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Legends, stars, and close-kept secrets in Southern Arizona State Parks

Legends, stars, and close-kept secrets in Southern Arizona State Parks

As America embraces #SweaterWeather and pumpkin spice lattes, southern Arizona state parks are a safe haven for those not yet ready to bundle up or face the freeze. This itinerary will take you through six parks that not only won’t have you reaching for a puffy coat, but will also pull you into their tales of lost gold, found secret caves, legends, and stars.

Not all of these state parks offer overnight accommodations or camping, so we have noted nearby places to stay so you can make the most of your time in the parks, rather than on the road. This itinerary should take a week, with drive time around six hours total.


#thisismyroute

Prepared by:
Casey

State: 
Arizona

Start/End: 
Phoenix/Tucson

Total miles:
308 miles (1,240 km)

Suggested days: 
7 days

Suggested season: 
Fall, Winter

GETTING STARTED

If you’re driving, start wherever you like, of course. If you’re flying in, start in Phoenix and wrap up your itinerary in Tucson after you’ve explored each of these southern Arizona state parks.

Day 1 Lost Dutchman State Park

Lost Dutchman State Park, one of Arizona's southern state parks

Your first park stop is named for the Dutchman who never revealed the location of the gold he found in the Superstition Mountains. Surrounded by the lore of the hidden gold mine and nestled at the base of the dramatic mountains, Lost Dutchman State Park is also a playground for hikers, mountain bikers, and campers. Enjoy the treasure of spotting local wildlife and desert wildflowers—if not the original treasure of gold.

We recommend grabbing a campsite in the park and committing a couple days to exploring and learning about the history of the area. The park offers numerous hiking trails through the Sonoran Desert ecosystem, including an educational native plant trail. Mountain bikers can enjoy the new loop around the perimeter of Lost Dutchman, as well.

Be sure to watch the Superstition Mountains as the sun sets for an unforgettable first night on your Southwest Arizona Parks Itinerary.

Day 2 Oracle State Park

1 hour, 40 minutes – 92 miles/148 km

After getting one last adventure in at Lost Dutchman State Park, hit the road for about an hour and a half to Oracle State Park. This is a day-use only park, but you’re going to make the most of the day so be sure to grab a good breakfast and coffee on the way.

Start at the park visitor center, then take a self-guided tour through the historic Kannally Ranch House. After familiarizing yourself with the history and flora and fauna of the area, hit the trails. There are 15 miles of trails through the high-desert habitat, which you can explore on foot, bike, or horseback. Keep a sharp eye out for wildlife such as javelina, deer, and birds, as this park is a wildlife sanctuary first and foremost.

The park closes at 5 p.m., so head into the town of Oracle for dinner and check into your hotel or set up camp at Peppersauce Campground. You’ll want to return to the parking lot just outside the park after dark to watch the night sky like you have probably never seen before. Designated an International Dark Sky Park, Oracle is a special place to see the Milky Way or find planets in the dark. If you’re camping, you can continue to enjoy these special skygazing views all night long.

Day 3 Kartchner Caverns State Park

1 hour 45 minutes – 92 miles/148 km

You’ve searched for gold and seen stars you can’t in much of the rest of the world, so now we’re going to let you in on an old secret. The cave for which Kartchner Caverns State Park was named was kept secret for decades before it was opened to the public as you can see it now.

You’ll want to spend the night in the park, so be sure to reserve a campsite or cabin in advance. While you’re making reservations, book a cave tour (or a few!). The drive from Oracle to Kartchner Caverns is about two hours. When you arrive, start at the Discovery Center to learn all about the history of this secret cave, how Arizona’s caves form, and the local bat population. In addition to the educational video presentation and hands-on interpretive displays, the kids will have a great time checking items off the scavenger hunt around the Discovery Center!

Depending on the timing of your cave tour(s), be sure to see the park above-ground today and/or tomorrow morning. There are a number of hiking trails through the park waiting to be explored in addition to the caves.

Days 4–5 Tombstone Courthouse & Patagonia Lake State Parks

1 hour, 40 minutes – 91 MILES/146 KM

You can take a leisurely start to the morning, because your next stop is only 30 minutes away. Put your Wild West hat on, and get ready to step back in time with the likes of Wyatt Earp, the lawman we all know for the shootout at the O.K. Corral. Tombstone Courthouse State Park is the original courthouse building for Cochise County, Arizona. It serves as a museum today, where you can learn the true story of Earp and the Wild West. The town of Tombstone is a great place to linger and grab a meal before making the 1-hour-15-minute drive to your penultimate stop in these southern Arizona state parks, Patagonia Lake State Park.

Patagonia Lake, nestled in the hills, is preserved for recreation and habitat that will have you in full vacation mode.  We recommend you spend a couple days here to really relax and soak up all you’ve gotten to experience this week. Rent a cabin or set up in the campground, rub on some sunscreen, and pick your mode of fun. If you prefer to quietly birdwatch, grab the binoculars and seek the canyon towhee, Inca dove, vermillion flycatcher, black vulture, and more. If you prefer fins to feathers, find a place to fish from the shore or a boat, or just paddle along without the fishing pole (fishing licenses and rental boats are available at the market on the lake). Patagonia Lake State Park has trails for hiking and horseback riding, so explore while watching out for local wildlife before enjoying a peaceful dinner near the lake, whether in your cabin or next to your tent.

Day 6 Tubac Presidio State Historic Park

45 minutes – 32 miles/52 km

On the shores of what we call the Santa Cruz River, previously called the Rio de Tubac, once stood a presidio, or fort. Today, you can visit an archaeological dig of some of the original buildings and much more. Three historical buildings, a museum, and a visitor center await you at Arizona’s first state park, Tubac Presidio State Historic Park. Get a sense of life in this area for Native Americans all the way up to time when America was comprised of just 37 states. Walk through the historical, preserved buildings and cultivated gardens, then embark on a longer hike or horseback ride beyond to ponder the story of what is now southern Arizona.

