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How to road trip the Midwest on a budget

By Amy Lynch
May 28, 2021
St Louis Arch
People who’ve never really considered a visit to “Flyover Country” usually find themselves pleasantly surprised — and sometimes even downright shocked — by just how much there is to see, do and experience in the great American Midwest, often for free.

Defined by wide-open swathes of farmland, friendly small towns and attractive urban cities (not to mention the bonus of much lower prices for gas and lodging than you’d expect to pay on the coasts), this down-to-earth territory holds all the makings of a memorable road trip.

St. Louis, Missouri

With affordable attractions, tasty food and river city culture, St. Louis makes a great starting point to kick off a Midwestern road trip. At 630ft, the iconic Gateway Arch is required viewing, and America’s tallest man-made monument. The CityArchRiver project recently revamped the land that surrounds the landmark, updating facilities and adding green space and bike trails. Take the tram ride to the top for the best bird’s eye view in town, or catch a ride to cruise the mighty Mississippi on a paddlewheel-powered riverboat (snagging an America the Beautiful Pass will save you a few bucks on ticket prices). During baseball season, Busch Stadium and Ballpark Village come alive with avid Cardinals fans rooting for the home team. Even if you’re not attending the game, the sports energy in town is contagious.

Site of the 1904 World’s Fair, 1300-acre Forest Park is a one-stop cultural cache that includes museums, a zoo, a science center, a greenhouse, lakes and pedestrian paths — all free to access. There’s no charge to tour the historic Anheuser-Busch Brewery grounds and admire the Budweiser Clydesdales either. After exploring, sample some classic fried ravioli at any of the old-school Italian restaurants on the Hill and order up some ice cream or frozen custard at Ted Drewe’s.

See the full list: 51 affordable discoveries across America 2020

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Hop on Route 66 to get your kicks © Flash Parker / Moment / Getty


Route 66 Heritage Project, Illinois

Get your kicks! Gearing up to celebrate its centennial in 2026, America’s Mother Road accounts for 300 miles of scenic byway on its Central Illinois leg between St. Louis and Chicago, (running 2,400 all told out to California). Meet up with Route 66 by crossing the Mississippi River at the Chain of Rocks Bridge and make a day of it heading northeast to take in the scenery through Litchfield, Springfield, Bloomington/Normal and Pontiac.

Commemorate the journey by snapping selfies against Americana-rich backdrops like the 30ft Gemini Giant at Wilmington’s Launching Pad drive-in, Paul Bunyon holding a hot dog in Atlanta and the Joliet Correctional Center where Jake and Elwood served time in the Blues Brothers. Hole up in a mom-and-pop motel if you need a break from the long day of driving, and keep your own motor running with a pit stop to refuel at Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket in Willowbrook.

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A mix of museums and public art await you in Chicago © roman_slavik / Shutterstock


Chicago, IL

Route 66 ultimately deposits travelers in Chicago at the end of the road. A two-time World’s Fair host, the Windy City delivers a winning combination of history, sports, food and culture, inviting visitors to stick around and explore for as long as they like. Take your pick of Museum Campus attractions like the Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium and the Field Museum, then venture north up Michigan Avenue to the renowned Art Institute of Chicago. Hot tip: a CityPASS packages these and a couple other top attractions to save visitors 50% on premium admission prices across the board.

After strolling through Millennium Park and taking a few photos at the Bean, take a spin on the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier and window-shop your way up the Magnificent Mile. Chicago boasts a strong theater community with performing arts showcases, concerts and events happening every night of the week, often with last-minute or day-of ticket discounts available. You definitely won’t lack for great eats, whether you opt to indulge in affordable local favorites like deep-dish pizza, Chicago-style hot dogs and global cuisine galore, or splurge on a high-end meal at one of the city’s finest dining establishments.

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Milwaukee is a former Rust Belt city with a under-the-radar food and drink scene © Visit Milwaukee / JMKE Photography


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

From Chicago, it’s just a quick 90-minute journey north up I-94/I-41 to Milwaukee, a town that manages to stay humble while still impressing visitors with its style and substance. The Harley-Davidson Museum is a pilgrimage destination for legions of brand-loyal customers. After a visit, learn all about the city’s beer heritage with a tour of Miller Brewery or Sprecher Brewery. You’ll need something to eat, and wholesome dairy is what’s on the menu (this is Wisconsin, after all), namely in the form of cheese curds, butter burgers and frozen custard. Milwaukee’s Public Market in the Third Ward offers a one-stop opportunity to sample it all under one roof.

