Road trip guidebooks
Guidebooks (print and web) to the Great American Road Trip
• Print guides
• Online guides
• Maps If you like your road trips in pre-approved segments, several books, magazines, and Web sites detail drives carefully constructed to link fascinating sights and towns along some of the country's most scenic stretches of road.
- Road Trip USA ($29.95, or $19.59 at B&N) - Jamie Jensen's is the most comprehensive road trip guidebook, is broken down into 11 major routes, including Route 66, the Oregon Trail, and the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts. It's available both in book and Internet (www.roadtripusa.com) form.
- Let's Go Roadtripping USA ($24.95, or $19.11 at B&N) - The Harvard students at Let's Go have appropriated a similar formula for their 10,000-plus-page guide, with a nice emphasis on the quirky and fun, but the services listings may be a bit too low-end for some (lots of backpacker hostels and cheap cafeterias).
- Insight Guides: USA On the Road ($23.99, or $18.26 at B&N) - An admirable attempt to cram the whole country into one guide—though I find their more detailed regional offshoot titles a bit more useful.
- Lonely Planet Road Trips (series) - Excellent series of pocket-sized guides to classic American road trips and exploring regions of the USA by car. Some have not been updated in a while (so they're available mostly used or from third-party sources, which makes the pricing wildly different, from $2.41 to $50), but they are still valuable. Among the Lonley Planet Road Trip titles are the expected and the popular:
- National Geographic Guide to Scenic Highways and Byways: The 275 Best Drives in the U.S. ($26.00, or $18.30 at B&N) - This is a great book, featuring unique driving tours through virtually every kind of landscape—spectacular coastlines, mountains, lakes, small towns, ranch and farmlands, islands, bays, and river valleys—in all 50 states. Some of the routes are famous, such as Virginia's Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway, the Natchez Trace, and picturesque sections of the Great River Road. But there are lesser-known drives here as well.
- Fodor's Essential USA: Spectacular Cities, Natural Wonders, and Great American Road Trips - Fodor’s USA focuses on the best trips from sea to shining sea—from the vineyards of Napa Valley to the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee to the streets of Manhattan. Each section contains including the hotels, attractions, and restaurants. Planning tools, including routes linking multiple destinations, tips for what to see en route, and restaurant and hotel listings for “stopover cities,” help travelers plan unforgettable road trips.
- Lonely Planet USA's Best Trips ($24.99, or $24.99 at B&N) - Fifty themed itineraries and unique road trips all across the United States.
There's an excellent Website (no print version) called Roadtripamerica.com chock full of tips, routes, and resources.
Reid's road trips
Prefer your road trip guides in bite-sized chunks rather than epic cross-country routes? Well, thre are a few of my own treasured Road Trips that I have posted on this site (one for each corner of the country: Southern Utah, Mid-Coast Maine, the Mississippi Delta, and Washington's Olympic Peninsula).
Magazine road trip articles
Also try the regular Road Trip features run by several travel magazines and collected on their Web sites:
- Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel (www.budgettravel.com, under Trip Ideas > Road Trips —disclaimer: I wrote some of them)
- National Geographic Traveler (travel.nationalgeographic.com, under Trip Ideas > Road Trips)
- Travel + Leisure (www.travelandleisure.com, under Ideas > Road Trips).
Last but certainly not least are the official (designated by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation) America's Byways, 150+ stretches of distinctive, scenic, or historic road from the 1,707-mile Great River Road that parallels the mighty Mississippi to the 4.5-mile Las Vegas Strip (www.byways.org).
Rand McNally Road Atlas: US, Canada, Mexico - Hey, you gotta know where you're going, and a good map book is the place to start. Maybe it's just me, but I love maps. I love to look at them and mentally retrace old adventures, and dream of new ones along roads I haven't yet been down.
DeLorme Atlas & Gazeteer state maps - Insanely detailed, frighteningly priced (they list for $19.95, though B&N sells them from $17.05), and worth every penny. Just about every single road, including dirt ones, in each state is not only shown on these maps, but named. Before the advent of GPS, these were the only way to ensure you would never, ever get lost no matter how far off the beaten track you drove. Each atlas covers an individual state in its entirety with detailed, full-color topographic maps. Details include back roads, hidden lakes, boat ramps, hiking trails, campgrounds, public lands, forests, wetlands and more. The Gazetteer sections feature information on places to go and things to do. These atlases are year-round favorites with outdoors enthusiasts and anyone who likes to leave the main roads behind.