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The Roadtrippers team’s favorite road trips of 2021—and where we’re headed in 2022

We finally left our houses and went stargazing in Yellowstone National Park, trick-or-treating in Orlando, and celebrated Thanksgiving with family in Boston

Photo: Sanna Boman

This year had its share of challenges, but 2020 it was not (thankfully). While the dark cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic still lingers over most aspects of everyday life, one thing changed significantly in 2021: Most of us left our houses and went on at least one road trip, even if travel still looks a bit different than it did in the “before times.”

From the ragged peaks of Alaska to the fall foliage of western North Carolina, and plenty of scenic national park views in between, here are the best road trips the Roadtrippers team took in 2021—and where we plan on going in 2022. 

The best road trips of 2021

Blue Ridge Mountains at beginning of fall foliage
The Blue Ridge Mountains. | Photo: Ashley Rossi

In October, I took a road trip to the Highlands-Cashiers region of western North Carolina where I met my parents who were roadtripping from Nashville, Tennessee. We spent about a week in the area, with day trips to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and Pisgah and Nantahala national forests before spending 2 nights in Asheville. 

The trip coincided with my parents’ 33rd wedding anniversary and since I no longer live close to home, it was special to celebrate with them. I drove my SUV and they rented a car for the trip. Highway 64 was really fun to drive in both vehicles, although my dad said he wished he was on a motorcycle. We did some day hikes, saw beautiful foliage, and drove past plenty of waterfalls. They already have a trip planned back to the area for spring. 

Ashley Rossi, Managing Editor 

My favorite road trip of 2021 was our family vacation to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park. We flew in to Jackson, Wyoming, rented a car at the airport, and set off on an epic 8-day adventure exploring some of the most beautiful and extraordinary sites in the U.S. A special highlight of the trip was our stay at the Under Canvas Yellowstone, where my boys were amazed by the nightly Milky Way display. We also adored our quaint cabin at Colter Bay Village in Grand Teton National Park. Other highlights of the trip included wildlife spotting in Lamar Valley, the Cody Nite Rodeo, and hiking the Jenny Lake Trail.

Stephanie Puglisi, VP of Content

A woman standing next to a motorcycle with mountains in the background
Hope, Alaska. | Photo: Sanna Boman

This was a great road trip year for me personally, but two trips stand out above the rest. First, I had the opportunity to ride a motorcycle 2,000 miles through Alaska this summer. It was a real bucket-list experience for me, and it did not disappoint. I spent two weeks riding through some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen in my life, both on-road and off-road. It rained almost every day, but I learned a lot about myself and my own limits.

Second, I used the Roadtrippers Route 66 guidebook to plan the ultimate Route 66 motorcycle trip, and then I rode solo from Wisconsin to California in October. I could’ve easily spent twice as long on the route as I did, and I can’t wait to go back and do it all over again.

Sanna Boman, Editor in Chief

Elk in front of a snowy mountain at Grand Teton National Park
Elk at Grand Teton National Park | Photo: Shutterstock

This past June, my family of six traveled from Jackson, Wyoming, to Great Falls, Montana. We started at Grand Teton National Park, where we did a float trip of the Snake River and some great hikes to Jenny and Taggart lakes. Next, we headed to Yellowstone National Park and stayed at the Old Faithful Inn for 2 nights. While there, we got what I call the “Yellowstone Trifecta” selfie—my wife and I with Old Faithful erupting in the background, a bison, and a park ranger. 

We saw bison, a wolf, elk, and lots of great geologic formations. Next, we drove through Montana and stayed in Glacier National Park at the Many Glacier Hotel and the Village Inn at Apgar. We canoed on Lake McDonald, did an amazing hike to Avalanche Lake, had a near-run-in with a grizzly bear, and drove part of Going-to-the-Sun Road. Bonus: My son is in the fifth grade, and this year, all fifth-graders and their families got into national parks for free.

Josh Knepfle, VP of Engineering 

In January, my wife and I visited Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio with our pup Lionel. We did a full day of hiking and explored the park’s many picturesque trails. We’d never been to Hocking Hills, but it had been on our Midwest to-do list for quite some time. I’m glad we went in the winter; the frozen waterfalls and snow-covered trees amplified the beauty of the park—even if the icy trails were challenging at times. 

Hocking Hills is slightly more than 5 hours from our home in South Bend, Indiana, but it was only a 45-minute drive from where we were staying at the BrewDog Hotel in Columbus, Ohio, a highly recommended pet-friendly hotel for beer lovers. We made this trip in my 2020 RAV4, and we were happy to have a vehicle with four-wheel drive as the winding snowy roads leading to Hocking Hills could be difficult in a less rugged vehicle. 

