The Autobahn or the Corniche seem to be more Rick Steves' speed, but he's about to embark on a great American road trip.
The guru of European travel is going to be turning up in some unexpected places: Boise, Dayton and Des Moines are all on the list.
Steves will launch his 20-city road trip in Richland, Wash. on March 3. He joins Kerri Miller Wednesday to talk about his plans.
Video: Rick Steves in Ronda, Spain
Where would you send Rick if you were drawing his map?
Is there a beautiful place in our region--and beyond--that he shouldn't miss?
Itasca State park and the headwaters of the Mississippi River
He should take his family to the the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Is there a more beautiful place on earth?
SoutheastMN and NortheastIA are a gorgeous areas; unglaciated topography with beautiful river bluffs, healthy small towns, friendly folks.
Yellowstone National Park - one of the must see sights of the world. If you aren't already an ardent naturalist, you will leave the park as one!
Rick, please go through Minnesota and Iowa to North Carolina and then the east coast somewhere! We are planning this route for a 10 day trip this August with our 4, 7 and 10 year old and would love it if you vet that route before us!
I recommend following State highways as much as possible (I've made MANY cross-country trips).
State Hwys (as opposed to US Hwys and Interstates) provide the best compromise between scenery and getting somewhere.)
I like the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania.
He needs to go to the Hopi Reservation in northern Arizona.
See Walpi, the longest habitated town in north america. It compares favorably to the old Roman ruins he mentioned.
Contact Barbara Poley of the Hopi Community Foundation to set it up.
Read about The Hopi Reservation.
The bluffs by LaCrosse and Winona are beautiful!
That's Owyhee State Park (said like "Hawaii") it was named by people from Hawaii. See it!
Highway 101 in on the Oregon Coast between Yachats (yah-hawts) and Florence is the most beautiful drive I've ever seen; sheer cliffs, gorgeous views of the Pacific, and beautiful forests to hike. Plus, Yachats has the Splendid Table-recommended Green Salmon Coffee and Tea.
From Lewiston Idaho to enterprise Oregon - wallowa mountains. Beautiful hairpin drive through the canyons.
Lake Tahoe (either the Nevada or California side). Emerald Bay is gorgeous and if you have time Carson City and Reno have plenty to do. If you want historic Virginia City is awesome.
Photo by drburtoni via CC/Flickr
For a Norske vibe and great college town flavor... Nortfield MN. St. Olaf and Carlton College are there and the town slogan is Colleges Cows and Contentment. Also, drive along the Mississipi on the Wi side and hit Lake Pepin. Great little craft shops and beautiful sailing. Eat at the Pickle Factory on your way through!
I second the OR Coast road US 101. I strongly recommend eastern Oregon.
High points: Steen's Mountain, Alvord Desert and hot springs, Criterion Summit (desert pass with views of all the Cascade Volcanoes from Mt. Adams to The Sisters), and Malheur Wildlife Refuge.
If Rick is going to Des Moines, he should visit the The National Balloon Museum & U. S. Ballooning Hall of Fame in Indianola, Iowa.
If you're going to Dayton, take a detour to the east and see the Hopewell burial mounds in Chillocothe.
It is also an interesting part of Ohio, where the Great Lakes/Midwest state blends into Appalachia.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in the upper part of Michigan. It is absolutely breathtaking. Cliffs, hiking trails, white sand beaches and of course, Lake Superior.
I loved his perspective on Cannabis and how it will change America and the world. Does he really believe it may be the world's most utilitarian plant?
How about a couple of low-brow cultural highlights, like spots visited by National Lampoon's Vacation? Pee-Wee's Big Adventure? or the Muppet Movie? Who doesn't love those huge road-side sculptures, the World's Biggest Ball of Twine or the Corn Palace in Iowa?
Jewel Cave National Park. Black Hills. The SECOND LONGEST CAVE in the WORLD! Great tours, including Historic Lantern Tour and Wild Caving Tour.
