, drink and stay.

Read more about Hot Springs, South Dakota here.

Can’t miss it:

Mount Rushmore

Must see:

Mammoth Site

Great tour:

Wind Cave National Park

Best hike:

Wind Cave Canyon Trail

Best photo op:

Jewel Cave National Monument

Great place to go:

Fort Hays Old west Town Square

DAY 5: Rapid City to Gillette Wyoming

Devil's Tower during our Yellowstone Road trip

3.5 hours/220 miles

Rapid City is a fun bustling town, so wake up to enjoy a walk through downtown with a coffee in hand. Then head up Highway 90 towards Spearfish. It doesn’t matter when you visit, this town has year round adventure. There is an abundance of hiking, fishing, camping, hunting, climbing, and biking. The art and history surrounding the area is an attraction in and of itself. If you want some final Black Hills views, drive through Spearfish Canyon to Interstate 90 towards Gillette, Wyoming. When you hit Highway 14, go north towards Devil’s Tower National Monument. This landmass is America’s first national monument for a reason: it is one of the most striking, naturally-formed landscapes in the country. After seeing Devil’s Tower, make your way to Gillette. This town will get your taste buds buzzing with all their delicious culinary options.

Read more about Gillette, Wyoming here.

Best scenic drive:

Spearfish Canyon

Best history:

Crazy Horse Memorial

Can’t miss it:

Devils Tower National Monument

Best place to get dinner:

Pizza Corrello

Best place to stay:

Arbuckle Lodge

Best place to grab a local brew:

Gillette Brewing Company

DAY 6: Gillette to Cody

4.5 hours/250 miles

As you make your way across eastern Wyoming there are a few quiet stops before reaching the bustling eastern gateway of Yellowstone National Park. Your first stop is Buffalo, a cute town nestled in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains. A dozen historical buildings, ice cream shops, art galleries, and restaurants line Main Street. Head towards Ten Sleep, a unique, small western town that hippies, hunters, cowboys, and climbers alike call home. Next, stop in Worland, home of the Washakie Museum. Now it’s time to head for the lively western adventure town of Cody, Wyoming. The best way to get a taste of the Wild West is by watching bucking broncos and fearless cowboys at one of the nightly rodeos. For more country western culture, walk around Sheridan Ave and follow the noise of live music and dancing boots. Before you leave for your official Yellowstone road trip in the morning, don’t forget to learn about the man that the town is named after, Buffalo Bill Cody, at the Buffalo Bill Museum of the American West.

Read more about Cody here

Best place for a local brew:

Ten Sleep Brewing Company

Best hike:

Gooseberry Badlands

Best place to take the kids:

Red Gulch Dinosaur Tracks

Best spot for a steak:

Cassie’s

Best scenic byway:

Cloud Peak Skyway

Best night out:

Cody Stampede Rodeo

DAY 7-9: Yellowstone road trip

Two bison from our Yellowstone road trip.

Wake up early and hop on the Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway that connects Cody to Yellowstone National Park. Called one of the most beautiful drives in America, the rushing Shoshone River, amazing rock formations, and the mountains views abound. If you want to get out and stretch your legs, there are multiple scenic vista pullouts along the highway. Once you reach the eastern entrance of Yellowstone National Park, don’t forget to grab a park map! Remember, Yellowstone covers a huge tract of land. If you want to get the best experience without a lot of driving, we suggest staying one night within Yellowstone National Park.

YELLOWSTONE road trip attractions:

LAKE BUTTE OVERLOOK
FISHING BRIDGE VISITORS CENTER
YELLOWSTONE LAKE
MUD VOLCANO
SULPHUR CALDRON
VIRGINIA CASCADE
BERYL SPRING

Best place for wildlife:

The Lamar Valley

Best hike:

Storm Point Nature Trail

Best place to ride a horse:

Lodges of East Yellowstone

Best point of interest:

Lake Yellowstone Hotel

Best iconic American landmark:

Old Faithful

Can’t miss it:

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and Emerald Pool

DAY 10-11: Grand Teton National Park and Jackson

Grand Tetons during our Yellowstone road trip

3.5 hours/165 miles

We hope that you explored all you wanted during your Yellowstone road trip because it’s time to leave the geothermal natural wonders behind and head south. For a more relaxed experience, Grand Teton National Park is a gorgeous paradise. You really aren’t prepared for the beauty until you actually experience these mountains up close. Explore crystal clear lakes, flowing rivers, and great spots for photography all with the rugged Grand Tetons next to you. If you really want to enjoy Grand Teton National Park you can avoid the crowds and bike some of the many trails (map attached below!). Post Grand Teton Grandeur, head towards Jackson Hole. As you approach the famous tourist town of Wyoming, look left towards the National Elk Refuge, which offers tons of activities to explore if you want to get up close with the herd. Once you get to Jackson it’s time to enjoy the art culture, cowboy bars, delicious restaurants, and vibrant vibes! If you want to see it all from above we suggest taking a ride up the Aerial Tram! It really doesn’t matter what time of year you are in Jackson, you will definitely have a great time!

Best road for photo ops:

Signal Mountain Summit Road

Best hike:

Colter Bay Lakeshore

Best museum:

National Museum of Wildlife Art

Best place to shop:

Downtown Jackson

Can’t miss it:

Carriage Ride through the National Elk Refuge

Best local brew:

Snake River Brewing

DAY 12: Jackson to Lander

Take your time and enjoy your morning in Jackson Hole. Then it’s time to go back to the Wyoming roots and explore a few more small towns. As you begin to see the Grand Tetons disappear in your rearview mirror you will reach the town of Dubois. This charming hidden gem is one of the last real Old West towns. This small town is surrounded by outdoor activities like mountain biking, hiking, ATV riding, kayaking, and much more. If you are here in the winter you can’t miss out on the snowmobiling! Afterwards it is time to get to know the Wind River Mountain Range. Drive along the mountains toward Riverton, one of the most underrated towns in Wyoming. This small mountain town is worth an overnight stay, so you can learn all about the local Native American culture. If you are lucky you may just be here for one of the many events that take place over summer. For an outdoor adventure, head to the next town over, Lander. Discover the beauty of the untamed Wind River Mountains, starting with the fascinating Sinks Canyon State Park.

Best comfort food:

Cowboy Cafe

Can’t miss it:

Sinks Canyon State Park

Best place to try your luck:

Wind River Hotel and Casino-Riverton

Best hike:

Popo Agie Falls Trail

Best scenic drive:

The Loop Road

Best night out:

The Lander Bar

DAY 13: Lander to Denver, Colorado

Hiking in the Medicine Bow Mountain range during our Yellowstone road trip

6.5 hours/385 miles

Today you are going to explore some of America’s best kept secrets in Southern Wyoming. It is a long trip so break it up however you like. Your first stop is the town of Rawlins. There is particularly interesting history here, as it is home to the Wyoming Frontier Prison Museum. After you have stretched your legs in Rawlins, it’s time to hit Saratoga. Your drive down will have vast open spaces and the towering peaks of the Snowy Range. Saratoga will be a good stop for lunch before you head west on Highway 130 for Medicine Bow National Forest. This area is full of lakes and peaks with many spots to sit by the water and relax. After you have enjoyed one of the best outdoor areas in Southern Wyoming head for Laramie. Laramie is an idyllic American town with rich history, fun local happenings, and tons of outdoor recreation. If you didn’t get a chance to visit Vedauwoo the first time, this is your second chance. Take some time to walk around downtown Laramie where you will find great restaurants, art shops, souvenirs and more. For some this may be the last stop of your trip before heading back to the airport. For others you may be heading down to Denver, Colorado for a taste of the city life.

Great Coffee:

Deb B’s Family Espresso & Ice Cream-Rawlins

Can’t miss it:

Hobo Hot Springs-Saratoga

Great Museum:

Saratoga Museum

Best hike:

Lake Trails

Can’t miss it:

Wyoming Territorial Prison-Laramie

Best outdoor recreation:

Vedauwoo Recreation Area

DAY 14: Denver

Exchange your country boots for your city shoes because you are now in the Mile High City. Denver is known for its foodie paradise, vibrant neighborhoods, music scene, thriving beer culture, amazing art, and sporting life. During your visit you may hear many expressions such as LoDo, SoDo, RiNo and many more. That is because Denver is broken up into ten different neighborhoods. So whatever you are looking for during your vacation, you will find it within one of the neighborhoods, each with its own unique style and flair. Find out more about Denver here

Historic neighborhood:

Larimer Square

Best museum:

Denver Art Museum

Haven for Art Lovers:

The Art District on Santa Fe

Shopper’s Paradise:

Cherry Creek

Can’t miss it:

Union Station

Best hotspot for food and culture:

South Pearl Street and Old South Gaylord



Platte County, Wyoming: A place for everyone

Platte County, Wyoming is one of those rare places that has something for everyone. At 2,111 square miles, there are mountains, lakes, towering high-desert spires, forested slopes and a ghost town thrown in for good measure.

Long considered a sport-person’s paradise, it offers the best of Wyoming through its winding nature trails and the recreation opportunities that surround the major reservoirs that sparkle within its boundaries. But it is not just the outdoor opportunities that make this county in Southeastern Wyoming so worth a visit.

This story was created in partnership with the Platte County Chamber of Commerce.

With 11 landmarks officially on the National Register of Historic Places, a trip to Platte County is a trip through some of the most historically important representation of early American pioneer history.

Made up of the five main communities of Chugwater, Glendo, Guernsey, Hartville and the county seat of Wheatland, Platte County is also a trip to some of the eclectically western towns the United States has to offer. You’ll find vibrant down towns, astounding eateries and cultural opportunities that are embraced in that classic western hospitality.

Platte County could also be called a link-lover’s wonderland. Two outstanding public courses are located in Wheatland and Guernsey, and offer a challenge to even the most skilled golfer.

One thing you can’t miss on your visit to Platte County is the fascinating Fort Laramie. Founded at the juncture of the Laramie and North Platte Rivers in 1834, Fort Laramie became one of the most important military outposts during the western expansion of the United States. The former post exists now as a nationally-registered historical site, and from Memorial Day to Labor Day it is open to the public to help re-create what life was like for the multitude of pioneers as they crossed what was then a vast, trackless wilderness.

Wheatland

Wheatland is the largest town in Platte County, and makes a great base for exploring all there is to do in the area. It is home to a number of great museums and parks and has all that Western nightlife you are searching for after all the exercise you are going to get paddling, hiking and biking the endless trails of Glendo and Guernsey State Parks and Reservoirs. One not-to-be missed museum, however, is the Laramie Peak Museum. It is a great museum with all the history of the area and the importance which Laramie Peak, a major landmark on the westward migration trails, has to the area.

Guernsey

Guernsey is located between the North Platte River and the Haystack Mountains. There is an endless supply of things to do here, from Guernsey State Park and Reservoir to the multitude of hiking and biking trails in the Haystack Area. In the summer months visitors can grab a raft or inner tube and float through the town on the river. But perhaps one of the greatest experiences in Guernsey is the unparalleled glimpse into the past by way of Register Cliff and the Oregon Trail Ruts. Register Cliff, one of the three best-known examples of “desert registers”, was the first night camp of the western-bound emigrants on the Oregon Trail after Fort Laramie. These emigrants would carve the names and dates of their parties before heading out into the unknown wilds. Another can’t miss marker of this era are the Guernsey Ruts, where the constant grinding of steel-rimmed wagon wheels cut deep into the sandstone ridge.


Chugwater

Chugwater is as interesting of a place as the name suggests. With a population just shy of 210, the town was home to the Swan Land and Cattle Company. During the time of cattle barons in the West, the Swan Land and Cattle Company was the Empire. At its height in the early 1880’s, Swan Land and Cattle Co. controlled over one million acres in eastern Wyoming and western Nebraska and ran over 110,000 head of cattle. Throughout its years of operation, Swan Land and Cattle Co. played a key role in many legendary episodes of the Wild West including the famous Johnson County War and the life of Tom Horn, the gunman who became the last person to be hung in the state of Wyoming. The remaining buildings were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1964. After your trip into the legends of the woolly Wyoming West, stop into the Chugwater Soda Fountain and get yourself a treat. The Soda Fountain is Wyoming’s oldest operating soda fountain.

Hartville

Hartville, population 62, is located just to the east of Guernsey State Park. It has the distinct honor of having the single oldest bar in the State of Wyoming (oldest bar back, that is). The Miners and Stockman’s Steakhouse and Spirits is a great experience, not only for the amazing steaks, but the bar keeps its history alive with a décor that will transport you back to the days of the thirsty, dust-covered cowboys coming in from the trail for a whistle-wetter.  It’s a great way to end your day after spending it exploring the waters and shores of the Glendo Reservoir.

Glendo

Glendo sits right on the shores of the Glendo Reservoir and is the Gateway to Glendo State Park. The park offers 45 miles of mountain bike trails, multiple camping areas totaling more than 500 campsites, plus fishing and other water activities with the reservoir producing several state record-size fish. But more than just the recreation activities the reservoir has to offer, the area is rich in cultural history. Archaeological evidence show the area has been home to numerous First Nation tribes and numerous artifacts, including tepee rings, still exist.

So, plan a trip to Platte County, Wyoming. Hike along the pristine shorelines of Glendo and Guernsey reservoirs, swim in sheltered coves, meander through centuries-old wind scoured sandstone bluffs and forests. Travel through history, travel through some of the best hidden secrets of the Rocky Mountain West. Travel to Platte County. It’s time to get swept away, and let their past become your present.




Riverton, Wyoming: Front and Center

There is a reason why Riverton, Wyoming is called the Rendezvous City. It sits at a crossroad of the past and the present. Where Native tribes and mountain men would meet at the joining of the Big Wind and Little Wind Rivers, where modern-day industry and progress meet the Wild West, and where big-city amenities meet small-town hospitality.

Created in partnership with the Riverton Chamber Of Commerce.

Founded in 1906, Riverton may be one of the youngest towns in Wyoming, but it has grown up fast thanks to the proximity it has to, well, everything.

With a population of almost 11,000, the city has a number of great restaurants, cafes, and coffee shops. The historic downtown Main Street is packed with businesses and boutiques.

A little trip through the West

As the site of the fur trade’s 1830 and 1838 Rendezvous, Riverton played host to many of the legendary names of this early part of the exploration of the west.

Jim Bridger, William Sublette, Kit Carson, and Jedediah Smith are giants of the legends and lore of the mountain man, and they walked this ground. The city’s dedication to this history is unquestionable.