Your connection and understanding of this part of America is much deeper for the time you’ve spent in these state parks, but the journey has only begun! Arizona has more than 30 state parks, and now you only have 25 left to visit!




Treat Yourself on this National Parks Road Trip

Treat Yourself on this National Parks Road Trip

Nothing is more enticing in the middle of an extended road trip than a long soak in some natural hot springs. Fortunately, the hot springs of Thermopolis are right in the middle of what may be one of the most beautiful road trip itineraries in the Rocky Mountain West. Hop on this route from any point—be it Bozeman, Jackson, or Rapid City—and enjoy the open road with the promise of soothing hot springs.


#thisismyroute

Prepared by:
Casey

State:
Wyoming, South Dakota

Start/End:
Jackson/Rapid City

Total miles:
770 miles (1,240 km)

Suggested days:
8–10 days

Suggested season: 
Spring, fall

GETTING STARTED

You can start this route at either end or join it at the nearest point to you. We’ll start in South Dakota and work our way through the bucket list destinations through Wyoming to Montana.

Day 1 Badlands to Crazy Horse

Mount Rushmore on national parks road trip with hot springs

Kick off your vacation in Badlands National Park, where horses and rhinos once roamed and bison and bighorn sheep live today. The dramatic and curious geology and paleontology of the park will have you staring at the landscape in awe. Start at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center to learn about the fossils, wildlife, rock formations, and more. Then drive the Badlands Loop Road (Highway 240) to watch for wildlife and breathtaking landscapes.

Highway 240 will take you in the direction of your next stop: Mount Rushmore. Spend the night in or near Rapid City before checking out this massive national monument.

Day 2 CARVED ROCKS AND BLACK HILLS

Black Hills Road trip

2 hours, 12 minutes – 65 miles/105 km

Rise early to get some morning views of Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial. The memorials are remarkable structures and worth spending some time to learn about, so take your time. Both enormous sculptural works are located in Black Hills National Forest, which is worth exploring after you witness and learn about the memorials. We recommend putting on some hiking shoes to see the Cathedral Spires.

Hot springs are probably sounding pretty nice right about now, and the wait will be worth it! For now, rest your tired feet in Custer to maximize your time adventuring in the Black Hills before you continue to Wyoming.

Day 3 America’s First National Monument

Devil's Tower during our Yellowstone Road trip

3 hours – 170 miles/274 km

A two-hour drive will take you to Devil’s Tower, a fascinating and bizarre natural landmark that is also the nation’s first national monument. Nearly 900 feet tall, the looming butte is a geologic wonder. Learn about America’s conservation history, the unusual rock formation that comprises the tower, Native American heritage connected to the area, and the wildlife that live here.

When you’re ready to get back on the road, head into Gillette to enjoy a surprising local foodie scene and a welcoming town in which to rest your head.

Day 4 R&R in Thermopolis

Hot springs in Thermopolis, Wyoming on National Parks road trip itinerary

3 hours, 15 minutes – 193 MILES/311 KM

You’ve been on the road for three long days, so you’ll probably hit snooze on your alarm once, but just know that you’re going to get some time for slow travel and R&R today. The less-than-four-hour drive to Thermpolis includes some highly scenic stretches, so take time to stop, stretch, and take photos.

When you arrive in Thermopolis, take your pick of lodging, but we recommend finding a place with easy access to hot springs—you deserve it!

Before you settle into a pool, get to know the area. Hot Springs State Park is the heart of Thermopolis. Take a short, leisurely stroll from the park entrance to the Swinging Bridge over the Bighorn River, where you can see the Rainbow Terraces. This is a beautiful geological formation where hot mineral water cascades down over colorful rock. Check out the Big Spring, where the turquoise and green spring bubbles up at a piping hot 127 degrees Fahrenheit. This water is what feeds all the other pools and attractions in the park, and interpretive displays nearby will give you a better understanding of the area.

Hot Springs pool in Thermopolis, Wyoming

Now that you know all about the geology, culture, history, and wellness benefits of the hot springs, it’s time to slip into the waters and just relax. You can soak for free at the State Bath House in the heart of the state park. The Star Plunge nearby has a water slide and more pools to choose from, and Hellie’s Tepee Pools has a spa in addition to pools and water slides. Take your pick, or try one of each throughout your time in Thermopolis.

Top your day off with a meal at the local brewery, the One Eyed Buffalo.

Day 5 Enjoy Wyoming’s HOt Springs

0 hours – 0 miles/0 km

Today, you won’t drive much at all. Since you’ll be sticking close to town, you can hop back into the hot springs at any time between activities!

Start the day off with a float down the Bighorn River. Hire a local guide or raft company to either paddle for you or shuttle you for a peaceful float past dramatic red cliffs, wildlife, and beautiful views. We recommend getting a fishing license and bringing your fly rod with you as you drift downriver. Your chosen rafting or floating experience will likely end right in town, so grab lunch at Nature’s Corner and stroll around Broadway and downtown after lunch.

Whether you’re a kid or a kid-at-heart, the Wyoming Dinosaur Center is something to get excited about. Walk through more than 58 mounted skeletons and hundreds of displays, and picture them walking through this very area. You can even take a 90-minute trip to an active dinosaur dig site or spend a full day digging alongside museum staff!

Before you know it, it will be time for dinner at Las Fuentes or the Safari Club and another dip in the springs.

Day 6 Petroglyphs and scenic drives

1 hour, 35 minutes – 68 miles/110 km

As you relax into your time in Thermopolis, sleep in and linger over breakfast at the Black Bear Cafe. Today will include a short driving loop to warm you up for the rest of your road trip. The first stop is Legend Rock Petroglyph Site. About 20 miles west of town, the site has at least 283 petroglyphs on 92 different sandstone panels. Be sure to get the directions and, depending on the time of year, a key to this remote site.

From Legend Rock, you’ll point your car in the direction of the town of Kirby. This is where Wyoming Whiskey is made. Take a tour of the distillery, followed by a tasting with a knowledgeable staff member. Hot tip: This may be the perfect souvenir to take home for yourself and friends.