When the weather’s nice, the river and lakefront encourage locals and visitors to get outside and enjoy some water recreation. Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Art Museum (the Santiago Calatrava-designed “wings” that fan open and shut twice a day are a free show in and of themselves), a reputable repertory theater and a rocking roster of summer festivals keep Milwaukee solidly rooted in the arts. At the end of the day, the historic (and haunted?) Pfister Hotel proposes stylish confines in which to rest your weary head.

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Visiting Lambeau Field packed with Green Bay fans is an experience like nothing else © Brenda Spaude


Green Bay, Wisconsin

Keep on trucking up I-43 for about two hours and join “the Pack” in Green Bay, Wisconsin’s oldest settled community where pro football reigns supreme. Don some green and yellow to show your loyalty for raucous tailgating at the 80,000+ seat Lambeau Field; the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, tours of the stadium and the Titletown entertainment district next door are available all year long.

Sports aren’t the only attraction here, though — breathtaking hiking territory abounds with landscapes that show off dolomite cliffs, waterfalls and beachfronts. Made from hearty stock, Green Bay residents don’t shy away from the long cold winters, opting instead to make the most of the season with ice skating, tubing, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. You can always thaw out in front of any of the local restaurants, cafes and brewpubs that feature cozy fireplaces. Or, belly up to a local bar for a good old traditional Friday-night Wisconsin fish fry.

Duluth, Minnesota

It’s a five-hour jaunt across S.R. 29 to Chippewa Falls and then up US 53 over the Minnesota state line into Duluth. Along the idyllic banks of Lake Superior, the great outdoors are alive and well here, especially during the fall when the Northwoods foliage bursts into spectacular shades of burnished orange, red and gold. Settled by the Sioux and Chippewa tribes, the city now serves as entrance to the North Shore Scenic Drive that runs 154 miles up to Grand Portage, just shy of the Canadian border.

The Aerial Lift Bridge is Duluth’s crown-jewel landmark, raising and lowering nearly two dozen times each day to accommodate the passage of ships and boats traveling into and out of the harbor. The Canal Park district appeals to visitors with charming local restaurants to frequent and the Lakewalk to wander.

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Gooseberry Falls is one of Minnesota's best parks © Explore Minnesota / Micah Kvidt


Gooseberry Falls State Park, Minnesota

From Duluth, follow the North Shore Scenic Byway 40 miles northeast past glimpses of the lake, forests and rock formations to wind down the journey at Gooseberry Falls, one of Minnesota’s most stunning state parks.

Stretch your legs with a walk around the Falls View Loop to drink in the namesake Upper, Middle and Lower cascades. A slice of cherry crunch or French Silk at Betty’s Pies in nearby Two Harbors makes the perfect sweet finale.


You might also like:

Midwest travel ideas: 8 under-the-radar destinations to visit in America’s Heartland
How to road-trip Canada on a budget
Audiobooks to narrate your US road trip


Produced by Budget Travel for GEICO. All editorial views are those of Budget Travel alone and reflect our policy of editorial independence and impartiality.

