Updated December 22, 2016
Road trip destination ideas abound. With so many places to go and things to do, selecting a place to travel to can be difficult. Here are some ways to help narrow the choices for your next adventure, escape, travel tour or vacation.
1. Start a collection. Save photos, brochures and clippings of road trip destinations and place them in a shoe box, file folder or envelope; or make a collage, art with a purpose, a work in progress, and hang it on a wall. Designate a pin board for the destination collection. Include notes, magazine articles, print outs, maps and calendars of events. Collect activities to do, places to see, local attractions, restaurant and lodging reviews, and maps. Group the collection together in logical arrangements to determine road trip possibilities.
2. Follow a river. Start at the source and follow the river to its confluence. Experience everything along the way.
3. Play a game. Secure a state, country, or regional map to a flat surface. Spin a top, toss a penny, throw a dart or play pin the tail on the map; where it lands, determines the destination.
4. Make a lofty goal. Visit all the cities, towns, villages or hamlets in your state, province or country.
5. Reenact a journey from your favorite novel.
6. Pick a keyword. Do an online search for the keyword or keyword phrase related to “road trip”. Decide to pick the 7th result from the search as the destination of choice.
7. Open a coffee table book. Many coffee table books, filled with beautiful photographs, are full of places to see and things to do.
8. Celebrate your favorite culture. Choose a road trip destination that best resonates the culture you wish to experience. Can’t afford France? Experience New Orleans instead. Is China out of your budget? Visit China town in Vancouver B.C., New York City or San Francisco.
9. Go to the library. Peruse travel books and magazines for road trip destinations.
10. Be adventurous. From the highest point, for example, mountain top or skyscraper, look around, choose the most hidden place or most eye-catching feature as the destination for the next road trip. Will it be a canyon, river, city or hidden treasure?
11. Get inspired. Google Images, Instagram and Pinterest are chock full of stunning travel photography and road trip destination ideas.
12. Tackle the bucket list. Choose the most compelling destination and combine it with other items on the list to create a special road trip.
13. Choose a theme. Party supply stores and travel websites, such as RoadTripExplore.com, are great places to generate theme based road trip destination ideas.
14. Hit the highway. Choose a starting point and travel to the end of the road. Enjoy everything along the way. Renowned highway road trips in the USA include vintage Route 66 and scenic Hwy. 101 on the West Coast.
15. Have a great aspiration. See all the states, provinces or regions in your country; or greater still, visit all the countries on your continent. Do this over the course of your lifetime.
17. Play more games. Can’t decide between several destinations? Write each destination on a small piece of paper and fold it in half. Place papers in a hat or bag. From the hat or bag, pull out one piece of paper. Voile; your destination! Variations might be tossing a coin to determine between two destination ideas, or draw straws.
18. Pack up and go. Choose a direction rather than a destination. See where it leads and enjoy the spontaneous along the way.
19. Ask yourself a tough question. If this were the last day in your life at what road trip destination would you want to spend it?
20. Keep a running list. Note destination ideas, paste on photos, staple on brochures and clippings of destinations, activities, attractions, restaurants, lodging leads and parks to visit. Make an electronic running list with links to ideas and save it on a cell phone or other personal electronic device. I keep a paper list in my planner and put my collection of clippings, photos, etc. in a file folder.
21. Join an online road trip forum. Connect with other road trip aficionados who can personally recommend a great destination.
22. Feast on your favorite cuisine. Experience the aroma, décor and tastes of your favorite foods. Road trip heaven! Tour wine country or farmers’ markets; let chocolate lead you to new places, or experience BBQ culture.
23. Explore back roads. Off highway are some of the most spectacular vistas and priceless memories to be had; more so off pavement.
24. Step back in time. Take an historical road trip; retrace old wagon trails west, visit historical sites and museums, recreate an epic journey, or attend historical reenactments.
25. Visit parks. Amusement parks, state parks and National Parks make great road trip destinations.
26. Indulge in your favorite thing. Do you enjoy birds? Do a mini “Big Year”, road trip style. If waterfalls are your thing, many travel destinations feature breathtaking water scenery. Hunt for specimen to add to your collection, catch the granddaddy of all fish or shoot class 4 rapids; all ideas from which to find scintillating road trip destinations.
27. Trek settings from your favorite movie. “True Grit”, starring John Wayne, was filmed near wild Telluride, Colorado. “North by Northwest”, an Alfred Hitchcock thriller, starring James Stewart and Eva Marie Saint, was filmed at the picturesque Mt. Rushmore National Park. Follow “Thelma and Louise”, starring Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis and Brad Pitt, on a scenic journey from Arkansas to Utah.
28. Ask your friends, family or a stranger. What road trip would they take? Where would they go? What would they see and do?
29. Have a staycation. Make home the lodging of choice, your destination, and venture forth on a series of day trips.
30. Get a travel guidebook. Consult online trip advisors, such as, AAA, Fodor’s and Moon Travel, or purchase travel guides. Many travel authorities have pre-planned road trip packages available. Use travel guides as inspirational material from which to develop your own road trip.