End-of-Summer Roadtrip Destinations and Essentials

Our Cliff Notes guide to getting away for the last hurrah!

*by MacKenzie Ryan 


It’s the end of Summer, and everyone needs to get away. If it's too hot, busy, crowded in your current spot to stand it any longer, you've earned a break! What's more freeing than roadtrip?!

Church and State Optics™ outlines 5 roadtrip destinations and offers up some very necessary gear and iPhone travel essentials:

The Classic Kerouac People have been going cross-country since Lewis and Clark. Pioneers did it, Mormons did it, the Beatniks and the Hippies did it. If you haven't braved the wide expanse of the Midwest, tackled the Rocky Mountains, or the salt flats of Utah and Nevada for a glimpse at the great, blue Pacific, you haven't lived the original Great American Roadtrip.

Cali Coast Highway 1 was meant for windows down, big sunglasses and hair blowing in the wind. If you don't drive a convertible or a motorcycle, this is the trip to rent one. The California shoreline-tracing highway system begins in Orange County and, after 655 miles of craggy coasts and crashing waves, ends in the countryside of Nor Cal's Mendocino County…just in time to turn inland for a wine country weekend.

Rocky Mountain Majesty You could spend a year road-tripping Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and Montana, respectively. But summertime is short-lived in this area of the country…snowbanks are taller than your car until mid-June. Once it all melts away, rivers rage, elk herds migrate, bears catch fish, and you can access some of the world's most rugged terrain via Rocky Mountain National Park, Yellowstone and Glacier National Park.

Humidity is Good for Your Hair Great Smoky Mountains National Park, tucked away on the North Carolina-Tennessee border, is one of the South's most gorgeous hidden gems. Old-growth forests, serpentine country roads, meandering rivers and Southern hospitality makes it a must-see with sweet tea. Tack on a lunch in Charleston, dinner in Savannah, then head down the Florida coast to finish out in the relaxing Keys, a la Hemingway.

East. Coast. Is. Intense. Trips along the Atlantic are tough. The people are tough, the sun is tough, the traffic is tough. A sizeable percentage of the world's population lives between DC and Boston & everyone's fighting for a spot on the beach. New Yorkers go to the Hamptons, Fire Island or Jersey. Bostonians go to the Cape or Southern Maine. People from Philly and Baltimore go to Ocean City while DC invades Virginia Beach. You can avoid crowds by a.) going interior to lake-filled regions in New York and Maine, b.) going to state parks that are fee-based instead of free (read cleaner beaches), c.) going farther south or farther north up the coast, d.) houseboats, sailboats and the like are a good idea because you can always get up and go someplace else if the crowds get too close.


Free Apps to Trip On:

 Waze (www.waze.com)

Navigation information with real time traffic updates, road closures, and the quickest routes to the gas station. Enough said.  

GasBuddy (www.gasbuddy.com)

With fuel soaring towards $4 a gallon, this may the most valuable app on the market. Find the lowest price gas wherever you find yourself on the road.

Hotels.com (www.hotels.com)

So all those rooms hotels need to sell last minute for super-cheap? Well, that's not a travel writer’s myth. It's a reality. And you can book that reality in about 30 seconds with this app. A true lifesaver!

Recreation.gov (www.recreation.gov)

Find campsites with an iPhone app…very 21st century. Now, if only the national parks system could have a phone app where you can book campsites ahead of time.

CampersList (campinglistapp.com)

Do an inventory of your camping equipment, load it on to this mobile gear list, and then cross-reference to figure out what you need. Not forgetting means being warm, eating well, and your vacation running smoothly. 


Gear Essentials List:

Cargo boxes are a must if you have a lot of gear, and an absolute must if you have a small car and a lot of gear. Thule and Yakima make some massive boxes, ranging in price from $400 to $800. Rackattack.com and Amazon.com have less expensive options. Treat your gear like you would a mudroom in your house, don't store the outdoor stuff inside the car.

Coolers! Get the kind with a door you can open so that when you're stuck on the New Jersey Turnpike and it's 98 degrees with 80 percent humidity, you can open the cooler, get a Dr. Pepper, and not lose your mind. Do it for you and do it for others, prevent low-blood-sugar-induced road rage.

Coleman car camping stoves are about $100, depending on size. Having the option to stop and grill-out en route is worth much, much more. If you've ever road-tripped before, you know there are days the drive-through food is grossly unappealing, and you are in the middle of nowhere between destinations. Insert campsite and car camping stove combo here. 

And we can't forget the accessories. Oversized frames or aviator lenses from Church and State Optics, a cute short-brimmed hat for road-trip hair, & your favorite cozy zip-up for a comfortable adventure!


*MacKenzie Ryan is a freelance journalist whose writing experience is based in the outdoor, adventure, and action sports arena. Her works have been published in BackpackerWomen’s Adventure MagazineBicyclingThe Denver Post, and Mountain Bike. Follow more of her adventures at http://mackenzieryan.tumblr.com/