Top Summer Road Trips
It is summer- the season of road trips! One of the greatest of vacation pastimes! Road trips are fun and exhilarating. They can be a time for bonding and the greatest adventure of a lifetime. There are some fantastic movies that are made about road trips – some of the most iconic like the classic films, “It Happened One Night,” “It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World,” and “Easy Rider” and the more contemporary, but still classic, “Thelma and Louise,” “Motorcycle Diaries,” and “National Lampoon’s Vacation.”
While your road trip may not meet the excitement level of these Hollywood scripts, it can still be amazing and interspersed with a combination of scenery, drama, and classic moments that are 100% film worthy. We, at Falconi Moon Town Automotive love a good road trip – and we look forward to hearing about yours.
To get you on your way, we picked some of the best road trips out there for you to choose from. The great thing about these is that they are well mapped out, including gas, food and hotel stops and they cover some of the best landscapes and scenic routes you can imagine. This is written with one caveat: we are in Pittsburgh, and so all of these are based in Western, Pennsylvania.
Pittsburgh to Washington, DC
This is one of the most fun and most educational driving vacations that you can take. There are multiple alternative routes to get there, and once you are in place, you will want to park your car and be on foot or in an Uber/Lyft/ or Cab. But the getting there is amazing. Take it from Trippy, which calls this one of the best and lays out a sample itinerary for the drive (keep in mind there are many, many alternative sites to visit along the way including Hershey and Gettysburg):
- 10:00 am start in Pittsburgh
- drive for about 1 hour
- 11:02 am Fallingwater stay for about 1 hour and leave at 12:02 pm
- drive for about 1.5 hours
- 1:29 pm Breezewood stay for about 1 hour and leave at 2:29 pm
- drive for about 1 hour
- 3:32 pm domestic restaurant stay for about 1 hour and leave at 4:32 pm
- drive for about 60 minutes
- 5:32 pm Great Falls National Park stay for about 1 hour and leave at 6:32 pm
- drive for about 23 minutes
- 6:54 pm arrive in Washington, DC
- Eat at the National Gallery of Art
Another alternative route can take you through Berkeley Springs, Shepherdstown, and Harper’s Ferry – all beautiful historical sites with very interesting local attractions – on the way to Washington, DC.
The short route, by simply taking the PA Turnpike, or the Interstate, will take less than 4 hours without rush hour traffic or an accident, if all you do is stop for gas and restroom breaks. But what’s the fun and beauty in that?
Pittsburgh to Niagara Falls
The Pittsburgh City Paper summed up this amazing trip that is the same relative driving time as Pittsburgh to Washington, DC: Niagara Falls (just about 4 hours without traffic or accidents – stops not included):
Located on the Niagara River, Niagara Falls is actually made up of three different falls that spread into both the U.S. and Canada. And, even though leaving the country sounds fancy, the trip can be affordable since staring at nature is free. Walking along the top of the falls offers a great view and a light misting. Every night, the three waterfalls are illuminated by colorful lights that look not unlike rainbow sherbet. Depending on the schedule, there might even be fireworks.
Those are just the basics for seeing the falls, which are certainly breathtaking, but if you really want the breath robbed from your lungs, then there are plenty of fancier ways to see inside, outside, and behind the falls. There are cruises that go right by the base, heavily misting passengers. Presumably, the boat captain will also be open to impromptu boat marriages, like when Jim and Pam on The Office ditched their real wedding. There are helicopters that fly over the falls, in case a peasant’s eye level view isn’t enough. There are even ziplines that soar over the water, which is definitely very cool and not scary.
In the surrounding areas, there are plenty of activities that don’t involve wearing a protective poncho. The nearby Dufferin Islands include 10 acres of secluded land with trails and bird-feeding stations. The Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens (which are free) are also located nearby and include a butterfly conservatory and a massive clock made of flowers. After a day of traipsing around… get a relaxing, and possibly terrifying, night’s sleep at one of the several hotels that have rooms overlooking the falls, watching other fools on the zipline. If you don’t want to tuck in early, there are plenty of nighttime activities, like three different escape rooms, three wax museums, a haunted house, a fun house, and something called an Upside Down House, which is exactly what it sounds like.
We have so far sent you East and North. We are wrapping this up with a great road trip South! This one is a little bit longer, but takes you through some of the most amazing East Coast Scenery you can imagine and travels through two National Parks as well as one of the most iconic drives (also managed by the US National Park Service), the Blue Ridge Parkway.
From Pittsburgh, the drive to the Shenandoah National Park is about the same as the drive to our other destinations. But here is where the similarities end. Instead of stopping there as the destination, it is a drive through, over, across, and back around. You will want a solid week for this but it will leave you stunned and longing to get back On Those Country Roads, John Denver style. Don’t take a long-dead Americana Music icon’s word for it though, take Road Trippers;
The Blue Ridge Parkway isn’t technically a National Park, but it might as well be. It connects two National Parks (Shenandoah and the Great Smoky Mountains) together and the parkway itself is the most visited unit controlled by the National Parks System. Each year, more people drive along its roads than visit the Grand Canyon. True fact. People flock to it with good reason, though…it’s pretty gorgeous.
We could go on and on, as there are endless highways leading out of Pittsburgh that can satisfy every part of our adventurous spirit, but we want to leave some of the discovery to you.