As you make your way back into Thermopolis, take Buffalo Pasture Road to see the Hot Springs State Park bison herd. Remember, only view the bison from inside your vehicle at a respectful and safe distance. This is for your safety and theirs.

Grab dinner at your new favorite restaurant, and get in one last soak in the healing waters, because tomorrow morning you’ll be on your way to Yellowstone National Park.

Day 7 Scenic Route to Yellowstone

3 hours, 45 minutes – 215 miles/345 km

Almost the moment you leave the town of Thermopolis, you’ll enter Wind River Canyon, a Scenic Byway that follows the Bighorn River upstream as it changes names to the Wind River and flows from Boysen Reservoir. Keep an eye out for new views at every single turn and signs about the geology you’re driving right through!

After driving through Riverton, you may get the chance to spot one of the bison herds recently reintroduced on the Wind River Indian Reservation.

Dubois is a great town to stop and stretch your legs and grab a bite to eat. It’s also your launching point for the second Scenic Byway you’ll drive today. Togwotee Pass over the Continental Divide to the south gate of Yellowstone National Park has numerous trailheads (like the Falls Campground and Turpin Meadows), high likelihood of spotting wildlife, and absolutely stunning views, including your first look at the Teton Mountains.

Make your way into Jackson to get checked into lovely lodging, like the Wort Hotel, then go play in Grand Teton National Park! After you snap pictures of the Tetons, head to Jenny Lake, where you can play on the water or hike right below the park’s namesake.

Overnight in Jackson (don’t miss the Cowboy Bar!) with plans to hit the road early for a full day in Yellowstone National Park.

Day 8 America’s First national park

A colorful hot spring in Yellowstone National Park

1 hour, 15 minutes – 60 MILES/97 KM

Rise early, grab breakfast and snacks at The Bunnery, and point the car north to Yellowstone National Park.

Plan for a full day in the park, as this is the grand finale of your travels. Enjoy the wildlife and geothermal attractions from a safe distance, carve out some time for fishing or a picnic, and take a hike to stretch your legs and enjoy the wonders of the nation’s first national park at your own pace. There are plenty of hot springs to see, but none you can soak in, so you may find yourself circling back to Thermopolis before you head home!




American West Road Trip Itinerary: Southern Utah, 6 National Parks

American West Road Trip Itinerary: Southern Utah, 6 National Parks

This is the ultimate American west road trip. Utah has five national parks in just the southern half of the state, so you could easily cover ground without covering an overwhelming amount of distance. Add a sixth N.P. to the trip by hitting up the less traveled north rim of the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona!


#thisismyroute

Prepared by:
Tobey

State: 
Utah, Arizona, NEvada

Start/End: 
Las Vegas, Nevada

Total miles:
1,200 (1,900 km)

Suggested days: 
At least 12 – 16

Suggested season: 
All seasons, but spring and fall are best

Overview

The route that we have chosen for this American west road trip is a loop that leaves from and arrives back in Las Vegas, Nevada. It takes you to six national parks and multiple national monuments. This trip is ideal for people visiting the US for the first time, families with children, hardcore adventurers or honeymooners. There’s really no perfect itinerary–just follow the general route and make it your own! It can be adjusted to fit any need that your group is looking for.

Preparation

While you could technically take this American West road trip at any time of the year, spring and fall seasons have the most moderate weather, but larger crowds. If you choose to visit in the quieter summer or winter, just be prepared to deal with the heat or possibly the snow, and make sure you’ve brought appropriate clothing and gear. That being said, the desert looks incredibly beautiful when it snows!

Ideally, you would give yourself at least 14 days for this trip. There’s not a ton of driving, so it could be done in less than 14, but you might regret quickly passing through many of the stops. 

#1 las vegas, nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada sign

Unless you’re looking to win some money in Vegas and hit up a famous buffet in the morning–which is never a bad idea–it’d be best to arrive early, get your rental car and start driving to St. George, Utah. Flights to Las Vegas are usually fairly affordable from other major airports. Try to book your rental car as early as you book the flights, because those rates can be quite high. Now it’s time to hop on the I-15 North and get stoked!

#2 St. george

St. George, Utah

2 hours – 118 miles/303 km

St. George isn’t just known for its close proximity to Zion National Park. In fact, we suggest that you save Zion for the end of the trip when you stay in Springdale. St. George is a beautiful city nestled between red rocks in the heart of Greater Zion and there’s plenty of outdoor activities to burn your energy from that your flight and drive. There are over 668 mountain biking trails and the annual Red Bull Rampage, which is basically the Super Bowl of mountain biking. If you didn’t bring your bike, there are plenty of bike shops in town that rent them for a day rate.

Best short hike:

Red Reef Trail

Most unique hike:

Elephant Arch

Best experience for the whole family:

Horseback Riding at Snow Canyon State Park

Most unique advnture:

Spelunking at Bloomington Cave

#3 cedar city

Mountain biker on Lichen It trail in Cedar City, Utah.

1 hour – 53 miles/85 km

Cedar City is a beautiful stop for photographers, hikers, mountain bikers and skiers. It’s only a 30 minute drive from Cedar Breaks National Monument, a vibrantly red natural colosseum. Cedar City is also home to Utah’s two highest ski resorts–Brian Head and Eagle Point. 

For history buffs and Shakespeare fans, Cedar City is a good place to take a break from the outdoor adventures and experience some indoor culture, such as the annual Utah Shakespeare Festival.

Best short hike in Cedar Break NM: 

The Ramparts Overlook

Best long hike in Cedar Breaks NM: 

Rattlesnake Creek Trail

Coolest slot canyon:

Kanarra Creek Canyon

Best mountain biking trail:

Lichen It Trail

#4 panguitch & bryce canyon

Bryce Canyon National Park

1 hour – 66 MILES/106 KM

Finally, here’s where you’ll visit your first national park on the trip: Bryce Canyon. A 3-day itinerary for Bryce Canyon Country might be enough for you, but check out all the activities to decide how many days you’d like to stay. For an authentic western adventure, go horseback riding and then go out for a chuckwagon dinner.

