Kings Of The Road Four Great Summer Road Trips
(MONEY Magazine) – Sometimes the best summer getaway is spent in your car, exploring the country's endless nooks and crannies. Here are four excellent road trips, each in a different region of the United States.
U.S. 1 Up Maine's coast (275 miles)
One of America's most storied highways, U.S. 1 largely follows the route of the old Boston Post Road, which linked the original 13 colonies. Perhaps its most scenic stretch is up the jagged coast of Maine, where it passes through marvelously time-warped old towns and provides spectacular views of the Atlantic. An essential stop along the way is Mount Desert Island, home of Acadia National Park, which offers wonderful oceanside hiking and some of America's best bird watching. Another is the Big Chicken Barn in Ellsworth (207-667-7308), Maine's largest antiquarian bookstore, with more than 100,000 books and 10,000 magazines. And what would a Maine road trip be without lobster? There are dozens of fine seafood shacks along U.S. 1, including the Sea Basket in Wiscasset (207-882-6581), the Ogunquit Lobster Pound in Ogunquit (207-646-2516) and the classic Maine Diner in Wells (207-646-4441), where the specialty is lobster pie--sort of like a chicken pot pie, only with lobster.
MINNESOTA 61 Duluth to Grand Portage (150 miles)
People may snicker when you say you're going to Duluth (it seems to work as the punch line to virtually any joke), but you'll get the last laugh because the city is the launching point for a trip up Minnesota's North Shore, a 150-mile jaunt with gorgeous views of Lake Superior that make it America's loveliest Great Lakes drive. Several dirt roads branch off from the main route and lead into the adjacent Superior National Forest, where the dazzling fir, birch and spruce trees will help you feel very far from civilization. Back on the main highway, stop for a hike and a view of the spectacular waterfalls at Gooseberry Falls State Park (218-834-3855) and indulge yourself at the locally famous Betty's Pies (218-834-3367). Head toward the Canadian border and you'll come to Grand Portage National Monument in Grand Marais (218-387-2788), where you'll see the restored stockade of the North West Fur Company, a key trading post in the late 1700s.
ROUTE 66 Arizona and New Mexico (600 miles)
Although most of it has been bypassed by expressways, Route 66 remains the quintessential American road trip, and many of its best remaining stretches are in the Southwest. Now as much a living museum as a working highway, 66 is an unbeatable source of history and Americana, thanks to the pluckiness of the various neon-signed mom-and-pop businesses that have managed to hold on despite decreasing use of the road and thanks also to the nostalgia- and history-driven Route 66 preservation movement (for an overview, visit www.national66.com). There are literally dozens of great stops along the way, including the eccentric burger-and-milkshake joint Delgadillo's Snow Cap Drive-In in Seligman, Ariz. (520-422-3291); the Blue Hole, which is an artesian well in Santa Rosa, N.M. filled with such crystal-clear water that scuba divers practice there; and the lovely Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, N.M. (505-461-9849), once described by Smithsonian magazine as "the last, best and friendliest of the old-time motels." If possible, time your trip to be in Albuquerque July 20-22 for the Remember the Route festival, in honor of 66's 75th anniversary.
U.S. 101 Down Oregon's coast (365 miles)
Running 365 miles from Astoria, Ore. to the California border, U.S. 101's route down the Oregon coast is among America's most beautiful drives. Virtually every twist and turn in the road brings another breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean, and more than three dozen state parks--the highest concentration per mile in the country--provide ample opportunities for stretching your legs and hitting the beach. Other worthwhile stops along the way include the tiny village of Gearhart, the hometown and summer retreat of the late chef James Beard, whose culinary heritage is celebrated at local eateries like the Pacific Way Bakery & Cafe (503-738-0245); the Tillamook Air Museum (503-842-1130), which tells the story of America's World War II coastline-surveillance blimps and is housed in a massive dirigible hangar that ranks among the world's largest wooden structures; and the irresistible Sea Lion Caves in Florence (541-547-3111), a natural sea cave where you can watch sea lions frolicking.