There are plenty of places around the world where you can enjoy a roadtrip, but there’s something uniquely exhilarating about hitting the road in the United States. Indeed, several of history’s most esteemed cultural commentators have caught on, with the Bob Dylan song “Highway 61 Revisited” and Dennis Hopper film Easy Rider depicting the liberating feeling of the American open road.
Nonetheless, today, the US has such a labyrinthine network of public roads that you could easily be excused for wondering where you are supposed to start. In 1990, the American journalist Charles Kuralt admitted that the far-reaching Interstate highway network “makes it possible to go from coast to coast without seeing anything or meeting anybody.”
However, provided that you plan your itinerary carefully, your own roadtrip certainly doesn’t have to dull the mind as much as the above quotation from Kuralt’s book A Life on the Road portrays as well within the realms of possibility. Here is a guide to potentially the ultimate US roadtrip…
You have many tantalising routes from which to choose
Chances are that, for you, some of America’s many numbered highways need little introduction. This is especially true in the case of Route 66, which was originally made in 1926 and spanned 2,451 miles from Chicago to Santa Monica. However, driving down it isn’t quite the same experience today.
That’s because, over time, Route 66 has been chopped up by the likes of local roads, state roads and private drives, leaving it now a frequently interrupted run of “historic” byways. Still, by heading down those stretches that do remain available, you can get a sense of what must have been.
Your road travels could, for example, take you along the 320-mile route that snakes through south-western Arizona, starting at the Petrified Forest and going via Winslow and Flagstaff on the way to Kingman. However, if you are a novice to American road culture, you could better ease yourself into it by starting with California State Route 1, which navigates the redwood country in the state’s north.
Once you have become comfortable with that 745-mile coastal journey, you could take on the challenge of a trip almost twice as long – in the form of Highway 61! That’s the colloquial moniker for US Route 61, which cuts cleanly through the landscape between New Orleans and the Minnesota city of Wyoming. This 1,400-mile “Blues Highway” is noted for its associations with musical culture.
Bring a little sunshine – or Sunshine State – into your life
If you still feel somewhat daunted about embarking on a roadtrip on US shores, you might want to break up an otherwise super-ambitious venture into more manageable chunks. To that end, you could go about things in numeric fashion by first starting with US Route 1.
You could get started on this after landing in Miami, the Florida city to which Miami International Airport is a portal for travellers from around the world.However, before you leave Miami, keep in mind that it’s well worth exploring in its own right. This can be attributed to the city’s highly cosmopolitan makeup, with Spanish and Cuban influences in particular abundance.
As you walk around the city, you will probably come across as many Spanish-language speakers as you do English-language ones. Of course, only sea divides Florida from Cuba, so you might not be surprised to notice, as VisitTheUSA.co.uk highlights, Cuban food served in Versailles Restaurant.
Once you are finally driving along Route 1, don’t pass up the amazing opportunity to take in many sights of the Florida Keys. As well as skirting the Everglades, this 150-mile road comprises the “Ocean Highway” across successive keys – or “islets”, as you could otherwise call them. The Telegraph enthuses that “the most spectacular section is the Seven Mile Bridge.”
Florida roadtrips: the best roadtrips in the United States?
In entirely following through with Route 1, you could reach as far as Key West. However, theVISIT FLORIDA website recommends that, once you have satiated your curiosity in this end-of-the-line area, you “make a U-turn and discover Florida’s interior via highways bypassed by interstates in the 1960s”. This particular region is “nearly frozen in time”, the site adds.
However, you could be particularly intrigued by the site’s claim, citing the state’s range of high-test two-lane drives in partial justification, that “Florida roadtrips might just be the best roadtrips of them all.” It’s a bold statement, but you could convincingly argue that it stands up to scrutiny.
After all, from Key West, people who journey as far north as Highway 27 can enjoy a cornucopia of attractions that include museums, art galleries, theatres, state parksand lakes. However, on your way to checking out the rural scenery that surrounds Highway 19, don’t forget to drop by Orlando, a city reputed as effectively the world’s theme park capital.
The appeal of squeezing in a visit to Orlando
So, what theme parks can you enjoy visiting there? Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld are all there – and you can easily switch between them as your fancy takes you. They are all world-famous parks, but don’t overlook the yet broader variety of this part of Florida.
Places that could easily warrant visits of your own in Orlando include the Orlando Science Center, where education comes in an especially fun form at Dr. Dare’s Lab. You could even enjoy watchinglocal NBA team the Orlando Magic show their… well, magic.
In fact, so enjoyable is spending time in Orlando that you could easily long to live in the city. The good news is that you actually can – for a little while, at least. If you are UK-based, you could use the online travel agency Ocean Florida to book a holiday package to the Sunshine State.
In this way, you could book a stay in a comforting villa for a “home from home” feel. The villas available include some within 25 minutes of Walt Disney World if you like the idea of incorporating Florida villa holidays into your US roadtrips.