Don’t miss this place:

Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument

Most popular hike in Bryce Canyon:

Queen’s/Navajo Combination Loop

Best place to ride a horse:

 Panguitch Lake Horseback Trail

Point of interest: 

Rockin R’ Cowboy & Dude Ranch

#5 capitol reef

Capitol Reef, Utah

2 hours – 118 miles/190 km

Next, you’ll drive to Fruita and visit Capitol Reef National Park. This park is unique because of its rich history, one-of-a-kind geology, and the Fremont River, which supports plant and animal life that aren’t often seen in the desert. If you’re in Capitol Reef Country between April and October, definitely go fruit picking in the orchards that were planted by early Mormon settlers: cherries, peaches, pears, apples, and more. Also be sure to stop in Caineville and Hanksville on your way to Moab to get a taste of what an authentic western small town is like.

Best place to go fruit picking:

The Fruita Orchards

Point of interest:

Hickman Bridge in Capitol Reef

Most scenic drive: 

Cathedral Valley

For the adventurers:

 Canyoneer Pandora’s Box

#6 moab

Arches National Park, Utah.

2.5 hours – 144 miles/232 km

Ready to knock two more national parks off your list? Great, because you’ll want to spend a few days here in order to visit Arches NP and Canyonlands NP. Arches is known as being the park with more than 2,000 delicate, red-sandstone natural arches, while Canyonlands is known for its dramatic, expansive landscape that was carved by the Colorado River and includes rock pinnacles, remote canyons, and Native American rock paintings.

Best photo op:

Dead Horse Point State Park

Notable place to visit:

The Needles

Best place to see indigenous rock paintings:

Horseshoe Canyon

Most popular activity:

Mountain biking

#7 San juan county

Cliff dwellings "house on fire" in Bears Ears National Monument

1 hour – 55 miles/88 km

As you drive through the Four Corners area, you might be wondering what you can do next that isn’t hiking or mountain biking, as there’s a lot of that in Utah. The answer is rafting! Take a family-friendly three-day rafting trip on the San Juan River. There are three wonderful towns on along your route: Monticello, Blanding and Bluff, where you can grab food and set up base camp to explore the surrounding parks like Bears Ears National Monument. If you’re a climber, or someone who just loves desert towers, you won’t want to miss Indian Creek!

Best place for photographs:

 Goosenecks State Park

Well-known rafting outfitters:

Oars Rafting Guides

Best activity for all ages:

Edge of the Cedars State Park

Most classic spot to grab a bite to eat:

Shake Shack in Monticello

#8 Monument Valley

Monument Valley

1.75 hours – 93 miles/150 km

You can’t do an American west road trip without visiting Monument Valley–it’s iconic. Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is quite possibly one of the most iconic destinations of the American wild West, located on the Navajo Nation and the border of Utah and Arizona. We recommend staying at least one night here to experience stars above the towers at night and hopefully wake up to wild horses roaming in the morning. There’s a lot of history to learn about this area of the country and much more to explore in Monument Valley than just what you’ve seen from Hollywood.

For the campers:

The View Campground, El Capitan Valley Campground, Mustang Valley Campground

For the hotel-stayers:

The View Hotel

For those in between:

Monument Valley Tipi Village or Thunder Bird Tipi

A must-do activity:

Horseback riding

#9 kanab

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

3.25 hours – 197 miles/317 km

The drive to Kanab will be your longest yet, but it also has some amazing stops along the way to break it up. About an hour outside of Kanab you’ll drive through Page, Arizona, where you can access Lake Powell, a large reservoir with slot canyons on the Colorado River. Although Kanab is a small town, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, it’s been featured in hundreds of Western movies and was given the title “Little Hollywood” in the 1940s. You can visit the museum, attend their chuckwagon dinner, and view old movie sets. Another state park to check off your list: Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. Sounds amazing, right? It is.

Must-see landmark along the way:

Horseshoe Bend

Don’t want to miss:

Take a guided tour of Glen Canyon Dam

A worthy hiking/backpacking stop: 

Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness Area

Family-friendly roadside attraction:

Toadstools hoodoos

#10 Grand canyon national park

Grand Canyon National Park

1.5 hours – 80 MILES/130 KM

Want to visit the Grand Canyon National Park without all of the crowds or the heat of the summer? Drive to the north rim of the canyon and back, which is doable in a day if you’re staying in Kanab. There’s a visitor’s center, a scenic drive, and many hikes available to you. This entry point is closed during the winter months due to snow. 

Activity for everyone:

Mule rides through the canyon

Best hike into the canyon:

Bright Angel Point Trail

#11 springdale & zion national park

Zion National Park landscape.

2.5 hours – 121 miles/195 km

It’s your last and final stop before you head back to Las Vegas. Springdale, which is just outside the entrance to Zion National Park, is the perfect basecamp if you’re planning on spending a few days exploring Zion. The park is one of the busier ones, so be prepared with an itinerary before you become overwhelmed with options and people. 

Most popular hikes:

Angels Landing Hike and The Narrows

Too many people?

Hidden Canyon

Best place to learn about history: 

Zion Human History Museum

For the hardcore adventurers:

Guided Canyoneering in Zion National Park

From Springdale, Utah, it’s about a 2 hour and 45 minute drive back to Las Vegas, where you’ll catch your flight home after a long and adventurous road trip through the desert. Make sure you shake off all that red dirt before hopping on the plane!
 
 




National Parks Road Trip Itinerary: Utah to Yellowstone & Grand Teton

National Parks Road Trip Itinerary: Utah to Yellowstone & Grand Teton

In this national parks road trip itinerary we’ll take you from Salt Lake City up to a few of the most iconic national parks, but not without passing through a myriad of smaller, more quaint, less-traveled towns that Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho have to offer. 


