Summer isn’t the only time of the year when you can indulge in dream vacations and scenic drives. In fact, the chilly season of fall offers some of the best days to go on road trips. So it’s not a coincidence that my most unforgettable travel experiences have happened during this period. I made trips around Germany and the Philippines in the months of September through November. Not only is transportation cheaper, there are fewer people on tourist sites, too.
But perhaps a must for every traveler, is the classic road trip. Imagine wide, clear skies, the feel of the wind in your hair, and stunning fall foliage. Nothing beats the call of the open road and the freedom to choose your stops. Now that fall is here, why not go on the ultimate adventure?
Check out these top six destinations for the road trips of a lifetime.
1. Spontaneous Road Trips on Route 66, United States
Dubbed as “The Mother Road”, the path begins from Chicago, going across the country’s best sights (such as the Cadillac Ranch in Texas and the Grand Canyon caverns in Arizona), before finally ending at the Santa Monica Pier in California.
(Image credits to Randy Heinitz via Flickr.com)
The route itself became famous sometime in the late 40’s and early 50’s. Businesses along the 2,448 miles were sustained by the road’s popularity, before being removed from United States Highway System in 1985. But as more and more folks were hit by nostalgia, Route 66 slowly began its revival. In fact, Disney and Pixar’s animated movie, “Cars”, was inspired by real sights along Route 66.
2. Take the Drive of a Lifetime at Icefields Parkway, Canada
While driving can be fun and scenic, one of the best parts of road trips is the pit stops. But instead of grabbing a burger at a local diner, why not go hiking? Icefields Parkway is famous year round because it connects two national parks (Jasper National Park to Banff National Park) for the ultimate awe-inspiring trip.
(Image credits to Antony Stanley via Flickr.com)
Begin your epic adventure at ‘Mile Zero’ in Jasper, Canada. After that, it’s a long stretch of beautiful valleys, gorges, and even glacier. From the highly accessible Valley of the Five Lakes to a rewarding view once you reach Wilcox Pass, this is one road trip you’ll enjoy alone – or with a friend or two.
3. Drive Through Legendary Causeway Coastal Route, Ireland
This is the road trip for all “Game of Thrones” fans. If you’ve always wanted to become part of this fantasy series, you should check out Causeway Coastal Route in Ireland. This route has long been famous for people who love folklores and tales of old. But thanks to the wildly popular HBO original, the road is getting more attention worldwide.
(Image credits to Joseph Mischyshyn via Geograph.ie)
The original route begins at Belfast and ends at Londonderry. A few of the must-see highlights include: the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, the legendary Giant’s Causeway, and the ruins of Dunluce castle, which was built sometime around the 14th century. If you’re going to visit “Game of Thrones” sites, don’t forget to check out Tollymore Forest Park (the Haunted Forests), the Dark Hedges, and County Derry-Londonderry’s Portstewart Strand.
4. Fairytales Come Alive in Romantic Road, Germany
If you’re looking for something straight out of a storybook, there’s no better place than the Romantic road in Germany. The “Romantische Strasse” boasts of quaint inns and wine cellars, small local souvenir shops, restaurants serving authentic Bavarian cuisine, and vast stretches of dark green woods leading to ancient castles.
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Your journey will begin in charming Franconia, in the vineyards of Würzburg, going to little towns of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Dinkelsbühl, Augsburg, and Schwangau, before arriving at Füssen. It’s one of the last towns in Germany, so you’ll definitely get one of the best views of the Alps. Fulfill your fairytale dreams with castles like the renowned Neuschwanstein and Hohenswangau. Now, the only thing missing is your crown.
5. Old Meets New in Bandai Azuma Roadway: Japan
Looking for otherworldly road trips that avoid high traffic and tourist traps? Japan’s Bandai Azuma Roadway could be the answer. Don’t be frightened just because it’s located in Fukushima! Their Tourism Information center has all the details you need for a safe, wonderful road trip of a lifetime.
(Image credits to Soumei Baba via Flickr.com)
The route has a total distance of 28.7 km and passes Mt. Azuma’s crater, which is great for folks who love to hike. Start from Takayu Hot Springs going to Tsuchiyu Pass, where you’ll be treated to stunning views of the landscape, fresh air, and solitude. If you go in spring or summer, you can watch beautiful flowers blooming along the road. If you go in the fall, expect amazing bursts or red, orange, and brown dot the landscape.
6. Halsema Highway: Philippines
We’ll top off the list with the little-known wonder of Halsema highway connecting Baguio and Bontoc in the Mountain Province. Sometimes called the Benguet-Mountain Province Road, Baguio-Bontoc Road or simply, Mountain Trail, it’s the highest altitude highway in the Philippines.
(Image credits to Leocadio Sebastian via Flickr.com)
In 2013, it was included in Dangerousroads.org’s list of most spectacular yet dangerous roads due to its steep crags, narrow drop offs, and hazards during bad weather. But if you’re lucky and the sun shines, you’ll be treated to breath-taking views of green rice terraces and clear, blue skies. Cap off your road trip with a hike to see the hanging coffins in Sagada or strawberry-picking in Baguio.
Whichever of these road trips you decide to go for, don’t forget to be safe at all times. Keep a safe distance from huge vehicles such as trucks, and learn to give way to smaller means of transportation, such as bikes. Practice defensive driving by paying attention to small details on and on the side of the road.
As roads trips can also be stressful, be sure to have a plan B ready (e.g. have a friend or loved one drive when you get sleepy or tired). Apps can also serve as great road trip companions: whether you need directions or the latest weather report.
So what are you waiting for? Use the chilly fall weather to your advantage and take the adventure of a lifetime.
Featured photo credit: Dreamypixel.com via dreamypixel.com