By Mea Donnelly
My friends tend to equate me to Margo Roth Speigelman (From John Green’s Paper Towns) for a couple of reasons, the biggest one being that I have a tendency to get in my car, call up some friends and take them on crazy random road trips. What is better than getting a group, getting in a car, getting snacks and having a crazy fun adventure while singing along to music and having philosophic conversations – all while in the car? Nothing.
As a road trip connoisseur, I have gotten together some of my greatest ideas for you UIUC students to enjoy this summer, ranging from beginner to professional road tripper.
1.) Starved Rock: Starved Rock is one of those really cool things we actually have in Illinois, and the great thing about this road trip is that it can be done in a day, there and back. Even from the suburbs, it’s around three hours to get there and you can spend the day hiking and seeing this really cool park.
2.) Lake Geneva: This one is more doable if you come from the northern part of the state, but it can be done in a day. Lake Geneva is a really cool small town with fudge and little quaint shops. My friends and I have gone here quite a few times and it’s a great day trip to simply just get out of the state and go somewhere with cool vibes.
3.) Springfield: Calling all history nerds and lovers, Springfield is pretty awesome. You have a bunch of cool Abe Lincoln things to do and the drive isn’t too bad. Plus, there is this really sweet museum and you could even take a picture at the capital.
1.) The Quad Cities: These are four cities the make up a metropolitan portion of Illinois and Iowa. This is probably more of an overnight trip, but it is still pretty cool. You get to go through rural parts of Illinois and truly experience the great Midwest.
2.) Memphis: Another overnight trip, this one is pretty cool and the drive isn’t that bad. Yes, it can be monotonous, but it is great to just turn on some country tunes and cruise. And there are tons of things to do in Memphis. You could see Elvis’ home and maybe stop by the Rock and Roll museum, plus it is far enough south to get some amazing food.
3.) Mall of America: This is way more of a weekend trip, but it is really fun. The drive allows for plenty of time for each person to have the AUX cord, and the scenery isn’t just cornfields. Plus, at the Mall of America you can do tons of things and even hang out at the amusement park in the center of the mall. This would definitely be a memorable weekend.
Professional (NOTE: DO NOT DO THESE ALONE)
1.) Mackinac Island: I love Mackinac island. The fudge is delicious, and it is mega-fun to bike around the island (which can be done in about an hour). Because no cars are allowed, horse-drawn carriages are available for transportation, which adds to the feel. This road trip is probably for people wanting to be away for four days. The drive is long, but worth it. Northern Michigan is a beautiful and scenic area to spend time in and I definitely recommend it.
2.) California: A classic Route 66 road trip is a bucket list must-have. It is about a week long trip, but it is so fun. There are plenty of cool roadside attractions to see (like a giant whale and Cadillac ranch). Yes, you will have to stay in random cities if you don’t plan to drive it straight through — which I wouldn’t, being in the car that long would be horrendous — but that is part of the charm. Plus, you end in Santa Monica and could take a quick Harry Potter-related detour.
3.) Alaska: I know this sounds crazy, but this bad boy is what my friends and I are attempting this summer. This is the first road trip that took serious planning — California only took a day to plan and Alaska has been 4 months in the making — but I definitely recommend it for nature lovers. You can stop in Glacier National Park and even in Banff, British Columbia. We’re even going to take a pit stop in the Yukon Territory. This is only for seasoned road trippers who have a knack for camping as well, due to the lack of towns up North. This is truly the mother lode of road trips and would be an amazing life adventure.
So there you have it, UIUC – my list of road trip ideas. I cannot emphasize enough that a road trip is a summer must-have. You have all summer to truly do what you want, so why not add an adventure with friends to the mix? Life is an adventure, so make it a legendary one.