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Planning a road trip? I partnered with TopBloggers, on behalf of Santa Rosa County Tourism, to share 7 amazing road trips I wouldn't mind taking with my family!
Lately, I find myself daydreaming about the mountains, the beach, back roads… We have a million places we'd love to visit. Some of those places involve road trips, a few of which we've taken and a few of which are still on our list. Maybe by the time we get to explore the roads we've yet to travel, we'll have our Volkswagen Bus up and running. There's nothing quite as adventurous as a good, old-fashioned road trip, though.
We try to take at least one road trip every year, and in between trips, we take little day trips closer to home. It's always an exciting morning when we pack up the family in the car and head out on the open road to new adventures waiting just around the next turn. To be quite honest, some of our road trips have turned out a bit like a National Lampoon's vacation; but then again, some of our favorite memories have been made on those exact road trips. We still laugh about the time a bear invaded our campsite in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Whether you're dreaming up your next trip or just figuring out where you want to go, these 7 road trips will definitely have you feeling like the travel bug has bitten.
1. Million Dollar Highway – U.S. Route 550 in Colorado
There are so many road trips one could take while visiting Colorado, but this one is just spectacular. Referred to as the Million Dollar Highway, there are 2 possible reasons for U.S. 550's nickname: 1) the million dollar views around every turn of this amazing road or 2) you couldn’t pay some drivers a million bucks to drive this road again. It winds through valleys and mountains from Montrose, Colorado, all the way down through Durango into New Mexico, taking you through towns like Ouray and Silverton. And if you happen to be in Silverton on any given morning, be sure to stop in at the Kendall Mountain Cafe for the most delicious breakfast you’ve ever enjoyed. The stretch between Ouray and Durango is my favorite part of the highway, leaving passersby with glimpses of old mines and mining shacks, 4×4 mountain roads (one of which we drove to find a campsite for the night in the Lizard Head Wilderness area), beautiful mountain passes, waterfalls, switchbacks, and more.
2. Route 66
Starting in Chicago, Historic Route 66, better known as the Mother Road, winds its way to Santa Monica, California. If you're a lover of all things vintage, it's definitely the road trip of a lifetime. Travelers come from all over the world to travel this renowned roadway. It lacks absolutely nothing in history, amazing stories, and a legacy worth preserving. Along the way, you'll find no shortage of family-friendly places to explore, beautiful architecture, nostalgia, backroad adventures, interesting people, amazing food, and photo opps from beginning to end.
(Photo Credit: Santa Rosa County Tourism)
3. Santa Rosa County, Florida
We talk about this all the time as a family, but I absolutely love living in the middle. It means we can plan a road trip to the beach if we want. We're currently planning a trip to Florida this fall, so it only makes sense that beautiful Navarre Beach, located on a barrier island, would be in our plans. While we've occasionally visited theme parks and had a blast, most of our trips revolve around outdoor adventures and exploring places that are off the main drag.
A hidden gem, Santa Rosa County has that small town feel with plenty of activities that make it an outdoor lover's paradise. It's a place to disconnect from electronics and connect as a family. White sands and blue-green water make for fantastic beaches that are less crowded, meaning more solitude, peace, and quiet. Snorkeling, biking, hiking, kayaking, camping, zip-lining, paddle-boarding, fishing, the Panhandle Butterfly House… There's so much to see and do. And if you enjoy exploring around town, you'll find plenty of small town, mom-n-pop shops, along with local eateries.
Navarre Beach, Blackwater River State Forest, and Historic Milton are definitely calling my name right now.
4. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Both outdoor adventure and history awaits visitors to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina. Love visiting old homesteads and learning all you can about the people who lived there? Take a scenic drive to Cades Cove, the Mountain Farm Museum, and Mingus Mill. Love a good view? Climb the trail to Clingmans Dome. Love a shady trail through the forest? Hike to Laurel Falls. And if you're into camping, Cosby Campground has some of the best, most beautiful sites of any campground we've ever visited; just beware of bears.
5. Northwest Arkansas
Of course, I live here, but why wouldn't I include Northwest Arkansas in my list of amazing road trip destinations? We live in a beautiful area filled with so many things to see and do. From scenic byways to mountain bike trails, state parks with loads of hiking trails, War Eagle Mill, antique shops, the 112 Drive In, and delicious food, it's a road trip warrior's haven. If you're in the Rogers area, you'll definitely want to grab a Cheesecake Malt at Susie Q's; you won't see it on the menu, but just go ahead and order. It's heaven in a styrofoam cup.
6. Pacific Coast Highway
Dan and I traveled part of this highway when we were expecting our first child and again with 2 of our boys. It's definitely a byway we hope to travel again some day with all of our boys, and hopefully in our Bus. Don't forget your camera on this trip because the views are absolutely breathtaking. Rocky shorelines, overhanging cliffs, curves and turns, Hearst Castle, quaint beach towns, San Francisco, Redwoods National Park… There are so many places to explore, you'll definitely want to plan plenty of time for this beautiful road trip.
7. Highway 12 in Utah
Highway 12 meanders up through the southern part of Utah. Along the way, travelers can explore beautiful places like Bryce Canyon, Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument, Boulder Mountain, the Dixie National Forest, and Capitol Reef National Park. This road boasts desert valleys, beautiful rocky canyons, and mountain vistas.
Even the road trips we've already taken that are on this list, I would not mind taking again. Maybe it's summer, maybe I've been bitten by the travel bug, maybe it's just an innate desire to explore all I can with my family. Either way, I'm ready for a road trip.