10 Iconic Scenic US Roads
Traveling by car in the U.S. is a right of passage for the true road warrior seeking to see the country. Luckily for drivers, the U.S. is chalk full of iconic scenic roads where the drive really is the attraction. So when you’re ready to hit the road, roll your windows down and experience the beauty out the window on these breathtaking routes.
Highway 50, Nevada
Nevada State Highway 50 has earned the tile of the loneliest road in America. The isolated stretch that spans the width of the state boasts mountains, ghost towns and splendid isolation. The route roughly parallels the Pony Express Trail. Highway 50 provides a road trip where it is often just you and the open road. Soul searching encouraged.
If you really want to take one of America’s most scenic roads, you won’t find a worthier route than Route 66. The iconic road runs from Chicago to Los Angeles with stops in St. Louis, Amarillo and Albuquerque along the way. Covering over 2,000 miles, Route 66 is scenic in the sense that you get to see and experience classic Americana.
Pacific Coast Highway
Also known as Highway 1 or the PCH, the Pacific Coast Highway snakes along the gorgeous western coastline of California. As it follows the ocean, the road narrows to reveal breath-taking scenes of sand and redwood forests.
Columbia River Highway
A drive along the Columbia River Highway offers some of Oregon’s most breathtaking scenery. Highway 30 in the section from Troutdale to The Dalles winds past waterfalls, views and wildflowers. The Columbia River Highway is also one of the most historic roads in the country. It was the first paved road in the Northwest and a part of the Oregon Trail.
Cape Cod’s Route 6
For over 100 miles in Massachusetts, Cape Cod’s Route 6 connects the area’s sand dunes, beaches and fishing villages. Riders can appreciate the views of the Cape Cod National Seashore along this stretch, also referred to as the Mid-Cape Highway.
If you are seeking one of America’s most remote roads, Dalton Highway is the epitome of an isolated route. Also called State Route 11 in Alaska, the route is the only U.S. road crossing the Arctic Circle. Drivers cruise past tundra, forests and wildlife along the way. The just-over-400 mile road links Livengood and Prudhoe Bay, slicing right through Alaska’s north.
Natchez Trace Parkway
Reaching across Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee, the Natchez Trace Parkway covers about a 400-mile stretch. The scenic route provides more than just eye candy out the window. The Natchez Trace Parkway also details 10,000 years of North American history. As there are plenty of chances to appreciate the area’s beauty, you can take your time on the road and stop at an Extended Stay America hotel along the way, from Franklin, Tennessee to Raymond, Mississippi for a good night’s rest in between stopovers.
Trail Ridge Road
Colorado delights with scenic roads, but Trail Ridge Road tends to take the cake. The highest continually paved road in the U.S. takes cars up over 12,000 feet. As the road is part of Rocky Mountain National Park, you can expect to see untouched wilderness and plenty of wildlife.
Also referred to as U.S. 1 in the Florida Keys, the Overseas Highway runs from Miami to Key West, presenting one of the most beautiful roads in the country. The over 150-mile journey takes cars on an island-hopping highway. Lighthouses, coral reefs and plenty of bridges make this one of the most scenic drives in Florida. The route also heads over a seven-mile bridge, one of the longest in the world.
Blue Ridge Parkway
Covering around 500 miles, the Blue Ridge Parkway through the Appalachian Mountains is just about as scenic a route as they come. The drive takes travelers through the Great Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah National Parks. There is picturesque scenery and breathtaking views abound on this route.
If you’re up for the adventure in the coming year, pick a road and grab your camera. You’re not going to be sorry.
America's Best Amusement Parks
The roar of the roller coaster, the thrill of meeting famous cartoon characters and the overall excitement are what drive many families to visit amusement parks. In many ways, travelers with kids often cater their vacation destinations around which amusement parks they want to visit. Amusement parks are an essential part of the family vacation, but they aren’t all created equally. As they frequently top the charts of the best and brightest amusement parks in the country, read on for the three you won’t want to pass up on your next family vacation.
If you find yourself in Sandusky, Ohio, you might hear the roar of Cedar Point in the distance long before you set foot on a ride. Proudly nicknamed the roller coaster capital of the world, Cedar Point lives up to its title. The park is also one of the oldest amusement parks in the country. In fact, it is the second oldest amusement park in North America with foundations in 1870. With over 15 roller coasters and counting, Cedar Point also houses family rides, water rides and plenty of events like Coaster Mania!, Coaster Campout and Winter Chillout. Cedar Point provides a classic amusement park vibe right on the shore of Lake Erie.
