Although a hardy few will venture out on winter road trips, braving the chilly temperatures to see the country as few others do, most will take advantage of the colder months to enjoy some home comforts before the warmth of spring returns. By the time Easter rolls around however, springtime adventures are well and truly on the agenda. Not only is the weather warmer, but the land has also come out of its dreary hibernation with an explosion of color and growth. This is the perfect time for a road trip - the intense heat and thronging crowds of summer are still months away, flowers are in spectacular bloom and new greenery is bursting up everywhere. The only question that remains is: where will you go? We have a few suggestions:
The Pacific Northwest Coast: Portland to San Francisco
You’ll need to set aside a decent chunk of time for this trip, but any time investment will be handsomely rewarded with some of the most stunning sights that the United States has to offer.
Before you pick up your Portland car rental
and head south, take a little time to explore the beautiful city of Portland. Consistently lauded as one of the greenest cities in America, Portland is also known for its boutique breweries, artisanal goods and vibrant music scene.
Most of your trip won’t be through cities however, but along the coast with numerous national forests on your left and the glittering expanse of the Pacific Ocean on your right. Don’t forget to take the time to see for yourself some of the tallest living things on the planet: the magnificent redwood trees. You’ll pass through Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park on your way south (a little after Crescent City
) and just before San Francisco
you can explore Muir Woods, a redwood forest with plenty of well maintained and easily accessible tracks.
As an added bonus, after experiencing the natural beauty of the Oregon/California coast you get to end up in one of the most exciting cities on earth - San Francisco. Famous for its cutting edge culture, tech innovations and delicious food (seriously, try a mission burrito before you leave) this is the perfect way to end a spring road trip.
Washington DC to Knoxville via Blue Ridge Parkway
As gorgeous as the Pacific Northwest is around Easter, it’s hard to rival the new spring growth to be found in and around DC and the Virginia’s legendary Blue Ridge Parkway.
If you haven’t had the chance to explore the nation’s capital city before, definitely schedule some time to visit the monuments and museums to gain a unique insight into America’s history before picking up your Washington DC car rental
and striking out for the Parkway. Mid-April is also the perfect time to see more than 3,000 cherry blossom trees in full bloom - there is truly no better time to visit DC than springtime.
Once you’ve had your fill of monuments and cherry trees, make for Charlottesville
, Virginia. This is another place where historic sights and spring delights combine to make an Easter visit all the more appealing. Charlottesville was home to Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, and Monticello, Jefferson’s primary plantation located on the summit of an 850-foot peak in the Southwest Mountains, is a must-see attraction while you’re in the area. Whether or not you take a tour inside Monticello itself, seeing its grounds and gardens in full springtime glory is essential.
From Charlottesville it’s only a half hour drive to the north entrance of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Famed for its scenic beauty, the Parkway is best experienced in spring or autumn - and although the dying leaves of autumn bring an intense color palette to the surrounding landscape, weather conditions can be a little unreliable. Spring, on the other hand, brings the bright green of freshly budding trees and blooming shrubs along with temperatures that tend to get a little warmer every day.
When you’ve finally wound your way to the end of the Blue Ridge Parkway, you’re only a 2 and a half hour journey over the Great Smoky Mountains to your final destination: Knoxville
, Tennessee. This haven of bluegrass and country music is also home to many art festivals, so be sure to check what’s on before embarking on your journey.
Texas Hill Country: Austin Return Loop
Texas weather can be brutal at the extreme ends of the year - swelteringly hot in the summer and bone-chillingly cold in the winter - but those heading south for an Easter vacation will soon discover that a Texas springtime is much kinder to travelers. This bucolic country comes into its own with the onset of mild weather, and heading south and west from Austin will treat you to a side of Texas that most out of state visitors won’t even be aware of.
Most start their exploration of the Texas Hill Country by heading south from Austin. While some may choose to take advantage of the attractions of the city itself, the true springtime beauty of Texas lies outside of the big cities, so we’d suggest picking up your Austin car rental
and striking out along I-35. As you get closer to New Braunfels, you’ll find yourself in the middle of wine country. Once you have sorted out who’s going to be sober driver, taking a tour of the local vineyards and cellar doors is an essential part of the Hill Country experience.
Whether or not you choose to stay in San Antonio
or merely make a quick stop is up to you, but it would be shame to bypass it altogether. The city’s top attraction is of course the Alamo, where frontier legends like Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett made a desperate last stand against a vastly superior fighting force. If you’re bringing the family along, don’t leave San Antonio without a visit to at least one theme park - San Antonio is home to SeaWorld and Six Flags, in addition to a number of less well known parks.
Texas might be a strange place to go for a taste of German culture, but that’s exactly what you’ll find in Fredericksburg. Among the first Europeans to settle in the area were German immigrants, and this town is one of the few places that still reflects this Teutonic heritage. Texas German speakers account for more that 12% of the population, and it won’t take you long to discover eateries serving traditional German cuisine like smoked pork chops and sauerkraut.
From Fredericksburg it’s a mere hour and a half journey back to Austin where your journey began.
Although each of these three road trip routes are sterling examples of Easter adventures for intrepid travelers, they merely scratch the surface of potential epic road trips when you set out on the expansive highways of America