7 U.S. Road Trip Trails Made for Couples

When people talk road trips, it’s either for twenty-somethings in broken-down VWs or families packed into vans with Finding Nemo on the DVD player. Contrary to everyone else’s expectations, your road trip does not have to be like that if you don’t want it to. 

Whether you’re testing what 16 hours in a car does to your new relationship, or celebrating a trip with someone you’ve known for a long, long time, here’s where to road trip as a couple:  

View from Bear Tooth Pass Mountain Highway [Red Lodge, Montana]

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The Beartooth Highway, Mont. | The Beartooth Highway is for summers only, but if you’d rather see Montana blanketed with snow, never fear. This highway could easily surprise you with some summer snow. As the name suggests, the Beartooth Highway takes visitors over craggy mountain passes as rough and as wild as the inside of a bear’s mouth. This is not the highway to take if you can’t stand your S.O.’s driving habits. 

If you both are pretty chilled out behind the wheel, the Beartooth Highway enchants. You’ll see pristine mountain lakes, white bearded mountain goats, whistling marmots and maybe even a bear. Hiking and viewpoint pullouts abound and once you get to the end of the highway, you’re in Yellowstone National Park. The end is merely the beginning for adventure-minded couples of all ages.  

Beautiful autumn foliage along Route 100 [Vermont]

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Vermont Route 100, Vt. | Vermont’s favorite foliage route is lovely at all times of year, but summer and fall are probably the best times to be on the road. It’s a slow ride from tip to tail and you may want to book a B&B along the way. 

When you’re not admiring the foliage or strolling around yet another green-shuttered New England town, you can stop for hiking trips, artisan shopping sprees and picturesque covered bridges. Don’t forget to stock up on the Vermont trifecta: real maple syrup, Ben & Jerry’s and cheddar cheese. 

Jekyll Island sunset [Golden Isles, Georgia]

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Golden Isles, Ga. | Georgia’s Golden Isles are a series of barrier islands sewn together by marshes, estuaries and the sea. This place of gentle waves, Spanish moss and long hot afternoons does romance for a living, so it’s a perfect place to reconnect over a long weekend. Summer houses, inns and B&Bs litter the landscape and you’ll find upscale island resorts that have hosted the likes of George H.W. Bush and his wife. 

You’ll never be able to take these coastal roads at a rush, so slow down and enjoy the scenery. Catch a glimpse of a group of white egrets as you take a bridge out over the open water. Detour for afternoon lunches of shrimp and grits and pitchers of sweet tea. If you and your other half enjoy birding, this part of Georgia where the land and sea collide is one of the nation’s premier birding spots. 

San Juan Mountains [Colorado]

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Million Dollar Highway, Colo. | Once U.S. 550 crosses over the border into Colorado from New Mexico it morphs into a two-lane mountainous route you have to be a bit nuts to drive. This highway does not do guard rails and you can look down directly out the window down into deep Uncompahgre Gorge. 

Even if the terror of the road overwhelms your enjoyment of the area’s immense beauty, there’s no turning back. You’ll pass hot springs, hiking trails and live avalanche chutes on your way. Take the series of switchbacks and hairpin turns up and over Red Mountain Pass for incredible views out into the San Juan Mountains. 

Seward Marina [Seward, Alaska]

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Seward Highway, Alaska | In a land with more waterways and flight paths than roads, the Seward Highway is the ultimate prize. Traveling from the relative civilization in Anchorage you’ll pass glaciers, mountains, waterfalls and forests before you get to Seward and the southeast coast. This All-American Road is best attempted during the summer when the road is passable. 

As you leave Anchorage behind you’ll come to Potter Marsh where you’ll see people either ice skating or birding depending on the time of year. Keep driving and you’ll wind your way between the sea and the cliffs before leaving the coast behind and heading into the Chugach Mountains. If it’s winter, you’ll be skiing. If it’s summer, bring your bear bells and go berrying. Once you come down into Seward, you’ll have worked up an appetite for salmon, halibut and whatever else is on offer. 

Portland Head Light At Sunrise [Portland, Maine]

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U.S. Route 1, Maine | Coastal Maine fills up with families during the summer, so make autumn your time for a couples road trip. Sure, you won’t want to swim, but the art galleries, quaint towns, delicious seafood and long walks on the beach will still be there. 

Listen to the quiet bobbing of lobster buoys on a foggy morning. Gather shells on the beach during the heat of the day. Take a rainy, but brilliant leaf peeping tour and then return to hot seafood chowder. 

Route 1 goes the length of Maine’s coast and then veers north along the New Brunswick border, so travel for as far as you dare. You’ll go from lighthouses and antique shops to rolling farmland and brilliant colored leaves.  

Pioneer home in Willamette Valley [Woodburn, Oregon]

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Willamette Valley, Ore. | Interstate 5 will not get you into the heart and soul of Oregon’s wine country, but the old highway 99W and its back roads will. Your first stop will be the charming old west town of McMinnville which wins every small town downtown award ever. Antiquing, great food and great wine are to follow. 

Once you are in the Willamette Valley, there are several different routes you can follow. If you and your sweetheart are exercise nuts you can even take the wine route known as Pedaling for Pinot. Whether riding the country roads by bike or by car, you’ll come across beautiful vineyard views, wine tastings and vineyard tours. For those who need a break from the vino, farm stands, beer and cider makers have also taken up shop in this area. Maybe you’d better plan a designated driver.

Need some tunes before you hit the road? Here are 8 Songs that Capture the Spirit of Road Trips

 


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Carmen Fifield

The delight of finding an unknown park, a captivating history museum or a fantastic desert means exploration is never far from Carmen Fifield’s mind. Carmen’s favorite travel memories include biking to historic sites on the island of Guernsey, huffing and puffing up the stairs to the Great Wall of China and eating the most delicious crab cake ever in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Carmen’s Favorite Travel Tip: Say goodbye to airplane food and tuck some fruit and your favorite sandwich into your carry-on.

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