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6 Affordable Summer Road Trip Itineraries

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Summer’s here and if you’re lucky that means it’s time to take a well-deserved break. For some, that break will involve a lounge chair and the latest beach read. For others, it signals that it’s time to pack up the car and explore new places. If you’re on a budget, summer fun can still be had without breaking the bank. You can find plenty of fun things to do that are family-friendly and budget-friendly by exploring our nation’s highways and byways.

Here are six summer road trip ideas to fill your summer itinerary.

1. Iconic Route 66

Route 66 is the iconic American road trip that has been the focus of many movies, songs, and novels. It’s an affordable road trip because you can pick and choose the adventures along the way that suit your budget. Since Route 66 passes through California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois, you’ll find plenty to do to suit everybody’s interests.

If you’re nostalgic for 1950s America, Route 66 can transport you back in time. You’ll have the chance to stay at retro motels, eat pie at mid-century diners, and stop by 1950s gas stations. You can take in sights as varied as the Cadillac Ranch, Catoosa Whale, and the Wagon Wheel Motel. Don’t forget to schedule enough time to explore the magnificent Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest National Park. The Painted Desert, Milk Bottle Grocery, and St. Louis Arch are other attractions you’ll not want to miss.

Tip - Don't forget to stop at the Corner in Winslow, AZ

The corner is situated at the intersection of Kinsley and Highway 66, made famous by the Eagles' song, Take it Easy. Historic Route 66 runs right through here, making it a great place for a quick stop.


2. Yosemite

First protected in 1864, Yosemite is one of the older national parks in the country. Located in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, Yosemite covers 1,280 square miles and is best known for its spectacular waterfalls. A nature lover's paradise with deep valleys and ancient, giant Sequoia trees, some of its most famous sites include El Capitan, Half Dome, and the Yosemite Falls.

On the way to Yosemite, you might want to take the route that goes through the Tioga Pass. If you’re a photographer, be sure to take your camera to capture the miles of arresting sights along this route. The best part about these summer road trip ideas is that most of the scenic attractions are free. Another route you might enjoy is Glacier Road, which provides stunning views of the valley below. Yosemite offers adventures for both beginners and seasoned explorers.


3. Oregon Coast Highway 101

From historical shipwrecks, impressive sea stacks, and a constantly changing tide line, the Oregon Coast stretches for over 360 miles from Astoria and the Columbia River all the way down to Brookings and California. In addition, every inch of the coast is open to the public, earning it the nickname "People's Coast."

The Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach and the Yaquina Head Lighthouse in Newport are just a few of the state's top attractions. The Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor offers some of the most ruggedly beautiful views along the coast. Almost every half-mile, there are scenic vistas worth stopping for.


4. Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend

Near Page, Arizona, lies Antelope Canyon, a slot canyon. Rain and wind sculpted the amazing red sandstone into its shape. The mouth of the canyon leads to several hundred feet of narrow passageways.

Typical for slot canyons, the rocks are sloping and the light is shining as it makes its way down from the top rim creating an incredible scene. Many of the passageways are only eight-to-twelve feet wide. Pictures are beautiful but it’s hard to capture the true beauty through a lens. You have to see it to believe just how incredible it is.

If you book your tours during the day, you should consider the time of day as the sunlight will change the appearance. Between March and October, optimal viewing times are from 11 to 1, when sunlight shines into the canyon and illuminates the walls. From November to March, there are fewer tourists and tour groups.

You can choose to go to either the Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon areas. Lower Antelope Canyon is usually less crowded.

Due to its location on Navajo Nation land, you must have a tour guide. A permit is required for you to visit the site, and the guide is designed to assist you in obtaining one. Visits to Antelope Canyon are available on many tours, some of which also cover Horseshoe Bend.

Tip - Horseshoe Bend: It’s very likely that you have seen pictures of it, even if you haven’t heard of it before. There is a path that takes around an hour-and-a-half to walk if you want to get to the canyon floor of Horseshoe Bend.


5. Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most affordable summer trips in the eastern United States. The best part is that if you’re exploring Virginia or North Carolina, you can always travel a section of the Parkway. It stretches from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the Shenandoah National Park. Filled with beautiful vistas and Appalachian culture, the Parkway is over 460 miles long.

You will probably want to take your hiking boots along and stop by a few places like Mabry Mill, Peaks of Otter, and Humpback Rocks. You will also want to visit Linville Falls, Craggy Gardens, and Oconoluftee. Country music fans will enjoy the Blue Ridge Music Center. Other sights you’ll want to take in include Cascade Falls at milepost 271.9, Beacon Heights at milepost 305.2, and the Chestoa View Overlook at milepost 320.8.


6. Niagara Falls

One of the most beautiful trips on the east coast is the route from Buffalo, NY, to New York City. You can begin the trip at Niagara Falls and get up close with the Maid of the Mist boat tour. Of course, you’ll want to explore the falls from both the American and Canadian sides. You have plenty of opportunities to explore the Niagara Falls area. The Cave of the Winds, White Water Walk, Journey Behind the Falls, and Inniskillin Winery are stops to put on your itinerary.

The next stop on your itinerary should be Letchworth State Park. This park features canyons that have earned it the nickname “the Grand Canyon of the East.” It is an excellent stop to explore nature. The Finger Lakes region offers beautiful vistas of lakes, waterfalls, and some of the best wineries in the area. You might want to stop by Saratoga Springs for some horse racing action or to soak in the famous mineral baths. The Catskills region also has a lot to offer in the way of hiking trails and beautiful scenery. End your trip with a stop in the Big Apple for all the iconic sights New York City has to offer.


Before You Go

The best way to ensure your enjoyment is to be prepared for the trip. You want to make sure that you have everything you need for the road. One of the worst things that can happen is if your car breaks down along the way. That’s why it’s important to make sure that you have roadside assistance coverage so that you’re ready for any emergency.

Our beautiful country has plenty of opportunities for fun and adventure for the budget-minded road tripper. These are our top picks and some favorites for summer fun. You can certainly find many other experiences on the roads across America. Before you plan your trip, contact us, and we can help you make sure all of your insurance needs covered.



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