In North Carolina, a collegiate rivalry among neighboring universities in the state’s agricultural center has given a stretch of highway connecting the historic college towns the nickname “Tobacco Road.” In Oklahoma, America’s most famous road, Route 66, takes a turn to the west — geographically and culturally. When planning your own road trip through the Deep South or the Wild West, consider these five stops.
Raleigh, North Carolina
Begin your adventure in Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina, with a stop at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Spend a few hours touring the exhibits and the live animal displays, and move on to Pullen Park, one of the oldest operating amusement parks in the world. Book a hotel downtown for easy access to the museums, the North Carolina Capitol, and the campus of North Carolina State University.
Durham, North Carolina
Raleigh’s neighbor and home of Duke University, Durham offers visitors its own brand of southern charm. Choose a hotel close to campus for an easy walk to the university attractions. Take a quiet stroll through the spacious Sarah P. Duke Gardens to see flowers and trees from around the world. While on campus, make sure to visit the historic Duke University Chapel and Cameron Indoor Stadium and the adjacent Duke Basketball Museum.
Inside the Duke University Chapel | Image via Flickr by Dan Ruth & Ellie Roscher
Greensboro, North Carolina
Maybe none of the nonviolent sit-ins of the American Civil Rights Movement was more famous than that in the Woolworth’s lunch counter in downtown Greensboro. Four college students made headlines and history with their refusal to leave their seats at the whites-only counter in February 1960. That Woolworth’s store is now the can’t-miss International Civil Rights Center and Museum, and the seats at the lunch counter have been preserved exactly as they were on the days of the sit-in. After a reflective visit to this meaningful museum, explore a Revolutionary War battlefield at the Guilford Courthouse National Military Park just outside of town. If you are visiting Greensboro on a road trip, save some money on a hotel outside the city center and drive in.
Head west and hook up with Route 66 in Tulsa. While no longer an official highway, the spirit of this romantic gateway to the West lives on. Capture the classic feel with modern conveniences in a downtown hotel like the Best Western Plus Downtown Tulsa/Route 66 just minutes from the Tulsa Riverwalk and the Woody Guthrie Center, dedicated to one of America’s most influential singer/songwriters.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Continue on Route 66 to Oklahoma City. Before your visit, shop around for the best deal among a wide variety of inexpensive hotel choices. Everyone visiting “OKC” should spend some time at the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum to remember the victims of the 1995 bombing. Visit the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum to learn about the lives of the cowboys and the Native Americans of the American West. Families with kids will not want to miss the Oklahoma City Zoo and the nearby Science Museum Oklahoma.
Markers at the Oklahoma City National Memorial | Image via Flickr by Phil Roeder
These five American classics have something to offer for travelers of all tastes, whether you prefer leafy, humid Southern charm or the enduring spirit of the Wild West.
Cory Hanson is an American travel writer specializing in American and European travel. This is part of a series of American destination posts sponsored by travel search and booking service Hipmunk. Find more Hipmunk posts here, and a full sponsored content disclosure here.