Magic Kingdom Park
Located just south of Orlando in Lake Buena Vista, Magic Kingdom Park is easily one of the most celebrated amusement parks in the US. Part of the Disneyworld Resort, Magic Kingdom boasts classic attractions, Disney characters, musical parades and even fireworks shows. The park is home to the whimsical lands of Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland along with Main Street U.S.A. and Liberty Square. Perched in the heart of the resort, Magic Kingdom Park boasts the classic Disney rides like the Haunted Mansion, Mad Tea Party, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean. With so many attractions in one park, you can plan for a long vacay to catch all the sites and still be comfortable at the Extended Stay America Orlando. Suites provide a refuge away from the park when the whole family needs to relax and unwind after a busy day in Magic Kingdom.
Six Flags Magic Mountain
While there might be magic in the name, Six Flags Magic Mountain boasts its own identity from other US amusement parks. Located just north of Los Angeles off Interstate 5 in Valencia, the theme park tends to reach for the sky in terms of rollercoasters. Home to a roller coaster that travels at speeds of 100 miles per hour and a ride with a 415 foot drop, Six Flags Magic Mountain is certainly for thrill seekers looking for a wild ride. Known for its world-class roller coasters, rides, games and attractions, the park is also home to more children’s roller coasters than any other U.S. theme park. Bugs Bunny World hosts 6 as part of its revitalized children’s areas. In addition, families can ride Full Throttle, the world’s tallest and fastest looping coasters, Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom, the world’s tallest vertical drop ride and Tatsu, the tallest, fastest and longest flying coaster on Earth.
If you’re looking for the thrill of a lifetime on your next trip, be sure to catch one of these amazing parks. You won’t be disappointed!
5 Tips to Getting a Good Night's Rest on the Road
For a traveler who has been on the road, there is nothing quite like sleeping in your own bed when you come home. The environment is familiar. The comfort and setting are all catered to your sleeping needs. However, when you are on the road, it can be quite difficult to get quality sleep. We are sharing several tips to help you sleep like you do at home, even when you are far from it.
#1. Request a Quiet Room at Your Hotel
Your lack of sleep on the road could be in the cards long before you check in to your hotel. Some rooms are quieter than others. If you are a sensitive sleeper, you can always request a room at your hotel away from common noisemakers such as ice machines and elevators. You can even look out for soundproofing as an amenity when you book a hotel. In addition, requesting to be on a higher floor can help keep the noise from the lobby away. When you are booking your Extended Stay America hotel room, simply ask to be away from these noisy hotel neighbors and you are sure to get a better night’s sleep when you check in.
#2. Come Prepared
Sometimes you just can’t dodge noise and light at your hotel. But, you can still avoid them by coming prepared for your stay. Savvy travelers always pack earplugs, a sleep mask or any other tools, such as a travel sound machine, they might need to fall asleep. You can’t always avoid noise and light when you travel, but if you come prepared, they shouldn’t ever deter your sleep.
#3. Be Careful What You Eat and Drink
Many people don’t keep in mind that one of the best tips for better sleep is that you have to consider what you are eating on the road. A big part of travel often involves eating and drinking outside your normal diet. Constant restaurant meals and over indulgence of alcohol can keep you up at night. You should try to stick to what you normally eat and drink back home, even while traveling. It is also essential to keep hydrated when going across several time zones.
#4. Limit Your Screen Time
Regardless of whether you’re traveling for business or taking a vacation, these days the office always seems to follow us. Resist the temptation to doze off by the light of your smart phone, though. Rather than climbing into bed and pulling out your cell phone or tablet, try to limit your screen time an hour or so before bedtime. The light of the screen has the ability to keep you from falling asleep when you are done checking work emails. Even if you have to keep your phone on at night, switch the Wi-Fi off so those email dings don’t keep you from getting sleep.
#5. Make Yourself at Home
Sleeping tips often boil down to trying to create an atmosphere of home while on the road. You can achieve the feeling of home by making your hotel room a little more familiar. You can bring a travel pillow or a photograph that makes you feel more at ease. Many sleep experts also recommend getting up and going to another room if you can’t sleep. By making your hotel feel more like home, it can lessen the discomfort that sometimes comes with sleeping in a new environment.
Sleeping in new beds, foreign environments and noisy spaces is rarely easy for travelers. However, getting a good night’s rest is possible on the road. With a little planning, packing and preparing, you can saw logs like you do at home, right in the comforts of your hotel.
Tips for Better Sleep
7 US Lighthouses That Are Worth the Trip
Lighthouses embody a certain spirit. They guide, direct and warn of what has yet to come. All across the country and around the shores, lighthouses have been guiding sailors away from trouble and on a safe route back home. For travelers, visiting lighthouses offers the chance to marvel at the seaside views while touring these beacons of history and hope. Here are some of the best lighthouses to visit across the U.S.