Every year, Riverton hosts the 1838 Mountain Man Rendezvous Days.

If there is one thing to add and subsequently cross off your bucket list, it’s this celebration of the earliest days of the history and exploration of the American West.

Held every July, it is a time-portal, of sorts, to experiencing everything that made up the lives of these remarkable men.

There are seminars on fire starting with flint and steel, dutch oven cooking, flint knapping, teepee set-up and organization, various trapping methods, historical information about the era; the list goes on. If the mountain man or Native tribes of the area lived it, you can experience it.

Can’t quite get here during the Rendezvous Days? Riverton has you covered. There are two unsurpassed museums, the Heritage and Wildlife Center and the Riverton Museum, and they both have fantastic exhibits dedicated to the area.

All this adds up to make Riverton a great base to explore Wind River Country.

Riverton’s Front and Back Yard

Right out the front door of Riverton is the hiking, biking and climbing that can be found in the Wind River Mountains. It’s slightly over three hours to Yellowstone and an hour to the thermal hot springs of Thermopolis and the exquisite Wind River Canyon.

Wind River Canyon is one of the most beautiful drives in the country and is designated a scenic by-way for good reason. Cliffs tower 2,500 feet above the Wind River and the two-lane highway that hugs its banks. But it’s not the drive that the canyon is most famous for; it’s the adventure. The river drops over 300 vertical feet from the start of the canyon at Boysen Dam to the mouth near Thermopolis and is chock full of monster trout and monster rapids. Wind River Canyon Whitewater & Flyfishing Outfitter, a Native American-owned business, is the only outfitter permitted to raft/fish in the Indian Reservation portion of the canyon. Contact them and float the canyon. You won’t regret it.

The sports-person’s paradises of Boysen Reservoir, Ocean Lake, and Lake Cameahwait is literally in the back yard and offers everything from trophy fishing to boating and windsurfing.

Get Some Culture

Directly to the West is the fourth largest Native American reservation in the United States, the Wind River Indian Reservation.

Home to the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho people, the reservation holds many traditional festivals and celebrations throughout the year, many of which are open to the public.

Feeling lucky? The reservation is also home to two hotel and casinos; The Shoshone Rose Casino and Hotel, outside of Lander, and the Wind River Hotel and Casino, right outside Riverton.

Explore Riverton From Above

Ever dreamed of floating at bird level silently above some of the most staggeringly beautiful country in the United States? Of course you have. Well then, come to Riverton and experience one of the single greatest festivals in the state of Wyoming.

The Riverton Balloon Rally is three amazing days of parades, celebrations, air shows, car shows, tethered balloon rides, art exhibits and fireworks. It’s just a really really good time, and that’s all there is to it.

The Gathering Place

Riverton, The Rendezvous City. Does that name make sense now? It should, because the definition of rendezvous is a gathering place to exchange ideas, commodities and goods.

That is Riverton’s heartbeat. So come and explore this city nestled at the juncture of two rivers in the shadow of the mountains, and place your fingers on the pulse of the living west.

Riverton, Riverton Wyoming, hot air balloon festival




Maine Itinerary: USA’s Most Northeastern State

Maine Itinerary: USA’s Most Northeastern State

Ahh Maine! The 9th least populated state in the Unites States is defined by its jagged, rocky coastline; low, rolling mountains; heavily forested interior; and picturesque waterways, as well as its seafood cuisine, especially lobster and clams. Enjoy our maine Itinerary!



#thisismyroute

Prepared by:
James

States: 
maine, Massachusetts

Start/End: 
Boston, Massachusetts

Total miles:
1,800

Suggested days: 
At least 14

Type: 
scenic road trip

Recommended for: 
First-timers to the United States, honeymooners, photographers, road trippers, sea food lovers

Suggested season: 
spring, summer, fall

Overview

Do you like amazing food, amazing scenery and a chance to visit one of the most expansive wilderness areas on the East Coast? Then buckle up, because this Maine itinerary will have everything you are looking for. In this itinerary you will fly into Boston’s Logan International Airport before heading up north to the coastal areas of Maine, with a stop at the only National Park in New England, Acadia. Once you get to the very tip of eastern Maine, you will head West and into the vast forested interior and the mountains of the Northern Appalachians. But is this overview leads you to believe that Maine is a tactless wilderness, you would be wrong. The cities and communities that we are sending you to have a vibrant and progressive feel to them, with world-class shopping and dining, and an eclectic locale that will be the highlight o this amazing trip.

How to Prepare

We recommend approximately 14 days for this trip in order to experience each town and activity without feeling too rushed. You have a lot of miles to cover, so we suggest spending at minimum a day at each stop.  This itinerary is full of suggestions of some of the best places to fully experience the area, with overnight stops in the towns along the way. Plan your trip accordingly so that you experience the places that spark your interest the most. These areas can be crowded in the summertime, and for good reason. There are multiple events and the weather is beautiful. Wintertime is still beautiful in these places, however, many roads are closed and you cannot drive into some of the higher elevations. In the northern parts of the state, winter is characterized by cold temperatures and lots of snow. Summertime temps in these places are characterized by warm days with lots of humidity, so take that into account as you decide your travel dates. The majority of this trip will be relatively short drives between stops, but this is to allow you the most time at all the amazing places that you have traveled so far to see. Though this itinerary is a day to day guide, it is only a guide and you should feel free to adapt it however you want, taking as much time as you need to fully experience this wonderful part of the world.

DAY 1: land in boston, drive to York

1 hours/60 miles

This is a shorter day for a good reason. We suggest arriving early into Boston and renting your car from the airport and setting out north toward your first stop, York. Situated beside the Atlantic Ocean on the Gulf of Maine, York is a well-known summer resort town. It is the perfect town to get prepared and excited to start your road trip. The first thing we would recommend doing when you get into town, is to head to the Dockside. Its a quintessential Maine Bed and Breakfast and will give you the perfect introduction to this amazing place.

Best place to stretch your legs:

Fisherman’s Walk

Best place to learn about the area:

Old York Historical Society

Can’t miss it:

York Beach

Best photo op:

Cape Neddik Nubble Lighthoue

Best place for cocktails:

Wiggly Bridge Distillery

Best place for Maine lobsters:

Off The Boat Lobsters

DAY 2: The Original Portland

Lighthouse on the coast of Maine.

50 minutes/46 miles

Welcome to Portland, the East Coast Portland that is. Set on a peninsula extending into Casco Bay, Portland has a distinct New England feel to it, which it what gives it is charms, while being at once modern and pretty darn hip. The Old Port waterfront features working fishing wharves and converted warehouses with restaurants and shops. Nearby, the Western Promenade is a public park atop a bluff, offering river and mountain views. Its surrounding district, the West End, is full of Victorian-era homes, including the Victoria Mansion museum.

Best short hike:

Winnick Woods

Best way to see the city:

From a fire engine

Most unique experience:

Catch your own lobster

Best place to get some culture:

Portland Art Museum

Best place for a stroll:

Congress Street Historic District

Best place to eat oysters:

Eventide Oyster Co.

DAY 3: Rockland

1.5 hours/77 miles

Home to the Maine Lobster Festival, Rockland is great coastal town. Considered one of the hidden gems of the Maine Coast, the town was named “One of the Prettiest Small Towns in America” by Forbes Magazine. One thing the area is known for are the plenitude of islands in and around Penobscot Bay. One of the things we would highly recommend you fit into your schedule is to take a sail around the area. After that, you might need to re-find your land legs, so head to Rock City Coffee to re-energize.

Best walk:

Harbor Trail

Best scenic drive: 

North Shore Drive to Owl Head Lighthouse

Can’t miss it:

Rockland Harbor Breakwater

Best place for a stroll:

Rockland Main Street

Best place to learn about lighthouses:

Maine Lighthouse Museum

Best place for dinner:

Archer’s on the Pier

DAY 4: Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor

acadia national park

2 hours/80 miles

Today you will be driving along the beautiful Highway 1 to your destination; Bar Harbor, the gateway to Acadia National Park. Once you get to Bar Harbor, you are going to need some energy for your foray into Acadia. We would reccomend breakfast at Jeannie’s Great Maine Breakfast  Once you get breakfast make your way into the park to explore the dramatic and rugged coastline. The first stop you should make is to the Rockefeller Welcome Center. It will be a great guide to the park. After you get back to Bar Harbor we recommend getting a room at the Acadia Hotel. There are a number fine dining establishments in Bar Harbor – lobster is a regional specialty – and some nighttime entertainment, like Reel Pizza Cinerama, a combination art-house movie theater and pizzeria. Or try a more traditional establishment like Leary’s Landing, the closet Irish Pub to Ireland in America. Acadia National Park has a lot to offer including hiking, sight-seeing, and paddle-boarding.

Best way to see the park:

Take a ranger led program

Can’t miss it:

Bass Harbor Light House

Best place to watch the sunrise:

Ocean Path Trail

Best place to hike:

Precipice Trail

Best place for a dip:

Sand Beach

Best photo point:

Otter Cliff

DAY 5: Machias

1.5 hours/80 miles

In Maine lexicon, Machias is known as a DownEaster Town, located as it is, in the eastern most point of the state. Known for its picturesque harbors dotted with fishing boats, meandering rivers and historic sites pre-dating the Revolutionary War. Machias has another tasty little claim to fame…blueberries. Home to the Maine Wild Blueberry Company, the town holds the Machias Wild Blueberry Festival every year in August. One thing we would recommend doing in Machias, is getting a room at the Riverside Inn. Great place with a nice little seafood cafe attached.

Best place for a hike:

Machias River Preserve

Can’t miss it:

Burnham Tavern

Get out on the water:

Sunrise Canoe and Kayak

Best place to take a bracing ocean swim:

Roque Bluffs State Park

Best place for a photo:

Bad Little Falls Park

Best lobster roll in Maine:

Helen’s

DAY 6: houlton and the county

2.5 hours/120 miles

Houlton is an outdoorsy kind of town, in that its is the headquarters to the boundless forests, mountains and rivers that make up Aroostock County. Aroostock County is the largest county east of the Mississippi. Known by several different names, including, “The Last Frontier of the East” or by many Mainers as just “The County,”  there are a number of small towns worth taking a short trip to see. The first thing we would recommend doing when you get into Houlton is to head to the Market Square. It is the commercial center of the town and listed on the register of National Historic Places. Get a room for the night at the Tall Timber Inn. Its a classic rustic Maine hideaway on the shores of Muduxnekeag Lake.

Best place to get outdoors:

Deboullie State Preserve

Best place to learn about the Maine Acadian Culture:

Acadia Village

Best museum:

Northern Maine Museum of Science

Best place for a hike:

Bangor and Aroostook Trail

Can’t miss it:

Pluto at the Houlton Visitor’s Center

Best place for dinner:

The Courtyard Cafe

DAY 7: Mt. Katahdin at Millinocket

1 hours/70 miles

Millinocket is known as the “Biggest little City in Maine” with good reason. It is a major supply point and the northern terminus for trekkers on the Appalachian Trail and the gateway to Baxter State Park and Mt. Katadhin.  During the summer months, Millinocket turns into an international town with hikers and outdoor enthusiasts flocking to the town, which gives it a really fun vibe. The first thing we would recommend is heading to The Young House Bed and Breakfast. It’s a charming place to rest your head.

Best place for wildlife:

Debsconeag Lakes wilderness Area

Hike Katahdin:

The Knife’s Edge Trail

Can’t miss it:

The Waterfall Tour

Best place to stock up on supplies:

Katahdin General Store

Best place to shop:

Woods and Waters Shop

Can’t miss dinner:

River Drivers

DAY 8: dover-Foxcraft

1 hour/50 miles

Dover-Foxcraft is home to the Whoopie Pie Festival. Yup. Just let that sink in. You are headed to a town that holds a festival celebrating the Whoopie Pie. This should be your first clue that Dover-Foxcraft is a pretty fun town. It also sits at the entrance to the 100-Mile Wilderness, the final hard push for trekkers on the Appalachian Trail, before hitting Baxter and the northern terminus. We would highly recommend getting a room for the night at Freedom House Bed and Breakfast. It sits right on the Pistacaquis River.

Get outdoors:

Peaks Kenny State Park

Can’t miss it:

Center Theatre

Best place to get some farm to table treats:

Spruce Mill Farm

Best photo op:

B52 Crash Site

Best way to see a moose:

Moose Country Safari and Eco Tours

Best place for dinner:

Pat’s Pizza

DAY 9: Greenville

1 hour/35 miles

Greenville sits on the southern end of the largest lake in Maine, Moosehead Lake. At over 75,000 acres, this  lake is HUGE, and Greenville is just the place to explore it from. The first stop we recommend is to the Moosehead Lake Region Visitor’s Center. They are going to have all the resources you need to make your stay spectacular. The second stop we would recommend is to the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Little Lyford Lodge and Cabins. It’s not only a great place to stay, its a great way to meet people from all the world who have come to hike the AT. Speaking of which, head to the Stress Free Moose Pub for dinner and drinks.

Can’t miss it:

Katahdin Cruises

Best hike:

Burnt Jacket Mountain

Best place to stay:

The Greenville Inn

Best museum:

Moosehead Historical Society

Best place to shop local:

Downtown Greenville

Best Place to try a little local wine:

Spotted Cat Winery

DAY 10: Madison

1.5 hours/65 miles

Madison is a river runner’s paradise. Located right on the banks of the mighty Kennebec River, as it stands now, it’s a hidden secret among kayakers, but that won’t last long. On your way into town make sure you stop by the Maine Maple Products to get all the sugar you desire. After your sugar rush helps your drive into town, head to the Colony House Inn. It’s a classic Maine Bed and Breakfast.

Can’t miss kayaking experience:

The Madison Wave

Best place to catch some live music:

Somerset Abbey

Best place to go for a hike:

Bigelow Preserve

Buy some local produce:

North Star Orchards

Best place for a stroll:

The Historic Pines Trail

Best place for dinner and a show:

The Lakewood Inn

DAY 11: Oxford COunty

1.5 hours/65 miles

Paris is the County Seat of Oxford County and the hub of what is know as the Oxford Hills area. Made up of West Paris, Paris and Norway, as well as Oxford  and a few other communities, the region is a beautiful example of everything that makes Maine so amazing.  We recommend making Paris/Norway your base of operations for exploration. From there, it’s up to you to decide where you want to go and what you want to see, but one stop that will help you on your way is the Oxford Hills Chamber of Commerce.

