Planning a road trip? Exploring a new part of the USA? Here we present 12 blogs to help you enjoy a visit to a new area – local knowledge, insider tips and best-kept-secret hangouts. What better way to be sure you make the most of your voyage of discovery than getting advice from a local.
Here you’ll be driving the highways of Washington and Oregon, but also parts of California, Idaho and Alaska too. The region, sometimes called Cascadia, has the Pacific to the West and the Cascade Mountains to the East. It’s a verdant region dominated by rugged coastline, snow-capped mountains and thick forests. Think wine, whales, and waterproofs for when you go hiking in the great outdoors.
Visiting Seattle? Take a trip to nearby Vashon Island says Adria, the blogger behind The Emerald Palate. “It’s only a 20-minute ferry ride from Seattle and … it’s full of artsy, creative people who take pride in farming and artisanal craftsmanship!” You’ll also love farm-to-table restaurant Bramble House – chef Lia Lira’s raviolo is exquisite.
Done eating? Take a stroll around Point Robinson Lighthouse: “You’ll find a beach with driftwood that wraps around the curve of the island, often teaming with seagulls fishing.” You’ll love Adria’s pics of the place. A techie by day, Adria loves hunting for the best events, local shops, hidden eats, and unique getaways in the PNW. Fancy an insider’s culinary guide to Seattle? Check out Adria’s self-guided tours – a great way to get off the tourist trail.
Close to the seaside town of Westport, Washington, the Twin Harbors State Park is a great place to rent a cabin for a couple of days, say local outdoor enthusiasts Brandon and Stacy, the bloggers behind Pacific North Wanderers. A wonderful spot from which to explore the wild Pacific Coast, if you’re into hiking and biking, you’ll be in heaven. For those who prefer a more sedate pace, a visit to the town of Westport is a must.
A visit to the waterfront could well yield the sight of sea lions sunbathing at the Westport Marina, while for those with a taste for history, the Greys Harbor Lighthouse and Westport Maritime Museum are a must. The best way to round off a long hike? Brandon and Stacy recommend grabbing a bite to eat at local microbrewery and restaurant, Blackbeard’s Brewing Co.
Join local travel blogger “Explorer Sue” as she gives you five darn good reasons to visit the PNW – like the opportunity to experience both rainforest and desert in the same state. Checkout the Hoh Rainforest in Washington’s Olympic National Park, before heading east to the Yakima Valley and the Columbia River Plateau where “the desert holds its own special beauty, with rare plants, flowers, and other wildlife.”
Visiting Portland, Oregon? Sue says the nightlife rivals that of legendary Seattle: “Not a night goes by that there isn’t someone playing somewhere – any night of the year. For a complete calendar of live music in Portland, GO HERE.”
“Flanked by megacities New York City and Chicago, landscaped with dune-backed beaches, smoky mountains and gator swamps, and steeped in musical roots, the East rolls out a sweet trip.” Lonely Planet
A land of ghosts, legends and mysteries, New England is well worth a visit for its rich folklore alone. Join Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger as they hike to Crawford Notch, New Hampshire in search of The Hermit of the White Mountains: English Jack. “In the late 1800s, this enterprising man lived in a shack in the woods selling postcards, his biography, trinkets, and even beer.”
A PBS podcast and broadcast, Our New England Legends follows four charismatic guys as they “explore the great stories from the fringe throughout Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.” It’s fun, it’s folksy, and it’s a must for anyone road tripping in New England.
The best place to relax in New England? Nantucket Island, say bloggers Frank and Cathy of Nothing But New England. They describe themselves as “outdoor loving, curious souls always on the lookout for fun things to be seen and experienced in what we call our ‘backyard’… New England.” Why do they recommend Nantucket? The boat ride out there, the beaches, the relaxed vibe, and much more.
New England is famous for the splendor of its fall display, but there’s another natural show that’s well worth a road trip…the cranberry bogs. Cathy says “I was blown away by the quantity of cranberries. The shades of red floating in the water at harvest time is truly an incredible sight.” If you’re heading east, this is the blog to bookmark.
“Landscapes and legends draw adventurers to the West, where a good day includes locavore dining, vineyard wine-sipping, wildlife-watching, Native American history and outdoor adventure.” Lonely Planet
Road tripping through Long Beach California? Check out Hilltop Park in Signal Hill to the north of the city, says Josh, the blogger and photographer behind California Through My Lens. With “360-degree views of the surrounding area with a vantage point that lets you look down on the city of Long Beach, San Pedro and even over into Torrance, it’s a great stop when in the city, especially for sunset.”
A self-confessed travel junkie, albeit restricted to the state of California, Josh offers visitors the best of the state’s many natural and man-made attractions. For a historic site and the opportunity for some wild swimming, Yankee Jim’s bridge in Colfax is a must. The dramatic 90-year-old suspension bridge has a great swimming hole beneath – the perfect spot to refresh by the roadside.
