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Road Trips in Your Own Backyard

There’s no need to travel great distances to discover something new and exciting.

saratoga race course

The Saratoga Race Course (Photo: Courtesy of New York State)

Far too often we believe trips require traveling countless miles to reach faraway lands. But that thinking can rob us of the amazing sights and sounds found much closer to home.

With the COVID-19 pandemic restricting our travel, now is the perfect time to rediscover your own backyard. Fortunately, several local state tourism boards have put together road trip suggestions. Whether you’re a foodie, history buff or just love hitting the open road, there’s something for everyone.

Connecticut

When it comes to Connecticut road trips, it’s all about the scenery. The Shoreline Drive journey stretches nearly the entirety of the state’s coastline. Not only is it one of the most visually appealing drives, it takes you through many of Connecticut’s most acclaimed attractions, including Lighthouse Point Park, Katherine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, and Mystic Seaport and Aquarium.

A more unique road trip through the state is following the Barns Trail. Consisting of seven different routes, this trail takes you past Connecticut’s barns that are open to the public, including working farms, farm stands, orchards and wineries.

grant's tomb

Grant’s Tomb in Manhattan (Photo: Courtesy of New York State)

New York

The New York State Division of Tourism has compiled a plethora of road trip destinations that allow travelers to discover the Empire State’s rich history. The stops are divided into themes, including Arts and Culture, Civil Rights, Immigration and Natural History.

New York’s Finger Lakes region provides the ideal backdrop for an educational road trip about the origins of the modern-day women’s rights movement. It all starts in Seneca Falls, where the first Women’s Rights Convention took place in 1848. Today, the city is home to the Women’s Rights National Historical Park and National Women’s Hall of Fame. Nearby, in the cities of Rochester and Auburn, travelers can visit museums dedicated to Susan B. Anthony and Harriet Tubman, respectively.

Presidential history buffs can roam around the southern portion of the state for an unparalleled look into the lives of several of the country’s commanders in chief. The Hudson Valley is home to both the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site and Presidential Library and Museum, as well as Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site. In New York City you can visit Federal Hall, where Washington took the oath of office and “Grant’s Tomb,” while further east, on Long Island, sits Theodore Roosevelt’s Sagamore Hill home.

Sports fans will enjoy meandering around central New York, home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Not too far away, just outside Albany, is the famed Saratoga Race Course, which still holds major horse races to this day. If you want to keep going, you can journey up north to the Adirondacks, home of the Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame, which commemorates the city’s hosting of the 1932 and 1980 Olympic games.

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Rhode Island

The Blackstone Valley Tourism Council teamed up with the Providence Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau to create a series of themed road trips throughout Rhode Island.

Are We There Yet?” is a family-oriented journey that takes travelers to Central Rock Climbing Gym in Warwick, BattleGroundz in Lincoln and the Providence Children’s Museum. When hunger strikes, families can chow down on burgers at Harry’s Bar & Burger then satisfy sweet tooth cravings with the latest offerings from PVDonuts.

Speaking of food, “Comfort Food Across Cultures” allows travelers to experience different societies by eating their way through various cuisines. Stops include the Bolivian and Peruvian restaurant Los Andes, Korean Fried Chicken spot Den Den and Krakow Deli & Smokehouse, which serves up Polish pierogis and golombki.

The “Take it Outside” road trip celebrates the Ocean State’s outdoor escapes, including Rocky Point Park, Goddard Memorial Park and Roger Williams Park, which also houses the Roger Williams Park Zoo and Museum of Natural History and Planetarium. When the weather warms, outdoor activities like kayaking, water sports, horseback riding and hiking can be done at the Landing at Lincoln Falls and Lincoln Woods State Park.

paul revere

The site of Paul Revere’s capture (Photo: Courtesy of NPS)

Massachusetts

“Visit Massachusetts” offers a few appealing ideas for road trips. One is the Revolutionary Road Tour. The journey begins at the same spot the war did – Lexington, home of the “shot heard ’round the world.” Today, the city, along with its neighboring town of Concord, is home to Lexington Battle Green, Paul Revere Capture Sight and Minute Man National Historical Park.

Another Massachusetts road trip idea takes you along Cape Cod. Stretching from Orleans to Provincetown with stops at various beaches, trails and lighthouses, this is an ideal scenic drive.

New Jersey

New Jersey’s Department of Travel and Tourism recommends cruising along the state’s eight scenic byways, which “showcase the state’s cultural contributions, rich heritage and natural beauty.”

All of these drives offer travelers something different. The Millstone Valley Bypass is a 25-mile journey that will transport you back to Revolutionary War times as you pass by Rockingham, George Washington’s last wartime headquarters. More Washington history can be discovered along the Delaware River Bypass, which takes you to Washington Crossing State Park, the location where George Washington and the Continental Army landed after crossing the Delaware River.

In the northern part of the state, the Palisades Bypass offers unparalleled views of the Hudson River and the Manhattan skyline, with lookout points to stop and enjoy the sights. In southern New Jersey, you can travel along the Bayshore Heritage Scenic Byway. This 122-mile roadway allows you to view much of the state’s coastline as well as the East Point and Cape May Lighthouses.

Whether you rediscover your own backyard or take a longer drive to one of these states, enjoy the journey, travel safely, and don’t forget to review the COVID-19 guidelines if you are planning to travel outside of your own community.

And, if you need a little extra space while you’re on the road, or you just want to take the trip in a vehicle that’s “new to you,” visit your local neighborhood Hertz and don’t forget AAA members can save up to 20% on rentals.

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