After a spring of hibernation, we are more than ready to get out and see the world. For many of us, that means jumping in the car rather than hopping on a plane, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It gives us the opportunity to appreciate the beauty in our own backyard. To inspire your summer travel, we have collected a list of our best domestic itineraries. From East Coast to West and everywhere in between, there’s plenty to see and do within driving distance.
Note that regulations regarding the time and manner of reopening businesses are in flux. Consult the links we've provided along with the itineraries below for the most current information.
The sister cities of Charleston and Savannah, just two hours apart by car, have much to offer visitors. This nine-day trip takes in historic houses, monuments, garden squares, delightful restaurants and more. Those who have more time should consider extending the trip by staying in a hideaway in the coastal countryside. Both Georgia and South Carolina have tempting options.
This weeklong itinerary encompasses much of the best of Northern California’s Napa and Sonoma wine country. The area has long captivated oenophiles and gourmets with its delightful towns, stylish boutiques and magnificent landscape, much of it covered by a tapestry of vines. On our most recent trip, we discovered three new properties and several excellent wineries and restaurants. On this customizable road trip, you can easily opt to spend a few days in San Francisco, which lies about a 90-minute drive from the Napa and Sonoma valleys.
Our excursion through the High Country, in the westernmost part of North Carolina, included winery visits, pottery studio tours, memorable hotel stays and more. This area is beautiful to visit year-round; it is a place to slow down and relax amid the magnificent backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains. A leisurely drive through this area, with its scenic pastoral landscapes, hazy mountains, lush woodlands, seasonal floras, small charming towns and exceptional local artisans shops, is a great way to soak in the grandeur of the highlands and feel connected to the land and the history of the state.
About 75 miles east of Manhattan, far beyond the sprawl of the New York suburbs, Long Island splits into two, creating a “fishtail” on either side of Great Peconic Bay. The North Fork and the South Fork (jointly referred to as the East End) have evolved very distinctly. Historically, the South Fork has been more popular — especially on July and August weekends. Yet the qualities that originally attracted people to this area can still be found: At times the light is almost transcendent; the local produce remains among the finest in the United States; and there is now a successful and growing aquaculture of oysters. The beaches have fine, whitish sand, and the sapphire-blue water is clean and invigorating.
Know before you go: Get the latest on reopenings on Long Island.
When most people think of great American wine regions, California Wine Country usually tops the list. But one of the loveliest areas for wine hides in the east is Virginia, where world-class wineries ply their craft in a rolling landscape rich in colonial history. Our editor-in-chief visited a few years ago and said he had a splendid time winding his way through this delightful landscape, alternating stops at famous homes with tastings at notable wineries. He reports that Bordeaux varieties do particularly well here, and Virginia Viognier has also acquired quite a reputation.
Know before you go: Learn more about reopenings in Virginia.
Vermont is a land of small towns, many of them the embodiment of an idealized New England. Everywhere we journeyed on our drive through the state, we saw evidence of robust industry and ingenuity — those hallmarks of Yankee culture — in the surprising number of craft shops, artist studios, galleries, artisanal cheese producers, stylish restaurants and furniture makers we came across. Vermont also has a varied topography that includes pastoral vistas, forested hills and mountain slopes offering the East’s best skiing.
Know before you go: Get up-to-date information on Vermont’s reopening.
The Southwestern states of Arizona, Utah and Nevada contain some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet, and the best way to see it is still by car. Indeed, a driving tour of the Southwest is perhaps the classic American road trip. This itinerary begins in Phoenix, heads north into southern Utah and ends in Las Vegas, with stops at the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park. The trip includes stays at new hideaway hotels as well as some old favorites.
New York City is a teeming metropolis, but it is also a gateway to the tranquil Hudson River Valley, with orchards, vineyards, fine restaurants and stately homes that have afforded escape to some of the great names in American history, including Rockefeller, Vanderbilt and Roosevelt. There are several delightful hotels that offer comfort and hospitality, if not always the last word in luxury.
Know before you go: Get the latest information on New York’s reopening.
Encompassing the best of Santa Fe and northern New Mexico’s high desert, this itinerary includes historic pueblo tours, spa treatments, fine dining, hospitable hotels and sensational ranch retreats. Begin the trip by exploring Santa Fe for a few days, then drive to Taos via Chimayó, where weaving shops take center stage. After touring the many art galleries of Taos, experience what will likely be the highlight of the trip: three days at Ted Turner’s Vermejo Park Ranch.
Know before you go: Check these guidelines for travel in New Mexico.
This Boston and Cape Cod itinerary delivers the best of both worlds: the rich, complex history of a big city and laid-back coastal living with breathtaking beaches and wetlands. In Boston you can stroll across the central area in about an hour, and whether you saunter through gracious Beacon Hill or the stately boulevards of Back Bay, the dimensions of the city often seem more European than American. Meanwhile beautiful beaches and quaint towns await in Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.
This weeklong itinerary encompasses the best of Santa Barbara County, both the city’s downtown and the thriving wine country northwest of it. For those who can’t decide whether they want a beach vacation, a big-city trip, a gastronomic excursion or a wine-country getaway, this circuit contains a little of each.
Know before you go: Get the latest information on Santa Barbara’s reopening.
U.S. Highway 101 runs 363 miles through Oregon, from the south bank of the Columbia River to the California border, mostly hugging the Pacific coast. You could drive it in a day, but that would be missing the point. The route offers glorious views of the Pacific around nearly every bend; dozens of state parks with broad, sandy beaches and rugged headlands; and small towns with galleries, curiosity shops and waterfront diners that serve wonderful fresh-caught seafood. And then, of course, there’s the wine country, where Pinot Noir is king.
Know before you go: Get the latest travel alerts on Oregon’s reopening.