You will need to bring comfortable shoes and clothing, as well as a lot of patience for those who are traveling with friends and family this summer. Although there are many new destinations, you may still encounter some difficulties as hosts try to improve their customer service skills and staff up.
Although the most well-known venues are often crowded because of partial openings, summer offers an opportunity to explore some less-known and more interesting locations. The Bankrate insurance editorial team has reviewed many of these locations along with some of the most popular destinations.
In 2021, there are many creative ways to go on a road trip
We chose a range of destinations that reflect America’s diversity. They are varied, historic, fun, eclectic, and sometimes just plain weird. No matter how long you stay, each location has something to offer for everyone.
We have researched many road trip options to create unforgettable vacation memories, from the most famous places like Yellowstone, to the more local ones like the Kool-Aid display in Nebraska, the gigantic beagle “doghouse” in Cottonwood in Idaho, and the daily Duck March at the Memphis Peacock Hotel.
There are many attractions to choose. There are many museums that tell the story of our country, farms where you can experience life as a farmer or cowboy, and beautiful natural wonders and parks.
Enjoy America this summer with your family, as it opens its doors to you once again.
Plan before you go
This year, planning is especially important. Everyone is eager to get back to their lives but there will be “reentry growth pains” for hosts and travelers alike when we return to normalcy.
You should plan ahead for a road trip. Make sure you have extra water, sunblock, and clothes for unpredictable weather. Also, make sure to review your auto and home insurance policies to ensure they are covered in case of an emergency. You should expect provider shortages. Call ahead to verify that any items you have requested, such as a wheelchair, rental car or extra bed, are still available.
After a series of pandemic-related adjustments, the destinations we reviewed are now open. Some destinations are open fully, while others may only be partially operational. Some restrictions may still be in effect, and changes could be made as the year progresses. Please call ahead to find out any additional requirements that might apply during your visit.
60 Destinations for Distance-Friendly Road Trips
Destinations for Pacific Regional Road Trips
The beautiful, 300-room chateau-style hotel is located only 40 miles from Anchorage. It is an ideal base to explore Alaska. The resort is located at the base the stunning Chugach Mountain range and offers an easy way to enjoy Alaska’s natural beauty.
This museum is housed in a stunning modern building and contains an incredible collection of artifacts from Alaska’s past and present. The site offers a fun and informative way to share Alaska with your family.
Peace and Plenty Farm
This beautiful location with stunning views is the only North American organic saffron farm. It’s an Airbnb spot that has been around for four years. This is a great way to live a unique farming lifestyle.
San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers
San Francisco, CA
This conservatory is home to a greenhouse and a botanical garden that are well-known for their rare plants. This landmark is a local, state, and national landmark and is located in the beautiful and historic Golden Gate Park.
The museum was established in 1889 to display and collect the royal Kamehameha family’s heirlooms. It also contains a fascinating collection photographs and artifacts relating to Hawaiian and other Pacific Island cultures.
Gingerhill Farm Retreat
This eco-farm resort was created for people who wish to relax and enjoy the wonderful food and daily cycles of sustainable and regenerative farming. Stay in one of the gorgeous accommodations, or just enjoy a day in Hawaii’s natural beauty.
Dee Wright Observatory
Lane County, OR
This observatory is located at the top of Oregon’s Cascade Range and offers stunning views of 65 miles of blacklava rock. NASA trained astronauts there in 1964 due to similarity with the moon’s surface.
Wilson Ranches Retreat
This bed-and breakfast in eastern Oregon provides a great experience on a ranch and wonderful accommodations. The retreat is located in the beautiful Butte Creek Valley and offers a stunning view of a working 9,000-acre cattle and hay ranch.
Museum of Pop Culture
The Frank Gehry-designed museum captures rock ‘n roll’s energy. Interactive exhibits offer fascinating examples of pop culture, including a unique collection musical artifacts and an indoor LED screen.
Rocky Mountain Regional Road Trip Destinations
The Stanley Hotel
Estes Park, CO
This iconic hotel, which was opened on July 4, 1909 to treat tuberculosis patients, is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Overlook Hotel was inspired by the hotel in Stephen King’s bestseller “The Shining”.