I'd like to encourage Rick to go to Belle Fourche, SD (pronounced "bell foosh") which is the town closest to the geographic center of the nation.
Belle Fourche is north of the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota, so the terrain is a little different (more rolling hills/prairies). The sunrises and sunsets there never fail to stir my heart, and my sister will make Rick the most fantastic omelet breakfast he's ever had in his life.
Canyons and other natural wonders of Utah.
I share your love of cultural diversity. It might be interesting if you look for the ways that various regions European and international roots show through ie in food, language, music etc.
Who is the Rick Steve's of the US?
Steves hasn't heard of BWCA and has never been to Yellowstone? He has a lot of learning to do.
Boundary Waters - must go in last 1/2 of May or last 1/2 of August to avoid worst of bugs
Chattanooga, TN. Beautiful!
Zion National Park in Utah is amazing, and upstaged the Grand Canyon for me. Also, Yellowstone/Grand Tetons/ and Big Horn National Park is a drive not to be missed. Incredibly beautiful and diverse landscape in a relatively short distance.
Several places that don't deviate much from Steve's route would include the Sand Hills of Nebraska...specifically, Valentine, NE, a wonderful town and natural area. Also, skip Des Moines for Mason City (River City, from the Music Man, with lots of Prairie School archtecture) and Dubuque. Be sure to ride the incline (funicular) in Dubuque.
Two places....Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Gunnison CO. Majestic and spectacular!
Ed note: I love the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, too.
Oops, correction. Jewel Cave is a National Monument.
If Rick Steves comes to Minnesota and visits the BWCA, he should drive just a little west and visit our Minnesota National Park, Voyageurs, go by boat and eat dinner at the Kettle Falls Hotel and visit the Ellsworth Rock Gardens on Kabetogama
Tell Rick that when he goes to Dayton, he MUST make a side trip; to Yellow Springs -- !! A sweet old hippie town -- the college town of Antioch University Sweet little town with little cafes .... and be sure to stop at Young's Jersey Dairy on your way for the greatest milkshake and a donut. :-)
Bill Bryson's book about traveling America.
National Quilt Museum, Paducah, KY www.quiltmuseum.org
Send Steve to Liberal, Kansas. He would be home. In name only.
We just discovered the barrier islands of Georgia where the rich and famous played in the gilded age--very interesting and no one in Minnesota knows about it.
Cumberland island is a national seashore that used to be owned by the Carnegies complete with wild horses.
Rick's gotta do New Orleans - It's one of the best cultural towns in the US! He ought not fail to check out the plantations in the surrounding LA environs too.
The wonderful book "Blue Highways" by William Least Heat Moon is an awesome travel companion
Also, seeing that he hasn't seen Yellowstone, Glacier National Park is, in my humble opinion, one of the most fantastic places in the US. The road Going to the Sun road is awesome
If he gets out to southern California go to long beach and see the queen mary
Thermopolis, Wyoming has the best dinosaur display I've seen.
Also great geology. Getting there through Wind River Canyon is spectacular. Not far from the Tetons and Jackson.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison is only 2 hours from Grand Junction!
North unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Theodore Roosevelt Park. Credit: loyaldefender2004 via CC & flickr.
The Black Hills and Badlands cannot be missed. Great diversity of scenery, history, and geology.
Seconding the Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mtn NP and the Thompson Canyon.
Apostle island national lakeshore, w a stop in lapointe wisc.
I agree that Thermopolis WY has an amazing dinosaur museum.
And the Wind River Canyon is close by and provides a breathtaking drive, often with views of bighorn sheep.
Cody WY has so much amazing scenery in the immediate area and a rich history. And its right next to Yellowstone, which you've got to see!
Be sure to visit the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City.
It has many Remington sculptures and some great portraits of Gunsmoke characters.
Rick should stop in Dahlonega, Georgia, north of Atlanta -- charming site of America's least-known gold rush, in 1828.
Yes to the Queen Mary.
Amtrak takes you right to the Queen Mary via the coastal starlight. It takes you through scenery you cannot access by highway.
