When the sun is shining, the air is warm, and the beaches are open, there's no better time to hit the road for a summer road trip. Whether you want to explore the wilderness or lounge on the sand, check out the top 10 best summer road trip ideas to get inspiration for your next adventure.
1. Take in the coastal sights in Portland
Boasting the charm of an old fishing village, the city of Portland, Maine, is one of the best road trip destinations in the summer months. It's home to Old Port, a waterfront area with working fishing wharves and restaurants, and the West End, a beautiful area that features the Victoria Mansion museum. You could also visit the Portland Museum of Art, which is home to masterpieces of local and global artwork.
2. Visit the tropics in the Florida Keys
The Florida Keys are a string of tropical islands off the southern coast of Florida. Nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, the Keys are a popular spot for sunbathing, swimming, boating, fishing, scuba diving, and snorkeling. When the sun goes down, the cities come alive with thrilling clubs and nightlife by the water.
3. Enjoy the sun and surf with a Jersey Shore road trip
The Jersey Shore coastal region offers miles and miles of oceanfront beaches, boardwalks, and resort areas for all types of travelers. On your summer road trip, you can stop at all of the shore's top spots, including the exciting Atlantic City and its casinos, Ocean City and its legendary boardwalk, and Wildwood and its famed amusement park. These spots also offer beautiful beaches for fun in the sun.
4. Stop at Wells Beach on your family road trip
Nestled between Kennebunkport and Ogunquit, Wells Beach in Maine boasts picturesque beaches, calm waters, and a laid-back atmosphere that's great for a quiet break on your road trip. The kids will love being able to swim and play on the family-friendly beaches while you relax, and there's no shortage of excellent dining and shopping in the area.
5. Take a road trip in the wilderness in White Mountain National Forest
Located in eastern New Hampshire and western Maine, the White Mountain National Forest is a beautiful nature escape with hardwood forest and alpine peaks. During your road trip, you can spend a day exploring trails and enjoying local wildlife, or you can take time to hike the deep trails and visit historic sites like the Russell-Colbath House. If you prefer driving, take the Kancamagus Scenic Byway to enjoy the scenery.
6. Table Rock Lake offers road trip adventures
Table Rock Lake is an artificial lake in the Ozarks of Arkansas. The lake is a renowned destination for summer fun, camping, and outdoor adventures such as hiking, boating, water skiing, and fishing. Table Rock Lake also has Marvel Cave, a unique cave formation that you can explore, and the Butterfly Palace & Rainforest Adventure, a kid-friendly attraction with a butterfly aviary.
7. Get your party on in Ocean City
One of the top destinations for summer fun on the East Coast, Ocean City, Maryland, is a must-visit on your road trip. With its iconic boardwalk, pristine beaches, seaside amusements, and delicious restaurants, there's something for everyone in Ocean City. You can party it up on the boardwalk or at inland bars, or enjoy time with the family on the serene beaches. It's all available in one place.
8. Enjoy seaside delight on Hilton Head Island
Located in the Lowcountry region of South Carolina, Hilton Head Island boasts beautiful Atlantic beaches, immaculate golf courses, and plenty of exciting attractions. You can visit the Harbour Town Lighthouse and Museum, the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge, and the Coastal Discovery Museum, which features themed gardens and heritage sites. There's an array of wildlife to excite the kids, such as deer, alligators, and birds.
9. Explore the wonders of Cape May County
Cape May County in New Jersey is one of the best summer road trip options. Surrounded by Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, Cape May County is filled with seaside resorts on islands and endless beaches for sun, sand, and water sports. You could spend your time enjoying the Victorian splendor of Cape May, or travel to nearby Sea Isle City or Stone Harbor to lounge on the beach and dine on delicious, fresh seafood.
10. Take in the view of the Gulf on South Padre Island
The resort town of South Padre Island in Texas is a wonderful summer destination with beaches and fun on the Gulf of Mexico. It's home to many wildlife attractions, such as Sea Turtle, Inc., a rescue and rehabilitation center for turtles, and the South Padre Island Dolphin Research & Sealife Nature Center, which has touch tanks and boat tours to see the marine creatures.