Samantha Lechlitner-Lewis, Associate Editor

two red adirondack chairs sit next to a fire pit in the woods with string lights
Sandy Pines Campground. | Photo: Steph Ziebell

My favorite road trip was a weekend getaway to Kennebunkport, Maine, with my husband. In the summer of 2020, we were spending nearly all of our time at home and itching to travel. So we booked a cabin at Sandy Pines Campground for June 2021 and were so excited to have a small trip to look forward to. Maine is one of our favorite places to visit, especially in the summer, which made this long-awaited trip even more enjoyable. 

Steph Ziebell, Customer Experience Manager 

I drove with my wife and our baby from Cincinnati, Ohio, down to Florida in our 2014 Corolla. We stopped just south of Atlanta to break up the drive, and then the next day drove to Sarasota, Florida, to visit my wife’s uncle. We celebrated our baby’s first birthday at my brother’s house in Orlando and took her trick-or-treating for the first time the next day.

After Orlando, we met my wife’s parents in Ormond Beach and spent a few days on the beach. On the way home we stayed overnight in Spartanburg, South Carolina (if you find yourself in Spartanburg check out Fr8yard for a burger, a drink, and good music), and then stopped at Cumberland Gap on the way back to Cincinnati.

Nick Kelly, Senior Product Manager

My favorite road trip of 2021 was an RV trip to the mountain bike capital of Bentonville, Arkansas, with my husband Tyler and our labrador. We went to explore the 250 miles of mountain bike trails and found so many other fun things to do while we were there. The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, featuring works from Rockwell to Warhol, was right off the bike trails, and admission was free. We learned a thing or two about Sam Walton at the Walmart Museum in the Bentonville Square, followed by a scoop of homemade ice cream from the Spark Cafe. Later, we stumbled upon the outdoor concert series at The Momentary and joined a conga line to lively jazz music.

We stayed at Blowing Springs RV Park in Bella Vista, Arkansas. The park is located just north of Bentonville with an easy drive to downtown.

—Morgan Baumgardner, Community Manager

Sand beach with snow at Acadia National Park
A beach in the winter at Acadia National Park in Maine. | Photo: Shutterstock

My family and I took a 9-day, 8-night trip from our home in the D.C. beltway area up to Maine’s Acadia National Park. We stayed with family and friends along the way, in New York City and Booth, Maine. We went during the heart of tourist season in August. It was the longest road trip my husband and I have ever taken with our two girls—more than 18 hours each way. We drove in our compact SUV. 

Mona Kishore, VP of Business Development

We took our annual family pilgrimage to Destin, Florida, from Cincinnati, Ohio, for our summer beach trip. This year was the first time we decided to drive instead of fly. We filled our Traverse to the gills with beach gear and even added a roof topper this time around. You can never be too prepared.

It took us close to 16 hours since we made a bunch of stops along the way. We took advantage of bathroom breaks for our new puppy and found a bunch of fun roadside stops thanks to the Roadtrippers app. I prefer to stop at anything that has a plaque, so I can read the history. Fortunately, my family indulges me as long as I agree to stop at random, hole-in-the-wall ice cream shops—a more than fair trade.

Jonathan Richman, SVP, Memberships and Operations

a truck outfitted to camp at a campsite with a firepit, motorbike and two red chairs
Camping. | Photo: Ace Goulet

My favorite road trip of 2021 was to Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks. My wife Edy and I went for a 10-day, 2,500-mile trip. We built out our Toyota Tacoma to be a pretty great camper truck, with a camper shell on the back, raised platform bed with storage underneath, and an 8-gallon pressurized water tank on the roof for showers and dishes. It’s very efficient and low-tech, which meant we could still take the truck places you might not be able to while towing a trailer. We found incredible national forest camping down some four-wheel-drive trails near the Tetons that was totally secluded, away from the overwhelming crowds.

Ace Goulet, Staff Software Engineer, WordPress (Lead)

Over Thanksgiving, our family of five traveled from Ohio to Massachusetts to visit family. While we had prepared to pack up our GMC Yukon SUV and tackle the 13-hour drive, swapping shifts every 4 hours, we ultimately opted to fly on the busiest day of the year, direct from Detroit to Boston. We still piled on close to 1,000 miles in 4 days with our rental car, making stops in Ware, Sturbridge, Plymouth, and Boston, Massachusetts.

