I-75 is a perfect sample of America. It starts right at the Canadian border in Sault Ste. Marie, then winding down to Detroit, and into the heart of the Midwest down through Pure Michigan, and Ohio. From there, it makes its way through Kentucky and Tennessee, stopping near and in cities like Lexington, Knoxville, and Chattanooga, before entering Georgia. I-75 is a main route to Atlanta, and from Atlanta, it continues into Florida. As you cruise the route past Tampa, take some time to enjoy the brief East-West stretch through the Everglades that's known as Alligator Alley before ending just north of Miami. Whether you're looking for the fastest route from the Midwest to Florida, or you happen to be enjoying the ride between some of America's coolest cities, I-75 is loaded with plenty to see and do along the way.
Start off your trip by fueling up at the West Pier Drive-In. This old-school eatery serves up mouthwatering burgers, sides like fries, onion rings, mushrooms, and cheese sticks fresh out of the fryer, and rich milkshakes, all at an insanely cheap price point. It's nothing fancy, but it's just right.
Castle Rock Rd, MI, US
Castle Rock is a scenic viewpoint near St. Ignace that makes a great pitstop. The 195-foot-tall lookout spot has been a tourist destination since 1929. Peer into the binoculars to check out the views of Mackinac Island (which, if you have time, is an amazing destination worth visiting), Lake Huron, downtown St. Ignace, and I-75 itself. Pose for photos of Paul Bunyon while you're here, and remember to pick up an "I climbed Castle Rock" sticker before you leave.
4216 Ranger Road (M-93), Grayling, MI, US
Hartwick Pines State Park protects mystical stands of old-growth pine forest. It's just off the highway, but it feels like a place from a fairytale. The park's Old Growth Trail features the Hartwick Pines Logging Museum and the Michigan Forest Visitor Center, which give great insight into the White Pine Logging Era in Michigan (1840-1910), the diversity of the habitat today, and the future of these lush forests.
1680 Martin St, Bay City, MI, US
Since you're hugging the banks of the Saginaw River, stop by the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum. The crown jewel of their collection of artifacts is the USS Edson, built in 1958. It's only of only two surviving Forest Sherman-class destroyers. She was built in Maine, and her home port was Long Beach, CA. Most of her service occurred during the Vietnam War, earning recognition for exceptionally meritorious service in 1964 in the Gulf of Tonkin, and was commended for her role in the evacuation of Phnom Penh and Saigon. She was decommissioned in 1988 and was moved to Bay City in 2012.
5161 Branch Road, Flint, MI, US
Flint is a town just north of Detroit that boasts a history just as rich as the Motor City's. Stop by Flint's manmade Stepping Stone Falls, a dam on the Flint River that forms Mott Lake. There's a path along the river with plenty of look out points, and, as a bonus, the falls are lit up with colorful lights once the sun goes down.
Comeback City. The Motor City. Motown. The D. Yep, we're talking about Detroit. I can't fit all of the cool stuff here into one paragraph, but I'm going to try and cover the basics. You've got Hitsville U.S.A. (aka the Motown Museum, the beating heart of soul), Belle Isle with its stunning vintage aquarium, museums dedicated to science and history and art, the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant, the funky Heidelberg Project that turns a neighborhood into art, the illustrious Henry Ford Museum, Milliken State Park and Harbor, insane architecture, awesome restaurants, killer nightlife, and so much more. You'll want to spend at least a day here. At least.
From there, cruise to the town of Toledo. You'll probably be pleasantly surprised by the destination. It's small, but it's not lacking in world-class attractions. Their zoo is particularly great, but the art museum is noteworthy as well. Special to Toledo are spots like the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library, the National Museum of the Great Lakes, and Fort Meigs, which played an important role in the War of 1812. And you can't leave without getting your Hungarian grub on at Tony Packo's. Try the Hungarian hot dog, stuffed cabbage, chicken paprikash and some apple strudel.
13920 County Home Road, Bowling Green, OH, US
As you forge further south into Ohio, you'll encounter more roadside fun, like Snook's Dream Cars. Part living museum (complete with a recreated 1940s era Texaco gas station, a 1930s general store and a racetrack from the 1960s) along with the showroom stocked full of vintage automobiles and memorabilia. You'll find everything from coupes to roadsters from makers ranging from Packard and Pontiac to Alfa Romeo and Lotus. You'll literally get lost in the history at this hidden gem of a stop.
