Car Things To Do
While there are likely many great weekend and vacation destinations on your bucket or to-do list, we would like to suggest turning some of the previous scenic drives into destinations or explore the suggestions herein as your next destination adventure behind the wheel of your favorite car.
San Bernardino National Forest
"Great Smokey Mountains" is America’s most visited national park. This wondrous park of ridge upon ridge straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. This destination of sprawling landscape encompasses lush forests with an abundance of wildflowers that bloom year-round. Streams, rivers and waterfalls appear along hiking routes that include a segment of the famous Appalachian Trail. The Clingmans Dome, observation tower, is the highest peak, offering scenic views of the mist-covered mountains. World renowned for its diversity of plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient mountains, and the quality of its remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture.
"Sonoma and Napa Valley" is a great way to spend a few days or an entire vacation. These great wine country destinations are a mere one hour north of San Francisco and tucked into the hills such that you feel like you are hundreds of miles from the city with some great windy roads and beautiful scenery. Some of the best wines in the world come from this area with hundreds of wineries and tours to amply fill your days. You can also learn a great deal about winemaking and the many subtleties involved in the selection of grapes, growing environment, etc. If doing wine tastings, hire a limo and be safe and stay in the valleys at one of the B&Bs or hotels. Don’t forget the restaurants, there are many great choices of various cuisines and venues. By the way, the architecture and views the wineries offer are superb so take time to enjoy the wine tasting and the hillside views with your favorite cheese or snack. Another important point, Sonoma Infineon raceway is in Sonoma valley and only a short drive from the wineries or likely along the way if driving north from San Francisco.
"Smith Mountain Lake" is little-known and nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia near Roanoke. This majestic lake serves as a mirror reflecting a spectacular segment of the Appalachian Mountains which help to form this serene getaway. SML, as it is known locally, is a reservoir that was created in 1963 by the Smith Mountain Dam corralling several rivers and creeks and is the largest lake in VA. The creation of SML has fostered significant development in the area and is now a popular recreation area for fishing, boating and all types of water activities. SML is somewhat isolated thus access is via secondary roads, which provide a beautiful drive with picturesque views. The combination of mountains, water and foliage is hard to top! There are numerous activities scheduled around the lake, especially in the spring and fall, thus a great place to spend a long weekend or a vacation week. Boat and jet ski rentals and lodging are readily available. Access from the west is generally via route 220 and route 40 (Booker T. Washington Parkway) and from the east via route 29 and 122. While in the area take time to visit the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, VA commemorating the Allied Forces that participated in the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944 during WWII. This Memorial is a very educational and emotional experience, especially for those of us that have memories of family members being in WWII. Take the Tour!
Joshua Tree National Park is within a few hours drive of Los Angeles, positioned between I-10 and CA62. The park is made up of two desert ecosystems, the Mojave and Colorado, comprising a total of 792,510 acres and is home to a fascinating variety of plants and animals. it is divided into the eastern and western half with elevations above and below 3000 feet. The park is accessed from both ends and is open year round with roads and trails leading you through a jumble of stacked boulders where you can use your imagination to see unlikely shapes.
San Bernardino National Forest is also just east of Los Angeles and encompasses 660,000 acres with elevations ranging from 1000 feet to 11,502 feet covering eight designated Wilderness Areas. The area offers a variety of recreational opportunities such as hiking, backpacking, trail riding, bicycling, camping, picnicking, fishing…the list goes on and don’t forget the winter activities such as snowshoeing, cross-country and alpine skiing. Don’t forget that most National Parks require passes or permits depending on the activity.
The drive through both of these National beauties is spectacular.