Old Idaho State Penitentiary
This penitentiary, another landmark on the National Register of Historic Places was also opened in 1872. It held some of the most dangerous criminals in the West until its closing in 1979. The original cells can be toured and you will find many exhibits including a collection historical weapons.
Willy, The World’s Largest Beagle
Attractions on the Road
This 30-foot-long oddity was built to draw people to a studio and gallery featuring chainsaw carvings. It is now a bed and breakfast. It’s worth visiting Willy just to see him, even if it is only to “been in his dog house.”
Make Art Bar
The Art Bar, located in Missoula’s Mercantile Hotel is a DIY workshop with Montana flair. With the tools and designs supplied, you can create western-inspired art or crafts. If all else fails there’s a full bar.
Montana Bunkhouses Working Ranch
You can have a Montana experience like no other at a ranch that raises cattle. Participation in cattle drives, rodeos, and four-wheeling trips are all possible. Bird watching, fishing and just enjoying the beauty of the area are less strenuous options.
Seven Magic Mountains
Attractions on the Road
The work of art is thirty feet high and comprises seven towers made up of three hundred-three limestone boulders that are fluorescently painted and stacked. They each weigh 10 to 25 tonnes. Ugo Rondinone, a Swiss artist completed the work.
National Monument Grand Staircase-Escalante
This monument is unique because of its remote location. The area borders Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon. It is filled with beautiful waterfalls, canyons and red rock formations. There are also lush meadows and thick evergreen forests.
This is the Place
Salt Lake City (UT)
This site covers 450 acres and offers a close-up view of 19th century life, from Utah’s 1847 arrival to its statehood in 1896 to the 1847 arrival of Mormans. Heritage Village is a place where you can experience pioneer life and the Native American Village tells about Utah’s first citizens.
The Crow’s Nest at Old Faithful Inn
Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming
The Crow’s Nest climbs 76 feet up the stairs to reach the treehouse on the third floor. From there, it leads to a roof deck with spectacular views of Yellowstone. You must make reservations before you can visit.
Midwest Regional Road Trip Destinations
Bridge over the High Trestle Trail
This 13-story, half-mile-long bridge spans the Des Moines River and was named by BBC as one of the best footbridges in the country. This unique design is a tribute to immigrant families, allowing them to see the mine shafts from which they worked.
International Museum of Surgical Science
The museum is located in a replica of Versailles from 1917 and features exhibits that examine both Eastern and Western medicine. Over 5,000 rare medical texts are housed in the library.
The 120-acre farm is active and offers a chance for everyone to learn about farm life. Learn about alpacas by spending time with them, including collecting eggs and feeding them.
Levi Coffin House
Fountain City, IN
This National Historic Landmark is known as the “Grand Central Station” of the Underground Railroad. It was at the intersection of several escape routes that helped more than 1,000 slaves escape. This restored home is rich in history and contains secret rooms that were used to hide escapees.
Mackinac Island (MI)
Modern progress has not reached this isolated island on Lake Huron, between the lower and upper Michigan peninsulas. The only means of transportation on the island is by buggies, bikes and foot. Relive the past and enjoy the island’s natural beauty.
Kansas City. Missouri
This market has been thriving since 1857 with local produce, fruits and baked goods from all over the world. You can visit the Arabia Steamboat Museum with its antique artifacts and browse the numerous shops. Or, you can dine at one of the many restaurants.
St. Louis, MO
Artists have restored a 100-year-old warehouse using materials and relics from other cities. Explore galleries and hidden passageways of mystery and fun through miles of tunnels, bridges, and slides.
The Hastings Museum Kool-Aid Exhibit
The official Nebraska soft drink, Kool-Aid was invented in Nebraska in 1927. It deserves its own exhibit. Watch the amazing story of how the drink was created by Edwin Perkins, who searched for a new powdered dessert called Jell-O.
The retreat is located in Rockbridge State Nature Preserve, a white pine forest, and is home of abundant wildlife. You can stay in a log cabin, teepee or tent and follow the trail to the third-largest natural rock bridge in the country and the waterfall.
