Today’s Culture with Travel post is by Barbara Bowden
Are you considering taking a road trip across America? While there is something to be said for hopping into your vehicle with no plan in mind and hitting the open roads, you are likely to see more things you are interested in—and stay safe and out of trouble—if you do at least a bit of planning. While it is good to know where you will be sleeping each night, it can be much more fun to forego researching your stops—in other words, this is one time when being clueless has certain benefits, allowing you to make unusual discoveries along the way.
One thing you definitely should be aware of is that alcohol laws differ between states—and are probably very different from those of your home state. A sure way to put a halt to your road trip—and ensure your pleasure in the trip is spoiled—is to have an alcoholic beverage along the way then find yourself being arrested and charged with DUI. Take a few minutes before your road trip for a quick Internet search of alcohol laws in the states you will be passing through.
Other tips for your road trips include:
• Bring a real map and a big Sharpie to track your progress;
• Bring a CD of “road trip” music you will enjoy hearing more than once;
• Play road games from your childhood;
• Avoid all food chains on your road trip—better still, ask a local where to eat;
• Put your phone in your suitcase—the whole fun of a road trip is bonding with those taking the trip with you, and being free while on the open road;
• Make sure another person on the trip has a spare car key because, well, let’s face it, stuff happens, and
• Document your road trip with plenty of photographs—taken with a real camera, if possible!
So, where should you go on your road trips?
Consider the following five “classic” American road trips:
1. New York State to Niagara Falls. If you live on the east side of the U.S., you might consider a road trip that allows you to spend a few days exploring all New York City has to offer, zipping over to Montauk, on the east side of Long Island, checking out Woodstock and the Catskills, spending some time soaking in the beauty of the Adirondack mountains, then seeing the fabulous Niagara Falls and the vineyards and Amish farms near Ithaca.
2. New Mexico to Los Angeles. For a trip filled with contrasts, along with the weird and wonderful, consider a road trip from New Mexico to LA. Start in sunny Albuquerque, checking out the Native American folk art and blankets, then make your way to the artist’s haven, Santa Fe. Discover a natural hot spring in the Jemez mountains, then just over the border in Utah, don’t miss the Grand Staircase-Escalante national monument. If you are a bold adventurer, hike Zion’s national parks, then enjoy a refreshing margarita in the town of Springdale. Before you make it to the Grand Canyon, be sure to enjoy the ponderosa pines in Flagstaff. Twentynine Palms and Palm Springs are your last stops before you reach Los Angeles.
3. The Badlands of North and South Dakota. Because this area can be a little remote, you might want to consider renting an RV for this road trip. Start off with the Badlands National Park in South Dakota, making sure to stop at Wall Drug, a vintage 1930’s shop. Take the Native American Scenic Byway, through the Nakota, Dakota, and Lakota nations, then pass through Standing Rock to see the monuments and the burial grounds of Sitting Bull. Medora is well-known as North Dakota’s cowboy town, and you can stay at the 1844 Rough Riders Hotel. You can experience petrified woods, red rocks and hilly terrain on horseback in the North Dakota Badlands. A visit to Mount Rushmore will conclude your Badlands road trip.
4. A music tour of the deep South. If you are a music buff, start your road trip in iconic Nashville, Tennessee, where you can see the Ryman Auditorium, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and the Grand Ole Opry. Memphis is next, with Graceland and Sun Studios. The Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale comes next, followed by Dockery Farms where blues is said to have been invented by a cotton picker. If Cajun and Creole music is more to your taste, Lafayette, Louisiana is your next stop before you reach the city of New Orleans with its dozens of blues and jazz clubs.
2. The Hill Country of Texas. The center of the Lone Star State offers sagebrush plains beautiful rivers and deep canyons. Whatever you do, don’t miss Fredericksburg, Texas, a small German town in the Hill Country with amazing German fare and a street lined with amazing mom and pop shops. Utopia, Texas is a true paradise, with lakes, rivers and trees, and plenty of bed and breakfasts to stay in.
Wherever you decide to go on your road trip, have fun and stay safe! Where would you recommend going on road trips? Let us know in the comments!
Author bio: Barbara Bowden is attorney and owner of The Law Offices of Barbara A.Bowden. She is extremely passionate about making a positive impact on people’s lives through the work of her law office. When Barbara is not in the office (or in the courtroom), she is doing her other job–being a mom. She loves traveling with her two daughters!