419 W Pike St, Jackson Center, OH, US
Speaking of auto history, you can't drive past the Airstream Factory in Jackson Center without stopping by. They offer tours so you can get a firsthand look at where these iconic silver bullets get their rivets. You can even snap a photo of a special rarity; the only golden Airstream, made by founder Wally Byam for his wife Stella.
7 West Monroe St., New Bremen, OH, US
If cars and Airstreams don't do it for you, then maybe the Bicycle Museum of America is more your (single) speed. You'll see hundreds of different kinds of bikes from across time and space. Whether it's a handcrafted solid wood bike inspired by Gaudi or a crazy-looking penny farthing (how did people stay up on those things??) or a Schwinn straight out of your childhood, their three floors of exhibits will definitely impress.
Oh, while we're on the subject of bikes, your next stop is Dayton, Ohio: the hometown of two bike makers-turned-flight pioneers, the Wright brothers. You can visit the Victorian building that once housed their storefront. Or go further into the aviation history here at the National Museum of the United States Airforce. The Carillon Historical Park and SunWatch Indian Village are great places to take in some history, and there are lots of Metroparks where you can soak up some nature and great scenery.
7379 Squire Ct, Wetherington, OH, US
On your way from Dayton to Cincinnati, you'll pass by EnterTRAINment Junction, which has a little something for everyone. Kids will love the play area and hands-on exhibits and adults will be blown away by their model train displays, which are loaded with tiny details. They claim to boast the world's largest train display, and while I can't confirm that, the 80,000 square feet and 2+ miles of mini track are impressive.
Welcome to the Queen City! There are countless reasons to stay and explore Cincy. Chief among them, the brewery scene (book a tour on a Brew Bus) and Over-the-Rhine, one of the country's largest, most intact urban historic districts. Cool bars and restaurants and shops are moving into the stunning historic buildings, making it worth an afternoon of exploration. Beyond that, there are plenty of cool spots like the American Sign Museum and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center to check out. And, of course, get some Cincinnati chili and form an educated opinion on the local delicacy.
1 Ark Encounter Drive, Williamstown, KY, US
Love it or hate it, you have to admit that you're curious about this buzzy New Earth Creationist attraction. If you're willing to pony up the $40 admission fee (for adults, kids are $28) you could easily spend a few hours learning about the Biblical tale of Noah and how he survived a massive flood on his ark, and why Creationists believe that this, and the rest of the Bible, are fact. There are actually lots of things to do here; there's a zoo and a zip line along with the exhibits inside the ark itself.
4089 Iron Works Pkwy, Lexington, KY, US
Kentucky is best known for two things: horse-racing and bourbon. I-75 passes near some distilleries, but if you don't have the time to spend fully exploring the Bourbon Trail, you can get some classic Kentucky vibes at the Kentucky Horse Park. A ticket gets you access to two super thorough museums (including the Smithsonian's International Museum of the Horse) and admission to their horse shows throughout the day, some of which feature retired show and racehorses. You can go for a horseback ride, tour the barns, and visit various halls of fame. Or, just stop in to enjoy the atmosphere and check out the statues of Man O' War and other famous horses and jockeys.
2590 Richmond Rd, Mount Vernon, KY, US
Delve into Kentucky's unexpectedly rich musical history at the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame & Museum. Find artifacts dating back to the 18th century, interactive displays, films, a cute gift shop, and lots and lots of memorabilia. If you're lucky, you might even catch a live performance!
99 Colonel Sanders St, Corbin, KY, US
Welcome to the coolest KFC in the world! The Harland Sanders Museum and Cafe has plopped a modern-day Kentucky Fried Chicken into the original Cafe where Colonel Sanders himself invented his blend of 11 herbs and spices that made his chicken so finger-lickin' good. Enjoy the KFC memorabilia and the views of the old-school cafe (including, weirdly enough, a sample motel room complete with bed to advertise Colonel Sanders next-door motel) as you enjoy your biscuits and chicken.
7351 Hwy 90, Williamsburg, KY, US
Kentucky is a state of great beauty as well. Cumberland Falls State Resort Park is the perfect example. The lodge here is one of the loveliest places to spend the night off I-75, with its authentic rustic atmosphere. If you're just stopping by, then head to Cumberland Falls, known as the Niagara of the South. It's a stunning 125 feet wide, and is famous for the moonbows you can spot dancing off the mist during a full moon. The phenomena is rare, and if you can time your visit here during a full moon, take advantage!