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Road Trips

How to road trip New England on a budget

The United States start in these six rugged states. And when British explorer Captain John Smith explored New England’s shores in the early 1600s, he grasped the charm and resilience of his surroundings – and officially made it the birthplace of a nation. Of course, in addition to all its fascinating history, this northeast corner of the country is a hotbed of beautiful nature, culture and family-friendly entertainment – encompassing a spectacular culinary scene and a wide variety of affordable accommodations to discover and enjoy. Want to spend more time exploring this diverse and distinct region? Here’s a blueprint to a reasonably priced road trip in New England – from Portland, Maine, to Mystic, Connecticut. From winding trails of the Appalachian Mountains, including eight mountains over 14,000ft in elevation, to the splendor of New Hampshire’s wild coastlines, you won’t have to miss a thing. Portland, Maine Come for the lobster, stay for… well, everything else. Portland might be Maine’s largest city, but you’ll be able to appreciate the craggy shorelines and secluded beaches as well as the preservation of the historic, yet quaint, Old Port district. The stunningly well-kept Portland Head Light is the oldest lighthouse in the state and is surrounded by the 90-acre Fort Williams Park, where you can hike, bike, picnic or sit by the beach. See the full list: 51 affordable discoveries across America 2020 Ready for some culture? The Tate House Museum whisks you to Maine’s pre-revolutionary times, and the Portland Museum of Art, founded in 1882, is sprawled over three buildings – one designed by the late “starchitect” I.M. Pei. The dining scene is vibrant, and you can indulge in inventive small plates at Central Provisions, where most entrees are under $15, and $6 craft cocktails at the Portland Hunt + Alpine Club’s Happy Hour. Of course, if its seafood you’re after, don’t miss the brown butter lobster roll at Eventide Oyster Co. The Press Hotel offers fun, boutique accommodations in the same building which housed the Portland Press Herald until the newspaper moved offices in 2010. Maine's High Peaks Region is stunning at any time of year, but during the fall it really shines © Holcy / iStock / Getty Images Plus High Peaks Region, Maine Just over two hours’ drive from Portland along I-295 is this stunning, family-friendly destination with 10 mountain peaks over 4000ft. Perfect in any season, you’ll also be dazzled by its glacial lakes and clear rivers. If you want a scenic drive, take some time to tour its scenic byways, like High Peaks and Grafton Notch, which will give you a quicker way to view the spectacular surrounding mountains. Water sports include pontoon boat rides, fly fishing, kayaking and swimming – though it’s also well known for its ski resorts, Sugarloaf and Saddleback Mountain. The town of Stratton is the perfect place to refuel and relax, and you can grab some comforting yet inexpensive options at the Looney Moose Café or head for burgers at the White Wolf Inn and Restaurant. The Mountain View Motel offers cozy rooms with full kitchen, and even allows furry friends to join you on your adventures. Though there is a lack of amenities, like a pool or restaurant, this motel makes up for it by offering gorgeous views and super-low room rates. Bucolic lakes and cottages await you in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom © DenisTangneyJr / E+ / Getty Northeast Kingdom, Vermont Head westward on State Route 16 to enter this out-of-the-way, northernmost region of Vermont. Shimmied up against the Canadian border and the upper Connecticut River, it’s known for its peaceful splendor. Taking up approximately one-fifth of the land and over a quarter of The Green Mountain State, you can explore its over 200 lakes and ponds while also appreciating the accompanying dense forests and eight state parks. Bikers, hikers and backpackers flock to this region to hit the Kingdom Heritage Trail system, which includes the Bluff Mountain Community and Gore Mountain Trail, while other adventure seekers might head to gape at Troy’s Big Falls, a monstrous undammed waterfall which includes a sheer cliff face of over 80ft. Burke Mountain offers downhill and cross-country skiing with over 200 inches of annual snowfall as well as views of the geologically profound Willoughby Gap (kids ski free in March). Country cooking is on the menu at the Peacham Café, housed in a former firehouse while the more seasonal Mike’s Tiki Bar offers cocktails and 30 beers on tap under its thatched roof, with hearty grub from partner Vermont Food Truck as an accompaniment. For budget travelers, the Willoughvale Inn and Cottages offers calm, stunning landscapes and a little history, with its accommodations named after historical figures and places, like The Robert Frost suite or The Songadeewin Lakeview Cottage. New Hampshire's diminutive coastline packs many surprises © mountinez / iStock / Getty Images Plus Seacoast and Portsmouth, New Hampshire From the