I'd been an adventure tour leader for years and the two places I will go to again and again are Zion National Park and Yosemite National Park.
I am with Kathryn T - Black Canyon of the Gunnison is spectacular! Must see the Colorado Monument before... Drive through the Collegiate Mountains at Buena Vista.
While he's at Hopi he can also check out the Grand Canyon and Winslow, Arizona, on the corner of the Eagles fame...standing on the corner of Winslow Arizona!
Enjoy Golden Gate Park then the road to Harbin Hot Springs California, stay there, clothing optional, for at least 3 days.
The Italian Market in South Philadelphia; Cape May, NJ, and the Cape May - Lewes (DE) ferry; almost anywhere on the north end of the Eastern Shore of Maryland, particularly oft-overlooked Chestertown, MD (a great colonial town not much developed since 1800 that has its own, wonderful, Tea Party re-enactment and parade on Memorial Day weekend); and the rolling hills of Lancaster, PA.
Rick, I recommend Gallup, New Mexico. Be the minority in a native culture while enjoying fantastic scenery.
Book recommendations for the trip: "Undaunted Courage" by Stephen Ambrose and "Lonesome Dove" by Larry McMurtry
Dahlonega's a small county seat -- about 5,000 people I think -- with neat old buildings. I "discovered" it years ago when traveling and speaking at colleges around the U.S.
Homestead National Monument in Nebraska www.nps.gov
Go to Rockville, Indiana for the Covered Bridge Festival 12-21 OCT 12. They list Parke County as the covered bridge capital of the world.
My first travel adventure right out of high school was riding the Empire Builder from Minneapolis to Richland, WA.
Consider a train trip for one your future trips. You can hope off and on, maybe host events on the train as you travel...
Trails End Museum in Independence, Missouri - interesting stuff!
Blanchard Springs Caverns near Mountain View, Arkansas and the Colorado National Monument, a gorgeous drive through park near Grand Junction, Colorado.
Most people wouldn't think of Des Moines, Iowa as a destination for art, but the Des Moines Art Center is a little known treasure in the Midwest.
The 3 wings of the museum were designed by 3 world renown architects - Eliel Saarinen, I.M. Pei, and Richard Meier. The art is a fabulous mix of old and new - Grant Wood, Edward Hopper, Robert Rauschenburg, Jeff Koons, and Kara Walker. A definite "must visit" if you are in the area.
@kerrimpr Iowa: grotto in West Bend, Must eat Dutch letters in Pella, Terrace Hill, the governors mansion in Des Moines, Amana Colonies
Every good road trip needs a great sound track! I'm happy that you will hit Memphis.
Stax and Sun Studios are wonderful visits. They both have great compilations. The Legendary Story of Sun Records and Stax 50th Anniversary Celebration.
Audio books are also great. A friend and I listened to Bryson's A Walk in the Woods on a road trip to North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky last fall.
Take the drive along the Mississippi on highway 61, between Redwing, MN and LaCrosse, WI.
So lovely anytime of year. Maybe next year? I think Charles Keralt raved about this drive. I live in Winona, MN - I rave about it all the time!
Decorah Iowa is located in ne iowa in the "Little Switzerland" area. It has the Vesterheim Nowrwegian National Museum that shows the impact of Norwegian immigrants, their art and culture as well as the Seed Savers Exchange, one of the places trying to maintain open-pollinated seeds that are so quickly becoming lost.
I would him do a historical journey on the cultivation of Hemp in America, it's prohibition and suppression as the racially associated "marihuana", and it's resurgence in this new era of information and consciousness as Cannabis. Thinking is the best way to travel. May we have great abundance to travel in the manner most appropriate to person and planet.
Travel to the center of the heart-mind :)
Here's more on Dahlonega from the georgia.gov site: "gold had been discovered on Cherokee land in North Georgia, and the Native Americans were forced to leave their home... 'Dahlonega' is Cherokee for 'golden color' or 'yellow money'. The city still has places where visitors can recreationally pan for gold. The Dahlonega Gold Museum, the states oldest public building, is housed in the old Lumpkin County courthouse."
