Two years of lockdowns and border restrictions have made travellers eager to return to the open road. With the USA now firmly back on the map for UK travellers, discover some of the country’s most incredible road trip itineraries – from the coast of California to the Florida Everglades.
Epic Californian road trip – Highway 1 from San Francisco to Fort Bragg
California is renowned worldwide for epic road trips, and Highway 1 from San Francisco to Fort Bragg is one of the best routes for travellers to explore the Golden State. Covering 175 miles, the drive begins with the Golden Gate Bridge into Sausalito and Marin County, where travellers will encounter the coastal hills and redwoods of Muir Woods National Monument, followed by the dramatic sea cliffs and remote beaches of Point Reyes National Seashore.
From there, they can drive through the rolling vineyards of Napa Valley and Sonoma County’s wine country. Then, explore the seemingly untouched beauty of the North Coast, from the craggy coastline at Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands to the rugged terrain at Mendocino Headlands State Park and the quaint, Victorian-style town of Mendocino. Next, travellers can head north on Highway 1 to Fort Bragg and explore MacKerricher State Park to see seals, migrating whales (from November to April), and Glass Beach, which looks like it’s covered with jewels.
Experience the very best of southern California with the SoCal Triangle. Beginning in LA, travellers can enjoy the glitz and glamour of West Hollywood before heading east to Greater Palm Springs. Made up of nine distinct cities, each has its own character and charm with plenty of restaurants, bars, art galleries, rooftop pools and more to discover. Depart the desert for San Diego, California’s most southern city. Known for its laid back vibe, visitors can relax by the beach, try various different watersports, or spend their days exploring each of the different neighbourhoods. Finish the epic road trip with a drive along the scenic Pacific Coast Highway back to LA for the return flight home.
Discover the Gold Country Highway 49 – from Oakhurst through Yosemite’s Mariposa and Tuolumne County via Sacramento
Enjoy Sarsaparilla, gold-panning, historic saloons and more along this historic Gold Rush Trail. Along the route, find charming mining towns surrounded by panoramic vistas and bubbling streams of the western Sierra Nevada foothills. This 300-plus mile road — also known as the Gold Rush Trail and Gold Chain Highway — begins in Oakhurst before heading north, passing a host of historic towns that have maintained their 1850s charm. Stop by the California State Mining and Mineral Museum in Mariposa for a quick Gold Rush history lesson, and take a gander at Hotel Jeffrey, a historic spot in Coulterville that claims John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt as past visitors.
Depending on the time of year, just north of Coulterville travellers can head east on Highway 120, aka Tioga Pass to enjoy the grandeur of Yosemite National Park. Spend the day exploring the landscape before staying at AutoCamp Yosemite which offers guests the opportunity to glamp in Airstream cabins and/or luxury platform tents. Continue north and dive deeper into Gold Rush history in Yosemities’ Tuolumne County and visit Jamestown, a beautifully reserved historic town where visitors can pan for gold or hop aboard an antique steam locomotive at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park.
Continue on to discover the buzzing art scene and farm-to-fork restaurants in Sacramento, the bustling capital of California. After its initial Gold Rush-era boom, Sacramento’s popularity gave way to glitzier cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles. Now the fastest-growing and most hipster city in California is ready to steal back the spotlight. Boasting 1.5 million acres of active farmland, the region has prime access to fresh ingredients and the world has taken notice – with The Kitchen having been awarded Sacramento’s first Michelin Star. Fine dining restaurants nestled in historic buildings on blocks with art galleries, bookstores and family-owned shops are the norm in Sacramento, but there’s more to the city than food and drink. Take a guided mural walk and explore some of the incredible murals around the city; keep your eyes peeled for the famous Lady Bird and Johnny Cash art. Book a stay at the Citizen Hotel, a luxury, boutique hotel in the heart of the city, blending the best of two eras and combining the formality and magnificence of Sacramento’s history with today’s modern amenities.
Epic family road trip through Colorado
With so much to see, Colorado’s open roads and natural attractions offer the perfect setting for a family road trip. After flying into Denver International Airport, families can hire a car and begin their epic seven-day journey to Glenwood Springs, seeing incredible landscapes at every turn. In the state capital Denver, there are plenty of family-friendly attractions to experience including Downtown Aquarium, Denver Zoo, Denver Art Museum. After exploring the city, it’s time to head to Canon City, where the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park has one of the world’s longest and highest suspension bridges. The park offers rides, wildlife and many other entertainment and attractions. From Canon City, families can make their way towards Alamosa and Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, home to towering sand dunes set against a beautiful mountain backdrop. Mesa Verde National Park, one of only 20 World Heritage sites in the United States, is next on the agenda with more beautiful sites and hikes to be explored.
The following day will see wayfarers heading to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park where the depths of the black rock can be explored through hiking or camping. On day six, journey along the 23-mile Rim Rock Drive, which offers astonishing red-rock formations and breathtaking views. Along the route, there are many stalls to visit for homegrown fruit and produce. Ending the road trip in Glenwood Springs, families can relax and reflect on the trip’s unforgettable memories with a stay at Glenwood Hot Springs Resort which boasts the world’s largest hot springs pool. Head back to Denver at the end of the trip, less than a three-hour drive away.
Drive along Florida’s Paradise Coast – Naples to the Everglades
Starting in Naples, explore the Barefoot Beach Preserve County Park, home to bottle-nosed dolphins and the burrowing gopher tortoise. A kayaking tour is one of the best ways to explore the island, taking advantage of the paddling trails along the east side. Naples is also home to some seriously glam beaches which come complete with volleyball nets, beach chairs and the famous boardwalks. At sunset, don’t miss a trip to Naples Pier.
If shopping is the order of the day, Naples has got visitors covered. Both high-end stores and small boutiques make this beachfront shopping destination unique. Fifth Avenue South and Third Street South offer long stretches of quaint boutiques, sidewalk cafes and art galleries. Or, head to the Village on Venetian Bay for more than 45 shops and many restaurants, all along the waterfront. Just across the bridge to the south of Naples sits Marco Island, a barrier island known for its resort hotels, inland waterways and picturesque beaches. Be sure to visit the tidal lagoon at Tigertail Beach Park. Kids of all ages (and grown-ups, too) will delight at the butterfly garden, sand volleyball court, picnic areas and more.
The last stop is the UNESCO World Heritage Site Everglades National Park. The best way to experience the Everglades’ wilderness is by guided tour via kayak, airboat, paddle, onboard a WaveRunner or swamp walking on foot. Visitors will have the opportunity to spot over 200 different species of birds, manatees, dolphins, alligators (the only place in the world where both cohabit) as well as the rare ghost orchid and Florida Panther.