Dr. Dr. Evermor’s Forevertron
Attractions on the Roadside
North Freedom, WI
Guinness calls The Forevertron the “World’s Largest Sculpture”. It weighs 320 tons, is 160 feet long, and stands 50 feet tall. This impressive mass of historical industrial components includes Edison’s electrical dynamos, pieces of train engines, and cargo ships, and is 320 tonnes.
Olde Main Street
Green Bay, WI
The Olde Main Street Arts District brings art to the streets of Green Bay. The Olde Main Street is an exciting place where you can enjoy art, exhibitions, studios, and new businesses, restaurants, and other worldly shops.
Destinations for Southwest Regional Road Trips
Her secret is patience
The steel sculpture, measuring 145 feet, is suspended 100 feet high and lit at night. It creates amazing shadows and light effects when it swings. Ralph W. Emerson said that the name derives its origin from Ralph W. Emerson’s quote: “Adopt nature’s pace; her secret is patience.”
Rainbow Ryders Hot Air Balloon Co.
Rainbow Riders is the most trusted company in Southwest hot air balloon flight since 1983. Rainbow is the official operator of notable events such as the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
Los Poblanos Organic Farms and Historic Inn
Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, NM
This farm offers a unique agritourism experience. It is situated in 25 acres of cottonwood trees, lavender fields, and gardens. You can take classes in cooking and raising farm animals or feed alpacas before cooling off in the saltwater pool.
Truth or Consequence, NM
It is also the first commercially-built spaceport on the planet. The visitor center has many interactive exhibits that provide information about space exploration. In the G-Shock Simulator, you can experience the G-forces associated with a launch.
Attractions on the Roadside
Sandia Park in NM
The unique structure was built with concrete and 55,000 embedded bottle. The structure is home to more than 20,000 miniature wood-carved characters, including an 1880s Western town and three-ring circus created by Ross Ward, a folk artist.
Factory Obscura Mix Tape
Oklahoma City, OK
Mix-Tape, a collection interactive art, is something you have to see. The artwork covers approximately 6,000 square feet. Enjoy the art, watch it grow, and take photos. You’ll have memories to last a lifetime.
Orr Family Farm & RR, LLC
Oklahoma City, OK
Farm offers many rides and activities, as well as learning opportunities about farm life, and delicious homegrown foods and treats. You can choose from a Conestoga wagon or a teepee for unique camping accommodations.
Blisswood Bed and Breakfast Ranch
Fort Worth, Texas
As you choose from various lodging options, you will be surrounded by open ranges, live oaks, and American bison. You can participate as you wish or just relax on this 350-acre ranch.
Fort Worth Water Gardens
Fort Worth, Texas
The urban park is located in downtown Fort Worth and has been described as a “cooling oasis within the concrete jungle”. It features three modern pools that can create waterfalls, cascades and fountains. This landscape is stunning and sprays thousands of gallons.
Destinations for Northeast Regional Road Trips
The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Libraries
New Haven, CT
Yale University Library houses a large collection of rare books, manuscripts, and other materials. You can experience centuries of written history, from ancient papyrus fragments through the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection African American Arts and Letters.
The Maritime Aquarium
The unique aquarium, 4-D theatre and maritime museum offers an aquatic adventure from freshwater tributaries to salt marsh shallows up to the deeps of Long Island Sound. These exhibits feature over 7,000 marine animals, and more than 300 species that live in these environments.
Henry Francis du Pont converted his 175-room, palatial childhood home to a showcase that displays over 90,000. These artifacts show American art and life over the centuries. The meticulously designed rooms and manicured gardens convey the beauty of America’s history and are beautifully arranged.
The Freedom Trail
This 2.5-mile hike will take you through 250 years of America’s history. You can visit the historic homes and churches where the American Revolution was born, as well as the USS Constitution which is the oldest commissioned warship. It was launched in 1797.
Ellicott City, MD
This once-thriving mill town proved that ghost towns can form anywhere. The ghosts of the past are still here in an eerie, abandoned mill, church ruins, and other buildings.
The Tusculum Farm
The farm, which is located on 500 acres of land, is listed on Maryland’s Inventory of Historic Properties. The main house was built in 1747 and several other historic buildings are available for guests. Horseback riding, as well as walks through the art garden are just a few of the many activities available.
