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The Best Summer Road Trip Routes

When Summer comes around, it’s time to unwind the windows, throw on the best cruising music you can find, and roadtrip under rejuvenating light of the midyear sun. And if you can’t find any sun, just keep the road-trip going until you do.

From Route 66 to the US 1, America has some of the best scenic roads to power through with friends or family. Sometimes the classic trips are the best, but there’s plenty of lesser known highways in the north, south, east and west that’ll take you across beautiful scenery, quaint towns, and gorgeous surroundings.

1. The Overseas Highway, Florida

In the South of Florida, at the furthest point of US Highway 1, the Overseas Highway threads through keys like a bullet.

It’s roughly 150 miles, and you’ll spend the majority of the time zipping through lush islands and oceanic views as you drive along the huge bridges spanning them.

It’s the perfect summertime road trip, putting together long stretches of road, ocean drives, cool breezes, and long straight lines. On top of that, there’s a beach veritably every 10 miles for you to stop, relax, and dip your toes.

Just in case you don’t think the drive has any variance outside of that, there are 5 sections throughout the keys ranging from coral reef to mangrove; over 500 species of fish live in the waters around them alone.

2. Route 66, California

The classic.

No list of road trips would be complete without a nod to the best place to get your kicks. Joining LA and Chicago through the Great Plains, you’ll be driving from IL to CA and carving a path through the heart of the west.

This is Americana at its best, and if you’re not wowed by the baking desert drive, you’ll find it in the throng of down-to-earth mom and pop run towns that cater to travellers passing through.

If you are wowed by the sights, you’ll be blown away by the sheer assortment of things on display; the Grand Canyon, just for starters, but also the Mississippi, Petrified Forest National Park, and the entire stretch of the unassailable Mojave stretching out as far as the eye can see. Whether you end up in the Windy City or splash down in California beach, it’s something everybody should do once in their life.

3. The Road to Hana, Hawaii

You’ve only got a 1 in 52 chance of being able to drive it in your own car, but the Hana Millennium Legacy Trail in Hawaii ranks among the best Summer road-trips because of its remote location in East Maui.

It’s a grand total of 66 kilometres, which puts it a fair bit under the average length of the rest of the list (it can be driven in around 3 hours each way), but what it lacks in length it makes up for in sheer beauty.

If you’re planning a trip to Hawaii anytime soon, or looking for a location to touch down on this summer, definitely consider renting a car and getting lost in the sights.

Speaking of which, we mentioned the driving length earlier, but it’ll take you at least double that (if not more) to traverse the entire length. You’ll be stopping every five minutes to get an eyeful of the next waterfall, beach, or cliffside view.

4. Skyline Drive, Virginia

For East Coasters, there’s the Skyline Drive in Virginia and North Carolina. Starting a couple of hours off of D.C, winding through the Appalachian trail and Shenandoah, you’ll be carving out a slice of American history through trips across Jefferson’s Monticello residence and the Linn Cove Viaduct.

Edging up on 600 miles, the drive isn’t for the faint of hearted, but luckily there are plenty of places to rest for the night. The college town of Charlottesville, Virginia in particular houses a bunch of amazing restaurants, some fantastic architecture (after all, UVA was designed by Jefferson personally), and plenty of shopping if you’re after a day’s break.

After that, you’ll be heading down through the Great Smoky Mountains, which caps off this beautiful array of the best the East has to offer.

5. The Grand Staircase, Utah

Finally, we have the Utah special, Scenic Byway 12.

This route snakes through innumerable canyons and parks, and works as a showcase for the natural beauty of the Utah landscape. It’s enjoyable all year around, but in the summer time it makes for a combination of warm long stretches and cool cliffside breaks.

This is a bit of a longer one, heading from Bryce Canyon all the way to the Petrified Forest, but the mind blowing canyons, rock formations, and intricate geographical patterns in the area make this worth the two days it takes to traverse it.

Ready to hit the road?

If you plan on hitting the open road this summer, make sure both you and your vehicle are well equipped for the long drive. Read our useful article on items to carry in your car in case of emergency, and you’re good to go. All you have to do now is pack your car, prepare the music, and hit the gas!