As we bid adieu to the last of winter’s chill, it’s time to hit the road to welcome spring and feast our senses on Mother Nature’s reawakening. Ready to go? Here’s a list of the top five scenic drives in America that will appeal to the road warrior in you:
Texas Hill Country
With over 600 miles to travel through in Texas Hill Country, which sprawls through the heart of the great state of Texas from San Antonio to the south through New Braunfels, San Marcos, Austin, Burnet (the Bluebonnet Capital of Texas), Kerrville, Fredericksburg and more all the way up to Brownwood and Brady, there are plenty of sights to see in the spring—especially the world-famous bluebonnets. Planted by Lady Bird Johnson in her successful bid to beatify American cities, these purplish blue beauties begin blooming in mid-March and continue into April, when other late-bloomers join in the fun. As the locals for directions to the best and brightest fields—they’ll be happy to help y’all.
Santa Fe/Taos Loop, New Mexico
March is the off-season for tourists in Santa Fe, which translates into great deals for lodging and dining—not to mention spa treatments and shopping! The weather warms up in April, meaning plenty of white water rafting and walking tours through this culturally rich city. But this is article is all about the drive, so once you’ve had your fill of Santa Fe, hit the High Road To Taos Scenic Byway, which will take you through an authentic remnant of Old Spain. Your first stop is a Tewa pueblo, Nambe, dating back to the 1300s, followed by the community of Chimayo, known for its Spanish weaving, good food and beautiful Santuario de Chimayo Church. The route will take you through the badlands, past the imposing Jemez Mountains to other towns and villages that will take you back in time until you end up at the Saint Francis Plaza in Ranchos de Taos, where a bronze statue of Saint Francis of Assisi will welcome you to this quaint New Mexico town.
Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii
Designated as the Hana Millennium Legacy Trail by President Bill Clinton in 2000, the Hana Highway is on the National Register of Historic Places. With a pedigree like that, you just know this 64.4-mile long stretch of Hawaii Routes 36 and 360 is going to be impressive. Curving along the eastern side of the island of Maui, the highway travels along many waterfalls and exquisite attractions (check your guidebooks if you see “keep out” areas, as all beaches in Hawaii are public). At the end of the highway you’ll reach the ‘Ohe’o Gulch, also known as the “Seven Sacred Pools,” a series of waterfalls and pools located inside the Haleakala National Park. Travel tip: rent a small Jeep or 4WD, as the roads can be rough in places.
Finger Lakes Wine Country Trails, New York
The Finger Lakes area in Upstate New York encompasses eleven glacial lakes, with the majority of the vineyards locate around Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca and Cayuga Lakes. The area is home to three distinct Wine Trails, each offering delicious wine and food pairing events throughout the year. Springtime events along the Seneca, Keuka and Cayuga Wine Trails will keep you busy, including glass-making at the Corning Museum of Glass and shopping at Corning’s Gaffer District. No matter what direction you take, you can be sure the pristine days, flowering meadows and, yes, excellent wining and dining will cure you of any residual cabin fever that may still be lurking around.
Skyline Drive, Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia
After a long, cold winter, spring has indeed sprung in Shenandoah. Everything is currently open and the wildflowers are starting to make an appearance. Your road trip will take you along the 105-mile Skyline Drive through the Shenandoah National Park, the only public road through the park. The going is slow (35 MPH), but that’s because there’s plenty of wildlife crossing the road (PS It’s against the law the feed the animals—no matter how cute!) It takes about three hours to travel the length of the park on a clear day, but you’ll want to take advantage of the visitor centers and campsites (RVs, camping trailers and horse trailers are welcome). Roll down your windows, breathe in the fresh air and take in the stunning views of the Shenandoah Valley to the west and the Piedmont to the east.