United States Tourist Attractions for Your Next Road Trip
It's not that difficult to find a list of United States tourist attractions. But which ones make the best road trip destinations?
You have to take a few things into consideration. On the one hand, you may want a spot you can get to easily - perhaps even one that's on your way to somewhere else. In that case, you'll give priority to attractions that are right off an interstate highway.
On the other hand, you may feel that the journey can be as enjoyable as the destination, and therefore prefer a more scenic spot far from civilization.
Hey, we're not going to judge you either way. Our point is, you should put as much thought into the journey as the destination.
OK, enough soapbox. Here are our thoughts on the United States tourist attractions that make the best road trip destinations, and why:
- St. Louis Gateway Arch: If you're driving across the Midwest and want to see something special, check out the St. Louis Arch. Did you know that the surrounding park is actually called the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial? Well, now you do. This is a good stop for families with school-aged kids because it's educational but not boring. Bribe the kids with a trip up the Arch - the view from the top is extraordinary. And the Arch is easy to reach. Interstates 44, 55, 64, and 70 all run nearby.
- Las Vegas: Not a gambler? Doesn't matter. Everyone should drive through Vegas at least once. Try to time your trip so you're driving through Vegas at night. The lights are spectacular beyond description. And Vegas is a good place to find cheap motel rooms and cheap eats. You can get to Las Vegas easily on Interstate 15.
- Kayenta, Arizona: You've probably never heard of Kayenta. And truth be told, there's not much to see in this remote town - except, of course, for the Navajo Code Talkers Exhibit at Burger King. But depending on how you approach Kayenta, your drive should provide you with plenty of photo opportunities in northern Arizona and southern Utah. Kayenta is also a good place to crash if you're planning to see the Four Corners National Monument, Monument Valley, and perhaps even the Grand Canyon (though the latter destination is about a three-hour drive).
- Utah State Parks: Utah's red rock country is gorgeous. Its state parks are worth a stop, whether you have one day or two weeks to spare. This is one United States tourist attraction where you'll want to bring comfortable hiking shoes and the largest memory card your camera will take.
- California Redwood Country: Everyone talks about San Francisco and Wine Country. Not many rave about redwood country - but they should. Here's how to find it: get on Highway 101 north of San Francisco, and just keep driving towards the Oregon border. Pass Santa Rosa. When you start hitting towns like Ukiah and Willits, you'll be in the thick of these glorious trees. Hiking opportunities abound. The small towns up this way are cute and charming (they're too far from San Francisco to ever become bedroom communities).
- Mackinac Island, Michigan: Some years ago, I stood at the highest point of Mackinac Island and looked down towards the bay. It was early October, and the world was ablaze with orange. I will never forget that sight. As you may have guessed, you can't actually drive to Mackinac itself - you need to take a ferry on Lake Huron. But the drive to the area will be spectacular if you go in the fall (and is even quite pleasant in the summer). If you're coming from Wisconsin over the Upper Peninsula, U.S. Route 2 is a delightfully lonely road. If you're coming through lower Michigan, you'll enjoy Interstate 75 once it hits the rural areas.
There are, of course, many other United States tourist attractions that make good road trip destinations. We'll continue to explore them and keep you posted on what we find!