I second Decorah!
and I agree with the Valentine, Nebraska comment, a very lovely hidden jewel.
More about Valentine, Nebraska.
Nebraska - Kansas - Oklahoma Hey Rick!
Rick at the end of your trip you should head North to Camden Maine.
I worked there last summer on a Tall Ship. This town has the largest fleet of windjammers in the country. It's also very close to Acadia National Park. I suggest you head up there in May and go sailing. Say hi to Capt. Mike on the Angelique!
@KerriMPR Rick should check out Garden of the Gods while he's in Colorado Springs. The rock formations are awe-inspiring
@KerriMPR - LaPointe, WI ... Madeline Island ... Tom's Burned Down Cafe ... That's something Rick needs to experience. :)
don't know if I missed this already...avoid all interstate highways
Take the Roadside Geology guide books.
@KerriMPR in Independence, Kansas, Laura I Wilders Little House on the Prairie musuem; Mansfield, MO, her main museum w/Pa'sfiddle, etc
@kerrimpr Also effigy mounds in NE Iowa. In Oklahoma, south of OKC there is a place called Paul's Valley. Not to be missed!
Hi Stephanie. Please tell Rick he should drop South from Kennewick and visit Wallowa Lake in NE Oregon and then head over to Hell's Canyon and the Snake River Valley before heading East to Boise. It is beautiful there.
Is he traveling by RV? FUN!!
@KerriMPR Collegeville MN! Historic St. John's Abbey, St. John's Bible, monastic community, lakes & woods, and birth place of MPR!
@KerriMPR Rick should stop at "Pops" on Route 66 just NE of OKC. They sell thousands of types of soda pop from around the world.
KANSAS is between OK and Neb. From Oklahoma to KC, take a detour to Branson, MO.
Skip the entertainment, visit Marvel Cave, with an entrance room which has held a hot air balloon. Kansas City, visit the display of the ARABIA, amazing display of a 19th Century river boat.
I highly recommend the Black Hills in western South Dakota. within a 135 miles of Mount Rushmore are 6 National Parks, including the #2 and #4 longest caves in the world, the largest state park in the US, and some of the nicest small towns and museums.
The Lonliest Road, highway 50 through Nevada and Utah.
Also Lehman Caves in Nevada in the Great Basin National Park.
@KerriMPR Cornell outside of des moins...jewel of the prairie...louis sullivan bank...awesome
The modern architecture of the small town of Columbus, Indiana has been written up by every major newspaper travel section, and has examples by nearly every modernist architect and sculptor. Pei, Saarinen, Meier, Moore…..
Be sure to visit Lake Wobegon!
Seconding Hwy 50 across NV: AMAZING!
Hello, agreed Dutch Letters are great. They are pastries that have almond paste inside and my dad makes them as an S shape. I am not sure if they have to be shaped that way but that is how we make them.
Rick should visit the Royal Gorge in Canon City, Colorado, on his way to the Sangre de Cristo mountain range, which might be the most beautiful hidden gem in the state. If he's brave enough, Rick should try the class 5 white-water rapids in the Gorge as well!
@KerriMPR near Yellow Springs, OH, Clifton Mill is interesting for the hubcap-size pancakes! yummy! Old grist mill in view, too. Earthy!
...ALSO in Des Moines is the BEST TACO restuarant: TASTY TACOS ....You must try TASTY TACOS!!!
You must stop by the Knoxville Zoo in Tennessee. They have an incredible display of endangered Red Pandas. The enclosure is like an aviary so you can walk through the trees with the pandas---there are no barriers between you and the animals! Very cool.
Dutch Letter are S-shaped pastries with guey filling.
Bring along the Sterns Road food book.
Go to the Flaming Gorge, it stretches between WY and UT for close to 80 miles. It's a very cool body of water.
If you're in Colorado, you have to go to Great Sand Dunes National Monument in the Sangre de Cristo mountains. It's a natural sand dune high up in the Rocky Mountains - AMAZING!
