Has anyone taken any of these drives?
My husband, Bronson, thinks I swear too much. That's why he presents me
with a shellacked-cedar cuss bank at Luray Caverns in Virginia's
Shenandoah Valley. We can't resist the vivid green billboards
announcing nature's hidden treasure at exit 264 off Interstate 81,
which cuts through the fertile region that historians call the
Breadbasket of the Confederacy.
MILES: 100, DRIVING TIME: Half a day
A virgin patch of wildflower-dotted prairie survives in a part of
Kansas where rocky outcrops made plowing difficult. From I-70 in
Manhattan, in the northeastern part of the state, head south on 177. At
first, the road swerves around and over limestone bluffs, but when you
reach El Dorado and I-35, you'll be on the plains. Fans of wide-open
spaces shouldn't miss the more than 10,000 acres of undisturbed land at
the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve (620/273-8494;
), two miles north of Strong City.
MILES: 120, DRIVING TIME: With twisting roads and lots of stops, give
it a day.
Rugged, hilly, and forested-that's why the northeastern edge of Iowa
is nicknamed Little Switzerland. Start in Dubuque, where the National
Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium (800/226-3369;
) has the world's largest steam towboat
as well as five huge tanks that offer close encounters with denizens of
the deep. Then head north, keeping the river on your right. Small roads
take you past locks and dams, ferry landings, backwoods communities,
and Pikes Peak State Park (563/873-2341; www.exploreiowaparks.com
500 feet one of the highest points along the entire Mississippi River.
MILES: 85, DRIVING TIME: One day
Island hopping makes this short trip deliciously slow. Take the ferry
) from Edmonds, north of
Seattle, to Kingston; then follow 104 and U.S. 101 to Sequim, a
lavender-growing center that's the sunniest spot in western Washington.
Along the way, browse roadside farm stands for lavender products.
Continue to Port Angeles, then hop the ferry to English-accented
Victoria, British Columbia, for afternoon tea-or an overnight
stay-at the Fairmont Empress (866/540-4429; www.fairmont.com/empress;
tea from $18, doubles from $120).
MILES: 310, DRIVING TIME: Two days
Allow yourself plenty of time for this ramble amid the russet gorges
and spires of southern Utah. After leaving I-70 near Green River, drive
southwest on 24 through Capitol Reef National Park, then south on 12.
The road climbs 9,200 feet up Boulder Mountain en route to the
multicolored badlands of Bryce Canyon National Park (435/834-5322;
). Spend the night at rustic Bryce Canyon Lodge
doubles from $115), built in
the 1920's of sandstone and ponderosa pine. The next day, continue
south and west on U.S. 89 to 9, through Zion National Park, to I-15.
MILES: 210, DRIVING TIME: One day
It's less than 250 miles from Memphis to Jackson, Mississippi, via U.S.
61 and U.S. 49, but plan for plenty of stops to savor the down-home
cuisine of the Mississippi Delta. Unassuming eateries all along the
route serve up barbecue, catfish, and the classic Southern
meat-and-three supper; stop for lunch at the Blue & White Restaurant
(1355 Hwy. 61 N., Tunica; 662/363-1371; lunch buffet for two $13). Stay
at the sumptuous Alluvian Hotel (866/600-5201; www.thealluvian.com;
doubles from $175).
MILES: 200, DRIVING TIME: Two days
U.S. 98, from south of Tallahassee, west to Pensacola, is the last long
stretch of Florida coast where sea views are virtually uninterrupted by
high-rises. Loop onto 30A to explore the New Urbanist prototype town of
Seaside-an outdoor museum of great architecture and planning. Spend
the night at the WaterColor Inn (866/426-2656; www.watercolorinn.com;
doubles from $265) and finish the drive in the morning.
8. North Carolina
MILES: 110, DRIVING TIME: One day
Discover backwoods and sand hills on this trip through the North
Carolina heartland. Head south from Greensboro on U.S. 220 until you
reach the town of Ashgrove and scenic byway 705. It's 40 miles to
Seagrove, a historic pottery-making community; there are still 80
working potteries to shop in. From there, take tiny 705, then go on 24
east to Fayetteville, past dreamy-sounding towns like Whispering Pines
MILES: 125, DRIVING TIME: One day
The western shore of Michigan has lighthouses and old beach towns,
orchards and vineyards, dramatic bluffs with lake vistas. From
Ludington (the terminus of a ferry from Wisconsin), go north on U.S. 31
to Manistee, where a logging boom left an exuberant Victorian
architectural legacy. From there, follow 22 north along the shore. At
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (231/326-5134; www.nps.gov/slbe
one of the sand hills rises 460 feet above the lake; few can resist
climbing the dunes for the views-and sliding down afterward.
10. New York
MILES: 45, DRIVING TIME: One day
Luminous vistas of New York's Hudson River inspired a 19th-century
school of painting and drew the era's gilderati to build palatial
estates. How long you spend on the 45-mile drive north from Beacon to
Hudson, via U.S. 9 and local 9G, depends on how many sites you tour.
Highlights include the 54-room Neoclassical Vanderbilt mansion, FDR's
Georgian-style Springwood, and painter Frederic Edwin Church's Persian
fantasy Olana. Treat yourself to lunch at American Bounty Restaurant in
Hyde Park (845/471-6608; www.ciachef.edu;
lunch for two from $50).
Operated by the Culinary Institute of America, it specializes in local