By Bryen Dunn
Summer is the time of year when Canadians pack up the vehicle and go road tripping. Ideally situated North of the United States, and the world’s longest undefended border, a drive South is an obvious choice when making travel plans. Canadian Traveller has compiled a list of top scenic drives to bordering states that are highly recommended for your next adventure.
The Idaho Club
Enter the U.S. via Highway 95 at Porthill and travel down the Wild Horse Trail Scenic Byway, part of the International Selkirk Loop, designated North America’s only International Scenic Byway. The Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge is a must for wildlife enthusiasts, great hiking can be found around Myrtle Creek Falls and the Selkirk Mountains.
Start the next day with a visit to Silverwood Theme Park, the largest in the northwest, before continuing on to Coeur d’Alene, where you can try your luck on the world’s only floating green at the Coeur d’Alene Resort golf course.
From there the Lake Coeur d’Alene Scenic Byway leads to the White Pine Scenic Byway, passing through a wildlife refuge, and the historic towns of Potlatch and St. Maries, where rafting, fishing or relaxing inner tube floats are offered on the St. Joe River.
Further on past Lewiston is the Northwest Passage Scenic Byway, where one can find the Nez Perce National Historic Center and the Dworshak Reservoir at Orofino.
Top 5 Sights
• Silverwood Theme Park
• Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge
• Nez Perce National Historical Park
• Dworshak State Park
• Coeur d’Alene Resort and Golf Course
Where To Stay: Dover Bay Cottages in Sandpoint, Huckleberry Tent & Breakfast in Clark Fork, Red Lion Hotel in Lewiston, Best Western Plus Lodge at Rivers Edge in Orofino, or the River Dance Lodge near Kooskia.
Best Breakfast: Badger’s Den in Bonners Ferry.
Best Lunch: Papa Byrd’s Bistro in Bonners Ferry, Hudson’s Hamburgers, or in Coeur d’Alene.
Best Diner/Dive: Chic and Chop in Bonners Ferry, Woodlot Tavern & Café in Ahsaka near Orofino, or the Wolf Lodge Steak House in Coeur d’Alene.
More information: www.visitidaho.org.
One of the most beautiful road trips in Montana is around and through Glacier National Park – the second biggest reason why people visit Montana after Yellowstone National Park.
Glacier National Park is the centre of one of the largest and most intact ecosystems in North America. Not only is the park noted for its spectacular drives, but options for red bus tours, boat tours, horseback riding, canoeing and over 1,120 kilometres of hiking trails make this a must.
With wildflowers, alpine vistas and waterfalls along the way, this will be an experience that you won’t forget. Don’t forget to look up into the big sky, especially on a clear night when the whole galaxy is on display.
There are some incredible historic lodges that surround the borders of the park, which make for unique stays while exploring Glacier.
Top 5 Sights:
• Going to the Sun Road
• Logan Pass
• Avalanche Gorge
• St. Mary Lake
• Many Glacier Valley
Where To Stay: Many Glacier Hotel or the Lake McDonald Lodge
Best Breakfast: Johnsons of St Mary
Best Lunch: Two Sisters Café
Best Diner/Dive: Serrano’s Mexican Restaurant
More information: www.visitmt.com.
The most popular excursions are the Lewis and Clark Scenic Drives, especially around the Williston area, which is rich in riverboat, fur trade and military history.
Start at the Lewis and Clark State Park on Highway 1804, and make your way toward Fort Buford, a military post that was established in 1866. Of special note are Little Missouri National Grasslands, Old Grassy Butte Post Office, and the authentic Old West town of Medora.
Other stops include the Enchanted Highway in Gladstone with its iconic metal sculptures, and the extraordinary Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in the Washburn area.
End your travels with a visit to the International Peace Garden, where more than 150,000 annuals planted each year symbolizes the peace between Canada and the United States.
Top 5 Sights
• Pioneer Museum and Heritage Park, Watford City
• Theodore Roosevelt National Park
• Old Grassy Butte Post Office
• Dakota Dinosaur Museum, Dickinson
• Riverboat Cruise, Washburn
Where To Stay: Riverdale High Lodge.
Best Breakfast: Fried’s Family Restaurant, Mandan.
Best Lunch: Six Shooters Bar & Grill, Watford City.
Best Diner/Dive: Big Boy, Bismarck.
