Road Trips

Road trips you never thought you'd take

Ah, the road trip. A style of travel at once so full of possibilities and so marred by cliché, novel and ubiquitous in equal measure. Even if you’ve never taken one, it’s easy to be sick of road trips, if only due to their place in pop culture: A quick Google search of “best road trip movies” yields more than 62,000,000 results. Be not cynical, however, exacting explorer. There’s still plenty of (relatively) beaten path for you to walk—or drive on, as it were.

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Canada's Frozen Freeway

One reason to choose Calgary over Canada’s traditional gay-teways of Montréal, Toronto and Vancouver is the plentiful supply of cowboys. Another is the Rocky Mountains, which sit less than two hours west of the city via the Trans-Canada Highway, and nestle one of the world’s best road trips in their crevices.

From Banff, drive northward along Alberta’s Highway 93, which not only gets you up-close and personal with fluorescent lakes and endless evergreen forests but massive glaciers. Park your car when you reach Columbia Icefield and take a Glacier Adventure: Walk above a frozen ravine on the terrifying “skywalk” or, if you dare, on the glacier itself. You can also book this experience as a day trip from Jasper.

SLEEP: You could spend days driving up and down the Icefields Parkway, but you’ll need to spend the night at one of the national parks at either end. Luxury is limited around these parts and is mostly of the corporate sort, but history is your bedfellow at the century-old Rocky Mountain Bed and Breakfast in Banff, while The Crimson in Jasper pairs convenience with the comfort of its on-site spa.

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The undisputed highlight, however, is the 12 Apostles, a collection of limestone columns

Kangaroos, Koalas, and the 12 Apostles

Everything about Australia’s Great Ocean Road rocks your world. It connects the dynamic Melbourne with artsy Adelaide; it offers views of marsupials, moors and men surfing; it boasts beautiful weather 365 days per year.

You’ll make countless stops along the Road, which the Australian government commissioned both to honour the fallen of World War I as well as to make driving along the country’s southern coast less of a battle. The undisputed highlight, however, is the 12 Apostles, a collection of limestone columns (note: only eight remain) that formed when the inland sea that occupied most of Australia during prehistory drained.

SLEEP: The 12 Apostles are most stunning at sunrise at sunset—get your 50 winks at 12 Apostles Cottages, whose proximity to the formation is the ultimate luxury, to take advantage of both.

12 Apostles Great Ocean Road

Great Ocean Road, Australia | Photo: Robert Schrader

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The Other (California Highway) 1

California’s coastal Highway 1 is far from a unique choice for a road trip. But while most travellers focus on the laid-back surf spots just north of Los Angeles or the beautiful beaches of Big Sur near San Francisco, take your time exploring the lesser-known central span of the route in San Luis Obispo county.

Morro Rock, for example, is a “volcanic cap” and America’s equivalent to the rock of Gibraltar, while the mysterious skies and lighthouses of towns like Cambria and San Simeon evoke Virginia Woolf’s California adventure, had she taken one. Munch on artisanal organic fare at the Gardens of Avila restaurant, or sip central coast Chardonnay at Cayucos Cellars, which overlooks a trapped-in-time beach town of the same name.

SLEEP: Although there isn’t much in the way of five-star accommodation along this part of Highway 1, exclusivity defines the super-boutique Estero Inn, which has only eight rooms and offers endless views of Morro Rock.

California Highway

California Highway 1, Central Coast, US | Photo: Robert Schrader

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