Make your first stop in Tennessee the city of Knoxville. Get the lay of the land by heading to the top of the golden, disco-ball-like Sunsphere, a remnant of the last successful World's Fair in 1982. Explore the Farragut Folklife Museum, poke around Market Square, have a blast on Gay Street and check out the rest of the World's Fair Park during your time here. And if you only eat one meal in Knoxville, make it at Tupelo Honey. Pimento cheese nachos... need I say more?
140 Lost Sea Rd, Sweetwater, TN, US
Did you know that Tennessee is home to the world's second-largest non-subglacial underground lake? It's called The Lost Sea, and you can take a boat tour of it! Craighead Caverns, where the Lost Sea is located, has served as a Civil War saltpeter mine, a mushroom farm, a cockfighting arena, a moonshine distillery and a nightclub called The Cavern Tavern throughout history, but the Sea wasn't discovered until 1905. As your boat glides across the 800 square feet of water, ponder the unexplored maze of caverns likely hidden deep below the surface.
3370 LaFayette Road, Fort Oglethorpe, GA, US
The Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park protects the land that saw some of the bloodiest, hardest-fought battles that turned the tide of the Civil War. In 1863, the Union and the Confederacy were fighting for control of Chattanooga, a railroad center that was known as the Gateway to the South. The Union Army suffered devastating losses at Chickamauga in Georgia, but ultimately defeated the Confederates and seized control of Chattanooga shortly after. This is the location of the Chickamauga battlefield (all of the battlefields in the area are operated as various units in one park by the NPS). The visitor center is at the north end of the battlefield and contains the bookstore, museum exhibits, films, and visitor info that will guide you during your visit.
900 Kennesaw Mountain Dr NW, Kennesaw, GA, US
You're also right near the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park. Here, in 1864, William T. Sherman assaulted the Confederate Army of Tennessee. While Sherman lost the battle, the Confederates were unable to stop his deadly march to Atlanta. It's a beautiful location at the southern edge of the Appalachians. You can tour Cheatham Hill, where most of the fighting occurred, drive to the top of the mountain to enjoy the views, or hike one of the many trails. The visitor center at the north end is a great place to start, and you can also check out the 24-gun battery, Kolb's Farm, and more.
Take a few days and have a peach of a time in Atlanta. You deserve it after navigating the notorious traffic outside the city, as I-75 balloons into a 7-lane behemoth. But, there are loads of little neighborhoods and parts of town to explore once you reach the city! The World of Coca-Cola and the Georgia Aquarium are iconic, but you can also visit the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park, the Centennial Olympic Park, the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum (she's the lady who wrote Gone With The Wind), countless Southern food joints and bars, and tons more to see.
76 High Falls Park Dr, Jackson, GA, US
Get back out into nature after exploring the sprawling metro area of Atlanta at High Falls State Park. It's home to the tallest cascading waterfall south of Atlanta, some of the best fishing in the state, a lake, and a campground complete with yurts. Rent a boat for an afternoon, or fish off one of the docks, or hike the Falls Trail, the Historic Trail, or the 2-mile Tranquil Trail.
107 Cemetary Rd, Cordele, GA, US
This is a reminder to try some BBQ while you're in the South. Smoakie's does it all: great smoked pork sandwiches, chicken wings, ribs and brisket; killer sides like pork rinds, fried okra, and baked beans; a selection of mouthwatering sauces, with mustard and tomato varieties; and, if you saved room, insane desserts like homemade peach tarts and banana pudding. Add in a picture-perfect atmosphere (it's really just a shack with some kitsch around), and you've got a down-home BBQ joint that won't disappoint.
Agrirama Dr, Tifton, GA, US
Georgia wasn't always the bustling state we see today. Catch a glimpse of what life in the Peach State was like back in the day at the Georgia Museum of Agriculture & Historic Village. Farms, complete with animals are run by interpreters who also work the village sawmill, turpentine still, schoolhouse, blacksmith’s shop, steam train, church, drug store, and grist mill. All in all, there are 35 historic buildings that have been moved to this site, which is also home to the Victorian mansion that once belonged to Captain H. H. Tift, founder of Tifton, GA.
