Favorite Drives in the U.S.
No matter where you live, there’s likely a scenic drive nearby, be it a forest-lined highway or a sunny, shore-hugging route. Many are looking forward to the spring and summer to get away in the safest way possible.
Leave the logistics to me, and your itinerary can include chic (socially distanced) overnights at Virtuoso hotels, travel navigation, and expert insight on the best roadside stops, restaurants, and more.
Here are a few ideas that will have you ready to load up the car!
North Carolina and Virginia: Blue Ridge Parkway
Stretching 469 miles between Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Parkway cuts through the Appalachian Highlands, showcasing waterfall-dotted hiking trails, family-run wineries and breweries, and bluegrass jam sessions along the way.
Don’t Miss: The Linn Cove Viaduct and Grandfather Mountain for some of the parkway’s best photo ops, the High Country (Boone, Blowing Rock, and Banner Elk) for small-town exploration, and Virginia’s Grayson Highlands State Park for horseback riding. Favorite stops are Asheville’s Folk Art Center and Mount Mitchell State Park. At 6,683 feet, Mount Mitchell is the highest point in North Carolina. You can see to Virginia and Tennessee from the top. Overnight: Off Mile Marker 178 in Meadows of Dan, Virginia, the 51-room Primland Resort features lodge-style accommodations, private cottages, and treehouse retreats overlooking the mountains. (Plus yoga, stargazing, golf, and many other outdoor activities.) Pro Tip: Keep towels, extra clothes, and shoes for everyone handy, as many of the roadside trails have creeks and rivers for wading. And download driving directions; some areas are remote and it can be challenging to get a cell signal.
Montana: Going-to-the-Sun Road
The 50-mile Going-to-the-Sun Road bisects Glacier National Park’s glacial lakes, valleys, and cedar forests, while climbing to an altitude of more than 6,400 feet. Many find the two-lane road’s cliff-hugging panoramas exhilarating, but, for some, it’s definitely a white-knuckles-on-the-wheel experience. You don’t have to get out into the backcountry to experience some epic scenery. Don’t Miss: The 5.4-mile Hidden Lake trail near the Logan Pass Visitor Centre cuts through alpine meadows before leading hikers to a popular overlook. Next Stop: A four-hour drive south in Montana’s Bitterroot Mountains, the 23-cabin Triple Creek Ranch keeps guests busy on fly-fishing trips, cattle drives, and more.
Texas: Hill Country
This bucolic Central Texas region, north of San Antonio and west of Austin, is blanketed in bluebonnets in March and April and beloved by day-trippers looking to cool off in its spring-fed natural swimming holes in the summer. It’s all about slowing down here – in small-town general stores, at hilltop wineries, and with plenty of Lone Star style. How to Go: Use Austin as a home base for day trips into the country. The 107-room Miraval Austin, a wellness-centric retreat outside the city in the Balcones Canyonland Preserve is a great place for solitude and to rest and relax. Don’t Miss: Krause Springs in Spicewood for swimming, and the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area outside of Fredericksburg for hiking – it’s the country’s largest pink granite monadnock. Nearby, in Texas Wine Country, dozens of tasting rooms welcome visitors like a popular one called Augusta Vin.
California: Pacific Coast Highway
The 1,675-mile Pacific Coast Highway stretches all the way from San Diego to Washington State, but the coastal road’s most iconic portion lies between Los Angeles and San Francisco. And while you technically could make that drive in about nine hours, the PCH (aka State Route 1) is meant to be savored. There are too may blufftop viewpoints, laid-back coastal towns, and oceanfront restaurants to rush things. Overnights: Any of the Virtuoso hotels along the PCH are a solid bet – like spending a night in Malibu or Santa Barbara, at the Malibu Beach Inn or the Rosewood Miramar Beach. Ride down to Coast Village Road in Montecito in one of the hotel’s pastel-colored buggies – it’s very photo-worthy. In Big Sur, the adults-only, 39-room Post Ranch Inn can quickly turn a weekend trip into the ultimate romantic getaway. Natural Wonders: Pull over and snap some photos at the viewing areas that overlook the Piedras Blancas elephant seal rookery near San Simeon, Big Sur’s McWay Falls Lookout, and the Bixby Creek Bridge near Monterey.
Hawaii: Hana Highway
Also known as the Road to Hana, the 64-mile Hana Highway connects Paia and Hana on Maui’s lush northeast coast. It’s a leisurely drive, thanks to multiple one-lane portions of the road, hundreds of hairpin turns, and inviting waysides that invite Aloha State travelers to pull over for a picnic, swim, or hike. Bonus Drive: Most people turn back at Hana, but continue the adventure along the southern slope of Haleakala. A good portion of the road is one lane and either rough pavement or dirt, but it’s worth it. The views are unreal – both of the ocean and the volcano because of the scale of the terrain. Home Base: Most of Maui’s best resorts are located on the west coast near the towns of Wailea and Kapalua – both are about a 30-to-60-minute drive from the start of the Hana Highway. The sleek oceanfront villas at the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort have private pools, gourmet kitchens, and direct beach access. Pro Tip: Pack a cooler with lunch. There are fruit stands and some other vendors, but no real restaurants to stop at for a meal.
Florida: Overseas Highway
Built in the late 1930s over much of Florida’s former East Coast Railroad, the 113-mile “Highway that Goes to the Sea” is a series of 42 low-slung bridges that connect Miami and the Florida Keys, culminating at the southernmost point in the U.S. – Key West. Must-Stops: Key Largo for roadside conch fritters and key lime pie slices; Islamorada and Marathon to go diving or fishing; and Key West for beaches, old Hemingway haunts, and nightly sunset celebrations in Mallory Square. Kayak around the mangroves at sunset, or take a sunset cruise on a schooner or a sailboat. Socially distanced accommodations at Key West’s 40-room Sunset Key Cottages include Victorian-style homes with wraparound verandas and easy beach access. Pro Tip: Pack water and snacks. From Miami, the first half of the drive is a straight shot over the water – there isn’t anywhere to stop until you get to Key Largo.
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