Uniquely American Holiday Road Trip Ideas

Fun and Unique Holiday Road Trip Ideas

While summer is often considered the prime road trip season, I love to explore new places all year round. Road trips in particular, are a great way to see the places between the places and experience new local cultures, traditions and more. Here are some of my favorite holiday road trip ideas from around the country.


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While I love the sense of adventure and opportunity to explore during my road trips, the other big advantage is that it can generally be a great way to save money while traveling – especially if you are doing it with friends or family. Gas though is still going to be one of your primary expenses and that’s why I always carry my Fuel Rewards card with me. I also have the app installed on my phone. Not only can I save money when I visit a Shell station (or more depending on what rewards I’ve earned), but it also helps me find the gas prices at nearby Shell stations too.

You can signup here and right now they are running an offer for Instant Gold Status where you can save 5 cents per gallon (up to 20 gallons).

Tips For Picking An Awesome Holiday Road Trip Destination

Winter road trips have a unique challenge that summer, fall, and spring road trips don't - weather! Specifically snow and ice that might make those passages through mountains and valleys a bit more challenging. Don't worry though, there are still plenty of places where you can go an explore how Christmas is celebrated in different parts of the country while minimizing your exposure to dangerous snow and ice driving.

1. Look for destinations close to home or close to a major airport. This allows you to ultimately reduce the amount of time "driving" and increases your ability to enjoy the destination.

2. Consider "Point-to-Point" trips instead of circuits where you return to the same airport.

3. Don't completely eliminate snowy destinations - but be prepared for challenging conditions by checking road reports and always keeping plenty of gas in your tank. Also make sure to carry supplies such as road flares, a flashlight, extra water and snacks too.

4. Pick a destination where you'll get to experience the wonder and joy of Christmas in new and unique ways. We have an amazingly vast nation and while we have a common heritage, each of us celebrates the holidays a bit different. I can't think of any better way to explore these holiday traditions than with a road trip!

houmas house plantation visit new orleans plantation country

New Orleans Plantation County

One of the really special things about this time of year is the beautiful holiday decorations, music, and food. Louisiana’s Plantation Country is located just up river from New Orleans so it makes for an easy destination to fly into and rent a car.

There are ten main plantations that you can visit here and each of them is decorated for the season in antebellum fashion. Additionally, there are special events like Oak Alley Plantation’s Annual Christmas Bonfire Party. Throughout the season you’ll be able to see other bonfires on the levees along the Mississippi river, a tradition dating back hundreds of years.

In case you still want do get your adventure on, don’t worry – swamp tours, Cajun food, and other adventures are still going on during winter too!

Road Trip to a Bowl Game

Because of distance and game schedules, a Bowl Game Road Trip might be a better option for some fans vs others. However, when you think about it, a road trip gives you the chance to bond with your buddies before the game and you won’t have to worry about renting a car when you get there.

A variation on this theme for those that have to fly, would be to combine two trips into one. For instance – if there’s a game in Tampa, Florida, you might all fly there … but then visit a few different golf resorts in the area before or after the game.

avalon bed and breakfast florida keys

Visit the Florida Keys

You might not think about The Florida Keyes being all that “Christmasy” but while “The Keys” are known for doing things a bit differently, you’ll love the decorated palm trees, homes, and lighted boat parades here.

This year is going to be a special one since the people who live here are celebrating their quick recovery and businesses are excited to welcome people back. While the water might be too chilly for most people to hang out at the beach, there are plenty of awesome things here ranging from the new Papas Pillar Distillery in Key West where “Hemingway’s Whiskey” is born, fishing charters, art galleries and great culinary options throughout the Keys too.

Explore California’s Pacific Coast Highway

From San Diego to San Francisco, you’re going to find a different sort of holiday spirit in California. Like the Florida Keys, we love to decorate our palms with lights, but here you’ll have the chance to see the Mexican cultural influence as well as explore wineries, distilleries, and breweries with seasonal selections on tap.

christmas lights farolitos credit tourism santa fe new mexico

Christmas in Santa Fe

Santa Fe is a “must visit” destination any time of year but at Christmas it is especially beautiful and a great opportunity to experience holiday traditions in a different way that almost anywhere else in the United States. While Santa Fe does have an airport, it makes a great reason to hit the road going south from Denver (about six hours) or East from Phoenix (about seven and a half hours). Of course, you can even fly into Albuquerque and drive up if you live farther away.