More information: www.ndtourism.com
©Explore Minnesota Tourism
An ideal drive via the Pembina Highway is the Great River Road itinerary, which can be accomplished partially in a weekend or in its entirety over a full week. The route follows the path of the Mississippi River from its starting point in Itasca State Park.
Drive to the Victorian river town of Red Wing, then continue South along the Mississippi, enjoying the breathtaking views of sandstone cliffs, and passing through Lake City, Kellogg, Wabasha, Winona and LaCrescent.
The mighty river flows Southeast to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis Saint Paul, then further South through the state’s Bluff Country, before continuing on to the Gulf of Mexico. Saint Paul is the historic state capital, while Minneapolis is more contemporary. Great shopping can be found, and there’s no sales tax on clothing or shoes in the state.
Top 5 Sights:
• Itasca State Park and Douglas Lodge
• Minnesota State Fair
• Hill Annex Mine
• Paul Bunyan’s Playhouse, Bemidji
• Judy Garland’s Birthplace and Museum, Grand Rapids
Where To Stay: AmericInns and Country Inn & Suites, throughout the state.
Best Breakfast: Hell’s Kitchen, Key’s Café or Manny’s Steakhouse in Minneapolis.
Best Lunch: Tavern on Grand in Saint Paul or Zarbaz Pizza (various locations).
Best Diner/Dive: Anywhere in Dorset or Mickey’s Diner and Dairyette in Saint Paul. Try a ‘Juicy Lucy’, a cheese-embedded hamburger patty, found at Matt’s and the Five 8’s Club (both in Minneapolis), The Nook across the river in Saint Paul, or the Blue Door (locations in both cities).
More information: www.exploreminnesota.com.
Cross the International Bridge from Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, to Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, and travel along the Lake Superior shoreline on Curley Lewis Memorial Highway. This leads to Seney National Wildlife Refuge and up to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
Then head south to Escanaba and back East along the Northern Lake Michigan coastline, which goes all the way into St. Ignace, where the ferry crosses to Mackinac Island. Complete this journey by following the I-75 back up to Sault Ste Marie.
A second option would be to cross into Detroit from Windsor, spend a day or two exploring Detroit, then head south on I-75 to Monroe, across the M-50 to Tecumseh, before heading back North on US-12 to Ann Arbor.
Top 5 Sights:
• Soo Locks
• Tahquamenon Falls State Park and Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum
• Seney National Wildlife Refuge
• Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
• Fayette State Historic Park, Kitch-iti-kipi, and The Big Spring
Where To Stay: Kewadin Casino in Sault Ste Marie, Crews Quarters at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, Hampton Inn or Landmark Inn in Marquette, Historic House of Ludington in Escanaba, or the Mission Point Resort on Mackinac Island.
Best Breakfast: Sweetwater Café, Marquette.
Best Lunch: Tahquamenon Falls Brewery and Pub or Mackinac Grille and Waterfront Pub in St Ignace.
Best Diner/Dive: Antlers Restaurant in Sault Ste Marie, Wilcox Fish House in Brimley, or The Vierling & Marquette Harbor Brewery.
More information: www.michigan.org.
State Route 2 is by far one of the most interesting drives in Ohio.
Start in Toledo, visit Fort Meigs in Perrysburg, and continue east towards Sandusky to visit Crane Creek and the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, both of which are great for bird enthusiasts.
It’s also where thrill seekers can get their fix at the Kalahari Resort riding the Zip Coaster at America's largest indoor water park, or by riding one of 17 roller coasters at Cedar Point Amusement Park – including the new GateKeeper – which holds the record for the longest drop of any winged coaster.
Visit Ohio’s oldest winery at Heineman’s Winery, and the Crystal Cave, the world's largest recorded geode, which is located directly below the winery. Then on to Lake Erie Islands and Kelleys Island, which are dreams for outdoor enthusiasts.
Further travels pass through Huron, Vermilion, the wine region, Amish Country, and finally, Cleveland.
Top 5 Sights:
• Heineman’s Winery and Crystal Cave
• Kalahari Resort, Sandusky
• Lake Erie Islands
• Kelleys Island State Park
• Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland
Where To Stay: The Hotel at UTMC, Best Western Premier Grand Plaza Hotel in Toledo, Kalahari Resort & Waterpark or The Simpson-Flint House in Sandusky, Sawmill Creek Resort or Captain Montagues B&B in Huron, Maumee Bay State Park Lodge in Maumee, or the Island House Hotel in Port Clinton.
