Flying to your vacation spot may be convenient, but a trip where the journey is the destination can be even better. If you’ve got a good ride, some companions, and patience, then try heading out on any of these routes. You’ll see small towns, big cities, awe-inspiring landscapes, and lots of history.
Barbecue and Blues
U.S. Route 61 is its official designation, but this route is road trip-worthy because of its nickname: The Blues Highway.
It’s easy to see why. Legend holds that Robert Johnson sold his soul at the junction of Routes 61 and 49 in Mississippi. Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Elvis, and plenty other blues musicians rode the highway while touring the stretch of cities along the way. And of course, it’s the basis of one of the greatest albums of all time — Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited.
The road stretches 1,400 miles from southern Minnesota to New Orleans, hugging the Mississippi River for most of the way. Follow it to St. Louis, Memphis, the Mississippi Delta, and New Orleans for a down south trip full of barbecue and blues.
Bluegrass and Booze
The Kentucky Bourbon Trail
Scattered among Kentucky’s bluegrass and rural beauty, there’s a lineup of incredible bourbon distilleries. Kentucky is known for the stuff, and for good reason: the big names like Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark distill there alongside a growing lineup of craft distillers making smaller batches with an even finer eye on quality.
The official Bourbon Trail is made up of seven acclaimed distilleries, plus eight smaller (but just as good) ones. There are turn-by-turn directions here, but you can also take a more winding route and explore some of the towns in between. Just make sure to bring a designated driver.
From Coast to Coast
If you’re up for a cross-country marathon, start on either end of I-90. It crosses the entire country from Seattle to Boston over 3,000 miles, with lots to see in between.
Along the way you can detour to Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, Devil’s Tower, and a ton of smaller historic sites while crossing over a dozen states. You can even swing onto to I-94 once you hit the Great Lakes to get a good view of the water and make a stop in Chicago ( here’s what to do while you’re there).