Best scenic drive:

Route 26

Best museum:

Paris Hill Historic District

Best hike:

Streaked Mountain Trails

Best shopping experience:

The Village Gift Barn

Can’t miss it:

The McGlaughlin Garden and Homestead

Best place to find amazing food and craft beer:

XV Vault and Pub

DAY 12: Lewiston

30 minutes /30 miles

Today is a very short driving day, but that’s because we wanted to give you a little taste of city life after your sabbatical in the Great Northern Woods, and Lewiston is just the place to do it. The second largest city in Maine, Lewsiton is fast becoming a center of hipness and big city fun. But it is also a city of amazing architeture, highlighted by the exquisite Basillica of Saints Peter and Paul.  One stop you absolutely need to make is to the Museum L-A. Its has engaging and well-researched interactive exhibits that will give you a great understanding of the area.  One can’y miss experience is to get a room at the Inn at Angora. You can have a traditional room, or if you want…you can sleep in a haunted room that used to be a crypt!

Cant miss it:

Thorncrag Sanctuary

One of a kind experience:

Androscoggin Balloon Rides

Best hike:

Mount Apatite

Best place for a stroll:

Downtown Lewiston

Can’t miss it:

Androscoggin River Great Falls River Walk

Best place for dinner:

Fish Bones

DAYs 13 And 14: Pahk Ya Cah In Havahd Yahd

Boston skyline

2 hours/117 miles

Having a little touble with that tiltle? It says, Park Your Car in Harvard Yard, in that classic South Boston Accent. Well, get your ears tuned and get ready for Boston. This is a world-class city and there are a million things to so here, so a great place to start would be to head to Boston Commons and head to the Visitor Center. Driving around the city can be difficult for visitors, so one smart option would be to park at a garage in the North End and take “the T” (subway) around the city. The historic neighborhoods around Beacon Hill and Downtown are perfectly suited for walking and taking in the buildings, streets and parks that were integral to the founding of the United States.

Best historic walk:

The Freedom Trail

Can’t miss it:

Watch the Sox play at Fenway Park

Best place to view some art:

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Best haunted place to stay:

The Omni House Hotel

Must see district:

Harvard Square

Best place for dinner:

Beacon Hill District, Charles Street

maine itinerary pin




The Western Great Lakes Region

The Western Great Lakes Region

The great lakes are one of the most unique areas in the world. With a total surface area of nearly 32,000 square miles, the lakes span a vast area from new york to Minnesota. This itinerary is going to take you through some of the best the western regions has to offer.


#thisismyroute

Prepared by:
James

States: 
Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan

Start/End: 
Chicago, Illinois

Total miles:
1,800

Suggested days: 
At least 16

Type: 
scenic road trip

Recommended for: 
First-timers to the United States, honeymooners, photographers, road trippers, 

Suggested season
spring, summer, fall

Overview

This route is perfect for those who want to experience the beauty of the Great Lakes Region. In this itinerary you will travel through three states and visit Lake Michigan, Lake Superior and Lake Huron. The upper reaches of this region are full of spectacular scenery, rolling hills and forests that stretch on to the horizon.  You are going to fly into Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. We know you are going to want to spend a few days in America’s Second City, but save it for the end of your trip when you can unwind after all your travels. 

How to Prepare

We recommend approximately 16 days for this trip in order to experience each town and activity without feeling too rushed. You have a lot of miles to cover, so we suggest spending at minimum a day at each stop.  This itinerary is full of suggestions of some of the best places to fully experience the area, with overnight stops in the towns along the way. Plan your trip accordingly so that you experience the places that spark your interest the most. These areas can be crowded in the summertime, and for good reason. There are multiple events and the weather is beautiful. Wintertime can be beautiful in these places, however, the regions around the Great Lakes can be very cold with significant amounts of snowfall, so take that into account as you decide your travel dates. Fall in this region is characterized by beautiful blue skies and amazing fall foliage.  The majority of this trip will be short drives between stops, but this is to allow you the most time at all the amazing places that you have traveled so far to see. Though this itinerary is a day to day guide, it is only a guide and you should feel free to adapt it however you want, taking as much time as you need to fully experience this wonderful part of the world.

DAY 1: land in Chicago, travel to green bay

3.5 hours/200 miles

Once you get into Chicago, we would recommend getting your things together and heading off to start your road trip.  Once you get into Green Bay, our recommendation would be to head to Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary to get your first look at the Green Bay of Lake Michigan. It’s a well earned way to stretch your legs after your long day of travelling. After your exercise, you are going to need some refreshments and we would recommend heading to the Noble Roots Brewing Company to get this done.  Get a room for the night at St. Brendan’s Irish Inn. It’s a great hotel with an old-world feel right on the banks of the Fox River.

Best place to get outdoors:

Fox River State Trail

Can’t miss it:

Lambeau Field-Home of the Packers

Best place to see a waterfall:

Fonferek’s Glen County Park

Best place to see trains:

National Railroad Museum

Best place for a stroll:

Vulture City

Classic Wisconsin Dinner:

The Stadium View

DAY 2: Escanaba in da Moonlight

2 hours/110 miles

Welcome to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, or the Yooper, if you want to sound like a local. Escanaba is a port city located on the shores of Little Bay De Noc, and is a great introduction to the Northern regions of the Great Lakes.  Yoopers are known to be extremely friendly and welcoming people and make anyone feel at ease. Most tourists leave the UP with a feeling that they can’t wait to return. We agree. The first place you must visit when you get to Escanaba is Sand Point Lighthouse. It will give you a commanding view of the bay.

Eat candy:

Sayklly’s Confectionery

Best hike:

Days River Trail

Shop Local:

Ludington Street

Go for a swim:

Aronson Island

Get some culture:

William Bonifas Fine Arts Center

Best place to eat like a Yooper:

Swedish Pantry

DAY 3: Houghton and Isle Royale National Park

3 hours/160 miles

Included on the list of “100 Best Small Towns in America” Houghton, is also the gateway to the Keweenaw Peninsula and an access point to one of the least visited National Parks in the Lower 48, Isle Royale. If you decide to visit Isle Royale, you should maybe think about spending at least an extra day in the area so that you have time to do everything there is in this amazing area. One of the first things we would recommend doing when you get into town is to head to the Breyers Lakefront Resort for a great night’s rest.

Best hike:

Nara Nature Park

Best scenic drive: 

The Covered Road

Best photo op:

Kwewwnaw Rocket Range

Buy a book:

The Bookworm

Best place for a stroll:

Downtown Houghton

Best place for dinner:

Pilgrim River Steakhouse

DAY 4: Marquette

Sunset over Lake Michigan.

2 hours/100 miles

With a population of almost 22,000, Marquette is the biggest city in the Upper Peninsula, and it shows in the myriad of things there are to do here. Because of it’s almost unfathomable number of outdoor recreation opportunities, Marquette is a young, hip and vibrant town with a thriving scene. It’s also a great place to find a waterfall, with somewhere around 77 in the surrounding area. One can’t miss experience is to take a plunge off the famed Black Rocks into the deep waters of Lake superior. A great place to stay for the night is the Birchmont Hotel.

Best way to learn about the area:

Marquette Maritime Museum and Lighthouse

Must see:

Marquette Farmer’s Market

Best scenic hike:

Sugarloaf Mountain

Best place to shop local:

Downtown Marquette

Eat like a Cajun in the Yoop:

Lagniappe

Best Local Beer:

Ore Dock Brewing Company

DAY 5: munising and the Grand Isle

1 hour/42 miles

You have a short driving day today, which is good because that means you can have the time to eat a leisurely breakfast at Donckers. Try the Bacon Waffles. Once you roll into Munising you will notice one thing. There seem to be a lot of beautiful trees around. That’s because Munising is completely surrounded by the Hiawatha National Forest. Munising is an outdoor wonderland, so get prepared to snap a lot of photos. The first thing you need to do when you get into town is to head to the Munising Vistor’s Center. Its a great little start to your visit, with a nice gift shop attached. Just off shore, is the exquisite Grand Isle National Recreation Area.

Best place a natural history lesson:

Pictured Rocks Interpretive Center

Can’t miss it:

All the waterfalls

Best place for a hike:

Grand Island

Best place for a stroll:

Downtown Musining

Best way to see Pictured Rocks:

Superior Parasail

Best place for a burger:

Eh! Burger

DAY 6: Grand Marais and Pictured Rocks

1 hour/50 miles

The historic village of Grand Marais is located on the south shore of Lake Superior at the eastern gateway to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The town may be small, but it has a big heart and will be your base camp to explore the surrounding area. One thing this area is known for, are all the beautiful agates just waiting to be found. Visit the Gitchee Gumee Agate and History Museum to start your hunt. The first thing we would recommend doing is heading to the Agate Cross Bed and Breakfast. It’s a beautiful base from which to explore this beautiful place.

Best place for a hike:

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Best photo op:

The Log Slide

Best museum:

The Pickle Barrel House

Stock up on supplies:

Grand Marais Outfitters

Can’t miss it:

Au Sable Lighthouse

Best night out:

The Dunes Saloon and Lake Superior Brewing Company

DAY 7: St. Ignace and the straits of mackinac

2 hours/110 miles

Today you are going to leave the shores of Lake Superior for Lake Huron and the port city of St. Ignace. St. Ignace is the second-oldest city founded by Europeans in Michigan, and sits on the northern end of the Mackinac Bridge. The town is proud of its history, and shows it with the amazing number of festivals it holds each year. But more than that, it has a vibrant downtown with shops and boutiques that line State Street. One can’t miss experience is to take one of the ferries to Macinac Island. In fact, there is so much to do between these two communities, that you may want to seriously consider spending more than one day here. Stop in at the Chamber of Commerce to help guide you on your way.

Best place to get some culture:

The Museum of Ojibwa Culture

Best hike to a scenic view:

Castle Rock

Most unique experience:

The Mystery Spot

Best place for a stroll:

The Huron Boardwalk

Get a Yooper pastie:

Bessies Homemade Pasties

Best night out:

Biere De Mac Brewing

DAY 8: Alpena

2 hours/102 miles

Say goodbye to the Yoop as you travel the shore of Lake Huron to Alpena. Alpena is a unique town, in the fact that a marine sanctuary exists with the city limit’s. Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary encompasses 4,300 square miles of Lake Huron, protecting one of America’s best-preserved and nationally-significant collections of shipwrecks. But Alpena is also a bustling modern city of almost 11,000 people with numerous art galleries, museums and wineries. Nearby Thunder Bay Island has an amazing lighthouse and is worth the 13 mile trip by water.

Best place for outdoor recreation:

Rockport State Park

Best shopping:

The Center Building

Best place to get some culture:

The Besser Museum

Best place to view some wildlife:

Island Park and Wildlife Refuge

Best place to shop local:

Alpena Farmers Market

Best local beer:

Austin Bros. Beer Co.

DAY 9: Unwind in Tawas Bay

1.5 hours/70 miles

Known as the Sunrise Coast, Tawas Bay is known for giving its visitor’s one very important thing; the ability to relax and unwind in one of the most tranquil settings in America. Made up of the small communities of Tawas CityEast TawasOscoda and Au Sable, The Tawas Bay area is all about stopping to smell the breeze off Lake Huron.  And the best place to start is the Tawas Bay Beach Resort. The name of the game in the Tawas Bay area is all about strolling the miles of beaches, shoes in hand, cares left behind.

Best place for a stroll:

Shoreline Park

Best outdoor recreation:

Tawas Point State Park

Best scenic drive:

River Road Scenic Drive

Most eclectic museum:

Wurtsmith Air Museum

Best way to see the coast:

Au Sable River Queen

Best way to dine on a cruise:

Charity Island Dinner Cruise

DAY 10: Bay City

1.5 hours/70 miles

Its back to the bright lights and big city, Bay City, Michigan. We’re going to give it to you straight–this is a really fun town. From the river walks to the museums to the thumping downtown area and the numerous city parks, Bay City truly has a little something for everyone. Your first stop should be the Bay County Chamber of Commerce in downtown Bay City. They will have all the information you need to explore the town.

Can’t miss it:

Center Avenue Historic District

Best museum:

Saginaw Valley Naval Museum

Best place to stock up on candy:

St. Laurent Brothers Candy

Bet place to shop local:

City Market

Get out on the water:

BaySail

Best place for dinner:

Old City Hall

DAY 11: Traverse City

2.5 hours/140 miles

Fancy a cherry? Well then you have come to the right place. Traverse City is the largest producer of Tart Cherries in the United States. Near the time of cherry harvest, the city hosts the annual week-long National Cherry Festival in the first full week of July, attracting approximately 500,000 visitors annually. The surrounding countryside also produces grapes, and is one of the centers of wine production in the Midwest. Not bad for a city of around 15,000. Traverse City also runs the gamut of outdoor activities, mixed with a city that is all about things to do. How great is Traverse City? It has been named the Number 2 small town travel destination in the United States by Trip Advisor. Not too shabby at all. The first thing we would recommend doing when you get into town is head to the The Village at Grand Commons. It is a great introduction to all things Traverse City.

Best way to see the city:

KaBrew! Kayak brewery tour

Best museum:

Dennos Museum Center

Best hike:

Manistee River Trail

Best shopping experience:

Downtown Traverse City

Can’t miss it:

Mission Point Lighthouse

Best place to find amazing food and craft cocktails:

FireFly

DAY 12: muskegon

2 hours 45 minutes /219 miles

With 27 miles of beaches and dunes, Muskegon is a truly of a water recreationist’s paradise. It;s the largest city on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. While technically located on Lake Muskegon, the city has access to Lake Michigan through a narrow channel at Muskegon State Park. The harbor areas around Lake Muskegon are a simply fantastic way to spend some time, though one are that you can’t miss would be Harbor Town, located on the spit of land between Lake Muskegon and Lake Michigan. And while you are there, make sure you check out Docker’s Fishhouse and Lounge. Its a great place to watch the boats.

Cant miss it:

USS Silversides Submarine Museum

One of a kind experience:

The Monet Gardens of Muskegon

Best hike:

PJ Hoffmaster State Park

Best place to catch the sunset:

Pere Marquette Park

Best shopping area:

Downtown Muskegon

Best place for dinner:

The Hearthstone

DAY 13 and 14: To Chicago and the Windy City

3 hours/187 miles

Chicago is a world-class city, though one that is somewhat peripheral due to its location away from the coasts. This perhaps makes the city even better, though, as Chicago has retained much of its local culture and history over the centuries. There is enough to do in Chicago that one could easily spend a week sightseeing there, but if you only are dedicating a couple days to the city, you can easily concentrate your time on the key attractions. As the city is fairly spread out, you could pick a neighborhood to concentrate on – like the famous Loop, or the less traveled PilsenUkrainian VillageLogan Square and Wicker Park – or ping pong around the city by public transit to see Cloud Gate and Millennium Park, the Magnificent Mile, the Field MuseumGarfield Park Conservatory and other deservedly known places. There is a lot to explore in Chicago and anywhere you go will be worthwhile.

