Editor’s note: Quorum is not affiliated with any of the companies mentioned in this article and derives no benefit from these businesses for placement in this article.
Nothing is as exhilarating as driving the open road, leaving work and stress behind. You have the freedom to stop wherever and whenever you want to visit cool restaurants, shops and other sites. Whether in your own classic car or a rented vintage model, there’s a road trip for every season of the year that bucks the trends and beats the usual crowds.
Add upscale accommodations to your favorite first-class wheels and these unexpected seasonal road trips can be as luxury-filled as you desire. All four are located near a major U.S. city, so you can even enjoy a bit of metropolitan flavor at the start or end of your journey.
Spring Beyond the Cherry Blossoms
Although beautiful, the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival isn’t the only thing the Mid-Atlantic has to offer in springtime. Between 60- and 90-minutes west of Washington, D.C., you run into the unforgettable vistas and natural wonders of the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. Starting from Winchester or Fort Royal, you can work your way down to Lexington and then over to Charlottesville.
Depending on whether you want the luxury of a resort, boutique hotel or quaint bed and breakfast, you can easily explore the valley by day and return at night to upscale accommodations like the following, which are located at various points along the route:
- Northern end an hour west of Washington
- Midway in Staunton
- Southern end in Charlottesville
Many road trippers visit the Shenandoah Valley in autumn to enjoy the fall foliage, but spring is just as perfect a time to enjoy these activities:
- Cruising Skyline Drive, the 105-mile road through the Shenandoah National Park
- Wine tasting at the vineyards along the Monticello Wine Trail
- Exploring the towns of Fort Royal, Harrisonburg, Staunton and Lexington
- Visiting the University of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and more in Charlottesville
- Bonding with nature at the Luray Caverns and Natural Bridge
Summer South of Seattle
For something other than the traditional summer beach vacation, why not explore the northwest beauty of Washington and Oregon by car? If you start in Seattle, staying somewhere like the Four Seasons or Fairmont Olympic Hotel, you can comfortably spend a few days exploring sites such as the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum and the Museum of Flight. From this home base, you can also enjoy day trips to visit LeMay – America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, to experience the wineries of Woodinville Wine Country and to check out the capital city of Olympia.
Next, you can head south into Oregon and check in at Portland accommodations like Kimpton River Place or The Nines, a Luxury Collection hotel. Once you’ve exhausted the sights and sounds of Portland, you can take day adventures back up to Vancouver, Washington or further south to McMinnville in the heart of Oregon wine country or to the state capital, Salem.
For the final leg of your trip, explore the Oregon coastline. Newport is a central location that allows you to drive north or south on the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway at your leisure. At night, you can rest at a more traditional hotel like Ocean House or you can enjoy the unique experience of staying in a luxury state room on the Newport Belle, a permanently moored paddleboat.
Autumn by the Bayou
Everyone flocks to fall foliage in the autumn, but an October or November tour along Louisiana’s famed River Road between New Orleans and Baton Rouge makes an unexpected choice that lets you start and end in charming southern cities, while exploring these and more historic antebellum homes that lie in between on the banks of the mighty Mississippi:
- Destrehan, Destrehan, LA
- Laura and Oak Alley, Vacherie, LA
- Houmas House, Darrow, LA
- Nottoway, White Castle, LA
Unlike during Mardi Gras, in the fall months, you’ll have space to enjoy New Orleans’ famed French Quarter, Garden District, its many beautiful churches and spooky cemeteries while staying in five-star accommodations. If you prefer Baton Rouge for your home base, make sure to check out the new and old state capitols or maybe snag tickets for a home LSU football game.
Winter Along the Hudson
Rather than escape the cold of winter, embrace it with a journey through the idyllic Hudson River Valley with snow blanketing the landscape. About an hour outside of New York City, drive up the east side of the river on Interstate 87 and come back down the west side on Highway 9 or vice versa. Along the way, the possibilities include:
- Wine tasting in towns like Marlboro, Millbrook, Wallkill and Warwick where wineries are open year-round
- Antiquing in Rhinebeck or Hudson
- Skiing in High Mount, Monticello, Roxbury or Warwick
- Visiting the FDR homesite at Hyde Park