Special Report

The Best Road Trips to Take Before Summer Ends

Source: usfs_eastern_region / Flickr

Michigan Coast
> Start: Holland, Michigan
> End: Potawatomi Falls, Michigan
> Total miles: 733

This trip along Lake Michigan and Lake Superior passes waterfalls, sand dunes, lighthouses, cliffs, and so many beaches. Beginning at the Big Red Lighthouse in Holland, skirt the coast and visit several more historic lighthouses and Sleeping Bear Dunes before stopping in Suttons Bay to visit one of the area’s cider makers. Then follow the scenic coast to the Upper Peninsula, heading to Tahquamenon Falls State Park. Seven potential waterfall stops lie to the west before you reach Potawatomi Falls on the Black River Scenic Byway.

Source: Art Wager / Getty Images

Pacific Coast Highway
> Start: Crescent City, California
> End: San Diego, California
> Total miles: 988

Highway 101 south from Crescent City takes you through some of California’s best giant redwood forests. In Leggett, hop on Highway 1 to the coast, where you’ll drive along cliffs of blooming wildflowers, and can stop at the Little River Blowhole, a sinkhole that fills with ocean waves at high tide. Hiking options along the way include the short Gualala Bluff Trail or a jaunt around Big Sur. Stop to marvel at the Golden Gate Bridge, and as you continue south, don’t miss the beach towns of Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, and La Jolla.

Loneliest Road
> Start: Pueblo, Colorado
> End: South Lake Tahoe, California
> Total miles: 1,066

U.S. Route 50 runs coast to coast from Ocean City, Maryland to Sacramento, California, but the scenery peaks through Colorado’s Rocky Mountains to the iconic Nevada corridor known as the Loneliest Road in America. Worthwhile stops are the painted rocks of Black Canyon in Gunnison National Park and the dramatic views at Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area. Finish off by exploring the high mountain peaks surrounding Lake Tahoe.

Source: Sean Pavone / iStock via Getty Images

Southern Gems
> Start: Charleston, South Carolina
> End: Nashville, Tennessee via New Orleans
> Total miles: 1,358

For an entertainment-themed road trip with endless bars, restaurants, and live music venues, take this Southern route that starts in the charming historic city of Charleston, with its cobblestone streets and distinctive Gullah cuisine. Head down the coast to Savannah and bask in the shade of picturesque oak tree tunnels at Wormsloe, then cruise to New Orleans for live jazz, street performers, and boiled crawfish. From there head up Route 61 — the Blues Highway — through Mississippi to Memphis and Nashville, stopping at the many blues museums and clubs along the way.

Alaska Highway
> Start: Dawson’s Creek, British Columbia
> End: Fairbanks, Alaska
> Total miles: 1,459

Winding through the northlands of British Columbia, the Alaska Highway traverses the Rocky Mountains, then continues into the rugged Yukon Territory, touching on countless lakes and pristine wilderness. Don’t miss the Liard River Hot Springs and Muncho Lake in B.C., and Miles Canyon and the historic capital city of Whitehorse in the Yukon. The highway ends in the Alaskan Tanana Valley, but for an epic finale, continue on from Fairbanks to Denali National Park.

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