School is just starting to let out, which makes now the perfect time to start thinking about road trip destinations. If you are looking for a road trip packing list or how to get your Kia vehicle ready for the long-term adventure that is a road trip, check out our other blog posts. If your Kia is clean, outfitted, and had its spring checkup, you are ready to choose your route and hit the open road. Here are just eight of the best all-American road trips—some that start in New Jersey and some that might need a pre-road trip adventure before the trip itself can actually begin:
1. See the East Coast.
Start out in Ashbury Park and head south on the Garden State Parkway. Weave your way down the coast towards Outer Banks in North Carolina and don’t forget to stop and see Cape May, and The Claridge Hotel. Before you leave New England, make sure to stop at the Shipwreck Museum in Delaware, and then take the US 13 into Virginia. If you’ve got kids along or just love marine life, there’s the Aquarium and Marine Science Center in Virginia, which is always great fun. Once you get to North Carolina, check out the barrier islands and the location of Wright Brothers’ first flight in Kitty Hawk.
2. Cross the country.
If you’ve never driven across the entire United States, this summer might just be the perfect time. New Jersey is a great starting point, and how long the entire trip takes you really depends on how many things you want to stop and see. The best road trips are flexible—you can stop and get out and visit that weird little museum you just saw a sign for or stop and eat at a dodgy, but busy, diner on the side of the highway. If you do decide to drive across the entire country, consider heading southwest, instead of making the shortest trip across the northern states. Once you leave Ohio, cities will be few and far between, but if you head south, truck stops and highway pullouts are better equipped for long-term travelers.
3. New Jersey to New Orleans.
While you can get to New Orleans after you’ve finished seeing the East Coast, you can also make a more direct line for this party city, making stops in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Mississippi before hitting Louisiana. There are few things as American as the bourbon you can find in Kentucky or the Mississippi River. You’ll see the some of the country’s greatest rural areas, as well as some of the most up and coming cities in the South. Stop by Nashville or Memphis for some music history before continuing on for some Cajun cuisine.
4. Experience the best of the American west.
If you’ve only ever visited California, you’re missing out. After the hustle and bustle of the East Coast, there’s nothing more amazing than the wide open spaces you can find in any state along the Rocky Mountains. Once you’ve made it to Texas, start winding your way through New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. Most of your roadside attractions will be geological attractions or remains of ancient civilizations. There’s nothing better than western sun during the summer!
5. Tour the state parks of the east.
If you are looking for a great family road trip, this is definitely the one. The kids will love exploring the outdoors and the promise of being able to get up and walk around in the fresh air after driving for hours can make even the longest drives of your trip bearable. Start with Arcadia in Maine, and then weave your way through the east, stopping at Biscayne, Congaree Swamp, Cuyahoga Valley, Dry Tortuga, the Great Smoky Mountains, and ending up at the Everglades. There will plenty of nature and wildlife to admire and after purchasing an unlimited yearly or lifetime pass, entrance to all of these parks will be free!
6. Tour the lighthouses.
If you go north, instead of south, from New Jersey, you’ll find yourself in lobster and lighthouse country. If you take whichever highways and side roads keep you close to the coast, you’ll be able to see the lighthouses from the street, so you’ll know where to pull off and explore. Try to hit some in the early morning while the fog is rolling in and others in the afternoon to experience the restaurants and fishing villages that usually accompany these lighthouses. Some will be open for visits, others won’t, but they’ll all be fun! Mystic, Connecticut is a good place to “start,” ending up in Bar Harbor, in Maine.
7. Experience true southern barbecue.
If you’d like to have a real impetus to keep moving, why not make food your goal? The south is full of delicious barbecue, and if you start in South Carolina and take the “trail” west towards Texas, you’ll be able to experience every variety that the country has to offer. You might want to keep your favorite breed of barbecue to yourself, however, because South Carolinians and Texans alike are fiercely defensive of their flavor, cooking method, and presentation.
8. Go where the wind takes you.
This road trip is only for the truly adventurous at heart, who don’t mind getting a little lost and flying by the seat of their pants. Instead of planning a specific route, why not just get in your Kia and drive? If you’ve made the proper preparations, you don’t have to worry about the destination. Flip a coin when it comes time to decide which way to turn. Let each person in the car have a turn to decide which way to go or where to stop. Just make sure that you aren’t so lost that you can’t get back home when the trip is over.