Summer is the perfect time to hit the pavement and explore new places, and one of the most efficient–and fun–ways to cover a lot of ground is by embarking on a road trip. Here, Indagare rounds up our ten favorite driving routes, from the Patagonia wilderness to the dramatic Irish coast, with stops at iconic sites, gorgeous hotels and charming towns.
Contact Indagare for guidance planning a road trip with stays at our favorite properties along the way.
1. American West (6 – 8 days)
Start in Las Vegas and drive four hours to Amangiri, located in the southwestern corner of Utah. Surrounded by 100 acres of sand-hued canyons, Amangiri is a tranquil retreat for a few days of hiking, spa treatments and relaxation before heading off to the glorious Zion National Park. En route to Zion, stop at Buckskin Gulch for the Wire Pass hike, an incredibly scenic and lesser-known trek that leads through soaring, fire-red slot canyons. Drive into Zion through the East Entrance, which is jaw-droppingly scenic, and explore the majestic park. Then, head to Bryce Canyon, known for its other-worldly landscapes and colorful limestone rocks.
2. California Coast (4 days)
Spend a day in San Francisco, where you can dine on oysters at Swan Oyster Depot, sample gourmet treats at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market and tour the famous Asian Art Museum. The next morning, rent a car and head south on the road leading out of San Francisco that weaves through the fertile Santa Clara Valley, which is both a major tech hub and the artichoke capital of the world. Be sure to stop at Harley Farms Goat Dairy (205 North St., Pescadero) for its organic chèvre and goat’s milk beauty products. Take frequent breaks to soak up the views along the fabled Big Sur coastline—a gorgeous sweep of the Pacific Coast Highway—with stops in the charming towns of Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea. Summer travelers should note that a recent landslide has closed down a stretch of Big Sur’s Highway 1 south of Pfeiffer Canyon, so drivers will need to follow an alternate, inland route between Carmel-by-the-Sea and Cambria. Further south, stop in the exclusive beach colony of Santa Barbara before finishing your trip with a day of exploring in Los Angeles.
3. American South (4 – 6 days)
Begin your trip in one of America’s earliest and most elegant cities: Charleston, South Carolina. Tour a few historic homes, enjoy a drink at The Belmont and spend the night in the cozy Zero George before beginning your drive. About one-and-a-half hours from Charleston is beautiful Beaufort, the filming location of memorable movies like The Big Chill and Forrest Gump. About an hour’s drive from Beaufort brings you to The Inn at Palmetto Bluff, a dreamy waterfront hideaway that promises a mid-trip break of seclusion and serenity. Savannah, Georgia is less than an hour away, where you can sleep at the outlandish yet luxurious Mansion on Forsyth Park, shop for antiques and savor an old-fashioned ice cream soda at Leopold’s Ice Cream. End your trip about two hours south of Savannah in the Golden Isles of Georgia with a stay at the oceanfront Sea Island resort for golfing, fishing and relaxing on the beach.
4. Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way (3 – 5 days)
With its verdant landscapes, storybook villages, wind-whipped cliffs and grazing farm animals, Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way makes for an idyllic road trip. The route follows 1,500 miles of roads along the western coast of the country, stretching all the way from County Donegal in the north to County Cork in the east and snaking along County Clare’s picturesque coast. Enjoy stops to see the city of Galway, the fishing village of Ballyvaughan and the iconic Cliffs of Moher presiding mightily over the ocean. Extend your time in Ireland with an urban jaunt in Dublin or an elegant countryside retreat at Ballyfin or the recently renovated Ashford Castle.
5. Patagonia (7 – 10 days)
One of the most remote and unpopulated reaches on Earth, Patagonia spans Chile and Argentina. To experience Patagonia to the fullest, start on the Argentine side in El Calafate with a stay at Eolo lodge. Trek along the Perito Moreno Glacier before driving about four hours to Torres del Paine National Park, the iconic central region of Chilean Patagonia. From here, it’s about an hour to reach the luxurious Awasi Patagonia, where you can easily spend a week reconnecting with nature through excursions like hikes and horseback-riding.
6. New Zealand (7 – 10 days)
New Zealand’s South Island is a feast for the senses. Beginning in Christchurch, the scenic drive to Kaikoura takes about four hours and should be broken up with a long lunch at the beautiful Pegasus Winery. In Kaikoura, set sail on a popular whale watching excursion before driving two hours into the heart of New Zealand’s Marlborough wine region, where you can sample a wide selection of varietals. Further north, the seaside town of Picton serves as the gateway to the mystical river valleys of the Marlborough Sounds. For a taste of local culture, make the drive to Upper Moutere, a tiny community in the Tasman region where artisans open their homes, studios and farms to visitors. End your trip with a relaxing stay at nearby Edenhouse, an intimate country manor surrounded by glorious gardens and fruit orchards, and a day trip to Abel Tasman National Park, where the Indagare Bookings Team can arrange a boat charter along the coast.
