A few weeks ago I was so excited to hit the quiet highways through the Palouse region of WA. It was the first Giulia and Julie road trip of the season. I love driving Giulia through these rolling hills when the skies blue, the clouds are puffy, and the wheat fields are a deep luscious green. There is a special place of thoughtfulness that I tap into when I drive through this beautiful area.
Now is the perfect road trip season. The winter storms are past, and the summer heat and crowds are not yet upon us. It’s easy to be complacent and stay home on the weekends, making excuses about the yardwork and spring cleaning to be done. I suggest starting your summer with intention. So here are ten ideas to inspire you to hit the road.
1. Have a bucket list experience
Is there something you’ve never done before that you are really craving to do? Maybe the opportunity to have that experience just opened up for you but it requires jumping in the car and taking a bit of a road trip.
Life is fragile and joyful. Don’t wait to have the experiences that are on your wish list.
When I was in Switzerland, I discovered that paragliding in the Swiss Alps was offered to travelers in a town near Interlaken. But the friend we were visiting lived close to Basel. On her day off work, we opted to jump in the car early in the morning and drive a couple of hours to go paragliding. The night before, it snowed at the elevation of the launch. So, we started flying from the snow and descended past a waterfall and into the lush green valley below. It was magical. The quiet and beauty overwhelmed me, and I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face the rest of the day.
2. Go to a resort you’ve always wanted to stay over at
A little Google search will yield wonderful lists of fascinating lodges, themed resorts, and downtown boutique hotels. Perhaps you have passed by a place and always wanted to stay there overnight.
Why not just book it and create a road trip around the stay?
One of my besties and I made a little road trip out of going to the gorgeous Alderbrook Resort on the Hood Canal and the delicious breakfast alone was worth the whole trip. I also discovered a sweet little boutique hotel in downtown Camas, WA on a spontaneous road trip to the waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge.
It doesn’t even have to be far from home. There are numerous adorable B&Bs within a few miles of my house that are on my list to visit.
3. Hike a trail, ski a mountain, or visit a beach
What type of nature and outdoor activities do you like? Plan a road trip around doing what you enjoy.
I love visiting ski towns in the off-season to see how different they look. Usually, there is good hiking or biking available as well as lovely lodges and unique dining.
It’s also on my list to take my inflatable SUPs and hit the road with the freedom to stop and paddle wherever I get the vibe.
4. Visit a new city or a national park
Is there a small city you have never explored or a national park that’s on your list to visit?
I took a great road trip through North Cascades National Parks a few years ago and it was a lovely day of driving and scenery. There are many incredible lesser known, oft-overlooked national parks.
Read more about my drive through Washington’s North Cascades Highway here.
The second morning of this trip gave me the opportunity to explore the town of Winthrop, WA. You can pick a city/town and drive there via the back roads and then enjoy exploring the town on foot or with an electric scooter.
5. Go to a concert or sporting event
There are endless opportunities for travel around concerts and sports.
I have made two road trips to watch Davis Cup tennis when it was coming to my region. I even got to watch a match with the #1 player in the world at the time Novak Djokovic. It was incredible to be up close to the match unlike a huge tournament or the associated outrageous prices. It also gave me the opportunity to explore towns and eateries I might not have otherwise visited.
6. Go to a specific restaurant
You might be a real foodie with a list of restaurants you want to visit. I love checking out restaurant lists as I pass through towns on a road trip.
Or you might be like my friends who spent years traveling to places so they could eat at every Old Spaghetti Factory in the world. Not gourmet but still fun. Now when a new location opens, they go as VIP guests.
7. Drive all the roads in your county or state
This is for those of you who really like exploring. The idea had never even occurred to me until a friend told me that he had driven every highway in the state of Washington. He loved to drive and explore.
Another schoolmate has set out to ride his bicycle on every street in Seattle. These are fun projects that feed curiosity and open your eyes to a geographical region you otherwise pass through habitually. This adds intention to your road trip.
8. Visit a certain type of farm or industry
Is there a type of agriculture or industry that is unique nearby? Or maybe something you’ve never seen or learned much about.
A popular road trip in the PNW is the tulip festival in the Skagit Valley of northwest WA. I’ve made a couple of road trips to visit the brightly blooming tulip fields.
A couple of new road trips on my bucket list are to visit a garlic farm tucked away in Northern Idaho near my lake house and to go to the National Lentil Festival in Pullman, WA because I love lentils but know very little about how they are grown.
9. See the sunrise or sunset from a specific viewpoint
Many viewpoints are simply stunning and worth waking up early or lingering late. One of my favorites is a road trip to the Vista House at Crown Point in the Columbia River Gorge. The light over the river and gorge from this vantage is magnificent.
Because I like mountains, another fun road trip idea is to find old fire towers to visit. They usually involve a 4-wheel drive vehicle and a hike, but the sunrise or sunset views are always unique from a fire tower. Sometimes you are even allowed to stay overnight.
10. The pure joy of driving and finding your favorite type of road.
Sometimes it just feels freeing and relaxing to hit the road with absolutely no agenda or destination. Or maybe you want to drive a certain type of road.
There is nothing more tantalizing than a sign such as approaching Lolo Pass that says “Curves” for the next 128 miles, especially if you are driving a sports car or riding a motorcycle. Perhaps you want a road with a great climb like Pikes Peak in CO or the Highway to the Sun in Glacier National Park. Or you can find joy in a long straight road such as Loneliest Road in America through Nevada.
Read more about my Navada road trip during winter here.
Summer can fly by fast so get it started with intention by planning a road trip.
Whatever brings you joy and enrichment, find that road and drive it. Drop a pin on your desired destination and create a road trip.