The Gainesville resident knows all about great road trips in his home state of Florida and across the U.S. Here are five major recommendations for enjoying fall from the comfort of the car.
GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA, September 2, 2022 — The cooler temperatures and slower pace of fall make it perfect for a leisurely road trip. In his travels, Cory Carnley discovered five great fall drives across the U.S., and each is easy to customize to fit limited travel times and accommodate a travel budget.
The Great River Road
Technically, the Great River Road extends the length of the Mississippi River, but for the purposes of a casual road trip, traveling the expanse all at one time is a bit much. Carnley recommends splitting it into at least two different drives.
The northern portion of the route, starting around the Sabula, Iowa and Savannah, Illinois area, provides a great jumping-off point with access to an island view at Sabula before heading north to Dubuque, Iowa, and U.S. 20. In the Dubuque area, there are numerous antique shops, casinos, fine dining and majestic views of the river from Grand View in Dubuque and from the bluffs on the East Dubuque, Illinois side.
Moving from East Dubuque into Wisconsin via WI-35 provides a quick return to beautiful river views through to LaCrosse, Wisconsin, and beyond. While traveling the highway, the Mississippi stays almost consistently in view to the west while soaring bluffs provide a stark contrast in elevation. Lovely at all times of the year, the drive is particularly gorgeous when fall colors begin to show, according to Cory Carnley.
The Natchez Trace Parkway
The Natchez Trace covers some of the same areas as the river road while also cutting a path to the Cumberland River in Tennessee.
Approximately 440 miles of roadway are on the trail, and Cory Carnley recommends Natchez as a great place to start in the fall. On the trip north into Tennessee, travelers can better experience seasonal shifts as south Mississippi heat transitions into a more traditional fall climate.
History buffs can find many pullovers along the roadway, and it is lined with markers highlighting key points in its past as a Native American trail and a trading post route. Primary highways used on the trip are U.S. 61 and Interstate 20 in Mississippi. As the trail moves further east, frequent highway changes are necessary to keep as close as possible to the historic historical route, so stay GPS-ready.
Lake Winnipesaukee Loop
In New Hampshire, the Lake Winnipesaukee Loop is an ideal fall trip with very rewarding views on the road but a comparatively minimal amount of driving. The roadways border the biggest lake in New Hampshire and provide many opportunities for enjoying local shops and dining while offering grand glimpses of fall colors directly and as reflected in the water of the lake.
Gainesville resident Cory Carnley couldn’t leave his native Florida off the list. While fall is still quite balmy in Florida, it does provide an excellent opportunity for a slightly more temperate journey down U.S. Route 1 to the Florida Keys. Fall is perfect for some away time and after traveling the Overseas Highway to the keys, there is ample opportunity to unwind with luxurious spas, fine dining, and lots of water sports.
Pacific Coast Highway
From coast to coast, there is a unique beauty in fall drives involving the ocean. State Route 1, better known as the Pacific Coast Highway, provides a full transition mirroring the journey from summer to fall. Starting in sunny San Diego makes for a cheerful launch, and the conclusion of the best of the California trail in San Francisco leaves the end of the trip open for enjoying top accommodations and entertainment. Cory Carnley recommends a fall drive as the weather is still largely fine but the peak travel times of July and August have passed.