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The Best Road Trips to Take in the States This Summer

how to take an iconic American family road trip this summer in the United States

What are the top luxury summer vacation destinations in 2020, given COVID-19? Two words: Road Trip. Our intrepid correspondent Abbie Martin Greenbaum breaks down the iconic luxurious American journeys that will make for the best family road trips in the United States this summer.

how to think about summer vacation 2020

Here at Dandelion Chandelier, we’ve been thinking – and dreaming – quite a lot about road trips lately. The summer season is here, but international travel restrictions are still in place. And crowded urban areas don’t sound like a great idea at the moment.

how to take an iconic American family road trip this summer in the United States

We are all a little squeamish about the idea of traveling in an airplane right now. But that doesn’t mean our wanderlust has to stop! If your travel plans were totally derailed due to COVID-19, there is still a way to explore the great wide world around you, without any of the safety risk. Dear reader, it’s road trip time!

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Road trips are an iconic summer pastime, and the perfect way to see some sights that you might otherwise miss entirely. Here we have ten iconic American road trip recommendations – some that you could take in an afternoon, and some that you might want to make over a full week. It’s time to pack your bags, get in the car, and hit the open road.

The Best Road Trips to Take in the States This Summer

1. Pacific Coast Highway

The Pacific Coast Highway, otherwise known as Highway 1, is probably the most famous road trip in the United States.  What makes it so great? Aside from the absolutely breathtaking views, the trip is easily customizable: you can start the drive to San Diego in either Los Angeles or San Francisco, or even all the way up in Seattle if you’re craving a longer vacation.

best road trip states summer

The most iconic American summer road trips: Highway 1 on the Pacific Coast, California. Courtesy Photo.

And of course, wherever you start, you’ll want to make sure you leave plenty of time on your trip for stops, since this drive will take you by dozens of hotspots, including Redwood National and State Parks, Half Moon Bay, and the exquisite Big Sur – not to mention everything that’s inside the cities themselves. If you are only going to make one road trip in your lifetime, make it this one.

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2. Park Loop Road

If you’re looking for a shorter road trip, consider setting aside an afternoon to drive through Acadia National Park, in Bar Harbor, Maine.  These 27 gorgeous miles begin at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center, and will take you through the entire park, eclipsing the Cadillac Mountains, Sand Beach, Jordan Pond, and many more sights. This is also the rare road trip that you can do without driving yourself, as there’s a bus shuttle available.

best road trip states summer

The best scenic road trips to take this summer 2020:  Park Loop Road. Courtesy Photo.

3. Going-to-the-Sun Road

In the heart of Montana, Going-to-the-Sun road is a scenic mountain road going straight through the Rocky Mountains. Fifty miles long, it traverses Glacier National Park, passing through forests, lakes and valleys. Though it’s a short drive, it’s considered one of the most memorable in the country, taking you to McDonald Falls, the Weeping Wall, and Sunrest Gorge. Whether you’re driving east to west or west to east, you’ll definitely want to park your car and go on a short hike before heading home.

best road trip states summer

Going to the sun road. Courtesy Road.

4. New Hampshire Route 112 (Kancamagus Highway)

New Hampshire Route 112 is a road that weaves through the entire state, including White Mountain National Forest. The highway is in two parts, first from Bath to Lincoln, and then Lincoln to Conway, and it’s the second half that is called the Kancamagus Highway, and has been designated as a National Scenic Byway. Though of course it is beautiful year-round, this one is a particularly fantastic trip to take in the fall, as it provides some of the best views of foliage in the country.

best road trip states summer

The best scenic road trips to take this summer 2020: New Hampshire Route 112. Courtesy Photo.

5. 89A

From Sedona to Flagstaff, Arizona’s 89A has cliffs, canyons, natural waterslides and so much more. The road travels from Sedona down into the unforgettable Oak Creek Canyon, which is where you should set aside ample time to hike, picnic and explore. Famously considered one of the most scenic drives in the state, it is not to be missed.

best road trip states summer

How to take a luxurious road trip this summer: Route 89A. Courtesy Photo.

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6. Utah State Road 12

Also known as Scenic Byway 12, this 122 mile highway cuts through both the Dixie National Forest and the Bryce Canyon National Park, enjoying some incredible sights along the way. This is a trip best done over several days, so as to give yourself a chance to check out Red Canyon, Kodachrome Basin State Park, and Boulder Mountain. You’re not going to find views like this anywhere else.

summer vacation destinations 2020

How to take a luxurious road trip this summer: Utah Route State 12. Courtesy Photo.

7. Blue Ridge Parkway

The legendary 500 mile Blue Ridge Parkway runs from Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains.  You’ll begin in Virginia, meandering all the way to North Carolina – but even though the drive could be completed in nine or ten hours, it is recommended to set aside several days for this trip, so that you don’t miss anything. You’re going to want to hike Peaks of Otter, ascend to the Richland Balsam Overlook, and take plenty of pictures of the Craggy Gardens. This is one of the most-traveled roads in the US, and for a good reason.

 

summer vacation destinations 2020

How to take a luxurious family road trip this summer: Blue Ridge Parkway. Courtesy Photo.

8. Overseas Highway

Overseas Highway is the 113 mile stretch connecting the mainland of Florida to Key West. Though the drive from Key Largo takes only a few hours, there is enough to do to turn those few hours into a few days. The ‘keys’ refer to the many small islands connected here by bridges, each one stunning and worth a voyage. You’ll also find snorkeling, swimming, and plenty of delicious food. Make a stop at Harriette’s Diner to pick up some muffins for your ride, and settle in for a fabulous seafood dinner at Lorelai Restaurant.

summer vacation destinations 2020

Iconic American road trips to take this summer: the Overseas Highway. Courtesy Photo.

9. Route 66

2,500 miles, encompassing eight states, this historic drive from Chicago to Los Angeles is one every road-tripper should make in their lifetime. In a lot of ways, this is the quintessential drive, making up for its lack of natural scenery with its plethora of roadside attractions.  Catch a glimpse of Oklahoma’s Blue Whale of Catoosa, Texas’s Cadillac Ranch, and Kansas’s Rainbow Bridge. You can expect some great side trips, fantastic restaurants, and plenty of neon signs to light your way.

summer vacation destinations 2020

The most iconic American family road trips: Route 66. Courtesy Photo.

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10. U.S. 50 (The Loneliest Road in America)

The name is a little bit misleading, because U.S. Route 50 – stretching all the way from Sacramento, California to Maryland – is one of the most popular road trips in America. It’s over 3,000 miles, taking the driver from coast to coast on a trip that feels more like a right of passage. Though it cuts through states like Ohio, Colorado, and Indiana, the ‘Loneliest Road’ specifically refers to the section in Nevada, which is named for the immense amounts of open space that exist without any civilization.  This is a journey you will never forget.

summer vacation destinations 2020

How to take a summer family road trip in the United States: U.S. 50. Courtesy Photo.

The Best Road Trips to Take in the States This Summer

Those are our thoughts on how to take a luxurious family road trip in the United States this summer. They’re among the best and most iconic American summer road trips to take. What do you say, dear reader? Are you ready to hit the road?

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For access to insider ideas and information on the world of luxury, sign up for our Dandelion Chandelier Newsletter hereAnd see luxury in a new light.

Abbie Martin Greenbaum grew up in New York City and currently lives in Brooklyn, where she drinks a lot of coffee and matches roommates together for a living. At Oberlin College, she studied English and Cinema, which are still two of her favorite things, along with dessert and musical theater. She believes in magic.

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