Now that Memorial Day has come and gone, summer officially begins. And we’re like birds let out of cages—this year more than ever—as we emerge from the bleak days of lockdowns and quarantines, social distancing and self-imposed exile. We’re not advocating anything crazy here, but maybe it’s time to get on the road again?
Last year, on Memorial Day Weekend 2020, only about a third of Americans traveled. That’s 1.5 million folks, and it was an all-time low. Mostly we stayed home. Hunkered down with only immediate family huddled around the grill. This year, with 125 million people fully vaccinated, experts predicted a 60% increase in domestic travel.
Whether it’s the mountains or the beaches that are calling you this summer, it’s time to dust off the suitcases and pile in the car for the Great American Road Trip. A change of scenery can be life changing. And remember it’s not where you’re going that matters—it’s the memories you make along the way.
The Florida Coast
From St. Augustine in the north through Daytona Beach and Fort Lauderdale down to Miami, you can hug the coast and stay on I-95 stopping when it suits you to sightsee or sunbathe. Then take the Florida Turnpike south toward Key West. Follow U.S. 1 as far as it goes. From the Alligator Farm and the Fountain of Youth in Saint Augustine to Hemingway’s house full of six-toed cats in Key West, you can savor and sample the local cuisine and soak up the culture along the way. It’s a classic road trip. Then fly home or head up the eastern coast for the next stage of your adventure.
The High Road to Taos
For a quicker jaunt, consider the scenic byway from Santa Fe to Taos, New Mexico. Visit remote mountain villages like Chimayó known for its award-winning weavers. Continue along NM 76 to Cordova, Truchas and Ojo Sarco for woodcarving, pottery and rugs. In Las Trampas, you’ll find an 18th century mission church, a beautifully preserved example of Spanish Colonial architecture. The winding road through the Sangre de Christo Mountains is an astonishingly gorgeous trip though Native American and early Spanish culture. On the way back, take the Low Road to Santa Fe for incredible views of the Rio Grande.
The Blue Ridge Parkway
Spanning the southern and central Appalachians, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a “ribbon of road” that features the oldest river in North America, the deepest gorge east of the Grand Canyon and the highest waterfall east of the Rockies. The Parkway connects Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. A must-see along the way is Asheville, North Carolina with its vibrant arts scene, hip craft breweries and historic architecture including the iconic Biltmore estate and the charming Grove Park Inn. Breathe in the fresh mountain air and treat yourself to spectacular views and local flavors.
Be safe. Take plenty of hand-sanitizer and mask up when appropriate. But have some fun, ok? And when you get back, Stressless will be waiting for you. Your favorite recliner, sofa or sectional will be beckoning, inviting you to unpack, lean back and destress. Sometimes you have to get away to appreciate coming home.