Best place to get some culture:

The Art Institute of Chicago

Best American experience:

Watch the Cubbies play at Wrigley Field

Best place for a stroll:

Lakefront Trail

Best place to catch the blues:

The House of Blues

Best Chicago style deep dish pizza:

Gino’s East

Best neighborhood:

Streeterville



The Golden Coast of Southern California

The Golden Coast of Southern California

The land of movie stars, celebrities, walks of fame and the golden coast, Southern California is known the world around as a premier destination, but Southern California is so much more than just the golden coast, and in this itinerary we are going to take you inland as well to experience everything SoCal has to offer.

golden-coast


#thisismyroute

Prepared by:
James

States:
california

Start/End:
los angeles

Total miles:
1,800

Suggested days:
At least 16

Type:
scenic road trip

Recommended for: 
First-timers to the United States, honeymooners, photographers, road trippers,

Suggested season: 
year round

Overview

From the shores of the Pacific Ocean to the stunning Eastern Desert, this route is perfect for those who want to experience the beauty of the open road and some of America’s most untamed areas. In other words, you will get to experience a true American road trip that includes the sun-soaked beaches, nightlife and celebrity-infused attractions of the land of Hollywood, intriguing desert towns and unimaginable scenery. You will begin by arriving at Los Angeles International Airport. We have no doubt that you are going to want to spend a few days in this city of 4 million. But…save it for the end of the trip, when you have a chance to unwind and relax after your epic SoCal road trip. On this trip many of the drives between towns will be relatively short, but when you get to the eastern part of the state, the drives will stretch out a bit, so be prepared for this. Through the course of this trip you be traveling through two distinct geographical climates.  This will be a trip of a lifetime, so get in, buckle up and shift that car into drive. You are about to experience some of the best the United States has to offer.

How to Prepare

We recommend approximately 16 days for this trip in order to experience each town and activity without feeling too rushed. You have a lot of miles to cover, so we suggest spending at minimum a day at each stop.  This itinerary is full of suggestions of some of the best places to fully experience the area, with overnight stops in the towns along the way. Plan your trip accordingly so that you experience the places that spark your interest the most. These areas can be crowded in the summertime, and for good reason. There are multiple events and the weather is beautiful. Wintertime is still beautiful in these places, however, you are more likely to run into wet weather and many of the outdoor experiences that you have in the nicer weather will not be available.. On the other hand, summertime temps in these places can often exceed 100 degrees, so take that into account as you decide your travel dates. The majority of this trip will be short drives between stops, but this is to allow you the most time at all the amazing places that you have traveled so far to see. Though this itinerary is a day to day guide, it is only a guide and you should feel free to adapt it however you want, taking as much time as you need to fully experience this wonderful part of the world.

DAY 1: land in los angeles, head to Santa Barbara

golden-coast

1.5 hours/95 miles

This is a shorter day for a good reason. We suggest arriving early into LA and renting your car from the airport and setting out north toward your first stop, Santa Barbara. It is the perfect town to get prepared and excited to start your road trip. With the Santa Ynez Mountains as dramatic backdrop, Santa Barbara has a great Downtown, with Mediterranean-style white stucco buildings that reflect the city’s Spanish colonial heritage. Upscale boutiques and restaurants offering local wines and seasonal fare line State Street. On a nearby hill, Mission Santa Barbara, founded in 1786, houses Franciscan friars and a museum. The best place to start your Santa Barbara Tour would of course be the Santa Barbara Visitor Center.

Best way to see Santa Barbara:

Self-Guided Wine Tour

Best place for a swim:

Arroyo Burro Beach

Best place to watch the sunset:

Stearns Wharf

Best place to shop local:

The Funk Zone

Best selfie:

Moreton Bay Fig Tree

Best place for dinner:

The Boathouse

DAY 2: san luis obispo

1 hour 39 minutes/94 miles

From Santa Barbara you are going to head north on the 101 to one of California’s hidden gems, San Luis Opisbo. Nestled in the heart of the Central Coast Wine Country, SLO is the unofficial headquarters for the region, with towns like Los Osos, Morro Beach and Oceano within striking distance and well worth a visit. The Los Padres National Forest is juts outside of town and have numerous trails to explore the region. One can’t miss stop once you get into town is Bubblegum Alley. Yep, its an entire alley lined with chewed bubblegum.

Best hike:

Bishop Peak

Can’t miss it:

Mission Plaza

Visit a waterfall:

Reservoir Canyon

Best place to get a little history:

Dallidet Adobe and Gardens

Best place to see wildlife:

The Whale Trail

Best place for dinner:

NoVo Restaurant

DAY 3: Salinas and Monterey Bay

1.5 hours/67 miles

As you continue north on Highway 1 toward Salinas, you have two stops that you have to make. The first stop is in the town of  Cayucos for breakfast at Bill and Carol’s Sea Shanty. The breakfasts here are as amazing at the name suggests. Your second stop will be in San Simeon and Hearst Castle. Built between 1919 and 1947, Hearst Castle was the joint concept of William Randolph Hearst, the publishing tycoon, and his architect Julia Morgan. Listed as a a National Historic Landmark and California Historical Landmark, the castle is well worth a visit.

Best hike:

Fort Ord National Monument

Best place for wildlife watching: 

Salinas River Wildlife Refuge

Can’t miss it:

The Steinbeck Center

Most eclectic shopping:

Cannery Row

Best place for a stroll:

Fisherman’s Wharf

Best place for seafood:

Sea Harbor Fish Market

DAY 4: Fresno

golden-coast

2.5 hour/132 miles

Fresno is located in the beautiful San Joaquin Valley, near the golden coast, and is the jewel of California’s agricultural heartland, the Central Valley. Originally founded in 1872 as a stop on the Central Pacific Railroad, today Fresno is a metropolitan city with a population of around 500,000. Home to California State University, Fresno is a fun college town with a sophisticated air. One point of interest and a must visit is the Forestiere Underground Gardens. Created in the early 1900s, the gardens consist of Roman-catacombs-inspired subterranean passages and courtyards. Fresno is a multi-cultural city with a number of distinct neighborhoods that highlight its diversity.  One can’t miss park is the sprawling, trail-lined Woodward Park is home to the Shinzen Japanese Garden. Its a great place to stretch your legs.

Best place for a stroll:

The Blossom Trail

Must see:

St George Greek Orthodox Church

Best place to shop local:

Vineyard Farmers Market

Best historical selfie:

Fresno Water Tower

Can’t miss food:

Mediterranean Grill and Cafe

Best Local Beer:

Tioga Sequoia Brewing Company

DAY 5: The Bakersfield Sound

golden-coast

2 hours/110 miles

Located on the banks of the Kern River, Bakersfield has an important place in the annals of American music. It all started in 1954 with Wynn Stewart. Known as the Bakersfield Sound, it was the first genre of country music to be significantly influenced by rock and roll, and as a result, the first to rely heavily on electric instrumentation and a defined backbeat The Bakersfield sound became one of the most popular and influential country genres of the 1960s, initiating a revival of honky-tonk music and influencing musical icons like Merle HaggardCreedence Clearwater Revival and the Grateful Dead. Bakersfield keeps that tradition close today with numerous honky-tonk bars and music festivals. In addition to the fantastic music scene, Bakersfield is a great outdoor town with numerous recreation opportunities located right outside of town in the Sequoia National Forest.

Best place for a hike:

Badger Gap

Can’t miss it:

Buck Owens Crystal Palace

Best place to shop or farm local:

Murray Family Farms

Best place to see some wildlife:

California Living Museum

Eat some Basque cuisine:

Wool Growers

Go honky-tonkin:

Rustic Rail

DAY 6: barstow and the inland empire

2 hours 20 minutes/130 miles

Once a small mining center and railroad town in California’s Mojave Desert, Barstow today is known as the commercial, cultural and economic hub of the Inland Empire. Barstow is a great starting point when touring the western Mojave Desert. Outdoor explorers, amateur geologists and hikers enjoy nearby Rainbow Basin and Owl Canyon CampgroundAfton Canyon, and the beautiful Kelso Dunes. Fancy a trip into the past? Check out the Calico Early Man Site,the historic Harvey House Depot, or the Calico Ghost Town, a restored silver mining town. Ever thought about exploring an abandoned and haunted water park in the middle of the desert? Then check out, Lake Dolores.  After all your outdoor adventures, head to Barstow Station. Family owned and operated since 1973, it’s a great place to stock up on supplies.

Best place for a hike:

Castle Mountains

Best photo op:

The Giant Fire Helmet

Best museum:

Route 66 Museum

Best Americana throwback:

Skyline Drive-In Movie Theater

Can’t miss it:

Main Street Murals

Best taco in town:

Lola’s Kitchen

DAY 7: needles

2 hours/117 miles

Named for the nearby pointed mountain peaks, Needles was founded in 1883 to support the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. The city’s location along the Western bank of the Colorado River, which serves as the California/Arizona border, was once its major draw. As in John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, it was an important stopping point for travelers entering the golden coast of California in search of opportunity during the Dust Bowl era. Today, Needles is an eclectic little desert town straddling the gap between history and the future. The first thing we would recommend doing when you get into Needles is to the Pirate Cove Resort. It’s a great place to cool off after your road trip through the desert.

Best place for wildlife:

Havasu Wildlife Refuge

Can’t miss it:

Mystic Maze

Best place to get some jerky:

Gus’ Really Good Jerky

Best way to experience the desert:

Dead Mountains Wilderness Area

Best historical experience:

El Garces Train Station

Can’t miss dinner:

The Riverfront Cafe

DAY 8 and 9: Joshua Tree National Park and the Coachella Valley

3 hours/160 miles

You may have heard the Coachella because of the international music festival that takes place here every year, but there is so much more to this remarkable area. The first is of course Joshua Tree National Park. Named for the region’s twisted, bristled Joshua trees, the park straddles the cactus-dotted Colorado Desert and the Mojave Desert, this is a one-of-a-kind place that is well worth a full day’s visit. When you get to Coachella, get a room at the Turtle Back Mesa.  After that, head to the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. It’s well worth a visit to this golden coast location.

Best outdoor experience:

Tahquitz Canyon

Can’t miss it:

Cabot’s Pueblo Museum

Best place for a stroll:

Old Town La Quinta

Best photo op:

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Best chance to see a ghost:

Palm Springs Ghost Tour

Best dining experience:

Birba

DAY 10: Through the Salton Sea to San diego

3 hours 15 minutes/153 miles

Today you heading to the Pacific Ocean, but before you do, there is one body of water that you need to see. The Salton Sea was formed between 1905 and 1907 when the Colorado River burst through poorly built irrigation controls south of Yuma, Arizona. Almost the entire flow of the river filled the Salton Basin for more than a year, inundating communities, farms and the main line of the Southern Pacific Railroad. In its heyday, the Salton Sea was a getaway for celebrities and the wealthy, but as the lake started to dry up, the crowds left and it now exists as a ghost town. The best place to stop to understand this geographical history would be the Salton Sea Visitor’s Center. If you are interested in touring a winery in southern California’s golden coast, you should stop in Temecula, the only known winery area in Southern California. Once you arrive in San Diego, we recommend staying overnight near the Gaslamp district or right by the Pacific Ocean.

Best place for breakfast:

Farm of Palm Spings

Best kept secret:

Temecula Vineyards

Best ghostly experience:

The Whaley House

Go for an ocean swim:

La Jolla Beach

Can’t miss it:

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park

Treat yourself in San Diego:

The Gaslamp Quarter

DAY 11: San Diego

2.5 hours/140 miles

Welcome to San Diego. There is so much to do in this town, that it would hard to cover here, so what we would recommend is to start your day at the San Diego Visitor’s Center. They will have everything you need to get the most out of your stay on the golden coast.

Best place for breakfast:

Breakfast Republic

Can’t Miss it

San Diego Zoo

Best beach town:

Carlsbad

Tour an aircraft Carrier

USS Midway Museum

Best Fish Taco:

Taco Surf Taco Shop

Best kept secret:

The seals at La Jolla Cove

DAY 12: san Diego to Santa Monica

3 hours/150 miles

 Today’s priority? Just enjoy the beautiful southern California coast. With charming, golden coast, beach towns to visit like Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Venice Beach, and Santa Monica, this won’t be difficult.  The first thing you are going to need to do though is get breakfast. Head to Swami’s Cafe in Carlsbad for the best breakfast west of the Mississippi. Then, take Interstate 5 north along the Pacific Coast from San Diego to Los Angeles. This scenic drive will give you the feeling and vibe of Southern California, with the lush vegetation along the coast and the crazy traffic on the freeways: two things that definitely characterize it.  Stop in Oceanside for a quick walk along the coast, then take Hwy 1 past San Clemente, to your stop for the night in Santa Monica.

Best viewpoints on the coast:

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Best place to shop:

Fashion Island-Newport Beach

Can’t Miss it:

Venice Beach

Best place for a stroll:

Santa Monica Pier

Best Taco:

Casa Martin

Best place to stay:

Casa Del Mar

DAY 13: Los angeles and Fabulous Hollywood

1.5 hours/50 miles

In the morning, you might consider a quick run along the golden coast before heading to Los Angeles to see the world famous Universal Studios, where classic films and television shows are brought to vivid life around you, and you might even run into some movie stars. In the evening, check out some iconic Hollywood locations, such as the Kodak Theater and the Walk of Fame, where celebrities have been honored for decades with their names imprinted on glossy stone stars embedded in the sidewalk. During the evening, take Sunset Boulevard into Beverly Hills, then follow this scenic drive head back to Santa Monica.

Best photo op:

The Hollywood Sign from Canyon Lake Drive

Best place to see a celebrity:

The Hollywood Roosevelt

Can’t Miss it:

Rodeo Drive

Best place for a stroll:

El Pueblo de Los Angeles

Best local tradition:

In-n-Out Burger

Best place to shop:

The Grove



West Texas and the Legend of Pecos Bill

West Texas and the Legend of Pecos Bill

TEXAS IS A BIG STATE. HOW BIG? ALMOST 270,000 SQUARE MILES BIG. ITS SO BIG, YOU COULD FIT SLOVENIA, AUSTRIA, LUXEMBOURG, THE CZECH REPUBLIC, SWITZERLAND, MACEDONIA, BELGIUM, SLOVAKIA AND MACEDONIA INSIDE ITS BORDERS. THAT’S TEXAS. IN THIS ITINERARY WE ARE GOING TO TAKE YOU THROUGH THE northern PART OF THE STATE, the famous Llano Escatado AND DOWN to the border areas of the Rio Grande.


