The off-season is the perfect time to visit those destinations you didn't get to during the summer! Luno has mapped out our top five road trip recommendations for the fall. Between the coastal views and stunning foliage, your thirst for travel will certainly be quenched with these amazing road trip destinations.
California Coast — 650 miles
Most people think that the best time to visit the golden state’s coast is during the summer, but we’ll let you in on a little secret… the ocean is just as blue in the fall. The 650 mile stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway is the perfect path for your western adventure. This ribbon of highway will show you the highlights of California’s finest. We recommend that you start things off up north then take the party down south. From the breezy Golden Gate Bridge to the tasty fish tacos of San Diego (and every quaint coastal town in between), the California coast has got it all.
One of our favorite pit stops on this road trip is Santa Barbara in Central California. Nestled between the Santa Ynez Mountains, this Spanish-style town has something for everyone. The Santa Barbara Zoo is a prime attraction for children; the ever-trendy Funk Zone is a guaranteed good drink and even greater time. You can also stroll down State Street and enjoy the many mom and pop shops that make Santa Barbara so special. While this lovable beach town may not experience the seasons in weather, they are sure to get into the holiday spirit with their adorable white lights that illuminate downtown in the fall.
Olympic Peninsula Route — 350 miles
No fall and winter road trip list is complete without the Pacific Northwest. Luno's favorite road trip destination in the PNW has got to be the Olympic Peninsula, which hangs out right below Canada and just west of Seattle. The Olympics Mountains and the peninsula they rest upon are still surprisingly (and delightfully) wild. Even better, the 922,000-acre Olympic National Park that lies in the center of the peninsula boasts a combination of environments that is a roller coaster ride from start to finish. With snow-capped mountains, lush rainforests (you read that right—rainforests), and the unfailingly dramatic Pacific coastline, it’s clear that Mother Nature held no punches with this PNW gem.
Blue Ridge Parkway — 470 miles
John Denver knew what was up when he sang, “Almost Heaven, West Virginia,” about his country roads. The road trip opportunities in Virginia are truly heavenly. The Blue Ridge Parkway, lovingly dubbed “America’s Favorite Drive” by the National Park Service, runs between Shenandoah National Park in Virginia and the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. This road trip is a prime way to see the best fall colors that nature has to offer. The dark red Dogwood and Gum Trees and shining yellow of the Hickories make for a stunning contrast against the backdrop of Pines and Firs.
Perhaps the most exciting part of this road trip is the opportunity to drive upon the engineering feat of the Linn Cove Viaduct as it hugs the face of the Grandfather Mountain. The Viaduct has been carefully constructed to allow visitors to drive up close and personal with one of the highest peaks in the Blue Ridge Mountains, without disturbing the natural landscape. Visitors are encouraged to get a closer look at this man-made phenomenon by walking along the paved trail to check out the Viaduct from underneath to see the design in all its glory.
Michigan Gold Coast —100 miles
You didn’t hear it from us, but Michigan’s coast gives California a run for its money. With its 3,200 miles of shoreline for visitors to roam, the Great Lakes State is a real gem. Furthermore, Michigan boasts more lighthouses than any other state in the country! So if you’re into really massive, stationary, kind of old light fixtures this is the road trip for you!
But in all seriousness, Michigan is a truly underrated road trip destination. The state has the coastal vibes of California with the hometown feel of the Midwest. There are so many precious little beach towns to visit in the fall that it’s hard to pick just one to recommend. But if we had to, we would have to go with the town of Holland nestled on the shore of Lake Macatawa in Western Michigan. This precious town has a small-town charm and magically transports visitors across the Atlantic Ocean to the Netherlands. The windmills and beautiful Dutch architecture, canals, and gardens will have you feeling like you went abroad without having to go through TSA.
Route 1, Coast of Maine — 450 miles
Route 1 is to fall road trips as the Luno Seatback Organizer is to sleeping in a car. It’s a necessity. While the west coast will always be the best coast, Route 1 is seriously gunnin’ to win it all. Why is the Coast of Maine comin’ for Cali’s spot, you ask? Two words. Lobster. Rolls.
The options for this Maine delicacy along Route 1 are endless. Just to name a few...Tracey’s Lobsters and Clams offers fine shellfish cooked over a fire pit out back that will leave you asking for seconds. Union River Lobster Pot has a King Size Lobster Roll that we want to sleep on at night, and New Friendly Restaurant is the local fave for a lobster roll that’s more lobster than roll. If you get tired of lobster rolls (impossible), you can always break things up with a sweet treat from one of the more than 20 Dunkin Donuts locations along Route 1.
BRB. Going 2 Maine ASAP.
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Now that you’ve got the why, how, and where covered for your fall and winter road trip, all you’ve got left to figure out is when…Keep in mind that there’s no time like the present!