A summer road trip — be it with your best friend, man's best friend, or all by yourself — feels like an American rite of passage. John Steinbeck did it. So did the Griswolds. And so have I. Although I confess that my love of the open road came later in life than it does for most.
I grew up in New Jersey, where, just like in other states with highways and shopping malls, teens are chomping at the bit to get their license. Driver's Ed may be the only time in their lives 16-year-olds beat their parents out of bed, so eager are they to get behind the wheel. Driving is freedom! (To, you know, go to the mall and loiter around drinking soft drinks.)
I was a rare exception: I didn't learn to drive until I was in my mid-20s. And even after I got my license — something I did because it felt like the adult thing to do — I still didn't really get the allure. Cars cost money and had to be parked! I drove only when I really had to (like when I went to Dallas for a work trip and nearly fainted from the pressure of navigating the 10-lane Interstate).
My First Road Trip: Shreveport, Louisiana to Las Vegas, Nevada
And then I went on my first road trip. I was moving from Louisiana to Las Vegas and decided to turn it into a vacation of sorts. For the first leg of the trip, it was just me and my dog, Charlie — who, it turns out, is a very good roadie. We stayed at a fancy hotel in Dallas and the hotel staff stuffed him with treats while I lunched with ladies with big hair and red lips.
In San Antonio, we were joined by a friend and ate tacos before speeding our way across the vast expanse of Texas, deviating slightly off course so that we would hit Marfa, an artsy oasis in the middle of ranches and tumbleweed. We passed through Tucson and Phoenix, stopping at a swish resort to cool our heels, before finally arriving in the neon-lit wonderland of Las Vegas.
(Of course, we stopped at Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix).
To be completely honest, it wasn't the most amazing road trip of all time. Texas, Arizona, and Nevada, independently and back-to-back-to-back, can get extremely tedious, the brown and red landscape never-changing, your foot ever heavier on the gas pedal. But it did open up the possibility of future trips that might be epic — like, for example, any of these food-driven adventures.
From the ultimate Maine lobster road trip to a journey through the Florida Keys in search of the best Key Lime Pie, plus three options for ice-cream lovers and a food- and film-driven route through the South, here are six trips for food-lovers to take before summer is over.