#thisismyroute

Prepared by:
James

States:
West Texas

Start/End:
Dallas, Texas

Total miles:
1,800

Suggested days:
At least 14

Type:
scenic road trip

Recommended for: 
First-timers to the United States, honeymooners, photographers, road trippers, history buffs

Suggested season: 
year round

Overview

Pecos Bill, in American folklore, cowboy hero of the Pecos River region of Texas who was an exaggerated personification of Western stamina and values; his vivid exploits are analogous to those of the legendary giant lumberjack Paul Bunyan of the North Woods. The theme of Pecos Bill is to be ready for whatever life throws at you, and to never give up, and that idea embodies the spirit of West Texas. When you think of Texas, more times than not your thoughts are drawn to the dusty plains where vast open spaces are long between water holes and cowboys and bandits and quick-draw lawmen are sharing dusty saloons.  While that western spirit encapsulates Texas in American history, West Texas is also a place of modern cities, eclectic and dynamic communities and, of course, the birthplace of outlaw country.  This route is perfect for those who want to experience the culture and beauty of West Texas.

How to Prepare

We recommend approximately 14 days for this trip in order to experience each town and activity without feeling too rushed. We recommend approximately 14 days for this trip in order to experience each town and activity without feeling too rushed. You have a lot of miles to cover, so we suggest spending at minimum a day at each stop. This itinerary is full of suggestions of some of the best places to fully experience the area, with overnight stops in the towns along the way. Plan your trip accordingly so that you experience the places that spark your interest the most. These areas can be crowded in the summertime, and for good reason. There are multiple events and the weather is beautiful. Wintertime is still beautiful in these places, but the outdoor life that typifies West Texas Culture will not be as active. On the other hand, summertime temps in these places can often exceed 100 degrees, so take that into account as you decide your travel dates. The majority of this trip will be short drives between stops, but this is to allow you the most time at all the amazing places that you have traveled so far to see. Though this itinerary is a day to day guide, it is only a guide and you should feel free to adapt it however you want, taking as much time as you need to fully experience this wonderful part of the world.

West Texas DAY 1: land in Dallas-Fort Worth, travel to Wichita Falls

2 hours/140 miles

This is a shorter day for a good reason. We suggest arriving early into DFW International Airport and renting your car from the airport and setting out west toward your first stop, Wichita Falls. It is the perfect town to get prepared and excited to start your road trip. The first thing you need to do when you get into town, is head to Whataburger. Generally on these Itineraries we try to send you to locally-owned establishments, but Whataburger is such a Texas institution, that we figured just this once wouldn’t hurt.

Best place to shop:

Alley Cat Mercantile

Best place for a stroll:

The Falls in Lucy Park

Most unique museum:

Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame

Best place to get back to nature:

Riverbend Nature Cener

Can’t Miss It:

The World’s Littlest Skyscrapers

Best place for a local beer:

Wichita Falls Brewing Company

West Texas DAY 2: Sweet Amarillo

3.5 hours/224 miles

As far as we can tell, there are around 25 songs about Amarillo, Texas. There is just something about this town that inspires people to sing its virtues. And speaking of inspiration, if you are looking for something to sing your own song about, head to Palo Duro Canyon. The second biggest canyon system in the United States, this dramatic 60-mile long and 800-foot deep canyon is noted for its excellent hiking, birding, fishing and mountain biking. If you happen to be in Amarillo during the summertime, one can’t-miss event is to catch a show at the TEXAS Outdoor Musical. It’s an event you won’t soon forget.

Best hike:

The Lighthouse Trail

Can’t miss it:

Cadillac Ranch

Get some culture:

Kwahadi Museum of the American Indian

Best place to stretch your legs:

Historic Downtown Amarillo

Best place to shop local:

Alley Katz Antique Emporium

Best place to grab dinner and a drink:

The Metropolitan Speakeasy

West Texas DAY 3: Buddy Holly’s Hometown

west-texas

2 hours/120 miles

Lubbock is, hands down, the most underrated music town in Texas. Hometown of the Rock n’ Roll legend Buddy Holly, Lubbock celebrates that music royalty in the top-notch Buddy Holly Center. Today Lubbock has become a mecca for the Alt-Country boom and bands from all over the country come to Lubbock to be a part of this dynamic city’s music scene. Clubs like the Blue LightBackstage Lubbock and The Cactus Room play host to this musical heritage with all kinds of live music and shows.  One thing we would recommend is to get a room at the Woodrow House. It’s a great bed and breakfast and if you want, they have a restored Santa Fe Railroad Caboose you can stay in.

Go for a swim:

Buffalo Springs Lake

Best museum: 

National Ranching Heritage Center

Can’t miss it:

Prairie Dog Town

Get some cowboy duds:

The Branding Iron

Best place for dinner

Abuelo’s

Best place to have a great night out:

The Depot District

West Texas DAY 4: Abilene

3 hours/170 miles

Known as the Friendly Frontier, Abilene, like many of the towns in Western Texas, got its start as a cattle town. Today it is a vibrant town with a population of 120,000. The county seat of Taylor County, Abilene is home to a number of colleges and is known for its fun and vibrant downtown area.  One thing you can’t miss in Abilene is the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature. It’s a great museum and will take you back to your childhood.

Get some culture:

The Grace Museum

Must see:

Fort Phantom Hill

Best place to shop:

La Villa

Best historical walk:

Historical Downtown Walking Tour

Best steak in Texas:

Lyttle Land and Cattle Co.

Best Local Beer:

SockdoLager Brewery

West Texas DAY 5: Odessa and the Midlands

1.5 hours/77 miles

Odessa is said to have been named after Odessa, Ukraine, because of the local shortgrass prairie’s resemblance to Ukraine’s steppe landscape. Its not hard to see why, located on the eastern edge of the Llano Estacado, Odessa has been named the 3rd fastest growing city in the United States and that growth has been represented in a surge of culture, art and excitement. One of the first things you should do when you get into town is head to the Sherwood and Woodson Parks Aquatic Center. It’s a great place to cool off before you head out on the town.

Best out-of-this-world experience:

Odessa Meteor Crater

Can’t miss it:

Stonehenge Replica

Best place to shop local:

The Briar Patch

Best historical re-created experience:

The Globe Theater

Get some Tex-Mex:

Rosa’s Cafe

Sing a little country music:

Neon Moon Karaoke Lounge

West Texas DAY 6-7: Guadalupe National Park and El Paso

west-texas

2 hours

This is going to be a longer day but with good reason. On your way to El Paso you are going on a slight detour to visit one of the loneliest national parks in the lower 48, Guadalupe Mountains National Park.  There are a number of thing to do here, which is why we recommend spending the entire day here before heading on to El Paso, and exploring the city the next day. A border town, El Paso is home to a major universitynumerous cultural activities and, as it’s along the flowing Rio Grande, many potential outdoor opportunities. If you decide to take a trip into Old Mexico, here are some things you need to know.

Crossing into Ciudad Juarez

Historic district:

El Centro

Shop local:

El Paso Downtown Artist and Farmer’s Market

Challenge yourself:

The Thousand Steps Trail

Take a stroll and maybe see a ghost:

Concordia Cemetery

Best Tex-Mex in El Paso:

L&J Cafe

Learn how to Line Dance:

Little Bit of Texas

West Texas DAY 8-10: Big Bend National Park

6 hours/340 miles

You have a long drive of several hours to reach your next destination, the spectacular landscapes of Big Bend National Park. In a sense, this is one of the best ways to experience the magnitude of Texas, as you will drive through hundreds of miles of flat desert expanse to reach the park, which is nestled along the border with Mexico. This park is especially significant as it is the largest protected area of Chihuahuan Desert topography and ecology in the United States. The park – which sprawls over 800,000 acres – is host to more than 1200 species of plants, 450 species of birds, 56 species of reptiles and 75 species of mammals. Backpacking, horseback riding, bird watching and fishing are all popular within this desert paradise. The first place you should stop is at the Panther Junction Visitor Center. Plan on spending at least a couple of days in Big Bend to take it all in.

Best breakfast burrito in Austin:

Mi Madre’s

Can’t miss it:

Whataburger in Del Rio

Stock up on supplies before Big Bend:

The French Co. Grocer in Marathon

Best desert hike:

Chimneys Trail

Best river hike:

Hot Springs Trail

Best desert hike:

Lost Mine Trail

West Texas DAY 11: Refresh in Marfa

west-texas

3.5 hours/135 Miles

To get a dose of high culture in an unexpected place, head a couple of hours north to Marfa, a tiny West Texas town that has become a cultural mecca in recent years. What was for decades a sleepy old military town became a mark on the art-world’s map when minimalist sculptor Donald Judd bought numerous buildings in Marfa to turn into studio and living spaces in the 1970s. Today, though still quite rural, the town is host to many world-famous art institutions like the Chinati Foundation, the Judd Foundation and the Lannan Foundation, as well as a handful of smaller galleries and shops. The town has retained its mid-century looks over the years and many Hollywood movies are filmed here to evoke that time. There are, surprisingly, a few stellar places to eat in this middle-of-nowhere locale.

Soak your muscles:

Chinati Hot Springs

Stock up on reading material:

Marfa Book Company

Can’t miss it:

Prada Marfa

Have an Alien experience:

The Marfa Lights

Best place to eat:

Boyz2Men

Fun night out:

Lost Horse Saloon

West Texas DAY 12: San Angelo

4 hours/260 miles

Today we are sharing a secret with you. And that secret is San Angelo. Located on the banks of the Concho River, the town is known as an oasis in the heart of West Texas. There are an abundance of things to do. Fort Concho National Historic Landmark has restored buildings and displays original artifacts and weapons. The Concho River Walk is a long, green corridor with walking trails, gardens and parks, such as The Bosque and Kids’ KingdomDowntown Concho Avenue is lined with restored 19th- and 20th-century period buildings and has unique boutiques and shops.  San Angelo is a just a really great town, and that’s all there is to it!

Can’t miss it:

Miss Hattie’s Bordello

Best outdoor recreation:

San Angelo State Park

Great place to take a stroll:

International Waterlily Collection

Most eclectic visit:

Chicken Farm Art Center

Best place to shop local:

Fourth Avenue

Best Place for local beer:

SoCo Taphouse

West Texas DAY 13-14: d-town and the metroplex

west-texas

1.5 hours/90 miles

Welcome to Dallas!  Long associated as the financial heart of the Texas Oil Boom, the town has grown a lot from it’s wild younger days. It is now a city that prides itself on its dedication to history and culture. Downtown’s Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza commemorates the site of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963. In the Arts District, the Dallas Museum of Art is a world-renowned institution. Dallas has a number of great and eclectic neighborhoods all waiting for you to explore. Though Dallas is a great town, make sure you leave time for Fort Worth. Originally the last stop on the Chisolm Trail, today, it’s a modern city.  Fort Worth has acclaimed museums, fantastic modern architecture and an array of wonderful dining and shopping opportunities.  The Fort Worth Stockyards are home to rodeos, and the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame honors the pioneers that made this area great.

Best place to get some culture:

Kimbell Art Museum

Take a ride on a roller coaster:

Six Flags Over Texas

Take a hike:

Fort Worth Nature Center

Best place get outside:

Klyde Warren Park

Can’t miss it:

Dallas World Aquarium

Put on your dancing boots:

Billy Bob’s Texas Honky Tonk



Things to do in East Texas and the Gulf Coast

East Texas and the Gulf Coast

Texas is a big state. How big? Almost 270,000 square miles big. Its so big, you could fit Slovenia, Austria, Luxembourg, The Czech Republic, Switzerland, Macedonia, Belgium, Slovakia and Macedonia inside its borders. That’s Texas. In this itinerary we are going to take you through the Eastern Part of the state and down into the Gulf.


#thisismyroute

Prepared by:
James

States:
East Texas

Start/End:
Dallas-Ft. Worth

Total miles:
1,800

Suggested days:
At least 14

Type:
scenic road trip

Recommended for: 
First-timers to the United States, honeymooners, photographers, road trippers, Music buffs, Foodies

Suggested season: 
year round

Overview

This route is perfect for those who want to experience the culture and beauty of East Texas. When you think of Texas, more times than not your thoughts are drawn to the dusty plains where vast open spaces are long between water holes and cowboys and bandits and quick-draw lawmen are sharing dusty saloons. But that is West Texas, East Texas is a land of sparkling lakes and Big Piney woods that stretch on for miles. It’s a land of green trees and BBQ that like of which you have never had before. It’s the kind of place where on any given evening, on any given porch on any given main street business, you’ll find live music. In this itinerary you will start and end in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and from there you will be following the eastern border all the way down to the very tip of Texas, before making your way back up north through Texas Hill Country.

How to Prepare

We recommend approximately 14 days for this trip in order to experience each town and activity without feeling too rushed. You have a lot of miles to cover, so we suggest spending at minimum a day at each stop.  This itinerary is full of suggestions of some of the best places to fully experience the area, with overnight stops in the towns along the way. Plan your trip accordingly so that you experience the places that spark your interest the most. These areas can be crowded in the summertime, and for good reason. There are multiple events and the weather is beautiful. Wintertime is still beautiful in these places, but the outdoor life that typifies East Texas Culture will not be as active. On the other hand, summertime temps in these places can often exceed 100 degrees, so take that into account as you decide your travel dates. The majority of this trip will be short drives between stops, but this is to allow you the most time at all the amazing places that you have traveled so far to see. Though this itinerary is a day to day guide, it is only a guide and you should feel free to adapt it however you want, taking as much time as you need to fully experience this wonderful part of the world.

DAY 1: land in DFW, travel to Paris

1 hour 52 minutes/112 miles

This is a shorter day for a good reason. We suggest arriving early into Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport and renting your car from the airport and setting out east toward your first stop, Paris. It is the perfect town to get prepared and excited to start your road trip.  Paris sits on the edge of the Piney-Woods region of East Texas, is a great way to acclimate yourself to the region’s unique culture. One of the first things we recommend doing when you get into Paris is to head to the Eifel Tower (yes we are still talking about Paris, Texas, it has a red cowboy hat on it) and get a selfie. It would be a great way to kick off your trip.

