Celebrate Read a Road Map Day With 6 Great American Road Trip Ideas

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April 5th is Read a Road Map Day! While this may not be the most widely known holiday, it is a great way to start thinking about travel plans and more.

A couple of the best parts of reading a map are that you can find destinations you have never been to as well as recall some of your favorite adventures. Road trips are practically a right of passage—You get to travel the country, see new people and places, get lost, and stumble across places you never knew existed.

Make a point to grab a map this April and celebrate past trips or plan a new one. In fact, you can try any of these top-rated road trips as a way to celebrate your first-ever Read a Road Map Day.

The Health Benefits of a Road Trip

You may think that being cooped up in a car all day is unhealthy, and you’d be right, but you can improve your road trip health with the right sort of snacks, staying hydrated, and taking advantage of the many roadside attractions and trails you are likely to find.

Small hikes are fantastic for staying trim and active. Plus, the long drives of a road trip can actually be a stress-relieving experience far different from the bumper-to-bumper, nail-biting jams we often associate with driving.

Road Trip #1: Columbia River Scenic Highway, Oregon

The Columbia River Scenic Highway is not like others you will have traveled. The route is over a century old and was built solely for scenery. It’s no surprise then that this historic drive is full of breathtaking views, nature hikes, and a landscape you will want to drive through again and again.

The route is 75 miles long and spans from the Dalles to Troutdale. It starts to the east of Portland and winds its way along the Columbia Gorge. There are numerous pull-offs along the way for you to stop, stretch your legs, and soak in the surrounding nature. Your drive will be complimented by never-ending mountain ranges and even the occasional waterfall.

Road Trip #2: Great River Road, Minnesota to Louisiana

Apart from taking month-long steamship ride, this is the best way to experience the awesome power of the Mississippi River. Driving from north to south will inspire the inner Mark Twain that lives in all of us. This route also has a special place in history as it marks where the true West began.

There is a lot to see along this road trip, so you may want to split it up into smaller sections. This way, you can appreciate the unexpectedly hilly terrain in Iowa and Wisconsin as well as the Delta region that runs from Memphis to New Orleans.

If you have time, stop for a St. Louis Cardinals game. From there you get the best of everything, as you get a clear shot of the river and the famous Gateway Arch too.

Road Trip #3: Hill Country Hideaways, Texas

This trip consists of passing through the vast central region of Texas most commonly known from movies. With its deep canyons, fast-flowing rivers, and endless sagebrush rolling through, you will feel like you are on set in a Western.

The charming two-lane highways allow you to take your time as you wind gently through the vast landscape. Try making a loop of the state highways 335, 336, and 337. Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for Utopia, Texas—this tiny paradise lives up to its name.

Road Trip #4: Pacific Coast Highway, California

Specifically this is a section of the PCH, stretching from San Luis Obispo to Monterey. The Pacific Coast Highway, or Route 1, covers most of the length of the state, but this small section is a real gem.

You’ll pass through the twists and turns of Big Sur, winding back and forth between beautiful coastline and stunning cliffside views. You can also enjoy the cultural haven of Carmel as well as Paso Robles, which brings you real close to wine country.

You get the best of both worlds with this trip, passing through beautiful mountains and driving right along California's Pacific coast. As you look over the ocean at sunset, it feels like you are truly at the end of the world.

You can enjoy this road in either direction, but the driver will get a chance to enjoy it too when you go from south to north. Be sure to stop in San Simeon at Hearst Castle so you can see this wonderful Spanish cathedral dropped into a true California ranchland backdrop.

Road Trip #5: Route 66, Illinois to California

Route 66 has been sung about, talked about, and even appears in famous novels. This iconic route touches on some of the greatest American mythologies to date.

A large part of the Midwest-to-Pacific portion of the route has been taken over by interstates but most of the way still offers original two-lane highways. And these are the best places “to get your kicks.”

You’ll feel like you’re in a movie as you drive along, and the breathtaking views will leave you inspired. The Southwestern portion offers the best scenery, but do not skip out on the Illinois sector.

Road Trip #6: The Grand Circle Tour

The Grand Circle takes you through the 10 best national parks in Southwestern U.S., including Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, Grand Canyon, and Capitol Reef National Park. Make sure to allow yourself time to get through this tour.

| Related: 5 New National Parks in Chile Protect Millions of Acres |

At a minimum you want to spend two weeks driving through so you can take every scene in. The country’s national parks offer the very best wildlands, and this selection makes an ideal road trip to see it all.

The Bottom Line

Hitting the road is always an adventure waiting to happen. With a map in hand, you can go anywhere and see anything. There is wide world to explore when you take a road trip, and maps are entryways to destinations you have only dreamed of or seen on TV.

Grab a map, make a plan (or don’t), and hit the road. With any of these recommended trips you will be amazed, and along the way you may discover something that hasn’t made it on to any map yet.

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