Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Maine to California?

Hi, my name is Kevin and I am planning on driving to California this summer from Maine. I was wondering which route has the best scenery and the best attractions? Of course when I check Google Maps for directions it just says to stay on the interstate the whole time and I would imagine that probably isn’t the best way to really see anything. I don’t care how long it takes me to get to California. I am hoping the drive will be the best part. I was just wondering if you had some recommendations on what high ways to take or what places to stop? Thanks!


Hi Kevin --

Thanks for writing in to Road Trip USA -- sounds like you have a big adventure ahead of you.

You also have the entire country to cross, so needless to say the possibilities are just about endless. Depending upon where in Maine you start, and which places you already know, I would suggest you kick off your trip by heading west, exploring the Presidential Range of New Hampshire and the Green Mountains of Vermont, starting out along old US-2 from the Bethel ME area.

This is some of the prettiest scenery in New England -- and since you are embarking on such an epic trip, why not have a symbolic start atop Mount Washington, a majestic peak on which you can drive all the way to the top!?

From New England you can run across (or around) the Adirondacks of New York, exploring some of the historic towns along the Erie Canal (Rochester an Buffalo are both worth a look). Not to mention Niagara Falls. which is a road-trip Must See. I cover this route in detail in my US-20 "Oregon Trail" chapter.

From here you have a big decision to make -- would you prefer to enjoy a rural ride, winding along the north shores of the Great Lakes (and passing into and out of Canada?) Or would you prefer the industrial experience of the "Rust Belt," the once mighty cities of Detroit and Cleveland. And still-mighty Chicago, which is perhaps my favorite American city to explore.

It's a big decision -- but then again you could opt for one on your westbound trip, and another route on the way back. You are coming back, aren't you?

The next stage of the trip offers even more possibilities -- national parks of the northern Rockies (Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons are two more Must Sees, along with iconic Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota.)

Or the Spanish and Native American cultures of the Southwest? If you opt for New Mexico and Arizona, then Route 66 is your way to go.

So here are a number of suggestions -- I hope this helps, and I hope you get a chance to check out my book, which has 900+ pages of things for you to do when you're "on the road" this summer.

Happy Trails,

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA

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