Can’t miss it:

Culbertson Fountain and Paris Town Square

Best museum:

Lamar County Historical Museum

Best historical site:

Sam Bell Maxey House

Best place to stretch your legs:

Trail De Paris

Best place for dinner:

107 Texas

Best place to catch some live music:

Buffalo Joe’s

DAY 2: The Oldest Town In Texas

3.5 hours /180 miles

Nacadoches is a great town, one that combines the two distinct cultures of the Hispanic and the Southern, and does it in a seamless way. The reason why they call it the Oldest Town in Texas, is because there is evidence the area has been continually inhabited for over 10,000 years starting with the Cado Indian Tribe. Before you roll into Nacadoches, though you have two stops to make. The first stop is to Sulpher Springs so you can visit the only public bathroom in the America with see-through walls. It is of course totally up to you whether or not you would like to use these bathrooms…but stop and see you must! The second stop will be in Tyler. Make sure you have and appetite, because you are going to eat at possibility the best BBQ joint in the world, Stanley’s.  Once you pull into Nacadoches, head to the Fredonia Hotel for the night. You won’t regret it.

Best short hike:

Lanana Creek Trail

Can’t miss it:

General Mercantile and Old Time String Shop

Take a trip through history:

Millard’s Crossing

Best place to stretch your legs:

Historic Downtown Nacadoches

Best place to see some wildlife:

Angelina National Forest

Best place for dinner:

Macklemore’s

DAY 3: Beaumont and the Port Arthur Coast

3 hours/118 miles

Today you are going to get a chance to see Texas Untamed. Your route is going to take you on Highway 103 through Angelina National Forest and the Sabine to Milam. The Sabine has a storied history in East Texas. Located right on the border with Louisiana, it was the haunt of smugglers and bootleggers and now is home to countless bayou-centric wildlife. When you get to Milam, head to Martin’s Corner and get you some fried fish straight from the banks of the Sabine. From Milam, head down Highway 87 to Beumont and Port Arthur. Head to Port Arthur first and Texas Point to get your first look at the Gulf of Mexico.

Best Museum-Port Arthur:

Museum of the Gulf Coast

Best scenic drive-Port Arthur: 

Rainbow Bridge

Can’t miss it-Port Arthur:

Buu Mon Buddhist Temple

Best place for a stroll:

Beaumont Botanical Gardens

Best place to people watch:

Historic Downtown Beaumont

Best place to have dinner:

Floyd’s Cajun Seafood

DAY 4 and 5: Space City

1.5 hours/109 miles

The biggest city in the biggest state in the lower 48. That is Houston in a nutshell. It prides itself on being at once a world-class metropolitan city with a hip, happening vibe. Home to around 2.4 million people and the location of the Johnson Space Center, the Museum District, the Art District, the Theater District and numerous fun neighborhoods with great boutique shopping and restaurants. As with any big town, your first stop should be to head downtown to the Visitor’s Center. As always, they will have any of the things you need to make your stay in Houston everything it can be.

Place a bet on a turtle race:

Little Woodrows

Best place for a stroll:

Buffalo Bayou

Best place to shop:

19th Street in the Heights

Take a side trip:

Galveston Island

Treat yourself:

Taste of Texas

Best night out:

Good Night Charlie’s

DAY 6: Corpus Christi

3.5 hours/230 miles

Today you are heading to the true gulf town of Corpus Christ. Sitting on the shore of Corpus Christi Bay, this is a true Texas town, in that it is an amalgamation of Hispanic and Anglo culture that makes Texas so unique. But we are going to send you on a little side quest to get there. When you get to Victoria, hang a left on Highway 87 and head to Port Lavaca. Once you get there, head to Don Julio’s and get breakfast. From Port Lavaca, head south on Highway 35, and follow the Gulf all the way into Corpus Christi. Upon arrival, head to the Emerald Bay Hotel. It’s right on the beach and a beautiful place to stay.

Best place to experience the gulf:

Mustang Island State Park

Can’t miss it:

Padre Island National Seashore

Best shopping experience:

The Outlets at Corpus Christi Bay

Best place for a stroll:

Corpus Christi Seawall

Best seafood in town:

Black Diamond Oyster Bar

Best night out:

Cassidy’s Irish Pub

DAY 7: the Rio Grande Valley and SOuth Padre

1 hour 45 minutes/95 miles

Today you are headed south to the Delta of the Rio Grande and Brownsville. Make time for a breakfast stop at Mr. Jaime’s Taqueria in Kingsville. They have the best breakfast in town. Once you get into Brownsville, you will realize first hand that you are definitely in a border town, not because of the dynamic cross-cultural vibe of the city, but because you can see the evidence of the border between the countries by heading to Alice Hope Wilson Park. It will give you great views of the border wall, the Rio Grande and Mexico beyond.  One side-trip that you can’t miss is to South Padre Island. South Padre is not just a party stop for college students on Spring Break. It’s a world renowned sanctuary for wildlife of all kinds. One can’t be missed experience would be the turtles at Sea Turtle, Inc. This rehabilitation and conservation organization will  be an educational highlight. Speaking of things to do in East Texas, make you sure you swing by Pier 19 for the best seafood in the coolest setting, period.

Best place for a hike:

Resaca De La Palma State Park

Best photo op:

Palo Alto Battlefield

Best museum:

Costume of the Americas

Best place to shop and find some treasures:

77 Flea Market

Best original dinner spot:

La Pampa

Best place for a stroll:

Mitte Cultural District

DAY 8: The Streets of Laredo

things to do in east texas

4.5 hours/200 miles

There is a song, written long ago, extolling the dangerous life of a cowboy on the Streets of Laredo. Sung by cowboy crooner Marty Robbins, it doesn’t really offer any insight into Laredo itself, but it’s still kinda neat. Anyways…Laredo sits right on the border with the Mexican town of Nuevo Laredo, but before you get there we are are going to take you on a little tour of the United States Border as it follows the Rio Grande. But you need to fuel up though, and the best spot for breakfast, hands down, is El Cortijo. After that, continue along Old Military Highway 281 until you reach the Santa Anna National Wildlife Refuge. It’s worth a stop and definitely remember to take your camera. Once you pull into Laredo, head to the La Posada Hotel.

Our itinerary does not extend any further south than Laredo, but you are right on the border, and if the pull of Mexico proves too much, here are some things you should know about crossing over.

Can’t Miss It:

St. Agustin Plaza

Best hike to a scenic view:

Lake Casa Blanca International State Park

Best place to shop:

Zaragoza Street

Best place for a stroll:

Carleen Bright Arboretum

Great little museum:

Republic of the Rio Grande

Can’t miss dinner:

Briskets and Beer Smokehouse

DAY 9 and 10: Remember the Alamo in San Antonio

2 hours/150 miles

San Antonio holds a unique place in the annals of American history. The Alamo, an 18th-century Spanish mission preserved as a museum, marks an infamous 1836 battle for Texan independence from Mexico. The defenders were wiped out, but the legend lives on in the famous battle cry, “Remember the Alalmo”.  But San Antonio is not the sum of its history, its a progressive, modern metropolis, in which, you are going to have a lot of fun. Speaking of fun, one thing you can’t miss is Six Flags Fiesta Texas. It is one the greatest amusements parks in the world. Though there is enough to do in San Antonio to last a lifetime, your first stop when you get to town should be the San Antonio River Walk. Filled with shops, restaurants and galleries, it is the cultural and economic hub of the city.

Most unique way to see the city:

The Sisters Grimm Ghost Tour

Can’t miss it:

Natural Bridge Caverns

Best historical hike:

Mission Trail

Best photo oppotunities:

San Antonio Botanical Gardens

Best taco in town:

Garcia’s

Best place for libations:

Durty Nelly’s Irish Pub and Piano Bar

DAY 11: The coolest Town in Texas

things to do in east texas

1 hour/80 miles

Your next stop is the hip town of Austin, the state capital and the home to the flagship campus of the University of Texas. Like Portland, San Francisco and Brooklyn, Austin is usually considered to be one of the epicenters for the Youth of America these days. Yet with nearly a million people within its borders, Austin has enough for everyone: a booming music scenecheap and tasty food, lots of unique shopping and cultural opportunities, and a unique local vibe around every corner.

Go for a swim:

Barton Springs

Best way to see Austin:

Austin in a Nutshell bike tour

Coolest street in the coolest town in Texas:

South Congress Street

Can’t miss it:

Museum of the Weird

Go for a stroll:

Wild Basin

Best Place for dinner:

The Salty Sow

DAY 12: the heart of texas

1.5 hours/100 miles

Founded in 1850 along the banks of the Brazos River, Waco has a long history as an important economic hub for the center of Texas. Today, Waco is the home of a number of one-of-a-kind museums like the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum and the Dr. Pepper Museum. Baylor University’s Mayborn Museum Complex includes a natural history museum and a historic village. One can’t miss experience is a visit to Waco Mammoth National Monument. After all that learning, head to Schmaltz’s Sandwich Shop to refuel.

Best place to find a hidden treasure:

The LaSalle Shops

Best place to get outside:

East Brazos Park

Best place to get a true American experience:

Heart of Texas Speedway

Best place to shop:

Magnolia Market

Best place for a stroll:

Downtown Waco

Best place for a burger and brew:

The Backyard

DAY 13 and 14: d-town and the metroplex

things to do in east texas

1.5 hours/90 miles

Welcome to Dallas!  Long associated as the financial heart of the Texas Oil Boom, the town has grown a lot from it’s wild younger days. It is now a city that prides itself on its dedication to history and culture. Downtown’s Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza commemorates the site of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963. In the Arts District, the Dallas Museum of Art is a world-renowned institution. Dallas has a number of great and eclectic neighborhoods all waiting for you to explore. Though Dallas is a great town, make sure you leave time for Fort Worth. Originally the last stop on the Chisolm Trail, today, it’s a modern city.  Fort Worth has acclaimed museums, fantastic modern architecture and an array of wonderful dining and shopping opportunities.  The Fort Worth Stockyards are home to rodeos, and the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame honors the pioneers that made this area great.

Best place to get some culture:

Kimbell Art Museum

Take a ride on a roller coaster:

Six Flags Over Texas

Take a hike:

Fort Worth Nature Center

Best place get outside:

Klyde Warren Park

Can’t miss it:

Dallas World Aquarium

Put on your dancing boots:

Billy Bob’s Texas Honky Tonk



Nevada’s Hidden Treasures

Nevada’s Hidden Treasures

With about 85 percent of their total land space firmly in the public domain, Nevada is one of the few states in the United States where you can roam free. In this itinerary, we are going to show you the whole of the state, from North To South, East to West, and a few hidden gems in between.


#thisismyroute

Prepared by:
James

States: 
Nevada

Start/End: 
Las Vegas, Nevada

Total miles:
1,600

Suggested days: 
At least 14

Type: 
scenic road trip

Recommended for: 
First-timers to the United States, honeymooners, photographers, road trippers, Ghost Hunters
Suggested season: 
year round

Overview

This route is perfect for those who want to experience the beauty of the open road and some of America’s most untamed areas. In other words, you will get to experience a true American road trip that includes old western ghost towns, intriguing American culture and unimaginable scenery, and of course, Vegas, Baby!  You will begin by arriving at McCarran International Airport. The bright lights of  Las Vegas and the myriad of fun things to do here will tempt you……but don’t be pulled by the seductive Siren Call of the Strip. Save it for the end of the trip, when you have a chance to unwind and relax after your epic Nevada road trip. Besides, you don’t want to take the chance that you gamble away all your gas money. On this trip many of the drives between towns will be around three hours, but when you get to the western part of the state, we would recommend finding a place to stay either in Reno or Carson City, and spending the next few days exploring the Sierra Towns of Virginia City, Silver City and the Lake Tahoe Region. Through the course of this trip you be travelling through some of the most vast expanses of the Lower 48. Eastern Nevada is a place of sun drenched stretches of rocky, rolling hills and flowering desert plains. It is a unique beauty, and one that will build lasting memories. So get in, buckle up and shift that car into drive. You are about to experience some of the best the United States has to offer.

How to Prepare

We recommend approximately 14 days for this trip in order to experience each town and activity without feeling too rushed. You have a lot of miles to cover, so we suggest spending at minimum, a day at each stop.  This itinerary is full of suggestions of some of the best places to fully experience the area, with overnight stops in the towns along the way. Plan your trip accordingly so that you experience the places that spark your interest the most. These areas can be crowded in the summertime, and for good reason. There are multiple events and the weather is beautiful. Wintertime is still beautiful in these places, however, because Nevada is a high desert climate, the chances of inclement weather making road driving dangerous is high.. On the other hand, summertime temps in these places can often exceed 100 degrees, so take that into account as you decide your travel dates. A good portion of this trip will be spent in the western and southern parts of the state, but don’t be in too big a rush to get there, take the time to enjoy all the amazing places that you have traveled so far to see, especially the unique mining and ghost towns. Though this itinerary is a day to day guide, it is only a guide and you should feel free to adapt it however you want, taking as much time as you need to fully experience this wonderful part of the world

DAY 1: land in Las Vegas, travel to Caliente

2.5 hours/130 miles

This is a shorter day for a good reason. We suggest arriving early into Las Vegas and renting your car from the airport and setting out east toward your first stop, Caliente. Caliente is the only incorporated town in Lincoln County and is a great first stop for you to acclimate to the splendor of Nevada. We would recommend one stop you make before you get into town is to stop for a selfie at the Extraterrestrial Highway where you turn onto U.S. 93. It will definitely be a talking point for your trip. 

Best place to stretch your legs:

Cathedral Gorge

Best museum:

Caliente Railroad Museum

Best place to soak your cares away:

Panaca Hot Springs

Best place to learn about Nevada:

Basin and Range National Monument

Can’t Miss It:

Delmar Ghost Town

Best place for dinner:

The Side Track

DAY 2: The Great Basin National Park and Ely

2 hours 13 minutes/130 miles

With Ely as your ultimate destination, you are going to make a right hand turn at the intersection of Highway 50 and head to one of the United State’s most remote and rarely visited National Parks, Great Basin National Park. Based around Nevada’s second tallest mountain, Wheeler Peak, Great Basin National Park is a vast expanse of desert ecology which does not exist in this capacity anywhere else in the world. To get the most out of your trip, your first stop should be to the Lehman Caves Visitor Center. They will help you on your way. After Great Basin, when you get into Ely, head to the Prospector Hotel and Gambling Hall. Along with a great night’s rest, you can test out your skills for Vegas.

