The autumn months are an ideal time to hit the road. Temperatures are mild, kids are back in school and the highways — for the most part — are less crowded. These eight trips that combine gorgeous scenery with cultural attractions, happening cities and towns, and plenty of things to do. So gas up the tank, pack a camera and enjoy!
8 Road Trips You Need to Take This Fall:
1. Blue Ridge Parkway // North Carolina and Virginia
The 470-mile parkway goes from North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountain National Park to Shenandoah National Park and Virginia’s Skyline Drive, passing through dozens of beautiful hardwood forests, Appalachian mountain towns, pristine lakes, pastoral highlands and hot spots like Asheville. It’s also an All-American Road, and America’s longest linear park.
2. Red Rock Country // Highway 12, Utah
From Arches to Zion, southern Utah has no shortage of stunning drives. But for sheer scenery-per-mile ratio, this highway beats them all. And while this crescent-shaped road is only 124 miles long, it’s packed with a multitude of treasures. Start on the west end at its intersection with U.S. 89 and head east through Red Canyon, which offers day hikes through a maze of red, yellow and orange rock formations.
3. The Coastal Highway // Route 1, Maine
With this route, you get the beauty of the autumn trees and the Maine seashore. This journey through the northernmost parts of Route 1 starts in Portland and passes stunning mansions and lighthouses. Make sure to stop in Acadia National Park for the gorgeous scenery and, if you’re up for it, the five-and-a-half-mile Sargent Mountain Loop hike.
4. Pacific Coast Highway // California
Quintessentially American, the famous Pacific Coast Highway (aka Route 1) snakes across California’s coastline — from LA to San Francisco — for over 600 rugged, cliff-flanked miles. While fall colors might be sparse, there is no shortage of things to do in the form of boardwalks, beaches, quaint seaside towns and old-fashioned amusement parks.
5. Tail of the Dragon // North Carolina and Tennessee
Motorcyclists and sports car drivers flock to this portion of U.S. Route 129 along the Tennessee-North Carolina state line that has 318 curves in 11 miles. Just be sure to stick to the 30 mph speed limit — or drive even slower — so you can safely handle the curves and enjoy the scenery of the Great Smoky Mountains.
6. Green Mountain Highway // Vermont
Vermont is the holy grail of autumn colors in the east as it is almost 80% forest. In fact, local newspapers even track the foliage. This 220-mile route dissects almost the entire state, meandering across sloping mountains, dipping valleys, green pastures, farmlands and forests, and mountains that seem as old as time — all ablaze in shades of yellow, orange, and red.
7. Lake Superior Loop // Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Canada
Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake by surface area in the world. It’s so large you can’t see across to the other side. Luckily for road-trippers, there’s a series of highways that form a big loop around this inland sea. They’ll take you through three states and Canada, so don’t forget to bring your passport as this route has plenty of cliffs, waterfalls and wildlife.
8. Overseas Highway // Route 1, Florida
The Sunshine State and land of eternal summer. The 113-mile Overseas Highway is flanked by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other, connecting mainland Florida with Key West, and the 100 islands of the Florida Keys. The route features classic gift shops and old school burger shacks peddling milkshakes to a stunning backdrop of beautiful beaches and sparkling water.