Best Breakfast: Glass City Cafe in Toledo, Berardi’s Family Kitchen in Sandusky, or Big Al’s Diner in Cleveland.
Best Lunch: Tony Packo’s Café in Toledo, Manny’s Sports Tavern in Sandusky, or Noodlecat in Cleveland.
Best Diner/Dive: Schmucker’s Restaurant in Toledo, East Side Café in Sandusky, or AMP150 in Cleveland.
More information: www.discoverohio.com.
Great Outdoors Visitors Bureau
Pennsylvania’s a land of vast wilderness, tall trees and flowing fields of foliage, which can be explored via iconic Route 6, starting in Erie.
Stop by the Erie Art Museum and Warner Theatre before heading to the 1,300-hectare Presque Isle State Park sandy peninsula.
Next stop is the National Historic District of Bradford where the Zippo and Case Museum and the Penn Brad Oil Museum can be found.
Following the Allegheny River, the Smethport Mansion District provides a great display of English Gothic architecture, and it’s also part of the PA Wilds Artisan Trail.
Stop by Kinzua Bridge State Park, home of the Kinzua Viaduct and Kinzua Skywalk, which extends some 190 metres into the Kinzua Gorge. The Elk Scenic Drive runs through Benezette, home to one of the largest herds of free-roaming elk along the Mississippi.
Top 5 Sites:
• Presque Isle
• Kinzua Skywalk
• Allegheny National Forest
• Elk Country Visitors Center
• Benzette Winery
Where To Stay: Mansion District Inn in Smethport, Crestmont Inn in Eagles Mere, or the Benezette Hotel in Benezette.
Best Breakfast: Derrick City Diner in Bradford.
Best Lunch: Denny’s Beer Barrel Pub in Clearfield.
Best Diner/Dive: Route 6 Diner in Smethport or the Twigs Café in Tunkhannock.
More information: www.visitpa.com.
A vacation in New York State is truly an unforgettable experience, with more than 20 state and national scenic byways to explore.
The High Peaks Byway is great for exploring the outdoors of the Adirondacks Region and Lake Placid. The Adirondack High Peaks are 46 mountain peaks towering over 1,200 metres high, and Lake Placid has hosted two Winter Olympic Games.
The Adirondack Trail runs from Fonda, just below the southern border of the Adirondack Park, to Malone, which lies a few miles south of Canada.
Blue Mountain Lake is home to various artisan gift stores and the nationally-acclaimed Adirondack Museum, while the Adirondacks Lakes Center for the Arts offers a colourful array of concerts, theatre productions, films, gallery exhibits and workshops.
Alternatively, check out the state’s new ‘Path Through History’ routes, which help visitors discover, understand and experience New York’s amazing past.
Created to showcase the state’s unparalleled network of museums and historic sites, route themes include: Civil rights, the revolutionary war, presidential history, the war of 1812, women’s rights, canals and transportation, sports history, immigration, natural history, Native American history, colonial history, arts and culture and innovation and commerce.
You can build your own Path Through History itinerary at http://paththroughhistory.ny.gov.
Top 5 Sights:
• Mount Marcy
• Olympic Bobsled Run & Olympic Ski Jumping Complex
• High Falls Gorge
• Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway
• Main Street Lake Placid
Where To Stay: Whiteface Lodge in Lake Placid, Dartbrook Lodge in Keene, Alpine Country Inn & Suites in Wilmington, or the Roostercomb Inn in Keene Valley.
Best Breakfast: Saranac Sourdough in Lake Placid.
Best Lunch: Big Mountain Deli or the Creperie in Lake Placid.
Best Diner/Dive: Noonmark Diner in Keene.
More information: www.iloveny.com.
The Scenic Route 100 Byway chases the Green Mountains from the Canadian border to Massachusetts. The 221-kilometre Vermont section is known as one of the most scenic drives in New England, as it has an abundance of historic, cultural, scenic, natural, and recreational activities to discover.
In April, the Vermont Transportation Board formally approved the Scenic Route 100 Byway expansion, so it now encompasses some 20 towns. It is now Vermont’s second largest Byway, crisscrossing along the spine of the Green Mountains from the Mad River Byway to the Massachusetts’s border.