The Keeper’s House
Isle Au Haut, ME
The Keeper’s House was built in 1907 on an isolated island. It offers accommodations and unique opportunities to enjoy Maine’s beauty. At night, the landscape and house are stunning, with the only sounds being the wind and waves. The tower’s blinking light adds to the beauty.
Ellis Island Immigrants Hospital
Jersey City, NJ
From 1902 to 1951, the hospital at Ellis Island in New York Harbor was open. More than 275,000 people were treated, and 350 babies were born. As part of a fundraising campaign to save the hospital, hard hat tours are offered.
Mountain Horse Farm
This farm is located in the Finger Lakes region on 33 acres. It offers privacy and easy access to restaurants and wineries. You can stay in the Carriage House Lodge, or in a luxurious tent (“glamping”) The farm is quiet and surrounded by the tranquil Bristol Hills.
Eastern State Penitentiary
This penitentiary was opened in 1829. Its striking design and radical reform philosophy quickly attracted wide attention. This National Historic Landmark was closed in 1971. Visitors now flock to the site to see Al Capone’s death row cell and other prison-history exhibits.
The museum is located on 45 acres near Lake Champlain and features a wide range of Americana exhibits. Highlights include Ticonderoga’s 220-foot steamboat, historic homes, a schoolhouse, jail, lighthouse, and general store.
Destinations for Southeast Regional Road Trips
Magnolia Springs Bed and Breakfast
Magnolia Springs, AL
The Alabama landmark was built in 1897. It has been beautifully restored over the years to make it a peaceful and relaxing retreat. You will be greeted by the large number of live oaks.
Fayetteville is a must-see
Fayetteville, a hidden gem that is surrounded by the Ozarks & Boston Mountains, is well-known for its many outdoor activities. The city is a welcoming mix of art, food and craft breweries, making it a top-notch destination.
NASA Vehicle Assembly Building
The building is eight acres in size and was built at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in 1966. It is also the fourth largest building in volume. This building is a landmark in history, with the construction of the spacecraft that took men to the Moon.
Lookout Mountain, GA
Rock City, six miles from downtown Chattanooga is located atop Lookout Mountain. The spectacular views of seven states are framed by enormous rock formations that anchor the gardens, trails and caverns.
Attractions on the Roadside
The reconstruction of Noah’s Ark is four stories high and measures over 150 yards in length. You will find exhibits that tell the story of Noah throughout the tour, as well as family activities like a camel ride.
Secret Passages at Biltmore Estate
The Biltmore Estate, which covers 180,000 square feet, has 35 bedrooms. There are also some great hiding spots. This tour takes you through these secret passages and rooms, which are often hidden in the design making them difficult to spot.
Trinity Vacations at Buffalo Creek
The 72-acre Smoky Mountain vacation property offers accommodations in log cabins or real cabooses. Enjoy watching buffalo come in to eat their breakfast oats, and family activities such as horse riding, canoeing or kayaking.
Walking tours in the Lowcountry
Native Charlestonians lead four unique daily tours: Charleston’s Hidden Alleys & Passages, Downtown Charleston and Charleston’s Most Beautiful Walk. They also share their Southern knowledge and stories with you.
Peabody Hotel Duck March
In the 1930s, the Duck March was a joke to confuse guests by placing ducks into the hotel fountain. Ninety-years later, the ducks still march towards the lobby fountain. They arrive at 11 a.m. and leave at 5 p.m.
NEON (New Energy Of Norfolk), is an interactive platform that allows you to explore the Norfolk arts world. The Harrison Opera House and the Chrysler Museum of Art are both established institutions that provide historical counterbalances to the modern glass sculptors and muralists.
This historic state park is accessible via a riverboat sternwheeler. The grounds are open to visitors who wish to tour them, see a Palladian home, visit a history museum, and ride in a horse-drawn carriage.
Although the pandemic kept us in isolation for over a year now, things are starting to improve. You may still face challenges but you might be able go on a well-deserved holiday. No matter where you end up, enjoy your trip and travel safely.
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