Traffic on the Mass Pike was pretty smooth, but my backseat kids and I were a little queasy from all of the winding and twisting roads. We had some neat stops; one was the Publick House Historic Inn in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, a brilliant example of American colonial architecture. The front desk employees told us that they would be serving more than 1,000 Thanksgiving dinner reservations the following day, and there were lines out the door for take-home baked goods from their well-known bakery. 

We grabbed coffee from The Bake Shoppe, along with the signature pecan sweet rolls and maple walnut scones, which lived up to the hype. I can’t wait to get back to the Publick House, which makes for an excellent stop any time of the year, but especially for the holidays.

Becca Wenning, Community Engagement

Road trips on deck for 2022

new river gorge bridge surrounded by colorful fall foliage
New River Gorge, West Virginia. | Photo: Shutterstock

I’m looking to visit the newest national park, New River Gorge, in the spring and meet up with a friend who is traveling from Ohio. From my home base of Charlotte, North Carolina, the drive is less than 4 hours. Hopefully, we’ll get to go on day hikes and whitewater rafting. 

I’m also planning to spend about 1 week in California and drive from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara for the wedding of one of my best friends. I’m looking to rent an electric vehicle for this trip to learn more about charging stations when roadtripping. I’ll most likely book a stay at the original Motel 6, which was recently renovated, and hope that the historic Route 66 landmark Tail O’ the Pup, which is set to reopen sometime next year in West Hollywood, is ready by July.

In March, my team will be at the RVillage ally camping in RV rentals. I’ll be driving from Hilton Head, South Carolina, to Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park & Campground in Live Oak, Florida. 

Ashley Rossi, Managing Editor 

an RV parked at a campsite surrounded by chairs and a boy on a bike
RVing. | Photo: Stephanie Puglisi

One of our favorite family traditions is taking the RV down to South Carolina over spring break and enjoying some warm weather and beach time after a cold winter up north. Last year, we soaked up the sun in Myrtle Beach. This year, we’ll be heading back to Charleston—one of our favorite cities to explore as a family. We love the mix of historical sites and natural beauty. We basically eat our way through the city and never miss an opportunity to cheer for the RiverDogs, the minor league affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays. Two of our favorite campgrounds in the area are James Island County Park and Mount Pleasant/Charleston KOA

Stephanie Puglisi, VP of Content 

I haven’t started planning out my summer yet, but next on the agenda is a motorcycle road trip through southern Florida in January. I’m planning on riding out to Key West and then taking the ferry to Dry Tortugas National Park. Then I’ll spend a few days exploring the Everglades and Biscayne National Park as well. Even though I live in San Diego, I’m really looking forward to spending some time in the warm Florida sun.

Sanna Boman, Editor in Chief

In June, our family will be doing a road trip in our minivan to Orlando to visit Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, along with a stop at the beach in Florida, and then on to Myrtle Beach for my daughter’s dance competition. We love Disney World and Universal and will have some time with extended family at the beach in Marco Island

Josh Knepfle, VP of Engineering 

a black building with white lettering that says Rest in Pieces oddities and curiosities
Rest in Pieces. | Photo: Steph Ziebell

My husband and I will be driving to Richmond, Virginia, next year to see some friends. They own a popular oddities and curiosities shop, Rest in Pieces, and it’s always fun to watch their store grow and see what new items they have—we try to make a trip there every couple of years. We’ll be driving our Jeep Renegade with our new rooftop tent. We’re super excited to split the drive up and find a couple of places to camp along our route. 

Steph Ziebell, Customer Experience Manager 

We have plans to take our family for a beachside camping trip to Arapahoe, North Carolina. It’s a summer program to check out a camp run by the YMCA down there that our neighbors recommend for when our girls are older.

Mona Kishore, VP of Business Development

a motorcycle parked in front of the united states supreme court
The Supreme Court. | Photo: Ace Goulet

Still in the early stages of thinking about this, but I’ve got the itch to do another cross-country-and-back motorcycle trip. I did a 10,000-mile trip from San Diego to New York and back a few years ago on one of my motorcycles and I’m thinking it might be time to do another. It would likely be in the early summer, and I’d be riding my 2016 Honda Africa Twin, a great bike for long-distance adventures. 

Ace Goulet, Staff Software Engineer, WordPress (Lead)

Our family will be heading back to Massachusetts in June to visit the Tree House Brewing Company in Charlton and the Quabbin Reservoir in Belchertown. This trip has been on my bucket list for several years, and we hope to make it happen this summer. We will most likely attempt to drive our Tesla which is on order and scheduled to (hopefully) arrive in April.

Becca Wenning, Community Engagement