#thisismyroute

Prepared by:
Tobey

State: 
Utah, Idaho, Wyoming

Start/End: 
Salt Lake City, Utah

Total miles:
940 (1,500 km)

Suggested days: 
At least 8 – 14

Suggested season:
summer, fall, late spring

Overview

What’s great about this national parks road trip is that it’s accessible and adjustable for all kinds of groups including first-timers to the US, families with children and grandparents, honeymooners, photographers, campers, van-lifers, and more. Our route has you flying in and out of Salt Lake International Airport. Rather than hitting the road right away, we recommend spending your first few days exploring Salt Lake City. Most people will be flying in from a lower elevation than SLC, and driving into Wyoming will take you even higher, so acclimating your body first will prevent sickness, which no one wants on road trips!

Preparation

This route is intended for a summer, fall or late spring season road trip. While most of the destinations on our itinerary are very popular winter ski destinations (Park City, Utah literally hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics), the roads between these places are not always open and can be dangerous with snow cover. It’d be best if you have about 10 to 12 days for this trip, but it could probably be done in eight days if you didn’t mind driving a bit every day.

#1 Salt lake City, Utah

Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah.

If you don’t know a lot about Salt Lake City, you might at least know these two facts: it’s known for being the city with nine ski resorts within an hour’s drive, and for being the world headquarters of the Mormon religion.

Save the skiing for winter, but don’t miss visiting Temple Square, whether you’re religious or not. It’s a 35-acre area in the heart of downtown with plenty of historical buildings, food, sights to see and activities. Right beside Temple Square, you can visit City Creek Center, Salt Lake’s unique shopping center.

Best family activity:

Visit the Natural History Museum of Utah

Best place to take the kids:

Ogden Adventure Park

Must-do hike to see the wildflowers:

Hike in Albion Basin

Most popular mountain biking trail:

Wasatch Crest Trail

#2 Cache Valley

Logan Canyon road in Cache Valley, Utah.

1.25 hours – 81 miles/130 km

About 80 miles (130 kilometers) north of SLC you’ll head into Cache Valley, which is home to the metropolitan area of Logan, Utah. 

We recommend spending a day and night here, as there’s a lot to see and do

Probably the most epically scenic drive is through Logan Canyon—September and October are perfect months to see the fall leaves changing colors. 

About an hour outside of Logan, and on your way, we recommend stopping to explore Bear Lake—often called the “Caribbean of the Rockies” because of its turquoise water and sandy beaches.

Best activity at Bear Lake:

Jet Skiing or Water Trampolines

Best spot for history:

 American West Heritage Center

What to do in the evening:

Go See a Show

Best hike:

Wind Caves in Logan Canyon

#3 Star Valley

Antler arch in Afton, Wyoming.

2.25 hours – 119 miles/191 km

On your way up through Idaho and into Wyoming, you’ll be passing through some authentically western, undiscovered small towns that are all worthy of a visit. The first is Montepelier, Idaho, which is just 35 minutes from Bear Lake. For a classic American breakfast and your “cup of joe”, we suggest starting your driving day off at Ranch Hand Trail Stop in Montepelier. Biscuits and gravy for $3? Count me in. Next you’ll head into Wyoming and drive through Afton, Thayne and Alpine. We suggest spending a night in Alpine before heading into the busyness of Jackson and the national parks.

Best place to stay in Alpine, WY: 

Flying Saddle Resort

Must-do hike in Afton, WY: 

Intermittent Spring

Best place for sweets in Afton, WY:

Star Valley Chocolates

Most western activity in Thayne, WY:

Visit & Tour Haderlie Farms

#4 Grand Teton National Park

Wranglers in front of the Grand Tetons, Wyoming.

1.75 hours – 84 MILES/135 KM

We said this was a national parks road trip, right? Well, park #1: The famous, jagged mountain peaks of the Grand Tetons are one of the reasons the park attracts so many visitors, putting it on the list for the top ten most visited national parks. We recommend that you first do a scenic drive through the park to take in the views and get acquainted with the area. 

Fishing and hiking are among the best activities here. If you want something more casual, wildlife viewing is a good option as animals are ubiquitous in the park, such as black bears, bison, moose, elk and more—just do not approach them. Ever!

Most scenic drive:

Jenny Lake Scenic Drive

Best place to view wildlife:

Oxbow Bend

Most adventurous activity:

Canoe to Your Campsite at Leigh Lake

Best place to stay: 

The Cabins at Togwotee Mountain Lodge

#5 Yellowstone National Park

Elk walking through meadows in Yellowstone/Teton/Idaho area

2 hours – 73 miles/173 km

Watching Old Faithful Geyser erupt in Yellowstone National Park? Time to check that one off your bucket list! Old Faithful erupts about 17 times a day and it’s one of six geysers that park rangers currently predict, out of nearly 500 geysers in the park. You’ve come all this way, so stay a few days. 

Yellowstone covers a lot of acreage, so it’s best to spend a night or two in the park. Other than sight-seeing, we recommend going horseback riding—you are in cowboy country after all.

Out-of-the-ordinary activity:

Soak in Natural Hot Springs

A must-do in cowboy country:

Go Horseback Riding

Activity for the whole family: 

Drive the Grand Loop

Best fishing hole:

Firehole River

#6 Pinedale, Wyoming

Downtown Pinedale, Wyoming.

3.25 hours – 160 miles/257 km

It’s time to head down to one of those small, undiscovered Wyoming’s towns we told you about. In Sublette County, bordered by three incredible mountain ranges, you’ll find the town of Pinedale, which the locals call “the real Wyoming.” 

With a population of under 2,000 people it’ll be a nice change of pace from the traffic in the parks. Pinedale really does have it all: incredible mountain views from town, glacially-fed lakes, great fishing in the rivers, and an awesome brewery. What more do you need?

Best place to get a drink:

Wind River Brewing Company

Best spot for photos:

Photographer’s Point

Most popular destination:

Cirque of the Towers (backpacking trip)

Casual activity in town:

Disk Golfing

#7 Flaming Gorge

2.5 hours – 163 miles/262 km

You’ll be heading back toward the desert, but the trip is not over yet. On the border of Wyoming and Utah is Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, a 91-mile long reservoir with stunning desert-red cliffs towering above. 