Northeast Kingdom, head southbound on I-93, swinging left in Manchester, New Hampshire, to arrive at this state’s miniscule coastline. Enjoying an intoxicating mix of culture and maritime activities, this region straddles Maine and includes ownership of the Isles of Shoals and Star Islands. The entire Seacoast region covers 18 miles of the Atlantic Ocean, but head to Hampton Beach for family fun as well as a dazzling white-sand beach. Don’t want to go too far to lay your head? Room at Ashworth by the Sea, run under $150 a night, and the property features a heated pool with retractable roof to keep the kids happy as well as three different restaurants for breakfast, lunch, dinner and cocktails. Portsmouth, near the mouth of the Piscataqua River, is the country’s third oldest city and is an excellent jumping-off point for the living history of the Strawbery Banke Museum, the American Independence Museum and the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire. The dining scene is varied and abundant, and you can enjoy a more upscale, locally sourced meal at the Black Trumpet Bistro or head to Ceres Bakery for an affordable, casual selection of soup, salad, sandwiches and an array of homemade pastries. Stay at the lovingly renovated Hotel Portsmouth, a former 1881 mansion with vintage charm and free continental breakfast. Falmouth is sometimes overlooked on a trip to Cape Cod, but it's worth a stop © Kenneth Wiedemann / E+ / Getty Falmouth, Massachusetts Take I-495 southbound to loop around Boston (or stop in for a bit if you have the time) and arrive in Cape Cod and the pretty little town of Falmouth, Massachusetts. This official Preserve America community was also the residence of Katharine Lee Bates, the author of treasured tune, “America the Beautiful.” History aside, this serene corner of southwest Cape Cod is also home to over 70 miles of ocean shores, eight distinct villages and the Shining Sea Bike Path, with nearly 11 miles spanning farms, ponds, cranberry bogs and even salt marshes, spitting you into the village of Woods Hole. Here, you can not only catch the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard, but also tour the marine science facilities and aquarium at the world-famous Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Head to Old Silver Beach for swimming in the calm, blue waters and views of Buzzards Bay and stay for the summer seafood dinners and vibrant sunsets at the beachfront Sea Crest Beach Hotel. Falmouth also offers further budget accommodations at Admiralty Inn & Suites and The Red Horse Inn, both of which have rooms for under $100 per night. Even if you've had your fill of lighthouses by now, you can never get enough fiery sunsets © Shobeir Ansari © Moment / Getty Narragansett, Rhode Island Trace the coastline westbound to arrive at this quaint and quirky seaside surf destination in Rhode Island, which offers access to smaller state park beaches like Roger Wheeler and Salty Brine. There you can watch the boats and local fishers, as well as the reliably vigorous waves of Narragansett Town Beach. Take a surf lesson from Warm Winds Surf Shop or just relax on the sand – or hop on the Block Island Ferry to do a little maritime exploring, including the Point Judith Light, a working lighthouse built in 1857. Because this is New England, historical landmarks abound and you can visit the 23ft Narragansett Indian Monument, carved from a single Douglas fir tree on Kingstown Road. To fully appreciate your surroundings here, tuck into the local seafood , and Aunt Carrie’s is known for its golden fried clam cakes ($5 for a half dozen) and chowders. The Anchor Motel is a budget-friendly choice, with 15 rooms directly across from Scarborough State Beach. Mystic Seaport is a great stop for families © Photo by Brian T. Evans / Moment / Getty Mystic Seaport, Connecticut No, cult favorite coming-of-age flick Mystic Pizza wasn’t actually filmed at its namesake restaurant in this sweet, seaside hamlet less than an hour west of Narragansett on US Route 1. But if you pop in for a slice and a selfie, you won’t want to miss the rest of this village situated along the Mystic River. Bluff Point State Park is home to over 800 acres of lush land for hiking, biking and fishing, and the historic district straddling the river has something for everyone, including the still-working Bascule Bridge built in 1920. The popular Mystic Aquarium was recently certified by the American Humane Conservation and makes a welcome home to sea lions, penguins and even sharks, while the Mystic Seaport Museum concentrates more on history, with a working preservation shipyard and recreated 19th-century village to explore. Ford’s Lobster is an affordable, BYOB treasure on the water, featuring fresh lobsters as well as lobster roll and lobster bisque. Stay at The Whaler’s Inn in downtown Mystic, comprised of five different buildings, each housing rooms and suites with a nautical theme. Produced by Lonely Planet for GEICO. All editorial views are those of Lonely Planet alone and reflect our policy of editorial independence and impartiality.

