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Dream Road-Trip Suggestions from Car and Driver's Editors

Drew Dorian
Photo credit: Marc Urbano - Car and Driver

From Car and Driver

Last month, a travel study by OnePoll and Ford, reported on by our friends over at O: The Oprah Magazine, showed 73 percent of respondents would rather take a road trip than fly to a vacation destination. We're big fans of traveling by car, but we were still (pleasantly) surprised that the result was that high. We were also inspired. So, with the summer travel season upon us and our always intense wanderlust at its max, we did a poll of our own. We asked our editors where'd they go and what they'd take along with them if they could bust out of the office and hit the road today.

Los Angeles to Death Valley

Digital director Mike Magrath suggests taking California Highway 14 toward U.S. 395 North, then on to California 90 East to get to Death Valley from Los Angeles. Along the way, you'll find plenty of wide-open straight stretches of road, as well as hilly sections that will require a car with some power-we suggest a Chevrolet Corvette. It's a long ride-nearly five hours, give or take-through desert environs, so consider downloading an audiobook such as Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire. Upon arrival in Death Valley, you'll be 282 feet below sea level and in one of the hottest areas on earth. Whatever you do, bring a lot of water.

San Diego to Portland via Highway 1

This one's an ambitious undertaking, but it's a bucket-list drive for assistant technical editor Max Mortimer. Highway 1-also known as the Pacific Coast Highway, or PCH-doesn't run all the way from San Diego to Portland, Oregon, but other coastal roads can pick up where the PCH leaves off, including Highways 5 and 101. There's much to see along the way, including Hearst Castle and Limekiln State Park near Big Sur, but we can't resist a little detour in Los Angeles to drive the winding mountainous roads of the Angeles Crest Highway. For this coastal trip, we'd suggest a convertible for maximum fun, and the Porsche 718 Boxster is one of the best of its kind.

Detroit to Chicago via U.S. Highway 12

Hundreds of miles of scenic Michigan and Indiana countryside lie along U.S. Highway 12, with both ends anchored by a towering metropolis of midwestern industry. West of Ann Arbor, which is home to Car and Driver's editorial headquarters, you'll find mile after mile of greenery, lakes, and rural farms, and online editor Andrew Wendler suggests stopping in the Irish Hills for a poke around the area's many 1950s-themed classic tourist traps, including Mystery Hill, Stagecoach Stop, and the crumbling Prehistoric Forest, which has long been closed to the public. He'd suggest a car with some moves but something that doesn't have a suspension that will punish you on overcratered Midwest roads; the Kia Stinger would do quite nicely.

Tail of the Dragon

No road-trip story is complete without throwing Tennessee's Tail of the Dragon into the suggestion pile. This stretch of U.S. 129 in the Smoky Mountains is one of the most challenging and rewarding ribbons of pavement in the United States. Start in Knoxville, itself a charming Southern metropolis, and end in Asheville or in Charlotte, North Carolina. In between, enjoy the drive in one of today's most focused hot hatchbacks, the mighty Honda Civic Type R, complete with the soundtrack to the drift-racing classic movie Initial D blaring through the speakers. If you're in search of a break after the white-knuckle twist and turns of the Dragon, take road-test editor Charlie Dryer's advice and stop at Fontana Dam to take in the sights or rent a pontoon boat from Fontana Marina for a relaxing day on one of the areas many lakes and rivers.

Boston to West Quoddy Head Lighthouse, Maine

East-coast native and assistant online editor Daniel Golson suggests exploring the route from Boston to coastal Maine. However, no nostalgia road trip through the northeast would be complete, he says, without a quick side-trip west to Glen, New Hampshire to visit Story Land, a whimsical theme park complete with roller coasters, water slides, and on-theme live-action characters. After your stop at Story Land, begin your trek to West Quoddy Head Lighthouse on the coast of in Maine-the easternmost point of the continental United States-to be among the first to witness the day's sunrise. If you know Golson, you know that the only car suitable for such a trip would be a Mercedes-Benz E-class station wagon. We can hardly blame him, it's one of our favorite cars for long-distance cruising, too.

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