Wonderful for a date, day out, or stopping off point on your road trip, with its “games, sweets, rides, or just good old-fashioned people watching” opportunities, Santa Monica Pier is surely a must. And with its waterfront location and “thriving, pulsing crowds and energy” it’s quite literally the coolest place to be on a hot day.
Sign up for We Like L.A.’s newsletters and you’ll receive up to the minute info on what to do and see in the City of Angels. A great resource for road trippers who love to be spontaneous, We Like L.A. is Brian and Christina’s brainchild. They say: “We distill the best of everything that we encounter so that others can benefit and make their L.A. experience just a little more memorable.” This week it’s Moonlight Movies on the beach…
“The South falls from the granite, forested fists of Kentucky and Tennessee into craggy hill country and thick woods. This rugged landscape slowly changes as the waters of its rivers – including North America’s greatest, the Mississippi – saturate the land into boggy, black-water blankets and sun-seared marsh, all thinning into the salty membrane of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.” Lonely Planet
“From downtown Natchitoches, take the winding Highway 494 out the east side of town into the rural countryside. 116,000 acres surrounding Natchitoches make up the Cane River National Heritage Area, which includes several state historic sites, national historic landmarks and the Cane River Creole National Historical Park.”
Road tripping with the kids in tow? There’s so much family fun to be had in Louisiana say Getting Lost in Louisiana writer Kristy and her photographer husband Paul Christiansen. They loved this trip which included a visit to Oakland Plantation where friendly rangers swore their two and four-year-olds in as honorary rangers, before touring the site and explaining all about the lives of the owners and African Americans, and Cane River Creoles who once lived and worked there.
Should you happen to be driving through Tuscaloosa (Alabama), The Houndstooth Sports Bar is the best place to enjoy SEC football, says Paul Stanley, the gentleman behind One Southern Man. You’ll also find his recommendations for Baton Rouge (LSU), Lexington (Kentucky), Knoxville (Tennessee), and everywhere else in the conference. A fabulous insider’s guide – what better way to get a taste of Southern life than by joining the locals to enjoy a game?
Here’s all you ever wanted to know about the Southern lifestyle – from how to deep fry your Thanksgiving turkey, Southern style, to the best microbreweries in the South, and how to wear that icon of Southern menswear – seersucker. If you’re visiting the Southern states, One Southern Man is essential reading.
With only a few US rivers running from north to south, a backroads adventure along the St. Johns River is a must for road trippers visiting the sunshine state of Florida. Begin in the “swampy area 10 miles southwest of Melbourne, Florida known as Lake Hell ‘n Blazes”, and finish in Sanford which is 22 miles north of Orlando on Lake Monroe.
Thanks to Mike of Florida Backroads Travel, you’ll get a route map, plus insider info on all the small towns lining your route. An expert on “Old Florida,” Mike is an amazing resource for road trippers. Anyone into history? Read Mike’s guide to the past, present, and future of the Florida Everglades – from the Seminole wars to the biggest land purchase by a single person in human history. It’s fascinating stuff.
Known as “America’s Heartland,” the Midwest includes states into the north and middle of the United States, including parts of The Great Lakes. Here you’ll find both urban and rural culture – from the Chicago blues to the plains of Kansas and beyond, the Midwest is an under-rated road trip, but one you’ll be glad you took.
Lost since she – presumably – ditched in the South Pacific in 1937, you might be interested to see the town from which pioneering aviator, Amelia Earhart took off – her childhood home of Atchison, Kansas. There you’ll find not only her family home open to the public, but also a charming Amelia Earhart museum where the prime exhibit is “Muriel”, the last remaining Lockheed 15 10E. Named for Amelia’s sister, it’s the same model as the one in which the famous pilot flew.
If you’re visiting the Midwest, The Walking Tourists is a must. The brainchild of award-winning journalist, Tim Trudell, this site gives you the lowdown on everywhere from the Badlands of South Dakota, to the “water, food, history and, of course, cheese [that] awaits you in Kenosha, Wisconsin” – and everywhere in-between. A great resource to help you make the most of the Midwest.
If you like a hearty breakfast to set you up for a day on the road, you can’t beat The Coffee Pot in Kenosha, Wisconsin. In fact, dropping by at the locals’ favorite diners is one of the best things about road tripping. Husband and wife bloggers, Jeff and Crystal of Our Changing Lives loved this old-school diner, and with home baked bread on the menu, the food was substantial and delicious.
“Our itineraries are designed to get us off the interstates, and into the heart of the places we visit,” say Jeff and Crystal. After the empty nest syndrome gave them itchy feet, they set off on their travels and have never looked back. And now, thanks to their love of the unique, they bring you travelogues galore to inspire your own inner traveller. Road Tripping the Midwest? Don’t get in your car before checking out this site.
A road trip is such a great way to see the country, and with these blogs, we hope you’ll get an authentic slice of US life wherever you roam. Did we miss your favorite website or blog? Leave us a comment below and we’ll take a look.