This week marks 10 years since I embarked on a cross-country US road trip with one of my good friends. In honor of the anniversary, here’s a contributed piece on stops to consider when planning a US road trip of your own.
There’s no better road trip than heading from the hustle and bustle of the East Coast to the laid-back, sunlit landscapes of California. Summer is the peak time for cross-country adventures in the States, whether you go by car, RV, train or even bike. Here are a few tips for some stops you can’t miss along the way.
Though it may not be the height of the skiing season in summer, Aspen is the perfect stop off point for beautiful views of the Rocky Mountains and offers a quaint little town full of warm and welcoming rest stops. With an abundance of luxury mountain hotels, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to accommodation, and if you’ve got an eye for heights, you can’t miss out on Aspen’s famed chairlift rides. On your way in, don’t forget to stop at Independence Pass, the Continental Divide that takes you 12,000 feet into the mountains with stunning views.
The Grand Canyon, Arizona
Whether you’re a walker, driver or helicopter rider, the national park with its 277-mile-long natural canyon offers an abundance of viewing options, including the world famous Skywalk, home to the ancient Hualapai Tribe. Drivers can make the most of the canyon’s sights with the Desert View Drive, a 25-mile scenic route through the South Rim to the east of the Grand Canyon Village. Here you’ll find six developed canyon viewpoints and some opportunities to stretch your legs in the Tusayan Ruin and Museum.
Both the South and North Rim offer walking options for hikers, but be advised – none of these are easy and all will require sensible walking boots, appropriate clothing and plenty of drinking water. We recommend heading over to the Grand Canyon Field Institute, where you can learn all about the canyon’s climate and wildlife.
Thrill-seekers will love the Grand Canyon’s helicopter tours, giving you stunning views of lush forests, the Colorado River and the aforementioned Skywalk in the West Rim. Departing from three stops, you can also fly deep into the canyon, just 100 feet above the Colorado River.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Though it might seem like an expensive vacation destination for some, hotel prices actually come very reasonably in Vegas, with hotspots like the MGM Grand only charging an average of $70 a night for a standard double room.
Aside from its famous strip, Vegas also offers a number of wonders such as the Top of the World restaurant at the Stratosphere, giving you panoramic views of the city of sin. Shoppers will love the Caesar’s Palace forum, where you can watch a 15-minute live show of Atlantis every hour, and the New York, New York hotel also has its very own roller coaster. At $14 a ride, it’s pretty expensive, but definitely worth it for the views of the area.
With everything you could wish for from 24-7 casinos to pools, roller coasters and sky-high restaurants, you really can’t afford to miss Vegas – but you also can’t afford to whittle away spending money you don’t have, so try a few free practice rounds at EuroPalace.com first before you walk into those Bellagio Fountains.
The Pacific Highway, California
The Pacific Highway offers, quite simply, some of the most stunning vistas of the Pacific Ocean, with a number of hotspots along the way.
San Francisco is an essential pit stop, with photo opportunities on the Golden Gate Bridge and along the walls of Alcatraz, previously a prison with inmates such as Al Capone. Katy Perry’s favorite hangout, Santa Barbara, offers sandy beaches and Secret Gardens, and it’s also a great place to visit if you’re a bit of a wine connoisseur.
Head to Hollywood for a chance to stroll down the Walk of Fame or see your favorite stars’ names scribbled in the cement outside the Chinese Theater. Finally, don’t finish your trip without a visit to San Diego, which offers beautiful sights such as Balboa Park and Seaport Village.
One insider tip, though – make sure you start north and travel downwards so that you’re on the right side of the road for all those beautiful sea views.