#1. St. Augustine Lighthouse - St. Augustine, Florida
Keeping watch in St. Augustine, the St. Augustine Lighthouse in Florida also fulfills the role as the oldest, permanent aid to navigation in North America. While the lighthouse boasts foundations in the late 1500s, the current version hails from the 1870s. Measuring 165 feet above sea level, visitors can climb up to the top. Of course, that means you will have to work for the stellar views of historic St. Augustine, St. Augustine Beach, the Intercostal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean. The St. Augustine Lighthouse has 219 steps to reach its views.
#2. Nubble Lighthouse - York, Maine
Along the coast in York, Maine, you will find one of the country’s most idyllic lighthouses. The Nubble Lighthouse sits atop a large rock island, just a few hundred feet off shore. Its creation stems from Maine’s rocky coast calling for a little light and direction for those at sea. Completed in 1879, the Nubble Lighthouse is on the National Register of Historic Places.
#3. Heceta Head Lighthouse - Florence, Oregon
Often said to be one of the most beautiful lighthouses in the country, the Heceta Head Lighthouse along the Oregon coast shines its beams 21 miles out to sea. With views of the Pacific Ocean and the beach below, visitors gather to see this 1894 stunner. Daily tours are offered from March to October.
#4. Cape Hatteras Lighthouse - Buxton, North Carolina
Completed in 1870, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse on the Outer Banks of North Carolina was originally constructed to warn ships traveling along the Outer Banks of the dangerous shoals along the islands. This area, prone to shipwrecks, was even given the nickname, “The Graveyard of the Atlantic,” due to the hazardous conditions of the Atlantic Coast. The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is one of the U.S. lighthouses that had to be moved from its original spot due to threat of shoreline erosion. In 1999, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse moved 2,900 feet from its original position.
#5. Portland Head Light - Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Located on Cape Elizabeth just outside of Portland, the Portland Head Light is one of the nation’s oldest lighthouses and the oldest lighthouse in Maine. The original tower went up in 1790. When this close-to-Portland, Maine lighthouse was first lit in 1791, the lighthouse used 16 whale oil lamps to guide ships and sailors home. In addition to the lighthouse, Portland Head Light includes a charming Victorian keeper’s house. Commissioned by George Washington, the lighthouse provides commanding views of the Portland harbor and the beautifully landscaped grounds.
#6. Split Rock Lighthouse - Two Harbors, Maine
With views of Lake Superior, in particular the North Shore, Split Rock Lighthouse attracts travelers to its appealing grounds. Built in 1910, the lighthouse was necessary due to all of the shipwrecks from a mighty 1905 November gale. The lighthouse has since been restored to its 1920 appearance.
#7. Pigeon Point Lighthouse - Pescadero, California
Perched on a cliff on the central California coast, in relatively close proximity to hotels in San Francisco, Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz, Pigeon Point Lighthouse is one of the California lighthouses you don’t want to miss. The dramatic location isn’t all that Pigeon Point Lighthouse has on its side. The lighthouse is also the tallest operational lighthouse on the West Coast. Right along Highway 1, the lighthouse has also made it on the National Register of Historic Places. It has been guiding the ships home since 1872.
Not much compares to the magical aura of an old lighthouse. Why not map out a trip and plan to hit the road to scout out some of these gorgeous structures?
5 Tallest Buildings in the US (and What You'll See From Them!)
It seems inevitable, the true road warriors often seem to have the desire to head for the highest point in a city. You can take in the land, all while experiencing the world with a whole new set of eyes. In the U.S., these high perches, the highest in the country, all happen to stretch up to the sky in New York and Chicago. Travelers in search of the best seats in the house need look no further than these higher than high roosts.
432 Park Avenue - New York, New York
The tallest residential tower in the Western Hemisphere makes its home in the middle of Manhattan. 432 Park Avenue is a luxury residential building where residents are treated to some of the best views in the city. Up there on Cloud Nine, the building shows off views from the Hudson to the East River, from the Bronx to Brooklyn, over to Central Park and even out to the Atlantic Ocean. 432 Park Avenue measures 1,396 feet and is home to a whopping 96 stories.
Willis Tower - Chicago, Illinois
If you find time in Chicago, you can’t miss a visit up to the top of one of the world’s tallest buildings. After you check into your Chicago hotel, you can head up in the clouds to the Willis Tower. Located right in the heart of downtown, the building measures 1,450 feet high with 110 stories. If you count its twin antenna towers, the Willis Tower reaches a stunning height of 1,730 feet. Visitors can head up to its Skydeck and take a nail-biting step out on to one of the glass boxes, extending 4.3 feet out from the Skydeck. The office building’s great heights took three years and 2,000 workers to construct. What you’ll see from the top is not only a great 360 view of Chicago, but also four states on a clear day. Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan can all be spotted.