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Road Trips

6 road trips stops along the underrated Gulf Coast

On a recent road trip with my family from Pensacola, Florida, west along Interstate-10 through Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, I got a taste of all I’ve been missing out on in the Gulf Coast. I’m pretty sure this stretch of Interstate-10 and the backroads branching off make for the the most underrated road trip in the South. Read on for a six great stops to make during a road trip along the surprising Gulf Coast. ALABAMA Meet sloths and lemurs at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo There is so much to love at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo in Gulf Shores, Alabama, it’s hard to know where to start. Dubbed “The little zoo that could” for how it’s survived three major hurricanes (and now the pandemic, too), this beautiful and largely open-air facility offers phenomenal animal encounters you hardly find everywhere, including the chance to hand-feed sloths for just $19.95 per person (in addition to zoo admission, which is $19.95 for adults and $14.95 for kids ages 3 to 12). Whatever you do, don’t miss the zoo’s butterfly exhibit, featuring a jaw-dropping collection donated by a local resident that’s housed inside a room designed to look like a field research tent. Hundreds of incredible butterflies and moths (some with patterns on their wings that look just like snake heads, to scare off predators) are the stuff of pure wonder. Even if you’re not visiting the zoo itself, you can still have lunch on a spacious deck overlooking the grounds at The Safari Club (no zoo admission required), where a menu of delicious wood-fired pizzas, Gulf Coast seafood and more awaits. For a bike ride through Gulf State Park, Alabama Home to bobcats, bald eagles, alligators, owls and many more animals, Gulf State Park (free admission) has 28 miles of paved trails and boardwalks that are a blast to explore by bicycle. The park even has a free bike share program you can access with your smartphone. And you can rent tandem bikes and trailers for pulling kids along the trails, too, through Beach Bike Rentals in Orange Beach, Alabama (all rentals come with helmet and locks, starting from $25 for the day). When you’re not paddling through the coastal habitats, make time to relax at Gulf State Park’s two miles of white sand beaches and check out the Gulf State Park Campground, one of the best places to put up a tent or pull in with an RV in the state. Shrimp boats at sunset. Credit: Coastal Mississippi. MISSISSIPPI Hang out in the adorable town of Ocean Springs, Mississippi Continuing west along Interstate-10 into Mississippi, plan to spend a night or longer in the adorable coastal town of Ocean Springs, where a stay at the new-in-2020 Beatnik hotel (rooms from $157 per night) is nothing short of revelatory. The property has just four cabins decorated in mid-century boho style, each with a private patio complete an outdoor shower and hammock. There’s a communal plunge pool and fire pit, too, where guess gather for socially-distanced drinks at sunset. Stroll along Front Beach, the town’s small sandy beach, or visit the many outdoor galleries and cafes in Ocean Springs’ compact downtown. The best spot for a delicious and budget-minded breakfast is undoubtedly The Greenhouse on Porter, right next to the Beatnik, with heavenly housemade biscuits slathered with honey butter. Mississippi Aquarium Brand new in August 2020, the Mississippi Aquarium (admission $29.95 per person, $24.95 for kids ages 3 to 12) in Gulfport houses over 200 species of animals and native plants within indoor and outdoor exhibition areas overlooking the Mississippi Sound in downtown Gulfport. Among the many interesting animals you can see here are bottlenose dolphins, cow nose rays, American crocodiles and green-winged doves. Visitors age 10 and older can even get into the water with SeaTREK ($79.95 per person), a two-hour experience during which you don a helmet and enter one of the aquarium’s habitats to see fish, sharks and rays upclose from a perspective that’s similar to a scuba diver’s vantage point. LOUISIANA Go deep into Honey Island Swamp on a bayou tour with Cajun Encounters in Slidell, Louisiana This Florida girl got an education on the difference between the Everglades and freshwater bayou habitats during a fascinating tour by boat into Honey Island Swamp in Louisiana’s St. Tammany Parish with Cajun Encounters (from $57.50 per person, $37.50 for kids ages 3 to 12). We spotted wild boars sloshing around the bald cypress tree-filled bayou (essentially a flooded forest, as the guide explained it), learned all about the mythical bayou swamp monster called Letiche and even visited a floating village that looked like something straight from a Swamp People episode. Private and group tours are available. Take a family-friendly hike with Canoe and Trail Adventures in Covington, Louisiana Prefer to stay on dry land when exploring the bayou? A Louisiana Master Naturalist is your guide during hikes that can be as easy or adventurous as you like with Canoe and Trail Adventures in Covington, Louisiana (the company also offers paddling tours and canoe and kayak rentals). I loved exploring trails maintained by local Boy Scouts troops at Northlake Nature Center with our guide, Chad Almquist, who showed my kids how to scoop up crawfish and tiny minnows using nets in the shallow bayou waters. Our hike led us along boardwalks and trails through wetlands and hardwood forests where we scouted for salamanders under rocks and spotted native birds (private tours from $49 per person).