Between boating and water sports, hiking, and rafting, Flaming Gorge Country is stacked with fun things to do.

For the adrenaline seekers:

Raft the Green River

Best place to stay:

The Private Lake Cabins at Red Canyon Lodge

Best hike for the whole family:

Moonshine Arch

Most laid-back activity on the water:

Boat Camping on the Reservoir

#8 Vernal

Two people paddle boarding in Dinosaurland, Utah.

1.25 hours – 52 miles/84 km

Not far from Flaming Gorge Country is Vernal, Utah, the gateway to Dinosaur National Monument. Vernal is known as one of the best places in America to see fossils, and you can’t leave the western US without looking at fossils and petroglyphs! 

There are tons of other things to do in Vernal, in addition to visiting Dinosaur National Monument.

Best family hike:

Desert Voices Trail

Best spot to bike:

Yampa Bench Road

For a day inside:

Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum

Best spot for a picnic:

Steinaker State Park

#9 Park City, Utah

Park City, Utah

3 hours – 161 miles/259 km

Like we said, Park City held the 2002 Winter Olympics, so they’re kind of a big dea. To this day, the Utah Olympic Park is used as a training facility, and they allow visitors to join the fun as well. So, if you’ve never ridden a bobsled at 70mph (112kph) or been extreme tubing at speeds of 50mph (80kph) then Park City is the place for you! 

When it’s not snowing, Park City is a great place for mountain biking, ziplining, golfing, hot air ballooning, and more.

Must-do year-round activity:

Bobsled at Utah Olympic Park

Don’t want to miss:

Flying Ace All-Stars Freestyle Show

Most unique adventure: 

Hot Air Ballooning

Activity everyone will enjoy:

Food Tours Park City

Salt Lake City is just a 45-minute drive from Park City. Take some time in SLC to unwind after a packed trip, or catch your flight home and start planning when you’ll return for your winter ski trip! Cheers!
 
 




Alaska Road Trip Itinerary

Alaska Road Trip Itinerary

Alaska is all about its glaciers, peaks, and parks. While many opt to cruise around the 49th state, taking an alaska road trip lets you explore the state from a whole new perspective. Enjoy gorgeous mountain views, remote natural vistas, and some of america’s greatest national treasures. Welcome to alaska!


#thisismyroute

Prepared by:
mary and florian

State: 
Alaska

Start/End: 
Anchorage, ak

Total miles:
1,200 (1,900 km)

Suggested days: 
At least 12 – 14

Type: 
adventure road trip

Suggested season: 
summer, Fall

Overview

This route is perfect for people who want to truly experience Alaska. What an adventure it is to spend a few weeks on the road in one of the most wild places in the country. Follow our Alaska road trip itinerary at your own pace—there’s a lot of ground to cover and so much to do. In this itinerary we’ll suggest the route and activities that we think will give you the full value of the state. Getting to parts of Alaska can sometimes be difficult, but luckily our route has you flying in and out of Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Alaska Air even offers nonstop flights from some cities like Frankfurt, Reykjavik, Chicago, Los Angeles and more. After your arrival into Anchorage, you’ll begin your trip north and explore two national parks along the way. If walking on a glacier or flying over a fjord in a helicopter aren’t on your bucket list, they should be now!

How to Prepare

Alaska has a reputation for being remote, rugged and unforgiving. These are all true, but with this road trip itinerary we’ve made it easier than ever to navigate the unfamiliar territory with your friends or family. That being said, Alaska is still more spread out and less developed than most US states, so be prepared. You might not be able to run to your local Target if you forget a rain jacket. Depending on what month you are planning to go, do your research to determine the predicted weather. A good rule of thumb in Alaska is to always have a rain jacket and warm layers with you, even if it’s a blue bird day with 75 degree temperatures. Weather can be very unpredictable there, especially in the mountains. This Alaska road trip is intended for the summer, but can also be done in the early fall before snow comes. We recommend about two weeks for this trip, especially if you’re planning on doing some hiking in the parks. If you’re going to fly all the way to Alaska, you might as well stay as long as you can!

Add to Your Packing List: 

small pair of binoculars for wildlife viewing
rain jacket & pants/wind layers
small dry bag
hiking boots
camera
collapsible hiking poles
backpacking water filter

 

#1 ANCHORAGE – alaska road trip

Virgin Creek Falls outside of Anchorage, Alaska.

Pick up your rental car and check in at your hotel. We recommend the Lakefront Hotel for the views of Lake Hood, the world’s largest and busiest float plane base.  You can enjoy a meal on the deck watching planes take off and land on the water. 

Take time to rest and adjust to the time change. You will also need to get used to the longer-than-average daylight. During the summer solstice, Anchorage gets about 19.5 hours of daylight! 

Explore downtown with an hour-long Anchorage Trolley Tour. We also recommend checking out the South Anchorage Farmer’s Market and buying local fish, meats, vegetables, fruits, flowers and so much more! 

 

Best leisurely activity:

Pedal the Coastal Trail bike path

Can’t miss it:

Alaska Native Heritage Center

Best place to watch the sunset:

Point Woronzof Overlook

Best place to shop local:

Anchorage Market

Best museum:

Anchorage Museum

Local cuisine speciality:

Fresh seafood

#2 scenic flight to prince william sound – alaska road trip

Float plane trip above glaciers in Alaska.

15 minutes – 5 miles/8 km

Enjoy a scenic float plane ride with one of the local aviation companies. We recommend flying with Rust’s Flying Service. Be prepared to take lots of photos and videos while you enjoy glaciers and wilderness from a bird’s eye view for the first time. Don’t worry about where you sit in the plane—there’s great views everywhere.

Enjoy dinner in downtown Anchorage at one of the many great spots to eat. 

 

Best place for breakfast and coffee:

Snow City Cafe

Try something new for dinner:

Yak and Yeti Himalayan Restaurant

#3 Talkeetna via parks highway – alaska road trip

Standing on a glacier in Alaska.

