5 Amazing Summer Road Trips to Take This August
Get your motor running: America has over 4 million miles of roadway just waiting to be explored. Thankfully, Turo is like the Airbnb of driving, letting you get behind the wheel in style thanks to crowd-sourced vehicles that take you across the country without the red tape of traditional rental cars. First time users of Turo will receive $25 off this first booking, when promo code "JETSETTER" is entered at checkout. Here are five summer road trip itineraries to help you see The States—plus the cars you need to get you from sea to shining sea.
Jen has been a staff editor at Architectural Digest, Travel + Leisure, and Martha Stewart Weddings, and her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Afar, and Elle Decor. When she's not snowmobiling in the French Alps or tasting scotch straight from the barrel in Scotland, she's at home in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.
The Road: Pacific Coast Highway
When it comes to hitting the pavement, no trip is more iconic than a bluff-top cruise down State Route 1. The most scenic stretch of the 656-mile roadway runs between San Francisco and Big Sur. Begin your journey on the urban side of the Golden Gate Bridge, where you can dip into the local food scene (the Ferry Building is an eclectic one-stop shop for those short on time) or detour to sample the oenophilic delights in neighboring Napa Valley. From there, head south past endless ocean vistas on your way through the picture-perfect seaside towns of Mendocino and Carmel, and drop your bags at Big Sur’s Ventana Inn to hike the pristine forest trails of Point Lobos and Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. (Be sure to snap a shot of McWay Falls tumbling into the Pacific before embarking on the three-hour trip back to San Francisco.)
The Wheels: A sleek BMW 3-series convertible looks just as stylish hugging PCH curves as it does pulling up to the valet at San Francisco’s best restaurants.
The Road: Blue Ridge Parkway
In-the-know leaf-peepers skip New England and head south for the Blue Ridge Parkway, a 469-mile stretch that connects Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park with North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains—and a rainbow of foliage along the way. Set out from Asheville, North Carolina, where you can taste your way through the French Renaissance vineyards at the Biltmore Estate or survey Appalachia’s craft beer scene at a host of local breweries (we like Burial). Swing by Linville Falls for a picture-perfect view before calling it a night at the Mast Farm Inn, in Valle Crucis, North Carolina, which began as a two-room cabin in 1810 and has become one of the country’s most celebrated historic hotels. Fill up on the restaurant’s buttermilk waffles and apple and fruit dumplings, then make your way to an outdoor bluegrass concert at Blue Ridge Music Center, in Galax, Virginia. Roanoke, with its quirky Taubman art museum and meandering hiking tails, is your next destination. Check in at the 1882 Tudor-style Hotel Roanoke; in the morning, fuel up 60 miles south at Mabry Mill, a working gristmill, restaurant, and gift shop circa 1905, then continue down the Parkway some three hours back to Asheville.
The Wheels: A luxury SUV navigates the parkway’s ascending turns—with room to spare for Appalachian-area souvenirs.
The Road: Hana Highway
With its scenic overlooks, hidden waterfalls, and tropical roadside fringe, you won’t find a more picturesque byway than Maui’s Highway 36, better known to honeymooners and adventure seekers alike as the Road to Hana. The hippie surf town of Paia is the 56-mile roadway’s official starting point—and an ideal fill station before windsurfing or body boarding at Hookipa Beach (don’t miss the crepes at Café des Amis). You’ll pass too many cataracts (Upper Waikani Falls is a must) to count on your way to Kaumahina State Wayside Park, where sun-kissed views of Maui’s coast are rivaled only by eight miles of primordial forested trails. The Kalo (taro) farms, banana bread stands, and lava fields of the verdant Keanae Peninsula are worth the short detour; so are the sea caves and black-sand beaches at Waianapanapa State Wayside Park. Just 10 minutes away, Hana itself isn’t much to look at, but 10 miles farther, Haleakala National Park doesn’t disappoint with subtropical mountain biking trails and populations of endangered seabirds. But be sure to head back to Paia before sundown: Hana’s hairpin turns become treacherous at night.
The Wheels: A Jeep Wrangler with a pop-out roof is the best ride for capturing Maui’s endless sun and ocean breezes.
The Road: Route 66
Ready to get your kicks? Though the original road trip destination has been decommissioned as a federal highway, you can still experience all of the nostalgic Americana Route 66 has to offer. Start at the Art Institute of Chicago and wind your way down Jackson Boulevard to Lou Mitchell’s, a no-frills restaurant where you can still get a free box of milk duds while you wait for your table. Be sure to pull over for Instagram-worthy landmarks like the Gemini Giant, in Wilmington, Illinois, and Ambler’s Texaco Gas Station in Dwight before making a pit stop at the Route 66 Association Hall of Fame & Museum in Pontiac. From there you’ll pass full-on kitsch like a towering Bunyon with a Hotdog and the Railsplitter Covered Wagon before pulling in to St. Louis, 300 miles away. With its whitewashed interiors and Deco-inspired lobby, the Magnolia Hotel is a welcome resting place before returning back to Chicago on I-55.
The Wheels: An American muscle car like the Ford Mustang has the right amount of nostalgia for the ultimate Midwest road trip.
The Road: I-95 North Through New England
Quaint coastal towns, lobster shacks, historic lessons at every turn—summer in New England is as American as it gets. Set off from Newport, Rhode Island, a Gilded Age retreat for wealthy families like the Vanderbilts and the Astors, and take in the coast from Cliff Walk, a three-mile waterfront walkway that spans some of the country’s most opulent mansion museums. From there, take 95 North to Boston and pick up the Freedom Trail to walk in the footsteps of the American Revolution. The Envoy Hotel makes an ideal home base thanks to its rooftop deck and light-filled modern rooms. After breakfast, head to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, a worthy stop marked by colorful clapboard houses, quirky microbreweries (Great Rhythm is a local favorite), and boho boutiques, before passing through the presidential getaway of Kennebunkport, Maine (The Clam Shack’s lobster roll stands up to the hype). Portland, Maine, looks like a town straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting, but the food scene is entirely of-the-moment. Ramble around the shops of the Old Port district or hop a ferry to hike and swim the neighboring islands, working up your appetite before a dinner of farm-sourced small plates at Central Provisions. Get a good night’s sleep at The Press Hotel ahead of your three-hour ride back to Newport.
The Wheels: A Subaru Outback lets you blend in with the tree-hugging locals while getting a leg up on those steep mountain passes.
Floral Dress with Jean Jacket
- Your Ultimate Road Trip Packing List
- 25 Best Stops on an Epic Cross-Country America Road Trip
- 9 Amazing Road Trips in Europe
All products are independently selected by our writers and editors. If you buy something through our links, Jetsetter may earn an affiliate commission.