Go through North Dakota and see the Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile historic site and see where the Cold War was won. history.nd.gov
Dutch Letters are a wonderful pastry using almond paste. The name is actually banket. You can get them in the bakeries of lots of towns with Dutch Immigrants (Sioux Center, IA; Orange City, IA; Edgerton, MN). The bakery in Pella is Jaarsma Bakery. www.jaarsmabakery.com
www.enstrom.com Enstrom Candy company in Grand Junction, CO. OMG - it is the best toffee ever made!
Visit all the Frank Lloyd Wright public spaces. There are quite a few along the way. Look at savewright.org for locations.
If you go across southern South Dakota, you must read the beginning of "IN the Center of the Nation" by Dan O'Brien - best describes the beauty of desolation
You need to see kerney nb and the north platte museum with the history of the wagon trails. You can also see the actual trails along the interstate near CO
A modest sidetrip in west-central wisconsin. Go to Sparta, on I-90, rent bikes and head south on the Sparta bike trail, built on an old railroad bed.
Stop in the little towns, watch for Amish buggies and Amish people. Beautiful rolling country, but the highlight -- three incredible rail tunnels, all built in 1873, two are 1/4 mile long and the other a half a mile.
Bring a flashlight. In the long one, you will get wet, from springs in the hill overhead dripping down into the tunnel. And if you own bikes, start in Kendall and go north thru the tunnels, stay overnight in Sparta and bike back to Kendall the next day.
As a prairie biologist, I stronglyy recomend that you visit Konza Prairie - it will tie together the prairie landscape, charistmatic megafauna (bison) and the William Least-Heat Moon book Blue Highway.
Roadside Geology guide books describe the geology you are seeing on the highway, including what you can see in the road cutouts.
In Des Moines, visit the Des Moines Art Museum which has buildings by Saarinen, Pei and Meier.
Good you are using "Roadfood." They have an online site. Also try "Roadside America" for all the "muffler men" and other oddities along the way.
Caller mentioned Sedona, AZ. I agree it's stunning, but if you love Sedona, the drive from Moab to Cisco, Utah is out of this world! It's 25 miles, but plan 1 to 2 hours to stop for photos or just take in the views!
How ridiculous to not know Kansas is between Oklahoma & Nebraska.
A truly beautiful land -- enjoy the prairie and the sky and stay off I-70 and I-35. Visit The Garden of Eden in Lucas and Nicodemus Historical Site in Nicodemus. www.garden-of-eden-lucas-kansas.com and www.nps.gov
Also recommended for exploring the Midwest: The Necessity of Empty Places by Paul Gruchow.
(ED notes: Gruchow's book is a great idea. I second it.)
New Harmony, Indiana, is a great old utopian community on the border of Indiana and Illinois. They have a great museum, great historic tours of the town, and today attracts a great community of artists and musicians.
Travel book recommendations:
Jupiter's Travels (Simon), One-Man Caravan (Fulton), The Log of the Sea of Cortez (Steinbeck), Two Years Before the Mast (Dana), Motoring with Mohammad (Hanson), The Songlines (Chatwin), Canoeing with the Cree (Sevareid), The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons (Powell), Undaunted Courage (Ambrose)
@KerriMPR Spring Grove first Norwegian settlement in MN GENETIC TESTING Tourism Giants of the Earth Heritage Center heritage travel
@KerriMPR Rick should check out Old Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain Nat'l Park in Colorado. And, he should listen to books on tape!
Rick should travel Highway 177 through Strong City and Council Grove, Kansas.
Largest stretch of intact tallgrass prairie left in U.S. Cowboy history. Indian Territory history. Tallgrass Prairie National Park.
Great college town in Manhattan, Kansas. The Big Blue River. Hikes on the Konza Prairie with views of the bison herd. A great route from Oklahoma to Kansas. Read PrairyErth by William Least-Heat Moon along the way.
If you are driving from Nashville to Memphis you should drive a bit of the Natchez Trace Parkway, which follows the route of the old Natchez Trace which ran between Nashville and Natchez Mississippi.
