The term "National Scenic Byway" is an official designation bestowed by the US Department of Transportation. To qualify, a route must have archeological, cultural, historic, natural, or recreational significance. Or it can merely offer drop-dead gorgeous panoramas. Let's look at some of the drives our country has to offer:
Maui’s Hana Highway
Hana Highway is a 64.4 mile segment of highway between Kahului and Hana on the island of Maui. It takes two and a half hours to drive this road when no stops are made. But you will want to stop at many stunning vistas. We suggest planning half a day to explore this gem.
Miami to Key West Overseas Highway (pictured)
From Miami to Key West, this 160-mile drive (and engineering marvel) will have you ‘ooh-ing’ and 'aah-ing' the whole way.
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
We wanted to recognize a route that is often overlooked in articles about scenic 'US' drives. Since Puerto Rico is a US Territory, this one qualifies, though many tourists visit it by cruise ship. You could happily get lost in Old San Juan. It’s the oldest settlement in Puerto Rico and on its own little island 35 miles north of the most eastern point of Puerto Rico. You get to it by three bridges that deliver uninterrupted views of the Atlantic Ocean and San Juan Bay.
Pacific Coast Highway
An inspiration for countless feel-good songs, this coastal gem is officially called State Route 1. We recommend doing this one in a convertible or classic VW bus with a surfboard rack on top. If you're planning a trip to the Golden State, you can start up north in Leggett or at the southern end near Dana Point.
Blue Ridge Parkway
Blue Ridge Parkway is not only a Scenic Byway, it's an All-American road. An All-American road must meet two of the "intrinsic qualities" listed previously. Not surprisingly, the Blue Ridge Parkway runs along the spine of the Blue Ridge mountains. It is located on the boundary between Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Cherokee Indian Reservation in North Carolina, from which it travels north to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Don't drive this one too fast. You'll want to appreciate the drop-dead gorgeous vistas. (And avoid a speeding ticket.)
Fortunately, there are still a few segments of this historic road intact. One is a three-hundred-mile section from Chicago, Illinois, to St. Louis, Missouri. On the northeast end, the ‘Mother Road’ of America starts on Adams Street, just west of Michigan Ave. You can get your kicks at several Route 66 museums along the way. Stop for a bite at Dell Rhea's Chicken Basket in Wilmington, Illinois. This vintage roadhouse has been serving hungry motorists since 1946.
Before you head out on your next excursion, schedule a pre-trip inspection at I-86 Truck & Auto Repair in Falconer.