Most unique experience:

Ward Charcoal Ovens

Can’t miss it:

Ely Renaissance Village

Shop local:

Garnet Mercantile

Best museum:

Northern Nevada Railway Museum

Eat a steak in an old jail cell:

The Cell Block

Have a drink and maybe sing a little karaoke:

Corner Tracks

DAY 3: Wendover Will and the bonneville Salt Flats

2 hours/120 miles

Have you ever seen a bullet-shaped race car hit 482.646 mph? Would you like to? The Bonneville Salt Flats would be the place to do it. First opened in 1911, the salt flats are located northeast of West Wendover and are a sight to behold. Stretching over 30,000 acres, the flats are exactly what the name says, straight, flat and staggeringly beautiful. Before heading out there, however, stop first at the West Wendover Visitor and Convention Bureau. They can give you all the information you need. One thing you must do while in West Wendover as well, is get a selfie with Wendover Will.  It’s a famous landmark with visitors from all over the world taking a selfie and then posting it to the West Wendover website.

To read more about West Wendover, click here.

Best hike:

Leppy Trails

Best summit: 

Pilot Peak

Can’t miss it:

Horizonic Viewpoint

Best Mueum:

Wendover Airfield

Best place for dinner:

Pancho and Willies

Best place to unwind with a cocktail and maybe play a little blackjack:

Peppermill Poker Room

DAY 4: Elko

2 hours/120 miles

We know you are going to be hungry this morning, so one last thing we recommend you  do before leaving West Wendover is grabbing a bite to eat. And there is no better place to do it than the Copper Kettle Cafe. Hunger satiated, hit the road for your next stop, Elko. Elko is the largest city in and county seat of Elko County, Nevada, United States. Straddling the Humboldt River, Elko is the principal city of the Elko Micropolitan Statistical Area, a micropolitan area that covers two counties  and a population of around 20,000.  First stop to make in Elko is the Downtown District. It’s a great way to get a taste of the town and orient yourself before heading out into the wider area.

Get outside:

Humbldt-Toiyabe National Forest

Must see:

California Trail Interpretive Center

Git ya some Cowboy duds:

JM Capriola Co.

Best scenic Byway:

Lamoille Canyon Scenic Byway

Most Known For:

Basque Food at the Star Hotel

Where the locals go for fun:

Good Time Charlies

DAY 5: The Dusty Winnemucca Road

7 hours/160 miles

The easiest way to get to Winnemuccca is to head straight down I-80. But this is an epic road trip, and it’s never about the easiest way, its about the most fun way. That’s why today you are going to head north out of Elko along Highway 225, over the Independence Mountains on Highway 789 and through two classic western ghost townsTuscarora and Midas. At 7 hours this is a long drive day, so we recommend starting early, the distance is short, however, right around 160 miles, so take that into account for gas consumption. Any car should be able to make it 160 miles on a full tank, but just in case, you might want to think about taking some spare fuel. Once you get to Winnemucca, head to the Bodie Howard Memorial Pool to cool off

Best place for a hike:

Winnemucca Mountain

Can’t miss it:

Winnemucca Sand Dunes

Best place to shop local:

Northern Nevada Trading Company

Best place to try lady luck:

The Model T Casino

Best place for dinner:

Chihuahua’s Cantina

Best place for pancakes:

The Griddle

DAY 6: Down Lonely Highway 121 to Fallon

2 hours 45 minutes/127 miles

Fill up your fuel tank, and head south out of Winnemucca on Highway 121. They don’t call Highway 121 the “Loneliest Road In America” for nothing.  According to NDOT’s records, a mere 10 cars travel this 127-mile stretch of road on a daily basis. And you will have the pleasure of being one of them.  Once you get into Fallon, you will start to notice that you are heading out of the desert and into the Sierras. After your lonely road to Fallon, we would recommend heading to the Slanted Porch and grabbing a cocktail. It’s the perfect place to wash the trail from your throat.

Best place for a hike:

Grimes Point

Best photo op:

The Shoe Tree

Best museum:

Churchill County Museum

See some wildlife:

Stillwater Wildlife Refuge

Visit a distillery:

Frey Ranch Distillery

Best place for dinner:

Vn Pho

DAY 7: Carson City

1 hour 14 minutes/62 miles

So! The next few days are going to be a slight departure from how the earlier week has gone. Today this itinerary is going to take you to Carson City, the capital of Nevada and your home for the next four days. From Carson City, you will be within striking distance to Reno, the mining towns of Virginia and Silver City and Lake Tahoe, all without having to move hotels. And speaking of hotels, one place you should definitely consider staying is the Deer Run Ranch Bed and Breakfast. It’s a great place and the breakfasts are spectacular. When you get to Carson City, your agenda is going to be all about the things to do within City Limits. 

Best place to learn about the Great State of Nevada:

Nevada State Museum

Best way to see the area:

Train ride or railbike

Pretend you’re Willy Wonka:

Chocolate Nugget Candy Factory

Best place for a stroll:

Downtown Carson City

Best place for dinner:

Red’s Old 395 Grill

Try Lady Luck:

Max Casino

DAY 8: The eastern shores of Lake Tahoe

Roughly split down the middle, Lake Tahoe has shoreline in both Nevada and California. The majority of our suggestions are going to take place along the Nevada side, but it’s okay with us if you want to hop the border and check out the California side as well. South Lake Tahoe is a great resort town, so feel free to wander where your desires want. A good place to stop to orient yourself to the crystal blue waters and Lake Tahoe would be the Carson City Culture and Tourism Authority.

To read more about the California side of Tahoe, click here.

Best hike:

Horsetail Falls

Can’t miss it:

Skunk Harbor

Best place to go for a swim:

Nevada Beach

Best photo op:

Logan Shoals Vista Point

Best place to shop and stroll:

Incline Village

Best cowboy bar:

The Desert Rose

DAY 9: Reno and the Donner Pass Tragedy

Before you head to head to Reno for the day, we are going to take you on a little detour across the border into California  to experience one of the most famous and tragic incidents in American History. Located about 95 miles northwest of Carson City is Donner Pass, named after the ill-fated Donner Party. The Donner Party was a group of American pioneers that set out for California in a wagon train in May 1846. Departing from Independence, Missouri, they were delayed by a series of mishaps and mistakes and spent the winter of 1846–7 snowbound in the Sierra Nevada. Some of the pioneers resorted to cannibalism to survive. Directly before the pass is the Donner Memorial State Park, which is located on the site where the snowbound emigrants spent that winter. The park contains the Emigrant Trail Museum and the Pioneer Monument dedicated to the travelers of the Emigrant Trail. From Donner Pass, head back through Truckee, CA towards Reno. It’s time to relax a bit and the Reno Riverwalk District is just the place to do it. Located in the heart of Reno along the Truckee River, this area has plenty of things to keep you entertained. Want to put some money on Lady Luck instead? Reno has you covered. There is any number of sublime casinos in the area, most of which have free shuttles. 

Best photo op:

Rainbow Bridge

Best hike:

Milk Lake Trail

Can’t miss it:

Donner Lake Interpretive Trail

Best place to get some Souvenirs:

Reno eNVy

Best steak:

Atlantis Steakhouse

Best night out:

Death and Taxes Provisions and Spirits

DAY 10: The quest for Silver

3 hours 45 minutes/244 miles

The mid 19th century was defined in the United States by the discovery of gold. It led to a mass exodus from the Eastern parts of the U.S of hopeful miners  looking to strike it rich in the goldfields of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Nevada is no different, with one small exception. Mining in Nevada began not for gold, but silver. The discovery of the Comstock Lode in 1859 is considered one of the most important mining discoveries in US history; it virtually ended the California Gold Rush, as prospectors flocked to Nevada in search of the silver “mother lode.”  Your trip today will take you to some of these historical mining towns: Silver City, and Virginia City .  While your goal is to explore these two towns, there are great little towns like DaytonGold Hill and Mound House to visit as well.

Best place to see a ghost:

The Washoe Club

Best place to get a photo:

Silver Terrace Cemetery

Best place to shop:

Virginia City Mercantiles

Best tour:

Chollar Mine

Best place to grab lunch:

Red Dog Saloon

Most unique experience:

Silver City Cemetery

Best place to explore a ghost town:

Gold Hill

Best place to get a taste of the Old West:

Virginia City Outlaws

Best museum:

The Way It Was Museum

Best place for local brews:

Virginia City Brewery and Taphouse

DAY 11: Tonopah and the Big Smokey Valley

3 hours 45 minutes/220 miles

Today your drive is going to take south along the eastern side of the Sierra Nevadas. There are going to be some pretty good places to take some scenic photos, so make you stop to fill up your camera. Once you get into Tonopah, our recommendation would be to first get a room for the night at the Clown Motel. We aren’t sure if you have heard of this motel, but it has become world famous over the past few years, if for nothing else than being quite unlike any motel anywhere, ever. We won’t go into too much detail here, but a quick Google Search will tell you everything you want to know. It will be an experience you won’t soon forget. From Tonopah, head north on 376 into the Big Smokey Valley for a great scenic drive and the small near-ghost towns along the way. When you get to Spencer Hot Springs, take a well deserved soak before you turn around and head back again to your room at the haunted Clown Motel.

Best lunch in the Great Smokey Valley:

Blitz Creek

Best museum:

Tonopah Historic Mining Park

Visit your neighbors from the Clown Motel:

Old Tonopah Cemetery

Best BBQ and Beer:

Tonopah Brewing Company

Best place to train for Vegas:

The Mizpah Club

Best sway to see the stars:

STARGAZING PARK

DAY 12 through 14: Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada

3.5 Hours /210 miles

It’s Vegas, Baby! Man oh man, where do we even start? Las Vegas is an internationally renowned destination. You could arguably spend a month here and still not do all the things there are to do. We are going to do our best to give you a number of places to go, divided up into different areas of interest, because Las Vegas is way more than just casinos. But speaking of casinos, each casino has a specific theme or individual concept and we will explore those, but at the heart of a casino is undoubtedly gambling, so here is a comprehensive guide to help you research where you want to go. As far a place to stay, you should also stay in a casino. They are the height of luxury and offer great packages and deals. But which one? Well that is up to you as well. As far as all the other great things to do, perhaps the best place to start would be the Las Vegas Visitors Information Center.  They have everything you need to help you make the most of your stay.

GET OUTDOORS

Visit a waterfall:

Mary Jane Falls Trail

Go for a swim:

Gold Strike Canyon

Best scenic drive:

Red Rock Canyon

Best hike to a great view:

Turtlehead Peak Trail

GET some culture

Learn about the Mafia in Las Vegas:

The Mob Museum

Best place to take the kids:

Discovery Children’s Musuem

Best place to learn some history:

Nevada State Museum

Most eclectic museum:

The Liberace Museum

GET an experience

Cant miss it:

Las Vegas Big Bus Tour

One of a kind experience:

The Hoover Dam

Take a gondola ride:

The canals at the Venetian

Get a bird’s eye view of Las Vegas:

Vegas Balloon Rides

GET some tickets

Best place see acrobatics-themed rock and roll:

Beatles-Love at Cirque du Soleil

A Vegas Icon:

Barry Manilow at the Westgate

Best tribute show:

All Shook Up-A Tribute to the King

Get ready to laugh:

Penn and Teller

GET some food

Best sushi in the state:

Kabuto

Best buffet:

The Buffet at Wynn Hotel

Best place for seafood:

The Oyster Bar at the Palace

Eat a  Michelin meal:

Rose. Rabbit. Lie.

GET some fun

Best place to dance:

Omnia

Can’t miss it:

The Strip

Best way to get wet:

Cowabunga Bay

Go ride a go kart:

Las Vegas Mini Grand Prix



Arizona: A Landscape Like No Other

Arizona: A Landscape Like No Other

Arizona is known as the Grand Canyon state, and with good reason. Grand Canyon National Park is a world-renowned geographical wonder. But Arizona isn’t just the Grand Canyon, there is so much more to this remarkable state, and this itinerary is going to show you where to find these untraveled gems.


#thisismyroute

Prepared by:
James

States: 
Arizona

Start/End: 
Phoenix, Arizona

Total miles:
1,800

Suggested days: 
At least 16

Type: 
scenic road trip

Recommended for: 
First-timers to the United States, honeymooners, photographers, road trippers, history buffs

Suggested season: 
year round

Overview

This route is perfect for those who want to experience the beauty of the open road and some of America’s most untamed areas. In other words, you will get to experience a true American road trip that includes old western towns, intriguing American culture and unimaginable scenery. You will begin by arriving at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. We have no doubt that you are going to want to spend a few days in this city of 1.6 million. But…save it for the end of the trip, when you have a chance to unwind and relax after your epic southwestern road trip. On this trip many of the drives between towns will be relatively short, but when you get to the eastern part of the state, the drives will stretch out a bit, so be prepared for this. Through the course of this trip you be travelling through true Native America. This trip will take you through the reservations of the Colorado River Indian Tribes, Tohono O’Odham Nation, The Fort Apache and San Carlos Apache Reservations, and the Navajo and Hopi Nations. This will be a trip of a lifetime, so get in, buckle up and shift that car into drive. You are about to experience some of the best the United States has to offer

How to Prepare

We recommend approximately 16 days for this trip in order to experience each town and activity without feeling too rushed. You have a lot of miles to cover, so we suggest spending at minimum a day at each stop.  This itinerary is full of suggestions of some of the best places to fully experience the area, with overnight stops in the towns along the way. Plan your trip accordingly so that you experience the places that spark your interest the most. These areas can be crowded in the summertime, and for good reason. There are multiple events and the weather is beautiful. Wintertime is still beautiful in these places, however, many roads are closed and you cannot drive into some of the higher elevations. On the other hand, summertime temps in these places can often exceed 100 degrees, so take that into account as you decide your travel dates. The majority of this trip will be short drives between stops, but this is to allow you the most time at all the amazing places that you have traveled so far to see. Though this itinerary is a day to day guide, it is only a guide and you should feel free to adapt it however you want, taking as much time as you need to fully experience this wonderful part of the world

DAY 1: land in Phoenix, travel to Wickenburg

1 hours/60 miles

This is a shorter day for a good reason. We suggest arriving early into Phoenix and renting your car from the airport and setting out west toward your first stop, Wickenburg. It is the perfect town to get prepared and excited to start your road trip. 

To read more about Wickenburg, click here.

