woman on a road trip

The Best Summer Road Trips: Destination Ideas and Tips

woman on a road trip

Looking for inspiration for a summer trip? Trying to plan the perfect road trip? Look no further! We have all the ideas and tips you need for an incredible trip this summer, whether you want to get away for the day, the weekend, or longer!

Before we dive into to this summer’s top destinations, let’s run through the essentials you’ll need for any trip.

Summer Road Trip Essentials

1. Pre-Trip Car Inspection

Safety first! The fastest way to ruin your vacation is to end up stranded on a lonely interstate with no help in sight. Before you hit the road, make sure to give your car a thorough inspection to ensure everything is in good working order. This includes checking your tire pressure, coolant levels, windshield wipers and engine belts. Make sure you have a spare tire (and know how to change a flat tire), just in case. If anything seems like it might not be in tip-top shape, visit your local mechanic for a professional inspection before setting off on your trip.

2. Emergency Kit

Keeping with the theme of being prepared, there are several items you’ll want to have at the ready in case of emergency on your road trip. These include a first aid kit, drinking water, a flashlight, gloves, jumper cables and a battery charger in case you’re stranded and your cell phone runs out of power. It’s always a good idea to share your planned route and travel dates with a friend or family member, too.

3. A Cooler Full of Snacks

Who doesn’t love snacking while on the road? Keeping yourself (and your fellow passengers) full during the road trip is essential to avoid those petty arguments caused by low blood sugar levels, otherwise known as “hanger.” But, stopping to buy snacks on the road can get expensive and can delay your travel. We recommend packing a cooler full of snacks so you can stay on the road and save your money for more entertaining things. Some time-honored snacks don’t require refrigeration, but chips, pretzels, crackers and even cookies can get boring after an hour or two.

That’s why we recommend packing healthier, heartier snacks like turkey sandwiches, grapes, cheeses, carrots and celery. No matter how hot it is outside or in your trunk, you can keep your food safely chilled in a cooler using Penguin Brand Dry Ice®. It’s inexpensive and easy to do, and you’ll never have to worry about your food sitting in a puddle of water like it would with wet ice. If you’re not sure how to pack a cooler with dry ice, we explain everything you need to know here. And with over 5,000 retail locations around the U.S., our dry ice is easy to find too! Just stop by your local retailer before you head out on your trip, and you’ll be ready for the perfect road trip.


Top Summer Road Trip Destinations

Whether you’re a fan of the great outdoors, sports, music, beach time, hunting and more, we’ve got a trip for you!

beach road trip destination


1. Feel the Sand Between Your Toes

When the sun is blazing and you’re tired of being cooped up inside, there’s nothing better than a day at the beach. The United States boasts a terrific variety of beaches to choose from depending on where you live and what your ideal beach experience looks like. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Venice Beach, CA – perfect for the free-spirited types looking for a funky vibe.
  • Clearwater Beach, FL – a laid-back beach with a wide stretch of soft, white sand and calm waters.
  • Huntington Beach, CA – it’s not called “Surf City” for nothing! The perfect destination for those looking to catch a wave.
  • Kalaloch Beach, WA – part of Olympic National Park in Washington State, this picturesque beach is ideal for hiking, bird watching and camping, too.
  • North Manitou Island, MI – get away from it all on this primitive island perfect for lazy days, hiking and camping.
  • Ogunquit Beach, ME – for those in the Northeast, this beach on the Atlantic Ocean is a full three miles long, offering plenty of room to spread out and enjoy the soft sand.
  • Ocean City Beach, MD – great for family excursions thanks to its highly-rated boardwalk and free activities.


relaxing on a camping road trip


2. Escape to the Great Outdoors

Put your phone down and enjoy the beauty of nature this summer on a camping road trip. If you’re in the Midwest, you can head to the Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota near Mount Rushmore and Devils Tower.

On the West Coast, Lake Tahoe, Crater Lake National Park and Joshua Tree National Park are all unforgettable destinations.  

For those in the Northeast, get away to the Adirondack Mountains of New York for canoeing, kayaking, hiking and more.

If you’re further south, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park make for an ideal getaway in one of America’s oldest mountain ranges.

With over 400 national parks around the country, there’s a good chance you’ll find one within driving distance wherever you are. Find your park here.


riding a roller coaster during a road trip to an amusement park


3. Get Your Thrills

Fancy a back flip or two? Take a road trip to an amusement park where you can find everything from rollercoasters to your (kids’) favorite cartoon characters.


road trip to a concert


4. Dance to the Beat

Summer is the perfect time to catch your favorite musical artists on tour, whether at a festival or an individual show. You can read all about our top picks for 2019 music festivals that allow camping here.

Here are some top festivals and music venues you should add to your bucket list.


hunting trip


5. Game On

Hunting doesn’t have to wait until fall weather arrives. It might be warm out, but there are plenty of opportunities to hunt in the summer months. From doves to wild hogs whitetail bucks, this guide has plenty of trips you can take to get a jump on the traditional hunting season. Before you go, be sure to review these pro hunting tips, including how to make the most of your hunt with dry ice.

Where Will You Go?

There you have it – all the inspiration you need to plan an amazing summer road trip. If you think of something we missed, let us know in the comments! Happy driving!

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