I love the road. I love the chance to rock out or relax with my favorite tunes and the opportunity to let life’s expectations melt away. I love stumbling across hidden gems like a small-town cider stand or a cool view that’s not in any guidebook. To me, life (and love) should be full of discoveries and adventures, and over the years, I’ve done a lot of research…road tripping research…so I wanted to share my favorite experiences with you, in case you’re dreaming of taking to the road this season.
- To me, a glimpse of fall’s turning leaves is a wonderful reason to hit the road and the Blue Ridge Parkway through Virginia into the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is inspirational. You’ll pass covered bridges, old farmsteads, and scenic overlooks as you drive. In Tennessee, crank up Dolly Parton’s Here You Come Again as you cruise into Pigeon Forge and end your day with a stop at the Tennessee Cider Company in Gatlinburg. We embraced summer with the kids along this road in August. A joy, even with teenagers.
- Looking to go further south? My husband and I left the kids behind and celebrated twenty years of marriage on the road from Hilton Head to Savannah. We listened to the Beach Boys’ Wouldn’t it Be Nice?, caught sunsets at the beach, chased ghosts in the city, and stopped at a colonial house in Williamsburg on the way home. Lunch at The Cheese Shop on Duke of Gloucester Street is a must. Grab a sandwich with house dressing, and then, go next door to Wythe Candies for dessert.
- For a trip that’s on the cultural side, consider looking at life through rose-colored glasses. Listen to La Vie en Rose, both the Edith Piaf and Lady Gaga versions, and drive along the road from the Falls to the quaint town of Niagara on the Lake. Don’t miss COWS ice cream or the top-notch theatre at the Shaw Festival. We enjoyed both before heading to Toronto, then Montreal and Quebec City. My younger son takes French, so we gave the language our best shot as we strolled the cobblestone streets and ended each day with café au lait, the best of which we found in the lobby of the lovely Hotel Sainte Anne.
- Canada is a wonderland but The Road to Hana on Maui is a paradise. For our tenth wedding anniversary, my husband and I drove a rented convertible around the island’s perimeter, which was beautiful and terrifying (as most one-lane, cliffside roads are). When we turned into the island interior toward Pua’a Ka’a Falls, we let go a sigh of relief and turned up Israel Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole’s version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Pa’iloa’s Black Sand Beach, Mama’s Fish House Restaurant, and Ho’okipa Park’s windsurfing scene are stops along the way that you will never forget.
- Most holidays have been spent with my extended family, but one Christmas, we took a seasonal detour, road-tripping from Los Angeles to Vancouver. We played Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s Christmastime in Tinseltown on my iPod and raced along the Pacific Coast Highway, stopping in Bodega Bay for Spud Point Crab Company’s signature sandwich before navigating the road to Eureka, an artisan town that’s one of California’s oldest. Driving the coastline was a bucket list item for me, making this long-ago, holiday road trip, a dream come true.