Part-time traveller, Full-Time Brummie

Top 5 USA Road Trip Highlights

Mr Fletche and I have been lucky to do two different US road trips over the last 6 years, and we’re starting to think about another one in 2017 to celebrate my zero-ending birthday!  This got me thinking about some of my favourite memories from our previous trips…

Death Valley, California. Nothing prepares you for Death Valley.  We’d driven from the bright lights and excess of Las Vegas into desolation and an eerie silence. We watched from within our lovely air-conditioned car as the temperature outside crept up from the relatively cool 100 degrees to a ridiculous peak of 126 degrees.  Opening the car door was akin to opening a hot oven.  Stepping out the car at Badwater is akin to having a hair dryer blown into your face on the hottest, strongest setting. But it’s beautiful.  Stark and desolate, yes.  But also beautiful.  We drove from Ashford Junction in the South, to Badwater Basin, Artist’s Drive and up to Zabriskie Point, before a well-deserved drink in the air-conditioned comfort of the Furnace Creek Resort. We left well before dusk to get to our overnight Lone Pine base, but I can only imagine how clear the Death Valley night sky would be…
Overnight in: Dow Villa Motel, Lone Pine

The White Mountains, New Hampshire. I think that if you ask Mr Fletche for his happiest holiday moments, our two days spent in the White Mountains would top his list hands-down.  From our stunning riverside guesthouse with its hammock by the water, friendly Labradors and pumpkin display outside; to the beauty of the 35 mile scenic Kancamagus Highway.  From the waterfalls and covered bridges of Flume Gorge; to the 4,080 ft summit of Cannon Mountain, accessed by an aerial tramway.  From gushing falls at Glen Ellis; to scrambling over rocks at Diana’s Bath.  And from a wobbly cycle ride around the trails of Great Glen; to driving the winding, narrow Auto Road to the 6,288 ft peak of Mount Washington.  In the winter, this is a skiing and snowboarding paradise, but in late summer/early fall, the White Mountains are just – paradise.
Overnight in: Riverside Inn, Intervale

Driving the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to LA: You can drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles on the 101 Freeway.  Or you can take Route 1, hugging the coast with the Pacific Ocean on your right hand side and towering mountains on your left.  National Geographic Traveller have even named the 123 mile “Big Sur” stretch from Monterey to Morro Bay as one of their “Drives of a Lifetime.”   There are sleepy beach towns – like Cambria with its beautiful Moonstone Beach – and bustling towns like Santa Cruz, Monterey and Santa Barbara.  There are lighthouses, bridges and waterfalls cascading down onto the beach. There are sea otters, sea lions – and best of all – elephant seals.  In distance, the Big Sur Drive is one of the shortest of our trip, but takes the longest as we stop so many times to admire the view, take short hikes and just take in the natural beauty before us.
Overnight in: Sea Otter Inn, Cambria

Chilling in the Public Gardens in Boston: Finishing up a jam-packed trip in another busy city was a crazy idea. And as much as I loved following The Freedom Trail (until we lost it so ambled into a pub), the Duck Tour on the Charles River (quack quack) and our visit to Fenway (Go Red Sox!), we were just too exhausted to properly enjoy the city.  Yet one of my favourite things was just relaxing in the Public Gardens, watching locals go about their day and watching squirrels scampering from tree to tree.  And when we got bored of the Public Gardens, we would continue on to Copley Square in the shadow of the massive John Hancock Tower and the contrasting 19th Century Trinity Church.  Another beautiful green area, perfect for people-watching.  I never thought I’d go to Boston and find peace and quiet rather than hustle and bustle.
Overnight in: Hotel 140, Boston

Vermont: There are three memories which spring to mind when anyone mentions Vermont to me.  The first is spending a morning in the gardens of the Sun & Ski Inn in Stowe, wrapped in a huge blanket reading Game of Thrones whilst Mr Fletche recovers from a dodgy tummy.  Not as though I’d wish for a repeat of that.  The second is the beautiful sunset over Lake Champlain in Burlington.  Not just the sunset, but the almost celebratory atmosphere on the shores from tourists and locals alike.  There were picnics and ball games going on; and then everyone just stopped to watch the sinking sun.  And the final memory.  The speeding ticket.  The cop in his mirrored shades, fingering the gun at his waist.  The excitement and fear all rolled up in one ball of emotions.
Overnight in: Sun & Ski Inn and Suites, Stowe

That’s just 5 memories from two amazing road trips.  I haven’t even covered the craziness of New York, the strange sense of feeling of being right at home in San Francisco or winning $40 in Las Vegas and feeling like the luckiest person alive.   Or whale-watching in Monterey, or eating lobster rolls and blueberries in Maine.

Have you road-tripped in America?  What are your favourite memories?


10 responses to “Top 5 USA Road Trip Highlights”

  1. distancewide says:

    you are having great posts on your blog and this is a nice article … we will follow your blog.

  2. Rebecca Royy says:

    Wow! Awesome selections! My husband and son just went to death valley this summer. They had similar reaction to you!
    My mother and daughter and I did a similar Boston trip last year when we went up to watch me run the marathon.
    Haven’t done the Pacific coast highway. That looks like something to add to the list.
    Been near Mt. Washington, but never to the top… stunning!
    Vermont same. Been there but not lake Champlain. I’ve heard it’s COLD

    • emfletche says:

      Thanks Rebecca, wanted to choose something that was a bit different from the normal “bright lights big city” memories! We’re hoping to come and do some of the Pacific Northwest next September and hopefully up into Canada too!
      It was unseasonably warm when we visited New England in 2013, in the high 70s! In fact the weather has been beautiful on both trips apart from one rainy day at Acadia 🌂

  3. Well, it’s not in the U.S., but y’all definitely need to take a drive from Vancouver, BC up to Whistler on the Sea To Sky Highway. There is nothing quite like it. It’s absolutely beautiful! Or, if you’re looking for nothingness, head on out my direction to the Oklahoma Panhandle and experience No Man’s Land. 🙂

    • emfletche says:

      Vancouver is definitely definitely on the list for next year as my cousin lives out there, and the Sea to Sky Highway looks so beautiful! Would love to do the Rocky Mountaineer route but not sure the budget will stretch to it 😀 Then again, it will be a big birthday… 😀

  4. […] entice you in.  This turned out to be my most popular blog of the year! I also reminisced about US Road Trips, remembering my top 5 moments from our two trips so […]

  5. thebeasley says:

    Yes I love a US road trip. We did from New Orleans to San Fran! It took us 4 weeks. We stopped as much as possible and it was the best holiday of my life. We did the Big Sur in that road trip which was just stunning. Now your blog post has inspired me to do more US road trips 👍🏻

  6. […] in 2018, New England in 2013 and Nevada, Arizona and California in 2010. You can read more about my USA Roadtrip Highlights here. Next time we’d love to drive the Pacific Northwest coast, after maybe spending a few days […]

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