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Top Road Trip Destinations That Steer Clear of Crowds

couple on road trip
Allianz - couple on road trip

Never before have travelers taken to the open road to find even more open spaces like they are now.

Many want to pop their bubbles and escape their homes. But some aren’t quite ready to navigate through big crowds or wait in stout lines.

We understand. And it’s why we’re putting in the work to suggest some domestic destinations that solely require you to gas up and go. (OK, maybe gas up a few times, depending on your landing spot.)

Road trips give us the freedom to plan our own route and pit stops. If we end up anywhere we’re not entirely comfortable, we can always hop back in and rewrite our journey as it unfolds.

Riding in the car can eliminate some of the uncertainty of air travel — for example, losing your luggage is a bit trickier when it’s sitting safely in the trunk. But road trips pose their own potential pitfalls. What if a poorly designed detour prevents you from making it to the lodge where you already made a nonrefundable deposit? Then there are accidents and medical emergencies, which are well documented to be more prevalent on the open road than the friendly skies. Also, trip cancellation is always a concern whether you’re getting from point A to B by plane, train, or automobile.1

Purchasing a travel insurance plan from Allianz Global Assistance gives you a backup plan in case your road trip runs into any uncertainty. While you’re looking for a plan that matches your budget and itinerary, be sure to check out the benefits of renting a car vs. driving your own. (Also look into Allianz’s cost-effective rental car insurance plan: Rental Car Damage Protector).2

Here are our top three suggestions for getting away from your home and the crowds. Buckle up and enjoy the ride!

Steer West: Ranch Road Trips

Ahhh, home on the Range Rover. Where the buffalo roam, and Wranglers are Jeeps, and the covered station wagon has been replace by the minivan.

No matter your vehicle, ranch road trips have taken a bit of a left turn as of late. Yes, you can still plan the family-friendly “dude ranch” experience. For example, Bonanza Creek Country Ranch in Montana’s Big Sky country offers wagon rides, horseback riding, cattle herding, and more. The 25-acre, solar-powered ranch features comfy cabins and requires a six-night minimum stay. And if you don’t show up with a cowboy hat on, you’ll certainly be six gallons heavier when you leave.3

The traditional dude ranch experience is an open-air, wide-open adventure that turns city slickers into real-life westerners for a week or so. But it’s not the only ranch road trip that travelers are packing up for.

Follow the trail about 300 miles west, and you’ll encounter Montana’s Bitterroot Valley, home to Triple Creek Ranch. You’ll find cattle drives at this all-inclusive resort —  as well as some unexpectedly elevated activities and offerings. Try out dogsledding, guided fly fishing tours, and horseback tours tracing the adventures of intrepid explorers Lewis and Clark. After a long day of action, you can kick back and enjoy much more than fireside beans and franks. Here’s the menu includes gourmet cuisine paired with an epic wine list recognized by Wine Spectator — all served with 5-star service. Finally, unwind in your luxury cabin and recharge for another day.4

So, which will it be: the old-school, Old West ranch experience or the modern spin on dude ranch living?

The Florida Beach Road Trip That Avoids the Crowds

How about a road trip followed by a boat trip?

With about 300 homes, Southwest Florida’s North Captiva Island isn’t exactly a deserted island. But it’s a million miles away from the crowds we see on other Sunshine State beaches.

That’s because the barrier island is only accessible by boat (and if you don’t want to jump on one of the two ferries, shelling out for a private plane is also a possibility).

Bordering the Gulf of Mexico, North Captiva is an ideal place to escape the hustle and bustle because there are no cars — just electric golf carts and lots of bikes. It’s a much different story than its sister island, Captiva Island, which is known as more of a tourist haven. (History lesson: the islands were joined until a hurricane split them up in the 1920s).

While North Captiva isn’t known for bright lights or a raucous social scene, it does have restaurants and even a general store (although you’ll want to do any serious shopping on the mainland). The 4-mile island is known for its wide-open beaches where crowds are never a problem. That makes it an ideal spot for birdwatching. And if the conditions are right, you can spy manatees, too.

There are no big chain hotels or sprawling resorts on North Captiva, but rental homes are available. And thanks to homeowner clubs, community pools and rental equipment are available to round out the out-of-the-way experience.5, 6

See the Stars in the Middle of Nowhere

Northern Pennsylvania is located in what’s unofficially known as “the boonies.”

But when you’re located in the middle of nowhere, there’s a benefit that might not be immediately apparent: lack of light pollution and crystal-clear skies.

Cherry Springs State Park, located deep in Susquehannock State Forest, has leveraged its out-of-the-way location as a beacon to stargazers from all over. This includes an Overnight Astronomy Observation Field, which sits atop a 2,300-foot mountain and offers rare 360-degree viewing. (Only red light can be used here. For more casual stargazing without the light restrictions, head over to the nearby Rustic Campground.)

The park is famous for its stellar views of the Milky Way, Northern Lights, constellations, International Space Station, and more.7 A highly doable road trip from anywhere on the East Coast and Midwest, Cherry Springs State Park is most popular in the fall and winter, when the stars and planets are at their biggest and brightest. Be sure to dress warm, bring your binoculars, and blankets. Leave the flashlight and at home.8

You don’t need a crowd to have a good time. Cattle, lonely palm trees, and the Aurora Borealis will do just fine. When planning road trips, just remember that escaping home doesn’t mean leaving your comfort zone — and you’ll already be off on the right foot.

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