Top 10 Great American Road Trips

Top Western Vacations and Road Trips

The top western vacations to take with your family during the summer include Oregon Coast and California road trips and travel to Montana and Mount Rushmore, South Dakota.

You can enrich your Oregon coast road trip and get to know the lay of the land before you travel by identifying historical sites and monuments to see while you’re on the road.

“You might be surprised to know that Oregon has a national cave monument,” says Anthony Pierpont of St. Paul, Minnestoa. “It’s worth the drive inland to visit the caves, made of natural marble, and to take the tour.” When you map out your trip, look for historic sites and monuments like Mt. Rushmore. They make a great place to stop for a picnic lunch and provide endless photo opportunities, too. A little research before you go can also help you avoid unexpected problems on the road.

Plan to Prevent Road Trip Problems on your Pacific Northwest Vacation by Anthony Pierpont

  • Familiarize yourself with local laws in the towns that you will be visiting on your road trip this year. In Oregon, if pedestrians step out onto a cross walk, regardless of traffic light indicators, you must stop your car and yield to the foot traffic or risk getting fined. Oregon and New Jersey don’t have self service gas stations; try to pump your own gas and you’ll quickly be reprimanded and sent back to the driver’s seat. Beginning in January 2008, you can receive a fine for driving while talking on your cell phone in California. The California cellphone law will now not take effect until July 1, 2008. The CA cellphone law prohibits drivers from using a wireless telephone while operating any motor vehicle without soem sort of hands-free device. Drivers who violate the law will be fined $20 for a first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense. Take the time to find more information about the laws in the areas you’ll visit during your Oregon Coast and California road trips and make your vacation hassle-free.
  • Make sure that you have adequate cell phone service before you take a vacation in the Pacific Northwest. You don’t want to return home to find an outrageous phone bill because of roaming charges. “Our old phone service didn’t include much travel outside of our hometown, so we always got stuck with high roaming fees on California road trips,” says Anthony Pierpont. “After a couple of years, we started leaving our cell phones at home and we bought calling cards and a pre-paid cell phone to have on hand for emergencies instead.”

Doug Melvin of Boise, Idaho: Two of the 10 Great American Road Trips in the Pacific Northwest: California and Oregon.

Doug Melvin, who is well-traveled as a former professional hockey player and TSA chief, had this to offer about planning a Pacific Northwest vacation: “Whether it’s sipping lattes in the rain, eating fresh clam chowder out of a bread bowl, or admiring the blue skies, ocean and dense forests, the Pacific Northwest remains a favorite destination for our family and one of the best road trips, ever.”

  • Great American Road Trip #1: The San Francisco, California vacation trip to Newport, Oregon is a delightful favorite of the Melvin family. Take your time and make this a three to four day journey; some of the California road trips are the ones where you just amble along. During your San Francisco vacation trip, jog over to Napa Valley then swing up through the beautiful Coastal towns in southern Oregon before landing in central Newport, Oregon. Once there, you’ll find plenty to do- from a historic wharf to music and theater and miles of beautiful beaches, a central Oregon Coast road trip never disappoints!
  • Great American Road Trip #2: Once you’ve made it up to Newport, Oregon, keep driving north to Washington State. Driving up Route 101 from Newport, Oregon to Ilwaco, Washington provides plenty of opportunity for distraction. Include Florence’s beautiful old town on your Oregon Coast road trip for a lunchtime visit to historic Mo’s restaurant, known everywhere for their clam chowder. Just outside of Florence, you’ll find miles of sand dunes (and dune buggies for rent) in the Oregon Dunes national recreation area. Picturesque Astoria, Oregon is an ideal stop-off during your vacation trip; the town has sweeping bay views, old historic homes and deep, sloping hills, explaining its nickname, little San Francisco. Finally, drop into Ilwaco, Washington to camp at the Lewis and Clark National & State Historical Park, a Road Trip Guide favorite, and enjoy hiking and fishing along the Columbia River.

Dr. Brett Ferdinand of Montreal, Canada: More of the 10 Great American Road Trips in the West: Montana and South Dakota.

Travel in the western states offers a glimpse of the Wild West from days past. The top western vacations in Montana and South Dakota include plenty of Native American history and folklore, old-time storefronts and plenty of friendly people. Watch for photo opportunities in picturesque small towns, stop by the beautiful state parks for picnic lunches and enjoy the many historic sites along the way when you enjoy one of the 10 great American road trips.

  • Great American Road Trip #3: Great Falls to Missoula, Montana is one of the top western vacations to take this summer. The best road trips offer you a chance to see the Wild West, and this Montana cruise from Routes I-15 to I-90 doesn’t disappoint. The 200 mile drive from Great Falls to Missoula, Montana is one of the 10 great American road trips, primarily because it passes right through Helena, Montana. Helena features buildings that are more than 100 years old, and in close proximity to both Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks- so detours from your planned driving trip are highly advised!
  • Great American Road Trip #4: The drive from Pierre to Mount Rushmore South Dakota is one of the best road trips, hands down! Hop on 83 South and then mosey over to I-90 West to Rapid City, before you switch gears and head up Highway 16 and then Highway 244 to complete your trip from Pierre to Mount Rushmore South Dakota. In addition, side trips include Sturgis, Spearfish, Deadwood and the Crazy Horse memorial- all easily accessible on your Pierre to Mount Rushmore South Dakota trip.

We thank our contributors:

  • Anthony Pierpont, St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Doug Melvin Boise, Idaho
  • Dr. Brett Ferdinand Montreal, Canada

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