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Resources for Figuring Out Stuff to Do on the Trip

Some of the resources I’ve used:

  • The, uh, Internet.
  • The Rand McNally Road Atlas and Travel Guide (spiral-bound edition). Shows a lot of parks, campgrounds, monuments, historical sites, etc. that might be right along your scheduled route — and they’re just really, really easy to see in this format.
  • Special-interest magazines. For instance, a recent issue of Backpacker magazine featured their take on the “100 Best Day Hikes” in the US, a number of which sounded really, really good.
  • Roadtripamerica.com. Mostly for the forums. The audience skews toward the not-me (it’s mostly older people or college students) and the forums are generally focused on the ROAD part of the road trip, but there are also plenty of great suggestions available there. Further, if you have questions about a particular location, state, or region, it’s likely that someone on there lives there or has been there recently and can offer some worthwhile suggestions.
  • Reader’s Digest’s Most Scenic Drives in America. Sounds like it ought to be another resource mostly for older travelers, but I’d suggest it’s de rigeur for anyone planning a serious road trip. Heck, it’d be useful for anyone planning just a normal vacation. A lot of fantastic suggestions for things to do along given roadways, in town and out of town. I’m guessing you could have a pretty cool trip flying to a random city, pulling this book out, and then taking the nearest-by suggested drive.
  • TrekEarth.com. This is a website for, essentially, travel photography. You can look up any state in the country and just look at the photos that were taken there. And if they’re pretty enough, schedule a visit to whatever location they’re from.
  • National Parks Service websites. These websites are clearly not maintained centrally and the quality can be hit-or-miss in the sense that you may not necessarily get a good idea about what fun you might actually have at the park or lakeshore or monument or whatever that’s listed. But you might.
  • The AAA Trip-Tik. I’m not really in AAA’s core demo, so I don’t love their suggestions for most places in the trip-tik — but I imagine they’d be pretty good for folks who are more into antiquing and looking at plant-life. Mostly I just joined so that I can feel superior and brilliant next time I lock myself out of my car…

I’ve not had a lot of luck with most US-focused travel books, which often seem like they’re trying to convince me that I’ll enjoy doing something that, in fact, I won’t. Maybe it’s just the focus on restaurants and hotels that bothers me — I like food well enough, but that doesn’t really tell me what I’m going to do with the other 14 hours in the day. Haven’t used any of the “Road Trip USA” travel guidebooks, but Amazon’s hive-mind gives them mixed reviews at best, which makes sense: how can you cover the entire country within 500-1,000 pages in anything more than a superficial, cursory manner?

But I digress. (Not really.) I’ll add more resources at they become apparent.

bkd

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