We’re in the home stretch, people: Spring, in all her bird-chirpring, flower-blooming glory is on the horizon. So, how about planning a good old-fashioned road trip for you and the clan? Here are five stunning drives around the country perfect for the changing seasons.
GOLD COAST, MICHIGAN
Time needed: 5 days
Follow the coast of Lake Michigan for 220 miles on US-131 S past windswept dunes, friendly bed-and-breakfasts and lovely cherry blossoms in full bloom. Spend a day or two in Traverse City: Explore any of the 20-plus wineries along the Old Mission and Leelanau peninsulas, and try the Mario Batali-beloved restaurant The Cooks’ House. As you drive south, you’ll pass the Dutch-influenced town of Holland; Saugatuck, which is home to an eccentric art community; and South Haven, known for its hiking trails and perch fishing on the lake. The final stop, St. Joseph, is a quintessential beach town complete with cobblestone streets and old-fashioned lighthouses.
HILL COUNTRY, TEXAS
Time needed : 4 days
This 200-mile loop that begins and ends in Austin traverses the small towns and rolling hills at the heart of the Lone Star State. Start west on Highway 290, and keep an eye out for fields bursting with wild bluebonnets. Take a dip in the Hamilton Pool Preserve natural swimming hole, located just outside Austin; feast on brisket at Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood; enjoy live music and beer at Pecan Street Brewing in Johnson City; and treat yourself to stellar Merlots and Malbecs at Becker Vineyards in Fredericksburg.
COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE, OREGON AND WASHINGTON
Time needed: 4 days
This canyon filled with lush greenery and waterfalls stretches for 80 miles between Oregon and Washington. After starting in Portland (and don’t leave without a maple bacon Voodoo Doughnut), take a 30-minute trip on I-84 E to Multnomah Falls, the tallest of the 26 waterfalls along the gorge and accessible via a four-mile loop called Horsetail Falls Trailhead. Continue on I-84 E and spend the night in Hood River, a cool and sporty town with a serious coffee culture. For the final leg, take WA-14 E just over the state boarder to Lyle, Washington. There, you can hit up the Domaine Pouillon winery to try the region’s Rhone-style reds
ROAD TO HANA, HAWAII
Time needed: 3 days
The best way to see the lush, rugged island of Maui is to get behind the wheel. Start in Kahului, where you can rent a car (preferably a Jeep Wrangler) for the 64-mile trip. Along the route, you’ll pass glistening Pacific coastline, the black sand shores of Wai’anapanapa State Park, the cascading Wailua Falls and “the seven sacred pools” of Haleakala National Park. Don’t miss a stop in the hippie-surf town of Paia, home to the mahi-mahi-famous Mama’s Fish House.
U.S. HIGHWAY 1, MAINE
Time needed: 4 days
The journey from Kennebunkport to Bar Harbor is just over 200 miles, all along tiny fishing towns, craggy coastline and harbors filled with bobbing sailboats. Grab a heaping, buttery lobster roll from The Clam Shack before heading north on U.S. 1 and stopping at the harbor towns of Popham Beach, Boothbay, Bath and Rockport. (Each has an enchanting main street lined with ice cream parlors and old bookstores.) Continue north to the summer town of Bar Harbor to spend a day or two exploring Acadia National Park, where rocky beaches meet rustic forest.