Once you arrive in Santa Fe, you’ll be treated to one of the most unique Christmas celebrations in the country. Along with hot cider, cookies, caroling, and lights you’ll also notice homes decorated with chili garlands and rooftops adorned with luminarias.

Travel Through Classic New England Towns and Villages

There's probably no more iconic American holiday destination than visiting classic New England towns and villages during Christmas. While I'm dreaming of a white christmas, even with no snow on the ground you'll find New Englanders are prepared for the season with a range of celebrations from lighted lobster boats on the coast to romantic town commons with decorated trees throughout the region. Plus, there's going to be plenty of apple cider, donuts, maple candy, and other treats along the way. 

Wherever you head, make sure to carry your Fuel Rewards card. If you don't already have one, you can signup here. Right now they are running an offer for Instant Gold Status where you can save 5 cents per gallon (up to 20 gallons).

Uniquely American Holiday Road Trip Ideas


*Restrictions apply. To qualify for the Gold/Silver Status offers, you must be a Fuel Rewards® member and swipe your Fuel Rewards® card or enter your Alt ID when you fuel at a participating Shell station. With Gold Status, you will receive 5¢/gal in Fuel Rewards® savings on every fill-up. The 5¢/gal reward for Gold Status will be combined with other rewards in your Fuel Rewards® account. If you are an existing Fuel Rewards® member, you will receive Gold Status from 6/5/2017 through 12/31/17, the "Existing Member Introductory Period." If you are a new Fuel Rewards® member, you will receive Gold Status for the initial month you join through the last day of the month, 6 full calendar months later, the "New Member Introductory Period." The last 3 months of the Existing Member Introductory Period or the New Member Introductory Period (collectively the "Introductory Period") is the "Qualification Period." You will retain your Gold Status during the Qualification Period, but you must make 6 qualifying fuel purchases to qualify for Gold Status for the next 3 months, the "Benefit Period." During the Benefit Period, you must continue to make 6 qualifying fuel purchases to maintain your Gold Status for the next 3-month Benefit Period. A qualifying fuel purchase is any fuel purchase at a participating Shell station in which you swipe your Fuel Rewards® card or enter your Alt ID and fill up with at least 5-gallons of any grade of fuel. For example, if you are a new Fuel Rewards® member and register on 6/15/2017, you will receive Gold Status through the New Member Introductory Period (i.e., 12/31/2017). You will need to fill up with at least 5 gallons of fuel at least 6 times during the Qualification Period (i.e., 10/1/2017 and 12/31/2017) to maintain Gold Status during the Benefit Period (i.e., from 1/1/2018 to 3/31/2018). Thereafter, if you continue to fill up with at least 5 gallons of fuel at least 6 times during the successive 3 consecutive month Benefit Periods, you will retain your Gold Status. If you do not maintain your Gold Status, you will receive Silver Status. With Silver Status, you will receive 3¢/gal in Fuel Rewards® savings. The 3¢/gal reward for Silver Status will be combined with other rewards in your Fuel Rewards®account. Redeem Fuel Rewards® savings with your Fuel Rewards® card or Alt ID at participating Shell stations. Fuel Rewards® savings are limited to 20 gallons of fuel per purchase, per vehicle, or fraud limits placed by Shell and/or limits placed on your financial card by your financial institution, each of which may be lower. Fuel Rewards® savings must be redeemed in a single transaction. Once you begin to dispense fuel using your Fuel Rewards® savings, you must dispense to the 20-gallon limit or you forfeit any remaining discounted gallons of fuel. For example, if you only pump fifteen (15) gallons of fuel, you would abandon the remaining five (5) gallons of discounted fuel. If you have a rewards balance greater than the current per-gallon price of fuel, the price will roll down to the maximum capability of the fuel equipment, and your remaining rewards will be saved for a future fuel purchase. Dispenser may require a price of up to 10.9¢/gal. It may not be possible to combine multiple discounts and/or rewards in a single transaction. For purchases of $75 or more, please go inside to pay. Unbranded diesel and alternative fuels may not be eligible. The Fuel Rewards®program is owned and operated by Excentus Corporation. Offer may be modified or discontinued at any time without notice. Not valid where prohibited by law. Please see fuelrewards.com for complete Fuel Rewards® program.

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