Hit the Road: Discover the 5 Best U.S. Summer Road Trips

With road trip season in full swing, now’s the time to learn more about the top destinations in the United States. 

Market Watch recently released its list of the five best summer road trip destinations for 2023. No matter where you live, where you’re going, or what type of trip you want to take, you’re sure to find that one (or more) of these trips matches your wants and needs. 

Let’s take a closer look at the list!

California: Pacific Coast Highway

Pacific Coast Highway California
Photo Credit: [@appalachianview/DepositPhotos]

Whether you begin in Dana Point or Leggett, a journey along California’s State Route 1, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), is a rewarding experience. The PCH unveils over 650 miles of breathtaking coastal landscapes and no shortage of attractions.

Route 1 traverses iconic locales like San Francisco, Santa Barbara, and Big Sur as America’s second-longest state highway. 

For example, in Santa Barbara, a visit to Stearns Wharf, the oldest active wharf in the state, is a must. It hosts an array of unique shops, seafood eateries, and the engaging Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center. 

As your journey culminates in Humboldt County, take in the redwood forest, famously known as the Avenue of the Giants.

Florida Keys: Miami to Key West

7 mile bridge florida
Photo Credit: [@sergey.miami2you/DepositPhotos]

Embarking on a summer road trip from Miami through the Florida Keys offers an unforgettable experience. As you navigate the Overseas Highway, you can take in hundreds of miles of awe-inspiring scenery. 

Despite the route’s short four-hour duration, you should still allocate several days to fully immerse yourself in the numerous pit stops.

Planning your journey in early summer ensures manageable humidity levels and attractive deals on accommodations and activities. For fishing enthusiasts, Key West provides experienced charter guides at affordable prices, offering a chance to catch snapper, grouper, tuna, and more.

Maine: Portland to Quebec City

Quebec City
Photo Credit: [rabbit75_dep/Deposit Photos]

Venturing north from Portland, Maine, to Quebec City, Canada, offers a unique blend of cultural enrichment and adventure. Highlights in Maine include the acclaimed Children’s Museum and Theatre and the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, renowned for its American and contemporary art collections.

For those seeking an adrenaline rush, West Forks offers white water rafting tours and camping sites. A 40-minute drive later, you enter Quebec, Canada’s vibrant French-speaking province.

Upon reaching Quebec City, you’ll find plenty of historical sites alongside summer festivities. 

Note: Music enthusiasts will enjoy the Festival d’ete de Quebec, a July event showcasing prominent artists.

Nevada: Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada

Sierra Nevada
Photo Credit: [@a_oldman/DepositPhotos]

Nevada is home to Lake Tahoe, known as the “Jewel of the Sierra Nevada.” En route to this natural wonder, consider visiting Reno and Virginia City. Here, you can enjoy rodeos, art exhibitions, and hiking trails — and that’s just the start. 

Upon reaching Lake Tahoe, you can engage in various water activities like kayaking, paddle boarding, or a lake cruise. The region has hiking and biking paths and numerous campgrounds, making it an ideal RV road trip destination.

Washington State: Olympic Peninsula Loop

Hoh Rainforest Olympic Peninsula NP
Photo Credit: [@zrfphoto/DepositPhotos]

From a large selection of wineries to urban adventures near Seattle, Washington State offers both locals and tourists a broad spectrum of experiences. The Olympic Peninsula is a highlight of the region, encircling the famous Olympic National Park.

As you journey along the U.S. 101 loop encircling the park, you’ll be greeted by an array of picturesque landscapes, winding past the charming locales of Port Townsend and Sequim, known for their aromatic lavender fields in summer.

And, of course, you want to take advantage of an opportunity to explore the Hoh rainforest, one of Earth’s most extensive temperate rainforest ecosystems. It offers year-round camping facilities, is situated less than an hour from Forks, and is easily reachable via Route 101.

Smart Road Trip Tips

friends on a road trip
Photo Credit: [@Wavebreakmedia/DepositPhotos]

As you can tell from the list above, road trips can be an exciting way to experience everything the country offers. However, a successful road trip requires careful planning and consideration. 

1. Experience Local Culture: Instead of just focusing on the end point of your journey, relish the beauty of the small towns you pass by. Every place has unique characteristics expressed through customs, traditions, and food. Explore local bazaars, engage in community activities, or converse with the people you meet. Such interactions often leave a lasting impression on your journey.

2. Mindful Music Selection: Music plays a crucial role in setting the mood during a road trip. Consider creating a collaborative playlist that everyone enjoys. Don’t forget to download your playlist for those out-of-service areas. Music can turn long drives into a sing-along adventure and make the journey as enjoyable as the destination.

3. Remain Flexible: While having a schedule is essential, don’t let it constrain you. Welcome the unexpected and make room for spontaneous choices. You might come across a captivating wildlife park or a local celebration that’s too good to miss. Being adaptable can unlock unexpected adventures.

4. Prepare for Everything: Before embarking on your journey, ensure your vehicle is ready for the trip ahead. Carry emergency supplies like a first-aid kit, essential tools, a backup tire, and important contact numbers. It’s also a good idea to know the basics of car maintenance.

5. Embrace a Digital Break: Try to keep your smartphone usage to a minimum. While taking photos is fine, remember to be present and truly experience your surroundings. A brief digital detox will allow you to immerse yourself in the experience and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Unforgettable Summer Road Trips

road trip
Photo Credit: [@tonodiaz/DepositPhotos]

Summer road trips offer the perfect opportunity to break free from the mundane routine and immerse oneself in the thrill of exploration. Whether traversing winding coastal roads or navigating scenic mountain passes, the open road beckons with promises of adventure and discovery. Enjoy your summer!

This article originally appeared on Wander With Alex. Study by MarketWatch.


Hit the Road: Discover the 5 Best U.S. Summer Road Trips
Chris Bibey