Best Hike-that comes with a certificate of completion:

Vulture Peak

Best museum:

Desert Caballeros Western Museum

Best place to watch the sunset:

Hassayapa River Preserve

Best place to shop local:

Gramma Lizards

Can’t Miss It:

Vulture City

Best place for dinner:

Anita’s Cocina

DAY 2: The Prescott Valley

1 hour 19 minutes/60 miles

From Wickenburg it’s a short drive to Prescott, but before you head out of town, we would recommend grabbing breakfast at Cowboy Cookin. It’s a fun place and has one of the best breakfasts you can get in the southwest. Once you get to Prescott, the opportunities are endless. Downtown, historic Whiskey Row is known for its bars and live music venues. The Sharlot Hall Museum documents the region’s pioneer-era history. The Smoki Museum exhibits artifacts from indigenous peoples of the Southwest. To the northeast, Watson Lake is home to hundreds of bird species, and a circuit of trails runs among the granite boulders dotting its shore.

To read more about Prescott, click here.

Best short hike:

Thumb Butte Trail

Can’t miss it:

Bashford Courts Atrium Mall

See some wildlife:

Heritage Park Zoo

Best place to stretch your legs:

Historic Downtown Prescott

Best place for dinner:

The Palace

Best place to grab a drink:

Superstition Meadery

DAY 3: The Regenerative power of Sedona

1.5 hours/67 miles

Sedona is a quirky town and we mean that in the very best way. Surrounded by red-rock buttes, steep canyon walls and pine forests. It’s noted for its mild climate and vibrant arts community. Uptown Sedona is dense with New Age shops, spas and art galleries. On the town’s outskirts, numerous trailheads access Red Rock State Park, which offers bird-watching, hiking and picnicking spots. Sedona is also internationally known for the uplifting power of its Vortex meditation sites. Not so much into vortexes? No problem. Sedona is full of things to do for any lifestyle. One thing we would recommend however, is to get a room at the Oak Creek Lodge. It’s a great little place.

Best hike:

The Devil’s Bridge

Best scenic drive: 

Red Rock Scenic Byway

Can’t miss it:

Visit a Vortex

Most eclectic shopping:

Son Silver West Gallery

Best place for dinner

Pumphouse Station

Best place to unwind with a cocktail:

View 180

DAY 4: Williams and Grand Canyon Country

1 hour/60 miles

Today’s route will take you through Flagstaff. Don’t stop. Not because Flagstaff isn’t worth a stop, it totally is, it’s just that you are going to enjoy all there is to do here at the end of your trip. So have patience. One more thing, we know we said this trip was going to be more about finding the Arizona that exists outside Grand Canyon National Park…however…we do truly understand if you decide that you aren’t coming all the way to Arizona and skipping one of the most unique canyon systems in the world. So if you decide to take a detour outside of Williams for a day or two, that is just fine with us. Here is some information for you. But once you have scratched your Grand Canyon itch, head back to Williams. When you get into town, the first place to go would be Wild West Junction. It’s a one-of-a-kind place to stay.

To Read more about Williams, click here.

Visit the second biggest canyon in Arizona:

Sycamore Canyon

Must see:

Planes of Fame Air Museum

Best scenic drive:

Bull Basin Road

Best historical selfie:

Pete’s Route 66 Gas Station

Best place to grab a bite to eat:

Anna’s Canyon Cafe

Best Local Beer:

Grand Canyon Brewery

DAY 5: Route 66 to Kingman

1.5 hours/77 miles

There are two ways to get to Kingman, but without a doubt, the best way is take Historic Route 66. Leaving North out of Williams, this route will take you through some beautiful country on one of America’s most celebrated roads. Once you pull into Kingman, you will see the impact the route has had on the town. The historic road’s role in American history is celebrated at the Route 66 Museum, set inside the Powerhouse Visitors Center. Murals, dioramas and a library at the Mohave Museum of History and Arts trace local history. Locomotive Park, featuring a 1928 steam engine, and the Kingman Railroad Museum document the city’s past as a 20th-century railway hub. One place we would definitely recommend staying the night is the fantastic El Trovatore Motel. They have legendary Hollywood icon themed rooms a la Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, John Wayne and many more.

To read more about Kingman, click here.

Best place for a hike:

Hualapai Mountain Park

Can’t miss it:

Giganticus Headicus

Best place to shop local:

Kingman Farmhouse

Best photo op:

Alpacas of the Soutwest

Eat some cowboy cuisine:

Danbar Steakhouse

Best night out:

Black Bridge Brewery

DAY 6: To Parker and the Colorado River

1 hour 45 minutes/95 miles

Parker sits on the banks of the mighty Colorado River, and is a River Rat’s paradise. There are plebty of waterborne activities in this town, but Parker is so much more than that too. Historically, Parker was the site of Parker’s Landing, where goods and supplies would be offloaded and delivered to the Colorado River Reservation. And speaking of the Colorado River Reservation, a great side trip would be to Poston, the most populated town on the reservation and the site of the Poston War Relocation Center, where Japanese-American were interred for the duration of World War II.

Best place for a hike:

Buckskin Mountain State Park

Best photo op:

Parker Dam

Best museum:

Colorado River Tribes Museum

Learn to wakeboard:

Wakeboard Island

Can’t miss it:

Club Roadrunner

Best night out:

Nellie E Saloon and Desert Bar

DAY 7: Yuma!

Saguaro cactus and sunset

2 hours/117 miles

Yuma is a great town and one of the gems of the Southwest. The history of the area is as rich as the scenery and within the city limits Yuma contains the historical Yuma Territorial Prison, the Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park and the Yuma Crossing National Heritage area. Yuma is an Arizona Main Street City, and for good reason. A stroll through its Historic Downtown is a great way to shop and dine. The first thing we would recommend doing when you get into town is to head to the Historic Coronado Motor Hotel. It’s a fun place and easy on the pocketbook. After dropping off your bags, get ready to head out on the town.

Best place for wildlife:

Mittry Lake Wildlife Refuge

Best hike to a scenic view:

Jester’s Trail

Best scenic drive:

Kofa National Wildlife Refuge

Best way to see Yuma/Ghosts:

Haunted Yuma Walking Tour

Best place to shop:

Arizona Marketplace

Can’t miss dinner:

River City Grill

DAY 8: Gila Bend and the Sonoran Desert National Monument

2 hours/120 miles

Today your drive is straight and level into the Gila River Valley and the Mariscopa Mountains and the great little southwest hamlet of Gila Bend. Hugging the banks of the Gila River, where it takes a sharp 90 degree turn, this little town on the edge of the Sonoran Desert is going to charm you with its heritage, culture and classic Southwest feel. Situated as it on the western edge of the Sonoran Desert National Monument, it’s a great base for exploring this unique American landscape.  Just outside the town is the San Lucy district of the Tohono O’odham Nation, with a small settlement, San Lucy bordering the town itself.  Once you get into town, head immediately to the Space Age Lodge for a room for the night. Just trust us, it’s a one-of-a-kind experience.

Best hike:

Juan Bautista de Anza Historic Trail

Can’t miss it:

Historic Gillespie Bridge

Best place to get some culture:

Gatlin Archaeological Site

Best photo op:

Painted Rock Petroglyph Site

Best taco in town:

Humberto’s

Best cowboy bar:

The Desert Rose

DAY 9: Tucson and Saguaro National Park

2 hours/122 miles

The Sunshine Factory is an interesting choice for a nickname, unless of course, you happen to be Tucson, Arizona. With about 200 days of sunshine a year, it’s a great place to spend a little time. With a population of a half a million, it will have plenty of opportunities to stock up on any gear or supplies or city-life you might need before you head to the western part of the state. The only place to do this would be Main Gate Square. It’s the premier commercial district in the city. One of the first stops you should make when you get into Tucson, would be to the Tucson Visitor’s Center. They can send you on your way to enjoying all that Tucson has to offer. One thing that can’t be missed, is a visit to the Saguaro National Park. A great place to start your foray into this epic desert landscape would be the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum. Located right on the border of the park, it’s an amazing educational experience into what makes this region so unique. 

Can’t miss it:

Mission San Xavier del Bac

Best outdoor recreation:

Sabino Canyon

Great place to take a stroll:

Historic Downtown Tucson

Most eclectic museum:

Mat Bevel’s Museum of Kinetic Art

Best place to shop local:

Fourth Avenue

Best Place to people watch:

The University of Arizona-Old Main

DAY 10: Through Tombstone to Bisbee.

3 hours 45 minutes/244 miles

You aren’t going to come all the way to Arizona and not visit one of the most famous towns in all of the lore of the Wolly and Wild West, right? We didn’t think so. That’s why today, with your ultimate goal being Bisbee, you are going to take a trip into Tombstone and those lawless days of gunslingers, lawmen and of course, the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. If you aren’t quite sure what place this has in American legend, brush up on your history here. For the rest of you, Tombstone is everything you think it will be. Fun, kitschy, interesting and well worth the side trip. For everything Tombstone, click here. From Tombstone, it’s down south to the border and one of the most unique towns in America, Bisbee. Bisbee got it start as a mining town, and that past still lives on at the Queen Mine, where you can learn all about its rich history. Today, Bisbee is known as a culturally rich community that includes an active and varied population. Bisbee retains its welcoming spirit, offering visitors a rich mix of art, music, history, architecture, outdoor activities, dining and nightlife. One of the first things we would recommend when you get into town, is to seek out the Silver King Hotel. It’s a fun stay and boasts having “the smallest bar in Arizona.”

Can’t miss it:

Erie Street

Best museum:

Bisbee Restoration Museum

Best place to stock up on supplies:

High Desert Market

Buy some vintage duds:

Redbone

Best place for a stroll:

Historic Downtown Bisbee

Best place to find amazing food:

Old Bisbee Brewing Company

DAY 11: Through Western Arizona to Globe

3 hours 45 minutes/200 miles

Today is going to be a drive. But that’s okay, because you are going to see some of the most staggeringly beautiful landscape in the world. Your route will take you through the Coronado National ForestChiricahua National Monument, the Galiuro Mountains, the Pinaleno Mountains, the Gila Mountains, and your final destination on the edge of the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation. Globe should definitely be used to as your base to explore the surrounding country, particularly the reservation’s main administrative, cultural and commercial hub, San Carlos. You will no doubt be a touch peckish after your drive, so the first thing you should do when you arrive in Globe, is to head to Nurd Burger and re-fuel. You’ll see why when you get there.

Best scenic drive:

Salt River Canyon

Best museum:

Besh Ba Gowah

Best hike:

Round Mountain Park

Best shopping experience:

The Pickle Barrell

Can’t miss it:

Historic Downtown Globe

Best place to find amazing food and craft beer:

Farley’s Irish Pub

DAY 12: Winslow and Petrified National Forest

4 hours /219 miles

Do you like 70’s feel-good rock band The Eagles? Because if you do, then you probably know they once sang in one of their classic songs, “Take It Easy” ; “Well I’m a standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, its such a fine sight to see.” Love ’em or hate ’em, we think you will agree. But one stop you need to make before you get there is one of the United States’ smallest national parks, Petrified Forest National Park. When you get to the park, stop at the Rainbow Forest Museum. It will have everything you need to make the most of your visit, including access to numerous trail heads. From here, its a short drive into Winslow, and its historic location on Route 66. First thing? Head to StandingOnTheCorner Park. Yup.

To read more about Winslow, click here.

Cant miss it:

Meteor Crater

One of a kind experience:

Apache Death Cave

Best hike:

Rock Art Ranch

Best place to catch the sunset:

Little Painted Desert County Park

Can’t miss it:

La Posada Hotel

Best place for dinner:

Mi Pueblo

DAY 13: To Chinle and Canyon De Chelly National Monument

2.5 hours /150 miles

Today you will be driving through the Navajo Nation and to the unparalleled Canyon De Chelly. Canyon de Chelly National Monument is a vast park in northeastern Arizona, on Navajo tribal lands. Its prominent features include Spider Rock spire, about 800-feet tall, and towering sandstone cliffs surrounding a green and tree-lined canyon. Inhabited by several Native American peoples for millennia, the area is dotted with petroglyphs. The White House Ruins and Mummy Cave are fantastic examples of  ancient Pueblo villages. Plan on spending most of your day, as it is worth it. For the night, head back to Chinle, and enjoy the culture of the Navajo People.

Best way to see the Canyon:

Justin’s Horse Tours

Best Scenic Drive:

The North Rim

Best photo art:

Hope Arch

Best museum:

Ned A. Hatathli Cultural Center

Best place to shop local:

Navajo Arts and Crafts Enterprise

Best place to try traditional Navajo cuisine:

Thunderbird Lodge

DAY 14: Through Monument Valley to Flagstaff

4 hours /250 miles

Your route today will take you north to the village of Mexican Water and down through the Monument Valley and the Painted Desert. This is going to be a beautiful drive, but make sure you have plenty of gas and water. There will be many opportunities for stops and photos throughout the day, and as a result, you may want to consider making this drive your whole day’s agenda, and spending the next day enjoying all there is to do in Flagstaff. And speaking of Flagstaff, we told you to be patient and we would get you there. We have kept our word. Flagstaff, at nearly 7,000 feet, is a different climate than anything you been traveling through so far, It is also a hip outdoor town with a great vibe.

To read more about Flagstaff, click here.

Get underground:

Lava River Cave

Best way to see Flagstaff:

Historic Downtown Tour

Best hike:

Lockett Meadow Loop

Best cultural experience:

Picture Canyon Cultural Preserve

Best place to shop local:

Old Town Shops

Where the locals go for dinner:

Criollo Latin Kitchen

DAY 15 through 16:

2 hours 15 minutes /144 miles

Like the mythical bird its named after, Phoenix rises from the desert in epic proportions. With nearly 1.7 million people calling this city home, Phoenix is full of adventure. The capital of Arizona, Phoenix is known for its year-round sun and warm temperatures. As a result it anchors a sprawling, multi-city metropolitan area known as the Valley of the Sun. It’s known for high-end spa resorts, Jack Nicklaus–designed golf courses and vibrant nightclubs. But it’s also a city of history, culture and amazing sights. As with any big city, to really get the most of your experience, your first stop should be to the Downtown Phoenix Visitor Center. One recommendation we would have is to leave Phoenix proper, and head to the charming town of Chandler. Located on the southeastern edge of the greater metropolitan area, Chandler is a city of parks and family fun.

To read more about Chandler, click here.’

Iconic mountain hike:

Camelback Mountain

Best way to see Phoenix:

Historic Downtown Tour

Most unique experience:

The Mystery Mansion

Best desert experience:

Desert Botanical Garden

Best shopping experience:

Tempe Marketplace

Best night out:

City Scape