Happiness Is an Open Road...
Taking road trips across the United States is a great way to learn history, enrich your appreciation of nature, and have fun.
Besides a car with a fresh tank of gas and a camera, you will not need to pack much else for these breathtaking adventures across some of the country’s most fascinating roads.
Overseas Highway – Cross the seas to reach the Keys
113 miles of gorgeous ocean views
The Florida Keys are a beautiful destination in and of themselves, but the highway to get there is an adventure of its own. 113 miles – most of which take you over bridges crossing the Florida Keys – provide ample photograph opportunities. Just be patient with fellow travelers, because traffic along this route can get congested.
While you take your time on the Highway, make sure to stop at some of the islands along the way. You can see turtles, dolphins, shipwrecks, barracuda, an underwater hotel, and even Key deer – North America’s smallest species of deer!
The Tail of the Dragon - Not for the Faint of Heart
An 11-mile road with over 300 turns
If you are looking to have a gentle day of sightseeing, this road may not be up your alley... but if you own a sports car or a motorcycle and want a thrilling adventure that rivals a theme park ride, then buckle up, strap on your helmet, and make your way to the Tail of the Dragon – a winding and treacherous stretch of road that meanders through US129 near the North Carolina and Tennessee border.
The relatively isolated road is surrounded by national parks and forests such as Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Nantahala National Forest. It has been featured in famous movies such as The Fugitive with Harrison Ford.
Due to its treacherous curves, tragically at least one person dies on the road every year. Needless to say, it is not a good idea to drive on this road if you are not a seasoned biker or driver. The Travel Channel has a short introductory video showing the thrilling terrors of the Tail of the Dragon: http://www.travelchannel.com/videos/braving-the-tail-of-the-dragon-0175537
Edisto Scenic Byway - An undisturbed piece of the past
Left alone by man… but not nature
Located off the coast of South Carolina, Edisto Island dates back to 2000 B.C. when ancient peoples ate shellfish caught off of the island. The island became a hub for sea island cotton around the time of the Civil War until the cotton was eventually destroyed due to boll weevils. The fishing and truck farming industries took over as the main source of income for the people.
The beauty of the island has been largely undisturbed, and makes for a great driving tour. The 17-mile byway is a scenic route that goes through historic plantations and winds past churches, wildlife refuges full of birds, and idyllic beaches and farmers markets.
While you traverse the byway, stop at the Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve where you can explore untouched coastlines with shells that tourists are not allowed to collect. Remnants of old trees washed ashore make for a haunting “graveyard” that visitors love to photograph.
Because this preserve is renowned for being untouched, the recent Hurricane Matthew destroyed much of the coast – although visitors have come back this summer. The preserve is also closed when tides are not cooperating, but that makes for an all-the-more authentic experience.
Ocean Drive – 10 Miles of Unmitigated Luxury in Rhode Island
Mansions, crisp sea breezes, and breathtaking views in Newport
Newport – the renowned summer vacation spot of many wealthy Americans – is located on Aquidneck Island of Rhode Island. It was originally a destination for settlers seeking freedom of religion, and eventually became a hub for wealthy vacationers. The beautiful spot has many historic mansions as well as gorgeous views of the Atlantic Ocean.
Those interested in seeing this scenic vacation destination can go on a trip down 10 Mile Drive – also known as Ocean Drive. Along the way, tourists can see Hammersmith Farm, the childhood residence of Jackie Kennedy where her wedding reception to President John F. Kennedy was held, the 34-foot tall historic Castle Hill Lighthouse, the New York Yacht Club, Fort Adams (the second largest bastioned fort in the United States), and Brenton State Park, as well as many other sights.
Do not forget to go down Bellevue Avenue where the famous Breakers mansion is located!
Skyline Drive – Close Enough to Touch the Sky
The only public road in Shenandoah National Park, and well worth driving
If a gorgeous 105-mile drive along the Blue Ridge Mountains sounds right up your alley, then Skyline Drive is a must-visit. The drive takes about 3 hours total and winds through stunning mountain scenery with breathtaking views.
Along the way, stop at one of the various overlooks to take photographs of the dizzying views above Virginia or pull over to hike – just watch out for bears! Skyline Drive is gorgeous at any time of year, but it is most noticeably appreciated during the fall when nature’s foliage is on full display.
Whether it is history, the ocean, or mountains that gets your heart pumping, there is a road for you. Why take a plane trip to a faraway destination when all of this is right in your own country, just a highway mile marker away?