One World Trade Center - New York, New York
Clocking in at 1,776 feet, One World Trade Center in New York has taken over the title of America’s tallest building. The New York landmark was the design of David M. Childs. While mostly an office space across its three million square feet, One World Trade Center will open an observation deck in 2015. Visitors will be able to reach the 102nd floor of the tallest building in the U.S. The views will showcase all of New York’s most iconic landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and the Brooklyn Bridge.
The Empire State Building - New York, New York
If you are staying in New York, you don’t want to miss its other true skyscraper. The Empire State Building sits in the center of Midtown Manhattan. Featured in countless films, the iconic art deco beauty reaches a height of 1,454 feet. It was completed in 1931 and long held the title of the tallest building in New York. Either from the 86th or 102nd floor observatories, you can appreciate a citywide panorama. Coin operated viewers make it possible to get even a closer look at the city buzzing below.
Trump International Hotel and Tower - Chicago, Illinois
Considered one of the tallest buildings in the U.S., Trump International Hotel and Tower rises up 1,389 feet. Across 92 stories, the hotel contains 339 rooms and suites. The Trump International Hotel and Tower is also the tallest reinforced concrete building in the world. Even if you can’t stay at this boutique Chicago hotel, you can take in its bird’s eye views from the restaurant and bar, the Terrace at Trump. The Chicago rooftop restaurant serves up meals and drinks along with views of the Wrigley Clock Tower, Lake Michigan and the Chicago River.
History buffs, dare devils who thrill off soaring heights, and architecture-lovers alike will all be able to appreciate these sky-reaching buildings. Just be sure to bring your camera, as these views aren’t just your everyday sightseeing experiences.
4 Family-Friendly Spring Break Ideas in North Carolina
Popular spring break destinations often boil down to the beaches of Florida or the coast of California. However, for your next spring break, you might want to consider North Carolina. Not only will you dodge the crowds by heading to an unsuspecting spring break location, but also the state is diversified, lending landscapes, cities and activities the whole family can appreciate. Here are four family friendly spring break ideas in North Carolina.
You might recognize Lake Lure long before you see it. The lake was selected as the film location for the popular movie Dirty Dancing. Located in Western North Carolina, the 720-acre man-made lake provides a perfect outdoorsy spring break destination for families. Lake Lure is filled with activities including horseback riding, fishing, hikes to nearby Chimney Rock and even the opportunity to rent kayaks and boats to take out on the water.
The small harbor town along North Carolina’s Crystal Coast is often overlooked as a spring break destination. However, Beaufort packs in the punch with history, museums and beautiful water access. As North Carolina’s third oldest town with foundations in 1709, Beaufort boasts beautifully restored homes pre-dating the Civil War. Visitors can head to the North Carolina Maritime Museum for a look at Queen Anne Revenge artifacts from Blackbeard’s ship. The infamous pirate’s ship sunk off of Beaufort Inlet. Beaufort also provides easy access to Cape Lookout and Shackleford Banks. You can also just spend time watching over the waterfront to Carrot Island, which is littered with wild horses.
Another surprise up North Carolina’s spring break destination sleeve is Raleigh. After you check into your Extended Stay America in Raleigh, you can begin exploring North Carolina’s state capital. Raleigh is educational and fun for kids, too, with a wealth of museums such as the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, the North Carolina Museum of History and the Marbles Kids Museum. Raleigh is also home to historic sites for families to explore such as Historic Yates Mill County Park, an 18th century water-powered mill that has been fully restored.
The Lighthouses of the Outer Banks
North Carolina vacations aren’t complete until you have done a bit of lighthouse hopping. Along the state’s Outer Banks, there are dozens of lighthouses to visit and climb. The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse sits on the south of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. As the nation’s tallest lighthouse, you can climb up all 257 stairs from mid-April to Columbus Day. Moving on, families can also head for the oldest still-operating lighthouse in North Carolina. The Ocracoke Lighthouse can be reached by way of a free ferry from Hatteras to Ocracoke Island. Another notable lighthouse along the North Carolina coast includes Cape Lookout. Its iconic black and white design allows visitors to climb its 216 steps from mid May through mid September.
Families looking to have not-your-average spring break can find the perfect destinations in North Carolina. From the buzzing cities with plenty of museums to keep the kids entertained to a dramatic coastline, North Carolina can hang with the most popular of spring break destinations and maybe even sway the wind its direction.