Top 5 Sights:
• Thundering Brook Falls
• Killington Peak Gondola
• President Calvin Coolidge’s Homestead
• Long Trail Hike
• Vermont Country Store in Weston
Where To Stay: Amee Farm in Pittsfield, Red Clover Inn or Killington Grand in Killington, and the Equinox Resort or the Reluctant Panther in Manchester.
Best Breakfast: Rochester Café & Country Store in Rochester, Johnny Boy’s Pancake House in Killington, or Maple Sugar and Vermont Spice in Mendon.
Best Lunch: Long Trail Brewery in Bridgewater.
Best Diner/Dive: The Perfect Wife in Manchester or the Downtown Grocery in Ludlow.
More information: www.vermontvacation.com.
Begin your tour by driving along Moose Alley to try out a whitewater river adventure in Milan.
Work your way south through Pinkham Notch into the White Mountain National Forest, and then wake up the next morning to sample the sales tax-free shopping in North Conway.
Drive to Meredith to explore the lakefront resort town, and then spend two days along the seacoast, allowing for a full day to explore the hip and historic downtown of Portsmouth and another full day to catch some rays on Hampton Beach.
On your way home, stop in Hanover, home of Dartmouth College.
Top 5 Sites:
• Le Rendez Vous Bakery, Colebrook
• North Woods Rafting, Milan
• Mount Washington Cruises, Lake Winnipesaukee
• Prescott Park Performances, Portsmouth
• The Fells Historic Estate, Newbury
Where To Stay: Residence Inn in North Conway, Hanover Inn in Hanover, or the Ashworth by the Sea in Hampton.
Best Breakfast: Kellerhaus in Laconia or Popovers in Portsmouth.
Best Lunch: At Bear Tree’s or Murphy Steakhouse in Pittsburg or Hattie Evans Dining Car on the Conway Scenic Railroad.
Best Diner/Dive: 104 Diner in New Hampton, Gilley’s PM Lunch in Portsmouth, or the Red Arrow Diner in Manchester.
More information: www.visitnh.gov.
Maine Office of Tourism
Maine has a rich cultural and historic heritage clearly demonstrated throughout the Kennebec Chaudière Heritage Corridor, which stretches 368 kilometres from Popham Beach to Quebec City along Old Canada Road National Scenic Byway.
Two river valleys help form this corridor, the Kennebec and Chaudière. The stretch of land along the rivers offers visitors an unparalleled cultural experience from the undisturbed wilderness in Jackman, to the coastal Merrymeeting Bay.
The more adventurous should try whitewater rafting at Northern Outdoors Adventure Resort in The Forks.
Top 5 Sights:
• Maine Maritime Museum, Bath
• Kennebec Chaudière Hallowell Turnout
• Maine State Museum, Augusta
• South Solon Meeting House, South Solon
• Moxie Falls, The Forks
Where To Stay: The Inn at Bath in Bath or Northern Outdoors at The Forks.
Best Breakfast: Mae’s Café & Bakery, Bath.
Best Lunch: Kennebec River Brewery & Pub.
Best Diner/Dive: A1 Diner in Gardiner.
More information: www.visitmaine.com.
Enter Virginia via the I-81 and head to Front Royal, where you can enter Shenandoah National Park.
Here the Skyline Drive weaves south for 168 kilometres across the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Breathtaking scenery awaits around every turn, and the park boasts a variety of native wildlife, such as white-tail deer and black bears. Stop at the Visitor Center at Big Meadow Wayside, milepost 51, for an overview of all the activities the park offers.
Near Waynesboro the Skyline Drive joins the Blue Ridge Parkway, which continues south with more outstanding scenic vistas.
The Parkway crosses The Crooked Road, Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail. Follow the Crooked Road to explore the history of old-time and country music and meet talented local musicians.
Top 5 Sights:
• Luray Caverns
• The Cascades Golf Course at the Homestead
• Center in the Square, Roanoke
Where To Stay: Skyland Resort in the Shenandoah National Park, Mimsyln Inn in Luray, Doughat State Park in Millboro, Hotel Roanoke in Roanoke, or the Hotel Floyd in Floyd.
Best Breakfast: Gospel Brunch at Heartwood in Abingdon or the Lexington Restaurant in Lexington.
Best Lunch: Burger Bar in Bristol, Big Meadows Lodge in the Shenandoah National Park, or the Galax Smokehouse in Galax.
Best Diner/Dive: Cuz’s Uptown Barbecue in Pounding Mill or the Greenwood Family Restaurant in Troutville.
More information: www.virginia.org.