2 hours – 113 miles/181 km

After spending some time in Anchorage you’ll want to get on the highway going north towards Palmer. Stop along the highway to take in the scenic views of the Chugach Mountains. Get lunch in Palmer before heading east to hop on the Parks Highway. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife along the road. If you’re lucky, you might get to see a moose! We recommend spending a few nights in Talkeetna.

Head to the Talkeetna airport early in the morning to take a flight with K2 Aviation. This flight-seeing company can take you all over Denali National Park, and even land on Ruth Glacier!

After your flight tour, check out the Denali Brewing Company in downtown Talkeetna. Enjoy the scenery along the river. On a clear day, you’re able to see breathtaking views of Denali National Park.

Best dinner spot: 

West Rib Pub & Grill

Good beer to to try at dinner: 

Ice Axe Ale (by Glacier Brewhouse)

Best family activity:

Go on a float trip with Talkeetna River Guides

Most thrilling activity

Zipline Tours in Talkeetna

#4 denali national park – alaska road trip

Hiking on Savage Creek trail in Denali National Park, Alaska.

2 HOURS 40 MINUTES – 154 MILES/247 KM

Wake up early to get the best light during your drive to Denali National Park. Continue on the Parks highway to enjoy the southern Denali view points–these are the best shots to see Denali. You’ll be happy you got an early start, because clouds often cover the peaks in the afternoon.

Drive toward the Denali National Park entrance and get settled where you’re staying. We recommend staying at either the Grande Denali Lodge or the Denali Bluffs Hotel. 

Contact the visitor center ahead of time to book a bus tour into the Denali National Park & Preserve. This will be a 12-hour day to best see Denali and the Alaska range. There is limited lodging inside the park for those wanting a memorable stay, as well as campsites accessible by the park bus.  For those on a tighter schedule, there is a free bus that will take you to the end of the public access road (also accessible by car).

There are hikes for all levels, so be sure to get out and enjoy the trails. With gorgeous scenic vistas all around you, you’ll have a perfect excuse to stop and take some photos!

 

Best dinner with a view:

Alpenglow in the Grande Denali Lodge

Best hike:

Off-trail hiking! or savage creek loop

Best campground:

Sanctuary River Campground

Best tour: 

narrated bus tour

#5 fairbanks & chena hot springs – alaska road trip

Northern Lights at Chena Hot Springs, Alaska.

2 hours – 121 miles/195 km

Drive northeast from Denali to Fairbanks. There’s a lot of tour companies here for you to adventure with, especially in the summer. We recommend going dog sledding if you’ve never been before–it’s a one-of-a-kind experience and the dogs are adorable! There’s also kayaking, hiking, fishing, berry-picking and northern lights tours if you’re there at the right time.

Before heading south again, make sure to drive out to Chena Hot Springs and enjoy a nice evening soak, or one of their all-inclusive summer family packages. 

A must-see:

World Eskimo-Indian Olympics

Best place for dinner:

Alaska Salmon Bake & Palace Theater

Best hotel/lodging: 

Chena Hot Springs Resort

Best place to shop:

Arctic Circle Trading Post

#6 Paxson & the Alaska Range – alaska road trip

Alaska Range at dusk.

4 hours – 222 miles/357 km

Since it’s a four-hour drive from Chena Hot Springs to Paxson, we recommend breaking it up and stopping at Harding Lake State Recreation Area along the way. It’s a great place to stretch your legs, picnic and soak your feet in the water for a bit. 

There are some really scenic view points along the highway, so account for time to stop and take photos. You can camp along the Denali Highway for some incredible views, or you can stay in cabins outside of the quaint little town of Paxson. 

 

Best hike:

Swede Lake Trail

Can’t miss it:

Fishing on Paxson Lake

Best scenic drive:

The Denali Highway

Best way to see the land:

Land Cruiser Tour

#7 Wrangell – St. Elias National Park – alaska road trip

An old copper mine in Wrangell St Elias National Park.

1 hour 20 minutes – 79 miles/127 km

Continue from Paxson to Gennallen, then enter the Wrangell St. Elias National Park. Our route has you stopping at the visitors center first so you can get more information about your stay. If you loved your last scenic flight, you can take another one to experience North America’s largest tidewater glacier–the Hubbard Glacier. It spans 76 miles long, seven miles wide and 600 feet tall.  

Fun fact: Wrangell – St. Elias is America’s largest national park, at over 8 million acres. It’s the same size as Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park and Switzerland all combined. Another fun fact…the next three largest parks in America are also in Alaska.

If you haven’t been ice climbing or hiking on a glacier, this is the place to do it. Book a day-trip with St. Elias Alpine Guides for whatever sounds the most fun to you. Besides hiking and ice climbing, they also guide ice cave exploration, alpine hikes, fly-in hikes, rafting, mine tours and more. 

Can’t miss it:

Flying fishing in the park

Best place for food:

Meatza Wagon

Most notable destination:

Kennecott Copper Mine

Best place for hiking snacks:

McCarthy Store & Bakery

#8 valdez – alaska road trip

Where glaciers and mountain meet the ocean.

2 hours – 110 miles/177 km

Continue on to Valdez, which will be your last stop before heading back to Anchorage. You might be numb to glaciers by now, but you’ll want to experience the Worthington Glacier in Valdez, which is completely accessible by car.  

Stay overnight in Valdez and save your last full day for a fishing boat tour. The area is known for its halibut fishing and annual Derby winners typically weigh their fish in at almost 300 pounds. Book a trip with an outfitter and spend up to 12 hours out on the water catching as much fish as your heart desires! A professional fish cutter will meet you on the dock to fillet, vacuum seal and flash freeze your fish. They’ll even ship them to your house via Fedex!

Can’t miss it:

Whale Watching Tours

Best outdoor recreation:

sea kayaking

Buy overnight lodging:

Robe Lake Lodge

Classic American dinner:

Old Town Burgers

Back to anchorage

A van driving down a highway in Alaska.

4 HOURS – 263 MILES/423 KM

Depending how you broke up your road trip, driving back to Anchorage might be your longest section. It’s a good time to soak up what you’ve just experienced and appreciate the public lands we are lucky enough to have. 

