Discover Coastal Dream Towns
The 10 Best Road Trips!
Open the sunroof, crank up the tunes, and hug the curves along these stunning water-view drives.
CAPE BRETON, NOVA SCOTIA (CABOT TRAIL)
Why we love it: Built in 1932 to connect remote fishing villages, the 185-mile Cabot Trail also offers a connection to the past. Cape Breton Highlands National Park provides the scenery; the French Acadian, Scottish, Irish, and First Nations people who live in the towns and own the restaurants and shops provide the traditions and conversation; www.cabottrail.travel.
Please pull over: Shake out the legs two ways: Take a whale watching tour, equipped with a hydrophone so you can hear the sea mammals, oshan.ca; or hike the 2½-mile Middle Head Trail, which leads to the end of a long peninsula and offers sweeping views.
Stay: Keltic Lodge Resort and Spa, rooms from about $113 or a cozy cottage with its own fireplace from about $220; 800/565-0444 or kelticlodge.ca
LA PAZ TO TODOS SANTOS, BAJA
Why we love it: Mexico’s Highway 1 makes a 223-mile loop out of the Sea of Cortez town of La Paz. A slow road trip offers a Baja buffet: the glitz of Cabo San Lucas, the rural West Coast’s farms and surf beaches, and the artistic and cultural gems of Todos Santos.
Please pull over: Visit a Pescadero farmstand for some of the continent’s best organic fruits and veggies.
Stay: In Todos Santos, Hotel California, rooms from $105; todossantosguide.com/hotelcalifornia
CIRCLE ROUTE AND LAKE SUPERIOR
Why we love it: Many dream of tackling the entire 1,111-mile epic, but here’s a long-weekend alternative: Start in Duluth, Minnesota, and head east to get an appreciation for this inland sea. Take U.S. Highway 2 to Wisconsin 13 to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore before moving on to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Please pull over: Let someone else do the piloting on a 55-mile three-hour cruise to explore the Apostle Islands; apostleisland.com
Stay: Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, rooms from $470 per couple (including breakfast and dinner); grandhotel.com
Why we love it: Though only a few hours from Boston, Downeast Maine is worlds away from the hustle. View the broken coastline from a granite dome in Acadia National Park, then follow U.S. 1 to the iconic red-and-white-striped West Quoddy Head Lighthouse. From here it’s just a lot of water between you and Europe.
Please pull over: Rogue Bluffs State Park includes ample beaches and steep bluffs atop Englishman Bay.
Stay: In Bar Harbor: The Bass Cottage Inn, rooms from $185; 866/782-9224 or bass cottage.com
10 SEWARD HIGHWAY, SOUTHERN ALASKA
Why we love it: In the 127 miles between Anchorage and Seward, Alaska’s Highway 1 skirts the waters of Turnagain Arm, climbs to alpine meadows within sight of hanging glaciers, then drops to Seward, gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park and perhaps the ultimate “road” trip―the Alaska Marine Highway, a series of ferries covering more than 8,000 miles.
Please pull over: Portage Valley Road (at milepost 78.9) makes for an unforgettable five-mile detour through a glaciated valley.
Stay: Alyeska Resort in Girdwood, rooms from $149; 800/880-3880 or alyeska resort.com