Road Trips

3 rad road trips to visit Utah’s best state parks

With so many spectacular national parks in Utah, its state parks are often overlooked. But don't sleep on them, Utah is one of the most beautiful states in America!To help you in your quest to visit these under-appreciated areas, we’ve gathered basic itineraries for three road trips that take you to 11 of Utah’s best state parks. Remember to do research ahead of time if you’re traveling during the era of COVID-19. Not all visitor centers may be open, and typical gear rental options may not be available. Wasatch Mountain. Photo by Ken Lund, Flickr Creative Commons License. Road Trip #1: Antelope Island, Wasatch Mountain, and Millsite Often, red rocks are the only thing associated with Utah’s nature scene, but this landscape is only one part of what Utah offers. Embark on this three-day road trip to see what we mean. Parks on Road Trip #1 Day 1: Antelope Island State Park After entering the park, hike the 1-mile Buffalo Point Trail, stopping to soak in views of Antelope Island and the Great Salt Lake. Once you’ve worked up a sweat, head down to take a dip at Bridger Bay Beach. After you’re done bobbing around in the salty water, drive the rest of the park's road. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for large animals such as bison, pronghorn, mule deer, and bighorn sheep. Day 2: Wasatch Mountain State Park Distance from Antelope Island: 1 hour, 30 minutes Hike the 6.1-mile trail to Lake Mary via Catherine Pass. Just be sure to get an early start and have a backup plan for parking as this is a popular trail. If you’re comfortable with adding on less than a mile, take two detours to visit Lake Catherine and Lake Martha while you’re on the trail. Day 3: Millsite State Park Distance from Wasatch Mountain: 3 hours Bring your water vessel of choice for a phenomenal day of paddling on the beautiful waters of the Millsite Reservoir. With stunning views all around, you won’t want to get out of the water. Dead Horse Point State Park. Photo by Fabio Achilli. Flickr Creative Commons lIcense. Road Trip #2: Goblin Valley, Dead Horse Point, Edge of the Cedars, and Goosenecks This three-day road trip showcases both the natural and cultural resources Utah has to offer by delivering otherworldly views and teaching you about Anasazi history. Parks on Road Trip #2 Day 1: Goblin Valley State Park Venture to another planet on your first stop of this road trip. Goblin Valley State Park transports you to Mars as you hike among astonishing sandstone formations. Explore the Valley of Goblins, a free-roaming area without trails. Once you’re ready for a slight change in scenery, head to the campground with a frisbee (or rent one) to play on one of the most unique 9-hole disc golf courses you’ll ever find. Day 2: Dead Horse Point State Park Distance from Goblin Valley: 1 hour, 45 minutes This often-forgotten Moab state park offers similar views to Canyonlands National Park with far fewer visitors to share them with. Complete the 5-mile loop on the rim to hit as many scenic overlooks as possible. Day 3, Part 1: Edge of the Cedars State Park Distance from Dead Horse Point: 2 hours At this park, you’ll step away from the focus on natural resources and turn your attention towards history and culture instead. Edge of the Cedars State Park includes a museum housing fascinating exhibits such as an incredible collection of Ancestral Puebloan pottery. After you’ve finished exploring the museum, gain a better understanding of how people used to live there by wandering the ruins outside. You even have the opportunity to enter a 1,000-year-old kiva! Day 3, Part 2: Goosenecks State Park Distance from Edge of the Cedars: 1 hour After you’ve finished exploring Edge of the Cedars, take the short drive to Goosenecks State Park. Goosenecks is an interesting park in that it does not hold any hiking or biking trails within its boundaries. This means it’s best to simply enjoy the park via an overlook accessed by your vehicle. Bring a picnic to extend your time spent watching the San Juan River carving the rock below. Kodachrome Basin State Park. Photo by Jeff Hollett, Flicker creative commons license. Road Trip #3: Escalante Petrified Forest, Kodachrome Basin, Coral Pink Sand Dunes, and Snow Canyon This four-day road trip incorporates quite a few unique activities in Southern Utah, including sandboarding, geocaching, and hiking inside lava tubes! Parks on Road Trip #3 Day 1: Escalante Petrified Forest State Park After stopping by the visitor’s center to learn about petrified wood and how it’s formed, take a stroll through the park to see this magnificent phenomenon with your own eyes. A 2-mile trail combining the Petrified Forest Trail and the Sleeping Rainbows Trail will take you through lava flows and oodles of petrified wood. Day 2: Kodachrome Basin State Park Distance from Escalante Petrified Forest: 1 hour Explore the towering spires of Kodachrome Basin State Park by foot! The park has put together a geocache challenge that takes you on four trails. GPS coordinates for this challenge are found on Kodachrome Basin’s website. Save the geocache located on the Cool Cave loop for last so you can traverse the rest of the 6-mile Panorama Trail loop if you have the time (and energy). Day 3: Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park Distance from Kodachrome Basin: 2 hours Bring along (or rent) a sled or snowboard to shred some sand in this wild landscape of sand dunes. Once you’re ready for a change of activity, go explore the dunes on foot! Just be sure to stay aware of ATVs as off-roading is a popular activity in the park. Day 4: Snow Canyon State Park Distance from Coral Pink Sand Dunes: 1 hour, 30 minutes Finish up your road trip with a long day of two hikes at Snow Canyon State Park. The first is the 4.8-mile Snow Canyon Overlook Trail, one that rewards you with a remarkable view at the end. The second is the 2.3-mile Lava Tube Trail, one offering the rare experience of meandering through–you guessed it–lava tubes! We hope these itineraries help you explore some of the lesser-known areas of an absolutely phenomenal state. Be sure to let us know in the comments which road trip you’d go on and whether we missed any of your favorite Utah state parks!