Wonderful history and sights!
And in between Nashville and Memphis make a side visit to Shiloh National Battlefield, the best preserved Civil War battlefield in the nation as it looked to the troops at the time of the battle in the 1860's.
In Memphis you gotta see Graceland in all its tacky glory, but also the Civil Rights Museum in downtown Memphis; and then go over to the Rondezvous restaurant for the best barbecue pork ribs in the world.
Then visit the downtown churches, all of which predate the Civil War, and see the sights commemorating the yellow fever epidemic which wiped out Memphis in the 1870s. (Especially the monument to the Episcopal nuns who died nursing the fever victims.)
Read "The Reivers" by Faulkner, a lot of which is set in Memphis; and the excerpt on the battle of Shiloh by Shelby Foote out of his massive 3 volume work on the Civil War.
And if you ever plan to come to South Dakota, read "Giants in the Earth" by O.E. Rolevag, about the early Norweigian settlers in eastern South Dakota, a classic.
The Great River Road and Lake Pepin, in WI. Stockholm WI is the heart of the region - a town of 66 people.... filled with amazing galleries, boutiques, stunning lodging and great food - including the world famous Stockholm Pie Company. The village is charming, the scenery unexpected - towering cliffs clinging to the river - unlike anything you would expect in the midwest.
Adding to what others said about Sedona (and don't miss the chapel on the hill there)...
Take AZ route 89A between Flagstaff and Jerome. Best drive of my life. Just north of Sedona, the road is flanked by a creek on one side and beautiful exposed rock cliffs on the other, changing gradually from red to white, and a tree canopy overhead.
Driving across prairie? Look for large flocks of birds. Watching flight patterns as you drive are like meditation. For Omaha go to the Mattress Museum and Artist co-op. Great spaces for art and studios. The artists are very open to questions as the work and happy to show off their studios.
One more thing: Memphis has a number of beautiful parks, but two very interesting are Forrest Park, dedicated to Confederate General (and KKK founder!) Nathan Bedford Forrest, complete with statue; and Tom Lee Park along the river, dedicated to a black man, Tom Lee, who saved a number of people who otherwise would have drowned when their river steamboat exploded; he rowed his boat out to the sinking steamboat and pulled people out of the water, brought them to shore, then went out again.
Quite a study in contrasts; plus the view from Tom Lee Park is beautiful of the river.
Will these comments be archived for future reference? Thanks.
(Ed's note: They will! There will be a tab at the top of the feature page that says "chat archive.")
Soundtrack ideas - Tom Petty's "Highway Companion," John Hiatt's "The Open Road," and The Lost Dogs' "Scenic Routes"
From Rick: Rick:
Include Lansing Iowa on your travels.
We are about 999 people nesteled in the bluffs along the Mississippi River about 45 minutes south of LaCrosse, WI. The scenery is beautiful. We are in the heart of the Driftless Area and the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge. Its full of bluffs, rivers, trout streams, all kinds of birds, ducks. Great people. Our town was just added to the list of Iowa Main Street Cities.
Thanks for the GREAT European guidebooks.
My family was 1st generation Americans and had no interest in the Old Country, but took every opportunity to take us around the good old USA. It wasn't until my 40's that I got brave enough to get to Europe and am hooked now.
However, if you want to see the 'real' USA, there is no better way than from a bike. In lieu of the bike, atleast follow the maps and guidebooks published by Adventure Cyclist, www.adventurecycling.org
Follow the original white explorers, Lewis and Clark, while in Idaho. In Tennessee pick up The Natchez Trace and follow the footsteps of those that had floated their goods down the Mississippi and then walked home on the Natchez (Meriwether Lewis died along the Natchez). Finally, look into the Underground Railroad and see what most people don't even know that it exists.
HAVE FUN and LISTEN to Mark Twain's writings as you travel through the Plains States.
The WW I museum, the Thomas Hart Benton House, and BBQ, all in Kansas City MO.