7. Sicily (5 – 7 days)
Though driving times are shorter along the highways in Sicily, the best way to soak up the destination is to meander along the island’s smaller country roads. Start in the small town of Taormina, Sicily’s most well-known destination, and enjoy the breathtaking views from the majestic Grand Hotel Timeo or the more relaxed Villa Sant’Andrea. A 30- to 45-minute drive from Taormina brings you to the massive regional park punctuated by the Mount Etna volcano. From there, it’s about a two-hour drive to Syracuse, the first Greek settlement dating to 733 BC, and then relatively short drives to each of the late-Baroque hilltop towns of Noto, Modica and Ragusa, with their soaring cathedrals. Travelers in this region can also visit the ceramics town Caltagirone and the stunning Villa Romana del Casale, which contains the world’s most complex collection of Roman mosaics. From Caltagirone, a three-hour drive brings you to Palermo, the vibrant and crumbling capital with incredible churches, palazzi and atmospheric squares.
8. Southern France (5 – 7 days)
Those looking for a drive that combines history, culture and a hefty dose of glamour should tour Provence and the French Riviera. Start in Avignon, one of the most beautiful cities in the world with its magnificent Gothic Palace of the Popes and gorgeous mansions. It’s only an hour’s drive from Avignon to scenic Arles, the inspiration for Van Gogh’s sunflower paintings. Continue about one-and-a-half hours to Aix-en-Provence, a stroller’s paradise thanks to its ornate façades, carved stone fountains and lively cafés. Another hour on the road takes you to Cassis, a lovely seaside town with crystalline coves, pebble beaches and windswept umbrella pines. From Cassis, travel two hours to the charming harbor of St. Tropez, a jet-setter’s paradise with the allure of its natural beauty and celebratory joie de vivre. A two-hour drive along the cliffside highway leads to sun-soaked Cannes, where savvy travelers can enjoy sleek holistic spas and, of course, luxurious shops and beaches. End your coastal road trip in the seaside metropolis of Nice, just an hour’s drive east from Cannes.
9. Venice to Croatia and Slovenia (6 – 9 days)
Begin your European adventure in Venice, strolling along the Grand Canal, visiting famous cathedrals and enjoying incredible Italian feasts at restaurants like Da Fiore. Drive two-and-a-half hours from Venice to Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital and largest city. Enjoy two days of leisure in the walkable city, tasting local flavors at the open-air Central Market (Vodnikov trg), exploring medieval castles and topping-off your evening with a performance at the Slovenian National Opera and Ballet Theatre (Župančičeva ulica 1, 1000). From Ljubljana, it’s a five-hour drive to the ancient port city of Split, Croatia. Wander the southern end of Split to see the major landmarks, including the UNESCO World Heritage site Diocletian’s Palace, and end your night savoring Mediterranean cuisine on the spacious terrace at Paradigma. Drive three hours for the last leg of your trip to arrive in Dubrovnik for a sunset walk along the Old City’s fortified walls. Cap-off the week by basking in the calm, sapphire waters at Banje Beach.
10. Texas Art Trip (4 days)
A road trip is a great way to visit all of Texas’s exciting cultural hubs. Start in Dallas with a tour of the downtown arts district and a visit to the beautiful Nasher Sculpture Center, designed by Renzo Piano. Drive about three hours to the soulful Austin, where The Contemporary Austin hosts rotating art exhibitions in the Jones Center (700 Congress Ave) as well as its outpost at beautiful Laguna Gloria (3809 W 35th St.), which was inspired by the villas that line the shores of Lake Como. Continue less than two hours to San Antonio to view the Latin American art collection at the San Antonio Museum of Art (200 W Jones Ave), the modern art and sculpture gardens at the McNay Art Museum (6000 N New Braunfels Ave), the Artpace gallery and art residency program (445 N Main Ave) and the Linda Pace Foundation’s contemporary art space (111 Camp St.). End your trip about six hours from there, in Marfa, where you can tour the impressive Donald Judd and Chinati Foundations. Art-minded travelers can also join Indagare’s Insider Trip in Fall 2017 to discover some of the best art in Texas with visits to Dallas and Marfa with Indagare founder Melissa Biggs Bradley.