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Escape the City This Summer With These Affordable Road Trips

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If you’re ready to travel this summer but can’t go far, there are some destinations that are driving distance from most cities. Peter Greenberg went on CBS Saturday Morning to talk about affordable road trips across the country. No matter where you live, there’s a road trip near you. Watch the video below, then click through to see destinations across the country, from Asheville, North Carolina to Redding, California.

Richmond, Virginia

Population: 210,000

1:50 from Washington, DC
4:00 from Philadelphia
5:30 from New York

Historic Canal Walk Retouched

It’s a rite of passage to visit Washington, DC, but so many people overlook the nearby capital city of Richmond, Virginia, which is just as rich in history, beautiful architecture, great food, and outdoor adventures.

Surprisingly, Virginia is located within a day’s drive of 60 percent of the U.S. population.

Richmond’s Canal Walk is a walkable area that encompasses a lot of history and local culture. It stretches 1.25 miles through downtown Richmond along the banks of the Haxall Canal and the James River & Kanawha Canal. The area includes the 17th Street Farmers Market—which dates back to 1737—one of the oldest public markets in the country.

Richmond is the only urban city with Class III and IV rapids, making it the best urban whitewater in America. The upper section is milder, and the Lower James River is more adventurous. The James River is also a big fishing destination.

The Capitol building was designed by Thomas Jefferson. It’s been home to the General Assembly since 1788, the oldest continuously operating legislature. During the Civil War, the Confederate Congress also met here.

Other major attractions include: Agecroft Hall, a 15th century Tudor Estate on the banks of the James River and the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is considered one of the top botanical gardens in the country.

Asheville, North Carolina

Population: 86,000

2:00 from Charlotte
3:45 from Raleigh
4:20 Lexington

asheville

Asheville is considered a real gem and is located in the Blue Ridge foothills of Western North Carolina. It’s home to artists, foodies, and outdoor adventurers. Downtown Asheville is extremely walkable, with lots of art galleries, local crafts, and boutiques within beautifully restored Art Deco buildings.

Asheville is fast becoming a foodie destination, with 15 farmers markets and more than 250 independent restaurants. It’s also another mecca for microbreweries, believed to have more breweries per capita than any other city in the nation.

The Biltmore Estate is a 250-room mansion, built by George W.  Vanderbilt in 1895. Within the 8,000-acre grounds you can tour the mansion and its gardens, the Biltmore Winery, a farm, and outdoor recreation.

Asheville is the base camp for wilderness adventures: it’s surrounded by one million acres of forest, and it’s the gateway to the Blue Ridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountains, and the Western Carolina Mountains. The wilderness around Asheville alone has more than 2,000 miles of trails. The area is also known for its waterfalls and swimming holes.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a National Parkway and All-American Road that runs for 469 miles through Virginia and North Carolina—and actually runs right through Asheville and dead ends about 50 miles away in Cherokee. It’s the most visited unit of the National Park System in the entire country.

Mount Mitchell, which is accessible from the Blue Ridge Parkway, stands at 6,600 feet in elevation, and is the highest peak in the Appalachians, and the highest in the Eastern United States.

Bloomington, Indiana

Population: 82,000

1:00 from Indianapolis
1:50 from Louisville
3:45 from Chicago

Bloomington - vineyards

Like many college towns, Bloomington has a lot to offer: it’s very walkable with lots of outdoor dining, live music, and bookstores, as well as the amenities of Indiana University itself.

Downtown is dominated by the Monroe County Courthouse, which is made from the limestone that is prevalent in this part of Indiana.

This area is also known for its craft beer and wines. Upland Brewing Company, the state’s largest microbrewery, is in Bloomington. Nearby is the family-run Butler Winery, where you can tour the vineyard and taste wines made from Indiana grapes and other local fruits.

About 10 miles from Bloomington is Lake Monroe, the largest inland lake in the state, popular among locals for boating, fishing, and camping.

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Population: 230,000

1:20 from New Orleans
2:10 from Biloxi
4:00 from Houston

Baton Rouge - Skyline

How many people think New Orleans is the capital of Louisiana? It’s actually Baton Rouge, which offers a great experience in terms of Louisiana culture and cuisine.

As the capital city, there’s a lot to do within Baton Rouge proper: the Riverfront on the banks of the Mississippi River, casinos, live music and tons of restaurants.

Baton Rouge is all about Southern cuisine, from traditional gumbo to more modern interpretations, along with a fun cocktail scene. Tony’s Seafood is a great market where you can see vats of crawfish harvested from the waters, as well as local favorites like crawfish pie and Tony’s muffuletta.

Baton Rouge is known as Plantation Country. Many of the larger plantations have been restored to their former glory, like the Magnolia Mound Plantation House which reflects architecture from early French settlers, built in 1790; and Nottoway Plantation, the largest antebellum mansion in the South.

Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center is the authentic Louisiana swamp experience, with a 65-acre swamp and exhibits in local wildlife and ecology.

Frostop Root Beer is an old American root beer brand. It dates back to 1926 in Springfield, Ohio and is known in the Midwest and deep South. You can taste old-school flavors like root beer, sarsaparilla,and orange cream. In Baton Rouge, the Frostop stand is known for its catfish, fried shrimp and, of course, frosty cold root beer.

Redding, California

Population: 90,000

2:20 from Sacramento
3:15 from San Francisco
4:50 from Eugene

Redding - Shasta Cascade mountains

Redding is in far Northern California, where the mountains meet the lake and lots of nationally protected land.

The famous Sundial Bridge in Redding is celebrating its 10-year anniversary from June 20 through July 4, 2014. Spanning the Sacramento River, it’s an architectural attraction, and features one of the world’s largest sundials. The bridge’s shadow is cast upon a large dial to the north and is accurate on the summer solstice every year. The bridge was designed by the noted Spanish architect-engineer-artist Santiago Calatrava.

The popular Market Street Promenade is where locals gather, covering 12 acres with more than 50 local businesses and restaurants. Redding and the entire Shasta Cascade region is extremely dog-friendly, so you can make it a getaway for the entire family.

Redding is the gateway to all kinds of outdoor adventures in Shasta Cascade. Mount Shasta is a volcano that stands over 14,000 feet—the highest peak in Northern California—and is the fifth highest in California proper. It’s always covered in snow, but the best times to hike is June and July.

About 10 miles from Redding is Shasta Lake. Like Mount Shasta, it’s part of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest and is great for boating, rafting, paddleboarding, and fishing.

Within this region is the very cool Lassen Volcanic National Park. It’s a much less crowded alternative to Yellowstone, boiling over with smoking fumerols and bubbling mudpots, with jagged mountain peaks and crystal clear waters.

Want to read more about road trips? Check out:

By Sarika Chawla for PeterGreenberg.com

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