The pull of the open road is strong in summer months when all you want to do is skip town and drive through beautiful landscapes with the windows down and the music blaring. Of course, hopping on a plane to the South of France is nice, but so is the all-American summer—and best of all, it can be easily enjoyed over the weekend, no vacation days needed. But where should you go on your next road trip to avoid the traffic and crowds that build around New England and Big Sur?
Skip the obvious road trip destinations and head for more under-the-radar places. Want to whip around rugged coastlines or breeze through leafy canopies in national forests? Want to taste wine by a quiet lake or feel the majestic grandeur of the Rocky Mountains? Here are five underrated summer road trip destinations that are definitely worth the mileage. Which one will you pick?
Instead of the Pacific Coast Highway, Try the Oregon Coastline
Yes, Big Sure is beautiful, but you know what else is? The Northwest coastline. Take a drive from Bandon, Oregon, to Port Angeles, tucked between Vancouver Island, Canada, and Seattle, and discover the Olympic National Park, the Hoh Rainforest, Haystack Rock, and more.
Total Drive Time: 10.5 hours
Instead of New England, Try the Outer Banks
Skip New England and drive a few hours south to North Carolina's Outer Banks, a thin strip of land that stretches into the Atlantic ocean just south of Virginia Beach. See the Bodie Island Lighthouse, hop over to Ocracoke on a ferry, sample some delicious crab boils, and learn about the region's pirate history.
Total Drive Time: 8.5 hours
Instead of Yellowstone National Park, Try the National Scenic Byway
The Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway runs through Colorado and Utah and provides some of the nation's best vistas, not to mention it is rich in archeological sites where dinosaur bones and tracks are still visible in the ground. Start in Denver and drive through the mountains, where you'll cross famous resort towns like Breckenridge, Vail, and Aspen, and cut to the north to go through Dinosaur National Monument before continuing south to Moab, Utah, where you'll be mesmerized by the Arches National Park.
Total Drive Time: 9.5 hours
Instead of British Columbia, Try the Kenai Fjords
Skip the Alaskan cruises and take a drive instead, from Anchorage to Seward, Alaska. Beautiful in summer months, this rugged coastline is dotted with dramatic views, from majestic fjords to impressive ice caps. Stop on the way at the Chugach National Forest, known for its glaciers and crystal blue lakes and rivers.
Total Drive Time: 2.5 hours
Instead of Hudson Valley, Try the Finger Lakes
Skip the crowded Hudson Valley in Upstate New York and experience the Finger Lakes region instead. From New York, head north toward Ithaca, and explore the region's beautiful lakes, national forests, and rich wine country. You'll be positively charmed.
Total Drive Time: 6 hours
Next up: These East Coast road trips will fuel your sense of adventure.