Road Trips

How to make your car road-trip ready

This content is sponsored byAre you ready? Not so fast. More than 60 percent of American families hit the road on vacation, and an estimated four out of 10 drivers are unprepared for emergency breakdowns The top reasons for roadside emergencies are fairly predictable: Are you one of the two-thirds of American drivers who don’t test their car batteries? Are you the one in five who has no idea how to change a tire? Are you one of the four in 10 who don’t carry an emergency kit onboard? Here’s how to ensure your next road trip goes off without a hitch. 1. Give your car a checkup You know the drill: Schedule a maintenance checkup in advance of your trip. Check the oil, fluid levels, battery, and tires. Make sure you have air in your spare tire. Sure, this seems obvious, but chances are you haven't done it yet, right? Keep a basic car care kit in your automobile © Getty Images 2. Carry an emergency kit Auto science is not rocket science: Pack a mobile phone and charger that can plug into your car, a flashlight (with fresh batteries and backups), a first-aid kit, a basic tool kit (including tire-pressure gauge and adjustable wrench), windshield wiper fluid, jumper cables, emergency flares or reflectors, drinking water, and snacks for both humans and pets. Assembling an emergency kit may seem like a hassle. You know what’s an even bigger hassle? Being stuck on the side of the road without any of the things on this list. Set good habits to keep your keys where you need them © Getty Images 3. Don’t get locked out Carry extra car keys, take a moment to grab your keys before exiting the car, and check the batteries on keyless-entry remotes and smart keys and keep them protected from water and other hazards. Some drivers find establishing consistent car-key habits (you might even call them rituals) helps them keep track of their keys. For instance: Always store keys in the same place, say the word ‘keys’ out loud before leaving your vehicle, and change batteries on remotes at the beginning and end of Daylight Saving Time. Make sure your car insurance is up to date © Getty Images 4. Audit your insurance Double check your car insurance to make sure you have a printed copy of your policy and you are up to date on payments. Nobody wants to get in an accident far from home without the proper insurance. You could save 15 percent or more on car insurance by switching to GEICO. SPONSORED BY Carefully crafted collaboratively between GEICO, Lonely Planet, and Budget Travel. Both parties provided research and curated content to produce this story. We disclose when information isn’t ours.

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