With the snow melting and a warm, refreshing breeze blowing in, it’s hard to want to be inside. As trees and flowers bloom, the temptation to jump in the car, roll down the windows and open the sunroof takes over — but where to go? Here’s a quick guide to the best springtime driving route in each region of the U.S., so you can hit the road on the next sunny spring afternoon.
One of our nation’s most iconic springtime sights is the Potomac River in Washington D.C. when it’s alive with cherry blossoms. This 25-mile route spans from Great Falls, VA through D.C. and ends at Mount Vernon, treating travelers to a brilliant floral display of cherry tree blossoms and Virginia bluebells with our nation’s capital as the backdrop.
Lake Shore Drive
Winters in the greater Chicago area can be downright brutal, which makes the Windy City’s Lake Shore Drive an absolute must for Midwesterners once the snow melts. This 18-mile road runs along the edge of Lake Michigan and gives viewers an incredible contrast between the tulips and bright blue lake water and one of the nation’s tallest cities.
Bighorn Scenic Byway
For nature buffs, it doesn’t get more colossal than Wyoming’s Bighorn Scenic Byway. Starting in Shell, WY, you’ll drive through Bighorn National Forest, where you’ll be greeted by wildflowers and Shell Falls, which has carved its way into the granite mountainside in some of the area’s most spectacular timberline scenery.
Southern California isn’t famous for its frigid winters, but the Ortega Highway will treat you to amazing terrain and thrilling driving along the winding San Juan Creek. Starting in historic Mission Viejo, the “Awesome 74” (California State Route 74) will transport you through Cleveland National Forest to Lake Elsinore’s 1,500-foot-high Lookout Point.
Texas Hill Country Bluebonnet Tour
As part of her first lady initiative to beautify American cities, Lady Bird Johnson commissioned the planting of wildflowers throughout her home state of Texas. Spanning from Austin along U.S. 290 West and U.S. 281 into Burnet, the Texas Hill Country Bluebonnet Tour is a Lonestar State favorite in the spring, as the wildflowers hit their peak bloom.
Louisiana Great River Road
It’s hard to find something more ironically southern than the Civil War-era plantation houses from Baton Rouge to New Orleans along the Louisiana Great River Road. This 70-mile span of road follows the Mississippi River with moss-draped oak trees all the way to The Big Easy, where travelers can check out the French Quarter and take in the culture that makes New Orleans world famous.
Acadia All American Road
New England is known for its rolling mountains, rocky coastline and the 40 miles known as the Acadia All American Road — one of Maine’s treasures. Stretching between the coast and Acadia National Park, The All American Road is a great place to spot springtime nesting areas for bald eagles and peregrine falcons. Along the way, you can stop in quaint New England towns for ice cream or lunch before heading to Cadillac Mountain for a breathtaking 1,532-foot view of the Atlantic Ocean.
Whether or not the region you live in has cold winters, spring is an amazing time to get in the car and catch sight of nature in bloom.
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Image courtesy of Flickr.
Erich Reichert has been an editor and on-air personality in the radio control car hobby for 12 years. A certified car nut since birth, he has written for internationally published titles such as RC Car Action, RC Driver and Xtreme RC Cars, as well as Stuff Magazine, Road and Track and Super Street. He's covered everything from product reviews and tech articles to high-profile lifestyle pieces and celebrity interviews. Erich found his passion for writing after a successful career as an art director, working with brands such as Pepsico, NASCAR, MTV, Nintendo, WWE, Cannondale Bicycles and HBO. He's also a father, an avid hockey fan and an FIA race license holder who enjoys hiking, playing drums and movies.