3766 Old Clyattville Rd, Valdosta, GA, US
As you continue further south, you might want to take the opportunity to cool off at Wild Adventures in Valdosta. It's part water park, part amusement park, part zoo, and more. There's an arcade, a butterfly garden, mini golf, shows, food, concerts, shopping... basically, everything needed to amuse a whole family for a solid day.
11330 S.E. County Road 135, White Springs, FL, US
Big Shoals State Park is best known for the rapids on the Suwannee River that are popular with pro canoers and kayakers, but there are some great nature trails that follow the riverbank offering lovely views of the water and woodlands. If you're just exploring the trails, you'll find that it's a serene little stretch of Florida.
S.W. Archer Road, Gainesville, FL, US
You might still be in Florida, but you can experience the plant life of more exotic locales at the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens. A 1.5-mile walkway connects 24 living exhibits of botanical beauty. The Chinese royal bamboo, ginormous Victorian water lilies, and Asian snake arums are especially unique (these are best spied in the spring and summer!) Picnic baskets are welcome, so bring a snack and take your time enjoying the lush and vibrant gardens.
13700 Southwest 16th Avenue, Ocala, FL, US
Okay, there are a few car-related spots on I-75, but there's only one drag racing museum: Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing. “Big Daddy” Don Garlits is a drag racing legend; he perfected the rear-engine top fuel dragster design and was the first drag racer to officially surpass the 170, 180, 200, 240, 250, and 270 miles per hour marks in the quarter mile, among other achievements. Even though his record-breaking Swamp Rat XXX is in the Smithsonian, his Museum of Drag Racing features loads of other Swamp Rats and drag cars. There's also the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame and loads of other racing memorabilia as well.
12210 83rd St E, Parrish, FL, US
Racing a little intense for you? Slow things down with a stop at the Florida Railroad Museum. They bill themselves as a museum where you can ride the exhibits since they offer diesel engine excursions on weekends. Otherwise, you can roam their makeshift railyard and check out the locomotives, cabooses, freight cars, and passenger cars. They have cars on display from the early 20th century and more modern trains to check out as well, so it's a super thorough setup.
3800 Corkscrew Rd., Estero, FL, US
The Koreshan State Historic Site commemorates a wild, but lesser-known piece of history. It got its name from a religious colony called the Koreshan Unity, who donated the land to the state in the 1960s. The Koreshans, who, if we're being honest, were a bit of a cult, had some... interesting beliefs. Weirdest among them was that the entire universe existed within a giant, hollow sphere. Whatever that means. 11 of the Koreshan buildings, which date back to the 1890s, are still standing and you can see how the community lived their lives back in the day. The park also offers hiking, kayaking/canoeing, camping, picnicking, and fishing. You can rent boats from the ranger station for an afternoon on the water, or just tour the buildings for a glimpse at this fascinating sliver of Florida history.
52105 E. Tamiami Trl. E, FL, US
The East-West portion of I-75 across Florida is colloquially known as Alligator Alley. Originally, the stretch of road was a 2-lane highway known as Everglades Parkway (State Road 84). The American Automobile Association thought that motorists wouldn't find much use for the route, and that it would wind up being more of an alley for the thousands of alligators who call the Everglades home. The nickname stuck, and the state officially adopted it. I-75 was then routed over the Everglades Parkway, but the name Alligator Alley is still used for the stretch. Probably because it's kind of accurate; it's not uncommon to spot the beasts in the waterways along the road, on even on the road itself. Hop out of the car and explore the swampy terrain (and maybe even meet a gator or two) at the Big Cypress National Preserve, which is located on the Alley.
The route ends on the Hialeah–Miami Lakes border just north of Miami, but take one last tiny, quick detour before you reach the end of the road. Opa-Locka is a "One Thousand and One Nights" themed town that features lots of Moorish-inspired buildings (like the pastel city hall, adorned with pink domes and golden minarets) and stereotypical street names, which include Ali Baba Avenue and Sesame Street. I really can’t make this stuff up. Only about 20 of the original 100 themed buildings still stand, but it's a unique town that was designed with this theme in mind (and it was all executed, not surprisingly, by an architect whose only experience with Moorish architecture was from drawings and pictures). Snap a few shots of the unusual City Hall, and then ride on to the end of the route!
I-75 is a major highway, so there's no bad time to drive it. Of course, things can get snowy during the winter, but that's more of a concern in places south of Ohio, where towns have less experience and fewer resources to deal with wintery conditions. Otherwise, enjoy the drive from Miami to Canada, whichever direction you choose!