You might have to spend a bit of time in Anchorage before catching your flight home. This would be a good time to buy any souvenirs you wanted for yourself or friends and family. Places like Polar Bear Gifts or Oomingmak Anchorage Cooperative would be great places to do that. Have a safe flight back!




Visiting Bryce Canyon Country: 3 Days of Activities

Bryce Canyon is a must-see U.S. landmark, but did you know there is an endless list of things to do in the surrounding area which most visitors haven’t heard about? If you are visiting Bryce Canyon, we’ve created an itinerary filled with other things to do in the surrounding area which will make your trip even more memorable and unique. Here are the top spots to find a bite to eat, see some beautiful scenery, spend the night, ride horses, and so much more.

This post was created in partnership with Bryce Canyon Country.

Day 1: Boulder, Escalante

Lodging

There are countless options for places to stay, there are countless options, but one unique option is the Boulder Mountain Guest Ranch. Just 45 minutes from Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, it offers incredible features. Guests can rent a room, a tipi, or a cabin and experience life on the guest ranch in comfort and style. The Boulder Mountain Guest Ranch offers many activities for its guests from hiking, and horseback riding, to guided garden tours, and fly fishing, even yoga on the heated patio.

Boulder Mountain Guest Ranch in Boulder, UT

Photos Courtesy of Boulder Mountain Guest Ranch

Sweetwater Kitchen

The landscape surrounding the guest ranch is breathtaking and the restaurant is world-class. At the Sweetwater Kitchen located on the ranch property, the food is farm to table and all meat is organic and pasture-raised locally in the state of Utah. This restaurant will even pack a lunch for you if you are going to be gone exploring all day! You really cannot go wrong with this place! When visiting Bryce Canyon Country, this guest ranch should be at the top of your list as a base camp.

Dining at Sweetwater Kitchen in Boulder, UT

Photos Courtesy of Boulder Mountain Guest Ranch

Museum

In the Escalante and Boulder area, there are countless hikes, restaurants, museums, and other incredible things to do. Start your morning in the Anasazi Museum to beat the crowds and the heat. If you want to learn more history when you’re visiting the Bryce Canyon area, the Anasazi Museum lets you explore an ancient Puebloan village that was likely occupied from A.D. 1050 to 1200. Outside is the six-room replica of the Pueblo, and inside you will find genuine artifacts recovered from the site.

Anasazi Pueblo

Food Truck

No matter whether you visit in the morning or the afternoon, plan to eat at the famous Magnolia food truck located just outside the museum.

Magnolia Food Truck outside of the Anasazi Museum

Photo Courtesy of Magnolia Food Truck

Magnolia Food truck offers delicious meals made from the produce of local farms. The menu includes breakfast burritos, fresh-cut fries, salads, kid-friendly quesadillas, and the specials vary depending on what the local farms and gardens can provide. So, plan to have a picnic in the shade outside of the Anasazi Museum anytime within the food truck’s business hours of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

Scenic Byway

Calf Creek Falls, Burr Trails, Aspens in Boulder/Escalante, UT

Calf Creek Falls, Burr Trail, and beautiful Aspens, all can be found along Highway 12

Hop in the car and take Highway 12 to Escalante. Highway 12 is one of the most famous scenic byways in the country and is also classified as an All-American Road. This trip will take about 45 minutes and along the way, there are countless arches, rivers, and other natural wonders that can be seen from the car. You can also pull over and hike to get a better view of spots like Calf Creek Falls, a beautiful 6-mile hike. There are also wonderful places to stop for a bite like Kiva Koffeehouse, which offers coffee and treats paired with incredible views.

Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument

Once in Escalante, explore, relax, and check out the Escalante Interagency Visitor Center before heading into the park. There are many roads for vehicles in the park, but they might not be on your GPS, so make sure to grab a map to be sure of where you are going in the park. Also, keep in mind that this park is run by the Bureau of Land Management, rather than the state or national parks services, so most of the roads will not be paved. A great place to start is the Hole in the Rock Road, where you can access various slot canyons or Devil’s Garden.  If you want to explore some of the hidden gems in the area, it is best to hire a local outfitter based in the town of Escalante, they can make sure you stay safe while experiencing some local hidden gems. Visiting the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in the evening lets you avoid the heat of the day, and stargazing in the park is highly recommended.

Day 2: Tropic, Thunder Mountain Trail

Stone Hearth Grille

When visiting Bryce Canyon Country, you will find one of the most recommended restaurants in Utah, Stone Hearth Grille. Just look it up and you’ll find hundreds of ecstatic reviews. They even have incredible vegetarian options. The top it all off, the views from this restaurant deck are outstanding. But make sure you go before they close for the season on October 31st! This place starts serving dinner starting at 5 pm, so you might want to work up an appetite on some bike trails.

Mountain Biking

If Thunder Mountain Bike Trail sounds familiar to you, that’s because there is a Disneyland ride by the same name. This iconic area has captivated every passerby, and there is no better way to truly experience it than from the seat of a mountain bike. This trail is considered intermediate/difficult, so first-timers might want to try the Red Canyon Bike Trail instead.Biking and Horseback riding in Bryce Canyon Country

Day 3: Antimony, the Wild Wild West

Dude Ranch

Finally, head on over to the Rockin R’ Ranch. This place is incredibly unique and filled with activities which easily fill up an entire day or even an entire week. Rockin’ R Ranch offers horseback riding and instruction, barrel racing, archery, western dancing, and more. If you have ever dreamed of living the cowboy lifestyle, the Rockin’ R Ranch can offer you all that and more. This is the perfect place to take the whole family and share some uninterrupted quality time.

Rockin' R Ranch Activities

Photos Courtesy of Rockin’ R Ranch

Trying to narrow down everything Bryce Canyon Country offers into just a three-day experience is difficult, so take your time and venture into the unknown at your own pace. You won’t be disappointed with the experiences that await.

Bryce Canyon Country pin




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



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