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10 Drive Options for U.S. Travelers Seeking Vacations Close to Home

Although travelers are inquiring weeks in advance as they dream about their vacation, we’re seeing shortened booking windows as consumers are waiting until last minute to finalize their plans,” said Block. “They are watching to see if COVID restrictions change and they are also holding out for the best deals.”

Here are a 10 recommended drive options for those seeking a Labor Day weekend getaway or any travel break close to home this fall.

EAST COAST

Vermont has 10 scenic byways that will take you past historic homes, villages and state parks, with stunning views of mountains, meadows and forests. Along the Scenic Route 100 Byway, a popular foliage drive in the fall, you can travel nearly 150 miles, or about two-thirds of the length of the state.

New York’s Catskill Mountains is great for adventure lovers, history buffs, families and foodies. On a clear day, you’ll get a panoramic view of the region from the Five-State Lookout. Traveling through the area will take you across four towns, with lots of opportunities to take side trips.

SOUTHEAST

At Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park, there are 70 overlooks that offer views of the Shenandoah Valley and Piedmont region. Skyline Drive, which runs for 105 miles along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains, is a popular spot for photographing wildlife. You’ll see wild turkey, deer and bears – just also safely keep your distance from the animals and rely on your zoom lens for the optimal photo.

North Carolina and Tennessee straddle the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Here you’ll witness nature’s beauty and remnants of Appalachian Mountain culture. Scenic drives include 32-mile Newfound Gap Road, which passes by the Appalachian Trail.

MIDWEST

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is stunning. Scenic roads include the Brockway Mountain Drive, near Copper Harbor. At several points along the 10-mile route you’ll encounter breathtaking views of Lake Superior and the surrounding woodland on the Keweenaw Peninsula.

Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks is more spectacular than it seems in a popular TV show, especially along the shoreline. Ha Ha Tonka State Park provides a perfect backdrop for deep ravines, towering bluffs and the ruins of a mansion modeled after a European castle.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHWEST

Colorado is a fisherman’s dream.  The 205-mile West Elk Loop byway covers a diverse landscape flowing rivers and creeks surrounded by gorgeous meadows and canyons.

New Mexico’s Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway is a loop of 84 miles starting and ending in Taos, an art colony flanked by the Rocky Mountains and the Rio Grande Gorge. Along the way, you’ll find dazzling scenery and a glimpse into New Mexico’s history.

WEST

Oregon’s West Cascades Scenic Byway is a 215-mile roadway weaving through forested corridors that turn brilliant colors in the fall. For a two-wheel trip, the 36-mile Covered Bridges Scenic Bikeway is a family-friendly route from a historic downtown to a picturesque lake.

Washington State has more than 400 islands in its northwest corridor. Orcas Island is more remote and secluded than other islands that are part of the archipelago that comprises the San Juan Islands. A ferry can get you to this hilly location with curvy roads, which is a dream to drive and a challenge to cycle across.

Travelers are asked to post their favorite vacation photos on Instagram to show the world why they vacation. Favorites are selected to appear in Travel Leaders’ weekly “Armchair Explorer” travel guide.

To add you vacation pics to the conversation, tag your post with #WhyWeVacation and include a comment explaining why you love to travel.

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